ALESSIA CARA MAKES HER LOS ANGELES DEBUT @ THE TROUBADOUR

Canadian Alessia Cara made her highly anticipated Los Angeles debut at The Troubadour. Signed to Def Jam records based on her Soundcloud page that included covers of Lorde, The Neighbourhood, Sam Smith and Justin Bieber, this show marked Alessia's first headlining gig.

PINS ANNOUNCE U.S. SUMMER TOUR

Ahead of their June 9th release of their upcoming album Wild Nights, UK's PINS have released their new single "Young Girls." Also, they just announced their U.S. summer toiur which kicks off June 13rh in New York.

ZELLA DAY @ THE TROUBADOUR

Zella Day has released her debut album Kicker and she celebrated with a sold out show at LA's famed Troubadour last week.

MAKE MUSIC PASADENA SHINES IN ITS 8TH YEAR

Last Saturday, over 150 bands made their journey to downtown Pasadena to take part in Make Music Pasadena (MMP), billed as the largest free, all-day music festival on the West Coast.

WINTER @ THE ECHO

Winter's new album Supreme Blue Dream is the ideal soundtrack to your summer..

Sunday, March 31, 2013

VANS WARPED TOUR 2013 KICKS OFF IN STYLE

Dia Frampton
 Surprise performer Dia Frampton at the Vans Warped Tour kick-off concert.
photo by picksysticks

It was "The Best Day Ever" Thursday night as the annual  Vans Warped Tour Kick-Off party kicked off in style at Club Nokia.  "The Best Day Ever" is also the theme to this years' 19th annual Vans Warped Tour with a stellar line-up that features Sleeping With Sirens, We Came As Romans, Motion City Soundtrack, The Wonder Years, Reel Big Fish, Crown the Empire and many, many more.  

Gin Wigmore
http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8261/8607127001_a812bed312_b.jpg
Gin Wigmore will play all 40 dates on this years' Vans Warped Tour.
photo by picksysticks
Warped Tour, responsible for making  girl-fronted bands like No Doubt, Katy Perry and Paramore household names will also, this year,  showcase the best female-centric bands in the music industry has to offer such VersaEmerge, Tonight Alive, Gin Wigmore and also feature the best up-and-coming bands such as  The Indecent, New Years Day, Young London, Beebs and her Money Makers , Billy the Kid, Five Knives, Lost in Atlantis, Super Water Symphony, Allison Weiss and Echosmith.

Juliet SimmsJuliet Simms

In what has become an annual showcase, the Vans Warped Tour kick-off concert features surprise performances from past performers.  This night, fans were treated to very special guest  performances by Warped alums Dia Frampton, Juliet Simms and Charlotte Sometimes who recently gained success on last years' season of NBC's "The Voice." 

Earlier in the night, locals (all the way from Pasadena) Echosmith, consisting of siblings Jamie, Noah, Sydney and Graham, opened the party with their pop-rock sounds.  Their debut album, from Warner Bros. Records and Mike Elizonda (Tegan and Sara, No Doubt & Maroon 5) is expected to be released later this year. 

Hosted by comic Grant Cotter, the kick-off party showcased all styles of music for the music lover ranging from rock, pop, EDM, acoustic, R&B and folk which started the show with a media and press day that had founder Kevin Lyman officially announcing the lineup and revealing the first ever Spotify Stage which will showcase EDM artists on the tour.  

Echosmith
Echosmith opens up this years' kick-off party for Vans Warped Tour 2013.
photo by picksysticks
The 40-date 2013 VANS WARPED TOUR will begin June 15th in Auburn, WA and finish August 4th in Houston, TX.  Los Angeles dates take place June 20th and June 21st at the Pomona Fairplex.  Last year's Warped Tour at Pomona boasted its second largest attendance in history as more than 16,700 people showed up in the 90 degree heat.   


Kevin Lyman
Vans Warped Tour founder Kevin Lyman poses with musicians at the annual kick-off party at Club Nokia in Los Angeles. Photo by Picksysticks
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Friday, March 29, 2013

CHVRCHES Troubadour Show Sells Out In 20 minutes

CHVRCHES
Chvrches wins the SXSW Gulke Prize for Best Non-US act.
photo by Picksysticks
If you were one in 500 people lucky enough to grab tickets for Scottish buzz-band Chvrches' show at The Troubadour on June 1st, then consider yourself lucky.  The show which went on sale at 1pm Pacific Time officially sold out in 24 minutes. I say 'officially' because that's when the Troubadour site posted the "Sold Out" stamp on their site but in actuality, literally as soon as tickets were available at 1pm, there were no tiks available and you had to refresh the page every second in hopes that you'd be able to score any that became available.  

