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You’ll Love Us The Duo No Matter Where You Are

You might have heard of them since their appearance on the hit television show, America’s Got Talent. You might know them from the video that went viral in which they sing one of their earliest hits, “No Matter Where You Are”, during their wedding. Either way, odds are whether you remember their name or not, you’ve heard of Us The Duo.

Soon to be a trio with the birth of their child in the near future, Michael and Carissa Alvarado have set off on tour across the United States ready to blow people’s minds with their artfully crafted lyrics and killer harmonies. As far as concerts go, this is one you won’t want to miss because their set is jam-packed with just about everything. From slow ballads to music fit for dancing, Us The Duo has made sure to provide a little bit of everything.

Thursday night, they took the stage at the Varsity Theater in Minneapolis. Walking into the venue forty minutes before the opener, Justin Nozuka, took the stage I could already tell this was a group with a dedicated fan base. A sizeable portion of the venue was filled with individuals vying for top spots at the front to watch the duo and their band.

As I walked around taking in the calming atmosphere of the venue equipped with everything from chandeliers to disco balls, I listened to excited fans rave about the group. “This is my third time seeing them in concert!” proclaimed one excited concert goer. She went on to explain that she’d gone as far as to see them in Rome as they toured with Pentatonix during her time studying abroad. I was tempted to ask her further questions. However, the lights were dimming, meaning it was time for me to photograph the show.

Unfortunately for me, I’d never heard of Justin Nozuka until the night of the show. This is a pity because had I known about his music he would have made an appearance on my Spotify playlists long before July 27th. His vocal range is astounding and his music makes for perfect relaxation or late night drive music. In fact, I was so impressed with Nozuka I found my way to the merch table after his set to purchase his latest record, Run To Waters.

The rest of the audience was equally as impressed with his vocal capabilities as I was. He had them clapping along by the end of his first song. One fan even went as far as to say, “Damn guy can sing! Can we pay him to stay on stage for a little longer?” By the end of his set, it became clear why Michael and Carissa had chosen Nozuka to open their show. He’d done an amazing job getting the crowd ready for the main act. Let’s just say I’ve very grateful I remembered the earplugs I wear when shooting photos for this concert.

Michael and Carissa didn’t help the noise situation either. They’re experts at getting the crowd to wait with anticipation. Their set opened with their backup band jamming quietly in the dark before Michael entered under blue lights. Finally, Carissa made her entrance as the lights exploded on the stage.

Their set was filled with numerous classics, covers, newer hits and a top-secret surprise well work the price of a ticket to the show. I watched in amazement as Carissa danced the night away as heavily pregnant as she was. She never missed a beat.

At one point the band and Michael went into a Mario jam, allowing both the bass player and drummer to showcase their talents. After the song was over Michael announced, “Yo I hit the keyboard so hard it broke a key!” It was a go hard or go home kind of night.

During their performance of “(Stop) Just Love” I watched a couple hold a poster that read, “Been together for six years because we just stopped”. This highlights the impact Us the Duo has had on the lives of their fans.

All in all, the duo’s performance at the Varsity Theater on July 27th stands as the best show I’ve had the chance to attend since the start of the summer season. I’d highly suggest grabbing tickets to anyone considering attending one of their performances during the rest of the tour. EchoMe is excited to follow Us The Duo’s journey as they proceed through their whirlwind adventure on America’s Got Talent. We wish them all the luck in the world when it comes to family and music.

Giiants: An Interview

“Mysterious” might be the best word to describe Giiants. The band, made up of Adam Bailey, Andrea Rullo, and Cameron Maxwell, is set to make it big. Their first single, “Small Talk,” has already blown up, with 1.5 million YouTube plays and 450,000 streams on Spotify. Their new song, “American Summer”, was released just in time for the 4th of July on June 29th. It’s upbeat, it’s got a catchy refrain, and it’s sure to end up on your summer playlist. Did I mention they’ve been picked up by Ultra, one of the top electronic music labels? Be on the lookout; Giiants is set to take the world by storm.

Typing the group’s name into a Google search won’t provide much information. In fact, the only result to be found pertaining to the band itself links directly to their Facebook page. When pressed for personal details about Giiants, Cameron responded with, “There’s not much out there, and it’s kind of on purpose.” If anything, this just adds to their mystique and makes the listening experience that much better, as the music remains the focus.

As enigmatic as they were during our interview, I was able to discern how passionate each member is about their craft. When asked, “What would you be doing if you couldn’t make music?” they responded simply, “We’d still be making it in secret.” I’ve asked this question countless times to artists across every genre. Giiants is the first group to firmly assert that music is all they could envision themselves doing.

