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Blue October Brought Everything But Blue to Warnors Theatre

IN THE July 7 ISSUE

FROM THE 2018 Articles,
andMental Health,
andMusic,
andSteven Sanchez
SECTIONS

by Steven Sanchez

Feeling blue, by definition, means feeling melancholy, sad, or depressed. On Father’s Day, Sunday, June 17, alternative rock band Blue October, in reference to their 2018 single release “I Hope You’re Happy,” I’d say the Fresno audience came away with that feeling. As part of the New Rock Summer Round-Up put on by the Central Valley’s alternative rock station New Rock 104.1, the Texas fivesome were joined by the LA ska band The Interrupters, and Fresno’s own Cloudship, to kick off the season of rock summer concerts. All in all, it was a great night of exciting, hard-driving, energetic rock ‘n’ roll all on one bill.

The headliners, led by their frontman, Justin Furstenfeld, burst onto the scene with their signature songs “Hate Me” and “Into the Ocean” from 2006. After 12 years, they are still going strong, and are now an independent act, doing everything from making music, touring, working on other side projects, and all on their own terms. They played the classics and new originals without any difference in their appreciation for either song type; each received equal treatment. Their show fulfilled the criteria of what is required of a satisfactory rock concert ranging from loud vocals, guitar solos, ballads, Justin swaying around the stage with Jagger-esque moves…the list goes on. But with this particular performance, it had a deeper meaning, and a resonance that won’t be forgotten.

blue october

Blue October Lead singer Justin Furstenfeld

Throughout his career, Justin has been very upfront with his battles with anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts. He’s been one of the few rock stars and public music figures to share it with the public before it became a hot topic. With mental illness and suicide awareness being such prevalent subjects in today’s news, this show provided a sense of salvation towards the struggles we experience in everyday life. At one point in the show, Justin stood by his lonesome in the middle of the stage, spotlight shining just on him. Since the Warnors Theatre has a cathedral-like interior, it helped accentuate his message and delivery as if he were a preacher.

blue october

Justin playing acoustic guitar

“I want to continue being honest with you,” Justin addressed the crowd. He confessed to the audience how tough it is to wake up in the morning when a wave of negative thoughts hits him. How the voice inside his head, his positive conscience—the other “Justin”—inspires him to go about his morning routine.

blue october

Blue October Bassist – Matt Noveskey

“Look up at the mirror,” his conscience says, “Don’t you love who you see today, Justin?” as he raised his hands up to the light with the crowd growing louder and louder. His conscience lists all the things that require a good and healthy mindset: “Yesterday, did you lie to anybody? Were you kind to every person you came into contact with? Were you faithful to your wife? Did you honor your kids by setting a good example by respecting the people that you work with?” Justin answers them honestly, and his conscience responds with, “Then there’s nothing wrong.” He gets deeper by mentioning, “I look for miracles, I find them everywhere, and by the end of the night, I can look you into your beautiful faces and tell you, thank you. This is the one thing, every single time I try, do you know what happens? Every morning that I do try, it always works out.”

blue october

Blue October Guitarist – Will Knaak

The mood of the concert shifted after that. It went from just being a fun concert, to the fans having a spiritual connection to the band. Their admirers often tag them as being inspirational. Maybe that’s why, from the research I’ve done and from hearing testimonials from high school classmates who have listened to their music, many have proclaimed that their music meant a lot to them, and in some cases, it helped save their lives. It’s probably why author, Stephanie Meyer, wrote the Twilight series while listening to their music. Justin and Stephanie are friends, by the way.

The entire night wasn’t an emotional roller-coaster ride. The opening acts brought a lot of enthusiasm leading up to the alt-rock group, Central Valley’s Cloudship. They are a two-man rock band, consisting of Brandon Freeman on drums, and Jonathan Napoles on guitar; they both sing. Their music was infused with soul to blues to hard rock, and everything in between, plus a splash of electronica to get a full sound.

Then there were The Interrupters. Lead by frontwoman, Aimee Interrupter, with the Bivona brothers rounding out the band with Kevin on guitar, Justin on bass, and Jesse on drums. Aimee was dressed in a leather jacket and ‘50s pinup makeup, while the boys were decked out in matching suits; their brand of humorous ska music definitely draws comparisons to LA ska darlings No Doubt. But if anything, they have more of a Stray Cats image and sense of rockabilly. They’re reminiscent of early ‘80s new wave British pop-punk acts, where they had a ‘50s look but with a modern edge. As a solo artist, Aimee was a contributor to other artists’ songs and has had her vocals and lyrics featured on television shows and movie soundtracks like “Hairspray” (2007). Since their formation in 2011, they have gained traction by topping the charts, and contributed a song to Michael Moore’s documentary “Where to Invade Next” (2015).

They had the Fresno audience rolling and singing along to their songs. This genre of music is renowned for musicianship and a sense of fun; a band like The Interrupters can carry on the legacy of bands like No Doubt, Sublime, and The Offspring, so that this generation can create a legacy of its own.

This slot of eclectic bands is an exemplary example of what music summer entertainment is all about. And Fresno is a city that definitely needs it. The saying, “there’s nothing to do in Fresno,” is one that needs to end, and shows like this, or the recent Grizzly Fest, can bury that misconception once and for all. And supposedly, from what I heard from the radio station, there’s more to come in the near future. It’s fitting, since Warnors Theatre is right across the street from where Grizzly Fest is located downtown. No matter the venue, book a band of good quality such as Blue October, and people will show up and have a great time.

Steven Sanchez is a film graduate of UNLV. He’s a filmmaker, writer, photographer, and music manager. Obsessed with movies, comic books, and rock ‘n’ roll. A football fanatic, big fan of the Oakland Raiders. Enjoys reading and collecting vinyl records. If there’s a rock show in town more than likely he’ll be there. Loves his grandma’s home cooked meals. He has a twin sister and most people call him the pretty one. You can learn more about Steven on his YouTube channel and on Instagram @stevensanchez5807 photos and videos.

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