Monday, September 29, 2008

Eagles of Death Metal and The Hives at the Grove of Anaheim

I think the picture above of Jessie "The Devil" Hughes (Vocals/Guitars) is a good summation of how I would rate this particular show. It was too much rock for one hand. The dynamic combination of The Hives and Eagles of Death Metal touched on almost every single rock concert cliche as they demolished the Grove of Anaheim.

The Willowz

The Willowz had a large contingent of family members in the audience since they hail from Anaheim. Chautauqua is their latest release on Dim Mak records and is filled with hard driving fuzzy guitar rock. William-Lewis Mclaren (Guitars) and Jessica Anne Reynoza (Bass) were staunch Fender supporters with their Mustang guitar and bass, respectively.

Richie James Follin (Vocals/Guitar) seemed to be having a good time on stage throwing water bottles out into the crowd and would later throw out colored skulls. The Willowz mined the same sonic vein as The White Stripes and Kings of Leon. "Dead Ears" was the song that specifically recalled Jack White's vocal delivery. They also mixed up their sound with some organ sounds from their Nord Electro 2.

Eagles of Death Metal

If you can't have fun at an Eagles of Death Metal concert then something is wrong with you. I thought the Eagles of Death Metal almost stole the show at the OC Fair when they opened for Queens of the Stone Age. The Eagles of Death Metal are gearing up for the release of their new album Heart On that is due out on October 21.

Eagles of Death Metal quickly had the audience shaking their hips with the gyrating gem "Don't Speak (I Came to Make A Bang)". Josh Homme was absent from the drum kit, but Joey Castillo (Drums) showed he could chew gum and play drums at the same time. "Kiss The Devil" had Jessie working both ends of the stage, as the smile on his face was as wide as his mustache. The lo-fi guitar roar of "Bad Drama Mama" was intoxicating as Jessie was wailing on his shiny Yamaha custom guitar.

Dave Catching (Guitar) had his Gibson Flying "V" backing up Jessie's slashing guitar chords to round out the sound. Joey worked a little bit of cowbell into "English Girls" that garnered the requisite chants of "More Cowbell" from the crowd. The slow cooking intro to "Wannabe In LA" demonstrated a nice change of pace before unfurling into a fuzzy octave screaming solo. "I Want You So Hard (Boys Bad News)" and "Speaking In Tongues" brought the house down as they had all the ladies screaming for more and all the guys hoisting their beers in approval. The Eagles absolutely soared high on this particular night.

The Hives

The Hives had to bring their "A" game in order to equal the energy from the Eagles of Death Metal. The Black and White Album is the latest album from the Hives and features the same break neck paced tunes laced with rapid fire drumming and pulsating power chords. I was tempted to pick up one of their shirts that listed the names of all the band members in a style like fellow countrymen Peter, Bjorn & John.

A large red sign emblazoned with The Hives lit up as they appeared on stage. "Hey Little World" was faster and ferocious live as the Hives ripped through the song. It was difficult to photograph Howlin' Pelle Almqvist (Vocals) as he was running frantically across the stage. The Hives looked and sounded sharp as they were decked out in their matching black suits. I would also like to point out they had custom Hiwatt gear that had each of their names on the speaker cabinets.

"Main Offender" reminded me that I need to dust off my skills on Rock Band as Nicholaus Arson (Guitars) was destroying his Fender Telecaster. Chris Dangerous (Drums) upped the ante by turning in a smoking performance on the drums literally and figuratively as a cigarette dangled from his lips. I was stoked they played "Outsmarted" as it barely clocked in over 2 minutes. One of the funnier moments of the show was when the entire band literally froze in place for a couple of minutes before tearing back into the song. "Hate To Say I Told You So" and "Tick Tick Boom" closed out the evening on a high note as the Hives took a bow. I think the Hives covered every single power chord in the book.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Tokyo Police Club at the Detroit Bar

A whole lot of shows were going on Wednesday. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Spiritualized, and Cat Power were at the Hollywood Bowl and MGMT was at the Henry Fonda Theater. I didn't hear about MGMT but I heard Nick Cave was epic. I opted for my own epic show with We Barbarians, The Whigs and Tokyo Police Club at the cozy Detroit Bar.

We Barbarians

It has been almost a year since We Barbarians hit the scene opening for the Delta Spirit at the Detroit Bar. I have practically worn out my copy of their debut EP "In The Doldrums" and was excited to see they posted a few new tracks on their myspace page along with the news that a full length album is due in December.

The crowd had started to file in as We Barbarians constructed a solid set featuring a few new tracks that hopefully will be on their new album. The sullen organ notes of "Yesmen and Bumsuckers" gave way to some ambient guitar notes as Davey Quon (Guitars/Vocals/Keyboards) switched back and forth between the instruments. Nathan Warkentin (Drums) and Derek Van Heule locked down the rhythm section to give Davey space to float his textural guitar arrangements on top of their songs. "Sixes and Sevens" starts with a volume swell of reverb guitar before Nathan comes in with a tight drum shuffle. We Barbarians will be back at the Troubadour with Mando Diao on November 3rd.

