November 29, 2006
The Roxy Theatre in Hollywood, CA
You might know of Dave Barnes, an independent musician out of Nashville, TN for more reasons than just his recorded music. It might be from his production of his friend and fellow musician Matt Wertz’s records, or from co-writing songs by Bebo Norman, Bethany Dillon, Marc Broussard and Micah Dalton. Regardless, if it’s not from his live show then you definitely need to enlighten yourself.
The first time I was fortunate enough to see Dave perform was last June and I was completely taken back. Touring in support of his third release, Chasing Mississippi, Dave has honed his live show to near perfection. This time around he brought along a bassist and a drummer and has again exceeded my expectations.
With a mix of songs dating back to 2001’s Three Then Four EP, Dave played with an open ended set time and the crowd stayed all the way through. One of the things that makes his live show so entertaining would be the comedy in-between songs. Dave told a three to five minute story for every two songs he played and I wonder why he didn’t pursue a career in stand-up. Further proving my thought that ‘awkward is the new sarcastic’- he confessed his desire to one day end a show as a figure skater ends a perfect performance. Check out some photos I have posted on our photos page for proof!
Beyond the incredible band, comedy and guitar work, the most impressive aspect of his live show is his voice. At times it was the only thing present, letting his acoustic guitar fade to a light strum, or even diminish completely. He hit every note of every song he does on his albums and it showcased even more emotion than a recording could convey. Mid-set, the band took a break and Dave played two definite fan favorites, ‘On A Night Like This’ and ‘Nothin Fancy,’ both causing a formidable stillness in the crowd. While he’s no Sinatra, Dave brings a new flavor to love songs, and I think the formula is simple. He’s honest in every single word he sings.
Something incredible that Dave shared with the audience was his involvement in the Mocha Club. The Mocha Club is an organization that helps with some of the many problems currently in Africa. To join, it costs $7 a month and 90% of your money goes directly to funding the projects. In Kenya, $7 can feed 9 orphans 3 meals a day, that fact alone prompted me to want to be involved. It’s something I’m very passionate about, and I suggest you at least take a look at.
All in all, this was one of the best performances I’ve seen all year. His humor and his talent are present from beginning to end. There’s no question in my mind that I’ll definitely be in attendance the next time Dave is in town.
Thanks to Dryve Managment and Dave Barnes for letting me attend this show!
The House Of Blues, spanning the entire United States in the biggest and most famous cities, you can always count on HOB to put on a quality show. Extensive security and a very short list of items you can bring in (that doesn’t include bottled water or any form of camera) makes for a very different dynamic for a concert. Stage lighting equivalent to that of an arena or broadway performance, I’ll just stick to staying short and say you can definitely expect a “show.” Sorry, no photo pass for this one, you’ll just have to take my word for it.
Dave Melillo, one of Drive Thru Record’s youngest artists (signed at age 16), followed the typical DTR format and released an EP entitled “Talk Is Cheap” for free online earlier this year. I’m a big fan of the EP and have been excited to see him perform live ever since hearing it. With a band that couldn’t possibly be out of their teenage years, I was quite skeptical as he stepped on the stage. From the first note it was quite clear that with your eyes closed you’d believe you were listening to someone far beyond his 17 years. Playing his entire EP and the debut song, “Wait For It”- Dave is a true testament to the idea of talented people becoming younger and younger. If this is what he sounds like now, I can only imagine what he will create in the coming years.
I am guilty. 100% guilty. It took countless listens and this being my fourth time seeing the band in concert, but I’m getting past the denial. I am addicted to Cute Is What We Aim For. Now, lyrically they are not my favorite. Songs that speak the truths of popular TV shows like The OC or Laguna Beach, but even though their subject matter isn’t always applicable, I still can identify to nearly every song. If I’m not able to identify, I’m still singing along. This 4-piece from Buffalo, NY has slowly begun to take over the world that is currently run by Fall Out Boy and Panic! and I wouldn’t be surprised if they achieved a complete monopoly by this time next year. Their live show is solid, and Shaant sings quite well considering the energy he exudes on stage. If you’re a hater, you’ll come around. If you’re addicted already, I’m starting a support group soon, let me know if you’d like to join. All in all, I am really impressed with this band and can’t wait to see them again. They’re my pick as the next big thing in pop music.
