Concert Review

Chai and Hippo Campus at the Ritz

By: Leksie Fetrow

Hippos on campus? The probability is low, but never zero. Though it may not have been directly here on NC State’s campus, Hippo Campus and CHAI performed nearby at The Ritz, a venue I have become increasingly familiar with during my time here in Raleigh, on Friday, Oct. 21.

I was fortunate enough to receive a photo pass to this show, and ended up with photos (both digital and film) that I am very excited to share from both artists’ sets, and want to give a huge thanks to the awesome staff at The Ritz for this.

Hippo Campus is an indie rock band from St. Paul, Minnesota, comprised of lead vocalist and guitarist Jake Luppen, bassist Zach Sutton, lead guitarist Nathan Stocker, drummer Whistler Allen, and trumpeter DeCarlo Jackson.

CHAI, composed of members Yuuki, Yuna, and twin sisters Mana and Kana, opened the show up with nothing short of an incredible performance, coming on stage in crochet cat balaclavas for their song “No More Cake”. The members of the group alternated between choreography, live mixing, and playing various instruments throughout the show, bringing an astounding amount of energy to the venue.

The Japanese electro-pop group’s stage presence was so entrancing I very nearly forgot I was there for photographs for a moment. Their set was primarily made up of songs off of their latest album, “WINK”, including “ACTION”, which is one of my favorite songs by the group! I thoroughly enjoyed the entirety of their set, and believe if you get a chance you should check them out. CHAI has a very unique style of music, and I felt that their opening of the show set up a nice contrast for Hippo Campus to follow up to.

I will admit prior to continuing about headliners Hippo Campus that I have not personally listened to their new album, so I was unsure of what to expect from their portion of the show. Another photographer there had also told me that in previous years, their sets were near impossible to shoot due to the low lighting, so I was also admittedly a little worried at first from a photography standpoint.

However, I was very pleasantly surprised by their high contrast lighting and the well executed set design. Considering that I also have not listened to them since high school, I found their newer songs much more mature in the afterglow of their prior soft boy-centric indie era. Despite this, they gave a wonderfully pleasant performance and a part of my 15 year-old self was certainly satisfied with seeing them live. 

Their live vocals were impressive, sounding virtually the same as their recordings (Jake Luppen has indeed been eating CDs for breakfast!!), and the incorporation of brass instruments was a touch that I always love to see in live shows. As this show was rescheduled from a previous date as a part of their tour promoting their newest album, “LP3”, their setlist was primarily made up of these new releases, such as “2 Young 2 Die” and “Semipro.”

Though I spent a vast majority of the show running around The Ritz like a chicken with my head cut off to find angles and swap out rolls of film, I had an absolutely awesome time at this show, and it was definitely fun to take a step back and observe the flow of the crowd and the band from an exterior perspective as a photographer.

Photo taken by Leksie Fetrow.

And once again, I just want to give a major shout out to the wonderful staff of The Ritz for providing this opportunity to shoot some sick pics for WKNC (we love y’all, sorry for nearly missing my cue to leave the front of barricade I got a little too invested in the flix).

Blog Concert Review

Origami Angel, Pool Kids & Insignificant Other Concert Review

Tuesday, Nov.15 these Origami Angel, Pool Kids and Insignificant Other performed at The Blind Tiger in Greensboro, NC.

To briefly summarize: these three performances had drastically different personalities that evoked drastically different audience responses. It had some very high and very low moments.

I’ll be taking a dive into my experience at this show, focusing on the first impressions of each band, their overall stage presence and the quality of their music.

If you are interested in learning more about each band and their discography, WKNC also posted a concert preview blog. You can find the concert preview on our blog.

Insignificant Other

Insignificant Other performance, taken by author

Insignificant Other was a sufficient start to this concert but had some awkward moments that took away from their performance.

Unfortunately, this band felt a little disconnected live. Although this does not directly impact the sound of their music, each of the band member had very different energy during their performance.

To give some context, their van broke down a few days prior to this performance, which threatened their continuation of the tour and required many costly repairs and setbacks. The band was obviously in a poor mood.

