Sunday, April 20, 2008

Vanilla Sky returns to Rome

Brian Autore of Vanilla Sky performs at Alpheus in Rome

by Amy Willard
photos by Amy Willard

It's a Friday night and after getting lost for about twenty minutes, I arrived to a familiar scene, a quiet neighborhood, and a crowd of teenagers anxiously awaiting something--only I wasn't in DC, I was in Rome. [Yeah, Rome, Italy.]

So what were about a hundred kids, dawned in dark jeans, Converse, and studded belts waiting for? Well, from the outside you really wouldn't know. Standing at an unmarked building with a gate around the door wouldn't exactly explain much, but the sounds from inside was definitely an indicator that something was happening.

I was about to dip my toe into the Italian music scene at a club called Alpheus. After waiting about thirty minutes, and receiving puzzling looks from just about every face in line, I was finally let into the show.

I made my way to a small stage, situated in a room, probably about half of the size of the 9:30 Club. As I turned around to watch the door, dozens of kids began packing in at the front of the stage. It didn't take long for me to realize that this concert would take me back to shows in the US, as a swarm of boys starting pushing each other around creating an infamous mosh pit.

Luckily I was able to seek refuge between the barricade and stage. At around 22:00 [10:00 PM] the first act took the stage. I had no idea who was opening the evening, nor did the girl standing next to me, but we lent our ears.

The openers happened to be a local band called Scenario. They are a hardcore/screamo act with tons of energy. Normally I'm not into that genre, but I found my self bobbing along. Feel free to give them a listen at

About an hour after the start, it was time for the headliner, Vanilla Sky (the band, not the movie). As an anxious crowd began to cheer, the four Roman based musicians took to the stage. Dawning a white Atticus T-shirt, lead singer, Brian Autore, took to the center microphone and announced "BUONA SERA!! SIAMO VANILLA SKY!!" [GOOD EVENING! WE ARE VANILLA SKY!]

The Roman quartet opened their set with "Nightmare," the third track off of their 2007 album, Changes. The face paced, pop-punk hit quickly got the crowd moving. A little mix up in the sound interrupted the opening, but the guys brushed it off and recovered quick.

Vanilla Sky played an array of songs from their album, as well as a few covers I never saw coming. One of which included Vanessa Carlton's "Thousand Miles,"-- which I have to say, sounds pretty good in a rock scenario.

Then guitarist, Vincenzo Mario Cristi, transitioned into a cover of Blink 182's "Small Things," as bassist, Francesco Sarsano, selected a girl and two guys to come up on stage, one of which could have been mistaken for drummer, Luca Alessandrelli's, long lost brother. After a few moments of hesitation, the guests quickly took to the mics to carry out the song.

Halfway through the show, the band exited the stage, leaving fans restless in the pit. Suddenly the cheers for Brian or Vinx turned to a chant.. "VA-NIL-LA! VA-NIL-LA!" As the crowd grew louder, Autore took to the stage for a solo performance of "Broken Car," from their 2004 record, Waiting for Something.

The band continued to play a great set, alternating between songs in English and Italian. I would tell you what they said between songs... but my Italian isn't that good. The set list also included their recent single, "Se Voui Andare," which has an English version entitled, "Goodbye."

Vanilla Sky wrapped up their hometown performance with their infamous cover of Rhianna's "Umbrella." When I first heard these guys had such a cover, I had my doubts. Hearing it live, however, I would pick their version any day.

Overall, the concert was energetic and enjoyable. In all honesty, I was afraid that they were going to be a CD only band--great in a studio, terrible on stage-- but hearing them live confirmed that they in fact have talent.

I had a chance to briefly chat with Cristi aka Vinx after the show. He thanked me for coming but felt the band did awful that night. Sorry man, but I'm going to have to disagree.

Vanilla Sky is continuing to tour through Europe with their album, Changes, so be sure to catch them live if you can! Also, if you're in the United State, head over to and DEMAND them for a city near you.

The complete set list: [grazie a Vinx]
Your Words
Cut Away
Se Vuoi Andare
On & On
A Thousand Miles/Small Things
XMas Girl
Gotta Believe
Break It Out
Broken Car
The Ghost Track

for more photos, please visit