Music Monday! Album & Concert Review – The Rocket Summer “Zoetic”

Hello again!
For today’s Music Monday I’m going to be talking about my favorite band, The Rocket Summer. I previously discussed TRS in November when I went to the “Returning West” Tour at Bottom of the Hill in San Francisco, click here to read that blog post. On April 12th, I went to the “Zoetic” Tour at The Troubadour in Los Angeles – the following post will partially be a Concert Review of that experience with some video footage.

I’m also going to review “Zoetic”, the new Album. As I’ve never done an Album Review before, I’m not exactly sure how to format it. For my first attempt I’m going to write a basic summary of my thoughts because I don’t want this post to be TOO long with the Concert Review attached as well. Writing could get too lengthy, in the future I may do this all via video, but we’ll see. Let me know what you would prefer in the comments below!!

After reading the reviews, if you’re interested in purchasing any of the songs/albums, they’re all available for free on Spotify or of course, you can buy the album on Itunes or through The Rocket Summer website. I highly recommend buying through the website because they have a bunch of really unique deals, for example, I got an actual CD – autographed! – & a digital download for about $15/$20.

UPDATE 5/2/16: After many more listens & getting these lyrics stuck in my head, I’m updating my Album Review to 4 stars. Bryce’s passion for music & the subjects he sings about are hard to deny & infectious. Perhaps there’s something to be said rating-wise about an album that takes a few listens to connect to, but I’m sticking with 4 stars. I’m still saying I don’t necessarily connect with ALL of these songs lyrically, but the music is just SO good. Give “Emergency Landings”, “Sharks”, & “White Fireworks” a listen or two or five or 50 RIGHT NOW!

Album Review – 11 songs, overall – 3 out of 5 stars
I think I’m too biased. I fell in love with The Rocket Summer as an alternative pop semi-Jesus loving kind of sound & lyrics. “Zoetic” is DIFFERENT. I’m happy for Bryce, that he’s getting the chance to expand his horizons & follow his heart – as happy as you can be for someone you don’t know, haha!
I enjoyed the album from a musical perspective. Bryce tapped into ALL his talents in terms of the music arrangement, vocal range, & style. “Zoetic” definitely has an edge to it, a harsher, angrier style that fans haven’t seen before, & I appreciate it. It’s always nice to see your favorite artist grow & show different sides of themselves. I’ll be adding most of these songs to my Gym Playlist, a place TRS songs don’t usually go.
Unfortunately I feel like so much work into the music that the lyrics were an after thought. Some of the songs are super repetitive which I’m used to hearing with pop songs on the radio, but is not usually Bryce’s style.
Overall I enjoyed this album because as always you can tell Bryce is super passionate & he puts so much effort into his work. I have to give him props for that even if I wasn’t able to connect with the lyrics this time around. In my perfect world, a future album will include lyrics in the style of previous album “Do You Feel” with music in the style of “Zoetic”.
Favorite Tracks: “Cold War”, “Same Air”, “Get Over It”, “FL, CA”


Concert Review
The Venue – I’d never been to The Troubadour in Los Angeles before, but was pleased with the venue. Parking was convenient, $12-$15 for Valet, & the area seemed safe. There’s two rooms, the first is super small off the left & has the bathrooms, a bar, & the merch table. That area was super squishy crowded, but the main room was pretty spacious – or maybe there just weren’t that many people there. There were seats available on an upper level & another bar in the main room. The drinks were fairly expensive though, $9 for a Jack & Coke. It might look like a dive, but don’t forget you’re in LA. One cool new (to me) thing about this show was that they were selling Giving Keys that said Zoetic on them. Giving Keys is a charity that employs those transitioning out of homelessness to stamp empowering words on keys. The idea is that you’re supposed to buy a key with a word that means something to you, wear it until you feel like you’ve accomplished a related goal, then pass the key on to someone who needs the empowerment from that word. I’ve wanted a Giving Key ever since I first heard about the company, actually I talk about them in Vlog #2!, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity to buy one.

The People – As I said in my previous TRS Concert Review, the crowd at these shows are pretty respectful, mostly women or couples. There was an overly enthusiastic guy standing right next to me that was kind of weirding me out, but he wasn’t being aggressive so eh, to each their own! One thing that surprised me was the amount of children! I’ve seen teenagers before, I’ve been a teenager at a TRS show (!!), but these were kids younger than 10. It seemed like a weird parenting decision to allow kids out late at night in such a loud setting, but what do I know about raising kids!?

The Performance – The music was harsher than I’ve ever heard, but that’s the nature of “Zoetic”. It seemed like there were a few technical issues, a couple times the music sounded off & Bryce looked off stage at the tech & looked sort of irritated/frustrated. There was definitely one problem where his guitar wasn’t sounding right or something & he looked for the tech – & nobody came. He kept looking around & was holding out the guitar while trying to continue singing, but no one came. Bryce did his best to stay professional & ultimately it was kind of funny, a moment that showed a real human side to the show, but was probably stressful for him. As you’ll see in the video, Bryce brought a Fan on stage to play Cello during “Never Knew” – a VIP experience he’s offering on his website. I couldn’t hear one note of the Cello, I felt bad. My mom was sitting in the upstairs seating & said she heard it & it was great, so I’m not sure if there was a sound issue, or maybe that just wasn’t the best venue to use a Cello..?

Final Verdict: Obviously amazing, awesome, magical! I didn’t wait for Bryce to come out after the show because I’d been at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (!!!!) all day + had to drive back to Orange County, so I was ready to get going. I have plans to see him THREE more times, PHX Rebel Lounge, SNA Constellation Room/Observatory, & SF Bottom of the Hill. I will probably wait for him in SF because that’s the first place I met him & that’s the last stop on the “Zoetic” Tour, so it’ll be a nice bookend. Of course, if you like TRS I definitely recommend seeing him live. There’s not a lot of time left, but click here to see if he’s playing near you!

