“I walked out of there with not much, except a feeling in my heart that it was all going to work. And the reason that I tell you this story, is that I want you to know that if you have a dream, and you believe in yourself, and you believe something that you really want, don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t have it. Don’t ever let anybody get in your way, because you can have it, and we are living proof of that…” Optimistic words spoken by Stevie Nicks at the Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento last night, joined on stage by the core members of one of the best rock and roll groups of all time, Fleetwood Mac. I think we collectively need more optimism in the world today, but not just lofty words and sentiments, but used to power individuals to look to themselves and their own abilities and opportuities to make their dreams come true. Somehow, this collection of gifted artists – Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham, John McVie, Mick Fleetwood, and Christine McVie – all found one another back in the 70s and made music that has endured as classics to this day. I first saw Fleetwood Mac with their tour in 2013, and marked it as one of the best shows of the year. As that tour did not include Christine McVie, with her return on this year’s tour, I marked this show as my top “must see” concert of the year. It did not disappoint. All of the players sound like they are truly at the top of their game, and they seemed to love performing as much as the audience loved watching it. It was also a bit different than last year’s tour, with even higher production standards and maybe the best sound quality I’ve ever heard in a sports arena. It was truly an epic show, and Fleetwood Mac is one of those rare bands that can make playing to a large indoor arena work (I rarely go to such shows because they typically do not work on many levels). They really exceeded my expectations with their nearly three hour show, and I think the highlight for me was “Little Lies”, with Christine McVie’s beautiful voice and the overlapping chorus with Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham – a real showcase for the distinct character in each of their voices but how well they harmonize and blend together to such effect.
Fleetwood Mac “On With The Show Tour” at Sleep Train Arena | Sacramento, California | 11/24/2014 (Concert Review + Photos)
Rock and roll icons Fleetwood Mac and their “Own With The Show” tour is heading west later this month, with a second leg of shows added for January, February and March of 2015 as part of their extensive North American tour featuring their historic line-up of Lindsey Buckingham, Mick Fleetwood, Christine McVie, John McVie, and Stevie Nicks. [Read more…]
The Airborne Toxic Event at Ace of Spades | Sacramento, California | 10/28/2014 (Concert Review + Photos)
“We had a new song come out today… We got a lot of comments on the site. You know, people asking us, are we a rock band? Or are we a folk band? Are we an electronic band? The answer is: fuck off!” Comments from The Airborne Toxic Event’s frontman Mikel Jollett, before kicking into that new song, “Wrong”, toward the end of the initial set at Ace of Spades in Sacramento. The comment might read as negative, but their music and connection with the crowd was anything but, with that same signer and guitarist jumping off stage and interacting with the crowd several times throughout their one and a half or so set. At one point, he even held a young boy in the air, asking (somewhat rhetorically) if he had the coolest mom there, but virtue of his presence. The band, and supporting act In The Valley Below before them, put on a fantastic show with great music. They are both certainly worth checking out. Even Mikel said, at the end, “Every now and then you get to have a night like tonight – I think this is the best show I’ve ever played in Sacramento!”, and I suspect the fans agree.
(the) Melvins at Assembly Music Hall | Sacramento, California | 10/15/2014 (Concert Review + Photos)
I usually open my reviews with a quote from the headlining artist, but the Melvins were pretty much all business at Assembly Music Hall on Wednesday night, kicking off their “Hold It In” tour in Sacramento. Quite the prolific band, they released their album Hold It In the day before, a collaboration with Buzz Osborne and Dale Crover, with Butthole Surfers members Paul Leary and Jeff Pinkus. On stage last night were all but Paul Leary. With a democratic stage set up, featuring Dale Crover at center on drums with King Buzzo and Jeff Pinkus flanking either side, they are one of those interesting collaborations that seems to lack ego. Just as their music is balanced by the contributions of each player – though with a lot of variety and variation song to song – each seems to hold their own with their live show, and the sonic spotlight seems to shift around as called for by moments and breaks in each song. The star of the band is really the music, and it’s eclectic style that doesn’t really fit into any particular genre (though there are strong foundations of both metal and punk at the heart of it). Truly an important band, in a historical sense, though that wouldn’t matter as much if they didn’t make compelling music or put on a killer live show, and in their case, they do both. Definitely a tour with catching as 2014 races to conclusion.
“Thirsty Thursday, is that a thing here? It’s a thing at home… not for me, because I’m never thirsty…” Georgia Nott, with a little bit of chit chat with the very enthusiastic audience at Assembly Music Hall in Sacramento. Like her, much of the audience was young and female, and many were experiencing Broods live for the very first time. Like the sold out show at The Independent I attended back in May, Georgia split her time roaming the stage as well as performing at her keyboard station on the opposite corner of the stage from her older brother Caleb, with Jimi Mataio holding things down at the center back of the stage. Since that show in May, they have now released (or are on the verge of releasing, depending on what country you live in) their first studio album, Evergreen. Since it is not officially out yet in the U.S. (due October 8th here), I have only heard the songs pre-released on iTunes with pre-order (though two of the five were on the EP). But with that sampling, I’m even more convinced that this young band really deserves (and should) break big. They make great music with thoughtful lyrics and it all translates into a live concert so beautifully. Georgia has a remarkable voice – the kind that you hear on a studio recording and imagine that she could not possibly measure up in a live setting, but having been to two shows now, I can say that she totally kills it on stage, and Caleb manages to paint clean, distinct sounds with his keyboards and Jimi is a force on drums. I’ve become a huge fan of the new song, “L.A.F.”, in large part because of the non-traditional drums and beats, and this was one of the highlights for the show last night for me. Phenomenal band, and one that I’ll continue to turn out for any chance that I get.
