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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Temple of the Dog 11/14/16

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The one and only Temple of the Dog album was made 25 years ago and because they never toured for the album they thought it would be cool to do a 5 city/7 date “tour.” 7 dates!!! Well one of them was L.A. so this was one of those rare moments that you would look back on and either say “I was there” or “I wish I would have gone.” I thought I would end up in the latter category when I tried to buy tickets only to find they were “sold out”…even though I was online right when the presale started. Bob to the rescue. I’m not sure whose balls he tickled to get tickets but he got 2 and I was the lucky recipient of ticket #2. The show was on a Monday but I guess you can’t have everything go your way.

After making the drive from San Diego, checking into our hotel and walking a short distance from a local bar we were once again at the Forum (see Epicenter 3/14/15). We immediately hit up the atrocious drink line and of course right as we were near the front of the line we started hearing the piano intro of “Man of Golden Words,” the Mother Love Bone song that the name “Temple of the Dog” was lifted from. Just as we escaped the drink line and began to find our way to our seats we were bathed in the familiar sounds of the arpeggio riff that opens “Say Hello 2 Heaven.” After that we were treated to all other 9 songs from the eponymous album along with 15 cover songs, 5 of which were Mother Love Bone songs. The stage setup was simple and stark without so much as a backdrop. It was clear that the band wanted to focus on the music and pay tribute to their friend Andrew Wood. They succeeded in spades and ended up paying tribute to what were surely some of the band members’ favorite artists as well. It is not often that I get to see a band from my teenage years for the first time 25 years later. This was worth the wait.

SETLIST: Say Hello 2 Heaven, Wooden Jesus, Call Me a Dog, Your Saviour, Stardog Champion (Mother Love Bone), Stargazer (Mother Love Bone), Seasons (Chris Cornell), Jump Into the Fire (Harry Nilsson), Four Walled World, I’m a Mover (Free), Pushin Forward Back, Hunger Strike, Hey Baby (New Rising Sun)-(Jimi Hendrix), Heartshine (Mother Love Bone), River of Deceit (Mad Season), Holy Roller (Mother Love Bone), Reach Down, Man of Golden Words (Mother Love Bone), Baby Lemonade (Syd Barrett), Times of Trouble, Achilles Last Stand (Led Zeppelin), Holy Holy (David Bowie), Fascination Street (The Cure), War Pigs (Black Sabbath), All Night Thing

Soulfly/”Sepultura”10/21/16

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I lived with my buddy Jack when I was 18 years old and he is the reason I first heard the album Roots. It was and still is one of the heaviest/grooviest albums I have ever heard. Max and Igor Cavalera decided to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Sepultura album Roots by getting back together to play the entire album. I never got to see Sepultura when Max was with them so I REALLY wanted to cash in on this once-in-a -lifetime chance at redemption. I ended up going to this show because I was not able to go see them at Aftershock 2016 like I originally intended. At first they were just going to play a number of festivals but thankfully decided to add more dates. Phoenix was one of those dates, which worked out great since that date was on a Friday, Phoenix is within driving distance from San Diego and our good friend Ken had moved back out there at the beginning of the year. One of Ingrid’s best friends also lives in the Phoenix area so we decided to make a weekend trip out of it. Bob somehow got a hall pass for the weekend and joined our little road trip as well.

Oh yeah did I mention that Max was pulling double duty for this show by playing a set with Soulfly before playing the entire Roots album? Even better since I had never gotten to see Soulfly either. There were actually 7 other bands as well as this date was sort of a mini-festival but all we cared about was Soulfly and “Sepultura.”

Club Red is tucked into an unsuspecting strip mall in Mesa and holds about 750 people. It was actually fairly nice inside and had an ample bar area to get drinks. Me, Ken and Bob arrived with just enough time to grab a drink before Soulfly went on. About half of the Soulfly set was from the albums Primitive and Prophecy. Killer.

