Tag Archives: Acoustic

Imagine Dragons – Live at Allsaints Studios

Imagine Dragons Release Acoustic EP Live At Allsaints Studios

Earlier today, Imagine Dragons released a new EP featuring a few acoustic tracks off of their recent Gold album Evolve, and one cool and unexpected cover song.

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Something Else – The Cranberries

Album Review: The Cranberries’ Something Else

Something Else, the latest release from The Cranberries, is a sweet homage to their older songs as well as a bright introduction to something new.

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Vans Warped Tour Interviews: State Champs

“I feel like the art of being a DJ is dead; no one cares anymore.” Tyler Szalkowski, State Champs

At this year’s Orlando Vans Warped Tour stop, we snuck backstage long enough to snag a few interviews with this year’s most compelling bands.  Over the next five days, we’ll feature a different band from those sessions, starting with the red hot State Champs from Albany, NY.

State Champs' Tyler Szalkowski at Vans Warped Tour
State Champs’ Tyler Szalkowski at Vans Warped Tour

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Leaving Haven Heading to EDBD


Luke Melsenti of Leaving Haven
Luke Melsenti of Leaving Haven

Luke Melsenti Discusses Earthday Birthday 22

Orlando rockers Leaving Haven are poised to explode onto the active rock scene and were recently selected to play at WJRR’s Earthday Birthday, and we took the opportunity to chat with the band’s guitarist Luke Melsenti about the appearance at Orlando’s premiere rock festival.

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Cretin: Tell me about your performance last week at Elixir any thoughts about the fan support there that sent you on to the slot at Earthday Birthday?
Luke Melsenti: We had a fantastic time playing Elixir! Playing an intimate acoustic show right downtown was a great way to entice our fan base to come out on a weekday night. The turnout was excellent and we received a lot of compliments from our fans about how much they enjoyed our set.

Cretin: You played an acoustic set that night. Will we be seeing future acoustic sets? Any acoustic offerings at Earthday Birthday?
Luke Melsenti: Absolutely. We’ve done several acoustic sets in the past and it’s something we always enjoy doing. We have been asked by EDBD to support the acoustic stage that day. We performed on the acoustic stage last year as well.

Cretin: What stage and time will fans be able to catch you?
Luke Melsenti: Leaving Haven will be performing on the acoustic stage again this year, however we have not been informed what time we’re going to rock the shit out of it yet!

Cretin: What’s your favorite crowd or venue you’ve played previously?
Luke Melsenti: I would say our “home field” where we feel most excited has to be House of Blues here in Orlando. It’s always the best time when we play there. Another favorite spot of ours is Venue 578 in Downtown Orlando. It has a great stage and lights and even better atmosphere. Those bigger shows always have an excellent crowd.

Cretin: How has the band’s sound and show changed from your last EDBD appearance?
Luke Melsenti: We made our first appearance at EDBD in 2013 where we opened the second stage, That year we performed as a full band. Last year and this year are both acoustic so naturally the sound and set are going to be different. This year I’m sure we’ll find something to do to change it up.

Cretin: Should we expect any surprises in your setlist at EDBD?
Luke Melsenti: Surprises? I don’t know, it wouldn’t be much of a surprise now would it?

Cretin: Any recommendations for other fans for bands they should not miss?
Luke Melsenti: If fans want to start their day off right they will be there right at the start to see our boys in SoulSwitch. They’re opening the main stage and are going to tear it apart! They’ll probably have to delay the next band due to repairs needed… just sayin’!

Cretin: Are there any bands you are most looking forward to seeing at EDBD who you have not seen before?
Luke Melsenti: I can’t speak for everyone but I’m most excited to see Slash, Rise Against and Nothing More.

Cretin: Some excellent choices, and two of our favorite touring bands on that list. See our earlier review for Rise Against and Nothing More

Check out the full Earthday Birthday Line-up HERE, and snag your tickets for EBDB 22 HERE.

Rock On!

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James Durbin Entertains Orlando

Photo credit: rarasfarm.com
James Durbin live in concert at Will’s Pub


James Durbin Acoustic Show Review

Three years ago, James Durbin exploded onto the American music scene as a captivating underdog on Season 10 of American Idol. During that whirlwind year, Durbin finished in the Top 4 and gained tremendous popularity, playing all of the late night talk shows, hitting all of the big arenas and churning out a quick album that peaked in the Top 10 of the album rock charts.

