Royal Blood 8/15/17

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A couple years ago a rare radio listen (I never listen to the radio) introduced me to “Out of the Black” which I immediately dug. This was the first “new” band I had been excited about for quite some time. That excitement grew once I found out all that sound was coming from just two dudes. What sent me even farther over the edge is when I found out Mike Kerr was essentially doing what Scott from Local H does but on a bass guitar (he is playing guitar and bass simultaneously on a bass and it sounds so fucking cool)!

I had no idea they were coming to town until the same coworker that recently hooked me up with Chevelle tickets clued me in. I also had no idea that they had released a new album on June 16th called How Did We Get So Dark? I had never seen Royal Blood and I had also never attended a concert at the Observatory North Park Theatre. After a couple failed attempts at buying tickets at the box office to save some coin this show was a done and done.

After Bob picked me up and we passed a wrap around line to park in a clusterfuck of a beehive garage across the street from the venue, we walked over to a newer eatery called Street Car Merchants to meet up with our fellow attendee JD. Once we were told it would be an hour wait for food we wisely walked across the street to Crazee Burger where I enjoyed a cajun burger with onion rings, a Dead Pan Pilsner and a “cookie” – wink wink. We had just enough time after this to live out our bum fantasy of brown bagging a tall boy Pacifico from the liquor store and walking down “memory lane” where Bob used to live.

The Observatory adjoins the West Coast Tavern and shares a bar/bathroom so I had severe déjà vu the second we walked in to use the restroom. Once Bob kept the tall boy train rolling by ordering a round of PBR we walked down to properly claim a spot to watch. We skipped the opening band Welles and by this time we were mere minutes away from show time so the place was packed. We managed to get a spot in the very back of the lowest section, which I’m sure made a lot of people happy since all three of us are over six feet tall.

Royal Blood’s stage show was the exact one that you see in their video for “Hook, Line & Sinker.” Two dudes and a backdrop consisting of a series of poles that light up in different configurations. They sounded exactly as good as they sounded on their albums and that is not a bad thing: straight ahead rock but with a unique setup. I’m sure the second round of PBR tall boys courtesy of JD did not hurt anything either. The only problem with the tall boys was that JD was ready for my round way before me and we had not yet heard “Loose Change,” “Figure It Out,” or “Out of the Black.” Of course right after I said, “let me wait until after I hear which song they will play next,” they ripped into “Figure It Out.” I thought I could sneak back to the bar immediately when they finished so started heading that way and what comes on? “Loose Change” – the song I wanted to hear the most! Then who do I see on the way to the bar? That’s right, my coworker with her fiancé that I had never met but felt like I had from all the chatter about him. I did manage to catch about a minute of the song and all was right with the world. My favorite moment came about here when Mike said, “Let me introduce you to the rest of the band,” then left the perfect amount of comedic timing beats followed by “Ben Thatcher on drums.” Then Ben came out from behind his drum kit and did this thing where he walked fairly far into the crowd on the hands of people holding him up…awesome. The show fittingly ended where my exposure to Royal Blood first started – with “Out of the Black.”

The next day I text my buddy Ross a picture from this show and he text me right back saying he was literally watching them on James Corden right at that moment and they were wearing the same clothes. My guess is that they filmed in L.A. and came down after the taping…or maybe they only own one set of clothes. Either way pretty random.

SETLIST: Where Are You Now?, Lights Out, Come on Over, I Only Lie When I Love You, Little Monster, Hook, Line & Sinker, Blood Hands, She’s Creeping, Hold in Your Heart, Figure It Out, Loose Change, Ten Tonne Skeleton, Out of the Black

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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

Guns N’ Roses 8/22/16

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My first memory of Guns N’ Roses is listening to Appetite for Destruction in my 5th grade class. Our teacher used to let us kids bring in a cassette to listen to on Fridays and a kid named Ken brought it in (I think he borrowed it from his older sister). Back around the same time my parents used to take advantage of deals through companies BMG or Columbia House where they would buy 1 album and get 12 for free. They ended up ordering Appetite for Destruction and I ended up stealing it from their collection. Before Nirvana came along GNR was one of only a handful of bands I even cared about and they were pretty much at the top of that small handful.

