On one of the most gorgeous nights of 2018 so far, Thursday, March 15th, P!nk regaled a massive crowd at Sprint Center in the heart of downtown Kansas City, Missouri. Bursting into the room in her signature aerial acrobatic harness, she came swinging in from a chandelier to “Get This Party Started”, as if there were any better way to make a grand entrance. Decked out in so much glitter the audience probably should have been wearing sunglasses, she bounced right into “Beautiful Trauma” and then a little throwback rendition of “Just Like a Pill” for the loyal fans who have been around to enjoy her incredible career for the last two decades. There were a lot of them, as the event itself sold out so quickly that the arena had to open more seats on the side to accommodate her midwest fanbase.
Which is really no surprise, as this woman has been setting the world on fire – literally and figuratively, if you count the pyrotechnics during “Just Like Fire” – since she started back in the last 90s. With a flare for the most athletic endeavors, her stage performance has taken a turn from upbeat pop maneuvers, to an intense and beautifully artful experience, replete with Cirque du Soleil-style acrobatics and bright, fun pops of color amidst glitter for days. Slowing it down for a soulful rendition of “Barbies” and “I Am Here” brought the crowd to their feet, belting out the lyrics with a fiery passion we haven’t witnessed at another show in quite some time. But not all the magic was found in the lyrics, though so relatable in so many ways.
But if ever our hearts stopped during a cover of “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, this was it. Dressed in a more grunged up look, the crowd went wild with her slightly more soulful vocals layered over those unmistakable guitar riffs and edgy flare.
P!nk incorporated her moving and incredibly heroic 2017 MTV VMAs acceptance speech into her set, bringing faces of every color, race, and ethnicity to the forefront in a little video that played while she was changing outfits. But the message hit very close to home, as we continue to deal with issues of sexism, racism, and other types of hatred. P!nk’s message is just as resounding as in tracks like “What About Us?” where she seems to call out people in power with her questioning, much like she did in 2011’s “Dear Mr. President”. And though she didn’t get to sing that song in particular, her rally cry could probably be heard for miles while thousands of women joined her in powerful, captivating song.
I personally got to enjoy the show with my mother and my sister, both of whom I have gone with to see P!nk’s previous shows. I will say it once and then say it a million times after, this woman knows how to impress. Not even for the sake of others, but you can tell she does this to prove everything to herself and to pave the way for other dreamers, which leaves little room to be disappointed in the work she does. We even got a treat this time, as the last show she came through held no encore goodness – Though, really, who is complaining? – with an exciting, Tinker Bell-esque performance of “So What” and “Glitter In The Air” before she disappeared into the night, most likely to get into a cuddle puddle with her adorable traveling family.
Keep up with P!nk here, and make sure to check out her Beautiful Trauma tour in a city near you!
Damn near close to the crack of dawn on Monday, March 13th, we found ourselves on our way into downtown Austin. One member of our party was extremely jazzed about going to see John Cena speak at an official panel for SXSW. Unbeknownst to us, that hour of time would convert us into real fans of the Cena empire – something we cared little for previously. After all, big muscles and rough ‘n tumble WWE nights are not our main calling. But that panel opened our eyes to the type of conscientious, kind, and practical businessman he really, truly is. And we think we could all take a lesson or two out of his book. So here is the panel in its entirety, courtesy of SXSW.
As if we didn’t make enough of a scene with the incredible uplifting support around the world during yesterday’s International Women’s Day festivities, there is more support on the way with today’s release of LEVV‘s “Hands on Me”. Inspired by her past struggles with harassment and the #MeToo movement, the track lends comfort to victims of sexual harassment.
LEVV’s vocals are smooth as honey, leaving an Imogen Heap-esque impression on the soul. The tranquil, electronic backtrack makes the song incredible addictive to listen to, changing the narrative to one of acceptance, beauty, and strength. We’re impressed by her harrowing story, and know that other listeners will find solace in it as well.
We’ve been inundated with a little too much fluff lately. And, while we’re all about being happy and upbeat and feeling free, sometimes you need to slow it down and enjoy a good song for what it is: emotional, dark, intense, and equally as freeing. This is the feeling you get from the first chords of Nathaniel Bellows‘ new track “To Wait”, which finds its exclusive streaming premiere right here, right now. As the song progresses, a dark and beautiful love affair brims within its lines for those who happen upon it.
If nothing else, this track reminds you that patience – even when you’re waiting for dissonance in instrumentals and the next line of a brand new song – is a damn virtue.
We caught up with Nathaniel himself briefly before the release of this new track to talk shop. Check out our words below!
How is your new LP, Swan and Wolf, different from your previous album?
With Swan and Wolf, I left the city and went up to Maine to record all the vocals and guitar tracks by myself. Being in that secluded environment, I was able to spend more time organizing, layering, and experimenting with how the background vocals interacted with the main vocal, which ultimately—hopefully—gives the songs greater emotional texture and depth. Another main difference is that, with Swan and Wolf, I worked closely with a mixer, Brian Losch, who really understood the mood and tone I was looking for, and which resulted in a more cohesive, consistent overall sound.
While The Old Illusions featured two of my drawings as part of the CD booklet, Swan and Wolf incorporates more of my visual art: I created ten illustrations that correspond to each of the ten songs on the record, which are available to view on the album’s website, and in a limited edition hardcover book that I produced as a companion to the music.
