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A Lucky Friday the 13th

Three years ago I met a five member band called Tell Romeo i Hate Him at Rocketown, and promised to myself and to them that I would be quick about interviewing them. Time passed, and that never happened. Now, four of those boys (plus a new face, Bryant!) are Jet Black Alley Cat, and I had the immense pleasure of finally seeing them (Warped Tour 2014 doesn’t count!) in all their glory at The End in Nashville. And just like when “Poison” came out, I was not prepared for this show.
It’s an unpleasant truth, but I can’t remember being to a show where I genuinely enjoyed every single band, until now. I walked home with all four of their CD’s, and everyone who has been in the car with me at all in the last week knows that I’ve overplayed them already. I absolutely adored everyone who played.

Band: Dream Chief
Highlight: They are cousins!
Favorite song: “Electricity”
Dream Chief was a great band to start the night with, the duo made a perfect opener because they provided the atmosphere without having a demanding sound. Those not ready to dance could enjoy the music just by swaying.

They have an electro-pop sound that I would argue is even better in person. Every song was different, and I think that helped the crowd get more comfortable with what they would be seeing that night. I loved seeing John and Luke switch on the vocals and both of them handled different sound effects. It was really effective, in my opinion.

They played all four songs off of their Movement EP: “IDK Why”, “Math”, “Electricity” and “Who Knows”. All of these songs are really catchy: they can be head bobbing material or full out dancing if you feel adventurous.

Band: Charge The Atlantic
Highlight: They played a cover of “Shut Up and Dance”!
Favorite song: “Work Suit”

The first thing I thought about Charge The Atlantic was: “Someone told them they could be anything, so they did!”

They have a sound that is nearly impossible to label, unless “Funk // Rock // Reggae” works for you, which is proclaimed on their Facebook. At first I was apprehensive of the way they switched their sound around a lot. “Let It In” was a good first song, though, because it seemed the most shocking. The more songs they played, the more I enjoyed listening to them. They were so full of energy and style.

I loved that they brought Ty Christian, who features on “Work Suit” out to sing with them. I did not expect what was coming next, but I heard just a few notes of the guitar before I started jumping around. Some venues and audiences are really picky about covers, but their “Shut Up and Dance” was on point and created a peak moment in the crowd.

They brought more than just good music to the stage, though. The showmanship (and energy) required to make a several minute long bass vs drum solo entertaining is really outstanding. I was completely sold when they closed their set.

Band: Vega
Highlight: The lights!
Favorite song: “Vices”

This band had my attention from the moment they assembled four box-high towers of different colored lights on stage. A “Rock | Soul” group, Vega seemed to fit right in with the first two acts while remaining wildly different. There’s something so alluring to their music, something dramatic that makes it so fun to listen to. They are high energy without being overwhelming, and at this point I was so ready to dance the way the music made me feel. Even the slower song, “Wild and Young” was compelling and fun to sing and sway along to.

Band: Jet Black Alley Cat
Highlight: All of it!
Favorite song: “High Class Women” definitely, or “Parking Lots”, or “Roxy’, or “Poison”…or “Memphis Blues”!

Jet Black Alley Cat will be your new aesthetic.

Seeing Joe walk on stage, channeling Brendon Urie with a gold shirt to match his microphone and stand and a disco ball in the back of the stage was almost too much. It’s such a transition from what I remembered, in a direction that is so good and so right for them. No one else has the sound that they do.

Their performance energy was so high and the crowd was so engaged in each and every song. Watching all of them, but most of all Joe, move around stage with such passion made me even more engaged in their music- which is very good music, mind you.

“Vintage / Rock / Pop / Groove / Dance / Cinema” is a pretty good summation, actually. Their music is great, but what is addictive is the way they perform it. I knew I loved them before, but seeing a full proper set with JBAC in all their glory was in short, an Experience.

Oh, and I caught (well, retrieved when it slid offstage) a drumstick!


Perhaps the most important thing about all of these bands, though was that they were all very kind to me when I stopped to talk to them or ask for photos. The life of musician is demanding in so many regards, but I think in Nashville is really depends on the people to keep their fans. All of these bands had the talent and the showmanship, but that means very little with a bad personality.

My only regret, in all honesty, is not having more money for merchandise.

So, if you get the chance, listen to each of these bands. And don’t stop at one song either. They are all more than worthy of your time.

I hope to see them soon, and hope you do the same!

xoxo

Radium Rollercoaster

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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

What I Expect From Warped Tour 2015

Last year was my first Warped Tour experience, and while I made it through alive, I missed several opportunities that I wish I hadn’t, and this year I’ve made sure to be more prepared. Experience is wisdom, and all of that. Well, something like that.


