Thursday, September 18, 2014  
The Charger Bulletin

Dream Your Life Away

by Glenn Rohrbacker | September 17, 2014

Do you like Mumford & Sons? The Lumineers? Any other pop-folk bands? If you answered yes to any of these, Vance Joy is the guy for you. He is another great prospective star you can add to this list.

Vance Joy (Photo obtained via Facebook)

Vance Joy (Photo obtained via Facebook)

Vance released his debut album on Sept 9 titled Dream Your Life Away. The Australian singer-songwriter previously released an EP in 2013. The album Dream Your Life Away produced four singles before its release. “Riptide” was the most commercially successful single.

You can expect a lot of great things from this album, as it passes the test for an artist’s debut. Dream Your Life Away is a record that stays true to the folk genre, and every song makes you feel like you enjoy folk, even if you say you don’t. Let’s not forget, this isn’t exactly a time in pop culture where the folk genre is prominent. So the fact that Vance Joy has already been successful with his singles shows how he is someone to watch.

Like I said previously, the album has four pre-released singles. “Riptide” is the most successful, and it’s probably the one that you would know; it’s also my personal favorite. “Who Am I” is another song that I really enjoy. Most of Vance’s songs, including these and the others I will mention, have an uplifting spirit to them that you just love to listen to.

He also is a songwriter with a keen lyrical sense. “From Afar” was the first single released. This song definitely shows the softer side of Vance’s songwriting style. “Red Eye” is a song near the end of the album that I could definitely see in a movie, specifically a romantic comedy. When you listen to it, you can just see it being part of a movie. That type of songwriting is hard to come by and Vance Joy definitely displays that ability.

Vance closes out his debut album with a ballad. It’s a risky choice because it’s the last thing people hear, but he definitely succeeded on this one. The song displays beautiful lyrics accompanied by just as wonderful melody.

I had never heard of Vance Joy before I heard his song “Riptide” on the radio, and you probably hadn’t either or probably still don’t know who he is. After listening to all of Dream Your Life Away, I have definitely become a fan.

While Mumford & Sons takes a short hiatus from performing, Vance Joy is now here to fill that void in the pop-folk genre. I have no doubt that he will do great things and produce more great music. While we wait for that, just sit back with your headphones, relax, and dream your life away.

Livewell’s Latest

by Shannon Livewell | September 17, 2014

Martina McBride: Bringing Old Soul to a New Country

On Thursday I received a wake-up call from none other than Martina McBride herself. Needless to say it was hard to sleep Wednesday night knowing that such an iconic artist was going to be calling me in the morning to discuss her latest album, but I couldn’t have asked for a better conversation with such an inspirational woman.

Martina McBride (Photo supplied by her publicist at Shore Fire Media)

Martina McBride (Photo supplied by her publicist at Shore Fire Media)

Hailing from Kansas, McBride and her husband, John McBride, are now Nashville residents. The couple owns Blackbird Studios, which the University of New Haven is partnering with in spring 2015 for our music department’s newly developed study away program. McBride will also be coming to our neighborhood on Oct 11 for a leg of her new tour, performing at Waterbury’s Palace Theater.

McBride’s latest album, Everlasting, was released on April 8, and captures the essence and emotion of classic soul, making the tracks contemporary enough to attract new fans while maintaining the die-hards.

“I recorded an album a few years ago, Timeless, that showcased my own renditions of classic country songs, and I loved the feedback we got from that album,” McBride responded when I inquired about the inspiration behind her latest album. “When I have a chance to kind of recreate those classics I find it really fun, and I had the tour for Everlasting in mind from the moment we started working on the album, so I was really excited from the beginning.”

“I’ve never done a show like this before,” she confessed after I stated how unique I imagined the Everlasting tour to be. “We have a four-piece horn section, three background vocalists, and men in matching suits, familiar to the times of the songs I cover. I wanted the tour to be visually entertaining as well as very musical.”

