Monthly Archives: September 2013

Saves the Day Turn Back Time with Youthful Self-Titled Album, Electrifying Tour

by Vasilis, contributing writer

Where does a band go after releasing three emotionally tormented albums, a conceptual trilogy packed with alienation, fear, turmoil, painful self-discovery, and eventual acceptance? For Saves the Day, the challenge provided just the fresh start they needed. Front man Chris Conley, the band’s only remaining original member, described the completion of the trilogy to Punknews.org as the moment the band “finally found peace”. Daybreak, the trilogy’s final piece, faced many problems with members leaving and re-recordings, but the finished product received solid reviews and re-introduced the world to the band. The trilogy spanned 7 years and countless line-up changes but in the end showed that the band had a lot more left in the tank.

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Saves the Day – Self Titled Album

With the trilogy behind them, Saves the Day asked fans to help fund their upcoming, self-titled album, which resulted in a hugely successful Pledge campaign. This allowed the band to write the album they wanted to while giving fans the opportunity to witness cool, intimate shows where played their classic early albums in return. The resulting album felt like a dream fulfilled for Saves the Day, who finally have a solid core line-up. The tracks are short and punchy with poppy melodies mixed with the old, aggressive feel of earlier Saves the Day music and a noticeably brighter outlook on life. The album combines the eclectic variety of In Reverie with the classic Saves the Day sound of Stay What You Are, with songs like “Remember”, “The Tide of Our Times” and “Ain’t No Kind of Love” feeling like a breath of fresh air for the band. With a new album in tow, the group embarked on a long-awaited headlining tour where they asked fans to weigh in on what songs they wanted to hear.

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Hostage Calm – Music Hall of Williamsburg

So on September 26, when the tour came to Brooklyn, the anticipation was sky-high as The Music Hall of Williamsburg was the earliest show to sell out. Connecticut-based punk band Hostage Calm opened, quickly marching through tracks from their latest full-length, Please Remain Calm,along with old fan favorite “War on a Feeling”. The band has been touring tirelessly in support of the 2012 album, and while their crowd was small, the dedicated group still showed up to sing along to every verse. Evan Weiss’s acoustic/punk project Into It. Over It. followed, sporting a full-band look that contrasted nicely to Evan’s usual solo acoustic set-up. While Evan’s witty, insightful and self-aware lyrics can often get a bit swallowed up in the full band setting, his stage presence and unmatched energy were still front-and-center. Evan and his backing band were on point during the 14-song set that spanned the entirety of the band’s catalog with some solid choice cuts, including “Humboldt”, “Heartificial”, and “Discretion and Depressing People”.

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                                                                                                       Into It. Over It. – Music Hall of Williamsburg

Saves the Day finally stormed the stage at 10pm, sporting a setlist that featured 30 (yes, 30) songs that touched on the band’s entire career. After opening with “Remember”, the first track off their new release, fans were whipped into a frenzy when the band launched into old pop punk favorite “Shoulder to the Wheel”, and there was no shortage of somersaulting stage divers and crowd surfers in the audience. The reaction to each song off Through Being Cool or Stay What You Are was nothing short of pure bedlam, but the band only became more invigorated to see the response they were getting. At times the crowd’s singing overtook Chris Conley’s nasally vocals as the show became a celebration of the band’s entire career. Fans showed some of the newer songs some love as well, displaying the devotion and appreciation to their entire catalog.

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                                                                                                       Saves the Day – Music Hall of Williamsburg

The great thing about Saves the Day is they always change their setlist up, so no two are the same. While the band would never leave off classics like “Holly Hox, Forget Me Nots”, “Firefly”, or “The End”, every show is an opportunity to hear songs like “Through Being Cool”, “Jukebox Breakdown”, “Get Fucked Up”, “Undress Me”, and “Bones”, some lesser known tracks that show off the band’s impressive range. By the time they ended with popular b-side “Sell My Old Clothes, I’m Off to Heaven”, fans were not ready to go, and neither was the band. Returning to the stage to play the hauntingly catchy “At Your Funeral”, the band busted out two more rare tracks to end the night with “Banned From the Back Porch” and “Jodie”. Finishing with the closer from their 1997 debut album Can’t Slow Down felt fitting, as the band paid tribute to their past while the fans rewarded them with the energy and passion they have earned. In the end, the set proved to be one of the most memorable I have ever witnessed.

