Tag: West Hollywood (page 1 of 2)

The Dandy Warhols 04/25/14: Roxy Theatre – West Hollywood, CA

The Dandy Warhols

For years I have been trying to see The Dandy Warhols live. I have a few albums, some I like, and some make me wonder what the fuck I am listening to. Yet I just knew I had to catch the band live. That finally happened on the last Friday in April during the year of our Lord 2014. Nic Adler and The Roxy decided it was time the Sunset Strip was no longer a shadow of its former self and are finally bringing bands worth a lick to West Hollywood. With two sold out nights, I finally got to catch the four piece that made Portland cool long before Fred and Carrie.

The night began with a set from the long running Los Angeles based band The Warlocks. While nothing groundbreaking, the band has an undeniable, almost hypnotic presence. Featuring an extremely tight rhythm section backing a three guitar attack, The Warlocks ooze distortion and create massive waves of sound. I couldn’t name a single song during the 40 minute set, but I was impressed enough to buy some vinyl on the way out.

It was shortly after 10pm when The Dandy Warhols took the stage. With a new live album to support, the band spent 90 minutes serenading the crowd with selections spanning their career. Once front man Courtney Taylor-Taylor fixed an issue with his microphone shocking him, the band ripped through crowd pleasers like We Used To Be Friends, Sad Vacation and Get Off.

With three of the four members rocking vintage rock and roll t-shirts (Taylor-Taylor made sure to mention to the crowd how awesome his Guns ‘n’ Roses t-shirt was) the crowd shouted for requests. While a certain AC/DC cover was ignored, many up front were delighted for Minnesoter towards the end of the set.

With the first night at the Roxy being night three of this current run across the continent, The Dandy Warhols sounded tight and looked confident upon a stage in a venue that was far too small for them. A great gig indeed, hopefully it won’t take me another 20 years to catch them again.

Death To All @ House of Blues – Hollywood, California 4-13-13

Death To All is a tribute tour to Chuck Schuldiner, frontman for the band Death who passed away in 2001 due to brain cancer. He is the the father of the metal genre we now know as “Death Metal”. He is one of the greatest guitarists of all time as well as one of the biggest icons/names in metal and has influenced many guitarists that came after him. This show helps keep his memory alive. The tour is also a benefit show for Sweet Relief, a charity that provides financial assistance to career musicians faced with illness, disability, or age-related problems.

Death 2

Death To All was an amazing night. This tour featured the lineup from the Human album. This historic event took place at the world-famous House of Blues on the Sunset Strip in Hollywood, California on April 13, 2013. Being Mr. Fancypants with my VIP meet and greet pass I was able to meet the Human lineup of Death. It’s weird how I always imagined them to look…metal yet they looked like normal. I’m like…that’s them? lol. Still, I got my stuff signed. The whole night I could feel the fanbase of Death. The opening bands did a pretty good job, I was actually entertained. A few minutes before Death started, a screen came down and did a montage of old pictures of Chuck, it was almost heartbreaking yet exciting seeing the crowd chant “Chuck! Chuck! Chuck!”. Once Death came on, the whole crowd went berserk as I figured. There were mosh pits and crowd surfers the whole time to the point where there was a cop on the rail. Being that it was the Human lineup, it made sense that they opened with Flattening Of Emotions which is fine by me because that’s one of my favorite Death songs. They continued with hit after hit and they played most of the songs I figured they would play but they didn’t play everything I was hoping for. Cynic’s Max Phelps filled-in in Chuck’s place and he did an awesome job. I got the feeling he was trying to in a way look, act, and sound like Chuck but that’d make sense since he’s taking his spot and has to make it look like Death as much as possible. His vocals were spot on for the most part except for a few parts here and there where he should’ve screamed louder but he sounded kinda low like he didn’t wanna go too high on the notes. A show like this is a great way to keep Death and the spirit of Chuck alive as there will never be another one like him.

 

 

Death VIP Meet and Greet pass Death 1

 

http://youtu.be/2tBMj6n-xQ4

http://youtu.be/KFqtroLP9os

http://youtu.be/7CgTbFTL_kU

http://youtu.be/OAEfvWUh2sU

Municipal Waste/Napalm Death 11-14-12: House of Blues – West Hollywood, Ca

Municipal Waste/Napalm Death 11/14/12

House of Blues – West Hollywood, CA

Words/Photos by Misael

Municipal Waste and Napalm Death was a night of non-stop metal. They rocked us out to a jam-packed venue at the world-famous House of Blues on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood, California.

The opening bands were Attitude Adjustment, the death metal band Exhumed, and the hardcore punk band, The Dwarves. All opening bands did a great job in keeping the crowd wild and intense.

After them came up the 32 year veteran extreme/grindcore band from Birmingham, England, Napalm Death! They started off with the first 2 songs off of their new album Utilitarian. They continued to play songs from their new album was well as classics like “Suffer the Children” and “Scum”. The crowd was wild as there were mosh pits and people crowd-surfing the entire time.

http://youtu.be/h1TBFSMA9IA

The night’s headliners were the mighty thrash metal band Municipal Waste. The crows didn’t seem to be tired from Napalm Death as they continued to mosh pit and it was chaos the whole time Municipal Waste was playing. They were touring for their new album, The Fatal Feast and they played a few songs from that album but also did a good job of mixing it up with songs from their other albums. Highlights included “Mind Eraser,” “Beer Pressure” and “Thrashing Is My Business…And Business Is Good.” During “Born to Party”, one fan went as far as to climb up one of the speakers on the side of the stage and dove into the crowd for an epic stage dive. This was an intense night and exceeded my expectations as to how good it would turn out to be. My ears were ringing for days after the last note rang through the PA.

http://youtu.be/UIuMvn15xv8

To view a playlist of Napalm Death and Municipal Waste videos from this show, click here.

Coheed and Cambria 10/04/12: Troubadour – West Hollywood, CA

Coheed and Cambria w/ Aeges 10/04/12

Troubadour – West Hollywood, CA

Words/Photos by Reverend Justitio

I would be lying if I said I didn’t throw a mini temper tantrum when I was shut out of the Coheed and Cambria Troubadour on-sale because TicketFly assumed I was a scalper. It was after all only one of my all-time favorite bands playing in the best club in Southern California. Yet as it turns out the universe was on my side. I decided to check out the Troubadour website around 4pm on the day of the show and as luck would have it a few tickets were released. Instead of heading home from work on a Thursday night to watch the idiot box I was flying over Barham (okay crawling) from Burbank to Hollywood for a night with Coheed at the Troubadour.

The night kicked off with a thirty minute opening set from Aeges. In my expert opinion there are three types of opening acts you can encounter. Bands who can’t get off stage fast enough, bands that fill the role perfectly and then bands you wish could have played another 15 minutes. For Aeges it was the last type. Holy smokes how have these guys not popped up on my radar before this particular Thursday night in West Hollywood? For 30 minutes Aeges mixed deep stoner metal grooves with sci-fi sensibilities. Most of the material from their set came off the recently released album The Bridge (which I only know because the drummer told me this after I bought the album from him after the show). I can’t stress this enough, if Aeges hits your town check them out because they are one of the best rock bands I have seen in a long time.

With the tiny club now as packed as I can recall seeing it, Coheed and Cambria hit the stage around 9:30 pm. The band opened with a 1-2 punch from the 2007 album Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Volume II: No World For Tomorrow. After opening with the song No World For Tomorrow the four piece moved right into the raucous Gravemaker & Gunslingers. From there fans went crazy as the group went all the way back to the start with Everything Evil, the only song from the band’s debut album Second Stage Turbine Blade to make it into the set.

On this particular night a rare thing happened. Where most shows you attend fans have zero desire to hear new material, this was not the case inside the Troubadour. Fans were screaming for the band to play new songs and Coheed was happy to feed those requests. In fact those lucky enough to make it into the pint size club witnessed the band perform some songs for the first time. One of those songs was Key Entity Extraction III: Holly Wood The Cracked. Sure the upstate New York band may have put a space in Hollywood, but everyone inside the room knew there was no better place for this dark creepy number to make its live debut.

For the rest of the evening, the band mixed classic Coheed with material from the soon to be released double album The Afterman. You could see the band was clearly having fun as they played songs like Blood Red Summer, A Favor House Atlantic and a relaxed take on Mother Superior. With this being my 10th Coheed show, I enjoyed small tweaks the band made in the music. The way the band has added a pause in In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3 so fans can scream MAN YOUR OWN JACKHAMMER – MAN YOUR BATTLESTATIONS is nothing short of brilliant.

Here was something that boggled my mind. Granted we were packed in like sardines, when was the last time you hit a show and a pit finally broke out during a new song? That’s exactly what happened on this particular night as the crowd finally erupted during Key Entity Extraction V: Sentry the Defiant. Another interesting occurrence was the moment when fans chanted for the first single from The Afterman Ascension. Front man Claudio Sanchez couldn’t help but laugh as he assured fans that Key Entity Extraction I: Domino the Destitute would be played later before launching into another song making its live debut, Goodnight, Fair Lady.

After playing for well over an hour the band wrapped the night with a lengthy four song encore. Crowd surfers started to find their way onto the stage as the band played a smoking version of Welcome Home. Armed with a double neck guitar, Sanchez even allowed fans packed up front to strum the stings during one of the songs solos. The band finally brought the night to a close with the lengthy jam heavy The Willing Well V: The Final Cut. I moved towards the back of the room and just took it all in for a moment. From being shut out to seeing Coheed live at the Troubadour I am truly grateful that the universe had my back and allowed me to make it in.

Local H 09/24/12: Troubadour – West Hollywood, CA

Local H w/ Ambassadors 09/24/12

Troubadour – West Hollywood, CA

Words/Photos by Reverend Justito

Back in early August I received an e-mail with a download link for the latest Local H record Hallelujah! I’m A Bum. Over the next few weeks the latest concept record from the pride of Illinois has been blasted into my head over and over and over again. In my cubical, sitting in traffic on the 101 and working out in the yard the 17 songs found on the double album is a soundtrack for exactly where I am at in 2012. I fought hard to give Hallelujah! a coveted 5 star review on Antiquiet, and  there was no way in hell I was going to miss the duo of Scott Lucas and Brian St. Clair perform songs from one of the year’s best record at the best place to see music in West Hollywood California.

Monday night at the Troubadour kicked off with an acoustic set from Scott Lucas. Yes the same Scott Lucas who happens to be ½ of Local H. While many men watched the now legendary Seahawks versus Packers game I watched Lucas open up his brief set with a cover of Last Caress by the Misfits. From there Lucas performed some material from his Married Men band including Ain’t No Grave (Gonna Hold My Body Down) and Blood Half Moons. A brief yet fun set, Lucas opening for himself was the perfect way to kick off the night.

