Podcast: Talking Emo Music with Author Taylor Markarian

On the latest It’s All Dead podcast episode, Kiel Hauck is joined by Taylor Markarian, author of “From the Basement: A History of Emo Music and How it Changed Society”. Taylor has written for publications like Alternative Press, Kerrang, and Revolver and also served as an intern at Epitaph Records. Her new book explores the cultural, social, and psychological factors surrounding emo and indie music. On the podcast, Taylor shares about her years growing up in the New Jersey punk and emo scene and the importance of music in mental health. Take a listen!

Subscribe to our podcast here.

Like what you heard from Taylor? Pre-order her book on Amazon.

Posted by Kiel Hauck

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Reflecting On: Set Your Goals – This Will Be the Death of Us

I almost lost my middle finger in 2009. I’m not entirely sure how it happened, but while working in a restaurant, I was playing with a keyring during some downtime. Somehow, I slipped my finger through the gap between both endpoints. I remember watching the tip of my finger fall backwards and seeing the bone. It exposed everything I am on the inside for the first time. I managed to keep it together long enough to get stitches. When I went home to my roommates, they had gathered in camaraderie and collectively flipped me off in unison, which helped a little bit.

I had been obsessed with All Time Low’s Nothing Personal for the summer, but I hated myself for being so reckless as to get injured midway through the season. While my friends were out swimming, exploring the local creek, or engaging in some type of sports I was dutifully guarding my finger from infection. I was angry, isolated and days away from my birthday.

You can buy or stream This Will Be the Death of Us on Apple Music.

At some point, All Time Low posted on their social media to support their friends Set Your Goals’ new album. I had never heard of the band, but decided to spend what little money I had to keep me occupied since I wasn’t spending my time being active. All Time Low remain one of my favorite bands, but Set Your Goals stole the year with This Will Be the Death of Us, one of the single best releases of the early 2000’s.

Set Your Goals was my introduction to ‘easycore.’ Hovering somewhere between pop punk and hardcore, This Will Be the Death of Us scratched every itch I had. It even inspired a song by Four Year Strong as a response to the glowing reviews the album received. Set Your Goals tempered the anger I felt towards myself, managed to be an ethical voice in the scene, and felt like one of the opening salvos in the new trend of positive punk. It exposed me to the deficiencies I didn’t realize I had inside.

The rage in This Will Be the Death of Us isn’t focused on the usual suspects in the scene. While the album maintains a positive outlook overall, it is relentless in its attacks on aging bitterly and of neglect towards love of the world and its history (“Our Ethos: A Legacy to Pass On”). It managed to successfully criticize societal issues without sounding like a bunch of privileged kids whining (“Look Closer”). During my last year of college, the global recession was going strong. Hearing a band call the system out for what it was meant the world to me. The album also featured the best cameos of all time (Vinnie Caruana, Hayley Williams, Chad Gilbert and Jon Gula). The guest vocalists played a significant part of their songs, even the music videos (“This Will Be the Death of Us”).

Despite the worldly rage, positivity oozed from this album. At the time, there weren’t a lot of new bands making a splash in the scene, and those that did fell back on the tried-and-true lyricism of failed relationships. Set Your Goals introduced me to songs like “Summer Jam”, which gushed with memories of the band on a year-by-year basis leading up to this release. “Summer Jam” was the first time I had heard of the band Fireworks, and the lyric, “We’re all in a holding cell, but somehow Baloni got away,” led me on a goose chase to learn more about their merch guy. A year later, The Wonder Years would go deeper into this area and change the game of ‘realistic pop punk’ on The Upsides.

Most importantly though, I felt like I gained a worldview from Set Your Goals. While All Time Low got me hooked on catchy lyrics that I still know to this day, Set Your Goals turned the chaos of hardcore punk on its head that sent a message to question the status quo of the world, even if you loved it. It’s the first time that my rebellious college phase realized that you could love the world and fight to break it at the same time.

