Text and images by Daniel Mrazik.
If you showed up for the scheduled show time at 8pm, you would have missed most of the first opener, Dilly Dally (and possibly served as an example of the band’s name). But if you were there early and closed your eyes, you might have thought you were listening to the children of the Pixies and Sonic Youth, with the vocals of a spliced Black Francis and Kim Deal. Hidden among the amplifiers’ screeches rested subtle melodies that seemed to sneak into the songs. Not expecting such a din at a Grouplove concert, Dilly Dally were not only a welcome surprise in the lineup, but a pleasant surprise in musical style and delivery as they played songs off last year’s album Sore.
Muna hopped on stage next, the first Philly show for the LA band. For their first song, guitarist Naomi McPherson took the center mic, only to have Katie Gavin resume her lead vocal position for the rest of the set as lead guitarist Josette Maskin strummed all the while. For the remainder, Gavin grooved around the stage through their hit “Winterbreak,” “I Know A Place,” an ode to finding a safe place without fear, and a trove of other tunes that faintly echoed each other, but held their own.
One couldn’t help but feel the aesthetic effect of entwined flowers dangling from each mic stand as a sort of glimmer amidst their signature dark pop sound. On the periphery of that darkness also hovered traces of 80s vibes, which were previewed in their The Loudspeaker EP but will be debuted in full-length on their first album About U, slated to drop in February.
Returning to pack up their equipment after the final song, Muna was treated to an encore of cheers from the crowd, praising the performance and growing in excitement for the main act.
From their name and feel-good aura, you wouldn’t believe that Grouplove’s album titles should be taken seriously, at least their first two – Never Trust A Happy Song and Spreading Rumors. However, after watching their headlining performance unfold, you might deem Big Mess, their most recent release, an appropriate name. It was all a mess in the absolute best way possible – a mess of sound, a mess of color, a mess of movement, a mess of fun. They unabashedly bounced around the stage making that mess their home.
The real treat was coming to the concert expecting some indie rock with a little pop but finding yourself in an amorphous blob of those accented by dashes of punk, dance, hardcore (Hannah Hooper’s vehement screams and the hints of a mosh pit next to me the entire show), their trippy “Beans On Pizza,” and even rap.
After the two openers, where each had relatively consistent sounds, Grouplove kept the entire set feeling fresh even while playing their sure crowd-pleasers of “Itchin’ On A Photograph,” “Tongue Tied” and “Welcome To Your Life.”
Some Easter eggs included a cover of the Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage,” during which the crowd rushed forward as Hooper and vocalist, guitarist Christian Zucconi surfed the outstretched hands, and a shout-out to a drug-fueled, Californian existence in the form of the title track of Netflix’s Bojack Horseman.
To complete the evening, the group stood in front of a flood of white lights as Zucconi reflected, “I am a man, man, man, man, up, up in the air.”
The lightscape remained the same through the tongue-twister line: “And I see black, black, green, and brown, brown, brown, brown and blue, yellow, violets, red.”
In fact, the white backdrop stayed solid until the last fading lines of the bridge settled into silence. After a few hanging seconds, the instruments, the voices, and in an eponymous tribute, “Colours” blared forth in a final mess, a mess that felt just fine.
Good Charlotte, the pop punk rock band from Waldorf, Maryland, has returned to the music scene.
The group, which formed in 1996, features Joel Madden on lead vocals, Benji Madden on vocals and rhythm guitar, Paul Thomas on bass guitar, Dean Butterworth on drums and Billy Martin on keyboard and lead guitar. After more than a decade of hits, they took a hiatus in 2011.
They will perform tonight at The Fillmore. Our McCall Cox spoke with bassist Paul Thomas about the band’s new music, touring again and returning to the City of Brotherly Love.
So Good Charlotte is officially back. How has it been for you all to be back together with new music and world tours?
It’s been very great. We took about five years off and everybody went home and made families and had something else to do other than the band, because we started doing this when we were sixteen. We just never stopped. So it was a well-needed break.