Main support on this particular evening came from Ambassadors. The Brooklyn based band announced early on that they were performing in Los Angeles for the very first time much to the delight of many in the crowd. I was unfamiliar with Ambassadors walking in the door and I personally found them an odd choice of opener for a band like Local H as they were more hipster rock than heavy rock. In fact looking out into the packed club you could clearly tell who was there for Local H and who was there for Ambassadors.

Musically these four gentlemen would be a perfect fit for a Yeasayer/GROUPLOVE tour. A bit hippie jam with vegan hipster sensibilities. Not worldly enough to be called world music but no doubt more interesting than most indie bands if that makes any sense whatsoever. While I don’t know if I would seek them out again the band had a good energy and sounded tight. I have no doubt that when they return to Los Angeles they could very well perform at the Troubadour as the headliner instead of the opener.

As Local H walked down the stairs from the “backstage” area at the Troubadour the opening riffs of Waves played across the PA. Lucas timed of strapping his guitar on and walking to the mic to sing the songs opening line perfectly. As I expected weeks before the band set up their gear on the Troubadour stage I knew they would kick the set off with the opening number from their latest release. I also expected them to segue straight into Cold Manor as they do on the album but where they threw me for a curve was not heading straight into Night Flight To Paris after Cold Manor. Instead they went head first into a raging take of Paddy Considine and saved Night Flight for later in the set.

Having a good dose of Hallelujah! I’m A Bum now under our belts the band used the rest of the night to mix classic Local H cuts with new material. An early appearance of Bound For The Floor cleared out a decent number of Ambassador fans who hung around to finish their $7 Corona while Manipulator filled my quench for anything off their debut album Ham Fisted.

Lucas joked with the crowd before a block of new songs that it was time to go grab a beer from the bar instead of rocking out to new jams. However this was a rare night where I was actually more excited for new songs instead of older ones.  Sadly I was alone on this one as numerous fans decided to chat during the softer parts of Say The Word and while I couldn’t exactly see the line at the bar as Lucas announced that Feed A Fever was about Fox News I have to imagine that anyone who isn’t pumped for material from Hallelujah! is probably dumb enough to be a fan of that network.

After a goose bump inducing take on Another February the band brought out the big guns to close the night. After a hard rocking take on All-Right (Oh, Yeah) the highly intoxicated crowds’ energy finally exploded into a large most pit during All The Kids Are Right. The funny thing about this pit was the fact that none of the members were kids. There is nothing more depressing than watching a 30-something trying to relive the glory days of the days when Bill Clinton lived at the White House by crashing onto the floor in a crowd surfing attempt gone horribly wrong.

With tasty versions of Fritz’s Corner and Hands On The Bible in the rear-view the duo closed the set with Waves Again. As if there is any other song they can close with on this tour the song built from dreamy riffs into a massive wall of feedback that rang through the PA until the band returned for a lengthy four song encore that kicked off with a cover of the Rush classic 2112.

Interesting market research was accidently conducted during California Songs. In between digs at Katy Perry and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Lucas observed that the Los Angeles crowd enjoys to scream the and fuck New York too section of lyrics. While we all could have a good laugh making fun of the fact that there are far too many songs about this city of Angels many in the crowd will no doubt remember California Songs for all the wrong reasons.

Having taking a solo on the opposite side of the stage from where he was set up, Lucas had to break up a fight between two sets of fans. Having watched things unfold all night I can understand the frustration of the two guys who got the venue early and waited for a front row spot. All night three drunk assholes did all they could to shove in on them (these assholes of course show up two songs into Local H’s set). While I must assume Lucas was unaware of the fact these assholes bullied these two fans all night he sure as hell stepped in when the bullied had enough and fought hard to save their spots. After Lucas got the parties to cool down he encouraged us all to stop fighting each other and go out to the street and fight the real bad guys by voting.


In watching this battle for front row supremacy brew all night it fit into everything that Hallelujah! I’m A Bum represents in America today. We are all struggling to get ahead. We will step over each other for a piece of the pie be it in our cubicles or for a front row spot to the rock and roll show. We are a nation divided and growing ever further apart and while we can put out all the hope in the universe it’s going to take a massive effort to reunite us together again. Thank you Local H for giving us a great place to start.

Watch Deftones Play New Song “Roller Derby” at the Troubadour (7/27)

Watch Deftones Play New Song “Roller Derby” at the Troubadour (7/27)

 Last night the Deftones hit the Troubadour for a 20 song barn burning set in West Hollywood. Earlier this week they premiered a new song called “Rosemary”, and a few hours ago that wasn’t the only new song they played. Below, You can view the fan filmed footage for “Rosemary” and well as the song they premiered last night called “Roller Derby”. Happy Sunday to you.

UPDATED: Initial Artists Announced For The 2012 Sunset Strip Music Festival

Initial Artists Announced For The 2012 Sunset Strip Music Festival

The Sunset Strip Music Festival is set to return to the streets of West Hollywood on August 16-18th 2012.

The 2012 Honoree will be Sunset Blvd legends The Doors. The festival will also feature its annual outdoor concert smack dab in the middle of the Sunset Strip. Below is the entire lineup as of June 28th 2012.

THURSDAY, AUGUST 16
SSMF Celebrates The Doors at House of Blues Sunset Strip

The Roxy Theatre
Peter Murphy
Ours

Viper Room
Future Villains
Lady Sinatra
The Black Marquee
Gunpowder Secrets
Diamonds Under Fire

Key Club
Quiet Riot

Whisky A Go-Go
Jack Russell’s Great White
Faster Pussycat
Bulletboys
Pretty Boy Floyd
The Hard Way
Wizeguy Theory
Madysin Hatter
Everyday Feels Like Sunday

FRIDAY, AUGUST 17

House of Blues
Hank III + special guests

Key Club
RZA with full band

Viper Room (early show)
Unwritten Law
London Cries

Viper Room (late show)
Mickey Avalon
Little Miss Nasty

Whisky A Go-Go
James Ingram
Teddy Campbell Band

SATURDAY, AUGUST 18

Outdoor street festival stages
Marilyn Manson
The Offspring
Steve Aoki
Bad Religion
Black Label Society
Far East Movement
De La Soul
Dead Sara
The Mowgli’s

The Roxy Theatre
Das Racist
Matt Skiba
Street Drum Corps
Burning Of Rome
Caught A Ghost
Filligar
Love And A .38
The Stone Foxes
The Knife Outline
Dim Mak after party with surprise performances

Whisky A Go-Go
Tempting Fate
The Untouchables
Hardly Dangerous
Dynazty
The Rocketz
Cold Blue Rebels
Leif Garrett
Hurricane
Hotel Diablo
Beowulf
Bitch
45 Grave

Key Club
V Sevani
Venrez
Suedehead
Moses Stone
Nylon Pink
California Windfall
Vicci Martinez
True Press
Patience Prince
Brandon and Leah
After party

98-7fm’s “Close to Home” Roxy Lot Stage
JJamz
Family Of The Year
Terraplane Sun
Midnight Hour
The Vim Dicta
Jared James Nichols
Cherri Bomb

Silent Frisco

Saturday, August 18 AFTER STREET FEST (separate tickets required for entrance):

Viper Room (doors at 10 p.m.)
WAX
dumbfounded

House of Blues
Subhuman Tour (featuring Diesel Boy / Bare – dubstep DJ event)

Additional artists rocking both outside and inside the various clubs that make up the Sunset Strip will be announced at a later date. Tickets for the festival are on sale now and you can click here to purchase.

As of press time we can only start the rumor that Jim Morrison’s Hologram will make an appearance at some point during the weekend.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZDN9y2vTdUs

 

Toadies 05/19/12: The Roxy – West Hollywood, CA

Toadies w/ USELESS KEYS and Blank Faces 05/19/12

The Roxy – West Hollywood, CA

Words/Photos by Reverend Justito

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.

 

 

Meshuggah 05/05/12: House of Blues – West Hollywood, CA

Meshuggah w/ Decapitated and Baroness 05/05/12

House of Blues – West Hollywood, CA

Words/Photos by Reverend Justito

It was not just any Saturday night on the Sunset Strip, it was Cinco de Mayo. America’s version of El Día de la Batalla de Puebla or as alcoholics prefer to call it Amateur Night. You can always tell it is going to be a good night when vomit is flowing down the boulevard long before sun sets upon Sunset. There is a good energy in Los Angeles right now, people like hockey all of a sudden and we can no longer laugh as hard at the Clippers. Hell even the metal heads on the Strip were feeling good on the 5th of May as most of them had tickets for the sold out celebration of a battle in 1862 with Decapitated, Baroness and Meshuggah.

The fiesta kicked off with Decapitated. The band was faced with the unfortunate circumstance of having to go on as fans whom showed up well in advance of the doors opening were left waiting outside as metal detectors and slow ticket takers worked at the pace of snail. That didn’t stop the Polish natives from bringing a pulverizing set. For those who were in the venue the group did a great job of warming them up for a night of metal. After rocking classics like “Mother War” and “Post Organic” the highlight of the brief set was the moment that the band welcomed back original bass player Marcin Rygiel for the set closing Spheres of Madness. I didn’t know much about Decapitated walking into the venue, but they no doubt won me over by the end of the night.

Baroness hit the stage around 9:15 and pleased the crowd with 45 minutes of southern sludge metal. Circle pits were swapped for stoney head nods as the Savannah four piece played a set that drew heavily from their 2009 album Blue Record. I was particularly impressed with how the band strung songs together using jams that were sparse in notes yet dense in tones. Highlights of the set included Steel That Sleeps The Eye, The Sweetest Curse and a new song called Take My Bones Away that I assume will be included on the groups’ upcoming Yellow and Green album. I was hoping we would get an hour but as the band busted into Isak I knew our time together was done. A great main support set I need to see these guys headline someday.

After great opening sets it was clear everyone was ready for the main event to begin. With their most recent record Koloss debuting at #17 on the Billboard Top 200 album charts House of Blues is far too small of a venue for Meshuggah. Those who made it in knew they were lucky and made sure to show it by forming small pits on the crammed floor as a recording of Obsidian played across the PA. When the band finally did come out, they opened with the outstanding new song Demiurge. You can hate me for saying this all you want but this song reminds me of Primus and I could not have asked for a better way to kick off the set.

Early on there was a heavy focus on the band’s 2008 effort ObZen as Pravus, Combustion and Lethargica all cemented the notion as fact that this venue is far too small for the music being performed on stage. Other early highlights included Glints Collide and the new song Do Not Look Down.

Around the midway point of the show, the band left the stage as Mind’s Mirror played. When they return we were treated to one of the high points of the night as they performed In Death – Is Life and In Death – Is Death from the 2005’s Catch Thirtythree. The entire band sounded top notch all night, especially vocalist Jens Kidman.

I was shocked at how little of the new record the band played. I Am Colossus did make a late appearance sandwiches between fan favorites New Millennium Cyanide Christ and the eventual set closer Rational Gaze. Also shocking was how loud the crowd was during the obligatory encore break. In my decade plus in Los Angeles it was one of the loudest I have heard. Fans were rewarded with two more songs before being sent back out onto the strip to shock the Swagtastic lushes of amateur night. After a mighty camera killing Future Breed Machine, the men of Meshuggah bid Hollywood goodnight with Dancers To A Discordant System. It may have been a Mexican-American holiday but on this particular night it was the Swedes who won the battle of the Sunset Strip.

Click here to see where you can catch Decapitated, Baroness and Meshuggah.

Nile/The Black Dahlia Murder 04/05/12: House of Blues – West Hollywood, CA

The Black Dahlia Murder w/ Nile, Skeletonwitch & Hour of Penance 04/05/12

House of Blues – West Hollywood, CA

Words/Photos by Reverend Justito

I don’t know about you, but I can’t think of a better way to spend Good Friday Eve then with a quadruple shot of detuned death metal action. The line for the sold out House of Blues Sunset show wrapped around the block long before the doors opened with fans ready to mosh the night away. Once doors opened, the building buzzed with anticipation as fans slammed beers and discussed which of the night’s artists they were most looking forward to experiencing live.

Hour Of Penance

While the venues website stated that the music was to kick off at 8pm, the evenings first band Hour of Penance actually hit the stage at 7:30pm. Hailing from Italy (Rome to be exact) I know I was not alone in not knowing much about the four piece band. Likewise I was not alone in being instantly converted as a fan by the time they left the stage. For 25 minutes the band brought  it hard as circle pits formed and fans went nuts. New songs like “Ascension” mixed well with older material like “Slavery In A Deaf Decay” and the set closing “Misconception.” I was very impressed and get the vibe that by the next time they make it to America they won’t be the first band performing on the bill.

Skeletonwitch

Skeletonwitch made it clear from the second they hit the stage, they were there to drink beer and rock the fuck out. Mission Accomplished as the Ohio based band did exactly that. The set drew heavy from last year’s four star effort Forever Abomination. “This Horrifying Force (The Desire To Kill),” “Reduced To The Failure Of Prayer” and “Shredding Sacred Flesh” beat the capacity crowd into submission. I did have one major problem with the bands set and that is the fact they only got 30 minutes. I know they were second on the bill, but I assumed with the early start time they would have played for at least 45. Sadly that was not the case as the band said goodbye before launching into a spectacular version of “Within My Blood.”

Nile

Despite quick set changes, fans were ready for Nile the moment Skeletonwitch left the stage. With singer/songwriter Ryan Adams having already shared with me via Twitter that Nile was “intense” I was damn excited to finally see a band that has been making groundbreaking death metal for nearly 20 years. The group opened their main support set with the thunderous first track from their 2009 release Those Whom The Gods Detest. With it being Good Friday Eve, “Kafir!” was the logical opener as it gave the sweaty masses on the packed floor a chance to scream in unison “There Is No God.” Not even lead guitarists Karl Sanders Marshall Amp cutting in and out could stop the destructive onslaught Nile was brining onto the West Hollywood hot spot.

Nile did an outstanding job of interacting with the crowd while cranking out a seven song career spanning set. Vocalist/guitarist Dallas Toler-Wade had fans scream in their best death metal voice before launching into a devastating version of “Sacrifice Unto Sebek.” Other highlights included tight versions of “Ithyphallic” and “Sacrophagus.” Much like Skeletonwitch, my only complaint was how short the set was. 40 minutes of Nile is simply not enough. After the band wrapped the set with “Black Seeds of Vengeance” fans chants for one more song were unfortunately not granted. While a few were seen heading for the exits, most crowd members just grabbed another beer of complimentary cup of ice water in a hope to hydrate before the night’s final act.

The Black Dahlia Murder

It was shy of 9 months ago that I caught my 5th performance by The Black Dahlia Murder and I was no doubt excited for round 6. Kicking things off with the 1-2 opening punch from their most recent studio effort Ritual; “A Shrine To Madness” and “Moonlight Equilibrium” took what had already been an insane pit and somehow managed to make it bigger and faster. For the next hour, the Michigan based melodic death metal heads played a career spanning set much to the delight of the crowd. “What A Horrible Night To Have A Curse” and “A Vulgar Picture” took it back a few years but it didn’t matter as fans react to all eras of The Black Dahlia Murder with equal enthusiasm.

I believe it was during “Conspiring With The Damned” that I thought of the perfect title for the set. It was A Night of 1000 First Bumps. Lead vocalist Trevor Strnad found a way to sneak in an even heavier dosage of arm raising fury than usual as the band blasted heavy hitters like “Den of The Picqurerist,” “Miasma” and “On Stirring Seas of Salted Blood.” Known for not playing encores, the set ended with a song from their debut album Unhallowed. “Funeral Thirst” gave fans one last chance to go bonkers in the pit and one final chance for Strand to raise his fists in the air while serving as the perfect exclamation point for an outstanding night of death metal mayhem.

 

The Darkness 02/19/12: House of Blues – West Hollywood, CA

The Darkness (w/ Crown Jewel Defense and Fox Shazam) 02/19/12

House of Blues – West Hollywood, CA

Words/Photos by Reverend Justito

I have a shocking confession to make. For a brief period in time I lied and claimed I had seen The Darkness when they played at The Roxy. It was silly I know, but I just wanted to be cool. By dumb luck I was out of town when The Darkness returned and played the Fonda and then they broke up and my dream of seeing The Darkness live was all but crushed. So I lied. Thank God for reunion tours. You know I was online the second their House of Blues West Hollywood President’s Day Weekend Throwdown went on sale. I had missed the group twice; I was not going to miss them for a third time.

The evening started with a group called Crown Jewel Defense. While I wouldn’t say they were good, I will say they were the perfect openers for this tour. The band had the look – bad spandex, synchronized hair flips and screeching guitars. The groups’ music reminded me of what Saigon Kick would have sounded like after a decade that featured unoriginal ass clowns like Godsmack and Disturbed selling a ton of records. Nothing special, in fact some of the songs were cringe-worthy. Yet that didn’t really matter because the band was having fun performing to a very full floor of rock and roll enthusiasts.  The highlight of their set was being smart enough to throw plenty of free promotional gear into the crowd. No matter how bad your music is people love free shit and it’s hard to hate any band who can take out a hipster by hitting them upside the head with a t-shirt.

Up next on this particular evening was Foxy Shazam. My knowledge of the Cincinnati Ohio based rockers walking into the show was my 7 inch single of “Wanna-Be-Angel” and recent confessions from the likes of Jay Porks and BeeZnutZ. Within seconds of hitting the stage I was drinking the Foxy Kool-Aid and ready to tell everyone just how great they are. This band is pure energy. I can only imagine the bruises on lead singers Eric Sean Nally’s body from the way he abuses himself in the name of rocking roll. From somersaults and random drops to his knees to crashing into the drum set watching command the man command the stage is a lot like watching an episode of Jackass.

The groups’ music was as amazing as the performance. From the opening licks of “Welcome To The Church of Rock and Roll” to final notes of “The Only Way To My Heart…” the band sounded like a well-oiled machine. As great as the jams were, it’s hard to not talk about the antics. The first highlight was Nally’s bitching out of a douchebag who ruined the punch line of a long drawn out “joke” about a drunk by screaming for the night’s headliner. As you can see here, Nally had no problem cutting him down to size. Where I assumed the highlight of the night would be Nelly eating a cigarette on stage, it turned out it was anything but. Yes, it was great to see him eat not one but no less than five lit cigarettes during “The Temple.” However the speech that followed where Nally confessed he was over the dumb stunt but felt he had to do it was somewhat heartbreaking. Cigarettes or not, Foxy Shazam are one bad ass motherfucking rock and roll revival and the sold out crowd would have been won over had he eaten them or not.

It was around 9:40pm when “The Boys Are Back In Town” by Thin Lizzy blasted through the PA. While a mix of songs from the likes of Electric Six and Boston has already been heard by the capacity crowd, there was no way that this particular song choice was a coincidence. Moments later the boys known as The Darkness were hitting the stage to a thunderous applause as they kicked off the nearly two hour show with “Black Shuck.” Out the gate the band sounded superb with their flashy guitar licks and falsetto vocals. “Growing On Me” quickly followed as late comers did their best to find a spot in the packed club.

One of my biggest surprises of the night was how much new material (and B-sides) the band performed. Early on the band started to drop songs from their highly anticipated new record (still untitled and due out later this year). Of the new material and B-sides, some of the stand out numbers included “The Best Of Me,” “Concrete” and “Physical Sex.” Another highlight was front man Justin Hawkins giving a shout out to the individual who animated the music video for the just released track “Nothing’s Going To Stop Us.” The animator jumped up and down with delight in the VIP section as the group ripped the venue a new one with the feel good jam of 2012.

As great as the new material was, everyone in the crowd was pumped for the classics. I am pretty sure the band managed to perform every track from their 2003 debut Permission To Land. Highlights included Hawkins solo take on “Holding My Own” as well as spot on renditions of “Love Is Only A Feeling,” “Get Your Hands Off Of My Woman” and “Givin’ Up.” Another highlight from that era was the band breaking out their cover of the Radiohead classic “Street Spirit [Fade Out]” that featured seizure inducing strobe lights and the band sounding better than Radiohead has in fifteen years. You of course don’t need me to share the reaction of the crowd when the band played their biggest hit “I Believe In A Thing Called Love” to close the main set.

The thing that stuck out the most was how grateful the band appeared on stage. It’s clear that each and every member realizes that they have been blessed with a second chance and at least on this particular night it felt as if they refuse to allow the opportunity to go to waste. The energy all night from the crowd was massive,  be it singing along, synchronized overhead claps or clearing a path so Hawkins could shred while riding on the shoulders of a security guard during the night’s final number “Love On The Rocks With No Ice.” It’s clear that 2012 is going to be the best year for The Darkness yet and I am glad I no longer have to lie when folks asked if I have seen the pride of Lowestoft, England live.

Ghost 02/02/12: The Roxy – West Hollywood, CA

Ghost (w/ Ancient VVisdom and Blood Ceremony) 02/02/12

The Roxy – West Hollywood, CA

Words/Photos by Reverend Justito

There is a moment when a concert junkie realizes that what they are about to witness is not a typical show as much as it is a special moment with great historical magnitude. That moment hit me as I crossed Sunset Blvd en route to The Roxy Theatre. I watched as a young man in a Manowar T-shirt handed a scalper no less than five $20 bills for one ticket to the 13 Dates of Doom tour featuring Ancient VVisdom, Blood Ceremony and Ghost. As Ancient VVisdom wrapped their opening set, I could feel goose bumps forming on my limbs as I walked into the small theatre for the show which had been sold out for weeks.

My night of music kicked off with Toronto Doom Metal outfit, Blood Ceremony. Knowing nothing about the four piece, I was instantly mesmerized by their Black Sabbath meets Led Zeppelin riffs. While that description may sound overly generic, it works because these four don’t mess around. What sets Blood Ceremony apart from countless other metal groups is front woman Alia O’Brien. In addition to an incredible set of pipes, O’Brien splashes random colors of sound over de-tuned and bonged out guitar riffs with both an organ and a flute. Unless you are the Recording Academy (AKA The asshats who hand out Grammy awards) chances are you don’t expect to find a flute in a metal band; and yet for Blood Ceremony, it works. The Canadians had the capacity crowd eating out of the palm of their hand and their 45 minute set flew by way too fast. I don’t know when these four are hitting the road again, but if you enjoy no bullshit balls to the wall rock and roll that sounds familiar, yet unique and totally original then you need to make it a point to check Blood Ceremony out.

Somehow, the already packed theatre managed to cram even more fans in by the time Ghost hit the stage at 10:30 pm. Kicking off with the opening chants of “Masked Ball” which flowed nicely into the pulsating “Con Clavi Con Dio,” the mostly male crowd lifted cell phone and devil horns in approval.

Despite this being the group’s first Southern California concert appearance, it became clear early on that The Roxy was simply too small to contain the energy of both the band and the fans. Lead singer Papa Emeritus led his Nameless Ghouls (AKA two guitarist, a bassist, a drummer and a keyboard player) into spot-on performances of every track found on their debut album Opus Eponymous. Highlights of the 45 minute headline set included “Stand By Him”, “Death Knell” and an evil take on the Beatles classic “Here Comes The Sun.”

In addition to an onslaught of highly melodic metal, Ghost is a very visual show. From the earlier mentioned Nameless Ghouls whose faces are hidden by their cloaks to the satanic pope garb (is there a proper name for those? Catholic I am not), Ghost has a uniquely sinister look. When you add in the burning of some form of sage and communion handed out by Papa Emeritus to loyal disciples in the front crowd, you have the perfect one-two punch of great music and incredible theatrics.

Towards the end of the set, Papa Emeritus growled into the microphone that this was a great show. While I won’t disagree with him, I feel that he underestimated the show. This was not just a Thursday night metal show at The Roxy. This was Elton John’s first show at The Troubadour or that night when cops came and broke up Black Flag at the Palladium. This was history and while a few hundred were lucky enough to witness it, there is no doubt in my mind that in a few years, when Ghost are headlining large rooms with thousands of fans, each and every last one of them will claim that they were in attendance at The Roxy. This is the type of show where everyone who saw it will tell 10 friends and those friends will tell 10 friends. So this is me telling you that Ghost is the total package. With their next North American trek as main support to Mastodon and Opeth, you have no excuse to miss quite possibly the greatest new heavy metal band of the last decade.

O.A.R. 01/27/12: House of Blues – West Hollywood, CA

O.A.R. (w/ Parachute) 01/27/12

House of Blues – West Hollywood, CA

Words/Photos by Reverend Justito

I have talked a lot of shit about O.A.R. By a lot of shit, I mean trolled the message boards known as O.A.R. fans for years. Most of my shit talking took place in off topic forums, but I made my distaste for the group’s music well known. So when I say I talked a lot of shit about O.A.R., I am talking years of trolling.  In an odd yet not unexpected turn of events, I managed to win many over on the board and even became pals with a few of them. One of those friends came into town this week to catch the bands shows in Anaheim and West Hollywood and was kind enough to bring me along. We met up with another Pub 24 (AKA what the cool kids call the O.A.R. board) vet and did the Sunset Strip right on a Friday night.

The night kicked off with openers Parachute. The best thing about their set was House of Blues re-tweeting the photo we took and posted online. Don’t get me wrong 1197 people inside the venue will tell you that they were great. This is because they are simple people who like simple music and/or females under the age of 17. For these individuals, Parachute are perfect. The music was basic, somewhere between a frat house and the iPod of a Volvo driving mother of two. I understand that some people really like that type of music and had Parachute done this genre well I would go easy on them. My problem is that they did everything wrong. Having already worked the length of the guard rail with high-fives to everyone within arm’s reach during the second song of the set, lead singer Will Anderson jumped into the crowd around the mid-way point of the set. Jumping up and down singing the word Baby over and over as if he was Justin Bieber, you could just tell he does this every night. It was not a spontaneous rock and roll moment as much as it was forced and generic. As he tricked little girls into thinking he was a rebel, I pondered dumping my beer onto Mr. Anderson from the balcony above. Things only got worse when the group performed an uninspired cover of the Tom Petty classic “Won’t Back Down.” Hell the entire second half of the show felt like covers when you throw in a few verses of U2’s “With Or Without You” and closing number that had the exact same intro as Death Cab For Cutie’s “I Will Possess Your Heart.”  Parachutes are pineapple on pizza and sitting down to pee. Totally acceptable for the ladies and an overall disappointment to the male species. I expect they will make it big performing their bland adult contemporary rock, because let’s face it the world needs another version of All American Rejects.

Before I even made it into House of Blues, I knew even if O.A.R. was torture upon my ear drums I would have a good time with the folks I was with. As it turned out, O.A.R. wasn’t torture at all. The Dave Matthews gone Reggae thing never really tickled my fancy and the highlight of the two shows I saw nearly a decade ago was the opening set from a then unknown Maroon 5. For me the 2012 trip to O.A.R. town was a nice mix of older songs I vaguely knew and some interesting new material. Two early on highlights of tolerable O.A.R. moments of yesteryear were “City On Down” and “Black Rock.” Dare  I say the later was one of my favorites and I was glad to see it is still in rotation.

The thing that most impressed me was Jerry DePizzo on guitar. I don’t remember him playing guitar when I last saw them but he should ditch the sax and stick with it. DePizzo has an excellent ear for tones that beef up music that has always been too bland for my tastes. I understand that many feel that “Shattered” is the sellout point, but the guitar work of DePizzo on it was the best thing I heard all night. I also enjoyed the new number “Irish Rose” but I seem to be one of only a few who does as that was one of the few moments during the two hour show where drunk sluts managed to drown out the band with their moans for black cock (I am not making this up).

The energy inside the club (which was sold out for weeks) was intense. Knowing the band can pack 15,000+ seat venues back east, the crowd (made up of transplants and 14 people born within the state of California) truly erupted for the last song of the night. “Crazy Game of Poker” was the biggest gun in the O.A.R. arsenal a decade ago and it’s nice to see that is still the case. The throwing of cards at the band is a nice touch and I dug the vagina/lasagna rap that took place well past the 10 minute mark. It was a random and fun way to end a night with some truly incredible people. O.A.R. has come a long way since the days I trolled Pub24, and it was nice to reconnect with the boys from Maryland.

Electric Six 10/07/11: Key Club – West Hollywood, CA

Electric Six 10/07/11

Key Club – West Hollywood, CA

Words/Photos by Reverend Justito

I believe it started with a tweet, but perhaps it was a text. Regardless of tweet versus text it was a threat declaring that my ass was expected to be at the Key Club in West Hollywood on Friday night. If I was not at the Key Club, there would be serious consequences and repercussions of my action. While this may sound rather harsh, it was for my own good as my soul needed an intervention. A fan of the greats like Tenacious D, 2 Skinnee J’s and of course Ween my life was void of Electric Six for far too long and come high or hell water Steve and Johnny were going to make sure I saw the light.

From unsolicited packages left on my door containing mix CD’s to videos left upon my Facebook page my education of Electric Six beyond “Gay Bar” has been intense over the past 72 hours. Bashed into my brain I was grateful for a brief knowledge of the Detroit based Rock and Roll revival as I made my way into the Key Club well past 10:30pm. Before I was able to consume my first plastic cup filled with PBR the already exciting night was kicked up to a whole new level when I spotted my pal Matthew. One of the last folks I expected to see at the show he was in fine form celebrating the birth of a college friend and Electric Six fanatic. Now it really was a party and when the band walked on stage just past 11pm I knew that they would be the perfect soundtrack.

The group opened with a tasty new jam called “French Bacon” from their soon to be released 8th studio album Heartbeats and Brainwaves. The crowd played it cool as energetic front man Dick Valentine held his microphone stand high above the near capacity crowd. It wasn’t till the third song “Down at McDonnelzzz” that the devoted fan base began to bounce up and down smashing into each other. With the lightning quick delivery of the songs chorus from Valentine paying tribute to the Golden Arches performed perfectly I knew the intervention had worked and I was hooked. Then the band insulted my hometown.

That’s right, before launching into the country number “Pink Flamingos” the group bashed The City and its fans from the night before. As I quickly turned my World Champion San Francisco Giants hat around (I only have a few more weeks to brag, cut me some slack) and pointed to the orange SF the band launched into a song that reminded not so much of country music, but of a classic Bay Area punk band Pansy Division. Despite bashing my town, I had to laugh it off and assume that tonight in Costa Mesa they would bash West Hollywood.

An important observation from the evening that must be mentioned: Yes, fans bounced and gently moshed to classic Electric Six songs like “Jam It In The Hole,” “Danger! High Voltage” and “I Buy The Drugs.” Yet when the band busted out “Gay Bar” and “Gay Bar Part 2” it was the fluffiest straight up gayest most pit I have ever seen. It was more like dry humping rubbing fluffy ballet then a mosh pit and it totally worked. Oh and the one gal in the pit, she took an elbow to the face from a man grinding another man. Dude was so into it he didn’t even realize he connected Charles Barkley style with the gal.

The band had a unique connection with the audience by not connecting at all. At one point Valentine insisted in a daiquiri from the bar, yet when it was presented to him he totally ignored it. Fans up front would raise their hands in hope of a handshake or high five and were repeatedly ignored. The oblivious arrogance worked and made the crowd want the band that much more.

After an hour long set Valentine and friends left the stage to a thunderous applause. They quickly returned and informed us all they had not come here to play twelve songs, but in fact they had three more songs for a grand total of fifteen songs. The six piece tore through solid versions of “Synthesizer” and “We Were Witchy Witchy White Women,” yet it was the final number that the crowd had apparently waited for all night (I say this cause some dude behind me kept saying “I’ve been waiting for this all night”). “Dance Commander” lived up to its name as Valentine and company kicked it up one last time for a still energetic and downright worshipful audience. At the end of the song, Valentine dove into the crowd hugging and celebrating with anyone willing to come over. I watched from a distance as fan after fan walked away smiling from their moment with Valentine. I knew it was best to let all of them have their moment this time around I was not yet worthy. But know that next time I see Electric Six I will go and get my hug.

 

 

Bison b.c. Hit The Road In Support of Dark Ages

Bison b.c. Hit The Road In Support of Dark Ages

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.

BISON b.c.

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

End Tour

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

10/24   Thunder Bay, ON          Jack’s

10/26   Winnipeg, MB               The Zoo

10/27   Regina, SK                    The Exchange

10/28   Saskatoon, SK              Amigos

10/29   Edmonton, AB               Starlite Room

10/31   Calgary, AB                   Commonwealth

11/01   Fernie, BC                     The Northern

11/02   Kamloops, BC                Pogue Mahone

Summer Slaughter 07/22/11: House of Blues – West Hollywood, CA

The Summer Slaughter Tour 07/22/11 House of Blues – West Hollywood, CA Words/Photos by Reverend Justito

If I ever have a moment where my life flashes before my eyes, I look forward to revisiting July 22nd, 2011. I ran into Grace Potter on the streets of Hollywood. I got a bunch of great vinyl from Amoeba Records and I was lucky enough to score a ticket to the kickoff of the 2011 Summer Slaughter Tour. Yes, July 22nd was much better than the day where a bee sting put me in the hospital or the time that one gal broke my heart into a million pieces.

I made it to the House of Blues a few minutes before Oceano was set to take the stage. I was ready to head inside but then life threw me a curveball that I just had to hit out of the park. Yes, I really wanted to see Oceano and As Blood Runs Black and I’m bummed to have missed them. However, when you are presented the opportunity to enjoy happy hour with some of the performers higher up on the bill, you take that opportunity and run with it. I did make it into the sold out venue as Powerglove was wrapping up their special halftime performance. Being the only power metal video game theme cover band on a death metal festival, the crowd was clearly showing the love for Powerglove. That could have been fun, maybe next time?!?!

Dying Fetus

The only time I have seen Dying Fetus is when they woke up on my couch in Sherman Oaks, CA about a decade ago so there was no way I was missing the bands 25 minute set of death/grindcore goodness. On a pure technical level, Dying Fetus in my opinion was the most impressive band that I saw. Not to take away from anyone else on the bill, but to watch these guys (especially guitarist/vocalist John Gallagher) pull off these complex parts and schizophrenic tempo changes in person is a treat. Highlights of the brief set included “Shepherd’s Commandment” “Praise The Lord (Opium of the Masses)” and the final number “Your Treachery Will Die With You.”

Six Feet Under

Another legendary group I finally get to kick off my bucket list. I was actually at their Key Club show in 2006 (maybe 2005?) and had to leave early which I still regret to this day. The band opened with the Cannibal Corpse classic “Stripped, Raped and Strangled” as the very young crowd erupted into a massive swirling pit. Barnes kept banter between songs to a minimum instead choosing to crush the capacity crowd with classics like “Revenge of the Zombie” “Seed of Filth” and “Human Target.” The 30 minute set (which felt much more like 12 minutes at best) wrapped with another Cannibal classic “Hammer Smashed Face.” Perhaps it was Barnes announcing that he would be at the t-shirt stand outside after the set, but as soon as Six Feet Under left the stage, so did much of the crowd.

Darkest Hour

I knew nothing about Darkest Hour walking into the House of Blues on a night where LA had below average temps and rather clean air. Clinging to my small piece of rail above the club I noticed that when they began they had the smallest crowd I had seen all day and after watching their set I think I see why. Based off thirty minutes with these guys it feels as if are having an identity crisis. The older songs like “The Sadist Nation” felt like Death Metal. Some of the newer songs (including songs being performed live for the first time) felt as if there was a lot more melody. Not a melodic metal say The Black Dahlia Murder, but it almost felt as if it wanted to be a heavy 90’s fuzz rock melody but was afraid to go there. Imagine Hum playing Death Metal, that’s what it felt like to me. As I said earlier, I don’t know anything about this band, so if I am way off my rocker on this one, let me know via the comments below.

Whitechapel

It has been a little over a year since I saw Whitechapel at the Vans Warped Tour. While an entertaining performance, a new drummer mixed with an early afternoon set in the food court of a county fairground is not the ideal condition for these Knoxville based deathcore heroes. House of Blues on a Friday night is a different story. With this being my third Whitechapel live experience I was caught off guard at just how devastating the band was. From the opening notes of “Breeding Violence” to the closing “This Is Exile” the six piece band made you feel as if you were stranded at sea in the storm of the century with only an inflatable raft to hold. The triple guitar attack lead by Ben Savage sent the crowd into frenzy. The kids surrounding me were banging their heads and bouncing up and down in furious fashion during “Possession” and “End of Flesh” that I feared the balcony could collapse. It wouldn’t be a Whitechapel show without the band closing with a massive Wall of Death during “This Is Exile.” While the Ventura version was full of fail, on this Friday night in July the kids of Hollywood did not disappoint. Watch out America, Whitechapel is in the zone right now and with an entire tour ahead of them it’s scary to think just how destructive they will be at the conclusion.

The Black Dahlia Murder

I have said it before and I will say it again. The Black Dahlia Murder is the best metal band to emerge from America over the past decade. These guys get it. They are brutal, but can laugh at themselves. They fit the Concert Confessions format because like us they are fans. Where kids went and grabbed merch or water between acts all night, from the second Whitechapel left the stage to the moment The Black Dahlia Murder took to it the floor was packed. It was the main event and the masses were ready.

It made sense that the band kicked off an hour of madness with the opening track from the just released album Ritual. With the opening lyrics “Let us go out this evening for pleasure for the night is still young” “A Shrine To Madness” got the crowd moving despite the fact there was no room to move. A triple shot of classics including “A Vulgar Picture” and “Nocturnal” followed. It didn’t matter if it was a new song such as “Malenchanments of the Necrosphere” or a classic like “Miasma” the place was going nuts. Shout out to the wook in the mini skirt and polka dot underwear. Everyone up top got a good laugh at your crowd surfing antics.

 

One thing I have noticed about shows with The Black Dahlia Murder is that the energy from the band is fueled by the energy of the fans. The last two shows I saw had no guard rail and fans were free to get on stage and jump back into the crowd. On this night there was a large gap separating the fans and the band. All through the night you could see front man Trevor Strnad reaching for the crowd, greeting crowd surfers as they were escorted back to the pit by a hard working security crew. That need to connect that effort to reach each other was felt by all inside the house and I am still not sure if that struggle helped or hindered the music.


 

Personal highlights of the set include “Statutory Ape” “I Will Return” and “Funeral Thirst.” When it comes to The Black Dahlia Murder, the guys never disappoint which is why I see them again and again. The 2011 Summer Slaughter tour was an amazing day. If you are a fan of metal and it’s hitting your town you don’t want to miss it. Quick set changes, great bands and I believe all of the dates are inside so you don’t have to stink of sunblock.

 

Hate Eternal 06/20/11: Key Club – West Hollywood, CA

Vital Remains & Hate Eternal 06/20/11

Key Club – West Hollywood, CA

Words/Photos by Reverend Justito

I’d be lying if I didn’t say I felt like a bit of a douche today as I stare at a blank word document. If you have followed Concert Confessions over the past 2+ years, then you know that we are dedicated to providing live concert reviews of the bands we love. Any jerk off can head out to a show because he gets a free ticket and make statements such as…

 

Jade Simonetto’s hit his drums harder than Ryan Dunn’s Porsche hit that tree along the side of a Pennsylvania highway.

 

Or

 

Former Morbid Angel guitarist Erik Rutan lit his fret board up like illegal immigrants torching the forests of Northeast Arizona.



But that is the difference between Concert Confessions and other media outlets, we actually take pride in the information we pass along to the fans. So here is where I admit the truth – my knowledge of Hate Eternal is limited at best. It didn’t matter who was playing, with life kicking me in the backside the past few weeks I just wanted to escape into a smelly Sunset Strip club* for a few hours and have my ass handed to me by some loud fucking death metal.

I made my way into the Key Club about ½ way through the set of Vital Remains. Knowing it’s the best policy, I must be honest when I say I can’t tell if these guys are supposed to be funny or not. While categorized as Death Metal, the music felt more like a night with Girl Talk. Sure, I heard elements of Death Metal, but I also heard some thrash, some cookie monster rock, a pretty sweet groove that would have fit perfectly on the Wretch album by Kyuss and then there was that riff that I swear was “Going The Distance” by Cake. While some may feel distractions are welcome to a banner carrying member of the A.D.H.D family, I often found myself focused more on image vs. listening to the music. Vocalist Scott Wiley had those cool “metal singer” leather sleeves made of dead Italian cows. You know the ones; they lace up, have a few spikes on and drive all the pot belly Latinas crazy. Just looking at bassist “Gator” Collier you could tell that dude has seen Phish as many times as he has seen Iron Maiden. It was all in the Fragile Rock head bob. Then again, Mike Gordon and Steve Harris both have that Fragile Rock look, so perhaps it was more Maiden shows than Phish shows. I can tell you this much based off looks alone, dude has consumed massive amounts of good times at both. Then you had the stage right guitarists guitar, a monstrosity so epic I refuse to post instead I shall simply link to it. Don’t get me wrong, the band had some great riffs and the crowd went off big time. Yet with so many style changes and bad metal clichés, I really must wonder if perhaps I missed the joke?!?!?!

The main reason I hit the Key Club was Hate Eternal. I caught them about 18 months ago as part of the All Day/All Ages Metalfest down Sunset Blvd at the Palladium. It was one of those sets where afterwards I was like “Fuck yeah Hate Eternal I’m going to go buy everything they have released” but then days and weeks and months go buy and the cash I would have spent on records ended up going to the dentist, the 76 Station down the street and Target (because cat sand is really fucking expensive, just ask Danzig ok?). So I can tell you they played such hits as “Bringer of Storms”, “Phoenix Amongst The Ashes” and “I Monarch.” I can tell you that despite the fact Rutan was plagued by guitar issues all night, he didn’t allow that to wipe that warm (and very un-death-metal) smile off his face. I can tell you that the pit was solid and the Key Club security did a fine job of clearing a path for some poor Mexican kid who broke his ankle (perhaps just a high sprain, I am not a doctor but I play one on TV).  Fact is, Hate Eternal could have gotten on stage and performed Gaga covers and it would have kicked ass. All three members of the band are virtuosos of their craft and a must see for anyone who loves heavy music. Oh and fuck the cats, they can learn to use the toilet for all I care, I am blowing my paycheck this weekend on Hate Eternal albums.

 

 

*We love the Key Club and in many visits the place has smelled just fine. However on this the last day of Spring 2011, whomever was crop dusting the entire stage right side of the stage ALL FUCKING NIGHT should really go see a doctor.

She Wants Revenge w/ Nico Vega 05/23/11: Roxy – West Hollywood, CA

She Wants Revenge (w/ Nico Vega 05/23/11)

Roxy – West Hollywood, CA

Words/Photos by God Frank

About 5 years ago I was in a bar and saw the music video for These Things by She Wants Revenge. I’m not ashamed to say that I absolutely loved it and after streaming a couple more songs off their self-titled debut album I ran to Best Buy to add the disc to my collection. I’ve been a fan ever since even buying their sophomore release This is Forever without hearing even one track first. Okay, so what if they sound A LOT like Depeche Mode, but I like Depeche Mode! When I found out they were playing a show at the Roxy  I was very excite to get to see them live. I was even more excited to get tickets for free from a local radio station. So with a friend from work in tow I made the Monday trek to the Sunset Strip to see them celebrate the release of their third CD Valleyheart which was released the same day.

Opening for She Wants Revenge was the indie rock trio Nico Vega. When I found out late last week that they were the opening act I checked out a couple of their videos online. My response was pretty much “meh.” Two songs into their set “meh” turned into “bleh!” As the set continued however I started warming up to them. Consisting of only Rich Koehler on guitar, Dan Epand on drums and Aja Volkman on vocals they come off as a pseudo White Stripes with a dedicated singer.

Easily my favorite of the three was Dan Epand who while banging the drums really puts the spaz in spastic, and I mean that in a good way. Pounding out some pretty strong beats the mop haired monster really puts his whole body into it. Looking like a human version of Animal from the Electric Mayhem band on the Muppet Show, he was pretty entertaining to watch and a pretty damned good drummer too. During a song early in the set he got so into it that he literally knocked over a couple pieces of his drum set which had to be put back together before starting the next song. I probably shouldn’t have, but I got a kick out of that.

Rich Koehler was pretty good on guitar but a couple of times he seemed a little out of sync and out of tune. Aja Volkman was very inconsistent and at times was really good only to be pretty bad on the following song. My main issue with her was that all too often she seemed to be screaming the lyrics as opposed to singing them. With a little more experience and restraint however I could see her getting better and the band taking off.

In addition to vocals Aja does have some drumming ability in her as well. A few songs into the (let’s say) 50 minute set she joined Dan behind the drums and they both banged away in what was for me the highlight of their portion of the show. I’ll admit I don’t know any of their music, so I won’t be able to name any individual songs by Nico Vega but I can say I actually kind of enjoyed their uptempo stuff significantly more than the slower songs. I can’t say that I would ever go out of my way to watch them again, but if they were opening for another band that I wanted to see I would make sure to catch their set to see if they get better.

After a short break it was time for the main act to take the stage. As mentioned earlier this was the special release show for their new CD which dropped the same day. In a way that is kinda cool, but in another way it kinda sucks. Obviously the band wants to promote the new release, but very few people in the crowd have actually had the opportunity to hear any of the new songs except for the possibly the first single for which the video has been streaming on their website for a couple of weeks.

The band mitigated this by alternating between a new song and a song from one of the first two CDs. In doing this the show flowed quite well giving the fans such favorites as “These Things” and “True Romance” while also introducing us to the newer jams “Kiss Me” and “Reasons” amongst the others.

After bouncing back and forth between old and new songs for about an hour everyone left the stage for a moment while Adam 12 (Bravin) stood alone on stage playing the solemnly melodic “Disconnect” from their debut album. When the song was done Justin Warfield and the others (I’m assuming Scott Ellis and Thomas Froggatt although that was never confirmed) rejoined Adam on stage and Justin informed the crowd that they wanted to do something special that night and they performed a stripped down almost (but not quite) acoustic version of technically their biggest hit “Tear You Apart.” While the crowd seemed to dig it, I was a little disappointed. It just didn’t sound quite right to me. I did appreciate the effort in changing things up a little bit.

After tear you apart they played the current single from their new CD, a track called “Must Be the One.” It’s a solid track, but I would have released “Up in Flames” first myself, but that’s just me.

Earlier in the night Justin asked how many people in the club were seeing them live for the first time. To my surprise about half of the hands in the club went up. Knowing that half the people there hadn’t seen them before, Justin now addressed the crowd to inform us that they do not do the typical, save your best songs for a planned encore and do a fake walk off the stage. They out it all out there with their main set and play until they are done. I don’t know about anyone else I really appreciated that. I am quite tired of the planned encore that everyone does these days and it was nice knowing that when the show was over, it was over.

So announcing that they only had two songs left they went back to their first album for “Red Flags and Long Nights”. When the song ended Adam began to announce their last song only by saying that it was the song they always end with, but before he could finish Justin interrupted him and the band huddled for an extra unplanned song. I know it was from their first disc, but honestly at the moment I can’t remember the name of the song.

Then it was onto their actual last song, which turned out to be favorite song of theirs. Asking everyone to sing along and dance they brought the house down with “Out of Control.” Even though it’s not their biggest hit from a sales stand point and I don’t even think they ever made a video for it, it was hands down the biggest song of the night with the capacity (maybe even over capacity) crowd singing along and dancing as much as they could in a room that had everyone jam packed like sardines.

Heading out into the cool night air everyone was very satisfied and while I was dreading a long Tuesday at work with very little sleep I didn’t regret the late night in anyway (except for maybe the ridiculous parking ticket I got).

BTW, sorry for the weak pictures, I forgot my camera at home and couldn’t get close enough to stage to get better pictures with my phone.

Amon Amarth 04/24/11: House of Blues – West Hollywood, CA

Amon Amarth 04/24/11

House of Blues – West Hollywood, CA

Words/Photos by Reverend Justito

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.

The 2011 Summer Slaughter Tour Dates Announced

The 2011 Summer Slaughter Tour Dates Announced

Dates for the fifth annual Summer Slaughter tour have been announced. The month long trek will kick off in West Hollywood, CA on July 22nd before wrapping on August 21st in Dallas, TX. Concert Confessions favorites The Black Dahlia Murder and Whitechapel are set to headline the package tour. Also included in the trek are Darkest Hour, Six Feet Under, Dying Fetus, As Blood Runs Black, Oceano, Fleshgod Apocalypse and Powerglove.

Dates and venues are listed below. As always keep your eyes on the official site as dates/venues may change.

Summer Slaughter TourDates:

Jul. 22 – West Hollywood, CA – House of Blues
Jul. 23 – Anaheim, CA – The Grove
Jul. 25 – Portland, OR – Roseland Theatre
Jul. 26 – Seattle, WA – King Cat Theatre
Jul. 28 – Sacramento, CA – Ace Of Spades
Jul. 29 – San Francisco, CA – The Fillmore
Jul. 30 – San Diego, CA – House Of Blues
Jul. 31 – Scottsdale, AZ – The Venue Scottsdale
Aug. 02 – Denver, CO – Summit Music Hall
Aug. 04 – Louisville, KY – Expo Five
Aug. 05 – Detroit, MI – St. Andrews
Aug. 06 – Milwaukee, WI – The Rave
Aug. 07 – Cleveland, OH – House Of Blues
Aug. 08 – Chicago, IL – House Of Blues
Aug. 09 – Toronto, ON – Sound Academy
Aug. 10 – Montreal, QC – Olympia
Aug. 11 – New York, NY – Irving Plaza
Aug. 12 – Worcester, MA – The Palladium
Aug. 13 – Philadelphia, PA – Theatre Of Living Arts
Aug. 14 – Sayreville, NJ – Starland Ballroom
Aug. 16 – Atlanta, GA – The Masquerade
Aug. 17 – Ft. Lauderdale, FL – Revolution
Aug. 19 – Houston, TX – House Of Blues
Aug. 20 – San Antonio, TX – Backstage Live
Aug. 21 – Dallas, TX – House Of Blues

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EWYTCdJmkDA

Plan B Hops the Pond & Rocks the Troubadour

Plan B 1/13/11

Troubadour – West Hollywood, CA

Words and photos by God Frank

Okay, I’ll admit it. I knew absolutely nothing about Ben Drew and Plan B until Tuesday of this week. Having built up an obscene amount of Rockaholics points on the 98.7fm website I traded in my points for a bunch of contest entries for a bunch of different bands/contests. Just my luck, the one contest I won was for the one band I knew nothing about. But hey, I’m not gonna turn down a free show and obviously I have the internet, so I did some research online, watched some youtube videos and decided this could be a decent show. That turned out to be quite an understatement.

So with minimal knowledge of Plan B’s music (I think I only heard 6 songs online) I headed out to The Troubadour on Thursday night to hear what the 98.7 and Plan B websites touted as the #1 selling artist in the UK in 2010.

So for those of you who, like me 3 days ago, know nothing about Plan B, the “B” stands for Ben Drew who is the lead singer. Even after reading the official Plan B website and the unofficial Wikipedia page, I’m not totally sure if Plan B is the full band and all the members are full time Plan B members, or if Plan B is just Ben’s alter ego and the band is just his touring band. I apologize in advance if I reference them incorrectly during this review. With that, onto the show!

After a particularly uninspiring DJ set from someone whose name I can’t remember and I don’t think I would bother to give him a mention if I did remember, and lights went down and a Brit who is NOT Ben Drew came out on stage. I thought he was just there to introduce the band. Much to my initial chagrin it turned out to be a beat boxer named Faith SFX who was there to warm up the crowd. People who think they can beat box are a dime a dozen. People who are actually good at it are incredibly rare. So when Faith SFX came out I was a little concerned. That concern was very short-lived however.

Faith SFX is actually talented as hell, not only beat boxing, but imitating various instruments before he started playing actual songs that almost sounded like they were coming from a full band using nothing more than his mouth. When he busted out “I Like To Move It” he actually had the entire club dancing and cheering. His job was to warm up the crowd and he more than achieved that goal. After my initial trepidation, he not only won me over, but completely impressed me. He could have performed for another 20 minutes and nobody in the club would have minded, including me. But alas we were there for Ben Drew and Plan B, so with the crowd effectively worked up into a frenzy, they took the stage.

You know you aren’t watching a US band when everyone comes out dressed nicely in vests and ties, looking like they are ready for a night on the town rather than playing in a band. Starting with “Writings on the Wall” and quickly transitioning into “Free,” Ben and the band began a night of soul that was entertaining, fun, and completely unexpected.

The third song of the night was “Pray,” which I have to say, was the one song I listened to earlier in the week that I wasn’t impressed with. While the original version is still not a favorite of mine, they mixed up the song a little bit for the show, picking up the tempo and adding some more guitar riffs which had me really enjoying the performance. Then midway through the song during a musical break Ben asked the crowd if we liked reggae and then they proceeded to switch up the music and did a reggae version of the song for the next verse. After the reggae verse, he again switched things up asking the crowd if they liked rock going semi-hard core for the rest of the song. It was pretty impressive. When you can take my least favorite song for your band and turn it into one of the highlights of the night, you have some serious talent, and that was exactly what they did.

After a couple strong performances of “Welcome 2 Hell” and “Love Goes Down” I was completely sold on Plan B. Instead of taking it easy though, Ben and the boys amped things up even more with a completely rousing performance of “The Recluse” which was hands down the highlight of the main set. They had the entire club dancing and singing along. At this point I was officially a fan.

Then two songs later they finished their main set, way too early, with what I believe is Plan B’s biggest hit so far, “She Said.” It was a fantastic performance but then Ben said good-night to the crowd and the entire band left the stage after only a 45 minute set. That is probably the one negative I would say about the night. If you are a headliner, you really should play at least an hour long set.

Luckily though, the crowd wouldn’t let them stop and kept screaming, demanding an encore. Ben and the band was more than happy to oblige and came back out to play some more.

After announcing that he wanted to play some songs that inspired him and that he grew up on, they played a medley of old soul classics. From Smokey Robinson (“Tracks of my Tears”) to the Temptations (“My Girl”) it was a very unexpected set, but the surprises were just beginning.

Out of nowhere, Faith SFX joined the band on stage and started beat boxing adding a hip hop flavor to incredible performances of “Ain’t No Sunshine” and “Kiss from a Rose.” Both songs were flat out amazing. It was completely inspired and showed true artistry from both Plan B and Faith SFX. I wish there was video of those performances because I would watch them both over and over again. That transitioned into Ben going back to his rap roots with a reimagining of  Eminem’s “Forgot about Dre,” naturally replacing Dre with “B.”

Need another surprise? At this point Ben addressed the crowd before the final song to say how special it was to be playing the Troubadour because one of his mentor’s started his career there, and then he pointed out that Elton John was in the house up in the balcony! Having noticed online that Ben and Elton performed a duet together last year I thought for a moment that we were gonna get treated to a repeat performance of that duet. Alas, that was not in the cards. Thanks for the tease Ben!

There was still one more song to go though, and for the last song of the night Plan B broke out what was easily my favorite song, “Stay Too Long.” It’s a phenomenal mix of soul, rock and rap that gets me dancing every time I hear it. If Ben or anyone at the record label reads this, that is your single to cross over into the US! I could easily see hearing it on the radio here in the states.

It’s a high energy party song that had the entire place jumping out of their shoes. With Faith SFX and Ben starting a band mosh pit on stage, and the crowd starting a mini mosh pit on the floor, that was for me the highlight of the evening and a perfect way to end the night.

Unfortunately, this was the second stop on a very short, 2-stop US tour and Plan B is on the way to New Zealand as I write this. So those of you here in the states may have a long wait until you get to experience what was easily one of the best shows I’ve seen in years. The show did sell out a few days ahead of time though, so we can hope for a return trip to the states soon.

Warpaint 12/10/10: Troubadour – West Hollywood, CA

Warpaint 12/10/10

Troubadour – West Hollywood, CA

Words/Photos by Reverend Justito/concertconfessions.com

There is a moment in life and if you blink you very well may miss it.  It’s that moment when a mother bird pushes her offspring from the nest and watches as the youngster fully spreads its wings and flies away.  On the first full weekend of December 2010, Los Angeles watched local favorites Warpaint make the first leap of what appears to be a very long and successful flight with two sold out shows at the historic Troubadour.

My night started by catching most of the opening set with Aska. To be fair, I was more focused on the conversation of the two twats standing to my right  then what some would call music coming from the stage. The conversation about late rent and crappy co-workers was the perfect distraction from Aska and her coffee shop rock.  Strike that: This shit shouldn’t be permitted in coffee shops, it’s that fucking bad. Aska is not a strong vocalist, and her guitar playing is limited at best.  There may be meaning in the lyrics, but the presentation was so dull I was certainly not motivated to focus. If there was a highlight of the singer/songwriter set it was the moment she ditched the cello player and brought out a ninja who dabbled in Lucha Libre wrestling. The dude knows how to rock a laptop, that’s for sure.  Aska – just give it up already and go back to your day job.

Met with a hero’s welcome from the capacity crowd, Warpaint took the stage just past 10:15 pm. The foursome kicked off the set with the bouncy “Bees.”  From the first notes, the band had the crowd hypnotized with their tight and melodic sound.  Over the next 75 minutes, the local ladies grip on the audience’s collective consciousness tightened as the foursome performed the perfect mix of songs from their 2008 debut EP and the recently released full length album The Fool.

From the outside looking in, there is no evidence of ego which allows the musicians to form a tight and cohesive vehicle for the music. Warpaint has taken shoe-gaze rock and made it ethereal with a brilliant landscape of lo-fi guitar tones and lush vocal harmonies. The band pushed this sound to the max with well received numbers like “Stars”, “Undertow” and “Burgundy.”  The unquestionable highlight of the night was the Emily Kokal lead “Baby.”  The softest song in Warpaint’s small but powerful catalogue, all in attendance knew just how lucky they were to be seeing this band in this venue at this time.  After all, it’s easy to imagine thousands of fans holding lighters and cell phone high above their heads during “Baby” when the band headlines your local Enormo-Dome in the near future.

An incredible live act with amazing records, Warpaint truly can do it all.  The band proved just that with their encore – “Beetles.”  Clocking in at just under ten minutes, “Beetles” is the perfect Bonnaroo meets Coachella end all be all jam.  The minimalistic Smiths meet Bjork indie rocker winds up stealing a few moves from the Phish playbook in route to becoming an all-out late night dance attack.  As the final notes rang through the PA and the house lights came up, the crowd released a collective sigh as we discovered the night was over.  As we filed out onto the street we all knew how lucky we were to see Warpaint on this particular night.  Warpaint has outgrown the cities club scene and are well on the way to being the latest local band to go national.  You have no excuse to miss them in 2011.

Allegaeon 11/20/10: Cat Club – West Hollywood, CA

Allegaeon (w/ The Kingsford Run & Jameson) 11/20/10

Cat Club – West Hollywood, CA

Words/Photos by Reverend Justito

There are times in your life, when you stand in a small room and watch a band outgrow the venue within moments of taking the stage.  You have that rush that comes across your body when you realize you are in on the secret long before the rest of the world.  I had those feelings last night at the smallest of Sunset Strip venues – the Cat Club.  Within that club, myself and a handful of others were lucky enough to witness the first Los Angeles area gig of the Ft. Collins, Colorado based band Allegaeon.

The night started out with Simi Valley based The Kingsford Run.  I saw these guys play in a garage once and was blown away, so you know I was disappointed when I discovered I had incorrect set times and missed their set.  Please accept my apologies gentlemen, I promise that we will cross paths again.

I did manage to catch a full set from the Los Angeles based outfit Jameson.  To be totally honest, I still don’t know how I feel about these guys.  The music was not bad, and the energy was certainly there.  The songs had plenty of crunchy riffs, massive breakdowns and scale climbing solos, yet in my opinion failed to stand out or sound original.  Perhaps that’s the reason why Jameson works so well?  One look into the young crowd and the fans struggling to obey the venues no moshing rule looked more like extras from the set of 90210 then your stereotypical metal fans.  With expensive wardrobes straight off of Rodeo Drive, the crowd went nuts throughout the entire set and cheered so loud that the band was given permission to perform one more song as encore.  While many screamed for the group’s cover of the Michael Jackson classic “Beat It” – we were instead treated to the original number – “Insane-O-Flex.”  It seems as if Jameson has a following.  Time will tell to see if they can make it to the next level.

With no intro music and a minimal soundcheck, Allegaeon came out of the gates running for their short but sweet Hollywood debut.  The band opened the seven song set with the fierce “Across the Folded Line.”  It was clear from the get go that the Cat Club was too small for the young band.  Vocalist Ezra Haynes really had to work to find the right pockets of space to operate without being hit upside the head by guitars played by Ryan Glisan and Greg Burgess.  The groups set consisted entirely of songs from their first full length release – Fragments of Form and Function. Songs like “The God Particle” and “The Cleansing” got fans pumped up early, especially when the earlier mentioned Glisan and Burgess took turns tearing up their fret boards with some of the fastest soloing I have ever seen.

As the set progressed, the music only improved.  As fans crowded into the small room, the band blasted through spot on versions of “The Renewal” and “Biomech – Vals No. 666.”  With limited touring experience, the band already sounds polished and tight.  It’s scary to think what they can achieve after a few months in a van criss-crossing the nation.  The five-some wrapped their set with “Accelerated Evolution” a seven minute journey that managed to match melody equally with brutality.  With the crowd going wild, Allegaeon was also allowed to perform an eighth and final song.  From their self-titled and self-produced 2008 EP, the band managed to convince the Los Angeles crowd to scream along during a devastating take on “Cower Before Me.”

It’s safe to say Allegaeon’s Sunset Strip debut was a smashing success.  With a long merch line after the show, it’s clear the band won the crowd over with their tremendous talent and massively heavy sound.  With plans to tour across the nation in 2011, if you are a fan of extreme music you have no excuse to miss Allegaeon.

GWAR 11/16/10: House of Blues – West Hollywood, CA

GWAR w/ The Casualties 11/16/10

House of Blues – West Hollywood, CA

Words/Photos by Reverend Justito

Oh the House of Blues on Sunset Blvd.  Where a tall boy of Bud Light is $11 and video cameras are not welcomed because it looks bad when fans videotape security guards beating the shit out of fellow fans.  While you won’t catch me paying for a ticket to the venue that the late great George Carlin declared needed to be burnt down, I have no issue checking out a show for free.  Thus the reason you’re about to read this review of the awesome double-threat of The Casualties and GWAR rocking the venues soon to be demolished Sunset Strip location.

Walking into the venue, I noticed a sign posted over the venues overly racist décor.  It declared that audio and video recordings were against the rules and equipment would be confiscated.  You know this only further encouraged me to snag some footage in glorious HD (update 08/20/2011. After losing my YouTube account in May, the footage for this and a few other November shows is missing from my hard drive. Mother fucker).  So I made my way up the stairs, found a spot and parked my ass right down just as The Casualties were hitting the stage.

