I'm not one for working out - my scrawny frame is proof enough of that - but for those seldom occasions when I do find myself struggling to do some kind of physical activity, there is no album that gets my adrenaline pumping faster than Andrew W.K.'s 2001 debut, I Get Wet. I can't explain why. The music, which lies somewhere between metal and pop, somehow encapsulates an abundance of energy in each of the twelve tacks.
Needless to say, when I heard that Andrew W.K. would be bringing his band out for their first headlining tour in seven years to perform the album in its entirety in celebration of its (belated) tenth anniversary, I was quite excited. As energetic as the songs are on album, there are few things that capture lightning in a bottle that way that an Andrew W.K. live show does. On March 28, I was among the sold out audience at Paradise in Boston, MA to experience it.
Aleister X is a friend of Andrew W.K.'s who is signed to his label, Skyscraper Music Maker, so he was a logical choice to open the tour. Nothing else about the pairing, however, makes much sense. The rap/electronic/rock amalgamation would have fit better at a Gathering of the Juggalos than at a rock show. As Aleister bounced around on stage and his guitarist was drowned out by the blaring electronics, most of the audience just looked on in confusion as they performed for nearly 25 minutes. Aleister didn't seem to let that stop him from having a good time, though.
Next up was an equally eccentric but slightly more accessible pair, Massachusetts' own Math the Band. With their nonstop vigor, they were the perfect support for Andrew. The self-proclaimed "electro-punk spazz duo" is made up of founder Kevin Steinhauser, who spent the majority of the set climbing in and out of his guitar strap, and Justine Mainville, who handled the synth while playing a tom/cymbal drum combination and still had time for (intentionally?) bad dance moves. The two shared vocal duties, and while neither one is has a particularly good voice, together they are infectious. As the audience proved, it was hard not to bob along to their caffeine-fueled beats.
There was an hour wait before Andrew W.K. took the stage. After various chants, the audience began to grow restless; an understandable reaction, considering that the wait was longer than the other two acts' performances combined. But finally, it was time to party.
Andrew W.K. came on the stage, clad in his signature white T-shirt and white jeans. He was accompanied by his full backing band - four (!) guitarists, a bassist, a drummer and his wife/cheerleader, Cherie Lily. The stage was already crowded with eight people, and that's before audience members began to make their way up there. The set kicked off, as expected, with "It's Time To Party" before transitioning into the band's breakout hit, "Party Hard."
I don't know if he was partying a little too hard before the show or what, but it seemed to take Andrew a few songs to really get into the set. Once he did, however, he never let up. The performance of the 35-minute album was stretched into an hour, with Andrew performing interludes on the keyboard between many songs. He also riffed on a pizza-shaped guitar for entirely too long. And speaking of guitars, the band's four axemen were usually all playing the same riff. It made the guitars sound colossal, but the vocals were often lost in the mix.
Minor complaints aside, the performance was a blast. After the band completed I Get Wet, a man came on stage and proposed to his girlfriend, who accepted. They may have been drunk, but any girl who will accepts a proposal at an Andrew W.K. show is certainly marriage material. The band then returned for an encore featuring material from their other albums, including "Victory Strikes," "Long Live the Party," "Never Let You Down" and "You Will Remember Tonight." Andrew also performed a piano (by way of keyboard) cover of Chip Taylor's "Angel of the Morning." Additionally, the group played a new song, appropriately titled "Head Bang," which ends with a massive breakdown.
Just when you thought they were done, the band returned to the stage to perform "We Want Fun." Knowing this was the last song, members of the audience took advantage of the security's leniency and made their way onto the stage. They continued to pile on throughout the track's 4-minute duration until there was literally no more room and people began to stagedive off. It was a great way to end a night of partying. Here's to ten more years of getting wet and partying hard with Andrew W.K.!
After a year in which we've seen so many beloved bands call it quits, it's easy to lose sight of the fact that 2011 saw a number of great reunions as well. One of the most exciting, for my money, was The Early November. The New Jersey-based group is one that meant a lot to me during my high school years and, even beyond nostalgia, their songs remain impressive. I caught the band's "final" show at Bamboozle in 2007, and while I am grateful to have witnessed the event, seeing them play a short set in the middle of the day at a big festival never sat right as an appropriate sendoff.
All of these feelings, coupled with the fact that the band is back in action with a new album due out on Rise Records in 2012, made me highly anticipate attending the first of their four holiday shows. The brought their friends in Man Overboard and Hostage Calm to the Paradise in Boston, MA on December 26 for a late contender for one of the year's best shows.
It was the day after Christmas and jubilance remained in the air. Hostage Calm came out to a warm reception and wished everyone a happy holiday before heading into "War on a Feeling." The band played for nearly 25 minutes, with the majority of material coming from their self-titled album. A highlight of the band's set was their rally cry for equal rights for homosexuals, "Ballots/Stones." The venue unfortunately has a policy banning moshing and stage diving, but vocalist Chris Martin found a loophole: "You guys can't stage dive, so I'm gonna!" he said before hopping into the sea of people as their final song, "Jerry Rumspringer," kicked in.
I've had the pleasure of seeing Man Overboard around 10 times over the last three years. They have always been good, but their live show has improved a lot over the years. Seeing them is reminiscent of a Blink-182 show: they may not hit every single note, but you better believe that both they and the audience are having a great time. (They also share a penchant for changing select lyrics to be raunchy.) Their set, almost 45 minutes long, was a healthy mix of all of their material, from their debut demo to their new, self-titled album. They also included a few surprises, namely their holiday song, "Decemberism," and a full band version of the previously acoustic "Dear You."
The band's line-up currently has three guitarists, but most of the time two of them are playing the same chords. I wouldn't mind seeing co-vocalist Zac Eisenstein set down the six string and focus on singing at shows, as he is full of energy and it would allow for more crowd interaction. Regardless, he and co-vocalist/bassist Nik Bruzzese complement each other well. The band's set ended perfectly with the fan favorite "Love Your Friends, Die Laughing," which, in my opinion, should always be their closer.
The supporting acts were good, no doubt, but everyone was excited for The Early November to hit the stage in Boston for the first time in nearly five years. They entered with little fanfare. Instead, frontman Ace Enders merely asked the elated audience how they were doing before beginning to sing "Baby Blue." Enders had to cope with technical problems; the power on his guitar didn't work for the first two songs, so he set it aside and just sang. He looked a tad awkward (one person used the term "New Jersey fist pump" to describe his actions) but also seemed to relish the rare opportunity to get closer to the audience. After a lively rendition of "I Want To Hear You Sad," he apologized and said, "It wouldn't be a classic Early November show if things didn't break every 30 seconds."
The musicians seemed to have bottled up their energy during the band's hiatus. Bassist Sergio Anello was particularly enthusiastic, playing every note as if he were performing to a sold out stadium. The vigor peaked on "The Mountain Range In My Living Room," during which he jumped off of his cabinet, while guitarist/keyboardist Joseph Marro managed to break his guitar strap and inadvertently knock over his amp. After about an hour of playing, the band claimed "Figure It Out" would be their last song and briefly left stage, but the fans knew it wasn't over yet. Anello was the first to return to the stage, stating "I think encores are overdone, so we're just going to keep playing." He was joined by the rest of the band and they performed "Decoration" and "Every Night's Another Story" to end the night.