The Experience
Entering the line last year I learned two things: it is going to be awhile, and talking to people is the best thing you can do. You learn who is there for what band (sometimes the same bands you’re there for) and you meet the “starving artist” bands who are playing their music through headphones and boom boxes alike. Don’t push those musicians away. Listen to their music, buy it if you like it, and support them. They will appreciate you and you’ll thank yourself later.
If you’re there for bigger bands and your 5’4, you’re going to have a problem. If I wanted to see a bigger “Unicorn” or “Shark” band (the Kia stages in 2014), I would either have to get there early or settle for not being able to see…anything. I was ten minutes late to Mayday Parade and couldn’t see above everyone, and when a band sounds just as good as the record, it’s less enjoyable just to sit around listening to them. And when you’re that small, it’s actually very hard to push your way through the crowd.
The first thing you do is check set times. The second thing you do is check meet and greet times. There are some bands that meet within the first few hours and if you put off checking you’ll miss them entirely. This is what happened to me when I wanted to meet The Summer Set and it’s one of my biggest regrets of that day.
Obviously, bring a good sized water bottle and eat before. The food isn’t worth the money, and you’ll end up spending it all on bands anyway. Don’t forget sunscreen, and tell people when you like their shirt or hair. It’s a good feeling.


The Bands
At this point in my life, big bands are not even exciting to me. I like being in the front of a crowd, I like being able to wave at the band and I like supporting bands who aren’t that big. Yeah they’re good and popular, but that’s exactly why I don’t care. I’ve heard about them, I’ve heard them, maybe I’ll stop by. What I want to see is the ones that aren’t household Warped Tour names.
PVRIS (pronounced Paris)


Fronted by Lynn Gunn, this band captured my interest by being female fronted, first and foremost. The first song I listened to, “My House” immediately set the band on a different level from the long list of Paramore sounding pop-punk bands led by girls that I had been overexposed to. The electronic feel of the song and Lynn’s powerful voice made it easy for me to enjoy the song. But after listening to the rest of White Noise, I realized something with fear. The sound, while different from other bands, is really similar throughout PVRIS’s music, and Lynn’s lyrics have repetitive themes making it hard to be wholly interested in the band.


The only thing that could save them for me is their stage performance. Most bands stay forgettable, hidden in my music library because they left no impression on me. PVRIS gets the chance of impressing me, and I hope they do. Their music is good, but I’m not sure that I’m ready to dedicate myself as a fan of the band (I’ll be a fan of Lynn and her girlfriend though). We will see.
Neck Deep


Last year, when I went to see Neck Deep, a pop-punk band out of the UK, I only knew one song. I waited awkwardly through songs I had never heard before to hear “A Part Of Me”. I was not disappointed by the energy they brought, and when that song came on I couldn’t do much but stand there and cry. I had been moved by the song one night in a hotel bathroom and since then it had resonated with me. I went and bought a CD and took it home with me. While not every Neck Deep song appeals to me- some are too chaotic and hard to follow-, the ones I enjoy mean a lot to me now.

More familiar with their music, I am prepared to be part of the moving audience and energetic experience of seeing them live. I hope to meet them and get another CD. The style isn’t for everyone, and the accent can be off putting, but for me it was never a question. I definitely enjoy them and expect a lot out of them again this time around.

BONUS:


TAT

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From the featured music video, “Road To Paradise” alone, I’m beyond excited to see what else British punk-rock trio has in store. The beginning of the video addresses the sexism of the music scene with “but why do you want a drummer good especially for a girl you just want a good drummer” and that’s where I was sold for their personality. I was happy to know that Tatiana could bring that tough and sassy personality into their music. Another unique female-fronted sound that hopefully won’t disappoint live.


Our Last Night

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Usually I would pay no attention to a post hardcore band playing Warped Tour unless I was already familiar with them, but after seeing how excited my girlfriend was about their appearance I decided I would take the time to acquaint myself with them. The first thing I noticed is the way they blend. The clean vocals are not unbearably contrasting to the screams; the range is just as good by any but it’s less…feminine, dare I say, than other bands. In “A World Divided” the beautiful introduction and melodic verses flow just as well as the breakdown; I don’t feel like I’m being whiplashed or overwhelmed at any point. A band with such good intentions and such a great sound should have a great stage presence to match. I’m sure they will.


The Nearly Deads
It’s no secret that I am extremely biased toward the Nearly Deads and have been since meeting them in 2012, but after a nationwide tour this year they’ve grown to be a big name in the scene, and Warped Tour is always a good opportunity for bands that are gaining speed. The “polished grunge” group may quickly overshadow female fronted bands that paved the way for the sound they’re dominating. It’s a plus that they give a great performance and are incredibly nice people!

That sums them up. There you go.

