Clad in the sleekest of all black getups down to the polished Prada oxfords, cleanly-pressed Devendra Banhart sashayed on stage and silently announced to that he indeed was a fancy man. The stage was set with a giant tapestry that displayed Devendra’s hand painted ginormous flowers that mirrored the floral design on the cover of Ma, his newest album.
Ma is multilingual and multicolored, splattered with primary colors and songs that salute Carole King and John Lennon. He released three singles as a prelude to the complete album, each one wildly fun and widely different- “Kantori Ongaku.” “Abre Las Manos,” and “Taking a Page.” With each coveted single release though, my understanding of Devendra’s vision grew- this wasn’t about a cohesive musical aesthetic but rather, a cohesive concept. This album is about those who teach us, who impart wisdom, who guide us the world, and it’s about those who bring us into this world. The album is Devendra’s journey into him becoming a Ma. It is his statement of paternity and maternity. Yet, I was hesitant to like Ma. I couldn’t understand this new role Devendra had chosen to play.
I saw Devendra and his band perform in Boulder with my friend Mimi- we stood front and center. The best way I can describe the experience for me was the feeling of being a preschooler. I imagined huge bugs crawling across the stage, and felt as if every audience member was sitting criss-cross applesauce in a semi circle, googly-eyed. Devendra talked cryptically almost, telling us long, extended, made-up stories about socks and concerts he performed fifty years ago. The kick drum was adorned with a huge smiley face, with the Om symbol for its eyes. The flowers on the tapestry seemed to grow- or I seemed to shrink- becoming more like a child.
He began the concert by performing “Is This Nice?”, a soft song loaded with lessons on how to love and cry and create. Give this song a listen for references to John Lennon’s “Beautiful Boy,” if nothing else. Devendra sang maybe 5 or 6 songs off of Ma before dragging a wooden stool and his acoustic guitar on stage and asking the audience what they’d like to hear. Some people ecstatically shouted their fave songs’ title, others widened their eyes and raised their hands waiting for teacher to call on them. I was in the second boat of people, and when called on, I requested Devendra play “Shame,” an old, silly song about boobs and playing in the sun. “Shame” is a song that encapsulated my former image of Devendra Banhart as an artist. It’s a song that makes you want to giggle and dance and let yourself be like your childhood self (the song does come off an EP called “I Feel Just Like a Child” after all). Devendra looked almost shocked at my request, it’s one of his oldest songs. He thanked me for asking to hear it, but said the band didn’t know how to play it. Admittedly I was sad. Unable to hear that song live! A minor heartbreak.
But thinking about it now, “Shame” didn’t fit into that concert. While I always thought of Devendra Banhart as having the fervent feel of a child, I had missed that he had changed. His music contained more teachings than before. It was less spastic. It felt put together and organized, in the way some parental figures do. Caterpillar has become a butterfly! Sprout has become a bean! Devendra has become a Ma!
You can read about Devendra Banhart, look at his tour dates, and access his music on his website, linked here.
I reached out to Julia Shapiro, indie rock singer and songwriter, as she prepares for Chastity Belt’s American Tour for their self titled album released in September. Shapiro is most known for her solo album she recently released as well as her lead vocals and guitar for all-girl garage bands Chastity Belt, Childbirth, and Who is She?
After Chastity Belt cancelled their tour last April due to “health concerns,” Shapiro ventured into introspective songwriting and mixing that resulted in her first solo album titled Perfect Version that captures Shapiro’s discontent with personal imaging and searching for self growth through musings of change and stagnation simultaneously. She then continued working with Chastity Belt and the band later released their self titled album on September 20. Capturing similar sentiments and instrumentals as Shapiro’s Perfect Version, Chastity Belt wanders through foggy terrain of a mental landscape of dissatisfaction while combating it with surreal optimism. I asked Julia some questions about her experiences with creating Perfect Version mostly alone and being back with Chastity Belt after a much needed break.
What have you been up to since the release of Chastity Belt’s album and getting ready for the anticipated U.S. tour in February?
We tour quite a bit over the fall. In October we did a European tour and then in November we played the East Coast. We’re also working on writing some new stuff.
