Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Crowded House at the Greek Theatre

It was a storybook night for a show at the Greek Theatre. I haven't seen Crowded House since the Womad Festival back in 1993 in San Francisco and forgot how good Crowded House was as a live act.

It is safe to say that music talent lies in the genes as witnessed by Liam Finn's mesmerizing opening act. Clocking in at barely twenty minutes, the crowd let out a measurable sigh when Liam Finn announced it was his last song. Liam was a one man army with his assault on the drums and masterful use of his Line 6 DL4 modeler's sampling function. As if I wasn't sold enough after his barrage on the drum kit while playing over a sampled octave shifted guitar riff, Liam busted out the theremin. When is Liam playing again?

Pete Yorn threw me for a loop when he opened with his Warren Zevon cover "Splendid Isolation". Pete Yorn has been on tour for awhile and the tightness of his band showed. Pete made the remark that he always wanted to play the Greek Theatre and was excited to be there. The setlist was heavy on the first album which was fine by me. Pete mentioned he wrote "Life On A Chain" here in Los Angeles before performing a rollicking version of the song. When I heard the shuffling drum beat intro to "Young Folks", I found myself smiling. Apparently Pete was approached at Bonnaroo by fan requesting that he play the Pete Yorn song "Young Folks". The question is will how will Peter, Bjorn & John react?

Pete Yorn setlist for the Greek Theatre (8/28/07)
"Splendid Isolation" (Warren Zevon)
"Crystal Village"
"The Man"
"For Us"
"Strange Condition"
"Life on a Chain"
"Young Folks" (Peter Bjorn and John)

My second loop (not counting all of Liam's loops) was when Crowded House opened with "Something So Strong" that elicited a large cheer from the audience. Neil Finn (Guitars/Vocals) was smiling and singing with his sparkling Gibson Les Paul Gold top. Liam Finn (Guitars) was on the back of the stage on a riser adding acoustic guitars and background vocals. The band played very loosely and seemed to have permanent smiles on their faces as they played all night. "Say That Again" was next and is a new track off their excellent new album "Time On Earth". It sounded as timeless as all their other tracks and made for a smooth transition to "Don't Stop Now"

Nick Seymour was looking dapper in his white suit coat and plucking away at his Fender Jazz Bass. Matt Sherrod (Drums) was hidden in back providing a solid beat all night. Mark Hart (Guitars,Keyboards) was either handling the keyboards or strumming away on his Gibson guitar. Mark did have his moment in the sun with an impromptu version of "To Paris" that added to the loose feel of the night. Crowded House played the Greek Theatre like it was a small intimate club and had a strong connection with the audience. "Don't Dream It's Over" was worth price of admission alone but the evening was perfectly capped with "Better Be Home Soon". As the festivities closed,I wondered why I didn't hit the San Diego and Santa Barbara shows.

Crowded House setlist for the Greek Theatre (8/28/07)
"Something So Strong"
"Say That Again"
"Don’t Stop Now"
"Fall at You Feet"
"English Trees"
"Message Boy"
"Walked Her Way Down"
"Whispers and Moans"
"Silent House"
"Private Universe"
"To Paris"
"Don’t Dream It’s Over"
"Happy Together"
"Pineapple Head"
"Pour Le Monde"
"Locked Out"
"Distant Sun"
"Weather With You"
"World Where You Live"
"Mean to Me"
"Better Be Home Soon"

Monday, August 27, 2007

Matt Costa at the Detroit Bar

When a band makes big they often forget about their roots. Matt Costa is not one of those people. Matt played the Detroit Bar frequently before launching into stardom with his debut album "Songs We Sing". Matt played a surprise show at the Detroit Bar as a warm up to his mini tour supporting Modest Mouse.

Matt previewed some new tracks off of his latest album "Unfamiliar Faces" which is due out on January 15. "Trying to Lose My Mind" was one of those tracks. It was wistful ballad that featured Matt whistling during the breakdown of song. "Mr. Pitiful" opened with a rag time piano riff accompanied by a walking bass line that had the crowd bobbing their heads in unison.

James Fletcher (Drums) was dutifully keeping time and also happens to be the drum for the local pop rockers Satisfaction. Mitchell Townsend (Guitars) was showing off his multi talents on his Custom shop blue Fender Telecaster and had a drool inducing Klon Centaur Overdrive pedal. Matt had a smoking Gibson blue hollowbody guitar that sounded as dynamite as it looks.

