Monday, November 30, 2009

Dokken at the House of Blues Anaheim

Dokken reunion at House of Blues Anaheim. Check it out over at OC Weekly.

I was pretty stoked when George Lynch of Dokken came out last year with the Smashing Pumpkins at the Gibson Amphitheater.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Pablove Benefit at the Avalon


It was an emotionally charged night as Jeff Castelaz celebrated the end of his 3,000 mile bicycle journey across the United States to raise awareness for the Pablove Foundation. The Pablove foundation was instituted in remembrance of Jeff's son Pablo who tragically passed away due to Wilm's disease which is a rare form of cancer. The Pablove foundation helps raise awareness of how cancer can affect everyone regardless of age. The evening was superbly hosted by Justin Meldal-Johnsen.

Jarrod Gorbel

Jarrod Gorbel had played his last show with The Honorary Title the night before in New York and flew to L.A. to kick off his solo career with an acoustic 3 song set.

Sea Wolf

I loved the first Sea Wolf album and still haven't had a chance to pick up the new release White Water, White Bloom. After a pristine version of "You're A Wolf", Sea Wolf unveiled their lastest single "Wicked Blood". It immediately reminded me that I need to see a full set of Sea Wolf. It just so happens they will be at the Roxy on December 17th for a KROQ locals only show.

Shirley Manson

The crowd was definitely buzzing when the alluring Shirley Manson hit the stage bringing in producer/drummer extraordinaire Butch Vig and Tom Gabel from Against Me! After dedicating a song to Pablo, she did a heart wrenching cover of "Life On Mars?" by David Bowie. It was one of the many emotional moments of the evening

Butch Walker

Butch Walker (formerly of Marvelous 3) was flanked by Chapin Sisters for a handful of acoustic songs. Butch told a story of how he had reached out to talk to Jeff out of the blue after hearing about Pablo and that they quickly had become friends.


Rooney were the surprise guests of the evening. Another emotional moment was when they altered the lyrics of song "If It Were Up To Me" to include Pablo's name.

Tom Gabel

Tom Gabel from Against Me! was full of fire and brimstone as he ripped through "High Pressure Low" and "White Crosses". Butch Vig and Justin also came out to accompany him on a tune. It was another short but sweet set.

Josh Rifkind

The levity of the night came in the form of Josh Rifkind who is the driving force behind Songs for Kids. Josh pulled a rabbit out of his magic hat to make the crowd sing along to "The Wheels On The Bus". You had to be there to experience it.

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

It has been awhile since I last caught up with Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. They sounded great backed by a new drummer as they used a duel acoustic guitar attack on "Shuffle Your Feet", "666 Conducer" and "Ain't No Easy Way". They recently released Live on Vagrant records and I am anxiously awaiting any news of a new album.

I regrettably had to leave prior to Tom Morello and Band of Horses but heard they were both exceptional. It would have been interesting to see Tom pull off "Guerilla Radio" live with an acoustic guitar. The evening seemed to go by in seconds as the short sets and quick changeovers didn't leave much downtime. If you missed this amazing night, you can still make a contribution to the Pablove Foundation to show your support.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

KISS at the Honda Center

Check out my review of KISS at the Honda Center over at OC Weekly.

As an added bonus, they posted a picture of me in KISS makeup when I was 4.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Peter, Bjorn & John at Club Nokia

Was it a birthday party? Was it a concert? Actually, it was both. Peter, Bjorn & John stopped by Club Nokia to celebrate their ten year anniversary as a band with a career spanning set and a few special guests.

Peter, Bjorn & John

I double timed it down to Club Nokia to barely catch the opening chords of "Amsterdam" from their breakthrough album Writer's Block. The song was rearranged to a moodier version that suitably matched the scant lighting on the stage. "Far Away, By My Side" has a bigger punch live as Peter Moren (Vocals/Guitars) banged away at his Fender Telecaster Deluxe.

Bjorn Yttling (Bass/Vocals) did a fine job recreating the vocal effects of at the beginning of "The Chills" while laying down the wobbly bass line. John Eriksson (Drums) tapped the rims of his drums for the clicklity clack opening of "Living Things while Peter had switched to a Gibson SG for the slippery guitar riff. "It Don't Move Me" is easily my favorite tune from their new album with Peter switching to bass and Bjorn handling the keyboards. The Miike Snow remix of the song is pretty stellar in case you haven't checked it out.

"Just The Past" is where things really got interesting as the LA Ladies choir came out for the floating background vocals. The LA Ladies choir also stuck around to replace the child background vocals of "Nothing To Worry About" as Peter busted out the harmonica for a solo. The surprises didn't stop as Lykke Li came out with her highly kinetic dance moves for "Young Folks" along with Boom Bip on the bongos.

Things took a turn for the experimental when they played "Needles and Pills" from their Seaside Rock album to which Peter hoped that everyone brought their earplugs. Matt from Foreign Born came out with his guitar to assist the various instruments like cowbell, saxophone and trumpet that appeared on stage. It had seemed like a short set when they ran off stage but I didn't expect a six song encore.

"Stay This Way" was another highlight with the LA Ladies choir making another appearance and Bjorn manipulating the delay pedal for a spacey keyboard solo. "Let's Call It Off", "It Beats Me Everytime" and "(I Just Wanna) See Through" had me thinking that Peter, Bjorn & John might actually play all night. Bjorn did a public service announcement telling everyone to listen to The Feelies as they tore through "Fa Cé-La".

