“Happy. Sucks Live!” Show Review

Photo Credit: @whackkat

In the fall of 2020, Happy. released their sophomore full-length album, titled “Imposter Syndrome.” Many bands have been performing virtual shows during the pandemic, and Happy. jumped on that bandwagon to do a virtual show of their own in support of this new record.

They opened their set with one of their newest tracks, “Dullboy,” an upbeat, carefree track that highlights life on the road, followed by “Hooky,” a more midtempo song that talks about the struggle of trying to maintain a balance between work and home life. 

The band’s set quickly reached its midpoint, and they decided to throw in an older track, “Don’t Overdose And Drive,” a fan favorite from the band’s debut LP, “Cult Classic” that’s quickly become one of their most popular songs. After this, they slowed things down a little bit and played the closing track from “Imposter Syndrome,” “Black Picket Fence.” The song is primarily acoustic, and will certainly have fans waving their cell phone lights in the air when the band performs this in front of an in-person audience one day. 

Before we all knew it, the set reached its conclusion, and the band closed out the show with another song of theirs that’s gained quite a bit of popularity lately – “Liarliar.” The energy and raw emotion found throughout the song grab my attention with every listen, and it’ll undoubtedly be one of the best songs of theirs to hear live.

The title of this show is ironic, because Happy. definitely does not suck live. The band put on a performance that captivated me throughout (and I think the rest of the virtual audience would agree with me on that), and I’m happy (pun definitely intended) that I finally got to see this band live for the first time.

Frank Iero & The Future Violents “Heaven Is A Place, This Is A Place”

Over the course of the past few years, Frank Iero has released quite a lot of solo material under a variety of different monikers and projects. The most recent of those is The Future Violents, and to follow up the project’s 2019 debut LP “Barriers,” Iero has returned with a brand new EP for this project, titled “Heaven Is A Place, This Is A Place.”

The EP kicks off with “Violence,” which opens with a memorable guitar riff before more instrumentals come in to finish out the intro. The first verse begins on a softer note, the darker guitars make the song feel a bit eerier, and the charismatic vocals get to take the reigns leading up to the song’s harder-hitting chorus where the other instruments return. “Sewerwolf” brings dynamic vocal performances in the verses, which are accompanied by the bass and drums leading up to the choruses, which are a lot more aggressive both vocally and instrumentally and easily some of the highlights of this track.

The second half of this release begins with a cover of R.E.M.’s smash hit “Losing My Religion,” and this cover has a much more simplistic beginning led by softer vocals and a ukulele at first. The added vocal harmonies are a nice touch, and the drums help drive the rhythm to make the song much more upbeat when the second first comes in. This song fits Frank’s voice very well, and I feel like it’s one of the stronger tracks on this EP. Another highlight of the EP is its closing track, fittingly titled “Record Ender.” The bass opens the song with a simple riff before more guitars and the drums kick in, and the more laid-back verses consist of softer vocals and instrumentals that build the song up to its much bigger choruses. The added piano was a very nice touch, and the bridge later on contains one of the best vocal performances on the whole EP.

Frank Iero once again showcases his virtuosity as a musician and performer with “Heaven Is A Place, This Is A Place,” an emotive, passion-filled and overall solid EP release from him and The Future Violents.

Review courtesy of Megan Langley | Instagram

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Review of Yungblud’s The Weird Time Of Life Tour .

Over the course of this year, YUNGBLUD has been gearing up for the release of his sophomore album, titled “Weird!,” and in support of its release, he’s been doing a virtual tour. The shows were live streamed at various times, depending on what time zone certain cities were in, and I watched the Chicago livestream on December 3rd.

Royal & The Serpent hyped up the growed before Yungblud took the stage, and the lead singer’s voice instantly intrigued me once the performance began. The band brought a bit more energy and became even more interesting to watch as it went on. The setlist concluded with the song that made me discover this band in the first place – their smash hit, “Overwhelmed,” a song that has recently gone viral on platforms such as TikTok. I really enjoyed that song when I first heard it earlier this year, and it was great to get the chance to hear it being performed in a live setting and hear some other songs from the same band.

