Mosh Pit Etiquette

Mosh pits may seem like total chaos, and for the most part they are! But mosh pits can also be lot of fun. Moshing is a good way to let loose, if you know how to behave. Behind the flailing flesh and dancing denizens of the pit is a set of guidelines which are in place to make sure everyone has a good time while throwing their bodies around. Hopefully, this guide will get you started on the right path so you can enjoy the most popular form of consensual violence.

It’s your choice to get in the pit

Don’t shove people into the pit. Putting a person in a mosh pit is signing them up for something without their consent, which is uncool. Once you’re in a pit it can be difficult to get out, so make sure everyone in the mosh pit wants to be there.

If someone doesn’t want to be there, they won’t go all out. This is less fun for everyone because they’ll get thrown around but won’t return what you’ve given them. Don’t feel like you have to put yourself in a mosh pit unless you want to match the kind of movement of the pit. Once you’re in, keep giving it everything you got and whatever happens, good or bad, know you’re there because you chose to be.

Help one another

Just because someone is in a mosh pit doesn’t mean they’re there to hurt each other.

Josh Sisk – Special to the Baltimore Sun

Sometimes, someone drops their glasses or phone, or falls over themselves. When something like this happens, you need to help that person get up or get their items off of the ground. Nothing ruins a mosh pit like someone losing their sight or literally getting stomped on. If someone calls out after losing their phone/wallet/keys/glasses, help them look! The sooner they have their things the sooner you can get back to moshing. If someone falls, make some room! It’s hard to get back up with thrashing bodies all over you.

Mosh with everyone

Hitting people can be fine, but don’t start fights. Moshing is about connecting with others. If someone hits you don’t single them out. Everyone is equal in the pit, and equally deserving of bumps and hits! If someone pushes you, maybe change where you’re being pushed so you run into somebody else. If it goes right, that motion gets amplified and energizes the pit even more!

There are several kinds of mosh pits. You’ll find them at everything from EDM festivals to metal concerts. Some are so crowded that all you can do is pogo. Other pits (like circle pits) have more space for you to throw yourself into others, and vice versa, giving everyone more room to be reckless and let loose. The point is to embrace it, and be considerate of others. Remember, you want to get along after all that moshing!

Ted Van Pelt – Flickr

J. Cole – Concert Review

On September 8th, Salt Lake City was blessed by the presence of one of the biggest hip hop artists out right now. Yes, the great J. Cole performed here for the first time in three years on his KOD Tour, and it was quite the show to behold.

Opening acts

The show started at about 8pm, with EarthGang coming out to perform first. They kicked the show off with a mix of  popular songs including “Missed Calls” and “Can’t Call It”. They brought good vibes to the crowd and it’s safe to say that they’ve earned some new fans.

After EarthGang finished up their set, it was Jaden Smith’s time to shine. Smith’s set was when the crowd really started to get into the concert mood and turn up. He performed songs such as “Batman”, “Icon”, and “George Jeff”, to the delight of many of those in attendance. To finish off his set, Smith performed “Icon” once again as he raced through the entire lower bowl. The crowd loved this and it got them into the performance even more. Jaden Smith put on a great show and he was a quality opener, as evident by the amount of hype he generated for the main act.

Young Thug was supposed to perform after Jaden Smith, but he didn’t show up for an unknown reason. With no third opening act, the crowd was left with a DJ playing music from J. Cole’s Dreamville label while they waited for Cole to come out. The anticipation was at an all-time high and the crowd could hardly contain it. More and more people started filing in from the concourse. And as the clock struck 9:15pm, the show kicked off.

Cole World

This is the moment that everyone had been waiting the whole night for. The openers were cool, but it was finally time for J. Cole to come out.

Suddenly the whole arena went black. The huge video monitor on the stage lit up and showed images of an infant right after it was born, with “KOD Intro” playing in the background. Once the intro ended, J. Cole appeared and we faintly heard the beginning of “Window Pain (Outro)”. Cole perfectly captured the emotions in this song with his performance, and it was a very harrowing moment. The crowd was in awe seeing one of the greatest artists of their generation performing it.

