Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Live review: Twenty One Pilots, CMCU Amphitheatre (6/28/2016)

Posted By on Wed, Jun 29, 2016 at 3:50 PM

Twenty One Pilots, Mutemath, Chef'Special
Charlotte Metro Credit Union Amphitheatre
June 28, 2016

The Twenty One Pilots show was the hottest ticket in town on Tuesday night. For those hopefuls trying to snag an extra ticket outside of the amphitheater at Music Factory to no avail: I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but this show was definitely worth the hype.

Twenty One Pilots showed proved themselves as an epic force to be reckoned with. They are a band that has earned its newly minted big-timer status. What’s funny? The group couldn’t be smaller, numerically: there are only two dudes in the band. Yet those two dudes, singer Tyler Joseph and drummer Josh Dun, manage to put on a two hour show that could rock even bigger arenas.
Twenty One Pilots - PHOTO BY JEFF HAHNE
  • Photo by Jeff Hahne
  • Twenty One Pilots
Charlotte Metro Credit Union Amphitheatre was packed.

The crowd was an odd mixture of little kids in makeup to parents that looked just as excited to see the duo. Seats completely sold out, right down to the last blade of grass on the lawn. You really can’t blame hopefuls who were pursuing scalpers months in advance and hoping to get in on the action. Twenty One Pilots tore through a 22 song set that was full of surprises, including a giant hamster ball. Yes, I said, a giant hamster ball. But we’ll get to that later.

For some background, Joseph and Dun hail from Columbus, Ohio. They started the musical duo in 2009 (with a few former members). They self-released two albums before being signed by Fueled By Ramen in 2012, and their most recent release Blurryface hit number one on the Billboard 200, spawning two massive radio hits "Stressed Out" and "Ride." Now, they’re going from city to city selling out shows on their aptly named "Emotional Roadshow" world tour. This whole production is a dream come to life for them and they’re very open about it. That, along with some musical genius and multi-talented musicians, is why they inspire such a passionate following of fans.

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Thursday, June 23, 2016

Live review: Taking Back Sunday, Dashboard Confessional, more (6/21/2016)

Posted By on Thu, Jun 23, 2016 at 10:50 AM

Taking Back Sunday, Dashboard Confessional, Saosin and The Early November
Charlotte Metro Credit Union Amphitheater
June 21, 2016

The Charlotte stop of The Taste of Chaos Tour hit the Music Factory on Tuesday night to a packed house. Everyone was more than willing to wait in 90-degree heat to see a this year's lineup with a nostalgic theme. With headliners like Dashboard Confessional and Charlotte’s own Taking Back Sunday, it’s no surprise the Charlotte Metro Credit Union Uptown Amphitheatre was filled.

As the sun slowly sank, Saosin and The Early November opened up with solid half hour sets (Saosin missing Anthony Green due to a delay at the airport). What crowd there was at that point milled about, taking in the show but clearly biding their time until the headliners. The amphitheater wasn’t even half full until Taking Back Sunday really hit their stride, suddenly bursting at the seams as they screamed along to the band that voiced their high school experience.

Taking Back Sunday played a 13-song set to the roaring crowd. They received the kind of welcome only a hometown can give you (frontman Adam Lazzara lives right around the corner in NoDa, as does guitarist Nathan Cogan). They started with a few throwbacks, fan favorites like “Cute Without the E (Cut from the team)” and “Liar (It takes one to know one).”

Seeing them onstage, it’s clear that these guys have been doing this for the past 17 odd years—they really have a handle on how to work a stage and a crowd, especially Lazzara. “I understand a lot of you probably came out this evening for nostalgic purposes,” Lazzara said between songs. “There ain’t nothing wrong with that ladies and gentleman…. But you do know what that means, yeah? That means we’ve been doing this together, we’ve been growing together! I was there when you were smoking cigarettes out behind your high school. I was there when you got your driver’s license…and all that to say here I am, in Charlotte, North Carolina, I’m still here today.”

Lazzara in person is like an evangelical preacher, bending the crowd to his every whim. The five-piece band roared through a set consisting of fan favorites and a few newer songs, including a brand-new track from their upcoming album called “Tidal Wave” that, as Lazzara said, “Is too damn good not to play.”

