A Night with Marina on the Love and Fear Tour

Seeing Marina live has been on my bucket list since I started listening to Electra Heart. I have always loved her cinematic approach to music and if you watch any of her music videos, you know she likes to go big or go home. So naturally, when she announced the accompanying tour to her album Love + Fear, I knew I had to be there. I know I say that about every show I go to, but after years of wondering whether I would ever get to see her perform, I really did have to be there.

She brought Daya as her opener, but we got stuck in traffic and only got to hear her play her last song, the song she did with The Chainsmokers, “Don’t Let Me Down”. You could tell that she had done a good job of opening, because everyone was already dancing and having a great time. I was bummed to miss her set.

Marina came on at about 8:30 p.m. and opened with the lead single from Love + Fear, “Handmade Heaven”. She was accompanied by a team of four dancers/background singers and a drummer. She then played “Hollywood” from her first album, The Family Jewels. She split the show in half, the Love half and the Fear half. She chose other songs from her discography that fit into each section and it was pretty cool to think about her sitting and planning her tour, picking and choosing songs that have connected throughout her whole career. 

She played an acoustic version of “Teen Idle” that I mention not only because she played it beautifully, but because of that particular song from Electra Heart. It’s one of the darker songs on the album but she hid that behind a lot of synth and effects. When it was so stripped back, though, it really drew attention to the despair in the lyrics. I think it was a testament of how she’s grown since 2012. Even though Electra Heart was a character she created, Marina’s gone through a lot in her career. She’s dealt with a lot of personal things in the spotlight, and it’s no doubt that she stepped back from music to deal with those things privately. So to hear “Teen Idle” so bare like that was really special. She clearly doesn’t relish in those lyrics anymore, and she doesn’t want us relishing in them either.

All in all, I would absolutely follow Marina through this tour. Her use of dance was a lovely choice, and the setlist couldn’t have been more perfect. From “I Am Not a Robot” to the unreleased track “I’m Not Hungry Anymore”, she really gave everyone something to look forward to. It was a pretty chilly night in Boston, but Marina’s high energy show made us all forget about that for a while.

by Nadia Paiva

kiel_hauckNadia Paiva has been a music enthusiast since she can remember. Going to shows is her main pastime. The other is being upset when she can’t go to shows. This is her first official venture into writing about music. You can follow her on Twitter.

Advertisements

Underoath and Fever 333 Hit the Road with Korn and Alice in Chains

The first time I saw Underoath was nearly 15 years ago at Cain’s Ballroom in Tulsa, Oklahoma. At the time, the Tampa post-hardcore act was riding high off their breakthrough record, They’re Only Chasing Safety, and you could have argued that the sold out crowd, which went bonkers the entire night, represented what would be the height of the band’s popularity.

Since then, Underoath has released multiple gold records, landed at #2 on the Billboard 100, toured the world multiple times over, become one of the most influential bands in hardcore, broke up, and reunited, only to achieve even more success. This summer, a year after the release of their comeback album Erase Me, the band has landed a slot on Korn and Alice and Chain’s massive summer tour. You can’t make this stuff up.

Fever 333

Fever 333

The night Indianapolis began with an old friend. Since the disbandment of letlive. three years ago, vocalist Jason Aalon Butler has achieved newfound success in the form of Fever 333 – a rock band hellbent on getting their message across. That message, consisting largely of giving a voice to the marginalized, is soundtracked by ripping guitars and Butler’s signature flair on stage. It only took a few short songs before he found his way down into the pit and out into the audience, screaming toward onlookers seated on the lawn.

The band’s 2019 full-length debut, Strength in Numb333rs, as well as their 2018 EP, Made an America, are both full of fire, and songs like “One of Us” and “Trigger” are enough to wake up the early birds in attendance. Butler’s stage presence feels just as authentic in an amphitheater as it does at a club show, with the singer bounding and bellowing across the stage. It’s clear that the rock community at large has taken notice of Fever 333, and we’re all the better for it.

