Lydia’s “Illuminate” Tour with HRVRD and Golden Sun The Parish in Austin, TX on April 5th, 2014
I’ll come right out and say that Illuminate has to be one of my top played albums ever. When the “Illuminate” tour was announced, I was both excited and nervous to hear the album played front to back. However, the night was everything I wanted it to be – and more. Sure, it may have been better with a female vocalist to do Mindy White’s parts, but once the songs started, that faded into the background almost instantly.
I missed some of Golden Sun’s set, but the part I did catch sounded like it would please fans of Circa Survive. The Meier brothers should very much appeal to fans of Circa – especially vocally. Their live show was sounded very crisp and confident, despite being a younger band.
Seeing HRVRD for my third time was just as entertaining as the other two. Frontman Jesse Clasen should be on every list of modern “talented vocalists” in this scene. He effortlessly plays multiple instruments on stage – from the piano to the trumpet – while belting his lungs out and nailing every note. To truly understand this band, you really have to see them live. It’s a theatrical experience. Clasen came into the crowd with his trumpet to finish the set with “French Girls.” The buildup on “Cardboard Houses” was bolstered by his very animated stage presence. A band that gets stronger each time I catch them, HRVRD have their live set down to the t.
And then it was time. The members of Lydia were all smiles entering the stage on the last night of the tour. Immediately jumping into “This Is Twice Now,” the band wasted no time starting Illuminate. The whole crowd sang along at full lung capacity, belting every note along with frontman Leighton Antelman. Hearing an entire room yell out “Don’t you ever get lonely” on “A Fine Evening For A Rogue” or “It turns out you were into yourself” on “I Woke Up Near The See” – these are moments filled with such emotion that I can’t find words to even describe it. It’s a room full of harmony, but also a room full of memories crashing back. The first time hearing this in high school. The rainy nights listening to it. Headphones on with the lights off. It’s all in the songs, which is what made hearing the full thing live so special.
Seeing “Stay Awake” into “All I See” was the show’s highlight for me. The last two times I’ve seen Lydia, they didn’t play “Stay Awake.” Since it was my first favorite song of theirs when the record came out, it was great to hear this one live again – especially in context of the full album performed on stage. The song yielded the loudest chorus of the night, filling the entire room front to back.
Perhaps the most defining moment for me – and the one song I was most curious on going into it – was the record’s closer, “Now The One You Once Loved Is Leaving.” This is one point where I was particularly worried about the lack of a female vocalist, but Antelman was able to bottle all the emotion needed for the haunting and beautiful closer. In devastating fashion, the repetition of “And now the one you once loved is leaving” was just painfully poignant. As the song came to a close, I stood there thinking about all the times that record has finished for me. The late nights. Rainy days. Cold winters. Dark drives. It all comes back. Everyone there had a different memory to every song. And maybe that’s what made the words so powerful as the whole crowd sung along.
Just over five years old now, it’s no wonder Illuminate holds such a legacy behind it to so many people. As Lydia encored with three Devil cuts – “Devil,” “Knee Deep,” and “The Exit” – and Paint It Golden’s “Best Nights.” I realized how well the band can do both sides – the dark, atmospheric songs of Illuminate as well as the upbeat, spring soundtrack that is Devil. I find myself enjoying each of their records for a different reason, but Illuminate is the one that will always hold the most meaning to me. It holds more meaning to me than maybe any other record, and this night confirmed exactly why.
La Dispute’s “Rooms of the House” Tour with Pianos Become The Teeth and Mansions The Mohawk in Austin, TX on March 23rd, 2014
This was a tour I was highly anticipating – to say the least. For one, I had never seen Mansions or La Dispute before. Second off, the fact that La Dispute was coming off of their highly ambitious Rooms of the House, one of my favorite records of the year thus far, had me very interested in how more melodic tracks like the “Woman” duo would come across live. Well, the show surpassed my expectations, being the most truly intense and devastating concert I’ve ever been to.
