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.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

3OH!3 with Hellogoodbye

I cannot think of many other better ways to begin a Saturday evening in Las Vegas, than with party rock duo 3OH!3. This show with special guests Hellogoodbye, Down With Webster, and K. Flay was a high demand ticket. By name, I did not know who they were, but after a quick listen, I recognized their infectious songs immediately. I had a feeling that 3OH!3 would blow the roof off The House of Blues.

Hellogoodbye already graced the House of Blues stage earlier this year, opening for New Found Glory in March. After being impressed with their retro rock-pop sound in March, I noticed that this time their music seemed more fine tuned, even streamlined. Despite their clean performance, I found their sound less genuine and interesting. Hellogoodbye played a full set to a great audience, seemingly here just for their show. Certainly a well-deserved contrast to the audience's poor appreciation last time. It looks as though Hellogoodbye is on their way up to bigger and better things; definitely worth checking out.

After a short break fans were accosted by bright flashing lights and air horns, with a 3OH!3 American flag backdrop. Within seconds, the fans were shouting and throwing their 3OH!3 hand symbols in the air. Wasting no time, they started off hard with Starstrukk quickly getting the crowded floor of people in a jumping dance frenzy. Despite already expecting have have a party rockin’ awesome time, I was still astonished by the amount of super-fans and how much fun we had.
3OH!3 kept the beats going nonstop, playing a familiar and infectiously danceable setlist, including many covers. Kiss From a Rose, (Seal) I Believe I Can Fly, (R Kelly) Snow (Hey Oh) (Red Hot Chili Peppers), Deja Vu, We Are Young, Teenage Dirtbag (Wheatus). Sean jokingly commented “We are worst cover band you've ever heard in your life!” On the contrary, they sounded great backed by a live band (no DJ), and kept the fans bouncing around throughout their set.

Returning for an encore to a chanting and still fired-up crowd, 3OH!3 exclaimed, “This is the best show we’ve ever played in Vegas!” I might suggest this was an understatement, as everyone in the house was having an all out blast and getting wild. After covering Rock You Like a Hurricane (Scorpions), Sean laughed, “We got at least 10 more covers to go...” wrapping it up with Double Vision, Schools Out (Alice Cooper), and Don’t Trust Me.
After the lights came up, we fanned for air, still pumped with energy, looked at one another wondering, well what now. 3OH!3 brought us up high and it was a rather harsh comedown after their energized performance. Even better than their show was their humble approach to their music and fans. They took several moments to reflect on how far they’ve come, gave respect to opening bands, and promoted donating to or participating in a marathon to fight cancer, like Sean had earlier this year in Chicago. Needless to say, I put 3OH!3 on a must see list for any concert goer or party animal, you and your crew are sure to have a ball!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Twiztid with Blaze Ya Dead Homie

After an abrupt, day of show cancellation of their original March 11th date, Twiztid returned to The House of Blues with Blaze Ya Dead Homie. Being surprised and impressed by ICP’s June performance, I decided to give Twiztid the benefit of the doubt and check it out.
Blaze Ya Dead Homie (BYDH) appeared sporting an over-sized clock hanging from his chain, opening to a moderately sized crowd, full of enthusiasm. Within the first fifteen minutes of his set, I was already questioning if it was all taped. The music sounded pre-recorded, their mouth movement and mic placement did not match up, and tracks faded in and out with no visible DJ. The audience was throwing hands up, cheering, and seemed to be enjoying themselves, I couldn’t stick it through his set.

While the stage was being setup for Twiztid, a DJ came on-stage and mixed, keeping the audience’s energy up. After the second Tech N9ne song was rotated through the mix and received an equal response from the crowd as any BYDH song did, I felt my open-mindedness and credibility go out the door. My last expectation was to see how elaborate of a set they were hiding behind all the draped black sheets.
The lights came up, the sheets dropped, revealing a disappointing setup, and Twiztid came onstage mics in hand, but once again with no visible DJ to make or spin their beats. Granted it did sound like Twiztid was actually freestyling on top of a muddy low beat, their performance was only slightly better than BYDH’s. To my astonishment, the audience continued to give off the same level of response after each song, act, and even to the DJ in between. Forty-five minutes into Twiztid’s mediocre performance, I ran out of reasons to stay.

