“I don’t know if you guys will get this song or not, being that you’re from California…” part of Margo Timmins’ introduction to the last song of the night, “Fuck, I Hate The Cold”, at Yoshi’s San Francisco last night. If music is the soundtrack to our lives, songs by the Cowboy Junkies must be intended for those more soul-searching and contemplative, raw moments. They slow things down a bit and make you feel more thoughtful and introspective. The band – a real family affair, together and producing new music and touring for more than 30 years – last year completed Volume 4 of the Nomad series… an ambitious four albums added to their catalog over a scant 18 months. The concluding work in that series, Wilderness, explored themes that included “fragility, emptiness, loneliness, beauty, chance, loss, desperation“; though timeless areas of focus, it all seems especially fitting for these times, with much of their music being a bit of post-modern Blues.
LL Cool J Headlines “Kings of the Mic” Tour with Ice Cube, Public Enemy, De La Soul; Releases “Authentic”
LL Cool J, who is everywhere of late, starring on NCIS: Los Angeles, hosting the Grammy Awards, and today releasing his 13th studio album, Authentic. His “Kings of the Mic” tour kicks off in late May on the West Coast and runs through early July, wrapping things up at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles. Accompanying the prolific artist will be Ice Cube, Public Enemy, De La Soul, and DJ Z-Trip. [Read more...]
Just when you think you know what to expect from a Crystal Castles concert, a naked man casually walks on stage to tend to his drum kit (not a euphemism), part of the second of two supporting bands. But of course the real show starts with the main set… and with Crystal Castles, it’s as much about the experience surrounding the music as it is the music itself. While Alice Glass and Ethan Kath don’t really have anything to say in-between songs during their thumping (with many thumps courtesy of touring drummer Christopher Chartrand) high energy shows, they certainly know how to entertain and excite once they take the stage. With their unconventional sound, seizure-inducing lighting effects, and interactivity (by way of Alice diving into the audience), a Crystal Castles show overloads the senses… so much unfamiliar and unexpected for your eyes, ears, and brain to process. Whatever your take on their brand of experimental electronic/synthpop/synthpunk music, you certainly can’t consider their live shows to be boring or uneventful. A band born to perform live, for sure. Their studio recordings are fantastic (and their third studio album, (III) is excellent), but you really need to see them live to understand their music, and get the full Crystal Castles experience.
“I ain’t gonna waste a lot of time talking. All I’m gonna tell you is this… For the next two and a half hours, I promise to take you on a roller coaster ride you will never forget…” A pledge from the Bon Jovi front man, Jon Bon Jovi, about 15 minutes into their supporting act-free “An Evening With…” concert for their “Because We Can Tour” at the massive HP Pavilion in San Jose last night, which appeared near filled to its 17,496 capacity. Admittedly, I am not a dedicated Bon Jovi follower – I am a big fan of a handful of hits – so I don’t feel as though I was the intended audience. Having said that, I tried to imagine how I would take it all in if I were a fan, and I still find the roller coaster metaphor challenging to wrap my head around, as I found the show to be, for lack of a better description… ill-suited, and frankly boring… for such a large venue. While Richie Sambora did not make it through the tour to appear at this last date on the U.S. leg of their journey in support of the new What About Now album, I can’t imagine his being part of last night’s show would have been enough to overcome the shortcomings (and fill-in Phil X was fine). Bon Jovi seems like a genuine, appreciative, kind guy, but at least from my perspective, maybe he arrived last night and forgot to load that six string on his back.
Prince with 3rdEyeGirl (Live Out Loud Tour) at DNA Lounge | San Francisco, California | Day 2 “Early Show” 4/24/2013 (Concert Review)
“How do you like your rock ‘n roll? I don’t know about you, but I like mine funky.” Early on in Prince’s “Early Show” Wednesday night – the second evening of his two-night engagement with 3rdEyeGirl at the tiny 800-capacity DNA Lounge in San Francisco – he let us know what we were in store for over the following hour and a half. And that was the theme of the entire night… funk. Since I already gushed over how the “Late Show” the evening before was one of the best concerts I’d ever been to in my life, I was hoping for more of the same. Well, it was another epic show, but somehow was altogether different from the show the night before. This gave me a different perspective on these concerts, which as precision-driven as Prince is, the concerts overall seem very much like a ripping and spontaneous jam session. A perfect collision of the planned and the unplanned… I got the feeling that there is an overall framework, and incredible planning and timing in all of it, but within that framework is a genius at work – inspired, reacting, and making up brilliant music set pieces as he goes along. He’s not there to please any particular sensibility or set of expectations. He’s there to rock the place out. And boy did he deliver. The highlight for me was, funny enough, when he took over the bass guitar and played that thing in a way I’ve never seen or heard a bass played before. And it was all about funk, without any doubt. $250 plus fees for these shows is a high point of entry, but had I known what I was in for, I honestly would have found a way to go to all four shows in San Francisco this week, they were that amazing. The must-see show of the year, hands down. [Read more...]