On this tour, Underoath finds themselves in a unique situation as opener, playing largely in front of an audience who is unaware of their history. While Erase Me has obviously opened new doors for the band and introduced them to an entirely new community of rock fans, they’re still newcomers in the eyes of mainstream listeners. It seems obvious then, that tracks from Erase Me dominate the setlist.

Underoath

Underoath

The band still finds time to sneak in performances of fan favorites “Writing on the Walls” and “Breathing in a New Mentality”, but everything else is fresh material. “On My Teeth”, which snagged a Grammy nomination earlier this year, leads the set, followed by a recently released b-side titled “Loneliness”, which is one of the best tracks the band has penned since their return.

Interestingly, the band sidesteps recent singles “Bloodlust” and “Wake Me” in favor of the more heavier tracks from their new album. “Hold Your Breath” and “Sink With You”, in particular, seem to reel the crowd in, while a brief slow down for “ihateit” invites some onlookers to sing along. At one point, vocalist Spencer Chamberlain asks the crowd, “Who here is seeing us for the very first time?” I look around me as most of the crowd inside the Ruoff Home Mortgage Music Center amphitheater raise their hands. It’s a site I never would have imaged all those years ago in Tulsa.

Korn and Alice in Chains, both with well over two decades of experience end relevancy, and both with recent new releases, obviously highlight the night for the packed crowd. It’s a stark reminder of the divide between mainstream rock and the underground, especially when music from the scene has at times felt like the last stand for rock as a whole.

Still, both Butler and Chamberlain take time on stage to share stories from their youth about how these bands impacted and shaped them. If it weren’t for Korn, would Butler have ever grabbed a microphone? If not for Alice in Chains, would Chamberlain have ever found his voice? It’s interesting to ponder, but regardless, it’s impressive as hell to see these two worlds collide.

 

by Kiel Hauck

kiel_hauckKiel Hauck is the editor in chief at It’s All Dead. Over the past decade, he has been a contributor for multiple online and print publications and was most recently an editor at PopMatters. Kiel currently resides in Indianapolis, IN with his wife and their imaginary pet, Hand Dog. You can follow him on Twitter.

Is This Goodbye (Again)? A Night with Anberlin in Boston

You might’ve done a double take when reading the title of this piece. Anberlin? In 2019? It’s more likely than you think. After a couple of acoustic shows in their homestate of Florida, they announced an Australian tour, then eventually, the much-anticipated U.S. tour we’d all been hoping for.

The first time I saw Anberlin was actually the last time, too. I went to the Boston date of the Final Tour back in 2014. It was the first show I was able to go to without any kind of adult supervision, and I had crappy seats in the House of Blues balcony. It was still one of the best nights of my life and I cherished the fact that, finally, I had seen Anberlin. They’re arguably the most influential band in terms of my musical taste, and I’d say that there’s not one song of theirs I won’t listen to. So obviously, when the tickets went on sale, I was first in line.

Anberlin chose I the Mighty as their supporting band. I’d heard of them but never got around to listening to any of their music. They’re signed to Equal Vision, my favorite label, so I was interested to finally hear what they had to offer. They played a good selection of tracks from their three studio albums, and are talented at the prog-rock they aim to create. They played a great set and aside from some cheesy stage antics, I’d say Anberlin made a good decision.

Despite the great set from the opener, I feel like everyone was too busy waiting for the main event to really pay much attention to them. I almost feel like they didn’t need an opener, but that’s mostly because I’m selfish and wanted six more Anberlin songs. Upon taking the stage, they opened with “Godspeed” from Cities. From there on, the room was totally enthralled with their 21 song set.

Stephen cut the set in half with “Down” from Dark Is the Way, Light Is a Place, and took the opportunity to talk about Children International, which calls on people to sponsor third world children’s needs. The mellow track and call to action didn’t take away from the energy at all, and they continued the next hour of their set with “(The Symphony of) Blase”. They played all the fan favorites (a.k.a. literally any one of their songs) and ended the evening with, of course, “(*Fin)”.

