Weezer Delivers Best Live Show Since Green Day

Aragon Ballroom – Chicago, IL
December 1, 2009

Weezer Aragon Ballroom

Weezer undoubtedly puts on one of the best shows EVER. They are simply AMAZING to see live. Honestly though, I have not experienced such an awesome show since attending my second Green Day concert back on July 13th of this year. It took until December 1st, going to my second Weezer concert, for me to truly feel like I witnessed a really good band play their songs live to thousands of adoring fans. If you are one of the lucky people in the world who have seen Weezer live, you know exactly what I am talking about, right? I want to challenge anybody out there who has been to Weezer concert to dare say that they left disappointed by the band’s performance. Go ahead, do it!

More photos of Weezer after the jump..

Set List / Chicago

Hash Pipe


Undone (The Sweater Song)

Surf Wax America

Let It All Hang Out

Perfect Situation

Why Bother?

Dope Nose

Say It Ain’t So

(If You’re Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To

Can’t Stop Partying

Tired of Sex

Time (Pink Floyd cover)

I’m Your Daddy

My Name Is Jonas

Beverly Hills

———————ENCORE #1———————

Pork And Beans

Kids / Poker Face / Kids (MGMT / Lady Gaga / MGMT cover)

————————ENCORE #2————————

Island In The Sun

Buddy Holly

Weezer Aragon BallroomBrian Bell (guitar, vocals, keyboards)

Weezer Aragon BallroomPat Wilson (guitar, drums, percussion, vocals, keyboards)

Weezer Aragon BallroomRivers Cuomo (lead vocals, guitar, keyboards, drums, harmonica)

Weezer kicked off their U.S. tour in Chicago at the Aragon Ballroom this past Tuesday night. And yes, the mini trampoline still plays a vital role in the band’s live show. By the second song of the night “Troublemaker,” Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo was bouncing up and down on his child-sized trampoline acting quite the part of a little kid playing in his parents’ basement on mom’s exercise equipment. “Let It All Hang Out” was the first new song Cuomo and Co. played after giving the crowd four oldies in a row to start off the night’s festivities. Getting up close and personal with his audience, Cuomo gradually made his way from the incredibly high Aragon stage down to the barricade. Once propped up against the defensive barrier, lead singer Cuomo reached out into the general admission pit where his loyal fans eagerly awaited with the anticipation of touching their rock idol.

For the infamous rousing chorus sing-along ending of “Perfect Situation,” Cuomo effortlessly played the part of high school choir teacher. With hearty enjoyment, Cuomo gave out the following encouraging instructions to his devoted pupils: “Come on, my angels. Louder, my little birdies. Beautiful!” In true Weezer style, bassist Scott Shriner took over lead vocal duties for “Dope Nose” and did not disappoint. That’s what I love about Weezer. All four band members can sing lead vocals for every song in addition to being perfectly capable of playing each other’s instruments. It’s truly amazing to see such a talented group of musicians in a situation where even though there is a definite frontman, each of the guys would have no problem whatsoever carrying on the show if the leader of the pack could not perform.

Weezer Aragon BallroomScott Shriner (bass, vocals, keyboards)

To be completely honest, the only moment when I was sorely disappointed with Weezer’s show occurred when the Los Angeles foursome performed their latest single “(If You’re Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To.” Apparently, Chicago’s alternative rock radio station Q101 held a contest where one lucky Weezer fan won the chance to sing with the band during this song, which is off new album Raditude. This older lady named JoAnne from Naperville ended up as the chosen one and was brought up on stage before the guys launched into “(If You’re Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To.” Cuomo admitted that he had no idea what the contest entailed or what was supposed to happen. Therefore, instead of letting JoAnne from Naperville sing background vocals during the song, he told her to sing lead vocals with him as a duet.

Umm, this chick was supposed to be a HUGE Weezer fan, right? Well, this so-called “fan” did not know any of the words to Raditude‘s hit single and read off a sheet of paper with the lyrics printed on it. The woman showed no signs of enthusiasm or excitement to be in her position that thousands of fans in the audience would have given anything to be in. To top it all off, this lady could not carry a tune to save her life and was completely tone deaf. I have no idea who was running that Q101 radio contest. All I know is that whoever chose this ungrateful lady as the winner must have been on crack when they did it. “Let’s get this party started,” exclaimed Cuomo while introducing the next song in Weezer’s set “Can’t Stop Partying.” I couldn’t have agreed more with the nerdy yet adorable Weezer mastermind.

“I want to say ‘hi’ to my friends from Cicero. It’s a cool town,” announced guitarist Pat Wilson before launching into “Tired Of Sex” where he got his chance to sing lead vocals. “This one is going out to my friends in Downers Grove,” said Wilson prefacing a cover of Pink Floyd’s “Time” from Dark Side Of The Moon. Nobody can accuse Rivers Cuomo of being unfair. For “I’m Your Daddy,” the pint-sized songwriter sang the entire song from the front of house mix giving fans in the back of the venue some much-needed tender loving care. Classic Weezer composition “My Name Is Jonas” had Cuomo playing the harmonica during the final measures of the song concluding with the translated-to-Spanish title, “Me llamo Jonas.”

Next up on the set list was the 2007 monster hit “Beverly Hills,” which was accompanied by Cuomo picking up a spotlight from stage right and directing it at his face. You know, just to make sure everybody in the building knew exactly who was the real star of the show. Just kidding! Although I haven’t been fortunate enough to meet the man, I cannot imaging Rivers Cuomo to be the egotistic self-centered rock god that many other frontmen have eroded into as the years dragged on. If you’ve met him, let me know what he’s really like, please!

Upon walking back out on stage to perform the first encore of the night, the Weezer dudes paid their respects to Chicago and donned Blackhawks hockey jerseys. With the audience screaming their approval, Weezer jumped straight into “Pork And Beans.” Looking to set the mood for the 2008 hit single, Cuomo proceeded to ask the crowd, “Somebody got a hat I can wear?” And then one fan holding court in the front row undoubtedly had the night of his life when Cuomo chose his hat to wear for the duration of “Pork And Beans.”

By far, the highlight of Weezer’s set came next when the guys busted out a cover/mash-up of MGMT’s “Kids” and Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face.” The now infamous cover medley began with “Kids,” transitioned into “Poker Face,” then continued to modulate back into “Kids.” I could not stop laughing as Cuomo appeared in a balcony alcove above stage right wearing a platinum blonde waist-length wig in an attempt to pull off the look of Lady Gaga. Man, I could watch and listen to Weezer play those two covers every night. It was great.

The return of Weezer to the stage for the second and final encore of night number one on the band’s U.S. tour consisted of Cuomo performing “Island In The Sun” as the multi-instrumentalist genius he is. Blown-up beach balls of assorted sizes were kicked off the stage into the crowd by Rivers as he simultaneously began to play the continuous loop of each instrument utilized in “Island In The Sun.” First came the drums. Once the drum loop was recorded and looped, Cuomo proceeded to march down from the elevated drum kit to stage right to play and loop the bass line.

With the bass line now pulsating through the venue’s PA system, Rivers took on the acoustic guitar riff. “Now before I play the classic guitar riff, I need you all to start singing the background vocals,” ordered Cuomo as the audience happily shouted out the “hip hip” lyrical line. Once satisfied with what he heard, Rivers finally looped the infectious electric guitar riff and then the song was complete and ready for lead vocals to kick in. The rest of the band once again entered the stage and picked up their instruments, turning off the pre-recorded loops on their foot pedals in order to play the notes themselves.

Last, but most definitely not least was “Buddy Holly,” the 1994 smash hit from self-titled debut album Weezer that brought the group mainstream success and set the course for Weezer’s long-lasting career. As Brian Bell, Scott Shriner, Pat Wilson, Rivers Cuomo, and touring drummer Josh Freese lined up next to one another and took a well-deserved bow, I couldn’t help but think how I would have no problem watching Weezer perform every night of my life. I hope you have the chance to catch the band on their current tour. Especially if you’ve never seen the guys live before. I dare you not to have an absolute blast. Weezer shows are a guaranteed good time. I promise!

Weezer Aragon BallroomJosh Freese (touring member / drums)

Click thumbnails to enlarge photos:








Nearly a half-year of the most intense fan frenzy ever witnessed for a new artist – focusing on his premiere quartet of Billboard Hot 100 Top 40 hits since July, “One Time,” “One Less Lonely Girl,” “Love Me,” and “Favorite Girl” – has resulted in an explosive # 6 Soundscan debut for RBMG -Teen Island star Justin Bieber’s first album, My World (released November 17th on Island Records) on first week sales of 136,741 units. Also worth noting My World is officially the #1 album in Canada, beating John Mayer to the top spot.

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Space Cowboy Lands in U.S. with Futuristic Sounds

Space Cowboy - Digital Rock Star

If you remember Fatboy Slim from the 90s (“The Rockafeller Skank” and “Weapon of Choice”), then consider yourself a little bit more familiar with the up and coming Space Cowboy. Featured under Fatboy Slim’s label for years, Space Cowboy has finally hit U.S. shores with tracks featuring some of the hottest artists of the time.

More about his debut US album Digital Rock Star after the jump…

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Poppin’ Champagne (If Only) with All Time Low

All Time Low
House of Blues – Chicago, IL
November 23, 2009

All Time Low House of Blues

Having been an avid supporter of All Time Low since the moment I heard “Coffee Shop Soundtrack” back in May 2006, I can honestly say I’ve been there with the band since the beginning. Of their career, that is. I somehow got ahold of a mixed tape with “Coffee Shop Soundtrack” on it as the last track and fell in love with the song. You can’t help but sing it over and over again upon your first listen. It’s just so freaking catchy! Now, three and a half years later, I am still a huge fan of Baltimore, Maryland natives All Time Low. I own all of their albums and EPs. I attend every concert when the guys roll through Chicago. If the four dudes in All Time Low continue to write and perform such poppy and sonically pleasing tunes, then there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the band will be around for a long time. Watch out Blink-182 and Fall Out Boy, ATL is on your heels and about to take the lead.

More photos of All Time Low after the jump…

All Time Low House of BluesJack Barakat (lead guitar, backing vocals)

All Time Low House of BluesAlex Gaskarth (lead vocals, rhythm guitar)

Set List / Chicago

Lost In Stereo


Break Your Little Heart

Six Feet Under The Stars

A Party Song (The Walk Of Shame)

Jasey Rae

Poppin’ Champagne

Remembering Sunday


Coffee Shop Soundtrack



Damned If I Do Ya (Damned If I Don’t)

Dear Maria, Count Me In

All Time Low House of BluesZack Merrick (bass, backing vocals)

Can I please mention how weird it was to watch All Time Low lead singer Alex Gaskarth perform “A Party Song (The Walk Of Shame)” without playing his guitar? I don’t know what it was, but I just found it so odd to see Gaskarth walking around the stage singing into his cordless microphone without simultaneously playing rhythm guitar. Did anybody else at the first Chicago show feel this way too? To keep the song’s sound full, one of ATL’s crew guys (probably Gaskarth’s guitar tech) took over rhythm guitar duties, playing over on the side in the shadows. Just so you know, All Time Low had originally planned on performing “Too Much” as the first of three songs during their encore. However, for some reason unbeknownst to me, “Too Much” was cut from the set list and the guys came back out for the evening’s encore with “Damned If I Do Ya (Damned If I Don’t)” followed by monster sing-along closer “Dear Maria, Count Me In.”

All Time Low House of BluesRian Dawson (drums, percussion)

Following in the steps of Blink-182 bassist Mark Hoppus, All Time Low bass player Zack Merrick performed the night’s set with a steady rotation of neon-colored bass guitars. A hot pink and white bass was brought out to him for “A Party Song (The Walk Of Shame).” Then a hot orange and white bass was handed to him for “Jasey Rae.” Nobody can accuse All Time Low of not taking the time in between songs to talk to their fans. “Thanks to all of you for putting up with my insane psycho babble,” said Gaskarth at one point during the show. Gaskarth was left alone on stage sitting on a wooden bar stool playing an acoustic guitar for the slow-jam “Remembering Sunday.” Before launching into the opening notes of “Remembering Sunday,” Gaskarth commented that, “This venue has a tendency to bounce up and down, which I happen to enjoy quite a lot.”

Much to the crowd’s delight, Cassadee Pope from Hey Monday walked out on stage after the bridge of “Remembering Sunday” to finish the song with Gaskarth as a duet. I have no idea who the original guest female vocalist is on the album recording of this particular track off of So Wrong, It’s Right. If you know who the actual girl is, please let me know! “Do you guys mind if I keep it mellow for a little longer?” asked Gaskarth before introducing “Therapy” as the next song he would serenade the sold out crowd of 1,400 fans with, just him and his acoustic guitar. Not one to take himself too seriously, Gaskarth interrupted “Therapy” with an honest outburst. “I fucked up,” admitted Gaskarth before transitioning into the song’s bridge. I cannot help but smile when musicians make a mistake while playing their instrument live in front of an audience. Lord knows I would make at least one mistake if I had to play the piano in front of thousands of people!

