If a show is within driving distance from my home, it’s more then likely I’m going to make the trip. I usually map quest it to see how far it is, and then decide from there. So, four hours for a band I love is no problem whatsoever. Newport Kentucky is just over the river (literally) and through the woods to the Thompson House I went.
The Anti Folk Revival Tour in Drop D was hitting up Newport Kentucky and I made the journey, of course I needed to replenish the cookie supply, so Chocolate Chip Cookies with Pecans, made the trip as well. I got there after noon, to find that the Thompson House is exactly what it says it is, a house a huge house at that. Managed to see Filters merchandise girl Sarah, and give her the cookies, she took them to the bus, and I made my way to the front door to wait until doors open.
There were two local bands opening, but I’m only there to see three not two, but that’s beside the point. I again had VIP for this show, and that was going to take place afterward, as the doors opened at 6pm, with the concert area opening thirty minutes later and I made my way to the front of the stage which wasn’t hard since there wasn’t a rail, and the stage was just the right height to lean on.
Local H took the stage just after 8:15pm, they were running a little late, but with all the other gear from the two local bands to clear off the stage, they did a great job getting all their gear on stage and ready to go. I must say, this is my second time seeing Local H and I’m in love. I need to make it my mission in life to see them more often, we are from the same state, and I did have the honor of meeting Scott Lucas afterward, he’s a sweet heart. They are amazing live, seriously I know I have one of there cd’s, from several years ago, and I feel like I have seen them years ago, but can’t remember where or when. Their set list consisted of fan faves like “All right, Oh Yeah”, “Another February” , “Bound For The Floor“, “Misanthrope” and my personal favorite “High Fiving MF“, along with a few others that I’m not sure no as they don’t put down a set list, but regardless they rock every time.
Helmet was up next and I have to say the lead singer is awesome, he rocks out every night. He always seems to mention that he’s in his fifties, and that is why I love these guys, they are doing what they love and will continue to do what they love regardless of their age or whatever. Yes, it’s a sacrifice, but if you love what you do every night and getting up on stage and playing some great kick ass music, do it. Helmet, I believe had to cut their set list short one song, as the time was getting away from them, but it consisted of the songs listed below.
Welcome to the Algiers
See you Dead
The Silver Hawaiian, and
I could be wrong on a few of those, because they did play a request that someone asked them to play, overall Helmet rocks each and every time they take the stage, I’m glad I’ve had the opportunity to see them twice on this tour.
Filter was up next and they were a little late, but again that’s not their fault. The venue decides to put on the local bands, when the other bands are ready to take the stage as they should be, but that’s a bus story. Either way, Richard and crew put on a great show, they have been switching it up a bit, and singing some old, along with the new songs off of their current album “The Sun Comes out Tonight”. The only song that didn’t get played at this show, was “Soldiers of Misfortune” but that was alright. I would love for them to play “It’s my time” maybe they will at the next one. The set list is as follows, but not necessarily in that order.
(Can’t you) Trip like I do
We Hate it when you get what you wanted
What do you Say
Take a Picture
The Best Things
Hey Man Nice Shot
Welcome to the Fold
In all the times I’ve seen them, he always closes with “Welcome to the Fold”, sort of like Trent Reznor in away, always closing with “Hurt”, perhaps there is a reason for that, and one that know one knows, but it’s attributes to, too great artists, and two amazing songs, that you know will always stand the test of time and come out the favorites each show.
Filter never disappoints, I find myself standing there not singing, but just listening to the show and taking it all in, sometimes a lyric or a song will make me just reflect why I’m here or why I love their music. It’s dedication to drive the hours I drive to see the bands I love, but friendship comes with the dedication, and the feeling of belonging, I guess. People think your crazy, or nuts for driving four or six hours to see a band, but that band did the same thing, they left families, and drove four, six or even twelve hours to be there, so why not return the favor. I did have VIP for this show, and honestly if there wasn’t another person with me, I would have headed out, but I stayed and we got to hang on the bus for a bit, it was the other kids moment. He was the future really, he reminded me of myself twelve years ago, all excited and just freaking out, he was getting Richard Patrick’s autograph tattooed on his arm, had the appointment and everything, that’s what it’s really all about, the memories and that moment you realize you belong.
The Thompson House in Newport Kentucky is just over the river from Cincinnati, it’s literally a house, haunted at that. Although I didn’t see any ghost, it was a pretty cool venue, the main concert hall was down in the basement, with the upstairs having a bar and other rooms, with access to a balcony, so overall a good venue to play at. I would go back for sure if other bands came there that I wanted to see, it would be worth the four hour drive for sure.
Filter only has a few more dates left on the Anti Folk Revival Tour in Drop D, with Helmet and Local H. I’m catching them one last time in a week on my birthday, and I can’t think of any other way to spend my birthday then with a band I love, will be a great one for sure.
When a band appreciates their fans as much as Filter does, you tend to want to return that appreciation, in the form of Chocolate Chip Cookies. That’s just what I did, I baked Filter some home made chocolate chip cookies, and in the process feel like I’ve made friends for life, Richard is like my big brother who happens to sing in a band.
I’ve been a fan of Filter since the beginning, but there current album “The Sun Comes Out Tonight” is by far one of there best. I had gotten VIP for this show, but I still think I was the only one, as I didn’t see any other “vip-er’s” there. Getting to go on the bus, and chat with Richard Patrick for a bit was well worth the price paid and more. The conversation ranged from touring, as I said “you should all tour with Powerman 5000”. Richard says: “No, us, Powerman and Cold”. I would be the first to purchase tickets for that, please make that happen, to family life, arch nemesis, and stuff I didn’t hear from him, on top of that I got front row for a kick ass show.
There were five bands that played at the Mad Magician in St. Louis, but I was only there two see three. The first two bands were local bands from St. Louis, Hustler and Divine Sorrow, they both took the stage for roughly thirty minutes or more, keeping with the schedule as Filter was going on at 10:40pm so it was a rushed show, the stage was not very big and accommodating every bands gear was a challenge in itself.
Local H took the stage around 8:15 and honestly I don’t know why I haven’t seen Local H in concert, I’m just going to say it, they rocked. I really should go to one of there shows when they come back around here, as we’re both from the same state. . Even though Scott Lucas always looks like he’s in a bad mood, he’s a great guy and gladly accepted the beer that the fellow next to me bought him, they rocked the house. They got the crowd going, there was moshing, it was by far a great performance, and I will have to see them live again for sure. Local H’s set list consisted of a mix mash of several songs, there wasn’t an actual set list laid down, but from what I can gather:
Bound for the Floor
That’s what they all say
High Fiving MF
I could be wrong on a few of them, as this was my first time seeing Local H and won’t be my last for sure. Excellent performance by a great band.
Helmet was up next, and it’s been years since I seen Helmet. The last time was with Chevelle and Disturbed back in 1999 or something to that effect, they opened up for Chevelle on a couple tours, but I couldn’t tell you which ones. They put on a good performance as well, although the sound was muttled, but the heavy guitar riffs were loud and clear, there set list consisted of 14 songs.
Like I Care
After there set the lead singer was asked how old he was, he was 55.. To be playing music and touring at that age, is fucking amazing, seriously. I said “I’m ten years younger then you and we look fabulous for our age”. I mean really, that is the reason I love these bands, they are all in my age bracket and they keep on going, because it keeps them young, and they love what they do.
Filter was on deck next and around 10:50 they hit the stage, with an opening performance of “Trip like I do” with abundance and lots of colorful lights. This is the third time I’ve seen Filter and they always put on a great show, Richard gets the crowd involved, you sing, listen, and you can’t help but smile through the whole thing, as they are just that good live.
I did get a video of “Take my Picture”
There set list consisted of songs off of the current CD as well as the old favorites, and one that Richard loves to play live “Welcome to the Fold”. I was hoping they would play “It’s my time”, but I’m sort of glad they didn’t as I would have started crying for sure. They ended up playing 12 songs total, as time was about to end, but they could have played ten more and I would have made it regardless of the heat.
Trip like I do
We Hate it
What do you Say
Take a Picture
Soldiers of Misfortune
Best Things – didn’t get played
Hey Man Nice Shot
Welcome to the Fold
They ran out of time and weren’t able to play Best Things, but that was alright, they had already played there hearts out. Filter is such a sweet band, I don’t know if it’s the way Richard approaches things, but they go on stage each night and bring it, there is never a disappointing moment, yes it might be tough touring and leaving the family, but if you get to do something you love doing each night and appreciating the folks that come out to see you, what more could you ask for.
The Mad Magician in St. Louis is a little night club joint, no bigger then a house really, it was my first time there and I got to say, for not having a rail and being right next to the stage it was alright. They could have turned up the air conditioner it was hot as hell in there, I was soaked, bands were soaked and I almost didn’t make it, but overall I would go back to the Mad Magician they need to bring Powerman 5000 next.
Filter, Helmet and Local H are on the Anti Folk Revival Tour in Drop D they still have several more dates left, according to Richard it’s pure rock and roll, “no banjo crap like Mumford and Sons” seriously true words. I’m planning on seeing them again in Kentucky here in two weeks before they go back overseas to play for the troops, that’s one thing I love about him, they support the men and women, even though they may not support the wars being fought, the troops need all the support they can get and bands like Filter and others do just that.
It’s crazy to think that Helmet has been cranking out tasty heavy metal jams for over twenty years. With no new album to support, hardcore 49ers fan Page Hamilton and the gang ventured into the enemy territory known as Seattle for a few gigs with Wire. During their stop in the Emerald City, the band took time to record a quick session for local radio powerhouse KEXP. You can enjoy Helmet performing with headphones on down below.
To read past Helmet confessions from various Southern California appearances, click here and here.
I can honestly say that I’ve been waiting to see the Toadies again since Sept 2010, the 1st and only time I saw them live. So when news broke right here at Concert Confessions that they were to co-Headline tour with Helmet I was more than stoked. Helmet too? It’s impossible for one not to be pumped for something like this, and a promise that can hopefully be fulfilled in these next few paragraphs-we’ll try and find out how exactly the opening band Ume is actually pronounced. The songs I looked up on YouTube were pretty cool, so we got three solid bands lined up here tonight at Webster Hall for the 75th Edition of the Jay Porks Never Ending Concert Series. Let’s hope there are no former members of the Cro-Mags here, I don’t want to get stabbed or anything. Doors are set to open at 6PM and Ume suppose to go on at 6:45.. I think it’s Ladies Night here at Webster Hall so I wouldn’t be surprised if they push us scum rockers out by 11 or so. Anyway, let’s roll.
Got a 32oz soda at the ferry because Mayor Bloomberg can kiss my ass. It wasn’t until I got in the line outside Webster Hall, 20 minutes til doors open that my bladder decided it was annoyed by the mass intake of beverage and let me tell you folks, that was the longest 20 minutes of my life. The only Starbucks near by had an “out of order” sign on the bathroom. As I stand around they open a door and I sneak a peak at the set times for tonight: Ume: 6:45, Helmet: 7:45, Toadies: 9:15. They let us in about 6:15, I find my way upstairs so I can lean on the rail and take some sweet pictures. Notice not a lot of people up here
The Austin trio scampered on stage at 6:45 and started things off with “The Conductor”. Boy were they loud. The ferocious guitar playing of Lauren Larsen led the way, powering through each song without a break in the heavy. The room isn’t even half full, but the people here are rocking out to no extent, this writer included.
All their songs have this ‘smash you in the face’ type aggression, like an angry Dinosaur Jr-the distortion was all I’ve ever asked for in a band, the drumming was sexy as hell. After “Chase It Down” had me sold mid-set, I started to wonder why someone didn’t take the time out of their day to make this band a Wikipedia page, I got their names(first names anyway) from their Facebook page, Rachael on drums, Eric on bass. All killed it… They’re from Austin so they’d be a perfect band to open up for the Meat Puppets on a tour(wearing my Pups tee, of course).
Being an earlier show (with Helmet due on 745 and Toadies at 915), they unfortunately were only able to get into seven songs..but with they time they had they were able to deliver everything the early arrivals could have asked for. They went off a little after 7PM leaving me wanting more.
