Fearless Friends Tour (Granada Theater, Lawrence, KS)
Most Anticipated in 2012:
Say Anything– Anarchy, My Dear
The new Miike Snow album
Most Overrated in 2011:
Blink-182 (they’re not that good)
Favorite Musical Memory of the Year:
On November 20, I received press passes for the Fearless Friends Tour at the Granada in Lawrence, KS. Now, I’m kind of a metal head, so when I found out that I’d be interviewing Blessthefall for a freelance writing job… well, I gushed a bit. Not only did I get a chance to hang with all the bands on tour before the show, I got to watch three of my favorite metal bands from behind the on-stage mixing board. When I was in high school I always wanted to be “that person” taking photos and hanging out behind the scenes. We chatted about guitar gear, religious perspectives, and food. I guess it finally hit me that day that I am, indeed, “that person.”
Make Do and Mend have announced they are releasing an all acoustic EP. Part and Parcel will be released on Paper + Plastick Records on November 22. You can stream “Unknowingly Strong” on their artist profile through absolutepunk.net here. Part and Parcel can be ordered on the MDAM webstore or a special from Paper + Plastick that includes moving clock parts.
They play The Fest in Gainesville then hit the road for most of November supporting Senses Fail and again in December supporting Thursday. Check out all of their tour dates below.
w/ Senses Fail
11/4 – Detroit, MI @ St. Andrews Hall
11/5 – Chicago, IL @ The Bottom Lounge
11/6 – Lincoln, NE @ Bourbon Theatre
11/8 – Denver, CO @ Marquis Theatre
11/9 – Salt Lake City, UT @ In The Venue
11/11 – Seattle, WA @ Studio Seven
11/12 – Portland, OR @ Hawthorne Theater
11/14 – Pomona, CA @ The Glass House
11/15 – San Diego, CA @ House of Blues
11/16 – Mesa, AZ @ The Nile
11/18 – Austin, TX @ Emo’s East
11/19 – Houston, TX @ Fitzgerald’s
11/21 – Nashville, TN @ Exit/In
11/22 – Covington, KY @ Mad Hatter Club
12/26 – Sayreville, NJ @ Starland Ballroom
12/27 – Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club
12/28 – New Haven, CT @ Toad’s Place
12/29 – Boston, MA @ Royale Nightclub
12/30 – Philadelphia, PA @ Theatre of Living Arts
Taking Back Sunday is set to kick off their headlining tour on June 14, in Denver, CO. The summer-long run, which also features Thursday and Colour Revolt, will support the release of their new album Taking Back Sunday, due out June 28.
The self-titled release is a return to the band’s original line-up from their 2002 debut Tell All Your Friends: vocalist Adam Lazzara, guitarist Eddie Reyes and drummer Mark O’Connell have reunited with vocalist/guitarist John Nolan and bass player Shaun Cooper, who departed in 2003. Tell All Your Friends has sold over one million records worldwide, and launched the band as one of the most influential of its generation. Taking Back Sunday is featured on the cover of the July issue of Alternative Press magazine, with a 13-page spread inside. Recorded in Los Angeles with producer Eric Valentine (Queens of the Stone Age, All American Rejects), Taking Back Sunday is the New York band’s fifth studio album, three of which have been certified gold.
After seeing about 23 bands in one day, I fancied myself some sort of concert attending superhero. Powers: stamina (able to stand for an entire day), superhearing (can stand in front of speakers and not turn immediately deaf) and the ability to see the future (able to pick out the next big thing). You know what would have been a good superpower? The ability to fly…or maybe something like Nightcrawler’s power where I can just pop myself wherever I want to go. Thursday, we faced the fierce supervillain known as ”traffic” and his extra evil sidekick, “the good-luck-trying-to-park monster.” After a ferocious battle, we finally made it downtown and found a place to park.
I was already frustrated – in the time it took us to park, I missed a handful of bands I wanted to see. Feeling defeated with yet to see a single band for the day, my friend insisted we’d feel better with coffee in our systems. The hits just kept coming – the coffee/breakfast taco place we walked to had just finished serving breakfast. NO BREAKFAST TACOS? How to go on? It was like some cosmic SXSW-being had found my Kryptonite and took away my breakfast tacos. Perhaps if I had gotten more sleep, I would have realized that in Texas almost every other building or food trailer has tacos and all was not lost, but at that point in time, it really felt like the end of the world.
