January 31, 2011

Against Me! @ The Music Box ~ Jan. 30, 2011

Punk Rock is not dead. Not that anyone said it was. But Against Me! demonstrated just how alive it can be.

Although I was harboring some resentments about missing Fake Problems and SUFFERING through Cheap Girls, I managed to pull out of it when Against Me! descended onto the crowd. The previously meandering crowd rushed forward, thrashing stragglers aside when AM! hit the crowd hard with "Pints of Guinness Make You Strong." And I hope it does, because the floor remained a raging pit for most of the next 25 songs - yes 25 songs!

Tom Gabel belted out song after song with not so much as a pause between them, thumping his chest and laughing with the crowd. It was surprising that you could hear him at all over the singing of the masses. AM!'s high energy fueled the pit as as many people floated on top of the crowd as remained on the floor. The band was impeccable, with old timers James Bowman and Andrew Seward representing. The new drummer, Jay Weinberg, was f*%king awesome; he hit so hard you could feel it way in the back where the cowards (like me) danced safely out of the crowd's way.

"White Crosses," "I was a Teenage Anarchists," "The Ocean," "Thrash Unreal," "Miami," and "Sink, Florida, Sink" were amongst my favorite (shortened list), but I don't think they played a song the crowd didn't know and love. I was thrilled when they came out with "Up the Cuts" as their first of four encores - because yes, I am thinking what they are, and yes, I am restless like them. During the encore, avid fans jumped on stage, sang with the band, and stage dived back into the crowd unmolested by security. Punk rock.

This was one of those rare shows where I was not only concerned for the safety of my good friend crowd surfing in the pit, I also wanted the band to play on all night, regardless of the safety of said friend.

Very well done.

SET LIST (with videos, not of show):

Photo by P. Viani

January 27, 2011

Lucero w/ Crooks & Liars @ Velvet Jones ~ Jan. 26, 2011

What kind of time can you expect when you walk into a venue and the place and patrons reek of strong whiskey before the show even starts? A damn good one, that's for sure.

It felt more like a home coming than a rock show, and for some that's what it was. Locals Crooks & Liars, otherwise known as "Donald!", opened the show with their hard country rock sound. Lead by front man and Velvet Jones bartender, Donald, C&L rallied the crowd with constant banter and songs about drinking, followed by more songs about drinking - there was a lot of drinking involved. Donald quipped about the crowd only having to "suffer through one shitty band" before the headliner, which wasn't true; there was no suffering involved. C&R played a solid set and ended with a cheery singalong, getting the crowd ready for more.

Lucero came on stage looking like a bunch of rough road dogs. Just coming from a sold out show with Social Distortion the day before, they had every right to look worn out. But I think they just look that way, because they certainly did not play like theys were tired. With a voice that sounded like he had to smoke a pack with a fifth of Jack every two hours, Ben Nichols lead you through a honky-tonk musical adventure, his voice feeling like warm whiskey for the soul. Drinking heavily and playing hard, Lucero delivered country style punk rock for nearly two and a half hours. Requests were sung, mistakes were made, and a good time was had by all.

Well done.

January 20, 2011

Ra Ra Riot @ SOhO ~ Jan. 19, 2011

Have you ever tried something new - and were forever changed because you did? I had that experience tonight.

Walking into an all ages show is never fun after you are of a certain age, but tonight's show proved otherwise. The crowd was there for the music, regardless of age. The Givers opened the night with a genuine intensity that sparked a light in the people lucky enough to have arrived early to experience them. 

The band was lead by a hot vivacious young woman, aptly named Tif, playing a huge percussion drum and a squirrelly looking blond dude (didn't figure out his name) doing most of the lead vocals. The music was funky, full of rhythm, chantey without being preachy, and made you move. I was not at all familiar with them when I arrived, but I definitely left a huge fan, if not slightly infatuated with Tif.

But of course I was there for the headliners, Ra Ra Riot, and man was I completely blown away. Now, I am not familiar with their second album, The Orchard, and only slightly familiar with their first, The Rhumb Line, but this was definitely one of the best shows I have seen at SOhO. The band is made up of vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards, a cello, and a violin. The music is very full and robust, and sounds like something I like to call "chamber indie rock" (I told that to a 60-something year old man tonight when asked - so it is now in circulation and you can use it). The guys in the band all oddly looked like each other tonight - all wearing glasses and looking a lot like Harry Potter. This was a bit off putting. But I got over it half way through the first song.

When they quickly played my song, "Can You Tell," I thought the rest of the show would be the frosting on the cake (or some other type of delicious filler). But when cellist Alexandra started singing "You and I Know" off Orchard, I had an actual musical awakening. I felt something was different, so I closed my eyes and let her voice and the deep intense chamber music fill me. With my eyes closed, I experienced the song and the band live for the first time - it was something. 

And, for toppers, I have never heard the sound sound so good at SOhO. The venue has a tendency to sound hollow and a bit echo-y. Tonight it was thick and warm and embracing. (I warned that I had had an experience). I danced the entire set to the lively jams and experienced it all with the enthusiastic crowd. We had a moment. The set closed with "Dying Is Fine" and the crowd bubbling with vibrancy, definitely spelt over from both the bands tonight.

Well done.

January 17, 2011

Taylor Locke & The Roughs @ Muddy Waters ~ Jan. 16, 2011

Small, intimate, coffee house shows can go either way: be a waste of time or be enlightening. Tonight's show, brought to Muddy Waters Coffee House by local New Noise Santa Barbara, was the latter.