As always, I never put it out of my mind that there will be other bands there that I will stop to hear and fall in love with. Last year it was Beebs and Her Moneymakers. This year, who knows.
If you see me there, say hi and support a band!
xoxo,
Radium Rollercoaster

Rocketown Continued: Part Two!

You’re back for part two of my adventure: the behind-the-scenes. I hail from a small town, and I’m still hailing from said small town. Going to my first concert? Mind blowing. Going to my second with my best friend? Awesome. Going to Journeys Backyard BBQ? Life changing. But the behind-the-scenes of my day at Rocketown was absolutely pure magic. I found out after Satellites and Sirens were finished that the Nearly Deads wanted me to go out for the interview.

            Only the bands were allowed out, but we got to go past security because we were with the band. How many teenagers actually get to say that? It took us awhile to get the light set up just right, but we got it done! After the interview, we just stood around and talked. As little as that seems to entail to most people, it’s cool to see that a great band is so down to earth. Romeo had walked out not much later, and the security guard gave up and went inside.      

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            I went to talk to the first person I saw, the singer of Romeo. He- Joe- was very totally eager to go ahead and check out my website. It just added to how awesome the band seemed! Romeo seemed young for a band that seemed to have it on the right path, and it was really cool to be able to talk to him. I decided to go ahead and also chat with the other members (not including their drummer Cameron, who had already left) of Romeo. Christian, Cris, and Zach were super funny and extremely nice. I was offered a cookie…from a cup!

            The bottom line was I got to be part of two great bands, and actually talk to them like humans. Most people forget about very famous bands, that they are still just humans. I look at them and see people that fulfill dreams that I’m still realizing, and it seems too far away until I just take a step forward and start talking. Both bands are humble and love talking to fans. I’ll be back eventually to interview Romeo. I wouldn’t miss that for anything.

            There is only one part left. You ready? Come back tomorrow!

            XoXo Radium Rollercoaster

Rocketown: Part One

I believe there is only one way to do this: the show, the behind-the-scenes, and the interview. You may ask yourself, “What is THIS?” And in response I will tell you, this is an adventure. I ask you to follow me as I bring you through June 17th, 2012, in Nashville Tennessee. This day was not only Father’s Day, but something beyond my imagination. This was when The Nearly Deads, Tell Romeo I Hate Him, Satellites and Sirens, and The Wedding all played in a small area called Rocketown. I had never heard of it, but being able to meet up with the Nearly Deads was a chance I wouldn’t miss.

But that’s part three. The first part is the show. I got there 20 minutes late, worrying that we missed the first band, but later learned we were 40 minutes before the first band. So I stopped to talk to the Nearly Deads (Kevin greeted us first, and TJ was soon to follow), and checked out the rest of the bands’ booths. All seemed eager for even a teenager like        me to interview their bands. I felt very encouraged and in time it seemed like a normal routine.

The venue was small, but was only filled with like 35 people. It was a new, interesting environment, almost like an underground concert. The first band to go on was Tell Romeo I Hate Him- whom I refer to as Romeo for short. Romeo got on stage, and I had to cross the whole room to get up front when I heard them start playing. They had a great first impression on me, with amazing guitar, an all around bouncy personality, and hard, skilled drums. When the singer started doing his stuff, it was so easy for me to get into the music.

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They had a great set list, and their stage presence was wonderful. They kept their energy constant, played a diverse amount of music, and made awesome conversation when changing songs. I was more than happy to stand and watch them. The Nearly Deads went on afterwards. I felt special, because knew I had something the others at the venue didn’t: a connection to the band. I talked to TJ as she set up, and stood center front as they jammed.

My favorite Nearly Deads song is the first song I ever heard by them, “Fact And Friction”. It has an enticing (yes, enticing!) piano intro played by TJ and is full of energy. Its buildup is nice and easy, and the chorus just hits you with inspiration. Now that I had listened to the song maybe a hundred times, I happily sang along. I was maybe too over enthusiastic. However, my sister got a new shirt! The other people in the audience seemed more than content to listen to them as well. They performed well as always.

The next band to go on was Satellites and Sirens, an electro-rock band. Their sound was totally unique, and a huge group of young men were having a lot of fun listening to them. Their bass player of old returned for one night when their new one couldn’t make it, which was interesting. The voice of the singer did not seem apropos from someone such as himself, if you judged by looks. The whole band had a strange image. I enjoyed it to a point, and they were good, but not overly impressive to me. Their guitar was pretty repetitive and there wasn’t much buildup or variety.

I did not get to see The Wedding, and I wish I had, but the things that conspired afterwards were quite worth missing the main event. Do you want to know? Are you sure you want to know? Alright, I’ll tell you…Next time! Come back tomorrow and I will tell you about part two!

XoXo Radium Rollercoaster