Archive for the ‘Starland Ballroom’ Category

[DID NOT ATTEND: October 15, 2022] ANTIFEST

On the same night that Philly was hosting Philly Music Fest featuring Mannequin Pussy, New Jersey was hosting ANTI-FEST.

This was a tour featuring Anti-Flag who were amazing live and who I would definitely see again.

Also headlining was Me First and the Gimme Gimmes–a band I knew nothing about but didn’t like, base don their name.  Then I learned that they are a cover band doing punk covers of classic rock songs and I thought their name was actually pretty perfect and now I want to see them live too.

The Black Tones is the only band on the bill I hadn’t heard of.  According to one blurb they infuse the spirit of punk rock in their modernized version of blues rock, in a really cool and subversive way. And all of that, of course, wouldn’t matter if they weren’t a killer live band. (more…)

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[DID NOT ATTEND: June 26, 2022] Starset / Red / Divide the Fall / Oni

My son and I have seen Starset twice.  Each show has been pretty fantastic.

When this tour was announced, I was excited that a show was going to be at the Starland Ballroom (a venue I don’t love, but which he does).

But then it turned out to be the night before he was leaving for Europe.  There was n way we were staying out all night the night before his flight.

So, we gave this tour a miss.

Rock on Purpose has a big review of the show.

I didn’t know any of the other bands.  The above reviewer is a big fan of Red, who he says plays a “combination of cinematic, uplifting, and hardcore rock music.”

They are a Christian band, which seems an odd fit for Starset’s cryptic stances, but whatever, their songs are pretty good with interesting orchestral arrangements over the heavy guitars.

Divide the Fall are from Minnesota.  Spill, their local magazine says

their modern hard rock sound and catchy choruses with the occasional heavy breakdown.

And a review of their recent EP describes melodic harmonies and stunning, clean vocals.

Oni were a progressive heavy metal band from Canada with growling vocals and crazy technical profiiency, at least in 2016.  In 2022, they released a new album about which Drowned in Sound says

If you were anticipating another round of technical bludgeoning akin to the Ironshore era then you may be disappointed as ONI have taken an entirely different direction this time round.

Sounds like the heaviest bands went on first, although some of their new songs are pretty mellow too.  Interestimg.

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[C. ATTENDED: November 28, 2021] Ice Nine Kills with Bad Omens, Currents, and Fame on Fire

When I saw that this show was announced, I offered to take C. to the show.  But he told me that his friend had already gotten them tickets.  I offered to drive (I really want to see Ice Nine Kills again), but what I didn’t know was that the friend’s mom had gotten them VIP tickets–something I wouldn’t have done, that’s for sure. So that was cool.

They got into the show early and to hang out with the band and got a bunch of swag too.

The problem is that after the VIP session was over, there was a pretty long wait for the first band to go on.

He said Ice Nine Kills was great (they put on an amazing show).  The new album is great and their stage set is spectacular.  And I’m happy to say that he and I are going see them in April–maybe I’ll get us VIP tickets as well. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: October 24, 2021] The Front Bottoms

Even though I tend to dislike Starland Ballroom, when I saw that The Front Bottoms were playing on Philly and then ending their tour at Starland, I knw I had to pick Starland.  End of the tour at a hometown show?  The choice was obvious.  And it was right.

Because in Philly, they played 23 songs but in NJ they played 31, including their entire first album front to back.

I first heard The Front Bottoms in 2013 and somehow never got around to seeing them live.  They’ve had a few shows (what they call Champagne Jams) the last few years.  I didn’t really want to see them in that kind of Festival attitude.  I did get tickets for the 2019 show but wound up not going.

So here was my redemption.

The band was a lot of fun and the crowd was so into it.  Yes they were pushy and shovy but it was all for the good of the show (at least until I saw a girl flee the room with a bloody nose).  There was a mosh pit, there was crowd surfing and more crowd surfing.  It was insane!


Most of their songs are fast and fun and lend to a lot of singing along (which we all did).  And even though these songs are kind of pop punk, they’re not short two minute ditties.  So I really didn’t know how long the show would be.

Previous sets ended after 19 songs (plus encores), so I was a little surprised when they ended the set (with the perfect set ender, “Au Revoir (Adios)” at only 16 songs.  But I figured they were going to give us a long encore. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: October 24, 2021] oso oso

I had not heard of oso oso but I had heard good things about them.

They came out fairly quickly after Syndey Sprague’s set.

Starland Ballroom always puts down a projector screen while the bands are setting up.  As oso oso was about to take the stage, it looked like the lead singer was doing a hand stand or a keg stand or was funneling a beer.  I couldn’t quite tell, but his feet were in the air.

I’m not sure if I was annoyed by the crowd (SO CROWDED) or what but I found oso oso to be one the most meh band I’ve seen on a long time.  I really felt nothing for them. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: October 24, 2021] Sydney Sprague

I have come to really hate the Starland Ballroom.  I can’t believe how long it takes them to get people inside.  One shouldn’t arrive fifteen minutes before show time and miss the opening band’s first two songs.

