Concerts | The Audio Perv - Part 3
Archive for the ‘Concerts’ Category
10 Sep
2012

By Matt Arena

It’s always interesting to see indie bands get big. It happens at least once every year. In 2011, it was Foster the People and Young the Giant, bands who over the course of a couple months went from relative anonymity to becoming household names on the alt rock scene. 2012 is shaping up in a similar way and Imagine Dragons seem poised to be one of the breakout stars. To say they’ve blown up this summer is a massive understatement. They first appeared on many people’s radar last winter with the release of their EP, Continued Silence. Choosing ‘It’s Time’ as their first single, the song began making the rounds almost immediately. Charting quickly and picked up by seemingly every MTV affiliate, it wasn’t long before people started to take notice. But somewhere between spring and the end of summer, they jumped to a whole new level of popularity. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when this happened, though no doubt slots on some of the major US festivals helped, but it seemed as if suddenly everybody loved Imagine Dragons. The first shock came when they booked the intimate Santos Party House in NYC for their album release show, and then promptly sold it out in less than 15 minutes. Moving the show to the much larger Irving Plaza may have seemed like a pipedream, but they proved their headlining status by selling that show out as well. Soon the release of their first full-length album, Night Visions, shocked many by becoming the number one selling album on iTunes on its very first day. Suddenly everybody knew, and was really into, Imagine Dragons. This was no more evident than at Irving Plaza during their sold out album release show.

First up as support was local indie rock band Ghost Beach, who received a surprising amount of love from the crowd. Whether this was due to it being a hometown show or that Imagine Dragons fans previously were acquainted with the band’s music was hard to tell. But it didn’t matter much. After every song they were privy to deafening applause and screams from the audience. At times sounding like a very familiar mix of Reptar and Foster the People, their groovy indie rock sound definitely found a home with the incredibly receptive audience.

Even before Imagine Dragons took the stage there were screams of joy as a band member or two was seen fiddling with their instruments, and when they actually came out it was an overpowering wall of noise from the crowd. It was very surprising to see the type of audience they were able to pull so quickly. There are pros and cons to having a screaming audience of girls (the cons being the non-stop screaming part), but it still remains baffling as to how they managed to build such a strong audience in what seemed like a month. And with songs like ‘Radioactive,’ ‘On Top of the World,’ and ‘Its Time,’ it really isn’t all that mystifying as to how the band got so big. Incorporating parts of electronic, alternative, and even pop rock gives them a large musical net that clearly catches all kinds of ears. Fans from the barrier all the way to the stragglers in the back were dancing and singing along to every word. That’s pretty damn rare at a band’s debut album release show. Having just seen Imagine Dragons earlier at Firefly Festival, they seemed to lack the punch they had previously, whether this was due to the venue itself or the recent vocal problems lead singer Dan Reynolds has endured is still unclear. Even without the punch-in-the-face volume of sound, they still were stellar. At times it was hard to hear Dan’s vocals as the mass of people were more than happy to shout the lyrics out at almost every occasion.

‘Radioactive’ is a master work of modern indie rock, and with hints of electronic, it’s one of the best songs of the year thus far. When played live, it’s even better. Slamming on a bass drum bigger than himself, lead singer Dan Reynolds helps bring the song new life. With a chorus so catchy it’s almost impossible not to scream along, the crowd at Irving Plaza definitely felt the same. Of course that can be said of nearly every song they played, as the crowd didn’t seem to relent even for a minute. The band always comes across as incredibly appreciative, which was evident by the smiles and disbelief on their face as they were playing a sold out show in one of New York City’s legendary venues. It’s been less than a week since the album came out and they’ve already surpassed 100,000 likes on facebook and been nominated for a MTV VMA for Best Rock Video of 2012. They’ve come on strong the second half of the year and are going to be hard to deny as the breakout artist of 2012 by the time December rolls around. But this is just the beginning as it seems the sky is almost literally the limit for this Vegas alt rock quartet.

05 Sep
2012

By Malvina Rincón

FYF Fest took place over Labor Day weekend in Los Angeles. It was two days of eclectic music in the sun in one of the most musically gifted cities in the country. Despite ironic clothing choices (i.e. Hawaiian shirts) paired with equally ironic dance moves (i.e. The Running Man) from some hipsters, the audience was diverse and as warm as the weather. The DYI spirit of the festival, which has been running since 2004, did not go unnoticed as the line-up reflected how non-mainstream bands are still capable of forming interest for their music and creating legitimate fanbases. There was something for everybody and room for discovery as the following shows a sampling of what the weekend had to offer.

Day 2


(photo credit: Marcello Ambriz)

Aesop Rock

On the last day of FYF Fest, a large crowd gathered around the Hill St. stage for Aesop Rock. A hip-hop act at a primarily indie music event is almost always seen as one of two things – a breath of fresh air or a novelty act. Unfortunately for Aesop Rock, L.A. is a smoggy city and fresh air is hard to come by. The beats were catchy enough and the rhymes weren’t half bad. Yet, it all seemed too gimmicky. When you start playing games with your audience from the stage, such as “What‘s your favorite letter?” and “Let’s bring out this guy and cut his hair as we rap”, there is something other than the music that the audience is made to focus on. Perhaps it’s necessary because without the games, the audience might actually realize that they should have opted for another stage.


