Category Archives: Concert Reviews

Our impressions from shows that we get to witness in person.

The Big Ticket Delivers BIG


Rock music festivals just don’t get much better than this!

Over the past twenty-plus years, I’ve been a rock music junkie, attending many hundreds of rock shows and festivals all along the East Coast.  But, I’m not sure I ever witnessed as much good music in one day as I caught at The Big Ticket on the riverfront in Jacksonville. X102.9 is Jacksonville’s New Rock Alternative, and they delivered a talented diverse line-up that was damn near perfect for Alternative Rock fans.

The festival featured Alt-Rock legends Bush and Rise Against and some of today’s hottest new acts, such as FUN. Grouplove and Of Monsters And Men, as well as a handful of local rockers.  The Met Park venue was set-up perfectly, with music alternating seamlessly between the two primary stages.

The Main Stage was packed with can’t miss acts the entire day, and no one disappointed.  I was just as impressed with the diverse line-up playing the Jagermeister Side Stage; – Rarely have I seen a second stage boasting the kind of talent we were presented with, including the likes of Flogging Molly, Anberlin and the most pleasant surprise of the festival Twenty One Pilots.

We’ll get to the band-by-band recap in a bit, but first, lets focus on the festival in general.

The Big Ticket Crowd scene
The Big Ticket Crowd scene

We took a slew of great photos, and you can check them all out on our Facebook site.  Just do us a favor and Like Us while you’re there. RARAs-Farm Facebook Page.  We also offered up our Best of The Big Ticket earlier in our three part Big Ticket series, if you want to check that out.

The Metropolitan Park location was the ideal venue for a festival, with plenty of room for four stages, dozens of bands, a slew of vendors and ten thousand rabid rock music fans. It didn’t suck that the weather on the riverfront was absolutely perfect either. Met Park is one of the few places I’ve seen a show where you could “get away” for awhile if you wanted, including some nice spots on the river, and still hear the acts on the Main Stage. At the North end of the park there were two smaller stages featuring local acts and numerous merchandise booths offering a kicked back festival feel.

The bands alternated between the Main Stage and Side Stage impeccably, with there rarely being a break of more than few minutes.  The only exception was a twenty minute delay for Grouplove that may have been the result of a wiring issue.  The stages were set-up close enough that a few thousand fans could literally just rotate 45 degrees, twice an hour to catch non-stop fantastic performances.

The Side Stage featured a bit more of aggressive Alt-Rock, and leaned towards the punk side.  Flogging Molly, Anberlin and Joy Formidable all had the crowd bouncing.  The earlier acts on the stage were also entertaining and well-received by the crowd.  Whole Wheat Bread, The Sunbears and the aforementioned Twenty | One | Pilots all had the crowd engaged, as well. Tyler Joseph was a mad man and one of the stand out performers of the day.

On the Main Stage most of the performances were exceptional.  Paper Tongues immediately got things started with an energetic, animated performance.  One of many bands with Jacksonville or Florida roots, they engaged the crowd as much as any band throughout the day.  Grouplove and Of Monsters And Men followed up with great sets that had the crowd dancing and singing along, and Silversun Pickups sounded superb.

The Main Stage closed with three great sets. An incredibly well-received set from Fun, sounded as good as their richly layered recorded material and Nate Geuss was thoroughly entertaining.  Gavin Rossdale was all over the venue, and disappeared into the crow a few times during Bush’s set. Then, Rise Against, delivered a powerful set to close out the night.  The sound quality was superb all day from both stages, and did not suffer at all from the outdoor locale.

It was a near perfect line-up in a fantastic venue on a spectacular day, run exceptionally well by X102.9 and the promoters.  It doesn’t get much better than that.

Check back tomorrow for our final Big Ticket article, our band-by-band recap – lots of great anecdotes.

Rock On!
Cretin

 


The Big Ticket Festival – Best Of Edition


Wow – one hell of a show in Jacksonville yesterday!

Our first trip to The Big Ticketand damn were we impressed.  An absolutely great line-up, and everything ran fantastically well. We have a slew of excellent pictures and lots of material to share over the next few days. Like us on Facebook to keep up with all of our photos and Follow us on Twitter for updates.