In the unlikely event that anyone had any doubts, I am happy to report that The Early November are back and better than ever! They sounded great and, more importantly, looked as happy as ever. They were very appreciate of the crowd, constantly thanking them while the audience reciprocated with cheers. I was unsure if the fanbase, the majority of which is now in their 20s now, would be jaded, but you would have thought it was 2004 in there. Enders also gave his bandmates their due (but not without ridiculing guitarist Bill Lugg's ugly, oversized sweater). They proved without words that they have reunited for the right reasons: to come together as friends and create music that they and their fans enjoy. And it's great to have them back.
It has been said many times that this fall (and 2011 in general) has been exceptionally good for new music. Let's not forget that the tours the artists are going on in support of those releases are equally as exciting. One of the more noteworthy line-ups as of late is a co-headlining tour between Saves the Day and Bayside with support from I Am the Avalanche and Transit. I caught the sold out show at the Royale in Boston, MA on October 8.
Opening the show was Massachusetts' own Transit. Frontman Joe Boynton said that the band hadn't had the chance to play in their home state to celebrate the release of their new album, Listen and Forgive, so they considered it their CD release show. Despite typically playing with no barricade, they received a warm reception from their hometown crowd as they split their half hour set between old and new material. They ended with "Please Head North," a fan favorite that got the crowd exited.
Up next was I Am the Avalanche. From the opening of "Brooklyn Dodgers," it was obvious that fans are happy to have the band back with their first new album in six years, Avalanche United. Perhaps no one seemed more excited than frontman Vinnie Caruana, as he was clearly joyed to sing the new songs and see fans reciprocate. The new material seems to have more energy behind it, and that translated well into the live show. Bayside's Anthony Raneri (to whom Caruana referred as "a much better singer than me") came out to sing on "Gravedigger's Argument." Their set concluded with "I Took A Beating," at the end of which Caruana called for a circle pit.
As previously mentioned, this is co-headlining run between Bayside and Saves the Day. While they alternate who closes out the show, they each play for about an hour. If the tour is in the same city two nights in a row, as it was in Boston, the bands change up their setlists a good deal to keep things interesting. I had the pleasure of attending two nights and thoroughly enjoyed them both. (Coincidentally, I think both Saves the Day's and Bayside's setlists were a little stronger on their respective "headlining" nights, but that's a matter of opinion.)
As a band with such an extensive back catalogue, it's always a surprise to see what Saves the Day will throw into their set. They are also supporting a new album, the recently released Daybreak. The end result was a handful of new songs mixed in with a healthy dose of fan favorites. Much has been said about the group's revolving members over the years, but the current line-up may very well be the best incarnation of Saves the Day yet, as cemented by the live show. Guitarist Arun Bali particularly shines, playing the older material with ease while showcasing his skills on the new songs.
Reaction to the new material was expectedly more reserved that that of old material, but a highlight of the night was witnessing the band perform "Daybreak" in its entirety. The five-part, ten and a half-minute track was executed to perfection by the band, leaving many fans in awe - although other attendees didn't seem to realize what they were witnessing. The band wrapped it up after that with "At Your Funeral" as the majority of the audience joined vocalist Chris Conley in singing along.
"Blame It On Bad Luck" is usually reserved for later in a Bayside set, so fans knew they were in for a treat when the band began their set with it. More accurately, Raneri began with it, performing the opening chorus and verse solo before being joined by his bandmates as the Bayside backdrop was released from the rafters. Their set ranged from their latest effort, Killing Time, to their early albums - although Shudder remains under-represented.
I have said it before and I will say it again: Bayside is one of the most consistent acts I've seen. Both live and on record, they never disappoint. The band is one of the few that can sound like they do on record in a live setting while still giving all their energy. Not to be outdone by Bali, Bayside guitarist Jack O'Shea is one of the standout guitarists in the scene, playing riffs and solos effortlessly. Caruana joined the band to sing his part of "The Walking Wounded" before ending the night on a high note with "Devotion and Desire."
Raneri said that, despite only being three days in, this is already his favorite tour that he has ever been on. And there's good reason for that: the line-up is one of the year's strongest, and all of the bands give it their all with no need for gimmicks. It's hitting most major markets, and I highly recommend attending if you're a fan of any act on the bill. You're guaranteed to be pleased from start to finish.
What better way to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Honda Civic Tour than by having the inaugural headliner return? When that band is Blink 182, there is simply no other option. While the 2001 tour took place in clubs, the band's (and the tour's) popularity has now landed them in large amphitheaters and the like. Add My Chemical Romance as director support and a good opener - Manchester Orchestra on the first leg - and you have yourself the recipe for yet another memorable year for the tour.
Manchester Orchestra may have a strong following on the site - and rightfully so - but the majority of people at the Comcast Center in Mansfield, MA on August 9 were unfamiliar with the Atlanta-based quintet. As they went on first, the large arena wasn't even half full when they opened with "Everything to Nothing." Fresh off of a slot at Lollaplooza (which was convenient, since I missed them at the festival), the band delivered a half hour of indie rock. I feel that their setlist could have been better, but their performance was solid. Although decidedly different from the acts that they were supporting, the band seemed to have won over some fans by the time they closed with "Pride."
Although seemingly billed as co-headliners, My Chemical Romance only played for about an hour. They still brought a lot of fans with them; it was clear that a number of people came out just for them and left after they played. Their performance wasn't quite as theatrical as when they headline, but they still brought a dark vibe, including low lighting and keyboard interludes between a few songs. Both the vocals and the guitars seemed a bit weak in the mix, but the band didn't let it slow them down.
My Chem's setlist was full of surprises. I was expecting to hear a lot of cuts off their latest effort, Danger Days, but was happy to hear a healthy mix of material. Only three tracks - "Planetary (GO!)" (during which giant balloons filled with confetti were batted around the arena), "The Kids from Yesterday," and "DESTROYA" - came from the new album. Surprisingly, they left out its two biggest singles, "Sing" and "Na Na Na." Even the opener and closer - "House of Wolves" and "Famous Last Words," respectively - were unconventional choices. The crowd went wild for the hits but seemed indifferent otherwise.
From the opening flanging drums of "Feeling This," Blink 182 had the thousands of people in attendance wrapped around their fingers. It seemed that the band was just as eager to showcase their new material as fans were to hear it, playing their new single, "Up All Night," second. They debuted three other new songs throughout the night. "Heart's All Gone" is a fast-paced number with a punk beat reminiscent of old school Blink but with Mark Hoppus experimenting with a different vocal key. Travis Barker is straight-up beastly on the drums in "Ghost on the Dancefloor," which has verses similar to Boxcar Racer's "There Is." "After Midnight" is more along the lines of what the band did on their self-titled album.
