Tag Archives: live music

“Stripped Tour”, Meet Culture Room! – Starring Phil Barnes and We the Kings

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We arrived early and were lucky enough to make our way to the middle of the venue, just five people from the front. The bottoms of my feet were starting to ache from my heeled leather boots, but I shook off the feeling to maintain my place in the crowd. If any of you have been to an intimate venue, you know that it’s almost impossible to retain a spot if you leave for a moment. The concert go-ers were packed like sardines, and I had to wonder whether it was a hand or someone’s chest rubbing up against my back.

After thirty minutes or so of listening to some pretty vintage bands that I can honestly say I’ve never heard (for good reason), the lights began to flicker. The crowd was growing restless and you could feel the excited energy growing as we awaited the performance. I was under the impression that the show would strictly be We the Kings, but was pleasantly surprised by the stage entrance of an artist I had never seen or heard before: Phil Barnes.

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At first impression, he was handsome. Well dressed, a little scruffy, and it was apparent that, unlike many other music artists, he was humble even when on stage, in the spotlight. He began to strum, and suddenly the whole venue fell in silence. The warmth he brought to the stage could be felt for miles. He captured our attention and, despite everyone initially coming to the show to see We the Kings, cultivated a new group of diehard fans, me being one of them. However, I did have to roll my eyes from time to time between songs, as the rest of the crowd was still focused on the fact that he was attractive. “You’re hot!” they’d shout, laughing amongst themselves. His performance had me absorbing and internalizing the lyrics, swaying and singing along. I don’t think We the Kings could’ve ever had a better preliminary performance. Phil Barnes is a talent worth recognizing.

Shortly after, We the Kings made their way to the stage. This has been about the sixth time I’ve seen them live, but this time around, I would have to say, was better than the other performances I’ve seen by them. Three of the guys in the band, Charles Trippy, Danny Duncan, and Travis Clark, have YouTube channels which they essentially post their entire lives on, documenting each day through their vlogs. From watching these videos, you see the kind of friendship they have amongst themselves. The intimacy of the venue and the small-scale show cultivated their humor in a way that I had yet to see beyond their channels. It wasn’t just their music. The audience got to see the kind of people they were. Their silly jokes, banter amongst themselves and toward the crowd, and the awkward moments when the rain stick took the stage and blew everyone out of the water. I was so moved by the music that I only noticed the uncomfortable bruised feeling on my soles once I was able to make my way back to our car. You know it’s a good show when you forget that you’re in pain!

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My favorite moment in their set was when Travis Clark took to the piano in his poem/song about living your life, called “Is This the End?”. I was immediately drawn to his passion and emotional connectedness toward the lyrics. Even from the audience, I could feel the strength of his words. The piece deviated immensely from their general musical style, but I think that the deviation was an immensely positive one and I definitely think they should explore that style of expression in future pieces.

The dynamic that the band has when they’re together is something that many individuals, including me, would desire to have in their lives and even more so in their careers. They have friends for life within their group, a mutual desire for a larger, shared purpose, and I think that having that kind of family away from your own family is crucial to a fulfilled life. I could only hope that one day I could have a group of people that I could consider my own family as well, a group that supports and cultivates the same aspirations as forcefully and passionately as they do! I also thought it was incredibly admirable that they made the choice to do a “stripped” tour, a completely acoustic set, and traveled as lightly and minimally as they did on their very first musical tour. With a band as big as theirs, it’s important to acknowledge the roots from which they grew their career, and I believe that is a key to their success. They’re still willing to show their fans that they appreciate them and to express gratitude towards the support they’ve received from the start. Thank you, We the Kings, for bringing us back to where it all began once more. The nostalgia was worth every moment.

What was your take on the “Stripped” Tour?
Comment below!

Let’s Get WARPED!: A Relatively Small Review of a Monumental Day at Warped Tour 2014 in West Palm Beach, FL!

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Sidenote: I apologize for the time I’ve spent away from blogging. I’ve missed it intensely, but with Finals Week and working for the majority of my days, I feel like my brain has been on lockdown (that calendar up there? Yeah, that’s how I felt!). Yes, writing requires a brain, and no, when I’m tired, I cannot write. Writing can’t be forced. I know you’ve missed me immensely (I kid, but some of you said you have, so I’ll take your word on that!), and I’ve freakin’ missed you, too, so I’m glad that everything is finally settling again so I can continue to do what I love!

So let’s get to it. My personal, relatively brief review of Warped Tour 2014 at West Palm.

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Yesterday (July 26th, 2014), I attended Warped Tour 2014 in West Palm Beach, Florida for what felt like the millionth time! I’ve been legitimately going to Warped Tour for 10 years of my life and have never been disappointed. Not the rain nor the lightning I’ve experienced, the kick in the head that I endured from a crowd surfer, the rubbing of my sweaty clothes pasted to my skin with mud and dirt and whatever else I had accumulated from moving from one stage to another, the period-blood-covered bathroom stalls, or the large-and-in-charge, sweaty men in the crowds rubbing their sticky moobs on my back could ever make me love Warped Tour any less. Actually, believe it or not, all the crap that comes with it makes it a million times better. It’s grimy, sweaty, expensive, and busy beyond belief (running from one stage, to a meet and greet, to the next stage is like running a marathon, weaving through thousands of people walking at a crawling speed), but I count the minutes down until I can come back again. Nothing is like Warped Tour. I’ve fallen into such a deep, passionate love with Warped Tour that I don’t think any man could match up (again, just kidding, but it is rad). I’m committed to this heavenly experience.

