Last night, I had the pleasure of interviewing 3/5 of the California alt-rock band Night Riots before their show at the recordBar. Upon arriving at the venue and meeting up with the band, I was taken downstairs to the oh-so-glamourous backstage area, complete with an old couch and graffiti covered cement walls. I sat down with guitarists Matt De Pauw and Nick Fotinakes, and bassist Mikel Van Kranenburg to chat about the band's beginnings, the release of their new EP Howl, and life on the road. Click the soundcloud links to hear the corresponding audio.
The band has been on the road for a few weeks now, and they've had some interesting experiences so far. They played Vegas recently, but wouldn't reveal what happened there because what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, of course. They did, however, have a unique experience here in Kansas City! Click the link below to find out how chicken wings and the news were involved. https://soundcloud.com/missmusic933/night-riots-interview-4
Two summers ago, I travelled with the Beautiful Bodies on the Vans Warped Tour and it was both a grueling and amazing experience. Night Riots will be on the entire Vans Warped Tour this summer, so we talked a little bit about what they've heard and what they're expecting on the tour. (Click link below) https://soundcloud.com/missmusic933/night-riots-interview-5
We wrapped up our chat discussing tactics for getting people to come see their show. They had some pretty interesting ideas involving frozen treats and undressing. Click the link below to hear more about these ideas and how they turned a Subway employee into a fan! https://soundcloud.com/missmusic933/night-riots-interview-6
Later that night, they gave an energetic and crowd-interactive performance in front of a large audience. Prior to the interview and the show, I had been hooked on their Howl EP, and after talking with them and seeing them perform last night, I can confidently say that they are the full package. If you missed the show last night, you'll be able to see them this summer on Warped Tour in Bonner Springs on July 30th at Cricket Wireless Amphitheater.
Howl (which I have been listening to on repeat lately... IT'S SO GOOD) is available on iTunes.
It seems appropriate that I start off this post with the disclaimer that prior to last night, the only Hozier song I knew was "Take Me to Church." When Mix asked me if I wanted to cover the show, I figured I'd see what the hype was all about. I went into the show with zero expectations, and ended up witnessing an incredible performance.
(Ásgeir Photo by: Emily Katz)
Twenty year old Icelandic singerÁsgeir (pronounced like to Oscar) opened the show with a short but sweet set. The soulful electronica artist filled the room with his powerful voice, but in between songs he had minimal interaction with the audience and spoke very quietly. It always blows my mind when singers have powerhouse voices with performances to match, yet have seemingly reserved and quiet dispositions otherwise. The first few songs he snag were in Icelandic, which sounded cool despite the fact that I had no idea what he was really singing about. Ásgeir and his backing band of two alternated instruments throughout the set, playing different kinds of guitars, a keyboard, and a synthesizer. The only part of his performance I didn't like was the fact that his voice is so soothing and his songs have generally slower rhythms, so combined with sitting in comfortable seats on the balcony, I almost fell asleep! I purchased his album In The Silence after the show, and I love it! It's also available on iTunes, and you can learn more about him at http://www.facebook.com/AsgeirMusic.
(Photo by: Emily Katz)
As I stated at the beginning of this post, the only Hozier song I knew prior to the show was "Take Me to Church." Although I really love that song, I was pleasantly surprised to hear that most of the soulful Irish indie rocker's songs don't have such a dark, heavy-ish rock sound. Two of my favorite songs that he performed last night are "Jackie and Wilson" and "Someone New," because they have undeniably catchy and flowing pop hooks. As you all know by now, I am a sucker for ridiculously catchy pop songs.
(Hozier Photo by: Emily Katz)
The show was sold out, and Liberty Hall is a very small theater, so the atmosphere was very intimate and the performance seemed more personal. There was a very detailed and energizing lighting design, which was a nice visual since Hozier didn't move around much while performing. He performed with a full band, including keyboards, a cello, drums, and back up singers. The production was extravagant, yet not over-the-top.
(Hozier Photo by: Emily Katz)
Hozier's deep, rich, and powerful voice sounded exactly the same live as it does recorded, which is uncommon but always refreshing. The crowd was diverse in age, and as the show went on, I realized why there was such an eclectic crowd: Some of his songs had a heavy rock sound, some blues, some country/folk, and some pop. His musicial catalog has something for all kinds of music lovers to enjoy.
After performing "Take Me to Church" at the end of the set, Hozier exited the stage only to return moments later to play a multiple-song encore. One of the songs included a cover of Beyonce's "One Thing," which was surprising but AWESOME. Honestly, there wasn't one song of his that I didn't enjoy. I made sure to buy his album after the show, and I can't wait to see him again and be able to sing along to all the songs!
I posted a short video I took last night of Hozier performing his song "Cherry Wine," and you can find it on Mix 93.3's Facebook page. His self-titled album is available on iTunes.
Folk music isn't my cup of tea, but I appreciate it because of my love of music in general, and how it brings people together. That said, I didn't know how I would feel prior to attending the Folk Alliance Conference Kick-Off Party last night at the Westin Hotel in Crown Center. For those of you who aren't familiar, FAC is a mini SXSW of sorts where folk musicians and industry professionals from all over the world come together to showcase their talent and network.
Last night's event kicked off the 5 day conference with not only folk acts, but performers of many different genres.
(Hembree Photo by: Emily Katz)
One band I made sure to catch last night was Kansas City indie/alt/rock band Hembree (http://www.facebook.com/HembreeMusic). I've been following their other musical projects over the years, and this new one might be my favorite. Though I was only able to catch a short part of their set, what I saw and heard did not disappoint. They played a stripped down acoustic set rather than their usual full band setup to appeal to the folk crowd, and their full band sound smoothly translated to acoustic. I am definitely looking forward to seeing them at Middle of the Map Fest in April! Check out their song "New Oasis" here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=unGUN8ziK4o.
(Gracie Schram Photo by: Emily Katz)
After watching Hembree for a bit, I headed across the hall to see another Kansas City artist and one of Mix 93.3's favorites, singer/songwriter Gracie Schram (http://www.facebook.com/gracieschram). If you missed her announcement yesterday morning on the Rocket & Teresa show, she is officially releasing her debut studio album I Am Me on 5.5.15! Last night, she performed a combination of familiar hits such as "Wallflower" and "We are the Change," as well as new songs that you will be able to hear on the new album. She has an awesome behind-the-music video where you can learn more about Gracie and the motives behind her music. Check it out out here: http://youtu.be/WtmIGVrPWLM
(Kawehi Photo by: Emily Katz)
Next up was Hawaiin native Kawehi (http://www.facebook.com/iamkawehi). Rather than performing with a full band, she takes tracks, breaks them apart, and records them into a loop machine. For example, she'll record a few seconds of her beatboxing and then a few seconds of her humming and put them together to create background music for her vocals. It was fascinating to watch the process of her creating beats and melodies and stringing them together. She has a very sweet voice (think Ingrid Michaelson meets Meiko), which sounded awesome on top of the loops. Check out a video of her using the loop machine to cover Michael Jackson's "The Way You Make Me Feel" here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=naG9wtIwf_8
(AY Musik Photo by Emily Katz)
Celebrating multiple genres of music kicking off a folk music event, I ended the night watching a performance by Kansas City hip hop artist AY Musik (http://www.facebook.com/aymusik). A few years ago, I saw him audition for X Factor in front of Britney Spears, Demi Lovato, and L.A. Reid who were all blown away and moved him on to the next round. Since then, I've heard a lot about AY and always see pictures of massive crowds gathering to watch him perform at the Country Club Plaza and on Massachusetts Street in Lawrence, so I was excited to finally witness a longer set of his. He had a later performance slot, so I was pretty tired going into the show. As soon as he took the stage, I was wide awake. AY interacted with the crowd and performed as if he was playing in front of a sold out crowd at an arena. His passion and energy was undeniable, and the crowd people young and old fed off of his energy and joined in dancing. Check out the video for his single/Kansas City tribute "Say Hey," here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cv-cIgKfdms.
(Jukebox the Ghost, Secret Someones, Little Daylight performing "Walk Like Egyptian"; photo by Emily Katz)
Last night was filled with hours of infectious pop tunes from Secret Someones, Little Daylight, and a long time favorite of mine/veteran to this blog, Jukebox the Ghost. To be honest, I almost didn't write about the show because I've written about them so many times; however, Rocket reassured me that I can never write too much about good music. He's a fan, I'm a (super) fan, and I hope by now you are as well. If not, maybe today's the day you'll read me praise their insanely catchy tunes, give them a listen, and join me in my Jukebox the Ghost Super-Fandom.
