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Ellen Chapman

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Ellen Chapman (EllenChapman)

  • Email: ellen.chapman97@gmail.com
  • Nice Name: ellenchapman
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  • Registered On :2018-06-09 17:30:40
  • Logged in at: EllenChapman
  • Author ID: 299

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“It’s been a great night you fucking freaks” Toby Cregan shouted into the crowd; words which encapsulated exactly what the evening had been. The Australian surf and garage rock band played their second-to-last sold-out show on their U.S tour at the Constellation room at the Observatory in Santa Ana on May 29th and the small venue space barely contained the chaos within. 

Photo Credit: Elle Chapman

I first discovered Skegss when I was living in Australia for 8 months this past year. I began skateboarding in Australia and Skegss is extremely popular among the Australian skateboarding and surfing scene. I loved their music immediately, and found that listening to it empowered me, and gave me a sense of invincibility. 

Distractor, a local orange county synth/punk/rock band opened for Skegss and had a packed room for their 9pm start. The bands devout following stems not only from their lo-fi camp to post-punk cool music but could also be linked to their history. The band was formed in Costa Mesa, Orange County in 2015 by Glen Christensen and vocalist Will Sipos. Together, they formed their self-released debut, Devotion. Yet after only a summer of playing shows in Orange County, Glen Christensen was diagnosed with brain cancer and passed away the following October in 2015 at the age of 25. The band took a break but after a couple years and some persuasion, reformed in 2017 signing with Burger Records. 

As a tribute to the late Christensen, his mother, Kim, was on stage at the Observatory with the band, playing the trumpet (his signature instrument). The entire crowd were moshing and many were singing along to the locally loved musicians. 

Simultaneously, Toby Cregan of Skegss, was crying. Speaking with him after the show, all he wanted to talk about was Distractor. Cregan is absolutely moved by the band and when asked about how he thought Skegss did, he said, “I don’t want to talk about what we are doing— I don’t care about it. Listen to Distractor and see what they are about”. Cregan continued, “For us to play these shows in this little room and to see the crowd go wild for them means so much. I was crying in the crowd.” 

Cregan’s passion for Distractor is matched by the fan base Skegss has gathered over the years. It seemed that every member of the crowd knew each song and shouted the lyrics so loud it was difficult to hear the band itself. Skegss opened with “Smogged Out” off their most recent album, “My Own Mess”. It’s a song about getting out of the city life, and back under the stars. Many of Skegss’s music follows this theme of freedom under the sun with friends as the members themselves surf and skate and live a laid-back and happy lifestyle. 

Skegss played most songs off their most recent album, My Own Mess but also played songs “Got on my Skateboard” and “Spring has Spring” off their 2017 album, Holiday Food. Crowd members were moshing but also jumping up on stage and crowd surfing. Everyone was supported and smiling. 

Photo Credit: Elle Chapman

The most surprising moment of the night was when Cregan asked the crowd if anyone played guitar. I timidly raised my hand and all of a sudden, was pulled on stage. The drum and guitar intro for the song “New York/California” began—one of my favorite songs. Cregan asked me my name and after I timidly replied, he said I was going to be playing guitar for the song. He started it off, and during the first two verses he had me crowd surf. The entire crowd went wild and was singing along like it was the national anthem. Once I was handed the guitar, my hands were so shaky that I messed up both cords. He turned to the crowd then, and said “Alright, everyone, get to your knees, let’s give Elle some support, she’s the best guitarist in the fucking world!” I felt more confident and began playing with a little more conviction. Singing the song on stage with the band felt so personal and I’d never felt such an extreme adrenaline rush. It was a moment I’ll never forget and always cherish. 

Skegss played four more songs, ending with “Spring Has Sprung”. Beer was being sprayed in every direction and I lost my mini reporter notebook in the mosh pit. To everyone’s disappointment, there was no encore as it seemed the lead vocalists, Toby Cregan and Benny Reed, had pretty much lost their voices by the end of the show. 