This Will Be the Death of Us helped me through the summer of 2009 on a daily basis while I sat inside watching my friends play video games and get dirty. I remained low key until the autumn, hiding from anything that could make my finger worse. But I loved the world despite its follies along the way, for better or for worse, during the healing.

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 heavily relates to Jasper from The Simpsons.

Review: Senses Fail – If There Is Light, It Will Find You

There is a true rage on If There Is Light, It Will Find You, the new album from Senses Fail, that can only manifest with age. Eighteen-year-olds can scream all they want, but they haven’t lived life long enough to see everything truly collapse yet. The demons haunting Buddy Nielsen, lead vocalist, and the album’s writer, are the type that inspire not only true art, but also unconditional emotional failure. Coming out on the other side of these issues is what gives If There Is Light such a powerful message that few bands can mimic.

You can buy If There Is Light, It Will Find You on Bandcamp.

I won’t claim to be a big Senses Fail fan, but I know the essence of their sound and the horror tinged lyrics that accompanied many of their early albums. I also know of the Drive-Thru Records pop elements that fused into their hardcore edge. As the first album from the band written entirely by Nielsen, If There Is Light captures the sound of Senses Fail and puts me in the mind of what the band were hoping to achieve on their debut LP, Let It Enfold You.

The guitars thrash with heavy power chords and hard pop, reminiscent of The Movielife. However, rather than forcing the harder edge of mid-career Senses Fail, Nielsen relies on the pop element to lift the songs to catchier highs and sharper hooks. A few Queen-inspired guitar solos help lift the spirit of the music from time to time, too.

The poppier elements are a juxtaposition against the darker lyrics that also shows the light beaming through the nightmares. Rather than rely on lyrical screaming, Nielsen’s clean vocals are more than enough to communicate the depth of the real-life horror of this album, as well as how thankful he is to be on the other side.

One of the recurring themes of If There Is Light, is that Nielsen is one of the few his age still relying on music. At this point in my 30s, everyone I grew up with listening to the same music has abandoned listening to it, much less still performing. “Double Cross” finds Nielsen reminiscing about the passion he shared with others while singing from the stage, but now age has made them jaded.

“Is It Gonna Be The Year?” may be one of the most open songs pop punk has ever seen. Nielsen is split between wanting to pursue music forever even as his peers fall away, and the realization that maturity kills the genre. It’s genuinely a stab to the heart to hear him shout, “I never thought that it would last this long / And neither did the others, that’s why they’re all gone / When is it time to give it up, and how long is long enough? / And when should I throw it in, cause I don’t wanna be a washed up old man”.

But where the theme of the album finds its truth is in the songs clearly dedicated to Nielsen’s wife. “First Breath, Last Breath” is a true hell, as it tells the story of watching his wife almost die during childbirth. The guitars chug slowly, letting every note bleed as Buddy sings, “I have never felt so crushed / The sadness buried in my bones / How the hell am I supposed to raise a daughter on my own?” Following later on is quick burner, “Orlando And A Miscarriage”, which seems to be a title that needs no explanation, as the pain that flows from it is visceral.

However, knowing that she survived, “You Get So Alone At Times It Just Makes Sense” is a glorious redemption. The music blasts as Buddy praises her for giving him the strength to keep moving. It’s playful (“I love the way that you don’t give a fuck what anyone thinks / And I’m trying so hard to think like that / but I’m the singer in a fucking band and I’m still neurotic as shit”), and a confession of true love (“All my life I’ve waited to kiss your perfect face / Into the darkest night I’ll take you by my side”).

What makes If There Is Light so redeeming is that each song, and each theme has a callback. For each song that fears being the aging punk, he rallies the troops of youth in a rage against the government (“Gold Jacket, Green Jacket…”) or relishes the memories of Saves The Day from 12 years ago (“Stay What You Are”). For each song about potentially losing his wife, he sings her praises for making him stronger. For all of the darkness swirling across the album, closer “If There Is Light, It Will Find You” ends with a note of hope, as the last lyrics of the entire album are, “Don’t be afraid”.