The buzz outside while taking in a cigarette was “can’t believe the Toadies are closing this show”. I’m just happy to have two cool bands co-headlining a tour, not gonna nit-pick the order here. Then I got a text from a buddy that said “I’m shocked they played before the Toadies”. I headed back in and at 7:45ish Helmet began what was to be a little over an hour of punching me in the temples with riffs. I hadn’t been deafened like that in a while, come on now the last show this guy attended was Summerland. Helmet has some great banter, they were joking on superfans who ask them to “play b-sides from like 1990”, also mentioned that this show was earlier due to some sort of “disco” happening afterwards. The aforementioned club night. As I’m laughing at this dudes funny commentary, I get a text from Pam, she’s outside. Sweet. Pam is the one who got me to see the Toadies in the first place in a Cake for Toadies ticket trade off and it was so worth it. So now we’re headed back upstairs (Helmet isn’t deafening me any less by me being in a hallway), and one of the security guards is giving Pam a hard time so I’m just turn to dude and say “She’s with me, it’s cool”, and it worked. With the likes of Maura Johnston from the Village Voice in attendance, confidence can go along way with “Wilma’s Rainbow” as a stellar background soundtrack.
We grab drinks, 10 bucks for a Jack and Diet in a dixie cup. As we’re paying for the drinks, Helmet is not letting up and Pam (who’s in the building for about 10 minutes) turns to me and says “This band is pretty rocking” or something to that extent. Hell she knows less about the band then I do, I know “Unsung”. Man do I love that song, it’s such an important song in the canon of 90’s Rock & Roll tunes.
Well, rolling near 9 o’clock the last song they played was “In the Meantime”, leaving us Unsungless. No one seemed to care but me, as between sets I ran out for a smoke and saw a bunch of Helmet tee shirted folk talking, then turn towards the door and see people just arriving with printed out tickets-I guess only here to see the Toadies.
Two totally different atmospheres in the room as I returned to my spot. The Helmet tee shirts sort of drifted towards the back of the room, and the few fellows wearing plaid shirts made their way up front. Toadies came out promptly at 9:15 and kicked things off with some “Heel” action, followed by “Backslider” and “I Come From The Water”
and that place was jumping. The last time I saw this band, I said something to the effect of “where have the Toadies been?”. Well, those questions were answered in an interview with Clark Vogeler over at AQ, and then this past Tuesday they released a new record called “Play.Rock.Music.”
I admit I have yet to grab the new album but I know they played “Summer of the Strange” off the new release, and that song is a keeper. They say the NSFW music video is pretty cool. The room was really settling in now, not many people seemed to have left after Helmet by the way everyone was fist pumping during songs like “Sweetness” and “Waterfall”. That man Clark Vogeler over there is tearing up this place-bouncing feedback off his amp Scott Lucas style really gets my juices flowing, I love that stuff. At like 10 o clock, I turn to Pam and tell her I’m gonna head to the other side to catch some pictures from different angles. “Song I Hate” was just ending, so what do you know I’m over here experimenting angles with my camera when I hear that “Possum Kingdom” riff. Okay, let’s roll film.
That version of Possum Kingdom I got at Gramercy in 2010 on video with heads bouncing in front of me needed to be trumped. And if you check below above, it has been in terms of quality.
After that they jumped into “Mister Love” and after that it’s 10:23 so Lewis says that since they’re pressed for time sort of, they’re not gonna do the run off stage for a minute thing and come back for an encore, instead just saying they had two more to play. “Rattlers Revival” kicked off the “encore” in fine fashion. Then, all of a sudden there’s four drums on stage and one of the dudes from Helmet along with the drummer from Ume are on stage to help out on this one. I turned and said “What is this Applied Science or something?”, of course making a 311 reference. Then, Lewis, messing with my fragile emotions teases the first few chords of “Unsung” and looks up into this window upstairs on the side of the stage where the lead singer of Helmet is at the window, flipping the bird to everyone on stage. So after all the jokes “I Burn” was the last song played and they headed off stage at 10:32. Not a soul left unsatisfied.
That was fun times. It’s rare to get two great bands together, let alone three with tonight’s enlightenment to Ume, which is pronounced “ooo-may” by the way. Hope they come around again. Hope all these bands come around again. And props to Webster Hall for having that Air Conditioning blasting at an obnoxious volume. Keeping a chubby kid like me from sweating, you made everyone I sat near very happy people. Anyway, I’m out of here for now. Thanks to to ones who made it this far down.
Toadies and Helmet Announces Fall 2012 West Coast Tour Dates
I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit bummed when the Toadiesand Helmet skipped the left coast on their 2012 Summer co-headline extravaganza. Thankfully the duo have added a fall west coast leg. This particular leg kicks off October 18th in Tucson and will wrap a few weeks later in Lubbock Texas.
Dates for the tour are down below. Tickets for most dates go on sale August 4th. Main support will once again come from the exciting new group Ume. To read Reverend Justito’s review of the solid new Toadies record Play.Rock.Music., click here.
Toadies/Helmet Fall 2012 Tour Dates:
Oct 18 – Tucson – Rialto Theatre
Oct 19 – Tempe – Marquee Theatre
Oct 20 – Las Vegas – Hard Rock Hotel
Oct 21 – Solana Beach – Belly Up Tavern
Oct 23 – West Hollywood – House of Blues
Oct 24 – Anaheim – House of Blues
Oct 26 – San Francisco – The Independent
Oct 27 – Orangevale – The Boardwalk
Oct 28 – Reno – Cargo
Oct 30 – Portland – Crystal Ballroom
Oct 31 – Seattle – Showbox at the Market
Nov 1 – Spokane – The A Club
Nov 2 – Garden City-Revolution Event Center
Nov 3 – Salt Lake City – The Depot
Nov 4 – Grand Junction -Mesa Theatre & Club
Nov 7 – Omaha – The Waiting Room
Nov 8 -Fayetteville-George’s Majestic Lounge
Nov 9 – Tulsa – Cain’s Ballroom
Nov 10 – Lubbock – The Office
Keep an eye on Concert Confessions this Friday to read our review of the Toadies and Helmet live in NYC.
We have been excited for this one for a while. This summer, Toadies and Helmet are hitting the road for a co-headline tour of the United States. The trek will kick off July 20th in Houston Texas and both bands will be playing full headline sets. UME will serve as the opener and the tour is set to wrap up August 14th in Denver Colorado. To check out the latest single from the Toadies Summer Of The Strange, click here. You can check out all of the dates down below.
Toadies/Helmet 2012 US Tour Dates:
07/20 – Houston, TX – House of Blues
07/21 – Pensacola, FL – Captain Fun Beach Club
07/22 – New Orleans, LA – Tipitinas
07/24 – Jacksonville, FL – Jax Rabbits
07/25 – Ft. Lauderdale, FL – Revolution
07/26 – St Petersburg, FL – State Theatre
07/27 – Orlando – House of Blues
07/28 – Atlanta, GA – Masquerade
07/29 – Charlotte, NC – Fillmore
07/31 – Silver Spring, MD – Fillmore
08/01 – Philadelphia, PA – Trocadero
08/02 – New York, NY – Webster Hall
08/03 – Boston, MA – Paradise
08/04 – Rochester, NY – Water Street Music Hall
08/05 – Lansing, MI – Michigan Rock and Brew Fest
08/05 – Pittsburgh, PA – Altar Bar
08/07 – Cleveland, OH – House of Blues
08/08 – Pontiac, MI – The Crofoot
08/09 – Chicago, IL – House of Blues
08/10 – Indianapolis, IN – The Vogue
08/11 – Sauget, IL – Pop’s
08/12 – Kansas City, MO – Beaumont
08/14 – Denver, CO – The Bluebird
Helmet Set To Headline The Inaugural Metalliance Tour
Underappreciated heavy metal heroes Helmet are set to headline the inaugural Metalalliance tour. Sharing the bill with Page Hamilton and company are the equally underappreciated Saint Vitus and Crowbar. The tour will kick off St. Patty’s Day in Dallas Texas, and will feature Helmet performing their 1992 album “Meantime” from front to back.
Tickets for the 2 ½ week run are on sale now. For those with plenty of disposable income, Artist Arena has announced a $50 VIP package that includes the following:
A general admission ticket.
* Access to a meet-and-greet with the Metalliance lineup.
* A Metalliance hot sauce bottle.
* A commemorative VIP show laminate.
* An autographed poster.One grand prize winner will be randomly selected for a dinner with the bands, an autographed “Mosh Potatoes Cookbook” and one t-shirt from each of the bands.One second-place winner will randomly be selected for a one-on-one guitar lesson with CROWBAR guitarist Kirk Windstein and an autographed “Mosh Potatoes Cookbook”.
Metalliance Tour dates:
Mar. 17 – Dallas, TX – Southside Music Hall
Mar. 18 – Austin, TX – Dirty Dog / SXSW
Mar. 19 – New Orleans, LA – One Eyed Jacks
Mar. 20 – St Petersburg, FL – State Theater
Mar. 21 – Orlando, FL – Firestone Live
Mar. 22 – Greensboro, NC – Greene Street
Mar. 23 – Springfield, VA – Jaxx
Mar. 24 – Worcester, MA – Palladium
Mar. 25 – New York, NY – Irving Plaza
Mar. 26 – Cleveland, OH – Peabody’s
Mar. 27 – Joliet, IL – Mojoe’s
Mar. 29 – Denver, CO – The Summit
Mar. 31 – Portland, OR – Roseland Theater
Apr. 01 – Seattle, WA – El Corazon
Apr. 03 – San Francisco, CA – Mezzanine
Apr. 05 – Hollywood, CA – House Of Blues
For all the latest information, please check out the official websitefor the 2011 Metalliance Tour.
Words/photos by Reverend Justito – concertconfessions.com
It took me 15+ years to see my first Helmet concert. I only had to wait 40 days for round two with the criminally underappreciated metal band. A lot has changed in 5 ½ weeks since I watched Helmet destroy Redondo Beach. I was correct in my prediction to Helmet main man Page Hamilton that the 49ers would have won at least one game in that time. However, another major sports feat has gone down and much to my delight it allowed me the opportunity to be booed by the entire Key Club. But before I brag to you about an incredible end to an amazing week, let’s talk about some music.
For a moment I feared not making it into the Sunset Strip venue. I had a spot on the guest list, yet according to the large bouncer outside the door my legal name was not on any list. After showing him my confirmation e-mail and with the promise to buy a drink or two, I was allowed into the venue (thank you). Former Trustkill artist Open Hand had already hit the stage and after making good on my promise I had no problem finding a spot up front. I was introduced to the band from a friend about two years ago who had brought over the demos of what would become the bands most recent record Honey. Within seconds of the music hitting my ears, I was hooked.
With the room 50% full, Open Hand did a fine job of winning over numerous souls consuming their first cocktail of the night. Songs like “You and Me” and “Jaded” got the we are cool, we are Hollywood and it’s too early to stand up front but we will nod our heads because we really fucking respect you treatment from the crowd. However, the highlight of the brief opening set was Open Hand sticking it to the Key Club. Told to get off stage, the bands leader Justin Isham fought for one more song. With an angry stage manager and beefy security on the side of stage ready to pounce upon Open Hand, the band reached backed and bitch slapped everyone inside the Key Club with their self-proclaimed best song “Hard Night.” An epic number that feels much like Hum meets Kyuss while being totally unique – while Open Hand may have managed to get themselves black listed from the Key Club the 200+ folks in attendance were clearly won over on the first Friday in November.
Before Intronaut hit the stage, I knew the band only in name. Someone once told me they were space metal, however I had no clue what that meant. Hell after seeing the band, I still have no clue what it means, but that sure as hell didn’t prevent me from being won over by the “post-metal” band from Los Angeles, CA. For a lack of a better term, Intonaut is a thinking man’s metal band. One part prog, one part jazz fusion with a ton of sludge, doom and death thrown in for flavor, the band has a massive sound that right off the bat made the Key Club feel small and inadequate. They are one of those bands where you wish you knew every song walking in, because watching these guys pull these unfamiliar songs off live on stage was nothing short of incredible. If you are a fan of Tool, Mastodon and Isis then Intronaut is for you.