In the meantime, here’s our Best of Listing for our first Big Ticket experience:

  • Song of the Day – “Glycerine” by Bush. Immediately after running through the crowd, Gavin Rossdale comes back on stage and plays this cut off of Sixteen Stone, unaccompanied for the first few verses – starkly spectacular The crowd sings along throughout, and the full band returns for a rousing close; a great performance of a great rock song.
  • Best Chill Spot – The gazebo down by the river. Soothing sounds of the water, yet still close enough to hear the bands on the Main Stage, and plenty of shade.  We caught a few folks meditating when we stopped by.  Cool spot, literally
  • Best Sounding Artist – Grouplove. Never Trust A Happy Song was one of our Top 10 albums of 2011, and the band played every song flawlessly.  All three vocalists sounded great and the music was perfect.  Bonus points to Andrew Wessen for the only ukulele of the day.
  • Best Mosh Moment – If you’ve read us before, you know we don’t love mosh pits, and thankfully not too many this day, but we did have a nice one spontaneously form during Flogging Molly’s rollicking “The Likes of You Again.” Moshing with a bit of Irish Jig tossed in.
  • Best Vendor – The tent right near our chill locale. Not sure of the vendor name, but they were selling psychedelic attire and classic concert merchandise.  Lots of cool threads and all kinds of cool niche items.
  • Top Singalong moment – There were a few nice ones throughout the day, but when Fun hit the stage, the crowd was packed and in a frenzy.  No surprise here, but EVERYONE sang along to We Are Young.”
  • Most Chatty Artist – Tyler Joseph of Twenty One Pilots was a blast throughout his set.  Constantly chatting with the crowd, he was entertaining and funny.  Loved his request for the crowd to pretend they were calling the band out for an encore.  Creative stuff…
  • Best Food – The $9 funnel cake.  I hate having to buy a ticket before spending money, but for this monstrous and perfectly greased treat, it was worth the effort. Good stuff, and good for you (right?).
  • Crowd-pleasing Moment – There were a bunch of great sets and a few moments that really stood out, like Rossdale’s tour through the crowd or Joseph’s trip up the rafters, but I’ll go with Aswan North of Paper Tongues who jumped across the Photos pit and then Security to mix with the crowd, and they loved it.
  • Best Parking Spot – we grabbed the first lot we saw and may have ended up outside of Duval County.  The Jaguars lot right across from the venue was much closer, the same price and had plenty of spaces, and a more vibrant tailgating feel.  Sold…
  • Justin Bieber Moment – No doubt about it, when Fun’s Nate Reuss stepped onto the stage, my ears started bleeding from all of the high-pitched squeals, but damn can that guy sing – an excellent entertainer!
  • Act of the Day – As I mentioned, so many great acts to choose from, but I’m going to go with Twenty One Pilots.  I already mentioned the interaction with the crowd, we also had lead singer Tyler Joseph sing one song from atop the speaker tower, another from the rafters in the center of the crowd, and the finale from the roof of the motor home next to the stage.  Drummer Josh Dun was nearly as animated, and the dup were just an absolute blast their entire set.

So, that’s it for now.  Lots of material still to come.  Make sure you Like us on Facebook and Follow us on Twitter for all of our Big Ticket coverage and loads of photos.

(Here’s our summary review of the Festival)

Rock On!
Cretin


Of Monsters and Men Dazzles Orlando


Since January when we first wrote about this uber-talented band out of Iceland, I’ve been looking forward to catching them live, to see if their live show lived up to my lofty expectations. After their powerful, engaging fourteen song set at The Beacham, there’s no doubt, we witnessed the next huge Indie breakout band.

Of Monsters and Men is often compared to The Arcade Fire, and although there are indeed musical similarities  the crew from Iceland have a sound all of their own. It’s unique indie-rock with a folksy flair that comes across even better live than on their hit album, Into The Woods.  I do see valid comparisons to The Arcade Fire in their huge potential to become the next Indie rock act to cross over to huge mainstream success, both critical and commercial.

The Beacham was sold out for this show, and the packed crowd was eagerly engaged from the opening notes of “Dirty Paws” to the powerful closing notes of the final encore “Yellow Light.” Nanna Hilmarsdóttir and Ragnar Þórhallsson share the vocals and sounded magnificent all night trading off between the female and male leads. Their voices were pure all night, distinct and captivating, at times reminding me of the exceptional vocals of The Beautiful South which is high praise.

