Friday, December 31, 2010

That's a Wrap!

Thank you Live Nation! For an entire year of Ultimate Access to The House of Blues Las Vegas!

The amalgamation of music and over forty performances I saw at The House of Blues in 2010 has affected my world in countless ways. I created this blog as my New Year’s Resolution, deciding to share this gift of music with the world by reviewing every show I attended. “This blog has been created as a tribute to Live Nation. A great thanks for allowing me the privilege to have Ultimate Access to the House of Blues Las Vegas...“

Looking back it has been a wild and impressive ride full of great times, rockin' music, and new friends. While overwhelming at times, I am quite proud of what I am able to show for it; a years worth of concerts, pictures, and videos to share with everyone. Please dig in and share your concert experiences!

12/07/2010 - Passion Pit
12/04/2010 - Adam Carolla: A Christmas Carolla Show
12/03/2010 - Wu-Tang Clan
11/30/2010 - Darkness Reborn Tour: Dimmu Borgir
11/27/2010 - Pretty Lights with Kraddy and Gramitik
11/21/2010 - Black Label Society
11/20/2010 - 3OH!3 with Hellogoodbye
11/18/2010 - Twiztid
11/07/2010 - Reel Big Fish with Goldfinger
11/06/2010 - Charlie Murphy
10/30/2010 - DJ Shadow: Live from the Shadowsphere
10/29/2010 - Escape The Fate
10/24/2010 - Wiz Khalifa with Yelawolf
10/24/2010 - Karl Denson's Tiny Universe
10/22/2010 - Suicidal Tendencies with (hed)p.e.
10/10/2010 - Tech N9ne and E-40
10/01/2010 - Atmosphere: To All My Friends
09/22/2010 - Ratatat
09/18/2010 - Mike Posner
09/07/2010 - Apocalyptica with Dir En Grey
08/21/2010 - Cyndi Lauper
08/20/2010 - The Dan Band
08/19/2010 - Ghostland Observatory
07/23/2010 - Keane
07/18/2010 - Thrice, Kevin Devine, Bad Veins, and The Dig
07/08/2010 - Lamb of God with Hatebreed
07/02/2010 - Joe Rogan
06/26/2010 - The Psychedelic Furs & She Wants Revenge
06/10/2010 - ICP, Coolio, and Kittie
06/04/2010 - Bone Thugs-N-Harmony
06/01/2010 - Tech N9ne
04/24/2010 - HIM
04/10/2010 - Fear Factory
03/26 & 03/27/2010 - Bad Religion: 30th Anniversary Tour
03/24/2010 - Paul Wall & Chamillionaire
03/19/2010 - New Found Glory
03/12/2010 - Sevendust with Drowning Pool
03/11/2010 - Twiztid
02/27/2010 - George Thorogood and The Destroyers
02/26/2010 - Sound Tribe Sector 9 [STS9]
02/06/2010 - Badfish: A Tribute to Sublime
01/31/2010 - AFI

Thank you once again Live Nation for this incredible opportunity. Spending nearly 10% of my year inside The House of Blues, I cherished every show, even saving each ticket and wristband. Although I have already experienced the despair of not being able to get tickets for a show in 2011, I will still be seeing you On Tour...

To see other concerts I have reviewed please check out my sister blog site, Infinitely On Tour

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Passion Pit

To close out my year with The House of Blues Ultimate Access Pass, I was delighted to end with a band enjoying an even more fruitful year than I, Passion Pit. First introduced to Passion Pit as on Geoff Lloyd’s HomeTime Show on Absolute Radio in London, this Boston band gained their popularity overseas before catching fire at Coachella in April. Their truly unique music harmonized by sharp high vocals makes their sound infectious; I could not wait to hear it at full blast inside the House of Blues.

