Warped Tour 2008 Arrow Hall, Toronto!

Warped Tour, 2008, ended up being outside on the Flats at Arrow Hall, and what a shitty venue that was. It was almost as bad as the year they held it in the Skydome, maybe even worse after the rain hit. Aside from the blistering heat sans shade and the downpour, which really put a damper on the day (heh), the Toronto part of the tour wasn't a complete disaster. Unfortunately though the beer was all the way inside, on another planet than the music, and you had to go through the most hectic process in order to get a drink... so much for getting wasted at warped tour this year. Whomp whomp!
Just like every other year it was impossible to catch every band that you wanted to see, and they seemed to have a hard time organizing the bands and genres that were playing at the same time... for instance Reel Big Fish were performing at the same time as The Johnstones... the only two well-known ska bands on the Toronto tour, which was just dumb. Against Me! also had that same 3:00pm slot, which really urked me considering I was under obligation to see the Johnstones and missed them, one of my all-time favourite bands. Whatever bitches. Looking back on the list of bands that played I only ended up seeing about 40% of the ones that I was looking forward to... never go to Warped with somebody who isn't into the same type of music as you... I ended up having to stand through Norma Jean, Angels and Airwaves, Story of the Year, Anberlin and Evergreen Terrace (all barf) and missing bands like the Bouncing Souls, Jack's Mannequin (shhh... I know this should be considered barf but whatever, we all have our guilty pleasures), Set Your Goals, St. Alvia Cartel, The Audition and The Bronx... all of which I'm super sad on. Oh well, that's what friends are for right!?!
We started off the day by watching the local London ska band Mean Tangerine, and for my first time witnessing them live I was thoroughly impressed. Good energy, fun to watch, and with a little help on stage from Jarek and Ryan of the Johnstones for their last song they really started the day off on the right track. Pumped up from that performance we headed over to one of the larger stages and were just in time for The Academy Is... I've seen them before but was never really blown away by their stage performance, but this time they seemed to have a lot more energy and the lead singer was doing such an amazing job that I could barely take my eyes off of them. They sounded better than ever and really got the crowd going. Next was a fucking wicked new group that I had never heard of before the tour, called 3OH!3. They are a rap/dance/thrash duo with more spunk on stage than I have ever seen. Everything about them was super bad ass, from the lyrics to the grinding dance moves to the way they had all these punk kids at warped dancing up a storm... amazing. Definitely my favourite part of the tour and the band most worth checking out if you haven't heard of them before (www.myspace.com/3oh3). Fuck anybody who criticized this tour for having too many different genres, without these guys it wouldn't have been half as good as it was. After that we caught the last few songs from Cobra Starship, my first time seeing them as well and to be honest I thought they would have had a lot more energy than they did. The lead singer talked way too much for such a short set and we ended up leaving that stage before they were over, bored bored bored.
After taking a short break from the sun inside and pounding back as many drinks as we could before the next band on our itinerary, we headed out to see The Johnstones. This was the only band I ended up seeing from start to finish, and I'm glad I did...even though I kind of sort of had to. These guys are never a disappointment, all decked out in diapers, bibs and pacifiers they definitely were a sight for sore eyes. Unfortunately the sound on the Union stage was shit, the microphones barely worked, the horns were too low and the drums too high... all in all the levels were just fucked. It wasn't the best performance I've seen from these boys but despite the fact that they were clearly exhausted and rushed they still put on a really good show. Again we booked it back to the beer (such a hassle) and pounded a few more then headed back out into the sun (by now everybody was incredibly sun burnt... which still hurts like a mother fucker btw) to see Gym Class Heroes. Amazing. I guess this Warped was a day of firsts for me, and for my first time seeing GCH they completely blew whatever high hopes I had for them right out of the water and did ten times better. Without a lot of time in each band's set they ended up mixing a bunch of songs together so that the crowd got to hear all of their favourites, and it was fucking wicked. I'd also like to note that Travis announced that he has been clean for five months now, and it was pretty cool of him to mention it on stage in front of mostly kids... kudos Trav. Hilariously enough he also gave a shout out to Lamb of God and covered the song Laid to Rest, screaming and all. It was quite awesome! Next we walked over to see Every Time I Die, but sadly three songs in the rain started... and boy did it rain. The downpour lasted for a couple hours at least, and caused me to miss Protest the Hero (FUCK MOTHER FUCKER COCK SUCKER CUNT FUCK) which I was extremely upset about. I know without even seeing them that they put on an amazing show...they always do.
The downpour finally let up just in time for us to see Pennywise, who rocked it hard and made me forget that I was completely drenched for at least a few songs. They played all the favourites, taking me back to high school... and not in a bad way. The last act worth noting (I'm not going to judge the bands I watched who I mentioned above... since I'm not a fan to begin with it wouldn't be quite fair to rag on them as much as I'd like to...) was Katy Perry.... all I can say is Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz.... She did her set in acoustic (as far as I know anyway, I actually missed the first half of her set) and it was not something to be paired with the rain and the sun in order to keep everybody pumped up... her single is twenty times better the way it is on the radio, and considering she was playing at Warped Tour I think it was in very poor choice to go the acoustic route. Oh well! To each their own I guess.
And that was that. If you didn't love all the bands playing you would have hated this day more than life itself... luckily the lineup was decent in my mind and made up for the sun and the rain, but that's just me. I'm just glad they didn't hold it in Barrie again, where there would have been absolutely no escape from either. Next time they really should have the drinking area front and center though... I think that would have helped A LOT.