“Rian, turn off the fucking click goddamnit,” exclaimed lead guitarist Jack Barakat to drummer Rian Dawson, holding up the introductory guitar riff of “Coffee Shop Soundtrack.” Clearly not wanting frontman Alex Gaskarth to be the only band member getting a word in edgewise, Barakat continued to address the audience commenting that, “This is so much more fun than going to the Bears game last night.” This statement was immediately followed with slight sarcastic laughter from Barakat. Apparently, the Chicago Bears lost their home game last Sunday at Soldier Field. Oh well.

All Time Low concluded the first of two consecutive sold out shows at Chicago’s House of Blues with a two song encore kicked off with “Damned If Do Ya (Damned If I Don’t).” However, around the middle of the song Gaskarth found himself dealing with some guitar issues. His tech guy had to take away the guitar Alex started out with and leave him without an instrument (still singing, of course) while fans wondered what was going on. Moments later, the singer’s tech dude came running back on stage with a new guitar for Gaskarth to play. Problem solved. Another awesome and amazing All Time Low concert completed.

Click on thumbnails to enlarge photos:

Monday Night in Chicago with Hey Monday

Hey Monday
House of Blues – Chicago, IL
November 23, 2009

Hey Monday House of Blues

Hey Monday is the new Paramore. Not that Paramore is going away any time soon. That band is here to stay. I am simply comparing one of my new favorite bands (Hey Monday) to one of my all-time favorite bands (Paramore) and I do not see anything wrong with that. Do you? While watching Hey Monday perform live in concert, the similarities between lead singer Cassadee Pope and lead singer for Paramore Haley Williams are blatantly obvious. Pope is Hey Monday’s main songwriter in addition to the “face” of the group. Then there is Cassadee’s vocal skills. Pope can belt like there’s no tomorrow, proving to audiences that yes, she can really sing. No Auto-Tune for this little lady.

See more photos of Hey Monday plus the band’s set list after the jump…

Hey Monday House of BluesPatrick McKenzie (drums, percussion)

Hey Monday House of BluesAlex Lipshaw (rhythm guitar, backing vocals)

Hey Monday House of BluesCassadee Pope (lead vocals, acoustic guitar)

Hey Monday House of BluesMike Gentile (lead guitar, backing vocals)

Set List / Chicago



Run Don’t Walk



How You Love Me


For “Candles,” Pope sat herself down on a wooden bar stool and performed the song without her four bandmates. Hey Monday’s tiny yet spirited frontwoman gave the crowd another reason to respect her as a musician when she played all of “Candles” on acoustic guitar. Listening to Cassadee playing her acoustic guitar and singing her heart out brought back memories of middle school and high school camping trips. For those three minutes, I really felt like I was an awkward and insecure teenager again sitting around a bonfire late at night in the middle of the woods with my classmates surrounding me. Ah, the good old times. Not really. I so would not want to re-live high school EVER again.

Hey Monday House of BluesMichael “Jersey” Moriarty (bass, backing vocals)

Before launching into my personal favorite Hey Monday song “Obvious,” Pope exclaimed to fans that the Florida fivesome was about to “Raise the energy in here!” I swear to God, “Obvious” is one of the most catchiest pop songs I have heard in a long time. Besides anything written and/or produced by Max Martin, “Obvious” is a pure dose of sweet and sugary power pop if you ever need it. Upon seeing Hey Monday for the first time last May in Chicago when the West Palm Beach natives opened for Fall Out Boy, I immediately bought the band’s debut record Hold On Tight via iTunes. I just had to have “Obvious” on my iPod ASAP. It was like my drug. Totally addictive. And still is! I don’t think I’ll ever get sick or tired of that track.

Unfortunately, Cassadee Pope and Co. only had time to perform seven out of the eleven songs off of Hold On Tight. “Enough with the chit chat. Let’s get on with the show!” Pope shouted to fans crammed into a sold out House of Blues. Hey Monday then proceeded to play their last song of the night “Now.” It was all over before I knew it. I wish the Decaydance/Columbia group could have played a longer set, but alas, headliner All Time Low still had to take the stage.

Just to be clear, Patrick McKenzie (drums, percussion) is currently a touring member of Hey Monday on the Glamour Kills Tour. Elliot James is the band’s former drummer and left Hey Monday sometime last month.

Click on thumbnails to enlarge images:


A Very Special Christmas 7



(Los Angeles, CA – Thursday October 1st, 2009) The torch has been passed to a new generation of superstar talent for A VERY SPECIAL CHRISTMAS VOLUME 7, as Colbie Caillat, Carter Twins, Charice, Miley Cyrus, Kristinia DeBarge, Gloriana, Vanessa Hudgens, Sean Kingston, Leighton Meester, Mitchel Musso, Kellie Pickler, Ashley Tisdale, and Carrie Underwood contribute to the latest edition of the acclaimed  album series which benefits Special Olympics.   A VERY SPECIAL CHRISTMAS VOLUME 7, set for release on November 23, through the Universal Music Enterprises, features original recordings of new and traditional Christmas songs which each artist selected especially for this album.    

LINK TO COVER ART: http://www.dbaronmedia.com/special-olympics-photos-media.html

In making the announcement, Timothy Shriver, Chairman and CEO of Special Olympics, said, “This is a fantastic Christmas record created by and for a new generation that wants to make the world a better place.      The songs on   A Very Special Christmas Volume 7 have all the freshness and energy of the talented artists who recorded them.  Through the spirit of their musical performances, these young recording stars bring the same passion and dedication to Special Olympics that our athletes display every day of their lives.”

A Very Special Christmas was launched in 1987 when record executive/producer Jimmy Iovine decided that a Christmas album would be a beautiful memorial to his father.  His wife Vicki suggested that the album benefit Special Olympics, for which she was working as a volunteer. Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss (the “A” and “M” of A&M Records) helped make the first A Very Special Christmas album possible with an advance and a commitment to handle the record without taking any royalties, and Bobby Shriver signed on as a producer.   Keith Haring, one of the great artists of the 20th century, created the Madonna and child artwork that has appeared on every cover.

Selling one million copies in its first year, the premier album, A Very Special Christmas,  and the subsequent albums in the series, have generated more than $l00 million for Special Olympics, the most ever raised by a benefit recording series.  Disbursed in grants by the Special Olympics Christmas Records Trust, the monies raised each year by the albums/CDs/DVDs play a crucial role in the lives of the least-advantaged Special Olympics athletes around the world where there are inaccurate and prejudiced views about people with intellectual disabilities.

Special Olympics founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver passed away this year, but her words about the artists on the first volume of Very Special Christmas apply to the artists on A Very Special Christmas Volume 7, too. “I am full of admiration for the many artists who have helped us.  It’s a great tribute that these men and women say to themselves, ‘I’ll use my talent to help others.’ It’s not easy because they’ve got so many demands on them and every charity wants them, but they’ve helped us, and I’m very grateful.”

Each successive album of the series has honored the quality of its predecessors with timeless recordings of holiday music by some of the most influential and talented artists of the time.  U2, Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band, Madonna, Sting, Bon Jovi, Reba McIntyre, Alan Jackson,   Wyclef Jean, Sheryl Crow, Mary J. Blige, No Doubt, Eric Clapton, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Vanessa Williams and Bryan Adams are among the stars who contributed tracks to the previous albums and whose songs for A Very Special Christmas have become perennial favorites on the radio and at holiday celebrations over the years.

For more information on Special Olympics, go to www.veryspecialchristmas.org

California to Chicago: A Casual Chat with Colbie Caillat

colbnie caillat

JB: Did you ever anticipate the amount of success you would have with your first album Coco?

CC: No! A friend started uploading my songs and music to a MySpace page that she made for me. I had no idea what MySpace was!

JB: What does it take to maintain the initial success that came with the start of your career as a recording artist?

CC: The hardest part is just getting into the business. I wasn’t prepared. I always had stage fright.

JB: What have been the best and worst parts of your success?

CC: The best part of my success has been the chance to travel the world and have people fall in love with my music even if they speak a different language. Also, being on TV shows and meeting artists who have inspired me and of whom I am a fan. The worst part of my success is that I have no time for a normal life. I have to plan ahead in my schedule to make room for weddings and birthday parties. I used to be able to just hang out at home with my family and friends.

Keep reading after the jump to see what Colbie Caillat had to say…

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Kid Sister’s new album, Ultraviolet, is out and in-stores today! After gracing the covers of URB, Venus and Flaunt and features in Elle, XXL, SPIN, Complex, Bust, Bigshot, Giant, Nylon and YRB, amont countless others, the long awaited debut from everyone’s favorite girl next door is finally here.

11/21 DALLAS, TX Paladium Ballroom
11/25 CHICAGO, IL House of Blues
11/27 NEW YORK, NY Webster Hall

“the dance-pop album of the year” – CHICAGO TRIBUNE

“…one of the most exciting voices to emerge on the scene since the heyday of Queen Latifah, MC Lyte and Yo-Yo.”

” Influenced by the fast beats and electronic soul of Chicago house music, “Ultraviolet” owns a roll-up-your-sleeves form of empowerment, where respect is earned rather than awarded on sex appeal.”- LA TIMES

“Kid Sister’s winking lyrics and charismatic flow elevate the album beyond a mere throwback.”



Also available digitally on iTunes, Amazon, and Music Tee!


Success Follows The Sounds From Sweden To The States

The Sounds
Vic Theatre – Chicago, IL
November 7, 2009

The Sounds Vic Theatre

The first time I ever saw The Sounds live was the first time I had ever heard their music in any capacity. I immediately fell in love with their poignant style, eclectic energy, and distinct sound and style of new wave alternative Swedish pop rock music. Just weeks ago, I found out that The Sounds were once again playing in Chicago and awaited with building anticipation their November 7th show.

More photos of The Sounds after the jump…

The Sounds Vic TheatreJohan Bengtsson (bass)

The Sounds Vic TheatreMaja Ivarsson (lead vocals)

The Sounds Vic TheatreFredrik Nilsson (drums)

Newly released third studio album Crossing The Rubicon (June 2009), brought The Sounds to the United States for an eight week run and last Saturday’s Chicago stop just happened to be the last date on the tour. Appropriately so, the over-enthused crowd began chanting “Sounds, Sounds, Sounds” at least five minutes before the band commenced their final set to be performed in North America for quite awhile. The Sounds have been on tour around the world since March 2009 promoting their most recent release. Playing in front of a not quite 100% sold out (but still totally packed) house at Chicago’s Vic Theatre, the night kicked off with the self-titled track from the group’s new album Crossing The Rubicon. It was a mysterious beginning due to the absence of lead vocalist Maja Ivarsson for the Intro / first song “Crossing the Rubicon.” However, the moment the drop-dead gorgeous pint-sized feisty singer took the stage, the mood was set for a party…and of course, a fun-filled kick-ass rock show!

The Sounds Vic TheatreJesper Anderberg (synthesizer, keyboard, piano, rhythm guitar, backing vocals)

After the Intro slash title track “Crossing the Rubicon” from the band’s latest record, the crowd was hit with a slew of hits from the group’s first two albums Living in America and Dying to Say This to You. Songs included: “Queen of Apology,” “Seven Days a Week,” and “Hurt You.” Effectively mixed in was the first single from the band’s newest album: “No One Sleeps When I’m Awake.” After the initial explosion of energy, The Sounds brought the mood down a notch for a trio of slower tempo songs: “Midnight Sun,” “Home Is Where Your Heart Is,” and “Night After Night.” The latter of the three had Ivarsson politely asking fans to take out their cell phones and lighters to accompany the petite platinum blonde singer as she illegally (in the city of Chicago) smoked a cigarette and serenaded us with the sweet tune off sophomore album Dying to Say This to You.

The new wave quintet hailing from Sweden picked up the energy once again and kept the mood kickin’ for the rest of the evening with songs such as: “Rock ‘n’ Roll,” “My Lover,” “Beatbox,” and “Painted By Numbers.” After a very democratic vote among spectators in attendance at Saturday night’s musical presentation between “Living In America” and “Ego,” The Sounds finished the night on a high note with the winner: “Ego.” The encore was a three-song set, which kicked off with “Tony The Beat,” which was followed with an invitation from Ivarsson to a insanely muscled fan to come onstage to play cowbell for “Song With A Mission.”  Before introducing the last song of the band’s set, Ivarsson asked the crowd, “Chicago, are you happy now?” and then the group launched into their closing number: “Hope You’re Happy Now.”  The night’s festivities officially came to an end after Ivarsson stage dived into the crowd for one final moment of body surfing in the U.S.A.

I have never been to a show where the performing artist has been so interactive with their viewing and listening public. The Sounds achieved in their set what a singer/songwriter would want to achieve for an acoustic show in a small venue, but the Swedish fivesome did it their own way. It was as if lead singer and The Sounds frontwoman Maja Ivarsson had taken a rope and lassoed the audience in for an intimate round of story-telling. This chick knows how to work a crowd, strutting or jumping from one side of the stage to the other in her 4-inch stiletto heels, making eye contact, flirting through her gestures, posing for photographers, and connecting with audience members, all of which created moments that will last a lifetime for the fans.