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As you probably already know, I am a huge fan of the alternative-rock band, We the Kings, so they were responsible for a great deal of the excitement I had in going to Warped this year. I’ve seen them around 5 or 6 times live, even back when they were a somewhat smaller, less known band playing at Revolution in Fort Lauderdale, and they have always put on an exceptional performance. They were one of the first performances that I saw yesterday, as they had been put on the early side of the schedule. I had managed to strategize that, if I got to the front or close to the front during Breathe Carolina (which was also a million times better than I expected, because I had not seen them live before!) which was the performance that preceded them, that I would be able to glue myself down in the front during the We the Kings performance. So I shoved some elbows in peoples’ faces (sorry, I’m too excited for my own good) and apologized incessantly for doing so, and got close enough to basically feel Charles’ breath. Mhmm creepy. But I was close. If there were rows in the very front (in the standing area in front of the main stage at Cruzan Amphitheater), I would’ve been in around the second row. Their performance started with all of the band members coming out, one by one,  surrounded by their friends and family on stage, which I thought was really sweet and humble of them. It’s so great to see them perform after watching all of the band member’s vlogs on Youtube for so long. At that point, you feel as if you know them much more than you actually do. The crowd was entranced by the music and I certainly wasn’t excluded from this. I adored every single sweaty moment, jammed in the front so tight that I couldn’t bring my arms down in between songs (it felt like arms day). I ended up catching a guitar pick from Colie at the performance, which left me explosively happy and bubbly. I had been wanting a pick or drum stick since the first time I saw them perform so this was a major concert milestone. I was elated. The whole performance was phenomenal. The only thing I was legitimately disappointed about was that I did not meet a single band member this time around. I was looking forward to meeting Danny and Lindsay or Charles and Allie, but I think I might’ve come to the tent too late. Maybe I’ll run into them next time around.

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I did, however, finally get to meet the genius behind “Art of War” one of We the King’s more recent songs and one of my all time favorite songs, Taylor Clark. He is the equally talented and awesome brother of Travis Clark, the frontman of We the Kings. He was very sweet and I felt awful for knocking him off guard like I did. When I saw him, I practically jumped right into conversation mode, asking for a picture and talking his ear off I assume. He was very handsome and kind enough to let me stop him up while he was heading in the opposite direction, but that definitely contributed to the happiness of my day. (I can’t even fathom how I look “clean” in this picture. This was taken in the middle of the Florida heat, midday, so that’s an accomplishment in itself!)

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Another performance that I found to be notable was the performance by the reggae-rock band, Pacific Dub. They’re not as large as some of the other bands, but their stage presence is incomparable. The combination of the vocals and the instruments, the energy of the band members, and the reactions of the crowd was incredible. They had such a happy, mellow presence. I had met them after the show to tell them about how great their set was, and I ended up getting a few extremely photogenic pictures with them and had a lengthy conversation with the lead vocalist of the band, Colton Place. He exuded charm and charisma. They were all really chill, humble guys, and were happy to sign merch and meet with their fans. It was refreshing to see a band that was as personable as they were and I have the full intention of seeing them again soon (perhaps when they come up to Orlando?). Their second impression on me was just as good as their first.

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Later, I headed back to the main stage to check out Yellowcard because I had been listening to them significantly more lately and managed to learn all of their most popular songs while away at college (it’s a process to learn even the most popular ones!). I had all the words ready to be sung! I thought their performance was great at the least, however I felt like they had implemented some negative energy really early by calling people out for being tired during their show. It’s an all-day concert. The people who attend Warped Tour, unlike the ones who perform and can slip back into their air-conditioned buses when they need to, are stuck outside all day. I’m not complaining about being outside for the concert because I enjoy that aspect, but I thought it was out of line to bring that kind of negativity into the show. It shouldn’t bother bands that much if some people in the audience are tired after an entire day of running back and forth between stages, and it doesn’t bring new fans to the stage if one of the first statements that come out of a band member’s mouth is that these people should “get to the back so the real fans can come forward”. Get a grip. It left a bad taste in my mouth for the rest of the set.

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Despite the little things that bugged me, I found the whole experience of Warped Tour this year to be just as enchanting as the ones before it and I urge all of you music lovers to give Warped a go if you haven’t already. This tour provides so many opportunities to see a multitude of bands with different music styles in a comfortable, low-key environment. The bands are often walking around amongst the crowd (which doesn’t happen often in other venues or tours) and there’s so much to check out while on foot. They have a ton of merch tents manned by band members, pretty decent food for such a busy venue (it’s still a little on the pricey side, but I’m used to bringing my own food), and open areas to roam and watch the bands. I’d have to say that this year’s tour was in my top five of the ten years that I’ve gone. Until next year, my love!