(photo credit: Marcello Ambriz)

Converge

The heavy metal/hardcore band veterans, Converge, seemed to please the audience at one of the smaller stages at the festival. Their bass-heavy songs had heads banging throughout their set. Main singer, Jacob Bannon has a kinetic energy. He runs from one end of the stage to the other before delivering intense vocals which impressed those in attendance. The rest of the band could not equal Bannon’s energy, yet they were literally bouncing on the stage, which fed into the audience’s energy. Surely this is a good thing.


(photo credit: Marcello Ambriz)

Against Me!

It’s always a good sign when people are literally running to a stage to see a band. I found myself doing the same as I heard the catchy beat of Against Me!’s “Don’t Lose Touch” getting louder as I neared the stage. I would like to think that it wasn’t because everybody wanted to see what the band looked like now that main singer Tommy Gabel is Laura Jane Grace, but I’m sure there were more than a few curious in the crowd.

As if reading the audience’s mind, Grace went into a new song, “True Trans Soul Rebel” that will be on the new Against Me! album, Transgender Dysphoria Blues. The lyrics are telling as Grace sings “You should’ve been a mother/You should’ve been a wife/You should’ve been gone from here years ago/You should be living a different life.” It’s a testament to Grace’s personal lyrics and powerful delivery. The dedicated Against Me! fans embraced the new songs the same as old classics like “Pints of Guinness Make You Strong”, which meant crowd surfing prevailed during the band’s set. The screens on either side of the stage showed the fans singing along to every single word of every song as they surfed on a wave of hands. It was a heart-warming to see Grace smile on as she witnessed that sight.


(photo credit: Marcello Ambriz)

Paul Banks

Dressed all in black, Paul Banks took the stage in one of the smaller stages at the FYF Fest. As the main singer of Interpol, it would be expected that a large stage and larger crowd would be expected. Yet, neither was the case. The crowd was a mix of people who were obviously dedicated Interpol/Paul Banks fans and those just interested in seeing what Banks outside of Interpol would sound like. There shouldn’t have been much of a surprise, since he sounds a lot like the main singer from Interpol.

Guitar in hand, Banks was confident on stage as he was backed by a talented band that brought out a much clearer energy to the songs from his debut solo album as Julian Plenti. He also treated the audience to new songs – “I’ll Sue You”, “Paid for That”, “Arise Awake”, “Over My Shoulder”, and “Young Again”. The music is broody with a hint of contentment, which was visible in the slight smiles he would give the audience. Perhaps it was the beautiful summer night that made Banks’ disposition so cheery, but for the audience, his velvety voice on set closer “Summertime is Coming” is what made the summer night majestic.


(photo credit: Marcello Ambriz)

Yeasayer

The Brooklyn-based band has a plethora of categories in which their music can be placed, but the audience at the main stage on Sunday at FYF Fest didn’t seem too bothered. As soon as the group hit the stage, the crowd started dancing. Taking from their past and most recent albums, Yeasayer has an interesting selection to choose from to make a setlist. Main singer, Chris Keating’s vocals can range from poppy to soulful and the same can be said for the musical arrangements, as different musical genres can be found within one song. Switching vocal duties with guitarist, Anand Wilder also made for a nice change as Wilder’s vocals made some songs dreamy and added to the eclectic nature of the band’s set.

Going with the summer theme of some of the bands, Yeasayer was not left behind. The band’s “Wait for the Summer” proved to be the ultimate crowd pleaser, as it elicited big cheers from the audience. The mix of Middle Eastern and Latin rhythms with a psychedelic twist sounded much bigger in a live setting than on their debut album. The smile on singer, Chris Keating’s face could not have been wider as he continuously declared his love for Los Angeles. Before the night was over, he confessed his love once more and, perhaps swayed by the audience’s reception, he declared a love so strong for the city that he confessed to deciding to move soon. Wow, so I guess Yeasayer really is that into you L.A.


(photo credit: Marcello Ambriz)

Beirut

Something must be said for a festival that makes Beirut a headliner on the last day of said festival. The guys from the band may not have even believed it themselves when asked, but such are the beautiful, eclectic workings of FYF Fest. A band like Beirut, with their melodic influence on the music scene, would not be the obvious pick for a festival to end their weekend. Most festivals aim for a big, pompous ending. Yet, this choice suited the festival perfectly and it worked like a charm.

As main singer Zach Condon took the stage and greeted the crowd, he was met with genuine cheers and the band went straight into the perfectly lovely “Santa Fe” from the band’s last album The Rip Tide. As Condon sang in his innocence-tinged voice, the lyrics could have easily been switched from Santa Fe to L.A. It seemed like a homecoming of sorts. Even though Condon’s music is very much rooted in New Mexican and gypsy influences, the L.A. audience connected with it in a very real way. I overheard a guy telling his friend “How does everybody know the words?” I wanted to turn around and tell him that not everybody knew them… but they did know them, even if they didn’t know them before. Something about the subtle way the horns come in and fill the night air as Condon sings “Well it’s been a long time, long time now” on “Nantes” made everything seem so possible, like knowing songs you didn’t know you knew before.

