Monday, November 27, 2006

TRS-80, Thavius Beck, ModWheelMood at the Alterknit Lounge

I have been to many shows at the Knitting Factory in Hollywood but I had never been to a show at the alterknit lounge at the Knitting Factory. The alterknit lounge is a shack, so I was shocked when I walked in to the club and basically was on the stage. For the astounding cost of $7.00 I enjoyed a trio of great acts. I had seen ModwheelMood a few times before at the Key Club, Chain Reaction, and the Viper Room and it is always a great show. ModwheelMood usually consists of Alessandro Cortini/Pelle Hillstrom as a two man electronic operation. As a synth fan, I appreciate some of the synths that the band has brought on stage. Some examples include a Korg MS-20, Nord Modular, and my personal favorite a custom EAR Performance synth that was custom built for Alessandro. Alessandro has a awesome moonlighting job as the touring keyboardist of Nine Inch Nails which automatically meets the qualifications of a show worth going to see. Apparently Pelle was in England recording so the show turned out to be Alessandro alone on stage with the Nord Modular and a sampler. He did an excellent job layering samples while stomping on his Line 6 Delay pedal to fill out the sound. The tunes are very radiohead like with angelic like vocals. Check out his ep "Enemies and Immigrants". Thavius Beck was up next and after doing some research was impressed with his resume. He has worked with Saul Williams and Trent Reznor on producing Saul's new album. Armed with a AKAI MPC 1000 and a Roland SP 404, Thavius rocked the house. He would trigger a sample of drums or piano and layer other samples other them with a good groove and continue to switch them out to keep things interesting. Thavius was received very well and I picked up his new CD. TRS-80 came up next and put on an impressive show as well. They had a projection screen with various images as well a live drum set and a keyboardist. They played a great set with most songs off their album "Mystery Crash". I also snapped a picture of their keyboard setup on the way out. Overall...a good night of electronic music.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Rapture and The Presets at Henry Fonda Theatre

Final round of Rapture and the Presets at the Henry Fonda theatre. The Fonda was the final date of this tour and the bands had a lot of energy once they hit the stage. The Fonda has a history of not allowing cameras so I didn't bother to bring mine. Of course, once the bands hit the stage it became a free for all as a bunch of cameras emerged from the crowd. I had some extra photos and videos from San Diego so I included them above. I opted for front row balcony at the Fonda to just relax and enjoy the show. It ended up being a wise decision because the Fonda experienced a 20 degree increase in temperature as the night moved on. The show was sold out but everyone was on the floor as there were empty seats up top. LA crowds are know for being jaded but that was not the case at this show. The Presets got an excellent reception and played their 45 minute set to rapturous applause (no pun intended but Mattie and Gabe were on the side of the stage clapping and dancing). Interesting to note that the Presets reduced their shirt prices to $15 so they wouldn't have to ship the shirts home to Australia. Bands are known to increase their prices when they play L.A. but I applaud their decision. The bands thanked one another for an amazing tour and I would have to agree with them. In terms of the increase in was due to the whole dance floor going crazy. Probably the most movement I have seen in a concert in a little while. Rapture highlights included "Olio", and the best performance of "House of Jealous Lovers" I have seen. It is interesting to see how a good crowd can make a good show.

Rapture and The Presets at Brick By Brick

Round 2 of Rapture and The Presets was down in San Diego at the Brick By Brick. The first round in Pomona was so good, I was compelled to forgo my plan of seeing the Lemonheads for another dose of guitars and synths. I arrived down in San Diego and was surprised how small the Brick By Brick was. It was maybe 1.5 times the size of the Troubadour. It was also 21 and over so no kids tonight. It was sold out and the Presets did one very loud sound check that could be heard while I was outside the venue. The Presets came on at 9:15 and proceeded to rock the house as usual. Their CD is really good but I almost wish they would put out a live DVD because the different mixes of how they play the songs are really outstanding. Highlights from their set include "Are You the One?", "Down, Down, Down", and "The Girl and the Sea". They also mentioned they would be back next year which was really exciting. The Rapture came on and kept the energy level high as they knocked out a 14 song set. Unfortunately the concert was paused for awhile because part of the ceiling fell and hit the guitar tech in the head. An ambulance was called and he was transported to the hospital. I hope this wasn't the same tech who received a nasty electrical shock from the microphone during the Pomona show. When the Rapture was playing though, I noticed Luke was using a nickel as a guitar pick!! The paint just past the strings is all chipped away and that would explain why. I always thought the Rapture had a metallic sound but I didn't think it was due to a nickel!! Gabe was killing on the sax as usual and seemed to dance around more versus the Pomona show. Overall an excellent perfomance but the energy was stopped due to the injury of the guitar tech. Rapture song highlights include "Get myself Into It", "House of Jealous Lovers", and "Echoes".