But it made us come back ready to work more than ever. So it’s been really good. And we’re doing everything all in-house now: management and label and all that stuff. The twins (Joel and Benji Madden) are pretty much running it through their company MDDN. And it’s just great because we get to do whatever we want to do. We don’t have people telling us what we have to do or anything like that. We’re just happy we’re doing things on our own terms.
And man, the fans have just been showing up to the shows and making us feel really good—singing loudly and telling us that they’ve been listening to us since the fifth grade and now they’re old enough to come to the show. It’s really cool, it’s really heartwarming. Every show has been really great.
Good Charlotte’s newest album, Youth Authority, was released in mid-July. How was recording this album different from the others? What inspired the album’s name?
The album’s name? It was just kind of throwing it out there that, you know, who’s really in charge of our careers anyway.
The youth is the authority. They tell you or let you know if you’re still cool or not.
And recording the album came about—I think the twins were working with John Feldman on 5 Seconds of Summer. And the 5 Seconds of Summer guys are fans of ours apparently? And they just threw out to them, ‘You guys really need to come back.’ And I guess they chewed on that for a minute and next thing you know, I got a call. And they’re like, ‘Hey we’re thinking about recording an album, would you be into that?’
And then they told me that they were thinking about doing it with John Feldman and he’s been a friend of ours since our first album. We met him touring on our first album. He’s been writing song with us and working with us for a long time but we’ve never done a full length album with him.
So, I was really excited about that. And he just really hit his stride. He’s had a lot of success lately which was really great to see. So I was super excited. I had just gotten accepted into Berkley—that’s what I was doing in my time off was trying to finish up some school.
Oh, wow, congratulations!
Oh, thanks! It was like, ‘Ah, of all the times.’ But yeah, I’d much rather be touring with Good Charlotte than school. School’s not going anywhere, it’s waiting for me.
Good Charlotte formed in 1996, so it’s been about 20 years.
How is performing and life on the road different now from 20 years ago?
Well, in the very beginning, we were too young to do anything. We weren’t of drinking age. We were closed off. We played the House of Blues and we were not allowed to leave a certain area of the backstage. That was an interesting touring time that actually lasted for a while until we became 21.
And then touring in our 20s, none of us really had homes. We were gone so much. One year we toured, we played 300 shows. And it was just work, work, work, go, go, go. But now, touring is very different because we all have families and kids so there’s a lot more trying to get home on days off. There’s a lot of trying to fly the family out and work out how to bring them out on tour. Like, my family is flying into Philadelphia and they’re going to join us all the way up to Boston.
That’ll be so nice for you, I’m sure.
Yeah, ‘cause that’s the hardest part is now I have something to leave. I used to just not have anything at home because I didn’t care so I would be very comfortable with touring for months at a time. Now the idea of leaving them for five week is, you know, gut-wrenching.
But it’s still the best job in the world. And like I said, our fans have just been so heartwarming—the stories that they tell us—it makes us feel like we’re definitely supposed to be doing this.
You have a variety of fans that range from a younger audience to fans who have been with the band since the beginning and have grown up with Good Charlotte. Is it hard playing before fans of multiple generations?
No, not at all, especially when they’re all singing all the lyrics at the top of their lungs. It’s always amazing.
I met somebody in Minneapolis, a 17-year old who said her mom really liked Good Charlotte and she’s been listening to us since she was one. That’s just a crazy idea but I guess it’s just the new variable that’s present now is the time that’s passed. We’ve been around for so long and that people have been listening to us for so long.
They were too young to come see us and now they’re not, or when they became old enough to see us, we decided to go on a break for five years. So it’s been really cool seeing how many different ages are out in the crowd. But like I said, we start our show with “The Anthem,” and once we do that, everyone is singing at the top of their lungs and it’s always a good time.
Your lyric video for “Life Can’t Get Much BetterLife Can’t Get Much Better” was such a great way for fans to interact with Good Charlotte for the return of the band and the arrival of new music. What was the inspiration for the video?
