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Jake Denning's Blog

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A Blog About Nothing
Top Songs of 2013
12/25/13 at 02:12 AM by Jake Denning
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Show Review: Switchfoot "Fading West" Premiere
12/19/13 at 12:27 PM by Jake Denning
I was really fortunate to be able to attend Switchfoot’s “Fading West” tour during one of the three Oregon dates they played this year. As mentioned in my interview last year with drummer Chad Butler, “Fading West” is so much more than an album, it’s also a documentary as well. Fading West follows the format of most band documentaries, but that doesn’t stop it from being one of the most honest and raw glimpses of Switchfoot’s career.

The night was broken into two parts: the film, and then a headlining set by Switchfoot to close.

This film is all about “the joy and the journey”, and shows the band travel to places such as Bali, New Zealand, and South Africa. One of my favorite parts of the film revolves around the Australian festival Soundwave, and the idea that they don’t quite fit in all the way (or so we’re led to believe). A critical part of this film revolves around the creation of the album, and shows the band as they interact with the locals (and at times) makes music with them - one of the most satisfying scenes came from the band reuniting with locals in South Africa and singing “Shadow Proves the Sunshine”, who inspired the song when they first met in 2006.

One of the largest questions presented to viewers is “Can I be the real me in both places, both on tour and at home?” - I think the duality of a musician’s life is really interesting, as you have to be someone else to certain people at times. Another one of the largest questions stems from family trouble with Jon Foreman - “What happens when things start falling apart?”. This film really does a great job of being entertaining, but it also really makes you think as well.

Without question one of the best parts of this film is the cinematography, it’s absolutely breathtaking. Viewers are not only treated to the cities and people of foreign lands, but they’re also hit with numerous scenes of the band surfing, often with surfing legends. Nature, the waves, the venues, the crowd interactions, it’s all something to soak up and see. I truly cannot express how incredible everything looks.

Lastly, the film ends with the 2013 “Bro-Am”, which is an annual surfing contest the band throws to fundraise for the homeless in their community, as they ride off into 2014 and beyond. This film will undoubtedly stand as one of the largest testaments as to who Switchfoot is, and will continue to be enjoyed 5, 10 years down the road. It’s really incredible to see how far they’ve come, especially since the band’s breakout album The Beautiful Letdown came out.

After a 30 minute intermission, the band came out and launched into their headlining set, much to the delight of the sold out crowd of over 1000. The band took advantage of the time and played three cuts from the album: “Who We Are”, “Love Alone Is Worth The Fight”, and “Ba55”. Despite other previous setlist staples being neglected (such as “Meant To Live”), others such as “Stars”, “The Sound (John M. Perkins’ Blues)”, and “Dark Horses” really got the crowd moving and willing to engage with the crowd. To wrap out the night, the band performed “Hello Hurricane” acoustically, and then appropriately ended with “Where I Belong”.

After more than a decade as a band, Switchfoot has shown that they have the relevancy to continue performing at a high level, if they choose to do so. Would it surprise me that they go on a hiatus soon? Absolutely not. Would I want that to happen? Definitely not. As 2014 approaches, we have a lot to look forward to, including the long awaited solo album from Jon Foreman - let’s hope we’re treated to another headliner as well.
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Show Review: Trash Talk/Terror/Suicidal Tendencies (Portland, OR)
12/19/13 at 10:14 AM by Jake Denning
Venues take notice: when you let Trash Talk play your venue, you’ve let a wild animal loose. Once that switch is flipped, there is no turning this band off. Make no mistake about it, just because they’re Odd Future affiliated doesn’t mean they can’t get wild. Barricade? No problem, vocalist Lee Spielman will jump it with ease. Most of Trash Talk’s songs are short, fast, and sporadic, which keeps the energy up the entire time. Even if you don’t personally enjoy the music, they’re a fun band to watch.

Terror has a rich tradition of showing Portland love. In fact, they’ve shown us so much love this year, we’ve had the privilege to see them FOUR times in only TEN months - and for that, I am truly thankful. I mean, how often do you get to see one of your favorite bands more than once or twice in a given year? Almost never. You know what’s kept me coming back to see them throughout the years? their live shows - Terror has one of the best live performances in the entire hardcore scene, and that’s an undisputed truth. Terror thrives on crowd interaction - stage dives, circle pits, and grabbing the mic - the wilder the crowd gets, the wilder the band gets, which is really something to see.

This time around, the band focused on newer material off their new record, Live By The Code - “Live By The Code”, “Hard Lessons” and “The Most High” were a few of the songs that really got the diehards going (including myself). After that, older staples such as “Overcome” and “Keep Your Mouth Shut” were unleashed. To end the set, vocalist Scott Vogel talked about his appreciation for all punk bands, including Suicidal Tendencies, DRI, Misfits, and then the band launched into fan favorite “Keepers of the Faith”. A combination of a barricade and inflated tickets kept some of the usual fans at home, but those who DID show up went crazy to make up for those absent. And you know what feels the best? The fans that were strictly in attendance for Suicidal Tendencies really enjoyed watching Terror too, both new and old fans.

Suicidal Tendencies has a loyal (and rabid) fan base, which is something I did not expect, especially after being a band for over 30 years. But I was 100% wrong, Suicidal Tendencies can flat out GROOVE - guitar solos, breakdowns, insane drum fills, and so much more, they’re the real deal. This is truly a unique and legendary band, and it felt like such an honor to be in attendance. After a 45 minute change-over, the restless crowd absolutely ERUPTED - very few people on the floor were standing still, it was absolute pure chaos. Hits such as “You Can’t Bring Me Down” and “Institutionalized” were my personal favorite cuts from the 90 minute setlist, which consisted of a LOT of awesome jam breaks. ALL I WANTED WAS A PEPSI.
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SHOW REVIEW: Anberlin & The Maine w/ Lydia, From Indian Lakes (Portland, OR)
10/18/13 at 08:16 AM by Jake Denning
First off, Portland really loves Anberlin. They love them so much, that Anberlin did TWO shows back to back in one day the last time they were here (which was about 6 months ago), selling both shows out before doors even opened. This show was no different, as the Hawthorne Theater was packed to the brim as fans waited patiently for Anberlin to go on last. It's important to note that this tour is a co-headliner, which means both The Maine and Anberlin switch off ending the night. We just happened to be lucky in Portland, in my opinion.

From Indian Lakes went on first, but unfortunately I had a snag at the front door that needed to be taken care of, so I had to miss the band once again. What I CAN tell you is that if you have tickets to this show, you had better show up early to watch this band. I'm going to make a bold statement and say that I think some people will go home and have a new favorite band after watching From Indian Lakes glide through their 25 minute set. Again, this band is extremely talented, and I'm excited they're getting a lot of exposure on this tour. Go check out their current album, Able Bodies.

I ended up making it inside not too long after Lydia launched into their 30 minute set. Coming from someone who's never heard a Lydia song before, they weren't bad at all, and they were really thankful to be there. I'm not sure who was playing the bass guitar, but I was seriously impressed by his abilities. I had no idea that Mindy White was previously in this band, but I guess not having her around didn't affect the band's performance.

After a 20 minute change-over, The Maine went on. Now, I wasn't particularly thrilled when I first heard that they'd be on this tour, especially after having to sit through an atrocious performance at Warped Tour while waiting for A Day To Remember to come on. However, they weren't terrible this time around, although I feel like it's fair to say one thing - It was all about lead vocalist John O, who sort of looks like John Bender from The Breakfast Club. I think that if the rest of the band were replaced by other members, I don't think the crowd would've noticed, let alone care. Every time John would do something, girls would scream, even if it was for something like blowing hair out of his face. All in all, The Maine isn't going to be everyone's cup of tea, and that's fine; however, I'm sure The Maine are making plenty of new fans each night that will enjoy at least some of their recent material.

After patiently waiting for over half an hour, Anberlin came on - it was well worth the wait. The band wasted absolutely no time in getting the ball rolling, as they launched into "Paperthin Hymn"; from there, the band only jammed harder and harder as time went on. Everyone in the band really gave everything they had, not one member of the band was dry before the night was through - vocalist Stephen Christian was all over the stage for the entire hour they were on stage. I really appreciated the mixture of new and old material, although it was slightly disappointing not to hear anything from their debut album, Blueprints For The Black Market - I definitely felt songs like "Ready Fuels" and "Glass To The Arson" would've brought the house down. That being said, the material they DID play was just as sweet. Songs like "Self-Starter", "Other Side" and new single "City Electric" were a real treat to hear. The crowd roared and shook the walls when fan-favorites "Dismantle;Repair" and "Godspeed" were played - there were very few Anberlin fans in the crowd that didn't know the words, that's for sure.

Portland sent Anberlin off with a celebration, without question. Near the end of closer "The Feel Good Drag", a large majority of the crowd hopped on stage and shouted along with vocalist Stephen Christian. The crowd was definitely hungry for more, as shouts for an encore lasted at least a good 5 minutes or so, even though it was fairly obvious (as it was a co-headliner) that the band wouldn't be back out. I'm definitely looking forward to having Anberlin come back to the City of Roses, perhaps next time it'll be for a Blueprints For The Black Market 10th Anniversary Tour? Who knows!
Tags: Anberlin, The Maine.
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Kickstarter Spotlight: MostRad Minimalist Wallet
08/04/13 at 09:21 PM by Jake Denning
I rarely back Kickstarter projects, but this is one that I couldn't help but get behind. Brandon plays bass for metalcore band For The Fallen Dreams (Rise Records), and has about 30 days left on his campaign. I took the time to ask him a few questions, hope you get a chance to check this project out!