Beirut’s set also proved to be a first as I had never experienced an audience cheering as a tuba comes on stage (as carried by band member Ben Lanz). That’s an incredible accomplishment in itself. Making the tuba an instrument worthy of admiration is a testament to Beirut’s talent. The set consisted mostly of material that utilized the horns as the main instruments. Yet, a welcomed surprise came in “My Night with the Prostitute from Marseilles” as it broke up the setlist with something that had people, including Condon, dancing before heading into the last song, “The Gulag Orkestar”, which showcased the gypsy influence in Beirut’s music. When the set came to an end, Lanz addressed the audience and expressed something everybody that weekend was thinking: “You’re so lucky to have this festival. It’s awesome.”

Until next year FYF Fest.

03 Sep
2012

By Malvina Rincón

FYF Fest took place over Labor Day weekend in Los Angeles. It was two days of eclectic music in the sun in one of the most musically gifted cities in the country. Despite ironic clothing choices (i.e. Hawaiian shirts) paired with equally ironic dance moves (i.e. The Running Man) from some hipsters, the audience was diverse and as warm as the weather. The DYI spirit of the festival, which has been running since 2004, did not go unnoticed as the line-up reflected how non-mainstream bands are still capable of forming interest for their music and creating legitimate fanbases. There was something for everybody and room for discovery as the following shows a sampling of what the weekend had to offer.

Day 1


(photo credit: Marcello Ambriz)

Cloud Nothings

Playing on one of the smaller stages at the festival, Cleveland-based Cloud Nothings gave the audience a dose of grunge-infused punk. Main singer, Dylan Baldi’s vocals draw on a lazy and dark tone that is reminiscent of Black Francis of the legendary Pixies. Perhaps that is too much of an accolade. As the set continues, the band does little to inspire any real interest from the audience and the band’s track “No Future/No Past” seems all too telling.


(photo credit: Marcello Ambriz)

Future Islands

The stage seemed too small for Future Islands as the crowd swelled before their set even began. The buzz in the air was palpable and before long it wasn’t difficult to understand why. The band’s catchy beats had the audience bouncing, but Samuel Herring’s stage presence left all there entranced. An immediate comparison to Henry Rollins is expected as Herring’s intensity, at times, made it seem as if he was about to rip his (or somebody else’s) skin off.

Although his words can escape as a growl at times, during “Before the Bridge” the roughness in Herring’s voice contained a sensitivity so sincere that I found myself with a knot in my throat as he sang the refrain “Do you believe in love?” It doesn’t seem too farfetched to imagine that Herring may be in communication with some “spirits” when he looks up to the sky as he sings. The passion he pours into the performance is so true that as Future Islands were on stage, magic filled the air over Los Angeles.


(photo credit: Marcello Ambriz)

Sleigh Bells

Marshall-stacked and making no apologies for it, Sleigh Bells is what happens when you turn up the volume to 11. Looking like a heavy metal Joan Jett, Alexis Krauss took the main stage at the FYF Fest like a true front woman. Decked in tattoos, jet black hair, heavy eye make-up, and a leather jacket with studs, she is the epitome of rock ‘n’ roll. A rock star is supposed to inspire people to want to be like them. Krauss is doing that just fine with her cool, sexy rocker chick persona.

Unfortunately, looking cool and sexy isn’t going to do much for a live show if all of your songs sound the same. Maybe Sleigh Bells is an acquired taste, but a live show has the power of making a non-fan at least appreciate a band’s hard work and possibly be swayed to want to see them again. Krauss was doing all she could to sell the songs she was singing – dancing, head banging, crowd surfing. It just wasn’t going to work. The lulls in the audience when they played songs from their most recent album (Reign of Terror) were made apparent when paired next to songs like “Infinity Guitars” from their debut album (Treats), which incited a crazy amount of excitement. Maybe the audience is tired of more of the same and even an energetic live show couldn’t sway them. It’s a shame considering the true talent in Krauss as a front woman.


(photo credit: Marcello Ambriz)

M83

In many ways, M83’s set on Saturday night was an ode to Los Angeles. As the city skyline twinkled in the near distance, it provided an ideal backdrop to the band’s electronic infused tracks. The unique blend of synth-driven beats mixed with guitar and saxophone riffs inspire a vision of driving through the city’s empty streets at night. Anthony Gonzalez, leader of M83 lives in Los Angeles, so perhaps that image as inspiration is not too far off.

Of course, the audience didn’t have enough time to contemplate these possibilities as the band was ceaseless in their showering of hit after hit. With a stage set-up reminiscent of Tron, Gonzalez and company performed such tracks as “We Own the Sky”, “Reunion”, and “Steve McQueen”. The crowd embraced more ambient and instrumental tracks just as energetically as bigger, crowd pleasers. This is a true testament to the talent of the band and their ability to maintain a high level of energy without having to resort to unleashing the singles straight away.

The night came to its climax as “Midnight City” and its distinctive intro filled the beautiful, summer night. The already-dancing crowd seemed to double in size as a giant dance/sing-along party ensued. Elation hit the audience once more as Gonzalez sang the line “City is my church” and pointed to the gorgeous L.A. skyline. As he finished the verse he screamed Los Angeles! and the crowd cheered with euphoria. It didn’t matter where you traveled from to be at FYF Fest, at that moment, everybody was an Angeleno.


