Sleeping With Sirens and Bring Me The Horizon at Viejas Arena

Sleeping With Sirens and Bring Me the Horizon, two veterans in the alternative scene, returned to San Diego with full force at Viejas Arena on Saturday, October 19.

Thirteen year old me is living by having the opportunity to photograph both Sleeping With Sirens and Bring Me The Horizon. Now, I want to paint a picture of thirteen year old me. I loved One Direction (still do) and stumbled across a Sleeping With Sirens video on YouTube. “If I’m James Dean, You’re Audrey Hepburn” changed my music taste and life. Now, I am thrown into my emo phase, wearing beanies so far on the back of your head that it is about to fall off, along with two arms full of the rubber band bracelets from Hot Topic. I credit Sleeping With Sirens as the band that got me into this music and I thank them for that.

My freshly fourteen year old self decided to beg my mom to let me go to Warped Tour since both Sleeping With Sirens and Bring Me The Horizon were playing that year. She said yes, which led to one of the most fun days of my childhood. I got to meet Sleeping With Sirens, and you guessed it, I cried. My friend Amanda, who also dragged her mom along, also cried along with me since we just met our heroes. Now, this was my first ever concert that was not pop music. I was at barricade for Sleeping With Sirens, and when my mom saw all the crowd surfers, she was blowing up my phone. She thought I was going to get absolutely crushed, but I was just mad at her for interrupting my recording of “Congratulations.”

Later on in the day, we all got to see Bring Me the Horizon. This was shortly after their album Sempiternal came out, so they played “Antivist.” If you don’t know that song, I recommend listening to it so you can understand my mom’s horror. The crowd was filled with people with their middle fingers up, screaming the lyrics back. After that, my mom told me I was never to listen to them again, and I am pretty sure Amanda’s mom said the same thing to her.

Apparently the “never listening to them again” thing did not last for long, because Amanda and I saw Bring Me The Horizon again in the following February. This time we got to see them at their own headlining show. We both thought it was a very smart idea to wear shorts, in Toronto, right next to Lake Ontario. An even better decision we had was to wait in line outside for an hour or two before giving up and heading back to our moms in the car. That show still lives up as one of the best concerts I have ever been to.
It is really funny to think about how my mom went to tell me that I could never listen to Bring Me The Horizon, to now loving them. “Can You Feel My Heart” is her absolute favorite song. She is a way bigger fan of Sleeping With Sirens and even had me download their cover of “Iris” to her phone off YouTube.

Since then, I have obviously grown up, being twenty years old. When I saw that these two bands would be touring together, I was excited. I became even more excited when I found out that I would be photographing the show. This threw me back into my emo phase, and I had never been more pumped for a concert.

Sleeping With Sirens started out the night. The majority of the songs they played came from their new album, How It Feels to Be Lost. They only played five old songs, coming from albums such as Let’s Cheers To This and Madness. The songs they played were: “Leave It All Behind,” “Never Enough,” “Tally It Up: Settle the Score,” “Better Off Dead,” “Blood Lines,” “Medicine (Devil In My Head),” “Break Me Down,” “Agree to Disagree,” “How It Feels To Be Lost,” “Kick Me” and “If You Can’t Hang.”

Being up close in the photo pit was amazing. I love all the energy that they exude when on stage. After leaving the photo pit, I got to sit in the stands and watch the rest of their set. Seeing how wild the crowd was going for them was absolutely awesome. I had never seen them play at their own show, only at Warped Tour. It was so exciting to see how they interact and hype up the crowd.

Following Sleeping With Sirens, Bring Me The Horizon headlined the night. Since I have not seen them since 2014, they have majorly upgraded their shows. They have an amazing stage set up, matching outfits, and even dancers. They played a total of fifteen songs: “MANTRA,” “Avalanche,” “The House of Wolves,” “Medicine,” “Wonderful Life,” “Shadow Moses,” “Sugar Honey Ice & Tea,” “Happy Song,” “Nihilist Blues,” “Antivist,” “Mother Tongue,” “Can You Feel My Heart,” “Follow You,” and “Throne and Drown.”

Getting to see one of my favorite songs from the photo pit was an experience I will never forget. Also, shoutout to the lovely people I met at the barricade. Once I left the photo pit, I made my way down to my seat to watch the rest of the show. General admission was absolutely insane. The pits were constantly going crazy, with Oli Sykes, the singer, hyping everyone up.

