Florence + The Machine at The Masonic | San Francisco, California | 4/8/2015 & 4/9/2015 (Concert Review + Photos)

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“It’s so wonderful to be back in San Francisco.  It’s wonderful to be back in America, because actually the title of the record – How Big How Blue How Beautiful – was inspired by the American sky.  It was actually, in a text message…  I sent – I don’t want to break the mystery of it – but I sent to someone I really cared about a lot.  And this song was written about that time.   And about just how everything seemed endless, and beautiful, and that the world was a magical place.  And then if you hear the rest of the record, you may be able to tell that things got a bit… muh… but still, I feel like you come back to this feeling, always.”  Florence Welch of Florence + The Machine, providing an introduction to the title song of the upcoming album due out in June.  Playing two back-to-back shows at The Masonic in San Francisco, it was not only a set of concerts with new music, but seemingly a Florence with a bit of a different feeling.  I was lucky enough to catch two of their shows in 2012 (at the Mondavi Center in Davis and at the Hollywood Bowl), and the Florence I saw performing this week encompassed what I came to expect (an intense and phenomenal performer), but with flourishes of more joy than I’ve seen previously.  It made for even more captivating shows, as her and her incredible group of artists truly put on a masterful performance, with a mix of familiar and new.  I obviously attend a lot of concerts every year, but Florence + The Machine is one of the very few that can give me that adrenaline rush and tingle down my spine throughout – a real feat.  Being fortunate enough to attend both shows this week, while the set list was the same, the shows each had there own character, energy, and vibe.  With the preview of the new album, and the quality of the songs, it would appear that the band hasn’t hit any ceilings yet in terms of their gifts, talents and abilities, and I expect them to continue to soar in that big blue sky that Ms. Welch is so fond of…  in studio or on stage, they remain one of the top musical artists active today. [Read more…]

Florence + The Machine To Play Special Two-Night Engagement at The Masonic in San Francisco Next Week

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A surprise announcement came from Live Nation today that Florence + The Machine will be playing two nights next week at the recently renovated Masonic in San Francisco.  The two shows will be April 8th and April 9th, with a special pre-sale at 10am tomorrow (April 1st) for those who pre-order the upcoming album, How Big How Blue How Beautiful, due June 2nd in the U.S.  These small shows in San Francisco next week will precede their appearance at Coachella. [Read more…]

Clan of Xymox at DNA Lounge | San Francisco, California | 3/19/2015 (Concert Review + Photos)

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“San Francisco.  It’s been a while.”  Ronny Moorings, to what appeared to be a sold out crowd at DNA Lounge on Thursday night, with Clan of Xymox’s first show in Northern California in over a decade.  Ronny founded Xymox/Clan of Xymox in the Netherlands in 1981, and remains the sole original member, singing all of the vocals as well as playing guitar.  A pioneer of Darkwave music, the mix of Synth Wave, Post-Punk, and Gothic Rock had it’s golden age in the 80s among contemporaries like Bauhaus, Joy Division, The Cure, Sisters of Mercy, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Cocteau Twins, and Depeche Mode.  A rare visit not only the San Francisco, but the U.S. in general, this was one of just a few shows in California this week.   With a playlist featuring classic and new Xymox songs, it was an incredible showcase of a unique style of music that Ronny has kept alive and relevant for over three decades now.

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Kristin Hersh (of Throwing Muses) at City Winery Napa | Napa, California | 3/16/2015 (Concert Review + Photos)

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“I’m going to play really small tonight…”  Kristin Hersh at the start of her special show at City Winery Napa.  I would have to say that it was maybe the most quotable concert I’ve ever attended, filled with an endless number of interesting comments and observations throughout her set, which was a mix of poetry readings and music from her various projects recorded under her own name, Throwing Muses, and 50 Foot Wave.  The setting within the beautiful, candle lit venue seemed perfect (Kristin’s first words coming out to the stage and mic was, “it’s so romantic here…”).  Her comment about playing small was inspired by her own characterization of her setlist (“the tiniest setlist ever!“), which was about half the size of a Post-It Note, double-sided.  But Kristin always seems to do things different; her own way… and sees the world I think a lot differently from the rest of us, which makes her works all the more compelling (in words, sound, and delivery).  Quite the artist, it is interesting how she does not limit her expression to her incredible music, but also gives us glimpses into her world via words printed on paper (“I’m going to read books at you tonight…“).  She has a sort of funny, quirky, open, and honest presentation which is somewhat disarming, in that she will then tear into a raw and emotional (powerful) song that is a shock to the system.  A singular artist, I get the sense every show she does – even the “small” ones like last night – are quite unique journeys unto themselves.  Certainly one of the more gifted and unique artists of her generation (and a real pioneer in terms of creating new pathways for women in music), she is definitely worth turning out to see live if you get the opportunity, and I would say the solo show is even more interesting than the traditional Throwing Muses concert (like the one I reviewed about a year ago).