Even without releasing a full-lenth album (their short-EP finally dropped March 26th) Chvrches has been creating a lot of buzz since they formed in 2011, packing venues and selling out shows. And in that short amount of time, they were listed for this years' BBC's Sound of 2013.  Recently, they completed their first US tour and their SXSW debut won them the first ever annual Grulke Prize for Best Non-US act at the festival.  The Grulke Prize (awarded in three categories: Developing US Act, Developing Non-US Act and Career Act) is given to artists who are breaking new ground with their creativity and show the most promise in achieving their career goals.  They return this summer for their US tour for 17 shows ahead of their planned release of their debut album in September. 


"The Mother We Share" by CHVRCHES
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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

SKY FERREIRA'S NEW FOREVER 21 VIDEO

Sky Ferreira
Sky Ferreira at The Bootleg.
photo by picksysticks

Check out this new video featuring Sky Ferreira and her single "Lost In My Bedroom."  

As the new face of Forever 21, Sky Ferreira just released this new video featuring her song "Lost In My Bedroom" as part of Forever 21's "The Festival 2013 Capsule Collection."  Music meets fashion as Sky showcases a range of  festival favorites and must-haves like sheer pieces, bold colors and patterns, and crop tops! Ready for Festival 2013?  Check out the video below to get in the mood.

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Sunday, March 24, 2013

GIRLS ROCK FINAL DAY OF SXSW - DAY 5

Foxes' Louisa Rose Allen
Louisa Rose Allen of Foxes performs at The Hype Hotel.
photos by picksysticks
With the last day of SXSW,  we decided to take it slow, play tourist and check out the sights and food the fine city of Austin had to offer.  Rumors were finally made true with secret shows from Justin Timberlake, Prince and Smashing Pumpkins making fans line up early for a chance to get tickets. 

San Cisco @ SXSW
Scarlett Stevens of San Cisco
Duing Aussie BBQ, San Cisco's Scarlett Stevens performs during SXSW's Filter Magazine's Showdown at Cedar Street.
photo by picksysticks
San Cisco started off our day at Filter Magazine's Showdown at Cedar Street. So far, FILTER Magazine Showcases highlights  included: Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, Cold War Kids, Local Natives, Fitz and the Tantrums, Divine Fits, Joy Formidable, Talib Kweli, !!!, Wavves and Ra Ra Riot. Today, Filter featured the the Australian group, San Cisco, who I had a chance of meeting the indie-pop quartet night before chillin' in the Hilton lobby were currently on their first headlining tour of North America.  Their single "Awkward," receiving a lot of buzz has rocketed this indie-pop quartet since their formation in 2009 introduced America to their fresh and breezy alternative pop melodies mixing the sounds of Vampire Weekend and The Libertines.  San Cisco, when you watch their performance, comes off like seasoned veterans - to Jordi's suave leading vocals and Scarlette's determined drumming their confidence shows with ease with each member.  Add to that the dashes of playful synths and this group's charm can only grow with US audiences.

Bleached
Bleached performs on the last day of SXSW at Holy Mountain.
photos by picksysticks
Bleached, the fuzzy, pop-punk band echoes a vintage era of golden sunsets, feathered haircuts and 80's jean jackets.  If Best Coast is the pretty, Miss Congeniality of high school, then Bleached would be its bratty sister, smoking in the girls' bathroom.   

Louisa Rose Allen of FoxesComprised of sisters Jennifer and Jessica, Bleached comes to us by way of LA's San Fernando Valley, home of strip malls, rolling summer blackouts and the occasional tremor or earthquakes.  Equal parts sensual and bitchy, their debut album Ride Your Heart travels from fast, mosh-pitt frenzy to romantic, hazy, pop harmonies.  Bleached just announced their 2013 European tour which takes them to 14 cities including London, Glasgow, Berlin and France beginning in May but you can catch them when they return to Los Angeles to perform at The Troubadour on May 8th.

Our South By experience ended at one of my favorite venues – the Hype Hotel, where Britain's Foxes was performing.  Don't let your youthful appearance trick you, Louisa Rose Allen's songs echoes a maturity only one can experience with living a heavy life and she sounds like she's lived a long one based on her songs of heartbreak. 

Luring seductive beats that swells in arena-ready anthems makes her new EP Warrior something everyone should experience.  22-year-old Allen's larger than life voice captivates in melodic dream-pop melodies like "White Coats" and "Youth."  But it's songs like the tender "Home" that  showcases Foxes ability to make you love and hate her for being so damned talented.  

And with that, South By Southwest came to an end for us.  Our first experience was more than what we expected and then some.  Great music, great food and above all, great people made SXSW 2013 one of the best music festivals of the world.  

