Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Queensryche at the House of Blues Anaheim

Check out my photos of Queensryche at the House of Blues Anaheim over at OC Weekly.

I blame my heavy metal brother for playing their album The Warning on his record player all day back in 1984.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Presets at the Glass House

The idea of going to see The Presets at the Glass House after three scorching days at Coachella seems crazy. I didn't get a chance to trek down to the Sahara tent that much this year at Coachella but I dragged myself to catch a little bit of the Presets on Friday. The Sahara tent was full despite going up against Paul McCartney and people were dancing in masses.

The Golden Filter

Another reason for checking out this show was the inclusion of The Golden Filter on the bill. I was surprised they didn't land at least an early slot on Coachella as they have been building a bit of buzz with their song "Solid Gold".

Cloaked in darkness and with little front lighting, a breathy female lead vocalist commanded the stage backed by a keyboardist and drummer. The keyboardist was rocking a Moog Prodigy and pumping out arpeggiated synth lines like it was the '80s.

I combed the net to try to find the names of the performers but everything is mysteriously left blank. "Favourite Things" was one of a number of catchy synth driven tunes that had the lyrics changed to include "Pomona" to the delight of the crowd. Their intriguing cover of “The Hardest Button To Button” by the White Stripes took me aback.

I much preferred their original material. "Solid Gold" closed out the evening and it seemed like they really had the crowd moving by the time they finished their set. I also recommend checking out some of their high profile remixes for Little Boots, Peter, Bjorn & John and Cut Copy.

The Presets
I don't hide the fact that The Presets are one of my favorite synthesizer based bands. Ever since I saw The Presets obliterate Spaceland back in 2006, I was instantly a fan. I was lucky enough to interview Kim Moyes back last year just prior to the release of their latest album Apocalypso and document the Australian juggernaut tour of them with Cut Copy at the Glass House in October of last year.

The slow cooking build up of "Talk Like That" got the Glass House shaking early. My level of exhaustion quickly dissipated as the synthesizers started to roar. What immediately impressed me was that The Presets had tweaked and remixed a lot of the songs to keep the audience guessing. "Eucalyptus" was a fury of hard charging synthesizer bass lines. Julian Hamilton (Vocals/Synthesizers) was commanding the front of the stage when he wasn't behind the keyboards frequently shuffling between synthesizers.

Kim Moyes (Drums) was a human drum machine destroying the notion that electronic bands can't perform live. Oscillators screamed for mercy during "A New Sky" with Julian frequently using a vocoder patch on his synthesizer to alter his voice. The Presets effortlessly let the song melt and morph into the pulsating "Girl and The Sea". The Presets brought it down a notch for the instrumental "Aeons" but did not let the crowd rest for that long.

"Are You The One?" evoked the dark moods of Nitzer Ebb as I even found myself moving along to the beat despite my soreness of Coachella. The setlist primarily consisted of material off the new album and I was disappointed they didn't play "Down Down Down" and "Girl (You Chew My Mind Up)". While their set was an action packed hour and twenty minutes, I couldn't help but wish they played a little longer.

Strategically stacking the deck in their favor, The Presets pummeled the audience with a closing triplet of "My People", "Anywhere" and "I Go Hard, I Go Home". The Presets will be heading back down under for a tour of their homeland before hopefully returning to the studio to work on a third album. Despite my exhaustion, I was glad I made the trek out to Pomona, as their music was the perfect comedown to the madness that was Coachella.

The Presets setlist at the Glass House (4/21/09)
"Talk Like That"
"A New Sky"
"Girl And The Sea"
"If I Know You"
"Are You One?"
"This Boy's In Love"
"Kicking And Screaming"
"My People"
"I Go Hard, I Go Home"

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

My Guide to Coachella 2009

It looks like I will be heading out to Coachella this year. Last year, I published a guide to Coachella to help you navigate through the massive roster. Friday is going to be rough.