I don’t know what the future holds for Anberlin, and clearly, neither do they. They seem okay with this run of shows being their real final tour. As much as I love Anberlin and have missed them every day since they announced their end, I think I might be okay with it, too. That’s borderline blasphemous, I know, but the members seem to be doing well post-band. They’ve moved on to other side projects, or simply went home to be with their family. I believe they made the right choice in calling it when they did. It made this brief return all the more sweet.

by Nadia Paiva

kiel_hauckNadia Paiva has been a music enthusiast since she can remember. Going to shows is her main pastime. The other is being upset when she can’t go to shows. This is her first official venture into writing about music. You can follow her on Twitter.

5 Summer Tours to Look Forward to in 2019

Personally, my summer is defined by days at the park drinking Del’s Lemonade and sitting by the ocean. It also means festivals and tours start in full swing, and my paychecks get blown to the wind. Totally worth it. This list is in no way intended to be all reunions but I guess that’s what’s selling tickets this year. Here are a few tours that I’m excited about.

Sad Summer Festival

I gave up my chance to go to Sad Summer Fest in Worcester in favor of seeing Anberlin reunite, but I’m still just as excited about it as if I had tickets. With the end of Vans Warped Tour, all of us in the scene were simply floundering about thinking of what to do this summer. We all know we’re way too cool for Coachella and Lollapalooza, so where would we get our fest kick? Along came Sad Summer Festival to save the day. The Wonder Years, Mayday Parade and The Maine are among the headliners for this aptly named tour, and what’s more, the fest is choosing a nonprofit from each city to contribute to. There’s nothing not to love about Sad Summer Fest.

Buy tickets here

Vans Warped Tour

There might only be three cities and five dates for us to choose from, but there’s no doubt that this is one of the biggest events for the scene this year, maybe only barring Sad Summer Fest. We previously thought that 2018’s would be the last we heard from Vans Warped Tour, but this year is the 25th anniversary of the tour, so it’s only fitting that there should be one last hurrah. There’s a great lineup of folks like A Day to Remember and Sleeping with Sirens that’s sure to turn up the nostalgia.

Buy tickets here

Anberlin

Anberlin is back from the dead. They are currently in Australia for a few dates, but soon they’ll be back in the States. I’ll be rejoicing because their Boston show is July 5th and I have floor tickets. The last time I saw them was their Final Tour and my balcony tickets just didn’t cut it. Will the members of Anberlin get the recording bug? I’m not sure, but I know this tour is definitely a dream come true.

Buy tickets here

The Black Keys

The Black Keys have returned from their very long hiatus and have announced a tour with Modest Mouse. Their new album, Let’s Rock, releases on June 28th. The band is one of Ohio’s finest musical children and I’m so glad that they’ve come back with more music for us to enjoy. I’m hoping for a setlist made up of a lot of fan favorites, and hopefully this will be a fitting welcome back party.

Buy tickets here

Jonas Brothers

Another band that recently got back together is the Jonas Brothers. I know we’re not really into folks like the JoBros here at It’s All Dead [Says who? – ed.], but hey what the heck. I tried my hardest to get tickets but it was to no avail. No doubt it will be a killer show, and a great way to welcome summer and a regret of mine. Curse you, scalpers! Their new album, Happiness Begins, releases on June 7th.

Buy tickets here

by Nadia Paiva

kiel_hauckNadia Paiva has been a music enthusiast since she can remember. Going to shows is her main pastime. The other is being upset when she can’t go to shows. This is her first official venture into writing about music. You can follow her on Twitter.

A Quiet Evening with Copeland and Friends

If you listened to our podcast on Copeland a few weeks back, you’ll know that I had never seen the band live. I bought tickets for their Boston show in December, before I had even heard the new album. You’ll also know I ended up loving the new album. I also loved how it translated in the atmosphere of the live show.

They toured with Many Rooms, whom I’d never heard of, and From Indian Lakes, a long time favorite of mine. Generally, the first act on the lineup isn’t who I’m there for, but by the end of Brianna Hunt’s set, I was wondering why Copeland wasn’t opening for her. It’s been a long time since I’ve heard an opener sing something more than just fluff. A lot of times, I feel like headliners take the easy way out and pick bands that won’t steal the spotlight from them, but for me, Many Rooms was the highlight of the night. Her honest lyricism about religion and faith in today’s society really hit a chord with me. She just released an album last year called There Is a Presence Here, and her latest single is called “99 Proofs”.

