Saturday, June 27, 2009

Gliss at the Echo


A week ago, I managed to quickly run upstairs to the Echo to check in with Gliss. They just wrapped up a US tour supporting their brillant new album Devotion Implosion. I was torn because Amusement Parks On Fire were playing downstairs at the Echoplex but I had to watch a few songs of Gliss before returning downstairs.

Gliss will be heading out to across the pond for more touring but you have one last chance to catch them tomorrow before they leave. The best part is that Gliss is playing with a killer line-up that is a benefit for the Sante D'Or Foundation.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Josh Freese in OC Weekly

It was worth every penny when I had lunch with Josh Freese at the Cheesecake Factory in Huntington Beach.

OC Weekly just this week ran an awesome cover story detailing the craziness that has continued to unfold since Josh revealed his wacky plans. The story was ran nationally and picked up in SF Weekly and Miami New Times.

Check out the OC Weekly slideshow that included some pictures I took of Josh during a trip to Disneyland.

There are a few remaining packages left over at Josh Freese's site like the $10,000 package that includes his Volvo. The $75,000 dollar package is still up for grabs in which Josh would be your assistant for a month. I wonder if you could book Josh as a session drummer for a month could you make back the $75,000? Hmmm...

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Kobe Bryant at Disneyland

In an ultra-rare non music post, check out my photos of Kobe Bryant at Disneyland over at OC Weekly.

Peaches at the Henry Fonda Theater

Where have you been Peaches? It has been awhile since I last saw Peaches at the Avalon in December of 2006. I Feel Cream is Peaches latest release on XL Recordings which was crafted with the production assistance of Drums of Death, Digitalism, Soulwax and Simian Mobile Disco.

The main reason for going to see Peaches is the spectacle that she brings to the stage. I can only imagine what she could do with a larger budget. Their was a reason why Peaches sold out two nights at the Henry Fonda theater. Peaches delivers her electro glam rock like a high speed out of control freight train. You either hop on board or get out of her way.

Drums of Death

In the true fashion of paying it forward, Drums of Death opened for Peaches. While he does bare a resemblance to the Joker with his makeup, his beats were no laughing matter. It was difficult to specifically keep track of his own crafted songs and various samples that were incorporated into his mix.

Drums of Death was emphatically trying to get the crowd involved by jumping down into the photo pit and walking along the barricade before hopping back onstage to tweak the knobs on his AKAI controller. It is a tough gig to open for Peaches but Drums of Death tried as best as he could.

It is a bold statement to have your website named but I couldn't agree more. Strategically opening with the fiery "Show Stopper", the dark waves of synth bass poured over the audience accompanied by rapid fire lyrics from Peaches. It was quite crowded in the photo as some cameramen were filming for Carson Daly's show. It will be interesting to see how much they edit/bleep out of her X-rated performance.

After a few early costume changes after the first two songs, pandemonium occurred as Peaches jumped into the pit and walked along the railing in front of her fans during "Hit It Hard". Peaches would later stage dive into the audience and crowd walk while not missing a beat on the vocals. The chaos continued when she hopped on the speakers and later jumped into the alcove.

The new songs from I Feel Cream sounded great with their '80s tinged synthesizer patches. Peaches did dip back into her older material with "Operate" and "Hot Rod". In the gratuitous moment of the evening, Sasskia (Guitars) busted out a sloppy but sweet guitar solo on her flying "V" guitar. Peaches later got into the guitar action herself by adding some extra dirt to "Boys Wanna Be Her".

Shunda K from Yo Majesty would later jump onstage to assist Peaches for "Billionaire". The set would "wind down" with "Set It Off" and "Kick It" before Peaches took a small break. It was impressive that Peaches came back for 3 encores. "I Feel Cream" had an evil techno/acid house synthesizer riff underlying Peaches high falsetto.

The second encore had the channeled the familiar sounds of an 808 with dueling keytars for "Tombstone,Baby". The dance party finally came to a close as Peaches ended the evening with "Take You On". Besides being a great show, the people watching factor was off the charts as it was one of the more eclectic crowds of the year.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Modwheelmood and Mellowdrone at the Knitting Factory

I can barely remember the last time I dropped by the Knitting Factory. It might have been December 2006 when I saw Gliss and The Oohlas. The line up of Mellowdrone and Modwheelmood was a slam dunk line-up that couldn't be missed.

It has also been awhile since I checked in with Mellowdrone. I last caught up with them in February of 2008 at Spaceland. Jonathan Bates (Vocals/Bass) was busy touring with M83 as an extra guitar player which briefly sidetracked Mellowdrone's recording progress.

The new album Angry Bear seems to be worth the wait judging by their engaging performance at the Knitting Factory. I have become more comfortable watching Jonathan shred on his Peavey Bass instead playing guitar in the prior iterations of Mellowdrone. Jonathan attacks his bass like a guitar while dialing in a super fuzzed out tone.

I long have theorized that Mellowdrone derived their name after a lyric from a Failure song and this memory was stirred when I heard the sonic similarities of the track that included the lyrics of "Angry Bear". Tony Dematteo had his Fender Jaguar switching between a textural fuzz and spacey overdrive tones. Mellowdrone have expanded their lineup by adding an additional guitarist who kept things in a Fender state of mind with his Telecaster.

