Manchester Orchestra has already cemented itself in an exclusive upper echelon of bands. With two full-lengths, I’m Like A Virgin Losing A Child and 2009’s Album of the Year, Mean Everything to Nothing, the Atlanta natives have given themselves a name among a short list of bands that includes the likes of Brand New and Thrice.
Frontman Andy Hull has always been noted for impressive songwriting, and with Man Orch’s third full-length, Simple Math, listeners find Hull at his most sincere. The lyrics on opener “Deer” say enough: “Dear everyone I ever really knew / I acted like an asshole so I could keep my edge on you / Ended up abusing even those I thought of most / And I killed the kingdom with one move.” Hull has never been more introspective than he has been on Simple Math, allowing listeners a look into his relationship with his wife, Amy, and recent personal problems he has encountered.
Simple Math isn’t as good as Mean Everything To Nothing in a direct comparison, but it’s truly hard to compare the two. There are vast differences in Hull’s vocal stylings, the overall sound of the band and the overall sonic sphere of the record. It’s way less grungy, first of all, something that I was not stoked to find out at first. But there are still heavy hitters here, as “Mighty” comes across a bit like “Pride” on METN. “Pensacola” is probably my favorite so far, a lighthearted and catchy number on a record full of darker and more intimate songs. “April Fool” is a solid single, while the already-released title track features the most beautiful arrangements on the album. “Virgin,” which was debuted via SoundCloud yesterday, is another moneymaker on the record, perhaps the most powerful song present.
“Leave It Alone,” “Apprehension” and “Leaky Breaks” combine together to form a beast of an ending to this album. As a whole, Simple Math took a while to hit me. I started off thinking it was well short of a predecessor, but on a random listen outdoors while in the company of good friends, it all hit me at once for some reason. Hull seems to have written exactly the record he wanted to release, and you can’t help but feel happy for the guy, because as you’ll find out on this album, he’s had his fair share of tough times.
The Dirty Work Tour - April 1, 2011 in Orlando, Fla. All Time Low/Yellowcard/Hey Monday/The Summer Set
All Time Low was headlining the April Fool's Day show of the Dirty Work tour. The band had the longest set time, the most stage decorations and the most fans at Orlando's House of Blues. But for some in the crowd, the real attraction was one of the openers.
Yellowcard, fresh off the release of its first record in almost four years, took the third spot on the tour package, playing their first full American tour since returning from their hiatus. By eavesdropping on the conversations those were having around me, I realized that my sister and I weren't the only persons of legal age in attendance who were anticipating Yellowcard's set the most.
Before the Jacksonville natives could take the stage for their de-facto "hometown" show of the tour, there were two opening acts to kick things off. The Summer Set got things going with their very poppy brand of pop rock, appealing to many of the high school-aged, All Time Low merch-clad fans in attendance. However the band had a less than stellar stage presence, really only taking control of the crowd in spurts. On top of that, the band's sound wasn't extremely enthralling. Typical watered down pop rock, buoyed by the unique awesomeness of a girl drummer who was actually a badass behind the kit. But really, aside from the cool chance to watch an awesome girl drummer, this band was a boring fill-in of 25 minutes.
Hey Monday was next, and the simple thing to say is that they were better than the band before them. Cassadee Pope is a confident and foxy lead singer who will one day develop into a charming and formidable frontwoman. The band weaved through a set of pop rock songs that was somewhat inconsistent. The most popular songs were obvious by the amount of crowd interaction, and those songs were the clear standouts. Aside from those few, we were subjected to a good amount of run-of-the-mill pop rock, really only made worthwhile by Pope's vocals.
Before Yellowcard's set began was when the electricity in the building finally started to build up. As the individual band members took the stage to some fittingly ominous music, the cheers in the crowd came from the decidedly older demographic. And when Ryan Key addressed the crowd for the first time, deafening roars poured in from a pit area which hadn't seen a Yellowcard show since I was a sophomore in high school. The band kicked off their set with "Lights and Sounds," the familiar track sending the crowd into a frenzy. They proceeded to work through a 40-minute set of more or less their "greatest hits," taking the bulk of their performance from Ocean Avenue. As a long-time fan, I was happy to hear "Breathing" and "Way Away" early in the set. They also thankfully pulled out "Believe," something I was grateful for as the opening violin notes to that song never fail to send shivers down my spine.
The crowd rose up for "Only One," and seeing that song live reminded me why I thought throughout all of high school that the chorus in that track was the best chorus ever written. The band didn't stay in older territory the whole night, taking "Lights Up the Sky" from Paper Walls and taking two songs from their latest record, When You're Through Thinking, Say Yes. It was a real treat to see "For You, And Your Denial," as that song might have been when the band seemed the tightest and most coherent. "Hang You Up" was a cool breather for the fans, and of course they closed with a memorable performance of "Ocean Avenue."
