Friday, February 27, 2009

Chemical Reactions

Zaza at the Echoplex
My latest musical obsession is the Zaza "Cameo" EP. It is absolutely haunting and is available as a free download. If you read this site regularly, then I guarantee you will dig this EP.

Ned's Atomic Dustbin was one of my favorite bands from the '90s. I think more bands should try having two bassists in their lineup. I beg someone to file a report from their reunion show in Nottingham on May 23rd.

Great Northern at 4th & B
March 16th is a concert conundrum. I am signed up for Primal Scream at Club Nokia but if they weren't playing I would see Great Northern at the Silverlake Lounge or Asobi Sesku at the Detroit Bar or Youth Group/Nico Stai at Spaceland. Living in Southern California can be difficult sometimes.

The Decemberists at the Hollywood Bowl

The Decemberists are hitting up SXSW and are running a contest were you can design the concert poster here. They will hit up the Hollywood Palladium on May 19th to kick off their tour.

The Pity Party

The Pity Party need your help. They are playing a fundraising gig at the Echoplex on March 1st. Donate some cash and help them help you by helping other people. Donate here.

Local music photographers have naturally united for a photography and live music exhibit starting this Friday. Ben Hoste, Simon Cardoza and Jeff Koga will be displaying their wares over the course of a month with a ton of great local bands in tow. I probably should stop by on Friday to see Le Switch, since I inexplicably missed their residency at Spaceland.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Puscifer at the Pearl Theater

What is a Puscifer? I attempted to find out the answer to this pressing question by catching each night of an exclusive three show run at the Pearl Theater at the Palms in Las Vegas.

Uncle Scratch's Gospel Revival

Uncle Scratch's Gospel Revival was a side splitting raucous good time. A hybrid of Bob Log III and the Black Keys, these Ohio boys easily converted the audience with their hellfire garage rock.

One of the many hilarious moments in their set included throwing rubber snakes into the crowd, holding up pictures of Tom Cruise and Britney Spears in order to mock them, and the fact that they had a microphone set up next to a picture of Jesus.

Song titles ranged from "I Banged A Sinner", "Gimme Back My Bible, Baby". I loved the fact they used distorted vocals and a make shift drum kit for their aural assault.

Puscifer is the brain child of Maynard James Keenan from Tool and A Perfect Circle. It is a small peak inside in the entertaining and deviant mind of the notoriously mercurial Tool frontman. It was exciting going to a concert with absolutely no idea of what was going to happen and what may unfold.


All three nights were prefaced with a small film skit with Maynard dressed up in a uniform and identified himself as "Major Douche" in which he humorously instructed the audience to pull out their ticket stub to indicate that "NO Flash Photography was allowed" and that in his career of touring with "The Tools" and "Full Circle" that flash photography has never been allowed and is plain rude. I neglected to take a picture of the hundreds of cameras that were held by The Pearl staff at the entrance. A lot of people seemed eager to document the evening's activities.

Friday's show opened with a skit with Maynard coming out with a wig and a jumpsuit accompanied by a nun and a priest taking jabs at organized religion. They ended the skit by singing "Sour Grapes". It was the first of many odd skits that would unfold over the three nights.


The stage was set up with two television screens center stage with video cameras behind the screen filming Maynard and Juliette Commagere. They literally appeared as "talking heads" when they sang into their microphones. Jonny Polonsky did a superb job on guitar conjuring up weird alien noises via a pitch shifting pedal and sweeps with his wah pedal.


Tim Alexander (Drums/Twitter) of Primus fame was the court jester of the three nights. During the Friday show, Tim was seated on a couch in the middle of the stage twittering from his apple laptop while the band was in the midst of their performance. He would occasionally jump over to the extra drum kit and lay down some grooves during a couple of songs. Tim went for the shock factor on Sunday night when he dressed up as a nurse complete with an orange wig and makeup.

In the music department, Puscifer was extremely sharp. Maynard still has one of the more distinctive voices in recorded music and sounded flawless. Maynard dressed to impress as he wore a full suit and sunglasses when he sang behind the television screen. Juliette Commagere (Vocals) had a perfectly complimentary voice to Maynard's distinctive vocals and occasionally would add some keyboards to the songs.