However, this issue was brought up in their performance multiple times. One of the members going as far as saying, “please show us some love at the merch table, I don’t want to beg, but we are broke.”

It is extremely unfortunate that they had such a big issue mid-tour, but they allowed this issue to impact their performance greatly. It would have been more beneficial for them to bring it up once, then put on a killer performance despite the circumstances.

Personally, it’s not your comments that will move me to buy your merch– it’s the music.

The van was brought up so many times that I hardly remember what their performance was like– their complaints were at the forefront of my mind.

I want to acknowledge how difficult it must be to be an opener. The audience is not warmed up yet and the energy is low.

However, the best opening performances I have seen have been the bands that are unapologetically high energy and excited to share their music (bands like Similar Kind and Nordista Freeze).

Insignificant Other took a different route, begging for the audience to dance and overall coming off as insecure. I was hoping to see more confidence from them.

I hope in the rest of their tour they are able to cast aside their worries and put on a great show. They certainly have the skill and the discography to do so.

Pool Kids

Pool Kid’s Performance, taken by author

Pool Kids were my favorite performance of the night. They did a phenomenal job, and their performance brought a newfound admiration to their music.

I could clearly see how much this band loved working together. They glowed on the stage and had a contagious confidence to them. There were so many moments when the members would share the biggest smile with each other.

The friendship and talent on the stage was a joy to watch.

Beyond their great chemistry, they make some outstanding music. I was unfamiliar with some of their newest songs, but despite not listening to them prior, they won me over on first listen.

They provided some great moments for moshing and dancing, but also had some great moments of stillness. Overall, just a tremendously talented and well-rounded performance.

Origami Angel

Origami Angel performance, taken by author

I had some pretty high expectations from headliner, Origami Angel; and their performance was nothing short of outstanding. This emo-rock performance has so much skill packed within the two members.

This tour has been their first headlining tour, yet they had such a mature and refined sound. Their performance alluded to a band that had been on many, many headlining tours.

The Audience

Why where they not my favorite performance of the night? The audience.

Unfortunately, their fan base in this concert dampened my experience greatly. It could be due to the fact that they are a relatively new band, emerging in 2017 or it could be their angsty lyrics or pop culture references– their audience was extremely immature.

I have mentioned this in previous blog posts, but the audience is always the worst part of any performance. This audience was by far the worst I have ever experienced.

The moshing and crowd surfing was completely unhinged. Multiple people near me had gotten injured and unwilling individuals would get sucked into the chaos.

Certain individuals abused the chaos. There were two people in particular that jumped on stage and crowd surfed 8-10 times each. These individuals greatly took away from the performance by jumping on stage so frequently.

All to say, there were some poor audience members, and their behavior directly impacted the performers.

It was clear lead singer and guitarist, Ryland Heagy, got increasingly upset throughout the performance due to the shear amount of heckling and chaos on the stage. Not just in the crowd– on the stage.

It was really unfortunate to have such outstanding musicians get upstaged by such inconsiderate audience members.

I cannot stress it enough– Ryland Heagy and drummer Pat Doherty are outstanding live. I am looking forward to the opportunity to see Origami Angel again, hopefully with a more considerate audience.

Concert Review

Second Annual Psychic Hotline Block Party brought local & national artists together at Cat’s Cradle 

On Saturday, October 15, I saw Lambchop, an alternative country band on Merge Records, at the Psychic Hotline Block Party at the Cat’s Cradle and it was one of my favorite live performances I have seen in the last year. The lineup was stacked with local legends like Truth Club, Indigo De Souza who played a DJ set, Loamlands, and many national artists like Hand Habits, Bartees Strange, AROOJ AFTAB, and more.

This was the second Psychic Hotline Block Party, named after and organized by the record label created and operated by Durham’s very own Amelia Meath and Nick Sanborn of Sylvan Esso. It was an all-day event at the Cat’s cradle with performances inside the main room, backroom, and outside on the lawn and there was a pop-up shop inside the Arts Center. 