As I have already mentioned, this was my second time seeing Helmet in 40 days. With the club near capacity, the band took the stage and opened up with the melodic yet rocking “Swallowing Everything.” From there the show was off and running as the band snuck the new song “So Long” in between Aftertaste favorites “Birth Defect” and “Exactly What You Wanted.” I felt the set progressed nicely, as songs from the just released Seeing Eye Dog mixed with Helmet classics. Yet, one look around me and it’s rather obvious a majority of fans only wants to hear the band play songs from Meantime and Betty. It’s the reason a pit of four drunken tools breaks out during “Iron Head” while the very same individuals stand around looking bored during “Welcome to Algiers.”
Where Hamilton and company basically ditched the setlist halfway through the Redondo Beach show, there was no negotiating on this the final night of the bands lengthy North American tour. It actually seemed as if the setlist was designed to fuck with the simple minded masses. Old material was played, however the band refused to play the huge hits the crowd begged for. Cries for “Unsung”, “I Know” and “Biscuits For Smut” were ignored as the band instead decided to rock tight versions of “Black Top”, Repetition” and “Tic.”
For me, the highlight wasn’t the music, as much as it was a rare moment of stage banter. Someone mentioned Hamilton’s Portland Trailblazers sweatbands and he got onto the topic of sports. During this moment he spotted me in my San Francisco Giants hat and as he pointed me out he congratulated me and my team for winning the 2010 World Series. On a high all week long from my teams first World Championship since my grandmother was seven months pregnant with my father I was of course booed by the Dodgers loving Southern California crowd. As I turned from the front of the stage and egged the volatile crowd on a huge shit eating grin crossed my face. How could it not, the Giants are baseball champions of the world.
The band closed their set with a three song encore. After shaking hands with fans up front (and informing many that there was no chance in hell “Unsung” was being played) the band kicked things off with “Crisis King”. From there, the crowd was enthused by powerful back to back action packed powerhouse jams “Wilma’s Rainbow” and “In The Meantime.” Fans got crazy one last time and for Helmet a very long tour came to an end. After the last chord was played, the band greeted fans up front with handshakes and fist bumps. Hamilton and I once again discussed 49ers football (he called the week 7 loss to Carolina the clubs most embarrassing in years) and I thanked him for two truly wonderful autumn nights in the year 2010.
Words/Photos by Reverend Justito/concertconfessions.com
Ever since I watched a ridiculous MTVnews interview with Helmet (you know, the one where they make a big deal about a metal band with short hair) I have been obsessed with seeing the band live. OK, perhaps obsessed is the wrong word, but I have been a fan now for over half my life and somehow always manage to miss the band when they swing through town. I decided it was time to change this, and on the night of Sunday Sept 26th I headed south to Redondo Beach to check out the long running metal bands concert at BriXton’s South Bay.
It took me almost an hour to get to BriXton’s, as I got stuck in the mass exodus of inland residents leaving various costal cities. I figured I had managed to miss the local support acts; however I made it just in time to catch the complete set for local rockers MX Machine. Initially, the power-trios Motorhead inspired trash metal set, bored me, however after about the second song things started to get interesting. First drummer and Packers fan Joe Ayala somehow lost a kick pedal. This forced bassist/vocalist Diego Negrete to fill time with akward yet rather hilarious stage banter. Once Ayala was up and almost running, the band continued on with the set. With the mood lite from the silly banter, the band semeed relaxed and let loose. One highlight was the bands “breakthrough single” from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre III soundtrack. The song was called “Psychcotic Killing Machine” and it got the 1/3rd capacity venue up on their feet and rocking out.
While the music was solid, it was the energy and banter of Negrete that truly made the set. From complaints about having to show up for his day job on Monday to plugs of an upcoming gig with Accept at the Key Club, Negrete even had the bartenders laughing out loud. So if you are going to that Accept show, or just happen to see that MX Machine are opening a gig you plan to attend make sure you check these guys out. They are a musically tight and will bring you more laughs than Dane Cook.
Up next was a band out of Vancouver Canada known as Bison b.c.. For three weeks, the group has criss-crossed the west coast with Helmet and Redondo Beach was the bands final night. Coming into the gig, the hype around Bison b.c. has been huge and despite not knowing a single song I was almost as excited for their set as I was for Helmet. I am glad to report that Bison b.c. not only lived up to the hype, but they blew that hype up with a fistfuls of dynamite and kicked it off the Redondo Beach Pier straight into the Pacific Ocean below.
Not owning any of the bands albums, sadly I can’t give you intimate blow by blow details of what songs they played. I can tell you that the band absolutley dominated the tiny club stage. Imagine all the things you love about bands like Mastodon and Black Flag and combine them with the ass-stomping power of The Black Dahlia Murder. That is Bison b.c. in a nutshell for you. The band is so brutal and so heavy that bassist Masa Anzai doesn’t even bother with a “G” string on his instrument. During their thirty minute set, the band not only seemed to be having a blast, but were grateful for the chance to expose their music to a new and highly appreciative audience. I was so impressed, I not only needed a lot more Bison b.c. (thus me rushing to the merch stand to pick up their lastest record), I found myself wondering how Helmet could follow such an amazing act. If you are into the heavy doom/thrash/stoner metal scene – believe the hype. Bison b.c. is the real fucking deal.
Where the first set change was quick, the change between Bison b.c. and Helmet felt like an eternity. By the time the band finally took the stage, I instantly noticed how many folks had left between Bison BC and the headline act. Anyone who did leave early is a fool, because Helmet crushed all within a three mile radius of the club. Promoting their latest release Seeing Eye Dogthe Page Hamilton led band kicked the set off with a new song from the new release called “Swallowing Everything.” The crowd surged to the front of the tiny stage and watched adoringly as the four piece band kicked off a 90 minute set that covered their entire career.
I have to say, what we heard from the new record was solid. The highlight was a heavy and moving version of “Welcome to Algiers.” The song had that classic heavy Helmet feel, but had the rich melody you would expect out bands like Jawbox or Hum. While respectful, it was clear the audience was not conecting with the band and the new (aka everything from Aftertaste on) material. Hamilton even tried to egg the crowd on by declaring how San Diego the previous evening was the highlight of the tour. While this was lost on the mosty 40+ year old crowd, Hamilton found the key to getting the crowd into set around the sixth song.
For the first time all night, a pit broke out and the crowd went nuts as the opening riffs for “Iron Head” rang through the clubs PA. Another classic “Give It” followed and the energy went from old and tired to youthful and energetic within a matter of seconds. The band followed these monster jams up with two more new songs – “In Person” and “She’s Lost.” Sadly almost all the energy in the crowd was once again lost. Of course that energy was brought back up as the band busted out their breakthrough 1992 hit “Unsung.” Clearly Hamilton noticed, and instead of having a Billy Corgan diva-esque moment he did the smart thing and called an audible.
After some hilarious stage banter, Hamilton decided to skip the title track from Seeing Eye Dog and instead informed his band mates that it was time to bust out “I Know” from the highly successful 1994 release – Betty. The place went nuts, especially as the song segued flawlessly into “Wilma’s Rainbow.” A third track from Betty called “Milquetoast” followed and it was clear Hamilton had made the right choice. The crowd was very much stuck in the early to mid 1990’s, and I am not just saying that because I was the only person not wearing jean shorts.
After toast, the band left the stage for a brief encore break. Upon their return, they dedicated the first song to a fan/friend who had recently returned from a tour of duty in the Middle East. The band then reached deep down and gave 100% for one last song. That song of course was the early 90’s classic “In The Meantime.” For the final time on this hot autumn night, the 12-14 men who made up the mosh pit ran around the main floor of BriXton South Bay beating each other silly. When all was said and done, those still left in the crowd seemed thankful for a chance to see Helmet rock their small costal community. As a single stage hand began to tear down the equipment, Hamilton met with fans. Caught in the mob, I quickly shook his hand and found myself in a painful conversation about our 0-3 San Francisco 49ers. Sure, our team may stink, but I can’t think of a better way to end my first Helmet show then Mr. Hamilton and I consuling each other over our crappy team. Here’s hoping we have a few victories under our belt when the band and I collide once again in Hollywood in November.
Swedish power metal band Sabaton released their newest album The Last Stand in 2016. Their name is a reference to a knight’s foot armor. Since the release of the new album, Sabaton has been actively on tour in support of it. They treated their US fans by announcing a tour and their return since they last came in 2017. They didn’t come alone, tho. They brought with them German thrash metal legends Kreator and Los Angeles-based thrash metal band, Exmortus. A bill stacked like this was sure to please metal fans of all ages and guaranteed to be a good time.
Exmortus started their show at 7pm sharp to an already filled venue. Plenty of fans wearing the band’s merch was seen so you know there were fans in attendance. Exmortus released their newest album Ride Forth in 2016 and have been touring almost non stop in support of it. Exmortus came out and started the show with Immortality Made Flesh from their previous album, Slave to the Sword. A shred-tastic song to kick things off. Foe Hammer was the next song of choice followed by a song from the newest album, Death to Tyrants. Exmortus has been rising to the top with their thrash metal music with their tasty and catchy riffs. They are also heavily influenced by classical music and it is shown as they played a cover of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata (Act 3). Regardless of whether you’re a fan of classical music or not, it is a musical piece to listen to. Next, they played a cover of the instrumental intro of Foreplay/Longtime from classic rock band, Boston. Another beautifully executed instrumental cover. Exmortus bid farewell to the audience and finished their show with Metal Is King. The only disappointing part was that their performance was plagued by the Wiltern’s terrible and dark lighting making it difficult to see them. Exmortus always puts up a great performance so if they ever come to your city, be sure to check them out.
Kreator were up next with lots of fans waiting and hungry for some old school thrash metal. Kreator released their newest album Gods of Violence in 2017. The lights went out and the crowd went wild as the intro track MarsMantra started and the members of Kreator came out and started the show with Phantom Antichrist. The crowd wasted no time in starting a mosh pit to one of Kreator‘s best songs. Hail to the Hordes is a song from the new album and was received really well with the fans. For the third song, Kreator played another one of their best songs, Enemy of God. Before that, singer/guitarist Miland “Mille” Petrozza made the mosh pit on the floor split in two and on his count of four, to crash together into a wall of death. The Los Angeles crowd did not disappoint with it. Satan Is Real is another song from the newest album and has quickly become one of the band’s most cherished songs and a staple song live. Kreator never slowed down their performance and kept up the energy and chaos as they performed songs like: People of the Lie, Phobia, Gods of Violence, and Hordes of Chaos. Petrozza went backstage for a bit and came back out with a flag with the band’s name on it. Fans of the band knew what was coming next as Petrozza waived the flag and announced it was time to wave the Flag of Hate. Kreator finished the show with Totalitarian Terror then left the stage. The crowd chanted their name and after a few minutes, Kreator came back out to deliver some more thrash metal. The first encore was Violent Revolution. The show came to an end as Petrozza asked the audience if they were ready to kill each other. With that, Kreator played what is perhaps their most famous song, Pleasure to Kill. The audience delivered a brutal mosh pit and gave Kreator a proper farewell.
The lights went out once again and the audience went wild once again as Sabaton came out and started the show with Ghost Division. Right away you’ll notice how the band’s mic stand are covered by old war helmets as well as rifles to show how they embrace their lyrics that deal with war, battles, and history. Ghost Division always makes for a great opening song as it is catchy and always the fans singing along. The next song performed was Uprising followed by Blood of Bannockburn. Sabaton always make sure that the fans are having a good time. The band is always seen smiling and interacting with fans in the crowd whether it’s fist-bumping, waving, or giving high-fives. Sabaton also tend to joke around on stage with one another which is always comedic to see. One of the highlights of the show was when singer Joakim Brodén announced to the audience that they will not be playing the crowd-favorite, Swedish Pagans. The crowd sounded disappointed, but then proceeded to chant the intro chant of the song. Guitarist Tommy Johansson played his guitar to the chanting of the audience to further fuel how badly the audience wanted the song. Brodén proceeded to call out Johannson by calling him a “motherfucker” and pointed out that the song was not on the setlist which was taped to the floor. Regardless, Brodén asked the audience if they wanted Swedish Pagans. The audience screamed as loud as they could. With Brodén convinced, the rest of the band chimed in and the band started playing Swedish Pagans. Brodén also announced that the next song would be another crowd-favorite, Gott Mit Uns (German for “God With Us”). He asked the audience if they wanted the English version or the Swedish version. In true European metal fan style, the fans obviously chose the Swedish version. Brodén made a joke on how suddenly the fans got to decide what songs Sabaton plays and how they play them. Sabaton would continue to teach the audience about war and battles as they played classics like: Night Witches, Sparta, PrimoVictoria, and Winged Hussars. Now that Sabaton had come to the end of the show, it always ends with Brodén calling out a child on stage. This time, a young boy named Kyle was chosen to be up on stage while Sabaton played the final song of the night, To Hell and Back. The show came to an end and the audience stood up and gave them a standing ovation as Sabaton bowed to the fans and left the stage. If any of these three bands come to your area, be sure to check out as they are an amazing experience and you will not be dissapointed.