Next, Cole threw it back to 2014 Forest Hills Drive and played crowd favorites “A Tale of 2 Citiez” and “Fire Squad”. After these tracks, he brought it back to KOD and played the majority of the album.   

Cole didn’t just stick to these two albums however. To the delight of many fans, he played a few tracks from his debut album Cole World: The Sideline Story, as well as a couple from 2016’s 4 Your Eyez Only.

After throwing it back a bit to his previous work, Cole took a moment to address the crowd about very serious issues that are currently facing our society. With emotion in his voice, he talked about the mental health crisis that he addresses quite frequently on KOD. This was the most emotional and heartfelt that I’ve ever heard J. Cole, and it was my personal favorite moment of the entire show. He urged the crowd to love their life and seek help when they need it, and then he played two of his more personal tracks, “Love Yourz” and “Apparently”.

Following the sentimental moment, Cole played more tracks from 2014 Forest Hills Drive and then finished the show with the last two tracks from KOD. The album’s title track, “KOD”, was another highlight of the show, purely because you could tell that the entire crowd was waiting for it the whole night.

Cole then thanked the crowd for showing up to the show and then walked off the stage. They chanted “one more song” until he finally came back out and performed perhaps his most recognizable track, “No Role Modelz”. He definitely closed out the show with a bang.

Final Thoughts

This was absolutely a night to remember. J. Cole put on an amazing show that was well worth the money that those in attendance spent. He performed songs from every era of his music and truly encompassed his entire artistic direction. It was especially cool hearing him perform his older tracks and being able to compare them to his latest. It really shows the growth that he has had and makes me  appreciate him that much more.

If you missed this show, I urge you to go see J. Cole when he comes to Salt Lake City again. Even if you aren’t his biggest fan, you will get your money’s worth.

Caught in a Dream – Sales at In the Venue

No Vacation

I walk into In The Venue in Salt Lake City as No Vacation is walking on stage. The poorly lit room is already 75% full, but will soon fill up for the sold-out show. Their first song is an epic instrumental piece highlighted by a beautiful piano melody with soft cymbals played under mallets. No Vacation sets the scene for a dreamy night of live music.

Playing with 5 musicians, the Bedroom Pop band originally from San Francisco first got together in 2015. Their sound is light and airy. Their songs are simple and beautiful. Built with heavy reverb, No Vacation channels a shoegaze type tone. Their music makes you want to lie on a grassy hill and watch the clouds float by as you feel the breeze.

Despite the nearly packed house, the crowd resonates an abnormal silence after their applause. The lead singer and guitarist, Sabrina Mai, calls us respectful. A strange compliment to be given during a concert.

Near the end of their set, they play the song “August”. Following a brief keyboard introduction, a sample with a familiar voice saying, “Hello it’s me, Mario” wakes the crowd up from a musically induced coma. No Vacation puts on a fantastic show that last around 40 min. I personally enjoyed their set more than the headliner for the show.

Sales

By 9 o’clock the venue is completely packed. The sweltering August heat begins to make itself known. Sales’ music is lo-fi guitar pop. They are comprised of 2 guitarists and a drummer playing on half a drum-kit. Despite their minimalist sound, Sales play several songs that are straight-up jams. Hundreds of hipsters dance around doing their best to not touch anyone around them.

Singer and guitarist Lauren Morgan informs the audience that they have been doing this completely independent, without a record label or band manager. This causes the crowd to erupt and a small joy to spark inside me. It’s always awesome to see that some people are just in it for the music and nothing more.

Moreover, for one of the songs, the audience is asked to turn their flashlights on to set the mood. This instead lights up the entire room because the venue is so small. A man in the crowd carries around a 90’s style VHS recorder that I would love to see the footage of.

Sales play most of the songs I was looking forward to seeing including “Getting it on”, “Renee”, and “Pope is a Rockstar”. Morgan has a hauntingly beautiful voice as she often does this raspy whisper into the microphone. The guitar parts ring out in poignant sublimity. However, many of their songs sounds the same and leave me rather bored. Their final song was the first time I felt they showcased originality and this is mostly due to prolonged improvisation. Still, theirs and No Vacation’s sets made for a good night of music and dancing.