Secret Someones (http://www.facebook.com/SecretSomeones) opened the show at the Granada Theater in Lawrence. They reminded me of a nineties alternative/pop girl (plus one guy) group. Their sound isn't familiar to this decade's female vocals. They all play instruments and their voices harmonize flawlessly. I purchased an EP after their set and listened to it today, and I thought they sounded better live than they do recorded. That is pretty uncommon, but I highly recommend giving their recorded music a listen nonetheless. Their debut EP I Won't Follow is available on iTunes. Check out the video for their song "I Won't Follow" here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6eh2LFiGwAU.
Indie/pop trio Little Daylight took the stage next. I'll have to admit, they had to grow on me. About halfway through their set, they won me over as their songs grew catchier and catchier. This is another female fronted band, whose sweet yet powerful voice hit every note perfectly. Check them out at http://www.facebook.com/littledaylightsounds.
Then, pop music's best kept secret Jukebox the Ghost (http://www.facebook.com/JukeboxTheGhost) wooed the audience with an hour and a half of pure pop bliss. The band played several songs off of their newly released self-titled album, including some of my personal favorites "Postcard,""Made for Ending," and "The Great Unknown." Older hits such as "Hold It In" and "Somebody" were included in the set list as well. During another older tune, "Schizophrenia," the band set a stuffed toy dog that travels with them on a crowdsurfing adventure. Had I not been too busy dancing, singing, and laughing at the sight of a stuffed animal being thrown around the room, I would have captured the hilarious event on video. You'll just have to see it for yourself next time they're in town! Also, if you're ever in the crowd at one of their shows, be sure to yell at Ben to do the egg thing. Don't ask, just trust me. They ended the night with a collaborative performance of "Walk Like Egyptian" with Secret Someones and Little Daylight. You can listen to a recorded version of the song which was done by Jukebox the Ghost and Secret Someones here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ypUd-iz0Lw, and watch the video for JTG's "The Great Unknown" here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mr9zSYAbWSw.
I'll be checking in from SXSW in Austin next month where Jukebox the Ghost will be performing, so this probably won't be the last time you hear about them from me. Now that I've hopefully convinced you to check out this awesome band if you haven't already... what do you think?! Leave a comment and let me know!
Yesterday while browsing social media, I saw a lot of mixed views regarding the Grammys. Some people couldn't wait to watch the awards, while others were couldn't be more anti-Grammys. Prior to watching last night's show, I was right in the middle. The Grammys aren't sucking the soul out of the music industry, nor are they even close to fairly representing musical talent. That said, I will ALWAYS watch the Grammys. Attending the show is on my bucket list. I love and appreciate all kinds of music. If there are any staunch Grammy haters reading this, please just hear me out.
Last night, the Grammys took on a more serious vibe than past shows. While music certainly was celebrated, the important issue of sexual and domestic violence was brought to the surface with awareness speeches from President Obama and domestic abuse survivor Brooke Axtell. For an awards show that has been shamed for lacking any seriousness, this was an important step in differentiating from other music awards shows. There is still much work to be done for the awards show to change its image from being just another awards show based on popularity.
Seeing collaborations between legendary and up-and-coming artists (Hozier and Annie Lennox, Tony Bennet and Lady Gaga, Usher and Stevie Wonder, Rihanna, Kanye and Paul McCartney, and Sam Smith and Mary J. Blige) amped the credibility of the awards show by combining the talents of artists from across the time and genre spectrum.
Furthermore, Beck's "Morning Phase" winning Album of the Year and Best Rock Album, two MAJOR categories (not undermining the others, but the televised categories tend to get the most attention) was another slap in the face, more or less, to Grammy naysayers. I am not defending the fairness or legitimacy of ALL nominees, but this goes to show it's not all about the Top 40 over-hyped pop stars. Baby steps.
Moving on from trying to reason with Grammy haters...
Two words: SAM SMITH. What a night for the British pop star! I'm a huge fan of his, and to see his genuine appreciation for his big wins was heart-warming. His rich ballad-producing vocals are truly a breath of fresh air to pop music (especially Top 40!). There is no one on the popular music scene like him, and it's always great to see uniqueness like his celebrated in a world where a lot of popular music sounds disturbingly similar.
My favorite performance of the night was Sia performing her hit "Chandeler" (with extremely surprising guest Kristen Wig!). Her voice is insane recorded AND live. I had no idea what was going on with the performance, yet I couldn't stop watching and at least trying to figure it all out. The first time I saw her perform with the dancers, I admit I thought she was trying too hard to be super artsy and mysterious. Now I've learned to appreciate it for what it is. She's unique, and so incredibly talented.
All of that being said, I'm about to contradict myself. I was bored out of my mind during the majority of the show. Perhaps I'm used to being kept on my feet awaiting "surprise" publicity stunts during other popular awards shows (i.e. the VMAs, or even past Grammy shows). To me, however, the tranquility of this year's show proved that the Grammys are taking responsibility for and beginning to redeem themselves to be taken as a SERIOUS celebration of music. They just need to find the right balance. Like I said earlier... BABY STEPS.
First things first: the best album of 2014 goes to Taylor Swift for the release of 1989. The fact that I haven’t taken the disc out of my car’s CD player since it was released a few months ago says a lot, considering I usually like to switch up what I listen to in the car frequently. In all seriousness, though, Swift proved herself a musical genius this year. 1989 is pure pop perfection. It’s hard to predict her next single, as literally every single track has hit potential. I’ve always been a T. Swift fan, but this was the first album of hers I purchased in its entirety. I am now a proud Swift fanatic, and I cannot wait to see her with Vance Joy at the Sprint Center in September!
Contrary to popular belief, though, 2014 wasn’t all about Taylor Swift. There was an impressive amount of new releases this year, especially in the realm of pop music.
Appropriately titled, Phantom Pop, the debut album from Wild Party (http://www.facebook.com/wildpartyofficial) was hands down one of my favorite albums of the year. You can scroll a couple posts back to read more about this band of infectious pop melody creating musicians. Recommended tracks for first time listeners: “When I Get Older,” “Chasin’ Honey,” “Outright,” and “Nicely Done.”
My third favorite album released this year was About Last Night from Sleeper/Agent (http://www.facebook.com/SleeperAgentMusic). Rich female vocals and flowing pop melodies made me want to listen to every track over and over again. Recommended tracks for first time listeners: “Waves,” “Be Brave,” and “Me On You.”
Bleachers (http://www.facebook.com/bleachersmusic) released their debut album Strange Desire this year after performing their first shows as an ensemble at the invigorating and inspiring festival that is SXSW. I was fortunate enough to see them live several times this year, including their latest show at the Midland last week. It was incredible to witness their transformation as a live act over the last year.
Dashboard Confessional’s Chris Carrabba formed a new band called Twin Forks (http://www.facebook.com/TwinForksMusic), and they released their debut self-titled pop/folk album this year. I was never a huge Dashboard fan, but luckily for me, Twin Forks has an entirely different sound. The album is full of light-hearted sounding love ballads with deeper lyrics. Recommended tracks for first time listeners: “Kiss Me Darling,” “Cross My Mind,” and “Can’t Be Broken.” They’ll be performing at the Granada in Lawrence on February 9th with my frequent blog subjects slash pop music’s best kept secret Jukebox the Ghost. That is definitely a show you will not want to miss!
Back in June while selling merch for them at Boulevardia, I heard Catfish & the Bottlemen (http://www.facebook.com/catfishandthebottlemen), a UK based band, and instantly fell in love. They’re the type of band whose looks do not match their sound, but it works! I was blown away by the deep raspy voice coming from lead singer Van McCann. The early twenty-something musicians put on an unforgettably energetic rock show, and they’ll be releasing their album Pacifier in North America on January 6th!
Now, let’s talk about Meghan Trainor for a minute. She released her debut single “All About That Bass” earlier this year, and played her first show EVER at Mix’s Red White & Boom at Starlight Theater. I’ll never forget her walking backstage at Boom, in shock that people had lined up just to meet her. She was so humble and as sweet as can be, and the Mix staff continuously reminded her throughout the day that this was only the beginning. Big things were heading her way. Now look at her! In a matter of just a few months, she’s released her second single “Lips Are Movin,” has had countless television appearances, and was among other big time names as American Music Award AND Grammy nominees! Her debut album, cleverly titled Title, will be released on January 13th.
