Words/photos by Reverend Justito – concertconfessions.com
It took me 15+ years to see my first Helmet concert. I only had to wait 40 days for round two with the criminally underappreciated metal band. A lot has changed in 5 ½ weeks since I watched Helmet destroy Redondo Beach. I was correct in my prediction to Helmet main man Page Hamilton that the 49ers would have won at least one game in that time. However, another major sports feat has gone down and much to my delight it allowed me the opportunity to be booed by the entire Key Club. But before I brag to you about an incredible end to an amazing week, let’s talk about some music.
For a moment I feared not making it into the Sunset Strip venue. I had a spot on the guest list, yet according to the large bouncer outside the door my legal name was not on any list. After showing him my confirmation e-mail and with the promise to buy a drink or two, I was allowed into the venue (thank you). Former Trustkill artist Open Hand had already hit the stage and after making good on my promise I had no problem finding a spot up front. I was introduced to the band from a friend about two years ago who had brought over the demos of what would become the bands most recent record Honey. Within seconds of the music hitting my ears, I was hooked.
With the room 50% full, Open Hand did a fine job of winning over numerous souls consuming their first cocktail of the night. Songs like “You and Me” and “Jaded” got the we are cool, we are Hollywood and it’s too early to stand up front but we will nod our heads because we really fucking respect you treatment from the crowd. However, the highlight of the brief opening set was Open Hand sticking it to the Key Club. Told to get off stage, the bands leader Justin Isham fought for one more song. With an angry stage manager and beefy security on the side of stage ready to pounce upon Open Hand, the band reached backed and bitch slapped everyone inside the Key Club with their self-proclaimed best song “Hard Night.” An epic number that feels much like Hum meets Kyuss while being totally unique – while Open Hand may have managed to get themselves black listed from the Key Club the 200+ folks in attendance were clearly won over on the first Friday in November.
Before Intronaut hit the stage, I knew the band only in name. Someone once told me they were space metal, however I had no clue what that meant. Hell after seeing the band, I still have no clue what it means, but that sure as hell didn’t prevent me from being won over by the “post-metal” band from Los Angeles, CA. For a lack of a better term, Intonaut is a thinking man’s metal band. One part prog, one part jazz fusion with a ton of sludge, doom and death thrown in for flavor, the band has a massive sound that right off the bat made the Key Club feel small and inadequate. They are one of those bands where you wish you knew every song walking in, because watching these guys pull these unfamiliar songs off live on stage was nothing short of incredible. If you are a fan of Tool, Mastodon and Isis then Intronaut is for you.
As I have already mentioned, this was my second time seeing Helmet in 40 days. With the club near capacity, the band took the stage and opened up with the melodic yet rocking “Swallowing Everything.” From there the show was off and running as the band snuck the new song “So Long” in between Aftertaste favorites “Birth Defect” and “Exactly What You Wanted.” I felt the set progressed nicely, as songs from the just released Seeing Eye Dog mixed with Helmet classics. Yet, one look around me and it’s rather obvious a majority of fans only wants to hear the band play songs from Meantime and Betty. It’s the reason a pit of four drunken tools breaks out during “Iron Head” while the very same individuals stand around looking bored during “Welcome to Algiers.”
Where Hamilton and company basically ditched the setlist halfway through the Redondo Beach show, there was no negotiating on this the final night of the bands lengthy North American tour. It actually seemed as if the setlist was designed to fuck with the simple minded masses. Old material was played, however the band refused to play the huge hits the crowd begged for. Cries for “Unsung”, “I Know” and “Biscuits For Smut” were ignored as the band instead decided to rock tight versions of “Black Top”, Repetition” and “Tic.”
For me, the highlight wasn’t the music, as much as it was a rare moment of stage banter. Someone mentioned Hamilton’s Portland Trailblazers sweatbands and he got onto the topic of sports. During this moment he spotted me in my San Francisco Giants hat and as he pointed me out he congratulated me and my team for winning the 2010 World Series. On a high all week long from my teams first World Championship since my grandmother was seven months pregnant with my father I was of course booed by the Dodgers loving Southern California crowd. As I turned from the front of the stage and egged the volatile crowd on a huge shit eating grin crossed my face. How could it not, the Giants are baseball champions of the world.
The band closed their set with a three song encore. After shaking hands with fans up front (and informing many that there was no chance in hell “Unsung” was being played) the band kicked things off with “Crisis King”. From there, the crowd was enthused by powerful back to back action packed powerhouse jams “Wilma’s Rainbow” and “In The Meantime.” Fans got crazy one last time and for Helmet a very long tour came to an end. After the last chord was played, the band greeted fans up front with handshakes and fist bumps. Hamilton and I once again discussed 49ers football (he called the week 7 loss to Carolina the clubs most embarrassing in years) and I thanked him for two truly wonderful autumn nights in the year 2010.
Unearth/All That Remains/Asking Alexandria 10/16/10
House of Blues – West Hollywood, CA
Words & Photos by Reverend Justito/concertconfessions.com
When a last minute invite came my way to check out the next to last Unearth show of 2010, I knew I couldn’t turn it down. Having just celebrated my beloved San Francisco Giants beating the Phillies in game one of the 2010 NLCS, I made it inside the venue just in time to catch the massive Massachusetts metal band perform way too early on a bill of bands that I struggle to find nice things to write about. But enough with this useless introduction, it’s time to share with you the tales of another insane evening in which I was treated like a VIP for the simple fact that I registered a domain name.
All That Remains
All That Remains – Golden Gods 2009: Club Nokia Los Angeles, CA
Walking into House of Blues, I was aware that All That Remains was top dog on an akward bill that featured mediocre mallcore and Unearth. I admit, I missed the bands set (which as I am told featured Unearth guitarist Buz McGrath performing butt naked) and I am fine with that. Having met a few members of the band, I must say they are a class act, and very generous. However, when it comes to their music, it is not my thing. I have heard albums,
and while not bad it is just not my thing. Best wishes to them (rumor has it their just released album will have a very solid debut on Billboard) but on this particular evening, I chose friends over watching you do your thing.
***Updated July 2011***
8 months after I posted one video of Asking Alexandria, Sumerian Records had my YouTube account with over 700 bands deleted. I wanted to share with you below all about how select members of this band were looking to sodomize underage girls post set, but figured I would take the high road instead. As the world knows, the founder of Sumerian Records was a former video game pirate who REALLY HATES when folks steal from his business. So hey, delete the one video I had up HELPING your band, but leave all that awesome footage of your band acting like a bunch of drunk dicks in Seattle up.
As I sit and write this, I wish I was Perez Hilton. The things I could tell you about these guys and how they acted backstage – pure tabloid delight. Instead, I will just say this. I am a 31 year old man who loves rock music. Asking Alexandria is nothing more than a boy band with regrettable tattoos and BOSS Metal Zone distortion pedals. The music is designed to give young girls their first sexual thought, not to stimulate the mind of an individual who is rapidly losing his hair. With that said, I will tell you the same thing I told bassist Sam Bettley back stage when he asked my thoughts on the show.
The energy was good. Los Angeles crowds are usually jaded and uninterested, but on this night the kids were going insane. Huge pits, group sing-a-longs and a fan base eager to please any request by lead screamer Danny Worsnop. So that’s the nice thing I have to say. I will now give you the pleasure of imaging all the nasty things I really want to say.
Two years and two days after Unearth released their most recent record “The March” I was lucky enough to catch the bands next to last show in support of the brutal yet masterful collection of songs. I was lucky enough to catch the band at the same venue when they supported Testament, and also managed to see the band Thanksgiving weekend at the All Day All Ages Metal Fest at the Hollywood Palladium. I have to confess, the whole set was a bit of a blur for me. I made my way down to the photo pit just as the bands pre-recorded music began to blast from the PA. It was fucking Journey. I really fucking hate Journey. I really fucking hate the fact that my beloved San Francisco Giants have adopted that fucking terrible Journey song as the theme for the 2010 post season run. So despite my love for Unearth, I was hurt that the band would choose such a cheap and pathetic way to get the crowd pumped up.
Once the band actually started playing, I forgot all about the terrible into music. I suppose that’s the actual beauty of Unearth. On one side of the coin, you have hard hitting metal anthems, and on the other you a gang of jackasses decked out in Dr. Dre T-shirts and lewd sexual acts drawn upon their arms. The short but sweet set drew heavily from “The March” but had plenty of older songs to keep the crowd moving. Songs like “My Will Be Done” and “This Glorious Nightmare” mixed together perfectly. When not playing class clown (not to mention kicking me in the head to reach the rail that separates the crowd from the band) guitarist Ken Susi is a master of his craft shredding solo after solo with a giant shit eating grin upon his face.
It really felt as if I had blinked and the bands set was coming to an end. As with the last two shows I have seen the band destroy on this two plus year journey, the night ended with “Black Hearts Now Reign.” Front man Trevor Phipps did a phenomenal job of getting the crowd to form a huge circle pit while his brothers created a loud wall of powerful heavy metal behind him. The best news of the night came at the very end of the set. The band is about to record a new album, and promised a return to Southern California next year. See you then!
With The Smashing Pumpkins having already been secured as headliners last month, the initial lineup for the third annual Sunset Strip Music Festival has been announced. Artists helping The Smashing Pumpkins shut down Sunset Blvd include:
Additional artists will be announced closer to the event. In addition, a mix of smaller artists (including Adler’s Appetite and Volbeat) will take to the various clubs located on the Sunset Strip during the outdoor festival. For a complete lineup of those bands, please check out the official SSMF website.
As a lifelong fan of The Smashing Pumpkins, I had no desire to check the band out last night at The Viper Room here in Southern California. I saw them headline Lollapalooza 94. I’ve watched them in arenas and theatres and even saw their first performance at Neil Young’s Bridge School Benefit back in 1998. I even enjoyed the reunited bands two night stand at the end of 2008 here in Los Angeles.
So when my man Jerko tweeted last night that Mr. Corgan threw a temper tantrum and left the stage, I was stoked that I had not wasted my hard earned cash on tickets to the tiny club show.
As Jerko explains in his video description – LA fans like to talk. I find it fucking rude, but that’s the culture of this wonderful city. While Corgan could have been the man and addressed the crowd or just played on despite the chit-chat, he once again chose to take his ball ukulele and go home.
So here is some footage of Billy walking off stage last night. Do you think he was justified in his actions, or should he have done the right thing and played over the rude So-Cal fans?
Words/Photos/Videos by Reverend Justito/concertconfessions.com
Growing up in the 1990’s, I spent many hours rocking out in the various muscle cars of Concertconfessions webmaster, Mattchee. We were the second generation of Bay Area thrash metal fans; the kids who were in Junior High when The Black Album ruled the rock world. Metallica opened the doors and turned us onto a whole world of bands who played the fast paced melodies which made us wonder why we ever purchased crap such as Kriss Kross and Vanilla Ice. Knowing they were from our home turf and having once had Metallica’s Kirk Hammett on guitars, how could we not instantly fall in love with Exodus? 18+ years later, I walked into the doors of the Key Club in West Hollywood assuming I, at 31, would be one of the younger individuals in the crowd. Much to my astonishment, most of the over-sold crowd was not even alive when I discovered Exodus twelve years into their career. That was only the beginning of my shock and awe.
As I walked up to the bar to order a drink, Heathen was already killing it on stage. Supporting the just released The Evolution of Chaos record, the band had the full attention of the packed pint-sized venue. I did my best to find a solid spot within the crowd sunk into the mayhem. The band already had the crowd eating out of the palm of their hands by the time of my arrival. With crowd chants of HEATHEN! between songs like “Mercy Is No Virtue” and “Arrows of Agony,” one would have thought that they were the headlining act. Huge circle pits filled the club’s front floor section, as duel axe-slingers Kragen Lum & Lee Altus tore up career-spanning numbers such as “Death By Hanging.” Most of the crowed seemed shocked when the band exited the stage after “Open The Grave.” They clearly were not ready for the band’s set to end, as chants for their return drowned out the bright house lights and Mastodon blasting over the PA.