After being so impressed with Pretty Lights’ lineup and lively performances just a week earlier, I expected something similar from the Passion Pit opening bands: Mister Heavenly, We Barbarians, Pepper Rabbit, and DJ M!keAttack. To my disappointment, I must say this was one of the most excruciating and mismatched openings for a show I’ve seen all year since Thrice. Local DJ M!keAttack is often spotted spinning banging hot sets all over town, tonight however he couldn’t keep it together. He would whip the crowd up to a frenzied dance then drop the beat, a few times even train-wrecking completely.
Following the introductory under par performance, We Are Barbarians took to the stage and did no better of a job getting the crowd warmed up for the show. Their mellow rock music was easy to listen to, but never really grabbed a hold of the audience, as most continued to socialize. Next up was Mr. Heavenly, who turns out is an indie supergroup consisting of members from Modest Mouse, Mad Man, Islands, and movie-star Michael Cera on bass. Their music was well-composed almost psychedelic rock, often driven by talented keyboardist and singer, Honus Honus. I could really see Mister Heavenly taking off in popularity, however tonight’s audience was still unimpressed, and not showing any love.
While awaiting Passion Pit, the House of Blues was packed wall to wall, all dying with anticipation as we drooled over their light and instrument setup. (Including several LED strips, beat machines, and six keyboards: two Nords, a Korg, Virus, Casio, Mini, and maybe a micro) At 11:15, Passion Pit opened their set blazing, jumping around stage, flashing strobe lights, with their hit Make Light. The audience quickly lit up, stopped talking, and started dancing. Despite a few technical problems with the vocals, Passion Pit played extended versions of their songs and kept the crowd clapping along to every song.
This was Passion Pit’s first stop in Las Vegas, and they gave it up playing a full setlist: Better Things, The Reeling, Moth’s Wings, To Kingdom Come, Swimming in the Flood, Let Your Love Grow Tall, Fold in your Hands, Smile Upon Me, and Little Secrets. Passion Pit graciously returned onstage, playing a little hoe-down to pass the time, while fans chanted “Sleepyhead! Sleepyhead!” In the middle of Eyes as Candles, the beat was dropped and the melody was carried along by the singing audience. Then Passion Pit treated us to a beautiful cover of The Cranberries Dreams before ending the night with Sleepyhead.

Although getting through the two hours leading up to Passion Pit was tedious at times, it was well worth it. Their show was nothing short of my expectations. I found their live sound even better than their recording, just for the rawness of the synthesizers and vocals. Be sure to check out my videos below, I caught some great footage for all three bands. Maybe next time they come to town, you will be sure to get a ticket.

Part I: We Are Barbarians, Mister Heavenly, Passion Pit, Make Light

Part II: Passion Pit, The Reeling, Little Secrets, Sleepyhead

For some close-up photographs, check out the album on Las Vegas Weekly.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Adam Carolla: A Christmas Carolla Show

For the second time in thrity days, The House of Blues became The House of Comedy, tonight welcoming Adam Carolla: A Christmas Carolla Show. When you think of Adam Carolla, where do you start? The Man Show, Loveline, Crank Yankers, The Adam Carolla Show? Over the years, America has become quite familiar to his jokes and antics, and I couldn’t wait to see him live.

Adam Carolla came on-stage right on time with no opening act. Wasting no time at all, he started poking fun at the audience, specifically the cowboys that were in town for the National Finals Rodeo (NFR). Once he got on track, Carolla flipped through a slideshow as he told his jokes, each picture emphasized the ridiculous nature of whatever topic he was attacking. One of segments titled “Why I hate L.A.” included many freeway clearance signs, reading 15’0”, 14’11”, 15’1”, and also included the infamous Mexican family crossing sign. These pictures combined with his crisp, straight-up delivery kept the crowd in stitches.
Carolla took a few breaks during the performance, while he played some of his infamous video sketches. These included the classic “Drunken Pilots” from The Man Show, and the ludacris animated short featuring Byran Cranston, “Gay-Eye.” Adam also played some clips from Crank Yankers, commenting that all calls were recorded from our city, because the are “no laws in Las Vegas.”
Nothing was off the table, he delivered quick offhand style and unpredictable comments that kept him fresh and interesting. Carolla closed his act by making fun of himself while proving a valid point. As he recommended each of us should follow our aspirations, he depicted the slow painful journey with a slideshow of his financial earnings. Through his twenties, Adam only cleared $20,000 once before he was thirty, several years were $0. "I'm not here to tell you what to do... I'm telling you to start it!"

Adam Carolla put on a great well-rounded comedy act. He included past and present skits, non-stop laughter, and many fiery rants that even made him stop and chuckle. While I have always appreciated Adam's contribution to comedy in the last decade, I wouldn't have considered myself a fan until seeing him live. Since the show, I have enjoyed many Adam Carolla Show podcasts, and would suggest any comedy lover to give his show a listen.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Wu-Tang Clan

Announced only a couple weeks before the show, House of Blues welcomed Wu-Tang Clan with special guests HighDro and Goodmuzik101. The most enticing aspect to this impromptu show, Wu-Tang was to include all remaining members of the Clan except for the RZA, who is currently tied up in other projects. [GZA, Ghostface, Method Man, Masta Killa, Raekwon, U-God, and Inspectah Deck] Without hesitation, I got my tickets, knowing this was a rare chance to see one of raps most legendary crews together onstage.

