Los Angeles locals USELESS KEYS are about to head out for a quick trip up the left coast. While the band is still working out details for a headline hometown show, here is where you can catch KROQ Locals Only regulars:
June 24th Soda Bar – San Diego, CA
June 25th Cellar Door – Visalia, CA
June 26th Fulton 55 – Fresno, CA
June 27th Kimo’s – San Francisco, CA
June 29th Doug Fir Lounge – Portland, OR
June 30th Crocodile Café – Seattle, WA
The band will also be performing with Butthole Surfers, Helmet and The Melvins at the 2011 Sunset Junction Music Festival in Silver Lake, CA on August 27th, 2011.
Check out the bands Facebook page for up to the minute details on the trek. Likewise, check out our various reviews of the band here, here and here. Oh and there is one more here.
Words/Photos by Reverend Justito/concertconfessions.com
I don’t make it out to Silver Lake very often. After all, it’s hard to look sweet and innocent in front of a judge when the charge is forced sodomy with a tall boy of PBR against an East Hollywood hipster. Fact is I only made it to 1717 Silver Lake Blvd once when it was called Spaceland; and the only reason why I went was to check out metal-friendly Dax Riggs. So what brought me out to “The Satellite” on a snow free Thursday night in Silver Lake? That would be Los Angeles locals USELESS KEYS who were looking to drop some new jams for anyone willing to listen.
The four piece band lead by Michael Bauer and Michael Regilio hit the stage about 10 minutes after 9 pm. As Bauer and Regilio began strumming the quirky opening notes to “Sea Bells” fans began running from the bar into main room. I knew the band had a new drummer (Jerry Roe for those keeping score at home); but by the time that the songs full out rock assault chorus had finished round one it was clear the man behind the kit is just what USELESS KEYS need to take it them to the next level.
Two brand new songs followed the mood setting “Sea Bells” opener. Assuming the titles on the set list I stole from Regilio post show are correct, the first new song goes by the name “Step by Step.” One word sums up my opinion on this song – LOUD! Holy smokes, I am not sure if it was the sound engineer at The Satellite or just how it was intended but with a decent of ear plugs in place my ears are still bleeding from this all-out sonic attack.
“Super Fast” followed and as I stood and watched I couldn’t help but feel as if I was experiencing Nirvana through a Big Muff pedal after shooting up Lance Armstrong in a dark French alley. I am pretty sure this is the shortest song in the USELESS KEYS catalogue. The under two minute jam is quick burst of pure-punk-pop magic that would make fans of the first wave of Alternative rock proud. Out of the three new songs played on this evening, “Super Fast” was hands down my favorite.
With only a seven song set (the group was the first of four bands to perform) the big guns were saved for last. With the recent additions of Roe and bassist Davin Givhan “Arizona State Highway” has truly gone to the next level. Add in some trippy lights and a smoke machine working twice as hard as it should, and the result is a massive moment worthy of your local sports arena.
I felt the highlight of the brief set was “Radiation Blues.” Over the past year, this has become my personal favorite USELESS KEYS number. Bauer’s vulnerable vocals are a perfect match for the melodic backdrop and will no doubt cause your neck hair to rise. Feeling the room the entire set, this was the moment where the band convinced most of the crowd to be into the music instead of being into one’s self.
After a quick thank you and mention of CD’s available in the back the 1717 Silver Lake Blvd vets closed the night with “White Noise.” It’s the jam to end all jams; it’s sexy, mysterious and will rock your fucking socks off. This is the reason I fell in love with the band 18 months ago at The Roxy. Mark my words, when it comes to USELESS KEYS, it’s not a matter of if as much as it’s a matter of when and this past Thursday night in Silver Lake is simply the next step in world domination.