See also:
GIRLS ROCK SXSW - DAY 1
GIRLS ROCK SXSW - DAY 2
GIRLS ROCK SXSW - DAY 3
GIRLS ROCK SXSW - DAY 4
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Friday, March 22, 2013

GIRLS ROCK SXSW - DAY 4 (Joy Formidable, Dollyrots, Kitten and The Balconies)

Joy Formidable
Lustre Pearl hosted Joy Formidable during Friday's SXSW Music Festival.
photo by picksysticks

Waking up to start day 4 of SXSW with the exhilarating feeling of more music but also the sadness of the coming end of this great music festival. Exhausted but carrying on, watching 6th Street begin to wake up faster than the night cleaning crew could wipe away the previous night's debauchery and mayhem.  Friday night promises to bring an onslaught of weekend partiers and some of the music industry's heavy hitters - Justin Timberlake, Prince and Smashing Pumpkins are rumored to be playing secret shows.  

But that's a mere  hours away. The day is still young and the first sounds of music begin start to bleed out onto the Austin streets. Surprisingly, fans are even seen this early to catch their favorite band - YOLO, right?  


Dollyrots
Dollyrots performing for The Music Saves Lives Showcase during SXSW.
photo by picksysticks
The punkish pop sounds of The Dollyrots lured me to The Firehouse. They were playing as part of The Music Saves Lives Showcase, a mission to educate people about the importance of blood donation and the bone marrow registry by using music and entertainment to get the message out.   The Dollyrots, let by Kelly Ogden and Luis Cabezas had one of my favorite albums last year. Fully fan supported via Kickstarter, their self-titled release strayed away from the bubble-gum punk-pop heard on their earlier records showing us a more mature side of the group. Actually, this album, along with their last "A Little Messed Up,"  have showcased their growth in music; more polished and more three-dimensional.  Very hook-oriented, catchy lyrics that'll make you want to sing and dance like no one's watching, power chords along with Kelly's adorable vocals make The Dollyrots worth watching in person to see and hear these songs performed live.  
Kitty Pryde


After The Dollyrots, it was back to my favorite venue, The Hype Hotel, to catch Florida teen-rapper Kitty Pryde.  Her hypnotic, slacker-rap song, "Orion's Belt" is contagious and hard not to like and has been viewed over a million times on YouTube.  But it was her performance filled with nervous energy and bouts of giggling during her songs that left most at the Stereogum showcase scratching their heads.  

There's no mistaking Kitty's talents though. With her brother as DJ and filling in for Riff Raff during her hit single, the two looked as though they were having the time of their lives up there on stage and that's what's important. 

Next up was Sky Ferreira, who now lives in New York and comes across as the anti-celebrity.  She's been battling the loss of her voice this week (recently admitting at her Red Eyed Fly gig the day before) but she gave it a go.  And you could tell she was still under the weather, singing subdued, mostly in darkened silhouette and bathed behind her a glow of striking spotlights.   


Sky Ferreira
Sky Ferreira performs at The Hype Machine's Hype Hotel during SXSW.
photo by picksysticks
She was definitely a disappointment at this years' SXSW, she being the the one artist I was looking forward too at this years' fest but I'll give her the benefit of the doubt.  I just know her upcoming album is going to be amazing!  I last saw her at The Bootleg Theater where she performed with a band the very first time and her songs and intimate performance were both electric and vulnerable.  (Seriously, search YouTube for her shows at The Bootleg.)  

Sky begins her US tour later this month that runs through July.  She has two stops in Los Angeles when she performs at The Bootleg on April 10th and 11th which I've already bought tickets for. 

It was another great day of perfect weather in Austin and by making the long walk across town to Red 7, I got a chance to view beautiful 6th Street during the day.  Bars literally lining up, back-to-back, on each side of the street, its architecture and feel reminding me of a cross between Old Town Pasadena and SilverLake.  


CHVRCHES
CHVRCHES
Crowds jammed Red 7 to watch CHVRCHES, from Scotland, during SXSW 2013.
photos by picksysticks
At Red 7, their last show for the day, I caught Scottish buzzband Chvrches for the second time. Outside in the patio section, it was wall-to-wall. Apparently, the buzz created around this band is legit.  Front-woman Lauren Mayberry complained about the Texas heat; coming from cold-weathered Glasgow, they simply weren't used to this type of weather (it was mid-70's this day). 

Selling out venues on their first U.S. tour and with their SXSW debut, Chvrches was just awarded the first annual Grulke Prize for Best Non-US act.  The Grulke Prize (awarded in three categories: Developing US Act, Developing Non-US Act and Career Act) is given to artists who are breaking new ground with their creativity and show the most promise in achieving their career goals.  Formed in 2011, Chvrches were on the list for this year's BBC's Sound of 2013. Their catchy synthpop sound and alluring (and highly educated) vocalist,  Mayberry, made them one of the bands to see at this year's festival.  

