Monday, September 13, 2010

Tame Impala at the Silverlake Lounge


Many months ago, Tame Impala sold out two shows at the Silverlake Lounge in support of their excellent debut album, Innerspeaker. Tame Impala seemed shocked that they were playing two sold out crowds halfway across the world from their hometown of Perth, Australia.

While its unfair to judge bands by their pedal boards, Guitarist and Lead Singer Kevin Parker definitely knew what he was doing in the pedal department. Most of the crowd couldn't see Parker adjust the Small Stone Phaser pedal with his feet mid song during his guitar solo.

Parker's live guitar tone matched well with the recordings and if Tame Impala continue on the same upward trajectory, they definitely could easily find a place alongside AC/DC and Wolfmother as well respected Australian rock bands.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Smashing Pumpkins at the Lobero Theater


Instead of frying in the sun all day at FYFest, I opted for a gorgeous sunny drive up the 101 freeway to stop at the Lobero Theater in Santa Barbara to see a stunning performance by the Smashing Pumpkins.

Smashing Pumpkins

The Pumpkins continue to tour in support of their ambitious project Teargarden by Kaleidyscope. While many doubts have been raised by the new line-up, I didn't get a chance to quell those fears when I photographed their scintillating performance at the Viper Room.

From the outset, it was a full on rock show. The storming chords of "Astral Planes" started to shake the old foundation of the Lobero Theater. The elderly ushers at the venue quickly placed their earplugs. I can't remember prior live versions of "Ava Adore" ending so furiously as the band was extremely sharp.

The opening notes of "Drown" made the drive worth it alone as it remains one of my top 5 favorite Smashing Pumpkins. While I was hoping for an extended feedback solo, Billy Corgan decayed the closing notes from "Drown" into the accelerated bombast of "As Rome Burns". Jeff Schroeder and Corgan end the song with fleet fingered harmonizing solos which is something I never saw when James Iha was in the band.

"A Song For A Son" was punctuated with a huge gong hit by drumming phenom Mike Byrne. Byrne looked like the Karate Kid with his headband but it should be noted Byrne has better chops. No traces of electronic drum machines appeared for "Eye" which built slowly until reaching full steam propelled by Byrne's busy drumming. "Bullet With Butterfly Wings" had Billy stop mid song and mockingly goad the audience into singing along stating they didn't know the lyrics.

While I'm used to fifteen minute of guitar dominant versions of "United States", Corgan curtailed his guitar solo in favor of letting Byrne take center stage for a drum solo. It is a gutsy proposition for Byrne to undertake but he managed to pull it off. Slowing the tempo, it was exciting to hear the new mid tempo ballad "My Love Is Winter" which featured a characteristic Corgan guitar solo.

"Perfect" had some extra kick due to Nicole Fiorentino adding some extra bass notes to the groove. Corgan seemed to be enjoying himself on stage complimenting Santa Barbara on their beautiful people, cheap wine and legal weed. This diatribe led into Corgan jokingly telling Byrne that the song "Cherub Rock" kick started the alternative revolution when Byrne was just a youngster.

"Stand Inside Your Love" was excellent but I still would recommend Schroeder uses an ebow for that true to the recording sustain. The Pumpkins closed their main set with a speedy rendition of "Tarantula" with Corgan peeling off another sliding down the fretboard guitar solo. The roughly 650 capacity venue quickly chanted for an encore that had Corgan appear by himself to sing the vocals for "Disarm".

A lot of heads started to bang in unison for the chugging guitars of "Freak". While giving a shout out to the radio station KJEE, Corgan asked if the station played Collective Soul before hilariously teaming up with Schroeder to play the opening notes of Collective Soul's '90s hit "Shine". The screaming octaves of "Zero" closed out the evening as it left no doubt that the Pumpkins are at the top of their game.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Crowded House at Club Nokia


It is hard to believe that it has been three years since I last caught Crowded House at the Greek Theater in August of 2007. Armed with their impressive new album Intriguer, Crowded House delighted their faithful fans with a set that made Club Nokia seem like an intimate living room.