Opening was local rapper HighDro who typically freestyles alongside a DJ, tonight welcomed local band Goldfish Don’t Bounce and a beat-boxer to back him. HighDro put on a crowd pleasing performance, moving the crowd towards the stage and setting the atmosphere. Goodmuzik101 followed shortly after, rapping through a short set, getting the audience hyped and ready for Wu-Tang.
Wu-Tang arrived on stage late to an anxious and welcoming audience. Wasting no time, Wu-Tang Clan came out blazing, starting off with some fan favorites: Bring Da Ruckus, Shame on a Nigga, Killa Beez, and Ain't Nuthing Ta Fuck Wit. In no time The House of Blues was a rowdy party, money was falling down from atop the stage, wafts of marijuana clouds floated through the air, while all the females shook their booties. Method Man even stepped off stage onto the hands of fans, as a semi crowd surf, spiting rhymes as he stood atop a pyramid of obliging fans.
Wu-Tang kept the fans pumped throughout their set, constantly riling up the audience, “Everybody in this mothafucka make some noise if you love Wu-Tang!” Late appearances included Masta Killa and the late Ol' Dirty Bastard’s son, Young Dirty Bastard, who would’ve done his father proud with his talent on the mic. As Method Man was blazing up on stage, he mentioned “This is a family reunion.. ..goin on 17 years,” and they busted into a Family Reunion rap. The rounded out their short set with Ice Cream, Da Mystery of Chessboxin', C.R.E.A.M., and a special tribute to ODB of Shimmy Shimmy Ya performed by YDB.

The tightly packed crowd was still dancing, clapping hands, shouting “Yeah baby I like it raw,” as the stage quickly cleared. Before we knew it, Method Man became the sole rapper onstage, trailing off into incoherent rhymes. Shortly afterward, the lights came up and show was over. Completing an only one hour set, Wu-Tang gave fans everything we wanted, but nothing more. Leaving us hanging, with no closing shout outs or good nights.
Despite the short and sweet performance, I really can’t hate on it. Wu-Tang showed up full force, rocked the crowd hard, and agreed to a House of Blues show, after an impromptu appearance at Boomers in November packed the joint. This was a rare opportunity to see some many old school rappers that helped further define the genre in our generation, and I was grateful to be part of the sold out show.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Darkness Reborn Tour: Dimmu Borgir with Enslaved

Putting the nail in the coffin for heavy metal shows at The House of Blues this year, the highly anticipated Darkness Reborn Tour 2010 was announced. Featuring Norwegian metal bands Dimmu Borgir, Enslaved, Blood Red Throne, and Dawn of Ashes, this was sure to be an ear-bleeding, fully charged show. When I first discovered European black metal in the late 1990s, Dimmu Borgir was a quick favorite, and was truly thrilled by the opportunity to see them live.

Arriving as Enslaved took the stage, I was instantly impressed by the intensity of their energetic loud music. Seeming to have a rather large fan base within the crowd, as they grinded out their fast songs, a sea of flying hair headbanged in unison. Within just a few tracks, the crowd was already slamming and getting rowdy, raising the pulse of everyone in the house. Thanking the fans, Enslaved took a bow and humbly cleared the stage.
When the lights came up, Xibir played while the fans cheered, as the blue light revealed a large stage setup. Dimmu Borgir, six members in total, walked to their instruments, all sporting face paint, dressed in sand-blasted armored coats, fitted only for worthy metal gods... it was perfect. The house roared with cheers, fists were thrown, and men rushed to the center of the floor as security futilely tried to stop pits from breaking out. Announcing this was the first time they had been back to Las Vegas in two years, Dimmu only encouraged the audiences’ behavior, “Let me see those horns!”
Dimmu Borgir assaulted the audience not only with their incredibly loud music but also with the strobe lights timed perfectly to the speedy double bass drums. Angelic synth/keys tied the thumping drums, dual guitars, rattling bass, and growled lyrics all together in perfect synchronicity. It was a non-stop metal onslaught for over an hour, and Dimmu pulled it off effortlessly. Setlist included Spellbound (By the Devil), The Chosen Legacy, IndoctriNation, Dimmu Borgir, Gateways, Chess With the Abyss, Born Treacherous, A Jewel Traced Through Coal, The Blazing Monoliths of Defiance, and Vredesbyrd.
Returning on stage to a shouting crowd, lead singer Silenoz yelled, “You guys tired or are you ready to hear more Norwegian black metal hardcore!?" Exhausted fans mustered up a deserving response and were treated to an extended encore, including: The Serpentine Offering, Puritania, Progenies of the Great Apocalypse, Mourning Palace, exiting with Perfection Or Vanity. Each left individually, bowing and graciously thanking the audience and die-hard fans. Dimmu Borgir was solid through and through, giving fans everything they could have wanted. Next time their tour runs through, lace up your black boots and see what you’ve been missing.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Pretty Lights with Kraddy and GramatiK

The most exciting announcement in electronic shows since DJ Shadow, just a month later the House of Blues welcomed the Pretty Lights with Kraddy and Gramatik. Pretty Lights creator, Derek Vincent Smith has had an amazing year, putting on a noteworthy performance at Coachella in April and releasing three EPs this year: Making Up A Changing Mind, Spilling Over Every Side, and released just Oct. 22, 2010, Glowing In The Darkest Night. I was more than excited to see Pretty Lights in such an intimate venue, reflecting on their intense Coachella show, shared in a tent with thousands of people.

