Tool 6/24/17

ToolFest

It’s hard to believe that it had been nearly eight years since the last time I saw Tool and almost equally hard to believe that 10,000 Days from 11 years ago was still their newest release. Due to so many concerts this year I almost didn’t go but as the date got closer the lineup just became too good to pass up. Unofficially dubbed “ToolFest,” the lineup boasted Tool’s friends and past touring mates Melvins, Fantomas, Clutch and Primus with The Crystal Method filling in the gaps between bands. It was supposed to be Bob and me but Bob bailed and Joe decided to fly down from Portland to go with me.

The Glen Helen Amphitheater is kind of out in the middle of nowhere so the nearest hotels are about 12 miles away in San Bernardino proper and San Bernardino is sketchy. At 1 pm we arrived at the ghetto fabulous Motel 6 to see an unfilled swimming pool, cheap banner wrapped around the official sign and an armed guard. Even that was a first for me but almost any accommodations are good for a night when you’ve been drinking. Anyways it was 1 pm but check in was not until 3 pm. This caused an issue because doors to the show were at 2 pm, for once we wanted to see every band playing and we were hoping to get a little pregame in to save some money on the $13.50 we knew each beer would be at the venue. Once we walked into the office to talk to the front desk guy who was behind bulletproof glass about checking in early we saw that there were two different couples who appeared to be trying to do the same thing. While one couple was at the window we started chatting with the other couple that had come all the way up from halfway down Baja in Mexico. What happened next was one of the strangest moments I have ever had. The couple at the window informed us nobody was going to be allowed to check in until three and walked out of the office. The other couple from Mexico then asked us if we wanted their room for free. Joe and I thought they meant we could hang out in their room but apparently they decided to stay somewhere else for the night and could not get a refund for this night and were only in the office to get a receipt of some kind. This solved all of our woes and saved us some money that we could then blow on beer. It is still hard to wrap my head around that moment even while writing this. That couple knew us for 60 seconds and decided that we could be trusted not to trash the place and charge any damages to their credit card. No complaints here.

After drinking some of the beer obtained from the padlocked coolers at the gas station across the street and a short Uber ride we were ready to take on the crisp 100 degrees without a cloud in the sky and rock. The venue holds 60k people so once we got settled we found a spot at the front of the lawn section to watch King Buzzo in a bizarro robe and the rest of the Melvins. It was a little ironic that I had not seen Melvins since I saw them back in 2004 with Joe in Portland. “Queen” put a smile on my face and my neck on notice. They also played a dissonantly heavy version of the Beatles “I Want To Hold Your Hand” that was cool.

I had never seen Fantomas so I was interested to see if their stage presence was as crazy as some of their music. Unfortunately Mike Patton’s microphone was fucked up for most of the set, which put a damper on some of the frenetic energy I was hoping for.

Next up was Clutch and they were the kick in the nuts that the crowd needed to waken them from their heat and beer induced slumber. My last time seeing Clutch was also with Joe at Aftershock a couple years back. I won the bet with him that Clutch would not play super old stuff but I was still plenty happy with newer rockers like “Firebirds!” and “X-Ray Visions.”

I had not seen Primus since the 3D tour almost five years before. They opened with one of my personal favorites “Those Damned Blue Collared Tweekers” and then pretty much stuck to the hits. “My Name is Mud” was Bad.Ass. At this point the sun had finally started to do down to give us some reprieve and for the first time in the day the video monitors fired up. Prior to this there were no visual effects or so much as a band backdrop for any band. Judging by the many Tool t-shirts in the crowd I do not think that bothered one person here, as that stood to enhance Tool’s world-class laser light production that much more.

The only taste of newness we got from Tool was “Descending,” a tune they have been playing live for awhile that is more like a teaser/movie trailer of the actual song according to Adam Jones. Although I do miss the early days when Maynard was not hiding in the back amongst the shadows seeing Tool never gets old. They played “Opiate” which I have only seen them play a few times and “Sweat” which I am not sure if I have ever seen them play. This was also a rare night they played “Third Eye.” A brief interlude followed “Forty-Six & 2” that Tool came back from by way of a Danny drum solo that was three minutes of pure fire and speaking of fire, there was a bonfire of trash in the lawn section; a fitting sight since the first time I ever saw a bonfire at a show was the only other time I came to this venue to see Slayer and Marilyn Manson. Stay classy San Bernardino.

