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Small Pools

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Smallpools Makes a Big Splash in Austin

Concert Reviews, Indie Artists, Photos, Uncategorized

November 15, 2014

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Smallpools played at Emo’s in Austin, TX on Nov. 13 with support from Magic Man and Panama Wedding. All photos of Smallpools can be found on my flickr page.

I’ve been following Smallpools since their inception as a band when they released “Dreaming” on Soundcloud a year and half ago. The band may be young, but they have accumulated quite a following with only a four-song EP, and recently released single “Killer Whales.”

When the band announced their fall headlining tour with Magic Man, they had Austin’s The Parish on the bill. The show was moved to Emo’s to accommodate a much larger crowd than The Parish’s 450 capacity ballroom.

The support from Magic Man and Panama Wedding, fellow indie artists, made for a night of great music. Panama Wedding’s Vampire Weekend-esque sound warmed the crowd up, while Magic Man got them in the dancing mood.

Having seen Smallpools twice before as an opener for Grouplove and Neon Trees, and once at Lollapalooza 2014, I was eager to see how the band would perform as a headlining act. Sure enough, they stepped up to the plate.

They know how to entertain an audience, not only through their music, but by stopping to share stories and to tell jokes, breaking down the barrier between the fans and the performers.

Smallpools’ set began with a symphonic intro, conducted by frontman Sean Scanlon dressed in a suit jacket, before the band jumped into “No Story Time.” The crowd’s reaction was instantaneous – screaming, dancing, and singing along. The energy in the room was almost tangible, and lasted until the last chord was rung and the last word was sung.

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The four piece band played an hour set of songs from their EP and several unreleased ones as well, including “Bruce Lee.” After the song, guitarist Mike Kamerman announced that the crowd was the first people in Austin to hear that song, while Scanlon remarked that he tells that to every city.

In lieu of an encore, Scanlon gave an anecdote from the band’s beginnings. They used to search twitter to see what people were saying about Smallpools, and incidentally many people were tweeting about keeping killer whales out of small pools, giving way to the band’s newest single “Killer Whales.” Plastic, blow-up killer whales of all sizes were tossed into the crowd, bouncing around the crowd and flying through the air, adding to the excitement of it all.

Before ending the night with “Dreaming,” the band stopped to take a picture with the crowd. Scanlon jumped off the stage to join the crowd along with two small, plastic dogs, a tradition they’ve had since their first concerts. And although the small dogs are covered in duct tape from wear and tear, they’ve been their touring buddies and stage companions all the same.

With an LP set to release in early 2015, I can’t wait to see what Smallpools does next.

 

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Twenty One Pilots

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Twenty One Pilots Make a Night to Remember in Austin

Concert Reviews, Photos, Uncategorized

November 10, 2014

Twenty One Pilots Puts Performance in Full Gear

This article was originally featured by Longhorn Life.

STUBB’S, 9:10 p.m. The lights go off. The music cuts out. Ear-piercing screams explode from all around. A voice-over plays, explaining that his name is Nigel and he will be the host for the evening. Soon, Nigel introduces the act that everyone has been waiting hours to see, Twenty One Pilots.

DSCF6021-2Two men dressed in black and wearing ski masks take the stage and erupt into a beautiful chaos of music, smashing drums and symbols, slamming black and white piano keys with a purpose, setting the tone for the evening.

Twenty One Pilots ended their second U.S. headlining tour in Texas on the weekend of Oct. 18. They stopped in Austin at Stubb’s for their second to last night of the tour.

The two-piece band consists of Tyler Joseph, vocalist and pianist, and drummer Joshua Dun. The genre of their music is listed as “Schizoid Pop” on the band’s Facebook page. After taking one listen to their full-length album the classification is justified. Their sound can range from sing-a-long melodies to rap and from happy-go-lucky piano chords to alien-like synthesizers, and that’s just within one song.

The show was somewhat of a farewell not only symbolizing the end of the tour, but the end of their album “Vessel,” which was released in January of 2013. After almost two years of touring the world in support of the same release, the band plans to close this chapter and work on new music.

There was a bittersweet undertone to the synergistic energy rebounding through the venue.  Bitter to say goodbye to the album, but sweet to be playing for the fans that made the music what it is. Joseph and Dun knew they couldn’t disappoint.

In the middle of an old, angst-driven ballad, Joseph said, “If you haven’t figured it out already, we’re going to give you everything we have tonight. I promise.”

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Charli XCX

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Charli XCX’s U.S. Tour Comes to Austin

Concert Reviews, Photos, Pop Artists

November 8, 2014

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This article was originally featured by Longhorn Life.