Billed as a release show for the group’s recent Billboard Top 200 album Exhibit B: The Human Condition, Exodus kicked the main event off just past 11pm. With a world-wide broadcast via Stickam, the five piece band hit the stage like a bag of bricks upside the head. Opening with the Exhibit B crusher “The Ballad of Leonard and Charles,” the building erupted as fans went absolutely ape-shit. Did the band even take a break before heading straight into “Beyond The Pale?” I was more concerned with one of the many kids in the crowd proudly wearing the band’s “Satanic Hispanic” T-Shirt. I was convinced his brains had splattered on the stair case that his head had just crashed into. After some help up from fellow fans, the youngster dusted himself off and was thrashing around in the pit by the time the band was rocking the Exhibit A monster – “Iconoclasm.” After all, Exodus was in town on a Friday night – and this was an event not to be missed.
I felt current vocalist Rob Dukes did a great job of delivering the lyrics from all eras of Exodus, despite the fact that many Internet trash talkers have nothing kind to say about him. “Blacklist” sounded much better than my first Exodus show with Steev Esquivel back in 2004. The duel guitar attack from Gary Holt and Lee Altus (who was working a double shift on this particular evening) was the driving force of the music, sending the circle pit into overdrive on classics like “Piranha” and “Fabulous Disaster.” It didn’t matter which era of songs was recalled — the crowd responded with enthusiastic violence. The band’s open invitation to stage divers did nothing to calm the carnage.
As if the invite to stage dive was not enough, the true crowd highlight of the evening was the wall of death. Led by Dukes during the set’s closing number “Strike of the Beast,” the packed floor did a fine job of finding the space to part. Once Dukes screamed “Go” into the mic, it was pure mayhem as the two sides crashed together forming one solid mob of energy. Bones were crushed and bodies were bloodied as the band bashed out the Bonded By Blood juggernaut.
Chants of Exodus began within seconds of the band exiting for an encore break. After blasting through the song “Bonded By Blood” the band asked for fan requests. With most fans screaming for “The Toxic Waltz,” the band agreed, stipulating that fans promised to cover the entire floor with a circle pit. The fans were happy with the terms of the deal and formed the largest circle of the night. I generally don’t approve of bands closing with a new number; however on this particular late spring night, it just seemed to work. “Good Riddance” declares that the end of the Earth is upon us and perhaps that is just what it will take to end Exodus’s lengthy career. 30 years after Hammett and Holt formed the band, the music is still kicking and is embraced by a very young and very rabid fan base. With Exodus, the music is timeless and the energy created between the band and the audience is truly something special. I have no doubt that when the band does it’s 50th anniversary tour, the pit will be rocking with a base of fans who have yet to be conceived.
Words/Photos/Videos by Reverend Justito/concertconfessions.com
I was one of the lucky ones. December 1997: I went to see Deftones at The Edge in Palo Alto, CA. While Deftones were nothing short of amazing, the true reward of that night was being introduced to the band Far. In the weeks that followed that show, I picked up “Water & Solutions” and it has been in heavy rotation ever since. Like most Far fans, I grew angry over the last decade as countless bands got minor radio success with their bastardization of the Lopez/Matranga sound. Naturally, I was thrilled when the Sacramento four piece announced they were reuniting. After a brief taste of the live Far experience last fall, nothing was going to keep me away from seeing the band support their new record At Night We Live. With the clock reading ten past nine on the third Friday in May, I hopped into my beautiful golden rental car (Kia Rio for you auto enthusiasts) and ventured east to The Troubadour, ready to rock with the post-hardcore/pre-emo Godfathers of Screamo.
The band kicked off their set around 10:30 pm with a new number called “Fight Song #16,233,241.” With a really punchy guitar riff from Shaun Lopez, the song is a natural opener and set things off in the right direction. The band ensured the crowd’s attention by following with a few fan favorites. The rather mellow “I Like It” allowed both the band and the crowd to warm up and sink into the evening. Reaching back to 1996, “Seasick” was one of the highlights of the night. I realize many Far fans are obsessed with front-man Jonah Mantranga, but my attraction to Far lies with guitarist Shaun Lopez. His mix of heavy riffs and lush melodies are nothing short of amazing. The riffs that make up the verses of “Seasick” serve as a fine example of Lopez’ craft.
With the release of At Night We Live less than a week away, the band performed plenty of new material. “Dear Enemy” is an unapologetic drop-D rock and roll song. Had their been a pit, this is the type of song that could cause the circle to swell upwards of three times its average size. Before launching into “Deafening”, Mantranga paid tribute to the late great Ronnie James Dio by sharing a tale of an intimate Sacramento club gig. I hate to say it, but “Deafening” is perfect for rock radio such as KROQ (who sponsored the show despite not playing the song). Undoubtedly, the best song on At Night We Live is the title track. The vulnerability of Matrangas voice as he sings the tribute to Deftones bassist Chi Cheng undoubtedly made the entire crowd’s arm hair raise simultaneously. Most importantly, despite the fact the album has not even hit store shelves, there was not a single person in the audience not singing along to the powerful chorus.
While new material got a great reaction from the enthusiastic Friday-night, near capacity crowd, the response to the classics was nothing short of massive. “Joining The Circus” was dedicated to Los Angeles, while “The System” simply rocked. I always think back to the 1998 Family Values tour and the parking lot of the Cow Palace covered with promos for Far’s big hit “Mother Mary.” Hearing the band play it at The Troubadour some 11 1/2 years later just didn’t seem real. My personal highlight for the evening was the Water & Solutions masterpiece — “Man Overboard.” The anti-climatic build up leads right into my favorite Lopez riff of all time.
The biggest reaction of the night was for the show closing “Bury White.” When it comes down to it, this song is the blueprint for the last 10 years of mainstream rock music. Before the Far reunion, I always assumed the band would return bigger than ever. Personally, I was disappointed that the show was not sold out. In my book, Far are ground-breakers and deserve much more praise then other 90’s bands who have recently reunited. Those lucky enough to be inside the Troubadour on the third Friday in May, 2010 know they saw something truly special. I can only hope At Night We Live gets the band the respect they rightfully deserve.
For about 18 months, Rusted Soul Revue vocalist/lead guitarist TD Moyer was my own Snuffleupagus. My pal/guitarist Shawn Hitchcock swore up and down that he existed – much like Big Bird told his neighbors for years. While the Sesame Street gang finally did meet Snuffy in the fall of 1985, I met TD last July 4th weekend, walking around the streets of Long Beach (or as we call it – the land of sad boobies). Like any good friend, I missed the bands first two shows in order to support that highly anticipated third show. After all, I couldn’t think of a better way to spend the last Thursday in April – especially with the show being in my old stomping grounds of West Hollywood.
Apparently this was the first show at Libertine (located across the street from the famed Chateau Marmont) and it really showed. RSR was supposed to hit the stage at 9:30 pm, but thanks to an issue with the PA, the show didn’t get underway till about 11:15 pm. By the time the band took the stage (and by stage I mean floor, as there was no stage) everyone in the packed bar was anxious for some real music. After all, while the two DJ’s who had spun 90’s hip hop (Kriss Kross, Skee-Lo, you get the idea) at maximum level were mediocre at best – they had overstayed their welcome. With no stage lighting at all, the band (which featured Fates Warming/Armored Saint bassist Joey Vera) kicked off the nine song set with “Better Days”.
With an influence somewhere between Mike Campbell and Jakob Dylan – Rusted Soul Revue is the type of music that makes you want to take the risk of driving with half-drank bottle of bourbon across state lines. Another way to describe RSR would be great lyrics over even better licks. “The Truth of It” has a great southern twang with the melodic pop sensibilities of Arctic Monkeys. While it was the third song of the night, it was the first to actually feature a light to illuminate the musicians on stage.
Despite the fact multiple young ladies brought Moyer shots of whiskey over the first four songs, the charismatic front man allowed the rest of the band to take a “pee break” while he stayed on stage floor and performed a beautiful solo acoustic version of “Murder A Rose”. Once bladders were emptied, Hitchcock and violinist/vocalist Brittany Ham returned and joined Moyer for “Place in the Sun.” Rich with warm southern tones and a lazy harmony, it was obvious that the three musicians were completely engulfed in the music.
Vera and drummer Fern Sanchez returned for the final three songs. Despite his success in the metal world, Vera knew his role was to compliment, not overpower the music. All night, he managed to find small pockets to enhance the magic between Moyer and Hitchcock. “Sun Gives Way to the Moon” was a perfect example of this as Vera focused on creating a rock solid and interlocking groove with Sanchez as busy Sunset Blvd traffic passed by in the background.
The band closed their 45 minute set with “Grave Dancing.” Now slightly intoxicated from so many free drinks, Moyer shared with the crowd about his Irish roots and drinking for those who were no longer with us. With a slight Irish flair over the established Southern Blues/Soul/Rock sounds, the song served as a perfect close for the very first band playing inside the busy Sunset Strip bar.
While still rough around the edges (hey, it was the band’s third show) it is clear this band is on the fast road to success. I am not just saying this because they are my friends. I am not just saying this because they were able to land Joey Vera on bass (at least for a night). I am saying this, because the songs are solid and they instantly feel familiar while being 100% original. I could easily hear the band winning over multi-day festival crowds like High Sierra or Bonnaroo, while finding their way onto the Adult Contemporary Radio charts. So if you’re looking for salvation in the form of melody rich southern fried guitar god rock via Southern California – Rusted Soul Revue is just the band for you.
I seem to recall that it was Easter weekend 1999 (I could be totally wrong) when my friends and I made our monthly trip to the Cactus Club in San Jose to see local favorites Papa Roach. Only this night was very different as we would finally get a chance a band out of Southern California that P-Roach had been raving about for months. That band was Alien Ant Farm, and within minutes of them hitting the stage, I was gushing blood thanks to front man Dryden Mitchell’s knee making contact with my nose. Safe to say, I was hooked. Now fast forward to Good Friday 2010, my wife has a friend in town who has a cousin who knows some dude who is in a band with Dryden and they are playing at the Whiskey A-Go-Go on the Sunset Strip. Despite my hate for the once legendary, now laughable landmark, we headed into Hollywood knowing that even if Send The Sages didn’t live up to AAF, the night would at least be spent with good friends.
After watching terrible bands for 2+ hours, (which you can read all about here) it was finally time to check out the reason were at the Whiskey in the first place. Within seconds of taking the stage, I knew my wait was worth it. The raw power exploding from the stage captured the collective attention of the audience immediately. Opening with “Lumens”, the four piece band took that attention and placed it in a fierce stranglehold. Making sure to stand further back then my first time, years of touring has only improved the stage presence of Mitchell. When not describing the bands sound as a mix of Sade and Pantera, the volatile vocalist was in the face of the fans, messing with cameras, giving high fives with the souls of his sneakers and never once missing a beat.
The few times I saw AAF, it always felt like Dryden’s show. With Send The Sages, guitarist Jack Armenian is an equal match to the bands platinum front man. Sure, he may not be violently shaking the overhead PA with his hands causing panic in the eyes of security, but the riffs coming from his guitar are just as aggressive and abrasive. Rich in melody and deep in distortion, while the Sade/Pantera comparison is accurate, Send The Sages reminded me of why I love artists like Deftones, Far, Poison The Well and At The Drive-In. If I was not already won over on musical ability, Mitchell’s calling out the Whiskey from the stage for it’s unprofessional staff and unfriendly atmosphere would have done the trick. In fact, based off the introduction to the last song of the night, “Victories and Consequences”, I wouldn’t be shocked if the band didn’t play the venue again (which is fine by me).
About two thirds of the way through the set, Mitchell seemed to be thinking aloud as the band tuned up. He couldn’t figure out if the crowd were friends who came out just because, or if a fan base was growing. Judging by the reaction, it was the later. Sure, a friend of a friend brought me out, but the music won me over and left me wanting more. When you watch an up and coming band, you can tell pretty easily if the band has it or not. Send The Sages has it, and I look forward to watching their journey.
Chances are, no matter where you live in the world, you have heard of the world-famous Whiskey A Go-Go on the Sunset Strip. Anyone who loves music and drives down the strip for the first time will undoubtedly get goosebumps when their eyes focus on the landmark where the likes of Motley Crue and The Doors got their start. However, these goose bumps quickly fade away when one learns the truth regarding the Whiskey. Inside the walls, it is not the music that matters, but how much you are willing to pay for your start. It is because of this pay-to-play mentality that most music fans stay away from the venue. In fact, Good Friday 2010 was my first trip to the club in over seven years and I only went, as it was a chance to hang with a good friend from out of town. You see, all my local friends who are in bands are not dumb enough to waste their cash for the cheap thrill that is standing upon the same stage as Jim Morrison. Within seconds of hearing the first band taking the stage on Good Friday, I realized very quickly why I never come to the Whiskey.