Joan Jett and the Blackhearts at Cal Expo (California State Fair) | Sacramento, California | 7/18/2014 (Concert Review + Photos)
“When it hits the fan, people usually show up for each other…” Joan Jett of Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, talking about surviving tragedy, and how real life experiences inspired their latest album, Unvarnished. It was really quite inspiring to hear the punk icon with roots in music – in her teens – going back to the 70s, today crafting music that is informed by a fascinating and full life. Yet regardless of her growth as an individual and as an artist, she still has that counter culture swagger and joy with a guitar strapped around her and a mic stand before her… she can still rock it unlike any other, and she certainly made that clear at their appearance at the California State Fair at Cal Expo last night. Whatever it is that she’s had since her formative years, that motor still drives her today. A real rock and roll legend.
“But the problem is, it’s a piece of shit… so things like the little thing, that goes on here… the plastic thing that keeps you from slicing your fucking finger in half? That fell off in the middle of that song…” A post song, play by play recap by Damien Kulash of OK Go, talking about how part of his favorite guitar (purchased at a pawn shop in New Orleans) fell off and how he waited for the right break in singing to pick it up amid a floor covered in confetti… and for some reason decided to put it in his mouth for the rest of the song. Quirky, funny, and entertaining… an OK Go show would probably be worth the price of admission even if they didn’t play any music at all, as the between-song banter was all quite amusing on its own. But they did put on an impressive showcase of music at Assembly Music Hall in Sacramento… kicking off their 2014 tour that culminates in the release of Hungry Ghosts, their fourth studio album in October.
!!! (Chk Chk Chk) Starting 2014 with Three Northern California Concerts in Sacramento and San Francisco
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…]
The Invisible Lighthouse – A Film and Live Performance by Thomas Dolby at Crest Theatre | Sacramento, California | 11/23/2013 (Concert Review)
“It’s a happy and a sad occasion…” Thomas Dolby talking about his last stop at Creat Theatre in Sacramento last night, in his preface to “performing” his very personal documentary film, The Invisible Lighthouse Tour. Really a film unlike any I’ve ever experienced, it was just that – an experience. Dolby has been a pioneer in pop culture from his very beginnings, well known for his 1982 New Wave hit, “She Blinded Me With Science” among a number of other accomplishments in and out of music. Dolby’s partner on the stage, Blake Leyh, produced some amazing “analog”, impressionistic sound effects during the film, which Dolby scored and narrated, which made it clear that each performance of his film has been quite unique and different. A real pioneer in the arts, Dolby certainly has consistently blazed his own path, and after hearing his candid thoughts throughout the event, it would seem that he operates in a bit of a pop culture bubble, and looks to technology to find new ways in which to create meaningful art and vehicles for expression, and currently he is inspired by the ability today to make powerful films, sans Hollywood budgets and crews. The result is something that literally has to be experienced in a theater, and hopefully this event is truly not the last for The Invisible Lighthouse.
Anna Nalick at Harlow’s Restaurant and Nighclub | Sacramento, California | 11/20/2013 (Concert Review)
“I know I got that Adult Top 40 reputation, but don’t let that fool you… I’m wearing leather pants. And I will put foot on the amp and show you what’s what.” Anna Nalick definitely showed the packed crowd inside Harlow’s in Sacramento last night what was what, and then some. The genre defying singer-songwriter kicked off her mini tour of the West Coast, with shows in Oakland, Grant’s Pass, Spokane, and Seattle to follow through the end of this month. Best known for her triple Platinum hit, “Breathe (2 AM)”, from her debut album Wreck of the Day, she is on a two week break from starring in Scott Caan’s play, 100 Days of Yesterday at Playhouse West. This set of concerts presents a rare opportunity to see a truly gifted musical talent perform her original music as well as a number of new songs she’s crafted since 2011’s Broken Doll & Odds & Ends. I definitely have a lot of thoughts about the show… in short, I can’t recommend enough turning out to catch this special tour if you can. Brilliant, brilliant artist and performance, and a fascinating woman.
Singer-songwriter Anna Nalick is scheduled to play a handful of concert dates along the West Coast this month. The critically acclaimed artist is best known for her debut album, Wreck of the Day, which featured the hit song “Breathe (2 AM)”, and she has since released a second studio album, Broken Doll & Odds & Ends. [Read more…]
“Just warming up again… look darling, what a surprise!” A wry comment from Cy Curnin, front man for English New Wave band The Fixx, in the middle of a rare second encore during their amazing show at Assembly Music Hall last night, about half way through their current U.S. tour supporting their latest studio album, Beautiful Friction. The iconic band, best known for a string of 80s hits like “One Thing Leads To Another”, “Saved By Zero”, and “Red Skies”, played a great mix of old and new, and the band certainly showed that they can still record great music as well as play it live.