A vacation for Miss Music obviously wouldn't be complete without a concert. In fact, the driving factor of taking a trip to New York City was a talent show fundraiser produced by the Ally Coalition, an organization that advocates for equality among the LGBTQ community. The Ally Coalition partnered with New Alternatives, an organization that helps LGBTQ homeless youth in New York. All proceeds from the show went to New Alternatives. You can learn more about these wonderful organizations at http://www.theallycoalition.org and http://www.newalternativesnyc.org.
The talent show included a variety of musical, comedic, and poetic acts, as seen in the picture above. The talent show took place in a theater with a capacity of no more than a couple hundred people, and all sets were acoustic. Each act performed 2-3 songs or a 10 minute skit. As you can probably imagine, it was very much a unique and intimate experience.
Lucius, a Los Angeles based alternative indie band, was not on the bill, but was a welcomed surprise. Lucius consists of two female vocalists who dress identically and perform facing each other while sharing a microphone. They harmonized flawlessly and noticeably fed off of one another's energy. That, along with their attire (head to toe in red and matching hair styled in short buns) had the audience focused and intrigued throughout their brief set.
Even though I enjoyed literally every single act at the show, Lake Street Dive was easily one of my favorites. I had never heard of them prior to the show, but I was blown away. They are a blues/pop band from Brooklyn, and vocalist Rachael Price has an absolutely incredible, ICONIC voice. There is no one else out there (that I've heard, at least) who has her rich, unique tone. She has the potential to be the next Mariah Carey or Christina Aguilera in regards to having a notable voice. I have yet to hear a Lake Street Dive song I dislike, but so far my favorite is "You Go Down Smooth." Listen to it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mNFRRfVBWjg. I shared this song with Rocket, and he immediately went and bought all of their music. Listen for yourself and I guarantee you will be hooked!
Other musical acts that performed include Guster, and three of my all time favorite musicians: Andrew McMahon (In the Wilderness), Jack Antonoff (Bleachers/fun.), and Ingrid Michaelson, who have all been featured on my blog several times. Photography of any kind was prohibited, hence the lack of live pictures/videos.
**FUN FACT! The Ally Coalition was founded by Bleachers/Fun.'s Jack Antonoff along with his sister, designer Rachel Antonoff.
Every single year for the past 5 years or so, I've found myself listening to Steel Train more than I do any other time of the year. Why? I'm not entirely sure. I went to a Steel Train show around this time of year several years ago, so perhaps I have a subconscious association between the band and Fall. Fun fact: Steel Train is Bleachers frontman/Fun. guitarist Jack Antonoff's band from the early 2000's. They never officially broke up, but it's safe to say with the success of Fun. and Bleachers that Steel Train probably won't be making a comeback anytime soon (I'm still trying to get over it... *sigh*). Needless to say, though, the day I found out Jack was going behind the mic again with Bleachers was a wonderful day. Check out Antonoff in action (with an awesome afro) six years ago in the video for their song "I Feel Weird." http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=COJ5dlhO9Mk
On a semi-related note, I haven't taken Taylor Swift's new album 1989 out of my car's CD player since it was released. If you're unaware of the correlation between Taylor Swift and Steel Train, Jack Antonoff partnered with Swift on several songs on the album. Listen to some Steel Train songs, then listen to "Out of the Woods" and Antonoff's major influence on that song becomes obvious. Really, there isn't a bad song on 1989. I've always been a Taylor Swift fan, but the obsession never caught on until I heard this album. I am now a proud T. Swift fanatic! Although I enjoy every single song on the album, my favorite has to be "All You Had to Was Stay." That is my life story. Every time I listen, I think, "Okay Taylor... please get out of my brain. This is a little creepy." The consistent relatability of her songs and her active effort to connect with her fans will assure this Taylor Swift craze won't die out anytime soon.
Another album I can't get enough of is Phantom Pop, the newest release from Wild Party. The album is the perfect pick-me-up to get out of the cold weather blues. Every single song is a catchy, anthemic pop HIT! This band, who have toured with pop greats Andrew McMahon and Lights, is going to be HUGE! It is impossible to listen to this album without getting every song stuck in your head... and that's a good thing. I promise. Listen for yourself! Check out the video for their song "When I Get Older." http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5So6amgJ0so
It was a cold, rainy Monday in Kansas City, and the Royals game had been cancelled. Singer/songwriter Ingrid Michaelson came to the rescue and brought some light to the city with her wit, sarcasm, sass, and most importantly, her mesmerizing voice.
(Ingrid Michaelson in Mix 93.3's Studio B)
Prior to her performance at the Uptown Theater last night, Ingrid performed in Studio B for some lucky Mix listeners. Her acoustic set consisted of the oldie but goodie, "The Way I Am," curren hit "Girls Chase Boys," and her new single "Afterlife." In between songs, she answered questions from fans, mentioning how she dreams of touring with Coldplay, and she joked about how her many jock fans would be able to attend her show that night since the Royals game was rained out. She then posed for pictures with fans, and was incredibly sweet and down-to-earth.
That night, she brought her stripped-down acoustic set to the Uptown Theater, with Kansas City's own Gracie Schram and Nashville duo Neulore opening. By now I'm sure you're familiar with 16-year old Gracie since we rave about her constantly at Mix! Though she played only three songs, her performance was flawless. She wooed the audience with "Yellow Shoes" and "Wallflower" off of her new EP, as well as her inspirational hit "We are the Change." Noting Michaelson as her favorite artist of all time, opening for her was a dream come true!
Next up was Neulore, a Lumineers-esque indie duo from Nashville. While I was underwhelmed by their music, I admired the passion and energy they maintained throughout their entire performance. Their charm and wit also compensated for my indifference towards their music. Lead vocalist Adam Agin related his drinking red wine out of a Dixie cup on stage to the high probability of a good night. He certainly was not wrong!
After their roughly hour-long set, the brilliant Ingrid Michaelson took the stage. With a guitar, piano, ukelele, and two backup vocalists/guitarists, she played acoustic arrangements of new and old songs. Her voice translates impeccably live, with a tone so enchanting and pure. Combining emotional storytelling with her unbelievable vocal range (seriously, she can hit ANY note perfectly), Ingrid left the crowd in awe.
Not only is she an amazing singer and songwriter, she's also quite the comedian. Her bluntness and sarcasm along with her overall quirky personality had the audience laughing all night. One minute, she'd have everyone cracking up, then the second she hit the first note of the next song, the crowd fell silent as they watched and listened in awe. As the show came to an end, Ingrid invited Gracie and Neulore on stage to join her in singing "Afterlife." It was awesome to see local share the stage with her!
Intriguingly and without effort, Ingrid took her fans on an emotional rollercoaster last night, but in the most amazing way.
Thursday night, I ventured to the Bottleneck in Lawrence to check out a long time favorite band of mine, Ghost Beach. I first heard this band back in 2008 when they performed under the name TV/TV and played anthemic pop rock songs. A few years ago, they slightly alterted their lineup and created the current pop/electronic group Ghost Beach. They played to a sold out crowd and had them dancing non-stop with their high energy, insanely catchy hooks, and vibrant lighting. Check out the video for their hit "Miracle," below or by clicking here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=73xPEEF92JY
Their music, which includes their debut album Blonde, is available on iTunes and Spotify.
The next morning, I caught an intimate performance with Swedish popstar Tove Lo in Mix's Studio B! A few months ago while at the station, Ponch had me listen to "Habits (Stay High)," and I then proceeded to listen to it on repeat for several days. Needless to say, I was stoked to hear it on the radio shortly after, and I must say... she sounds better live than recorded! When she first arrived in the studio, she chatted with the audience about her background, which involved attending a high school for musicians and performing with musicians in Stockholm. After chatting with the crowd, she performed her next single "Talking Body," and of course her hit "Habits (Stay High)." The performance was short and sweet, but Tove Lo and her raw, powerful voice definitely left a lasting impression. The girl can SING! She was also super sweet and stuck around afterward to talk to and take pictures with fans. I can't wait to pick up a copy of her debut album Queen of the Clouds, which comes out September 30th!