After their set, a handful of people stayed behind (including myself) to talk and take pictures with Lauren where I got a chance to ask them about their upcoming album and when they'll be back touring the U.S.  Chvrches heads back to the US this summer for 17 stops with a Los Angeles show at the famed Troubadour on June 1st.  Their album is slated for release this September. 



Filter Magazine was holding some of the go-to showcases of the night. At the Tumblr Presents show at Clive Bar, KITTEN was gearing up to close their SXSW experience opening up for Macklemore and Ryan.  More house party than concert, lines were already forming around the converted bungalow house into full-fledged club.  An erected stage in the tiny backyard would guarantee this night to be a rowdy show.  And it was.  Kitten led the charge with their explosive set.  Nearly back flipping into the crowd and climbing atop speakers during their now much-talked about raucuos performances at this years' fest. Next up for the Kitten is a couple of tours supporting Joy Formidable and Paramore starting next month.


Joy Formidable
Joy Formidable
Joy Formidable rocks out at The Lustre Pearl House presented by Filter Magazine and Dickies during SXSW.
photos by picksysticks
While across the street, at The Lustre Pearl House, Filter Magazine and Dickies were hosting a much bigger house party featuring Joy Formidable and Fitz and the Tantrums.  Bathed in the soft glow of firefly lanterns hung from tree branches, the ambience promised a quiet and intimate setting with the serene backdrop of downtown Austin's skyline.  That soon dissipated as Joy Formidable's thunderous sounds of aggressive guitars not only poked a hole in that peaceful atmosphere, it obliterated it.  Opening with the hooky, melodic guitar assault "Cholla" off their latest album Wolf's Law, lead singer Ritzy Bryan knows how get the crowd into a frenzy.  With her petite frame, thrashing a guitar is a sight to behold even when she ended her set throwing it over her head, crashing to the ground.  No worries though, it was their last show of SXSW. 


Jacquie Neville of The Balconies
At midnight, the night was still young as crowds were still going strong.  At The Vice, Fall Out Boy were playing a rare while next door, at Friends Bar, The Canadian House were rockin' out to the frenetic and animated gyrations of lead singer Jacquie Neville and her band The Balconies.  Dressed in leather Stars and Stripes leather pants, a nice crowd was building outside the watching through the opened windows.  I first saw these guys when they performed at Los Angeles' Culture Collide Music Festival and they blew me away back then.  Their flare of pop and rock and roll is something that's unique about The Balconies.  Hard playing and aggressively contagious, their presence on stage is a sight to see.  Their song "Do It In The Dark" is a slow, tease of anticipation until finally, they explode into a full on arena-ready rock anthem. 

Afterwards, still high off The Balconies, adrenelin still pumping, I head back to my hotel to try and catch some rest for my last day of SXSW.  


Jacquie Neville of The Balconies
Canada House knows how to party.  The Balconies performing at Friends Bar during SXSW 2013.
photos by picksysticks

Also see: 

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PARAMORE'S NEW LYRIC VIDEO FOR "STILL INTO YOU"

Hayley Williams of Paramore performs at Warped Tour in San Diego.
photo by picksysticks

Paramore's lyric video for 'Still Into You' from their upcoming self-titled album - available early April 2013 on Fueled By Ramen. Visit http://paramore.net for more!

"Still Into You" by Paramore

LYRICS
Can't count the years one hand
That we've been together
I need the other one to hold you.
Make you feel, make you feel better.
It's not a walk in the park
To love each other.
But when our fingers interlock,
Can't deny, can't deny you're worth it

Cause after all this time.
I'm still into you

I should be over all the butterflies
But i'm into you (I'm in to you)
And baby even on our worst nights
I'm into you (I'm into you)
Let em wonder how we got this far
Cause I don't really need to wonder at all
Yeah after all this time
I'm still into you

Recount the night that I first 
Met your mother
And on the drive back to my house
I told you that, I told you that I loved ya.
You felt the weight of the world
Fall off your shoulder
And to your favorite song
We sang along to the start of forever

And after all this time.
I'm still into you

I should be over all the butterflies
But i'm into you (I'm in to you)
And baby even on our worst nights
I'm into you (I'm into you)
Let em wonder how we got this far
Cause I don't really need to wonder at all
Yeah after all this time
I'm still into you

Some things just, 
Some things just make sense
And one of those is you and I
Some things just,
Some things just make sense
And even after all this time
I'm into You
Baby not a day goes by that
I'm not into you

I should be over all the butterflies
But i'm into you (I'm in to you)
And baby even on our worst nights
I'm into you (I'm into you)
Let em wonder how we got this far
Cause I don't really need to wonder at all
Yeah after all this time
I'm still into you
I'm still into you
I'm still into you
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Thursday, March 21, 2013

GIRLS ROCK SXSW - DAY 3 (CHVRCHES, Charli XCX, SKY FERREIRA, DEAD SARA & REBECCA & FIONA)

Lauren Mayberry of CHVRCHES
Lauren Mayberry of CHVRCHES performs at Hype Machine's Hype Hotel during SXSW.
photo by picksysticks
Day three, according to my well mapped-out plan, looked jam packed. And with the weather reaching into the mid-70s, it was going to be a beautiful day, making it a perfect day to see downtown Austin since it looked as though I'd be walking a lot, from venue to venue. 

