Last night at Hard Rock Cafe, Philadelphians had the opportunity to experience world-class progressive rock music from both local and international stars, complete with live painting and video projection art for a visual accompaniment. South Jersey stalwarts Out of the Beardspace have been rocking various stages around the region for years now, including their own annual DIY festival, Beardfest. The six-piece ensemble met at the School of Rock, and three members are currently enrolled at University of the Arts for further study, and keyboardist Sam Gutman even spent some time at Berklee College of Music. Though obviously capable of incredibly cerebral music, the group manages to balance it out with visceral grooves, owing a great deal to bassist/vocalist Kevin Savo’s virtuosic work. Each member is a multi-instrumentalist, sporadically rotating around the stage to different instruments for songs that sometimes include two bassists, or two keyboardists, or two drummers, in addition to their standard dual guitar attack and tight three part harmonies. It’s a testament to the propulsive power of their music that the crowd manages to dance along at all, with shifting time signatures turning on a dime into beats and riffs influenced by virtually every genre existent. Recent single “Cast in Stone” was certainly a mid-set highlight, evidently the only time they played it on the four dates they’ve joined this tour. This was the latest of several excellent opening slots the Beardspace boys have scored lately, going on a short tour with Moon Hooch in November and opening for Marco Benevento at Johnny Brenda’s in December. They’re taking a short break from touring as a full group, but Gutman and guitarist Zach LoPresti’s side project the Hollander Crouse Duo will be opening up for Catullus at Doc Watson’s in Exton on February 13th.
Photo courtesy of bestevents.us
Local bassist Julie Slick has attained international success as a member of The Crimson ProjeKCt, a King Crimson tribute band including King Crimson members Adrian Belew, Tony Levin, and Pat Mastelotto. The latter joined her as drummer for this tour, lending his impeccable chops and reputation to a supergroup also featuring Italian prodigy Marco Machera and University of the Arts guitar instructor Tim Motzer. They all displayed incredible musicianship onstage throughout their set, whether playing selections from Slick and Machera’s bass duets album Fourth Dementia or classics from the King Crimson catalog like “Dinosaur” and “Indiscipline”. Slick was celebrating her birthday, and the whole group seemed to be having a ball on stage, Mastelotto’s hands moving almost too fast to see. The sheer quantity of pedals in use was mindblowing, even including consoles set up on chairs that were too complex to be worked by foot. Beardspace guitarist Zach LoPresti had the opportunity to play a song or two with them towards the end, and the addition of another person had the stage virtually overflowing. The integration of circular panels for displaying video artist Dejha Ti‘s projections made for an immersive experience, but one that could perhaps have been better appreciated in a larger space. Beardspace’s own visual art, live painting by the ROMPUS, was relegated to the floor at stage right. Despite all this, the soaring ceilings of Hard Rock kept anyone from feeling cramped at what really was a packed 18+ show, two hometown artists returning from a successful regional tour. Slick and company will wrap things up tonight in New York at Spectrum for WinterProg Fest.
By Dave Fox | Philadelphia Ambassador | @philosofoxthedj | Beat-Play and Music Without Labels, LLC
Let’s face it. There are very few mainstream bands or artists that have been born and bred in San Diego. Many who have made their start here have made the great migration north. Some settled here later. However, one of the few who, with a huge social media presence, tons of fans, and 3 albums (with a 4th on the way), have found their footing in this sunny city is Pierce the Veil.
Formed in 2007, these post-hardcore locals, currently under Fearless Records label, have released 3 studio albums and are currently on the verge of releasing their 4th album. Their most recent album, Collide with the Sky, was released in 2012 to favorable reviews and their single, King for a Day.
Bassist Jaime Preciado spoke to us about the tour, upcoming new album, and working with Sleeping with Sirens.
Pierce the Veil is no stranger working with Sleeping with Sirens. Singer of SWS, Kellin Quinn, joined Pierce the Veil on their hit track “King for a Day,” which helped land the band’s album. Collide with the Sky, at number 12 on the Billboard charts.
About their first leg of tour, Preciado remarks, “It was awesome. We’ve toured with SWS in the past, but this time around, I think our bands are at different points in our career. It was kind of special for us to be able to tour on that kind of scale. The shows were awesome. A lot of them sold out. And a lot of the places we played, we’ve never played before. We played in venues we’ve never done. Bigger venues like arenas. For us it was pretty intense. We were really excited to be able to do that kind of stuff. Going from playing 600-700 capped rooms to playing 4,000 capped rooms, it was like ‘Are there even that many people in this city?’”
More Photos from the Show!
With a new album on the way, one would think it would be daunting to have to follow up with the bar set very high. Preciado doesn’t seem too worried. “Yeah its always in the back of your head, but we approach it the same way we approach every album. We want to top, not just the record that we’ve done, but we want to top ourselves.”
Teaming up with Rockstar Energy and Sleeping with Sirens, the boys of Pierce the Veil are just starting off the second leg of their world tour, the first performance being at San Diego’s Viejas Arena.