While Mansions may have been the odd man out sonically, the cranked up distortion and fuzzy guitar tones overtook the venue in no time at all. The songs almost all stuck to tracks from Doom Loop, making for a loud set perfect for the venue and slot. Sandwiched in between “Climbers” and “The Economist” were four other DL tracks and two Dig Up The Dead numbers. Surprisingly to me, all of the songs played were louder ones - the ones with more fuzz and distortion. It fit the set very nicely, but the acoustic fan in me would have loved to hear something like “Seven Years” or “Dig Up The Dead.” Needless to say, the band put on a great set that was loud enough to have the audience involved and singing along. That’s the great thing about Mansions – they can be both loud and soft, doing do a fantastic job on either side of the spectrum.
City Don't Care
Flowers in My Teeth
If You're Leaving
The sun went down as Pianos Become The Teeth set up. The night was oddly cold for Austin this time of year, but it fit the mood all the better. The Lack Long After is to this day the most heartbreaking album I’ve ever heard, so each time I’ve seen Pianos, I’ve had to brace myself. Once the opening two-minute drum intro of “Liquid Courage” began, I knew the intensity would soon follow. From the opening line of “On the day you died / I cut my hair for the funeral” through the final lines of “Hiding,” the set was full of gut-wrenching intensity and emotion. “I’ll Be Damned” into “I’ll Get By” made for a riveting ying-and-yang of sentiments, while the older “Filal” incited the pit. The band played a new song called “Lesions” – I think that’s how you spell it – and to say the least, I’m quite excited for any new material. The emotion within this band and these songs is unmatched – especially live.
I'll Be Damned
I'll Get By
Lesions (New Song)
Wasting no time, La Dispute took the stage. The band played a very ideal setlist, starting off with two Rooms tracks: “HUDSONVILLE, MI 1956” and “First Reactions After Falling Through the Ice.” Having never seen this band live before, I was very interested in how they would convey all the emotion of the songs and intricate lyricism live. However, leave it frontman Jordan Dreyer to accomplish just this. He constantly swirls around the stage, goes form singing to screaming in an instant, and holds ground throughout the set.
The setlist itself almost worked like you’d imagine one of their albums to. It contained the heavier cuts (“Stay Happy There” and “New Storms”), interludes (the “Woman” tracks and the all three Wildlife interludes). As a result, La Dispute’s live show contains a very unique kind cohesiveness – it’s like watching a story or play unfold on stage. In fact, the intricate moments really allow the band’s skill to shine. Both “Woman” tracks prove that Dreyer is quite a talented singer, while “a Letter,” “a Poem,” and “a Broken Jar” demonstrate that the band doesn’t need crazy riffs and pounding drums to keep the intensity going.
All of this led La Dispute’s set to being arguably the most intense live show I’ve been to. The way the whole crowd yelled out to every word of “Andria” at full volume. The way the tender “Woman (Reading)” created visuals in minds throughout the venue. All the while, Dreyer looks like a possessed poet meets a singer – his stage presence is incredibly unique and carries its own intensity. While I was initially hesitant prior the show, he was able transition from signing to melody to screams instantly and without any slip-ups. All the while, the guitars, bass lines, and drumbeats dance around the melody and energy.
For the first time, I’m actually having a fairly hard time describing exactly what made this night and show so intense for me – aside form just the nature and content of the music, that is. Maybe it was the weather. Maybe it was that my hoodie wasn’t quite warm enough. Maybe it’s because I was at the show alone, which is rare. Whatever the reason, everything added up and the intensity and show just clicked. No matter what band you’re a fan of or what album or song catches your ear most, definitely go see this show if it comes near you.
HUDSONVILLE, MI 1956
First Reactions After Falling Through the Ice
The Most Beautiful Bitter Fruit
Stay Happy There
St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church Blues
Woman (In Mirror)
For Mayor in Splitsville
All Our Bruised Bodies and the Whole Heart Shrinks
THE CHILD WE LOST 1963
New Storms for Older Lovers
Said the King to the River
You and I in Unison
a Broken Jar
Well, that’s a wrap. Year two for me is in the books. Overall, I had a blast. Off the top of my head, my favorite bands I saw were Against Me!, Touche Amore, The Front Bottoms, Driver Friendly, and The 1975 (acoustic).
