Four Year Strong’s “Go Down In History” Tour with Transit, Such Gold, and Seaway
Red 7 in Austin, TX on November 15, 2014
I haven’t really thought much about Four Year Strong since Enemy of the World came out four years ago. At the time, I was a sophomore in high school, and the album was right up my alley – a pop-punk album with absurdly catchy choruses and hooks for days. However, that genre pretty much died hard, and even though the band had a new EP out this year, I haven’t really been able to get back into it these days. Still, having seen them on Warped Tour back in the day, I knew their live show was one that is very worth seeing – and despite some time off, they didn’t have any rust to shake off.
I missed Seaway due to wanting to arrive as late as possible since it was 45 degrees, rainy, and outdoors. So, Such Gold were up first for me. The last time I saw them was two years ago with Senses Fail, and their live show blew me away. Even now, I’ve only ever been a casual fan of their albums, but their live show knocks it out of the park. The mix of melodic hardcore with more recent pop-punk (A New Sidewalk) makes the live set highly entertaining. The band primarily played Misadventures and A New Sidewalk songs. “Two Year Plan” proved the perfect opener, as Ben Kotin and Jon Markson’s back-and-forth in the chorus made the crowd go wild as the two attacked the guitar and bass. Other Misadventures cuts and "Choosing Cages" kept the pace at 10, while the only older song included was “Gut Rot.” New songs such as “Engulfed In Flames” and “Faced” reminded me to spend more time with the new album, as the emphasis on cleaner vocals and less hardcore elements works great for the band.
Two Year Plan
Engulfed In Flames
Locked Out of the Magic Theater
Transit is a band I was incredibly curious about how they’d sound live. I’ll be the first to admit I’m only really a fan of Listen & Forgive, but I am a big fan of that one, so I was happy the set started with “Long Lost Friends” into “Listen & Forgive.” New songs like “The Only One” and “Rest To Get Better” were actually quite enjoyable live, with frontman Joe Boynton adopting a lower octave on parts of the former that fit better. However, two of the Young New England should really just not have been included. Both “Nothing Lasts Forever” and “So Long, So Long” reminded me of how bad those songs were and why I haven’t listened to them since the album came out – the choruses instantly ruin both, which isn’t exactly ideal. However, thankfully “All Your Heart” was thrown in between, along with the older “Please, Head North” that had the crowd going wild. The set made me realize how much of a mixed bag Transit is for me – I enjoy their older stuff, love Listen & Forgive, but just can’t get into Young New England or Joyride, despite wishing I enjoyed the latter more.
Long Lost Friends
Listen & Forgive
The Only One
Please, Head North
Nothing Lasts Forever
Rest To Get Better
All Your Heart
So Long, So Long
The bearded fellas in Four Year Strong managed to rip through 16 songs in an hour – quite the feat in itself. The opening riffs of “Prepare to Be Digitally Manipulated” and yelling of “Calling all cars!” brought me straight back to middle school in 2007. Dual vocalists/guitarists Alan Day and Dan O’Connor had a ton of energy despite the cold weather, dominating all of the call-and-return vocals. Other Rise or Die Trying songs ranged from “Catastrophe” – a crowd favorite – to “Maniac (R.O.D.), with the entire crowd going crazy to “I've always heard that the good die young / There's little time left to prove them wrong.” I was shocked at how into the band these kids get – the most pits, circle pits, that weird arm-swinging move. It was dangerous how crazy these kids go. It’s great to see this band have such a solid fanbase after taking some time off and not having a super well-received album since 2010 – despite their new EP being favorably received.
New songs included “What's in the Box?,” “Tread Lightly,” and title track “Go Down in History.” The majority of the crowd knew all of the songs already, yelling along to “When the push comes to shove, I'll shove it down your throat” and “So you can live like a time bomb that doesn't have long / Go down in history.” I was instantly reminded of how catchy their songs are – these guys are great at writing hooks that sound like anthems to tear down walls. Hearing the Rise or Die songs really shows how far this band has come musically and vocally over the years – the live versions sound worlds better (especially vocally) than the album.
Prepare to Be Digitally Manipulated
Tonight We Feel Alive (On a Saturday)
Stuck in the Middle
What the Hell is a Gigawatt?
Find My Way Back
What's in the Box?
One Step at a Time
Go Down In History
Heroes Get Remembered, Legends Never Die
It Must Really Suck To Be Four Year Strong Right Now
Bada Bing! Wit' a Pipe!
