For electric music lovers, last weekend’s Electric Circus music festival in Shanghai, China was an unparalleled event. Located in the heart of the new Pudong region of Shanghai, this festival was China’s first ever large-scale indoor electronic music festival. In the roomy Pudong Exhibition Center, two different spaces were set up for a lengthy six-hour festival featuring dozens of acts and performances, including both local and international artists.
Throughout the night, the Shanghai crowd raved to the various DJs. With fans ranging from local EDM enthusiasts to international fans from countries around the world, by the end of the night, hundreds of people came to enjoy the music. Among headline artists such as Roger Sanchez, DJ Falcon, Surkin, and many more, the crowd at Electric Circus especially loved Swanky Tunes, a Russia based electronic music trio. Playing mixes of popular songs such as Sweet Nothing by Calvin Harris and Clarity by Zedd, as well as with some of their own music, Swanky Tunes got the crowd hyped up and singing along.
To add to the circus-y vibe established by the name of the festival, costumed men, men on stilts, and acrobatic performers roamed the exhibition center. With great music, vibrant lighting, and an endless supply of pizza and beer, the Electric Circus music festival in Shanghai, China was a huge success, leading the way for more EDM festivals in China.
Bands:fun., Andrew McMahon Location: Boston, Massachusetts’s The Orpheum Date: February 1, 2013 All pictures by Avery Fiftal for Lost In The Sound
You may know fun. simply as the band that sings “We Are Young” or maybe you know them as the band that had 3 songs in the Billboard Top 100 in 2012 and who had their second full album, Some Nights, recently go platinum, but this band has much more humble beginnings than this.
fun. was formed in February 2008 after Nate Ruess’s former band The Format split. Fun. was formed when Ruess brought in Andrew Dost and Jack Antonoff from Anathallo and Steel Train, and they released their first album, Aim and Ignite, in August 25, 2009. This album took off in the alternative music scene getting recognition as a progressive and amazingly written pop album. The next year, fun. set off on their first North American tour with the band Jack’s Mannequin.
Two years later and the song “We Are Young” started changing this band’s life. On March 7, 2012, Fun’s single “We Are Young” reached the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and their sophomore album, Some Nights, took off from there and they have been continuously touring since.
Andrew McMahon opened the show with a mix of classic Something Corporate songs along with his soulful Jack’s Mannequin tunes. Though not many people in the crowd seemed to know many of McMahon’s songs due to the fact that he was added to the tour after it was sold out, he seemed to capture the attention of many prospective fans. As McMahon’s first solo tour the few fans in the crowd were greatly anticipating what was to come about, and I must say, as a fan myself, I was thoroughly impressed. With everything from “Dark Blue” to “I Woke Up In A Car” we were able to hear Andrew McMahon’s journey over the last 10 years. It was simply amazing to be able to see McMahon perform live for the first time as a solo artist and be able to see his growth all in one performance.
Next, it was fun’s turn to play to the full house at The Orpheum. They opened with “Out On the Town”, a bonus track from Some Nights and you could feel the excitement of the crowd completely radiate throughout the room. Dedicated fans of fun. screamed the lyrics along with Ruess and as the set progressed, you could feel the amazement and astonishment of the crowd grow as more and more well known songs were performed. “Some Nights” and “We Are Young” got screaming whoops and a rowdy singalong from every head in that crowd, while the lyrics to songs such as “Barlights” and “The Gambler” flowed out of devoted fans alike.
Fun. put on a show that was thoroughly impassioned and impressive to new and old fans alike. Their like show all in all proved why this band has taken off so well in the last year. Everything from Ruess’s extraordinary stage presence to Jack Antoff’s staggering guitar solos to Andrew Dost playing everything from piano to stealing Ruess’s famous gold microphone, it was a show to remember. And the Boston Celtics jerseys weren’t a bad touch either.
Bands:Dispatch, Good Old War Location: Boston, Massachusetts’s Agganis Arena Date: October 6, 2012 All pictures by Avery Fiftal for Lost In The Sound
About 12 hours before the doors of the concert even opened, the three members of the Boston-based band Dispatchbegan work on their national service project at the Boston Arts Academy with about 200 other volunteers. Amplifying Education is a campaign started by Dispatch to support local organizations and improve the education of children across the United States. On the same day most shows, the band will get together with over a hundred fan volunteers and try to make a big difference in the lives of children across the country. I went near the end of the event to check it out and help out. Near the end of the event, I noticed two friends waiting to get more paint. They were simply looking around and were amazed at the work that they did in only a couple hours. As the event came to a close, it was clear to see that the hours of hard work in the school created bonds between people that met that same day. Some people came to just help and see the band, as they could not make the concert the same night. You can watch a video of Dispatch playing “The General” with students at the Boston Arts Academy during the event.