Lambchop closed out the Block Party in the backroom of the Cat’s Cradle. The last time I saw Lambchop, and the first time, was at Merge 30, a festival at the Cat’s Cradle celebrating the legendary North Carolina record label, Merge Record’s 30th Birthday. There the band performed as what seemed like a 20-piece to me, but there may have been seven or eight people on stage (this was in 2019 so my memory of it isn’t super clear). 

The band has a very unique sound that is unlike any other. They are able to combine opposite music styles of chamber pop, alt-country, Americana, and slowcore to create surreal sounds that filled the room. Lambchop is made up of rotating members, centered around frontman Kurt Wagner.

Their performance at Psychic Hotline was special as Wagner and Andrew Broder performed as a duo. Lambchop has never had a “core” lineup in the band, it consists of a large and ever-evolving collective of musicians including Matthew McCaughn, William Tyler, and James McNew. 

Wagner stood center stage surrounded by darkness, with Broder on the piano to his left. The duo performed many songs from their latest album, “The Bible,” which was released on September 30, 2022, on Merge Records. Before this performance, I had not listened to the album yet, but the minute the performance started I was immediately entranced by Wagner. 

The duo opened their set with “His Song is Sung,” the opening track on the new record.​​ The song was heartbreaking as Wagner sang about a visit he had with his father before he passed. I can still hear his voice echoing “no one’s edgier than I” at the end of the song.

Each song flowed effortlessly into one another, Wagner barely taking a break to catch his breath or speak to the audience. The whole audience did not take their eyes off Wagner, the room was silent, there were only a few phones out here and there taking videos, and nobody left their place in front of the stage. 

Towards the middle of the set, with my eyes locked on Wagner, shakily signing the lyrics to “Daisy,” I felt tears running down my face. Maybe it was because I only got two hours of sleep the night before, or maybe it was because I had never seen somebody be so vulnerable on stage as I saw Wagner being, but it was probably a mixture of both.  

One of the most spectacular aspects of the set was the way Wagner made his voice fill up every empty void in the venue. Not one line he sang fell flat, each word was filled with such intense emotion as it moved through the room.

Usually, when I see shows I feel like all of the energy is on the stage being shared between the members, but here I felt like the piano was swirling around me and Wagner was reaching his hand out to me and signing the words directly to me. The music felt like it moved throughout the room like a gust of wind or a distant memory passing through your mind. 

The set also consisted of new songs “A Major Minor Drag” and “That’s Music” and older tunes like “The New Cobweb Summer” from the album “Is a Woman” and “Give It,” a song that isn’t on any of their albums but has a famed indie classic, live video from their performance of it at Merge Records 20th anniversary festival. They closed their set with a fun cover of a song titled “Listening (to Lambchop by myself again)” by Sun June. 

I hope Psychic Hotline continues to put on annual Block Parties celebrating local musicians, artists on their label, and artists they look up to.

I feel very fortunate that North Carolina has such a rich music scene that artists, like Sylvan Esso, can get involved in and start a record label and host shows showcasing unique musicians and artists. 

Concert Review

The Garden at Union Transfer Concert Review

Who remembers the 2016 killer clowns craze that happened? This is not that. This is something even better. On October 8, with the help from our friends at Pirate Radio (shoutout to Doug) I was lucky enough to get to see The Garden in Philadelphia at Union Transfer. 

The Garden is a band composed of twin brothers Wyatt and Fletcher Shears of Orange County, California, and their music has been broadly categorized under the “punk” title, but they would personally describe it as “Vada Vada.” I would describe their music as punk-inspired, experimental, and noisy.

Daytime Music Director Maddy Moore with a friend, Janey Harlow (she/her) on the SEPTA on their way to The Garden concert at Union Transfer.

They are known for their staple jester makeup (hence the reason we look like that), and it is common for fans to show up to their shows in their Jester inspired makeup- white face, and either red or black features like diamonds around their eyes or exaggerated smiles. I think it is such a cool way as a fan and listener to connect with the artist even more. Me and the friends I went with all decided to do our variations of the jester makeup and ultimately we ended up looking terrifying on the SEPTA, Philadelphia’s transit system. 

