LIVE @ THE HORSESHOE
All Photography by: Joanna Glezakos
All Photography by: Joanna Glezakos
By: Fridae Mattas
Additional photography by: Dipan Cheema
Last Monday December 8th, America’s first reality show musical group O-Town hit Lee’s palace in Toronto. First time across the border in ten years for their only Canadian stop on the reunion tour. Before American Idol existed and Puff Daddy took over Making The Band, there was O-Town. The last “Boy band” created by convicted con-man and alleged pedophile “Lou Pearlman” who is currently serving a 25 year prison sentence. You could probably find episodes of Making The Band’s first three seasons on YouTube. Unlike “The Backstreet Boys” or “N’Sync“, O-Town’s formulation was amidst Pearlman’s extreme legal issues. They didn’t even get the chance to sustain their momentum and stray from the boy band definition. The group released two albums and disappeared, until now!
Late August of this year, O-Town released their third record “Lines & Circles”. The first single off of the new record is “Skydive”, a fantastic mid tempo ballad that you can watch here. The current group is Jacob Underwood – Vox/Guitar, Trevor Penick – Vox, Erik-Michael Estrada – Vox and Dan Miller – Vox. The group once had five members, Ashley Parker Angel the fifth member did not want to partake in the reunion. But hey, that’s okay because from what I saw and heard, the quartet will do just fine without him! Never have I seen them live before, I was expecting the worst. I’ve covered or seen pretty much every musical group except “The Beatles”, “The Jackson Five”, “New Edition” and a few more because I was not born yet or old enough to migrate! Bypassing the fans waiting in line at Lee’s, I ran straight into the venue thinking I was late! It was five-thirtyish, the bands publicist told me my interview time was at 5pm. Turns out the band wasn’t there yet, I breathed easier, so glad that I made it on time.
Another media outlet was setting up their lighting across the room as I began unloading my gear. In the venue maybe five minutes before a guy walked over and introduced himself, his face looked familiar and the name Jacob rang a bell. One-fourth of the quartet and the business man of the band, which I later learned in my five second interview. Soon after the other interview began a blogger arrived to interview the group, adding to the time crunch. That pushed my interview back until she finished hers because mine was to be filmed, I didn’t mind for the time being. My priority was finding a plug to charge dead camera battery that was fully charged but somehow now dying…It was more than obvious that the Universe was being moody, something else was going to fuck up for sure.
When it was finally my turn, we were getting acquainted as I set up my tripod. Was being rushed to the point where I almost didn’t get the mic into their hands, nevermind check the audio levels! The guys were friendly and helpful, making suggestions on where I’d like them to be placed for the interview. After introductions I opened with “You guys are back! Why now?” Underwood answered with “Well, it was the right time for us, it has been difficult to get together in the past, with me living in Nashville and Dan being a father and all of our other projects. Now is the right time.” I can recall telling them their 2014 debut single “Skydive” was a good tune and asked if they were more hands on with this record? After thanking me for the compliment, they answered back with “yes” and a more in depth perspective that was lost amongst the static in the recording because my lip reading skills are not the greatest.
When I asked if they would do a reality show again, Dan was the most responsive, rapidly shaking his head “No”! We chatted about the difference of their first tour and this tour, at some point they were jibbering about visiting Niagara Falls (The big one is called Horseshoe Falls) before migrating to Toronto. Assuming it was their first time, judging by their excitement it sure sounded like it was. Niagara Falls Canada is the honeymoon capital of the world for a reason! The best time to see the falls is at night when they have the lights on, it looks too cool. Plus its fun to hit up a haunted house attraction and party there sometimes, on the Canadian side that is! Buffalo is ass! No offense Buffalo, I’m sure everyone notices how much it sucks compared to Canada’s Niagara and Toronto but, we are nothing compared to Manhattan. Oh yeah before I forget, single ladies…You are in luck! Three of the four are ready to mingle, as Jacob stated while he did the “call me” gesture on camera. They also chatted about their status during the show, playing the dating game theme song for shits and giggles.
It’s good to see them being responsible for their own careers. Underwood is basically the manager, handling most of the business, booking the gigs and apparently this is only the beginning, in 2015 we will be seeing a lot of O-Town! There you have it Townies, they will be heading back on tour, hitting a city near you in the future! Literally in four minutes that is all I was able to get. Not the interview I had envisioned…But tour manager Chris (I think that was his name) looked like he was going to have a nervous breakdown when he told me to wrap it up… I blame my tech issues on that half hour interview because they fucked up the whole rotation! So annoyed, I went straight to my generic wrap, pretty sure the band read the annoyance of being cut-off on my face. Now multiply that by seven and add a livid LeTawniyah on level ten. That’s how pissed off I was when I played back the interview to no sound, just static…Couldn’t even finish eating my poutine. Clearly, the Universe was not happy with the brief little snippet. And, after spending the last week trying to resurrect the audio from Monday’s interview, I finally gave up.
