Mini Show Reviews: August 2016

Warped Tour Chicago – July 23
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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
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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
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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
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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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Mini Show Reviews: July 2016

Panic! at the Disco and Weezer – July 6

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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

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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.

Mini Show Reviews: June 2016

The Summer Set – May 31

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I’VE MISSED THE SUMMER SET SO MUCH. It had been nearly two years since they were last in Toronto, and they didn’t hold back when it came to putting on the best show they could. I missed the first opening band, but the other two were good: Royal Teeth was like a hybrid of Echosmith and The Summer Set (see “Mais La“), while Handsome Ghost had a The Ready Set-meets-Nick Santino vibe (check out “Graduate“).

When TSS came on, though, I (along with most of the crowd) lost my mind. They played a lot of songs from their most recent album, the addictive Stories for Monday, but also included some of their older stuff, including their first major hit, “Chelsea“, and one of my favourites, “Boomerang“. From the gorgeous opening chords of “Figure Me Out” to the last lines of “Lightning in a Bottle“, they were fantastic – full of energy and genuinely excited to be back on stage. It was the first show in a while where I left the venue, sweaty and voiceless but completely exhilarated.


PVRIS – June 5

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For a band that’s doing their first headlining tour, it’s impressive that PVRIS has managed to sell out almost every city, including Toronto! .

Openers Polyenso, CRUISR, and Lydia were all enjoyable. CRUISR’s sound doesn’t really match their physical appearance, but I kinda liked them (I actually saw them open for The 1975 a couple of years ago, which I did not remember, but “All Over” is really fun). And I’ve seen/heard Lydia before – a lot of their songs are pretty mellow, but they’re quite upbeat during a live show (including a single from Run Wild, their most recent album, “Past Life“).

Because PVRIS only has one album, they pretty much played all of White Noise, plus a new song (“You and I“), and one of their very first songs (“Only Love“). They had a lot of energy and, of course, are super talented, so their set was basically flawless and their growing popularity is much deserved. Plus their lighting and set design was visually appealing, and I loved that Lynn forced everyone to put down their phones for “Holy“, even calling out someone during one of the verses. If you haven’t checked out PVRIS yet, you definitely should!


twenty one pilots – June 7

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It’s hard to believe that the last time I saw twenty one pilots (in September, last year), they played to 3000 people and this time, they stood in front of a crowd of (probably) 15000. I’ve never seen the amphitheatre that packed (I was expecting the seats to be sold out, but holy smokes, even the lawns were crowded!!), but I don’t think anyone left disappointed. TOP was energetic as always, barely pausing in between songs as they played a mix of old and new, including a medley of really old songs (for the die-hard fans) on a mini stage somewhere in the 400 levels and a couple of covers (you haven’t lived till you’ve shouted the words to “My Heart Will Go On” with thousands of other people). We left before their last two songs to make our train on time, but I could hear “Trees” from the parking lot, and it was still incredible. TOP is one of those bands that I started out casually liking and ended up being (borderline) obsessed with – their live shows are phenomenal (the staging/backdrops/lighting alone are worth the price of admission), and I can only imagine that they’ll get bigger and more popular in the next couple of years.

I missed the first opening band, Chef’s Special, but the other band, Mutemath, was decent. Not really my type of music, but I appreciated that Tyler and Josh are fans and were able to tour with a band they really admire. Isn’t that the dream of any musician?

It’s not a break-up, it’s a hiatus

Hello readers of this blog!

Just wanted to update: starting today (June 1st), I won’t be posting as much here, except for the occasional concert or ARC review. I’m dedicating more time to my baby (aka Mind the Gap), so you can find me there pretty much all the time. It’s chock-full of pop culture so if you’ve liked anything I’ve written here, I’m sure you can find something interesting there – including today’s post which is, of course, about The 1975 :)

Thanks for reading!

season two

Mini Review Round-Up: April-May 2016

I haven’t had time to write full reviews of all the books I’ve read recently…actually, I haven’t had a lot of time to read in general! But here are some mini reviews for the last couple of books I read (and didn’t talk about on Mind the Gap).

