Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Silversun Pickups at Fingerprints Records

I honestly thought I would never see the Silversun Pickups at Fingerprints Records again like I did in December of 2006. It was National Record Store day on April 19th and I was fortunate enough to get a wrist band to catch a special performance from the Silversun Pickups. I also was stoked to pick up the limited edition Stephen Malkmus "Cold Sun" vinyl that had the bonus tracks of "Walk Into The Mirror", "Pennywhistle Thunder", "Carl The Clod".

I was surprised when I saw Joe Lester(Keyboards) set up his keyboards and sampler along with Christopher Guanlao (Drums) as it was a full band performance compared to Brian Aubert (Vocals/Guitars) playing a solo set with an acoustic guitar. "Well Thought Out Twinkles" started their set and Joe's synthesizers were prominent in the mix which was nice to hear as Brian's guitars are usually brought to the forefront. Brian was strumming his Fender acoustic as Nikki Monninger (Bass) had her white Gibson Thunderbird bass quietly humming along. Brian thanked everyone for coming out and told the audience if they bought one hundred dollars of music that they would have one hundred dollars of excellent music since it was purchased at Fingerprints and that they would be supporting the local record store.

"Future Foe Scenarios" had Joe's percolating synthesizers bubbling underneath Brian's percussive strumming. I was not amazed at how good the band sounded because behind all the synthesizers and roaring guitars are well written songs that hold up in the acoustic format. Brian rightfully plugged the Movies before Nikki went into "Creation Lake". They continued to visit their album "Pikul" as they played "Kissing Families". Brian was strumming his guitar so hard during "Lazy Eye" that his guitar pickup came loose and added some interesting feedback to close out the song. Brian fixed his guitar sound while Christopher did an extended drum intro into "Common Reactor". They unsuccessfully tried to thank the audience and walk off stage but the crowd demanded an encore. "Comeback Kid" was a fitting closer to the night and the song seemed to have been sped up as Brian was playing his acoustic guitar like it was an electric. I was extremely thankful for record stores at this point.

Silversun Pickups setlist at Fingerprints Records (4/19/2008)
"Well Thought Out Twinkles"
"Rusted Wheel"
"Future Foe Scenarios"
"Creation Lake"
"Kissing Families"
"Lazy Eye"
"Common Reactor"
"Comeback Kid"

Helmet at the Key Club in Hollywood

My mind had barely recovered as I pulled up to the Key Club in Hollywood. The blinking marquee flashed Helmet with the iconic "Meantime" cover in the background and I couldn't wait to hear the whole album from start to finish.


Taxi impressed the Key Club crowd early with their double bass assault. I had a tough time finding their Myspace page but didn't have a hard time enjoying their fierce songs. It was part Fu Manchu and part Queens of The Stone Age mixed with the rawness of Nirvana. The mixing of a Rickenbacker bass and a Gibson Thunderbird bass worked well as one handled the high notes and the other obliterated the low notes. I will admit I am a sucker for two bass bands such as Ned's Atomic Dustbin and Cop Shoot Cop. The gentlemen of Taxi didn't have much on stage banter and let the songs do the talking. It was the quickest opening set in that I wish they could have played longer.

Fireball Ministry

"More Cowbell!" was not heard from the crowd as Fireball Ministry dished out another dose of head banging rock and metal that was befitting of the Sunset strip. Johny Chow (Bass) was ruling on the bass as thumb was firmly anchored on the bass pickup as he plucked away on his bass strings. Emily Burton (Guitars) had her usual share of guys in front of her cheering her on as her hair flailed in unison with her earth shaking riffs. Fireball Ministry smoked through a similar set as the night before and reaped the benefits of a better audio mix at the Key Club.

Mondo Generator

Nick Oliveri (Bass/Vocals) led Mondo Generator through another raucous set that was similar to their San Diego Show. I forgot to mention that Hoss (Drums) does a fine job of cranking the engine of Mondo Generator on some of their faster punk laced tunes. Nick had some problems with microphone midway through the set that forced him to come over to Ian's side and sing. This technical difficultly didn't slow down their momentum as they played such tracks as "F.Y. I'm Free" , "Gonna Leave You" and "Basket Case". Mondo Generator's latest album is "Dead Planet" and hopefully they will be back on the tour circuit again soon.


