Presented by “Ones to Watch,” Vinyl Theater and Finish Ticket co-headlined a marvel at The Foundry, an extension of Philadelphia’s The Fillmore Feb. 24. Ones to Watch is a blog of self-proclaimed “music geeks” highlighting the hottest emerging artists to the music scene. The blog details these up-and-coming artists, providing biographies, news, photos and more to readers of the site. The hope is to generate a buzz about these new musicians. The site puts together tours, grouping similar artists together to create a show for discovering new artists.
Though the show had two headliners, Vinyl Theater was the first to hit the stage. An indie-rock band from Milwaukee, Vinyl Theater has opened for the likes of Magic Man, MKTO and Smallpools. Keegan Calmes, the band’s frontman, describes opening and headlining as two completely different entities. “When we do an opening set we like to have everything high energy with no lull in the show. When we’re headlining, we like to have lots of dynamics to the show. There’s literally an introduction to the show now, and there are three or four songs that are upbeat and then there’s a lull for our slower songs, our older songs. We talk about the songs and then we revamp and there’s this kind of climax to the show… we’re back to high energy for the rest of the show,” Calmes said.
Calmes description of the show was pretty on point, considering their song “If You Say So,” an upbeat synth-heavy song, kicks off the setlist. Calmes says this was the first song the band ever published to SoundCloud, and it immediately started trending. “Every single song we put on from there on started trending, it was number one indie-rock. Every single one.” The set continued with upbeat songs “Summer” and “Stay,” all songs from their breathtaking debut LP “Electrogram.”
The climax of the show started once kinetic song “Breaking Up My Bones,” a song that peaked at number two at Sirius XM Alt Nation’s influential Alt 18 countdown, was played after a lull to get the fans rowdy. Unfortunately, the show was on a Wednesday night and the venue wasn’t as packed as it normally is, but the fans that committed to coming out in tornado-warnings on a weeknight seemed to be enjoying themselves, especially as “Breaking Up My Bones” played.
“I’m ready for new music, now more than ever,” Calmes told The Triangle in an interview. The band graced their fans with new songs, about which Calmes shares, “I don’t want to say [the new songs] are a little more edgy, because that’s not who we are… [the new songs] are us, they’re true, they’re genuine. The messages of the song are a bit more personal, so they come off a bit darker.” Fans seemed to enjoy the music and were singing along by the final chorus. Calmes loved this, as he began climbing the set, hanging from support beams and pouring his heart and soul into the show. “There’s an ebb and flow to every show,” says Calmes. “We’re not there to play singles. We’re there to put on a show. We pride ourselves on our live show… to captivate you,” he continued.
During the course of show, the band announced they will be releasing a follow up album to “Electrogram” this summer. “This new record is a departure,” Calmes said. “We’re not leaving any new songs behind. We lost a band member, it’s just the three of us (Calmes, Chris Senner, Nick Cesarz) now, so we’re going to push forward with these songs. The record will explain it all, it has to do with the whole message of the record. We’ve been writing outside of the box big time.” Calmes also said that the next album has taken a lot of work. ““Perfect isn’t good. Perfect sounds safe. That’s what we’re getting away from.”
Vinyl Theater finished with their song “Gold.”
After Vinyl Theater, Finish Ticket had a minor set change and took the stage. Vinyl Theater definitely got the crowd amped up and ready for Finish Ticket, which Ones To Watch compares to bands such as Fall Out Boy and Bastille. Finish Ticket recently finished touring as an opener with Twenty One Pilots during their sold out “Blurryface” tour. The band recently released a new EP, “When Night Becomes Day,” that they didn’t have much time to rehearse live and play on the “Blurryface” tour. “We didn’t have any of the gear in time for [that] tour. We actually had to wing it and play some old stuff. It was a nightmare. Horrible timing. We finally got it all together,” singer Brendan Hoye said.
The San Francisco-area band didn’t play a very long set, but it was highlighted by their title track off of the new EP, a cover of “When You Were Young” by The Killers and classics off of their debut LP “Tears You Apart.” The cover song sounded perfect, almost as if it was The Killers themselves playing it. The band did the song justice.
A lull in the show came when the band played “Catch You On My Way Out,” a slow, powerful love-ballad off of their LP. “We don’t do many love songs,” Hoye said. “I wrote a version of it in college… it never went anywhere, but I kept that chorus because I loved it. When we left college to pursue music as a career, we started jamming and all these pieces just came together. It was crazy. This chorus I wrote in college, a verse I had written a week before and this riff we played right there. It all came together,” Hoye continued.
Several songs later, the band played their arguably most popular song “Color,” as the lights on stage changed from red, to green, to every color in between, fitting for the song’s title. The band played their older songs “Tranquilize” and “Bring The Rain” before announcing that was the end of the show. Hoye said the band would have a “quick band meeting” and maybe come back out. The crowd roared and of course the band couldn’t let down their fans, starting and ending their encore with “Doctor,” a fan favorite from their only album.
All in all, the Ones To Watch blog pieced together an awesome show, linking the indie-electro sounds of Vinyl Theater with the passionate indie-rock sounds of Finish Ticket. Both of these bands are unique in their own way; the blog found a great way to match them up and send them on a nationwide tour.