Year-End Mania is the Key’s survey of the things below the surface that made 2014 awesome. In this installment, contributing photographer Rachel Barrish shares her favorite crowd shots of the year.
So, before I decided I wanted to work in music, I wanted to study people. Their quirks, their wants and desires, why they do the things they do and where those actions come from. Psychology, ya know? Photographing a concert is way more than just getting the perfect angle of the vocalist at the mic, it’s also about the crowd. Concert-goers and festival attendees are what make these events so memorable. How people react to a certain band is super interesting, whether it’s a pop punk band and people are screaming their lungs out, crowd surfing and stage diving, or a favorite singer/songwriter belting out those meaningful, soothing lyrics, feeling like you’re “one with the music” is part of the experience. People are priceless, fans are priceless. Continue reading →
On Saturday night, Dr. Dog treated us to an all-night party at the Mann Skyline Stage sharing the spotlight with Hop Along, The Front Bottoms, and Mac Demarco. At first glance, this line-up sounds like it might not work but as proven by the end of the night, Dr. Dog is open to many sonic adventures, so it only makes sense that in their hometown, they took a chance and exposed their fan base to some music that may go against your average tour promoter’s instincts. Continue reading →
After a special all-sessions edition for the 4th of July holiday, the Indie Rock Hit Parade is back in full force tonight at 10pm on XPN! There’s a little bit of catching up to do, new music-wise, so tune in for brand new tracks from newly released and just-announced albums. We’ll dig into the debut release from the Montreal-based art-punk band Ought, and hear a few of these fine recordings in the mix:
Thursday night the Electric Factory brought out pop punk fans of a new and old generation – “old” meaning the early aughts.
Supporting acts included You Blew It!, The So So Glos and indie punk faves The Front Bottoms. You Blew It! and The So So Glos played uplifting sets, gearing up for the madness that was going to ensue for The Front Bottoms.
The Jersey four-piece rocked out singing numbers off their brand new EP, Rose. Lead singer Brian Sella told the teeming and enthusiastic audience “I can already tell this is going to be one of those shows that I’m going to remember the rest of my life.” He does a great job making a personal connection with the audience, taking selfies with them and making sure to look and smile at every person in his field of view. The band fired off its custom-made wacky waving inflatable flailing-arm man for the last couple of songs, and members of You Blew It! joined them onstage too, thrashing around and jumping on top of one another, picking up cymbal stands and banging them on the floor. And the crowd relished in all of it.
Following the craziness of TFB, headliners Say Anything took the stage. The band is touring is support of their new album Hebrews, out this month on Equal Vision Records. As a big Say Anything fan spiraling back to their album Is a Real Boy, I was hoping to hear all the hits from that record, and was only somewhat satisfied with a few majors fell short. Stand outs from the set included “Spider”, “Wow I can Get Sexual Too” as well as “Do Better” from their self-titled album. During the song “Cemetery”, lead singer Max Bemis’s wife, Sherri Dupree of the pop band Eisley came out to contribute guest vocals along with their adorable daughter, a rock star in the making for sure. Say Anything continued to rock out, led by Bemis’s powerful frontman vibrato. During the encore, he even pulled out an acoustic solo cover of ‘Ol Dirty Bastard’s “Got Your Money”. The evening ended on a high note with every band from the night joining Say Anything on stage to belt out the song, “Belt”. With a lot of friendship, a lot of sweat, and a whole lot of screaming, all of the performing bands put on a rad show that gave everyone in attendance – in the crowd and onstage – an evening to remember.
As it does each final Friday, the Indie Rock Hit Parade gets condensed down to a one-hour ‘Compact’ edition tonight at 11pm on XPN! Stay tuned after Land Of The Lost with Robert Drake for a concentrated dose of new music and a few old favorites, too. We’ll spotlight the new album from Philly’s own Strand Of Oaks, and here a few of these fine selections in the mix as well:
For the past few albums, Philly rock and roll faves Dr. Dog have staged their hometown shows at the Electric Factory, usually selling the place out and more recently on back-to-back nights. While they’ve really begun to own that room and, as I observed in the winter, craft a friendly and familial atmosphere in what is pretty much a big warehouse, the question lingered in the air: when is the band going to take the next step?