Furthermore, the band is perhaps one of the most dedicated groups on the scene right now. They noted, “We spend quite a while in the studio. Collectively, we’re writing and producing every single day.” Each member has previous experience in the industry, be it through writing for other artists or working on other projects. This balance of passion, commitment, and experience makes Giiants a force to be reckoned with. Clearly, the music industry agrees, as the band explained:

It started with an email. We finished the song and our manager loved it, so we said ‘Okay let’s send it to our top pick labels’. We wanted to shoot really high and aim for our dream labels to start. We sent it to Patrick Moxey, the head of Ultra and Sony worldwide for EDM, and David Waxman. They got back to us quickly and were in.

This desire to make it big is partially what inspired the name Giiants in the first place, according to the band. “That’s kind of where the Giiants name came in,” they noted. “We just wanted to be huge. And we wanted something that didn’t really have any backstory. We wanted to build from the ground up.” The trio believes that their “I’ve made it moment” will be the first time they see just Giiants as the artist name when one of their songs plays on the radio and not just as the last name in a set of remixes. With their current sound, influenced by the likes of Avicii and Empire of the Sun, it’s only a matter of time until this is a reality.

Adam, Andrea, and Cameron have combined forces to become a powerhouse trio set to take over the world, or at least your summer, with their latest hit, “American Summer.” With music festivals and concerts on the horizon, it will be interesting to see how the passion and dedication they feel for their craft will translate onstage. EchoMe is excited to follow all they accomplish as they release more music and their sound develops.

Kate Nash Teaches Us That Yesterday Was Forever

“And in case you have any rage inside because I do, let’s face it head-on. It’ll be like group therapy!” belted Kate Nash during her show last night at the Royale in Boston. Nash is currently on her North American, Yesterday Was Forever tour. The album that the tour is named after was released on March 30th and if you have yet to listen to it, you’re missing out.

Walking into the venue, it was clear fans were ready for Nash. As I was prepping my equipment I heard one young concert-goer share, “This is the best day of my life. I can’t believe I’m here, I can’t believe she’s going on soon, I can’t believe this entire night is happening!”

It’s no surprise her music has had such an impact on so many lives. She’s got songs discussing mental health, songs talking about feminism, and songs about being yourself. Whether you’re old and grey or young and naïve, one of her songs will have a message you can personally relate to. Don’t believe me? The audience distribution last night was filled with people of all ages. I watched a married couple dance together in the back and some twenty-something girls belt the lyrics to “Merry Happy”. Regardless of the large spread in ages, everyone was having a wild time.

The opener, Miya Folick, started things off with a bang. Her vocals were a nice mix of smooth/jazzy and gritty hard rock. She commanded with some killer moves and guitar playing. Her band was equally amped up and left the audience buzzing after their set. As I sat talking with one girl after the set she mentioned, “Miya totally gave me that vibe of the character Julia Stiles plays in 10 Things I Hate About You. You know? With the whole feminist rocker vibe.”

Her song “Dead Body” discusses someone’s refusal to be silent after experiencing sexual assault. It’s a song with a powerful message and skillfully crafted lyrics like, “It’s my sunny disposition that you liked / You poured me coke and vodka / Drink it baby, be nice / And you knew you would get away / So you didn’t try to hide.” Although a dark song, Miya deserves massive applause for using her platform to discuss issues that plague many people.

After leaving the stage it was Nash’s turn to engage the audience. She bounced on full of energy in sparkly fishnet stockings and an oversized green Bruins jersey. Nash spent the entire concert jumping from each side of the stage, making sure to interact with everyone. Her band was vibing, there were smiles all around. Much like Miya, Nash also uses her platform to discuss important issues. Before her performance of Musical Theatre, a song about mental health, she took the time to share “there’s no shame when you put a sling on a broken arm, so why is there shame when there’s a broken mind?” It provided deep insight into society’s mental health misconceptions and left the audience cheering.

As far as repertoire goes, Nash made sure to include classics like “Agenda” but also put emphasis on her newer content. Her energy persisted throughout the entire show and I left amped up with less of a voice than I had at the beginning of the night. All in all, it was a fantastic show and I would highly suggest purchasing tickets if given the chance.

 

For the entire photo gallery click here

Why Don’t We: The New Teen Heart Throbs

First off, it needs to be acknowledged that Why Don’t We managed to sell out a show on the same night as a Red Sox game against the New York Yankees. This is a massive feat as the House of Blues in Boston is right across from Fenway Park, Boston is first and foremost a sporting city, and the Yankees are a major Red Sox rival. Nevertheless, they did it!

