Dia Frampton & the Gang, The Troubadour

Dia Frampton (with American Tomahawk and Jarrod Gorbel)
The Troubadour
West Hollywood/Los Angeles, CA
March 18, 2012

I still can’t seem to wrap my head around this entire night. The anxiety pulsing through my wrists, the excitement beating through my chest, and the long-awaited “birthday” concert I’ve been waiting for since the beginning of the quarter… It was finally here!


I first discovered this band as MySpace’s front page artist back in 2006 when they had “Roses”, “Monster”, and “Masterpiece” on their page. I was at the ripe age of 13, and one thing was for certain: They saved my life. They held my hand throughout middle school and really helped me develop, think, and mature into the person I am throughout all of high school. They helped me muster up enough courage to really know who I am, and to stick with it. I remember when my older brother first started to play the guitar and I would nag him to tell him to teach me something. Sooner or later, I found myself taking up lessons in 2007 and further pursued to master it as Meg’s guitar playing was incredible and their songwriting–which I fell in love with the most–inspired my interest to pursue this Art the most (to hit people “here, here and here”–your heart, mind, and ears). Nonetheless, they helped me to really listen to music as I found a humble home and space for myself in it (and it made sense; in the 3rd grade, my teacher told me I had a knack for writing, and my guitar teacher told me nobody’s picked up the guitar quicker than me). There weren’t any reasons for me to stop pursuing this… and there wasn’t any reason for me to let go.

It’s been 3 days since the concert, and I still can’t stop watching all of my 16 performance videos, amidst this finals week. I may sound hopelessly sentimental right now, but these concert videos are really making me tear up. They keep tuggin’ and tuggin’ on my poor heartstrings, to make me feel something. And, for 6 years, I’ve been trying to find out what exactly makes them make me feel this way… every single time.

The Show Itself

To recap on the night, I can’t tell you anymore how perfect their hand-picked opening acts were. American Tomahawk opened up first, with the entire band drinking their whiskey onstage and the lead singer being “not drunk enough”. I loved their folksy indie feel, and the lead singer’s voice was really unique. Jarrod Gorbel (from The Honorary Title) was up next, accompanied by Dre Babinski who, I think, really made the set. She played the violin which gave their duet a unique feel and definitely added an adorable, sweet-ness to the stage. Everyone was rooting for her more than for Jarrod… and when she sang, everyone’s adrenaline levels rose. She kind of reminded me of the effect Meg and Dia Frampton themselves had on their fans in their early days. Will old Meg & Dia fans be following Dre now (go check out her duo project “Miracle Days”)?

The guys of the band came out and did their sound-check (of course, both Meg and Dia can’t come out since everyone will go crazy; I’ve learned that from prior shows). I could feel the adrenaline amongst everyone go up because the act we’ve all been dying to see was coming up in a matter of minutes. For all us diehard Meg & Dia fans/”boardies”, we were definitely the driving force of the audience. Once Meg and Dia came out, they opened up with the adrenaline-pumped “Don’t Kick the Chair” into “Isabella”. From the video, you can just feel the energy in the room. Pump up the volume and put on those headphones when you watch this! (It’s funny, because you can hear my brother and I commenting on how “too close” Dia is to us! Check out the transition between the two songs and you can see my brother and I’s excitement!) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MVp5U0_CkBk

Their entire set was indeed infectiously happy. They just made you feel good the entire time. I must say, the entire band does perform very differently now. It makes sense though; they’ve mastered these songs for months and have been touring around all over the country from big amphitheaters with thousands of country fans to smaller headliners with devote fans. Dia’s definitely put her training to good use; her hand-motions, more exaggerated facial expressions, and seemingly more “planned out” commentary were, I have to say, different. I admit, I miss seeing them perform in their normal clothes and really rocking and belting out to their songs, but they looked classy nonetheless (as during the entire tour!). Even though this is a “Dia Frampton” show, they managed to pay dues to their old “Meg & Dia” fans by playing, “Bandits” and “Love Is” from their album Cocoon (and, as a specialty for the Troubadour show [they made sure to make it out to this show because handfuls of boardies were flying in from out of town], they played “Roses”–one of their earliest songs–in which they haven’t played in 2 years). Their encore performance couldn’t’ve ended the show any better. By playing “Roses” in tribute to their early beginnings as “Meg & Dia” and of all the years’ success, trials, and tribulations, and then ending with “Heartless”, the song that initially rose Dia to fame, they made their encore performance a testament to the fans who have always been there for them, and a tribute to the new found success found through their old and new fans’ constant motivation to keep going. It was bittersweet, and beautiful.