Wasting Time (Eternal Summer)
While I’m not really into Four Year Strong or the “easy-core” genre like I was when I was 16, I still had a great time at the show. The band just knows how to write hooks, gang vocals, and bring all the energy to the stage live. I had mixed feelings about Transit’s set similar to my mixed feelings about their albums. And then Such Gold managed to have even more energy live than on their albums, a great feat for such a young band. Regardless of what era of Four Year Strong you’re into – or even if you aren’t too into them anymore – their show is highly entertaining with an energy that can’t be topped.
Lydia’s “Illuminate” Tour with HRVRD and Golden Sun The Parish in Austin, TX on April 5th, 2014
I’ll come right out and say that Illuminate has to be one of my top played albums ever. When the “Illuminate” tour was announced, I was both excited and nervous to hear the album played front to back. However, the night was everything I wanted it to be – and more. Sure, it may have been better with a female vocalist to do Mindy White’s parts, but once the songs started, that faded into the background almost instantly.
I missed some of Golden Sun’s set, but the part I did catch sounded like it would please fans of Circa Survive. The Meier brothers should very much appeal to fans of Circa – especially vocally. Their live show was sounded very crisp and confident, despite being a younger band.
Seeing HRVRD for my third time was just as entertaining as the other two. Frontman Jesse Clasen should be on every list of modern “talented vocalists” in this scene. He effortlessly plays multiple instruments on stage – from the piano to the trumpet – while belting his lungs out and nailing every note. To truly understand this band, you really have to see them live. It’s a theatrical experience. Clasen came into the crowd with his trumpet to finish the set with “French Girls.” The buildup on “Cardboard Houses” was bolstered by his very animated stage presence. A band that gets stronger each time I catch them, HRVRD have their live set down to the t.
And then it was time. The members of Lydia were all smiles entering the stage on the last night of the tour. Immediately jumping into “This Is Twice Now,” the band wasted no time starting Illuminate. The whole crowd sang along at full lung capacity, belting every note along with frontman Leighton Antelman. Hearing an entire room yell out “Don’t you ever get lonely” on “A Fine Evening For A Rogue” or “It turns out you were into yourself” on “I Woke Up Near The See” – these are moments filled with such emotion that I can’t find words to even describe it. It’s a room full of harmony, but also a room full of memories crashing back. The first time hearing this in high school. The rainy nights listening to it. Headphones on with the lights off. It’s all in the songs, which is what made hearing the full thing live so special.
Seeing “Stay Awake” into “All I See” was the show’s highlight for me. The last two times I’ve seen Lydia, they didn’t play “Stay Awake.” Since it was my first favorite song of theirs when the record came out, it was great to hear this one live again – especially in context of the full album performed on stage. The song yielded the loudest chorus of the night, filling the entire room front to back.
Perhaps the most defining moment for me – and the one song I was most curious on going into it – was the record’s closer, “Now The One You Once Loved Is Leaving.” This is one point where I was particularly worried about the lack of a female vocalist, but Antelman was able to bottle all the emotion needed for the haunting and beautiful closer. In devastating fashion, the repetition of “And now the one you once loved is leaving” was just painfully poignant. As the song came to a close, I stood there thinking about all the times that record has finished for me. The late nights. Rainy days. Cold winters. Dark drives. It all comes back. Everyone there had a different memory to every song. And maybe that’s what made the words so powerful as the whole crowd sung along.
Just over five years old now, it’s no wonder Illuminate holds such a legacy behind it to so many people. As Lydia encored with three Devil cuts – “Devil,” “Knee Deep,” and “The Exit” – and Paint It Golden’s “Best Nights.” I realized how well the band can do both sides – the dark, atmospheric songs of Illuminate as well as the upbeat, spring soundtrack that is Devil. I find myself enjoying each of their records for a different reason, but Illuminate is the one that will always hold the most meaning to me. It holds more meaning to me than maybe any other record, and this night confirmed exactly why.
La Dispute’s “Rooms of the House” Tour with Pianos Become The Teeth and Mansions The Mohawk in Austin, TX on March 23rd, 2014
This was a tour I was highly anticipating – to say the least. For one, I had never seen Mansions or La Dispute before. Second off, the fact that La Dispute was coming off of their highly ambitious Rooms of the House, one of my favorite records of the year thus far, had me very interested in how more melodic tracks like the “Woman” duo would come across live. Well, the show surpassed my expectations, being the most truly intense and devastating concert I’ve ever been to.
