Music Quickspins

 QUICKSPINS: Plastic Eternity – Mudhoney

 One of Seattle’s greats proves they’ve still got it.

Mudhoney, one of Seattle’s last alternative strongholds from the late ’80s/’90s, just released a concept album entitled Plastic Eternity on what they most like to talk about in their album: issues like pollution and fascist ideologies, and the political commentary that comes with it.

Plastic Eternity marks their 15th studio LP, which is no mean feat, especially for bands from that era. Clearly, vocalist Mark Arm still has serious topics to tackle in their songs. He starts off the album by yelling “Everyone tells me it’s nice to have me back,” which is completely true for those who love the ’90s. 

Staying true to the name, the album starts off with “Souvenir of My Trip,” which sounds like quite the trip. If you got Curtis Mayfield bongo funk and Dry Cell nu metal together in a studio, that’s what the instrumental sounds like on the second track. Then add Mark Arm’s psychonaut, spacey vocals and you have “Almost Everything” it takes to make a psychedelic song that even Hunter S. Thompson would appreciate. In fact, I think he would play this entire album on repeat. 

The instrumental in “Cascades of Crap” puts you in the middle of a desert. A Mad Max-esque desert, to be precise. The lyrics, however, depict the social satire that Gen Z wants. They are their own political commentators in this concept album. 

One of my favorite songs from this album was “Plasticity.” I mainly enjoyed the intro with the vocoder, that was followed by guitars and synths galore. The whole song consists of the singer naming plastic objects, not unlike Kanye in “All of the Lights.” Another song that I appreciated a lot was “Flush the Fascists,” because it’s another song whose title and lyrics feed into the political commentary that Arm sets as a solid precedent. The song depicts the band’s desire to rid society of fascists, or rather “flush ‘em down.” This is very much solidified when Arm describes them as “teeth that are rotten to the core,” needing to be pulled out.   

The song “Severed Dreams in the Sleeper Cell,” especially the chorus, sounds like a satirical answer to Rage Against The Machine’s “Wake Up,” which was coincidently used in the movie “The Matrix.” Where Zack de la Rocha (RATM vocalist) belts “WAKE UP,” Arm sings “We don’t wanna wake up now,” attempting to convey the message that people don’t want to get out of their day-to-day rat race.

Also, move over Justin Timberlake, Mudhoney is here. Where “Cry Me a River” is a tale depicting Timberlake’s unsuccessful relationship with Britney Spears, the Mudhoney track “Cry Me An Atmospheric River” boasts a manic Arm taking the persona of the weather on Earth who cares not “what happens to humans.” 

While the album isn’t bad, I feel like there is a quantity-over-quality issue here. Songs like “Human Stock Capital” and “Tom Herman’s Hermits” could’ve been killed off the tracklist and put in a vault for B-side releases. 

The other songs, such as “Flush the Fascists” and “Move Under,” give a hint of what the band feels towards our society. Yes, it is true that you can’t go into too much detail when singing about a pressing topic. However, the runtime of Mudhoney’s songs on this record are shorter in comparison to other alternative bands, and even compared to their own older hits like “Touch Me I’m Sick” and “Suck You Dry.” Overall, listen to your discretion if you want to hear old ’90s Seattle drug-infested-port-city mavericks rage against our society.   

Trial Track: “Almost Everything”

Score: 6.5/10

Interview Music

Enter: Sons of Rice

Sons of Rice sit down to talk about their latest album Guts To Skin

The music scene, especially Montreal’s music scene, needs more iconic and theatrical groups. What does this mean? Think about it: in the past decade, besides Arcade Fire, Half Moon Run, and (maybe?) The Damn Truth, we haven’t had anything of their caliber rise from this diverse and multicultural city.  

Sons of Rice is a duo that is trying to stake its ground in Montreal’s music scene. Enter Ram Sleibi and Bob Mood. Sleimi, who grew up with parents who are actors, stated, “I’ve always been passionate about filmmaking as a source of expression, but my priorities changed when I met a guitar player [Mood] who became my best friend. They met in high school at sec. three [grade nine], in the music room on the first day of term.   

In July of last year, they released their debut album Guts To Skin. Topping off at a short 26 and a half minutes, it seems a bit small for an LP, but don’t let it fool you, for quality is more prevalent here than quantity. According to Sleibi, the umbrella theme for the album is “Identity.” “Under the identity umbrella falls many themes: expression, diaspora, community, death, nationalism, and culture,” he said.    