Words/Photos/Videos by Reverend Justito/Concertconfessions.com
My good pal hit me up a few weeks ago asking if I wanted to see Dax Riggs with her. I will admit this off the bat: I had no idea who Dax Riggs was. Turns out the dude was in an epic but short lived New Orleans sludge metal band called Acid Bath. Of course, I had never heard Acid Bath, but with no plans on that particular Friday night I decided it was time for the headbanging hippie to pay the dickhead nation known as Silver Lake a visit. After all, if I was going to enter Spaceland for the very first time, it may as well be with some dude who used to play heavy metal, right?
A few days after I agreed to attend the show, it was announced that one of my favorite local bands USELESS KEYS would be main support. I stressed to my friends the importance of an on-time arrival, as it had been eight long months since I had seen the KROQ Locals Only favorites. The band hit the stage just past 10:30 pm and used their set to perform copious amounts of new material. Sadly, I don’t know all of the new song titles, but I can tell you that there was not a dull moment or bad song in the mix. Kamikaze is much more upbeat than anything on the band’s Is The Painting Changing EP and manages to mix a dash of surf-rock into the bands soulful shoe-gazing sound. Another new song, Sea Bells, features hard pounding waves of distortion crashing into guitarist, Michael Regilio’s, lead licks, sounding more like a theremin then a guitar.
The thing that stood out most about the KEYS’ set was new bassist Davin Givhan. On his own, he manages to equal out the duel guitar attack of Regilio and guitarist/lead singer Michael Bauer. Yet as a rhythm player, Givhan’s ability to lock in with drummer Rory Modica not only gives Regilio/Bauer a greater canvas to paint over, but truly increases the bands already larger than life sound. To say Givhan has taken USELESS KEYS to the next level is an understatement. The man is a beast and truly a perfect fit.
After a hard rocking cover of What Goes On by The Velvet Underground, the four piece closed their set with their signature song — White Noise. Haunting while hard rocking, the finale managed to take hold of just about everyone in the venue. I am going to assume that many inside the quaint club had not heard USELESS KEYS before this particular Friday night, yet are now very much aware of them. These guys truly get better each time I see them and you really owe it to yourself to check them out if they happen to make it to your town.
Something strange happened to me during the headline set by Dax Riggs. I felt more as if I was at the Peach Pit After Dark instead of a show. I ran into old band mates and then an old co-worker. I was introduced as the dude who writes kick-ass music reviews, and was implored to come see some gal’s second show at some coffee shop on the outskirts of Thai town. I got punched in the ribs by a short Mexican chick simply because I moved up 6 inches when one of her pals went to get drinks. I’m shocked I remember the “You have a Phish shirt on so you have to eat this” challenge, not to mention the plethora of free drinks that comes with a night out with friends both old and new. With that said, it was very had to focus on Dax Riggs.
Having lost the friends I showed up with, I say I was able to enjoy the first 5-6 songs from the main floor. Let Me Be Your Cigarette reminded me a lot of Urge Overkill, which was great because that band was great. I noticed the crowd (which was now packed) was enthralled with Riggs, eyes focused on him and only him. Later in the show, a big highlight was his cover of the Elvis classic Heartbreak Hotel. Sadly this, for me, was enjoyed amidst conversation. I finally found my crew of friends who I attended the show with in time for the set’s final encore. With fans getting on stage and dancing for the final song, the energy level in the club was through the roof. A rocking Friday night for all, indeed.
USELESS KEYS 01/08/10
The Viper Room – West Hollywood, CA
Words/Photos/Video by Reverend Justito
Often times in Los Angeles, music fans blow off opening acts and only show up for the main event. On the second Friday of 2010, I did the exact opposite. Last summer when I walked in on USELESS KEYS’ set closer at The Roxy, I was so impressed I promised myself I would seek them out again. Not one to break a promise, the Los Angeles-based band’s set at the Viper Room fit perfectly into my schedule on a warm winter night.
