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Event Coverage

CityCop and Les Doux are two bands that have been making names for themselves in the post-hardcore/emo scene, each releasing a handful of material that has been very well received.  And rightfully so, as each band employs a chaotic yet cathartic brand of hardcore that draws inspiration from various acts such as Touche Amore and Pianos Become the Teeth.  While both bands differ very much in regards to their inherent sounds, teaming up for the Family Ties/Labors of Love split feels fitting.  The result is a varied, yet wholly wonderful combination of two truly talented bands.  Luckily, we have an official stream of the split for you to enjoy!

I was pumped for this show a good month before it even happened– as soon as it was announced.  Few bands have been making as big of waves in the modern emo scene than empire! empire! (I was a lonely estate) and The World is a Beautiful Place & I am No Longer Afraid to Die, so my excitement was warranted.  Teaming up for one show made for the perfect combination, as both bands have a similar style and delivery.  It also worked out that empire! empire! is a one man band, thus needing The World is… to fill in for the positions that Kieth Latinen could not possibly play.  The result was a seamless transition between the two, and wonderfully played show overall.

Despite the “big” names attached, the real show stealer was a local band called Saintseneca.  Hailing from Columbus, the band is a four piece folk group full of mulch-instrumentalists.  Without traditional percussion, the bulk of their music is comprised of twangy strings and heartfelt vocals.  Each selection was as beautiful and intriguing as the last, with each member swapping out duties ranging from guitar to ukelele.  It made for a very dynamic performance, always keeping the crowd on their toes not knowing what to expect next.  I had heard of the band, and had even dabbled in a bit of their material.  Never did I expect to be so impressed, as they were truly the band of the night.  Arrowhead happened to be…

Proving that an impressively played festival set can pay future dividends, yours truly dug deep into his hip pocket to see Yellowcard after they had made quite the positive impression during their 40 minute set last year. Considering that previous to that Australian performance, the Floridian quintet shared headlining duties with Sum 41, then it was safe to say that us Aussies had been craving a full Yellowcard headline set for quite some time… And the rather intimate setting of The Hi-Fi Bar in central Melbourne was the perfect venue for the first of two sold-out shows.

First up for the night were local pop-rockers For Our Hero. Having never heard a single song by these youngsters before this night, I actually came away rather impressed. Sure, it was pretty safe stuff without any real distinguishing point… But in their spot of warming up an audience who were predominantly waiting to hear a band such as Yellowcard, then For Our Hero achieved their objective. They sounded clear, crisp & catchy with just enough variety to get by. If they can grow into their own sound as they gain experience, then this could be a band with a bright future.

Continuing the “hero” theme, Australia’s 2nd favourite pop-punk outfit Heroes For Hire were up next. I’m actually a fan of their recorded output thus far in their career. Again, they don’t do anything that hasn’t been done by superior overseas bands, but they do so in…

What better way to warm up on the first day of winter than to head along to your local sweat-box and listen to some quality music? On the said date in 2012, I thought I’d take in an interesting trio of acts put together at Festival Hall in Melbourne, with seemingly the only thing linking The Jezabels, Lights & Snakadaktal being that all three outfits contained female vocalists.

First up it was the distinctively named young local quintet Snakadaktal. Playing a kind of folky brand of indie-pop, the band impressed me with their tight musicianship and overall maturity. Sure, their sound is probably not suited to a 5,000 odd capacity venue, but they thankfully didn’t compromise their style for the sake of the occasion. Interestingly, Snakadaktal ordered their set so as to initially suggest to a potentially unknowing crowd that Sean Kelly was the outfit’s only vocalist. Of course, those in the know would anticipate Phoebe Cockburn taking over for the most part, even if her voice seemed just a bit too fragile in a live setting. Overall, however, this was an impressive support slot for an up-and-coming band whose forthcoming debut LP should hopefully make for a rewarding listen.