Key promised the crowd that Yellowcard would be back for headlining shows in the area "sooner than you could ever possibly imagine," something that was backed up when the band announced a June 24th return to Orlando. Yellowcard's set was marked by a been-there-done-that attitude from the pop punk veterans, working a phenomenal stage presence that made the two previous bands just look silly. At the same time, there was a look in the eyes of the band members, most noticeably Key and violinist Sean Mackin, that showed a hunger and an excitement that was as obvious as it was refreshing. It's clear that playing shows is what this band wants to do, what they were born to do, and it's clear that they're excited for the chance to be welcomed back into the hearts of fans.
While this tour was important for Yellowcard to sort of re-entrench themselves in the minds of a scene filled with short attention spans, it was painfully obvious that this group isn't meant for an opening slot. While every song they played was awesome and the crowd was really into it, the band doesn't deserve a 9-song set...but closer to the 20-song performance that All Time Low put on after them. Luckily, we'll soon be able to see them pull out all the stops; digging deeper into their catalog to pull out gems like "Empty Apartment," "Keeper," "Sure Thing Falling," "Afraid" and old material like "October Nights." We'll get to see them rip through their new record like those songs were meant to be ripped through. So even though attendees of the Dirty WorkTour probably didn't see Yellowcard exactly how they would have liked to see them, they did get an energetic and nostalgic show that only points toward an extremely bright and exciting future for this band.
Moving on to the rest of the night, it was clear how polar opposite the two main attractions were. All Time Low is at the point in their careers now where Yellowcard were years ago - somewhere right before or right after the release of Lights and Sounds. All Time Low used the headlining spot to its full advantage, busting out a ridiculous light show to accompany a long set filled with mostly newer material. I can't say I've listened to Nothing Personal very often since forming my opinion of the record, and it's safe to say that hearing almost the entire album performed live didn't change my opinion of it. The difference in crowds was obvious from the very onset of All Time Low's performance. High-pitched shrieks of unbridled joy echoed the House of Blues, coming from a demographic that probably felt a rush of hormonal rebellion when they decided to throw their underwear on stage. Not ones to disappoint, All Time Low decided to hang up every single bra they received (I counted upwards of 20) on guitarist Jack Barakat's microphone stand.
While I'm a fan of the guys in All Time Low and I can't deny enjoying So Wrong, It's Right and the Put Up Or Shut Up EP, it's never been more painfully obvious that this band has strayed far, far away from its pop punk roots and has slowly turned into a dance-y pop rock sort of band that successfully provides a magnet for the undergarments of underage girls. The sex jokes and witty banter were aplenty during the seemingly way-too-long set, as frontman Alex Gaskarth actually surprised me with his ability to command the audience.
Gaskarth the his bandmates clearly know what they're doing - they're talented and have proven time and time again that they can write a good hook. But with their major label debut approaching, I can't see them going back to what they were, and I can't ever see them appealing to an older demographic like they were probably hoping this tour would help them do. Having Yellowcard on the bill certainly drew in older (and more testosterone-filled) concert-goers into the sold-out House of Blues Friday night, but seeing the band play "Break Your Little Heart" and "Damned If I Do Ya (Damned If I Don't)" probably didn't convert any fans. If "Lost In Stereo," "Hello, Brooklyn" or "Sick Little Games" didn't drive out the older crowd, then "Therapy" or "Stella" probably would have done the job.
I'm not meaning to bash on the band. They released a record which I listened to endlessly during junior year of high school, and if they're going to gravitate to a dance-pop sound that makes them appeal to a younger demographic than even the one that I was a part of when I heard So Wrong, It's Right, then that's absolutely fine by me. They can do whatever they want and take their talents to amphitheatres and eventually arenas. But the thing that sort of bums me out is that kids are growing up regarding this band as their favorite pop punk band. All Time Low takes its name from a New Found Glory song - a band that most of that audience has probably never seen live. The girls who threw their bras on stage for Alex and Jack and Rian probably won't ever throw their underwear on stage for Mark and Tom and Travis.
