Phantogram at Fox Theater | Oakland, California | 2/20/2014 (Concert Review)

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“We love you so much…  you’re so beautiful!  We’ve been playing San Francisco for years and years and years, and every time we come back here, you’re so fucking great and it’s so fucking fun…”  Sarah Barthel, standing beside long time collaborator Josh Carter, both of whom seemed moved at times by the enthusiastic crowd that sold out the Fox Theater in Oakland for Phantogram’s debut show touring their latest album, Voices, which hit the streets earlier this week.  Joined on stage by Chris Carhart on drums and Nick Shelestak on keyboards, the band put on an amazing show with a fantastic ability to recreate their unique studio sound live on stage, which was itself bathed in a pulsating light show that suited their songs well.  This is definitely one of the must see tours of the year – really brilliant performance of their incredibly unique music and fantastic new album.

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Tori Amos to Tour United States in July & August Following May 13th Release of “Unrepentant Geraldines”

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Legendary singer-songwriter Tori Amos has announced her U.S. dates for 2014′s world tour supporting the May 13th release of her 14th studio album, Unrepentant Geraldines.  She will cross the United States throughout July and August.  Fans can gain access to a special pre-sale of all dates and venues by pre-ordering the new album (in CD, CD/DVD, and vinyl formats) on a special site. [Read more...]

Imagine Dragons “Into The Night Tour” at SAP Center| San Jose, California | 2/13/2014 (Concert Review)

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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.

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Phantogram Leads Out With U.S. Tour Following Next Week’s Debut of “Voices” Album

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Electronic synthpop/trip hop duo Phantogram is releasing their second studio album, Voices, next week, and late next week they will be kicking off a small U.S. tour.  I was a big fan of their eponymous EP released last year (particularly “Black Out Days”, which I counted among my Top 100 Songs of 2013) and have previewed their new album and it is excellent. [Read more...]

The Pack A.D. at Brick & Mortar Music Hall | San Francisco, California | 2/5/2014 (Concert Review)

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“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…

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Frankie Rose at Rickshaw Stop | San Francisco, California | 2/4/2014 (Concert Review)

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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…

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Ash at Popscene @ Rickshaw Stop | San Francisco, California | 1/30/2014 (Concert Review)

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“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.

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Berlin Featuring Terri Nunn at Saint Rocke | Hermosa Beach, California | 1/24/2014 (Concert Review)

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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...]

Ash Tour Across United States in January and February on Way to The Weezer Cruise 2014

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Northern Irish indie band Ash will be doing a rare tour starting on the West Coast later this month, stretching across the U.S. through February with 13 headlining shows and then joining up with Weezer for their 2014 Weezer Cruise going from Florida to the Bahamas. [Read more...]

!!! (Chk Chk Chk) Starting 2014 with Three Northern California Concerts in Sacramento and San Francisco

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Sacramento dance-punk band !!! (Chk Chk Chk) will be doing three shows this month, the first in their home town at The Assembly and then back-to-back shows at The Chapel in San Francisco.  Their latest EP, R!M!X!S, came out a few months ago, following their fifth studio album, THR!!!ER, which came out earlier last year. [Read more...]

Johnette Napolitano at The Griffin | San Diego, California | 1/17/2014 (Concert Review)

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I wanted to be a writer.  I didn’t just want to shake my hair around and scream…”  Johnette Napolitano, in one of many self-reflective moments in her honest and raw solo show at The Griffin in San Diego on Friday night.  The singer and bass player for Concrete Blonde has always projected raw emotion and artistry in all she does, but this was certainly a step even further into having a glimpse into her world, which was bathed in gentle red and blue lights on the small stage in the intimate venue.  For me, she has always been one of my favorite vocalists in rock and roll (and based on this show, it is only getting better with age), but there is so much more to her as an artist beyond that one remarkable gift.  She talks about ghosts a bit, and it makes me wonder if she can see and feel things that the rest of us mere mortals cannot, and that is one of those things that gives her work more depth and dimension, and of course more emotion.  Regardless, the show was an amazing experience for fans of her and her work, whether it is on vinyl or paper, she is that writer she always dreamed of becoming, in multiple disciplines.  Brilliant artist and amazing showcase of her work in San Diego for those lucky enough to attend.

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X at The Casbah | San Diego, California | 01/16/2014 (Concert Review)

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“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.

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