For 25 minutes, the band backed up what I had assumed after hearing that one song last summer. USELESS KEYS have created a massive sound that would make noise/fuzz/shoe gaze rock forefathers like My Bloody Valentine, Failure and Jawbox proud. Huge walls of rich, melodic distortion penetrate your senses via a three-guitar attack which has left my ears ringing a day later (keep in mind I wore earplugs). Leading the invasion of gnarling guitar goodness is lead axe-man Michael Regilio. With four others creating a dense sonic backdrop, Regilio is the type of player who can pinpoint the perfect pockets of time that need to be sent into overdrive and executes with a perfect mix of simplicity and creativity.
While Regilio leads the charge of guitars, the band naturally focuses around front man/guitarist Michael Bauer. The lengthy lefty hovers over the microphone stand as his soft haunting vocals perfectly compliment the intense wall of sound being created simultaneously. Bauer does a remarkable job of creating melodies that are dark and moody at one moment, only to be light and poppy the next. “Down Threw” is a perfect example of this, with gloomy verses reminiscent of Tripping Daisy and a his and hers chorus between Bauer and Bassist Guylaine Vivarat.
Vivarat is indeed the secret weapon. When not anchoring the ship with drummer Rory Modica, she is plucking out warm and melodic runs up the high end of her four strings. These brief journeys, much like Regilio’s, find that perfect pocket that sets USELESS KEYS apart from the countless hipster bands whose verse-chorus-verse format becomes stale by the second or third verse.
The club began to fill as the group made their magic upon the tiny stage. It didn’t matter if you were a frat boy, hipster, overweight Taco Bell addict in a Mastodon T-shirt or hard working/influential local disc jockey; USELESS KEYS gave you no choice but to be totally drawn in by their hypnotizing noisefuzzspaceshoegazepoprock songs. I know for a fact I was not the only one disappointed when the journey came to a close all too soon with the well crafted “White Noise”. I finished my beer and returned to my car, off to the next best thing on a Friday night, grateful that I was able to start 2010 with a fresh and solid performance. With a FREE month long residency at The Echo every Monday in February, and a debut E.P. on the horizon, 2010 is off to a solid start for USELESS KEYS.
With thoughts of Tyler in a Paper Dress dancing in my mind, I knew it was going to be a good night when I entered the Roxy as Club Foot by Kasabian played over the sound system. I hit the bar and filled my cargo short pockets with cans of Does Equis before grabbing myself a spot right up against the stage. As soon as I cracked open the first can the curtain went up and we were underway as Los Angeles locals Blank Faces kicked into an explosive 30 minute set.
From the fiery number The Adolescent to the softer set closing Don’t Need You Around I was intrigued by the conflicting styles of guitarist/vocalist Kemble Walters and bassist Adam D’Zurilla. Walters looks like Urge Overkill, sounds like Catherine Wheel and from what I gather is steering this hard rocking vessel. D’Zurilla (who admitted that he drank one too many Red Bulls on numerous occasions) oozes post hardcore pre screamo machismo. It should be noted that while Walters place it cool D’Zurilla is a one man circle pit. While one could read those descriptions and could imagine a train wreck. Yet much like Chicken and Waffles these two opposites come together and the end result is straight up delicious.
A prime example of these mixtures of flavor was the song Cannibal. D’Zurilla’s thunderous bass paired with the drumming of Dicki Fliszar does not just support the fuzz drunk riffs of Walters as much as it serves as a massive injection of steroids. The band also showed that they like to have fun. When not covering Tom Petty’s Out In The Cold, D’Zurilla was updating the crowd on the Dodgers score (which then lead to a lil Giants/Dodgers trash talk between the two of us). Blank Faces made thirty minutes pass far too quickly and were the perfect band to start off the night.
I’ll admit I was bummed when I realized that the Toadies/Helmet co-headline tour was not coming to Los Angeles. That sorrow quickly went away when I realized USELESS KEYS would be opening for the Texas natives. Having first seen the band at the Roxy nearly three years ago we don’t hide our love for these Los Angeles locals. On this particular Saturday night I saw a new level of confidence in the band I had not seen before. Perhaps it was the return of bassist Guylaine Vivarat but the four piece really sounded as if they had been on the road as long as the headliner.
