Breaking Benjamin 7/25/18

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This show was not on my radar at all but Bob was jazzed to go and this was quite simply an opportunity to hang out and have some drinks with one of my favorite peeps. I do like Breaking Benjamin but I would have been good with the one time I did see them almost three years before this at Aftershock and I am not a fan of Five Finger Death Punch whatsoever. It did help that I scored a ticket for only $6 off of StubHub.

I originally thought Bob was going to drive us, which would have allowed us to grab a bite and have a couple beers in the parking lot but that did not happen. Instead we had beers at my house, no dinner and caught a Lyft to the show. We missed the opener Bad Wolves but once we arrived we were informed that our tickets were upgraded since the lawn section had been closed off due to a lack of ticket sales. Even better, when we got to the table where they were exchanging the lawn tickets we were upgraded to General Admission Pit tickets for no charge and no particular good reason. No complaints here as that meant my $6 lawn ticket turned into a $6 floor ticket. The good news kept coming as we then found out that Five Finger Death Punch was to open for Breaking Benjamin as opposed to the other way around like I had thought.

Five Finger Death Punch was touring for their seventh album And Justice for None that was released about two months before this. The floor section was not all that packed so we stood fairly close to the right side of the stage. The bass player was on our side of the stage a lot and looked like he was some sort of octopus creature from Pirates of the Caribbean due to his beard. I did not know the significance of the red hand painted on singer Ivan Moody’s face but apparently their fans did and he pulled about 10 of them with matching red hands out of the crowd to join him onstage for a song. They were good musicians but save for their cover of “Bad Company” I just could not get into it.

SETLIST: Lift Me Up, Trouble, Wash It All Away, Jekyll and Hyde, Bad Company, Fake, Wrong Side of Heaven, Remember Everything, Coming Down, Burn MF, Gone Away, Under and Over It, The Bleeding

Breaking Benjamin was touring for their sixth album Ember that was released on 4/13/18. I am fairly certain that I saw them at Aftershock during the day so seeing them at night was a much different experience. They seemed more in their element and had more presence this time. Maybe it was partially due to the darkness and maybe it was partially due to the dark beers I had consumed. Their mashup of the Star Wars Imperial March, Tool, Nirvana, Pantera and Metallica was pretty cool but anything Pantera is going to win points with me. Bob and I made a rare appearance in the mosh pit because a.) it felt criminal to get upgraded to floor tickets and not go in the mosh pit and b.) the pit was fun since it was more of a weak dancing circle than a full on slam dancing/get punched in the face on accident kind of a thing.

SETLIST: Red Cold River, I Will Not Bow, Never Again, Breath, Imperial March/Schism/Smells Like Teen Spirit/Walk/Sad But True, Sooner or Later, Blow Me Away, So Cold, Angels Fall, Psycho, Failure, Until the End, Believe, Torn In Two, The Diary of Jane

AFTERWARD: All the goodness of the evening was counterbalanced by the reality of life the next morning when we awoke to realize that Bob’s car had been towed since Bob did not end up driving and we did not put a parking pass in Bob’s car. $263 later and the universe was right again. I would do it all over again if given the chance.

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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

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

Foo Fighters 9/24/15

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Dave Grohl is the shit but you already knew that or you probably wouldn’t have clicked on this post. I already figured I would end up going to this show but did not know all the details until the last minute. After buying tickets for 4 and having one person bail I ended up going with Jason who literally got into town just a few hours before the show and Tom. We got into the venue as Gary Clark Jr. was finishing up. He rips it up on guitar but I was a little disappointed because Royal Blood had opened up for the Foo most other dates of the tour.