(photo credit: Marcello Ambriz)

Refused

Closing the first day of FYF Fest were headliners Refused. The Swedish punk band, formed and disbanded in the 1990s, had not performed in Los Angeles for 20 years, for which main singer Dennis Lyxzén apologized in his nearly unaccented English, and then suggested that the audience were the ones who kept the music alive. After having taken the stage in an explosion that sent the crowd into a wild frenzy of moshing and crowd surfing, an apology from these Swedes would immediately garner forgiveness. The audience was under the spell of Refused and Lyxzén made sure of that with his energetic performance.

In acrobatic, Mick Jagger fashion, Lyxzén strutted onto the stage wielding and swinging the microphone before abusing it with his powerful voice on songs such as “The Refused Party Program” and a slew of others, primarily from the band’s seminal album, The Shape of Punk to Come. Despite the bravado, Lyxzén offered heartfelt insight throughout the set as he repeated the theme of “Music means something”. Connecting his insight, he gave the obligatory “Free Pussy Riot” speech that many musicians have been giving in support of the fellow artists. Refused went one up as the kick drum shows “Free Pussy Riot” in large writing and Lyxzén goes on to dedicate the explosive and poignant “Rather Be Dead” to the Russian band as a sign of camaraderie.

By the time of the encore, as “New Noise” and its distinctive intro began, the crowd seemed to be following Lyxzén’s insights as the music took over the crowd. Several bodies floated above a sea of arms and clouds of dirt were kicked up into the air. Before the last song, Lyxzén offered his last inspirational thoughts of the day as he advised the attentive audience to “Never let anyone tell you how to live your life! Live f***ing wild! Stay hungry!” The crowd cheered in agreement and Lynxzén didn’t seem too want to let go of the night as he suggested that the audience should go back to his house and play awesome records. He further enticed by offering to whisper dirty secrets in Swedish and quickly added “It could happen!” as the crowd giggled at his joke. After realizing the limited amount of time left in the set, Lynxzén exclaimed “30 seconds!” and as a last energy booster to the audience, the band did a 30 second reworking of “Tannhäuser / Derivè” before bowing out to an audience that will definitely stay hungry.

31 Aug
2012

By Phil DeSimone

On a typical hot and humid day in Houston, the Honda Civic tour feat MuteMath, Incubus and Linkin Park came rolling through and heated things up a bit more. This shorter than average summer tour had been the talk of the town amongst the locals and critics alike.

MuteMath kicked things off with a short 30 minute set. Despite the heat, the band came out decked in business-casual attire and got the crowd a lil more sweaty. For a 30 minute set, MuteMath did a great mix of songs off all 3 of their albums, ending their set with the infamous “Reset”.

Incubus, the touring kings, were up next and this was such a special treat, because the band is planning on taking a break for a little bit after this tour. These guys have toured for many years non-stop and are some of the most seasoned performers I’ve seen to date.

About halfway during their set, Brandon Boyd said “Hello Dallas”, which is where they played the previous night. Though there were some immediate boos, Brandon quickly realized his mistake and apologized. Lead guitarist Mike Einziger then stated an interesting fact. “Wow, after 21 years of being a band, that has never happened”. Immediately boos turned into applause.

Towards the end of the set, Incubus added their own renditions of “Hello” by Lionel Ritchie and “I Need You Tonight” by INXS, which sounded unexpectedly awesome and received an immediate positive response from those in attendance.

Linkin Park took the stage right on time and opened up with “A Place For My Head”. These guys thrive off the live show and the response the crowd gives them. Mike Shinoda said multiple times how much he loved the response Houston was giving. All members were in great form and Chester’s voice was impressively young sounding as if all those years of touring and screaming every night have had no effect on his voice.

Lights and sound effects certainly complimented the show and the stage set up was shown off even more when lots of fire effects were shown off when the band performed “Burn it Down”.

What really got my blood flowing was when Chester integrated “Sabotage” by the Beastie Boys, into “Bleed it Out”. Aggressive rhymes and scratchy yells complimented this song so well and the crowd went nuts.

Performing a great mix of classics and some newer material, it was another great Honda Civic tour that should not be missed. This is only a 20 date tour which is coming quickly to an end. Make sure to catch it if it comes by your area.

31 Aug
2012

By Keeyahtay Lewis

For those of you who have been visiting this site a while, or even to my site, it has been established how much we like Circa Survive. I found out that they would be doing two record release shows in Philly and I jumped at the chance to cover it. Their new album, Violent Waves, came out this week. Like many others I pre-ordered it, so I got the advance copy and I listened to it for a week straight before the show. I couldn’t wait to see these songs live. I headed down to Union Transfer on Saturday night, and I prepared to have my mind blown by Anthony Green and the guys, once again.

Another favorite band of mine, Balance and Composure, were opening the show. I have seen them play a few times now and I am always impressed. Led by Jon Simmons on vocals and guitar, this 5 piece band out of the Philly area always bring passion to the stage. Opening with Void, Burden and Quake it was obvious that the audience were not strangers to this band. Bringing them along on the tour definitely is a good fit. Special guest Ned Russin of Title Fight was on the bass, and he brought a little extra energy to the band.