The opening act was “Todd Carey” American singer whose single “Nintendo” hit number one on the Billboard twitter charts. During one of the cover tunes, O-Town’s Jacob Underwood joined the stage to jam with Todd Carey and you can see how it all went down here. My ears were done after that, I had to find my ear plugs now! The sold out mostly female crowd was competing for the loudest scream, like Animals with the loudest mating call in the wild. Thankfully I was finally armed with ear plugs, they were my saving grace because that was only the beginning…Carey was good, a little too broadway and disingenuous for me but has potential, the fans were enjoying themselves. When Todd played his number one billboard twitter tune, my ears did not like that “Nintendo” song. The fans were screaming stuff like “Oh My Gawd, he’s soo cute” but not “I love this song” or any vulgar obscenities, that I heard anyway!
About twenty or so minutes after doors opened we heard a commotion near the parking lot around the corner. Photographer “D” made a sarcastic comment about how the group probably popped up to check the fans. His words rang true, the quartet ran to the front entrance along the crowd causing “Bandimonium” because most of the fans were still waiting to be let into the venue. It was pretty amusing to those of us watching this madness unfold. Apparently an older woman looked absolutely disgusted as she passed by. I was laughing, this was hilarious and obvious they still have an effect on Canadian females.
The set up was pretty basic, a computer played the instrumentals as the group kicked off their sold out set with the song that started it all, “Liquid Dreams”. At first I could not hear them over the shrill screams of five hundred or so grown ass women with a few boyfriends in tow and a couple of gays sprinkled in the mix. To be exact, two Queen’s dancing the night away in the middle of the venue like nobody was watching. Both myself and photog D, refused to even attempt shooting anywhere near the front of the stage. D was stage left, closer to the pit area and I just chilled on the steps by the sound booth, stage right. Was hoping to get decent footage without too many heads and hands…But of course the struggle was real, Andre the Giant’s daughter decided to wear stilettos and a messy bun to this concert…You can see her head bobbing all over my footage and she was standing below me…My weakness is filming in crowds without media pits! Wish I wore heels to make my 5’8 stature at least 5’11 or 6 feet and if only I could find a good spot to set up my tripod! Nowhere in the chaos was that possible.
They sang a mix of their new and old track’s, sounding absolutely tight without needing any live auto-tune! The performance shocked me actually, because my ears were liking all of their voices and that is rare when it comes to vocal groups. The only ones able to accomplish that thus far were “Boyz II Men” who are impeccable live, watch them for yourself on FridaeTV Youtube. As for The Backstreet Boys; my ears don’t really like Howie D’s vocals, N’Sync; JC’s vocals were the strongest, did not like the rest especially Chris’s tone. Occasionally Justin’s vocals were tolerable, the nasal whine in his falsetto still bothers my ears to this day. New Kids weren’t really known as a vocal group and 98 Degrees doesn’t even make the list! My ears don’t like any of their voices and they are so boring on stage. Saw them live when I was a youngin, it was the first time I was attacked by fans, all because one of the Larries handed me a rose. Never went to another 98 Degrees show or saw the rose again because the teenies yanked it out of my hand.
Right out the gate, O-Town could have done anything and sounded like shit, yet the fans still would have eaten it up. A great example was when Jacob decided to try something new where he threw and caught his mic during the hit tune “All Or Nothing”. My reaction to the little trick was similar to Trevor and Dan’s but the fans loved every second! You can watch that big tune unfold here. At least he tried it and in the end it worked out for him.
Toronto embraced O-Town with open arms, except for this douche behind me who kept yelling “You suck, you fucking suck!” during an acoustic performance of a song they’ve never done live before. It was a little rough as expected for a first attempt, it was a lot better than many “Rock Bands” have done on the fly. That man was aggravating LeTawniyah, lucky for him he disappeared before she was unleashed. The crowd was entertained without the bells and whistles of a huge production. O-Town’s talent and personalities we’re more than enough for the fans in Toronto. Next time, hit up the Phoenix where there is ample room for more fans and stage tricks ha ha.
My ears did not mind a few of the newer tunes like “Lines & Circles” and “Rewind”. Those songs stood out after briefly listening to the latest record and hearing them live. O-Town has been trying to gain respect in the industry, working hard to find a place in the world of today’s music as legit musicians. Is it possible for them to gain momentum in an era where everything is over processed and manufactured? I believe these indie underdogs of pop could slowly climb to the top! Ashley who? Keep practicing, writing and always remember what Drake says; “Started from the bottom now the whole team fucking here!” O-Town is Fridae approved, if you get the chance, go see their brand of non-autotuned musical infusions. Muchas gracias to D for assisting me in shooting the set, publicist Matt for all his help. And of course thanks to O-Town for taking a few minutes to chat, it was great to meet you guys! Reach out and I’ll see ya’ll in 2015, we need a new interview! Enjoy the holidays everyone and don’t forget to grab your copy of O-Town’s newest album “Lines & Circles” here in the US and here in Canada.
