Asking Alexandria

Asking Alexandria header logo

In terms of all my rock genres, I don’t listen much to hardcore genre. I’m quite picky with the few rock bands I do listen to within this sub-genre. I do love heavier sound when it comes to my rock music. Hard rock has a heavier sound. Yet, hardcore takes it to a whole new level in my opinion. Hardcore genre is definitely an acquired taste.

I recently learned “hardcore” is the abbreviation for hardcore punk. This genre is known for its aggressive breakdowns within the music tempo. In my opinion, I find it has an overall louder sound as well. It isn’t uncommon for there to be three guitarists among the band members. Two electric guitarists and one bass guitarist. There is one common element in hardcore. Screamed vocals. Some of my hard rock bands feature sporadic bursts of screaming in their music.  But this particular component way is more prevalent in hardcore genre music. I generally don’t mind screaming in my rock music. But there needs to a balance the clean and unclean vocals. I don’t like listening to music where it is almost entirely screamed vocals. That’s is why I’m quite picky when it comes to hardcore rock bands.

Also, I’ve come to a fascinating realization. I’m no stranger to profanity being in my rock music. I don’t mind. I’ve gotten used to it over the past 12 years. There are levels in terms of profanity. Yet, it seems strong profanity is more common in certain rock sub-genres. Hardcore genre is one of them.

Last summer, I randomly discovered Black Veil Brides thanks to Andy Black’s solo album, The Shadow Side. I would spend the next few months basically hunting down any band interviews with Black Veil Bride members especially with Andy Biersack. The YouTube videos I came across sometimes involved BVB’s interaction with other fellow musicians. Black Veil Brides members are good friends with Asking Alexandria band members. I’d never heard of Asking Alexandria before this point.

I proceeded to check out their music on Spotify. I honestly had no idea what to expect. I was quite surprised to learn their music was metalcore. Regardless of what people say, I considered Black Veil Brides’ music to be within hard rock genre. Metalcore is something entirely different. In fact, hard rock is a smidgen more tame compared metalcore. I typically avoid metal rock genre. The rare exceptions are Nightwish and Within Temptation. Female-fronted symphonic metal bands from Europe. I struggled listening to more than a few Asking Alexandria songs. I didn’t mind the aggressively heavy sound. It was the sustained screaming throughout the song that really put me off. Not my cup of tea at all. I didn’t try to give them another listen until recently.

Asking Alexandria band members[From left to right: Danny, Ben, Cameron, James, and Sam]

Without further ado, I will provide some background information about Asking Alexandria. This rock band from York, England formed in 2008. It consists of five band members. Danny Worsnop is the lead vocalist and occasionally plays the guitar. Ben Bruce is lead electric guitarist and sings back-up vocals. Both Ben and Danny can play the keyboards as well. James Cassells is the drummer. Cameron Liddell switches the role of being rhythm and lead electric guitarist. Sam Bettley is the bass guitarist.

The Resurrection tour was co-headlined by Black Veil Brides and Asking Alexandria with Crown the Empire as the supporting opening band. I always prepare for concerts at least a month in advance. I had listened to Crown the Empire’s music. I surprisingly really enjoyed it. Hardcore isn’t my usual go-to rock sub-genre. I still wasn’t ready to give Asking Alexandria’s music another chance yet. So I focused on listening to only Black Veil Brides and Crown the Empire weeks leading up to the concert on February 9, 2018.

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The day of the concert finally arrived. I was bubbling with exuberant joy. Counting down the hours, I could feel the excitement exponentially growing inside of me. I had no doubt Black Veil Brides would sound incredible live. I’ve come across my fair share of BVB concert videos on YouTube. The thing about hardcore genre music is I don’t know if the band will sound good live in concert. Yet, I was going to approach the performances by Crown the Empire and Asking Alexandria with an open-mind. Rams Head Live is one of my favorite concert venues. It has great acoustics throughout the entire venue regardless if you are on the ground floor or upper levels.

