Posts tagged House of Blues

My Current Obsession: Meiko

Oh how do I express my love for Meiko?  The editor of Paste magazine, Josh Jackson, saw her perform at Sundance Film Festival in 2007 and declared her a big success story waiting to happen.  She first came across my radar when a few of her songs made appearances on some TV shows I watch.  Actually by now her music has probably unknowingly made its way to your ears with as many shows she has been featured on in the last couple years.  Her name has been floating around the industry for awhile but I wasn’t familiar with her outside of knowing her name until recently.  After seeing her perform a couple weeks ago at House of Blues in Chicago, I haven’t been able to get her out of my head.

It has taken me a couple weeks to let Meiko settle into my musical brain in order to write this blog without sounding like a blabbering fool (which is bound to happen anyway).  I am really excited about her, and I just can’t help it.  So I will take a deep breath, and start from the beginning.   I saw Meiko perform twice in Chicago, opening up for Hanson, per usual – as you already know many of my new favorite artists come from Hanson tours.  She has already done some tour stints with Brett Dennen (whom I love dearly), Mat Kearney, Joe Purdy, Jewel, Joshua Radin and she was featured on the Hotel Café tour.  Upon moving to LA, Meiko began waitressing and performing at Hotel Café.  She was able to drop the waitress gig after her song “Reasons To Love You” made its national TV debut on Grey’s Anatomy.  She still performs at Hotel Café regularly, so if you’re in the LA area I recommend checking the calendar out.

photo credit: pinpoint music

I think there’s something to be said about a female that writes her own material.  And I guess not only writes music but makes songs that are genuine, true to herself, and about something real.  I am constantly inquiring the people I meet about what bands or artists they listen to, specifically in the realm of females.  I’m always searching for a female musician that makes me feel something.  It just doesn’t interest or captivate me to be constantly bombarded with the over-sexualized female pop artists singing about absolutely nothing relevant to the world I live in.  I can understand how it can be entertaining to people but where is Stevie Nicks when you need her?   I’m not saying that female talent doesn’t exist, rather it’s just not easily discoverable.  Music fans want to feel connected, and authentic female artists has been hard to come by.  I think that’s why Adele has become so beloved in our industry.   I have to believe that with Adele having so much mainstream success it will only help the female singer/songwriter sector grow commercially.

Meiko has a unique, soft, and soulful voice.  Her talent stands alone in her music but seeing her live changed everything for me.  I definitely think the more she tours and the more people she connects with, the more success she will have.  She walks out on stage with minimal make up on, modest clothing, and you instantly feel connected to her normalcy.  She is adorable, sweet, and funny.  Meiko has a story to tell, she speaks openly about her heartbreaks and triumphs.  Her music makes me feel empowered, inspired, and proud to be a woman.  She stole my heart and she will win yours over too, guaranteed.

Check her out here singing “Good Looking Loser” live:

Concert Review: Andrew Belle & Matt Hires at Lincoln Hall

It’s no secret that my favorite venue of all time is House of Blues in Chicago.  In my mind, nothing compares to the architecture, history and overall vibe of the place.  However, I stopped by Lincoln Hall on Sunday night to catch Chicago’s very own Andrew Belle perform and I will say that Lincoln Hall has definitely made its way up there as another one of my favorite venues, at least in Chicago anyway.

Andrew Belle

Seeing a show at House of Blues is an experience in itself, no matter which band you’re going there to watch.  Lincoln Hall instead, absorbs the vibe of the crowd to create a different atmosphere at every show.  The sound quality is fantastic – probably the best I’ve ever experienced.  The size is very intimate and the place is simple, allowing you to focus on the brilliance on stage.

He’s a fairly new artist, he’s from Chicago, and I’m always curious to see what kind of musicians this city is putting out.  (I’ve also been somewhat consumed in the hip hop industry for the last couple months and have been needing a break so, I was looking forward to checking out this show.)  You may have noticed recently that Andrew Belle’s music has been making the rounds on all your favorite TV shows.  I’ve always liked what I’ve heard from him.  My favorite track “Open Your Eyes” was featured on Grey’s Anatomy last season.

Overall, it was a good night.  Belle played with his full band, which added a lot of different layers and elements to the music that really don’t come across on his albums.  However, the constant fog emanating from the stage was a bit of an annoyance.  One song after another, starting off softly, building into an eventual explosion with the band blowing your face off, this became tiresome as well.  In the grand scheme of things there is nothing wrong with that type of vibe, but when it happens during every song, there’s no opportunity to appreciate it.

Sorry to say that I guess mostly, Belle’s performance was disappointing.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a big fan of Andrew Belle.  This guy is a lyrical genius who tells some incredible stories through his music and he has a beautiful voice.  But the band overpowered him and were a distraction from the real talent.  However, the performance did show me that Andrew Belle is a diverse artist and not your run-of-the-mill acoustic, singer/songwriter.

In general, the show was very Coldplay-esque.  If you’re into that type of sound, I definitely recommend checking Belle out.  However, if you’re expecting to hear what you have on his albums, there’s not of much of a connection there.