To check out the Kickstarter page for the MostRad Minimalist Wallet, click here.



You mention in the introductory video that you were tired of being "that guy" when it came to getting out your wallet, and you then went on the hunt to look for a minimalist wallet that suited your specific needs. Was there any other people or experiences that came to mind when creating this wallet?

The idea for this wallet actually started embedding into my brain around May of last year. We were out on a European tour supporting The Word Alive and I can distinctly remember almost every time I pulled my wallet out at a bar, Euro coins would just pour out of the holes all over the floor and the guys would give me shit about it, haha. I had so much junk and receipts stuffed in there, maybe a condom or two...it just wasn't working out.

What sort of changes/revisions did you make to the wallet over time?

When I made the first prototype, it included a zipper pocket on the left side to hold coins...but at the end of the day the zipper was just creating too much bulk and defeating the entire purpose of slimming my wallet. I opted to keep it simple and thin with three card slots. The third slot actually doubles as a nice snug coin pocket. The two interior pockets were also added in the final design phase after I had contacted the manufacturer.

I carry a small amount of change with me when I'm off doing various things. In addition to being able carry cards and cash, how much change would you say is a safe amount for the wallet? Perhaps $2?

With the interior pockets, I think you could easily fit $3+ in change per side.

When the 2nd stretch goal was reached, you announced an "executive" version of the wallet without the logo on it, for $35. Are you necessarily worried that removing the logo from the wallet will hurt you in the long run by not allowing people to recognize the brand?

Before releasing the Executive style, that thought definitely went through my head. I knew beforehand that a lot of people (specifically guys 30+) would prefer the wallet without a logo on it so I was prepared and now I'm just holding on to hope that those buyers will tell there friends, "It's a MostRad wallet, go check them out!". The Executive is only being manufactured for this Kickstarter campaign so it will be a rare item in the long run.

The next stretch goal is set at $50,000; with around 30 days to go, that's a fairly obtainable goal, considering the consistent amount of growth you've experienced over the past few weeks. Can you give us any hints as to what this next goal may contain?

I can say that all the Stretch Goal releases will be new limited edition styles only manufactured for this Kickstarter. After this campaign is over, you will never be able to get them again. I will be keeping up production of the original.

If the MostRad wallet continues to take off, could you see yourself bringing these on tour with you to sell to fans?

There is a possibility I will have some on tour with me but that's unlikely for the rest of this year. If it continues to grow, next year you'll probably be able to find some MostRad wallets near our merch table! I've been working on a huge website/online store that will launch once the Kickstarter is complete at http://www.mostrad.co.

What would you consider to be the most valuable piece of advice you could give to someone who wants to design and initially sell a product via Kickstarter?

Do your marketing research! I think the most important part to launching a successful Kickstarter is having an online presence and awareness of your product at least 7-10 days before launch. Set up all the necessary social media network pages, contact as many blog owners as possible, post teaser pictures, set up a countdown till launch day. Dedicate yourself to the project. I didn't sleep for the first 72 hours but it payed off and we were able to hit our goal just after 2 days. Plan ahead and you'll do just fine!

Anything else you'd like to add?

Thank you Jake for setting up this interview and supporting the project and thanks to everyone for reading! Let your friends in on the action! I'll see you guys on the road in October/November, we'll be supporting Senses Fail with Expire and Being As An Ocean. Our new album is also dropping this winter! Thanks!
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Show Review: VANS WARPED TOUR - Auburn, WA (June 15th) + Portland, OR (June 16th
06/21/13 at 12:44 PM by Jake Denning
Call me pathetic, but Warped Tour is still one the highlights of my year - where else can I see 9-10 FULL SETS every day and still get to hang out with everyone? You're wasting your time and money by not rushing everywhere to see and do as much as possible. That being said, this was my experience during both days.
--
After for being up for over a day straight, I powered forward and arrived at the White River Amphitheater in Auburn, WA. Oddly enough, there was no press check-in tent to be found...so I ended up chatting with a few others from Substream and Property of Zack before getting into an hour late. Because of that, I ended up missing Like Moths To Flames around 11:40 at the Monster Stage.

However, after checking in with the lovely Bethany Watson in Press (in an air conditioned room!), I rushed up the hill back to the Monster Stage to catch The Amity Affliction, and boy oh boy were they stoked to be there, as quite a few people showed up to sing along to songs such as "R.I.P. Bon" and "Greens Avenue". After thanking the crowd continually, the band ended with their current single "Open Letter" and had the whole crowd singing along.

Have you ever felt like not spending money on food and water at Warped? Well, you're in luck, because Matador Beef Jerky and Peace Tea has you covered. Run through those lines a few times, and you won't think about eating for the entire day (you're gonna want to re-fill your water bottle at the Sigg water station though).

I then caught most of Go Radio at 1:05 at the Tilly's Stage. I'll admit I had no idea what on earth they were playing, but they had a sizable crowd that lost their minds over stuff from their EP, Welcome To Life.

On the opposite side of the stage was the #Domo Stage, where Stick To Your Guns were right about to explode. Already knowing that the band might open with "Diamond" as they have been on previous tours, that's exactly what they did; and you know what? I'm perfectly fine with that, because it still makes your adrenaline surge, your emotions run wild. The crowd moshed to songs such as "Amber" and "Such Pain", before the band ended with "Built Upon The Sand".

Right as STYG's last note rang out, the crowd shifted a few feet to the right to catch The Story So Far. Despite what is said about this band, they still put on a great live show, and get a fantastic crowd reaction. It was a lot of fun seeing the sea of people bounce in unison to songs such as "Right Here" and "All Wrong".

After charging my phone and getting some water a few yards away, I ran across the venue to catch letlive. at the Monster Stage at 3. If you haven't seen this band before, you're in for an experience, let me tell you what. As mentioned in our Warped preview, lead vocalist Jason Aalon Butler has the energy of three men, and intends to prove that to you every single day...and believe me, he does. Today, he ended up riding his mic stand until he decided to snap it in half. Other fun includes: unscrewing his mic and chucking the top out of the venue; jumping the barricade and bringing a girl walking away back into the crowd; jumping over a fence, grabbing weeds, and then jumping back over the fence; and then chucking various speakers/monitors with reckless abandon. "I'd rather fucking kill myself then let someone get the best of me" proclaimed Jason before the band launched into new song "27 Club". Chaos will prevail.

When I was through with a few interviews, I realized I could be on time to see Motion City Soundtrack if I ran to the Kia Forte main stage. Luckily, I got there just as the band walked on stage and launched into "Attractive Today". Seeing as the band has so many albums, I was curious to see what they'd play. I'll admit I would've liked to hear songs like "Delirium" and "@!#?@!" off My Dinosaur Life, but I still had a lot of fun hearing songs like "Everything Is Alright" and "Life Less Ordinary". They played a new song called "Inside Out" that sounded really promising. I've never seen Motion City live before, but I'll definitely be back for more (and I eventually was the next day).

To my left on the Kia Soul main stage, We Came As Romans came out to quite a large crowd, as they wasted no time before launching into "Hope". The set was mixed with new and old songs, including a cover of The Wanted's "Glad You Came", which featured vocalist Kyle Pavone taking charge for the first half of the performance. However, my absolute favorite part of the set was when they performed their brand new song, "Tracing Back Roots", the title track off their new album due in late July.

As WCAR were finishing their last song, people immediately started pushing and shoving to get as close as possible to the Kia Forte stage for Sleeping With Sirens. This band has grown considerably since Pierce The Veil's "Collide With The Sky" tour, that's for sure - Sleeping With Sirens pulled the biggest crowd in Seattle EASILY. After a couple minutes of technical difficulties, lead vocalist Kellin Quinn showcased his vocal talent, singing the chorus of "James Dean & Audrey Hepburn" before the band slammed in behind him with full force. "A Trophy Father's Trophy Son" and "Tally It Up, Settle The Score" immediately came afterwards. I knew it was a long shot, but I was secretly hoping Machine Gun Kelly was crawling around the grounds so he could join the band on their current single, "Alone"; but alas, he was nowhere to be found, and the song was absent from the setlist. "Scene Two: Roger Rabbit" is always enjoyable to hear, regardless of the setting. After a few more songs (including an appearance by Memphis May Fire vocalist Matty Mullins), the band ended with "If You Can't Hang". Personally, I would've liked to hear new songs like "These Things I've Done" and "Satellites", but Warped Tour is more or so a survey of what a headliner is like, and the time just wasn't there. Perhaps on the band's headliner? Earlier in the day guitarist Jesse Lawson confirmed the band will be on a U.S. headliner in the fall, and one of the bands "starts with an M" - Memphis May Fire? I'd bet money on it.

Lastly, I ended my night in Seattle with the one and only Hawthorne Heights on the Tilly's Stage. It was mind-blowing to think that the last time I had seen the band, they were bringing the walls down on the Nintendo Fusion tour in 2006 to a sold out crowd. For the most part, the band stuck to solely material from The Silence In Black And White, as the band immediately jumped into "Life On Standby", and songs like "The Transition" and "Niki FM" soon followed. Guitarist Micah Carli did an excellent job with the screamed vocals - I'm sure Casey would've been as impressed as I was. My only frustration was that there wasn't enough time to hear all the songs I wanted to hear, like "Saying Sorry", "This Is Who We Are", "Somewhere In Between", and many more - perhaps the band might've been better off on a headliner? Either way, I'm happy that people stuck around this late in the day to see the band rock out.

