concertreviews

CONCERT REVIEW: TWENTY ONE PILOTS - QUIET IS VIOLENT TOUR 9/19/14 BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA

BY TAYLOR DOUGHERTY

We all have that band that just hits us emotionally. You feel like their music was made just for you, and you feel like you’ve discovered all the answers to the universe. Well twenty one pilots is that band for me, and they packed Iron City to full capacity Friday night for their ‘Quiet Is Violent Tour’ stop here in Birmingham.

The duo of Tyler Joseph and Josh Dunn left a lasting mark on everyone in the room, making everyone forget their problems for just a few hours and come together to enjoy the music. Before the show the line was wrapped around the building and down the next street full of dedicated skeleton clique members (the name of their fan base).

The opening bands, Vinyl Theatre and Misterwives, were awesome and held their own against twenty one pilots. I was particularly impressed with Vinyl Theatre. Lead singer Keegan Calmes’ vocals were flawless and the band brought amazing energy to the stage. They are certainly ones to watch. 

When twenty one pilots finally took the stage I can’t even describe how the room erupted. They opened with one of my personal favorites “Guns For Hands” and glided through every song from their album Vessel phenomenally, including “Holding Onto You,” “Car Radio,” “Trees,” “Migraine,” and “House Of Gold”; along with older favorites “Addict With A Pen,” “Kitchen Sink,” “Fall Away,” and “Forest”. They also played covers of Beyonce’s “Drunk In Love,” Lana Del Rey’s “Summertime Sadness,” and “Can’t Help Falling In Love With You,” among others.

The energy in the room was electric and full force the entire night. I was right in the thick of it down on the floor with the rest of the skeleton clique and it was such an amazing experience. In that moment we were all one — jumping up and down and singing all the words together. There is nothing quite like a twenty one pilots show. It’s actually hard for me to put into words what it’s like because no words I come up with accurately describe what it’s like. It’s just… amazing.

Following the show I got to meet Tyler Joseph and he was so nice and humble. There is nothing like looking someone in the eyes who has helped you through so much and thanking them. He took the time to what I had to say and all I wanted was to thank him in person and I got to do that. Thank you so much for that, Tyler.

I found twenty one pilots at a time in my life when I really needed their music and they mean so much to me. What makes them my favorite band is that they’re not afraid to get down into the nitty-gritty. They don’t sugar coat things they’ve struggled with and that is what has helped so many people, including myself. By being completely honest in their music, they have built a trust and respect with their fans. They make people feel like they are not alone and give their fans hope and strength to be open and honest as well. As they say in their song “Fake You Out,” “our brains are sick and that’s okay.”

Being completely honest, they’ve helped save my life and that’s something I will be forever grateful for. Thank you twenty one pilots for one of the most amazing nights ever.   

Originally published September 23, 2014 

Concert Review: The Ready Set

            For those who have been following Mixtape Promotions, you would be able to see that I have very recently joined the journey to discover my musical catharsis. I feel at peace when I’m engulfed in the surroundings of my favorite concert venue (House of Blues in Anaheim) along with hundreds of other people who are there for the same reason that I am — to escape the fast pace and awkward moments that are the real world, and enter a realm full of musical happiness. Like many other concert weirdoes, I just want to satisfy my desire for loud music that makes my heart want to dance, sing my favorite songs until my voice is a raspy whisper, and be surrounded by my favorite form of perfection.

            A couple nights ago was my most recent stop on my stairway to musical heaven. I had the chance to catch The Ready Set, the solo project of 23 year old, Jordan Witzigreuter,on his most recent tour with Outasight. Leading up to the show, my friend Nicole and I both only knew of a few of their songs, but we came to the conclusion: do we have a logical reason to not go? We fell short of finding a good excuse and bought a pair of tickets.

            I’m the type of person who follows bands on Twitter when I know I’m going to see them live. Jordan (The Ready Set) has stated multiple times about his excitement for playing on the West Coast, since he had not played here in awhile. His excitement was obvious the second he walked onto the House of Blues’ stage. You could feel his enthusiasm creeping through the air and capturing the minds and hearts of everyone in the room. In that instant, I knew I was in for a treat.

            Jordan, being a solo performer, has the freedom to dance around the entire stage and is responsible for hyping up the crowd, and after the other night I could tell that it came easy to him. It was good to see that he alone has awesome stage presence. Several groups I have seen, if it’s a solo artist with a band, usually just stand around really awkward but Jordan did not. He looked at home. To top it all off, you could see the passion he has for his music and that made watching his set even more captivating.

            The Ready Set also sounds amazing live. I felt as if I could actually hear the words he was singing for once, instead of having it drowned out by guitars and drums. His voice, in my opinion, sounds better live than in recordings. It sounds like honey and it’s glorious. Somewhere in between the second and third song, I could feel my heart melting into a puddle at the bottom of my feet. I felt like a girl with an elementary school crush.