They brought a fan up on stage for their song “Antivist,” which is something that they have been doing on this tour. Oli also thanked the crowd for being the reason he is alive, which was very touching. My favorite part of the show was during their last song. Oli came down into the general admission area, walked around, and sang “Drown” with fans surrounding him. He even made his way up to the seated area, right next to me. He finished the song on the stage and thanked the crowd over and over again.

This had to have been one of the best shows I have seen in a long time. The crowd was also so into the music and so into the bands. The energy in the arena was unreal. If you get a chance to see this tour or any of these bands on tour, do it. You will not regret it.

You can listen to Sleeping With Sirens’ new album here, and Bring Me The Horizon’s new album here.

Written by: McCaeley O’Rourke
Photos by: McCaeley O’Rourke

Have Mercy and The Early November at the House of Blues

Have Mercy and The Early November brought together devoted fans to share a night of raw emotions and moments of nostalgia at the House of Blues.

If you go onto my Apple Music account, you will see a heart next to almost every Have Mercy song. That is how good they are. Have Mercy opened up for The Early November, one of the best 2000’s emo bands, at the House of Blues on September 26, 2019.

I have a best friend and her name is Paige. Paige and I have seen Have Mercy together a total of three times. This is very impressive considering she lives in Pittsburgh, PA. I was the one that showed Paige Have Mercy. The first song I showed her was “The Place You Love.” That song became “our song,” with us playing it almost every single car ride while we were together.

We were lucky enough to see them on two dates of a tour back in 2017, once in Buffalo and once in Toronto. Leading up to the show, we would tweet Have Mercy often, begging them to play and dedicate “The Place You Love” to us. This was at the end of our five shows in six days extravaganza, so we were tired. The Buffalo show came and went, and we did not get our dedication. We kept tweeting them over the next day before the Toronto show. The Toronto show came and they played “The Place You Love”, and was dedicated to us, but as the “twitter girlfriends.” We had to explain to Brian after the show that we are not dating, we are just long distance best friends. Of course, we thanked him and also apologized for our excessive tweets.

Now, if Paige or I go to a Have Mercy show without each other and they play “The Place You Love,” we facetime each other. No matter when or where I hear that song, I always think of my best friend. That is one of my favorite things about Have Mercy.

Have Mercy played nine songs live: “Heartbeat”, “Clair”, “Mattress On The Floor,” “This Old Ark,” “Coexist,” “My Oldest Friend,” “Let’s Talk About Your Hair,” “Dressed Down,” and “So Like You.” The majority of these songs are from their newest album, The Love Life, which came out in August.

This album was, to me, very different than anything they have released before. The album seemed more polished, in a good way. One thing that I really liked about this album was how different each song is from each other. Yet, the album flows so well together and sounds like a whole. I feel like with the two past albums, they have stepped out of their comfort zone and made different music than what they are known for. They also incorporated a lot of drums into this album but stuck to their typical melody.

Every song is super catchy, and I grew to love this album almost as much as I love “A Place of Our Own,” My favorites on the new album are: “We Ain’t Got Love,” “40 OZ” (which I think is my favorite), “Clair,” and “Mattress on the Floor.”

Another one of my favorite things about Have Mercy is how honest they are in their music and in their lives. If you have never listened to a Have Mercy song, now is your time to do so. Their lyrics are so raw and make you feel the same feelings they had when writing the song. I am not going to say that Have Mercy is my go-to crying band, but it really is (besides Safe Bet).

At the show, Brian, the singer, talked about how their drummer recently passed away, and how that affected him and the band. It brought the original members of Have Mercy back together, but obviously, it also brought a lot of sadness. Brian was alone on the stage and dedicated “My Oldest Friend” to him, which was a very emotional performance.

On a lighter note, Brian also talked about his past experience with doing shrooms. He said he was tripping so hard, that he did not notice his contacts fell out. This made him stare into a sink for an extended amount of time, and he convinced himself that this was how he was going to see the world from now on.

