FEATURING: 5 Pop-Side Artists (Who Aren’t Billie Eilish) Making Waves with Fantastic New Music

Billie Eilish continues to dominate the music scene with her unique sound and chart-topping hits. However, there are many other artists making significant strides with their new releases. Here are five mainstream artists you should definitely check out, spanning a range of genres and styles, most of who have recently released fresh tracks.

1. Sabrina Carpenter

"Espresso" single cover

Sabrina Carpenter has been steadily rising in the pop music scene, and her recent releases are a testament to her growth as an artist. Her fifth studio album, emails i can’t send, released on July 15, 2022, debuted at number 23 on the Billboard 200, marking her highest entry on the chart to date. The album featured singles like “Vicious” and “Nonsense,” the latter peaking at number 56 on the Hot 100 and achieving Platinum certification. Following this, she embarked on the Emails I Can’t Send tour in September 2022.

In March 2023, Carpenter released a deluxe edition of the album, with the single “Feather” becoming her highest-charting song, reaching number 21 on the Hot 100 and number one on the US Pop Songs chart. She performed at high-profile events like the 2023 MTV Video Music Awards pre-show and Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve 2023. Her involvement in Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour as the opening act for several international shows further solidified her growing stardom. Recently, she released the single “Espresso” on April 12, 2024, which became her first top-10 hit on the Hot 100, peaking at number four, coinciding with her performance at Coachella 2024.

Sabrina Carpenter
Sabrina Carpenter

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2. Renee Rapp

Renne Rapp's 'Snow Angel' album cover

Renee Rapp, known for her Broadway roots in Mean Girls: The Musical, has made significant strides in her music career. She recently reprised her role as Regina George in the musical film adaptation of Mean Girls, released in theaters on January 12, 2024, and on streaming on March 5, 2024. However, Rapp has expressed her intention to focus solely on her music career due to the anxiety she experienced in the acting environment.

Rapp’s debut extended play, Everything to Everyone, released in November 2022, was followed by a deluxe version in February 2023. Her debut studio album, Snow Angel, dropped on August 18, 2023, and a deluxe version with additional tracks, including a remix of “Tummy Hurts” featuring Coco Jones, was released in November 2023. She has been actively touring, with her Snow Hard Feelings tour, supported by Alexander 23 and Towa Bird, showcasing her dynamic stage presence and deep connection with her audience. Rapp’s music blends pop and R&B influences, creating a sound that is both contemporary and timeless.

Renee Rapp
Renee Rapp

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WILLOW's 'empathogen' album cover

WILLOW has continued to evolve her sound and artistic persona. In February 2022, she withdrew from Billie Eilish’s Happier Than Ever, The World Tour due to production limitations but quickly bounced back by featuring on Camila Cabello’s track “Psychofreak” in April 2022. Her fifth studio album, COPINGMECHANISM, released on October 7, 2022, features collaborations with Yves Tumor and showcases a bold dive into alternative rock with singles like “Maybe It’s My Fault” and “Hover Like a Goddess.”

WILLOW’s recent releases continue to push boundaries. Her first single since COPINGMECHANISM, “Alone,” came out in November 2023, followed by “Symptom of Life” in March 2024 and “Big Feelings” in April. She announced her sixth studio album, empathogen, which was released on May 4, 2024. With a unique blend of punk, metal, and introspective lyrics, WILLOW’s new work explores themes of identity and self-discovery, solidifying her place as a dynamic force in the music industry.

Photography: Anthony Arquier

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4. Chappell Roan

Chappell Roan's "The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess" album cover

Chappell Roan has been steadily carving out a niche for herself with her vibrant and catchy pop tunes. After moving back to Los Angeles in 2022, Roan worked a series of odd jobs before signing a publishing deal with Sony. Her independent single “Naked in Manhattan,” released in March 2022, was praised as a “queer girl bop” by NPR, highlighting her tender and nostalgic lyrics. Following this, she joined Olivia Rodrigo’s Sour Tour and Fletcher’s Girl of My Dreams Tour, gaining significant exposure.

Roan’s subsequent releases, including “Femininomenon” and “Casual,” showcased her versatility and willingness to experiment with different sounds and themes. Her debut headlining tour, Naked in North America, in early 2023, was a hit, featuring themed stops and drag queen openers. Roan’s first full-length album, The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess, released in September 2023, further established her as a rising star. Following the album’s release, she embarked on the Midwest Princess Tour, which saw her performing across North America and internationally. Her latest single, “Good Luck, Babe!”, released in April 2024, has already garnered significant attention, debuting at number 77 on the Billboard Hot 100 and achieving 7 million streams in its first week. Roan’s growing popularity on Spotify and high-profile performances, including at Coachella, mark her as an artist on the rise.

Chappell Roan
Chappell Roan
Photography: Ryan Clemens

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5. Olivia Rodrigo

Olivia Rodrigo's 'Guts' album cover

Olivia Rodrigo burst onto the scene with her debut single “drivers license,” and she hasn’t slowed down since. Her Disney+ documentary, Olivia Rodrigo: Driving Home 2 U, detailing the making of her debut album Sour, was released on March 25, 2022. Rodrigo received seven nominations at the 64th Annual Grammy Awards, winning Best New Artist, Best Pop Vocal Album for Sour, and Best Pop Solo Performance for “drivers license”.

Rodrigo’s second album, GUTS, released on September 8, 2023, debuted atop the Billboard 200 and was acclaimed as the most critically acclaimed album of 2023 by BBC News. The album’s lead single, “Vampire”, became her third single to debut at number one on the Billboard Hot 100, making her the first artist to debut the lead singles from two career-opening albums at No. 1 on the Hot 100. Following the success of GUTS, Rodrigo announced her GUTS World Tour, which runs from February to October 2024. She also released a deluxe version of the album, GUTS (Spilled), in March 2024. On April 13, 2024, Rodrigo made a special guest appearance at No Doubt’s Coachella show, where she performed the band’s 2000 single “Bathwater” alongside them. Rodrigo’s music continues to capture the angst and emotions of youth, solidifying her place as a pop icon for a new generation.

Olivia Rodrigo
Olivia Rodrigo
Nick Walker

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Billie Eilish’s Latest Release: Yeah…We Couldn’t Ignore This One

Billie Eilish "Hit Me Hard and Soft" album cover

You didn’t think we’d skip over Billie Eilish’s new album, did you?

On April 8, 2024, Billie Eilish announced her third studio album, Hit Me Hard and Soft, which was released on May 17, 2024.

This album marks Eilish’s highest-performing album yet, with 339,000 units earned and over 193 million streams.

This album is incredible.

Despite a close race with Taylor Swift’s The Tortured Poets Department, Eilish’s album debuted at number two on the albums chart. To support the album, she announced the Hit Me Hard and Soft: The Tour, which will cover North America, Oceania, and Europe from September 2024 to July 2025.

While Eilish and Swift continue to dominate the charts, these five artists are proving that there is plenty of fresh talent in the music industry. Sabrina Carpenter, Renee Rapp, WILLOW, Chappell Roan, and Olivia Rodrigo each bring something unique to the table, offering new music that is well worth a listen. Whether you’re into pop, rock, or something in between, these artists have something for everyone.

Honorable Mentions

For those interested in more emerging artists making waves with their recent releases, here are a few to check out:

    Billie Eilish
    Billie Eilish
    Photography: William Drumm

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    Featured photos (top, from left to right) by Anthony Arquier (WILLOW), Unknown (Sabrina Carpenter, Renee Rapp), Ryan Clemens (Chappell Roan), Nick Walker (Olivia Rodrigo)


    NEW YORK — 

    “My intention writing this song was to get myself out of deep, heavy, painful feelings and move towards the light,” NYC-based art pop singer/songwriter BRIDGET BARKAN says, sprinkling positivity and support on our breakfasts this morning with her new single and music video “GOOD THINGS,” released May 21, 2024.

    Sonically glam/pop meets Grizzly Bear meets Pat Benatar, this “actress of music” and former Scissor Sisters backup singer says, “theatrical performance is always there for music videos, and my dance background always finds its way back in, as well.”

    Bridget Barkan “Good Things” Music Video

    Emotionally weighted by personal tragedies, loss, and challenges exacerbated by the events of October 7, 2023 and the ongoing war in Gaza, Bridget was mired deep in a dark place. “I was going through a lot emotionally and personally that October, as were a lot of people in the world with the attack on October 7th and the impending war,” she explains. “All that I was going through personally exploded out of me, and I found connections between a lot of the experiences: the duality of sorrow and relief, as well as the heart’s true compassion… No matter the perspective, you can see that many truths exist at the same time.” 

    Losing her father (the celebrated songwriter/producer Marcus Barkan who wrote for Nat King Cole, Lesley Gore and even wrote the Banana Splits theme song “Tra La La”, among many others) during the pandemic meant she had to struggle with the loss in isolation due to the quarantine. Bridget also suffered a great deal of personal trauma in the last year from a miscarriage and a difficult breakup. “Good Things” finds her emerging from the grief to celebrate life and overcome all this hardship. The accompanying video is an incredibly beautifully shot and dramatized expression of the song, really showcasing her artistry and vision, capturing the beauty and wonder in life while also grappling with the inevitable pain– reminding everyone they are not alone.