Getting out of the venue was a shit show. The people who were parked at the venue could not get out which also meant Uber drivers could not get in to give us a ride back to the Motel 666. After admitting defeat and staring at the stars we sat up to see the original couple from the hotel that was denied check in. We decided walking a mile and splitting a surge priced Uber was a better option than just sitting there so that is exactly what we did.

SETLIST: The Grudge, Parabol, Parabola, Schism, Opiate, AEnema, Descending, Jambi, Third Eye, Forty-Six & 2, The Pot, Vicarious, Sweat, Stinkfist

 

Stone Sour/Korn 6/20/17

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Back down to the amphitheater in Chula Vista that I had been to only four days prior. It was a smaller turnout of just Bob and I this time and smaller turnout in general as the whole lawn section had been closed off. This meant a free upgrade for us into the 300 level but probably some bitterness for the people that actually paid a little more for 300 level seats. We promptly found our way down to the front of the section dead center which was essentially the same view as the back of the 200 level. Score!

Stone Sour is one of my favorite bands but I am still sour about the departure of Jim Root. This appearance was for the new album Hydrograd that is set to drop on June 30th and is the first album without Root. Coincidentally or not the three songs from the new album they have already “released” and ended up playing tonight are not my favorite Stone Sour songs. The last time I saw Stone Sour over three years ago was the first time I saw them with Root’s replacement Christian Martucci and the songs just did not quite feel the same. Christian’s virtuosity cannot go unappreciated because he played all the old stuff note for note but again the songs just had a slightly different feel. I think part of it was also Corey Taylor who seemed to be doing the lazy thing of just not singing certain parts and kept doing this weird thing with his voice during screaming parts. To be fair maybe he was just trying to preserve his voice. Overall they still rocked and sounded tighter this time. The highlight for me was “Absolute Zero” which killed. Hopefully the other songs on the new album will make me feel like a big fat fuckface for some of the words I have just written…

SETLIST: Taipei Person/Allah Tea, Made of Scars, Say You’ll Haunt Me, 30/30-150, Tired, Do Me a Favor, Song #3, Through Glass, Absolute Zero, Fabuless

Stone Sour sounded good, Korn sounded GREAT. I am talking strictly on a sound quality level and feel bad for the opening bands because I am convinced this amphitheater dials everything back if you are not the headliner. It was going to be pretty hard for Korn to top the last time I saw them at Epicenter in 2015 when they played the entire first album, but I am not one to miss an opportunity to see my favorite bands when given the chance. Korn was touring for their 12th album The Serenity of Suffering that was released 10/21/16 but I somehow just learned about. Save for three songs off this album everything they played was from the first six albums. Head and Munky kept doing these badass call and response type things between songs that make them the best guitar duo in the biz. “Here to Stay” was as heavy as ever, “Somebody Someone” sounded thicker than the album version, Jonathan’s scat on “Twist” gave me flashbacks of the first time I had ever heard “Ball Tongue,” and “4U” was beautiful in every way. The visuals being projected onto a couple walls of white amps was a nice touch too.

SETLIST: Rotting in Vain, Falling Away From Me, Here to Stay, Did My Time, Somebody Someone, Clown, Black Is the Soul, Shoots and Ladders, Twist, Got the Life, Coming Undone, Insane, Make Me Bad, Y’All Want a Single, 4U, Blind, It’s On!, Freak on a Leash

Poison/Def Leppard 6/16/17

DefLeppard:Poison

I was excited for this concert because I had never seen Poison and for once it was a concert on a Friday. Mind you that before a little band named Nirvana ever entered my eardrums my entire cassette (yes cassette) collection consisted of Poison, Guns N’ Roses, Def Leppard and Motley Crue. For the occasion I decided it would be best to dress up like Nikki Sixx with the hair, leather pants, etc. Now I know how celebrities feel when they get harassed. I also thought it best to get in on a party bus for full effect and Ingrid, Kyle, Calvin and Jane were on the same page. Unfortunately the whole thing started out with Calvin and Jane missing the party bus due to traffic. The party bus itself was a shit show with more people than available seats so many people including myself, Ingrid and Kyle had to stand in the aisle as we barreled down the freeway at high speed. Nothing like risking your life to see a concert! Once we arrived safe and sound we met up with Calvin and Jane in the parking lot and proceeded to drink our way through Telsa’s opening set. Definitely a little Déjà vu as I have done this same thing to Tesla before. Tesla vs. Beer = Beer.