 

Entering the House of Blues, I was shocked to see that the audience was made up of strictly teenage girls. When I say strictly teenage girls, I mean that throughout the entire venue at a sold-out show I saw maybe thirty individuals above the age of twenty. Furthermore, all the individuals of adult age were parents of the teenagers. They spent the night on the side near the bar or in the back, sitting on the floor. They were there because their daughters had dragged them to see Zach Herron, Jonah Marais, Jack Avery, Daniel Seavey, and Corbyn Besson. This just goes to show you that not all heroes wear capes. I and the other photographers present in the pit could not stop discussing how we wished our parents had loved us enough to take us to a concert they themselves has little interest in seeing. This was also a bittersweet moment because at twenty years old, I realized as I looked out at the crowd that I was no longer a child.

In short, Why Don’t We has mastered the two most crucial things that allow musicians to make it big. They’ve developed a strong following and an incredibly specific target audience. This became evident before the opener, EBEN, walked on stage. Although no music was playing, the entire audience began singing the entirety of Why Don’t We’s single, “Trust Fund Baby”.

On the topic of the opener, man was he good. Most artists try to develop complex lighting patterns for their shows. EBEN kept it simple with plain white lights and strobes. This meant it was easy to capture amazing shots of him as he commanded the stage. It also meant the crowd was easily able to focus on him as an artist and his performance. He kept the crowd entertained, with killer dance moves and solid vocals. His song, “LAMBO”, was comical as it discussed not having money and wanting it. It was something pretty much any college kid could relate to. Additionally, after listening to the released version, I have to say his version performed live was much better than the recorded track. To sum up EBEN, he’s an electric performer who’s sure to improve his trade as he gains experience and practice.

After twenty minutes of waiting, Why Don’t We took the stage. I was incredibly glad to have brought my earplugs because the cheers from the crowd were deafening. I’ve been to countless concerts and never have I been so nervous about the preservation of my eardrums. Their entrance was very well planned with the lights flashing the outline of each member’s profile. However, once the show really started I felt as though the occasional strobe lights that flashed went overboard as they were at eye level with anyone in the front, aka the photographers and first few rows of fans. It was slightly distracting. However, their vocals and flow of their set were spectacular. There was a nice mixture of upbeat songs and ballads. From what I could tell, no one missed a note. Additionally, the costume changes were well planned. The audience of ladies couldn’t contain themselves when the five members walked on stage in suits. The only other criticism I had for Why Don’t We’s performance was the choreography.

It seemed over choreographed. Every second of every song seemed to have a beat. Don’t get me wrong! This isn’t necessarily bad, it’s far better than artists who stand and sing without doing much of anything. My only wish was that there had been more opportunities for organic movement. I took time to research the group before attending their concert to ensure that I understood their vibe. These guys are hilarious and full of energy. I felt as though the choreography caused things to fall a little flat during a few moments in songs. Choreography makes things tricky (especially when it’s group choreography) because it requires a lot of thought in order to complete the movements in sync. The excessive choreography resulted in moments where the boys appeared to be too focused on remembering the moves rather than feeling the music. Again, don’t take this to mean that they were insincere. From the songs where the movements were less complicated you could tell that they resonated with their music and the messages it was sending. It was witnessing those moments that made me wish that the choreography played a less important role in their set.

To conclude, Why Don’t We and EBEN provided fans with a lovely night of music. From the special night they created, it’s clear that they value their fans and care about giving them a night they’ll never forget. As far as artists go, I’m incredibly interested to watch Why Don’t We grow as a group and can’t wait to see what they accomplish in the future.

For the full gallery of photos click here

G-Eazy Has No Limit

The first time I came to Boston I played the Middle East Upstairs. There was like 80 people. I’m so grateful to come to Boston and stand on this stage and perform this sold-out show” yelled Gerald—better known as G-Eazy—during his show at the Agganis Arena. This venue contains 7,200 seats, a far cry from the first time he played Beantown. It’s a true testament to Gerald’s accomplishments during the past few years. He’s a real hustler.

The show itself was a hit. However, there were a number of difficulties upon arriving at the venue. The first issue was finding press passes to actually enter the event. The tickets’ location seemed to change with each staff member we talked to. This problem was exacerbated by the fact that the schedule sent out to press covering the show was an hour late. In fact, most of the press missed the first opener, Anthony Russo. Despite the frenetic start, everything was smooth sailing once we got inside.

