Early in his rare solo acoustic headlining performance at Notes & Words 2018, Dave Grohl at once revealed his laid back humor and his insightful personal pondering on life and how it intersected with the feelings of the evening in his stream of consciousness commentary leading into one of his famous Foo Fighters songs: “As I was thinking about the setlist earlier… 15 minutes ago… [laughs] I thought that maybe that I would begin the set with this song, but then decided not to… But I think that this song is one of the ones that makes most sense tonight. I wrote this song in a period of my life where I was down… and I finally stopped and took at look at everything I had and all the things that I’d taken for granted. A wonderful home and appreciation of life, and love, and my friends. And the good things, and the good people, and the big picture and how we’re all connected in some way. I wrote this song and it’s called “Times Like These”. Every year, there is magic all around at the Notes & Words: Benefit For UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital event, and it was off the charts again Saturday night, as per tradition. The format remained the same – entertainment including both writers and musicians on stage – and this year featured musicians Dave Grohl with Emmett Reeed and Oakland School for the Arts, as well as writer George Saunders and, as always, writer and event host Kelly Corrigan. The highlight of the evening for sure was watching Dave perform on stage with his two very talented daughters, Violet and Harper Grohl. Not just the music, but the opportunity to see a loving family share with the crowd in such an amazing, candid and joyful way. And all this good will went toward making new happy beginnings as seen with some of the real life stories shared by families who have been helped by UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital.
“We gotta remember and identify and know that the only thing we gotta fear with the craziness and the madness and some of the very difficult evil things that have happened, is not to be human, is not to be cooperative, not to be looking out for one another, but to be spreading the good stuff everywhere…” Midnight Oil’s (“the Oils”) Peter Garrett, in his preface to “Put Down That Weapon”, the band’s second single off of their seminal 1987 album, Diesel and Dust. Some 30 years later, lyrics from the song and the ideas that they invoke seem as poignant as ever. The band has been mostly off the scene as Midnight Oil since they dissolved in 2002, so with their 2017 reformation and world tour, they have made an unexpected return to much acclaim and excitement. I was a huge fan of that 1987 album as it blew up in the U.S. at the time, and I had never had a chance to see them perform live until this show at Fox Theater in Oakland on Saturday night. It was nothing short of incredible, and will certainly rank as one of my favorite gigs of the year. They are touring a lot in 2017 and crossing back to cities already visited, so I give my highest recommendation to turn out for one of these events…
“You never know who you’re saving; you never know what future you’re making possible…” Kelly Corrigan speaking to a packed Fox Theater in Oakland, with 1,615 people in attendance on Saturday night for the 8th annual Notes & Words: Benefit For UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital. As per their format, entertainment included both writers and musicians on stage. This year featured musicians Daveed Diggs, The Head and the Heart, and Vocal Rush and writers Michael Lewis, Calvin Trillin, and writer (and event host) Kelly Corrigan. The Oakland School for the Arts Chamber Choir also performed. Notes & Words is an annual benefit concert created to support the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland; the Children’s Hospital & Research Center Oakland provides the highest quality medical care to children throughout California. An intimate show, it shared many personal stories and perspectives by way of the personalities on stage as well as video presentations offering real context by showcasing some of the patients of the Children’s Hospital.
“Oakland, San Francisco, how the hell you doing tonight? We played here almost six years ago opening up for somebody… Who here was there? Was anybody there at the show? I’m just sayin’, I do see a lot of people who have been with us all six years, and for all of you who have come to all these shows, all these years, thank you so much!” Andrew Wessen, guitarist of Grouplove, a band who always has their gratitude and appreciation on display. They played a scorcher at a packed Fox Theater on Friday night, supporting their third studio album, Big Mess. Just one date into their new U.S. tour running through the end of the year (followed by dates in Australia), they sounded and performed better than ever. One of my favorite live acts, they put on a high energy show that had the crowd bouncing throughout, embracing the excellent new songs as much as the favorites. Definitely a must see tour. The latest album, produced by Captain Cuts (Grouplove’s Ryan Rabin) and Phil Ek is characterized by their signature sound and style, and may be their best yet. With their “Big Mess World Tour”, one dollar for every ticket sold will be donated to the organization charity: water to help fund water projects like drilled wells, spring protections, and BioSand filters that help provide clean water to communities around the world. [Read more…]
“…that’s the dream, that together we can do amazing stuff for the right reasons!” Author and event organizer Kelly Corrigan was left nearly speechless on stage as she reflected back on the amazing evening that closed with Coldplay’s Chris Martin and performers from the Oakland School for the Arts covering David Bowie’s “Life On Mars?”. All part of the annual Notes & Words: Benefit For UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland at Fox Theater on Saturday night. The sold out crowd of sponsors, donors and attendees took in a wide ranging selection of entertainment that also included a rocking performance from The Stone Foxes and readings from B.J. Novak and Dave Eggers. There was a lot of emotion throughout the night, though the majority of it was good humor and contagious joyfulness.