Fountains Of Wayne, Soul Asylum and Evan Dando – 10/05/2013
Webster Hall – New York City
Words/Photos/Videos- Jay Porks
Sometimes I write these things feeling the need to put H.G. Wells in the byline because I really have a knack for taking folks through a time machine from time to time. And that happens again tonight. What goes on people? Welcome back to another Jay Porks Experience. Big night for shows in New York City that this guy would attend, as we have Local H up a Santos Party House while Fountains of Wayne and Soul Asylum split a bill at Webster Hall with Evan Dando opening up. Tough decisions had to be made (to be discussed more in detail at the bottom), and we’re on our way to Webster Hall tonight for the triple bill. Doors opening at 6PM with a 7PM showtime, my thoughts are similar to all the other times I’ve head to Webster Hall: What time does “club night” start? This venue is notorious for hosting multiple shows on their multiple floors at simultaneous times full of Djs, glow sticks, Molly and EDM. The only time I want to see glow sticks and Molly is at Phish, but that’s another story for another day. Tonight we head way back to a time where my life was simple. Early-mid 90’s. A young Porks, enjoying the sounds of Runaway Train, Come On Feel The Lemonheads, and a really cool Radiation Vibe video. Beats today’s world of leaving the job I hate heading directly into the city to see an awesome show followed by coming home to do a job I love before heading directly back to that same job I hate. So, let’s get started with that job I love, shall we?
Made my way inside Webster Hall slightly before 7PM. Grabbed the photo pass I scored and headed upstairs to the VIP section. Grabbed a table, ordered a drink, took a seat. Evan Dando walks out 7 sharp with his Telecaster and began to play his solo set. I think it was a telecaster anyway, I’m no guitar tech I just like them. When Dando was announced opening solo it was assumed (by this guy anyway) that he’s be acoustic, or have a no name band behind him. Not the case, Dando and a lyric sheet on a stand.
Played tuned down versions of a lot of fan favorites. Confetti, Into Your Arms,My Drug Buddy and All My Life drew the biggest cheers throughout the half hour. And no messiness ensued. Not like the It’s A Shame About Ray tour from two years ago. This was solid, this was beautiful. And with Dando alone on stage and me upstairs, the acoustics in the room sounded great. Even on the videos, the sound sounds a lot better before Dando went off at 7:30 and I made my way downstairs to get a tee shirt.
Why waste the VIP section? Might as well head downstairs and grab a tee shirt before the end of the night when it’s a madhouse down there. And I don’t have clothes that fit me anymore, so now at every show I have to be sure to grab a medium because my wardrobe consists of band tee shirts (not exactly a shopper). So I grabbed myself a blue Fountains Of Wayne shirt for 20 bucks because it had a boombox on it and I thought it was cool. Can’t argue with 20 bucks. Heading back upstairs and I’m met by security. “Photo pass not upstairs only VIP”. That’s some real deal fuckery right there. You have an upstairs level THAT I WAS JUST ON containing a maximum of 15 people up there, 7 of them being model type woman that I’m sure are all Evan Dando +1’s. I’m one person. There’s not even a pit here if memory recalls. I was upstairs for Toadies/Helmet/Ume with a photo pass. I was upstairs at the Melvins with a regular ticket. Webster Hall: You make it extremely hard to enjoy a concert experience.
Soul Asylum is poised for a 7:45 start time according to a sheet of paper taped on a wall. So making my way down front, I do notice about a foot or two of space between the stage and the barricade. So like the annoying guy I am, I slide through some folks and make it in there. I notice two girls are there, so I join them and try and take some of those cool shots from down low like all my cool “professional” photographer friends do, working with the light show and stuff. Not exactly Mick Rock, but I actually got some decent shots. Pirner and the boys kicked things off with an energetic “Stand Up And Be Strong”.
Was in the pit for “Misery”, so recording wasn’t an option 3rd song in. With each line, each chord of the song my appreciation becomes deeper it was cool to snap pictures while screaming the lyrics out. Not only am I having a blast but there’s a room full of people behind the barricade wondering what the hell this hack is doing sitting at the cool kids table.
Funny thing about Soul Asylum, they have all these songs about tons of different topics, some of them darker than others. Yet, these dudes look like they’re having the time of their lives. Pirner is jumping around the stage with the hair blocking his face making you swear this was 1993 all over again.
Their drummer looks like King Mabel from old school WWF. That’s not a “because he’s black” joke or a “because he’s a bigger dude” joke. That’s a “This guy looks like if the kit doesn’t sound perfect he’s gonna stare it down until it does Chuck Norris style”. It was pretty flawless. Whole band was tight. “Black Gold” and “Leave This Town” were intense. Dave Pirner states before they jump into “Can’t Even Tell”: “This song is dedicated to… Jay and Silent Bob”. Hell yeah. Of course you know by sets end we got our “Runaway Train” and “Somebody To Shove”, which were awesome to experience live but at the same time the sound downstairs in the front is low on the vocals. Several of us looking at each other pointing to our ears. After the set I reached for the set list, and some dude behind me wanted it, I could tell in his voice he needed that set list. I figured since it wasn’t handwritten or anything, then all I needed of it was a picture. I gave it to dude. He’s like “Thanks man you rock! I gotta go I’m off to another show!”
Me: Local H at Santos?
Me: Tell Scott I said Hi and tell Brian I love the shit out of him.
Life’s funny isn’t it? Between sets, I notice the girl hanging in the photo pit, so I go over to find out whose payroll she’s on. She with Brooklyn Vegan? Spin? Maybe Pitchfork, I’d so badly love to make fun of one of those people in real life. But no, she’s homegrown. Doing her own thing for a few different things (which links will be provided for shortly), Jay Porks style. I like that. So we may or may not have had a moment which mimicked the Sonic Youth ‘Dirty Boots’ music video in the photo pit. Maybe. Some of us have class and would never kiss and tell.
Fountains of Wayne hit the stage at 9:15 just as a random piece of paper taped on the wall indicated earlier. “I’ve Got A Flair”, “Dip In The Ocean” and “Joe Rey”. These dudes have power. They’re like if Weezer took LSD. Feedback flying everywhere, jammy portions at times then dance-y sections at times. This whole bill is like, the REAL Summerland. I turn to my new buddy and mention how miserable they look. She agrees. I mean, here we just had Soul Asylum up there entertaining the shit out of themselves. Chris Collingwood has this dead stare on, this being the first time I’m ever seeing this band, maybe that’s how dude is. Didn’t effect their performance or anything, I just like when people are happy. Moods heightened increasingly throughout the set.
Only thing wrong with anything that went down on stage tonight is due to low vocals down in the front area. If the reply to that inquisition is “Well you’re too close to the speakers” then that barricade needs to be moved further back so people don’t end up hating the place they attend shows. And Webster Hall, if you would have allowed me reentry to the upstairs section you’d avoid getting abused in this review, and in depth on episode five of my weekly podcast.
Anyway, in the pit snapping shots. Not sure how many songs we’re allowed in here but we’re up to song four and no one has booted us. Time to sin. I’m taking video in the photo pit. Yes folks, I did it. I violated the holy grail of the photo pass. It was “Mexican Wine”, I HAD to do it. But I kept the camera low, and tapped the top pretending to snap shots until right after that song security came and booted me from somewhere for the 2nd time tonight. Another crowd favorite, ‘Red Dragon Tattoo‘ followed by a more recent offering ‘Summer Place” put everyone in the building right where they needed to be mentally.
A few songs later, it’s “Hey Julie” time. The bass player tells us this is where participants from the crowd come up on stage to assist, playing cymbals and rattles along to the song. A bunch of hot girls hit the stage and started a freaking party. So much love for that song already, but now it’s just even more fun. Set up the rest of theevenings proceedings featuring “I-95” into “It Must Be Summer” followed by another Porks favorite: “Someone To Love”. Great place to squeeze in “Traffic and Weather” here, but unfortunately they didn’t bust it out. Sad face emoticon. “No Better Place” preceded a really heady “Sink To The Bottom”.. which was epic before they ended with some spine tingly feedback bursts. They ducked off stage before coming out for the song that is the reason America (outside of the people in this venue) knows who this band is, “Stacy’s Mom”.
I’ll say it, and believe me or not I don’t care. I’m a “Radiation Vibe” Fountains of Wayne fan. I go back to the beginning. I loved that song, visited the store they named the band after as a child. When “Stacy’s Mom” came out, to me it was just “Awesome, they have themselves another hit. This band rocks”. Being in the building for it was just so freaking cool, and then to jump right into the aforementioned “Radiation Vibe” to close down the show was the only way that show could have ended, and it did. 10:33 and we’re done here.
Walking out of Webster Hall in a great mood, what a night. Like to thank Wes Kidd and the people at Red Light Management who were involved with helping to hook me up with the photo pass. That was awesome to be on the other side of the barricade for once. Also, before the show we had a little meeting of Concert Confessions family members as I got to meet our friend SluggerA in Times Square during her first trip to New York City in for the night to see Local H. Funny how everyone I’ve met on the internet are cool as hell and most of the people I run into in real life are complete douchenozzles. Good times!
Meat Puppets Brooklyn Bowl October 12th… do I even need to mention where to find that review on the the morning of the 13th? Catch you then!
Austin rock trio Ume are hitting the road this summer. With shows featuring And You Will Know Us By The Trail of The Dead, The Vandelles and Wild Flag depending on what date you decide to hit. The band kicks things off at Spaceman Ballroom in Hamden, CT on July 10th and finishes up in DC just 17 days later. You can view all the dates below, and if you’re looking for advance tickets, look no further than this link.
Ume Summer East Coast Tour Dates:
7/10 Hamden, CT @ Spaceland Ballroom *
7/11 Baltimore, MD @ Metro Gallery *
7/12 Pittsburgh, PA @ Rex Theatre *
7/13 Columbus, OH @ Ace of Cups *
7/15 St. Louis, MO @ The Firebird *
7/16 Kansas City, MO @ Record Bar *
7/17 Minneapolis, MN @ Triple Rock
7/18 Chicago, IL @ Double Door *
7/19 Milwaukee, WI @ Cactus Club *
7/21 Detroit, MI @ Pike Room *
7/22 Cleveland, OH @ Grog Shop *
7/23 Hoboken, NJ @ Maxwell’s * – SOLD OUT
7/24 New Haven, CT @ BAR – Free
7/25 New York, NY @ Piano’s +
7/26 Philadelphia, PA @ Milkboy +
7/27 Washington DC @ The Black Cat ^
9/21 Utopia Fest in Utopia, TX w/ !!!, Blackalicious
* w/ Trail of Dead, The Red Paintings
+ w/ The Vandelles
^ w/ Wild Nothing
Words by Jakob Ross, Pictures/Videos by Scott Ross
I woke up at noon. I ate breakfast. I showered. I brushed my teeth. I was dressed. My morning routine was not necessarily in that order, but who cares? You just want to hear about all the cool bands I saw on Day 2 of Spain’s preeminent music festival.
Bands I’d seen so far: 8
Hours of sleep since festival started: 6
Now we’ve got that out of the way, let’s get this show on the road.
