Sunday, December 28, 2008

How to Attend an Indie Rock Concert

No one is born well-versed in the music scene. It is a skill that can only be developed with time and observation. Did a friend invite you to hear "this new band" but afraid to go because you'll look out of place and awkward? Nobody wants that, especially me. These quick tips make it easier for one to slip into the music scene and leave behind that "out-of-place" feeling.

Things You'll Need
  • money for tickets/transportation (most local shows run under $20, and venues are usually easily accessible in major cities).
  • spending cash for after the show/at the bar (dehydration is a significant factor)
  • comfortable, breathable clothing
  • at least one accessory that can be considered "hipster" "indie" or "emo" (scarves work the best, visible tattoos a plus.)
  • an open mind

Step One
Be knowledgeable about the band playing. Most every band has a myspace music page; check out their profile before the show. Listen to the songs posted, and try to remember your favorite one. When (or if) they play it, you can turn to your friend/date/whomever and say "this is my favorite song!" They'll be so impressed, they'll think you've been doing this for years. Fun facts about the band never hurt either. For instance, while the band is setting up, you can make casual conversation by saying, "did you know the lead singer has been vegan for seven years?"

Step Two
Take your wardrobe into consideration. If you don't want to feel out of place, I'd skip the khakis and polo. Skinny legs and V-necks are musts at most shows. Bold colors work best (the more neon, the better). Hair is usually dramatically swept to one side, and disheveled. Flats and Chuck Taylors are the most acceptable footwear. As noted in the "Things You'll Need" section, accessories don't hurt. Scarves, chunky bracelets, facial piercings and sleeve tattoos are commonplace.

Step Three
Be organized and observant. Most concert-goers will have an "I don't care" feel to them, but this is a lie, and a strategically practiced attitude. Have tickets (or money ready) well before the show, and secure the location of the club or venue (it's always a good idea to call ahead and confirm when the band takes the stage). Walk around the venue. Be sure to locate the bathroom, bar, merch table, and band entrance (this may be the best place to catch a quick conversation). Avoid carrying a large bag/purse in with you, as you may not leave with it. Store all cell phones, cameras and cash in your pockets, and check them frequently.

Step Four
Show an appropriate amount of enthusiasm. As you will notice along the course of your indie rock concert adventure, the die-hards will push into front row and may form a mosh-pit. It is strongly advised to stay away from this area. The sides of the stage usually remain mellow, or the back of the venue may prove easier for conversation. Singing and dancing are encouraged to an extent, but this is not an NSync concert. Nod along and clap after songs; lighters and cell phones usually come out during slower numbers.

Step Five
Hang around after the show. The band will more than likely talk to fans afterwards. Walk around the venue outside; normally, word gets out where a band is greeting fans and a small dedicated group will already be gathered. This is your moment to observe and learn more about the scene, or even make new friends. Conversations with strangers prove easier when everyone is still on a post-concert high and anticipating meeting the band. If the band does come out, strike up an interesting conversation ("there's this great vegan restaurant downtown"). Some bands will hang out afterwards at bars, clubs, or even house parties. Keep your ears and eyes open, and you may be partying with the band that night. At that point: congratulations, you have successfully assimilated into the music scene.

Tips & Warnings
  • Remember: comfortable, closed-toed shoes! Crammed crowds are the best places to get smashed toes.
  • You will sweat, so heavy-antiperspirant is recommended.
  • Be early! You may just catch the band walking around.
  • Music WILL be loud
  • You WILL reek of smoke afterwards
  • You WILL want a cold drink and a hot shower afterwards

Sunday, December 14, 2008

A CD in Review: Folie A Deux

1. Disloyal Order Of Water Buffaloes - fantastic opener. It's reminiscent to Thriller, in that it's got the same feel musically. I love the hook so much, and the chanting "detox, just to retox."

2. I Don't Care - I love this song even more after hearing the whole CD. There's a thing about FAD where every song sort of fits in nicely, and musically this song is still so good. This is seriously a CD of chugging rock anthems.

3.She's My Winona - I still love the opening chords every time I hear it. Super-catchy song. Not my favorite lyrically (the thunder?) but I'll judge lyrics more once I have the booklet to read what Patrick is actually singing. (also into cats, anyone?)

