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Warped Tour Nashville, Round 2

          On average during this summer, I haven’t woken up before 10:30 am. In its entirety, I don’t think I’ve woken up before 5 in the morning at all. But for Warped Tour, we do crazy things, and I’m not the only one. All across Nashville and surrounding areas, people were waking up as early as 4 o’clock (that I know of) to get in line for the renowned festival. The process for me consisted of showering, eating, and checking, double checking, and triple checking our supplies. After we reached our first destination, where we would be carpooling (recommended!) to the fairgrounds.

          We had spent the entire week planning for rain, and with high hopes we expected light showers at the most, so the sprinkling that accompanied our walk at 9 a.m. to the line left us completely unfazed. The two hour wait until gates opened? That was a little more disheartening. Nonetheless, I watched eagerly as the first small, off-the-tour bands started walking the line to sell CDs. The first to approach was Danny from Vanity Strikes, who found his way to us by the matching t-shirt my girlfriend wore. The second took more effort on my part: I had to flag down a member of The Residence to get a listen, but it was worth it.

Danny from Vanity Strikes matching shirts with Lauren!

Danny from Vanity Strikes matching shirts with Lauren! (Photo cred: Vanity Strikes)

          Then word travelled down the line: we were moving to the tunnels and the stadium to hide from potential storms while the Tour finished setting up. The chaos that ensued from that point until we lined up at the gates was fast paced and muggy. By the time we approached the divide between the outside world and Warped Tour, there was no doubt that the rain was going to be a problem. That didn’t stop bands from going out and promoting themselves, like Koo Koo Kanga Roo who carried four foot replicas of their face on poles.
          Gates opened nearly an hour early to make concessions for the incoming weather, and I quickly and frantically found my way around the fairgrounds trying to keep my program from getting wet. My girlfriend and I pick up some flyers and a sign to promote The Nearly Deads as we checked signings and confirmed set times. I went from Keep A Breast to Neck Deep to Music Saves only to end up with Hope For The Day to purchase a wristband for the signing. They were all very nice people and you should look at all the organizations at Warped Tour dedicated to making a difference in the community.
          But as I made my way back to return the sign I was informed that the Nearly Deads had gone on early, just before I arrived! I bolted over there to enjoy the show, making it before the first song was over. Although cut short and without either of the songs I was hoping for, they put on a wonderful, entertaining show. The crowd was even bigger than last year. It’s really exciting to see the evolution of the faces around me as The Nearly Deads get more popular.

Later in the afternoon I got to get a picture with The Nearly Deads and have them sign my shorts!

Later in the afternoon I got to get a picture with The Nearly Deads and have them sign my shorts!

          Because I didn’t want to be up close for Our Last Night, I spent 6$ on a huge snow cone and sat off to the side, so my girlfriend could still see and I could still see. Not fifteen minutes after a warning from my father and seconds before the band walked on stage, the fairgrounds were evacuated. Slowly and stubbornly we made our way up to the banquet hall, a nearby building, for shelter. We made it before the rain began, but others were not so lucky.
          As I relinquished the weight from my feet and began eating my sandwich, people began to walk in with soaked clothes. Some seemed unshaken, simply taking their shirts off to dry and laughing it off. Others walked in shame across the room with makeup and hair dye dripping down their skin. I knew I could have laughed it off, but I couldn’t help the pity I felt toward them. I wanted to reassure them and help, but I had nothing but tissues to offer. Instead I turned my head and tried to be as respectful as possible.

While we waited for the rain to stop

While we waited for the rain to stop

          We were stuck in the building for as long as the rain held us, and it was quickly obvious to everyone that we needed pick me ups and fast. At first, people started to whoop and holler for morale, but that was both annoying and not very effective. So instead they organized a giant game of ninja, which turned into duck duck goose and ended in a giant production of the Campfire Song Song. It took nearly half an hour to squeeze out of there, and I am embarrassed to admit someone had the bright idea of condom balloons. Yes. That happened.
          It was raining as we walked back down to the entrance, and I got stuck with two bags under my poncho, while my girlfriend stood hopelessly in the downpour. We made it back to the bridge, halfway through the venue, before we were turned around again. It was obvious that we weren’t seeing Our Last Night, and the PVRIS signing had been canceled. Things looked increasingly dim, especially after the second evacuation was canceled halfway up the trek.
          All of the set times were changed, most of the signings were abandoned, and the rain kept coming. Mud began to form in the frequent grass pathways, and while I was safe with my combat boots from water and dirt, my girlfriend complained ceaselessly about the struggle. Using the bands that were currently playing, we devised a rough estimate of when every band would be playing. Cutting the bands out that we couldn’t see, we were left with five things: PVRIS, Our Last Night’s signing, Neck Deep, Neck Deep’s signing and Memphis May Fire.
          I have never been more frozen than when Lynn Gunn walked right in front of me to prepare for PVRIS’ set. Part of me wanted to launch forward and tell her how much I admired her and how I wanted to interview her band, but two parts of me were scared, intimidated, and knew she was in a hurry. The water had sent everyone into an anxious, scattered haze and I didn’t want to be that fan. My girlfriend saw her as she rounded the corner and we just looked at each other. That did not just happen.
          Pumped by her appearance, we found a spot in the crowd to see PVRIS. Notable mention to The Beautiful Bodies, whose amazing sound I could hear from the nearest stage! I’ve been to a lot of concerts by now, and I’ve seen lots of live videos. I have never been so impressed by a band’s live performance, and never before have had I thought a band actually sounded better live. But the members all brought so much energy, and I was surprised at Lynn’s vocal flexibility- hearing her live growl was a religious experience. I knew then I was sold for life.

