Sunday, December 24, 2006
So at the last minute I added another show to my blog... no surprise to those who know me. The KROQ locals only Holiday Throwdown show at the Knitting Factory was only $7 and had 4 bands playing so I figured what the heck. I also wanted to see The Oohlas again since the last time I saw them was at Cinespace for their record release party. Their album Best Stop Pop is a superb album with lots of different tempo songs and all very catchy. Pop Levi was up first. As a former member of Ladytron I was obligated to check him out. Instead of synths, Pop Levi showed up solo with a Strat, a Vox Wah, and a Line 6 Modulation pedal and shredded!! It is difficult to describe what style of music he was playing but it had a western/60's vibe with a lot of phasing and flanging sprinkled on top. Unfortunately he did not have any cd's with him but I will check it out. The Secret 6 were up next hailing from Long Beach. They had a good sound and were rocking the Orange Amps!! Very anthemic songs with catchy choruses. Just be careful that you don't spell out 6 because there is some other band with that name that is not even close to these guys. They will be playing the Prospector in Long Beach on January 27th and I will have to roll by as well. The Oohlas came up next and put on an energetic show. Ollie has quite the stage presence and is a dynamo on stage. She was rocking a sweet Telecaster with a Big Muff distortion Pedal, and a Holy Grail Reverb which produced a killer sound. Every song on their album seems like a single to me. My favorite songs of their set included "TV Dinner", "Gone", "Octopus" and "Small Parts". Once this album makes it into your cd player or ipod, it never seems to go away. The guitar player Greg Eklund used to be the drummer for Everclear which is ironic since Alessandro Cortini(ModWheelMood) had a stint in Everclear as well. I recommend you pick up their album Best Stop Pop and you will not be disappointed if you like bands like Lush, and early Veruca Salt. Mark Eklund, the bass player also had a Digitech Whammy Pedal that he was running an octave up and plugged into a separate Vox amp which was interesting. Gliss was up next and have the endorsement of some of my favorite bands (Smashing Pumpkins, the Editors, and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club). They have a nice droney, fuzzed out Jesus and The Mary Chain type sound that I was digging. I haven't heard that much fuzz bass since Honey's Dead. All the band members switched between drums, bass and guitar for which I gave them extra points. I snapped a picture of the pedal board for the guitar to see that they were using the old school Boss pedals of Delay, Tremolo along with a Pro Co Turbo Rat. I purchased their new CD and will add it to the ipod. You can't even go to the movies for $7.00 these days but you sure can catch a good show if you look hard enough.
Thursday, December 21, 2006
Justin Timberlake has been trying to bring sexy back. The Little Ones are trying to bring the Mellotron back and that is what I consider sexy. For those unaware, the mellotron is a primitive sampler that used tapes that contained recordings of strings, flutes and other musical instruments. The classic example of a mellotron song is the Beatles "Strawberry Fields Forever". Speaking of the Beatles, I noticed some other examples of Beatles influence including a Hohner Bass, and a Rickenbacker guitar in the Little Ones setup. I missed the Little Ones at the Echo recently and now I regret it in retrospect. They put on a great set at the Orange County Museum of Art that rocked the house and had everyone singing and clapping along. They had an assortment of instruments littered all over the stage and even recruited some "Little Little Ones" for some shaker help during their songs. They managed to channel The Hold Steady in that it looked like they were having more fun on stage then everyone else which became infectious. Their guitarist was rocking the Korg Kaoss Pad using it to add some rhythmic effects to his guitar sounds as well as a Z.Vex Super Hard On pedal (Overdrive). The keyboard setup involved a Nord Electro and a USB keyboard controller hooked up to Apple Powerbook running Reason for Mellotron sounds. The lead singer/guitarist had a nice collection of pedals as pictured above. Their 7 song EP Sing Song is a great little sampler of what is to come. The album art looks very similar to that of The Shins "Chutes Too Narrow" which is fitting given that they right great pop '60s influenced songs. I highly recommend "Oh, MJ!", and "Cha Cha Cha". They will be touring the U.K. in January and will continue to win over new fans. Hopefully they will tack on some U.S. dates later.