Fast forward to my freshman year in high school right about the time the Use Your Illusion albums came out when GNR was touring with Faith No More and Metallica. I remember this being the first concert ever wanting to see but I was still too young to drive and did not really have any older friends that could drive or money for that matter. One of the hottest girls in our school was a senior when I was a freshman and I can still see her walking down the hall in the t-shirt she had gotten from wherever she saw the tour. Within a few years GNR as the world knew them broke up and long story short I never got to see GNR…until now. So after many years of feuding Axl, Slash and Duff set aside their differences to do a tour…a very lucrative tour.

So it was announced that GNR was to play Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego as the last stop of a very limited tour. Even though the show was on a Monday this was still super convenient to me since I live within walking distance of Qualcomm Stadium. So I randomly get a text from my buddy one Saturday letting me know that there is a presale for tickets but you must purchase a fan club membership for $49 to get in on that action. All telling it ended up being $250 for 2 tickets that I thought at the time were actually fairly good seats on the floor level. Once my friend Larry living abroad caught wind he shot me a message saying something along the lines of “get me a ticket or I’ll fucking kill you.” I thought worst-case scenario I could sell the other ticket if I needed to but it ended up being a nightmare. Since I thought both my tickets were spoken for I had Bob purchase 2 tickets as well. Larry ended up not coming and now we had 2 extra tickets to get rid of in a very saturated market. At the end of the day we ended up selling Bob’s 2 tickets to friends of ours for $40 each and kept mine to use as they were the better of 2 pairs…but they turned out to be Club level, not floor.

After waiting for what seemed like forever Bob and I walked out of the nearby Liquor Store with a sandwich in hand and headed over to the parking lot to tailgate. There were a handful of people we were supposed to meet up with but I had went swimming with my non-waterproof phone the weekend before so…we just finished our beer and sandwiches and went in to see openers The Cult. We sat down and after a minute I realized that we had accidentally gotten into the Plaza level seating. About this time we saw several people walking over a gate to get onto the field level so we figured why not? Now we only had one security guard to get through to get onto the floor. Easier said than done. Even if we could figure out a way down to the floor everyone down there was wearing a bright yellow plastic wristband. Right about this time a guy just went right over the port-o-potty roof and onto the floor. We thought this was going to be our only way down but all the lights were still bright so we decided to wait until GNR actually started playing. We did not need to wait long. About 3 songs in the security guard at the end of our row abandoned post and we booked it. We tried to just blend in at the back of everyone standing on the floor and apparently were successful because we never got kicked out. Some of my favorites were “It’s So Easy,” “Double Talkin’ Jive,” “Civil War,” “Coma,” and “November Rain.” Al’s near constant wardrobe changes were comical but GNR was firing on all cylinders and clocked in at just under 3 hours which officially makes this the longest performance I have ever seen. Badass.

Marilyn Manson/Slipknot 8/17/16

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This show was originally supposed to be on June 15th but it was rescheduled to August 17th due to Corey Taylor recovering from surgery on his broken neck. Due to the rescheduling I went from going with potentially 4 or 5 other people to going by myself. Not the first time I’ve went to a concert by myself and I’m sure it will not be the last. Sure it is way cooler to go with people that you know and share an awesome moment together but when the band hits the stage I’m on another planet regardless of who if anyone is around me. Of Mice & Men opened the show but I was really going to see Marilyn Manson and Slipknot, even though I had just seen the 2 bands on the same bill at Aftershock back in October. I ended up arriving about 10 minutes prior to Marilyn Manson going on.

Due to multiple reasons I had not only a rare solo concert outing but also a rare sober concert outing. No beer, no green stuff. It was fitting that the moon was full on this particular night. The lawn was sparsely populated and the entire 3rd Level Seating Section just below was virtually empty. Even so, because the show was not general admission no specific seat ticket = no seat.

Marilyn Manson came out with a furious version of “Angel With The Scabbed Wings.” I love that song. Marilyn Manson’s stage was relatively stripped down with essentially just a fixed backdrop and a lit up stained glass window sort of thing on both sides of the stage. This was the first time I have ever seen Marilyn Manson with 2 guitarists. It sounded great but still not as great as when John5 was guitarist (I am still bummed he left the band but am happy that I still get to watch him when I see Rob Zombie live). This set had its moments but it was not one of those fierce sets that I have been lucky enough to witness a few times. There was a comical moment where some of the ladies in the crowd threw bras on the stage to Twiggy, which he proudly hung from his mic stand.