If There Is Light, It Will Find You is a heartbreaking experience. It’s also something so real and terrifying, the horror pop lyrics of early Senses Fail seems childish in comparison. The poppier aspects of the album may turn off fans hoping for a harder edge, but this is a masterpiece considering it was written by Buddy Nielsen alone. I can’t claim to have any idea of where it will stand in the band’s discography, but it is an album everyone should experience. You’ll be thankful once you’re on the other side. Cheers.

4.5/5

Photo Credit: Tyler Ross

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 discovered Senses Fail moments before he discovered The Early November, one of his all-time favorite bands. He also saw Senses Fail open for Saves The Day, another of his all-time favorite bands. It took over 15 years, but he is finally in love with Senses Fail without overshadowing them with something else. Please throw apples at his temples if you see him.

Review: Speak The Truth… Even If Your Voice Shakes – Everyone You Love Will Slip Away from You

I will always thank Drive-Thru Records for my love of music. Though I still listen to many of those influential bands, there are two groups that frequently fall off of my radar, only to resurface every few years as a new obsession before being put to the sidelines again: Senses Fail and Finch. It is because of these bands that I stumbled into a love of hardcore music. Speak The Truth… Even If Your Voice Shakes, the new(ish) supergroup consisting of members from both bands finds its inspiration from the golden era of emo and unabashedly flaunts it.

You can buy Everyone You Love Will Slip Away from You on iTunes.

Speak The Truth consists of Senses Fail’s Buddy Neilsen on vocals while Alex Linares (guitars), Daniel Wonacott (bass) and Alex Pappas (drums) of Finch round out the instrumentation. Though both bands hail from a harder sound, Speak The Truth hits an odd mix of genres that somehow makes a cohesive sound.

While their singles remind me of the racing guitars of Anberlin (“Crash My Car”), or an emo band putting out their first record (“Everyone You Love Will Slip Away from You”), there is a maturity that channels the positive lyricism of modern pop punk (“The Upside Down”). The result is a record that toys with expectations, honors the legacy that helped get these musicians to where they are now and is a truly refreshing record about coping with the world around you.

While I admittedly haven’t followed either Senses Fail or Finch as closely as I would care to admit, I can say this – this is some of the most inspired music from Linares, Wonacott and Pappas that I have seen from their career. What could be brushed off as a “throw-back” pop punk record churns with luscious guitar rhythms and brutal drumming that seems to crop up just when you want it to. Though the album is significantly poppier than I expected, “Go for the Throat” is a pleasant surprise that sounds like a long lost track off of What It Is To Burn.

Neilsen is fantastic. I forget how much I love his vocals until I hear him, and Speak The Truth is no exception. While he relies mostly on clean vocals, his trademark screams find their spot on the record as well. Though scarce, the screams highlight the darker aspects of the songs while his clean vocals tackle the more hopeful spots (“The Upside Down”).

Everyone You Love Will Slip Away from You is a revival of modern emo. Though the album’s title and main theme revolve around the tragedies of life, the album focuses on handling it with poise and determination to come out on the other side as strong as possible. The idea of coping is a strength and Neilsen portrays it brutally.

On “The Upside Down”, Neilsen lays down a thesis for the album, singing, “Sometimes depression is the only thing reminding me that I feel alive/ And all the sadness could be more beautiful than all of the stars in the sky / I don’t wanna be afraid to be who I am / I don’t wanna be ashamed”.

During “Carpenter In Prison”, after describing the idea of being a shell of the person your younger self hoped to have been, he mixes clean vocals and microphone distorting screams of, “Save yourself / Cause there is nothing more / You gotta wade out into the water / You gotta wade out further / If you’re dying inside you gotta swim to the surface”.

Not everything is hopeful, though. “Mornings Mournings” is a unrelenting rage attack on someone. “Crash My Car” is a more traditional emo song, with a chorus of “I crash my car into a wall to bleed with you”. “Drowning on the Sidewalk or Dying Inside” finds Neilsen admitting, “I write better when I’m depressed and anxious / Nobody wants to hear about the sunny side of life / They’d rather hear that I’m choking inside”. The song also acts as a eulogy for a loved one and is the poppiest song on the record (try not to love that piano during the chorus).

