When I last saw Imagine Dragons in concert, I was packed into a small club with about 500 other fans, pressed against the small stage, with frontman Dan Reynolds dripping sweat onto those of us in the first few rows. Fast forward just one year later, and now the band is easily selling out the 17,000 capacity SAP Center in San Jose (which even the Rolling Stones had trouble filling last year), and striking less successful music bands with envy (more on that later). With their performance Thursday night, it was fascinating seeing how they’ve built up a fan base, yet retained their modesty. At one point, during an ad lib, Dan became a bit self conscious about what he was saying, stopped himself, and confessed, “it’s because of you – you make me nervous…” Honesty and earnestness is rare in rock stars these days, but I have a feeling that it is something innate in this one, and will always stay with him. While photographing the first few songs at the start of their set, watching from a couple feet away, I saw Dan pause at one point and briefly stare out across the massive audience before him, and get choked up a little in the same way he did a year ago talking about the charity they were supporting for that small gig in San Francisco. These are definitely genuine guys, and it certainly comes through in their music and performance. Definitely one of the must see tours of the year, as I suspect they will get even bigger once they release their sophomore album.
Imagine Dragons “Into The Night Tour” at SAP Center| San Jose, California | 2/13/2014 (Concert Review)
“It started off really nice today, and then just went to rain, and that is a Vancouver day as well, so I feel like I’m at home…”, In-between songs, The Pack A.D.’s Maya Miller, drummer and chattier of the Canadian garage rock duo just before singer/guitarist Becky Black threw down the familiar opening guitar riff for “Big Shot” off of their stellar new album, Do Not Engage. The pair played through quite an extensive setlist at Brick & Mortar Music Hall Wednesday night, but they play their songs probably twice as fast at the typical band, so the blazing set was over sooner than all in attendance might have hoped. The dimly lit venue was truly electrified by their blazing music, and they are armed with fantastic songs that seem crafted to be played live. I just discovered this band last month with the release of their fourth studio album, and absolutely love Do Not Engage. Now, having seen them play live, they have made me a fan. Amazing show, and I’d personally seek them out if they roll into a town near you…
You know you are at interesting show when the singer asks, in-between songs, for the audience to shout out their favorite taquería on the count of three. Frankie Rose, singer-songwriter of the band of the same name, has roots in San Francisco, and packed Rickshaw Stop on Tuesday night with her special retroesque mix of fuzzy guitar and synth dream pop. Supporting her latest album, Herein Wild, the set included a mix of old and new, which illustrated the evolution of her sound. All in all an excellent show…
“We’ve got a few more songs here for you here… if you fucking want them!” Tim Wheeler, vocalist and guitarist for Northern Ireland’s alternative band Ash, which was born in the early 90s, yet seems to bring the best of that vibe forward in their music today. An enthusiastic crowd of fans packed Popscene at Rickshaw Stop in San Francisco last night, and they certainly wanted those few more songs that finished out a pretty lengthy and extremely impressive and rocking set. For a loud, ripping show, the sound was absolutely phenomenal, and these music veterans of the alternative music scene certainly are masters at the live show. It really exceeded my expectations, and was just a fantastic concert showcasing their unique brand of rock and roll. As one of their first shows on the West Coast of the U.S. in 9 years, they certainly came back to make a statement.
Berlin Featuring Terri Nunn kicked off 2014 with their first live date of the year at Saint Rocke in Hermosa Beach, California, just as they did last year (which is a show I caught and reviewed as well). The biggest difference between last year and this year is that their amazing new album, Animal, came out this past September. While they have been playing some of this new material in their shows in the past few years, somehow it felt much more seamlessly intertwined into the set, maybe because now I’m so familiar with the songs. Like last year, it was another stellar show with excellent supporting artists, and Saint Rocke is a great little venue. I think more than most bands, Berlin gets what their music is about, how it affects people, and the power a live show can have on celebrating life and living it with some passion. They definitely bring it all out on stage and they are one of those bands that can carry you along with them vicariously. [Read more...]
“We played the Whiskey last night for their fiftieth anniversary, and I don’t want to kiss your ass or anything, but this is way more fun…” X vocalist and bassist John Doe at The Casbah in San Diego last night, in the midst of a rocking set in the tiny club, well sold out at its 230 capacity. I had seen the band last September on the “No Principals Tour” with Blondie in San Francisco, but this was more like taking a step back in time. Depending on where you were standing, they frequently could not be seen at all, which made the illusion all the more convincing. An authentic throw back to the earlier 80s punk scene they pioneered, it was a fantastic night of music and definitely an interesting, somewhat quirky crowd, which was apparent to those on the stage as well.
