Mini Show Reviews: July 2016

Panic! at the Disco and Weezer – July 6

panic weezer

I’ve been waiting for this show for MONTHS. I bought tickets as soon as they went on sale in JANUARY and it was agony waiting so long to be in Brendon Urie’s presence again (I haven’t seen Panic! since August 2014). SUCH AN AMAZING SHOW, I CAN’T EVEN TALK ABOUT IT PROPERLY.

Not only was Andrew McMahon amazing as always, but during his (opening) set, he ran through the crowd, including the row behind me (so close I could have touched him!), and along the lawns, all while singing “Synesthesia“. I also loved that he played “Dark Blue” which is one of our favourite Jack’s Mannequin songs.

Panic!, of course, was the highlight for me. With an hour-and-a-bit long set, Brendon (or BAE-don, as I like to call him), made the most of his time, storming through his set with his usual energy and panache. The best part of the show was when he played three of my favourite songs back to back (“Ready to Go“, “Nine in the Afternoon“, and “Crazy=Genius“), culminating in a drum battle that was super impressive. It felt like it was over too soon, but the elated feeling I get after a Panic! show stayed with me for the next week.

Weezer closed the show and, while they were good and their set was full of recognizable jams (“Undone – The Sweater Song“, for example), they didn’t seem as into it as Brendon did. For most of the set, they looked pretty bored, like they were doing it because they had to and not because they wanted to. Still, I never realized how easy it is to air-guitar to Weezer, so that was nice.


5 Seconds of Summer – July 12

5sos

I often referred to 5SOS as my “guilty pleasure”, but let’s be real: I really enjoy these guys. They’re like a young All Time Low (and I LOVE All Time Low)! So I was pretty stoked to see them on their “Sounds Live Feels Live” tour, and they did not disappoint.

We missed the opening band, Hey Violet, because the line to get into the amphitheatre was HUGE. Second band, One OK Rock was really interesting – they’re from Japan, and, while they have a somewhat poppy sound, they were heavier than I was expecting (there was even some screaming! Like really-early Fall Out Boy!) – I especially enjoyed “Mighty Long Fall“.

5SOS came out just before 9pm to THUNDEROUS applause. I was not even a little close to the stage (in the 400 levels), but the noise was DEAFENING. The guys seemed to really enjoy themselves and looked like they had a lot of fun running around the stage and working up a sweat. They banged through most of their set, pausing only a handful of times to chat (even though it was hard to hear/understand them over the screams) and make up a couple of Toronto-only songs: “Poutine Doesn’t Taste Like Poo Poo” was one, “Living In the Six (With Drake)” was another. Their actual songs were awesome: “Permanent Vacation” is my favourite, but fan-favourite “Amnesia” was also really good (I liked that a lot of people held up paper hearts). And while “Jet Black Heart” is a fantastic song, I do wish Michael Clifford had skipped the smoldering intro mostly because I thought my eardrums were going to burst from all the screaming (I’m not ashamed to admit that I covered my ears at one point because it hurt so much). Still, they put on an entertaining show, and I’d see them again…but I’m going to have to invest in a pair of earplugs first.

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Swim for the music that saves you

On November 15, we had the opportunity to see one of my absolute favourite singer-songwriters, Andrew McMahon.

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You may recall I’ve talked about Andrew a couple of times before. I saw him last November, and I’ve been listening to him in some form or another for the last seven or eight years. I’ve made it a point to see him every time he’s in town since 2010, so this was my fifth time.

We missed the opening act, Lolo, because we chose to have dessert at Factory Girl instead, but since I doubted she would play “Miss Jackson” or “Centuries”, I didn’t mind missing her twenty minute set.

The next band to go on was The Griswolds. I’ve never heard of them, but I really enjoyed them! They were a great blend of the headliners, New Politics and Andrew McMahon, plus they’re Australian! They played an excellent version of Vance Joy’s “Riptide” (I did not know that Vance Joy is also Australian, so that was cool). Check them out if you’re looking for something to bop around to.

New Politics was up next. I’ve seen them twice before (once as a headliner, then again as an opening band), so I was a little perplexed when they were announced as Andrew McMahon’s tourmates because they don’t really have the same vibe. While I’m still on the fence as to whether or not their music makes sense together, there’s no denying how much fun New Politics is, especially live. Since the last two times I’ve seen them, they’ve released another album – this year’s Vikings – so it was nice to hear newer songs. Of course, the highlight of their set was still “Harlem”, though Andrew McMahon bounding out on stage for “Girl Crush” was pretty epic too.