Since that breakthrough year, things have settled down a bit for the young rocker and he’s just wrapped up his second album, the soon to be released CELEBRATE. This time around, he took his time and put together a collection of songs that are more reflective of the musician he has become. He’s co-written all but one of the new songs and plays guitar on all of them, and on this night he clearly made them all his own.

Read our recent interview with James for some more of his thoughts: James Durbin chats with Cretin.

He’s eschewed the bigger rooms across the country for a chance to play toned down acoustic shows in intimate settings, such as the cozy Will’s Pub on this night. With a comfortable grey jacket and tight knit cap he unassumingly took to the stage with his two band mates and simply shared his music as if playing to a group of friends. He was joined on stage by long-time friend Jeremy Cross on percussion in what Durbin dubbed his “baby drum kit,” and Craiglist find Justin Kastner on bass. They were solid, if under-stated, but this show was all about Durbin.

The crowd of less than 100 was treated to a special evening.  Durbin interacted with the crowd often during the show and was comfortable and witty throughout. At one point, reflecting on his days as a Karaoke host, he offered, “tip your bartenders, don’t be a dick.” His most humorous interlude was talking about the troubles with his tour bus. The vehicle is driven by their tour manager Noah Brown has been affectionately nicknamed Noah’s Ark.

As affable as he was on stage, this tour is a spotlight on his musical talent. His guitar playing was solid all night, but truthfully was over-shadowed by his voice, which was simply spectacular.

Photo credit: rarasfarm.com
James Durbin live in concert at Will’s Pub

Early in the set, we had a chance to hear his new single “Parachute.” The song had a different feel performed acoustically, but it’s clear that it has hit potential.  He spent about half of his hour long set unaccompanied, and during this time poured his soul into the music and nailed every vocal. The majority of the tracks were from the new album, and as he acknowledged, will sound much different when the album comes out and we hear the full production version, but on this night, the stripped down approach was priceless.

Grab a copy of the new single on iTunes here: Parachute – James Durbin- Single

The title track off of “CELEBRATE” was a highlight. Driven by his tremendous vocal range, it was punctuated by a nice whistling finale. The highlight and biggest surprise of the night was when he reached deep into his past for an unexpected surprise. In our pre-show interview linked above, he had told me not to expect any Idol flashbacks, but the crowd was in for a nice surprise.  “I haven’t played this song in three years (since American Idol). I’m gonna try it, and if I fuck up ill just stop! Have a little faith.” He strummed a few bars looked up and offered “”I can do this; this will be magical, and then thrust into “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow.” Fantastic stuff.

Other highlights included the crowd favorite, “May,” and the stunning vocals of “Higher Than Heaven” and “Love in Ruins,” as well as a creative version of “Fool For You,” with his own creative ‘tribute’ to Bruno Mars.   (If I bungled any of these song titles, let me know)

This tour is one of those rare opportunities to catch a rising star in an intimate, stripped down and honest setting, simply doing what they do best. If the tour heads through a city near you, do yourself a favor and check it out. You won’t be disappointed.

By the way, I loved the fun and creative set by opener Kelley James which was highlighted by his freestyle spin on golf and weed. Great stuff in a set that was filled with highlights.

Rock On!

Editor: We will be posting show photos on Twitter and Facebook over the weekend and reviewing the new album as soon as it’s available, so Follow Us / Like Us to keep informed on this and all things rock…

Grouplove Kills It in Philly

Grouplove Philadelphia Concert Review

I recently found myself obligated to make a trip to Philadelphia. Typically not a preferred destination, this time I was thrilled to be going once I realized that Grouplove was taking their Seesaw Tour to the city on the same night.

Grouplove at Underground Arts
Grouplove at Underground Arts

The City of Brotherly Love might just be the most inaccurate nickname ever. Philly is generally not a friendly place. Their sporting venues are dangerous places, their drivers are rude, politicians are sketchy… You get the picture, but there’s one very notable exception. These miscreants know how to rock. For decades, Philadelphia has been a city that rocks, birthing such stellar acts as The Hooters, The A’s, and Cinderella. In addition, the city is a favorite tour stop for all of the iconic names in rock and roll. On this night, they got to witness some future icons.

