The Black Keys Extend U.S. Tour

The Black Keys and have added a second leg to their North American tour, with Arctic Monkeys as opener. Spanning 16 dates, the leg kicks off in Houston on April 24 and wraps in Milwaukee on May 16. Tickets for these shows go on sale Friday, January 13, except for Seattle (Jan. 20) and Denver (Jan. 21).

The Black Keys 2012 Tour Dates:
01/23 – Antwerp, BE @ Lotto
01/24 – Lille, FR @ Zenith
01/25 – Lille, FR @ Zenith
01/27 – Hamburg, DE @ Sporthalle
01/28 – Berlin, DE @ Arena
01/30 – Milan, IT @ Alcatraz
01/31 – Zurich, CH @ Maag Hall
02/01 – Eindhoven, NL @ Klokgebouw
02/03 – Nottingham, UK @ Capital FM Arena
02/04 – Edinburgh, UK @ Corn Exchange
02/06 – Manchester, UK @ O2 Apollo
02/07 – Manchester, UK @ O2 Apollo
02/09 – London, UK @ Alexandra Palace
02/10 – London, UK @ Alexandra Palace
02/11 – London, UK @ Alexandra Palace
03/02 – Cincinnati, OH @ U.S. Bank Arena *
03/03 – Detroit, MI @ Joe Louis Arena *
03/04 – Columbus, OH @ Jerome Schottenstein Center *
03/06 – Portland, ME @ Cumberland Co. Civic Center *
03/07 – Boston, MA @ TD Garden *
03/09 – Washington, DC @ Verizon Center *
03/10 – Philadelphia, PA @ Wells Fargo Center *
03/12 – New York, NY @ Madison Square Garden *
03/13 – Montreal, QC @ Bell Centre *
03/14 – Toronto, ON @ Air Canada Centre *
03/16 - Indianapolis, IN @ Conesco Fieldhouse *
03/18 -Grand Rapids, MI @ Van Andel Arena *
03/19 – Chicago, IL @ United Center *
03/20 – Cleveland, OH @ Quicken Loans Arena *
03/22 – New York, NY @ Madison Square Garden *
03/23 – Norfolk, VA @ Constant Convocation Center *
03/24 – Charlotte, NC @ Bojangles Arena *
04/24 – Houston, TX @ Cynthia Woods Pavilion *
04/25 – Austin, TX @ Frank Erwin Center *
04/27 – St. Louis, MO @ Chaifetz Arena *
04/28 – Tulsa, OK @ BOK Center *
04/30 – Broomfield, CO @ 1st Bank Center *
05/02 – W. Valley City, UY @ Maverik Center *
05/04 – Oakland, CA @ Oracle Arena *
05/05 – Sacramento, CA @ Powerbalance Pavilion *
05/07 – Portland, OR @ Rose Garden Arena *
05/08 – Seattle, WA @ Key Arena *
05/09 – Vancouver, BC @ Rogers Arena *
05/11 – Calgary, AB @ Scotiabank Saddledome *
05/12 – Edmonton, AB @ Rexall Place *
05/14 – Winnipeg, MB @ MTS Centre *
05/15 – Minneapolis, MN @ Target Center *
05/16 – Milwaukee, WI @ Bradley Center *

* = w/ Arctic Monkeys

NBC's Smash Streaming 3 Weeks Before Premiere

NBC will begin streaming one of its biggest hopes for midseason, the Broadway drama "Smash," three weeks before it premieres on-air.

The strategy is becoming increasingly popular as a way of building buzz: It worked well for Fox in the fall, when it began streaming "New Girl" two weeks before it aired. (The show has been one of the biggest hits of the season.)

"Smash" -- which stars "American Idol" runner-up Katharine McPhee, Megan Hilty, Debra Messing and Anjelica Huston -- debuts Monday, Feb. 6, after "The Voice." But it will first be available for streaming Monday, Jan. 16, on all of NBC's digital download partners, including iTunes, Amazon, XBox, Playstation, and Vudu.

The next week, beginning Jan. 23, it will begin streaming on NBC.com and Hulu.

