Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Top 10 Shows of 2013

2013 was quite a busy year, but an awesome one as well. I saw lots of shows and had a lot of fun. However, it wasn't exactly an easy year. There were many big changes that I needed to adjust to, such as a new job, the death of a friend and the birth of my nephew. Despite this, I made it my mission to take advantage of life, and do what makes me happy.

Thus, just like every other blog, I've compiled a list of my most memorable shows of the year. Here are my top 10 shows of 2013:

10) Nine Inch Nails @ Bell Centre
This show makes my top 10 because I didn't think I would ever have the opportunity to see NIN again. The tour was in support of the group's latest album "Hesitation Marks". The album is really good, although some die-hard NIN fans are not too thrilled about it. The show included a lot of new material, which many fans did not like. However, the show was impressive both visually and sonically. Although I really enjoyed the show, it was nowhere near as good as the first time I saw NIN play in Ottawa in support of "Year Zero" (at least I think it was around that time).

9) Plants and Animals @ Ritual
Although I had seen the group a few times, I was particularly excited about this show, which was in support of their third album "The End of That". In addition, I had only seen the band play outdoor venues so this was quite different. The show was great and the venue was packed. There was really great energy in the room. I also really enjoyed the setlist, which features a great mix of new and older material. To top it all off, I had the opportunity to interview drummer Matthew Woodley before the show for Couch Assassin. This was a great opportunity for me, so I was over the moon! In case you missed it, check out my interview here.

8) Ben Caplan @ Mavericks
If you haven't heard of Ben Caplan yet, then you are missing out! I had heard great things about this musician from Halifax, and unfortunately I wasn't able to make it to his show at Raw Sugar Cafe last year. So when he came back to Ottawa to play Mavericks in February, I didn't want to miss my opportunity. Caplan isn't just a great songwriter, he is an all-out entertainer! His voice is out of this world (and so is his beard)! Caplan is also quite charming and loves to interact with the audience. Take my word for it: You will never forget a Ben Caplan show!

7) Heathers @ Cafe Dekcuf
I decided to go check out Heathers' live show because of the poster. Yep. I saw the poster, and thought to myself: I'd probably like that. And did I ever! Their music is catchy... I was hooked after the first song! These Irish twins are impressive musicians, singers and lyricists. Not only are they beautiful and talented, they are so nice! Next time they play a show near you, don't miss them!

6) Rush @ Ottawa Bluesfest
The show at this year's Bluesfest that I was most exciting about seeing was Rush. And they did not disappoint! The sound, the lights, the visuals... Everything was big and over the top! They did play mostly material from their latest record "Clockwork Angels". I wasn't familiar with the group's new material but it was a great introduction. To me, Rush is the ultimate musical representation of Canadiana, so seeing them live was great! Also, I've loved them ever since I started watching Trailer Park Boys (haha). The only con to the overall experience was the really, REALLY drunk middle-aged men in attendance that were loud, rowdy and annoying.

5) Feist @ Arts & Craft Field Trip
My summer began on a high note with the Arts & Craft Field Trip concert in Toronto. Although there were tons of artists/groups that I was excited to check out, the one that stood out the most for me was Feist. I've been a fan of hers for years, but I had never seen her perform live solo. I did see her perform with Broken Social Scene a long, long time ago but that didn't really count for me. There were thousands of people in attendance, and I could barely see the stage. Still, Feist took over the stage and put on quite a show! The energy was fantastic, and the setlist was great, including a good mix of songs from all of her albums (all of which are superb). I really enjoyed how every song was altered and sounded completely different than the original. Although there were so many people around, I felt like I was in my own little world and that Feist was performing just for me. Unforgettable!

