The Phoenix Within Takes on Blue Ridge Rock Festival 2021

A quick pit-stop while on vacation, our photographer Chyenne Conner, stopped by the annual Blue Ridge Rock Festival to cover The Phoenix Within’s set. You can read a bit more about the band below.

The Phoenix Within is a rock project based out of Queens, NY. The band was founded in 2013 and fronted by its founder singer-songwriter, guitarist and author Omar Feliciano. The Phoenix Within is backed by bassist Nicholas Narlis, guitarist John Narlis and drummer James Narlis. The bands discography is extensive and a direct reflection of their never ending dedication and output. Four of their most recent singles South Ozone, Copycat, Daddy Issues and Hypothetical each showcase very different and distinct musical elements and unique lyrical topics. Consisting of songs that range from autobiographical origins; to telling/advising artist that they need to embrace originality and authenticity in their own musical/lyrical work; to self-evaluation and diagnosing; to tales of the relentless heart and its ability to love.

A Photographer’s Return to the Local Pennsylvania Music Scene

A year and a half off of work will put a dent in anyone’s career. In my case, my career has never been my 9-5 job, it was always my work done in the music scene. I felt as if 2018-2019 was a nonstop time, show after show, album after album. When the world slammed on the breaks, I didn’t know what to do with myself. I sat at home, my camera in its case collecting dust. How does a concert photographer do her job with no concert? It was a horrible 19 months for me, my love for art crashed and burned, and I didn’t know how I’d be able to get back into it. Luckily, on July 11th, everything fell right back into place.

This show was a local event, not a huge tour with flashing lights and pyrotechnics. But it was exactly what I needed. Heavy music, friends, and a damn good location to take some of my favorite photos to this day.

Two of these bands I didn’t know very well, Elsewhere and Escape Artist. Their live sets blew me away, full of passion and an eagerness to get back. I wish I could recite their pre-show speeches word for word, but the tears in everyone’s eye told me what I needed to know. I was happy to take photos, banging my head to the infectious music as I always do. While not knowing these bands before that day, I made new friends and connections that I already plan on working with in the future.

Elsewhere

Escape Artist

Toothless

Toothless and Renovare are bands that have been in my life a long time, and been my friends even longer. Every time I see them, I’m reminded of the overwhelming support I have in the scene. Toothless has been allowing me to photograph them since I was in middle school, and have always been supportive of my growth. Renovare is the same way, and have always been a band that has supported me growth and fought for me to be respected as an artist. Their music drew me in first, Toothless having the chaotic, heavy sound that makes you want to get moving. Renovare has intricate riffs and long, drawn out songs to show the sheer talent of everyone in the band. The lead singer, one of my closest friends, shows her vocal talent in melodic, ethereal performances, mixed with grit and anger from her lyrics. 

Renovare

This show was less about seeing my favorite bands, and more about seeing those who gave me my photography career. There were tears, laughter, hugs, and moshpits. It was the most beautiful welcome back I could have wanted. And I cannot wait for the scene to come back swinging.

Photos and review courtesy of Emily Sulkowski

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8/16/21 | Beartooth | The Below Tour | Photos + Review

Beartooth Dominates Anaheim With A Sold Out Show on The Below Tour

Venue: House of Blues Anaheim in Anaheim, CA on 8/16/21

As music fans, we all have bands that we want to see. But then something seems to always come up. Whether it be scheduling issues or another show overlapping, that’s always been my issue when it’s come to seeing or photographing Beartooth. I’ve been listening to their music since their debut in 2013, but this show was my first time actually seeing or photographing them. To say it was amazing would be an understatement, and I was so glad to finally see and photograph Wage War and Dragged Under as well. California hasn’t been getting as many big tours since we reopened live venues post-pandemic. So to have a show of this caliber come through was absolutely amazing.