Dancing the Night Away with Passion Pit

Every so often I need a night of dancing, pressed against 1000 sweaty bodies, screaming lyrics into the air. You can imagine my excitement when I heard Passion Pit was playing at The Depot. I was in for a such a night and a memorable one at that.

Opening band Courtship did little to entice me. As soon as they took the stage I leaned over to a friend and whispered, “I’m probably not going to like this band.” I know I shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but it was just so tempting. Hailing from Hollywood, they were the embodiment of LA hipsters. 4 good-looking boys played unoriginal indie-pop, dressed in designer clothes made to look like they came from a thrift store.

The music was pompously poppy and portrayed the sense that everything is happy and magical. Songs seemed to lack depth and complexity. The crowd went crazy as they covered “Hey Ya” by Outkast. The guitarist, who was essentially a glorified hype man, told a story about seeing Passion Pit years ago and how it was a dream come true to open for them just one year after forming a band. Dreams aside, I couldn’t wait for them to finish their set and Passion Pit to take the stage.

When Passion Pit front man Michael Angelakos stepped into the light I knew we were in for a show. He has a tremendous amount of swag in his shirt and tie, casually undone and untucked. He is confident and relaxed with the crowd that is looking to unwind themselves. Eager anticipation sweeps over the audience as they wait for the music to begin. Passion Pit jumps into “I’ll Be Alright” and the crowd erupts. They know every word and boogie with the music.

Passion Pit is currently touring following the 2017 release of their fourth studio album Tremendous Sea of Love. Formed in 2007, the indietronica band from Cambridge, Massachusetts has known moderate success. Manners (2009) and Gossamer (2012) performed well both critically and commercially. While their most recent albums have been less well received, Passion Pit continues to make their mark in the electropop world.

The crowd helped carry the concert and made it special. Due to Angelakos’ singing style, the vocals are fairly quiet. The voices of 1000 others singing along amplify the music and fill the room. Their love and help is appreciated and expressed by Angelakos. He jokes that his voice was never that strong, but the always energetic crowds of Salt Lake do the work for him. Passion Pit played the hits for around 70 minutes, including, “Sleepyhead”, “Carried Away”, and “Lifted Up (1985)”. After a brief exit and chanting from the crowd, Passion Pit returned to the stage to play “Talk a Walk”, the cherry on top of the sundae.

Passion Pit put on a marvelous concert. Michael Angelakos was entertaining and got the crowd involved. The dance-heavy show didn’t drag on and tire out the fans. The sound quality at The Depot is always top-notch. At the end of the day there is nothing better than live music, especially when it’s as good as Passion Pit.

Octopus Project at Urban Lounge

Monday Night. In Utah, typically reserved for families, board games, and green Jell-O. For some they are better occupied listening to live music at Urban Lounge, Salt Lake City. Of course, I’ll choose the latter. Not too many people left their nieces and nephews on Jan 22 when The Octopus Project came to town. When I first walked in there were only about 10 other people, exactly the way I like it.

Intimate shows are the way to go. Small venues with the stage right in front of your face. No metal barriers dividing musicians and the audience.  This is how music should be played/watched. There are too many ultra-artists playing in those mega-domes and super-stadiums. And some guy payed $200 for him and his daughter to sit in section 317 row J. Anyway, enough with my rant. Back to the important stuff.

The first band was SLC natives Indigo Plateau. With two guitars, bass, drums, and vocals they have a pretty classic dream-pop/alt-rock sound. And they sound pretty good. Both guitarists use a variety of effects during song interludes creating a nice atmosphere. Their music doesn’t blow me away with originality but an altogether strong sound. They were a good opener, playing for about 30 minutes.