    Bridget Barkan "Good Things" artwork
    Bridget Barkan
    Photo credit: Will Polanco

    Written from a 5-step songwriting process Bridget invented as a songwriting workshop instructor at Carnegie Hall where, for the last seven plus years, she has taught incarcerated youth and NYC teachers, “Good Things” holds onto the glimmer of light in a dark and hardened world. 

    Bridget explains about a line from the song: “I used to love October changing leaves on Halloween, but this is the month I was almost a mother, now little pumpkins mean something different to me“:

    “This lyric is probably the hardest to sing, but it came without effort and it rhymed without thinking. It’s such an honest feeling, and describes all of the fun things you imagine doing with your children on Halloween (putting your baby in a pumpkin costume, taking them trick-or-treating)… a deep sense of longing through a very simplistic description.” While expressing a very poignant take, the song remains upbeat and encouraging.

    A regular in the NYC artsy pop underground that includes Bright Light Bright Light, Xavier Smith, and John Cameron Mitchell among many others, Bridget is a “Jill of All Trades” on a one woman journey through love and loss. She also formerly toured the world with Scissor Sisters and can be seen in their earth-shattering “Let’s Have A Kiki” video as one of Ana Matronic’s crew. Having inherited her father’s knack for songwriting, Bridget’s intrinsic artistry and talent is a legacy she proudly carries.

    More About “Good Things”:

    The video, directed and edited by Bridget, herself, and co-edited by Isabel Del Rosal and co-starring “twin-dancer” Casey Urban, shows Bridget using “dance to move energy and emotion through me. I feel it’s healing, so I consider this video a ritual to release the sadness,” she expresses. “The Boom Box Room was a perfect location. It has so many different light options, so I just went with it. There were some unplanned, organic things that happened with one rainbow light set up, which showed a more expressive and fun side of the song…”

    Still image from Bridget Barkan's "Good Things" music video
    Still image from Bridget Barkan’s “Good Things” music video

    “…My co-director Isabel said she could see me outdoors in part of the video, and I realized,Of course! Rain makes things grow, and sadness can make things grow!So, we went to the botanical gardens and stole some shots of the blooming flowers before we got kicked out.”

    Still image from Bridget Barkan's "Good Things" music video
    Still image from Bridget Barkan’s “Good Things” music video

    More About Bridget: 

    Bridget Barkan is a chameleon artist who shape-shifts through genre and style with a thread of raw truth and soul, woven into every melody and lyric. A native New Yorker, she has toured the world with pop/glam band Scissor Sisters, opened for Lady Gaga with them, and has performed with Bright Light Bright Light and Slow Knights. Starring in LGBTQ romantic classic “Walk with Me,” as a singer/songwriter, Bridget was featured on the original album, as well.

    As a singer, she has shared the stage with Drag legends Joey Arias, Murray Hill and more and has released singles with the House DJ/producer legend Todd Terry, as well as numerous of her own singles. She worked closely with Baz Luhrmann as the voice of Misty Holloway on the Netflix show “The Get Down.” As a child actress, she has appeared in countless commercials and Sesame Street. She has starred in HBO’s Everyday People, Sherrybaby, Redacted, God’s Pocket, Steven Soderbergh’s The Knick and had a recurring role as a one-legged “hooker” on Law & Order: SVU.

    On stage, Barkan has appeared in numerous productions including Dog Sees God and alongside Lea Michelle in a workshop of Spring Awakening.

    Follow Bridget Barkan Online

    Featured photo (top) by Will Polanco

    ALBUM REVIEW: ’empathogen’ – WILLOW’s Artistic Renaissance Transcends Boundaries

    WILLOW’s empathogen, released on May 3, 2024, emerges as a captivating blend of genres, heavily infused with jazz and maintaining an edge with rock, R&B, and dark pop music influences. empathogen is deeply embedded in black culture and musical traditions while exploring human imperfection and mental health struggles. This album solidifies her place as a transformative artist in contemporary music.

    The album’s opener, “home” (feat. Jon Batiste), immediately sets the tone with percussive prominence that seems to be channeling African music in combination with jazz. Collaborating with Batiste, WILLOW creates a vibrant and dynamic track that celebrates her cultural roots while pushing musical boundaries. It leaves the listener wondering what to expect with the tracks to follow, and frankly, whatever they assume is most likely incorrect.

    Throughout empathogen, WILLOW explores a diverse range of sounds and styles, showcasing her impressive versatility. In an unconventional usage of the term – I want to call the album “chaotic good”. She infuses moments with her signature style, offering intriguing vocal flourishes that fluidly transition between head voice and chest voice. One of the album’s standout features is WILLOW’s impressive vocal range, which she fearlessly exercises throughout each track. Her voice carries a beautiful timbre, and from soulful melodies, powerful belting, to yodeling, she effortlessly navigates wildly diverse vocal techniques with excellent control. When combined, it underscores her undeniable talent, along with masterful honing of skill. In “ancient girl,” she deftly employs vocal flipping techniques while remaining monotonous for the most part, adding an intriguing layer to the track’s sonic tapestry.

    There are a tremendously vast array of flavors of influence of a myriad of artists in empathogen, yet WILLOW asserts her distinct voice and identity. The fact that in many cases it is a bit of a challenge to put your finger on where you’ve heard some of these influences, in my opinion emphasizes how much she has taken them and made them her own, and they sound so well-executed and natural to her. The album’s musical atmosphere occasionally shares elements with Billie Eilish and BANKS. However, WILLOW incorporates experimental and ambient musicality that creates a unique sonic landscape.

    Fun fact: WILLOW was actually slated to open for Billie Eilish on her “Happier Than Ever World Tour” in 2022, but had to let go of the opportunity due to production limitations. Can you imagine the power of the combination of these two artists in a line-up?!

    Interestingly, despite missing out on that collaboration, WILLOW and Eilish are currently on somewhat synchronistic paths. WILLOW released her album this month, and she is gearing up to tour across North America with Childish Gambino starting in August. (WILLOW tour dates & tickets here)

    Meanwhile, in the same month – today, in fact – Eilish released her latest album, entitled HIT ME HARD AND SOFT. She will be kicking off her tour in September, and it will journey across North America, Australia, Europe, the UK, and Ireland and span into 2025. (Billie Eilish tour dates &tickets here)

    Beyond her celebrity status, WILLOW (Willow Smith) proves herself as a formidable artist, transcending preconceptions of being a “nepo-baby.” Her musical journey spans years, marked by phases of visibility and brilliance. WILLOW has released six studio albums and one album under the moniker THE ANXIETY in collaboration with Tyler Cole, demonstrating her continuous evolution. empathogen solidifies her place in the industry, showcasing her growth and maturity as an artist. 

    This album is incredibly divergent from the genres of her past work, such as the more heavily rock n’ roll <COPINGMECHANISM> (2022), as is her band’s self-titled album THE ANXIETY. Her debut album ARDIPITHECUS is more classifiable as indie. The difference in her sound throughout each album release was mentioned in a recent interview between WILLOW and Jimmy Fallon. This is a testament to those chaotic good, continuous switches in genre. WILLOW keeps her music fresh-sounding and full of dopamine-triggering, enthralling surprises.

    As empathogen unfolds, listeners are treated to an auditory journey that defies expectations. Tracks like “symptom of life” highlight WILLOW’s ability to seamlessly blend genres, at the same time delivering introspective lyrics that resonate deeply with listeners. It never sounds out of place or inauthentic when WILLOW changes things up. When the upbeat, summary chorus hits, this particular track also makes you want to put on yellow heart-shaped sunglasses and enjoy a particularly cheerful-toned view while cruising down the road. Unlike her previous electric instrumentation-heavy work, empathogen initially relies on a lot of acoustic instrumentation, adding a raw and organic quality to her musical repertoire. The piano work in “symptom of life” is simply lovely.

    Similarly, the introspective track “the fear is not real” captivates with its ethereal soundscape and emotive vocals – at times breathy, and others, executed in a way that gives the song a tone that tells a story of tension. The lyrics indicate the inner battle experienced when left alone with one’s thoughts – the intensity of aversion to allowing oneself to do so, while making an effort to accept it is an important process: 

    In the silence, I can hear inside my mind
    In the silence, I can’t wear my disguise
    In the silence, in the silence,

    In the silence, I can hear inside my mind
    In the silence, I don’t know what I’ll find
    In the silence, in the silence,

    Don’t really wanna feel the freedom
    ‘Cause the parts of me I can’t see, they
    Wanna come out and fuel the fire, I don’t wonder why
    Never want to let me fall to pieces
    But it’s funny ’cause I think I need it

    With another dive deep into herself, “False self” emerges as a standout on empathogen. Here, WILLOW bares her soul, with vocals that outcry with raw emotion, and a chorus that rips. The musicality of the track resonates with angsty dark pop elements, further adding to its depth and intensity. It features lyrics like, “My false self must die, it’s no surprise” and “Feel the answer change, I don’t wanna change, but I need to change.”