About halfway through their set I did notice something that would change the course of my evening. There is a wide walkway that separates the lawn and the 300 section. To enter the 300 section you must present your ticket stub to the security guard manning the stairway. What I witnessed was a drunk guy going halfway between the nearest 2 guards and jumping over the rail to get into the section. He got away with it and I thought it was genius so after thinking it over for a minute and rationalizing it by telling myself the worst that could happen is getting kicked out and robbed of seeing a few bands I have seen many times before I stole his move. The upside outweighed the downside. So right after the band started playing “Sweet Dreams” I made my way down to the walkway and after a quick look around to make sure no security was near (you can see them coming a mile away in their bright red t-shirts) I was up and over in a flash and went down to the front of the section and grabbed a seat. It probably helped that I was wearing a black t-shirt and jeans (a trick I learned from unsuccessfully trying to sneak into Soma wearing a bright white t-shirt). “Hey a guy just jumped over! He has brown hair and was wearing a black shirt and jeans.” Gee thanks guy you just described nearly everyone here…I digress. Marilyn Manson is always awesome but it was a little weird seeing them open for someone. I’ve seen them on festivals where they were not the headliner but this was different. Different but still awesome. Marilyn did his stilt-walking during “Sweet Dreams,” they played “Coma White” which I have only seen them play one other time and they played a ferocious version of “Antichrist Superstar.”

When Slipknot came out they quickly made me realize why Marilyn Manson was the opener. Slipknot is so goddamn loud and full of frenetic energy that you cannot help but go as nuts as the NINE dudes on stage. After “Be Prepared for Hell” played through the speakers the band hit the stage for an absolutely intense version of “The Negative One.” Hell of an entrance and they never let up the relentlessness of their attack the entire time. Corey Taylor is a great salesman. He is always telling the crowd how much they are appreciated. You cannot help but like a guy that keeps telling you how much he likes you. “Eyeless” was fantastic, “Killpop” lost some of its mysterious power and “Psychosocial” was played way faster than on the album. “Left Behind” was also another personal favorite. This band has come back in a HUGE way with the newest album and like they used to say in McDonald’s commercials “I’m lovin’ it.”

MARILYN MANSON SETLIST: “Angel With The Scabbed Wings,” “Disposable Teens,” “No Reflection,” “mOBSCENE,” “ Cupid Carries A Gun,” “Irresponsible Hate Anthem,” “The Dope Show,” “Sweet Dreams,” Antichrist Superstar,” “Coma White,” “The Beautiful People”

SLIPKNOT SETLIST: “The Negative One,” “ Disasterpiece,” “ Eyeless,” “Skeptic,” “Before I Forget,” “Killpop,” “Dead Memories,” “The Heretic Anthem,” “Psychosocial,” “Pulse of the Maggots,” “Left Behind,” “The Devil In I,” “Wait and Bleed,” “(sic),” “Surfacing,” “Duality,” “Spit It Out”

P.S…As evidenced by the video I saw, apparently  after he performed Marilyn Manson found a karaoke bar in downtown San Diego and sang “I’m 18” by Alice Cooper and “Holy Grail” by Jay Z. Lucky bastards in that bar. Watch Here

 

HELLYEAH 6/4/16

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I went to see Hellyeah 2 nights in a row? Not so fast. Remember how Bob had to end up bailing on Local H due to a family vacation? Well this concert was also affected and he was the only one slated to go with me. He wanted to see Hellyeah so bad that he bought us tickets and accommodations for the Riverside show since he was scheduled to get back Saturday afternoon. I tried selling the San Diego tickets for basement pricing but got no bites. I felt guilty for letting the tickets go to waste but I had nobody to go with me and am not that huge of a Hellyeah fan.

I had seen Hellyeah on the second stage of the Uproar Festival back in 2010 mostly because I love Pantera and Mudvayne so I had to see what Vinnie Paul and Chad Gray were up to. This was my first concert in Riverside and the venue itself was pretty cool. There were 3 opening bands but me and Bob decided to drink ourselves into oblivion instead. After a 6 pack each of some potent IPA we headed off into what seemed like the downtown area. It was a good turnout, especially after the experience I had earlier in the week. Hellyeah was touring for the new album Unden!able that ironically was released on June 3rd (day of the San Diego show). All I can really say is Hellyeah was much improved over the last time I had seen them. They were tight as a band and seemed to be firing on all cylinders. There were only a handful of songs I recognized as a casual fan but as a fan of heavy metal in general I appreciated their performance.