Their writing process is “all over the place,” said Sleibi. When they first came together as Sons of Rice, they would tumble over lyrics, melodies, and chords while in the same room. Their process has changed drastically now, where Sleibi is in the producer chair. 

“Lyrics are equally written by Mood and I depending on the songs, and the melodies are also a collective effort,” he said. In terms of guitar, Mood is the man for that and Sleibi does the rest (bass, piano, synths, drums). This is due to them getting separated due to immigration issues on Mood’s side. 

Sleibi grew up in Damascus, Syria, while Mood was raised in Saidon, Lebanon. Consequently, the duo brings a touch of their Middle Eastern upbringing into their music.  

“We both have a natural sense to how we implement our Levantine Arab culture into our current music.” said Sleibi. 

When asked about their easiest song to write, Sleibi immediately replied, “Our ego trip ‘Suns of Rise.’” The reason for it was that the core of the track is a loop of a song from Asmahan, a famous Syrian singer. Contrasting with that, their hardest songs to write were “Come Happy Time,” “The Flame,” and “Chase Me Back.”

Unlike many artists, when asked about their influences, Sons of Rice don’t let other musicians/groups get in the way of their songwriting. “I’m mostly influenced by films, stories and people I know in real life,” said Sleibi. However, they do love ’90s/2000s rap and hip hop, Levantine Arab music and rock groups like Twenty One Pilots, Pearl Jam, and Jack White. 

The title of the album Guts To Skin is a lyric in their song “Suns of Rise.” The full line is “Guts to skin is not enough,” which tells the audience that they, as a duo, are not done with just one album. 

“It is not going to be enough for us to express what we feel, and we are also aware that it won’t be enough for the listener to fully trust us into becoming his or her new favourite band.”  

This album is what Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers was to Kendrick Lamar: therapeutic. “We’re human,” said Sleibi: “We think and we must express to share how what we think makes us feel to achieve a sense of relation between people that in return could achieve a state of peace.” 

As a final note, the future for Sons of Rice is working on a second album, but their main objective now is to “offer a term [Sons of Rice] that can give people who use [it] a sense of belonging to one another, a term of unity.” 

Concert Reviews Music

HEAD: Concert Review: Sophia Radisch, The Space Wizards, and Steve Creep at Petit Campus

Triple threat bill hits Petit Campus

Last Friday, Petit Campus showcased three bands with different energies. If you got to the show in between acts it wouldn’t look like it, but once the bands got on the floor it was packed!

Steve Creep and The Wildcards opened the show, and they were tight. It was their first concert ever, let alone playing for the first time at Petit Campus! They had the energy of a band that was able to show their confidence onstage and prove that they were ready for this show. 

The Space Wizards came on next. They are a Montreal-native trio that mainly dabble in heavy blues and rock. It was their first show in ages, and they performed spectacularly. 

The trio has a sound that incorporates a dark, octave tone with drums that produce crash-heavy waves, filling the venue up. I remember watching them perform “Fill My Cup” pre-COVID and they were all the more tight, which is saying something. After the song, frontman Will said “My wah pedal was extra wah today, and that’s okay.”

In my opinion, the most memorable songs were “Mind In Tatters,” “Tonight,” and “On The Loose,” which sounded like a fight just broke out between the Greasers and the Socs and I loved it. The intro for “Tonight” came straight out of a porno, and the chorus’ line “let’s get down tonight” pushed that thought into my head each time they would sing it.

The last band that stormed the stage was Sophia Radisch, who walked onstage to shouts and screams from the crowd. She performed with tight and explosive session musicians: Zack Sarkissian on guitar, Sandro Ferraro on bass, and Justin Piedimonte on drums.

Radisch’s vocals are like the love child of Melissa Etheridge and Sinéad O’Connor. She employed that raspy voice of hers over the heavy chugs of Sarkissian’s guitar and the gritty Stingray bass of Ferraro. Piedimonte supplied the group with metal-influenced drumming that was off the board. 

The sixth and most memorable song on their setlist was “Ignite,” which featured a guitar change from Sarkissian. When they started to play, it “ignited” my memory, taking me back to when I was listening to songs from the band Our Lady Peace and The Smashing Pumpkins. It was eerily reminiscent of their song “Soma,” because they’re both littered with similar suspended chords, notably the verses. Guitarist Sarkissian laid in the licks and solos as a call and response to Radisch’s lyrics.

