The Front Bottoms “Talon Of The Hawk” Tour with Weatherbox
Mohawk in Austin, TX on June 11th, 2013
Since I first heard The Front Bottom’s extremely quirky yet sharp-tongued self-titled record back in 2011, I’ve been hooked. As a result, I had very high expectations for their follow-up record, Talon Of The Hawk, as well as finally seeing their live show, and both exceeded my wishes completely. Being able to catch Weatherbox – albeit only the end of their set – made the night one for the books, as well.
Although I only caught the end of Weatherbox’s set, I quickly realized exactly why they are the perfect opener for this tour. Like The Front Bottoms, Weatherbox’s extremely sharp witted and equally odd lyrics, some of which are now near classic, had the whole crowd yelling along with their fists in the air. I was very lucky I was able to see “Trippin’ The Life Fantastic,” as the signature guitar riff and ending chant of “I’ve been walking in circles again” proved the perfect start to the night for me.
Honestly, I’m still not sure I’ve ever heard a band like The Front Bottoms. The outlandish lyrics and odd instrument inclusions such as a trumpet and tambourine would normally sound so out of place for most bands, but not with these guys. Their music – both recorded and live – is about as interesting and matchless as it gets. Few bands could open a set with a song that includes the lyric “I’ve got very strong bones” with as much conviction and personality as The Front Bottoms are able to convey.
The band played almost twenty songs, which included almost every song from both their self-titled record and Talon Of The Hawk. Honestly, it’s pretty hard to gauge which songs were “crowd favorites,” as the band fit right in at the small venue in Austin. However, the yelling of “And I will remember that summer / As the summer I was taking steroids / Cause you like a man with muscles / And I like you” probably topped the loud factor. I mean seriously, who thinks of lyrics like that.
The quirkiness of the records transferred wonderfully to the live environment. People were stagediving, crowd surfing, running up on stage, spilling drinks, belting their lungs out. Handclaps and stomping galore occurred throughout the set. It was a mad house in a tiny room. Chaos of an environment mixed with the simplicity of the music. An unexpected match made in heaven? Not sure – but it worked. From the haunting ending of “Swimming Pool” through The Front Bottom’s true masterpiece that is “Twin Sized Mattress” and the song that probably made many of us fall in love with this band (“Flashlight”), the set was one for the books.
Au Revoir (Adios)
Legit Tattoo Gun
Swear To God The Devil Made Me Do It
Funny You Should Ask
Twin Sized Mattress
There’s a reason why Weatherbox has been around for almost a decade and why The Front Bottoms continue to grow and dominate with their uniquely odd and brilliant jams. There are days when I sit and think I’ll never hear another band with the outlandish wit that edges toward some form of brilliance like The Front Bottoms, and I’m fine with that. Let’s embrace it now. Go check out Talon Of The Hawk if you haven’t, and catch this tour if you can.
Tigers Jaw, Pianos Become The Teeth, and Sainthood Reps Tour
Red 7 in Austin, TX on June 12th, 2013
What a line up. Tigers Jaw on their last tour before their hiatus. Pianos. Sainthood Reps. AND Dad Punchers. All on the same bill. Needless to say, I couldn’t wait for this sold out show in the sweaty, outdoor venue in Austin.
Unfortunately, the night started out as a bummer. The doors were supposed to open at 9, but the venue only let in about ten people at a time following that time, so most of us didn’t get in until just after 10 – meaning we missed Dad Punchers’ set. It was an extreme bummer since I was very excited to get a chance to see Touche Amore’s drummer Elliot Babin would do as the center of attention on stage.
I finally got in right as Sainthood Reps were setting up. With how solid their live show is it’s pretty crazy to think that Sainthood Reps only have one album – a fantastic one, but only one. It’s even crazier to think they’ve only been around since 2009. The layered guitar tones and angry, scream-infested vocals of frontman Francesco Montesanto commanded the stage. The chilling yells of “Wait, wait, who do you think you are?” on “DINGUS” and later the somber “Widow” each represent a different side of Sainthood. Here’s to hoping this band is working on a sophomore record, because the world and band’s fine-tuned performance are ready for it.
Let me preface this part by saying I don’t think I’ve ever heard a record as truly heartbreaking a The Lack Long After. If a band can put that much emotion into a record, I couldn’t wait to see what Pianos Become The Teeth would deliver on stage. From the instant the guitars fired off the set with “I’ll Be Damned,” I quickly realized Pianos’ live show was going to be even more intense on their records.
Frontman Kyle Durfey leaves everything on the stage. The roaring of “So striking / You leveled me with one look” on the furious “Shared Bodies” just about shook the crowd, while the shaky, unnerving singing of “There’s no good in your eyes anymore” on “Hiding” proved that Pianos are more than just a hardcore band. You can’t fake this kind of emotion. It filled the air, the crowd, the stage. If you still get chills and can’t even describe the type of heartbreak within The Lack Long After and Pianos earlier work, you need to see them on this tour.
