Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Kings of Leon Problem

Kings of Leon, why won't you just let me go?  In the past two years you've done everything you possibly can to alienate me, a former huge fan who wants so desperately to believe that you can be better than your current musical aspirations.  Still I cling to the memories of what you once were, despite your repeated demonstrations of mediocrity.  Well, this time we're really finished, and I'm going to share with everyone else how I managed to finally break away from your emotional abuse.

The Black Crowes at the Palladium, 12/11/10

There aren't many bands I've loved since the beginning that I've yet to see, but the Black Crowes fit that bill.  Sure, I saw them at KROQ's Almost Acoustic Christmas back in 1994 (and let's all take a moment to marvel at a time when a band like them would ever be played on KROQ), but that was something like five songs, and I barely remember it.  Now, just before they go on "indefinite hiatus," a term that their age suggests is a euphemism for retirement, I finally got to cross them off my ever-shortening list.  However, as great as they were, I couldn't enjoy it as much as I should have.  An open letter:

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Weezer play Pinkerton at the Gibson Amphitheatre, 11/27/10

The next sentence would have shocked and horrified the fifteen year old me, and not just because he wouldn't have understood the concept of 'blogging' or even the Internet.  I've come to really hate Weezer.  I look back on the last ten years or so of their music, and I find it hard to remember what ever drew me to them in the first place.  Luckily, there was a reason I cared enough to hate them so much, and I can still go back and enjoy the good ol' days.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Black Angels and Black Mountain at the El Rey, 11/24/2010

If not for that Deftones/Mastodon show, this would have been easily the heaviest pairing I saw all year, and certainly the most throwback.  Both bands are firmly entrenched in the late 60's to early 70's, though they take different approaches.  The Black Angels go for the psychedelic, while Black Mountain can be the best Black Sabbath emulators around.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Deerhunter at the Music Box, 11/1/10

I'm always excited to hear new material from a band I love, especially if I've recently become obsessed with an album.  Sometimes, though, that newness can overwhelm a band to a degree, messing with the flow of their show.  That definitely happened to Deerhunter at the former Fonda.

Built to Spill at the El Rey, 10/28/10

Though I caught them at Outside Lands, I never got to see a proper Built to Spill show on their tour for There is No Enemy, their excellent album from last year.  Luckily, Doug Martsch brought his group of dad-looking indie gods back to LA in October, and it was a typically great set.

Mastodon and Deftones at Gibson Amphitheatre, 10/12/10

We all make mistakes.  I look back at some of the music I used to listen to, hell, love, and I can't help but cringe.  KoЯn in particular seems an example of bad judgment, not least of all due to the opening salvo of "Justin:" "Fuck all that bullshit!"  But if there's one band from that time period that I'll still defend and happily listen to, it's Deftones, and seeing them paired with the best metal band alive at the moment, Mastodon, was like going into my own personal Mosh Pit Time Machine(™, © and all that).

The Besnard Lakes at Detroit Bar, 10/9/10

Not a ton to say about this one, except that they were really good (if not quite as good as they were in May), cut back on the silly Canadian banter, and "Albatross" in particular blew my head off.  Literally.  You can click through for the set list, or you can go about your business.

Arcade Fire at the Shrine, 10/7/10

I am what you could charitably call 'particular' (picky, fastidious, fussy all work as well) when it comes to my concert-going experience.  I don't need to be front and center, but I do want to be close enough to see and hear the music in the way it's meant to be.  The last time I had seen Arcade Fire, I left extremely disgruntled because of the poor seat I had at the Greek, off in the top row of the wings of the theatre, a place where sound goes to be distorted by the wind.  My tickets for the Shrine were nosebleeders as well, so I was worried about a repeat performance.  However, the band delivered a set that made me forget just how far away they were.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Futureheads at the Troubadour, 10/6/10

Long distance relationships are hard.  Not being able to see those you care about whenever you want is a strain, and it can make you want to just cut the cord to avoid the heartache.  But if you're patient, you will be rewarded.  The last time I got to see The Futureheads was in the summer of 2006, and at times the longing was almost too much to bear, but I'm glad I waited it out.

