Live Music in Britain: Palaye Royale’s “The Bastards” Tour

 

The marquee outside the O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire on February 20, the night before the gig.

As much as I loved getting to explore London with my fellow world-travelling flatmates and getting used to life in another country, my favorite weekend of the entire experience was, by far, February 20-22 of 2020. On this weekend, I ventured into London alone, scared but also extremely excited, to see one of my favorite bands in concert. Palaye Royale, a US band who I had seen once before in 2018, were headlining a sold-out show at the O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire on February 21 during the UK leg of their “Bastards World Tour”, with Counterfeit and Charming Liars as support, and I was extremely excited. I didn’t know at the time that this would end up being my last pre-covid concert, but I am glad that honor was able to go to such a phenomenal show.

 

My weekend started on a Thursday, as I only had classes on Monday-Wednesday (another perk of the University of Hertfordshire-each class, or “module” only met for two hours per day once a week). I woke up and was extremely anxious, as I had never gone into a big city like London alone before, but I was also incredibly excited because I am a huge fan of Palaye Royale, so much so that I even bought my ticket for this tour back in August of 2019 when it was first announced, before I had even finished applying for my study abroad program, just to make sure it didn’t sell out before I could.

 

Thursday, I took a train from Hatfield to King’s Cross Station, then took the underground to the Shepherd’s Bush neighborhood where the venue and my hotel were located, and what would essentially be “home base” for the weekend. After checking in to my room, I stopped by the Westfield Mall briefly that was nearby to pick up a couple of essentials from Superdrug (The UK equivalent of a CVS basically), then I travelled to the Old Brompton Gallery where Palaye was going to host a pop-up merch shop/gallery showcase of some art made by drummer Emerson Barrett. I hung out there for a bit, bought a little merch, and even got to meet Emerson and their guitarist Sebastian Danzig. (This even made a split-second appearance in a behind-the-scenes video from the tour, a screenshot of which is below). I then went back to my hotel for the night, except to grab dinner at a nearby Italian place.

 

Friday, the gig was center stage. I went back to the mall and browsed around, because it is a HUGE mall that I would definitely recommend visiting if one ever finds themself in the area, then I went back to my room to get ready for the show. And enjoy the show, I did. Charming Liars, half from the US and half from the UK, started things off, and while I had listened to a couple of their songs to get ready for the show, I wasn’t too familiar with them, but they were full of energy and they earned themselves a new fan that night. 

 

Next up was Counterfeit, a UK rock group fronted by actor Jamie Campbell Bower, who some may recognize from his roles in the Twilight Saga, Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, or Sweeney Todd, and will also be in the next season of Stranger Things. Counterfeit put on a phenomenal show as well, although I wished they had played a few songs from their 2017 album Together We Are Stronger instead of solely new music, most of which was unreleased. That being said, since they ended up breaking up during lockdown, I am grateful to have been able to see what was one of their last shows together.

 

And finally, Palaye Royale took center stage, and absolutely brought the house down. I wish that I could describe the amount of energy that was in the room that night, but, honestly, you just had to be there. The venue was stunningly beautiful architecturally, the acoustics were amazing, and everyone just seemed to be having the time of their lives. I can honestly say that that show was one of the happiest nights of my life so far, and I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to travel and be there, especially since it has now been over a year without live music, and that is driving me a little crazy.

 

The weekend ended with another trip to the pop-up shop on Saturday, as the band played a free acoustic show at the nearby Redcliffe Gardens, and the first 100 people who showed up that day were able to listen to a new unreleased song from their album The Bastards that came out on May 29. I also had to exchange a skirt that I had bought the first day that did not fit right at all, and bought even more merch because I just love this band so so so much.

 

Overall, it was my favorite memory of the trip because it involved me having to overcome anxiety of travelling alone, and I actually got to just do whatever I wanted those three days instead of my itinerary depending on other people. There are definitely benefits to travelling in a group, both for safety and social reasons, but it can also be nice to just go where you want to go, especially when shopping. I sometimes like to take my time browsing, and tend to feel guilty if I know someone is waiting around for me. The shoe was on the other foot the next time we all went to London, as I found myself waiting around while everyone else was browsing through Abercrombie, although that weekend trip was otherwise fun as well, especially since it ended up being our last, unfortunately.