With the exception of a couple of curveballs (most notably "Violence" and "Man Overboard"), the remainder of the band's hour and a half set was filled with all of the hits you've come to know and love from the band (although "Adam's Song" was missed). Successful singles like "All The Small Things," "What's My Age Again?" and "I Miss You" received the loudest reactions, but the set concluded with some deep cuts that got older fans excited. They ended with a trio of old favorites - "Josie," "Carousel," and, as always, "Dammit" before playing the curse-riddled "Family Reunion."
Of course, half of the appeal of any Blink show is the stage banter. The band brought their A game for the tour, with plenty of crowd interaction and humorous jokes abound. Hoppus remarked, "I'm almost 40, and I'm still up here acting like a jackass." Tom DeLonge later said that there is "no one I would rather talk about buttholes and penises with than these guys." Barker also played his renowned drum solo. Unfortunately, he could not use the typical hydraulics due to the rain, but his performance was impressive even without the spectacle. The set even featured a laser light show.
I've seen Blink perform twice before this - once prior to their hiatus and again at their reunion tour in 2009 - and this was their best effort yet. Not only does the trio seem to be having as much fun as ever, but they also sound great. The band has never been known for their stellar live sound, but DeLonge in particular has stepped up his game. His guitar playing and vocals - both points of contention in the past - were tight and clean, and he still found time to make goofy faces and inappropriate gestures in between.
Chalk this one up to another victory for the Honda Civic Tour and all of the bands involved. If their live performance is any indication, Blink 182's highly anticipated album, Neighborhoods, will mark yet another improvement in the band's career. And with a decade of success behind them, the Honda Civic Tour is cementing itself as a traditional event with a reliably strong line-up that fans will look forward to every year.
Check out all of my photos from the show here. Watch some videos here.
In case you missed it, read the first part of my coverage here.
Sunday began with a little bit of Titus Andronicus. I only caught their last song, "Four Score and Seven," and then I went to see Rival Schools. Frontman Walter Schreifels is hardcore royalty, having previously been a part of Gorilla Biscuits, Youth of Today, Quicksand and more. Rival Schools is more rock oriented with some post-hardcore moments, but Schreifels has maintained his intensity after all these years.
While waiting around for City and Colour, I caught most of Noah & The Whale's set. They performed an instrumental cover of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody," which was pretty cool. As for City and Colour, I prefer it when Dallas Green is solo, but the full band performance added some nice harmonies as well as a slide guitar. That said, the highlight was when Green told everyone to put away their cameras and phones for an intimate, acoustic version of "Body in a Box." The hour-long set came to an end with "Sometimes (I Wish)."
Lollapalooza veterans Flogging Molly had one of the most fun crowds of the weekend, with many of the audience members wildly dancing to the band's Celtic/folk punk. They played fan favorites such as "Requiem for a Dying Song," "Float" and the set-ending "The Seven Deadly Sins." As if it were St. Patrick's Day, it seemed like everyone was Irish for that hour.
I caught a little bit of the The Cars, who, to my knowledge, were the eldest band on the show. They recently released their first album in 24 years, and the band still rocks it. I was a little surprised that they didn't play more of the hits; instead the set was heavy with new material. It still had a few classics, though, including "Just What I Needed," "Magic" and closer "You're All I've Got Tonight."
Portugal. The Man were up next. It was nearly poetic how they ended their set with "People Say" and a cover of Oasis' "Don't Look Back in Anger" before the foreboding, cloudy skies turned to rainfall. (Unfortunately, the band's luck was short-lived; their van and trailer were stolen that day.) The torrential downpour delayed the show for about a half hour. When it finally let up, the damage was done. With only a few ours left of an otherwise beautiful weekend, the field was reduced to a mess of mud. Naturally, this resulted in people drunkenly sliding around in it.
As a result of the delay, Arctic Monkeys and Explosions in the Sky each played abridged sets. The latter remarked that they had to "fit an hour of rock into 45 minutes." Neither group let the restraints slow them down, however. Explosions in the Sky's instrumental post-rock sounded excellent, but most people left their set toward to end to get a good spot for the day's main event.
While the audience was diluted - many people left during the rain, and Kid Cudi, Deadmau5 and Cold War Kids were all playing at the same time - Lollapalooza saved the best for last. In terms of showmanship, Foo Fighters delivered one of the best rock shows I've ever witnessed. It poured rain again for a short while during their two hour performance, but iconic frontman Dave Grohl exclaimed "I don't give a fuck if it's raining!" and continued to rock harder than ever. If anything, the rain only added to the monumental feel of the performance. Grohl even ended up in the audience at one point.
Foo Fighters played most of their hits ("All My Life" was noticeably absent, and their self-titled debut album was ignored), including "My Hero," "Learn to Fly," "Monkey Wrench," "Let It Die" and "Best of You." The also threw a couple of curve balls, such as "Cold Day in the Sun" with drummer Taylor Hawkins - whom dedicated the song to Perry Farrell - on vocals and a cover for Mose Allison's "Young Man Blues." The colossal performance concluded with "Everlong," after which an emphatic Farrell came out and thanked the crowd for their attendance.
My first Lollapalooza experience was undoubtedly a memorable one, and I hope to return for more fun in the future. As a music fan, it's truly a dream come true. There is a minimum of three bands performing at any given time, so even if you aren't familiar with anyone playing at a particular moment, you can walk around and discover a new favorite band. Nearly every artist expressed their joy in performing at the iconic event, and it's no surprise that it's just as fun to be in a band for the festival as it is being in the audience.
A special thanks goes out to the folks that make Lollapalooza happen, from the organizers, to the sponsors, to the bands, and everyone along the way. Additional kudos go to the officials of the city of Chicago, who close off the beautiful Grant Park and some of the surrounding streets to make way for the event. Putting together such a spectacular event takes a village (or city, as it were), but the end surely justifies the means.
So here we are, 20 years removed from Lollapalooza's inaugural run. I may have only been 2 years old when it started, but it's great to see that it's still going strong. (Tickets were sold out for all three days.) Sure, the type of music has strayed a bit from where it once was, and some may decry the mainstream appeal, but the core ideals remain intact. No matter what their pleasure, alternative music fans can find an escape at Lollapalooza.
Having started in 1991 under the conception of Jane's Addiction's Perry Farrell as well as Ted Gardener, Marc Geiger and Don Muller, this year marks the 20th anniversary of Lollapalooza. While it began as a tour, it has since turned into an annual festival. Since 2005, Grant Park in the heart of Chicago, IL has been invaded for three days of the summer with some of the biggest and up-and-coming acts in alternative music.
I couldn't ask for a better way to start the weekend: as I walked in, The Vaccines were playing a cover of Minor Threat's "Good Guys Don't Wear White." I love the original song, and The Brits put a nice spin on it. I then traveled across the vast layout of land to catch Young the Giant, who set the tone of the day for a strong performance that ended with "My Body."
I spent the next few hours exploring the various stages (there were eight in all) and catching bits and pieces of various bands. The Naked and Famous was a group with whose name I was familiar but I had never actually listened to their music. I remedied that and enjoyed their performance. I caught Electric Touch doing Ramones' "Blitzkrieg Bop." The song is oft-covered, but it still got the small crowd pogoing.