Up next and certainly last was the almighty Roots album not only being played in full, but in order! I thought I would hang at the back part of the pit area so I could control the mosh a little more but immediately caught a stray arm to the mouth so I quickly switched gears and went through the pit up to very front where I stayed for the entirety of the set. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the bearded wonder Johny Chow from Stone Sour was filling in on bass for this tour. These songs took on even more life being played live in a small venue and bodies never stopped moving. Life is good.

SETLIST: Roots Bloody Roots, Attitude, Cut-Throat, Ratamahatta, Breed Apart, Straighthate, Spit, Lookaway, Dusted, Born Stubborn, Jasco, Itsari, Ambush, Endangered Species, Dictatorshit, Ace of Spades (Motorhead cover), Wings (Soulfly cover)

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Prophets of Rage 10/15/16

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It seems I am destined to see Rage Against the Machine every 10 years in one form or another. I was lucky enough to see them at the Gorge in 1997 before they broke up the first time, in San Francisco in 2007 during a short-lived reunion/one-off show and now as Prophets of Rage with the instrumental core intact plus B-Real from Cypress Hill and Chuck D from Public Enemy filling in on vocal duties for Zack de la Rocha. Essentially this was as close as I was going to get to see Rage again for the foreseeable future so Bob and me got a ticket. This was one of those shows that tickets went on sale for way in advance of the show so by the time the show came around Bob had to bow out. Since most of the people that are down to go to concerts with me no longer live in San Diego, finding someone to take the vacant ticket presented more of a challenge than I originally anticipated even though the original date was changed from Sunday to Saturday night. After much effort I ended up convincing my beautiful not-so-into-metal wife to go with me because AWOLNATION was opening and I agreed to drive so she could drink.

After drinking premade Costco margaritas (deceptively strong) in the parking lot we started to hear a band playing inside the amphitheater. It was a band named Wakrat and as we made our way to our seat I realized that this 3-piece band was being led on vocals and bass by none other than the bass player from Rage, Tim Commerford. I also quickly realized that the entire lawn section of the amphitheater had been completely closed due to low attendance, which I have never seen before. It was cool for anyone that bought a lawn ticket because they were upgraded to the 300 level for free. It was not cool for us since we basically overpaid for the 300 level seats we already had. The highlight of Wakrat was during the finale when Tim Commerford dove into drums and wrestled with the drummer.

Next up was AWOLNATION. I am a casual fan that had never seen them but this was especially cool since I learned the drummer was Isaac Carpenter, who I went to high school with back in the Tri-Cities. He was a year younger but still to this day was one of the best guitar players I ever saw at the ripe age of about 15 shredding with Oil Can Boy before he turned drummer for Loudermilk/Gosling.

After a short intermission DJ Lord came onto the stage by himself and worked his way through about a 15 minute mashup of several popular songs before the rest of Prophets came on. B-Real was dressed up like a sheik with sunglasses and the band ripped into Public Enemy’s “Prophets of Rage.” All in all it was kind of like seeing 3 bands at once with the set being fairly balanced between songs from Public Enemy, Cypress Hill and Rage Against the Machine. I was impressed with how well the dual vocals worked on the Rage songs in place of Zack. “(Rock) Superstar” was killer with the instrumentation of Rage backing it up. Since this was the last stop of the tour they also had a surprise up their sleeve: they brought out Sen Dog for 2 Cypress Hill songs! At one point the members of Rage left Chuck D, B-Real and DJ Lord to do a mashup of Cypress Hill and Public Enemy songs before the “rock” came back to kick our asses back where they came from with songs like “Bullet in the Head” and “Killing in the Name.” Good shit.