We ordered our coffee, sat down and I half-heartedly ate my sandwich off the lunch menu. Midway through our meal, my friend perked up. “Bethany, do you know who is sitting next to us?” I cast a casual glance at a table of what looked to me to be your everyday SXSW goers – sunglasses, toms shoes, suits and really skinny guys. A few of the guys had their backs to me and my previously mentioned superpowers didn’t involve x-ray vision to see who those guys were.
“That’s Michael Cera.”
I listened to the voice. Sure enough, that was moviestar Michael Cera was sitting next to us with his band Mister Heavenly, while I just sat around looking like a depressed hobo because I didn’t get to eat my daily tacos.
But you don’t care about my ridiculous obsession with breakfast tacos, so let’s get to the music.
We finally moved on from breakfast. I wanted to check out Foster the People at the MTV Garage, but the line was huge to get in and I don’t really do lines…at least not that early in the day, so we walked a few more blocks and ended up at the IFC house where we were under the impression that Wye Oak was about to play. Well, there were quite a few people at the IFC house enjoying the free drinks and a lot of other people looked busy in the glass studio, but it didn’t look like Wye Oak was playing anytime soon. Now I came to Texas to see an absurd amount of bands and so far this day we had been striking out. We bustled back outside and walked another block to perhaps my favorite venue at SXSW: The Central Presbyterian Church. Why do I love this venue? 1. Air-conditioning, 2. Chairs and 3. Best acoustics out of all the venues. I guess iTunes got the awesome acoustics memo because they recorded all the bands playing there and you can download those live sessions from SXSW on iTunes now.
We had gotten a text about an unofficial lineup happening at the church, but we didn’t really know set times. So we were pleasantly surprised when our first performance of the day came from synth rockers Neon Trees. Some people are anti-top 40 radio/mainstream, which Neon Trees have broken into, but if you disregard this band for their popularity, then you’re being an idiot because they are phenomenal live. They sound a bit like the Killers and were even discovered by that band in a way. I’ve seen them almost ten times in the past year alone because of their relentless tour schedule and I’ve never been bored by them. Each performance is unique and this performance was especially so. As mentioned earlier, this band was performing in a church and their frontman Tyler fully embraced the setting, taking off his shoes for climbing over pews and up on podiums, swinging his microphone around and more. In the middle of one song he leaned against the podium and said, “We’re gathered here in the church of rock,” before busting into the next round of the chorus. The people loved it, but I could only imagine some pastor in the back of the church cringing.
Kansas City’s the Republic Tigers followed, playing several of their new songs. “Kingsly,” “Merrymake It with Me,” “Somethin’ Fierce” and “Manny Feathers” filled out most of the set. Though the official recordings of these songs won’t be released until mid-April, but iTunes did record the entire live session at the church. If you want to check out this performance, visit here.
From the church we ventured into a very different sort of venue: Headhunters. Instead of pews and crucifixes we had tikkis and bamboo. The room looked like it only should hold 15 people, but closer to 100 people had squeezed in to the back patio, pressed up against the walls and spilling over the stairs. A band called Hot Panda was just finishing up and though we didn’t get to hear too much from them, I loved the big ballad rock thing they had going on that was turned into party music with the brass accompaniment. But the real reason why we had wedged our way into Headhunters was to see the party king himself: Andrew WK. Andrew WK was singing and playing keys, while a member of Beach Fossils tore it up on the guitar, which was awesome within itself, but really made this show complete was the hosting/singing of Nardwuar the Human Serviette. With this unique trio, we learned about Canadian government, learned about Nardwuar’s back hair and we got down. Though there wasn’t much room to move, Nardwuar demanded that everyone get down and jump up in unison. If you didn’t – he’d call you out and yell at you until you did as asked. Forget the free booze parties with the sunglasses handouts, this is how you party at SXSW.
From Andrew WK and Nardwuar, we swung by the Paste Party on 6th Street. We were eager to check out Saddle Creek trio Rural Alberta Advantage, but a duo of ladies drew us into the sideroom to see what their folksy songs were like. The act performing was Exene Cervenka. The Rural Alberta Advantage performed true to their name, singing heartfelt indie rock songs that transported listeners to what life is like in rural Alberta.