How are you feeling about touring with Chastity Belt again?
I sort of have a love/hate relationship with touring. It can be really fun, but also super exhausting. It’s all about getting the right balance. I’m excited about this upcoming tour because we’re taking our Australian buddies Loose Tooth with us. It’s also our last tour for a while, so that makes it feel a bit more manageable.
What are the things you do to stay centered when you’re struggling on tour or dealing with the frustrations of the recording industry?
Take a walk, call a friend, try to remember to take some alone time. It can be hard to find the time to take care of yourself on tour.
Did your solo album and emotions you unpacked in Perfect Version influence Chastity Belt’s self titled album?
All the lyrics are coming from me, so yeah I suppose so. Some of my solo songs probably could’ve been Chastity Belt songs if the timing had been different — there’s not a huge distinction between my songwriting process when I do solo stuff and when I do stuff with my band, except I was maybe a little bit looser with the way I wrote lyrics for my solo album. It was a little bit more stream of conscious.
How does mixing and composing music alone compare to the process with Chastity Belt?
It’s a lot quicker cause there’s only one person to consult. It’s also hard cause you sort of have to trust yourself more, since you’re the only one making decisions. It’s harder for me to get as excited about songs when I’m by myself — it helps to have my bandmates around to encourage me.
How did you all start Chastity Belt and overcome gender barriers in garage rock? Any advice for college students (specifically, girls) trying to start a band?
Trust yourself, and don’t just blindly follow others advice, especially men who are out of touch haha. Check in with yourself and your bandmates every once in a while to make sure what you’re doing feels good, and ask yourself why you’re doing it.
Do you think Chastity Belt has evolved since you all started making music in college?
Oh definitely. We started out just joking around, we never thought the band would become this serious. We’ve learned a lot along the way. There’s no way to really learn how to make music other than just doing it and learning from your mistakes.
What kinds of music inspired the conception of Chastity Belt? What are you listening to right now?
Growing up I was really into Elliott Smith, and I still think he was an amazing songwriter. I also listened to Fiona Apple and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs in high school. Recently I’ve been really into the new DIIV record. Those guitars sound so good.
Chastity Belt is touring the United States starting early February and will be performing in Denver at the Bluebird Theater on February 23.
DENVER—On a Monday night, the line to get into the brand-spankin’ new Mission Ballroom spanned the length of the 60,000 square-foot building, doubled back on itself twice, and wrapped around the front corner. Fans planning for a sweaty moshpit stood in shorts and t-shirts in crisp 30-degree air, huddling together for warmth. Once the doors opened, however, it was a matter of minutes before the whole line was inside and de-frosting.
Situated in Denver’s River North art district, the Mission Ballroom opened just months ago in August with a 4,000 person capacity and a concert calendar stacked with major national acts.
The venue already operates like a well-oiled machine—several entrances allow for speedy security checks, and once inside the building, conscious efforts to streamline the guest experience are obvious. A muraled archway leads into a second chamber, facing an expansive bar with the usual over-priced beverage choices and the option of a branded cup for cheaper refills. After grabbing a drink, bathrooms are conveniently placed on either side of two hallways leading to the main space—which was packed by 7:30 for an 8 o’clock show.
Unsurprising as the massive turnout for one of today’s most popular boy-bands was the demographic that showed up. Early 20-somethings abounded, but the crowd was dominated by teenagers and high-schoolers in trendy streetwear, tour merch, and borderline rave gear. Sprinkled in the crowd were older fans, too, but they stuck to the fringes as younger groups pushed up toward the pit.
L.A./ Chicago-based duo 100 gecs opened with a performance that seemed to draw mixed feelings from the crowd. Comprised of Laura Les and Dylan Brady, 100 gecs has created a refreshing if overstimulating tribute to the digital age through a fast-paced mashup of more genres than I can define. They’ve blown up in the past few months, but it was clear that many at the show hadn’t hopped on the gec-train – yet.
