So won’t you play something I know, a little old time rock n roll

Remember when A Rocket to the Moon was a band and then they broke up and their lead singer, Nick Santino, went solo? It was a bittersweet time in my life, but on the upside, I was able to see Nick play acoustic last night.

The Hard Luck Bar is not the  most attractive of venues, nor is it the easiest to get to – in fact, when we first looked it up, Google informed us that it didn’t exist – but it has phenomenal sound, especially for acoustic shows. Also, their security is incredibly efficient, which is so rare!

We missed most of the first band, Bitter Kids, a relatively local band (they’re from St. Catharines), but they did do a decent cover of The Maine’s “Into Your Arms”.

Next was The Technicolors – or, at least, the one guy from The Technicolors. They’re the most recent band to work with 8123 (which is the “label” for The Maine, Nick Santino, and pretty much everyone else who was on this tour except for Brian Marquis, probably).

Austin Gibbs went on and I was reminded of that other time when I saw him open for The Maine. I didn’t love him then, and, unfortunately, I don’t love him now. I think part of his lack of appeal is due to the fact that he looks like a paedophile from the seventies. Also, it felt like his set lasted twice as long as everyone else’s. But a lot of people in the crowd seemed to enjoy him, so there’s that.

I’ve heard of Brian Marquis, but have never actually seen him before. As the very loud girls sitting at our table suggested, he has a bit of Seth Rogen vibe, but has a decent voice – a bit of Patrick Stump pre-Save Rock and Roll, in that “I’m not entirely sure what you’re saying, but I kinda like it” way.

Despite my lack of enthusiasm for the first few opening bands, I was stoked to see This Century again. They’re a lot of fun, even though only half the band was present. They also had what I can only assume is a magical microphone: Joel (the singer) would lay down some sick beats (by which I mean he’d “beatbox”), and I guess it was somehow recorded because then he could play it on loop for the rest of the song. I don’t know, I couldn’t see what the mic was attached to, but presumably it was some sort of recording device. Either way, they’re quite dance-y, even while acoustic.

Finally, it was time for Nick Santino. I love him, he has a soothing voice and is a great lyricist, but, since most of his songs are very slow, it can be difficult to keep your eyes open. I’m pretty sure Ro fell asleep at one point (not surprising). In between his slow jams, however, he would interact with the crowd and he is surprisingly funny. My favourite part was a cross between when he pointed out that he was wearing a Slipknot shirt (pretty sure Nick Santino’s solo album is the polar opposite to anything Slipknot), and when he decided he would create a rap for This Century’s “Slow Dance Night”. The best lines were the beginning: it’s a slow dance night in Hollywood, I’m with my friends and I’m feelin’ good. It’s probably funnier if you could hear him, but it was definitely entertaining at the time.

An excellent end to the show was when all of the opening bands joined Nick onstage for “Long Way Home”. The guy from The Technicolors had a guitar solo, Brian Marquis briefly led the crowd in the “la la la’s”, Austin Gibbs scatted, and Joel from This Century sang backup. It basically looked like they were having a party onstage, and you could really see how much they all love making music.

Something like a crisis, a quarter life gone by

I accidentally posted this yesterday when I was saving a draft, so I apologize if you receive duplicate notifications.

It’s August, which means it’s time for my traditional second Paradise Fears show of the year (the first being back in February).

I don’t remember the name of the person who opened, mainly because he mumbled a lot and I couldn’t quite understand him. But it didn’t really matter because William Beckett was up next.

I’ve been meaning to do a WB Music Monday post but haven’t gotten around to it yet. He was the singer for The Academy Is… who I loved (and still love). He’s always been one of my favourite singer-songwriters and his live performances are always entertaining: even though it’s literally just him, a guitar, and his laptop (or “band in a box” as he calls it). A highlight of his set was when Sam and Michael (from Paradise Fears) joined him on stage for a new song.


Just putting it out there: William instagramed this shot which was taken by my good friend, Jane. 

Next was Against the Current. I’ve never heard of them before, so I was surprised to find out they had a female singer. Their songs were quite catchy and I’ll probably look them up (eventually). They – rather boldly – covered “Chocolate” by The 1975; while they made an admirable effort, I feel like that’s a song that’s uncoverable – you can try, but you can never quite mimic Matt Healy’s way of slurring the words together (but maybe I’m just biased). They did an excellent job covering Paramore’s “Ain’t It Fun”, though.

