Mini Show Reviews: August 2016

Warped Tour Chicago – July 23
vans-warped-tour-2016-lineup-old-school

Even though Warped didn’t make a Toronto stop this year, I was in Chicago for their date and I truly feel like I finally experienced Warped the way it’s meant to be experienced. There were no delays from bands struggling to cross the border; all the merch was available instead of stuck in transit; and it was so hot, I broke into a sweat just by sitting still (rather than being rained on, which happens every year). We started the day with Young Guns (highly recommend) just after noon and ended the night around 7:30pm with Sum 41 (Canadians represent!) who drew a huge crowd. In between, we saw about a dozen bands total (including partial sets from bands we happened to be passing or who we caught while waiting for the next band), but the highlight for us was The Maine who ALWAYS puts on a stellar show. I’m so glad we got a chance to hit up Warped this year – the summer just isn’t the same without a day at pop punk camp!


Seaway – July 29
seaway

I’ve seen Seaway a couple of times before, but this was their first headlining tour (and they sold out their final date in Toronto!). They’re pure pop punk and I love it: nothing like thrashing around to bangers like “Freak” or “Your Best Friend” on a Friday night. I missed the first two opening bands because I was eating dinner (sidenote: people rave about Sneaky Dee’s but I was quite unimpressed – their nachos weren’t as good as other people would have me believe), but Coldfront was decent. I like how Canadian this tour was!


Nothing But Thieves – August 2
nbt

For something completely non-Canadian, we saw Nothing But Thieves play their first Toronto show ever at the Velvet Underground (I’ve never been there, so that was cool). Opening band Weathers was really good – catchy and decent performers – and the second band, The Unlikely Candidates, were okay, but the singer was greasy in an unpleasant way and it coloured my ability to enjoy them (you know in books when people go to shows and the band is made up of really sleazy dudes? That was this guy). Nothing But Thieves, however, was phenomenal. His voice is so impressive (and very Matt Bellamy) on the album and live he’s even more powerful – check out “Excuse Me” for an example of his range. The highlights, of course, were “Wake Up Call” and “Trip Switch“, but the whole thing was well done and I’d 100% see them again.


blink 182 – August 21
blink

I’ve always wanted to see blink-182 live, and I finally got my chance on the 21st. I was all sorts of stoked when I originally found out that All Time Low was opening for them, and I definitely lost my voice during their set – they played “Six Feet Under the Stars” (the song that made me an ATL fan) which I wasn’t expecting, plus Jack Barakat ran past me halfway through the opening song (“Lost in Stereo“), and I ALMOST touched him. I’ve also heard great things about a live A Day To Remember show, and let me tell you, they did NOT disappoint. They’re literally everything I want in a band (and a little more), and I’m kicking myself for not getting into them sooner, because they’re sooooo good (“2nd Sucks” might be my new favourite song/video/thing in general).

So I was already pretty hyped before blink even came on stage…and while they were good, they weren’t as magnificent as I imagined. I’ve always heard that All Time Low’s stage presence was greatly influenced by blink, but there was no banter, and barely any audience interaction, apart from a handful of sentences thrown out by Mark Hoppus. And while the hits were awesome to sing along to (the crowd was so boisterous, I couldn’t even hear myself during songs like “The Rock Show” and “All the Small Things“), they seemed to be playing them by rote and without any real passion. I also have to say that, while Matt Skiba did a decent job on vocals, it was weird hearing certain songs without Tom DeLonge’s nasally voice, especially that second verse of “I Miss You“. It was still worthwhile seeing pop punk royalty like them, but they were probably more exciting a few years ago. Travis Barker is a MACHINE, though, and watching him drum was definitely the highlight of their set.

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Top 10 Songs

Okay, so I’ve done books and albums, but now I’m challenging myself to come up with the top ten songs that have stayed with me. I didn’t come up with this challenge by myself, it’s something else that’s been going around the Facebook.

This is going to be hard because I can barely pick a favourite song by any one band and I’m going to force myself to not repeat bands (I hate myself already). Some of these aren’t “favourite” songs, but are songs that have influenced/inspired me in some way.

In no particular order:

1) Take Off Your Colours – You Me At Six

Take off your colours, who are you wearing them for?

I originally put “Reckless” on this list, for obvious reasons (mainly the tattoo on my wrist). But then I remembered that I probably wouldn’t have even heard “Reckless” if it hadn’t been for “Take Off Your Colours”.  Finding this song (before seeing YMAS for the first time when they opened for The Academy Is… in November 2009) was the reason I gave those five boys from Surrey a chance. And I’ve never looked back.