A few minutes after Royal & The Serpent’s set ended, YUNGBLUD’s set finally began, and frontman Dominic Harrison brought plenty of charisma from the moment he ran onto the stage to start performing. A lot of his set consisted of some of the more energetic tracks from his new album “Weird!” (“Strawberry Lipstick,” “Ice Cream Man,” “Weird!,” and “Cotton Candy”), but he also spent several minutes slowing things down for a bit. There was so much emotion in his voice while he performed the meaningful and impactful ballad “Mars,” and he broke out the acoustic guitar for “It’s Quiet In Beverly Hills,” before beginning the album opener (and set closer) “Teresa” with piano. All three of those songs really showcased his talent as a vocalist, and overall, his set as a whole showed just how phenomenal of a performer he is.

The Weird Time Of Life tour was a very entertaining show to watch I suggest checking out Royal & The Serpent and Yungblud if you haven’t yet.

Review courtesy of Megan Langley | Instagram

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The Word Alive’s “Searching For Glory” Virtual Show Review.

Since the pandemic began, The Word Alive has put on quite a few virtual shows. I attended one a few months ago where they performed their album “Deceiver” in its entirety in honor of its ten-year anniversary, and the night before Halloween, I attended their “Searching For Glory” virtual concert.

The band opened their set with their standalone single, “Misery,” followed by its counterpart, “Numb Love (Misery II),” a song from their most recent album, “MONOMANIA,” which dropped earlier this year. “Numb Love (Misery II)” was one of quite a few songs that were performed live for the first time during this virtual show. Most of the songs that were performed for the first time were from “Violent Noise” (“War Evermore,” “I Don’t Mind,” and “Stare At The Sun”), but the band also performed another song off of “MONOMANIA” for the first time – “I’m Sorry You’re Sorry Now.” The setlist also consisted of a lot of songs that haven’t appeared in the setlist in a while, such as “Red Clouds,” “Entirety,” “Play The Victim,” and (one of my favorite songs of theirs) “Face To Face.” Towards the end of the set, they played one of their more popular tracks, “Why Am I Like This?,” as well as the track that this show was named after – “Searching For Glory.”

The Word Alive’s live shows have gotten better and better each time I’ve seen them, and overall, the Searching For Glory livestream contained yet another fantastic set from them.

A dollar from every ticket or ticket bundle purchased was donated to Save Our Stages. For more information on the organization and how you can support local music venues in the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, visit www.saveourstages.org.

Review courtesy of Megan Langley | Instagram

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Bearings’ “Hello, it’s you” | Review

Bearings are a band that I’ve known about for quite a few years now, and it’s been great to see what they’ve accomplished as a band over these past few years. Their 2018 debut LP, “Blue In The Dark,” was one of my favorite releases of that year and is a release that I still return to for repeated listens, and – especially after hearing the band’s most recent singles from late 2019 and early 2020 – I couldn’t wait for their sophomore full-length, “Hello It’s You.”

A few of the tracks on “Hello, It’s You” definitely focus on the pop-punk influences within the band’s sound, and this starts right away with the album’s opening track, “Better Yesterday” – an upbeat, happy-sounding track with one of the most memorable choruses on the whole record. While this one definitely showcases these influences, it also hints at the experimentation found on the rest of this record – more on that later. “Sway” and “So Damn Wrong,” two of the singles released prior to the album’s release, are two more faster-paced pop-punk tracks with irresistible composition, from the guitar riffs that open and drive those tracks to the sing-along worthy choruses. The more mid-tempo “Love Me Like You Did” combines a lot of the influences within this band’s sound, and feels very reminiscent of some of the tracks on “Blue In The Dark,” such as “Beautiful Places” or “Aforementioned.” 