So when I go to a show and see All Time Low's best songs ("Coffee Shop Soundtrack," "Dear Maria," etc.) and realize that they aren't even close to paralleling Yellowcard's deep cuts that I didn't get to hear, it's easy for me to take home a grumpy old man attitude and be mad at the general teenage population of Orlando. But having about an ounce of rationale in me, I didn't leave the show upset at all. All Time Low will go off and do whatever they do to conquer the world, and they'll probably do it in fairly remarkable fashion. It's fantastic to see a band rise up from the pop punk scene and go on to dominate hordes of underage minions, and it truly makes me happy for the guys. But on the other side of the bill, Yellowcard has the chance to go on to form something even better than they left in 2008. The scene is brimming with young pop punk talent that never would have gotten the chance to tour with Yellowcard when they were on Capitol Records, but being on Hopeless is something that not only benefits the band, but benefits the scene as a whole. Looking to the future, potential touring with bigger, veteran bands like New Found Glory, Bayside or Set Your Goals is something that should get any fan of the genre excited. The possibility of Yellowcard taking out bands like The Wonder Years, Man Overboard, The Swellers, Fireworks....there is a long list of bands that people who grew up on Yellowcard are probably stoked on now. And Yellowcard could be a band that really helps those smaller groups appeal to a larger audience. Every band needs help to cross over - for Yellowcard, early tours with Less Than Jake and Rise Against were the beginning of a meteoric rise. Maybe Yellowcard can now be the group that helps deserving young bands make a run of their own.
So at the end of this long-winded review which only a handful of people will ever fully read, I guess the point I'd like to leave is that the scene has something remarkable on its hands. Yellowcard being back is something that means much more than another hook-laden pop punk record to add to your iTunes library; it's the beginning of a new chapter in the life of one of the most important bands of the genre. And after seeing that unforgettable look of excitement in the band's eyes on Friday, it's a hope of mine that people will take notice of this reunion and welcome Yellowcard back with open arms.
Got a stream of the new Forever the Sickest Kids record today. I watched a teaser video for it last week which made me excited and made me seek out a contact to request it from. Turns out the excitement was extremely and holistically unwarranted. The video was a much different sound from FTSK’s usually repertoire, even different from what I view as the band’s last quality release, Underdog Alma Mater. Even about 1/3 of that disc was throwaway.
Anyway, it turned out that the teaser video was really just the last song of the album (“What Happened to Emotion”) with the vocals lowered down to none. So yeah, the instrumentals in the video ARE on the record, but the vocals don’t do any favors for it. It is, however, one of the two worthwhile songs on the band’s self-titled full-length. The other one is opener “Keep On Bringing Me Down,” which takes on an Underdog Alma Mater-type sound that made this band successful in the first place. The rest of the album is, for the most part, a watered-down and washed-up reincarnation of other boring pop rock circulating the cesspool at the moment. Don’t get excited for this record (although I’ll admit that my “excitement” was kept in check and I was hardly heartbroken by this lackluster release) because it’s just going to be a waste of time. I can’t imagine that UMG is even excited to hear this release because the fun-loving sound that this band had about it when they were signed is gone as well. I can’t even imagine too many tween girls getting excited when they hear this record.
Haven't done one of these in a while, but I think the occasion calls for it.
Just got Yellowcard's When You're Through Thinking, Say Yes today. Comes out March 22 via Hopeless Records.
There's a good variety on the album...that's what I noticed first. People will compare it too much to Ocean Avenue. There are definitely a couple of sun-soaked pop songs on here..."With You Around" should be a single that receives some attention. Seems like a song that could even see radio play if radio trends swing back toward pop-punk.
Some slower stuff on here too..."Sing For Me" is mid-tempo and Ryan Key absolutely owns it. He might be better than ever on this record, but then again I could listen to him sing anything.
Ultimately I'd say this is in between an Ocean Avenue and Paper Walls sound but there is definitely some freshness presented here. My expectations were sky-high for this record, considering that Yellowcard introduced me to the scene, and they haven't been disappointed. A Yellowcard reunion is more important to me than any other reunion, really. I don't want to say too much here...rather leave it for the review, which is why I avoided a track-by-track commentary.
But it's extremely refreshing to see a band be able to take time off, get themselves together, and come back right where they left off in totally badass-ness without missing a beat. The closer might be the best song...gang vocals + violin....yummmm.
More to come in a real review soon. Probably going to be the length of a senior thesis.
The third and final day of The Fest 9 was by far the best for me. After another long night, I woke up late and missed the No Idea Records BBQ and record sale, something that I vow to attend in full force next year. I need me some more punk vinyl.
Fake Problems was the first band to play The Venue on Sunday. I'm extremely excited that I finally got to catch their live show after missing them once while they were on tour with The Gaslight Anthem. They played a few songs off of their latest record, Real Ghosts Caught On Tape, and also mixed in a cover of blink-182's "Dammit". Kids went nuts for this and crowd surfed more than any set I had seen so far.
Go Rydell Instead of waiting half an hour for The Copyrights, I decided to head to Rum Runners for Go Rydell. I figure this was a good idea because Go Rydell had a through-the-roof set that was almost too much for the limited space in Rum Runners. While the crowd wasn't large by any means, it was very lively and had just as many circle pits as the bigger acts commanded. It was good to see the Orlando group have a solid crowd at their set.