We came out of the box with a couple of goofy videos and we just wanted to put something out that just really showed where we are right now. It was a lot of shots of us with our family, us hanging out with other bands, playing shows and shots of passionate fans singing. It just kind of captures where we are in our lives right now.
We kind of did a follow up video for a song called “Life Changes,” which is kind of the same feel as that one—more family shots, more touring shots. We just wanted to do a video where there wasn’t any costumes or gimmicks or anything. And it got a really good response, so I think we might lean more towards doing videos like that. It’s whatever we feel like doing, like I said, we get to do whatever we want now. It’s awesome.
Is it difficult to recapture the teen angst from the first couple of albums as an adult?
You know, that’s a good question because the lyrics on the new album aren’t as teen-angsty.
So, the song writing has definitely changed with us but we obviously play a lot of those songs from the past. And I think those songs have just such a deep place in our hearts that it will never feel weird playing “Riot Girl” or something like that or something from the first album that was written when we were 17. Those songs gave us everything we have right now. I don’t think we have any problems doing it and when the fans go off—because that’s what they really want to hear is the old songs—it’s the best.
So yeah, we’ve been playing a lot of songs for a long time. And playing “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous,” even though rich and famous is a thing that some of us are—it’s not weird. We still feel the same way. We’re not as mad and we’re not out to try to stick it to the man anymore, now we’re just more about spreading positivity and trying to send out a good message, positive vibes.
The actual video later released for “Life Can’t Get Much Better” features a lot of Philadelphia as well as footage from your April show at the Theatre of Living Arts. Did you have any reason behind choosing Philadelphia or any connection there?
Oh, absolutely. Yeah, Philly is the reason that we made it out of Maryland. There used to be a station there called Y100 and they got ahold of our demo. They used to do this thing called a cage match or something like that and they would play local bands against big bands. And we won.
We were beating out bands like Limp Bizkit and Korn—it was really amazing. That was the whole start of our career really of being professional musicians.
The TLA—especially that venue—that’s where we played the most. We actually knew a couple of people that worked there and we would rehearse there before we would go on tour. That place was our home away from home. I think we played in Philadelphia more than we played in D.C. Yeah, the TLA was a very big place for us. We played there a ton of times. It was funny being in that venue, just walking around, looking in each dressing room and just like flashbacks like, “I remember partying in here” or just whatever it was. We have to go get a cheesesteak, see South Street.
Is there anything in particular Good Charlotte is looking forward to for your show at the Fillmore here in Philadelphia?
Just looking forward to another amazing show in Philadelphia. The fans have always just been so cool to us there. It’s been more of a hometown show than in D.C. So, yes, I’m just looking forward to getting there, eating some amazing food and having a great show.
Well I’m sure everybody is so excited to see you here. I think the fans are ten times more excited to see you guys now come back around.
They’ve always been so good to us. They’ve given us everything we have. It’s nice to be able to try to connect with them as much as we can. We’re actually doing these VIP meet and greet things on this tour now and we actually get to do a Q&A for about a half hour and everybody that comes gets to tell us something or ask us something. It’s been the coolest thing—really connecting with people and hearing stories about how we “saved” them and helped them get through hard times and stuff like that. It’s just so heartwarming to hear that stuff, you know?
Anything else you wanna say before the Philly show?
We love Philadelphia! And we can’t wait to come and rock. We have a little production this time so it won’t be the same show it was in April, it will be a different show and it will be a good time for a show.
Dang. Back in 2013, this song was everywhere. Even now, it seems like the track pops up a lot. Want to see Capital Cities perform it live?
We’re giving away tickets to see the LA pop duo at the TLA on Saturday.
If you want a pair of tickets to the show, email us freeJUMPstuff@gmail.com (put “CAPITAL CITIES” in the subject line and your full name in the content box). If you don’t want to take a chance, you can purchase tickets online here.
The show lands in Philadelphia on Monday at The Fillmore.
