Exactly one week before Old Man Winter and Mother Nature decided to join evil forces by bitchslapping Atlanta with a nasty ice storm which stranded thousands and turned the city into "Literally an episode of "The Walking Dead,"  Belle traveled from her native Alabama to see New Politics with Spank in Atlanta.

BELLE: Since the beginning of the writing of this review and its publication, Atlanta - and also Huntsville this time - were abused with more brutal winter weather, then a mini-heatwave and tornadic outbreak.   Gotta love our crazy southern weather! 

SPANK: Do you even understand the harassment I endured at the hands of my New York brethren over being stranded in my car for nine and a half hours over two inches of snow????  I think Hitler was as mad as me:

EDITOR'S NOTE: Since the rewrite of this review and its publication, Atlanta went from winter to spring/summer and we still haven't finished this post!  But we are together again and committed to bringing you -- the reader -- this highly anticipated review of the New Politics show (seen in January 2014).  SO... sit back, relax and get ready for some really dated information.  


BELLE: If you remember, back in September Spank and I had an absolute blast at Thirty Seconds To Mars' Atlanta show. New Politics was the supporting act for that show, and a new-to-us band. Spank had heard a few songs, and I had heard "Harlem." We were so intrigued by (what we saw) of their set that night we just knew we'd have to come back and see them when they were in town again.

SPANK: HEY!  You forget to mention that at that 30 Seconds to Mars show I fell deeply in love with the drummer from New Politics.  Until, of course, Jared Leto took the stage and I then remembered that I was actually deeply in love with Jared.  But then... at this January show, I once again rekindled my love for *looks over at Belle and whispers* What's his name again...?

BELLE: Lou, Spank.  His name is Lou.

SPANK: Oh yeah... Lou. *sighs dreamily* I really really REALLY love him.

BELLE: The band played at Terminal West with openers Sleeper Agent and Magic Man.  Spank didn't feel well so we opted to head to dinner before the show instead of our usual post-concert stop at a nearby Waffle House (BTW, Waffle House, we are still waiting on that sponsorship), thereby missing Sleeper Agent.  Sorry, Sleeper Agent!

SPANK: I didn't feel well...?  I was given last rites the next morning.  It was touch and go, dude... touch... and... go.

BELLE: Or ... like I said, you didn't FEEL well....!

SPANK: *grumbles*  Whatever.... The only thing that kept me from dying that night was how incredible this band was to watch.  I actually almost forgot I was knocking on heaven's door.

BELLE Oh come on, Spank... you know you'd be sliding down the chute straight to hell.  But, I agree about this band.  I'm so in love with them it's not even funny!  They released one of my favorite albums of 2013.  I love the energy of their live shows, even if it was only my second time seeing them live. Most of their songs are catchy, upbeat, and happy.  And they manage to make songs with lyrics about random casual hookups sound completely sweet and endearing.  

SPANK: I totally agree and a perfect example of that is Fall Into These Arms.  While we don't have our own video of that performance to show, you can't beat a song that includes lyrics such as this: 

Though we've only met I want to wake up in your bed.  Scars are beautiful to me, a heart that beats is a heart that bleeds.  On with the show, the world is our set.  I'll play Montague, you'l be Capulet.  There's no tragedy, tonight we are alive -- Fall into these arms and spend the night with a stranger like me.

BELLE:  The band sticks to a tried and true formula during the performance of that song with singer David Boyd standing on the crowd then immediately clearing part of the venue floor to break dance among the fans:

SPANK: Oh how about when they covered Justin Timberlake with My Love.  For a moment during that song I couldn't be sure if I was feeling faint due to my grave medical condition or excessive swoonage.

BELLE: I'm so glad you didn't die so we could enjoy this night together!  The band looked like they were having the time of their lives - and so did you, Spank, *rolls eyes* death bed notwithstanding!  To end the night, they took us to Harlem:

We are so proud to be able to say that we got to see them on their first headlining tour, and can't wait to see them again!  The Harlem USA tour is over, but you can - and SHOULD - catch them this summer on the Monumentour with Fall Out Boy and Paramore.
I have a deep relationship with music.  It fuels so much of what is inside me.  It speaks for me, to me and through me.  I also love music that has no personal meaning at all.  For that, I like it loud.

Why am I telling you this?

I never paid attention to Black Keys.  I know, I know... how can I be a contributor on a music blog without having ever bothered to listen to them.  It's just not my speed but I do acknowledge their talent.