Saturday was quite light for me this year. Last year there was the Bridge 9 showcase and AltPress “100 Bands” showcase on the last day, but this year neither of those happened.
Therefore, the only band I saw was The 1975’s acoustic show at Waterloo. The show was supposed to be electric at the outdoor stage, but due to rain, it was moved inside. As a result, the band played two indoor acoustic shows, each with two songs. I caught the second round, thankfully. I was the last one let into the second round. The band played “Sex” and “Chocolate.” It wasn’t even that they played them acoustic – they did their acoustic renditions of the song. Having watched these many times online before, the live versions were even more stunning. The intricate and skilled guitar work mixed with Matty Healy’s very calm and collected vocal delivery demonstrates a completely different side of the band.
Now, I have yet to see them play a full electric show – that will finally happen in May – but I think their acoustic show proves their talent. The fact that these guys can write a ridiculously catchy song electric and then do the same song but 180 degrees different acoustic … that’s something most pop bands cannot do well.
Following that, I grabbed lunch and headed back to my apartment to charge my phone. Maybe next year I’ll invest in one of those charging cases. Other than that, the rest of the day I just said bye to people that were heading back out of time and did some last catching up with them.
I would say this year was lighter for me than last year – I only had one really late night – but I still had a fantastic week. South By remains the most fun and exhausting week of the year for me. Next year I’ll finally be 21, which means it will also be worth it to grab a wristband. But this year and last, I’ve still been able to manage just fine seeing shows.
I had a great time seeing old friends and meeting new ones all week. If you’re heading back out of town, have a safe trip!
Day 4 today and I’m feeling the sunburn. However, it’s raining today, which is a bit of a bummer. Yesterday I hung out at the Charlie Says Fest.
The showcase started off with NGHBRS. I’ve heard great things about them – especially that Instagram music video – but I’ve never checked out too much of their material. Their live show was a blast though. Despite being early, it brought a fair crowd. The band’s instrumentation tones were definitely a highlight, with the fuzzy, gritty guitar and bass tones resonating throughout the whole set. Vocalist Jordan Schneider also deserves every compliment. He even sung into a megaphone at the end of the set,
Hopeless Records own For The Foxes were up next, playing a surprise acoustic show. The acoustic environment worked nicely for the small outdoor stage. It also allowed me to really realize how talented of a singer Nicholas Francis is – simply put, the guy has a stunningly pretty voice. That’s really the easiest and most accurate way to put it. They also played a really great cover – more like a unique rendition – of Tom Petty’s “Won’t Back Down.” I love when bands put their own spin on a cover, and these guys did just that – acoustic and all.
The guys in Tiny Moving Parts brought some heaviness to the showcase next. For being a heavier band, they put on a super fun and energetic show. Frontman Dylan Mattheisen carries wild emotion on stage, yelling his lungs out while rocking on guitar. With the help of bassist Matthew Chevalier also on vocals, the band’s live show is definitely something to see. It’s hard to believe these guys have only been around for a few years and are only one album into the game, as their live show exercises great skill. If I remember correctly, I believe they said they just finished recording a record, so consider me quite excited for that one.
The more punk influenced PUP took the stage next. All the way from Canada, I hadn’t really had the chance to learn much about these guys before SXSW started. I did check out their upcoming self-titled record the other day before the set, and it’s quite good – one of the best punk rock records so far this year. Their live show fully lives up to the recorded version – it even blows it out of the water I’d say. PUP embodies exactly what I love seeing punk rock bands live so much – they can really go wild on stage whereas albums employ a sense of restraint. If you get the chance while they’re in the states, check out their live show. And on April 8th, give their record a listen.
