Tuesday, January 30, 2007

NAMM at the Anaheim Convention Center

You have to play the video above to get an idea of just how radical the Buchla Synthesizer is.
This is the first Gibson digital guitar with a USB plug that can record each string separately. Money not included.
This Schecter guitar plays more consistently than the L.A. Kings.
I have always wanted an Gibson SG. I finally decided which color....Silverburst.
This is a close up of John Dolmayan's(System of A Down) custom Tama drum set which features famous comic book artist drawings on all the drums.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Cold War Kids, Sparrow Love Crew, and Sam Owens at Spaceland

I have been a long time fan of Thrice ever since they used to play the Chain Reaction in Anaheim. I particularly enjoyed the artwork for their album "The Artist and The Ambulance". Can you guess who did the artwork? A website called coldwarkids.com. Now flash forward almost four years later and there is a band stirring up interest called the Cold Ward Kids. Coincidence? I think not. When I saw Dustin Kensrue(Thrice) at the Knitting Factory, he had The Colour open for him. When I went to see The Colour, the Sparrow Love Crew opened for them. I know the Cold War Kids used to open for The Colour. Then I found out the Sparrow Love Crew was opening for the Cold War Kids at Spaceland. Do you follow?
Spaceland was packed for a super sold out night of the Cold War Kids. Samuel Owens was up first rocking a lefty Washburn hollowbody guitar splashed with reverb. Without a backing band, he soldiered through a set that included some piano playing and a good majority of the crowd talking. Its fun to talk to your friends at a show, but if you don't pay attention you may miss a good set. The Sparrow Love Crew were up next and had the full house rocking. Hitting the stage with lots of energy and hip hop beats, they had some hands in the air with lyrics like "you better have brought the peanut butter cause we got the jams". Huge points to DJ Opi Styles who hooked up a DIY theremin to his DJ turntable. The Cold War Kids were up next and lived up to the hype. It was difficult to take good shots because of the constant motion and energy by the band. Johnnie Russell was playing an awesome Gibson archtop hollowbody. His pedal setup included a lonely MXR microamp feeding into his Fender Super Reverb. Nathan Willett was banging on his Yamaha electric piano and a Casio Tone Bank. Matt Maust was rocking the Rickenbacker bass with authority whilie rambling back and forth on stage. Highlights from their set include "Hospital Beds", "Robbers", and "Hang Me Up to Dry". They will be playing the El Rey in a few weeks with some special guests. Anybody know who it will be?

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Satellite Party at Spaceland

Surprise, Surprise. Another "secret show". Originally billed as "The Solutionists", Satellite Party was relatively more of a "secret show" than Helmet. It was one of the few times you will ever see guitar techs working at a spaceland show. It was also one of the few times you will see two Marshall JCM 2000 amp heads stacked on each other for one guitarist. When I saw the brown Washburn guitar with a reverse headstock, it could only mean that Nuno Bettencourt was in the house. Of course you may know Nuno when he was rocking out with Extreme. The Satellite Party features collaborations with Peter Hook(Joy Division/New Order), some of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Fergie, and some previously unheard spoken word by Jim Morrison. The touring lineup consists of Perry Farrell, Nuno Bettencourt, drummer Kevin Figueiredo, bassist Carl Restivo and his wife Etty Lau Farrell on back up vocals. Their keyboardist was rocking a Moog Voyager, a Nord Electro 3, and a M-Audio controller hooked up to his laptop. They debuted songs off of Ultra Payloaded which were presented in a more stripped down rock and roll vibe. I would imagine the cd would be more orchestral judging by the track they have on myspace. Perry has always been known for being an intense stage performer. I think the size of the stage at Spaceland may have left Perry feeling confined. This will not be a problem in the future as I am sure they will play much larger venues. The songs sounded more Jane's Addiction than Porno for Pyros. They did a great rendition of "Mountain Song" which probably stirred up flashbacks of those who attended Lollapalooza. Perry always surrounds himself with excellent musicians and with the executive production of Steve Lillywhite(U2/Morrissey) it will be interesting to see how long this party will rage for.

