Hometown heroes State Champs played to a sold out crowd in Clifton Park, NY on Sunday along with co-headliner Neck deep, and Knuckle Puck. Friends, fans and parents flocked to Upstate Concert Hall, packing the venue door to barricade for the last show of the AP Tour.
The crowd was vivacious from the beginning; Knuckle Puck took the stage after Like Pacific and had the room jumping, waving and singing along while the floor was still filling in. Cell phones lit the air and hands swayed back and forth, creating a strong sense of unity between the band itself and the audience as a whole. An encouraging welcome to late comers, their energy and presence as performers engaged the audience who responded with their words, body language and a lot of jumping.
The crowd ushered Neck Deep on with chants and screams. The pop-punk British boy band fed the crowd sincerity and high energy from the start, opening their set with a discussion about the support they had to offer for those struggling with depression before launching into their totally encompassing set. Lead singer, Ben Barlow, went so far as to burp into the mic while talking. How’s that for sincerity? But overall, their catchy songs and stage demeanor had fans at their most excited.
The venue was ready to burst by the time State Champs came on. The crowd started screaming as soon as their Around the World and Back branded banner was visible. Fans, friends and family welcomed their local-turned-national band home with abundant energy, met by no shortage of excitement from the band itself. Pumping out hits like “Secrets”, “All You are is History” and “Losing Myself” from their new album Around the World and Back, the band had everyone captivated.
They jumped and twirled and swapped spaces on stage, engaging and entertaining the crowd with their dynamics. Lead singer, Derek DiScanio, started “If I’m Lucky” acoustic, the whole band quietly resuming their places on stage before coming in together strong at the end. You can see in their performance the work they’ve put in, constantly touring and working over the last 5 years. There’s bound to be a lot more Sold Out shows in their future, just make sure you get a ticket next time!]]>
Syracuse natives, Ra Ra Riot, began the tour for their newest album “Need Your Light” in Albany, NY Wednesday at The Hollow.
The long, narrow space filled with a range of people drinking and dancing to the high energy openers, Sun Club and PWRBTTM. Bumping elbows and beer glasses in the dark, cramped bar space, struggling to hold their ground.
The venue, which is essentially divided into three long thin rooms, has an odd structural arrangement for supporting shows. The stage, crowd and bar packed into one third of the total space provided a subpar atmosphere for both the crowd and the sound. But the focused shifted from the room to the atmosphere once Ra Ra Riot began.
The five of them shared the tiny stage and quickly drew the crowd in with intimacy as their performance progressed. Wes Miles kept everyone upbeat with his falsetto vocals and catchy hooks. The glittering violin and stand-up bass helped to create a unique sound and unexpected feel, as the band pumped out strong, colorful pop rock.
The group even slowed it down to play some material acoustic, stating they were “trying new things,” and inviting the audience to join them, before jumping back in as a full band, including the audience on an even more intimate level. Their happy and energetic presence filled the space, rippling through the crowd as they played hits like “Dance With Me”, “Bad Times” and “Absolutely”. The audience bounced with movement and cheers, singing along rambunctiously to “Can You Tell”.
The band’s presence commanded the packed room, and their unique mix of indie rock and pop came together in a rewarding way, providing the audience with a bubbly dance track to kick off the weekend too. Thanks to Ra Ra Riot, the cramped, unpleasant bar became a little cozier and more enjoyable.
The crowd poured into the Haunt in Ithaca at the end of February, packing the bar wall to wall with a range of individuals anticipating Kurt Vile’s performance. The space was filled with fans from the edge of the stage to the bouncers by the door, waiting to hear the indie idol serenade them with gentle rock from his latest “B’lieve I’m going Down”.
As the people settled in, Xylorius White kept them occupied but growing eager with their alternative appearance, eclectic sound and strong sonic outbursts. Two men with tufts of unruly hair and twice as many years as many of the concert goers raged back and forth, creating an interesting and rhythmic atmosphere that set the tone for the main act.