The second act was New Fumes from Dallas, TX. A single musician graced the stage. A guitar hung around their neck and was surrounded by a variety of electronic gismos and gadgets creating the rest of the music. The music was wildly experimental. The vocals were incomprehensible and drowned out by the sheer noise. You’d often loose sense of tempo and rhythm. It was on the verge of being something truly original and cool but wasn’t quite there.

Headlining the show was Octopus Project. I first heard about them through a friend just a few weeks prior. I looked them up on Spotify and really liked what I heard. They are an experimental neo-psychedelic band from Austin, TX with a noteworthy sound. On stage, they are incredibly talented. The four musicians move around from instrument to instrument, each playing multiple throughout their hour-long set. Three of them provide lead vocals on at least one song, but much of their music is instrumental. They seem to have a strong connection as a band and play off each other immaculately.

Octopus Project put it all into their performance. Band-member Josh Lambert opened the show saying, “I know it’s cold and it’s a Monday but let’s have a fucking awesome time together.”  And that we did. The crowd had grown considerably but was still sporadic. Nevertheless, people danced, whooped, and hollered. Yvonne Lambert played an electronic instrument called a Theremin, which is played without physical contact. All-in-all it was a delightful show with excellent music.

Music is often inspiring and can teach us important life lessons. But sometimes it doesn’t have a deeper meaning. Sometimes it’s just meant to be enjoyed. Seeing Octopus Project was a chance to simply enjoy some live music.

Holiday Musical Adventures

During the holidays, I found myself in a very strange place, Portland, Oregon. As a music junkie, of course I was gonna check out the local music scene. There is no better way to get to know a place than to listen to its music and I had to make the most of my mere two nights in the city. The first night I wandered downtown into the Ash Street Saloon.

Ash Street Saloon is a landmark in Portland. Located just around the corner from the famous Voodoo Doughnuts, the dirty rock bar features nightly live music. Locals go here to grab some pub food, a microbrew, and to listen to Portland’s common people become rockstars. December 27th, 2017 was dubbed the Farewell to Indie Rock because unfortunately, Ash Street Saloon will close in 2018.

According to the Portland Mercury, “commercial real estate agents have already begun showing the property to potential new tenants.” The owner has no plans to open a second or similar venue, “which means it’s time to celebrate Ash Street for what it has always been since it first opened its doors on Halloween 1994: a readily accessible venue for live music, specializing in local, loud, and low-cover shows, often spotlighting bands before they break through on the scene.”

I felt like an outsider as bands that had been playing here for years graced the stage one last time. That night featured sets from King Ghidora, J. Graves, Another Neighbor Disappeared, The Hoons, The Bible Belts, Pink Tornado, and Aux.78. There was nothing too special about the venue, but the poorly lit room with overbearing music didn’t try to be anything it wasn’t. It simply was what it was.

Night Two started with a red headed flannel wearing Lyft driver picking me up in a blue Prius, but when in Rome right? We ventured to what is acknowledged as one of the top music venues in Portland, Mississippi Studios. Inside the intimate room attached to Bar Bar, it’s all about the music. Built, owned, run, and for musicians, they provide a comfortable setting for local musicians to showcase a variety of new and innovative music.

The room was absolutely beautiful. The floors are semi-carpeted with rugs. The red painted walls suspend wooden guitars surrounded by angel wings. Purple lights shine down on decorative drums that line the balcony.

The first band was Volcanic Pinnacles. They are only a drummer and a sax player, yet produce sound that is so complex and intriguing besides using such little instrumentation. The perpetual pounding of the drums keep rhythm, while the smooth sax plays with effects pedals looping, distorting, and morphing the sound. Their music is some kind of post jazz psych rock and is fantastic. They stole the show at the beginning of the night.

Long Hallways was the second instrumentalist band of the night. The 5 musicians formed a mini-orchestra with drums, trumpet, synthesizers, a bass, guitar, xylophone, flute, cello, and a euphonium. They play post indie rock and display a comfortable familiarity on stage. Therefore, between songs you can hear them talking with each other. The bass player casually raised a finger to the crowd to indicate “last song”.