Lemuria I was pretty excited to see this band at The Venue, as I really enjoyed their live show when I saw them with The Wonder Years and New Found Glory. I saw three songs before checking my Twitter and seeing that 1982 Bar was at capacity. I panicked because I really wanted to see Make Do and Mend there, so I reluctantly ditched the Lemuria set and trekked over to 1982 Bar. But from what I did see, Lemuria has a stage presence that is greater than the sum of its parts. With only a female vocalist/guitarist, a bassist, and a drummer, Lemuria sure got loud and had the crowd going crazy. I wasn't expecting to see such a big crowd, but kids were crowd surfing and having a great time throughout the beginning of the set.
Pianos Become the Teeth/Make Do and Mend Seeing these bands back to back was one of my Fest highlights. Both groups were extremely passionate and played with a fervor that was impressive to behold. They managed to stick out at a festival where every single band brought every ounce of what they had to the table, and that is impressive. Of the two, I enjoyed Make Do and Mend more. Their brand of post-hardcore is the kind of music that is meant to be played live, loud and reckless. While Pianos Become the Teeth had a larger crowd, it could be argued that Make Do and Mend's crowd was rowdier. They played the closing track on their latest record, End Measured Mile, which was a cool treat. I got to meet vocalist/bassist James Carroll and he was a very humble and interesting guy. I back this band as hard as any other band right now, and everyone should go out and pick up their latest album.
The Menzingers/Broadway Calls I raced back to The Venue to catch The Menzingers and found them halfway through "Who's Your Partner", the opener of their most recent record. They put on an impressive live performance and Chamberlain Waits will most certainly see an increase in my iTunes plays. Broadway Calls was after them, and they probably put on the most fun set all weekend. There was high amounts of crowd surfing, bro hug-laced gang vocals, and awesome costumes. The group was dressed as Winnie the Pooh, Piglet, and Tigger and bassist Adam Willis had his costume petted on multiple occasions. Broadway Calls basically lead a 40-minute long party, and their set will go down as one of the more enjoyable memories I'll have from The Fest.
Moe's/Aficionado I was super hungry so I ate a burrito at Moe's. This was an essential thing to include because I was again plagued by major tiredness, at one point micro-sleeping while standing waiting for Broadway Calls to start. After my delicious burrito, I saw the end Aficionado's set and for the first time experienced their unique indie punk. Their female backup vocalist also played a flute, which added an interesting aspect to their sound. Definitely a band that could be on the rise on No Sleep Records' roster.
Frank Turner Frank Turner ended The Fest 9. He was the last act to play at 8 Seconds and his was the set I anticipated most throughout the entire weekend. The Englishman lived up to my expectations and then some, giving the crowd all it could handle. 8 Seconds was packed, and Turner might have commanded the biggest crowd of the entire weekend. With just an acoustic guitar and a huge punk attitude, Turner weaved through a set of songs from Love Ire & Song and Poetry of the Deed. The crowd sang along more unanimously than any other act that I saw at The Fest, and Turner proved to be the perfect person to close things out. He even debuted two new songs, one of which he had never played before, an anti-God ballad called "Glory, Hallelujah". The crowd especially enjoyed that number. His other new song was called "I Still Believe" and was a song about how he believes in rock and roll more than anything else. After exceeding his stage time, Turner decided to continue the party and he played some more songs in the parking lot. In his third song, a cover of - you guessed it - blink-182's "Dammit", the police came and broke everything up. Turner received a lot of pats on the back and handshakes and left the crowd happy.
All in all, it's plain for me to say that this weekend was one of the most memorable of my life. Watching bands, hanging out, and partying is basically what The Fest stands for. It's truly the Mecca of the punk universe, as all eyes turn to Gainesville for one glorious three-day weekend. If you, the reader, have the funds and opportunity to make the pilgrimage, I'd say it's worth it beyond any reasonable doubt.
After six hours of hanging out and partying and five hours of sleep, I embarked on day two of The Fest. Day two proved to be the least enjoyable for me, mainly just because of my own personal preferences. I will say that the second day had the most sense of community as I met dozens of people and struck up perfectly enjoyable conversations with perfect strangers.
Touche Amore/La Dispute
This is a sad story. I got to The Atlantic late for this show, about ten minutes after Touche Amore began. La Dispute was playing right after them so I was ready for an insane hour or so. However when I got to the venue, there were about 300 people in a snaking line and the venue was already fairly full. Here's where the sad part kicks in. Not knowing that my cool yellow press band actually allowed me to skip lines at this point, I just left and went to go find another band. So I missed what probably would have been the best part of Saturday mostly because I'm an idiot. Oh well, it happens. I heard that La Dispute basically tore the place down.
