Charlotte Lawrence and Goody Grace at the House of Blues

Charlotte Lawrence and Goody Grace put on an electrifying show that had the crowd moving all night long at the House of Blues on November 21, 2019.

Before the show, KCR got to have a friendsgiving with both artists in our production studio. In this intimate setting, we all enjoyed a fully vegan Thanksgiving, screen printing reusable tote bags, and more! We also got to sit down and talk to Charlotte and Goody about their music, new songs, and their tour. They each performed an acoustic song, which you can watch both the interview and acoustic songs here

Goody Grace

I had never seen Goody Grace or Charlotte Lawrence live before, and this show absolutely blew me away. Goody Grace opened up the show, playing songs such as “Scumbag,” “Two Shots,” “Rest Your Eyes,” and more. There were some die hard fans in the crowd, singing along to every word and dancing their hearts out. For the people who had never heard of him before, they were still moving and dancing along to the songs.

After learning about the influences behind Goody Grace’s music earlier in the day, it really translated to his music. His music is a mix of all of the music he likes and listens to. You heard emo, pop punk, r&b, and rap influences in his music. They all merged together to create this very unique sound that is 100% Goody Grace. Since this show, I have had Goody Grace’s music on repeat, and you should too.

Charlotte Lawrence

Charlotte Lawrence headlined the show. She played a total of 14 songs: “Why Do You Love Me,” “Just The Same, Keep Me Up,” “I Bet,” “Stole Your Car,” “Young and Reckless,” “Everybody Loves You,” “You,” “Sin X Secret,” “Psychopath,” “Cowboys,” “Navy Blue,” “God Must Be Doing Cocaine,” and “Sleep Talking.”

The crowd was totally and fully engaged with her performance; Charlotte had so much energy on the stage, and was interacting with the crowd at all times. At one point during the show, she claimed that she is too tall to dance but her dance moves went perfectly with her music. This encouraged everyone in the audience to dance along too; not a single person in that crowd stood still.

I wish I had the proper words to describe how utterly gorgeous Charlotte’s voice is. It has the perfect mix of raw emotion and effortless talent. She hits these high notes and goes on these runs that are so beautiful, it genuinely does not sound real.

My favorite song of her performance was Stole Your Car, which has been on repeat since this show. This song in particular had everyone jumping in the air, and dancing. The vocals in this song are insane, and she executed them flawlessly.

Charlotte also performed her newest song, “God Must Be Doing Cocaine.” It calls attention to all the messed up things going on in our world today. It was a super stripped back and emotional performance, which the crowd stayed silent throughout the entire thing. The show was one you should not have missed!

You can listen to Goody Grace ft. Blink 182, “Scumbag,” here.

You can also listen to Charlotte Lawrence’s newest song, “God Must Be Doing Cocaine,” here.

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

Cold War Kids at the Observatory North Park

Indie-rock quintet Cold War Kids sat down with KCR to talk music inspirations, the evolution of their sound, and the highs and lows of being a band before their show at the Observatory North Park on Friday, November 15.

Cold War Kids formed back in 2004 in Fullerton, California. As stated on their Facebook page, they, “began in August ’04 with friends, jangly guitar, hand claps, and a Harmony amp in a storage room atop Mulberry Street restaurant.” Their earliest releases came from an independent record label, Monarchy Music, but in 2006, they released their debut album, Robbers & Cowards, with their new label, Downtown/V2. They then went on to release Loyalty to Loyalty in 2008, and Mine Is Yours in 2011. CWK continued to release new music in 2013 and 2014 with, Dear Miss Lonelyhearts and Hold My Home. They then signed to Capitol Records and released L.A. Divine in 2017. Their most recent release from November 1, 2019, from AWAL is called New Age Norms 1. They have been on countless tours, and have been all over the world, but they, “strive to make honest songs about human experience in orchards and hotel rooms, laundromats and churches, sea ports and school halls.”

I got to sit down and talk to Nathan before the show. We talked about their newest album, music, and the band as a whole. 

What went into your album, New Age Norms 1, and what was your inspiration behind it?

“A lot of things were happening with us where we had done a live record that kinda took a lot of work, that I was really proud of. Then our old record label was bought and we had to contractually do a ‘best of’ thing that was also a lot of work. We had to kinda put a lot of songs onto it that had been unreleased to make it something special, so that wasn’t just the same old songs. It was a season of a lot of backward looking time, over the band, over the you know, so many records and so many songs. So now we have a new record label AWAL, which is like a different, and has much more of a sense of freedom in the new season of what we’re doing. I felt like we needed to explore and just kind of try things, think out of the box.

So yeah, the idea of doing three different records that are 8 songs each, and just being committed to that, I guess came like maybe a year ago. Yeah, we just wrote forever, approached it a lot of different ways. The first one is producer Lars, that we’ve done the last couple records with. The second one, that we’re finishing now and is going to come out next year, is with Shawn Everrett, a totally different producer, a totally different sound. A lot of it was just like choosing these different ways we worked and making a record around that sort of different writing approaches we had.

It’s interesting because you have to think that so much of the way that people have released music is bound to the way the music industry has worked, and the way that records get released. When we first started, we had three EP’s that we had kinda just done ourselves. We knew nothing about anything, so we had friends that recorded us, and we paid them a little bit of money. We just had Matt Maust, our bass player, doing all the art for them. It was the funnest time because it just felt like the final product, you know a record or cd or whatever, that we were making, that we would then sell at shows and everything, it still felt like it was brand new. It felt like this is not something we did a year ago, that we’ve been laboring over. It just felt like, ‘All right we recorded these songs that we’ve been playing live and it feels fresh and has that urgency.’