The band has added a seventh member for this tour, and it works magnificently, as they sound bigger, fuller and more vibrant than in their recordings. Their line-up features three guitars (including the left-handed Ragnar), a bass, drums, keyboards, accordion, kettle drum and trumpet, offering up plenty of unique mixes. The band members enjoyed the packed house throughout the show and seemed humbled by the crowd’s constant participation, either clapping or singing along to most songs.


(Check out our concert photos here)

The house was rocking all night, but the fervor kicked up a notch for “Slow and Steady,” where the entire corwd had their hands aloft clapping rhythmically, and then hit a fever pitch for their current hit “Mountain Sound.” They also threw in a nice cover of The Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs’ “Skeletons.”

The highlight of the show was an extended version of “Lakehouse,” where drummer Arnar Hilmarsson came out front and led the crowd through an animated singalong. From there, they closed out the set with an exhilaration version of their hit single “Little Talks.”

From there, it was a nice three song encore, that led off with a stripped down version of “Sloom” with just the three guitarists on stage. They were rejoined on stage by their band mates for “Beneath the Bed,” before closing with a raucous version of “Yellow Light,” which featured grewat drums from Hilmarsson, as well as Nanna on kettle drum – a rousing end to a great night of rock music. For the 1200 in attendance it was a great glimpse into the future of rock stardom, and likely a fleeting chance to see them in a cozy venue, as their next trip to Orlando will find them in a much bigger venue.

Rock On!
Cretin

Setlist:
Dirty Paws
From Finner
Slow and Steady
Mountain Sound
Your Bones
Skeletons (Yeah Yeah Yeahs cover)
Love Love Love
King and Lionheart
Lakehouse
Little Talks
Six Weeks

Encore:
Sloom
Beneath My Bed
Yellow Light

 

The Bastard Suns Shine in Sanford


I knew I liked these guys the moment I saw their tagline: “a reggae infused punk rock sound with a little bit o’ Irish whiskey on top.” I’ve always felt that reggae and Irish rock were a perfect pairing (see New York’s Black 47 for a prime example) and was immediately intrigued by The Bastard Suns.

I went into the night unfamiliar with the band and their music and failed to realize that the crazy guys jumping on and off the stage for impromptu cameos during Knock-Out’s opening set were the effervescent members of The Bastard Suns.  It was apparent early in the night that the quartet out of Atlanta love rock music and love performing.

Their nearly two hour set at Sanford’s cool West End Trading Company was a raucous energetic show that had the crowd dancing, bouncing. moshing and singing along throughout.  The bands music is rough and edgy yet amazingly precise.  They’re excellent musicians offering up a superb mix of reggae, ska and punk, all with a hearty Irish twist.  It’s a damn good mix and an absolute blast to listen to.

The Bastard Suns at West End
The Bastard Suns at West End in Sanford

“Start A Party” epitomized the band’s sound – a rollicking, feverish onslaught of fast-paced punk ska, that was performed perfectly.  The musicians are all excellent and absolutely shined on this track, which is driven by rapid fire vocals and a powerful bass solo. “Wasted” was another crowd favorite that was accompanied by the band doing a shot of Jameson’s with a pickle juice chaser.  The drink sounds nasty, while the song was nasty in a good way.  Most of their selections were originals, including the guitar powered “We’d Go For Broke (But We’re Already There)” which they played for a member of The West End’s staff.

In addition to their excellent originals, they played a few cover songs, all stamped with their own unique Bastard Suns spin.  “Maggie May” was offered with a unique twist and we heard a punkified version of Dire Straits’ “Walk of Life.” One of the highlights of the show was a tremendous version of “Soulshine,” which was introduced as a song from Georgia’s greatest band, The Allman Brothers. Here’s a Youtube version of the band performing it live.  Good, good stuff.

Knock-Out, a trio from Riverside, California warmed the stage up and offered up a powerful set of aggressive punk with a touch of ska. As noted earlier, they had a great rapport with The Bastard Suns and shared the stage several times throughout the evening.

UNRB, a local ska band out of St. Petersburg was a great discovery.  This group of six was an absolute blast.  They offered up a fun blend of crisp ska, in a line-up that didn’t include a guitarist.  Bass, drums, a three piece brass section, and an electric ukulele – an unusual approach, but it was fantastically fun, and highly recommended.

