Maddie's Top of 2014

HAPPY NEW YEAR CYBER-PALS!!!! I can't believe it it 2015. To be honest, odd numbers aren't my favorite, but I always find that odd-numbered years bring me good times, and good adventures, so i'm very curious to see what the next 365 days hold in store for me. Before we get too focused on the future though, I'd like to take a minute to look back on all the fun I had in 2014. SXSW, Graduation, Warped Tour, Red Rocks and Riot Fest. It's been an amazing 12 months that led to new discoveries, new challenges, and plenty of funny stories. I've been lucky to share those with you all here, but thought we should re-cap just for good measure. Below you'll find my top 5 shows, top 5 albums, and top 6 (cause I can't decide) photographs of 2014. 


1) Jimmy Eat World's Futures 10yr Anniversary Tour, The Ogden Theatre, October 7, 2014.
This should be pretty obvious why it's my number one. My favorite band touring and playing my favorite album in it's entirety? I literally cried through the entire thing. Not kidding. It also was the first time i'd ever seen them live with one of my closest friends, who is also a super huge mega fan of theirs. It was such a special night for so many reasons. I still get goosebumps just thinking about it. This is a show that will never be topped for me. I waited a decade of my life for one night, and it was certainly worth it. (Check out my review of the show for Ultra5280 here.)

2) twenty|one|pilots at The Ogden Theatre, May 16th 2014.
This was the first time Laurel and I had been able to see our clique leaders live since our obsession began. We first saw the band at The Bluebird back in November of 2013, but had never even heard their music before that night. That show is what sparked our addiction, and so finally seeing them live, and being a part of the fan base that inspired my original curiousity? That was amazing. (here's my review for Ultra5280)

3) Riot Fest Denver, Sports Authority Field at Mile High, September 19-21st, 2014 
In one weekend, I saw The Cure, Weezer play their "Blue Album" in its entirety, In The Whale take their pants off on stage for the Broncos (in front of Mile High Stadium), and Wu Tang Clan. I don't think there need be more explanation. (Ultra5280's weekend recap)

4) Phantogram's rooftop set at SXSW, March 12, 2014
This one is a little different because it wasn't even a proper concert, but this set was definitely my highlight of SXSW 2014. We were on a rooftop in the middle of downtown Austin, watching a band who I'd never really given the proper time of day before, and I fell in love with their music then and there. It's one of those moments that's hard to believe is real.

5) Lorde, The FirstBank Center, September 28, 2014
This show was probably the one that surprised me the most the entire year. I like Lorde's music plenty, but I usually really hate big pop production shows. When I was approved to cover this show for Ultra5280, I went in not fully prepared for what I would see, and found myself impressed with the young performer's poise in ways I couldn't have imagined. (read my Ultra5280 review for it here).


1) Hozier, Hozier
I told you all in my New Music Tuesday post about this album that i'd picked it as my top record of the year, and I've come through as promised. Check out my post about how much I love this record, and then give it a listen. I doubt you'll find yourself able to disagree. 

2) Alt-J, This Is All Yours
My undying love for Alt-J has only been progressed by the release of their new album. Weird, quirkly, melodically unique, and musically daring, this quartet is the front of new music. I might not be able to understand 75% of their lyrics (and the other 25% don't make sense), but I don't care. I love it. 

3) Against Me!, Transgender Dysphoria Blues
This record speaks for itself. One of the most well-respected punk rock groups of the modern era releasing an album that their lead singer ends up using as her coming out letter as transgendered? How much more punk can you get? The album is catchy, endearing, and a real statement of the times. I love it.

4) Broods, Evergreen
I got to spend an afternoon interviewing Broods' lead vocalist Georgia Knott, and after speaking with her, I felt like I could connect to this album on an ever deeper level. This young band is making promising music for being brand spanking new. The songs are catchy, the lyrics are honest, and the radio play it got this year is ridiculous. No way i couldn't pick it.

5) Manchester Orhestra, COPE. 
Although I haven't been a Manchester Orchestra fan for very long, seeing them perform live this past April was like finally eating a food I had no idea i'd been craving for months. A wondrous mix of alternative rock, melodic chorus', and heartfelt lyrics, the album COPE really feels like the bands most progressive album yet. 


I genuinely couldn't decide which one of these six to knock out for submission for Ultra5280's end of year recap, so I submitted them all, and I'm sticking to that for my own post here. I really didn't photograph as much in 2014 as i did in 2013, but I still really love this top six. I feel like they perfectly capture my year in music. Here they are in order of when they were taken throughout the year. 

Cee Lo Green at Rachel Ray's Backyard BBQ | SXSW | Austin, TX, March 2014

Tyler Joseph of twenty|one|pilots, The Ogden Theatre, Denver, CO,  May 2014

Dua Boakye of Bad Rabbits at the Vans Warped Tour, Montréal, QC, July 2014.

Jim Adkins of Jimmy Eat World. The Ogden Theatre, Denver, CO. October 2014.