I am impressed that Poison is still rocking the original lineup and minus the makeup still rocking out like it’s 1986. They opened with my personal favorite “Look What the Cat Dragged In” and then proceeded to play hit after hit. They sounded great but for some stupid reason the venue did not turn on the video monitors during their set, thereby robbing all the rowdies up in the lawn section of more than a miniscule view of the band.

SETLIST: Look What the Cat Dragged In, Ride the Wind, Talk Dirty to Me, Cry Tough, Something to Believe In, Your Mama Don’t Dance, Fallen Angel, Unskinny Bop, Every Rose Has Its Thorn, Nothin’ But a Good Time

Next up was Def Leppard who I finally got to see for the first time almost two years before this. Their set was nearly identical not only in visual element but also in setlist selection. They too sounded great, especially during “Hysteria” and “Foolin’,” but by the end of their set I was pretty lit. Not as lit as Kyle however; first we lost him and then he missed the party bus home. I still don’t know how he got home because I got a text from him the next day saying his phone died. I would expect nothing less from a show with a couple rock bands who have survived decades of debauchery.

SETLIST: Let’s Go, Animal, Let It Go, Dangerous, Foolin’, Love Bites, Armageddon It, Rock On, Man Enough, Rocket, Bringin’ on the Heartbreak, Switch 625, Hysteria, Let’s Get Rocked, Pour Some Sugar on Me, Rock of Ages, Photograph

Blackest of the Black 5/27/17

Sat

Today was all about Ministry and Danzig but that would not be going down until almost 8 pm so we had to keep ourselves occupied all day as we were completely isolated in the canyon. Sleeping in was not an option to kill part of the day because tents tend to become similar to miniature greenhouses once the sun rises. The first order of business then became breakfast. The only food we brought with us were snacks but we had bought some food the day before at the Mexican food truck that had posted up in the campgrounds and were assured they would be there again in the morning serving breakfast. No such luck. That left only the “General Store” which was a tent selling a handful of items. One such item was a frozen Jimmy Dean sausage croissant, which I promptly purchased and overcooked in the provided dilapidated microwave. I’ve had worse. Showers were also advertised as being available but ran out of water after about an hour but who was I kidding? I had no interest in showering just to get dirty again. I was confident I would be fine until the next day when I got home, especially because I planned on drinking for a good portion of the day.

Once we got back to the camp spot I had convinced the guys to see if we could hike to the top of the nearby mountain because what the fuck else were we going to do all day? We knew if we just drank all day we would either be so fucked up that we would not remember seeing Ministry and Danzig or just pass out and miss it altogether. The hike turned out to be more difficult than we thought it would be and may or may not have involved some trespassing. After making our own trail for quite some time we finally came to a service road that took us far enough to realize that what we thought was the top of the mountain was really just one in a series of mountains. The highlight of the trek was witnessing two ravens harassing a hawk. Satisfied with our exploration we made our way back down to camp and proceeding to “get our drink on.” As we arrived closer to camp we also noticed our friends at the Mexican food truck had indeed made it back…just much later than promised. After drinking the remainder of our haul and shooting the shit some gal who was walking by our spot asked us who we were there to see. It seems we had lost track of time and Ministry was going on in 10 minutes! We got our shit together real quick and got in just in time to see Ministry kill. Uncle Al seemed extremely lucid and was weird as ever. They played pummeling versions of old songs and debuted the killer new song “Antifa” from the upcoming album AmeriKKKant. I really like the fact that all five times I have seen Ministry have been at different places.

SETLIST: Psalm 69, Punch in the Face, Antifa, Rio Grande Blood, Senor Peligro, LiesLiesLies, Waiting, Worthless, Bad Blood, N.W.O., Just One Fix, Thieves

Danzig was the other reason we came here; partially as a curiosity having never seen him. The guy is an enigma of sorts. I never thought there was any Danzig I enjoyed until hearing “Brand New God” from Danzig 4 in the back of Joe’s VW Beetle whilst on acid at 18 years old. While I was not lucky enough to hear “Brand New God” Danzig was partially playing this show to celebrate a brand new album, Black Laden Crown, that had dropped the day before. Danzig ripped with Tommy Victor on guitar and I was digging all the stuff they played. Danzig commanded the stage in a way that only experience can. Castle Danzig however did not make a reprise. Nor did the “Amusement Rides,” aka Carnival Swings.

