Twenty One Pilots | 2.13.12

live 21pilots

Firebird, St. Louis

Note: I wanted to share my review of Twenty One Pilots from their 2012 show at the Firebird in St. Louis, MO. Seeing how far this band has come in just five years gives some perspective.

Twenty One Pilots fully encompassed every inch of the Firebird on a cold Wednesday night in St. Louis. Over an hour before the doors opened, hundreds of fans lined up outside for the sold-out show. Once doors opened, they did not move an inch as the headliners as well as the openers from Denmark, New Politics, took the stage.

New Politics, having previously played the Firebird, seemed extremely impressed looking at the large crowd that had filled in. The band from Copenhagen played through the majority of their first album in their short set and kept the crowd in it with a mix of fun pop-rock and rap, as well as a brief look into Euro-style break dancing by lead vocalist David Boyd.

The band played well with the ladies in the crowd, and given their (supposedly) not self-given doppelganger appointed looks, this was no surprise. Boyd proclaimed he was the James Franco of the group, with guitarist Soren Hansen playing the part of Kurt Cobain and drummer Louis Vecchio as Adam Levine.

All dancing and looks aside, the band put on a seriously awesome performance that left the crowd wanting more and looking forward to their upcoming album. New single “Harlem,” which is not related to the current “Harlem Shake” fad, gave a good sneak peek into the sound of the new album and got the crowd pumped up for the Ohioan headliners.

Twenty One Pilots—consisting of lead singer/pianist Tyler Joseph and drummer Joshua Dun—have jumped into the public eye since their December set at Peabody Opera House opening for fun. and The Joy Formidable. They scored a record deal with Atlantic subsidiary Fueled by Ramen a year ago, and now receive heavy radio play on alternative rock stations.

The duo quickly got the crowd moving, taking the stage in hoodies that fully covered their faces with the first song off their new album Vessel, “Ode to Sleep.” The song owes its intro to alternative bands like Hollywood Undead and further-reaching ’90s rap-rock, but quickly dives into a much more piano-pop friendly demeanor that takes over the rest of the night.

Seeming almost shocked by the crowd singing to every word and his every movement, Joseph had to take almost a full minute in between ukulele-featuring songs “Screen” and “House of Gold.” He proclaimed that every member of the crowd was a member of the band, though later in the show he admitted it felt a bit as if “you guys chased us around town all day, finally got us cornered and made us perform for you.”

Part of that awkward, uncomfortable feeling of watching a band discover its newfound fame is fun in itself. This is only amplified by an awareness that the next time they come through town will be at a much larger venue, losing some of that intimate feeling of a band personally expressing its appreciation.

Joseph spouts lyrics about depression that appeal to a new generation, while also bringing everyone together to say “remember this moment, when you and the other people in the room experienced this together, and how happy you are.” That group mentality is what drives fans to line up in the cold to get closer, and develops a near cult-like devotion. Alternative bands like 30 Seconds to Mars and My Chemical Romance have developed this so wonderfully by bringing the “broken people” together, as everyone in the crowd sings, lifting them all. | Bruce Matlock

My Top Live Acts of 2016 (and what i’m looking forward to in 2017)

2016 may have been the most depressing of my life (29 years). When it came to live music however, it was one of my best. It featured TWO shows at Red Rocks Amphitheater in Colorado, a Beatle,  two Cage the Elephant shows and an exclusive show in St. Louis by rock and roll hall of famers Green Day. While this year guaranteed i’ll never see David Bowie or Prince live… I also saw the emergence of Lewis Del Mar, Judah and the Lion and Anderson Paak..

10.14.2016 – Lewis Del Mar at Blueberry Hill Duck Room, St. Louis, MO

These dudes ended up being the top of my most listened to according to Spotify, in spite of the fact that their album didn’t come out until October. When I realized I had an opportunity to see them in the dark basement of Blueberry Hill, class the next morning wasn’t going to stop me.”Loud(y)” was my top song of the year and the eruption from the minute crowd upon hearing it let me know Lewis Del Mar is destined for much bigger venues.

12.4.2016 – Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats – The Pageant, St. Louis, MO

Stardom looks good on the 38 year old from Hermann, MO. It was clearly a very emotional night with Rateliff avoiding cracking up most of the night, and early on mentioning he didn’t want the evening to go down a darker road. It felt more like a celebration, like a returning champion, though the band calls Denver, CO home now. By the time “S.O.B.” arrived, the crowd was in a fervor that ended in the entire building humming the tracks famous chorus until the band returned to the stage.