Peter thanked the crowd for helping them celebrate their birthday party and closed the evening with "The Object of My Affection". My only quibble is they didn't play "Up Against the Wall" but it is hard to complain after getting sixteen song setlist with multiple surprise guests. I guess you could say Peter, Bjorn and John had their cake and ate it too.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Mountain Goats and Final Fantasy at the Henry Fonda Theater


The Mountain Goats stopped by the Henry Fonda Theater in support of their latest album The Life of the World To Come. I was primarily interested in checking in with Final Fantasy who are gearing up for the release their upcoming album Heartland.

Final Fantasy
It has been awhile since I last caught a show by Final Fantasy. I quickly remembered how impressive they were when I saw Final Fantasy open for Bloc Party in March of 2007. Owen Pallett (Violin/Keyboards/Vocals) is astonishing to watch as he effortlessly samples and loops his violin for vividly colorful soundscapes. I would love to see him collaborate with Andrew Bird and Jon Brion as the Monsters of Loop.

"Flare Gun" was one of the new tunes Owen unveiled off Heartland. "Midnight Directives" was another jaw dropping new tune. A person from the audience requested "Ultimatum" to which Owen happily obliged and went back to the piano to display his masterful skills on yet another instrument. Final Fantasy's set came to a close with a griping version of "The Dream of Win and Regine". Owen definitely had his supporters in the audience as a few people departed at the conclusion of his set.

The Mountain Goats

I wasn't too familiar with The Mountain Goats but understand they have their own devout following. Ironically, John Darnielle (Vocals/Guitars) turned to specific bible passages for inspiration for the new album. I stayed for a couple of songs cause I was exhausted from attending my seven show in a row. I heard Owen came back out to assist on a few songs which makes me wish I had the energy to stay.

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Big Pink at the El Rey Theatre

The Big Pink easily made one of my favorite albums of 2009 along with The Horrors and A Place To Bury Strangers. The El Rey Theatre had slowly filled to capacity to see the US debut of The Big Pink with support from Crystal Antlers and IO Echo.

IO Echo
IO Echo continually impress with their live performances. They have come so far from the first time I saw them back in August 2007. They most recently had the honor of opening for the final Nine Inch Nails show at the Wiltern. On this night, they rolled out three new songs "Chelsea Smile", "Poison Apple", and "The Leaving Kind (William)".

"Poison Apple" was a dark and moody tune accentuated by the plumes of smoke on stage. IO (Vocals) seemed cramped on stage, so she took her vocals up the the ceiling when she climbed the scaffolding on the side of the stage. "She's So Heavy" and "Addicted" were performed as tightly as ever with the final closer being "Doorway". I really think its time they release these songs as a proper full length album.

Crystal Antlers

Crystal Antlers manage to have different line-ups every time I catch their shows. Two guitarists, then one guitarist, and most recently a new keyboard player. The one consistent factor is that Damian Edwards (Percussion) is still the most entertaining bongo player on the scene with his drum stick twirls mid beat.

Crystal Antlers worked through most of their debut album Tentacles. I have to commend Johnny Bell (Bass, Vocals) for crushing his Fender Telecaster bass too hard as he snapped his "E" string. Johnny wins the prize for the quickest restring job in a live concert setting all year. I hope the downsizing of their label Touch & Go won't impact the release of any future albums.

The Big Pink

The wait seemed to take forever. Suddenly, the curtains drew and the loud smack down drum beat and shrieking guitars of "Too Young To Love" blasted the audience. Blinding strobe lights and chest rattling bass immediately gave the impression that The Big Pink were going for a darker almost industrial vibe.

Robbie Furze (Vocals/Guitars) had some insanely modified Fender guitars (one Telecaster and one Mustang) and a slew of pedals that I couldn't make out from my vantage point. Milo Cordell (Synthesizers/Programming) had a full table of pedals to accompany his laptop and keyboard controller.

The chirping synthesizer squeals of "Frisk" funneled into a drone of guitar feedback while Leopold Ross (Bass) hammered away on his Gibson Thunderbird bass. I give credit to Leopold for pulling double duty having shredded with his Gibson SG earlier in the evening with IO Echo.

"Velvet" had a more tactile sensation as the bass and drums overpowered Robbie's crooning vocals but the crowd up front rhythmically pulsed to the beat. I couldn't quite discern the hooky synthesizer swells "At War With The Sun" but did hear Robbie's cutting distorted guitars.

Robbie did thank the crowd for waiting so long since they were having some technical difficulties. I had heard that they had lost some of their samples/patches on their laptop and had to recreate a lot of sounds prior to the show which had to have been extremely nerve wracking. This could possibly explain the minimalist versions of some of their songs.

The ice cold guitar lines of "Crystal Visions" was propelled by the throbbing electronic pulses of synthetic bass. "Count Backwards from Ten", "Tonight" and "These Arms" closed out their main set. I assume they might have lost the samples for the highly synthesizer processed "Golden Pendulum" which was omitted from the setlist.

People immediately started bouncing up and down upon hearing the drum shuffle of "Dominos" that unravels into its sexy synth hook. The volume seemed to be a tad bit higher during the song as you could feel the kick drum. I expect it to be pretty crazy when they play the Detroit Bar tonight.

The Big Pink Setlist at the El Rey Theatre (11/18/09)
"Too Young To Love"
"At War With The Sun"
"Crystal Visions"
"Count Backwards To Ten"
"These Arms of Mine"