Finally, Andrew himself came out. Surprisingly, he started out slow with the ballad, “Rainy Girl”, but immediately picked it up with “Dark Blue”, one of my and Ro’s favourite Jack’s Mannequin songs.

The set was a good mix of his solo stuff (“Canyon Moon”, “Halls”, etc) and songs from his his earlier career: the classic “I Woke Up in a Car”, a mellower version of “Punk Rock Princess”, the always outstanding “La La Lie” (New Politics came out for part of the song, and it was clear that they were all enjoying themselves), one of my other faves, “Swim” (which he dedicated to my Light the Night team captain Laurel!), and even the less popular “Bloodshot”. And, of course, he closed the show with the double whammy of awesomeness: “Cecilia and the Satellite” and “Synesthesia”.

For some reason, the crowd seemed particularly rowdy, and a couple of people were even escorted out before the show ended. If you’re not familiar with Andrew McMahon, all you need to need is that he’s a laid-back California dude who sings songs about love and finding yourself. So having a heckler in the audience or spotting two drunk girls fighting another girl for a balloon (both of which happened!) isn’t something that’s normal at one of his shows. As upsetting as it is to see a performer get mad, I liked that he made a point to call out people who were being disruptive, and made sure they understood that he doesn’t tolerate that kind of behaviour, especially in light of recent tragic events. Why go to a show if you’re just going to ruin it for everyone else?

Boisterous people aside, it was a fantastic show that left me with a scratchy voice and a mild post-concert depression the next morning. I absolutely recommend Andrew McMahon – with about fifteen years of material, I’m sure you’ll find something you like.

The Real Neat Blog Award!

Happy Wednesday!

I’ve been nominated for the Real Neat Blog Award by the wonderful Amanda (Literary Counsellor). Thanks Amanda! Please be sure to check out her blog!
realneat22

How it works:
1 )Put the award logo on your blog.
2) Answer 7 questions asked by the person who nominated you & create 7 new ones
3) Thank the people who nominated you, linking to their blog.
4) Nominate any number of bloggers you like, linking to their blogs.
5) Let them know you nominated them (by commenting on their blog, etc.)

My answers:

1) What was the last (work safe) picture you took with your phone/camera? Share it?

The last photo I took was at the Andrew McMahon concert on Sunday (a review will go up next Monday!). You can see it on my instagram here (sorry it’s blurry!).

2) Do you have a favourite book that no one else seems to know about?

The Year of Secret Assignments by Jaclyn Moriarty has been one of my favourite books for about ten years. I haven’t met anyone else who has read it, though!

3) If you were to get any quote tattooed on your body, what would it be?

Ooo, so many (especially if we’re including lyrics as quotes!). If I had to pick a bookish one, it’d either be “Trust dreams. Trust your heart, and trust your story” (Neil Gaiman) OR “Words…are an inexhaustible source of magic” (J.K. Rowling. Dumbledore, to be exact).

4) What is something you’ve always wanted to try but have been too scared to?

Sometimes I just want to cut off all my hair and rock a pixie cut (or half a shaved head), but my ears stick out too much.

I’m sure there’s a less superficial answer for this, but I can’t think of anything right now!

5) Who is a character from a book that you’ve always resonated with?

I’ve always connected to Audrey from Audrey, Wait!. Not because I’ve dated a musician or had a song written about me (yet!), but because we both understand the power of music.

6) If you could master one skill you don’t have right now, what would it be?

Languages. Any and all. I speak French and can introduce myself in Spanish, but I think it would be fascinating to learn other languages, maybe ones that aren’t Latin-based. German, for example.

7) If you could time travel, would you go to the past or the future? Why?

The Elizabethan era is my favourite, so I’d go there. The only problem with travelling to the past is the lack of hygiene, so I’d probably travel back-and-forth a lot.

Thanks again, Amanda! That was fun :)

Nominations:

Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop Books
Delirious Antidotes
Hidden Staircase
Insanity Talks
It Started in Oxford
Starlight Daydreamer
Words…I Need Words 

Questions:

  1. What is your dream job?
  2. Is there a post/photo/some sort of created content that you are particularly proud of? Link it up!
  3. Do you have tattoos/do you want any?
  4. What genre do you prefer reading?
  5. If you could have one Christmas wish, what would it be?
  6. Speaking of Christmas, what is your favourite holiday (doesn’t have to be religious)?
  7. What is one thing that is guaranteed to make you smile when you’re having a bad day (a book/movie/video/photo/song, etc)?