Another impressive feat of the three night stand was that Gil Sheron (Drums) and Rani Sheron (Bass) from Stolen Babies were on stage for Friday night. Saturday's rhythm section was Matt Mcjunkins (Bass) and Jeff Friedl (Drums) from Ashes Divide. On Sunday, both rhythm sections traded off during the whole set.

Puscifer covered a majority of songs from their debut album on all three nights including "Trekka", "Indigo Children", "Vagina Mine", "Queen Bee", "Rev 22:20". I heard rumors of Milla Jovovich showing up, but the Pearl turned electric when she appeared near the end of Friday's set to sing "The Mission". It was a shame that she did not appear on Saturday or Sunday.

Sunday's show started out slightly different in that a metallic trailer was center stage and the video screens showed Maynard frantically calling his bandmates with his iphone to come and play the final night. On Sunday, Maynard presided over the wedding of Juliette Commagere and a lucky suitor.

All three shows appeared to have been recorded for a future DVD or Blu-Ray release. One of the camera operators was slyly decked out in a full black ninja suit. I hope they include all of the filmed skits and include some bonus material. I was glad that I made the commitment to go all three nights and given the show production, uniqueness and musical quality, the ticket price of thirty nine dollars was an absolute steal. I just need to know when can I pre-order the live DVD? I also hear rumblings that Puscifer will play Club Nokia on April 4th.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Jane's Addiction at the Echoplex

There has been quite a whirlwind of reunions in the past couple of years. Jane's Addiction has entered the fray and after a few "secret shows" at El Cid and La Cita bar, Jane's is poised to revitalize the music scene with their hyper fusion hard driving rock.

Dot Hacker (This picture is from Neon Neon at the Viper Room)

Josh Klinghoffer (Guitars/Piano/Vocals) has long been well admired on the local scene working with John Frusciante of Red Hot Chili Peppers and collaborating with Gnarls Barkley and Neon Neon. Dot Hacker is Josh's newest endeavor that blew me away.

Armed with a Fender Jaguar, Josh created ghostly washes of noise like a mad scientist wrapped in a complex time signatures. When Josh wasn't slaying on the guitar, he banged on his keyboard like a demented pianist while altering various knobs to create ripples of notes. Dot Hacker will be back at the Echo on March 26th with Kenan Bell and Illinois. I need to work that show into my upcoming show review schedule.

Jane's Addiction

To quote the old adage, "Leave them wanting more". That is exactly what Jane's addiction did after whipping through a vicious forty minute set. The cosmic energy among Perry Farrell (Vocals), Dave Navarro (Guitars), Eric Avery (Bass) and Stephen Perkins (Drums) is palpable as it spilled over into the enthusiastic crowd. "Up The Beach" jump started the audience with Perry dancing across the candle lit stage.

Dave Navarro was playing a sleek white Ibanez guitar that howled through his Marshall stack. I did manage to catch the prior incarnations of Jane's addiction but never did see the band with Eric Avery. I realized after the show that Eric Avery is the sonic glue that holds the band together because songs like "Mountain Song" and "Been Caught Stealing" are driven by his characteristic bass grooves. Eric has a very specific subsonic tone that is undeniable.

"Ted, Just Admit It" had a prominent swagger that induced flashbacks to the early 1990's when Jane's had burst onto the scene helping usher in a new genre of music. "Stop" proved why Dave Navarro is one of the top shredders in the alternative world as he stomped on his wah pedal.

The brief encore of "Had A Dad" and "Ocean Size" sufficiently appeased older hardcore Jane's fans. It is difficult to refute the chemistry between the four members of Jane's addiction. There still seemed to be an underlying tension on the stage, but this tension is what made Jane's Addiction so compelling. The band could potentially implode at any given second.

The announcement was recently made that they will tour with Nine Inch Nails this summer means I will probably be catching a slew of these shows. It just so happens that I have a vacation during the Sasquatch Music Festival.