This summer, especially the last two weeks, has been full of so many awesome shows! Instead of creating a separate post for each show, I've compiled some mini-reviews and put it one post. Check it out! If you went to any of these shows, comment and let me know what you thought.
*All photos are my own.
Justin Timberlake at the Sprint Center 7/30
EVERYONE loves Justin Timberlake (proof later on…). For two hours, Timberlake wooed the all-aged audience with his timeless dance moves and incomparable and flawless voice. As someone who grew up listening to N*SYNC (though I was more of a Backstreet Boys girl…), and still genuinely enjoys Justin’s solo music, I couldn’t help but have a huge, cheesy grin on my face throughout the entire show. Using long, catwalk platforms that hung slightly above the audience throughout the arena, he was able to get up close and personal and connect with fans. My only disappointment? Not even a little bit of an N*SYNC song was incorporated into the set. Even though I didn’t expect any N*SYNC references in the show, my inner pre-teen was slightly heartbroken. Guess I’ll have to keep holding out for a reunion!
Vans Warped Tour at Cricket Wireless Amphitheater 7/31
Proof that EVERYONE loves Justin Timberlake: the next day, I wore my JT concert t-shirt to Warped Tour, and NO ONE SAID ANYTHING OR GAVE ME RUDE LOOKS. That right there proves his universal appeal. While proudly flaunting my JT shirt, I spent the day navigating through crowds and mosh pits to watch bands. Some of those bands included The Summer Set, The Story So Far, Less Than Jake, Yellowcard, Beebs & Her Money Makers, Me Like Bees, The Ready Set, and The Maine. Hands down, Yellowcard, Beebs & Her Money Makers, and Me Like Bees were my favorites. Yellowcard (pictured left) pumped up the crowd with hits like “Only One” and “Ocean Avenue,” as well as some new high-energy pop/rock songs. It was so cool to see a band that hasn’t had a big radio hit in a long time still draw a huge crowd. I’ve mentioned Beebs & Her Money Makers (pictured right) many times in my blog, because they’re not only wonderful, genuine people, but one of the hardest working bands out there right now. Their Warped Tour performance was, as always, full of energy, fun, and positivity. They also let me dress up as a hot dog and dance on stage with them during their song “Crazy,” so that was kind of awesome. I made a fool of myself, but had the best time doing so! Kansas City alternative/indie/rock band Me Like Bees performed their last set of their two week run on the tour, and did not disappoint. It was great to see the support from the large crowd that showed up to watch. Make sure you catch them at a show around KC sometime!
Red, White, & Boom at Starlight Theatre 8/9
Chances are you’ve heard all about or were at Red, White, & Boom last weekend, so I’ll keep this one extra short. It was a great day with a fantastic lineup of music, but Meghan Trainor and New Politics stole the show for me! This was Meghan’s first show EVER, but you would have never guessed by watching her perform. With two backup dancers, she charmed the crowd with her unique voice and style. She immediately won over the Mix 93.3 staff upon her arrival that day by being so incredibly sweet and down-to-earth. She has a great career ahead of her! New Politics rocked the crowd with their wild energy and insanely catchy hooks. They surprised the audience with a cover of Justin Timberlake’s “My Love,” which they nailed. I always love when rock bands cover pop songs.
OK Go at the Riot Room 8/12
Damian and I got photo bombed by Tim and manager Andy
If seeing OK Go live isn’t on your bucket list, ADD IT NOW. Tuesday night was one I will never forget. This mini review won’t even begin to do it justice. OK Go are most well-known for their hit “Here It Goes Again” and its viral music video in which they dance on treadmills. In my opinion, though, they need to become more known for their innovative, creative, and just plain AMAZING live performances. The show at the Riot Room unsurprisingly sold out, but the band interacted with the audience in a way that made it feel like they were playing for a room of their closest friends. Rather than describe the show as a whole, I’ll list a few of my favorite moments from the show:
Confetti cannons that were going off pretty much constantly throughout the show. I’m not exaggerating when I say I could not see the floor by the end of the night.
In between songs, the band answered questions from the audience.
At one point, while guitar strings were being replaced, singer Damian Kulash and bassist/vocalist Tim Nordwind over-dramatically reenacted a scene from Les Miserables.
They recorded the audience making various sounds (i.e. stomping, clapping, etc.), put them into loops, and used them as the backing track during their song “There’s a Fire.”
Damian took his acoustic guitar in the middle of the crowd to play a song, as he put it, “campfire style.”
Next time they’re in town (rumor has it that will be in the Spring), make sure you buy a ticket early! I PROMISE you will not be disappointed. They are, without a doubt, one of my top five favorite live acts.
The Vans Warped Tour will be making its annual stop in Bonner Springs in ONE WEEK (7/31) at Cricket Wireless Ampitheatre! Last summer, I was fortunate enough to go on the tour for a few weeks with Kansas City band Beautiful Bodies, and blogged about it along the way! If you're not familiar with Warped Tour, check out some of my old posts (http://www.mix93.com/pages/16395249.php?)!
Here are some bands I'm looking forward to seeing next Thursday:
For those who associate Warped Tour with a bunch of hardcore/screamo/ear-bleeding music, you have been terribly misled. While there are plenty of those bands on the tour, Florida ska band Beebs and Her Money Makers offer a breath of fresh air with their ridiculously catchy, upbeat, and soulful tunes. Not to mention they wear awesome stage outfits and have a dancing hotdog during their set. It's a guaranteed fun time. Be sure to check them out on the Journey's stage!
This Australian punk rock band (honestly, need I say more?) was on the tour last summer as well, which is where I was first introduced to them. Seeing their passionate, energetic performance is an experience you don't want to miss. They also travel with an inflatable kangaroo that hangs out at their merch tent... which is kind of awesome.
These guys (and gal) performed at the Riot Room a few months ago, so if you missed them then, be sure to check them out at Warped Tour! Since I have another post dedicated entirely to them from their last show, I'll keep this short. This band is going to be huge. You will be dancing throughout their entire set, and you WILL get their timeless tunes stuck in your head. Don't miss out!
For nearly the last decade, I've been listening to Nick Santino's music, whether it be from his old band A Rocket to the Moon, or his solo work. The first time I saw him live was at the Beaumont Club several years ago as the frontman of A Rocket to the Moon. He immediately won me over with his charming, catchy pop hooks. A few years later, the band returned to the Beaumont Club, but their new music took a turn toward borderline country, and I was not a fan. Now, Nick Santino has gone completely solo, and his new music has more of an old A Rocket to the Moon sound, which I love! This will be my first time seeing him without a backing band, and I'm looking forward to hearing more of his new material.
KC REPRESENT! Last year, Beautiful Bodies won the Ernie Ball Battle of the Bands (out of 20,000 bands), and earned their spot on Warped Tour. This year, ANOTHER Kansas City Band, alternative indie rockers Me Like Bees, won the contest and will be out on the tour for a couple weeks. Kansas City breeds some incredible musical talent. Considering I've yet to catch one of their shows around town, I am definitely looking forward to seeing these guys at Warped Tour! SUPPORT LOCAL MUSIC!
Other bands whose sets I hope to catch are Bowling For Soup (comedic/musical perfection!), The Maine, and Yellowcard (because who doesn't want to sing along at the top of their lungs to Ocean Avenue?).
Are you going to Warped Tour next week?! Which bands do you think I should check out?!
Last Friday, I had the opportunity to see a long time favorite band of mine, Neon Trees, in Mix 93's Studio B and at KC Live! Block.
I've seen them live a few times, but never in an intimate setting like Studio B. The band, known for their hits "Animal," "Everybody Talks," and "Sleeping with a Friend," performed stripped down, acoustic versions of a few of their hits. I was impressed how they successfully turned their high energy power pop songs into slow ballads, completely changing the feel of the songs. In between songs, the band interacted with the audience, answering questions and telling stories. They were witty, sarcastic, and totally willing to open up to everyone as if they had known them forever.
(Neon Trees in Mix 93.3's Studio B. Photo by: Emily Katz)
That night, they performed at KC Live! Block for an audience of several thousand people. Opening for them was pop/rock band Nightmare and the Cat. I was underwhelmed... I've seen much worse and much better acts.
(Nightmare and the Cat. Photo by: Emily Katz)
Up next was an hour and a half of pure energetic, pop bliss, bright colored flashing lights, and constant dancing. Trees singer Tyler Glenn has a truly raw and unique voice that flawlessly translated to his live performance. It's rare for a singer to sound as good as or better than their recordings, but Glenn pulled it off.