When the Violators finally took the stage, the room was receptive. Kurt Vile came bouncing up to the center mic in his bright red sneakers with his hair everywhere, exuding energy as calm and thoughtful as his tunes. The crowd cheered, ready to take it in.
The progression through their new material captivated the audience, warming up the space with the wavy, flowing sound of “Dust Bunnies”. The band gained momentum as they moved through the bouncy and rhythmic “I’m an Outlaw”, and onto their single “Pretty Pimpin”, which carried the crowd through the door of their performance with its melodic wash and strong rock undercurrent.
By this point, anyone who had come to the venue unsure of Kurt Vile’s music had been convinced. He wobbled about on stage, moving around on one foot, hiding behind his hair and holding his guitar over his head. The Violators backed him with subtle strength as the lyrics fell from Vile’s mouth and the crooning riffs poured from his fingers. The audience was floating in Vile’s atmosphere.
Perfect for a Sunday night, the band provided the right mix of punchy rhythm and smooth melodic sound that made for an enveloping, low-energy experience that was easy to get lost in. No need to jump or yell, just hop on Vile’s wavelength and take a ride. But don’t worry, the neighbors still complained.]]>
Welcome to phase two of Gaining Ground Media! We’d like to personally invite all of you to join in the rebirth of our site. After a temporary hiatus, and with the help of new staff, we are returning full-force to deliver coverage of our thriving New England music and arts scene.
We’ve got a lot of exciting work on the horizon and are looking forward to sharing our journey with you!
Gaining Ground Media is a reflection of our creative New England community. With your input and support, we hope to grow together as a hub for appreciation and consideration of music and arts, both locally and beyond.
A special thanks to those who’ve stuck with us and supported us since the beginning. Thank you to everyone who has had a part in helping to keep the Northeast’s music scene alive. And thank you for reading!
Gaining Ground Media
Since 2004, this Cincinnati-based band has been rocking out venues and entertaining ever-growing audiences with their jazzy-rock alternative beats.
On June 25, Foxy Shazam took over Buffalo’s Town Ballroom, drawing in fans of all shapes and sizes for the same reason: to listen to Foxy’s new and old music, while watching one helluva show.
Foxy isn’t the kind of band that takes their places, strums their strings, beats their drums, sings their notes and then calls it a night. No. Schuyler Vaughn White does handstands while playing his keyboard, Alex Nauth dances all over the stage while playing his trumpet, Daisy Caplan and Loren Daniel Turne hold guitars above their heads, Aaron McVeigh bashes his symbols off of Eric Sean Nally head who was endlessly flipping and rolling and jumping around the stage while singing songs from all of their albums.
It wasn’t just a concert, it was a full-blown show. And the crowd in the pit was just as amped up as the band was.
They started their set with “Gonzo”, the single off of their newest album with the same title. Starting out with their most recent hit got everyone’s attention right off the bat, and they kept the show going with energized hits from their 2014 album.
As they concluded that set, they announced that it was just an intermission. And sure enough, Foxy swarmed the stage once again, with new outfits and whole new vibe, throwing the audience back to their last album “The Church of Rock and Roll” with hits like “The Streets” and “I Like It”. But they took it even further back to their 2010 self-titled album with “Only Way To My Heart” and “Bombs Away”, as well as songs off of their 2008 album “Introducing Foxy Shazam” like “Yes! Yes! Yes!”.
No one can say that this show lacked variety of any sorts.
Nally’s vocals were right on key. They had accuracy, energy and passion — everything a vocalist should possess. Better yet, he was all about getting the audience involved by singing directly to them, talking to them between songs and plugging the city of Buffalo into his dialogue. Right on, Eric!
Even those who may not have been die-hard fans, or maybe had not heard their music before at all, were definitely entertained throughout Foxy’s performance in June at The Town Ballroom. If given the chance to witness these guys live, it’s definitely worth the money.]]>
Gaining Ground Media’s own Kaitlyn Affuso got to speak with Daisy from Foxy Shazam about their surprise release “Gonzo” and their inspirations.