Friend of Maddy Moore, Andrew Tracy (they/them) in face paint for The Garden.

Once we got to Union Transfer we somehow squeezed our way to the front to see the openers Kumo 99 and Flipper, respectively. These two openers were vastly different but very enjoyable. Kumo 99’s music leans closer to dance/house/electronic music, while Flipper is more similar to the Garden with heavy rock influences but more 80’s rock inspired. 

The lead singer of Flipper, Ted Falconi, although on the older side, is probably the most energetic performer I have seen live. Flipper served as a good “primer” for what was to come with The Garden. I normally know the openers to shows I go to, but I had no prior knowledge of Flipper. I’m glad I went into it “blind” almost because there was no amount of exposure that could’ve prepared me for their performance. 

Their performance energized the entire audience. Ted knows his audience and knows how to engage and energize them, and that’s exactly what he did; everybody in the crowd, whether they knew the music or not, was jamming along, and to me that seems like a really successful thing to accomplish. 

The openers were amazing, and we were pumped to see the Shears twins come out. They opened with “Haunted House on Zillow” which, for a lack of better words, is a silly song to start a concert with. 

For those who haven’t heard the song before, there is a creepy laugh that plays in the background and that, in conjunction with the excitement, the moshing started immediately.

 For the most part, they performed songs off of their new album “Horsesh-t on Route 66” but they also did some songs from their earlier projects like “Kiss My Superbowl Ring”, “Mirror Might Steal Your Charm”, and “haha.” It was a good selection of songs from their discography and just a bunch of songs to go absolutely bonkers to. Some of my favorites they performed were “EGG,” “AMPM Truck,” “Call this # now,” and one of their most notable songs, “Thy Mission.” 

Overall, I had an amazing time and I would like to thank Doug from Pirate Radio for helping me get a ticket to this show! This was easily one of my most memorable and enjoyable concert experiences. Union Transfer was an amazing venue and they made sure to hand out bottles of water to anyone who needed it, which was much appreciated after an intense hour of moshing. Unfortunately, I was having too much fun and I sweated all of my Jester makeup off, so there are no after pictures, but that goes to show how awesome the concert was.

By: Maddy Moore

Concert Review Festival Coverage

Hopscotch ’22 and Cosmic Jazz

Only a few other performances at Hopscotch ‘22 blew me away like the Perfume Genius set, and they were Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 and Makaya McCraven’s cosmic, explosive jazz performances. 

Seun Kuti & Egypt 80

The Friday night of Seun Kuti & Egypt 80’s set had the perfect taste and feeling of a crispy cool Fall beginning, looking back, it was probably due to the rain coming the next day. Their show was an hour before Perfume Genius went on, so I had plenty of time to enjoy my fill of Seun Kuti. 

As I sat with a cheap, soggy, broccoli pizza in my lap at Moore Square, Kuti & Egypt 80 started their show. The first trumpet blast could have knocked me backwards. It shot out of Kuti’s lips, bewitching the crowd into movement. Soon everyone and the stage were swaying in the night breeze as Seun Kuti played “Theory of Goat and Yam”.

I feel as if I lost the next 30 minutes of my life through a magical time warp this band created with their music. Stars were twinkling to drum beats, and even the moon was smiling down on all of us as we experienced some of the most special music I’ve heard in my life. It eventually inspired me to write a short poem before I got up to join the swaying masses in front of the stage:

The band on stage

waved to the moon.

As it smiles downward,

reflecting warmth of the sun

they made


poem by the author.

Then, as their set continued Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 kept layering magnificent tracks and solos on top of each other. They played “African Soldier” and “You Can Run”, which were lovely to experience, especially with Kuti’s vibrant blank and red attire. He jumped and we jumped. He swayed and we swayed. Kuti and the band moved the crowd effortlessly, which created a sense of endless joy.