            To be honest, I expected more from him though. The venue looked as if it was maybe half-filled. I expected to see more people and to see only around 200 people down in the pit was a little bit of a letdown. He didn’t step on stage until 10:30 and he was off by 11:15. He played maybe 8 or 10 songs straight through with no break.  Even though Nicole and I only knew a few songs, after “Give Me Your Hand,” and a farewell, we were left saying to each other “That’s it?” It was disappointing that the headlining artist felt like another opener. I felt as if I was robbed of another 30 or 45 minutes of music.

            Personally, I don’t know if I would go see them again. On stage, he is awesome but I felt like he should have played more songs to make it more worthwhile. If you are going or thinking about it, you should because he is fun to watch, but don’t expect much. Jordan is extremely talented, but I think there’s a lot he needs to do in order to make his concerts more of an experience.

 

Love and rockets,

Brie Peters

 

Keep up with mine and Kaylee’s lives on Twitter and Instagram if you want to see hear about bizarre, but awesome adventures and want to see adorable cat pictures!

Brie: twitter @briescrazy instagram @brieepeters

Kaylee: twitter @acoustickaylee instagram @thekayleeshea

ALSO follow Mixtape on twitter too via @MixtapePromos

Zendaya's Bay Area Tour Stops

So I attended both of Zendaya’s Bay Area tour stops at the Marin County Fair and the Alameda County Fair. It was incredibly crowded in both venues. I underestimated the stamina of mothers and fathers who would arrive at the venues 4-5 hours ahead of time to stake out seats and then have one parent settle in as seatholders while the other one takes their pack of kids off to see the fair. It makes finding seats for the rest of us pretty difficult- even though my friend and I arrived at the Marin County Fair 2 hours ahead of the afternoon show. For the rest of you, if you’re planning on attending one of her other stops get there early (4-5 hours before start time) if you want a seat.

Unfortunately, I don’t have decent video footage or photos because I was on the lawn at both events- but I’ll do a re-cap of my overall impressions. The lawn at the Marin County Fair isn’t too bad though because you can still see into the staging area and we got a place pretty close up on the diagonal to the stage. At the Alameda County Fair, the staging area is closed off from the lawn but there is a huge big screen setup that allows the people on the lawn to see a close up of the action on the stage. I got a much better view of the details of her performance and facial expression tonight then I did the night before.

Kids were screaming and chanting her name before the start of both shows- it’s kind of exciting to hear the love. There was a cameraman with a steadicam on the stage for both events so I’m wondering of they will put out official tour video footage later on. He was swirling in and around the dancers and musicians. I think the footage he captured should be pretty good.

Zendaya wore the white mesh sleeveless top, black mesh pants, and white boots at both stops. Contrary to popular belief, the outfit looked really nice on her in person. The material was light and seemed to float around her body as she moved- but you still got a sense of her shape beneath it because it was so sheer. I really liked her summer concert steeze. Her dancers wore the same black tanks with shredded fringe on the bottom of the tank. Yesterday they had a stars and stripes white leggings on while today they had on white short leggings with black stripes and black lace stockings.


Mama Kim Battiste was the host/announcer both nights. She introduces the show and then wraps up the finale. She has such great energy and an amazing commanding presence- with a great ability to rev up the crowd.

Both nights there was an 11 song set- I think - and lasted about an hour long all together. The songs were performed for the most part by Zendaya over a playback track- meaning she probably lip synched or sang lightly over the track while she danced her heart out. She really went full out on the dances and was amazing. Even further back and off to the side I was able to see how commanding she was on the stage. She did perform a 3 song acoustic set though in the middle of the show to show off her vocal chops and all those songs were amazingly performed with her live voice.

The songs in order were (to the best of my memory):

1. Swag it out

2. Watch me

3. Something to dance for

4. Fashion is my kryptonite

5. Beat of my drum

6. Wanna give you my all (title?)

Acoustic set:

7. Leave me alone (Michael Jackson cover)

8. Smile (Charlie Chaplin cover but inspired by MJ’s love for this song)
 This was a gorgeous rendition both times. I think at the Marin outing they attempted to play some light instrumentation at first but gave up because it wasn’t enhancing the song. By the time, they came to it tonight they let her sing it a capella all by herself. And it was so worth it. She has a version online on youtube but this one was even better- her voice and delivery has matured.

Dancers break where every dancer had a chance to dance a little solo- Dominique Battiste is an amazing dancer with such stage presence. She stood out for me among all the backup dancers. She was also credited as assistant choreographer.

Now all new songs:

The last set of songs were all new ones from her upcoming album. And I must say that I really liked them all. I can’t wait to hear the studio versions of them- since I’m sure they’ll be even better than the live.

