Thursday, September 1, 2011

A Letter From The Editor

Hello all. Josh here (the founder/editor of this little blog you're reading). I decided to make this post a bit more personal than others just to let you all know why there's been nothing happening on Backstage Press for the past few weeks.

Most of you that have been following us for a while know we're a New England-based blog. And if you flipped on the news at any point last week, you probably saw that the entire East Coast of the US was getting beaten up by Hurricane Irene.

By the time Irene reached us up north, it had been downgraded to a tropical storm, but it still had plenty of strength left. We lost power on Sunday at 5 a.m., and as I write this now (9:30 p.m. on Thursday) we still don't have power. And the State of Connecticut is saying we probably won't get power back until sometime next week. Joy.

Needless to say, we weren't prepared for this. And if you're curious, I was able to find an internet connection and a working plug to get this info out.

And to make matters even more stressful, I'm currently in the middle of a move. Believe it or not, I need a 9 - 5 job to survive (just like the rest of you). And having just accepted a position in Massachusetts, I'm busy packing, finding a place to live and balancing my check book so the transition will (hopefully) go smooth.

But I just want to let everyone know that I have not abandoned Backstage Press. I have a list of reviews, news and other good stuff I want to get to in the coming month.

So for now I'm just taking a little break from writing and the Twitter machine to get my own life in order. But rest assured things will be up and running shortly.

And as always, thanks for sticking by. I've always said my readers are the reason I do this. I love you all. Check back soon, kids.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Show Review: blink-182 Hartford, CT

Neither New England's rainy weather nor Travis Barker's busted up hands could keep blink-182 and their droves of Connecticut fans from the Hartford stop of the Honda Civic Tour last Sunday night. Playing to a nearly full house at the Comcast Theatre (their first show there in nearly two years), the band presented themselves as a cohesive trio who are once again comfortable enough with each other to take some chances on stage.

The SoCal natives opened up with their hit single, "Feeling This" off their 2003 Self-Titled effort. With the crowd warmed up, blink immediately jumped into "Up All Night", the first track released from their upcoming LP, Neighborhoods.

As the set continued, it was clear that blink had found their stride again. They seemed much more comfortable with each other on this tour than their previous North American tour in 2009 where their stage banter and song choices were more reserved.

Perhaps that was best demonstrated after "What's My Age Again?" when guitarist Tom DeLonge slipped on stage. As if it were the late 90s again, bassist Mark Hoppus wasted no time in making fun of his fallen comrade. But never to be outdone, DeLonge shot back, taking a dig at Hoppus' mother - which even got a rise out of drummer Travis Barker.

From that point on, the show proved very lighthearted and fun. Between songs, blink even busted out some rarely heard material from their earlier years including "Family Reunion", "Happy Holidays, You Bastard" and a short, mashed up cover of My Chemical Romance's "Na Na Na".

The band also made sure to cover all their bases, playing cult favorites such as "Man Overboard", "Carousel", "Down" and "Josie", amongst others. In addition to the hits, blink flew seamlessly through another three brand new songs from Neighborhoods - "After Midnight", "Heart's All Gone" and "Ghost On The Dancefloor".

But, as with any amphitheater performance, the show was much more than the music. Blink managed to put together a set design that was bigger and more visual than anything they'd previously had. Complete with moving LCD screens, a laser light show, fog machines and the unforgettable Travis Barker drum solo high above the crowd in the pit, the band have proved that outdoing themselves is an understatement.

Blink were supported at this show by the Atlanta, Georgia outfit, Manchester Orchestra and the goth-emo rockers, My Chemical Romance. For more information on tour dates near you, click HERE.

And take a look at some of Backstage Press' photos from the front row. We'd also like to give a shout-out to our new friends who held it down front row in the pit with us - Joe, Kyle, Andy, Big Lou and Abby. You guys rule!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Angels & Airwaves Premiere Their Film, "LOVE"

Since 2005, when the world first learned about Angels & Airwaves, rumors have been swirling about a movie release to accompany the band's music and overall message. And on Wednesday night, after five years of production and slight secrecy, the band debuted their feature film entitled, LOVE, as a one-night-only special event broadcasted in 500 theaters across the United States.