Next up was Canadian electro-pop artist Valerie Poxleitner… Better known as Lights. Since her sound wasn’t exactly similar to the night’s headliners, it was always going to be fascinating as to how the crowd would take the diminutive brunette… And I think it’s fair to say that…

My introduction to dredg was as them as a live band in the fall of 2005. At that time dredg were already over a decade into their career and it wasn’t until almost a decade later, last night, that I was able to see them again, but it was not to celebrate a new album or a long tour. Instead, it was to hear their 2005 album Catch Without Arms which was played in its entirety. So in a way it was almost as if those seven years in between performances was instantly zapped out of existence for an hour and a half on a cool June night. Their set began promptly at 10:20 PM to a packed and sweltering Roxy. Having seen The Gaslight Anthem play the small Sunset strip club only weeks earlier, it seemed as though capacity was raised by over one hundred for dredg, as the floor was packed into an airtight mass of young and old. Dredg knew exactly why we all were there and got things started with “Ode To The Sun”. The crowd surged forward, creating an ever tightening knot of raised voices and pumping fists. As they worked their way through the album, it was obvious that dredg had thoroughly prepared for the event as every interlude and sample used on the studio recording was heard blaring out of the PA in an eerie weirdness between songs, even when the band themselves were lightheartedly conversing with the audience underneath the noise.…

In some alignment of the stars, the weekend of May 26/27 saw the brilliant Slam Dunk Fest hit the UK in a ray of brilliant sunshine – two distinctly annual events for the price of one – as the two-day celebration of rock, punk and metal arrived in Leeds for its seventh year running. The festival, which also includes a southern leg at Hatfield University, welcomed an absolutely goliath line-up this year which saw Taking Back Sunday headline the main stage, supported on stages across Leeds Students’ Union by bands like Motion City Soundtrack, Architects, Mayday Parade and Fightstar frontman Charlie Simpson in his capacity as a solo artist.

 

So in the blazing heat of northern England (I just wrote that? Wow) Leeds was a buzz of Converse from the city centre up the hill to the Students’ Union. One of the things that strikes me about Slam Dunk now is how communal it all feels; a huge number of artists play the festival (and for a really good price) but there’s no great sprawl between stages and everything is close enough to feel like everybody present is a part of the same event. This year, the site layout (including a marquee stage: more on that later) was perfect for getting about quickly, and it needed to be, too, with the heat.

 

Lower Than Atlantis (source: www.marianneharris.co.uk)

 

After watching Cartel play a stroke of an acoustic set in a secluded spot, the first band I got…

With the exception of those looking to be comfortably seated, it is fair to state that most live music fans prefer their gigs in smaller venues where you can get up close to the performing musicians. Hell, many even automatically pass on 40,000+ stadium events and raise an eyebrow when even their favourite artists are booked at an arena. Exceptions are few and far between, but I recall an article from a couple of years back, where the live show reviewer wished that a NYC show had been held at an arena, rather than a club. Why? The singer was Florence Welch and the room was quite simply not large enough to do her booming voice justice. At the time, I thought “Codswallop”… Having now seen the flame-haired songstress perform live at the 10,000+ capacity Rod Laver Arena, I can understand where the writer was coming from.

First up, however, was Blood Orange… the solo side-project of Devonte Hynes (better known as Lightspeed Champion). Undoubtedly a strange choice as support, he clearly got the gig due to his sporadic writing and producing partnership with Florence + The Machine. Armed with nothing but a laptop (complete with the annoying lit-up fruit beaming into the audience), a keyboard & his guitar, Hynes struggled to garner any interest from the crowd apart from the strange images portrayed on his projector. In all honesty though, it was a decent half-hour set, with the sultry melodies & Hynes’ flamboyant guitar-work often shining through.…

Winter has come way too early to South-Eastern Australia this year, and by the sea was the last place I would usually want to be on a frigid Wednesday evening. On this particular night, however, the short tram ride out of the Melbourne CBD to St.Kilda’s charming Palais Theatre would be well and truly worth it, with City & Colour adding warmth to the first of two sold-out performances. The venue itself is an odd one for concerts: an all-seated bona fide theatre which plays home to everything from stage-shows to film festivals, and from comedians to rock gigs. Usually, I’d prefer my venues a little more – shall we say – beer-soaked, but complementing one of the world’s truly great voices with the acoustics of a high ceiling & some beautiful architecture (which was brought to life by a genuinely unexpected light-show) seemed very appropriate… Even if a portion of the strange cross-section of folk and hardcore fans may not have seen an actual theatre in their lives!