Mellowdrone unveiled a handful of new tracks like "Big Winner" and "Esmeralda" that are primed and ready for inclusion on any cinema noir soundtrack. Angry Bear will be released on August 25th on Coming Home records and hopefully a tour will be announced soon. Mellowdrone did score a opening slot for Elbow on July 22 at the Wiltern.

With his departure from Nine Inch Nails, Alessandro Cortini can fully focus on his efforts in Modwheelmood. I previously caught Modwheelmood at Spaceland earlier this year.

I was immediately impressed from the first notes of their set as I could tell they have been rehearsing heavily. A lonely Macbook Pro occasionally added some synthesizer tracks to the primarily power trio. Modwheelmood has released a vinyl and cd package of Pearls To Pigs. The vinyl is particularily impressive as it is limited edition (500) numbered, signed, braille embossed, gatefold double 180g with digital download card.

It didn't take long for them to fry one of the direct input boxes on the stage resulting in the loss of their ability to hear themselves properly. Alessandro quipped to the sound guy that "Mono is the new stereo". I was surprised at seeing the lengthy setlist placed on stage as their other performances didn't last over thirty minutes. This was another indication that they had been rehearsing as they knocked each song out flawlessly.

The instrumental of "Forli" gave way to Alessandro laying down the bass groove for "Bellevue Ave." Alessandro had a Malekko B:assmaster Fuzz pedal in his setup as well as a Line 6 Delay pedal hooked up to his vocals that he controlled with an expression pedal. Alessandro was making frequent changes to his pedals like he was a guitarist. Pelle Hillstrom (Guitars) was extremely busy tweaking his pedals throughout the evening adjusting the delay on his Line 6 pedal or tending to his Empress tremolo pedal.

Modwheelmood knocked out "Crumble", "Scene" and "Thursday" before dipping back to their first release Enemies and Immigrants with "Yesterday" and "Delay Lama". "Mhz" was one of the many standouts of the evening with its catchy synthesizer riff mashed against a heavy fuzz bass line. "Problem Me" was another highpoint as Alessandro busted out the Monome to control the programmed bass line.

Modwheelmood will venture out in July to Austin and West Palm Beach so I highly recommend you catch them when you can. I can only hope they score a residency at Spaceland or the Echo to widen their fanbase. I highly recommend you pick up Pearls To Pigs here.

Monday, June 01, 2009

The Prodigy at the Grove of Anaheim

As much as I hate to say it, Twitter does come in handy once in awhile. I received an update from the Grove of Anaheim and my jaw dropped when they said extra lights and speakers were being unloaded into the Grove for The Prodigy.

In case you don't know, The Grove of Anaheim has an excellent soundsystem and some of the best stage lights in Orange County. The Prodigy was going to bring in more of each? What was I getting myself into? These tidbits culled with the fact that The Prodigy haven't come stateside in many years had me anxiously waiting for one of England's finest electronic based acts.

In case you have lost track, The Prodigy do have a new album. Invaders Must Die is their triumphant return to their ferocious synthesizer driven songs. I knew I was in trouble from the photography standpoint when I saw a racks of strobe lights lined up behind the drum kit and gigantic space station of keyboards set up for Liam Howlett. I did manage to snap a picture of a modified vintage arcade game that seems to have been converted into a synthesizer. Can anyone identify the video game?

"World's On Fire" was a huge punch in the face as Maxim Reality (Vocals) and Keith Flint (Vocals) bounded back and forth as if they were boxers in a fighting match. I had my earplugs in and my ribcage was rattling from the sound vibrations of being in the photo pit. The crowd behind me went absolutely insane. It was an instant time warp to the times when the rave scene was exploding.

The haunting electronic jabs of "Breathe" raised the pressure of the room beyond its sound limits as the crowd continued to lose their minds. It was insanely intense to be that close and attempting to photograph the madness unfolding on stage. It is interesting to note that Ross Halfin emerged from the shadows and started photographing the show right beside me.

Mangled synthesizer oscillators continued to scream bloody murder all night as The Prodigy still managed to seem futuristic even though they have been in the game for almost twenty years. "Firestarter" burned bright and hot with Maxim spewing the venomous raps alongside Keith's confrontational singing. There was an unhinged look in Keith's eyes as if he was going to loose it at any second. It was exhilarating to watch such classic songs performed so intensely.

It seemed like they had only be on stage for a few minutes when they left for an a short break before returning for an encore. "Invaders Must Die" blew my mind with it adrenaline pumping arpeggiated synthesizer intro. The audience continued to feverishly dance and flail their arms in the air.

I was impressed how well the Prodigy stacked their setlist alternating new and old songs. I can't help but recall the controversial video for "Smack My Bitch Up" when they tore into the song. "Take Me To The Hospital" had everyone calling for a stretcher or their doctor with its surgical beats. Overall, this show will be in contention as one of the top shows of 2009.

Check out Ben Wener's review from the OC Register who seemed to agreed it was an intense show.