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The World As We Know It
Show Review: Four Year Strong, Transit, Such Gold
11/16/14 at 10:04 AM by Ryan Gardner
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
Choosing Cages
Engulfed In Flames
Gut Rot
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
Saturday, Sunday
Weathered Souls
All Your Heart
So Long, So Long
Skipping Stone

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)
Tread Lightly
Stuck in the Middle
What the Hell is a Gigawatt?
Find My Way Back
What's in the Box?
One Step at a Time
Maniac (R.O.D.)
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.

-Ryan Gardner
Tags: show review, review, four year strong, transit, such gold, seaway
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Show Review: Lydia's "Illuminate" Tour
04/09/14 at 09:23 PM by Ryan Gardner
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.

-Ryan Gardner
Tags: show review, review, lydia, hrvrd, golden sun
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La Dispute, Pianos Become The Teeth, Mansions - Austin, TX
03/25/14 at 07:29 PM by Ryan Gardner
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.
La Dentista
City Don't Care
Flowers in My Teeth
Two Suits
If You're Leaving
Blackest Sky
The Economist

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.
Liquid Courage
I'll Be Damned
I'll Get By
Lesions (New Song)
Good Times

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.
First Reactions After Falling Through the Ice
The Most Beautiful Bitter Fruit
Stay Happy There
St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church Blues
Woman (In Mirror)
a Letter
For Mayor in Splitsville
All Our Bruised Bodies and the Whole Heart Shrinks
a Poem
New Storms for Older Lovers
Said the King to the River
Woman (Reading)
You and I in Unison
a Broken Jar
King Park

-Ryan Gardner
Tags: la dispute, pianos become the teeth, show review, review, mansions
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Show Review: Lydia with From Indian Lakes
11/13/13 at 03:44 PM by Ryan Gardner
Lydia with From Indian Lakes
Stubbs Jr. in Austin, TX on November 10th, 2013

After a month and a half long stint on the road with Anberlin and The Maine, Lydia and From Indian Lakes decided to stay together for a few more shows, the last of which was in Austin this past weekend. Being my third time seeing Lydia since Paint It Golden released and my first to finally see From Indian Lakes, the show was quite exciting, as expected.

Now, I’ve heard nothing but fantastic things about From Indian Lakes live show and music in general in the past year plus, so I was quite interested in how it would be. Well, handclaps fired into the perfect opener selection of “Anything.” From this point forward, From Indian Lakes owned the stage, playing almost the entire Able Bodies in their 45-minute slot. The thing you really realize when seeing this band live is how jarring their song structure can be – the quick changes from melodic softer moments to sudden full volume moments dominates the room. Take the cathartic yelling of “Breaking my bones” during that track or the sudden yelling of “I think I wanted to get away” in “Paintings.” These moments of absolute chaos amid harmony really stand out in the live setting, and they stuck with me all night. The abrupt yelling of “I’m never coming back again” on “Anything” – every track had something. Simply put, From Indian Lakes’ live show speaks for itself, as the band changes tempos and moods like the flick of a switch.

The atmosphere of Lydia’s set was remarkably different than the past two times I’ve seen them – this time of year in 2011 and 2012. Both of those times, they were coming off of Paint It Golden, making most of the material fairly dark – that record, Illuminate, and December. This time, however, the mood was much lighter and airy, due to the airy spring vibe of Devil. About half the set consisted of Devil tracks and those b-sides, with tracks like the opening “The Exit” and “We’ll Never Die” putting the crowd in quite a cheery mood. It was a very different environment than what I was used to from Lydia, which makes complete sense due to the mood of Devil. The setup worked quite well for them, which comes as no surprise.

While a good handful of the songs were more recent, the band did play a solid number of Illuminate songs, which pleased me greatly. “This Is Twice Now” was entirely haunting, while the encore of “Hospital” featured frontman Leighton Antelman at his strongest point of the night throughout the chorus. The change in moods from atmospheric and dark to upbeat and light occurred throughout the set, with tracks like “Hailey” sandwiched in between “We’ll Never Die” and “Do You Remember” following “Knee Deep” into “Holidays.”
The Exit
This Is Twice Now
Best Nights
A Place Near The City
Knee Deep
We’ll Never Die
Do You Remember
I Woke Up Near The Sea

With From Indian Lakes having even more energy and emphasis live than on record and Lydia having a more upbeat atmosphere than normal, this show was definitely a memorable one. If you haven’t seen Lydia since Devil came out, I highly recommend trying to catch them soon, as the songs carry over quite well to the live setting – sing-alongs, people. I’m sure seeing the duo with The Maine and Anberlin was fantastic, but I was quite happy to be able to catch the two on their last night out following that tour.

