RAY OF HOPE: Although 2016 took some great musicians, it gave us plenty to be hopeful for—like Eric Victorino’s solo material.
This year started with a punch to the gut, as legendary singer-songwriter-supernova David Bowie was taken from us. Then Prince died. Then Leonard Cohen gave up the ghost. Finally—as if playing the part of the unrepentant Grinch on its way out—2016 took George Michael from us on Christmas Day. But let’s not dwell on the past. There was plenty of good music news in 2016—especially of the local variety. Here’s a look at some of the highlights.
Antwon The Anticon
Antwon is one of the biggest hip-hop artists to come out of San Jose—and in February he dropped an excellent EP, Double Ecstasy, after signing to Anticon Records. His dark, sarcastic delivery found a perfect home next to left-field electronic experimenters like Baths, Daedelus and TOBACCO.
San Jose ‘Idiot’
In a year chock-full of American idiots, Joey Pisacane was one to savor. City Lights Theatre brought Green Day’s “American Idiot” to San Jose, and the local musician and actor—playing the role of Johnny—stole the show night after night with his exuberant, vulnerable performance.
‘The Tech Boom’
Responsible for some of the hyphy movement’s best-known slappers, Traxamillion was all over 2016. In April, he dropped his first foray into trap music with The Trap Addict. Then, just a few months later, Trax returned to what he does best—curating great performances. August’s The Tech Boom compilation album featured some of San Jose’s most promising emcees, including City Shawn, Flammy Marciano and Ziggy.
For many years, San Jose-based Cukui streetwear partnered with the Island Music Festival at the county Fairgrounds. This year, Cukui launched an eponymous music festival with headlining sets from IAMSU! and J Boog.
Victorino Goes Solo
The frontman of Strata and one half of indie electronic duo The Limousines stepped out on stage all by himself for the first time in 2016. His first show was up in San Francisco at Popscene, but his second performance came at The Ritz during the C2SV music and technology festival. Despite no backing band and minimal instrumentation, he kept the small but devoted crowd rapt for his entire set.
The Mumlers Reunite
Will Sprott—co-founder and frontman of The Mumlers—got the band back together for a holiday show. It was just a one-off and there’s no talk of any new Mumlers music, but there is a new Sprott solo record on the way. Keep an eye out for that in 2017.