Lydia’s “Illuminate” Tour with HRVRD and Golden Sun The Parish in Austin, TX on April 5th, 2014
I’ll come right out and say that Illuminate has to be one of my top played albums ever. When the “Illuminate” tour was announced, I was both excited and nervous to hear the album played front to back. However, the night was everything I wanted it to be – and more. Sure, it may have been better with a female vocalist to do Mindy White’s parts, but once the songs started, that faded into the background almost instantly.
I missed some of Golden Sun’s set, but the part I did catch sounded like it would please fans of Circa Survive. The Meier brothers should very much appeal to fans of Circa – especially vocally. Their live show was sounded very crisp and confident, despite being a younger band.
Seeing HRVRD for my third time was just as entertaining as the other two. Frontman Jesse Clasen should be on every list of modern “talented vocalists” in this scene. He effortlessly plays multiple instruments on stage – from the piano to the trumpet – while belting his lungs out and nailing every note. To truly understand this band, you really have to see them live. It’s a theatrical experience. Clasen came into the crowd with his trumpet to finish the set with “French Girls.” The buildup on “Cardboard Houses” was bolstered by his very animated stage presence. A band that gets stronger each time I catch them, HRVRD have their live set down to the t.
And then it was time. The members of Lydia were all smiles entering the stage on the last night of the tour. Immediately jumping into “This Is Twice Now,” the band wasted no time starting Illuminate. The whole crowd sang along at full lung capacity, belting every note along with frontman Leighton Antelman. Hearing an entire room yell out “Don’t you ever get lonely” on “A Fine Evening For A Rogue” or “It turns out you were into yourself” on “I Woke Up Near The See” – these are moments filled with such emotion that I can’t find words to even describe it. It’s a room full of harmony, but also a room full of memories crashing back. The first time hearing this in high school. The rainy nights listening to it. Headphones on with the lights off. It’s all in the songs, which is what made hearing the full thing live so special.
Seeing “Stay Awake” into “All I See” was the show’s highlight for me. The last two times I’ve seen Lydia, they didn’t play “Stay Awake.” Since it was my first favorite song of theirs when the record came out, it was great to hear this one live again – especially in context of the full album performed on stage. The song yielded the loudest chorus of the night, filling the entire room front to back.
Perhaps the most defining moment for me – and the one song I was most curious on going into it – was the record’s closer, “Now The One You Once Loved Is Leaving.” This is one point where I was particularly worried about the lack of a female vocalist, but Antelman was able to bottle all the emotion needed for the haunting and beautiful closer. In devastating fashion, the repetition of “And now the one you once loved is leaving” was just painfully poignant. As the song came to a close, I stood there thinking about all the times that record has finished for me. The late nights. Rainy days. Cold winters. Dark drives. It all comes back. Everyone there had a different memory to every song. And maybe that’s what made the words so powerful as the whole crowd sung along.
Just over five years old now, it’s no wonder Illuminate holds such a legacy behind it to so many people. As Lydia encored with three Devil cuts – “Devil,” “Knee Deep,” and “The Exit” – and Paint It Golden’s “Best Nights.” I realized how well the band can do both sides – the dark, atmospheric songs of Illuminate as well as the upbeat, spring soundtrack that is Devil. I find myself enjoying each of their records for a different reason, but Illuminate is the one that will always hold the most meaning to me. It holds more meaning to me than maybe any other record, and this night confirmed exactly why.
Lydia with From Indian Lakes
Stubbs Jr. in Austin, TX on November 10th, 2013
After a month and a half long stint on the road with Anberlin and The Maine, Lydia and From Indian Lakes decided to stay together for a few more shows, the last of which was in Austin this past weekend. Being my third time seeing Lydia since Paint It Golden released and my first to finally see From Indian Lakes, the show was quite exciting, as expected.
Now, I’ve heard nothing but fantastic things about From Indian Lakes live show and music in general in the past year plus, so I was quite interested in how it would be. Well, handclaps fired into the perfect opener selection of “Anything.” From this point forward, From Indian Lakes owned the stage, playing almost the entire Able Bodies in their 45-minute slot. The thing you really realize when seeing this band live is how jarring their song structure can be – the quick changes from melodic softer moments to sudden full volume moments dominates the room. Take the cathartic yelling of “Breaking my bones” during that track or the sudden yelling of “I think I wanted to get away” in “Paintings.” These moments of absolute chaos amid harmony really stand out in the live setting, and they stuck with me all night. The abrupt yelling of “I’m never coming back again” on “Anything” – every track had something. Simply put, From Indian Lakes’ live show speaks for itself, as the band changes tempos and moods like the flick of a switch.