Their debut album 1000 gecs is a chaotic frenzy of death metal, chiptune, hip-hop, and explosive bass punches, initially striking the unexpecting ear as abrasive and overcomplex. But a close listen to “Money Machine,” for example, reveals creative and endearing lyrics like opening line “you talk a lot of big game for someone with such a small truck.” Sonically, the two have created an impressive, unique reimagination of digital music, weaving an almost tangible essence of internet sub-culture into their unrelenting barrage of angsty autotune and genre-bending production.
Their live show, every bit as turbulent as their online presence, capitalized on the chaos woven into 1000 gecs. The duo jumped around to muddled backing tracks, bathed in green light, while the crowd tried to figure out what they were experiencing; many joined in the moshing, and a few who came expecting Brockhampton’s more straightforward pop-anthems appeared to be caught off guard.
The lighting switched from sickly green to intense red, and for those hesitant to get on board with 100 gecs, slowthai was more their speed.
Born Tyron Frampton, the Northampton, UK rapper has recently risen to the headlines for masterful lyricism and bold political statements. After receiving a Mercury Prize nomination for his 2019 album Nothing Great About Britain, the 25-year-old wielded a model of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decapitated head during his performance at the September award ceremony.
Slowthai’s music is forceful, propulsive, and engaging, covering topics from drugs to politics to his childhood background in riding motocross. And his stage presence followed suit. Fuelled by raw, manic energy and probably a good bit of testosterone, he waved the mic around his crotch and jeered “sometimes in life people will talk shit to you. When they do, you say ‘get the fuck out of my face.’”
Slowthai ripped his shirt off just a couple of songs into his set. Standing still, I could feel the floor shake below me as the whole room opened up into moshpits.
He finished his set with a spirited rendition of “Doorman,” which chronicles a fling with a rich girl and uses allusions to addiction, the royal family, and a children’s show to blast Britain’s wealth disparity.
After slowthai’s explosive set, the crowd had a chance to cool down before their beloved headliner, Brockhampton.
In the early 2010s, now-frontman Kevin Abstract posted on a Kanye West forum that he wanted to start a band. Over 30 people responded, leading to the inception of Alive Since Forever and the subsequent release of the ASF EP in 2013. Over the months that followed, ASF dissolved and reassembled—about one-third of its original size—as Brockhampton. Since their 2014 inception, Brockhampton has released six studio albums, toured the world, and amassed a cult following.
Today, the boyband is comprised of 13 members: Kevin Abstract, Matt Champion, Ciarán “Bearface” McDonald, Dom McLennon, Merlyn Wood, Ashlan Grey, Robert Ontenient, Russell “Joba” Boring, Jabari Manwa, Romil Hemnani, Jon Nunes, Kiko Merley, and Henock “HK” Sileshi.
Each member contributes something unique to the collective, from vocals to production to visual media direction, and the result is a boyband like no other. Their music addresses difficult topics like mental health and sexuality in plain language, often drawing from band members’ personal experiences, leading to music that advocates for acceptance and self-love in a frequently disparaging society.
The Mission Ballroom on Monday was a perfect testament to the spectacle of Brockhampton. Three massive, mirror-paneled crosses towered above the stage and LED panels lit the room from behind the bandmates.
Abstract hit the stage first, opening with his verse on track “ST. PERCY” from most recent album GINGER. The groups other five vocalists, Bearface, Dom McLennon, Merlyn Wood, Joba, and Matt Champion joined Abstract and the crowd went crazy.
Everyone who was hesitant to get down with 100 gecs and slowthai hit the mosh pits in full force when the group jumped into “ZIPPER,” a dynamic, quintessential Brochhampton anthem with opening lyrics “Pretty sure I’m maniacal, but what do I know?” Later in the track, Wood belted: “shoutout to south-central San Marcos, I got addicted to soft shell tacos.”
Mosh pits steadily continued, pausing only for “SUGAR.” The song is a cathartic, bittersweet ode to the love, late-night shenanigans, and drug-induced highs that populated the band’s younger years; it felt fitting, then, that the vibe of the room shifted from hip-hop show to high school dance as the crowd slowed down, swayed back and forth, and shouted along to the lyrics.
The crew closed with “No Halo,” and the end of the show was like coming out of a daze—one I didn’t particularly want to leave behind.
