Sunday, August 4, 2013

"Stronger than the Storm"

Train, The Script, and Gavin DeGraw at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, NJ

When my mother told me she bought tickets to see Train, The Script, and Gavin DeGraw for night two of our week's long vacation, I was mildly excited. We spend a week in Ocean City, NJ almost every summer, and as much as I truly do love the Jersey Shore and OC in particular, walking the boardwalk six nights out of the year, every year, can get a bit old. A concert would be a change of pace, even if I didn't particularly love any of the musicians, and even if it did end up taking about two hours to get to Holmdel. 

I found out later that Bob Dylan, Wilco, and My Morning Jacket would be performing at the Susquehanna Bank Center on the same night, and I died a little bit inside, because I do particularly love all three of those acts. But, I tried to look at the bright side: I've seen Bob Dylan, Wilco, and Jim James, so the concert in Holmdel would be a new experience. Plus, I'd never gone to a concert with my mother and both of my sisters, so this would be an all-out family affair, and that's generally fun and/or interesting.

At the concert, however, there was literally no "bright side." It poured on and off during the entire show, and for us lawn goers, things got a bit messy. In the end though, I felt the rain and thunder and gigantic streaks of lightning added to the spectacle, and I now know both New Jersey and I are really "stronger than the storm."

As for the acts themselves, I was pleasantly surprised by all of them. Although Gavin DeGraw only played for about 40 minutes, his soulful sound warmed me up to the idea of standing in the cold rain. I wouldn't necessarily rush out to see him live again, but he pleased the crowd, and my middle school self definitely got a kick out of singing along to "I Don't Wanna Be." 

Actually, the concert on the whole concert appealed to my middle school self, who had a fleeting stage of obsession with The Script, because she read something about them in Seventeen Magazine. When The Script first came out on stage, they played this strange video that I still don't quite understand. Lead singer Danny O'Donoghue turned me off almost immediately when started repeating "here we go" over and over. Cheesy. As they got into their set, they started to work their magic on me, using their good looks and Irish accents to their advantage, but I'm not complaining. 

During "Nothing," one of their many break up songs, O'Donoghue asked an audience member for her phone and had her call an old boyfriend, to whom he sang the song, so I give them credit for being creative and fun. I don't have too much to complain about, aside from the fact that they pushed their Twitter and Facebook pages a little too hard. We get it, you want people to like you, but fans should motivate themselves to take that extra leap into online commitment. (Learn from your break up songs.) 

Train was the highlight, far and away. I went in a fair weather Train supporter and left an almost die hard fan. With each of their songs bringing something new to the mix, be it blues, reggae, or rock, Train proves their uniqueness and talent. Although it was a bit difficult for a PA girl to hear how much lead singer Patrick Monahan likes his NJ crowds, the level of audience interaction made you feel appreciated and a part of the experience, rather than just a bystander. At times, however, the audience interaction may have felt a little intrusive to the music, as Monahan snapped pictures with guests who joined him onstage for "Mermaid."

Still, Train raised the bar musically, and made up for any small flaws by covering songs by The Beatles, Macklemore, Bob Marley, and others, offering each rendition their alternative rock viba. In one short segment, the band played a recorded mash-up of a bunch of popular pop and electronic songs, welcoming every genre into their performance. 

Ashley Monroe, who joined Train in singing their new single, "Bruises," won audiences over with her comical love song "Weed instead of Roses" and brought in a stronger country vibe. 

The end solidified my new-found love of Train. After getting goosebumps during their encore performance of "Drops of Jupiter," Gavin DeGraw, The Script, and Ashley Monroe joined Train in singing "The Weight" by The Band, with their voices harmonizing to perfection. 

Lesson learned: always be open-minded. Go see shows or read books or watch movies or do something you don't particularly love, because you just mind find yourself to be a new fan. 

Follow me at @AW_Reporter. 

A sold out crowd! (Pictures were difficult to take from such a distance, as you can tell.)

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Rick & MC: business men, family men, rock stars

As part of my continuing series on local musicians, I spoke to acoustic eclectic rock band Rick & MC. With Rick Toure on guitar and lead vocals, and Mike Carlin on drums and backup vocals, Rick & MC prove themselves to be a powerful duo performing all around the Philadelphia area. 

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Heyyo, Check Out This Article

I've focused some energy lately on bringing local bands out into the The Reporter's spotlight. 

Yesterday's paper featured my first article in the series: an interview with up and coming hip-hop, pop duo, Heyyo, featuring Matt Fell and Dan Gevirtz. Heyyo burst onto the scene with their rendition of Ellie Goulding's "Anything Could Happen," which racked up over 17,000 views in its first few days on Youtube.

For the full story on the band that's been the talk of town lately, check out my article on

Enjoy, and remember you can follow me on Twitter at @AW_Reporter! 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Global Citizen

Last September, I had the privilege of attending the Global Citizen Festival in Central Park, featuring Neil Young, The Black Keys, the Foo Fighters, the Band of Horses, K'naan, and many other musical and celebrity appearances.