While Mansions may have been the odd man out sonically, the cranked up distortion and fuzzy guitar tones overtook the venue in no time at all. The songs almost all stuck to tracks from Doom Loop, making for a loud set perfect for the venue and slot. Sandwiched in between “Climbers” and “The Economist” were four other DL tracks and two Dig Up The Dead numbers. Surprisingly to me, all of the songs played were louder ones - the ones with more fuzz and distortion. It fit the set very nicely, but the acoustic fan in me would have loved to hear something like “Seven Years” or “Dig Up The Dead.” Needless to say, the band put on a great set that was loud enough to have the audience involved and singing along. That’s the great thing about Mansions – they can be both loud and soft, doing do a fantastic job on either side of the spectrum.
City Don't Care
Flowers in My Teeth
If You're Leaving
The sun went down as Pianos Become The Teeth set up. The night was oddly cold for Austin this time of year, but it fit the mood all the better. The Lack Long After is to this day the most heartbreaking album I’ve ever heard, so each time I’ve seen Pianos, I’ve had to brace myself. Once the opening two-minute drum intro of “Liquid Courage” began, I knew the intensity would soon follow. From the opening line of “On the day you died / I cut my hair for the funeral” through the final lines of “Hiding,” the set was full of gut-wrenching intensity and emotion. “I’ll Be Damned” into “I’ll Get By” made for a riveting ying-and-yang of sentiments, while the older “Filal” incited the pit. The band played a new song called “Lesions” – I think that’s how you spell it – and to say the least, I’m quite excited for any new material. The emotion within this band and these songs is unmatched – especially live.
I'll Be Damned
I'll Get By
Lesions (New Song)
Wasting no time, La Dispute took the stage. The band played a very ideal setlist, starting off with two Rooms tracks: “HUDSONVILLE, MI 1956” and “First Reactions After Falling Through the Ice.” Having never seen this band live before, I was very interested in how they would convey all the emotion of the songs and intricate lyricism live. However, leave it frontman Jordan Dreyer to accomplish just this. He constantly swirls around the stage, goes form singing to screaming in an instant, and holds ground throughout the set.
The setlist itself almost worked like you’d imagine one of their albums to. It contained the heavier cuts (“Stay Happy There” and “New Storms”), interludes (the “Woman” tracks and the all three Wildlife interludes). As a result, La Dispute’s live show contains a very unique kind cohesiveness – it’s like watching a story or play unfold on stage. In fact, the intricate moments really allow the band’s skill to shine. Both “Woman” tracks prove that Dreyer is quite a talented singer, while “a Letter,” “a Poem,” and “a Broken Jar” demonstrate that the band doesn’t need crazy riffs and pounding drums to keep the intensity going.
All of this led La Dispute’s set to being arguably the most intense live show I’ve been to. The way the whole crowd yelled out to every word of “Andria” at full volume. The way the tender “Woman (Reading)” created visuals in minds throughout the venue. All the while, Dreyer looks like a possessed poet meets a singer – his stage presence is incredibly unique and carries its own intensity. While I was initially hesitant prior the show, he was able transition from signing to melody to screams instantly and without any slip-ups. All the while, the guitars, bass lines, and drumbeats dance around the melody and energy.
For the first time, I’m actually having a fairly hard time describing exactly what made this night and show so intense for me – aside form just the nature and content of the music, that is. Maybe it was the weather. Maybe it was that my hoodie wasn’t quite warm enough. Maybe it’s because I was at the show alone, which is rare. Whatever the reason, everything added up and the intensity and show just clicked. No matter what band you’re a fan of or what album or song catches your ear most, definitely go see this show if it comes near you.
HUDSONVILLE, MI 1956
First Reactions After Falling Through the Ice
The Most Beautiful Bitter Fruit
Stay Happy There
St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church Blues
Woman (In Mirror)
For Mayor in Splitsville
All Our Bruised Bodies and the Whole Heart Shrinks
THE CHILD WE LOST 1963
New Storms for Older Lovers
Said the King to the River
You and I in Unison
a Broken Jar
Well, that’s a wrap. Year two for me is in the books. Overall, I had a blast. Off the top of my head, my favorite bands I saw were Against Me!, Touche Amore, The Front Bottoms, Driver Friendly, and The 1975 (acoustic).
Saturday was quite light for me this year. Last year there was the Bridge 9 showcase and AltPress “100 Bands” showcase on the last day, but this year neither of those happened.