I only caught about the first two-thirds of Tigers Jaw’s set, which I’m sure I’ll regret sooner rather than later. Initally, I was a bit worried that the absence of Adam, Pat, and Dennis would affect the band’s live show, but thankfully, Ben, Brianna, and friends sounded fantastic. The Two Worlds opener “Return” started the set off on the perfect note: “Keep to myself until it’s over / I can’t see it but I know it’s there.” What better words to start the set off with considering this is the last time Tigers Jaw will headline a tour for who knows how long. From there, the crowd sang along to the fan favorite “I Was Never Your Boyfriend” and ate up the equally Saves The Day-esque “Dent.”
Seeing Tigers Jaw live made me realize that I believe they will hold a lasting legacy. In the future, I see their names next to bands like Saves The Day and The Get Up Kids. Line up changes, amp issues, technical issues…none of that slowed the band down at all as they tore through cuts of their discography. Talk about the master of under three-minute songs. Their live show reminded me of seeing Bayside last year, as well, as the energy is very similar.
Aside from the fact that this is Tigers Jaw’s final tour for who knows how long, I think the diversity of this tour is what makes it stand out. Dad Punchers loud version of indie-rock fits very well with Tigers Jaw’s indie influence meets old-fashioned emo/pop-punk style. Sainthood Reps old-school distortion-using jams bring another flavor to the menu, while Pianos Become The Teeth emotion-infused hardcore tears apart the stage. Even though Tigers Jaw are calling it quits for now, their legacy won’t be left in the dark, as they’ve paved the way for many more bands to come.
The Say Anything “Rarities” Tour with Eisley, HRVRD, and Northern Faces
The Door in Dallas, TX on June 6th, 2013
After seeing Max Bemis’ solo/acoustic rarities release show back in January, I couldn’t wait to see the same idea done full band – let alone on the first stop of the tour. Also, having seen Northern Faces and HRVRD perform at South By, I knew they were bands whose live show I couldn’t pass up seeing again. I had never seen Eisley live, so that was quite the treat in itself. Actually, I had never seen Say Anything full band either – somehow – so the show was quite the night altogether.
Northern Faces started off the night with their groovy bluesy rock. The gritty “Poor Moonlight” proved the perfect opener for the band, while a new song they played has me very interested in how the rest of their new material will shape up to be. This is a band that thrives on diversity. The band pretty much as 3 equally talented singers, and it gives each song a different feel, something that comes across even better in the live setting. I highly recommend catching these guys live if you’re a fan of everything from Foo Fighters to The Black Keys to The Dear Hunter.
Under My Skin
Up next were the always interesting HRVRD. Once again, the group was full of eccentric, theatrical talent. Frontman Jesse Clasen played both the piano and trumpet at various times throughout the set, such as during the crowd favorite “French Girls.” He would also loop piano parts in and out throughout some of the songs. As he wailed “Call for the blood of your leaders” during the guitar build up in “Cardboard Houses,” the intensity of HRVRD really comes through. This is a band that I never really understood until seeing them live. They need the visuals, the theatrics, the intensity – their live performance is what makes this band really shine.
We Never Shut Up About You
Parts & Labor
I had never seen the lovely Eisley live before, as they have taken off touring for the past year to have children. The live setting really lets the band experiment more with their layering and atmosphere, evident throughout the new ethereal “Currents” and more guitar-focused “Save My Soul.” All of the new cuts – from both Deep Space EP and Currents – use this live atmosphere to their advantage, as the DuPree siblings and cousin each add an extra layer to the mix. The harmonizing vocals and power of each singer really comes through in this way as well. Hearing Eisley live, you’d really have no idea they’d taken any time off the road, as they had no need to sharpen any skills.
Save My Soul
Laugh It Off
I Could Be There For You
Drink the Water
Say Anything played a pretty similar rarities setlist as when I saw Bemis in January, with some changes here and there. However, the full band ability made the classic – and newer – songs pack an even greater punch. From the opening “Colorblind” through the encore of “A Walk Through Hell,” Say Anything never lost an ounce of energy. In fact, “Colorblind” proved the perfect opener choice, as the whole crowd yelled out “And I move too slow and I think too fast” at full volume.
As expected the self-titled songs were as catchy as anything, with “Crush’d” and especially “Do Better” being some of the most fun jams of the night. On the latter, the whole audience’s handclaps and foot stomps on the wooden floor made the song sound all the more massive. “Cemetery” slowed things down before the classic “All My Friends are Enemies” added a nice blend of old school punk guitars into the mix. The song led wonderfully into the equally huge “Every Man Has A Molly,” which was one of the loudest songs of the night.