For eager fans and movie buffs, the film stood as a glance into the more matured mind of AVA lead singer Tom DeLonge and his fellow band mates. Prior to the start of the presentation the band chose to show four vignettes following a multitude of characters while they described their experiences with the most base form of human emotion, love.

From a soldier torn from his family, to an old motorcycle racer bracing himself for a fight with an unnamed brain disease, the vignettes were set as a sort of prologue to get the audience's minds moving. In a college lecture kind of way, the pre-show had you asking yourself, "What does 'love' mean to me?"

The Film
As the feature opened in the chaotic setting of a Civil War battle, we found ourselves following a soldier who was given the chance to escape combat and head west. As the shot closed, he was writing in his journal - penning words that would spark one of the most existential journeys to one man's life, hundreds of years in the future.

Cut to that distant future and Captain Lee Miller aboard the International Space Station, 220 miles above the Earth's surface. He is alone with only a treadmill and a few laptops that connect him back to mission control. Everything seems alright in the first few minutes of the scene, but suspense builds as we are swiftly introduced to the daily habits of our protagonist spaceman.

Amid the occasional sound of AVA intros, we are immersed in the totality of Miller's seclusion and isolation. The audience is never really able to acclimate themselves with anything familiar besides Miller's basic emotions.

As everything is just starting to feel normal, it happens - Miller loses contact with Earth. In a frantic need for human response, he spends what could be hours, days or weeks trying to repair the broken communication portals. But nothing works. Then finally, the message comes. All he has left is one short radio transmission letting him know that he is in fact, alone.

The following bulk of the film dips into the psyche of the abandoned astronaut. He develops an odd relationship with a woman in a photograph. He plays cards against himself, dealing two hands after every shuffle. His living space becomes a wreck, undoubtedly mirroring the personal torment and loneliness in his own head. And then, in one last attempt to fix his ship, Miller somehow discovers that journal from the Civil War solider.

The diary becomes his last reason for survival. Reading it is his inspiration to save his own life.

It's at this point where reality, thought and emotion blur into an almost incomprehensible state. Six years have gone by and nothing seems real anymore. It's clear the film is coming to a close because we suddenly have more questions than answers, and there is no way Miller is making it out alive - if he is even alive anymore to begin with.

In what can best be described as a dream, Miller is suddenly on board a city-like abandoned space vessel. He walks down its halls before finding a book with his name in it where he learns he is the last remaining survivor of mankind. And in another flash of cinematic effects and existential thought, Miller is all alone in space with the planets revolving around him.

And thus the movie ends. Is he God? Is he dead? Is this a dream? Did any of this ever happen? Who knows. LOVE is like an acid trip at a planetarium. It's virtually unexplainable and extremely hard to grasp. But inevitably, it gets you thinking. And after all, isn't that what art is supposed to do?

After show
After the film, a live-feed from Boston's Paradise Rock Club was broadcast to theaters nationwide as AVA took to the stage for a three-song performance. The band fumbled through "Everything's Magic", "Start The Machine" and "The Adventure" with an electronic drum kit and two synthesizers in place of guitars.

Following the performance was a Q&A session with DeLonge, as well as LOVE's director and lead actor. It was then that DeLonge announced LOVE II, the CD/DVD, would be released on November 11 of this year. And finally, to cap the night off right, AVA premiered a video for their new song "Anxiety" off the upcoming record.

For more information on LOVE II and other news on AVA, visit and continue to follow Backstage Press on Twitter.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Dan Andriano - Hurricane Season Review

Following in the footsteps of his Alkaline Trio counterpart Matt Skiba, bassist Dan Andriano will be releasing his debut solo album, Hurricane Season, on August 9. Playing under the moniker Dan Andriano in the Emergency Room, the 34-year-old bassist is delivering a 10-track wonder that's some of his freshest and most personal work yet.