9. Cry for love- now this one is my favorite so far from all the youtube footage I had seen. The guitar on it was sooo good. That young guitar player was amazing- when he stepped up to center stage it was almost like the guitar as a second voice up there on the stage singing back and forth to her. I really liked the song and can’t wait to hear it again.

Back to playback songs:

The night ended with 2 songs with full dancing going on so she had a playback track happening on both songs.

10. Only when you’re close

11. Here we go again (title?)

The night ended with an extended instrumental version of the last song- Here we go again. Every band member, backup singer, dj, drummer, and musician was called up front by Zendaya and Mama Kim to be introduced and then the whole stage turned into a celebration as everyone got up and danced around the stage. Her dad who was on the stage near the side for the entire show got up and danced too. It was a great way to end the show on a high note.

One thing I took away from both shows was how much a family affair it was for Zendaya. Her cousin is one of the backup singers- the one in the middle and the bongo drummer is her brother. Also, Zendaya is such a generous performer- she gave each person whether musician, backup singer, dancer a moment to do a solo all by themselves center stage. Her backup singers were especially amazing in their solo moments- another more insecure singer would never have let her backup singers come up and potentially show off their stronger vocal power but not Zendaya. She sat back and applauded them. She, however, was clearly in command and lead of the show the entire time.

Tonight in the Alameda show, they declared that it was the best show they had had up until now and the crowd was certainly rowdier- there were hundreds packed into the amphitheater as well as the lawn. Mama Kim even came up to the mic during the performance to remind Zendaya that there were a whole crowd on the lawn that she couldn’t see and Zendaya stopped and bowed to the back of the stage in the direction of the lawn. That to me typified these shows- how really appreciative she and her whole gang were for the attention and the crowds coming to see them all perform.

In Alameda tonight, she also took out her cell phone and panned it around the audience- she was hilarious she told the lighting guys to turn off the lights so she could get a good shot and then she took a selfie of herself. Hope it’ll end up on her IG or mobli page soon.

For those of you planning on going to her other tour stops- get there early and there seems to be a meet and greet after every show, you just have to make sure you buy the meet and greet ticket at the t-shirt stand before they sell out.

P. S. After the Marin show, my friend and I went to get some food and walk around the fair grounds. What was an unexpected treat was seeing her family members walking around the fair grounds visiting with friends and family. I noticed her mom standing with some friends by the food tables munching on some roasted corn- yum! Her mom is incredibly tall- I knew that but didn’t realize it until I saw her up close. On our way out we nearly ran into Zendaya and her whole entourage (dancers and musicians coming back into the fairgrounds to have some fun after a quick change). We almost wanted to turn back around and follow them to see what they were up to but refrained… ;-) I must say she is gorgeous in person and when she walked in at the center of her group was clearly the queen bee.

Overall, a fun two days.

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Macy Gray Shows ATL The Way!

Last Tuesday evening (Oct. 21st), Grammy-award winning singer Macy Gray’s tour bus rolled into Atlanta for a stellar performance at the intimate Variety Playhouse. Located in artsy Little 5 Points, the venue seemed to be the perfect for Gray’s mostly over-the-age-of-forty audience crowd. Before Gray’s 24-song set, the arriving crowd was serenaded by the sweet & syrupy sounds of Marian Mereba. Cut from a similar silk cloth as British import Corrine Bailey Rae, Mereba—who happens to be an alum of Spelman College—performed a beautiful set, but to her dismay, it was wasted on an almost hollow venue. Songs included the promising, “September” from her upcoming album, Radio Flyer, and cuts from last year’s Room For Living EP. Accompanied by a trumpeter, two background vocalists, and her distinctly sweet vocals, Meraba definitely fit the bill of a Macy Gray show—she even rocked a big ‘fro suggestive of Gray’s trademark ‘do.

Following Mereba was Cary Nokey, an almost mock-glamrock performer. Adorned with rhinestones, glitter, red lipstick, and buckets of personality, Nokey represented the other, more-eccentric side of Gray’s persona—along with that of Boy George. The older-skewing audience wasn’t immediately drawn to the dancefloor-ready covers of Destiny Child’s, “No, No, No,” and Lady Gaga’s “Paparazzi,” both of which he is credited for having co-written. Cheers and applause for Nokey were sprinkled at best, but he didn’t seem to mind at all. His energy never faltered.

By 9:30 the headliner was ready for her spotlight. Backed by a sharply dressed five-piece band (all wearing cool light-up ties), Macy arrived on the stage. Standing a moderate 5 feet 11 inches tall, the glamazon took to the stage in a shimmery sequin gown with feathers throughout; it one of three costumes for the evening. The jam-packed opening set consisted mostly of well-known tunes from her 15-year-old debut album, On How Life Is. From the first song, the audience was captivated by that iconic raspy voice, and her drunken, childlike grace–she’s famously awkward. “Shake your booties, sexy people!” she yelled between songs that all featured a diverse array of musical textures.

