Wednesday, 27 May 2015

How (Not) to Make Friends at a Concert

Concerts are a great way to meet and interact with new people; everyone in the venue is united by a common, shared love of music. However, finding ways to break the ice with fellow concert-goers can be difficult, so here are some tips on how (not) to make friends at a concert.

1. Bring a Selfie Stick
Nothing says “I’m a great person to be friends with!” quite like a robotic extended limb with a phone attached to the other end. Bringing a selfie stick to a concert shows that you are social, fun, and most of all, smart; how else could you possibly take a photo of yourself? So, have no shame when you take out your robot limb and start snapping some photos! The people around you won’t mind, even if you accidentally hit them in the back of the head with it or block their view of the stage with it. Chances are, once they see how cool your selfie stick is, they’ll want to take a selfie with you.

2. Crowdsurf With a Beer in Your Hand
Crowdsurfing is only cool if you do it with a drink in your hand, so one way to impress people and make friends at a concert is to crowdsurf while holding a beer. The people around you will really appreciate being showered by an ice-cold Heineken as you are hoisted up into the air with your limbs flailing wildly. But, you can’t be afraid of committing to this highly-skilled act; you have to make sure that you dump that cold one on everyone as you pass by. Spill it on their clothes and in their hair; they will absolutely love being baptized by alcohol. People will certainly be impressed by your “mad skills” and will immediately want to be friends with you.

3. Put on your Best Bitch Face
Being excited at a concert isn’t cool. The best way to turn people off of you is to look too eager and enthusiastic at a show. Maintain the perfect “whatever, I don’t care” hipster image by putting on your best pout. Perfect the look by adding an occasional annoyed eye roll. Also, don’t dance or sing; don’t move at all. The trick to perfecting this tip is to look like you are getting no enjoyment out of the concert whatsoever. You could even put your headphones in for the duration of the show if you feel as if you have mastered your edgy look. Nothing says “I’m totally approachable and fun!” like an indifferent bitch face.

4. Don’t Tie Back Your Hair
Who doesn’t love a good ol’ mouthful of a stranger’s hair? Don’t bother putting your hair up at a concert; by leaving your long, sweaty hair down, people will think that you have a relaxed, chill attitude. People will appreciate you so much, they won’t even care that your hair is in their face whenever you head-bang.

5. Push Your Way Up to the Front
If you have just showed up to the venue ten minutes before the doors open and you have found yourself at the very back of the line, have no fear! Once you are inside, just push your way up to the front row! The fans who have been waiting outside for eight hours won’t mind at all as you elbow them out of the way to get a better spot; in fact, they will be quite impressed with how persistent and risky you are!

6. Make Out With Your Partner
Show how much fun and open you are by aggressively making out with your significant other in front of everyone. Who wouldn’t be impressed by such a sweet, romantic action? This would be a sure-fire way to break the ice with your fellow concert attendees (Bonus points if you dry-hump your partner against the person next to you: other concert-goers will be sure to love this obvious sign of passion and affection).

Follow these six simple steps and you will surely be the most popular person at any show!

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Top Five Concerts I Have Ever Attended

Concerts are a home-away-from-home for many music-lovers, providing people with a sense of comfort during a rough time or a brief moment of euphoria that cannot be matched. Witnessing a band play live has a different effect on every person who enters the venue, but everyone leaves the show as a different person. Some guy screaming every word in the front row leaves feeling inspired and ecstatic, while the girl in the very back row with a beer in her hand leaves feeling a bit lighter. Concerts have a way of lifting spirits and uniting a large room full of strangers for a couple of hours, which is why I have decided to make a list of the top five concerts that I have ever been to.

5. PUP, The Zolas, and Hollerado @ The Danforth Music Hall, Toronto, 13/09/2013

A Hollerado show truly isn’t a Hollerado show until someone chokes on a piece of confetti launched from a giant gun. However, for their special Friday the 13th show, Hollerado coupled their infamous confetti cannons with white foam that poured out during their set relentlessly. Fans could no longer see the band; the only thing that could be seen was this dense, white cloud. The white bubbles stuck to your hair, your skin, and whenever you breathed in, you would choke on it. Your screams for help would be muffled, so all you could do was fling your arm out and try to touch one of your friends to make sure they were still alive and breathing. Not only this, but the confetti would stick to the foam, which would stick to you, so by the end of the show, everyone was covered in sweat, bubbles, and paper. Sure, we almost suffocated, but it was pretty damn cool.