NBC entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt made the announcement Friday at the Television Critics Association winter press tour, saying some details of the on-demand plan had leaked early and that he wanted to confirm additional details.

Cable networks have used early online releases before to build excitement for shows, but "New Girl" was the first network show to try it on a large scale.

Megan Hilty of "Smash," Jake Johnson of "New Girl" and Dia Frampton (runner-up of "The Voice") are all featured in the January issue of Variance.

DOWNLOAD: Gary Go's Our Love is on the Line

After enjoying a GRAMMY-nominated remix from Skrillex and being front and center in Benassi’s video for “Close to Me”, Gary Go toured the globe as the face and voice of dance music. But that was last year. Now that 2012 is upon us, Gary is stepping into the spotlight on his own with his new album “Now Was Once The Future.We reviewed the new album, which releases on the 11th, in our January issue of Variance.

In conjunction with the announcement of the NWOTF release date, Gary is releasing a new single “Our Love is on the Line.” Gary’s spirited and soulful vocals take center stage on the funk and soul-influenced track. It is a pop gem that is as catchy as it is riveting.

Listen to the new track “Our Love is on the Line.” (Available HERE - Right click on the link to download)

Young the Giant Announce 2012 Tour Dates

Young the Giant have announced their 2012 headlining tour. Tickets will go on sale for most dates on Friday, November 18. More dates will probably be announced in the future.

Check out Young the Giant on the cover of the most recent issue of Variance and take a look at their tour dates below:
( + ) = w/Special Guest GroupLove
( ! ) = w/Special Guest Walk the Moon

Feb 10 Soma (+) San Diego, CA

Feb 15 Rialto Theatre (+) Tuscon, AZ

Feb 16 Crescent Ballroom (+) Phoenix, AZ

Feb 18 The Ogden (+) Denver, CO

Feb 20 Varsity Theatre (+) Minneapolis, MN

Feb 21 Rave II Milwaukee, WI

Feb 23 Metro (+) Chicago, IL

Feb 24 Madison Theatre Covington, KY

Feb 25 Newport Music Hall (+) Columbus, OH

Feb 26 Beachland Ballroom (+) Cleveland, OH

Feb 28 Magic Stick (+) Detroit, MI

Mar 01 Phoenix Concert Theatre (+) Toronto, ON

Mar 02 Ritual Nightclub (+) Ottawa, ON

Mar 03 Cabaret-Mile End (+) Montreal, QC

Mar 04 Le Cercle (+) Quebec City, QC

Mar 06 Higher Ground (!) Burlington, VT

Mar 08 House of Blues (!) Boston, MA

Mar 09 Terminal 5 (!) New York, NY

Mar 10 Electric Factory (!) Philadelphia, PA

Mar 11 9:30 Club (!) Washington, DC

Mar 15 Center Stage (!) Atlanta, GA

Mar 18 Culture Room (!) Ft. Lauderdale, FL

Mar 20 House of Blues (!) New Orleans, LA

Mar 22 Fitzgerald's (!) Houston, TX

Mar 23 Prophet Bar (!) Dallas, TX

Mar 24 Stubb's BBQ (!) Austin, TX

Mar 27 Cain's Ballroom (!) Tulsa, OK

Mar 29 The Gargoyle (!) St. Louis, MO

Mar 30 The Midland (!) Kansas City, MO

Mar 31 People's Court (!) Des Moines, IA

Apr 03 In The Venue (!) Salt Lake City, UT

REVIEW: Chromeo Show Live

Date: October 21, 2011

When I stepped into the venue, I anticipated two things; half dressed girls and glow stick headbands. Little did I know that Chromeo would bring such a diverse crowd to their live show. The fans consisted of chic rich kids, ironic hipsters, grungy burn-outs, “normal” people, and middle aged parents who dragged their kids along for the ride because, well, this is their modern day version of The Cars.