(Neon Trees. Photo by: Emily Katz)
One major difference in their performance from the other times I've seen them, was Tyler's confidence on stage. At one point during the night, he acknowledged that he is happier than he has ever been since he learned to accept himself as a gay man. His acknowledgment was met with cheers of support from the audience, in which I gladly participated. His new found happiness and self acceptance radiated from him in his performance! Not that his performance seemed fake the other times I've seen him, but this time his energy was effortless. He was clearly himself and did not have to try to prove himself.
(Neon Trees. Photos by: Emily Katz)
In the pictures above, Tyler is standing in front of a giant, lit up inflatable brain. I was understandingly confused and intrigued when it was first set up, but then, to my surprise, the band covered the Pixies' "Where Is My Mind?" It's risky for any band, especially a power pop band, to cover this song, but they did not disappoint. It was refreshing to hear a different version of the song.
The band closed their set with their hit "Everybody Talks," and the audience left the show visibly (and hopefully audibly) pleased. The only disappointment I had was that they didn't play my all time favorite song of theirs, "1983," off of their first album. It's the catchiest song in the world! Oh well... maybe next time!
If you missed them this time around, make sure you catch them next time they're in town!
Were you at their show in Studio B or KC Live! Block? I want to hear your thoughts! Leave a comment below!
There are countless songs about the good, bad, and ugly aspects of relationships. After all, the pursuit of love is a commonality of life. Everyone can relate to songs about romance in some way. Singer/songwriter Ingrid Michaelson has proven time and again her ability to connect emotion with music, and this time is no different in regards to her newest album, Lights Out. Each track on the album tells a story about relationships in an unexpecting, compelling, and vulnerable way that is unheard of in most love songs.
Not only does she do an exceptional job of storytelling through her lyrics, but she takes several instrumental risks on this album. Strings, heavy bass and guitar, accordians, trumpets, pianos, and synthesizers are among the wide variety of instruments incorporated. There are hints of jazz, pop, country, and rock in this album-- an eclectic but refreshing combination.
The opening track, "Home," signifies the feelings of comfort, trust, and safety in a relationship. This is a noteworthy opening track, as the rest of the album explores the themes of establishing that comfort, second guessing it, destroying it, and longing for it once it's gone.
Following "Home" is the hit single, "Girls Chase Boys." The song describes the frustrating and annoying cycle of girls chasing boys who chase girls who chase boys who chase... well... you get the idea. Throughout the cycle, though, despite the hurt and frustration, life goes on, as Michaelson suggests with the lyrics "All the broken hearts in the world still beat, let's not make it harder than it has to be," and "I've got two hands, one beating heart, and I'll be alright."
Other tracks like "You Got Me (ft. Storyman)" and "Wonderful Unknown (ft. Greg Laswell)" describe the pure bliss, excitement, and uncertainty that comes with a new relationship. On the opposite end of the spectrum, tracks like "Time Machine" and "Over You (ft. A Great Big World)" tell the story of love's heartaches and regrets. Balancing the good and the bad aspects of love are triumphant, powerful tracks like "Afterlife" and "One Night Town (ft. Mat Kearney)."
As mentioned above, the album features several male vocalists on different tracks, which adds to the overall eclecticness of the album. Familiar guest vocalists include Mat Kearney ("Nothing Left to Lose," 2006) on the track "One Night Town," and A Great Big World ("Say Something" ft. Christina Aguilera, 2013) on the track "Over You." Other artists include Storyman, Trent Dabbs, and Greg Laswell.
You can see Ingrid Michaelson LIVE at the Crossroads August 8th. Opening for her is Kansas City's own Gracie Schram, as heard on the Rocket and Teresa show! Tickets on sale at http://www.Mix93.com.
Last Friday, I joined some lucky Mix listerners in Studio B for a special acoustic performance from Red, White, & Boom artist Timeflies.
Vocalist Cal and producer Rez make up the unique pop/rap/electro duo from New York City. They charmed the audience with their witty personalities and impressive knowledge of Kansas City. Their incorporation of a "Space Jam" cover and a freestyle rap about Kansas City into their song "Swoon" is what ultimately won me over. Before the performance, the audience wrote down Kansas City related topics (i.e. Chiefs,Tech N9ne, the Plaza, etc.) and put them in a hat. During the freestyle portion of "Swoon," Cal randomly drew topics from the hat and turned them into lyrics to the rap.
Timeflies in Mix 93.3's Studio B (Photo credit: Emily Katz)
After hearing them acoustically, I definitely prefer it to their recorded/electronic sound. They just released their new album After Hours, which features their single "All the Way." The album is available on iTunes. Be sure to check them out at Red, White, & Boom August 9th at Starlight Theater. Tickets and more information available at http://www.mix93.com.
That night, I went to Starlight Theater to see comedian Chelsea Handler (host of the show "Chelsea Lately"). Although she's not a musical artist (to my knowledge at least), I had to include her in this post. She performed stand-up in support of her new book, Uganda Be Kidding Me, and she had me crying from laughing so hard. When she took the stage, she began by talking about how much she loves Kansas City, and that she received a jersey from the Royals... as requested by the Mix 93.3 crew! If you enjoy blunt, sarcastic, raunchy humor, check out Chelsea Handler's material. Not recommended for younger audiences.
The first time I heard SLEEPER/AGENT, I was an instant fan. Last night, I saw them perform an intimate set at the Riot Room, and they did not disappoint.
The six piece indie-pop band from Kentucky has both a male and female vocalist. Not only do their voices complement one another perfectly, but those two have an unreal chemistry between them. Who knows? Maybe they're in a romantic relationship outside of the band, and that chemistry translates on stage, but they certainly fed off of each other's energy moreso than the rest of the band.
The show was for ages 21+, but the audience was extremely diverse in age. People ranged in age from early twenties to late fifties. One of my favorite things about going to shows is seeing music bring people of all ages and all walks of life together.
Contributing to the diverse age range of the audience is the fact that each SLEEPER/AGENT song sounds completely different. They range from soft, mellow pop ballads to head-banging rock anthems. Needless to say, I was never bored during their set.
From the first time I heard them, to even now as I write this, I've tried to compare them to other bands, but they have a truly unique sound. Initially, I was frustrated that I couldn't think of any similar artists, but then I realized that's a good thing! It's just so uncommon nowadays.
This past weekend, I atteneded the music portion of Ink's 4th annual Middle of the Map Fest in Westport. This was the first year I was able to attend all three days, and I had a great time checking out music from local, national, and international acts! Here were some of my favorites:
Night Terrors of 1927: This was the first time I had heard this Los Angeles based indie pop band, and I was definitely impressed. While I was stuck in the back of the venue and unable to see the actual performance (short people problems!), I loved what I heard. With so many indie pop acts on the rise, I've found it rare for me to be truly blown away when I hear a new band. The singer's rich, soulful voice, and smoothe, catchy melodies hooked me. This is the perfect chill out and unwind music. While they don't have a song I don't love, "Young and Vicious," is my favorite. Their newest EP Guilty Pleas is available on iTunes.
The Colourist: Out of all the bands on the line up, I was by far the most excited to see these guys (and gal). This pop/rock band from Orange County put on a fun and quirky performance. In between their high energy songs, they were very personable with the audience, telling cheesy jokes (i.e. Why was the cat afraid of the tree? Because of it's bark ). The female and male vocals complemented one another perfectly, and they had me on my feet and dancing the entire time. Their self-titled debut album is available on iTunes. For first time listeners, I recommend checking out "Little Games" and "We Won't Go Home."
Victor and Penny: Prior to the festival, I had heard of this Kansas City duo on several occasions, but I had never listened to them. They were certainly not what I expected. Cheery ukelele pop meets 1950's rock and roll is one way to describe their music, and they had the charming outfits and stage presence to match it. Though I can't say I'll be blasting their album on repeat, I would definitely like to see them perform again. They're a unique, laid-back breath of fresh air.
Kate Nash: If I could describe Kate Nash in one word, it would be BRILLIANT. The London pop/rocker and her all-girl band entertained the crowd with synchronized dance moves and relatable, girl power-esque lyrics. Also, unlike the picture above, Nash sported amazing hot pink hair (obviously important to mention!). She Her music reminds me of that of Lily Allen... but better. She has multiple albums available on iTunes, and I recommend "Foundations" and "Merry Happy" to first time listeners.