To my surprise, Asking Alexandria sounded amazing live. I don’t typically expect too much vocal range with hardcore or metalcore vocalists. That is not the case with Asking Alexandria’s lead vocalist, Danny Worsnop. I was honestly impressed by Danny’s vocals. There was so much depth to his vocals. It really took me by surprise. He can effortlessly transition from unclean screamed to clean singing vocals. Also, his screaming vocal depth from deep growls to higher falsetto pitch screams. I’d classify the clean singing vocals as baritenor. There are very few baritenors vocalists in the rock genre. I haven’t encountered such a bizarrely fascinating vocal tone since Davey Havok, AFI’s lead singer. That’s saying a lot.

Asking Alexandria logoAfter The Resurrection tour concert, I’d changed my opinion of Asking Alexandria’s music off their newest self-titled album. It is a drastically different from their metalcore sound in previous studio albums. Yet, I can actually embrace this new musical style. Asking Alexandria album has a mixture of post-hardcore and electronica elements. I appreciate it when two unlikely genres can beautifully blend together. Electronica hardcore (aka electronicore) musical style is growing on me.

Electronicore is a fascinating fusion of metalcore and/or hardcore rock genre with electronic genre. Initially, I had very mixed feelings about this combination. But I am willing to be open-minded about it. This fusion sub-genre became more prominent on the rock scene during the late 2000s. Yet, Asking Alexandria was my official introduction to electronicore genre recently.

Sometimes, we’ve got to discover a band and/or genre a little late so that way you can truly appreciate it. There are very few rock bands I’ve discovered around their debut era. I fell in love with many of my favorite rock bands after they became more established.

It has been a little over three months since The Resurrection tour concert. I’ve listened to Asking Alexandria’s new self-titled album in full entirety at least 15 times. With each full listen, I formed a better appreciation for the new band’s new musical style direction. Electronicore is an acquired taste that takes an adjustment period. I look forward to the future music that Asking Alexandria will put out. I’d love to see Asking Alexandria again live in concert next time one of their tours come nearby me. It’s amazing how you can discover awesome new artists/bands when approaching music with an open-mind.

[Warning: This song contains profanity.]

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All Time Low

ATL Logo_1A little over a year ago, I stumbled across All Time Low’s music. It was on a random whim too. Last summer I obsessively watched Andy Black and Black Veil Brides videos on YouTube. All Time Low’s music videos for “Kids in the Dark” and “Love Like War” popped up in my suggested video section. It piqued my curiosity. I’d somehow never heard of this band despite listening to rock genre since 2006. “Kids in the Dark” and “Love Like War” were love at first listen. Ten years ago, pop punk and hard rock genres were my introduction to rock music. That’s why I will always be biased towards pop punk sub-genre.

I’ll provide some background information about All Time Low. This rock band is from Baltimore, Maryland. The band consists of four band members. Alex Gaskarth is the lead vocalist as well as rhythm guitarist. Jack Barakat is the lead guitarist. Zack Merrick is the bass guitarist. Jack and Zack provide backing vocals as well. Rian Dawson is the drummer. All four band members have been friends since high school.

all-time-low-members.jpg(Members in order from left to right: Rian Dawson, Alex Gaskarth, Zack Merrick, and Jack Barakat)

All Time Low formed in 2003. All Time Low started out as a cover band performing Blink-182 and Green Day songs. They have released seven studio albums since 2005. The Party Scene in July 2005. So Wrong, It’s Right in September 2007. Nothing Personal in July 2009. Dirty Work in June 2011. Don’t Panic in October 2012. Future Hearts in April 2015. Last Young Renegades in June 2017.

Pop punk genre was a huge part of my life from 2006-2010. Fall Out Boy, Paramore, Green Day, Cobra Starship, Avril Lavigne, and Boys Like Girls to name a few. All Time Low tackles a variety of subject matters in their songs. Even heavier lyrical themes are wrapped up into a catchy, upbeat tempo and pop-influenced melodies. In fact, emo pop is fusion of emo and pop punk genres. Emo pop was a popular rock sub-genre during the mid-2000’s. Pop punk and emo pop genres were an important part of my early to late teenage years.