2) There’s a Good Reason These Tables Are Numbered Honey, You Just Haven’t Thought of it Yet – Panic! at the Disco

When you’re in black slacks with accentuating off-white pinstripes, whoa-oh; everything goes according to plan.

My love affair with Panic! at the Disco is an ongoing saga. It’s not an exaggeration to say they changed my life, or at the very least, they changed the way I listen to music. This was the first P!ATD song I heard, and it immediately opened my brain to a whole new branch of music that I had previously never explored.

3) All the Small Things – blink-182

Say it ain’t so, I will not go…

When this song came out, I was about 9, and all the other girls in my class made fun of it, while I sat quietly thinking, “I don’t know what he’s singing about, but I flippin’ love it”. If Panic! at the Disco was the band that really cultivated my love for pop-punk, then blink-182 was the band that first planted that particular seed in my heart.

4) Bruised – Jack’s Mannequin

So read your books, but stay out late some nights…

This was the first Andrew McMahon song I ever heard. I owe it so much for introducing me to such an incredible, inspirational singer-songwriter-human. I may not have been a fan since the early days of Something Corporate, but I have faithfully followed Andrew on his musical journey over the past seven years and, as long as he keeps making music, I’ll keep on following him.

5) Color – The Maine

I’m just trying to find some colour in this black and white world…

This isn’t my favourite The Maine song (I have a hard time picking my top 5 TM songs, so I can’t choose just one), but I love the lyrics and the overall sentiment.

6) Slow Down – The Academy Is…

Then we’ll turn it up and we’ll play a little faster…

The first TAI… song I ever heard, it sticks with me because I have such strong memories of hearing it for the first time and learning about this amazing band.

7) Sanctuary – Paradise Fears

Even broken wings can fly away…

The first time I saw Paradise Fears – November 2011 – I remember them playing a great cover of “Stacey’s Mom”, and then, a few songs later, diving into “Sanctuary”. I didn’t know what it was called but it struck a chord with me. By the time I saw them a second time, four months later, I knew that I had stumbled on a very special band. I will never not feel emotional while shouting the words to the “speech”.

8) Bed of Roses – Bon Jovi

I’ve got nothing to prove for it’s you that I’d die to defend…

I spent a lot of time trying to decide which Bon Jovi song would end up on this list. At first I thought “Blood on Blood” because I love how relateable the lyrics are; then I thought “Born to Be My Baby” which is one of my favourites, or “Someday I’ll Be Saturday Night”, which is one of my other favourites. But I ended up with “Bed of Roses” because I have these vague memories of listening to it a lot with my oldest sister, Vanessa, when I was little (it came out when I was about 3).

9) Free Fallin’ – Tom Petty

I wanna free fall, out into nothing, gonna live this world for a while…

I remember loving this song as a kid. I still really like it (sidenote: the cover by The Almost is also excellent). I don’t have any fun stories surrounding this song, but I can definitely remember singing along to it.

10) Take it to the Limit – The Eagles

So put me on a highway, show me a sign…

For most of my life, this song ended every other mixed tape (and later, mixed CD), we listened to on family road-trips. Once, I tried throwing it into the middle of a track list to mix things up, and it just didn’t work. It’s an end-of-the-night sing-along song, and is, essentially, my family’s anthem.

We can live like Jack and Sally if we want

I CAN’T BELIEVE I DIDN’T POST THIS YESTERDAY. Sorry.

The other day, while cleaning my room, I came across one of those “all about me” books (this one was called “Girly Things”). For favourite song (or, as the book called it,  “Songs I <3”), I had written “First Date” by blink-182. I have never been so proud of my younger self than I was at that moment.

I actually remember my first blink experience: it was grade 4 (1999), and “All The Small Things” was playing everywhere. I remember sitting in class, listening to the other girls make fun of it for being “stupid” and “not making any sense”, while I secretly kept thinking “but I really really like this song”. I feel like that moment planted the first pop-punk seeds in my heart.

Around the same time, my eldest sister (Vanessa) started listening to them too. I still have a mixed CD from her with a lot of blink (plus some other bands) that I had on constant repeat for years until I started to branch out and listen to new bands. Oddly enough, most of those “new” bands had been influenced in some way or another by blink (ex: All Time Low).

I can’t (and don’t) claim to be a big blink fan (for one, I’ve never seen them live), but, since their (arguably) most successful album (1999’s Enema of the State) just celebrated 15 years, it was only right to talk about them. I don’t think it’s possible to listen to any pop-punk from the past decade-and-a-half without hearing their effect on the genre in some way.

My favourite blink song, mainly because of the Nightmare Before Christmas reference.