Jane's Addiction setlist at the Echoplex (2/16/09)

Dave Navarro of Jane's addiction pedalboard

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Local Natives at the Silverlake Lounge

Whoever booked the Silverlake lounge for the Local Natives residency probably should get a raise. I haven't seen the Silverlake lounge this packed since the Silversun Pickups secret show. The Local Natives have the deck stacked in their favor as their residency is being presented by KROQ Locals Only, Buzz Bands, Metromix LA, Citizen LA and the Fold.

The Meeting Places
The Meeting Places really impressed me when I saw them with Film School and The Pity Party back in August of 2008 at Spaceland. Those who didn't make it to the Silverlake lounge on time missed another stellar set by The Meeting Places.

Laura Llamas (Keyboards/Vocals) is the latest addition to the band. Laura's sparkling background vocals underneath floating keyboard lines expands their already dense sound. "Love Like The Movies" and "On Our Own" were some of the many stand out tracks along with the debut of a few new songs.

"Millions" had Arthur Chan (Bass) tapping the fretboard of his bass for a hypnotic groove accompanied by the noise washes of Scott Mcdonald (Guitars) and Chase Harris (Vocals/Guitars). Hopefully, they can get a residency around town to help expand their fanbase.

Dusty Rhodes and The River Band
I was unaware that Dusty Rhodes and the River Band had such an enthusiastic following. Silverlake Lounge was bursting at the seams by the time they setup the stage. Dusty Rhodes and the River Band are signed to Side One Dummy records and I unfortunately missed them awhile back when they played at the Orange County Museum of Art Orange Crush concert series.

Dusty Rhodes and The River Band played an inspired set pulling from such genres as southern rock, folk and Americana. I can only draw a comparison to a car collision between The Hold Steady, Arcade Fire and Ra Ra Riot. After Dustin Apocada pulled out the accordion, all bets were off. Dustin Apodaca (Vocals) wasn't the only one singing vocals as Edson Choi (Guitars/Vocals) and Kyle Divine (Guitars/Vocals) took their own turn at the microphone.

It should be noted the Ikey Owens from the Mars Volta produced their first album. This is brought up in relation to when Dusty tore into his keyboard for a mini-prog rock solo that reminded me of Europe's "Final Countdown" during one of their songs. Dusty mentioned they were working on their second album. It was good to see The Local Natives bringing some bands based in Orange County to the east side.

Local Natives

I have to admit it was nice to see the Local Natives play to a full Silverlake lounge. Local Natives have long been on my radar when I previously caught their prior incarnation as Cavil at Rest back in November 2007 with The Airborne Toxic Event and Castledoor on a free Monday night residency at the Detroit Bar.

While The Airborne Toxic Event have enjoyed a huge leap into the national scene by selling out the Henry Fonda, I wouldn't be surprised to see The Local Natives follow the same upward trajectory. While I was originally impressed with the work as Cavil At Rest, The Local Natives have honed their sound and reformulated their sharp tunes.

One thing that immediately grabs your attention about the Local Natives is the fact that Taylor Rice (Vocals/Guitars), Kelcey Ayer (Vocals/Keyboards) and Ryan Hahn (Vocals/Guitars) all could be lead singers in their own right. They strategically harmonize and alternate their vocal parts into a singing juggernaut. It is a gutsy move to cover Talking Heads, but The Local Natives pulled it off flawlessly with their cover of "Warning Sign". The Local Natives have a few more dates left at the Silverlake Lounge and I recommend you get there early for a good spot.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Gliss at Spaceland

I neglected to publish a list of bands to watch in 2009. If I did, Gliss would most certainly be included as they prepare to release their new album Devotion Implosion in April. A few preview tunes have made an appearance on itunes with the tantalizing cover shot of a Fender Jazzmaster. This cover crosses into hollowed ground by invoking the sonic spirit of My Bloody Valentine's album Loveless.


Gliss popped up on my radar back in December of 2006 when they played a KROQ Locals Only show. Feeling a bit under the weather, I soldiered out to Spaceland in the inclement climate for a thundering set by the dynamic trio. Spaceland was bustling with a number of people who had arrived early dispelling the myth that Los Angeles folks don't go out when it rains.