Have Mercy opened up for the Early November. If you were alive in the early 2000’s and loved emo music or post-hardcore music, this band is nothing new to you. The Early November formed in 1999, in Hammonton, New Jersey. By 2002, they were signed to Drive Thru Records, played Warped Tour, and released their first EP, For All of This. The following year they toured with Brand New and released their first full length album, The Room’s Too Cold. They continued to tour and released their next album, The Mother, the Mechanic, and the Path in 2006. The album debuted at number 31 on the Billboard 200, which is their highest-charting album.

In 2007, they announced they would be taking an indefinite hiatus. Rumors flowed for the next couple of years, and some of the members teased that there would be a reunion. In 2011, the band announced that The Early November would be back and that they signed with Rise Records. They released an album called In Currents, their only release since their last album six years ago. The Early November kept releasing music, such as their fourth studio album, Imbue. Their newest full length album came out on September 27, 2019 called Lilac.

This was my first time seeing The Early November, and they blew me away. This band has been around for as long as I have been alive, and they still can draw out a crowd of die-hard fans. They played a total of 17 songs: “A Stain on the Carpet,” “A Little More Time,” “I Don’t Care,” “Decoration,” “Guilt & Swell,” “Hit by a Car (In Euphoria),” “Boxing Timelines,” “Ave Maria,” “Tell Me Why,” “Baby Blue,” “The Mountain Range in My Living Room,” “I Want to Hear You Sad,” “I Dissolve,” “Call Off the Bells,” “Ever So Sweet,” and “Narrow Mouth and Frayed in Doubt.” The singer, Ace, asked the crowd who had been fans since their first album. Almost the entire room had their hands raised. It is crazy to me that a band that has been around for 20 years still has this dedicated of a fan base.

I finally sat down and listened to their newest album Lilac, and it was absolutely amazing. This is a band that has released five studio albums, an acoustic album, three EPs, took a hiatus, and came back with a bang. They have continued to put out album after album, and song after song, that not only keeps the old fans listening, but brings in a new wave of fans.

My favorites on the album would have to be “My Weakness,” “Hit by a Car (In Euphoria),” and “Ave Maria.” The album is very guitar and vocally driven. It sticks to their emo roots but also shows how they and their music have grown over the past 20 years. My only critique for the album is that I wish it was longer! The album is only ten songs, which comes out to about 38 minutes. Other than that, this is another magical release by the Early November.

Give a listen to both Have Mercy’s new album here and the Early November’s album here.

Written By: McCaeley O’Rourke
Photos By: McCaeley O’Rourke

The Hunna and Barns Courtney at the House of Blues

While opening for Barns Courtney, UK band The Hunna performed a crowd pleasing show at the House of Blues on September 25, 2019.

Let’s flashback to 2016. Picture me sitting in study hall in high school with my best friend Emma. We were listening to every single artist that would be playing Wayhome in the following summer. For those of you who do not know, Wayhome was a music festival about an hour north of Toronto. Emma types into YouTube, “The Hunna.” She clicks on the first video, “Bonfire.” I am hooked by about ten seconds in. 

This is the story of how I found and fell in love with a band called The Hunna. The worst part about that story is that their former manager double booked them, two festivals in the UK that were the same time as two festivals in the US. Since this band is from Hertfordshire, England, they obviously chose the UK festivals. The Hunna formed in 2015, and is comprised of singer and guitarist Ryan (Tino) Potter, lead guitarist Daniel (BD) Dorney, bassist Junate (Prince) Angin, and drummer Jack (IK) Metcalfe. 

Now, let’s flashback to 2017. Picture me sitting in my quad dorm at my desk, getting ready to go out for the night. I am playing The Hunna, and I hear my roommate, Adrienne, singing along. I turn around and ask, “are you singing?” She of course responds, “yes,” which has me screaming at her, “you know The Hunna?” That is how I knew Adrienne and I were going to be friends forever.

I finally got to see The Hunna live in April 2018, with Adrienne. They headlined the House of Blues in San Diego. It was one of the best shows I have ever been to, and I got to talk to the band after the show. That day, Tino got a tattoo that says, “Y.D.W.I.W.M.” which is one of their songs. They are genuinely the nicest people, and they even recorded a video saying hello to my mom. My mom is a humongous The Hunna fan. Since The Hunna rarely tour the US, I really did not know when I would get to see them live again.

