Independent Artist Sawyer Fredericks Returns To Pittsburgh

Constantly touring around the USA, Sawyer Fredericks shows no signs of stopping on spreading his musical talent across the country.  Though only 20 years of age, this remarkable individual is authentic and raw with his deliverance when it comes to his performance. With a slue of close musicians accompanying him on this tour, you have Gannon Ferrell on bass, Jerome Goosman on guitar, and Chris Thomas on drums. These adroit fellows all work in harmony. The set consisted of old and new material. Mixed in with songs from his upcoming album “Flowers For You”, his most recent full-length release “Hide Your Ghost”, and older material from “A Good Storm”. He also did a few covers throughout the night, which in my opinion, blew out of the water. 

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You would think just based on listening to the studio albums alone, it would be purely folk/blues-based. Oh, how we’re dead wrong. Put together the instruments that are used for the live performance(s), and holy cannoli. It’s like rock folk in the best way possible. The storytelling within the songs is that of a seasoned veteran songwriter. I cannot fathom enough how much I would recommend seeing him in person. 

All in and all, Sawyer’s performances keep getting better and better. The first time I saw him was back in 2018. He was fantastic then, he’s even more potent with energy now. To top it off, he’s a genuinely sweet individual and down to Earth. Fame can be overwhelming to most, but for this young man, it’s made him work harder and want to spread his unquestionable devotedness to keep true to himself and his music.

Sawyer is soon to be releasing his upcoming album “Flowers for You” in the spring of 2020. Check out his socials and Patreon down below!

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On This Night of Ritual.. in Hershey PA.

Ghost brought it’s headlining tour to Hershey, PA on October 24th. This show was one of the many USA dates that the genre-defining ensemble has shared with us. As someone who has seen Ghost ten times on this tour, I can feverishly admit, it never gets old.

Ghost shows no signs of stopping with their stadium tour.  Hershey was no different in terms of amazing stage production and presence brought by Cardinal Copia and the Ghouls/Ghoulettes. 

Leading the crowd into what was to come, the intro “Ashes” began to play. Once the track had ended, the curtain dropped when their song “Rats” started to rock the stage. The Ghouls came out with as much energy as a toddler on a sugar high. This would continue throughout the night. Following the Ghouls, came out the frontman himself, Cardinal Copia. You would think for someone who’s seen them more than enough, I’d be composed and know to what expect. I do, but the energy that is poured out is so contagious. The line up of this era is no joke. 

Continuing throughout the night we heard both tracks from their latest single, “Seven Inches of Satanic Panic”. These tracks being “Mary On A Cross” and “Kiss the Go-Goat”. If you have yet to give a listen to these, I highly recommend you do so. The 60’s vibe from both songs is unreal. Let’s not forget to mention the stellar instrumental that is “Miasma”. At first glance, it gives the impression of being a filler song. Let me tell you, that is not the case with Ghost. “Miasma” being the banger it truly is, features Papa Nihil doing a hot jazzy saxophone solo. Another notable track that needs to be mentioned is “Mummy Dust”. Before the track, Copia will tease the audience asking if they would like, “Their taints tickled and their asses wobbled.” Of course, Ghost having the best fans ever shouted, “Yes!” Closing out the night “Dance Macabre” and “Square Hammer” was the icing on top. 

Ghost proves you can make music that is bountiful and has no limitations when it comes to imagination. Every album, tour, character, performance, and experience holds a unique individualized encounter for each fan and/or concert-goer. I’m looking forward to what 2021 holds in store for this one of a kind band. Ghost deserves nothing but all the success they have and what is to come. (On a fan note, thank you to the mad man behind this band. You have changed and impacted many lives. As one of those lives, it’s a debt I could never repay in a lifetime).

Although the USA leg of the tour may have ended, those in Europe are still able to catch them in November. Check out the remaining tour dates here.

 

Death Cab for Cutie Comes to Pittsburgh

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Forming in the late 90s’ comes the band Death Cab for Cutie. Originally a side project for frontman Ben Gibbard at the time… twenty so years later and the project has flourished into a well known modern group. Their unusual mixture of instrumentals and vocals proves for a smooth flow of music.  This current tour is in support of their most recent release “Thank You For Today”. The record is blended beautifully. It offers such an easy and peaceful listening. Perfect for a car ride or a lazy day.