I didn’t even have a drink in my hand when The Icebreakers hit the stage. Before the first note was played, I broke into laughter. I am not a betting man, but I am pretty sure not a single member of the six piece band has a drivers license. The group opened with the Berlin classic “The Metro”. The best part of their set perhaps was the female singer announcing to the crowd that it was their cover of the song originally performed by Alkaline Trio. This caused most of the parents in the crowd to chuckle. Well that is all the parents except the one father who was being shaken down for videotaping his child on stage. Junior High talent show, this was not. The juice-head guard was anything but polite to the proud papa. Over the next twenty five minutes, the band played a mix of originals which included “The Mission” as well as a few choice covers. “Crazy Train”, while comical for the heavy keyboards, did feature new guitarist Dominick (who was decked out in an Ice Cube t-shirt) tearing up the Randy Rhodes solo. Before the band closed their set, the front woman announced that not only was their drummer 10 years old (which explained the fact she played the same 4/4 drum beat the entire night) but that their bassist (and her sister) had only been playing for 10 months. Closing with “Just A Girl” by No Doubt, the band barely pulled off the bouncy ska classic. It would be very easy for me to rip apart the entire concept of The Icebreakers but, when it comes down to it, they were actually the best band not named “Send The Sages” that I heard all night. The singer had cheesy moves that were clearly rehearsed for hours in the mirror. The original songs were tolerable at best. However, the passion is there, clearly some of the kids possess some musical ability, it’s just a matter of growing up. I just can’t figure out how the$e tike$ ended up at the Whi$key on a Friday night?!?!?!?!
Set To Stun
Well, the energy was there. Too bad there was a major lack of talent, originality and chemistry. I mean hey, I suppose there is a market for ugly straight edge dudes in headbands more concerned with thrashing around the stage instead of thrashing on their instruments. Perhaps with time they could craft a sound? Next.
Buffalo Trip made me want to listen to Wolfmother. I mean, if Wolfmommy is a rip-off of Zeppelin, you can only imagine what a Wolfmommy rip off sounds like. These guys should probably just do the world a favor and drive their pinto off a cliff.
Clueless Brigade had the unfortunate task of following Send The Sages (The headliner plays in the typical headliner time slot. With short set times for all bands, the venue will still have 2-3 bands after the headliner). I had seen them in the balcony most of the night holding their instruments. Not warming up, just holding them. So, upon taking the stage, the front man mentioned how no one remembered their last show at the venue, and that they had better songs. We lasted two songs before leaving the venue. “Fuck The Government” and “I’m A Terrorist”. What should have been speedy punk riffs were slow and sludgy. I really wanted to like em, they seem like nice young men. Once again, I hope they at least keep at it, as a tighter version of this act could be halfway decent.
While it’s very easy to bash these bands, I can’t blame any of them. They are simply chasing their dream and at least they are all trying to create something. The villain in all of this is The Whiskey A Go-Go who charge these bands to play their craptastic venue. I mean the only band that somewhat fit with the headliners style of music was Set To Stun. While diversity is good, you at least need to have a uniting factor amongst the bands. The only thing uniting this line up is the fact that all these non-headlining suckers wasted their hard earned cash to play a famous stage. As bad as all of the bands mentioned in this review, nothing was as terrible as what we witnessed down the street at The Standard (silly side story, heading to The Standard we all had a good laugh watching crazy punks walking out of House of Blues. Turns out Alkaline Trio was playing.)
I have no clue what this guys name is, but since he came to the club in his work clothes, I feel TJ works. You see, it was his birthday and, for whatever reason, they let him rock the mic for a few minutes. As you can hear (assuming you can make it through the entire video), chances are your dead grandmother has more game than this guy. Sadly, I didn’t videotape the end of his performance where he repeats for about 3 minutes “Pussy in my lap, birds in my sack”. Hey, I will say this. Trader Joe’s was so bad that The Standard gave us a free bottle of champagne and apologized. I do hope you at least had a good birthday, thanks for the laughs.
I must say, for it being Good Friday, Hollywood had a lot of bad music on Friday night.
Words/Photos by Reverend Justito/concertconfessions.com
(Note: The review was first published by MTV news)
It takes a gang of bad asses to name their band after Marlon Brando’s motorcycle gang in his 1953 film The Wild One. Thankfully, the three men who make up Black Rebel Motorcycle Club (often referred to as BRMC) are not only bad enough to fit the bill, but somehow tender enough that you could bring them home to your mother. Formed in 1998, BRMC is one of the few bands still waving the bad boy rock flag high in a day and age of disposable hip hop anthems and American Idol rejects selling out arenas. Yet somehow they don’t come off as a cheesy imitation rip off like Avenged Sevenfold. BRMC is the real deal. Hell, I think it’s safe to say that BRMC is the only straight up kick ass and take no prisoners Rock & Roll band left on the planet today. So imagine my shock and delight when on Christmas Eve when I found out that they would be playing an intimate club show at the Key Club right down the street from my home. Having had my head bashed in by seeing these guys live everywhere from the middle of Sunset Blvd to opening for legends “The Jesus & Mary Chain” at the Wiltern last fall I added another $70 to the American Dream known as my ever growing credit card debt and got two tickets for what I knew would be something special.
With the club beyond sold out, special VIP sections for corporate sponsors SPIN Magazine, Addidas & JVC filling up seconds before the band kicked into their set, Guitarist/Bassist/Vocalist Peter Hayes took the stage solo around 9:45 and played two numbers to a very appreciative crowd. Decked in a black leather jacket, his partner in crime, Guitarist/Bassist/Vocalist Robert Levon Been eventually joined Hayes along with Drummer Nick Jago for what would be a roller coaster 2+ hour set. The great thing about BRMC is the fact they can play everything from soft blues-esque acoustic rock to full on sonic assault feed back laced hollow body arena rock. Not only can they do this, they do so in such a way that you never know which way you are going next.
The show started out somewhat slow, with softer numbers such as Complicated Situation & Shuffle Your Feet from 2005’s Howl before drifting into fuzz rock distorted anthems like Berlin from last years Baby 81 record and Love Burns from their very first record BRMC. As rain leaked thru the roof of the Key Club onto the stage, the band were in total control of the crowd from the get go. BRMC truly has no single front man, as Hayes and Been switch back and forth not only vocal duties (when they are not harmonizing together) but switch back between Bass & Guitar (that is of course when one is not playing Piano on numbers like Promise or All You Do Is Talk). The second roller coaster build up of the night featured both a sinister version of 666 Conducer and Ain’t No Easy Way which featured Hayes on nasty slide guitar that made you wonder just how long ago these bad boys sold their soul to the devil for such a demonic (yet never ugly) sound that makes you think of everyone from The Verve to The Jesus & Mary Chain.
Hayes and Jago left the stage at one point and let Levon Been sing a few songs all alone. A pin drop could be heard thru the tightly packed club as he soulfully sung 2005’s Complicated Noose. After that, Levon Been lowered his microphone, sat on a monitor and informed the crowd it was time to get intimate with us. He explained how he had one cover in his back pocket, but was tired of it and decided to learn something harder. He then treated the crowd to Bob Dylan’s Vision of Johanna and as with every other things BRMC touched last night, it was sonically perfect.
The band soon rejoined him, and once again built us up to wrap up their set for the evening. American X is a warning shot to our nation that all should hear. Never shying away from political numbers questioning the actions of our government, and clocking in last night at over 10 minutes, BRMC had the crowd eating out of their hands with this massive set closer. As Levon Been’s hands rose up his fret board, strobe lights flickered at a fever pace; the energy of the crowd peaked much like an acid trip could. As the song wrapped, feedback rang thru the house monitors, the band left the stage victorious.
After the typical 3-5 minutes of encore applause we have all grown to tolerate the band returned to beat our senses in just a little bit more. Took Out A Loan from last year’s Baby 81 record kicked off the encore with flash and feedback and forcing the crowd to stomp along in rhythm. For as much as I thought this song would blow off the already leaky roof, it was the last song of the night Whatever Happened To My Rock ‘n’ Roll [punk song] that made me realize all over again what I have known about BRMC for a few years now. BRMC are the savior of rock and roll. They may even be the best Rock & Roll band on the planet today. They make you want to drink whiskey, drive well over the posted speed limit, donate an hour to charity and kick over your neighbors trash cans just because you can. They are everything missing from today rock scene. They are the real deal.
The Black Dahlia Murder (w/ HateSphere, Augury & Obscura) 03/06/10
The Roxy Theatre – West Hollywood, CA
Words/Videos/Photos by Reverend Justito/concertconfessions.com
After two weeks of non-stop action up the coast in Vancouver, the close of the 2010 Winter Olympics has sent me into a downward spiral of depression. No longer can I turn on the television and watch global goliaths face off in events like Curling and Ice Dancing. Gone were underage girls drinking and smoking cigars, a Ginger on a snowboard and that ice-skater guy on LSD. For those like myself, hopelessly addicted to friendly yet fierce international competition, this week has not been kind. Thankfully, the Roxy Theatre in West Hollywood, CA understood the post Olympics withdrawals and helped ease the pain with a four-nation demolition derby of death metal. With heavy wind and rain splashing down upon the Sunset Strip, hundreds of fans waited in line for hours to get into the sold-out event. Featuring a triumphant return to the historic venue by headliners The Black Dahlia Murder, the melodic metal band handpicked three international acts to show their skills off to an eager stateside audience. With all three support acts unknown to me, I found myself with an opportunity to experience new music from exotic lands before one more round with Waterford Michigan’s best metal band.
As fans wrung out their wet clothes in the venue’s restroom, HateSphere took to the stage. Right out of the gate, the five-piece Danish act commanded the attention of the 60-70 fans in front of the stage. As many more rushed in, the band belted out a quick and energetic set, filled with groove-heavy trash/death metal. The riffs, while heavy, were rich with melody, instantly setting them apart in my mind from countless other opening bands I have seen over the years. Front man Morten “Kruge” Madsen (a recent addition to the group after the departure of Jonathan “Joller” Albrechtsen) did an outstanding job of getting the crowd worked up into a frenzy as guitarists Jakob Nyholm & Peter “Pepe” Lyse Hansen chugged along in unison behind him. Towards the end of the brief opening set, a circle pit formed as cold and wet fans bashed and banged into each other, signaling their approval. As my drink flew out of my hand from a wet mosher crashing into me, I didn’t even have time to mind. With it being the final few moments of their first show in the great state of California (The band is touring North America for the first time), I was going to enjoy every second instead of crying over spilt Red Bull and Vodka.
Hailing from Montreal, Augury was a perfect mix of random geeky band traits that I adore.
Hilarious Stage Banter – Check
Appreciation of Conspiracy Theories – Check
Crazy & Random Momentum Changes That Catch You Off Guard and Take You Places You Never Planned on Going – Check
Augury simply blew me away. Much like HateSphere, the four-piece band was playing with new members. I am unsure of who was playing bass before, but it’s hard to imagine it getting much better than fill-in, Christian Pacaud. This man is a monster who effortlessly lays gargantuan riffsdown upon his 6 string bass. In between heavy, technically progressive riffs and growling vocals, Patrick Loisel cracked jokes with the now over-capacity crowd. With a set that drew heavily from their recent release, Fragmentary Evidence, the band had the crowd right where they wanted them the entire time. Of the three opening acts, there is no doubt that Augury easily won the gold.
All the way from Munich Germany, Obscura took to the stage just after 10pm. Hitting the crowd hard with their relentless jackhammering riffs, while not terrible, I know I failed to connect with the band and it seemed as if other members of the audience felt the same. While decent, the songs lacked emotion and failed to make a lasting impression on me. Perhaps that is what some search for, but not I. At one point towards the end of their set, guitarist and lead vocalist, Steffen Kummerer, did his best to get the audience involved questioning if the American metal scene was still alive. It fell upon deaf ears as a majority of the crowd was ready for the main event. This was further proved by the loud chants for the headliner after Obscura had left the stage.