After I swore them off in March due to lack of respect for their own fans, then tried again and came to their rescheduled show, I left wondering if the whole show was a "Milli Vanilli." Despite the underwhelming performances, I will admit that true fans were happy with the concert, but if you are not part of the “family,” this show was nothing to call home about. As much as I detest even writing this review, I have to place Twiztid as a top contender for the worst performance at The House of Blues I have ever seen.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Reel Big Fish, Goldfinger, & Suburban Legends

When I saw the announcement for Reel Big Fish (RBF) with Goldfinger and Suburban Legends, I instantly flashed back to the late nineties at The Huntridge, when these and many other ska/punk bands were at their prime. During these few short years, Las Vegas’ music scene developed and emerged strong, offering all age shows every weekend, featuring multi-band punk/metal/ska line-ups for just a few bucks. Due to the pure nostalgia their music holds in my heart, I was anxious to see how the bands and music had stood up over the last decade.

Suburban Legends came onstage bursting with energy, quickly spreading like wildfire through the crowd. I was caught a bit off guard with their preteen pop laced ska, but after seeing everyone dancing and having a great time, I was feeling it too. Their whimsical music also painted a clear picture of the solid decade generation gap in the audience, those just discovering ska and the original veterans. To even further watch the great divide occur, Suburban Legends wrapped their set with a ska cover of 2010’s internet smash, Bed Intruder.
After Suburban Legends had already got the crowd loosened up for Golfinger, lead singer John Feldmann wasted no time blasting the audience, “This is a punk rock show... I want to everyone step up and give it your all!” Wasting no time at all, Goldfinger blasted off with Chris Cayton, even welcoming the real Chris Cayton, (who the song was written about) joining in the first few songs on guitar. Playing through a great well mixed set, Goldfinger also featured Brett Reed from Rancid on drums for the entirety of their set.

The crowd quickly responded and kept up with John’s high demands, keeping a circle pit and skanking in full effect through the duration of their set and encore. In return, they welcomed many people onstage to dance and sing 1996’s Mabel. Songs ranged from new to old, including most fan favorites, plus covers of Just Like Heaven (The Cure), White Christmas, and 99 Luft Balloons (Nena). Taking a moment to thank The Huntridge and all old-school fans, John announced they have been touring with RBF continuously since 1994, and this was Goldfinger’s 58th stop in Las Vegas. Even after all these years, Goildfinger still had the energy and sound I remembered so well.
Reel Big Fish was on after a short break and were greeted by an enthusiastic audience. Just like Goldfinger, RBF were no sorrier for wear over the years, sounding as great as ever, even sprinkling in some goofy synchronized dance moves in the horn section. Playing through a range of old and new songs, skank circles and clap-sessions erupted continuously song after song. The audience’s momentum never dropped, and I even spotted several bartenders moving and singing along.

RBF made many bold cover song decisions, from Brown Eyed Girl (Van Morrison) right into Enter Sandman (Metallica), and wrapped up with a quick hardcore song into Take On Me (A-ha). Doing these covers worked in two ways for the bands, kept the fans interested and allowed them to show off their musical diversity and talent to adapt their rhythm with ease. Near the end of the show, I found the number of cover songs was rather disappointing, viewing it almost as a death of ska, a last attempt to keep the music alive and relevant.
Each band’s energy and clean performance throughout made this a fun show for all ages. Even though I felt the music’s age wear on me and it wasn’t the same as the 90s, the bands showed no signs of being out of practice and truly put on great shows. Fan of ska or not, the music is jovial, Reel Big Fish and Goldfinger are the best of the genre, and you really have to fight the urge to dance; what more could one want?