Kurt Vile and the Violators
At this point in his career, Kurt Vile is pretty much a festival staple. He’s been playing Sasquatch, Bonnaroo, Coachella, Lollapalooza, etc. for the past few years, so it’s natural that he’d play Primavera, especially since it’s been a month since the release of his critically adored new album “Wakin’ on a Pretty Daze.”
I first fell in love with the music of the long-haired singer/songwriter when he released “Smoke Ring For My Halo” in 2011, and although I didn’t LOVE love his brand new album, I knew that he’d play a relaxing, hazy set that was perfect for a sunny Friday afternoon.
Kurt Vile’s dreamy set would be the first one I catch at Primavera’s main stage, the Heineken Stage, and he opened up his show with the 9-minute psychedelic behemoth “Wakin’ on a Pretty Day.” He played some brand new songs like “KV Crimes,” “Was All Talk,” and “Shame Chamber.” He also played some tracks from the aforementioned “Smoke Ring For My Halo” like “Jesus Fever,” “Peeping Tomboy,” and “Ghost Town.” He ended the set with two deeper cuts “Hunchback” and “Freak Train.”
Kurt Vile’s care free attitude and singing style reminded me of a really really cool mix of Lou Reed, J Mascis, and Bob Dylan. In fact, if Kurt dyed his hair grey and put on some glasses he could easily pass for J Mascis. Although he wasn’t my favorite show and he’s not my favorite singer of all time, his set was fun to watch, and unexpectedly loud at times. I mean, when you rub violently on the strings with your own distortion pedal, the resulting sound is bound to be loud.
If you’ve never listened to or heard of Daniel Johnston, then I highly recommend you watch the documentary “The Devil and Daniel Johnston” before forming your opinion. It really gives some insight into the mind of one of independent music’s most fascinating and skilled outsiders. But, for those who don’t care to watch, here’s the tl;dr version:
Daniel Johnston is a singer/songwriter from West Virginia. He suffers from bipolar disorder which has transformed into demonic self-obsession and perhaps even schizophrenia. Throughout the 80s he recorded lo-fi cassettes and passed them around, hoping to one day become as famous as The Beatles. His cassettes received very high praise from the few journalists who bothered to listen to them, and soon enough Daniel was building quite the following in the mid-to-late 80s, despite having not much actual skill when it comes to singing or playing the guitar. What attracted people to Dan was his childlike voice, honest and sometimes very dark lyrics, and life story. He spent the 90s in and out of mental hospitals, in between hanging out with Sonic Youth and Half Japanese, as well as being famously co-signed by Kurt Cobain. He still writes music and performs to this day, and he’s known for his odd demeanor and brilliant live shows.
Daniel would be performing at the one inside venue in the entire festival, which requires a ticket to get into (the tickets each cost 2 euro). And although the extremely long line would prevent me from catching the first half of his set, I did see what I wanted to see and hear what I wanted to hear of indie rock’s most polarizing singer.
I was able to hear some of Daniel Johnston’s most well known songs, which he performed with a backing band that seemed less than half his age. With his lyrics in front of him on a music stand and complete control over his band, Daniel performed songs like “Speeding Motorcycle,” “Casper the Friendly Ghost,” “Devil Town,” and the show closing fan favorite “True Love Will Find You In The End.” One of the coolest things about his show was not only the massive audience gathered to watch him, but also the complete silence of the audience while he was singing. If there’s one thing people at the festival liked to do, it was talk, especially when there’s a musician on stage. But for Daniel Johnston, all eyes and ears were on him. There wasn’t a peep until the explosive rounds of applause that followed each song. It’s easy to see why his live shows are so highly regarded; he performs with the same childlike innocence and emotion that he’s performed with for the past 30 years. Soon enough, his set was over and Daniel walked off the stage with his lyric notebook in hand. We were thanked and we left the crowded auditorium to make our way back to the ATP Stage.
Al Cisneros has a long history in the genre of heavy metal, specifically the doom metal genre, specifically the stoner doom metal genre. In the 90s he was in a band called Sleep with guitar player Matt Pike and drummer Chris Hakius, and they helped to pioneer this specific subgenre of heavy metal with the release of “Sleep’s Holy Mountain” in 1992, and the hour long song “Dopesmoker” a few years later. Well Sleep broke up, as bands usually do. Al and Chris took the “stoner doom” out of stoner doom metal to play spiritually inspired slow songs that usually stretch past the 10-minute mark under the name Om, while Matt took the “metal” out of stoner doom metal to play loudly and quickly in the band High on Fire. Om has become a festival favorite in recent years, and just last year they turned from powerful duo (Al Cisneros on bass and vocals with current drummer Emil Amos) into a power trio, adding singer/guitarist/synthesizer player Robert Lowe to the mix. And Robert’s cathartic vocals fit perfectly with Om’s sound.
I didn’t get to see all of Om’s set, but I did get to witness Al’s powerful and repetitive bass playing that I bet was perfect for meditation. Om took their name from the Hindu concept that the sound “Ommmmmmm” represents the natural vibration of the universe, as well as the true name of God. It sounds weird and certainly is, but there’s no one out there like Om. They’re the slow-burning Tibetan monks of heavy metal music. The bass notes rise like smoke from an incense stick, and the drums groove on the ride cymbal like the rhythmic bare feet of monks on cut lotus flowers. I didn’t notice any particular universal vibration, and God didn’t come down from heaven to praise Al’s bass playing, but I imagine that seeing Om in a more intimate venue allows for the full experience. Especially when you see the entire show, which I didn’t.
Yet another legend. For those of you who have no idea who Steve Albini is: first of all stop lying. He produced Nirvana’s best album. Second of all, go listen to Big Black. Let me remind you that this music was written and performed in the late 80s.
All good? Okay. Well, after the breakup of Big Black as well as the short-lived Rapeman, Steve Albini formed Shellac, a post-hardcore/math rock group that he performed with when he wasn’t busy producing some incredible albums by the likes of Pixies, The Jesus Lizard, Slint, The Breeders, Superchunk, Helmet, PJ Harvey, Don Caballero, Jawbreaker, Man or Astro-man?, Bush, Nirvana, Dirty Three, Neurosis, Flogging Molly, Owls, Mogwai, mclusky; the list goes on. Basically, Steve has had a huge impact on post-rock, heavy metal, punk, noise rock, post-hardcore, emo, math rock, alternative rock, grunge, you name it. But his longest running musical venture has been with his musical trio Shellac, which includes Steve on vocals and guitar, Bob Weston on bass, and Todd Trainer on drums. Together they play mean spirited and very cynical post-hardcore in unorthodox tunings and time signatures.
Although Shellac haven’t released an album in 6 years (they supposedly have one on the way), they’re a festival staple as well, and the fact that they’re playing the ATP Stage makes a ton of sense considering they’ve helped curate numerous All Tomorrow’s Parties lineups in the past.
Shellac sped through a fun and at times humorous set of complex riffs and the loud screams of Steve Albini. But one of the best things about any Shellac show is Steve’s banter and little bits of comedy. At one point he decided that the most offensive hand gesture is pulling your middle finger out of your mouth, producing a popping sound, and showing it off to whoever would look. He also complimented Spain on having the most attractive population of human beings. Shellac ended their show with their usual gag of taking apart Todd Trainer’s drum set piece by piece as he attempts to solo on whatever drums remain in front of him. Another bucket list act finally crossed off the list, and who knows, maybe Steve will reunite Big Black for a full on tour and then I can cross them off my list.
The Jesus and Mary Chain
If you happen to trace noise pop and shoegaze back to their roots, you’ll likely find them at Scottish band The Jesus and Mary Chain’s debut album “Psychocandy.” The Jesus and Mary Chain were one of the first bands to combine noisy feedback with pop songs, and they’d go on to inspire a legion of musicians to turn up the volume and use as many effects as possible.
Although they’d turn down the volume considerably with the release of their second album “Darklands,” J&MC would still always be the pop band with the really loud guitars. And although not all their albums featured this loud guitar, they certainly made sure it was heard on stage. The Scots hit the stage at around 10:45 with a giant illuminated cross on the stage, and launched right into “Snakedriver” from one of their lesser known 90s releases before playing “Head On,” off their 3rd LP “Automatic.” Pixies are also known for performing an incredible cover of this song.
The Jesus and Mary Chain played for a little over an hour (although it felt longer considering the fact that they played 17 songs), filling their setlist with mostly songs from their first four albums. But the most talked about moment of the night was when they invited Bilinda Butcher of My Bloody Valentine to sing the female part of “Just Like Honey.” They played for a little longer afterward, eventually ending their setlist with “Never Understand,” another song from their excellent debut album.
The Jesus and Mary Chain certainly are not my favorite band of the 80s, or of all time, but they put on a fairly fun show and I got to hear some of my favorite songs by them.
British singer/songwriter/post-dubstep producing wunderkind is as talented as it gets. He’s got one of the best singing voices I’ve ever heard in my life, he’s very knowledgeable when it comes to electronic equipment, and he knows how to take his complicated songs and successfully turn them into live songs with a full band. Although his new album “Overgrown” hasn’t been reviewed as highly as his self titled debut was in 2011, I think that both albums are incredibly well written and well performed.
I made my way through the massive crowd (James said it was probably the biggest group of people he’d ever played for) just as he and his two bandmates started right into the track “Air & Lack Thereof.” I was unfamiliar with the song so I assumed it was on one of his earlier EPs. They then played “I Never Learnt to Share,” a track off his debut album that goes from multi-layered vocal loops and 5 part harmonies to what is as close to a bass drop as you’ll find in a James Blake song. Suddenly the entire crowd was a dance party. I did not at all expect James Blake’s show to be so full of dance worthy moments, but I couldn’t help myself. They then went into the sample-heavy track “CMYK,” and then a few songs from “Overgrown,” including “I Am Sold,” “Our Love Comes Back,” and the Brian Eno-produced “Digital Lion.” James then led his group into the confusingly off-beat “Unluck,” which went into his famous Feist cover “Limit To Your Love.”
James would later end his set with the triple threat of recent material that was “Overgrown,” “Voyeur,” and “Retrograde,” but by the time James was humming the opening to “Retrograde,” my dad had left to go catch Blur, and I’d left to go catch Swans. James Blake’s live show is one that should not be missed, whether you like Skrillex or Fiona Apple or anything in between.
I didn’t see Blur, but my dad did. He said they were alright. He didn’t stick around for the full show.
There are two types of people in this world: those who have seen Swans live, and those who haven’t. And after hearing their magnificent 2012 album “The Seer” and hearing all the amazing things people have to say about their live shows, I decided to join the minority.
Swans formed in the early 80s as a musical project that defied specific genre terms. They were part of the “No Wave” scene in New York, but they incorporated post-punk, industrial metal, and noise music into their sound, creating an ugly blend slow burning powerful anger that was only uglier and angrier when performed live. According to firsthand accounts, numerous early Swans shows resulted in bleeding ears, vomiting concertgoers, and police shutting down multiple concerts. Soon, bandleader Michael Gira added Louisiana artist Jarboe to the mix, which softened their sound significantly. Swans headed almost into alternative country and neo-folk territory, before amping up the creepiness for their mid-90s magnum opus “Soundtracks for the Blind.” They broke up after releasing that album, but reunited in 2010 (sans Jarboe) to release “My Father Will Guide Up A Rope To The Sky,” which generated widespread acclaim among critics, but it wasn’t until last year’s release of “The Seer” and reviews of Swans’ new live shows started pouring in that I truly fell in love with this band. And as soon as I saw them on this year’s Primavera lineup, I knew I’d have to see them live. I was only a little bit scared.
Although Swans were originally supposed to go on at around 8:00 PM, their set was moved to 1:30 AM. The goth looking crowd started to pile in at around that time, and the 6-piece band (including Michael Gira on vocals and guitar, a guitarist, a bassist, a drummer, a percussionist named Thor, and a lapsteel player) made their way on stage and let their instruments produce drone and feedback before heading into the loud, heavy territory of their catalogue.
For a band who’ve just come off the release of a new album less than a year ago, they did not play much material from that album. See, Swans have always been about the brand new. I imagine that most of the stuff that they’re playing on tour now is stuff that they’re thinking of putting on whatever album they put out next. They’re trying to craft long, ugly pieces of noisy slowcore and doing a very good job at it.