----
It must've been the coffee in production that morning, because today in Portland, everyone brought their A-game. Kevin Lyman really picked an AWESOME venue in the Portland Expo Center Parking Lot - he had BETTER bring it back to the exact same spot in the years to come.

After spending my morning with Big Chocolate and Christofer Drew and Taylor of Never Shout Never, I started off Portland with another helping of letlive. - I mean, how could I not? Impossible. What did the band do today? Well, for one, instead of THROWING the speakers, Jason decided to pick the speaker up and just set it on top of himself, while he screamed vocals. What else happened? Well, Jason took his pants off today, and then tied an old American flag around his waist. Once again, new jams "Banshee (Ghost Fame)" and "27 Club" sounded just as cool as they did yesterday. Oh yeah, and as the band finished "Renegade 86'", guitarist Jeff Sahyoun smashed his guitar into smithereens. KA-BLAM! Set's over.

After talking a few people, I caught The Chariot thrash through a couple songs before I moved on towards the mainstages.

I caught a majority of Woe, Is Me's set on main stage while I was there. Now let me tell you this much, the band's last effort Genesi[s] was a massive disappointment. However, as I mentioned in an Of Mice & Men show review earlier this year, I said that the band had a big opportunity to impress crowds on this tour. And let me tell you, I've never seen Woe, Is Me control a stage like they did that day; there is hope for this band, especially after they played their new song "Stand Up". They gave me something tangible to believe in when it comes to their band. Oh, and did I mention that the crowd they pulled was absolutely MASSIVE? Who would've thought?

Couldn't resist watching We Came As Romans again, so I threw my hands up and had a blast with them one more time at the Kia Soul stage.

I then tried to find Silverstein, before stopping dead in my tracks and realizing that they were bumped to the Kia Forte stage, which was one of the best things to happen to me that day. Everyone sounded so incredibly on point, including vocalist Shane Told. Songs such as "Your Sword vs My Dagger", "Vices", and "Sacrifice" were well received by fans, including myself. I would love to see Silverstein do a proper headlining tour in the fall that hits the Northwest, as getting to see them for at least an hour would be a real treat.

I then met up with August Burns Red vocalist Jake Luhrs as I was escorted backstage to watch their set on the Kia Soul stage. I think it would be safe to say that watching August Burns Red pull the largest crowd of the day in Portland was the highlight of my day. New songs such as "Provision" and "Fault Line" sounded just as massive live as they do on record, absolutely incredible. Every member of the band is such an incredible musician, and to see them all work together is really something to take in. If you like anything remotely heavy, you'll definitely want to be watching August Burns Red on Warped.

Sue me, but I felt like I probably shout check out Never Shout Never, as recommended by my good friends MOD SUN and Pat Brown. Before you start your hater engines, I'll say it now - not everyone will enjoy watching this band, and that's absolutely fine. However, I will say that I feel like a lot of people would enjoy watching Never Shout Never if they merely took the time to watch them...or maybe I'm just out of my mind, who knows. The rest of the band are serious musicians as well; Bassist Taylor MacFee and Drummer Hayden Kaiser are both skilled at what they do, and compliment Drew's abilities well.

Like Moths To Flames was a band I was forced to miss in Seattle due to front gate snags, so I definitely made sure I was at the Monster Stage at 4:55 to catch them today. I also bumped into Craig and Sean from Rise Records, who are always actively supporting the bands that they sign, which is encouraging. Although the beginning and end of the set reflected what they've been doing for a year or so ("The Worst In Me" and "You Won't Be Missed, respectively), the core switched up a bit - "Something To Live For", "Learn Your Place", "GNF", and new songs "The Blackout" and "I Solemnly Swear". As always, the crowd was very eager to crowd-surf and slap vocalist Chris Roetter high-five before being escorted off to the side. I'm really curious to see where the band's sophomore effort takes them - I'd really like to see them do a support slot on a larger tour in the fall.

I was so pumped up to see Big Chocolate over at the Spotify stage, and he definitely did not let me down. With samples from artists like Lil Mama, Lil Wayne, Macklemore, and Trillville, Big Chocolate had the crowd throwing their hands up and dancing the entire half hour he was on stage. This was definitely a 30 minute dance party that I didn't want to stop. He provided an experience that you couldn't get anywhere else on the tour - if you like electronic music, do not miss Cam do his thing.

Motion City Soundtrack happened to just walk on stage as Big Chocolate was ending, so I caught them for a second time, I sure wasn't complaining! "Inside Out" sounded better a second time around.

The Wonder Years closed out Portland to a modest but absolutely hungry crowd that all really wanted to be there - crowd-surfing, sing-alongs, it was all there. I'll never understand how vocalist Dan "Soupy" Campbell can be all over the place on stage and not lose his breath after a few songs, he's just all over the place, spinning in circles and jumping off things. We were treated to three new songs: "Passing Through A Screen Door", "Dismantling Summer", and one of my favorites, "The Bastards, The Vultures, The Wolves". Other songs included past hits such as "Logan Circle" and "Local Man Ruins Everything". In my opinion, The Wonder Years have crafted a perfect setlist for this tour - they can play new and old material, and also call a quick audible and switch in songs like "Coffee Eyes" and "Melrose Diner" if they want. If you enjoy having fun, you're hereby required to watch The Wonder Years when they hit your city.
--
A few last thoughts:

- Every year there's an artist or two that's going to blow up in the mainstream. In my opinion, these two artists are Big Chocolate and The Summer Set.

- Who's going to hit Mainstage soon? letlive., The Swellers, Like Moths To Flames

- Who wasn't on Mainstage but damn well should've been? Hawthorne Heights and Silverstein. Both bands have paid their dues and deserve to be there, simple as that.

- FUN PLACES TO SEE: Heartsupport (Meet and chat with Jake Luhrs of August Burns Red and Beau Bokan of Blessthefall), JBWW (Jordan Buckley World Wide - say "Jason Tate Sent Me" for free stuff!), Matador Beef Jerky, and Peace Tea.

- I'm definitely going to have to cover more than two dates on the tour next year, there's just not enough time to soak in all that Warped has to offer in a few short days. I would've really liked to see The Swellers, Forever Came Calling, Emily's Army, and many other bands that caught my curiosity, like Citizen.

PHOTOS FROM BOTH DAYS: Instagram page

Special thanks to: Josh (jjnunn118), Simon (GuitarGuy211) for letting me crash in their hotel room, Bethany Watson (@warpedpress), Tori (@talk2tori), Jameson Ketchum, Jason Aalon Butler, Jake Luhrs, and many more people for making my time/experience over the weekend a memorable one.
Tags: Warped Tour 2013, Warped Tour
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Show Review: Every Time I Die w/ The Acacia Strain, Vanna + MORE (Portland, OR)
02/15/13 at 11:56 AM by Jake Denning
I trekked down to Branx, located in the industrial district in Portland, OR to see Every Time I Die's spring headliner, with support from: The Acacia Strain, Vanna, Hundredth, and No Bragging Rights.

If you're not familiar with No Bragging Rights, don't worry, so are a lot of people, especially with this type of crowd. The band initially got a flat response from the small crowd in attendance that had shown up early. But you know what, as the band made it explicitly clear with their performance that they REALLY wanted to be there, people started to warm up to them and get a bit more enthusiastic. The band has the potential to really go somewhere big, and I think they're just started to realize their identity as a band - what is more interesting is that this band started to get serious around 2005. Keep an eye out for vocalist Mike Perez, as he can not only scream, but can also sing quite well.

Hundredth...where to begin with Hundredth? This was not the band I had seen 3 or 4 times before in the last few album cycles. For a positive Christian band, a few things caught my eye: vocalist Chadwick Johnson now says "fuck" on stage, and the band now sells merch with the American flag upside down with the word "Revolt" on the back - is this band the official voice of the Tea Party movement or something? Not exactly, I suppose. The thing that hasn't changed is the band's overall message to be positive and not be discouraged by people in the world making money off of negativity.

I then proceeded to meet up with Vincent Bennett of The Acacia Strain in their band wagon, they had just gotten back from a dinner with Rise Records. Also in the bandwagon was Larry and His Flask guitarist (and local Oregonian) Dallin Bulkley; they're definitely one of the best bands for your dollar when you're looking for a good time, trust me on this one. Anyways, Vincent and I proceeded to talk about Valentines Day, Rise Records, Death Is The Only Immortal, etc. Look for it in a few days or so.

I came back inside to catch the second half of Vanna's set, and they TOO wanted to be here. In fact, they wouldn't take not moving around for an answer, you were going to move whether you liked it or not, regardless if you knew the words. They played a new song from a record that comes out in a few weeks that sounded pretty good, enough to where I'll have to check it out at least. I'll admit, I don't really think I ever really gave Vanna a fair shot, mainly because I noticed a lot of scene kids obsessing over their single "Trashmouth" at the time it was released...my bad!

