Show Review: K.Flay’s “Crush Me” Tour Crushes in Colorado

Show Review: K.Flay’s “Crush Me” Tour Crushes in Colorado

I caught Flay and some of her friends - new and old - dancing together at The Black Sheep in Colorado Springs, CO. Since my first encounter with her one early morning on Warped Tour 2014, what immediately stood out was her lyrics: brutally honest, uniquely witty, and above all else, so personal and introspective it’s as if she’s speaking to your own life experiences.

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Everything In Transit

It’s a 90º Saturday morning at the end of September and I’m sitting in a Starbucks inside Sky Harbor International Airport with Laurel. There are few things that could feel more “regular” to me than her and I boarding another plane, heading home from another one of our musical escapades across the country. But this time as we fly home from Arizona, things feel different. 

I’ve been traveling or working or doing something every weekend for the past 10 weeks straight. From the middle of July onwards, my life has been a roller coaster of events, adventures, and life changes, but this trip to Tempe marks the end of my seemingly endless schedule.

This weekend has been something I’ve been looking forward to for a long time. Making a trip to see my favorite band in their hometown is something I’ve only ever done once before, so having the opportunity to go see Jimmy Eat World with such a powerhouse lineup (Brand New, Hozier, Manchester Orchestra, Thrice, Spoon) to accompany them? That was something I couldn’t say no to. It just so happens that this weekend, my favorite young band of recent years, Twenty One Pilots, will make their debut at Red Rocks. This will be their third headlining show in Denver in just three years, and Laurel and I have now watched them grow from playing the 600-capactiy Bluebird into the 10,000 seat majesty of Red Rocks.

As much as this weekend epitomizes the ultimate summer finale, it also signals the end of one chapter of life for me. Between flights and festivals, the roommates and I said “goodbye” to our beloved home of the past two years in August, and I moved into my own apartment for the very first time. Just before that, I had to replace my first car (which i’d just paid off in November) due to hail damage, and started working my first full-time “big kid” job in June. To say this has been a season change would be an understatement; it feels like my entire identity has been turned upside down, making me question something new as each day passes. This weekend will be full of fun, but as the sun sets on Sunday night, summer will officially end in my mind’s eye. Although it brings this exhausting season of change to an end, it also begins a new season of uncertainty as this transition period comes to an end. I must admit I'm been nervous about what will come next.

Last Tuesday evening, I got home from running errands to find a package waiting at my front door. It was the beautiful re-release of Jack’s Mannequin’s Everything in Transit, one of my all time faves. Sitting on the floor of my apartment, reading the newly penned forward from Andrew McMahon, it donned on me how fitting it was to be celebrating this record during this particular week. 

Everything in Transit is more than just a record title. It’s not named for a song or a lyric, but rather it’s a statement; a over-arching theme for that point in Andrew’s life. Nothing was the same for him, everything was in flux, and he wrote through the heartbreak and confusion of his early twenties with honesty and wisdom that I don’t think even he fully understood back then. His choice to take the time to reflect so deeply on his personal struggles in the moment is what makes this record so important to me and so many others, even after all this time. Really, how else do you sucker people into spending $50 for a vinyl copy of a CD they’ve already owned for 10 years? 

Currently, i’m going through my own time of “transit”. I am the same age, conquering all of those same struggles, worries, and life changes that Andrew was dealing with when he wrote this album. As much as I’ve felt alone and confused, receiving this package was the huge eye opener that I needed. It’s so fitting that as this record turns 10, I’ve now hit that same part of life, and can relate to these lyrics like never before - a beautiful reminder that everyone has (or is) going through this same struggle. I may not be a prolific songwriter like Mr. McMahon, but I’m going to do my best to really get back in the swing of blogging, because whether it’s just for my own personal reflection, or for whoever you all are lurking in the ether of the interwebs, it’s important to share that same reminder I got on Tuesday evening: we are not alone. The human condition is a shared one, and there aren’t 3 billion people on this planet for no reason. We’re meant to share in these experiences together. To share joy, to share fear, to share struggle, to share life. It’s been a tough few months, but now as I head into what I hope will be a slightly calmer fall, I'm working on taking deep breaths, and remembering my favorite lyrics from this period in Andrew’s career: 

“it’s good to be alive”. 

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. 

TOP FIVE SHOWS

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).

TOP FIVE ALBUMS

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. 

TOP SIX PHOTOS

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.

#SXSW14

It's officially been seven days since we got home from this year's South By Southwest (SXSW) festival, and man oh man, that came and went in a hurry. Laurel, Tyler Rima (bassist of Churchill) and I all drove down together and had what was potentially the most fun road trip of my life. I fed a Donkey an apple, Tyler hopefully got a sweet new work gig out of it, Laurel rocked some sweet new Colorado swag and was properly educated on Austin Food culture. We survived 14hrs of driving with only 5 CDs in the disc changer and did not kill one another...I feel like that's a success right there.

Last year was my very first time in Austin for SXSW, and it was more or less an accident. I had bought a plane ticket with the intentions of just going to see what I could see. I wasn't yet 21, so I knew that there'd be some potential challenges since almost every venue is 21+, but I was sick of sitting around every year wishing I was there. A last minute phone call from my boys in Air Dubai guaranteed me an exciting week when they asked me to TM (tour manage) for them, and from there everything was set. SXSW 2013 was easily one of the most fun weeks of my life. The schedule was grueling, the work even more so, but it was incredible. I was in a city filled with people who did what I did. All the big wigs I'd studied, the people I admired, they were all within a 4 mile radius. And there was me: caught smack in the middle of it all. I met some incredible people who offered me great insight and great opportunities. I made connections, shook hands, and handed out every last little "Maddie-sized" business card I could in between loading the van and herding boys cross-city to their next interview. It was fantastic, so when March rolled around this year, I couldn't focus on anything else. I was ready to go.

me, Tyler and Laurel in front of the infamous "Austin" sign. 

This year was different, but not in a bad way. I wasn't out there working for a band, I was there simply as "Maddie". With my impending graduation just around the corner, I wanted to focus on networking as much as possible. I have a terrible paranoia that I've spent so long unfortunately turning down jobs due to school that my opportunities will have run dry once I finally have the chance to take them on! My goal for this year was to shake some hands, take some names, and let the industry know I'm ready and coming for them. I tried split my time in Texas in half: one part networking, one part covering shows for Ultra5280. I got to photograph and interview a lot of amazing artists for the blog, which was a blast! (Here's a link to my Interviews) But not being on a schedule as tight as a band is on down there (7+ shows in 4 days, PLUS interviews? Can you say hectic??!?!) gave me the ability to stay and chat with interesting folks when I met them. I had the chance to watch new artists, which i loved! And much to my surprise, this year was just as productive networking as it was last year. Admittedly I was worried I wouldn't be in the right spots at the right times since I wasn't with a band, but I feel like I did pretty alright for being all aloney on my owney.

SXSW hasn't let me down yet, it's been two years full of fun and absolute shenanigans. Whether that's meeting the man who runs my friend's "OKCupid" account, physically bumping into Denver's King of Radio (93.3's Nerf) on a street corner at 2am, accidentally talking myself into backstage VIP at a potential Stroke's reunion show, or just sitting back and watching my musical friends do what they love most, SXSW never fails to surprise me. I'm only seven days out, but I'm ready and waiting for round three next year.

Click here to see my photos on Ultra5280's website!