The Archived – Victoria “V.E.” Schwab

As you may know, I’m obsessed with V.E. Schwab’s Shades of London trilogy (here are my reviews of ADSOM and AGOS), so now I just want to read ALL THE THINGS she’s ever written. I loved the premise of The Archived, and even liked the characters (any love interest who wears guyliner is fine by me), but it took a while to really get going and there were moments where I felt like I had missed something. There was also a plotline that seemed predictable to me, but I liked how it was handled, and I found myself tearing up during some of Mac’s remembered conversations with her beloved grandpa. Even though her writing in this book is still a million times better than mine on a good day, it’s interesting to see how an author’s command over words can change over the years/books. (Rating: 4 interrobangs)

Highly Inappropriate Tales for Young People – Douglas Coupland and Graham Roumieu

I decided to read this one because Douglas Coupland was going to be at my work and I figured I may as well give his writing a shot in case I ended up becoming his biggest fan. Spoiler alert: I did not become his biggest fan. I’ve always sort of suspected that I wouldn’t be into his style, but it was a quick read so I didn’t dwell on it for too long – just long enough to know that Sandra the babysitter was my favourite story. He’s one of those authors where I get the feeling I’m missing a deeper meaning (heavily veiled satire is not my jam at all). I did like the (occasionally gory) illustrations by Graham Roumieu – they have a Quentin Blakes-meets-Tim Burton vibe which is definitely something I’m into. (Rating: 3 interrobangs)

The Bartimaeus Trilogy: The Amulet of Samarkand – Jonathan Stroud

This was the first Jonathan Stroud book I read (13 years ago!! Literally half my life!!) and I remember being floored by how amazing it was. Thankfully, it lived up to my memories (this is the first time I’ve reread it in ages) and reminded me of why I became a Stroud fangirl in the first place (you may recall that I gush about his Lockwood & Co series all the time). Personally, I love how sarcastic Bartimaeus is, and Nathaniel’s cold detachement makes him an interesting – if not always likeable – protagonist. I’m just about done the second book now, so maybe I’ll do a full series review in a month or so. (Rating: 5 interrobangs)

The Knife of Never Letting Go – Patrick Ness

This book has won eleven billion awards and is super hyped up in the YA book community, but I was so underwhelmed. It took over 100 pages for anything good to happen…and, in this case, “good” is relative. I didn’t love the style (phonetic spelling in books will always drive me bonkers until it’s being used to denote an accent…and even then it can get old quickly), I couldn’t connect with any of the characters, and, while I find a dog talking about poo as funny as the next person, after the seventh time Manchee said “Poo, Todd?” it stopped being entertaining. I know people love this book, but I was so disappointed, possibly because it’s dystopian (aka my least favourite genre). With a series name like “Chaos Walking”, I expected something so much more epic. (Rating: 2.5 interrobangs)

Mini Show Reviews: May 2016

Since I’ve been to a couple (well, three) shows in the past week-and-a-half, I decided to write mini reviews rather than dedicate a full post to each one.

Pearl Jam – May 12

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My sister and I bought these tickets for our dad (who really only goes to shows if one/both of us is with him) since he’s been listening to Pearl Jam for years. I have to admit that I only knew a handful of songs on the setlist, but that didn’t stop us from having a good time – you gotta love some nineties grunge/alternative. A personal highlight for me was “Daughter“, which I like warbling at my dad, and when they surprisingly played “Last Kiss” (if you ever want to feel sad, listen to that song). For a bunch of “old” dudes (the band has been around literally as long as I’ve been alive), they had a lot of energy and played for over two hours straight with maybe a five minute break before the encore. My dad also loves that Eddie Vedder swigs from a bottle of wine while on stage, but miraculously is still coherent (well, mostly – we had a hard time understanding him, but it could have been our nosebleed seats). They’re also some pretty stand-up guys: they mentioned a couple of benefits they’re working with, not to mention the fact that some of the proceeds from their show were going to Alberta to help for the Fort McMurray fires.


Enter Shikari – May 19

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Admittedly, one of the reasons I was stoked for this show was the opening band – those wonderful Australian chaps, Hands Like Houses – but Enter Shikari were brilliant as well.

HLH’s set was short but tight, and I can only imagine how insane their headlining shows are. They’re so full of energy and the setlist – mostly tracks from their recent album, Dissonants, including the epic “I Am” – flows together really well.

I also found myself really getting into ES this time around. One thing I like about them is the combination of some of my favourite musical elements: a sick beat and some unclean vocals. They didn’t stop to chat too much (though there was one hilarious moment involving a crowd-surfer who lost his shoe), but powered their way through their set, playing some tracks off of The Mindsweep such as “Anaesthetist” and older tunes including “Solidarity“, plus their new single, “Redshift“. The crowds are always so wild during an ES show, so I tend to sit on the balcony if I can manage it, but I do think it’s about time for them to be ungraded to a bigger venue (it was hot as balls in the club because of all the people).