Gliss lived up to their cover art when Martin Klingman (Vocals/Guitars/Drums/Bass) unsheathed a Fender Jazzmaster from his guitar case for the shimmering chords of "The Patrol". I knew Gliss would debut some new songs, but I was unprepared for 8 of the 9 songs to be brand new. David Reiss (Guitars/Bass) would eventually get his turn on the Fender Jazzmaster as Gliss is renowned for switching off instruments throughout their set.

A buzzy bass line dictated "Morning Light" which immediately caught my ear but I would later by overwhelmed by jagged guitars and ethereal vocal harmonies washing over me. It was difficult to digest all the songs because I was pleasantly surprised by each song and the various shifts in tone and style between each song.

"Love Songs" was another newer song that I seemed to remember hearing before back at the Viper Room in 2007. "Blue Sky" was immediately recognizable with its crashing hi-hat pattern and howling guitars. The set winded down with the atmospheric "Sister Sister". Gliss will be heading down to SXSW but I will be keeping my eyes peeled for any other local dates.

Gliss setlist at Spaceland (2/6/09)
"The Patrol"
"Morning Light"
"Anybody Inside"
"29 Acts of Love"
"Love Songs"
"Blue Sky"
"Sister Sister"

Friday, February 06, 2009

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Darker My Love at the Prospector

I lamented missing the most recent Darker My Love show at the Echoplex with the Soft Pack. I was shocked when I saw the listing of Darker My Love at the Prospector in Long Beach. Talk about a slam dunk. I wouldn't pass up this opportunity to see Darker My Love at the tiny Prospector.

Talia Rose

Talia Rose was a one woman tornado armed with a Fender Stratocaster and a microKorg keyboard. Talia fronted the Long Beach band Katie The Pest but is venturing down the solo route. A haunting microKorg song opened her set before opting for a cavernous dirty reverb guitar sound that was impressive.

Talia incorporated a couple of different tunings and unique chord voicings to maximize the effects of her minimalist sound. I wouldn't be surprised if she forms another band to flesh out her intriguing batch of tunes.

Darker My Love

A swirl of psychedelic colors were projected on the members of Darker My Love, which set the mood of the evening perfectly. I staked out a spot close to the stage to take in the torrential waves of fuzz. Darker My Love has been touring heavily behind their stellar sophomore album 2 and look to hit the road again starting February 21st with These Arms are Snakes.

It didn't take long for the band to find their groove as "Blue Day" howled ferociously. Rob Barbato (Bass/Vocals) was using his Gibson Hollowbody bass for the ground shaking groovy bass lines. Jared Everett (Guitars) had his trusty Guild hollowbody plugged into his Z Vex Fuzz Factory pedal complimenting Tim Presley's equally impressive setup of a (Vocals/Guitars) Fender Jazzmaster into a Big Muff distortion pedal.

Darker My Love embraces the psychedelic but know when to rein their songs in and not let the music needlessly wonder. In a live setting, Darker My Love expand their songs but infuse new elements to make the songs even more interesting. The fuzzy waves of "Northern Soul" washed over the crowd as Tim and Rob harmonized their vocals. Andy Granelli (Drums) pummeled the skins for "Talking Words" as the audience bobbed their heads along in unison.

"Helium Heels" from their self-titled debut album was sped up compared to the recorded version but would later unwind into a hazy outro. "Summer is Here" was scorching hot, as the song bordered on punk ferocity with Jared cutting loose on the lead guitar riff. Will Canzoneri (Clavinet/Organ) sprinkled various bits of organ and clavinet to spice up the overall tasty sound of Darker My Love. The pace was furious as Darker My Love shredded during "What's A Man's Paris" with Tim throwing in squeals of noise with his wah pedal.

"Fall" rocked with Rob adding his tumbling bass line while Tim and Jared created tapestries of noise. Darker My Love unsuccessfully tried to walk off the stage but the crowd wouldn't budge until they performed an encore. Ten noisy minutes later, I was convinced this was one of the best Prospector shows I have ever witnessed.