It’s been an interesting year for rock music. Lots of excellent new music in the Indie and Alternative universe, but Active Rock seemed to be taken over by non-melodic screaming music which to me just isn’t music to my ears. So, as you will soon discover, this year’s list definitely leans to the Alternative side.
On Sunday in Jacksonville, I attended my 4th Big Ticket Festival, and came away from the day thinking I had seen the best musical line-up they’d ever offered. Kudos to X102.9 and Danny Wimmer Presents for putting together a killer day of Alternative Rock.
It helps to have arguably the hottest rock band on the planet closing your festival, but The Big Ticket again delivered a fantastic day of Alternative Rock music that left Jacksonville fans impressed and pleased with a full day of excellent live music highlighted by a killer set from headliners Twenty One Pilots.
The duo from Ohio opened this festival three years ago and delivered one of the most memorable early sets in memory. Now, on a beautiful Sunday a few years later, they’re closing the night out, but still delivering quality music and a spectacular show.
Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun, the talented duo from Ohio, are dedicated musicians hell bent on constantly refining and improving their stage show. Sunday night, we saw them flying across the stage, leaping into the crowd and climbing the stage trusses. And, all the while delivering their distinctive brand of rock music that is absolutely embraced by their passionate fans.
Most of the bands were well-received by the diverse crowd, but talking to concert-goers as they departed (or sat forever in the parking lot traffic), it was clear that the other crowd favorites included Walk The Moon, Robert Delong, Coleman Hell and X Ambassadors.
(Make sure you Like our Facebook Page, as we will have band-by-band recaps and photos from every artist posted over the next couple of days for our loyal Facebook followers)
I’ve been to several prior Big Ticket festivals in the past, and don’t ever remember a line-up as talented as this years. Simply put, from the opening island-infused notes of Colorado’s Lola Rising to the thunderous close of Twenty One Pilots, there was no let down on either stage.
I have to confess that more than a few people were frustrated with the new stage arrangement, including myself. With both stages side-by-side, there was a constant sea of people rolling back and forth across the blanket covered fields. Although the idea of two stages fairly close has some merit, these two stages were too close.
On another positive note, the vendors and food stands were excellent, Despite a Sold Out crowd in attendance, the lines at the many food vendors never got out of control and there was tremendous diversity.
But, the truth is, everything other than the music pales in importance when compared to the artists who graced the stage, and on this wonderful day in Jacksonville, the 2015 incarnation of The Big Ticket nailed it. Kudos to X102.9 and Danny Wimmer Presents for another excellent event!
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Photos from the event on our Facebook (we will add more as they become available):
Twenty One Pilots
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Set times for The Big Ticket are out and it looks like we are all in store for a jam-packed day of excellent, diverse rock ‘n roll.
Jacksonville’s The Big Ticket has established itself as Florida’s premiere Alt-Rock music festival, and this year’s lineup boasts an impressive buffet of fantastic live acts who always deliver top-notch shows.
The Best Rock Songs of 2013
(Make sure you check out our Top Rock Albums 0f 2013)
2013 was a year packed with interesting entertaining rock offerings. Most commercial radio seems fixated on synth-driven, watered-down, safe music for the masses. At times, I’m a sucker for that stuff, too, but far more often, I enjoy my rock with a little guitar, as you’ll see below…
Click on the sing titles to check out and grab your own copy of each song.
Bonus Track: Golden, Holly Maher – Our own BrokenBirdie sums this one up perfectly: This Nashville native “really knows how to mix sassy and sweet perfectly…” Maher is not an easy fit into our rock ‘n roll genre, but she’s a blossoming singer songwriter with lots of potential.
24. What Doesn’t Kill You – Jake Bugg – Garage rock 21st Century style. This 19 year-old has a great sound, sometimes punk, sometimes folksy, and this is the best offering from his second album.
23. Do I Wanna Know? – Arctic Monkeys – Really like the guitar intro on this one, and just love the focus on Alex Turner’s vocals, which are his best yet.
22. Safe and Sound – Capital Cities – An example of the synth and drum machine recipe that dominates today’s airwaves, but this one is creative and catchy.