Opening with the hypnotic Sea Bells, the group had no problem winning over crowd that grew slowly but never to capacity. With only thirty minutes to work with the set consisted of mostly newer material. Taking a page out of the Phish playbook, Sea Bells segued perfectly into Verde Mann. I was shocked when the group placed White Noise in the middle set. The usual closer for the band this was one of the many examples of confidence shown over the course of the set. Further confidence was found in the fantastic new song End of Sleep Cycle. Guitarist/Vocalist Michael Bauer lays down some intense fret work over a thunderous wall of distortion. I really need to hear this one again (and again and again and again). Brighter Places confirmed that the USELESS KEYS had no doubt won over the Toadies fan base as fans jumped up and down to the final song of the set. I never get tired of watching this band win fans over and this particular set was without a doubt one of the best I have seen this band play.
The night took a peculiar and unpleasant turn as road crews prepped the stage for the Toadies. Shortly before the main event was underway a hideous creature stinking of menthol cigarettes and prominently displaying particles of dinner in her teeth decided to crash into the front row. Making things worse she decided that I was going to be her drunken hookup. After a dreadful conversation I assumed I was saved by the Toadies taking the stage with a rocking 1-2 punch of Heel and I Come From The Water but that sadly was the not the case. I had to stomp on her toes and shove her off of me as I tried to enjoy the show. The third song Keep That Hand Away felt rather appropriate as I had to fight off this disgusting land beast and her un-wanted wandering hands.
It was not just me having issues with this behemoth and her surprisingly attractive and equally inebriated friend. The duo were so gone they had no idea that they were moving the monitors around and nearly spilling drinks into guitarists Clark Vogerler’s pedal board. Thankfully the security team at the Roxy came to our rescue and removed the vermin from the front of the stage.
Able to finally focus on the music, the Toadies played an exciting set that covered their lengthy career while giving fans a sneak peak of what the future holds. It’s no surprise that fans react best to songs from their 1994 breakout album Rubberneck. Songs like Happy Face and Away got the crowd dancing early on. While it never found its way onto Rubberneck, one of my favorites from that era is Paper Dress and I beyond excited that the band is still playing it in 2012.
With a new album titled PLAY.ROCK.MUSIC set for release on July 31st the band found time to sneak four new songs into the set. Early on the crowd was treated to the bass heavy first single Summer of the Strange. Later in the night guitarist/vocalist Todd Lewis wanted our opinion on what he described as the “slower” Beside You. In my humble opinion it was the best of the four new songs played upon the Sunset Strip on a Saturday night.
It was around the time that Lewis joked that the band had been on tour forever that I was taking note and just how tight the Toadies sounded. The harder they brought it, the more the now sweat soaked crowd returned the energy right back to the band. Backslider, Song I Hate, and a cover of the Reverend Horton Heat rocker 400 Bucks all kept the crowd moving (and not to mention drinking). The set finally closed with the group’s biggest commercial hit Possum Kingdom. While many no doubt love this one for obvious reasons, for me it’s all about watching Vogerler create that fat wall of feedback only to twist and manipulate it with his guitars Floyd Rose bridge. Standing just a few feet as he makes those amps hum is pretty flipping awesome.
After what was quite possibly the shortest encore break in history, the band blessed us with another four songs. After kicking thing off with Hell In High Water the band played what I feel is their biggest hit. Sure you may not hear it on the FM dial during 90’s weekend, but ask any Toadies fan what the band’s best song is and chances are they will tell you Tyler. To stand front row and watch as Lewis belt out the song’s creepy bridge of breaking and entering and beer pouring is something I have waited nearly sixteen years to experience again. The show eventually wrapped with a percussion heavy take on I Burn and the final new song of the evening Rattler’s Revival.
I knew I would get a great rock show but this particular evening on Sunset Blvd far exceeded my expectations. With playoff games at Staples and flying pigs at the Coliseum it was no doubt the right place to be in Los Angeles on Saturday night.
