Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Lab Report for 2008 (The Year in Review)

2008 has been insane. Thanks to all my readers. Will 2009 have as many good touring acts?

Here are some notes from the lab:

Total number of concerts and reviews for 2008: 199.

Average of seeing a show every 1.8 days.

Total number of reviews for OC Weekly: 29.

Assuming a concert lasts roughly 3.5 hours, I listened to live music for approximately 29 days of the year.

Assuming it takes 3 hours to process photos and write each review, this approximates to 24 days of the year.

Highlight shows throughout the year by month:

January: Foo Fighters at the Troubadour

February: Iron Maiden at the Forum (One of the easiest show reviews to write all year).

March: Holy F*ck, A Place To Bury Strangers and In Waves at Spaceland.

April: Digitalism at the El Rey Theatre

May: Duran Duran at the Nokia Theatre

June: The Presets at the El Rey Theatre

July: Nine Inch Nails Private Rehearsal Show at the Forum (Best Show/Tour of 2008)

August:Radiohead at the Hollywood Bowl Night 2 (8/25/08)

September: Deftones at Spaceland (Best club show of 2008)

October: My Bloody Valentine at the Santa Monica Civic

November: Nine Inch Nails at the House of Blues Atlantic City

December: Oasis at the Staples Center

My soundtrack to 2008 (in listening order):
1. Helio Sequence "Can't Say No"
2. Juliana Hatfield "The Fact Remains"
3. The Morning Benders "Patient Patient"
4. Coldplay "Lovers In Japan"
5. Longwave "Life is Wrong"
6. The Stills "Snow In California"
7. Cut Copy "Far Away"
8. The Presets "If I Know You"
9. Neon Neon "I Told Her On Alderaan"
10. Ladytron "Tomorrow"
11. M83 "Graveyard Girl"
12. Bloc Party "Trojan Horse"
13. Mezzanine Owls "Ghost Ship"
14. Autolux "Audience No. 2"
15. Jubilee "Fuzz Are Down"
16. Nine Inch Nails "Head Down"
17. Torche "Fat Waves"
18. Tweak Bird "Eternal Squaredance"
19. Darker My Love "Two Ways Out"
20. The Pity Party "HOTS"

Favorite photos of 2008:
Chris Urbanowicz of the Editors at the Wiltern
Neon Neon at the Viper Room
The Henry Clay People at the Echo
Robert Smith of The Cure at the Santa Barbara Bowl
Jessie Hughes of Eagles of Death Metal at the Grove Of Anaheim
Eagles of Death Metal at the Grove of Anaheim
Rivers Cuomo of Weezer at the Cox Arena
Page Hamilton of Helmet at the Viper Room (Look for it in the ESP Catalog)
Billy Corgan of the Smashing Pumpkins at UCSD
Kirk Hammett of Metallica at the Forum

Monday, December 22, 2008

Friday, December 19, 2008

Metallica at the Forum

The year was 1986. I was too young to accompany my heavy metal worshipping brother to the Ozzy Osbourne/Metallica concert. My brother had scalped fourth row tickets and was excited to see Metallica with their insanely talented bassist Cliff Burton. Metallica was touring behind Master of Puppets and upstaging Ozzy on a nightly basis.

Another story in relation to Metallica was the hunt for a copy of the Metallica Kill 'em All cd with the two extra tracks of "Am I Evil?" and "Blitzkrieg" that was discontinued after a short run. I would eventually find the cd in New Hampshire after many years. Needless to say, I have been a Metallica fan for some time.

Metallica recently released Death Magnetic that revisits their thrash roots. Two sold out nights at the Forum proved that the legions of Metallica fans are still as strong as ever. Would Metallica still have the same fire they did back in the day?

The Sword

Starting at a criminally early 6:58pm, The Sword unleashed their ferocious doom metal to a sparsely populated crowd at the Forum. Gods of The Earth is a roaring throwback to the good old days of headbanging metal. J. D. Cronise (Vocals/Guitars) was shattering eardrums with his Gibson Explorer running through an Orange and Laney Amplifier for distinctively British metal sound.

The Sword has been opening all of the dates on the Metallica tour and seemed comfortable in the open round setting as J.D. would switch back and forth between available microphone stands. I can't imagine how nervous they must feel opening for Metallica on a huge stage that seperates the band members. The Sword showed no signs of nervousness as they worked through a way too short six song set. Trivett Wingo (Drums) showed some support of the metal scene by wearing a Black Cobra shirt who I recently caught at Spaceland.


Originally I thought Lamb of God was going to be opening for Metallica but Machinehead got the nod instead. My brother thought he overheard that Lamb of God was banned from playing the Forum. It could also be due to the fact that they have songs titled "Walk With Me in Hell" and that the Forum is a church.

Machinehead was spectacular earlier this year when they opened for Hellyeah at the Grove in Anaheim. It wouldn't be far fetched to say Rob Flynn (Vocals/Guitars) was a big fan of Metallica since he hails from the bay area like Metallica. Machinehead also covered Metallica's "Battery" on the special edition of The Blackening.

Machinehead's latest album measures up to some of their earlier material like Burn My Eyes and The More Things Change with a return to their thrash roots. "Clenching The Fists" started of their pummeling set with Rob Flynn using his trusty Gibson Flying V emblazoned with a MH logo on the headstock. Dave McClain (Drums) was perched high above the round stage on a drum riser rocking out on his ddrums.