    A guest appearance from St. Vincent in “pain for fun” adds an exciting dimension to the song, showcasing WILLOW’s ability to collaborate with other talented artists. St. Vincent, a stalwart in the music industry since 2003, brings her distinctive blend of indie rock and avant-garde pop to the track, enhancing its richness. Known for her innovative sound and acclaimed tracks like “Los Ageless,” St. Vincent’s collaboration with WILLOW adds a layer of depth and sophistication to empathogen. In parts, WILLOW utilizes her head voice, lending the track a softer, more effeminate quality. Honestly, an entire article could be written on all of the nuances of this 1 track alone.

    This wasn’t WILLOW’s first time coacting with a widely-acclaimed artist in her music. Another instance was in her lately I feel EVERYTHING (2021) album tracks “t r a n s p a r e n t s o u l” and “Gaslight” featuring Travis Barker of Blink-182. “Gaslight” is very pop-rock and made me think about Avril Lavigne. Momentarily, I questioned whether my musical ear was serving me well, until I scrolled down the track list and saw the track “G R O W” featuring Avril Lavigne and Travis Barker. It simply cannot be overstated that WILLOW’s discography is delightfully unpredictable, but all of it is incredibly appealing. It’s ear candy, and I am confident that many existing fans will continue to enjoy her, despite the significant diversity in her sounds.

    I apologize for the digression. Let us return to the review of empathogen

    “Down,” a brief down-tempo track, serves as a transitional piece leading to the solidly contrasting sound of “run!” – a single from the album that starts with a high chest voice like a yell, “I CAN’T GET OUT!” “Down”’s melancholic tone and Beyoncé-esque vocal quality provide a moment of introspection before the album’s energy shifts. And then, “i know that face.” is a very jazzy track.

    One thing that has pervaded throughout all of her albums is apparent emotional maturity that continues to crescendo with each release, along with wisdom beyond her years, and high overall intelligence. She was just 15 when she released ARDIPITHECUS, and sometimes she sounds her age – such as when shouting with a higher pitch, yet in many other instances, she sounds grown up due her deep voice and her solid abilities. I cannot deny that is another way I draw a connection between Eilish and Smith – that “old soul” vibe.

    “Acceptance is the key, acceptance gives me wings” – from the track “b i g f e e l i n g s”

    That is not to say WILLOW has never released less mature music, or that a 10-year-old child should be required to. Her musical debut was in 2010 with the Billboard-charting “Whip My Hair” – you’ve probably heard it. I had, not knowing who the artist was. And while her father’s music was enjoyable in its own right, and it’s like comparing apples to oranges, his daughter’s music truly makes his songs sound like child’s play in comparison.

    WILLOW’s clout may ebb and flow with public reception and industry dynamics, seeming to evade consistent well-deserved attention to her work and character. Yet, empathogen stands as a testament to her artistic vision, evolution as a musician, and unwavering commitment to her craft. With this album, she invites audiences to join her on a transcendent musical experience, where vulnerability meets strength and authenticity reigns supreme. WILLOW is poised to leave an indelible mark on the music industry for years to come.

    Follow WILLOW Online

    Shakira Announces First Run Of Dates On Las Mujeres Ya No Lloran World Tour

    Kicking Off November 2 In Palm Desert, CA

    On the heels of her chart-topping new album, GRAMMY®, and Latin GRAMMY® Award-winning artist Shakira has just announced the first string dates on her highly anticipated world tour, “Las Mujeres Ya No Lloran World Tour,” promoted by Live Nation, with 14 arena shows across North America kicking off this fallThe tour’s first leg will start on November 2 in Palm Desert, CA, and includes stops in Los Angeles, Miami, Toronto, Brooklyn, Chicago and more. See below for full tour routing. Known for her dynamic and high-energy performances, Shakira will bring tracks from her new album and her legendary catalog of hits to life on stage.

    Shakira Tickets


    Tickets will be available starting with a Citi presale (details below) beginning Wednesday, April 17. The artist presale will begin Friday, April 19 at 10am local time. Additional presales will run throughout the week ahead of the general onsale beginning Monday, April 22 at 10am local time at shakira.com.


    Citi is the official card of the “Las Mujeres Ya No Lloran World Tour” in the U.S. Citi cardmembers will have access to presale tickets beginning Wednesday, April 17 at 10am local time until Sunday, April 21 at 10pm local time through the Citi Entertainment program. For complete presale details visit www.citientertainment.com.


    Fans can also purchase VIP Packages, which may include premium tickets, a meet & greet and photo op with Shakira, an autographed item, access to the pre-show VIP lounge, an exclusive VIP merch item & more. VIP package contents vary based on the offer selected. For more information, visit vipnation.com.

    Shakira first hinted at the tour during her appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon last month. On Friday, the global superstar surprised fans at Coachella when she appeared during Bizarrap’s set to perform their global smash hit “Shakira: Bzrp Music Sessions, Vol. 53” and “La Fuerte,” both featured on her new album. Before exiting the stage, Shakira teased the tour news to a roaring crowd.

    Coachella marks the second time in the last month that Shakira has surprised fans with a showstopping performance. Last month, following the album release, Shakira shut down New York City’s Times Square giving a crowd of 40,000+ fans a peek into the energy of her live shows when she performed at the TSX Stage. The performance included her iconic hits like “Hips Don’t Lie,” “Te Felicito/TQG,” and “Session 53,” as well as “Puntería” and “Cómo Dónde y Cuándo” from her new album.

    The tour is in support of her new album, Las Mujeres Ya No Lloran, which in 24 hours of its release became the most streamed album of the year with over 10 billion, and was certified 7x platinum. The album debuted at #1 on Billboard’s Latin Album and Latin Pop Album Charts, while “Puntería” with Cardi B holds the #1 spot on both the Billboard Latin Airplay and Latin Pop Airplay chartsListen to the album HERE!

    This is Shakira’s first tour since 2018, when she wowed fans at sold out stadiums and arenas around the planet with the El Dorado World Tour, cementing her reputation as “an international pop goddess” (Rolling Stone).

    Shakira Tour Dates

    • Sat, Nov 02Palm Desert, CA – Acrisure Arena
    • Thu, Nov 07Phoenix, AZ – Footprint Center
    • Sat, Nov 09Los Angeles, CA – Kia Forum
    • Sat, Nov 16San Antonio, TX – Frost Bank Center
    • Sun, Nov 17Dallas, TX – American Airlines Center
    • Wed, Nov 20Miami, FL – Kaseya Center
    • Sat, Nov 23Charlotte, NC – Spectrum Center
    • Mon, Nov 25Washington, DC – Capital One Arena
    • Sat, Nov 30Toronto, ON – Scotiabank Arena
    • Thu, Dec 05Brooklyn, NY – Barclays Center
    • Sun, Dec 08Boston, MA – TD Garden
    • Tue, Dec 10Montreal, QC – Bell Centre
    • Sat, Dec 14Chicago, IL – United Center
    • Sun, Dec 15Detroit, MI – Little Caesars Arena

    About Shakira

    Shakira is a Colombian singer-songwriter and multi-GRAMMY® award winner. She has sold over 95 million records worldwide and has won numerous awards including three GRAMMYs®, twelve Latin GRAMMYs®, and multiple World Music Awards, American Music Awards and Billboard Music Awards, to name a few. She is the most-viewed female Latin artist, and one of the top-10 artists of all time on YouTube with over 27 billion cumulative views, and the most-streamed female Latin artist of all time on Spotify.

    Most recently, Shakira released her twelfth studio album, Las Mujeres Ya No Lloran to rave reviews. The album is a dazzling testament to her resilience and strength, as well as music’s power to transform the most trying experiences into precious moments. In the first 24 hours it was released, the album became the most streamed album 2024 and was certified 7x Platinum.

    Shakira’s previous album El Dorado ranked #1 on iTunes in 37 Countries, won Best Pop Vocal Album at the 2017 Latin GRAMMY® Awards, and Best Latin Pop Album at the 2018 GRAMMY® Awards. With over 12 billion streams, it is one of the most-streamed female albums of all time. In 24 hours, “SHAKIRA || BZRP Music Sessions #53” made history both on Spotify with over 14 million streams and on YouTube with over 52 million views. The song debuted at #9 on the Billboard Hot 100 and is another historic moment for Shakira as she is the first solo woman to debut in the Top 10 on the chart with a song recorded in Spanish. It is also the Spanish language song with the most streams in a single day in Spotify history. In September, Shakira received the MTV Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award at the MTV Video Music Awards and in honor of her award put on a breathtaking performance of her greatest hits.