Therefore, the only band I saw was The 1975’s acoustic show at Waterloo. The show was supposed to be electric at the outdoor stage, but due to rain, it was moved inside. As a result, the band played two indoor acoustic shows, each with two songs. I caught the second round, thankfully. I was the last one let into the second round. The band played “Sex” and “Chocolate.” It wasn’t even that they played them acoustic – they did their acoustic renditions of the song. Having watched these many times online before, the live versions were even more stunning. The intricate and skilled guitar work mixed with Matty Healy’s very calm and collected vocal delivery demonstrates a completely different side of the band.
Now, I have yet to see them play a full electric show – that will finally happen in May – but I think their acoustic show proves their talent. The fact that these guys can write a ridiculously catchy song electric and then do the same song but 180 degrees different acoustic … that’s something most pop bands cannot do well.
Following that, I grabbed lunch and headed back to my apartment to charge my phone. Maybe next year I’ll invest in one of those charging cases. Other than that, the rest of the day I just said bye to people that were heading back out of time and did some last catching up with them.
I would say this year was lighter for me than last year – I only had one really late night – but I still had a fantastic week. South By remains the most fun and exhausting week of the year for me. Next year I’ll finally be 21, which means it will also be worth it to grab a wristband. But this year and last, I’ve still been able to manage just fine seeing shows.
I had a great time seeing old friends and meeting new ones all week. If you’re heading back out of town, have a safe trip!
Day 4 today and I’m feeling the sunburn. However, it’s raining today, which is a bit of a bummer. Yesterday I hung out at the Charlie Says Fest.
The showcase started off with NGHBRS. I’ve heard great things about them – especially that Instagram music video – but I’ve never checked out too much of their material. Their live show was a blast though. Despite being early, it brought a fair crowd. The band’s instrumentation tones were definitely a highlight, with the fuzzy, gritty guitar and bass tones resonating throughout the whole set. Vocalist Jordan Schneider also deserves every compliment. He even sung into a megaphone at the end of the set,
Hopeless Records own For The Foxes were up next, playing a surprise acoustic show. The acoustic environment worked nicely for the small outdoor stage. It also allowed me to really realize how talented of a singer Nicholas Francis is – simply put, the guy has a stunningly pretty voice. That’s really the easiest and most accurate way to put it. They also played a really great cover – more like a unique rendition – of Tom Petty’s “Won’t Back Down.” I love when bands put their own spin on a cover, and these guys did just that – acoustic and all.
The guys in Tiny Moving Parts brought some heaviness to the showcase next. For being a heavier band, they put on a super fun and energetic show. Frontman Dylan Mattheisen carries wild emotion on stage, yelling his lungs out while rocking on guitar. With the help of bassist Matthew Chevalier also on vocals, the band’s live show is definitely something to see. It’s hard to believe these guys have only been around for a few years and are only one album into the game, as their live show exercises great skill. If I remember correctly, I believe they said they just finished recording a record, so consider me quite excited for that one.
The more punk influenced PUP took the stage next. All the way from Canada, I hadn’t really had the chance to learn much about these guys before SXSW started. I did check out their upcoming self-titled record the other day before the set, and it’s quite good – one of the best punk rock records so far this year. Their live show fully lives up to the recorded version – it even blows it out of the water I’d say. PUP embodies exactly what I love seeing punk rock bands live so much – they can really go wild on stage whereas albums employ a sense of restraint. If you get the chance while they’re in the states, check out their live show. And on April 8th, give their record a listen.
The locals in Driver Friendly were the penultimate act. Despite the fact that I live here and have been a big fan of the guys for awhile, I had yet to see them live somehow. Their show drew the biggest crowd of the day, as fellow Austinites and visitors sung along with every word of the set. Tracks like “I Can See Canyons” and “Ghosts” were absolute anthems for the crowd. Every song displayed exactly how skilled each vocalist is, proving exactly why having multiple vocalists can highly benefit a band – especially live. Not to mention the fact that the trombone and trumpet made for quite a fun live show. The band also played a new track – I can’t spell the title – that was quite catchy, as expected. They just finished up their new record with Matt Malpass, and it’s probably my most anticipated record currently.
Last but not least, Diamond Youth closed out the showcase. I’ve had quite a few discussion about these guys with various people throughout the festival, and almost everyone agrees on one thing. If any band is going to be a big rock band type like Foo Fighters or Queens of the Stone Age, it’s these guys. Also rocking a Hey Mercedes vibe, Diamond Youth rock heavily distorted guitars that filled the outdoor area. “Can’t Shake The Feeling” and “Separator” made for a rock show. It’s pretty crazy that these dudes only have three EPs under their belt and manage to sound this solid live. Here’s to hoping for a full length for them soon and a big year for these guys this year.