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Silversun Pickups at the Orange County Museum of Art

I was happy to pay six dollars to see the Silversun Pickups in San Diego. I was even happier to pay nothing and see a full set sans encore at the Orange County Museum of Art all of ten minutes from my house. I arrived early to beat traffic and secure a decent spot. The merchandise was a little pricier in Orange County ie. (Zipped hoodie was $30 in San Diego $40 in OC). But that is excusable as it was a free show. They played the same setlist as in San Diego but without the two song encore which was omitted due to time limit restrictions but rocked just as hard if not harder. There were no opening bands and they hit the stage at 8:15 and wrapped up around 9:30. I recorded "Lazy eye" which was a great performance especially since Brian was rocking out near the crowd. They will now embark as the openers for the Wolfmother show which should be a great tour for them. I will give you a full report from the Vegas show. Silversun Pickups will also play two nights at the Troubadour in December which will sell out quickly and I recommend you get your tickets now. The mind boggling move they made was opening for Snow Patrol, and OK GO in January. I like Snow Patrol but I think the Wolfmother tour was a better idea. It will be interesting to see how well they fare.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Silversun Pickups at the Belly Up

I was super excited for this show. I had witnessed the Silversun Pickups destroy the Echo along with Viva Voce a few months ago and was impressed that they could back up my sentiments that Carnavas is the album of the year. I was also impressed with the Belly up and was looking forward to coming back and hanging out in Solana Beach. I decided to avoid Lou's records since I was there a few days ago and opted to catch Borat down in Encinitas prior to the show. The movie has hilarious and I would recommend it but on to the show. The show was sponsored by FM 94.9 and billed as an upcoming artist show. The ticket price was an astounding $6.00. I can't think of any legal entertainment that you can get for $6.00. The stereotypes opened up the show and were good musically but lacking in the vocal department. They also mentioned that it was great that the radio station was supporting "local" bands like Silversun Pickups. I didn't know "Silver Lake" was local in reference to Solana Beach. Clearly the lead singer had no idea who the Silversun Pickups were. Brian and company finally came on stage and proceeded to drown the audience in feedback, distortion, and squeels of fuzz. I included a photo of his pedal board because his live sound is so awesome. I think its a combination of his hollowbody Gibson guitar and his two amp setup of a Valvestate Marshall and a Fender Deville. Some of the gems in his pedal collection include a Boss Loop station, and a Big Muff Fuzz. They played almost all of Carnavas and a few songs from Pikul. Unfortunately they had mentioned they got a $350.00 speeding ticket on the way to the show and were asking for the fans to purchase some merch to offset the cost. Another funny part from the show was Brian was quoting Borat in between songs. I can't wait to see them at the OCMA. Another interesting factoid is that the Silversun Pickups will be playing the Live 105 Not So Silent Night in S.F. and the Holiday Hootenanny in San Diego but missing from the KROQ Acoustic Chrismas line up. I am willing to bet they will make it next year for sure.

Deftones at Soma

People often ask me why do I go to multiple nights of concerts seeing the same band two nights in a row. The Deftones are a perfect example of why I go to mulitple shows. The first Deftones show featured "RX Queen", "Hexagram", "Digital Bath",and "Knife Party". The second Deftones show featured none of the previous songs and instead had "Minerva", "Nosebleed", "Lifter", and "Root". I had never been to SOMA before but I had heard about a lot of cool shows that go on there. SOMA is located in a strip mall close to the San Diego Sports arena and had free parking which was cool. It is an all ages venue so the kids were out in force. My friend pointed out that the club was an old movie theatre because you could see the beams in the middle of the venue and the projection booth slots were still in place. I opted to hang out in lobby and miss out on Deadsy. When I ventured back in to watch the Deftones... the place was packed. Not wanting to fight the crowd.. I hung back to watch the chaos unfold in the pit. The deftones played a spectacular set which was very heavy with old songs from "Adrenaline". The good thing was the show ended early and I was back home around 12:30. I also didn't lose my ticket this time which was a plus.