 

Filter/Orgy 5/19/16

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So this show had been on my radar largely because Orgy was opening up for Filter. I had only seen Orgy once (see Big Stink 4 8/8/99) and just missed them play a headlining show at the end of January. I was on the fence for this show since it was on a “school night” but decided against going once I learned that the only original member of Orgy was the singer Jay Gordon. I guess if you’re going to have only one original member the singer is the best person to have because the voice/emotion is not as easy to replicate as guitar tones. Ultimately I was just scared of tarnishing the memory of the first time I saw Orgy since it was so great. That is until I won 4 tickets on a lark from entering a contest from a Facebook ad. I never win anything so that was pretty cool. I got Tom and Bob on board but Tom flaked out at the last minute. I ended up selling one of the tickets for $10 to a guy that met us at the venue. There were 2 other bands (Death Valley High and Vampires Everywhere) but Orgy was already playing when we walked in. We got to see them play “Octagon,” “Fiction (Dreams in Digital),” “Suckerface,” “Stitches,” “Blue Monday” and a few new songs that did not sound bad. It was fantastic. Not as good as the first time I saw them but still fantastic (though apparently they could not afford to buy their own backdrop (see picture). For “Blue Monday” Jay walked around the floor and was going up to people having them sing verses of the song.

Filter headlined the show and were touring for their new album Crazy Eyes. I love Filter and saw them about 5 times prior to this but I have just not been able to get into any of the albums after The Amalgamat. Lucky for me roughly half the songs they played were from the first 3 albums including “(Can’t You) Trip Like I Do,” “You Walk Away,” “Jurassitol,” “Take A Picture,” “Welcome to the Fold,” “American Cliche’,” “The Best Things,” and “Hey Man Nice Shot.” Richard Patrick had an entirely new touring band that seemed to click a little better than the last time I saw Filter open up for Chevelle and Bush. Rich bore a slight resemblance to Hitler partially because of the lighting, partially because of my beer consumption and mostly because of his haircut. If he decided to grow that stupid little mustache he could get cast for the role of Hitler no problem. My faith has been restored in seeing Filter live. Now I just need to get into albums 4-7…

I would be remiss if I did not share the story about the Uber we caught after the show. Guy picks us up I say how’s it going? He says alright but my transmission is shitty. I say “you know what’s good for a shitty transmission? Pantera.” He says I don’t have that but fuck yeah! Then he puts on Metallica’s And Justice for All album (my favorite Metallica album) at full volume and we proceed to rock the fuck out the entire drive home but halfway through the ride he reaches for his glovebox and says “You guys wanna smoke some weed?” Best. Uber. Ever.

Billy Joel 5/14/16

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Billy Joel? The Piano Man? Yep. I am a super casual Billy Joel fan and did not plan on going but got married 3 weeks ago and received tickets as a wedding gift from my wife’s aunt. We made the ill decision of taking the trolley into downtown which in and of itself is fine, but we always forget that it takes almost an hour because of all the stops in between. We got into downtown and had a little time to grab a drink so we went into the Old Spaghetti Factory thinking that the bar area would be relatively empty compared to a traditional bar. Wrong. That place was popping but we managed to get a large beer in us before heading over to Petco Park, which is surprisingly a pretty cool place to see a concert with the beautiful skyline as a backdrop. I had previously seen DeadMau5 and Paul McCartney there. Our seats were nearly as far away as they could possibly be but we did not care. Just being there was cool. Billy Joel came out and started about 8:30. He said he had not been in San Diego “since I was here with that other guy about 15 years ago.” Then he started singing “I don’t have much money” referencing Elton John’s “Your Song” and said “you have plenty of money motherfucker.” He seemed to be genuinely enjoying himself. I can always respect that out of a performer that has had to play the same songs literally thousands of times. The first hour of the show started out a little slow and as a casual fan the only song I really knew in that first hour was “The Longest Time.”Then he kicked it into high gear and killed it for the final hour starting with my personal favorite “Movin’ Out.” Then he played “She’s Always a Woman” and “My Life” before doing an electrifying cover of AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell” with one of his roadies singing. Billy Joel doing a cover of AC/DC??? Awesome. Then he played “We Didn’t Start the Fire,” “The River of Dreams,” and a cover of the Eagles’ “Take it Easy” before playing the crowd favorite “Piano Man.” The place just erupted with everyone going nuts. He finished up with “Uptown Girl,” “Still Rock And Roll To Me,” Big Shot,” “You May Be Right” with a little Led Zeppelin tacked on to the end and closed with “Only the Good Die Young.” So happy I got to see this guy!