The Whigs

The Whigs rocked the Detroit Bar like their life depended on it. An explosive trio hailing from Georgia, The Whigs had nothing left on the stage as they were sweat drenched two songs deep into their set. "Mission Control" served as a slow cooking introduction to the band as Parker Gispert (Guitars/Vocals) strummed his Gibson hollowbody guitar. The floor started to shake courtesy of Julian Dorio (Drums) as he pummeled his drum kit for "Like A Vibration" and the Whigs started to unleash their rock fury on the unsuspecting Detroit Bar audience.

The jangling guitars of "Hot Bed" immediately triggered mass foot tapping as the Whigs were already hitting their stride. Tim Deaux (Bass) was adding background harmonies and a heart thumping bass line via his Gibson SG bass. The Whigs imbibe the essence of southern rock but assault it with a ferocity that I haven't seen in awhile. Vocal harmonies rained down once more for the southern fried "Production City". Parker kept the momentum alive with a rambling version "Right Hand On My Heart". It was impressive to see a trio conjure this much noise as each member was vital to their collective sound. The Whigs will be back in October with the Kooks playing the House of Blues Anaheim on the 27th and the Hollywood Palladium on the 28th. I probably will be at both shows.

Tokyo Police Club

I had mentioned in a prior review of We Barbarians that I will probably like your band if you play a Gibson Ripper bass. When Dave Monks (Bass/Vocals) approached the microphone with his own Gibson Ripper bass, it only took a few notes for me to be sold. Tokyo Police Club strategically mixes elements of Jawbreaker, Weezer and the Rentals for bash and pop caffeine fueled songs.

Graham Wright (Keyboards) was primarily anchored to his Alesis Micron keyboard frantically whipping up ascending or descending synth lines to the fast paced rock tunes. A twenty song setlist blazed by in 55 minutes as they raced through their tunes. "Box" kicked off their blazing set as Josh Hook (Guitars) worked in some colorful guitar squalls to racing bass line.
"Graves" had the requisite "oohs and aahs" hovering around the bursts of tremolo guitars. Elephant Shell is the latest release from Tokyo Police Club and clocks in at the 28 minute mark. The brevity of the album actually helps the band as it is very easy to hit the repeat button. I will admit I was suckered in by the combination of the Alesis Micron and strategic guitars of Josh.

"Your English Is Good" had people breaking out the dance moves and I even spotted a mini mosh pit. I wasn't surprised they covered The Rentals "Friends of P."."Tessellate" reminded me of an upbeat song from The Promise Ring. Tokyo Police Club capped their set with a number of selections from A Lesson In Crime and strongly closed the evening with "Be Good". Tokyo Police Club will head out with Angels & Airwaves as the openers for Weezer. I hope to catch either the Forum show on 10/17 or the Cox Arena show in San Diego on 10/17.

Tokyo Police Club pedalboard

Tokyo Police Club setlist at the Detroit Bar
"In A Cave"
"If It Works"
"Sixties Remake"
"Your English Is Good"
"New New Song"
"La Ferrassie"
"Cut Cut Paste"
"Friends of P."
"Nursery, Academy"
"Citizens Of Tomorrow"
"Shoulders & Arms"
"The Harrowing Adventures Of..."
"Nature Of The Experiment"
"Be Good"

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Monday, September 22, 2008

Pigeon Detectives and Lemon Sun at Spaceland

A balmy Saturday night was the setting for a trio of divergent bands to grace the stage at Spaceland. I seem to keep missing Lemon Sun who have been playing the local circuit for quite some time. I was also curious about The Pigeon Detectives who have a large fanbase in the UK.

Free Lions

Free Lions unassuming took to the stage and announced they were happy to be at Spaceland. A curious two guitar setup with drums and two alternating singers. This unique arrangement was indicative of their melodic space tinged pop songs. Calvin (Guitars) had an Epiphone hollowbody guitar that howled when used an ebow to start off one of their songs. They have about 1056 profile views on their Myspace page and currently are working on an EP . Free Lions will be playing the Detroit Bar on October 14 as part of the free local band Tuesday showcase.

Lemon Sun

It clear that Lemon Sun came out of the gates with something to prove. An assortment of people started to shake and dance their way to the front of the stage which only gave the band more energy. "Congratulate Our Thievery" sizzled with an overdriven opening guitar line and hard thumping bass. It also didn't take long for the vocal harmonies and keyboards to nuzzle their way into the mix. A hard driving drumbeat combined with another weaving overdriven guitar line entitled "Run With The Faithless" raised the temperature a few notches. "The Thrill" slowed down things for a bit as the guitars went back and forth between clean and lightly distorted tones. Lemon Sun quickly ran out of time and the cheers for another encore were dashed when the house music went up. I potentially see a residency in their future.

