Show Review: Circa Survive/Touché Amoré/Balance and Composure/O'Brother (10/10/12 @ LA Nokia Live)
This past week I finally made it out to my first real show in Los Angeles and I couldn't have picked a better show to go to. I headed downtown LA with fellow AP.net staff Jack Appleby to attend the Circa Survive Violent Waves tour at the Nokia Live. First off, I just got to say that I really liked that little area of downtown LA, I will be visiting there often. Jack and I arrived a little late and only got to catch the final half of O'Brother's set, but from what I could tell from the crowd reaction and what was happening on stage, the band absolutely killed it, unleashing one last powerful breakdown before giving way to Balance and Composure. Jack told me that he thinks B&C are the next breakout band in our scene, and I find it hard to disagree with him based on what I saw that night. The quintet ripped through a seven song set (six from the band's last album Separation and closed with "Rope" from the Tigers Jaw split) that left everyone blistered. Standout's included "Quake" and "Progress, Progress." Let's just say anticipation will be high for the band's next album.
The third band on the bill were the hometown heroes Touché Amoré. Working as direct support for Circa Survive, the hardcore quintet played a twenty song set that featured a good mix of songs from ...To The Beat Of A Dead Horse and Parting The Sea Between Brightness and Me, as well as "Whale Belly" (from the band's new 7" with The Casket Lottery) and a new song titled "Gravity," which stole the show for me. This song may be the most passionate and intense song I've heard from TA yet (it certainly appears to be the longest song they've ever written as well). Jeremy Bolm made the stage his own, as his presence was electric (he reminded me of a young Jake Bannon). Fist pumping and interacting with the crowd throughout, the band was on point with crowd pleasers "~" and "History Reshits Itself" (which featured an Anthony Green cameo). Touché ended the set with the colossal one-two punch of "Amends" and "Condolences," with the latter ending with Bolm in the pit being bear hugged by fans and the former somberly ending the set as Bolm shouted out his final words over the haunting piano chords courtesy of drummer Elliot Babin. Honestly, this set made me feel alive and it stole the show for me. Let it be known that Touché Amoré is one of the best live band you'll ever see.
Finally, it was Circa Survive's turn. The LA crowd was firmly in the band's palm thoughout the near two hour set. This was their temple and Anthony Green was the leader. Between the continuous chanting of "CIRCA! CIRCA!" and confetti-spewing cannons, the band played a balanced set consisting of new songs and fan favorites from the Circa discography. Once they opened with the riveting "Sharp Practice" and quickly transitioned into "In The Morning and Amazing...," you knew this was going to be a special set. This was the first time I've seen Circa live since Juturna released in 2005 and boy have they improved as a live act. Highlights included "Stop The Fuckin' Car," "The Lottery," "Frozen Creek," and the Jeremy Bolm-aided "Glass Arrow." Green got a little surprise during "Suitcase," as the puppy furries from the video showed up on stage and gave the crowd a very lively interpretative dance routine. Circa Survive closed with a two-song encore consisted of "Act Appalled" and "Get Out." Honestly, I've never seen a crowd this into a show and dedicated to a band in the seven years I've been covering the scene. It was something else - I was thoroughly impressed, which is just another indication of the impact Circa Survive has had on the scene during its 8 years as a band.
Overall, this was one of the best shows I've been to in a while featuring one of the best bills in recent memory. All four bands have can't-miss sets. Don't be a fool and miss out on what could be the best show you see all 2012.
This past Friday I wandered over to Burbank to visit Warner Bros. Records for their final "Summer Session." When I found out a few days earlier that it was going to be Tegan and Sara, I jumped at the chance to go.
After making my way inside with the rest of the press and grabbing a quick bite to eat from the food provided, I settled into prime location to see one of my favorite acts ever perform for the first time in a year.
Tegan was the talkative one between the two throughout the short set. She kept mentioning how she and Sara were "nervous" to be playing live for the first time in a while, but you couldn't tell once the music started, as Tegan and Sara sounded excellent on the six songs they performed. They opened with fan favorite "Walking With A Ghost" and transitioned into "Alligator," which drove the the small crowd of fans into a dance frenzy. They cooled down with my personal favorite T&S song "Call It Off," which the Quin sisters played flawlessly. It was an incredibly emotional and moving performance, at least for this fan.
They played another song from 2007's The Con - moderately successful "Back In Your Head" before electrifying the crowd with their rendition of the Tiesto track they appeared on a few years ago - "Feel In Your Bones." And (bad pun alert), I certainly felt it throughout my body.
Finally, they closed with a new song from their upcoming 2013 album (which is going by the name of "Closer" for the time being), and, even though the sisters were a bit apprehensive performing it for the first time, they hit it out of the park. It features what could end up being one of the best hooks in Tegan and Sara's discography - something that's going to stick with you for a long time. It amped up my already sky-high excitement for their new album and it was the perfect way for them to close out their first live set in a year.