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                                                                                                        Saves the Day – Music Hall of Williamsburg

Never ones to rest, the band also played a secret after-show at St. Vitus Bar in Brooklyn at 1am, playing through their 1999 pop punk magnum opus Through Being Cool. The band’s tireless work ethic, passion, and love for their fans and their own work is something to be admired and praised, and with so many people packing their shows on tour it was a just reward for another solid album and a fantastic live show. It appears stepping into the time machine has been the best thing Saves the Day could have done.

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Quote of the Day

Oh you laugh like there’s hope in the story
That’s alright honey
That’s alright with me

– “Bones” by Ben Howard

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September 29, 2013 · 1:08 am

Happy Birthday, Babel

by Cherie

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It’s officially been a year since Mumford and Sons released their second album, Babel. Just this month the band revealed that they are going on a (temporary) indefinite hiatus. The break is understandable; they’ve been touring the world for six years and performing at countless festivals and shows. Lead singer Marcus Mumford got married to actress Carey Mulligan last year, and the rest of the band has family and friends off the road who surely miss them as well. All signs point to this being a temporary break, though of indeterminate length, but it’s hard to reconcile the fact that there won’t be any shows or new music for the foreseeable future. M&S have always been one of those bands that leak new songs at their live shows. Many such songs live on only in the youtube videos they are recorded in, without any studio versions existing.

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But let’s be thankful for what we do have. Two fantastic albums, where the band stayed true to themselves and never tried to be something they were not. Countless interviews that will forever live in infamy (including the Ted is jet lagged interview, the Shania Twain appreciation video, and the “it’s a mirror!” incident). Countless live videos of fantastic quality recorded by fans and available to watch at one’s leisure on youtube, as well as full festival sets spanning several years and various festivals. Their Gentlemen of the Road Stopovers were a huge success, bringing together fans, local businesses, and great music. And, as someone who’s been lucky enough to go to two M&S concerts (three if you count the Bull Moose in-store), I’m thankful that I got to see them live in person.

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Let’s not dwell on their absence for the next few weeks/months/years. Let’s be grateful for what we have gotten from the boys. And let’s await whatever the band has in store for us next.

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Constantly Stuck In My Head

by Cherie

It’s been a little over a week since I got a hold of the newest Arctic Monkey’s album, “AM”, but it’s been on constant rotation during my drive to work ever since. It doesn’t matter which song I end the ride on, it’s guaranteed to be stuck in my head for my entire work shift. Nearly every track on the album is catchy, even the ones with darker undertones, but there’s just something about “Arabella” that gets me in a good mood every time. Perhaps its the low-key opening of the song that highlights Alex Turner’s smooth vocals that first drew me to the song. Or maybe its the chorus that I fell in love with; slightly off kilter and backed by electric guitar riffs and layered vocals. When the drums kick in with the electric guitars on full though is when the song really comes into its own. Whenever I finish listening to this song I always feel like I’m ready to take on the world. And for that reason alone it’s sure to be on my favorite list for years to come.

“My days end best when the sunset gets itself behind / that little lady sitting on the passenger side / it’s much less picturesque without her catching the light / the horizon tries but it’s just not as kind on the eyes / as Arabella.”

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September 21, 2013 · 10:48 pm

Yellowcard & Fans Celebrate 10 Years of Ocean Avenue in Style

by Vasilis

 

In September 2007, Yellowcard embarked on a co-headlining tour with The Blue October that hit up New York’s Nokia Theater (currently Best Buy Theater). Cherie and I planned to attend that show but plans fell through and we never did. I remember that show very vividly because Yellowcard went on hiatus the following year and I was never able to see them live. I was devastated because they were a band that was instrumental in shaping my musical taste, and it all started with Ocean Avenue. Luckily, Yellowcard returned in 2010, and have since released two of their best albums to date.

 

Like many bands, Yellowcard have ridden the wave of nostalgia through a 10-year anniversary tour, but the band also added another element: a re-worked acoustic version of their breakthrough album Ocean Avenue. It proved to be a wonderful treat for the fans and demonstrated the band’s maturity and versatility with improved vocals from Ryan Key and picture perfect precision from each member. The band decided to use the twist in their tour, where they performed the album acoustically before performing an elongated encore with several of their most popular songs from their four most recent studio albums. The tour hit Irving Plaza in New York City for two straight nights of nostalgic beauty, and I was lucky enough to attend the first of the two sold-out shows.