The locals in Driver Friendly were the penultimate act. Despite the fact that I live here and have been a big fan of the guys for awhile, I had yet to see them live somehow. Their show drew the biggest crowd of the day, as fellow Austinites and visitors sung along with every word of the set. Tracks like “I Can See Canyons” and “Ghosts” were absolute anthems for the crowd. Every song displayed exactly how skilled each vocalist is, proving exactly why having multiple vocalists can highly benefit a band – especially live. Not to mention the fact that the trombone and trumpet made for quite a fun live show. The band also played a new track – I can’t spell the title – that was quite catchy, as expected. They just finished up their new record with Matt Malpass, and it’s probably my most anticipated record currently.
Last but not least, Diamond Youth closed out the showcase. I’ve had quite a few discussion about these guys with various people throughout the festival, and almost everyone agrees on one thing. If any band is going to be a big rock band type like Foo Fighters or Queens of the Stone Age, it’s these guys. Also rocking a Hey Mercedes vibe, Diamond Youth rock heavily distorted guitars that filled the outdoor area. “Can’t Shake The Feeling” and “Separator” made for a rock show. It’s pretty crazy that these dudes only have three EPs under their belt and manage to sound this solid live. Here’s to hoping for a full length for them soon and a big year for these guys this year.
I couldn’t really figure out much underage/badge-less shows for the evening, so I grabbed dinner and headed back to my apartment to charge my dead phone. Today is rainy, but I may still try to go (finally) see The 1975. Not sure what else is on the agenda.
Thursday was a busy day in the daytime for me. I spent the majority of my day at the Equal Vision/Pure Noise showcase before heading over to see a Chiodos show.
The showcase started off with special guest From Indian Lakes. I saw these guys back in November opening for Lydia and they absolutely blew me away. Frontman Joey Vannucchi just floors me every time I see them. I mean seriously, this guys vocal power is incredible, especially for being relatively new to the game. Once again, the repletion of “Breaking my bones” is still stuck in my head from “Paintings.” The set drew a very large crowd, which is great for the band – particularly since it was rather early in the day.
I headed over to get lunch with Jesse from PropertyOfZack so I missed My Iron Lung’s set and most of To The Wind’s. I caught the end of the latter’s and they sounded like a pretty solid hardcore band that fans seemed to enjoy a lot. I’ll have to check out their material.
Kurt Travis and crew in A Lot Like Birds were up next. To be honest, I’ve only ever casually listened to them, but man is their live show something else. The chaotic chemistry between frontman Kurt Travis and “heavy vocalist” Cory Lockwood becomes a prime focus of the set. The ability of both of the singers is remarkable – Travis soars while Lockwood adds a chaotic nature to the set. The mixture of harmony and disorder steals the set. At this point, there’s hardly any denying how talented Travis is. Catch these guys on Warped Tour this summer if you’re looking for something a little heavier for your day.
After Birds set, I decided to catch The American Scene again. I saw them the day before, but the sound wasn’t fantastic in that venue so I wanted to see them with better ears. And man, these guys are great. I stand by every word I said yesterday. This band is criminally underrated. Seeing them live, Matthew Vincent’s talent as a frontman comes across even more-so than on the records and his lyrics really stand out. He is easily one of the strongest and most under-appreciated songwriters in pop-rock today.
I missed Being As An Ocean to get food again – sorry, South By requires a lot of good food; it’s a rule. Next was Gameface, a rock band that has been making music since before I was born. As a result of that, I was rather unfamiliar with them. However, their live set was quite enjoyable. Just a good ol’ rock concert with some pop-punk elements – I use that word rather lightly though. It was a loud set, with their fans belting along to all the anthems. I can definitely see how they’ve influenced bands like New Found Glory, Funeral For a Friend, and even Frank Turner. Their first new record in over a decade, Now Is What Matters Now, releases this Tuesday. I’ll certainly be checking it out.
