I’m down, down, but definitely not out [re-direct to idobi]

One of my last minute additions to my London trip this past month was the You Me At Six benefit show for their friends in The Ghost Inside, who were involved in a horrible accident in November. You can click here to read my full review of the small, sweaty, intimate, and totally awesome show, but – spoiler alert – I’m a massive YMAS fan, so of course I loved every second of it!

The_Ghost_Inside_Benefit

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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!

Everybody’s dancing and I want to die

Old Souls, Deaf Havana’s 2013 release, is quickly becoming one of my favourite go-to albums.

It’s been out for a bit over a year (technically it wasn’t released in Canada until January 2014, but I picked up a copy when I was in London last December), and it’s been growing on me ever since.

It’s very different from their first album, 2009’s Meet Me Halfway, At Least – you know, the one that’s somewhat screamy? – but it shows the band’s progression; I would say they’ve finally found their sound. I can’t really think of any other way to describe it apart from “alternative” – you’d have to listen to it to see what I mean. They also have great, meaningful lyrics (once you decipher them, because sometimes I can’t figure out what James is saying).

I was lucky enough to see Deaf Havana twice: first, opening for You Me At Six at Wembley in December 2012, and then again when they played their first Canadian show ever in February this year. I was supposed to see them in May (supporting You Me At Six), but when the tour was postponed until October, DH was unfortunately unable to rearrange their own touring schedule. I’m anxiously waiting for them to come back, and I hope that, one day, they get the attention they deserve in North America (they’re already huge in the UK).

My top three songs:

It just seems, seems like we lost a friend. It feels like the end. 

Another year without a friend, another year where I just close my eyes and dance inside my head.

But I saw the words that you wrote down, on the back of your book in the room where we spent our days.

We’re all fools and worthless liars

This past Saturday, we witnessed Deaf Havana playing their first ever Canadian show.

Lee, Matthew, James, Chris, Tom, and Max.

We saw Deaf Havana open for You Me At Six at Wembley in December 2012 and I quite enjoyed them (they’re really popular in the UK). So when they announced that they were finally coming to North America, I was pretty excited – especially when I found out the Toronto show was a headlining show, and not just a short opening set (they’ve been touring the US with Ash for the past month).

The show was at the Rivoli. I had never been there, but, after eating dinner in their restaurant portion before the show, I highly recommend their Long Island Iced Teas. The venue is small (capacity is apparently 200 people) but since there isn’t really a backstage, the band was literally walking through the crowd to get on stage.

Two local bands opened: Friday Night Trend were decent but I refuse to support them because they (particularly their drummer) insisted on walking back and forth, shoving agressively through the crowd, while Deaf Havana was playing, which is a really douchey move. The second band, Auckland (also local), were pretty good – they have a bit of a Two Door Cinema Club vibe (that’s a good thing).

Deaf Havana didn’t go on until about 10:45pm and they played until just after midnight. The whole band was very grateful the entire time. As I mentioned, it was their first time in Canada, and to have the show sell out was a huge achievement for them (it was 19+ and sold out the day of; if it had been all ages, it probably would have sold out earlier).

We are sick and we are tired. We’re all fools and worthless liars. Young and unemployable, lonely, drunk, and beautiful, we’re so sick and oh so tired.

One of the bonuses of playing a small room is that band-audience interaction is very easy. So, at the end of the night, before they played “Mildred” (which I was really looking forward to ), half the crowd shouted requests for “Nicotine And Alcohol Saved My Life” (off of 2009’s Meet Me Halfway At Least) and, despite not having played it live in almost two years, they obliged. Which was pretty cool, because not a lot of bands would take requests from a crowd.

It just seems, seems like we lost a friend. It feels like the end. 

There was another song someone had requested before the show (I can’t remember which one – one of the older songs), and James insisted on playing it while the other band members drank beers and loitered around on stage. He also lead the audience in a loud rendition of “Happy Birthday” for their drummer, Tom.

DH are one of those bands where I forget how much I enjoy them until I listen to them again. They’re also one of those bands who sound so good live, it makes you wonder why you didn’t listen to them earlier. As we were leaving, I overheard Tom tell someone they would be back in May…and I for one, will definitely be in the audience for them.

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!