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Charlie Murphy

Tonight The House of Blues welcomed Charlie Murphy, back after a last minute cancellation of the original August 12th show date. Although Murphy never stated why the August show was canceled, I happen to know that day he was spotted at the airport catching a plane to Hawaii... Regardless, I was pleased Charlie Murphy rescheduled and was curious to see what his stand-up was all about.

Opening for Murphy was a fellow underground comedian that has traveled with him for many years, Freez Luv. His style was upfront, real, and quickly grabbed the audience by making fun of everyone, but especially himself. Freez Luv's jokes were easy to follow, funny on many levels, had memorable punchlines, that were delivered carefree. "I like a woman who looks like the back of a TV... with that Toshiba belly!" Without a doubt, Freez warmed up the crowd and already had many laughing out of their seats.
Charlie Murphy came onstage to an exuberant audience, as miscellaneous quotes from his skits on Chappelle's Show could be heard through the applause. Either you know Charlie Murphy as Eddie Murphy's older brother or from Chappelle's Show. I was interested to see what else he had to offer, especially in a stand-up setting.

After the cheers died down, it took a few minutes for the crowd to adjust from Freez's slapstick comedy to Charlie's matter of fact and mellow style. His style is not similar to most stand-up comedians in typical A to B followed by punchline C, rather he likes to storytell of real life situations that leave him completely baffled. Murphy joked, “Five days is long enough for kids to start questioning your authority... My kid gets out the dictionary, 'It says right here you’re supposed to be able to fix this,'" in reference to the New Jersey power outage that lasted several days. If you could stick with him for a few minutes, the hook at the end of the story was often clever and well worth it.

I thought Charlie Murphy was solid, complete with new material, absurd stories, and kept up the momentum through the performance. Near the end of the show, it was clear that half the crowd was laughing with him and the other half didn't get what they expected. Unfortunately, I believe those that were not laughing only knew Charlie for his celebrity, not his comedy. This unfair expectation is responsible for the disaster that unfolded the night before at Georgia State University (GSU), at which Charlie told the audience "Fuck you" and walked off stage.

If you like raw, real humor, and don't need a zinger or fart joke to laugh, I would highly suggest Charlie Murphy. The House of Blues Las Vegas is one of his frequent stops, so be sure to check him out, it looks like he will be around for a while. "Performed at House of Blues last night in Las Vegas. Scored an A will keep doing this till it's obvious that GSU Is ignorant!" @cmurphycomedy Sunday, November 07, 2010

Saturday, October 30, 2010

DJ Shadow - Live from the Shadowsphere

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Halloween in Las Vegas is one of the biggest party weekends all year, often overwhelming due to the number of venues booked with top notch talent. The House of Blues did not disappoint, booking one of the most talented artists in the industry, DJ Shadow. I was ecstatic, I couldn’t have asked for a better way to spend my Saturday night, dressed in a costume, dancing with DJ Shadow “Live from the Shadowsphere.”

Assuming this would be a popular event, I bought a extra tickets. To my surprise, most people I talked to did not know of him or were simply not interested. On the night of the show, I was stunned to find out only 200 tickets to had been sold to this show. Endtroducing... DJ Shadow’s studio record was named “All-TIME 100 Albums,” by TIME magazine. During the last twenty years, DJ Shadow is recognized as a true pioneer, master turntablist, and the creator of trip-hop. I suggest take a listen or read through his website or download his free app. There is also a podcast available of an interview with DJ Shadow prior to his performance here.

The venue was lightly crowded during Pigeon John, the opening act’s performance. A male hip hop vocalist accompanied by two females on either side, one rocking turntables and a laptop, the other singing backup. Pigeon John’s music was interesting, however he put out a lot of energy to a somewhat subdued audience. Upon finishing their set, a shout-out was given to DJ Shadow, causing the eager crowd to go ballistic. Not only anxious to find out what that large stage setup was for, but to also hear the turntables of a legend.