-Ryan Gardner
Tags: review, show review, from indian lakes, lydia
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Show Review: AFI with Touché Amoré
10/22/13 at 09:40 AM by Ryan Gardner
AFI with Touché Amoré
Mohawk in Austin, TX on October 18, 2013

Most likely due to my age, I never really got into AFI just before Decemberunderground released, which is when I also fell in love with Sing The Sorrow. Needless to say, I was quite excited for their returning tour, especially the fact that Touché Amoré is on the bill.

In rapid fashion, Touché Amoré tore through 22 songs – literally tore through them. Having never seen them live – in person at least – I can hardly describe how chaotic their live show gets. Frontman Jeremy Bolm would let members from the crowd surf up to the stage, take the mic and scream. Or he would hold the mic out to members of the crowd and let them take over. By the end of the set, I would say a good third of the sold out crowd had at one point been on the stage. Talk about a no barrier hardcore show – it was insane. While the fast-paced chaotic songs off of …To The Beat of a Dead Horse and Parting The Sea Between Brightness and Me were a madhouse, the more almost melodic and more spread out songs such as “Harbor” and “Gravity, Metaphorically” were easily the highlights of the night. Bolm carries so much emotion in his voice and movements. When people say they love the energy and chaos of hardcore shows, this is exactly what they mean.
Just Exist
Art Official
The Great Repetition
Method Act
History Reshits Itself
Home Away From Here
Blue Angels
Praise / Love
And Now It's Happening in Mine
Gravity, Metaphorically
Is Survived By
Honest Sleep

AFI came out to wildly excited fans as they wasted no time jumping into fan favorites, starting with “The Leaving Song Pt. II” and “Girl’s Not Grey.” The entire night was fueled old favorites mixed with new cuts. First things first though, man can Davey Havok sing. He has to be one of the most powerful frontman, and after taking some time off, he deserves all the more compliments. Not to mention, he’s as theatrical as ever. He definitely knows how to command the stage. At one point he climbed on top of the wall onto the second story balcony, which was quite chaotic.

New cuts such as “I Hope You Suffer” and “17 Crimes” carried over with full energy to the live environment, with the former being an anthem-like crowd favorite. The rapid punk/hardcore fueled “Dancing Through Sunday” and “Kill Caustic” really opened up the pit with the help of the guitar work of the incredibly talented Jade Puget. Puget definitely flexed his skills throughout the night, while drummer Adam Carson dominated tracks like “Over Exposure.”

However, AFI definitely know how to slow things down when they want to. “The Leaving Song” gave the crowd a moment to breathe, while the encore cover of “Just Like Heaven” had everyone singing along. The entire night was either full of people screaming along, or in the case of “Silver and Cold,” belting their lungs out with Havok.

Looking back on AFI’s now 9 albums and I believe 10 EPs, it’s no wonder they have such a legacy. The new Burials is a solid album, proving they haven’t lost any part of their touch along the way. Not only have they experimented with their sound throughout each record, they have managed to keep quite a strong core fan base over the course of 20 years. That alone is something to be said, and this sold out show proved just that.
The Leaving Song Pt. II
Girl's Not Grey
I Hope You Suffer
Love Like Winter
Ever and a Day
17 Crimes
Over Exposure
The Leaving Song
Beautiful Thieves
Kill Caustic
Bleed Black
Miss Murder
The Days of the Phoenix
God Called in Sick Today
Just Like Heaven (The Cure cover)
Dancing Through Sunday
Silver and Cold
Tags: afi, touche amore, show review
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Show Review: The House Party Tour - Austin, TX
09/30/13 at 08:51 PM by Ryan Gardner
The House Party Tour: A Day To Remember with Pierce The Veil, All Time Low, The Wonder Years [Photos]
Cedar Park Center in Austin, TX on September 26th, 2013

Check out all my photos from the concert here.

I’ll be honest and say that prior to this tour, I hadn’t listened to A Day To Remember in quite some time. Their last record was lukewarm for me, and I can’t remember the last time I returned to it. However, on the rise of their upcoming record, Common Courtesy, I figured this might be a good time to check out their live show for the first time in years. Plus with an opening line up as strong as this, I couldn’t really miss this.