Charli XCX brings summer hits to the states

British pop star Charli XCX blew up pop charts this year with her summer hit “Fancy” with Iggy Azalea, “Boom Clap” on “The Fault in Our Stars” soundtrack and her latest music video for “Break the Rules.”

She stopped in Austin Saturday, Oct. 18 at Emo’s as part of her first U.S. headlining tour. The tour kicked off on Sept. 26 in Orlando and reaches a close Oct. 26 in Los Angeles.

That night, Emo’s curtained off part of the venue to make for a smaller, more intimate setting for the sold out show.

Charli XCX and her all-girl band wore matching blue and white cheerleader uniforms with “Sucker” embroidered on the front. Charli strutted the stage with a sparkling tiara; matching bracelets, earrings and necklace; transparent pink, heart-shaped shades; and, of course, her signature red lipstick.

The venue was not filled with preteens, but an older crowd of high school and college-aged students, mixed in with age-varied adults. The crowd went crazy for her, singing every word, dancing to every song and adoring Charli XCX for the 80s pop princess she is.

DSCF5376-6Her charisma shined on stage as she jumped and danced all around, giving love to every part of the crowd. For some songs, she even had choreographed dance moves with her band.

Charli XCX’s album “Sucker” is set to release Dec. 16. She performed songs from the upcoming album and other fan favorites, including “I Love It,” which she wrote and recorded with electronic duo Icona Pop.

She delivered a 21-song set, ending with an encore of “Fancy” and “Boom Clap.”

Earlier in the day, Charli XCX made an appearance at Austin’s Mix 94.7 radio station for a Q&A with some of her fans who didn’t have tickets to the sold out show.

She was not done up in her fancy-stage uniform, but a more relaxed, punk-glam look. She wore a long, shimmery black dress with a slit running up the leg, black leather combat boots, a black leather jacket and transparent red sunglasses to match her bright red lipstick, making her a fashion icon for fans.

One fan asked for advice on breaking into the music industry. Charli XCX talked about her experience of posting music on MySpace at age 14, and said her best advice is to make great music. She believes that if you make great music, it will shine through all the other music out there.

She noted that writing music with other artists is just as important as performing as Charli XCX. For the time being, she’s riding high on her current success and working hard for the album release of “Sucker.”

After the tour is over, Charli XCX will be hanging around stateside for a while longer, performing at iHeart Radio’s Jingle Ball Tour in select cites in December before going on to open for Katy Perry on the European leg of her world tour in early 2015.

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The Airborne Toxic Event at Stubbs in Austin 2014

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The Airborne Toxic Event North American Tour Photos

Concert Reviews, Indie Artists, Photos

September 27, 2014

Airborne Toxic Event stopped at Stubb’s in Austin, Texas on Friday, as part of their North American tour. The tour started in San Francisco, CA on Sept. 18 and will finish in Denver, CO on Nov. 6.

Frontman and guitarist Mikel Jollett commented that their show at Stubb’s was the biggest show they’re ever headlined in Austin. The band and fans alike were thrilled to be there for the momentous occasion.

To see more photos from the show, visit my flickr page or click the photos below.

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The band announced their new record deal with Epic Records and L.A. Reid on Sept. 9.

In the announcement, the band said “It’s great to be working with him again and the whole Epic team, and we can’t wait to put out our new album with them…”

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Lilly Allen

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Lily Allen’s Return to Austin

Concert Reviews, Photos, Pop Artists, Uncategorized

September 15, 2014

This is one of those times when I ventured out to see what many would call a pop show. And I didn’t really know what to expect going in other than just that: these are pop artists, putting on a pop performance.

All photos from the concert can be found on my flickr page, or by clicking on the photos below.

Samsaya’s confidence and stage presence is almost unexpected from an artist her size. The Indian-born Norwegian singer has enough personality and energy to fill the amphitheater, and if I didn’t know any better, she could have been the headlining act. Her music is a wild combination of hip hop and pop fused with her Indian and Norwegian roots.

She took the stage in style, sporting sneakers, black and white patterned pants, a mesh jersey-style shirt and a sleek, button-up black bomber jacket. And of course, not without her signature heart painted over her left eye.

After this performance, I’m looking forward to see her rocking the big stage.

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DSCF3416-18Lily Allen strutted the stage with her back up dancers after a whimsical intro of her 2006 hit song “Smile.” As she proclaims in her song “Sheezus,” she wants to be the queen of female pop music, and that’s just what her fans view her as, screaming her name just for the chance to get a smile from her.

The UK artist was adorned in platform boots, a simple fringe cowgirl shirt and fringe skirt, which she soon discarded for a less concealing outfit, telling the fans she never spends her money on designer clothes.