Which was exactly what I did driving to the concert. Rolling up the venue and seeing the concert go-ers lining up was truly exciting. As someone who normally goes to hard rock or metal shows, it was surely a change of pace and atmosphere. The audience ranged from those in high school all the way up to people in their fifties. DCFC is a band that appeals to all ages.

The opener for Death Cab was a band called “Lala Lala”. I was truly enjoying myself when they came on. The lead singer Lillie has a beautiful voice. If you’re looking for a band to kick back and listen to, I highly recommend you give them a chance.

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Once when “Lala Lala” wrapped up, DCFC came on around twenty minutes later. They opened up with “I Dreamt We Spoke Again”, which is a perfect starter. The lights and music hit the mood just right. The show being outside, I was unsure whether or not the stage production would suit the outdoors, I was proven wrong. DCFC did an excellent job. The energy and performance were phenomenal. I’m sure thirteen-year-old self would be extremely pleased that I finally got to see one of her favorite bands from when she was in high school. If you ever have the chance and DCFC rolls around, definitely go see them. They put on a fantastic show.

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Avatar Has Landed in Pittsburgh

Come one, come all. Hear the glorious tale of how our King and Avatar have conquered Mr. Smalls on their headlining tour.

Tuesday, May 21st, Avatar came to town fresh off a successful trek at Sonic Temple Festival. This theatric Swedish band is no doubt one to see with your very own eyes. 

Before the concert had started, there was an intro track playing as an announcement noting that the King has entered the building. Followed by that, the lights had dimmed. Moments later the lights began to shine on the stage where the King slowly arose being seated on his rightful throne. Fans were chanting and cheering. The rest of the Motley Crue came out and began to play “A Statue of the King”. Frontman Johannes came up front to his podium to begin what would be such a momentous night. 

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The entire setlist was unforgettable. Only knowing mainstay songs coming into this performance took my expectations of what to expect and glorified it to one hundred. When songs like “The Eagle Has Landed” and “Tower” were up to turn, I was blown away. A moment that made me grin like a Cheshire Cat was when during the song “Puppet Show”, I had turned back to see a sock puppet being lifted up by a fan. 

Throughout the entire concert, Avatar had this energy that I had never seen in a band. The flow between the band members was a sight I absolutely indulged in. The love between Avatar and their fans, the involvement between the crowd and band is truly an amazing sight.

What makes Avatar different from the rest is that they are unapologetically themselves when it comes to their music and characters. They embrace being divergent. They relish in it. This was made clear when Johannes had made a few speeches in between songs. As someone who has felt “different” her entire life, it resonated with me profoundly. I highly welcome such bands who dare to be “the outcasts”. Who defines who they are, and are not afraid to be just who they are.

If the chance ever comes where Avatar is in your city, I highly implore you to go see them. Give them all the love and support. These lovely gentlemen were some of the most relaxed and grounded people I’ve seen in a long time. They deserve all they have and so much more. Tim, John, Henrik, Jonas, and Johannes were so attentive to the fans after the show. As someone who is an avid concert goer, I love seeing the band being so dedicated to their fans. 

I look forward to seeing them grow and migrating to bigger venues in the future. This will allow for so much more to be done with their stage set up. I can tell its begging for that day. No doubt in my mind, that time will come, and soon. 

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iDKHOW At The Rex Theater

The hot and upcoming band idkHOW came to Pittsburgh on May 7th. Compromised of Dallon Weekes and Ryan Seaman, this duo forms iDKHOW. Only being formed in 2016, the band members behind this project are already well versed with experience. Ryan was with Falling In Reverse and Dallon being from Panic at the Disco prior.

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Opening up on this tour for idkHOW is a little band called Superet. Coming in to this concert, I had not listen to anything ahead of time for them. It was a decision, I don’t regret. Why you ask? My response is, this is a MUST SEE band live. The frontman Max is the embodiment of Freddie Mercury. He has so much charisma. Superet’s performance was truly enthralling and captivating. If the Struts had a lovechild with Marilyn Manson (Mechnical Animals’ era), this would be it. Their studio album and EPs they’ve released are begging for attention. If you have not checked out Superet, you need to it. 

