Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Wolfmother at House of Blues Anaheim

How packed could the House of Blues Anaheim be on a Thursday night? Super packed is the answer. Having frequented numerous House of Blues Anaheim shows, seeing that the floor was fairly full well before the show started meant the crowd was ready for the rock.

Wolfmother last appeared in Anaheim in 2007 at the Grove of Anaheim riding high on the wave of success from their debut album. Supporting their latest album Cosmic Egg, Wolfmother were razor sharp as the tones from Andrew Stockdale's Gibson SG richoceted like a sledgehammer throughout the venue.

J Roddy Walston and The Business

The energy from the crowd was already elevated as they sang along to "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen before the curtains even opened. Could the opening band sustain this energy? Yes. J Roddy Walston and The Business turned in one of the more compelling sets for an opening act that I have witnessed in a long time.

Positioned in front of his Yamaha piano, J Roddy Walston was a cross between early James Hetfield and Jerry Lee Lewis as he headbanged and slammed the keys on his piano to start the show. Sourcing good old fashioned Southern Rock and infused with Blues, Gospel and various influences, J Roddy Walston and his crew did mean business.

Their cover of Lil Richard "Lucille" was tact sharp, yet played with reckless abandonment as if their were teetering over the edge of a cliff. The dancing keys of "Used to Did" had the throngs of fans in the crowd hoisting their beers in approval with its hard charging guitars and rumbling drums.

The bar saloon brawling of "Don't Break The Needle" had me looking out for flying beer bottles. J Roddy Walston and the Business will be back soon on 9/10 at the Detroit Bar and 9/12 at the Troubadour. Catch them now before its too late.

George Lopez

Very few bands get an introduction prior to walking on the stage. On this particular night, the House of Blues Anaheim curtains rolled back and comedian George Lopez came out to give a rousing introduction. This most likely will be the most random introduction of a band all year.


Exploding into another "Dimension", Wolfmother fed off the voracious energy from the crowd like a wild animal. The revamped line-up definitely sounded much fuller as the extra creamy distortion from Will Rockwell-Scott's gold top Les Paul nicely doubled Stockdale's pummeling riffs.

While Wolfmother often gets written off as classic rock recyclers, a handful of music awards from Australia and a Grammy is not a bad start for a young band. Their live show is where they capture the fans as Stockdale tends to be the focal point with his stage antics.

Barreling through songs like "Cosmic Egg" and "New Moon Rising", Wolfmother had their full swagger in effect. As if the House of Blues couldn't get any louder, the barn storming blare of "Woman" was deafening as members of the crowd sang along. Stockdale would proceed to do jump kicks to the down beats of "White Unicorn".

Stockdale is known for his ear piecing falsetto, yet his transition to the baritone vocal parts of their interlude of "Riders on the Storm" undoubtedly proved that he has the vocal chops. "California Queen" also had a mini Black Sabbath interlude before returning to its hard rocking sludge.

The guitars seemed to jangle faster for "Apple Tree" topped with a searing guitar solo as it seems that Stockdale has sharpened up his guitar tone compared to the other times I saw him live. Hypnotic swirls of organ for "Mind's Eye" made you envision psychedelic kaleidoscopes as the scent of illicit substances floated throughout the air.

A '60s time warped wah pedal intro for "Pilgrim" nicely melted into the runaway freight train riff that continued to stir the legions of fans. Stockdale was writhing on the floor for the high screeching notes of "Joker and The Thief" as Ian Peres slammed the notes on his keyboard.

In order to drive the point home, Wolfmother came back with a vicious version of "Vagabond" and an astounding cover of The Who's "Baba O'Riley". Wolfmother have a few more dates in Australia before they presumably head back into the studio to record a new album.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Film School "Fission"

FS_Andrew Youssef_low
Photo Credit: Andrew Youssef

My first encounter with Film School dates back to August 2007 when they blew up Spaceland in support of their highly overlooked album Hideout. The album was a tasty swirl of dense guitars intertwined with synthesizer washes that coalesced into haunting songs.

Having parted way with Beggars Banquet, Film School is back with a new album Fission on Hi Speed Soul Records that dials back the guitar noise and turns up the ethereal with stronger songwriting and catchier melodies. Some sonic reference points one could detect would be a blend of Stone Roses, The Cure and Lush.

"Heart Full of Pentagons" immediately captures your attention with its windstorm of ambiance and center channeled vocals by Greg Bertens. Lorelei Plotczyk shines throughout the album adding her shimmering vocals to broaden the scope of their sound, especially on tracks like "Meet Around 10" and "Nothing's Mine".