Even Anarchy, My Dear cuts such as “Peace Out” and “Of Steel,” although completely unexpected, were great surprises thrown into the mix that sounded even better in the raw live setting. The night was full of little special “rarities,” such as the fact that the band played “The Presidential Suite” for the first time live as a full band and In Defense Of The Genre’s “Died A Jew” live for the fist time ever.
Still, aside from the final “A Walk Through Hell,” the absolute highlight of the night was “Alive With The Glory Of Love.” While this would normally be a huge highlight anyway, the venue setting made it even greater. See, the majority of the front rows of the crowd ended up on the stage throughout the song, with concert-goers stage diving like never before throughout the song, hugging Bemis, and belting along with him on stage. It was an experience like nothing I’ve ever seen at a live show. Incredible. Also, moments like this further convey how friendly Bemis is as a frontman, fully willing to put his arm around random fans while letting them yell along with him on stage and stage dive.
Baseball, But Better
Try to Remember, Forget
All My Friends
Every Man Has A Molly
Died A Jew
The Presidential Suite
Showdown at P-Town
Alive With the Glory of Love
I Want To Know Your Plans
A Walk Through Hell
Whether you’re a fan of rare, old Say Anything cuts or just dig tracks from the self-titled and Anarchy records, this is the show for you. Having a little bit of everything – and more surprises – this has to be one of the best concerts I’ve ever been to. Northern Faces bring the gritty bluesy rock, HRVRD the theatrics, Eisley the intricate atmosphere, and Say Anything top it all off with their raw, punk-inspired nature. Clearly, Equal Vision Records continues to have one of the best lineups of any label today.
Make Do And Mend with Diamond Youth
Red 7 in Austin, TX on June 4th, 2013
With Make Do And Mend releasing my top record of 2012, Everything You Ever Loved, and the fact that I’d never seen them before, I was highly excited that they were passing through Austin on tour with Cheap Girls and Diamond Youth.
Due to time constraints and issues getting in, I only caught two songs from Maryland’s Diamond Youth, unfortunately, but the Topshelf crew sounded fantastic live. Their brand of alterative rock carries great to the live setting, as their Foo Fighters and Queens Of The Stone Age influences come across in a rockin’ fashion on stage. Only having a couple EPs out, Diamond Youth are definitely a band to watch out for, as Topshelf is the perfect home for them.
And then all the way from Connecticut the guys in Make Do And Mend took the stage – or rather dominated it. The thing about these guys – and I guess you don’t realize this until you see them – is that their live show is much more punk influenced than their records, if that’s even possible. Vocalist James Carroll shows you that the rough sound of End Measured Mile is exactly where he wants to be live, and it puts a great punk spin on their sound, especially the Everything You Ever Loved songs.
Clearly not afraid to show off their influences and peers, James Carroll was clad in a Polar Bear Club tank while drummer Matt Carroll rocked his Touche Amore tank behind the kit. This is a band bred on hardcore and punk, and it really comes across on in a live setting. The opening “Hide Away” into “Disassemble” sounded even more powerful live than recorded, as the rougher vocals of Carroll gave the songs an edge. Surprise cuts like “St. Anne,” one of my favorite songs of last year, and the older “Shambles” were crowd favorites, with the former proving that MDAM can play softer cuts live and still get a lively crowd reaction.
Yelling out lyrics like “I’m finding new ways to burn” during “Disassemble” and being able to hear one of my favorite lines of last blasted in my ears as Carroll yelled, “You can click your heels until you wear holes in the floor / And realize that no place feels like home anymore” on the penultimate “Stay In The Sun”…these are moments you don’t forget. This is why live music is so incredible. This is why you need to see this band live, as it makes you appreciate their records even more – if you can even believe that.
Unfortunately, since it was already after midnight and my buddy had work in the morning and I’m driving home to Dallas for the weekend, we had to duck out before Cheap Girls. Hoping to catch them in the near future, as it was a major bummer, but hey things happen.
So I’m tired, low on sleep, with a nice drive ahead of me and 5 more concerts within the next week, but I can guarantee you I’ll be blasting along to Everything You Ever Loved and holding on to last night’s show as long as possible. Go see this show. These are bands you don’t want to miss.
Does The Gaslight Anthem even need an introduction at this point? The band has pretty much taken over the rock and roll scene of today. With that being said, I’ll admit I was a late(r) fan of them than most around here. Still, they are currently one of my favorite bands, have been for awhile, and will probably remain for many, many years down the road. If you haven’t realized it yet, this is a band that has mass appeal to both our generation and our parent’s generation – and there’s something to be said about that nowadays, as it’s nearly impossible to find.
Matt Mays opened the show with a solid 45 minute set. Blending Southern rock with Bon Jovi-esque influences, Mays and crew came across as an ideal opener for Gaslight. Dominating the stage with massive guitar solos and a good ol’ Southern rock sound, the band really knew how to put on a rock show to the nearly sold out crowd. Loud and rocking, Matt Mays are a band to continue to watch out for, and definitely a band to hit up if they’re in a town near you. Check out Coyote for any further proof.