McBride said that the tour will still cover a lot of her classic hits and said she has fans that have attended the show in more than one city because of the tour’s dynamic. The more she spoke about Everlasting on the road, the more I got the impression that everything with McBride is about the whole team. Without her background vocalists, musicians, management and everyone who had a part in this independent album release, she suggests she would not have had the amazing success that stemmed from the album. Part of that success is her fifteenth nomination for “CMA Female Vocalist of the Year.”

“I was just genuinely surprised,” McBride said regarding her nomination. “We’ve had no radio single from this independent release, and even though we’ve been very visible this year, it was really an honor that the industry recognized all of our hard work on this album.” I asked her to describe that feeling. “It never gets old,” she laughed.

Everlasting is a combination of some of the most influential soul tracks—from Motown to Muscle Shoals and everything in between, including classic hits like Aretha Franklin’s “Do Right Woman, Do Right Man” and Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes’ “If You Don’t Know Me By Now.”

McBride manages to maintain Sam Cooke’s (“Bring It On Home to Me”) soulful elements while singing a duet with the talented Gavin Degraw. The album also features Kelly Clarkson on the classic “In the Basement,” originally recorded by Etta James and Sugar Pie DeSanto.

“The process of choosing and compiling songs that would fit together was definitely challenging,” McBride admitted. “I wanted everything to be cohesive, and then of course I had to choose songs that would fit my voice and feel authentic to what we were trying to create. It was definitely a treasure hunt.”

She’s right. This album is a compilation of jewels that were stored away for far too long and needed a good dusting before being shown to the world once again. This album will expose a new audience to these treasures and allow old fans to rekindle the moment they fell in love with the soulfulness of each song.

As if she wasn’t busy enough, McBride has recently earned her own show on Sirius XM’s Y2K Country. She described how this opportunity came about.

“When we released the album I was a guest DJ on the show, and they approached me shortly after to see if I would be interested in hosting a show of my own. It’s just another opportunity that makes me want to explore so many options—like possibly a show from the road or getting my background singers involved.”

McBride was getting ready to tape a show shortly after our phone call ended, so I asked her what the most challenging part of the taping process was. “Just the newness of it all and wanting each show to be perfect,” she replied. “I think that’s the biggest challenge for me. Finding stories to relate to each song that make the show interesting and fun.”

After speaking to McBride, I got the vibe that she is all about having fun and loving every minute of it. While it is evident by her immense success that hard work must be a huge priority, it is easy to see that she truly enjoys the time she invests in her albums, tours, radio shows, and life in general.

With her team attitude, passion for music, and optimistic mentality, Martina McBride has proven that she continues to break boundaries in the world of country music.

Who controls the music?

by Katelyn Clark | September 10, 2014

The other day, I walked into Grill 155 to eat dinner with my friend, only to hear rap music blasting through the speakers at a volume unheard of at an eatery. I immediately wanted to turn and run. Not only did I have to yell my order to the cashier, but I could barely hold a conversation with my friend sitting right across the table, or hear myself think.

Katelyn Clark bw

I have nothing against the type of music that was playing, but the fact that it was blasting at an unnecessary volume, making the music sound distorted and awful, was almost too much to bear while I was trying to eat dinner.

The question I have is who controls the music at the dining facilities on campus? Is it Sodexo? Student Activities? Facilities Department? Why aren’t we using the resources available on campus to play music the students want to hear while they are eating?

WNHU, the University of New Haven’s radio station, would be a great place to start.

WNHU has a student only online stream called Charger Radio, which is all students, all the time. This stream should be what is playing through the speakers at the dining facilities.

Charger Radio is what students want to hear. And if you don’t like what you hear, students have the ability to join the station, become a DJ on Charger Radio and then YOU play what you and your friends want to hear.

If you are in doubt about putting WNHU/Charger Radio in the dining facilities, just take a look—or rather, take a listen—at the Rec Center. Over the summer, WNHU started a stream customized for the Rec Center and that is what you now hear playing over the speakers while you work out. The Rec Center utilized a resource straight from UNH, right on campus, which helps both parties in countless ways. So, I believe the dining facilities should do the same.

Whether it be the radio station putting juke boxes in Bartels so students can choose what song they want to hear, Grill 155 and Pandini’s streaming Charger Radio through their speakers so students can listen to their peers DJ their own shows, or a customized WNHU stream playing in Sandella’s and the C-Store; the options are limitless!