Good Old War opened for Dispatch at the Agganis Arena in Boston to promote their new album that came out earlier this year, Come Back as Rain. For the majority of the audience, it was just enjoyable music to listen to as they bought their drinks and snacks and sat down. The crowd had fans of all ages. As diverse as the people there were, there was not a short amount of fans of Good Old War. “Coney Island” was met with applause and cheer while parts of the crowd sang along. As the opening show ended, the stadium gradually became full as everybody found their seats waiting anxiously for Dispatch.
As soon as Dispatch came on stage, everybody in the stadium stood up as they opened with “Time Served”. The crowd was energetic and almost everybody stayed standing the entire show. When some of the unfamiliar, new songs from Circles Around the Sun appeared, a number of people would sit down. However, all of the songs that were written before their long hiatus were met with liveliness from the entire crowd. The crowd knew all the live versions of every old song they had such as the repeating chant of “go now you are forgiven” in “The General” or the amazing build-up and introduction of “Flying Horses”. Throughout the show, the three main members of Dispatch had other people join them on stage, but as they ended with “Elias” there only remained Chad, Brad and Pete. It was amazing to see thousands of people sing along to such a powerful song that was made 16 years ago for their debut album, Silent Steeples.
There were fans of all ages at the show and it was awesome to see so many different kinds of people singing along to songs by a band I never thought would get back together. Dispatch knew how to have fun and entertain the crowd while still remaining musically adept. This is the first time I’ve ever been to a Dispatch show and before I have always heard stories of how great the energy of the crowd was. Going to the concert solidified my opinion of Dispatch being a great band that can have so much fun at a concert and having one of the best fan bases that a band can have.
Band:Blink-182 Location: London, England’s Brixton Academy Date: July 25, 2012
The sun certainly made Blink feel welcome to London, as it looked more like Coronado Beach than Brixton last night for their last gig in the UK this tour. The fans were out in the skimpiest of summer clothing as this is the first real week of summer London has yet to see; vests, shorts and converse were the most popular combo, but the ladies were not afraid to show a bit of flesh even during the proceedings of the gig. The boys, touching late 30’s were still happy to see that the females were as eager to show a bit of under-garment as they did back in the late 90’s when the band were busting out tunes like “All The Small Things” for the first time.
Brixton Academy certainly looked at its finest last night with a set up that you’d presume a relatively new band would be gracing the stage with, but no, they just want to show the fans a good time and that’s exactly what happened, with the band been no less than 20ft away from the front row. The venue was rammed and it was time for the support slot to come on; Watford born boys Lower than Atlantis gave it a shot and to be fair to the boys, they did pretty damn well. I mean, it’s not gonna be easy supporting any big band when you’re the only support slot on, but having to warm the crowd up for Blink, I have to give them a pat on the back, frontman ‘Mike Duce’ certainly gave it his all and then some. At one point even trying out a classic ‘Hulk Hogan’ ear salute to the crowd, and when it failed replying, “That was a tad Butlins wasn’t it?” and a lot of people had time for that kind of banter. Although, their actual playing and performance didn’t meet up to the mark and I would have liked to see someone more tight and professional filling that 30 minute slot they luckily received from God knows where. LTA seem like a great bunch of guys, but come on promoters, supporting Blink, wake up and listening to the great bands out there that deserve this instead of putting some FAD on that won’t last more than three years from now.
So it was time for Blink to come on as the black curtain of excitement drops, everyone’s screams simmer into the pits of their stomach where the butterflies have been dwelling, waiting to burst out full throttle back and forth across the room. Get ready for action, “Feeling This” opens the set and fans automatically charge towards the front, crowd surfing along the 5000 people venue. The atmosphere was never tainted with any negativity as everyone was enthralled with the spectacular and legendary pop punk band stood before them. It just got bigger and better for fans as they did not stop playing hit after of hit with classics such as; “All The Small Things”, “What’s My Age Again?”, and “Man Overboard”. They even intervened with an acoustic set of four songs including “Going Away To College” and “Roller Coaster”, which was a new experiment for Blink to try out this tour and they knocked it out the park and had fans dancing throughout. Travis even played “Can a Drummer Get Some?” off of his own debut solo album which had fans going wild throughout the venue.