SETLIST: DJ Lord Intro, Prophets of Rage, Guerilla Radio, Cochise/She Watch Channel Zero, Bombtrack, Miuzi Weighs a Ton, (Rock) Superstar, Know Your Enemy, Bombtrack, How I Could Just Kill a Man, Testify, Sleep Now in the Fire, Bullet in the Head, Cypress Hill/Public Enemy Mashup: By the Time I Get to Arizona/Hand on the Pump/Can’t Truss It/Insane in the Brain/Bring the Noise/I Ain’t Goin’ Out Like That/Welcome to the Terrordome/Jump Around, Take the Power Back, People of the Sun, No Sleep Til Brooklyn/Fight the Power/The Party’s Over, Bulls on Parade, Killing in the Name

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Kaaboo 9/17/16

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Kaaboo is billed as an arts and entertainment “mix-perience” that combines art, bands and comedians rather than just a music festival. It is a 3-day festival held at the Del Mar racetrack/fairgrounds and this was its second year. I think organizers set out to have the event be an upscale Coachella with gourmet food options and craft beer. Single day passes were $119 and for that you get a fancy wristband that is sent to you in an even fancier custom box. Saturday was the only day I was interested in going because Lenny Kravitz was playing and he was one of the few musicians I wanted to see that I had not yet seen. As a bonus Aerosmith was also playing and I had not seen them for 15 years.

Ingrid and I, Ingrid’s 2 friends Emma and Jenna, Larry and his 2 Swedish friends all met at Calvin and his wife Jane’s place for a little pre-party since they are about a 10-15 minute walk from the fairgrounds. We then met up with Kyle and his friend who I had never met (cannot remember her name) at the venue. The first band Ingrid wanted to see was the Gin Blossoms so we left just in time to catch the last half of their set. Not really my cup of tea but I was amazed at how good the singer’s voice still sounded. After this I wanted to see what The Struts were all about just because the lead singer looks a little like Freddy Mercury but they were playing at the stage farthest from where we already were and majority won so I ended up staying at the stage we were at to see Flo Rida. This was REALLY not my cup of tea but it was entertaining and I somehow actually recognized almost all the songs he played. I remember thinking this was kind of like a hip-hop version of Slipknot in the sense that he had so many damn people on stage at the same time. After this we made our way over to see the end of Third Eye Blind (meh). The next band up I had half an interest in was Collective Soul because I like their songs “Gel” and “The World I Know.” Watching them was short lived since Lenny Kravitz was set to take another stage before Collective Soul was to leave this stage so I did not get to see them perform either song.

After much ado out came Lenny. At this point I may or may not have had a few drags off an e-cigarette filled with something other than tobacco concentrate…but I swear Lenny Kravitz only played about 6 songs during his hour and a half set. Alright I’m exaggerating but there were several times/songs where there was a lot of extended jamming going on. I guess I am just more a fan of the super tight set during the limited time on stage with festivals so more songs can be fit in, especially when you have a catalog as large as Lenny’s. Highlights for me were “Believe” and “Are You Gonna Go My Way.” Slowly but surely every person I was with left me until I was finally by myself watching Lenny. Ingrid and Emma were the last to leave to catch a little of the Goo Goo Dolls (meh). There was about 45 minutes after Lenny finished before Aerosmith would be performing on the same stage. I went to get a beer and then got a message that Ingrid wanted to meet back up with me to see a little of Aerosmith before going to see The Chainsmokers, who were playing on another stage at the exact same time as Aerosmith. I have to give it up for those old fuckers. They rocked! Their choice of songs spanned their 4+ decade career so there was a little something for everyone from the casual to more hardcore fan. They sounded great but should fire their sound guy. He kept turning down Steven Tyler’s vocals and Joe Perry’s guitar at different points where they should have been soaring. Some of my favorite moments were when they played “Love in an Elevator,” “Rag Doll,” Walk This Way,” and “Sweet Emotion” although it was pretty badass when they rolled a grand piano out on the stage for a performance of “Dream On” that brought down the house.