“It’s been quite a while since we’ve played here…” Lauren Mayberry of CHVRCHES at the first of two back-to-back sold out shows at the Fox Theater in Oakland on Monday night. With the incredible Wolf Alice supporting, it was a stellar evening of music from two bands in the midst of a huge upswing in both talent and popularity. Late last year, both bands put out new albums, CHVRCHES with their Every Open Eye (their second) and Wolf Alice bowed their debut LP, My Love Is Cool. I had opportunity to see Wolf Alice at all three of their Bay Area shows last year and CHVRCHES with their “Not So Silent Night” appearance in December, so it has been fascinating to see them evolve and grow with both their studio recordings and their live shows. All in all, an evening that offered a look at the future of music… Wolf Alice with their alternative rock and roll and CHVRCHES with their synth pop. [Read more…]
“We need a new story, Oakland. Sometimes, you just gotta make it up. It’s called self-preservation.” It was a show that ran a full gamut of emotions, as the ever reclusive Prince opened up to a crowd of what felt like dedicated fans of the iconic artist. The show at Paramount Theatre in Oakland was put up for sale just a few days prior and sold out instantly, so it was likely that those sorts of fans with their ear to the ground were the only ones who had a shot at getting them. Though pricey, it was well worth the price of admission as Prince put up a “fan service” setlist that included many hits as well as favorites that you might not expect from The Purple One. Bathed in a digital kaleidoscope of light throughout the show, Prince (with ginormous afro and shoes with flashing red lights) sat, stood at, danced around, and at one point even lay on top of a grand piano painted an appropriate shade of his signature color. Billed as “Prince: Piano and a Microphone”, he started this concept at his own Paisley Park in Minnesota last month. But it was so much more than that… I think Prince stripped down inspires him to open up so much more, both with his emotions and his music. Truly an unforgettable experience. [Read more…]
“I’ve got to say, you’re the funkiest crowd we’ve ever had…” Music legend Nile Rodgers with Chic at Fox Theater in Oakland on Saturday night, playing not only through hits by Chic but number one hits Rodgers has produced over the past several decades with top, iocnic artists. Watching Nile Rodgers and the amazing Chic on stage really underscored how he is all about collaboration; he seems to have found his purpose in life early on in bringing the best out of other artists who were truly gifted in their own right… helping them make art that transcended what either could do on their own. Not just a beautiful way to create, but also an inspired way to go through life, bettering other people as well as yourself in the process. And then there is that music… all of it markedly up beat and happy and optimistic. But Nile Rodgers also appears to be a humble man on stage, and that reflects his life’s work as well, working in the background to help other artists and their songs and talent shine. So it was quite special to see Nile Rodgers and Chic do a full concert live on stage (they will also be performing with Duran Duran in their upcoming tour). What music, what talent, and what a way to bring it all to life in a way that makes the crowd feel that they are part of it. Though it is early into 2016, this will certainly be one of my own favorite and most memorable shows of the year.
“So what’s up Oakland? I’m the one who’s up? Oh baby, you just made my day. Thank you. I’m up, we’re all up tonight. Well, far be it from me to state the obvious, but it’s incredible being here tonight. It’s such a privilege to be able to play for you; to sing for you. Every day I wake up and I have the to opportunity to do this, this thing that we love, I kiss the ground. You’ve got a lot going on in your great city this weekend. Well, apart from me; but thank you very much. One of the reasons we’re up here… to have fun. Which is essentially the message I want to give to everyone tonight, whether you’re in the back, whether you’re in the middle, whether you’re right at the end, I want you to have fun and understand that I see you. I feel you.” The multi-Grammy Award winning singer-songwriter, Seal, taking a moment to express his feelings to a packed Fox Theater in Oakland on the eve of Super Bowl weekend. Having met the incredible vocalist years ago – that last bit about seeing and feeling the audience – that could not be more true. Seal has been prolific since his splash in music with “Crazy” back in 1991, with his own original work as well as fantastic covers of classic songs, particularly in the soul genre. With this one off show this past week, the focus was on his latest (ninth) studio album, 7, released by Warner Bros. last year, with a compelling set list framed by some of his biggest hits. One of the most earnest and talented live performers in music today, he did not disappoint with an engaging show that left me revisiting his catalog and dreaming about seeing him in concert again soon. [Read more…]
Not So Silent Night (NSSN) is Live 105’s “Annual Holiday Rock Show”, with 2015 bringing it back from a two-night event to a one night show. As I’ve mentioned in the past, I tend to avoid the massive outdoor Summer-style festivals (too hot, dirty, sweaty and crowded, though I did cover Live 105’s BFD this year – see Part 1 & Part 2), so I really enjoy these indoor ones that happen in the colder weather. With this one being an annual event, they are extremely well organized and somehow improve upon their formula year after year. The night kicked off early at about 5:30 and ran up towards midnight, so it was a very long evening of excellent artists doing their thing (with scant 5-minute breaks in-between as the did quick stage rotations). It was also an interesting mix of artists, with newer bands as well as some that have put in a lot more years, with Weezer topping the billing. All in all, it was a great line-up that flowed well and all performers seemed to step up and deliver to their own fans as well as making some new ones.