The Gaslight Anthem wasted absolutely no time once on stage, opening with the rapid “Howl” as the “hey-hey-heys” tore through the massive crowd. From there, it was over 20 songs of rock ‘n roll. Let’s face it, if you haven’t figured this out yet, Brian Fallon just gets it. He was born to rock and has complete control over the crowd, mic, and guitar to prove it.
New cuts such as “Handwritten,” “Here Comes My Man,” and “Too Much Blood” came across in top-notch fashion live, and the band even snuck in “Blue Dahlia,” as Fallon stated, “I don’t why we didn’t put this one on the record.” Another great surprise was the heartfelt “Blue Jeans & White T-Shirts” and later extremely emotional “National Anthem,” as Fallon clearly isn’t afraid to slow things down on stage – it’s not all rock all the time.
“American Slang” and “The ’59 Sound” are absolute live staples, as expected, but the song that really made the crowd wild was the final “The Backseat.” The song could not have been a more perfect selection to end the night with, as the crowd yelled, “And in the backseat we just tried to find some room to breathe,” as loud as possible.
Moreover, Fallon is an incredibly lively frontman even when he’s not singing. In between and before songs, he discussed memories of Austin, as well comments about songwriting, lyrics, and various random songs, such as Nelly’s “Ride With Me.” Both insightful and equally comedic, Fallon’s on stage comments bring the band to life even more, as it’s always nice when band members offer bits of personality on stage in between the music.
To me, The Gaslight Anthem just sounds like American rock music should. Listening to their records makes me wonder what it must have been like growing up in the 70s or 80s, and I can’t help but feel like this is the type of music my dad and his friends grew up listening to. Gaslight represent the new face of rock and roll music, and each member delivers exactly this on stage. Seeing the band live made me realize exactly why we all their songs so much – simpler, older times brought to life today. As one of the defining rock bands of our generation, The Gaslight Anthem know exactly how to execute a rock concert all the way through the encore.
Senses Fail with Such Gold, Real Friends, and Major League
Red 7 in Austin, TX on April 14th, 2013
If you haven’t figured it out yet, Senses Fail have been dominating the scene for the last decade and are stronger than ever today. Record after record, the band just gets keeps topping their previous work. So, when it was announced that they were headlining with a group of younger bands – Such Gold, Real Friends, and Major League – I knew it was going to be a good show.
Major League started off the night bright and early. Their older cuts – “Subject To Change” and “Need I Remind You” – sounded a lot better live than their respective recorded versions, demonstrating the growth of the band in just a couple short years. Hard Feelings songs came across nicely in the live setting as well, as the lyrics of songs like “Home Wrecker” and “Walk Away” are ones kids love to yell at shows. Similarly, Real Friends brought along their brand of pop-punk next. Now, I’ve heard a lot about this band lately, but I had never listened to them until seeing their show. I now understand why they have been building hype so quickly – smart, relatable pop-punk done right. These are two bands that I can easily see following the likes of The Story So Far as this year progresses.
The heavy hitters in Such Gold were up next. First off, this deserves a mention – frontman Ben Kotin looked happier than anyone singer I’ve ever seen when he was on stage. There’s just something about him having a huge smile on his face all set that makes you know these guys love what they’re doing, and it really shows in their live show. Sounding even more passionate live than on their album and EPs, the band literally tore through their set. “Sycamore” had everyone yelling along, while “Storyteller” and “Two Year Plan” had Kotin screaming his lungs out as drummer Devan Bentley attacked the kit. As a band that has really perfected their own brand of melodic hardcore – or whatever-core you want to call it – it’s crazy to think how young these guys are into their career. The future is looking very bright for this band.
Over a decade in now and Senses Fail still deliver one hell of a live show. Here’s a band that really helped anchor our scene back in 04, and they’re still dominating today. Talk about seasoned professionals. And man can Buddy Nielsen scream his lungs out. If you can scream a song in Spanish (“Mi Amor”) and not miss a note, while still getting the crowd going while, I think you’re doing something exactly right. All the classics, from “Shark Attack” to “Lady in a Blue Dress” and the final “187,” sound even better ten years later, as Nielsen’s vocal abilities are stronger ever.
New songs from Renacner performed live prove why that record is the strongest Senses Fail album to date, with “Canine” and “Closure/Rebirth” carrying over very well in the live environment. Actually, one of the biggest highlights from the night was “Between The Mountains And The Sea,” as the band slowed it down until the devastating buildup of “There is a devil in the cold dark streets / He leaves us silent and suffering.” The song alone attests to Senses Fail’s growth as a band, as this is something they wouldn’t even have attempted a decade ago.
There’s a reason why Senses Fail have come so far over the years, and both their live show and latest record prove exactly why – they strive for growth and tightening of their sound. It comes across on their records just fine, but seeing the band perform live is what really cements this sentiment.
