It had, admittedly, been years since we had had the privilege of witnessing Young the Giant live and in person. Even as such, it was normally in a festival setting, so the set was a bit different than the headlining tours offered.
I have the honor of speaking to a couple who spoke about how they have followed Young the Giant on tour, witnessing their growth as they travel and experience different landscapes alongside their favorite band. As worrisome as a follower might otherwise seem, this couple seemed genuinely inspired by the music, and were truly living their best lives in love.
And if I didn’t understand the allure of Young the Giant before, I certainly do now. The colorful set was full of some of the most incredible textures, patterns, and colors you have ever seen on stage. Fringe surrounded a disco ball, warm and cool colors collided in carefully curated layers to bring the music to life in a way I have never seen – nor felt – before. Instant goosebumps were felt, and maintained throughout the set while memories associated with deep cuts flooded my mind.
Smoke danced around us – hence the “smoke show” – and magic filled the air. The crowd absolutely erupted when “Something to Believe in” began, and continued at that heightened energy throughout “Cough Syrup”. And that was just four tracks into their 17-track lap around the city. (From the confines of the Starlight Theater stage, of course.) The gorgeous instrumentals and beautifully woven lyrics that we have come to expect from this band continued into the night, on one of the most unseasonably cool evenings Kansas City has had yet to see this year.
SETLIST American Bollywood Wake Up Something to Believe In Cough Syrup The Walk Home I Got Nothing’s Over Dollar $tore Cult of Personality Heat of the Summer Dancing In The Rain Mind Over Matter Firelight Superposition Tightrope Silvertongue My Body
Niall Connolly has never shied away from his own artistry. In listening to his repertoire you’re unlikely to sense reluctance. Instead, the folk singer rushes headlong into his music, laying his soul bare for the world to witness. “In this house, if you wanna cry, you can cry,” he sings on his latest album, The Patience of Trees, out June 2. And with a shuddering breath, we believe him.
The Irish-born troubadour has been a steady presence in the New York City folk scene, telling his musical stories across the din of nondescript bars and Manhattan’s broad stages alike. At every Connolly gig audiences are ushered into his world of unflinching honesty and disarming resonance. Whether listening to him live or on recording, the listener is wrapped in a strange combination of isolation and warmth, a mix that leaves a profound effect: one of having been held and lonely at the same time. This is Connolly’s unique ability to transform his art into something capable of providing tangible comfort.
The album’s first single, “We Don’t Have to Talk About It”, approaches the topic of self-harm in this same manner. “I know you get tempted by the third rail late at night,” he sings, acknowledging and stripping the power away from one’s demons at the same time. The latest single, “It’s a Beautiful Life,” gives an unrelenting perspective of the struggles many of us endure and, ultimately, the love that attempts to pull us through. The song evokes the painful journey through mental health and offers a unique perspective of the collective’s ability to triumph by giving voice to our experiences.
“Out of the Light” feels like an offering at the altar of Leonard Cohen’s emotional legacy. Thoughtful and serene but also spare in its hints of loneliness as he observes “every kind of messy road that leads to love.” Similarly, “Orchids at the Supermarket” haunts like a Nick Drake ballad, making beauty out of brokenness. Yet despite the gentle presence of such ghosts, the presence of Connolly’s emotionality makes each song the kind of experience that only he can create.
The Patience of Trees is enriched by the presence of Connolly’s friends and collaborators, including Mick Flannery, Anna Tivel, E.W. Harris, Javier Mas, and Warren Malone. The arrangements of each track serve as an echo of their lyrical power, emphasizing the story at the center of each song. Expansively, the songs stretch out across the album to create a rich journey full of remarkable souls and powerful experiences. At once demanding and exquisitely comforting, The Patience of Trees takes us into our own depths and offers us solace.
“The clouds were forming question marks, like the sky was doubting me,” he sings in “A Cloud on the Summer Sun”. “I’ve got every right to be here, as much as everyone.” While his songs take us into the caverns of human struggle, likely to cause the sharp, stabbing breath of resonance as the days, weeks, years of tamping down our emotions burst to the surface, the underlying tenet of Connolly’s work is always hope. Aggressive fucking hope. No longer the lame figment to punk theology. His words and his music welcome us into a world where hope and kindness are the bravest of things. In his house, if we wanna cry, we can cry, but ultimately we will heal.
If you want to be in your feels with me, this playlist is definitely for you 🙂 I love that all of these songs have a storytelling aspect to them that makes you feel like you are experiencing the moment/emotion with the singer. One of my favorite parts about music is that even if you didn’t go through exactly what the songwriter did, you’re able to understand and relate to the narrative in your own way.
On September 23rd, Lizzy McAlpine and Carol Ades took the stage at the Theatre of Living Arts in Philadelphia. Photographer Jay Lindblad was on-hand to experience the magic of the evening. He was enamored by the vocal nuances of each artist, who displayed live performance tactics that would indicate music industry experience far beyond their years. The mood of the evening was blissful despite the “sad girl” ambiance, and we got some snapshots to prove it.
…And you all thought we were going to get out of our SXSW 2022 coverage without a playlist featuring all of the artists we were excited to discover at the festival this year. Nope! We hit the pavement listening for incredible acts, and got a lot of international artists on our list for up-and-coming greatness. Check out our playlist below, and let us know what SXSW artists you’d like us to add in for some more listening pleasure!
The indelible Tayla Parx performed for the masses at Day 1 of Dr. Martens Presents at SXSW 2022. The singer/songwriter/actress shared her incredible voice while the crowd – which was wrapped around the building to get into the party – went wild from both inside the venue and outside the gates. Her stage presence was absolutely off the charts, as she garnered everyone’s attention despite other activities provided at the event. (Can you say “free tattoos”?) With two Grammy nominations under her belt for writing credits on Ariana Grande’s Thank U, Next and Justin Bieber’s Justice, it seems like the songstress that is Tayla Parx isn’t slowing down anytime soon.
As the weather gets crisper and we snuggle up under more layers, there is a specific kind of music we yearn for. Nostalgia, warmth, fun. Luckily for us, polymathic artist Miles Francis gives us a run for our money with a curated playlist that provides a little boost of energy to keep us going through the cold winter months.
“breezy bass lines and smooth rhythms to keep it hot as the temp falls.”