So why now do I bring them up, you ask?

It all started when I took the latest issue of Rolling Stone to read while I soaked in the tub.

What?  I'm a single mom.  There's a lot of truth to what Calgon is selling.  Speaking of selling, I have no idea why Rolling Stone is in my mailbox every week since I'm not a subscriber.  I did, however, appreciate the recent issue with Kit Harington.  That man ... definitely ... knows ... something....

But, I digress.

There's an article about Black Keys latest record.  What first caught my eye was the notation that it was created from the band members "darkest days."  You can dismiss me as morose but I have oftentimes found that the best music comes from tragedy.... it's that form of raw pain that I most relate to.

Hmmm... maybe I DO have some issues.

Okay, so... back to my point.  The article references lyrics to their song In Our Prime. "The house, it burned but nothing there was mine.  We had it all when we were in our prime."


Coming from an acrimonious divorce where I walked away with nothing but profound loss, it slammed me.  Hard.  And I wanted to hear more.  So I downloaded their entire new album (wait... do we call them albums anymore?)

I encourage you to do the same.

Last summer I took my daughter, Marissa, and her cousin, Chloe, to their first concert! I have to admit - I kinda had an awesome time too!!

Before the concert, Marissa wanted pink hair, so I gave in and let her get pink extensions put in. My youngest daughter, Aleah, went with us and of course had to get one too!!

The show was at the nTelos Pavilion in Portsmouth (about three hours away from us). It's a beautiful venue and right on the water!

The girls were SO excited and had an awesome time!! The only two artists we really knew were Cher Lloyd (Want U Back) and Carly Rae Jepsen (Call Me Maybe). Icona Pop couldn't make it to the show, but we recognized Classified's song "Inner Ninja" from Sirius XM and we've now heard Nikki Williams' song "Glowing" on the radio a lot too!

I really wasn't a big fan of Carly Rae Jepsen or her style of pop music, but she actually put on a really great show - lots of energy and interaction with the crowd!

And Marissa, well, I definitely have a little live music lover on my hands - wonder where she gets that from!? ;) I'm hoping to find more local shows to take her to this summer!

Greetings Echelon and other Creatures of the Interweb,

Spank is FINALLY here to give you this recap of the Thirty Seconds to Mars show I attended at The Tabernacle in Atlanta on September 27, 2013 with Belle.  I do apologize it has taken this long but I had personal matters that not only kept me writing this but almost kept me from attending the show in the first place.

This was the third time I heard Thirty Seconds to Mars perform live.  I do believe the term "third time's a charm" is applicable here because while they were incredible each time I saw them, this time was definitely the best of the bunch.

I can write a love letter regarding every song they performed because, for me, this isn't just music.  It is a movement that rides on a wave of emotion that is felt in the pounding of the drum, the strum on the guitar strings, and with each and every word sung. That was evident to me when the band opened with Birth:

"I will save you from yourself. Time will change everything about this hell"

  (Not footage from The Tabernacle show)

This Is War is an anthem that speaks directly to the heart of anyone who has felt like they lived through a battle. Life can feel that way for me, and perhaps you, and it was a moment I needed to capture so you could experience this intense camaraderie with me:

The band mostly played songs from This Is War and Love Lust Faith + Dreams with a couple of tunes thrown in from A Beautiful Lie for good measure. Oh, and they performed their delicious cover of Rhianna's song, Stay.  Haven't heard it?  Here ya go:

(Not footage from The Tabernacle show)

You're welcome.

The band's encore began with Alibi (a song with intense personal meaning for me) and closed with their absolutely AMAZING song Up In The Air.  The way the show ended perfectly encapsulated the explosive energy of this night.  I began videotaping it but scrapped that idea due to my unwillingness to stand still, even for the sake of this blog. Thankfully, someone else WAS willing:

After the show Belle and I stood in a ridiculously long line just for the pleasure of having signed by the band a CD of music I already owned digitally.  But it was worth it as I'm pretty sure me and Jared Leto had a moment.  Or maybe it was just 30 seconds.  Okay, OKAY!  It was only 3 seconds.  But still... those were the best 3 seconds of my life!

I will never forget the moment, the moment.
I will never forget this night.
We sing, we sing...

On... on... on...
That's how the story goes......