SXSW boasted over 2300 bands and 100 venues over the five day music festival and, although it's impossible to watch every single band and go to every single venue, planning ahead makes all the difference as anyone can easily get overwhelmed with the scene and get off their schedule.   Also, featured showcases presented by such brands as Myspace, Filter Magazine, Tumblr, Dickies, Vans, Pitchfork , Yahoo, SPIN, KCRW and NPR are always very popular.  And there are some venues that you often find yourself at more often than others.  Such was the case for The Hype Hotel which showcased an eclectic lineup of artists ranging from electric, acoustic, R&B, rap, rock and alternative.  And with free drinks and food offered by Taco Bell, it's not unheard of that you can spend your entire week there (I practically did).   
Empress Of


Curated by music lovers for music lovers Hype Machine's Hype Hotel is home to today's best up-and-coming acts around featuring over 50 acts.  Most definitely the best all-around music venue, this years' lineup includes buzz-worthy bands like Chvrches, Sky Ferreira, Charli XCX, MO, Ms Mr, Haerts and Solange to name a few.  

The day before, it was the astral pop sounds from Empress Of that I heard from outside which peaked my interest.  Lorely Rodriguez is her name and she comes from Brooklyn, New York.  Hailed by the Guardian as the new Grimes, Empress Of paints her dream-pop songs like an impressionistic painter, dabbing some drum beats here, light brushing sythns there and touching it up with soft vocal strokes; step back and, as a whole, you see a portrait come together of a serene sonic landscape of saturated melodies. 


Lauren Mayberry of CHVRCHES
Lauren Mayberry of CHVRCHES during South by Southwest Music Festival at The Hype Hotel.
photos picksysticks
Playing five shows in the span of three days, the band that seemed to be on every publication's 'Top 10 List of Bands You Have To Watch at SXSW' was the Scottish band Chvrches (spelled with a 'V').  Made up of petite front-woman Lauren Mayberry, Iain Cook and Martin Doherty, 2013 is shaping up to be Chvrches' breakout year.  


Wardell's Theo and Sasha Spielberg
Wardell's Theo and Sasha Spielberg at The Red Eyed Fly during SXSW.
photo by picksysticks
Charli XCXFresh and young sounding, fusing pop and electronic, their songs are bathed in a warm glow of vintage melodies with echoes of the romantic golden era.  It's glam for this generation with glittery tunes and disco ball bliss.  They just completed their first U.S. tour, selling out venues along the way on the strength of a couple hit singles AND without a proper record .  How's that for buzz? That album is expected to drop later this year. Their EP recover was just released on March 25th.  Check out "Lies," "Recover" and "The Mother We Share." 
Charli XCX wows the SXSW crowd at Filter Magazine's Showdown at Cedar Street Showcase.
photos by picksysticks
The Cedar Street venue, presented by Filter Magazine was one of my favorite spots at this years' SXSW.  Held outside in a courtyard, specialty beers and cheap drinks made for a relaxing afternoon with great music.  Emerging singer, Charli XCX is suddenly in high demand, going on tour with Ellie Goulding in April and then Marina and the Diamonds in May along with her own headline tour in the States in June.  Her hit single, "You (Ha Ha Ha)" is catchy and full of sweet, sugary pop hooks.  Her debut album True Romance drops April 16th and promises to be this years' surprise albums.  


One venue I found myself going to a lot was The Red Eyed Fly which hosted Los Angeles musicians Wardell and Sky Ferreira at their outside porch. Wardell, the brother sister duo of Sasha and Theo recently got signed to Roc Nation records (aka: Jay Z) and the anticipation  of their debut EP or album, slated for release this June, is quickly building.  With soft, SoCal beach harmonies and retro melodies, Wardell's first single "Opossum" has been on constant repeat on my iPod.  

Later in the day, 17 year-old Sky Ferreira took the stage; a show I've been looking forward to all week. It was a packed crowd for such an early performance but unfortunately, Sky lost her voice the day before.  She was a trooper and sang a shortened set but it was obvious, she was straining to belt out those notes. Sky has gained a large and loyal following since the release two EPs, amassing over 100,000 Facebook and Twitter followers – all including the blogosphere who have crowned her the next big thing are anticipating her debut album which she recently told Popcrush that the sound is evolving into a "Sad Dream" mixed with "You're Not The One" vibe which, if you've heard those singles, is shaping up to be a very dark, electric-pop themed album laced with hushed, electronic-trance beats.  