    Less than a week after releasing her critically acclaimed new album, Las Mujeres Ya No Lloran, Shakira surprised a crowd of over 40,000 people, the largest audience for a performance in Times Square, with a mesmerizing performance at the TSX Stage.

    Billie Eilish Announces HIT ME HARD AND SOFT: THE TOUR

    Following the news of her highly anticipated third studio album HIT ME HARD AND SOFT, set for release on May 17 (pre-order/add/save HERE), Billie Eilish has announced arena dates, produced by Live Nation, for her HIT ME HARD AND SOFT: THE TOUR

    Starting in September 2024, Eilish will embark on her North American leg of the tour which runs through to the end of December 2024. The tour will continue in Australia starting February 2025 ahead of her European, U.K., and Ireland arena dates starting in April until late July. For a full list of tour dates, see below or visit BillieEilish.com

    Billie Eilish tour ad banner

    Tickets for BILLIE EILISH: HIT ME HARD AND SOFT: THE TOUR will be available starting with the American Express® Presale beginning Tuesday, April 30, with additional presales running throughout the week. Any remaining tickets will be available during the general on-sale starting Friday, May 3 on BillieEilish.com. On-sale start times vary by market, check local listings for more information.

    American Express® Card Members can purchase tickets before the general public beginning Tuesday, April 30 (while supplies last) – this is one of the many entertainment benefits American Express Card Members can access. Presale start + end times will vary by market, check your local listings at BillieEilish.com for more information.

    Sustainability Efforts

    Billie Eilish will continue her long-standing partnership with environmental nonprofit REVERB on this tour, building on the success of previous efforts, which resulted in over $1 million donated to environmental, greenhouse gas reduction, and climate justice projects, more than 150,000 fan actions, and much more. Sustainability efforts on this tour will include reducing greenhouse gas pollution, decreasing single-use plastic waste, supporting climate action, and updating concession offerings to promote and encourage plant-based food options with Support+Feed.


    In keeping with her commitment to making a difference in the environmental impacts of her music and touring, a portion of the proceeds from ticket sales in North America will go to REVERB and its ongoing effort to help support organizations across the country addressing the impacts of food insecurity and the climate crisis.


    The Billie Eilish REVERB Eco-Villages will be set up at 2 locations in the main concourse of every show where fans can take part in the tour’s sustainability efforts, connect with nonprofits, and take meaningful action for people and the planet.


    For collective action at the intersection of climate and food, Support+Feed will be launching a 360 campaign throughout the tour. Following the success in 2022, Support+Feed will offer an expanded version of the Support+Feed Pledge inspiring fans to eat one plant-based meal a day for 30 days with digital elements and community activations. Fans will also have the opportunity to participate in Plant-based Food Drives in a selection of cities alongside the tour to raise awareness and gather food to distribute to local communities.


    Fans are encouraged to join the effort to make the HIT ME HARD AND SOFT: THE TOUR more sustainable. Where possible, take public transportation and carpool to and from the shows to help reduce greenhouse gas pollution and encourage more public transportation options. Fans will receive information via email about public transportation options before the show.


    Venue partners are also helping to lessen the environmental footprint of the tour. In addition to efforts to decrease waste through reducing or eliminating single-use plastics and diverting landfill waste with compost and recycling, venues will be offering plant-based food options at all shows.

    Fan Participation

    Bring an empty reusable water bottle or donate for a custom RockNRefill Nalgene bottle to fill up at the free water refill stations located at each venue. The RockNRefill bottles and refill stations are located at the Eco-Villages in the main concourse at all shows. Fight fast fashion by opting for thrifted, upcycled, or borrowed clothes instead of buying new clothing to wear to shows.

    Billie Eilish Tour Dates 2024-2025


    • Sun, Sep 29Québec, QC – Centre Videotron
    • Tue, Oct 01Toronto, ON – Scotiabank Arena
    • Wed, Oct 02Toronto, ON – Scotiabank Arena
    • Fri, Oct 04Baltimore, MD – CFG Bank Arena
    • Sat, Oct 05Philadelphia, PA – Wells Fargo Center
    • Mon, Oct 07Detroit, MI – Little Caesars Arena
    • Wed, Oct 09Newark, NJ – Prudential Center
    • Fri, Oct 11Boston, MA – TD Garden
    • Sun, Oct 13Pittsburgh, PA – PPG Paints Arena
    • Wed, Oct 16New York, NY – Madison Square Garden
    • Thu, Oct 17New York, NY – Madison Square Garden
    • Fri, Oct 18New York, NY – Madison Square Garden
    • Sat, Nov 02Atlanta, GA – State Farm Arena
    • Sun, Nov 03Atlanta, GA – State Farm Arena
    • Wed, Nov 06Nashville, TN – Bridgestone Arena
    • Fri, Nov 08Cincinnati, OH – Heritage Bank Center
    • Sun, Nov 10Saint Paul, MN – Xcel Energy Center
    • Mon, Nov 11Saint Paul, MN – Xcel Energy Center
    • Wed, Nov 13Chicago, IL – United Center
    • Thu, Nov 14Chicago, IL – United Center
    • Sat, Nov 16Kansas City, MO – T-Mobile Center
    • Sun, Nov 17Omaha, NE – CHI Health Center Omaha
    • Tue, Nov 19Denver, CO – Ball Arena
    • Wed, Nov 20Denver, CO – Ball Arena
    • Tue, Dec 03Vancouver, BC – Rogers Arena
    • Thu, Dec 05Seattle, WA – Climate Pledge Arena
    • Fri, Dec 06Seattle, WA – Climate Pledge Arena
    • Sun, Dec 08Portland, OR – Moda Center
    • Tue, Dec 10San Jose, CA – SAP Center at San Jose
    • Wed, Dec 11San Jose, CA – SAP Center at San Jose
    • Fri, Dec 13Glendale, AZ – Desert Diamond Arena
    • Sun, Dec 15Inglewood, CA – Kia Forum
    • Mon, Dec 16Inglewood, CA – Kia Forum
    • Tue, Dec 17Inglewood, CA – Kia Forum


    • Tue, Feb 18, 2025Brisbane, Australia – Brisbane Entertainment Centre
    • Wed, Feb 19, 2025Brisbane, Australia – Brisbane Entertainment Centre
    • Fri, Feb 21, 2025Brisbane, Australia – Brisbane Entertainment Centre
    • Sat, Feb 22, 2025Brisbane, Australia – Brisbane Entertainment Centre
    • Mon, Feb 24, 2025Sydney, Australia – Qudos Bank Arena
    • Tue, Feb 25, 2025Sydney, Australia – Qudos Bank Arena
    • Thu, Feb 27, 2025Sydney, Australia – Qudos Bank Arena
    • Fri, Feb 28, 2025Sydney, Australia – Qudos Bank Arena
    • Tue, Mar 4, 2025Melbourne, Australia – Rod Laver Arena
    • Wed, Mar 5, 2025Melbourne, Australia – Rod Laver Arena
    • Fri, Mar 7, 2025Melbourne, Australia – Rod Laver Arena
    • Sat, Mar 8, 2025Melbourne, Australia – Rod Laver Arena


    • Wed, Apr 23, 2025Stockholm, Sweden – Avicii Arena
    • Thu, Apr 24, 2025Stockholm, Sweden – Avicii Arena
    • Sat, Apr 26, 2025Oslo, Norway – Telenor Arena
    • Mon, Apr 28, 2025Copenhagen, Denmark – Royal Arena
    • Tue, Apr 29, 2025Copenhagen, Denmark – Royal Arena
    • Fri, May 2, 2025Hannover, Germany – ZAG Arena
    • Sun, May 4, 2025Amsterdam, Netherlands – Ziggo Dome
    • Mon, May 5, 2025Amsterdam, Netherlands – Ziggo Dome
    • Wed, May 7, 2025Amsterdam, Netherlands – Ziggo Dome
    • Fri, May 9, 2025Berlin, Germany – Uber Arena
    • Thu, May 29, 2025Cologne, Germany – Lanxess Arena
    • Fri, May 30, 2025Cologne, Germany – Lanxess Arena
    • Sun, June 1, 2025Prague, Czech Republic – O2 Arena
    • Tue, June 3, 2025Kraków, Poland – Tauron Arena
    • Wed, June 4, 2025Kraków, Poland – Tauron Arena
    • Fri, June 6, 2025Vienna, Austria – Stadthalle
    • Sun, June 8, 2025Bologna, Italy – Unipol Arena
    • Tue, June 10, 2025Paris, France – Accor Arena
    • Wed, June 11, 2025Paris, France – Accor Arena
    • Sat, June 14, 2025Barcelona, Spain – Palau Sant Jordi
    • Sun, June 15, 2025Barcelona, Spain – Palau Sant Jordi
    • Mon, Jul 7, 2025Glasgow, UK – OVO Hydro
    • Tue, Jul 8, 2025Glasgow, UK – OVO Hydro
    • Thu, Jul 10, 2025London, UK – The O2
    • Fri, Jul 11, 2025London, UK – The O2
    • Sun, Jul 13, 2025London, UK – The O2
    • Mon, Jul 14, 2025London, UK – The O2
    • Wed, Jul 16, 2025London, UK – The O2
    • Thu, Jul 17, 2025London, UK – The O2
    • Sat, Jul 19, 2025Manchester, UK – Co-op Live
    • Sun, Jul 20, 2025Manchester, UK – Co-op Live
    • Tue, Jul 22, 2025Manchester, UK – Co-op Live
    • Wed, Jul 23, 2025Manchester, UK – Co-op Live
    • Sat, Jul 26, 2025Dublin, Ireland – 3Arena
    • Sun, Jul 27, 2025Dublin, Ireland – 3Arena

    *The tour wants to give fans, not scalpers, the best chance to buy tickets at face value. To make this possible they have chosen to use Ticketmaster’s Face Value Exchange. If fans purchase tickets for a show in the U.S. or Canada and can’t attend, they’ll have the option to resell them to other fans at the original price paid. To help protect the Exchange, the tour has requested all tickets be mobile only and restricted from transfer. This applies to all shows except those in Colorado, Illinois, and New York where Face Value Exchange cannot be mandated. Please note, a valid bank account or debit card within the country of your event is required to sell on the Face Value Exchange. More information on how the Ticketmaster Exchange works is available here.