After Seun Kuti & Egypt 80’s performance I was certain I would never see anything comparable to that experience again, but I was very wrong. 

Makaya McCraven

On Saturday, it rained all day. I went through two shirts, shorts and shoes, but the weather didn’t go nearly far enough to stop me from attending most events that day. Makaya McCraven’s set was set up the same way Seun Kuti’s was, it was an hour before headliner, Kim Gordon. 

With a rain soaked field I did not plop in the grass for this performance. I stood and grooved along with a surprisingly large crowd for the weather. From the stage to the sound booth it was lined with jazz and “cultural synthesizer” (as Makaya McCraven calls his music) fans. 

Instead of an opening trumpet blast, I was rocked into a rhythmic wonderland by drum beats. McCraven is a “drummer, producer & beat scientist” as stated by his website, so it only makes sense that he opens with undulating beat patterns and crisp drums. 

I went into McCraven’s performance without knowing a thing and it still had a profound effect on me. With a medley of instruments and McCraven’s drums on fire constantly it was hard for me to split mid set and watch Kim Gordon’s set.

By some miracle or the beautiful beat gods smiling down on me, I caught the last two songs of McCraven’s set after Kim Gordon had finished. They had played for about an hour and a half straight all while having a large crowd and Kim Gordon’s show going concurrently. 

The energy the entire band put into this performance was heartwarming. They shot forth fumbling chaotic noise and made another impression of live music I won’t forget. 

Off on Your Voyage

Both Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 and Makaya McCraven’s shows made Hopscotch extremely memorable for me. I want to experience live music like theirs everytime I see a show now, but I know it won’t happen.

Being able to freely give love through that sound must mean these two groups have reached a cosmic understanding with the universe I can only hope to achieve.

Band/Artist Profile Concert Review

Black Country, New Road at Hopscotch

I was sent by WKNC to cover the Hopscotch music festival. One of the main reasons I was excited to go was to see Black Country, New Road. But before we talk about the concert lets get into some background.

Black Country, New Road is a band from England and has gained a lot of popularity in the past couple of years. They dropped their debut album “For the First Time” in 2021 with critical acclaim and showed people they should be a band to look out for. Then in February of this year they dropped their second album “Ants From Up There” which created a large buzz due to the large amount of critical acclaim the album had.

But just as they had reached the highest point they had been at and it seemed they were at the top of the experimental rock world the band announced that their lead singer Isaac Wood was leaving the group due to mental health reasons. The band however decided to continue without their lead singer and instead have other members substitute for vocals.

Now this leads us to now, the band has decided to go on tour and for the tour they have decided to create all new music without their lead singer as the vocalist. So none of the songs are on the albums and no one has heard them yet. This is the main reason I wanted to go was to hear this new music. And let me tell you it was incredible.

It’s hard to describe the songs especially since I can’t hear them again and that you have probably never heard them but I’ll try my best. The songs feel the same as their first two albums and they still have that distinct sound. They’re still using the large array of instruments like saxophone, violin, piano, accordion, flute and more. They also had three different people on main vocals for different songs which was their saxophonist Lewis Evans, bassist Tyler Hyde, and keyboardist May Kershaw.

Some specific moments I enjoyed was the third song in the set had this super catchy saxophone riff that I could listen to all day. The song right after had the group using harmonies and all singing some parts at once which sounded incredible. One of the songs sounded like a whimsical stroll through a field which one of my friends described as Keebler elf music. This was very accurate due to the lead singer saying when the next chapters were coming in which gave it a fairy tale feel. They also had a song where the keyboardist was singing main vocals, playing keyboard and playing accordion all at the same time which makes absolutely no sense but it worked.

Hearing the music live made me so excited for their next project and I cant wait to see where the band heads next. I feel they are just getting started and I hope they continue their streak of great music.

Concert Review

Dehd Concert Review

Dehd is a Chicago based band that features three members, a bassist who sings the majority of the songs, a guitarist who duets the bassist in certain times, and a percussionist who uses a floor tom drum, snare drum, and a MIDI controller.