WNHU is a great resource that should not be overlooked, especially when it comes to what is playing over the speakers at the many different dining facilities on campus.

Brad Paisley’s Moonshine in the Trunk

by Elyse Von Der Fecht | September 10, 2014

Brad Paisley is an American, guitar-playing country singer-songwriter who recently released his tenth studio album Moonshine in the Trunk on Aug. 26.

Brad Paisley (AP Photo)

Brad Paisley (AP Photo)

In 1999, he released his debut album Who Needs Pictures; since then, he’s recorded nine studio albums and a Christmas compilation with Arista Nashville.

As of 2013, he hit 32 Top Ten singles on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, 18 of which have reached number one. He also holds the record of ten consecutive singles reaching the top spot on the chart.

Paisley has sold over 12 million copies of his albums and has won three Grammy Awards. Some of his other accomplishments include his 14 Academy of Country Music Awards, 14 Country Music Association Awards, and two American Music Awards. He has also earned country music’s crowning achievement, becoming a member of the Grand Ole Opry.

As for his latest album, Moonshine in the Trunk, I would have to say that my favorite song is “Perfect Storm.”

Here’s a list of what I thought about the rest of the songs on the album:

“Crushin’ It”: I thought the beginning of the song with the “Hey” was a good idea to get everyone to want to listen to the song. The background vocals throughout the song made a nice touch to the song as well.

“River Bank”: This song would have to be my second favorite off the album. The overall vibe of the song makes you want to just drop what your doing and party with friends.

“Perfect Storm”: The beginning of the song starts off instrumental and goes into an echo followed by Paisley’s lyrics. The melody of the music gives a good vibe and really gives you the chills when you think about how he feels about that special girl.

“High Life”: I thought the duet with Carrie Underwood in this song gave a stronger feeling to the lyrics and melody of the meaning and how it was portrayed. At the end, it was neat to listen to a little conversation between Paisley and Underwood.

“Moonshine in the Trunk”: I enjoyed the beginning of the song as it had it had the noise of turning on a truck, which gave a neat vibe to the start.

“Shattered Glass”: This song was a bit slower in the tempo which makes you want to sway back and forth while listening to the lyrics.

“Limes”: The tempo of this song was more on the slower side than the others but still had a great, steady beat throughout the entire song.

“You Shouldn’t Have To”: I thought the guitar solo in the beginning was nice and caught my attention; it kept me listening to the song. I feel like a lot of people could relate to what the message of the song is about.

“4WP”: The lyrics to this song are truly about that country swing and talks about trunks as well as relating it to girls who grab your attention.

“Cover Girl”: This is every girls dream to be that girl you see on the cover of a magazine. She is the one for you and she caught your eye out of a crowd of others.

“Gone Green”: I liked the beginning of the song with all the instruments including the banjo because it brought a country and southern vibe to the song.

“JFK 1962”: I thought the instrumental at the start of the segment was neat. This was a 54 second speech given by John F. Kennedy.

“American Flag on the Moon”: This song has a great message and the first time I listened to it, I just wanted to listen to the lyrics and focus on nothing else. This song actually touched me and gave me chills listening to what he had to say.

“Country Nation”: I thought this was a great song to end his album with because it has a great message to leave his listeners with. The instruments as well as the melody of the song gave off a dancing feeling.

Be sure to not miss Paisley on tour now; I promise, you don’t want to miss out on one of his performances. He puts on a fantastic show for his fans.

Our Everything

by Glenn Rohrbacker | September 10, 2014

Ariana Grande went from being a teenage actress on both Broadway (13) and in children’s television (Victorious) to an up and coming Billboard topping musical artist.

Ariana Grande performing in East Rutherford, NJ June 29, 2014. (AP photo)

Ariana Grande performing in East Rutherford, NJ June 29, 2014. (AP photo

Since the end of the Nickelodeon show Victorious in 2013, she quickly broke out into the mainstream music scene with her debut, double platinum album, Yours Truly.