Machinehead pleased the old school metal fans with their Iron Maiden cover of "Hallowed Be Thy Name" as Phil Demmel (Guitars) and Rob traded off solos. The overall mix was slightly muddy but cleared up after a few songs and was deafening when Machine Head ended their set with a suffocating rendition of "Davidian".


Laser beams capable of cauterizing your optic nerve blasted through the air as Metallica took the stage. The ominous guitar riff of ""That Was Just Your Life" chugged as a flood light illuminated James Hetfield's (Vocals/Guitars) face. An assortment of coffin shaped lights would be lowered close to the stage as Metallica ripped through another new song "The End Of The Line" with Kirk Hammett playing his Dracula ESP Guitar.

The pits started to circle when Metallica dialed back the clocks for the classic thrash of "The Four Horsemen". Metallica seemed extremely tight and the crowd was salivating, ready for the onslaught. The hits kept coming as they ripped through "Ride The Lightning". The testosterone really started to swirl by the time Metallica unleashed "One" on the crowd.

"Broken, Beat And Scarred" and "Cyanide" kept the energy levels high as the crowd was familiar with the new material. I was impressed how well the new songs held up with the older material. James asked the crowd if they were ready for some medium heavy stuff as they lumbered through "Sad But True". "Wherever I May Roam" had Kirk crush his wah pedal for a ridiculously fast guitar solo that justifies his ranking as one of the elite metal guitar shredders.

"Master Of Puppets" was a highlight for me as I felt semi-vindicated for missing the tour all those years ago. The pyro went off during "Fight Fire With Fire" to remind those in attendance that this was a true arena metal show. Kirk added some subtle wah during the opening of "Enter Sandman" that drove the audience crazy. I couldn't help think that "Enter Sandman" has to be one of the top arena metal songs as everyone in the Forum was screaming.

Kirk teased the crowd with a few notes of "Am I Evil?" which prompted Lars to pound out the drums to "Raining Blood" as James and Robert Trujillo (Bass) laughed. Metallica would get down to business by racing through "Breadfan". The old school hits kept coming as they played "Motorbreath" and closed with "Seek and Destroy". It was fitting that they gave out Guitar Hero Metallica t-shirts on my way out of the Forum. After seeing the perfectly executed palm muted power chords and flashy guitar solos, I have better chances of sounding like Metallica in a video game.

Metallica Setlist at the Forum (12/18/08)
"That Was Just Your Life"
"The End Of The Line"
"The Four Horsemen"
"Ride The Lightning"
"Broken, Beat And Scarred"
"Sad But True"
"Wherever I May Roam"
"All Nightmare Long"
"The Day That Never Comes"
"Master Of Puppets"
"Fight Fire With Fire"
"Nothing Else Matters"
"Enter Sandman"
"Am I Evil"/"Raining Blood"(tease)
"Seek and Destroy"

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Nine Inch Nails at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas

It all stated with a private rehearsal show at the Forum. The Nine Inch Nails "Lights In the Sky" tour was a visual and aural assault that made it the best tour of 2008. Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, as the tour closed out at the Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas.

Nine Inch Nails

I still haven't gone through my gigabytes of photos from the open camera policy show in Sacramento and wanted to enjoy the show more by taking a few select shots. I did have a pit ticket (Thanks Mel/Jessie!) and my old trusty point and shoot camera to take a few shots of the evening but mainly focused on enjoying what I thought would be the last Nine Inch Nails show for sometime.

As I mentioned in the Sacramento review, I knew it would be Josh Freese's (Drums) last show but was surprised to hear that Alessandro Cortini (Keyboards/Guitars) would also be departing. Alessandro will be focusing on ModwheelMood (who were outstanding when they opened for Ladytron at the Henry Fonda) and his Buchla ambient project Blindoldfreak.

A whiplash of bass triggered one of my favorite songs "The Great Destroyer" with its incorporation of the Windows Blue Screen of Death that flashes on screen for a few seconds amongst all the other distorted imagery. One of the other highlights of the show include Josh's drumming at the end of "Ghosts Piggy" which served as an abbreviated drum solo to which he received a rapturous applause.

Some of the things I observed being close to the stage was Trent Reznor (Vocals/Guitars) used a piano sustain pedal for his Gibson Hollowbody guitar for the ending of "Echoplex". Trent also would also toggle his pickup switch on "Terrible Lie" for his parts to switch the pickups on and off. The intriguing news coming from the show was Trent's speech that he will be back in 2009 with the band as a four piece playing some dates in the United States. I speculate Trent may perform some of his earlier albums in their entirety before closing the book on Nine Inch Nails. Only time will tell.

Nine Inch Nails setlist for Planet Hollywood In Las Vegas (12/13/08)
"Letting You"
"March Of The Pigs"
"Head Down"
"The Frail"
"Gave Up"
"The Warning"
"The Great Destroyer"
"Ghosts 21"
"Ghosts 28"
"Ghosts 19"
"Ghosts Piggy"
"The Greater Good"
"Terrible Lie"
"The Big Come Down"
"Ghosts 31"
"The Hand That Feeds"
"Head Like A Hole"
"The Good Soldier"
"In This Twilight"