While the band is clinging to their pop-punk roots with a few of these tracks, they also changed things up a little bit with some of the others on this album. “I Feel It All” has a darker tone that listeners will hear a few more times throughout the record, and it instantly showcases the more pop-rock leaning sound with some cleaner guitars and the addition of a piano and synths throughout the track, and the huge chorus is where the vocals and harder-hitting drums really stood out and grabbed my attention. “Super Deluxe” is another single that hinted at the experimentation on this record, as it incorporates some indie/alternative and even some slight 80s influences into that pop-rock sound. “Over Now” also leans a bit more towards the indie/alternative and pop-rock side, as it’s driven by upbeat drums and shimmering guitars and synths before additional instrumentals come in, accompanying a captivating vocal performance in the pre-chorus.

The band also included a couple of acoustically driven tracks on this record. “Lovely Lovely” allows the vocals to shine a lot more since the instrumentals are a lot more laid-back, and the darker composition makes it stand out amongst some other acoustic tracks I’ve heard in this genre. “Dreams” also incorporates some darker composition, which fits perfectly on the track, and it mixes in some influences of emo-rap, which is definitely quite a departure from the pop-punk and pop-rock influences heard on most of these tracks, but it works really well.

The album concludes with “Transient Colours,” another track that not only focuses in on the band’s pop-punk influences but puts a new twist on them and proves how the band are experimenting with their sound. The catchy instrumentals bring so much energy to it, especially leading up to and during the chorus, and overall, this makes a solid closing track.

The experimentation on “Hello, It’s You” adds a lot of variety to not only the record but the band’s discography as a whole. The balance between the band’s older and newer influence makes the album an interesting listen and a solid sophomore LP from Bearings.

Review courtesy of Megan Langley | Instagram

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Jet Black Alley Cat Virtual Show | Review

Jet Black Alley Cat presented by Music City Bandwidth

Jet Black Alley Cat is a band that I’ve been a fan of since sometime in 2018, after finding out they were playing a show near me and checking out the record that they released a year prior. The band recently put on a virtual concert, and I finally got to see a performance of theirs for the first time.

The show began with an instrumental intro as the band walked on stage and prepared to perform, and they followed that up with one of their most recent tracks, “Ex Lover Syndrome.” This song is off of their brand new EP “The Black Era,” which came out earlier this year. They also played three more songs off of this EP throughout the rest of their set – “Fight XVIII,” “Rewind,” and an interlude called “Unrealistic Love/Us.” The rest of the setlist consisted of a mixture of songs from both of their albums. They played almost the entirety of their 2017 debut “Part One” (except for the interlude and introductory track), which includes some of my favorite songs of theirs – “Poison,” “She’s Alright,” and the track that got me into their music in the first place, “Roxy.” They also played their debut single “Pretty Girl” early on in their set, as well as a few songs from their 2018 album “Motel” (“Nightlife,” “Foolish,” “Miami Baby,” and another interlude called “Pretty Magic”).

The vocalist put on a captivating performance throughout the entire set (and the vocal harmonies added more emotion and emphasis to the performance), the instrumentalists brought so much energy, and the entire band just brought so much charisma to the stage and were really engaging performers. This was technically my first time watching a live performance of theirs and it did not disappoint.

SETLIST:

1. Intro 2. Ex Lover Syndrome 3. Golden

4. Nightlife 5. Electric Raazors 6. Pretty Girl

7. Unrealistic Love/Us (Interlude) 8. Memphis Blues 9. Fight XVIII

10. Roxy 11. High Class Women 12. Pretty Magic (Interlude)

13. Foolish 14. Miami Baby 15. Rewind

16. She’s Alright 17. Poison

The show was streamed at The End in Nashville, Tennessee, and was hosted by Music City Bandwidth. For more information on their virtual live shows and how you can support The End and other local Nashville venues, go to www.musiccitybandwidth.com.