Traffic made getting to the venue take an hour, so I very unfortunately missed the first half of The Wonder Years’ set. However, I was very happy to catch “Passing Through A Screen Door,” a song I had been wanting to see live since I first heard it. The track was met with massive crowd chaos and appeal. “Dismantling Summer” followed and then the massive “Came Out Swinging” closed the set. Few bands can open a tour with as much energy as The Wonder Years, and every time I see them, they just set the mood for the entire night.

Accompanied by a “F*CK” backdrop and always witty stage banter, All Time Low followed to a screaming crowd. “The Reckless And The Brave” proved to be an ideal opener, as did the transition into Nothing Personal hits. Just like the last time I saw them – and was surprised by this then too – “Time Bomb” was one of my favorite live tracks. This time, the guys let 3 people from the crowd come help sing. It was definitely one for the books, to say the least. “Backseat Serenade” was as catchy as ever, but the real highlight was “A Love Like War.” As I’d hoped, Vic Fuentes joined the stage to help out with arguably one of the best All Time Low songs to date. “Dear Maria” closed out the set to a loud crowd all singing at top volume.

The incredibly talented Pierce The Veil were the last of the openers. This band continues to be one of the most consistent and talented live bands I’ve seen. While the band can clearly deliver some very powerful heavier moments – “Caraphernelia” and “Hell Above” – the band also has a knack for melody and more upbeat choruses. “Bulletproof Love” and the chorus of “Hold On Til May” allow them to exercise how talented they can be at more upbeat cuts. Not to mention, Vic Fuentes can sing any key without missing a beat, and man can guitarist Tony Perry shred . This band deserves all the credit in the world, as they are easily and consistently one of the most talented crew I’ve seen.

After an incredible three opening bands, A Day To Remember entered the house – literally. The set up was highly amusing: a white sheet overtook the stage and a video of Jeremy being invited to a house party by the other band members flashed up. Then the sheet feel, a huge house appeared, and the band walked out of the garage to start the show. Yeah, it was seriously impressive.

The band really does know how to put on a live show, that’s for sure. Fire and smoke shot out from the stage. The members took turns going on the roof of the house. Jeremy ran around the crowd in one of those blow up ball things. The show and entire setup was highly entertaining, set up wise.

In the midst of all of these antics and entertainment, the band tore through a little bit of everything. “All I Want” opened the set, which was a great move as it is one of their most accessible songs. “I’m Made of Wax, Larry” and “2nd Sucks” brought the heavy end of the spectrum, while “You Had Me At Hello” and “If It Means A Lot To You” gave the crowd a breather when played back to back. The band even played their cover of “Over My Head” as Santa and elves came out … yeah.

Clearly, A Day To Remember know how to entertain a crowd. The house, the fire, the smoke, elves, antics, etc – they know how to put on a show. While I can’t say I’m about to break out their discography – I just don’t really listen to that stuff anymore – I will say their live show is definitely huge. There’s no other way to describe it. It will be interesting to see what Common Courtesy offers next week (I think?) but here’s to hoping they push their boundaries on it.

Check out all my photos from the concert here.

-Ryan Gardner
Tags: a day to remember, all time low, the wonder years, pierce the veil, show review
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Show Review: Tegan and Sara & What's Eating Gilbert
09/15/13 at 09:19 PM by Ryan Gardner
Tegan and Sara with What’s Eating Gilbert
Stubb’s Austin, TX on September 13, 2013

Check out all my photos from the concert here.

Having only seen Tegan and Sara live one time before (and at that, just a short SXSW set), I couldn’t wait to see the sisters on a hot outdoor evening. This show had been on my calendar for months, and once I saw that What’s Eating Gilbert were opening, I was anticipating it all the more.

Chad Gilbert (of New Found Glory) and the rest of the What’s Eating Gilbert crew took the stage clad in their classic ensemble of suits, skinny ties, and collared shirts. Just as energized as when I had last seen them at South By, the band immediately jumped right into the eleven song set. The simple and easy to sing along to “Thinkin’ Bout Her” woke the crowd to start the set off. What followed was a set blending punk influences with some pop-punk and straight up rock ‘n roll. The old-fashioned “What I’d Do” had Gilbert opening up about high school, while “Good Lookin’” was cranked up a notch to suit the live environment. To end the set, the crew jumped into a cover of “Pretty Woman” that was highly entertaining and well-executed.
Thinkin’ Bout Her
What I’d Do
Like It’s The Last Time
Come On, Let’s Go
I’ve Got You
I Still Miss Someone
Good Lookin’
Dear God
Bars On The Weekend
Pretty Woman (cover)

Tegan and Sara took the stage to blue and white flashing lights, an intricate Heartthrob backdrop, and a sold out show. The sisters then dove into an almost twenty song set. The set included a great variety of material, including a lot of Heartthrob material obviously, but also many older cuts, such as “Nineteen,” “The Con,” and the fantastic encore of “Living Room.”