The final band was Mercury Tree. A simple 3-piece band that played indie rock with a twist. They had modified a guitar and bass dividing the octave into seventeen notes, five more than the standard twelve used in Western music. The lead singer’s microphone was programmed with heavy effects. Tempo variation within songs and strange titles such as “Hedgehogs are the Emperors of Space” and “Jazz Hands of Doom” added to their uniqueness.

However, as the rollercoaster of a year that was 2017 came to an end, these nights exploring the Portland music scene were exactly what I needed. It helped me unwind after the stresses of the year and reminded me of a few things. Primarily, that the world is constantly changing. Local hideouts are getting shut down and replaced with big businesses. Music is evolving and growing as technology improves. Change can be frightening but can lead to positive transformation. May 2018 bring innovation, personal expression, and new music to help get us through.

Arcade Fire live from Las Vegas

 

Arcade Fire sets the stage big when they perform live. When I saw them in Las Vegas, they had a square stage designed like a boxing ring. The 9 musicians on stage play somewhere between 20 and 30 instruments.  Just 3 weeks after the worst mass-shooting in US history, the Canadian indie-rock band fearlessly took the stage at Mandalay Bay. Lead singer Win Butler offered his condolences to the victims of the horrible attack followed by “f*ck being afraid”.

Arcade Fire neither lacks style nor confidence. In a recent interview with the Chicago Tribune, Butler said, “I feel like we’re one of the best rock bands on Earth now.” The lead singer has also been quoted saying they are one of the best performing bands of all time. Before you dismiss them as crazy, go to one of their shows and then decide.

The squareness of stage meant no front. Arcade Fire was constantly moving around rotating from side to side. They had enough members so that all sides of the stage were always filled. The beauty of this design was it allowed more people to get close to the stage. The constant rotation gave the concertgoers a chance to meet each individual musician, instead of staring at one the entire night.

Opening act Angel Olsen, didn’t have the band members or preparation to fill the stage in the same way. They stuck to one side, and unfortunately my friends and I were on the wrong side. Frustration arose as we could just see their backs. They sounded hollow, as if they weren’t able to fill the entirety of the arena. Had I seen the indie-folk artist in a cozier venue and actually been able to see them, I might have enjoyed the show.

The stage wasn’t the only boxing themed part of Arcade Fire’s performance. As they were entering, an announcer on the overhead speaker stated each musician’s “boxing” record. They walked through the crowd with their pump-up music blaring (“Everything_Now (continued)”), then climbed through the ropes and started into “Everything Now”.

The next hour and a half were awesome. It is pretty obvious when bands love performing. Their passion radiates through the crowd who in turn loves watching them perform. Smiles were visible on the faces of band members Richard Reed Perry and Regine Chassagne. Will Butler is one of the most animated performers I have ever seen. Whether he is banging on a drum or jamming on synth, just watching him will bring you pure joy.

Arcade Fire’s sound doesn’t miss a beat transitioning from recordings to live shows. Balancing that many different musicians and instruments can be difficult but they do it with ease. The music is extremely powerful yet so fine-tuned you can still hear each individual instrument.

The disco balls and strobe lights are programmed beautifully so that the lights portray what the music is playing. There are moments of complete darkness and others when fog is so thick they disappear from view. Light and dark are themes that Arcade Fire loves exploring in their music and they bring that into their live shows.

Their setlist was spread-out across their 5 albums playing at least 3 songs from each. They finish with fan favorite “Wake Up”, and leave the stage with the crowd still singing the chorus. Many concertgoers continued singing as they flooded into the casino. I don’t have the expertise to say if Arcade Fire is one of the greatest performing bands of all time, but it was one of my favorite shows I’ve ever been to.

Skalloween!

When the air begins to take on a colder tone, the leaves change, fall off, and all you’re left with is tree skeletons. It must be Fall. Fall has most often been a time of falling apart for me. It seems like my repressed stress builds up during the summer and hits me twice as rough come September. Perhaps that is why I choose to go so hard every Halloween.

