This was the fifth time I had the pleasure of seeing Local H and ironically the last time I saw them was at the same venue for the 20th Anniversary of As Good As Dead at the beginning of last summer. These guys tour relentlessly, as evidenced by the fact that they were technically still touring on 2015’s Hey, Killer. Apparently the newest drummer Ryan recently had a baby so he was sitting this tour out. I don’t know where Scott finds these guys but whomever he had behind the drum kit was the fourth drummer I have seen him play with and although I prefer having Ryan behind the kit, this guy killed it too. Even though this was not her usual scene I convinced my wife Ingrid to go with me and we were nearly front row for the whole energetic performance. I very much enjoyed “Hands on the Bible,” an absolutely blistering version of “Bound for the Floor,” and the one-two ending punch of “Fritz’s Corner” and “High-Fiving MF.”
SETLIST: John the Baptist Blues, The Misanthrope, City of Knives, Michelle (Again), Hands on the Bible, The One With ‘Kid’, Bound for the Floor, Gig Bag Road, “Cha” Said the Kitty, Cooler Heads, The Last Picture Show in Zion, Fritz’s Corner, High-Fiving MF
This was my sixth time seeing Toadies and the third time seeing them at the Belly Up. This time they were touring for the excellent album The Lower Side of Uptown that had just been released a couple weeks before this. I did not keep track of all the songs they played (too busy rocking out) but do remember “Take Me Alive,” “Tyler,” “Happyface,” “My Sweetness,” “I Come From the Water,” “Summer of the Strange,” and the closer “I Burn.” Two badass bands that I love for the price of one? These two bands were a match made in the clouds, which is where I was the entire time.
This was the fourth time I have had the pleasure of seeing Local H. Their live show is always fantastic and very lively and thus worthy of going out on a weeknight, especially since this tour had them celebrating the 20 year anniversary of the As Good As Dead album (which I love) by playing it in its entirety. Bob originally bought me a ticket as a birthday present and was set to go with me until he figured out that he booked a week long family vacation during the same week. Whoops! I recruited Calvin to go with me which worked out nicely since he does not live too far away from the venue. I picked Calvin up and he immediately pulled out a fat pre-rolled. A couple miles and puffs later we were walking into the Belly Up to Local H who had just started. I could not believe how few people were there. I would estimate the place was about half-full. What a crime.
This show was unlike any of the previous times I had seen them. There was a drum kit set up on the left and right hand side of the stage with plenty of room in the middle for Scott Lucas to play. Instead of just playing the entire As Good As Dead album they opened with a full hour set of songs from their latest album Hey, Killer and crowd favorites like “Hands on the Bible” and “California Songs.” The “new” drummer Ryan Harding was the drummer for this set. Let me just say this guy is a machine. He was the drummer the last two times I saw Local H but this time he was especially awesome and crushed the drums non-stop. Scott was going off as well. They were feeling it. This is the first time I have seen Local H that Scott seemed happy. He was not scowling at the audience like he had the previous times I had seen them and was cracking jokes. After a brief intermission Scott came back with Joe Daniels, the original drummer on As Good As Dead and thanked the opening band Local H. “Those guys are pretty good.” I had only seen Joe in the liner notes of the album and he looked like a skinny black dude with dreads. Now he is ripped sans dreads. They started off with “Manifest Destiny Pt. 1” but then went right into “Bound For The Floor,” saving “High-Fiving MF” for later in the set. Some of my favorite moments were “I Saw What You Did And I Know Who You Are,” “Nothing Special,” “Back In The Day,” “Fritz’s Corner” and when Scott did his best Jimmy Page imitation by tacking the solo from “Heartbreaker” onto the end of one of the songs. Up to this point Scott had switched between a custom Strat and Tele but for the last two songs he played a Gibson ES 335. This is the first time I have seen him play a guitar without the bass pickups. He was able to do so because Ryan came back out to play bass for the last two songs. Pretty cool.
Joe was a good drummer but not as hard hitting as Ryan so it was interesting to see both in one night. The first time I saw Local H was before second drummer Brian St. Clair departed and after seeing Local H with all drummers it seems like Scott keeps finding drummers who hit harder than the last, which is fine by me. Go see this band if you have a chance!
Helmet released the album Betty on June 21st, 1994. Marvin, Jack and I made a special trip to the mall that day to pick up a copy. Here I was at the Belly Up almost 21 years later to hear the whole album performed from to back to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of Betty. I was not at all surprised to see this because during one of the other four times I saw Hemet they played about half of both Meantime and Aftertaste in sequence.
I never had the pleasure of seeing them tour Betty back when it was new, let alone hear most of these songs live at all. It had been almost exactly seven years since the last time I saw Helmet at Cane’s when I started chatting Page up after the show and told him that he should make his new band learn “Clean” and “Speechless” (for selfish reasons). Well he not only made them learn those two songs but the entire damn album and it was incredible. The band did a fine job of reproducing the album pretty much note for note. Seeing any band you love play such a small venue is awesome because the energy translates so well. I would have been satisfied had they left the stage after “Sam Hell” but instead we all got a bonus encore set of songs spanning the rest of Helmet’s career after that.
SETLIST: Wilma’s Rainbow, I Know, Biscuits for Smut, Milquetoast, Tic, Rollo, Street Crab, Clean, Vaccination, Beautiful Love, Speechless, The Silver Hawaiian, Overrated, Sam Hell +
My birthday came two days late in the year 2014 when Toadies played a show at Belly Up to celebrate the 20th Anniversary for their album Rubberneck. My very first show at the Belly Up was Toadies back in 2008 and I had not seen them since about a year after that show. I somehow convinced Ingrid to come with me despite the show falling on a Thursday (I think it was because of my birthday). This was a rare time when I actually saw the opening band, which on this night was Supersuckers. They were good but it would not have mattered how good they were because I was chomping at the bit to see Toadies.
I was so stoned I could not move or talk, just soak in the songs from a classic album in the same sequence as they appeared on the album. These songs have been on rotation ever since I got the album in 1994 so I think it is fair to say they have withstood the test of time. Vaden’s voice and the rest of the band sounded as fresh as the first time I heard the songs come out of speakers 20 years before this. After they played all of Rubberneck in sequence they took a little break and came back to play a full second set that included a pretty awesome cover of Blondie’s “Heart of Glass.” Do yourself a favor and go see Toadies.
SETLIST: Mexican Hairless, Mister Love, Backslider, Possum Kingdom, Quitter, Away, I Come From the Water, Tyler, Happy Face, Velvet, I Burn
Push the Hand, Song I Hate, Little Sin, No Deliverance, Summer of the Strange, Heart of Glass, Dollskin, Rattler’s Revival, Stop It, Sweetness, Hell In High Water
I love Toadies. I was lucky enough to see them when they were touring for Hell Below/Stars Above back in 2001 right before they broke up and I was also lucky enough to catch Mr. Vaden Todd Lewis in Burden Brothers about four years before this. Now Toadies were back together and touring for their killer new album No Deliverance that was less than three weeks old.
The Belly Up is an intimate venue holding just 600 people tucked away just a block off the 101 in Solana Beach. I had never been before so Marvin and I jumped at the chance to see the newly reunited Toadies at a famed San Diego venue. After a couple beers in the truck we were both in awe of the venue made up pretty much entirely of hardwood which also created a really great ambiance in the room. Toadies had not lost a step. I was in hog heaven and may or may not have screamed “What We Have We Steal” at the stage. Instead of hearing the song get played I may or may not have gotten a slight scowl in return but nothing was going to kill the vibe in the room that night. A great band in a great venue. Welcome back Toadies!