Jon Spencer Blues Explosion at the Troubadour, 9/30/10

When I was younger, I would often lament the retirement of the bands I liked, thinking it must be as final as a TV show's cancellation.  These days, I've been around long enough to know that eventually they almost all come back (assuming they haven't died, of course).  The Jon Spencer Blues Exxplosion were no exception.  After going on hiatus in 2005, I finally got a chance to see them again at the end of September.

The Black Keys at the Palladium, 9/27/10

And we're back!  Time to catch up on the many shows I've been to in the last three months, followed by all kinds of fun end-of-the-year content (lists and the like).  In other words, this paragraph is basically saying Apres moi, le deluge...

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Muse at Staples Center, 9/25/10

While my personal life (school, moving, work, etc.) have kept me from writing anything here for a couple weeks, it hasn't stopped me from going to concerts.  Though, since this blog is really just a hobby, one that doesn't pay me anything beyond the satisfaction of knowing that literally more than ten people read it, I guess this, too, is part of my personal life, so maybe I've just been lazy?  Wait, where was I?  Ah, yes.  Muse.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Phoenix and Grizzly Bear at the Hollywood Bowl, 9/18/2010

After a brief respite, it was time to get back in the concert groove with an interesting show at the Bowl, one of the best venues in Southern California.  Though I've never listened to their most recent album, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, all the way through, this was the third time I'd seen them this year, so they must be doing something right.  Grizzly Bear, on the other hand, is a band capable of great beauty and ponderous effort, sometimes within the same song, but I'd been told over and over that I needed to see them live to really appreciate what they do.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Hold Steady at Detroit Bar, 8/25/10

Sometimes things just come together, no matter how bad they start out.  I was supposed to see The Hold Steady at the El Rey in May, but that week brought an extra special surprise in the tiny, spiky and painful form of my first (and for the love of all that is good and decent and right in the world, hopefully last) kidney stone.  When I saw this show announced I knew the universe was trying to even the score.  The world's best bar band in a tiny bar twenty minutes from where I live?  Yes, please.

The Bellrays at Spaceland, 8/21/10

A lot of the bands I write about are fairly well known, successful groups, but not everyone makes it through.  The Bellrays' biggest success so far has been selling their song "Revolution Get Down" for a Nissan Xterra commercial a few years ago (it was fairly ubiquitous; I can't find it online, but chances are you saw it if you watched TV in 2004).  That's a shame, because they've been making damn fine music, 'punk rock & soul' as they call it, since the mid-90's.  Almost two decades in, and they still tore up Spaceland last weekend.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Free Lions at Que Sera, 8/23/10

A whole lot can happen in two years, even while feeling like it happened in an instant.  Something that seemed like it might only be a lark can evolve into something formidable and real.  It's hard to believe it's been two years, almost to the day, since Free Lions played their first show at the Good Hurt in Los Angeles, and harder still to believe it's been over a year since I wrote about a fleshed-out version of the band impressing at the Yost Theater in Santa Ana.  What's not hard to believe, however, is that in the here and now Free Lions is a very good band, one that has grown into itself and then pushed outward for more.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

My Morning Jacket at the Greek Theater, 8/12/10

Last week, I was lucky enough to see one of the best live bands around twice in three days, first at the Greek in LA, and then in San Francisco at the Outside Lands festival two days later.  Since I'll have a full rundown of my weekend in Golden Gate Park coming up, I'm not going to spend too much time on this show, but I do have some thoughts on why I may avoid the Greek like the plague going forward.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Against Me! and Silversun Pickups at the Greek Theater, 8/6/10

After giving my ears a couple weeks off from the sounds of pounding drums, screeching guitars and the like, it was right back into the fold with two newer bands (for me, anyway): Against Me! and Silversun Pickups.  It was a strange match, despite my fondness for both, so I was eager to see how it would be received.  As it turns out, pretty well.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Dead Weather at the Palladium, 7/21/10

My concert extravaganza--three shows in three nights--finished on an extremely strong note with The Dead Weather.  I raved about them last summer, and rightly so, but a lot of that was the excitement of something new.  This time around, they had a second record worth of material to choose from and a year of touring together under their collective belt.  The result was a band that has more than come into its own.