The Sounds Vic TheatreFelix Rodriguez (lead guitar, backing vocals)

Ivarsson and Co. were in complete control the entire night. At one point during the musical spectacle, keyboardist (and multi-instrumentalist) Jesper Anderberg took a digital point-and-shoot camera from a girl holding court in the front row smashed up against the barricade and snapped photos of his fellow band members while they were performing. What any die hard fan would give for just one of those photographs…

The passion the audience had for this band was both entertaining and inspiring. My favorite part of the performance was catching glimpses of a guy up in a side balcony box on stage right singing every word to every song at the top of his lungs. This was a concert where the fans left the theatre sweating as much as the artists: the sign of an epic show. Would you expect anything less from The Sounds?

Click on thumbnails to enlarge photos:

Written by: Kate Jacobsen and Jennifer Boyer

Train Rolls Through Chicago Delivering the Hits

Vic Theatre – Chicago, IL
November 2, 2009

Train Vic Theatre

Witnessing Train perform live in concert for the first time was truly an experience I am grateful to have had. This past Monday night in Chicago, Train played a sold out show at Chicago’s Vic Theatre and I was lucky enough to be there. It is always pretty surreal to see an artist like Train play their songs live before your eyes when you had previously only heard the band’s music on the radio. Train is currently on tour promoting their latest record Save Me, San Francisco. The new album contains my personal favorite Train song to date: “Hey, Soul Sister.” Having had no idea what a rabid fan base the California trio has before this show, I was blown away by how dedicated and ecstatic the audience members were during Train’s performance.

More photos of Train after the jump…

Train Vic TheatreJimmy Stafford (lead guitar, backing vocals)

Train Vic TheatreScott Underwood (drums, percussion)

Train Vic TheatrePatrick Monahan (lead vocals, acoustic guitar)

Set List / Chicago


Meet Virginia

Get To Me

She’s On Fire


When I Look To The Sky

Hey, Soul Sister

It’s About You

Calling All Angels

Save The Day

I Got You


Drops Of Jupiter


Save Me, San Francisco

Dream On (Aerosmith cover)

Halfway through the third song of the night “Get To Me,” lead singer and Train frontman Pat Monahan casually removed his jacket. While it is not unusual for artists to remove articles of clothing once the show kicks into high gear, I did not expect to hear the deafening screams that escaped the mouths of hundreds of women in the crowd when that jacket came off. I quickly came to realize that Patrick Monahan from Train is a bonafide heartthrob and rock god to thousands of middle-aged white women in America. If Chicago fans are any indication, Train is going to have quite the successful fall tour and new album. Of course it helps that lead single “Hey, Soul Sister” is receiving heavy rotation in the country’s third largest commercial radio market.

Four young women from the front row of the general admission floor were brought up on stage during “She’s On Fire” to perform as “Chicago’s own Trainettes” as Monahan put it. Each one of the girls was given a pink t-shirt with the word “Trainettes” printed in black across the front. “This next song is from the Spider Man 2 soundtrack,” Monahan said when introducing “Ordinary.” For Train’s hit “When I Look To The Sky,” Monahan sang the first verse and first chorus without the use of his microphone. Standing alone in the center of the stage with his toes right at the very edge, Monahan sang his heart out projecting his voice all the way to the last row of the Vic’s balcony.

Before launching into their most recent hit “Hey, Soul Sister,” Monahan told fans: “Literally, this is the most difficult song I have ever had to sing.” Well, I’m glad Train’s vocalist pulled it off and recorded the ukulele-fueled, midtempo insanely catchy sing-a-long. I am obsessed with it. It is most definitely my new favorite song and I listen to it several times a day. After performing the group’s massive hit “Calling All Angels,” Monahan looked out into the audience and exclaimed: “I don’t know what you’re saying, but I think it’s something like ‘Pat, you look amazing in those jeans.’ And you know what? You’re right.”

Near the end of “Save The Day” a woman named Dawn was chosen to come on stage and sing to guitarist Jimmy Stafford. Adding her own pole dancing moves while holding court at the mic stand, super fan Dawn took her vocal cues from Monahan and had the time of her life serenading Stafford. After Monahan sang some lines a few times, Dawn got her chance and took off singing “Hey Jimmy…” before Jimmy himself came over and sang into the mic directing his words right back at the lucky fan. Needless to say, I was more impressed by Train’s interaction with fans and relationship with their audience than their music. Not to say their music is not good enough for me. I do like the San Francisco group’s songs. However, what really stands out to me and wins me over is a band’s or artist’s acknowledgment of their fans in a live concert setting.

Even though Monahan chose to use a giant megaphone to sing through during various verses throughout the night, Train needs no assistance when it comes to reaching their audience. Not a Train fan? Check the guys out anyway when they play a city near you. You will be energized via osmosis exuded from fans all around you. Trust me, the vibe is contagious.

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Eric Hutchinson Preps Crowd for Kelly Clarkson

Eric Hutchinson
Rosemont Theatre – Rosemont, IL
October 27, 2009

Eric Hutchinson Rosemont Theatre

To be honest, I am the person who knows every song on the radio, yet fails to know who the artist is. Many times, I have caught myself singing the song “Rock & Roll,” thinking about how catchy it is and how much I like it. On Monday, October 26th, 2009 Eric Hutchinson performed at the Rosemont Theatre, holding a coveted slot opening for Kelly Clarkson. To my surprise, as I was bopping my head along to Eric’s soulful melodies, I found myself singing along to the song “Rock & Roll.” Finally, my mystery was solved and the respect that I was giving to Eric already, sky-rocketed. I immediately made it my mission to seek out his music after the concert.

More photos of Eric Hutchinson after the jump…

Set List / Chicago
All Over Now
You Don’t Have to Believe Me
Back to Where I Was
OK, It’s Alright With Me
Rock & Roll

Eric Hutchinson Rosemont TheatreHutchinson’s first song “All Over Now” jump-started the vibe for his entire performance. The jazzy bassist, soul-filled drummer, funky keyboardist, and collective harmonious background vocals added to the already dynamic show. Eric brought guitar and piano elements to the mix, showing everyone why he deserved to be onstage while singing “All Over Now.” Playing electric guitar to kick off his set supporting Kelly Clarkson, Hutchinson danced across the stage with fancy footwork that reminded me of a funkier version of James Brown.

By the third song “Oh!” Hutchinson was comfortably seated at his keyboard. I expected Eric’s busy feet to stop at any moment, but they did not. Even while singing his heart out at the keys, Hutchinson’s two feet were dancing out of control with the beat. Hutchinson, bolstered by his boyish good looks and beautiful voice continued to amaze me. Needless to say, I was blissfully content.

With the song “Back to Where I Was,” fans immediately began clapping upon hearing the first bar of music. Then Eric, waiting to come in, said: “Yeah, keep clapping, I like it,” adding that it would “keep him on track.” Eric followed “Back to Where I Was” with his latest single, “OK, It’s Alright With Me.” The singer/songwriter performed on NBC’s Late Night With Conan O’Brien show earlier in the year. I nodded my head along to the familiar beat and groove. However, the night’s performance did not come around full circle until “Rock & Roll,” which was of course the last song Eric Hutchinson performed.

I instantly recognized the radio hit and a huge smile spread across my face accordingly. This song’s folksy, fast-paced rhythm that I so dearly loved had been the sound and style of Eric Hutchinson the whole time! As “Rock & Roll” came through the house PA system, I found myself being brought to a very happy place. Simultaneously with the hit single’s introduction, I commenced singing along and graciously complied when Eric told the audience to: “Get up to get ready for Kelly.” Eric Hutchinson, along with his band, was the first performance I have witnessed in quite awhile that has presented the audience with quality showmanship. The vocals, the unity of Hutchinson’s band, and his creative dancing appeared to be 100% genuine talent and skill. Basically, Eric Hutchinson’s concert was an awesome start to a fantastic concert. I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Someone point me to the Soul Section!

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Written and Photographed by: Kaytee Doering

Can Ingrid Michaelson Please Be My Best Friend?

Ingrid Michaelson
Park West – Chicago, IL
October 26, 2009

Ingrid Michaelson Park West

I am ‘that girl’ who was more excited to see Ingrid Michaelson than to see Dave Matthews himself (sorry Dave) last summer when she opened for his namesake band as part of their national tour. When I found out I was going to her headlining show Monday night at the Park West theater here in Chicago, I couldn’t imagine anything better than two hours of Ingrid: antics, music, and all. The anticipation I had for her sultry songs, her sarcastic sense of humor, and her musicality consumed me until the moment she commanded the stage with the song “Soldier” from her new album Everybody. After that first song, the pace of the show didn’t let down until the show was over.

More photos of Ingrid Michaelson after the jump…

Ingrid Michaelson Park WestWhether it be from comparing audience participation to a horrible kiss at the end of a good date during “The Hat” or a battle between the sexes with introductory cheer songs to sing to audiences before “You and I,” Ingrid knew how to keep everyone in hysterics. I can’t forget to include her pop-opera rendition of TLC’s hit “No Scrubs” before her acoustic ballads portion of the show or the part where she made everyone sing ‘Jingle Bells’ as mice. I think the audience was conflicted as to whether they wanted her to tell stories or sing, but once she begin singing and quit talking, no one was complaining. She delivered every song taking the audience on a rollercoaster of emotions from heavy songs like “The Chain” to romantic ballads like “Incredible Love” to breakup rants like “Once Was Love” and finally to the up-tempo sing-a-longs like “Everybody,” “Be Ok,” and her new hit “Maybe.”

Did I mention the fact that throughout the show, she played the guitar, ukulele, piano, and even made a cameo appearance at the drum set? Ingrid’s raw talent was all I needed for this show, but I can safely say that the added hilarity made it one of the best shows I have seen all year.

To top everything off, her and her band pulled off the most memorable encore I have ever experienced. Due to time constraints with the venue, instead of going offstage and running back on, Ingrid and her band hid on stage behind the drum set, guitars, and even a drumstick for about a minute then busted out the first song of the encore which was a rendition of her new hit “Maybe” as an ode to Mexican food.

The measure of her success and talent can be measured by the fact that I left the theater wondering why she didn’t sing this song from the album Boys and Girls or that song from her album Be OK. She did, however, sing most of the songs from her new album, which I found myself singing along to the next day without being familiar with them beforehand.

I left the show feeling satisfied and also like I can never get enough of Ingrid. Judging by the packed house she played for, neither can anyone else. For those of you who missed the show, I will leave you with this: “Cause maybe when she comes back, when she comes back around”, you won’t miss her show.

Written by: Kate Jacobsen

Boys Like Girls Bring ‘Love Drunk’ to Chicago

Boys Like Girls
The Riviera Theatre – Chicago, IL
October 18, 2009

Boys Like Girls The Riviera Theatre

For having been only the second time seeing Boys Like Girls live in concert, I must say I was quite impressed with their stage etiquette. The foursome from Boston, Massachusetts conducted themselves in true boy band / rock star style. During the band’s encore, lead singer Martin Johnson took a moment to really listen to what the die hard fans smashed up against the barricade in the front row had to say to him and his bandmates. “What did you say? You want water?” Johnson asked his tween fans just two feet away from him. After signaling the quartet’s tour/stage manager to grab some water bottles, the two guys began throwing out the water that was surely going to be untouched. One water bottle was chucked so far it practically made it to the back of the balcony! It was nice to see a band who cared about the well-being of their fans, the majority of whom were most definitely dehydrated from standing in the front row since doors opened at 4:30pm. By the time the water was handed out, the clock read somewhere around 9:30pm. Johnson then acknowledged that what he was doing was in reality quite detrimental to the venue’s bar sales and proceeded to apologize saying, “Sorry bar.”

More photos of Boys Like Girls after the jump…

Set List / Chicago

I Gotta Feeling (Black Eyed Peas cover)

Love Drunk

Five Minutes to Midnight

She’s Got a Boyfriend Now

The Shot Heard ‘Round the World


Heart Heart Heartbreak

Two Is Better Than One


Heels Over Head



Someone Like You

The Great Escape

Boys Like Girls The Riviera TheatreBryan Donahue (bass, backing vocals)

Boys Like Girls The Riviera TheatreJohn Keefe (drums)

Boys Like Girls The Riviera TheatrePaul DiGiovanni (lead guitar, backing vocals)

“This is the first song we ever wrote together,” admitted Johnson before Boys Like Girls launched into “Thunder.” The song is off the group’s debut album, the self-titled Boys Like Girls, which was released in August 2006. “Thunder” was also the third single off the band’s first record following the previous two singles “Hero/Heroine” and the mega smash hit that landed the band on the mainstream pop/punk/rock map “The Great Escape.” Boys Like Girls is currently performing around the country on their “Love Drunk” tour promoting sophomore release Love Drunk, which came out last month, more than three years after BLG’s first LP.

