April 21, 2013

Gaslight Anthem ~ April 20 @ The Majestic Ventura Theater

photo by mishel "meow" orloff

Did You Hear Your Favorite Song One Last Time?

To say I was excited would be an understatement. The Gaslight Anthem show had finally arrived! And I made sure to maintain throughout Earth Day festivities so I would be as clear as day and able to fully absorb the ’59 sound.

The Gaslight Anthem is rock band from Jersey whose members include Brian Fallon (vocals), Alex Rosamilia (Guitar), Alex Levine (bass), and Benny Horowitz (drums).

A relatively young band, Gaslight formed in 2006 and has four albums under their belt. Their earlier albums were more punk in nature, and as they matured, their music has mellowed. Some would say they are a post hardcore punk band, but they have evolved over time to be just a great American rock band. Hailing from the same state as The Boss, Bruce Springsteen, they bring a similar raw guttural rock sound, just to faster beats. Their latest release, Handwritten, has been the most accepted in the mainstream to date.

The vibe at the Majestic Ventura Theater that night was warm and friendly; there definitely was a cheerful buzz in the air.
photo by mishel "meow" orloff
Walking in, my group was instantly scooped up and whizzed away to VIP. Benefit of knowing some people who know some people. We were placed next to the godparents of Alex Levine and made instant friends. In this special space, away from the riotous crowd, we were free to get our dance on and sing every song as loud as we possibly could. The godparents eventually asked us to go back stage with them, but my friend just “meowed” at them & ran away. D’oh! Sometimes it doesn’t pay to have weird friends.

Meow-gate aside, the set was 17 songs long, with 6 (six!) encores. That’s a wonderfully long set. It was a combination of their last three albums, heavy on the new stuff, with a cover of Tom Petty’s Refugee. I was a bit bummed they didn’t play anything off Sink or Swim, their first and my favorite album. But not too bummed. They mixed it up good. And apparently I dance more with my left shoulder than my right (sounds odd, but looks good!), because I definitely felt it the next day. 

They ended (2nd to last actually) with my most favorite song, “Here’s Looking at You Kid.” I’m pretty sure you could barely hear Brian over the crowd & myself. And if this were to be my very last Gaslight Anthem show, at least I heard my favorite song one last time.

Set List:
•   Howl
•  The '59 Sound
•  Handwritten
•  Even Cowgirls Get the Blues
•  Old White Lincoln
•  45
•  Biloxi Parish
•  Señor and the Queen
•  The Queen of Lower Chelsea
•  Film Noir
•  Old Haunts
•  Blue Dahlia
•  Refugee (Tom Petty cover)
•  Too Much Blood
•  Blue Jeans & White T-Shirts
•  Great Expectations
•  Keepsake
•  She Loves You
•  Mulholland Drive
•  Desire
•  Mae
•  Here's Looking at You, Kid
•  The Backseat

April 19, 2013

Sigur Ros ~ April 19, 2013 @ The Santa Barbara Bowl

photo by p.dunkley

Quite Deliberate

How have I not heard of Sigur Ros until now? It seems that their sound had just passed me by. But in a way, I am glad to have not heard them until my musical taste had matured enough to handle their complexity.

Sigur Ros is an Icelandic ambient rock band. I could just stop there and be intrigued. But I go on… Their new age
photo by p.dunkley
classical sound incorporates the use of a bowed guitar, a glockenspiel, a toy piano, an oboe, a full horn section, a banjo, a bass, organs, percussions, and sound samples.  Again I could stop here. But I go on… They are also known for Jonsi Birgisson’s falsetto vocals. Stop.

But I go on. They go beyond the sound. Combined with each song is a deliberate visual “effect.” For the first few songs, a sheet of taffeta-like cloth, that I was later told is called a scrim (thank you informative stranger), hung in front of the band at the front of the stage. Along the back of the scrim images were projected, allowing the band to create larger than life shadows.  

photo by p. dunkley
Once the scrim fell, the audience was able to get a sharper picture of the atmosphere and affect Sigur Ros was purposefully creating. In a way, it was quite nice to let the music and images unfold not knowing or suspecting what would be next. Being unfamiliar with the music allowed it to just create itself for me for the very first time in the deliberate manner they were so skillful at crafting. Every move was for an affect. Every pause for a purpose. It was quite lovely.

This was only the second show of the 2013 Santa Barbara Bowl season, but it was possibly the best SB will see this year. And perhaps that was also quite deliberate.

April 15, 2013

Japandroids @ Velvet Jones ~ April 15, 2013

photo by p. dunkley

Don't We Have Anything To Live For?

“Well of course we do, but till they come true, we’re drinking.” Pretty apropos lyrics for the crowd in attendance at Velvet Jones on a Monday night to see Japandroids, the noise rock duo from Canada.

Japandroids emerged on the scene in 2009 with their debut album, Post-Nothing. With a raw, loud, and reckless sound they came through Santa Barbara a couple years back and blew Muddy Waters away – literally. The music was so palpable I remember my hair moving in the sound. With their second album, Celebration Rock, Japandroids gained popularity and were listed on most of the reputable top album lists of 2012. And their live performance has since upped the ante.

photo by p.dunkley

Known for their loud (have I mentioned loud?) and energetic live performances, Japandroids did not disappoint. The crowd was riotous, dancing and singing along to every song. The boys played mostly songs off their second album, throwing in a few favorites from the first. The highlights for me were “Young Hearts Sparks Fire,” “The Night of Wine & Roses,” and of course, their biggest hit “The House That Heaven Built.” 