Not too soon after Vanna left, the room went black, and The Acacia Strain hit the stage, coming back to using "Beast" as an opener. Now, if you're not familiar with The Acacia Strain, you'd be better off knowing that it's a bad idea staying anywhere close to the pit if you don't want to get hit - in fact, you'll probably end up getting hit even if you aren't near the pit. Deal with it. Now that we've established that it gets extremely violent during their shows, you should probably know that if you're super religious (or can't agree to disagree), you're not going to have a good time either; "I don't care about Jesus Christ, God, or The Devil, because there IS no Jesus Christ. There is only YOU, and ME, and I, and I will steal your fucking soul", says vocalist Vincent Bennett. The band proceeded to rip through fan favorites like "Ramirez" and "Woah! Shut It Down", and added new songs such as "Dust And The Helix", a quick ripper that's fast and to the point. The band ended their set with "Tactical Nuke", and transitioned into "JFC", as the entire room bellowed "I AM THE END OF THE WORLD".

But I got a few questions for you: do you like to CIRCLE PIT? do you like to STAGE DIVE? do you like to hit the PIT and mosh? do you like to SING ALONG with your friends? YOU DO? That's good man, REAL good, because I just found the right band for you to watch - Every Time I Die.

Now I don't know what's up with people shouting 'Let's go Buffalo" before the band walks on stage, but let me tell you, not only are we not in Buffalo, but the Seattle Seahawks are 10 times better than the Bills - are you gonna tell me the Bills defense is going to find a solution to Marshawn Lynch and Russell Wilson? DIDN'T THINK SO. Next observation.

The band kicked off their 70 minute set with "Floater", off Hot Damn, which will surely please older fans of the band. Whether you're a fan of the band's older material or new material or both, you're in for a good time, they're here to please. Classics such as "Apocalypse Now And Then", "No Son Of Mine", and "The New Black" got the crowd excited and eager to sing along. Newer ass-kickers like "Underwater Bimbos From Outer Space", "Holy Book Of Dilemma", and "Partying Is Such Sweet Sorrow" compelled people to stagedive at a consistent pace; even a few hooligans were inspired by vocalist Keith Buckley and jumped off the speakers near the ceiling, some real Circus De Soleil shit right there! Oh, but don't get caught on stage near the end of the song, because you're gonna be STUCK there, in a game ETID affectionately likes to call "Vanna has to drink as long as you're on stage" - throughout the set this happened numerous times. I've had a number of excellent experiences with Every Time I Die over the last 6-7 years, and this one was certainly for the memory books. The band ended their set with "We'rewolf" and "Indian Giver".

After the show I had to leave for an appointment with Dr. Keith, because I'm a terrible human being.
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Show Review: Sum 41 (Portland, OR, 1/18/13)
01/24/13 at 07:53 PM by Jake Denning
2010 - Sum 41 is booked on a side stage for the Vans Warped Tour. Big crowds appear every day. 2 days before the tour ends, the band drops off, due to vocalist/guitarist Deryck Whibley's back injury. Disappointment, but with understanding.

2011 - Sum 41 returns to play a small amount of dates for the Warped Tour. Again, right before the band was scheduled to hit Portland, they cancel again. Frustration sets in.

Would they EVER play Portland, OR again? When the initial tour dates for the 10th Anniversary of Does This Look Infected? dropped, it sure didn't look like it. But alas, a west coast leg appeared not too soon after the conclusion of the first leg, and it included a Portland date...but would the band bail on us once again?

Nope. Not only did they play, but they gave us a late night 90 minute set that was so much more than was expected.

The band stepped on stage at 11:20 pm and kicked off with "The Hell Song", and proceeded to jam their way through the rest of the record, sans the last few tracks. I will admit it was a slight disappointment to not hear "Billy Spleen", but I'm sure it was to make room for other songs. Most of the songs went into extended jam or banter sessions, which still made for a good time, but at the same time, I would've loved to save those 15 minutes and hear 3 more songs instead. Songs such as "No Brains" and "My Direction" sounded excellent, on par with the level of excellency that I had in mind.

But you know, my favorite part of the show came after the Infected? set. The rest of the songs were dedicated to fan favorites that you might've heard on Warped Tour, and whatever else the band felt liked playing. They played one new song, the title track off their newest album Screaming Bloody Murder, and it sounded excellent - it was a shame that they couldn't squeeze another track or two off the album in the mix - "Jessica Kill" would've been cool to hear. Fan favorites "Motivation", "In Too Deep", and "We're All To Blame" received a great response from the crowd. I was particularly surprised to "Underclass Hero" and "Walking Disaster" in the set.

At the end of the day, Sum 41 focused on putting on an actual show. While watching them, it was highly evident that they were interested in making sure you had a fun time and wanted to come back to see them again - because that's what it's all about, right? A lot of bands rip through their sets, wave goodbye, and dash off stage.

Personally, I cannot wait for the band to come back to Portland. Hopefully next time they'll come back with a set mixed up with songs that they haven't played in years, such as: "Some Say", "Welcome To Hell", "The Bitter End", "Makes No Difference", "Nothing On My Back", and "Handle This". But that's the thing with a band like Sum 41, no matter what they play, you're still going to have a great time. Let's hope the band is back in the Summer or Fall on another headliner. If the band hits your city soon, do what you can to make it out and have a good time, even if you've considered yourself a very casual fan of the band in the past.

Set ListThe Hell Song
Over My Head (Better Off Dead)
My Direction
Still Waiting
A.N.I.C.
No Brains
Mr. Amsterdam
--
Motivation
We're All To Blame
In Too Deep
Walking Disaster
Screaming Bloody Murder
Pieces
Underclass Hero
--
Fat Lip
Pain For Pleasure
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Most Anticipated 2013
01/23/13 at 05:01 AM by Jake Denning
These were the albums I had been slowly adding to a list for the last 3 months or so. It's definitely not a complete list, but it's not bad either - I can't possibly think of every album I'm looking forward to. Most of my picks missed the staff deadline since I waited until the last minute to finish them up, and got pretty sick for a few days (it wasn't pretty). But hey, If I'm forgetting something, then be sure and let me know why you think it should've been on my list, or the very well done overall staff list.

Be sure and follow me on Twitter, @Jake_Denning, as well as the official Absolutepunk twitter, @absolutepunk
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A Day To Remember - Common Courtesy - I have absolutely no doubts this will be A Day To Remember's best record to date. The growth in all the members, especially Jeremy in the last few years will become highly evident.

Bring Me The Horizon - Sempiternal - This could very well be the band's final record, as guitarist Jona Weinhofen has recently left. However, other guitarist Lee Malia is still an integral part of the "sound" that BMTH has been known for since the beginning, so perhaps we'll see a 5th album after all.

Mychildren Mybride - TBA - Free agents after being on Solid State for 3 records, the band looks to utilize new addition Nelson Flores on bass (ex-Sovereign Strength). The band can still bring it live, so we'll see what they have up their sleeves for album #4.

The Color Morale - Know Hope - Very excited for this record. They put out a stellar sophomore effort, this will either be on par with the last record, or not good at all. Rise Records seems to be very excited about it, so I'm probably not going to be let down.

TRC - Untitled - No Sleep took a big risk with signing TRC, an abrasive hardcore outfit form the UK. It'll pay off though.

Fences - The Internal Diving Board - You might only know of singer/songwriter Christopher Mansfield from his guest spot on Macklemore's throwback "Otherside" remix. But don't be deceived, that track is a very small sample of the overwhelmingly brilliant level of talent that he (and his friends) possess. Death Cab For Cutie drummer Jason McGerr is also playing on the album? I'm down.

Letlive. - TBA - Expect madness, expect heartfelt lyricism, expect nothing but realness.

Hatebreed - The Divinity Of Purpose - One of the "giants" of 2000's era hardcore music, expect the band to smack you in the face harder than you'd get hit at one of their shows. I don't condone fighting at shows, but things inevitably get wild real quick at a Hatebreed gig. Expect to be inspired and motivated to do the right thing.

Mike Posner - Sky High - Hate him or love him, Mike Posner will dominate Top 40 once again in 2013, alongside giants like Timberlake and Drake. Posner spent 2012 hanging back, mainly enjoying the success of his late 2011 mixtape, The Layover, as well as dropping features for his friends (Blackbear, MGK, etc.). Thank me later when you're bumping this former Duke grad's sophomore effort in your car.

The Almost - Fear Inside Our Bones - It's another Aaron Gillespie record. I'm sure people will whine about the inevitable "churchy" feel to it, but whatever.

Chiodos - TBA - Craig Owens is back, and from what he tells me, it's the best Chiodos record yet. I'm not calling him a liar, so I'm definitely excited. I recently spoke with Owens, and he told me this about the album: "Lyrically it's less forward, and it's more metaphorical, but also blunt when it needs to be".

Cartel - Collider - A lot of my fellow staffers, as well as Property of Zack's Zack Zarillo have heard this record, and unfortunately, I have not. But you know, I can wait, because Cartel has established themselves with a strong back catalog that will tide me over. When I last spoke with vocalist Will Pugh, he had this to say about the record: "I think it's going to be more focused on being a person, which is what our music was based upon in the first place".

Silverstein - This Is How The Wind Shifts - Another album from Silverstein already? Well, I'm not kicking or screaming about it...well, actually I am, just in a positive way. The band has a whole smorgasbord of great songs that aren't even played live (Vanity & Greed, anyone?), but what can it hurt to add some more to the lottery?

Terror - Live By The Code - Although they're now on the now infamous Victory Records roster (just ask Hawthorne Heights, Bayside, or A Day To Remember), look for them to put out what looks to be the most empowering album to date. Terror always encourages you as a listener to look back at the roots of hardcore and appreciate what the genre is all about, and Live By The Code doesn't seem to stray from that formula. Very excited for this record.