By: Fridae Mattas
Indie week 2014 happened back in October notice the visual editorials already published. This chick is not one to give up easy, had some tech issues that were solved and then a big project landed on my lap from one of my international clients. These past few months too many job offers and have been turning down almost everyone, dedicating my focus on my record and the new FridaeTV 2.0. Enough with the excuses right? Here we go, the rest of this jibber is all “aboot” the bands haha! Normally, I filter the bands for quality, however, due to tech issues some of the bands were not recovered. We can thank the universe for filtering the bands this time…Still, I would have liked the option to choose them myself. Thankfully the FridaeTV visual team shot a few bands I wanted to tell you about.
It was good to see familiar faces I haven’t seen in a while including a few Montreal & American friends. Ya’ll are too fantastik! Wish I caught more bands and saw more amazing people I didn’t get a chance to hang with! Festivals are a multiple venue migration for the media. We have to work during and after, people don’t realize editing and writing are the most time consuming and least favorite aspects of multimedia. Okay, let’s get with the program! British band New City Kings were the first band I caught at Indie Week 2014, it was not the first time I have seen them and it sure as hell won’t be the last! They put on such a vibrant performance, always genuine and not forced as it is with some bands I have observed. The passion is missing in today’s music, the majors are dying out and more than ever focused on selling product, not art. New City Kings definitely feel their music and everyone needs to check them out! Enjoy a few shots thanks to FridaeTV photographer Joanna and a tune I filmed below.
Next up was last year’s Indie Week Canada winners, Toronto’s Sumo Cyco. They hit the stage at the Hideout after New City Kings for the opening night launch party. For a while now I’ve wanted to see this band live, when they rocked indie week last year I always missed the bands set but finally mission accomplished. The band is a new school metal punk blend, vocals are different and much more aggressive than most are use to from former Canadian poptart “Skye Sweetnam” who fronts the group. It is rare to find female fronted bands that kick ass, Skye did a pretty fantastik job holding down the boys and putting on a show for people to talk about. I remember my photographer Joanna commenting on seeing Sweetnam before but this suited her much better, I agree!! Go see “Sumo Cyco” if you get the chance!
The next few that survived the Universe’s cuts were rocking the Hard Rock Cafe on Friday October 17th! First up was Laugh At The Fakes a local band who I had yet to see live, of course I was running late thanks to the always delayed subway. Hoping to catch at least one song, when I arrived at the venue I was praying they were still on stage and they were. Managed to catch the last few tunes, which were surprisingly well done. A little more confidence is needed from vox and guitarist Everett Mason, he has the skills, just needs to overcome the nerves because the guitar he was rocking sounded amazing and the vocals have extreme potential. Always trust your talents, they will guide you and all you need to do is believe in yourself as you refine them! Laugh At The Fakes has a bright future ahead of them and everyone should go see a set to see what I’m talking about.
The headliner at the Hard Rock Indie Week Metal showcase was no stranger to the stage, former Iron Maiden frontman Blaze Bailey rocked out with his band. It was interesting to observe his interaction with the fans, they were a bit aggressive and so into it. I’m surprised a mosh pit wasn’t formed, then again they were too busy trying to touch Bailey like teenies do for their favorite artist, fanboys! Bailey’s vocals are unique yet he is the epitome of old school metal, clearly there is a reason he fronted Iron Maiden. The band was crisp, professional and entertaining but the crowd just focused on Blaze Bailey. Once I got the best shots I could in the always horrible hard rock lighting, I migrated to safety at the back watching the enthusiasm of the performer and the crowd. It was a cool set, if you love metal and get the chance, go see for yourself.
The last few bands I managed to recover we’re The Rathburns and Dick Rodan at the Virgin Mobile MOD club for the best of the fest, the Indie Week finals! Was not able to recover many photos of Dick Rodan but for a country band they did pretty well! The crowd was loving them and it was obvious who the Dick fans were…They kept chanting “We want Dick! We want Dick!” as the band was setting up their gear, yes it sounded funnier than it’s read. They put on a very high energy performance thanks to their super drunk guitarist jumping and playing in the crowd giving people a set to remember.
Soon after Dick, The Rathburns hit the stage, did not recover any of the videos from this night just a few photos that I shot. Thankfully photog Kenny caught them the night before at the Hideout and got more photos. I want everyone to remember the Rathburns because one day they’re going to be huge. Vocals need a little work and the rest of the band needs to step up a bit but frontwoman Frances Rose does a spectacular job embodying her music. She has a special energy and can take this band to the next level with a bit more polishing. Check every single band mentioned and covered in this four part Indie Week series. The only issues other than the 500 wristbands was that my photographer had trouble returning to a venue after brief migration to shoot the bands she was required. All festivals have this same issue when it comes to media at festivals, we must have access to get the most coverage possible. Until next year my friends keep it rocking and who knows maybe I’ll hit up Indie Week Europe in Manchester!