Future Hearts album was released in April 2015. This album was my official introduction to All Time Low’s music. It was love at first listen. The two promotion singles for Future Hearts were “Something’s Gotta Give” and “Kids in the Dark”. My favorite non-single songs include “The Edge of Tonight”, “Dancing with a Wolf”, and “Old Scars/ Future Hearts”. Future Hearts continued the band’s musical evolution. There are still heavy elements of pop punk. Yet, All Time Low was slowly shifting to a polished pop rock musical style. Last Young Renegades was their official transition to pop rock genre.

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After getting into All Time Low, I proceed to listen to all their albums. I’m aware most longtime All Time Low fans are biased to So Wrong, It’s Right and Nothing Personal albums. I appreciate these albums. But my favorite older All Time Low albums are Dirty Work and Don’t Panic. From start to finish, I loved these studio albums much more.

After randomly discovering this band, I fell head over heels in love with All Time Low’s music within a few months. I haven’t felt like this in a long time. There is a plethora of pop punk bands. But something about All Time Low’s music instantly hooked me. I needed more of their music in my life. In a way, it had a Fall Out Boy-esque vibe. Talk about nostalgic flashback to 2007. Ironically, All Time Low was one of the supporting acts for Fall Out Boy on Believers Never Die Tour Part Deux in spring of 2009. All Time Low’s music transports me to a carefree time during my early teenage years. Life was much simpler during this nostalgic time.

The lead vocalist in one of the main reasons people listen to an artist or band. That’s certainly why I fell in love with my favorite rock bands. Pop punk and emo pop lead singers usually tend to have tenor vocal range. Alex Gaskarth has two octaves vocal range. That’s limited but not necessarily uncommon within pop punk sub-genre. Yet, I’m quite impressed by Alex’s incredible pitch control on recorded albums and during live performances. Plus, Alex does slightly exaggerated enunciation while singing. This provides clarity of what he is singing. His tenor vocals are still emotively soulful.

It only took 11 years to discover All Time Low’s music. But better late than never. I attended my first All Time Low concert on August 2, 2017. Day 1 of two night Baltimore hometown shows on The Young Renegade tour. (Side note: Rams Head Live is a fantastic venue! I was last here in February for AFI’s The Blood tour.) There were two ticket options for the Baltimore hometown concerts. General admission for $33. General admission, digital download of Last Young Renegades album, and table signing session for $43. I wanted to get the full experience for my first All Time Low concert. So worth paying additional $10 more for table signing session and digital download of the new album. I purchased my ticket on pre-sale back in early March. August 2nd and August 3rd tickets sold out within 1.5 days tickets went on sale to the public. Both ticket options were sold out! Rams Head Live released some more tickets…and those sold out like hot cakes. Damn that’s crazy! Plus, the Baltimore hometown shows were the first dates to sell out on All Time Low’s The Young Renegades US tour.

ATL Last Young Renegade tour poster

My concert preparation is making Spotify playlist of music from the headliner and opening supporting bands. In my concert experiences, the bands who open for the headliner have similar music style. Setlists help me narrow the songs the headliner will play during their set. Sometimes, a couple songs might change in the setlist. Yet, the headliner(s) typically sticks to the setlist. There is heavy emphasis on songs from the tour promoted album. Other older hit singles and few songs from more recent albums get thrown into the concert’s setlist.

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The day of the All Time Low concert finally arrived!  I was bubbling with excitement the night before the concert. Table signing session ticket holders had to arrive at Rams Head Live venue before 2 pm to check in. It was around one o’clock when I arrived at the venue. I began chatting with other concert goers in my vicinity. This was the only way to pass the hours before the table signing session with the band members. Apparently, I was one of the few people who had never attended an All Time Low concert. It was at least the second or third time for most of the concert goers.