4. America's Suitehearts - I like the little groove it's got to it and the huge chorus; I think this'll do nicely as a second single; it's definitely a radio song. My favorite part is still the "let's hear it forrr" at the end of the song.

5. Headfirst Slide Into Cooperstown On A Bad Bet - quite possibly one of my favorite fob songs ever. Since I've played it out so much it's lost a little shine, but when Patrick comes in yelling "Does your husband know?" I still get chills and crank it up.

6. The (Shipped) Gold Standard - the opening for this sounds like some super catchy pop song, but ngl I love it. There's a lot of good lyrics in this song, I kind of compare this song to "don't you know who I think I am?" for some reason. They have the same feel to me - like a good old fob song feel. idk.

7. (Coffee's For Closers) - beautiful music in this song, I love the strings so much. Songs like an Obama campaign song with the "change will come." The whole "I will never believe in anything again" doesn't really fit in with the rest of the lyrics in my opinion. But the song's so freakin beautiful I don't even care.

8. What A Catch, Donnie - I still can't get into this song. Musically, it's great, it just kind of bores me until the last minute (I adore all the cameos and the retrospective feel to it). That kind of makes up for it.

9. 27 - lovelovelove so hard. Patrick's vocals here are my favorite ever. The way he sings reminds me of ginasfs, and that's my favorite fob song of all time. The phrase "the planets align you're just like mars" kills me the way he sings it. And can we appreciate Joe Trohman on this album for a second? Epic guitar solos.

10. Tiffany Blews - One of my favorites, the opening is so good. And the harmonies in this, oh Patrick. I love the line "baby you're a classic, like a little black dress" for some reason. I actually like the Lil Wayne cameo, it's not like this crazy rap verse.

11. w.a.m.s. - I find that intro bass really creepy. The whole thing is in this creepy minor key but that's why I like it. And I love the chorus. Still curious as hell what wams stands for. I'm not sure how I feel about the whole music dropping out and Patrick singing this bluesy little acoustic tune; I kind of wish that it was a separate short track, like an interlude. I think the way they faded the music was weird, the first time I heard it I was like "wtf is going on?" It's cool and Patrick sounds awesome (the melody sounds like "no diggity" by blackstreet, doesn't it? I swear, look it up, it's the same.)

12. 20 Dollar Nose Bleed - it's like a cheery musical romp, if the lyrics weren't so depressive. But I love Brendon's part (actually, I think it sounds more like a panic song than a fob song) but the horns are great, and it reminds me so much like "i've got all this ringing..." (lol at me and all these old fob references, but it's what I think of when I hear them.) I like how it doesn't fit in with the record (and I think there's a church organ towards the middle somewhere). Patrick's vocal are killer, too. I didn't like Pete's spoken part at first, but now I love it. Wouldn't be a fob CD without it ;) (and a little screaming, finally! Leads in nicely to the last track.)

13. West Coast Smoker - I love how harsh this is. The second "oh hell yes" is badass. The whole father, son, holy ghost thing is a little weird, but I just go with it by now. Then there's that eeiry church chanting in the middle before pete's screaming "i'm a nervous wreck" (which I love, this cd was lacking pete screaming.) And the song just kind of stops and the cd is over, I like how it's abrupt. Makes you want to put it back on.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Mayhem! Music! ...Fashion?

One of the biggest award gatherings of the year, the VMA's bring together musicians from every genre to celebrate the art of the music video. What's even more celebrated, is what the stars (or their stylists!) choose to wear:


Edgy, unconventional, yet uniform. Rihnanna's rigid top and bottom create a combat-syle dress that flatters her figure and shows of her fabulous arms. A perfect look, except for the shoes - they're to match the white in her hair, probably? Overall, a good look for the Disturbia singer. 4/5

Kristen Stewart

A newbie to the VMA's and award shows alike, perhaps Kristen is just trying to find her own style. Her baggy, heavy dress doesn't accentuate her petite frame, making it look like a decorated potato sack. The dress color is dull, along with the pattern, and her two-tone hair and overdone eyeshadow make the look even messier. It's your grandma's dress and pumps - and not in a good way. At least she didn't show up in sweats? 2/5