Today, we got that answer: as it’s B-Room tour wraps around the country on another leg, Dr. Dog will headline the Skyline Stage at the Mann Center for the Performing Arts on Saturday, September 14th, a setting that couldn’t be more perfect. The capacity is just slightly bigger than the Factory, so it may not be a huge jump, but playing the Skyline is a great gateway to playing the Mann proper – and I can’t wait to see the boys rock (and pack) that house. And also, watching a show in open-air setting in the grove on a breezy late summer Saturday night with the city lights twinkling behind you and Dr. Dog in front of you could not possibly be a more Philly concert. Maybe if the Phanatic showed up again, or The Roots were there, but you get what I’m saying – this is going to be a treat.
Also a treat are the openers: Canadian impresario Mac DeMarco, who cunningly bridges the worlds of lo-fi drum-machine indie / weirdo rock (think Ariel Pink, Animal Collective) with the energy and in-yo-face attitude of mainstream party rock (Andrew W.K.), as well as Jersey’s The Front Bottoms, whose high energy poppy folk-punk is completely infectious and endearing (check out their new Rose EP or their recent Indie Rock Hit Parade session to see). Arrive early, stay late. UPDATE: Holy smokes the first opener is actually amazing Philly art punks Hop Along according to the flyer on Dr. Dog’s Twitter. Freaking out over here.
Our latest Indie Rock Hit Parade session is with a band that we’ve been lucky to be friends with for several years. The Front Bottoms formed back in 2007 and released their self-titled album in 2011. We first met singer/guitarist Brian Sella and drummer Matt Uychich around that time, and we were instantly fans of their funny/sad/wordy/relatable take on punchy, punky rock. Since then, the band has blossomed into a four-piece touring outfit, with Tom Warren on bass and Ciaran O’Donnell on guitar, keys and trumpet. The gang stopped by our studios to play a few songs on one of the last days of their pre-tour break.
The Front Bottoms’ latest release is an EP called Rose. It follows last year’s full-length Talon Of The Hawk not with brand new songs, but with longtime concert staples that had yet to be committed to record. These songs are tested and honed, and play out with the same youthful intensity as the selections from their albums. Three of the songs in this session, “Jim Bogart,” “12 Feet Deep” and “Be Nice To Me,” are all featured on the new EP. Also included is a new song tentatively titled “Fuck, Jobs,” and a masterful take of Talon Of The Hawk highlight “Twin Size Mattress.”
Stream and download the complete Indie Rock Hit Parade Session with The Front Bottoms:
If ever there was an Indie Rock Hit Parade that was not to be missed, it would be all of them (naturally). But tonight’s show, starting at 10pm on XPN, is particularly exciting. We’ve got a brand new Studio Session with our longtime Jersey pals The Front Bottoms, featuring songs from their newly released EP, Rose. We’ll spotlight the impressively moody new album from The Antlers, and hear a smattering of new and emerging artists, including a few of the following:
The Front Bottoms announced this week it will release a new EP, Rose, on June 17th. The EP contains six tracks that were previously unreleased, but are fan favorites, and have been live staples for a few years. The name of the EP is in tribute to drummer Mathew Uychich’s grandmother, Rosemary. This is the first of several EPs the band plans to release named after band members’ grandmothers. The new recordings – which you can get a taste of in the “Jim Bogart” lyric video below – will be released in the midst of the band’s summer tour with Say Anything; catch The Front Bottoms in Philly on June 26th at the Electric Factory. For tickets and more information, go to the XPN Concert Calendar.
Part of the appeal of the annual South By Southwest festival is no doubt wandering from venue to venue in downtown Austin, catching bits of sets by dozens of new bands, seeing where the music and the crowd may lead you.