Looking back, it’s really amazing how much emotion the Quin sisters can put into these songs on the stage. Early on in the set repetition of “Goodbye, goodbye” rang with sorrow and heartache, while later the cries of “I just want back in your head” contrasted with the twangy guitars to really ring through the crowd. That’s the thing about seeing this band live – the emotional is incredible. You really realize this when hearing older songs like “The Con” and “Where Does The Good Go.” The former contained more emotion than any song of the night, and the chemistry between the sisters throughout the sharp-tonged tracks was remarkable. Tegan reached a near scream each time she sang “I need to be taken down,” and the energy flooded the stage. The track was easily the show’s highlight, to say the least. While the recorded versions of these songs are great, the live performance is just beyond comparison. The sisters’ skills as vocalists have grown tenfold in such short time.

As expected, “Nineteen” and “Closer” were crowd favorites throughout the set, each song ringing out among the entire audience. While all of the newer, synth driven and upbeat songs came across wonderfully on the stage, the acoustic and softer numbers are where the skill of Tegan and Sara as vocalists really found its ground. The penultimate “Call It Off” carried a whirlwind of emotion as the sisters hauntingly sang, “Maybe I would have been something you’d be good at.” Similarly, as noted with “The Con,” the live version of “Shock To Your System” was considerably louder and more emotion fueled than on the recovered version. The repetition of “What you are is lonely” sung out at full volume was absolutely haunting. Moments like this make you realize how truly talented these twins are – they can switch from upbeat pop to heartbreaking acoustic or emotion fueled choruses in an instant and with perfect chemistry.

Talk about an unforgettable performance. I could talk in circles all day about how much emotion Tegan and Sara put into their live show, but you probably already know if you’re seen them or heard their records. 14 years in and the Quin sisters have truly never sounded better. Not to mention the perfect mix of old favorites and new tunes crafted the ideal set list. Between What’s Eating Gilbert’s always entertaining and rocking performance to Tegan and Sara’s unwavering chemistry, emotion, and control, this was a night for the books.
I’m Not Your Hero
Drove Me Wild
Goodbye, Goodbye
Back In Your Head
The Con
Walking with a Ghost
I Couldn’t Be Your Friend
Now I’m All Messed Up
I Was A Fool
Sentimental Tune
Where Does The Good Go
Shock To Your System
How Come You Don’t Want Me
Feel It In My Bones
Call It Off
Living Room

Check out all my photos from the concert here.

-Ryan Gardner
Tags: show review, tegan and sara, what's eating gilbert, chad gilbert
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Show Review: The Dangerous Summer with Tommy & The High Pilots
09/11/13 at 09:07 PM by Ryan Gardner
The Dangerous Summer Album Release Tour with Tommy & The High Pilots
Mohawk in Austin, TX on September 8, 2013

While Golden Record hasn’t really stuck with me very well save for a few tracks, I can hardly express how much both Reach For The Sun and War Paint mean to me. Both of those records are modern classics in my ears, so I jumped at the chance to see The Dangerous Summer for the first time in two or three years.

Admittedly I was somehow completely unfamiliar with Tommy & The High Pilots prior to the concert, but they put on quite the show. Vocalist Tommy Cantillon is one of the most interesting and highly entertaining front men I’ve seen. He believes that any kind of dancing is dancing and displays this throughout the show. Coming into the crowd to get people moving, dancing around on stage in an almost robotic fashion, climbing up on top of the railing – he comes across as a man filled with unique energy perfect for fronting a band. Likewise, the rest of the crew effectively switched vibes from indie-pop to all out Killers-esque rock ‘n roll throughout the show, leaving quite the impression.

The Dangerous Summer’s set was pretty much all rock no talk, which was totally fine. The set list included a healthy mix of all three records, breaking up the evening nicely.

While I was used to and expecting “Where I Want To Be” to kick off the set, the darker “Catholic Girls” did. However, “Where I Want To Be” followed immediately after, lightening the mood and getting the crowd even louder. Both “Knives” and “Sins” carried the same intense and emotive feel live, with Ben Cato’s drumming sounding colossal on the former, giving it the fervent worship feel.