Right before DJ Shadow took the stage, technicians aligned several projectors around the white globe and backdrop, only heightening our interest and impatience. DJ Shadow dropped the house lights, relying only on his projector setup, filling the room with bass heavy beats and incredible psychedelic graphics. The Shadowsphere images were so well mapped, it often truly resembled a sphere, glass, or an optical illusion; I could not take my eyes off it. A few times, Shadow turned the globe to reveal himself or displayed real time video of himself playing from within the Shadowsphere.

DJ Shadow did not skip a beat, showing mad skills with the turntables, ranging from dancebeats to downtempo, Shadow kept it going for over two hours, including an encore. His incredible music, in a relatively small venue, with a small enough audience for a perfect dancefloor, all emphasized by his brilliant visuals, was mindblowing. Live from the Shadowsphere was an amazing display of a true artist and equally creative technology. Ranking as one of the top twenty best live performance’s, DJ Shadow’s performance was so unique, it’s nearly indescribable. I was lucky enough to capture permanent record of this experience, so without further adieu, I will let the video speak for itself.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Escape The Fate

Love or hate them, Escape the Fate is a homegrown band that was driven to success by their Las Vegas fan base. Fresh out of high school Ronnie Radke (vocals), Max Green (bass) and Robert Ortiz (drums) joined with Monte and Omar on guitars, completing the band, developing their sound out of a North Las Vegas garage. I have not seen Escape the Fate since before their battle of the bands performance (Sept 2005), responsible for launching the band into a record deal. Needless to say, I was quite excited to hear them in a true venue, with lead singer Craig Mabbitt, and see what I’ve been missing over the last five years.
As a diehard “soldier” (fan) during their early days, I went to every abandoned warehouse and crammed coffee shop show, supporting their uniquely metal-hardcore and presence. Once EtF began gaining recognition, I was disappointed to hear much cleaner, poppy versions of their songs. In late 2004 their shows were heavy, with great mosh pits and slam dancing. By the summer of 2005, everything was more image driven and their edge wore off. Although I continued to support the band, buying their EP, first album, and miscellaneous merch, nothing felt or sounded the same as it did in the beginning. Through hell and back with Ronnie Radke, it’s impressive they stuck it through, reformed, and continued to make music.

As the lights dimmed, the shriek of the fans was unmistakably pre-pubescent, I looked around to find few that were my age or older. Contradictory to age of the crowd and my expectations, Escape the Fate entered out one by one, igniting the audience, and wasted no time starting of heavy. Max and Monte were playing precise and fast, lit by flashing strobe lights, getting the audience to scream and dance just like the old days. Although I am familiar to Ronnie’s style, Craig was full of energy and did a great job, complete with stage theatrics that kept the girls up front screaming.
Escape the Fate kept the energy and volume cranked up through the entirety of the show. Max and Craig often paused to talk to the audience, reminisce on their Vegas beginnings and thanked their “soldiers” and family for supporting them to reach this point. Escape the Fate played a variety of their collection, both new and old with ferocity: Choose Your Fate, Massacre, 10 Miles Wide, The Flood, Something, City of Sin, Issues, Bad Blood, Situations,This War is Ours (The Guillotine II), The Aftermath (The Guillotine II)

Escape the Fate closed the evening with a prolonged goodbye, Robert threw his drum sticks, and invited everyone to their afterparty and record release on November 2nd. After their performance, I left the show reminded of why I was a dedicated fan years ago. I spent the next week listening to their albums and am looking forward to what they will release with their new label. Their distinct blend of metal and hardcore was what hooked me, and from the sound of things, Escape the Fate has their edge back.