Review courtesy of Megan Langley | Instagram

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Free Throw Virtual Show | Review

October 25th, 2020 presented by Music City Bandwidth

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, in-person concerts haven’t been going on for the large majority of this year. However, virtual shows are becoming more and more popular, and in recent months, more and more bands and artists have started to put on shows in this particular format. A few weeks ago, a handful of local venues in Nashville, Tennessee – known as “Music City” – began hosting a series of free virtual shows with local bands and musicians, and one of the bands performing was emo quartet Free Throw.

I saw this band perform in Denver, Colorado last September, and over the past year, I’ve become a bigger fan of them, so I decided to watch this virtual performance.

They opened up their set with one of my favorite songs of theirs, “The Corner’s Dilemma.” This is arguably one of the most popular songs off of their latest full-length, last year’s “What’s Past Is Prologue,” and they played a couple of other songs off of this record as well: “You Don’t Say That,” “Tail Whip, Struggle,” and “Cerulean City.” To follow up that release, the band also dropped two new singles earlier this year, and they played one of those two songs – “Motorcycle, Motor?.”

While the band incorporated some of their most recent hits into their setlist, they also played a lot of older material. In addition to playing some of their more popular songs from their first couple of albums (“Tongue Tied,” “Pallet Town,” “Two Beers In,” “Randy, I Am The Liquor,” and “Better Have Burn Heal”), they also played some underrated tracks that haven’t been in their setlists as much (“An Hour Pissed,” “Weight On My Chest,” “Andy And I, Uh,” and “Hope Spot”). Similarly to the last tour I saw them on, their setlist spanned across all three of their LPs, and I liked the fact that they put so much variety into this sixteen-song, hour-long setlist.

One thing that I love about this band’s music is the amount of emotion that they put into it, and I think that in a live setting like this, that raw emotion gets to shine through even more. Musically, I really like the dynamics and intricate instrumentation found within their songs, and those aspects of these tracks really stood out during the performance as well.

I thought that Free Throw put on a really good live show when I saw them for the first time last fall, and I can definitely say the same for this virtual show as well. This performance incorporated everything I love about the band’s music and live shows, and overall, it was an entertaining one to watch.
The show was streamed at The End in Nashville, Tennessee, and was hosted by Music City Bandwidth. For more information on their virtual live shows and how you can support The End and other local Nashville venues, go to www.musiccitybandwidth.com.

Review courtesy of Megan Langley | Instagram

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“Imposter Syndrome” by Happy. | Review

I first discovered Happy. through the singles from their 2018 debut album, “Cult Classic,” and have been an avid fan of the band’s music ever since, so their sophomore album “Imposter Syndrome” quickly became one of my most anticipated releases for 2020, and it did not disappoint.

The album kicks off with the one-two punch of the first two singles – “Sick Is The New Sane” and “A Cure For Wellness,” both of which deliver catchy instrumentals and melodies throughout, and that memorability makes both of them great choices for singles. The third track, “Hooky,” is a bit softer than the two tracks before it (although the vocals and drums get louder as the song builds up to its upbeat chorus, and the instrumentals are harder-hitting during the bridge), and longtime fan favorite “Liarliar” puts a slightly more aggressive twist on the band’s pop-punk sound with punk-influenced instrumentals and raw vocals that perfectly convey the emotion in the lyrics. 

“Dull Boy,” fourth single “Background Noise,” and “After School Special” all follow a very similar pattern as the first couple of tracks, driven by upbeat, hard-hitting instrumentals leading up to some more very memorable choruses. “April Is For Fools” brings a bit more energy to the table, and in addition to being one of the catchiest songs on here, it’s also one of the most powerful lyrically, paying a meaningful tribute to a friend of the band. “June Gloom” is very energetic as well, and showcases the “punk” side of the band’s pop-punk sound through that energetic instrumentation, which delivers some darker composition at the end before the song transitions into the closing track, “Black Picket Fence.” This track is primarily led by an acoustic guitar and softer vocals until hard-hitting instrumentals come in at the end to close out the song and the album on a very strong note, and the tempo changes throughout the song make it even more interesting to listen to.