Philadelphia rock music fans are fantastic, and they make every show in the city just a bit more special than in most other locales. I had caught Grouplove last fall at Florida’s Next Big Thing festival and loved their energy and charisma, not to mention their music, but I was truly excited to see them in a rock ‘n roll city like Philadelphia. They did not disappoint.

On this tour, the talented quintet are playing two shows in each city; night one, a raucous rock affair and night two (this night) a more laid back acoustic show. I was thrilled to be able to secure a ticket for the acoustic night, because these five are superbly talented and creative, and I was anxious to witness the different spin they’d offer on their unique blend of pop rock.

The sold out venue, Underground Arts, in the industrial Callowhill part of town, was an excellent backdrop for the set. After a nice warm-up set from up-and-coming Australians The Rubens, the electricity in the crowd was palpable. With fog drifting from the rafters, front man, Christian Zucconi took the stage to a loud ovation. He slid behind the piano for an unaccompanied solo as his band mates joined him for a slick version of “I’m With You.” From there, they kicked into “Itchin’ On A Photograph,” and the party was on.

If this night was the more mellow acoustic show, I can’t imagine the previous night’s fervor at Union Transfer. The band just oozes energy and offers non-stop superb, fun rock music. The set was maybe the slightest bit toned down; we saw the keyboards eschewed for piano as an example, but it was still a rollicking good time, and a nice night to showcase the band’s talent.

Hannah Hooper of Grouplove
Hannah Hooper of Grouplove at Underground Arts

At different times in the night, we saw lead singer / whirling dervish, Hannah Hooper, drummer Ryan Rabin, and Zucconni slide behind the piano. Phenomenally talented guitarist Andrew Wesson, took a turn behind the drums, and bass player Sean Gadd took lead vocals on several songs. But, most of the focus was directed to Zucconi and Hooper. They complement each other fantastically, often deftly trading off boy/girl vocals, all the while appearing to be having an absolute blast.

Aside from their musical talent, these guys all sing extremely well, which resulted in unusually crisp five person vocals at numerous times throughout the night.

There truly wasn’t a soft spot in the entire set, where we were able to enjoy numerous fun twists:

  • “Chloe” – Was introduced by Rabin and offered our first chance to see Gadd drop his bass and deliver lead vocals on a powerful, fun tune that had the crowd in a frenzy.
  • “Close Your Eyes” – Practically in mid-sentence, Zucconi began to howl, the crowd eagerly joined in, feeding nicely into the opening of this softer offering.
  • “Ways To Go” – I was wondering what they’d do with their current keyboard driven hit, and they offered a great spin. Rabin on piano, Wessen behind the drums, Gadd on bass, and Hooper and Zucconi killing the fun vocal duet.
  • “Cruel and Beautiful World” – Tender vocals, and phenomenal guitar work from Wessen. Just beautiful to listen to (wish I had recorded this one).
  • “Getaway Car” – featured an xylophone solo, and Gadd again on vocals.
  • “Tongue Tied” – Another fun party, this one had the crowd singing along perfectly, and sounding fantastic.
  • “Lovely Cup” – the entire crowd danced to this one, which spotlighted Gadd’s superb bass.
  • “Philalalaladelphia” – Yeah, it’s not a real song, but the night before, they wrote two lines while hanging out in Rittenhouse Square. It was silly stuff, but damn if they didn’t turn it into a three minue crowd infused party. Only in Philalalalaladelphia!
Christian Zucconi of Grouplove
Christian Zucconi of Grouplove at Underground Arts

In between, there were plenty of deep cuts, ample representation from all three of the band’s releases, a nice cover and creative alternate versions. An hour and a half of fun stuff in a lovely, loving atmosphere.

Follow Us on Twitter or Like our Facebook t0 receive alerts. Here are the photos, not great, but some decent shots: Grouplove photo album from this show. Also, here are some older photos to fill your needs Grouplove at The Big Ticket

(see the full setlist below)
Rock On!


I’m With You
Itchin’ On A Photograph
School Boy
Close Your Eyes
Hippy Hill
Ways To Go
Oh Well
Cruel And Beautiful World
Gold Coast
Tongue Tied
Shark Attack
Getaway Car
Love Will Find You (cover)
Lovely Cup

Central Florida June Concert Calendar

June Rock Music Calendar

Not quite the incredible month we saw in this area in May, which was highlighted by two amazing Paul McCartney shows, but still a bunch of stuff to choose from.