From Indian Lakes was up next, and played a very classic set of tracks from their past two albums, as well as two new tracks. Their lead vocalist commented that this was the “most chill” tour they’d done, and it’s really true. They had a couple of new faces to go along with their new tracks, one of those featuring a new vocalist. I’m assuming we’ll get an album (or at least an EP), and I’m psyched about that — three years is a long time. On a slightly more critical note, it wasn’t my favorite set from the band, but I think that was due to the mechanics of the venue.

Copeland was the last act of the evening. They opened with “As Above, So Alone” from their latest album, Blushing. The songs from the album were great live, and the band used the help of some tracks to recreate some of the vibes the album put off. They played several fan favorites, of course, and following some technical difficulties with “Pope”, Aaron played “California” from Beneath Medicine Tree. The setlist was varied, and I appreciated how many songs from You Are My Sunshine they played.

All in all, it was a great night. The crowd was respectful and the music was great. It was a real privilege to see Copeland play and I hope they’ll come back aorund again soon.

by Nadia Paiva

kiel_hauckNadia Paiva has been a music enthusiast since she can remember. Going to shows is her main pastime. The other is being upset when she can’t go to shows. This is her first official venture into writing about music. You can follow her on Twitter.

One More Spoon of Cough Syrup for Young the Giant in Indianapolis

I have a lot of music nostalgia wrapped up in a radio station from my hometown of Novi, Michigan: 96.3 WDVD. Their morning radio show, which I would crank up with gusto everyday on the way to school, touted the catchphrase “Today’s best hits, without the rap.”  Unfortunately for the station, around 2011, a lot of the greatest hits were rap. I remember alternative and pop artists rising to the top of 96.3’s playlists; while other stations were spinning “Super Bass” by Nicki Minaj, 96.3 was playing “Cough Syrup” by Young the Giant. Since 2011, Young the Giant has become an alternative powerhouse, with four albums commenting on everything from relationships to politics.I was extremely excited to join the seasoned performers for their Mirror Masters Tour at the Egyptian Room in Indianapolis.

Young the Giant’s lead vocalist, Sameer Gadhia, is from Ann Arbor, Michigan; I would not be surprised if he also listened to 96.3 WDVD at some point in his childhood. From the moment Young the Giant took the stage, it was evident that Sameer brought incredible energy and passion to the performance. Even during relatively subdued songs for Young the Giant, like “Apartment”, Sameer’s powerful voice was spotlighted by lyrics like “Cause sooner or later this is bound to stop / Come on, let’s savor what we’re falling over”.  Sameer drew the audience into every performance, interacting with the fans and making every lyric feel personal. Even more striking was the crescendo of voices from the sold-out crowd at the Egyptian room, playing a supporting role during every song Young the Giant performed.

I started to take note of the rest of the band when Young the Giant transitioned to play “Titus Is Born”. This song really highlighted the versatility of each band member. With quiet classical guitar in the first verse, Young the Giant created a very cool twist on their usual high-energy pop tracks. Impressively, every band member can play multiple instruments or sing. Lead vocalist Sameer played tambourine and guitar, drummer Francois Comtois sang backup, guitarist Eric Cannata played keyboard, and guitarist Jacob Tilley and bassist Payam Doostzadeh played the synth. The musicality and talent of each band member continued to shine in the stripped down version of “Strings”. This arrangement was part of the band’s “In the Open” video series, where they performed versions of their songs in different outdoor locations; check out “Strings” below.

The back half of the show was hit after hit; the sultry beat of “Mind Over Matter” and fun dance interludes of “Nothing’s Over” followed the radio favorite “Cough Syrup”. By the end of the set, the audience was absolutely begging for more. Young the Giant returned to the stage for a marathon of an encore, playing “Superposition”, “Tightrope”, and “Silvertongue”. The show ended with the entire audience jumping up and down to “My Body”, screaming the lyrics “But I won’t quit / ‘Cuz I want more”. When the house lights came up, everyone was buzzing, probably realizing the truth of those words.

