Tag Archives: Empires

Watch This: Empires “Keep It Steady”

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There have been lots of awesome video releases lately. Today’s pick is from Chicago rockers, Empires. They have a new video for their song “Keep It Steady” which can be found on their most recent album, Garage Hymns.  Empires is on the list of bands appearing at SXSW this year. This makes me very very happy as their live shows are killer, but rare on the West Coast.


~ Kristen

Amanda’s Top Ten Musical Experiences (cont.)

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I bet you thought I forgot all about this! Well, the truth of the matter is… I haven’t been home to write and when I am home, I’m sleeping. I’ve been out making new musical experiences for 2012! As such I’m giving you three more of my top musical experiences and I promise the top 2 won’t be far behind.


5.SXSW- I don’t really know how to describe SXSW to anyone other than calling it a musical orgy of sorts. There is so much to see and do whilst in Austin, Texas that it’s hard to keep your head on straight. Last year was my first year and I hope to be going every year after. The cool thing about SXSW is you really only need money for a place to stay and some food. We never went to any official shows (which is what badges are required for) and we had a hard time keeping up with all the musical options out there. During our time at SXSW we saw; Fierce Creatures, Viva City, Purple Melon, AWOLNATION, Neon Trees, The Head and The Heart, The Kin, Dead Sara, Fitz and The Tantrums, Tailor Made Fable, Keaton Simons, Liam Finn, Atomic Tom, Ivan and Alyosha, Queen Caveat, The Gallery, Sabrosa Purr,  The Greenhornes, The Silent Comedy, Mother Mother, Agnes Obel, Brian Wright, Brooke Fraser, Cary Brothers, Holly Conlan, Jim Bianco, Joey Ryan, Kenneth Pattengale, Laura Jansen, Little Red Radio, OK, The Milk Carton Kids, Deluka, Hugo, Meriwether, My Cousin The Emperor, Sinai, Taylor Locke & The Roughs, The Good Natured, Augustana, Doll and The Kicks, Empires, Lenka, Twin Atlantic, and The Stone Foxes. Well, you get the idea…


4. Blink-182- I was never a huge fan of Blink. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t change the radio station when their music came on or anything but nothing about them made me have a burning desire to see them live. In 2011, I saw them not once but twice and they will always have a warm spot in my heart. The first time I saw them was for the Honda Civic Tour. I was working with Kevin and Rebecca Joelson and doing some shooting of the event which means I was in the pit for the first few songs and was able to be side stage for the rest of their set. I was surprised at just how many Blink-182 songs I knew and Rebecca and I sang along from the sidelines. What really blew my brain was when they ‘finished’ their set and this giant rig comes down from the batons where all the lights are. I had been staring at it all night trying to figure out what it was. Well, it was a giant arm with a drum set attached! Travis got on this rig and was taken out over the audience while he played a solo for a few minutes. The rig would tilt down, back up and move around. It was mind blowing!!!! Needless to say, I was a fan after that.


3. Bonnaroo- In 2011, Bonnaroo was what Coachella should have been lineup wise. If you’ve ever been to or know about Coachella, think of Bonnaroo as the cooler sister who is both hippie and hip. Bonnarro is also held in a giant field and while it lacks the artistic attractions like the wandering robot and the giant hand that can kill a car, it has yoga and it’s own post office. Bonnaroo also has this giant fountain which I’ve been told gets painted different colors every year but it’s a great way to stay cool in the heat. Coachella doesn’t have that. Granted Coachella is easier to get to, but flying out gave us the chance to hang out in Tennessee and check out Nashville for a day or two. Our highlights from Bonnaroo were already posted on this site but we had a blast watching Eminem, The Head and The Heart, Portugal. The Man, Neon Trees, Kopeckey Family Band, Mumford and Sons, Cory Chisel and The Wandering Sons, Alberta Cross, The Black Angels, and The Decemberists. Bonnaroo is a new tradition in my book and I can’t wait to see the lineup for 2012!


See you soon for my top 2!

Kristen’s LA Concert Calendar: 11/14-11/20

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Greetings from Philadelphia! I’m out east having a blast catching up with friends and some of my favorite local bands. Last night I was reminded of how much I love The Pawnshop Roses. You should all check them out. (http://pawnshoproses.com/pawnshoproses.com/Home.html)

As much as I love being in my old stomping grounds, I’m a bit upset at not being in LA Monday. Why do all these amazing shows have to occur while I am not there? I guess I should be grateful that I don’t have to choose between Empires at the Satellite, The Silent Comedy at Bootleg, and Harper Blynn at Bardot. I’ll leave that choice up to you. I am also devastated that I’m missing out on Augustana at The Hotel Cafe Tuesday night.