Before my friend won free tickets to the event, I had never heard of the Global Citizen Festival. I was curious as to how he managed to win tickets to such an amazing concert, but to be honest, I was at first too ecstatic about the prospect of seeing the rock legend Neil Young to investigate the festival further. What I came to learn, however, is that while the performances may have been great, there is meaning behind the festival far beyond the music. 

In between the musical guests, speakers would present information about the extreme poverty that continues to plague our world -- educating the audience on steps that we can taken to end it. I remember feeling a bit ashamed of the audience at times, because some viewers only gave half of their attention to the presentations, while they devoted it fully to the musicians. The Global Citizen Festival has the potential to raise awareness of social issues in the same way that Live 8 did back in 2005, but it must succeed in reminding the audience of the bigger purpose of the entertainment and inspire them to carry that message to others after the concert ends. 

I took a trip up to New York City on Sunday, and I passed a poster for the second annual Global Citizen Festival to take place on Saturday, September 28 in Central Park, with headliners Stevie Wonder, Kings of Leon, Alicia Keys, and John Mayer. This time around, I decided to do some more research ahead of time, and find out what being a Global Citizen means, and how it helps solve the world's most troubling problems. 

The Global Citizen organization, according to their website, is "a learning and action tool designed to help you become a more effective for change." Through their app and their website, Global Citizen strives to educate our society on extreme poverty and works to motivate individuals to spread understanding, make changes, think globally, and develop a lasting sense of commitment to helping better this ever-connected world in which we live. 

To win tickets to the Global Citizen Festival, members of can earn points by getting involved  in the cause through such activities as watching videos, signing positions, and contacting local representatives. 
Although the festival may have struggled a bit in getting its message across to the tens of thousands of attendees during its inaugural year, I truly hope to see Global Citizen grow and expand its influence in the future, as I believe its tactics, principals, and goals have the potential for real change.

Regardless of whether or not I make it to this year's festival, I can now call myself a proud Global Citizen, and I truly encourage everyone to check out their website and their cause.

Global Citizen Festival: Saturday, September 29, 2012 in Central Park

View of the crowd

Katie Couric opening the festival

K'naan performed an incredible version of "Wavin Flag," the Official Theme Song of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Ben Bridwell of Band of Horses

John Legend made a surprise appearance, singing a moving rendition of John Lennon's "Imagine"

Olivia Wilde took a stand against poverty

Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys

NYC skyline over the crowd

An image captured during one of the informational videos

The Foo Fighters performed on stage as a band for potentially the last time 

And needless to say, the Foo Fighters put on an amazing show

The man, the myth, the legend: Neil Young 

The festival closing with an epic collaboration involving all of the artists present

All photos by Alison Wallach

Friday, July 19, 2013


Rather than post a list of the upcoming concerts in the Philadelphia region, I thought I'd live up to my promise and share with you some of the free events happening in the area instead!

Saturday, July 20:
Free Screening of "Ghostbusters" at Parx Casino
Appreciate the complete, but abridged works of William Shakespeare -- As a literature buff, this event sounds right up my alley, and better yet, they'll be at Whites Road Park in Lansdale on the 25!
Jam out at Tavola Restaurant and Bar in Springfield -- Bands perform regularly here, so check it out!
Jersey Shore Jazz & Blues Fest -- Wishing I was down the shore this weekend to enjoy this.

Sunday, July 21:
The Large Flowerheads at Quakertown Memorial Park -- Never pass up a free concert if the opportunity presents itself!
Merion Concert Band at Souderton Community Park -- Part of the Concert Sundaes series. Music and ice cream: is there any better combination?

Monday, July 22:
Free Screening of "UHF" at the Trocadero Theater

Wednesday, July 24:
Christopher Dean Band at Chapman Park

Thursday, July 25:
Free Screening of the "Princess Bride" in Vernon Park -- One of my favorite movies!
Midnight in Paris at Schuylkill Banks -- Another amazing movie. This just sounds beautiful all around.
Hector Rosado Latin Band at Lanning Square Park

This is just a glimpse of some free events -- there are a lot more out there! I'm so excited about all of these possibilities. There's nothing better than saving money and having fun, AT THE SAME TIME! Check out more free events coming up:

Monday, July 15, 2013

Summer Block Partying

For the past several years of Radio 104.5's Summer Block Party Series, I've wanted to go to every show. And until this Saturday, I had yet to go to any.

I've always tried to take advantage of free concerts, and I'm ashamed to say that my attempts have largely failed. All too often, I've thrown in the towel on finding free concerts, and settled instead for lightening my wallet with the cost of overpriced tickets. It wasn't until I sat down and really thought about all the money I've spent on all those concerts over the years, that I realized how much money I've really spent on all those concerts over the years. Truly an astounding realization, right?

So here's my new vow: From here on out, I will do my best to find free and affordable concerts in our area and share them with you, so that together, we can succeed in satisfying our musical needs without breaking the bank. 