Based on their Rugrats-inspired moniker and recent signing to Vagrant Records, you wouldn't predict that Reptar makes indie music with Animal Collective-esque psychedelic tendencies. The best word to describe their upbeat set is eccentric. White Lies were next on my radar. I'm not familiar with their music, but "Death" seemed to be a fan favorite - not only did the crowd cheer when they announced that they were playing it, but a girl had a sign asking them to play it - and they closed with "Bigger Than Us."
Two Door Cinema Club brought a surprisingly large crowd to see them play. The Irish indie rockers did not let down the masses, with an hour-long set that included "Undercover Martyn," "Something Good Can Work," "What You Know," "I Can Talk" and more. Frontman Alex Trimble joked that being Irish and ginger meant he did not belong in the sun, yet he wore his jacket while playing in the heat.
I'm not a big fan of their music, but I wanted to check out Black Cards since Pete Wentz is a longtime supporter of our website. I was surprised to find that the Fall Out Boy bassist was without his four-string on stage. Instead, he acted as a hype man - the best of his kind since Public Enemy's Flava Flav. Without the bass to weigh him down, his energy was at an all-time high as he sang back-up vocals, DJed and got the crowd pumped while Bebe Rexha sang. In the 15 minutes or so that I saw, Wentz dove intro the crowd from the stage on three separate occasions, including once before the band even started. To accompany their electro-pop, the band was joined on stage by two scantily clad chicks in werewolf masks that danced, a freakish contortionist who could pop and lock like no other and even members of the audience at one point.
After that experience, I ran over to catch the remainder of The Mountain Goats for a total change of pace. Frontman John Darnielle performed a few songs solo before being rejoined by his bandmates. The trio performed a cover of Chicago natives Styx's "Babe," and Jenn Wasner from Wye Oak came out accompany the band with "This Year" to end their set.
I've been listening to Bright Eyes for years but had never actually seen them, so that was one set I couldn't miss. They opened with "Four Winds," and frontman Conor Oberst rocked out on the acoustic guitar harder than some people do on the electric. Throughout the set, Oberst played acoustically, electric, keys and even went without an instrument at one point. The majority of the set came from The People's Key and I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning. Two older fan favorites, "Lover I Don't Have To Love" (which featured a nice a trumpet crescendo) and "The Calendar Hung Itself," also snuck into the set. It ended with "One For You, One For Me," during which Oberst got really into the performance and sang at the barricade.
OK Go may be best known for their unorthodox and intricate music videos, but their live show delivers as well. They busted out the "instrument created by God himself" - hand bells, of course - to play "Return." Vocalist/guitarist Damian Kulash then declared that it was hippie time and performed "Last Leaf" in the middle of the large crowd with his acoustic guitar. I was surprised that they didn't close their show with their breakout hit "Here It Goes Again;" instead they played it mid-set and ended with "This Too Shall Pass."
Audiences seemed fairly divided for the headliner on Friday. Coldplay and Muse were the big draws, with Girl Talk also garnering some attention and Ratatat playing as well. While I'm not particularly into any of them, I went with Muse. After thanking the audience for watching, frontman Matthew Bellamy said, "We know you had options… you chose the right one." The band proved why with a killer hour and 45 minute set. It's hard to deny a performance that busts out a fireworks show behind the stage by the third song.
I am admittedly not all that familiar with Muse, but I was surprised to find that I knew the majority of the 17 songs they played. It seemed like nearly every one was a hit, including "Uprising," "Supermassive Black Hole," "Hysteria," "Resistance," "Time is Running Out" and "Starlight." Between songs, the band jammed on portions of other popular tracks, including The Animals' "House of the Rising Sun," Nirvana's "Negative Creep" and a Jimi Hendrix-esque rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner." The set ended with an encore consisting of "Plug In Baby" and "Knights of Cydonia."
Saturday kicked off for me with Australian indie duo An Horse. Such quality music coming from only two people instantly caught my attention. I loved the dual male/female vocal harmonizing they utilized, particularly on the set closer "Shoes Watch." Maps & Atlases were up next, and their fans were happy to have them back in their hometown. Their music is a nice mix of noodley math rock with a folk influence and some indie pop tendencies. The highlight of their set was "The Charm," which featured added percussion. They closed with their somber debut single, "Solid Ground."
Skylar Grey brought a big crowd to one of the smaller stages, which isn't surprisingly considering she was featured in a Dr. Dre's "I Need a Doctor" with Eminem (who was headlining that day). I only knew her from that guest spot, so I was pleased to find that she's a talented singer who also plays guitar and piano. In addition to performing songs from her upcoming solo debut, she also played portions of Radiohead's "Creep" and The Cranberries' "Zombie." She closed with a medley of her popular hooks, culminating with "Love the Way You Lie" (which she actually co-wrote).
I stuck around to catch a little bit of The Chain Gang of 1974. By the band's second experimental track, mastermind Kamtin Mohager took to the crowd, microphone stand and all, to sing. From there, I caught a bit of Death from Above 1979. The duo reunited this year, but they haven't missed a beat in the time that they've been gone. The sound was appropriately muddy for their punk/noise rock. The energy of vocalist/drummer Sebastien Grainger was impressive, and he kept the pace up for an hour.
Patrick Stump's set was delayed for nearly 15 minutes for unknown reasons, but he made up for it with an enthusiastic performance. He and his backing band all wore suits, but it didn't slow them down. Stump seemed to be channeling Michael Jackson in nearly all aspects: the catchy pop tunes, the impressive pipes, the quirky outfit and the commanding stage presence.
I ran over to catch a bit of the Deftones' set. I could hardly see a thing due to the large audience. It was great to find the good response, considering they were probably the heaviest act on the bill. I'd love to see more of their ilk on the line-up in the future. I also caught a little bit of Local Natives, who covered Talking Heads' "Warning Sign."
Cee Lo Green's set was an odd one. He wore Legion of Doom-style shoulder pads and had a full band of hot female musicians, but people seemed generally disinterested until he was playing his former group Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy" and his big hit "Fuck You." A good portion of his time was spent performing unexpected covers, including Danzig's "Mother," Violent Femmes' "Gone Daddy Gone," Billy Idol's "Flesh For Fantasy" and ending with Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'." Green has a good voice, but his show was perhaps the most disappointing of the weekend.
Atmosphere played second to last, serving as the perfect precursor to the main event of Eminem. I always enjoy hip hop more when it's performed with a live band, and Slug's rhymes sounded better than ever with a full band behind him, along with Ant's DJ skills. Their hour-long set ended with "Trying to find a Balance" and "Yesterday."
Eminem's set was certainly one of the highlights of the weekend. This was one of only a handful of concerts that the top-selling rapper has performed since his hiatus from music in 2005. Fans knew it was rarity, as he brought out the biggest crowd of the weekend. I don't think I've ever seen so many people confined to one space. This was unfortunate for My Morning Jacket, as they went on at the same time - and I heard the crowd was relatively small.