I am not one of the individuals who remember the Sunset Junction as a small community gathering of Silver Lake locals. I know Sunset Junction as a gathering of inebriated individuals from all over Southern California looking to enjoy some music and overpriced churros in the hot summer sun. It had been a few years since I participated in the all day bash, and I was very much looking forward to the 2011 edition. USELESS KEYS, The Stripminers, Vanaprasta, Helmet, Melvins and the Butthole Surfers all in one day – how could you not brave triple digit heat for those acts? For those outside of Southern California, Sunset Junction failed to obtain a permit from the city of Los Angeles (which was not the city being cruel as much as Sunset Junction really fucked a lot of things up) and was subsequently canceled. As soon as Sunset Junction ceased to have a pulse, various artists began to book shows in and around down. With some dubbing the event as Echo Park Rising(a name I am using despite only seeing one show in Echo Park), my man Jeff and I decided to see just how many shows we could hit over the course of one day.
Sunset Junction Live From Dangerbird Records
Located in Sunset Junction, Dangerbird Records is home to such acts as Silversun Pickups and Beady Eye. While I have driven past their Sunset Blvd headquarters on numerous occasions, I have never had an opportunity to stop in for a visit. They have a pretty sweet setup, as the stage overlooks what is basically a back yard with various trees (aka shade), some street art and a basketball hoop. We made it to the free show (with donations requested and gladly handed over to the wonderful non-profit known as The Pablove Foundation) comprised of some of the up and coming local artist who were originally scheduled to perform at Sunset Junction.
Perhaps it was the heat, perhaps it was the mix of styles while never truly having their own sound but I lost interest quick in Chasing Kings. Did they meow a song? I think they meowed the lyrics to a song, I don’t really remember as I ended up hanging in the shade somewhere between the trash can and those endless supply of funky supplement drinks that tasted like diet skittles.
Not knowing anything about these guys, they win the prize as the only new act to win me over all day. I am a sucker for that rock meets folk with a bit of La Honda psychedelica thrown in for good measure sound. The Fling fly the rock meets folks with a bit of La Honda psychedelica flag high and proud. Well written songs with solid licks and great melodies. With new material to release later in the year, the band debuted some new material, including the song below. I will no doubt be seeking these guys out again.
I really want to like Vanaprasta, probably because in the next 18 months everyone will like Vanaprasta. The band had elements I really liked. The energy level (especially the guy who was using the palm tree as a percussion instrument during the first song) in the group was high. Some of the musical passages intrigued my ear. I think the one thing that killed it for me was the vocals. They sounded so much like Kings of Leon that it ruined anything good they can do While the familiarity will help them in the end it made me rush back to a bench in the shade versus diving deeper into the set. Perhaps the group would be more enjoyable inside a club versus playing outside at 3pm. One positive note is that Kevin Bacon and his brother showed up for the set and seemed to enjoy it. If you know Vanaprasta (or Jeff and I) you are now one degree away from Kevin Bacon.
It usually takes something rather special for this Nor Cal West Side boy to hit the Silver Lake/Echo Park section of Los Angeles. Typically those special reasons are Record Store Day, Joseph Arthur or USELESS KEYS. Till someone proves me wrong, I will proclaim USELESS KEYS as the best local band in Los Angeles today. The group used their set not only to wrap up a brief tour of the South West, but as a chance to rock a lot of material assumed to be featured on their upcoming full length release . “Static Friend” “Kamikaze” and “Sea Bells” and songs unfamiliar to me hypnotized the crowd. The four-piece made sure to mix in the material found on their four song debut EP. “Arizona State Highway” was an appropriate call given the concrete baking from the oppressive sun overhead. There is no doubt that “White Noise” is a natural set closer, so when the band began to strum to chords I knew our time at Dangerbird Records was coming to a close. Another great set from USELESS KEYS, till next time gentlemen.