For those of you who have not made it out to West End, take a look at their concert calendar and make a trip out to the Sanford waterfront.  They offer up great local and national acts in a cozy local rock room.

Rock On!
Cretin


Sweet Breath of Southern Air in Orlando


So when is the last time you went to a rock concert and had the violinist steal the show? Saturday night Yellowcard made a much anticipated appearance in their home state of Florida at House of Blues Orlando. The band recently kick-started a worldwide tour to promote their powerful new album “Southern Air” and made Orlando one of their first stops. (Check out our review of Southern Air)

On Saturday night, a packed house exhausted their voices after an engaging two hour long, nineteen song set list. I’ve rarely seen a group of music enthusiasts truly love every selection their band played as I witnessed with the Yellowcard fans on Saturday. There wasn’t a single song that Yellowcard played that didn’t have roars of approval from their fervent crowd, including those cuts from their new album.

Yellowcard Live at HOB-Orlando
Yellowcard Live at HOB-Orlando

The quintet broke right into the music and kept the crowd jumping and screaming from the first notes of “Awakening” through their first handful of songs.  The first two cuts were identical to the first two on Southern Air, but thereafter, it was a nice mix of selections that spanned their robust catalog.

The band boasts impressive talent from every member of the band and wonderful vocals from Ryan Key. Things really picked up when they kicked into “Rivertown Blues” off of the new album, Key implored the crowd to have everyone rotate together in a circle which ratcheted up the energy level another notch, and then finished the song off with an impressive lead guitar solo. “Holly Wood Died,” “Hang You Up” and my personal favorite, “Believe” all showcased impressive violin performances by Sean Mackin. “Believe” was dedicated to Mackin’s mother who was present at the show and he took center stage as he blew the crowd away with an exhilarating solo. It was one of many highlights for the affable Mackin who was in the spotlight all evening.

It’s always impressive when a lead singer can perform an entire set while playing guitar and keeping the crowd on their feet. Key did a wonderful job of keeping the show a true pop-punk spectacle. Sean Mackin receives most of my credit for the night, though. I was continuously blown away by the energy and talent brought to a rock show by a violinist, and he didn’t stop there. He also did an excellent job on the back-up vocals and was very interactive with the crowd.

Another song worth noting was “Lights and Sounds” off of their wildly popular album Paper Walls. The crowd seemed to reach a fever pitch, jumping and screaming throughout; but then again, that was only until they performed “Ocean Avenue.” There is no better way for Yellowcard to close a high energy show than with a passionate performance of  their most popular song. I nearly lost my voice after this show and my legs were most definitely sore the next morning.

For anyone who hadn’t heard Southern Air before attending this concert, I can say that every song performed from the album blew me away and absolutely convinced me to give the CD another listen. Some of my favorites were “Southern Air” and “Always Summer;” both very relatable to us “Floridians.”

Yellowcard has been around for 13 years and is still making music that people love and they’ve earned the allegiance of their loyal fans who keep coming back for their energetic love of the band’s music. In 2008 Yellowcard did a small acoustic tour before going on a two year hiatus I had the opportunity to see Key perform acoustically and was floored by a heart stopping performance of “Dear Bobbie” dedicated to his grandmother. This night was a nice return to seeing the whole band back together rocking the stage like they are meant to.

I would always recommend to anyone to spend a night with Yellowcard rockin’ the house.

Check out the setlist below

See our concert photos on our Facebook Page (and Like Us while you’re there!)

Set List:

  1. Awakening
  2. Surface of the Sun
  3. Way Away
  4. Breathing
  5. Shrink the World
  6. Rivertown Blues
  7. Light Up the Sky
  8. Always Summer
  9. Holly Wood Died
  10. Five becomes Four
  11. Hang You Up
  12. With You Around
  13. Believe
  14. Lights and Sounds
  15. Only One
  16. Southern Air
  17. ENCORE: Sing for Me
  18. ENCORE: Here I am Alive
  19. ENCORE: Ocean Avenue

Journey and Pat Benatar Rock Tampa


Still riding their “Glee”-ful resurgence, a revitalized Journey brought a few of their fellow 80’s rock stalwarts to the 1-800-ASK-GARY Amphitheatre in Tampa this weekend.  Paired with Pat Benatar and Loverboy, it promised to be a fun flashback packed with iconic rock tunes.