Overall, these bands added their own type of fuel to fire up the crowd. Quite frankly, you should have been there to see it. 

Interview Music

Shonk plays Across The Room 

Artist Gabrielle Shonk wearing her heart on her sleeve 

It has been three weeks since Quebec City native Gabrielle Shonk released her sophomore album Across The Room, and six years since she debuted her self-titled album. 

 Across The Room features 11 tracks, spanning a total of 40 minutes, and oh what a wonderful 40 minutes they are. Every song on the LP starts with an emotion, each one different from the other.

She started off playing the piano at a young age but quickly switched to guitar as the keys didn’t stick. Since then she released her 10-track debut which gained her a lot of traction with CBC and Stingray. Shonk has grown into her songwriting style after her last album and it shows in her R&B tinges and her ability to emit feelings of hiraeth through songs like “How We Used To Be” and “5AM.” 

Shonk had the opportunity to play her new album while opening for the Barr Brothers at Théâtre Gilles Vigneault last month.

The Concordian spoke with Gabrielle Shonk about her album.

TC: What’s the meaning of the album’s title, Across The Room?

GS: Finding the title came pretty late in the album process, it was probably at the end of the summer of 2022 when I had all of the songs recorded. I actually had a talk with my manager and he said to go through some of the lyrics and pull out some of your favourites, something might pop out. It is the first lyric of the first track  “How We Used To Be.” I basically finished writing all of these songs during the pandemic, being confined in my home office, so it was the image of me sitting in an enclosed space with all these songs and emotions. That’s kind of what had me choose that title.    

TC: Take me through your songwriting process, what comes first?

GS: For me it will be either melody or chord progression. So, like melody and chords underneath it almost simultaneously. Sometimes lyrics will come quickly to back it up as well. I am more of a musician than a writer so the lyrics take more time to come up with.  

TC: What was your favourite song to write, and what was the hardest? 

GS: I think my favourite changed every day. I love all the songs equally. Each of the songs has its own universe, its own thing. I couldn’t really pick one in particular. But the lyrics I am most proud of are the ones from “Let’s Shine Into The Night.” In terms of challenging, for the music it would have to be “Out Of The Blue” and for the lyrics it was “People Pleaser.”

TC: You said in your promo for the album that you had written the last song of the album “Quand le calme reviendra” while on a retreat to Gaspésie. What was it like and did you write other songs during your stay?

GS: Not ones that are on this album, so yeah I co-wrote a lot of stuff with my artist friends that were there with me. Everyone had songs and at the end of the day, we would each show each other what we had worked on in the group sessions. I have started songs that are a work-in-progress that I haven’t gotten back to that might be on the next album! Maybe?

TC: Have you ever thought of collaborating with anyone? I was thinking you and rapper “Noname” would make a cool track together.

GS: Yes I love her, I remember seeing her live at Field Trip a few years ago. I’d be super open. I’ve done it before too. My first hip hop track collaboration was with an artist from Montreal called Naya Ali. We did a SOCAN writing camp a few years back and basically, you get paired with a bunch of different artists from different genres. It puts you out of your comfort zone and it was extremely fulfilling. I worked with her on a song of hers that she released called “Time.”

TC: What was your favourite moment of your show with The Barr BrothersGS: I really liked going to the merch table at the end. It was really memorable because I got to meet new faces and interact with people who saw the show, especially from the fans of The Barr Brothers who discovered me through my opening act. That was really nice.

TC: What’s next for Gabrielle Shonk?

GS: Playing this album live for as many people and as many places as possible, that’s what I’m aiming for this next year, alongside writing new songs! I’m opening for an artist called Charlie Winston in Canada and the U.S. during April and May, and I will announce my fall tour soon.

Concert Reviews Music

Concert review – The Barr Brothers x Gabrielle Shonk

The mellow dynamic duo indie folk artist and band everyone wanted.

Gabrielle Shonk

We sat down in our seats and right on cue at 7:30 p.m., the announcer read out the lineup. He had barely finished speaking when out came Gabrielle Shonk with nothing but a guitar and her voice. She immediately started to sing her first song, “How We Used To Be.” 

Afterwards, before singing “Reminds Me Of You,” she spoke about how the song was about anxiety and her history of panic attacks, which was ironic because she was able to control her voice in an awe-inspiring manner. Her voice was honestly the driving force of her performance, as her guitar playing was minimalistic to complement it.    