06/01 – The Supervillains, West End Trading (Sanford). RARA’s Farm has not caught this band yet, but everyone raves about their fun live shows. Catch them in one of our favorite local venues.

06/03 – Killswitch Engage with Darkest Hour, House of Blues

06/04 – Fall Out Boy with New Politics, House of Blues. These guys from Illinois have amazingly already been around for a dozen years and keep getting better.  The opener is a cool band from Denmark.

06/05 – The Postal Service, Hard Rock Live – It’s Ben Gibbard’s (Death Cab For Cutie) new electro-synth project, and it’s good stuff. Sold Out

06/07 – The Front Bottoms, Will’s Pub
06/07 – The Menzingers and Fake Problems, The Social – Punk rock

06/08 – The Airborne Toxic Event, The Beacham.  Mikel Jollett’s vocals might be the best in today’s Alt-Rock landscape, and the band is fantastic.

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06/11 – The Neighborhood with The 1975, The Social. Two up and coming Alt-Rock artists worth seeing.
06/11 – The Tallest Man on Earth, The Beacham. Creative rock from Sweden renowned for their entertaining live shows.

06/12 – Say Anything, House of Blues

06/14 – Night Beds, Will’s Pub. Winston Yellen is Night Beds; catch this talented young artist from Nashville at a cozy local joint.
06/14 – Whole Wheat Bread, West End Trading (Sanford). Punk, funk, reggae, rock… See our recent review

06/20 – Inner Circle, The Social. Girl I’m gonna make you sweat…”

06/25 – Daniel Tosh, Bob Carr Performing Arts Center. Yeah, it’s not rock, not even music, but Daniel is hilarious.

06/27 – Shinedown. WJRR Presents An Evening with Shinedown Acoustic with Brent Smith and Zach Myers. These guys are the heart and soul of the band and magical on stage together (check out our recent review)

Cheap concert tickets


06/01 – Peter Frampton, St. Augustine Amphitheatre

06/03 – Ours, Jack Rabbits

06/05 – Goo Goo Dolls, Florida Theatre. Always put on a good show.

06/06 – The Front Bottoms, The Roc

06/08 – The Menzingers and Fake Problems, The Phoenix Taproom

6/10/13 – The Airborne Toxic Event, Freebird Live

6/12/13 – Billy Idol, St. Augustine Amphitheatre. One of the biggest modern rock acts of the eighties makes a trip to Florida’s oldest city.

6/15/13 – The Neighborhood and The 1975, Jack Rabbits

6/19/13 – Capitol Cities, Jack Rabbits

6/21/13 – Anberlin, Freebird Live – Back in their old stomping grounds. See our recent review.

Cheap concert tickets

Tampa Area

06/02 – Peter Frampton, Ruth Eckerd Music Hall (Clearwater)

06/07 – Fleetwood Mac, Tampa Bay Times Forum
06/07 – The Supervillains, 1509

06/09 – The Airborne Toxic Event, State Theatre (Saint Petersburg)

06/10 – Say Anything, State Theatre (Saint Petersburg)

06/12 – The Neighborhood and The 1975, Local 662 (Saint Petersburg)

06/18 – Billy Idol, Ruth Eckerd Music Hall (Clearwater)
06/18 – Heart and Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience, MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre. The “Heartbreaker” Tour – very intriguing…

06/19 – Thousand Foot Krutch, Southeastern College (Lakeland). These guys put on a great and powerful live show.  See our recent album review.

06/21 – Robert DeLong, Push Ultra Lounge. Hot new talent, worth checking out.

06/22 – Pat Travers, Music Ranch (Lakeland). Never been to this family owned venue, but this might be the show that gets me out there.

06/27 – Bob Dylan, Wilco, My Morning Jacket, MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre. It’s one of rocks biggest legend headlining The “Americanarama Festival Of Music.”