Rebecca and Fiona
Rebecca and Fiona
Republic Live hosted a night of EDM with Rebecca and Fiona during SXSW 2013.
photos by picksysticks
The variety of music found at SXSW is overwhelming.  Flipping through the 100 page program and schedule is mind-boggling once you see all the bands you don't have time to see.  So picking is key. See bands you've already seen and want to see again, or catch someone new which is what SXSW is all about,  which is what I did.
Dead Sara

With the suggestion of  Guerilla Nights, we headed to Republic Live to catch a double-billing of EDM DJ's TOKiMONSTA and Rebecca and Fiona, two artists mastering the marrying of dance and electronic music with the visual, astral glow of thumping lasers and sweaty partying teens.  

Empire Automotive garage was the setting the Roxy Presents show featuring Dead Sara as the headliner.  Currently touring with Muse, this was Dead Sara's only SXSW show. The day before they were in Dallas and right after their SXSW show, they hopped into their tour bus to join Muse in Phoenix the following day.  

MS MREven with their grueling schedule, the fans this night didn't leave disappointed nor did Dead Sara perform less than expected.  They performed at 110 percent, just like all their shows leaving fans fulfilled and exhausted just as exhausted as lead singer Emily Armstrong who performed with blood, sweat and tears, leaving everything on stage.   

It's 12 am on my third day and decided to squeeze in one last show.  I ended the night going back to my favorite venue, The Hype Hotel, to catch the last few songs of MS MR, recently responsible for adding their song "Bones" to the season three trailer of my favorite show "Game of Thrones."   

They're songs feel dark and ominous layered over  hypnotic-electro beats.  I wish I couldn't caught their full set. Their new album, Secondhand Rapture, is slated to be released in May with a their first headlining tour of the U.S. starting in May and then a European Tour beginning in July.  

Check out more pictures of our SXSW on our Flickr page right HERE!

Also see: 

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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

GIRLS ROCK SXSW - DAY 2 RECAP

Paramore
Paramore's Hayley Williams during SXSW's Warner Sound Captured by Nikon Showcase.
photo by picksysticks

In a week that saw surprise performances by Prince, Justin Timberlake, Willie Nelson and The Smashing Pumpkins snatch up all the headlines at this years’ South By Southwest, it was the ever presence of girl power that stole the spotlight at this years’ annual music festival.  From fan favorites like Paramore and Tegan and Sara to up-and-coming bands like Chvrches, Bleached and Charlie XCX, women-fronted bands were in no short supply.

But of course, SXSW is unlike any other music festival in the world.  Bands can play as much as 13 times in a week; sometimes 4 times in a day jumping from venue to venue, lugging their equipment across town and back.  It can be grueling for musicians as well as fans. 

Already in its 27th year, SXSW is a haven for unsigned bands looking to gain exposure and with over 300,000 music lovers in a given day flocking to Austin to enjoy music’s version of Comic-Con, musicians see this opportunity to reach more fans.   And with bands playing, literally 24-7, all around downtown Austin, seeing a band, or bands for that matter, requires careful planning.  Whether it be having fun and drinking with friends or catching your favorite bands,  experiencing SXSW demands military precision in mapping out your day’s schedule.

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SXSW is overwhelming to say the least for a first-timer like myself.  After my first day getting my barrings straight; the lay of the land so to speak and the understanding the South By way, day 2 was my biggest day of the week concerning the bands that I HAD to see; Paramore, Tegan and Sara and Kitten - all playing at the Warner Sound showcase at The Belmont on Tuesday night. 

Day shows are the secret to SXSW. They're mostly free and often times the band you want to see can play 3 times a day for five days so it's safe to say that, if you really wanted to and put the effort, anyone can watch their favorite band.  For instance, I watched Sky Ferreira perform twice; both day shows and I caught the much buzzed about band Chvrches twice - also day shows. 

Waterloo Records
Fans line-up for for Waterloo Records' Day Party with Tegan and Sara.
photo by picksysticks
Luckily, Tegan and Sara were playing a day show on the other side of town with Macklemore and Ryan Lewis at Waterloo Records and judging by the previous night, lines were going to be trouble. I figured I walk over the 12 or so blocks, catch an early show of Tegan and Sara (maybe sneak in Macklemore's "Thrift Shop") and then head back, grab lunch and mosey on over to The Belmont.  Gradually, I realized it was bad news when I kept seeing a stream, which gradually turned into a flood of people walking in the same direction as I.  Waterloo Records was THE ONLY venue out West past Guadalupe Street so it was fairly obvious where everyone was headed.  I was right and when security shut the gates, hundreds of people made camp across the street to get a glimpse and even listen ( a couple was even spotted on the rooftop of Waterloo Records).

