By Ashley Gallagher
In late 2013, Albany-natives State Champs released their debut studio album, The Finer Things. The album debuted at number two on the Billboard Heatseekers chart, and it is safe to say that the fire never stopped for this band. Since then, the band has released two more albums, played the Warped Tour main stage, released a DVD, and went around the world and back again, and again, and again.
However, no matter how many people they play to, they never forget the feeling of smaller more intimate shows and of course, their hometown.
On December 28th and 39th, the band headlined House of Independents in Asbury Park, New Jersey and the Upstate Concert Hall in Clifton Park, New York, making it a hometown show, as a part of their two-day Holiday Tour. They brought Young Culture, In Her Own Words, Save Face, and A Will Away along to support them at the show.
Young Culture, a fellow Albany band, started the show with songs off of the various EPs they have out. They had energy throughout the whole set and got the crowd to move along, even if they didn’t know the who they were. The energy for this band differed in New York as it did New Jersey and you could tell how much they enjoyed playing to fans from where they are from.
Next was In Her Own Words and Save Face. In Her Own Words started off good, but as the set went on it sounded rather repetitive, however, their stage presence was very good. Save Face, who are from New Jersey, have grown from the last time I saw them in a small bar venue. They are one of my favorite bands to watch due to their energy on stage.
A Will Away travelled from Connecticut to support State Champs and told a story about how the first time they saw State Champs was at another holiday show where they were supporting Hit The Lights. From that moment on, they knew State Champs were going to be a very successful band.
State Champs set up their stage with a mix of Christmas trees, Christmas lights on the drum set, faux presents, and inflatable dogs with Santa hats. Even the tiger logo on the drum set had a Santa hat on it.
They played The Finer Things from start to finish before continuing with their newer songs, and a fan favorite (that is never played) Shades of Gray. In Albany, they played If I’m Lucky, which was played after album was finished because it is on the acoustic EP that featured a bunch of songs from The Finer Things.
Lead singer, Derek DiScanio stated that they hope to make the Holiday Shows an annual event, so hopefully, we can look forward to that in the future.
Stream The Finer Things here:
Tis’ the season for punk-rock Christmas shows all across America and local San Jose rock band, Get Married, joined in on the fun on Dec. 22nd to host their second annual Holiday Party featuring Stickup Kid, Small Crush, and New Fossils at San Jose’s premier small music venue, The Art Boutiki. About two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend Every Time I Die’s annual Tid’ the Season Christmas show and it was an experience I will never forget. The holidays are always a special time, but this year, both Every Time I Die and Get Married both achieved milestones on the day of their shows. December 15th was officially announced as Every Time I Die Day in the city of Buffalo, NY during Every Time I Die’s set at their show, and Get Married played their first ever sold out show at their Holiday Party, hitting a huge milestone in both of their careers as bands. This was my first local San Jose show in a long time. Being that I had been gone for a full year, I was craving some of my hometown music, and Get Married provided a night full of all of my favorite Bay Area bands, new and old.
The Holiday Party kicked off with New Fossils taking the stage by storm. I have been lucky enough to be able to watch New Fossils grow from being just lead singer, Shane Mitbo and drummer, Cal Bailey, to the intricate project it is today. Shane’s older EP’s feature a very heavy influence of pop-punk and his signature piano melodies whereas his newest EP “Negative Thinking” relies more on synth and incorporates more emo rap into the tracks. Saturday’s set was a perfect start to the evening; a packed Art Boutiki was clearly impressed by New Fossils’ performance, to the point where I kept hearing fans eagerly asking others after the set, “Who was that band that just played?!” Shane even was able to rouse a few laughs out of
the crowd when he made a remark about being honored to play with Get Married because they are “the dads of their scene”, Get Married politely passed on the title to Stickup Kid during their set because “they can’t be that old, yet”. Overall, New Fossils truly set the mood for the evening: an energetic, yet lowkey night in San Jose.
Next to hit the stage was Small Crush, a female-fronted indie rock band who absolutely stole my heart. Following a band like New Fossils is a tough challenge, but they crushed it (pun intended). Small Crush eloquently describes their music as “[being] derived from many small crushes, evoking a sincere and intense conviction too often lost in adulthood”. Lead singer, Logan Hammon, definitely captured everyone’s hearts on Saturday night with her talent, but for me at least, it isn’t a small crush; I hope I am able to see Small Crush live in an intimate venue like The Art Boutiki as much as I can before they take off and capture the world’s hearts.