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6.22.2016 – Sia – Red Rocks Amphitheater, Morrison, CO

The first of my two prior mentioned Red Rocks shows. It was not a pleasant evening, especially if you weren’t a local who knew. As show time approached a chill swept over the mountain and rain licked the faces of fans. No one was leaving, maybe to the gift shop to buy every blanket and rain jacket they had. Those who waited and laughed at the pure oddness of being shown a preview of BBC nature show “The Hunt”. Even the spokespeople for the event were almost blown offstage. Arrive Sia did, and a performance ensued. I say that word specifically because it was not a concert. Yes, a vocalist performed, and dancers acted out breathtaking scenes, it was beyond what a concert is. There was no front man cracking jokes or doing power fists. There was a shy Australian named Sia Furler hiding at the back and exiting with a meek “thank you”. Coloradans are insanely tough.

10.26.2016 – Green Day – The Pageant, St. Louis, MO

Green Day have never been ones to shy away from a small venue tour. Hell, they go as far as to tour as other bands entirely. This felt special though, in a way that St. Louis doesn’t normally get this kind of show. It was supposed to be the first of the tour, but due to sickness ended up being the last show. Maybe that was for the best as the band were as tight as you can imagine any band being. All of the new songs were great, and extremely well received. The selection of covers are silly and lighthearted, and the politically commentary was sharp. Billy Joe Armstrong lead the crowd in a chant of “No Trump, No KKK, No Fascist USA” only two songs in during “Bang Bang”. The closing combination of “Ordinary World” and “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” was surreal, even though the real world came back all too fast.

01.22.16 Tool/Primus, 3.19.16 Cage the Elephant, Silversun Pickups, Foals

I’ll call these two shows, having your cake and eating it too. Normally with bands this large, you either settle for a sub-par opener or perhaps more often none at all. These mega-tours broke that norm early in the year. No band I saw this year was a better live band than Cage the Elephant. The antics may have calmed down a bit, but the band sounds all the better for it, and the lightshow is excellent but not distracting. Tool may be the most perfect sounding live band on the planet. The intensity is doubled somehow live, and after the oddity of Primus, Tool somehow levels everything in you spiritually.

 

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SO far next year we have Red Hot Chili Peppers, Roger Waters, the Flaming Lips, Jay and Silent Bob, Colony House, Guns N Roses (yes, you read that right). Hopefully a return to Bonnaroo as well as Beale Street Music Festival. Fingers crossed for a North American Radiohead tour in the Spring, a A Perfect Circle show somewhere within 6 hours of me and whatever new and crazy things I can discover.

Coldplay | 07.21.16

From now on, it may be referred to as The Sauna at Scottrade Center. The amount of sweat filtering through the mostly filled arena could have very well formed a palpable river, if not for the confetti soaking it up. Coldplay returned to St. Louis filled with optimism, fan worship, and enough confetti and hormones flying through the air to write an entire Young Adult book series.

coldplay_confettiRecent divorcee Chris Martin and the band have gone through enough changes in their time to draw in the 45-year-old who came to hear “Yellow” or “The Scientist,” along with the middle-aged female who requested A Rush of Blood to the Head’s “Green Eyes.” They also draw in fans of Beyoncé, who saw the two together at the Super Bowl, or heard her small addition to new song “Hymn for the Weekend.”

The show was a never-ending list of highlights of Martin being beyond charming. The first piece of the show ended with a remixed version of “Paradise”—originally done by Tiësto—that featured an intense amount of lasers on top of an arena’s worth of flashing bracelets. The second part of the set was highlighted by a climax of “Fix You,” leading into an accurate reproduction of David Bowie’s “Heroes,” dedicated to Bowie as well as Prince. “Viva La Vida” served as the loudest singalong of the night, with Martin remarking, “This is what they sound like in St. Louis.”