"Yellow Taxi" was extremely solid with excellent lap steel guitar work by Mitchell. Matt was switching between his acoustic and electric guitars all night with some harmonica mixed into the songs as well as handling the keyboards(Nord Electro) for a tune. "Cigarette Eyes" was another new foot stomping song with a jangly guitar riff. "Sweet Rose" had a more pronounced country vibe with a shuffling drum beat and fingerpicking guitar work. Matt divulged that "Sweet Thursday" was partially inspired by John Steinbeck's Canary Row. "Miss Magnolia" featured some killer mandolin and topped off with a ripping harmonica solo. The new songs were very impressive and I will see you at the record shop on January 15.

Helmet at the Detroit Bar

I couldn't believe the bulletin from the Detroit Bar when it hit my inbox. It stated Helmet was going to play a special warm up show prior to their Midwest swing of tour dates. One of my favorite bands playing minutes from my house. I made sure I had the day off of work to prepare myself for this event. I was also fortunate enough to sit down and interview Page Hamilton about Helmet's involvement with the new movie Tatua and the crushing new Helmet track "Revenge Destroys Everything".

As if Helmet wasn't good enough, Fluf was selected as the opening band. I last caught Fluf when they opened for the Muffs at the Detroit Bar a number of years ago. If anybody goes to more concerts then me, it would be Otis (Guitars/Vocals) from Fluf. I recently spotted him at Great Northern at the Belly Up show and Strung Out at the House of Blues San Diego. He recorded Blink-182's first album and is a fixture of the San Diego scene. Fluf's sound is a blend of Jawbreaker with detuned guitars and a sprinkle of metal influences. O was playing a custom Fender guitars into a Fender Pro Sonic amp for a wall of sound. I have seen a lot of Fender guitars played on stage but O gets the award for having the heaviest Fender Guitar tone in a live setting. Josh Higgins had a suave looking Fender Jaguar Bass that was overshadowed by the Custom Truth Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Drum kit played by Brad Davis. They blazed through a nice 45 minute career spanning set that reminded me how hard Fluf rocked. They will be playing the Scene in Glendale in a few weeks.

Helmet was up next and cut to the chase with a blistering version of "Exactly What You Wanted". Page Hamilton(Vocals/Guitars) was employing his trusty trademark ESP Guitar and VHT amplifiers. Jimmy Thompson did an admirable job on rhythm guitars with his ESP guitar and VHT amplifiers. Jon Fuller was rocking so hard on bass he broke a string which is quite the feat to accomplish. Kyle Thompson's drumming was so loud it almost overshadowed Page's amazing guitar tone. "Crashing Foreign Cars" sounded like the car crash as Page screamed 'Know I Only Crash This Car". The next song off of the album Size Matters "See You Dead" was a rock solid selection. "Ironhead" is one of my favorite tracks from In The Meantime and sounded like the original. The Detroit Bar was full and the crowd was having a great time with one female fan having a bit too much fun trying to get on stage. She did finally succeed and made a request for "Pure" off of Aftertaste that was fulfilled by the band. Page's in between song banter seemed like a stand up routine that had a lot of fans laughing before going back into punishing the audience with some brutal riffs. "Revenge Destroys Everything" was fantastic and so loud that I had to check my ears for blood. The band was in high gear and eventually blew a fuse for one of the house amplifiers that led to an instrumental version of "Driving Nowhere" with vocals provided by the audience. Page mentioned they blew the house system one other time at a club in New York. The blow out in the system seemed to anger the band, which sometimes works to the advantage of the crowd as the band performed a devastating version of "Turned Out" that made my neck sore from headbanging. I would have liked to have heard "In The Meantime" but I couldn't have asked for a more perfect setlist. Check back soon for my interview with Page Hamilton.

Helmet setlist for the Detroit Bar (8/22/07)
"Exactly What You Wanted"
"Crashing Foreign Cars"
"See You Dead"
"Swallowing Everything"
"Revenge Destroys Everything"
"Just Another Victim"
"Driving Nowhere (Instrumental)"
"Wilma's Rainbow"
"Turned Out"

Mezzanine Owls at the Prospector

After catching dinner at Taiko with some friends I ventured down to the Prospector in Long Beach to catch Mezzanine Owls as they were setting up their gear. It was Pull Your Pants Up night at the Prospector which usually features three to four upcoming indie rock bands for a low price ($3 on this night) on Tuesday nights.