On September 26, I finally got to see The Hunna again, but this time from the photo pit at the House of Blues. They played a total of nine songs: We Could Be, Fever, Babe Can I Call?, IGHTF, Flickin’ Your Hair, Y.D.W.I.W.M., She’s Casual, Bonfire and D. G. A. F. They stopped to talk about a lot of the meanings behind their songs, or stories that had to do with a specific song. My favorite story that they told that night was about “She’s Casual”. It was the first song they had ever written together. It was written in a shed while they were all stoned out of their minds, and they didn’t believe that they wrote that good of a song because of how high they were. The crowd was going absolutely wild for The Hunna, which seemed to shock the band. Everyone was screaming the words right back at them, which made Tino state that San Diego was the best date of the tour yet. My favorite part of the entire show was seeing all the middle-aged women dance and sing along to them. They reminded me of how much my mom loves them, and made me smile. Their set ended with Tino crowd surfing, which was another highlight of my night.

The Hunna opened up for Barns Courtney, and to be quite honest, I had never heard of him until I saw his name on the bill. Standing in the photo pit before he came on, I did not know what to expect. When he came out on stage, the energy in the room shifted and exuded so much happiness. Barns’ stage presence is something you rarely see anymore. He was wild, carefree, and happy, all while jumping around. He reminded me of Catfish and the Bottlemen, mixed with Yungblud. I really enjoyed his music, and especially enjoyed his stage presence.

The Hunna did say that they will be back early next year, and that music will be released around the same time. In the meantime, you can listen to The Hunna here, and Barns Courtney here

Written by: McCaeley O’Rourke
Photos by: McCaeley O’Rourke

Catfish and the Bottlemen at the House of Blues

Catfish and the Bottlemen

Catfish and the Bottlemen played at the House of Blues San Diego to a sold out crowd. But first…

Did you know that Catfish and the Bottlemen were originally called, “The Prestige?” The band started in April 2007, when Van and Billy started playing guitar together. They started playing shows all over Wales, opening up for their friends bands, as well as other gigs. The band had an early demo played on BBC Radio 6 Music in March 2009. They ended up changing their name to Catfish and the Bottlemen, which comes from Van McCann’s first childhood musical memory. This memory was watching a street busker in Australia who went by the same name. They continued to play gigs, and in 2013, they signed to Communion Music, and managed to release three singles. The next year, they signed to Island Records. On this record label, they released their debut album “The Balcony.” One single, “Kathleen,” ranked at number one on MTV’s hottest tracks in April 2014. Since the release of their first album, they have been constantly touring, playing festivals and shows all over the world.

Van McCann at the House of Blues on March 19, 2019.

The last time I had seen Catfish and the Bottlemen was in 2017, in Toronto, Canada, at the Rebel. They were still on tour for their second album “The Ride,” which has been described as, “just blistering, swashbuckling tunes.” The venue was humongous, and with a sold out crowd of 2,500 people, it was an insane show. It had been the first time I had seen them live and the performance was astonishing. I have been to way too many concerts to count, and that Catfish and the Bottlemen concert is still one of my favorites.

Flash forward to Catfish and the Bottlemen at the House of Blues…

This time, seeing Catfish and the Bottlemen was a whole new experience. It again was a sold out show, but this time at the House of Blues San Diego. With a capacity of only 250 people, it was destined to be a much more intimate show. The Worn Flints opened up the show, playing for about thirty minutes. Catfish and the Bottlemen went on at 9, and I got to shoot the show from the photo pit for the first three songs, which were “Longshot,” “Kathleen,” and “Soundcheck.” While I was in the photo pit, every time I would turn around and look at the crowd, I could see pure joy on everyone’s face. After shooting the first three songs, I went into the crowd and joined my friends. The atmosphere at the show was just pure bliss. Everyone was having such a good time, screaming the lyrics right back at the band.

They played a total of 17 songs, ending with “Tyrants.” The crowd and I also got to hear their new single, “2all,” for the first time ever live, along with other songs from their upcoming album. If you have not had the chance to see Catfish and the Bottlemen live, you are missing out on an extraordinary experience that is like no other.

Catfish and the Bottlemen is releasing a new album called “The Balance,” on April 26th, which they already have three songs out from the new album: Longshot, 2all, and Fluctuate. They have not released anything since 2016, their album “The Ride,” so this album has been much waited for. You can preorder their new album here!

Written by : McCaeley O’Rourke
Pictures by: McCaeley O’Rourke