Simple Plan headlined The Blame Canada Tour at Uptown Theater on Wednesday, May 18th, 2022. Along with Set It Off and Sum 41, they lit up the stage with their intense and joyous energy. Yes, despite the most gut-wrenching emo lyrics, these guys couldn’t help but lift the entire audience up with their stage presence.
Touring in support of their new album Harder Than It Looks, they pulled an array of crowd favorites out for our nostalgic enjoyment, as well as some great new tracks. The most relatable moment, however, happened toward the beginning of the set, when Pierre encouraged everyone to stretch before the ever-enjoyable “Jump”.
Al Olender is a songstress from upstate New York, with a knack for unraveling our biggest fears and emotions in her own words. As recent years have forced her to get to know herself on a deeper level, her music stages itself as borderline therapy for those of us who are muscling through tough times as well. Her first full length–aptly titled Easy Crier–is out now, and we implore you to experience it with your own ears.
“All I Do is Watch TV” has a title we can all get behind after being locked away during a pandemic, but the song itself is so unimaginably magnetic, and such a beautiful way to open this initial full-length of hers. The song itself is about dealing with the loss of a loved one, found in lines like “I read a book on grief, it told me to lay in bed.” Second track “Keith”–named after her older brother, who was lost too soon–is a testament to a life gone awry. Incredibly specific, yet viscerally relatable. She continues in this pattern with the delicate “Liar Liar,” which transports you to these moments and this intense feeling of melancholy.
“Djouliet” picks the pace up a bit, with notably light piano that makes the track, quite honestly, perfect for the summer months. The title track is infinitely relatable, as Olender discusses her experiences as though they are fleeting moments, passing her by on a screen. Her detachment–even during the pleasant memories–is incredibly notable, especially for those who have experienced any level of depression in their lives. And yet, she sings it all with an ethereal disposition, as though it hasn’t affected her at all.
But that is, perhaps, Oldender’s greatest superpower, as revealed throughout all ten tracks of this release. Her beautiful vocals feel untouched by any negativity, a slight release from the chokehold of seriousness that has seemed to enshrine us these past few months especially. And yet the subject matter is so much more complex. “Forget Your Number” is bittersweet and a bit vengeful, and we’re absolutely in love with it. “Neptune Pool” and “Minnesota Waltz” follow suit, employing silence between the notes to encourage a more emotional pull. “The Age” picks the pace up and layers in more instruments alongside boosted optimism. It serves as a quick one-two punch to get your heart rate up, almost blindsiding you with the return to delicacy in the final track “Mean.”
Keep up with Al Olender and her endearing music here.
You know that commonly used phrase “Never meet your idols?” Well, it’s controversial. It always has been. While your idol’s personality may be very different in real life than their perceived persona or stage presence, they will most likely still have inspiration oozing from them. In the way they carry themselves, the people they surround themselves with, and the projects they work on.
Singer-songwriter/producer Linda Perry (4 Non Blondes) has been navigating the music industry landscape for decades now. She has founded two record labels, composed and produced hit songs for a myriad of artists (Pink, Christina Aguilera, Gwen Stefani, Adele, Alicia Keys, Courtney Love, James Blunt), and continues to innovate in the field. And while she probably never would have described what she did as paving the way for women, her work has absolutely been doing that since the day she started in music.
So it was only natural that she sat on a panel of four incredible women to discuss gender gaps in entertainment, and how we can all work to close those gaps and give women more opportunities in music. She was joined on stage by four other indelible women in the industry, Carrie Colliton (Record Store Day), Ericka J Coulter (Warner Records), Tierney Stout (Vans), and moderator Lori Majewski (Sirius XM). All five have an inspiring body of work behind them, and legacies that will stand the test of time. To be in their presence alone? Absolutely intoxicating.
Then the stats rolled in on gender gaps and representation. Only 21% of musicians are women, only 12.6% of songwriters are women and only 2.6% of producers are women. Seeing that women are so poorly represented in the industry isn’t a shock, but those numbers are insanely low. Especially for the number of women who begin their careers in supporting roles throughout the industry, and are then pigeonholed into more administrative or side careers.
One of the biggest issues facing women’s approach to the industry? “You have to see it to be it,” explained Lori Majewski. You can always have ideas about what a career in your field could look like, but unless you can see other people like you taking the reigns and paving the way for others, it can be a difficult thing to grasp. Women in the industry provide beacons of light for others and are also incredibly well-formed mentors in some cases.
“I showed up big,” admits Perry, who has always held a makeshift torch in every space she has occupied. “I’m not the kind of girl the guys go after, so I’ve never had that problem. But I remember a couple of very big producers who would undermine my skills because of how I showed up. I was considered difficult through the whole process of the [4 Non Blondes] record. I read a similar story about Axl Rose. He was considered a leader.”
And she’s not wrong. Often, women who take a strong stance in their career are considered difficult to deal with and widely vilified, while men are considered strong and capable with the same attitudes and dispositions. This is across all fields, with biases affecting multiple aspects of the career climb.