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Danny, one of All Time Low’s crew members, checked in all the people for the table signing and meet & greet around 2 o’clock. The two groups were given different color wrist bands. Almost another 1.5 to 2 hours passed. I bonded with two girls who drove from PA for All Time Low’s hometown shows. It wasn’t until almost 4 pm when the line was ready for the table signing session. Most of us didn’t bring anything for the All Time Low band members to sign anyway. Thankfully, everyone for table signing option would get a free poster.

The line was quite long for the table signing session. I was somewhere in the middle of the long hallway when the table signing session kicked off. Twenty to thirty minutes passed before I was in the general area of the table signing session. My heart rate drastically increased upon seeing the band members less than 50 feet away. I could feel the excitement and nerves building up inside of me.

All Time Low band members sat in the order of Jack, Rian, Alex, and Zack. I forced myself to practice calm breathing exercises. I have tendency to stumble over my words when in the presence of my actor or band biases. Plus, you have less than one minute of interaction with each of them during the table signing. It’s important to keep the message concise yet still meaningful. To keep it simple, I’d tell the band members how excited I was for my first All Time Low concert in our hometown.

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img_2002-1There were five people ahead of me. I felt an exuberant fangirl smile forming on my lips. But I had to suppress it and maintain a casual thankful smile. I placed the free poster on the table in front of Jack. My hand started to shake. I managed to say my message without fumbling over my own words. Jack smiled at me then proceed to compliment my Linkin Park Hybrid Theory band tee. My heart exploded with feels. My heart was racing with overjoyed emotions. Jack Barakat is my favorite of the four members. It meant so much to me just to be given a simple compliment on my Linkin Park tee. At this point, I lost ability to say my terse message to the Rian, Alex, and Zack. I merely thanked them for this opportunity. When they were right in front of me, I couldn’t take photos without it being obvious my hands were shaking from the excitement. So I quickly snapped a couple photos before getting to my turn and at the end after the last member signed my poster. The staff efficiently moved the people in the line. All Time Low had to transition to the meet and greet session right after the table signing.

img_2003It was five o’clock in the afternoon when I transitioned outside after the table signing session. My hands were actually shaking pretty bad. Adrenaline was still coursing through me. It took another 10 minutes to breath normally. I stopped suppressing my joyous fangirl grin too. After composing myself, I realized I still had nearly an hour before being let into the venue. Venue was only letting in concert goers at 6 pm. No point in waiting in General Admission line that long. Plus, I needed to buy some food and water as it’s cheaper outside of Ram’s Head Live venue. Those two PA girls and I meandered nearby for food and water. Thankfully the weather had cooled down when we returned back into GA line. One of the Ram’s Head staff began rounding up anyone with a colored wrist band. We’d get to sit inside the same long hallway while waiting in GA line to get into the venue.

It wasn’t until 6:30 pm when I walked into the concert venue. There was a decent crowd on the ground floor in the pit area. I figured it was best to buy All Time Low merchandise before they went on later in that evening. The items at the merchandise was reasonably priced considering The Young Renegade tour date shirt was only $25.

img_2087I contemplated if I wanted to be on the ground floor or first balcony floor. I’d gotten my adrenaline rush of being close to the main stage thanks to AFI concert and Firefly music festival. I wanted to switch things up. Plus, I wanted to document my first All Time Low concert with good photos. It’s almost impossible to get decent photos while in the massive pit crowd on the ground floor. I wanted to leisurely enjoy the concert too. Not worry about being shoved and elbowed by random people during the concert.

The Wrecks, Waterparks, and Swmrs were the supporting acts for All Time Low. The concert started promptly at 7 o’clock. I allotted approximately 30 minutes for each opening band. Sometimes, people only come when the main act comes on stage. But I personally find that rude to the opening acts. They’re fledging bands trying to gain more audience for their music. So, I listen to the support bands with an open-mind. You never know if you’ll like their music until you actually give it a chance. I like to expand my musical tastes. Also, the opening acts will have similar musical style to the main act. I legit enjoyed the songs from The Wrecks, Waterparks, and Swmrs sets. Each band has different performance styles. They were all entertaining in their own ways. It’s the first time I actually enjoyed all of the opening bands at one of my concerts.

