Welcome to the happiest place on Earth! With its close proximity to Disneyland, it was no surprise that the newly constructed House of Blues Anaheim had a similar welcoming charm as the magical amusement park. While colorful murals, festive poinsettia flowers, and the mouth-watering smell of hamburgers wafting from surrounding diners were definite attractions, a music lover’s “happy place” is always the concert itself. There is nothing that brings out one’s inner child more than the giddy feeling of standing at barricade, rocking out to great music, and dancing like there’s no tomorrow. Just ask the 400 or so people who eagerly stood in line all day to enjoy the last stop on the Modern Nostalgia Tour. With a busy schedule that took them on an international journey spanning from Europe to North America, pop-rock band, The Maine, and alt-rock band, Night Riots, have been delighting fans across the globe. Also joining these two on the North American leg of the tour, was the talented up-and-coming rock group, DREAMERS.
Night Riots kicked off the show with a stellar opening performance. Dazzling the audience with their glowing stage presence, this California band radiated a special type of dramatic artfulness that captured the unique sense of being simultaneously larger-than-life as well as extremely humble. Night Riots masterfully weaved a whimsical aspect into their show through the incorporation of pumpkin lights and glowing drumsticks used in a whole-band drum-off. On the contrary, an overarching atmosphere of deep reflection enveloped the crowd as lead singer, Travis Hawley, began a vocal and guitar solo in the beginning of the song “Spiders.” This piece was emotionally charged and the shared feelings of hope and sadness could be heard in the voices of fans who sang along softly with Hawley’s every line. In essence, “Spiders” perfectly combined words of encouragement along with a palpable gloom. It demonstrated depth and range and highlighted Night Riots’ versatile music talent.
Next up was DREAMERS. The three-member band consisting of Nick Wold (lead vocals/guitar,) Marc Nelson (bass/backing vocals,) and Jacob Wick (drums/backing vocals) performed songs off of their first album, This Album Does Not Exist, which was released in 2016. DREAMERS’s style of music has the daring tendency to toe the line between a semi-throwback rock and a power-pop sound with new wave standards. The band’s lyrics also challenge boundaries in a positive way with songs that span topics such as youth and drugs; subject matter that is seen as controversial by some. The crowd in the House of Blues however, fully embraced the band’s brilliant rebelliousness. They were off their feet dancing and jumping for the entire duration of the set, singing the lyrics back to the band at the top of their lungs. Wold, Nelson, and Wick, successfully created an atmosphere all their own. With this performance, DREAMERS proved they are at the forefront of a new musical movement, pioneering a sound that truly reflects the physical embodiment of a millennial aesthetic which is, no doubt, highly approved of by the current generation of music enthusiasts.
After DREAMERS’s set came the highly anticipated performance by The Maine. As a staple of the Modern Nostalgia Tour, the band performed not one, but two different albums in their entirety. As a result, The Maine’s set took part in two sections, starting with their newest (2017) album Lovely Little Lonely. After a brief intermission, which lead vocalist John O’Callaghan joked served as the band’s chance to “change their suits, socks, and underwear,” The Maine began their second set of the night. As they made their way through their 2015 album American Candy, O’Callaghan stopped to have a heart-to-heart conversation with the crowd. The band’s song, “24 Floors” brings listeners into the mind of a person standing on the 24th floor of a hotel, struggling with the will to live, and whether or not to take their own life. It narrates a raging inner battle between one’s depression and the support from others to cherish every last moment in life. O’Callaghan pleaded with the crowd and explained that while the phrase, “it’s ok to not be ok” may seem cliché, the real meaning lies in realizing that there are people who care and are willing to help when things seem farther from ok then we may want to admit. In other words, we must find the strength within ourselves and others to not give in.
“If you can look around, you can see your friends. I see all my friends up here on the stage. I know that not everybody’s ok all the time. But it comforts me knowing that these guys and those people hopefully out there have your fucking back when you’re not ok. Ok? You guys gave us the ability to make and create music and for that we are forever in your debt. Thank you very much for letting us be closer to ok. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.” – John O’Callaghan
In my opinion, the true beauty of the Modern Nostalgia Tour lay in the ability of each of these three groups to touch upon a different part of what makes music so special. In other words, viewers left with a sense of comradery and experienced not only a spectacular show but an emotional journey as well. The performance included everything from quiet reflection, to rebelliousness inspiration, to motivation to love and support each other. In other words, the Modern Nostalgia Tour didn’t just feel like the happiest place on Earth, it felt like home.
By: Jessica Nakamoto