Lauren Conrad

LC's white dress makes her skin look flawless, but the boxy cut of the top does little to show off her bust line - in fact it makes her look like there's not much at all. A negative effect than she wanted, I'm sure. But her flowly, loosely pulled hair with the shimmery dress shows that SoCal look that Lauren is famous for. 4/5

Katy Perry

Another newcomer to the scene, Katy steps out a creates a fashion look all of her own. Claiming all of her pieces come from thrift stores (she made the hairpiece herself!) she ignores red carpet cliches and instead, chooses a vintage top and high-waisted shorts circa 1950, throwing in purple pumps. Only backdraw? The tight shorts make her middle look puffy, almost as if she's wearing a diaper. Almost, but not quite right. 3/5

Christina Aquilera

This new mother is no stranger to the red carpet, always glamorous. Her floor-length gown highlights her new, curvy shape, hiding any bad areas left from pregnancy. But with a swooping gown, her hair falls too heavy and bangs too thick - it's mall meets glam, and it doesn't work. A sexy updo would complete the look and show off her smooth shoulder line. 3/5


The usually risque Pink chooses a carnivalesque, old-Hollywood glam for this year's red carpet. With a spiky bleached 'do, her shoulders look toned, and her black high-waist keeps the outfit together. It hangs long and heavy, reminiscent of curtains, but overall, adds to the effect. 5/5

Hayley Willams

Hayley tries to bring out her inner punk with teased hair, a green 80s prom dress with a bowite to match. No thank you. The hair is early scene-queen (Audrey Kitching, anyone?) the dress is a pasty green that clashes with her bright hair and pale skin, and the bowtie shows that she's trying too hard. Throw in her ripped mylons and boots, this look is more Halloween costume than read carpet. Find another way to express your inviduality, Hayley. 1/5

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Sounds of Summer

Ah yes, summer: sunshine, sand, sublime tunes. The climate change isn't complete without music to fill your ears. Whether it's lounging by the pool, beach, or indoors, these picks will make your summertime just a bit sweeter:

Joshua Radin - We Were Here
We Were Here is a soulful, acoustic blend of harmonies that will buzz in your ears through those hot months. Even the frosty track "Winter" is warm enough for those hot days, with soft vocals laced with gentle harmonies. The tracks have a feeling reminiscent to first loves, and that blissful feeling of relaxation. Don't worry if you find yourself drifting away while easing into his chilling tunes.
Download: Sundrenched World, Winter, What If You

Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend
Vampire Weekend is a band that seemingly emerged out of nowhere, reeling the public in with their catchysong "A-Punk" (being featured in a commerical or two doesn't hurt, either). The rest of their self-titled debut doesn't disappoint: their next single, "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa" features a bongo beat that would fit in perfectly on any tropical getaway. Effortless, smooth vocals create tracks that are easy and appealing to listen to. The summer heat doesn't feel complete without some Vampire Weekend.
Download: A-Punk, Oxford Comma, Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa

Coldplay - Viva la Vida
The title track off Coldplay's latest effort starts with chugging violins and the lyric, "I used to rule the world." While he may not rule the world anymore, Chris Martin certainly rules on Viva La Vida. The band's fourth album drifts from the established Coldplay sound displayed on the previous records; Martin embraces a more mellow vibe, with two completely instrumental tracks featured. The second single "Violet Hill" is perhaps the most upbeat track - which hints at just how mellow the rest of the album is. Fans new and old of Coldplay can appreciate the positive vibes. As the song "Strawberry Swing" goes: "It's such a perfect day."
Download: Viva la Vida, Strawberry Swing, Violet Hill

Sunday, February 10, 2008

ash wentzday

While trying to refrain commentary on the nature of this couple, can we talk fashion? And while I don't always agree with everything Ashlee does (i.e. reshaping face, working with Timbaland on songs that are so bad they're good, stealing my hair color, etc), her dress is adorable. It makes her look super-slim, and the color fits her skin and hair tones. The white belt is a perfect accent. Major drawback: huge clutch purse? My grandma had one of those, I think. Best to stick to a smaller bag, as to not take away from the outfit. And dang, Ashlee, but the hair isn't that bad.

