Deck The Hall Ball 2012 | Nine Bands, One Great Show

It’s not often you find The Killers, M83, Metric, Awolnation, Passion Pit, The Lumineers, Grouplove, Of Monsters and Men, and The Joy Formidable all on the same stage in one night, but it happened at Deck The Hall Ball 2012 in Seattle. I was one of the few people who was actually there from beginning to end, and it was worth every second of my time.

The Joy Formidable jump started Deck The Hall Ball 2012. KeyArena was pretty empty at the time, but that didn’t prevent them from straight rocking out. There are only three members of The Joy Formidable, but it sounds like there are more people on stage when they’re jamming. They play hard, especially lead singer Ritzy Bryan. She’s a little fireball, springing all over the stage like the Energizer Bunny. They only had time to play four songs, so The Joy Formidable left their mark by smashing their instruments at the end of their set (guitars were thrown and drums went crashing to the stage). One of the personalities from 107.7 The End (the station that puts on Deck The Hall Ball) came out afterwards and called it “the most ferocious start to Deck The Hall Ball ever.”

Deck The Hall Ball 2012 | Of Monsters and Men

Of Monsters and Men

Next on stage at Deck The Hall Ball 2012: Of Monsters and Men. This was one of the groups I was most interested in seeing. I bought their album months ago (before their songs were even on the radio), but I wasn’t sure how they’d sound live. I was really impressed by Of Monsters and Men. They have a very mellow tone on their album, but they weren’t afraid to jam out on stage. Of Monsters and Men kept the crowd involved as well. They split the audience for a sing along on ‘Mountain Sound‘ (half of KeyArena sang “Hold your horses now,” while the other sang “We sleep until the sun goes down,” etc.), and everyone in the crowd sang every word to ’Little Talks‘ without urging from the band. I really wish Of Monsters and Men had more time on stage at Deck The Hall Ball, but that’s the way these events go. I’ll just have to hunt them down again.

Deck The Hall Ball 2012 rolled from Of Monsters and Men right into Grouplove. They started their set with ‘Itchin’ On A Photograph‘, which got everyone amped up for them. The crowd gave Grouplove their largest ovation after ‘Tongue Tied‘ though. Grouplove also played the only cover at Deck The Hall Ball by rocking their own version of Whitney Houston’s ‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody’. Aside from Hannah Hooper and Christian Zucconi (the most recognizable members of Grouplove), drummer Ryan Rabin stole the show. He rocked out the entire set and then did some crowd surfing before he left the stage.

There was no group I was more excited to see at Deck The Hall Ball 2012 than The Lumineers. It was honestly a little hard to come down to their level at first, because everyone else had rocked so hard before them. The Lumineers were easily the most mellow band of the night. I definitely don’t mean that as an insult, because they put on a great show (and they were just as rad as I hoped they’d be). Leading up to their set, no song got a bigger burst from the crowd than ‘Ho Hey‘. The place erupted after The Lumineers played the first note. The Lumineers loved to engage the audience as well. They had a lot of fun with ‘Ho Hey’, but the best follow-the-leader was ‘Stubborn Love‘. The Lumineers even performed a new song (it’s so new that it doesn’t even have a name yet) at Deck The Hall Ball. I just happened to be recording when they played it, so take a listen:

Passion Pit took the stage at Deck The Hall Ball 2012 after The Lumineers. This was actually the second time I saw Passion Pit this year. I also watched them perform live at Bumbershoot in Seattle over the summer. I was pumped to see them again this time around, but I wound up a little disappointed. It’s not their fault though. Passion Pit had the KeyArena crowd moving the entire time. The biggest problem is that I was in the upper deck, so I wasn’t anywhere near the active audience (unlike Bumbershoot when I was in the middle of the fray). After Deck The Hall Ball came to an end, I remember raving about so many bands, but Passion Pit never came into the conversation. Don’t get me wrong, Passion Pit put on a great show but they just didn’t do anything extremely memorable. I’d still go see them again the next time they roll through town.