P.S. You can read my interview with front-man Rou Reynolds for idobi radio here!


The 1975 – May 201975This was our fourth time seeing these English gents, first time since they released their second album, and the show was, of course, amazing. Matty’s gotten a bit chattier since that first time they played in Canada, but they genuinely seemed to be having fun. Their drummer had been injured about a week or so ago, so they had a replacement – but you could barely tell he wasn’t an original member because they sounded so put-together. It’s also wonderful to see the way they’ve grown as a band, both in terms of their sound and the tightness of their set, but also their popularity: they went from playing to 600 people in 2013 to 5000 people in 2016, which is pretty impressive. Of course I loved the older songs – “Chocolate”, “Robbers”, and “Sex”, in particular – but the new songs were also beautiful – especially my faves off the album, “A Change of Heart“, and “UGH!“. They also paid a mini tribute to their original fans with “Fallingforyou“, a song off of one of their first EPs.

If you get a chance to see The 1975 live, do it! They’re completely worth the money (and the hype)!

Arc Review: Mer-Charmer – Amy Bearce

Mer-Charmer – Amy Bearce

cover1000Fourteen-year-old Phoebe Quinn is surrounded by magic, but she can’t muster any of her own. Her sister is a fairy keeper. Her best friends are merfolk. And all she does is dishes and housework.

When Phoebe finds out a terrible sea creature is awakening that preys upon the peace-loving merfolk, she becomes determined to help them, even though it means going with Tristan and Mina to their home deep in the sea.

Beneath the waves, Phoebe learns she’s more like her sister than she realized. The merfolk are drawn to her, and she can sense the magic of the sea all around her. Magic is finally at her fingertips, but that’s precisely why the stirring dark power under the waters decides it wants her most of all.

Now she must not only help the peaceful merfolk escape this ancient enemy, she must master her out-of-control powers. If she fails, she will die and darkness will rise and enslave the merfolk once more. But embracing her full power could cost her the very people she loves the most.

Release Date: May 9th, 2016

Thank you to Curiosity Quills for providing a free copy in exchange for an honest review!

If this cover looks familiar to you, it’s because I helped host a cover reveal for it in March. Last year, I also read the first book in the World of Aluvia series, Fairy Keeper.

Maybe I just wasn’t in the right mood, but I didn’t like this one as much as the first one. I still enjoyed it, it just took me longer than it should have to finish.

What I liked:

-the plot. It has a bit of a The Little Mermaid vibe except in reverse. Phoebe, who was rescued by merfolk at the end of Fairy Keeper, spends a lot of time hanging out near the water with her mer-friends, Tristan and Mina, while her sister Sierra and their friends (Micah, Corbin, and Nell) are off doing…something. I can’t actually remember what it is they do when they go off adventuring – saving other magical creatures, I think.

-Phoebe and Tristan’s relationship is adorable. They evolve from friends to “more”, but, since they’re still quite young, it’s all very sweet and innocent.

-sea monsters make great villains. They can be very creepy.

What I didn’t like:

-I felt like the story moved quite slow, and I found myself skimming a lot. There was nothing wrong with the writing, but I guess it just wasn’t appealing to me (which is not to say that it was bad, it just didn’t work for me at the time).

Overall, Amy Bearce’s novels fit in that delicate age between middle grade and young adult where the characters are almost in their teens (or are early teens) but are still pretty innocent. I’d recommend this series for kids who read slightly above their age range (11+).

Rating:

4 interrobangs

Who Broke the Teapot?! – Bill Slavin

Who Broke the Teapot?! – Bill Slavin

26109254Mom is very angry. Her very favorite teapot is broken, and no one is ‘fessing up.

Was it Dad, sitting in his underwear reading the paper?
Was it Cat, who was all tangled up in a ball of yarn?
Was it Baby perched in his highchair?
Or is there a surprising twist to this mystery that teaches Mom a little lesson in anger management?

Bill Slavin takes a sly poke at parents in their less-than-finer moments in this funny and energetic story.

Release date: April 26th, 2016

Thanks to Sylvia at Tundra for sending along the book (and some extra goodies!)!