Their new album will be released on 8/31 and will be available as a limited autographed clear vinyl through the Hi Speed Soul record store. A tour has been announced that kicks off in San Diego on 9/19 at the Casbah before linking up with The Depreciation Guild who also released an astounding album Spirit Youth. I plan on being at the Casbah and Echo shows and you should too.

Film School Tour 2010

Sept 19 – San Diego, CA – The Casbah*
Sept 20 – Tucson, AZ - Plush
Sept 22 – Dallas, TX – The Nightmare**
Sept 23 – Austin, TX – The Parish** #
Sept 24 – Baton Rouge, LA – Spanish Moon
Sept 25 – Atlanta, GA – The Masquerade
Sept 27 – Chapel Hill, NC – Local 506

with The Depreciation Guild:
Sept 28 – Washington, DC – DC9
Sept 29 – Philadelphia, PA – Johnny Brenda’s
Sept 30 – Brooklyn, NY – Glasslands $
Oct 01 – New York, NY – Mercury Lounge
Oct 02 – Cambridge, MA – TT The Bears
Oct 03 – Montreal, QC, Canada – Pop Montreal at Casa Del Popolo
Oct 04 – Toronto, ON, Canada – El Mocambo
Oct 06 – St Louis, MO – Firebird
Oct 07 – Newport, KY – Southgate House @
Oct 08 – Chicago, IL – Schubas Tavern
Oct 09 – Milwaukee, WI – The Cactus Club
Oct 10 – Minneapolis, MN – 7th Street Entry
Oct 11 – Omaha, NE – The Waiting Room w/ The Depreciation Guild
Oct 12 – Denver, CO – Hi Dive
Oct 13 – Salt Lake City, UT – Urban Lounge
Oct 15 – Seattle, WA – Sunset Tavern
Oct 16 – Portland, OR – Mississippi Studios

With Love Like Fire
Oct 19 – San Francisco, CA – The Independent
Oct 20 – Santa Cruz – The Crepe Place
Oct 21 – Los Angeles, CA – The Echo

* performing with Dream Tiger
** performing with TV Torso
# performing with Monahans
$ performing with Home Video
@ performing with The Harlequins

Friday, August 13, 2010

Rush at Gibson Amphitheater


Could any band really "open" for Rush? Instead of subjecting their fans to a potentially questionable opening act, more bands should follow the path that Rush has blazed by opening for themselves. Clocking in with a two and a half hour set, it is no wonder that Rush continue to sell out arenas across the world.


Dubbed the "Time Machine" tour, Rush dialed back the clocks to play their classic album Moving Pictures in its entirety. Giving fans a few extra moments to reach their seats, Rush displayed their sense of humor with a hilarious opening skit reenacting the "Real History of Rush" that somehow worked in the themes of sausage and a time machine while explaining the fictitious name change from Rash to Rush.


The intimacy and sound of the Gibson Amphitheater was spectacular compared to their last visit to Los Angeles when they played the expansive Nokia Theater. "The Spirit of The Radio" ignited the crowd early with its fleet fingered guitar runs by Alex Lifeson. Watching Rush operate live is an experience beyond description. Their musicianship is beyond reproach with each member equally revered as being at the top of their game.


Songs like "Time Stand Still" and "Presto" kept the fervent fans out of their seats while they sang and cheered along. As I was walking up the stairs to quickly check in my camera, I spotted a ten year old boy playing air bass along to "Stick It Out". It is safe to say that the Rush is still winning over new generations of fans with each tour. Newer songs like "Workin' Them Angels" and "Faithless" easily blended into the older material on the setlist.


"Freewill" was particularly sharp with an precise ending that left my jaw on the floor in disbelief. Stationed behind his Roland X7, Geddy Lee easily recreated the '80s synth textures of "Subdivisions" before crushing the solo on his Minimoog. Taking a thirty minute intermission allowed the crowd to recharge and grab a few more beers before the band returned with another video skit introducing the album Moving Pictures.


"Tom Sawyer" , "Red Barchetta", "YYZ" and "Limelight" all in a row? Are you kidding me? It was an auditory overload. The visual aspect was also impressive with live video feeds showing impressive fretwork and drumming . Even the lighting rig was impressive as it lowered and shifted its shape into a spider with its legs emitting different colored lights. Some of the small details such as eyeballs popping up underneath Peart's drumkit during "The Camera Eye" continued to improve the overall Rush experience.


Their new tune "Caravan" was stunning with its shifting time signatures punctuated by blasts from air jets positioned on stage. Undoubtedly the crown jewel of Rush's set though would be the drum solo by Peart that stylistically morphed from tribal to swing jazz. "2112" was greeted with chants of "Hey!" by the fans as Lifeson and Lee walked to the front of the stage to incite the fans. After the blazing "La Villa Strangiato", Rush fittingly closed the evening with "Working Man".