Yet after the show they came to the merch table and greeted fans enthusiastically. When asked how he felt post-show, Benny Reed responded: “It’s a good surprise to be back here after four years and there’s a lot of people coming to the show. They’re singing the songs and it makes you feel like you could come back here again. Cause it’s kinda hard to come to America”. 

Skegss finished their U.S tour last night, May 30th at a sold out show at the Roxy Theatre in Los Angeles. They are headed back to Australia and are continuing their tour in New Zealand and the U.K. They also revealed they are staying in Los Angeles for a couple days to record a new song. We can’t wait to hear it. 

“Wait. Hold on. Before we start again, I just want to say thank you. I can’t tell you how much I needed this,” said Charity Rose Thielen, (vocals/guitar/percussion/keys) for indie-folk band, The Head and The Heart, behind locks of faded pink hair. 

Blinking back tears, she gratefully looked into the audience staring back up at her, a deep connection felt both ways. “I don’t know if it’s the venue or what, but I feel so close to all of you, and it just feels like we are all together in this,”said Thielen. 

And she was right. But it wasn’t just the The Observatory’s 500 capacity that made the night feel so intimate and special: it was the music. 

I lost my dad to brain cancer in middle school. To help me cope, my mom sent me to a month long sleep-away camp in Florissant, Colorado. There, during that difficult time, I found The Head and The Heart. Long summer days were completed with nights by campfires singing songs by The Head and The Heart, especially “Rivers and Roads” off their self-titled debut, The Head and The Heart. The album which turned out to be the top-selling album of the year for the independent label. All the while, I continued listening to them, and over time they became my favorite band. I turned to their music in times of struggle, or when I just needed some magic. 

So, after being a fan for seven years, the chance to see them live in downtown Santa Ana left me more than excited. I arrived at the venue right as doors opened. The crowd all pulsed with delight as we waited in anticipation for beautiful piano, drums, guitar and violin. After what felt like hours, the jittery conversations finally ceased as the fluorescents of the room faded, the darkness only bursting into light when the soaring piano intro of “City of Angels” began, a smile-inducing song which pays homage to Los Angeles. Lead vocalist and guitarist, Jonathan Russel wore a red ascot and as he sang and danced on stage alongside Matt Gervais, Theilen’s husband currently standing in for co-frontman, Josiah Johnson, as he continues his hiatus for personal health reasons. 

Only the third show of their summer tour, energies were high, all six members looking at one another with love as they played for an audience just as excited to be there. To see their passion live, not only for each other but their music, was everything I had imagined those summer nights long ago. 

Colors danced across the ceiling as the set went on. Each song contained an arc with flashes of energy which made everyone move with their entire being and sing at the top of their lungs, as well as quiet moments where it seemed that time stopped, and only the soft melody could be heard. 

A particularly emotionally-charged moment was when the band performed one of their most stripped away songs, “Oh My Dear,” with only an electric guitar to back up Jonathan Russel’s vocals. He stood on stage surrounded by darkness, illuminated by a spotlight, each chord progression charged with feeling. As an audience, we were holding our breaths. The quiet moment was broken by lights being raised as the song transitioned into “I Don’t Mind,”one of their most pop sounding songs off the album, Signs of Light. 

The night was not devoid of the consequences of live music. The soft intro of “Winter Song” was cut short when Theilen noticed the lead guitar was out of tune. Laughing, she said, “I’m no musician, but I think that guitar needs tuning.” It was corrected quickly, and we all continued to dance and listen to her sweet voice and gorgeous violin. 

They ended the magical night with an encore comprised of “Library Magic,” “Sounds Like Hallelujah,” “Shake,” and finally, “Rivers and Roads,” all of which gorgeously headlined Theilen’s vulnerable, beautiful voice and Tyler Williams’s incredible percussion. The concert ended right where my love for The Head and The Heart began. It was a night I will never forget. 

 

Photo by James Minchin