(Credit: Tour Photo)

The near-death experience aside, the concert was excellent, which is why it lands a spot on this list. PUP, a four-piece Canadian punk band that was still trying to make a name for itself at the time (quite literally, as PUP had recently changed their name from Topanga), brought the house down with their loud, angry vocals and screaming-yet-skilled guitar solos.

Following PUP were the much-more-relaxed Zolas, and the pale, lanky, almost-sickly-looking frontman Zach Gray looked as if he was taken straight from a Tim Burton movie. Their calm, sometimes gloomy sound suited Gray’s look and actions perfectly as he walked around the stage with his eyes closed, gripping at the wire of his microphone. Entertaining and chill, The Zolas provided a much-needed breather between PUP and Hollerado.

The quartet from Manotick took to the stage next, providing fans with a show full of sweat, beer, foam, confetti, guitar solos, and crowd surfing. Hollerado never fails to impress me with their energy and musicianship; the band always sounds the exact same live as they do in the studio. Whether it is someone’s first or tenth time seeing Hollerado, chances are they will be back for more the next time they come around (I certainly was).

Personal Highlight: Nixon Boyd, the lead guitarist of Hollerado, using the sticky foam to sculpt his hair into a messy Mohawk.

4. Matt & Kim and Passion Pit @ The Kool Haus, Toronto, 16/02/2013

The snow never let up, blanketing Passion Pit fans in a layer of white bullshit on the coldest day of the year. Fans were stranded outside the Kool Haus for hours in a barren, white world, huddling together in tight circles for warmth. It was so cold, people were crying (mainly me), but the tears would basically freeze upon contact with the unbelievably frigid atmosphere. Sure, Canadians are supposed to be able to handle winter, let the snowflakes roll off of us like water off of a duck’s back, but the weather that day was not “winter”: it was pure hell. February 16th was the day that hell froze over.

Just before my group and I felt totally forgotten and were ready to keel over and die, our savior appeared in the form of Kim from Matt & Kim. Walking up to us with a bright smile, she presented us with hot tea that she made for us in her trailer. Instructing us to dance to stay warm, Kim then left us, seemingly taking the last bit of heat with her.

A later visit from the second half of Matt & Kim made fans forget about the cold for a brief moment, but it was back soon enough, keeping each person in its frigid grip.

However, the wait in the frozen landscape was totally worth it in the end, thus landing this concert a spot on the list. Matt & Kim inspired the crowd to dance, which went a long way in helping people break free from the cold, crusted shells they were trapped inside of for so long. The duo’s high energy was just what fans needed to warm up.

By the time Matt & Kim left the stage, fans were actually sweaty, which was a sensation many thought they would never feel again. When Passion Pit took to the stage, the excitement took over the crowd, and the pure hell of what we all just experienced was quickly forgotten. Passion Pit’s Michael Angelakos called the crowd “fucking crazy” for waiting outside for so long, and he was right; we were absolutely insane.
(Credit: Album Photo)