GGM: You’re going Gonzo, huh? Why? What is the “gonzo” that inspired this album?
Daisy: We’re going GON50 because life is inherently GON50, and we have surrendered
to living it to the fullest for better or worse. Thus, the inspiration is
life itself, to answer the second question.
GGM: Aside from the direct inspiration, what do you think sets “Gonzo” apart
from the past albums, especially from your last album, “The Church of Rock
Daisy: I think the biggest difference between the two albums is that there are
different songs on each of them.
GGM: Alright, guys, favorite son and why?
Daisy: The parenting books tell you that that you’re not supposed to pick a
favorite and you’re a bad parent if you do. Are you trying to tear my family
GGM: What was the biggest struggle in writing/recording this album? What was
the easiest aspect of its making?
Daisy: The biggest struggle was being true to ourselves creatively no matter what
the cost. It was also the easiest part, once we got past how hard it was.
GGM: In comparison to Foxy’s past work, where do you rank this album?
Daisy: I think you should go back to that answer about having favorite kids. If
there was a parenting book for bands, they would tell you the same thing
GGM: You guys assembled the band back in ’04… do you find that you’re
stringing along the same fan-base from day 1, while adding new fans along
the way? Or do you think, in recent years, you’ve created a whole new
Daisy: I think we’ve retained most of the fans we had at the beginning and added
new ones. I generally see familiar faces year after year in addition to the
new ones. They feel like family after a while. It’s a nice feeling.
GGM: What bands do you find inspiration in? Who/what has helped you guys form
the band into what it is today?
Daisy: Our tour mates Larry and His Flask had their van stolen with all their gear
and belongings inside. They were back in action within 48 hours with smiles
on their faces. it was insane and a total inspiration how deft they were in
handling that situation. That inspired us greatly.
Watch Foxy Shazam’s newest video “Tragic Thrill:
Catch Foxy Shazam and Larry and His Flask on tour:
Jun 25 Buffalo, NY Town Ballroom
Jun 27 Cleveland, OH Grog Shop
Jun 28 Columbus, OH Newport Music Hall
July 12 Cincinnati, OH Bunbury Music Festival
Jul 26 Denver, CO Summit Music Hall
Jul 28 Phoenix, AZ Crescent Ballroom
Jul 29 Solana Beach, CA Belly Up Tavern
Jul 31 Los Angeles, CA El Rey Theatre
Aug 1 San Francisco, CA Slim’s
Aug 2 Sacramento, CA The Assembly
Aug 5 Spokane, WA The Hop
Aug 7 Portland, OR Hawthorne Theatre
Aug 8 Seattle, WA Neumos
Aug 9 Vancouver, BC Venue
Aug 11 Boise, ID Neurolux
Aug 12 Salt Lake City, UT In The Venue
Aug 14 Sioux Falls, SD Orpheum Theater
Aug 15 Lawrence, KS Granada Theater
Aug 16 Davenport, IA River Roots Live Festival @ LeClaire Park
People parked their cars all along Outer Harbor Drive in Buffalo, parading into the open lot on the water, where boats began to anchor and the drinks started to flow, all anticipating last night’s entertainment.
With their opening act being The Cults, who sing “Go Outside” were a decent opening act, despite some dullness. It was a peaceful act to be listened to on a perfect day; however, it seemed as if only half of the band had their hearts into it. Rather, it looked like the bassist and one guitarist was literally about to fall asleep. But hey, maybe it was just a tough day…
Vampire Weekend made their entrance with pounding rap music, the drop-down of a floral canvas background and a big mirror, which displayed different light shows throughout their set.
As a fan of Vamp Wknd from years back, it was more exciting to hear songs from their past albums rather than just from their newest album “Modern Vampires of the City” that was released in May of 2013. That being said, when they rocked out their hit single “Diane Young” from the 2013 album, the crowd went nuts, and vibe from the stage to the audience was prime.