Hurricane Season is a deeply intimate look into Andriano's life as it stands today. The love for his family, his fear of losing them and his struggle with finding a sense of home in Florida (after spending years living in Chicago) are all themes that dominate the record. After more than a decade on the road with the Trio, Andriano used his solo platform as a sort of apology to his wife and daughter - the two of whom he had been away from for months at a time while pursuing a musical career.

Take for instance the album's third song, "Hollow Sounds". The soft acoustic track is what Andriano described to Alternative Press as a sort of "'I miss you' song, with a hint of, 'I know I'm gone a lot, but please don't leave me.'" And this certainly holds true as Andriano compares his unrelenting need for a cigarette to the longing he feels for his wife. "I want to light you up and take you deep inside my lungs/Well maybe you can shine your light inside on all the damage that I've done."

As the record progresses, it becomes evident that while his insecurities might be running on high, Andriano has come to terms with them and has put them to the wayside to just enjoy the present. During the album's ninth track, "The Last Day We Ever Close Our Eyes", he paints a picture of finding happiness with his loved ones as the world around them crumbles.

"And when they finally kill the lights, you get the glass, I'll pour the wine/On the last day that we ever close our eyes."

Ultimately what you're getting on this record are themes focused inward, rather than the usual dark and macabre scenarios played out on most of Alkaline Trio's discography. It's a completely different and fresh side of an artist that most people thought they had pegged. That itself is was makes this album worthwhile.

Hurricane Season stands as a journey of sorts that takes the listener through all the deep inner workings of a man struggling to find his place in life and hold onto it. What starts off as shaky and insecure in the beginning of the record develops into something that's happy and fulfilled at the end. At varying times, Hurricane Season is depressing, uplifting and funny, but somehow it remains catchy and honest throughout.

Simply put, the record is a must have for Alkaline Trio fans and anyone who likes things slowed down just a bit. You can preview a few tracks from the album below.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

2011 Honda Civic Tour Preview

Consistency has always been a strong point for the Honda Civic Tour, who year after year seem to bring the biggest and most popular bands of the day together for a summer concert spectacle that's like no other. And in just days, the tour will once again kick off its North American journey with two of the most heavy-hitting names in alternative rock: blink-182 and My Chemical Romance.

Southern California natives blink-182 are touring the United States and Canada for the first time since their summer 2009 reunion tour, which proved a massive success. Armed with a brand new, edgy single, "Up All Night", and a new record on the way (rumored to drop on September 27th), it's clear that blink are ready to bring new life to the term "rock show."

They're returning to play this, the 10th anniversary of the Honda Civic Tour - a tour they helped christen back in 2001 alongside Everclear.

In an interview on the Honda Civic Tour Facebook page, Mark Hoppus commented on what fans can expect to see during the coming tour. "We try and one-up every single tour and have each tour have its own look. We spent a lot of time with the set designers working on the sets, and lighting shows and things like that."

Considering their 2009 tour featured confetti machines, 20+ songs per set and Travis Barker performing drum solos while being spun high above the heads of the pit crowd, this coming tour should be a sight to see. Besides, this will be the first time fans will hear new blink music played live in eight years. What's not to love?

Add to the mix the largely popular East Coast rockers, My Chemical Romance, as co-headliners and tour seems untouchable. While still on the road promoting their latest release, 2010's Danger Days: The True Lives Of The Fabulous Killjoys, MCR have jumped back into the spotlight and aren't leaving any time soon.

But let's not forget about the openers. The wildly popular indie rockers, Manchester Orchestra, will be kicking off the tour in Holmdel, New Jersey on August 5th. Later dates on the tour will feature hipster act Matt & Kim, political punks Against Me! and finally punk-rock legends, Rancid.

If there's one thing that should make the 2011 Honda Civic Tour stand out against the rest of summer's shows, it's simply how eclectic the tour will be. On any given night you might hear the new wave of indie rock, or perhaps catch a glimpse at the punk-rock scene as it was a few decades ago. And, of course, you'll hear those big radio hits from the headliners every night - not to mention a few lesser known tracks packed in for the diehards in the audience.

