Dale Bozzio, Missing Persons & Clive Farrington, When in Rome at The Karman Bar | Laguna Niguel, California | 7/18/2015 (Concert Review + Photos)

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Music from the 1980s continues to permeate pop culture today – it seems like every commercial break cycle includes a familiar New Wave hit song repurposed for selling something or other.  In addition – and on the positive end of the spectrum – we sometimes have the opportunity to catch a multi-artist live concert with a few or a variety of 80s artists perform at the same event.  One such event was held at The Karman Bar in Orange County, providing a double headlining show with Dale Bozzio from Missing Persons and Clive Farrington from When In Rome.  Taking a step back, one of the most interesting things about this show is how the two principals from the two very different 80s bands collectively covered the decade in music, with Missing Persons originally together from 1980 to 1986 and When In Rome being active from 1987 to 1990.  So listening to their music at this event, there was also a contrast in sound from the beginnings of that decade (with it’s more traditional rock and roll emphasis of vocals, guitar, bass and drums) to that at the end (with vocals and keyboards/synth and electronic beats at the forefront).  In any event, it is of course awesome to see two key players from the era keeping their music alive and turning out fans to celebrate it.

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Aerosmith (Blue Army Tour 2015) at Lake Tahoe Outdoor Arena at Harvey’s | Stateline, Nevada | 7/3/2015 (Concert Review + Photos)

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“Remember baby, the lake may be cold, but the light at the end of the tunnel may be you…”  The final words from the immortal Steven Tyler as he turned his back to the crowd and strutted topless down the ramp and into the bright lights glowing from the back of the stage, as “Bad To The Bone” played him out.  Performing at Harvey’s Outdoor Arena in South Lake Tahoe as part of their Summer Concert Series two years running, the explosive live show by Aerosmith kept a sold out crowd on their feet for over two hours.  In my own opinion, Aerosmith is not just the best live rock and roll band touring today, but maybe of all time.  They do pretty much everything better than anyone else, and they have so many hits in their arsenal that it just builds and builds and builds all night.  Steven Tyler was born to do what he does, and even at 67 years old, he does it like no one else (and last night appeared to be have more energy than any of the 7,000 people in attendance).  As much as he is the ultimate front man and performer, he is absolutely beaming when “Joe Fucking Perry”, “on guitar for 40 fucking years” is beside him, bringing the familiar riffs to life in a way that seems to be equal parts passion and effortlessness.  Their songs feel like they were made to be performed live, and maybe more than any other band today, they know how to put on a show that’s brilliant no matter where you are, from up close to far away in the bleachers.  Even if you are not a dedicated Aerosmith fan, I would say above any other band today – if you are a fan of ANY contemporary music – you’ve got to turn out to their show at least once, just so you have a new benchmark from which to judge all other concerts.  It really doesn’t get any better when you consider every critical element that goes into a live concert event.  They’ve earned the title, “America’s Greatest Rock and Roll Band”.

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Martin Gore of Depeche Mode (DJ Set) at SOhO Restaurant & Music Club | Santa Barbara, California | 6/27/2015 (Concert Review + Photos)

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Depeche Mode has been my favorite band since Black Celebration came out, so when I came across the new of this special DJ set show at SOhO Restaurant & Music Club in Santa Barbara, I was excited for an opportunity to see the man behind some of my all-time favorite songs express himself in a completely different setting.  Part of SOhO’s 20th Anniversary Fundraising Show Series, it did not disappoint.  Martin Gore played his unique style of live music for around two hours.  It was amazing to see the man at work, and being close enough to see his own facial expressions reacting to his own music.

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Live 105’s BFD 2015 at Shoreline Amphitheatre – PART TWO (MAIN STAGE) | Mountainview, California | 6/6/2015 (Concert Review + Photos)

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Live 105’s BFD 2015 festival at Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountainview, California marked the 21st time that the annual event has been held.  Live 105, “The Bay Area’s Alternative”, had a well curated line-up of known and emerging acts, covering a wide range of musical genres that all fall under the “alternative” banner, including 15 local acts.  All of this resulted in a quick sell out for the entire show.  With a vast line-up, they managed to squeeze it all into one day, with two “Festival Stages” that alternated back and forth throughout the day (to mitigate any downtime – it was literally non-stop music) as well as a “Subsonic Tent” and “Soundcheck Local Band Stage”, which ran concurrently.  It all lead up to the “Main Stage” acts within the Shoreline Amphitheatre itself, which ran back to back through the night.  A fantastic show that seemed to come off without a hitch, playing to over 20,000 fans.  This article features my PART TWO coverage, which focuses on the nighttime “Main Stage” artists and performances.

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Live 105’s BFD 2015 at Shoreline Amphitheatre – PART ONE (FESTIVAL STAGE) | Mountainview, California | 6/6/2015 (Concert Review + Photos)

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Last weekend was Live 105’s BFD 2015 festival at Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountainview, California.  Representing the 21st time that this annual event has been held, it sold out in advance of the concert date on June 6th.  Live 105, “The Bay Area’s Alternative”, had a well curated line-up of known and emerging acts, covering a wide range of musical genres that all fall under the “alternative” banner, including 15 local acts.  With a vast line-up, they managed to squeeze it all into one day, with two “Festival Stages” that alternated back and forth throughout the day (to mitigate any downtime – it was literally non-stop music) as well as a “Subsonic Tent” and “Soundcheck Local Band Stage”, which ran concurrently.  It all lead up to the “Main Stage” acts within the Shoreline Amphitheatre itself, which ran back to back through the night.  A fantastic show that seemed to come off without a hitch, playing to over 20,000 fans.  This article features my PART ONE coverage, which focuses on the daytime “Festival Stage” artists and performances.