Obits and The Night Marchers at Alex's Bar, 7/20/10

I went into this show meaning to focus more on Obits, since I'd never seen them before, and I already did a lengthy review on the Night Marchers back in November.  But between Obits playing a bunch of new stuff that sucked me in and Speedo messing up the momentum of the Night Marchers set by overdoing the banter, I don't have a ton to say about either.  Brief thoughts to follow, if you please...

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Tool at Nokia Theater, 7/19/10

Not many bands can be said to have a unique sound.  Everything sounds like bits and pieces of everything else, and that's just fine.  Necessary, even.  Some of my favorite bands are the least original ones, like The Hold Steady, who take an idea, a sound that's been around, and play it better than anyone.  But when you get a band that takes their influences, mixes it with their own talents and creates something impressive and original, well, that's fairly incredible.  From where I'm sitting (on a dinner table chair next to my bed, for the record), that band is Tool.

Concert Roundup: Roky Erickson, LCD Soundsystem

Hello!  This place has been a ghost town for too long, and I actually have concerts and other things to share with you from the past couple weeks, but I'm so OCD about chronology that I have to say a few things about a couple shows that deserved longer thoughts from a less distracted person.  But, they got me, as do you, and that's just how it is.  So kicking off my return are some truncated reactions to things that happened quite a while ago...

Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Besnard Lakes at the Troubadour, 5/13/10

Most of what I write on here pertains to live music, and very little of it is negative.  I'd like to think I can be objective, but honestly, I love it too much sometimes to be able to step back and call it like it is.  Don't get me wrong, I'm sincere in my praise, but much like how food tastes great when you're hungry, regardless of the actual quality, I have such an appetite for the experience of a show that it becomes varying degrees of awesome, not a question of good or bad.  The best, though, is the first time I get to see a band with which I've recently fallen into a torrid affair.  It's one thing to listen to an album (or albums) over and over, but another thing altogether to see it brought to life.  That was where I found myself a couple weeks ago at the Troubadour.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Coachella 2010, Day 1: Oh, the humanity!

It's April, and for me that means one thing: Coachella.  After being drawn to the desert in 2004 by Radiohead and the Pixies, I've been every year since.  As I like to say, it's the greatest weekend of my life and it happens every year.  That may be a bit hyperbolic, but only a bit.  Nowhere else can I see so many bands all in the same place, and it's more or less guaranteed to surprise me.  This year was no different, though it did get off to a rocky start.  In the days leading up to the festival Goldenvoice had announced that the festival was sold out, and that the number of tickets sold was 75,000, the most I can remember in the seven years I've been going.  So I anticipated a lot of people, but what I encountered was another thing entirely.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

More Than Alright

On Monday, the music world suffered a loss that will be overlooked by far too many: Supergrass broke up.  I know they weren't especially well known over here, only coming out to tour every few years or so, but I've loved them for a long time, even going so far as to include their most recent (sigh, final) album on my best of the decade list.  Perhaps ignored because of their penchant for silliness, the band went from a mashup of influences such as the Kinks and Buzzcocks to a legitimate rock force with which to be reckoned.  When they released their debut, I Should Coco, in 1995, a friend of mine had heard about them from his older sister, and we would listen to "Caught by the Fuzz" and "I Don't Know" constantly.  I still remember staying up until midnight on Saturdays to catch MTV's 120 Minutes video show--since it was the only place to see cool stuff that was still under the radar--hoping to catch the video for "Caught by the Fuzz."  Wow, imagine MTV still being a source of interesting music!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Bad Religion at House of Blues Anaheim, 4/1/10