After surviving the fuzz storm of last nights Silversun Pickups show, I gathered myself and the camera for another round. Tigers Can Bite You was up first and played a solid set. The lead guitarist/vocalist(Dave) had a good setup of Boss pedals that included a Tremolo, Delay,Phaser, and Super Overdrive that produced a swirly, hypnotic guitar tone. The keyboardist also added some ethereal layers of sound washes to the songs. They had a good sound and tight songs that clocked in the 2-3 minute range. I also spotted some of the Silversun Pickups in the crowd checking out the set. I will check them out again if they play in the area. Irving was up next and had an impressive amount of gear setup. The bassist was rocking a Boss Giga Delay and an old DOD Course Fuzz pedal. They were excellent as well even though they ran into some sound problems due to the keyboards not working as well as the guitars having some problems. One thing I liked about Irving was they had different band members sing some of their songs. They had a Brit pop influenced sound with a dash of the fuzz. I picked up their latest CD on the way out to find out it was produced by Phil Ek. Unfortunately they don't have an upcoming shows up but I will be on the lookout. The Troubadour seemed to be at a greater capacity on Sunday when Irving hit the stage versus when Midnight Movies hit the stage on Saturday. The Pickups hit the stage next and proceeded to destroy everyone with their waves of fuzz and pummelling drums. They did hit a snag when Brian's guitar setup went out. He was having problems with his Ibanez Turbo distortion. He later switched it out and replaced it with the Big Muff Fuzz pedal. Another causalty was his Morley line selector went out and therefore could not switch between his 3 amps. So for the rest of the set he could only switch between clean and dirty tones.What he lacked in guitar tone he made up for in performance. He mentioned that his guitar was not working but the whisky was!!! After playing all of Carnavas, I didn't expect encore since they played a 10 minute version of "Waste It On". Fortunately, I was wrong and they came back and played a scorching rendition of "Comeback Kid" and "Creation Lake". They will be coming back as the opener for Snow Patrol and unfortunately won't get enough time to showcase all their dynamic tunes but I will try to check it out to see how they fare.
Monday, December 18, 2006
It is only fitting that the spectacular concert year of 2006 close with a double shot of Silversun Pickups. Talking to Brian at the instore at Fingerprints Records he warned me to get to the Troubadour early to check out the opening bands. It turns out he was right. Twilight Sleep was up first and made quite the impression. They performed a collection of dreamy electronic tinged songs. The keyboard player was conjuring some interesting sounds from his setup. He was using Ableton Live 6 as his sampler. Tracy the lead singer had a beautiful voice reminiscent of Bjork. You can download some of their songs on myspace. They will be playing the Silverlake Lounge on January 29 and I may check it out. Brian was in the crowd cheering them along. Midnight Movies was next and played a good set. They were not restricted by their bandages(see Ladytron Halloween review) this time. Gena entranced the crowd and played a strong set. Sandra also busted out the flute which was impressive. It may be a coincidence that they call themselves Midnight Movies because the music does have a cinematic feel too it. Ryan also gets huge points for rocking the Fender Jaguar on "Patient Eye". They will be at Safari Sam's in January as well. Silversun Pickups came up next and rocked the house. As they get bigger.. so does Brian's guitar setup as he added a small Vox amp to his setup. He was A/B/C? switching between his Fender, Marshall, and Vox amps. One interesting note was he switched out his Big Muff Distortion for an Ibanez Turbo Distortion. At previous shows they had not played "Three Seed" but added it to the set and it sounded great. They played all of Carnavas and added "Kissing Families" to the amazing set. The Troubadour was at max capacity once they hit the stage. Joseph ended up tipping over his Keyboards at the end of the set and couldn't add his magic to "Common Reactor" but it still ruled. I am glad I went to both nights because I don't think they will play the Troubadour again for a long time.