Foo Fighters were on tour for the Sonic Highways album/show (both excellent) but the big news was that Dave had broken his leg about 3 months prior to this during one of their concerts in Sweden. He is so badass that he came back onto the stage about an hour after he broke his leg to finish the concert. Apparently when he was getting his leg fixed up at the hospital and doped up on OxyContin he concocted a “throne” that would allow the Foo Fighters to continue on with the tour. http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/watch-the-throne-dave-grohl-on-how-the-foos-saved-their-summer-20150730

Let me just say that I have never seen someone sitting down rock so hard. Dave always has a lot of energy and not an ounce of that was lost just because he was confined to sitting. They got “Everlong” out of the way right away to start the show and from that point on it was pure rock and roll that seamlessly transitioned from their hit songs to silly banter to cover songs and back again. Most of the other times I have seen them they have done a medley of just the beginnings of cover songs and then a full version of another. The full cover this time was “Under Pressure” by Queen/David Bowie. Phenomenal. Another  fun part of the show was when Dave invited a guy onstage that was dancing his ass off out in the crowd. He went by the name “Happy Feet Steve” and continued to dance his ass off onstage while the band played “Arlandria.” As a fan of all of their music I am always left wanting more of the lesser known deep cut hidden gems but these guys always play at least a solid 2 hours so I really have nothing to bitch about. I left the venue that night far from disappointed.

 

 

Def Leppard 9/22/15

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Before Nirvana came along there were exactly 4 bands that existed in my world: Guns N’ Roses, Motley Crue, Poison and Def Leppard. In fact the first album I ever received as a gift was Def Leppard’s Hysteria for Christmas right about the time I was in 5th grade. Despite this and all the concerts I have seen I somehow never got around to seeing Def Leppard. They usually come around every few years as a package deal with other aging rock bands and this time was no exception. How many more opportunities would I get to see them? I decided not to chance it and go it alone. I could not find any willing friend to accompany me partially because it was a weeknight and partially because I suspect most of my friends do not really give a damn about Def Leppard (they are hard enough to convince to go to more current shows). As a bonus I would get to see Styx.

Tesla is not a band I have ever really cared for. I do like their song “Love Song” but other than that I could not even name another of their songs. I was walking into the venue when they were playing “Love Song” and let’s just say it did not have quite the same warmth as the version that benefitted from studio magic.

Styx on the other hand was fantastic. This is a band that had always been in my subconscious because my dad listened to them. I just never realized I actually knew and liked many of their songs until one day I finally figured out who sang “Too Much Time On My Hands” and bought their Greatest Hits compilation. They rocked through a few of my personal favorites “Blue Collared Man” and “Miss America” with precision and energy. They also nailed “The Grand Illusion,” “Renegade,” and “Come Sail Away” but disappointingly left out “Mr. Roboto.” What I can tell you is Lawrence Gowan had an amazing voice and I never liked the song “Lady” as much as that night because he was singing his ass off and the band made it rock a little more than usual.

Def Leppard was touring for their soon-to-be released self titled album but to be honest I could have cared less. I love most of Def Leppard’s first 4 albums but after Nirvana opened up the musical floodgates for me I was too busy consuming new music to care about them any longer. My favorite moments were them playing “Foolin’,” “Bringin’ On The Heartbreak,” “Rock Of Ages” and “Photograph.” The band also did a great version of David Essex’s “Rock On.” Overall I was a little disappointed with Def Leppard. Whoever their sound guy was kept messing with Joe Elliot’s vocals to the point where it became distracting to me. I don’t know if he was trying to mask the difficulties he was having hitting the high notes or what. I’ll forgive Joe Elliot because when I was in 5th grade loving this band I wanted his mullet and he came out and played “Two Steps Behind” by himself. I don’t really care for that song but he did great and I did not even realize he could play guitar. The drummer Rick Allen continues to be a savage drummer despite having only one arm and guitarist Phil Collen (not to be confused with Phil Collins) looked decades younger than he is and tore it up. All in all I am glad I got to witness Def Leppard but the night belonged to Styx.

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Nine Inch Nails/Soundgarden 8/21/14

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As soon as Soundgarden announced a co-headlining tour with Nine Inch Nails it was not a matter of if I was going to see it, it was a matter of when, where and with who. Joe was quick to call me after the announcement and suggest we go to one of the dates together, which was super cool since I had not seen him for a little while. Even better he suggested coming down to San Diego and bringing Claude along for the ride as well.