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Once Superet wrapped up and the setup for iDKHOW was complete. Ryan and Dallon took to the stage with fans roaring. Undoubtedly they have a dedicated fanbase. One thing had I noticed was the audience being filled with teenage concert goers. As someone who mostly goes to shows where the crowd is older, it made my heart soar to see the younger generation supporting the band they love. Throughout the entire set, everyone was singing and dancing. Even the parents were having a blast. To see one band bring so many people together, you know it’s something special. Ryan kicking butt on the drums while Dallon being suave with the guitar and microphone, made for an unforgettable night.

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Ghost Haunts the Land of Baltimore

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In this day and age, shock rock is nothing new. We’ve seen Kiss, Alice Cooper, Marilyn Manson, and so many more tackle this feat.  What makes Ghost different you may ask? Well, let me tell you. They take that genre and bring it to a whole new level. Ghost is known for their Satanic imagery and theatricals. Ghost puts their own twist on to their shows, albums, and aesthetic. Which is definitely showcased at their “Rituals”.

I was fortunate enough to see Ghost on three of these tour dates for their most current tour titled “A Pale Tour Named Death”. I’ve seen this lovely Swedish band nine times throughout the last year and wow. It never gets old.

This time being my first at the Hippodrome, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. However, my expectations were surely blown out of the water. The venue is absolutely perfect for an act like Ghost. At first glance it seems extremely modern, once you get into the actual theater and stage itself, it’s a completely different story.

Before the show began, I was slated for a meet and greet with Copia. My friends and were so stoked about it. Though the interaction may be brief between one and Copia, it certainly is memorable. I entered the area for the photo op, and completely froze when I met him face to face. We quickly lined up to take the photo. After that, he told me to take care and have fun. (I was grateful since I had another meet and greet the next day at their Upper Darby show. I gathered the courage to tell him, “Thank you for Ghost. It’s helped me through rough patches this year, especially with my depression.” I proceeded to show him my tattoo I got of him and he really liked it. If you ever have the chance to do a meet and greet, I would highly recommend it. The Cardinal is a super sweet individual.)

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After the meet and greet, I went to the box office to grab my photopass. I rushed to the concert hall to find an appropriate set up for taking photos. Little did I realize what kind of night I was in for.

The concert starts with the lights dimming. The intro “Ashes” leading into “Rats”, a fantastic banger of a song to get the audience hyped up. It one hundred percent does its job as an opener. The curtains went up and the Ghouls and Ghoulettes come out on stage to start up the instrumental. The crowd went wild and Cardinal Copia came on stage to start off a momentous night.

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Followed by Rats, was Absolution. The audience were putting their arms up during the segment of “Put your hands up and reach for the sky. Cry for absolution”. The energy you could feel radiating off from the fans was staggering. During the first three songs, one of my favorite moments occurred. “Rhythm Ghoul” came up towards my camera and I… and this magical photo happened. Taking that photograph felt awesome! The Ghouls are so charming and charismatic.

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After a few more songs, Copia had changed outfits into his black Cardinal outfit for “Con Clavi Con Dio”. He graced the stage with the entrance of him swaying a thurible. Which is a neat touch to say the least. Followed by that was one of my favorite songs they perform live, which is known as “Cirice”. This song is special to me because it has truly impacted my life. The lyrics “I can feel the thunder that’s breaking in your heart” is powerful. Also, one lucky audience member gets “Ciriced” during this song. I love seeing such intimate connections happen between fan and band members. Up next we have the iconic instrumental “Miasma”. The reason for this song being so illustrious is Papa Nihil’s hot jazzy saxophone solo near the end of it. If you haven’t seen his insane saxophone skills, you’re definitely missing out.

Concluding the first act was “Witch Image” and “Life Eternal”. Witch Image being a fan favorite off their album Prequelle, is always a delight to see performed live. The way how Witch Image leads into “Life Eternal” is breathe taking. Once when I heard the bells for Life Eternal’s beginning, I knew instantly that the song would leave me breathless. The content, style of vocal, and instrumental melt together so wonderfully. This being one of my favorite songs by Ghost, makes me extremely happy to know I’ve heard it live. One can feel the raw emotion when Copia sings this precious hymn. “This is the moment of just letting go. She said if you had Life Eternal”. The open interpretation of this song leaves so much open for the listener to decide what the song means. For some it could be just another track off the setlist, for some such as myself, this individual masterpiece leaves me crying and smiling every time in the best way possible.