After not having performed in Austin in, what she estimated to be, at least 7 years, Allen was ready to be back and performing for her devoted fans. This was to be a special show, saying that even her husband came out to see her perform.

As she sang, she strolled up and down the stage, giving love to all parts of the crowd, and stop every so often to dance along with her back up dancers.

It was easy to understand just how passionate her fans are. All the way in the back you could see fans dancing their hearts out, some even carrying the English flag, as love for Allen’s home country. Even those who arrived late to the show immediately ran into to crowd, singing every word.

 

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The Neighbourhood

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The Neighbourhood Photos and Review: A Black and White Vision

Concert Reviews, Indie Artists, New Music, Photos

July 20, 2014

The new wave of alt rock music came to us from SXSW 2013, where artists like Haim, The 1975, Bastille and, not to forget, The Neighbourhood showcased their unique styles.

From playing Antone’s 500 capacity venue to the big stage at many US festivals, The Neighbourhood has retuned to Austin, this time selling out Stubb’s 2,000 capacity outdoor amphitheater. I headed down to the show on July, 18 to see how they’ve changed. See more photos on my flickr page.

Fans began lining up in the earlier hours of the morning to secure the golden, front and center spot on the barrier to see their favorite musicians perform. By time The Neighbourhood took the stage, the crowd was rowdy and ready for an hour and fifteen minute set of guitar-and-bass-plucking and drum-driving alternative rock with a black and white face. An appearance that the band calls their personal style, dressing solely in black and white, and that follows suit with their music.

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After releasing hit single “Sweater Weather” and producing a few EPs, the band released their first full length album I Love You. on April 19. Just days after the release, I saw The Neighbourhood open for Atlas Genius, and already, a surprising amount of the crowd was singing along to their new songs.

In late 2013, they released a 3rd EP The Love Collection. More recently, the band released “Honest,” featured on The Amazing Spider-Man 2 soundtrack, and posted a free mix tape #000000 & #FFFFFF online here.

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The Summer Set

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Warped Tour in Review: Best of the Bands

Concert Reviews, Festivals, Indie Artists, Photos, Pop Punk Artists, Uncategorized

June 19, 2014

When I think of Warped Tour, I first think of hot, sweaty, long days in the Texas sun. But it’s worth it because the day is spent with five or six favorite bands, and all the fans who love them just as much as you.

I headed out to San Antonio for the second date of Warped Tour to catch all your and my favorite bands. Read about my experience below with some of the best bands on tour. You can also read my survival guide if your date is coming up. All photos from Warped Tour can be seen on my Flickr page.

Yellowcard

My favorite band of the day was Yellowcard, hands down. They rocked out like no other band out there. Ryan Key, vocalist, immediately jumped off the stage and hopped up onto the barrier to get the crowd going, waving his arms in the air and making faces. Yellowcard gave it their 100% and delivered a solid, high-energy set from the first note to the last. Sean Mackin, violinist, might have been even more pumped than Key, screaming and running and jumping around stage, not stoping to pause even for a minute. And the crowd savored every second of it, singing their faces off to the tunes they so closely worship.

 

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Less Than Jake

I was not familiar with much of Less Than Jakes’ music, but, boy, were they fun. Even if you don’t know them, go and see them if you have the time. Their performance skills combined with genuine fun and artistic energy is larger than almost any other artist there.  And who doesn’t love a little brass?

 

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We Are The In Crowd

We Are The In CrowdWATIC has grown a lot in the last few years. They’ve gone from following in the footsteps of The Summer Set and All Time Low, to holding their own on a big stage. Much of their music has that pop-punk-anthem feeling, and you know it when the crowd sings with all their hearts. WATIC was another one of my favorite performances because they spend the whole time running around the stage, giving every part of the crowd some love. Not to mention, vocalist Tay Jardine’s hair flips are something you don’t want to miss.

Echosmith

Echosmith is an up-and-coming indie-rock band from California. The four siblings show their light-hearted and fun-spirited personalities on stage through their music. This was my second time seeing them after SXSW in March, and they’ve only improved as performers. Only 16, Sydney Sierota, vocalist, commands the stage with an elegance beyond her years. On their last song, they released confetti filled balloons, a great show of their character as a band. . These kids are going places.

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Neon Trees

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Neon Trees’ Pop Psychology Tour Comes To Austin

Concert Reviews, Indie Artists, Photos

June 7, 2014

Neon Trees performed at Stubb’s on June 2, so I headed down to catch the show. The night was filled with high energy, funky clothing style and an impressive lights show. Four songs into the set, and I was already blown away by Neon Trees’ performance. Of course everyone knows the hits (like “Animal,” “Everybody Talks,” and their new hit, “Sleeping with a Friend,”) but the audience was thrilled by every song they serenaded them with.