Young the Giant put on an absolutely incredible show, showcasing 10 years of touring experience and stellar discography. Luckily, Indianapolis was only the second stop of the tour – if you can get your hands on tickets, I would highly recommend it. In the meantime, I’ll be on the lookout for the Indianapolis equivalent to 96.3 WDVD; I would not want to miss out discovering on a band like Young the Giant.

by Katie Baird

kiel_hauckKatie Baird is a lover of music that firmly believes transitions between songs on playlists matter, albums are made to be listened to in order, and songs that don’t mention the title in the lyrics are just *better.” Her music obsession began with classic rock records and has evolved to include all genres, with a soft spot for alt pop. While she could talk about music all day, this is her first time writing about it.

Victory Lap: Saves The Day’s Celebratory Tour

“We wanna see you at our next show!”

Saves The Day was the first concert I ever went to. With a car full of people, we drove from Indiana to downtown Chicago to see the show on a school night. The energy and passion Chris Conley emanated had us talking about the show all the way home and for weeks after. Saves The Day were young and on the tail end of the their tour in support of In Reverie. Since then, I have seen them touring at least once during each album cycle.

Having just released 9, Saves The Day are on a victory lap. Celebrating 20 years as an incredibly influential band, Chris Conley is enjoying himself and looking back at his career on stage without the pressure of still ‘having to make it.’

Conley is allowing himself to take a step back, maybe for the first time in his career. Prior to this tour, I had only seen him standing in front of the mic, smiling while he sang and wailed on the guitar. Saves The Day have always been the ‘standard’ rock band to me. Though he doesn’t run across the stage causing general chaos, Conley has always commanded the audience through nothing but music. However, this tour is the result of Conley’s two decades of devotion and hard work. Aside from a few songs, he is mostly removing himself from the guitar this time. Instead, he is opting to sing and dance to the music that made him a legend. And he deserves it.

Kevin Devine

Following Conley’s cue, the opening sets were stripped down bands. An Horse opened the night as a two-piece that utterly destroyed the Bottom Lounge. Consisting of drummer Damon Cox and guitarist Kate Cooper, the Australian duo made enough noise for a complete four-person entourage. Sharing vocal duties, Cox and Cooper ripped through a set of impressively melodic indie rock. Including their new single, “Get Out Somehow”, they ended their set with a cameo from Kevin Devine on bass, offering a quick preview of his set.

Kevin Devine has been a big name in the indie scene for a long time. I’ve never been familiar with his music, but seeing him live proved why he has persisted on the scene. Equal parts indie star and rock icon, Devine confidently raged through political songs alone on stage. Pulsing through his electric guitar, Devine screamed, crooned and broke down in melodic guitar riffs to rapt applause. Finding an audience in politically motivated songs, Devine proved to be one of the leading solo acts in the scene by skirting the traditional topics of heartbreak and relationships. The passion and intensity of his performance was something that could only be accomplished by someone performing something they believe in.

Saves The Day’s Chris Conley

Saves The Day took the stage with five members for the first time that I have seen. With a new touring guitarist joining lead guitarist Arun Bali, Chris Conley took charge of singing and just enjoying the music. Sporting dark sunglasses and a jacket, Conley opened with his signature anthem, “At Your Funeral” before launching into a series of newer songs including “Suzuki”, “Xenophobic Blind Left Hook” and “Get Fucked Up”.

Taking at least one song from every album, the band didn’t lean as far into the pop punk scene that they helped create as much as they explored the continuing evolution of their music. Saves The Day’s setlist was a sample of their greatest hits that roared through classic punk rock and modern rock. At this point in their career, Saves The Day have left their mark on the punk scene forever and influenced multiple generations of artists. Nothing cemented this legacy more than the crowd watching the band.