International Music Spotlight: Bring Me the Horizon (UK)

Hello again!

In highlighting different music artists from around the world, I also wanted to take a minute to talk about Bring Me the Horizon. Though they are definitely more well-known than some of the other acts I’ve featured, their influence on the rock scene is too great not to make note of.

Bring Me the Horizon is a rock band originally formed in Sheffield, UK in 2004, and their current lineup consists of vocalist Oliver Sykes, guitarist Lee Malia, bassist Matt Kean, drummer Matt Nicholls, and keyboard/synth player Jordan Fish. While they have undergone many stylistic changes throughout their career, with earlier records having a metalcore vibe (in other words, lots of crunching guitars and screaming vocals), they started to veer into more commercial hard-rock territory on 2013’s Sempiternal, which was my introduction to the band since that was around the time I started listening to that type of music. They have since taken on somewhat of a more alternative/pop-leaning sound on some of their tracks, but they’ve managed to put hard rock jams and poppier tunes on the same album and made it work, even if not everyone loves every single song. But that willingness to go out of the box and refuse to keep making the same album over and over again is one of the reasons why I like them: they do their thing and don’t seem to give much of a fuck about what anyone else thinks.

Lead vocalist Oli has also opened a vegan bar and arcade in Sheffield, called Church: Temple of Fun, that I think would be interesting to visit if I can make it up that way during my travels.

I actually had the pleasure of finally seeing BMTH

live a couple of months ago on their “Threesome Tour” with Sleeping with Sirens and Poppy, and their set was very energetic and enjoyable despite the fact that Oli was definitely using a backing track, though he was singing over it so it wasn’t completely phoned-in, plus I had to leave early because too many people were vaping inside (yet another issue for another time). Overall, though, it was a very enjoyable performance.

Listen to their song “sugar, honey, ice and tea” below, off of their most recent album amo, which has been nominated for “Best Rock Album” at the 2020 Grammy Awards.

Until next time,

Lyssy

 

International Music Spotlight: Counterfeit (UK)

In honor of my upcoming travels, I wanted to take a couple of posts to highlight some of my favorite artists from the area. First off is Counterfeit, based in London. Counterfeit was formed in 2015 and features Jamie Campbell Bower as the lead vocalist and guitarist, as well as Tristan Marmont and Sam Bower on guitars, Roland Johnson on bass, and James Craig on drums. If the name Jamie Campbell Bower sounds at all familiar, you may recognize him from past acting roles as Jace Wayland in 2013’s Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, as Anthony Hope in Sweeney Todd, or as a young Gellert Grindelwald in a couple of Harry Potter/Fantastic Beasts films. This project is not about that, however.

Counterfeit’s music is what I would consider to be a fusion of punk, rock, and grunge, with plenty of heavy, distorted guitars and interesting drum patterns. What really stands out to me, though, is Bower’s vocals, which range from fast-paced spoken sections, to some screams (though not the rough deathcore-type), and some more melodic verses as well. My favorite song of theirs (and, admittedly, the only one I know well so far thanks to hearing it on Sirius XM Octane a couple of years ago), is the single “Enough” from their debut album Together We Are Stronger, featuring most of the musical traits described above.

I also wanted to highlight Counterfeit since they will be appearing on the UK dates of Palaye Royale’s upcoming “The Bastards World Tour”, which I will be seeing when it comes through London, and I’m very eagerly looking forward to it. I will likely post a review of the show afterward, as I know it will be an unforgettable experience.

