Confession: I cannot possibly write an objective review of Badflower. They were one of the openers for the first show I ever photographed from the photo pit, back in 2017, and I fell in love with them that night. I also photographed them later that year when they opened for Greta Van Fleet. I bought their music, kept up with them on social media, watched them perform on late-night TV, and predicted their rise to success. Needless to say, I was thrilled to learn I’d been approved for their headlining show at The Hi-Fi Indy on April 26, 2019.
I expected - and received - a killer show. All four members of this LA-based band poured their hearts and souls into their performance, leaving the packed house wanting more. Keep your eyes on these guys - I have no doubt they’ll be hitting the top of the mainstreet charts soon!
In front of a backdrop reminiscent of a cozy living room, singer-songwriter Tori Kelly fully connected with the crowd at The Murat Theatre in Indianapolis on March 28, 2019. Accompanied only by her own guitar and that of Mateas Asato, she radiated quiet confidence as she filled the venue with her velvety voice. Fans were treated to several unreleased songs from her upcoming album, as well as Grammy-winning hits such as “Nobody Love.” Her 25-song setlist also included several covers and a multi-song mashup, and was peppered with anecdotes and the stories behind her songs. Throughout the show, Kelly’s vocals were strong, and her range was impressive. For me, personally, it was a welcome breath of spring after a long, cold, dreary winter.
It shouldn’t be a big deal for three bands who are fronted by badass women to tour together for months at a time, but for some reason, the music industry hasn’t really been keeping up with the whole gender equality thing. Fortunately, Lzzy Hale, Maria Brink, and Ash Costello have been kicking ass all over the world together. From hard-driving, in-your-face screamo to gut-wrenching ballads that bite into your soul, Halestorm, In This Moment and New Year’s Day have stories to tell - and you had better listen.
In This Moment
New Year’s Day
Kansas “Point of Know Return” 40th Anniversary Tour at Old National Centre 11/11/18
After 40 years and over 6 million copies, Kansas’ “Point of Know Return” album remains an icon of progressive rock. To see and hear it performed live, in its entirety, is an amazing experience, and one which I wholeheartedly recommend! I was privileged to be part of the sold-out crowd when Kansas came to the Murat Theatre at Old National Centre in Indianapolis November 11. I wondered if I’d recognize all the songs, how they’d sound after all these years, and if I’d like the new Kansas tunes. The answers to those questions were YES, ABSOLUTELY AMAZING, and YES!
Kansas began their 2+ hour set with several acoustic songs, including “Refugee,” from their latest album, “The Prelude Implicit,” and an emotional version of “People of the South Wind,.” They then transitioned to a full electric set, playing “Dust in the Wind,” as well as deep cuts off their various albums, and “Summer” from “The Prelude Implicit.” They then ripped through the entire “Point of Know Return” album – and it was incredible. To be honest, I had kind of forgotten how much I loved this album. I must’ve listened to it dozens of times, because I remembered all the melodies, cool riffs, key changes, and chord progressions. But I had forgotten how revolutionary, intricate - and technically difficult - these songs were. As leaders of the progressive rock movement, Kansas the set the bar tremendously high, and few, if any, bands have surpassed them.
But Kansas’ music isn’t just for audiophiles. Sure, those who understand the complexity and depth of Kansas’ performance will get more out of it, but honestly, there were a whole bunch of people in the audience who were there just to hear the hits they listened to on the radio, turntable, and/or 8-track back in the 70s, and I’m 100% sure they had a blast, too.
As for me, I loved every single song. And although I was jamming along with everyone else to “Portrait (He Knew)”, “Spider,” and “Point of Know Return,” I gained new appreciation for “Lightning’s Hand” and “The Tempest” after watching them being performed live. Fingers, bows, and drumsticks were flying, and the energy levels were out the roof for those songs, both of which completely engaged the crowd. Which reminds me: props to the lighting maestros, who did a brilliant job (no pun intended) of spotlighting each artist at just the right time throughout the whole show.
Kansas closed out the set with “Hopelessly Human,” and even though they left the darkened stage, there was no question they were returning for an encore, because one key song had yet to be performed: “Carry On My Wayward Son.” The entire crowd went nuts for this one, myself included. To say this song is iconic is cliché, but dammit, it’s true. The poignant lyrics, the harmonies, the heavy bass and guitar, and of course that hook in the chorus, come together in a masterpiece that generations know, love, and sing along to – at the top of their lungs. Although I’m sure it would’ve sounded a whole lot better if it wasn’t sung out of key by several thousand people, but it was still a beautiful thing.
See my review for Brent James and the Vintage Youth right below the Candlebox Gallery.