This is one tour you won't want to miss this summer. So be sure and grab tickets while you still can. Some seats are going as low as $20. No excuses this time around.

Check out the dates, locations and supporting acts below.
  • 8/5/11 - Holmdel, NJ @ PNC Bank Arts Center *
  • 8/6/11 - Wantagh, NY @ Nikon Theatre at Jones Beach *
  • 8/7/11 - Wantagh, NY @ Nikon Theatre at Jones Beach +
  • 8/9/11 - Boston, MA @ Comcast Center *
  • 8/11/11 - Buffalo, NY @ Darien Lake Performing Arts Center *
  • 8/12/11 - Washington, DC @ Jiffy Lube Live *
  • 8/13/11 - Hershey, PA @ Hershey Park Pavilion *
  • 8/14/11 - Hartford, CT @ Comcast Theatre *
  • 8/16/11 - Montreal, QC @ Bell Centre *
  • 8/17/11 - Toronto, ON @ Molson Canadian Amphitheatre *
  • 8/19/11 - St. Louis, MO @ Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre *
  • 8/20/11 - Chicago, Il @ First Midwest Bank Pavilion *
  • 8/21/11 - Cincinnati, OH @ Riverbend Music Center *
  • 8/23/11 - Milwaukee, WI @ Marcus Amphitheater *
  • 8/25/11 - Winnipeg, MB @ MTS Centre %^
  • 8/26/11 - Saskatoon, SK @ Credit Union Centre %^
  • 8/27/11 - Edmonton, AB @ Rexall Place %^
  • 8/28/11 - Calgary, AB @ Saddledome %^
  • 8/30/11 - Victoria, BC @ Save-On Foods Memorial Centre %^
  • 8/31/11 - Vancouver, BC @ Rogers Arena %^
  • 9/1/11 - Seattle, WA @ White River Amphitheater ^
  • 9/3/11 - Salt Lake City, UT @ USANA Amphitheater ^
  • 9/4/11 - Denver, CO @ Comfort Dental Amphitheater ^
  • 9/7/11 - Minneapolis, MN @ Xcel Center #
  • 9/8/11 - Des Moines, IA @ Wells Fargo Arena +
  • 9/9/11 - Kansas City, MO @ Sandstone Amphitheater #
  • 9/10/11 - Indianapolis, IN @ Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre #
  • 9/11/11 - Detroit, MI @ DTE Energy Music Centre #
  • 9/13/11 - Cleveland, OH @ Blossom Music Center #
  • 9/15/11 - Pittsburgh, PA @ First Niagara Pavilion #
  • 916/11 - Saratoga, NY @ SPAC #
  • 9/17/11 - Camden, NJ @ Susquehanna Bank Center #
  • 9/18/11 - Virginia Beach, VA @ Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre #
  • 9/20/11 - Charlotte, NC @ Charlotte Verizon Wireless Amphitheater #
  • 9/21/11 - Atlanta, GA @ Lakewood Amphitheater #
  • 9/23/11 - Miami, FL @ Cruzan Amphitheater #
  • 9/24/11 - Tampa, FL @ 1-800-ASK-GARY Amphitheatre #
  • 9/26/11 - Houston, TX @ Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion #
  • 9/27/11 - Dallas, TX @ Gexa Energy Pavilion #
  • 9/29/11 - Albuquerque, NM @ Journal Pavilion #
  • 9/30/11 - Phoenix, AZ @ Tempe Beach Park Amph. # (MCR will not be playing)
  • 10/1/11 - Anaheim, CA @ Honda Center #
  • 10/2/11 - Sacramento, CA @ Sleep Train Amphitheatre #
  • 10/4/11 - Concord, CA @ Sleep Train Pavilion at Concord #
  • 10/5/11 - Mountain View, CA @ Shoreline Amphitheatre #
  • 10/7/11 - Las Vegas, NV @ Red Rock Resort, Spa & Casino #
  • 10/8/11 - Los Angeles, CA @ Hollywood Bowl #
  • 10/15/11 - San Diego, CA @ Cricket Wireless Amphitheatre #
* -Manchester Orchestra
% -Against Me!
^ -Rancid
# -Matt & Kim
+ -To Be Announced

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Daniel Bobis Benefit Show Tonight

**UPDATE: 7/27** - Last night's Benefit Show raised over $2,000 to help the Bobis family fund the search & rescue efforts in Indonesia. Thank you to everyone who went to the show, donated or helped spread the word.