The video for “Enough” can be watched below, and Counterfeit’s upcoming tour dates are available on their website, therealcounterfeit.com

Until next time,

Lyssy

 

International Music Spotlight: Diamante

In honor of having just completed my fourth and final semester of Spanish, I wanted to also feature a Spanish song, by 22-year-old rock singer Diamante, a Mexican/Italian American singer based in Los Angeles, California. On her debut album released last year, titled Coming in Hot, Diamante released her first Spanish-language track, “Lo Siento” (The English-language version, “I’m Sorry”, also appears on the album).

The song is a strong rock power ballad that is very beautifully heartbreaking lyrically while also packing a punch with its instrumentation. The song has been well received by fans so far, including myself, and after its release Diamante tweeted that she plans to release more Spanish music in the future, which I definitely look forward to hearing, as I think her voice is beautiful.

The music video for “Lo Siento” can be watched below.

 

Until next time,

Allyssa

International Music Spotlight: Sfera Ebbasta

Hello!

In honor of my upcoming travels, I wanted to highlight an Italian artist in my next International Music Spotlight. Today I’m featuring rapper Sfera Ebbasta and his single “Mademoiselle”.

Though I’m not a huge rap music fan, this song has a nice flow, and I could see it being enjoyable to dance to at a party or other social gathering.

Based on a search of Spotify’s Global Charts, Ebbasta appears to be quite popular in Italy at the moment, with three of his songs in the top 10 of the “Italy Top 50” chart and five songs on the chart overall.

The song can be played below.

Until next time,

Allyssa

International Musician Spotlight: Bronnie (UK)

Hi all!

Since music is one of my favorite things in the world, I decided that I would start showcasing some lesser known artists not from the US. First up is UK-based rock/pop-punk songstress Bronnie. After winning a Ryan Seacrest-sponsored songwriting contest in 2014, Bronnie has been building up an online following and touring all over the UK, including opening for girl group Little Mix on one date in 2017. She is also in the midst of a brief run of United States tour dates in support of A Summer High.

What I like about her music is her rebellious attitude and the fact that she’s not afraid of singing about heavier subject matter such as depression on her single “Danced With the Devil” Most recently, she released the “Silent Misery” EP of Christmas music,  which can be streamed at the Spotify link below.

Next year, Bronnie will return to the UK for a headlining run in January and February, so if for some reason you find yourself over there, check it out.

Until next time,

Lyssy

 

Reading and Leeds Festival Lineup Controversy

Yesterday, the first part of the lineup for UK music festival Reading and Leeds was finally announced (usually this comes in December or January), and many people are not pleased. This year’s festival is being headlined by the likes of hip-hop artists such as Post Malone and Kendrick Lamar, pop singer Dua Lipa, as well as alternative festival staples Fall Out Boy and Panic! at the Disco, among others. From the tweets I’ve seen, most of the complaints have revolved around the fact that hip-hop and pop artists are headlining what has historically been a rock/alternative festival. This change could be due to another popular festival, Glastonbury, not happening this year.

Personally, I see where people are coming from, in that if I had pre-paid for a ticket expecting one thing and getting another, I likely wouldn’t be too happy. However, I feel the mentality of “if it isn’t ‘rock’ then it’s automatically bad” is part of what’s largely keeping the genre out of the public eye, leading some to claim it as “dead”. If I were going, I would jump at the chance to see Dua Lipa and Panic! at the Disco headlining the same festival on the same day, because I think both are uniquely talented artists. If people want heavier music, Papa Roach and Beartooth are playing one day. Or, better yet, there’s an entire festival in the UK called Download that caters to the heavier music crowd that they should look into.

Sorry if this post is coming off as more of a rant. I’m just tired of people complaining about there “not being any good popular music”, meanwhile only listening to the same five bands over and over, not giving any pop music a chance (I was that person once, shame on you middle school/early high school Allyssa…).

You can see the full lineup that’s been announced so far and read more about the controversy here: http://www.nme.com/news/music/reading-and-leeds-festival-2018-line-up-2240997

 

The Aftermath of Lorde’s Israel Concert Cancellation

Last December, New Zealand alternative/pop singer Lorde made headlines when she cancelled an upcoming concert in Tel-Aviv, Israel. This was done after a pair of New Zealand girls, one Jewish and one Palistinian, wrote an open letter to the singer, claiming that if she continued with the concert, she could be seen as showing support for the Israeli government’s occupation of parts of Jerusalem. This also came after President Donald Trump made the controversial decision to declare Israel’s capital to be Jerusalem (which the UN denounced BTW…).