A great night of old favorites and new talent, this is a tour I highly recommend catching if it comes near you.
I’ve wanted to see fun. since I first heard Aim & Ignite. However, it just hasn’t worked out until this week. While it probably would have been quite awesome to see them in a small venue back in the days when they first started, seeing them at a sold-out outdoor show the week after they just nailed two Grammys was surreal.
It’s safe to say I was sincerely bummed when I found out the day before the show that Andrew McMahon wouldn’t be opening anymore – hope things are going okay on his end. But, Charlie Brand (of Miniature Tigers) filled his spot nicely. Talk about short notice – the guy literally found out the afternoon of that he was playing and then drove the 3+ hours from Dallas to the show. Nonetheless, Brand handled himself very well on stage, keeping the packed crowd singing with his acoustic guitar.
Now, up until this point, I’ve wondered about the longevity of fun.’s insane fame. With Some Nights being – in my opinion – one of the best pop albums in the last 5+ years, the guys have a lot on their plates. However, coming off of 2 Grammys and an already-platinum record, I think it’s safe to say fun. are here to stay…for a long time. After seeing their live show, I am certain they’ll stay on top.
The crew started the set off with “Out on the Town.” I was incredibly surprised at the opening selection, but I was also quite happy, as it's my favorite of their songs. As expected, the vibrant drumming and synth paced throughout the chorus made the song really pop and ring throughout the show. Vibrant and buoyant, “One Foot” followed, with flashing colored lights and a highly energetic Nate Ruess really getting the place moving. The song carried more energy live than on the record, as the groovy instrumentation and “oh-oh-ohs” were made for sold-out arenas, anyway.
“All The Pretty Girls” and “At Least I’m Not As Sad (As I Used To Be” were absolute sing-alongs, while “Carry On” and “The Gambler” added some mellowness to the show. Actually, these are probably the only instances when Ruess was not bouncing all around the stage. The latter carried extreme poignancy, as Ruess mentioned his family and how they inspired the song prior to going into it.
Needless to say, there is no doubt in my mind that Nate Ruess is one of the best pop vocalists around today. Nothing new there, of course, but the frontman’s range is out of this world. The end of the set really conveyed this. The unexpected “What The Fuck” was a dosage of a fun. rarity that led into the massive “We Are Young.” As a song that meant a lot to me last year as I graduated high school when it was at its prime, so to speak, seeing it live while the whole place went mad is a moment I can’t quite describe.
The transition from “We Are Young” to the even more colossal “Some Nights” was one for the books, as these are two of the best songs to hit the radio in the last decade. The drums thundered while Ruess’ absolutely soared, yelling out some of the most well known lyrics of last year.
As “Stars” closed the show I stood thinking about how Nate’s performance throughout the song really exercised how much of an influence Kanye has on him musically. The usage of vocal effects as an instrument adds depth to the song, giving Ruess an even more diverse range live, like Mr. West. Even Kanye would surely nod his head in approval at this moment, as Ruess could be a “King of Pop” in today’s music.
fun. being the biggest band of the past year (no, Mumford, just no) is still truly amazing to me. It’s still crazy to see how far these guys have come. After seeing this show, it’s exactly clear why – they are the best pop band around. This is a band that has no desire to slow down anytime soon, as they’ve been on the road almost nonstop for the past two plus years. I am wholly confident that fun. will be a new modern classic when it comes to pop music 10 or 20 years from now. Some Nights has that kind of power – just has My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy has that power, respectfully. Fun. continue to take over the world.
Well, some nights I rule the world
Out on the Town
All The Pretty Girls
Why Am I The One
At Least I’m Not As Sad (As I Used To Be)
It Gets Better
What The Fuck
We Are Young
Max Bemis Solo Acoustic “Rarities” Record Release Show
Red 7 in Austin, TX on January 26th, 2013
As a huge fan of all things Max Bemis, I was incredibly excited for his sold out acoustic show on Saturday. Bemis playing quite and extensive set with a huge variety of songs made the set all the more enjoyable.
Since the line to get in after doors opened took over an hour, I only heard a couple songs from The Wealthy West (Brandon Kinder of The Rocketboys) once I finally got in earshot while outside. However, his set sounded great and you could just tell how grateful he was to be there. Something about a sense of genuineness among live artists, where you can truly tell that they are honored to be where they are, goes a long ways nowadays.
The eccentric Nina Diaz (of Girl in a Coma) played one of the most unusual sets I’ve ever seen – but I mean this in a positive light. Diaz would play a guitar line, loop it, and then play a different chord over it. While doing this, she would sing a vocal piece or do anomalous breathing patterns and harmonies. All the while, she would switch on and off between looping guitar lines and vocal pieces throughout her set. It was unlike anything I had ever seen done at a live show before.