The Brockhampton boys have undeniably infectious energy. Their achievements over the past six years, from the popularity of each studio album to their notoriety for insane live shows, have enabled the rapid growth of a fanbase that knows to bring high expectations. They certainly didn’t disappoint.
DENVER —Just blocks from Coors Field in downtown Denver, the Marquis Theater is a low-key hotspot for local gigs and up-and-coming national acts. Tucker Pillsbury, aka ROLE MODEL, stopped by in November on his inaugural “Far From Perfect” tour.
The night began with Denver grunge-pop outfit Oxeye Daisy. Flamboyant, brightly-colored animal print attire added to an already energetic stage presence. While many garage-rock groups might find their sound muddled at a smaller venue like the Marquis, Oxeye Daisy’s music felt crisp and refreshing in a wonderful, grungy sort of way.
Nineteen-year-old songwriter Mills. was next, gracing the stage with a solo set. His voice, smooth as butter, sounded like a bouncier Lewis Capaldi. A wide-brimmed hat was the cherry-on-top of an outfit seemingly catered to his stop in the southwest. Mills. has created a space for himself in the oversaturated bedroom pop realm, working with ‘Surf Trap’ artist Felly on recent single “Water.” Already ahead of the game at nineteen, Mills. demonstrated a passion for music that seemed to tell the audience “this is just the beginning.”
After plenty of hype from the opening acts, ROLE MODEL burst onstage with a grin that had the whole room cheering even before the music started. The epitome of the teenage heartthrob, ROLE MODEL swept perfectly-disheveled hair away from his eyes as he scanned the room.
At first glance, ROLE MODEL feels like an unexciting archetype—another cigarette-smoking wannabe popstar with skinny jeans and edgy tattoos. But Pillsbury weaves a persona that tells us that he knows exactly what he’s doing, and his music is honest and raw.
His “Far From Perfect” tagline feels like an authentic testament to growing up in Gen Z, and recent songs like “minimal” and “notice me” are anthems of teenage angst and relationship troubles.
I was impressed that the 22-year old bedroom-pop icon, still testing the waters of national touring, brought along a live band—and it made his show fantastic. Even when he slowed down for a sappy, well-received cover of Hannah Montana’s “The Climb,” his energy was infectious. He bounced back and forth across the stage, wandered into the crowd, and never stood still for more than a few seconds.
After “thank you for coming,” the band dipped offstage for a moment before returning in full swing for a lively encore. ROLE MODEL closed the night with “girl in new york,” a smooth, catchy ballad of romantic dissonance.
ROLE MODEL’s stop in Denver was a dreamy, well-polished sneak-peek of what will undoubtedly be an ongoing rise into the mainstream.
Wilco won’t let you down. Over the course of twenty-five years and eleven albums, they’ve established a fervent fanbase. Their live performances have a solid reputation; they’re known to play at least two-hour sets at every show, and they always include some fan favorites along with the songs from whatever album they’re promoting. In fact, they even have a spot on their website to enter song requests for different shows.
When I saw them on Nov. 19, frontman Jeff Tweedy announced that it had been twenty-five years and two days, to be exact, since their first show. When he said this, I was applauding just like everyone else, but I found myself regretting that it was only my first time seeing them. I went to the show on my own, and the two hours I spent alone in the front of the crowd were some of the most stunning and exciting in recent memory. I hope I’ll see them again and again.
Even though I’d read a lot about Wilco’s live shows previously, their performance at the Mission Ballroom blew all of my expectations away. After a decade of rotating through various members, their current lineup has been consistent since 2007’s Sky Blue Sky. Each member was highlighted various times during the show, and most of them had incredible solos throughout the set.
In addition to the most iconic member of the band, Jeff Tweedy, I was especially excited to see guitarist Nels Cline and drummer Glen Kotche. Cline was named “a true guitar polymath” by Rolling Stone magazine on their list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists, and it watching his iconic solo from “Impossible Germany” was a highlight of the show. Kotche was also named to Rolling Stone’s list of the 100 Greatest Drummers, as they named him “a Jim Keltner-John Cage hybrid” for his talent and originality. Around the half-way point of the show, Kotche was dripping in sweat as his drumming drove one song after the next. Although Tweedy, Cline, and Kotche usually get most of the attention, each member put so much energy into the performance; it seemed like they were having just as good of a time as the audience.
