Sunday, February 17, 2013

Live Review: Heavy and Light in NYC

>> Heavy and Light isn't just another fancy name for a tour. Each date of this tour, hosted by To Write On Her Arms (TWLOHA), felt more like a reunion even if you had never met anyone else in attendance.  Between the spoken word poet and the personal speeches from members of the TWLOHA team in between the bands, there was a deep connection in the room.  The New York City date of this tour took place on February 13th at Irving Plaza.  I was able to attend this date and given the intimate setting, it was really a treat.

>> For those who may not know, To Write Love On Her Arms is non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide. TWLOHA exists to encourage, inform, inspire, and invest directly into treatment and recovery.  This and more information can be found at .  In order to spread the message that, no matter what you're struggling with, you are not alone, TWLOHA has become affiliated with the music scene.  You'll almost always see the TWLOHA tent at Warped Tour and other festivals.  In addition to having a spot on Warped, TWLOHA also puts on their own music event titled Heavy and Light.  This year, the event turned into a tour, but it by no means lost the personal feel. 

>> Upon entering Irving Plaza, attendees were greeted by people in TWLOHA shirts and were handed pamphlets.  These pamphlets gave some information about TWLOHA, but went a step further.  In addition to sharing the organization's goals, the pamphlets also included information and hotline numbers for suicide hotlines and the like.  These weren't just general numbers though, but rather numbers specific to New York.  So not only did the people at TWLOHA make these pamphlets to spread the word about their cause, but they went out of their way to make them specific to each date of the tour.  It's the personal touch that really stuck out here, and this was before the event truly began.
Jon Foreman (Source: VBrosephson Photography)

>> Spoken word poet Anis Mojgani was the first speaker of the evening.  The room was silent as he spoke from the balcony.  While he spoke quickly, the audience seemed to hang on and really absorb every word.  The venue went silent while he spoke, and the room was full or warmth, respect, and understanding.  Will Anderson of Parachute came out next.  His songs were charming and light, and they got the crowd singing along. "She Is Love" and "Something To Believe In" got the best reaction.  During "She Is Love," people put their arms around one another and swayed to the rhythm.  It was peaceful and fun, and the set itself was full of love.

>> When Will left the stage, TWLOHA founder and creative director Jamie Tworkowski took the stage for his first speech of the evening. His speech focused on how this particular line-up came together and how proud he was of all the hard work that went into making Heavy and Light happen.  It was less of a formal speech and more of a moment to acknowledge that we're all in this together.  While Jamie spoke, the next band set up.  So once he was done, Now, Now took the stage.  This band has been generating a lot of buzz recently and for good reason.  This 3-piece put on an excellent show involving killer harmonies and even a xylophone. Their set seemed light-hearted and meant to be enjoyed, and the crowd certainly seemed to have fun.  This is a band that is worth all the hype.

>> After the applause for Now, Now ended, another member of the TWLOHA team took the stage.  He spoke about what TWLOHA meant to him and why he was proud to be a part of the organization.  He said that an event like this has a goal of eliminating the stigmas around issues like addiction and depression, which he believes people should not be afraid to talk about.  Through this event, he and the TWLOHA family hoped to encourage an open discussion about things that deeply affect people, even the things society can make us afraid to talk about or admit.  His speech focused on the fact that people should not be afraid to be themselves or to admit that they have struggles because more than likely, you're not the only one struggling with that very issue.  It was a general speech but it felt very close to home, and again, the silence in the room indicated respect and a shared sense of understanding.

>> Up next was The Lone Bellow.  This New York based band took the warmth from the speech preceding them and brought it to life.  This set was full of energy and soul, and the crowd certainly picked up on it.  The songs all shared a folky-feel and a lively sound that really got everyone moving.  While the entire set was great, the song "Button" stuck out.  It featured female main vocals with a bluesy attitude.  This act really made an excellent impression.  Their songs all had a genuine feel to them, and it sat well with the audience.  This is another band to keep an eye on for sure; they're going places.
The Lone Bellow (Source: VBrosephson Photography)

>> Instead of another speech, the crowd enjoyed more spoken word poetry from Anis Mojgani.  It was a really interesting set of topics addressed, plus it was a good break from speeches - bands - speeches.  It was definitely a cool addition to an already talented line-up of performances.  Next up was Anthony Raneri.  He, along with Jack from Bayside, took the stage and performed some acoustic tunes.  Anthony performed a bunch of songs from his solo record, as well as some classic Bayside songs such as "Blame It On Bad Luck" and "Don't Call Me Peanut."  As always, the set was very well received by this New York crowd.  Whether it's acoustic or full band, Anthony and the rest of Bayside really know what the crowd wants and how to give it to them.

