Concert Review: FIDLAR at Gothic Theater 10/26

When I tell people FIDLAR is one of my favorite bands, they look shocked. The thought of a small basic-looking girl liking punk rock blows minds. But FIDLAR isn’t just like any punk rock band. Their tongue-in-cheek lyrics over heavy guitar riffs seems to be a product of their west coast skater lifestyle and embodies their acronym: “Fuck It Dog Life’s A Risk.” FIDLAR’s carefree but angsty attitude captures youth sentiment in a palatable way while touching on systemic issues that are reminiscent of early punk music.

I saw FIDLAR in D.C. after their album “Too” came out during my sophomore year of high school. My first punk concert was one of confusion, excitement, and fear. This can be said for all my girl friends that I have dragged into FIDLAR’s mosh pits. The mosh pit can be a dangerous place, especially for small girls. But honestly, if you aren’t moshing at a punk concert what the fuck are you doing.

The mosh pit is a place where people come to express themselves and confront emotional experiences as a community. Although I interpret FIDLAR’s lyrics as mostly sarcastic, they lay down some hard facts about social and institutional issues in America as well as reflect on personal struggles with relationships and drug abuse. These insights are usually buried in satirism, but never seem to be lost on the crowd. FIDLAR’s upbeat guitar solos and screaming chorus remind me that I don’t have to be alone with my problems. I’ve never felt so supported in a crowd of strangers than I have at a punk concert.

As soon as I saw that FIDLAR was on tour, I immediately raced to my computer to get a ticket and, with some bribing, took my friend’s truck down to the Gothic Theater in Denver with two other girls. We made our way to the front as the opening band Side Eyes jumped on. The pit immediately erupted into a sea of smashing shirtless bodies and flailing arms in response to the lead singers siren-like screeching. My friends and I looked at each other with a what-the-fuck-did-we-just-get-ourselves-into look as we watched a group of older kids hardcore moshing with fake blood coming out of their eyes and ears. This was just an opener. The energy mellowed out when the next opener, Dilly Dally, came on with an eerie ambience in the lead singer’s voice and bass guitar chords.The pit was still very much alive, but my guard was lowered as I soaked in the wailing chords and the most quintessentially girl punk screams ever.

The crowd started closing in as people on stage started tuning the arsenal of guitars against the pile of old TV’s on the stage. My friends and I agreed that we would try to keep our spot next to the metal gate at the base of the stage and mosh only if we were really into the song. This agreement was shortly broken after the guitar chords for “Alcohol’ emerged from the back of the stage. I felt the force of the entire crowd pressing on my back when the mosh pit began to push towards the front as Zac, Max, Brandon, and Elvis casually strutted onto stage. There was no introduction, just a small smirk from Zac, then an absolute explosion from the mosh pit as he began to sing FIDLAR’s hit song “No Waves.” I decided to abandon my post and join my people. I have never been in a mosh pit so chaotic; about 40 or 50 kids pushing and shoving each other so forcefully that it was common that groups of people would have to be picked up off the ground. I couldn’t tell if I finally found a crowd of true punk enthusiasts or a group of belligerently drunk men who needed to expel a lot of pent-up testosterone. Either way, I embraced FIDLAR’s acronym and assumed an athletic stance before throwing myself into the pit.  

Mosh pits are generally a very male-dominated space because of the physical dangers as well as their stigma. It felt very empowering to occupy this space with other girls and completely own it together. I befriended a few girls when I was moshing who were also struggling with the combative nature of the pit. It seemed like the band picked up on this issue because right after I was forcibly separated from my friends, Zac grabbed the mic. He told the pit to create an aisle down the middle and then announced that the space created was for a girls-only mosh pit. I weaved through the crowd of skyscraper-sized men and jumped into our pit. We screamed and laughed and moshed the shit out of “5-9.” I gained so much respect for the people around me that night. I don’t want to admit how many times someone pulled me out of an uncomfortable place in a mosh pit or caught me when I was about to fall, but I would like to say how much compassion I felt by FIDLAR and their fans. Near the end of the show, I told a girl I met that I wanted to crowd surf FIDLAR, and next thing I know, her boyfriend had rallied a group of people to pick me up and sent me across the crowd. The gratitude I felt for that couple I met and the FIDLAR community while crowd surfing was indescribable.