Check a live video of this performance at Artist Direct

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Karl Denson's Tiny Universe

For the first time I have seen, tonight The House of Blues hosted a late night, 2am show featuring Karl Denson's Tiny Universe. The reason for this unusually late booking was Karl Denson played as guest at the Widespread Panic and Govt Mule show earlier Saturday evening, at The Joint. Even though I had never heard of Karl Denson, I appreciate live well composed jazz and it has been a while since I have seen a great jazz performance.

Due to the late start time, I did not expect a large audience turnout, but was even more surprised to find only thirty people inside when we arrived. After nearly and hour had passed, with no sign from the band or a crowd, I was just waiting for the word that the show had been cancelled. At about 3 am, people began arriving at a steady pace, and within fifteen minutes the band hit the stage.
With no formal announcement, the curtains were pulled back and Karl Denson's Tiny Universe began to play. The band was composed of himself on vocals/flute/sax/percussion, a guitar, a bassist, horns/harmonica, piano, and a drummer. They jammed out several lengthy songs back to back, with seemingly little effort. Their style was on the funky side, music was well layered and transitioned, highlighted by lyrics here and there. I loved the diversity in every song, each followed his trademarked groove, yet was completely different from the one before. It was amazing to see Karl’s true artistry while playing the flute or saxophone, and his ability to jump right in to soulful vocals following a winded solo.
As each song passed, more people filled the venue, the dancefloor became more crowded and the dancing was more intense. Karl Denson was still going strong, fueled by an audience that continued to grow. By 4am they had already completed nearly a full set, including: Everything, How Fine Is That, Bag of Funk, Groove On, Shake it Out, and Mighty Rebel. By now the early morning hours were staring to wear me thin. After leaving the venue, I was once again surprised to find there was a line outside the box office waiting for tickets.

For this concert, unfortunately I felt completely out of the loop. Many people wore feathered hats and at least 80% of his audience did not arrive until 4 am or later. If I had known, and arrived later, I am sure I would have stuck around to see his complete, two-set performance. In the days following the show, I explored his website and listened to his music, and was quite impressed with what I heard. Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe is highly talented and well composed. If you like jazz, classic funk, or even reggae, his music is right up your alley. Hopefully he will come back to Las Vegas, as I would like to give him another chance.

For a sample of his live performance, check out my video:

Friday, October 22, 2010

Suicidal Tendencies with (həd)p.e.

Once again I was fortunate enough to see a band that I never thought I would have the chance to see live. During their twenty year career, Suicidal Tendencies has defined west coast music with their raw thrash punk metal. At the age of ten, I fell in love with their “Still Cyco After All These Years” album, and remember my mom questioning my father over how I got this CD. Thankfully my love for punk/metal was not stifled, I continued to headbang in the kitchen after school, and expand my love of music. There is a special place in my heart for Suicidal Tendencies and I was ecstatic to see them live.

As a perfect compliment to Suicidal’s style, (həd)p.e. was the opening band. Each time I has seen them over the years, I was always impressed with their sound and heaviness. Not only were they more solid musically, but their sound had expanded further into reggae and hardcore. Tonight's performance was top notch for the band, full of energy with an equally responsive audience and mosh pit.
The only downside was Jared (vocals) halted their momentum with lengthy political opinions and theories, which grew weary on both the band and crowd. After wrapping it up, they were quick to regain the energy back and were supported by an impressive fan base, that knew all their lyrics. Hed PE would heavily tear it up with double bass, fast solos, and screaming vocals, then transition into a cover of Bob Marley’s One Love. They welcomed a guest vocalist, Las Vegas’ Big B and even spent time representing the posse by chanting “family.” Hed PE wasn’t quite what I remembered or expected, but they were heavy and overall I enjoyed their concert.