>> Jamie Tworkowski took the stage and gave the final speech of the evening.  He thanked the crowd for coming out and supporting the cause he and his team are all so invested in.  He seemed genuinely grateful and excited to be a part of this event.  Jamie concluded his speech by introducing the last act of the show, Jon Foreman of Switchfoot.  Jon performed two songs solo before being joined on stage by the rest of his new band, Fiction Family.  One of those songs he performed solo was "Dare You To Move."  His performance of that song was special because, taking advantage of the intimacy of the small venue, sang without a microphone.  You can see that song performed in the video below.

>> After the sing-a-long for "Dare You To Move,"  Jon Foreman performed songs with his new band, Fiction Family.   These songs had a folky feel similar to The Lone Bellow, but in a way that maintained some originality.  There was a country song full of yee-haws and quick talk-singing, and other fun things that kept the crowd clapping.  Jon busted out the harmonica and added some more warmth to an already fun set.  At the end, everyone of the artists who had already performed that night joined Fiction Family on stage and together they covered "Heroes" by David Bowie.  The presence of lyric sheets made the cover seem spontaneous and the amount of people performing it at once made it feel like a party. It was truly an amazing thing to witness.  It was fun and perfectly summed up the "we're in this together" atmosphere that the event was striving for all along.

>> In addition to the performances and speeches, there was also a photo area by the merch.  TWLOHA is currently hosting a Fears Vs. Dreams campaign in which they ask individuals to write their fears and their dreams on a sign.  These participants are often photographed and the pictures are shared on facebook and the like in order to show others that there are people who worry about the same things they do.  It's a really great way to not only say that "you're not alone," but to go a step further by physically showing it's true.  I participated myself because I think it's a great campaign and an even better way to spread the TWLOHA message of acceptance.

>> This event was truly something special.  The amount of effort, passion, energy, talent, and determination put into making it all happen was so clearly evident in every aspect of the evening.  The night was full of speeches but nothing was preachy; it felt like a friend up on stage addressing other friends in the crowd.  The overall message I got from the event was this: You're not alone.  No matter what you're struggling with, you are not the only one, and there is someone out there who wants to help.  Never be embarrassed to be yourself.  Everyone has struggles, and the way we deal with those struggles help make us who we are.  Never be afraid to admit you have a problem or that you need help; Whether it's a hotline, TWLOHA, or someone at a show - there's always someone there willing to talk.  An event and an organization with that kind of message deserves all the support they can get.

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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Postal Service Announce Spring Tour Dates

>> The Postal Service have announced dates for their first tour since 2003.  The tour includes stops throughout the US, UK, and Europe, as well as two performances at Coachella. You can find tickets and more information here.

Tour Dates:
04/09 - Reno, NV @ Grand Sierra Theatre
04/10 - Davis, CA @ Mondavi Center
04/12 - San Luis Obispo, CA @ Madonna Expo Center
04/13 - Indio, CA @ Coachella
04/18 - Phoenix, AZ @ Comerica Theatre
04/19 - Las Vegas, NV @ Chelsea Ballroom at the Cosmopolitan
04/20 - Indio, CA @ Coachella
05/18 - Manchester, England @ Academy 2*
05/20 - London, England @ Brixton Academy*
05/21 - Paris, France @ Trianon*
05/23 - Barcelona, Spain @ Primavera Sound Festival*
06/14 - Brooklyn, NY @ Barclays Center

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Monday, February 4, 2013

A Rocket To The Moon to Release "Wild and Free"

>> A Rocket To The Moon will be releasing their new album on March 26, 2013 through Fueled By Ramen. The band seems very excited about their new album, titled "Wild and Free," and recently unveiled the album art as well.  You can see that below along with a statement from the band's frontman Nick Santino.

The cover of Wild & Free is one of the coolest parts of this new record. Going into the photo shoot we had these thoughts in our heads of how we could make the album title come across in a photo. We kept throwing around the idea of Peter Pan and the Lost Boys and Where The Wild Things Are. The photo has a warm feel to it and in my opinion feels very Wild & Free.

We shot the artwork with Eric Ryan Anderson in my neck of the woods in the South Shore of Massachusetts. I design a majority of the artwork and merch for the band and this album art was something I wanted to take a stab at. I had an idea of what I wanted it to look like and I think it came out amazing. I'm very proud of the final product and I hope you guys like it as well! Stay Wild & Free!


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