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          As my girlfriend parted for her Our Last Night signing, I waited hesitantly with a small group for Lynn to return from the stage. I couldn’t tell if the others were nervous, but I didn’t want to annoy her, take too long, or interrupt her day. My face was scrunched up in worry, and when she walked out I didn’t know how to react. I waited patiently, spoke to her as a journalist and then waited for everyone else to go before talking to her as a fan. She is one of the most genuine, kind, beautiful people I have met in the scene. Afterwards, I briefly spoke to The Beautiful Bodies, who are also amazingly sweet people.
          Waiting for Neck Deep, I reflected on last year, when I only knew one song that brought me to tears. This year I knew all but one of the songs played, and I was surprised when even my girlfriend who doesn’t like them mentioned she thought they were great live. They are so energetic and interactive. So many people were crowd surfing and reaching for Ben Barlow. I was blown away that the fans were able to sing Laura Whiteside’s part during “A Part of Me”. It was surreal. The members themselves were also really kind when I went to the signing.

          In the hour between the signing and Memphis May Fire’s performance, the pull of exhaustion got heavy and I felt the headache sink in. My boots were caked in mud, my feet were already beginning to bruise (as I’d learn later) and the ground was wet. It was miserable, but I knew that I had to wait it out. I caught the last part of Blessthefall’s set and was amazed at how Beau managed to control two crowds, the one in front of him and the one waiting for Memphis May Fire’s arrival. And honestly, even from the back of the crowd Memphis May Fire put on a great show. Matty Mullins’ clean vocals are absolutely pristine, and the band as a whole gave a wonderful performance despite the long day and late performance. I was very tempted to do some crowd surfing of my own, because it was such a strong impressive pit, but I opted out of it.
          The drive home was done in two parts, the second being where I had to drive. After only eating a sandwich all day, I have never been and will never be so incredible ecstatic to have Wendy’s. Still better than buying food from Warped. All in all it was a really good experience, and if anything, the rain was just a memorable inconvenience. Sleep, however, was inevitable.  
No matter the date, drop a comment about your 2015 Warped Tour experience!
xoxo,
Radium Rollercoaster

all photo credits to Lauren if not specified

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Sleepless Nights

When I began getting into the post-hardcore scene last year, one of the bands I really connected with was Memphis May Fire because of the vocalist Matty Mullins’ lyrics. The first song that stuck with me was “Prove Me Right” because I loved the perspective and how the anger was channeled in a more mature manner- the angry profanity of most bands gets old extremely quick. But that was just one of their songs, and all of them seemed to strike a different chord with me.

I almost hadn’t realized they were working on new material when their second single, “Sleepless Nights”, was released on YouTube. When I heard it, I felt a stronger pull to it than I had any Memphis May Fire song, and it wasn’t the instrumentals. It’s the lyrics, and the way they’re sung that had me captivated when I listened to it.

I’ll try to only highlight my favorite parts- although the whole song is pretty great.

                        “I know that I would never jump,

                        So why can’t I step back from the ledge?”

I really like that part of the verse because I know a lot of people feel this way. Especially as a teenager, when things get difficult you feel yourself being pushed to the limits but you know that you want to keep going, you want to feel happy again. It’s helplessness.

But it’s the first chorus that gets me the most

                       “Why am I terrified of everything I used to love

                        Save me from myself I don’t want to hate who I’ve become

                        Inhale, exhale

                        Why is it so hard to breathe

                        Inhale, exhale

                        Why isn’t this working?!”

There’s something about the uncontrollable emotions that take hold of us sometimes. They change us and shape us, and even when we acknowledge it, it seems like it never gets better.

                      “Tell me that tomorrow when I wake up I’ll be fine,

                        I just want to be myself again

                        I want to know that I’m alive”

It’s a complicated situation to be in as a person, and I was dumbstruck to hear it put down in music with such emotion. The ending surprised me but I really love it.