I would have preferred to have a longer set in a more intimate setting, like the first Japandroid show I caught. But, alas, with appreciation comes popularity, so I am grateful to catch them on their way up. So until the next show “… we don’t cry for those night to arrive, we yell like hell to the heavens.”

April 13, 2013

Bill W. and Dr. Bob @ Center Stage Theater ~ April 11, 2013

Keeping It Real

I love me some theater. Center Stage Theater, located on the terrace above Paseo Neuvo, brings some of the best and most unusual plays to Santa Barbara. “Bill W. and Dr. Bob” not being the exception.

For those of you not familiar with the title or the topic, Bill W. and Dr. Bob were the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous. I am familiar with the story and was completely intrigued with how this true story about two exceptional men who have touched so many people’s lives would be portrayed on stage.

It was very well done. The play was split into two story lines, acted out somewhat simultaneously. Bill’s struggle played out on the left, intermittently fading into to Dr. Bob’s struggle on the right, ultimately merging when the characters meet and their story together begins.

The small cast consisted of 6 people: Mr. & Mrs. Bill W. (John Brindle & Jean Hall), Dr. & Mrs. Bob (Tim Whitcomb & Kathy Marden), “Man” and  “Woman” (Ray Wallenthin & Kathleen Leary).  Ray Wallenthin played all the non-title male roles (“Man”), slipping easy into each role. Some roles were repeat characters and Wallenthin was able to produce enough character for each that I could easily keep them apart (no small feat). It was a testimony to true acting. Kathleen Leary did the same for the female roles.

The characters of Bill and Dr. Bob, as well as their wives, were well acted and authentic. When I asked John Brindle after the play what was most challenging about playing this part, he replied that is was to “convey alcoholism realistically with no melodrama, pulling from things hard to handle to make the character deep.”  And deep it was.

Nice job keeping it real. 

April 12, 2013

Rebecca Kleinmenn & Dusty Brough @ SOhO ~ April 7, 2013

photo by p.dunkley

Simply Elegant

I have longed for a classy joint to have dinner or a drink while watching live music. Sitting quietly and enjoying the scene. And it’s been here in SB the whole time - hidden inside SOhO. I just had to find the right music. 

I ventured out of my norm in an effort to cover a larger variety of music for this blog (otherwise it all would be reviews of punk rock shows). I have heard great things from Santa Barbara locals about Rebecca Kleinmann, so thought this the perfect opportunity to catch a show and review something different.

photo by p.dunkley
Rebecca is a well known flutist, incorporating eclectic world music into the experience. Her new album, Raio de Sol, is a saucy upbeat fusion of jazz and Brazilian flare. Backed by Dusty Brough (guitar), Miles Jay (bass), and Julien Cantelm (drums), together  they created a soft worldly sound that was sophisticated and evolved. Dusty’s flamenco fused jazz guitar accompanied the flute notes in a tango of sound, turning SOhO into a classy sit-down nightclub.

It was so nice to just sit and absorb the quiet sophistication of music. It was simply elegant.  

April 9, 2013

1st Thursday DT Santa Barbara ~ April 4, 2013

Indian Trading Furs at Eureka!
Davy Rothbart loves me! @ CAF
photo booth fun at Work Zones

Ladies being ladies

April 1, 2013

Pato Banton @ SOhO ~ March 28, 2013

One Love, One Heart, One Destiny

photo by p. dunkley
I’m not going to insult reggae by trying to add cute reggae-isms into this review. Trust me, if it was authentic, I would. But legendary reggae singer Pato Banton was so amazingly genuine that I would feel like a complete phony for even trying.

To be honest, I was surprised that as big as reggae is in Santa Barbara, not many folks were out. The crowd grew as the night went on, but it was actually really nice to have room to dance without bouncing off of everyone around you while trying to hold your precious dance floor ground. 

Pato took to the stage late in an explosion of positivity. The entire band was dressed in all white, with horns, strings, keys, and flags in tow. The horn section was two handsome older gents, while the bassist was a smiling kid with long dreads, the keyboardist a young gal, and the guitarist and drummer looked this they could play in Sublime. As for Pato, he was a man small in stature with a huge presence. He began the set by telling the crowd to “shake off any negativity” and instructed us to hold our hands up and shake them. And we did.

photo by p. dunkey

Pato and the band then weaved positive emotions around the crowd of young college kids and youngish career professionals, and had them, stranger or not, smiling and grooving with one another. It was what Pato labeled as genuine “roots rock reggae.” They played all the favorites including “Legalize It,” “I Do Not Sniff The Coke,” and “Groovin’,” utilizing some stop-motion moves and some choreographed dance routines.

All the while Pato was preaching Love. The “Reggae Philosophy: One Love.” He went on, “one love, one heart, one destiny. All Gods Children, brothers and sisters. Look around you and hug your neighbor.” And we did!!

You could feel the love in the house. This was an incredibly intimate show, and I felt a positive shift in my outlook as I left.  I am definitely going to be practicing more of the Reggae Philosophy.