Matt Hires

The night wasn’t a complete disappointment.  It was actually far from that.  Matt Hires flew in from Tampa to open the show.  I thought I knew what to expect from him.  I had seen him 3 and a half years prior at House of Blues here in Chicago.  I liked his performance back then, enough to remember his name.  More recently I had heard his song, “Honey, Let Me Sing You A Song,” here and there.  I was looking forward to catching him perform again, but not necessarily excited.

I can now say that watching Hires perform made me want to come home and book a flight to see his next show.  I am completely blown away by how much he’s grown as a performer – it was like night and day.  And although it was obvious that the talent was always there, the performance quality was lacking before.  Hires went from shy and slightly boring (sorry Matt!) to an incredibly charming, seasoned musician – and talk about someone that can tell a story!  His set was completely captivating and I’m not sure I ever took my eyes off of him.  (Not bad for someone that’s on stage with only his guitar).  Matt Hires has so much character in his voice (think Mumford, Bob Dylan, Wilco, Ryan Adams), but at the same time he has a sound all of his own.  With a vibrato unlike any I’ve ever heard before, plus his whistling which packs a punch slightly less than that of Andrew Bird, but adds more of a soothing melody, I had no idea what just hit me.  He made it all look so easy.

What Hires is able to do on stage is anything but simple.  It is raw, honest, and real.  I think I even used the word “magical” that night and I was revived.  It reminded me of my passion for music.

Sometimes it’s hard to remember why I wanted to work in this industry in the first place, as Lady Gaga and American Idol are what people are paying attention to.  It’s so easy to become jaded and cynical.  But Matt Hires reminded me why I love this business and the kind of music that matters to me.  I feel like I owe him something for saving me.  I definitely needed someone to kick me into gear so I could keep pursuing my dream, and to remind me what I’m fighting for.  One listen to his song “Rock N’ Roll Heart” and I knew that we had an understanding of one another.  Finally my dear Stylebust readers – someone I can share with you guys that is a complete life changer!  He stole the show.

This isn’t the last you’ll hear about Matt Hires from me.  Check out his latest Live Sessions EP.  He’s also going to be on the West Coast touring with Marc Broussard in a couple weeks (maybe I’ll see you there)!  There’s also been a lot of buzz recently surrounding his cover of MGMT’s “Kids.”  Check out the video of him performing it below:

Fun. Concert Review

Hello Style Bust readers!  It’s been awhile since I’ve blogged, I went on a short sabbatical.  Now I’m back, refreshed and ready to share with you what’s been going on in the music world.  I have some amazing things in the works, especially for all you hip-hop and r&b fans.  The Chicago music scene is about to blow up and I’m going to be able to give you first hand insight to all of it.  Anyway, I’ll be able to give you more information next week as I make my return to Chicago.

Recently I shared with you a youtube video of Jarrod Gorbel.  I was fortunate enough to get to see him live a couple times this past week.  Last weekend I went to House of Blues Chicago and on Wednesday I was at the Blue Moose in Iowa City.  Jarrod Gorbel is touring with Steel Train and Fun.  House of Blues was the perfect environment for Gorbel.  He performs with one other woman, who’s an incredible violin player and has a beautiful voice.  They harmonize so well together.  It was truly one of the most beautiful performances I have ever seen or heard.

I have mentioned Steel Train on this blog a few times, always giving them praise.  On Saturday they were their usual selves, over the top, tons of energy, rocking out.  It’s what I love about them.  The crowd seemed impressed by them as well.  Wednesday they did a great job but they were a lot mellower.  But it was fitting for the audience because in Iowa City the crowd was mostly filled with preppy, university students who overall don’t know the first thing about a good punk-indie-rock band.   So taking it down a notch was a great way to introduce the crowd to their sound.  Steel Train is a fun band… however most people at both of these shows were there to see the band, fun.

Personally, I thought the band fun, was anything but a source of enjoyment.  I found the lead singer to be completely obnoxious with his hair flips and dressed like Bon Jovi, bouncing around the stage.  fun. has a pretty unique sound and I can completely understand why people like them, but they do attract a much younger crowd, who in my opinion just haven’t experienced great music yet… so they are impressed with just an average band.  The lead singer doesn’t play an instrument, which doesn’t bother me but ultimately that means that his voice is his best and main instrument.  If he’s only going to sing then he should at least be on key, he just wasn’t that good.

The best way to describe their music is a mix of Queen and the Rocket Summer.  I have enjoyed listening to their albums and they are uber creative.  I have spent much time contemplating why their live performance just didn’t impress me.  I think that they just have so many elements and layers in their music that it doesn’t translate as well live as it should.  I’m obsessed with their music video for Walking The Dog, and the song is played on the new Expedia commercial.  It’s definitely a song that gets stuck in your head and I guarantee after hearing the first keys you will recognize it.  However, I left early the show early on Saturday because I was annoyed with them, and it’s very rare when I leave a show early.  On Wednesday I was there for the entire set and their best song was a cover of “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”  The lead singer has the perfect voice to cover Mick Jagger.  So, fun. gained some respect back with me when they pulled that out of their back pockets.