Due to my recent fixation on dubstep and the out of control Bass Gravy dubstep show just three nights earlier, I was eager to close the weekend with some of my favorite electronic artists. I was introduced to Gramatik and Kraddy through, Kraddy being my top 6th artist played, only after Pretty Lights in 5th. Gramatik played rather downtempo beats but did a good job of getting the fans down on the floor and dancing.

Kraddy hit the stage to an excited crowd, many of whom seemed familiar fans. He played most of his beats solely through a Macbook, but kept each song on the fly and super tight. Kraddy completed his set with his hard hitting track Android Porn, sending the frenzied audience into a jumping dance pit. Kraddy hit it hard spinning deep bass dubstep, hyping up the audience to a point that each minute we waited for Pretty Lights to come out seemed like an eternity.
As we all itched for Pretty Lights to get us all back into a united groove, the anticipation only continued to swell as we watched the stage crew uncover an incredible setup. Pretty Lights had at least 7 digital LED panels covering the stage, front to back, all of which were synchronized to project fluid images. Pretty Lights was projected on the screens as they entered the stage, and it quickly melted into bright explosions of color. To the right of Derek’s screen lit DJ platform, Adam Deitch played live drums perfectly in time with Derek and kept up the whole night through.

Pretty Lights played a solid and tight set for what seemed like hours. Even though I was being assaulted by some of the most intense visuals I have ever seen, it was hard to stay focused on them for too long as the infectious natural beats flowed through my body and overcame me. The audience grooved as one, entranced by the seamless beats, taken over by the beautiful music that moved as one with the bold visual screens. Deceivingly abrupt, we were surprised when Pretty Lights bowed and ended the show, totally shocked that it was already 1:30 AM.
After mulling around for a few minutes, rather glum that the experience that was Pretty Lights was over, Derek returned to his microphone and announced “They just told me I could play until 3...” The hot and packed House of Blues showed no signs of wear, as fans screamed with absolute enthusiasm looking forward to an all nighter with Pretty Lights.

Pretty Lights continued as if the music never stopped, playing solid through 2:45 AM. (Please note, drummer Adam Deitch played along with Derek continuously through the entire four hour performance!) Right up there with Nine Inch Nails, DJ Shadow, and deadmau5, Pretty Lights brought forth one of the most intense lightshows I have ever seen. Only backing their even more inventive music, I cannot decide if the musical performance or the visual show was better; I am only left to say that the whole experience was intoxicating and nearly indescribable.

If Pretty Lights makes a stop in your city, I recommend picking up tickets and telling your friends; you will not be disappointed. If you are unfamiliar with Pretty Lights, or the genre itself, be sure to check out their website. All l6 of Pretty Lights CDs are available FREE to download from Pretty Lights Music. THANK YOU!

Setlist (included, no order): Finally Moving, Almost Familiar, Hot Like Sauce, More Important Than Michael Jordan, Who Loves Me, Sunday School, The Time Has Come, Keep ‘em Bouncin’.

*Please excuse my poor photography, as the photos do not do the exceptional live visual performance justice. I searched high and low, but everyone was just as I, too distracted dancing along to the music to snap any good pictures. Even more reason for you to check out Pretty Lights on tour.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Black Label Society

The originally scheduled Black Label Berzekus Tour, with Black Label Society, 2 Cents, and Sister Sin scheduled for September 16th, was canceled within a week of show, with no announcement or explanation from the official website. After the show was promptly rescheduled for November 21, 2010, featuring Clutch and Children of Bodom, I was satisfied and let it go. However, this show too was canceled within a week of the show.

Although there are rumors that Zakk Wylde’s health may be to blame, there was never any mention or reason why the Las Vegas shows were affected. During my research, I found this audacious entry on their website, “The following shows have been cancelled due to Zakk's obligations in the studio recording the new Ozzy Osbourne release...” It must be nice to be such an incredible guitar player that you can double book yourself and have no second thoughts about letting your fans down when you don’t come through.

Well unfortunately Mr. Wylde, The House of Blues and many fans have standards, two strikes and you’re out. Now that Black Label Society has been blacklisted, looks like I won’t be seeing you on tour... This year, or ever.