That said, this record isn’t perfect. While the lyricism has a thematic element to it, the songwriting feels as though there were too many ideas. As stated before, while one song sounds like a pop punk anthem, the next is a guitar heavy alternative track. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it has a distinctive sound of several writing sessions that were mushed together. Additionally, Neilsen’s lyrics on “At Least There’s Always Lexapro” seem like they are half audible under the production, which pulled me out of it entirely. It’s a track I tend to skip over on repeat listens, which is a shame.

Finally, the album closer, “Show Your Scars” is a truly awful track (lol). It is completely different from the rest of the album sonically, and it seems to come out of nowhere after listening to the previous nine tracks.

All said and done though, Everyone You Love Will Slip Away from You is a solid debut from a band consisting of seasoned veterans. Musically, it is more of a departure from what fans of either Senses Fail or Finch are expecting, but the execution and exploration of sound is brilliant. Consisting of two bands that rose from the heyday of Drive-Thru, their influences aren’t hidden. Speak The Truth sound like a crowning achievement that both pays homage to the bands that brought the scene to where it is today as much as it pushes that sound forward with modern sensibilities.

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 has a cat that just snored so loudly, he thought someone was breaking into his apartment. As a natural defense, he heroically leapt up, smashed his knee on a table and promptly fell over.

Review: Palisades – Palisades

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Whether you’re a national restaurant chain, a digital news outlet or an indie rock band, re-branding can be a gamble. Do you risk alienating your core consumer base in favor of a new identity? In the best-case scenario, these kinds of shifts can not only enlarge an entity’s platform while maintaining their original audience, but also provide an honest representation of the brand in its current form. Such appears to be the case with Palisades.

The New Jersey rock act spent their first two releases on Rise Records attempting to force fit their electronicore leanings into a rather insincere and cluttered package. By the time the unnecessarily-salacious Mind Games dropped in 2015, it was hard to view Palisades as anything other than a gimmicky party favor, even as the band showed signs of real talent.

You can but Palisades on iTunes.

You can but Palisades on iTunes.

After one listen, it’s no surprise that the band decided to self-title their latest release. Palisades is not only their best record, it’s a welcome left turn for a band once affixed on bad girls and party fouls. Along with a complete sonic overhaul, Palisades feels, dare we say, thematically genuine.

The EDM influences and siren-y synthesizers that were once the band’s calling card are now completely absent. Instead, Palisades pulses ahead as a straightforward rock record with traces of nu metal and post-hardcore sprinkled in. The production is slick and airtight with crunchy guitar tones and rattling drum patterns pushing the tracks forward without the needless, clunky breakdowns the band relied on in the past. The back-half of “Hard Feelings” even finds Xavier Adames busting out a quick guitar solo that melds nicely into the mix.

In keeping with the upgrades, vocalist Louis Miceli stands out as most improved. With former bass player and backing vocalist Brandon Reese out of the equation, Palisades now rely solely on Miceli to deliver – and that he does, channeling his inner Chester Bennington throughout the record. On Palisades, his voice transforms to a powerful roar, displacing his various tedious deliveries from past albums. Miceli still finds time to scream on this album, but those moments are far more reserved and natural.

With a much more credible sound firmly in place, the band have allowed themselves to expand their subject matter beyond the banal as well. Surprising opener “Aggression” tackles gun violence with Miceli belting a chorus of, “Can we disarm the loaded gun? / Can we survive what we’ve become? / The hate is slowly choking me / American aggression for free”. It’s a stark progression for a band that sprinkled gun cocking samples onto their previous album.

All of these improvements might merit little discussion if the songs weren’t all that good – but they are. They’re really, really good. “Better Chemicals” is a diverse rocker with a pounding chorus that gets stuck in your brain, while a new and improved version of last year’s “Fall” feels like the best evolution of the band, even tastefully implementing programming elements without ramming them down your throat. New bassist Brandon Elgar joins Miceli during the song’s re-worked bridge, resulting in an explosive moment that may top anything the band has ever done.