How would you describe the sound of Swan and Wolf?
As with The Old Illusions, I was looking for a very direct, spare, open-room sound, but this time, with a more polished, professional sheen. There aren’t that many elements in these songs, but I was eager to have each component sit within the mix in an organic, but ordered way. Overall, I wanted the sound to be clean and immediate, with a slight tinge of rawness, and the distinct presence of human imperfection.
Where do you find the inspiration to write?
I grew up in rural environments, so I’ve always been very inspired by the natural world. I live in New York City now and have written most of my music here, so maybe there’s something to the urban landscape that particularly inspires this work—perhaps the pervasive, invisible rhythms of the city? I’m not sure, but it’s definitely given me a lot to write/sing about (much to the dismay of my neighbors, I think!).
You are a poet, a novelist, a visual artist, and a musician. What got you into doing music?
Playing and studying music has always run alongside the other disciplines that I work in. I took piano lessons for 11 years when I was young, and I picked up the guitar when I went to college. I started writing songs around the time I finished college and went to graduate school as a way to explore a different approach to poetry, which I was mainly writing at the time. Ever since then, songwriting has slotted in among my other artistic pursuits in a pretty seamless and satisfying way.
How do you differentiate yourself from your music and your writing?
There is a definite overlap in my music and my writing. But with the songs, I tend to include more vernacular language than I would in a poem—the rhyming is more forceful and structured, and there’s a more deliberate symmetry in a song’s verses and choruses, which are choices I don’t employ so overtly in my poetry. Sometimes I use quotations in the songs in a way I might when writing fiction, but the songs tend to be blurry, abstract meditations on emotion, memories, events or images, so I don’t feel any need to crystalize these spoken scraps into something more narratively realized, the way I do when writing a short story or a novel. In all my work, I aim for clarity, specificity, and vividness, but with songwriting, I like to explore the tension between exactitude and ambiguity.
What was the inspiration behind your first single, “Keep in Mind”?
It takes me a long time to write songs, because they evolve as a slow accrual of ideas, generated in fits and starts, over months and sometimes years. I’m also unable to write lyrics in the absence of the guitar—the lyrics and music tend to evolve in tandem. I practice a lot and record drafts of the songs on my phone, and walk around listening to them to try to figure out what the music is attempting to evoke and express. It can take a while. Given all of this, it’s a little hard to pinpoint what the inspiration is for any one song, except that they usually begin with a central image or phrase, around which the song slowly congeals. In the case of “Keep in Mind,” I think it was the image of the seabirds mentioned in the second verse—the idea that they have an innate sense of where they are headed, how they are meant to live, all in their own mysterious and unknowable ways.
What is next for your career?
I am looking forward to playing these songs live in the upcoming months, after the release. I have also been working on a new novel—a contemporary ghost story set on a small island off the coast of Maine—and I’m in the process of finishing my second collection of poetry.
I frequently collaborate with the composer Sarah Kirkland Snider—our first record, Unremembered, a song cycle for 7 voices, chamber orchestra, and electronics, based on 13 of my poems and illustrations—came out in 2015. We are now working on a Mass for Trinity Wall Street, about endangered animals and the environment, which premieres this spring, and we’ve also begun work on an opera.
Los Angeles-based alternative indie band BADTALKERS is at it again, their new track “No Pity” slaking any thirst for high energy summer beats by seducing its audience with easy-going, feel good vibes. Simultaneously, the lyrics themselves are incredibly serious and topical.
“‘No Pity’ touches on the gun violence and drug epidemic in the United States,” drummer Christian Edusada explains. “We wanted to reflect on our daily experiences living in urban communities, as well as current events involving police brutality, protests, and acts of terrorism within the country.”
We caught up with the guys, and here’s what they had to say:
How did you all meet?
We met through mutual bands and mutual friends, a few years back and decided to partner up to do something different.
At what point did you know that this is what you wanted to make a career out of?
We realized at a young age that music is what we’d love to make a living doing. We understand how far of a reach it can be in this oversaturated market, but we’ll see how far we can go.
Who influences you musically and non musically?
Musically, we have a wide range of influences from NWA to The Smiths. Non musically, Anthony Bourdain.
“No Pity” touches on personal experiences…was it difficult for you to share that in a public sense such as a song?
It wasn’t very difficult to share, as it’s something we’ve become used to. We understand how difficult it can be for certain listeners that have been affected personally, and can heavily relate.
As a young person in America do you feel it’s harder to be taken seriously on stances such as current events and national issues?
It’s always going to be tough, because everyone is different. Some people are open to having a conversation, while others will believe what they want to believe. Whether people take BADTALKERS seriously or not, we’re just utilizing the opportunity and platform we have to voice what we experience daily.
Your music has a political point; Do you believe it’s easier to create a dialogue through art such as your music?
It’s much easier for us, since music and writing is what we we’re best at.
What impact do you want to make for your listeners as an artist?
We want to prove, as minorities, that we can grow and be successful in a market that’s overpowered by artists fabricated with attraction and conventional music. We hope this inspires others to work hard towards their goals, and not let others decide for them, whether they can make it or not.