Last week, though, the story had a new development. As reported on January 31 by BBC, Israeli advocacy group Shurat Hadin had filed a lawsuit against the girls who had written the letter, the first suit of its kind under a law that went into effect in 2011. The law “authorises civil suits to recover damages from ‘anyone who publishes a public call for a boycott of the state of Israel, and its content and circumstances may reasonably be expected to lead to a boycott’.”

The group is seeking the equivalent of $12,800 in damages on behalf of three Israeli teenagers who suffered “emotional injury” due to the cancellation. However, it is believed that the case will be difficult to prove.

Discussing this in class got me thinking: Why did this have to become a political issue? I don’t believe Lorde had any kind of ill-intent when scheduling the concert initially, yet it was made into a political scenario when the letter was written, though I do believe it was well-intentioned. I have also begun to question whether this incident was part of why she was the only Album of the Year nominee to not be specifically invited to perform at this years Grammy awards, or if it was completely unrelated. (Speaking of which, there was NOT enough female representation this year, but that’s a rant for another time).

 

You can read both original BBC articles here:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/article/42453026/lorde-may-cancel-israel-gig-after-letter-from-fans

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-42891701

My Top 25 Christmas Songs

December is upon us again. While we prepare for the end of the semester with finals and such, I thought it would be a good idea to share some of my favorite holiday songs because, according to the Code of the Elves, “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.” What better way to take a study break than to listen to some festive tunes?

(The order is not one of favoritism, just the order they were added to the playlist, which happened to be alphabetical by artist. Also, if you’re participating in the “Whammageddon” game in which you try to go as long as possible without hearing Last Christmas by Wham!, don’t turn this playlist on shuffle. Don’t say I didn’t warn you…)

 