    About the New Record

    HIT ME HARD AND SOFT album artwork
    ‘HIT ME HARD AND SOFT’ album artwork
    William Drumm

    The forthcoming album, HIT ME HARD AND SOFT was written by Billie Eilish and FINNEAS, her brother and long-time collaborator, who also produced the album. HIT ME HARD AND SOFT will be available on all digital platforms, and in a continued effort to minimize waste and combat climate change; across all physical formats in limited variants on the same day, with the same track-listing and using 100% recyclable materials. For more information on all sustainable practices for this album release, please visit: SUSTAINABILITY – Billie Eilish | Store

    HIT ME HARD AND SOFT’ is out everywhere on May 17

    Pre-order/add/save HERE

    Billie Eilish Online

    Featured photo (top) by William Drumm

    ALBUM REVIEW: Taylor Swift’s ‘The Tortured Poets Department’ – A Personal Perspective

    I listened to Taylor Swift’s new album, The Tortured Poets Department, on Saturday while I was working out and walking. This is what I’ve been doing with countless other albums since the beginning of March. (I say “countless,” but that’s not true at all; I’ve actually been counting them in a spreadsheet.) I was kind of lukewarm on the proper album, but I enjoyed The Anthology (a surprise bonus album that was released along with TTPD*) a lot more.

    *Reader’s Note: For the purposes of everything I’m about to write, when I refer to “TTPD”, I’m referring to all of the songs encompassed on both albums.

    I’ve been reading a lot about TTPD, and I’ve been asked about my opinion on it more than logic might dictate, especially when you consider that I am not Taylor Swift’s target demographic. But the more I think about it, the more I realize that I’m not her target demographic in a manner that’s different from my initial suspicions.

    I once read an article about Swift wherein she mentioned that the majority of her focus is on the lyrics when writing a song. This makes a lot of sense; her songs are generally intensely personal and appeal to the type of people who are interested in breaking down the lyrics of the songs they enjoy, which is basically all Taylor Swift fans. This is why you’ll see so many posts from people, Swifties or otherwise, talking about how much they relate to individual tracks from TTPD.

    I’ve always known this about myself, but I don’t think I’ve ever had a reason to express it until now: I’m not a lyrics guy. Considering the multitude of comedic songs (and personal songs) I’ve written over the years, lyrics typically don’t command my initial focus when I listen to a song for the first time.

    I’m a music guy; I focus almost exclusively on the music in a song. If I’m paying attention to the words at all, it is because I’m interested in the melody. My favorite song on TTPD is “Cassandra”, and this is entirely because of the main piano riff and the way the vocals play off of that piano part during the verses. I didn’t even realize the song was about Greek mythology until someone else mentioned it in a post.

    If I do focus on the lyrics to a song at all and end up enjoying them, that’s a bonus, but it’s not even remotely a priority. Even my favorite comedy songs are songs where I happen to enjoy the music, even if they aren’t as funny as other songs. For example, Bo Burnham’s “Welcome To The Internet” is arguably one of the funniest songs heard throughout his Netflix comedy special Inside, but I’d rather listen to “Content”, the opening number that merely summarizes what the special is meant to be, and is only a fraction as hilarious, and this is entirely because I think that song is catchier.

    Because this is how I enjoy music (or why I sometimes don’t enjoy it) in totality, and because Taylor Swift is an artist who puts almost all of her emphasis on writing lyrics that are personal yet universal, I can appreciate the heck out of what she’s capable of while simultaneously understanding that our sensibilities are only going to parallel one another sometimes. Because a lot of the music on TTPD is bare and simplistic to allow the lyrics to have a platform where they can more effectively shine, there are fewer elements of those songs for me to personally really dig.

    I think TTPD is a good album. But I’m not a person for whom it should exist, not because I’m not a Swiftie, and not because I’m a 40-year-old man, but because I’m a guy that hones in on different elements of music than where the intended audience casts their focus. And that’s okay, because it doesn’t matter how I feel about it; what matters is how YOU feel about it.

    It’s me. Hi. I’m the problem; it’s me.

    Scott Gesser’s music on Bandcamp:

    REVIEW: Primus, Puscifer, & A Perfect Circle Perform The True Sessanta Celebration for Maynard’s Official 60th Birthday at Talking Stick Resort Amphitheatre (4-16 & 17-2024)

    Jump to Photo Gallery

    April 16 Setlist | April 17 Setlist

    PHOENIX — Not everyone can invite thousands of people to their birthday party, but that is exactly what Maynard James Keenan did for the “Sessanta” (Italian for “60”) concert held at Talking Stick Resort Amphitheatre. He turned the stage into a “house party”, complete with living room sofas on the drum risers, ping pong tables, and Rock ‘Em, Sock ‘Em Robots, too! When the party guests are musician friends, a jam is inevitable. Fans were treated to a revolving mix of Puscifer, A Perfect Circle, and special guests Primus.

    Unlike the prototypical concert, there was no opening act and there was no headliner. This was a party of contemporaries taking turns at the helm and then joining together like alchemists creating something new. The comical video intro to the show promised Puscifer, Primus, A Perfect Circle, Primefer, A Primus Circle, A Pusifect Primcle, and A Prifmect Puscicle!

    The focus was the music. The sound was fantastic, arguably better than usual for this venue. The musicianship was flawless and the songs showcased the songwriting prowess. However, at times, the visual experience was disconcerting. The video feed was continually ‘artsy-fartsy’ with overlays of two separate video feeds infused with motion and tilt. This was obviously intentional and maybe it was supposed to mess with your head and keep you focused on the live show instead of watching TV! The issue that led to watching the video screens, however, was because there was very little front lighting on the performers.

    The light show in the background was a marvelous cacophony of color palettes and dynamic design, but the people in the lawn may not have even noticed Keenan’s black eye make-up on his shadowed face. Not to mention that the videographers did their damndest to keep from showing the reclusive Keenan on the ‘jumbotrons’ at all…presumably since they would be fired if they focused on him.

    Maynard James Keenan
    Maynard James Keenan (Vocalist), A Perfect Circle & Puscifer
    Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

    A Perfect Circle

    A Perfect Circle kicked off the 30-song ride by delivering “The Package,” “Disillusioned,” and “The Contrarian.” Keenan chose a three-piece black suit and a buttoned-down white shirt from his diverse selection of guises to complement his sculpted blonde mohawk. This outfit was befitting the ‘most interesting man in the world’ and could easily transition from his day-job of running a successful winery to bringing a touch of class to his night on the stage. By his side since the inception of the band, a quarter century ago, was guitarist/composer Billy Howerdel, who still looks exactly the same after all these years. Plus he is still playing the Cinnamon Burst Gibson Les Paul that is part of the signature sound of the band.

    Billy Howerdel
    Billy Howerdel (Guitarist, Vocalist), A Perfect Circle
    Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

    Sessanta had a two-evening engagement in Phoenix. On Tuesday, Keenan was 59-years-old. On Wednesday, he was 60. His voice still sounds like it’s in its prime! Each stanza harkened back to the creepy “Sober” video by Tool, when much of the world was introduced to his iconic vocal sound in 1993. From the haunting ‘mello, dramatic’ melodies to the gritty howls of angst, there was no doubt that he’s still got game.


    A Perfect Circle brought epic songs, but the beats per minute multiplied once the screens announced Primus. The elevated drum stage extended from stage left to stage right and all three drum sets were mic’d and ready to go. Primus kicked off their first set with “Those Damned Blue-Collar Tweekers,” followed by “Too Many Puppies,” “Sgt. Baker,” and “Follow The Fool.” There was definitely no time to go get a beer between bands.