September 27, 2013
Thirty Seconds to Mars
The Tabernacle
Atlanta, GA

Ever since my first Thirty Seconds To Mars show almost three years ago, I'd been eagerly anticipating their return. After playing an astounding 300+ shows on their last tour, which spanned over two years and earned the band a Guiness World Record for "Longest Concert Tour by a Rock Band," they're now back on the road in support of their fourth album LOVE LUST FAITH + DREAMS, a tour which kicked off with Friday's sold-out Atlanta show at The Tabernacle.

The Tabernacle is probably my favorite concert venue out of all the places I've seen shows over the years. It's historic, beautiful, and magical. Yes...I truly believe the place holds a very special kind of strange magic! But Friday's show almost didn't happen for Spank and me. I set out for Atlanta Friday morning not knowing whether Spank could go or whether I'd go on by myself if she couldn't. But after feeling more optimistic as each mile rolled away, I knew things would work out in the end. And did they ever! We literally found out at the last minute that the show (for us, anyway) would go on.

Thanks to some INSANE traffic in downtown Atlanta, we arrived at the venue a few songs into New Politics' (David Boyd, Soren Hansen and Louis Vecchio) extremely high-energy set. I had heard one song by them and knew that I liked it, but I was absolutely hooked after seeing them perform and have been listening to A Bad Girl in Harlem NON STOP since the show. My review was originally supposed to be only of New Politics' set, but with no set list to go by nor any usable video footage from the show uploaded to YouTube yet, all I can really tell you we heard for sure was "Fall Into These Arms" and "Harlem." And of course vocalist David Boyd did his signature breakdance moves:

(Note: this is not my video. This is not from Friday's show, but it IS from a few months ago at the same venue. You should definitely watch it anyway!)

So I usually briefly touch on the opening acts, but I have to say this is the first opener that I actually want to (and will) see again and again.

Spank will have a review of Thirty Seconds To Mars up shortly. In the meantime, here's a guest review from Catherine, whom Spank and I met at the 2011 Thirty Seconds To Mars show:

"The first time I saw 30 Seconds to Mars, it ended up being the best night of my life. When I saw them again for the second time last Friday, that night became another to remember.

I was once again thankful enough to be able to purchase the Meet & Greet package through Adventures in Wonderland (the last time it was from Golden Tickets though it was much cheaper (plus, I even got to sit on the stage last time, but it was far too expensive now...)). The Meet & Greet was before the concert, and once again I also met many fellow Echelon who are just as passionate and encouraging as I strive to be.

The package also enabled me to sprint up the interior Tabernacle stairs and onto the concert floor in front of the gated barrier (a spot that I had been cherishing the moment I bought my ticket) before the rest of the crowd. I even brought my camera, taking fewer pictures than the last time because I wanted to make sure I saw everything I could of Jared, Shannon and Tomo melting the faces of Atlanta's Echelon.

And melt they did. "Night of the Hunter," "Conquistador" and "End of All Days" were among the best of the performance, in my opinion. I was even happily surprised when Jared sang "From Yesterday" acoustically after hearing a request from the crowd. The show ended with "Up in the Air," as Jared beckoned many from the pit to be uplifted by security guards onto the stage. I was so happy to experience such a great show, but then it got better.

I cannot think of any other band who would stay after a show and be willing to sign CDs bought by ANYONE at the concert venue. Because they did this, my cousin was able to meet 30 Seconds to Mars, and I am pretty sure that made her week. I admit, I bought another CD just so I could meet them AGAIN. I just could not resist seeing more of the members of a band who have inspired and comforted me so much throughout the years.

30 Seconds to Mars only confirmed why I love them like I do with their performance last Friday. There was passion, a variety of musical abilities and an energy shared by all in attendance that I wish everyone could experience. The next time they are in Atlanta, one can bet that I will most definitely be there."

Thank you, Catherine, for sharing your review!

This is a bittersweet post for me, as my concert year has come to a close. This won't be my last post of the year, but it WILL very likely be my last review till 2014. Head out to see Thirty Seconds To Mars on this tour if you get the opportunity; you will not be disappointed. Also try to catch New Politics anytime you can; they really ARE that good. Till next time.....enjoy these great photos Catherine shared with us:

....and the story goes on.....

Friday, September 27, 2014
The Tabernacle, Atlanta, GA

Last night Butch Walker played at Variety Playhouse in his hometown of Atlanta, Georgia.  I have been excitedly anticipating this night for months!  Now, I first saw Butch Walker in the 1990s at a music festival when he fronted the band Marvelous 3.  If you're not familiar with his early work, please remedy that.  You won't be sorry.  It's hard to choose my favorite song by them but I am posting a live acoustic version of Cigarette Lighter Love Song because it is beautiful, expertly performed and really shows you how incredible this man really is with his vocal range, songwriting and all around f*ck-awesomeness.