"Swallowing Everything" was launched into a false start as Page Hamilton's (Guitars/Vocals) microphone was not working and the band restarted the track. The band didn't look back at all as they blazed through a few songs before diving into "Meantime". "Birth Defect" was insane and performed way faster compared to the recorded version as it seemed the band members were trying to out race each other. Kyle Stevenson (Drums) furiously crushed his drums for the freight train opening of "In The Meantime" and I knew from this point that the show would be one I wouldn't forget. Page was screaming like it was 1992 as the guitars roared. The band didn't even stop for the pull off hammer on guitar riff of "Ironhead". "Unsung" garnered a large number of cheers from the audience as Dan Beeman (Guitars) did a fine job keeping up with Page. The Key Club had the sound dialed in and a few pits spontaneously broke out. "Turned Out" was vicious as Page dived into a perfectly oblique noise filled guitar solo as the band chugged along in the background. The vile in Page's voice for "He Feels Bad" gave the song a darker edge. "Better" is one of my favorite riffs from the album and the song was flawless as Helmet was running at top speed. "FBLA II" pleased the hardcore Helmet fans in the audience as it is another gem in the catalog that has rarely been played live. Kyle also got huge points for sticking the drum breakdown for "FBLA II". The encore of "Tic", "Wilma's Rainbow" and "Milquetoast" capped another memorable performance from Helmet.

Helmet setlist at the Key Club in Hollywood (4/19/2008)
"Swallowing Everything"
"See You Dead"
"Birth Defect"
"In the Meantime"
"Give It"
"Turned Out"
"He Feels Bad"
"You Borrowed"
"Role Model"
"Wilma's Rainbow"

Helmet at Canes

Helmet is one of the few bands that has the authority to immediately clear my concert calendar. Helmet was playing a few warm dates prior to their departure for a quick Australian tour. I was blown away by the ensuing setlist from Helmet that made this one of my more memorable Helmet shows.


Fluf rocks. If you don't believe me, check out their myspace address. I last caught up with Fluf when they played ironically enough with Helmet at the Detroit Bar. Fluf is a guaranteed good time with detuned rock gems that are tightly spun and well crafted. Brad Davis (Drums) was still proudly sporting his Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle drum kit as he pounded away during "She's Scorpio". Otis (Guitars/Vocals) unleashed his sludgy riffs via his custom shop Fender Stratocaster. "Hang Out" was prefaced by Otis saying he wrote the song when he was 110lbs heavier. The crushing riff of "Peanut Butter" was as chunky as it sounds with Josh Higgins holding down the low end with his Fender Jaguar bass. I was secretly hoping for one of my favorite Fluf songs "Lobster Tree" but was still glad to see them up on stage having a ton of fun.

Fireball Ministry

When I saw a cowbell set up with a kick drum foot pedal, I knew I was in for a treat. Fireball Ministry kept the detuned trend going as they unfurled their scorching brand of metal and rock. James Rota II (Vocals/Guitars) preaches the metal gospel with his blue Dean guitar. Johny Chow (Bass) was head banging away as they plowed through "Sundown". Emily Burton (Guitars) had the guys in front of her throwing up the devil horns as she blew them away with her dagger sharp riffs. "The Broken" was another metal romp that had John Oreshnick (Drums) stomp on his drum kick pedal to trigger the opening cowbell notes. "King" was outstanding with its interweaving guitar lines and propulsive beat. I was glad I would be catching them the next night at the Key Club.

Mondo Generator

I was excited to see Mondo Generator because I have long been a fan of Queens of the Stone Age and remember seeing them in the early days at the Troubadour. Nick Oliveri (Bass/Vocals) has a fierce bass tone that was the backbone of the early Queens of the Stone Age albums let alone his engaging stage performance. "Ode To Clarissa" was a song I remember from the early days and sounded sharp as ever as Nick was beating his Fender Bass. "Basket Case" from their latest album "Dead Planet" had the ferocity of a punk tune as it wrapped up in less than two minutes. "Shawnette" from their first album "Cocaine Rodeo" sounds disjointed and methodically meanders but still manages to hit you over the head. "Lie Detector" sounds like a vintage Queens of the Stone Age song with its blasts of guitars and rapid tempo changes. They sufficiently warmed up the crowd for the onslaught of Helmet.