Switchfoot - Fading West - This is exciting because this is quite different than any other record that Switchfoot has done in the past. Drummer Chad Butler told me not too long ago that "I think there’s going to be room to breathe on the album that we haven’t allowed ourselves in the past. You know, I think there’s that cinematic idea in the back of your mind that your creating something that doesn’t have to be a 3 minute pop song". With that in mind, I think there's a lot of mystery behind this album, but also a lot of excitement. Summer couldn't come any faster.

Breathe Carolina - TBA - Breathe Carolina dropped a massive dance album, Hell Is What You Make It, in 2011 and has seemingly taken the world by storm since then. Singles "Blackout" and "Hit and Run" have been quite successful on the radio, YouTube, as well as on their main stage slot on 2012's Warped Tour. Vocalist David Schmitt told me on Warped that they're "Constantly experimenting, you know? That's the way we grow, trying new things and getting into different directions, but keeping what we do in mind". I'm pretty excited for what the duo have to offer this year.

Northlane - TBA - These Aussies are ready to hit, and they're ready hit HARD. Think Parkway Drive, Confession, The Amity Affliction. THAT type of hard. They haven't hit America yet, but when they do, they will blow up QUICKLY.

It Prevails - Perdition - Yep, they're still around, and they still have the tools to bring the tasteful melodic hardcore vibes they've been known for in the past. Don't sleep on this record, it'll be out this Spring.

The Wonder Years - TBA - You what I like about The Wonder Years? They're EXCITING. When was the last time you could say that a band REALLY excited you and made you want to yell lyrics back at them? Augh, just thinking about another record this soon already makes me excited. Be right back, gonna run through a screen door, Thomas Nassiff will be doing slam dunks next door.

We Came As Romans - TBA - This is a band that gets better and better as time goes on, and with three new songs on the re-release of Understanding Of What We've Grown To Be that has grabbed many people's attention, the band's upcoming third record has the potential to be one gigantic rallying cry. Any time the band has something to offer fans, you know it's going to be something good - always uplifting, and always catchy. 2013 is going to be a gigantic year for We Came As Romans, and this record is only a small part of what they're up to.

Issues - TBA - We're not sure what we'll be getting from Issues, but you can be sure it'll be bigger, catchier, and groovier than their debut release, Black Diamonds. Swerve.

Tyler Carter - Leave Your Love EP - Tyler's been working on this for awhile, and you can bet it'll be Top-40 influenced and less Rock n' Roll than Issues Black Diamonds EP was. If you liked Carter's first single, Side to Side, you'll DEFINITELY like this EP.

Deez Nuts - Bout It - JJ Peters is still pulling double duty, between touring full time with DN, as well as slamming on the drum kit for big Australian metalcore outfit I Killed The Prom Queen. Bout It looks to stick to the formula the band has gone with in the last three releases - do what makes you feel good, don't let anyone bring you down, and take your friends along for the ride. Band of Brothers is the first single from the record, and it features an extremely catchy hook from Architects (UK) vocalist Sam Carter. Expect for nothing but a good time from this album, especially when it's time for "shot after shot after shot after shot". DTD step in the club like...

Tyler, The Creator - Wolf - Tyler's abrasive personality and lyricism is not for everyone...in fact, it's not for 90% of people, because they'll be turned off within the first minute on any handful of his tracks (Bill O' Reilly certainly isn't listening). Tyler mentions via his meticulously updated Formspring account that he'll be rapping less, and let the instrumentation/production do most of the talking. Take it for what it is, toss it in the trash if you don't like it, he doesn't care.

Relient K - TBA - This album is going to be completely out of left field. First off, I didn't expect Blackbear (Mat Musto) to be working with the gang on this record. Second off all, this is coming off the depressing Forget And Not Slow Down.

Stray From The Path - TBA - I'm not even sure what to expect from this record except for the lone factor that it'll be very in your face. Be warned.

Justin Timberlake - The 20/20 Experience - Timberlake's solo discography is solid, deal with it. His third full length will be nothing but solidarity. He will dominate Top 40 radio alongside Drake, Mike Posner, etc.
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Of Mice & Men w/ Woe, Is Me, Texas In July, Volumes, and Capture The Crown
01/16/13 at 01:00 AM by Jake Denning
On Sunday, January 13th, I caught the 2nd day of the Of Mice & Men headliner with Woe, Is Me, Texas In July, Volumes, and Capture The Crown. The show took place at the Hawthorne Theater in Portland, OR, on an unusually chilly evening. Enthusiasm was at a high point, as many people camped outside the front of the venue in hopes of either scoring any extra tickets released (this show had been sold out for 2 weeks), or meeting someone from one of the bands.

Capture The Crown is a newer band from Australia that Sumerian Records has been pushing almost every single day via social media outlets; no matter how many times they post a video, the comments are overwhelmingly negative. Perhaps Sumerian should have taken notice when Make Me Famous quickly fizzled out in part to it's mediocre lyricism and egotistic attitudes - too late, I suppose, since they signed Capture The Crown only a few months ago and released Til Death in December.

This band takes everything you hate about music, puts it in a blender, and throws it right back at you. Guitars often sit on open-note chugging, the drummer can barely keep up with what's going on, and the vocals are average at best. Lyrics? "Your time is up,
look me in the eyes, you slut. Your time is up bitch, you filthy fucking cunt" or "You say that shit to me, and I don't give a fuck. Say it to my face, I'll end you" - what makes things worse is that these types of lyrics are thrown on bright colored t-shirts for kids to buy. When in America, gotta recoup those travel fees, right? In the end, I really hope Capture The Crown stops being a band immediately and does something more productive with their lives - because at the end of the day, they were polite off stage, which says a lot.

Volumes was fantastic. They raised the bar so many notches compared to the last time I had seen them (100 cap room w/ It Prevails and Betrayal in 2010), it's unbelievable. Songs like "The Colombian Faction" and "Wormholes" help showcase the band's technicality, as well as get the crowd moving. Lead vocalists (yes, two vocalists) Micheal Barr and Gus Farias sound absolutely ferocious, creating an extremely powerful duo. Being on a large tour like this is a huge deal for the band, as they're able to showcase what they can do to a sold-out crowd every night, allowing them to have their sound mixed professionally, leaving no doubt about the band's potential. One should note that Volumes is not only the heaviest sounding band on the tour, but clean vocals generally never make an appearance on any song. That being said, be on the look out for the band to mix in "Edge of The Earth" on rare occasions with Hance Alligood of Woe, Is Me doing the clean vocal part - I would've loved to see that, but I still had a great time regardless.

It's always great seeing Texas In July live, because each member takes the attitude of being the best they can be, regardless of what they do. Seriously, this was the 5th time seeing the band in the last 2 years, and they've gotten better and better after every performance, and this one was no exception. Bassist Ben Witkowski flung himself all over the place and jumped into the crowd with his bass in tow, he definitely had the most fun out of anyone in the band - maybe he watched some YouTube videos of The Chariot playing or something. Vocalist Alex Good sounded stronger than ever, and drummer Adam Gray is still one of the most impressive drummers I have ever had the pleasure of watching, next to August Burns Red's Matt Greiner and Miss May I's Jerod Boyd. Unfortunately the set was cut off 2 songs early, but "Cry Wolf" and "Hook, Line, And Sinner" were memorable tracks that got my head banging.

If you recall the review that Woe, Is Me's sophomore effort Genesi[s] got from fellow staffer Jack Appleby, you'd probably also consider it got mixed reviews. In fact, other than the fantastic closer "Family First", I didn't care for it much either. But you'd also consider whether or not the band can still put on a good performance, right? Spoiler alert: Yes, they still can.

If you've seen the band recently and you weren't into it, give them another shot, I think you'll be caught a little bit off guard. I remember the last time I had seen this line-up, vocalist Doriano Magliano was thrust into the spotlight last minute on the We Came As Romans "Fire & Ice" tour - wouldn't it be plausible to consider that it takes some time for everyone to gel with each other? I think so - Magliano undoubtedly looked more confident and gave a much stronger performance, he's here to stay. Meanwhile, clean vocalist Hance Alligood sounded spot on during "Fame > Demise" & "Mannequin Religion", while still singing the way he wants to. And sue me, but I loved watching drummer Austin Thornton play during the band's cover of Ke$ha's "We R Who We R" - where's Betrayal guitarist Sean Chamilian when you need him? He would've loved that shit!

"I got that war paint on my eyes, [s] Army standing by my side" - I hope people hang in there and take that line to heart, because I have good word that the band has a few tricks up their sleeve to make their mark on 2013. If you're going to write them off for good, perhaps you'd better check them out on this summer's Warped Tour and give them another go.

Of Mice & Men's live performance is really a lot to take in all at once, especially at a venue like the Hawthorne, that doesn't employ a barricade. One minute a kid knocks over fill-in bassist Aaron Pauley (formerly of Jamie's Elsewhere)'s mic stand, another gives vocalist Austin Carlile a hug before flinging himself into a sea of people. It's just madness right from the get-go.

Once the band kicks into opening song "O.G. Loko", they're not going to let up or take any significant breaks - once the train has left the station, it's coming full force at an alarming rate. Each time the band passes Portland, they never let up until they're all drenched in sweat and can't go any longer. The longest pause came near the end of the set, when Carlile expressed that people need to go home and learn all the words to their song "The Great Hendowski". Aaron Pauley shined bright throughout the set, and I would love nothing more than for him to become a full time member - he fits in very well with the other members in the band. Pauley absolutely nailed his vocal duties on every song, most notably on "Let Live". Drummer Valentino Arteaga was absolutely spot on with his drumming and was really entertaining to watch, it almost was as if he was in friendly competition with Adam Gray from Texas In July; when the last note hit on "The Depths", I could instantly tell that Arteaga had given everything he had to us that night.