Saves the Day

With the Bottom Lounge mostly full, Conley announced that the band’s seminal album Through Being Cool was 19 years old that day. And while they played some of the best songs from that record (“Shoulder To The Wheel”, “Holly Hox, Forget Me Nots”), they didn’t dwell on it. Each time a classic song like “Rocks Tonic Juice Magic” or Stay What You Are’s “Freakish” came on, the younger generation began excitedly crowd surfing and opening a pit. However, fans who have followed the band for years are still showing up, just as excited as ever. As the opening lines of “Side By Side” from 9 started, a bald man in his 40’s literally threw his arms up in the air and shouted in joy.

Saves The Day are undoubtedly one of the most important bands in punk rock today. Their fanbase has grown with them and continued to expand with younger crowds throughout the years. Chris Conley has managed to navigate the harsh landscape of music and managed to stay relevant to the point that he can finally enjoy the fruits of his labor by just listening to his own music and enjoying it the same way his own fans do – by singing along and dancing until the next album.

by Kyle Schultz

kyle_catKyle Schultz is the Senior Editor at It’s All Dead and has worked as a gaming journalist at Structure Gaming. He lives in Chicago and really just… ate far too much macaroni.

Goodnight Hiroyuki: A Night with Justin Courtney Pierre

Justin-Courtney-Pierre-2018-cr-Dan-Monick

“I went to the show last night. It was like shitty Beach Boys.” – Justin Pierre

Tonight was the first show of Justin Courtney Pierre’s first solo tour. Seeing Motion City Soundtrack live half a dozen times over the years, I am familiar with Pierre’s stage presence. Tonight was something new. Pushing through nerves, Pierre spoke at length with the crowd between songs and gave those in attendance a night just for them. His tour will undoubtedly get tighter by the end of its run. But on his first solo show at Lincoln Hall in Chicago, Justin joked to the crowd the best summary of his entire solo venture.

“I’m incredibly nervous. I talked to my daughter before the show, and she said, ‘You’ll do great, dad!’ I said, ‘Shut up, idiot.’”

Opening the show was surprise darling, Pronoun. I had never heard of them before, but like many others tonight, I’m a fan for life. It says a lot about a band when, after the show, more people are holding their vinyls instead of the headliner. Surprisingly simple, their songs contain an insane amount of melody.

Pronoun 1.jpg

Pronoun

Pronoun, headed by singer/ guitarist Alyse Vellturo, are what rock stars are made of. Watching them play, I couldn’t help but think of the manga Nana, and seeing character Nana Osaki bend rock music to her will. Each song swam with a full, rich sound that made it seem like twice as many musicians took the stage. Despite Vellturo nervously telling the crowd, “This song only uses two chords,” (or “This one uses three!”) Pronoun are remarkably talented.

If nothing else, Pronoun played a song that “they hoped to record some time.” I assume it will eventually be a single. Though unsure of what the title of it is, it’s the type of song that can instantly turn a small band into a sensation.

By contrast, Justin Courtney Pierre was loose. He warned the crowd before the first song, “Some of the melodies and words might change. That’s not on purpose.” Where Motion City maintained a tight, coordinated live show, Pierre allowed his solo work room to breathe. The band had only practiced a hand full of times before hitting the road. Music stands were placed front and center, with Pierre eyeing pages of lyrics and/or sheet music before and during songs.

Justin 1

Justin Courtney Pierre

In The Drink was played in its entirety, broken up with a great mix of songs from Pierre’s career. An older song written for a gay youth site, “Everything That Hurts” was played alongside a new solo song, complete with surfer rock vibe (see the ‘Beach Boys’ quote above) that will be released on an upcoming EP, My Girl Margot.

More than anything, Pierre had the chance to talk to the audience and try something new. Between each song, he’d talk at length with the crowd, changing topics and regularly filling the room with laughter. After one interaction asking about asthma medications, when someone from the crowd shouted, “Doctor says yes!”, Pierre instantly shot back, “You’re not a doctor!”

This solo tour allowed Pierre a chance to play anything. Rushed to learn the songs, the band flew through three Farewell Continental songs, including one called “Tossing and Turning” that he hopes will be on FC’s next release. When it came time for Motion City Soundtrack, Pierre took the stage alone. He wanted to play “without feeling like he was cheating on MCS,” and only played songs that he brought to the band in the first place. Requesting the audience to help sing, he played through intimate versions of “It Had To Be You”, “When You’re Around” and “Let’s Get Fucked Up and Die”.