The Black Dahlia Murder (USA)
At 11:00pm sharp, the curtain rose for the final time to reveal the evening’s main attraction — The Black Dahlia Murder. Having rocked the same room for free two months earlier, the five-piece band returned to a hero’s welcome as they opened their headlining set with the song “Funeral Thirst.” Passing out high fives to rowdy fans, vocalist Trevor Strnad paced back and forth across the front of the stage, screaming bloody hell into his microphone. Over the next hour, the band played a brutal set of metal that spanned their four Metal Blade releases. One of the best things about the live Black Dahlia Murder experience is that the crowd goes off no matter what. It does not matter if the five-piece is destroying the stage with a classic like “Statutory Ape” or a new song like “Black Valor” (from the band’s most recent release Deflorate); the energy and enthusiasm of the crowd is exactly the same.
After dedicating the number to all the drinkers, the band launched into an intense version of “I’m Charming” that saw the pit swell so large it became impossible for security to keep the mob from overflowing into the fire aisles. While “What A Horrible Night To Have A Curse” gave the bloodsuckers in the crowd their chance to go off, I was more enthralled by new guitarist Ryan Knight. In the two short months since I last saw the band, he seems so much more comfortable on the stage and within the music. Hell he outright owned songs like “A Vulgar Picture” and “Miasma.”Really, the entire band owned the entire night, which is the reason I keep coming back for more. While intense, The Black Dahlia Murder shows have a wild and crazy edge that makes them feel more like a large house party than a concert. The bands fun loving energy is contagious and it is fucking impossible to not have a great time with them.
Hours after the band had made themselves accessible to fans, standing in the crowd during the sets by HateSphere and Augury, the show came to an end. While closing with a new song can often kill the momentum of an otherwise great set, this is not the case when you are the Black Dahlia Murder. Skipping an encore, the band gave the beyond capacity crowd one last chance to go nuts with “I Will Return.” An appropriate title, as it completely sums up how I feel after every single show I see these guys play. As long as they keep performing, I will keep coming back to see the most exciting band in melodic death metal. Here is to hoping that The Black Dahlia Murder won’t keep Southern California waiting too long for a rowdy round three within the legendary walls of The Roxy.
Words/Photos/Videos by Justin/concertconfessions.com
I must be honest with everyone for a moment. I own one compact disc by the band Dinosaur Jr. It has their big hit “Feel the Pain” on it and I picked it up at a garage sale a few years back. I don’t even know the name of it, nor most of the song titles. I’ve always enjoyed the band and their loud, fuzzy alt-rock jams (they were rated 4 starts on my Yahoo Launchcast way back when). However after sharing some coke, rocking out and having my eardrums blown out by the three-piece band for free this past Tuesday night, Dinosaur Jr. may become my latest full-blown obsession.
I had a few reasons for checking out the east coast band’s one-off show at The Troubadour in West Hollywood. First of all, it was free, thanks to the fine folks at T-Mobile. The show was to promote the companies MOG device, which they failed to do. I have no idea what it is besides a way to see a great band for free. The main reason I ended up going was this site and a confession of the band’s recent Brooklyn gig, shared by Jay Porks. His review really made me realize that perhaps I was missing out on some loud ass rock and roll. So after a long wait along the dirty sidewalks of Doheney Ave, I made my way into the venue and parked myself right in front of three Marshall 100 stacks, belonging to one J Mascis.
The band took the stage just after 9pm, opening with the song ‘Thumb”. Immediately, I knew I was in for a great night, as my bones vibrated within my flesh from the sheer volume of the power trio (Featuring the original lineup of J Mascis on Guitar/vocals, Lou Barlow on Bass and Murph on drums). The group played classics from their on-again-off-again-on-again career, but also showcased songs from their latest record – Farm. One of the songs from that release which really stood out to me was called “Pieces”. With rich melodies and destructive distortion, it seemed to be as well received as the older numbers.
The highlight of the night (besides “Feel the Pain”; I am after all that guy and I am not afraid to admit it) was simply standing eight feet from J Mascis while he played. What an amazing and highly underrated talent he is. Great chord progressions, lighting fast solos, guitars I can only dream of owning and perhaps the biggest pedal board I have ever seen. The man is a mad genius and the way he leads the band through densely distorted sonic jams is nothing short of mind (and ear) blowing. Equally impressive on the other side of the stage was bassist Lou Barlow. He made his bass guitar his bitch; owning it and forcing it to do things that would cause most mild-mannered instruments to blush with embarrassment. The way he plucked huge chords, beat upon the strings and managed to keep in time with both Mascis and drummer Murph was incredible. Perhaps next time I see them, I will have to stand on his side of the stage.
After rocking a main set that lasted about 70 minutes and featured songs like “Over It” and “Crumble,” the band played a brief two-song encore for the largely male, beanie and flannel wearing crowd. It was during the encore that it really hit me: the 1990’s are back. From the tiny pit that broke out during the encore with friendly smiling faces pogoing around peacefully to the aforementioned fashion, I managed to feel both nostalgic and yet young again. Perhaps it was the free show; perhaps it was the comradery that comes with waiting in line for a few hours with your new best (and hopefully not single serving) friends. Whatever it was, the feeling was good vibes all around. In fact, walking out of the Troubadour back to my car, I ran into some kids who made me feel really good. Having been handed a bottle of coke by J Mascis as he left the stage, the young men were very excited to give me a sip of the carbonated beverage. “Drink in the God-like genius that is J – this beverage will make you a Godzilla-esque Guitar monster” one kid screamed as he handed the 20 oz. bottle my way. As someone who has been clean of High Fructose Corn Syrup for months now, I thought what the heck; I had already fallen back into the 1990’s, why not fall off “The Wagon” as well?
Words/Photos/Videos by Reverend Justito/concertconfessions.com
As I shared here recently as a FROM THE VAULT post, the last time I saw Joseph Arthur, we didn’t really connect. In the weeks and months that passed after that warm summer night, I actually began to get angry. What was wrong with me? I have listened to this man and his music time and time again and I allowed weird vibes and distractions ruin our brief time together. Not permitting my anger to get the best be, I told myself there is always next time. Thankfully, next time came in the form of concertconfessions user HJUnderpants birthday celebration. After a tasty meal at Barney’s Beanery up the road, we entered The Troubadour on a cold winter night to once again experience the music of singer/songwriter Mr. Joseph Arthur.
Right off the bat, things were better than last time. Despite what the venue had informed me of via Twitter, this would not be a seated show. Excited by this discovery we hit the front bar and enjoyed a celebratory birthday drink or four before finding our spot on the open floor. With two blank canvases against the back wall, Arthur hit the stage minutes before 9:30 pm. The multi-talented performer began to paint upon both canvases before strapping on an acoustic guitar and kicking off the music with a soft new song (title unknown, but assumed to be from a rumored 2010 release). What followed was a rocking one man version of “Devil’s Broom” which allowed the musician to throw down a nasty electric guitar solo over percussive and rhythm loops all made by acoustic guitar. By the time Arthur was into his third song “Echo Park”, my wife had whispered into my ear that this time was already 1,000,000 times better than last time and I happened to agree.
Yes indeed with guitar loops bordering on insanity and two paintings being created right before our eyes, the journey was off to an amazing start. Hell, the lanky hipster softly singing fan favorites “Birthday Card” and “Honey and the Moon” into my right ear didn’t bother me as Arthur commanded my focus. Using both looped guitar and vocals as a backdrop, Arthur stopped strumming and returned to his paintings, rapidly adding lines and angles over what appeared to be faces of a man and a woman (I can hardly draw a stick figure, who am I to try to talk brush strokes and angles). Once satisfied with his progress on the paintings, Arthur brought the loops to a screeching crashing yet never missing a beat by diving head first into “All The Old Heroes”. Armed with only a Telecaster and a microphone, the pride of Akron, Ohio stood onstage alone for the final time during this short west coast tour.
Arthur welcomed four guests to the stage. In addition to Jessy Greene on Violin (who had been off and on the stage all night by this point) two members of his Lonely Astronauts backing band (Sibyl Buck on vocals and Kraig Jarret Johnson on Guitar/Vocals) joined in on the fun. Honestly, I don’t think anyone noticed, as roots/jam/soul/reggae/metal/blues/pop/funk/acoustic/indie/rebel/surf/rocker Ben Harper came out along with them. I know my jaw dropped to the clubs cement floor at the chance to see Harper (someone I have seen many times over the years) in such a small venue. The now five piece band launched into “Black Lexus” from Arthur’s 2006 record Nuclear Daydream. Most stunning about this version was Harper’s slide Weissenborn and Green’s violin coming together to create a melodic sound-scape that helped carries Arthur’s intense vocals.
While most musicians soon left the stage (they would come and go as the night carried on) Harper remained on stage to add backing vocals to Arthur’s best known song – “In The Sun”. I didn’t even make it to the chorus before my arms were covered in goosebumps. The vocals of the two blended nicely, and by the time they were done, I saw not one but two separate audience members with tears running down their cheeks. Over the next 45 minutes, the explosion of art continued to engulf senses. Arthur noted on multiple occasions how blessed he was to be playing with his old friend Ben. Harper can shred with the best of them, but on this night he played with great restraint. He found holes and filled them with rich melodies, allowing the focus to stay on the songs, and not the star. I really didn’t think the night could get better but it proved me wrong yet again as the duo performed my favorite song “Ashes Everywhere”.
I lost track of how many encore breaks the night had, but I know the show ended with Arthur completing his paintings during the song “Invisible Hands”. Big blue brush stroked smacked up against the canvas as Arthur sang for Jesus to come back and die again. As the song slowly stretched out at the end, musicians slowly began to leave the stage leaving Harper to finish the song alone.
Moments after his exit, the stage lights came up and we went to the merch table. As we waited in line to purchase the evenings show, the night once again got a little bit better. Arthur performed two more songs to the packed merch area/bar before he spoke with fans, took photos and signed autographs. I tried to keep my moment brief. He helped me with an art project of my own I am working on this year, signed a copy of the show. As we exited out the door and hit chilly Santa Monica Blvd, I couldn’t help but smile knowing that for Joseph Arthur and I the second time was the charm.
(note, this review was first published at MTVnews.com. I have shared it From The Vault as I will be paying Mr. Arthur a return visit at The Troubadour this Saturday Night.)
The teams were supposed to be even – 3 straights and 3 gays. However, at the last minute one flip flopped and we found ourselves with the upper hand at 4-2. As we sat open, pillow-filled booth down the street from the Troubadour imbibing before the event, I waited diligently for ESPN to update me on the score of the 79th MLB All Star Game being played for the last time at Yankees Stadium. The highlights never came and, before we could order one more $15 pomegranate martini, we were on our way to see Joseph Arthur. Imagine my delight when I walked into the bar at the Troubadour and saw our hometown zero Russell Martin at the plate somewhere around the 14th inning. What was I missing, I thought? I love the All Star game, and it pained me to miss it. Martin ch(o)ked for the NL and so did Tejada who followed his at bat. I ordered a lite beer as to not be rude and watch the game like a mooch in the very empty bar. I stood and watched and while ads for DHL played, Joseph Arthur made his way to the stage. Just as the game was to come back on, though, the gal behind the bar switched off the game. I was left with no choice; it was time to check out the pride of Akron, Ohio.
As I walked through the double doors, I was shocked. The usually GA floor was covered with white plastic folding chairs that you would rent for a wedding and/or bingo night. Being the last person into the venue, I quickly discovered that I would be part of the standing room only crowd. Early Bird may get the worm, but at least I got to watch two pathetic outs of the All Star game. I own a few records by Mr. Arthur, but 95% of his Tuesday night set I did not recognize. Armed with only an acoustic guitar (there would be no digital loops or wacky guitar pedals on this night), he soothed the sold out crowd with a very mellow set (ok, he did kick his chair over at one point). Casual fans screamed out “hit” song requests by using lyrics, not song titles. Underage girls with fake IDs chatted over tender love songs, while a Seth Cohen look-alike hung out on the staircase watching on with puppy-dog love in his eyes. I, however, focused on two thing: waiting for that oh so important text message updating me on the All Star Game and trying not to fall asleep.
I realized last night that in my life I have listened to Joseph Arthur more while unconscious then while conscious. I am a music junkie, and my day is really only successful if I can have music playing 24/7. This includes driving, shower time & sleeping. I can not count the times I have put on this man’s records and fallen asleep. I do not say this as some sort of insult to the artist or to his music; I simply prefer his art to help my mind rest after a long day to the sleep aid known as Ambien. Personally, last night was a struggle for me. I really do like Joseph Arthur, and have always wanted to see him live. When my friends mentioned they were hitting this show, I quickly invited myself along. I hate to even say this, but well before the half way point, I found myself wishing it was over. I knew I was in trouble when I was more into his emullet (a mix of Bono’s 1980 mullet and some generic emo haircut you would find on a 14 year old boy at Hot Topic) then the music coming from the stage. Tuesday July 15th, was just one of those bad days for me and my mood was more Slayer than Joseph Arthur. They could have shot “Tootie” from The Facts of Life out of a cannon, and this angry, cranky old man would not have been impressed. So with apologies to Mr. Arthur, I should have stayed home and watched the All Star game. Maybe next time we will be on the same wave.
USELESS KEYS 01/08/10
The Viper Room – West Hollywood, CA
Words/Photos/Video by Reverend Justito
Often times in Los Angeles, music fans blow off opening acts and only show up for the main event. On the second Friday of 2010, I did the exact opposite. Last summer when I walked in on USELESS KEYS’ set closer at The Roxy, I was so impressed I promised myself I would seek them out again. Not one to break a promise, the Los Angeles-based band’s set at the Viper Room fit perfectly into my schedule on a warm winter night.
For 25 minutes, the band backed up what I had assumed after hearing that one song last summer. USELESS KEYS have created a massive sound that would make noise/fuzz/shoe gaze rock forefathers like My Bloody Valentine, Failure and Jawbox proud. Huge walls of rich, melodic distortion penetrate your senses via a three-guitar attack which has left my ears ringing a day later (keep in mind I wore earplugs). Leading the invasion of gnarling guitar goodness is lead axe-man Michael Regilio. With four others creating a dense sonic backdrop, Regilio is the type of player who can pinpoint the perfect pockets of time that need to be sent into overdrive and executes with a perfect mix of simplicity and creativity.
While Regilio leads the charge of guitars, the band naturally focuses around front man/guitarist Michael Bauer. The lengthy lefty hovers over the microphone stand as his soft haunting vocals perfectly compliment the intense wall of sound being created simultaneously. Bauer does a remarkable job of creating melodies that are dark and moody at one moment, only to be light and poppy the next. “Down Threw” is a perfect example of this, with gloomy verses reminiscent of Tripping Daisy and a his and hers chorus between Bauer and Bassist Guylaine Vivarat.
Vivarat is indeed the secret weapon. When not anchoring the ship with drummer Rory Modica, she is plucking out warm and melodic runs up the high end of her four strings. These brief journeys, much like Regilio’s, find that perfect pocket that sets USELESS KEYS apart from the countless hipster bands whose verse-chorus-verse format becomes stale by the second or third verse.
The club began to fill as the group made their magic upon the tiny stage. It didn’t matter if you were a frat boy, hipster, overweight Taco Bell addict in a Mastodon T-shirt or hard working/influential local disc jockey; USELESS KEYS gave you no choice but to be totally drawn in by their hypnotizing noisefuzzspaceshoegazepoprock songs. I know for a fact I was not the only one disappointed when the journey came to a close all too soon with the well crafted “White Noise”. I finished my beer and returned to my car, off to the next best thing on a Friday night, grateful that I was able to start 2010 with a fresh and solid performance. With a FREE month long residency at The Echo every Monday in February, and a debut E.P. on the horizon, 2010 is off to a solid start for USELESS KEYS.
Steel Panther (with Delta Rose & TARSHA) 12/28/2009
House of Blues – West Hollywood, CA
Words/Photos/Videos by Justin/concertconfessions.com
Racist, Homophobic and degrading to women, one would think that a band like Steel Panther would never survive liberal West Hollywood, CA. Yet the band once known as Metal Skool has used Monday nights on the Sunset Strip to organically grow their mock metal musical onslaught from underground buzz to worldwide domination. Having not seen the boys since their name change/major label record deal, a co-worker and I decided to make the most of our forced paid vacation from work and checked in with Steel Panther at their new home – House of Blues Sunset Strip.
First off, I must say that I was shocked that there was no security search and I was freely able to bring my camera into the usually fan unfriendly venue. This may be the first time in history I have nothing bad to say about my least favorite venue on the Sunset Strip (and beyond, Anaheim is even worse). God Frank and I walked up to the bar just in time to catch the end of the opening set from Delta Rose. Solid licks from what appeared to be young kids. In fact, they should have been main support, as the next artist – TARSHA was not worthy of cleaning trash post show, let alone performing on stage. Looking like a pregnant version of Mitch Kramer from the film Dazed and Confused the “vocalist” (who the band is named for) danced around like a T-rex with a Mcnugget made of kangaroo meat shoved up his anus. This is being nice; his vocals were even worse and not worth wasting words on. While the back bar rapidly filled up from folks fleeing the dance floor, the band performed generic Sunset Strip rock that make Buckcherry sound fresh, original and ground breaking. The only good thing about this painfully terrible artist was his bass player – Patrick Morgan. He reminded me a lot of Coheed and Cambria’s Michael Todd, both in sound and style. Patrick, please stop wasting your talent with this TARSHA clown, branch out and create something original.
After moving up from the bar to the main floor (tall boys in hand) it was minutes before midnight when Steel Panther hit the stage with a scorching cover of Motley Crue’s “Kickstart My Heart”. With front man Michael Starr playing up the lead guitarist Satchel managed to move a lot more than Motley axe slinger Mick Mars. For the next 75 minutes, the band proved why they have become the reigning kings of the Sunset Strip over the past decade with rocking riffs and offensive yet humorous stage banter.
Steel Panther works so well because of their relationship with the audience. No one is safe from humiliation in front of their peers, especially the willing. Hoping on stage after two songs, these gals were subjected to a dirty verbal lashing usually heard on the other side of the hill in the 818.
Musically, Steel Panther is a peak into the past for the current generation who were too young or perhaps not even born when spandex and aqua net ruled Sunset Blvd. Ok, sure Ratt was not re-working “La Bamba” into a highly racist yet hysterical number down the street at the Whiskey, but then again what do I know, I was in elementary school 370 miles north when that scene was going down. Hell, even recent numbers were not safe from Panthers mockery. The foursome used “The Reason” by Hoobastank to put males blocking females from the front row on cock block check.
It’s a good thing Southern California has a lot of pretty gals looking for attention. In the past, I have seen a gal or two get on stage with the band. On the last Monday of the first decade of the 21st century, all in attendance were blessed enough to have a good dozen women willing to shake and grind during covers like “Pour Some Sugar on Me” and originals including “Party All Day”. Hell, even lucky male audience members got some action. During a Two-For-Tuesday double shot of Guns ‘n’ Roses, Chad was brought upon stage for yawning in the crowd and ended up being rewarded with lap dances from two “dirty whores” during “Sweet Child O’ Mine”. The band booted Chad from their stage before the musical highlight of the night – a down and dirty version of the G’n’R classic “Mr. Brownstone”. As far as boob highlights, I think everyone appreciated the Asian with perfect breasts made next door in Beverly Hills showing a job well done before the band played their original number “Asian Hooker”.
Steel Panther managed to point out the only black guy in the crowd and make fun of him, repeatedly called female fans whores, sluts and requested they get their tubes tied so the band could bang them without condoms and dropped multiple gay slurs smack dab in the middle of the largest gay community in Southern California. The reason why it works is much in the same vein that South Park works. Steel Panther not only pick on everyone, they can make fun if themselves. Steel Panther is Spinal Tap in spandex. A hilarious spoof of what Hollywood was in 1986, with tasty riffs performed by solid musicians, and is NOT to be missed if you ever have a chance.
A few years before I was the concert confessing cubical warrior who hangs at Hollywood hotspots with Tom Morello and that dude who gets paid to beat the snot out of people, I drove various video tapes around in a highly decorated Scion XB. While there were many terrible things about making $9.00 to deliver digital betacam’s with Judge Judy episodes or Lexus commercials, there were some experiences that I truly miss. While many aspects of the Scions we got were stripped down, my boss made sure to get the good CD player/speakers. I often was expected to drive like a maniac (some execs often confuse video tapes with hearts in coolers going to transplant patients) and I can’t tell you how many rush hours Miasma by The Black Dahlia Murder helped me survive. Having seen the Waterford, Michigan melodic metallers a few times in the past, I had high hopes to catch them in support of their most recent record – Deflorate. I am sure you can imagine my excitement when my former road rage machine maker Scion brought the band to The Roxy in West Hollywood, CA for free.
Oddly enough, I actually had more fun waiting for the show than inside the show. I hit the sidewalk with fellow concert confessions user God Frank around 6:45pm, and found the line to already be rather long. In the 105 minutes that we waited in line, we watched some kids (who were cool enough to go buy us beer without us even asking) pay a 53 year old homeless man $15 to have a dance off with them. For those interested in the results, the cash heavy early had better overall moves, but dragon breath at 30+ years older busted some serious split. I was personally invited to participate in group sex act with 15 year olds boys, and when I looked to the father who was the chaperone for the night, he just smiled and seemed real proud of his flock of braces, acne and hated of the Raiders nation. Perhaps most important we discovered the first known North American MexiMetalMullet wook #17 as he walked up and down Sunset Blvd no less than 38 times. Sometimes the soul just needs laughter and on the first Thursday night in December, we were blessed with some very awesome temporary friends.
With a very slow entrance process into the venue being the worst part of the night, we ended up being some of the very last people allowed into the venue. Having already missed the opening band Revocation, we didn’t even have time to use the restroom and grab a drink before The Black Dahlia Murder hit the stage. As the curtain went up with a wall of feedback, the club erupted into pure chaos. With no guard rail, the very young crowd charged from the circle pit onto the stage, looking to jump back into a sea of their peers.
The band used its 42 minute headline set to pack fan favorites in with a few choice new songs. When fronmtman Trevor Strnad was not encouraging the crowd to get naked with him, he controlled the all ages crowd with a steady mix of screams and over-exaggerated hand motions. While the uneducated ear may pass it off simply as screaming, Strnad’s vocal range is rather remarkable. He made sure to show it off during songs like “Black Valor” and “A Vulgar Picture” hitting high shrieks and thunderously low growls. With more than one stage diver offering the Wayne/Garth “We’re not worthy” bow down to drummer Shannon Lucas, it was guitarist Brian Eschbach who protected them by getting into multiple fight with the one security guard who tried to stop the onslaught of fans upon the stage.
Really, at 42 minutes, the show was over before I felt the band had even really got started. To be fair, it was free, and the band needed to get to LAX to catch a flight to South America. It’s just that knowing what these guys can do upon the stage it wasn’t enough. Being one of the last ones in, I was on the opposite side of their new lead axe slinger Ryan Knight, which prevented me from watching him only improve an already technically solid musical machine. All the more reason I will do my best to check them out the next time they come through LA I suppose. So as the curtain came down before the band hardly had time to break a sweat, we hit the strip once again, this time meeting up with some real friends. As I clutched my free pair of Scion socks, I realized that with a few small changes, Scion has a pretty cool thing going here, let’s hope we will be fortunate enough to get plenty of free metal from the auto maker in 2010.
So there I was Thursday night, standing outside the Roxy Theater chatting with The Maldonado brothers when adult film legend Ron Jeremy strolled by. As scenesters sucked on cancer sticks oblivious to their surroundings, we watched as a homeless man tried to sell the King of Porn roses as he made his way up the strip to the Rainbow Room. Just another Thursday night in Hollywood, I suppose.
A few hours earlier, I had walked into The Roxy as USELESS KEYS wrapped up their opening set. I have to admit, I wish I had showed up a bit earlier to catch this four piece who (judging by one song) meet somewhere between Silversun Pickups and Brand New with a dash of Autolux 83 minutes after popping a Valium. If I know one thing from our five glorious minutes together, it’s that I need to seek them out again. After the curtain dropped on USELESS KEYS, I hit the bar for a very strong drink and smiled, knowing that I was probably the only person in the vacuous club who was in on the secret of the next act. Yet, even I was in for a surprise when the curtain rose and revealed the band I paid $13.50 to see.