But there’s something to be said for finding a venue – or party, or showcase, or whatever – with a lineup that’s solid through and through, and just parking yourself there for the night. For me, Brooklyn Vegan’s show at the Red 7 Patio last night was just that. The headlining set by Florida’s Against Me! would have been enough to draw me in – their new rager Transgender Dysphoria Blues is alreadyone of the year’s best, and they were at the top of my bands-to-see list – but they shared the bill with a enticing set of their (mostly) punk scene peers, from Lancaster screamers Placeholder to Jersey popsters The Front Bottoms. And, for the most part, all the acts delivered.
California comedian / musical Harvey Sid Fisher got the night to a light start with a set that was briefly fun and mercifully brief. His shtick is pretty one-note – he’s old, and he’s raunchy, and he sings about raunchy old guy things, and yeah. It’s the kind of humor that wears thin quickly, and while he had the modest crowd chuckling at first (many were still queued up in the alley behind the venue), he wrapped it up as their attention began to wane.
In contrast, Placeholder followed with a full-throttle set that was too brief. These guys might not have the most accessible sound (if you’ve got an aversion to growly vocals, they aren’t for you) but their energy and chemistry are undeniable, and captivating to watch. Frontman Brandon Gepfer is a very physical performer, flinging himself around the stage, into the speakers and his bandmates who reciprocated right back. He told the crowd that they’re used to playing “basements with like ten people,” so this was the biggest gathering they’d played for on tour. Would have been awesome had they played for a little longer, though, since the patio was just filling up when they left the stage, setting the room up for Gainesville’s Frameworks and their melodic spin on late 90s hardcore (a la At The Drive-In, Boy Sets Fire).
Cheap Girls from Lansing, Michigan was the only real disappointing set of the night – their songs are tremendously hooky power pop earworms akin to early Replacements jams, but their stage presence is nil; singer Ian Graham stands at the mic with his eyes closed, Adam Aymor riffs on guitar with his head buried in his hair, and the crowd predictably bobs their heads while checking Twitter on their phones.
The Front Bottoms, on the other hand, are pure interaction – sing/screamalongs, hi-fives, someone buying singer-guitarist Brian Sella a Guinness and daring him to chug it. The audience packed in towards the front of the stage, and became a mass of pushing, shoving, smiling bodies by the time “Twin-Size Mattress” rolled around Amusing aside: a dude in the crowd who books shows in Orlando talked before their set about how he’d never seen or heard of them, but everybody told him they were great. I concurred, and he countered “But they’re acoustic, though?” “Well, he plays an acoustic guitar,” I explained. “But they’re pretty badass.” “Um, I’ll take your word for it,” he replied.
I guess “badass” is relative, considering he might have been there to see brutal hardcore outfit Touche Amore, who absolutely pummeled the stage with their performance that followed – think the physicality of Placeholder, amped up about five times. Think of the sense of tension and catharsis of Converge, Paint it Black or Pissed Jeans. Again, not a sound for everybody, but holy cow what a spectacle to watch.
Wrapping the night around 1 a.m. was Against Me!, playing an hour-plus set highlighting the new LP and digging back through the band’s catalog for sure-fire crowd-pleasers like the title track of 2007′s New Wave and the singalong “I Was A Teenage Anarchist” from 2010′s White Crosses. The crowd that had begun to dwindle slightly – it was a super chilly night for an outdoor show – but the people who stayed were massive enthusiasts on par with the devotion The Front Bottoms and Touche Amore saw, slamming and swaying and screaming along.
Since singer-guitarist Laura Jane Grace came out as transgender in 2012, the band kind of went into reset mode: as she said in a Spin interview back in January, the path to the new album almost destroyed Against Me!, but with the enlistment of new players and perhaps her tightest collection of songs – the album is simultaneously anthemic, provocative, insightful and massively catchy – the band persevered. The patio was a smaller space than Against Me! has probably performed at in a long while, but if the reception the band saw – and the energy it brought to the stage - is any indication, it will prove to be a rare occurrence. Check out photo highlights and a full-show gallery below. Continue reading →