Can we turn our heads towards the dude with the big head on the left? I don't hate his outfit, per-say, in fact I quite like the vest/scarf combo. And the hair is good, finally, with no ugly fedora to cover it either. But Wentz needs to either tuck it in, or wear a more slim-fitting shirt. It looks wrinkled, like he had tucked it at first, but decided having it hang out was so punk rock. Watch Ryan Ross and learn, or don't steal his look. And while I've always loved Pete's faded black jeans, they don't quite work with this outfit. Dark denim perhaps, or something else that complements the top half of the outfit. You can't wear those pants all the time.

On the whole, this look works. They complement each other and yes, are cute together.

Oh. Oh no. First, Ashlee's dress in horribly unflattering, a complete 180 from the previous dress. And paired with a red handbag and black nails, the gold/brown shimmery whatever-she's-wearing clashes. While the other dress complemented her skin and hair, this makes her look pale and her hair too brassy.

And Peter: what did I say about hats? Also, is he a pimp from the seventies in that velvet tux and open collar? It's not working for him. Especially matched with Ashlee's mess, the work fails together. My advice: stay in your comfort zones - you're not Hollywood's glam red carpet couple, stick to clothes that fit your personality.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

A Year in Review - the Top Ten Albums of 2007

10. Tegan and Sara - The Con
(release date: 7.24.07)
The Con is a step up from Tegan and Sara's previous cd, So Jealous. Smart lyrics, harmonies between the two sisters' distinct voices, and mix of acoustic and experimental songs give The Con a diversity previously unattainable by Tegan and Sara.
Memorable tracks: Like O, Like H, Soil Soil, Are You Ten Years Ago, Back In Your Head

9. The Rocket Summer - Do You Feel
(release date: 7.17.07)
The self-deemed soundtrack of the summer. The lead track "So Much Love" is reminiscent of sunshine and sand. Every song is upbeat and has a positive vibe with a catchy melody. One of those CDs you can play the whole way through and sing along to every track.
Memorable tracks: So Much Love, Break it Out, All I Have, High Life Scenery

8. Mayday Parade - A Lesson in Romantics
(release date: 7.10.07)
I first heard Mayday's EP, Tales Told By Dead Friends, last summer and was not initially impressed. When listening to Romantics, I could instantly hear the band's improvement. "When I Get Home, You're So Dead" was easily the best off the EP, and I was pleased they rerecorded it for the CD - it still remains my favorite. I saw their set this summer on the Vans Warped tour, and my love expounded. Big choruses and chugging guitars - I'm always moving around to the Mayday CD.
Memorable tracks: When I Get Home You're So Dead, Black Cat, Jersey, Jamie All Over

7. The Academy Is... - Santi
(release date: 4.3.07)
I'm in love with the Academy's breakout disc Almost Here, and I was throughly excited this year for new TAI music. The songs that had leaked, "We've Got a Big Mess On Our Hands" and "LAX to O Hare" only heightened the excitement. I first grew appreciation for Santi after seeing TAI on the 2007 Honda Civic Tour and getting the opportunity to meet the band. "Neighbors" is my favorite song of the summer and the best track on the CD. TAI would be higher on this list if I didn't turn the CD off after track 8. Starts strong, but not memorable altogether - better individual tracks than a cohesive whole.
Memorable tracks: Neighbors, We've Got a Big Mess On Our Hands, LAX to O Hare, Sleeping With Giants

6. Timbaland - Shock Value
(release date: 4.3.07)
I first grew interest in the CD because of the Fall Out Boy collaboration track, One and Only. Then, I saw three Justin Timberlake tracks, and nearly lost it. Turns out, the entire CD is amazing and a hit. Every track released from this album turns to gold and blows up on the radio. I love the experiments with different beats, melodies and collaborations, even mixing with a few rock bands. My favorite hip-hop CD, ever.
Memorable tracks: One and Only, Way I Are, Apologize, Throw It On Me

5. Metro Station - Metro Station
(release date: 9.18.07)
I remember getting this cd before even hearing a single song from the band, just because of the hype around it. From the first track, I loved it. It's another CD I can play all the way through and dance along. I love the up-tempo electronic beats and the mix of singing and spoken vocals. Trace Cyrus definitely steps out of his family's shadow and creates his own individuality and identity. The more I play this album, the more I fall in love.
Memorable tracks: California, Shake It, Kelsey, Disco