The intimate setting definitely made it special. Albeit, I’ve never gone to a huge concert in an amphitheater before, so this was like old times for me (3 years to be exact!). I’m not sure whether this may be because this is technically a “Dia Frampton” rather than a “Meg & Dia” show, but I got the sense that they were, in a way, “trying too hard”. It may have been because all of their training and touring on an all-out major tour with Blake Shelton has polished them; or because they’ve just really grown as performers (or even because they felt intimidated because they knew a lot of us “boardies” were expecting a lot from them); but, things felt a little more forced. The side comments didn’t feel as natural, but more well-thought-out; I got the sense Dia was “used” to getting all of these gifts and it wasn’t much a surprise (it may have been the nerves from being onstage and how to react to these gifts); all the guys were sitting on the side of the stage (as opposed to standing up and being with the band; this may be because it’s a “Dia Frampton” show); Dia’s singing was kept more under “control” (even the times she did belt out, she watched herself, not really losing herself with the music)… There were just a lot of differences, but, I don’t want to bash this band because they did put on one stellar show. They have definitely gone so far and have grown entirely as performers on-stage. I feel as if they’ve been taught that concerts weren’t just for playing music, but for performing them as well. They engaged with the audience more (Dia has definitely grown more comfortable as a front-woman, relying on herself to drive the show rather than looking side-to-side to her sister and the band, as opposed to old days). Dia had to make the effort to include her band more, which was very different (for obvious reasons).

Dia, and the band, has definitely become performers rather than plain musicians, which is probably the sole reason for all the differences I’ve noted.

After the Show Party/Event

Being a long-term fan has definitely been worth it, and the band definitely takes note of it. Vil (friend of the band, who also drew the artwork for their first “Our Home Is Gone [EP]”) and a couple of the other boardies organized an after-show (in which we had to find Vil so he can keep check of how many people there were). The after show event turned into a sort of  “meet and greet”, rather than a hang-out in which was initially intended. Being in the same room, talking and chatting with the band was so surreal. I thought I would’ve never made the day… This was quite an accomplishment for me, because, for a band I’ve grown so attached and devote to for what seems an entire childhood and adolescence, and to finally have the chance to be with them, after I’ve grown to know so much about them over the years and to have made it to this point… It was something special. And it definitely affirmed a lot of my feelings for the band.

The band members themselves were great. I handed Carlo my letter/gift to them onstage, and he immediately said, “Hey, you’re Rachel right?” I was shocked and said, “Yeah… How’d you know who I was?!” “I’ve seen you on Facebook and stuff.” (It makes sense, since he’s also watched my videos and even commented my live performance of “Here, Here and Here”.) While they were cleaning up the stage, he reassured me, “It may not look like I appreciate this but I really do!” He continued to quickly pack everything up. Upstairs, I talked with Dia a bit and gave her my brother’s “Twan & Dia” poster, and asked her if she recognized it. She laughed and said, “Yeah!” and showed it to Mike (their old-time manager). I would say, “Carlo!” to Carlo as he passed by, and at one point Dia got locked out of the room as she was banging on the door. I finally met familiar faces face-to-face and chatted with other boardies, who were feeling as weird as we were! I ended up being the one mostly to initiate the interactions with the band members (since, as Matt said, they seemed to know me the most). I snagged a photo with Carlo who is always so friendly. I had a brief encounter with Meg and asked for a photo. I waited to be with Jonathan and told him, “I know you hate taking photos but can we have a photo with you?!” He responded with, “Ahhhh, here we go…” (in a joking way, of course) and we ended up taking 2 shots since he was so uncomfortable taking the first! Then, as they were trying to close the place up after a little more than an hour up there, I scurried my way over to Nick and had an awesome conversation with him. I asked him, “So how’s tour going?” He said it’s been long but he’s been enjoying it… He was glad to have made it out to this show because, “This was the show that really mattered… I mean, you guys have been with us since the beginning,” so this was their way of paying us back. Nick definitely loved it and had a great time, as he keeps posting up with Facebook comments how much he loves all of us. I also mentioned how Carlo seemed to know who I already was from online stuff, and he said, “Yeah, Carlo is the only one who keeps up with all of that stuff… I like to be self-centered and just check for my stuff to see, ‘Is that how I really look like onstage?!'” Nick’s always been the sweetest and he was kind enough to take a quick photo with me before I left. Afterwards, we took a boardie photo and finally hit the road with the rest of our caravan (well, to Ihop first!).