Crash Kings: Having been a fan of Crash Kings for several years, I was ecstatic to finally see them perform live! The Boston based piano rock band did not disappoint. One of the many unique aspects of this band is that they lack a guitarist. Drums, piano, and bass are the only instruments are the only instrument the band performs with. That combined with the crystal clear, higher pitched voice of the lead singer give them a sound that stands out from other indie/pop/rock bands. They too have multiple albums available on iTunes, and I recommend "Mountain Man," "1985," and "Raincoat" to first time listeners.
Throughout the days leading up to the Lorde concert, I was definitely excited. Little did I know, however, I was about to witness one of the best, most unique live performances I have ever seen.
Last night, the teenaged pop sensation performed songs off her debut album Pure Heroine in front of a sold out crowd at the Midland. One of the first things I noticed when I got there was that even though Lorde is so young (only 17 years old!), her fans are of all ages... young and old! That is extremely rare at any teen popstar concert, but it shows how versatile she is as an artist.
For roughly an hour, Lorde mesmerized the audience with her performance. She gave off the vibes as though she was performing alone, and the audience did not exist. She exuded passion and energy as she danced across the stage, though the way she moved wasn't what one would typically consider dancing. She was a free spirit, in the zone, letting the music guide her movements. Between songs, she told stories relating her music to the audience, and she frequently expressed her gratitude toward her fans. While she appeared to be in her own world while performing, she was able to create a connection with the audience in between songs.
After the show, I had the honor of meeting Lorde. I was blown away by her humbleness. While I can't speak for the rest of the group in attendance, she definitely made me feel like I had known her forever. She was so welcoming and friendly, despite the fact that she had to have been extremely exhausted after her show. As a group, we chatted about the show and music in general. When Rocket mentioned her tweet about the Westboro Baptist Church (she had suggested people kiss members of the same sex in front of the picketers outside the venue), she said her mom made her delete it in fear of starting a riot! I thought that was pretty funny. Our meeting was short, but she was very down-to-earth and so incredibly sweet!
If you missed the show, be sure to catch her next time she's in town! She's the complete package: an incredible vocalist, performer, and human.
Last week, I was fortunate enough to cross an item off my bucket list: attend South By South West (SXSW) in Austin, Texas.
For those who may be unfamiliar with the event, SXSW is a music/film/interactive festival that runs a little over a week long. Througout the week, up-and-coming talent showcase in front of industry executives and fans alike. I attended the music portion of the festival.
Artists played in various venues all over downtown Austin. All of the venues were in walking distance from each other, which made it extremely convenient and easy to see multiple acts!
Of the countless number of acts I saw, here are some that I highly recommend checking out:
Cousin Marnie- Hailing from London, Cousin Marnie (Julie Ann Hartigan) won me over with her dark, mysterious, yet captivating renditions of songs from the 1930s (i.e. Flatt and Scruggs "You've Been Fooling Me Baby"). She brought a modern sound to older songs by giving them an electronic/indie sound. She released her debut EP (consisting entirely of reworked '30s songs) in the UK last year, but will be releasing self-written material next. You can listen to Cousin Marnie here: https://www.facebook.com/CousinMarnie/app_208195102528120
Longfellow- Like Cousin Marnie, Longfellow are another act from the UK, who were by far one of my favorite bands I saw at SXSW. Their sound reminds me of The Script-meets-OneRepublic, but the vocalist has a uniquely deep, rich voice that gives their music such a distinct sound. Not only did they sound great, but their stage presence was refreshingly real. They had obviously practiced, but it didn't look too rehearsed. As cliche and cheesy as it may sound, they let the music move them. Here's a video of them performing 'Medic' at SXSW: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0emQva6LDYk#t=23 (Be sure to listen to "Siamese Lover" as well... my favorite!).
(Longfellow: Photo by Emily Katz)
Bleachers- You may have seen my post about them on the Mix 93.3 Facebook page, but for those who didn't, Bleachers is Jack Antonoff (of Fun.)'s new project. He sings, and his voice is one of my favorites. As a longtime fan of Antonoff (Steel Train, Fun.), I was thrilled when he announced this new project (DON'T WORRY FUN., FANS! FUN. IS NOT GOING AWAY!). I was fortunate to catch two of Bleachers sets at SXSW, and they did not disappoint. In their geeky/hipster attire, the band performed a set of unreleased indie/pop/rock songs that had the crowd dancing the entire time. Bleachers played three shows at SXSW, and those were their first shows EVER. The first time I saw them was their second show, and they looked nervous, but sounded great. By the third show, it was as if they had been performing as a group for years! Check out their debut single "I Wanna Get Better" here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8twpQTna_9w
(Bleachers: Photo by Emily Katz)
Ghost Beach- This electronic/pop duo was the first act I saw at SXSW, and it was definitely a great way to kick things off. They didn't let the tiny stage tame their energy. With a guitar, synthesizer, drums, and distinctive, slightly gritty vocals, Ghost Beach provided the audience with a mid-day dance party. They recently released their debut album Blonde (available on iTunes), and you can listen to tracks from it here: http://www.youtube.com/user/GhostBeachmusic (I recommend highly recommend "Miracle").
(Ghost Beach: Photo by Emily Katz)
Other acts I saw and thoroughly enjoyed are Run River North (for fans of the Lumineers), Nina Nesbitt (for fans of Taylor Swift/Lorde/powerful female vocalists in general), Wild Cub (pop/rock), Parade of Lights (electronic/pop/rock), and Ryan Montbleau (for fans of Eric Hutchinson/Matt Nathanson).
I hope you listen to and enjoy these artists as much as I do! Which ones are your favorites? Let me know!
This morning I had the chance to sit in on an acoustic performance from Ohio based pop/rock band New Hollow, courtesy of the Mix 93.3 artist lounge!
The trio, made up of teens Evan, Mookie, and Chad, walked into the lounge full of energy (and jokes). They were genuiney friendly and personable, which was very refreshing.
Prior to seeing them today, I had never heard of them. Listening to them soundcheck, I was pleasantly surprised, and knew I was in for a treat. During their performance in front of Mix listeners, the band exuded passion and energy, and were very interactive with the crowd.
These guys write their own songs, which is always impressive, especially when you consider how young they are.. 18 and 19 years old!
About five years ago, I saw American Idol winner and Kansas City native David Cook perform at Ameristar Casino. Opening for him was NYC rocker Ryan Star. It was love at first listen. I've since seen him in concert a couple times, and to this day, he is one of the most passionate artists I've heard and seen.
Star has released three full length albums: Songs from the Eye of an Elephant (2005), 11:59 (2010) MY FAVORITE!, A N G E L S + A N I M A L S (2014), and an EP: Animals (2013).
What has continued to draw me to Star's music over the years is the fact that in every single song of his, this powerful, authentic passion exudes from his voice. Each time I've seen him perform live, that passion is still there. Very rarely have I heard an artist continually connect so deeply with his/her music.
Lastly, his ability to connect with fans at shows while creating an emotional and intense atmosphere make for a unique concert experience.
One thing I don't like about him? The fact that he is a highly underrated artist. If you listen to him and agree with me, let's change that. All of his music is available to listen to on Spotify and to purchase on iTunes. Share his music with your friends and family. Show everyone what they've been missing out on!
Yesterday morning, I had the opportunity to hear singer/songwriter Gracie Schram perform live in the Mix studio. Prior to her performance, Rocket had me listen to a couple of her songs and told me a little bit about her. From what I heard, I was already a fan, and I was excited to see her perform live (even though that meant waking up at the horrifying hour of 6 A.M... thank you, coffee!).
With a sweet but powerful voice that reminds me of a combination between Ingrid Michaelson and Lenka, it's still hard for me to believe that Gracie is only 15 years old! At such a young age, she has already had the opportunity to work with Grammy Award winning producer Charlie Peacock, who has worked with popular acts such as Switchfoot and the Civil Wars. Although she is from Kansas City, she frequently travels to Nashville, where she is heavily involved in writing songs and preparing for the release of her debut album, I am me.
I was lucky enough to receive an early copy of the album, and I am extremely impressed. It's rare for someone so young to be able to write lyrics that not only relate to young girls around her age, but people of all ages. She writes about experiences everyone goes through, such as breakups, finding your place in the world, and remaining hopeful during hard times. Those may seem like cliche topics, but her lyrics portray them in a unique, uplifting way.