Boys Like Girls The Riviera TheatreMartin Johnson (lead vocals, rhythm guitar)

You would think that after three years of performing for millions of fans around the world, Johnson would have figured out how to maneuver his away around the stage. However, this was not evident at Chicago’s show last Sunday night at The Riviera Theatre. Johnson repeatedly kept walking over to stage right even though his microphone, being so near the stage right monitors, gave off horrible feedback. I’m not going to lie, I experienced a few “What the fuck?” moments where I pondered why Martin did what he did. Feedback hurts your ears, dude! With every wince, I silently cursed the Boys Like Girls frontman for putting me through the torture of being forced to hear that terrible high-pitched sound that no human being should be exposed to…

Boys Like Girls The Riviera TheatreBoys Like Girls closed their set with “The Great Escape,” which has been the guys’ biggest radio hit single to date. “Get up here. Get them all up here,” shouted Johnson to female fans taking a chance at crowd surfing their way up to the front in hopes of touching the lead singer’s fingertips. When venue security guards refused to help or even allow fans to get on stage, Johnson (in my opinion) crossed the line and called one of the security guys a “piece of shit.” A few seconds later Martin gave it one last try and gave out the order: “Everybody get on stage!” I have to admit, what happened next was pretty cool to watch. All I remember is seeing kids everywhere around me rushing to get through the fans holding court in the general admission pit and onto the stage. Some people made it up there, some did not. When the guys finished playing “The Great Escape,” Johnson handed his guitar back to his guitar tech and stage dived directly into the pit. From there, he continued to be groped and supported by 15 year old girls while venue and tour security attempted to save his life from the hands of hormone-crazed tween fans.

New song “Heart Heart Heartbreak” could be considered Boys Like Girls’ effort at writing part two of “It’s My Life” by rock gods Bon Jovi. The track is the first song on Love Drunk, kicking off the band’s new album with a harder and heavier rock sound. However, though “Heart Heart Heartbreak” may be a decent attempt at the BLG boys desperately trying to become real men, the song simply appears to be a blatant rip-off of Bon Jovi’s worldwide smash hit. Of course, maybe if Boys Like Girls had the best pop songwriter in the world Max Martin co-writing songs with them, as Bon Jovi had with “It’s My Life,” then they too would have a worldwide hit single.

Another new song off the Love Drunk album “Two Is Better Than One” features country sweetheart Taylor Swift. Unfortunately, the audience at the Boys Like Girls concert this past weekend were not graced with Swift’s presence. When it came time to play “Two Is Better Than One,” the lead singer from one of the opening bands came out to sing Taylor’s verse. Apparently, Martin Johnson has written a few songs with Swift. After looking up Johnson on ASCAP’s online database, I discovered that he is the band’s main songwriter. Then curious, I searched for the song “Thunder” because Johnson claimed that it is the “first song we ever wrote together.” Umm, together? More like written by Martin Johnson and Martin Johnson alone. Sorry folks, but ASCAP does not lie when it comes to writing credits. Look it up for yourself here.

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Cobra Starship Brings ‘Hot Mess’ to Chicago

Cobra Starship
The Riviera Theatre – Chicago, IL
October 18, 2009

Cobra Starship The Riviera Theatre

It was so weird observing the fans at last night’s Cobra Starship concert in Chicago. Having been a fan of this New York City synthpop alternative dance band since July 2006, it was interesting to see how one hit song from the group’s third studio album has graced the fivesome with mainstream success. Yours truly has seen Cobra Starship perform live in concert every time the band has played in Chicago for over three years. Neither of their first two records spawned any radio singles, but still the shows would sell out with fans singing along to every single word to all the non-hit songs. I was surprised upon discovering that Cobra Starship wasn’t headlining the show last night at The Riviera Theatre. That coveted spot on the tour went to Boys Like Girls. Both bands have two big songs to their name. However, I believe that Cobra Starship has the bigger fan base and should have closed out the show last night. Do you agree?

More photos of Cobra Starship after the jump…

Set List / Chicago

The City Is At War

Pete Wentz Is the Only Reason We’re Famous

Nice Guys Finish Last

Smile For The Paparazzi

Wet Hot American Summer

Bring It (Snakes On a Plane)

Guilty Pleasure

Hot Mess

Good Girls Go Bad

Cobra Starship The Riviera TheatreVictoria Asher (keytar, backing vocals)

Cobra Starship The Riviera TheatreRyland Blackinton (lead guitar, synthesizer, backing vocals)

At one point during either the first or second song of Cobra Starship’s set, lead singer and main songwriter Gabe Saporta caught a fan’s bra and proceeded to rub it on his face. But that’s not all. Saporta then continued to scrunch the girl’s bra up in his fist and shove it down the front off his pants. Yup, right down into his crotch. That’s rock star behavior for you. If anybody knows the truth, I would like to know if Saporta and keytarist Victoria Asher are dating. My friend Becky asked me in the middle of the band’s set if Gabe and Vicky were together due to the simply fact that he was biting and licking her neck sporadically throughout the performance. I mean, that could just be the way Gabe is, which is a little out there for me. On the other hand, she is the only girl in the band. I’m just saying…

Cobra Starship fans got a treat last night when the band played their new single “Hot Mess” as the second to last song of their set. Apparently, Gabe Saporta and Co. have only performed the song live in concert once before. So if you were at the show last night, you witnessed Cobra Starship play “Hot Mess” for only the second time live in concert. Before launching into the title track off Cobra’s latest record Hot Mess, Saporta informed the crowd that the group had not played it live before because they simply didn’t know how to play it. My guess is that it had been so long since the band played it for the album’s recording that they honestly couldn’t remember how to play it. Not unusual, as this happens all the time with artists going out on the road to promote a new LP. Hence the weeks and weeks of rehearsal that huge artists commit to when preparing for a nationwide or worldwide tour. Seeing as how “Hot Mess” is the new single from Cobra Starship, the group better be able to play it with their eyes closed!

Cobra Starship The Riviera TheatreGabe Saporta (lead vocals)

As expected, Cobra Starship closed out their set with the song that brought them millions of new fans. I’m talking about “Good Girls Go Bad.” Normally, the song features Gossip Girl star Leighton Meester sharing lead vocal duties with Saporta. However, when performed live Vicky takes the spotlight for a bit. Asher probably does a better job singing every night than Meester could ever pull off without the assistance of good old reliable Auto-Tune to keep her in key and on pitch. Watching the tween fans go crazy singing their hearts out and jumping up and down during “Good Girls Go Bad” was amazing. I am so proud of Cobra Starship for not giving up on their career. It took the NYC band more than three years to get a song on the radio, but they never stopped touring and playing their music to any kids that would listen. There’s no way in hell anybody can call Cobra a bunch of sell-outs at this point.

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*Not photographed: Alex Suarez (bass, synthesizer, backing vocals) and Nate Novarro (drums)

Amanda Blank Fall Tour



amanda blank i love you

The cold nights of November demand a hot dancefloor and the solution is simple: Amanda Blank. Opening for Peaches at Terminal 5 in New York on November 14th and wrapping up at the Wiltern in Los Angeles on November 28th, Ms. Blank will be touring in support of her debut I Love You (Downtown Recordings) that has people crowding dancefloors from her native Philly to the snowy steppes of Switzerland. Her live show has been so electric that it’s prompted Santigold, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and the indie-pop darlings Matt & Kim to bring her out on the road and these dates with Peaches promise more of the same. Expect an evening of dance floor burners and anthems for those who live by night. Tour dates and more information below.

“…she makes being ladylike sound hardcore.” – ROLLING STONE

[Read more…]

Paramore Shows Off Their ‘Brand New Eyes’

House of BluesChicago, IL
October 10, 2009Paramore House of Blues“One time, we sold more records than Mariah Carey did,” lead singer Hayley Williams of Paramore proudly announced after performing new song “Turn It Off.” Before launching into the classic dance track “Here We Go Again,” Williams told fans, “We’re gonna play another old one for you.” The song is off the band’s debut album All We Know Is Falling and happens to be one of my personal favorites out of Paramore’s entire repertoire of music. Hearing the Franklin, Tennessee (near Nashville) fivesome play “Here We Go Again” live in concert is always a unique experience. This is because Paramore performs the song with an extended and/or alternate ending not heard on the original album recording. If you don’t know, or want to know, what I’m referring to, make sure you check out Paramore when they play a city near you on the ‘Brand New Eyes’ tour. The band always performs “Here We Go Again.” It is by far a staple of their live set.

More photos of Paramore after the jump!

Set List / Chicago



Caught Myself

That’s What You Get

Looking Up


Crush Crush Crush

Turn It Off

Here We Go Again



Where The Lines Overlap




Misguided Ghosts

Misery Business

Brick By Boring Brick

Paramore House of BluesJeremy Davis (bass)

Paramore House of BluesHayley Williams (lead vocals)

New song “Careful” off Paramore’s third studio album Brand New Eyes received an introduction from Williams that “Just because I have a mic stand, does not mean this song is slow.” Another new track “Where The Lines Overlap” had Williams informing fans that “This next song is about how awesome I think life is with these guys right now.” The recently turned platinum blonde (a Gwen Stefani influence perhaps?) frontwoman was of course talking about her four bandmates as “these guys.” This particular track may just be my favorite selection off Brand New Eyes. “Where The Lines Overlap” also proved to be the one song that made guitarist Josh Farro smile on stage. I am not kidding here people. My friend Sarah and I noticed that not once did Josh crack even a remote semblance of a smile on stage. However, that was until the performance of what I consider to be the most honest, grateful, thankful, and optimistic musical composition Paramore has written to date.

Paramore House of BluesTaylor York (rhythm guitar)

As expected, Twilight fans freaked out when lead guitarist Farro began playing the first two notes of “Decode.” If you didn’t know already, Paramore contributed a song to the original motion picture soundtrack to the blockbuster hit film Twilight. The final song “Outro” before Paramore’s encore had Williams down on her knees front and center in front of the 1,400 people lucky enough to get into the sold out show this past Saturday in Chicago. “Misguided Ghosts” kicked off the grand finale three-song encore with guitarist Farro, bassist Jeremy Davis, and Williams sitting themselves down at the edge of the stage. The three band members were then two feet away from front row fans clinging for dear life to the barricade. Keeping with the original version of the Brand New Eyes track, “Misguided Ghosts” was performed acoustic at Chicago’s House of Blues. Truth be told, this was the most intimate musical scenario I have seen Paramore in since August 2006. That being when I was one of about 30 kids watching the then foursome play an in-store appearance at the old Tower Records. “And just for the record, I might forget the words to it. It’s been known to happen,” announced Hayley when introducing “Misguided Ghosts.” After the campfire sing-along, Williams told the audience, “You sounded gorgeous!”

Paramore House of BluesFollowing “Misery Business,” Williams remarked that “It’s date #2 on the ‘Brand New Eyes’ tour. Thank you for helping us kick it off right.” Leading into the last song of the night “Brick By Boring Brick,” Hayley let fans know that, “This next song is our new single. We just shot a video for it.” To my utter shock and disappointment, Paramore did not include “Pressure” in their set. What was up with that?! “Pressure” happens to be the one song that made me fall head over heels in love with this band back in June 2006. Upon hearing the song from beginning to end just once in my friend’s apartment, I was hooked. I then proceeded to spend the rest of the day playing “Pressure” on repeat, driving my friend crazy with my new obsession. I have since seen Paramore live in concert every time they have played in Chicago for the past three years and not once was “Pressure” not a part of the set. My heart broke a little when I first glanced at the set list before the band walked out on stage. I held out hope that at the last second, Paramore would break out an impromptu performance of the song, but no such luck. Before I knew it, the show was over and I didn’t get to sing my heart out to “Pressure” until losing my voice.

Paramore House of BluesZac Farro (drums)

Paramore House of BluesJosh Farro (lead guitar, backing vocals)

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Paper Route On the Road to Success

Paper Route
House of Blues – Chicago, IL
October 10, 2009

Paper Route House of BluesEven though Paper Route hail from Nashville, Tennessee just like touring mates Paramore, I couldn’t help but wonder why both bands were on the same bill (or tour for that matter) last Saturday night at Chicago’s House of Blues. Paper Route’s MySpace page categorizes the foursome’s music as being Indie / Ambient / Electronica. I would place Paramore more in the Pop / Rock / Christian field. However, iTunes lists both bands in the Alternative genre. The track “Gutter” off Paper Route’s latest release Absence even had a retro feel to it during the chorus. Whatever. In other words, I’m trying to say that I have no idea how to classify Paper Route’s music and didn’t think Paramore’s headlining ‘brand new eyes’ tour was the best opening slot for the band. But someone out there did. Putting my opinion on tour billing aside, I am thankful for the opportunity to have seen Paper Route perform live in concert for the first time this past weekend.