Wasting no time at all, Max Bemis came out with just his acoustic guitar. Charismatic and amusing, Bemis made sure we all knew he felt at home among the packed crowd with his continuous humor and comments. As expected due to the nature of the show, he started out playing old cuts, with moments like the chorus of “Colorblind” (“And I move too slow and I think too fast / And the first rainbow I see will be the last”) and the unexpected “Try to Remember, Forget” making these classics incredibly memorable as the crowd yelled along.
Aside from the “rarities,” Bemis played all of the fan favorites, from “Woe” to “Every Man Has A Molly.” “The Church Channel” came across great acoustic, and the yelling of “So lay your head on me” circling throughout the crowd. A fan even convinced Bemis to play “Yellow Cat (Slash) Red Cat.” Following all of this, the set ended with a few unexpected songs. The lovely Sherri joined Max to sing Perma’s new song “Knockout” after Max played The Painful Splits’ “Ms. Martin.” So, yes, it truly was a night of rarities.
Being in Austin for college these past months has made me realize how much music there really is out there. Moreover, being able to attend special, rare shows like this one makes me feel all the more excited to be here. This night proved yet again that Bemis can clearly put on a mean, exciting show, easily being one of the best frontman of “our scene.”
In the midst of studying for my final, I'm currently reading Stephen King's Dreamcatcher.
With King being my favorite author, I'm thoroughly enjoying this one so far. It always amazes me how he is able to make such long novels read at such a fast rate, so I'm very excited to see where this one goes.
Also, it's cloudy here in Austin today, so I've been listing to The Horrible Crowes' Elsie a lot, as well as Bad Books' II.
So there’s no reason to deny or discuss my love for all things Lydia. With that said, half the reason I was so amped to go to their latest headlining tour was to see All Get Out again. The last time I saw both of these bands was in October of last year, where they both absolutely killed it – in entirely different ways, of course.
To be honest, I had never heard of Sweet Talker prior to seeing him on the list for the show. However, Kevin Fisher was quite an enjoyable live performer. His style is reminiscent of The Script, only with a little more of an indie-pop flare. His set was short, but he was quite a pleasant surprise. Both “Southern Belle” and “This Is War” were incredibly catchy and satisfying live, with the latter prompting me to my “check out” list after the show. To end the set, Sweet Talker went into a breathtaking rendition of “Hallelujah,” which, as risky as that cover can be, was spot on. Simply after seeing this short set, I have quite high hopes for Fisher’s upcoming record (which is being mixed currently).
The manic rockers of All Get Out attacked the stage next. The main thing I remember about seeing the band last year was their energy, but wow, I had no idea what I was in for. First off, keep in mind the size of the stage and venue – it was small and tight-fitting, to say the least. Well, vocalist Nathan Hussey may be one of the craziest, energetic, feverish front man I’ve ever seen. He raced across the stage and went all out rocking out on his guitar to belting lyrics at the top of his lungs.
The set was the definition of punk rock music. “My Friends,” “Me And My Lovers,” and “The Season” each carried a different type of dominance, with the last featuring Hussey absolutely losing his mind as he yelled, “Fall back.” All Get Out really couldn’t care less about their image or anything of that sort…they just want to play music as loud as they can, with as much energy as they can. This is a live show. Just as the last time I’d seen them, they closed with “Let Me Go,” which may have been the most intense song I’ve ever seen live. Yelling out “don’t let me go,” Hussey left the microphone behind and just yelled into the crowd. He then broke into a whisper to a dead silent room – I can’t even describe these chills – until the whole room yelled out the final words, dropped his guitar, kicked off a cymbal. This is passion you can’t fake; it was easily the most intense song I’ve ever seen live.
Switching gears entirely, Lydia were as intricate and lush as they were the last time I saw them. The venue’s atmosphere was perfect for them, as their wrapped-in-lights microphone stands glowed in the dark room. Moreover, their set list was full of unexpected tracks. Leighton Antelman took the stage alone initially, armed with an acoustic guitar, oddly starting with “A Camera Lens and Careful Days.” As a song I never thought I’d hear live, it was absolutely haunting due the crowd’s mellow singing and the lighting in the room. Lydia played a fair amount of Paint It Golden material, with “Hailey” being an absolutely chilling surprise and “Best Nights” having the whole crowd singing along.
New song “Knee Deep” has me insanely excited to hear their upcoming record, as it sounds exactly like what you’d expect from Lydia – it’s intricate and endearing. Of course, the Illuminate cuts (“I Woke Up Near The Sea,” “Hospital,” and “This Is Twice Now”) moved me the most. I stared out the window into the night, past the Christmas light fashion of the stage, as Antelman belted out “It turns out you were into yourself” during “I Woke Up Near The Sea.” As I watched, listened, and sang, all my memories of that record rushed through me, making the night all the more delicate and personal. As much energy as Lydia evoke on their records, their live performances – especially in the ideal atmosphere – are all the more poignant and touching.