Lawrence Arabia

Supporting their home country of New Zealand, Crowded House invited fellow countrymen Lawrence Arabia to warm up the crowd. Fronted by the affable James Milne, Lawrence Arabia worked through a delightful batch of hooky indie pop songs.

Crowded House

Crowded House is often overlooked for their vastly rich discography and splendid musicianship. Neil Finn sounded even better than I remembered as he gently strummed his shiny gold top Les Paul for "I Feel Possessed". Nick Seymour was plucking away at his Fender Bass while Matt Sherrod added his smooth drum shuffle to the mix.

"Saturday Son" had Finn alternating between his microKorg keyboard and his Les Paul for the upbeat echoey guitar lines while Mark Hart added some slide guitar licks over the top. The most entertaining technical difficulty to occur in a live concert in quite sometime happened when Finn's guitar wasn't working and he improvised an impromptu "He's Working On My Sound" '80s synthesizer jam.

Like true professionals, Crowded House easily regained their stride with the shimmery "Fall at Your Feet". Seymour switched over to the piano for a few bars and Finn grabbed his red Gretsch guitar for the upbeat "Don't Stop Now" with its singing guitar notes. The rambling gallop of "Whispers and Moans" strategically rises and falls as do most Finn penned songs.

Sitting down behind the keyboard, Finn tapped out the somber notes of "Pour Le Monde" as a lone spotlight shined down upon him. After dedicating "Message To My Girl" to Anna and Chris, the vocal crowd inquired in what key the song was written. Finn responded C sharp with Seymour quickly adding "the key of LUV".

Prior shows have included Finn's talented son Liam. Keeping things in the family Finn's wife Sharon appeared on stage to provide backing vocals for "Isolation" and "Archer's Arrows". "Hole in The River" had Neil Finn rocking his wah pedal back and forth while playing the understated muted guitar chords. Transitioning to their biggest hit "Don't Dream It's Over", a sea of cameras emerged from the crowd for Youtube posting purposes.

A four song encore still couldn't satisfy the Crowded House faithful. Their interlude of Talking Heads "Once In A Lifetime" during "Weather with You" was phenomenal as they closed out the evening with "Better Be Home Soon". It is hard to believe that Club Nokia could be more intimate than the Greek Theatre but that can happen when you are as talented as Crowded House.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Ratatat Tickets and Album Giveaway


Ratatat kicks off their tour in support of their latest album LP4 tonight in Montreal. In case you have any doubts about how awesome they are live, the fact they opened for Daft Punk should abolish any concerns.

I am giving away two pairs of tickets to their House of Blues San Diego show on 9/19 along with a copy of their new album. Email me at amchemistcontest (at) to enter to win. The contest closes on 9/16.

Here is the list of their upcoming stops:
9/7 Metropolis Montreal, QU
9/8 Sound Academy Toronto, ON
9/9 Royal Oak Royal Oak Music Theater MI
9/10 Riviera Theater Chicago, IL
9/11 First Avenue Minneapolis, MN
9/14 Showbox SoDo Seattle , WA
9/15 Commodore Ballroom Vancouver, BC
9/16 Crystal Ballroom Portland, OR
9/17 Warfield Theater San Francisco, CA
9/18 Majestic Ventura Theater Ventura, CA
9/19 House Of Blues San Diego, CA
9/21 Club Nokia Los Angeles , CA
9/22 House Of Blues Las Vegas NV
9/24 Fox Theater Pomona , CA
9/25 Venue Of Scottsdale Scottsdale, AZ
9/27 Stubbs BBQ Austin, TX
9/28 Palladium Ballroom Dallas, TX
9/29 George's Majestic Lounge Fayetteville, AR
9/30 McAlister Auditorium New Orleans, LA
10/1 The Masquerade Atlanta, GA
10/2 Amos' Southend Charlotte, NC
10/5 House Of Blues Boston, MA
10/6 Electric Factory Philadelphia, PA
10/7 930 Club Washington, DC
10/8 Terminal 5 New York, NY
10/9 Terminal 5 New York, NY