James Blake opens new KCRW performance space — here’s five acts we’d want to see there

James Blake KCRW mainbar

It’s been a minute since KCRW moved into their new 34,000 square foot headquarters, and Tuesday we saw some of their capabilities.

James Blake kicked things off at KCRW’s Annenberg Performance Studio on an edition of KCRW’s Morning Becomes Eclectic. The producer-songwriter played a seven-song set, leaning heavily into this year’s Assume Form album.  You can watch the video of Blake performing “I’ll Come Too” from the session below:

KCRW’s Morning Becomes Eclectic is in my opinion the best radio show, particularly when it features live performances. I’ve had the good fortune of seeing a couple of these recorded at Santa Monica’s Apogee Studio and once at KCRW’s old studio. This new 100- to 120-cap space is magnificent and should host some KCRW events and Morning Becomes Eclectic sets in the future, so I have a few recommendations.

Anderson Paak photo by Chad Cochran

Five Acts That Should Perform at KCRW’s new Annenberg Performance Studio:

Anderson .Paak

It’s been more than three years since Paak performed on Morning Becomes Eclectic, and it’s been a whirlwind three years for the genius. In the past eight months alone, Paak has released two albums, performed at Coachella twice to massive crowds, and become every hip-hop artist’s favorite hip-hop artist. He has perhaps the best backing band in the game in The Free Nationals, and if you haven’t seen or heard him live yet, you’re kind of blowing it. He would be a perfect fit for KCRW’s MBE.

Sunflower Bean

It is surprising to me this NYC punk-garage rock trio haven’t played a Morning Becomes Eclectic studio session yet. They would certainly have no problem filling the new space with their loud and anthemic tunes, and they’ve really honed their craft over the past few years, touring nearly nonstop. They’re a band that’s right at home on KCRW and the kind of band whose charisma comes through the radio waves. They dropped a new EP back in January, a continuation of their catchy brand of punk.

Durand Jones & The Indications

I’m pretty surprised this R&B and soul band haven’t stopped by KCRW yet. They’re in LA all the time, and still have two shows coming up this year (June 17 at Regent, Sept. 6 at The Novo). They’ve proven to be one of the more capable live bands, and the dual vocals of Durand Jones and drummer Aaron Frazer are a one-two combo that can’t be contended with. They’re one of those bands that have grown largely thanks to the word of mouth of their performances, and their two sold-out Teragram Ballroom shows earlier this year proved how beloved they are.

Men I Trust

I was blown away by this Montreal indie-pop outfit the moment I heard “Tailwhip”. It made me instantly think of that scene in Garden State where Zach Braff takes ecstasy and Zero 7’s “In The Waiting Line” plays. Lead vocalist Emmanuelle Proulx will make you think of early Sia’s deep and smoky vocals like from her time guesting on Zero 7 tracks, for sure. Their relaxing bass grooves will make you think the indie in “indie pop” actually stands for indica.

Tash Sultana

Another one I’m surprised hasn’t made a stop at KCRW yet. She doesn’t have anything new she’s promoting at the moment, but this jill of all trades is mindblowing at every instrument she picks up. From guitar to saxophone to the pan flute of all things, she can’t be stopped. She live-loops everything as she goes and can take a song into an eight-minute solo without hesitation. Vocally, she can get gritty or take things in the opposite direction and the first time I saw her at The Echo, I had goosebumps the entire time.

There’s dozens if not hundreds of bands I can’t wait to hear play Morning Becomes Eclectic in the future from their new Annenberg Performance Studio, and I’m looking forward to seeing what the LA station cooks up there in the future. Check out some photos of the new space below!

James Blake photos courtesy of Dustin Downing for KCRW
Bottom photo courtesy of Jennifer Ferro for KCRW