First up on tour was Dragged Under from Seattle, Washington. I’d best describe Dragged Under’s sound as being that perfect blend of metalcore and hardcore punk. Their sound is right up the same vein as bands like Stick To Your Guns, Beartooth, and Stray From The Path, which are all among some of my favorite bands of all time. The band started off their set with the songs “Instability” and “The Real You”, which really showcased vocalist Anthony Cappocchi’s vocal prowess and control over the stage and crowd. Bassist Hans Hessburg was an animal on stage, headbanging and jumping around the stage like crazy. The band then went on to play their newest single, “Brainwash Broadcast”, which has received critical acclaim and has garnered a lot of views, streams, and radio play on SiriusXM Octane. Ryan “Fluff” Bruce shines on this song with his’ leads and hooks, which translate well live as well. Sean Rosario on rhythm guitar adds that dynamic sound that pushes the band over the edge. Kalan Anderson is the final piece to the puzzle, slamming the hell out of those drums and keeps the beat on time. The band played 7 songs, 6 of which came from their debut album “The World Is In Your Way”. I was thoroughly impressed with their set overall, and I’m glad they could play a good number of songs as the opener. I cannot wait to see these guys shine on a stage again soon!

SETLIST

  1. Instability
  2. The Real You
  3. Brainwash Broadcast
  4. Chelsea
  5. The Hardest Drug
  6. Just Like Me
  7. Hypocondria

Up next was Wage War from Ocala, Florida. Wage War has been a band that has always been on my bucket list and has always been on my radar, but I never got the chance to see. For my first time seeing them, I was blown away. The first thing you will notice about Wage War is how much of a presence lead vocalist Briton Bond has on stage. He absolutely commands that stage and screams the hell out of those words. The band played a great mix of songs, 3 of which came from their 2019 album “Pressure”, 3 from their 2017 album “Deadweight”, 2 from their 2015 album “Blueprints”, their newest single “High Horse”, and an unreleased track “Teeth”, presumably coming from their upcoming fourth album. One of my favorite things about Wage War’s sound is the clean vocals provided by Cody Quistad, who also plays rhythm guitar in the band. Those melodic choruses on songs like “Who I Am”, “Low”, and “Alive” are what really hooked me on Wage War, and I was so happy to hear these songs live. Lead guitarist Seth Blake really adds some unique hooks to the band’s sound. I consistently find myself humming some of those down-tuned guitar hooks from their songs in my head, and they sounded even better live! Adding to those lower tones, Chris Gaylord hits deep with those groovy bass tones that keep those heads banging. Finalizing their lineup is Stephen Kluesener, who adds some dynamic beats and rhythm that really grounds the band. I’m so stoked I was finally able to see Wage War, and I cannot wait to see and photograph them again soon!

SETLIST

  1. Stitch
  2. Who I Am
  3. Prison
  4. High Horse
  5. Alive
  6. The River
  7. Don’t Let Me Fade Away
  8. Teeth
  9. Gravity
  10. Low

Finally, Beartooth came to the stage from Columbus, Ohio. Beartooth has a sound that has always been unique. They’re riff-heavy metalcore with more of a hardcore punk style edge mixed in. But what sets them apart from many bands are their melodic choruses and hooks that really drive home with audiences. For their fourth record entitled “Below”, the band set out to really go back to their roots, with an aggressive yet diverse showing of music. Beartooth opened the show with the first track off the album, titled “Below”. This aggressive start to the album and set truly set the stage for the show they were about to put on. As vocalist Caleb Shomo ran out stage and screamed out those opening lines of the song, it was chaos from then on. The band brought an extensive lighting setup and LED light panel behind them, which lit up lyrics to songs and showed dynamic visuals for each song. Caleb really honed in on his’ musicianship on this record, taking elements from each of the three previous records while also trying out some new styles as well. Bassist Oshie Bichar was on fire, constantly moving about on stage and helping with the sing-along sections. Guitarists Zach Huston and Will Deely shredded on their parts and added a lot to the band’s sound. Connor Dennis is a superb drummer and was incredibly energetic throughout the entire set. The band played a whopping 17-song set: 8 from 2021’s “Below”, 4 from 2014’s “Aggressive”, 3 from 2018’s “Disease”, and 2 from 2016’s “Aggressive”. With a wide array of songs from both the new album and the rest of the discography, Beartooth made sure to make this headlining set something new fans and old would love. I am so glad I could finally see and photograph them, and I cannot wait to do so again soon.