I was very interested in how The Story So Far would sound live, as a lot of people seem to think they’re one of the best bands in this new pop-punk scene. Well, I’ll say this – their fans go insane for them. Constants stage dives, mosh pits, crowdsurfing, jumping – they go nuts. The set was definitely entertaining, with songs like “The Glass” and the opening “Right Here” sounding huge in the outdoor heat. Frontman Parker Cannon may not be the strongest vocalist – he just kind of yells into the mic and sings the words really loudly – but I can see why the fans like their live show so much. The energy is there. I will say that behind The Wonder Years, I probably do consider them one of the better bands in the scene today, even if I don’t find myself listening to them too often anymore.
Last minute, I heard about a Chiodos unofficial show nearby, so I ducked out of TSSF set a few minutes early and headed over there. I couldn’t get in, so I literally watched it from across the street. Surprisingly, the sound was just fine over there – the stage was outside – and I could see the stage quite well. They played about five tracks, starting off with “The Only Thing You Talk About” and ending with my personal favorite “The Undertaker’s Thirst For Revenge.” I’d never seen them live before – how? – so I was quite impressed with Craig Owen’s stage presence. The man was born for the spotlight. His vocals absolutely soar live, and when he climbs into the crowd, there’s really no missing him. I’m quite interested in how Devil will sound.
So that was it for yesterday. I called it an early night due to being out so late Wednesday. I tried to go see The 1975 but the line was nuts, so I’ll just catch them on Saturday at Waterloo. Today I’ll be hanging out at the Charlie Says Fest that we are sponsoring to see Diamond Youth, Driver Friendly, Pup, Tiny Moving Parts, and For The Foxes.
Let me start this by saying that I hope everyone is okay after the terrible, terrible incident last night. I physically cannot even believe that.
Side note: I’m running on 4 hours of sleep so this will probably not be a very good write up and I apologize for that in advance.
Tuesday was a pretty light day for me. I saw The Vantage (ex-Safety Work Orange) put on a quick set in the afternoon and that’s about it. They put on quite a fun live show, ranging from some more acoustic based tracks to some loud pop-rock songs. “Something In The Air” was a great example of how fun vocalist James Mason can make songs. His voice danced around the calm drum taps. “Changes” and “On My Way” were easily the highlights of the set. The former starts off as a brooding number before the guitar strums kick in as it builds to be the loudest, most exciting song of the set, carrying much more emotion live than on the recorded version even. If you get the chance to check out one of their sets, I highly recommend it for pop-rock fans.
On Wednesday, I started out at the Big Picture Media showcase to say hi to some friends. I caught part of a set from Lime Cordiale, a rock band from Australia. I wasn’t familiar with their music prior to it, but hey, dudes with Australian accents can make for a fun rock show.
From there, I headed to see The American Scene for my first time. Although the sound in the venue was pretty bad – you could really only hear the guitars well – I can tell they put on a great live show. The opening “Just Say It” had my ears right of the get go, as it’s probably my favorite song of theirs. Frontman Matthew Vincent sounds really great live, being able to a bit louder than on the recorded version. Seeing them live made me remember how underrated their full length is. I’m hoping to possibly catch their set again today and if you’re around, I recommend the same.
Mike Mains & The Branches took the stage next and made me realize yet again why Calm Down, Everything Is Fine is one of my top records of the year thus far. The suit-clad crew had feet tapping right along to the title track, while “Noises” was even louder. Due to the sound in the venue, it made it sound even more like a raw rock n’ roll show. Surprisingly, they even slowed down the set, playing the somber “Where Love Dies.” This showed that they weren’t afraid to take risks – most bands wouldn’t play a soft cut at SXSW – and that they can execute both loud and quiet with ease. I have all the faith in the world in this band after hearing their latest record and really hope that this year is their year.
Dear You threw some pop-punk into my day, with the small stage setup making the show feel even more like what I imagine a more “classic” scene pop-punk show would be like. “Black & White” was a fast-paced gut punch due to the dual vocals and biting bassline. As their first show in Austin, the band drew a fair crowd that was stoked to sing along. Even the more mid-tempo “If Worries Were Weights” came across well in the live setting, with the ridiculously catchy chorus really standing out.