Now you MAY be wondering if Butch played this song last night.  I'm wondering that too.  You may be scratching your head and saying, "But weren't you at the show, Spank?" Well, yeah... I was.  For a while.

I'm a single mom (cue the violins) and so in order to hit up this show on a school/work night I needed to employ what is known as a babysitter.  By the way, my babysitter is HOT and my son is going to someday be thanking me emphatically that she got to put him to bed:

Relax people! She's costumed as the Queen of Hearts for Dragon*Con, not a quiet night at Spank's house.  After leaving my kids in capable (and beautiful) hands, I ventured out to meet up with my friend Julie and after passing the storage facility for that which will give Batman a solid advantage in the upcoming Man of Steel movie

we arrived at the venue.  I was so insanely excited about seeing Butch Walker that not even the supercalifragilisticexpialidocious drunk chick sitting beside us could sully my mood.  But something did.

8:00 p.m.

Opening acts.

First up was Josh Fletcher who played a 30 minute acoustic set.  The music was mellow and he proved to be an engaging opening act, incredibly talented and was perfect music to set the mood as the venue filled up.  

8:40 p.m. 

Second artist to play was The Howling Tongues.  I'm hesitant to say much about this band.  In fairness, it could have been that they performed a sub-par cover of U2's Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses or MAYBE it was that they played for a SOLID hour, but I did not enjoy them much at all. 

9:40 p.m.

At this point I'm staring at my phone and calculating in my head how much money I'm paying the Queen of Hearts to watch my kids and feeling the knot tightening in my stomach.  

10:03 p.m. 



He walked out onto the stage, sat at his piano and opened with Amazing Grace in tribute to his father who passed away less than two weeks ago.  It was intense and emotional, and to share that deeply personal moment with him and his family was an honor.

I have chills again..... and tears.

He played a lot of stuff off his new record which releases Tuesday titled Peachtree Battle, written in honor of his late father.  Now, y'all go to shows so you know the joke about when an artist starts playing new stuff that's time to go to the bathroom?  The marker of Butch Walker's talent is that when he played his new stuff WE. SANG. ALONG!  The crowd was roused and excited and enthusiastic.  He is THAT good!  He also played some older songs which stand the test of time.

11:07 p.m.

We had to go.  We didn't want to.  We had to.  But just as we were readying to leave I turned to my friend and said "let's just see what he plays next."  I'm so glad we did.  One of my top five FAVORITE songs was played, "She Likes Hair Bands."

Forgive the quality but I was super excited and couldn't really stand still during this song!

After the song ended, we had to leave.  Did not want to.  HAD to!  So I don't know what other favorites he played but I will say that for the time I got to share air space with Butch Walker it was incredible!

To sum up.

Concert ticket: $32.00
Babysitter:       $60.00
A night with Butch Walker (even abbreviated): PRICELESS!

Please support this amazingly beautifully talented man by downloading ALL his music, including his new effort Peachtree Battle!

And remember to come visit me at my regular home on the Interwebs!

post by Belle

Since today would have been Alice In Chains' original singer Layne Staley's 46th birthday, I felt it appropriate to introduce a new category - The Ones That Got Away - specifically featuring bands (or in this case, the original lineup of bands) in their heyday which we will never get to experience due to death, disbandment, etc.

One of my favorite bands of ....EVER.... the Grammy- and American Music Award-nominated MTV Video Music Award winners Alice In Chains, with their original lineup of Layne Staley, Jerry Cantrell, Mike Starr, and Sean Kinney, is one such act that I would have loved to have seen when they first exploded onto the scene in the early 90s. Nirvana may have put grunge on the map, but AIC was also one of the most important bands to help carry that movement from Seattle worldwide. I must say that while I would VERY GLADLY go see them with their current lineup of Jerry Cantrell, Mike Inez, Sean Kinney and William DuVall given the opportunity, there is just something about a rising band's first shows that makes them beyond special. Can you imagine seeing a band when they're on the cusp of such profoundly huge success?

This is a recording from Alice In Chains' performance at Seattle's Off Ramp, recorded in 1990:

Video Credit: Jeremy's Channel

R.I.P. Layne Staley
August 22, 1967 - April 5, 2002

Image Credit: Google Images via smellslikealternative.net