We Do What We Want: Emery concert with Oh, Sleeper and Hawkboy

In the summer, Fresno is a hot place.

Last night, though, it was abnormally hot–an unusual pattern consisting of Hawkboy, Oh, Sleeper, and Emery blew in with a gust of summer winds and ended up completely melting all in its path.

Yeah, it was that awesome. If you don’t believe me, you should keep reading. And not pay attention to how bad the pictures look. It’s not my fault that I can’t keep people’s heads out of the shots, I’m just a short chick with a digital. Sorry. Anyways…

It isn’t often that I go to a show where I’m completely stoked to see every band playing. But the We Do What We Want Tour for me was a stacked lineup of bliss.

After two local bands opened, Corsair and Antidote for Anxiety, the two-piece band Hawkboy played. Cody Bonnette and Aaron Lunsford, members of former band As Cities Burn, brought on some stellar prog rock with a setlist including “Two Bit,” “Scoundrel,” and “Damnkneesya” from their new self-titled EP, stripped-down versions of “errand rum” and “pirate blues” from As Cities Burn’s Hell or High Water, and a Pedro the Lion cover.

According to Cody, Hawkboy will be writing some more songs after they finish their scheduled touring, and from the sound of their EP and performance, future raw music seems to be in store for them. I’m excited.

Metalcore act Oh, Sleeper followed, energy cranked up to extremely high levels of head banging. They are the reason there should be special massage places opened for people with post-concert neck trauma.

“Vices Like Vipers” (off of debut album When I Am God) began the setlist perfectly with its soft opening verse that built up to a barrage of Micah Kinard’s wrenching howls and gut-punching guitars of Shane Blay and James Erwin, sending the crowd into a frenzy that continued through performances of tracks off of  Son of the Morning, including “New Breed,” “Son of the Morning,” “In All Honesty,” and “World Without the Sun”–circle pit, anyone?–with “Reveries of Flight” and “The Finisher” saved for a powerful ending.

Cody Bonnette also popped in to add his vocals for “In All Honesty.”

Micah Kinard–Don’t let any of the promotion pictures fool you. This guy is a total sweetie.

Emery reigned supreme as the headliner. Fresh with new album We Do What We Want, this melodic rock/post-hardcore band had plenty to encourage the crowd to sing/headbang/dance/mosh/die from awesomeness.

Let’s see…Well, first they started with a pumped classic “So Cold I Could See My Breath” (off of The Question), then played let’s-dance-and-punch-each-other new song “Cheval Glass,” which was followed by “The Smile, The Face” via In Shallow Seas We Sail. Sounds good so far?

After rocking through “Scissors” and “The Butcher’s Mouth,” Emery toned it down with acoustic versions of The Weak’s End songs “Fractions” and “The Ponytail Parades,” along with a beautifully somber new track “I Never Got to See the West Coast.”

“The Curse of Perfect Days,” a song inspired by an actual nightmare of lead singer Tobey Morell, kicked the energy back into gear, with time left for “Listening to Freddy Mercury” and scream-in-your-face “Walls.” Still catching our breaths from the last song, the band delighted the crowd by returning onstage for an encore performance of “Studying Politics.”

Super raw.

Oh and we also got a picture with their merch guy, too, who’s actually Jake Ryan of Queen’s Club. He’s super rad and likes Qdoba.

A Current Affair concert with Anthem Lights

My life is so full of music right now, it makes me happy.

1. I come home from college to find my brother had bought The Black Keys‘ latest album, Brothers. Check yes.

2. Since I’m home from college, I get to drive a car again. That means lots of listening to music on the road with the speakers turned up too loud.

3. I got me some new CDs. I bought Oh, Sleeper’s Son of the Morning and Sigur Ros‘ latest album Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust–you know you’re music ADD when you buy metalcore and Icelandic post-rock on the same day–and the other day I found an autographed Between the Trees album at the Neighborhood Thrift Store for 1.99. Sweet.

4. Most importantly, I went to go see A Current Affair play with Anthem Lights down in Clovis with a bunch of friends.


Chill concert + awesome friends + awesome music = *insert face of happiness here*

Arty Contreras–a local worship-rock band–opened, followed by Saving Temperance. Rocking a garage-band sort of vibe with hints of Paramore, they played a rather headbang-worthy cover of Yellowcard‘s “Only One.”