Finally, the moment I was waiting for: Paradise Fears.

As I tweeted yesterday, I could see them live a thousand times, and I’d still be awed. They are incredibly talented and their live show has only gotten tighter in the past few years (take it from someone who’s seen them 7 times as openers and headliners).

They put so much passion, energy, and enthusiasm into their live shows and it’s amazing to watch. They’ve always been good performers, but each time I see them, they seem to take it up a notch and just keep on improving.

The setlist was one of the best (though I think I say that after ever PF show): old songs and new, including my current obsession “You To Believe In”:

They haven’t released the official video yet, but I like how Sam makes the others start clapping. An acoustic performance like this also shows their raw talent.

Aside from three new songs – “You To Believe In”, “Color” (which has a Jack’s Mannequin vibe to it and I mean that in the best way possible), and “Reunion” (a song so new, I’ve never heard it until now – plus it featured Sam solo on the piano which was wonderful) – they played quite a bit from 2011’s Yours Truly, and, of course, a lot off of 2013’s Battle Scars. They also did two covers: Macklemore’s “Same Love” and Charli XCX’s “Boom Clap”. Both are songs that I had never heard before PF released covers, so I automatically prefer them to the originals.

There’s no video for their “Boom Clap” cover either, except for their tour trailer.

Before the show, I had meet & greet, and the guys were as sweet and welcoming as they always are. They took pictures and stood around for an hour listening to fans; Jordan, Sam, and Cole also did an acoustic version of one of their first songs, “Fall On Me”, which was beautiful. Another fan had made hearts with the band members’ names on it and was handing them out, asking people to hold them up during “Battle Scars”. It was a heart-lifting (no pun intended) moment, especially seeing the looks on the guys’ faces when they saw the crowd.


This picture was also taken by Jane. Look at how big Sam’s smile is!

Sidenote: Since I haven’t mentioned her before, you might has guessed that this was the first time Jane came to a show with me. I introduced her to PF about 2-3 months ago (when I was wearing my “Battle Scars” t-shirt and she asked where it was from), and, being a long-time WB fan, she decided on a whim to join me at last night’s show. I’m happy to say that she – in her own words – is now a “Paradise Fears convert”.

I Can Make A Mess Like Nobody’s Business

I meant to write/post this a couple of days ago, but it seemed like a good idea to keep it for Music Monday.

Last Tuesday, we saw The Early November who played songs from both their catalogue (they’ve been a band for over a decade), as well as songs from frontman Ace Enders’ solo project, I Can Make A Mess Like Nobody’s Business.

Ace Enders is the dude in the middle.

We haven’t listened to TEN extensively…by which I mean, Ro’s listened to their most recent album (2012’s In Currents), and we saw them at Warped ’13, but that’s pretty much it. Nevertheless, when they announced an acoustic show, we decided to go.

It was at the Hard Luck Bar which is one of the sketchiest venues in the city (but is perfect for acoustic shows). The first opener was some guy from some band but I honestly don’t remember who he was. He wasn’t anything to write home about, but I guess was a decent enough opener.

The next band was Empire! Empire! (I Was A Lonely Estate) who a) mumbled so much I couldn’t actually understand them and only found out their name after Googling them and b) did nothing to win my affection. Sorry, guys. I was kinda bored during their set. I try to stay as interested as I can in opening bands because you never know if you just might end up liking them, but these guys were…mediocre at best (abysmal at worst).

Then TEN came on – there were only three of them (Ace, the guy with the glasses, and another guy, but I can’t tell you which one he was). Like I said, we haven’t listened to them very much, so I didn’t know what to expect.

They were entertaining though! In multiple ways: not only do they make good music, but they were also quite amusing. I can’t remember what they said, but we definitely giggled a couple of times.

The one song I recognized (and which is relatively old) was “Decoration”:

They had a “set list” in theory, but they occasionally asked the audience to pick between songs. They also played “Pretty Pretty” (at the request of one particularly boisterous drunk girl) which is apparently a really rare song that never quite made it to an official recording, so that was cool.