After that, I charged up my phone and headed out to wait in line for the Brooklyn Vegan showcase, which could end up being my favorite part of this week.
I missed Placeholder due to the line, but I caught Frameworks’ set. Man…seeing this band live has affirmed that they will probably be one of my favorite hardcore acts of the year. The way they have so much emotion in their live show and songs makes me view them as what I imagine seeing a traditional hardcore band would be like. Their vocalist – why can’t I find his name anywhere? – has such a commanding stage presence. Constantly wrapping the mic around his neck, he made the show feel quite authentic and truly like a hardcore show. The best thing about this band is that they aren’t afraid to just play as loud and intense as possible, without worrying about being in the perfect key or tone. I have a feeling that Loom will really catapult them to the top of the newer hardcore scene.
I had never listened to Cheap Girls before, admittedly, but they put on an enjoyable set. Just some clear and clean rock songs really. This is a band that I can imagine putting on when it’s a nice sunny day and I’m just looking for some crisp rock songs to throw on. I’ll definitely have to check out their material.
Seeing The Front Bottoms for my second time confirmed that they are easily the most fun band I’ve seen live. There’s really no other way to put it – their live show is just beyond enjoyable. The tongue-and-cheek nature of their songs and truly memorable lyrics always get a huge stir out of the crowd. Voclaist Brian Sella chugged a beer on set yet still managed to sound great and ridiculously full of energy throughout the set. Tracks like “Skeleton” and “The Beers” were wild live, while “Twin Size Mattress” was absolutely soaked with emotion as it closed out the set. I fully believe that this band’s live show could be not any more enjoyable than it is – they just know exactly what they’re doing.
I couldn’t wait to see Touche Amore again, as their performance before AFI was one of my most memorable concert experiences. This time was no different, as the band yet again tore through a huge amount of material without ever putting on the brakes. The amount of intensity Jeremy Bolm performs with is something all vocalists should take notes on. He constantly yells his lungs out, but one of my favorite parts of their show is how involved he lets the crowd be. This time no stagediving was allowed, but he still constantly puts the mic into the crowd and even jumped into the crowd to sing the end of the set. While their recordings confirm their skill and growth enough, their live show really cements it.
And then 1AM rolled around and out came Against Me!. Now, I had never seen this band live before – crazy, I know – but man. You talk about a rock and roll show and this is exactly what it should be. Laura Jane Grace absolutely dominates the stage with ridiculous intensity. I mean seriously, hearing “True Trans Soul Rebel” kick off the set alone affirms their legacy. All of the Transgender Dysphoria Blues cuts sounded even better live than recorded, having that live edge that really gives them more bite. “Unconditional Love” was a more upbeat favorite, while “Black Me Out” was just a furious good time. “I Was A Teenage Anarchist” was an all out sing along, while the closing “New Wave” fit as the perfect opening track. There’s no wonder this band has such a strong following and dedicated fanbase, their live show is pretty much unmatched as an all out rock show.
Anyways, it’s Thursday morning now and I’m exhausted. Today I’m planning to spend the afternoon alternating between the Topshelf Showcase and Equal Vision/Pure Noise showcase. I’m hopefully seeing The 1975 at the MTV Woodies tonight.
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.”
This Is Twice Now
A Place Near The City
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.
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.
The Great Repetition
History Reshits Itself
Home Away From Here
Praise / Love
And Now It's Happening in Mine
Is Survived By
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
The Leaving Song
The Days of the Phoenix
God Called in Sick Today
Just Like Heaven (The Cure cover)
Dancing Through Sunday
Silver and Cold
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.
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
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
Back In Your Head
Walking with a Ghost
I Couldn’t Be Your Friend
Now I’m All Messed Up
I Was A Fool
Where Does The Good Go
Shock To Your System
How Come You Don’t Want Me
Feel It In My Bones
Call It Off
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.
Where I Want To Be
The Permanent Rain
No One’s Gonna Need You More
Northern Lights (can't remember order but they played it near end)
Never Feel Alone
Work In Progress