This week she released her second studio album, My Everything, which has been number one on the charts since its release on Monday.

This album had been highly anticipated by the public due to the release of two top ten singles before the album was even dropped.

The album features work by Big Sean, A$AP Ferg, The Weekend, Childish Gambino, Jessie J, Nicki Manaj and, most notably, Zedd and Iggy Azalea.

This all-star feature line up shows how the music business is responding to Grande’s special talent and character.

Grande’s sophomore album has her fans thinking she is a lot older than she really is.

The 21-year-old pop star has grown since her first album in ways that highlight her professionalism and talent. She knows what she can do and she rocks it in the process.

Not only can she reach the notes, but she reaches everyone’s heart at the same time.

Her smooth R&B style voice can tackle anything from hip-hop to pop and everything in between; she even gives us an a capella track to start off the album.

Not only does her record reflect the grown up pop diva that she has become and will continue to be, but her live performances deliver the same amount of power and emotion behind her vocals as on her album.

Grande doesn’t stay true to one genre, although she is classified as pop. She mixes dance and pop and hip hop and R&B and even some jazz technique in her unique sound to make it exactly that: unique.

The album features several tracks that were made to be hits, and were. “Problem,” “Break Free,” and “Bang Bang” were all chart toppers before the album was even released. Other strong tracks include the Mariah Carey influenced, “Be My Baby.”

“Break Your Heart Right Back” is a track that features Childish Gambino and samples the Diana Ross classic, “I’m Coming Out.”

The title track of the album, “My Everything” is one of those times where Grande uses her voice to cut to the core of even the toughest of people. This ballad truly shows off her skill, style, personality, and heart. It is true for the rest of the album as well, which includes two bonus tracks.

Grande is no teen actress anymore; instead, she is a force to be reckoned with and I can’t wait to see how she progresses in the long career she has ahead of her.

Keep Counting

by Glenn Rohrbacker | September 10, 2014

Most people today who listen to music frequently would not know about the band Counting Crows. People who have been active listeners since the ‘90’s could tell you that they do know Counting Crows from their biggest hit “Mr. Jones,” as well as a few follow up hits like “Accidentally in Love” and “Big Yellow Taxi.”

Counting Crows (Photo obtained via Facebook)

Counting Crows (Photo obtained via Facebook)

However, a lot of people would not be able to tell you much else or that they weren’t even sure if they still made music. Well, I am here to tell you that they sure do and are as active as ever.

They just released their seventh studio album, Somewhere Under Wonderland. The band took a few years to regroup and produce some independent works until finally signing a deal with Capitol Records.

As far as comebacks go, Counting Crows definitely did not take this one lightly. You can feel the motivation in the music they make and you can tell that the music is really what they intend on perfecting.

This album features the single “Palisades Park,” which was released in early July. The album is recorded with really dry vocals, so you get a very personal feeling when you listen. It’s as if Adam Duritz is talking right into your ear (in a good way). Each song in this album reinforces the idea that things are always better when you wait for them.

Somewhere Under Wonderland contains nine uplifting and deep lyrical songs by a band that has been through it all.

Adam Duritz packs emotion, character and meaning into his powerful lyrics. A constant theme throughout the album is enlightenment. You feel uplifted by every song, even the ballads.

The single “Palisades Park” brings a real Dave Matthews feel to meet the alternative folk-rock sound of the Counting Crows. You can really feel the energy in songs like “Earthquake Driver,” “Elvis Went to Hollywood” and “Dislocation.” Its songs like these that get you excited about the band and could even turn someone into a fan. There is evidence of real crafty and poetic songwriting in songs like “Scarecrow” and “Possibility Days.” It really makes you think and dive into what the song really means; and that is good songwriting.

Personally, I think that the success of this album could be a stepping-stone in the path back to the mainstream music for Counting Crows.

This album has everything a comeback album should: deep and meaningful lyrics, staying true to the band’s sound, uplifting and energetic songs, and the feeling that this is not the end.

After this great new album from Counting Crows, I have no doubt that the next one will be just as great, if not more.