Then we went to see another trio: Grand Child. Grand Child wasn’t really on my radar until I learned that the kind guy, Andy Lane, loaning us floorspace to crash on in Austin was performing at the festival in this band. When I was last at SXSW two years ago, I saw his other band, Driver F, perform a bombastically fun set at the Tiniest Bar. Driver F is pop indie rock with trumpets blazing and huge drumbeats. Grand Child is complete turnaround from that sound. Grand Child is a folk trio with violin, guitar and occasional accordion. Their were some technical problems during this set, but the band kept a positive attitude and still performed a solid set.
The Strokes were the big buzz band Thursday and unlike most bands playing at tiny bars, the Strokes were given a big stage in the middle of a fenced in park. They weren’t scheduled until 8, but the Auditorium Shores Stage at Lady Bird Lake was a bit of a walk, so we joined the masses already walking over there. The park was packed. Food tents and port-a-potties lined the fences and blankets with fans covered nearly every square inch of ground. The photography pit ended up as complete chaos – which was just another testament to the band’s popularity. Despite their break, the Strokes haven’t changed much since the last time I saw them. Sure, the guys all have slightly different haircuts, but the set contained all the hits you could want – “Hard to Explain,” “New York City Cops,” “Reptilia” – and the expected new ones. The songs fit in just as well with the old songs thanks to killer guitar riffs and Julian Casablancas‘ almost-bored-sounding-yet-still-suave singing style with the surprise yowls here and there. Fans got a little too zealous about this show though and the night ended with a bunch of people knocking over a fence, trying to push their way in when it hit capacity.
Hot and tired from the walk to the Strokes, my next stop was a return the air-conditioned Central Presbyterian Church. I had just missed Cults, but by luck I got in just in time for the almost religious experience that was Glasser. Haunting, ethereal vocals and entrancing stomping dance moves to tribal beats: it was like the venue was made specifically for Glasser. Beautiful and breathtaking.
The next portion of my night was a tribute to goofy, geeky indie rock at Maggie Mae’s. I know ‘geek’ used to have a negative connotation, but I’m using it with a very positive tone and to describe bands with pop culture references and very smart lyrics. Washington’s The Lonely Forest performed new songs off their just released Arrows. This is the band that was good enough to attract Death Cab for Cutie‘s Chris Walla‘s attention to sign to as the first to his label, so they’re worth checking out. They’re so catchy, that you won’t regret giving them a listen.
Inside Maggie Mae’s was Aussie Darren Hanlon plucking away upbeat folk songs on guitar and banjo. He was joined by a female guitarist and vocalist that I didn’t recognize, but it was a nice addition to cover the many guest vocals he has on his album.
One of my favorite bands that I last discovered at Lollapalooza followed Hanlon. Jukebox the Ghost is a piano pop rock trio with tons of energy. Their songs are so bubbly that even when they’re singing about being crazy, you’re in a happy mood about it.
If Wednesday I was all about the ladies, it seems like Thursday had become my tribute to Canadians. My favorite Candian singer is Dallas Green and I went to watch him perform with City and Colour. City and Colour has some of the most beautiful and true lyrics I’ve heard. The folk songs are fairly simple instrumentally – mostly just acoustic guitar – but it just makes the poignant lyrics and singing stand out all that more. Just take a look at some of the lyrics in the opening song of the set, “Sleeping Sickness.” “With all the worries that occupy the back of my mind, could it be this misery will suffice?” sings Green in the chorus. For anyone who has lied awake at night with troubling thoughts, this song describes the “sickness” exquisitely.
From one singer-songwriter with killer lyrics to the next, I rounded out Thursday with a familiar favorite: Kevin Devine and the Goddamn Band. Every time I see him perform, he is equally, if not more, passionate. He can mislead by starting off with the typical slow, folk sound, but then he hits a chorus and veins are throbbing and he’s yowling out with such energy and vigor that you can’t help, but be swept away. As a special treat, the set also included songs from Devine’s project with Manchester Orchestra, Bad Books.
So despite my earlier frustrations with the day, Thursday ended up being pretty fantastic.
Check back for more to come from PopWreckoning’s Bethany and her experience at SXSW. You can see more photos from Day 2, Thursday, March 17 below and read her Day 1 blog here.