And that’s what happened with Sydney Sprague.  The people behind me were particularly looking forward to her too, particularly the song she opened her set with.  So I felt bad for them.

I hadn’t heard of Sprague, but she was getting some good press and I was looking forward to her set.

After missing the first two songs, I pushed my way in to an intensely crowded Starland Ballroom.  It was hard to find a good spot, but by the time I settled, Sprague was steadily rocking along.  Her songs were really good–rocking and catchy.

In fact I think her live set was more rocking and intense than her album. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: October 12, 2019] Explosions in the Sky

I saw Explosions in the Sky three years ago. It stands as one of the most memorable shows I’ve seen and I knew that I wanted to see them again whenever I had the chance.

I don’t know if the band doesn’t tour all that much or if they just didn’t come my way, but after three years, when I saw they were playing at the Starland Ballroom on their 20th Anniversary Tour (part 1), I got tickets right away.

It took about 20 minutes for EITS to come out on stage.  It was nice to not have those horrible red lights that flooded FACS.

Before they actually started, the lights were natural, so I made sure to snap a few pictures before the colored lights came onto the stage.

All five guys came out and guitarist Munaf Rayani (the only guy to talk) said they were Explosions in the Sky from Texas–looks like some of you know us.  That’s good.”  And until he said good night that was the only voice for 90 some minutes. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: October 12, 2019] FACS

I saw Explosions in the Sky back in 2016 and the show blew me away.  I knew I’d be seeing them again some time.

For that show, the opening band was Disappears.

I really enjoyed Disappears and wound up buying their records.  For this show, the opening band was FACS.  I had never heard of FACS at all.  When I looked them up I discovered that FACS is (technically was)… three-fourths of Disappears!

According to the Chicago Tribune, Disappears:

broke up in 2016 with the departure of bassist Damon Carruesco, and holdovers [bassist] Brian Case, guitarist Jonathan Van Herik and drummer Noah Leger reinvented themselves as Facs, which explored a more abstract but no less fascinating – and sometimes downright spooky – sound.

Then Van Herik quit, and Facs had to regroup yet again, this time with Case switching back to guitar and newcomer Alianna Kalaba on bass, joining Leger in the rhythm section. There was only one catch: Kalaba had never played bass before. She was previously the drummer in We Ragazzi and the Dishes, but Leger already held that job in Facs.

“In Disappears, we had strict ideas about repetition and minimalism that are still ingrained in us,” Case says. “But with Facs, we took everything out of that comfort zone until we found something we liked and honed into it.

I didn’t really remember much of this going into this show.  I just remembered that they were probably going to be very cool.

And indeed they were.


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[ATTENDED: September 12, 2019] Built to Spill

After the last time I saw Built to Spill (which was amazing), I felt like I didn’t really need to see them again.  The show was excellent and I was right in front of Doug–an amazing vantage point.

Then he announced he was touring the Keep It Like a Secret album.  This is the album that introduced me to the band 20 years earlier and it has some of my favorite songs on it.  So yes, of course I was going to go see that.  It turned out that the Philly show was on a night I was busy (but I did get a ticket just in case–turns out my plans changed but then Babymetal announced a show for that night so I sold my BtS ticket for and went to Babymetal instead).  But this show at Starland Ballroom was going to happen the night before my plans anyway, so I grabbed a ticket for this show.

I have mixed feeling about Starland.  If you get there late–and it’s a popular show–forget about it.  When we saw Death Cab for Cutie, we were lucky to get in the door.  So for BtS I left really early and got there really early and was about the 17th person in the building.  So I had my pick of where to stand.

Last time I saw BtS, I was right in front of Doug Marstch, like right on the stage.  It was incredible watching him from so close.  And yet, due to acoustics, I could barely hear him at all.  So I told myself that this time I would stand back and enjoy the whole experience.  But things got the best of me.  First off, there was a gate, so I wasn’t going to be right up against the stage.  But more importantly as I stood back in a sweet spot, I watch all these tall people push past me and I couldn’t help myself, I had to grab a railing spot.  So once again I was right in front of Doug and his massive amplifier.  I could hear the vocals a little bit better than last time, but again, it wasn’t the same as hearing the full band.  And, honestly I could barely hear the second guitarist.  So, I have really learned my lesson for next time.  But again, it was so cool seeing him work his magic up close that I’m willing to overlook some things.

But NEXT TIME, for sure I will stand back.

Oh and check out this cool poster for the tour.


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[ATTENDED: September 12, 2019] Prism Bitch

I hadn’t heard of Prism Bitch before this tour.  I looked them up and listened to their EPs on bandcamp and rather liked them.

They have great lyrics and a catchy punky style, including a song called “Tits Off” which I think they played but I’m not sure.  But mostly they have a lot of energy.

Before they went on, we could see their ankles and feet below the screen that was in front of the stage.  I was amused that they all seemed to be wearing different colors.  And indeed as the screen went up they were revealed to be all wearing matching Adidas tracksuits. (more…)

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