December 31, 2011

Tommy and Then High Pilots Christmas Show @ The Lobero ~ December 23, 2011

Oh, Those Home Town Boys

They really stepped it up for Christmas this year. Tommy & The High Pilots nearly sold out the Lobero for their now annual must see Christmas Show.  And the show they put on not only demonstrated their growing talent, but their growing presence as entertainers.

The opening act was a combo of Dishwalla, The Plain White Ts, and Rock Kills Kid – acoustic. All local grown and chop full of talent. The trio played through a variety of songs, including some covers, and showed genuine affection for each other. Ah, that Christmas spirit…

It started to look a lot like Christmas when the boys took to the stage. Playing a montage of original music and beloved Christmas songs, Tommy & The High Pilots brought the house down.  They even brought out local music icon Kenny Logins to bring in more Christmas cheer.

We laughed, we sung, we danced… A lovely time was had by all.  A Tommy & The High Pilots Christmas Show has definitely become a holiday must for Santa Barbarians.

December 18, 2011

The Naked & Famous @ SOhO ~ December 16, 2011

Where the People Are

The Naked and Famous played to an excited sold out full house at SOhO, where people I’ve never seen in our little town bubble came out in droves.

And you had to fight for a spot to see the band, what with SOhO having a notoriously short stage and it being sold out and all. But once you got one, you held your ground.

And you were thankful you did. Indie rock infused with keyboards and eclectic melodies danced its way around the crowd as the New Zealand indie rock band set to entertain the masses. It was surprising to realize just how many popular songs this relatively new band has in circulation. It seemed that the crowd was able to sing to most and dance to all the songs they threw at us.

This band has the buzz. And they can deliver.

The KROQ Almost Acoustic Christmas @ The Gibson Theater ~ December 11, 2011

How to Choose?

The line up:  Grouplove, The Naked and Famous, Foster The People, Cage The Elephant, Noel Gallagher, Florence + The Machine, Death Cab For Cutie, Mumford & Sons, The Black Keys, and Jane’s Addiction.

Who will be the stand out band? Hmmm…

The line up was daunting – so much to see! I definitely went in thinking I knew band would be the best. I mean, duh, I have good taste in music.  But I was not even close.

The show was set up on a revolving stage with 25, 30, and 45 minutes sets, increasing as the night progressed. It made the lag time between sets non-existent and created the perfect music sampler!

It also made it necessary to choose which band would be the “pee break” band (Cage the Elephant of course).

So the three best performances for me were Grouplove, Noel Gallagher, and Florence + The Machine.

Grouplove was a fresh-faced band with an upbeat urban jungle sound that proved to be the new hottest thing. Noel Gallagher got me because I didn’t think he would. I mean Oasis… really? But yeah, really. The man can sing!

But by far, the band of the night was unmistakably Florence + The Machine. With an elegant, TALL presence and a voice that radiated through my body, Florence was not only stunning but also extremely gifted. And I mean gifted as in a voice of an angel. There was a feeling of awe that permeated through the crowd as we all danced while straining to get a glance at the goddess.

The show was an amazing cliff note of what was hot in 2011. Definitely the bands to have seen, making it real hard to choose favorites.  But I stand by my choices.

November 21, 2011

Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings @ SOhO ~ November 19, 2011

A Whole Bunch of Soul

Sharon Jones is tiny. I mean like 4 foot nothing. For that much voice to come out of such a pint sized person is truly a marvel of nature. But it does, and in abundance.

Playing in a sold out, packed house, one had to fight to get just the tiniest glimpse of the Sharon Jones – I mean really fight, elbows and all. And where did all the damn tall people come from?! …Or one could surrender to the funky sounds, dance, and accept that you could only see the top of Sharon’s hair like a shark in the crowd. So surrender I did.

The band was amazing. The Dap Kings (and the Dappettes) came out first and warmed up the crowd. The soul funk styling’s of the Dap Kings is reminiscent of classic 1960’s R&B, part of the revivalist movement that brought about singers like Amy Winehouse. Classic and deep. As anticipation built, my friend excitedly exclaimed “I feel like Jay Leno is gonna come out!” Keeping it classy.