The Hold Steady Acoustic at Lou's Records

At the FM 94.9 bash on Saturday, there were flyers for an acoustic performance at Lou's records by the Hold Steady. I couldn't pass that up so I rolled out to Lou's and did some minor shopping prior to the acoustic performance. Just a little after 4:00 the band had started to set up their stuff and were ready to rock. One of my measures of how good a band happens to be is whether or not a band can play good acoustically. When you plug in to rock, you can make a lot of mistakes and distortion or volume can cover you. Performing acoustically really highlights the song itself. The Hold Steady proved how good they are with an 8 song acoustic set. They played for 45mins which was pretty stellar in my opinion. Franz was totally rocking the accordion and caring the songs since Galen was without an acoustic bass. Tad was strumming away on his acoustic guitar and Craig was drinking and singing along. After Craig was finished with his paper cup drinks, members of the audience mysteriously produced various alchololic beverages to place right next to his mic stand. My friend said he could smell the alcohol even before he started drinking. I figure since he had the shades on that he was recovering from the previous nights show. The amazing thing is that Craig didn't slur his words at all. The guys did an informal signing afterwards and were extremely cool. They are touring the East coast in a couple of days but will return according to Bobby. Rock on!!!

Monday, November 13, 2006

The Hold Steady/Sparta at 4th & B in San Diego

After recovering from the Rapture set, I managed to gather enough energy to drive down to San Diego for the 94.9 FM anniversary bash featuring Sparta, The Hold Steady, and Ok Go. I was excited to see The Hold Steady again who had destroyed the Detroit Bar back in October. I had never been to 4th & B so I was hoping it would be as awesome as the Belly Up. Things were looking grim when I had to pay $15 for parking. I thought to myself that I was back in L.A. again. The doors opened at 9:00 and The Hold Steady came on first. They proceeded to play another stellar set with the highlights being "Chips Ahoy", and "Killer Parties". They still look like they are having more fun being on stage then the audience and that energy translates to a very good show. By the end of the set, the chants for Sparta had died down and the chants changed to "Encore!". I had secured a great rail spot and was taking some good pics of the Hold Steady and then I got confronted by the man. No more pics per club policy. BOOO!!!! on 4th & B. Well I got to concentrate on Sparta's set which was very heavy on the new songs but still very convincing. Sparta highlights include "Air" and "Taking Back Control". I figured I will get some good pictures at the Avalon show. I did not stay for OK Go because I needed to save my energy for the Hold Steady acoustic set and the Deftones on Sunday.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Rapture and The Presets at the Glass House

I was excited about this show for 2 reasons. I had seen The Presets at Spaceland a few months ago and they had everyone in Spaceland dancing like there was no tommorow. I was extremely impressed by their set and was stoked when I found that the Rapture had chosen The Presets to open their shows. The other reason was I can show up early to Analogue Haven and check out all the sweet synths that they have. I arrived fairly early to walk around and avoid traffic out to Pomona. The first item at Analogue Haven that caught my eye was the moog etherwave pro Theremin. At the small price of $1295.00 this amazing piece of machinery could be yours. Some other cool stuff they had was the new Korg Kaoss pad 3 and an Analogue Systems French Connection which is used by Alessandro Cortini of NIN and Johnny Greenwood of Radiohead. After prying myself from the Theremin, I got in line for the Rapture show. I got to hear the Presets do their sound check from outside which was cool. The doors opened at 7:30 with the Presets finally hitting the stage at 9:00. I secured a pretty good spot and was ready for the onslaught of the Presets. The Presets are a two man duo from Australia with a electronic dance synth vibe. I had read in Future magazine that both Julian and Kim have classical music training but opted for 4 on the floor dance beats and sugary synth dance tunes. One of the cool things the Presets did was use the intro segment from the Pet Shop Boys song "It's a Sin" before they went into the crushing groove of "Are You the One?". The band was quickly winning over fans with each song played. They left the stage with a huge roar of approval from the pomona kids. It will be interesting to see if they convert the L.A. crowd. I had already got my money's worth after seeing the Presets. The Rapture had a lot to live up to as far as I was concerned. They came on and played a 16 song set that delivered. Gabriel was killing it on the saxophone and added delay to it to give it a really funky texture. Vito also had a sweet setup with a Moog Little Phatty synth onstage as well as a Roland Juno. Some of the Rapture highlights included "Heaven", "Sister Saviour", "Get Myself Into It", and "Olio". I have adapted my concert schedule to fit in the San Diego show. Off to San Diego for the next show.