4. 1997 - A Better View of the Rising Moon
(release date: 4.17.07)
I hadn't heard of the band 1997 until late May, a month after the CD release. After the first listen through, I immediately played it again - I didn't turn it off the rest of the summer. I love their unique sound - a perfect blend of harmonies; I love the combination of the male and female vocals. Their songs possess that feel-good vibe that is essential for summer.
Memorable tracks: Droppin Dimes, Water's Edge, Garden of Evil, lovelikepoetry

3. Paramore - Riot!
(release date: 6.6.07)
You couldn't turn on the radio this year without hearing Paramore's breakout hit, "Misery Business." This album caught Paramore in a whirlwind and blew them up huge. I loved their first - All We Know Is Falling - and the big, full, sing-at-the-top-of-your-lungs feel to the band. For her age of 18, Hayley is a talented vocalist, out-performing herself on Riot. "Misery Business" was the song this summer. On the whole, the CD isn't as consistent as AWKIF, and a few tracks are quickly forgotten, but the big songs make up for them. Melodic guitars and huge choruses make you wanna just rock out alongside Hayley. Paramore truly made a name for themselves in 2007.
Memorable tracks: Misery Business, crushcrushcrush, Born For This, Fences

2. Cobra Starship - Viva La Cobra!
(release date: 10.23.07)
The best thing about this album is Patrick Stump's amazing production.When their first single "Guilty Pleasure" was released, I knew I could only expect more of the same fun, upbeat melodies on the rest of the CD. Every track has amazing beats, melody, singing - the entire package. It's a sure step up from their debut - this album marks Cobra as a band. Every track is shiny and polished and explosive.
Memorable tracks: Guilty Pleasure, Kiss My Sass, Damn You Look Good and I'm Drunk, Prostitution Is the World's Oldest Profession

1. Fall Out Boy - Infinity on High
(release date - 2.6.07)
This CD has been in the works since summer '06, and when it finally came, it didn't disappoint. Fall Out Boy played with their sound on this album by recording four tracks with famous R&B producer Babyface. IOH broadened FOB's range - Patrick's voice kills and shows that kid's got soul. And yet, the songs still rock like Fall Out Boy. Every song is where it's supposed to be on the CD and a masterpiece in its own right. The absolute best of the year.
Memorable tracks: thnks fr th mmrs, This Aint a Scene, It's an Arms Race, Golden, Bang the Doldrums

Friday, January 25, 2008

music anticipations

Looking over new releases of some of my favorite bands, I've realized there's a good amount of new material coming out in the next few months. Especially, I'm looking forward to these:

Matches - A Band In Hope
Release Date: March 18, 2008
Ever since catching the tail-end of their set at the Vans Warped Tour in July, I've fallen deep in love with the Matches. And yes, let's face it, Shawn Harris. The Johnny Depp look-a-like singer creates some of the greatest and most original music I've heard in a long time. His vocals are unique and frankly, the shit, with heartfelt and intriguing lyrics (with music to match).Decomposer is such a wide variety of musical sounds and variations, and with the tracks leaked thus far, us fans can expect the same on their upcoming release. Songs "Yankees in the Chip Shop" and "Wake the Sun" are a new, yet familiar sound for the Matches. Regardless, I'm pissing-pants excited for this album.

The Hush Sound - Goodbye Blues
Release Date: March 18, 2008
Aww, the Hushies. Award for most underrated band ever. Like Vines was musically one of the best albums of 2006 (thank you, Patrick Stump), with unique blends of groove piano rock. Then, for most of 2007 the band was in hibernation, touring here and there, but mostly "in production" and an album fans never thought would come. Well, the time is drawing near, friends. And with the catchy track "Medicine Man" recently released on their myspace, the excitement is mounting. Expect a full return of the Hush Sound when they tour with Panic at the Disco on the Honda Civic Tour this Spring.