    It was most certainly Keenan’s night, but if there was a close second, Les Claypool nearly stole the show. His bass playing is a master class in technique, proficiency, and feel. There is something about this band that shouts that there are no fucks given for them trying to fit into the mold of any genre of music…and it works. Claypool’s voice and melodies are like a brilliant comedy and grinning at his delivery is contagious.


    In the dark moments after the last Primus song, the musicians playing on center stage rotated once again. As the lights reignited, the sonic curtain was infused with synthesized textures and the continuous male/female vocal harmonies of Puscifer.

    Carina Round
    Carina Round (Vocalist), Puscifer
    Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

    Carina Round brought a feminine aesthetic to the party dominated by the boys and she was amazing. When she wasn’t in flight across the stage, choreographed with Keenan’s moves, she was playing the pads of a Waldorf Iridium synth and morphing the sounds on the touchscreen. This short first set included “Galileo,” “Tiny Monsters,” and “Indigo Children.” Guitarist Mat Mitchell stayed on the left side of the stage with a reserved swagger and elevated the heavy moments with rock riffs and solos from his star-shaped Kiesel.

    And So It Went…

    The revolving cast of characters continued throughout the evening. Each band played three sets and included top songs from their catalogs such as “Jerry Was A Racecar Driver” from Primus, “The Remedy” from Puscifer, and “Weak And Powerless” from A Perfect Circle. Nobody seemed to ever go to the green room when they weren’t playing. “Back stage” were the two the couch areas next to the three drum sets, and musicians would either just hang out there, or from time to time play ping pong down stage while waiting for their turn in the limelight.

    Carina Round and Maynard James Keenan
    Carina Round (Vocalist) & Maynard James Keenan (Vocalist), Puscifer
    Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

    There was only one brief 10-minute intermission, and even that proved to be entertaining with a video of Keenan made up to look way older than 60 and dressed in a hospital gown while breathing through a nasal cannula. Throughout the intermission, his character would fall asleep in the green-screen hospital room only to be awoken by the countdown announcing each minute left of the break. You come to expect Keenan’s humor after naming his wine “Merkin” and his band Puscifer, but his dad jokes as this old man really made you roll your eyes. “What did the pirate say when he turned eighty?…Ay matey”, “Why are rock stars so cool?…They have lots of fans,” and many others. You can watch this character in the promotional videos for the concert for more corny humor.

    Claypool was wearing a Pinnochio nose to compliment his familiar round glasses and derby cap as Primus wrapped up the preliminary rounds of music with the epicly plodding “Southbound Pachyderm.”  Then Keenan came on stage to interject that this is what it’s like to be 60! The enthusiastic crowd cheered and wished him a happy birthday. The next three songs were introduced as the new material from the Sessanta E.P.P.P (presumably more humor derived from being an extended play (EP) of Primus, Puscifer, and [A] Perfect Circle (P.P.P). This EP was available exclusively online or at the merch booth. Many fans were carrying around their purchased copies.

    Maynard James Keenan
    Maynard James Keenan (Vocalist), A Perfect Circle & Puscifer
    Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

    Each of the songs were slow, starting with piano-driven “Kindred” by A Perfect Circle with deep lyrics about dealing with death. Next up was “No Angel” by Puscifer, which spotlighted Mitchell with tasty guitar accents and the angelic voicings of Round reverberating in the background. The Primus song, “Pablo’s Hippos” was electric, and the subwoofer synth parts seemed to be emanating from inside your head instead of from the speakers! Guitarist Larry LeLonde was shredding on a two-neck Gibson SG reminiscent of Jimmy Page and Keenan guested as the lead singer with a few harmonies in injections from Claypool. Claypool also made several appearances throughout the evening playing a beautiful upright bass while wearing a pig mask.

    Matt McJunkins, A Perfect Circle
    Matt McJunkins, A Perfect Circle
    Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

    In addition to  crew videographers positioned in the photo pit, some unusual camerawork sights included: the video camera attached to a massive jib arm sweeping across the stage, emphasizing the grandeur of the occasion throughout the night, and drone cameras buzzing almost playfully over the lawn crowd. This no-doubt assured everyone that the experience would be captured in high quality. A good thing too, since cameras were otherwise strictly forbidden for this show, as is customary at Keenan’s concerts. Those caught disobeying would be ejected from the concert and ‘turned into the special ingredient of Spam’ – Keenan’s humor shining once more. However, for this one last song, fans and press photographers alike were finally permitted to indulge their need to shoot. He articulated the rule that lights and flash must not be used, and he quipped to “consult a 9-year-old if you don’t know how to do that”.

    Primus, Puscifer, A Perfect Circle
    Primus, Puscifer, & A Perfect Circle
    Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

    The culmination of the two nights of celebration was the full cast hitting the stage together for a monumental version of Puscifer’s “Grand Canyon.” The melody took on modes of distant cultures and the three drummers amplified the tribal feel.

    It was a great night of reminiscing with the eclectic mix of songs that abruptly came to an end, Keenan passing out fist bumps to everyone on stage who made his birthday party spectacular. We hope he will come back for “Settanta” when he turns 70!

    April 16 Setlist | April 17 Setlist

    Photo Gallery

    Photographer: Rodrigo Izquierdo

    Sessanta: Primus, Puscifer, A Perfect Circle – Talking Stick Resort Amphitheatre 4-16-24

    Photography © Reagle Photography
    All Rights Reserved

    REVIEW: Unveiling the Power of Humanity – The Intimate Journey of Victoria Canal and Lucy Clearwater at Valley Bar (3-28-24)

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    In an era where the encroaching presence of AI threatens to overshadow human creativity, encountering a live performance that seamlessly blends storytelling with musical prowess feels like a breath of fresh air. Such was the experience at Valley Bar, where best friends Victoria Canal and Lucy Clearwater embarked on a joint tour, reminding audiences of the profound connection that human creativity fosters. Valley Bar, nestled beneath a building slowly transforming into the Cornish Pasty, sits at the corner of Monroe St and Central Ave, providing an intimate setting for the evening’s festivities. Clearwater kicked off the show, later smoothly transitioning into Canal’s performance as a member of her band.

    Lucy Clearwater

    Clearwater assumed the spotlight, strumming her acoustic guitar; later, she would accompany Canal on guitar, as well as showcase her skill on the violin. Clearwater’s multifaceted talent is evident; while many turned to baking sourdough or online tutorials during recent times, she delved into learning German, becoming not only fluent but also a singer in the language with her EP Augenlieder. With her upcoming EP April on the horizon, Clearwater captivated the audience with her ability to evoke nostalgia for experiences yet to unfold, effortlessly blending voice, lyrics, and anecdotes.

    Lucy Clearwater performing with acoustic guitar at Valley Bar
    Lucy Clearwater (Vocalist, Guitarist)
    Katherine Amy Vega © All Rights Reserved

    Clearwater is exceptionally talented: while the rest of the world learned how to bake sourdough or used YouTube tutorials to learn how to knit during the COVID-19 pandemic, she delved into learning German, becoming not only an excellent speaker, but also a singer in the language with her EP Augenlieder. Perhaps she was inspired by Canal, who although Spanish-American, was born in Munich, Germany. Clearwater is a California native who can claim something almost no one else in the world can: she was born in a cookie factory in Northern California, according to the bio on her website

    Lucy Clearwater singing closeup
    Lucy Clearwater (Vocalist, Guitarist)
    Katherine Amy Vega © All Rights Reserved

    With her upcoming EP April on the horizon, Clearwater captivated the audience with her ability to evoke nostalgia for experiences yet to unfold, effortlessly blending voice, lyrics, and anecdotes. At one point, she asked if the audience was ready to go on an emotional rollercoaster with her, immediately apologizing as she recognized she had already started it before performing the first “angry song” she had ever written, “Reconciliation,” which is about her grandfather. 

    Lucy Clearwater with shinng emotional eyes
    Lucy Clearwater (Vocalist, Guitarist)
    Katherine Amy Vega © All Rights Reserved

    This show marked the eve of the release of “When You’re Down” as a single, set to debut the following day – March 29, 2024. The song served as a poignant response to the heartfelt tribute Canal had penned for her in “Chamomile”. Clearwater’s endearing vulnerability was palpable when she briefly stumbled over the lyrics of “When You’re Down,” only to be swiftly rescued by Canal from the side-stage. As she concluded her performance, Clearwater sealed the moment with a tender gesture, blowing a kiss to Canal, thereby emphasizing the profound bond they share.

    Victoria Canal 

    A masterful storyteller in her own right, Canal possesses a voice that effortlessly communicates the essence of life through her music. With Clearwater added to the stage, alongside bassist James Quinlan, a synergy ignites. Canal charmingly engages with the crowd, who bask in the warmth of their bond.