I'm Sarah. I do what I want.

Looking for new music to replace that Ramones album you keep on repeat?

Well look no further!
Straight out of Chicago come The Kobanes... pop punk with an attitude, amazing bass lines and songs that will make you laugh... what more can you ask for?
Similar to the Queers, the Ergs, and all those other old school punk bands we know and love, these guys are easily one of the best bands I've heard in the last few years.
Check them out, you will not be disappointed!

I'm Sarah. I do what I want.

Roses Kings Castles

Roses Kings Castles is the name that Babyshambles drummer Adam Ficek has adopted for his solo material. Ficek has already released one single, “Sparkling Bootz” on both CD and 7” vinyl, and an indie album will be available September 22nd.

Ficek’s sweet, folksy pop was likened to that of legend Syd Barrett by NME magazine. Quite true. “Sparkling Bootz” is a pretty love song about an aloof girl plunked out on an acoustic. Being the only member of Roses Kings Castles, Adam accompanies himself on piano, xylophone, drums, harmonica, and even adds whistling and hand-claps. The sound swells as the layers of recordings are over-lapped, and it is here that the quirky, homemade quality of the song is somewhat lost. The polished production is decidedly unlike Barrett.

In fact, I prefer the more stripped-down sound of the unfinished demos he has posted on his MySpace page. I recommend having a listen to these.

Adam’s lovely soft voice is perfect for expressing the quality of his music. But there is nothing sentimental or trite in these songs. Roses Kings Castles is reminiscent of traditional music (some people call this “folk” music, but not music snobs like me) in that it is romantic but not romanticized.

Adam Ficek is a true talent and dedicated to the music. This is an act to watch out for.


Sent in by Lindsey Cull.

Alice Through The Looking Glass

On July 5th at about ten o’clock Toronto natives Crystal Castles took to the Sirius Satellite Radio Stage at their hometown’s Harbourfront Centre as part of Breaks, Beats, and Film a free three-day festival for the arts.

The Crystal Castles are the otherworldly Alice Glass on vocals and Ethan Kath on guitar, synthesizer, and turntables. And last night they murdered.

After a painfully long set-up Ethan started spinning. Alice slinked on stage, beer in hand, and over to the mic. As soon as the first notes came out of her mouth the mob, well over 1000 people, surged toward the stage. I spent the rest of the evening pinned against the metal mesh barrier.

Alice was absolutely mental. She riveted the audience. No one could take their eyes off of her. She didn’t waste time, taking a dive off stage left during the opening song. Arms reached from everywhere to grab a feel before we lifted her back onto the amp.

Halfway through the set Alice walked off and spoke to the technician before going backstage. The crowd lost it as the technicians struggled to adjust the mics. Everyone screamed and chanted “ALICE” until she came back on to finish the show out.

During the final song Alice abruptly threw down her beer and began kicking the drum kit. The drummer kept slamming hard and fast. The kit finally rattled apart, signalling the end of the show. And thanks to a nice security guy I got to finish her beer.