Marco Anthony Archer, better known as Phora was the first to meet the criticism of the photographers and writers. A rapper from California, he started out as a tattoo artist before turning to music. While his stage presence was subpar, his lyrics were thoughtful and well put together. His song “Fake Smiles” was especially impressive with lyrics such as, “But, we hate ourselves because we run from the people we love / And we all hold on to the past ‘cause we miss what it was.” It was incredibly relatable. The impact of his verses left the audience in silent thought. His style of music is defined by producers Eskupe and Anthro Beats and rappers J. Cole, Hopsin and Logic. Leaving the stage, he belted one last message into the microphone, “I’m just a human being. I come on this stage and don’t know how y’all gonna react to me. Thank you!” In short, Phora is a relatable artist whose only need for improvement lies in his stage presence.

Trippie Redd was the next to take the stage. Dressed in a downright absurd number of chains, one questioned how he was able to bounce around with such ease. He swagged his way up to the stage followed by a large hype crew of at least six people. Many were stuck wondering what their purpose was as they seemed to be bodies stuck in the background. Originally born Michael White IV, he’s relatively new to the scene with his first EP released in 2016. Redd’s entrance consisted of him walking out and amping up the audience with a recording yelling, “Fuck Donald Trump! Fuck Donald Trump!” His set was explosive and he definitely took control of the stage. However, he spent a large portion of the first three songs dousing the front row of general admission and the photographers in the pit with water. Additionally, his security was less than pleasant when Redd attempted to break the barrier and interact with the crowd. Many photographers were pushed rather harshly and a few even caught a stray elbow or two. Nevertheless, this was a small bump in the road. Redd’s set consisted of high energy songs and a psychedelic projection on the screen behind him, constantly lit up with images of burning skulls and crosses

Finally, it was time for G-Eazy to take command of the stage. Initially, audience members were less than pleased with the somewhat long set strike and setup that needed to take place before Gerald could hit the stage. This was largely due to audience anticipation. Gerald’s music has gained immense popularity over the past few years, and diehard fans can rap just about every song. The moment the lights dimmed the displeasure in the audience completely disappeared. G-Eazy bounced on stage, and before the first song was even finished an eager audience member threw her bra onstage. Gerald was nice enough to hang it on the mic stand.  For the most part, the show was made up of tracks from his new album The Beautiful & Damned. It was divided into three sections with the following apt names; Act I: The Beautiful, Act II: The Damned and Act III: The Encore. The stage setup was very much worth the wait. It allowed for projections to be played across white scrim. The scrim could be left either opaque or allow for the audience members to see Gerald’s band in the back.

There was also a costume change. G-Eazy entered in an all-black ensemble finished off with a black leather jacket with an embroidered white skull on the back. Before beginning his song “Leviathan” he did a 180, changing everything from his pants to his jacket to all white. The color choices were interesting considering black was used for the beautiful portion of the concert and white was used for the damned section of the show. Perhaps this was G-Eazy poking fun at the traditional association between white and images of angels and purity. Regarding the music, the show was nothing short of spectacular. Gerald’s fans are so dedicated the show could have almost gone on without him. They know every word. At one point, the audience erupted into loud cheers after his song “Buddha”. Instead of quieting down after the initial cheer, volume level only increased. It seemed that Gerald was at a loss for words, flashing the audience a heart with his hands and bowing down to them. He also threw out, “Is it okay if I call Boston my second home? If I was able to speak to past-me and if I told him we sold out an entire arena or that we sold out a fucking tour or that Donald Trump was president he’d say ‘Fuck that’”.

Nothing seemed to die down during the encore. Gerald decided to crowd surf. How he managed to return to the stage so swiftly remains a mystery as the entirety of general admission surged forward, reaching out to touch this rap legend. Additionally, he played two of his biggest hits, “Him & I” and “Me, Myself & I”, during this encore. This forced his fans to wait until the bitter end to hear some of their favorites. He made up for it by chucking one of his black vans into the audience for one lucky spectator to take home. At the end of the day, G-Eazy is a mastermind with his tour setup and a genius when it comes to crafting meaningful music. Although his US tour is almost over, there are still opportunities to witness him is his element in Europe. If given the chance to watch one of his live performances, take it. You certainly won’t regret it.

For the full photo album of the concert visit this website

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Lovelusting over Nate Chung Project

Nate Chung might be one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet. An acquaintance from work, I knew about his passion for music and that he’s the frontman of his band, Nate Chung Project, but I was completely unaware of how talented he and the rest of the group truly are.