Once “Life Eternal” had finished, the curtain dropped for the intermission of the show. Might I add, it’s truly a lovely thing to have. Especially for a seated show. Having that small break in between ables one to get refreshed for the second act.

After fifteen minutes, the audience took to their seats and thus began the second act.

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Starting off headstrong, began “Spirit”. Later on was “From the Pinnacle to the Pit” and “Majesty”. A standout for this half was “Satan Prayer”. Copia came out in a vampire fashion along with his cape he’s known for wearing during this song. I joking refer to him as “Count Copia” throughout this track. Hearing the fans chant, “Hear out Satan Prayer. Our anti nicene creed. For the cumming of seed” right back to the band all throughout the chorus gave me chills. The follow up for these songs are no disappointment. “Year Zero” and “Faith” go hand and hand. “Year Zero” has the energy while “Faith” packs the punch.

While the night was starting to dwindle down to the last of the set, Ghost covered Roky Erikson’s song “If You Have Ghosts”. Being a long time fan of Ghost, I know how much this song means to the fans. Many of us, listen to this song and it reminds us that we’re not ever truly alone. The “spirits” are always with us. Just like Copia mentions in his speech throughout IFYG. Some of my favorite lines from the variation of the speech are, “…if you’re going through one of the bad times right now, if you are experiencing one of life’s lows, remember that we need both highs and lows. So things can feel different. And remember that things change. For better or worse, things always change.” The way how Copia makes these concerts so personal makes me love and appreciate them that much more.

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Sounding off the of the “ritual” was “Dance Macabre” and “Square Hammer”. These two songs made the audience sing and dance their feet off. The riffs and choruses are so catchy and easy to lose yourself in. At the end of “Square Hammer”, the band took their bows and proceeded to exit the stage. You’d think they’d end off the night with a banger like “Square Hammer”, right? Not exactly. Copia came back on stage saying, “You’d think we give a shitty ending like that?!” Thus giving us the final encore of “Monstrance Clock”.

Overall the concert is a surreal experience. Any fan of metal and rock music will thoroughly enjoy Ghost. It’s obvious this once in a lifetime band will only continue rising further up with each release and success. I’m excited to see how far they will go. The sky is the limit for them. With “The Director” behind the lead of Ghost, it’s no doubt their potential is unlimited.

Ghost Performs in Sin City

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Ah Vegas.  Full disclosure, this is only my second time here, gambling isn’t my thing and, generally, neither are manufactured experiences.  There is, however, an allure, a temptation to revel in the tawdry displays of tourists on Fremont, convincing themselves they’re being entertained, convincing themselves that the shiny dress, the cheap suit, the almost fashionable, is real – even if it’s just for a moment.  The exuberance can so easily feel manic and desperate – a high that takes a wrong turn and becomes dark, feverish, and somehow sad.

But there are moments.  Moments when people come together to experience something they deeply love, that the bad trip is forced back behind joy, excitement, and connections with people who share a passion.

Ghost is a band that brings out that passion and excitement.  The community that gathers at The Joint in The Hard Rock is primed for connections – connections with each other and with the band.  Vegas is a notoriously difficult venue.  Artists have an audience that might have picked up the tickets at random, and there for a myriad of reasons where the show isn’t the primary focus.

Ghost, though, brings fans to them; as easily across geography as emotionally during a show.  Current front persona Cardinal Copia, deftly draws the crowd into his sermon – never stranding the audience in a lull, but carrying them through the changes in tempo with witty banter, and faith that, wherever he’s taking them, the journey will be rewarding.

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Cardinal Copia’s persona bridges priest and lounge singer in a playful, joyous manner that, somehow remains unironic.  And while he may lose a few of the less faithful during his earnestly delivered monologue on the cycles of depression and hardship to highs and loves that we all experience; more are with him.  It might be partially this supportive, positive, fun philosophy that backs all Ghost does that engenders such love from their fans.

It is the passion from the fans that is partially responsible for the current rise in Ghost’s popularity.  Passion, and a fun pop-rock accessibility that has been missing from the larger music scene since the eighties.  A pop rock that is backed with skilled musicians; clever, articulate songwriting; and a colorful, engaging narrative live show.

“Are you with us?” is a mantra of sorts for Ghost, and for Ghost fans. A question that is always replied with an emphatic affirmative.

Review written by Forrest Kenworthy