                       “Please give me peace

                        Give me joy

                        Give me sanity!

                        Give me hope

                        Give me love

                        Give me truth.”

It’s like a plea, and I think the desperate ending is kind of appropriate. I remember just standing there after the song was over, still hearing the words in my head.

I’m really excited to hear Unconditional; Memphis May Fire did great with Challenger but I want to see where they go next.

Xoxo,

Radium Rollercoaster

Album Review: Memphis May Fire’s Challenger

Title: Challenger

Artist: Memphis May Fire

Release Date: June 26th, 2012

Album #: 3

Rating: 8 out of 10

Album Art for "Challenger"

Album Art for “Challenger”

Even after nearly a year, this album proceeds to be one of the top albums on my listening list, for many reasons. I feel that the blend between screams and clean vocals is phenomenal, along with the emotional pull that I get from the lyrics themselves and the great instrumentals really make the album one of the best from 2012 and it’s a great marker of Memphis May Fire’s overall talent and potential. Not that they couldn’t do better, but they definitely raised the bar in my opinion.

Here are a few songs that demonstrate the album’s high points.

Prove Me Right: In what may or may not be a direct attack toward record companies, quite frankly corporations in general or even false individuals, MMF takes a stand for themselves and inspires people to do the same. I think that this song exudes a lot of anger in a very feisty yet serious manner that many people can pull emotion from.

Generation: Hate: With a new generation of technology comes a new generation of hatred and bullying which is found in every facet of the internet. At the same time as degrading these people, MMF attacks their anti-fans and the people that define the term “cyberbullying”.

Alive In The Lights: Everyone who has a dream knows someone else that feels like their only job is to lower the self-esteem of the dreamer until they have nothing left inside of them. MMF takes the understanding of hate and pain into proof that no matter what anyone else says, you are allowed to live your life the way you want and achieve what you want to do.

Miles Away: Many musicians write love songs, but how many can take real emotion and experience and transform it into a non-conforming love song? This song presents a real, unique perspective of a musician torn between music and love, with just barely less fluff. Kellin Quinn’s vocals do not harm this song in my opinion.

All in all I think this album reaches out to this generation of fans in a way that most disconnected bands are failing to do. I would like to see MMF keep moving forward in their music yet stay completely true to themselves and of course their dedicated fans.

All of the tracks on this album are on Rise Records’ Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/user/riserecords/videos?flow=grid&view

Let me know your opinion!

Xoxo,

Radium Rollercoaster

Punk Goes Pop 5: Hit Or Miss?

Last week, a video uploaded by Bryan Stars brought up the question: Why is Punk Goes Pop so popular? “I think it’s because, as music fans who genuinely love like punk music, we don’t understand why people like One Direction and Justin Bieber and all the other garbage we hear on the radio, and we love it when they take songs that everyone else like, and actually make them god. Because then we can actually understand ‘oh that’s why they like it.’”

This is almost the perfect explanation. Punk Goes Pop takes songs that we all know (even if not by choice) and gives them more personality and spice that we personally can relate to because we like these bands. We like to show that our favorite bands can take a Jason Derulo, Lady Gaga (although I am guilty of actually liking her), or even a Miley Cyrus song and give it a bass drop or make it faster, when most pop musicians just can’t take a Breathe Carolina or A Day to Remember song and cover it.

From the first to the fourth I have been in love with 95% of what comes out of Punk Goes Pop. Most of them turn out to be amazing. Reviewing the two released songs of Punk Goes Pop 5, I’m questioning whether or not the album will turn out to be a huge success, or will the masses of “punk” lovers turn away from it?

The first song I listened to was Upon This Dawning’s cover of “Call Me Maybe”. Being unfamiliar with the band, I took a minute to scan through a couple of songs. I have one word: Hardcore. It’s farther away from punk than most rock genres, but that perception was skewered a while ago, so I judge little on that. In a nutshell, this cover is also hardcore. I present this argument: the lyrics themselves were meant for little more than a colorful rock song. The constant screaming leaves little more for Punk Goes Pop fans than to smirk at how much ‘better’ this genre is than pop. Radium…is not impressed.

Memphis May Fire picks up the slack with Grenade. The verses and choruses are a rock-ified version of Bruno Mars’ original, with Matty’s vocals adding personality with vocal runs and the screaming during the bridge’s drop.  The lyrics fit with an angry-yet sensitive rock musician, and the instrumentals are great. I like this cover.

So, with two covers of different styles (and for me, different opinions), and songs from recent radio “Glad You Came” covered by We Came as Romans, “Boyfriend” covered by Issues, and “Payphone” covered by Crown the Empire, and older songs “Billie Jean” covered by Breathe Carolina and “Girls Just Want To Have Fun” covered by The Maine-  this new Punk Goes Pop could go any which direction. What do YOU think?

Xoxo Radium