Fortunately I’ll be back by Sunday for a super cool show that WE ARE PRESENTING at Lot 1 with Wires in the Walls. More on that later. For now, just mark your calendar!

Here’s what else is happening this week:

Monday: Empires at Origami Vinyl (6pm)
ALSO: Empires and Vanaprasta FREE at The Satellite (9pm)
ALSO: Jack & White, Terraplane Sun, Little Hurricane, and The Silent Comedy FREE at Bootleg Theater (8pm)
ALSO: It’s a School Night at Bardot featuring Greg Holden and Harper Blynn (10:30)…FREE with RSVP
ALSO: Songwriters in the Round at Room 5 (9pm)
ALSO: Fun at The Troubadour (9pm)


Tuesday: Augustana at The Hotel Cafe (10:30)
ALSO: Brett Hite at the W Hotel (8pm)
ALSO: Bird by Bird at Silverlake Lounge (10pm)
ALSO: So & So at The Viper Room (8pm)
ALSO: Beachwood Night FREE at Piano Bar (8:30)


Weds: Harper Blynn and Schuyler Fisk at The Hotel Cafe (9-12)
ALSO: Kyle Nicolaides, The Stone Foxes, and Armada at The Viper Room (8:15, 10:15, 11:45)


Thursday: Noel Gallagher at UCLA’s Royce Hall (8pm)
ALSO: Marketa Irglova at The Troubadour (10pm)
ALSO: Amber Rubarth at The Hotel Cafe (10pm)…record release show
ALSO: Lady Sinatra at The Viper Room (9:30)


Friday: Noel Gallagher at UCLA’s Royce Hall (8pm)
ALSO: Wires in the Walls at O’Brien’s (10pm)
ALSO: Jones Street Station at The Hotel Café (midnight)
ALSO: Cold War Kids at The Troubadour (10pm)


Saturday: Semi Precious Weapons and Indians at The Roxy (8pm)
ALSO: Milo Greene, The Belle Brigade, and The Civil Wars at The Wiltern (7:30)
ALSO: Jones Street Station at Bootleg Theater (10pm)


Sunday: Wires in the Walls at Lot 1(8pm)
ALSO: Tony Lucca at The Hotel Cafe (8pm)


To Keep in Mind:
November 29th: Rachel Yamagata at The Troubadour
December 2nd: Fair to Midland at The Troubadour
December 2nd: Allen Stone at The Echo
December 2nd: Priscilla Ahn at The El Rey
December 2nd: Camp Freddy at The Roxy
December 6th: The Postelles and Maniac at Bootleg Theater
December 9th: Camp Freddy at The Roxy
December 14th: Deas Vail at The Roxy
December 16th: Camp Freddy at The Roxy
December 16th: Oh Land at The El Rey
December 16th: Hotel Café Christmas Party night 1
December 17th: Hotel Café Christmas Party night 2
December 23rd: Camp Freddy at The Roxy
Feb. 2nd: Mutemath at Club Nokia
March 9th: William Fitzsimmons at The Troubadour
March 13th-18th: SXSW (Austin, TX)


~ Kristen



Live Concert Streaming: The End of The Show or A Great New Beginning?

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Okay, I was skeptical of this concept when it first came out. Why would I want to watch a show online when I could go out and see one live? I still feel that what I love most about the live performance simply cannot come across through a video camera. I also feel that having a show streaming for all to see really takes something away from the people lucky enough to be there. But as I sit here giddy in my office chair watching my fave Chicago rockers, Empires, stream a performance live on www.audiotreemusic.com, I realize that I am slowly becoming a convert to these computer concerts.

Watching Empires rock out in a studio actually marks the third time I’ve sat in front of my computer to hear “live” music just in the past week or so. For the past several Sundays fellow Philly to LA transplant, George Stanford has broadcast live from his home, playing requests, chatting with anyone who comes into the chat room or just…talking. Also last week 2/3rds of TFDI, Matt Duke and Tony Lucca, did some video hobnobbing mixed with a few live tunes (again, mostly requests).

What I like about the current state of live music streaming is that is has evolved beyond a simple transmission of a concert. I’m watching Empires performing in a studio, something that would be nearly impossible in any other circumstance. I find myself excited to hear the band’s answers to questions ranging from the typical (what album has inspired you), the more interesting (describe being out on the road in two words), to the absurd (what color and shape would you be). I would be far less titillated by a previously recorded video, similar in nature. With the live stream, I feel an energy akin to watching a sporting event. I find myself anxious. What song will they play next? How silly will the next question be? How will everyone respond??

The unedited band interaction is also something that has previously been unique to a live concert experience. One of the reasons I love acts like TFDI, almost as much as the music itself, is the interaction between the artists. Seeing Tony and Matt’s playful banter as they respond to questions and play tunes captures an element of a live show that you don’t often get in a recording. The immediate fan to musician contact is also unique and exciting. Even at a live show you’re not going to get a hello from Tony’s adorable daughter, Sparrow, or Matt’s equally adorable, visually challenged cat. The chat service also connects fans from all over as they debate the best tune or live show while their favorite musician sings away.