Currently on the road promoting her eighth studio-album, The Way (for which the tour is named), Gray has been away from the mainstream music for many years having released two cover albums of the last few years. 2012’s Covered saw Gray doing plays-on everyone from Radiohead, to Kanye West, to Metallica. Meanwhile, Talking Book (also released in 2012) covered the legendary album by Stevie Wonder, for which she paid homage to its 25th birthday.

An hour into her set and a costume visit later, there was no fatigue in sight. Both Gray and the crowd were spontaneous for any twists and turns the set could provide. The show continued with a healthy mix of crowd-favorites with the occasional new-tracks, including tracks like, “Hands,” “Bang Bang,” and “Stoned,” thrown in here and there. The audience swooned, two-stepped, and bopped along to the band’s every advance. Most notable on the set was Gray’s signature tune and finale, “I Try.” The song is her sole top-five single and was the definite highlight of the night; the audience sang every lyric in unison. “You guys sound better than me!” gushed the bashful chanteuse. The two-hour set came to a close after a third wardrobe change and a cover of Radiohead’s “Creep” (featured on her _Covered _LP). All in all, a groovy show from one of music’s quirkiest divas – definitely a show not to miss.

Concert Review - Dan Mangan + Blacksmith (with Astral Swans & Hayden) - March 11, 2015

(Photo Credit: Kevin Vos)

               One of the last stops on the winter leg of their tour with Astral Swans and Hayden, Dan Mangan + Blacksmith stopped in Edmonton to play the gorgeous and acoustically unreal Winspear auditorium. After reviewing and thoroughly enjoying his latest release “Club Meds”, attending this show was not even a question – it was a must.

               The first opener, Calgary singer-songwriter Matthew Swann performing under the name Astral Swans, went on at 8pm. We unfortunately missed the first song or two, crawling over half of the people in our row in pitch black to get to our seats (we were “those people”). However, once our seats were secured, the acoustic nature of this artist was greatly welcomed, easing us into a night that was to gradually increase in energy. Just a man, his guitar and an amp, Matthew serenaded the crowd with clever originals, with his laid back vocals resonating throughout the building. After his 20 minute set came to a close, Hayden took to the stage. A 4-piece based out of Ontario, this band’s sound is difficult to describe – I would say it’s similar to a more folk-y version of Death Cab for Cutie, with Hayden’s vocals like a polished Mac Demarco. Hilarious banter led into song introductions, with “titles” like “I Met Lars Ulrich At a Funeral” and “Fucked Up Dude with a Bomb Shelter”, but the humor never took away from the great performance before us. Grounding their set even more was the story about his non-verbal daughter with whom he shares his new songs with, tugging at the heart strings of everyone in attendance. The band even grabbed four guitars and stepped in front of the mics for an acoustic song featuring Dan Mangan, serenading us with amazing five part harmonies and showcasing the acoustics of the building.

               With the entire crowd buzzing with excitement, Dan Mangan + Blacksmith took to the stage just before 10pm. Walking on to the sample that also opens “Club Meds”, the crowds’ cheers grew until the lights came up and the band tore into “Offred”. The bass in that song was absolutely unreal – the kind that rattles you to your core, literally feeling the song. Next was one of my favorites from the new album, “Vessel”, then two from his 2011 release “Oh Fortune” (“Starts With Them, Ends With Us” and “Leaves, Trees, Forest”). By this point I began to fully realize how crucial the trumpet is to this band, something that I’m sure many others don’t realize until they see them live as well. And it’s not just added in for the sake of being different or hip; they use the traditional trumpet sound, add distortion to make it almost sound like an electric guitar riff, or even loop with effects to add interesting little bits and pieces that I wasn’t expecting to hear duplicated live. Continuing the great mix of old and new tracks, reaching back to “Nice, Nice, Very Nice” (2010) as well, Mangan performed two of my alltime favorites flawlessly: “Post-War Blues” and “Road Regrets”. A streak of new tracks departed from the more acoustic and folk sound, including “Pretty Good Joke”, “Forgettery”, title track “Club Meds”, and “Mouthpiece” – which I was both surprised and extremely excited to hear.  The mix of old and new was extremely well received by the crowd, especially when Mangan strummed his way into his first radio hit “Rows of Houses”. The tempo slightly shifted down with “Kitsch” (which included a ridiculous guitar solo), “New Skies”, and a powerful solo performance of “Basket”. Recruiting the band members of Astral Swans and Hayden, Mangan closed the show with a slowed down, sing-along version of “Sold”. The perfect artist to experience my first Winspear show with, Dan Mangan + Blacksmith once again blew me away live. Visit http://danmanganmusic.com/ to keep posted on future tour dates – you don’t want to miss them!