Long Island musicians are rallying together to help raise money for a
missing friend, musician and surfer, Daniel Bobis.

Bobis, 32, who works as a teacher at Long Beach High School in New York, was vacationing with his wife in Indonesia on Tuesday when he ventured out to catch a few waves. While riding one in, Bobis reportedly clipped another surfer's board and lost control, falling into the water. His board washed up on shore, but Bobis never came up.

In the time since the accident, Bobis' wife has employed helicopter search parties, dive teams and local surfers to help find her husband. But unfortunately, all this is coming at a hefty price to her and her family. In other words, funds are running out.

Having heard this, local Long Island musicians, including Envy On The Coast/North Korea members Ryan Hunter and Brian Byrne, have teamed up with other artists and the community to bring together a benefit show to support search efforts.

Tonight, Tuesday, July 26th, the Daniel Bobis Benefit Show will be held at The Leaky Lifeboat Inn in Seaford, New York at 9:30 p.m.

Hunter has reached out to musicians including Francesco Montesanto (Sainthood Reps), Ian Kenny and Tommy Fleischmann (NGHBRS), and Mike Desmond and Dylan Ebrahimian (Gabriel The Marine) - who will all be performing special acoustic sets tonight at the show.

Donations will be taken at the door and proceeds are going straight to fund the search efforts and help the Bobis family through their tough time.

In a statement about the tragic event and the show Hunter said, "Here on Long Island, we always help each other out in times of need, and I'm very fortunate to have a lot of great, talented friends who are going to come down and help raise money for Daniel's rescue. I'll be doing an acoustic set, and so will a lot of other great dudes."

"This is the quickest I've ever thrown a show together," continued Hunter, "but we've got to be quick, and I would like to get the cash to Daniel's wife as soon as possible."

For directions to the venue for tonight's show, click HERE. Again, the show starts at 9:30 p.m. and will be held at The Leaky Lifeboat Inn in Seaford, New York.

If you would like to donate but cannot make tonight's performance, a PayPal account has been set up in Bobis' name. Simply log in and send your donation to

Let's come together as the tight-knit music community we are to help bring a fellow musician home to his family.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Alkaline Trio - Damnesia Review

When you've got a discography as large as Alkaline Trio, putting out another studio record seems, well... old. So what do you do to keep things fresh? Well, the dark rockers decided to release Damnesia, a 15-track rehashing of some of the band's most classic work (with a couple new songs added for good measure).

But the Trio didn't rerecord with all the bells and whistles this time around. Instead, Damnesia is a stripped down compilation of the fan favorites. Don't count on hearing anything electric on this record - but don't call this an acoustic album, either. Damnesia might be fronted with acoustic guitars but there's enough percussion, heavy bass and keyboards to keep this record from being labeled as simply acoustic.

Alkaline Trio have always had a taste for the macabre and the creepy. So getting down to the bare bones of their music on this record seems like nothing new. And to be honest, the minimalist approach makes a lot of the tracks even darker.

Take for instance "This Could Be Love" (originally off Good Mourning), which has more of a haunting presence to it with its lead melody played on keys rather than guitar. Lead singer Matt Skiba's vocal approach is noticeably better on the new version, though die-hards will hold fast to the original.

The real drawback to this album, if any, is the low level of energy. But again, it's stripped down. Where Damnesia lacks energy are also the same spots in which its dark and brooding presence are best exemplified. Looking again at some of their older work, "Private Eye" (originally off From Here To Infirmary), stands as another track that comes across darker regardless of its slowed tempo and basic nature.