SETLIST:

  1. Below
  2. Devastation
  3. Hated
  4. Sick of Me
  5. Fed Up
  6. Dominate
  7. The Lines
  8. Beaten In Lips
  9. Body Bag
  10. Hell of It
  11. Skin
  12. You Never Know
  13. Bad Listener
  14. Disease
  15. In Between

ENCORE

16. The Past Is Dead

17. The Last Riff

All in all, The Below tour was an absolute dream come true. Beartooth has been a huge bucket list band for me to see for quite some time, so seeing and photographing them was a dream come true. A massive shoutout to the fantastic crew and the other bands Wage War and Dragged Under, who absolutely DESTROYED that stage! Thank you for bringing this tour to California and for presenting us with live music once again!

Beartooth | Wage War | Dragged Under

Photos + Review By: Jamie Kaufman | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

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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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Hawthorne Height’s Stay Home Virtual Tour 2020 | Review

With virtual shows becoming more and more popular, quite a few bands have put together some virtual tours, and one of these bands is Hawthorne Heights. The band put together a three-date run where they stream a show from local venues in different regions of the United States, with the proceeds from tickets and merch giveaways held throughout the night going towards various local venues within those regions. 

The opening act for this tour was Mark Rose, a solo musician and the former vocalist of Spitalfield. His setlist primarily consisted of Spitalfield songs (“Texa$ With A Dollar Sign” from 2005’s “Stop Doing Bad Things” and “Stolen From Some Great Writer,” “Those Days You Felt Alive,” “Kill The Drama,” and “I Loved The Way She Said ‘L.A.’” from 2003’s “Remember Right Now”), but he also performed a cover and a song from one of his releases as a solo artist – “Like A Dark Sky Holds The Moon” from 2015’s “The Wild Type.” Mark’s vocals really grabbed my attention, and the set showed how talented of a musician and performer he is. Although I wasn’t familiar with his music and had never seen him live before, I really enjoyed his set. 

A little while after Mark’s set concluded, Hawthorne Heights took the stage. Despite a technical difficulty later on in the set, the band soldiered on and still put on a fantastic show. They played a wide variety of songs from throughout their entire discography, starting with three tracks from their debut album “The Silence In Black And White” – “Life On Standby,” “The Transition,” and “Silver Bullet.” The band performed one song from their third album “Fragile Future” (“Rescue Me”) before going back in time a bit and playing a handful of tracks from their sophomore LP “If Only You Were Lonely” (“We Are So Last Year,” “This Is Who We Are,” “Saying Sorry,” “Pens And Needles,” & “Where Can I Stab Myself In The Ears”). The setlist also included “Crimson Sand,” a song from the band’s most recent album, 2018’s “Bad Frequencies,” and after that, the band stripped things down a bit to do a few songs acoustically. This portion of their set consisted of acoustic renditions of “Oceans” (from 2011’s “Hate”) and “Decembers” (also off of “If Only You Were Lonely”), as well as an acoustic cover of “Pet Semetary” by The Ramones, and after the acoustic performance, the band did an encore consisting of two of their biggest hits from “Silence” (“Niki FM” and “Ohio Is For Lovers”), as well as an extra song to compensate for the technical difficulty earlier on in the evening – “Hard To Breathe.”

The sets from Mark Rose and Hawthorne Heights were both very entertaining to watch, and between the incredible performances and the fantastic efforts the bands made to support the music industry throughout the evening, the Stay Home virtual tour was a special one.
For more information on how to support local venues during the COVID-19 pandemic, visit the websites of Save Our Stages and the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA).

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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