I wasn’t sure whether to fear for my life or be extremely impressed when the crowd started chanting in unison, “Chrome-ee-oh, Ooooh-Oh!” And when the electro-pop music gods took the stage, the energy seemed to creep over the barricades and sink into the souls of the two front men. Ladies drooled over the vocals and presence of Dave 1 just long enough to lose their minds to the sound of the synthesizing, talk boxing, keyboardist, P-Thugg. Naturally, they played all the hits that made the majority of the crowd lose 10 lbs. of sweat. It was a good night for both old fans and new, pulling songs from their 2004-2010 albums (She’s in Control, Fancy Footwork, and Business Casual.)

Chills run through your body any time Dave 1 sneaks away from the mic to unleash on the drums next to him. And for someone who is separated from the crowd by their own equipment, P-Thugg manages to hype up the audience better than most. Visually, they have achieved the “can’t-look-away” aspect of a live performance. If you’re in the crowd, you might catch a finger point of acknowledgement or a distant dance partner moment with one of the members. From the sidelines, you’ll be able to see the intimate madness of arms flailing and hair flipping.

I’m convinced that 70% of the people in that room had taken weeks of dance lessons before the show. Even the overly intoxicated man who was high-fiving everything in sight, including our photographer’s camera that luckily remained intact, had unexpected dance moves. I am also convinced that Chromeo might be the happiest duo on earth. The ability to remain connected to the crowd and keep a genuine smile through every song is unique. They seem to enjoy their show just as much as the music lovers staring up at them.

The dance party atmosphere was heightened by the flickering bulbs in the background, and confetti guns made you feel like it’s N.Y.E. at Times Square, with strips of shiny keepsakes raining down over the crowd. You can listen to the albums all day, but they won’t expose the relentless qualities that are hidden in Chromeo’s live performance.

The Numbers:
Confetti guns: 4
Sunglasses indoors: 25+
Roll of toilet paper thrown: 1
Extreme salsa dancing couple: 1
Hula hooping pros in the crowd: 2
Illnesses for the guy high-fiving unwashed bathroom hands: Endless

REMAINING DATES:
10 / 27 / 11 NIGHT FALLS TOUR: The National - Richmond, VA
10 / 28 / 11 Moog Festival, TBD - Asheville, NC
10 / 29 / 11 NIGHT FALLS TOUR: Fillmore - Washington, DC
10 / 31 / 11 NIGHT FALLS TOUR: Electric Factory - Philadelphia, PA
11 / 01 / 11 NIGHT FALLS TOUR: House of Blues - Boston, MA
11 / 02 / 11 NIGHT FALLS TOUR: Sound Academy - Toronto, ON
11 / 04 / 11 NIGHT FALLS TOUR: Terminal 5 **SOLD OUT** - New York, NY
11 / 05 / 11 NIGHT FALLS TOUR: Terminal 5 **SOLD OUT** - New York, NY
11 / 12 / 11 One Music & Arts Festival, Teatro Chino de Six Flags Mexico - Mexico City, MX
11 / 17 / 11 NIGHT FALLS TOUR: The Wiltern - Los Angeles, CA
11 / 20 / 11 NIGHT FALLS TOUR: House of Blues - Dallas, TX
11 / 25 / 11 London HMV Forum - London, UK

OFFBEAT: 2012 Candidates' Music Playlists

Next fall, Americans will head to the polls to vote for President. And while most voters will be making their choice based on political issues, many factors come into play when selecting a Commander-in-chief. Who would you rather share a beer with, George W. Bush or John Kerry? In 2004, a majority chose Bush. Who do you want answering the phone at 3 a.m.? In 2008, Hillary Clinton felt that was a valid question to ask.

The 2012 election is certain to be a wild one, and most everything will be on the table for discussion. So we have to ask, would a candidate's music playlist sway your vote? We may or may not have raided some of the candidates' iPods to find out what they listening to and--well--it may not be what you expected...

The Asteroids Galaxy Tour

Whether you call them retro or electro, The Asteroids Galaxy Tour have a certain out-of-this-world hybrid of soul and rock that makes them a growing favorite among indie rock and electro-pop fans alike.