Deck The Hall Ball 2012 | Awolnation

Awolnation

Awolnation was one of the great unknowns for me at Deck The Hall Ball 2012. If you’ve listened to their album, you know they have a lot of range, and they really showed that off during their set as well. They were actually a little hard to grasp at first. One second Awolnation was headbanging, and then the next they were playing the more poppy ‘Kill Your Heroes‘. I think there were a lot of people who didn’t know what to think of them early on, but Awolnation won the crowd over with ‘All I Need‘. It’s a slower song, so frontman Aaron Bruno had everyone put their arms around the folks next to them as they played. Everyone swayed together to the music, and then Bruno encouraged the crowd to wave a lighter or cell phone (to make it “really cheesy” in his words). I think it was the most entertaining moment of the night. Bruno wasn’t done after that. He led the audience in the wave, and then crowd surfed while singing his final song. I think Awolnation put on arguably the best show of the night. I’d definitely pay to see them perform again.

Awolnation was a tough act to follow, and unfortunately it was up to Metric to keep the crowd going. They failed miserably though. I didn’t know anything about Metric (aside from the one song (‘Breathing Underwater‘) they played on the radio leading up to Deck The Hall Ball), and I don’t care to know more about them now. I can’t be the only one who feels that way. The audience seemed disinterested during their set. There was no movement in the crowd, no one was taking pictures or video of them (like they were for all the other groups), and several people actually walked out during their performance. It was relatively dead inside KeyArena for Metric. They just never captured the crowd. They were easily the biggest flop of the night.

Let’s talk about a group that did capture the audience — M83. These guys are unlike anyone else who played Deck The Hall Ball 2012. M83 is more electronic and instrumental than anything. They’re more about flashing lights and jamming out than signing many lyrics. Several people in the crowd even whipped out their glow sticks for their set. I have to admit that M83 doesn’t exactly tickle my earlobes, but they were very entertaining. They jammed and jammed and jammed for a full 50 minutes. I took this video of M83 performing ‘Midnight City‘, so you could get a feel for what their set was like:

Deck The Hall Ball 2012 | The Killers

The Killers

The Killers were the headliners for Deck The Hall Ball 2012. There’s a good reason they were the last to perform. The Killers put on an incredible show. They just seemed so much more seasoned at performing live than the rest of the acts at the event. They had a more dynamic setup than anyone else, including a 30+ foot video board hanging behind them and confetti that came shooting out during one of their songs. The stage just seemed bigger for them, and lead singer Brandon Flowers kills it (no pun intended). The Killers were the only group to get everyone in the crowd on their feet for their entire set. They were also the only band that had every person singing every word to every song. I honestly didn’t realize The Killers had so many hits until Deck The Hall Ball. They just kept coming one after another. It was an awesome atmosphere and a perfect way to wrap up the night.

The Joy Formidable took the stage at 3pm and The Killers walked off the stage at 11:30pm, so it was nearly nine hours of music at Deck The Hall Ball 2012. I was introduced to new bands, rocked out to some of my favorite songs and even waved my cell phone (in place of a lighter) at a concert for the first time in my life. It was easily worth every penny I paid for my tickets. I’m already bracing myself for Deck The Hall Ball 2013.

Were you in the crowd for Deck The Hall Ball 2012? Who was your favorite/least favorite band? I’d love to hear how the night went for you! Please leave a message below or connect with me on Facebook, Twitter and Google+. Don’t forget to also check out http://allaroundtim.com for more on music, sports and travel!

Bumbershoot | Experiencing Seattle’s Music Festival

I’m a huge fan of music, but up until yesterday I’d never been to a music festival in my life. It’s not because I haven’t wanted to go to one either; it’s just never worked out (mostly because I’ve worked weekends for much of my career). After two and a half days of hearing acts at Bumbershoot from my office in Seattle (the television station is directly across the street from where the event was held), I finally got into the mix last night.