Into The Presence consists of core members Luis Maldonado and Tim Alexander. Imagine my shock in discovering that both Mr. Alexander as well as bass player Jenn Oberle were MIA from the stage. Before things had even sunk in, the trio (who was later joined on stage by Ana Lenchantin on Cello) went head first into “End Game” while most of the crowd kept a firm grip on their beverages back by the bar.
Over the next 30 minutes, the band managed to win over the jaded Thursday night crowd, one audience member at the time. As Luis Maldonado (who was joined by his brother Hector on Bass, and a drummer whose name I believe is Josh ) led the recent recruits through songs from their recently released self titled record, it was clear that it was his night to shine. Songs like “The Garden” allowed the musical prodigy to race up and down his fret board hypnotizing the crowd. His powerful vocals screaming “We’ve Lost Communication” couldn’t speak louder to me on a personal level these days. I think it was during “Radio” when one young audience member/student at the Cobra Kai dojo out in the San Fernando Valley was won over by the pulsating prog meets 70’s glam rock songs. Wearing a totally tubular headband, he used the wide open dance floor to show his approval with a series of serious martial art moves that not only complimented Hector’s monster bass bombs, but resulted in a rather epic tweet from another member of the crowd.
The musical highlight of the set was when Luis (joined by just Lenchantin) strapped on an acoustic guitar and played the delicate “My Only Crime”. While anyone can shred on an electric guitar, the Spanish influence meets monster Steve Vai shredding by Luis is just part of what makes this song so intense. Lenchantin’s haunting cello complimented Luis the acoustic guitar perfectly. This was the moment in which the audience shifted, and Into The Presence had them eating out of their hands. In fact, watching Into The Presence perform to an unexpecting audience is much like watching a Shepard on the job. The sheep may be lost and spread out, but by the time the band launches into the closer “Dear Father“, the Shepard has gathered the flock and collectively brought them home. I may hold the record at this point for most L.A. ITP shows attended with four. The last two times, I have been in on the secret and been able to watch as the haunting riffs and sonic sounds win over unexpecting crowds. I just hope that in a day and age of a dying music industry, that many more are lucky enough to be exposed to Into The Presence.
I managed to catch a bit of the next band who were called Blood Cat Love. I have nothing nice to say about these unoriginal and painfully bland collective of cliches. Somehow the worst of Silver Lake indie rock managed to regurgitate just past Pioneer Chicken on Sunset Blvd and float down the gutters to the Roxy, and while fatties with Emo-mullets (long in the back, messy on top and dumb shavings into the side) rejoiced as the generic group did their thing on stage. I decided it was enough and called it a night. Good thing I did as well. Otherwise, I would never have met up with the brothers Maldonado and discovered that The Hedgehog Ron Jeremy drives a beat up compact commuter chevy. Oh how I shall miss Thursday nights in Hollyweird.
Words/Photos By Reverend Justito/concertconfessions.com
(NOTE: All photos taken with an iphone as House Of Blues does not allow cameras)
Standing up against the bar alongside stage left inside Hollywood’s House Of Blues Thursday night, I was distracted from the on stage action by a young man who fit the exact description of a heavy metal stereotype:A young Latino with long fluffy hair, black denim jeans, a faded leather jacket and 1980’s white high-top sneakers.Exhausted from hours in the circle pit, the thrash enthusiast leaned up against a trashcan, trying to catch his breath.In that moment, it became clear to me that he needed relief.With no Gatorade in site, I gave the pit warrior the last 6 ounces of my Coors Light.A large smile spread across his face as he pounded what was left of my Rocky Mountain Freshness.Much like Popeye when he eats his spinach, the metal head was instantly rejuvenated.He quickly thanked me once again and sprinted into the pit to catch the remainder of East Bay Thrash legends Testament’s headlining set.
It was Thursday afternoon when I was offered a free ticket/all access pass to the triple bill of Lazarus AD, Unearth and Testament at House of Blues.Despite the fact I despise House of Blues (that’s another blog for another day) I wanted to hang with my pals so I decided to put aside my grudge and check the show out.Besides, despite often feeling out of place and in the way, getting to hang back stage with bands always brings a smile to my face.I am very blessed to have some generous friends within the music industry, and I am always grateful when they let me tag along, especially on a weeknight.
I had never been in the balcony at House of Blues Sunset, but we headed up there to check out the evening’s first band: Lazarus AD.Holy hell fire – this Kenosha, Wisconsin four-piece not only won the jaded Hollywood crowd over with great ease, but had some huge circle pits going inside the large club as well.With blistering solos and great, heavy grooves, the upstart band absolutely destroyed everything in their path during their brief 30-minute opening set.I wish I knew more about these guys so I could share more.Instead, I will just say this: with an extensive summer tour still planned, these future thrash legends are not to be missed.You will not be disappointed.
After wandering around back stage for a bit, my friends and I returned to the balcony to check out Winthrop, Massachusetts’ metallers, Unearth.Supporting lasts years “The March” (which came out on my wedding day for those keeping score at home), the five piece band sounded tight during their main support act.It didn’t matter if the band was playing a new song like “We Are Not Anonymous” or an older number like “Endless” (which the band dedicated to headliners Testament); the crowd was eating it up.Axe slingers Ken Susi and Buz McGrath (who was wearing a Dr. Dre T-shirt) criss-crossed the stage while vocalist Trevor Phipps encouraged the capacity crowd to increase the size of the circle pit.The band wrapped up their 45 minute set with arguably their biggest hit – “Black Hearts Now Reign”.As venue security executed brutal chokeholds on excited kids who crowd surfed over the rail, McGrath tore up the fret board on his 7-string guitar.Not even the pain of losing oxygen by paid staff could wipe the smiles Unearth brought to the excited few who made it over.
I have to confess; I only caught about a third of Testament’s headline set (my pals decided they would rather drink with the opening bands, and I was fine with that).Despite growing up across the bay from their stomping grounds, my knowledge of Testament is limited to what I heard blasting through the speakers of my best friends Mustang back in High School.The bit that I did see was very impressive and makes me realize I have missed out on some rather awesome songs.As we watched from the side bar, the band sounded great after approximately a year on the road.For as crazy as the crowd was for the opening bands, Testament had the audience eating out of the palm of their hands.
For me, the highlight was a song called “Practice What You Preach”. I believe that life should be about making a positive impact whenever you can. I know I often fail but sometimes, in life, even I surprise myself. When that kid stumbled out of the pit exhausted from running around like a maniac, I knew he needed that beer more than me. Besides, I had been blessed enough that evening with a free ticket, backstage pass and a great group of friends who not only hooked me up because I am a live music junkie, but also have my back when it really matters.
It is a well known fact to musicians that King’s X are the Rodney Dangerfield of Rock & Roll. For 20+ years this three piece has toured the world bringing their muscular mix of metal, gospel, funk and blues to anyone willing to listen. From stealing the show Friday night at Woodstock ‘94 to playing every club/bar across the world King’s X always brings their A game when they take the stage. That’s why it’s truly a shame they have not gotten the respect they deserve after all these years. A fan for 15 years, I was first in line to grab tickets to their show here at the Key Club in West Hollywood, CA, knowing a King’s X performance is something special and not to be missed.
Within five minutes of our arrival, I already had a 50+ year old with a fluffy mullet and faded leather jacket grab my package (this is after I kindly informed her I was married). As offensive as that was, nothing offended me more than the performance by the main support act – Conspiracy of Thought. Wow, words can not describe how horrible this band was. Perhaps it was because they played out of tune? Perhaps it was the fact that their image was a joke (really, a bald front man with devil horns, cut the crap already), perhaps they just want to make me listen to a Paris Hilton record Whatever the excuse, these guys sound about 35 times worse than Mudvayne at their first practice, with a little bit of Static-X after taking 25 date rape pills and washing it down with a large cup of diarrhea. My goal with this site is to not be negative towards bands and their art, but TOC (as their 12 fans chanted between songs) have made me break that rule. During the entire set, I tried to find one nice thing to say about you guys, and you have given me nothing. Heck, ya’ll were even being douche bags during King’s X set, which just shows how worthless you are. I assume ya’ll paid big bucks to get that opening slot, perhaps that cash would have been better invested in musical lessons.
After a lengthy delay due to guitarist Ty Tabor’s having some kind of gear issue, King’s X took the stage just past Midnight. As is tradition at this point, the band opened with the mid 90’s classic “Groove Machine.” A pulsating juggernaut that serves and the perfect musical welcome, within seconds the band was locked deep into the groove and ready to showcase their unique rock and roll masterpieces, both new and old.
Early in the set (when the band was not being further interrupted by one drunk knocking out another) the band took the chance to play some songs off their most recent album – XV. “Alright” was the perfect song to follow “Groove Machine”. It’s a quick and simple rock and roll song, that warms up both the band and the crowd. “Move” felt as if the ground was doing just that. With a super low end bass from Dug Pinnick shaking the club, the song slowly built into a melodic chorus with just enough bite to separate it from all those generic rock radio acts. A bit later, the band performed what is there recent mission statement. Perhaps a bit tired of not getting the respect they so deserve “Go Tell Somebody” encourages us fans to do just that. Consider this your warning.
The band also went deep into it’s extensive back catalogue. Early on we got two songs from their 1992 self titled album. “Black Flag” felt a bit spacier than normal, but was still solid and thunderous while “Lost In Germany” was rich in texture from both Tabor’s delicate guitar playing and rich vocal harmonies. Going even further back was the song “Summerland” (from the timeless record Gretchen Goes To Nebraska). The band didn’t even have to instruct the capacity crowd to sing along. Pinnick just sat back and let the crowd (which included Actor Hal Sparks) finish off the number.
Much like “Groove Machine” always opens the set, “Over My Head” always marks the end of the main set. Both my friend and I who have been to many King’s X shows over the years were shocked at just how quickly that end came. Regardless, we both knew we were in for a long musical journey as Pinnick screamed the songs opening lines into the mic. The song starts out rocking, but after the first few minutes it goes deep into a long jam. Lead by Tabor, the band brings you up only to crash you back down again into a slow slow groove. This is normally where Pinnick takes over free flowing on whatever he so chooses. I have heard how him discuss there is no bad music, only good music. I have heard him talk in depth about his grandmother (who is mentioned within the lyrics of the song) and I have heard him demand the decriminalization of Cannabis. On this night, not only did he call us a rock and roll choir for the rock and roll church of King’s X, but he touched on the importance of loving each other no matter who we are, or what we believe. Fitting for a band who was unfairly dubbed a “Christian” act only to lose a large number of those fans when Pinnick came out of the closet back in the 1990’s.
The band came back for an encore that featured two songs from their “Faith Hope & Love” record. The first one was “It’s Love” which according to Dug they don’t think they play very well, but the fans always ask for it. I thought they played it just fine as did everyone else in the crowd. It is a two way street with King’s X and their fans, energy going both ways, which is why they are still around and why we keep coming back for more. The last song of what appears to be an abbreviated set was “We Were Born To Be Loved.” Know to most as one of the themes Paul Shaffer’s CBS Orchestra uses to go in and out of commercial breaks on “The Late Show” the songs on again/off again riffs influenced just about every Nu Metal band even if those now long gone acts realized it or not.
A majority of the lyrics within King’s X songs showcase a struggle with self-worth and acceptance all while trying to remember to treat each and every single person on this planet with respect (still trying to come up with something nice to say about that opening band). Growing up, King’s X got me through some dark, dark times and seeing them is always cleansing for my soul. I can only imagine these men have been through. Worse than me I am sure, yet they keep on doing what they do no matter how big or small the crowd is. They are a constant reminder to not give up, to not give in and love myself for who I am no matter what anyone else thinks. They have truly helped me over the years. So go check em out. See this tour, buy an album, check em out on You Tube and once you are hooked like me – Go Tell Somebody.
It had been a decade and a half since the classic Bay Area thrashers Forbidden played live in Los Angeles. The City of Hollywood got the long awaited taste of some infamous thrash metal at the Key Club March 26th and surely did not disappoint! Los Angeles was the first stop on a very short California tour that would end up meeting quite a few loyal fans that have awaited a long while to see a piece of metal history. Right beside those that may have been lucky to see them back in the day of the early/mid 1990’s, the new metal generation that I feel who were the smart ones to have attended, seemed eager to see Forbidden to collectively add them to the list of many under-appreciated pioneers of Bay Area Thrash metal.