Deftones at the Avalon

On my last post I talked about how I was fated to see the Pet Shop Boys. I was almost fated to NOT see the deftones. It all started when I was stuck in traffic for two and a half hours arriving at 6:00 for the CDUSA taping. By the time I ran up to the KTLA station gates, they were closed about 5 mins prior to my arrival. I was a little disappointed to say the least. It worked out for the best because the Deftones show was early(7:30) because the club was going to open after the show. I was meeting up with my friend at the Deftones show so I got into line and talked to some fellow concertgoers. I somehow dropped my ticket in line and when I got to the front door I was ticketless. The bouncer then stated at that moment that no tickets would be released and a line of thirty people groaned as they trudged away. Another bouncer was sweeping up trash from the sidewalk at that minute and I had a Charlie and the Chocolate Factroy moment as I saw my golden ticket being swept up. I immediately told the bouncer to check for my ticket and he said I was very lucky and handed me my ticket. Whew!! I secured my spot inside and had to sit thru Deadsy. I have seen them before and was not impressed. The lead singer is Exeter Blue who happens to be the son of Cher and one of the Allman Bros. I scanned the crowd for Cher but didn't see her. My friend jokingly said I could have went to the ticket window and said I was Cher's guest and that I was on the list. The Deftones came onto the stage with the intro music of The Cure and started to rock the night away. It was a very heavy "White Pony" set list with an appearance of a female vocalist on "Knife Party" Chino was all over the stage and did the obligatory jump into the crowd during "Hexagram". They also played "Hole in the Earth", and "Cherry Waves" from the new album which sounded great. I was very thankful to be in attendance overall and have my San Diego ticket stapled to my wallet.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Pet Shop Boys at the Wiltern

Sometimes you get lucky and fate determines that you make certain shows. This occurred when my co-worker wanted to work Wednesday evening for me and I worked the day shift. I also got an email from Live Nation the day before advertising half price tickets for the Pet Shop Boys. I took all of these events as signs that I should go to the show. I am so glad I did. Pet Shop Boys have been around since 1981 and have produced a number of hits over the years. They tour infrequently (ie every 6 years or so) and who knows if they will tour again. I managed to get to the Wiltern fairly close to when the doors opened and managed to secure a wrist band down in the front pit. There was no opening act and the Pet Shop Boys hit the stage at 8:30. They had quite an elaborate setup with a large illuminated cube that was rotated by stage hands in hospital scrubs. Multiple costume changes occurred through the night with backup singers and dancers running around stage all night. Neil Tennant's voice was remarkable. Everything sounded incredible. One of my favorite songs from Neil back in the day was his guest vocals on Electronic's "Disappointed". I remember a lot of the songs played such as "Go West", Opportunities", "Domino Dancing", "Heart", "Left to my own Devices", "West End Girls", "Its a Sin", "Where the Streets Have No Name", "Suburbia" , and my favorite... "Always on My Mind". Pet Shop Boys choose the setlist order very carefully as well by mixing a new song with a old song as to not lose momentum throughout the show. After playing for an hour, they took a 15min intermission . The band then returned to play for another 45mins with the show ending at 10:30. Overall an excellent show and in retrospect I would have still been satisfied if I had paid $80 for the ticket, but $45 made it even sweeter.