One of my favorite things about the set was the inclusion of all 4 new tracks that appeared on the re-release of The Flood - The Calm, The Storm, The Flood, and The Depths; as most would know, The Depths has quite the violent build up (and quite the compelling bridge), and when it breaks into the first verse it felt like you got punched in the face. If you're not exhausting every ounce of your energy you have while Of Mice & Men are on stage, you're doing it completely wrong. The inclusion of these four tracks was a real treat, and may not be included in future tours.

Of Mice & Men are on fire right now, and if you're still able to grab a ticket for any of the remaining tour dates, you'd better get on it now while you still can.

Tags: Of Mice & Men, Austin Carlile, Volumes, Woe Is Me, Rise Records
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55th Annual Grammy Awards - My Picks
12/06/12 at 04:26 PM by Jake Denning
Record of the Year - Frank Ocean - "Thinkin Bout You"
Album of the Year: Mumford & Sons - "Babel"
Song of the Year: Ed Sheeran - "The A Team"
Best New Artist: Frank Ocean
Best Pop Solo Performance - Kelly Clarkson - "Stronger"
Best Pop Due/Group Performance: Fun. - "We Are Young"
Best Pop Vocal Album - Fun. - "Some Nights"
Best Dance Recording - Calvin Harris feat. Ne-Yo - "Let's Go"
Best Dance/Electronica Album - Steve Aoki - "Wonderland"
Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album - Michael Buble - "Christmas"
Best Rock Performance - Mumford & Sons - "I Will Wait"
Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance - Lamb of God - "Ghost Walking"
Best Rock Song - Mumford & Sons - "I Will Wait"
Best Rock Album - Coldplay - "Mylo Xyloto"
Best Alternative Music Album - M83 - "Hurry Up, We're Dreaming"
Best R&B Performance - Usher - "Climax"
Best R&B Song - Trey Songz - "Heart Attack"
Best Urban Contemporary Album - Frank Ocean - "Channel Orange"
Best Rap Performance - Kanye West - "Mercy"
Best Rap/Sung Collaboration - Kanye West/Jay-Z Feat. Frank Ocean & The-Dream - "No Church In The Wild"
Best Rap Song - Wale Feat. Miguel - "Lotus Flower Bomb"
Best Rap Album - Drake - "Take Care"
Best Country Album - Zac Brown Band - "Uncaged"
Best Comedy Album - Jim Gaffigan - "Mr. Universe"
Producer of the Year - Diplo
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Show Review: Miss May I w/ The Ghost Inside, Like Moths To Flames (Portland, OR
11/19/12 at 02:14 AM by Jake Denning
I was informed that this tour was happening at the end of Warped Tour in the summer, and I couldn't have been more stoked. The Ghost Inside is one of my favorite bands, but I also really like The Amity Affliction as well, not to mention Miss May I and Like Moths To Flames have put on good sets as of late. Also, Glass Cloud would be making an appearance for the first time, fronted by Jerry Roush, who actually lived in Portland for awhile.

Glass Cloud is a band that intrigued me right from the initial press release informing me of their existence. Half of the band graduated from Berklee School of Music, arguably the most prestigious music school in the United States. As mentioned in the introductory paragraph, Jerry Roush lived in Portland for a brief period of time after his time in Of Mice & Men, so people were excited to see him come back for a performance with his new band. Roush came out in an American Me t-shirt with a pretty well established beard, and proceeded to rock the fuck out for entirety of the band's 25 minute set - he threw his body around the stage, swung his mic clear across the stage, etc. It was a great thing to see, as things just seemed to be going right for him, and this is where he belonged, where he fit in. I'm excited to see where the band goes from here on out.

The Amity Affliction is an australian metalcore band that has toured the states a few times (once opening for Pierce The Veil/Miss May I a year ago, and opening for Asking Alexandria/Trivium not long after), but I feel most people here in America have slept on them until now. The band hit #1 on the Australian charts with their brand new full length, Chasing Ghosts, and it's starting to pick up some steam here slowly but surely. The band ripped through two new tracks, "Chasing Ghosts" and "R.I.P. Bon" before launching into older tracks like "Youngbloods" and "I Hate Hartley". The band ended with "Open Letter", which boasts a catchy chorus with the line: "I'm not searching the sky for a reason to live, cause I've found beauty right here and found the passion to give". I think the thing I love most about the band is their attitude, and how it carries over in a live setting, they really get after it and make their time on stage a memorable one. Joel Birch and Ahren Stringer make a fantastic scream/sing combo. If you missed them this time around, you'll definitely be seeing them around here sometime in 2013, so don't miss out.

Like Moths To Flames was a band that I previously had a hard time understanding because of vocalist Chris Roetter's prior Christian band Agraceful, and the significant contrast in lyrical content ("The Great I Am" vs "GNF (Give No Fucks)"). But you know, as one of the seemingly few people that have seen Chris perform in both bands, I know that he pours himself into whatever he's doing, regardless of what people think. The band took the stage and kicked things off with "The Worst In Me", and immediately the band had the entire floor bouncing off their feet. I was surprised at how rabid the response was for the band, because when I had previously saw them earlier this year, the response was minimal at best; however, it's great that they're becoming more well-known and people are showing them support. "GNF", "Faithless Living", and a few songs appeared on the setlist before the band ended with "You Won't Be Missed".

The Ghost Inside is one of my favorite bands, and I was happy to see them finally come back to at least a direct support slot on a club tour, thus giving them a slightly longer set than what they've been playing lately. One of the biggest treats about this particular setlist was the inclusion of newer material - "This Is What I Know About Sacrifice", "Outlive", "The Great Unknown", "Thirty Three", and "Engine 45" all made an appearance on the setlist. Past favorites like "Chrono", "Faith or Forgiveness", "Greater Distance", "Unspoken", and "Between The Lines" joined the mix as well. I think the most gripping in the setlist came right before "Thirty Three", when vocalist Jonathan Vigil dedicated the song to his recently deceased father - the amount of respect I have for Vigil for wanting to continue to tour amidst much adversity is through the roof. Look for The Ghost Inside to swing through the U.S. in the spring on their own headliner with a truly salivating line-up.

Miss May I without a doubt has earned the "most improved" award in recent years - from being a completely abysmal live act covering Savage's "Swing", to maturing into a powerhouse that can hold their own in the metalcore scene. From the second the band touched the stage, I was absolutely blown away - their live set is truly an experience that anyone that is a casual fan of the metalcore genre would enjoy. To be honest, I'm not much of a fan of the band's past material; I am however, a huge fan of their newest effort "At Heart", and enjoyed seeing a setlist that leaned more towards that album. Songs such as "Hey Mister", "Leech", "Opening Wounds", and "Bleeding Out" had me satisfied, as well as had the crowd bouncing off their feet, and crawling on stage for stagedive after stagedive. Aside from frontman Levi Benton's ferocious showmanship, I was particularly impressed with drummer Jerod Boyd's pure skill - in fact, I'd say he is one of the more skilled drummers I've had the pleasure of watching this year, along with August Burns Red's Matt Greiner and Texas In July's Adam Gray. In fact, Boyd performed an absolutely jaw dropping drum solo near the end of the band's set. To my pleasure, the band ended their set with "Ballad of A Broken Man" and "Day By Day" before doing an encore, "Relentless Chaos". I'm definitely looking forward to seeing the band grow and take over 2013, I have absolutely no doubts that their next record will be just as massive as "At Heart" is now.
Tags: Miss May I, The Ghost Inside, The Amity Affliction, Glass Cloud, Like Moths To Flames
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Warped Tour: Seattle & Portland (Aug 4th/5th)
08/14/12 at 11:13 PM by Jake Denning
"What a difference a year makes" -- that was the thought I've had over the past week when I reflect back on this summer's Vans Warped Tour. I had a blast seeing how just 12 months time has treated various different bands, such as Yellowcard, Breathe Carolina, Of Mice & Men, and Memphis May Fire, to give a few examples. This year's Warped Tour had an absolutely stacked line-up, one that you couldn't help but have a blast the entire day, regardless of who you saw (well, except if you accidentally stumbled near Blood On The Dance Floor's atrocious display).

The Seattle date took place at the White River Amphitheatre, specifically in Auburn, WA. After dramatically altering my schedule to make it on time, I was able to get where I needed to go with relative ease -- the venue staff couldn't have been more helpful, they saved me a good amount of valuable time, especially when I found out via twitter that Memphis May Fire would be going on at 11:30am, 30 minutes after gates opened.

After quickly checking in with the very helpful Bethany Watson at the press area (which was in a nice air conditioned room, with Wi-Fi access!), I decided to start my day off with a bang and catch Memphis May Fire at the Monster Energy Stage. If there was any band that has gone through a tremendous amount of growth over the past few years, it's definitely this band. I remember the last time I had seen the band was at The Pit in Jacksonville, FL, when the band was touring on their new album, Sleepwalking. Fast forward to summer 2012, and the band sounds far from similar, much more to what you'd expect from a "Rise-core" band, not that there's anything wrong with that though. For being so soon after gates, the crowd was quite significant, definitely filling out a large majority of the viewing area. Vocalist Matty Mullins had the crowd bouncing for most of the set, but that's about as active as the crowd got, as they loudly sang along to songs such as "The Sinner" and "Prove Me Right".