Maroon 5: V Album

by Elyse Von Der Fecht | September 10, 2014

Maroon 5 released their fifth studio album V on Aug. 29. The American pop-rock band got their start in 1994 in Los Angeles, California.

Maroon 5 (Photo obtained via Facebook)

Maroon 5 (Photo obtained via Facebook)

Originally, the band was called “Kara’s Flowers” when they started in 1994. In 1997, they signed to Reprise Records and released an album The Fourth World.
In 2001, they went in a new direction, renaming themselves Maroon 5.

In June 2002, they signed to Octone Records and released their debut album Songs About Jane. They received a massive amount of feedback from airplay landing their debut album number six on Billboard 200 charts.

In May 2007, they released their second album It Won’t Be Soon Before Long.

This album reached number one on Billboard 200 charts, which was a great accomplishment for the band.

Their third album, Hands All Over, was released in September 2010, and quickly landed the number two spot on the Billboard 200 Chart.

In June 2012 their fourth album was released, Overexposed, which once again landed number two on the charts.

Maroon 5 signed to Interscope Records in 2014 and released their latest album V, and here is what I thought of their newest songs:

“Maps:” The vibe of this song is a bit different than their other songs, but they did a great job with the rhythm and melody of the song.

“Animals:” This song gives off a strong beat throughout the whole song.

“It Was Always You:” The song has a slower tempo, but the melody of the song still flows together perfectly.

“Unkiss Me:” I really enjoyed the beginning of this song and it drew me in to listen to hear what was next. This song has a relaxing touch and causes you to want to sway back and forth. I would say this is my favorite off the album.

“Sugar:” As I listened to this song, I had a different kind of response. I thought it was a great song; Adam Levine has an incredible voice, but when he went to a high pitch for some parts, it was just a little too much for me.

“Leaving California:” I liked the beginning of the song when it gets right into the lyrics and I think that the melody of the song made the sequence of the song flow better.

“In Your Pocket:” I felt that this song is strong in its own way. It has a great rhythm as well as the melody, which outlined the lyrics well.

“New Love:” The lyrics were very intimate and I could feel that push and power of how he was feeling.

“Coming Back for You:” The instrumental part in the beginning of the song was neat and gave the song a different kind of outcome. Through the lyrics, you can tell that no matter what he will be there for her and getting her back.

“Feelings:” They started this song off different by having him sing “ohhhs.” I think that this song was also interesting but still has a strong beat.

“My Heart Is Open:” Having this song feature Gwen Stefani and make it the last song was a great way to finish off their incredible album. I think Stefani made this powerful by adding her vocals to the song. It was a great duet and she is a fantastic singer.

As a whole I thought the album was definitely a different vibe from their past albums but was fantastic nonetheless.

Make sure not to miss out on season seven of The Voice, which features Adam Levine as one of the four judges.

by Shannon Livewell | September 3, 2014

Mac Wiseman; Recording History

Mac Wiseman being inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville (Photo provided by Wiseman’s manager)

Mac Wiseman being inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville
(Photo provided by Wiseman’s manager)

Mac Wiseman is an American Treasure, Bluegrass pioneer, and Country Music Hall of Famer, and he is now releasing an album that is transcending in the way of folk music. Songs From My Mother’s Hand is very telling for Wiseman, and exactly what the title suggests.

While he was growing up, his mother kept several composition books in which she wrote the lyrics of folk songs broadcasted over their radio by kerosene light at their kitchen table in Va.

From the time Wiseman received these notebooks, he treasured them, waiting until he was 89 to take them into a recording studio to turn them into a Hall of Fame-worthy album, bridging the generational gap that has formed in the evolution of country music while simultaneously sharing his mother’s short-hand with the world.

I was fortunate enough to speak with Thomm Jutz of Wrinkled Records, who produced this amazingly unique album, about the experience as a whole.

When I heard that Wrinkled first received word of the project, I felt as though there had been a resounding “yes, please,” regarding the company taking on Wiseman’s endeavor. I asked Jutz what brought this unanimous response about and if he could the cite of the inspiration that brought it all to life.