21. Harlem – New Politics – A bit of a guilty pleasure. Bubble gum rock, but it’s got infectious lyrics and a memorable guitar riff that you’ll never get out of your head.
20. High School Lover – Cayucas – This one has a slick late 60′s surf rock feel which fits this band from Santa Monica perfectly.
19. Unbelievers – Vampire Weekend – It’s a great showcase for Ezra Koenig’s vocals, and unbelievably, this is actually the band’s highest charting song of their career.
18. 17 Crimes – AFI – This one is carried by Adam Carson’s drums. It’s got a great singalong chorus about a nasty topic. I should have moved this up to #17 just for the symmetry.
17. Recovery – Frank Turner – It’s fun catchy song with deep meaningful lyrics from one of today’s best rock ‘n roll poets from Tape Deck Heart, one of this year’s best albums.
16. Sweater Weather – The Neighbourhood – The first single off of their debut album I Love You and it was a breath of fresh air on the Alt-Rock scene. The first of two tracks from the West Coast band on the list.
15. Wake Me Up – Avicii – My wife rarely turns me on to excellent new rock, but this is an exception. This one makes a great driving song, but it’s excellent in any environment and crosses so many musical genres. Love the music bed…
14. Drive Me Home – The Reason – A big rocker from a veteran Canadian band who sound like Kings of Leon, just with a little more talent and a lot more passion and less pretentiousness.
13. Deal with the Devil – Pop Evil – Reminds me a bit of Alice and Chains which is always a good thing. Love Leigh Kakaty’s vocals, but the music from his band mates is even better.
12. Diane Young – Vampire Weekend – Bit of a different feel, where Koenig’s vocals highlight early; and then the song masterfully devolves into a clever mash-up of sounds eerily reminiscent of the late 80’s dance remixes from Sigue Sigue Sputnik.
11. Hail to the King – Avenged Sevenfold – Best hard rock band around, and this song is a prime example why. Searing guitar solos, hard driving rhythm and killer vocals.
10. Cut Me Some Slack – “Nirvana” featuring Paul McCartney – OK, I named the band… It’s Dave Grohl’s fantastic contribution to Sound City. Paul bringing back haunting “Helter Skelterish” vocals accompanied by the living members of Nirvana, and it works amazingly well.
10. Waves – Blondfire – It’s a great summer vibe, and a tune that highlights the beautiful vocals of Erica Driscoll and an absolutely mesmerizing groove.
9. Bit By Bit – Mother Mother – One of today’s most underrated bands, and this provocative quirky song is the best one from their fantastic album The Sticks. It’s aggressive Alt-rock with a unique blend of boy-girl vocals.
8. Lola Montez – Volbeat – Killer guitar work from new addition Rob Caggiano (Anthrax) and an excellent spotlight for Michael Poulsen’s powerful and distinctive vocals.
7. The Boys Are Back – Dropkick Murphys – Bagpipes and a rousing chorus power this rocker. Just love Ken Casey’s beautifully ragged and harsh vocals. It’s Irish rock at its best, well almost…
6. House of Gold – Twenty One Pilots – Ukelele driven ode to Tyler Glenn’s mother featuring his quirky but perfectly fitting vocals as this duo continues their ascension into rock stardom.
5. Rose Tattoo – Dropkick Murphys – This is Irish rock at its best. Tender mandolin opening with more of a classic Irish story teller vibe and a memorable chorus. They also released a version with Springsteen on vocals as a Boston Marathon victims’ fundraiser which is just as good as the original.
4. Thanksgiving – Stephen Kellogg – It’s a masterpiece, a ten minute masterpiece, but worth every second of it. Poignant, meaningful lyrics, passionate vocals and superb music. This one should become the definitive Thanksgiving song.
3. San Francisco – The Mowgli’s – A positive, happy, upbeat song, and it’s just fun as hell. This octet delivers a wall of sound, and the music is simply addictive. A great song made better by the great vibe.
2. Afraid – The Neighbourhood – Jesse Rutherford’s vulnerable vocals and deeply introspective lyrics are fantastic, and the song is absolutely great. It is the highlight track from the band’s excellent debut I Love You.