What haven't I said about the Mezzanine Owls? They write catchy songs that come off as a fuzzier Pavement assuming Pavement played straight ahead songs with a tip of the hat to the shoegazer heroes of the past. "Moving Ground" was the first tune they played as Jonathan Zeitlin (Guitars/Vocals) added some tones from his Korg MS2000. "Lightbulb" was fantastic as my eardrums were rattling when Jack Burns (Guitars/Vocals) was screaming the refrain of "Can't you see It sucks the life right out of me!". The dreamy reverb and combination of metallic slide guitar work of "Wake Up" haunts you as Pauline Mu (Drums) goes into a cymbal smashing frenzy. They also played a few new songs that show even more promise when they release their sophomore album. I just ask that they release an EP soon to hold me over. They will be playing on September 13th at the Troubadour with the Brunettes and Ferraby Lionheart so go check it out before they become too huge.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Blonde Redhead at the Glass House

In order to break up the drive out to the Glass House in Pomona, I stopped by Disneyland to find out it was Bats Day. Bats Day is when a bunch of goths, industrial kids and parents walk around the park dressed in black. It must have been really hot to walk around in black clothes all day in the sun. It was not nearly as hot as Blonde Redhead's performance though.

Midnight Movies opened again for Blonde Redhead and was well received by the audience. I don't think I have ever seen a band headline a show on one night and then see them the next day as an opener for another band. Congratulations to Midnight Movies for earning that rare distinction. Midnight Movies played a similar set as they did the previous night. I forgot to mention they closed their set with "Parallel Paramour" that quickly morphs into "Wild Thing". I did spot Kazu Makino from Blonde Redhead off to the side of the stage observing the Midnight Movies set.

I think the last time I saw the Glass House as packed as it was on this particular night is when Ladytron played. I had secured a good spot up front and was ready to take in Blonde Redhead's best performance of the weekend. Kazu Makino(Vocals/Guitars) was downright intoxicating as she strummed the opening chords of "Dr. Strangeluv". She was whipping her hair around even more compared to the Sunset Junction performance and was frequently smiling. Kazu even made the comment about how they loved to play in Pomona. Amedeo Pace (Guitars/Vocals) was equally arresting toying with his assortment of boutique pedals. Amedeo's pedal board had some interesting stuff on it which included an Electro Harmonix Holier Grail Reverb and an Eventide Time Factor. These pedals are the building blocks of Blonde Redhead's outer worldly sounds. Kazu did a splendid job behind her Nord Electro keyboard as she pounded out the piano riff for "SW". When she wasn't behind the keyboard she was playing her white Gibson SG. Simone Pace did his usual stellar drumming job functioning as the glue that holds the delicate songs together. Some of the highlight songs included "Top Ranking", "Melody" and "Failing Man". The set was the quickest ninety minutes of my life. I only ask you do two things. Buy "23" from Blonde Redhead and buy yourself a ticket to see them at the Wiltern on Oct 25th with Autolux.

Blonde Redhead Pedalboard

Blonde Redhead Setlist for the Glass House (8/19/07)
"Dr. Strangeluv"
"Spring and By Summer Fall"
"Falling Man"
"The Dress"
"In Particular"
"We are a Real Team(Harry and I)"
"Melody of Certain Three"
"Top Ranking"

Midnight Movies and Gliss at the Detroit Bar

I was worried about missing Gliss and Midnight Movies as I waded amongst the masses after Blonde Redhead's electrifying set at Sunset Junction. I double timed it from Silverlake down to Costa Mesa just in time to catch a few songs of The Minor Canon.

Minor Canon

The Minor Canon had the stage packed with various instruments and members. I have been meaning to check them out for some time. Paul Larson (Vocals/Guitars) was in Strictly Ballroom and contributed guitars to the Dntel album "Dumb Luck". The Minor Canon is not an electronic outfit though and has an indie orchestral rock vibe. I didn't catch the whole set but was super impressed with their closing Pavement cover of "In The Mouth of a Desert" with bonus points for the call and response vocals. Their album "No Good Deed Goes Unpunished" is available on itunes or you can order directly from the band via Paypal.