Passion Pit performing live in Seattle at Bumbershoot

Passion Pit

I could only squeeze four hours out of Bumbershoot (I was off work at 7pm and the last show ended at 11pm), but it was worth every second. I saw parts of four different acts, but I was constantly surrounded by music the second I walked in the gates to the second I walked out. After my quick glimpse at the festival, I wished that I could have spent every hour of every day at Bumbershoot over Labor Day weekend (if I didn’t have to work, obviously).

The range of music you find at Bumbershoot is amazing. I heard everything from pop, to folk, to electronica — and I was only there for a few hours. On top of what I heard in the crowd, I also heard a wide range from my office. There was the Heartless Bastards, Ian Hunter and the Rant Band and Wanda Jackson (the “Queen of Rockabilly”) — just to name a few. It’s a great way to experience a lot of different music all in one place.

The first act I strolled upon at Bumbershoot was Lights. I knew nothing about her when I saw her on stage, but she was cute, little and she was rocking out. Lights romped around with the microphone, jammed out on her synthesizer and even went solo on her piano (her band literally left the stage). It was fun to watch. Lights honestly reminded me of someone like No Doubt’s Gwen Stefani when she was on stage, but I was completely duped by her performance. I wanted to learn more about Lights after I got home, so I googled her. All of her songs sounded like your typical pop artist (think Jessica Simpson). I was stunned, disappointed, and realized that I can easily get caught up in a live concert — no matter who it is.

I slipped away from Lights for a few minutes to check out Hey Marseilles. Again, I didn’t know much about them before I saw them on stage. They’re a local, Seattle-based band that sounds a little like Mumford & Sons, but they’re not nearly as good/developed. Hey Marseilles didn’t do nearly enough to lure me in with their first few songs, so I kept moving on (sadly, I chose eating dinner over watching the rest of their show — that’s how little they impressed me).

Skrillex performing live at Bumbershoot in Seattle

Skrillex

After a quick bite, Passion Pit was the next group to grab my attention at Bumbershoot. Several people recommended Passion Pit to me in the past, but I never really took the time to listen to them, and honestly the snippets I’d heard on iTunes weren’t all that intriguing to me. I will say this — I’m a big fan of Passion Pit now that I’ve seen them live. Lead singer Michael Angelakos rocks. He’s was all over the stage, swinging the microphone over his head, and even banged away on the drums at one point. Passion Pit definitely won me over. I plan on buying their latest album Gossamer (released July 24th) when I’m done writing this.

Right before Passion Pit wrapped up, I made my way to the main stage at KeyArena to catch the end of Skrillex. I’m not into electronic music at all, so I had no idea how huge this guy was. The arena (which holds 17,459 people) was packed to the brim. Every section was closed, because all the seats were taken. I finally convinced one of the workers to let me through (since I was by myself), and I wound up on the side of the stage. It wasn’t the best for hearing Skrillex jam, but it gave me a great opportunity to see the crowd (the average age couldn’t have been older than 20). It was unlike anything I’d ever seen before. I’ll compare it to a rave on steroids. People were shirtless, there were glow sticks, lasers and fireworks, and the crowd never stopped moving to the music. I shot this video to give you a feel for what it was like:

I was skeptical at first, but it was totally worth seeing Skrillex in person (for the people watching alone). I was so impressed that I wrote an individual post about my full Skrillex experience — check it out!

I’ve always been a fan of music, but I’ve really grown to love it over the last five or six years, and thanks to my experience at Bumbershoot, my passion for music keeps getting bigger and bigger. I can’t wait for another live performance or the next band that’s going to knock me right off my feet. I think I might be addicted.

Did you go to Bumbershoot? If so, who did you see? I’d love to hear all about it! Simply leave a comment below or connect with me on Twitter, Facebook and/or Google+. Don’t forget to also check out more of my take on music right now on http://allaroundtim.com.