As the night ended with Antelman encoring to his cover of “Stand By Me,” I stood thinking about how fast this past year has gone since I last saw him play that song live and wondering where I’ll be next time. That’s the power of a good live band, a band that can bring you places and conjure a variety of feelings and memories.
This is a show that has the best of both words – Sweet Talker brings pop sensibility; All Get Out bring their frenzied version of punk rock; and Lydia bring spectacular beauty to close it all off. 2013 promises to be a huge year for all of these bands, so go check out this tour as soon as you can.
I’ve had the luxury of seeing Yellowcard a couple times since they’ve returned from hiatus. I caught them in October 2011 when they were touring for When You’re Through Thinking, Say Yes and then this past summer on the Warped Tour main stage. One thing rings true every time – they always deliver. The stacked opening line up only added to my excitement, as it had been about a year and half since I’d seen The Wonder Years.
One of the best surprises of the night came early as Sandlot Heroes took the stage. In fact, the band reminded me of when I saw Every Avenue open for Yellowcard last year, with vocalist Dan Kastelnik having a kind of Southern rock vibe – also not unlike The Maine’s latest material. As expected, they mainly stuck to material from The Trace EP, with tracks like “My Favorite Song” and “Freeway” carrying across very well live. Much of this can be attributed to the help of Chris Morrison and Jake Lare on back up vocals, as their contrast gave Kastelnik’s words a lot more power. This was a set of sing alongs and rocking tunes – nothing too fancy needed, just fun rock music.
I was anxious to see how the young’uns in We Are The In Crowd would sound live, since I missed their set on Warped Tour this past summer. Sure enough, Tay Jardine and crew were incredibly entertaining. The chemistry between Jardine and Jordan Eckes on stage dominates the show, with their call and return being all the more addictive live than on the records (yes, “Kiss Me Again” is what I’m talking about). For being so petite, Jardine can absolutely control the crowd and stand her ground. She never stood still, constantly running across stage to where each member was. There’s a reason why these guys have gotten all this hype over the last couple years – they know exactly what they’re doing.
Our beloved fellas in The Wonder Years took the stage next. What I remember most about seeing these guys for my first time in 2011 was how much energy the guys had. This sentiment reigns true more than ever nowadays. Soupy went from being on his knees to being on top of the crowd to covering every inch of the stage throughout the set. The man is a machine. In fact, every member of the band holds his own, with the opening guitar licks of “Local Man Ruins Everything” starting the set off in a pure riot. As always, the band is all about being personal, so Soupy had interesting ways to tie all of the songs together, incorporating short little anecdotes into the set song after song. The guys even went back to the beginning and tore through “Won’t Be Pathetic Forever,” a crowd favorite for obvious reasons. At first, I found it odd that the set was to end with “Came Out Swinging,” but the I understood – start with an anthem, end with an anthem, right? Full of energy and a hint of chaos, The Wonder Years’ live show deserves all the praise.
As I’d hoped, “Awakening” started off Yellowcard’s almost 2-hour long set. What followed was the perfect mix of everything Yellowcard new and old. New cuts such as “Rivertown Blues” and “Always Summer” sounded massive live, while the little surprises (“Hollywood Died”) had the whole crowd in the air. As always, Ryan Key dominated the mic with his usual grit, while Sean Mackin had a smile on his face the whole night. “Southern Air” was the perfect pre-encore closer – I can’t think of a better song that really defines the entire feel of Yellowcard. Tay Jardine even joined the crew to help out “Here I Am Alive,” which was quite the hit.
Of course, the massive “Ocean Avenue” tore down the house last, while “Breathing” added a huge kick in the night early on. There’s a reason why Yellowcard have been on the move for the better part of the last 12 years – the guys just can’t sit still. This is how a live band is supposed to be – full of pure energy and drive. Yellowcard hold their ground every show, proving exactly why they’ve kept such a prominent legacy over the last decade.
I think what makes their live show so enjoyable is the timeless of it all. Ocean Avenue was one of the first CDs I remember having in my stereo back in the day, yet Southern Air dominated the last summer for me as I was preparing for college. That’s the beauty of Yellowcard – their sound is just classic. The music screams summer, beaches, and sunny days – their live show screams liveliness and a sense of growing restlessness. This is a band that isn’t about to slow down anytime soon, having released two full lengths in the last two years and touring nonstop. Seriously, the guys just won’t slow down.
A tour that brings together both old and new pop-punk, this is a show you can’t forget. Yellowcard’s timeless nature matched with The Wonder Year’s young drive, We Are The In Crowd’s instant likeability, and Sandlot Heroes simply memorable rock tunes. Southern Air has to be one of the best records of the year, and this tour commemorates just this – and why Hopeless Records continues to dominate the scene.