The pit never lost steam, and continued to mosh even after FIDLAR ended their set. After a lot of screaming and pushing, FIDLAR came back on for an encore to perform “Blackout Stout” and then absolutely killed their final song. Zac ordered the pit to sit down on the floor so we were forced to sit on top of each other and quietly waited as the looping guitar riff introduction for “Cocaine” teased us. The pit burst to life as soon as Zac screamed the first lines: “you take Sally and I’ll take Sue/There ain’t no difference between the two.” Everyone emptied the rest of their emotions and energy in the pit with that song. I left the concert feeling like a weight had been lifted off my soul, but redistributed onto all my bruised limbs. Honestly, it’s worth the trade-off.

FIDLAR continues to be one of my favorite punk rock bands. Their emphasis on gender inclusivity aligns with the ideology of punk rock. I encourage everyone -especially women- to go to a punk concert and join its wonderful community of strangers at least once in life. The people that I have met in the pit become less like strangers and more like friends after sharing even a moment of moshing together. FIDLAR recently announced that their third studio album “Almost Free” will be released January 25. No tour dates or locations have been announced yet, but I am already looking forward to seeing them and the FIDLAR community again!

On Top of the World: Louisville, White Reaper, and I

My old Kentucky home is the land of many of the world’s superlatives. The world’s greatest horse racing, the world’s best bourbon, the world’s most influential boxer, the world’s largest baseball bat, and also the World’s Best American Band, White Reaper. Both White Reaper and I hail from the same city, Louisville, unknowingly frequenting the same restaurants and music venues for years before I discovered them. They put out their first EP in 2014, three years before I would first register hearing their music, and four before I would meet them and grow to be a huge fan. I must admit that I have not been a fan of White Reaper’s for long, but nonetheless, their music has grown to become a significant part of my life.

The author’s signed White Reaper album. Image Credit: Jane Harris.

My relationship with White Reaper’s music started on Record Store Day a year ago, when I was lucky enough to stumble upon a DJ set by the Wilkerson brothers, twins Sam and Nick, who make up the rhythmic section of the band. They play bass and drums, respectively and amazingly. That day I also met Tony Esposito, lead vocals and guitar, and Ryan Hater, who rocks harder than any other keyboard player I’ve seen live. (This experience left out Hunter Thompson, an incredibly talented guitarist who ironically has the same name as a Louisville icon though he is the only band member who is not from Louisville). At the record store I remember picking up one of their records from the “W” artist section, looking at the picture of the band on the sleeve, holding the record up to my face right next to the band members in real life, and doing a double-take. Within five minutes the record was purchased, I already had their signatures, and was engaged in conversation with the boys. From multiple interactions with the band members it is with ease and certainty that I can say they are some of the most genuine guys I’ve met in the music scene today. I acknowledge my bias as a fellow Louisvillian, but their onstage charm translates offstage as well. Their fan base is so dedicated partly because of how personable they are. They’re cool guys making cool music.

(from left) Ryan Hater, Tony Esposito, Nick Wilkerson, and Hunter Thompson rocking out at Louisville’s Forecastle Festival 2018. Image Credit: Jane Harris.

“The World’s Best…” is a title I would readily give them if they hadn’t already given it to themselves. Their second studio album, The World’s Best American Band, cements their self-fulfilling prophecy as one of the new, upcoming “greats” with tracks that rock, and don’t stop. Listening to the album I was immediately seduced by “Judy French,” as all other listeners are. Soon my favorite off their sophomore album became “Daises,” and before I had exhausted The World’s Best… I was already deep into their earlier tracks: first album “White Reaper Does It Again” (funny, right?) and self-titled EP. Fast forward a few weeks from the day I met them and all my “Spotify heavy rotation” tracks belonged to White Reaper—some personal favorites are still “Alone Tonight,” “I Don’t Think She Cares,” and “Tell Me.” Go a couple more weeks into the future and I’m getting whiplash in the front row at their concert.

Ryan Hater, Tony Esposito, Sam Wilkerson, and I at Forecastle Festival 2018. Image Credit: Jane Harris.

Headbanging and moshing to White Reaper’s music is easy with their catchy guitar riffs, strong rhythm, and especially Esposito’s piercing and unique vocals. You can listen to any White Reaper track once and then be able to pick out Esposito’s voice again, that’s how unique and profound in a strange, ambiguous way he sounds. In combination with their recognizable sound, their stage-presence as some sort of self-proclaimed rock gods also entices and draws in a dedicated audience and fan base. Their energy is pure and contagious. They easily bring everyone to their feet—with songs like “The Stack” it’s impossible not to dance. In this song Esposito sings the truth, “If you make the girls dance, the boys will dance with them,” but White Reaper doesn’t need to make people move because the audience is already dancing. The songs on White Reaper Does It Again, though the production can sound fuzzy at times (something I think adds to the character of some of the more eccentric tracks, like “Friday the 13th”), end as strong as they start. Listening all the way from their first EP to The World’s Best… it’s fun to watch the band grow, gain members, and develop a sound that has potential to fluctuate, develop, and continue to excite. Saying I’m excited to hear new tracks from them in the future would be an understatement—their music makes me feel at home.