The atmosphere of Lydia’s set was remarkably different than the past two times I’ve seen them – this time of year in 2011 and 2012. Both of those times, they were coming off of Paint It Golden, making most of the material fairly dark – that record, Illuminate, and December. This time, however, the mood was much lighter and airy, due to the airy spring vibe of Devil. About half the set consisted of Devil tracks and those b-sides, with tracks like the opening “The Exit” and “We’ll Never Die” putting the crowd in quite a cheery mood. It was a very different environment than what I was used to from Lydia, which makes complete sense due to the mood of Devil. The setup worked quite well for them, which comes as no surprise.
While a good handful of the songs were more recent, the band did play a solid number of Illuminate songs, which pleased me greatly. “This Is Twice Now” was entirely haunting, while the encore of “Hospital” featured frontman Leighton Antelman at his strongest point of the night throughout the chorus. The change in moods from atmospheric and dark to upbeat and light occurred throughout the set, with tracks like “Hailey” sandwiched in between “We’ll Never Die” and “Do You Remember” following “Knee Deep” into “Holidays.”
This Is Twice Now
A Place Near The City
We’ll Never Die
Do You Remember
I Woke Up Near The Sea
With From Indian Lakes having even more energy and emphasis live than on record and Lydia having a more upbeat atmosphere than normal, this show was definitely a memorable one. If you haven’t seen Lydia since Devil came out, I highly recommend trying to catch them soon, as the songs carry over quite well to the live setting – sing-alongs, people. I’m sure seeing the duo with The Maine and Anberlin was fantastic, but I was quite happy to be able to catch the two on their last night out following that tour.
So there’s no reason to deny or discuss my love for all things Lydia. With that said, half the reason I was so amped to go to their latest headlining tour was to see All Get Out again. The last time I saw both of these bands was in October of last year, where they both absolutely killed it – in entirely different ways, of course.
To be honest, I had never heard of Sweet Talker prior to seeing him on the list for the show. However, Kevin Fisher was quite an enjoyable live performer. His style is reminiscent of The Script, only with a little more of an indie-pop flare. His set was short, but he was quite a pleasant surprise. Both “Southern Belle” and “This Is War” were incredibly catchy and satisfying live, with the latter prompting me to my “check out” list after the show. To end the set, Sweet Talker went into a breathtaking rendition of “Hallelujah,” which, as risky as that cover can be, was spot on. Simply after seeing this short set, I have quite high hopes for Fisher’s upcoming record (which is being mixed currently).
The manic rockers of All Get Out attacked the stage next. The main thing I remember about seeing the band last year was their energy, but wow, I had no idea what I was in for. First off, keep in mind the size of the stage and venue – it was small and tight-fitting, to say the least. Well, vocalist Nathan Hussey may be one of the craziest, energetic, feverish front man I’ve ever seen. He raced across the stage and went all out rocking out on his guitar to belting lyrics at the top of his lungs.
The set was the definition of punk rock music. “My Friends,” “Me And My Lovers,” and “The Season” each carried a different type of dominance, with the last featuring Hussey absolutely losing his mind as he yelled, “Fall back.” All Get Out really couldn’t care less about their image or anything of that sort…they just want to play music as loud as they can, with as much energy as they can. This is a live show. Just as the last time I’d seen them, they closed with “Let Me Go,” which may have been the most intense song I’ve ever seen live. Yelling out “don’t let me go,” Hussey left the microphone behind and just yelled into the crowd. He then broke into a whisper to a dead silent room – I can’t even describe these chills – until the whole room yelled out the final words, dropped his guitar, kicked off a cymbal. This is passion you can’t fake; it was easily the most intense song I’ve ever seen live.
Switching gears entirely, Lydia were as intricate and lush as they were the last time I saw them. The venue’s atmosphere was perfect for them, as their wrapped-in-lights microphone stands glowed in the dark room. Moreover, their set list was full of unexpected tracks. Leighton Antelman took the stage alone initially, armed with an acoustic guitar, oddly starting with “A Camera Lens and Careful Days.” As a song I never thought I’d hear live, it was absolutely haunting due the crowd’s mellow singing and the lighting in the room. Lydia played a fair amount of Paint It Golden material, with “Hailey” being an absolutely chilling surprise and “Best Nights” having the whole crowd singing along.