I said it earlier to a friend of mine, and I’ll say it again. Reggie and the Full Effect was the absolute worst choice for this tour. Not only does their music not fit the pop outline set by the other three acts, but the on-stage comments made by the once admirable James Dewees may very well make it so that half of the 14-year-olds in attendance will never be able to convince their onlooking parents to take them to a concert again. I’m not saying I’m not a fan of them, I actually appreciate their honesty and intensity, but not in this setting. James’ additional performance under his side project “Fluxuation” was NOT funny to anyone in the audience, it caused most of us to turn away from the man only wearing a bra and shorts and his “turkey” dancers. Basically, whatever respect I had for him, I lost.
Finally, after the hour long experience I mentioned above, Hellogoodbye took the stage. A packed out venue filled with frantic teenage girls, family friends, label staff and veteran scenesters was definitely ready to be uplifted. The band took no time changing my mood and performed nearly all of their recorded songs. Bright lights, confetti, balloons that Forrest insisted on pausing from his vocal duties to stomp, people dressed as food, and incredible music were all present in their performance. An amazing encore included “Oh, It Is Love” dedicated by Forrest to his own girlfriend was then supplemented by the audience favorite “Touchdown Turnaround” and an all-crowd dance party ensued. The only thing I could’ve asked for beyond the incredible performance was my personal favorite track “Two Weeks In Hawaii” but I guess you can’t have it all. Hellogoodbye puts on one of the most memorable and fulfilling performances in music today. I would gladly see them play every single night, and I don’t think I’d ever go to bed sad again. I shouldn’t even have to sell this to you so do yourself a favor, GO SEE HELLOGOODBYE LIVE!
Matt Wertz Interview #2
November 6, 2006 in Malibu, CA
First off, this interview follows up on some of the questions I got to ask Matt earlier this year and you can read those here. Second, I have to appologize it took me this long to post this interview, but here it is! Questions are in bold, Matt’s responses are in normal type.
First things first, who are you?
My name is Matt Wertz, I’m a pop star…an aspiring pop star from Nashville, TN.
Since I talked to you last June a lot has happened with you and your music. “Everything In Between” was released online- how has that been going?
It’s been I great! It’s kind of hard to know what to compare it to, and I think with anticipating the retail release that’s going to happen in early February I just don’t know what to expect. I’m definitely excited to see how the retail release looks cause I’ve never had that before.
How is your relationship with Nettwerk going? The idea you voiced for your own label being distributed through them, how has that been coming along?
That’s exactly what’s happening. They are totally creative and competent when it comes to marketing and getting the word out. I think I will be the first artist that they will be releasing from scratch without having a major label that once backed them. I think everyone is anxious to see how it works. My expectations are based on what I’ve been able to do independently and I know we will at least be able to meet or exceed those. I think having an online outlet for this record has been really helpful. It’s interesting to see how much of a presence the online distribution has taken over since I released 23 Places in 2003. This is a whole new deal.
Everything In Between. I have to first say it is one of my favorite records this year, but I’m curious, some of the songs are quite different from your past releases. Can you tell me what brought this new flare into your music?
I think I wanted to do a record that was very groove heavy that was centered on melody and groove kind of playing with each other. The first song that was written for the record was Like The Last Time and that song was like the bridge to some of the newer songs like The Way I Feel. There are songs that are more straight forward like Carolina that could’ve been on my last record. The beauty about this record is that it was recorded over a year and a half and the songs were written over a period of three years. You get a pretty wide variety of styles in the songs that I don’t know that you got as much on 23 Places. 23 Places varied more in the subject matter, this record follows a relational pattern.
The approach you took to recording the record- the fusion of two separate sessions, can you explain that?
We set out and started approaching the record like we did 23 Places. Ed, my producer, Dave Barnes and I would get together and demo songs. We would put down synthetic instruments and use computer sounds and I’d put down the acoustic parts. If any of us felt an electric part, we’d put that down. It was like we were making rough drafts of the songs. It allowed us to go crazy and put down whatever we heard. We went to the extreme of ideas. As we shared them, we realized we had to limit ourselves to a smaller pallet of sounds and instruments to define the sound of the record.
