(the) Melvins at Assembly Music Hall | Sacramento, California | 10/15/2014 (Concert Review + Photos)

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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.

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Broods at Assembly Music Hall | Sacramento, California | 8/28/2014 (Concert Review + Photos)

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“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.

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Joan Jett and the Blackhearts at Cal Expo (California State Fair) | Sacramento, California | 7/18/2014 (Concert Review + Photos)

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“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.

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OK Go at Assembly Music Hall | Sacramento, California | 7/15/2014 (Concert Review + Photos)

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“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.

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!!! (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...]

The Invisible Lighthouse – A Film and Live Performance by Thomas Dolby at Crest Theatre | Sacramento, California | 11/23/2013 (Concert Review)

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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.

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Anna Nalick at Harlow’s Restaurant and Nighclub | Sacramento, California | 11/20/2013 (Concert Review)

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“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.

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Anna Nalick To Play West Coast Concert Dates in California, Oregon, and Washington in November

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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...]

The Fixx at Assembly Music Hall | Sacramento, California | 7/22/2013 (Concert Review)

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“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.

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Fleetwood Mac “Fleetwood Mac Live 2013 Tour” at Sleep Train Arena | Sacramento, California | 7/6/2013 (Concert Review)

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It isn’t often that real, genuine rock and roll legends come into my hometown of Sacramento to perform in concert, but after last night’s Fleetwood Mac show at Sleep Train Arena, they’ve set the bar quite high for any act to follow.  Have loved this band since I was a kid, but have never seen them live, so this was an eagerly anticipated show for me.  I did see Lindsay Buckingham on his own last year, and Stevie Nicks with Dave Grohl’s Sound City Players earlier this year, so have had bursts of greatness, which really fed my desire to see them together as Fleetwood Mac even more.  As amazing as those other performances had been, they did not prepare me for the magic of having their best line-up (unfortunately sans Christine McVie) on stage together.  I think it cements Lindsay Buckingham as the true rock God of the 70s/80s generation and Stevie Nicks, fittingly, as the rock Goddess.  Mick Fleetwood is like Zeus (or maybe a mad pirate), with twin balls hanging (in a dangling/dancing sort of way) from his belt.  John McVie is content to leave center stage to the others, throwing down his bassline and keeping everything on the tracks as much as possible.  This is a band who know who they are, and haven’t strayed from their identity in sound or fashion.  What really hit home is how much they appreciate their fans, which was expressed not just in the performance but in eloquent statements from Nicks and Fleetwood to close out the show, calling us their “Dreamcatchers”, and really articulating the music fan/musician dynamic better than I’ve ever heard before.  This date closed out the U.S. leg of their tour, and certainly inspires one to start following them around Europe later this year…

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Cyndi Lauper “She’s So Unusual: 30th Anniversary Tour” at Crest Theatre | Sacramento, California | 6/18/2013 (Concert Review)

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The greatest artists are always brilliant storytellers, in one way or another, and there is no doubting that Cyndi Lauper is a great communicator.  I’ve been to many of her shows over the years, and Cyndi Lauper is all about connecting with people; connecting with her fans.  She kicked off her show at the Crest Theatre in Sacramento last night by jumping off the stage and making her way up to the middle of the crowd, doing much of her singing surrounded by those who adore her and love not just her music, but what she’s done with her life, how she lives it, and what she gives back to the global community.  Throughout her set, her stories in-between were unfiltered (apart from a few word choices out of respect for a nine year old up front), meandering, and fascinating… and going by the set list taped on the floor, passed into some of the time planned for singing.  But when she sings, it’s truly a marvel, with her gift of voice and performance, and as she paced up and down the crowd up front (which instantly went from an all seated show to a standing GA free for all), she made personal connections with each of us – a look, a touch with her hand – because she is one of those earnest people…  that rare breed who “made it” but it is not about themselves, but giving back… through songs, stories, laughter, experiences… and of course her brilliant music.  Touring for the 30th anniversary of her debut album, She’s So Unusual, she is playing all those classic songs from that seminal 80s work, along with a bonus or two.  I obviously go to a lot of concerts, but Cyndi Lauper was a true icon for me growing up in the 80s, and this was definitely the best experience I’ve had at one of her shows.  Definitely a must see tour this year, and I’ll personally be doing it all again tonight at Mountain Winery in Saratoga.

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Muse at Sleep Train Arena | Sacramento, California | 1/29/2013 (Concert Review)

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The Muse concert in Sacramento last night at the Sleep Train Arena was, on a personal note, Night #2 of 2 for me, having seen them the night before at Oracle Arena in Oakland.  Two totally different experiences (more on that later), but another Epic show by a band that delivers rock entertainment like no one else on tour today.  Over the course of seeing them, one thing I’ve learned is that location matters at these shows, and I wouldn’t necessarily say one place is better than another (close or far), as they have such an elaborate and brilliant production and presentation, wherever you are in the venue you will experience something very special indeed.  As I said in yesterday’s review, they are most definitely a band that needs to be experienced live in concert and their music is designed to be performed live in front of thousands. [Read more...]