Eminem's set spanned the majority of his storied career. For most songs, he only sang the first verse or two in order to maximize the output. It was nice to hear more that way; the only instance it bothered me was when the last two verses of "Stan" - some of his best work, in my opinion - were excised. He played most of his singles, including blasting through three of his biggest hits, "My Name Is," "The Real Slim Shady" and "Without Me," in a medley of sorts. He also did a few of his guest spots, including B.o.B's "Airplanes Pt. II," and a couple of unexpected tracks, like "Kill You."
Sklyar Grey came out to sing her part on "I Need a Doctor," and Royce da 5'9 joined Eminem for the Bad Meets Evil joint "Fast Lane," but the biggest surprise of the night came when Bruno Mars joined them to perform "Lighters." I wish Mars had a set of his own at the show, but it was a nice treat to see him in this capacity. Em ended his nearly flawless set with "Not Afraid" before coming back for an encore with "Lose Yourself."
I can't think of a better way to start the Warped Tour than by seeing one of my favorite bands, so I didn't mind that The Wonder Years were playing so early in the day at the Mansfield, MA date on July 13. (I had to sit through The Ready Set, who played on the other half of the amphitheater's stage, first.) Despite being among the earliest acts, a throng of kids were piled into the pit area and stadium seats to watch one of modern pop punk's finest. From the opening "Local Man Ruins Everything" to the closing "Washington Square Park," the band's half hour show set the bar high in terms of both band performance and crowd reaction for the remainder of the day.
Unwritten Law began playing next, but I was rushing across the crowded landscape to make my way to see Set Your Goals. I only caught their first three songs - "Exit Summer," "Echoes" and "Goonies Never Say Die" - but it was nice to hear material from all of their releases. Even in that short time, vocalists Jordan Brown and Matt Wilson made their way down to the barricade to allow emphatic fans to sing along.
It's always a blast to see Patent Pending, and Warped was no different. The band unfortunately played on a stage that was not listed on the iconic blow-up schedule, but their small yet loyal fanbase sought them out. Frontman Joe Ragosta was as off-the-wall as ever, with the outdoor atmosphere lending additional opportunities for fun. He jumped around on stage, went to the barricade so fans could sing, crowd surfed and even jumped into the crowd and lead them in running around the sound booth. Despite blowing the stage's generator twice in the span of about 10 minutes, the energetic gang didn't miss a beat.
I headed back to the amphitheater for The Dangerous Summer and caught the tail end of Simple Plan's set, who had a huge crowd. Much like Sum 41 last year, Simple Plan should have been on a bigger stage, because people were interested in seeming them - be it for nostalgia or otherwise. They closed with "I'd Do Anything" and, grievously, the place cleared out while The Dangerous Summer got started. The non-believers were treated to the excellent opener "Where I Want To Be" as they exited. The humble remaining crowd enjoyed themselves as the band played material from both of their albums until the fervent conclusion of "Work In Progress."
Not long after this, the rain began to fall. Massachusetts seems to be cursed for Warped weather. Tradition dictates that attendees must suffer through record-breaking high temperatures or a violent downpour of rain. Luckily, I found refuge inside because I was filming an acoustic session. On the downside, the rain forced me to miss one band that I really wanted to see: Foxy Shazam.
The rain let up by the time that A Day To Remember took to the main stage - which featured giant, animated renditions of their faces hovering over the platform. Not surprisingly, the band had the largest crowd of the day. Scene kids, hardcore bros, tweens and punks alike flocked to watch as the Florida quintet played their signature amalgamation of hardcore and pop punk. During "Heartless," vocalist Jeremy McKinnon called for the classic Warped Tour circle pit around the sound booth and later had the crowd divide down the middle for a pseudo-wall of death. Needless to say, the crowd was into it.
I saw A Skylit Drive play their last song, "Too Little Too Late." I'm not a fan of the band, but thy brought a good sized crowd to the small stage. Following them was Terrible Things. I was disappointed to see that only a handful of people were there to watch such talented musicians, but they still rocked it. The band's members are no stranger to Warped: vocalist/guitarist Fred Mascherino played it in both Taking Back Sunday and The Color Fred and drummer Josh Eppard played while he was in Coheed and Cambria. They recently lost Andy Jackson of Hod Rod Circuit fame from the line-up, but they were tight as a trio. Their set concluded with a portion of Led Zeppelin's "The Song Remains the Same" before segueing into their own "Revolution."
The show ended on a heavy note this year. The last band to play on the second page was the The Acacia Strain, who were introduced by frontman Vincent Bennett as "the fucking outcasts of this tour." The self-proclaimed angry band proceeded to play what was quite possibly the heaviest set of the day. They had a relatively small crowd, since it was the end of the day and they went on at the same time as fellow heavy-hitters August Burns Red, but they still had a rambunctious pit brewing from their homestate crowd. After they ended with a slowed, heavier-than-ever version "Carbomb" to give fans one last chance to mosh, I caught the last couple of August Burns Red songs. They always put on a good show with solid musicianship.
Warped Tour was as fun as always this year. I missed a lot of bands that I wanted to see and hardly had time to check out the vendors, but that's to be expected with such a hectic schedule. The line-up offered plenty of talented groups no matter what your preferences are. In the coming weeks, I will be posting acoustic sessions from Relient K, Less Than Jake, Unwritten Law, Terrible Things and Patent Pending. Lastly, you can see all of my photos from the show at alexislegend.com.
"This is the first night of the Take Action Tour. Isn't that cool?" Bayside frontman Anthony Raneri asked the excited audience at the Paradise in Boston on April 22. "We were like, 'Where can we go that people will be really excited and we can kick off this tour in style?' So, naturally, we came to Boston." The crowd roared with approval.
Although I could make plenty of arguments as to why Raneri was correct in saying that there is no better place than Boston, the truth is that anywhere is a great place for the Take Action Tour. Not only is the line-up - Bayside, Silverstein, Polar Bear Club, The Swellers and Texas In July - among the best in the tour's 10-year history, but it's always excellent to see musicians supporting a good cause. This year's charity is Sex, Etc., which provides sex education for teens.
The night started out with a (head)bang as Texas In July took the stage. As a relatively unknown metalcore band, they were the odd man out of the tour. That will likely change, however; not only did the group just release their Equal Vision Records debut, but the tour is sure to be great exposure for them. Although they seemed a bit too heavy for some of the crowd members, their breakdowns got others moshing during their 20-minute set.
The Swellers were up next. They came out to the spoken-word track "Wasted Youth" from Meat Loaf's Bat Out of Hell II. Because the band only had a half hour, I wish they had cut the lengthy intro in favor of another song. It was the group's first U.S. show in months (prior to this, they had toured overseas and recorded a new album), but they played a solid set and received a warm reaction from the crowd.
I was hoping to hear more material from their forthcoming Good For Me, but the lone new song they played was "The Best I Ever Had," which was released online that day. I'm glad they still throw "Bottles" from their first album into the mix. The rest of their set came from Ups and Downsizing, including my personal favorite, "2009," to end the set. The energetic song works well as a closer.
Polar Bear Club took the stage for the next 30 minutes. They played a mix of material from both of their full-lengths, concluding with a rousing performance of "Living Saints." They also played a new song, titled "Bottled Wind." If it's any indication of what's in store for their new album, Clash Battle Guilt Pride, fans will undoubtedly be pleased.