1. Four Simple Words – Frank Turner – This one starts with soft piano accompanied by acoustic guitar, then evolves into a raucous punk rock throwdown. It’s everything wonderful about rock ‘n roll wrapped up into one song. Oh, and the lyrics are perfect, too.
There you have it. My list… What did I miss? Let me know in he comments below, and make sure you Follow Us on Twitter and Like our Facebook for rock music updates all year long.
The Best of The Big Ticket Festival
It’s been 5 days since this year’s version of The Big Ticket hit Jacksonville and I figured it was a good time to reminisce a bit.
This year’s event was year four of X102.9’s annual pilgrimage for Florida’s alt-rock nation; and there are rumors that changes in city ordinances could make it the last. Hopefully, it’s the typical local news’ blown-out-of-proportion, attention grabbing crap that dominates so many newscasts these days, because this festival is an important event for we local Rock And Roll Animals at RARA’s Farm.
So, some thoughts this year:
Best Act: There were some great sets: Frank Turner, A Day To Remember, The 1975, but everything else paled in comparison to Twenty One Pilots. This energetic, frenetic duo spent more time in the crowd than on the solid footing of the stage, sounded great, interacted with the crowd, and have clearly grown as artists since last year, when they were, um, the Best Act… Yup, two years in a row…(Check out our review of the 2012 Big Ticket here)
Best Song: “It’s Complicated” A Day To Remember. The crowd was already ratcheted up for these Ocala natives who were tearing through a powerful set. Then, they were pushed over the edge when lead singer Jeremy McKinnon crawled inside a big ball and sang this one from inside the ball, as the crowd bounced him around the park. Pretty damn cool!
Best Setlist: Lots of great songs and creative selections throughout the day, but lets nod the head to Jimmy Eat World. Every song was good, plenty of hits, and they threw in “Last Christmas,” the only holiday song during the day.
Best New Artist: (New to me anyway) – I really enjoyed Nothing More. Quite frankly, their music is a little rougher than my normal preference, but I liked their sound, and loved their stage show. Every band member of this foursome out of San Antonio made the same kind of impression this year that Twenty One Pilots made last year. Entertaining band…
Hottest Chick in a band: Incomplete. We saw seventeen bands throughout the day and every single performer had a Y chromosome. Apparently all of the talented Alt-Rock women were in the area earlier this year at the Coastline Festival.
Best Topless Moment: Nope, not what you think. In fact, I didn’t see any female breasts, but think there were at least five lead singers who performed at least part of their set topless. We saw shirtless performers from Pepper, The 1975, Black Bottom Lighters, Twenty One Pilots and our winner Frank Turner. Why him? Because after 60 plus shows, his shirt was grimier than the sheets at an hourly motel, and it needed to go…
Most Engaging Performer: Manchester Orchestra’s Andy Hull offered up some funny one liners, but this is Frank Turner’s specialty. He was funny, engaging and entertaining throughout his set, and his lyrics were witty and creative. He’s also a great storyteller and I loved hearing the recap of the Tour banner that a fan brought to a show in Cleveland and henceforth has somehow managed, with no help from the band, to be at every show on the tour.
Best Food: I have no clue, but the funnel cake sucked and the $7 hot dog was worse. The pizza, at least, was edible. Let’s give this one to Monster, not only because it was free, but I actually liked the taste of their Rehab offering.
That’s it for me. What did I miss? Let me know in the comments below.
For a full recap of the day, visit the RARA’s Farm 2013 Big Ticket Festival Recap.
The Big Ticket Festival Concert Review
The 2013 edition of The Big Ticket Festival came rolling through Florida over the weekend, providing a memorable rock and roll experience for the overflow crowds.
We have added links to all of our event photos at the bottom of this article. Please don’t forget to Follow Us on Twitter and Instagram for photos updates throughout the year, and to Like Us on Facebook to see all of our collections.
The event, co-sponsored by Jacksonville’s X102.9 historically features a broad spectrum of Alt-Rock acts, and serves as the highlight event for Alternative rock fans throughout Central Florida. This year was no different. Headlined by Thirty Seconds To Mars and the reformulated Stone Temple Pilots, we saw a harder edge then in prior years, but still quite a diverse offering of artists.