Most of the songs they played in Denver came either from their latest album, Ode to Joy, or 2004’s A Ghost is Born. Beyond those two albums, they threw in plenty of crowd favorites, such as “War on War,” “Hummingbird,” “Random Name Generator,” “Forget the Flowers,” and of course, “California Stars.”
Wilco’s sound and lyrics speak to various emotions around living, loving and so much more. As evidenced by the increasing size of venues they play on each subsequent tour, they manage to keep attracting more fans because of their consistently impressive shows and versatile music. They care so deeply about their craft, and it shows. For me, Wilco will always reign supreme.
In his long printed cardigan and sweats, Noname’s opener Elton Aura emanated a calm confidence that set the tone for a night of powerful lyricism. He knew exactly how to excite the young audience as he lit a joint on stage and passed it down (to be immediately intercepted by the stage security) after taking a few puffs himself. Elton concluded his set how he began it, having us repeat after him “Elton! How it do!” and then exited the stage to loud cheers. The audience hummed with energy as we began the wait for the person who had brought us all to the Ogden Theatre this Wednesday night.
As Noname’s band slowly set up their instruments I was struck with how vulnerable they were in that moment. Only feet of distance between us at the front of the crowd and the band members shuffling equipment around the stage, the lights were too bright and the room too quiet to create the invisible barrier of power that usually separates an audience and the performers.
The crowd screamed as the band finally began to play, slipping easily behind their instruments. The lights lowered and the neon sign that emblazoned the back wall lit up pink to read “ROOM 25” (the name of Noname’s new album.) Noname then entered rapping,
“Maybe this the album you listen to in your car when you driving home late at night / Really questioning every god, religion, Kanye, bitches—”
The crowd jumped around singing along. Waiting for the line we all knew was coming and then screaming it in unison with her as she reached it:
“YOU REALLY THOUGHT A BITCH COULDN’T RAP, HUH?”
Noname calmly danced across the stage as she rapped in a loose white dress with a black flower print, black leggings, and red converse. Her long curls were stretched and tucked behind her ears, showing off her round youthful face. She seemed much younger than her 27 years. When she finished “Self” she greeted the cheering audience with smiles and warmth. She made her way through a set of hit after hit from both Room 25 and her 2016 mixtape Telefone. Everyone in the house danced and struggled to keep up with her quick voice. The night was punctuated by a few moments of quickly-relieved tension. Frustrated with a perceived lack of enthusiasm, Noname halted the show early on to teach the audience how to show that we appreciated her performance.
“If I spit a bar that you think is especially hot, give me an “ooooh.”
She started to rap again, her first line was met by a loud “ooooh” from the audience.
She stopped again.
“No, that was nothing,” she said, “that line was nothing. Let’s try again.”
She went back into the song, now seemingly satisfied with the crowd’s responses and continued with the concert with a smile on her face.
There was no lack of enthusiasm when we heard the opening bars of “Diddy Bop.” This song was my favorite part of the concert. That’s not a very revolutionary thing to say—it is her most popular song by far. But for good reason! Besides the catchy beat, the lyrics are beautifully sweet and nostalgic—a love letter to the Chicago of her youth. The crowd of majority high school and college students couldn’t relate to growing up listening to B2K, wearing FUBU, and hitting the diddy bop but it didn’t matter. The song creates a warm feeling of happy wistfulness and reminds me of my childhood despite my memories being so far away from that of Noname’s. I love that Noname doesn’t shy away from the specifics of her experience in an attempt to make her song more relatable. The essence of her song, of being young and being intent on taking advantage of the fleeting chance to be irresponsible, resonated with all of us.
Noname kept her performance short and sweet, exiting the stage after less than an hour. The band packed up their instruments and walked off stage, but the lights stayed down and the audience stayed in place, eyes glued to the stage expectantly. Then, Noname returned to the stage and gave us one last song, sans music. Her roots in slam poetry were especially evident with just her words filling the room. That final encore left the audience reminded of the poetry that exists in hip-hop, especially in Noname’s music.