A lot of this demo-ing took place in the spring and in late July we booked a band for a week and we tracked with them. At that time I was shopping around to a few different labels and we got into this place that I was trying to please them before we were even working together. I felt like I was trying to please everybody. We ended up taking another stab at some of the other songs and by that time I had written some more. We went in as a live band and I brought in Justin Rosolino to play guitar and everything was happening at once. That jacked up the energy level, but from a hook standpoint we lost it, there wasn’t as much thought or planning going into the tracking sessions. We basically melted the two together. That’s kind of the best of both worlds, I really like the hooks and that’s what keeps people listening.
I saw you perform 5:19 on a news show in Boston, do you have any plans to release anything acoustically?
Well, this show tonight is just Justin and I. I always try to do a band tour and then an acoustic duo tour just to keep things fresh. A lot of times as an opener it isn’t feasible to bring a band out financially and logistically. It works great that I can do the songs acoustically and a lot of times people want to hear them like that. It’s a fun break from the norm and I enjoy both.
You’ve put out 3 full-lengths and an EP already, a feat most musicians never see, how do you feel about the music industry now that you’ve been fully exposed?
It’s weird, I feel like I’m always riding under the radar. Sometimes I’m bitter about that cause I’m working really hard but sometimes I’m really thankful. When a lot of my friends who sign to labels are getting dropped, I’m really thankful that I’m able to have a career without the help of a label. When I have friends who sign to a label and seven months later are playing for a thousand people, I realize it’s not possible to do that by yourself. You have to have a machine behind you. I really have been able to stay out of it and I’m not bitter or disillusioned by the industry because I haven’t gotten worked over yet.
I feel like I’ve seen exponential growth in your fan base since I was introduced to your music, what’s your secret?
I don’t know, I have no control over it. As much as it’s growing it could be falling apart and every day I wonder if today is my last day as a musician. Earlier in my career I could see the growth cause it started from nothing. Now I don’t get emails that I can trace how they heard about it and now I can’t. I don’t have any secret, I’m trying to write honest music that excites me. I have to play it every night and I’m just trusting that people will find truth in it and enjoy coming and hearing it.
Tell me about the mocha club.
The mocha club has been a really cool thing to be a part of. It’s really a selfish thing for me. I’m doing this because it makes me feel good that we’re able to do some good here. It is no self-sacrafice, it is totally a selfish move that I’m able to help. It’s better than be selling a hundred records a night. I would rather do something like this because it’s for helping someone other than me and it’s a bigger cause than myself. I have not gone to Uganda to see where the impact is being made but I keep getting reports from my friend Barret who has been working over and it’s been awesome. They wired over $10,000 to start building huts and it’s really going. I’m just trying to figure out when I can make it over.
I’ve been really blessed to be a part of it! I plan on going over there again, the people there are so real. I just feel like they have so much to teach us. We have so much to learn from them. What sucks is so many westerners have gone over there thinking that they’re going to do some good. I think we would be really wise to slow down and just learn from the way they live their lives. Granted, they need a lot of help, a lot of physical needs to be met. Their lives are so simple and their priorities are so right that it’s kind of hard to look at us and think we have much to offer.
Any last words
A special thanks to Libby and MSOPR for letting me attend this show!
While entering the famous El Rey Theatre on a seemingly quiet, pre-Thanksgiving wednesday night, slowly but surely my bias towards the current music scene was lifted. Not since seeing Bad Religion at age 13 have I ever felt like one of the younger in attendance at a concert. However, the crowd that was present for this tour was not ridden with parents escorting their scandalously dressed daughters to the merch area and purchasing all of the brightly colored t-shirts and posters; sensing some bitterness?
For this type of show, the crowd began as quite an intimate group, taking in the soft but intense acoustic stylings of opening act Mike Kinsella, known as Owen. Kinsella formerly played a few different roles in the band American Football but has ventured under the title Owen since 2002. His songs are very well structured but his voice doesn’t keep up with the beauty of his guitar work. He definitely did a great job as an opening act.
Up next was Los Angeles’ own Acute. Formed with former members of Poulain, Ozma, and Whispertown 2000, this 4-piece brings a solid blend of indie, pop, and rock. With singer Isaac Lekach also controlling all of the guitar work, it’s quite impressive how the band fills up open space. Drummer Patrick Edwards maintains the rhythm almost perfectly enough to believe he’s playing to a metronome and bassist Colt Maloney is always right beside him. What impressed me the most was the latest addition to the band in Jason Borger. He did an incredible job using two keyboards and different voices and tones to add the feeling that the live show was just as impressive as a recording of the band. I would love to see what they could do with a second guitarist in a live performance.