When the shark herself finally came out it was like a tidal wave hit. The crowd instantly got moving, and responded to Sharon’s every wail. The music was so uplifting, her voice was so majestic, that people danced till they were a heaping puddle of smiling sweat. And dance we did for the next 2 hours to the funky soul.

If you didn’t come in a fan of Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings, you definitely left one.  And left with a lil’ bit more soul because of it.

November 14, 2011

We Were Promised Jetpacks @ The Music Box ~ November 10, 2011

photo by p.viani
Before It Becomes Uncomfortable

It’s all about the build up, and We Were Promised Jetpacks knows how to build up the tension. 

The young Scottish indie rock band stands apart from their peers in their ability to build beautiful crescendos, climax, crash, and build again all in one 5 minute song. They are not about the quick and dirty 3 minuter.  

Seeing the band live at The Music Box, allowed me to physically feel the build up and both hope for and dread relief. I got to see how singer Adam Thompson approached the microphone, as he predominantly stood four feet away and belted out lyrics in its general direction, creating a sorrowful wailing effect with a unique Scottish flavor.

Although not interacting directly with the crowd (which I didn’t mind), WWPJ drove the crowd into a frenzy throughout their hour long set, playing songs off both their albums.

The set ended without circumstances or encore. I guess it was just all about the build up.

Raiders @ Oakland Colosseum ~ November 6, 2011

November 8, 2011

Day 3 Review of New Noise Festival 2011

What Dreams Are Made Of

I was looking forward to day three most of all! Can you say reverie?

Russ Rankin of Good Riddance fame playing solo at a coffee shop in Santa Barbara is dream worthy to a punk rock girl like myself. I wasn’t disappointed.  A very humble Rankin, fighting a sore throat, took to the corner (there’s no stage at Muddy) with nothing but an electric guitar. His voice held on as he lamented his way through his solo songs with heart and honesty, explaining the meaning and purpose of each song as he went. He made me remember why I love punk rock. It inspires action, deep thought, and rebellion. Not to mention, no one writes a love song like a punk rocker.

Due to the buzz around the headliner at Savoy, I elected to skip the other acts to post up for Vokab Kompany. I was glad I did. Consisting of 2 MCs, a female vox, a violinist, a hot bass player, a sax, a guitar, and drums, the band was electric. The intensity was palpable and infectious. With heavy riffs and hard-hitting lyrics, Vokab rocked the crowd. There wasn’t a corner in Savoy that wasn’t infected.

It was a night for the ages. One that will repeat over and over in my dreams. Don’t wake me.

Day 2 Review of New Noise Music Festival 2011

Free Flowin’

Sometimes you have to go with the flow – as long as the flow is going in the direction you want to go. And my flow was leading me to a ton of rad new music.

The night started as planned at SOhO to check out singer/song writer Ralph Torrefranco’s upbeat melodies. Then quickly flowed down State Street to the Whiskey/Velvet/Savoy sector.

I bounced around the tri-factor of clubs, until settling in (unbeknownst) to Savoy for the evening – the lines were building at the clubs and I did not want to miss the headliner at Savoy. Portland’s Wild Ones provided eclectic upbeat tunes, followed closely by SB’s The Mutineers’ bluegrass sound.  By now, Savoy was packed with music fans eager to explore new music.

Typhoon’s 12 members took to the stage and immediately filled the club with horns, strings, and percussions.  The intensity of emotion that protruded from the music was tangible through the crowd. The band was extremely talented and worth spending the majority of my night at one club waiting for them to take the stage.

On the return flow back up State Street, I was able to jump into Velvet to catch 2 songs by the Mad Caddies, then Whiskey to catch the end of Blazing Haley’s set.

I love going with the flow of New Noise!

Day 1 Review of New Noise 2011

Oh What a Night!

I started off at Muddy Waters, where the chai latte is delicious and the crowd is young and serious.  I was just able to down a chai and catch half of Kat Devlin’s heartfelt acoustic set before having to jet off to the next stop.

The Phantogram show at SOhO was packed to the brim with curious music seekers. And we were witness to a great electronic music and laser light show. Bass heavy trip hop beats filled the room, and although the vocals could have been louder, the band mesmerized the crowd into a trance dance that lasted a full hour.

