Just when you think you know what to expect from a Crystal Castles concert, a naked man casually walks on stage to tend to his drum kit (not a euphemism), part of the second of two supporting bands. But of course the real show starts with the main set… and with Crystal Castles, it’s as much about the experience surrounding the music as it is the music itself. While Alice Glass and Ethan Kath don’t really have anything to say in-between songs during their thumping (with many thumps courtesy of touring drummer Christopher Chartrand) high energy shows, they certainly know how to entertain and excite once they take the stage. With their unconventional sound, seizure-inducing lighting effects, and interactivity (by way of Alice diving into the audience), a Crystal Castles show overloads the senses… so much unfamiliar and unexpected for your eyes, ears, and brain to process. Whatever your take on their brand of experimental electronic/synthpop/synthpunk music, you certainly can’t consider their live shows to be boring or uneventful. A band born to perform live, for sure. Their studio recordings are fantastic (and their third studio album, (III) is excellent), but you really need to see them live to understand their music, and get the full Crystal Castles experience.
“Do you guys remember – some of you will remember – Metric shows before cell phone cameras? It’s really funny you know; that shit changed my life.” Metric’s Emily Haines, taking a moment mid-show at the Fox Theater in Oakland last night to share some candid thoughts about how advances in technology have affected her and what she shares with audiences during concerts; a bit of a lament over the way things used to be… a simpler time. Her philosophical aside was quite interesting (salted with some humor as well); to hear her unique perspective on live concert events today and the ubiquitous technology wherein everything and anything can be recorded with ease (and how bits can carry on, out of context). Funny enough, it was something I had mentioned in my coverage of the show the night prior at Mondavi Center in Davis, though some friends of mine who have been to Metric shows that I missed said it is something she has brought up in the past as well. In any event, with that and a nice chat at the end leading into their “Gimme Sympathy” closer, there seemed to be a different kind of dynamic with each audience in the past two nights (both awesome, but different). Fox Theater offered a GA floor whereas Mondavi was seated (though ended up sort of GA as it got going), but the larger Fox has the distinct separation between stage and audience, with the security pit, so the added discussion maybe bridged that literal gap to create a different sort of connection compared with Mondavi, wherein the band could reach down and literally touch the members of the audience with ease. In any event, having seen back-to-back shows over two nights, it was fun for me to compare the two. Both were stellar shows with great performances by Metric, as they tour over a dozen shows and dates between now and June. While for me on a personal level the Mondavi show was more engaging (since I was front row for the entire show), I took an opportunity with the Fox show to enjoy the set from different perspectives, and it was quite enjoyable to even move to the very back and have a better perspective with which to take in the impressive lighting effects on the stage, which is much different from seeing it all up close. All in all, another fantastic show by Metric and they have become one of my favorite bands to turn out to see live.
Muse are unlike any other band recording and performing today. And having watched them perform at Oracle Arena last night, they are most definitely a band that needs to be experienced live in concert. It’s as if the band, and their music, is designed to be performed live in front of thousands… and having been to a great many concerts in my time, I would rate their stage production itself in the top three I’ve ever seen. [Read more…]
As noted yesterday, Not So Silent Night (NSSN) is Live 105’s “Annual Holiday Rock Show”, with 2012 being the first year it spans two consecutive nights. This second night featured headliner The Killers, along with M83, Passion Pit, Tegan and Sara, GROUPLOVE, and Imagine Dragons. Again, I was very, very impressed at how extremely well managed this multi-artist event was on both nights. Oracle Arena again served as host to six amazing acts in about seven hours time, with very brief breaks in-between. I found the two night show to be such a great event to attend, to have an opportunity to see so many great bands back to back, with a stellar closing set by The Killers.
Not So Silent Night (NSSN) is Live 105’s “Annual Holiday Rock Show”, with 2012 being the first year it spans two consecutive nights. This first night featured headliner Jack White, along with The Shins, Metric, Of Monsters and Men, The Gaslight Anthem, Two Door Cinema Club, and Our Vinyl Vows. I’ve never been a fan of traditional, outdoor festivals (for a variety of reasons), but this was an extremely well organized multi-artist event that can serve as a model for how to do them right, and comprised an excellent line-up of artists. The packed Oracle Arena was treated to seven great acts in under seven hours. It was a really fantastic evening celebrating the work of some really great bands, with Jack White closing things out with a really amazing performance.
Epic and Legendary… in this rare instance, both words apply. An Epic performance from a truly Legendary rock band. Unless you’ve been stranded on a deserted island for the past 40 years, you would at least know who they are, and some of their songs, as they are often referred to as “America’s Greatest Rock and Roll Band”, and honestly, I can’t imagine who could give them a run for their money for that title. In any event, just sticking with the premise of this review, these guys are just remarkable. They are living the rock and roll dream (in spite of the music industry’s ongoing implosion – more on that in a bit), and I think they sound and perform better than ever – they just become more incredible the older that they get, and I feel age suits them, as they are elder statesmen in music, they have an incredible history, and they – and their music – is as relevant as ever. If you get the opportunity, you must see this band. The current set of live dates is called “The Global Warming Tour”.
“Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, and Molly Hatchet could not be here tonight, but they all had sex and are proud to announce the birth of their two-headed baby, Tenacious D”. And that is how I was originally introduced to Tenacious D, back when they started out with a comedy series on HBO in 1997. I never would have imagined that I’d see the then faux band in concert some day (following several albums and a feature film). But the D on stage last night – fronted by Jack Black and Kyle Gass, as they would say, “blew our asses out” at the Fox Theater in Oakland, the second gig on their tour supporting their new album, Rize of the Fenix. [Read more…]