Best concerts of 2014

This year, Ro and I hit 30 concerts. 30!!!! This was a personal best for us, and it was our goal for 2014 (we were unbelievably excited when we bought tickets for that last show). There were a couple of duplicates – some favourite bands that came to town on more than one tour – but we also saw a few bands we’ve never seen live before.

This list is pretty much in order, but the lines sort of blur once you get past the top ten. Yay live music!

1) Bring Me the Horizon – December 5 (Wembley Arena)

2) Panic! at the Disco – February 1 (Sound Academy)

3) You Me At Six – October 13 (Phoenix)

4) Fall Out Boy – June 25 (Molson Amphitheatre)

5) The Maine – March 1 (Hard Luck Bar)

6) Paradise Fears – August 12 (Mod Club)

7) Twin Atlantic – December 10 (Rivoli)

8) Taking Back Sunday – April 8 (Kool Haus)

9) Andrew McMahon – November 5 (Opera House)

10) The Ready Set – October 30 (El Mocambo)

11) The 1975 – May 6 (Kool Haus)

12) Nick Santino – November 10 (Hard Luck Bar)

13) Bastille – October 15 (ACC)

14) Deaf Havana – February 15 (Rivoli)

BONUS:

Riot Fest – September 6-7 (Downsview Park)

I’m so ready for the 2015 concert season. I can’t wait to see what our total will be this year!

Best albums of 2014

This year, for my “Best of” lists, I decided to do something a little different. Instead of listing 10 albums, I went with 14 (because it’s 2014, obviously…); and, instead of just making a list, I put them into completely made-up categories, that sort of hint at why I consider them the best of this year, along with my favourite song.

Without further ado:

A favourite band’s new album that took a while to grow on me:

Cavalier Youth – You Me At Six

Latest incarnation of a talented singer:

Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness – Andrew McMahon (in the Wilderness)

Concept album/sequel to another concept album:

The Resistance: Rise of the Runaways – Crown the Empire

“Sing-alongs and headbanging are unavoidable”:

Happiness Is… – Taking Back Sunday

Scottish album that took forever to come out, but it was worth it:

The Great Divide – Twin Atlantic

Country-style old school rock ‘n’ roll:

Big Skies – Nick Santino

“Finally new music from these guys!”:

Losers & Kings – The Downtown Fiction

Dance all night:

The Bad & the Better – The Ready Set

If all female-fronted bands sounded like this, I would listen to female-fronted bands more often:

White Noise – PVRIS

Unapologetic pop-punk (from a Welsh band, no less!):

Wishful Thinking – Neck Deep

Final album from a band that’s been around for over a decade:

Lowborn – Anberlin

Solo music from a guy in a popular (fun.) band:

Strange Desire – Bleachers

Pure pop-rock:

Oh, What a Life – American Authors

Guilty pleasure:

5 Seconds of Summer – 5 Seconds of Summer

BONUS:

Most magnificent/unexpected single:

Centuries – Fall Out Boy

This list doesn’t even include those albums released in 2014 that I haven’t listened to in full yet, such as This Wild Life’s Clouded, not to mention any re-releases (The Maine’s deluxe edition of Forever Halloween), or albums by bands that I love(d) that left me feeling a little “meh” (Breathe Carolina’s Savages).

I see colours when I hear your voice

See this guy? This is Andrew McMahon. He’s wonderful. One of my favourite singer-songwriters ever. I’ve mentioned him before on this blog – twice, actually. Last night, I saw him for the fourth time – this means that I’ve seen him in all of his incarnations, from Something Corporate to Jack’s Mannequin, his solo show last summer (when I almost drowned – that’s a story for another day), and then finally as “Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness”.

Opening band Junior Prom had an American Authors-meets-Twenty One Pilots vibe (the TOP comparison might be made solely based on the fact that there were only two guys in the band). They were pretty upbeat and did a fine job getting the crowd ready for the next two bands.

Hunter Hunted seemed like a mishmash of other bands I listen to: sort of a non-synthesizer-using Bastille (Imagine Dragons?) and someone else that I can’t remember (I came up with a great comparison last night but foolishly didn’t write it down). Ro said Bombay Bicycle Club and she may be on to something.

Finally Andrew came out. When I go to an Andrew McMahon course, I expect a certain level of flawlessness, and he always delivers. This show included a combination of songs from his past bands, as well as songs off his latest release, Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness, which came out last month. One of my favourite, spine-tingling, moments was during “Cecilia and the Satellite” (the lead single off of AMITW), when the stage lights went off, plunging them into darkness, only to come back with full force during the post-chorus “oh”s. He also played a beautiful, slightly mellower version of one of his most famous (I mean, it was on One Tree Hill at one point!) Jack’s Mannequin songs, “The Mixed Tape”.