    Victoria Canal (Vocalist, Guitarist) & Lucy Clearwater (Vocalist, Guitarist)
    Katherine Amy Vega © All Rights Reserved

    Canal is well connected, name dropping Coldplay’s Chris Martin – explaining that he challenged her to write a song at a songwriting camp before removing his shirt in front of her and finishing his laps. He has hailed her “Swan Song” as “one of the best songs ever written” and even collaborated with her on a duet rendition. She has also worked with plenty of other artists and songwriters, such as the legendary Kylie Minogue, Gavin DeGraw, and Adele, and has put out an impressive body of work already. 

    Victoria Canal emoting strongly while singing
    Victoria Canal (Vocalist, Pianist)
    Katherine Amy Vega © All Rights Reserved

    Despite being born with a limb difference, she defies limitations, impressively playing both piano and guitar. In an interview with Gay Times, Canal said, “My limb difference is the least interesting thing about me.” This sentiment was evident in every song she performed, as each was preceded by a heartfelt backstory, inviting the audience into her world with candid vulnerability. Through her narrative and music, she fearlessly delves into topics such as body dysmorphia, gay culture, and the journey of embracing her authentic self in her sexual identity.

    Victoria Canal playing guitar with her limb difference visible
    Victoria Canal (Vocalist, Guitarist)
    Katherine Amy Vega © All Rights Reserved

    Together, Canal and Clearwater exuded a synergy that elevated their performance to unparalleled heights. As they interwove their narratives and melodies, it became evident that their friendship was not only the foundation of their tour but also a driving force behind their creative expression. As the evening drew to a close, it was clear that in the face of technological advancements, it is the human spirit, embodied by artists like Canal and Clearwater, that continues to illuminate the path forward.

    Photo Galleries

    Photographer: Katherine Amy Vega

    View Separately on Flickr:
    Victoria Canal | Lucy Clearwater

    Victoria Canal & Lucy Clearwater – Valley Bar 3-28-24

    Photography © Katherine Amy Vega, Kataklizmic Design
    All Rights Reserved.

    Extreme Reemerge At The Top Of Their Game at The Van Buren (2-23-24)

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    Phoenix, AZ — Living Colour could be described as a funk band infused with hard rock, and Extreme, a hard rock band infused with funk. The fusion of these two bands playing the intimate Van Buren venue was magical. The first couple of songs from each band solidified the notion that they were bands that comprised elite musicians with chemistry and executed every musical nuance with collaborative precision. This leg of the “Thicker Than Blood” world tour started with U.S. dates in January, and they’ve had night-after-night to perfect their performance before their arrival in Phoenix.

    Both groups emerged on the scene in that bygone era known as the 80s, and their timing couldn’t be better for their resurgence among music lovers craving this nostalgia. It wasn’t just the classic songs that sparked interest in this show. Extreme is touring in support of their new album, SIX, released last June, which has been met with an unexpectedly warm reception. Even the band has been surprised at the response that has shot the album into the top ten in some countries (peaked at 67 in the U.S. so far), and given their music videos millions of views on YouTube. 

    Extreme's SIX black LP
    SIX double vinyl

    The music industry may have turned its back on guitar heroes, but the people have spoken. This was a sold out show. They came out en masse to see two of the finest guitarists on earth (and beyond): Vernon Reid of Living Colour, who sets the pace, and the great Nuno Bettencourt, who exceeds all speed limits.

    Living Colour

    Corey Glover (Vocalist), Living Colour
    Corey Glover (Vocalist), Living Colour
    Mark Greenawalt © All Rights Reserved

    Guitarist Vernon Reid was the first to grace the stage as he strolled out like a long-lost friend, greeting everyone with a smile and a wave, and wearing a Salvador Dali T-shirt and a scally cap hat. Next, singer Corey Glover sauntered onto the stage dressed to the nines, with colorful dreads for days. Next was bassist Doug Wimbish (also known for his Sugar Hill recordings), wearing his signature hat and primed to slap his signature Spector Euro 5-string bass. Noticeably absent was drummer Will Calhoun, but filling in for him was James ‘Biscuit’ Rouse, whose résumé includes stints with Usher, Pharrell, Chic, Stevie Wonder, and more. According to the Living Colour website, Calhoun had some previous commitments for a handful of dates, and this was one of them.

    Corey Glover singing at The Van Buren
    Corey Glover (Vocalist), Living Colour
    Mark Greenawalt © All Rights Reserved

    They opened their set with “Middle Man” from their 1988 debut Vivid, and “Leave It Alone” from their 1993 release Stain. Opening thoughts were that Glover’s voice was in top form and so very soulful, and that Reid can get a multitude of sounds from a pedal board that looks like the showroom of a music store. He then takes those sounds and turns them into sonic freight trains of blistering solos and iconic style.

    Vernon Reid (Guitarist), Living Colour
    Mark Greenawalt © All Rights Reserved

    A couple of cover songs landed in the set: The first was “Kick Out The Jams” by MC5, and it improved on the original. Glover’s voice gives more melody to the verses, but keeps the growl as needed for the payoff lines. Then, they performed a medley of hip hop songs from the Wimbish-led Sugar Hill label, including Melle Mel’s “White Lines (Don’t Do It)”, Sugar Hill Gang’s “Jump On It”, and Grandmaster Flash’s “The Message.”

    Doug Wimbish (Bassist), Living Colour
    Doug Wimbish (Bassist), Living Colour
    Mark Greenawalt © All Rights Reserved

    Living Colour wrapped their set up with the Grammy Award-winning “Cult Of Personality,” their breakout hit from 1988 with the music video that introduced them to crossover audiences. It was fantastic to see them back on the stage, doing this song and the handful of other songs that defined their unique brand of fusion rock/funk. They’ve still got it.


    Gary Cherone (Vocalist), Extreme
    Gary Cherone (Vocalist), Extreme
    Mark Greenawalt © All Rights Reserved

    This band hits the stage with all cylinders firing. Extreme’s high-energy music is amplified by the incomparable showmanship of frontman Gary Cherone, who left no area of the stage untouched. He even climbed the amplifier stacks for higher vantage points, commanding attention with exceptional charisma. His voice seems to have not aged and continues to possess the range for soft, low ballads to the primal screams that teeter on the verge of breaking.

    As they opened with “It (‘s A Monster)” and “Decadence Dance” from their double platinum album Pornograffitti, Cherone was dressed in a black snake-skin-pattern sports coat, donning sunglasses with an ‘X’ over the right lens, and sporting his signature headband. His bold look and remarkable stage presence evoked elements of the great Motown performers, and he even mixed in a couple of lines from Sam Cooke’s “Cupid” somewhere in the night.

    Gary Cherone (Vocalist), Extreme singing at The Van Buren
    Gary Cherone (Vocalist), Extreme
    Mark Greenawalt © All Rights Reserved

    Fans were anxious to see if guitarist Nuno Bettencourt could pull off the scorching guitar riffs that he had perfected in the studio, and they were not disappointed. He had set the bar pretty high, yet made it look effortless as his left hand (the one with the black fingernail polish) blurred across the high frets of his Washburn N4 guitar. When “Rise” was released (the first single from SIX), the news spread like wildfire that ‘you have to check out Nuno’s new guitar solo!’ …Did he nail it live? It is a resounding yes, but we had to wait until the encore to hear it. It was worth the wait.

    Rick Beato (Everything Music Channel) interviewed Bettencourt on his podcast about the massive response and it’s a great interview.

    Nuno Bettencourt (Guitarist), Extreme
    Nuno Bettencourt (Guitarist), Extreme
    Mark Greenawalt © All Rights Reserved

    Extreme was not resting on their laurels and playing all catalog hits. “#Rebel” was the first of six new songs to be sprinkled into the setlist. Cherone led the audience to sing-along with the angsty lyric “Hey, you got something to say? You talking to me as you’re walking away?” 

    Pat Badger (Bassist), Extreme
    Pat Badger (Bassist), Extreme
    Mark Greenawalt © All Rights Reserved

    Bassist Pat Badger and drummer Kevin Figueiredo may not have been the focal points of the limelight, but their contributions to the Extreme sound and their stellar musicianship did not go unnoticed. Plus, they both multitask with singing vocals while performing their instrumental duties and helping to build the wall of harmonies that elevate each chorus.

    Kevin Figueiredo (Drummer), Extreme
    Kevin Figueiredo (Drummer), Extreme
    Mark Greenawalt © All Rights Reserved

    The four-part harmonies were spotlighted on the intro to the second song released from the new album, “Banshee,” when they covered Queen’s “Fat Bottomed Girls.” So cool. It’s clear that Queen had some influence on their individual musical journeys. They also included a bit of “We Will Rock You” during their performance of “Play With Me” that goes way back to their debut album. Check out their 20-minute Queen medley from the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert for AIDS Awareness on April 20, 1992.