There were only a small few openers all for which did not have a name that shined as favorable nor sounded as brutal as Forbidden. The first band by the name of Lethal Dossage took the stage @ 7:30 pm to a club that barely held more than 2 dozen people at the time. Attendance was strikingly low for the first 3 hours. I felt that maybe more of the metal heads had skipped across town this night to Orange County to see Destruction who just played the Key Club 2 nights before with an “almost” sold-out and obnoxious crowd. Maybe the competition was too tough? Not in the least. More fans were on their way, but it seemed that the bands prior to Forbidden just couldn’t bevy up enough interest to put asses in the pit at an early time. Remember, it’s been more than 14 years, why not wait another 4 hours? Lethal Dossage could have simply passed as a cool Slayer cover band though no Slayer songs were covered…the lead singer had an eerie likeness of Tom Araya’s voice, so much so, I had hoped for a Slayer tune or two though to no avail, they were just mediocre at best.
The next beating we endured was Elfion. Elfion is Elf language for “stab thy ears”. This band had been reviewed and chewed by me in my blog for Exodus back in December of 2008. Power metal without a doubt, the ball pinching & wincing was sure to make a deaf man hear again so these lads really do have a talent after all if you think about it in a sick sort of way.
Moving on….Letum Ascensus is another Los Angeles band purely Death metal ~ no more, no less. The band leaves nothing to the imagination for which they really do need one to keep the music more interesting. It seemed every song drilled out was an extension of the one before it and then maybe a 12” mix somewhere in between. Boris on vocals could pass as Glen Benton of Deicide, or maybe not, considering the only thing missing from Boris is the upside down cross that has long been branded onto Glen’s forehead. Death metal nowadays is either old rehash or had been crossbred with metalcore with some vegan/ soy bullshit for decoration and bad taste (i.e. White Chapel, Cattle Decapitation, Blood Runs Black, Despised Icon, blah, blah blah). Letum Ascensus wasn’t breaking new ground though they didn’t have the pig squels, which I give them kudos for, they should just stay home next time and play Deicide’s “Deicide” over and over and over again to get the feeling of how redundant their sound was.
At this time @ 9:30 pm, the security for the upstairs dining area informed Matt & I that the club capacity had reached about 151 persons. Disturbing as this seemed, I was almost convinced that the real metal fans stood up Forbidden and had eloped with Destruction to Orange County for a night of beer, bullets and mosh pit bruises. Disappointed and slightly embarrassed, the last band before Forbidden didn’t amuse me either though they did compliment Forbidden’s set well. Their name is Psychosis. Not to be confused with a band by the same name that are from Texas and slightly Christian, this band however, had formed during the early 90’s brandishing a Bay Area sound and stake their claim here in the Los Angeles/North Hollywood metal scene. They are new but then they are not, however, the singer Bruce Hall laid it out to those of us listening that this had been only their 6th live show. For simple metal spirit, I will say that they did a great set considering the randomness and sketchy past the band members have endured. Pychosis did not have many songs to give us but what they did hammer out was worth the listen.
Upon Psychosis finishing up their finale, the crowd started to swell up down below as the headbangers gathered for a night long worth the wait. I was pleased as punch to see that the fans, from where ever they came, took the time and spent the few dollars to come and see Forbidden. Too bad for those that did not, but from what I have learned recently, Forbidden are slated to return to the States for a Fall tour.
Forbidden hijacked the stage at 11pm with the intro: Parting ways. The songs are as follows (Matt was lucky enough to have the sound guy give up the set list at the end of the show!): Parting Ways, Infinite…, Forbidden Evil, Off The Edge, Step By Step, Twisted Into Form, Follow Me, Tossed Away, Green, Out of Body, March Into Fire, Eyes of Glass, One Foot In Hell, and Chalice of Blood. “Off The Edge” gave way for clouds of foul weed, stage divers falling on their heads and moshers colliding. While the immense energy downstairs lingered in the air as though lightning had stricken the stage, the amps started to give out. After the song, Russ Anderson amazed himself at how great the sound was, “Shit’s blowin’ up~must be good!!” If one didn’t know what was going on, a person would have thought Russ may had taken a puff from some Pineapple Express….once the amps were fixed, Russ introduced the band.
Russ sounded good. I’m not one to extend my opinion on a band that I had not previously seen years before but from past film footage and more obviously from listening to Forbidden’s cds that Russ wasn’t hitting the highest of the high notes. This isn’t bad because he did so well that night despite the long absence that any of the albums, namely, “Forbidden Evil” & “Twisted into Form” (more popularly the first two of course) could have been brand new material just recorded and would have passed as thrash classics. Speaking of such, Russ mentioned this seemingly new past time of re-recording older material and asked if just maybe it should be done. More notably for the album “Twisted into Form” ~ his response? “You don’t mess with history….” Point well taken!
Ear candy such as “March into Fire” and “One Foot in Hell” found more and more stage divers crawling up the pants legs of the band members to use their bodies as objects to pursue straight forward thrash metal statements. I had caught 2 to 3 different fans that made it to the stage falling to their knees and bowing to Russ and the guitarist Craig Lucicero as if they were the physical manifestations of Ra, the Egyptian Sun god. I was highly tickled by this and though I certainly do not carry such brass balls to hit up the stage like that, I give the kids kudos in doing so to show their enthusiasm for such great talent.
“The Still Twisted West Coast Blitz” ended 15 minutes early (WTF?) though without an encore (that I could remember) the fans were left salivating for more. Forbidden left the stage never to return that night leaving many thinking they would. We were befuddled but certainly not disappointed! Regardless, idle chatter and background noise gave me the sense that people had a good time. When Forbidden return so shall we, Twisted but still Evil!!
The Key Club in Hollywood is always (in our opinion) the best place to see a Metal show. The Security is cool, the food and drink is delectable (though they recently shortened and changed their dinner menu) and there isn’t a bad spot to stand in to see the mayhem that takes stage. Matt & I have been here many, many times and it’s usually busy. Rarely have there been shows that have been light in attendance. The show for Armored Saint and Death Angel on March 6th 2009 saw a turn out that packed the house to the ceiling (officially SOLD OUT @700-800 bodies) with a personal surprise of a crowd not familiar to the underground metal scene: the lost and unhip middle-aged adult that grew out of regularly attending metal concerts in order to pursue the “American Dream”…not to forget that they also lost the god-given sense to uphold any public etiquette when it came to drinking alcohol.
Matt & I showed up about 6pm to only find nobody in line, however, the die-hard Thrash kids were there hanging about as usual. I’m glad they showed up and we do know a few of them as one shook Matt’s hand and exchanged greetings. This show was not being repeated throughout the United States and as seasoned metal heads, we both agreed that the younger Los Angeles Thrash and Death metal heads should have been at this show. However, there were a handful of smaller underground gigs in the process that night in lower class neighborhoods for which we will not attend due to lack of good security. I like to refer to some of these fans and venues that support the bands as “Ghetto Metal”…for a quick laugh of course.
A survey of the crowd that started to gather behind us added up quickly in our minds as to the demographic that later that night took the Key Club hostage. Quite a few attendees were older than us sporting vintage Armored Angel, Van Halen, and random bar & restaurant t-shirts but mostly plain collared shirts with jackets for the men. Oh, and I can’t forget the bad aftershave cologne added to those tacky threads. Some women were dressed to walk all day at the downtown swap meet while others were dressed too sexy for their age…more like it, the MILF’s, GILF’s and Cougars (one that had a Scorpions “bitch tattoo”) were prowling the premises for ungodly reasons but one random idea could have been because they were dragged there to support their husband’s one night a month out with the guys.
For an unholy long hour in line we people watched and listened to an agonizing cell phone conversation with a gentleman that seemed clueless as to what type of bands that were playing, “Yeah, mom, it’s, mom, it’s heavy metal, yeah, rock n’ roll or something, mom…” We didn’t think this guy was planning on attending Swallow the Sun this Sunday either. “Mom, Jesus loves you and so do I…yeah, mom…” The bouncer needed to open the doors quick before I took my writing pen and shoved it in both ears….
We both made it inside at 7:40pm only to now wait for our dinner reservations which were set at 8:15pm. Matt decided to leave and exchange our tickets he bought earlier for next week’s shows for the sale price printed inside the club on a bunch of posted flyers. These included Forbidden and Destruction. I was left on the floor in a dark corner on a torn up couch watching as the club filled up like a sinking ship in an ocean full of clueless people not knowing where to stand. “Excuse me, is this area reserved?” (trying not to laugh) “No, man, just stand where ever you want, except up stairs”. Most of these people were too afraid to move up to the front. It was like they fell into another dimension and just discovered a new world that was only told of in fairy tales. However, the liquor wasn’t hard to find and the smell was rampant just as it poured from the bottles into the plastic cups. This was going to be one fucked up bunch of people. This thought took me back in time to when Matt & I drove quite a distance to see AC/DC at a 50,000+ show about 10 years ago or so. That was a bad night and though the crowd here at the Key Club was more than 50 times smaller, consumed alcohol + lack of common sense + limited amount of body space = triple threat. It was going to get loud and obnoxious. Matt made it back and on up stairs it was to our dinner table.
There were no opening bands. Good. Nice for a change though the crowd, as unhip as they seemed, would have only yelled for Armored Saint longer until they took stage. The merchandise table was disturbingly weak with Armored Saint t-shirts mainly in black and white, nothing catching our eyes except for some compact discs for which we already have minus one. I had made plans to buy a Dark Angel shirt but only a few were there with the art piece from the latest album on the front, which was sadly printed to look like a blob, lacking detail. The moniker “Prepare to Meet Thy God” was printed on the back. It was a choice of all black or all white and not much else. I declined and we headed back up stairs.
Death Angel hit the stage at 8:50pm. We quickly wolfed down our garlic fries and secured our dinner table. The band sounded great! They were vivacious, aggressive, and loud! The only stage paraphernalia adorned was a large backdrop of the latest album cover artwork “Killing Season”. This is a magnificent cover! The piece is called “A New Divinity” by artist Kris Kuksi. Check out his art on either myspace or www.kuksi.com ~ visually stunning creations! They fired first into “Lord of Hate” then into “Thrashers”. The microphone zapped out of commission during this time and then kept giving the singer, Mark Osegueda, trouble into the third song. After “Dethroned” the Mark went on to address the crowd in giving their gratitude to our presence by giving us a “God bless you guys” line…Matt & I just looked at each other with a “WTF?” written on our faces. Matt claims that the singer did this twice and I wasn’t too thrilled with that. When you aren’t a religious person you don’t understand the personal usage for such English treachery. I would have been more thrilled with “You guys ROCK” rather than “God bless you”. We are highly rebellious and don’t quite see Death Angel being this soft considering how brutal live they are. Ozzy Osbourne says the same shtick at his gigs but it’s unavoidably predictable for him; Ozzy is just nuts. It’s a subtle line of religiousness that doesn’t choke down easily with us. I’m actually disappointed on a personal level.
Mosh pitters were there that kept the older crowd entertained. Of course, the mosh pits were by our beloved Thrash kids that stick to their guns in supporting the old school bands. By the middle of Death Angel’s set, people had been hovering around our dinner table like flies on shit. This pissed us both off to where we had to keep the security guards busy in getting people off our backs. By this time, the alcohol was destroying the few tiny brain cells left in those that should have gone home to take care of their personal hygiene…and to score some better weed because the stank upstairs was wretched!!
Most of the songs that Death Angel played were from the new album Killing Season including “Sonic Beatdown” and “Souless”. One song from Act III “Seemingly Endless Time”, two songs from Art of Dying, “Thrown to the Wolves” and “5 steps of freedom” and a couple from Frolic Through the Park, “3rd Floor” and “Bored”. A hand full from The Ultra-Violence album: “Evil Priest”, “Kill As One”, “Voracious Souls” and the aforementioned above, “Thrashers”. Matt was stoked over the drummer Andy Galeon! This guy killed the drum set and didn’t seem to wince once and could pummel through anything! I was impressed with this band, though I am the Blackmetal fiend, I am glad to have finally witnessed another piece of history live from the Bay Area. Death Angel played an hour and 20 minutes, 10 minutes longer than scheduled. How do I know these things? We always have our dinner table set right above the booth reserved for the audio check. We can look down and watch the sound and lights managers while looking upon the set list, though, they aren’t always available.