Passion Pit played a phenomenal show, opting to play a wide selection from both their debut and sophomore albums. Angelakos’ sharp falsetto brought all of us to heaven, and it was Passion Pit, after all, that motivated people to stay alive out there in that frozen hell.
Personal Highlight: When Passion Pit played “It’s Not My Fault, I’m Happy”, Michael Angelakos came over and had an emotional, intimate moment with my friends and I.
3. Dinosaur Bones and Tokyo Police Club @ Sugar Beach, Toronto, 02/06/2013
Out of all the Tokyo Police Club concerts I have ever attended, this “Hometown Tour” show (held by Red Bull, of all things) is by far my favourite, which is why it takes spot #3 on the list. That morning, the sky didn’t look so good; grey clouds above signaled that it was going to rain, and that it was going to rain a lot. However, the foreboding skies didn’t damper the spirits of the fans as they lined up against the stage excitedly, ecstatic that the show was free.
The openers, Dinosaur Bones, took to the stage, and halfway through their set the skies broke open, dumping buckets of rain onto both the crowd and the band (the stage did little to protect them). Then, out of nowhere, the four chivalrous members of Tokyo Police Club burst onto the scene, armed with towels and plastic bags. The Dinosaur Bones continued to play even though they were getting relatively soaked as Tokyo Police Club ran around them, covering the amps, equipment, and band members with the towels and bags. TPC’s guitarist, Josh Hook, embraced one of the members of Dinosaur Bones in a quick side-hug before taking off to find shelter. The singer of TPC, Dave Monks, emerged with an umbrella and ran towards the Dinosaur Bones’ frontman, Ben Fox. Thrusting the umbrella open, Monks held the umbrella over Fox to protect him from the rain. Monks squinted against the downpour with a “holy fuck” expression on his face, and soon retreated offstage to find shelter.
The rain stopped as soon as it started, and the Dinosaur Bones wrapped up their gloomy set without incident, thanks to Tokyo Police Club. Though we were all dripping wet, the majority of the crowd stuck through the horrible weather to see Tokyo Police Club play. As the four Newmarket-natives stepped out onto the stage, the clouds disappeared and the sun came out.
(Credit: Tour Photo)