    Gary Cherone (Vocalist) and Pat Badger (Bassist) of Extreme
    Gary Cherone (Vocalist) & Pat Badger (Bassist), Extreme
    Mark Greenawalt © All Rights Reserved

    Another musical reference that percolated throughout the evening was the mighty Van Halen. To some, Gary Cherone is just a footnote to the historic singers of Van Halen that comprised Diamond Dave and Red Rocker Sammy Hagar. However, his one ill-fated album with the band did go gold, and he had the opportunity to work with the incredible Edward Van Halen. Bettencourt paid homage to Van Halen with a rendition of “Eruption” before transitioning into “Am I Ever Gonna Change.” Later, during the encore, he played the intro to “Woman In Love” and reverently pointed to the heavens, put his fist to his heart, and said, “Happy Birthday, King Edward!

    Gary Cherone (Vocalist), Extreme performing at The Van Buren
    Gary Cherone (Vocalist), Extreme
    Mark Greenawalt © All Rights Reserved

    There were two acoustic moments during the performance. The first included the whole band doing renditions of the new “Other Side Of The Rainbow” and the classic “Hole Hearted.” Bettencourt put on his $7,000 cowboy hat and told the story about buying it in Nashville. Later in the evening, Bettencourt and Cherone did an even more stripped down acoustic montage that showcased their diverse songwriting skills.

    As he took a seat with his acoustic guitar, Bettencourt gave a heartfelt thank you to Living Colour and praised the musicianship of guitarist Vernon Reid. He joked that when he realized that Reid would be going on before Extreme, he called Reid before the tour and asked him to ‘pull it back a little bit.’ He also spoke to all of the aspiring guitarists in the room with this motivational speech:

    “Man, I just need to tell you one thing. Whether you’re doing this up here or in a fucking arena or a stadium or a club or whatever it is, that shit don’t mean anything. What matters is that you are playing this guitar. Whether it’s in your basement, whether it’s in a garage, whether it’s online, whether you’re a fucking great cover band… don’t worry about that shit if you’re doing it for the love of it. The success is playing this instrument right here! …This is like a super power, man. Nobody can fuck with you when you have this thing on, I’m telling you right now. And you can hit somebody hard with it if they do try to fuck with you. (smiles) Give it up for all the guitar players in the room keeping guitar alive, especially all you youngsters out there as well.” – Nuno Bettencourt

    Then, he proceeded to give a master class on acoustic guitar prowess by playing the acoustic solo, “Midnight Express” from the Waiting For The Punchline album. Bettencourt then introduced the next song from the new album, called “Hurricane.” He discussed the universal experience of losing someone near and dear to us and mentioned that someone in the audience had lost their mother earlier that day. He dedicated the song to that audience member and anyone else trying to heal up from loss in their lives. The emotional lyrics culminate in the chorus, “My heart is in a hurricane, an eye of emptiness and pain, is this the storm before the calm?” 

    Gary Cherone (Vocalist) & Nuno  Bettencourt (Guitarist) of Extreme
    Gary Cherone (Vocalist) & Nuno Bettencourt (Guitarist), Extreme
    Mark Greenawalt © All Rights Reserved

    The mood subtly switched from somber to celebration as the familiar chords of “More Than Words” filled the room. This is the number 1 song that everyone knows, and everyone is singing along with their cell phones raised. Through these two songs, Cherone and Bettencourt traded lead vocal segments, but the magic was in their signature harmonies. Definitely a highlight of the show.

    The high-velocity slingshot back into high gear with “Banshee” and the country-hoe-down-on-steroids, “Take Us Alive” that melted into yet another throwback to the Elvis hit “That’s Alright,” another song perfectly suited for Cherone’s persona. Guitar solos throughout the night satisfied the legions of Nuno followers, but the pinnacle show stopper was his blazing shredding on “Flight Of The Wounded Bumblebee” that seems like a million notes in just a minute and a half. This kid is ah-mazing!

    Nuno Bettencourt performing at The Van Buren
    Nuno Bettencourt (Guitarist), Extreme
    Mark Greenawalt © All Rights Reserved

    The night was seemingly coming to a close as they launched into their signature song from the 80s, “Get The Funk Out.” This was the one that first thrust them into the world stage and heavy rotation on MTV. It was fantastic and the harmonies were fun, with a few expletives added for good measure. The only thing missing was the horn section. As the song ended, the cheers went up and the lights went down as they left the stage. Many assumed that that was the end of the show since it was their obvious show closer… But the house lights did not come on. Some fans started to trickle out of the venue, but the die-hard fans just cheered louder till eventually the quartet returned to the stage.

    It is almost unheard of for a band to do new material during their encore. It’s a ballsy move, but boy did it ever pay off. The encore started with the Eddie Van Halen tribute mentioned above, and then continued with “Small Town Beautiful” infused at the outro chorus with the anthemic “Song For Love” from the Pornograffitti album. Had people still carried lighters, the room would have been aglow with their flickering flames. Ultimately, the show closed with rocker “Rise,” featuring the extraordinary guitar solo and the fist-pumping “EXTREME” groove that is absolutely infectious. No one would disagree that this was the perfect choice of an anthem to end the deluge of great music.

    Badger, Cherone, & Bettencourt of Extreme live at The Van Buren
    Pat Badger (Bassist), Gary Cherone (Vocalist) & Nuno Bettencourt (Guitarist), Extreme
    Mark Greenawalt © All Rights Reserved

    Witnessing bands genuinely expressing their gratitude towards their fans at the end of the night is always heartwarming. Extreme spent several minutes thanking the crowd and tossing out picks, sticks, and setlists, before finally lying down on the stage to take a selfie with all of us fans. Well played, Extreme, well played.

    EXTREME Setlist
    | LIVING COLOUR setlist

    Photo Gallery

    Photographer: Mark Greenawalt

    Extreme & Living Colour – The Van Buren 2-23-24

    Photography © Mark Greenawalt.
    All Rights Reserved

    Exploring Fire Sale: A Dive into Punk Rock’s Newest Supergroup and Their Evocative Singles

    Shockingly, punk rock as a genre has few supergroups – its own Traveling Wilburys or The Highwaymen (or The Highwomen, for that matter) – but it finds one in Fire Sale. The five-piece group consists of Pedro Aida from ShotClock and The Iron Roses on vocals, Chris Swinney from The Ataris on lead guitar, Matt Riddle from Face To Face and No Use For A Name on bass guitar, Brad Edwards from Weaver Street on rhythm guitar, and Matt Morris from 41 Gorgeous Blocks on drums. The band has three previous EPs: Fire Sale in March of ‘21, A Fool’s Errand in November of ‘22, and Long Overdue in July of ‘23. Now, they are back with a new single “The Albatross,” which was released by Negative Progression Records on February 9. 

    Stream “The Albatross” here

    Exploring “The Albatross”

    While so much of punk is about youth, “The Albatross” is about the things you have to deal with as you get older. In this case, the concern revolves around the safety of one’s children. The world is an increasingly cruel place. Far too many kids who already feel like outcasts go to school every day, and instead of being greeted by love and acceptance, they are subjected to bullying from the kind of kids whose parents were bullies. This mentality is perpetuated throughout the generations. Struggling with fear, they find it difficult to maintain good grades and often resort to substance abuse as a means to numb their pain. 

    As I listened to the song, I couldn’t help but think of Nex Benedict. They were the nonbinary Oklahoma teen who died on February 8 – the day before this single was released – after being assaulted and beaten in the bathroom of their high school. If an albatross is a continuing problem that makes it impossible to achieve something, then violence against children is the albatross that threatens to pull down the next generation. 

    The Albatross single artwork
    The Albatross single artwork (click to enlarge)

    About The B-side: “I Remember Damage”

    The B-side track is so good the single should be thought of as a double-A side single. “I Remember Damage” is no throw-away track. It begins not with a note but with a cracked voice of a woman saying “My memories are the same as yours…” The voice is haunting almost, like a faint radio transmission, pleading for someone, anyone, to listen. She fumbles through her message, struggling to articulate her thoughts while processing her emotions. It feels like a lonely plea for connection. The first notes of the song show the group members melodic-punk pedigree and has an early-80’s ska feel, like a recently unearthed outtake from the first Police album. 

    Within seconds, the song shifts into a high gear with driving power chords. “‘I come in peace,’ is what you said/we never seem to move on.” Was the woman’s voice the voice of the person Pedro Aida is referring to? Perhaps a relationship that should have never begun and yet persisted, dragging both people down with it, as if they were fated to destroy each other instead of moving on.  “What do you say? What do you say?” hints at a relationship where there’s plenty of talking but not much listening.

    Whether depicting a lingering, unhealthy relationship or the broader theme of feeling lost and damaged, the song resonates. The chorus of “We’re just damaged goods” could feel sad if it wasn’t sung with such a feeling of collectiveness: we are damaged, but we are not hopeless. Punk has always been about unity and that feeling of lost, wandering souls finding a place of acceptance, and that’s the heart of “I Remember Damage.” 

    Following the three EPs, and now the one-two punch of “The Albatross” and “I Remember Damage” single, I hope that Fire Sale has a full-length album in the works. For now, though, I’ll hit replay on “The Albatross” as soon as “I Remember Damage” fades out, and just enjoy the ride.

    Fire Sale online:

    News & Reviews from the Fiery Mosh Pits of Arizona