See my review below this gallery
Live Review – Candlebox with Brent James and the Vintage Youth at Old National Centre, 10 19 18
By Laura Fox for The Front Row Report
After a two-year absence, Seattle-based Candlebox returned to Indianapolis Friday night, playing to a packed crowd at the Deluxe at Old National Centre. The five-piece band, who describe themselves as “Face melting kinda metal but not really grunge yet close and VERY Blues based,” are undoubtedly icons of the 1990s Seattle music scene, and I was really stoked about seeing them again.
I was also excited to hear Brent James and the Vintage Youth. Although I knew the quartet from Cincinnati was more Muscle Shoals than Seattle Grunge, I was a little surprised when half the band appeared on stage barefoot. It started to make sense as they started jamming on their first song, “Fine Young Man,” which could’ve been on a Molly Hatchet album back in the day. Skillfully blending blues, rock and rockabilly, frontman Brent James, accompanied by Ricky Veeneman on guitar, Matt Gandenberger on bass, and Nick Baverman on drums, performed a rollicking nine-song set that left the audience in a great mood.
As I waited for Candlebox to take the stage, I thought about the last time I saw them. It was 1995, and they were at the peak of their popularity, right after the release of their sophomore album, “Lucy.” Their sound was fresh, and their performance was electrifying. After 23 years, a six-year hiatus and a few member changes, I wondered how they would sound. Would Kevin Martin’s distinct vocals still be strong? Would their music still be edgy and fresh?
The answer was a resounding, ”YES!”
They came out swinging with “Don’t You,” a high-energy hit from their self-titled debut album, which happens to be 25 years old now. They followed it up with “Change,” also from their debut album. I was relieved that founding member Kevin Martin’s distinct vocals were as strong as ever, and maybe even a little better – more mellow and less raspy than in Candlebox’s heyday. He did a fantastic job of engaging the crowd, making constant eye contact, giving high-fives, telling personal stories, repeatedly expressing appreciation for their loyalty, and explaining the meaning behind many of the songs. I found his “HAS BEEN” t-shirt hysterically ironic given the amount of energy he put into the show, as well as the fan love that was bestowed upon him.
That love was shared by Brian Quinn and Island Styles on guitar, Adam Kury on bass, and Rock-and-Roll-Hall-of-Famer Dave Krusen on drums. Although Martin is the only member who’s been with the band from the beginning, they played Candlebox’s syncopated riffs as though they’ve all been together for years. They jammed hard during their sixteen-song set, which included newer releases as well as older hits, along with some deeper cuts from their six studio albums, and extended versions of several songs. Nearly every song had at least a few people singing along, and I’m pretty sure 100% of the audience (including yours truly) was singing to the chorus of “You,” “Cover Me,” and “Far Behind.”
I was a little confused when the Martin took a survey near the end of the show to find out who all in the audience was Christian, then who was Catholic and who was Protestant. But then he explained that he doesn’t care what religion everyone is, and that we all need to respect each other’s beliefs and get along together. I normally hate when artists get political in their shows, but this is one message I can get behind. He then picked up an acoustic guitar for “Cover Me,” bringing an entirely different vibe and meaning to one of their biggest hits.
Candlebox finished their regular set with an intense and passionate version of “Far Behind,” which left everyone clamoring for “one more song.” The encore selection, “Rain,” started out slow and bluesy and ended with an all-out jam, which was a perfect ending to an amazing evening of rock and roll.
The Amity Affliction have been around the music scene long enough to know how to get the crowd going - and they did it with great skill at the Vans Warped Tour at Ruoff Home Mortgage Music Center.
Of all the women who have impacted the music industry, Joan Jett is without a doubt one of the most influential. In fact, I don't think there's a person over the age of 10 who can't sing the chorus of "I Love Rock and Roll." To be able to photograph this living legend was a dream come true for me and all the other photographers - it was the most crowded photo pit of the entire day. The pavillion was jammed with fans, as well, and the sides and back of the stage were packed with other Warped artists and VIPs. Joan Jett's voice was strong and loud, her attitude and guitar skills were as was as badass as ever, and the Blackhearts kicked ass right along with her.
Asking Alexandria's raw power and smooth-as-silk vocals shouldn't work together, but they absolutely do! They also have a whole lotta fun on stage, making them a crowd favorite.
Phoenix-based all-girl, pop-punk Doll Skin were the darlings of the 2018 Warped Tour, drawing big crowds of devoted fans to every show and earning rave reviews at every venue.
Motionless in White are one of my favorite bands to photograph. Their intensity, drama, and overall stage presence are over the top - it's enough to drive the fans nuts and make photographers lose their sh** trying to capture it all.