But Damnesia isn't just a horror movie inspired remake of the Trio's early work. The band also recorded two new tracks including "I Remember A Rooftop", led by bassist Dan Andriano, which could easily pass as a b-side off the band's last album, This Addiction.

The other track, "Olde English 800" is a short, comical nod to the malt liquor. If anything, its lightheartedness gives you a break from the nonstop bones, blood, death theme that runs through the rest of the record. Tack onto that a cover of The Violent Femmes "I Held Her In My Arms" and Damnesia starts to feel more than just a rerelease.

Overall, the record should please most fans. Everyone always wants to hear a band play the "older stuff" anyway - and that's certainly taken care of here. Songs like "Mercy Me", "The American Scream" and "Calling All Skeletons" round out the band's newer material as well. And perhaps the best part of this record is that, while it's stuff you've already heard, it's presented in a new way.

If there's any band that can make lyrics about death sound so fresh, it's Alkaline Trio. Damnesia is a perfect addition to your heart and skull collection.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Blink-182, "Up All Night" Review

It's been eight years since we last heard any new material from blink-182. But Thursday night's premiere of the band's new song, "Up All Night", solidified the resurgence of blink's presence in the 2011 rock game.

While "Up All Night" is only a taste of what's to come off their new record, Neighborhoods (tentatively set for release on September 27), it gives the blink community an idea of the direction the band are moving. With each member of the trio bringing significantly different influences to the table this time around, many critics and fans are being quick to label the new song as a recycled version of previous side-project material - which may or may not be a suitable description.

The track opens up quite heavy. It's far from the lighthearted pop-punk blink became famous on, but at the sametime it doesn't sound like a stretch. Remember, their last album was littered with darker and harder material, i.e. - "Obvious", "Down" and "Violence". The intro, which lasts around 30 seconds, is a heavily distorted and choppy mix of chords and drum beats.

If there's one thing that's evident from this track, it's that blink aren't afraid to try new instrumentation and pedal configurations. There's a lot of ear candy present.

The verses have a familiar feel to them. With guitarist Tom DeLonge and bassist Mark Hoppus trading off on lines throughout the verse, "Up All Night" starts sounding more like a Boxcar Racer song ("Tiny Voices") than anything else. There's a certain rhythm that's undeniably blink-182.

The chorus is somewhat subdued. DeLonge, along with his airy vocal approach, take us through what sounds not too far from something in the Angels & Airwaves discography ("Do It For Me Now"). And somehow, after the weakened chorus, the track leaps right back into the heavy intro.

The track is sort of a hodgepodge of sounds. It's eclectic in itself - an array of different songwriting techniques that takes a truly talented band to pull off. But despite having so many layers, it still remains catchy.

Whether you like the track or not, let's not let "Up All Night" decide the fate of Neighborhoods. If blink's Untitled record was any indication, this band are as multifaceted as they come. "Up All Night" is simply one eleventh of what's probably going to be one of the most mature, intense and eclectic records blink have ever put out. Get stoked.


Everyone wants to call it all around our life with a better name
Everyone falls and spins and gets up again with a friend who does the same
Everyone lies and cheats their wants and needs and still believes their heart
And everyone gets the chills, the kind that kills when the pain begins to start

Lets get this straight, do you want me here?
As I struggle through each and every year
and all these demons, they keep me up all night.
They keep me up all night.
They keep me up all night.

Everyone's cross to bear's a crown they wear on endless holiday
Everyone raises kids in a world that changes life to a bitter game
Everyone works and fights, stays up all night, to celebrate the day
And everyone lives to tell the tale of how we die alone some day

Lets get this straight, do you want me here?
As I struggle through each and every year,
And all these demons, they keep me up all night.
They keep me up all night.
They keep me up all night.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

What's Left Of The Political-Punk Scene?

Music and politics have always gone hand-in-hand. And certainly, the punk-rock community has been at the forefront of the confrontation. With bands like Anti-Flag, Rise Against, Bad Religion, Against Me! and Green Day leading the fight today, it seems like the fuse is burning brighter than ever.