You can listen to two of her songs, "Wallflower" and "We Can" (which happen to be two of my favorites from the album) on her website: http://www.gracieschram.com. Her album is set to be released this Spring.
Connect with Gracie on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter!
As 2013 is winding down, I've been thinking about all of the music that has been released this year, and I must say... this year has been musically refreshing.
One of my favorite albums that was released this year is Justin Timberlake's The 20/20 Experience Part 1 (I didn't care for Part 2, except for "Drink You Away"). When I first heard the debut single, "Suit and Tie ft. JAY Z," I wasn't sold. Compared to his past singles, "Suit and Tie" just didn't do anything for me. Fortunately, though, Rocket sent me the album, and I was pleasantly surprised. “Pusher Love Girl,” the opening track (and my favorite track) was the perfect choice to open the album, allowing the rest of the songs to flow together perfectly. Each track incorporates unique rhythms and melodies, and quite honestly, that is pretty rare for pop artists these days. Timberlake and crew are musical geniuses.
As a longtime fan, I was thrilled to see Paramore also make a successful comeback this year with their hit “Still Into You.” It’s a relatable, catchy, pop song, and singer Hayley Williams has such a unique, powerful, and raw voice. The song is pure pop perfection. The rest of the self-titled album? Not as impressive. “Still Into You” is the only song on the album that I think could be a major hit.
On a similar note, I was highly impressed by the massive emergence of alternative/indie-pop artists crossing over into Top 40 radio this year! In the past, music like that of Awolnation, The Neighborhood, Imagine Dragons, and The 1975, among others, was usually only heard on alternative radio. It’s great to hear Top 40 radio expanding and becoming more diverse, because it’s unbelievably helpful to artists, and allows listeners to hear new music they probably wouldn’t expect to hear!
A few straight up pop artists whose releases I really enjoyed this year are Ariana Grande (her entire album is incredible), Icona Pop, Sara Bareilles, and, showing my inner tween, Emblem 3 and One Direction (I’ll never deny my love of boy bands).
That being said, I thought I'd share with you my playlist for the long drives in the van to each city! For the most part, I've been listening to a lot of upbeat music, though for overnight drives I go the more mellow route.
"I Believe" by Basic Vacation. I posted the video for this song on the Mix 93.3 Facebook page a while back, and I still can't stop listening!
"Little Games" by The Colourist
"Leave it up to me"- The Mowgli's
"Still Into You"- Paramore
"Love On Top"- Beyonce (because every good playlist has at least ONE Beyonce song.)
ALL JACK'S MANNEQUIN SONGS (my all time favorite!)
"Pusher Love Girl"- Justin Timberlake
Those songs seem to be on repeat, but I'm always looking for new music! What do you listen to on roadtrips? Leave a comment!
Every once in a while, I come across an artist whose music I become so emotionally invested in and find myself listening to for days on end. This time I fell in love with the perfectly blended rock 'n roll/pop vocals (reminiscent of Matt Nathanson, John Mayer, Phillip Phillips) and thoughtful lyrics of acoustic-pop singer/songwriter Matt Hires.
I saw him perform at the Granada in Lawrence, opening for Parachute (who I've been a longtime fan of & put on an incredible show...check them out here: http://www.facebook.com/parachute).
One song of his that I instantly became hooked on is his song "Restless Heart." It struck a personal chord with me, as it's about not settling in romantic relationships. It basically sums up the quote "Love when you're ready, not when you're lonely." Not to mention, it's also one of the catchiest songs I've heard in a while! Check out the video below, or click this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zk4dKviGpXw.
He just released his newest album, This World Won't Last Forever, But Tonight We Can Pretend, last month. That, along with his other EPs and albums, are available on iTunes.
To hear more of Matt Hire's music, check out the following:
Tech N9ne's new album Something Else is, for lack of a better phrase, something else. This album is not what you'd typically expect from a rap album.
Several of the tracks on this album feature artists of multiple musical genres. It's not easy to combine drastically different genres, but Tech N9ne made it work.
"Straight Out the Gate" features Krizz Kaliko and System of a Down's Serj Tankian. Honestly, Serj Tankian's voice terrifies me (I can't be the only one who feels that way, right?), but it fits so well in the chorus of this song.
Another track that combines genres from opposite ends of the musical spectrum is "Love 2 Dislike Me," which features the soft, smooth female vocals of singer Liz Suwandi, as well as hard rock vocalist Tyler Lyon, from the band Evalyn Awake.
As I read the song titles on the album, I was skeptical to listen to his take on The Doors' "Strange Days," but at the same time I was intrigued. He used a hook of the Doors' song, sung by frontman Jim Morrison, and incorporated it into his rap flawlessly.
The album features other big names, such as B.oB., Cee Lo Green, and Krizz Kaliko. There is so much musical variety to this album, which allows fans of multiple genres of music to enjoy it.
Exactly two weeks ago, I got home from being out on the road with the Beautiful Bodies on the Vans Warped Tour. Now that I have finally (somewhat) re-adjusted to the real world, I thought I'd give you all a more in-depth view of my experience on tour.
Back in June, we did what I like to call our "test run" on the tour. We played the five dates in California, then came back home to Kansas City for about a month before we went back out to finish the tour.
On July 23rd, we jumped back on the tour, playing the Bonner Springs date first, then travelled all over the south, southeast, and midwest regions of the country. To give you an idea of the setup of Warped Tour, here's a picture from our stop in St. Louis:
(all photos are my own)
Bands and crews arrive at the venue in each city early in the morning to set up tents and stages. It was incredible to see how much hard, grueling work is put into setting up, running, and tearing down the festival EVERY DAY in all kinds of extreme weather.
Once we set up each morning and fans were let into the festival, we spent the rest of the day introducing everyone to the band's music and tried to get people to come watch their set that day. Since there are literally hundreds of bands playing everyday, we had to get creative to persuade people to come watch the set. One tactic we used involved the guitarist (Thomas) and a kiddie pool...
Considering this was in 100 degree weather in Florida, it was a huge hit and definitely attracted new fans. You gotta do what you gotta do...
When I wasn't working selling merch and promoting the band, I had the chance to watch some bands, such as Motion City Soundtrack (MY FAVORITE!), Kansas City's own Mac Lethal, Australian punk rockers The City Shakeup, The Story So Far, Forever the Sickest Kids, The Summer Set, and Reel Big Fish.
If you listened to the Rocket & Teresa show last Monday morning, you may have heard me talk about Gin Wigmore, a singer from New Zealand who was on the tour. I would describe her music as Duffy meets Adele meets Amy Whinehouse. She's got this soul/funk/edgy rock sound to her voice, and all of her songs are super catchy. I guarantee you will be hearing more of her soon. In the meantime, check out her performance on the Ellen Degeneres show below, or click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3DdG5xwiavs
I'm sitting in a Starbucks in Dallas, TX, (savoring every minute I have with air conditiong!!), trying to come to terms with the fact that I only have 2 days left on the Vans Warped Tour with Kansas City band the Beautiful Bodies. After playing 5 shows in California back in June, we had a month off back home and picked back up in Bonner Springs last week to finish the tour.
Life on the road has been pretty grueling, but I've loved every minute of it. I've been selling merch for the band on tour, and when I've had time, I've been able to check out some bands! My favorites have been Motion City Soundtrack and The Story So Far.
Bowling for Soup just joined the tour for the last 3 shows, and to say I'm excited to see them would be an understatement. They put on an unbelievably fun show!
I have 2 more days on the tour (including going to Warped Tour PROM tomorrow night... Yes, that's a thing. I can't wait!)
What bands do you think I should check out before the tour ends?! Check out the lineup at http://www.vanswarpedtour.com and comment here with your suggestions!
As you may have heard on the Rocket & Teresa show or read on here, I recently sold merch on the Vans Warped Tour for the local Kansas City band the Beautiful Bodies. We've been home for about a month and we're getting ready to leave again to finish the tour next Tuesday!
This Saturday 7/20, the band will be playing a show at the Riot Room, celebrating the release of their new EP, Battles. $10 will get you into the show AND you will receive a copy of the EP for FREE! The show is 21+, but if you're under 21, you can get in with a legal gaurdian.
I've been known to play CDs in my car so many times that they start skipping (yes, I still listen to CDs).