To download their free single, "Major, right click on the link below and select, 'Save as...'
Download Major

Honoring Steve Jobs

Today, the world lost a true legend.

Steve Jobs was one of the greatest innovators of his time and his impact has undeniably been seen and felt for decades. For this generation and likely for others to come, he will be remembered for changing how we use technology, how we listen to music, how we communicate, and in many ways, how we live.

We wouldn't be able to do so much of what we do if not for Mr. Jobs. We salute a great visionary and an incredible man who lived out his calling to make a difference in his world...and therefore, changing ours.

Rest in peace, Steve Jobs. Thank you.

-Variance Team

The State of the Music Industry

Q&A with Ben Adelson – Director of A&R, Universal Republic; Manager, Young the Giant

How do you see the future of rock music?
From a management perspective, rock music is in a good place because you can still tour. There are countless bands who can play to 1,500 people in New York City but haven’t even sold 30,000 albums overall. But they continue to tour, they put on a good show, and they put out a good record. Nowadays when you put out music anybody can listen to it for free so there’s no longer that mystery of, hearing one song and needing to go buy the whole album. But you have to write a good record. What we’re starting to see is that there are less one hit wonders in rock. When we look at things from A&R, we’re looking for a band who has a touring base, who has fans. But in terms of selling a ton of records, you’re just not going to have the exposure that pop or urban have right now.

Today you see a lot of bands go the “indie” route before they cross over. From an A&R standpoint, is that something you look for in order to get signed—a band that is established?
Yeah. Whether it’s a major or an indie label, you’re putting up money for a band—investing money for marketing or touring or radio, etc. I’m always looking for a band that has a story, they have something going on. There are fans—period. If you put out music and literally no one reacts or cares, that’s frustrating. And why would a label today want to get behind that? So for us, we are looking for band that has proven something—they’re growing their business, and it’s something we can take to the next level. ‘To the next level’ is the key thing there.

How does a band that doesn’t fit into mainstream pop music find success?
I don’t think genre has anything to do with it, to be completely honest. I think if you write a great record, it will be exposed. There are tons of blogs—there’s Hype Machine, We Are Hunted, BandCamp. Tons of ways to get your music exposed. Look at the top albums this year on iTunes, Adele has dominated. Adele is beating Lady Gaga. Who would have thought? Foster the People—they were an indie hype band last summer and now have one of the most popular songs (and albums) of 2011. If you write a great record, it doesn’t matter what genre it is. The Civil Wars are a great example of this. You don’t even need the radio to be your first doorway for exposure. The advice I give bands: Write as much as you can. Don’t think about the marketing or how you’re going to release it. Sit down and write, and put out an EP or an album where every single song is your best. That’s the thing. Writing good songs is the key to breaking as a band or as an artist. But it’s a great time for music.

How many more Justin Biebers and Lady Gagas do you think we’ll see?
You know, it’s a fair question. But you have to look at the history of music. There have always been stars like this—pop stars who may or may not write their own songs. There’s always a lane for that. I think there will always be pop stars. But again, there is definitely more of a lane for great artists who don’t fit into that category than there has been in a long time.

Labels weren’t quick to embrace “digital.” What’s your view on digital music?
I think you kind of adjust. As Sam Goody, f.y.e., and mom-and-pop stores close more locations, iTunes is the largest retailer for music now. Best Buy is No. 2. So, we know where the exposure is going to be. iTunes is your No. 1 account. I think in terms of distribution iTunes is great because you can put something out rather quickly. In a physical store, you can’t put out a single. On iTunes, you can release one song and see the reaction instantly and track stats in real-time. In terms of physical versus digital, it’s still the same for us. We want to get the album out there as much as possible. The means to do that have changed but the goals haven’t.

With digital music quickly replacing traditional formats, what are your thoughts on services like Spotify?
It’s a good product. But it has a while to go before it’s perfected. They’re missing a good amount of the catalog and there are little kinks. The ability to discover new music isn’t exactly the easiest thing, as far as what’s new and hot—being guided. That’s something I like about iTunes—artists you might like and recommendations. People are talking about music moving to your phone and that’s something Spotify does. I think people still like the idea of owning music and being able to access it even if they don’t have Internet. It’s relatively early, though.

