September to Remember Pt. 1

September is a big month. We’ve got LouFest, Life is Beautiful, and more.

I know that @begt and I are really excited for year 3 at LouFest, and the preview for  that will be coming shortly. But before I give you that, I want to share some of the new music that has been on constant repeat for me the last two weeks.

One of my obsessions of late has been an up and coming indie pop folk band called The National Parks. They just released their second full-length Untill I Live which may be my favorite record of 2015 so far. Despite being from the neighboring state of Utah, they don’t make it out to Las Vegas much, but that will change on September 18th where they are playing a show with another recent favorite of mine, Vegas/Utah folk rockers, Brumby.  My favorite song off the new record doesn’t have a video that I can find, but, this song is a great representation of their current record. Here is “Monsters of the North” from Until I Live.

The second record  that has been on constant repeat for me is Mont Royal from Cleveland based The Lighthouse and the Whaler which I found out through a recommendation by @begt. This record marks the third EP from this indie folk outfit. Their sound has definitely evolved from their first album and some of the songs go beyond the typical folk sound including my favorite “We are Infinite”. They do have one single off the record so far, and the video features someone who is apparently famous, but I am not hip with the kids these days so I don’t know who that would be. Here is “I Want to Feel Alive”.

A new release as of today is the self-titled record from one of Sandy Beat’s favorite SoCal bands Family of The Year. This album was quite a few years in the making, and the band has seen some relative success as their song “Hero” played a prominent part in the recent movie Boyhood. The first single off of Family of The Year is “Make You Mine” which is catchy as all get out.

I hope a tour that includes a stop in Las Vegas comes with the new release.

Be on the lookout for a LouFest preview and, of course, more new music.

Imagine Dragons (and more) @ Starlight Theater in KC

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Let me hurry up and tell you about this show, before it hits the two-week mark.

A few days after the weekend festival Kanrocksas was cancelled due to low ticket sales, a date was added to Imagine Dragons’ tour calendar. A sort of mini-festival was put together at the Starlight Theater in Kansas City, MO on June 28th.

I had never been to the Starlight Theater. And, buddy, it is nice. The prices at concession stands make you feel like you are, as my friend put it, at the Disneyland of Concert Venues; but it’s a beautiful venue nonetheless.

The bands that played that night, in order of appearance, were Churchill, Family of The Year, Twenty One Pilots, Capital Cities, and Imagine Dragons. I did some research in all bands before the show, because I was only familiar with ID, but after looking them up, I found a couple of songs I had heard somewhere before (Radio? Last.fm? Pandora? Spotify? Does anybody know where they hear songs for the first time anymore?)

My friend and I made a point to get on the road super early, just because I wanted to make sure to catch Churchill (remember?), and they were set to play first, right at 5:30pm. We were just getting into the gates when I heard one of the band members introducing the band. The second song they played was “Lock Your Heart Down,” which has been on heavy rotation in my Summer playlist. I recognized the song right away and sang along all the way until we reached our seats. Churchill formed around 2008/2009 in Denver, but they seem to be a young band on stage. I really enjoyed their set, it was a bummer that most of the people that got there early (I’d say about 1/3 of total attendance) didn’t seem to be listening to these guys. C’mon, son! Am I wrong to expect a lot of enthusiasm from people that paid to come hear music?

Next up came Family of The Year, which were great! I loved these guys. I don’t know why they didn’t stand out more when I was doing my research prior to the show, because I went back to check their albums and I really like them. Now, I’m really bad at nailing music genres, but I would describe these guys and gal as Indie Folk. They started playing and dancing around the stage, with their really sweet harmonies. It makes me think of a whole bunch of friends singing along during a road trip (I may have a whole music video with their song “The Stairs” playing in my head right now). You have to check them out. Specially you, @DocMurda. You will like them. They have two full albums out, Songbook and Loma Vista.

Twenty One Pilots was the act of the night that just took me by surprise. The Ohio duo started their set with a really heavy song that made me question the meaning of life. I really didn’t know what was happening. People were stoked, which told me they have a big of a big following. They mix electronic and hip-hop, in case you haven’t heard them before. I haven’t been able to figure out what that first song was. Revisiting their music, it sounds like it was “Ode To Sleep” and maybe it was just a lot more intense hearing it live. The set totally got better. These guys, Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun, have a lot of energy. A LOT of energy. The set included jumps, backflips, climbing giant speaker towers, and going up the balconies above the stage. These guys either have some gymnastics experience or had taken some redbull/5-hr-energy cocktail. My favorite part of the set was when Tyler got his ukulele and played “House Of Gold,” a song he wrote for his mom (Awww.) Their latest album is Vessel, released last year.

I didn’t enjoy Capital Cities as much as everyone else in the crowd. Their music just didn’t click with me. Their set was a bit longer than the rest. Churchill and Family of The Year both had 30-minute sets, while Capital Cities went on for about 1 hour. They were OK, I just wouldn’t have paid to see them on their own. I did enjoy their hit “Safe and Sound.” But overall, I was not impressed with the music or anything else. Not even with the silver matching jackets the whole band wore (They could have been white… Forgettable, as you can see).

The headliners of the night were Imagine Dragons. A band I’ve considered rockstar material since the first time I saw them live at a small auditorium at a casino outside the Las Vegas strip. I couldn’t believe a label hadn’t snatched them up, yet. But it happened a couple of months after that first time I saw them, to no one’s surprise. @DocMurda went to their first show of the Night Visions tour and sent me a text that fueled me to drive to KC for this show. That text said something along the lines of “Holy shit. Radioactive live!” So I couldn’t wait to experience it myself. “Radioactive” came towards the end of their set, and it was all I had imagined. @DocMurda was right!

As an introduction to “Demons,” Dan Reynolds, ID’s front man, noted that it is a song about his struggle with depression. It’s one of my favorite songs, maybe because it’s so haunting. But after the confession and the song, I needed something light and playful, so I’m glad they followed it with “Rocks.” The set also included “Tip Toe,” “Round and Round,” “Amsterdam,” “On Top Of The World,” “Hear Me” and “It’s Time.”

Dan got Missouri mixed up with Kansas at the beginning, but later apologized. I thought it was funny, and I bet it happens all the time.

I sported a sign for #OperationTokyo that I tried to flash only when any of the band members were looking my way. I didn’t want the people behind me to get too mad at me. I think new ID fans would so much appreciate their pre-Night Visions music. It would also help understand whey they come from. Too bad it’s no longer available anywhere. Why, Interscope Records, why?

The Dragons are still pretty much in awe of their success in the last year or so. In a way, it seemed like they were just a couple of steps ahead of Family of The Year and Churchill.

The almost 4 hours I drove to Kansas City, MO and back (I got back at 3:10am!) were worth it. Shout out to my friend Stephen for coming along! It appears I did a poor job of informing him of what was in store, because he look at bit surprised to see there were four “opening bands”… Can we even call them that? I don’t think so. Although I also don’t think it was a mini-music festival either. A festival is a musical smorgasbord, this was more of a musical banquet. All in all, it was so much fun. Check out the bands that played and if Imagine Dragons get close to you, go see them!

I made you a Spotify playlist. You are welcome!

And on a semi-related note, check out ID’s performance in Good Morning America: