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.