Most of their 9 song set came from their last album, Separation, and songs like Stonehands, I Can’t Do This Alone and Rope were huge hits with everyone in the room screaming along every word. Jon’s voice was strong and the rest of the band kept the energy high. It was nice to see them play again and I am sure that they are going to build many new fans on the upcoming tour.

I had an all access pass from Circa so I spent the time in between bands back stage talking with everyone. The new album has a guest vocal from Geoff Rickly of Thursday and he was back there as well. The energy was high from everyone, you could almost feel it tickle the back of your neck while the front of the house got everything ready. I will say again something I have said before, Circa Survive shows always feel like family. Anthony always greets me like an old friend when I see him. Various friends, kids, and band member’s parents make up the rest of the people. Soon enough though, there was the band huddle, then it was time for them to take the stage.

As soon as there is even a hint that they band is ready to come out, the packed, sold out crowd went insane. I have never been to Union Transfer before, but I knew that Saturday night would test the strength of the rafters. They opened up with a new song, the one with Geoff singing the chorus: Lottery. It was fantastic to see him on stage again, (RIP Thursday), the chemistry between him and Anthony is obvious. There is never any getting warmed up with Circa Survive, they go out there and kill it from the first note. Anthony spent a lot of time on the barricade and in the crowd, letting the kids hold his legs up and scream along every word.

Another new one, Sharp Practice, and then an older song, Holding Someone’s Hair Back were next. The new songs were treated just like the old ones, with excitement and a chorus of voices. At this point the album had not even been released yet. It was clear to see that everyone had pre-ordered it to get the instant digital download. The set list bounced around all four albums: Living Together, Imaginary Enemy, Through The Desert Alone, Bird Songs, and Strange Terrain followed. Circa shows are never just 5 guys on stage going through the motions. Confetti, inflatable balls and Anthony getting sweaty in the pit with the kids were all part of it.

A lot is said about Anthony Green, and it is understandable. He has charisma to spare, enough energy to power Philly for a week, and a voice that is unmatched. But behind him are 4 extremely talented guys who keep it all moving along. Nick Beard on bass, Steve Clifford on drums, and Colin Frangicetto and Brendan Ekstrom on guitars. The band has never sounded better. Beyond that, from my spot next to Steve, it is easy to see how much they all love playing together. I was able to hear the jokes and comments they all shared in between songs. And the smiles they passed around.

Before the show, Anthony told me he doesn’t see himself as a celebrity. The interaction he has the whole show makes it clear that he just feels like a regular guy who is lucky to do what he does.

A definite favorite was up next: The Only Difference Between Medicine and Poison Is The Dose. As soon as it started hundreds of voices sang along, “Move one inch at a time, don’t make shit rhyme…”, beautiful. After that song Anthony decided to add a song in that wasn’t on the list. He ran around and talked the guys, a couple changes were made on the spot. Then he told the audience they were going to play something that they almost never played. Always Getting What You Want from the Juturna album was that song, and people lost their damn minds. “It’s the talent, not the promotion” are some of the lyrics, and the talent was on display Saturday night.

Stop The Fucking Car, Suitcase, and Birth Of the Economic Hit Man were the last 3 songs before the encore. The latter two are from the new album, and both songs are a bit slower. Suitcase has delicate vocals which Anthony handled beautiful, with the help of every person in the room. Hit Man is the longest song Circa has in their catalog, at around 7 minutes, and for those minutes everyone just got lost in it.

The band left briefly and then came out with the one, two punch of In Fear and Faith and the ferocious Get Out. Talk about leaving everyone wanting more. Both of the songs are long time favorites of the fans, and the band left everything they had on the stage afterwards.

Taking my bias out of it, Circa Survive are one of the best bands doing it right now. Period. A few really great albums have came out the last few months, but with Violent Waves the band is trying to stake their claim. The album is self produced, and self released, and today is was #1 on ITunes for Alternative Rock. And they deserve it. It is definitely the best, and most easily accessible album of their 8 year career. Beyond that, I have been able to get know some of the guys on a more personal level, and they are super down to Earth and just…damn nice. All too often I see guys on stage putting on a show and going through the motions. You can see the band that doesn’t give a shit about anyone beyond the stage. Circa Survive is not that band.

They will be going out on the road for a small tour starting 9/13/-10/27/12. Just go. Seriously. Don’t think about it, go online now, and buy tickets. You won’t be sorry. And buy the album. Support a band that really gives a shit. But even if you don’t care about 5 guys trying to do it on their own, pick up the new album because it is incredible. This past weekend Circa Survive played two sold out shows in Philly. If it is any indication of what we can expect on the upcoming tour, I will be at every show I can be at. So should you.

26 Aug
2012


By Ace Ubas

For two of the acts that played at the Glasshouse on a sold-out Saturday night, their individual performances were a testament to their success in 2012 with each taking a different route. The Los Angeles-based disco duo Poolside released their debut album Pacific Standard Time to rave reviews while local DJs have dubbed them the ideal band to listen to during the summer and have even described their sound as “daytime disco.” While for George Lewis Jr. (a.k.a. Twin Shadow), his recently released sophomore album Confess, which has also garnered positive reviews, delved deeper into his emotional psyche while furthering his retro 80s synth-pop sound. But if there is something in common that both bands managed to do on Saturday night, it’s that they turned the Glasshouse into one big dance party.