Mark, Tom and Travis’ relationship seemed like it was better than ever. Mark was the most talkative of the bunch and often spoke to the crowd getting them warmed up even more so than needed. Tom and Travis had a little mix up during the set, as timing was of the essence; luckily it was just during “The Blowjob Song”. Tom went on to say on twitter last night; “I think this is the best time of Blink 182’s career, and we will be carrying on doing great things in the near future.” I hope they do as this is band that will never get old even with the next generation of music lovers to come. I’m happy I got to see this band during this point of this career.
“Hello, we’re Death Cab For Cutie from Seattle,” Ben Gibbard timidly introduced his band after playing the concluding notes to “A Lack of Color”. But just as abruptly as the band began their set at Yunfeng Theatre, Ben’s introduction was suddenly overwhelmed by a wave of cheers from the adoring crowd that was seeing them play for the first time. Earlier this month, Death Cab played their first ever show in China and for a city so hungry for international acts, Death Cab’s inclusion into the JUE Festival was a perfect way to follow-up Shanghai’s recent visits from Mogwai and The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. And while the crowd wasn’t entirely that energetic throughout most of the show – perhaps influenced by the nontraditional rock venue, a smallish theatre that limited excessive jumping and dancing – it was clear that they were definitely into the show and the music being played.
From that point on, it was obvious that the band had settled into a comfort zone of sorts, launching into their more well-known tracks like “You Are a Tourist” and even a solo performance of “I Will Follow You Into The Dark” that had the crowd singing and swaying along. Although the tracklist was heavy with songs from 2003’s Transatlanticism (a total of six songs!), the band rounded out the evening by including songs from Narrow Stairs, We Have the Facts and We’re Voting Yes, and The Photo Album.
Accompanied by waves of flashing lights, Ben even took a turn on an extra set of drums for an extended, heavily instrumental rendition of “We Looked Like Giants” where the band launched into a five-minute jam session. For the rest of the night, Ben alternated between playing the keyboard and the guitar, but of course, he was at his best behind the microphone, with the acoustics of the theatre and the diligence of the sound crew making his voice sound even better than on record. Those who weren’t awestruck by Ben’s stage presence and his vocal skills happily sang along, giving the theatre an extremely warm and intimate atmosphere that really complemented the music being played.
After going through 21 songs in just under two hours, Ben graciously thanked the adoring crowd and the band headed off surrounded by cheers from the packed theatre that just wasn’t ready to leave yet.
A Lack of Color
I Will Possess Your Heart
We Laugh Indoors
Doors Unlocked and Open
Codes and Keys
Different Names For The Same Thing
I Will Follow You Into The Dark
Title and Registration
You Are a Tourist
The New Year
Company Calls Epilogue
Soul Meets Body
We Looked Like Giants
The Sound of Settling
Underneath The Sycamore
A Movie Script Ending
Bands:Mogwai, Wang Wen Location: Shanghai, China’s MAO Livehouse Date: November 28, 2011
Opening for a band you’ve revered for years and based your own music on must be one of the hardest things in the world. The other night, Chinese post rock band Wang Wen was put up to this very task when they solemnly took the stage as support for Glaswegian five-piece Mogwai, who were making their very first appearance in Shanghai.
And for the most part, they held their own, warming up the crowd for the main act. Aside from being surprised by the occasional, shrieking outbursts of the Shanghai concertgoers, Wang Wen found themselves enjoying the attention of a good-natured crowd hungry for some solid instrumental music. As they worked through their tremolo-heavy set, however, it became clear that people were aching to see Mogwai take their turn and the Chinese band good-naturedly wrapped things up, leaving the crew to set up and the venue to buzz excitedly about what was to come.
With a flash of lights and a blast of smoke, Stuart Braithwaite announced his band’s triumphant appearance with a few thank-you’s and waves. With that, Mogwai launched directly into Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will‘s opening track “White Noise”. Complemented by the hazy, smoke-filled venue’s dazzling light show, Mogwai’s music hit hard, sending the crowd into uproar.