There was a bit of irony going to the Gibson Amphitheatre to see Brian Setzer due to the fact that Brian has supported Gretsch guitars for years. I never pass on an opportunity to see Brian Setzer because he puts on a spectacular show. The first time I attended a Brian Setzer Orchestra show was maybe 5 years ago at the Greek Theatre with Joe Strummer(R.I.P) opening. I was completely blown away by what an amazing guitarist Brian is. His annual Christmas show is always a treat and has been a Christmas ritual just like KROQ Acoustic Christmas. Another reason I was excited for this show was I had managed to secure pit tickets and was hoping to get some good pictures. Hillbilly Casino for Nashville opened the show with a rollicking brand of rockabilly/punk vwith fast songs and equally fast guitar licks. They had the traditional stand up Bass player who was rocking out pretty hard along with a blazing fast guitarist with a sweet collection of Gretsch guitars,a Fender amp, and a Roland Space Echo. The band also thanked Brian Setzer for opening as they mentioned they were an unsigned band. Brian was up next and really got the crowd going early. The stage was packed with his whole orchestra, 2 back up singers, christmas trees, snowmen, and a sundry of other Christmas objects. The back drop of the set would also change every 5 songs with different album covers of his Christmas albums. Some of the highlights included "Jump, JIve, an' Wail", "Rock This Town", "Stray Cat Strut", "You're a Mean One Mr. Grinch" and the Grammy nominated "Favorite Things". Brian shredded on his beautiful sparkle blue Gretsch guitar and made it look effortless. He also thanked everyone for coming out to "Gretsch Amphitheatre". Brian also gives his orchestra a break midway thru the set and jams with his stand up Bass player and his drummer rocking a 2 piece drum set as a curtain falls with a back drop of a city behind him. They played a shredding version of "Fishnet Stockings". Another display of Brian's talent was when he played "Nutcraker Suite". Brian had the sheet music on the stand and would flip the music over as he was playing along with the tune....impressive!! The Grinch also made an appearence during the set and teased the audience with the first few notes of "Rock Lobster" of B-52's fame. Unfortunately, all the Christmas songs reminded me that I have to go shopping for presents.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
Warning! This review is not for the faint of heart. Another Hollywood Palladium show I remember going to was And You Will Know Us By the Trail of the Dead, Queens of the Stone Age, and Peaches. At that point, I had never heard of Peaches and was quite shocked by her performance back then. I had seen her a couple of times opening for the amazing summer tour of Nine Inch Nails and Bauhaus and found myself being haunted by her and her seductive synth bass lines. Not many bands can rock the vaunted Keytar like the Peaches crew. But I digress, Jeffree Star opened the show with a shocking set similar to that of Peaches but relied on more shock than rock. One would think that you couldn't out shock Peaches at her game, but Jeffree Star managed to do that. With song titles that can't be typed here on this family approved site, Jeffree had some of the audience fooled and asking whether it was a guy or a girl. Without getting into too much detail, check out his website if you are that curious. Whitey came on next and provided a solid electro/rock set similar to that of the Rakes with a smidge of the Strokes, and a sprinkle of synths. Hailing from the U.K., they played a solid set but after being scared/scarred by Jeffree Star... one would think they should have switched slots on the tour. The red curtain dropped and Peaches was about to hit the stage. When I started to hear the classic keyboard line of "The Final Countdown" by Europe... I knew the spectacle was about to begin. Peaches has incredible stage energy and lots of charisma. If you look past the raunchy lyrics, the songs are extremely well crafted. The funny part is she used to be a music teacher in Canada!! As I mentioned, not many bands can rock one keytar let alone two keytars!! Her backing band contains the talented Sam Maloney(Hole,Motley Crue) and JD Samson of Le Tigre fame. The highlight for me was when Peaches came out rocking to the Roland MC-909. She even used the D-Beam feature of the 909 to simulate a theremin! After whipping the crowd into a frenzy, Peaches and the Herms took a bow with a repeat perfomance scheduled for the next night.