Her song “Aftertaste” was a bit different than the rest of her setlist as it gave off a more bedroom pop vibe. Moreover, instead of using the drum kit sound that was used on the two other songs, she used the infamous 808 kit. I was a fan. 

The Barr Brothers

Where do I begin? They had the oddest stage setup for a band that I’ve ever seen (except for King Gizzard, they are second to none in that field). Singer Brad Barr had a mic stand that was covered in vintage light bulbs, and lead guitarist Brett Lanier was seated for the majority of the show since he was using his lap-steel guitar which had its own generously sized pedal board. The drummer, Andrew Barr, had various percussion instruments, and Éveline Grégoire-Rousseau, the harp player, had a silly horse head mask on her harp. The most sensible person was bass player Morgan Moore with his simple P bass directly plugged into the amp. 

The Barr Brothers are constantly trying to adapt and make new sounds while still sticking to the folk genre. The intro song “Burn Card” involved Andrew playing the guitar while his brother pulled a string against the guitar strings, making the instrument sound like a violin. 

For “Half Crazy,” the singer performed what felt like a five-minute-long intro of playing an Egyptian scale on his guitar with a slide. Grégoire-Rousseau had a distortion pedal which sounded spectacular. Having listened to this song every day on Chom 97.7 in 2014 on my way to school, it felt like I had finally come full circle to be able to witness it live. The song took a different, more jammy turn which involved the Barr brothers soloing off each other. 

Their encore songs were “Beggar In The Morning” and their single “It Came To Me,” which, while overplayed on a lot of radio stations (namely Chom), they performed them a lot differently compared to the studio version. It was overall a wonderful performance and the crowd gave standing ovations to both Shonk and The Barr Brothers. I would highly recommend going to see either act separately.

Graphic by James Fay @jamesfaydraws


The Grammy book of world records 2023

This year saw it’s fair share of new records

I wonder what goes through people’s minds when they say, “Oh I really want to watch the Grammys, it sounds like fun.” No it doesn’t. You proceed to sit on your couch for three-and-a-half hours and watch artists get award after award for their accomplishments. Most of the time the voters from NARAS (the academy responsible for the Grammy Awards) get things wrong (objectively speaking), but this time they were able to get some award/artist pairings right.   

So let’s start things off with American singer, rapper and flutist Lizzo. She just became the first Black woman in the 21st century to win Record of the Year. Her predecessor in the 20th century was none other than Whitney Houston for “I Will Always Love You.” When announced, Adele was the first to give her one of those big “I wrote 4 studio albums that are my age but you go Lizzo sister!” hugs and it was sweet.  

Actress Viola Davis, who starred in phenomenal movies such as Hidden Figures and The Help, got the EGOT status. What that means is, she is one of the few artists to have won an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony award. This is no mean feat, I assure you, as only 17 other people have achieved this status. She won a Grammy for the audiobook of her memoir “Finding Me” (how is that music? Anyways, every day we stray further from the light of God).  

Harry Styles beat Beyonce, Kendrick, Adele, and Lizzo, among others, for Album of the Year. This is now the fourth time that an artist has nabbed the “Album of the Year” award from the Renaissance artist. Clearly, Beyonce’s album did not get in formation last year just like how she was late for the award ceremony. 

But fret not, for Beyonce achieved a record for the most Grammy wins in history. This totals her collection to 34 awards! 

For those of you who don’t know, Questlove is an accomplished musician and producer, most known for being part of the group the Roots (they actually performed at JazzFest MTL last year). This year for the Grammys, he organized a performance that involved all of the legends from RnB and hip-hop. Artists like Queen Latifah, LL Cool J, Ice T, and many others graced the stage with their presence and MC skills that would make trap artists’ bones quiver. 

Also, shoutout to Randy Rainbow the comedian, who mispronounced the word “Valhalla” as “Valaha” in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. 

Graphic by Carleen Loney @shloneys

Music Quickspins

QUICKSPINS: I and II – John Frusciante

 RHCP guitarist delivers an album out of left field

If you like ambient noise or are a synth nerd that likes fiddling around with drones and beep-boop chatter, then you’ve come to the right place. John Frusciante, most known for his role as guitarist in the band Red Hot Chili Peppers, just released his 13th studio album.