Due to an absurdly long line of traffic entering the facility,and being re-routed to a lot which seemed to be in Clearwater, we missed Loverboy. We arrived right at the printed start time of 7:30, which turned out to be the time they wrapped up.  Guilty pleasure confession: I always loved the band’s music and was kind of bummed I missed their set. The general consensus was that despite their considerably tighter black and red leather, the Canadians still sounded good.

Pat Benatar is sharing her billing with husband and long time guitarist Neil Giraldo on this tour. They sounded good and offered up a great setlist featuring songs from their entire catalog.  The band kicked off the set with a trio of powerful hits, “All Fired Up,” Invincible” and “Promises in the Dark.” They then brought out a pair of stools, caught their breath, and slowed it down a bit.

Over the course of the 50 minute performance, the band offered up all of their biggest hits including crowd favorites “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” and “Love Is a Battlefield.”  The highlight of the set was a great closing version of “Heartbreaker,” during which they deftly weaved in Led Zeppelin’s identically titled classic and Johnny Cash’s “Ring Of Fire;” a great version of a great song.

The headliners took the stage with a nice line-up reminiscent of that from the band’s heyday. Neal Schon, Ross Valory and Jonathan Cain, holdovers from the band’s epic 80’s line-up, are still performing and were joined on stage by Deen Castronovo who has been at the drums for the last dozen years. The new face is Filipino, Arnell Pineda, who was discovered by Schon covering Journey songs on Youtube (really).  Pineda’s voice is eerily similar to Steve Perry’s and his vocals were damn near perfect throughout the show.

They immediately got the crowd engaged with a rousing version of “Anyway You Want It,” and did a nice job sampling hits from their entire catalog.  Early highlights included “Feeling That Way / Anytime,” “send Her My Love” and “Faithfully.”  The band took a quick break and Schon offered up a fantastic solo version of “The Star Spangled Banner.”  Schon is an under-appreciated guitar legend with a slew of great, memorable riffs to his credit, and he truly shined during the solo.

The second half of the generous set included “Separate Ways,” “Lights,” and “Wheel In the Sky,” as well as “Just The Same Way,” with Cain taking over lead vocals.  The band also offered up a few deeper cuts, which were generally received with ambivalence from a crowd that was there for the hits.  Overall, the band offered up a nice, broad selection of hits, but at times seemed to be going through the motions. They closed the show with “Don’t Stop Believing” and came back with an anti-climactic version of “Lovin’ Touchin’ Squeezin.'” It was a nice end to a decent, yet unspectacular show.

I did have a priceless experience as the crowd sang along loudly to “Open Arms.” My friend Luc the Toque, belted out “I come to you with broken arms!” Nice, a priceless cross-up between Journey and Mister Mister… Thanks, Luc!

We had lawn seats in the equivalent of deep right field.  I’d recommend the lawn if you’re just going to hear some classic tracks, chill with friends and sing along a bit, and that worked on this night. But, the truth is, the sound was muddy and the mix inconsistent throughout the night so far from the stage. If you are headed to the Amphitheatre and are looking for a mpre pristine sound, I’d definitely recommend moving up into the reserved seats.

Check Out the full Setlists below.

Rock On!
Cretin

Pat Benatar Setlist

All Fired Up
Invincible
Promises in the Dark
We Belong
You Better Run
Hit Me With Your Best Shot
Love Is a Battlefield
Heartbreaker/Ring of Fire

Journey Setlist

Anyway You Want It
Ask the Lonely
Only the Young
Feeling That Way / Anytime
Send Her My Love
Faithfully
Neil Schon Solo – Star Spangled Banner
Stone In Love
Separate Ways
Just the Same Way
Lights
Solos
Wheel In the Sky
Escape
Open Arms
Don’t Stop Believing

Encore
Lovin’ Touchin’ Squeezin’

Sanford Gets a Nice Dose of Rehab


Georgia based Alt-Rockers, Rehab brought their entertaining act to Sanford this week with an energetic set at West End Trading Company.  The quintet out of Georgia offered up a unique entertaining cross between rock, country and hip-hop.  For those of you not familiar with the band, think Beastie Boys meet Sister Hazel; yup, a crazy combination, but these guys make it work.