SETLIST: SkinCarver, Twist of Cain, Devil on Hwy 9, Her Black Wings, Godless, Left Hand Black, How The Gods Kill, Do You Wear the Mark, Dirty Black Summer, Last Ride, Black Mass, Long Way Back From Hell, Snakes of Christ, Mother, She Rides, Am I Demon

 

 

Blackest of the Black 5/26/17

Fri

According to the website “Blackest of the Black Festival is…the brainchild of Glenn Danzig, the event not only serves as a music festival, but as a cultural experience: an escape. Coming to Oak Canyon Park in Silverado, CA in Orange County on Memorial Day Weekend, Friday, May 26th and Saturday, May 27th, Blackest of the Black will host two music stages, curated by Danzig, with performances by some of the heaviest acts around including Danzig, Ministry…and many more. The festival will also feature camping, and a number of sinister attractions including Castle Danzig – a fully immersive walkthrough experience of pain, pleasure, and metal, based on the music and graphic novels of Glenn Danzig.” The advertised attractions for Castle Danzig included a Suspension Stage, Sacrifice Altar, Bondage Stage, Padded Cell, Electro Stage, Drukija Blood Bath, Stocks, Freak Performers and Amusement Rides.

Ken flew in to San Diego from Phoenix to accompany Bob and I to this madness. We decided beforehand to camp as we had done at Aftershock a couple years prior. The website said we could each bring in a case of beer but we had no problem sneaking in whatever we wanted, especially because Bob found a “hidden compartment” to hide stuff behind my glovebox. Genius. The concert site itself was a cool little spot out in the middle of nowhere next to a lake in a canyon between two mountains. Our campsite however, was our very own 12’ x 12’ square in a dirt parking lot to call our own. The saving grace was Bob’s brand new pop up tent that literally took under 60 seconds to set up and under 60 seconds to put away. Meanwhile a couple of guys close by were setting up a teepee well into our third beer after our tent was ready to roll.

Today was all about Corrosion of Conformity but they would not be playing until second to last so once we had a few beers at our camp spot we decided to wander into the festival grounds to see what we would be dealing with. Immediately upon entering the festival we spotted three of the “Freak Performers” walking around. They were not really doing anything but were hard to miss because one little lady was walking around topless save for an “X” over each nipple fashioned out of black electrical tape. After walking past some plastic body parts and various horror type paraphernalia dangling from a tree we checked out 3Teeth which seemed like a slightly lighter version of a cross between Rammstein and KMFDM. Next were Butcher Babies, who were up to their syncopated hair swirling ways again just like when they opened for Marilyn Manson years ago. I had to watch just for the laugh. We found what seemed to be the makings of this Castle Danzig we had read about but what we saw looked more like an area strictly for performers rather than “a fully immersive walkthrough experience.” More on that later. Satisfied with our walkthrough we made our way back to the camp spot for more beers, grub and “cookies.”

As I stated earlier today was all about Corrosion of Conformity. I had only seen them once and that was about 16.5 years before this. They were not touring for a new album and to my knowledge had not done many shows since Pepper Keenan recently re-joined the band after nearly a decade long hiatus. They did not disappoint. We were only a couple rows back from the front when they came out so we had prime viewing for their entire set. I was so immersed in their set that I did not notate the songs of their setlist like I am known to do from time to time and apparently nobody online did either. What I do remember is them playing many songs from Deliverance and Wiseblood which made me very happy. The cookies did not hurt anything either. Bob and Ken are not avid cannabis users so one cookie plus the beers they had put them on a spaceship, which I was acting captain of after eating two cookies.

Suicidal Tendencies closed up the night and had sort of become a running joke between my friends and I. They were on the bill for at least two or three other concerts we attended but always opened. I was only curious to see them because of “Institutionalized,” the only song of theirs I really knew but ultimately it always came down to a decision between going to see them and having more beer and beer always won. Now we had no excuse so we checked them out and to my surprise were way more punk than I realized. They had a mosh pit onstage nearly the entire set. At one point they brought about 30 females up from out of the crowd (this accounted for probably every female in attendance) and those females started a mosh pit onstage. Good times (even though they did not play “Institutionalized”).