Helmet at the Viper Room

At the Glass House show, Page had mentioned that Helmet would be doing a show at the Viper Room. After checking the Viper Room calendar, I found out the info and secured my ticket. The funny part was they originally had Helmet listed on the website and then later changed it to a bunch of question marks. I arrived just in time to see Year Long Disaster on stage playing a Wolfmother/Kyuss mix of stoner rock/blues. The intriguing thing about Year Long Disaster is they are fronted by Daniel Davies. Daniel happens to have quite the pedigree as his father is Ray Davies of the Kinks. Daniel was rocking a sweet goldtop Les Paul and the obligatory Orange Amp head and cab. Daniel had great stage presence and was giving it his all on stage. They will play with The Sword at the Troubadour in March. I missed It's Revenge as I went outside to talk to my friend Steve who runs Hollywoodmusic.tv. His crew were covering the whole night as they run a cool site that focuses on the L.A. rock and metal scene. Open Hand were up next and played an intriguing blend of math metal that reminded me of Cave-In(Antenna era) with keyboards mixed in for atmosphere. Helmet was up next and destroyed the Viper Room. In case you haven't been to the Viper Room before, imagine a band playing in your living room. This show also featured the debut of Page's custom ESP guitar that has a brushed aluminium finish. In comparision to the other shows I have seen(Glasshouse/Casbah) this was special in the fact that it was a very visceral in your face performance. Their set seemed like it was ten minutes. They eviscerated the crowd with a double barrel shotgun blast of "Milquetoast" and "In the Meantime". Kyle Stevenson's drumming was like clockwork overall and especially on those last two tracks. As most Helmet fans tend to be musicians.... Chino Moreno (Deftones), Ken Andrews (Failure/Year of the Rabbit) were in the audience. I implore you to attend the Jan 31st and Feb 1st show at the Troubadour. You will not be disappointed.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

NAMM at the Anaheim Convention Center

Still going through lots of pictures and video from NAMM. I am also working on the redesign for Amateurchemist.com. Here is a little bit more from NAMM that caught my eye.

I have always been intrigued by Diezel amps ever since Lollapolloza 1997 when I saw Adam Jones from Tool playing thru a VH4S amp head. I made it a point to stop by the booth and have a chat with the Diezel crew. They were showcasing all four amp heads (Einstein, VH4, VH4S(stereo), and the Herbert). To try and describe the tone that eminates from these heads comes as an exercise in futility. You have to hear these amps in a closed sound room with your favorite guitar plugged in. These amps are unforgiving. The quality of your guitar becomes very apparent when plugged in to a Diezel. One interesting factoid I learned is that Adam Jones was the first customer in the United States to buy a Diezel. Luckily enough, Tone Merchants down in Orange, California sell these beauties so go over and try one out.
Another small history lesson for my readers. Dave Smith authored MIDI(Musical Instrument Digital Interface) and was the creator of the Prophet 5(a legendary keyboard) when he was running the Sequential Circuits company. Dave has recent creations in the Poly Evolver and the Evolver. The latest teaser was the preview of the Boomchik. This is a collaboration with Roger Linn (father of the MPC 60) as a combination of an analog/digital drum machine. No information was made available about the Boomchik except for the fact that they had reservations about even debuting the poster.

At the Big City Music space, I bumped into Eric Barbour of Metasonix. He was debuting the Metasonix TM-7. The TM-7 is an amazing guitar preamp consisting of 3 vacuum tubes with a feedback loop rendering the preamp unstable. One of the tubes is a 6AK5 used in military radios used as a preamp paired with another 6AK5 for a drive control. The other culprit is a 6BN6 tube that was used in FM radios and provides a push-pull guitar amp overly saturated sound. I need to add this to my arsenal of music gear...ASAP. Check out the demonstration video above.
One of the first reviews from us here at the chemist was The Hold Steady at the Detroit Bar. Since then their stock has risen to the point of corporate sponsorship. Tad Kubler is shown endorsing the new Epiphone Blues Custom amp. It is a class a or ab amp with lady luck eminence speakers. I can not help but root for the guys of The Hold Steady. Good Job Tad!

The people from E-Mu systems had to be some of the sharpest dressed at NAMM with their blue Addidas track jackets with the E-Mu logo. They brought out an old E-Mu modular system and were demonstrating the E-Mu Platinum series. Also take note of my helpful advice during the video.

Black Tooth Bash at the Anaheim Hilton

The hottest afterparty ticket for NAMM was the Black Tooth Bash featuring the Black Tooth All Stars which included members of Black Label Society, Motorhead, Anthrax, Strapping Young Lad, and Slipknot. This party was a tribute to Dimebag Darrell from Pantera who was unexplainably murdered on stage. I had seen Pantera on the Reinventing the Steel Tour at the Long Beach Arena and was floored by how crazy Darrell's solos were live. I luckily secured my pass on Thursday and got to the Hilton early as the representatives of Coffin Case suggested. The Pacific Ballroom was packed to capacity within twenty minutes of the doors opening. It was rumored that a few hundred people were turned away as well. Meldrum featuring Gene Hoglan(Strapping Young Lad/Dark Angel) was up first. Besides Gene, the rest of Meldrum hail from Sweden and sound like fellow compatriots The Sounds mixed with a dash of Kittie. They played an energetic set that ended with a crushing cover of "Walk". The boys of Black Label Society along with JD tore up the stage with covers of songs by Ozzy Osborne, Jimi Hendrix, Ac/Dc, and Van Halen. Scott Ian (Anthrax), Paul Gray (Slipknot), Tim Owens (Iced Earth, Judas Priest), and Vinnie Paul (Pantera) destroyed the stage next with their covers of Kiss, and a scorching version of Judas Priest's "Electric Eye". In between the sets, the crowd was entertained by the Coffin Case girls who were showcasing their new line of products. Nick Bowcutt (Grim Reaper) also did a marathon jam of Pantera riffs that was mind blowing. Lemmy from Motorhead later on took the stage to perform some old Beatles, Sex Pistols, and Thin Lizzy covers. Overall, an amazing night of heavy metal. Thanks again to Coffin Case for the invite!

