As with last year’s 2012 Year In Review, reflecting on the many shows attended in 2013 and trying to make some sense of it all was a challenge. Having attended nearly 100 events, which usually includes at least one supporting act and a headliner, as well as one 10-day festival and many multi-artist shows, I saw literally hundreds of sets. Miraculously, I can probably count on one hand the number that were “bad”, and the majority were awesome in one or more ways. Still, I feel it is important to highlight the best of the best of the best, in an attempt to celebrate an amazing year of music. You can also check out my Top 100 Concert Photos of 2013 in that separate article.
Last night was all about old school hip hop legends, with Whodini, Kurtis Blow, and Rob Base each taking the stage during V101’s Hip Hop Halloween House Party at Pano Hall inside Thunder Valley Casino Resort in Lincoln. Pioneers in what has since become a wildly popular genre of music, it was a celebration of the artists who built the foundation of hip hop, with respect paid to many of their peers who were not part of the concert, by way of mention and covers. It made for an interesting and unpredictable night of music, with legend Kurtis Blow doing his own music, like “The Breaks” (the first gold certified rap song back in 1980) as well as some unexpected works from others that followed many years later, like House of Pain’s “Jump Around”. Hip Hop has obviously changed tremendously in the past three decades, but those in attendance last night, I think, appreciate that it was probably at its best in those early years, and it is gratifying to have seen these artists do their thing on stage last night in a relatively intimate atmosphere with a great crowd, some of whom also took to the stage throughout the show.
“This is actually the first song we ever wrote… do you remember your first time?” Susan Ottaviano, vocalist for Book of Love, providing her introduction to “It’s in Your Eyes” halfway through their set at DNA Lounge in San Francisco last night, one stop in a handful of California dates this month. The New Wave synthpop band from Philadelphia, which was formed more than 30 years ago, have started working together and recording together again, and these special concerts are a part of that rebirth for the group. Based on the packed nightclub and enthusiasm of the crowd, they are not forgotten, and there was a large fan base in attendance, many of whom traveled special for the relatively intimate show. As the style of music that they helped to develop back in the 80s gains in popularity today, it is exciting to see the band active and killing it on stage as if they’ve been active all along, rather than reuniting. Hopefully it will mark the start of more to come.
I had really high expectations for this, the latest Pet Shop Boys tour… yet somehow, as I sit down to write my thoughts about their show in San Diego at the Copely Symphony Hall last night, I am left a bit speechless… Not because I have nothing to say about it, but because I have this swirling flood of thoughts in my mind, and can’t seem to form a coherent approach to the whole thing. Maybe it was the overpowering strobe lights that disrupted the circuitry in my brain. Maybe it’s because they put on one of the most brilliant shows of the year. The cover of the tour program reads, “TURN IT ON”. Not a mere concert, it was a full blown, avant-garde stage production of the highest order, with credit also due to Stuart Price with his music production and programming, Creative Director/Designer Es Devlin and Stage Director/Choreographer Lynne Page, the two colorful dancers (Merry Holden and Tom Herron) with their interesting costumes and stage presence, and many others behind the scenes. Just when you expect that they should have peaked by now, they keep blazing new paths in music and life. Real artists, they create new work (in the studio and on stage) with a palette featuring colors all their own. They obviously put a lot of thought into not just sharing their music (old and new, hits and deep cuts), but creating a captivating and memorable experience. Though the visuals were mind blowing, the arrangements were amazing, Neil’s voice sounded better than ever, and the sound quality within the venue was superb.
This article features the latest in an ongoing series of “Rock Talk” podcast audio interviews for the Rock Subculture Journal. Today’s guest is Susan Ottaviano with Book Of Love. The pioneering New Wave favorite from the 80s and early 90s will be releasing some all-new music later this year and will be playing some special live concert dates in California in October.
It’s not often that you attend a non-festival concert with ten (!) different music artists performing on the same stage in one night, all in the span of about three and a half hours. It was a pretty special event at the HP Pavilion in San Jose last night, with the Super Freestyle Explosion turning out about 7,000 fans of the predominantly Latin, electronic/synthesizer/samples-centric, and mostly mid-80s era genre of music. Representing the relatively short-lived but highly influential music scene and style for the evening was Stevie B, Lisa Lisa, Exposé, Debbie Deb, Shannon, Trinere, Johnny O, Nu Shooz, Pretty Poison, and Stacey Q. Really a remarkable line-up, to the credit of promoter ITP Records/Pacific Concert Group, for pulling together such a vast roster of artists to play through a series of highly recognizable hits to those who grew up with the music or perhaps rediscovered it later. Of course, pulling off such an event in such a time frame requires some concessions and trade offs, but in my opinion they found a near perfect balance to make for an incredible evening of 80s freestyle nostalgia.
Principal 80s New Wave, synthpop, and dance music innovators Book of Love will be playing some special concert engagements in California in October, performing headlining shows at the DNA Longue in San Francisco and New Wave Bar and That 80s Club in Southern California. A favorite of those genres, they will be bringing their special mix of music to the stage, playing favorites such as “I Touch Roses”, “Boy”, “Modigliani (Lost In Your Eyes)”, “Pretty Boys and Pretty Girls” and more. These rare live appearances at intimate clubs will likely be some of the best shows of the year for fans of New Wave music. [Read more…]
The Super Freestyle Explosion will be hitting the HP Pavilion in San Jose, California on June 29th, US Airways Center in Phoenix, Arizona on August 2nd and Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento on July 27th with an amazing line-up of popular artists that are immediately recognized by fans of the electronic dance/pop music of the 80s, much of which originated in Florida and New York. The massive line-up includes Stevie B, Lisa Lisa, Exposé, Debbie Deb, Shannon, Trinere, Johnny O, Nu Shooz, Pretty Poison, and Stacey Q. [Read more…]
This is the second and last of my 2012 “Year In Review” articles, though this one is mostly a pictorial. I went through the pictures I took at shows throughout 2012 and pulled out 100 of my favorites to republish here, in celebration of an amazing year for concerts and a fun year for me with photography. You can also check out my other Year in Review article with my Top 10 Live Music Concerts and Top 10 Studio Albums & Songs. [Read more…]
2012 was an amazing year for both new music and live concert events, and although writing this “year in review” proved to be a monumental task, it was fun for me to do it to relive some special moments and appreciate the opportunities I had over the past 12 months to find new music and attend so many awesome live shows. It’s funny because many concerts and tours are announced with little notice, so at the start of any given year, you don’t really know what to expect, and 2012 definitely held a lot of surprises. When all was said and done, I ended up going to 58 concerts in 2012, each of which featured anywhere from one to seven artists, so that is a lot of live performances.