(from left) Nick Wilkerson, Hunter Thompson, and Sam Wilkerson during their Forecastle set. Image Credit: Jane Harris.

Strangely enough, of all the things to be proud of about my city and state, White Reaper is at the top of my list. I’ll never forget the first time I saw them live in Louisville—how genuinely proud I was to be a fan of their music, proud of the great Louisville music scene they’re helping to develop, and proud of them being great, compassionate people. From my new, small room in Colorado Springs, listening to White Reaper takes me back to Kentucky in the fall. While blasting White Reaper I’m driving fast around Louisville at night, hanging out with my friends, and feeling like I’m strong, opinionated, and on top of the world.


You can listen to White Reaper’s discography on this handy playlist I’ve made of all their songs on Spotify:

Concert Review: Courtney Barnett at The Ogden Theater on 9/28

Taken by Eric de Redelijkheid on Flikr

This past Saturday, I was lucky enough to see the first night of Courtney Barnett’s North American tour promoting her most recent album, Tell Me How You Really Feel, released this May. My sister and I navigated our way through a crowd of IPA-drinking and Blundstone-wearing 30-something-year-old fans and eventually made our way to the front of Denver’s Ogden Theater. I’ve been lucky enough to see Courtney twice before – once with Kurt Vile promoting their joint album Lotta Sea Lice at Nashville’s historic Ryman Auditorium, and another time at Shaky Knees Festival in Atlanta – but this was the most intimate venue I’d seen her play.

From the moment she stepped on the stage, no one could take their eyes off of her. I don’t play guitar myself, so I’m not typically apt at telling a guitar virtuoso apart from a player who’s just okay, but after watching Courtney’s intricate fretting all over the guitar neck, I realized what exceptional talent she had. She’s been praised countless times for her lyricism, but her abilities on the guitar are seriously underrated.

If you’re already familiar with Courtney Barnett, you’d know that she’s been lauded for her witty attention to detail and ability to create memorable songs out of mundane events ever since she started making music in 2014. For instance, some of her best-known songs are about an asthma attack, house hunting, and eating ramen noodles. However, some of her songs are a much more personal and vulnerable account of life through her eyes. The audience lost it when she sung one of her most well-known songs, “Pedestrian at Best,” and everyone yelled with her as she screamed “Put me on a pedestal and I’ll only disappoint you! / Tell me I’m exceptional, I promise to exploit you!” Her self-deprecating remark is an ironic statement about not wanting to be fame that inevitably comes along with being a musical phenomenon.

Similarly, one of the songs on her new album is titled “Crippling Self-Doubt and a General Lack of Confidence” and here she is also especially critical about herself (“I never feel as stupid as when I’m around you / And indecision rots / Like a bag of last week’s meat”). However, she still comes across as uninhibited – never caring how her audience will receive her perceived self-consciousness. Even though that songs ends with her claiming “I don’t know, I don’t know anything,” and repeats it literally twelve times, it’s obvious that one thing she does know is herself.

At one point during the show, she introduced one of her older songs “Are You Looking After Yourself?” by telling us she wrote it after a long phone call with her parents. The song begins with a line that was spoken by her parents: “Are you working / hard my darling? / We’re so worried,” but she counters their criticism with: “I don’t want to no 9 to 5 / Telling me that I’m alive.” Later in the song, her parents suggest “You should start some / sort of trust fund / just in case you fail.” I imagine that being a musician, especially one who writes so personally like Courtney does, can be terrifying since she has to constantly rely on others’ validation and positive reception in order to keep going. However, Courtney replies with a sarcastic response and sings “I don’t know what I was thinking / I should get a job… / should get married / have some babies / watch the evening news.” The thought that Courtney, a woman of such obvious talent, would quit making art and instead get a job is ridiculous.

Her humble attitude helps explain why 1,600 of us in the sold-out Ogden Theater were so entranced by Courtney for her entire two-hour long set; she’s so devoted to her work and in love with what she is doing that we couldn’t help but marvel at all of the energy she put in to every note and every word. Thanks, Courtney, for blowing us all away once again, and I hope this won’t be the last time I see you!