While this album might give people like my girlfriend anxiety, I can safely say that it helped me zone in on tasks that I had to accomplish (for instance, this review). 

Frusciante is known for his creative prowess in writing music, namely on guitar. However, this album takes it one step further in the realm of ambient synth music.

While Frusciante isn’t wading in uncharted waters with synthesis, vinyl-only I and digital/CD release II take the cake for his approaching a different method of songwriting. In his words, he “listened to and made music where things generally happen gradually rather than suddenly.” He used two analog synthesizers or groove-boxes from the company Elektron to make this ambient album. 

The album starts off with a harsh cicada-like synth on “Golpin.” The “trees are screaming” sound slowly evolves, allowing a sub-octave oscillator to fit in the mix. Five minutes into the 12-minute track, the wave takes an eerie turn with a slowly descending plucked sound, giving me the feeling that I’m being watched and followed.  

“Blesdub Dot” first starts off with what sounds like a two-oscillator waveform that has a smooth low-frequency output. What that means is that the sound rhythmically switches to a lower frequency at a set interval. Throughout the song, Frusciante implements a high-frequency wave with high-pass treble glitch noises. They sound like white noise chatter. 

This album is a bit weird for me to have a favourite track on. I would rather choose the songs that were busier than others. The first one being “Pyn,” for its ’90s-style chatter that tickled my brain the same way that “Bucephalus Bouncing Ball [Chosen by Warp co-founder Steve Beckett]” does with its rounded percussive notes. My next recommended song is “Clank” because it would fit right into the official soundtrack of a thriller or eerie movie.  

Honestly, I can say I enjoyed listening to this album. It’s not an easy listen for sure. In an age where music has to have a lot of shock value (trap stars I’m looking at you), and has multiple sharp twists and turns per song, this LP takes time to introduce new ideas to you. Best for working on programming, writing Stephen King-esque novels and cramming for exams with forbidden white noise.

P.S. Don’t listen to “Glavation” if you get easily overwhelmed.  

Trial track: Pyn 

Rating: 8/10 (for ambient drones’ sake!)

Music Quickspins

QUICKSPINS – ATUM Act II by The Smashing Pumpkins

The ’90s post-grunge band releases the second act of their Opera Rock concept trilogy

The rock opera album ATUM (more like synth-wave opera) returns for Act II of III, after almost three months of anticipation since the first act. The story of said Opera Act is of an “epic interplanetary story set in the not-too-distant future,” according to Tinnitist

The first track is “Avalanche,” and let me just say, it could not be a sweeter start to the second act. Billy Corgan’s daughter steps into the limelight for the first 30 seconds, chanting the mantra “We hope someday we’ll find out what happiness means.” This was done by Corgan to ensure that his daughter didn’t get jealous. Why you may ask? Well, her brother (Corgan’s son) got a chance to sing on a previous album CYR, so naturally, Corgan had to include her. 

After a reiteration of the quote with a vocoder, a ’90s midwestern post-grunge riff leads the song into a wall of symphonic rock. You gotta give it to guitarists Jeff Schroeder and James Iha to give a feeling of carefreeness that really captures the story that Corgan wanted to convey.    

The album takes an edgy turn with “Moss.” Guitarist Iha employs a sinister chord progression. There is a backup singer by the name of Katie Cole who literally sings the word “meow” in the song. The main lyrics start, “You didn’t see what you saw, you didn’t hear what you heard,” which sounds like Corgan is showcasing how social media distracts you from big conflicts and bad things going on in the world with cat videos. 

“Night Waves” was one of the tracks that’s heavily pop-ified. Starting off with synth arpeggio — which wouldn’t seem out of place in a Wreck-it Ralph movie — the verses combine  Jimmy Chamberlain’s drums that have been bit-crunched to sound as though they were part of a similar retro 16-bit video game.   

The most notable songs on the album for me have to be “Empires,” “Moss,” and “Beguiled.” My favourite is “Beguiled” because it has the perfect blend of Siamese Dream / Melon Collie Smashing Pumpkins and synthp — sorry, rock opera Smashing Pumpkins. Sorry, Billy, you can’t fool some of us. The heavy buzz-saw guitar chugs with dark pad synths? Classic you!

Although it fell just short of what it could have become, as the peak of the trilogy (since it is the second act), the album just shows that they were able to adapt. The band was able to try something new and they were not afraid to put it out. For this, I thank The Smashing Pumpkins for not fading away from the limelight due to stubbornness. 