Comprised of Jeff Paradise and Filip Nikolic, Poolside came out on stage ready to blare their disco tunes to the crowd. However, their keyboardist Michael Gold was M.I.A. and left everyone wondering. Nikolic was calling out “Michael!” and even got the crowd to yell out his name in unison. After a couple of minutes, Gold finally emerged from the back and the band finally got started with opener and new single “Only Everything.” Its electronic handclaps, retro synths, and funky bass immediately got everyone moving. Mid-tempo number “Next to You” followed up and got everyone into a steady groove with its thick bass-line driven melody. Obviously, lyrics aren’t the foundation of their songs as they are repetitive and minimal, acting as vocal melodies to the songs. They slowed down the pace a bit with the appropriately titled “Slow Down,” where the shimmering synths were enough to provide a type of warmth associated with the summer season, while Nikolic got slap-happy with his bass riffs. The highlight of the night came on the piano-driven “Do You Believe” where Twin Shadow’s George Lewis and keyboardist Wynne Bennett came on stage to join Poolside for a brief dance session. They ended the night with the percussive big-beat number “Take Me Home.” With the way people were dancing with their significant other, I’m sure they couldn’t wait to be taken home.

But they would have to patiently wait another hour as Twin Shadow took the stage for their headlining set. Lewis isn’t a person to hide his interests as his motorcycle was brought on stage as an added aesthetic piece and show off his personality. And he isn’t afraid to show his emotions either based on the last two albums. Joined by a full backing band, the set opened with “Beg For the Night,” which immediately showed the distinction between the song performed live and on record as Lewis delivered a brief guitar solo to end the song. They cranked up the pace for “Five Seconds” that drew a lot of cheers for being the single off the new album. At this point, most of the crowd was jumping up and down, never letting up the energy they had. Again, the 80s-esque guitar riffs were more prominent and led the song, making it sound as if they belong in a stadium.

What’s really impressive about Lewis is not only does he exude a high level of confidence and poise in his demeanor, but also the way he interacts with the crowd and how he feeds off their energy. In order to get the crowd even more energized, he asked them to cheer as loud as they could after the count of four. After measuring how low they got after a few tries, they jumped right into the romantically-themed “At My Heels” where Lewis’ vocals soared on the lines “there is no key to my gate/but you can still come around/lean your ladder against my window/I’ll come down.” “Golden Light” followed with its explosive chorus, while the R&B-tinged “Patient” shined with Bennett’s glowing synth-pop melodies. A pair of songs from the debut – “Tyrant Destroyed” and “When We’re Dancing” – were faster than their recorded versions, giving a more hard rock feel to them that the crowd continued to move along to.

“Castles in the Snow” and “Forget” ended Twin Shadows set, where on the former, the crowd was treated to an extended version of the song that featured a blistering guitar solo, while on the latter, Lewis took his guitar and walked through the crowd, delivering his guitar licks.

In speaking with a friend at the show, she called Lewis a rock star. Usually the term has a negative connotation attached to it, but not when it comes to Twin Shadow. He has the stage presence, confidence, look, and charm of a rock star, but definitely not the pretentious attitude or arrogance. Twin Shadow is definitely a band to see if you’re in the mood for vintage rock sounds while wearing your best pair of dancing shoes.

Set list:
Beg For the Night
Five Seconds
At My Heels
Golden Light
Patient
Tyrant Destroyed
When We’re Dancing
Run My Heart
Slow
Castles in the Snow
Forget

Encore:
Shooting Holes
I Don’t Care

26 Aug
2012


By Keeyahtay Lewis

Steel Panther. Mothereffing Steel Panther. Last Thursday night Steel Panther rolled back into town. Like a hyper-sexed circus, they were going to, once again, take over Starland Ballroom. I couldn’t wait. I saw them play back in December and it was one of the most fun shows I had ever seen. I knew that Thursday night would be more of the same.

Taking the stage in a wave of hair spray and spandex, a packed house erupted at once. I said it before, it is easy to forget what year it is when you are at a Steel Panther show. For much of the audience, being at a SP show is the closest they will ever get to the decadence that was the 80s. There were plenty of people at the show who were around for the real thing also. You looked around at the teased hair and tight outfits of those in attendance and you could see that everyone was there to party.

Opening with Supersonic Sex Machine, Tomorrow Night, and Fat Girl the energy was high from the first second. With lyrics like:

    It’s the party of the century that’s right
    Unfortunately it’s tomorrow night
    I’m going to a party
    Tomorrow night Tomorrow night
    I’m gonna get some pussy
    Tomorrow night Tomorrow night
    But tonight I’m gonna jerk off… Ahh feels good

It is nice to see “Rock Stars” who don’t take themselves too seriously. SP always makes sure that the people who are there to see them feel like part of the show. They spend a lot of time joking around with the audience, making lewd comments to the attractive girls, congratulating certain guys with hot girlfriends. They spend just as much time ripping into each other. Talking about plastic surgery’s, hip replacements and the fact that they haven’t showered in weeks.