Dashboard Confessional got a few more songs in as they took the stage around 10, opening with “Vindicated” as the impressive LED display illuminated the foursome. The band is much less interactive and talkative than Taking Back Sunday, but it’s clear why they were the evening’s frontrunners.

Every single person in the crowd sang along to what seemed to be the soundtrack to their high school and college years. Taking Back Sunday may command the stage with their presence, but Dashboard Confessional manages to do it through two guitars, a bass and drum kit, and the insane vocals of Chris Carrabba. He barely had to speak to get the crowd amped up; all he had to do was launch into the opening verses of fan favorites like “Screaming Infidelities” or “As Lovers Go,” and they were eating out of the palm of his hand.

As a foursome, they have their live show down pat. Having four talented musicians on a stage together isn’t always enough to have the right chemistry for a rock show, but it’s something that Dashboard Confessional have always managed perfectly, and this year was no exception. Their 16-song set was full of the right mixture of old and new songs that got Charlotte on their feet and swaying to the beat. This is only the third week of Taste of Chaos, so if you missed their Charlotte stop, there’s always the chance to catch them in another city. And you should probably take that chance.

Taking Back Sunday setlist
1. Cute Without the E (Cut from the Team)
2. Liar (It takes one to know one)
3. Flicker, Face
4. What’s It Feel Like to Be a Ghost?
5. A Decade Under the Influence
6. Stood a Chance
7. You’re So Last Summer
8. Holy Water
9. Timberwolves at New Jersey
10. Better Homes and Gardens
11. Error: Operator
12. Tidal Wave
13. MadeDamnSure

Dashboard Confessional setlist
1. Vindicated
2. The Sharp Hint of New Tears
3. The Good Fight
4. Saints and Sailors
5. As Lovers Go
6. The Swiss Army Romance (acoustic)
7. The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most (acoustic)
8. Remember to Breathe (partially acoustic)
9. Don’t Wait
10. Again I Go Unnoticed
11. The Best Deceptions
12. Heart Beat Here (acoustic)
13. Screaming Infidelities
14. Fix You (Coldplay cover)
15. Stolen

16. Hands Down

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Monday, June 20, 2016

Live photos: Lake Street Dive, The Fillmore (6/17/2016)

Posted By on Mon, Jun 20, 2016 at 10:10 AM

Lake Street Dive, The Lone Bellow
The Fillmore
June 17, 2016
Lake Street Dive
  • Lake Street Dive
Just over three years ago, I caught Lake Street Dive during a sold-out show at the Evening Muse. Since that time, the band has been back in town several times, performing for sold-out crowds at bigger venues along the way. 

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Friday, June 17, 2016

Live review: Death Cab For Cutie and Chvrches (6/16/2016)

Posted By on Fri, Jun 17, 2016 at 9:52 AM

Death Cab For Cutie w/ Chvrches
Charlotte Metro Credit Union Amphitheater
June 16, 2016

When Death Cab For Cutie and Chvrches announced they were touring together, it definitely raised questions about what type of crowd the two bands would draw together. Between Chvrches synthesized pop and Death Cab’s indie rock, it was a toss-up. But the one thing you could be sure of? That it would be a huge crowd.

It was. The two headliners packed the Charlotte Metro Credit Union Amphitheater on Thursday night with quite the eclectic group of fans, uniting two powerhouses from different genres of music.
Since this tour is considered a co-headlining tour, both groups got about equal stage time, with Death Cab taking the stage last (after all, the guys are industry veterans who’ve amassed a cult following since 1997). Yet as young as Chvrches are as a band, especially when compared to Death Cab for Cutie, both are powerhouse bands in their own rights.
Chvrches frontwoman Laren Mayberry. (Photo by Jeff Hahne)
  • Chvrches frontwoman Laren Mayberry. (Photo by Jeff Hahne)

Once Oregon’s Pure Bathing Culture warmed up the crowd with a solid set it was time for Chvrches to hit the stage. Immediately coming out of the gate with anthem “Never Ending Circles,” they sounded flawless. They really brought the energy back despite the exhaustion of the heat and humidity. Frontwoman Lauren Mayberry was especially impressive, as she was the one forced to run from side stage to side stage to make up for the energy of her stationary bandmates. “I’m just going to hang my head in front of this fan like a dog out the window,” she joked between songs, feeling the heat. “We come from a very rainy country where the sun never comes out, and this is nice, but fucking hell!”
Death Cab For Cutie (Photo by Jeff Hahne)
  • Death Cab For Cutie (Photo by Jeff Hahne)

They ripped through 10 tracks, a mixture of old and new songs that fans seemed to know every word to. By the time the sun went down, the crowd was thoroughly amped up and squirming for the next musical experience: the legendary Death Cab for Cutie.