Third was Stickup Kid, San Jose’s pop-punk legends. Since 2012, Stickup Kid has been a staple in every San Jose pop punk kid’s playlist, and surprisingly, this was the first time I was able to catch them live. Everyone in the crowd enjoyed their set, whether it was older fans who knew almost every song they played, or the younger generations who may not know any of their songs. Stickup Kid’s pop-punk jams were definitely transition from Small Crush’s indie rock vibes to Get Married’s rock n’ roll sound. Finally, Get Married took the stage and played their first ever sold out show in their short three years of being a band. Get Married is clearly loved in the city of San Jose, the energy in the room during their set showed the true support Get Married has from their hometown; the only other place I have felt an energy like that was during the Every Time I Die Christmas show in their hometown. To me, that is admirable considering Every Time I Die has been around for 20 years and Get Married has only been around since 2015; it proves that Get Married has the strong hometown support system to accomplish the amazing things that Every Time I Die has accomplished in their 20 years. At points during the show, lead singer, Jaake Margo, even had to step back from the microphone and watch the crowd sing their lyrics in awe and deep appreciation for the love, at one point saying that that was the only Christmas present he needed this year. Get Married’s Holiday Party was a great night of amazing music and good vibes, and that is the only Christmas present I needed this year.
By: Haley Sousa
Manchester Orchestra and The Front Bottoms Co-Headline Tour
Main Street Armory-Rochester, NY
Words and Photography By: Chandler Poczciwinski
It is hard to not be excited when two of the best indie bands decide to co-headline a tour together. When the two bands are Manchester Orchestra (Atlanta, GA) and The Front Bottoms (Woodcliff Lake, NJ), you know you are in store for a very special treat. Alone, both of these bands could book a headlining tour that would experience great success. However, by coming together MO and TFB created an unforgettable night for the excited Rochester crowd.
To start of the evening, singer-songwriter Shannen Moser treated the crowd with her small acoustic trio. Playing songs off her recently released album I’ll Sing (September 7, 2018), Shannen Moser was a great start to the evening. Even though the small group only took up a fraction of the huge stage, their sound would fill up the venue like the calm before the storm.
As expected, Manchester Orchestra brought a storm that only they can bring. However, this storm is not like most, constantly hitting the shoreline with ruthless wind and waves. This is a dynamic storm, at one moment it hits you hard, directly in the chest, causing the unavoidable effect of head banging and air drumming. Yet, the next moment is met with an immense calm, a beautiful calm, like you would experience while watching the sunset on the mountainside. While this metaphor might seem unnecessary, however, after you see Manchester Orchestra live, you will understand. This show was not my first experience with Manchester Orchestra, I first saw them this summer at the Alternative Buffalo 107.7 Kerfuffle at Canalside Buffalo. I’m not going to lie, when MO first took the stage for their set I was occupied with trying to find a spot to escape the summer heat.
However, I can specifically remember when they went into the bridge of their song “Shake It Out” off their 2009 album Mean Everything To Nothing. This beautiful noise caused me to leave my comfy shaded spot to join the crowd once again, and not take my eyes off MO for the rest of their set. That day, Manchester Orchestra proved to me not only their unbelievable sound but also their ability to take a crowd through a whole emotional journey during a 30 minute set. Their set in this chilly Rochester night, would again take the crowd on a journey (except this time for a little over an hour). Overall, Manchester Orchestra’s vast collection of songs and ability to create a set that has as many ups and downs as a rollercoaster, creates a live experience that you will want to watch from beginning to end.
Next to take the stage was The Front Bottoms, and let me tell you they really brought their A-game for this tour. This was my first experience seeing The Front Bottoms live, however I did listen to their entire discography while on a 13 hour drive to Wisconsin, so you could definitely say that I was excited to finally catch them live. Along with a huge band that had not one, but two drummers, there was a full bar on stage, complete with bottles and a beer tap. However, this bar didn’t stay vacant, throughout the set multiple stage/tech crew members would hop on stage and take a seat at the bar as TFB sang one of their many catchy hit songs. Even the Shannen Moser trio, took a seat on stage to enjoy what must be, a live music experience like no other. The crowd ate up every second of the set, singing along to the lyrics word for word like they wrote them themselves. The Front Bottoms have one of those infectious sounds that both long time fans with first time listeners can really enjoy. Between, Manchester Orchestra’s emotional and dynamic rock set, and The Front Bottoms with their infectiously catchy hooks, this was a night that will be hard to beat.