Sunday, March 17, 2013

review: Zeale, Imagine Dragons, AWOLnation (music)

So I'm really behind on my posting - sorry! I wish I could tell you I was doing something amazing like curing HIV in that baby, but... no. I'm not. I'm just being reallllllly lazy. And having a social life.

In October, a friend and I got tickets to go see a concert headlining AWOLnation, although I was super excited about one of the openers, Imagine Dragons, it was actually the other opener, Zeale, who blew me away.

Zeale defines himself as a Hip-Hop/Indie in sound. And initially I was too excited for the other artists at the concert to really pay much mind to them as they were setting up. That is until 2 things happened. First, the guy setting up the mics went "Guest mic, check 1". Oooooh, guest! Always a good attention grabber. Then the guy next to me pointed out that he was already onstage mixing his track right then - like a freakin' boss. Alright - interest piqued.

Now, what you must understand about me and concerts is that I'm kinda... well, a beast when I'm there. My friend and I were in the second row of standing room (with some ridiculous old couple in front of us who was obviously there with a kid somewhere - although why they had to be in the front when they probably didn't care eluded me). And there I am, in a dragon t-shirt, bouncing up and down. So when this Austin boy comes out, spitting rhymes I start grooving. And with a song like "Hope Dies", featuring Patricia Lynn, it's easy to get into their sound. And he works that stage going up and down and calling out to the crowd. And there I am: second row, going all out and he looks down and goes: "This girl knows where it's at". Needless to say - that put a smile on my face.

The coolest thing he did was take two words from the crowd and make a rap on the spot. Our words were rhino and poka-dots. It was an awesome rap. Zeale's other hit is "Black Mr. Rogers" featuring AWOLnation. But, by far, the coolest thing that Zeale does is offers his music for free online at and the only thing you need to do is sign up for the mailing list which never spams (at least in my experience). I give Zeale 4.5 out of 5 stars for bringing down the house and excellent free music!

Imagine Dragons was the band I was super excited to see. I'd heard their song "Demons" on (don't judge me too harshly) So You Think You Can Dance and it was awesome. Their song "It's Time" I heard about 6 months later starting to make it's round on the radio and was reminded about how good they were. So, when I saw that they were opening for AWOLnation (who I love too - review coming up!) it's was an obvious decision to get tickets.

Now despite their recent success, Imagine Dragons was formed in 2008
with it's only surviving member since it's inception being lead singer Dan Reynolds. They've have numerous EPs, extended play albums focusing on a major hit with a few other songs thrown in totally about 8 songs, but their first studio album was released in 2011. And since then they've been achieving huge success: making their rounds doing all the late night shows: Leno, Letterman, Jimmy Kimble, Conan, Jimmy Fallon and have been listed by Billboard as one of "2012's Brightest New Stars" and voted's "Favorite Rock Artist of 2012". They've also been featured in tons of TV shows, movies, and trailers. As to way their called Imagine Dragons, the band as said that it's an anagram made from letters of different words but no one knows what those words are.

As a live band, Imagine Dragons delivers. Dan Reynolds is charismatic and enthusiastic and the band sounds great. By the time they were on the old folks had left, so there I was in the front row. And although their set was kinda ruined because of the drunk whore who kept trying to elbow me out of the way, that is until I set security on her, they were still awesome. I even got to touch Dan Reynold's hand *squee*! Now, my favorite song off Night Visions is definitively "Radioactive" despite the fact that the music video is rather odd juxtaposition of a driving, intense song with apparently a Muppet cage battle as the backdrop for the music video... yup. Very odd. If you like soulfully intense and a band that can swing from bouncing up and down to epic waving this band is for you. It took a while for me to get into the rest of their album but once I did it was great. I give Imagine Dragons 5 out of 5 starts!

AWOLnation was the headliner for this show and their hit is "Sail" which is an odd hit mainly because you can't really understand what he is saying  and it really doesn't match the upbeat tone of the rest of the album, Megalithic Symphony. Aaron Bruno is the front man and writes all of his own music and the name AWOLnation came from his highschool nickname. Bruno has been with many different bands over the years but most recently with Under the Influence of Giants which he left in 2009. AWOLnation was started in 2008 by Red Bull Records. Megalithic Symphony was released in 2011.

They are classified as electronic rock - how can you not love that combination! It tends to be kinda quirky, full of energy, and great lyrics. Also Aaron Bruno loves to crowd surf. He did it three times that night. Almost got his boot. They were crazy on stage. My only complaints were that is was hard to understand him and the sound system was screwed up a bit so the bass was kinda wonky. My favorite song is "Kill Your Heroes" or "Burn It Down" both are awesome songs, fast, jumpy tracks perfect to amp up to. Their entire album is excellent. And wikipedia tells me they'll be dropping another album in June. Can't wait! I give AWOLnation 5 out of 5 stars!

How's that for an update?!

Friday, March 15, 2013

review: Grouplove (music)

I can honestly say that when my cousin offered me tickets to go see Young the Giant back in April, I had no idea who the opening act was. Grouplove didn't ring any bells. Although I had heard their hit "Tongue Tied" I always seemed to miss the band name whenever it came on. But my cousin said they were awesome and I wanted to see Young the Giant and I had an afternoon to kill. So, with no preconceived notions about who they were and if I would like their sound- I went to the concert anyways.

In 2009, five more or less random strangers met on a retreat in Crete. Liking each others' sound they remained friends for a year before forming a band together. And though only newly formed they needed that first year to earn the money to a recording studio in LA. They played their first show in May of 2010 and then later that year toured with Florence + the Machine and Joy Formidible!!! Talk about a quick rise!

They have excellent stage presence - being very carefree and kinda wild but still incredibly engaging. They're also perfect for the Portland scene as they have a quirky/nerdy/hip image. Their sound is upbeat and incredibly catch. When asked to describe their music, they said "It's like best friends skydiving." Their ballad "Slow" is incredible. Their album - Never Trust a Happy Song - is an excellent and one can easily listen to the whole thing. I give Grouplove 4.5 out of 5 stars!