After a trip to get some merch, we talked several fans that were just as stoked to see Suicidal after all these years. There was a sense of camaraderie among the fans, especially since many hailed straight from the LBC (Long Beach-Compton). When Suicidal hit the stage, they wasted no time taking us back, opening with an extended version of You Can’t Bring Me Down. Instantly fans were shouting, throwing fists, and the big boys had started an intimidating mosh pit. Mike (vocals) ran up and down the stage, headbanging on either side then running back again, his energy and enthusiasm only fueled the crowd below.
Suicidal Tendencies never let up once, there was always a wicked solo going down on bass or lead guitar, all while pounding drums and rhythm guitar lead them along. This show was a real treat to many die-hard fans, as Mike mentioned "Alot of these songs we haven't played in 20 years." Tracks included: Institutionalized, Join The Army, Prisoner, War Inside My Head, Subliminal, Suicidal Maniac, (badass drum solo), Come Alive, Go Skate (Possessed to Skate), Widespread Bloodshed, I Saw Your Mommy, Waking The Dead, Cyco Vision, Pledge Alligence, and I Shot Reagan.
"There was punk rock there was metal and there was suicidal in the middle," another great quote from Mike. ST’s music was a pioneer in the 80s and even 90s, bringing home heavy punk rocked laced with anger that lit up the hearts of many fans. The band and each member showed no sign of wear for the years gone by, if nothing else they were amped to be playing again, and the audience was equally as grateful. I am still beaming from this show and it is not one I am soon to forget. If you love punk and metal, but you have not seen Suicidal Tendencies or even (həd)p.e., you don’t know what you’re missing!

You can watch Suicidal Tendencies' promotional video here

Sunday, October 10, 2010

TECH N9NE and E-40

Making his second stop this year at The House of Blues Las Vegas, Tech N9ne thrilled his fans by returning just four months later. Tech N9ne even offered super-fans the chance to purchase VIP Packages that came with merch and allowed you to hang with The Strange Family for three hours before showtime. (Totally worth it, as I am told) As he continues celebrating a decade as an independent rapper, now on his Independent Grind Tour, Tech N9ne is joined by his usual crew (Krizz Kaliko, Kutt Calhoun, Big Scoob) and the o.g. E-40. Las Vegas returned our love by selling out the venue. As I was already expecting a high energy performance, after looking upon the sea of fans and our drinks in hand, I knew this was going to get wild.

E-40 opened to an already packed venue, wasting no time getting fans hands up in the air. After only one song, the audience was already shaking and grooving up and down. Completing nearly an hour performance, E-40 sampled from several other rappers and performed many club favorites: U And That, Too Short, Snap Your Fingers, White Gurl, Two Step, and Tell Me When To Go. E-40 didn’t let up for a minute, keeping the floor a non-stop party while he was on stage. He certainly lived up to his long time rep.
As soon as the lights dropped, Tech N9ne stepped out front and center under one spotlight and proved to anyone that didn’t know, how he got his name. Unaccompanied he spit one of the longest, hard, fast, and sharp rhymes I had ever heard, perhaps quicker than a TEC-9 gun, throwing the crowd into a roaring applause. Similar to his June performance, Tech was often joined by his rap family, passing the flow from one to another with seamless accuracy. The momentum didn’t stop for a second as The Strange Family blasted through another two hour performance. Tracks included: Let’s Get Fucked Up, Come Gangsta, Bout Ta’ Bubble, Einetien, Sorry n Shit, O.G., Industry is Punks, Leave me Alone, Casribou Lou, KC Tea, Salue, and I’m a Playa. Once again, Tech N9ne, E-40, and their crew did not disappoint. 2,000 fans got loose to their unique brand of hip-hop, grinding, bouncing, and cheering from wall to wall. Las Vegas clearly loves Tech N9ne and always comes out to show their support. For those of you that don’t know, you need to get out there and “drop down, cuz here comes Tecca Nina!”

Check out my review of his June 1, 2010 performance here.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Atmosphere: To All My Friends

A Las Vegas local favorite, Atmosphere returns to The House of Blues with Blueprint, Grieves & Budo and DJ Rare Groove on the To All My Friends Tour. Atmosphere stops in Vegas at least once a year, for more years than I can count, and often takes time to stop at Zia Records beforehand for a meet and greet. I was fortunate enough to meet him in 2008 while promoting When Life Gives You Lemons, however I may be the last fan I know that has not seen one of his shows.

