Eagles of Death Metal 8/4/17

EODMDelMar

It had been almost two years since the last time I saw Eagles of Death Metal when I saw them at Aftershock. The Del Mar horse races have “4 O’Clock Fridays” during the regular race season which includes a free concert after the last race. I usually only go to the races once a year and strategically plan to go when a cool band is playing. This was that occasion.

Larry was actually down to go this time (he bailed on Ministry) so I met him for a couple beers at a stuffy place not meant for lowlifes like ourselves called Red Tracton’s before we headed across the street into the races. I planned on meeting up with Dee, who I had not seen in several months, once inside and ironically right after we came in as I was texting him saw his good buddies Jesse and Julian walking by as I was waiting for Larry to relieve himself. It turns out they were looking for him too and we met up with him just around the corner. After a couple beers and many laughs we made our way toward the stage.

Once we got there I was in shock. The place was empty! I had seen several concerts here and all of them were packed – except this one. I would venture to say that it was about 1/3 capacity. Maybe the band’s name scared people away but I would say they lean way more towards the Eagles than death metal. Their loss. The band was still touring for the now almost two-year-old Zipper Down album and it was on from the start as Jesse “Boots Electric” Hughes took the stage by riding a motorcycle across it. From there the band set the tone by launching into “I Only Want You.” I knew the universe was with us when we got away with smoking a joint despite security guards walking by every five minutes. Boots made a point of this being the only time he played a horse track and said he had lots of family there at the show. He also made a point of saying guitarist Dave Catching’s name a dozen plus times. Dave is all ZZ Top beard, no face and killed it on his Flying V, especially on a fantastic cover of David Bowie’s “Moonage Daydream.” Maybe it was the pot but I had not noticed how good of a guitar player Boots was until this time seeing him. The female pigtailed bass player that Dee had a crush on and the drummer held down the rhythm section quite well also. I really wanted to hear “Cherry Cola” and the band obliged. One other memorable moment was when they started playing “Save a Prayer.” I could not figure out why everyone except for me was singing along with this song yet I somehow felt like I knew it. Then I said, “Is this Duran Duran?” to which I was greeted with a look I can only describe as “DUH!” (Full Disclaimer: I do not actually own Zipper Down and apparently have been living under a rock for the last two years.) Overall they crushed it. No Homme on drums and Boots did not really hit the high notes but crushed it. The exit in a King’s robe was a nice touch as well.

SETLIST: I Only Want You, Don’t Speak (I Came to Make a Bang!), Complexity, Save A Prayer, Whorehoppin’ (Shit, Goddamn), Silverlake (K.S.O.F.M.), Cherry Cola, The Reverend, I Like to Move in the Night, Secret Plans, Flames Go Higher, Wannabe in L.A., Heart On/I Love You All The Time, Moonage Daydream, I Want You So Hard (Boy’s Bad News), Speaking In Tongues

Chevelle 8/3/17

Chevelle8:3:17

This show had been on my radar for months but I could not get a solid commitment from anyone to join me. I am not beyond going by myself but have seen Chevelle many times. Just as I accepted the fact that I probably was not going to go to the now sold out show a coworker came up to me about noon on this day and asked me if I wanted two tickets to the show. I asked how much she wanted and her response was that she wanted nothing; she just wanted the tickets to go to a good home. Free is a hard price to turn down so I immediately text Bob and gave him the first right of refusal. Refuse he did not. After a Mike Hess Grapefruit Solis in the car and failed attempt at smoking the remains of what was left from the Ministry show we made our way to the upstairs bar at the House of Blues just as the last opening band was leaving the stage. When you have been to as many concerts as we have you become very good at estimating what time the band you actually want to see will be going on. We gravitated to the same spot I had stood last time and everything was going great until somebody nearby farted. Seriously. The most putrid odor threatened my enjoyment of the show again and again. Outside of the stinky butt bandit this was one of the best times I have ever seen Chevelle. It had been about three years since the last time I saw them, which also happened to be at this very venue. This tour was to support their eighth album The North Corridor that was released in July of 2016. I very much enjoyed the tasty “Door to Door Cannibals” for the first time live. Apparently this was one of the last shows of the tour so they were nice and warmed up. They favored the album Wonder What’s Next from the start by opening with “Family System,” then played “Closure” mid-set and closed with “The Red,” “Send The Pain Below,” “Comfortable Liar” and “Forfeit” as their encore.

Below video clip I stole from YouTube = Awesome audio, Shit video of “An Island”

 

Ministry 7/21/17

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So yes I just saw Ministry less than 2 months before this at Blackest of the Black but this is Ministry we’re talking about here. I was ready to happily break my streak of never seeing them play at the same venue more than once but held off on buying a ticket until the last minute because as per usual I could not find anyone that wanted to go…even though it was on a Friday! I was clued in on a cool pre-show party for $50 where you could go listen to the entire new album AmeriKKKant (as of yet no official release date other than “Fall”) with the band. It was tempting but I decided against it because I figured that I would not really get to talk to them even IF the band actually showed up since everyone would be clamoring to chat them up. Back to the problem at hand: someone to go with. Lucky for me my friend Larry just moved back into town, loves going to concerts and agreed to go but he wanted me to buy his ticket and pay me back…which would be okay except he left me with an extra ticket to sell once before, has two children and shit happens. Ultimately I ended up finding two tickets on StubHub for $6 each ($10 with all service fees) so I just bought two and rationed that even if he did flake I would have only paid $20 for my ticket. Shortly after this purchase he did flake. I promptly replaced Larry with Tom after offering him a ticket at no cost. After meeting up with Tom at a brewery across the street from House of Blues I learned that Tom did not even know who Ministry was but agreed to go on my recommendation alone. Nice!

We went in just in time to see the last two songs of the opening band Ho99o9 (pronounced Horror) which was one of the few opening bands I have ever seen that made me wish we would have seen their whole set. I did not know what the fuck I was watching. It sounded like there were live guitars but it was just two MC’s and a drummer. At least we caught two of their songs.

Ministry killed it again and we secured a spot with a perfect vantage point to enjoy it. Rather than tell you about something you cannot truly appreciate unless you were there I will say thank you to the asshole that filmed the entire show and post the link to let you watch for yourself. I am still reeling from their choice to close with “Filth Pig.” Tom told me this was the “heaviest” concert he has ever been to. It is definitely not a show he or I will forget anytime soon.

SETLIST: Punch In The Face, Rio Grande Blood, Senor Peligro, Lies, Lies, Lies, Antifa, Waiting, Worthless, Bad Blood, N.W.O., Just One Fix, Thieves, So What, Psalm 69, Filth Pig

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