There was a bit of delay between the end of Nation of Language’s set and their’s, most likely due to the amount of rain that was being poured upon everyone. After which the members came out for their sound check which was lengthy but was worth it. It was clear that when they started playing that every bit of adjustment was necessary.

The timbre of the vocalist as well as the sound that the guitarist was able to achieve gave the feeling of the 2018 and 2019 indie scene. The band was able to move to the music without struggling at all to play the music. The guitarist had a way of hopping around and moving that went well with the upbeat that most of the songs had.

It was great to see a band that is able to move to the music so fluently that the songs they are playing can be seen as an expression from all of them. 

The bassist took time between a few songs to say what was on her mind in an effort to get the crowd laughing and distracted from the fact that we were all soaked in rain. In terms of who engaged with the crowd it was pretty much all done by the bassist.

I think even though the morale of the crowd wasn’t very high given the weather conditions she did a great job relating to everyone and the rest of the band helped with keeping the show enjoyable and entertaining.

– Dilan Mattison

Concert Review

Nation of Language: Concert Review

Synth Pop can be a fine art that is easy to come by but not always easy to pull off. The wide range of possibilities that can come from the genre makes it hard to put together something that a large portion of people will like. You can either end up sounding like another new wave band or something that would be played in a Target commercial.

Nation of Language does a great job of putting together a mix of sounds that traditional and new synth pop fans can agree is enjoyable. They combined sounds from the classic days of new wave with feel good lyrics and beats with only three members that someone without an 80s background can enjoy.

Even in the live setting, Nation of Language did a great job of giving the same feeling you would receive if you were listening to their music with airpods. The only real noticeable difference between the live performance and their music recordings was the crowd noise and the rain pouring down throughout the performance.

Even the lead singer, Ian Richard Devaney, was able to replicate his impressive vocals that I figured would require some studio effects. His movements also complemented the music and helped achieve the hopeful synth pop feeling that people love. 

Nation of Language went through their set for the necessary amount of time and engaged with the crowd when they needed to. They were able to keep the rain soaked crowd moving. They even stuck through the rain to watch the headliner of the night, Kim Gordon, perform.

I think that it is clear that Nation of Language has a clear understanding of what has been done in the genre they are entering and what should be done in the future. Their 2020 and 2021 albums, “Introduction, Please” and “A Way Forward” contain a bit of good tracks and they even have a cover of The Replacements’, “Androgynous” that has recently been released.

– Dilan Mattison

Concert Review

Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Strokes and Thundercat Concert Review

I was lucky enough to see this legendary lineup at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, NC on Sep.1.

If you missed it, there was a preview of this show posted just a few days ago. If you want to read up on some of the general information for each of these performers, you can find the preview on the WKNC Blog.


I want to provide a quick disclaimer before I begin: This is was my very first stadium concert. It was very large. I had a seat up in the middle section. By no means the best seat and by no means the worst seat.

My view of the stage, photo by Author.

My second disclaimer is quite a disappointing one: unfortunately due to traffic conditions and my class schedule, I missed Thundercat’s performance. So this review will just be evaluating The Strokes and Red Hot Chili Peppers performances. I know, I am sad I missed Thundercat too.

Let’s get into the general experience. Even though I was pretty far back, I had a great view of the stage. I commend the set designers for this show. As I will go more into later, the light design was phenomenal.

When paying for a stadium concert ticket you are paying for much more then just the sounds– you’re paying for the insane visual show too.

It goes without saying that this concert was stacked with talent. More than talent: skill, synergy, and pure passion for music. These guys are all legends. Without further ado, let get into the show.

The Strokes

First and foremost, I loved the energy Julien Casablancas, lead vocals, brought to this performance. I find it fascinating how different artists react to fame. It was clear to me that after a lifetime of performing in The Strokes Julien Casablancas treats his role very casually.

The Strokes had a extremely powerful performance despite their lowkey demeanor. They also had a such solid setlist.