Tegan and Sara during SXSW
Tegan and Sara during SXSW at The Belmont's Warner Sound/Nikon Showcase.
photo by picksysticks
Having missed my first chance to watch Tegan and Sara, I didn't want to miss another so when I walked back, towards The Belmont for the Nikon Warner Sound showcase where a handful of fans had already started forming a line.  I did have a wristband which gave me entrance after Badge holders were let in but it doesn't gaurantee you entry into the venue. Let's be serious; these venues are small and if every wristband and badge holder decided they wanted to watch this particular show this night, it'd be impossible.  So lining up early enough, even for badge and wristband holders, was the only way to get into the show you wanted to see; for me it was this.  

KITTEN's Chloe ChaidezThe time was spent chatting up and making friends with people who shared my love for either Tegan and Sara and Paramore and also trying to sell them and pump up my other favorite band Kitten, from Los Angeles.  They in turn got me excited about Twenty One Pilots and  Skaters who were also on this night's bill which got me excited even more about the show.  

First of all, I must credit SXSW for turning me onto Kitten.  It was actually Kitten's show at SXSW way back back in 2010 that I first read about them; a bunch of teens who sound much older than they really seem, not playing the typical teen pop/rock one would expect from kids their age.  Their single "Kill the Light" was all the buzz in the blogosphere.  And since then, I've seen them at least a dozen times in Los Angeles, each time with more energy than the next.  But this night has got to be THE best performance I've seen from them even though it seemed Chloe caught the crowd off gaurd.  

Kitten
Chloe Chaidez of Kitten climbs atop a speaker at The Belmont during SXSW 2013.
photos by picksysticks

KITTEN, hailing from Los Angeles is fronted by Chloe Chaidez, the firecracker of a lead singer who still can't find a stage that can cage her; climbing on tall speakers, rafters and then jumping off them without out abandon.  It's a wonder she hasn't broken any bones but she's no stranger to bruises.  Kitten's sound is like a blast from the past, swirling through a futuristic electric-neon cloud.  And what comes out is  fresh and aggressively addictive - a sound which has since become their trademark calling card which has gained them the honor of supporting some of the biggest bands in music today.  Next month, Kitten will join Joy Formidable on tour and right after that, they'll open up for Paramore in twelve cities.  

Paramore
Paramore performs during SXSW's Warner Sound/Nikon Showcase at The Belmont.
photos by picksysticks
Held in the open air courtyard,  The Belmont was such a great venue that had the feel of intimacy when Tegan and Sara performed.  Heartthrob, Tegan and Sara's latest studio album and probably their most mainstream to date is infectious in it's poppiness in songs like "Closer" and "I'm Not Your Hero" but still captures their vulnerable and heart-wrenching melodies in songs like "How Come You Don't Want Me" and "I Was a Fool" that fans have come to expect from the twin sisters.  The crowd also sang along to old songs and fan favorites like "The Con" and "Back In Your Head" peppered their set They played a handful of day and night shows but unfortunately, this was the only time I was able to watch them during the week long fest.

Hayley Williams of ParamoreHayley Williams of Paramore

Paramore, the headliner of the night and only performance at this years' SXSW was what every single person in attendance was waiting for.  Even the photographer's pit was so packed, photogs were only granted one song each in order to get the every shooter a chance to shoot Paramore.  If Kitten's Chloe Chaidez was the firecracker on stage, Hayley Williams was certainly the TNT that lit the packed house into a frenzy.  And you understand why; Paramore hasn't released an album in four years; not since brothers and founding members Zac and Josh Farro left the group in 2010.   Painted in white were the words "Grow Up" on the back of her jean jacket which is coincidently a track title on their upcoming album.  It's also, probably the mantra the group has had to go through making this record and the trials and tribulations they experienced along the way.  Their new self-titled record  drops April 9th  and Hayley debuted "Still Into You" a new song for her loyal fans in attendance and for the millions watching live via free streaming video provided by Warner Sound.   They begin their tour this April in support of the new album.  The first block of dates has already been announced with Los Angeles' The Wiltern theater already sold out. Bummer.  

Check out more photos from SXSW 2013  HERE on our Flickr page.


Warner Sound Nikon Showcase @ The Belmont
photos by picksysticks

Also see:
Girls Rock SXSW - Day 1
Girls Rock SXSW - Day 3
Girls Rock SXSW - Day 4
Girls Rock SXSW - Day 5
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SHOOT JOY FORMIDABLE'S NEW VIDEO

Joy Formidable during a performance at The Troubadour.
photo by picksysticks

Just a week after rousing performances at SXSW,   Joy Formidable returns to the West Coast  to begin their North American Tour.  They perform at The Fonda Theater this Thursday and they're asking fans to help them make their music video for a few of their songs.   All you need is an iPhone, Android Phone or anything that captures video.  Click HERE for more info on how to join their camera crew and tickets are still available for their show at The Fonda right HERE.