They were a pretty fun band, and we got to the chance to hang out with the lead singer for a little after the show. She’s super rad because she knits things during the drives between shows and sells them on the band’s merch table.

And then there was this band A Current Affair…

So…I’ve been listening to this band since I was a sophomore in high school–back in the days when they were still playing screamo rock.

Now I’m grown up and in college and the band has switched up a little more than just their sound–as they geared into a more melodic rock angle, one of my guy friends got caught in the gear and now plays guitar for them…and he hooked in another guy we knew from college to play bass for the summer.

So stuff happened, and, as I mentioned earlier, I got together with a bunch of friends and we came out to support, the raw rock way.

They hit off their set with their new single “Hear it Now” and jammed out some songs from EP The Real Devastation, including “The Thief” and “Under My Skin.” There was jumping and some head banging.

And then I got a major surprise (I’m talking about a whoa-dude-they’re-playing-this-freakin-legit-song-by-this-band-that-died-forever-ago status surprise) when they broke out with a cover of Acceptance’s “So Contagious.” And they totally killed it.

The band finished up with an original worship song, ending with a powerful breakdown.

When the headlining band, Anthem Lights, arrived on-stage, you would’ve thought Justin Bieber had showed up. Apparently these guys were something like a Christian version of Backstreet Boys/Big Time Rush, no joke.

They played an acoustic cover of Bruno Mars’ “Just The Way You Are.”

We were laughing most of the time. Afterwards, my friend Cathy said:

“They’re so precious, I have to get a picture with them!”A precious picture, for sure.

But a snapshot with our A Current Affair buddies? The Awesome Factor definitely surpasses precious.

Showbread concert–raw rock killed and now I am dead

Picture this: for the first time in your life, your favorite band comes to town. And when I say “favorite band,” I mean that one band that you’ve been listening to since you were a freshman in high school, the one that you could identify every song after only a second of it has been played, the one with the lead singer you would do almost anything to meet–that one band who helped inspire you to discover your passion in life.

So what do you do when you hear that band is coming to a local venue for a FREE show?

Well, if you’re like me, you start screaming. Or want to start screaming but can’t because you’re really actually too excited to be able to audibly scream.

(Official tour flier)

On Tuesday, March  8th, I went to my first Showbread concert. On Tuesday, March 8th, I finally met Josh Dies, lead singer of Showbread.

Because the band is on a free tour as a part of their music mission and signing with ComeandLive!, the show was hosted in the small setting of a church’s youth group room. I have a feeling that the acoustics of the room were not quite meant for a rock concert. I also have a feeling a lot of the people that attended were from said youth group. In other words, it was a rather humble concert.

But humble settings cannot prevent Raw Rock; that night, guitars were shredded and heads banged, drums were smashed and eardrums thrashed, and “Raw Rock Theology” was soundly delivered. In the words of Showbread, Raw Rock killed.

The concert began with “I Never Liked Anyone and I’m Afraid of People,” from Showbread’s newest album, Who Can Know It? Much of the setlist featured this album, including “Hydra,” “Man With a Hammer,” and “You’re Like a Taxi.” Though I would classify Who Can Know It? as the band’s most “chill” album, the live version of it certainly was not “chill.” Though its overall tempo is slower than previous albums, the performance surprised me by its driving intensity, and the drummer was having problems keeping himself from almost destroying his kit.

During one of these songs, the band strapped lights on their heads, while the rest of the crowd broke out their flashlights.

In addition to playing off of Who Can Know It?, almost every other Showbread album was represented by at least one song, including “So Selfish it’s Funny” from their first album No Sir, Nihilism is Not Practical and “The Death” off of concept album Nervosa.

Songs from The Fear of God, “Nothing Matters Anymore” and “Regret Consumes Me,” cranked the headbang thermometer, ensuring a sore neck for me the following morning. And when Josh Dies announced, “This next song is about a dinosaur,” I almost passed out with a delighted shriek because I knew one of the I-dream-about-hearing-this-live songs was coming up, “Pachycephalosaurus.” And now you know exactly how obsessed I am.