Carrie Colliton co-founded Record Store Day – a vinyl renaissance that gets all generations involved with their local record shops on a yearly basis – which is celebrating its 15th year. She also runs all of the social media year-round, which increases leading up to the event. She admitted she has to restrict comments on posts with female artists, black artists, and children. This is because of the subject matters that often come about in the comments section. People on the internet are very likely to say sexually harassing things about photos of women, be racist in comments, and even say some pretty messed up things about children. Unfortunately, she found it to be a pattern so she had to take restrictive measures to keep the offensive comments low.
Besides protecting marginalized groups in the feed, Carrie has helped to spearhead initiatives that create a safer space for those communities. To increase visibility for underrepresented groups in the industry, this year, Record Store Day chose to implement a list of female-run record stores, and give each participating shop the autonomy to choose how they identify themselves to the public.
Record Store Day and Vans have partnered numerous times on collaborative efforts like special vinyl releases. This year, they released an album featuring groundbreaking female artists that benefits women-owned and operated independent record stores. They also hosted a list of black-owned record stores to ponder when choosing where to make those special yearly purchases.
The key to closing the gender gaps that currently exist? Collaboration over competition. “[Often there are] so few women in the room [that] they’re competing with each other,” admits Tierney, a fact everyone nodded in agreement with.
“Women are always going to work harder,” explained Perry. “It’s not a surprise it’s not a shock. It’s not even a complaint. We on this stage are always going to work harder for those who can’t right now so we can provide a safer space for all women in all creative and entertainment.”
Echoed Erica J Coulter: “When I stuck to my plan I took every step to get there. It’s not going to be easy but you can get there, you can get into this door.”
On March 18th at 1 pm, Isla De Caras took the International Day Stage by storm. In celebration of SXSW 2022, the Argentinian-based outfit brought their special blend of psych-rock to America, and we absolutely reveled in it. (If you need a track to set a particularly blissful mood, look into their music catalog. You will not regret it.)
TEKE::TEKE is absolutely phenomenal live. Hands down, their performance on the International Day Stage at SXSW 2022 was one of our absolute favorites. Their unique genre-bending sound, vibrant style, and enticing energy brought dozens of new listeners into the tent, dancing from the beginning of the first song. We definitely had perma grins on our faces, and were thrilled when they did a takeover on our Instagram during their stint in Austin.
If you haven’t gotten a chance to experience them yet, check them out on our official soundtrack. And peep the photos below for a hint of their vibrance.
It was between panels on Friday, March 18th, that we had the unique pleasure of meeting self-proclaimed “indie americana disco mama” Van Plating. She had taken over our Instagram account earlier in the week, and had done a phenomenal job connecting with our community. An incredible songstress and performer, she showed up outside of the convention center with a brand new hat that she acquired in Austin, and a gorgeous skirt that coincidentally coordinated with the mural we had planned to photograph her in front of.
On Friday, March 18th, we had the honor of meeting up with Tulsa, Oklahoma-based genre-defying outfit Cliffdiver before their official SXSW showcase at Cheer Up Charlie’s. The band was stoked to meet us, and had a less conventional – but no less interesting and fun – idea for portraits. As you will witness, we had them pose by the porta-potties on the patio at Cheer Up Charlie’s before heading down the street to take a variety of other fun and meaningful portraits.
Get to know the lively personalities of bandmembers Joey Duffy and Briana Wright (lead vocalists), Matt Ehler and Gilbert Erickson (guitarists/vocalists), Tyler Rogers (bassist), Dony Nickles (saxophonist), and Eliot Cooper (drummer) through photos, below!
St. Patrick’s Day was honestly one of the most enjoyable during SXSW 2022. In years past, it has been overwhelming, detracting from the fun of the holiday and the festival all at once. This year, we got to experience a host of amazing international acts that made the day a multi-cultural celebration for us.
The 2pm performance at the International Day Stage started with a DJ set by Bad Gyal Marie. Her set included a lot of incredible tracks from the early 2000s. (Who doesn’t love a good Tweet track, honestly?) We enjoyed this so much that, at one point, she looked up and said “I love the girls dancing in the back” after laughing with us a bit. She made a point to introduce the tracks and give some history on many of them, which was the cherry on top of the set.
After a few minutes, Yayoi Daimon took the stage. Her energy was an uplifting start to the afternoon, and her outfit was the best we saw in celebration of the green holiday. (I mean… LOOK AT THE CHAPS SITUATION!) Check out photos of both artists below!
Atlanta-based honky tonk duo The Waymores hit the ground running at SXSW 2022. They hit Broken Spoke at 6pm on March 15th, the Chicken Ranch Records Day Party at 2pm on the 16th, Velveeta Room at 8:30pm, and then Valhalla for an 8pm performance on St. Patrick’s Day. Their live set – by the way – was packed with an edge that you don’t normally find in traditional honky tonk music. The lyrics almost danced above the crowd as we enjoyed a special kind of chemistry between the two of them, accompanied by robust vocals and a feeling of freedom. If you didn’t get a chance to check them out during one of their (insanely amazing) sets, they’ve already added more dates into next month and will be spending more time touring throughout the year.
We got a few quick moments before their performance at Valhalla to snap some portraits on the storied Red River St. in Austin. Check out these beautiful photos – note the fun water bottle placement, Oh SXSW – and then make sure you head out to one of their energetic performances in the near future!