Comic-Con International in San Diego 2014: Blake J. Harris and “Console Wars” Discussion Panel of Sega vs Nintendo

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This is off topic from music, but I thought some readers might enjoy…  During my coverage for The Original Prop Blog at San Diego Comic Con last week, the one “must see” discussion panel for me was the one that came about from the Blake J. Harris book, Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle that Defined a Generation.  Panelists included Sega of America’s former President Tom Kalinske, and former Director of Marketing Al Nilsen, as well as Nintendo of America’s former Vice President of Marketing and Corporate Affairs Perrin Kaplan and former Director of Marketing Bill White. [Read more...]

Journey and Steve Miller Band at Lake Tahoe Outdoor Arena at Harvey’s | Stateline, Nevada | 7/30/2014 (Concert Review)

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“We’d like to play something off a very old record, but a very good record… it’s called Infinity.  This was not the beginning with Mr. Perry…  this was one of the first songs I wrote with him… actually the second song.  We wrote it sitting downstairs in Gregg Rolie’s house… and then the song came out of nowhere – it wasn’t about L.A., it was about San Francisco!  I don’t think they have a bay there…  Is there a bay in L.A.?  There’s one in San Francisco!”  Neal Schon of Journey reminiscing about creating some of the best rock and roll songs of all-time, as intro to “Lights”.  Journey and Steve Miller Band are just closing out a 41-date tour with Tower of Power that kicked off in mid-May, though this special one off show at the Lake Tahoe Outdoor Arena at Harvey’s did not include the third band playing on the larger tour.  The two classic rock bands provided plenty of music and energy on their own, playing to what appeared to be a sold out crowd.  With many hits spanning decades, it was a great show with a lot of music history on display – both the songs and the people that made them.  I’ve seen Journey a few times in the past couple of years, but I have to say that they’ve really cranked things up with this tour, and look and sound better than ever.  It was my first time seeing Steve Miller Band, and while I’m not as familiar with them compared with Journey, I really loved that set as well.  Both bands were in top form and put on amazing shows.  One of the best tours of the Summer to be sure.

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Replay America (The Go-Go’s, Patty Smyth from Scandal, Martha Davis and The Motels, and Pete Byrne from Naked Eyes) at Thunder Valley Casino Resort | Lincoln, California | 7/19/2014 (Concert Review)

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“Are we not in the desert?  Where are we?” A  bit of comic relief part way through The Go-Go’s set by Gina Schock, who as per tradition emerges from her drum kit at some point in the show to give us a bit of fun.  And that is kind of at the heart of The Go-Go’s punky/poppy/surfy/beachy New Wave music, so what better a group to headline 2014′s newest 80s-centric tour, Replay America.  Also on the bill is Patty Smyth from Scandal, Martha Davis from The Motels, and Pete Byrne from Naked Eyes.  A real assortment of 80s hitmakers each took to the stage at Thunder Valley Casino Resort on Saturday night to take the crowd back about three decades to a real innovative time in music.  Though there was a lot of music to be heard, things proceeded along quite quickly with the first three artists sharing a band (with some changes set to set), and a quick changeover for the aforementioned Go-Go’s, who closed out the night with a string of classic songs.  Definitely a unique opportunity to catch many favorites in one sitting, and I know I thoroughly enjoyed each artist, only half of whom I’d seen live before (though I was already a fan of all four).  Awesome show.

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

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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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OK Go Kicks Off Summer & Fall North American Concert Tour in Sacramento Next Week

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OK Go will be starting a Summer and Fall tour of the United States and Canada next week, playing 29 headlining shows and ending it all with an appearance at the Life is Beautiful Festival in Las Vegas at the end of October, the same month their first new studio album in four years - Hungry Ghosts - is due for release.  Notorious for innovative music videos, the alternative rock band released one for “The Writing’s On The Wall” a few weeks ago (with nearly 9 million views on YouTube already), which was preceded by the release of a new EP, Inside Out, back in May. [Read more...]

Veruca Salt at The Independent | San Francisco, California | 6/26/2014 (Concert Review)

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“We’re Veruca Salt, and we’re gonna blow it out your ass…” Early on in their sold out show at The Fillmore in San Francisco last night, Louise Post made reference to their EP that followed their hit 1994 album, American Thighs, though it seemed to sum up what they came to do on stage, with Louise and co-singer and guitarist Nina Gordon shredding, singing, and shrieking through just south of a two hour set to a crowd of people who were more into this show that I generally see.  I became aware of Veruca Salt when their song “Seether” became a smash hit.  Unfortunately, I never had an opportunity to see them play live back in the day; in the late 90s, I was living in LA and going to grad school full time and working full time, which left almost no time for concerts.  However, I have to imagine that they are better than ever in their current comeback, which includes not just touring but new music as well.  As a matter of fact, I am fairly certain that their new single – “Museum of Broken Relationships – is perhaps my favorite Veruca Salt song to date.  The two things that most struck me about their concert at The Fillmore last night was that 1) they put on a stunning show and 2) they seem to be having more fun than anyone.  Hopefully this is just the beginning of bigger and better things, because it would be well-deserved and a long time coming.