Trial Track: “Beguiled.”

Rating: 7/10


 Rick Astley sues Yung Gravy

 Did Yung Gravy just rickroll himself into a lawsuit?

What is Yung Gravy up to this time? Is he dating a pornstar? Is he taking Addison Rae’s mother to the 2022 MTV Video Music Awards? Nope. Rick Astley is suing him. You heard me right, the ’80s singer is suing Gravy for his song “Betty (Get Money).”

Astley filed the lawsuit on Jan. 26. Yung Gravy  — who’s known formally as Matthew Raymond Hauri — and his team had procured the rights to record similar parts of the melody and lyrics for the core part of the song’s backing track. In music, this is known as “interpolation.”

After all, it’s not uncommon for rappers and hip-hop artists to sample other musicians’ work, right? Unfortunately for Gravy’s case, it happens to be more complicated than that. In “Betty (Get Money),” you can hear singer Nick Seeley (Popnick) impersonating Astley, singing “Get Money” in the chorus. That was the final straw that led to the lawsuit.
According to SkyNews, Astley says he wants “the profits of the song.” He also wants the  “millions of dollars in damages.” Apparently, Yung Gravy had gone overboard. He toed the line, stole Astley’s voice, and had Popnick impersonate him, instead of just using the melodic track. It’s too soon to know the fate of the Rochester, MN native rapper. What do you think — did he do it for the rickroll clout?

Graphic by Carleen Loney @shloneys


Remembering David Crosby, a folk-rock legend

The Laurel Canyon pioneer is the reason why a lot of artists you know and love are even around 

If you felt a little blue within the past week, I don’t blame you. David Crosby, one of the music industry’s most influential musicians passed away on Jan. 18. He was 81 years old. While they were notified about Crosby’s death through an intimate sourve, “they did not disclose a cause,” according to Rolling Stone.

The folk rock icon was most known for his albums If I Could Only Remember My Name, and Oh Yes I Can, Crosby was a founding member of the band The Byrds — founded in 1964. The Byrds played for almost four decades until their retirement in 2000. Crosby was also a part of the supergroup Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, which was formed in 1968 by Graham Nash and David Crosby in Canadian Folk legend Joni Mitchell’s living room in Laurel Canyon, no less!  

To top all that off, he also juggled a third project: his solo career, which spanned nine studio records along with three live records. Crosby even collaborated with the likes of legendary folk artist Joan Baez, ’80s hit savant Kenny Loggins (“Danger Zone”), Carole King, and of course the neo-jazz group Snarky Puppy. 

He has had a controversial music career, often blurting things out without fully explaining them, which has caused a couple other musicians to fire back at him, like Phoebe Bridgers. On more than one occasion, Bridgers has used profanity against Crosby through twitter, one example in response to his disdain for smashing her electric guitar on SNL. In 2016, CSN (Crosby, Stills, and Nash) disbanded after Crosby and Nash had a bad fight. “I won’t tell anyone about that, but I will say that the damage between us is irreparable” said Graham Nash.

He is survived by his friends and family; his wife Jan Dance, and six children Beckett Cypher, Django Crosby, James Raymond, Bailey Jean Cypher, Donovan Crosby, and Erika Keller Crosby. His fellow colleagues and musicians who played with him over the years have shared their grievances through Twitter, Instagram and other social media platforms. “It is with a deep and profound sadness that I learnt my friend David Crosby has passed,” said Graham Nash from CSN. American songwriter Brian Wilson shared his thoughts, saying “I’m heartbroken to hear about David Crosby.”

If you have the time, listen to some David Crosby today — trust me, you won’t regret it.  

Below is a list of songs that I recommend:

  • “Cowboy Movie” 
  • “The Us Below”
  • “Laughing”
  • “Orleans”
  • “Song With No Words (Tree With No Leaves)”

Why are concert ticket prices so high?

When will ticket distribution companies learn that raising ticket prices will ultimately ruin their rapport with customers?

Picture yourself going online to buy a ticket for your favourite artist or group. You’re ready to spend your hard-earned cash to experience a live show. With dismay, upon checking the prices of just the nosebleed section tickets, you put your laptop away in disgust.  