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Yellowcard tabbed Geoff Rickley, frontman of seminal Victory Records post-hardcore band Thursday, to open the show, joking during their set that having the guy from Thursday open for them makes them sound cooler than they are. Since Thursday’s break-up in 2011, Geoff has been releasing free solo mixtapes for fans while touring every now and again. He played a mix of solo songs and Thursday songs, including “Standing on the Edge of Summer” off their legendary 2001 album Full Collapse. He waxed nostalgic about 2003, performing covers by The Flaming Lips (“Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Pt. 1”) and Long Island legends Brand New (“The Boy Who Blocked His Own Shot”) before going into “This Song Has Been Brought To You By A Falling Bomb” off Thursday’s breakthrough album War All The Time.  Geoff’s set was often strange, awkward, and uncomfortable, but he definitely added more nostalgia to the night.

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Yellowcard followed and you could tell the crowd came prepared. Ryan Key warned everyone that Boston’s audience raised the bar, and the fans met the challenge from the first note of “Way Away” belting louder than even the band could believe at times. The hour-long acoustic Ocean Avenue set was stunning, a true celebration of the band’s hard work and the legacy the milestone record has left behind. “Ocean Avenue” and “Only One” inspired crowd surfers, even in an acoustic setting, while “Life of a Salesman” brought out the mosh pit. When Ryan Key was struggling with his vocals during the first verse of “Ocean Avenue”, the fans picked him up, singing loud enough to give him time to recover for the chorus. Every Sean Mackin violin solo or Ryan Mendez guitar solo brought out wild cheers and applause from the crowd.

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The real treat was getting to see some deep cuts played live for the first time, including some favorites like “Miles Apart”, “One Year, Six Months” and “The View From Heaven”, which they dedicated to a long-time Yellowcard fan Tiesha who attended every Yellowcard NYC show but sadly passed away last month. The band closed out the set with a beautiful rendition of “Back Home” before coming back out ten minutes later, electric guitars in hand. The band brought out some more surprises, opening with Paper Walls deep cuts “Paper Walls” and “The Takedown” to the crowd’s delight. The band tore through the second set, equipped with Yellowcard classics “Rough Landing Holly”, “Always Summer”, “Here I Am Alive”, and “With You Around” along with other great cuts like “Be The Young” and “Awakening”. The band closed out the set with “Lights and Sounds”, which included a drum solo from LP and the ending from Ocean Avenue played again electrically. Even with their set over, fans were not ready for the show to end, still chanting for an encore. It was an emotional end to what turned out to be a truly special night for the band and their fans. Sean Mackin and Ryan Key were speechless, proclaiming this as perhaps the best Yellowcard show of all time, and by the expression on their face you could tell they weren’t just saying it. They opened the show by raising the bar, and the crowd met the challenge.

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There are many things we take for granted in our everyday lives. Certain things are always there for us and as a result we don’t even think about them.  When Yellowcard went on hiatus in 2008, I was so sad that I had never gotten the chance to see such an integral band in my life live. Five years later, I can’t believe I’ve seen them six times (all post-hiatus) and even got the chance to meet them at Warped Tour 2012, where I learned that in addition to being fantastic musicians they are fantastic people as well. Yellowcard is a band I won’t take for granted any more, and that’s why every time they drop by New York I will make it a point to do my best to see them live. This show became another great memory that the band has provided me, and I am always grateful for it.

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Introducing Bear’s Den

by Cherie

Some bands just sound better live. Maybe its the acoustics, or maybe its just genuine talent showing through the polished final cut, but there’s something about a good live performance that can make me fall in love with a band I previously dismissed for whatever reason.

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Enter Bear’s Den. Prior to seeing them open the Forest Hills Stadium show for Mumford & Son’s, I’d only had the faintest idea of their existence. When I learned that they would be opening the show I immediately looked them up on Spotify and iTunes, hoping to at least familiarize myself with their work before I saw them in person. To my consternation I found that they didn’t actually have a record out yet, and that their first EP was due out the day before the show. So I hit up youtube to try and find some live performances. Their most popular video was a live video from an early Gentlemen of the Road Stopover show of the song “Pompeii.” I loved the track, and was impressed by the live performance of it, including the addition of Ross Holmes on fiddle. The track, alas, didn’t make it onto the band’s first EP, though a recorded version is available on youtube.

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The band’s first EP Agape is just five songs long but packs an emotional punch. Each song tells a different story, but they all struggle with the same theme; broken relationships that may or may not be mendable. Each song gets progressively darker, with the title track being the most upbeat, relatively speaking. “I have seen all that you’ve seen / and I have been where you’ve been / no, our hands will never be clean / at least we can hold each other” concludes the song “When You Break”, arguably the band’s darkest track. The band consists of just three members; Andrew Davie (lead vocals, guitar), Joey Haynes (vocals, banjo), and Kevin Jones (vocals, drums, guitar). They create a minimalist sound with powerful vocal harmonies that add an extra layer to their songs.