As it turned out, 21 was the key number for the day. Spread out over the sprawling Metropolitan Park, we were offered the chance to see twenty-one bands over the three stages. Over the course of the day, there were plenty of memorable highlights, but nothing more impressive than the amazing set from Twenty One Pilots.
30 Seconds to Mars and STP put on solid shows on the Main Stage, but in general, the smaller Jaegermeister Stage was the place to be. More on that later…
Let’s start with the Main Stage acts. Highlights included Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington making STP’s songs his own, and putting on his usual high energy show. Jimmy Eat World offered up forty minutes of non-stop hits, including a nice cover of “Last Christmas.” Crowd favorites, The Dirty Heads and Pepper (just three Coconut pokers from Hawaii) got the crowd into a nice ska/reggae groove. A distinctive pot odor permeated the crowd as both bands offered up fun, well-received sets, that seemed pretty much perfectly suited for the herb in the air.Local rockers, Breaking Through kicked off the main stage and looked and sounded perfectly at home on the big stage. We also saw Ocala’s own A Day To Remember command the crowd with a powerful and creative set, including stuffing front man and lead singer Jeremy McKinnon into a big inflatable ball and bouncing him through the crowd during the best show of the event,”It’s Complicated.” The crowd loved the local guys, and their amped performance clearly fed off of the energy. Aside from his trip around the venue in the big beach ball, McKinnon was a mad man all over the stage and sounded great.
The main stage action was good, but truthfully, it paled in comparison to the events on the Jaegermeister Stage. I was most excited to see Manchester Orchestra, but they truthfully were nothing special despite the fact they debuted some excellent new tracks. Austin rockers Saints Of Valory kicked off the second stage with a tight set that featured a fresh rock sound. They also offered up the best cover of the day with a killer version of Lorde’s “Royals.”
The 1975 were clearly one of the most anticipated acts, and they lived up to expectations, led by charismatic lead singer Matthew Healy, they made the trip to Florida all the way from Manchester, England. Nothing More followed and delivered a powerful performance. Their powerful mix of metal and hardcore sounded strong, but I was more impressed by their stage show. These guys were just fantastic, with all four band members also expert showmen, They do some very creative things on stage and are a band that is truly a must see act just dripping with potential.
The festival also brought us another opportunity to see Frank Turner, and artist who I feel is one of the best touring the country today (see my recent review). Accompanied by his uber-talented and hyper-energetic band The Sleeping Souls, they killed this, their 194th show of the year. They were a bit of an odd fit in the line-up, but walked away with many new fans. Turner interacted with the crowd more than any other performer, and was his typical smart ass self, and as usual sounded superb. And, “yes,” the fans managed to get the flag onto the stage, after hitting every stop on this tour since it debuted in Cleveland.
As good as Turner was, he was not the best act on the stage; that honor for the 2nd year in a row went to Twenty One Pilots. This duo out of Ohio, were astoundingly good live. Tyler Joseph is the lead singer and keyboard player, and he’s just a mad man on stage. He’s everywhere, he sounds great, he’s charming, he’s creative, he’s talented – in other words, he’s pretty damn good. Drummer Josh Dun is just as integral to the band’s success and also a great performer.
Highlights from their set, included a few new mandolin offerings, including a slick “Brown Eyed Girl” cover and their fantastic new single “House of Gold.” These guys are growing as musicians, impressive stuff, as they are already tremendous performers. At different times, we saw Joseph crowd surfing, Dun perched on a small drumkit being held aloft by the crowd, and later dueling kettle drum solos where Joseph and Dunn were both being carried above the crowd by the fans. They also did a bit of crowd-bonding through their new friend Austin, who led a bit of a group striptease with Joseph. Fun stuff!
Twenty One Pilots were our choice for best act at the 2012 (Read our review here) and have done it again this year. Looking forward to 2014 when they return for an evening slot on the Main Stage.
Big Ticket Festival Photos:
|Saints of Valory||Breaking through|
|The 1975||A Day To Remember|
|Nothing More||Manchester Orchestra|
|Frank Turner||Jimmy Eat World|
|Twenty One Pilots||Crowd Shots|