With summer right around the corner, we can’t help but be totally stoked for Warped Tour. In case you haven’t heard, we’ll be sponsoring our own stage for twenty-two dates and bringing twenty-three artists out to perform on it. Twenty-two acts will snag a performance at their local tour stop, and one lucky artist will get to perform on every date (tour bus included). In addition, there are a handful of other OurStage artists already booked to play various dates of the tour. We decided to catch up with them to get the scoop on their summer plans.
First up is Minneapolis, Minnesota’s Sick of Sarah. With indie rock chops that are both punky and polished, this band of female musicians are not to be overlooked. We chatted with lead vocalist Abisha Uhl and drummer/vocalist Jessica Forsythe about what it’s like to be in an all-female band, their local scene and why they can’t wait for Warped.
OS: Tell us about how the band formed and how you decided on a name.
AU: The band started off as four guitar players…and then realized that’s not going to work! We started in 2005. The name Sick of Sarah comes from my old roommate; her name was Sarah. One night, she was kind of drunk and she was like, “I hate my name. I’m sick of Sarah.” And I was like, hey, I like that. It was kind of random, but SOS has a nice ring to it.
AU: Our sound is kind of rock/pop/indie style.
JF: Yeah, I’d say rock music.
AU: Yeah. We get inspired by a lot of musicians. In the earlier years, Jessica and I both really were into Blink 182, Weezer, Radiohead, Depeche Mode. And now, we love Metric, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Alkaline Trio.
JF: Right now, I’m listening to a lot of Death Cab…I really like a lot of the indie rock that’s going on. A lot of the ’90s alternative rock was what I was listening to growing up. I also love hip hop, I love Jay-Z, Eminem… [laughs]
AU: We love a lot of different music.
OS: Were any of you in bands before this? Were they all-girl bands too?
JF: Three of us have been in other bands. Jessie was in a couple other bands…
AU: She toured with Babes in Toyland in their last European tour, I think it was 2000 or 2001, and that was an all-girl band. When the band started, I had never been in a band before, I had only played solo stuff.
JF: Jamie and I were both stolen from other bands. I was in a band with two guys and a girl, and I know Jamie was in a band with her brother and a couple of other guys. I think she was the only female in her band.
OS: Do you think people underestimate you, being an all-girl band?
Both: Oh yeah.
JF: Usually when we first hit the stage, everyone’s wondering what these girls are going to sound like. Usually, once we’re done with our set, we get a lot of high fives from dudes who are like, “You guys are actually pretty good!” [laughs] I think we get that stigma a lot.
OS: It seems like there’s a lot more female musicians emerging in this scene, though, especially on Warped Tour.
JF: I think I heard there were five female-fronted bands on the tour this year? So that will be really cool.
OS: You guys are based in Minneapolis…what is the local scene there like? Do you feel as though you guys fit in well?
AU: The scene here is really good. The music scene is amazing. We definitely are welcomed in our hometown as far as our music goes, they’re very accepting. It’s such an honor to come from a music scene like this and make it.
JF: We’re really trying to play a lot more in Minneapolis but we’ve been touring for two or three years all around the country. We started touring in Europe and stuff, so we really miss Minneapolis. We recently played three Minneapolis shows and they’ve been really awesome. We’ve been really feeling the love and support from Minneapolis to try to hook up with other Minneapolis-based bands.
OS: You’re playing a bunch of dates of Warped Tour this year….how did you get that opportunity?
AU: There’s a girl Sarah who works at Warped Tour, and she’s really into our music. She works side-by-side with [Warped Tour founder] Kevin Lyman. She helped us out a lot, getting us on there. When we were on Warped Tour last year, we sat down with Kevin Lyman and we were like, “Hey, we’d love to be a part of this in the future.”
OS: What was your experience like last year?
AU: It was an amazing experience. It was so much fun and such a privilege to be surrounded by all these artists.
OS: Speaking of being surrounded by awesome artists, who are you most looking forward to seeing perform at Warped Tour this year?
JF: I’m excited to see Dead Sara and New Found Glory…
AU: The Used!
JF: Yeah, The Used!
OS: Anything else you’d like to say to your fans on OurStage?