But can the efforts of these bands and others resonate with not only fans, but also within the political realm? In other words, is any of this really making a difference?

For the answer to that, you really have to look past the songs and albums. After all, the message is usually clear with many of these political-punks. To see if the bands and the genre of music really are causing a stir, take a look at the little things the bands are doing - working with political groups, attending rallies and generally being outspoken outside of their recordings.

A few months back it seemed like the world was thrown into an upheaval of revolutions and political unrest from the Middle East to the United States. Leading the rush at home were the Wisconsin protests against Governor Scott Walker's decision to place certain monetary restrictions on the state's unions.

This eventually gained national coverage and seemed to have struck a chord within our music scene, as well. Rise Against lead singer and Chicago native Tim McIlrath made an appearance during the rally (taking time out from finishing his band's latest release, Endgame) and joined the protest. Before jumping into a cover of Neil Young's classic, "Ohio", McIlrath was greeted by a chant of "Thank you! Thank you!" from the appreciative crowd.

McIlrath responded by saying, "It's an honor to be here today with so many people who give a shit about the direction of our world and the direction of this city in particular. It's an honor. I'm proud to be here. Thank you for having me."

Don't think this was an isolated event for McIlrath or the scene in general. Even those in bands that don't exhibit a political standing have stepped up to the plate to defend democracy and human rights. Back in 2009, musicians from bands as eclectic as blink-182, Bayside, Motion City Soundtrack and Anberlin took to their Twitter accounts to protest against a reportedly rigged presidential election in Iran.

By throwing a shade of green over their profile pictures (the official color for the democratic movement) the band members made it known that their political viewpoints toward the election corresponded with that of the Iranian people's.

It may have been a small gesture, but when you have thousands, or even millions, of followers on the social networking site, the ideology you project can have a profound influence on people across the globe. Don't forget, the Middle Eastern protests of this year were essentially put together via social networking sites.

These two examples may seem fairly insignificant to the big picture, but the fact of the matter is that things like this are going on everyday in the scene. With the amount of records being put out, the influence of movements like the Take Action Tour and the small hand that independent groups have within the music and political scenes, the message is getting across.

Perhaps it's not the big picture that's worth changing. Maybe it's just reaching common people that has the punk-rock community so grounded in the political atmosphere. Changing one life can go a long way, and what better way to do it than through music with a message?

**Backstage Press would like to thank our correspondent D.L. for suggesting this topic**

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Taking Back Sunday - Self-Titled Record Review

It's not easy to be Taking Back Sunday. Since releasing Tell All Your Friends back in 2002, the band have endured a staggering number of lineup changes, feuds with other notable acts and a sound that differed with almost every release. But regardless of the constant turmoil, the Long Island outfit have managed to gain a worldwide fan base that has been eagerly awaiting the release of the band's new Self-Titled album.

TBS reinstated guitarist John Nolan and bassist Shaun Copper (both of whom made up the original TBS lineup) in early 2010 after letting go of Matt Fazzi and Matt Rubano. And in the almost year-and-a-half since bringing the two originators back, the band have been touring and excessively working on the new album - one that was promised to be one of TBS' best pieces of work so far.

So how does it stack up to the band's 2009 release, New Again? Better yet, can it measure up to Tell All Your Friends - the only other record to be released featuring all five current TBS members.

Well, this album certainly feels nothing like New Again. In place of the almost slowed down and lighthearted structure found on that record, TBS have come back swinging with a much darker and resilient chunk of rock 'n' roll. It's not punk-rock, it's not hardcore and it's not alternative - it's somewhere in between all of that.

Nolan's familiar screams and backups only help to accentuate lead singer Adam Lazzara's emotionally sparked vocals. In that respect, the Self-Titled effort is on par with Tell All Your Friends. But lyrically, the new record comes across as a more mature sounding TBS. It's not necessarily as literal as some of the band's earlier work. The record wrestles with ideas of religion, happiness and the past, while at most times being open to interpretation. There's a lot going on throughout the album, and the message isn't always clear - a testament to Lazzara's heightened understanding of poetic license.