Review courtesy of Megan Langley | Instagram

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Young Culture’s self titled album review

Artwork Credit: Danny DeRusso

Young Culture is a band that’s been on my radar for quite a few years now, and the release of their third EP “(This Is) Heaven” last year only made me a bigger fan of their music, so I’ve been highly anticipating the release of their self-titled debut full-length.

The album opens with its introductory track, “Bloodthin,” beginning with softer guitars and vocals that bring catchy riffs and melodies early on before the instrumentals get louder and harder-hitting in preparation for the huge chorus that concludes the song as it transitions into the next track, “Compass.” The instrumentals are softer in the verses, letting the vocals show off at first, and the guitars, bass, and drums help build up the first couple of sections to the song’s very catchy chorus. 

That track is one of quite a few that traces back to the band’s pop-rock and alternative roots, and a perfect example of this is “American Idle,” which contains harder-hitting instrumentals that bring so much energy to the song, especially leading up to the anthemic chorus. Another great example of this is the lead single “Holiday In Vegas,” which is driven by catchy guitars and drums leading up to another unforgettable chorus that listeners will likely want to sing along to. “Better Off As Friends” is another pop-rock influenced track filled with catchy composition as well, and it perfectly showcases the transition from the sound of the band’s older material to the sound of this album.

Speaking of which, the band experimented with their sound quite a bit on this record – primarily by incorporating a lot of poppier influences – and quite a few tracks on here showcase that side of the album’s overall sound. The second single, “I’ll Be There,” is led by softer instrumentation, which accompanies the vocals as they provide catchy melodies and a positive message to remind the listeners that no matter what they are going through, things will be okay. “Anywhere I Go, I’m Taking You With Me” sounds kind of similar musically, as it’s also slower and led by softer vocals and instrumentals at first, but the hard-hitting drums help prepare the song for its bigger choruses, especially the final one, which contains a stellar vocal performance. “Fantasy” begins on a softer note as well and brings some very catchy melodies and riffs as it leads up to the chorus, where the shimmering synths aid the guitars and drums that drive the more midtempo rhythm. The fourth and final single “Hailey Beverly 2016” contains soft instrumentals and poppier influences as well, and it’s arguably the most experimental track found on the album. The album concludes with the acoustically driven “Laylo,” and while the vocals are a lot softer for most of the song, they get louder during the bridge, where they put on a strong performance with a lot of emotion.

Young Culture’s self-titled debut shows the experimentation and evolution of the band’s sound through the combination of various influences found within these ten memorable tracks.

Review courtesy of Megan Langley | Instagram

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The Word Alive hosted a 10 yr anniversary of “Deceiver” virtual show | Review

Just over ten years ago, The Word Alive released their debut album, titled “Deceiver.” Last summer, they did a tour where they played this album in full, and recently (just over a year after that tour), the band did a virtual show to commemorate this anniversary one final time.

The band’s setlist consisted of “Deceiver” in its entirety, from the popular singles “Epiphany,” “The Hounds Of Anubis,” “The Wretched,” and “2012,” to some of the more underrated tracks like “Dream Catcher,” “You’re All I See,” “Consider It Mutual,” and “Epiphany,” songs that didn’t appear much in their setlist until the tour they embarked on last summer (which I attended the Denver date of), where they played this album in full. One major difference between the setlist for that tour and the setlist for this virtual show is the fact that this time around, the band also played a couple of the tracks that were on the deluxe edition of this album – “Lights & Stones” and “Apologician,” as well as a cover of Kanye West’s “Heartless.”

There were quite a few things that stood out about the performance in this virtual show. For instance, this record has many impressive guitar solos, and those solos really grabbed my attention during this performance. In addition, this band puts a lot of emotion and passion into not only their music and lyrics but also their live performances, and this performance was no different; I feel like that emotion and passion really shined through during this show.

“Deceiver” is an important album in The Word Alive’s history as a band and this virtual show was a great way to celebrate a decade since its release.

Review courtesy of Megan Langley | Instagram

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