Annabel/Algernon Cadwallader The good part of my stupidity is that I got to see Annabel at Common Grounds. I was there waiting for Algernon Cadwallader to go on and Annabel was the band on before them. They had an awesome stage presence and an extremely talented bassist to go along with enjoyable vocals. Almost no one knew the words to any of their songs, but the crowd was into it and gave a good cheer at the end of their set. Common Grounds filled up quickly with people anticipating Algernon, and for good reason. The trio put on the best set that I saw on Saturday, filled with quality jokes, intense crowd participation, and of course, Algernon's signature sound of indie punk. They even played a couple of new songs and I think their guitarist got better, if that's even possible.
Defiance, Ohio is a band that quite a few of my friends are into. I've never really gotten into them so I decided to check them out while I had the chance. They really impressed me with their stage presence and the crowd at 8 Seconds was one of the largest that I saw all Fest. It was cool seeing the stand-up bass and the violin being played aggressively on stage. Defiance was definitely one of the more eclectic bands to grace the Fest this, and one of the most enjoyable.
Banner Pilot/The Flatliners/Teenage Bottlerocket I saw each of these bands at The Venue during the second half of the Florida-Georgia game. Banner Pilot was really cool and the game was still at halftime during their set so they received my undivided attention. I barely listen to these guys but I certainly will listen more after being blown away by their energy and the passion the crowd showed. The Gators struggled on a few drives, let Georgia back in the game, then The Flatliners came on. I discovered that I am dumb for not owning any of their records, so I bought one. As was the norm, the group pulled out all the stops for their Fest set and played with a lot of energy in front of a raucous audience. The Gators let Georgia tie the game, scored to go ahead by a touchdown, then let Georgia tie it again. The game went into overtime and Teenage Bottlerocket started. But by then there was a huge crowd of UF punk kids in front of the TV and I had made awesome friends so I watched Will Hill intercept the Georgia quarterback and our punter-turned-kicker make a game-winning field goal. Then I turned my attention to the last twenty minutes of Teenage Bottlerocket's set. They played a driving set of Green Day-esque pop punk songs. Very enjoyable, especially after a much-needed Gator victory.
By this point, it was only 9 p.m. or so but I was feeling the after-effects of my lack of sleep. I got a gyro to raise my energy level and went to Common Grounds around 9:30 to catch Tim Barry. The line was another long and winding one so I elected to cut my day two of the Fest much shorter than I had normally planned.
The day was more enjoyable than I thought it would be considering that I didn't really know most of the bands. After a bit of relaxation, night two saw a Make Do and Mend/Touche Amore/La Dispute/Paint It Black/awesome house show that was again way too far to walk to. Next year I will buy a bicycle specifically for this event.
The Fest is every bearded punk's favorite holiday. This year, I'm experiencing my first full-scale Fest after only seeing one set at last year's event. By all reasonable accounts, it has so far lived up to every expectation and every bit of hype that preceded it. Tony Weinbender of No Idea Records is the mastermind behind The Fest, and as the event is in its ninth year, it's safe to say that Weinbender has found his niche in the punk universe. Gainesville has always been known for a great punk scene, and The Fest has become the cornerstone of it.
Here's my recap of the first day of The Fest 9.
The Swellers I started my day off at The Venue to see The Swellers at 6:40. The doors opened late so the band got a late start, but they came out in Wayne's World costumes and had a lot of energy to kick off The Fest. As more and more people filtered in, the set got more and more energetic, climaxing when the band played "Fire Away" and "2009". The crowd also got a treat from the band when they dug deep into their back catalog and played "Tunnel Vision". Despite some issues with the venue, The Swellers were able to start The Fest in solid fashion.
Right after The Swellers finished, Defeater went on in a side room at The Venue. I meandered my way to the side stage to find a way too small room with way too many beardy people in it. Defeater was loud and basically incited a riot in The Venue's side room. By the end of the night, the ceiling of that room was considerably damaged and I'm sure Defeater played a part in it.
Carpenter I left Defeater's set early to walk a few blocks to Jeff's Deli to watch Carpenter. I've never even seen Jeff's Deli, let alone been inside, but it was basically a restaurant with the tables pushed to the side and a very small stage. Carpenter went out and flat-out put on one of the best live shows I've ever experienced. There was a large sense of community in the room and vocalist Dan Sioui brought a lot of energy to the tiny venue. I kept drawing comparisons between Sioui's stage mannerisms and those of Rise Against vocalist Tim McIlrath, with a passion and fervor that I've barely seen in a live set. Carpenter brought an amount of emotion into their show that reminded me of the emotion you feel when you're seeing your favorite band live. But they made the entire room feel like that, and by the end of the set, Sioui was crowd surfing playing his guitar and the crowd was on the way-too-packed stage leading the gang vocals. Farmcore for life!