The Courtneers 2:00-2:25 (Coachella Stage)
Noah & The Whale 2:25-2:50 (Outdoor Theatre)
We Are Scientists 2:50-3:40 (Coachella Stage)
Cage The Elephant 3:40-4:05 (Mojave)
The Airborne Toxic Event 4:05-4:30 (Coachella Stage)
The Hold Steady 4:30-5:20 (Mojave)
The Black Keys 5:20-5:45 (Coachella Stage)
White Lies 5:45-6:10 (Mojave)
Conor Oberst & The Mystic Valley Band 6:10-6:35 (Outdoor Theatre)
Franz Ferdinand 6:35-7:00 (Coachella Stage)
Crystal Castles 7:00-7:30 (Sahara)
Leonard Cohen 7:30-8:30 (Outdoor Theatre)
Morrissey 8:30-9:30 (Coachella Stage)
Silversun Pickups 9:30-9:55 (Outdoor Theatre)
A Place To Bury Strangers 9:55-10:35 (Outdoor Theatre)
The Presets 10:35-11:00 (Sahara Tent)
Paul McCartney 11:00-? (Coachella Stage)

Friday by far has the worst number of conflicts. I wish they would have shuffled some of these bands to Saturday.


Ida Maria 1:30-2:10 (Gobi)
Liars 2:30-3:15 (Outdoor Theatre)
Blitzen Trapper 3:45-4:05 (Gobi)
Drive-By Truckers 4:05-4:30 (Outdoor Theatre)
Dr. Dog 4:30-4:55 (Mojave)
Superchunk 4:55-5:45 (Outdoor Theatre)
Glasvegas 6:05-6:35 (Mojave)
TV On the Radio 6:35-7:15 (Coachella)
Fleet Foxes 7:25-8:15 (Outdoor Theatre)
Band of Horses 8:40-9:00 (Outdoor Theatre)
M.I.A 9:00-9:45 (Coachella)
Jenny Lewis 9:50-10:25 (Outdoor Theatre)
The Killers 10:25-11:05 (Coachella)
Mastodon 11:05-?

There is time for lunch, dinner and multiple water breaks.


Vivian Girls 12:45-1:30 (Mojave)
The Night Marchers 1:30-1:55 (Outdoor Theatre)
No Age 1:55-2:30 (Mojave)
Friendly Fires 2:30-3:00 (Gobi)
Okkervil River 3:00-3:25 (Coachella Stage)
F**ked Up 3:25-3:40 (Mojave)
Lykke Li 4:00-4:55 (Outdoor Theatre)
Peter, Bjorn & John 5:00-5:50 (Coachella Stage)
Anthony & The Johnsons 5:50-6:15 (Outdoor Theatre)
Yeah Yeah Yeahs 6:15-7:00 (Coachella Stage)
Paul Weller 7:00-7:50 (Outdoor Theatre)
My Bloody Valentine 7:50-9:00 (Coachella Stage)
The Kills 9:00-9:25 (Mojave)
The Cure 9:25-10:10 (Coachella Stage)
Throbbing Gristle 10:10-? or head back to The Cure

A little more breathing room compared to Friday.

Jenny Lewis at the Glass House

Check out my photos of Jenny Lewis at the Glass House over at Stereogum.com.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Epiphone Revolver Golden Gods Awards at Club Nokia

Jonathan from Korn
Jonathan and Fieldy from Korn
Alice in Chains
Scott Ian from Anthrax
Tom Araya from Slayer
Chuck Billy from Testament
Sick Puppies
Protest The Hero
The Cult/Owl

I felt like a paparazzi standing on the "black carpet" for the inaugural Epiphone Revolver Golden Gods awards held at Club Nokia. Stationed between Fox Sports Net and Metromix, I snapped a few pictures of an assortment of metal folks making their arrival to the show. I lent a helping hand to Fox Sports Net by identifying Lemmy Kilmister and told them to ask him about the Headcat. I would have stayed longer on the carpet if it wasn't for the inclement weather.

Undoubtedly the loudest awards show ever, I walked into Club Nokia to have my ears assaulted by a DJ set from Corey Taylor of Slipknot. He played Metallica "Master Of Puppets" which ignited the circle pit on the floor.

Brian Posehn from the Sarah Silverman show hosted the awards show and did the best job he could given the circumstances. He was plagued with a faulty microphone throughout the night which interrupted whatever flow he was trying to establish.

The awards were very appropriate for a metal show. The "Monster Riff" award went to Slipknot for "All Hope Is Gone". Not surprisingly, the award was sponsored by Monster Energy drink. In the "No duh" department, Lemmy presented the "Metal Industry" award to the Rainbow Bar & Grill. I'm surprised Lemmy left the bar to present the award. Marta Peterson from Bleeding Through accepted her "Hottest Metal Chick" award with flying colors by thanking her parents for the piano lessons or she would have been just another "hot chick". I hope she was being sarcastic.