“Memories” grooves hard as a track that highlights Palisades’ newly discovered nu metal bent with a delightful verse-chorus transition. And speaking of hooks, “Hard Feelings” is a triumph. The decadent melody behind Miceli’s simple lines of, “I’ve got some hard feelings I’m working through / I’ve got some hard feelings I could put on you” blends perfectly with the grinding guitars that power this energetic track ahead.

You wouldn’t have trouble getting almost any song on Palisades stuck in your head, but this time around, you don’t have to feel guilty about it. Sure, a few of the tracks start to blend together upon repeated listens, and save for some scattered candid moments, Miceli’s lyrics still have room to grow, but overall, the album is a forceful step forward for a band that seemed to be flirting with irrelevancy.

If this self-titled venture is the definitive sound that the band has proclaimed it to be, Palisades very well could have found a niche that might propel the band to new heights. Whatever the case may be, the band is clearly coming into their own at just the right time, making this is one re-branding effort that was well worth the risk.

4/5

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.

Most Anticipated of 2016: #6 AFI Reignite the Fire

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The Sorrow is Sacred

It’s been a tradition for the better part of a decade and a half that AFI releases a new album every three years. The only album to buck this trend was Burials, arriving four years after Crash Love. With their last release arriving in the fall of 2013, the band’s new project should be either done or nearing completion by the end of the year.

AFI’s releases are relentlessly ambitious and each record unique. It defines a certain part of the band’s career. And their fans are ravenous for anything new. AFI have tread ground through goth metal, hardcore, rock and the biggest ‘fuck you’ to pop music ever created with Crash Love. Trying to predict what comes next is near impossible, which is just part of the band’s charm.

If nothing else, the band hasn’t been on a proper tour since 2014. Even if the album itself doesn’t quite fit into 2016, the band should be gearing up in the fall to start a wave of shows across the country in some form or another. AFI is one of the best live bands anyone can get a chance to see. Jade Puget’s guitar work is next to godly on stage, and Davy Havok’s ability to switch between one of the best singers in the scene to one of the best screamers is breathtaking.

With a new Blaqk Audio album finished and ready for release, Havok and Puget are free to focus on their main project. There’s no telling what their new album will sound like, but it will be a reinvention and reinvigoration, guaranteed to have fans combing the songs lyric by lyric until 2019.

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 chased AFI to half a dozen different cities on the Crash Love tour. Ugh, obsessive fanboys, amiright?

He Is Legend Dominate Intimate Show in Chicago

he is legend 2

It’s taken me the better part of a week to try to figure out how to start this: last week, He Is Legend invaded The Subterranean, a club in Chicago. The band, mainstays for a decade with a significant following, played an extremely intimate show. For fans of the band, a hardcore style of ‘Southern rock,’ this was a dream – they could actually touch the stage as the music raged. Technically though, the club was basically empty.

It seems like everyone I know listens to He Is Legend (more of my friends listen to them than they do New Found Glory). As an outsider to the band, I attended the show on a whim with a friend, curious to see the group I’ve heard so much about. Though we arrived late, there were only 40 to 50 people in a room built for at least a couple hundred.

This was not an issue. The fans in attendance were ablaze. The bands gave the crowd an amazing time, essentially playing right on top of them.

Technically the second band on the roster, relative newcomers Don’t Feed the Birds, made a lot of noise for such a small group. What was impressive about them was that, although they’re still fairly green, they wore a stage presence of veterans. Not only were they bouncing as they played, but they grabbed my attention with a lack of bass guitar. The three piece band consisted of a drummer and two guitarists, making up for the lack of bass with distinct higher and lower notes that sounded enough like a full band to make me second guess that there wasn’t a bassist. This is a band that I sincerely hope to see an a year or two drop an astounding album that lands them on the map.