I knew when I did my huge lists of my favorite albums of the decade I would leave stuff out.  It's just the nature of lists that we forget things, no matter how long we spend putting it together.  But boy, did I commit an egregious error when I left out Bad Religion.  I ignored another of my favorite bands, Rocket From The Crypt, because I didn't feel anything they put out in that time span was quite good enough.  Bad Religion, on the other hand, had a major creative upswing in the 2000's when founding member Brett Gurewitz came back, and the first album they did after the reunion, The Process of Belief, absolutely deserved to make the list.  I admit, sometimes I'm remiss.  After seeing them again recently, I feel even worse about it, but I'm confident they still have some strong material in them, something that'll make my inevitable list of the 10's.  (What follows is likely to be long, so consider yourself warned.)

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Surfer Blood at Detroit Bar, 3/28/10

Living in Southern California brings with it many perks: Mexican food; the weather; the beach (if you're into that kind of thing); Mexican food; In-N-Out; Legoland and, of course, Mexican food.  But perhaps the best thing about living here is the abundance of concerts constantly taking place within driving distance.  I don't even know how I'd adjust if I moved somewhere more isolated; I can deal with a slower pace, but where's my live music???  And sometimes you don't even have to drive to LA or Pomona or San Diego, because sometimes buzz bands make stops in little bars like Detroit in Costa Mesa.  (I was once lucky enough to catch Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Liars and Jon Spencer Blues Explosion there right before YYYs blew up, but now I'm just bragging...).  This was the case last Sunday, when Surfer Blood showed up in Orange County.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club at the Echoplex, 3/12/10

Cinderella once sang, "Don't know what you got till it's gone," and while I think we were all more or less aware of what we had in Cinderella, they still sang true.  During my dizzy time in the bunker (which rotated between my apartment and my girlfriend's), I was so preoccupied with my health and how disorienting the vertigo was that it never even occurred to me that I hadn't been to a concert since the second week of December.  For me, that's quite a while.  Luckily, a remedy was on the horizon: Black Rebel Motorcycle Club.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Vertigo Your Own Way; or How I Learned to Stop Spinning and Love the Blog

Why, hello there.  As you could probably tell from the post below this, it's been over two months since I wrote anything on here, and for all of you who care, I apologize.  It's been nice to actually receive some complaints about my lack of output, but I assure you, I've had a good reason.  A full explanation for my absence and our first ever guest appearance coming after the jump.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Me and My Decade 3: The Final Chapter

New Year's took a little bit more out of me than I expected it to (which seems like a gross miscalculation on my part, but I digress...), so this is a few days later than I had intended.  But after thousands and thousands of words to sort it out--and thousands more below, to be sure--we've finally arrived at the end of my attempt to document the music of the decade that mattered the most to me.  It's been fun, but please let me know what some of your choices would have been, or why some (or all) of mine are terrible, or even just chime in with some "Supergrass, hell yeah!" level remarks.  And if you haven't read parts 1 & 2 yet, just scroll down, or you can find them here and here.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Alive in the Superunknown

I had to take a break from all my listing to point out this exciting story I just read: Soundgarden is (probably) getting back together!  Apparently, all that I had to do to make this happen was briefly lament their demise in my Metallica review.  This is the most exciting reunion I could think of, personally, since Soundgarden was one of my first, favorite bands.  When my parents bought me my first CD player back in middle school, Superunknown was the first album I went out and bought personally, and I still listen to it fairly often.  And no kid of about my age could get through MTV or radio without seeing the amazingly creepy "Black Hole Sun" video, or hearing "Spoonman," "My Wave" or "Fell On Black Days" on KROQ (you know, back when KROQ was still good).  Lead singer Chris Cornell recently showed up at a Pearl Jam show, sounding as good as ever, and drummer Matt Cameron is still playing great, these days with Pearl Jam.  I can only assume that Kim Thayil (lead guitar) and Ben Shepherd (bass) still know what they're doing.  If this rumor pans out, I really hope they pop up at Coachella; it would be roughly infinity times more exciting than when the Pixies did it.