My metal loving brother and I had a discussion of which Helmet album we liked better, "Aftertaste" or "Meantime". I had to side with "Meantime", but thought "Aftertaste" was not too far behind. "Pure" knocked me off my feet as I hadn't heard the song in years. "Renovation" had my jaw drop as I quickly figured out that they were going to play the entire "Aftertaste" album. Dan Beeman (Guitars) is the newest member of Helmet and blended in with his Gibson Les Paul and Marshall stack. Page Hamilton (Guitars/Vocals) had his custom ESP signature brand firing on all cylinders through his VHT stack. The guitar riff from "Exactly What You Wanted" is pure drop D bliss as it constantly changes before going berserk at the one minute mark. Jon Fuller (Bass) nailed the opening bass riff for "Like I Care" as Kyle Thompson (Drums) led the cymbal smashing assault on his drum kit. "Diet Aftertaste" is another pushing and pulling guitar riff that was ferocious and Jon again added the trademark bass flurry at the exact right moments. The song was capped with a vicious Page Hamilton solo. "Harmless" was unrelenting as the stop and start guitar riffs sanded your eardrums. I can't tell you the number of times I have dialed up the volume on my amp and played "Insatiable" and "Crisis King" back to back as it is the perfect way to close out the album. I was satisfied hearing the whole album but Helmet came back to finish off the audience with a four song encore of "Give It", "Milquetoast", "Wilma's Rainbow" and "In The Meantime". I heard rumors that they would play the entire album "Meantime" the next night at the Key Club as was shaking my head thinking I would hear two of my favorite albums back to back performed in their entirety.

Helmet setlist at Canes (4/17/08)
"Exactly What You Wanted"
"Like I Care"
"Driving Nowhere"
"Birth Defect"
"Broadcast Emotion"
"It's Easy To Get Bored"
"Diet Aftertaste"
"(High) Visibility"
"Crisis King"
"Give It"
"Wilma's Rainbow"
"In The Meantime"

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Sweet Relief Benefit at the Echo

Benefit shows can be hit or miss but the line up of Karin Tatoyan, Afternoons, The Franks, and The Pity Party was a hit. The show was a benefit for the Sweet Relief Organization which provides financial assistance to musicians with illness, disability and age-related problems.

Karin Tatoyan

Karin Tatoyan raised many eyebrows when I saw her Spaceland show opening for the Pity Party. Karin's voice is distinctive and attention grabbing as she is backed by an extremely capable band that mixes various ingredients of French horn, Cello, electronic glitches and ethereal keyboards. The comparisons to Bjork's voice will be referenced throughout her career but on this particular night I also heard some influence of Dolores O'Riordan from the Cranberries. "Someday I Will Inform You" started off the evening with a slow ember burning build of musical sounds as Karin commands your attention with her voice. "Fit In" is hypnotic with its psychosis fueled piano keys. I also enjoyed a portion of the show that had Karin sing into the pickup of the cello as it was sampled and played back. I envision her show at the Wiltern with a larger backing band in the near future.

The Franks

The Franks seemed really familiar to me for some reason and I couldn't put my finger on it for some reason. I later realized that The Franks are led by Colin Stutz (Vocals/Guitars) who I met at a Beck secret show a few years ago. Colin wanted a photo of my Beck setlist for his article for Filter magazine. It was funny to see Colin on TV later on as part of the "I'm From Rolling Stone" reality show. Colin now fronts the rambling garage rock of The Franks. The songs didn't last past a few minutes and came in rapid fire. They were not necessarily tight, but I think that was the point. It was a sloppy fun filled set.


Irving unfortunately has split up since Alex Church went on to form Sea Wolf. The rest of Irving have moved on to start the Afternoons. I was eager to check out the Afternoons since I really enjoyed all of Irving's material. The Afternoons delivered a sparkling set that strayed only slightly from the musical styles of Irving. A propulsive bass riff kicked off "Graffiti Artist" as the jangling guitars glided into place. My ears were already perked when a trumpet sounded to fill out their sound. Brian Canning and Steven Scott handled the guitars and vocals with Claire Mckeown adding another layer of opera like vocals. The Afternoons only have four songs on their Myspace page but I assume they will have some more material in time for their Spaceland residency in June. It won't take long for the Afternoons to reconstitute the buzz they had with Irving and propel them to greater heights.

The Pity Party

The Pity Party continues to rock my world. M (Guitars/Vocals) and Heisenflei (Drums/Vocals) are embarking on a mini tour of the UK so I figured I would catch their show before NME gets wind of their fiery live act and puts them on the cover of their magazine. "Every A.M." has been their trademark opening song that melted in a barrage of feedback by M as they segued into the drum machine beat of "The Natural Want". The crackling feedback continued to snarl as "Yr Life=Nice" taxed the speaker cones of the house system. "Love Lies" is as warm and fuzzy as it sounds in a bizarre Pity Party fashion as the guitars and drums are mashed together. I still can't put my finger on why I like "HOTS" so much but I think it lies somewhere in the drum beat and the multitude of tempo changes. The Pity Party don't have anymore Los Angeles dates scheduled anytime soon, but I recommend all my UK readers do whatever they can to see one of Los Angeles's finest bands.