Must be the holy ghost

In what may be the most impressive showcase of musicianship I’ve ever seen, Must Be the Holy Ghost took the one man act to a whole new level. Recording and looping vocal and guitar parts mid-song, MBtHG had a full, rich and clean sound that lent itself well to a style that took a step back from the hardcore influences of the other bands for a more somber tone.

Behind (and on top of) him, a projector displayed a large image of brightly colored oils, spinning and mixing to the beat of the music. It was trippy for someone who hadn’t expected to see it, and captivating in a way to give the music more impact that you would otherwise find on an album alone.

he is legend 1

He Is Legend though, are a formidable force. They’re loud, and comfortable enough with their sound to dance between sincere vocals and crisp screams. There was a fine, delicious line that swayed between hardcore, pop punk and Southern rock that gave the set a full atmosphere. Opening with “Seduction”, the band blasted through some favorites including “I Am Hollywood”, and a version of “Attack of the Dungeon Witch” that melded into “Magnolia”.

While they seemed comfortable in their respective places on stage, their wall of sound dominated the room, made louder and defiant to the small crowd. In the end, the show was a success, but it absolutely baffled me that a band with this much talent faced an issue that I would have never dreamed of. Especially at a club in the hipster part of Chicago.

he is legend 3

Bands face a continuous problem of selling records and touring to support themselves, and it’s easy to forget that even bands with a large following can still face that pressure from time to time. Why Chicago didn’t bite as much as I would have expected, I don’t know. I’ve been wondering why so badly the last few days, and I just don’t have an answer. It happens.

For the fans there, this show was a dream come true. It was up close and unrealistically intimate. You could feel the heat coming from the bands’ bodies as they furiously played and jumped. It was the type of show that showed the resilience of a band and a genre that thrives off of a hardcore fanbase, which is what music is all about.

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 was told he would get a “foot up my ass” from two different people for not telling them about He Is Legend being in town. TWO PEOPLE. How often does that happen?

The Ground Beneath Our Feet: Riot Fest 2015 – Day 2

RiotFest

Riot Fest is an exhausting weekend. Sticking with what has become a yearly tradition, Day 2 of the festival opened after a full day and night of rain and cool temperatures the day before. Thankfully, Saturday’s weather was gorgeous save for a few threatening clouds, but the rain had left its mark, and it would be felt by dozens before the night was done.

One of the trademarks of Riot Fest is how quickly the earth turns to mud once it rains. Vans shoe after Vans shoe smashes the soft grass into the chunky clay and it tends to become a mess. Everyone at the festival would experience it, but for some, it would become a nightmare.

Let’s jump back though, just a bit, to about midday, when Millencolin blazed away to a large crowd. The band looked eerily relaxed on stage, pacing gently and letting the crowd do the majority of the energetic work for them; we were happy to oblige. It was a quick startup to the day ahead.

The Movielife took the stage early on in their full 2002 glory. Vinnie Caruana paced the stage, screaming as the band blazed through their songs to a large crowd, considering the group has been mostly inactive and haven’t released any material in the last 13 years. Regardless, they carried the torch high for the generation that really launched the pop punk revolution from Drive Thru Records back in the day.

About midday, The Dead Milkmen came up, and basically split the crowd in half. On the one side, there were hardcore fans, singing along to every word, losing their shit and constantly reminding anyone who stood near them that seeing this band live was “something magical that doesn’t happen very often.” The other half couldn’t have given less of a fuck and waited it out or went to see who else was playing.

Midday, several current bands utterly slayed everything in their path. Mayday Parade took the stage by storm, delivering one of the most energetic sets I’ve ever seen, leading the crowd in choruses so strong, some people I brought with me who had never heard of the band before were humming the songs by the end. One of the more memorable moments came when the band played a new song, “One of Them Will Destroy the Other”, allegedly for the first time live. The real surprise though, was when Dan Lambton of Real Friends stormed the stage midway through and sang double vocals with vocalist Derek Sanders.