4) Avett Brothers @ Ottawa Folkest
There was a few artists that I wanted to check out at Folkfest, although the lineup wasn't stellar, in my opinion. A friend of mine asked me to check out the Avett Brothers. I had never heard of the group but I rarely decline an invitation to go check out a band, especially one that I don't know. Boy, was I pleasantly surprised! First, I assumed that the Avett Brothers were a rock group from the '60s or '70s. That couldn't be farther from the truth. These young, bearded Southern rockers blend many musical genres, including country, bluegrass, folk and rock. I have never in my life seen a live show with so much energy. It was surreal! You could tell that everyone in attendance was having a blast. The only downside to an amazing like show like this: listening to the Avett Brothers on CD is not nearly as good. I can safely say that I am now a fan of the Avett Brothers.

3) Megadeth @ Heavy MTL
In August, I went to the Heavy MTL festival for the very first time. I was quite excited to check out all of the bands that were on the bill. The biggest surprise of the festival was the band that I had been avoiding for years: Megadeth. My partner has been listening to Megadeth since we've started dating, and since then, I've flat out refused to give them a chance... mostly because I'm not a fan of frontman Dave Mustaine. While at Heavy MTL, I decided to finally shut up and give them a chance. Wow! I never expected to actually enjoy their show... but I did! The energy at this show was insane, and seeing all the hardcore fans of all ages sing all of the words to all of the songs was really touching. I never in a million years imagined that I would enjoy this show. Since then, I can now say that I like listening to Megadeth and would love to see them live again.

2) Alt-J @ Osheaga
This past summer, I headed to Montreal to catch the first day of Osheaga. There were many shows that I was excited to check out, but none more than Alt-J. I had been obsessing over their album "An Awesome Wave" for months, and I couldn't wait to see them live. They did not disappoint! Although they only played for 45 minutes, the show was great. The band sounded great, and had lots of energy on stage. I was standing really close to the front of the stage, which was fun being in the mist of the crowd. The highlight of the show was definitely when they played "Blood Flood", my favourite song of the album.

1) Woodkid @ Metropolis
Hands down, the best show I went to in 2013. Seriously. It's hard to describe the experience of that show... On July 1st, the Metropolis was sold out. Woodkid played a show as part of the Montreal Jazz Festival. I've seen many shows at this venue, including metal shows, and no show ever came close to the intensity of this show. The Metropolis was literally shaking. At times, I was legitimately scared that the venue would collapse. The crowd was so intense... which is a bit odd, considering the type of majestic, epic sound of Woodkid. However, that evening was just that... epic! His album "The Golden Age" had officially been released earlier that year, and it is absolutely sublime. Yoann Lemoine was joined on stage by various musicians, including a brass ensemble and two drummers. In the background, a giant screen showed videos and images during the performance. This added an amazing visual element to the performance, and definitely made it more grandiose. There was lots of talk surrounding this show, and with good reason. You gotta experience it to believe it! Woodkid's performance exceeded all of my expectations and that show is definitely my top show of the year.


Sunday, 15 December 2013

Forgotten Opportunities

I recently came across some old articles that I wrote for Ottawa Life Magazine. This was my first opportunity to do freelance writing and I absolutely loved it. I got to write about topics that were of interest to me, which was great.

Sometimes, I forget how much I've accomplished and how lucky I am. And although I had forgotten about them, I am really proud of the articles that I wrote for OLM.

You can read my articles here.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

New James Vincent McMorrow

I discovered James Vincent McMorrow two years ago. The musician hails from Dublin, Ireland, and his voice just melts you like butter. Wow...

His debut album "Early in the Morning" is wonderful, and after one listen, I was hooked! By that point, I had already missed his performance at Osheaga 2012. I was devastated...

I recently discovered that McMorrow will release his second LP "Post Tropical" on January 14th. I cannot wait! The first single off the new album is called "Cavalier" and it is fantastic. A second track from the new album was also released recently, untitled "Red Dust". You can listen to it here.

Fingers crossed that McMorrow will be touring in 2014! In the meantime, check out the video for "Cavalier" below. Enjoy!