The crowd was already pumped following Sleeping with Sirens electric performance. But when the curtain in front of the stage rose, cheers filled the arena. The lights fell and silhouettes of the quartet were illuminated from behind the curtain. As the first song, “Hell Above,” began, the curtain fell and the start of the tour for Pierce the Veil officially began as confetti rained down. The energy of the boys was contagious. Preciado head banged and launched from his riser. Guitarist Tony Perry paced the stage and flung his guitar about, while still managing to play with precision. Back on drums is Mike Fuentes, and up front and center, his brother Vic balancing performing, playing guitar, and singing.
The camaraderie in the band is evident. These are people who enjoy what they do, and enjoy the people they do it with. Their songs, according to Preciado, are written with the understanding that they have to be performed live. In fact, catering their songs to be like have gained them the “Best Live Band” at last year’s Alternative Press Award.
“We started thinking that way. Like “why don’t we have this [song] on the record? It’s fun to play, fun to do, let’s just put it on the record. When the fans got involved with that, we thought about ‘How fast can people jump?’ We mapped that out in the studio, stuff people wouldn’t normally do. We realize were going to play these songs for kids so why not make them as fun as possible. We’re going to play these songs for years after too, so why not make them fun to play.”
Check out their website!
Despite a high energy show, there is a beautiful contrast as Vic steps out to perform an acoustic version of “I’m Low on Gas, and You Need a Jacket.” The crowd sings along with every lyric, holding onto every note from Vic’s guitar. The night ends with another confetti shower, with the band’s hit “King for a Day.” Quinn joins the band on stage to drive the night, the show, and the beginning of the tour home.
The band is touring the US for their 2nd leg of the tour, and will soon make their way over to the UK and Europe for the final leg.
Postmodern Jukebox has been getting a lot of attention lately, taking popular songs and giving them a vintage twist.
Heading this ragtag team is Scott Bradlee, an accomplished pianist and composer, Bradlee started reworking songs as a creative exercise. As his popularity grew, he focused mostly on getting people together for Postmodern Jukebox which utilized his creative exercise and produced covers of songs in various styles of jazz, soul, swing and more. With accreditation on tracks from last year’s highly successful video game, Bioshock Infinite, and appearances on outlets such as Fuse and NPR, Bradlee is making his way into more and more ears everyday.
Scott Bradlee and his gang came to San Diego for a fitting performance at the house of blues. Upon entering, La Follies, a trio of burlesque dancers, were onstage getting the crowd ready to travel back in time to the Roaring Twenties. The crowd themselves were dressed for the time piece, sporting vests and dresses similar to the times. Before the show, much of the crowd could be found swing dancing with their partners in anticipation.
Throughout the night, the MC, Blake Lewis, introduces the array of rotating singers and graces the audience with “commercial breaks,” in which he gives us his best radio announcer voice to narrate a current product or service as if it was set in the jazz age. From Uber to 4 Locos, its a creative, and often hilarious, take on exactly what they are there to do; take the audience back in time.
The performances themselves are a rotation of talent, as members of the tour take the stage.Not a detail is spared, from the supporting band, complete with horns and an upright bass, to the outfits of everyone on stage. A ragtime cover of Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe,” and a Britney Spear’s “Womanizer” with a 40′s twist start the night off. A slowed down jazzy take on Meghan Trainor’s massive hit, “All About That Bass,” hits a high note with the audience, who throughout the show can be found dancing and singing along. The crowd is eclectic, filled with younger kids who know every word to the pop songs that will define much of their youth, and the older crowd enamored by the song styles that defined theirs.
Postmodern Jukebox is a show for all ages. While they could have easily just covered songs, they take it a step farther creating an atmosphere that could make anyone believe its the early 1900s. Their devotion to not only playing a concert but putting on a show is incredible, and it makes their show a unique and fun blast into the past.
Last Tuesday, a crowd of people got out of the cold and huddled in the warmth and glow of San Diego’s Casbah venue. To a huge applause, a single man walked out on stage with nothing but an acoustic guitar and a bottle of water. He welcomes, with a strong accent, the crowd to his show. This man, Midge Ure, then dives into a 19 song long acoustic set that spans more than 30 years of music.
Ure is nothing short of a veteran on stage. His time was long spent fronting the successful new wave band, Ultravox, whose fame, while widespread, seemed to garner only a fraction of the attention in the US. Throughout his incredible career, Ure has also found popularity playing in bands such as Rich Kids and Thin Lizzy, and spearheaded the charity relief concerts Live Aid and Live 8 with Bob Geldof. Alongside the charity events, Ure and Geldof organized the “Band Aid” supergroup to sing “Do They Know Its Christmas” (co written and produced by Ure) to raise funds to help the crises in Africa.
With Band Aid 30 past this last Christmas, Ure is now focusing on the release of his new solo album, Fragile.
Nearly 13 years after Ure’s most recent album of new songs (Move Me), Ure dropped Fragile in July of last year, which is often reviewed as his best solo album to date.