After smokin' the Joint at the Hard Rock, I figured Wolfmother could not put on a better show in L.A. I was really, really wrong. I usually don't like going to the Palladium but I will make the exception for a good show. For those who haven't had the pleasure of going to the Hollywood Palladium, you aren't missing much. I have seen some great shows at the Palladium back in day like Alice in Chains, Tool, Pearl Jam, Deftones, and Morrissey but good shows at the Palladium have been few and far between. I did miss Ladytron/The Faint at the Palladium while I was in Vegas for Wolfmother but I made the right choice in retrospect. The Palladium is notorious for its strip search frisk at the door as well as outlawing any object to enter that isn't your money or your ticket. I was going to leave my camera at home but managed to sneak it in by placing my cell phone and wallet together on the table while I was getting the pat down. Unfortunately not many pictures came out as one would think the Pope was in building with all the security patrolling the venue so I included some outtakes from the Las Vegas show. Pink Mountaintops opened the show with an extended forty minute set. They hail from the great north(Canada) and play a fuzzed out brand of psychedelic rock. Brothers in arms include Darker My Love, Queens of the Stone Age, and a sprinkle of the Jesus & Mary Chain fuzz for good measure mixed with a bit of folk. They had 2 percussionists as well as some female singers as well but had a good groove going during the set. Wolfmother was on next and destroyed the crowd from the get go. On the guitar side, Andrew Stockdale rocks the Gibson SG (silent nod to Angus Young of AC/DC?) and runs it through an Orange Amp. I have seen a few of my guitar heroes play through Orange amps such as Billy Corgan, and Matt Talbott(Hum). His tone is as crunchy as a jar of Skippy peanut butter. If you want to tap into your inner Rock Star then I suggest you pick up Guitar Hero II and rock out to "Joker and the Thief". Some of the differences compared to the Vegas show include a rousing extended version of "Joker and the Thief" and "Woman". The real treat was a cover of "Communication Breakdown" of Led Zeppelin. My jaw hit the floor after that spot on rendition. Wolfmother thanked the crowd as this was the last night of the tour and called Los Angeles "Our Spirtual Hometown". I hope they play home more often.
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
I was looking forward to having a rare day off on Monday to watch the football game and relax, but I happened to stumble on the Fingerprints Records website to see that the Silversun Pickups were playing an acoustic set on Monday night. Even though I needed the Bears to win the Football game to clinch the pool for the week, I knew I couldn't miss this show. Fingerprints often has acoustic performances at the store but they always seem to fall at bad times. I went a little early to scope it out and secure a good place. As I mentioned with the Hold Steady acoustic performance, you can't hide behind any studio trickery or wall of sound when you play acoustically. I had heard Silversun Pickups acoustically on an AOL music podcast and was really impressed and expected not to be let down. Brian showed up and proceeded to play a stellar acoustic set that showed how great these songs are. The set list included "Well Thought Out Twinkles", "Rusted Wheel", "Three Seed", "Future Foe Scenarios", "Common Reactor", "Lazy Eye", "Kissing Families"(with Nikki), and "Creation Lake". Brian was taking requests so I on the video you can hear my suggestion of "Common Reactor". I would have posted more pictures but I was too busy taking video of the whole thing! Everyone has their best of lists for 2006 and my number one album will be Carnavas. I had given my original copy of Carnavas to a staff member of Team Chemist and was fortunate that they were selling the cd for $10 and you got a nifty poster with it. They signed cd's and posters afterward which was cool. It will be a great way to close out the year with 2 nights of the Pickups at the Troubadour. I drove back hitting In-N-Out on the way and later finding out the Bears won. Not a bad way to start the week.