Anyway, I thought maybe when I saw them on Saturday I was just being a tough critic but on Wednesday they weren’t any more enjoyable.  I wouldn’t recommend seeing them live but you should check out their video for Walking The Dog, it’s fun.

Shout It Out!

image of Hanson cd cover for shout it out

Shout It Out, sounds like the commercial for laundry detergent.  But the sold out crowd this weekend at House of Blues Chicago were very clear that this had nothing to do with the cleanliness of their clothes.  Rather, the overall message for the past couple years of the Hanson fanbase has been about starting a movement and spreading the word.

Familiar with Toms Shoes?  Toms Shoes started the One for One movement, where you buy a pair of shoes and another pair gets given to a child in need.  I can personally tell you that these shoes are the most comfortable shoes you will ever own.  I already have 4 pairs and you can wear them with just about anything.

toms shoe selection

Back in October of 2007 Hanson went to Africa on a shoe drop with Toms. After the inspirational trip, Hanson began doing one-mile barefoot walks before each of their shows on tour.  For each person that registers and does the one-mile walk with them, 1 dollar will be donated on their behalf from Hanson.  And you can choose the cause your dollar will be donated towards, whether its building clean water wells, helping with education or providing HIV treatment for pregnant women.  This weekend I took my 7th charity walk with Hanson.  I find what they are doing to be extremely admirable.  Taking the walk is about taking action.  After I did it once I was hooked.  Taking a barefoot walk is such a tangible thing for me to do and feel like I am truly making a difference.  Apparently I wasn’t the only one who feels this way because 500 people showed up to take the walk in Chicago on Saturday.  For more information and to find out how you can get involved check out

image of hanson brothers take walk tour

*photo by Photo Agency

On to the concert review, I prefer not to share the number of Hanson concerts I’ve been to throughout the past 13 years.  But it’s been quite a few so it’s hard for me to write a concert review that can be appreciated by the general population because I will always compare them to so many of the other shows that I have seen.  But nevertheless, let’s start with the openers.  I love going to Hanson concerts because their supporting acts seem to always be bands that I truly appreciate.  So many of my favorite bands were introduced to me on Hanson’s stage and for that I will be forever grateful.  Rooney (pictured below) has been supporting Hanson on their first leg and soon A Rocket to the Moon will be on the dates.  I could do without ever seeing Rooney again.  Don’t get me wrong; I think they have some good things going for them.  It’s very guitar based and driven.  But the lead singer just needs to be let go; he comes off so arrogant and annoying on stage.  I really couldn’t take my eyes off his ridiculousness.

Rooney the artist

Hanson put together an opening band contest for this tour as well.  Each show features a different local band.  I love this because it can give so much exposure to the little guys.  Friday night was Wes Kirkpatrick.  Decent, but it’s one of those bands that would be better off sticking to little coffee houses, because that’s more of their element.  Saturday was HappyGoLovely with a Justin Bieber esque but more of a badass with piercings guitar player.  Overall the band had a great sound.  Fans of The Rocket Summer or NeverShoutNever! will certainly appreciate this band.  Afterwards I found out they are from Cedar Rapids, IA.  Not too far from my little hometown, I will be cheering this group on and wish them the best of success.

hanson performing live on jimmy fallon's late night show

Hanson performing live on Jimmy Fallon

Hanson’s show was amazing as usual.  With a catalog of hundreds of songs I’m always eager to hear the set list.  Most of the songs they played were from their 5th and newest studio album, “Shout It Out.”  (click here to buy it on amazon!)  They also played quite a few numbers from 1997 era.  And for those of you wondering, yes of course they played Mmmbop.  Personally I think the song choices for these two shows could have been better, but performance wise this was one of the best shows I’ve seen in a while from them.  If you take anything out of reading my writing on this blog please please pleaseeee check out Hanson.  I am confident that you will be pleasantly surprised.  Here’s the remainder of their tour dates….

19 Cleveland, OH House of Blues
20 Pittsburgh, PA Carnegie Music Hall
21 Columbus, OH Newport Music Hall
23 Cincinnati, OH Moonlight Gardens
24 Indianapolis, IN Egyptian Room
25 Tulsa, OK Cain’s Ballroom

Leg 2:
14 Mesa, AZ Piper Theater
16 Anaheim, CA House of Blues
17 Los Angeles, CA House of Blues
18 San Diego, CA House of Blues
20 San Francisco, CA Great American Music Hall
21 San Francisco, CA Great American Music Hall
22 Portland, OR Wonder Ballroom
23 Seattle, WA The Moore
25 Vancouver, BC Commodore Ballroom
27 Spokane, WA Knitting Factory
28 Boise, ID Knitting Factory
30 Salt Lake City, UT The Depot

1 Boulder, CO Fox Theatre

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