In my case, it was ’90s Québec star Daniel Bélanger. He’s most known for writing hits like “Les Deux Printemps” and “Rêver Mieux.” I figured tickets to see him live would cost around $60 a piece, max $75. Little did I know that when I checked the website Event Tickets Center, tickets ranged from $160 to $315. I’m sorry, but even if you are someone who is considered to be a national treasure of Québec’s music culture, that doesn’t excuse $315 tickets. 

Honestly, it doesn’t seem worth it to go see a single group perform live for that much money. Rock and rap fans have it worse than the other genres, too. According to data analysis conducted by FinanceBuzz, from 2017 to 2021, the average rock ticket cost around $160, while rap ticket prices averaged $135. These prices have not budged since.

That being said, bands do have to make up for expenses. They have to pay the venue their cut, and they have to pay their roadies, their sound technicians and their travel costs. Buying gear and renting studio rooms are expensive, and those expenses will grow exponentially once you go on tour.  

Who is at fault here? Is it the artists/groups, the venues, or distribution companies? Could we even blame “good old inflation?” I can assure you that it’s a lot more complicated than that. 

In the case of Taylor Swift’s The Eras Tour, it was the fault of LiveNation, who owns the ticket-distributing site known as Ticketmaster. LiveNation’s secondary ticket service, TicketsNow, and eBay’s subsidiary StubHub were reselling the tickets, charging fans upwards of $22,000. That’s the cost of like… four courtside Boston Celtics tickets. 

Will we ever see ticket prices drop? Probably not in the near future; however, artists are trying to help ease the pain of buying tickets. Pop star Caity Baser stated recently that her 2023 tour would “keep tickets affordable for all.” We have yet to receive a number on those prices. Sam Smith and Mod Sun are also charging less than the average, costing around $55 for the “Unholy” singer and $49 for the latter, according to SeatGeek. 

Hopefully, concert ticket prices will turn a new corner in the next couple of years because my wallet is skin and bone from last year’s and this year’s purchases.   

Graphic by Eric Wieder

Music Quickspins

QUICKSPINS: ATUM: Act One by Smashing Pumpkins

Billy Corgan and Co. have released yet another concept album, now in three Acts! 

To those who are saying Autumn is over, no it isn’t, ATUM has just been released! The Smashing Pumpkins’ new LP ATUM Part One just came out on Friday, Nov. 18. This is part of a concept album trilogy dubbed “A Rock Opera In Three Parts” that the band has prepared: Billy Corgan, James Iha, Jimmy Chamberlin, Jack Bates and Jeff Schroeder. 

This is their first full batch of content that’s been released since 2020, so you know they’ve taken their time honing their songwriting craft. Or have they slipped up? Let’s dive right in.

We start with the intro track “ATUM.” This instrumental track made its debut while the band was touring, before the release of the album. It honestly feels like one big epic sports sting that ESPN would use. Other than that, it introduces the album by giving it a sense of grandiose synthesis mixed with their buzzsaw guitar tone (courtesy of the Big Muff pedal that Corgan and Iha love to use). Keep that phrase at the ready, because there will be a lot more songs that incorporate this grandiose atmosphere.  

The second track on the album is “Butterfly Suite.” The more mature version of their single “Ava Adore” was released in 1998 when they were becoming more experimental with their tracks, incorporating electronic drumkits and bass and pad synths. They took it up a notch with “Butterfly Suite” by adding their post-grunge grittiness by using heavily distorted guitars. 

As for memorable songs from ATUM: Act One, songs like “The Good in Goodbye,” “Embracer,” and “Hooligan” reminded me of the many layers to a song Corgan would weave with each other. He truly has evolved from his seven layers of rhythm guitar in their 1994 release Siamese Dream

However, not every song was amazing or memorable. There were a couple that were downright questionable at the very least. “Steps in Time,” which was one of my top 3 tracks from the LP, had a great melody that became tasteless after it repeated for the whole song. 

Also Billy Corgan, if you are out there reading this, I just want to ask one question: What is the concept of “Hooray!”? Who other than you thought that “Hooray!” was a valid concept? Why is “Hooray!” in this album lineup? It’s like you, 1982 Prince, and a ’90s kids’ show had a lovechild.      

So, my honest thoughts on this album? It’s a great fusion of new synthwave with the band’s old post-grunge grit. Rock Opera? Maybe more like Synth Alternative Rock, but don’t underestimate it. Billy Corgan always delivers good content with concept albums.  

Trial Track: Butterfly Suite 

Score: 7/10

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