So where is this all going? While I think that streaming live shows or having live chats with your favorite artists is veeery far away from replacing the actual event, I hope that it doesn’t deter people from going out and actually experiencing the music. I had someone remark recently that they were much happier watching Lady Gaga from the comforts of their home with their XL TV screen and surround sound than they would have been seeing the spectacle from a distance dealing with the crowds and the traffic. All this live streaming of major concert festivals like Coachella and Lollapalooza has allowed many people from all over the world to “attend” these events, but I’ve heard from avid concert goers that they now feel they never need to go to a festival again. Remarks like these concern me…

Another thing I’m unsure about is the new trend of having artist charge money for a “private” live show via the computer. Tickets for an online event? Really? Hrrrmm….  While I feel that this venue is great for getting the word out the about who you are and what you do, and I appreciate the artists’ ingenuity in finding a way to use technological advances to make money, I know I’m certainly not at the point where I’d be willing to pay for such an experience. I think asking for donations or whatnot is great, but I hope I never find myself wanting to buy a ticket for an online show.  I just see this going down a terrifying path into the depths of the haunted woods; dark shadows, spooky sounds, etc. etc. Maybe when I’m once again living in a music wasteland or in another year when selling tickets for online shows becomes the norm, I’ll change my tune, but for now, call me unnerved.


As long as it’s free and easy, however, I think I’m becoming a fan of these live events. While I would much prefer Empries’ front man, Sean Van Vleet, singing in my face and getting the opportunity to have a brief one-on-one conversation with guitarist/producer, Max Steger, after a show, I’d take this over nothing at all. Especially considering that the band is from Chicago and does not travel out to Los Angeles that often. I’m getting to hear new songs, I know which band member likes The Smashing Pumpkins and which considers himself a diamond…who likes to answer ridiculous questions and really who just wants to be out on the road…I find myself wishing more of my favorite bands, especially those stuck in distant cities, would do things like this (Philly bands do you hear me?).

While I’m still getting to know what sites are best for streaming and which bands put on the most ridiculous shows, here are a couple on my radar. I’m hoping to use this as another new way to both promote and discover great new music! Let me know if you have any suggestions…


Sites that offer live streaming:

http://www.audiotreemusic.com/audiotree_live.html (where I just watched the Empires set)

http://www.vokle.com/ (where Tony and Matt conducted their chat with the help of Rockridge Music)

http://www.facebook.com/GeorgeStanfordMusic?sk=app_142371818162 Livestream where George Stanford plays some Sunday afternoons at 3pm

http://www.ustream.tv/ (where Chris Wilson of Endoxi hosts his Wilson Wednesdays: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/wilson-s-room#utm_campaign=www.facebook.com&utm_source=8134646&utm_medium=social

http://www.justin.tv/ (where I was once caught singing back up on stage…thinking it was just to the friends I had in the small room…ha)
ALSO where San Diego music guru Lauren Scheff (ScheffXP) often streams. Monday nights with the incredibly entertaining Kevin Martin. (http://www.justin.tv/scheffxp)


~ Kristen


because I couldn’t resist:

Listen! Love! VOTE!: Empires

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I’ve been listening to Chicago’s Empires all afternoon. I thought that perhaps seeing them at SXSW would make me crave them less…but the exact opposite has occurred. I hope everyone in Chicago knows how lucky they are to have this band!  Their next local date is May 21st at The Beat Kitchen. Don’t miss it!

If you haven’t heard of Empires, just go to their webpage where you can get a link to a free download of their song “Damn Things Over”. While there, check out all their videos…like this one for their first single “Bang.”

Empires is one of the bands that made it to round 2 of Rolling Stone’s choose the cover competition. Go here to vote for Empires and download two additional tracks (for free!!), including my new favorite song “Hard Times.”

Gotta love it!


~ Kristen

Kristen’s Top 10 Sets of SXSW ’11

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I’m still working on my annual SXSW Mix. It’s shaping up to be mostly new artists that I’d never heard of before or that really came to my attention at SXSW this year. As excited as I am about all my new discoveries, it occurred to me that some of my very favorite experiences of the festival aren’t represented. As such, I was inspired to make a separate list of my top 10 sets of SXSW ’11.

1. Queen Caveat at Thirsty Nickel

It was their first set at SXSW and I was just SOOOO excited that they were there and that I was there and that everything was happening. The venue itself added the additional bonus of watching Lauren masterfully deal with an awkwardly placed banister AND allowed me to watch all the people walking past, stopping, and being drawn to the window by the music…LOVE watching new people fall in love with my favorite bands! It was a SXSW moment for sure.