After puttering around for a good 30 minutes checking out merch, I headed off to the Kia Soul Main Stage to watch Of Mice & Men, eager to see what they had to bring to the table since the last time I had seen them. This was the first time seeing them since clean vocalist/bassist Shayley Bourget left, and they've had fill ins since then, such as Joel Piper (Confide, Olivia The Band), and currently Aaron Pauley (Jamie's Elsewhere). I can confidently say that Of Mice & Men have never sounded better, everything has been elevated to a higher level -- vocals, instruments, the works. The highlight of the set was one of the new tracks that surfaced on the re-release of the band's sophomore release The Flood, "The Depths" -- the madness and intensity of the track came through in a bigger way live, and the crowd ate it up. The band's upcoming third full length record is already on my "most anticipated" list for 2013, I have no doubts that this will be their finest work.

From there, I went back to interview Matty Mullins of Memphis May Fire, and then catch up with David Schmitt and Kyle Even of Breathe Carolina. It was great speaking with them.

Rushed over to catch A Loss For Words in the Acoustic Basement, something that definitely was worth getting there early for -- it was packed! Vocalist Matty Arsenault was in good spirits, and even whipped out a cover of Miguel's "All I Want Is You". Throw in "Hold Your Breath", "My Girl" (The Temptations), "So Contagious" (Acceptance), "Pirouette", and "Mt. St. Joseph", and you got yourself a great time.

Went rushed back to cut a short interview with newcomer band Oh No Fiasco. If you're a fan of Pierce The Veil, you might recognize their vocalist on the last track of their new album, which is what most people associate with when they hear of this new band. Interviewed Machine Gun Kelly, who was about a foot and a half taller than I thought he was going to be -- he's super lanky, but super cool at the same time. I never got a chance to see a large majority of his set over the weekend, but I heard him cover Limp Bizkit's "Break Stuff" as I was passing by to catch another set.

Every Time I Die mercilessly took the Monster stage by the throat, and ripped through crowd favorites such as "Wanderlust", "We'rewolf", and "No Son Of Mine". Seeing ETID is always a good time, and if you're not banging your head the entire time, you're doing it completely wrong. My only disappointment was with the amount of people that showed up, there should have been ATLEAST a couple hundred more people punching each other, having a good time. I can't wait for the band's headlining tour in the fall, especially since Letlive. is on it, who knows what sort of shenanigans will go down?

After snagging a tiny snack, Yellowcard took the Kia Soul Main Stage. I would be absolutely lying if Yellowcard wasn't one of the tightest and most entertaining bands on the tour, they sounded just as incredible as they did when they supported All Time Low last year, if not more. The band treated an extremely enthusiastic crowd to hits such as "Breathing", "Only One", and "Lights and Sounds". The highlight of the set was not their closer, which was obviously "Ocean Avenue", but it was "With You Around" -- the call and response part was absolutely MASSIVE, nearly everyone in the crowd sang along and rocked the venue. I cannot convey how disappointed I am in the fact that the band's fall headliner (with The Wonder Years!) doesn't come to the Northwest, just doesn't seem fair! But I'm pretty sure it has to do with the Warped Tour touring clause.

I rushed and barely made it in time to hop side stage to see the first half of Breathe Carolina's set at the Kia Rio Main Stage, which was located inside the actual Amphitheatre. As mentioned in the first paragraph of this entry, "what a difference a year makes" -- the amphitheatre was filled with fans jumping and singing along to the words. Out of all the bands on this tour, Breathe Carolina definitely had the biggest production -- lots of fog, lights, banners, etc. People seemed to respond best to their current single, "Hit and Run", which bodes well for the band's continued Top 40 Radio dreams, which they first achieved with "Blackout".

After watching Breathe for 20 minutes, I took off to the Monster stage again to catch The Ghost Inside, which arguably is one of my favorite bands. But don't think I didn't stop for 5 minutes and cut a rug to MOD SUN/Pat Brown perform on the House of Marley stage -- it was nice to those guys get a decently sized crowd, especially after the work he's put in over the last 3 years.

Ended up at the Monster stage just in time to graciously be allowed sidestage, and enjoy The Ghost Inside's set. I think it's fair to say I'm extremely biased towards this band, so I'll hold off on the praise. They came out to the ol' "California Love/Anchorman Cannonball" intro, and ripped into "Unspoken". Vocalist Jonathan Vigil wasted no time with stage banter, except to tease Vancouver Canucks fans, and to praise his beloved L.A. Kings (He was wearing a Jersey at the time). "Faith or Forgiveness", "Provoke", "Greater Distance", "Outlive", "Chrono", and "Between The Lines" all were fit into the band's 30 minute action packed set. 7 Songs!

I then went off to team with I Call Fives and hit the "End of the World" party, featuring one of the coolest bands from Oregon, Larry And His Flask -- those guys are so cool!

--

Woke up way too late, and rushed to get to the press area in Portland, barely got there in time.

It only took me about 10 minutes to appreciate the previous day's venue, and immediately feel the deepest amount of contempt for the day's venue, the Rose Quarter Riverfront, which was just barely large enough to fit everything inside it. The walkways to the bathrooms and Monster/Tilly's stages were extremely narrow, which made for a good 10 minute trek to one's desired destination, no matter how much pushing and shoving you did.

I started my day off with Falling In Reverse on the Kia Soul Main Stage, and my first thought was "How in the hell did this many people get here in time for an 11:45 time slot?". It was a PACKED (and rabid) crowd. Say what you'd like about the band and whatnot, but they sounded crisp. They were about 10 minutes into their set when someone walked on stage and told them they needed to stop playing immediately. I figured it was a gimmick to rile the crowd up some more...it wasn't. Turns out, it was someone sent to inform the band that the Fire Marshall is having a fit right now, and could pull the plug on the entire day. After 15 more minutes of waiting, the band came out and finished their set, without any cutting of songs. The band's final single from The Drug In Me Is You, "Good Girls Bad Guys" closed out the set, which seemed to be the crowd favorite. As for the Fire Marshall, he laid down the law and canceled some signings.

I Call Fives were playing acoustically at the DigiTech stage, and it was cool to finally get to see a set in some way, shape or form. The band's new self-titled album is definitely one of my favorites so far this year, and it's cool to see people show them some love. It was cool to hear songs like "Elevator Music" live, one of the first songs I had heard from the band.

I caught the second half of Four Year Strong's set on the Kia Soul Main Stage. I enjoyed the set for what it was, but I still couldn't help but feel some serious nostalgia for the days when Josh Lyford was in the band, it just wasn't the same. That being said, they're still a great band, and I'm sure I'll continue to come out to support them, they're much better than a majority of the bands on the tour anyways. I thought "Heaven Wasn't Built To Hold Me" was a nice touch to their set.

Senses Fail then took the stage on the Kia Rio stage, directly next to the Soul stage. Vocalist Buddy Nielsen sounded absolutely powerful, as the band tore through hits such as "Buried A Lie", "Shark Attack", and "Calling All Cars", and even threw in the massive new single "War Paint". Nielsen's stage banter was in full swing, as he entertained a couple of recent high school graduates in the front row, responding to their sarcastic comments. Near the end of the set, Buddy also mentioned putting out an expensive comedy CD -- whether he was serious or not, I'm not actually sure. What I DO know, is that Senses Fail sounded excellent, and would do well on a co-headliner with a band like Silverstein or Bayside.

Grabbed some water in the tent over, and then walked a few yards back to the Kia Rio stage for Breathe Carolina's full set. I had a great time watching them run through their set, and judging by the size of the crowd and how active they were, I'd say they did too. "Wooly" and "Blackout" rounded out the last portion of their set, before their DJ dropped into a 90 second (or so) dance portion to close things out. Breathe Carolina is definitely an artist to lookout for in the rest of 2012, and onto 2013; every year there's an artist that blows up from the line-up (Past artists include Katy Perry, Mike Posner, Yelawolf), and this year might be the first where said artist is one people are already generally familiar with.

Went to go chat with MOD SUN and do an interview. His work ethic is incredible, and the things he's been able to accomplish on this tour have been great. It really seems like yesterday when he saved the day on Jonny Craig's solo tour in early 2010, when Jonny was too intoxicated to perform at Midnight. Kevin Lyman was excited about having him out on the tour, so at the very least, he's got that going for him. He has Absolutepunk bookmarked, did you know that?

Went to catch most of Title Fight's set before The Ghost Inside were about to go on. Good band, but not necessarily something that I'd listen to everyday. They ended with "Shed", and a lot of people were into that, evidenced by hardcore dancing, which I never quite understood with a band playing like Title Fight.

The Ghost Inside hopped on next, and I was blessed to be invited to watch them from the side again. There's nothing better than seeing your favorite band twice in a row, especially knowing that they're excited to play, and the crowd is absolutely buzzing as well. As the band ripped into "Unspoken" again, that's the point when the dog was let off it's chain -- Portland flat out lost the plot. Now, you can say "Oh, you're just biased because it's your scene, blah blah blah", but I'm making no exaggeration here, they went twice as hard as Seattle did. They played the same set as yesterday, except they replaced "Provoke" with "Shiner", much to the delight of the older fans (from 2008-09, when they used to play the Satyricon in downtown Portland). The Ghost Inside will be direct support to Miss May I, alongside Like Moths To Flame, The Amity Affliction, and Glass Cloud in the fall.