Leaving that show a bit early to catch Deer Tick at Velvet, I was pleasantly surprised to find Velvet filled to capacity and a waiting line to get in - at midnight on a Thursday in Santa Barbara! Way to be SB! I knew I was in for a good time. Deer Tick came on loud and strong. The sound was perfect and their set was upbeat and heavy on the country tip. Perfect way to end the night.

November 5, 2011

New Noise Music Festival 2011 Picks ~ Saturday, Nov. 5, 2011

There Can Be Only One! …Maybe 3.

You got to go deep with this Saturday’s New Noise Music Festival line up.There’s rock, hip-hop, and DJs. Doing a little research will help you make theright picks, luckily I’ve done your homework for you!

Here are my picks for Day 3:

Russ Rankin(of Good Riddance; Santa Cruz)
Punk Rock Icon, solo
Deets: Saturday,9:30pm @ Muddy Waters
Soundslike: Acoustic punk rock (lyrically driven songs with fast guitar)
CoolFactor: Legendary. Seeing a punk rock icon live & solo at a small venue inSanta Barbara. So close to greatness.

Deep DarkRobot (Linda Perry of 4 NonBlondes; New York
Deets:Saturday, 11pm @ Whiskey Richards
Sounds like:Early Hole with a good singer
CoolFactor: Real rock. Lead by rock veteran Linda Perry of L7, you get nothingby rock and roll baby. Sexy.

VokabKompany (San Diego)
Electric Hip-Hop Funk
Deets:Saturday, 11:30pm @ The Savoy
Soundslike: A lite version of Jurastic
CoolFactor: Funky Fresh. Like nothing else you’ve seen in SB. Two fast flowingMCs back by funky electric beats. Very danceable.

Don't forget about the New Noise Block Party 1-5:30pm Saturday with local bands and vendors. First ever! Right out from the Arlington. Get in the local music community.

November 4, 2011

New Noise Music Festical 2011 Picks ~ Friday, Nov. 4, 2011

Decisions Have To Be Made.

Dude. Friday night of the New Noise Music Festival is hard for choices: Local party band?  Out of town big band music? Chill surf rock?  Ug! Why?! Why so many good choices! 

But it seems none would be a bad choice, so here are mine for Day 2:  

Ralph  Torrefrana (Santa Barbara)
Indie Pop / Folk
Deets: Friday, 8:30pm @ SOhO
Sounds like: A funky fresh version of Matt Costa
Cool Factor: Fresh face. Fresh sound. (Plus, the kid used to work with me at KjEE, so I got to show him some love.)

Noise Within (Southern California)
Rock / Metal
Deets: Friday, 10pm @ Whiskey Richards
Sounds like:  F’ing metal!   \m/
Cool Factor: Raw sound. With John Fahnstock of Snot, these guys know true hard rock. Keep it real.

Typhoon (Portland)
Indie Orchestra Pop
Deets: Friday, 11:30pm @ The Savoy
Sounds like: A young American version of Arcade Fire
Cool Factor: It’s big. Usually playing with 14 members, not only is the band big, so is the sound.

November 2, 2011

New Noise Music Festival 2011 Picks - Thursday, Nov. 3, 2011

A Little Help Please!

Festivals can be hard to navigate, but there is one rule of thumb: explore! It’s a festival, bounce around and get out of your comfort zone!

Here are my picks for DAY 1:

Little Indian (Santa Barbara)
Singer Song writer / on the Folk tip
Deets: Thursday, 8:40pm @ Muddy Waters
Sounds like: A young, soulful Fiona Apple or Audra Mae
Cool Factor: On the pulse. A pint-sized girl with lots of attitude and talent just looking for someone to love… or devour. This girl has options.

Phantogram (Saratoga Springs)
Indie Electric Rock Duo (very popular right now)
Deets: Thursday, 10:30pm @ SOhO
Sounds like: A trippier version of The Blow or The Knife
Cool Factor: Bragging rights. A young band on the rise with atmospheric, trip-hop catchy beats in a small venue. Very groovy.

Deer Tick (Providence)
Indie Folk Rock / Blues / On the Country tip (just the tip)
Deets: Thursday, 11:15pm @ Velvet Jones
Sounds like: A countrified Bon Iver
Cool Factor: You were there. They are just freakin’ cool. Gritty, melodic, and real. You feel their pain

November 1, 2011

Evil Dead: The Musical @ The Center Stage ~ October 31, 2011

Welcome to the Splatter Zone 

Evil Dead set to music. Does it really get any better than this? 

If you are into the horror genre you know that The Evil Dead is a classic. Teenage kids go to a deserted cabin in the woods to party is just inviting mayhem. Add in an ancient book of the dead, and walla, a cult classic.

But a musical? That was interesting. And fun. Especially while sitting in the splatter zone.

The cast was young and full of talent. The dialogue was witty and adhered close to (lightly) that of the movie. Of course, the songs were a new touch.

Ash, played by a young Adam Quinney, grew into character as the play flew along, hitting all the notable hit lines like “this is my boom stick!” The masks of the demons/zombies (I have an issue with this definition) were remarkable and the musical acts were laugh out loud funny.

And each of the gore scenes set streams of fake blood gushing into the audience – if you upgraded to the splatter zone seats (ponchos were available for purchase). And if you felt you didn’t get drenched enough in blood, the cast came round and doused you more, actually using a baster.

Playing to a packed house on Halloween, this musical was a bona fide hit.

Well worth the dry cleaning bill later.

Blazing Haley @ Velvet Jones ~ October 28, 2011

He's My Brother, She's My Sister @ SOhO ~ October 26, 2011

October 16, 2011

Frank Turner @ The EL Rey ~ October 15, 2011

Saving Souls

Sometimes you need a breath of fresh air to give your soul life again. Frank Turner supplied that breath last Thursday.

Friends, family, and countrymen (Frank is English, it’s a term he uses) gathered to revel in the high voltage folk punk rock that Frank Turner and his band belted out to a packed LA crowd.

There was a tangible bond emanating from the roomful of fans singing their hearts out along with the talented singer songwriter. Twisting some new songs in with some classics, Franks played through a twenty-three song set list with fever. Frank kept a lively paced, as did the talented band, as did the adoring fans.

Frank encored with “The Ballad of Me & My Friends,” a fan favorite and true bar ballad.  Then followed with the upbeat “Photosynthesis” aptly leaving the crowd yelling  “I won't sit down, And I won't shut up, And most of all I will not grow up”.
I think it’s safe to say, Frank saved a few souls that night.


October 11, 2011

Voodoo Glow Skulls @ SOhO ~ September 7, 2011

Old School Ska in the House

Santa Barbara is not necessarily known for its punk rock or ska music scene, so it was refreshing to see a showcase hosting both. Especially when one was from my high school alma mater - Norte Vista (Riverside, CA) .

After locals La Vasa and Silent Meow killed it with the punk, VGS took to the stage close to midnight to kick in the ska. The band, made up of three Casillas brothers (all attended NOVI), a drummer, and 2 horn players, attacked the small crowd while the singer wore a wrestling mask. Very IE.

Fast, loud, aggressive, with the occasional dub break, the band played non stop til near 2 am. The crowd had a decent pit going while the music had the bystanders jumping and everyone's ears ringing (I forgot my ear plugs). 

I was really bummed there wasn't a bigger crowd there to enjoy the madness.

October 3, 2011

Bright Eyes @ The Santa Barbara Bowl ~ September 25, 2011

photo by Lady E Photography

This is what I experienced -  click the link & listen. 


Sean Hayes @ SOhO ~ September 23, 2011

Let’s Fall In

The crowd at SOhO soaked up the southern styling of singer-songwriter Sean Hayes with opened arms and closed eyes.

As a first time listener, I found it easy to fall under Sean’s spell while he wove tales of love, loss, and life exploration. With a twangy, raspy voice and southern styled rock accompaniment, Sean Hayes’ story portraits (aka “songs”) are gripping, full of pain, joy, and wonderment.

The stark honesty and relatability of the lyrics backed by grooving guitar rhythms pulled you in and held you closed.  The crowd was engrossed with each song on the twenty song set that flowed effortlessly from the three man band.  It felt more like a two hour story session than a musical set.

It doesn’t happen often, but it is nice to fall in at first listen.

The falling
That is ours to enjoy
The opening
That is ours to explore

September 20, 2011

The Walkmen with Fleet Foxes @ SB Bowl ~ September 13, 2011

Vintage Rock and Roll

Well dressed, clean cut, and extremely talented – The Walkmen are a nice homage to classic rock n roll.