Although the lyrics are jokes, the guys playing these songs have some serious chops. Led by Michael Starr, who has the look and that 80s vibrato down. Satchel on guitar, Lexxi Foxxx on bass, and Stix Zadinia on drums. If these guys had been around 30 years ago, bands like Poison and other glam metal bands would have had a serious run for their money.

Asian Hooker, Just like Tiger Woods, Gold-Digging Whore, every song is a good time. They even made time for a really, really impressive guitar solo by Satchel. He just goes off for several minutes. The really cool part is when he gets behind the drum kit. He plays guitar and the bass drum parts to many metal songs including, Breaking the Law, Master of Puppets, Crazy Train, Iron Man, all 80s classics. He even ripped into Flight of the Bumblebee. If anyone thinks that SP can’t really play, that solo alone would shut all doubters down.

Community Property, Eyes of a Panther, Weenie Ride were next. Then of course the girls. They just bring a flood of girls from the crowd on stage to make out, and flash some boobs. Just in time for the next song, Party All Day (Fuck All Night) and It Won’t Suck Itself. Classy? No. So much fun? Absolutely. That is the point with SP, they thank you for spending your hard earned money on a ticket, and then they make sure you will leave every single problem at the door.

Death to All But Metal was next, then Eatin’ Ain’t Cheatin’ and 17 Girls in a Row for the encore.

I can’t say it enough, SP are just a great time to see play. They don’t write songs to change the world, they write songs to bring a smile to your face. And they certainly do that, and then some. I am pretty sure I said this last time I wrote about them, but I will definitely go see them play any chance I get. It is just refreshing to see 4 guys on stage who love what they do, and really appreciate that others would pay good money to share that with them. They don’t act like they are better than the people on the other side of the barricade, and they bring a good many of those people on stage during the show. They do everything they can to bring a little of that 80s excess to their shows, but they also bring a lot of heart. Both leave a lasting impression.


24 Aug
2012

Walking on stage, clad in leather, it’s hard to anticipate what you’re going to get when you first see The Ex-Senators. Hailing from Chicago, this five piece dances across about four different genre lines and doing so in a way that works extremely well. Usually when bands try to incorporate a litany of sounds into their music it ends out sounding a mess as it’s rarely ever a natural vibe. But The Ex-Senators are one of those rare cases. Sometimes punk, other times early 2000’s rock, and then suddenly funk-soul, they pull off each sound both distinctively and cohesively at the same time. Those may sound like clashing concepts, but with lead singer D-Mac’s textbook definition of a rock voice, working in with the funky riffs of guitarists Van and Phabulous G.J., they’re able to create a sound that comes from every decade of the past 30 years of music. Sure, they have a heavy political message at times, but it’s presented in a way that’s not too over handed while being self-aware. Before their lead single ‘Start a Fight,’ D-Mac teasingly told the audience, “so we’re a bit of a political band,” clearly poking fun at the heavy tones in the song. You won’t find any 5 minute monologues before songs that beat the audience over the head with a certain ideology, unlike a some bands who seemed more concerned with their message than the music, but it still allows for one to take a little something away from it as well. “We want people to think when they listen to our music, it’s about making people have any reaction,” this quote from the band’s bio section on their website really drives home what they’re all about. Whether that reaction is a foot stomping, head banging mosh or an intellectual agreement on their societal commentary, The Ex-Senators seem happy either way.

‘Start a Fight,’ for which a video was just recently released, is an undeniably infectious song from the very first note. The thrashing riff combined with the chorus that just begs to be screamed back at them, makes for a perfect lead single and a good barometer of what the band sounds like at their very best. Though the song pretty much beckons for it, it’s hard not to want to start a revolution after hearing this song explode off the stage in front of you. The similarly themed ‘United Corporations of America’ too captures a classic punk sound but with a modern edge to it. A rowdy, sweaty, burner of a track, it’s very easy to see this song blasting in room filled with moshing punk kids, even if this show was more of a shorter, laid back teaser of what the band is really capable of. Their classic-meets-modern rock sound seems to be making a comeback, with other bands like Titus Andronicus and Gaslight Anthem leading the charge; it’s only a matter of time before Ex-Senators too are a household name on the modern rock scene.


19 Aug
2012

By Michel Dussack

This summer has been incredible for free shows in New York City. Just a few weeks after a Converse City Carnage sponsored Sleigh Bells show, the sneaker company threw another awesome show featuring a headlining performance by The Kills. The duo of Alison Mosshart and Jamie Hince enthralled the crowd throughout a 17 song set. The only fault to be found in their performance was that they covered much of the same ground as they did in February during their 10th Anniversary show.

Kicking things off with the instantly recognizable ‘No Wow’, fog blanketed the stage as the pair took the stage, Alison donning a black hat and cigarette. She quickly extinguished it to grab the microphone and begin wailing in her own unique style. She rarely stood still throughout the performance, save for an appearance on drums later in the set. Once again, the band was backed by a group of live drums for a few songs, including ‘Future Starts Slow’ and ‘U R A Fever’.