Some like to look at Bonnaroo Thursday as a practice day: a day to prepare for enduring the next three days of music by “easing” into it with a light day of music. I, however, would argue that Thursday is not a “light, ease into it” day, but the most challenging day of all. I would agree, though, that if you can handle Thursday, you can handle any day at Bonnaroo. Thursday is a test of patience. Any seasoned Bonnaroo veteran can tell you that you can easily spend most of Thursday not at the festival, but stuck in your car for countless hours just waiting to get checked in to the campground or will call.
The PopWreck team had a slight Nashville detour for sushi and a glimpse of the CMAs, which were also this weekend, so by the time we arrived in Tennessee, the car line just to enter the city of Manchester was already outlandish. We then had to spend more time waiting for our credentials before embarking on an even larger journey to find our campsite, which managed to confuse several volunteers. Then another delay came with the time it took to set up the tent before we lost daylight. Suffice it to say, we missed a few Thursday bands that we would have liked to have seen, but those are the breaks and almost everyone at Bonnaroo has to deal with them.
For Thursday, only half of the stages were in use and while there were plenty of good bands spread across various stages, as far as this indie hipster is concerned, the only stage to be at Thursday was “That Tent.” The evening line up at That Tent consisted of Local Natives, Neon Indian, The Temper Trap and The xx. So like I said, this was the place to be Thursday and the tent was packed all night.
My compatriot, Josh, did venture off to explore other bands. He went to Manchester Orchestra at The Other Tent. Here the alt rockers payed a high energy cover and a new song as well as their radio hits such as “I’ve Got Friends” and “Shake It Out.” He also swung by the wild dance party that was Miike Snow at This Tent. Snow went late, which made Josh miss The Dodos as planned. Then, Josh caught the many indie rockers in Blitzen Trapper before grabbing a few laughs with Margaret Cho at the Comedy Tent. As a special treat, The Raconteurs’ Brendan Benson performed with her.
Manchester Orchestra by Joshua Hammond
Manchester Orchestra by Joshua Hammond
Blitzen Trapper by Joshua Hammond
Meanwhile, That Tent, where I was, had a constant showcase of a great indie bands. I began with CA’s Local Natives, who played most of their tunes off Gorilla Manor and a Talking Heads cover. The Fleet Fox-esque band took me by surprise. I guess I just assumed that like the Fleet Foxes, they’d be bearded and flannel-wearing gents. But the harmonious group was a bunch of young hipsters. From listening to the record, I knew to expect the great harmonies, but it was only by seeing them live that I realized how skilled the percussive heavy act really was as members, as members switched up guitars with mandolins and extra drums as well as moving around who had lead vocals. Truly fantastic.
Local Natives by Joshua Hammond
After Local Natives was the chillwave act Neon Indian. I caught Neon Indian in Denver over a year ago and I can’t get over how much they’ve progressed. The group jumped up and down while playing multiple synths. The audience couldn’t help, but dance. The band got a little scandalous during “Deadbeat Summer” when a group of of topless girls loosely covered in paint and feathers like, well, Indians, came out on stage and danced. The set was over all too quickly and sensing that, the band reappeared and played one more: a brand new song.
Neon Indian by Joshua Hammond
Next up was Australia’s The Temper Trap. I guess the third times the charm since I’ve been trying to see these guys on multiple occasions and something has always come up i.e. tornado watches. Lame. Not lame? The band’s performance. I was surprised by their jam band tendencies, but l also loved that they had them. During one great jam break, singer Dougy poured water on an extra tom drum and as he banged on the drum, water sprayed up all over the stage. Of course, the falsetto-rich “Sweet Disposition” really got the crowd moving with an extended guitar riff intro.
The Temper Trap by Joshua Hammond
But the band of the day was The xx. In an almost holy manor, the three touring members of the xx appeared dressed in black on the dimly lit stage. They surrounded turntables set up with big banners of white xs and began their set. They played most of their set and a cover. At first I thought female singer/guitarist Romy Madley Croft, was the member to watch, but I think I was getting drawn into tricks of the spotlight. Sure she has some of the better vocal parts, but it is her fellow singer and bassist, Oliver Sim, that was the real skill behind this band. Regardless, the chemistry of the back and forth vocals and answering dings of the drum machine make this a haunting band to watch. Throw in a starry backdrop and you have the perfect way to end the evening.