Speaking of getting music “out there,” many bands are releasing free albums and music. What are your thoughts on giving music away?
For rap music, there’s the mix tape and that’s always been around—samplers. Is giving your music away guaranteed to do great things for you? No. If you write crappy music, it doesn’t matter that it’s free. If it’s great music and you give it away and people like it, word will spread. Free is a good marketing tool but it will only work well for you if you have a good product. For a new artist, it comes down to quality.

Where do you see things going for the music industry?
I think there’s potential for the industry to grow. And I think the labels have started realizing what’s working and what’s not…

What would you say isn’t working?
It’s harder now to bring someone from complete obscurity into stardom. That just doesn’t happen. And an artist really can’t expect that to happen anymore either. Simply because of the amount of exposure that new artists get. Now, anyone can listen to any song anywhere at anytime, and it’s less and less likely that someone just emerges from nowhere. It’s forcing artists to go more towards making actual good music. For music fans, it’s definitely an incredible time. The stuff that’s going to surface is going to be better and better. From Florence [Welch] to Two Door [Cinema Club] to The Black Keys, these are artists who are selling albums that are genuinely great music. If we make great records, they will sell much better. It’s an exciting time for artists and fans, and it will only benefit the industry.

Bands you’re watching that aren’t mainstream yet?
I can tell you some of my favorites. The Weekend, from Toronto. He’s incredibly talented and things are only going to get better for him. The band Walk the Moon from Cincinnati is great. If there’s an alternative rock band that could break through next year, I think they would be in that category. They know how to write great songs. Reptar, from Athens, GA, puts on a great live show that’s fun and they’re doing some really interesting things. Boy & Bear are a folk rock band from Australia. They’re great live and they have the potential to do something amazing. And there’s a band from New York called Yellow Ostrich that I really like personally.

Young the Giant to be on Variance October Cover

Young the Giant, the indie-rock band who recently nabbed a coveted performance at the MTV VMA's as the sole non-pop, non-Top 40 act, will be Variance's October cover story. As an indie group in a sea of pop "giants," they are a rare testament in the music industry. After years of fine-tuning their craft and developing a loyal grassroots fan base, the band is now on tour with Incubus and has seen their self-titled album climb the Billboard charts and iTunes, currently sitting at #90 on the Top 200 (and #4 on the Alternative charts this past week). Other features in the October issue will include: Gym Class Heroes, Gavin DeGraw, the Australian favorite Cut Copy, Explosions in the Sky, Mat Kearney, author and blogger Jon Acuff, the YouTube sensation Karmin, Patrick Stump of Fall Out Boy, Twilight's Chaske Spencer, Switchfoot, a rare interview with the PIXIES, and so much more. The new issue lands October 1, 2011.

Get $2 Off Young the Giant Album

In celebration of Young the Giant's performance at the MTV VMAs last night, Best Buy is giving fans $2 off their purchase of the band's new album.

The discount is available through this Saturday, September 3. You can print off the coupon or just show them the image on your mobile phone. (Download the coupon here.)

For more on Young the Giant--and to watch their VMA performance, go here. And look for them in the upcoming October issue of Variance Magazine.

Readers: Pumped Up Kicks is Song of Summer!

Every year, there's that one song during the hottest months that either seems to be everywhere you go or you just can't stop listening to it! It might dominate the airwaves...or maybe just your iPod. Either way, you can't help but love it!

We asked our readers to weigh in and vote for their favorite tune of the season--their choice for 2011 Song of Summer. After thousands of clicks, one of this year's biggest radio hits was no match for a song that millions of people can't get enough of! Foster the People's "Pumped Up Kicks" is officially Variance readers' choice for Song of Summer, beating out LMFAO's "Party Rock Anthem" and Katy Perry's "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)," which recently made chart history.

Thanks to everyone who voted! And just for kicks, here's the song you voted for, brought to you by our friends at Soundcloud.