DJ Chris Crisis kicked the set off with a quick and lively set that got the crowd amped up.  He remained on stage and supplied the band’s bass through his mixes. The band revolves around the vocals of front men Danny Alexander and Demun Jones, who effortlessly switched off between driving hip-hop and harmonious melodies.

The set spanned their entire career and was a great mix from their album releases.  “Hey Fred” was an early crowd favorite that got the crowd bouncing and singing along.  We also got to hear nice versions of “We Live,” “Walk Away,” and my personal favorite “Lawn Chair High” from their excellent 2008 release Graffiti World.

I’m typically not a hip-hop fan, but enjoyed the way the band deftly wove it in with a solid rock foundation.  The only downside to me was that as we listened to the tunes and the driving bass backbone, there was no bass player to be found, instead all of the bass came from the DJ. The mix was still great, and sounded excellent in the venue, but I would’ve preferred a bass player contributing to the sound.

They wrapped up their seventy-five minute set with a rollicking version of  “Kung Pao Chicken,” and then closed with the crowd favorite “Hey Bartender / Sittin At A Bar,” bringing the raucous crowd to a feverish pitch to close the night.  It was a nice way to wrap up a fun set at a cool local venue. It was my first trip to West End Trading Company, and I left impressed (look for our review of the venue soon).

Chill Flow, a local five-piece band did a great job opening for Rehab.  The Central Florida band obviously brought along some of their own passionate fans and played a nice set of ska influenced rock, with a cool beach vibe.

Rock On!
Cretin

WMMO Treats Orlando to 80’s Flashback

Thousands of Central Florida classic rock fans flocked to downtown Orlando to catch a nice triple billing, featuring 80’s Rock Legends The Romantics, John Waite and Modern English.

The flashback was the latest installment of WMMO’s wildly successful Free Downtown Concert Series and the fans were the recipient of a night full of excellent rock music, big hair and Jordache jeans.  On this night, the hair was a bit thinner, the jeans a little more snug, but the music just how we remembered it.

I arrived just after the Modern English set and missed the band that made it big with the iconic 80’s hit “I Melt With You.”

John Waite in Orlando
John Waite in Orlando

John Waite who frequently visits Orlando was back with his band and played hits spanning his entire career, in its many incarnations, over his hour long set.  Waite who is now in his fourth decade as a front man still has an amazing voice and put on a great show. The Baby’s hit “Head First” immediately kicked the set into high gear, which also featured several other tracks from the band including “Midnight Rendezvous,” “Every Time I Think of You” and “Back On My Feet Again.”

The crowd was also treated to Waite’s huge hits “Change” and “Missing You,” and a great solo a capella singalong version of Bad English’s “When I See You Smile.” Two highlights for me were rollicking versions of “No More Mr. Wonderful” and the closing cover of Tina Turners’s “Sweet Rhode Island Red.” Great stuff from an iconic rock voice.

The Romantics Live in Orlando
The Romantics Live in Orlando

The Romantics headlined the show and played a full set, featuring songs from the past 35 years of their career.  The quartet is absent their original lead singer Jimmy Marinos, but their current line-up boasts the other three original members and the vocals still sound great.  Wally Palmar takes over lead vocals on most songs and fills in admirably. He is joined by fellow original members Mike Skill on guitar and bassist Rich Cole. The set featured all of their hits including “First In Line,” “When I Look in Your Eyes” and a fun singalong version of “Talking In Your Sleep.”

The band also threw in two of their more punk-based offerings.  “She’s Got Everything” had the crowd dancing in the streets,and a rocking version of “Stone Pony” featured powerful animated drumming from Brad Elvis.  They closed their set and the night with the crowd-pleasing “What I Like About You.”

Kudos to WMMO, who continue to provide great free music to rock music fans of Central Florida.  The new location at Amelia and Orange in downtown Orlando is also a nice improvement and the set-up with two stages was a great touch.  Special thanks to WMMO radio host Elise Rossi for her help and support!

If you were at the show, let us know what you thought in the Comments section below, then please Like Us on Facebook and check out our photo galleries here:

Romantics photos  |  John Waite Photos

Rock On!
Cretin