The concert finished off with the slow jam “Age of Reptiles,” a parabolic song about the redemption of crocodiles and serpents.

After the last notes faded out, a brief session of “Raw Rock Theology” was given by Josh Dies. Following his establishment of the band’s mission and their stance as Christians, he addressed the poor stereotype of Christians in America by first apologizing for those people that hatefully judged others in the name of Jesus and then encouraging those who identified themselves as Christians to prove the stereotype wrong by loving the recipients of hate and the outcasts of society. Short, inspiring, and raw.

Then the band left the stage and to hang out with the audience for the rest of the night. I talked a little bit with each band member, gathering each of their autographs before I finally went to meet Josh Dies.

Now, he’s the type of guy I would love to just sit and watch because the essence of his personality is so funny. But I found out that he’s also the type of guy that wants to engage others in his silliness; he’d make a joke and then look at me or someone standing near him like friends do when they’re trying to make each other laugh. Can we be best friends, please?

Besides being absurdingly legit, he signed my copy of his book Nevada.

I tried my best to tell him how much I loved his writing, but you know how trying to communicate your deep admiration for your hero goes…

But I did get a classic silly-picture-with-the-band-guy! (Complete with red eye)

It goes without saying that I strongly encourage any and all to witness such Raw Rock.

If you’re interested in checking out Showbread, you can download their free album by following the link on their site, showbread.net. You can also support their ministry by donating through comeandlive.com or on the band’s donation page here.

Dates with Switchfoot

If Switchfoot asked me on a date, I imagine I would say yes. I imagine we would go surfing. Switchfoot seems like the let’s-surf-together-for-a-date type. And we would definitely get ice cream afterwards.

(Jon Foreman in the surf at Switchfoot’s Bro-Am…Photo credit not mine)

But stuff like that doesn’t really happen, which is too bad.

So instead, I went to a Switchfoot concert at a Date Festival. The Riverside County Fair & National Date Festival, that is.

Each year in the Coachella Valley, the Date Palm Harvest is celebrated by a 10-day fair festival that features the classic fair-style fried food, the spin-around-till-you-barf-all-the-fried-food-you-just-ate roller coaster rides, lots and lots of overpriced stuff to buy, and music entertainment.

Particular to the Date Festival is an Arabian theme that includes ostrich races, camel rides, a Queen Pageant, and a small showcase of exotic animals. And besides the regular fair kitsch, there are a lot of neat cultural things to buy, too, like Mexican sweaters, ponchos, and blankets, along with Native American jewelry, and hand-tooled leather purses. I definitely spent way too much time gazing over the Native American jewelry, which could have pulled me completely out of college if I had a spending problem. I did end up getting an ear cuff which probably isn’t antique at all, but it’s cute and it has a turquoise stone in it.

And, of course, what’s a Date Festival without Dates? I split a Date Shake with my roommate, and let me tell you, the hype about them is completely true. Basically, a Date Shake is a vanilla shake in it with dates (some recipes add vanilla extract, too), which I figure is somewhat akin to how Red Velvet Cupcakes are just regular cupcakes except with a major kick in them from the cocoa powder.

(Not a very good picture of a Date Shake)

Switchfoot was also kind enough to take a break from recording their new album Vice Verses and come chill with us at the Date Festival that night. Except when I say “chill with us,” I mean “they played some music on a stage and we screamed at them.”

There was plenty for us to scream about too, because the setlist was unbearably awesome, including “Stars,” “The Sound,” “Meant to Live,” “Dare You to Move,” “Bullet Soul,” “Mess of Me,” and “Your Love is a Song,” amongst many others.

If you ever have a chance to see Switchfoot…do it. The band gives a tight performance with stellar sound quality and loves to engage the crowd by directing everyone to contribute vocally during certain parts of the songs (like the whoa-ohs in “Awakening”).

And Jon Foreman can play the mandolin, featured in the song “Hello Hurricane,” which the band played for their encore.

Oh, and apparently he likes to climb things, too.

He’s one of those guys that just makes me want to smile.