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.

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