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Barely surviving the drive home from San Diego, I drove up to the Gibson Amphitheatre for the KROQ Almost Acoustic Christmas night number two. I have somehow made it to about 6 years of Acoustic Christmas and it becomes more difficult to get tickets every year. The back up plan was to go to Spaceland and see Jet with Bloodcat Love if I didn't get tickets but I lucked out and got front row loge. The new debacle KROQ used this year was to make you listen to KROQ through the weekend untill they played "Everlong" by the Foo Fighters and tickets would then go on sale. I listen to KROQ periodically but 3 days in a row was waaay too much. How many times do you really need to hear My Chemical Romance? The whole ordeal confirmed how shallow the programming is over at KROQ. Even though the line up was not as strong as years past, The Killers and Foo Fighters were more then enough reason to be in attendance. She Wants Revenge was up first and played a strong set. They have come a long way since I saw them at the Troubadour before their album came out. After an opening jaunt with Depeche Mode and multiple crossing of the states, their set is very tight. They also got huge points for covering "Hazy Shade of Winter". It was one of two and a half Christmas songs played that night. Snow Patrol was up next and received a warm reception playing "Chasing Cars", "Open Your Eyes", and "Run". Angels and Airwaves came up next and received a lukewarm reception. The songs sound good on CD but when performed live, Tom uses way too much reverb on his vocals. He was in a rather chatty mood talking about how his music can change the world. This is a hard sell coming from a former member of Blink-182 who was known for their potty humor. The only person that can get away with saying that their music can change the world is Bono. I still liked "The Adventure" even though the guitar line is a rip off of "Space Age Love Song". Tom also blatantly hijacks The Edge's guitar sound so I think I am on to something here. Gnarls Barkley came on next and played an entertaining set. They always come out in different costumes so it was no surprise that they came out in Santa and Elf costumes. Cee-Lo was funny as he checked his blackberry while singing a song. Dangermouse was rocking the Moog Voyager which sounded great. Some favorites included "St. Elsewhere", "Crazy", and "Gone Daddy Gone". Cee-lo also referred to the band as Dirty Santa and the Ho-Ho-Hoes. Evanescence was clearly out of place with the hard rock guitars. Amy has a beautiful voice and is really talented but the whole group seems contrived. Panic at the Disco came out with their circus/cabaret show and entertained the teenagers in the crowd. When they played their popular song, they mentioned that they were sick of playing it which I thought was funny.Raconteurs played a solid rock set with "Steady as She Goes" being the highlight. I do say I like the White Stripes more. Jack was singing a little differently with the Raconteurs from what I remember. Beck was up next and finally got the whole amphitheatre standing and rocking out. Opening with "Loser" and playing one hit after another. Beck had puppets of himself and the band dancing behind him and being projected on the big screens. It was quite the spectacle. Other highlights include "Devil's Haircut", "Nausea", " 2 Turntables and a Microphone".The Killers kept the momentum rolling with some strong selections from their two albums. "Read My Mind" was my favorite as well as the new Christmas song "A Great Big Sled". Foo Fighters came out acoustically and did "My Hero", "Skin & Bones", and "Everlong". The stage spun during "Everlong" and they switched to an electric set to play "Monkey Wrench" and "Times Like These". Quite the night of rock if I say so myself.