But musically, the Self-Titled release should please fans. Pair mosh-ready choruses like that found on "This All Now" with the many singalong breakdowns ("Sad Savior") and you're bound to get a record that will resonate with TBS followers. This album dances with the more technical side of the band. Look for a lot of lead guitars, overdriven amps and snare work.

Most of the songs on Self-Titled should translate well to the band's live show. TBS have tried out a number of new songs during their last few tours, and they come across as much more energetic and lively when compared to other recent works in the band's collection.

All in all, this release will mark another interesting chapter in the book of TBS.

While this new, but original, slice of the band is refreshing, it certainly won't define the them. They've managed to say goodbye to their emo-infused past while embracing a purely rock 'n' roll mindset. But let's face it, while a grownup sound might be the new face of TBS from now on, no one's ever going to forget those mic-swinging emo kids from Long Island.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

2011 Warped Tour Preview

The Vans Warped Tour kicked off its 17th summer on the road last Friday in Dallas, Texas. And with that sort of longevity comes change. Let's face it, this isn't the same tour that started almost two decades ago.

For many, Warped Tour has represented the punk mentality. A day at Warped is a sweat-filled, filthy free-for-all wrapped around a music scene that celebrates outcasts. But in recent years, the tour has suffered a backlash of harsh words and criticism from the now grown-up teens that were there when the tour began.

Bands like Bad Religion, blink-182, NOFX, Rancid and MXPX were once the punk leading acts that drove the tour, and essentially gave it its reputation for mohawks and studded belts. Replace that with some of the more recent acts on Warped - Katy Perry, 3OH!3, Blood On The Dance Floor, ext. - and you're bound to witness a changing demographic of fans attending the shows.

But does this wave of electro-pop-rap-punk mean that Warped has officially seen better days? Not necessarily. While yes, the majority of fans attending Warped just to see these new school acts are in fact younger than the tour itself, it'd be crazy to write Warped off as outdated or completely irrelevant to the scene today.

Lets' take a look at the high points of this summer's tour. All you pop-punk lifers should be stoked on Set Your Goals, The Wonder Years and A Day To Remember, who are all playing the entire tour. These bands are offering fresh, new music without losing sight of where they came from. No frills, no makeup, no computerized tracks playing over the live set - just a few guitars, a bass and a drum kit. Keeping it simple is back in style.

For those of you that need something heavier, Warped has got you covered. The Devil Wears Prada will be there from day one offering up a mosh-worthy set on the Main Stage. Add to that the Craig Owens fronted supergroup D.R.U.G.S. and the Pennsylvania outfit, August Burns Red, and you hardcore kids have got a full day ahead of you.

No Warped Tour would be complete without some of its originators - those bands there from the very beginning that seem to show up on the bill year after year. Less Than Jake certainly fill that spot in 2011. But with some other old school acts thrown in the mix like Against Me! and the Street Dogs, even the most jaded ex-Warped attendee might consider showing face this summer.

And let's not forget some of the newer acts out there this year that are worth your time. Terrible Things are the can't-miss act of the summer. Bringing a straight up rock 'n' roll element to the tour, you'll want to make sure these guys are on your Warped itinerary. Some other fresh faces to see include Falling In Reverse, who are ready to take back the metal core contingent of the tour.

In terms of the actual music that makes up the festival, the 2011 Warped Tour stands as eclectic as ever. Undoubtedly, organizers will aim for the youth demographic. It seems the new wave acts of recent years are here to stay. After all, they do bring in an awful lot of money. But Warped hasn't lost sight of its past. This year again is packed with notable acts from the punk and alternative scenes.

Fact of the matter is that no one is ever going to be crazy about the entire lineup. There are 114 bands this year alone that will be making appearances on Warped. With those kinds of numbers it will be easy to avoid those acts you want nothing to do with. So if you're thinking about going to Warped Tour this summer, don't get caught up hating those bands you don't want to see. Concentrate on spending your day seeing those acts that will make Warped as fun this year as it was the first time you went.
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