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Did you attend Warped Tour 2014?

What were your thoughts?

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My Personal “Do”s and “Don’t”s for Warped Tour 2014! (WHO’S READY?!)

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It’s that time of year again when all of us concert-goers gather at one of the largest music tours across the United States: Warped Tour. This tour has been a personal favorite for me, as I have been going for many years, starting back when I was in middle school (which feels like an eternity ago). Last year, there were a decent number of instances where I found myself shaking my head at all the stuff that people end up bringing with them to the concert that really does not need to be there. So in light of that, I decided to make a list of personal “do”s and “don’t”s of Warped Tour for Warped Tour 2014!

Feel free to leave comments on your personal “do”s and “don’t”s!

DO

1. Do bring YOUR OWN water. Sometimes they take the caps off the water bottles you bring inside(so they aren’t chucked at the musicians, which I understand better now that I’ve gone there for a few years already), so if that’s the case, at least you still have the bottle to refill at the water station (a station they provide to concert go-ers to keep them hydrated). You’ll be happy you did. In Florida, at least, it is blistering hot and you’re going to be there for at least a couple of hours (I usually stay from opening time to closing), so it’s important to keep this in mind. Let’s be honest, too. You don’t want to pay $4 for a water bottle…That’s enough to buy a pack of ’em.

2. Do wear comfortable clothing (and maybe a bathing suit underneath). It feels pretty lucky when it drizzles at Warped Tour, but rain or shine, having a bathing suit gives the concert go-er the utmost comfort. One year, and I remember this clearly, the rain had poured so hard, and I remember having my clothes soaked through with rain and feeling uncomfortable for hours after. It was a total mess. In hindsight, I really should’ve checked the forecast and dressed accordingly.

3. Bring a camera. It’s always a good thing to be able to record your memories for later viewing. There’s so much that Warped Tour has to offer that it would be a true shame to not remember it in years to come. And who knows! You might run into a band member you’d kill to take a photo with, or win a VIP pass and really want to document the lucky moment (I won 2 meet-and-greets before and was lucky to have a charged and ready camera on hand!!). This one is essential!

4. Check out the band list and plan (at least a little bit) ahead of time so you can attend accordingly. There are going to be many different bands playing at the same time. You need to know which ones you have to see, which ones you’d like to see, and which ones you wouldn’t care if you missed. What I usually do is look on the http://vanswarpedtour.com website and make a list with categories to ensure that I don’t miss a show I NEED to see.

5. Go with someone with similar music interest (if you’re not going alone). You can get so caught up being in the group dynamic that you might end up going with the flow and missing some shows that you would love to see, but that your friends don’t care for. It’s easier going with someone with similar music taste for obvious reasons.

DON’T

1. DO NOT WEAR FLIP FLOPS OR NEW SHOES. I cannot stress this enough. People step on the back of your flip flop, it snaps apart, and then you have no shoes. Not having shoes at Warped Tour is a horrible risk, with glass and other rubble on the ground. Sneakers (VANS?) are the best option, but well-secured sandals can do too if you don’t mind strange tan lines on your feet (maybe get some fake tan in a bottle to prepare for the aftermath). Oh and new shoes will be obliterated. That’s self-explanatory.

2. DO NOT DRINK AND DRIVE. I see people getting trashed every year, which is fine, but please make sure that the driver of the car you’re going to be in is sober. You don’t want to lose your life that night out of negligence. Plus, if you’re the driver and you have to remain sober, it’ll still be fun for you too! You don’t need to get drunk to have a good time!

3. DO NOT WEAR LAYERS. It.will.be.so.hot. Light material (light colored shirts are even better) t-shirts or tank tops, bikinis (or swim trunks), and comfortable shorts are crucial. You’re going to have soaked-through clothing regardless, but it will be less uncomfortable if your clothes are breezy.

4. BE A MINIMALIST. DON’T PACK YOUR HOUSE. You only need a backpack, THE TICKETS, your wallet, sunscreen, some water (as noted above), and a place to put merch (if you’re planning on buying some while you’re there) and anything else you need to carry (maybe those broken flip flops?). Only bring the absolute essentials, because you’re going to be carrying everything ALL DAY. Having 20 pounds of bs on your back is going to be brutal as you’re walking from stage to stage.

5. SUNSCREEN MUST BE EVERYWHERE ON YOUR BODY AND REAPPLIED FREQUENTLY. You will burn like overcooked bacon if you don’t take care of your skin. I don’t care if you’re light, dark, somewhere in the middle. You NEED it. Don’t risk getting skin cancer over laziness. It’s easily preventable! Make sure it’s at least SPF 30, and don’t forget to not only put it on the common places you apply sunscreen, but also your chest and feet (as the skin is really thin and vulnerable in those places).

Have fun guys, and make sure you’re prepared to rock because this Warped Tour is going to be a day to remember! Be ready for what’s to come!

Do you have any tips or tricks for other Warped Tour fanatics?

COMMENT BELOW!