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BØRNS Woos Austin

Concert Reviews, Photos, Pop Artists, Uncategorized

June 9, 2016

BØRNS performing at Stubb’s on June 7. All photos by Jenna Million.

On one of the first warm nights of summer last Tuesday, people filed in one after another at Stubb’s outdoor amphitheater to be serenaded and hopefully catch a glimpse of BØRNS, an up-and-coming artist who’s honey vocals and cotton candy music land him on the edge of pop. The sold-out show was moved to Stubb’s after selling out Scoot Inn, a big accomplishment for any artist who played Stubb’s 450-capacity indoor room less than a year ago as one of Austin City Limits Festival’s after shows.

The cool-headed 24-year-old graced the stage with ease that comes from months spent on the road performing nightly. BØRNS floated back and forth across the stage through out the set, eliciting cheers and screams from the many teen boys and girls in the front of the crowd. The idealistic pop music and mostly falsetto vocals create a dream-like sound-scape. Oversaturated lights bathed the singer in blues, greens and reds. The added visual stimulation transformed the musical experience into an stellar wonderland, where BØRNS is an ethereal pop sensation.

As BØRNS made his way through Dopamine, his 2015 debut album, many audience members sang every word in a passionate cry, challenging the volume of the singer himself. As he belted out a David Bowie cover of “Heroes” to end the night, it was obvious he wooed Austin.

See all photos from the show here.

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Cage the Elephant

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Edgefest 26 brings alternative rock to Texas

Concert Reviews, Festivals, Indie Artists, Photos, Rock Artists, Uncategorized

May 8, 2016

Cage the Elephant performing at Edgefest. Photos by Jenna Million.

Each spring Dallas radio KDGE 102.1 brings the best in alternative rock to Edgefest. The single-day festival in Frisco, Texas, always promises an eye-catching lineup. Last year was stacked with Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness, The Kooks, Banks, Hozier, Death Cab for Cutie – need I go on? This year the festival blew it out of the water with Foals, Chvrches, Silversun Pickups, Bastille, The 1975, Cage the Elephant and many others. The irresistible lineup landed me at the festival for a second year. Here are my highlights.

All photos from the Edgefest can be viewed here.

Bastille

Following time off from touring to record their second studio album, Bastille made a triumphant return to a cheering crowd. Starting with “Flaws,” frontman Dan Smith immediately looked for the quickest way off stage and made his way into the crowd, visiting the front, left, middle and right before returning to the stage just before the end of the song. It is obvious the band has missed playing shows as much as the fans have.

The 1975

The front row was lined with teen girls anxiously awaiting The 1975’s first appearance in Texas since November 2014. The band is touring the U.S. in support of their second studio album “I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it,” released in October 2015. Accompanying the new and old songs was a vibrant, mesmerizing light setup that created an entirely new way of experiencing their music. I will let the photos speak for themselves.

Cage the Elephant

Immediately following The 1975 with a quick change over, Cage the Elephant closed the night with a rocking blow. Singer Matt Shultz transforms on stage – the music visually courses through him as he runs, jumps, dances across the stage. The rest of the band executes heavy rhythms, speedy percussion, and tight riffs with precision and ease that comes with years of musicianship and work. It culminates into a performance that is unparalleled by any rock band today.

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Foals

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Foals creates a roaring thunder in Austin

Concert Reviews, Photos, Rock Artists, Uncategorized

May 5, 2016

Photos by Jenna Million.

In the middle of their US tour, Foals stopped in Austin, Texas, for a sold-out show on April 29. In many aspects, Foals’ live set is emotionally reminiscent of their latest album “What Went Down.”

All photos from the show can be viewed here.

The British rock group released the fourth studio album on Aug. 28, 2015. The album shows clear divide in the massive rock songs with heavy, building bass and guitar (“What When Down,” “Mountain at My Gates”) and the carefully crafted, poetic songs that let gentle guitar hooks breathe (“Give It All,” “London Thunder.”)

Friday night, Foals opened with “Snake Oil,” then “Olympic Airways” and “My Number.” With each song, the expanding instrumentals demanded the audiences’ attention. Interspersed throughout the set, “Give It All,” “Spanish Sahara,” “Late Night” and “A Knife in the Ocean” pulled back with a controlled energy that radiated through the room.

The calm buzz quickly turned to a roaring thunder during the finale of “Inhaler,” “What Went Down” and “Two Steps, Twice.” Yannis Philippakis, singer and guitarist, was overcome by the music, crowdsurfing, jumping from double-stacked speakers, and dropping to the floor – all without missing a note. Philippakis even left the stage a second time, not to crowd surf but deliberately headed to the bar for a beer before finishing the set.

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The Front Bottoms

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Photos: The Front Bottoms

Photos, Pop Punk Artists, Uncategorized

May 3, 2016

Photos by Jenna Million.

I caught The Front Bottoms’ tour with Brick + Mortar and Diet Cig in Austin, Texas, on April 28 at Emo’s. The Front Bottoms signed to Fueled By Ramen in 2015 followed by the release of their third studio album “Back on Top” in September. This year The Front Bottoms are making the rounds at festivals such as Coachella, Bumbershoot, Lollapalooza and Shaky Knees among others.

See all photos from the show here.

