To not have some battle scars is to never have lived

Sometimes I see an opening band and end up becoming just as obsessed (if not more) with them as I am/was with the headling band. Once was seeing You Me At Six open for The Academy Is…(and we ALL KNOW how much I love YMAS); and then it happened again when Paradise Fears opened for The Ready Set.

I’ve talked about PF before, when I saw them for the fifth time in August. Yesterday, I saw them again.

I like how boy-band-esque this picture is: Cole, Sam, Jordan, Marcus (standing), Lucas, and Michael.

The show was at the Hard Luck Bar. I have never been there before and – if Google Maps is to be believed – it technically doesn’t even exist. But I can tell you for a fact that it is a real place. It is also in the sketchiest part of Toronto known to man and I was so scared despite the fact that it was 5pm and still fairly bright outside.

The venue itself is small (probably about 200 people capacity) and has excellent acoustics which is probably why everyone and their brother announced acoustic shows there (I’ll be back there March 1 to see The Maine). Also of note: doors opened at exactly 6! Which was great, except they did a very thorough bag check which took a while to get through (as Ro said “could they have at least bought my purse a drink before violating it?”).

For their “Acoustic and In the Round” tour, Paradise Fears were specifically looking to play intimate venues and – rather than using the actual stage – had set themselves up in the middle of the room on an elevated platform so that they were playing in the middle of their audience.

Opening band, Sunderland, were pretty good: they had a similar vibe as Paradise Fears which made them a good fit. Plus Sam (PF’s lead singer) came bounding out for a guest verse on one of their songs!

PF came out around 7:40 and played straight until 9:20. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a Sam Miller fangirl, but he is honestly is a charming frontman – in between songs, he joked with the crowd and explained that he was purposely trying to make eye contact with everyone and to please not look away even if it was creepy/awkward. Tons of audience interaction, including when they brought up a random fan to sing “Yours Truly”. Towards the end of the set, they played my favourite Battle Scars song, “Lullaby”, which is just as good acoustic as it is plugged-in:

If you’re sleeping alone tonight, let me be your lullaby.

They played a great mix of old and new songs, including a really new one that I don’t remember (though it’s possibly on the extended version of Battle Scars), plus a couple of covers: “Colder Weather” by Zac Brown Band, “Chasing Cars” by Snow Patrol (fans had to vote for a song at the merch table and this won with flying colours…much to my chagrin, since I was pushing for a PF original, “More Than Lust”) and “Photograph” by Nickleback which they referred to as the “Canadian National Anthem”. There was also a beautiful version of “Hallelujah” (featuring verses sung by Cole, Michael, and Jordan) which seamlessly segued into “Sanctuary” (cue the single tear rolling down almost everyone’s faces).

I mentioned this before: the Sanctuary speech – one of the defining moments of every PF show and made more poignant by the size of the room. At one point, Sam sort of leaned away from the mic and I imagine it was a proud moment for him to hear his words chanted back at him with just as much passion and enthusiasm as he usually shows.

After the show, the guys hung out – they called it a “gala” – meeting as many fans as possible. I’ve met Sam before, so this time I made sure to meet the other 5 before circling back to where he stood surrounded by fans. All 6 guys were pleasant and excited and you could see that connecting with fans is one of the things they love (unless they’re all exceptional actors).

I’m already looking forward to the next time they come to town.

This is a call to arms for the poets that are inside of us

I have gone to a lot of concerts in my life. And by “in my life”, I really mean in the last 3-4 years. The band that I’ve seen the most (not including Bon Jovi) as of right now is Paradise Fears [EDIT: I forgot that I’ve actually seen All Time Low and The Summer Set five times each as well. So we’ll say that PF is the the UNSIGNED band I’ve seen the most…and possibly in the shortest amount of time).

As of this past Saturday, I’ve seen Paradise Fears FIVE times (this record will be broken when I see You Me At Six for the sixth time in October). And each time, I love them more.


Aren’t they precious? The red heart in the middle is what they call the “Warrior” heart. It’s always so cute when American bands incorporate the Canadian flag into promo material.

This is their website:

They are genuinely wonderful performers. They have stage presence – they always look like they’re enjoying themselves. It’s sometimes hard to remember that they’re unsigned (though sometimes I think it’s more of a personal choice for them…either that or record labels are completely blind to all this talent).

The first three times I saw them, they were opening for bands I was already a fan of (The Ready Set, The Cab/The Summer Set, and Forever the Sickest Kids). Then in February 2013, they opened for Action Item. And even though I had only heard one Action Item song, I bought tickets because I couldn’t let Paradise Fears pass through Toronto without seeing them.

Finally, this past Saturday, I saw them headline. And they were just as incredible as I remembered. They released their second album “Battle Scars” in June, and it’s already on my list favourite albums of the year, if not of all time.

One of the amazing things about Paradise Fears is that they really get the whole “in my early twenties and unsure about my life” thing. It helps that they’re all quite young (five out of six of them are younger than me by 1-3 years – which that in itself is shocking. They are wise beyond their years). This album was inspirational, which might sound cheesy, but it’s true. The first single, “What Are You Waiting For”, is basically an alternative kid’s answer to “YOLO”. It’s all about living for the moment, taking chances, knowing that one day you’ll look back on your youth and think – as they put it –  “Oh my God, what a life I’ve had”.

Another reason I look forward to their shows (and I know this makes me sound like a fangirl, but I’m okay with that) is their singer, Sam Miller. Most, if not all six, of the band members will hang out after each show to talk and sign and take pictures. And the past three times, I’ve waited excitedly for a chance to meet Sam. Being the singer (and being adorable), he probably has the biggest crowd of (mainly girls) waiting to meet him, but he always spends so much time listening and smiling and expressing such gratitude that we’ve come out to see him. He also gives really good hugs (I’m just saying…).


This is us in February. One of my favourite pictures ever.

While it can be annoying to wait in the crowd of squealing girls, it’s worth it to see how sweet he is when interacting with the fans. I’ve seen him write out lyrics for tattoos, intent of making the letters perfect, or use a phone to record a message to someone who couldn’t make it to the show. I’ve seen teary eyed girls tell him that his lyrics helped them through a rough patch and watched as he hugs them back and tells them he’s so glad he could help, and please stay strong.

I could go on and on about how passionate and talented they are, but I think I’ll just let them speak for themselves. Whenever they perform “Sanctuary”, Sam makes a speech, and one of the best parts of the show is listening to the crowd screaming back these words. For the full speech, here’s the video:

This is the last part of the speech, and it’s my favourite part:

So bring me all the worst of your broken, bruised, insane.
Because that’s the thing with music: when it hits, you feel no pain.
No matter what you did, I promise we forgave it,
When all that’s left is your voice, you’ve got no choice but to raise it.
All you broken hearts, all you dejected dreams,
Just let yourself be free, because even broken wings can fly away.