Children’s books and tea are two of my favourite things, so of course I was excited to hear that there was a children’s book about tea coming out! Sure, it’s technically about a teapot, but that’s close enough for me.

Who Broke the Teapot?! is a delightful rhyming mystery: after a raucous morning, Mom comes down to the kitchen only to find that her favourite teapot has been shattered – and now one is willing to admit they were at fault. It would take a Sherlock Holmes type to figure out whodunit…

The story is fairly short, the rhymes sweet and simple. What makes the book stand out are the illustrations: bold and vibrant, Bill Slavin doesn’t hold back when it comes to colour and even texture. This page, for example, shows Kitty tangled in very real looking wool that makes you want to reach out and untangle her. I also love the cutout letters on the second half of the spread – it looks like a colourful ransom note!

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My only issue with the story was one spread where I wasn’t sure which sentence to read first. If I had been reading it to myself, I probably wouldn’t have noticed, but since I was dramatically reading it out loud (in a posh English accent, obviously), I stumbled over the order. After a second read-through, I worked it out and it all flows together nicely.

This will be a fun story to read out loud with children who will delight in shouting “WHO BROKE THE TEAPOT” with increasing volume on every other page (who am I kidding, I also enjoyed having an excuse to shout). Maybe not the best bedtime story, though, because all that yelling may rile them up…

Rating:

4 interrobangs

As a bonus, here’s a recreation of one of my favourite tea-related scenes in all of television history: Sherlock and Moriarty (Moriar-tea!!) in “The Reichenbach Fall“.

Honey, you should see me in a crown

ARC Review: Brave New Girls Anthology

Brave New Girls

22590791This collection of sci-fi stories features brainy young heroines who use their smarts to save the day. Girls who fix robots and construct superhero suits, hack interstellar corporations and build virtual reality platforms. Who experiment with alien chemicals and tinker with time machines. Who defy expectations and tap into their know-how—in the depths of space, or the bounds of dystopia, or the not-too-distant future—to solve despicable crimes, talk to extraterrestrials, and take down powerful villains.

All revenues from sales of this anthology will be donated a scholarship fund through the Society of Women Engineers. Let’s show the world that girls, too, can be tomorrow’s inventors, programmers, scientists, and more.

STORIES BY:

Martin Berman-Gorvine, Paige Daniels, George Ebey, Mary Fan, Kimberly G. Giarratano, Valerie Hunter, Evangeline Jennings, Stephen Kozeniewski, Jason Kucharik, Kate Lansing, Tash McAdam, Kate Moretti, Ursula Osborne, Josh Pritchett, Aimie K. Runyan, Davien Thomas, Lisa Toohey, and Leandra Wallace

With a foreword by Lara Hogan, Senior Engineering Manager at Etsy and author of Designing for Performance

Featuring artwork by Hazel Butler, Ken Dawson, Adrian DeFuria, Evelinn Enoksen, Mary Fan, Christopher Godsoe, Kayla Keeton, Jason Kucharik, Jennifer L. Lopez, Tash McAdam, and Josh Pritchett.

Release Date: June 2nd, 2015

Thank you to the author, Kimberly Giarratano, for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review!

I have to admit I didn’t read the whole anthology (and it’s actually been a couple of months), but I just realized I never got around to reviewing it, so here I am!

I love that the stories inside are focused on girls who are technologically gifted. Whether they live on a different planet, or in an alternate reality where everything is machine-driven, these girls are no pushovers. They use their smarts and are never considered “outsiders” or “nerds” because they happen to know how to code.

I read Kimberly Giarratano’s contribution first, “Graveyard Shift”, and if you’ve read (and liked) any of Kim’s other books, you’ll definitely enjoy the story of hacker-parolee Philly and her cemetery full of holograms. There are also stories of time travel and mini space operas – basically, there’s something for everyone, even if you’re not normally a sci-fi fan. The girls in each story are, for the most part, fleshed out and, in addition to dealing with technological crises, often have to contend with the perils of adolescence.

My only problem with the anthology is the fact that, as someone who isn’t much of a sci-fi reader, there were some terms or concepts that confused me. Usually they were explained over the course of the story, but this occasionally meant that the story slowed down until we were given all the information we needed. Nonetheless, I’m always impressed with people who can write short stories (I generally prefer writing long-form), and these ladies – and gentlemen – did a fine job representing the different STEM aspects.

Read this if you’re feeling the lack of techie girls in YA, or pick it up for the young techie in your own life.

Rating:

4 interrobangs