 

 

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Melanie Martinez

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Photos: Cry Baby Tour with Melanie Martinez and Mainland

Photos, Pop Artists, Uncategorized

April 21, 2016

Melanie Martinez brought the Cry Baby Tour to Austin, Texas, on April 7 with support from Mainland. See more photos here.

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The Maine

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Another Night on Mars with The Maine

Concert Reviews, Indie Artists, Photos, Pop Punk Artists

March 14, 2016

The Maine playing in San Antonio, Texas, on March 6. Photos by Jenna Million.

The Maine was one of my first concerts in my teen years in 2011. It was the first time I saw one of my favorite bands. It was the first time I waited outside a venue with my mom to meet the band, and the first time I got a t-shirt autographed. (It’s probably still sitting in the back of my closet.) A year later they were the first show I photographed. They were the band that introduced me to new friends, who became my concert friends for years to come.

Over the years I grew up,  listened to new music and had new friends. I leaned away from the pop-punk and teen angst, but I never stopped listening to The Maine. After attending two of their shows in the past six months, it is apparent that many of their fans had the same experience as I did. We grew up with this band. We found solace in this band. And now when we see this band, it’s like coming home.

I think this feeling resonates to deeply with fans because it’s one that The Maine repeats over and over.  John O’Callaghan sang it in “We’ll All Be…” – “All we needed was some good friends / And a song to sing along / …And for the first time, I feel less along / And for the first time, I can call this home.” And he said it again in “Another Night on Mars.”

After all, “What’s another night on Mars? / With friends like ours / Anywhere is home.”

The Maine The Maine The Maine The Maine The Maine The Maine The Maine

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Bully

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Live Photos: Bully

Photos, Rock Artists, Uncategorized

February 18, 2016

Bully’s sold out show at The Parish on Feb. 4 was telling of a new rock scene. Bands like Bully and opener Diet Cig are leading the way for DIY punk bands. Bully’s guitars and bass lines easily follow a rock beat, while Alicia Bagnanno’s soft voice elevates to a rough yell, nearing the line of grunge and punk.

The band formed in 2013 after Bagnanno began recording her music at a studio she worked at as an engineer. In June 2015, Bully released its first album Feels Like.”

See all photos from the show here.

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Best Coast

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Best Coast and Wavves Summer is Forever II Photos

Photos, Rock Artists

February 17, 2016

Best Coast and Wavves kicked off the Summer is Forever II tour in Austin, Texas, at Stubb’s on Feb. 11. Check out all the photos from the show here!

 

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Mayday Parade

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Photos: AP Tour with Mayday Parade

Photos, Pop Punk Artists

November 25, 2015

I caught up with the Alternative Press Tour with Mayday Parade and Real Friends in Austin, Texas on Nov. 21. See all photos on Flickr.

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royalblood-9

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Royal Blood’s live performance drips with talent and power

Concert Reviews, Photos, Rock Artists, Uncategorized

October 13, 2015

It’s one thing to hear someone say, “Oh my god. That band was amazing live!” and another thing entirely to experience it for yourself. This is what I had been hearing about Royal Blood for some time now. I was looking forward to seeing them play at ACL, but as the schedule gods would have it, I couldn’t make it to their set on Friday of either weekend at ACL. I was fortunate, however, to be able to photograph them at their Official ACL Late Night show on Oct. 3, and let me say, “Oh my god. That band is amazing live!”

See all photos from the show here.

Royal Blood are one of the few bands I’ve ever seen perform at such a high level. In the first half of the set it was very obvious both singer and bassist Mike Kerr and drummer Ben Thatcher are talented musicians. They were executing heavy bass riffs and drums fills with perfection. In fact, it sounded more perfect than the album with the added surround-sound effect of the bass drum thumping in your chest and the electric riffs making the hairs on your arm stand straight. The sound produced by the two musicians was overwhelming, overtaking every corner in Emo’s, threatening to knock the walls down. It’s a wonder at festivals that their sound doesn’t magnetize every passing patron, drawing them into the electric energy.

Royal BloodI told myself I was going to leave the show early since their set started at 12:20am, but every song on the set list was better than the previous, convincing me to hear the last second. I felt like I was watching a set of Royal Blood’s greatest hits.Their 2014 debut, self-titled album is incredibly well written, so much so that any song on the album could very easily be a radio single or even a hit song. “Out of the Black,” “Little Monster,” “Come on Over” and “Figure It Out” all made it to radio release.

The second half of the set was elevated by Kerr and Thatcher’s performance and audience interaction. Thatcher, who remained mute throughout the set, methodically chewing gum and smashing drums, stopped drumming for a song to crowd surf, a ritual at every show, while Kerr continued to shred heavy bass lines. Kerr took his time sizing up the audience and yelling at different sections, awaiting praise as if the audience had to prove they wanted Kerr to give the performance of his life. Although Kerr remained impassive to the crowd’s cheers, he said “I’m going to try something I haven’t done before,” and continued to race his fingers across silver-plated bronze strings.

What exactly he was referring to is uncertain, but I am sure he poured his soul into his playing from that point on. I was left speechless, soaking up every second of every note flying off Kerr’s guitar, the sound reaching dangerously loud levels. It was very clear Kerr was not just playing the music anymore, he was pushing limits on his abilities and on the music, driving it to new heights. It takes a lot to be a good performer, but it takes more to challenge yourself to take those leaps on stage. Royal Blood is training to headline festivals, and every show is practice for the next stage.

See all photos from the show here.

Royal Blood

 

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