After much anticipation the day finally came and we of course took it upon ourselves to start drinking beer fairly early in the afternoon. I decided to have an Uber SUV pick us up and then go pick up Bob and Ken separately on the way which ended up being about $100 since the amphitheater is way down in Chula Vista. We got our money’s worth by drinking the entire way and taking over the stereo to blast Pantera at full volume. The poor Uber driver did not strike me as a Pantera fan and could not wait to get us out of his ride. Once we got dropped off we met up with Tom and had more beer in the parking lot. Add double fisting free tall boys courtesy of Tom’s friend Manny to the equation once we got inside the amphitheater and it’s a wonder any of us remember anything. There are certain friends that tend to feed off of each other and push drinking to the extreme and these were those friends.

This was the third time I had the pleasure of seeing Soundgarden. Unfortunately Matt Cameron bowed out of the tour due to prior commitments with Pearl Jam but whoever they had fill in got the job done. Surprisingly they only played one song from King Animal despite that being their newest album. Most of the songs they played were from Badmotorfinger and Superunknown and I later realized that this tour happened to coincide with the 20th anniversary of Superunknown.

SETLIST: Searching With My Good Eye Closed, Spoonman, Flower, Outshined, Jesus Christ Pose, Black Hole Sun, The Day I Tried to Live, My Wave, Blow Up the Outside World, Fell on Black Days, A Thousand Days Before, Rusty Cage, Beyond the Wheel

Nine Inch Nails was touring for the album Hesitation Marks that had been out for almost exactly a year to the day and I had not seen them in a little more than five years. It was fitting that Robin Finck aka “Lizard Man” was back with the band because I had not seen him since the first time I saw Nine Inch Nails with Joe and Claude at the Gorge. He certainly adds another level to the show with his badassery. Nine Inch Nails shows are sensory overload and this show was no exception. I found this setlist online but I swear they played “Reptile.”

SETLIST: Copy of A, Sanctified, Came Back Haunted, 1,000,000, March of the Pigs, Piggy, Terrible Lie, Closer, Gave Up, Disappointed, Find My Way, The Great Destroyer, Eraser, Wish, The Hand That Feeds, Head Like a Hole, Hurt

 

311 8/3/13

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Bob, Tom, Jared and I went to pick up some chocolate weed edibles before this concert and ate our way through two chocolate bars on the way to the amphitheater in Chula Vista. I would say I usually have a pretty high tolerance for marijuana in general but edibles are a whole different ballgame. This was the strongest edible I had ever had and by the time we arrived I was flying! So much so that I found myself overly appreciating the perfect weather and our surroundings in the parking lot beforehand that I had to consciously slow down on the beer in the parking lot as a result.

I want to say 311 actually went before Sublime with Rome but like I mentioned earlier I was stoned to the bone. Sublime headlining in their heyday yes, Sublime with Rome now no. Even though 311 are true road warriors this was only the second time I saw them, with the first time being way back in late 1997. These guys sound REALLY good live. Nick Hexum has a “clean” voice that sounds even better live than on recordings and the rest of the band is tight.

SETLIST: Beautiful Disaster, Freak Out, All Mixed Up, Hive, You Wouldn’t Believe, Sunset in July, Amber, Don’t Stay Home, Applied Science, Do You Right, Who’s Got the Herb?, Come Original, Sick Tight, Down, Jackpot, Creatures (For A While)

The remaining two members of Sublime began touring in early 2009 with new singer Rome Ramirez under the name Sublime until Bradley Nowell’s estate slapped a lawsuit on them, forcing a name change to Sublime with Rome. Rome filled in admirably for Bradley Nowell but Bradley Nowell he was not. It was nice just to hear Sublime songs live as I never had the opportunity to see Sublime back when Bradley was still alive.

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