Despite some delays in between set-up for opening bands, All Time Low got on the main stage at 9 pm. I had no idea what to expect with it being my first ATL concert. I was buzzing with excitement. They performed a jam-packed 20 song setlist. A mixture of songs from older albums but with heavier emphasis on songs off Last Young Renegades album.

All Time Low hometown show setlist

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I prefer it if a band sounds as good live as on their recorded studio albums. But it’s even better when they blow me away by sounding even more incredible live than on their studio albums. Alex and Jack are the ones who usually talk during live concert performances. They didn’t fail to provide hilarious entertaining banter between the songs. There were plenty of comedic moments during their set. You could tell all four band members were having a blast throughout the set. I had an absolute blast too. Singing and fully rocking out! By the end of the night, I was so exhausted but in a good way. All Time Low certainly knows how to energetically engage the crowd at their concerts.

I’ve heard of the tradition of girls throwing bras onto stage at rock concerts. Yet, I’d never personally witnessed this at any of my rock concerts. That changed the night of my first All Time Low concert on August 2, 2017. Throughout their set, eight to ten bras were thrown on stage. Jack took the extra effort to evenly distribute the bras on each of the members’ microphones stands. There are many reason Jack Barakat is my bias among the four All Time Low members. Most of all, he has such a lovably weird personality. He has awesome hairstyles too.

I’ve been to my fair share of rock concert over the past decade. But certain rock bands stand out in terms of their outstanding live performances. I will always love the band I’ve been fortunate to see live. Boys Like Girls, The Academy Is, Paramore, Relient K, Fall Out Boy, Skillet, Thousand Foot Krutch, and Switchfoot to name a few. Yet, Thirty Seconds to Mars, Muse, and Panic! at the Disco have been my all-time favorite live concerts to date. Now, All Time Low gets to join this elite rank.

I’m glad that my first All Time Low concert was during their two-night hometown shows in Baltimore, MD. It has formed special, unforgettable memories. You never forget the first time you had the opportunity to see your favorite artists/bands live in concert.

Thanks to my concerts over the years, I’ve had the chance to check out a variety of concert venues. Pier 6 Pavilion.  Merriweather Post Pavilion. 1st Mariner Arena (now called Royals Farms Arena). Shippenburg University. U Street Music Hall. Verizon Center. Ram’s Head Live. Baltimore Soundstage. Small, mid-size, and large venues offer different types of concert experiences. I consider concerts as one of my many passionate hobbies.

My Chemical Romance

MCRBack in middle school, “scene” genre was considered part of mainstream popular music. Oh the nostalgia when rock music was played on the Top 40 radio. It saddens me I didn’t begin to explore the “scene” genre until 2008. At this point, this genre’s popularity was slowly waning within mainstream music. Rock was beginning to become a niche music genre again.

My Chemical Romance released their third studio album, The Black Parade, back in October 2006. The Black Parade is essentially a rock opera album. I was well-aware of this band’s popularity among my fellow school peers. Yet, I wasn’t willing to give this band a chance. It wasn’t the right time in my life.

My love for rock genre music has exponentially grown since 2006. Of course I only discovered some “scene” artists several years later. In certain circumstances, time better allows you to embrace something with a more open-mind perspective. I can now approach certain pop-punk artists from the mid-2000s I had previously refused to listen to. My Chemical Romance definitely falls into this category.

One of my college friends is a huge fan of My Chemical Romance. She had often recommended this band to me. She swore they fit well within my rock genre musical taste. But I was still very hesitant.

So what exactly convinced me to listen to My Chemical Romance’s music? In short, my obsession with Andy Black’s solo album, The Shadow Side, played a key role. On Andy Black’s solo album, the co-founders of My Chemical Romance, Gerard Way and Mikey Way, contributed to the track “Louder Than Your Love”. Gerard co-wrote the song lyrics. Mikey played bass guitar parts for the song. Somehow, this finally convinced to listen to My Chemical Romance. I cannot even tell you the reason why for this sudden, impromptu decision. Only took me ten years before I was willing to give this band’s music a chance. It is strange how some things work out.