I admittedly was quite cautious about how frontman AJ Perdomo would sound due to what I’ve heard and read, it seems he can control the “raspy,” rougher quality of his voice very well live – he lets loose during tracks like “Knives” but keeps it cleaner on songs like “Sirens.” This worked great in the live setting, giving certain moments added intensity while making moments like the love-fueled “Miles Apart” and “No One’s Gonna Need You More” lighter and more personal. My only wish is that he did this more on Golden Record.

While the set whizzed by with minimal – if hardly any – talk from the band, they did throw in some nice fan favorites. “The Permanent Rain” had the entire small room at full volume, while “Of Confidence” showed off the musicianship of the crew, as Payne, Cato, and Kennedy each exercised their skill. As the set reached the end, the chimes of “But it’s worth it / To never feel alone” brought back memories rushing through me just as I’m sure it did for many others, until the final yells of “Work In Progress” brought the night to a triumphant close.

Even though Golden Record just wasn’t exactly what I needed right now, The Dangerous Summer have already crafted their place in my library. I think hearing the songs in the live setting works to the band’s advantage, as the mix of old and new cuts flows very well together. It’s a taste of everything. Not to mention despite having two new members, the musicianship of the band is top notch.

Whether you’re an old fan, casual listener, or just heard “Catholic Girls” and enjoyed it, this tour is definitely worth going to. The Dangerous Summer plays a great mix of material, while opener Tommy & The High Pilots heightens the bar for future live shows.
Catholic Girls
Where I Want To Be
The Permanent Rain
Miles Apart
War Paint
No One’s Gonna Need You More
Of Confidence
Northern Lights (can't remember order but they played it near end)
Never Feel Alone
Work In Progress
Tags: show review, review, the dangerous summer, tommy and the high pilots
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Show Review: The Front Bottoms with Weatherbox
06/14/13 at 07:23 AM by Ryan Gardner
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.
Tattooed Tears
Rhode Island
The Feud
Au Revoir (Adios)
The Beers
Lone Star
Swimming Pool
Santa Monica
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.
Tags: show review, the front bottoms, weatherbox
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Show Review: Tigers Jaw, Pianos Become The Teeth, Sainthood Reps
06/14/13 at 07:20 AM by Ryan Gardner
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.
Tags: show review, tigers jaw, pianos become the teeth, sainthood reps, dad punchers
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Show Review: Say Anything, Eisley, HRVRD, Northern Faces
06/09/13 at 09:16 PM by Ryan Gardner
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.
Poor Moonlight
Dark Days
New song
Under My Skin
Finding Hope

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.
Black Crème
French Girls
(Can’t remember)
Cardboard Houses
Flaming Creatures
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
Mr. Moon
Golly Sandra
Deep Space
Laugh It Off
I Could Be There For You
Many Funerals
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.
The Futile
Baseball, But Better
Try to Remember, Forget
All My Friends
Every Man Has A Molly
Died A Jew
The Presidential Suite
Do Better
Showdown at P-Town
Peace Out
Of Steel
Alive With the Glory of Love
I Want To Know Your Plans
Say Anything
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.
Tags: say anything, eisley, northern faces, hrvrd, equal vision records, show review
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Show Review: Make Do And Mend with Diamond Youth
06/05/13 at 07:06 AM by Ryan Gardner
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.
Set ListHide Away
Oak Square
Keep This
St. Anne
Stay In The Sun
Unknowingly Strong

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.

-Ryan Gardner
Tags: show review, make do and mend, cheap girls, diamond youth
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Show Review: The Gaslight Anthem with Matt Mays
04/28/13 at 08:41 PM by Ryan Gardner
The Gaslight Anthem with Matt Mays
Stubb’s in Austin, TX on April 26th, 2013

Check out my photos from the concert here.

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.

Check out my photos from the concert here.

-Ryan Gardner
Tags: show review, the gaslight anthem, matt mays
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Show Review: Senses Fail, Such Gold, Real Friends, Major League
04/15/13 at 06:51 PM by Ryan Gardner
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.

-Ryan Gardner
Tags: show review, senses fail, such gold, real friends, major league
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Show Review: fun. / Charlie Brand (Austin, TX)
02/13/13 at 10:52 PM by Ryan Gardner
Fun. / Charlie Brand (of Miniature Tigers)
Stubb’s in Austin, TX on February 12th, 2013

Check out my photos from the concert here.

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
One Foot
All The Pretty Girls
Why Am I The One
At Least I’m Not As Sad (As I Used To Be)
All Alone
It Gets Better
All Alright
The Gambler
Carry On
What The Fuck
We Are Young
Some Nights

Check out my photos from the concert here.

-Ryan Gardner

Tags: show review, fun, fun band, fun., charlie brand, miniature tigers
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