The XX by Joshua Hammond
Well, at least the perfect way to end an evening at That Tent. Bonnaroo Thursday has a a tradition, as St. Louis legend Beatle Bob pointed out, and that is to end the music portion with an act on the smaller Troo Music Lounge stage that features rising acts. Joshua James had the honor this evening and his American rock resonated through Centeroo as campers made their way back to their tents. Amped and ready for another day.
Proving that talent and success aren’t just proven in record sales – Thursday stands among the best performance acts around.
As the Jersey-based band entered the stage to a fully excited and cheering Chicago audience, front man Geoff Rickly raises his left arm in confidence. Shadowed in the darkness of the Bottom Lounge, all sit in anticipation for those first harsh and abrasive tones (“For the Workforce, Drowning”) to clamp down our ears and drag the audience through an hour and a half of hell…
And so begins another day on the job for Thursday, the New Jersey Post-Hardcore outfit currently on tour with Fall of Troy and Young Widows.
With guitarist Steve Pedulla and Tom Keeley dolling-out crushing riffs and massive sounds, the band quickly drove their set through the come-to-expect 1-2 combination punch of “Between Rupture and Rapture,” and “Division St” from the band’s 2003 release of War All the Time. Just as things were hitting an open stretch of highway, little heard Andrew Everding chimed in with a cold touch of the keys to add a needed spot from the creepy dept. in the band’s trio of “The Other Side of the Crash/Over and Out (of Control),” the surprising “Paris In Flames” and “Understanding In A Car Crash.”
As he was recovering (possibly as a brief intermission for the band to catch its breath) lead singer Rickly launched into his traditional, mid-show rant – tonight’s lesson: “staying true to yourself and standing up in what you believe in.” “Friends in the Armed Forces,” featured Rickly at both his finest vocal shredding and also was the most intimate show moment during an introspective and whispered lyric of, “Stay with me now,” quickly followed the “preachy” moment.
Only stopping briefly to gather himself off the floor, Geoff and co. quickly followed up their first Common Existence single with the blistering “Autobiography of a Nation” and “Beyond the Visible Spectrum” to close out the mid-section of the evening.
Spotted echoing piano licks, quickly building airy vocals and giant black balloons in a sea of white strobe lighting, the new “Circuits of Fever” brought a much needed production number for this worn down audience. Though the bass (provided by a United Nations’ Bassist**) was bit weak in the knees, drummer Tucker Rule provided enough backing to help the rhythm section hold together.
As a side note, if anyone has doubts that this band can pull off a production number, just check out a video of the song on YouTube from this past Spring’s Taste of Chaos tour.
With our lead vocalist leaping into the audience to begin “Sugar in the Sacrament” to close out the initial set – one could only look on to the band in revelry at how this group truly is able to marry their emotional content and sounds together to create, for lack of better terms, one hell of a show.
Upon dropping the mic, Rickly stumbled off stage to join his group for a much needed rest.
A two song encore began with the group’s last new song from Common Existence for the evening, “Subway Funeral,” and just as you think the performance or the band can’t give anymore, then comes the crowd favorite “Jet Black New Year,” which saw our fearless leader climb to unthinkable heights up the venue’s wall of amps.
Thursday performed extremely well and with great precision for the songs they put on display; notable numbers: “Jet Black New Year,” “Circuits of Fever” and “Division St” (best live version I’ve heard). Minus a few missteps from the sound op, Guitarist Keeley who seemed to cower behind his amp tower for the first 1/3rd of the show and no great variations on the a-typical Thursday set list; this show was rock solid.
Overall this is by far the best performance of this band I have seen in the last five years – Rule’s drumming has improved, Rickly’s vocals were strong and spot-on and the band (as a whole) were as confident as ever in themselves, which is no small feat given the amount of changes and acrobatics the group has seen in the past few years; one can tell they are happier than ever to finally be back where they belong.
Time, perseverance, fortitude, strong studio material and passion is what great bands are made of. Many have tried, few have succeeded but to this industry, and more importantly to their fans, Thursday show they can stand and deliver as one of the best acts around anywhere.
Overall Show Grade: A
*- Bassist name has been omitted as United Nations has a lineup consisting of masked-faced members who are in a revolving door; Geoff Rickly did not divulge the musician’s name during his introduction.
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