Aerosmith finished up promptly at 9:55 pm. There is a 10 pm noise curfew in effect due to the whiny ass snobs that live nearby… even though it was a Saturday night…even though the closest residences are not that close at all. Due to said noise curfew every performance after 10 pm was moved into one of the indoor buildings on the property. Just one problem: these 2 venues housing performances of Ludacris and Sarah Silverman respectively could only handle a small percentage of concertgoers in attendance, leaving a large number of attendees (myself included) unable to watch any of the remaining performances. This combined with extremely poor organization caused quite a chaotic scene outside of the venue where Ludacris was to perform. People were packed like sardines trying to force their way in and eventually about 9 police vehicles had to storm in to break up the madness. Everyone I had come with was able to get in but me and they were my ride so I decided to just start drinking heavily…on $12 beer night! Not long after I grabbed a beer I ran into another friend I had yet to see that day and we decided to walk down the street to the Hilton that has a lobby bar to get a little better deal. After about an hour of drinking there I got a text that I could walk right into where everyone else was, where Steve Aoki was now DJing. So I walked back and after some minor resistance from the guys manning the entrance I got in, found everyone and saw the end of Steve Aoki’s set.

San Diego Union Tribune Article

OC Weekly Article

Ohana Festival 8/27/16

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I heard about the Ohana Festival but save for Eddie Vedder really had no interest in going…until Bob’s wife text to ask if me and Ingrid wanted to go with her and Bob. I looked up tickets before I called her and they were $110 each. A little steep for just Eddie so I called to tell her “pass” but then she proceeded to tell me that 2 of her other friends were supposed to go with them and had to bail. They apparently rented a hotel within walking distance to the festival overlooking the ocean and were just looking to recoup some of the damage. I said money was tight and it just was not in the cards but then she called me back 10 minutes later to tell me that her friends said they would let go of their 2 tickets and the hotel for $100 total! It was too good of a deal to turn down so next thing you know Ingrid and I were picking up Bob and Jasmine and on our way to Dana Point. The organizers essentially turned Doheny State Beach into a makeshift concert venue for the weekend but we only went for Saturday. It was pretty cool being right on the beach but our backs were to the ocean when we were watching a band. There was one main stage and one smaller stage set up right next to the main stage.

The first band we were interested in checking out was Mudhoney. I’ve never been a fan but they were a part of the Seattle scene so I figured they were worth checking out. They are very good musicians but the music is just not my cup of tea. Next was Jack Irons on the small stage and Eddie Vedder came out to “jam” with him for a song or two. Then came Band of Horses. This is a band I have heard of but do not really know any of their music. This is about the time that Ingrid and I took off to go get beer for the group. We left Bob and Jasmine behind because the first song they danced to at their wedding is a Band of Horses song. The lines for beer by this time were insane and let’s just say that by the time we got 4 beers we had to pee. We were done drinking all 4 beers by the time it was our turn for the bathroom, which I guess says as much about how quickly we drink beer as it does about how long we had to wait in line. I’m pretty sure a good portion of the beer would have been spilled wading through the crowd back to Bob and Jasmine anyway so I guess we didn’t think that one through too well.

After this I needed food. I get hangry like the people in Snickers commercials but lo and behold the food lines were predictably out of control as well. After a near meltdown and some free beef jerky samples Ingrid convinced me to have another beer and chill the hell out, which I reluctantly did. We caught a little of Elvis Costello who is another I obviously know of, but really don’t know any of his music. He was very talented and seemed to enjoy performing.

Then the moment we came for: Eddie Vedder. Up to this point the only time I had ever seen him was when I saw Pearl Jam almost exactly 10 years ago in 2006. He had the audience (myself included) completely captivated the entire time. He is not only a great storyteller, but a much more amazing guitar player than I ever realized. “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away” and “Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town” sounded beautiful and the crowd was heavily participating in “Better Man.” I kept expecting someone else to join him onstage – a drummer, another guitarist – but it was just Ed switching between a few guitars and a ukulele except when he played “Indifference” with Kelly Slater and when he played “Rockin’ in the Free World” at the end with Kelly Slater, members of X and Band of Horses. I don’t know that a single person’s performance ever moved me the way that Ed’s performance did that night. Guess you had to be there.

SETLIST: Can’t Keep, Sleeping by Myself, Without You, Soon Forget, Trouble, Dead Man, Sometimes, You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away, Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town, No Ceiling, Far Behind, Guaranteed, Out of Sand, Good Woman, Better Man, Parting Ways, Unthought Known, Indifference, Porch, Hard Sun, Rockin’ in the Free World