First up this evening would be the act known as Bahamas – aka 31 year old Toronto singer-songwriter Afie Jurvanen. Having just joined the touring City & Colour quintet as lead guitarist, Jurvanen casually paces out all by his lonesome tonight, with nothing but an acoustic guitar, his voice and a spotlight. In front of a half-capacity audience, he initially seems uncomfortable, taking two or three songs to truly find his rhythm and win over a crowd who most…

Photo courtesy of the Atlantic

Sunday was the hottest day of the weekend by far, yet still a relatively (by Coachella standards) 83 degrees with a nice occasional breeze. It showed in the increased turnout to the open stages; Kentucky buzz band Sleeper Agent played a quick and dirty wake-up call of big riffs and shout-along choruses on the Outdoor Stage to the bleary-eyed, quickly roasting audience. I soon made my way to the other side of the festival to check out the criminally underbilled Noisia who played to a half-filled Sahara tent. I’m assuming Noisia’s relentless brand of drum n’ bass and dubstep was a bit too dark for the serotonin-depleted masses. After catching their well received remix of deadmau5’s “Raise Your Weapon,” I detoured over to the Mojave to see perennially on the cusp indie rockers Oberhofer. There’s a bit of Wavves in their rambling, sunny surf-rock, and if there was ever a song to get Brad Oberhofer’s pet project finally over the hump, irrepressibly catchy single “Away Frm U” is about as good a shot as any. Energy was something Mr. Oberhofer definitely did not lack; at one point, he climbed the precarious metal support on the left of the stage, seemingly for the express purpose of massaging the lights before climbing down and giving running high fives to the first row.

Santigold had a great time over at the Main Stage for her mid-afternoon…

Photo courtesy of Kaskade

Where Friday was cold, dreary and windy, Saturday was merely cold and windy. The sun maintained a long vigil during the day, but razor sharp gusts and a high that barely cleared 70 degrees made sure Coachella kept making a pretty penny on hoodie sales. 2:30 in the afternoon is not necessarily morning, but it always feels like that, with the majority of the festival still in their tents or beds recovering from the night before. Destroyer didn’t seem to mind, though; playing a seven song set heavy in Kaputt cuts, Bejar was in fine form for the afternoon mood. Many enjoyed the suave jazz of “Chinatown” and the hazy “Bay of Pigs” from blankets in the grass, an appropriately dreamy soundtrack as the sun beat down on them and most people unwillingly began their day.

After that I kicked up the energy a bit for Zeds Dead’s set at the Sahara. Already way past full, the Sahara tent was rocking with the Mad Decent duo’s eclectic mix of hip-hop, dubstep and straight-ahead electro. Although Zeds Dead killed it, the already rowdy antics of much of the Sahara’s population had me swearing off the tent for the rest of the day, a decision made easier by future Sahara tenants (David Guetta, Martin Solveig, Sebastian Ingrosso … ehh, I’ll pass). I managed to catch the end of Britpop castaways Kaiser Chiefs on the Main Stage,…

There was a surreal moment on Saturday night of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival that typified just how much the festival has changed over the past twelve years. As the orchestral swells and backing vocals dissipated from Leslie Feist’s huge backing band as “Feel It All” faded away into the dusk on the Outdoor Stage, Feist waved to the cheering crowd and thanked them for the support, adding nonchalantly, “see you next weekend!” It was an odd, wrenching tearing of the reality-altering cocoon that Coachella has built up around itself. For months leading up to this weekend, the hype and excitement for what has become the quintessential American music festival is nearly all-consuming, eventually leading to a weekend that, regardless of the seeming impossibility of meeting expectations, manages to live up to it all. Whether you spend your weekend camped in the baking heat, surrounded by a swell of campers who flash eternal smiles despite conditions that would appall the writers of the Geneva Convention, or carpool in from the surrounding small vacation towns of Indio and Palm Desert that turn into veritable cities of drug-addled youth and defiantly stereotypical hippies, Coachella remains a singular experience.