Make sure to catch Tegan and Sara on tour this fall with The Black Keys and follow them on twitter. Tegan and Sara have never sounded better and you should expect big things from them in 2013, as word around Warner was that their upcoming 7th is going to be their best yet.
(here's a short video I took of Tegan and Sara bantering back and forth as well as the first minute or so of "Call It Off." I thought I recorded the whole song but apparently my iPhone hates me.)
I was sent a little 4 track preview of The All-American Rejects upcoming album Kids in the Street, and I must say I'm impressed with what I've heard so far. I have never been the biggest AAR fan. I enjoyed a few cuts off their first two albums, but their last album was a disaster to me. So I was a little wary going into my first listen, but after a few listens, I can safely say these songs are some of my best AAR songs I've heard and I think the album will appeal to fans of late 90s/early 00s pop rock.
The first song I listened to was the one the band premiered a few weeks ago: opening track "Someday's Gone." Really enjoyed Tyson Ritter's vocals on this and liked the energy behind it, as it reminded me a bit of Green Album era Weezer. The title track is a mid-tempo jam that flows in the vein of The Killers circa Day and Age, as eerie synth and keys add some texture to the track. Sounds like something that would be the soundtrack to a group of friends road tripping through a dry valley.
The final two songs that were sent to me are the two that impressed me the most. "Bleed Into Your Mind" starts out scarcely with a lot of cool/weird noises happening in the background. It really highlights Ritter's vocals as his voice gradually rises throughout the track. It's definitely one of the weirder AAR tracks in recent memory but it sounds great and they pull it off well. But my favorite of the batch is the five minute "Gonzo." It's another track that begins quietly with a lightly strummed guitar line and drum beat. Ritter's breathy vocals are urgent ("it's better this way/it's better this way/gambling with life/it was our turn to play"). I can see a lot of people enjoying this song, whether they're AAR fans or not. It's very cool and it's another example of the band pushing their boundaries instead of just settling for another top 40 hit and remaking "Give You Hell."
Even though I've only heard 4 of the (I believe) 13 tracks of the album (I hear great things about "The Beekeeper's Daughter"), I think it has the potential to be the best AAR album to date. Our mysterious leader Jason Tate has heard the entire thing and he has stated that it is their best work, so that should make a lot of people excited. I'll say this, if you gave up on the band like I did because of their last album, you need to give this album a shot when it releases. I think a lot of people will be surprised by this release. I know I was.
That was my first reaction after hearing the first 45 seconds or so to opening track "Acid Rain." Immediately I could tell This Is Hell had created something special in their genre, and one of the best albums in 2011. You can hear it in Travis Reilly's unforgiving screams or Rick Jimenez's outstanding guitarwork. This isn't your typical hardcore release, this is straight up thrash metal and it will destroy you. From the pulverization of the title track to the insane "Mi Nombre," Black Mass shows off a lot of different styles. No riff sounds the same, Reilly has expanded his vocal range, and each track has something unique to it.
Everyone loves to complain how viral marketing is dumb and that the product never lives up to the hype. Well this time they are wrong, This Is Hell has made an album that will exceed your expectations and then punch you in the nose. All rise for the Black Mass.
Andy Hull promised that his band, Manchester Orchestra, would follow up their second album, Mean Everything To Nothing, with an album that wouldn't just be a step up, but "an entire staircase." As hyperbolic as that may seem, he is absolutely correct. Simple Math still features some of the heavier aspects of METN, but they're dirtier and hit in the right place every time. Add in some huge orchestral tracks and a children's choir, and you have a bonafide album of the year contender. "Mighty" is delightfully epic, while "Virgin" is incredibly eerie and poignant. "Pensacola" might be the "poppiest" you'll ever hear ManOrch, as gang vocals join forces with horns to create some sort of Format-ManOrch hybrid beast track. There are still great, striking softer moments on the album too, including "Pale Black Eye" and the 7 and half minute closer, "Leaky Breaks."
Overall, fans of the band will be very pleased with Simple Math, the perfect step - excuse me- staircase up from Mean Everything To Nothing.
Expect three reviews from me this week, I have felt a burst of creativity. I am half way done with reviews for the new Kid Cudi and Jay-Z albums, and I should finally have my review of the new Used album up by Friday. It was really difficult coming up with the words for the Used album, it's just so boring. Anyways, those should all be up by --YO DREW I KNOW YOU'RE JUST WRITING A BLOG AND REVIEWS AND ALL AND IMMA LET YOU FINISH BUT CHRIS FALLON'S REVIEWS ARE THE BEST REVIEWS OF THE YEAR!!!!!