Ben Gibbard and Lauren Mayberry took the stage prior to their set to bring attention to a cause near and dear to their hearts. “So just for a minute, we want to bring attention to why we’re here, or I guess why we’re not-not here,” Gibbard said, bringing the crowd to a hush. He went on to explain that proceeds from this show were going to benefit North Carolina LGBTQ organizations and to the repeal of HB2. They brought out representatives from the Freedom Center for Social Justice and Southerners On New Ground, two local organizations fighting for full repeal of HB2.

“We had planned to come and talk to you all about HB2 tonight, but in light of the massacre in Pulse nightclub on Saturday, we’re hoping to spark a different conversation about what it’s gonna take for us to build safety for all of our communities in North Carolina and beyond,” said Lyles, the representative of Southerners On New Ground.
Photo by Jeff Hahne.
  • Photo by Jeff Hahne.

The crowd listened as the trio of reps stressed the importance of recognizing the true issues at the heart of the matter, and as they read out the name of each individual victim of the massacre. An emotional moment for everyone in the amphitheater, the only sounds above the names being read were that of traffic in the distance. It was a powerful interlude.

Death Cab For Cutie (Photo by Jeff Hahne)
  • Death Cab For Cutie (Photo by Jeff Hahne)
Death Cab for Cutie came out as a band after this recognition, to a subdued crowd that kicked into gear the moment they hit the first chord of “No Room in Frame.” Chvrches had to warm the crowd up a bit to get them singing and dancing, but Death Cab merely had to grace the stage with their presence. The entire place was filled with the sound of every single crowdgoer crooning right along with Gibbard, making it hard to hear him at times. For favorites like “I Will Follow You Into the Dark,” it was sometimes impossible to hear him—the raised voices of joy nearly tuned him out and the energy just kept building.
Death Cab For Cutie (Photo by Jeff Hahne)
  • Death Cab For Cutie (Photo by Jeff Hahne)

They roared through a set consisting of mostly old crowd favorites, 12 songs played feverishly and flawlessly. For their encore the group took it down a bit, starting with just Gibbard’s voice and a lone piano for ballad “Passenger Seat.” They left the crowd wanting so much more with their last, “Transatlanticism,” which ended on a high note, much like the show itself.

The entire show was an emotional rollercoaster masterfully conducted by two vastly different bands, yet it somehow came together flawlessly. This was the last night of the tour, but if you ever get the chance to see Chvrches and Death Cab sharing the same stage? Don’t miss it.

Chvrches Setlist:
1. Never Ending Circles
2. We Sink
3. Keep You On My Side
4. Empty Threat
5. High Enough to Carry You Over
6. Bury It
7. Recover
8. Clearest Blue
9. Leave a Trace
10. The Mother We Share

Death Cab for Cutie Setlist:
1. No Room in Frame
2. Crooked Teeth
3. The New Year
4. Black Sun
5. The Ghosts of Beverly Drive
6. Brothers On a Hotel Bed
7. I Will Follow You Into the Dark
8. I Will Possess Your Heart
9. You Are a Tourist
10. Cath…
11. Soul Meets Body
12. Bixby Canyon Bridge

13. Passenger Seat
14. Transatlanticism

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Thursday, June 16, 2016

Live review: The 1975, Charlotte Metro Credit Union Amphitheater (6/15/2016)

Posted By on Thu, Jun 16, 2016 at 4:27 PM

The 1975
Charlotte Metro Credit Union Amphitheater
June 15, 2016

The one thing most people can agree on when it comes to The 1975: You either love them or you hate them. There’s rarely a gray area. When they hit the Charlotte Metro Credit Union Amphitheater on June 15, it was to a packed venue that fell into the former. Touring in support of their second album, I Like It When You Sleep For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It (with a name like that, it’s easy to understand why some people find them a little pretentious), their 90 minute set left Charlotteans begging for more - especially the ladies.