Perhaps the gods have it out for me, as once again I was held up from getting to Atmosphere because my car was still in the shop. After a mad rush to get down there, I was disappointed I had missed all the opening artists, but relieved I arrived just as Slug took the stage. The venue was muggy and packed with a sold out crowd. Slug’s setup included a pianist, bass player, and DJ Ant, providing the crisp blend of natural and electronic beats he is known for. I was quite impressed with his clean live flow and sound, some songs were arguably better live then their recorded versions.
Slug paused between every few songs to recite some positive attitudes and often stopping “to thank all my friends, I love you.” There is a humbling and real attitude that is not only present in his lyrics, but also in his what he projects, taking listeners to another level. The sold out room sang along with every song, waving their hands in unison. Atmosphere was so impressed with the love from his fans, despite the rooms sweltering conditions, he blasted through over twenty songs and an encore: Trying to Find a Balance, Shoulda Known, Guns and Cigarettes, Between the Lines, Hope, To All My Friends, Sunshine, Modern Man's Hustle, Freefallin', Puppets, The Waitress, Godlovesugly, Shrapnel, Scapegoat, Guarantees, Don't Ever Fucking Question That, Pour Me Another, Lovelife, Angelface, Always Coming Back Home to You. Encore: Not Another Day, Like Today, You, and The Best Day.

As an Atmosphere fan, I am lucky for having the well rounded experience of listening first, meeting second, and seeing third. It only allowed time for his music to root deep and keeping my interest level high. Slug is talented on the mic, an artist with words and emotions, and truly puts on a great performance. Atmosphere is a must see for any true hip hop lover.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


I first saw Ratatat live in December 2006, at the intimate but now closed Art Bar downtown. I stood only a few feet away from the band on their little stage, completely drenched in color from their projectors, and I still vividly remember their immense music traveling through my body. I have only seen a few bands that can produce a true feeling of euphoria with their music alone. After that show, I instantly became a huge fan and supporter of Ratatat. I have literally been bursting with excitement counting down the days to this show.

Opening tonight’s show at the House of Blues was Bobby Birdman and Dom. Although we missed Bobby Birdman due to the biggest box office line I have ever seen, I was happy to know so many people made a last minute decision to see Ratatat. We walked in with enough time to get a drink and get close to the stage when Dom came out.

As I was expecting similar instrumental groups to open the show, I was happily surprised with Dom’s grungy garage rock sound. The lead vocals were echoed with rough edges and produced ample sound as they completed most of their set as three guitarists and one drummer. Although I’m not quite sure how to describe their sound, it was old but new, think Sonic Youth. Dom had a good vibe, fresh sound, and put on an enjoyable show.

As the audience and anticipation grew, many of us up front started sharing Ratatat stories, only heightening our excitement. Looking across the stage, I noticed the quality and quantity of their music instruments had grown, and so had their visual equipment. As lights darkened, a roar of cheers filled the room, while Ratatat slowly brought up the lights and their synthesizers. Within minutes the stage was an eruption of light and sound. Both members hopped between several instruments, in front of a large projection screen of images from their videos, with two incredible holographic glass panes on either side of the stage. Just as I remembered, their music was overwhelming but also greatly enhanced by the visual elements.
Ratatat kept the crowd dancing and clapping throughout.their amazing set that included songs from every album: Bob Gandhi, Grape Juice City, Mandy, Mirando, Loud Pipes, Falcon Jab, Mahalo, Shempi, Neckbrace, Gettysberg (introduced as, “This song is about surfing.”), Party With Children, Wildcat, Drugs, Lex. After the chanting had diminished and it was unclear if they were going to play an encore, the crowd went wild when we heard, “I’ve been rappin’ for about seventeen years...” For the last two songs, Seventeen Years and Bare Feast, Ratatat and the fans gave all they had left.
As the House of Blues cleared, we were left bubbling with pure fascination of the incredible show we had just experienced. Many of us met up afterward and continued our Ratatat stories and the rush we felt after the show. Just as it was four years ago, Ratatat made a deep impression on their audience, spreading the bond of music through people, comparable to nothing else. True to my tweet after the show, “Ratatat is still one of the top 10 live bands I've ever seen.”