Panic At The Disco - Pretty. Odd.
Release Date: March 25, 2008
Which brings me to the disco boys. Oh, boys. We need to have a talk. While I could lecture all night long, I'll keep it brief and say about damn time! My love affair with AFYCSO can't continue on forever (okay, maybe it can. How is it literally the perfect cd?) And then, you go through that weird mountain phase, all growing some sort of facial hair that I'm hesitant to classify as a beard (I'm looking at you, Brendon Urie). Scrap that, start fresh, give us two months of confusing, tiresome online puzzles, to finally reveal Pretty. Odd. and the new HCT Spring Tour. Oh, and somewhere along that way they lose the ! (which, to quote Best Week Ever, implies things have calmed down and are under control now at the disco).

While I support whatever these boys to do, I can't help but have hesitations for this new cd. It's such a transformation, I can't even say it's the same PATD I fell in love with. Where's the synthesizer and articulate digs at catholic virgins, Ross? But, maybe this is okay; after all change is good, and they can't surely do the same thing twice. AFYCSO stands for what it is, and could never be reproduced. With that in mind, I embrace the new sound, and prepare myself for music I've been craving since my first squeal-induced listen to "Lying is the Most Fun...". And for their first purchase after the record does exceedingly well in sales: maybe a pair of scissors?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

"Come with me if wanna see anything worthwhile"

So, while I was sitting here pondering the future of this blog and letting the days pass by with empty entries, I finally decided I just need to start somewhere. It doesn't need to be brilliant, eloquent, it just needs to be. So great, I decide to get started. On what? To skim over lame introduction posts, I'm just going to jump into this headfirst. The water's not as cold when you cannonball in, right?

So, this blog is my 'opinion' on various things I come across in my day-to-day; mainly, pop culture commentary. And what do I know? Well, I know music. I'm not going to fool anyone by saying I'm one of those music elitists, but I know my fair share. So! I like music, I like writing, ergo I like writing about music.

"CD Review: The Audition - The Champion"
So, The Audition's this band that I've liked for awhile. Their first release, Controversy Loves Company created a small ripple in the "scene" (as its been lovingly deemed - I'm sure I'll have more to say about that in a later entry), mainly with the song "Dance Halls Turn to Ghost Towns." They fell into the category of one of "my" bands (I kind of have this easy way of telling if a band is my kind of music or not, and its also very obvious to others), and I saw their live show Nov. '06, opening for The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus - and it was lackluster at best. Vocals weren't strong, and the lead singer had this cocky air about him that dissuaded me from the band.

But, I didn't give up completely. Their new single, "Warm Me Up" leaked over the holidays, and it, very frankly, contained surpassing amounts of kickassery. Vocally, melodically, and instrumentally it was on-point. Catchier than the pox. I had a renewed faith in the band.

To my joy the full LP, The Champion, leaked soon thereafter, and I remember giving a quick, blearly listen, and I had to pause the record for it was so good, I had to give it more time, and a proper listen. I came back later in full blast mode and attacked the CD head on. From the opening electric riffs in "Bashbat", it grabs and won't let go. Melodic drum cadences support the (admittingly) awesome vocals. Vocal work on The Champion is genius, really.

"Bashbat" lends itself right into "Warm Me Up" and from there its just Catchy Catchy Catchy. Every song has that memorable moment where you come back just to hear that guitar whine or lyric stuck in your head the entire day. The high point of the cd is the track "Hell to Sell" which, in its opening lines, references the song "Go to Heaven" two back on the disk: "Go to Heaven for the weather, but to Hell to sell." Then the guitar starts this awesome high pitched riff that matches the melody (which doesn't always work and sometimes feels lazy), but here, complements and accents the words wonderfully. The slide into the chorus and the almost jazz-like quality of the accents in the bridge keep this track on repeat.

I'm usually on a high after this song, so the next few tracks are a wonderful hangover that carry me peacefully through the disc, slowing in the (forgettable) song "What Gets You Through the Night." It ends back on a high with "Make it Rain," with lyrics that I can almost forgive: "Go run and tell all the neighbors, I'm going to grab her heart and not let go." Ehhhh. Again, its the slide into the chorus and the chord progression and the full, rock out feel that make it stick in my head. The Audition have topped themselves with this latest release, creating a perfect blend of pop-punk hooks and rock-out choruses with catchy riffs. The Audition live up the the pressures of a sophomore release, and I only hope for good things in their future.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008