The original song.

His between-song banter was funny, occasionally lapsing into serious (like when he called out the people who had started a fight in the middle of the crowd), but above all, he sounded genuinely grateful that he had a room full of people who have faithfully followed his musical endeavors over the past 10+ years. And he made sure not to let down those die-hard fans, especially when he stomped on his piano and pulled out a harmonica for “La La Lie”.

Andrew McMahon is one of those musicians who can do no wrong in my book. He could release the worst song to ever exist, and I’d still listen to it on repeat for at least a week. Of course, it’s just not possible for him to release a bad song – even if the beat is mediocre, his words more than make up for it.

Don’t be afraid, Cecilia, I’m the satellite and you’re the sky

I was supposed to post this yesterday. My bad. Eventually (i.e. next week, maybe), I’ll re-start writing long entries for Music Monday (pretty sure I made this promise two weeks ago, but this time I mean it).

Until then, here is a new song that I’m completely obsessed with:

Andrew McMahon (of Something Corporate/Jack’s Mannequin) has been releasing solo material for the past 2-3 years. This is his latest song, and it was written for/about his 6-month old daughter, Cecilia.

It’s one of the cutest songs I’ve ever heard and it kind of makes me emotional but in the best way possible. When I see Andrew  plays this live in November, I will probably sob.

Top 10 (but actually 15) of 2013

For my last Music Monday of 2013, I thought I’d do something different. Lots of music publications have been sharing their “End Of The Year” lists over the past couple of weeks, so I put together my own top 10 albums, limiting myself to albums I actually (physically) own.

Thus, in no particular order, here are my top 10 releases of 2013 (including my favourite song from each – sorry that I’ve used some of these songs in past Music Monday posts):

1) Save Rock & Roll – Fall Out Boy

When FOB announced their return after a 4 year hiatus, my heart (and Twitter feed) exploded with excitement. Save Rock & Roll is a fantastic album that combines classic FOB with their newer, somewhat more mature outlook on life and music in general.

2) Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die – Panic! at the Disco

P!ATD can do no wrong in my book, and their 4th album continues their trend of always surprising their fans by never sticking to one sole genre and experimenting with different musical elements. They’re still as charming as ever, though!

3) Forever Halloween – The Maine

A little more mature, a little more rock & roll than their previous efforts, The Maine never fails to delight me. Plus the amount of time and effort they spend on making new music for their fans is incredible: 2013 also saw the release of their “Imaginary Numbers” EP, approximately 6 months after their full length album dropped.

4) Sempiternal – Bring Me The Horizon

One of the more recent bands for me (I’ve been listening to them for about a year and a half, maybe less), this album allowed singer/screamer Oli Sykes a chance to use clean vocals (whereas before it was all screaming all the time), and it made them more accessible to people who aren’t necessarily metal fans.

5) Battle Scars – Paradise Fears

I love these guys and they consistently put out great songs, whether it’s a cover of a current pop hit, or something as deep and meaningful as this album’s title track, “Battle Scars”.

6) Legendary – The Summer Set

This third album from the Arizona quintet features songs that combine fun danceable jams with slightly more serious undertones – for example, the title track, “Legendary”, which touches on the idea of growing up and also references “How I Met Your Mother”.

7) Burnout – Anarbor

Seeing Anarbor at Warped this past summer made me realize that a) their singer, Slade, got a lot better looking and b) (on a less superficial note) they may have disappeared for a while between albums, but they’re still as fun and refreshing as ever.

8) Old Souls – Deaf Havana

Though it technically won’t be released in North America until mid-January (I picked up a copy in London at the beginning of December), this album continues Deaf Havana’s shift from semi-screamy to alternative-but-still-catchy-as-heck.

9) Genuine & Counterfeit – William Beckett

I love anything WB touches and his first full length solo album is no exception.

10) Wild & Free – A Rocket to the Moon

As sad as it was to see ARTTM split up shortly after the release of their long-awaited sophomore album, they went out with a bang!

HonourROble mentions (aka albums that my sister Ro owns):

1) Opposites – Biffy Clyro

Their SIXTH album helped solidify them as a certifiable rock band and one that everyone needs to see at some point because their live shows are crazy-energetic.