This season is a very important time in my culture. It’s a time to celebrate those that have passed. It’s a time to ask for forgiveness and help from ancestors on our journey through the present.  It’s a time of release. Skalloween always helps me to relax.

Sometimes, my past comes face to face with me in the present. I just dance it off and try to stay in the moment. There is something about skanking in a big circle with like-minded individuals that brings me closer to earth.

Skanking is the style of dance for Ska music. Ska music is most often described as a combination of Reggae and Rock, I find it also has influences taken from Mariachi music. Personally, I think good Ska is severely overshadowed by a massive amount of really detestable Ska. Luckily, we have some of the best Ska available in the world right here in Salt Lake City. Every year we appreciate these dedicated bands by attending Skalloween.

The show was at Kilby Court this year, my favorite venue with its intimate setting. The first band The Schemeing Thieves came onto the stage dressed as Mr.Meeseeks from the television series Rick & Morty. Their juxtaposition between somber sections to more upbeat sections in their songs definitely made this band stand out. They were very passionate, as the opening act they did not fail to get the crowd skanking.

Following their set was a band I had never had the pleasure to see before, The Gringos. These guys are hardcore. They’re very seasoned musicians doing what they love.  The amount of energy they had kept everyone in the space and all attention was on The Gringos.

Talk to me about a fire in the eyes and let’s take it to the max. The Anchorage, who played next, has that kind of Maximum Fire in their eyes. The whole band was dressed as David S. Pumpkins. It’s its own thing. Each member of this band is very talented in their own right and the combinations they make are unlike anything I’ve ever heard before. There is a very powerful message behind their lyrics. The trumpet is so crisp and every note is played without falter. The trombone floated through like a raft on the bars. The keyboard adds necessary texture to the music. The guitar and bass hold it together and make it rock. All conducted by the drums which set the perfect pace and rhythm for the band.

The final act was Show Me Island. The Mario Kart theme played and they entered through the back dressed as the characters circling around unleashing a prize box full of candy and bananas. Show Me Island put on a top-notch show. The band has such amazing stage presence and passion. They kept the audience engaged for the entire runtime. The drums have such a nice sharp sound, perfect bass lines, stunning guitar, the lead singer has breathtaking vocals, and the horn section adds beautiful melody. If I could describe this band in three words they would be: see, hear and feel.

I supremely enjoyed this show. It charged me up and I’m very glad that I got to enjoy it. I hope that Skalloween will continue to bring joy to our city for years to come. Though the bands change every year the energy never dies.

 

Click Through this Gallery to see Photos from Skalloween!

  • Kilby Court

    Street Art at Kilby Court

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    Street art at Kilby Court

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    K-Ute Sticker on a bench at Kilby Court

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    Statue at Kilby Court

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    March Sign at Kilby Court

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    Costume At Skaloween

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    Costume at Skaloween

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    Scheming Thieves at Skaloween

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    Scheming Thieves at Skaloween

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    Scheming Thieves at Skaloween

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    Scheming Thieves at Skaloween

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    The Gringos at Skalloween

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    The Gringos at Skalloween

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    The Gringos at Skalloween

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    The Gringos at Skalloween

  • The Anchorage

    The Anchorage during Skalloween

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    The Anchorage during Skalloween

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    The Anchorage during Skalloween

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    The Anchorage during Skalloween

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    The Anchorage during Skalloween

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    The Anchorage during Skalloween

  • The Anchorage

    The Anchorage during Skalloween

  • The Anchorage

    The Anchorage during Skalloween

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    The Anchorage during Skalloween

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    The Anchorage during Skalloween

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    The Anchorage during Skalloween

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    The Anchorage during Skalloween

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    The Anchorage during Skalloween

  • Show Me Island

    Show Me Island at Skaloween

  • Show Me Island

    Show Me Island During Skaloween

  • Show Me Island

    Show Me Island At Skaloween

  • Show Me Island

    Show Me Island At Skaloween

  • Show Me Island

    Show Me Island At Skaloween

LINKS:

*The Anchorage- Spotify

*Show Me Island- Spotify

*David S. Pumpkins

*Mr. Meseeks