The Riverwinds I ended up walking across essentially all of the downtown area to catch The Riverwinds at Rum Runners. They put on a real enjoyable set that I was able to watch while keeping track of the Heat game on TV. The group played a couple new songs that are slated to be on their upcoming album, which they said they were heading in to record in the near future.
Bars of Gold I made the mistake of leaving The Riverwinds' set too late in an effort to see Such Gold at The Venue. The line was ridiculously long so I ended up walking to 1982 Bar to see Bars of Gold. These guys are incredibly passionate live, and despite the fact that 1982 Bar was about 100 degrees they got the crowd moving. That place needs to get central air or open a door or something. You could tell that the crowd was impressed with the performance and the end result was a long line of people at a tiny merch table.
Earlier in the day I saw fliers and heard through random conversations that Hostage Calm and Transit were playing a side show at a place right near The Venue. The place was some pub/laser tag joint that I had never ever noticed before in my almost two years of being at school five minutes away. It was about the size of an average living room, but it was crowded to well over capacity for this Fest side show. A band with an unknown name opened and while they weren't very good, the crowd was at least hyped for the next part of the show. When I saw Hostage Calm's set and the reaction it elicited from the crowd, I simply wondered why I haven't listened to their latest record more. Although the vocals were basically inaudible, the entire crowd of about 50-75 kids crowded the band and sung for them. Transit came on afterwards at 11:30 p.m., a full five hours after the night had begun. They killed it live as they always do and the crowd was even more into their set. Highlights of "Please Head North" and "Stay Home" were immensely enjoyable as the entire pub was packed in tight.
Transit's set ended at midnight, and exhausted as I was, I opted to call it a day instead of waiting a half hour in line to see the Suicide Machines reunion show. However, Anto from The Swellers told me at a later point in the night that the group vowed to not be at the Fest 10, so be sure to catch them on tour if they go near you in the next year.
As I learned Friday, the Fest certainly doesn't end after the shows finish. Algernon Cadwallader played a house show with Aficionado and Grown Ups at a location that was way too far to walk, but I ended up having an enjoyable night hanging out with good friends. It culminated with me overpaying for food at Checkers and wishing everyone a happy Fest.
As I said earlier, this is an event that is worth all of the hype and press that it commands. If you've ever thought about making the trek to Gainesville for this and have been on the fence about it, I urge you to do it next year. It's the sort of thing that a fan of this kind of music cannot go his entire life without experiencing.
I'm off to catch Touche Amore and La Dispute kick off day two in half an hour. A summary of Saturday will be up tomorrow afternoon. Happy Fest, kids!
I really like this band. Never understood the hate on Life Is Not A Waiting Room because I spun that record for months when I got it. Anyway, The Fire drops on October 19, and I was excited to hear the album but I wasn't really expecting much. For whatever reason, I just had a feeling that the band would sort of drop off on this release...maybe it was because of all the negative energy from fans when they lost Heath. I was bummed by that because the guitar work on LINAWR was one of my favorite parts on that record.
The Fire might be heavier than any other Senses Fail release. That's another thing that I was worried about after hearing "Saint Anthony". There are some definite face-melters on here and it's the best heavy release I've heard in a bit. Although they aren't in the same genre per se, I think this beats Norma Jean's release this year, and I know a lot of people really enjoyed that record.
Opening track is very much a Senses Fail song. The band's trademarked sound is all over this record and it's just very refreshing to hear a band progress successfully and still keep their normal sound. I think a lot of people will find themselves liking Buddy's vocals more. His screaming parts are best but his singing has gotten better as well. Don't want to give away too much in the blog post, but everyone should be waiting for Drew's review of the record in October. "Lifeboats" is incredible. No songs that require being skipped. Top 20 record in 2010.
I've tried to write this a few times. I don't really know what to say about this record....it's too busy saying it all itself. Only Every Time is breathtaking, creative, passionate, and flat-out impressive. To make a record so unique in this day shows tremendous talent from a group, and Only Every Time is definitely not like anything you've heard before. The Graduate have released one of the top five records of 2010 so far, and it's climbing up my list after every spin.
I can understand the hate that some people have for Warped Tour. I've got a lot of friends who all think that they're too cool to go spend nine hours in the sun surrounded by music. It is, after all, beneath them. I mean, they're all a bunch of really cool 20 year olds who sit around and listen to a bunch of bands that you've never heard of, and they don't bother telling you about them because you wouldn't understand them. The tour isn't hardcore enough, it's not punk enough, it's not pop punk enough, blink-182 aren't there, Attack Attack! are, complaints, complaints, complaints. It's not worth their time, they'd rather sit around and watch the second season of Arrested Development.