Ok Go at the House of Blues in Anaheim

Ok Go know quite a few things about marketing. One moment they are filming a video in their backyard and the next moment they are nominated for a Grammy. A large part due to the viral activity of their "A Million Ways" and "Here it Goes" dance video sensations and their incessant touring. Not wanting to be a flash in the pan or a one hit wonder, they put on an extra energetic show to win over all the non believers. Sennheiser sponsored a party at the House of Blues in Anaheim which converted a whole crowd of industry people. Since it was a private party, I was able to actually get some decent shots. Ok Go came on and got the crowd going early. Damian Kulash was handling guitar and vocal duties as well as keeping the audience entertained. Damian referred to the crowd as a bunch of "audio nerds" and took requests on which cover song to play (ELO or the Violent Femmes) though they eventually played both. Of course they were using Sennheiser wireless mics. Damian even commented how a few Ok Go fans snuck in and that if they ever opened a music store that they should stock it only with Sennheiser products. They ended their set with chreographed rendition of "A Million Ways" that had the entire venue clapping in approval. I did not stay for the Robert Randolph band as I needed to preserve my energy for another day of NAMM madness.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Darker My Love at the Orange County Museum of Art

One could assume that after a full day of NAMM that I would not make it out that night for a show. I could not pass up the opportunity to see Darker My Love at the Orange County Museum of Art. They put on a great performance last time I saw them at the Detroit Bar opening for Asobi Seksu. If you listen to the Asobi Seksu live album at the Echo, you can hear the band praise Darker My Love throughout the disc. The boys rambled on stage and the fuzz storm reigned down courtesy of Jared Everett's Z.Vex Fuzz Factory and Z.Vex Super Duper augmented with Tim Presley's Big Muff Distortion pedal running through his Marshall Amp and Orange Cab. Rob Barbato was keeping the low end steady with his Ampeg Bass stack. They play an excellent blend of psychedelic rock with hints of Kyuss, and Dead Meadow. They also had an additional organist thickening up the sound via an Ace Tone organ. They played songs off of their self titled debut album which included a smoking rendition of "What's a Man's Paris". Check out their live recordings at Spaceland as well to get the atmospheric feel that they produce in a live setting. Luckily their set did not run too late as I needed the energy for day 2 of NAMM.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

NAMM Day 3 at the Anaheim Convention Center

Hey Stewart! Are the Coachella rumors true? Rage against the Machine instead of the Police?

John Taylor on film.

You get thirsty signing autographs all day.(Synyster Gates and Zachy Vengeance of Avenged Sevenfold)

Did I mention that you get thirsty signing autographs?(Troy Van Leuwenn of Queens of the Stone Age and Aaron North of NIN)

Let's play name that indie rock drummer!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

NAMM Day 2 at the Anaheim Convention Center

Two kings of Metal and Rock(Kerry King of Slayer and Jim Marshall).
A recount for Roger O'Donnell.
Software or Hardware? That is the question that Arturia proposes with its Origin synth.
Have to represent with the analog.
Thanks to Sennheiser for the invite to the private party at the House of Blues in Anaheim with Ok Go.

I have been swimming in gear for two days now and still have much more to update. Thanks to everyone today who took the time to demo some of their products. Only at NAMM can you talk to Jason McGerr from Death Cab for Cutie(recording starts in september) to challenging Stephen Carpenter from the Deftones to a game of Tiger Woods on Xbox 360. I hear Stephen can crush golf balls just like he crushes his ESP guitar. Better bring your "A" game Stephen, we will take this to the links!

Friday, January 19, 2007

NAMM at Anaheim Convention Center

Fender's Eddie Van Halen exact replica of the "Frankenstein" guitar.

When the Little Ones hit it big, they will use this on stage.

The cold weather won't hurt these Oranges.

I saw Depeche Mode 5 times on the last tour and finally solved the mystery of who made his star guitar...First Act.

Three new Boss pedals to sink your teeth into. The Fuzz was very impressive. I really liked the Dyna Drive. The Metal Core turned out to be self descriptive.