New song “Knee Deep” has me insanely excited to hear their upcoming record, as it sounds exactly like what you’d expect from Lydia – it’s intricate and endearing. Of course, the Illuminate cuts (“I Woke Up Near The Sea,” “Hospital,” and “This Is Twice Now”) moved me the most. I stared out the window into the night, past the Christmas light fashion of the stage, as Antelman belted out “It turns out you were into yourself” during “I Woke Up Near The Sea.” As I watched, listened, and sang, all my memories of that record rushed through me, making the night all the more delicate and personal. As much energy as Lydia evoke on their records, their live performances – especially in the ideal atmosphere – are all the more poignant and touching.
As the night ended with Antelman encoring to his cover of “Stand By Me,” I stood thinking about how fast this past year has gone since I last saw him play that song live and wondering where I’ll be next time. That’s the power of a good live band, a band that can bring you places and conjure a variety of feelings and memories.
This is a show that has the best of both words – Sweet Talker brings pop sensibility; All Get Out bring their frenzied version of punk rock; and Lydia bring spectacular beauty to close it all off. 2013 promises to be a huge year for all of these bands, so go check out this tour as soon as you can.
Lydia with Valise, All Get Out, and Look Mexico – The Loft in Dallas, TX on October 9, 2011
Arriving at the venue, I knew All Get Out were opening for Lydia, which excited me as I’d been casually listening to their debut record, The Season. However, I had not yet heard the other two opening acts: Valise and Look Mexico.
I’d heard part of Valise’s sound check, which made me incredibly interested in their set, as they definitely had vibes of Circa Survive. Sure enough, the guys were rather unforgettable – especially for just an opening band. With their stunning vocals and solid instrumentation, Valise definitely turned heads throughout the venue. The highlight track was the ethereal “Monster,” as the vocalist absolutely dominated the closer. For fans of Circa or Tides of Man, I highly recommend checking out Valise’s EP, Dreamcatcher.
Up next was All Get Out. Having only casually given The Season a few spins prior to the show, I can honestly say I was floored by their set. Full of raw, rapid energy, the guys cranked up the music to full speed and played their hearts out. Channeling shades of Andy Hull, vocalist Nathan Hussey was a powerhouse on the stage. It was all fast and all fun, with All Get Out easily being the most energetic group of the night. That is not to say it wasn’t poignant and intimate at times, as “Let Me Go” was stunning. Better than they are on the record even, this was a band that really knew what they were doing – let alone how to amp up the crowd.
Look Mexico was the last of the three openers. With a sound similar to All Get Out, these guys were enjoyable, although not nearly as memorable as the other two bands. Matt Agrella could definitely hold his ground live, as the show was generally entertaining. However, at this point, the hype for Lydia was built to a max; the crowd was amped and ready to be amazed.
My Lydia fandom is hardly a secret around here, so it’s safe to say I couldn’t wait for their set – not to mention it was my first time seeing them live. It was everything I’d hoped for and more, with the intimate setting, lighting, and rain beating down on the windows creating a truly perfect atmosphere for their set. The crowd fit perfectly with the setting, singing along to every song of the night. Antelman stood alone while he played a stunning cover of “Stand By Me,” which in itself was a wonderful surprise. They played a splendid mixture of all of their material, even playing old fan favorite December cuts such as “December” and “It’s In Your Blood.” Still, for most of us, it was the striking beauty of the Illuminate choices, namely “Hospital” into “Stay Awake,” that were just…dazzling. The intimacy of the set and venue added such texture and atmosphere to Lydia’s set, making the show more than I could have hoped for.
When the show ended, Craig and Leighton stuck around to chat with fans and do signings, making the night all the more personal. From the great discovery of Valise through the final moments of “Smile, You’ve Won,” the night was absolutely spectacular. It’s hard to believe Lydia had been away for a year, as they played to perfection. All in all, it was everything I could have hoped for in a Lydia show and more. I cannot recommend catching this tour more if it comes to a location near you.
Lydia's Assailants has been one of my most anticpated releases this year, and although it is a little short and Mindy's absence takes its toll, the record is beautiful and captivating, similar to both of Lydia's previous, near-perfect (in my opinion) records. This will probably end up in my top ten this year.