What do you think? For those of you that hadn’t heard of TRS before, did I make you a fan!? If you’re going to any of the shows I’ll be at, let me know in the comments below – I’d love to meet up! Please remember to SUBSCRIBE/LIKE/COMMENT/SHARE to my YouTube & this blog, thanks for reading 🙂

Music Monday! Concert Review – The Rocket Summer “Returning West” Tour at Bottom of the Hill

Hello everyone!
This week’s Music Monday is kind of a mouthful! Click on the video below to watch a few clips from The Rocket Summer “Returning West” Tour at Bottom of the Hill in San Francisco! Then continue reading to see the full review of the Concert. Please remember to Subscribe/Follow, Share, Comment, & Like both the YouTube channel & this blog! Thanks!

The Rocket Summer has been my favorite band for about 10 years now. Although, calling it a “band”, might not be the right word. While the name sounds like a group of musicians, The Rocket Summer is the solo project of musician Bryce Avary. He’ll occasionally feature musician friends, or his wife Tara, but for the most part Avary does everything from writing the music/lyrics, to singing all the parts, & playing ALL the instruments. He’s extremely talented & it’s really fun & interesting to watch him perform live. I try to make it to every show in my area & I think in the 10 years I’ve been a fan, I’ve only missed one tour because I was super sick. I almost missed his SF appearance due to work, but luckily I made it…keep reading to see what happened!

The Venue – I’d never been to Bottom of the Hill before, but I’d heard really good things. I was working nearby at the W Hotel at the time & wasn’t going to get off work until 2 AM. I was super upset I was going to miss the show but luckily, fate stepped in & I got off work early. I jumped in an Uber & raced over to try to catch at least some of the show. As I was so late, the guy at the door was nice enough to not charge me entry. Sometimes concert staff can be hit or miss in terms of “Hospitality”. One time a stranger passed out next to me at a show & I couldn’t get any of the staff or security to help us for a few solid minutes! I was grateful people were awesome right off the bat. BOTH is a smaller venue, a typical dive/hole in the wall. There were maybe 50 to 100 people there & it was squishy. However, this is the kind of show where you want to be right up front, so squishy-ness is expected. A random, but important note, I appreciated that there were several well placed wall outlets. It’s always nice to know you have a way to charge your phone where you won’t be creating a hazard for others/yourself.

The People – I have a love/hate relationship with TRS fans. The crowd is mostly young females often times in packs, sometimes with their parents or reluctant boyfriends. Their attitude can range from teeny bopper excitement with shrill cries of “I LOVE YOU BRYCE!!!!” ringing through the air (uhm he’s married, his wife works the merch table, calm down) to disgruntled punk/scene girls with wild colored hair, many facial piercings/tattoos to some genuinely cool people. I, of course, fall into that last category, haha! This crowd was pretty neutral, but I’ve been in crowds where girls were pushing each other to the point that it was distracting me from the show & I’ve also met people I really bonded with & am friends with on Social Media to this day, years later. I think it depends on your attitude as well. If you’re there looking to push people & be disrespectful to other concertgoers, you might run into some backlash. If you’re there to just chill & enjoy the music, you’ll have a good time.

The Performance – While his music style might not be for everyone, Bryce is super talented! As I mentioned before, he plays all the instruments on his albums. For a concert however, he’ll usually enlist the help of a “touring band”. One of my favorite parts of a TRS show is the “Solo Jam”. Bryce plays one instrument, records/loops the playback, plays another instrument, records/loops the playback, etc showing the process of how he usually plays everything & creates the songs on his own. I’ve always found this really fascinating & I enjoy that he chooses to share the process with the fans so we have a better understanding of how he does what he does. As the new album “Zoetic” had/has not been released, the “Returning West Tour” was like a warm up tour. Bryce played his greatest hits, and of course, “Same Air”, his newest single. I love TRS shows because I get so inspired seeing someone with passion for their craft & how they have used that craft to bring together people from all walks of life. Another really awesome aspect of TRS shows is that Bryce usually comes out after the show to meet the fans. In all the years I’ve been going to his concerts I’ve never met him! I was determined to make it happen this time, especially because I knew I’d be writing this post. I ended up waiting just about an hour after the show & it was well worth the wait. I completely embarrassed myself & acted like a total fangirl quoting his own song lyrics to him, haha, I’m a little bit ashamed. It’s all good though, he was super nice & I felt totally appreciated & welcome. I never felt at all rushed even though there were other fans waiting to talk to him. We took SEVERAL selfies trying to find the right lighting & he autographed a napkin – even making sure to spell my name correctly! All in all, it was a concert I’ll always remember.

The Final Verdict – Obviously, I had an amazing time. I’m sorry the video isn’t longer so you can get a better idea of what the show was like, but I was grateful to see as much as I did. I already have plans to see Bryce perform again in April for the “Zoetic” Tour & you can bet I will be doing a recap of that as well 🙂 If you’re interested in attending a TRS show click here to see if he’s playing near you!

I hope you enjoyed this Review & video. I wanted to leave you with an “official” piece of TRS music so please check out the video below, “200,000” – one of my favorite songs! This video gives you a good idea of how Bryce puts the songs together himself, plus his wife Tara is in it!
Please leave me a note in the Comment section & let me know…have you ever heard of The Rocket Summer? What kind of music do you like – what should I check out next? Thanks for reading!