There was a debate to head back to the west side after USELESS KEYS, but that would have been about 2.5 hours in a car for three hours at home? So Jeff and I decided to head down Sunset to Amoeba Records in Hollywood to check out The Growlers. Originally scheduled to perform at the Junction on Sunday, I suppose you take a gig where you can get one right? I had literally looked up The Growlers on YouTube earlier in the day to see if it was worth the trek I enjoyed the spooky Scooby-Doo flavored surf rock thing that The Growlers had going and figured why not make the trip. We made it just as the band wrapped their first song. Standing in the Diamond Head/Ani DiFranco/Dio section of the store, I noticed myself more excited for the air conditioning instead of the music. Once my body cooled, I realized I really didn’t like the music. I take that back, the music while nothing amazing was fine. It was vocalist Brooks Nielson that ruined it for me. He felt as if he did not want to be there, proclaimed that he never comes to Amoeba because he has no money and one must assume he was not just drinking java from that coffee mug. I ended up looking at vinyl for the final 1/3rd of their set ending up with albums by Joseph Arthur and the Lonely Astronauts and TV on the Radio.
Photo by Al Bello/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images
Man can’t survive on music alone, which is why Jeff and I hit up Big Wangs in Hollywood for dinner and what we assumed would be baseball and pre-season NFL action. While we got the NFL action, we were also treated to UFC 134. Neither of us are fans of UFC, but with cold drinks and pizza tater tots it ended up being a sweet spot to not only recharge our batteries but kill a few hours. Not knowing really anything about UFC, it was a blast to watch this Anderson Silva guy just destroy Yushin Okami. Where other fights I saw featured fighters lunging upon their opponents as soon as they were down on the mat, Silva played cat and mouse with Okami. It was pretty bad ass; I think I finally see the appeal of UFC.
The final leg of our Echo Park Rising 2011 experience was a trip to the Echoplex. Here is where I admit that I have never stepped foot into this venue (of the Echo for that matter) and now I must wonder why as it’s a great place. I spent basically the entire set of 400 Blows towards the back section. Its clear 400 Blows don’t take themselves seriously as I don’t believe a band could be that bad without knowing they are bad. Instead I spent my time playing Words With Friends with fellow journalist/Concert Confessions supporter Adrian Garro. Sure, he was 15 feet away from me, but as we posted to our Facebook wall, Words With Friends is much more entertaining than 400 Blows.
On June 28th 1996 a local radio station in the Bay Area hit up my local Blockbuster Music and gave out free tickets to the Reverend Horton Heat/Toadies/Butthole Surfers gig that night at the Greek Theatre. I was not allowed to attend concerts at this time in my life, especially concerts across the Bay in Berkeley with people my parents didn’t know. So I did what any 17 year old kid would do and told my parents to fuck off and went anyways. As it turns out it was one of the better choices I made as my parents fined me $25 and then started letting me go to shows. For fifteen years I have been trying to see the band again. There was no way in hell I would allow a permit issue to keep me from rocking out with the Butthole Surfers.
The band hit the stage around 11:30pm as front man Gibby Haynes questioned the crowd to see how many had tickets for Sunset Junction. With many hands raised high, Haynes shared his disappointment with the cancellation (Butthole Surfers were set to headline the main stage) before blasting into “100 Million People Were Dead.”
With the bands core members all in their mid-50’s, the four piece rocked Echo Park hard for 90 minutes. What shocked me was the fact that most of the set was that much of the material performed was from the bands mid 80’s material. I didn’t think we would hear anything from Psychic…Powerless…Another Man’s Sac, but there they were rocking “Negro Observer” and “Gary Floyd.” Other classics like “BBQ Pope” “I Saw An Xray of a Girl Passing Gas” and “Bong Song” pleased the hardcore Butthole fans.
While I can’t claim to own the entire Butthole collection, I would say my favorite release by the San Antonio noise rockers is 1993’s “Independent Worm Saloon.” The band blessed the Echoplex with a lot of material from this release including “Goofy’s Concern” “Some Dispute Over T-Shirt Sales” and “Edgar.”