Concert Preview: Jungle at the Black Sheep 9/28

jungle
Credits: BBC Radio 6 Music/ prvnce.com
Jungle, an English modern soul musical collective was formed by Tom McFarland and Josh Lloyd-Watson in London back in 2013. McFarland and Lloyd-Watson had known each other since the age of nine, where they lived as neighbors in Shepherds Bush, London. After playing in various musical groups throughout their secondary education, the pair formed Jungle. The pair became known as J and T, after advocating for a concentration on the aesthetic of their sound, focusing on art and video, instead of their own personal identity taking stage.  

Since its formation, and after their first year spent playing with other artists of a variety of disciplines, Jungle has become a seven-piece band. J and T resisted the route of re-producing their music and performing on laptops, and instead rendered their music into authentic, live performance. J and T understand music to be a collective and collaborative experience, and that energy is absolutely palpable when they perform. 

Their first album, “Jungle,” was released in 2014, and since they have released various singles, and just recently came out with a new album, “For Ever,” on September 14th of this year. The music collective has travelled across the world to perform, and will be visiting Colorado Springs for the first time next Friday, September 28th, 2018.  

Jungle’s style is often characterized as “midtempo 1970s funk,” with sounds such as tropical percussion, wildlife noise, falsetto yelps, and psychedelic waves. Whether it be the inclusive nature of the band, or perhaps the diversity of their sound, Jungle offers a performance of absolute energy.  

Be sure to check out CC’s Concerts and Shows Facebook group for carpool opportunities to the show. We hope to see you there. 

 LISTEN: “Busy Earnin’” 

Plugged In Collaboration with 91.5 KRCC

We’ve recently started a new limited-run collaboration with KRCC about music we’re listening to. The posts will be shared on both the SoCC and KRCC websites; check out the first post below.

Plugged In is a limited-run web series for 91.5 KRCC Music in which contributors from Colorado College’s student radio station, The SOCC, tip us off to great new releases, under-the-radar favorites, and other music they can’t live without. 

Hey 91.5 KRCC listeners & readers. I’m Paulina Ukrainets, the online content manager for The Sounds of Colorado College, CC’s radio station and music blog. I’m also an intern with 91.5 KRCC’s Air Check. Below are some songs I’ve been listening to lately (though they’re not necessarily new), and a little bit about why I like them.

Saba ft. Chance the Rapper –– LOGOUT

Usually I’m not a big fan of the currently super-prevalent “trap” style of hip-hop production, but this song is different in its beautiful amalgamation of piano, sax, synth and the standard trap percussion beat. When I listen to most music (but especially to hip-hop) my attention instantly gravitates to the lyrics, and here they don’t disappoint: “look at how much fun I’m havin’/ain’t no beauty in the absence of broadcastin’ to your followers” are just two of Saba’s lines from the ridiculously catchy chorus. This is a hip-hop anthem for the age of Instagram––the age in which young, up-and-coming artists like Saba can get the recognition they clearly deserve, but at the price of the complete destruction of their privacy in the name of online presence/promotion. As my professor Idris Goodwin would say, LOGOUT is pure bars.

 

Frankie Cosmos –– Ur Up

This song is only 36 seconds long, so I kinda feel like I’m cheating with this one, but it’s full to the brim with the kind of sincerity Frankie Cosmos fans (myself included) adore her for. The lyrics and title of this song refer to a meme-esque phrase that gets used by teenagers as a sort of shorthand booty call… or so I’m told. Here, Greta (FC’s lyricist/frontwoman) mirrors the shorthand/meme-culture form of the phrase in the song’s brevity, but totally inverts the concept the phrase refers to. It rings honest and sweet, especially in the studio outtake at the beginning. I’m super grateful for this little Frankie Cosmos-shaped window into their creative process.

 

Honour Council –– Olingo

Honour Council are a Colorado Springs band that I’ve been a fan of since their formation, but this is the first recorded song they’ve shared with the world; I’m so excited to expose people to them! I find it hard to pin their sound down to a single word or genre––some people say they fit into the shoegaze realm, but I say you should just listen. If you like what you hear, come see them play a donation-based Cloud Factory show on May 5that local house venue, The Bump! They’re supporting Dead Sullivan, a really awesome indie band from Texas. Find more details of the event here.

Taylor McFerrin –– Degrees of Light

If this artist’s name sounds familiar, it’s because he’s the son of Bobby McFerrin (if you’re bad with names, he’s the “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” guy). Taylor’s music couldn’t be more different from his father’s––this song is totally instrumental, relying heavily on synths and electronic percussion that take you on a journey through what does feel like thousands of different degrees of light. Listen to this song, and you’ll hear how the sounds shimmer and reflect off each other. It’s the most multi-sensory listening experience I’ve had in a while.