Although three separate acts, the artists supported each other throughout each set. The opener was a young woman from Maine on her first tour, and her first stop through Santa Barbara. Playing solo on the keyboards, a young fresh faced Lindsey Ray sang melodic love lost songs in an angelic voice. During a very cheery ditty, Lindsey admitted that she wrote the song as a commercial jingle - any commercial - and that song is now in a yogurt commercial. Yay.

Bleu (not a misspelling) followed in an eclectic set utilizing vocal loops, accordion melodies, and various vocal effects. His experimental songs ranged in style from indie pop rock to electric jam rock. Starting off his set with "No Such Thing As Love", with heavy emphasis on a choir pitch vocal loop and accordion melodies, he flowed into "Everything is Fine," a high energy pop song co-writtened by power pop songwriter Roger Joseph Manning Jr of Jellyfish fame. Bleu then went into a 6 minute homage to ELO, and ended with a Springsteen-esk guitar rock number with members of The Roughs giving heavy guitar and bass support.

The headliner was Taylor Locke and the Roughs, a rock band featuring Taylor Locke from Rooney. Their set consisted of guitar heavy rock songs with catchy riffs and easy melodies, infused with keyboards reminiscent of classic rock. I had a very Malkovich moment when they played "Jenny," an upbeat rock ballad (think Journey), soon followed by "Jennifer," a sexy bluesy jam (think ZZ Top). They ended with what Locke referred to as a "sweep," segueing the last three songs complete with the classic guitar feedback finish. (Did I mention guitar?)

Well done.

January 4, 2011

Pinback @ Velvet Jones ~ Jan. 2, 2011

Damn, I love a good rock show. And Pinback delivered.

The self-proclaimed "alternative indie rock band" managed to pack Velvet Jones, despite it being a rainy Sunday night following the big New Year's weekend. The crowd was one of the best looking hipster crowds I have seen in the club, and as chatty as expected. Despite the babbling of the crowd, and the "American football game on the tele" (their quote although Pinback is from San Diego), the show pretty much rocked. Rob, the larger bearded singer, pounded beer after beer and struggled with technical difficulties (unrelated to the 8 New Castles he put back on stage) while Zac chuckled and continued onward. The highlight for me was "Good to Sea" segueing directly into "Fortress" effortlessly. Then, to boot, Rob strummed his guitar with his mouth during the intro to "Boo", the first of three encore songs, ending their set with some old school Pinback. Well Done.

Jenny Schlax's 2010 List of: Best Live Music Shows

I love lists! So of course I love the end of the year where you make a list of all the things you liked that happened that year. I got the idea for this list from a friend, rather I stole this idea from a friend... But, I do go to a lot of shows. Love it. In 2010 I tried to see more new, upcoming music to avoid the disappointment I sometimes get from seeing larger established bands. Also, fans of the bigger bands can suck. The beginning of the year was slow for seeing music, I blame a big move (or two) and travel for work during the early spring. But music really took off for me towards the end of summer. I listed all the shows I saw (that I could remember), but my favorites are in bold. I had a hard time limiting it to 10, so I added stars next to other good shows too. The Bouncing Souls were the very very best of the year for me. I am staying positive, so I won't rank the disappointments (TOOL).

G Love - 2/14 SLO Brew Co

Tommy & the High Pilots - 3/26 Velvet Jones

Cat OK - 3/30 Muddy Waters

FAR - 5/19 Velvet Jones

*Har Mar Superstar - 5/21 SOhO

Imogen Heap - 6/21 Granada

*Joey Cape, Bad Astronaut - 7/8 Velvet Jones

Wil Ridge, Chris Shifflet & the Dead Peasants- 7/13 Velvet Jones

Tool - 7/19 Staples Center

*Pinback - 7/24 El Rey

Primus, Wolfmother - 8/15 SB Bowl

Hold Steady - 8/27 Velvet Jones

Fitz & the Tantrums - 9/16 SOhO

Japandroids - 9/20 Muddy Watters

Epicenter Festival (Bad Religion, Suicidal Tendencies, Rise Against, Against Me!, Blink 182) - 9/26 Fontana Speedway

Chuck Regan - 10/9 Velvet Jones

Street Dogs - 10/11 Velvet Jones

Vs the World - 10/15 Velvet Jones

Mumford & Sons - 10/18 Paladium

White Rabbits - 10/20 SOhO

Stomprocket, Retrodemon - 10/29 Whiskey Richards

NNSB, Murderland - 11/4 Whiskey

NNSB, Souls of Mischief - 11/4 Velvet Jones

NNSB, DJ Peanut Butter - 11/5 Canary Rooftop

NNSB, Old Man Markley - 11/5 Velvet Jones

NNSB, Wil Ridge - 11/5 SOhO

NNSB, Dead Country, Voxhaul Broadcast - 11/5 Whiskey Richards

NNSB, Sunshine Brothers - 11/6 Velvet Jones

NNSB, Verna Beware - 11/6 Whiskey Richards

NNSB, He's My Brother, She's My Sister; Saint Motel - 11/6 SOhO

Cold War Kids - 11/9 SOhO

Alkaline Trio - 11/14 SLO Brew Co

**Bouncing Souls, Adolescents - 11/20 HOB Anaheim

Ozomatli - 12/2 SOhO

DJ Martin Gore - 12/3 the old Nu

The Tridents - 12/3 SOhO

Tokyo Police Club - 12/10 Velvet Jones

Billy Idol - 12/18 Ventura Majestic

*Tommy & the High Pilots - 12/22 SOhO

Animal Liberation Orchestra - 12/30 SOhO

Happy New Year & love to all!