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Wolf Alice at Popscene at Rickshaw Stop | San Francisco, California | 3/13/2015 (Concert Review + Photos)

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“We’ve got a couple more for you… party on, Friday night!”   Ellie Rowsell’s preface leading into Wolf Alice’s encore at the sold out show at Popscene at Rickshaw Stop on Friday night in San Francisco.  The alternative band from London put on a blazing show at a rare headlining stop in the U.S. on their way to SXSW.  A relatively newer band, their debut album, My Love Is Cool, is due in June, and already they seemed destined for much bigger venues.  I would be surprised to see them on a steep upward trajectory over 2015.  While the four members skew quite young, they exude maturity and confidence in their music, and as great as their EPs released thus far sound, their music seems fashioned to excel in a live setting even more than the studio recordings.  Even though they didn’t move around too much on the stage during their set, their music moved the crowd and they are one of the most exciting bands to come along in recent years.  Definitely ones to watch, and to catch live if you get the opportunity.

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Broods (The Evergreen Tour) at The Regency Ballroom | San Francisco, California | 3/7/2015 (Concert Review + Photos)

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“If I was rich, I’d live here…” The modest Georgia Nott, chatting in-between songs about the beautiful houses she’d seen in San Francisco earlier in the day, at their sold out show at The Regency Ballroom Saturday night.  It was a big step up in size from the shows I’d attended last year.  Accompanied as always with her brother Caleb and touring drummer Joel Farland, it was indeed a much bigger stage this time around, which they filled with ease with their authentic set of fantastic pop music fueled by incredible melodies and heartfelt, thoughtful lyrics (and of course those soaring vocals!).  Dubbed “The Evergreen Tour”, they are supporting their solid debut album released last year (which I ranked in my own Top Ten Albums of 2014).  The kiwi duo are so young that I’m really excited to continue to follow them to see where their gifts take them next.  I expect checking in on them in 2016, we will see them take on even larger stages and venues.  One of the best new artists of this era, and they put on a fantastic live show – my highest recommendation.

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The Airborne Toxic Event Plots Out Special U.S. Tour with Release of Two New Albums, “Dope Machines” and “Songs of God and Whiskey”

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A few weeks ago, The Airborne Toxic Event released not one, but two new studio albums… Dope Machines, which has been expected since last year, as well as Songs of God and Whiskey, which was announced on their official Facebook page just one day prior.  The former features more electronic/synthpop sounds while the latter is more in the direction of acoustic rock and roll.  The select shows across the U.S. this month will be “very special audio/visual performances” and they have announced that they will be performing Dope Machines “front to back” as well as material from prior releases and other surprises. [Read more…]

Clan of Xymox Coming to Play Three Shows in California This Month

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Dutch electronic “darkwave” band Clan of Xymox will be coming to the United States to play just three concerts this month, one at DNA Lounge in San Francisco and two back-to-back shows at The Complex in Los Angeles (Ronny Moorings will also be doing a DJ set in San Francisco at The Cat Club.  In 2014, they released a new studio album, Matters Of Mind, Body And Soul[Read more…]

Kristin Hersh Playing Select Dates on East & West Coast This Month

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Kristin Hersh, knows for her solo work as well as Throwing Muses and 50FOOTWAVE, is doing a handful of dates on the east and west coasts this month.  She did a small tour in 2014 as Throwing Muses as well (you can read the Rock Subculture review of the show in San Francisco here). [Read more…]

MisterWives First Headlining Tour Supporting “Our Own House” Kicks Off in the U.S. This Week

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In support of their debut studio album released last week, Our Own House, NY pop band MisterWives kicked off their first headlining tour in Philadelphia on Friday.  Their U.S. tour will keep them on the road through mid-April, though they are scheduled to appear at a few festivals thereafter. [Read more…]

Jefferson Starship (The Music of Jefferson Airplane 50th Anniversary) at The Center for the Arts | Grass Valley, California | 2/27/2015 (Concert Review + Photos)

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“I think Paul and I actually played this before we even picked up electric instruments, more than 50 years ago… “ An intro into Buffy Sainte-Marie’s “Cod-ine” by David Freiberg, who played with legend Paul Kantner in both Jefferson Airplane and Jefferson Starship.  The sold out concert at The Center for the Arts in Grass Valley last night was a celebration of both bands, as they celebrated 50 years of the former and 45 years of the later.  Coincidentally, yesterday was also the day that the great Leonard Nimoy passed away.  I made the connection in that Jefferson Airplane and Paul Kantner and Star Trek and Leonard Nimoy were both pioneers in pop culture from the mid-60’s onward and remain icons of that period today.  The 60’s represents many different things to different people, but as time marches on, the reality of it slips more and more into the past and that reality is transformed more and more into symbolism and ideas.  In some ways it fades, but it also becomes more powerful in that it has more of a mythic than real quality to people today, who forget…  Or, like me, were born after that time.  But Paul Kantner and David Freiberg are still on the road, keeping their music and the messages behind their art alive for those who come out to experience it.

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Broods’ 2015 “Evergreen” Tour Comes To North America in March and April

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Australian brother-sister duo Broods will be returning to North America for a new set of tour dates starting next week.  Supporting their amazing debut album, Evergreen,  Georgia and Caleb Nott will include support from Mikky Ekko for half of the tour and Erik Hassle (who has an interview featured here on the Rock Subculture Journal) for the other half.  I ranked Broods’ Evergreen as one of my Top 10 albums of the year, their self-titled EP as my favorite EP of the year, one of last year’s shows one of my Top 10 concerts of the year, and their single, “Bridges”, as my #1 Song of 2015. [Read more…]