“Both, in equal measure,” he responded. “It’s really an incredible package that was handed to us and Wrinkled by Mac. He’s kept these books for all these years. Content, artwork, musical direction, all of it fell into place because of these books, and because of Mac’s history as one of America’s most important singers.”

It is ironic that Wiseman, at this point in vast musical career, is bringing everything full circle by sharing the influence of music that fostered his life at such a young age. I believe that if this album had been completed earlier in Wiseman’s career, however, it would not have been so successful, because the weathered-warmth his voice aids to each track is something that only time and life can produce.

I wondered if it had been difficult to stay authentic to the original sound of the songs, or if Wiseman’s institutional knowledge about American Roots music was all that was needed to keep this album true to its 1930’s sound.

“Peter Cooper [co-producer] and I are both keenly interested in [Southern] music from this era,” Jutz revealed. “So between Mac, us and the players we chose, we were confident that we’d represent these songs adequately without trying to sound retro.”

Which is exactly what they did. This album appeals not only to those who favor American Roots music and its history, but also those who enjoy learning where the music they love today originated from. What better way to learn the origin than from the handwriting of a woman who single-handedly documented it as it unfolded?

It is hard not to wonder if the process became emotional at times for the engineers, producers and musicians involved, because of how different the concept was and how connected Wiseman was the content he was performing.

“Yes,” Jutz revealed when I inquired about just that. “Hearing an 89-year-old master of American music singing with a 23-year-old acoustic music star Sierra Hull would make anybody with an appreciation for this kind of music emotional.”

If anyone could make an album as timeless as this a success in today’s industry, it is Wiseman with his already large and loyal fan base, from Nashville and beyond.

“So far the reactions from the Nashville community has been incredible,” Jutz said. “We are still talking to the hall of Fame about how to best collaborate on this.”

I inquired if it was a difficult process to find the musical origin of the songs that were lyrically provided by Wiseman’s mother, and how true to the instrumentation they were able to stay for the album.

“Not really. Mac remembered all of these melodies very well,” Jutz answered. “As far as instrumentation there’s really no rule book. We simply didn’t want to use any instruments that wouldn’t have existed back then, therefore it’s all acoustic, no drums, and no artificial sounds of any kind.”

The authenticity of the project is apparent, and it’s hard to appreciate the immense technique it must’ve taken to, as Jutz alluded to, keep the album from sounding falsely retro.

“I would say that anybody who’s interested in Folk music, Bluegrass, Roots music in general should hear this record,” Jutz said when I asked who the real target audience they favored when fostering this album.

It is easy to see that Wiseman’s warm and compassionate connection to this music is the reason that songs from the early 1930’s, a time when composition books and kerosene lights were the entertainment on Tue nights, are now reaching the hearts of those in a generation where the world never turns off and winds down. There is also something about the simplicity of it all that makes the listener feel as if they are disconnected from the bustle of today.

“I think these songs take us back to a time that’s often romanticized,” Jutz agreed. “Those were hard times in rural Va, yet they were also simpler times, and I think that’s what attracts us to these songs. A lot of folks are on overload from all the overproduced and virtually created music and want to hear music played by human beings again,” he continued.

In a world full of stress, high standards, and false pretenses, where sounds originated from a computer are considered music, saxophonists take a back seat in the corner bars of America to the doctored sounds of music today. We live in a world that we can’t turn off and Song’s From My Mother’s Hand forces listeners to do just that.

 

Ashley’s Top five of the Summer

by Ashley Winward | September 3, 2014

Welcome back everyone! With a new school year, I’d like to debut a new segment: My Top five. Every week will bring a new top five; it could be songs, albums, etc. but just know I’ll be bringing you the best!

A family that listens to Kiss together stays together. Ashley had a great time rocking out with die hard fans in Hartford (Photo by Cathy Windward / Charger Bulletin Photo)

A family that listens to Kiss together stays together. Ashley had a great time rocking out with die hard fans in Hartford (Photo by Cathy Windward / Charger Bulletin Photo)

For this first installment I would like to reminisce a little. This past summer was a wonderful time to be a fan of live music. I spent most of the time I wasn’t working sweating in tiny club shows or sweating in the blistering heat of outdoor venues. Summer shows are the best for an unexplainable number of reasons and this summer was no exception. Here were my top five favorite shows that hit the Northeast this season.