2. The Silent Comedy at Peckerheads

I saw The Silent Comedy more than any other band at SXSW. Each set they did was slightly different but their final show at Antiquiet’s The Axis of Audio showcase was the most unique, featuring some new tunes as well as other songs not found in their typical setlist. It also helps that the set was dedicated to me (and Amanda and our TSC gang).

Check out the video our dear friend Trina (The Owl Magazine) took of TSC’s newer song “Wine”


3. Empires at The Trophy Room

Empires was one of the bands I was most looking forward to seeing play. They had grabbed my attention when they played in LA with Biffy Clyro and seeing them in Austin reminded me why I loved them so much. The way the band, especially singer Sean Van Vleet connects to the audience, drawing them in with an intense energy…it was one of those sets in which I became completely lost in the music.


4. Dead Sara at Lipstick 24

After a solid day of amazing music, it was incredibly difficult for a band to completely knock me off my feet (as many highly anticipated bands failed to do). Yet Dead Sara had me head banging and rocking out with their 1am set Weds night (or I suppose Thursday morning) at Lipstick 24 like no other. I think this was the hardest I rocked out all week…


5. The Kin at Antone’s

You know I love The Kin. Their performance at Antone’s was one of the most memorable of the week. I finally got to hear some of their new material, the audience was completely enraptured especially when they got off the stage to come sing a song on the floor, and Isaac managed to “re-create” his didgeridoo using some sort of pipe that could be found out in the street. When they played “Waterbreaks”, I was SO happy to be seeing them play again (it had been awhile…they’re based in NYC), it brought tears to my eyes.



6. Doll and The Kicks at Antone’s

I had NO CLUE that Doll & The Kicks was even going to be at SXSW, let alone be playing at the British Invasion showcase I was attending on Thursday. It was the best surprise of the week! Their new song “Skeleton” is fantastic and must be downloaded now…!


7. AWOLNATION at Rusty Spurs

I had never seen AWOLNATION before, but I’d been enjoying their tunes. I liked the band, but what really gets this set on my top 10 list was the intensity of the audience. I love being swept up in that kind of energy…it was insane without me ever feeling physically threatened. The perfect audience. When they played “Sail”, I was taken to another place…and I couldn’t even really see the stage!

here’s a taste:



8. Twin Atlantic at Antone’s

Most of the bands on this list are ones I’d seen (or at least known) before SXSW. It’s easier to really get into a set if you know the songs. But Twin Atlantic I had never really heard of before arriving in Austin. I had come across one of their tunes and that was enough to put them on my watch list. By the end of their set at Antone’s, they were my fave new discovery from SXSW.



9. Viva City at The Dart Music International House

Tuesday afternoon, before the music festivities officially began, we gathered to go see Viva City at The Dart Music International House. I saw this UK act several times over the course of my stay in Austin, and each time it was a crazy fun dance party, but this very first set marked the beginning of my SXSW experience and it will never be forgotten.



10. Brian Wright at St. David’s Sanctuary

That whole evening at St. David’s Sanctuary (one of the Hotel Cafe showcases) was quite magical (see story), but I think my favorite set of the bunch was Brian Wright’s. It’s hard to describe why the set moved me so much. I have seen Brian play plenty of times, but something about this place and time and my specific mood really elevated his performance and songs. It was truly a perfect SXSW moment.


Seriously, is it time for SXSW 2012 yet?


~ Kristen

SXSW Day 2: Another brief recap

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Once again we find ourselves with little time for a true post but we figure it’s best to keep you cool cats in the loop (even if it’s not an extensive one). Also, you can expect us to write a more detailed post at the end of all this madness…

Our day started off in search of Twin Atlantic who somehow did not end up playing the previous day when they were supposed to. But we got an even better surprise, Doll and the Kicks! Check out this rather cool set list….


* Also, finally being able to see Twin Atlantic was a huge highlight!

* Dancing along to Purple Melon was pretty awesome. I always forget how good they are because they don’t have any music out 🙁

* Going to the Beaver Party and seeing Jodi Foster talk about the movie and Anton Yelchin in the crowd coupled with good food made this a really memorable party. We were sad to leave but had to move on.

* Finally getting to see Mother Mother and Empires play!

* Also, Augustana, while not what was expected, was a lovely treat.

* Seeing The Silent Comedy play (yes, again).

* Also, getting to sample tons of music and see favs Queen Caveat play twice in one day was pretty cool.

* The new discovery of Tailor Made Fable was great especially since an event like this is all about finding new band loves.

* Our day ended with a bang when we saw Lenka, Fitz and the Tantrums, Neon Trees, Taylor Locke, and Fierce Creatures play. Whew, what a day 🙂