Out of the 7 songs they played, only two of them are actually on known albums by Swans. “Coward” is from one of their first albums “Holy Money,” and “The Seer” is the eponymous track from their most recent album. Otherwise, everything on the setlist was either a rarity or a work in progress.
Swans played loudly, let me get that out of the way. Very loudly. Like, if I saw them in an inside venue I’d want to wear earplugs. And Michael Gira only wanted it to get louder. As they slowly moved from song to song, Michael Gira directed pretty much everyone. He was the composer as well as the lyricist, lead singer, and guitar player. He even told camera men where to go. He would decide how long a note would go on for, how loud it would get, and when the next note would happen. It’s the best example of cult-like behavior that I’ve ever seen at a concert in my life. And I loved every second of it.
As the show got louder and more and more insane, I felt my jaw drop as my brain tried to comprehend everything. Explaining a Swans show is a difficult task, and there’s no way I could use words to explain what was so great about it, why I was so moved, or what exactly happened during it. I left right before they played the final song of the night “Toussant Louverture Song” so I could join my dad in the already sizable crowd that was gathered at the Primavera Stage to see The Knife.
You might not like The Knife. Whatever, it’s cool. We’re all entitled to our own opinion. But seriously though, The Knife are incredible.
After pretty much dropping off the face of the earth for a few years (they briefly came back in 2010 for a collaborative album with some similar artists), they’ve resurfaced for their first album in seven years, “Shaking the Habitual.” And with this 96-minute monster of a record (which is also the best album of the year so far) comes The Knife’s second ever tour, and for this tour they promised to do a show unlike any other live event in the history of concerts, and I can safely say that what I saw The Knife do has not yet been attempted by any other act, and probably couldn’t be pulled off by any other act either. The Knife are currently touring with at least 8 people on stage, with a good portion of them stepping up to the mic to sing. So if you have no idea what the members of The Knife (Karin Dreijer Andersson and her brother Olof Dreijer) look like, then you’re probably out of luck here.
One main criticism of The Knife’s 2006 tour in support of the album “Silent Shout” is that they didn’t really actually play the music live. Well I feel like all those critics would lose their minds with anger if they found out what The Knife were doing for this tour. The show would consist of some very well done lip syncing by members of the group that were not the actual lead singer, as well as the use of fake instruments that look like they were designed by Dr. Seuss during an acid trip. So, no, The Knife didn’t ACTUALLY perform any of the music live. And that may have angered a few in the crowd, but the majority were impressed by the insane difficulty of some of these dance moves, and one can only imagine how tough it was to choreograph.
The Knife “played” mostly songs from their new album, but did do songs such as “One Hit” and “Silent Shout” from their 3rd album “Silent Shout.” The music was a ton of fun to dance to, and the dances that the members were doing on stage were disturbing at times, and The Knife were able to pull off one of the most ambitious live shows ever attempted, without ever actually playing a real instrument or singing into a microphone.
Despite the slight backlash from a few crowd members, the reaction was almost unanimously positive, and The Knife received a standing ovation that lasted at least 5 minutes. The man who I believe was Olof took the mic and thanked us. Smiles adorned all 8 faces on the stage, and we left, feeling very satisfied with the day. Again the subway didn’t open till 5 in the morning, so we had to wait a bit. But overall, Day 2 was a success and a ton of fun for everyone.
Meshuggah Announce 2013 North American Tour With Animals As Leaders & Intronaut
Back in May we caughtMeshuggah on the first round of North American touring behind Koloss. Now the band is coming back and bringing Animals as Leaders and Intronaut (who we have also caught in the past) with them. Here is where you can see the bands in early 2013.
Meshuggah Winter 2013 North American Tour Dates:
02/11/13 Beacham Theatre – Orlando, FL
02/12/13 Center Stage – Atlanta, GA
02/13/13 The Fillmore Charlotte – Charlotte, NC
02/14/13 Theater of Living Arts – Philadelphia, PA
02/15/13 Roseland Ballroom – New York, NY
02/16/13 The Fillmore Silver Spring – Silver Spring, MD
02/17/13 House of Blues – Boston, MA
02/19/13 Sound Academy – Toronto, ON – CANADA
02/20/13 House of Blues – Cleveland, OH
02/21/13 Bogart’s – Cincinnati, OH
02/22/13 House of Blues – Chicago, IL
02/23/13 Pop’s – Sauget, IL
02/24/13 Mill City Nights – Minneapolis, MN
02/26/13 Union Hall – Edmonton, AB – CANADA
02/27/13 MacEwan Hall Ballroom – Calgary, AB – CANADA
03/01/13 Ace of Spades – Sacramento, CA
03/02/13 Wiltern Theater – Los Angeles, CA
03/03/13 House of Blues @ Mandalay Bay – Las Vegas, NV
Saltines & Peanut Butter: Life On The Road With Ume
When not taking phone calls from Perry Ferrell, Ume has spent the past few weeks tearing up the road with the Toadies and Helmet in support of their 2011 release Phantoms. Hailing from Austin Texas, this power trio has found a way to mix thrash metal riffs with 90’s shoegaze sensibilities. We recently caught up with lead guitarist/front woman Lauren Larson to talk about life on the road for the up and coming band.
You were recently hand-picked by Jane’s Addiction to open their Lollapalooza post show at the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago. I heard he personally called you and invited you down to play.
Yeah, literally two weeks ago we were sitting outside a venue in Jacksonville Florida next to the dumpsters eating saltines and peanut butter living the dream and my cell phone rang and it was Perry Ferrell and he invited us to open for them. He found our band through a website called Red Bull Soundstage which is a site that features a few hundred bands that Red Bull likes and helps promote. He went to the site and was supposed to pick a band and he picked us based off our music on there.
You mentioned eating saltines and peanut butter. Having seen (Ume’s bassist) Eric’s Tumblr page, it does appear that you do sometimes get to eat well on the road. I saw that you will also be on an episode of No Reservations coming up.
Eric and I are the real foodies. Rachel (drummer) likes the peanut butter and saltines. Sometimes you get fed by the venue and other times there is nothing but beer and crackers. But yes we are going to be on No Reservations with Anthony Bourdain and it’s going to air September 3rd. No Reservations picked a couple of bands to cover at SXSW and we were one of them. They came to our show and filmed it and we got to take Anthony to dinner which was really amazing.
As far as your tour with the Toadies and Helmet goes, what is the best place you have had the pleasure of eating?
That’s tough; we have had some good food. Eric and I and a buddy went to Momofuku which was really good Japanese cuisine in New York City. It was delicious. We always like to try to find a local place to eat after we get to town so it’s not sandwiches and fast food all the time.
You mean it’s not Taco Bell every day?
So knowing you are at a gas station, I assume you have not made it to Pop’s, where you are scheduled to perform tonight.
We’re the openers so we have the last load in. The other guys they are on a bus or an RV so they have a driver and right now it is just the three of us so we try to sleep in when we can and get there by 5pm.
I’ve never been, but we have numerous writers in the St. Louis area they speak very highly of Pop’s as a venue. Apparently, it’s the lone music club amongst a sea of strip clubs.
That’s what I have heard.
I hear it gets pretty crazy in Sauget, one of our gals got to see Sebastian Bach just from being out there in the debauchery.
I know it’s a 24 hour roadhouse in the middle of nowhere with a strip club on either side so we shall see.
You mentioned the van. I saw on your Facebook that the van is apparently cursed. Is that because it breaks down or is it one of those things where, when you get in, the radio is always on the Spanish station?
We break down constantly. We’d probably have a lot more music out and a lot more money to record if it wasn’t breaking down all the time. Our last time on the west coast it broke down five times. It finally died in a 32 lane intersection in the middle of Los Angeles.
Yeah we stopped dead on the freeway so when we got back from that last tour we took it in and had it in the shop for three weeks. We got it out and the day before the Toadies/Helmet tour we’re driving to go pick up our merch for the road and it dies on the freeway again after having spent thousands of dollars on it. We took it to another mechanic and I think we figured out the problem but we will see.
Hopefully it will be cursed no more.
Yeah we have replaced everything in it.
So you have a new van then.
Haha kind of. New with 200,000 miles.
Granted you are touring in a van, but are you able to write on the road or is that something you do back home?
It’s tough when we have all our gear in the van and there is just not a lot of room. We do write sometimes on the road. Primarily when we are at home that’s all we’ve been doing and we have enough material now for a new record and we are going to go in and record probably starting in late September.
As far as music venues and touring goes, America has some incredible venues from Madison Square Garden and Hollywood Bowl to the Gorge in Washington. Is there any one venue in particular that you have your eyes on and you have to perform at?
Oh man let me see. Just playing the Aragon Ballroom is kind of mind blowing. That’s almost a 5000 seat venue and that’s probably the biggest show we’ve ever played. What’s so funny about that is that we were opening for Franz Ferdinand and Jane’s Addiction and it’s this huge stage yet we had one of the smallest areas to put our gear. We had to set up where I was in the middle and Rachel our drummer was to the side and I probably had three feet in front of me before I was falling off the stage.
As far as just other venues I’d love to play, the El Rey Theatre I would love to play there again. We got to play there with the Meat Puppets once but to be a headliner would be nice. That’s a really cool venue.
On the heels of opening for Jane’s, are there any other heroes you would like to open for?
As far as bands that are still playing, Queens of the Stone Age would be a band we would be stoked to play with.
I noticed on your website that you are about to play a festival in Paris. Is that the first international gig for Ume?
We’ve played Canada but this will be the first time overseas.
Is it just the one show over there or are there plans to go back at a later point?
Our record is going to get released over there in a couple of months. When we played SXSW this past March, we found out that a European magazine told their writer to check out three bands. Those bands were Fiona Apple, The Cult and a little band from Texas called Ume. So he came out and ended up seeing us three times and really liked our band and offered to help us out over there in Europe. He has a label and he will be putting it out over there and that is how we got put on the Rock en Seine Festival. We will probably be going back over there for a full tour in December or January.
What has it been like going out with the Toadies and Helmet? Any memorable moments you would like to share from the current tour?
It’s been amazing. These are two of the nicest bands we have had the pleasure of working with. They have been so supportive whenever our van has broken down or we had to borrow gear they have helped us out. I got to play Page Hamilton’s guitar the other day as mine was en route to Chicago for the Lollapalooza gig. I got to use one of the Toadies amps the other night. They are great guys; we have been hanging out every night and just real gentlemen and talented musicians.
The tones and melody in your music are amazing. Is there a core piece to your pedal board that you couldn’t live without?
It’s interesting because I am just using the distortion built into my amp. I use a couple of delay pedals and I use a HOG pedal which kind of thickens the tone of the lowest octave or highest octave cause I play a lot of single notes riffs. The main thing is my guitar I use a lot of alternate tunings so it was really cool to see that Page tuned down to a drop C tuning so it was really easy to use his guitars. But yeah, probably the HOG pedal.
Before we wrap this up, I know you went to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame a few days ago. I know they have a lot of stuff, but what was the coolest thing you saw?
Oh man there was so much. Everything from Muddy Water’s guitar to John Lennon’s guitar. Ian Curtis’ hand written lyrics to Love Will Tear Us Apart. That was pretty emotional to see because you could see where he marked out certain words and changed it. That was something that was a real emotional connection to me. Some of the best lyrics just a beautiful piece.
I saw Jim Morrison’s High School Diploma, that was pretty funny.
Did you see the Phish Hot Dog?
Oh I didn’t see that, that’s funny. The Rolling Stones rider was pretty funny.
What was the best thing on their rider?
Oh they had a list of about 30 different bottles of alcohol including what each individual wants. Then written to the side is all champagne. Then there was another note Mick Likes Scotch…so yeah there was probably about 40 bottles on there.
Initial Details Announced For Dia De Los Toadies 2012
The initial details for the 2012 Dia De Los Toadies have been announced. The 5th annual music festival put on by the Toadies will take place August 31st-September 1st at the Whitewater Amphitheatre in New Braunfels Texas.