More photos of the guys in Paper Route after the jump…

Set List / Chicago



Are We All Forgotten

Enemy Among Us

Tiger Teeth

You Kill Me


Dance On Our Graves

Paper Route House of Blues(rhythm guitar)

Paper Route House of BluesAndy Smith (vocals, guitars, harmonica)

It was interesting to see a band like Paper Route have two lead singers taking turns with lead vocal responsibilities. Both Andy Smith and J.T. Daly proved ambidextrous with their voice as one instrument while simultaneously playing the guitar and keyboard, respectively. Smith and Daly, being the multi-instrumentalists that they are, handed off the tambourine back and forth to each other throughout their set. We all need a little tambo in our lives, I suppose. To round out the band’s live sound, a rhythm guitarist performed with Paper Route. I always enjoy when bands bring along more players for the live show when touring. It just sounds so much better when there are more instruments and/or voices performing a song that requires those extra elements to sound even remotely similar to the album recording of the composition. Unfortunately, I could not find out what this rhythm guitarist’s name is to give him credit in the photos.

Paper Route House of BluesChad Howat (bass, piano, programming)

While Paper Route conducted a brief soundcheck moments before their set began, girls pressed up against the barricade in the front row inquired about the personal life of lead singer / guitarist Andy Smith. I clearly recall hearing one young lady in particular ask Smith, “Are you married?” after catching a glace of his wedding band. Upon receiving confirmation that indeed, Smith is a married man, the same girl (or her BFF sidekick) exclaimed something like, “Your wife is a very lucky woman!” Ahh, the typical tween crowd and their raging hormones. It’s not about the music for some fans, it’s about the cute boys in bands. Although at first glance, my friend Sarah and I did make the observation that the Paper Route dudes resembled clean cut preppy frat boys. A few were decked out in white button down dress shirts, and the drummer Gavin McDonald went all out and was rocking the suspenders!

Paper Route House of BluesJ.T. Daly (vocals, keyboards, percussion)

Paper Route House of BluesGavin McDonald (drums)

Throughout Paper Route’s performance, I could not for the life of me think of what other band and/or artist PR reminded me of. Some names that came to me were Hey Champ or MGMT? During the slower songs, maybe OneRepublic or Carolina Liar? During the faster, more poppy songs maybe Hellogoodbye? Sarah and I were racking our brains mentally searching for what other bands fall into the dance / pop / rock / electronica genre of music. I may be totally off here, so let me know what your thoughts are. What do you think about Paper Route’s unique (or maybe not at all unique) sound?

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Colbie Caillat Breaks Through Fear of Performing

Colbie Caillat
The Riviera Theatre – Chicago, IL
October 7, 2009

Colbie Caillat The Riviera TheatreArtists all over the world should take a note from Colbie Caillat when it comes to performing live in concert. If I had to choose one thing that impressed me the most about Caillat, it is that this woman sure knows how to connect with her audience. Whereas a band like Green Day holds the #1 spot for audience interaction, Caillat proved pretty adept at acknowledging her fans and making sure they knew that she knew they were right there in front of her. There was no jumping from song to song without addressing the crowd. In between every musical selection on the night’s set list, Caillat made sure to add tidbits of commentary. It didn’t matter what she talked about (in my opinion) because Colbie had the decency to attempt a closing of the gap between artist and fan. And I appreciated that to no end last Wednesday evening in Chicago. On her first headlining tour, Colbie Caillat sang songs from her first album Coco and her latest record Breakthough. Caillat’s sophomore effort Breakthrough was recorded in Hawaii and reached #1 on the Billboard charts the week of its release.

More photos of Colbie Caillat and some notes from her show after the jump…

Set List / Chicago

I Won’t

One Fine Wire

Begin Again


Feelings Show

Don’t Cha (The Pussycat Dolls cover)

Dreams Collide


Tied Down

No Woman, No Cry (Bob Marley cover)

I Never Told You

Somethin’ Special

The Little Things

Fallin’ for You


Lucky (w/o Jason Mraz)


Colbie Caillat The Riviera Theatre“Realize” was the fourth song of the night and my personal favorite of Caillat’s repertoire. The singer gratefully thanked her fans at Chicago’s Riviera Theatre for making the song reach #1 on the Billboard music charts before launching into the second single from debut album Coco. To help round out her set, Colbie Caillat performed a cover of The Pussycat Dolls megahit “Don’t Cha,” which she informed the crowd had been something she always wanted to do. Seeking to empower women versus degrading them, Caillat changed the song’s lyric from the original line “Don’t cha wish your girlfriend was wrong like me” to “Don’t cha wish your girlfriend was strong like me.” Not sure if anyone else watching noticed that, but my friend Becky and I sure did…and we liked what we heard.

Colbie Caillat The Riviera TheatreAs I mentioned before, Colbie Caillat never ceased to converse with her fans and band during breaks in between songs. At one point she had her bass player show off his dance moves, which he was rumored to have put to use the previous night while out on the town. “I couldn’t go out last night because I had to go to bed,” Caillat remarked to both her bassist and fans. “Tied Down” off Coco was performed with accompaniment by both Caillat and her guitarist playing ukuleles. Never before have I seen a stage manager for a tour have such an integral role in the artist’s live show. Caillat’s tour stage manager Andy was given the order from the singer herself to prove his vocal skills, wherein Andy proceeded to sing a cover of Bob Marley’s “No Woman, No Cry.” I have to admit, that was pretty entertaining to watch and honestly, who doesn’t like hearing or singing along to that song?

“I Never Told You” off Breakthrough was given the introduction from Caillat that “I want to perform it acoustic tonight because that is my favorite way to play.” I may be completely wrong on this observation, but that song vaguely reminded me of “Realize.” I couldn’t help but think that “I Never Told You” was a sort of continuation or part two of “Realize.” For the evening’s encore, Colbie Caillat returned to the stage wearing a Chicago Bears #23 jersey (Devin Hester, Wide Receiver). Caillat and her guitarist surprised the audience by performing her hit duet with Jason Mraz “Lucky” (minus Jason Mraz, of course). Then the moment inevitably arrived when Caillat gave her fans (the radio fans, as I call them) what they had been waiting for all night. Obviously, I am talking about the song “Bubbly,” which brought Colbie Caillat her mainstream success. Adoring female fans cheered as Caillat asked her audience, “Will you count me in?” And the rest is history…

Does anyone else think that Colbie Caillat appears to be a perfect combination of Jennifer Aniston and Mariah Carey?

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Howie Day Is More Than Just ‘Collide’

Howie Day
The Riviera Theatre – Chicago, IL
October 7, 2009


Howie Day Chicago 15

For those of you not aware, Howie Day just released his latest record Sound the Alarm last month. If you were at his Chicago show this past Wednesday, then you definitely heard a lot of new songs off Day’s third studio album. “She Says” was the second song performed during his too short (in my opinion) set of just 45 minutes. The song is “on both the first and second albums,” Day informed the crowd. Looking back at the singer/songwriter’s discography, I discovered that “She Says” from 2003’s Stop All the World Now is the ‘Chris Lord-Alge Mix.’ The version from debut album Australia (2002) is the ‘Original,’ which is basically another way to say acoustic instead of produced with additional instrumentation and arrangement. The song was then re-recorded in 2005 and released as a single. There’s no doubt in my mind that fans love both recordings of the song. Although Howie’s recordings are a mixture of acoustic and full band productions, his Chicago date on the Colbie Caillat tour had Day playing on acoustic guitar with assistance from his touring electric guitarist.

More photos of Howie Day and some notes from the show after the jump…

Set List / Chicago

Be There

She Says

Perfect Time of Day




Standing In the Sun

My Heart Will Go On (parody cover)


No Longer What You Require

Before playing “Weightless” off his new album, Howie Day let fans in a little insider information. The talented guitarist told his audience that “Weightless” was probably his favorite track on the record because “My mom likes this one, you know?” How could he not express a little favoritism toward the song after finding out it was his mom’s favorite? Not to be perceived as being too serious, Day snuck in a brief parody cover of “My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion. Singing in his best falsetto (make that mock falsetto), Day stopped after the Titanic theme song’s first verse much to the crowd’s disappointment. Howie thought the crowd would understand it was just a joke, but soon realized that people were really truly into the impromptu cover and wanted him to keep going and finish the song!

Howie Day The Riviera TheatreAlas, Howie Day finally gave the audience what they were waiting for, “Collide,” which was the hit that made Day a household name in the world of mainstream music. This was when the radio fans (as I call them) blatantly stood out from the die hard Howie Day fans who have supported him through his career for the past seven years. As soon as Day began strumming the opening chord progression of monster smash hit “Collide,” those in the venue who only know that particular Howie Day song exploded with cheers. After all, this was the one piece of music the radio fans recognized and therefore had to release their built-up anticipation somehow. Why not scream and holler so as to express how grateful they were to finally have Day play “Collide.”

Even if you only know Howie Day because of one hit (ahem, read above paragraph), you should check him out live in concert at least once. You will not be disappointed. My friend at the show made the comment that Howie was like “a guitar DJ” after witnessing him utilize his foot pedal like it was a turntable/Macbook Pro combination. I cannot fathom the amount of skill and practice it must take to master this omnipresent piece of equipment; with your feet no less! At one point during Day’s set, he was squatting down and working the foot pedal with his fingers, twisting knobs and pushing buttons as if he grew up spinning vinyl, not plucking guitar strings. Needless to say, I was incredibly impressed and now have a level of respect for Howie Day that I never would have had before seeing him work his magic on the spot live onstage.

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The Bravery Debuts New Songs in Chicago

The Bravery
The Vic Theatre – Chicago, IL
October 4, 2009

The Bravery Vic Theatre Chicago 8

Sam Endicott (lead vocals, rhythm guitar)

The Bravery will be releasing their third studio album Stir the Blood in November and from the sneak preview of new songs the band gave Chicago last night, it might be their best effort yet. Having been a fan of New York City’s The Bravery since hit single “An Honest Mistake” was released in early 2005, I noticed that the group’s sound on debut record The Bravery and sophomore album The Sun and the Moon did not differ much at all. However, I was completely blown away by the fivesome’s latest material. It is really good…and different than their previous compositions. The Bravery has only let fans hear lead single “Slow Poison” and “Hatefuck,” so the audience was hearing new songs for the first time live in concert last night at Chicago’s historic Vic Theatre. It was blatantly obvious when the band played a new song. All I had to do was look around at the crowd and see that the fans who normally sing along to every word of the old classics were not singing along at all when hearing something they did not recognize. Totally understandable, just funny to observe…

More photos of The Bravery and some notes from the show after the jump…

Set List / Chicago


No Brakes

Bad Sun

Public Service Announcement


This Is Not The End



Red Hands and White Knuckles

Split Me Wide Open

Swollen Summer

Time Won’t Let Me Go

Slow Poison

An Honest Mistake


The Ocean


The Bravery The Vic TheatreMichael Zakarin (lead guitar, backing vocals)

The first single off the band’s new record is “Slow Poison,” which frontman Sam Endicott informed the crowd “is on the radio” when introducing the piece to a half full venue (the balcony was even closed off). Endicott and Co. have been performing “Hatefuck” live during shows since the beginning of July while serving as the first of various rotating opening acts for Green Day’s summer arena tour. One can see why “Slow Poison” was chosen as the radio single as opposed to another titled “Hatefuck.” FCC rules and regulations anyone? Not sure if the guys in The Bravery thought they could have gotten away with playing a song that includes the word “fuck” over the airwaves. Nobody could afford those FCC fines.

The Bravery The Vic TheatreMike Hindert (bass, backing vocals)

Lead singer and rhythm guitarist Sam Endicott introduced “Believe” by explaining to fans that “the next song is about Magnetic Field, my favorite bar in Brooklyn where I spent a lot of time writing.” At one point during the band’s set, Endicott and bassist Mike Hindert switched up roles to perform a new song whose title was not announced. Hindert took over rhythm guitar duties and stepped up to the microphone placing himself front and center and proceeded to give the crowd a taste of his lead vocal chops. Endicott proved to be ambidextrous with his instrumental skills and played bass guitar while resigning himself to backing vocals in order to let Hindert enjoy the spotlight for a few minutes.

The Bravery The Vic TheatreAnthony Burulcich (drums, backing vocals)

Crowd favorite “Time Won’t Let Me Go” was given the introduction from Endicott that “the next song is about my favorite book The Outsiders.” The hit single from The Sun and the Moon was then performed with vocal participation provided by die hard fans. It was quite the drunken sing along with the guy standing directly behind me even harmonizing right along with the four dudes singing backing vocals on stage. He wasn’t bad either; on key and belting the correct pitch without any wincing or ear plugging by yours truly. I was impressed. “The Ocean” had lead guitarist Michael Zakarin using a violin (or viola?) bow to play his guitar, which was intriguing to watch to say the least. In between “The Ocean” and final song “Fearless” The Bravery performed another new one with Endicott telling audience members “I don’t know what this one is called yet.” All I know is, I liked it and cannot wait until Stir the Blood comes out next month!

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MAYDAY PARADE is co-headlining the Fall Ball ’09 to promote their upcoming album Anywhere But Here. Please let me know if you’re interested in reviewing the album, scheduling an interview or checking out one of the shows. Thank you!

~ Infectious rockers MAYDAY PARADE will herald the release of their major label debut “Anywhere But Here” with a nearly non-stop tour schedule, including a co-headlining slot on Alternative Press’ tour “The Fall Ball ’09” alongside The Academy Is…, Set Your Goals, The Secret Handshake, and You Me At Six.