What’s Next?

So, there’s my recap of the entire night. I apologize if this seems like a novel to you I tried to keep it as short and concise as I can!), but not enough words can ever amount to how amazing an experience this was for me.

I have to say that this show has really affirmed a lot of things for me. I oftentimes have written in the past how it can sometimes hurt whenever I would listen to their music. I would even avoid listening to their music for weeks because there’s some sort of special attachment I have to them that I don’t want to lose–or even acknowledge–by repeatedly listening to them.

Have you ever had some sort of special memento or key to your past that just unlocked and triggered all these memories and emotions you felt at a specific moment in your life? Or have you ever had some significant figure in your life that really left an imprint on your life, or your heart?

That is what Meg & Dia has done for me. As that shy little quiet and bashful 12-year-old girl, their music really triggered something in me. With no absolute idea or direction of what I wanted to pursue, or what I wanted to do with my life, or even what my own hobbies and interests were beyond scoring good grades and staying home playing video games with my brothers, their music, their words, and their voices truly spoke to me. They gave me light. They gave me wisdom. They gave me an understanding of why I felt the way I did. They made me feel less alone. They made me realize my love for English. They made me believe that my thoughts were above anyone else’s. They helped me tap into my untapped potentials. They uplifted my spirits and encouraged me to just be me at times I felt so insecure of myself. And—they let me have a purpose. (…)

When you come across some old memory or item or token to your past (or, in this case, each and every Meg & Dia song for me), you remember why exactly you are where you are. Whether it’s Home or a simple memory, coming back to it and embracing all it was and still is will help you come to terms with your true self. You’ll remember why it was so important to you, or why it may even have hurt you so much. You’ll remember the emotions you felt—whether you feel it again or not—and you’ll remember how far you’ve come since then. How much you’ve grown. And why you’re going the way you are going. (Blog Source)

I feel like it’s been such a long tread for me with Meg & Dia. I’ve always been wary of my becoming “too attached” to them because I didn’t want to grow into one of their obsessive fans, or even pin my own happiness on them. That’s why, I find, their music can sometimes hurt me. Because every time they remind me of the dream I’ve had ever since I was that shy little insecure 12-year-old girl. They remind me of my want and need to pursue it… But I find myself always being too critical, too self-conscious, and too much of a perfectionist when it comes to everything I write, play, and create.

It’s all about letting go. As Meg & Dia (and Dia Frampton herself) have been garnering so much success within the past year, and “The Voice” triggering all these different turn of events, it’s been easier for me to let go of that

… small indie-rock band formed by sisters Meg and Dia Frampton [who] defies the rules of songwriting and writes of topics which mean the most to them – life, love, and literature. Their songs consist not only of heartbreak and the never-ending journey in life, but also religion, politics, and other topics of maturity beyond the ripe ages of 22 and 25. (Blog Source)

As my best friend told me on the verge of their emerging success, they were that “crutch” I had when it came to my music. They were what I relied on. Now is the best time for me to really “let go” and just be me. She could’ve never been any more true (side note: the cool thing about us is that, whenever we talk to each other, we seem to bring light to things we already knew in ourselves, but have never been put forth until it reached the tip of our own tongues). With their emerging success, changing styles and growth and maturity, it’s really been easier to let go of my prior infatuation with them. I’ll say it: They’ve shaped who I am, and I owe a lot to them, as I wrote them in my gift. Without them, I don’t think I would be half of who I am. I’ll always be an avid and devote fan, coming out to their shows at every second I can get, because… They are like Home to me. They are that memory and key to your past you can never let go of. But now, it’s time to do Me.

My Compilation Video of the Night

+ more [click link]
American Tomahawk – “Unknown” (Snippet)
Jarrod Gorbel (Accompanied by Dre Babinski) – “Miserable Without You” (Snippet)
Dia Frampton – “Don’t Kick The Chair” into “Isabella”
Dia Frampton – “Trapeze”
Meg & Dia – “Bandits”
Dia Frampton – “The Most Beautiful (Boy In The Room)” (Flight of the Conchords Cover)
Meg & Dia – “Roses” [Encore Performance]
Carlo Tricks us into playing “Indiana” during encore

I’m so glad they loved my gift!


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