Then once you get into sort of like the professional world of record labels and all that stuff, you know I don’t want to like overemphasize. I sometimes hate when an artist overemphasizes the role of record labels because it shouldn’t be about that, regardless of even if you have, I don’t know. We’ve never been in a situation where we had a record label that was so restrictive with us. But that being said, the way that the schedule of it and how far out you have to plan a release, what it takes to get a team of people behind a release. So we did the last album, L.A Divine, with Capitol, and that was kind of the one major label experience we’ve had. Which was fine, it wasn’t really good or bad, it was just kind of like, ‘Okay this was okay.’ But like who we are and what we do, this isn’t really going to benefit us a whole lot. So we should just kind of go and do what we’ve always done.

So maybe that’s a long winded way of saying, it feels like the old days. We’ve just always sort of toured first and thought about recording and releasing music second. Which is very different than now, and in general. Years ago, the model of making a record in your home studio or on your laptop or whatever, with your friends and then waiting, sort of making something happen before there is a tour to go out too. That’s like a newer thing. For us, we get in the van and start finding places to play and let it grow and all that. So yeah, it feels like that.”

So how has your music evolved since the beginning?

“It’s funny, like, it’s a really good question. But like evolution is, in a lot of ways, it’s the same in some ways, and totally different in other ways. So the way of kind of like being 4 or 5 guys in a room, with their instruments in their hands, sort of waiting for something to spark all of us. That type of energy is really great, and that’s how we started, but I got really burned out on that way of working and just wanted to be more focused about writing slowly. Sort of not letting the lyrics be something that has to come together on my own time, but something that I could create the amount of time I want to write a song. Not just sort of have it be….It’s that thing, a balance, music and lyrics. Sometimes music can be too heavy on it and lyrics are an afterthought. Sometimes it can be the opposite.”

What is your favorite song to play live on this tour?

“I think ‘Complainer‘ is the song that is just the most unlike any other song that we have. I mean, it’s always the weirdest thing when you’re in the studio working on something and think like, ‘does this make sense with our music? Does this make sense with everything else in our setlist?’ And then you do it and it always does. ‘Complainer’ is just a little different. It’s strange that it’s actually hard to write a song that is unlike everything else that you’ve done. I would always think like, ‘What if this doesn’t sound like us?’ It always sounds like you in the end. It always comes from you, but it’s actually hard to do something that’s really different from what you normally do. “

What made you want to play music with your other bandmates?

“I just think it’s the funnest thing in the world. From the first time we started playing together, for me, the excitement and the feeling that anything is possible and just like living in that moment of, I don’t know, playing guitar, piano, or writing something. But just the feeling of being creative in that way, with a room full of people and being really vulnerable, it feels like kinda scary, and I like that. I didn’t grow up doing any sort of drama or any kind of creative stuff, at all really. I always grew up listening to a ton of music, and going to see bands and my friends were in bands. My friends were all in like punk and hardcore bands. I wanted to do something more soulful and kind of rock and roll. To my surroundings, there wasn’t really anything like that, there wasn’t a scene for anything like that. So I didn’t start a band, until kind of later. I was like 24, 25, when we started. Discovering that kind of like minded appreciation of music, and how special it is. Being able to share that is the best, it’s great.”

What is your ultimate goal as a band?

“I wish I knew. That is such a strange thing. We were actually in the van and driving from Phoenix to here today. We were just talking about how friends’ bands that have either you know, failed or gotten lost along the way of what they’re doing. Not having a goal that is like selling a certain amount of tickets or selling a certain amount of records, or being a certain big; looking at your life and saying, ‘Am I living the life I want to live? Am I happy doing the work that I’m doing? If so, I can keep doing it.’ For me, over the years, as we’ve had highs and lows, and even different members changing, and how really hard that can be. Of course, there’s always lots of moments of doubt, but I have always just loved it.”

Cold War Kids Live

On Friday, November 15th, Cold War Kids played a sold out show at the Observatory North Park. I have never seen Cold War Kids live, so I was very excited for the show! Their merch table was set up by the entrance, so it was the first thing I saw when I entered and I loved it all. It was super eye catching and different from what other bands are putting out right now. 

The crowd was filled with people of all ages, from kids to adults. I got to see the first three songs from the photo pit, as I was shooting the show. Along with that, I got to hear one of their most well known songs, “Hang Me Up To Dry,” from the photo pit. I turned around and saw how happy the crowd was, and how they sang every single word. The crowd was constantly moving, dancing, and vibing along to the music.

They played a mix of new and old songs, but a majority are off their new album. They played a total of 21 songs including: “Love Is Mystical,” “Miracle Mile,” “Hang Me Up to Dry,” “Complainer,” “Fine Fine Fine,” “Dirt in My Eyes,” “Calm Your Nerves,” “4th of July,” “Waiting for Your Love,” “Can We Hang On?,” “Mexican Dogs,” “Restless,” “Beyond the Pale,” “Drive Desperate,” “So Tied Up,” “Audience,” “We Used to Vacation,” “Hospital Beds,” “First,” “All This Could Be Yours,” and “Something Is Not Right With Me.” When talking to Nathan before the show, he mentioned how “Complainer” is his favorite song to perform live because it is so different from their other songs. After seeing it live, I completely understand why it is his favorite. The crowd was screaming along to the song.

Cold War Kids had so much energy on stage. They engaged and interacted with the crowd; the audience could not stand still, everyone was having an amazing time. The show was absolutely amazing, I did not want it to end.

If you have not listened to Cold War Kids, it is time to hop on the train. You can listen to their new album here.

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

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