Ure told us recently how he feels connected to this new album, namely tracks such as “Fragile,” “I Survived” and “Star Crossed.” He explains, “…they’re about subjects. It’s about real stuff. It’s about life It’s about me. its about the highs and lows of you go through. Irrespective of if you’re standing on one side of a microphone or the other. We all go through crap. Im fortunate enough to sit down and exorcise those ghosts by writing songs by putting into music. People who haven’t gotten that facility end up lying on their side on their psychiatrists couch somewhere. Music is my psychiatrists couch.”
Yet the writing process hasn’t changed much for him. Throughout his career he claims to approach his albums a bit differently than most. Instead of constantly and writing a prolific amount of songs, bringing them to a producer and recording a select few, Ure writes whilst in the studio, surrounded by instruments.
“I produce the track as I’m writing the song and I’m write the song as I’m producing the track.”
Check out Midge’s website!
Though his album, much like his previous work, heavily incorporates a range of electronics, much of which drove Ultravox’s success, his tour throughout America this run is strictly acoustic. When asked if he finds any problems with playing his songs acoustically, there’s a confidence in his voice.
“It was at first and I’ll tell you when it started. I did a tour back in I think 1990, here in America. I dug my heels in and really didn’t want to do it. I’m not an acoustic performer. My record company at the time said ‘you should do it, it’s great, it’s good for you.’ So I did coast to coast of America over a six week period. And all the way through I played the same 3 or 4 songs because I was so scared to try and attempt something like ‘Vienna’ or Dancing with Tears in my Eyes’ or whatever, because I couldn’t get my head around the concept that those songs if their well-constructed, should make the translation. And of course by the end of that tour, the rest of the guys on the tour talked me into doing it and since I never looked back. I can perform most of my stuff without electronics.”
Live, Midge Ure commands attention. His persona on stage is one of an experienced performer, with a quick wit and plenty of one liners. His voice still stands the test of time and his willingness to spend time with his fans afterwards, signing autographs and taking pictures, really shows how genuine a person he is.
Lauren Wilson | San Diego Ambassador | @Twitter | @Instagram | Beat-Play & Music Without Labels, LLC
KBM Productions put on a great show at Connie’s Ric Rac Friday night. The first performer was Jared Jones, a singer-songwriter performing solo with his acoustic guitar. Opening with an original called “With or Without You”, which he assured us had nothing to do with the U2 song of the same name, he ran through a smooth set of originals and covers, including Taylor Swift’s “You Belong With Me” and Bon Iver’s “Skinny Love”, the latter of which he admitted was based on Ed Sheeran’s rendition. Interspersed between each song he shared the story behind its composition or the reason why he liked it with an endearing humor that soon had the audience eating out of his hand. Though both his songs and his performance could use a little polish, his powerful vocals reminded me of the best of the Warped Tour bands I grew up with and his easygoing personality will make for a winning combination on the local circuit as he fine-tunes his skills.
Next up was Dominic Tursi, a Connecticut native currently attending University of the Arts. With fellow student Tyler Lyons adding beats on cajon and effective use of a vocal harmonizer, it was easy to forget there wasn’t a full band on stage performing his laid-back indie pop songs. The two soon had the audience grooving and even singing along to songs they didn’t know, at least for the oohs and ahhs, which were rather frequent in music that would fit nicely on a summer shore playlist next to Jason Mraz and Colbie Caillat. This is an artist that is going places, with tunes perfectly suited to various commercial placements and a friendly and inclusive performance style that is sure to build up his audience wherever he goes. Following his set, all the artists present immediately asked him about his vocal processing before the lead support act came on.
That act was Laura Cheadle, a blues singer from New Jersey whose family band immediately kicked things into high gear. With her father on keys, brother on guitar, and a female drummer whose relationship to her seemed to change throughout the set, some of her raunchier covers and originals seemed uncomfortable, but she laughed off the awkwardness, jokingly asking her dad to cover his ears periodically. She’s clearly an experienced performer, hopping down into the crowd to dance with the die-hard fans down front and new converts alike, and generally dashing about the stage with unbridled enthusiasm. She’d gotten things good and sweaty by the time headliners Hazie Blu came on.
Hazie Blu exists primarily as a backing band for various projects, having worked with R&B singers Cody Kahmar, Yufi Zewdu, and others for years, currently focusing on rapper The Bul Bey. They also serve as a springboard for the solo projects of the various members and collaborative performance group, having played songs by guitarist CodeNine, bassist Wil Bond, and former keyboardist Leon Tomas (now known as A’rin Leon). This performance was therefore a blend between their own music and Bey’s, with the latter’s mixtape version of Stevie Wonder’s “All I Do” the clear crowd favorite following Cheadle’s traditionalist performance. CodeNine’s brother Que (pronounced like its first letter) again provided his prodigious talents on both keys and vocals as they tore through a set that had everyone dancing, complete with a demand for an encore that they satisfied with “Say Yeah” from CodeNine & Bey’s collaborative EP. Today they dropped a new song by Wil Bond, the Latin-inflected slow jam “Open Up”, which you can check out here:
By Dave Fox | Philadelphia Ambassador | @philosofoxthedj | Beat-Play and Music Without Labels, LLC