From May through September, Radio 104.5 hosts free concerts at the Piazza at Schmidt's in Northern Liberties on one Saturday afternoon out of each month. As fate would have it, something or someone would pop up and prevent me from going at the last minute. This past Saturday, I was determined to let nothing stand in my way from making to the show, which featured Bad Books, Capital Cities, and Cold War Kids. 

Of course, Saturday rolled around, and hurdles starting springing up on my straight and narrow path to the concert. 

I am a fan of planning. I apologize in advance for my lack of spontaneity, but I prefer to know what will go on and when and why and how and with whom. However, my planning for this concert was just not happening.

Long story short, a "plan" to be there at 3 pm for the 3:45 pm start of the show, became the reality of arriving at around 5 pm. We missed Bad Books' performance completely, but that wasn't going to stop me from enjoying the rest of the show. Not to mention, for one of my accompanying friends, this would be her first concert, so we had to make the most of it!

From what I saw of Capital Cities, they were incredible. They engaged a hot and crowded audience with enthusiasm, jumping all over the stage. I particularly loved their use of trumpet, which adds a uniqueness to their sound unheard of with most other indie pop bands. Singing along to their rendition of the Bee Gee's "Stayin' Alive" proved to be a highlight of the concert. 

After Capital Cities came the rain, which I welcomed as a cool break from the heat... Until it started coming down a bit harder and at unpredictable times. The rain staved off Cold War Kids' set, as they had to play on a completely uncovered stage. Although the crowd became uneasy at times, we all remained entertained by the onlookers who threw water balloons from the balconies of the apartment buildings that surround the open-air plaza. 

At around 7 pm, the scheduled ending time for the Block Party, the Cold War Kids finally came out on stage, bringing musical relief to the relatively patient crowd. Even though the crowd surfers became an annoyance and a distraction, I must admit that as soon as the band came out, visions of my body crowd surfing my way closer to the front danced like sugar plums in my head. 

Unfortunately, a friend of mine began to feel faint, leading to our immediate departure towards the back of the crowd only one song into Cold War Kids' set. (Radio 104.5, if you're reading this, have more food and drink vendors available so we can keep people hydrated and full!) 
But it all ended up okay, because she's okay, and because we got to hear Cold War Kids' hit "Miracle Mile" from a comfortable spot on the pavement. Plus, we beat the rush to some delicious pizza down the street at Rustica. (For thin, crispy crust lovers, I highly recommend this place:

Driving home that night, we made about five wrong turns, of course -- it was only fitting. I couldn't have planned for anything that happened that day, which made me realize how futile my little play books become. Sometimes life gets in the way of your plans, and sometimes that makes for the best adventures. 

Here's some more information about the Radio 104.5 Summer Block Party series. I hope to see you there next time!
Here's a few upcoming free concerts and events in Philadelphia, as promised:

An excited crowd for Capital Cities 

A massive crowd at The Piazza at Schmidt's

The enemy stood on their fortress, pummeling us with water balloons  

Cold War Kids arrive with the return of the sun

I just love this city.

All photos by Alison Wallach

Friday, July 12, 2013

Regional Concerts for the Weekend of July 12

Here's a collection of some of the top concerts at the best regional venues for the weekend of Friday, July 12 - Sunday, July 14:

Tonight, Friday, July 12:

  • Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark with Diamond Rings at Union Transfer
  • Los Lonely Boys at The Music Box, Borgata Hotel & Casino
  • JD McPherson with John the Conqueror at the World Cafe Live (Downstairs)
  • Jadakiss with Gillie Da Kid at the Theater of the Living Arts
  • Vans Warped Tour 2013 at the Susquehanna Bank Center -- I've only heard great things of Warped Tour, more information about the tour:
Saturday, July 13 (An great day for concert-goers in Philadelphia):
  • Radio 104.5 Summer Block Party: FREE concert with Cold War Kids, Bad Books, and Capital Cities at the Piazza at Schmidt's -- I'll be there, and I'm PUMPED! Click this link for more information:
  • Kansas at the Tropicana Casino
  • Wire with Bear in Heaven at Union Transfer
  • The Specials with Little Hurricane at the Theater of the Living Arts
  • Furthur Festival 2013: Phil Lesh with Bob Weir and Furthur at the Mann Center for the Performing Arts -- Wear your finest tie dye for this one
  • Mac Miller with Meek Mill, Chance the Rapper, Vince Staples, and the Internet at the Festival Pier at Penn's Landing -- This will probably be a lot of fun
  • Dash Berlin with Haven Nightclub at Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino
  • Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival at the Susquehanna Bank Center, Rob Thomas Headlines -- more information:
  • Wire with Bear in Heaven at Union Transfer
Sunday, July 14: 
  • A Flock of Seagulls at the Trocadero Theater 
  • Savages with Johnny Hostile at Union Transfer

All information on the above concerts is from Visit their website for a more detailed listing of regional concerts. 

Happy concerting; thanks for reading!

Follow me at @AW_Reporter.