The second and third songs played were “White Sky” and “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa,” both off of older albums. Whether the songs they performed were new or old, the crowd was electric, and that’s what made it that much more fun — the crowd wasn’t filled with many band-wagoners. It was clear they were fans from the beginning, too.
Other songs they performed were “Campus,” “Oxford Comma,” “Giving Up The Gun,” and “Horchata,” with the whole crowd singing along to the oh’s and ah’s and the reoccurring lyrical line: “Here comes the feeling you thought you’d forgotten.”
Better yet, Ezra Koenig’s vocals and guitar riffs sounded as if they were straight off the track, but the band made room for some improvisation and instrumental solos. Rostam Batmanglij (guitarist, keyboardist, backup vocals), Chris Tomson (drummer) and Chris Baio (bassist, backup vocals) all had just as much energy and accuracy as Koenig. Listening to these guys play live created such nostalgia, splitting listeners in two, putting them in the past and the present all at once.
From the moment the alarm clock screeches to the last ounce of resistance your eyelids have fighting to stay awake, we are surrounded by an overwhelming presence of technology, traffic, and buzzing bright lights. If you are like the majority of folks your head is buried in your cellphone any chance you get, living vicariously through social media. We have a constant itch to feel connected. However, when it comes to figuring out what we should be connected to, we seem misguided. When was the last time you stopped and watched the sun rise or set? Listened to the birds chattering back and forth? Or actually felt the rain or the warming sun on your skin? Maybe that’s what we’re missing in our day-to-day life. A calm, a reset.
Meet your new travel guide and engineers of escapism, Vacationer. This electronic pop 4-piece out of Philadelphia, PA and New York, NY is sure to let your mind slip into an adventure without even having to leave your couch. The band consists of Kenny Vasoli (bass/vocals), Matthew Young (vibraphone/backing vocals), Ryan Zimmaro (drums), Michael Mullin (keyboards/backing vocals) and Greg Altman (guitar/backing vocals). With a soundscape full of “simple, clean ingredients” layered with eccentric, tropical sounds, Vacationer has stepped off the beaten path and wandered into a genre all their own. A truly refreshing, feel good sound.
Vasoli (formerly of pop-punk band The Starting Line) started this new project out anonymously in hopes of preventing “past life fans” from forming any preconceived notions about a band with his name plastered all over it. He admits the genre change can be “a hard pill to swallow” for die hard TSL fans but was hoping his anonymity would help people to go into it with an open mind. “I just wanted to be able to keep acting my age and try something completely new.”
Since their 2012 debut release “Gone” Vacationer has stayed busy on the road spreading their good vibes and escapism. Fast forward two years later, with nearly a year off writing, the band is scheduled to release “Relief” – their second full length with Downtown Records available June 24th. Working with Matt and Grant from Body Language, Vasoli and the other members of Vacationer have collaborated to bring us yet another headphone trip.
Sonically, “Relief” will parallel “Gone” while incorporating the live feel of the band, and some deeper sounds to give the record more depth. This time around listeners can expect more energy on the record. After taking cues from the audience at their live shows, Vacationer has made a conscious effort to bring that same energy to the record by adding the band to the recording process. And as if the music didn’t already paint a colorful picture in your head, they’ve taken cues from classical soundtrack composers like Martin Denny and Percy Faith to add an even more whimsical, cinematic sound to this record.
Vacationer has an energy and spirit all its own. Vasoli says that “it’s supposed to be a reminder to relax and enjoy life.” He is humble in acknowledging that they realize how fortunate they are for the life they live and not everyone is that lucky. Their goal is to offer up any sort of relief to anyone they can. There are three things in life that are important to him that the he wants the music to portray: love, relaxation, and exploration. Love being the “purest form of euphoria” and something everybody wants; relaxation which is something that everyone needs to be reminded of; and exploration — which Vasoli admits isn’t for everyone — but the music surely will take you on a journey, and provide the escape that we often need to be reminded of.
Check out “In The Grass” off of Relief by Vacationer:]]>