Once Suicidal’s set was over “Castle Danzig” finally came to life. Long story short it was a joke. It was exactly what it looked like earlier in the day, which was basically an area that had many performers doing the things that were advertised rather than us being able to “walk through.” Now it made sense why the website had changed about a week prior to this to suddenly exclude the details on the “attractions.”

Blackest Festival

A Perfect Circle 4/11/17

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The devil was out with me and Bob as this was my sixth time seeing A Perfect Circle, I had not seen them since the last time me and Bob saw them at the same venue 6 years ago and 4 + 1 + 1 = 6…Spooky! In all seriousness a lot had changed in 6 years such as the SDSU campus being upgraded, but one thing that had not changed was A Perfect Circle’s discography. There was no new album they were touring behind. Apparently they hope to have a new album out by the end of the year and this tour was to be the catalyst to motivate the band to get it done. Then again that is hearsay and may be wishful thinking on my end.

As per usual me and Bob could care less about the opening band so once we arrived we went in search of beer, which much to our dismay has apparently all but disappeared from the SDSU campus. The only place to get beer was from a single window inside the gates of the actual outdoor venue. As we found out rather quickly there were two lines going to the same window stretched out to either side and wrapped back around. Long story short we waited in line for about 45 minutes and had still not reached the front when the familiar opening of “The Hollow” started up. As much as we like beer we decided that we quite possibly would not be getting any for another 15 to 20 minutes so we abandoned ship and found our seats to make sure not to miss the band we came to see. The band also implemented a very strict no cell phone/camera policy that was being heavily enforced but we did manage to sneak a couple decent pictures from our seats.

Even though the rhythm section of the band (or at least the touring band) had changed, the sheer power and beauty of the songs performed live had not. The songs seemed to have a new relevance to today’s America combined with a timeless quality that all great songs have. Maynard appeared to be in good spirits, cracking jokes about the recent United Airlines debacle. Billy’s guitar prowess was a sight to behold and he sang more than I remember him singing in the past. James Iha got his turn on the microphone between songs and was awkwardly funny. “Counting Bodies Like Sheep to the Rhythm of the War Drums” which is essentially a reworked version of “Pet” literally shook the earth. I was pleasantly surprised with the number of their softer songs they performed and even more surprised that “Judith” was not played. The only glimpse of new material we got was “Feathers,” a slower piano driven number that they closed the show with.

SETLIST: The Package, The Hollow, The Noose, Weak and Powerless, Rose, Imagine (John Lennon), Thinking of You, By and Down, Thomas, Peace, Love and Understanding, Magdalena, Vanishing, Counting Bodies Like Sheep to the Rhythm of the War Drums, Orestes, A Stranger, Blue, The Outsider, Gravity, Feathers

Green Day 4/8/17

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I had only seen Green Day one other time back in 2005 on the American Idiot tour but here they were again on tour for Revolution Radio that was released back in October. I was originally going to get floor tickets with a couple guys I used to work with but Kyle had his plus one bail on him and I felt bad that he got hosed on a reseller site so I just bought his extra ticket.

The couple guys I used to work with got to the venue at 6 am to make sure they were front row when the doors opened. Lunatics. I met up with them outside about an hour before the doors opened to have a couple beers and shoot the shit. Once they went in I walked over to Phil’s BBQ to meet up with Kyle for an El Toro and more beer. After a couple more beers at a brewery nearby that I had not ever been to (Bay City Brewing Company) we got to our seats about 2 minutes before Green Day hit the stage and boy did they hit it. So much energy! So much pyrotechnics! The band was very tight and played a nice mixture of old and new tunes. One super cool moment was when Billie Joe brought a young boy onstage to play guitar and then let the boy keep the guitar once he was done. Another cool moment was when Billie Joe brought a younger girl onstage to sing which ended in her stage diving. Those 2 kids will remember that for the rest of their lives so I thought that was a pretty cool thing to do.

SETLIST: Know Your Enemy, Bang Bang, Revolution Radio, Holiday, Letterbomb, Boulevard of Broken Dreams, Longview, Youngblood, 2000 Light Years Away, Hitchin’ a Ride, When I Come Around, Waiting, Burnout, Are We the Waiting, St. Jimmy, Minority, Knowledge (Operation Ivy), Basket Case, She, King for a Day, Shout/Always Look on the Bright Side of Life/(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction/Careless Whisper/Hey Jude, Still Breathing, Forever Now, American Idiot, Jesus of Suburbia, Ordinary World, Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)

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