Shinedown’s Smashing Ode to Rock Music

Shinedown's Brent Smith in Orlando
Shinedown’s Brent Smith in Orlando

Shinedown Orlando Concert Review

Admittedly, I’m a bit late to the party as it relates to these Jacksonville rock icons. Sure I was familiar with their bigger hits over the past decade, but didn’t truly begin to appreciate them until reviewing their excellent 2012 release Amaryllis, which was one of RARA’s Farm’s Top 5 Albums of 2012.

I was anxious to catch them live to see whether their live show matched the fantastic sound of Amaryllis and to validate the accolades I had heard from my peers.  Saturday night at The Amway Center left no doubt, these guys are rock legends in the making. They embody everything that makes Rock And Roll Animals, like us at RARA’s Farm, tick.

Led by dynamic singer, Brent Smith, this quartet puts on an entertaining, polished show.  All four members are excellent musicians and consummate entertainers.  They made every song memorable and wrapped up a fantastic night that also included strong sets from Three Days Grace and P.O.D.

As the curtain dropped on the show, we saw a close-up of Smith’s face on the large screen, acting like he was lost somewhere, trapped on the other side of the camera. With  drummer Barry Kerch the only band member on stage, Smith shouted “Hey You,” from the screen. Then the spotlights found the sound board in the middle of the floor, where the remaining three members stood upon risers and kicked into an explosive version of “Enemies.”

There were a few other early highlights; Smith implored the crowd to introduce themselves to the folks on their left and right before kicking into a rousing version of “Unity,” the crowd lit up the arena like a starry night for “45,” guitarist Zach Myers and aptly named bassist Eric Bass, swapped places on stage during “Save Me,” and the band moved to the stage’s upper level for “Crow and Butterfly.”  Throughout the set, Bass, Myers and Smith were in constant motion, racing around the stage and playing to the crowd throughout.

There were nice pyrotechnics during the show, including a killer waterfall effect during “If You Only Knew,” and a great choreographed sequence that highlighted the powerful “Sound of Madness.”

Before kicking into “If You Only Knew,” Smith shared “A girl told us earlier today that it’s been 962 days since we played Orlando and that’s too long.” And then offered a memorable moment, “Rock ‘n roll music is about guitars, bass, drums, bad ass vocals and a killer song. The beauty of rock ‘n roll is that it has always been there when you needed it; it’s not a genre, it’s a way of life.” That would look nice on a RARA’s Farm T-shirt, eh?

The core show was great, but the encore absolutely ratcheted the experience up a notch.  It kicked off with a powerful version of “Sound of Madness,” and up until then the song of the night, “Second Chance,” which had the fans at a fever pitch, pumping their fists, on a tune that Smith just nailed vocally.

Shinedown's Brent Smith and Zach Myers
Shinedown’s Brent Smith and Zach Myers on the floor at Amway Center

What happened next was my highlight of the night.  Smith and Myers slipped out to the riser near the sound stage and offered up a fun, interactive acoustic set.  Smith offered “What should we play now? Maybe something we can all sing along to?  Take me back to that beautiful place in high school where I first kissed my girlfriend,” and Myers kicked into “She Talks To Angels,” followed by fun snippets of other classic hits including Led Zeppelin, Nirvana, Violent Femmes, Bon Jovi and more.  Super cool stuff, that morphed perfectly into Lynyrd Skynyrd’s legendary “Simple Man.”

Myers and Smith absolutely did the Southern Rock classic justice, playing the first half of the song from the floor, before returning to the stage for a rousing finish with the entire band.

Their closing track was another memorable moment. They kicked into a scorching version of “Bully,” which again sounded absolutely great.  However, what happened on the big screen behind the stage was just as riveting.  The video showed a high school aged girl sharing her moving battle against bullying.  It was absolutely captivating, and an emotional message that complemented the lyrics to the 2012 hit perfectly.  Sadly, as the song ended, we learned that the young girl, Amanda Todd committed suicide shortly afterwards. As the screen morphed into “Stay Strong,” the song came to a moving finish, closing with some more powerful pyrotechnics.

A great, passionate ending to a complete rock’n roll experience.

Rock On!

See the setlist below

Check out our photos on the RARA’s Farm Facebook page. (Please Like Us while you’re there)

You can find our Review of Three Days Grace here.

Crow and the Butterfly
Save Me
I’ll Follow You
Diamond Eyes
If You Only Knew

Sound of Madness
Second Chance
Acoustic Medley
Simple Man