AU: We’d just like to say thank you for all the support and we hope to come out to Warped Tour every year and put on a show for all of our fans. We appreciate them and we love them.
In the continuum of all-female bands, Sick of Sarah falls somewhere between Sleater-Kinney and The Go-Gos. Their music isn’t the raw, shuddering post-punk of the former, nor is it the lip-glossed pop of the latter. It’s little bit of both. With their lo-fi edge and mainstream melodics, the Minneapolis band’s music is as prickly as it is catchy. Bittersweet is a shuffling, plaintive pop catharsis. It’s rough around the edges, but that’s part of the charm. With its jagged guitars, rioting drums, and breakneck pace, Not Listening,” is a rebellious, in-your-face tongue lashing. But our favorite fit comes by way of Breakdown, a strident, percussive folk tempest that sounds like the product of an Ani DiFranco and Tommy Tutone collaboration. Once all the unbridled aggression has run its course, vulnerability sneaks in with acoustic ballads like Paint Like That and Common Mistake. Enjoy the calm while you can. With Sick of Sarah, another ass kicking is always around the corner.
Wes Kirkpatrick may be a new transplant on the Chicago music scene, but his acoustic, earthy rock music has already taken root. The Colorado native hunkered down in Minneapolis in 2009 to start recording his first solo record, taking his time to make sure it was done right. Rusty, dusty rock lovers will like the results. Home takes off at a good driving speed, pushed along by punchy strums, claps, finger snaps and reedy harmonies. The rippling piano line on Suspicion is a triumphant little hook that’s impossible to forget, while Opportunity stacks Kirkpatrick’s vocals to create layered, emotive balladry. Our favorite is Shoot You Down, where guitars get plugged for minor key stabs and drums rollick and roll. All grit and tumbleweeds, Kirkpatrick builds the song using the wild midwest for mortar. It’s great stuff, no matter what side of the Mississippi you hang your hat on.
Attention Lilith 2010 fans & hopeful artists! It is time for another installment of winner announcements for the Lilith Local Talents Search Competition. This time the good folks over at Lilith have set their sights on the artists of the Midwest. Thanks to the fans, we are proud to announce the winners for Chicago, Denver, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Minneapolis and St. Louis.
The artists from these cities went through one of the most competitive rounds in recent OurStage history and managed to come out on top. After their hard-won wins, these artists have the fans to thank for the amazing outpouring of support. And, Sarah McLachlan has the fans to thank for helping her find some of the best up-and-coming talent, right here on OurStage! See the list of winners below:
|Katie Todd||Liz Clark||Amanda Lucas and Audrey Cecil|
|Kansas City||Minneapolis||St. Louis|
|Sara Swenson||Bella Ruse||The Airplanes|
After spending a couple of years studying in the UK, signer-guitarist Mike Schwandt returned stateside with a raging case of Britpop, then passed it on to his brother, drummer Mark Schwandt. Two more infected members later (guitarist Joe Christenson and bassist Dan Larsen) and White Light Riot was born, lighting up the Minneapolis music scene like a champagne supernova. Though their gorgeous track Forever in the West glistens with epic, Oasis-quality melodicism, WLR’s other songs have more in common with older English varietals, namely the Kinks. In A Shotgun Whirlwind with its handclaps and shuddering guitars is absolute mod, while Out of Sight is a curt little garage rocker that blisters and burns. WLR sometimes skitter up to the brink of campiness, but it’s hard to think about fine lines when the songs are so contagious. Let’s hope their anglophilia keeps flaring up.
Sometimes you want to be rocked and rolled all night, and some times you just want to lie there and be lulled into oblivion. For the latter, check out the etherizing songs of Minneapolis-based indie pop band Aviette. The trio, led by singer/guitarist Holly Muñoz, doesn’t often break from formula “ thankfully it’s not a bad one. Expect high register guitars that yawn and reverberate, syncopated drums that sound just a touch overproduced and Muñoz’s sweet, gossamer voice, which spins around the arrangements like cotton candy. Though the synths may crunch and the guitars may rear up, for the most part the mood is even-keeled. Aviette’s songs run on the short side, but don’t fret. When the ether wears off after three minutes, there’s another dose on the way.