CONCERT PREVIEW: Keys N Krates @ Boulder Theater, February 9

Welcome back to school and reality, everyone! With the new year comes a host of dope concerts. The SOCC will be posting previews of shows we think are worth checking out. If you’re looking to enjoy a good night off campus, you can catch Keys N Krates with NYC’s DJ Jubilee at the Boulder Theater on Friday, February 9th.

Toronto’s Keys N Krates have established themselves as one of the biggest names in electronic music, with their song “Dum Dee Dum” achieving RIAA gold status without radio airplay. Party-makers in their own right, KNK also throw an annual festival in their hometown Toronto booking acts like Virgil Abloh, River Tiber, AraabMuzik, and Lunice. More recently, they released “Glitter” ft. Ambré which saw them break the conventions of the dance world and explore R&B. On their forthcoming album Cura they continue to explore sounds outside of the electronic world, a genre that they have led for several years.

One of the inconvenient realities of living in Colorado Springs is that most big names tend to pass us by. While it’s not too hard to get up to Denver or Boulder for a show, most tend to fall on weeknights. Luckily, the Keys N Krates show is on a Friday night, so you don’t even have to worry about making it to class the next morning.

You can buy tickets online here. Check out their single “Glitter” below!

Alone Again (Naturally)

creds to Mitski for screenshot

It’s Wednesday of 3rd week. I’m on the I-25, crawling through rush hour traffic foggily towards Denver. The Cranberries ask me over the stereo if I have to let it linger. A little anxious pit in my stomach starts to open again; I push it down. My day, up to this point, has been a sort of tug-of-war between feeling really excited about the Tyler, The Creator show I’m currently on the way to see and the weird, soul-sucking feeling people’s responses have prompted in me when I told them I was going to the show alone.

     The first show I went to alone was an Alex G show in the summer after my senior year of high school. None of my friends had really started to like him yet, but I’d been listening to DSU non-stop since it came out, so I told myself I’d go. “I’m a big girl now,” I thought, “I can go to shows alone.”
     The hour-long train ride there consisted of me pushing down anxiety-nausea with big gulps of water. I would spend time obsessively thinking about what the people at the show might think when they see me alone. Then I’d tell myself that nobody would be paying enough attention to anybody else to notice that kinda thing. Then I’d get sad. You get the picture.
     That show was probably one of the best I’ve seen to date, slightly ruined by the fact that this girl (another alone-attender, though she had a “Press” badge to deflect the blame onto) would not stop following me around until my subway station on the way home. A part from her mild clinginess, there was nothing wrong with this girl––if anything, she seemed pretty sweet. Having experienced a small part of the show alone, though, I didn’t wanna turn back. Being in this small, 100-year-old basement, listening to Alex play guitar, his face covered in cake (don’t ask), felt really intimate. I wasn’t distracted; or, rather, nobody was distracting me. I was completely there, and it was really fucking wonderful. (Until Lindsay tapped me on the shoulder and asked what my name was. Bitch.)
     Go to shows alone! Or, rather, don’t let a lack of company stop you from seeing any bands live. CC is a more socially-focused environment than most, but even here, shows don’t exist for you to be seen. Shows exist for you to see, listen and pay attention to who’s on stage.
     The Tyler show was amazing. I took the empty spots by the stairs of the Ogden, left behind by a crowd of five k-holing teenagers that were being escorted out by the cops, as I walked in. For the next hour and a half, I just listened. It was the best night I’d had in a long time (maybe I really am a big girl now).

4th Week Playlist

Don’t let fourth week murder your sense of adequacy; groove on down with your confusion with Nelson Kies’ playlist of beautiful abstraction beats.

Song of the Week: Daddy issues – “Dog Years”

 

Dog Years is a “heart-shaped box”-esque slowburner. Its lyrics steam with hate. Dog Years reveals the vitriolic aftermath of a relationship. In its soul-crushing relentlessness, the song captures how the subject of the song meticulously ruined life’s simple joys. Jenna Moynihan begins by singing, “If you could do anything / You would ruin the best things / You would spoil the ending / You’d dissolve cotton candy.” Later on she seems to find sadistic pleasure from imagining the death of whomever she is singing about. The pain and disgust are palpable.

SONG OF THE WEEK: The Gap Band – “Burn Rubber On Me (Why You Wanna Hurt Me)”

An R&B and funk band from the 70s and 80s, The Gap Band is sure to make you groove. I heard this song “Burn Rubber On Me (Why You Wanna Hurt Me)” while watching an episode of one of my favorite shows, Insecure. From its motorcycle-noise intro to its funky synth melodies, this song’s a jam! One day, I hope to have a dance party like the one in this music video.

Image credit: billboard.com