Third, was the always incredible Militia Group band, The Appleseed Cast. Since 1998 this band has been touring in support of multiple full-lengths, most recently Peregrine. Their sound is far superior every other artist in this vein of music, and what bothers me is how much longer they’ve been doing it than everyone else who tries to copy their sound. I wish I had something to balance out all of the positive things to say, but in this case, I can only give praise. Don’t take my word for it, check out any of their several releases and be prepared for something different and better than what you currently listen to.
Copeland, is a band that at one point changed my perspective of the potential of music. Unfortunately, while some of the songs from that era still remain as staples, some have been re-worked to fit the current direction the band is headed. Recently releasing their third full-length record “Eat, Sleep, Repeat” and meeting much critique and acclaim, I felt as though I owed the band enough to judge on more than a recording. Unfortunately, the live performances of boring songs are just that, nothing more. While bringing down the pace of the past’s more upbeat and passionate songs, I still love them, but I grow fonder of my pillow for purposes of sleep rather than the tears they once used to manifest within me.
On the verge of reaching success the band greatly deserves, this slew of new songs just doesn’t make the cut that my expectations have been set at. For me, the band has taken a step to the side, not a step forward and has much more ground to make up with new material past what was so recently introduced. While I still recommend Copeland’s live show, don’t expect the gut-wrenching emotion that was once displayed. Take it as you will, and enjoy it.
Seeing the same concert two nights in a row is always interesting. Sometimes you can predict what song is next, or even what joke is next. However, it’s never been more apparent how much a setting (venue) can effect the mood of a show or just my mood when I go to a concert. First and foremost- I’d like to thank Emily Provansal at Nettwerk, as well as Jason Hecht for allowing me to see this tour!
Pepperdine University, a small private school in Malibu, CA. Also at a small southern California university, I quickly became jealous of the amazing views and incredible location of the school. Including free in-n-out burger with each ticket, as well as free concert posters of the night, Pepperdine did really well at putting on a quality concert.
Opener Kate York, I have to assume is a friend of Jars Of Clay. While her voice is crisp, clear and perfectly in-tune, singer-songwriters are a dime and dozen and she’s no exception. Just one song and I was laying flat on my back in the grass listening to her incessant lullabies. Imagine Eisley’s vocals with simple chords and straight-forward strum patterns.
Matt Wertz, as some of our readers may have seen over the past half-year, is easily one of my favorite artists. Learning before the show during my interview that tonight he would just be accompanied with guitarist Justin Rosolino, I was quite anxious to see how his more upbeat songs would sound.
His set contained a good mix of songs from the new record “Everything In Between” as well as past releases, dating back to 2003’s “Twenty Three Places.” Interaction with the crowd contained his open confession of having his own song, “Heartbreaker” as his ringtone. Sorry Matt, I have Carolina. Using the incredible talents of Jars Of Clay’s Stephen Mason on Carolina, the mandolin rounded out the most complete sounding acoustic set I have ever heard. Matt’s live show is just not perceivable without seeing it and it’s impossible to capture in CD form.
Jars Of Clay, I’m not really sure where to begin with this band. They’ve been around since I was just six years old and recently released another studio album entitled “Good Monsters.” Their U2-esque CD sound is replicated perfectly by their incredibly talented lineup. Bright lights and every instrument from drums to lap steel, it’s easy to see that the band has honed their live show to perfection.
While their music is not my favorite, it is easy to enjoy fan favorites like Flood, Love Song For a Savior & the newer additions to their repertoire, Dead Man & All My Tears. While Jars Of Clay appeals to a wide audience, most of the crowd looked like graduates of either university, or Christian Radio junkies, and the band drew quite well at both venues.
If I had to pick one show to attend, the setting of Pepperdine as well as a longer set for Matt Wertz (including Like The Last Time and I Will Not Take My Love Away), clinched that decision for me, however if you have the opportunity to see Matt Wertz or Jars of Clay live I would definitely recommend it, just maybe not at the same show. That is the reason for the 7.5 rating, otherwise it was a very good concert experience.
Check out my photos from the show here.