5. Skip School, Start Fights Tour (Hit the Lights/Major League/Light Years/Brigades/July)

I think I finally realized I was growing up when all my favorite bands started playing album anniversary tours. Seriously though, look up your favorite album from your childhood and you’re probably due for a 10 year tour coming up.

While not as “notable” an anniversary as Hit the Lights’ iconic Skip School, Start Fights album turned six this past summer and they reminisced by playing the album from start to finish with an encore of tracks from earlier release This is a Stickup, Let’s not Make it a Murder. Being in such an intimate setting with a small crowd at The Space in Hamden, Conn. who knew all the words as well as I did made the experience that much better.

The tour also had some amazing support with bands like July and Brigades that really sparked my interest for their solid melodies and catchy vocals. These boys have come a very long way from the first time I saw them, a week after SSSF came out, and I’m excited to see what their future holds as they head into the studio for a new album under a new label.

4. Summerland Tour (Everclear/Eve 6/Soul Asylum/Space Hog)

Keeping upon the theme of how old I am, the surge of 90’s summer tours in the past few years has been not only incredibly well done, but ridiculously nostalgic. One tour in particular I’ve been following since its inception in 2012 has been Summerland. Founded by Art Alexakis of Everclear, the tour promotes good summer fun and highlighting that 90’s rock is still indeed relevant.

This year’s lineup included UK greats Space Hog, Soul Asylum (famous for “Runaway Train”) and Eve 6 otherwise known as “That band that sang your senior class song ‘Here’s To The Night.’” This tour holds a special place in my heart because it’s a show that my mom and I go to every summer no matter how far we have to travel. We scream at the top of our lungs, cry at the same two songs by Everclear every time and enjoy three hours of great music.

One thing I love about coming to Summerland is the fact that it spans such a generational gap, from the parents who remember these bands making it big when they were our age to the younger kids who have grown up on these bands like I have. It’s one big rock and roll summer camp that I can’t wait to keep attending year after year.

3. Mechanical Bull Tour (Kings of Leon/Young the Giant/Kongos)

A couple times a year the perfect lineup just comes together so seamlessly you wonder how they ever toured with anyone else. The Mechanical Bull Tour was one of those shows for me. I’ve been a fan of all three groups and have seen both Kings of Leon and Young the Giant on separate occasions but putting them together with young guns, Kongos, was just a perfect scenario.

If you enjoy beards, accordions and arena rock, I highly recommend Kongos as they exceeded my expectations of an opening band. With a minimalist set up and small set, they were still able to fill the venue and get people out of their seats.

Young the Giant impressed as always with their stage presence and lead singer Sameer Gadhia’s loose flowing dance moves. Their set covered favorites both new and old, keeping me singing the entire time. Finally Kings of Leon took the stage and honestly transported me to another world. More than just the music, their technical stage show left me mesmerized by the light displays and appropriate visual projections matching each song. While their set heavily focused on their newest album, Mechanical Bull, there was a fair share of old tunes to keep people energized. Also each date of the tour had their own “exclusive song” chosen by fans tailgating in the parking lot. It was a stunning night as always with the Followills and I look forward to their next tour!

2. Vans Warped Tour

For anyone who identifies as a “Pop Punk Kid” or a metalcore fan or just a teen or twenty something who loves music, you’ll probably find them at one or multiple dates of the Vans Warped Tour. For five years and counting I’ve been flocking to Warped to get my fair share of moshing, headbanging and unique fan experiences with some of my favorite bands.

This year I got the special opportunity to see multiple angles of the tour as a fan, a member of the press and working for a vendor in the tent village over the course of two dates, Scranton and Hartford.

This year, tour founder Kevin Lyman celebrated Warped’s twentieth summer on the road with big acts like Falling In Reverse, The Summer Set, Motionless in White and Bowling for Soup, as well as almost 100 other bands spanning nearly every genre of music.