I've only been to Warped Tour three times, but I've seen all that I need to see and I have a final judgment on it. I honestly can't foresee a time before I turn 25 or so that I won't be able to set aside one day of my summer vacation to attend the annual summer festival. A day with your friends, listening to a few bands you like, getting some awesome tan lines, meeting some cool people, and coming home dehydrated. I love Warped Tour. This year in West Palm Beach was no different.
My friends and I woke up at about 7 AM to meet up and make the hour-long drive out to Cruzan Amphitheatre. The past two years, I've been to Warped at the Central Florida Fairgrounds, so I was somewhat worried as to what it was going to be like with an actual stage and pavilion seating. We got there around 10 AM because we never do anything in a timely fashion and we had to stop to get breakfast and paper crowns at Burger King. After getting my press passes and giving one to my friend Sami so she could take pictures, we walked inside and bought a $2 schedule. Nothing was happening until AM Taxi played at 12:20, so I went to the press area and signed up for a couple of interviews. We walked around the entire merch/nonprofit area to kill some time, and unfortunately passed by Breathe Carolina on the Altec Lansing Stage. After bandaging my ears and buying a Set Your Goals tank and New Found Glory banner to make myself feel better, we meandered toward the SkullCandy Stage for AM Taxi.
Before they played, a band called The Upwelling were jamming out. They're a three-piece from Queens, New York, and they were playing a few melodic punk songs that were good enough to catch my attention and encourage me to check them out the next day on their Myspace. AM Taxi came out at 12:20 and opened with "Dead Street", the first song on their debut We Don't Stand A Chance. Adam and the rest of the band have an awesome stage presence and a good live sound; it's as raw and passionate as the record. They definitely played one of my favorite sets of the day, playing about six songs from their record including "The Mistake" and "Fed Up" back-to-back, and closing with a cover of "Paint It Black". The cover was really well executed and their lead guitarist John Schmitt showed off for the 40-odd people in the crowd with a lengthy solo. These guys are playing rock and roll the way it should be played - check out their new record if you don't already have it.
After that, we had a huge lull in the day where we didn't want to see anyone until 3:40. It was only 1 o'clock, so we headed to the amphitheater to sit in the shade and drink really expensive Powerade. In the way there, we passed by the Truth truck. There were tons of volunteers there entertaining a huge crowd of kids while handing out information and talking about the dangers of tobacco. They're definitely out there supporting a good cause as tobacco industry illuminators. At the amphitheater, the Glamour Kills and AP/Advent Stages were set up, and from 1 to 2:30 we all watched a succession of terrible bands. The best of these, The Word Alive, were a screamo-ish band with brutal breakdowns that got kids excited. But honestly, it was like being the best smelling turd in a dog park. The absolute worst band over that time were Dirty Little Rabbits, whose lead singer sported a pair of crutches onstage while wearing a formal white dress. Her bandmates were dressed in tuxedos, and all together they played some really bad heavier rock. The choruses to most of the songs went something like "La la la la / La la la / La". It was just horrifying. I left the shade once to go get an overpriced lemonade and was able to see the first two songs of Andrew WK's set. I don't listen to him much, but he gives off awesome vibes and had an extremely large crowd in a frenzy.
My friend Sami came with me to interview AM Taxi, but when we arrived at the press area, the band weren't there. The very nice press coordinator, Bethany, informed me that Four Year Strong were there though, and if I wasn't busy, I could interview them in the meantime. At this juncture I felt something moving in my pants, reached down, grabbed my tape recorder and went into the next room for the interview. All five members of FYS were there, and I had never met the guys so it was really awesome to get to talk to them. Especially since they were all much taller than you might expect, and their beards are way more manly up close. My friend Sami was so excited that she forgot to ask them for a picture. They're her favorite band and she's a n00b. Anyway, you can read the interview here, it's a good read considering that I didn't have any questions planned and they still made a very exciting announcement in it.
We talked to AM Taxi after that (interview should be up soon) then met back up with the rest of our friends to go watch Set Your Goals. On the way, we caught the last two songs from We Are the In Crowd on the SkullCandy stage. They had the crowd really into it and I still think they're on the verge of making it big. Set Your Goals commanded one of the biggest crowds of the day to that point and played a lot of songs off Mutiny! They came out and started with "Gaia Bleeds", which instigated a ridiculously fast-paced circle pit despite the heat and humidity. Kids really threw down for Set Your Goals, and they in turn gave a lot of energy off for their entire set. People really seemed to like "Summer Jam" and the back-to-back of Mutiny!'s "To Be Continued" and "Goonies Never Say Die!" from their Reset EP. However, the best part of their set was the end, where we got "Echoes" and "Dead Men Tell No Tales" into "Mutiny!". I still stand by my statement that "Mutiny!" is one of the top five pop punk songs ever written, and watching them play it live was incredible, even if I barely had enough breath to yell the words at that point.