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Veruca Salt Reunites with New Music and Concert Tour

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A recently reunited Veruca Salt (with the original line-up) has made a splash with new music, releasing “The Museum of Broken Relationships” and “It’s Holy” on Record Store Day this year (which included their biggest hit, “Seether”, as a B-side and in celebration of it’s 20th anniversary.  They did their first live performance in 18 years on Conan a few weeks ago, sounding as fresh as ever, and you can watch their new music video on YouTube as well.  In addition, this month they will be embarking on a tour of the U.S. and Australia. [Read more...]

MØ with Erik Hassle at Popscene at Rickshaw Stop | San Francisco, California | 6/3/2014 (Concert Review)

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The Popscene concert at Rickshaw Stop on Tuesday night was one of those rare shows that was very surprising (in a good way).  Danish singer-songwriter MØ (Karen Marie Ørsted) headlined the night that featured Swedish singer-songwriter Erik Hassle supporting, and both put on stellar performances, with awesome bookend DJ sets by Aaron Axelsen.  Candidly, I was not familiar with either of these young artists until recently, and I would mark the night as one of the best concerts I’ve attended so far in 2014.  MØ and Erik Hassle should be on the pop culture watch list as ones to expect big things from in the future.

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Erik Hassle: “Rock Talk” Podcast Audio + Video Interview

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This article features the latest in an ongoing series of “Rock Talk” podcast audio interviews for the Rock Subculture Journal. Today’s guest is Erik Hassle. He released his latest work as an EP, Somebody’s Party, which debuted earlier this year.  He is also one of the songwriters for the current single, co-featuring Rihanna, “Can’t Remember to Forget You“.  Erik is just finishing up his U.S. tour with MØ, and took time before his concert at Popscene at Rickshaw Stop last night to participate in this interview.  The full concert review with photos from the live show can be found in my separate article (see: “MØ with Erik Hassle at Popscene at Rickshaw Stop | San Francisco, California | 6/3/2014″).

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Pet Shop Boys “Electric Tour 2014″ at Fox Theater | Oakland, California | 4/8/2014 (Concert Review) #PSBtour

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It was one year ago to the day that I saw Pet Shop Boys and their Electric Tour in San Diego… and while the “show” was mostly the same on this 2014 tour, kicking off at Fox Theater in Oakland, my own personal experience was worlds apart.  The actual concert itself was the same as last year’s, with the exception of I think just one change to the setlist, but that is actually a good thing – why mess with near perfection?  While there are a few favorites of mine I would have loved to have heard, the highly prolific duo have been making hits for over three decades now, so there will always be some songs that aren’t going to make the cut for every tour.  As with last year, the avant-garde stage production is of the highest order, with credit also due to Stuart Price with his music production and programming, Creative Director/Designer Es Devlin and Stage Director/Choreographer Lynne Page, the two colorful dancers (Merry Holden and Tom Herron) with their interesting costumes and stage presence, and many others behind the scenes.  This show was their first of 2014, and at one point Neil even confessed to having some nerves in coming back on the stage, but his voice and delivery was spot on, and the blending of old and new music maybe even works better the second time around.   It was one of my favorite shows last year, and it was great to revisit it as well as share it with someone very special in my life this time around – it is a concert that I will never forget (more on that later)!

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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...]

Recommendations for Fans for Music Concert Digital Cameras and Photography (Full Frame, APS-C, Micro Four Thirds, Point & Shoot; DSLR vs Mirrorless; Settings)

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As I’ve published the periodic article with recommendations and discussions about cameras for fan photography at music concert events, which seem to be fairly popular, I know with changing technology it is long overdue for an update.  With this feature, I thought I would provide a broader overview with my own observations and experiences shooting with a variety of cameras and formats, including full frame, APS-C, micro four thirds, and smaller sensor cameras, spanning full-featured DSLRs, mirrorless, and point and shoot cameras.  With this article, I will also provide some advice on general settings and shooting tips and tricks.  Overall, I discuss options for cameras from shooting up close right in front of the stage as well as at a distance, for both still photos and video.  In short, I’m still a huge fan of the Sony RX100, a year later, and feel it is the best overall “go to” option for fans – great image quality and truly pocketable.

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