Our Brendan Menapace recently caught up with Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’s Robert Levon Been. They talked about going back on tour, health setbacks, the process of writing a new record and taking a more independent approach to writing and recording.
You guys are going on tour with Death from Above 1979 right now. Can you tell me about how that tour came up?
We were talking about it for a while. It kind of seemed like it could be a good kind of show, a real balanced, real rock n’ roll show. A balanced affair.
Sorry, that’s Fox News.
We’re working on a new record and they’re doing the same, so it was kind of, I don’t know, it doesn’t have to be a big to-do. Just kind of music for the sake of music rather than promoting something new and all the shit that goes with that kind of marketing machine. But, it’s just music for music’s sake, and it’s gonna be good, I think. I hope.
So, your last album was 2013. Can you tell me about the stage you guys are at with the new record?
We’re recording. We’ve got a good amount done. We’ve still got a ways to go. I don’t know. We’re starting to take our time more. I feel like we may have felt rushed because of other people putting their agenda on us, so now we just kind of do things our own way at our own pace, which is a really big luxury to have or even get to say.
But my hope is that it makes the music a little more necessary or a little more complete when we finally let it go. It feels right. So we’re just waiting for that feeling, that time.
How long have you been working on it?
I feel like it’s been about a year or so, solid, because Leah [Shapiro], our drummer, had a pretty serious surgery she had to have done, and it took her out of being able to work or play. By doctor’s orders, she couldn’t play drums for eight months or so. So that kind of knocked us back timing-wise. But it’s all right. We kind of worked on songs in different ways and kept going.
It’d be good to play some things live, too, for people.
Do you think you’ll play this new stuff on this run?
We hope so, yeah. It’d be good because you do learn things once you start playing them out live. And maybe something will kind of change or grow, and you can always learn something about that, rather than figuring that out once you release the record and regret it for the rest of your life, which has happened.
You said you’re doing things on your own schedule and plan. What lead you to that point of wanting to do it that way?
We’ve always kind of, you know, done it ourselves. We’ve tried to kind of steal and fight for every engineer that we’ve worked with, and steal tricks and whatnot. And the idea was to kind of learn so we could be come more and more independent with how we made the records.
At the same time, it’s like, I don’t know … there’s still always pressure of people leaning on you. And there’s even kind of a feeling of wanting to just get stuff out because there’s a lot of people still holding for new music—fans that we know, and we want to connect with them with new music, not just kind of be in our world but stay present in their lives the way they stay present in our lives through that music. It’s just a good thing.
But also, we don’t want to sell it short. We want to do it our own way and at our own pace so that we feel like it’s a significant offering, something we’re proud of, not something we’re making excuses for.
What do you think these fans who have been with you for a long time can look forward to the most from this record?
Just praying to God that they won’t regret all the tattoos they’ve gotten on their bodies and all the times they’ve fought for us and stated that we’re worth the salt. And trying to not be one of those many cliché bands that just lose it.
It’s so common for bands to lose that urgency and just try to start resting on your laurels and phoning it in. That, for me, is making sure that we honor those people in that way. The ones that stuck with us, you know?
Does the album have a name yet?
No, actually. I like to wait until it’s done. I don’t think we’ve ever named anything before it’s finished because it’s kind of hard until you can see it in its whole scope. You’re never quite sure?
Any release date in sight?
Early part of the new year, we’re hoping. As soon as the tour’s done, we can start mixing it all and getting it done.
And what are you personally looking forward to the most out of this tour and record?
It’s been a while since we’ve played more than a show here and a show there. And, in the studio, it’s nothing like it. You can’t simulate it any other way in life. Playing live is just … I don’t know, I miss it. I’m excited to hear what these songs sound like up on all fours. That’ll be cool.
Text and images by Daniel Mrazik.
One: Opener James Hinton, a.k.a. The Range. As you’ll read in any write up about The Range, his songs pay homage to the digital era – in the most obvious ways with the turntables, Macbook and synthetic drums and instruments, and in a less obvious way with sampling. The sampling is characterized by snippets pulled from the depths of YouTube like in “Metal Swing.” Against the grain, the clips are not random noises or off-their-rocker banterers, but rather people expressing themselves sincerely through the medium of the Internet video.