At this point, it’s impossible to tell if the rest of Justin Pierre’s solo tour will follow the same path, or if this truly is a chance for him play with his live shows and look for something new each night. But if this was him at the height of his insecurities on stage, Pierre is about to start something truly special.

by Kyle Schultz

kyle_catKyle Schultz is the Senior Editor at It’s All Dead and has worked as a gaming journalist at Structure Gaming. He lives in Chicago and just realized he was petting a toy Tyrannosaurus Rex instead of his cat. Boooooo.

Review: Hellogoodbye – S’only Natural

Hellogoodbye has become an indie darling through a daring evolution of synth pop. Hellogoodbye mature each album cycle into something new. However, the risk is that sometimes these projects have mixed results. S’only Natural, the band’s newest album, is an infuriating record that I loved and hated in equal measure for the first two weeks after its release. However, after seeing Hellogoodbye live, I can finally appreciate the album in a way that otherwise may not have been possible.

Hellogoodbye played the Subterranean in Chicago two weeks after the release of S’only Natural. I have seen the group live twice before, and am familiar with the energy of their performances. However, this show lacked the stacked keyboards and intimacy of a ukulele. Instead, a glitzy golden sheet flowed across the stage with the words “Club Forrest” emblazoned on in in bright neon. Singer Forrest Kline strode across the stage in a lounge suit, dancing with a relaxed swagger. That’s the moment that S’only Natural finally clicked.

IMG_20181021_214940

Hellogoodbye

S’only Natural is a disco record. It is arguably the best instrumentation of Hellogoodbye’s career. The bass lines are extraordinarily melodic (“S’only Natural”). The guitars are restrained, but flesh out a full-bodied sound encouraging the listener to dance. The keyboards take their time and play a more integral, natural element to the music (“Let It Burn”). Additionally, the percussion is relaxed, but rich. While no song finds the frenetic pace of past records, the beats find a healthy balance between dance numbers and somber tones that perfectly match the bass (“Hang Loose”).

Trumpets, violin, and piano also take center stage at key points. Both “Overture” songs, which start and end the album, are primarily gorgeous violin ballads that sound straight out of the 1950’s.

One of the key things about S’only Natural is that it is a full, single piece. Many songs seem to bleed into the next, or end in such a way that it sets up the next perfectly. It keeps the album moving, but also can cause many songs to sound remarkably similar if you’re not paying attention. The music is amazing, but it lacks the variety of past records. It’s not until after the album is already done that you really see the crescendo of the first half and the soft ballads that swell to end the record (“Mysterious You”).

The most off-putting part of the album is singer Forrest Kline. For a singer who is so full of creativity, he takes zero chances with S’only Natural. Every song is sung in the same quiet pitch, with a backing track of himself almost whispering. Each song, I expected him to finally put a bit of effort into his voice, but instead maintains the same tone and quiet drawl. It’s maddening and beautiful at the same time. At times, it almost renders the lyrics useless.

IMG_20181021_220332

Hellogoodbye

After multiple listens over several weeks, I still had no opinion of this album. It was fun and boring, vibrant and bland at the same time. Which is why it seemed so odd to watch Forrest confidently strut in front of the mic stand. There was far more energy here than anything on the album. Opening the set with album closer “Honeymoon (Forever)”, Kline crooned over the soft taps of the snare and a keyboard, “I will come away with you / You look like you know what to do / Missing both your shoes, disheveled and amused / I’m in love with you”. Gliding over the gold blanket, the lounge jacket buttoned tight, the soft nature of his voice made absolute sense. Even during faster, poppier songs when the percussion and keyboards picked up volume to a staggering pitch, such as “Put It Out”, Kline simply crooned. “You were the autumn that bathed me in gold / And I’m a fool that thinks you were a flame I could hold”.