2) Bad Blood – Bastille

So catchy, so fun, so good to see live. These guys are talented and I hope we see more of them in 2014 and beyond.

3) The 1975 – The 1975

Ditto. (though for some reason, these guys get more recognition than Bastille, even though they probably fall into the same genre).

BONUS BESTS OF 2013:

EP: The Pop Underground – Andrew McMahon

Remember when I said I love everything William Beckett touches? The same goes for Andrew McMahon, including his first solo EP. I’m pretty sure I listened to “Synesthesia” on repeat for over an hour when it first came out.

Re-Release: Don’t Panic, It’s Longer Now – All Time Low

Just when I thought 2012’s “Don’t Panic” couldn’t get any better, ATL re-released it and included 4 new songs, as well as 4 acoustic tracks. I had a hard time picking between “A Love Like War” and “Canals” as my favourite new song, but I absolutely adore this video (if I was making a list of favourite videos, this would probably be numero uno).

Plus, I didn’t even consider Mayday Parade’s Monsters in the Closet because I’ve only listened to a handful of songs. And just this past weekend, I bought Pierce the Veil’s Collide With the Sky and The Wonder Years’ The Greatest Generation, but they both need another 2-3 listens before I can pass judgement.

Here’s hoping 2014 brings even more fantastic albums!

My life has become a boring pop song and everyone’s singing along

Did you know that there are TWO Emmy celebrations? The actual Emmys were this weekend, but there’s also the “Creative Emmys” which take place a week before.

I just learned about this second celebration (though I guess technically it’s the “first”, in chronological terms) this year because Andrew McMahon was nominated for the song he wrote for Smash.

I am an Andrew McMahon fangirl. Over the past 12-15 years, he’s released music under three different monikers, and I firmly stand by each and every one of them.

I wish I had listened to Something Corporate when they first came out, but I was 10, and didn’t really listen to anything outside of what was played at my house. (This is a particularly shocking revelation if you know me now, since 90% of my free time is spent at a concert/talking about/listening to/downloading music.) But I was lucky enough to attend their 10 year reunion tour in August 2010, and it was a fantastic show. I often tell people that the first time I almost cried at a concert was when I heard “Konstantine” live especially when the audience (including me) sang along to all 9.5 minutes of it.

If you could be my punk rock princess, I would be your garage band king.

After SoCo went on “hiatus” (i.e. they broke up) in 2005-ish, Andrew turned his attention to his side project, Jack’s Mannequin.  This was when – after a friend made me listen to “Bruised” in grade 11 – I was first introduced to his wonderful lyrical story-telling. It remains one of my most favourite songs of all time. To be honest, I don’t think I really listened to the rest of his songs at the time (except maybe “Dark Blue” and “Miss Delaney”), but when I finally listened to the first Jack’s album, Everything in Transit, in full, I was hooked. I saw Jack’s live in January 2012 and lost my mind so many times, I can’t even tell you.

Have you ever been alone in a crowded room?

At the end of last summer, Andrew retired “Jack’s Mannequin” and decided to release music under his own name. So far, he’s put out one 4-song EP this year, “The Pop Underground”. Much to my delight, when he went on tour supporting O.A.R., he played a solo show in Toronto (he played songs from all 3 of his incarnations). This was in early July – July 8th, exactly. I’ll probably never forget that show because it was the day of the huge storm  – you know, the one that resulted in subway stations being flooded? – which I walked through, because there was no way I was going to miss him. And even though I was soaked to the bone, and it took 3 days for my shoes to dry…it was a completely worth it.

I see colours when I hear your voice.

One of the best parts of any Andrew McMahon show – regardless of which band he’s touring with – is the part where he climbs onto his piano and stomps out the last part of the song with his feet. You would think that playing the piano with your feet would result in unpleasant, discordant noise, but it’s actually delightful, both to hear and to see.

I realize this post has gushed on for a bit, so I’ll wrap it up.

One other amazing aspect of Andrew McMahon is that he successfully defeated leukemia about 8 years ago – right as he left SoCo, shortly after recording “Everything in Transit”. He filmed all the big moments of his illness and released it as a documentary, “Dear Jack”. If you ever need to gain perspective on your life, if you ever feel like it couldn’t get worse, watch it – and realize that he was only 22, battling a terminal disease, but still managed to stay (relatively) optimistic through the whole thing.

Obviously he survived, but I still tear up watching it- especially when he starts losing his hair…

I’m just going to put it out there: Andrew McMahon is a legend.

“Swim for the music that saves you when you’re not so sure you’ll survive.”