The 1975 first came on the mainstream scene three years ago with their hit "Chocolate," a strange way to rise to popularity in a PC culture considering the song revolves around the British slang for weed. Yet it’s '80s pop sound appealed, culminating in a huge following that made the release of their second album that much more exciting. This time around they’ve fully embraced the pop sound, and brought their trademark positive vibes to a whole other level.

Their live show is incredible to behold - they’ve become a band that is in a much bigger spotlight over the years, but still keep their show to a minimal, not overdone with lighting and effects like some of their peers. Four LED columns fading in and out of various colors that actually enhanced their electro-pop sound flanked them. Because what goes better with electronica than neon lighting? Besides flawless vocal execution and musicianship, not a whole lot.

Singer Matt Healy jiggles to the beat with every movement, driving girls wild with every hip shake like Elvis himself. Whether you love The 1975 or hate them, seeing them live, you have to admit they put on a hell of a good show. Healy certainly has become a master at crowd control - he’s the only front man I’ve seen that can actually get an entire venue of people to put their smartphones down for five minutes:

“So we’re going to do a song, this next song, where it’s just us, and you, and nobody else in the world,” he said during a pause in the set. “The only way we can do that is if everybody puts down their phones for one song… I’m not being patronizing, I’m not being grumpy, I get the whole phones thing - just trust me, the memory of the next five minutes, the real memory, will be far better.”

For a full song, nothing distracted from the band, not even the glare of a single iPhone. It was incredible. As they moved through their set, Healy became more talkative, a slight departure from his usual onstage persona. A portion of their set appeared to be in honor of the recent Orlando Pulse club shootings, featuring a backdrop of beautiful rainbow colors. Healy paused to speak to the crowd between songs, saying:

“Being in a pop band sometimes feel a bit superficial, and sometimes I wonder are we doing the right thing,” Healy said. “But the fact of the matter is, this kind of thing this environment that we live in, the kind of freedom, cultural, social freedom that we have at something like a pop concert, it’s really fucking important. We can’t have our liberties taken away from us.”

These words echoed the sentiment of the crowd exactly. The band finished out their live show by bleeding their encore into the usual setlist, afraid of the threat of a looming storm and sparing their fans the indignity of getting drenched. It was easy to see that despite the glaring lightning and bank of clouds, the music factory crowd would have been willing to sit in a torrential downpour all night if it meant more of The 1975. Well done boys.

1. "Love Me"
2. "UGH!"
3. "Heart Out"
4. "So Far (It’s Alright)"
5. "A Change of Heart"
6. "She’s American"
7. "Anobrain"
8. "Menswear"
9. "Loving Someone"
10. "Me"
11. "fallingforyou"
12. "Somebody Else"
13. "An Encounter"
14. "Robbers"
15. "You"
16. "Paris"
17. "Girls"

18. "If I Believe You"
19. "Chocolate"
20. "The Sound"

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Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Live review: Ellie Goulding (6/9/2016)

Posted By on Tue, Jun 14, 2016 at 4:45 PM

Ellie Goulding w/ Matt and Kim
Charlotte Metro Credit Union Amphitheatre
June 9, 2016

Brooklyn-based indie pop duo Matt and Kim opened with an energetic set. If you’ve never seen the pair, they are a sight to behold. Although they display more goofball antics as opposed to true musical talent, they did a good job at entertaining the crowd who jumped along to songs throughout their set. Drummer Kim climbed on her drums between songs and made bad jokes to vocalist/keyboardist, Matt. Their performance of "Daylight" was a highlight. 
  • Photo by David Roemer
  • Ellie Goulding

Needless to say, there was reason to be extra excited when Ellie Goulding finally hit the stage with an entourage of musicians, backup singers and dancers. The EDM pop princess has changed a good bit since I last saw her years back at a show in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Part of that change had to do with the extra bodies onstage while the other part had to do more with a diva, sex appeal persona radiating from Goulding throughout the night. On songs like “Something In the Way You Move,” and “Keep on Dancin’” buff male dancers worked their way around Goulding, at times even drawing her closer with ropes in a BDSM fashion.