Neon TreesElaine Bradley, drummer, even took a brake from drumming to sing a song with Tyler Glenn, lead vocalist. But of course not before she snuck back stage to change into a neon lime green dress. In fact, the whole band was stylin’ from head to toe from Glenn’s sliver Doc Martins and blue suit to Brandon Campbell’s, bassist, plaid socks and tweed jacket. Glenn was even adorned with yellow heart-shaped glasses and fashionably danced his was down to the checkerboard floor with his pink polka-dot mic stand.

The full list of dates on the Pop Psychology  tour can be found here.

Photos of Neon Trees can be found on my flickr page.

As well, Nightmare the Cat and Smallpools opened the tour.

Smallpools

This was not LA natives Smallpools’ first time in Austin, having previously played in April with Grouplove. However, I can say that in that two month time period, they have improved quite a bit as musicians and performers. Part of the crowd was singing and dancing along to their songs, a positive sign of their growing popularity. Although they only have released four songs, they played several new ones, too, from their new album to be coming out soon.

I can also say that Sean Scanlon’s, keyboard and vocalist, hair has grown to be about twice the size the last time I saw him. When Mike Kamerman, guitarist, took the stage, the crowd immediately noticed his black and hot pink tank with pop star Miley Cyrus’s picture and reacted by chanting “Mi-ley!”

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Nightmare and the Cat

Nightmare and the Cat is another LA band who recently attended Austin’s very own SXSW. The band was formed by brother Samuel and Django Stewart. The band is made up of vintage guitar vibes and haunting vocal melodies. Each of their personalities were showed from their actions and attire, two members entering the stage barefoot.

Nightmare And The Cat

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Jimmy Eat World

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Jimmy Eat World Photos

Concert Reviews, Photos, Pop Punk Artists, Uncategorized

May 24, 2014

DSC_9045-3Jimmy Eat World came to Stubb’s in Austin, TX on May 18 as the start of a mini U.S. tour.

A band that has been in the game this long is sure to deliver, and that’s exactly what Jimmy Eat World did.

Jimmy Eat World is the 90s band that bridged the gap between punk rock and pop punk, along with Blink 182 and Green Day. Every pop punk band of today probably listened to Jimmy Eat World growing up, one of the pioneers of the genre.

It was clear that the audience, too, grew up listening to the band in their teenage years. Everyone was coming back together with their closest friends to remember the good ol’ days.

The band performed an hour and forty-five minute set with new songs and old songs alike.

Catch the end of their U.S before they head over to Europe for the summer. See tour dates here.

All photos from the concert can be viewed on my flickr page.

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Bastille at Emo's in Austin 2014

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Bastille’s Bad Blood Makes For Good Vibes – Tour Photos and Review

Concert Reviews, Indie Artists, Photos, Uncategorized

May 3, 2014

Bastille returned to Austin, TX to play Emo’s on April 25 for their U.S. tour with To Kill A King. The first U.S. show they ever played was during SXSW 2013.

If you haven’t heard their single “Pompeii” by now, you’ve probably been living under a rock. The infectious drums and sing-a-long “eh eh ohs” are known around the world. Debut album Bad Blood peaked at number 11 on the Billboard 200 charts and number 1 in the UK.

Since then they have exploded in the music world, and a year later have returned to the U.S. to share their success. Read the story below and see all of my photos from the show here.

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This show was special to them for several reasons, one being that it was their first time back to Austin since their first show at SXSW. In a year’s time, they went from playing to a few dozen to a sold out show of 1,500. From their high spirits I could tell they were excited to be back in the city that started it all. They delivered a satisfying hour and a half set concluding with “Pompeii,” and joined on stage by To Kill A King for added vocals and drumming.

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The energy in the crowd ignited on the first note of every song, as each person heard “their song” performed live. The most memorable part of the performance was frontman Dan Smith’s unyielding energy combined with the pitch perfect harmonization among the band. It’s one thing for a band to produce a great record, and another thing for them to perform it live, sounding even better than the record.

I didn’t think the night could get any better until Smith ran around the venue singing “Flaws.” Where I was standing in the back, I couldn’t find him in the crowd until he was right next to me, dancing on the bar. It only got better from there with their performance of “Of the Night” during the encore. Everyone in the audience followed Smith’s instructions when he told them to get down, bouncing until the chorus hit when everyone exploded with energy, jumping up and down and side to side, filling the venue with genuine joy and elation. It felt like nothing else in that moment mattered because everyone was there for the same reason, sharing the same energy and the same emotions.

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