I listen to my fair share of rock bands. Generally, I’ve gotten used to tenor vocal ranges when it comes to lead vocalists. Yet, I can still differentiate the various tenor vocals among the lead singers of my bias bands. Of course, some lead vocalists have unique singing vocals. Black Veil Bride’s Andy Biersack and My Chemical Romance’s Gerard Way falls into this category. Andy Biersack has a beautifully deep raspy baritone vocal tone. Gerard Way has an intriguing sing-screaming tenor vocal tone. Both are definitely acquired tastes and not everyone’s cup of tea.

Almost two weeks ago, I began my journey to discover My Chemical Romance’s music on Spotify. They have an extensive selection of their full studio albums, live albums, and EP albums. Best of all, they have all the uncensored versions of their songs. Censorship of profanity in bias rock band’s music is one of my biggest pet peeves. Among my bias rock artists, there isn’t that much strong profanity overall. Typically “clean” versions of explicit rock songs are pretty shitty. It doesn’t even properly edit out the swear word. You can still figure out what the swear word is despite the censorship within the song. Apologies for that slightly off-topic rant.

Anyway, I created a My Chemical Romance playlist on my Spotify. I was a bit thrown off by the sing-screaming vocals of Gerard Way at first. Some of lead singers in my favorite rock bands have sing-screaming vocals. Red, Linkin Park. AFI, Black Veil Brides, Thirty Seconds to Mars, and Three Days Grace to name a few. But nothing quite like Gerard Way’s vocals. His sing-screaming vocals are distinctive. Pretty clean cut in regards of easily making out the lyrics in MCR’s songs. But not so refined it feels too polished. Yet, it conveys a wide range of intensely raw emotions. Not only different types of frustrated or angry emotions. After two or three days, I got accustomed to the lead singer’s unique vocals.

Now I comprehend why people love My Chemical Romance. Out of most “scene” genre artist, this band has heavier tones injected into their music. I tend to gravitate to bands whose music has darker undertones. Even many years later, I cannot explain why this is the case with some of my rock genre music. Some things in life are just inexplicable conundrums. Anyway, I’ve really come to love My Chemical Romance’s music. I don’t necessarily have strong connection with their song lyrics. Although, My Chemical Romance meets the three essential elements I look for in rock music. Beautifully complex layering of instrumental sound, emotionally-charged vocals, and confessional lyrics. Also, not too repetitive lyrics or song beat. These are more than enough reasons for me to become very attached to a band. In addition, I really love the creative cinematic theatrics incorporated into their music videos. Not many of my “scene” bands have included theatrical elements into their music. The exception to this are AFI, Panic! at the Disco, and Fall Out Boy.

Sadly, My Chemical Romance officially announced their disbandment back in March 2013. Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys was MCR’s last full studio album before their disbandment. Following their break-up, the band released their greatest hits collection album, May Death Never Stop You. in March 2014. This greatest hits collection album included content spanning their 12 years music career and one unreleased single track titled “Fake Your Death”.

MCR recently posted an extremely cryptic video teaser promoting the date of September 23, 2016. This sent fans into a frenetic frenzy. People basically assumed the band was reuniting. Nope. Not the case at all. My Chemical Romance later revealed the significance of September 23, 2016.

In honor of its 10th anniversary, The Black Parade album will be re-issued as a deluxe edition. This version will include The Black Parade’s full-length album along with never-before content such as 11 demos and outtakes from the album’s original recording session. The actual 10th anniversary is October 23, 2016. I shall be eagerly looking forward to their The Black Parade/Living With Ghosts album.

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Unfortunately, I have the tendency to discover some bands after they’ve officially broken up. Just my luck. Now I will never have the opportunity to see My Chemical Romance live in concert. I shall vicariously live through concert videos posted on YouTube. Also, I have Spotify to get My Chemical Romance music fix. That is more than enough to make me content. Overall, My Chemical Romance has earned a new fan even if I’m very late to the party.