David Boyd, lead singer of New Politics. The Gothic Theatre, Denver, CO. November 2014.

Dan Wayne Sermon of Imagine Dragons. The Ogden Theatre, Denver, CO. December 2014.


please note that ALL photos are copyrighted by Maddie Casey, and cannot be used without her permission.

Riot Fest '14

sunset on Day 1

Smelly, dirty, rainy, and LOUD. If I could only use four words to describe this weekend, those would be them without a doubt. This past weekend was the Chicago punk-rock festival's second year in Denver, and although we weren't out in a crazy dust-bowl farm like last year, the patrons certainly made it fell just the same. 

Riot Fest was just a little different for me this year, because I was actually working for the festival, instead of just covering it for Ultra5280. I was managing the two VIP Areas available to folks who paid for the fancier tickets, and I had no idea exactly what I had gotten myself into upon arrival on Friday. All I knew is I would be working, music would be playing, and it would be awesome. My idea was fairly spot on, but it became quickly apparent to me that for a show like this, I would rather be off having fun than stuck babysitting adults. For those of you saying, "but Maddie, Tour Managing is babysitting drunk people! you LOVE this!", babysitting drunks is only fun when you know them...and there's not 300 of them in a big parking lot, left to you to manage alone. Can anyone say "herding cats"?

The lineup for this year's show was amazing. Weezer, The Flaming Lips, The Cure, Manchester Orchestra, Taking Back Sunday, Gogol Bordello, Die Antwoord, The Violent Femmes, In The Whale, My Body Sings Electric, Wiredogs, The Epilogues, the list could go on and on...there wasn't a single day I wasn't excited for, so I thought it'd be perfect to work the show and get guaranteed admission. In that sense, my idea was perfect, but I didn't know that playing VIP Manager would mean I was corralled into the VIP areas all day every day. I had assumed that I would be running all of the performer VIP's around all day, handling their needs, not playing liaison to the folks who purchase VIP tickets. Lesson #1 learned this weekend: job titles can be very deceiving. The job wasn't endlessly demanding or even that hard at all, I was simply keeping things in check, making sure the VIP areas were presentable, and that nothing was going wrong with the patrons or the bar. Lesson #2 learned this weekend: I am not good at not having stuff to do. If I come to work, I want to be put to work. I don't wanna be standing around just minding my own, I want either my brain or my muscles to be burning...I want something to challenge me. With no one around to present challenges to me, I found ways to challenge myself. Interacting with patrons, checking on the bar staff, running back and forth between the two areas, always chatting with the security staff to find ways to help them. I gave myself pet projects and made use of my time, building my day around what area I needed to be in to hear whatever band I wanted to catch. 


MBSE talking w/KTCL

Mile High &I getting acquainted


the view from the VIP area

As the weekend progressed, I settled into my role and found myself having more fun. Matt and Castro from Ultra5280 arrived on Saturday to cover the festival for the blog so I could finally start tweeting and Instagraming for them when I had the time. My friend Tyler came on Saturday night to have a religious experience watching The Cure (which he did. He loved it), and Laurel came on Sunday and watched me mosh to In The Whale early in the AM, and we jammed to 3OH!3 and Dropkick Murphy's later in the day. I ran into tons of tour family throughout the weekend, and finally saw some folks I hadn't been able to meet up with since I'd returned home. I hung with some of the non-profit guys I'd met through my time at Red Rocks from the Love, Hope, Strength Foundation and helped them celebrate getting 666 donors registered by the weekend's end. I even got the chance to help some friends from CU Denver get jobs as well that weekend driving artists to and from stage (on golf carts! I wanted their job, no lie. I was jealous). Lesson #3 this weekend: Sometimes not being slaughtered by your work is okay. Having fun and getting paid can go hand in hand without you making your brain melt and your body ache. 

your Ultra5280 crew representing!

Love, Hope, Strength hitting lucky #666

By the end of Sunday night I was sad to see the weekend go. Although I missed the farm atmosphere that last year had brought the show, having the venue so close this year made the weekend feel like less of a crazy commitment. It felt much more relaxed, and thanks to all the hay bails, windmills, and tractors, some of the country charm was still present. Sunday we were drenched by rain and my feet ached, but the weekend had been so fun that I didn't care; I already couldn't wait for next year. I was so excited to have had the chance to prove to the Riot Fest team that I can be an asset in any situation, and I hope that maybe next year I can do something that will challenge me a bit more while still being involved in this amazing Festival. I am soooo happy that Riot Fest has come to Denver - how have I been missing out on this for the past decade?!? Lesson #4 of the weekend: I work in the coolest industry in the world. I love my job, no matter what it may be that particular day. I can't imagine doing anything else. The little weekend break from merch and Red Rocks was nice, and it's amazing to me that it's been five months since graduation and I'm somehow managing to stay afloat working in this business. I know i'll hit rough patches eventually, but this has been amazing. I'm so very thankful.