Speaking of Miss May I, as I was making my way across the venue, I caught the last three songs of their set -- "Hey Mister", "Ballad Of A Broken Man", and "Masses of A Dying Breed". Miss May I has pulled a complete 180* since I had last encountered their set in early 2010. I couldn't beg more for Miss May I to get off the stage a few years back, as they performed an awful rendition of the already awful "Swing". Fast forward to now, and I'm excited to see what kind of headlining set they'll put together in the fall, it's obvious they've put in a tremendous amount of work in, and have tried to pull away from their beginnings a little bit.

There's not a whole lot of bands that can flat out command a stage like New Found Glory can, and I was ready for them to take over again on the Kia Soul Main Stage. When I spoke with vocalist Jordan Pundik back in June, literally a few days before he left for this tour, he described the band's set as a "30 minute aerobics workout" -- he wasn't lying! It was absolutely impossible to not get into it, let everything go, and sing along to hits such as "All Downhill From Here", "Something I Call Personality", and the inevitable closer, "My Friends Over You". When we talked, Jordan also confirmed the Sticks and Stones 10th Anniversary Tour, which will happen early on next year -- everyone is super stoked for it! The "Pop Punk's Not Dead" tour was something cool, so I can't wait for this headliner.

I was super hungry, so I did the responsible thing and made the only meal of the day a good one -- A gigantic snowcone for $5. Worth it? YOU BET! It's almost mandatory to get a snowcone every summer.

I went to hang out and check out MOD SUN on House of Marley stage, as a decently sized crowd started to show up. Hate him or love him, he puts as much energy he can into his set. He's consistently jogging, jumping, and shouting at the top of his lungs to the people he considers his friends. 2011 was big year for him, as he did well in the Rolling Stone unsigned artist contest, and 2012 has been an even bigger year. Lookout for big things in the fall, as 2013 approaches.

From there, I had a friend get really sick due to the heat, so I was unfortunately unable to see All Time Low or Pierce The Veil close out the tour as I had planned.

FINAL THOUGHTS:

- Kleen Kanteen: Please, keep providing water, but don't lay on the guilt trip when we don't buy your overpriced canteens.
- I bumped into Skinny Lister on numerous occasions over the two days, and every time they were extremely polite and fun to be around! I hear they drew quite a crowd too!
- Two Mainstages (Kia Rio/Soul) were really cool -- I'd like to see the main stages return to 40 minutes, and some smaller stages knock down to 25 minutes (Kevin Says)
- For the love of everything good and holy, continue to have the Acoustic Basement every year. It's too good to not have every year.
- Bands/Artists I'd like to see for next year: Steel Panther, Story of The Year, P.O.D., The Cool Kids, Trapped Under Ice, Take Offense, Grave Maker, The Classic Crime, Bring Me The Horizon, Stick To Your Guns, Silverstein, Terror, First Blood, August Burns Red, The Ghost Inside
- Every artist that plays on Mainstage should have to earn it, no exceptions. Most bands that were on the stage this year definitely earned it, but some definitely did NOT (looking at you, Blood On The Dance Floor)
- Monster Energy should definitely still continue to sponsor the tour. Not only are their "Rehab" flavored drinks incredible, but their truck giving free full-sized cans to fans in an air conditioned area is amazing every-single-year. THANK YOU.
- Less bands on the Tour
- Earlier gate times to help with schedule -- Numerous fans on both dates were upset because they didn't get inside the gates in time for an 11:30 time slot, even though they were near the front of the line. Even cutting gates back by 30 minutes would help a lot.
- Give the First-Aid personnel a significantly larger area to work with. There were FAR too many people dropping in the Portland heat, and I know for a fact that we weren't the hottest date on the tour.

SPECIAL THANKS to: Bethany Watson (Warped Press Coordinator), Amy Willard (Pit Reporter), The entire I Call Fives camp, Jonathan Vigil & Jim Riley of The Ghost Inside, and Kevin Lyman.
Tags: Warped2012, The Ghost Inside, Portland, Seattle
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One Of My Favorite Albums...
07/16/12 at 10:09 PM by Jake Denning
The Everpassing Moment by MxPx was one of the first albums that I really fell in love with. Check out lead vocalist/bassist Mike Herrera perform one of the songs off that album, "Never Better Than Now"

Tags: Mike Herrera, MxPx
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Mid-Year Look: Top Shows of 2012
07/06/12 at 10:50 PM by Jake Denning
Here in Oregon, I've been blessed with lots of great shows over the last few years, thanks to the hard work and dedication of local promoters King Banana and Mike Thrasher Presents. Shows are often where I can kick back and relax, drink some coffee or soda with everyone before doors, and then have a blast rocking out to some great bands. I'm usually at 3 or 4 shows a month in the Portland area, so as you can imagine it's hard narrowing down some of my favorite moments of 2012 so far.

I'd love to hear from the rest of you, as to what YOUR favorite shows have been this year. Also, what shows coming up are you looking forward to?

(In no set order)

1. Andrew W.K.'s "I Get Wet" 10th Anniversary tour (Wonder Ballroom, Portland, OR) w/ The Evaporators. -- Andrew W.K. was my first large interview, and I was really excited to catch up with him again a few years later and rock out to his iconic album "I Get Wet" from front to back, with more party favorites thrown in for good measure! His backing band was even more ferocious than when I first saw him at Warped Tour 2010, everything was kicked up 110%. You know what made my night even MORE special? Meeting my all-time FAVORITE interviewer, Nardwuar The Human Serviette! His band The Evaporators opened the show for 45 minutes, and it was by far the most entertaining set I've seen in a long time. This was definitely not a tour that I'll forget, and I'm looking forward to my next party with Andrew W.K.!

2. G.K. Tour featuring The Wonder Years, w/ Polar Bear Club, Transit, The Story So Far, and Into It. Over It. (Hawthorne Theatre, Portland, OR) -- This was a show I was looking forward to since Patrick (RockTheWalls) leaked it. Everyone on this tour was so cool, I definitely appreciated getting to see everyone again. Evan Weiss (Into It. Over It.) was hilarious, and crafted a fine live performance, weaving in various stories that inspired particular songs. The Story So Far got an incredibly massive response, and turned the venue into stagedive city for brief moments in time. I enjoyed getting to know Will and Kelen, and seeing how awesome and down to earth they are; this band will go so many places in the future, because they're in it for the right reasons. Transit was the dark horse of the tour, as many kids didn't show much appreciation for the heavy "Listen & Forgive" setlist, which really bummed me out. "Listen & Forgive" was such a heartfelt record and honestly has a great deal of lasting value, and I really hope kids take the time to sit down with it and appreciate it for what it is. Polar Bear Club is the band that always shows up on every tour package and gives everyone a fantastic time. Jimmy Stadt is one of the best showmen in the genre, and I'm really glad to hear that they're getting a great response on this year's Warped Tour. The Wonder Years once again came back to Portland to show everyone a good time, and boy, did we have a blast! Coffee Eyes, Melrose Diner, and Logan Circle all caused me to yell out, and eventually kill my voice. It was without a doubt my favorite experience watching the band, and I'm itching to see them again! I'm really stoked we have a great Official Thread that backs the band hard.

3. August Burns Red w/ Silverstein, Texas In July, and I, The Breather (Hawthorne Threatre, Portland, OR) -- August Burns Red is one of my favorite bands, I haven't missed them since I first saw them in early 2006. I was really looking forward to seeing a proper headlining set with more "Leveler" material showcased, as opposed to their set at Warped 2011. Silverstein never lets me down whenever I see them, it always amazes me the abuse Shane subjects himself to in order to give everyone a memorable experience. Texas In July had never sounded better and more crisp than they did on this tour, everyone was on point. I, The Breather also made a lot of new fans that night, as they were on the cusp of releasing their sophomore effort, "Truth and Purpose", which is a significant improvement from their debut.

4. Enter Shikari w/ Letlive., and At The Skylines (Branx, Portland, OR) -- Living in America is great, but sometimes it's difficult when great bands from "across the pond" aren't as popular over here, and are limited to short sets. So when I found out Enter Shikari would be coming back here to do a proper headliner with full production and everything, I was extremely excited. Letlive. is always great to have around as well, all those guys are super genuine and hilarious guys. At The Skylines showed some promise, but nothing close to ground breaking.

5. Set Your Goals w/ Cartel, Fireworks, Mixtapes, and Super Prime (Hawthorne Theatre, Portland, OR) --
I never gave Super Prime a chance, although they were extremely nice, and after talking to Jordan Brown (SYG) about their story, I have a WHOLE lot more respect for the band. There's some people on here that really like Mixtapes (including Thomas Nassiff), but as cool as they were to talk to, I just didn't really get them at all. Fireworks really left me wanting a longer set from them, they were so solid live. Cartel absolutely blew me out of the water with their live performance, Will Pugh has one of the strongest voices in the scene. Set Your Goals were great as usual, even though Dan had to go home again to attend to his ill father. The good news is, they have a really good friend in Justin Ksionzek (@giglife), who filled in once again (as he has over the last year or so), and did an excellent job. Great mixture of Mutiny, This Will Be The Death Of Us, and Burning At Both Ends material, and an excellent time overall.
Tags: Andrew WK, The Wonder Years, Polar Bear Club, August Burns Red, Set Your Goals
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