I know on their last tour, the band refused to play their one mainstream hit “Pepper” so I was not expecting to hear it on this particular evening. The band however shocked me and many more as they snuck it into a medley along with “Lady Sniff.” However that was the only material performed from the entire Electricladyland record.
All in all, the Butthole Surfers were the perfect way to end a great day of show hopping. I am grateful I got the chance to see the legends live and in person once again. As far as Echo Park Rising, I think there may very well be something here. Various shows around local venues for a weekend, it could be SXSW for downtown adjacent. I know I had a blast running around and would be down for another round next year.
Reverend Justito Presents His Top 5 Concerts of 2010
I have been attending concerts non-stop since 1996. 2010 has been a wonderful year of music. Not that I have the time to keep track of such a statistic, but I do believe that I have seen more shows in 2010 than any other year of my life. It was not easy to narrow down my top five shows from this year, and chances are this list would be different if you asked me to pick in three months. So enough of my mindless introduction; It’s time for my top five shows of 2010.
Truth be told, I made the thirty minute trip to Redondo Beach on a cold Friday night because of Jay Porks. I had forgotten all about Local H, but reading his review got me fired up about a band that I managed to catch at both Kamp Kome gigs back in the 1990’s. The night was what shows are supposed to be all about – letting go of the bullshit and having a great time. From the band allowing a fan to pick a record out of the hat to discovering my favorite new music venue in Southern California the night was just perfect. Most important it has restored my love for Local H who I hope return to the road in 2011.
If you count Fistful of Mercy, I saw Joseph Arthur five times in 2010. I am not exactly sure when Fistful of Mercy formed, but looking back at this show, I was fortunate enough to see the project in it’s early stages. From Arthur opening the night with a haunting version of Restore Me to guest appearances from members of his Lonely Astronauts band and Ben Harper it was a truly inspiring night.
I was fucking angry walking into this show. Bad traffic, poor venue planning and my Giants had just blown an important home game against the Atlanta Braves in the NLDS (as you may be aware, things worked out ok for my beloved Giants in 2010). To be honest, I was not even sure why I had agreed to go to the show as the band was over-rated in my eyes. Then the band hit the stage and changed my life. I understand how douchy of a statement that is, but it’s true. The Arcade Fire are that powerful, they suck you in and steal your soul. You can’t stop it no matter how hard you try. It’s very rare that a band can emote a certain feeling inside of me. It’s a feeling that I can’t describe; the nirvana, bliss, floating on a cloud emotion. On October 8th, 2010 the Arcade Fire took an angry Angelino and got him to that place.
When I was a freshman in High School, I found $5 on the ground out front of my school. I ran down to The Record Man and picked up a banged up copy of Angel Dust by Faith No More. It is amazing that the disc will still play today, yet it does. If I had to pick three albums to bring onto a deserted island, this would be one of them. Sadly I was not old enough to drive into San Francisco and see Faith No More on their last hurrah. I made sure I was online with ten minutes to spare to get tickets to this show. I was not going to miss my chance. As luck turned out, I got to see both Faith No More shows here in Hollywood, and it was truly a dream come true. Not a bad moment over two nights, I got to see Faith No More kick all kinds of ass on stage. Between this and the earlier mentioned Giants World Series trophy, let’s just say I can die a lil happier.
Who are we kidding, all three nights at the Greek come in 1/2/3 on this list. I will spoil every top shows list from here till the day I die right now. If I see Phish, there is a 99.8% chance they will be the top live band I see in any given year. Nothing can top Phish. Yet to give some other bands a fair shot, we have picked this as the best Phish show that I witnessed in 2010. This show just dominated and is no doubt in my top three shows of all time. Cities>The Moma Dance>Bathtub Gin>Stealing Time from the Faulty Line just can’t be beat. Unless of course you look to the second set that kicked off with a high energy cover of the Velvet Underground’s Rock and Roll, featured a beefy “Mike’s Groove” and crested with the trampoline stunt during the set closing You Enjoy Myself. I think just about everyone knows I expect some serious West Coast Phish love in 2011, here is hoping the boys don’t break my heart.