For the first time ever, Dia De Los Toadies will feature artists who don’t call Texas home. Those artists include Helmet (who will share co-headlining duties with the Toadies this summer) and Mariachi El Bronx. Other artists set to rock the festival include Riverboat Gamblers, Brutal Juice, 16 Deluxe, Soldier Thread and many more to be announced in the coming weeks.
Toadies guitarist Clark Vogeler had the following to say about Dia De Los Toadies:
“When we started this thing, we were hoping that we could do it for years and years, but we really had no idea if it would even work, or if people would come, but here we are at year 5 already! It’s grown fast and it’s already become the best weekend of every year.”
Regarding the festival location:
“Of all the places we’ve staged the Dia festival, Whitewater amphitheater in New Braunfels is by far the best setup. It’s right on the river, which means that you can go out early in the day, float the river, then walk right into the festival. There’s no better way to beat the Texas heat than to float down the river with your friends. Each year we float en masse; 40 or 50 people floating down the river in a big sunburned, slightly tipsy moving party. “
And last but, certainly not least, Clark talks about the line-up:
Regarding the Dia line up for year 5, and the decision to open the invitation to non-Texas artists: “The first 4 years, we were firm about only bringing in Texas bands. We want to showcase all the awesome music that comes from our home state, but this year we chose to go beyond Texas’ borders to bring 2 really awesome bands in. We brought in local mariachi bands the first couple of years, but we’ve been wanting to bring in Mariachi El Bronx (fresh off the Foo Fighters Tour) ever since we heard them. Know they’re going to bring the right vibe to the fest when they bust out the horns, guitars and awesome mariachi suits! Secondly, we decided to bring our soon-to-be tourmates Helmet to the festival. Helmet has always been one of the heaviest, tightest loud bands ever. when we realized that we didn’t have to stick to Texas bands, we immediately began working to bring them down.”
To check out our review of the Toadies recent stop at the Roxy in West Hollywood, click here.
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.
Last fall we caught a band called Bison b.c. open for the mighty Helmet in Redondo Beach, CA. The boys from Bison b.c. plan to spend fall 2011 on the road in North America supporting their phenomenal 2010 release Dark Ages (one of Reverend Justito’s Top 10 records of 2010). In addition to their current dates with Weedeater, Saviours and Fight Amp, the Vancouver natives plan a headline trek across their native land. Dates for the tour are below and make sure to stop by Indiemerchstore.com for all your Bison b.c. goods. A complete list of tour dates are below.
Tour w/ Weedeater, Saviours, Fight Amp
09/15 Columbus, OH Outland Live
09/16 Grand Rapids, MI The Pyramid Scheme
09/17 Chicago, IL Reggies
09/18 Marquette, MI Upfront and Co.
09/19 Minneapolis, MN Triple Rock Social Club
09/20 Rock Island, IL Rock Island Brewing Co.
09/23 Denver, CO Larimer Lounge
09/24 Salt Lake City, UT Burt’s Tiki Lounge
09/26 Seattle, WA The Highline
09/27 Vancouver, BC The Rickshaw Theatre
09/28 Portland, OR Branx
09/29 San Francisco, CA The Independent
10/01 San Diego, CA Soda Bar
10/02 Los Angeles, CA The Key Club
10/03 Tempe, AZ TBA
10/04 Albuquerque, NM The Launchpad
10/06 Austin, TX Emo’s
10/07 Houston, TX Fitzgerald’s
10/08 New Orleans, LA Siberia
10/09 Atlanta, GA The Earl
10/10 Athens, GA New Earth Music Hall
10/11 Tallahassee, FL The Engine Room
10/12 Tampa, FL The Orpheum
10/14 Savannah, GA The Jinx
Canadian Headlining Tour
10/19 Ottawa, ON Café De Kcuf
10/20 Kingston, ON The Mansion
10/21 London, ON Call The Office
10/22 Toronto, ON Bovine Sex Club w/ C’mon (final show), Burning Love, Miesha and the Spanks
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.
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.
On Easter Sunday, the line to enter the House of Blues in West Hollywood, CA stretched well beyond the Best Western down the street. Rumor has it that by the time doors finally opened, the last person in line was standing outside of Pinches Tacos. A quick trip to Google maps tells you that the line was almost ½ a mile long and that the walk alone will take you 8 minutes. The most shocking thing about the line is that it was not for the venues World Famous Sunday Gospel Brunch. As a matter of fact, the line was full of rabid music fans looking forward to an action packed night from the melodic death metal band Amon Amarth. With their most recent album Surtur Rising debuting at #34 on the American Billboard Top 200 charts, the independent band is in the middle of a sold out “Evening With” tour of the US. Taking a page from the jam band playbook, the five men that hail from Tumba, Sweden are performing two sets each night. The first set is Surtur Rising from front to back, while the second set features fan favorites from the groups’ massive back catalogue.
Long before the first notes of Surtur Rising rang through the venues PA, it was clear the mostly male crowd was hungry for blood. In the massive line, a few fans with plastic Viking helmets screamed their plans to eat the first born of random individuals across the Sunset Strip at The Comedy Store. Inside the venue fans cheered each time the pre-show upcoming Live Nation concert reel showed a PSA warning of the dangers of texting and driving. The fans were not in approval of the message behind the PSA, as much as they enjoyed the images of violent car crashes designed to scare you into a hands-free habit. With many having waited upwards of three hours for the music to start, 9:30 pm couldn’t come soon enough.
As I have mentioned here before, I am a huge fan of bands performing entire albums live. While I knew I preferred two set of Amon Amarth vs. an uninspired opening act, I was curious how other fans would react to an onslaught of new material. It was clear from the first notes of the opening track “War of the Gods” that the album would be well recieved. For an album that has only been available legally for 26 days, fans have clearly taken the time to learn all ten songs. Fans sang along in unison to the material described by vocalist Johan Hegg as songs of hate and destruction. Massive circle pits grew out of control during “Destroyer of the Universe” and ‘Live Without Regrets.” Had the Easter Bunny shown up, there is no doubt that he would have been decapitated and devoured by the audience. While many bands must beg crowds to clap along in unison, on this night the fans needed no instruction to add additional rhythm during the opening notes of “The Last Stand of Frej.” The band, the crowd and the music were all in sync and while aggressive in nature the entire night had a truly special and beautiful feel.
While the album has a run time of just under 49 minutes, it took the band about an hour to complete the first set thanks to humorous banter from Hegg. While the material is new, you wouldn’t know that from watching the band. Songs like “Slaves of Fear” and “A Beast Am I” felt as if the five men had been playing them nightly for twenty years. By the time the band got to the albums closing number “Doom Over Dead Man” it seemed as if the only individuals ready for a break was the venues overworked security. In fact, there were mini pits during set break as the crowd was treated to classics by Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath and Pantera all while continuing to cheer for the texting and driving PSA.
What’s truly scary is that the opening set was simply a warm up for Amon Amarth. As the band opened set II with “Twilight of the Thunder Gods” the only words to describe the small floor at House of Blues are pure pandemonium. For as pumped up as kids were for Surtur Rising, the older songs sent the crowd into a whole new level of madness. With each song, the level of intensity from the band and the crowd grew to unhealthy levels. As the band played classics like “With Oden On Our Side”, “Varyags of Miklagaard” and “Live For The Kill” the massive arena caliber strobe lights in the small club not only shut my camera down multiple times, but had many individuals in the balcony fearing a seizure was imminent. If a seizure was not brought on by the strobe lights, then the ferocious drums and blistering guitars could have easily done the trick.
As if two lengthy sets were not enough, the band came back for a three song encore that kicked off with “Cry of the Blackbirds.” At times, the crowd managed to drown out the band when singing along, something that brought smiles to the bands face. When Hegg regretfully informed the crowd that they were out of time it was clear that 2.5 hours of Amon Amarth was simply not enough. Even with the extended middle section of “The Pursuit of Vikings” folks screamed for one more song long after the lights went up.
Constant touring and solid albums have brought Amon Amarth to a point where they can book a show in Los Angeles on Easter Sunday and have scalpers offer fans double the listed price for just one ticket. What is most beautiful about Amom Amarth’s triumph of America is that it’s as pure as the music itself. There is no radio play; you won’t hear Amon Amarth in the latest Volvo commercial. It has grown little by little with each album, each tour stop. Friends sharing with friends the magic of the music, that is a true token of success and judging on the reaction from Southern California on Easter Sunday 2011 – Amon Amarth will have success for a very long time.
Words/Photos by Barney the Purple Dinosaur (and his ghost writer Reverend Justito)
For those who are not a member of my immediate family, allow me to give you a brief history on the family tradition that is Barney the purple dinosaur. I was in my early teens at the height of Barney-mania. As a gag gift, my parents threw a Barney Doll (marching band outfit, filled with bubble mix) into the stockings of my brother and I. My brother and I took great offense to “the purple one” in our Christmas loot, and our anger brought many laughs from the older generation. The next year on Christmas Day, my brother and I each had a very large box. We were instructed to open them last, and after getting through tons and tons of packing peanuts we each discovered that my parents had given us the same Barney once again. I made sure to grab both Barney’s and the following year we got revenge upon my parents. The following year, my brother and I got revenge upon our Aunts as they received packages with the dreaded Dinosaur.
The following year, Barney went to the next level. Actually, he went to Portland, Las Vegas and Chicago and was passed along with a hilarious photo album. Since that time, Barney dolls have gone onto such locations as Yosemite, Japan, Bosnia, London and Tom Jones house. While one of the two dolls has “gone missing” Phishing Barney came into play in 1998. Barney had returned to Portland and witnessed a Phish concert so grand that the band released it on compact disc. As part of the gift, a tiny Barney with full fishing attire was presented with the photo album. In 2009, Phishing Barney gave his family live updates from Festival 8 with Phish. Having caught the bug, below you will find what Barney did in 2010 as an assistant to Concert Confessions founder & spiritual guru Reverend Justito. Thank you for checking this article out and sharing in my families holiday tradition. I hope it brings you as much joy as it brings the seven of us on Christmas Day.
The goal was simple. Take a bunch of Barney photos with celebs here in Los Angeles. Then it occurred to me that I don’t want to be that guy. When you see Marsha Cross eating lunch with her family, the last thing the Desperate Housewife needs is me bugging her for a photo with Barney. So after a conversation with the fine folks in Whitechapel, the plan changed from Barney with celebs to Barney rocking out with some of the best live acts of 2011.
The first artist Barney met was Joseph Arthur. I apologize to Mr. Arthur that the photo came out so poorly.
In June, Barney cruised up the coast to Ventura. There he spent the day at the Vans Warped Tour. It was on this day that Whitechapel just suggested he take a photo with them on stage.
As you know, we got busted by a YouTube user in the act.
The highlight of the day was Barney meeting the lead singer of Angry Samoans – Metal Mike. A fan for 15+ years, it was a dream come true.
A few weeks later, Barney hit up the Cool Tour. While it may have had a terrible name, the package tour had some great bands. That day, Barney rocked hard with…
The Acacia Strain
Between the Buried and Me
As I Lay Dying
Barney tried real hard to get a photo pass for Phish. He was denied, but that didn’t stop him and his pal Cookie Monster from rocking out for three days at the Greek with his favorite band.
A few weeks later, Barney was handed a photo pass for another favorite act – Coheed and Cambria. Sadly at the Wiltern, the photo pit is 25 feet from the stage. So ummmmm maybe next time Claudio.
In October, Barney hit Amoeba to check out an in store with Alain Johannes. Not only did he get to watch the man perform songs from his debut album, but he got to meet him as well.
As an added bonus, Barney ran into his old friend – comedian Steve Agee.
Shortly after Halloween, Barney snuck into the Key Club where he watched Helmet close out their lengthy North American tour. Barney and Helmet main man Page Hamilton were able to discuss how disgusted they were with the 49ers after the show.
Barney’s magical tour of 2010 ended on a high note. Sold out in under an hour; Phishing Barney snuck on stage with Mike Gordon of Phish at the intimate Troubadour.
All in all, 2010 was a great year for Barney. Who knows what 2011 has in store?!?!?!