During ‘Kissy Kissy’, the duo switched places a bit with Jamie on lead vocals and Alison donning a guitar. The duo continued on throughout the night, rarely stopping in between songs, though it seemed like it was only to fit as many songs in as possible before the strict 10pm curfew of the outdoor venue. Before they concluded with ‘Pots and Pans’, Jamie thanked the crowd and mentioned that New York was one of his favorite cities with sincerity.

When the group returned for the four song encore, they seemed even more energized as they burned through ‘Last Goodbye’ and ‘Pull A U’. As usual, the combination of ‘Fuck the People’ and ‘Monkey 23’, off the band’s debut album closed out the show in a frenetic fashion, and Jamie and Alison drew near to each other to take one last bow in front of the crowd. New York has been lucky enough to have been graced by two performances by The Kills in the past six months, though everyone that says them will tell you even that doesn’t seem often enough.

The Kills’ setlist
1. No Wow
2. Future Starts Slow
3. Heart Is A Beating Drum
4. Kissy Kissy
5. U R A Fever
6. DNA
7. Satellite
8. Last Day of Magic
9. Baby Says
10. Black Balloon
11. Tape Song
12. You Don’t Own The Road
13. Pots and Pans
Encore:
14. Last Goodbye
15. Pull A U
16. Fuck the People
17. Monkey 23

VIVA VIVA

BLACK BANANAS

THE KILLS

17 Aug
2012


By Ace Ubas

Alabama Shakes is a band that seemingly came out of nowhere in 2012. And in a span of eight months, things have most definitely changed in a great way. Their debut album, Boys & Girls, garnered tons of critical acclaim and marked only the beginning of their rise. It led to national radio air-play, appearances on the late night circuit (most recently on Jimmy Kimmel Live), playing numerous festivals, and going on their first-ever headlining tour. On Wednesday night, they brought their blues-infused rock and roll to the Fox Theater in Pomona in support of their album.

The opener for the night was the Brooklyn-based Afrobeat collective, Antibalas and they immediately got the crowd hot, like red hot. Each of the 12 members held an array of instruments – from a tenor and baritone saxophone to congas and a shekere – that displayed an all-out fun time. As I stood in the pit, I noticed practically everyone around me moving. What made it even more incredible was that Antibalas went over their allotted 35 minute set to the point where the in-house sound crew cut off their sound, yet they kept on playing and the crowd cheered even louder. Based on the overhearing the people around me, they didn’t want them to stop. It was definitely something unusual and unexpected from an opening act, but if you can get the crowd riled up like that, then please don’t stop.

Having had the pleasure of going to a lot of memorable shows this year, Alabama Shakes may be right at the top (along with Sigur Ros at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery). Right from the very first note that they played, it was a tremendous set filled with pure energy and raw, genuine emotion sprouting from frenzied frontwoman Brittany Howard. And when listening to Southern rock bands, you wouldn’t expect anything less.

They opened their set with the short-yet-sweet “Goin’ to the Party” before going into back to back hits with “Hang Loose” and “Hold On.” Immediately, you can hear the stark contrast between their songs on record and their live performance, mainly how bone-chilling Howard’s vocals are in person. Her howls come off as natural and seamless; a tour de force almost. While the rest of the band seemed unfazed by Howard, the crowd was blown away. On “Hang Loose,” they sang word for word, nearly reveling in the song’s message about letting go of all the worries, while on “Hold On,” you can actually feel Howard sing about a time in her past where she needed to persevere.

“Heartbreaker” and “Boys & Girls” slowed down the pace, showcasing Howard at her most soulful and emotional. On the former, she wailed out “how was I supposed to know he was a heartbreaker” that brought out goosebumps to those watching because of how pitch-perfect she sang her highs. On the latter, Howard provided an anecdote explaining when she was a little girl, people would criticize her friendship with a little boy. She responded with a resounding “that’s some bullshit,” much to the delight of the crowd.

“You Ain’t Alone” was one of the highlights of the night, stirring up moments of romance and intimacy. Throughout the song, most couples in the crowd held onto each other while singing along to the chorus. At one point, as the instruments faded down to silence, the crowd singing along with Howard on the lines “you ain’t alone/just let me be your ticket home” produced a choir-like effect that reverberated throughout the venue, mesmerizing a certain writer (along with many others).

When the band exited after the final song, the crowd didn’t go the conventional route when calling back the band for an encore. Instead of the usual chants of “encore” or “one more song,” the crowd took advantage of the venue’s hardwood floors and began stomping on them furiously until they came back out. For their two song encore, Alabama Shakes brought out a few friends from Antibalas’ brass section (who also played earlier in their set on songs such as “Rise to the Sun” and a few new ones). And together, they played riveting renditions of “I Ain’t the Same” and the fast-paced and frenetic “Heavy Chevy.”

At the end of the night, Alabama Shakes put on one of the more breathtaking sets that I’ve seen since I saw the Black Keys last year. They captivated the crowd through sheer talent, passion, energy, emotion, and honesty. And what more can you ask for when going to a live concert? What’s even more impressive is that they’ve been able to put up this kind of performance in such a short amount of time, leaving their future to look intensely bright. As I walked out, the girl behind me said it best when describing how watching and listening to Howard made her feel: “she makes me feel nothing and everything at once.”