Sincere also describes The Range. Following a few of the songs, he’d offer his thanks for coming and talk a bit about himself, but the whole time it felt like an unassuming friend was up there talking and that “Florida” and “Copper Wire” were being spun for me to jive to. With all his tamed headbanging, wrist flicks, and hype jumps, though, you could tell he was having just as much fun as anyone in the audience.
As the last pulsating notes faded, the one-man opener left the stage for…
Two: Sarah Barthel and Josh Carter, a.k.a. Phantogram, a two-dimensional image that, from a particular vantage point, appears three-dimensional. This third dimension could represent a few extensions of the group. The first and primary actualization is the music. The second is each artist that the duo has collaborated with and included in their creative process since their follow-up release, Voices. Up until that point, two had been the defining number of Phantogram, but collaboration and an openness to outside parties show that 2+ may be the more accurate figure now. And the third is, well…
Three: Phantogram’s most recent album. Last week, they treated the crowd to all but two songs from the record while pulling out past hits like “When I’m Small” and “Don’t Move.” However, the most powerful moments came during “Destroyer” and “Barking Dog” which took visual effects beyond flashing lights and multi-colored beams.
For “Destoyer,” Barthel donned a long black cape, Maleficent-style, and stood as the tallest figure on stage. Hovering ominously above everyone as flames rolled in slow motion on the screen behind her (akin to the album cover), she belted the refrains – the encompassing scene burning all the while.
“Barking Dog,” their opening encore piece, paid tribute to Becky, Sarah’s sister, as home videos reeled on the screen where the flames had been previously. Carter sang as if narrating the frames behind him while Barthel faced away from the audience toward the images the entire time. Fittingly followed up by “Cruel World,” that pair of songs almost made the finale “You Don’t Get Me High Anymore” seem superfluous, but being the first single off Three, it held everyone until the end.
Text and images by McCall Cox.
The Worn Flints opened the show, warming up the crowd with the band’s unique psychedelic rock ‘n’ roll sound. The trio originates from Columbus, Ohio and features Kenny Stiegele on guitar and vocals, Steve Trabulsi on bass guitar and Jake Smith on drums. The Worn Flints performed songs such as “Colorful Waste of Time,” “If I Stay Awake” and “Three Kings,” which incorporated roiling guitar solos that built gradually from slow to shredding, eliciting supportive cheers from the audience.
“Alright Philly, one more song and then we’re going to boogie out of here,” Stiegele said before closing the band’s set with the song “Monika.”
Catfish and the Bottlemen commanded the stage next and the band was greeted by roars of cheers. They opened with“Homesick” and “Kathleen,” two songs from the band’s first album The Balcony.
The four piece act, which began in North Wales, United Kingdom, is comprised of Ryan McCann on guitar and vocals, Johnny Bond on guitar, Robert Hall on drums and Matthew Blakeway on bass.
“Philadelphia, we really appreciate you filling this room for us,” McCann said gratefully. “Thank you so much.”
Catfish and the Bottlemen performed “Pacifier,” “Red,” “Twice” and “Fallout.” They also played their song “Business,” which featured a drum solo from Hall.
“This is the first song we wrote for our new album. This is called ‘Seven,’” the frontman said later, launching into the song from their newest album, The Ride.
The setlist included an equal variety of tracks from the band’s first album as well as songs from The Ride.
“Electric Factory, you still have voices left?” McCann asked the audience afterwards, to cheers from the wall-to-wall crowd.
“Then this is the song to lose them to. This song is called ‘Cocoon,’” the singer said, before the band performed the hit song from their first album.
The band concluded their set with “Tyrants” from The Balcony.
“Electric Factory, I just wanted to say thank you to The Worn Flints who have been opening up for us,” McCann said. “Thank you for filling up this room it really means a lot.”