Pigeon Detectives

The Pigeon Detectives seemed confined by the smaller stage as Matt Bowman (Vocals) furiously paced the stage back and forth. "This Is An Emergency" was their opening track that musically fell in the same vein as Arctic Monkeys and The Strokes. The Pigeon Detectives are signed to Dance To The Radio records which is founded by the guitarist from Forward Russia who is also from Leeds. High profile shows with The Kaiser Chiefs and Kasabian have significantly raised their profile, but they have yet to release any material here in the states.

"Take Her Back" had a punk swagger to the tune that reminded me of the Swingin Utters as Matt grabbed a girl from the audience and proceeded to sing to her. My initial thoughts of how they sounded like The Strokes came to mind again during "Everybody Wants Me" as the guitar melody was oddly familiar. "I'm Not Sorry" was fast and furious as Jimmi Naylor (Drums) pumped out the four on the floor beat and constant hi-hat shuffle. The Pigeon Detectives are currently embarking on a large European tour and it will be interesting to see if they try to make a big push here in the States.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Deftones at Spaceland

The Deftones at Spaceland was genius. One new song, a ton of old school Deftones songs, rabid fans, moshing, crowd surfing, people hanging from the rafters. "Melanie" was a new song debut that was stunning. It was a mixture of all the trademark sounds of the Deftones with a bizarre time signature that bordered on math metal. Spaceland needs to book more metal shows. It was chaos.

Deftones setlist at Spaceland (9/18/08)
"My Own Summer"
"Around The Fur"
"Hole In The Earth"
"Melanie" (New song)
"Knife Party"
"Change (In the House of Flies)"
"7 Words"
"Digital Bath"
"Be Quiet And Drive"
"Head Up"

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Airborne Toxic Event and The Fratellis at the House of Blues Anaheim

The Fratellis

The Airborne Toxic Event

Check out my review of The Airborne Toxic Event and The Fratellis for OC Weekly here. The pictorial slideshow is here.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Mogwai at the Wiltern

I went to quite a few shows before starting Amateur Chemist. One particular show I will never forget is seeing Mogwai at the Knitting Factory perform "My Father My King" in its epic ear shattering glory. Mogwai quickly reminded me why I bring earplugs to shows as they turned it up to eleven.

F*ck Buttons

F*ck Buttons really impressed me earlier this year when I saw them with Caribou at the El Rey theater. Street Horrrsing is fifty minute sonic voyage that crosses through multiple post apocalyptic soundscapes. F*ck Buttons consists of Benjamin John Power and Andrew Hung crouched over toy keyboards, a drum machine, an Apple laptop, and various keyboard controllers to create their maelstrom of noise. F*ck Buttons just released Colours Move EP which has a new remix of "Sweet Love For Planet Earth".

"Sweet Love For Planet Earth" played like the calm before the storm as some dark mangled synthesizers roar in the background with dulcimer chimes filling out the sound. Benjamin had the toy microphone in his mouth at a point as he let out some guttural screams. "Ribs Out" was up next as Andrew grabbed his microphone and let out some hallowing screams as Benjamin pummeled his stand alone drum in a tribal beat augmented by him hitting the drum sticks together. "Colours Move" suffocated any conversation in the room as it renders the audience speechless. F*ck Buttons did a superb job of filling the Wiltern with sound and proving that they can play to larger audiences.


I didn't think it would get much louder then F*ck Buttons, but I forgot I was dealing with Mogwai. Batcat is the new EP featuring the title song that builds and implodes with distorted guitars and serves as an appetizer for their new full length album, The Hawk is Howling.

"The Precipice" from the new album opened the evening with Stuart Braithwaite (Guitars) quietly plucking his Gibson Les Paul before the hounds of hell are released in a tidal wave of distortion. Stuart momentarily grabbed a drumstick to bang on the neck of his detuned guitar for some hair rising tones. The mounting tension and build up of the song is methodically calculated. A piano fueled "Friend of The Night" from Mr. Beast momentarily brought the overall volume down as it also ebbed and flowed with the piano riff remaining constant.

Mogwai is predominantly instrumental and the lack of vocals is often wrongly mistaken for a chance for people to speak during the songs. I would like to give you a friendly reminder in concert etiquette that you should not speak during instrumental songs. Mogwai doesn't need vocals to convey their message.

"Thank You Space Expert" was another new track that assaulted your visual senses with a batch of rapid firing strobe lights. A twisted guitar lullaby smartly entitled "Hunted By A Freak" had its icy cold vocoder vocals and mangled organ sounds. Mogwai continued to roll out new songs such as "I'm Jim Morrison, I'm Dead" and "Scotland's Shame" that have to be experienced live in order to fully taken in the washes of guitars. The songs and notes weaved into each other as it was easy to be transported to another place. "We're No Here" though was the sonic highlight of the night that had members of the audience looking at each other in disbelief. I can guarantee that people lost their hearing on this particular night.