After washing out the cigarette smoke from Las Vegas, I jetted down to San Diego for the FM 94.9 Holiday Hootenanny. KROQ had announced night one of Acoustic Christmas but besides Wolfmother, and Incubus I couldn't have cared less. So I was excited when I found out about the Holiday Hootenanny. As a huge fan of the Smiths, and Electronic.. I was excited to see Johnny Marr on stage again. I had seen him before perfoming with The The as the openers for Depeche Mode on the Songs of Faith and Devotion Tour but missed him at the Troubadour when he performed with the Healers. Silversun Pickups happenend to open the show and secured my rail spot to check out there set. On the way into the arena, multiple signs were posted that no cameras were allowed but security wasn't doing any pat downs so only later on did I start taking pictures. The show was delayed for 45mins for no apparent reason but the DJ's came out and said everyone would play their full set to the crowd's delight. As with festival type shows, set times were short. Silversun Pickups played their usual outstanding set and added "Common Reactor" back into the fold at the expense of "Dream at Tempo 119". The sound was mixed very well and you could hear Joseph's keyboard/sampler setup clearly. It also seemed like some of the songs were sped up to accomodate as many as possible. The crowd responded very well again and its only a matter of time before they become super huge. Pete Yorn was up next and played a solid set. I wasn't terribly impressed with his latest album but his first album was extremely good. I guess he knows this because he mostly played songs from his first album. I have seen Pete a few times in the past and his voice is hit or miss.. that night he missed. He did play "Undercover" which was really good but missed some of the high notes. The Shins came up next and did a phenomenal job. Their new single "Phantom Limb" is incredibly catchy and they played a lot of songs from the upcoming album "Wincing the Night Away". This album will make them huge as well. They added a former member of the Fruitbats to their line up to help round out their sound with slide guitar and some keyboard parts. Some of the stand out songs include "New Slang", "Phantom Limb" and numerous new songs. James mentioned to the crowd that too many people were singing along to the new album given the fact that it has not been released yet. Modest Mouse stormed the stage next and the crowd seemed to be eagerly awaiting them the most. Unfortunately, I picked the wrong side of the stage as Johnny Marr was across the stage. I did manage to see his stellar Fender Jaguar. I think most people either love or hate Modest Mouse live. Some of the new songs sounded good, but I could be biased since I love Johnny Marr's guitar playing. Isaac usually throws a temper tantrum during the set but I managed to avoid that after 7 songs because I had to drive home in the worst rainstorm ever.
I know that in the description of my blog I mention that I do concert reviews in the L.A., O.C., and S.D. counties but sometimes I will hit up Southworst Airlines and make a trip to Las Vegas. I have seen many great bands at the Hard Rock in my time including Depeche Mode (twice), Nine Inch Nails, Coldplay, Duran Duran, Twisted Sister(1/2 price tickets and it ruled!), Zwan, and Tool. Nothing beats a great show and winning some money. I was in Vegas a month ago for the Muse show which was absolutely phenomenal for a number of reasons. So when I came back I started planning another trip to Vegas. I had seen Wolfmother before at San Diego Street Scene and they rocked the crowd. I missed them at Coachella but apparently they stole the show there as well. My luck increased when they announced that Silversun Pickups would open for them after I had already planned the trip so I knew I would be in for an amazing show. I always like the staying at the Hard Rock Hotel because how many casinos can you walk into and hear Bloc Party, and Interpol while you are playing blackjack? Walking into the Joint I didn't see Joseph's Keyboard setup from the Silversun Pickups and I wondered what was going on. It turns out that Simon Dawes was opening the show. They played a straight up rock set but I was expecting to see the Pickups so I was not really paying too much attention. The Silversun Pickups finally came on after and proceeded to win over the crowd with their fury of feedback, and waves of distortion. Unfortunately they played a condensed set and left out "Common Reactor" which is one of my favorite songs off the album. I guess this is the problem you get when you have too many good songs. Wolfmother came out next and if the Silversun Pickups were playing at "9"... Wolfmother turned it up to the proverbial Spinal Tap "11". Listening to the album will not convey the appropriate message that you get from the Wolfmother live show. Rock, Rock, and more Rock was served up in constant fashion. I am amazed at the amount of music that can eminate from 3 people. The drums were thunderous, and the bass lines were rollicking(sweet Rickenbacker bass). Chris Ross was killing it on the organ as well. All of his pedal effects are fastened to the organ as he drags it around the stage jumping up and down hitting all the notes effortlessly, Highlights included "Woman", and "Joker and the Thief". Wolfmother may never surpass AC/DC as one of the best Australian rock bands out there but hopefully they will be around a long time. I will miss them at KROQ acoustic christmas but will see them tonight at the Palladium.