For the past few weeks, I've been jamming to the Cab's 'Symphony Soldier' album while I drive, and I've listened to it so much that it's only a matter of time before it starts skipping. I can't get enough of this album.
The Cab, a Las Vegas band composed of Alex DeLeon, Alex Marshall, Joey Thunder, Dave Briggs, and Chantry Johnson, has a unique sound. I've tried to think of bands to compare them to, but they really are one of a kind. I would classify their music as a mix of pop, rock, and R&B. Vocalist Alex DeLeon has an AMAZING, smooth, soulful voice. I could listen to him sing the dictionary and enjoy every second of it. His vocal range is incredible.
If you aren't familiar with Warped Tour, it's a summer long music festival consisting of hundreds of bands of multiple genres that perform on stages set up in amphitheater parking lots all over the country.
Some of the acts on the tour include the Summer Set, Reel Big Fish, Forever the Sickest Kids, Allstar Weekend, Motion City Soundtrack, and Kansas City's own Mac Lethal, among hundreds of others.
For this leg of the tour, we travelled all over California, performing in Los Angeles, San Francsisco, San Diego, and Ventura.
Though I spent most of my time managing the merch tent, I was able to check out a few bands!
Motion City Soundtrack (http://www.facebook.com/motioncitysoundtrack) put on an amazing live show. The keyboardist has to be one of the most enthusiastic/energetic musicians I've ever seen. This band offered a bit of light-heartedness to the festival goers with their catchy pop/rock tunes.
(Above: Motion City Soundtrack)
Another band I was able to see was Forever the Sickest Kids (http://www.facebook.com/foreverthesickestkids). You may remember them from a few years ago when their single "Woah Oh (Me Vs. Everyone)" hit the airwaves. It had been several years since I had seen them, but they continue to put on an energetic, crowd-interactive peformance.
If you listened to the Rocket & Teresa show last Thursday, you may have heard that I'll be out on the Vans Warped Tour this summer!
I'll be selling merch for a local Kansas City band, the Beautiful Bodies. Our first show is tomorrow in San Diego, CA! During any free time I may get, I want to check out bands that YOU want to know about!
Some of the bands playing include the Summer Set, Allstar Weekend, 3OH!3, Action Item, Motion City Soundtrack, and HUNDREDS of others!!
That being said, check out http://www.warpedtour.com to see the full line up, and let me know which bands you think I should check out and feature on here!
A while back, I blogged about pop music's best kept secret, a band called Jukebox the Ghost. Well, they just released a video for their song "Oh, Emily," and it definitely doesn't disappoint. It's not the kind of video you'd expect for a breakup song... but that's a good thing. See for yourself below! If that doesn't work, click this link to watch the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=bSW7Kf_Bljk
In a world where you can't turn on the news without hearing of some tragedy every single day, Kansas City's own Steven Cooper promotes positivity through his music.
I was first introduced to Cooper's work at a video shoot for his song "Stereotype." I knew instantly that this guy was going to make an impact on the musical world with his inspiring lyrics that tell stories about overcoming struggles.
Cooper has worked with popular Kansas City natives David Cook and Tech N9ne, as well as the internationally known artist Akon. A producer who had worked on one of Akon's albums suggested the idea of combining the talents of Cooper and Akon, resulting in the song "Bigger," which you can listen to below or by clicking this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=plpS3a8cqUs&list=PL6B53388457BEE96F&index=3
Cooper has released two albums, Life and Love and My Time, as well as an EP titled Brightside. Today, he released TWO singles, "Stone Cold Heart" and "Ego" which are available on iTunes, Spotify, or wherever digital music is sold. He has a new album which is set to release November 19th.
Hear more of Steven Cooper's music and connect with him here:
As I browsed iTunes most recent top 10 singles, I wasn't surprised by which songs were listed as most popular.
1) "We Own It (Fast and Furious)" - 2 Chainz & Wiz Khalifa: I'm usually not a fan of rap/hip-hop but I really enjoyed this song! Not a fan of the lyrics, but it definitely has a good beat and a catchy melody.
2) "Blurred Lines"- Robin Thicke feat. T.I. & Pharrell: Not my favorite song by any means. Pretty boring.
3) "Get Lucky"- Daft Punk feat. Pharrell Wiliams: This is one of my favorite songs on the radio right now! It's the perfect dance song. It's often hard for artists to make a successful comeback hit, but Daft Punk had no problem with that!
4) "Can't Hold Us"- Macklemore & Ryan Lewis feat. Ray Dalton: When they released "Thrift Shop," I figured Macklemore & Ryan Lewis would end up as one-hit-wonders. I was wrong, though! This is yet another great hit. These guys definitely won't be fading away anytime soon. Their most recent album, The Heist, is hit after hit. I'm personally excited they have a song with Allen Stone (more on him in a future post). But I digress. I love this song. I love Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. Moving on.
5) "Come & Get It"- Selena Gomez: I wish she would have stuck to acting. That's all.
6) "Boys 'Round Here"- Blake Shelton feat. Pistol Annies and Friends: Let me start off by saying that I love Blake Shelton as a person (or at least how he's perceived on NBC's "The Voice"). He's hilarious! I'm not a fan of his music, though. A little too twangy for me. That being said, I didn't care for this song at all.
7) "Just Give Me a Reason"- Pink feat. Nate Reuss of Fun.: First of all, Nate Reuss could sing the dictionary and I'd enjoy it, and it's undeniable that Pink has a fantastic voice. This song is great, though their voices don't mix well together at all, and I don't think they should do anymore duets together... but they made this song work!
8) "Radioactive"- Imagine Dragons: I love this song and this band so much. Their most recent album, 'Night Visions,' is great. This song especially offers a refreshing twist to Top 40 music, which I love!
9) "Cruise"- Florida Georgia Line feat. Nelly: The last time Nelly partnered with a country artist (remember "Over and Over" with Tim McGraw?), I was not impressed. This time is different. I thought the song was annoying the first time I heard it, but it has definitely grown on me. They made country and rap blend well together.
10) "Mirrors"- Justin Timberlake: This song is brilliant. Brings me back to the N*SYNC days. Justin Timberlake never has a problem creating hit songs, though, so I'm not surprised this landed in the Top 10.
Here are some of my favorite songs right now that aren't in the Top 10 on iTunes:
"Another Love Song"- Frank Hamilton: The guy is British and you can hear it in his songs. That right there would be enough to make me want to listen to his music. This is a catchy, upbeat, adorable love song. The perfect pop love song!
"Still Into You"- Paramore: I've been a fan of Paramore for many years now, and although I don't enjoy their newest self-titled album, "Still Into You" is definitely a hit!
"Don't Let Me Fall"- Lenka: You may know her from her hit "The Show." This song was released on her self-titled album back in 2008, but I heard it recently for the first time, and its been on repeat.
I could go on and on, but I'll save more for later posts!
What are you listening to right now?! Leave a comment or send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know!
Yesterday was my favorite kind of day: one filled with new, live music.
First, I had the chance to hear new music from The Voice season 3 winner, Cassadee Pope, in an intimate setting of no more than 30 people. I'll admit, I wasn't sure I would enjoy her solo music at first, because I was so used to hearing her sing strictly pop/rock in her former band Hey Monday.
Cassadee has turned to writing and performing country music now, and I was pleasantly surprised by how well she pulled it off. This girl can sing ANYTHING.
She debuted a few songs, including her first single, "Wasting All These Tears," which she will be performing on The Voice June 4th.
Last night, I headed over to the Crossroads to check out the sold out Of Monsters and Men show.
The indie rock band from Iceland performed just over an hour of passionate, thoughtful, and catchy tunes to a well-receptive crowd. Their recorded sound translated live FLAWLESSLY.
I wasn't a huge fan of this band at first, but seeing them perform live definitely changed that. They had a simple, yet vibrant light show to back their sound, and used confetti cannons (my favorite!) to keep the crowd intrigued (as if their music wasn't enough!). Not to mention, they also had an accordian player, which is not something you see at a show of a popular live act very often!
Overall, I enjoyed a night of music from Of Monsters and Men, outside in the perfect 70 degree weather at the Crossroads, and I look forward to seeing them again next time they're in Kansas City!
Check out their debut album, "My Head Is An Animal," available in stores and on iTunes.
Are you a fan of The Voice's Cassadee Pope or were you at the Of Monsters and Men show last night? Let me know what you think! E-mail me at email@example.com!