But Goulding’s sweet side came out on acoustic numbers like “Devotion” and the heartfelt “Army,” a song written about one of her best friends who is currently on the road with her. A slideshow consisting of photos of the besties was flashed on the big screen.

Goulding mostly played songs from 2012’s Halcyon and 2015’s Delirium, but she didn’t forget the song that helped to launch her career, “Lights” from her 2010 album of the same name. She finished her lengthy set with some of her most popular songs to date – “Need Your Love,” “Burn,” “Anything Could Happen,” and “Love Me Like You Do.” During the latter, there was a confetti blast to close the night’s exuberance.

Holding on for life
Goodness Gracious
Something in the Way You Move
Keep on Dancin’
Don’t Need Nobody
Lost and Found
Figure 8
On My Mind
We Can’t Move To This
Need Your Love
Anything Could Happen
Love Me Like You Do

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Live review: DJ Audien, Label (6/11/2016)

Posted By on Tue, Jun 14, 2016 at 8:00 AM

There are endless options for Saturday night entertainment in Charlotte, but only one venue mattered on June 11. DJ Audien paid the Music Factory a little visit, spinning to a packed house at Label Nightclub from midnight until well into Sunday morning. The place was literally pulsing from the moment he came out, the walls shaking from his energetic performance that kept every single person in the small club bouncing off the walls for the entirety of the two hour set.

Audien, or Connecticut born Nathaniel Rathbun, started producing music as a teenager. He began creating his ‘happy hardcore’ tracks and released them on Only Vibes Recording, a digital label he co-founded with the producer Naggy. After a few transitions both musically and label wise, he’s transformed himself into the DJ with we know and love. Now, he sells out major venues all over the world, headlining EDM festivals with his progressive house music and euphoric sounds, dominating the Billboard dance charts. It's a pretty impressive resume for a 24-year-old.

To say Audien’s performance was energetic is an understatement. He’s known for Grammy nominated remixes and for his trademark sound that can runs the gamut from trap and dubstep to electro house - all of which came together Saturday for an uplifting soundtrack that made everyone want to dance the night away. The transitions were smooth and Audien planned his set perfectly, carefully bringing the sound and energy to a crescendo as he moved through different genres of music.

The energy of both DJ and crowd was amplified throughout the set with an impressive laser lights show and smoke effects from Label. Perfectly timed smoke poured onto the crowd below each time the beat dropped, confetti was released periodically and the sound system was on point. By the end of the night both Audien and the Charlotte crowd left sweaty, energetic and smiling.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Live review: Dead & Company, PNC Music Pavilion (6/10/2016)

Posted By on Mon, Jun 13, 2016 at 11:09 AM

Dead & Company
PNC Music Pavilion
June 10, 2016

Halfway through "Eyes of the World," to kick off the band's second set, Dead & Company hit its stride. Every member of the group — Bob Weir, Bill Kreutzmann, Mickey Hart, John Mayer, Oteil Burbridge, Jeff Chimenti — was finding his groove in the pocket and allowing the song to take flight in every dimension for more than 20 minutes.

Consider the first set a warmup for the group consisting of three members of the Grateful Dead — Weir, Hart and Kreutzmann — alongside pop-rocker John Mayer, bassist Burbridge of the Allman Brothers and keyboardist Chimenti, who has played with various related lineups in the post-Grateful Dead world.

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Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Live review: Selena Gomez, Time Warner Cable Arena (6/7/2016)

Posted By on Wed, Jun 8, 2016 at 12:32 AM

Selena Gomez w/ DNCE
Time Warner Cable Arena
June 7, 2016

  • Photo by Jeff Hahne
  • Selena Gomez
The new generation’s pop princess treated Charlotte to a 90-minute set on Tuesday night when Selena Gomez’s Revival Tour rolled into town. Many fans had anxiously awaited this night partially out of anticipation, partially because of anxiety, as they weren’t sure the show would go on.

With so many musical acts and shows pulling out of their Queen City stops thanks to the HB2 bill, Gomez’s fans waited with bated breath until she confirmed she would still be here. “I would never disappoint you,” she told the crowd at Time Warner Cable Arena with her trademark grin.

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