Vocalist Jimmy Stadt said that they were given notes on what to say about the tour. "'Tell a sex joke.' Anyone? I don't know a goddamn sex joke!" The raspy-voiced frontman instead expressed the band's excitement in doing their first charity tour. Between this and a spot on last year's AP Fall Ball Tour, the group seems to finally be getting some much-deserved exposure.
The tour is a co-headlining bout between Silverstein and Bayside, and on the premiere stop Silverstein played second-to-last. The Take Action alumni (they played in 2006) came out with the ferocious "Vices" and didn't let up for over 50 minutes until they ended with "Bleeds No More."
The band played a solid mix of material from each of their albums. The tunes from their new album, Rescue, fit in perfectly. They played a lot of faster songs, with bassist Billy Hamilton's backing screams giving the heavier moments a more robust sound. There was also a lighter moment in vocalist Shane Told performing an acoustic rendition of "Replace You." At one point, Told's microphone cut out so he did what anyone would do in such a situation: a stage dive.
I was impressed that the band played quick covers of Kid Dynamite's "Pits and Poisoned Apples" and American Nightmare's "Hearts" - which appear on the band's recent Record Store Day 7" (of which the band had a few copies at their merch table) - but disappointed by how clueless most of the audience was, especially since it was Boston. Nevertheless, Told said that the first show of a tour usually isn't that great, but Boston was "fucking killing it."
Bayside is easily one of the most consistent bands in the scene, both live and on record. They proved their dependability once again with their hour-long set. Raneri sounds like he could be in the studio at every show, and lead guitarist Jack O'Shea's talents are under-appreciated. The set featured choice cuts from each of their five full-lengths (although only one song - "The Ghost of St. Valentine" - from Shudder; it seems to be the black sheep of the band's catalogue, despite having some solid tracks).
The band kicked off with "Already Gone," which proved to be just as great an opener for a show as it is on their new album, Killing Time (which they were selling for only $5). Other highlights included an acoustic performance of "Don't Call Me Peanut" with plenty of crowd participation, "Masterpiece" for the old school kids and concluding with the fan favorite to "Devotion and Desire."
The tone of the night - from both the bands and the audience - was one of joy. Everyone was happy to support a great cause with an excellent line-up of music. The Swellers frontman Nick Diener said it best: "We don't have any choreographed dance moves for you. We've just got these guitars and these amplifiers and this drum set and my voice. It's not a computer; it's a real goddamn voice. So thank you for supporting real music."
Snooki - Sgt. Pickle’s Drunken Dance Club Band
Release Date: November 23, 2011
Record Label: MTV Records
Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi is taking over the world. The television personality has transcended her reality TV fame from MTV’s Jersey Shore to become a genuine pop culture icon. Her recent book, A Shore Thing, is a certified New York Times best seller. She is even competing in a wrestling match at WWE’s WrestleMania XXVII on Sunday.
Now, she has shown herself to be an accomplished musician with Sgt. Pickle’s Drunken Dance Club Band, in which Snooki successfully interweaves everything from hip-hop to hardcore. The genre-defying debut is a three-disc, biographical concept album detailing the fascinating life of the songstress.
The record kicks off with “Damn it Feels Good to Be a Gremlin.” The gangster rap opener sets the pace for the album while simultaneously confirming everyone’s suspicious: that Snooki is, in fact, a gremlin. “Orange You Glad I’m Orange?” is the breakout hit of the disc. The Blink 182-esque pop punk single boasts an infectious chorus with the lyrics “Orange you glad I’m orange? / Nothing rhymes with orange.”
Snooki’s vocal abilities really shine on the album’s title track. She provides both high-pitched shrieks and low, guttural growls for the symphonic black metal opus. “Jersey Whore” is noteworthy because Snooki reveals that its title is what she originally thought was the name of Jersey Shore, thus explaining her actions on the program.
Snooki enlists her Jersey Shore cohort Paul “Pauly D” DelVecchio for “Can You Believe We’re Still Relevant?” Pauly D displays his impressive DJ skills with an obnoxious, monotonous beat that is sure to have sweaty people awkwardly grinding against one another in the club. The exciting guest spots do not end there. “Snooki Monster” is a duet with Sesame Street favorite Cookie Monster, whose gruff vocals perfectly compliment Snooki’s angelic crooning. The heartfelt, orchestral ballad celebrates their common love for cookies.
The star-studded “Disturbing the Peace” is a reggaeton jam featuring fellow alcoholic-socialites-turned-failed-pop-singers Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton. “GTL: Gravy, Tabaco, Liquor” is a straight-up rock jam about the three food groups that Snooki acknowledges. It features a face-melting guitar solo from Nickelback’s Chad Kroeger.
Other standout tracks include “I Got Punched in the Face and All I Got Was $30,000 For the Episode,” “Tickle Your Pickle for a Pickle,” and “A Guido’s Life For Me.”
It’s safe to say that Sgt. Pickle’s Drunken Dance Club Band is not only the album of the year, but perhaps the best piece of music ever recorded. Snooki has cemented her place has the songbird of our generation with an album that will go down as one of the greatest accomplishments in history.
Co-headlining tours can be disastrous. Too often, there is one band that consistently outshines and outdraws the other. Further, there are times when the respective audiences don't mesh. These issues were not a problem for the Say Anything/Motion City Soundtrack tour, however. The pairing was a match made in heaven when it rolled through the House of Blues in Boston on November 8.
Opening the show was A Great Big Pile of Leaves. The Brooklyn trio's indie rock sound doesn't match the pop punk tone of the rest of bill, but they refused to let that affect their performance. Their 25-minute set was especially impressive considering that this is the first real tour.
Saves the Day was up next. They have been an active group longer than the other bands on the tour, but they were nothing but happy to be part of such a great package. Frontman Chris Conley's showed off his soaring pipes throughout the 45-minute offering, with a set featuring a mix of everything from old favorites ("Rock Tonic Juice Magic", "Third Engine") to brand new songs from the band's forthcoming Daybreak.
Motion City Soundtrack was scheduled to play next, but the audience received a special treat that night. The band entered the stage playing the pulsating beat of Nine Inch Nails' "Head Like a Hole". They were joined by Say Anything vocalist Max Bemis to sing the spot-on cover.
Following the song, the band explained that their singer, Justin Pierre, had lost his voice. In lieu of canceling the show, they recruited some of their talented tourmates to fill in. While some members of the audience seemed disappointed to not see the band in their full capacity, most were excited at the prospect of what other surprises were in store.
And the surprises kept coming. The Starting Line frontman Kenny Vasoli, who is filling in on bass for Say Anything on the tour, sang the next two songs, including fan favorite "My Favorite Accident." He would return later in the set to sing three more tunes.
Other guests included A Great Big Pile of Leaves' energetic singer Pete Weiland, Say Anything guitarist Jake Turner, Saves the Day drummer Claudio Rivera, Saves the Day guitarist Arun Bali, and Conley. The latter concluded the unique engagement with atypical closer "Hold Me Down".