They definitely made me want to listen to them again!

It’s like I’m sleepwalking

I have one more week of this publishing course and then, once I’m done, I’m going to try and make Music Mondays a little more in-depth (the way they were before).

In the meantime, I would like to draw your attention to This Wild Life’s fabulous cover of “Sleepwalking”:

For those who aren’t sure, this is Bring Me the Horizon’s original version:

Incredible, isn’t it?

I’ve been hearing about This Wild Life for the past few months through the various music news channels I follow (absolutepunk, Property of Zack, idobi radio, etc). Then the band randomly started following me on Twitter and – because I had heard so much about them – I followed back. They were on my Warped list but I unfortunately didn’t get a chance to check them out.

Last week, when I was avoiding applying for internships, I decided to finally look them up…and that’s when I discovered this video. It’s my favourite BMTH song, so naturally, I was curious to hear a cover – an acoustic cover, no less.

It actually gave me chills for a minute because it’s so different than the original but it’s absolutely gorgeous. I haven’t listened to their album yet, but if this cover is any indication, it’s going to be a fantastic experience.

Don’t stop listening to rock & roll

This past Saturday was our last Saturday concert (for the foreseeable future, anyway) and we saw The Maine.

John, Garrett, Kennedy, Jared, Pat.

One of my first Music Monday posts was about The Maine. They’re one of my all-time favourite bands: they consistently put out good music, their live shows are always fantastic, and it doesn’t hurt that they’re easy on the eyes (as Nina put it, photos don’t do them justice – they are beautiful).

This show was different than the last 4 times I’ve seen them – for one, it was in a tiny venue (the always sketchy Hard Luck Bar) and it was acoustic. They’ve been doing acoustic shows for the past two months, playing in select cities. When they finally announced a Toronto show, it sold out in less than 4 hours (about 200 people capacity).

I was pretty stoked when they later announced that their good friend, Nick Santino, formerly of A Rocket to the Moon, was opening for them. I’m an ARTTM fan (I was very sad when they disbanded) and I love Nick, so it was pretty much the best thing they could have done.

Nick Santino!

He played about 6-7 songs, just him and his guitar, and it was the perfect way to get the crowd ready for The Maine.

His latest song, written with John O’Callaghan from The Maine. 

The Maine went on just before 8 and played until 9:30, I think. Their set was a mix of songs from all 4 full length albums, plus the acoustic ep they released in December (Imaginary Numbers). As Ro said, it showed just how talented they are, that they were able to take songs and turn them acoustic without losing anything. In fact, some songs sounded better live and acoustic compared to the album versions.

One of the highlights was “You Left Me”, a song they had never played in Canada until this show. It’s from their first album, 2008’s Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop, and the band has previously said they didn’t love the way it turned out (it’s very dance-y, lots of production, didn’t really fit with the album it was on, and certainly doesn’t sound like their more recent stuff). But they completely reworked it and it sounded fantastic acoustic.

The original version…fun if you wanna dance, but the acoustic version is something you could listen to on repeat.

All of the songs they picked to turn acoustic worked out really well (possible exception being “My Heroine”, which was the only one Ro and I thought didn’t sound completely right – still good, but not the same as hearing it plugged in/full band/whatever the opposite term for acoustic is). It’s a beautifully sad song to begin with, but “These Four Words” acoustic is enough to make anyone want to cry.

When he says “I don’t love you”, I just want to cry for days. 

Because the crowd was so intimate, the guys (mainly John and Garrett), who often talk in between songs, were fully able to interact with the audience. It’s odd, when you see photos of the band (promotional shots, etc), they seem rather serious – but they are hysterical live. A different humour than All Time Low, but still funny: Garrett asked that we “raise the roof” (complete with hand motions), to which John mockingly informed him “that’s such a Mom dance-move”. If I were to write down all the ridiculous things they said during their set, this post would be 10 pages long.

A nice touch: after the show ended, the guys (including Nick) sat behind the tables beside their merch and held an impromptu meet & greet. I’ve technically met them before, but since the last time I stood in front of John O’Callaghan, I forgot how to speak, this was the perfect chance to redeem myself.

The Maine will be at Warped this summer (their first time playing the festival in 5 years!) – seeing them twice in one year is pretty much the best thing ever.