I couldn’t really figure out much underage/badge-less shows for the evening, so I grabbed dinner and headed back to my apartment to charge my dead phone. Today is rainy, but I may still try to go (finally) see The 1975. Not sure what else is on the agenda.
Thursday was a busy day in the daytime for me. I spent the majority of my day at the Equal Vision/Pure Noise showcase before heading over to see a Chiodos show.
The showcase started off with special guest From Indian Lakes. I saw these guys back in November opening for Lydia and they absolutely blew me away. Frontman Joey Vannucchi just floors me every time I see them. I mean seriously, this guys vocal power is incredible, especially for being relatively new to the game. Once again, the repletion of “Breaking my bones” is still stuck in my head from “Paintings.” The set drew a very large crowd, which is great for the band – particularly since it was rather early in the day.
I headed over to get lunch with Jesse from PropertyOfZack so I missed My Iron Lung’s set and most of To The Wind’s. I caught the end of the latter’s and they sounded like a pretty solid hardcore band that fans seemed to enjoy a lot. I’ll have to check out their material.
Kurt Travis and crew in A Lot Like Birds were up next. To be honest, I’ve only ever casually listened to them, but man is their live show something else. The chaotic chemistry between frontman Kurt Travis and “heavy vocalist” Cory Lockwood becomes a prime focus of the set. The ability of both of the singers is remarkable – Travis soars while Lockwood adds a chaotic nature to the set. The mixture of harmony and disorder steals the set. At this point, there’s hardly any denying how talented Travis is. Catch these guys on Warped Tour this summer if you’re looking for something a little heavier for your day.
After Birds set, I decided to catch The American Scene again. I saw them the day before, but the sound wasn’t fantastic in that venue so I wanted to see them with better ears. And man, these guys are great. I stand by every word I said yesterday. This band is criminally underrated. Seeing them live, Matthew Vincent’s talent as a frontman comes across even more-so than on the records and his lyrics really stand out. He is easily one of the strongest and most under-appreciated songwriters in pop-rock today.
I missed Being As An Ocean to get food again – sorry, South By requires a lot of good food; it’s a rule. Next was Gameface, a rock band that has been making music since before I was born. As a result of that, I was rather unfamiliar with them. However, their live set was quite enjoyable. Just a good ol’ rock concert with some pop-punk elements – I use that word rather lightly though. It was a loud set, with their fans belting along to all the anthems. I can definitely see how they’ve influenced bands like New Found Glory, Funeral For a Friend, and even Frank Turner. Their first new record in over a decade, Now Is What Matters Now, releases this Tuesday. I’ll certainly be checking it out.
I was very interested in how The Story So Far would sound live, as a lot of people seem to think they’re one of the best bands in this new pop-punk scene. Well, I’ll say this – their fans go insane for them. Constants stage dives, mosh pits, crowdsurfing, jumping – they go nuts. The set was definitely entertaining, with songs like “The Glass” and the opening “Right Here” sounding huge in the outdoor heat. Frontman Parker Cannon may not be the strongest vocalist – he just kind of yells into the mic and sings the words really loudly – but I can see why the fans like their live show so much. The energy is there. I will say that behind The Wonder Years, I probably do consider them one of the better bands in the scene today, even if I don’t find myself listening to them too often anymore.
Last minute, I heard about a Chiodos unofficial show nearby, so I ducked out of TSSF set a few minutes early and headed over there. I couldn’t get in, so I literally watched it from across the street. Surprisingly, the sound was just fine over there – the stage was outside – and I could see the stage quite well. They played about five tracks, starting off with “The Only Thing You Talk About” and ending with my personal favorite “The Undertaker’s Thirst For Revenge.” I’d never seen them live before – how? – so I was quite impressed with Craig Owen’s stage presence. The man was born for the spotlight. His vocals absolutely soar live, and when he climbs into the crowd, there’s really no missing him. I’m quite interested in how Devil will sound.
So that was it for yesterday. I called it an early night due to being out so late Wednesday. I tried to go see The 1975 but the line was nuts, so I’ll just catch them on Saturday at Waterloo. Today I’ll be hanging out at the Charlie Says Fest that we are sponsoring to see Diamond Youth, Driver Friendly, Pup, Tiny Moving Parts, and For The Foxes.