Throughout the entire set, they played a lot of old fan-favorite songs that weren’t on the new album such as “Mogwai Fear Satan”, “Auto Rock”, and “Glasgow Mega-Snake”. Each transition was masterfully planned out and it ultimately became remarkable to see Mogwai seamlessly switch from a mellow tone to one that might appear at a metal concert. The build-ups of each song were probably the most impressive aspects of the show, something the band has been heralded for in the past. And from seemingly out of nowhere, Mogwai in unison would shock the crowd with a massive drop, blasting a chord or riff at maximum volume.
Perhaps the weirdest part of the night was the end of the final twenty-minute-long encore. Pumped by the adoration of the crowd, Braithwaite began a relentless wave of, well, sound. With around five different distortion pedals laid in front of him, Braithwaite would press each one in order to intensify the escalation of the song. As he fiddled with the pedals and his amp, he refused to end, building up layer after layer of fuzzy, heart-thumping noise. Ten minutes and a few broken strings later, he finally decided enough was enough and walked off the stage with the sound still going, leaving the crowd dumbfounded but thoroughly impressed by the craftiness of the guitar legend.
01. White Noise
02. Ithica 27 – 9
03. How To Be a Werewolf
04. I’m Jim Morrison, I’m Dead
05. Mexican Grand Prix
06. Helicon 1
07. Auto Rock
08. You’re Lionel Richie
09. Friend of the Night
10. Hunted By A Freak
11. Mogwai Fear Satan
These days are some of the last days of the fall in Sweden, and the land awaits thick white carpets of snow to wipe off the ghosts of last spring in the form of all the yellow and orange leaves laying on the ground or still holding on to the most reluctant trees.
Autumn, in my opinion, is a season that fits very well with post rock, so there couldn’t have been a better time of the year for me to attend a live performance of Explosions in the Sky, whose European tour brought them to Stockholm and onto the stage of Debaser Medis. This Texas band re-defined the genre, becoming almost synonymous with cinematic, emotional instrumental tunes, quickly gaining the reputation of having a killer live show.
The music started around 8 with opening act The Drift. I really liked this band, and one of the things that made them so enjoyable for me was that despite the fact that the California trio also are defined as instrumental post-rock, their approach was very different from that of Explosions in the Sky, blessing the evening with some variety.
The trio generated a massive wall of sound with the aid of very essential instrumentation (a minimal drum kit, a bass, a guitar and a synth) and their set alternated between static and haunting moments to marching drums and psychedelic rock vibes. Somewhere in between This Will Destroy You and Maserati, but with a retro twist, The Drift entertained (and impressed) the audience of an almost sold out Debaser Medis, (around 1500-2000 people maybe?), all warmed up for the leading act of the evening.
A quick change of instrumentation on stage and curtains opened up again, revealing Explosions in the Sky ready to start their set. A quick introduction speech and the music started with fan-favorite “First Breath After Coma”, the wonderful opener to the band’s album The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place. The band’s trademarks are its simple, yet intricate guitar textures that perfectly melt on top of the rhythm section, and I think the musicians definitely live up to their reputation as a great live band, being able to re-create the magic of their formula perfectly on a stage, even adding a lot more energy and dynamics.
After the familiar first song, the band moved on to play a track from their new album (Take Care, Take Care, Take Care) called “Last Known Surroundings”, that gets a lot sharper and more aggressive live than on the record, with an extremely distorted e-bowed guitar on a side and a cleaner, more melodic one on the other, all fueled by marching drums and pounding bass. The songs off the new record shine in a different light on stage, bringing in a more progressive feel with overall faster tempo and heavier music. After a brief intersection, the band launched into “Catastrophe and The Cure”, making everyone headbang before abruptly ending with a wall of distortion to set the ground for “The Only Moment We Were Alone”, probably my personal favorite song of the band. One single string hammering the same note on a guitar evolved into an enchanting 3 guitar arpeggio texture and evolved until it reached its emotional and musical climax. Faded background voices and noise introduced “Let Me Back In”, bringing a darker mood to the table along with the older “Greet Death” . The mood then shifted lighter again with the bright, major chords that introduced “Be Comfortable, Creature”.
One of the most emotional break-downs of the evening is probably the intro to “The Birth And Death Of The Day”, where walls of distortion turned into a carpet of arpeggio guitars before finally bleeding into “The Moon Is Down”, an epic outro to a really great concert where both The Drift and Explosions in the Sky carried the audience along with them on a musical and emotional journey.