The Devil Wears Prada are destroyers of all things living and pilot the stage like they were trying to destroy Alderaan. Do you really need to know anything else? It’s an amazing show they put on, and even in peak daylight, their lightshow is perfect.

Alexisonfire recently reunited to a mad swarm of fans. The band danced around the stage to a frenzied crowd, wondering when their next chance would be to see the group live again. Although it didn’t happen at Chicago Riot Fest, a week later, the band would announce their official reunion at Riot Fest Toronto in their native Canada.

That night though, was when the true magic appeared, and for some, pure terror.

Billy Idol headlined his stage to a monstrous crowd. He carried his swagger and demanded the crowd sing along with him. He was truly enigmatic, blasting music across the hills before ending with a massive rendition of “White Wedding” that sent the crowd raging screams as Billy commanded their attention.

Taking Back Sunday helped close off the night with a massive stage show. For being one the smaller stages, they upped the ante from their headlining position the previous year. Even several hundred feet from the stage, fans jumped and sang back. With a massive catalog of older songs and their newer hits, the band blasted the night sky with a huge light show.

Then there was The Academy Is… The instant they stepped on stage, the crowd fell under their spell – the opening lines, “Attention, attention” grabbed the audience completely. Despite the incredible noise the band managed to produce, the crowd sang back almost loud enough to drown them out. Their performance was magnetic, nostalgic and hypnotizing, made all the better with the announcement of the band taking a full tour for the 10th anniversary of Almost Here before ending with one of their most underrated songs, “We’ve Got a Big Mess on Our Hands”.

Finally, System of a Down took full reign of the evening. They headlined Day 2 on the biggest stage, and were the unfortunate victims of the day’s muddied frenzy. I only saw the band from the very back of the crowd, as I am not terribly familiar with their music but wanted to see them perform. Several friends jumped headfirst into the gigantic crowd, hoping for a good view and a place to jump. It was catastrophic.

The crowd in front of the stage became too large, too quick, and the mud beneath their feet basically liquefied. Within the first few songs, all hell broke loose as waves of people fell, with more eager fans trampling them further into the mud. The band was forced to stop their set at least twice for minutes at a time to make sure people could get out, but for those in the crowd, it was utter hell. There are dozens of stories about people thinking they were going to die from suffocating in the mud, of people with a bit of space grabbing girls and smaller people and throwing them into the air to crowd surf them to safety.

Although there were officially only a few injuries, several people passed out, and one of my friends emerged with a muddied boot print across his nose and a glassy-eyed, shell shock look on his face as he just mumbled that “he saw a body, face down in the mud, not breathing,” and how the crowd closed in and started jumping before he could get close enough to pull the stranger out of the mud.

It was unfortunate, but a cost of unfortunate weather, and an enormous swarm of loyal fans willing to wade through hell to see their band. At the very least, there are some unique battle stories to be had.

Riot Fest is my favorite festival. So many generations of musicians and fans make it an event that lacks to pompous and annoying crowds that flock to younger shows. This is an event for everyone, and a generous helping of music for whatever genre or era you’re most in love with. With all of the trouble the festival faced this year in Chicago (forced to move venues, sued by a hospital, the mud, so much mud), I fear that we may not see them here again. But Chicago loves this festival, which has quickly become a yearly staple for those who have attended before. I sincerely hope that the festival survives Chicago’s bullshit to reward those loyal enough to come year after year.

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 went to Riot Fest with a man dressed like Tina Belcher from Bob’s Burgers. He was recognized almost a dozen times and posed for photos, while I stood awkwardly to the side, hoping for the sweet release of beer to take hold.

10 Bands You Can’t Miss on Warped Tour 2015

warped_tour_2015

The weather is warm, the sun is shining and school is out. You know what that means – it’s almost time for Vans Warped Tour. The longest running music festival in America returns once again and this year’s lineup is ready to hit the road. We already expressed why our excitement for the tour continues, but we figure it’s time to share a few bands to watch out for.