Not every guest knew all of the words to their respective songs due to the last-minute nature of the endeavor, but they all seemed to enjoy themselves - and the audience was more than happy to fill in any blanks. Pierre didn't make a peep all night, but he rocked out harder than ever on his guitar to make up for it.
Say Anything had a tough act to follow, but they managed to match the fun of Motion City Soundtrack's performance. They kicked it off with "Crush'd", an awkward choice for an opener which they made work. Their hour and fifteen-minute set contained many mid-tempo, beat-heavy songs ("Baby Girl, I'm a Blur", "Do Better"), but the crowd went wild whenever they busted out a faster tune.
The set contained a couple of surprise treats as well. The band played "Colorblind" from their little-known, self-released debut, Baseball. They were also joined by members of Saves the Day to perform "Crawl" from Two Tongues, a collaborative project between Bemis and Conley. The set ended on a high note with a rousing rendition of the anthemic "Admit It!"
Bemis noted multiple times how happy he was to be on the tour and how appreciative he was of the crowd. He even went as far as saying that it is his favorite tour of which he has ever been a part. And, judging by the hoarse voices and smiling faces of fans as they exited the venue, much of the audience was in agreement.
Additional videos available here. See all of my photos here.
I have to preface this with a fairly unprofessional note. I've had the pleasure of photographing many groups that I truly admire and even bands that have sold millions of records, but I've never really had the opportunity to shoot a true "rock star" - until now. I had the distict honor of capturing a grand rock concert when Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers rolled through the Comcast Center in Mansfield, MA on August 21st as part of the Mojo Tour. I had grown up listening to Petty's music, thanks to my mother, but have only recently grown to really appreciate his music. I am now a full-fledged fan and couldn't wait to see him live.
The crowd for this event was an interesting one. It ranged from young kids with their parents to old hippies and bikers, with everyone in between. This is a testament to how timeless rock and roll really is. Petty's appeal seamlessly spans generations, and thankfully, he doesn't seem to be backing down any time soon.
My Morning Jacket kicked off the show. They jammed on one song after another without missing a beat. I was a bit surprised that their set lasted an hour and fifteen minutes. They played the songs you'd expect: "Off the Record", "I'm Amazed", and set closer "One Big Holiday", among others. Although they were the youngest of the openers (support on other dates included Crosby, Stills & Nash, Joe Cocker, and ZZ Top), they proved that they could hang with the best of 'em.
When Tom Petty and his band of Heartbreakers hit the stage with "Listen to Her Heart", the crowd erupted. With as many hits as he has, it's difficult to include all of the favorites a setlist. Petty managed to fit in the majority of the staples, including "Free Fallin'", "I Won't Back Down", "Breakdown", "Refugee", and "Runnin' Down a Dream". I was also surprised that they worked in three covers: Fleetwood Mac's "Oh Well", Chuck Berry's "Carol", and Them's "Mystic Eyes", all of which sounded nice sung through Petty's signature croon.
About halfway through their two hour set, the band performed four songs from their new album, Mojo. Much of the audience seemed to use this time as an intermission, but they missed out on some good tunes. The new album has some great bluesy material, further displaying the skill of underrated guitarist Mike Campbell. However, everyone was re-energized by the time they went back to the classics. The whole band was spot-on all night, but I was particularly impressed by how good Petty's vocals sounded.
Epitomizing the timelessness of Petty's music, the band concluded their encore with a rousing rendition of "American Girl". Despite being released over thirty years ago and the band members' ages being nearly double that, the song had everyone in the venue singing along. As stars and stripes illuminated the stage, it was clear that Petty never lost his mojo.
With alumni like Blink-182, Fall Out Boy, and Dashboard Confessional, Paramore has some big shoes to fill by headlinging the Honda Civic Tour this summer. Raising the stakes even more is the fact that last year's incarnation of tour was canceled. With support from New Found Glory, Teagan and Sara (on most dates), and newcomers Kadawatha, the tour has a little something for everyone. I caught a show early on in the tour on July 28th in Mansfield, MA.
Kadawatha kicked off the night with a five-song set. The band was originally formed as a solo project by Sri Lankian Daniel Kadawatha in 2008 before rounding up some of his Swedish brethren to fill out the band. The tour marked not only the group's first time in America but also their first real tour, making their 25-minute appearance all the more impressive. Their brand of alternative rock fit perfectly in the stadium setting, even if the crowd had yet to fill in. It's their loss, however, as the band has the potential to go places. While most of the attendees were unfamiliar with Kadawatha prior to the concert, it was evident by the time the members collapsed to the ground during their set's conclusion that they will not remain unknown for long.
A pleasant surprise for this date was that Relient K was filling in for the absent Teagan and Sara. I was a little disappointed that their setlist only contained material from the last three albums. They did throw in a cover of Toto's "Africa", but most of the young audience was unfamiliar with it. The crowed cheered loudly for "Who I Am Hates Who I've Been", which would have been a great closer, but the band instead followed it with "Devastation and Reform" to end the set. Despite these minor gripes, they sounded tight and put on a good show.
This was my fourth time seeing New Found Glory in less than a year, and they never disappoint. Despite being the elders of the tour, they have energy like no other. Their 45-minute set was more accessible than usual, busting out audience-friendly songs like "It's Not Your Fault" and their cover of "Kiss Me". They still played some fast-paced tunes, including "Something I Call Personality" and "Don't Let Her Pull You Down". During the latter, people came on stage with signs to prompt the audience to participate in the "Don't" "Let" "Her" gang vocals during the chorus, and at one point they held up alternative signs that said "Buy" "Our" "Merch". The band had no trouble getting the audience to sing along when they ended their set with their biggest hit, "My Friends Over You".
Paramore came out to the piercing screams of the thousands of fans in attendance. Light bulbs swayed from the rafters while the band kicked in with "Ignorance". Living up to her vivid red hair, vocalist Hayley Williams ran out onstage like a little fireball while she sang. About halfway through the set, a couch and lamp were brought onto the stage, making the large venue feel like a cozy home. The band proceeded to play four acoustic songs, including a cover of Loretta Lynn's "You Ain't Woman Enough (To Take My Man)", which the band dedicated to their hometown of Nashville, Tennessee.
Paramore's set included a couple of cuts from their debut ("Emergency", "Pressure"), their latest single ("Careful"), and bit of everything in between. As the band played "The Only Exception", Williams ceased singing to alert security of a crowd member who was fighting. She was met with cheers and seamlessly went back to crooning. At the end of the song, a barrage of sparks rained from the ceiling before the arena went dark. The band came back out a moment later to conclude their set with an encore of "Brick By Boring Brick" and "Misery Business". During the latter, confetti was blasted from a canon to cap off a top-notch show with a bang.
I've been an avid attendee of the Warped Tour for the better part of the last decade, but the last few years have made me question whether or not I would continue what has become a summer tradition. The line-up has consistently decreased in quality, making it obvious that I am loosing touch with the current music scene, but I ultimately end up having a good time and catching at least a few good bands. With a decent line-up for the gig's 16th anniversary, I was happy to cover the Massachusetts date of the tour this year.