Giving peace signs and not the devil horns were another subtle gesture of tonight’s entertainment. Fans gave the “devil horns” but for what reason, I still don’t know…warding off evil spirits as the function once stood for hundreds of years ago isn’t so much the intention today. It really means nothing. I found this night’s concert funny, irritating, sad, embarrassing and a little “kick-ass” all at the same time. Matt & I had ordered our last meal of the evening after Death Angel gave their farewells. Considering what we had endured during D.A.’s set, it was going to be 10X worse. We shoved our sandwiches down our throats and braced for the best!
Armored Saint, we later understood via one of the bouncers, had a grip of friends invited to the show. In between sets, one drunken fellow got in Matt’s face while he was trying to read the menu. The stranger claimed he was friends with the drummer Gonzo and then proceeded to give his two cents on what was good to eat. The idiot completely ignored the fact that Matt wanted him to move away because he kept bumping into him without conscience. (In case you didn’t know, Armored Saint is a local band dating back to the early 1980’s. They hail from Los Angeles, California). We both marveled at the number of people that tried to view over our heads (mind you we are sitting at a dinner table overlooking a railing onto the dance floor/pit and stage). It was annoying to say the least, to have a cock shot right in your face when you turned around to look behind you! Both of us grumbled to no end after Armored Saint crashed the stage(@ 10:50pm) while the drunken forty-something’s broke out into a mutant form of head-banging that neither went with the drum beat nor any chord. It was more to the chime of an irregular heartbeat at best! The stage had “Armored Saint” in logo fashion tied to the ceiling hanging down above Gonzo. On both sides, metal rods each held six long strands of chains while to the left a shiny metal knight stood watching the chaos that ensued on the dance floor. I’m not particularly a fan of this band’s caliber, however, this is a band that Matt was fond of and I had agreed to go for Metal’s sake. I wasn’t disappointed but I do feel that I do not need to see them again…unless the tickets are free, LOL! John Bush did sound awesome and this is the band for him. I’m not a fan whatsoever of the John Bush with Anthrax. That will forever be Joey Belladonna in my humble opinion! John Bush adorned a white t-shirt while looking completely blazed which said “I call Bullshit” that made Matt crack up. John is now bald as an American eagle but still looks Metal! Armored Saint gave forth the first track off of Symbol of Salvation called “Reign of Fire”. After slaying the crowd the set went on with these in order: “March of the Saint”, “Paydirt”, “Warzone”, “Last Train Home”, “Book of Blood”, “False Alarm”, Aftermath”, “Symbol of Salvation”, “Long before I die”, “Chemical Euphoria” (Matt’s favorite) (ENCORE) “Can U Deliver” and finally “Madhouse”. For the fans that know these songs, it is an obvious guess as to the song that should have been played but was left out (for those who don’t, it was “Droppin’ Like Flies”). From what I gather, the set had possibly been cut short as the show ended about 10 minutes after midnight (it was scheduled to 12 midnight). Also, upon saying their good-byes, Gonzo may have strained his right arm as he was given help walking from his drum kit, gingerly flexing his wrist and forearm.
No matter what was left out, everyone seemed to agree that Armored Saint did a fantastic job of bringing back the old school to the new fans and to the ones that may have missed them several years ago. Crowd surfing and stage diving wasn’t forgotten as part of the Thrash etiquette to say the least because A. S. still knows how to keep it brutal.
As for us, we waited till it calmed the fuck down before we could peel our asses off the seats. Most of the crowd did stay and keep the decibel level to 10+ with just their voice box. We finally left and I gave a sigh as the chilly night air hit my face; it was time to go home and regain my hearing once again.
I wouldn’t make it a habit of hanging out with the likes of females that look like they dropped out of a Whitesnake video, some wearing “Mom jeans” swinging their child bearing hips or the typical middle-aged male wearing that touristy outfit only he should wear to Disneyland. We both agreed that the metal crowd that is “in the know” is the speed we cruise in. So, I can safely say that there will never be any potential nor by sheer will for the need to tattoo “Armored Saint” above my ass when I’m 44 years old! Not going to happen…it will be Dimmu Borgir! *cracks a smile*
Words/Photos/Videos by Justin/concertconfessions.com
Into The Presence - On The Rox 01/30/09
Friday night, I took another $12.00 cab ride down the Sunset Strip to check out the exciting new rock band Into The Presence. After being blown away by their set two weeks ago, I knew I could not miss the final Friday of their month long residency On The Rox. After saying hello to the venues wonderful door woman Stephanie, I made my way upstairs knowing that the evening was going to be a blast. Off the bat, I was very excited to see that the venue already had double the amount of people who made it out two weeks ago. I walked through the crowd and found a spot up front just in time to catch OC act The Living Suns.
The Living Suns - 01/30/09 West Hollywood, CA
During their 30 minute set, I couldn’t figure out if this six piece band was an indie band or a jam band. Hell, maybe they are both?!?!?!?!. With their unique mix of the previously listed genres, the real joy in seeing this band is not their fan base of females banging very large shoes against the dance floor, but the feeling that this band could combust at any given moment. They quickly ditched the planned set list, with their keyboard player clearly calling the shots. What really stood out to me was the struggle within the music. It seemed as if it wanted to go six different directions, and while that may sound like a train wreck, they somehow make it work. If my gut hunch is correct, if these guys can survive each other, the sky is the limit for them.
The Living Suns - On The Rox 01/30/09
While a few of the big shoes cleared out, many stayed behind. I grabbed another round while one band tore down and another set up the stage that can not be higher than six inches off the dance floor. I mingled with some Primus fans within my vicinity and just after 11:30 pm the band took the stage. Opening with “End Game” right off the bat I noticed that the band sounded much tighter than just two weeks prior. Maybe it was my change in location, but the PA sounded much cleaner as well, giving already melodic music that much more feeling.
Luis Carlos Maldonado of Into The Presence 01/30/09
Two weeks ago, I was more focused on Tim for most of the evening, but this time around, I was really drawn in my the guitar playing of front man Luis Carlos Maldonado. Watching some of his riff work while singing some rather complex melodies was nothing short of impressive. As a power trio, the grooves were tight, especially between Tim Alexander on drums and Jenn Oberle on bass. “The Garden” was really rocking as drinks continued to flow through the crowd. “Sleep” a cover by the band Ardent is a great softLOUDsoft epic that clocks in at around 7 minutes. The way Maldonado plays the main heavy lick, you forget that you are in a tiny room, and feel as if you are inside a large arena with 20,000 people behind you going crazy.
Tim Alexander & Jen Oberle of Into The Presence 01/30/09
The band played for about an hour, and was once again joined later in the set by Ana Lenchantin on cello. Towards the tail end of their set, a funny moment occurred in the final moments of the softer number “My Only Crime”. Some folks decided they would rather chat then listen, and after a stare down by Maldonado failed he called em out while not missing a beat. It was classic. They closed their set with a real rocking song leaving on a musical high, and winning over the still rather large crowd. I managed to talk with some of the band members after the show, and it only further confirmed my newfound love for this band. In a town with a lot of fakes, they were truly kind to me and other fans fortunate enough to say hello. This week beat me up pretty bad on many levels, but it was all worth it for the rewards of Friday night. I got to have a few drinks, be a little bit of the uber-dork fan that secretly hates having to play it cool in Hollywood and I saw two great up and coming bands. Pretty good way to kick off Super Bowl weekend if I say so myself.
It was a warm spring night in Palo Alto California when Papa Roach and I decided to go our separate ways. The date was April 24, 2000 and as I exited The Edge Nightclub I knew in my heart the special thing we had was over. The next day, the band would release their major label debut Infest and tour the country with Taproot. Warped Tour would follow that summer and by then I knew it would be too late for the two of us. It was hard to let go, to say goodbye to something I loved so much. I felt it all, anger, jealousy, depression, happiness, but above all else I felt a sense of accomplishment knowing that my little band that I saw no less than 20 times between 1998 & 200 had made their dreams come true. For years, I lurked in the shadows and watched from a distance. The hits, the transformation from a funk/rap nu metal band to a red state rock band, the Pepsi commercials, the celebrity marriages and of course Jacoby “5 bucks what the F*ck” Shaddix hosting Scarred on MTV.
Walking into the Troubadour in West Hollywood on Wednesday night, I didn’t know what to expect. It had been 3236 days since I had last seen Papa Roach obliterate a club stage (heck any stage), but knowing that this small club show was to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of their discovery at the West Hollywood musical landmark, the time was right to say hello again. I knew I would not be playing video games in the lobby with Jerry like we used to at the Phoenix in Petaluma. I knew Jacoby would not lick the foot of my pal to convince her to buy a $5 demo. But what I didn’t know is if I could capture the old magical feeling that sent my pals and me following the foursome all over Northern California weekend after weekend.
The night started with some terrible band called Bangkok Five. If Buckcherry is a bad rip off of Guns N’ Roses, then do we really need a band who is a bad rip off of Buckcherry? Not at all, which is why I sat in the bar with my wife drinking the devils juice as poured by a VERY pregnant bartender (who we made sure to tip well). I did make sure to catch the opening set by Los Angeles power trio the DISOWNED. Watch out for this band, they bring it and bring it well. The only song I can name from their power packed 30 minute set was a rowdy cover of “Holiday In The Sun” by The Sex Pistols. With additional gigs across the southland on the schedule, I hope to catch this band again in the near future. But enough with the openers, lets talk about the main reason I paid those crooks at Ticketmaster $30. 74 for a $17.99 ticket – Papa Roach!
As always, the band hit the stage like a fireworks factory that catches fire. For 70 minutes, the band played its greatest hits while giving the intimate crowd a sneak peak of their new record – Metamorphosis. Within minutes, it felt like the old days, as front man Jacoby Shaddix climbed the clubs scaffolding and hung from the lights as he screamed into his microphone. The only difference is that the songs I once loved such as “July” and “Tambienemy” are long gone, replaced by modern day hits such as “Getting Away With Murder” and “Time and Time Again”.
I hate that guy. You know, the guy who wears the t-shirt of the band he is about to see? Last night, I broke the rules and wore my long out of print Papa Roach T-shirt that infringes on the copyright of the bug spray known as Raid. Being an anniversary show, it just felt right and as Jacoby Shaddix pointed and smiled multiple times in my direction, it only felt right to make him crack a smile by screaming “Orange Drive Palms” at him in between songs. If this was to be an anniversary celebration, someone had to represent Nor-Cal and I was happy to be that person.
The hits kept rolling, with “Scars” becoming a group sing a long, and “Lifeline” giving the ADHD infused front man an opportunity to run upstairs to the clubs VIP balcony to finish up the last few minutes of the number. Another new hit – “Hollywood Wh0re” gave the front man a chance to talk trash about the likes of Paris Hilton, Ashley Simpson and of course Britney Spears. With a darker moodier tone, “Hollywood Wh0re” showcases what has always been Papa Roach’s strength – the ability to adapt and evolve as time goes on.
The biggest reactions from the crowd came when the band played songs off Infest. All these years later the band is still getting fans to chant “Dead Cell”. While “Broken Home” never really did much for me, hearing “Angels & Insects” (which I know the true meaning behind, but I’ll never tell) was by far the musical highlight for me. The place went nuts, but the true chaos came on the very last number – “Last Resort”. Pits swelled as the band played their first and biggest hit to date. It even felt like the old Cactus Club in San Jose for a minute as Jacoby dove head first into the crowd.
Papa Roach means more to me then I ever let on. I was there the night they all wore all black for the first time. I was there to here songs make their live debut, I watched as the band raised a bed sheet that read in red spray paint – VIVA LA CUCHARACHA. I lost my virginity in a Papa Roach hoodie, I have pre-digital camera photos of Jacoby on stage with his own roach hanging from his boxer shorts. While the song “Legacy” may be long retired, its lyrics are floating through my head this morning. “I was there from the start, and I’ll be here in the end”. 3236 days later, Papa Roach and I had the best ex-sex one can have. The meeting of two souls was still intimate, intense and personal with some amazing new tricks thrown in. I know they are no longer my band, my secret and I am fine with that. I am just thankful that on a spring night in March, I was able to pop in and say hello again after all these years.