Since it was a heavy metal awards show, I didn't expect it to run as smoothly as the Grammy's. It was chaotic but would do you expect? One snag of the show was that the bands used their full stage setup which made for some lengthy changeovers. The acceptance speeches by the bands were hilariously short. Ozzy had a ten minute video introduction to which he complained about standing for so long waiting to go on stage.

In the band performance department, Killswitch Engage put together a strong set. Suicide Silence and All That Remains were okay but I am not that familiar with their recorded output. Suicide Silence should have got the award for best synchronized headbanging.

The main attraction of the evening was Megadeth. I reviewed and photographed Megadeth for OC Weekly almost a year ago when they ripped up the Long Beach Arena. The wait was lengthy but they came locked and loaded by ripping through "Peace Sells", "Sweating Bullets" and "Holy Wars". Overall, the Epiphone Revolver Golden Gods awards had a few bumps and bruises but that is to be expected when you hang out in the mosh pit.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Puscifer at Club Nokia

What is a Puscifer? I answered this question when I saw Puscifer in Las Vegas. When it was announced that Puscifer was coming to Los Angeles, I knew the special guest factor would be heightened. Puscifer brought out some heavy hitting special guests to make this one of the best Puscifer shows yet.


With Queens of the Stone Age in hibernation, Troy Van Leeuwen (Guitars) has found time to start up Sweethead. Fronted by the alluring Serrina Sims (Vocals), Sweethead is a showcase for Troy's staccato guitar riffs backed by long time associates Eddie Nappi (Bass) and Norman Block (Drums).

Sweethead made its debut late 2008 when they played the Buddyhead Christmas party at the Hotel Cafe and recently had some gigs at Spaceland and the Detroit Bar.

Serrina owned the stage in five inch heals with her vocals channeling Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders and the better vocal parts of Courtney Love. Sweethead ended their set with "The Great Disruptors" that came to a close too quickly. Sweethead is off to the UK to support the Eagles of Death Metal for a one-off show and then tour with Snow Patrol. Look out for their debut album this summer.

"We couldn't get the camper inside the venue". A large projection screen showed Maynard James Keenan was speaking in a hushed tone on his telephone. This was particularly funny to me, due to the fact that Maynard was referring to the silver camper that appeared on stage during the third night of Puscifer's show in Las Vegas.

"Major Douche" made his usual appearance warning the audience "No flash photography or video was allowed!" I had heard that the night before Rani and Gil Sherone from Stolen Babies helped out on the rhythm section. On this particular night, Matt Mcjunkins (Bass) and Jeff Friedl (Drums) from Ashes Divide formed the backbone of Puscifer's tunes.


As a quick side note to this review, I exited the photo pit and was headed back to my friends when I ran into Josh Freese. We had a quick laugh about our lunch date at the Cheesecake Factory.

I was introduced to the winner of the $20,000 package deal who seemed to be a little shell-shocked by seeing Josh drum with the Vandals earlier in the day at Bamboozle Left in Irvine, visiting Mark from Devo and now rocking out to Puscifer. The look of disbelief on his face indicated that he was enjoying every second.


Having caught 3 out of 4 Puscifer shows, the parade of guest appearances on this night was most impressive. Billy Howerdel (Guitars) was literally dragged out in a sleeping bag and handed his Gibson Les Paul for some guest riffs. Danny Carey from Tool was hanging out for a bit roasting some marshmallows on the faux campfire.

Josh Freese did eventually come out and slay on his part for "Queen Bee". In order to help perpetuate the legend of Josh, he said he had learned the drum earlier in the morning. Milla Jovovich did make a guest appearance at the end of the evening for a scintillating rendition of "The Mission".


A lot of the interstitial film pieces were different from the Las Vegas show. Some of the more memorable pieces include "Camp Crystal Meth" with hockey masks from Friday the 13th, "Jesus Bread" with the slogan "He has risen" and "Alley headshots" which showed pictures of actors getting shot in an alley. It is difficult to describe these visual pieces of comedic genius.