Ever since Tokyo Police Club’s sophomore album, Champ, dropped in 2010, fans had been anxiously waiting to hear new material from the Canadian quartet. However, for many of TPC’s hometown fans, this long hiatus was broken as the band played a variety of awesome tracks off of their upcoming album, Forcefield, which came out in 2014. Tokyo Police Club finally gave fans what they wanted after such a long hibernation: new music that sounded amazing.
After the show, drummer Greg Alsop thanked the audience for staying through the rain, but the crowd felt as if we should be thanking them for giving us a spot of sunshine on a dreary day.
Personal Highlight: My friends and I ended up in a dancing montage used in a Tokyo Police Club interview, but hearing all the new Tokyo Police Club music was amazing, too. Also, we ended up running into half of Tokyo Police Club at a nearby restaurant before the show.
2. Kimbra, Tokyo Police Club, and Foster the People @ Downsview Park, Toronto, 19/06/2012
Oh, Downsview, the place where I lost my concert virginity. It was here I was almost thrown into my first mosh pit, my sister was offered drugs, and my best friend was almost carried away by this tall, burly guy who wanted her to crowd surf. It was hot, sweaty, and glorious, and by then I knew I was hooked on concerts. Foster the People at Downsview was my first love, and it has quite a special place both in my heart and on this list.
The evening was illuminated by a bright afternoon sun, the early-summer day prolonging the daylight, and the first to set foot on stage was the New Zealand-native Kimbra. Donning a colourful, outrageous dress, she serenaded the crowd with her beautiful voice and stage presence. Kimbra basked in the sunlight, playing many tracks off of her debut album Vows.
Following Kimbra were the good old Canadians, Tokyo Police Club, bringing the audience a sense of home and familiarity. Before this concert, I wasn’t a fan of TPC, but the quartet would soon change my mind after their set. Singer Dave Monks worked the crowd with his big, goofy smile and lanky stature, instructing people to either clap or singalong. Even though the four of them are young, they knew how to take control of the stage like veterans, and the audience couldn’t help but smile right along with them. By the time they got to the end of their set, more than a few people wished they would stay on for longer, myself included.
A hush fell over the crowd and the anticipation built up; soon enough people began to chant “F-T-P! F-T-P!”, begging the California-natives to come out. Eventually, our wish was granted, and Foster the People, led by Mark Foster, strutted out onto the stage and launched into a high-energy set.
Foster worked the stage, doing his signature “Foster Shuffle”, sliding back and forth in front of the crowd. Later in the set, Kimbra joined Foster the People on stage to perform “Warrior”, much to the delight of the crowd.
When it came to the encore, Mark Foster re-entered the stage by himself, much to our surprise. He slowly sat down at the piano, thanking the audience, and then launched into a solo performance of one of the band’s more emotional songs, “Ruby”. People brought out their lighters and their phones, waving them back and forth in time to Foster’s controlled falsetto.
(Credit: Album Cover)
To wrap up the show, Foster the People went all out with their production value, bringing out these giant blow-up creatures that are on the cover of their debut album, Torches.  By this point, the crowd was chanting “Pumped up Kicks!”, wanting to hear the band play their biggest single. Foster the People gave the crowd what they wanted by playing a prolonged, remixed version of the track that had people losing their minds. Foster was running around the stage excitedly, playing with the giant blow-up monsters, and just like that, the show ended. Foster the People walked out of all of our lives, much to our dissatisfaction.
As the crowd began to disperse, I thought to myself that this might have been my first concert, but it certainly wouldn’t be my last.
Personal Highlight: Mark Foster commented on the fact that he was killing tons of bugs whenever he played the piano, as a bunch of moths were attracted to the lights on stage. Foster, finding a giant moth, thought it would be hilarious to throw it at the drummer, Mark Pontius, and he dared him to catch it. He didn’t.
1. White Denim and The Arctic Monkeys @ Molson Canadian Amphitheatre, Toronto, 21/06/2014
It could have been the dude dressed up as Alex Turner, the joy of eating pizza while listening to the opening band, or the confused dads surrounding my friends and I, but the Arctic Monkeys’ epic show at the massive Amphitheatre is the greatest concert I have ever attended.
On the first official day of summer, fans flocked to the venue donning black clothes and red lipstick. We could all sense the Sheffield swagger of the Arctic Monkeys, and we all wanted to be as close to it as possible, and for a moment, the majority of people thought that the AM frontman, Alex Turner, was in our midst; leaning against the wall was some dude rocking Turner’s signature quiff, a silk button-up shirt, a chain, and a leather jacket, emulating Turner himself. This confused a lot of people, causing all of us to do a double take, and I am sure this guy got hit on a lot that night.
The doors opened, and people packed themselves into the Amphitheatre, from the floor to the grass. With pizza in hand, my friends and I excitedly waited for the show to start. White Denim came on stage rocking their plaid and jeans, and began to play a couple of bluesy tunes. Though they were not really my style, something about eating pizza and listening to music makes everything better.
After they left the stage, tensions started to build. The sun began to set slowly, and as AM arrived, shrouded in fog, the sun had disappeared from the sky completely. The night suited AM’s sexy swagger, and as the first few notes of “Do I Wanna Know?” hit, everyone collectively lost their shit with the exception of a few confused, lost-looking middle-aged men.
The dads watched with a slight look of fear in their eyes as my friends and I danced and screamed every word, and I began to wonder where their daughters were. Some couple ahead of us began to make out, but no one could blame them; the Arctic Monkeys brought every ounce of their sexiness to the Molson Canadian Amphitheatre.
The real Alex Turner on stage kept referring to the crowd as “Ontarionians” in his slow, lazy drawl, but no one bothered to correct him; Turner wouldn’t have cared if he was wrong anyways. The band played a large variety of tracks from all of their albums, and for the duration of the show, Turner either sexily sauntered across the stage or danced like a complete dork.
By the time they reached the end of their set, the Arctic Monkeys had pretty much everyone eating right out of their hands (except for the dads); we would have done anything Turner asked us to do. We were all under his sexy, Sheffield spell, which was abruptly broken after they played their last track of the night, “R U Mine?”.
The band blew kisses on their way out, which were returned by everyone (except the dads). Walking out of the venue in the moonlight, it dawned on me that I would never see a show that phenomenal ever again. Also, many of us realized that it would be a while before we saw the quartet every again. Oh, well. At least we still have that guy who looks like Alex Turner.  
Personal Highlight: When the Arctic Monkeys played the slow “No. 1 Party Anthem”, everyone took out their phones and lighters, swaying in time to Turner’s smooth, silky voice. The moment was brilliant, as thousands of white lights appeared all over the venue, mimicking the stars in the sky.