I am not going to act as if I am some hardcore fan of The Casualties, because I am not.  I have heard a few songs over the years, and based off the words of their devoted fan base was eager to check out the “insanity” that ensues when the New York based band hits the stage.  For 45 minutes, the near capacity crowd was treated to a set of what punk is all about – authentic attitude and aggression.  Kids with colorful Mohawks used the venues main floor to bounce off each other as the band ripped through songs like “War is Business”, “Heart Bleeds Black” and a cover of The Ramones classic “Blitzkrieg Bop.”  The group even took a page from the metal heads playbook and split the rowdy crowd in tow for a massive Wall of Death during the song “Riot.”  When lead vocalist Jorge Herrera was not speaking to the crowd en Espanol (much to the delight of many young Latinos in the crowd) the group was thanking GWAR fans having an open mind and getting down with them on a Tuesday night.  The fearless foursome closed their set with “Unknown Soldier” which gave a whole new generation of gutter punks’ one last chance to inflict insanity upon each other.

During the switch over between bands, one could see a radical change upon the main floor of House of Blues.  Gone were bright Mohawks, leather jackets and plaid pants.  They were replaced by a sea of young men and women dressed in white t-shirts, itching for a bath made of intergalactic blood and urine via GWAR leader and Fox News correspondent Oderus Urungus.  When Urungus and his backing band (featuring members with names such as Beefcake the Mighty and Balsac the Jaws of Death) hit the stage at 10:30pm sharp – the crowd was surged forward looking to get that first taste of blood.

The band is currently deep into the second year of their 25th Anniversary Tour.  Per Urungus – this entailed that we were to party twice as hard, and the crowd did just that.  It did not matter if the band was playing a new song from the recently released Bloody Pit of Horror, or a classic jam like “Vlad the Impaler” the fans were soaking up every note ringing through the PA.

Of course, a GWAR show is not a GWAR show without murder.  Upon the stage at House of Blues on this November night, Urungus and his slaves welcomed pop superstar Lady Gaga to the stage.  After she was allowed to eat human feces and shoot blood from her titties, Urungus did the world a favor and killed the multi-platinum singer/songwriter.  A machine very similar to Bumblebee from the Transformers movies also met his maker towards the end of the set as the band rocked along with a smoking version of “Beat You to Death.”

With the rowdy crowd chanting GWAR loudly, Urungus wasted no time telling them to shut up before launching into a five song encore.  Interestingly enough, the first four songs just so happened to be the first four songs from Bloody Pit of Horror.  One look down on the rowdy floor and one saw just that.  Fans soaked in blood, sweat and whatever Urungus was squirting out of his giant cod-shaped cock.  Yet it was the final song that really sent the crowd into pure euphoria.  Informing the masses that they would return next year to celebrate their 27th anniversary, the band launched into their biggest hit – “Sick of You.”  For the first time all night, you could look across the venue and see everyone (even the few remaining fans of The Casualties) pumping fists and singing along.

Even if you hate loud and aggressive metal music, everyone owes it to themselves to witness GWAR live at some point in their life.  The bands theatrics put jokes like Insane Clown Posse, Lordi and Marilyn Manson to shame.  While Alice Cooper may have created shock rock, GWAR has spent 25 years perfecting it.  Next time the band is in your neck of the woods, put on a white t-shirt and get messy with the living legends.

Over the Rhine 11/12/10: The Troubadour – West Hollywood, CA

Over the Rhine (w/ Lucy Wainwright Roche) 11/12/10

The Troubadour – West Hollywood, CA

Words/Photos by Reverend Justito/concertconfessions.com

In the 20 months since I have started concertconfessions.com, I have received numerous last minute invites to concerts.  This past Thursday, I got perhaps the most unexpected and yet rewarding invite of all.  It was a message from my Mother who lives 400 miles away in the Bay Area.  She asked if I wanted to check out Over the Rhine with her at The Troubadour in West Hollywood, CA.  While I knew she was a big fan of the Husband and Wife duo, the last thing on my radar was my Mother sneaking into town via Southwest Airlines and getting me on the list for a Friday night at The Troubadour.

The night kicked off with a quick opening set from Lucy Wainwright Roche.  If those last names sound familiar it’s because she is the daughter of Loudon Wainwright III and Suzzy Roche.  I am just going to come out and say this:  As a straight white male who loves heavy metal, sports, chaos and destruction; the last thing I am looking for on a Friday night is some gal up on stage with an acoustic guitar and a microphone.

With that said, I will admit that Lucy’s set was better than expected.  While songs such as “A&E” left a lot to be desired, Lucy’s humorous banter between songs truly makes you want to root her on.  Hell, I wonder if perhaps she should ditch the guitar and switch her focus to stand-up comedy.  The obvious highlight of her opening set was her father joining in on two songs.  It’s clear this is where she gets her humor for as the senior Wainwright joked about puking back by the bathrooms during a James Taylor gig at the Troubadour a few decades earlier.  While I was not rushing to the merch table to get in on the two for $20 Compact Disc deal, Lucy Wainwright Roche did a fine job of warming the stage for the main event, which in this case is really all you can ask for.

After a quick set change, headliners Over the Rhine hit the tiny stage.  The husband and wife duo of Linford Detweiler and Karin Bergquist hypnotized the respectful and attentive crowd with a two hour set that featured sneak previews of the groups upcoming record The Long Surrender as well as a solid dose of material the duo have written over the past twenty years.

I’ll admit, I didn’t know much about the band walking into the venue.  However, I was won over early into the show when Bergquist read a poem from one of my all-time favorites – Charles Bukowski.  The poem is called “Bluebird” and it led into a beautiful song with the same name.  When not dazzling with outstanding musicianship, the band is cracking the crowd up with hilarious stage banter.  From the heart in Berquist stories to the long rambling rants of Detweiler, often times the crowd didn’t know if they should laugh, cry or perhaps a lil of both.

With the show being in the City of Angels, we were blessed to watch Over the Rhine welcome some very special guests to the stage.  Acclaimed singer/songwriter Lucinda Williams took to the stage and lent her talents on the soft and haunting song “Undamned.”  Later in the evening, the band brought out friend and recent collaborator Joe Henry.  Henry performed two songs including a moving version of “The Sharpest Blade.”

While the show had many highlights on a musical level, the highlight for me was watching my Mom.  I didn’t realize just how big a fan she was of Over the Rhine till she decided to come down last minute to see them.  Watching her get lost in the music was something that words can’t describe.  I have been blessed with numerous backstage passes over the years.  However, to have my own mother get me backstage at the Troubadour to meet the band was pretty incredible.  After all, I owe my musical addiction to her.  My earliest memories of music are her playing piano in our home.  Hell, I am convinced I can remember hearing her play songs by Carole King and Elton John while I was in the womb.  So thank you to my Mom for not only taking me down to the Troubadour on a Friday night, but for a lifelong addiction to music.

 

Mike Gordon 11/06/10: Troubadour – West Hollywood, CA

Mike Gordon 11/06/10

Troubadour – West Hollywood, CA

Words/Photos by Reverend Justito/concertconfessions.com

As some of you may recall, I wrote a rather nasty open letter to Phish a few months back.  It’s not easy being a fan of the band in the Pacific Time Zone and I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that my coast has been largely overlooked.  So when news broke that Phish bassist Mike Gordon would kick off his own fall tour at the tiny Troubadour in West Hollywood, CA I made sure to get my tickets right away.  If this was the only live appearance by a member of Phish in Los Angeles County for 2010, then there was no way I was going to miss it.

It’s a good thing I did get those tickets right away as the show sold out moments after going on sale.  All up and down Santa Monica Blvd fans did their best to find an extra, however from what I could tell there were none to be had.  My goal was to get into the venue early and grab the front row of the balcony; however after some box office confusion I ended up in what would be the second row of the main GA floor.  This was a blessing in disguise, as I realized during the nights first song “Sound” that I was less than three feet away from the man often referred to as Cactus.

Supporting his most recent release Moss, the night featured a few songs from the new record as well as classic Gordo cuts and a plethora of covers.  Gordon and guitarist Scott Murawski synchronized jumping during “Dig Further Down” got the crowd pumped up early on.  In fact, I was shocked at how energetic the usually reserved Gordon was.  One Cactus outburst came during the Beatles cover “She Said, She Said.”  With an unusual device that I can only describe as a drum machine meets a bomb detonation device, Gordon allowed fans up front to take a quick solo during an extended jam.

I personally feel the highlights of set one were the two new covers Gordon debuted.  The first was the Tower of Power classic “Down To The Nightclub.”  One couldn’t help but smile when Gordon sung the opening lines “It’s Saturday night and I’m just hanging out – looking for a place to party.”  However it was a cover of the David Essex one hit wonder “Rock On” that not only took the crowd by surprise, but was the hands down highlight of set one.  Gordon and company gave the song a cold almost mechanical feel and stretched it well past 10 minutes as it morphed into “Susskind Hotel.”  The set closed with a rocking “Idea” as many fans snuck off the crowded GA floor and marched back to the bar to get a head start on drinking during set break.

The second set got off to a great start with the opening track from Moss called “Can’t Stand Still.”  Many fans pogoed and bounced as Gordon lead his backing band through the melodic number.  As the set progressed, we witnessed the live debut of “I Sure Miss My Mind” featuring keyboardist Tom Cleary on lead vocals.   The song was enjoyable, but it stuck out like a sore thumb compared to the other bass heavy jams.  Any momentum lost was quickly recovered with the Phish song – “Sugar Shack.”  With fans cracking Mike up with chants for “Fuck Your Face” and “Harpua” all night, “Sugar Shack” was the lone Phish song blessed upon Southern California this year.

The covers continued as the band performed both a moody version of the Gillian Welch song “Time (The Revelator)” and a funkified cover of the 70’s instrumental “River Niger.”  Where covers were the highlight of the first set, the musical highlight of set II was the closing “15 Step>Another Door.”  Anyone who knows anything about music is aware that Gordon is one of the most under-rated bassist in rock music.  Since the return of Phish, Cactus has really upped his playing to a whole new level and to stand two feet from the man upon such a tiny stage was an amazing experience.

Before chants of Cactus could really take off, the band was back on stage for an encore (no joke, I think they were off stage for about 45 seconds).  Playing the lone song from his solo debut Inside In the crowd was treated to funky version of “Soulfood Man.”  For one final time the So-Cal jam fans that were lucky enough to make it into the intimate venue got their fix of 1/4th of Phish.  With Gordon going slap happy on his 5 string bass, smiles were plentiful and all who made it in were thankful for a wonderful night of music.

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