A college band from Holy Cross, Nate Chung Project is made up of Nate Chung (vocals/guitar), Casey Dawson (guitar/vocals), Sean Horan (bass), Zach Sowerby (banjo), and Frank Dwyer (drummer). Sure, their covers are great, but it’s their original music you’ll want to take the time to listen to. Their repertoire is extensive. Although a young group still in school, they’ve already got an album and EP under their belt. The EP was just released today, February 23rd.

Talking to Nate, it’s clear this group is approaching the music industry from a different angle. “We know that our acoustic pop/rock music isn’t necessarily for everyone, but if we can find the people that appreciate it or connect with it in some way we absolutely want to. We don’t need to be famous to realize our vision for this project. Organically finding our audience and growing together is our focus now,” he shares. This is what makes them so special. Many artists get wrapped up in what feels like a race for fame because with fame comes money and money is what pays the bills. But Nate Chung Project seems completely comfortable staying true to their current vision and sound. “If in time I can build a career around my music and working with EchoMe that would be amazing. But for now, I’m pumped that my job with PwC just got moved from New York to Boston, where both EchoMe and my band are based.” 

The band is dedicated to making music: “As soon as Casey returned from being abroad in Sri Lanka I knew we should begin recording music together. I approached him after Chinese class one day suggesting that we should meet up in the studio to work through some originals. We began recording that week.” Recording originals within the first couple days of playing together? I think anyone can agree that’s impressive.

Their startup story is equally interesting as they’re supported by Holy Cross, a college in Worcester, Massachusetts.When Nate wasn’t able to enroll in a class he planned to, he began looking around and found something under the Interdisciplinary Department. “I came across this offering CISS496 Special Project and I just clicked on it and the description was exactly what I wanted it to be. It read, ‘For third and fourth-year students that have a passion or project outside of their regular academic curriculum,” he explains. In addition, Holy Cross supports them with the Ignite Fund, an endowment at the school dedicated to supporting student projects.

At the end of the day, Nate Chung Project in an incredible music group well worth checking out. Nothing they perform is subpar. Their original content is made up of well-crafted lyrics and their unique sound makes listening to them engaging, while their covers are incredibly well done as they change it up just enough to make it their own while keeping the integrity of the original songs.

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ULTRA South Africa: The Up And Coming Festival You’ll Want To Visit Next Year

ULTRA South Africa celebrated its fifth anniversary in style this past weekend, with electrifying shows in Cape Town and Johannesburg. As the first event of the 2018 Ultra calendar, and with a line-up that appealed to a wide range of electronic music fans, the event proved a remarkable success.

On Friday, February 9, the Cape Town Stadium saw 15,000 fans stream through the gates to enjoy the sounds of Afrojack, Armin van Buuren, Axwell /\ Ingrosso, Carnage, Hardwell and Malaa. Black Coffee, Dubfire and Eats Everything commandeered the RESISTANCE stage in the stadium basement, which was heaving with house and techno fans throughout.

The atmosphere at the show was exhilarating, with fans further rejoicing when the drought-stricken Mother City was gifted rainfall during Armin van Buuren’s set, which also featured a surprise appearance by Mr Probz who delivered two breath-taking live vocal performances of the global smash hit ‘Waves’ and his collaboration with Armin, ‘Another You’.

The Johannesburg show at the Expo Centre at Nasrec welcomed a record-breaking 32,000 Ultranauts through the gates on Saturday, February 10, for what was the biggest and most successful ULTRA South Africa in Joburg to date.

The RESISTANCE dance floor was moved into a new warehouse space at Nasrec, which catered specifically to the house and techno community. Local RESISTANCE artists including Da Capo, DogStarr, Ryan Murgatroyd, TranceMicSoul, and many more got the dance floor heated up before Black Coffee, Dubfire and Eats Everything blew fans away with their hypnotic performances.

The Until Until Stage with MTV hosted the best of the local hip-hop talent, and was bursting with flavour and soul at every moment. The Samsung Galaxy Experience Stage was packed from start to finish, topping off the host of successful brand activations over the weekend.

The Main Stage production and performances stunned crowds at the Nasrec, with a display that was a fitting end to a phenomenal 48 hours of ULTRA South Africa.

“ULTRA SA brings new surprises each year and this year was no exception.  It also brings new magic each time we produce the show, and 2018 was the most magical yet,” says Shaun Duvet, partner in ULTRA South Africa. “Speaking on behalf of the full ULTRA SA team and sponsors, we are blown away by the support of the fans and industry and cannot wait to see what 2019 brings.”

Follow ULTRA SA on Facebook and Twitter for real-time updates on forthcoming events.

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(Article and Photography Courtesy of Get In PR)