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It’s a solid debut EP but the fact remains that Bear’s Den is a band that thrives on live performances. “Playing live is the most important thing to us as a band…The kind of scrutiny a song goes under in the studio can be quite painful at times…[Harris] understood that and was instrumental at getting across that live energy and pushing us to get the most out of the songs” states band member Andrew Davie. The final recorded EP is a little rough around the edges, but that’s just a part of its charm. The band has a DIY attitude, and their hard work has quickly won over fans both inside the industry and outside of it. The band signed with Communion Records (co-founded by Ben Lovett of Mumford and Sons) and joined Mumford and Sons on many of their Gentlemen of the Road shows in 2013. They have also announced tour dates with another up and coming British band, Daughter, to round out the year. Needless to say, with just one EP under their belt they are clearly a band to watch in the future.

 

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Mumford & Sons Invade Forest Hills, Queens

by Vasilis, contributing writer

    I was born and raised in Queens, New York and have lived here my entire life. I went to elementary school and high school within a 10-minute walk from my house. Despite my many criticisms of Queens, I still love this place and can see myself living here my entire life. My favorite baseball team plays here, my favorite places to eat are here, my girlfriend lives here, and it’s also conveniently located near buses and subways that help me get to New York City whenever I want. The only thing I’ve always longed to see in Queens is live music. Citi Field holds almost no live concerts, and all my favorite places, including Irving Plaza, Webster Hall, Music Hall of Williamsburg and The Gramercy Theater are over an hour away in the heart of New York City.

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So when I heard Mumford & Sons would be playing a show 15 minutes away from my house in Forest Hills, Queens I was ecstatic. Live music returning to Queens has been a long time coming. I have always half-joked about building my own mid-sized music venue (1000-3000 capacity) in Queens and having all my favorite bands play there, so to actually have a concert in my home borough was a dream come true. Forest Hills Tennis Stadium, which hosted the U.S. Open before Arthur Ashe Stadium existed, is a little less modest, holding over 16,000 people, but it’s still live music nonetheless, and to actually see a band I like perform there only made it better.

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I won’t go into too much detail on Gentlemen of the Road’s history or the show itself, as Cherie already did that, but I will say that all three bands were fantastic and Mumford & Sons completely blew me away live. Each band came from England, which made sense as the tour was dubbed the “Full English Tour”. Bear’s Den featured a very mellow acoustic sound akin to Mumford & Sons, banjo and all, while The Vaccines (who I’d gotten to see open for Arctic Monkeys in Central Park) play a faster, garage rock-fueled indie rock similar to Franz Ferdinand, The Strokes, and the aforementioned Arctic Monkeys. Mumford & Sons tore through a 2-hour long, 19 song set that included 10 songs off their latest hit album Babel and 8 songs off their critically acclaimed debut Sigh No More. Being in the tri-state, they treated fans to a quiet Bruce Springsteen cover during the encore, which brought out chants of “BRUUUUUUUUCE” from the New York crowd, and they ended with their biggest hit “The Cave”, which inspired dancing, clapping, stomping, and singing from the sold-out Queens crowd.

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Unfortunately, seeing as how this was the first show in this venue (and area) in over 20 years, inevitable problems arose that will need to be fixed for next summer’s anticipated shows. For one, way too many tickets were sold, and some people with tickets weren’t even allowed to enter the venue. Additionally, with only one exit for 17,000 attendees, exiting the stadium was a nightmare and took almost half hour, made worse by very crowded train platforms. Lastly, on top of overcrowding, so many people who attended the show did so because it was the “trendy” or “cool” place to be on a historic night for the community, meaning a lot of the crowd were not real fans. This led to a number of people who came just to drink and talk loudly and take pictures, even while the band was playing, which was beyond annoying. There were many disrespectful people at the show in certain areas and it did take away a little bit from the music itself.

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Negatives aside, the show was a huge success for Forest Hills. Many businesses were positively affected by the boom in people and traffic and with the potential for future shows at this famous venue, it could be a huge boost for the community. The city added a lot of extra police directing people to the stadium so finding it was no problem at all. The people behind the show admitted to “growing pains” which I think is important because they see the challenges and the problems that need to be fixed and I have full confidence that they will do so to make the next show even better. In the end, Queens New York had the musical moment it’s always deserved.

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