This week, Joy Formidable also released their new video for "Little Bump," compiled solely of footage captured from a GoPro strapped onto Ritzy Byran's guitar.  Check it out below!


Official music video for "Little Blimp" from Joy Formidable's new album Wolf's Law.
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Monday, March 18, 2013

GIRLS ROCK SXSW - DAY 1

ZZ Ward
ZZ Ward performs at The Empire Control Room during SXSW.
photos by picksysticks

In a week that saw surprise performances by Prince, Justin Timberlake, Willie Nelson and The Smashing Pumpkins snatch up all the headlines at this years’ South By Southwest, it was the ever presence of girl power that stole the spotlight at this years’ annual music festival.  From fan favorites like Paramore and Tegan and Sara to up-and-coming bands like Chvrches, Bleached and Charlie XCX, women-fronted bands were in no short supply.

Elle King
Elle King
Elle King performs during Day 1 of SXSW.
photo by picksysticks
But of course, SXSW is unlike any other music festival in the world.  Bands can play as much as 13 times in a week; sometime 4 times in a day jumping from venue to venue, lugging their equipment across town and back.  It can be grueling for musicians as well as fans. 

Ashley Monroe

Already in its 27th year, SXSW is a haven for unsigned bands looking to gain exposure and with over 300,000 music lovers in a given day flocking to Austin to enjoy music’s version of Comic-Con, musicians see this opportunity to reach more fans.   And with bands playing, literally 24-7, all around downtown Austin, seeing a band, or bands for that matter, requires careful planning.  Whether it be having fun and drinking with friends or catching your favorite bands,  experiencing SXSW demands military precision in mapping out your day’s schedule.

Flying into Austin Tuesday afternoon; day one of the music festival, we decided to take it slow, take in the sights and atmosphere.  It was  certainly a culture shock as downtown 6th Street appeared to be the heart of South By, swelling with crowds by late afternoon. 

In the city that gave us Outlaw Country music, it was only fitting that we start off our SXSW experience listening to some good ol’ country and blues music by way of Ashley Monroe and ZZ Ward; the place?  The Empire Control Room which was hosting a night of country music presented and filmed by MTV/Vh1/CMT and hosted by MTV deejay Matt Pinfield.  

Striking Matches
One of the great things about SXSW is not knowing who you may come across.  By getting to a venue early, you may find surprisingly really good acts.  This was the case for Striking Matches, a country duo made up of Sarah Zimmermann and Justin Davis who trade off vocals singing of heartbreak lined with hearty and vulnerable melodies.  Sarah later came back on stage to perform with Ashley Monroe who at a young age of 26, is already a country veteran, having signed to a record label at age 19 and then releasing her album. 

In 2011, she released another album Hell on Heels as part of The Pistol Annies alongside longtime friends Miranda Lambert and Angaleena Presley which garnered her wider recognition, and on top of that,  a Number 1 album on Billboard's Country Chart.  


Ashley Monroe
Ashley Monroe
MTV/CMT/Vh1 Presents: Ashley Monroe @ The Empire Control Room during SXSW.
photos by picksysticks
But this night, Ashley was celebrating the release of her second studio album, Like a Rose, which was released earlier this month.  Blending both a soft and fresh sounds in songs like her title track Like A Rose and Morning After, Ashley also delivered the toe-tapping crowd to a the party they've been waiting for with songs like "Weed Instead of Roses" and "Monroe Suede."  


ZZ Ward
Next up was Ohio native Elle King who sings in a voice that sounds like she's lived every note she has written; often times graveled and weathered showing hard-earned mileage and other times silky smooth and powerful.  That's why it's so it's hard to grasp that she's only in her mid-20s yet she sounds like an old soul.  Add in a banjo that she fiddles with like it's second nature and Elle King has to be one of my favorite singers I've seen at SXSW – and this is only my first day! 

Bluesy R&B singer ZZ Ward hails from the West Coast where she's a regular performer in Los Angeles. I'm from there and it took SXSW for me to fly all the way to Austin to finally watch her perform.  And afterwards, I was wondering myself what took me so long.  With bluesy funk thrusted out into the forefront with hip-hop beats it's not surprising why Ward's debut album "Til The Casket Drops" was one of the most buzzed about releases last year, making her one of Fuse TV's 30 must-see acts at this years music festival. 

And with that, day one was finished. Exhausted yet fullfilled with a great first day of amazing performances as we look forward to four more days of SXSW. 

Also check out:
Girls Rock SXSW - Day 2
Girls Rock SXSW - Day 3
Girls Rock SXSW - Day 4

Girls Rock SXSW - Day 5
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