After that blistering forty or so minutes, I felt super tired and had to buy a couple Powerades to recover. We walked over to the main stage and I sat down in a convenient section to the side that was sort of fenced off by a large drink stand. I drank my Powerades and jammed out to Streetlight Manifesto, who are a hell of a good live band. Those guys are extremely talented, and they play everything way faster live, which gets the crowd skanking like no tomorrow. They pulled an even bigger crowd than Set Your Goals and closed with "Somewhere In the Between". Contrary to the rest of the day, we headed back to the Altec Lansing stage to wait for Four Year Strong. Leave it to random scheduling to give us nothing to do for the first three hours, then put Set Your Goals, Streetlight, Four Year Strong, and Sum 41 all in a row.
Four Year Strong were the band I was most excited to see the whole day and played what had to be my favorite set of the afternoon. They treated us to a lot of new songs, including" It Must Really Suck to Be Four Year Strong Right Now", which I can see being their opener for the next few tours, "Wasting Time (Eternal Summer)", which is the best song ever to gang-shout with your best friends, "On A Saturday", "What the Hell Is A Gigawatt", and "One Step At A Time". They still gave us "Maniac (R.O.D.)" and "Bada Bing! Wit' A Pipe!" and closed with "Heroes Get Remembered, Legends Never Die". That was the fifth time I've seen these guys live and they've gotten better every time. I can't wait to see them on their headlining tour this fall where they'll be able to play even more old songs mixed in with the stuff off of Enemy of the World. They also commanded the most....interesting....mosh pits; during one song, I saw a kid crowdsurfing on an inflatable killer whale, a kid hardcore dancing with fairy wings on his back, a person in a Luigi costume leading a circle pit, and a guy dressed in a Batman costume falling to the floor.
We all guzzled down a four-dollar bottle of water then went to relax and watch Sum 41. They filled up the entire amphitheater by themselves, and had the entire place singing during "In Too Deep" and their one-two closing punch of "Still Waiting" and "Fat Lip". It was really cool seeing a band that could have played that venue by themselves play it as a part of Warped Tour instead. They sounded great and their set got me really pumped to hear their upcoming album, Screaming Bloody Murder.
While we walked out, we were able to pass by We the Kings and Attack Attack!, and we were confident in our decision to leave early. Overall, I had a great time at Warped. I was able to spend a bunch of quality time with my friends, and that four hour power block of bands was a ton of fun. The interviews with Four Year Strong and AM Taxi really made my day, and just made me really appreciate being a part of this website and the things we do here. I hope everyone at least considers going out to Warped this year, and if not, then I guess it's just not for everyone. For me, though, I'm hoping to get a chance to be a part of this tour one day and follow it around in its entirety.
If you're planning on going out to one of the remaining dates this summer, be safe and remember to bring closed containers of water! Also make sure you put extra sunscreen on your tattoos! Peace y'all.
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Today I got my Four Year Strong - Rise or Die Trying 12" in the mail. It's the yellow/nuke color of the first press and there are only 100 that were made. This was the last vinyl to come in out of all the ones that I wanted to buy this summer, so with Set Your Goals' Mutiny! and New Found Glory's Sticks and Stones, I have three of my favorite pop punk records. And with The Wonder Years' The Upsides, I have what might be my four favorite pop punk albums ever, which I'm really excited about. So this episode of It's Mailtime is....the perfect storm, pop punk edition.
Today I got four CDs in the mail from Amazon. We have The Morning Of's The Way I Fell In, which I have only heard once so far (I suck) but I liked it so much that I just bought it; PM Today's In Medias Res, a great album from Rise Records that was my first review as a staff member (a good release from Rise is enough justification to purchase); AM Taxi's We Don't Stand A Chance, which I believe is top 5 on my list for 2010 so far; and River City Extension's The Unmistakable Man, which I've gotten really into lately and is a flat-out awesome record. I highly recommend all four of these albums.
Also, yesterday I got A Great Big Pile of Leaves' new record.....it was only $5 to buy and the boys give you free shipping! (edit: it is now $8). One of the best records to come out this year, in my opinion.
I'm going to keep a list of albums that are my favorite this year. It may or may not be in order, but really what I want is to have a comprised list so that way in November I don't have to worry about missing anything. This really shouldn't be taken too seriously (it's fucking April, after all), I just want to have a list that I can add on to. *=Top Five so far.
Got something that you think I'm missing? Let me know. Right now I think we're blessed to live in a world where Cary Brothers' album is not in my top five, and it's only April.