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Blink-182 Plays For 30,000 Chicago Fans

First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre
Tinley Park, IL
August 15, 2009

Blink-182 First Midwest Bank AmphitheatreTom DeLonge (guitar, vocals)

More photos of Mark, Tom, and Travis from Blink-182 after the jump…

Blink-182 First Midwest Bank AmphitheatreMark Hoppus (bass, vocals)

Blink-182 First Midwest Bank AmphitheatreTravis Barker (drums)

Set List / Chicago

Blink-182 First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre

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Ne-Yo Headlines Macy’s Glamorama

Macy’s Glamorama
The Chicago Theatre
Chicago, IL
August 21, 2009

Ne-Yo Macy's Glamorama The Chicago Theatre

Although not able to attend the actual evening’s event – Macy’s Glamorama – I was still given the opportunity to watch the entire show from beginning to end during the dress rehearsal last Friday afternoon. The only difference being that featured musical guest Ne-Yo was not decked out in his full performance garb planned for the actual event later that evening. Instead, I got the rare chance to see one of my favorite songwriters/performers let loose and perform in “normal” everyday hanging out clothes. It was surprisingly cool to see him not in a designer suit (and tie, of course) or black-and-white tuxedo. I have seen Ne-Yo perform once before in June of 2008 when he opened for Alicia Keys at the Allstate Arena. I missed Ne-Yo’s appearances this summer, both at the annual Taste of Chicago (w/ Keri Hilson) and when he recently headlined The Chicago Theatre for a full-out concert promoting his latest and third album, Year Of The Gentleman. In my defense, nobody would go with me to either of those two Ne-Yo shows and I am tired of going to concerts alone. However, I was not about to miss Ne-Yo for the third time in three months, so skipping the Macy’s Glamorama dress rehearsal was NOT an option.

More photos of Ne-Yo after the jump…

Ne-Yo Macy's Glamorama The Chicago Theatre

R&B hitmaker Ne-Yo performed his massive single “Miss Independent” after the first designer, Marc Jacobs, showed off his latest collection. Not that I own anything by Marc Jacobs, but his clothes were my personal favorite out of all the designers at Macy’s Glamorama this year. If I had endless financial resources, I would probably buy every outfit worn by every model that walked the runway on The Chicago Theatre’s stage last Friday. After “Miss Independent” came the newest collection from MaxMara. Following the designs of Jean Paul Gaultier, Ne-Yo performed a song I had never heard before, “Back To What You Know,” before launching into another one of his extremely popular songs and first single off of Year Of The Gentleman, “Closer.” Closing out the show was the latest collection of men’s underwear from designer papi. I am going to assume that “Back To What You Know” is Ne-Yo’s next single off of his latest record. Even though I was a little shocked that Ne-Yo didn’t perform his third single “Mad” at the dress rehearsal, I understand that at a fashion show, you typically want to play upbeat dance music. “Mad” is a beautiful piece of music, but is more of a slow, piano ballad and not so much a good fit for supplying uptempo, high-energy beats to keep the audience excited and on the edge of their seats wanting more. Sure enough, Ne-Yo left me wanting more; what I wouldn’t give to see him perform all of his self-penned hits from the three albums he has released in the past three years.

Set List

Miss Independent

Back To What You Know


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Blink Is Back! Blink-182 Is Back!

Marcus Amphitheater
Milwaukee, WI
August 4, 2009

Blink-182 Marcus AmphitheaterMark Hoppus (bass, vocals)

I have never in my life laughed so hard at a concert than I did when I attended my first Blink-182 show last week in Milwaukee. Guitarist/singer Tom DeLonge and bassist/singer Mark Hoppus could seriously star in their own stand-up comedy act, complete with a prime-time half hour slot on television. By the end of the band’s hour and a half long set, my stomach ached from laughing. No joke – my abdominal muscles really hurt! I only wish drummer Travis Barker was given a microphone. It would have been cool to hear him say something – anything! He doesn’t talk that much. At least not when Mark and Tom are bantering back and forth as if the past four years (Blink-182’s “indefinite hiatus”) had never happened. At one point in between songs almost halfway through the band’s set, Tom and Mark took turns teasing each other, with Hoppus even going so far as to make fun of Tom’s song “Everything’s Magic” by his other band Angels & Airwaves. Well, Tom had it coming. DeLonge was wearing a freaking Angels & Airwaves T-shirt. And his in-ear monitors were custom-designed for Angels & Airwaves too. What the hell was up with that, Tom?! Not to mention that as I was walking into the venue, there were street teamers handing out Angels & Airwaves stickers. Needless to say, I was all for Mark embarrassing Tom in front of thousands of people. BOOM! ROASTED! Score for Mark!

More photos of Mark, Travis, and Tom from Blink-182 after the jump…

Blink-182 Marcus AmphitheaterTravis Barker (drums)

If you take a look at the set list below, you’ll see that Blink-182 played “Stockholm Syndrome” after “Always” instead of after “Violence.” On the band’s last untitled (well, self-titled) album Blink-182, the final 1 minute and 42 seconds of “Violence” serve as an outro of sorts, featuring dialogue provided by some random woman’s voice over a piano interlude. According to the record’s sequencing, this outro is considered the end of “Violence,” but in actuality, its purpose is more of an intro into “Stockholm Syndrome.” Honestly, it was weird hearing that chick start talking (over the Marcus Amphitheater’s PA system) after the boys finished my personal favorite Blink-182 song “Always.” It kind of came out of nowhere. Also, you wouldn’t know it by looking at the set list (unless you were there), but Tom made up his own little outro at the end of “First Date.” I call it the “Blow Job” interlude. Let’s just say it involved Tom finishing up his lead vocals on “First Date” by singing the actual lyrics “forever and ever, let’s make this last forever” over and over and over again, eventually changing the lyrics to revolve around blow jobs. Enough said.

Blink-182 Marcus AmphitheaterTom DeLonge (guitar, vocals)

After performing “Not Now” off of the Blink-182: Greatest Hits album, Tom broke out another little improvised ditty. I call this one the “Take Off Your Pants, Dad” interlude. Again, enough said. About 3/4 of the way through the night’s festivities, Tom told the crowd “I’m drunk” before immediately launching into a guitar intro riff (forgot what song, sorry!). Soon after announcing his intoxicated state of mind, DeLonge screamed out “Red Bull and vodka!” into the microphone, much to my delight. Side note: I used to work for Red Bull and therefore am very partial, loyal, protective, territorial, etc. to the brand. Yay for Red Bull and the fact that Tom DeLonge made it publicly known in Milwaukee what his preferred brand of energy drink is! We were meant to be… Well, Mark had to cut Tom off before his bandmate got too inappropriate and apologetically told fans, “Anyway, this next song is a real bum-out.” Can you guess what song Blink-182 played next? I knew it the second Mark uttered the words “bum-out.” Of course, Mark was talking about none other than “Adam’s Song” from the band’s most successful album to date, Enema Of The State. Man oh man, Mark was not kidding around when he called “Adam’s Song” a real bum-out. The track can totally make me cry if I’m feeling depressed/down/blue/sad/hopeless you name it. It is about suicide after all. How can that topic not be depressing?

Moments before the boys in Blink-182 launched into “All The Small Things,” Tom announced to fans, “You know, just because we’re back together doesn’t mean I still don’t hate these guys,” while pointing to Travis (behind him) and Mark (to his right). For the encore, Travis got to show off his mad drumming skills while performing a solo to a remix of Jay-Z’s “Dirt Off Your Shoulder” while strapped down safely to his drum kit as it floated through the air over the stage. Honestly, I don’t know how Travis had the guts to do what he did. His drum kit platform was suspended 20-30 feet up in the air by these rubber bouncy cables on all four corners while the base rotated and leaned at various angles. Barker was tipped and turned in every direction except completely upside down.

The band’s Milwaukee gig ended with the hit that put Blink-182 on the road to mainstream success, “Dammit.” Upon hitting the last note, both DeLonge and Barker walked away from their instruments and off stage, while Hoppus remained firmly planted in front of his microphone on stage right. Now it was Mark’s turn to improvise, with his interlude consisting of the following lyrics: “I’m sorry about my friend Tom; I know what he said is inappropriate.” Hoppus supported the words with a simple bass line while singing that phrase over and over, faster and faster as the audience clapped and sang along. I realize this was Mark’s attempt to undo the foul language that came from DeLonge’s potty-mouth all night long, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Tom’s stage antics and inappropriate dialogue is what makes a Blink-182 show a Blink-182 show!

Hoppus then proceeded to sit down at Barker’s drum kit and show the crowd his drum skills, or rather lack thereof (compared to Travis that is). For the last few minutes, thousands of Blink fans either slowly exited the amphitheater, or stayed and watched Mark play his drum solo over a backing track of some horrendous song called “Let Me Smell Your Dick.” Then all of a sudden Hoppus got up and walked off stage and poof, the show was really over. I could have watched those three guys play all night long. I didn’t want the night to be over. It took me 12 years to see Blink-182 live in concert, but I finally can say I’ve seen them!

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Fall Out Boy: From Headliner To Opener

Fall Out Boy
Marcus Amphitheater
Milwaukee, WI
August 4, 2009

Fall Out Boy Marcus AmphitheaterPatrick Stump (lead vocals, rhythm guitar)

Wow. Seeing Fall Out Boy perform as an opening act was weird. After watching Patrick, Andy, Joe, and Pete headline various venues in Michigan and all over Chicago, it was almost surreal to realize that the guys were not going to be the last artist to perform that night. I guess it takes a reunited band like Blink-182 to make Fall Out Boy give up their headliner status and return to the role of support act. Just this past May I witnessed the four dudes in FOB play for an hour and a half at the Allstate Arena. And for that show, Fall Out Boy had four openers out with them for their Believers Never Die Part Deux tour. Last Tuesday in Milwaukee, Fall Out Boy shortened their set from what was previously 90 minutes to just 50 minutes. The foursome from Chicago barely had time to fit in three new songs from their latest album Folie A Deux, much to my disappointment. I have seen the group perform live in concert enough times that I had hoped to hear more new songs at this show.

More photos of Patrick, Andy, Joe, and Pete from Fall Out Boy after the jump…

Fall Out Boy Marcus AmphitheaterAndy Hurley (drums)

For one fourth of Fall Out Boy, this was a hometown show. Drummer Andy Hurley hails from Milwaukee, WI. However, only serious fans of the band would know this because FOB formed in the suburbs of Chicago where the other three members hail from. Now that Fall Out Boy has become one of the biggest pop/rock bands in the world, half of the band has relocated to the City of Angels. Both bassist/lyricist Pete Wentz and singer/guitarist (rhythm) Patrick Stump now permanently reside in Los Angeles. Although it saddens me to know that Patrick – who writes the band’s music – lives in la la land, I understand that it’s best for him to live there for work-related reasons. You may not know this, but Stump is quite the busy bee producing and writing for up-and-coming bands riding on the coattail benefits that come with knowing Pete Wentz. Patrick tends to produce and co-write for bands on Wentz’s Fueled By Ramen label imprint, Decaydance Records.

Fall Out Boy Marcus AmphitheaterJoe Trohman (lead guitar, backing vocals)

Lead guitarist Joe Trohman continues to call Chicago home, and lives with his fiancee in the Wicker Park neighborhood of the Windy City. And as I mentioned before, drummer Andy Hurley still resides in Milwaukee when not holed up in a L.A. recording studio or traveling the world on tour with his band.  Back to the show… The chosen cover of the evening completely threw me off guard. Fall Out Boy has been performing a cover of Michael Jackson’s hit “Beat It” for the past couple of years on tour. It’s very good. So good in fact, that the band released their version of “Beat It” as a single with none other than John Mayer playing the guitar solo. However, when it came time at the show last week to play something both “fun and old” as Wentz put it, FOB broke out a cover of Journey’s most classic song, “Don’t Stop Believin’.”

Fall Out Boy Marcus AmphitheaterPete Wentz (bass, lyrics)

Don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining. Patrick killed it and sang his heart out, belting the high notes almost as good as Steve Perry.  I was simply confused as to why the guys would not perform their cover of “Beat It.” Especially in light of the King of Pop’s recent death and the fact that every other artist I’ve seen recently in concert has paid tribute to Jackson by performing a cover of one of his songs. Coldplay gave the crowd at Alpine Valley (WI) a rousing performance of “Billie Jean” last month; probably the best acoustic version of the song I’ve ever heard.  Oh well, I never get tired of seeing Fall Out Boy live in concert and singing along to every word of every song the band plays.  What else can I say?  Their music makes me happy!

Set List / Milwaukee

Sugar, We’re Goin’ Down


A Little Less Sixteen Candles, A Little More “Touch Me”

Grand Theft Autumn (Where Is Your Boy)

Headfirst Slide Into Cooperstown On A Bad Bet

This Ain’t A Scene, It’s An Arms Race

I Don’t Care

America’s Suitehearts

Thanks For The Memories (Thnks Fr Th Mmrs)

Don’t Stop Believin’ (Journey cover)

Dance, Dance


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The Exclamation Point Is Back!