Monday, 9 December 2013

New Broken Bells

It was recently announced that Broken Bells will release a new album in 2014. "After the Disco" will be released this coming February. I can't wait!

Broken Bells is a project by the Shins' James Mercer and artist-producer Danger Mouse (formerly of Gnarls Barkley). A winning combination!

I really enjoyed their first, self-titled album and I cannot wait for "After the Disco". The group will also be touring in the new year, playing a show at the Metropolis on March 4. It should be a really fun show!

Check out the new Broken Bells video for "Holding on for Life". The music video stars the lovely Kate Mara and the adorable Anton Yelchin. Enjoy!

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Photos: White Cowbell Oklahoma @ Mavericks

Saturday night was complete mayhem. White Cowbell Oklahoma definitely left a mark at Mavericks... literally! A good crowd showed up to witness the mayhem and rock out. If you've never seen WCO live, check 'em out in a town near you. You won't be disappointed, trust me.

Check out the pics below. Enjoy!



In case you missed it, check out my interview with Clem C. Clemsen from White Cowbell Oklahoma on Couch Assassin here.

Friday, 6 December 2013

Anything Can Happen (This is Just the Beginning)

A lot can happen in a year. For me, 2013 has been a year of hard work and self-realization. After losing a friend in January, I began to really understand the importance of seizing the day, and living life on my own terms.

At my age, it feels like everyone around me is getting married, buying houses and having babies. Yes, I may be married, but I don't feel like I relate to these people. I feel this constant pressure to settle down, and lead a normal life. Well, normal equals boring to me. And I definitely don't want that for my life... At least not right now. I've got so much life to live before I settle down.

A year ago today, I interviewed a band for the first time. Safe to say, this was a really big deal to me. Thanks to Sors-tu, I was able to go backstage at the Metropolis to speak to Band of Horses. This  moment was one of my personal and professional highlights. I felt absolutely surreal. I felt excited, nervous and really proud of myself. Proud that I made it that far... Proud that I had pursued my interest passion and that I never gave up. I am extremely thankful for that opportunity and for the others that were presented to me. You can read the interview here.

My interview with Band of Horses was just the beginning. Since then, I've interview a lot of bands, written a lot of articles, and seen a hell of a lot of shows. When I got involved with Couch Assassin in the Fall of 2012, I was looking for more writing opportunities. I never imagined that I would get to live my dreams, see more amazing shows, meet so many awesome people and support local artists by being an advocate for my artistic community.

I cannot even express my gratitude for all the opportunities I've had, and all the amazing artists that I've seen perform and that I've met. This year has been an absolute dream, and I am so thankful.

Here's to another year of living life to its fullest!

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Photos: Greg McEvoy, Ilvekyo & Shawn Tavenier

Tuesday night was good night to be at Avant Garde Bar. Three awesome acts took the stage and patrons had an absolute blast, especially me!

The show started with Shawn Tavenier, who was joined by Nick Gauthier, both from local group Silver Creek. I had heard of the group, but never had the opportunity to hear them play live. I really enjoyed the group. After speaking to Tavenier, I discovered that the group plays every Wednesday evening at the Highlander. Check 'em out!

Then it was time for Ilvekyo. You remember Ilvekyo, right? I saw them perform for the first time this past Summer on the rooftop of Jack Pine. Since then, I've seen them play a few times, and the guys are great! This past week-end, the group apparently recorded 3-4 new songs for an upcoming EP. They performed some new songs, and they are great. Seriously, look up Ilvekyo or catch one of their upcoming shows. You will not be disappointed!

Afterwards, it was time for Toronto based musician Greg McEvoy to take the stage. McEvoy was also one of the artists that I saw performing on the rooftop. Not only is he a super nice guy, his songs are really catchy. The first few times I saw him play, it was stripped down acoustic sets. This time, he played with the support of a band, which was nice. Check out his EP "Sea of Yards", released in September.

Overall, a great night of music at Avant Garde Bar. Not too shabby for a Tuesday night.