As usual, the festival is full of scene stars such as Pierce the Veil, The Wonder Years, blessthefall and Motion City Soundtrack. However, each summer presents the opportunity for new bands to break out and make their mark. Below are 10 bands to look for. Some are new, some have already begun their rise to stardom, but all are worth of your attention.

Be sure to share some of your favorite bands on this year’s tour in the replies!

as_it_isAs It Is

Pop punk newcomers As It Is hail from Brighton, England, and have burst onto the scene with their debut album, Never Happy, Ever After. The record is full of poppy jams and melodic choruses, courtesy of lead vocalist Patty Walters. With an energetic stage presence and ton of sing-alongs, it won’t be long before As It Is find their way to the main stage.

moose_bloodMoose Blood

Another act from across the pond, Moose Blood have quickly made a name for themselves with a throwback punk/emo hybrid that’s as catchy as anything you’ll hear this summer. Their debut, I’ll Keep You In Mind, From Time to Time, is a danceable affair full of fight. Their first appearance on Warped Tour is sure to be an enjoyable one.

PVRISPVRIS

Rise Records act PVRIS made their Warped debut last year, but are ready to take over after the release of their debut, White Noise. Vocalist Lynn Gunn is brings the house down over synth beats and dancy breakdowns. PVRIS have a knack for combining rock and electronic sounds into ear-pleasing tracks that sound radio ready.

this_wild_lifeThis Wild Life 

Hailing from Long Beach, California, This Wild Life made a name for themselves on last summer’s tour with heartfelt, acoustic tracks that anyone can relate to. The duo’s debut, Clouded, is a poignant affair full of delicate melodies. You have to hear Kevin Jordan’s vocal performance to believe it. There won’t be much moshing their set, but there will be plenty of back-up singers in the crowd.

hands_like_housesHands Like Houses

Australian rockers Hands Like Houses made their Warped debut back in 2013 after the release of Unimagine. With a new album on the horizon, the band makes their return with a new track titled “I Am”. Hands Like Houses put on one of the best live performances you’ll see, thanks in part to the stratospheric vocals of Trenton Woodley.

the_amity_afflictionThe Amity Affliction

Another Australian band, The Amity Affliction brought the house down with last year’s Let the Ocean Take Me. Now, the band makes their return to the Warped Scene with a ton of new tracks that are just as crushingly heavy in sound as they are in content. Be prepared to move – you can’t watch The Amity Affliction sitting still.

alive-like-meAlive Like Me

Rise Records newcomers Alive Like Me hit the ground running last year with their debut, Only Forever. Blending alt rock with a dash of post-hardcore, Alive Like Me are led by vocalist Jairus Kersey, whose vocals emulate scene stars like Kellin Quinn and Vic Fuentes.

Emarosa1Emarosa

Post-hardcore stars Emarosa make their first Warped appearance since 2010 this summer, this time with a new singer in Bradley Walden. Last year’s album, Versus, may have been the comeback record of the year. The band sounds better than ever and Walden can bring the house down with his dynamic range and bravado.

palisades_2015Palisades

The electronic hardcore act from New Jersey is ready for their close up. Palisades combine pulsing synthesizers with crunchy breakdowns as vocalist Lou Miceli sings and screams his way through each furious song. Their latest release, Mind Games, is full of accessible tracks that seem custom made for Warped Tour, including the incredibly catchy “Bad Girls”.

Youth_In_Revolt_-_2014Youth in Revolt

Youth in Revolt have only just begun to make their mark on the scene with their debut EP Love is a Liar’s Game. The band is full of energy and adds a fresh sound to the metalcore scene. Singer True Arahill is a performer at heart and appears ready to shine on the Warped stage.

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.

Four Year Strong Drop New Song, “We All Float Down Here”

four_year_strong_2014

Four Year Strong have officially returned! The band recently released the first track from their upcoming self-titled album and it is truly a pop punk gem. You can stream “We All Float Down Here” below:

Four Year Strong releases on June 2, 2015. You can see various preorder options at MerchNow. What do you think of the new track? Let us know your thoughts in the replies!

Posted by Kiel Hauck