Panic! At The Disco
Marcus Amphitheater
Milwaukee, WI
August 4, 2009

Panic! At The Disco Marcus AmphitheaterBrendon Urie (lead vocals, keyboard)

After witnessing the newly reformed Panic! At The Disco open for Blink-182 last Tuesday, I’m almost positive that I’ve figured out the reason why the band broke up last month. In case you didn’t hear, Panic! At The Disco members Ryan Ross and Jon Walker left the band to pursue their own musical endeavors. Original members Brendon Urie and Spencer Smith are still planning on making music as Panic! At The Disco and thank goodness for that. After reviewing the set list below, you will see that singer/keyboardist Brendon Urie and drummer Spencer Smith performed most of the band’s debut album A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out. Only one song, “Nine In The Afternoon,” from the foursome’s sophomore record Pretty. Odd. was chosen to be a part of the set list. Hmmm… I think it’s brazenly obvious that Urie and Smith wanted to go back to Panic! At The Disco’s original techno/dance/electronic sound that separated the group from every other pop/punk/rock band out there in this new millennium. Former and original guitarist/lyricist Ryan Ross and bassist Jon Walker are most likely going to keep on aspiring to be The Beatles, which is the band (and new sound) that most fans compare Pretty. Odd. to, whether Beatles fans agree or not.

More photos of Brendan Urie and Spencer Smith from Panic! At The Disco after the jump!

Panic! At The Disco Marcus AmphitheaterSpencer Smith (drums)

I hope to God that Brendon and Spencer bring back the old Panic! At The Disco song structure with lyrics you’ll never remember, titles that make absolutely no sense and are WAY too freaking long, and production-based sounds provided by tricked-out synthesizers and drum machines. I miss the songs off of A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out that conjure up memories of Nintendo video game music. Seriously though, you can’t deny that those songs are reminiscent of games such as Super Mario and the Land of the Six Golden Coins that I used to play on Game Boy back in the 90s. Good times… And what was up with the boys thinking it was a good move to take away the exclamation point after the first word of their band name?! That was pointless and utterly ridiculous to say the least. As if the name “Panic at the Disco” would somehow help the Las Vegas quartet’s career more than the name “Panic! At The Disco.” If anything, the punctuation mark helped to differentiate the group even more from its countless peers. Besides hearing Brendon and Spencer (plus touring band) perform the oldies, another highlight of the evening was getting a first listen to the band’s just released single “New Perspective.” The track is featured on the soundtrack to the movie Jennifer’s Body.

Set List / Milwaukee

Lying Is The Most Fun A Girl Can Have Without Taking Her Clothes Off

Time To Dance

But It’s Better If You Do

London Beckoned Songs About Money Written By Machines


New Perspective (from Jennifer’s Body original soundtrack)

Nine In The Afternoon

The Only Difference Between Martyrdom And Suicide Is Press Coverage

Nails For Breakfast, Tacks For Snacks

I Write Sins Not Tragedies

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Half of Chester French Plays Hometown Show

Chester French
Marcus Amphitheater
Milwaukee, WI
August 4, 2009

Chester French Marcus AmphitheaterD.A. Wallach (vocals, tambourine)

It was definitely cool to see Chester French perform in Milwaukee last Tuesday where the duo was first in a line of top-notch openers for Blink-182. First of all, I had never seen Chester French play for such a large crowd. This was an outdoor amphitheater for crying out loud! Not the House of Blues or Metro where I have seen D.A. and Max play before in Chicago. But I suppose when you are opening for Blink-182, playing in front of 15,000 to 20,000 people every night on tour becomes the norm. Second of all, lead singer, lyricist, and tambourine master D.A. Wallach is from Milwaukee, so I got to see one half of Chester French play a hometown show! D.A. still resides in Milwaukee when not traveling the world with songwriting partner and multi-instrumentalist Maxwell Drummey.

More photos of the boys in Chester French after the jump…

Chester French Marcus AmphitheaterMax Drummey (guitar, keyboard, synthesizer)

The only issue/complaint I had with this particular Chester French show was that the band did not have nearly enough time in their set. I wanted them to play more songs than the chosen five (see below) from their debut record Love The Future. But when the other two openers for Blink-182 are Panic! At The Disco and Fall Out Boy, getting 20 minutes to perform five and half songs is a pretty good deal. Also, normally Chester French boys D.A. and Max fit an awesome cover of No Doubt’s “Hella Good” into their live performances. However, this time around their set ended with a brief cover of Cutting Crew’s “(I Just) Died In Your Arms Tonight.” It just wasn’t the same! Oh well, the Chester French guys are changing it up and catching me off guard. And PS Max is noticeably more adept at playing guitar. I was impressed with his mad skills! If you didn’t know, Max studied jazz guitar for a bit at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. Go figure. Can’t wait to see D.A. and Max play their 20 minutes worth of music this Saturday in Chicago!

Set List / Milwaukee

The Jimmy Choos

She Loves Everybody

Bebe Buell

C’mon (On My Own)


(I Just) Died In Your Arms Tonight (Cutting Crew cover)

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Tori Amos Continues Musical Evolution

Tori Amos
The Chicago Theatre
Chicago, IL
August 3, 2009

Tori Amos The Chicago Theatre

Last Monday marked the fifth time I have seen Tori Amos live in concert. I will never get over how unbelievably talented that woman is. She never ceases to amaze me with her ability to play the piano and write such original music. As a huge fan of Tori Amos, it was truly a dream come true to have the opportunity to photograph her. If you have ever attended a Tori Amos concert, you may have noticed that there are no photographers in the photo pit during the first three songs of the singer/songwriter’s set. That is because there is no photo pit. Her fans are either sitting in the front row with their knees inches from the stage, or they are standing in a general admission pit and have their elbows resting on the stage floor. I have been in the second situation once before when Amos played The Vic Theatre in Chicago on November 5, 2007.

Many more photos of the amazing Tori Amos after the jump…

In order to photograph Tori, I had to show up at the venue for her early evening soundcheck. This is called a “photo call.” It was by far one of the most intimate experiences I’ve had with an artist whose music has had such a profound impact on my life since I was in middle school. I have since graduated from college and 14 years after first hearing of the piano prodigy, still consider Tori’s music an essential part of my life. For Tori’s photo call, I got to station myself in the front row (dead center, of course!) and take as many photos as I could while Tori Amos performed “Bouncing Off Clouds” in full performance hair, makeup, and outfit/costume. Although I only got to shoot one song’s worth of the musician I most admire in the world, it was the perfect situation. Tori’s songs are notoriously long, so I had plenty of time to get some great shots. Later, during the actual concert, Tori performed “Bouncing Off Clouds” as the second song of her set. This particular masterpiece, or “girl” as Tori Amos calls each of her songs, just so happens to be my favorite off of her 2007 album American Doll Posse. The night was filled with new songs off of Abnormally Attracted To Sin, the latest record from Tori Amos.  Even though Tori did not play any of the songs that I know how to play on the piano, I forgive her.  She is my idol when it comes to piano playing and songwriting.  Check out the set list below…

Set List / Chicago


Bouncing Off Clouds

Cornflake Girl

Fire To Your Plain

Curtain Call

Northern Lad


Police Me

Pandora’s Aquarium

That Guy

Cars And Guitars

Fast Horse

Marys Of The Sea

Lady In Blue


Strong Black Vine

Precious Things


Take To The Sky

Big Wheel

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Paolo Nutini Serves Songs ‘Sunny Side Up’

Paolo Nutini
The Vic Theatre
Chicago, IL
August 2, 2009

Paolo Nutini The Vic Theatre

Paolo Nutini is finally back! It has been three years since he released his debut album These Streets. This past June, sophomore record Sunny Side Up was made available to the world, placing Paolo Nutini back on the music scene map. I remember seeing Paolo Nutini perform live in concert for the first time in Chicago at the Double Door back in 2006. He was just 19 years old then and playing in front of hundreds of people in a country he had never visited before. I’m not joking – that Double Door concert was his first time in the United States of America! I was lucky enough to get the chance to meet the singer/songwriter from Scotland after the show. Though meeting Paolo Nutini lasted but a brief moment, I recall him being a shy, young teenager with such a strong Scottish brogue that I could barely comprehend a word he said to me.

More photos of Paolo Nutini after the jump…

Paolo Nutini The Vic Theatre

What I noticed the most three years ago was that Paolo Nutini sang with his eyes closed. I’m not talking about every once in awhile. He sang with his eyes closed during every single song for the entire performance. I understood that the guy was nervous, shy, overwhelmed, you name it. However, I did not expect that the next time I would see him live in concert, Paolo would still sing an full set without opening his eyes. Not sure about you, but I think three years of performing for audiences around the world would help you overcome any stage fright you once struggled with. Call me crazy, but I don’t understand why as an artist and a performer, Paolo Nutini fails to acknowledge his fans. All he has to do is look at them and register that there are people watching him who like his music enough to pay to see him perform his songs right in front of their eyes. And to top it all off, I’m pretty sure Paolo was completely stoned from the second he walked out on stage to the moment he walked off. And I’m not the only one who thought so… My friend Becky, who attended the show with me, was actually the one to ask me if I thought he was stoned. Needless to say, I could not have agreed more. I don’t know how the guy did it, but Nutini sang for over an hour without forgetting any lyrics or messing up in any way. I guess some people can perform perfectly fine under the influence.

Set List / Chicago

New Shoes

High Hopes

Alloway Grove

Coming Up Easy

No Other Way

Growing Up Beside You

Last Request

These Streets


Down In Mexico (The Coasters cover)

Loving You



Funky Cigarette

Jenny Don’t Be Hasty

Nevertheless, Paolo Nutini put on a great high-energy show and fans appeared to be having the time of their lives. One woman standing next to me had brought her little sister to the show after they both attended Nutini’s Detroit concert the previous night. The younger of the two sisters told me that they had spent the car ride from Detroit to Chicago listening to Paolo Nutini’s two albums nonstop over and over. A woman on the other side of me sang her heart out during her favorite Nutini song “Last Request.” This lady was belting out the words so loud, she drew stares, high-fives, and various versions of “You go, girl” exclamations from fans around her equally as into the music.

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America’s New (Singer/Songwriter) Sweetheart

Erin McCarley
The Vic Theatre
Chicago, IL
August 2, 2009

Erin McCarley The Vic Theatre

Thank goodness I went to see the movie He’s Just Not That Into You twice while it was playing at the movie theaters close to my apartment. Quite frankly, it was because of that star-studded film that I became obsessed with the song “Love, Save The Empty” by Erin McCarley. The first time I saw the movie, I walked out of the theater liking what I heard while watching the closing scene (complete with romantic comedy happy ending) and end credits. However, it wasn’t until the second time I went to see the movie a month or so later that I REALLY paid attention to Erin McCarley’s song “Love, Save The Empty.” This time around, I made my friends wait with me until the soundtrack credits rolled up the screen, just so that I could find out who sang that song. Upon reading the name Erin McCarley, I realized that I already had one of her songs, “Pony (It’s OK)” in my iTunes library and on my iPod. I instantly felt ashamed for never taking the time to listen to it since I was now in love with “Love, Save The Empty.”

More photos of my new favorite artist Erin McCarley after the jump!

Erin McCarley The Vic TheatreIf my memory serves me correctly, I had the track “Pony (It’s OK)” because it was one of two things: 1) an iTunes Store Free Single Of The Week download, which I redeem every Tuesday; or 2) a chosen Starbucks Pick of the Week iTunes single on a free download card, which I also collect every week. After seeing He’s Just Not That Into You on Easter Sunday this past April, I attended a Lily Allen concert. Nevertheless, the minute I got home from the show, I proceeded to buy “Love, Save The Empty” on iTunes. I had to have it that instant! The song then ended up consuming my life, day and night, for the next few weeks. It was a song that I could not go one day without listening to at least ten times!

Set List / Chicago


Pony (It’s OK)

Blue Suitcase


Lovesick Mistake

Love, Save The Empty

Tom’s Diner (Suzanne Vega & D.N.A. cover)


Gotta Figure This Out

Now that you know the backstory, you can imagine how thrilled I was to catch Erin McCarley live in concert this past Sunday when she opened up for Paolo Nutini at The Vic Theatre. Surprisingly, Erin either played guitar (both acoustic and electric) or simply sang instrument-less while her live touring band supplied the drums, piano/keyboard, and backing vocals. After hearing the recorded version of “Love, Save The Empty,” I had envisioned McCarley pulling a Sara Bareilles and rocking out on a piano (grand, baby grand, or upright) while playing that song. However, at this concert Erin played her guitar while one of her band members took over keyboard duties during my favorite song. Honestly, I was a little disappointed. For some reason, I thought Erin McCarley was more piano-based versus guitar-based with her music.