On April 5th Noname is releasing “Song 32”, a follow up to her track “Song 31” and she is currently finishing her international Room 25 tour.
Nonames powerful first music video: “Blaxploitation – A Film by Noname.”
Lauded for her lyricism and unique voice, Noname is one of the most promising new artists in hip hop. The Chicago rapper released her debut album Room 25 this past September. This release was highly anticipated due to the wide commercial and critical success of her 2016 debut mixtape Telefone which featured hits such as “Diddy Bop” and “Shadow Man.” On Wednesday, March 6th she will be playing at the Ogden Theatre in Denver.
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!
Recently I saw two shows for free, in exchange for reviewing them. The first show I took up on a whim, trying to convince myself that I liked this particular band, Slow Hollows, enough to drive up to Denver for an hour and watch them play to a sparsely filled out audience. Mostly, that was true –– I was looking for an easy way to keep the few scraps of leftover summer spontaneity alive, in an attempt to offset the quickly settling CC-induced feeling of utter boredom.
The second show, though, was Soccer Mommy––someone I’d already loved, with another favourite––Sasami––as the opener.
Both Slow Hollows and Soccer Mommy consist of people that are about my (and probably yours’) age, which, every time I think about it, induces in me a complicated feeling of awe, inadequacy and existential dread. Like a lot of other people nearing the end of their time in college, I have no fucking idea what I’m doing. None of my most beloved pursuits inspire any confidence in their ability to provide for a simple roof and a (to be fair, not-so-simple) meal, and I spend at least a few minutes each day wallowing in this mind void. So, this confrontation with people who are actually doing what they love, is both sweet and ego-destroying, especially when they’re successful.
The success segment looks different for the two bands. Slow Hollows, fronted by Austin Anderson, are on their first national tour; still, Anderson is featured on both Tyler, The Creator’s “Flower Boy” and Frank Ocean’s “Blonde” and “Endless.”
Instrumentally, their set felt tight, if a little generic, soaring to its peak during the trumpet’s occasional features. Lyrically, though, the songs lived in the realm of the cliché, with rhymes like “you/glue” and “leaving/dreaming” sticking so saccharinely they carved cavities in my auditory cortex. I wanted so badly to like them better than I did, so I heard myself using their ages as some sort of excuse or explanation for their relative mediocrity, employing that same “you’ll understand when you’re older” mentality I’ve felt so hurt and patronized by in the past. Mostly, I think, I wanted them to be better, because I projected this position of young-creative-new-and-improved American Dream (i.e. you can do anything if you just believe&work rly hard) onto them. I wanted them to feel ageless, so that I could stop feeling hindered by my age too. Alas, I left that show confused, though a little more energised for having briefly left the bubble.
A few weeks later, I sped through dense, viscous tonkotsu-like fog on the I25 to Globe Hall, a BBQ place-stroke-venue in Denver. I got there just in time to catch the latter half of Sasami’s set, which was wonderful, although sometimes a little less full than I’d expected, probably because of Globe Hall’s funky acoustics.
Then, after a short break, Soccer Mommy came on. Instantly, the room’s attention tunnel-visioned onto the stage. Sophie [Allison, the frontwoman]’s voice sounded so clear and perfect that I kept having to ask my friends if it was autotuned. Each song took me through a new story, poignantly communicated in each sound and lyric. The songs felt self-aware; they seemed to know exactly what they were trying to say, and the most evocative way to say it.
The fact that Allison and her bandmates are all college-aged did not present itself to me, until she told the audience that it was her bandmate, Graeme’s, 22nd birthday. The lyrical content was only aware of its performer’s age within references to school. The artistry of each piece, though, was outside of the youth that’s synonymous with inexperience. Allison’s work is as intricate, grounded and steeped in craft as any of those artists whose age we don’t even seem to know.
She towers above the “you’ll understand when you’re older” mentality, showing us (or at the very least, me) that we can, and do, understand “it” now, even if the “it” looks differently today. Her success barely inspires any jealousy; instead, I drive home from the show inspired, bursting with energy, grinning, happy to be my age again.