One of my favorite moments was their performance of “Juicebox” off their 2006 album “First Impressions Of Earth”. The sheer endurance of The Strokes astonished me. Their tracks, especially this one, sounded much more grungy live than I was anticipating.

I loved the visuals they brought to the performance as well. Their backdrops displayed different dream-scape visuals. There was lots of muted colors that contrasted beautifully with their rough and energized sound.

My absolute favorite moment was undoubtedly their closing track, “Reptilia” off their 2003 album “Room On Fire”. This is one of their most popular songs for good reason. It is, in my humble opinion, one of the best songs of all time and their performance of this track made me love it even more.

The Strokes has been such a massive influence on the indie rock world. Their music inspired the creation of hundreds, if not thousands, of amazing artists and bands. Their music has been such a source of happiness in my life; being able to finally see them live was extraordinary.

Next up on my bucket list is to see Julien Casablancas perform in The Voidz.

Red Hot Chili Peppers

This performance was nothing short of remarkable. Their are few things more powerful than a group of musicians that have spent their lives performing together. The resonance Red Hot Chili Pepper have obtained is unbelievable.

I was honored to be in the presence of such a great setlist. One aspect that contributed to their musical insanity was the sheer amount of improvised riffs in between and within every track.

One of my favorite tracks they performed were “Here Ever After” off of their newest album “Unlimited Love”. I was surprised by how few songs off this album they performed; but I was so happy the selected this one.

Another favorite was their opener “Can’t Stop” off their 2002 album “By the Way”. Red Hot Chili Peppers is composed by some of the greatest musicians of our time. Chad Smith ripped it up on the drums the whole performance, there was only a handful of moments he stopped drumming. The endurance of everyone was insane.

I simply cannot write a review of Red Hot Chili Peppers without mentioning the legendary Flea. His performance did not disappoint. There were multiple instances that he stole the show, most notably in tracks “Give It Away” and “Nobody Weird Like Me”. Also, Flea had a one sticker on his bass that said, “support your local freak” I thought I should share that detail.

I would also like to note how excellent their light design was. Their backdrops were amazing. They had such great color design to competent each of their tracks. Many of the visuals melded into the videos of them performing; whoever was manning the cameras for the show did an excellent job.

Red Hot Chili Pepper light design, photo by Author.

This is all to say the performance was excellent.

Concluding Thoughts

One of my teachers once told me, “the worst part of any performance is the audience”. This was very true for this show.

As an audience member, it is important to recognize that our behavior directly impacts others around us. If you are having a bad time at a show and are not enjoying or paying attention to the extraordinary music– it is very easy to leave. Be courteous of others.

Despite the distractions within the audience, this concert was astonishing.

The performers exceeded every expectation I had. I was very fortunate to see Red Hot Chili Peppers– it is unclear how much longer they will be touring for. I dearly hope they never stop.

They seem to have no end in sight in regards to releases. Red Hot Chili Peppers will be releasing a new album, “Return of the Dream Canteen” this year on Oct 14.

“Return of the Dream Canteen” album cover art by Red Hot Chili Peppers

I’ll certainly be looking forward to this release.

I sincerely hope to see these two bands perform again one day. I hope you all get the chance to see them too, they will not disappoint.

Blog Concert Review

Built to Spill @ Cat’s Cradle 5/8/22

If you, like me, are an indie rock fan, then seeing Built to Spill should be on your list of bands to see live. I went with a group of friends to Cat’s Cradle (one of the best venues to see anyone play) on May 8, and I saw a couple of electric performances by individuals and bands. 

Built to Spill frequents Cat’s Cradle, as they usually make sure to have a stop every tour. This year they brought along two openers, Itchy Kitty and Prism Bitch. Itchy Kitty are from Spokane, Washington and they play wonderfully loud, jarring sounds in the vein of punk and “whiplash inducing riffage” as stated by their Bandcamp bio. Prism Bitch are from Albuquerque, New Mexico. Their genre focus is in the pop indie rock niche, which unfortunately adds to my slight distaste for their performance. 