Gliss was up next and played their back alley garage rock tunes with fiery abandon. They opened with "Kissing The Blvd" with Martin Klingman drumming away adding his raspy whisper vocals. David Reiss was all over the stage thrashing his Les Paul in an effort to break a string so he could play his shiny new Gibson 330. Gliss then launched into the catchy "Make Believe" with a searing guitar line grinding against a wobbly keyboard groove. Victoria Cecilia was holding down the low end with her Fender Precision bass when she wasn't drumming away. Their album "Love The Virgins" will be released fairly soon and I recommend you pick it up. They will be touring with the like minded and sounding Raveonettes for an East coast swing.

Midnight Movies

Midnight Movies continue to tighten their live set. It was nice to see them headline their own show at the Detroit Bar. They showcased their psychedelic swirling indie rock. Gena Olivier (Keyboards/Drums/Vocals) triggered some spooky organ tones from her Korg MS2000 for the opening of "Patient Eye". Larry Schemel was doing an outstanding job on his Fender Telecaster using his Electro Harmonix Line Booster to get some smooth overdriven fuzzy tones. Ryan Wood mans the keyboards and will bust out his Fender Jaguar on a couple of tunes. He also as a small blue home made synth generator that he uses to add some textures to the songs. Gena displayed some of her drumming skils during "Should've Known" to give the song a tribal feel. "Strange Design" is one of my favorite Midnight Movies songs as it starts with a catchy bassline augmented with percolating synths that is featured on their self titled debut album. As the night ended, I was glad I would get another dose of Midnight Movies and Blonde Redhead on Sunday in Pomona.

Midnight Movies setlist for the Detroit Bar (8/18/2007)
"Patient Eye"
"Two Years"
"Should've Known"
"Strange Design"
"Lion Song"
"Parallel Paramour"

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Autolux and Blonde Redhead at Sunset Junction

"Sunset Dysfunction" was the term I overheard while maneuvering amongst the masses on Saturday. After waiting for 20 minutes for a shuttle that never arrived, I opted to walk the 13 blocks in the heat to get a decent spot as Autolux was soundchecking their gear. I was planning on going early but was zonked from the drive back from San Diego.

Autolux was having problems with their monitors before their set and were continually going over to the sound guy to have adjustments made. Whatever they said, it worked. I was impressed with the speaker system and thought the band sounded great as they broke into "The Science of Imaginary Solutions". As a point of reference, I was about 8 people back directly in line with the speakers. I would imagine it might have sounded muddier in the back. The other positive note is that people in my area were either too tired to talk or they were actually fans of the band and were respectfully quiet which is unusual for festival type concerts. Greg Edwards (Guitars) added a lot of extra harmonics and flourishes to some of the songs. "Plantlife" stood out in terms of having some extra squawks and squalls. The PA system did cut out briefly during two parts of the show but sounded fairly good from my vantage point. Eugene Goreshter did manage to greet the audience with a "Welcome to our Soundcheck". Greg did debut a new shiny Gibson SG that was probably in some altered tuning compared to his other Silver 3 pickup Gibson SG. A solid performance overall that was well received.
Autolux Setlist for Sunset Junction (8/18/2007)
"The Science of Imaginary Solutions"
"Finders Fee"
"Subzero Fun"
"Capital Kind Of Strain"
"Turnstile Blues"

My friends made the fatal error of leaving to get some food after Autolux finished their set. I figured if I had come all this way to enjoy Autolux and Blonde Redhead that I was moving closer to the stage not farther away. After a prolonged change over, Blonde Redhead gave a performance that was compelling and wrought with emotion. Kazu Mazino was the center of attention with her hair whipping around as she passionately strummed her Gibson SG. The opening piano chords of "23" wrang out which sound like the beginning of an old Smiths song but quickly morphs into a hypnotic jam. "Falling Man" was superb with Amedeo adding urgency to the song and conveying his lyrics extremely well as he played his Gibson Les Paul Jr. through his Hiwatt Amp. They ended their stunning set with "We are a Real Team(Harry and I)" which is available as an itunes bonus track when you download the whole album. The genius thing is that you have a second chance to catch Autolux and Blonde Redhead together at the Wiltern on October 25th. If Asobi Seksu could also be thrown on the bill, it would be sonic heaven.

Blonde Redhead setlist at Sunset Junction (8/18/07)
"Dr. Strangeluv"
"Spring and By Summer Fall"
"Falling Man"
"The Dress"
"Melody of Certain Three"
"In Particular"
"We are a Real Team(Harry and I)"