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Meg Myers at The Boardwalk | Orangevale, California | 6/5/2015 (Concert Review + Photos)

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I usually open my concert review articles with a quote from one of the artists on stage that night, though with Meg Myers at The Boardwalk on Thursday night, it would have been words in reference to asking some loudmouthed people in the venue to shut up.  More on that in a moment.  In spite of the ongoing source of annoyance to those who showed up to enjoy the music and the artists who came to perform, Meg and her band put on a stellar performance.  I’ve been a strong supporter of Meg and her music since I first saw her open for the Pixies in Los Angeles two years ago, and she has continued to build on her works and cultivating fans who understand her and her music.  Her debut album, Sorry, is due next month, and it will be interesting to see how much it fuels her career and where it will take her coming into 2016.  The single, “Sorry”, has been a big hit for her.  She is, in my opinion, one of the most creative and interesting (and exciting) artists active today, and her live show is definitely one not to miss.

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MisterWives at The Independent | San Francisco, California | 6/4/2015 (Concert Review + Photos)

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“Holy shit!  San!  Fran!  Cisco!  Oh my God.  Well, I may be really fucking tired…  I danced my ass off!  I have sit down so I don’t have a heart attack!  … just in case you missed what we were trying to say…  San Francisco, you are fucking amazing!”  MisterWives’ Mandy Lee, after coming back on stage for their encore, taking a seat behind the drum kit.  That encore opened with a “fucking amazing” cover of “Uptown Funk”.  This is the moment where they really showed off how each member of the group is an exceptional musician, as they went through an extended jam session that really showcased their music talents and ability to intuitively wander about a song and squeeze every last bit of sonic confection out of it.  I first saw the New York pop band performing as part of the KNPB television series, Cargo Live at Whitney Peak Hotel in Reno, and came away feeling that it was a band destined for a very bright future.  That feeling was cemented Thursday night, as they have matured even more as a live act.  Their debut album, Our Own House, has since been released, and fueled them through an hour and a half show.  The theme of the night, for them, seemed to be an earnest love for The City by the Bay, with Mandy becoming choked up at the love being showered onto the band throughout the concert.  They are definitely a young act with much larger stages waiting for them in the not too distant future, as long as they keep on doing what they are doing.

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Wolf Alice at The Independent | San Francisco, California | 5/14/2015 (Concert Review + Photos)

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I’d like to thank our two friends down here who have been down here all day; it was crazy for us to have any of you here in San Francisco all the way from London…”  Ellie Rowsell’s gratitude expressed to the two Wolf Alice fans who came a long way to see the UK alternative four piece play in the U.S.  I’d just seen their show at Popscene in San Francisco only three months ago, and I could not wait to catch another one of their dynamic live concerts.  Having since had an opportunity to get schooled in their music released to date, I have found Wolf Alice to be one of the most exciting newer bands recording and performing today.  With their debut album – My Love Is Cool – due next month, I am confident that their music will propel them to greater success and larger stages.  They have a real set of gifts and talents with their songwriting and originality, and the contemporary yet timelessness of their music which features some touches and influences that span many disparate music genres and eras.  They are the real deal.

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Howard Jones at Harlow’s Restaurant & Nightclub | Sacramento, California | 5/13/2015 (Concert Review + Photos)

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You gotta keep believing in what you wanna do; don’t give up…”  Howard Jones on stage at Harlow’s Restaurant & Nightclub in Sacramento on Wednesday night, playing to a sold out crowd in an intimate space holding about 450 fans.  He was reflecting back on when he was working in a factory as a very young man, and writing “New Song”.  His debut single – released in 1983 – is all about optimism… and that is in my estimation what the man is still about today, some three decades later.  Throughout his performance, he was beaming with joy and fun between each song, chatting with fans and tossing out anecdotes and familiar lyrics that can still be instructive today (“try and enjoy the here and now… the future will take care of itself somehow!”).  But it’s not just the classic tunes that had people moving.  Having released his 11th studio album this year – Engage – he is as creative and relevant as ever, with fresh new songs.  My own feeling is that in all this time since the 80s have come and gone, he best represents not just the style of music but the feelings of that era, and it is awesome that he continues to spread his work and message in live shows like this one.  Things can only get better, indeed.

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MS MR at Popscene at Rickshaw Stop | San Francisco, California | 5/7/2015 (Concert Review + Photos)

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“My only birthday wish is to fucking bring the house down……”  MS MR playing Popscene at Rickshaw Stop on Thursday night, being a traditional Popscene show that runs late into the night, it literally became Lizzy Plapinger’s birthday at some point during the show.  When, exactly, was anybody’s guess, as she and her partner, Max Hershenow, blasted through hit songs and songs yet to be released at the sold out show in San Francisco.  Keeping with the duality of their performing and recording name, the old and the new songs split the exactly hour long set in about in half, giving fans a preview of the upcoming sophomore album, due out in July on Columbia Records.  MS MR easily sold out two shows at the much larger Fillmore last year (see past review), so it was special seeing them playing a smaller, intimate venue.  The new music is fantastic, and shows a lot of growth for the duo as the expand their musical horizons.  I ranked their debut, Secondhand Rapture, as my favorite album of 2013, so I really look forward to seeing how the studio versions of the full album measure up to the brilliant Popscene show this past week.

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