Itchy Kitty

Itchy Kitty performing live at Cat's Cradle
Itchy Kitty onstage at Cat’s Cradle – Photo by Ben Price

After milling about in the crowd waiting for the show to start, Itchy Kitty hopped on the stage. The members, Ami Elston (guitar and vocals), Naomi Eisenbrey (bass and vocals), Mike “Sug” Tschirgi (drums), and a fill-in guitarist, immediately started off trying to get the crowd moving.

Elston and Esenbrey’s vocals screamed through the Cradle and jolted most people awake. I don’t think many people were expecting a raging punk band like Itchy Kitty to open for the soft, mild-mannered Built to Spill. 

At one point during their set, my group of friends got a shout out from Elston and Eisenbrey for being the only people trying to mosh and get moving to the music. I loved their stage presence. Especially Naomi Eisenbrey’s jerky movements when they covered “Psycho Killer” by Talking Heads (which was fantastic and horrifying at the same time). 

Itchy Kitty killed their set. I didn’t recognize all of their songs, but “Year of the Slut” and “Diffuse the Rat” were good ones to throw some elbows to. I am hoping this tour with Built to Spill will make their fanbase a bit more vast so we can see them headlining soon. 

Prism Bitch

Moving onto the second opener, Prism Bitch did a fine job. They were more of who I expected to open for Built to Spill. Their pop centered indie rock did not blow me away like Itchy Kitty’s in-your-face screams and riffs. The members are Lauren Poole (bass and vocals), Lilah Rose (keyboard, guitar and vocals), Chris Walsh (guitar), and Teresa Esquerra (drums and vocals). 

I thought Poole and Esquerra made the most impact on the band’s presence on stage. Both were fun to watch as they poured in all their energy into their instruments. Poole’s vocals were a great addition to Rose’s dreamy, classic, pop-rock style of singing. Prism Bitch did not get me moving like Itchy Kitty, but I have hope they’ll be able to fine tune their style to find a sound more intriguing. 

Built to Spill

When Doug Martsch finally came to stage it was already 10:30 p.m. Both openers had exhausted me and friends, but nothing could stop me from enjoying seeing one of my favorite bands knock out some of the best guitar work in the world. 

Doug Martsch was joined on stage by Prism Bitch’s drummer, Teresa Esquerra, and bassist Melanie Radford. Both Esquerra and Radford were amazing fill-ins. Radford’s bass playing was fun to watch. She looked like she was having as much fun as the crowd the way she swayed with Martsch’s rhythms. 

Doug Martsch onstage at Cat's Cradle
From left to right: Melanie Radford (bass), Doug Martsch (guitar and vocals), and Teresa Esquerra (drums) – Photo by Ben Price

Built to Spill’s set ranged from classics to covers to long winded instrumentals. They started off with “The Plan” to get the crowd “moving” (everyone was doing the obligatory calm head bops to the beat). There were a few technical issues after the first couple songs, but after that quick pause Martsch played the opening instrumental to Rush’s “Tom Sawyer”, which led into “Gonna Lose”. 

A cover of a Cate Le Bon song, “Are You with Me Now?”, marked the middle of the set. The plucky instrumentals and Martsch’s soft voice created a memorable sound. I really loved this cover (unfortunately I had never heard of Cate Le Bon before this concert). At this point the crowd began to sway their hips and move their feet more.

That cover was followed by “Goin’ Against Your Mind”. The never ending guitar riffs, bass solo by Melanie Radford, and always incredible drum work by Esquerra created the perfect atmosphere for the song. I think while they were playing “Goin’ Against Your Mind,” I saw Martsch smile for the first time and only time during their set. 

“Carry the Zero” being one of the last songs they played was a treat too. That classic hit will never get old for me, and now I can say I have seen it live. I honestly believe that finally seeing Doug Martsch and Built to Spill perform live was a life goal achieved. While the merch table was mediocre (besides the bangin’ Itchy Kitty t-shirts), seeing Built to Spill live is an important experience for people to understand why they are so well loved. 

Keep eatin’

– DJ chef