  1. Put a Bow on It: Abi Ann This fun track from the pop-country starlet was one of my favorite discoveries of 2016, especially after seeing her perform it on tour with Pentatonix and Us the Duo (more on them later).
  2. All I Want For Christmas Is You: Against The Current   If you’re like me, you’re tired of Mariah Carey’s rendition of this song. ATC’s cover stays true to the original while kicking things up a notch with a guitar-driven instrumentation. Vocalist Chrissy Costanza also shines.
  3. Fool’s Holiday: All Time Low  Another guitar-driven track, this one is about hoping to be forgiven by a girl in time to spend the holidays with her. I love Alex Gaskarth’s voice on this tune.
  4. Greatest Time of Year: Aly & AJ  This one is pure nostalgia. I remember when this first came out as a promotional single for the third Santa Clause movie, and the music video would play on Disney Channel all the time. It brings back memories of simpler times when I didn’t have things like finals to worry about.
  5. Not This Year: Aly & AJ   Another song from the sibling pop duo, this one is interesting to me because lyrically, it’s about not feeling in the holiday spirit, and is actually kind of melancholy, yet the instrumentation still makes me want to dance around my room.
  6. Snow In California: Ariana Grande  In this song, Ariana wishes to be able to spend more time with her love interest. The smooth instrumentation just makes me want to cuddle up with a mug of hot cocoa and enjoy the season.
  7. Santa Tell Me: Ariana Grande  A more upbeat tune than the previous entry by Ms. Grande, this one is pure pop perfection.
  8. Something About December: Christina Perri  Another ballad that just makes me want to sit inside with a cup of hot cocoa (getting the pattern here?). Perri’s vocals are simply stunning.
  9. There Will Be No Christmas: Crown the Empire This tune is different because it gives off more of a “cry alone in your room” than “sing at the top of your lungs”, seeming to be about a breakup. Despite it’s sad lyrics and slow instrumentation, it’s also quite beautiful.
  10. Baby Don’t Leave Me (All Alone On Christmas): Echosmith  Another beautiful Christmas ballad.
  11. Extraordinary Merry Christmas: Glee Cast   This one just makes me want to get up and dance. It’s super fun and festive.
  12. Christmas Wrapping: Glee Cast     A festive rendition of the classic tune by the Waitresses. I have nothing against the original, I just really like this version, as I used to be obsessed with Glee.
  13. Mistress for Christmas: Halestorm     Halestorm is my favorite band of all time, so I couldn’t NOT put this one on here. It rocks hard, and Lzzy Hale belts it out like the true queen she is. (side note: my screen name “Lyssy” is actually inspired by her. I’ve also used “Lssy”, but I think I like it better with the added “y”).
  14. Wrapped in Red: Kelly Clarkson    This slower track is a very elegant showcase of Clarkson’s vocal abilities that led her to winning American Idol way back when.
  15. Underneath the Tree: Kelly Clarkson    More upbeat than her other entry, it’s a super fun and festive jam.
  16. Christmas C’mon: Lindsey Stirling/Becky G       I am normally not a fan of Becky G, but her voice works well against Stirling’s violin playing.
  17. Time To Fall In Love: Lindsey Stirling/Alex Gaskarth    Like I said earlier, I just love Alex Gaskarth’s voice, and here it shines even more against Stirling’s violin than against the rest of All Time Low. Nothing against them, it’s just nice to hear his voice in a different context.
  18. It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas: Michael Bublé   (see #19)
  19. Holly Jolly Christmas: Michael Bublé       Bublé’s rich voice sounds like it was made to sing Christmas carols, and these tracks are no exception.
  20. Wish List: Neon Trees  The pop-rockers put together a great track that has been a favorite of mine for a couple of years now.
  21. Hallelujah: Pentatonix   Only a couple of times have I gotten chills while an artist was performing live. This song at their concert I went to last year was one of them. It’s a hauntingly beautiful rendition of the Leonard Cohen classic.
  22. That’s Christmas to Me: Pentatonix        This list very easily could have been all Pentatonix, actually. They are one of my favorite music groups of recent years, and I love all of their Christmas music. This song in particular is actually an original, while most of their songs have been covers, making it that much more special.
  23. This Christmas (I’ll Burn It to the Ground): Set It Off     The perfect song for your inner Grinch. We all have one.
  24. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas: Us The Duo      The husband-and-wife pairing of Michael and Carissa Alvarado sound beautiful together on this rendition of the classic tune. They actually released an Amazon-exclusive Christmas album this year, featuring this song, so if you have access to it I’d recommend checking it out.
  25. Last Christmas: Wham!     It’s not Christmas without this Wham! classic. I thought about putting a cover on here, such as those by Ariana Grande or Carly Rae Jepsen, but decided the original was just fine,

 

 

 

Happy Holidays Everyone!

Lyssy

Cover vs. Original: “Periscope”

Today’s post is, as the title says, a comparison of a newly released cover to the original song. The song in question is “Periscope” by Papa Roach featuring Skylar Grey; the cover is by ÆLONIA, a new band consisting of husband and wife Jake and Inna Pitts.

Let’s start with the original:

The song is definitely a sonic change for the veteran rockers who first broke onto the scene in 2000 with “Last Resort”. This track is a soaring pop song about love, and is very well composed. It is definitely not my favorite P-Roach song by any means, but it’s nice enough, and Grey’s vocals compliment singer Jacoby Shaddix beautifully.

Now here’s the cover:

While the two versions are very similar, I prefer this one. It could possibly be that I’m biased toward Jake Pitts, seeing as he is a member of one of my all-time favorite bands, Black Veil Brides. However, I also enjoyed this cover because Jake’s wife Inna is also a beautiful singer, and I think their voices sound phenomenal together. I also enjoyed the use of acoustic guitar on this version, whereas the original is more synth-driven.

In conclusion, while both versions are decent, I personally prefer ÆLONIA’s take on the track.