The only time I’ve seen Face to Face was at the San Francisco stop of the 1997 Vans Warped Tour. I seem to recall that during their set, lead singer Trever Keith was hit in the face with a half empty bottle of Corona . Bleeding from the head, Keith finished the set, not letting one bad apple ruin the set for everyone else in attendance. As a teen still looking to form a musical identity, it was this very moment that I realized that punk was more than my classmates dying their hair green, spiting in gutters and kicking over dumpsters. I in no way claim to be some uber-street-punk, but as a music-lover punk sure gets my blood flowing.
Playing an early afternoon set on the main stage, it was nice to re-introduce myself to the band. I couldn’t name a single song not called “Disconnected”, I couldn’t name a single member not named Trever Keith, but it doesn’t really matter. Face to Face still sounds great and with them on the main stage all summer I feel as it is in your best interest to catch at least a portion of their set.
In 2007, I went to a poorly attended radio station festival at Seaside Park. Sum 41 was one of the acts no one gave two craps about. Seeing that the band was performing a set on one of the side stages, I had assumed that three years and one broken marriage later, people still didn’t care about Sum 41. Wrong again. I worked my way towards the back of the large mob of people rocking hard as the band wrapped one of their radio hits whose name has escaped me. The next song was the hit “We’re All OK.” It was anything but. When you have 30 minutes, don’t be the band who has to stretch a below average song out 7-8 minutes with piss poor attempts to get the crowd to clap and sing along. If dude couldn’t keep the attention of Avril Lavigne (who he married about 20 miles north of the venue) on his pogo stick for more than three years, then you have no right to expect me to stick around for your sad attempt at a camp fire sing along. Shame, as I had hoped to at least tape “Pain For Pleasure.” Next please.
The Legends of Punk Stage
With many upset with Warped evolving from a punk tour into a emo/metal fest, select west coast markets feature a “Legends” stage where old school legends are allowed their 30 minutes of Warped fame.
I only checked out The Dickies because a friend wanted too. I think that’s called peer pressure, but I am glad I did. Wow, how have I missed these guys for 31 years? They are everything I love. Intelligent, yet snot-nosed brat lyrics, silly props (including blow up dolls and a penis puppet), covers of “Paranoid” by Black Sabbath and sound check jokes about molesting Warped fans at the John Lennon Educational Bus. Oh, and did I mention the bass player was wearing a polka dot bear costume?
I was surprised to recognize a few songs from the band’s set. I had always assumed “Giagantor” was a Helmet song, but you know what happens when you assume. Somehow I knew “Grape Ape” from somewhere as well. So sure, it took 31 years, but better late than never right? I think it’s time I start to acquire the bands back catalogue.
When I saw FEAR on the main stage at the 2008 Vans Warped Tour, it was depressing. There was next to no one in the crowd, and the band sounded old and tired. With nothing else going on during their time slot, I decided to at least snap a few photos of the LA punk legends, and ended up staying for the entire set. The Lee Ving fronted band blasted through a 30 minute set a classics – starting with the ever poplular sing along “I Love Living In The City.” “Gimmie Some Action” and “Trouble with Women” quickly followed as an animated Ving poked fun at the opposite sex. It is amazing what a few years has done for these guys, as they sounded 1000 times better than ’08.
“Fuck You, Let’s Rodeo” got the old school pit swirling quite nicely. It’s good to see that at least two kids in Ventura , County still have tall Mohawks. Just a few miles south of Ventura is Camarillo , CA . You just knew the band was not going to leave the song about a loony bin within the city limits off the set list. The set continued with back to back beer breaks – “Have A Beer With FEAR” and “More Beer With FEAR.”
After the set closed with a powerful 1-2 punch of the oft covered “I Don’t Care About You” and “Let’s Have A War.” The final song was a personal highlight, as I remember hearing this song as a very young child and laughing about going to war with New Jersey. Hell, looking back at things, that was probably my initial exposure to the punk rock genre.
Four reviews, dozens of bands, you know we saved the best for last. The highlight of the day, heck the highlight of my month. I picked up a copy of Back From Samoa probably around junior year of High School and it has been in steady rotation ever since. I seriously freaked when I read the Warped Ventura lineup and saw the bands name on the bill. I had no idea the band was even around at this point so you know I was not missing my chance to see them.
I have to assume the band played about 25 songs in 30 minutes. In between crazy unintelligible burst of stage banter from front man “Metal Mike” Saunders the band would fire off anywhere from 1-4 songs in a row. The first group featured “Right Side Of My Mind/Gimmie Sopor/Gas Chamber.” I had a hard time focusing, I was still in shock I was seeing my heroes play these songs inches from my face.
Metal Mike may claim the band has no hits, but I sure felt as if all my favorite Angry Samoans classics made it into the set. “Todd Killings”, “Steak Knife”, “Homosexual”, “Light’s Out” the list goes on and on. The band even found time to invite some fans upon the stage for a quick double shot of Black Flag “hits” – “Wasted/Nervous Breakdown.” While one fan was very off key,, the passion and excitement was there and hey what a moment for those guys. Despite jokes from Metal Mike about the “arena show” they were putting on, the small stage still felt cozy much like the Santa Cruz Vets Hall or The Gilman.
The band closed with “My Old Man’s A Fatso” and I swear to God I almost had tears in my eyes. For the first time all day, I found myself not excited to run along to the next stage, but depressed that the set was over. About an hour after the show, I ran into Metal Mike walking around the fairgrounds eating a granola bar. I thanked him, and he yelled at me – something about being punk rock and no need for thanks. Usually when someone talks with their mouth full and gets half of their snack all over my face, I am looking to runaway. However, when it’s chunks of a Quaker Oats Chewy Granola Bar from the mouth of an Angry Samoan, at the age of 31 lets just say I debated never washing my face again. That’s how important the Angry Samoans are.
While most Southern California music fans flocked to the desert for Coachella, I mooched yet another ride to Venice off my wonderful wife. Sure, it would be fun to see the likes of DJ Lance Rock and Jay-Z amongst the lush green polo fields and towering palm trees; but when it comes to Friday nights in April there is no place I would rather be then The Stronghold. With it being the third week of a month long residency, I just had to see what the amazing Joseph Arthur would pull out of his sleeve. While expectations were high, I found myself watching a set that was nothing short of a train-wreck. Perhaps this sounds bad to the common reader, which is all the more reason I encourage you to go out and buy the mans entire catalogue. After all, when life gives Joseph Arthur lemons, he will take those lemons, make a bike helmet out of the peels, plant the seeds out back to grow new trees and of course make a damn tasty pitcher of lemonade.
Despite showing up much later than the previous week, I was once again the front of the line (which was fine, as I was able to hear a sound-check that included “Black Lexus“). After a nice conversation about drying Iphones that have gone swimming in toilets, the very kind doorman let me up into the venue. Much to my shock, the wonderful couches from the week before were moved back against the walls instead of being right in front of the stage. I ended up sitting on the back couch watching as the few hipsters left in Los Angeles County began to fill the room. Within 15 minutes of doors being opened, it was time for the first musical guest of the night.
The Dough Rollers
I really thought the two men on stage said there name was the Dough Boys (The Dough Rollers). I have looked all over the Internet trying to find something about these two, but have failed. Shame too, as the duo was very entertaining. Nothing more than two white guys in nice suits channeling dead delta blues-men. At first I felt as if it was a tad cheesy and forced, but after about song two or three, I realized these two were the read deal. With covers (and perhaps originals, I am not sure) such as “Move To Alabama” and “Railroad Blues” these two truly felt natural playing the gospel-tinged blues. I would be very excited to see them again.
After a quick set change, a female with a guitar hoped up on stage. Introduced only as Penelope, the shy song bird was joined by both Rami Jaffee and Jenny Greene (who had sat in with Aurthur the week before). I don’t see how anyone could not instantly fall in love with Penelope. I mean heck, it’s not everyday you get to have a beautiful French woman sing you love songs in her native tongue. Knowing that I can hardly speak English, sadly I don’t know any of the song titles (let alone spell them). I will say that with a powerful voice and solid guitar technique, the entire crowd at The Stronghold were robbed that she was only had time to perform three songs.
Joseph Arthur & Friends
Guitar: Joel Shearer
Drums: Brendan Buckley
Bass: Jonny Polonsky
Violin: Jessy Greene
Keyboard: Rami Jaffee
Vocals: C.C. White & Sibyl Buck
When I walked into the intimate venue, I noticed a lot more equipment up on stage then the week prior. I had assumed that it was for an opening act, but when Penelope had announced that Joseph Arthur was up next it became clear that we would indeed be guided on a very different musical journey. While the venues sound-man does assist in helping set up, the musicians serve as their own roadies. As the seven musicians were getting ready to begin, it became clear gremlins were already present within the tangled web of patch chords and power supplies that make up Arthurs massive pedal board. Once the issue appeared to be solved, Arthur lead his friends (which included Rami Jaffee, Jessy Greene, Sibyl Buck in addition to some local musicians assembled by Jaffee) into the unknown with the powerful “Tattoo.”
Before Arthur was able to begin the third song of the night – “Slide Away” a lengthy delay occurred as a result of the earlier mentioned gremlins. A frustrated Arthur pulled chords out and replaced, hit buttons and unplugged/replugged power sources before finally discovering a faulty effects processor. When he was finally able to perform “Slide Away” Arthur invited a young woman from the audience up on stage (Update 06/30/11 – C.C. White is the vocalist) who added a soulful vocal jam towards the end of the song. The singer managed to breathe new life into the song, creating a very unique moment that I am thankful I was able to witness.
Early in the set, I began to wonder if perhaps Arthur had added a backing band that included bass, drums, guitar and Jaffee ditching his accordion for a keyboard to drown out the constant chatter that had occurred over the two previous Friday nights. With almost every light in the venue powered down in addition to further sound issues, the over all mood of the night was very tenebrous. Select, darker lines from songs like “Honey and the Moon” and “Faith” sent my mind into places I really didn’t expect it to go. When you mix this with musicians who very well may not have all known each other the last time Arthur graced the tiny Venice, CA stage – you had a very almost punk rock feel. You found yourself rooting for the musicians, always pondering if they would make it through a song, or if it would blow up in their faces. The fact that it was so raw and rough around the edges made it feel Sunset Strip dangerous.
After a rocking jammed out version of “September Baby” Arthur left the stage and introduced a singer named Harper Simon (who according to Wikipedia is the son of Paul Simon). Dressed in a plaid shirt, the singer performed two songs. While I was not familiar with the first, the second number was a cover of The Buzzcocks classic Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve)? It took me a minute before I recognized the song, and once the familiarity sank in my smile grew almost as large as the smile Simon was wearing the entire time he was on stage.
Once again, Arthur used the set to create a song on the spot (once again, I assume). Not aware of the title, I am calling it “I Miss The Zoo”. After creating a spacey solo over slightly delayed loops, Arthur sang lyrics confessing missing days of addiction. Dark, depressing yet totally unique and absolutely powerful, this random act of art in the dark lit room ended up the no doubt about it highlight of Friday night.
Keeping his word from the week before that additional special guests would be welcomed – Arthur invited American songwriter, singer, musician, performer and composer for film, dance and theater (thanks Wikipedia) artist David Poe to the stage. Poe lead the band through a boogie-licious blues stomp called “Joy”. While I am unfamiliar with the song, it was perhaps the most upbeat moment of the night.
The night wrapped up soon after with Arthur building his loops for “Lack A Vision.” Once completed (and after knocking over his mic stand – some nights you just can’t win) Arthur brought his easel onto the very packed stage to finish his painting (which featured the names of the various musicians who had shared the stage). Blowing through his harmonica and singing into the mic, Arthur doodled, painted over existing lines and finished a painting unlike any other of his I had seen. Much like the music, the work seemed jagged, unsure of what it wanted to be. What struck me the most was not giving up. Arthur and his friends fought on all night, and while often frustrated, the art never suffered. The struggle created beauty that would have never been found if this was a solo acoustic show. What made the night so magical was watching these musicians discover each other. Often you could watch one musician squint across the dark stage to confirm they were indeed playing the same chords. I recently heard a friend say about his child that you can not learn to walk without a few bumps from falling down. This perfectly sums up week three of Joseph Arthur’s residency – and I can not wait to see what’s in store for our final Friday together.