Almost the entire setlist of the live show was from S’only Natural, with only a few select favorites and fan requests from other albums peppered throughout. By night’s end, S’only Natural finally made sense to me. The instrumentation was the true star of this record. While the band’s music evolved over past records, Kline’s voice and lyrics always seemed to take center stage. This album is a jam. It wants you to dance. It wants anyone listening to be able to sing along with minimal effort. The confidence to play mostly new songs live plays straight into the album’s strength. And while past albums became poppier, S’only Natural looks back at the classic sounds and styles that influenced today’s music. The result is a romantic blend of current dance beats and crooner swing.

S’only Natural is an anomaly of an album. It’s soft, restrained and bursting with energy all at once. Though the lyrics are catchy, they’re a device to bring more attention to the music itself. This era of the band is just as progressive as it is classical. The mountainous bass lines eventually give way to gentle ballads that culminate in a rich album that forces listeners to discover the band’s music in a completely new way. S’only Natural isn’t an album for everyone, but it rewards anyone willing to put in the effort.

3.5/5

by Kyle Schultz

kyle_catKyle Schultz is the Senior Editor at It’s All Dead and has worked as a gaming journalist at Structure Gaming. He lives in Chicago and realized Forrest Kline was standing behind him watching the opening band. When Kyle introduced himself to Forrest, he said, “We’ve actually met before in Columbus. You grabbed my nipples [because I complimented Joseph Morro instead of you].” Forrest looked shocked, took a drink and then danced away into the crowd. He is literally the best people.

 

Holding It Down with Noah Kahan in Indianapolis

The first time I heard Noah Kahan, he was featured on a mixtape my boyfriend made for me in the early days of our relationship. “Hold It Down” has always held a special place in my personal music history; although it isn’t a love song, the beautiful, honest lyrics always elicit the nostalgia associated with building my relationship. Now, after almost two years of following Noah Kahan’s music (and dating the same boyfriend), I was so excited to attend this show at The Hi-Fi in Indianapolis.

Noah Kahan

Noah’s discography hosts a collection of singles, and his five-song EP, Hurt Somebody, released in January 2018. Although they all vary in theme and tempo, every recording speaks to Noah’s authenticity as a songwriter. Listening to all of his music in the lead up to the concert, I was looking forward to how that would translate in a live setting.

Noah Kahan took the stage and immediately set the tone, calling, “Are you ready to hear some sad songs tonight?” He certainly did not disappoint on that front, but his set was so much more interesting than just a loop of sad songs. The raspiness of Noah’s voice does not come through in his recordings, so I was pleasantly surprised to hear it when he sang “Hallelujah” and covered “Jolene” by Ray LaMontagne.

The audience was invested, too, bouncing along to the driving acoustic guitar and sing-along chorus of “Fine” and “False Confidence”, which was recently featured on Spotify’s Pop Rising playlist. Noah’s band added so much to the performance, too – everyone was obviously having a great time. The bassist held it down while drinking a few Indianapolis-native Sun King beers, and the guitarist had an awesome solo jam at the end of the main set. Noah mentioned he would be the “Jewish Ed Sheeran” without his band, which was a hilarious and probably very true statement.

Noah Kahan

Noah’s storytelling ability was highlighted in both his singing and set transitions. He told his backstory as an artist in small-town Vermont, posting under a pseudonym on SoundCloud so people wouldn’t make fun of him at school. Noah recounted meeting his future manager in a public place with this parents, “just in case he was a pedophile.” He talked about getting high in New York with someone he barely knew, then writing about it just because he “needed a new single” (“Come Down”). I walked away more invested in Noah’s music, especially due to the dry humor he uses to talk about it.

Noah finished the show with “Young Blood”, singing about the early days as a struggling artist: “four years of driving across the country / For empty seats at their shows”. But, in a true testament to his music, the room was full of fans singing along with him. I felt lucky to be a part of this show, in a small bar venue in Indianapolis, at what I believe is only start of an amazing career for Noah Kahan.

by Katie Baird

kiel_hauckKatie Baird is a lover of music that firmly believes transitions between songs on playlists matter, albums are made to be listened to in order, and songs that don’t mention the title in the lyrics are just *better.” Her music obsession began with classic rock records and has evolved to include all genres, with a soft spot for alt pop. While she could talk about music all day, this is her first time writing about it.