Prince with 3rdEyeGirl (Live Out Loud Tour) at DNA Lounge | San Francisco, California | Day 1 “Late Show” 4/23/2013 (Concert Review)
I’ve been to a lot of concerts in my life, and for a variety of reasons had never been to a Prince show before last night (as much as I rate him among my favorite artists). I can say, hands down, he is truly the most brilliant performer I’ve ever seen. It is all so effortless and mind-blowing that I can’t really put it all into words (or pictures – no photos were permitted, even from cell phones). Prince and his new all-girl band 3rdEyeGirl literally sucked all of the oxygen out of the 800 capacity DNA Lounge in San Francisco for his second and final show on Day 1 of his two-day engagement. The only negative was the idea that it was all at some point going to end, but thankfully, I am going to get a second chance for this once in a lifetime experience tonight for the early show on Day 2 at the same fantastic venue, that almost felt as if it was designed to host these very special shows. Not only one of the best concerts of the year, one of the best concerts I’ve ever been to… ever.
The Mountain Winery has announced this year’s Summer Concert Series, in conjunction with AXS, all kicking off May 24th with Juanes and running through October 6th with Bonnie Raitt closing out the season. With a few pre-sales having happened this week, the general sale of tickets starts April 22nd on AXS.com. [Read more...]
“Because we’re sentimental folks, and we like symmetry, and we like to tie things up. And we like to make amends, and we love to give thanks. So thank you for being here tonight.“ Shirley Manson from Garbage opened up to the fans in attendance at The Pearl Concert Theater at The Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas last night, as the concert marked their return back to where it all started one year ago, and thus the U.S. leg of their world tour came to an end last night with a mix of mutual heartfelt emotion and gratitude from the stage and from the audience as well. The band has come a long way in the past year, and comparing the show at the same venue in April 2012 to the one put on last night, they have certainly matured as a live act, but it is more than obvious the bonds between the band members as well as between them and their fans has strengthened tremendously. It was an incredible show, and for me at least, is a frontrunner for concert of the year. They will be missed, but are going back to create a new album, and I’m certain that when they return it will open up a new journey for the group that we can all then become a part of again.
Caprices Festival Day 9 | Cypress Hill, Method Man & Redman, Mix Master Mike, Logic, Rootwords | Crans-Montana, Switzerland | 3/16/2013 (Concert Review)
Day 9 of Caprices Festival in Crans-Montana, Switzerland… it was the final one for the incredible series of a wide-ranging line-up of artist from a variety of music genres that drew thousands upon thousands to the resort area in the Swiss Alps. The themes for the final night, which drew one of the largest and most energetic crowds, was rap music and, well, a marijuana culture. I would have to rate the night near the top as far as high performance and crowd enthusiasm go, regardless of how one might feel about either of those things, as the artists collectively put out more energy than probably any other night’s show – they were each really amazing in their own ways, and gave fans what they wanted as well as probably cultivated some new ones for themselves. Really impressive stuff.
Caprices Festival Day 8 | Mika, Nelly Furtado, Célien Schneider, Nadine Carina | Crans-Montana, Switzerland | 3/15/2013 (Concert Review)
Day 8 of Caprices Festival in Crans-Montana, Switzerland… as the event approached its final two days Friday night, those in attendance seemed to have a desire to keep the party going, as Mika drew the largest crowd to date, not only filling the vast airline hanger-like space of The Moon, but overfilling the standing room only space in front of the stage. The popular British singer-songwriter drew such a crowd people were spilling out, standing watching from the hallway space in-between The Moon and The Tube, and was far and away the largest crowd pulled in thus far for the 9-day festival. The more pop-oriented line-up also included rising star Nadine Carina, local pop/folk singer Célien Schneider, and the ever versatile and classy Nelly Furtado, who put in one of my favorite shows of the past week.
Caprices Festival Day 7 | Alice Cooper, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club (BRMC), The Heavy, Demi mondAine | Crans-Montana, Switzerland | 3/14/2013 (Concert Review)
Day 7 of Caprices Festival in Crans-Montana, Switzerland… Definitely one of the strongest nights for performances, if not the strongest overall, with a really unique and stellar line-up including The Heavy, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, and Alice Cooper. The theme tonight was rock and roll (though in a variety of different packages), and it was really like a triple headliner. I also had the unique opportunity to meet with and interview two of the four bands that took to the stage at The Moon at Caprices.
Caprices Festival Day 6 | The Spinto Band, 2ManyDJs, SebastiAn, March | Crans-Montana, Switzerland | 3/13/2013 (Concert Review)
Day 6 of Caprices Festival in Crans-Montana, Switzerland was unfortunately one of disappointment for all involved, as headliner The Killers were not able to make to to play their set due to weather conditions. I was really looking forward to seeing them again after their epic show in their hometown of Las Vegas that closed out 2012. The rest of the line up for the evening was present, and this included many, many acts, of which I viewed four in whole or part, including the headliner by default The Spinto Band, 2ManyDJs, SebastiAn, and March. It was a high energy night for both rock and DJ/electronic music.