After a brief break, the band returned to stage that couldn’t have been bigger than 8′ x 8′ at the back of the arena. Martin introduced the band, and then himself as “the former Mr. Gwyneth Paltrow.” Before the band returned to the main stage, Martin delivered “Green Eyes,” a request from Instagram videos fans posted of their favorites, as well as the slinky “God Put a Smile Upon Your Face.” As he sang, Martin took the long way around the floor of the arena, greeting all he could.

coldplay-250The band wrapped things up with three newer songs—which felt a bit odd, but who can argue with “A Sky Full of Stars” while literal star confetti rains down from the sky? Newest single “Up & Up” ended proceedings with its ever-positive insistence that “when you think you’ve had enough, don’t ever give up.”

Coldplay is a band that brings together multiple generations, consistently finds new ways to bring the crowd closer in spite of the size of the venue, and spares no expense on its show. Martin may see himself as Entertainment Weekly fodder at this point, but the band’s fans remain as loyal and willing to dish out large amounts of money to hear their own “Green Eyes” as the fan who traveled hundreds of miles wished for.

Alessia Cara and Foxes opened the show with a similar sound, while being distinct in their personalities. Foxes lead singer Louisa Rose Allen has the current claim to fame as vocalist for Zedd’s hit song “Clarity.” Allen was mostly quiet, seemingly taking in every face in the crowd while dancing around the stage. Cara, on the other hand, spoke often and rocked the stage with a large presence, despite her young age. Cara signed last year with Def Jam Recordings at the age of 18, and has already produced a radio hit in “Here.” | Bruce Matlock

AFI turns up the love, down the dispair in St. Louis (11/4)

Almost as if to tell their Hot Topic loving fanbase to suck it, Davey Havok, the lead singer of AFI, has faded away from the makeup and turned up the screams. On a cool Wednesday night in St. Louis, MO, the band showed up looking more like the early to mid-thirties rockers they are, and much less like the mostly younger crowd they drew in.

The band’s vociferous fanbase, however, was not to be deterred, as they sang along with every word and bounced to many of the band’s songs (both new and old). Though older tracks “6 to 8″ and “Ny-Quil” had the crowd in its greatest frenzy, new songs off Crash Love, the band’s recently released LP, brought a good amount of dancing to the stage and crowd (despite being much weaker sounding tracks in the bands deep catalog). The four-piece’s songs have begun to sound less like dark dreary sorrow and more like the kind of love you’re not supposed to make music about.

Unfortunately, while these newer tracks were certainly fun, they just didn’t pack the immense bass lines of Hunter Burgan or the scorching guitar parts of Jade Puget. Drummer Adam Carson seemed almost pushed to the sidelines in exchange for computerized beats and pop break downs.

Early in the set, tracks off of Sing the Sorrow, the band’s platinum breakout, got everyone in the spirit with a rendition of “Girl’s Not Grey” and hardcore dancer anthem “The Leaving Song, Pt. 2″. Havok emerged looking more like a younger Perry Farrell and less like one of the girls from The Craft (as he has in the past). Overall, however, the crowd’s heavy momentum would push the band through the fairly short set (coming in at just over an hour long).

But, in the end, the real showcase of the night turned out to be openers, Gallows. It was quite a shock to walk into the mostly filled 2,000 person capacity Pageant, and see a band playing with no lead singer in sight (though one could obviously hear someone talking as well as singing). With a little bit of investigation, however, it could be discovered that the lead singer, Englishman Frank Carter, was directly in the middle of a frantic circle pit that encompassed most of the floor.

The band ran through songs featured on 2009’s Grey Britain, and did a suitable job filling the heavy slot AFI normally carries on the bill. The Brit punks sang songs for “the druggies, rehabbing druggies, and straight edge kids,” stating that it didn’t matter except that they were all enjoying themselves in the moment of the night. Carter also spent a fair amount of time promoting himself as a casanova, handing a broken microphone off to a woman he had chosen out of the crowd, as well as helping a specific gentleman by promoting anal sex.

All in all, the show provided many entertaining moments. If you get the chance, check out Gallows and leave the sorrow of old AFI to the albums themselves.

Setlist:
Torch Song
Girl’s Not Grey
The Leaving Song, Pt. 2
Too Shy to Scream
Ever and a Day
Kill Caustic
End Transmission
Ny-Quil
Beautiful Thieves
Dancing Through Sunday
Cold Hands
The Leaving Song
On the Arrow
Death of Seasonz
Medicate
Love Like Winter

Encore:
6 to 8
Miss Murder
Silver and Cold