Blondie with X “No Principals Tour” at Nob Hill Masonic Auditorium | San Francisco, California | 9/19/2013 (Concert Review)
Blondie’s spectacular show at the Nob Hill Masonic Auditorium in San Francisco Thursday night was a reminder of how seemingly effortlessly Debbie Harry and the band crossed into and innovated within so many different styles and genres of music in the late 70s and early 80s. Punk, post-punk, disco, pop, New Wave, even some rap, reggae, and infusions of some world music, they were quite the innovators, really serving as a pioneering force in music, and they continue to record new and relevant music today. The Debbie Harry-fronted East Coast post punk/pop/disco group Blondie share the bill on the “No Principals Tour” with Exene Cervenka and John Doe fronting on vocals for the West Coast, L.A. punk pioneers X, which features its original line-up. Both artists brought amazing energy to the stage, which created a frenzy within the crowd at the Masonic unlike anything I’d seen at the usually mellow venue, with fans of both bands flooding the area between the all-seated venue and the low stage. It was definitely a different sort of concert (in a great way) and celebration of music that really served as a pivotal transition from the 70s to the 80s, paving a pathway into what turned out to be fresh and new world.
GROUPLOVE “Seesaw Tour” (Night 1 “Heavy”) at The Independent & (Night 2 “Light”) at The Chapel | San Francisco, California | 9/14/2013 & 9/15/2013 (Concert Review)
“We do it for love, sweet love…” Fittingly, the final words sung on stage both Saturday and Sunday night in San Francisco by GROUPLOVE, from their hit song, “Colours”. Playing back-to-back shows as part of their special run of their “Seesaw Tour”, performing at two small venues in select cities, doing one traditional show and one acoustic-style show, each night featured a different kind of show, almost as if seen, heard, and felt through a kaleidoscope that shifted not just night to night, but within each show. GROUPLOVE is a band with probably the best energy of anyone playing today – such joy and positivity beaming not just from the speakers at the venues, but from the artists themselves – their expressions and jumping around, and interactions with the audience. The funny thing is that the audiences and shows kind of played counter to expectations, with the “heavy” night at The Independent skewing older and more mellow and the “light” night at The Chapel being much more youthful and boundless, which seemed to fuel the band into rocking their acoustic instruments on the tiny stage, which could barely contain them. Two incredible shows that delivered well beyond expectations.
Brand New 4-Track EP (EP-1) & New Music Video Released by The Pixies Leading Up To New Concert World Tour
As reported recently, there has been a lot of news coming from one of my all-time favorite bands, The Pixies, who will be playing four special concert dates in Los Angeles next week at El Rey Theatre and Mayan Theater, with new bass player Kim Shattuck. Last month The Pixies released one new song (as a free MP3 download) and two versions of a music video of the same (Ver 1, Ver 2). This week The Pixies have released EP-1, a new 4-track EP with all new material written by The Pixies and recorded at Rockfield Studios in the UK almost a year ago with producer Gil Norton. They have special artwork for the EP created by Vaughan Oliver. Full details can be found here: http://newpix.es/ep1 [Read more...]
GROUPLOVE Announce Special “Seesaw Tour” Dates & Venues, Pre-Sale On Today, “Spreading Rumors” Due September 17th
American alternative band GROUPLOVE today announced a special “Seesaw Tour” supporting their sophomore album, Spreading Rumors, due September 17th. The nine city tour will feature the band playing back-to-back gigs in each city, the first an all-rock set and the second at a non-traditional venue doing an all acoustic show (“one night heavy, one night light”). Special pre-sale packages went on sale this morning for the nine cities that are part of this special tour – Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Washington DC, and Chicago. [Read more...]
Huey Lewis and The News “Sports 30th Anniversary Tour” at Mountain Winery | Saratoga, California | 7/27/2013 (Concert Review)
“30 years is a long time. Think back 30 years ago… no cell phones… no Internet… no CDs… no reading glasses… Those were the days. And in case you guys haven’t figured it out yet, we’re going to play the Sports album. From the beginning to the very end. And that… was Side 1. That was the ‘video’ side, if you will. And now we’re going to take the record, and we’re going to turn it over… because that’s what we did, kids. We took the record, and we turned it over. Right? “ Part of a pretty entertaining monologue by Huey Lewis of Huey Lewis and the News at Mountain Winery last night, half way through their #1, septuple platinum 1983 album, which had four Top 10 hits (“Heart and Soul”, “I Want a New Drug”, “The Heart of Rock & Roll”, and “If This Is It”). Playing the classic album front to back – side to side – in honor of the “Sports 30th Anniversary Tour”, they did not end with that, as the concert continued on beyond with a new song as well as more non-Sports classics and covers. It was really a phenomenal show, and Huey and the band were in top form playing in their Bay Area home at Mountain Winery in Saratoga, which Huey Lewis characterized as “the scene of so many of our youthful indiscretions“. The sold out venue was filled with an awesome crowd of fans, and I think this was the first time I checked StubHub before a show at this venue and found that there was only a single ticket for sale, which I illustrates that it was the hottest ticket for the night in Northern California on the beautiful Saturday evening overlooking the lights of Silicon Valley.