Once I had all of my press issues sorted out, I was immediately faced with a tough decision when I saw the giant, inflatable schedule for the day. Every Time I Die, Four Year Strong, and Polar Bear Club were all playing at around the same time. I decided to go with Every Time I Die since I had seen them least recently. They always put on an energetic set, so it was a great way to start the day. I was happy to find that they still played Hot Damn-era songs ("Ebolorama", "She's My Rushmore", "Floater", which featured a wall of hugs) along with the newer material. They closed with "We'rewolf", and I rushed to see a couple of Four Year Strong songs. They brought a big crowd for their home-state show, and every one of them was singing along as they ended their set with "Heroes Get Remembered, Legends Never Die".
There was a little break in the afternoon, which I spent doing press and checking out some of the booths. Amongst the plethora of ugly, flashy band merchandise and dehydrated kids puking, there was some cool stuff to be found. Andrew WK had his own "party tent" where he appeared to meet with fans; there were skateboarders riding on a half-pipe; Trojan gave out free condoms; Wonka gave out free candy; Truth spread information about the dangers of tobacco via games of Simon Says with onlookers. (Note: Truth bears no responsibility for content created by third parties.)
I spent much of the remainder of the day at the main stage (dubbed the Teggart Stage), beginning with We The Kings. Highlights of their set included a solid cover of Jimmy Eat World's "The Middle", which vocalist Travis Clark professed to be his favorite song, and "We'll Be A Dream" with Cassadee Pope of Hey Monday filling in for Demi Lovato's part. All American Rejects, who drew a big crowd, followed. I don't know if the heat got to him or he's always like this, but vocalist Tyson Ritter had some ridiculous stage banter between songs. Clad in a white suit in the blistering heat, he rambled on about a number of things in what I assume were attempts to be humorous but came off more crazy than anything. They played all of the expected hits, including "Dirty Little Secret", "Move Along", and "Gives You Hell", the latter of which proved to be great for crowd participation.
Alkaline Trio followed. While I don't dislike their new material, I was happy that their set contained a lot of old material, including fan favorites like "Private Eye", "Stupid Kid", and the set-ending "97". I was a little disappointed that "Radio" was left out, but I can't complain after hearing all of the other great songs. It was during their set that the rain began to fall. While it wasn't nearly as bad as the torrential downpours of the two preceding years, it continued for the remaining three hours of the show. Then it was Motion City Soundtrack's turn, and the big crowd didn't seem to be bothered by the rain. Fans sang along especially loud to the band's hits, "L.G. Fuad" and "Everything Is Alright".
Reel Big Fish, whose tent provided me with some cover from the rain, was up next. I only caught a few of their songs - fan favorites "Sell Out" and "I Want Your Girlfriend to Be My Girlfriend Too" among them - but they were fun. I then ran to the pavilion to see Sum 41. I caught the last song by The Casualties, who proved that there are still some punk bands on Warped. Sum 41, despite not being on the main stage, brought in a huge crowd who went wild for the older material. I stayed for about half of their set, but apparently I missed them cover the Rolling Stones' "Paint It Black" and end with "Fat Lip". Disappointing, but I knew I knew I had to be back to see Andrew W.K.
I can't think of a better way to end Warped Tour than with Andrew W.K. Unfortunately, many people seemed to disagree, as the place had nearly emptied for the final performer. Regardless, Andrew came out with "It's Time to Party" and didn't stop until his set concluded with his breakout hit, "Party Hard", with the stage filled with bodies. It was the perfect way to cap off a fun day.
It's difficult enough trying to catch all of the bands you want on the tour, but adding press coverage to the day only ups the stress. I did film acoustic Backstage Sessions with Emarosa, VersaEmerge, The Swellers, AM Taxi, and We Are The In Crowd, which will be available for your viewing pleasure in the near future. Unfortunately I somehow missed all of those bands' live sets, but you won't be disappointed by their acoustic performances.
With a diverse line-up, Warped Tour has something for everyone. It's great to see that the tour is still going strong after 15 years. We can complain all we want about how it has changed over the years, but it simply wouldn't make sense if it was ran the same way now. At the end of the day, it still provides the same kind of affordable fun for music fans.
Student and non-student music fans alike packed into the UMass Dartmouth auditorium for Delta Pi Omega and UMD Concert Tech's third annual Rock-A-Wish concert. Big D and the Kids Table, Just Surrender, and Night Fevers made up the eclectic line-up to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation on a night filled with fun music for a good cause.
Kicking off the event was Night Fevers, a fresh rock group from New York with a heavy emphasis on groove. Most of the audience was unsure of what to expect from the band when they saw vocalist Jack Tangney make his way to the stage with his wild, red afro and customized, golden microphone stand equipped with a brass knuckle handle. Being an unknown opening act can be hard, as made evident by the apprehensive crowd sitting in the auditorium seats. Drummer William Tully brought a quick end to the awkwardness by going out into the audience to get them up to the front of the stage. It paid off, because from that point on both the band and crowd seemed to enjoy themselves more. Night Fevers have been together for less than a year and are unsigned, but by the time the band concluded their set with the spirited "Way I Am", it was clear that embody they radio-ready sound and chemistry that labels look for.
Up next was New York's Just Surrender, who treated the audience to a fun set of dual-vocal pop-punk. The band played a number of cuts from their two full-length albums. Since they had 50 minutes to fill, they threw in some songs that they don't normally play live, as well as two brand new tracks that will appear on the band's forthcoming release, Phoenix. Guitarist Dan Simons was the most charismatic of the quintet. In addition to handling a lot of the lead vocals, he toyed with the crowd by professing his love for both the Yankees and a girl standing in the front row. He also performed a solo number entitled "Is There No Truth In Beauty?", which showcased his individual talents. My only complaint with their set is that the guitars were too low in the sound mix, but that didn't stop anyone from enjoying their catchy tunes.
Ska fans had been waiting all night to skank along to some good, old-fashioned ska - so much so that they many were dancing to songs played over the P.A. system between sets. So as soon as Big D and the Kids Table hit the stage with the opening number, "Little Bitch", everyone went wild. The Massachusetts natives played a set lasting over an hour with material both old and new, including such fan favorites as "My Girlfriend's on Drugs", "Hell on Earth", "Steady Riot", "Noise Complaint". The band's newer material mixes their traditional ska sound with reggae and soul influences, but they seemed more comfortable playing their older material, with frontman David McWane bouncing around on stage like a true rock frontman rather standing still while crooning. Fans were also hungry for the older, energetic material, during which they went as wild as possible in the ten foot area between the stage and the first row of auditorium seats. The location proved to be problematic, as made evident by the couple of chairs left dismantled by the night's end, but everyone was having a good time. Big D's encore culminated with the F-bomb-filled anthem, "LA.X".
Delta Pi Omega and UMD Concert Tech both deserve a huge congratulations on the success of their latest Rock-A-Wish concert and a thank you for not only raising money for a good cause but also getting bands that people actually want to see - a rarity for the school. The Concert Tech crew deserves additional kudos for the professional-quality light show they constructed.
Also be sure to check out videos of Big D's and Just Surrender's full sets here and here, respectively.