Karmin at UMASS Amherst, 9/8/12


Oh what a night! I love when shows are close to home. Last night’s show was at UMASS Amherst, which is only about 25 minutes from me. Good thing, because the weather was terrible. We were under a tornado watch!

I arrived at the college around 5:20. I made my way to the Fine Arts Center and attempted to get into the building. Not a happening thing, all of the doors were locked. If you know anything about UMASS, you know that their buildings are MASSIVE…and there are always a lot of doors. I met a student at the front door and he helped me find my way around the building, attempting to find an unlocked door. No such luck. He went back to wait (he was first in line!) and I continued to wander. Eventually, I found one of the sound guys and he brought me inside to meet up with Karmin’s tour manager. The venue is really cool….it was designed for classical music, and it’s a concrete giant. The seats are red velvet. Very dramatic!

I was informed that Amy and Nick would be there shortly, so I took a seat in the front row and waited. I didn’t have to wait long, Amy walked out onto the stage a few minutes later. She seemed glad to see me and we took a few minutes to chat. As always, she looked fantastic. She was rockin’ the suicide roll last night. She had on black shorts, black boots and a cool top with a lacey print on it and a sheer top. They started their sound check and ran through a few songs. There was a bit of an issue with Nick’s sound, I think it was partially the venue itself. They got it sorted out and went to eat supper.

Shortly thereafter, a group of guys came onto the stage and started setting up equipment. I learned that they’re a ska band called Uncle Joel’s Comb. I honestly wasn’t expecting much….I’m really not a ska fan at all, though I do love the addition of horns! As they started their sound check, I was intrigued. They had an interesting sound, really rich and full (ska usually sounds, I don’t know…tinny?). Perhaps this is because they’re a 6 piece band, there’s a lot going on.

Once they finished up, they also went to have dinner. At that point, I realized I hadn’t eaten, but I was SOL-there was no food to be found. Oops! Will I never learn? At this point there wasn’t much to occupy me and we were well over an hour from show time. I made my way out to the lobby to see if there was a line yet. There wasn’t, which was surprising since it was a GA show. I learned from an usher that they’d pre-sold 595 tickets, so I guess the rain was just keeping people from wanting to wait in line.

Shortly after 7, they started to let people in. Of course, the first several people tried to head right for the front row. Apparently, the first several rows were “VIP only”.  An usher checked to be sure I was on that list (I was). A group of 4 took up residence a couple of seats down from me, and in conversation revealed that one of them was Nick’s cousin. We chatted about how cool it is to have your cousin suddenly skyrocket to fame (I can’t imagine!).

Finally, 8pm…showtime! Uncle Joel’s Comb really rocked the house. They had everyone standing and dancing. They really surprised me! They put on a great show and had the confidence of seasoned performers. While you don’t hear too much in the mainstream about ska, they’ve got a pop/punk sound that could really propel them. They’re Battle of the Band winners and they’ve opened for Third Eye Blind and J. Cole. They finished a VERY energetic set, and then it was time for the main event

I’ve gotta give a quick shout to UPC. They organize all of these cool events for the students, and they’re students themselves. The put on movie nights, Club U and these concerts. They’re a cool bunch of kids (sorry, I’m old haha!) and I’m sure their fellow students appreciate what they’re doing. They were also emceeing last night. They came out and told the crowd about the Women Who Rock contest for the cover of Rolling Stone (Karmin is a finalist!) and then introduced them.

Amy looked as lovely as she had during sound check, but she’d made one addition worthy of her pin up status. Bright red lips. Totally cool contrast, I wish I could rock a red lip like that. They started their set with “Boom”. Nick took up his usual place at the keys while Amy dominated center stage. Quick note, the lighting was REALLY funky. Since I’m not a pro photographer, I did what I could. Some of the shots are dark, but really cool nonetheless.