Yet there Feist was, breaking the illusion that this was a unique happening. The splitting of Coachella into two weekends was arguably necessary, given that 2011’s festival sold out in less than six days and this year’s edition was a two-week sellout…

Fourteen years ago, Refused played what, up until last month, was their last show in a grimy basement in Harrisonburg, Virginia. A crowd of only forty or so people saw what is arguably one of the most influential bands of the last twenty years implode in the haze of infighting and police lights. Ten years ago I was first shown their landmark album The Shape of Punk to Come in the back of a high school Spanish class, with the mystical allure that “you will never ever get to see this”. Viewing the too esoteric for its own good documentary Refused are Fucking Dead only seemed to drive this point home. For all intents and purposes “dead” was what they were going to stay. That is why earlier this year when it was announced that Refused were reuniting for a slew of festival dates it came as a shock, not only because of the years of still spiteful attitudes but because for just about everyone who has ever listened to The Shape of Punk To Come Refused’s absence was an obvious given, just like gravity or E=MC^2.

With their Coachella appearance the day after, last night Refused sold out the Glass House in Pomona in seconds in what was by far one of the most talked about festival one offs in a week full of great word of mouth club shows. At 10 PM the lights at the Glass House began to dim and a low drone started to…

Times are tough… Unless you are in the music industry yourself (or a retired millionaire), it is difficult to attend every single gig that passes through town. Local acts will usually give you multiple opportunities – sometimes in the one year – to see them, but when it comes to international outfits, who knows when they will be back around your parts again. Favored acts are usually given the benefit of the doubt, and so was the case with Floridian rockers Anberlin early in 2011, when yours truly saw them twice in the same week (Soundwave Festival & headlining sideshow). So when the Stephen Christian led quintet announced that they would be touring Australia once more in August, I met the revelation with ambivalence. I mean, it was not as if they had released a new album in the meantime, and simply throwing “An Evening With…” on the tour poster did little for me initially. Surely, they had to woo fans some other way. And that they did!

First up – and the only support act of the night – were Sydney pop-punkers Tonight Alive. Having been impressed by the quintet at a previous supporting performace, their placement on this show was most definitely a pleasing one. As per usual, charismatic front-woman Jenna McDougall was handing out lessons on the art of smiling, while woo’ing all the (ummm) gentlemen in attendance with a Led Zeppelin t-shirt covered by a flannel shirt. Looks really are not an issue with…


With the debut albums of both bands having occupied top 10 spots in my previous two year-end lists, the double bill of Australian rock acts Dead Letter Circus and Closure In Moscow at the Hi-Fi Bar in Melbourne sure looked like an appetizing gig. What would be unbeknownst to me at the time of entry however was that the third act on the bill – Perth outfit Wolves – would make the evening all the more attractive.

Playing a heavy, yet extremely accessible, brand of alternative rock, the quintet distinguish themselves via electric violin player Rachael Aquilina. And while she undoubtedly adds a satisfying sense of melody to proceedings, it would be foolish to overlook her colleagues, all of whom were accomplished on the night. Frontman Adam Burford has an impressive vocal range which can move from a soft croon to a harsh scream in an instant, while Russell Winter’s guitar-work was sporadically impressive. In fact, if there is one area of improvement to be highlighted, it was that Winter too often looked hesitant to steal the limelight from Aquilina. When they worked in tandem, the results were fantastic… As can be heard on Wolves’ lead single ‘Children’:

Often, the major concern with support acts is that they are going to bore the hell out of the majority of the audience who are there to see the headliners. With Wolves having done exactly the opposite, Closure In Moscow were next to step up and keep the…

I must have seen her face before 
I fell in love when I was born
Now they hide her with a whisper 
It’s over

If I were to list out all the bands that I’ve ever seen live and list them in accordance to how many times I’ve dragged my ass down to some dive of a venue to see them, RX Bandits would proudly sit atop that list. Since my introduction to them back when they were just a politicized 3rd wave ska act through their growth into one of the most forward thinking acts in modern music I’ve had the honor to see them one shy of a dozen times – but it was the last two shows, two of their last three shows ever (and last in the vicinity of their southern California home) that proudly affirm how special they really are/were. Their sets at the Mayan Theater in the heart of downtown Los Angeles and two days later at the Glasshouse a half hour inland in Pomona made the previous 9 RX Bandits shows that I have attended seem reserved in comparison, which is no easy feat.

Part 1: August 4th, 2011 @ the Mayan Theater

Shows at the Mayan are always a mixed bag. On one hand the size of the venue and its stunning décor that looks ripped straight out of the intro scene of Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark add a remarkable ambiance…

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