This one goes out to my closest friends

Welp, The Maine have done it again!

the maine ac

As you may (or may not) recall, one of my very favourite bands, The Maine, put out an excellent album earlier this year called American Candy. It grew on me to an almost obsessive degree, and I’ve listened to it at least once a week since seeing The Maine in early May. Not ones to sit idly by when they can be playing live music, The Maine recently embarked on their second North American tour of the year, only this time, their tour dates were split in half: the Free For All Tour and the American Candy Tour.

the maine

The Free For All, as you would suspect, means that the concert is literally free for anyone – they are quite possibly the first band to attempt such a crazy notion and, so far, it seems to be working in their favour. Unfortunately, the Free For All tour did not extend to Toronto – instead, they played their latest album in full, which I think is actually the better deal.

This was amazing for two reasons: one, because it gives us a chance to hear songs live that they wouldn’t normally play (non-singles like one of my favourites, “Am I Pretty?” or slow songs like “24 Floors”); and two, because one of my best concert memories is seeing The Maine play their third album, Pioneer, in full (December 2011).

They could have just played the album – all 40-something minutes of it – then dropped their instruments and walked away, but, being the extraordinary performers they are, they played the first nine songs in album order then played another six older songs before ending the night with the album closer, “Another Night on Mars”. The club was packed – they played the Mod Club which is the smallest venue I’ve seen them in – and it was sweaty and hot, but man, was it a good time. Despite the people who felt the need to have a drink every ten seconds (which resulted in them walking back and forth to the bar), the crowd was lively and energetic, and the band fed off of it, putting on one heck of a show.

Along for the ride was new band Beach Weather; composed of Nick Santino (formerly of A Rocket to the Moon, he just so happens to be another one of my favourite singer-songwriters), plus dudes from other bands including (possibly) The Technicolors (I honestly don’t remember who the other three guys are).

As I tweeted after their set: I love Nick Santino and I love a sexy bass line and, since Beach Weather has both, I think I might love them too. Check them out for some rock ‘n’ roll vibes!

All in all, I can’t think of a better way to have spent my Labour Day than with some of the hardest working dudes in the business.

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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!

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).

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.

Is it because of my long hair, tattoos and the fact that I don’t care…

I don’t remember how to write regular Music Monday posts since I’ve written concert reviews for the past 5 weeks, so bear with me.

Last weekend, when I saw The Maine, I mentioned seeing Nick Santino. Before Nick went solo, he was the lead singer of the relatively short-lived but still great band, A Rocket to the Moon.

Eric, Nick, Andrew, and Justin. 

During their five official years as a band (2008-2013), they released two full-length studio albums (starting in 2006, Nick released a couple of EPs under the ARTTM banner): 2009’s On Your Side and 2013’s Wild & Free (which was on my top 10 list in December).

It’s hard to classify ARTTM – they’re a little rock & roll, a bit country, a tad alternative, a dash of indie, and – if you listen hard enough – a pinch of pop punk. They were also capable of writing really sad songs, for example, one of my personal favourites, “Like We Used To”:

Will he love you like I loved you? Will he tell you every day? Will he make you feel like you’re invincible with every word he’ll say?

I’ve seen them twice: in 2011 for the On Your Side headlining tour, and then again when they opened for The Maine last June. They put on a fun show – not all their songs are as sad as “Like We Used To” or “Ever Enough” (which is at the bottom of this post). One of the first songs I listened to was “Life of the Party”, which, like the title suggests, is in fact a good party song. Or “Give A Damn” (which is where the post’s title comes from), or – if you’re looking for a lullaby – “Baby Blue Eyes” which I like singing to my nieces even though none of them have blue eyes.

I’m not entirely sure why ARTTM broke up. I think I was too busy flailing around screaming “WHY?” to fully comprehend their break-up statement (actually, I just re-read it and it still doesn’t give a solid reason). I think it was mostly wanting to branch out, make different music, maybe even take a break. I haven’t really kept up with the other band members, but like I mentioned, Nick has gone solo, I imagine Justin has gone back to focusing on his pre-ARTTM band, Brighten, Andrew’s probably drumming for someone else, and Eric seems to spend a lot of time on Twitter, but hasn’t mentioned anything about new music.

It’s always sad when a band breaks up, but at least ARTTM released a great final album and tried to tour as much as possible before calling it quits.

How could we know without searching? Is it ever enough?

*single tear*

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.

https://ne1.wpc.edgecastcdn.net/00077D/fender/images/2013/features/acoustic-custom-shop/gal-nick-santo.jpg

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.