Reviewed by Lindsey Cull.

Hmm... what exactly can be said about the new Alkaline Trio album, Agony & Irony?

This 2008 release is the band's 6th studio album in their 11 years together, for the first time produced by 90's big shot Josh Abraham (Limp Bizkit, Korn, Crazytown... enough said). Sporting a new primped and polished production sound the band chose the path to a more clean cut, rockier version of their former selves, which is both good and bad. I know, I know, we've heard it all before... another one of our favourite old-time punk bands major label debut packed full of professional production quality and way more mainstream appeal...blah blah blah. What's that I hear you yelling? Sellout? How typical! However, despite all these shameful qualities, if you listen closely you'll realize that this is still the same old Alkaline Trio that you love, but with a smoother sound, healthier vocals, and bigger names backing them on the album. I'm not saying this is the most brilliant piece of work they've done, by far it's not, I'm just saying don't shoot it down immediately because they've upped the quality of their recordings.
Still composed of the same gloomy power pop, typically simplistic and miserable with lyrics that drive you under the covers weeping, half the album will make you thank your lucky stars that the band followed Crimson with this, and the other half will probably put you to sleep.
It starts off strong with a catchy tune called Calling All Skeletons, fairly upbeat and one to get the hair a'flyin. Next comes the single, which is also poppy and enjoyable, with a nice touch of piano in the background and a chorus that kind of sounds like Lovefool's by the Cardigans (Hold me, hold me, come on and hold me). From here it goes downhill a little bit, slower and rockier than you'd expect but not a complete write off just yet. Aside from the first two hits that grab your attention and your heart right off the bat, the rest of the album at first listen might convince you to dig the plastic packaging out of the garbage and try to pull a fast one on that HMV employee to get your money back. I suggest giving it another couple of listens... Third times a charm! The rest of the album is a grower, eventually you'll start to appreciate it more than the first time. Track number 5 titled Into the Night has a lot of potential with groovy guitar riffs shadowed by an even groovier bass line, harmonies galore and poppier Misfit-like "whoaaa whoaaa"'s.
Now this is where I start to waver. From track 6 and onward I find the album becomes a little boring and redundant. It almost sounds as if they were taking a cue from the Offspring's latest with the mainstream appeal and undeniable *yawn* factor. However, the brilliant lyrics are still strong enough that you can't help but appreciate these songs, if you can get through them. Something tells me this album would have made much more of an impact as an EP. The only other check on the "pro's" side of the list is that Derek Grant really comes through full force with the drumming on this album... better production means more powerful drum beats and a lot more range to show his great great skill. One of the best drummers on the scene, he sure shines through as one of the most important factors contributing to this album.
All in all, this isn't going to go down in history as the best Alkaline Trio album of all time, but I also don't believe it will be viewed as the worst. A valiant effort, and a few changes later they are still Alkaline Trio, and they are still loved.... by me anyway.

I'm Sarah. I do what I want.

Oh, You Pretty Things!

When Dirty Pretty Things began recording their second album they informed their fans that it would sound very different from their first release, 2005's Waterloo To Anywhere. Indeed it does.

The difference in production was to my ears the most obvious (and offensive) change. Unlike Waterloo, Romance At Short Notice was not recorded live. I missed terribly that mash up of guitars and the less controlled, sometimes slightly incoherent, vocals that Waterloo featured.

After I'd grieved sufficiently I listened a few more times. Dirty Pretty Things have not matched their first release with Romance, but it's still a solid record.

The guitar riffs have softer edges than Waterloo's sharper, more cutting sound. You can hear a little bit of Libertines-era Carl in some of them. The lead and rhythm guitars net nicely over one another. Gary's drums are, as always, perfection. It sounds like his kit's just going to fall apart if he beats those skins any harder. A nice addition is Anthony handling lead vocals on a couple of tracks. And I cannot go without mentioning the excellent Mr. Didz Hammond on bass, who is sporting a rather handsome moustache these days.

The first single, "Tired of England," begs you to sing along, but the standout track is "Kicks of Consumption." Although Waterloo is a must, I don't think you'll mind having Romance At Short Notice in your collection, either. It's Carl Barat, for Pete's sake! (See what I did there? Carl and Pete. Clever, yeah?)

Sent in by Lindsey Cull.