The five-piece DC based band unassumingly took to the stage and introduced Santa Barbara to their unique, yet retro sound. The band has been around since 2000 and have six studio albums to their credit, but are known to a relative few.  Their blend of vintage instruments, classic riffs, and vocal styling definitely make them stand apart from most indie rock bands.   

Heavy drums, prominent piano, plunky guitar, and melodic crooning ensued as they made their way through their new and older popular songs to lull the crowd. Think Elvis meets The Cure (like adding bacon to chocolate – sounds weird but it works!).  Crowd interest rose as they started into their older indie rock number “The Rat” which really showed off the band’s talent as drums, guitar, and vocals battle for center attention.  They followed with their new poppy surf rock tune “Angela Surf City” which further demonstrated the band’s musical range.

I was extremely impressed with the vocal range on Hamilton and the tempo kept by the entire ensemble throughout their long set.  The Walkmen may have been the openers, but they were all they show I needed. 

September 10, 2011

Ben Harper @ Del Mar Racetrack ~ September 4, 2011

G Rated Gets You Down

Singing for the crowd closing day of the Del Mar horse races must be hard - even for a pro like Ben Harper. 

Opening with a Bruce Springsteen cover, then proclaiming he's going to keep it G rated, Ben Harper provided us with good back ground music but not a full fledged rock show that I know first hand he can deliver. 

Ben played two full sets, but during the course of each I only recognized two, maybe three, of his own original songs. He performed a great rendition of Led Zeppelin's "No Quarter" which lasted nearly twenty minutes, along with way too many other covers. He even closed it down with a cover!

Ben was good, but really didn't give us a run for our money (get  it - cuz its the horse races..?) 

FYF Festival @ LA ~ September 3, 2011

USC Game 1 @ USC ~ September 3, 2011

The Human League, B52s, The Fixx, and Berlin @ Hollywood Bowl ~ September 2, 2011

Get Out of The State You're In

I am happy to say that I was a child of the 80's (with child being stressed here!). Most of my early 80’s musical experiences came in the form of flash back weekends on KROQ. But luckily I recently got to experience four of the most poplar 80’s bands at one of the most beautiful venues in California.

Berlin, The Fixx, The B-52s, and The Human League played a packed show at the Hollywood Bowl last Friday night – and it was epic.   The well-preserved Terri Nunn of Berlin hosted the event and her infectious enthusiasm kept the crowd pumped – not that the crowd needed it.

Berlin started off the show with Nunn coming out in a dress that could kill and sounding like an angel. The band was solid, with Nunn’s voice booming as she made her way through the crowd in the orchestra section. Berlin played only 5 of their most popular hits then made a quick exit – on a revolving stage. Rad.

The Fixx quickly followed, and to tell you the truth, I wasn’t sure who they were. As my partner in crime (PIC) started singing their hit to me, the band took stage and started with that one – Red Sky At Night. As the set went on, I realized I knew every song by them, I just didn’t know it was The Fixx who sang all those hits. Learn something new every day.

The B52s were next (they dropped the ‘ in 2008 – fun fact). With an average band member age of 60, they had the energy of kids half their age - and they killed it. But they were real weird. They played a long set with a good 50% of it being songs I had never heard before. Space aged sounding stuff, real eclectic-like. But they pulled it off. I lost it when Cindy (the blond) took the lead and started into their early 80’s hit “Give Me Back My Man.” Again, I didn’t realize The (weird) B52s did this edgy new wave song – a fave of mine in junior high. Of course they did their big hits too - “Love Shack”, “Rock Lobster”, and “Private Idaho” among many. Kate (the red head) looked smoking at 63, and Fred played up the grumpy old man well. Loved it! They had the entire Hollywood Bowl up dancing and singing with them. Their weirdo energy was infectious.  

The Human League was the closer – and they were snoozers. They came out on a bare stage (compared to the B52s), all modern new-aged, and started with new music. The entire package alienated me – literally. They only had two hit songs; the set was like wading through a mucky pond only to find two old pennies – just not worth it.  But the girls’ wardrobe was interesting, so there was that. Eh. We bounced.

But even the entire league of humans could not ruin my dance down memory lane.  I had newfound respect for The B52s and a new hope that 60 may be the new 40… Maybe 45.