The spine tingling moment of the night was hands down Puscifer's cover of "Rocket Man". Maynard slowed the tempo of the song and displayed why he has one of the most versatile voices in metal/rock/etc. A lot of samples from NASA recordings were sprinkled lightly within the song providing a greater sense of atmosphere.

I continue to hear rumors of more Puscifer dates but it has been announced that Tool will be hitting the festival circuit this summer. One can only open a bottle of Caduceus wine and toast all the activity to come from Maynard James Keenan this year.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Ratatat at the Hollywood Palladium

There should be no excuse to missing the opening bands for a concert. You never know whom you could be potentially missing. One of my first concerts dates back to 1992 when I saw Pearl Jam at the Hollywood Palladium and some band called Rage Against the Machine opened.

I forgot this important tenet when I saw one of the best shows of 2007, Daft Punk at the Los Angeles Sports Arena. I went to the show with a group of good friends and unfortunately we missed Ratatat. I inexplicably missed Ratatat again when they played two sold out shows at the Henry Fonda in September 2008. I only kick myself now after experiencing their breath taking show at the Hollywood Palladium.

While I am nowhere near qualified to speak about rap acts, Despot did leave a lasting impression. Hailing from Brooklyn, various backing tracks laid down the thick groove for Despot and his rapid-fire raps. Despot mentioned he was working on a project entitled "Jerry" which was a collaboration between him and Ratatat to write and record a song each day to be later released as a free download in tribute to his father.

Despot made a bid to help kids get healthier asking the crowd to do jumping jacks with him to which a good portion of the crowd responded in kind. The stand out tracks in his set was "Get Your Shrug On" and "Crap Artists". I imagine he will start to make even more noise when his album comes out.


The atmosphere shifted when Tussle hit the stage. A wash of blue covered the stage as Tussle wrestled with spaced out keyboards, and intertwined programmed sequences from a sampler. Tussle's latest album is Cream Cuts, which is a wild electronic instrumental ride through multiple oscillators and filters of a Korg keyboard. Tussle recently downsized to a three-piece outfit with the amicable departure of Warren Huegel.

Recreating these multi-layered tracks is quite the feat, but Tussle was up to the challenge by incorporating live bass and drums to add some human touches to their robotic groove. I did appreciate them rocking the headset microphone along with a microKorg but couldn't spot all the electronic gadgets set up on the table on stage. The Hollywood Palladium was a vast space for their tight grooves and will definitely like to see them in a smaller venue.

I quite frankly debated about posting a slew of pictures from this show and referring to the old adage that a picture is worth a thousand words. Ratatat falls into a must see live act. There are only a few bands worthy of opening for Daft Punk and Ratatat falls into that distinction.

It seemed like forever for Ratatat to take the stage. The anticipation started to build and the chants for "Ratatat" started to erupt. Once the lights dimmed, a lone projector lit up the Hollywood Palladium with a bright "Ratatat" logo. Cue the audience going crazy.

The creepy harpsichord notes of "Shiller" served as a warning shot to the impending shotgun blast of synthesized waves of music to come. It was the matter of only a few notes before Ratatat had ensnared the audience down in front.


Ratatat is composed of Mike Stroud (Guitars/Synthesizers) and Evan Mast (Bass/Synthesizers) who create a whirlwind amount of noise for a duo. I feared at times that my camera would melt during some of Mike's fiery guitar solos. They were not speed metal fast, but played with such emotion that you could not help but want to rock out. Evan was no slouch on his Gibson SG bass laying down super thick and funky bass lines.

Accompanying the aural assault was a visual feast for the eyes as various layers and lights blasted off the stage. During "Flynn", footage of the classic Paul Simon video with Chevy Chase "You Can Call Me Al" played in the background. If they incorporated footage from the movie Fletch, I would have deemed it the concert of the year.

The Thundercats roar during "Wildcat" had the crowd go nuts with the crowd throwing their hands in the air with each roar. "Shempi" maybe one of the closer tunes to emulating the genius of Daft Punk with its decidedly French flavor and twinkling synthesizer starblasts. I forgot how late it was by the time Ratatat came out for an encore of "Snifters" and the positively electric "Seventeen Years". The cult of Ratatat continues to grow with each concert they play.

Ratatat setlist at the Hollywood Palladium (4/4/09)
"Mumtaz Khan"
"Mi Viejo"
"Loud Pipes"
"Falcon Jab"
"Grape Juice"

"17 Years"