Having turned 19 just over a month ago, I sometimes find to hard to understand what the best days in “our scene” really looked like ten years ago. Sure, I’ve listened to the records – The Illusion of Safety, What It Is To Burn, The Used, Does This Look Infected? – and I grew up on some of them – The Young and the Hopeless, No Pads, No Helmets…Just Balls, Sticks and Stones – but I obviously wasn’t active in the music world then. I mean come on, I was 9. However, listening to the records, reading about them, hearing their influence on new bands now – I get it. And Friday while I belted out every word to every lyric of Tell All Your Friends in a sold out, packed wall-to-wall venue, I understood more than ever what the importance of these albums was (and still is today).
Gabriel the Marine opened the show with a more Circa Survive or As Tall As Lions vibe than pop-punk, but it worked. Admittedly, I was a bit unfamiliar with their material, but their set was a blast. There was a violin, a sax, a variety of guitars, and vocalist Michael Desmond can really hold his own. “Stars Collecting” added a more mellow atmosphere to the night, while “Honest” let Desmond really bask in the spotlight. In fact, violinist Dylan Ebrahimian not only shined throughout Gabriel’s set, he also joined Taking Back Sunday throughout their entire set.
Bayside fired off with perfect opener “Sick, Sick, Sick.” Okay, let’s get one thing straight, Anthony Raneri sounds even better live than recorded – if that’s even possible for the Queens frontman. The guys tore through their set, keeping the dial at 10 song after song. As expected, new cuts “Already Gone” and “Seeing Sound” were absolute powerhouses – the “whoa-ohs” and “heys” of the latter filled the entire venue. And of course, classic cuts such as “Masterpiece” and “Montauk” were huge crowd favorites. Raneri raced across the stage, getting the whole crowd of their feet, while O’Shea, Ghanbarian, and Guglielmo didn’t hold back for a second.
I can’t think of a better opener for Taking Back Sunday than Bayside. Thinking back on how Victory Records must have been back in the day with these bands and others like Thursday and Hawthorne Heights, it really just made perfect sense for Bayside to be there with Taking Back Sunday. As a show that is meant to be as nostalgic as possible, Bayside allowed for just this to happen, fueled with what seemed like more energy than when Sirens and Condolences dropped in 2004. This is a band that has never put out a bad record, and this live show reflects exactly why the group continues to dominate after almost ten years.
Half an hour and a Mr. Rogers intro later, Taking Back Sunday took the stage. The screams of “Are you up for this” on “What’s It Feel Like To Be A Ghost?” made it the perfect opener, while “A Decade Under The Influence” and of course “One-Eighty By Summer” had everyone off their feet. And then, following “Make Damn Sure,” the band left the stage.
Then we knew it was the time: Tell All Your Friends. A rush of anticipation. Lazzara sang the first half of “You Know How I Do” laying on the stage, while jumping into the crowd to finish it. This is a night I’ll never forget. There was no space to move – seriously, every inch of the venue was body-to-body packed – and you just felt the music. When every single person in the crowd yells the words to every single song…this is what music is supposed to be. I will confidently say this performance made me realize the importance of the 2002 music scene and how truly monumental Tell All Your Friends is. Okay, so this album didn’t come out when I was in high school, but so what. It still meant the world to me in high school and middle school for that matter and still does today. That’s the thing about music – it can hit different people at different times and mean something different to everyone. So, as I watched Nolan and Lazzara yell, “This is what living like this does” at the end of “Ghost Man On Third” and felt the anxiety when it was time for the opening strums of “Cute Without The ‘E,’” I understood more than ever why this album changed everything.
The energy of the band after ten years was just incredible. The energy of the crowd…indescribable. The points when you can hardly hear Adam or John’s voices due to the crowd overpowering them – that’s a concert. I even got to experience the one Taking Back Sunday song that arguably means the most to me when they played “Your Own Disaster.” It’s hard to believe it’s been 10 years since these songs came out, but the fact that the crowd still knows every word to every song and that the band has more energy than ever on stage made it all seem young. This was a night fueled by the past, immersed in nostalgic, and lit on fire to burn with an inexpressible energy.
At a time when one of the most punk records of the year comes from P.O.S. and when Converge can still dominate your ears with their new record, anything seems possible these days. Refused just went on tour, The Gaslight Anthem are taking over the world with old-fashioned rock ‘n roll, and Further Seems Forever are back with Chris. Anything is possible – even Taking Back Sunday playing the staple album start to finish with the original line up. This night echoed that sentiment more than any concert I have ever experienced.
So it’s 2012 and I’m sitting at college now and I’m currently stressing studying, but none of this mattered on Friday night. All that mattered was the music, the emotions, those memories and meanings. Maybe each song means something different to every fan there, but that’s fine, because we were all there, yelling the same words. That’s what music is – unity. There’s no method. No rules. No boundaries. Taking Back Sunday knew this in 2002 when they released Tell All Your Friends out of nowhere, and they still know this ten years later today. Playing an album and being brought back to a time in your life is an amazing experience, but seeing the album live front-to-back…that’s a life-changing experience.