Some of my favorite moments included seeing UK natives Neck Deep, interviewing Four Year Strong and meeting Dan “Soupy” Campbell of The Wonder Years as he performed under his solo project, Aaron West and the Roaring Twenties. I could go into so much more detail but I’ll save that for a future article.

1. Kiss/ Def Leppard North American Tour (Kiss/Def Leppard/The Dead Daisies)

I feel like the reasoning for this as my number one choice needs no explanation. I don’t think I was more content all summer than I was sitting on the lawn of the Xfinity Center in Harford eating food from a gourmet grilled cheese truck and watching two rock legends tear up the stage.

There was everything you could ever imagine from these two: fireworks, confetti, lights, fake blood, zip-lines, moving stages and pure face melting rock. Even if you weren’t familiar with some of their extensive repertoires, the hits were adequately covered throughout the night.

Kiss celebrated four decades of decibels and Def Leppard also has over 30 years out on the road, making this a true generational show. Probably my favorite moment of the entire night was Paul Stanley zip-lining out over the crowd and just his amazing stage presence, as if they were just a bunch of young guns starting out for the first time. As the saying goes, some things just get better with age and these two are shining examples of such.

There you have it folks! My top five summer shows.

Have a suggestion or want to let me know your favorites? Email me, and they could be included in next week’s issue!

The Headlining Tour You Shouldn’t Miss

by Ileana Alvarez-Diaz | September 3, 2014

Paradise Fears is a band that conveys so much grand emotion that it’s utterly unparalleled to anything else. You will feel everything all at once.

Paradise Fears (Photo obtained via Facebook)

Paradise Fears (Photo obtained via Facebook)

The five-piece band from Vermillion, S.D. has begun their very first headlining tour and their show at The Space was stunningly intense and wondrous. There was never a dull moment. They put on such a euphoric show, giving it their all.

Consisting of vocalist Sam Miller, guitarists Cole Andre and Jordan Merrigan, pianist Michael Walker, and bassist Marcus Sand, this band’s headlining tour is one you shouldn’t miss.

The band has recently signed to Nashville’s DigSin records, but what’s really impressive is that they’ve managed to captivate thousands of fans, streaming on YouTube and Spotify. Their honest lyrics and beautifully written melodies are what make this band worth hearing.

The band was on the road with William Beckett, Hollywood Ending, Nick Thomas, Against the Current and other fantastic opening acts, and their show was unbelievable and unforgettable.

The crowd went insane for Paradise Fears, who opened with “What Are You Waiting For?” There were times where I thought fellow concert-goers were being hurt by the sounds of their screams, but they were just that star-struck.

It makes sense, though—this band is well put together. Sam Miller is full of energy on stage, going from left and right to see everyone and getting them to sing along. His voice is heavenly; there’s no doubt about it.

In the very beginning, Miller stated that, “…if you’re here for a Billy Joel concert, you’re in the wrong f***ing place. But if you’re here for something like a Ramones concert, yeah!”
Miller said the show was going to be all over the place, and it was. Going from songs like “Fought For Me” to “Lullaby,” the vibes were constantly changing in a way so perfect, that it’s pure magic. There were trumpets—yes, this five-piece band utilizes ten instruments. Their harmonies were incredible, blending together so well.

They performed “Yours Truly,” and pianist, Michael Walker was divine as he opened with the lovely melody. I came across the song on Spotify, and I remember repeating it all night. I felt as if this song knew every single word I needed to hear in that moment.

They also played their new single, “You To Believe In,” released by DigSin Records and there are no words to describe how flawless it is. The audience sung along, which made it all that more heartwarming and amazing!

The band also invited William Beckett back on stage to cover Macklemore’s “Same Love.” I may have shed a tear or a few, but that’s because this cover was executed so well that it gave me chills. And they didn’t stop at just one cover. Throughout the night, the band covered Charli XCX’s “Boom Clap,” and a snippet of 3 Doors Down’s “Kryptonite.”

Ending with “Battle Scars,” Paradise Fears made sure that every musical element embedded into their songs was included on stage in order to unleash the ultimate emotional experience.

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