Erin McCarley The Vic TheatreI guess having only heard “Pony (It’s OK”) and “Love, Save The Empty” before any of McCarley’s other songs from debut album Love, Save The Empty lead me to believe she was the new piano girl on the music scene. Both tracks sound pretty piano-heavy to me. Well, now I know it’s actually the other way around. Not that I’m complaining. Words can’t explain how jealous I am that McCarley can play guitar, for it has always been an instrument I’ve wanted to learn to play. I got the piano down, but guitar remains a challenge for me.

Now, I hope Erin McCarley doesn’t take offense to the fact that I think she looks just like Fergie from the Black Eyed Peas. And I know I’m not the only one who caught the similarity in the appearance of these two female artists. My friend Becky, who attended the concert with me, agreed 100% when I told her this and said it was one of the first thoughts that passed through her mind upon seeing McCarley walk out on stage. Hopefully (fingers crossed!) Erin takes this observation from myself and Becky as a compliment. Fergie is gorgeous in my opinion! And so is Erin McCarley! The singer/songwriter currently resides in Nashville, Tennessee. However, Erin is originally from Dallas, Texas and told the crowd “If you’ve ever seen King Of The Hill, you know what that’s about…” in reference to her hometown.

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Chicago Welcomes Newcomer Matt Hires

Matt Hires
The Vic Theatre
Chicago, IL
August 2, 2009


Matt Hires The Vic Theatre

Having never before heard the songs of Matt Hires, I showed up at his show last night in Chicago with an open mind and ready for anything. I honestly had not heard of Matt Hires before discovering he was the opening act for Paolo Nutini (along with Erin McCarley). Let me tell you though, I liked what I heard. I mean, I REALLY liked what I heard. Not only did this 22-year-old from Tampa, Florida win me over with his music, but he also appears to be a truly humble and genuinely good person. He plays barefoot for crying out loud! How laid back is that? The only other artist I have ever seen perform shoeless on stage in front of thousands of people is Kelly Clarkson. I found myself comparing Matt Hires to lead singer Michael Stipe from R.E.M. throughout the evening, which I believe to be a good thing. I like Michael Stipe and think his voice stands out from the hundreds of other male singers out there. The fact that Hires has a voice so unique that it reminds me of an amazing artist like Stipe only makes me more of a fan for life.

Of course, what makes an artist truly succeed or not in the music business is their talent and songs. However, having a voice that doesn’t sound like any of the other millions of singer/songwriters in the world definitely helps. In my opinion, Matt Hires has what it takes to make it: talent, good songs, and a distinct voice. If you want to decide for yourself, check out Matt Hires when he plays a city near you. Or you can pick up his debut album Take Us To The Start, available now! No matter what, at least take a few minutes to listen to my personal favorite Matt Hires song, “Honey, Let Me Sing You A Song.”

Set List / Chicago

You Are My Sunshine / I Walk The Line (Johnny Cash cover/medley)

Honey, Let Me Sing You A Song

Pick Me Up

You In The End

A Perfect Day

You Are The One

Maggie’s Farm (Bob Dylan cover)

Listen To Me Now

Turn The Page

State Lines

More photos of singer/songwriter Matt Hires after the jump…

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Coldplay Continues To ‘Viva La Vida’

Alpine Valley Music Theatre
East Troy, WI
July 25, 2009

Coldplay Alpine Valley Music TheatreChris Martin (lead vocals, piano, rhythm guitar)

Words cannot explain the feeling of complete and utter happiness that I feel when I’m at a Coldplay concert. If you ever attend a Coldplay show with me, you will not be able to wipe the smile off of my face no matter how hard you try. A sense of euphoria rushes through me, almost as if the sensation I’m experiencing is a drug being pumped through my veins and spreading all throughout my body giving me a high like no other. Basically, I was feeling ecstatic without actually using the drug Ecstasy. Simply put, I LOVE Coldplay and their songs! After Green Day, Chris Martin and Co. are my favorite band without a doubt. Each member can play each other’s instruments and as a bonus, each member can sing! I love that during the band’s live shows, all four guys harmonize with lead singer and frontman Chris Martin. Singing backing vocals is just another part of playing in Coldplay for guitarist Jonny Buckland, bassist Guy Berryman, and drummer Will Champion. For the song “Death Will Never Conquer,” Champion takes over lead vocal duties, giving Martin a brief break, and proves that some drummers really can carry a tune.

Coldplay Alpine Valley Music TheatreJonny Buckland (lead guitar, vocals)

Opening with “Life In Technicolor,” fans couldn’t quite glimpse the band as the lights were still off, leaving the stage dark and the audience’s anticipation growing. “Life In Technicolor” is the instrumental track off of Coldplay’s latest studio album Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends, which was released in June of 2008. It is the first song on the record and also happens to be the first song that kicks off Coldplay’s live set on their Viva La Vida Tour. During the band’s performance of their hit single “Yellow,” which brought the English foursome mainstream success, gigantic yellow balloons were dispersed from each side of the stage by tour crew members who chucked them out into the crowd to be thrown about like beach balls, much to every fan’s delight. Coldplay performed a medley of songs from a B stage positioned halfway between the lawn and the stage on the far right edge of the pavilion seats. Those four songs can be found below in the set list with (B) following their titles. Coldplay then returned to the main stage to perform their massive hit “Viva La Vida” and past single “Lost.” Once more, the guys were seen running up the far left side of pavilion seats to a C stage positioned in the center of the lawn directly behind the mix. The three songs performed in the lawn can be found below with a (C) following their names. The C stage set concluded with what was probably the best cover of Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” that I have ever heard.

Coldplay Alpine Valley Music TheatreGuy Berryman (bass, vocals)

While the band ran back to the main stage from the lawn to launch into “Politik,” a remix of “Viva La Vida” kept the crowd singing along and desperately wanting more songs to be played. Confetti in the shape of multi-hued butterflies covered every single fan (me and my friend Vilmarie!) in the GA pit, as well as the majority of fans in the pavilion seats, during the second half of Coldplay’s newest single “Lovers In Japan.” Although “The Escapist” is not listed as an actual track included on Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends, Coldplay ends their Viva La Vida Tour with this outro. If you have the album, you’ll recognize “The Escapist” from the last 2 minutes and 46 seconds of the closing track “Death And All His Friends.” I have seen Coldplay live in concert five times and this was by far the best show yet. You must make it a point to see the band play a show at least once during your lifetime. You will NOT be disappointed. And make sure to catch Coldplay on tour NOW to pick up your free physical copy of the band’s brand new live album LeftRightLeftRightLeft. I got mine, now go get yours!

Set List / Alpine Valley

Life In Technicolor

Violet Hill


In My Place


Glass Of Water

Cemeteries Of London


Fix You

Strawberry Swing

Talk (Dance Version) / God Put A Smile Upon Your Face (B)

The Hardest Part (B)

Postcards From Far Away (B)

Viva La Vida


Green Eyes (C)

Death Will Never Conquer (C)

Billie Jean (Michael Jackson cover) (C)

Viva La Vida (Remix)


Lovers In Japan

Death And All His Friends


The Scientist

Life In Technicolor II

The Escapist (Death And All His Friends)

More photos of Coldplay after the jump…

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*Not photographed: Will Champion (drums, vocals)

Green Day Gives Fans the Time of Their Lives

Green Day
United Center – Chicago, IL
July 13, 2009

Green Day United CenterBillie Joe Armstrong (lead vocals, rhythm guitar)

I don’t even know where to begin when it comes to explaining how much I love Green Day, the band’s music, and their live performance. Prior to last Monday, I had only seen Green Day live in concert once before, and that was on May 10th, 2005 in Grand Rapids, Michigan at the Van Andel Arena. My Chemical Romance was the opening act. My seat was in the nose bleed section, and I could barely see anything on stage. I did not own any Green Day albums, but was familiar with the trio’s singles thanks to my younger cousin John and the radio. The next day I went straight to Best Buy before heading to work and bought every single piece of Green Day music that the store had in stock. Never in my life had I been so completely and utterly blown away by an artist’s energy and passion for what they do than at that Green Day concert over four years ago. Trust me, I have attended more concerts that I can count and Billie Joe Armstrong and Co. still hold the record in my book for incorporating the most audience interaction into their live show.

Green Day United CenterMike Dirnt (bass, backing vocals)

Crowd participation is by far the way to go to lock in fan loyalty if you ask me. Green Day held tight to their tradition and brought up four fans on stage during last Monday’s sold out show at the United Center. A ten year old boy named Jack from Evanston was chosen to join the band on stage during “East Jesus Nowhere” to be “saved” by the band’s frontman and songwriting mastermind Billie Joe. Next, a man whose name escapes me was allowed to take the mic and lead the crowd of more than 15,000 through the band’s early hit “Longview.” After that dude had his turn singing a verse and chorus, a girl from Palos Heights got her turn and sang through the next verse and chorus before being told by Armstrong that the only way to leave the stage was to dive off of it and back into the pit where she came from. Upon seeing this chick barely make it back over the barricade into her friend’s arms, Armstrong proclaimed that “That was the worst stage dive I have ever seen in my life.” Agreed.

Green Day United CenterTre Cool (drums)

The fourth, final, and luckiest fan chosen to join Armstrong, Dirnt, and Cool onstage was a boy who appeared to be no more than 12 years old. The kid only made it up there after answering Armstrong’s question of “What key is it in?” while referring to the epic single “Jesus Of Suburbia” off of Green Day’s 2004 disc American Idiot . The goal was to find a fan who knew not only how to play the guitar, but how to play the entire song on the guitar while simultaneously singing every word to it. Billie Joe even made sure fans knew that “This isn’t just a three chord thing; it’s more like a six chord thing.” Well, this little dude did not disappoint. He was AWESOME! I can’t imagine what was going through this boy’s head as Armstrong placed his very own guitar over the kid’s shoulder and let him sit down on one of the many monitors lining the edge of the stage. Sure enough, the kid held his own and easily strummed all six chords included in the song’s many catchy progressions while Billie Joe took over vocal duties leading the crowd through all of “Suburbia.” However, the track is over nine minutes long. Therefore, Armstrong ended up sending the kid back into the crowd about halfway through and finished up plowing through “Suburbia” along with bassist Mike Dirnt, drummer Tre Cool, and the rest of the guys who play with Green Day every night as part of their augmented touring band.

You can find the set list from Green Day’s Chicago show below. As much as I love all of Green Day’s catalog, I wish the guys would have played more than just seven songs off of their latest record, 21st Century Breakdown. I know for a fact that the band did not have a curfew that night. Therefore, if Green Day wanted to play every song they’ve ever written, they damn well could have done so! At least they played “Before The Lobotomy,” which is my second favorite track off of Breakdown . However, I wish the guys would have played “Murder City,” my absolute favorite track on the new record.  And one of these days, I hope to see Green Day perform “When I Come Around,” my favorite song off of Dookie.

Set List / Chicago

21st Century Breakdown

Know Your Enemy

East Jesus Nowhere


The Static Age

Before The Lobotomy

Are We The Waiting

St. Jimmy

Geek Stink Breath

Hitchin’ A Ride

Brain Stew



Basket Case


Take Me Out To The Ball Game (7th Inning Stretch)

King For A Day

Shout (The Isley Brothers cover)

Chicago (Frank Sinatra cover)

I’ll Be There (Jackson 5 cover)

Stand By Me (Ben E. King cover)

21 Guns

American Eulogy: Mass Hysteria / Modern World


American Idiot

Jesus Of Suburbia

Boulevard Of Broken Dreams


Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)

More photos of Green Day members Billie Joe Armstrong, Mike Dirnt, and Tre Cool after the jump!

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The Bravery Braves Coveted Green Day Opening Slot

The Bravery
United Center – Chicago, IL
July 13, 2009

The Bravery United CenterSam Endicott (lead vocals, rhythm guitar)

I cannot imagine the pressure that The Bravery must have felt while opening up for Green Day last Monday night in Chicago’s largest arena and home to the Bulls and Blackhawks. I would freak out if my job was to warm up an audience consisting of over 15,000 fans waiting to see one of the world’s biggest rock bands. Not an easy task at all. However, I thought The Bravery did a great job even if GD fans had never heard of the band and didn’t care to see an opening act. Hey, openers come with the main headlining act people. You should always be prepared to hear music you either don’t like or don’t know before getting what you came to hear. And obviously, the guys in Green Day must be fans of The Bravery or else they would not have chosen the band to go on tour with them.

Having been a fan of The Bravery since 2005 when a friend introduced me to their music, I was so proud that frontman Sam Endicott and Co. have come so far in their career that they are opening for my favorite band of all time (GD). That’s quite an accomplishment if you ask me. The Bravery performed familiar tracks off of their first two records, as well as gave fans a taste of new material from their new record out this fall. Below are some of the songs the band played at the Chicago stop of the Green Day summer tour…


Public Service Announcement


Hate Fuck

Bad Sun

This Is Not The End

Time Won’t Let Me Go

An Honest Mistake

More photos of the five members of The Bravery after the jump!

The Bravery United CenterMike Hindert (bass, backing vocals)

The Bravery United CenterMichael Zakarin (lead guitar, backing vocals)

The Bravery United CenterJohn Conway (keyboards, backing vocals)

The Bravery United CenterAnthony Burulcich (drums, backing vocals)

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