So there I was Thursday night, standing outside the Roxy Theater chatting with The Maldonado brothers when adult film legend Ron Jeremy strolled by. As scenesters sucked on cancer sticks oblivious to their surroundings, we watched as a homeless man tried to sell the King of Porn roses as he made his way up the strip to the Rainbow Room. Just another Thursday night in Hollywood, I suppose.
A few hours earlier, I had walked into The Roxy as USELESS KEYS wrapped up their opening set. I have to admit, I wish I had showed up a bit earlier to catch this four piece who (judging by one song) meet somewhere between Silversun Pickups and Brand New with a dash of Autolux 83 minutes after popping a Valium. If I know one thing from our five glorious minutes together, it’s that I need to seek them out again. After the curtain dropped on USELESS KEYS, I hit the bar for a very strong drink and smiled, knowing that I was probably the only person in the vacuous club who was in on the secret of the next act. Yet, even I was in for a surprise when the curtain rose and revealed the band I paid $13.50 to see.
Into The Presence consists of core members Luis Maldonado and Tim Alexander. Imagine my shock in discovering that both Mr. Alexander as well as bass player Jenn Oberle were MIA from the stage. Before things had even sunk in, the trio (who was later joined on stage by Ana Lenchantin on Cello) went head first into “End Game” while most of the crowd kept a firm grip on their beverages back by the bar.
Over the next 30 minutes, the band managed to win over the jaded Thursday night crowd, one audience member at the time. As Luis Maldonado (who was joined by his brother Hector on Bass, and a drummer whose name I believe is Josh ) led the recent recruits through songs from their recently released self titled record, it was clear that it was his night to shine. Songs like “The Garden” allowed the musical prodigy to race up and down his fret board hypnotizing the crowd. His powerful vocals screaming “We’ve Lost Communication” couldn’t speak louder to me on a personal level these days. I think it was during “Radio” when one young audience member/student at the Cobra Kai dojo out in the San Fernando Valley was won over by the pulsating prog meets 70’s glam rock songs. Wearing a totally tubular headband, he used the wide open dance floor to show his approval with a series of serious martial art moves that not only complimented Hector’s monster bass bombs, but resulted in a rather epic tweet from another member of the crowd.
The musical highlight of the set was when Luis (joined by just Lenchantin) strapped on an acoustic guitar and played the delicate “My Only Crime”. While anyone can shred on an electric guitar, the Spanish influence meets monster Steve Vai shredding by Luis is just part of what makes this song so intense. Lenchantin’s haunting cello complimented Luis the acoustic guitar perfectly. This was the moment in which the audience shifted, and Into The Presence had them eating out of their hands. In fact, watching Into The Presence perform to an unexpecting audience is much like watching a Shepard on the job. The sheep may be lost and spread out, but by the time the band launches into the closer “Dear Father“, the Shepard has gathered the flock and collectively brought them home. I may hold the record at this point for most L.A. ITP shows attended with four. The last two times, I have been in on the secret and been able to watch as the haunting riffs and sonic sounds win over unexpecting crowds. I just hope that in a day and age of a dying music industry, that many more are lucky enough to be exposed to Into The Presence.
I managed to catch a bit of the next band who were called Blood Cat Love. I have nothing nice to say about these unoriginal and painfully bland collective of cliches. Somehow the worst of Silver Lake indie rock managed to regurgitate just past Pioneer Chicken on Sunset Blvd and float down the gutters to the Roxy, and while fatties with Emo-mullets (long in the back, messy on top and dumb shavings into the side) rejoiced as the generic group did their thing on stage. I decided it was enough and called it a night. Good thing I did as well. Otherwise, I would never have met up with the brothers Maldonado and discovered that The Hedgehog Ron Jeremy drives a beat up compact commuter chevy. Oh how I shall miss Thursday nights in Hollyweird.