Up next was “Hello”. I was excited to hear it, I LOVE that song! Amy’s rhymes are smooth. She raps effortlessly and has swag that I’ve never seen in a female performer. I want to be like her when I grow up (shh, we don’t have to talk about the fact that she’s younger than me). After asking if there were any  rappers in the house, they jumped right into “I Told You So”. When it came to the rap in the song, everyone cheered. Amy is an energetic performer, all over the stage. You can tell by watching them that they love what they do. Throughout the show, they told the crowd how much they appreciate everyone, though they jokingly blamed them for what a crazy year they’ve had.

After waxing inspirational and letting the audience know that if they really want something, they could make it happen, they started “I’m Just Sayin”. The song is about dreams coming true and going after what you want. It’s a great song, with a great message. Now, most people know Karmin from their “Look at Me Now” cover that was plastered on YouTube. As of this very second, it has an almost unbelievable 72,808,063 views!! Amy said that sometimes when they perform that song, they like to bring someone on stage to do Busta’s part. The audience  got really quiet, with the exception of one girl who raised her hand. She got up on stage with them and she smashed that part. Amy and Nick were really surprised, too. Here’s a pic of that action:

The slowed it down a bit after that excitement. There was talk about how hard it can be to be on the road with your significant other and how it can break the relationship if it’s not strong. Amy mentioned that your fights have to be short and you have to be strong coming out of them. Nick joked that being on the road with your SO isn’t great, which got a laugh. They told us that they met 7 years ago this weekend and that today, 9/9, is their 7 year anniversary. Keep on keepin’ on guys! I, for one, love you together. This was a segue into “Coming Up Strong”, which was written about relationships on the road. Really moving and a beautiful song, which showcases Nick. Amy is a fantastic  frontwoman, but Nick’s vocals are beautiful too. It was nice to see him out on the stage with Amy. PS check out his cool kicks!

After that touching few moments, it was back into kick butt mode. “Too Many Fish” is a song written for all of our exes, according to Amy. It’s a fun song, really catchy. I love the interaction that they have with the crowd. There is a story in each song and they take the time to explain it. It gives a feeling that you know them, like they’re letting their fans into their heads for a moment. It’s a nice touch. “Walking on the Moon” was next and Michael Jackson got a nod and a posthumous Happy Birthday before the song started. They segued immediately into “Crash Your Party”, which had the crowd dancing and singing along.

As the show was winding down, it was time for the hit that everyone was waiting for. “Brokenhearted” started and the crowd went wild. Everyone was dancing and singing along. They thanked the crowd and made their way off of the stage. I was sad that it was over, but with my vantage point I could see that there was one more song on the set list, so I knew they’d be back out. The crowd started chanting “Karmin, Karmin, Karmin” and the band walked back out. The crowd went bananas and then Nick strolled on the stage and took his place at the keys again. Amy came out and they started a cover of “Superbass”, which is definitely a song I love. I like their version the best, don’t tell Nicki!

Once the show was over, I used my credentials to get back stage. I waited while they relaxed and got their stuff together and then they came out to take their pictures with the UPC gang. They did a group shot, then individual pics, which was nice. I waited til the end and handed off my camera so I could jump into a photo (I love that part!):

All in all, a truly great evening, with great people.

You can check out Uncle Joel’s Comb on twitter @unclejoescomb. They’ve got a new EP in the works, so check it out!

Karmin has a few days off before a show in San Fran on 9/14. They head to Australia (!) for a few days and then come back to the US for a handful of shows, including one at Disneyland on 10/6.  I asked them about  upcoming shows in this area, and there are some holiday radio shows in the works, but nothing set in stone yet.

Follow Karmin on Twitter: @karminmusic, on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/karminbook?ref=ts  and get up to date info and tour dates on their website http://www.karminmusic.com/us/home
Also….this is a BIG DEAL. As I mentioned, Amy and Nick are finalists in Rolling Stones Women Who Rock cover contest. Let’s get them on the cover! Voting ends tomorrow, but you can make a huge difference. Vote, vote, vote! You can vote here: http://www.rollingstone.com/womenwhorock/artist/karmin. Tell your friends to vote…tell your mom, your dog, your imaginary friend. Just tell everyone to vote!




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