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Mike Posner

The September House of Blues Artist of the Month, Mike Posner, stopped in Las Vegas on Saturday night. I read the article and was impressed to learn he recorded his own album from his dorm room and got the word out online. A grass-root artist that worked his way up to major pop star and has the time for a meet and greet with his fans, truly deserves the adoration. I was anxious to hear his music and find out what a top 40 pop singer is like in concert.
Although we were tardy due to another full parking garage, we arrived just as the energy in the room was about to burst. Mike Posner was active across the stage, his vocals were crisp, and he was backed by a full band rather than just a DJ. Most of the audience appeared to be female superfans who cheered louder and louder after each song. He also kept the crowd moving, saying “Don’t be shy, this is not the time... Put your hands up!” The condensed crowd followed his every move, put their hands up and waved along with him.
Mike Posner mostly played songs from his debut album 31 Minutes To Takeoff, just released in August. Posner’s performance included a solo moment while he played piano, was joined by featured artist, Big Sean for his song Speed of Sound, and even included a costume change. I found myself really get into it during Dynamite (Taio Cruz cover) and his lively cover of Electric Light Orchestra’s Evil Woman. Singing for just over an hour, he treated his fans to a great show and also gave one encore. The setlist included (no particular order): Please Don't Go, Bow Chicka Wow Wow, Deja Vu, Please Don't Go, Gone In September, Save Your Goodbye, and Cooler Than Me.
As the venue cleared, I left with the impression that although he is a talented up and coming artist, but I think he still has some growing to do. Even though his vocals and presence were both great, his beats were generic and seemed rather similar. It is rough to say, but until he progresses toward the dance vibe his remixes have, I feel his music falls short. However, if a smooth male R&B vocalist is what you’re into, check out Mike Posner, he’s got what the ladies like. ;)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Apocalyptica with Dir En Grey

Quite honestly, I had never heard of Apocalyptica or Dir En Grey prior to the show announcement, but their names alone intrigued me. After doing a little research, I was so impressed, I could not wait to see this show. Dir En Grey is an extremely popular Japanese metal band and "Apocalyptica is a Finnish cello metal band from Helsinki" made famous doing Metallica covers. Both have over 10 years making music in a specifically unique metal niche. Not knowing what to expect I walked into The House of Blues anxious and looking forward to a one of a kind show.
Dir En Grey had a massive fan base, many of which were Japanese girls. As the curtains opened to a dim foggy stage, a shriek of screaming girls filled the room, as the lead singer (Kyo) taunted them with his moves. While amazed by the loud audience, Dir En Grey played their music even louder. During a few songs, I was surprised by how heavy and loud they were, reminding me of Norma Jean, largely bass and drum driven hardcore. Each member was very talented, the bassist played nearly upright and Kyo did a few a’capella screamo bits, truly a first for me. Image is a high priority to their performance, the singer was showcased on his own raised stage and the guitarist had a fan blowing his long hair. Although I didn't know what to think for a minute, their "look" and attitude made their set fun to watch and kept the girls screaming.
After an hour had passed and Dir En Grey was still going strong. Since I had never seen an opening act complete a full set, I became concerned that Apocalyptica may have cancelled. After their ninth song, Kyo sat Buddha-style, alone on his raised stage covered in blue light, and performed a several minute echoing scream that he pulled from within, entitled Inward Scream. Since I had never seen an opening act complete a full set, I became concerned that Apocalyptica may have canceled. As that was not the case, fans were treated to an immense setlist and with a few experimental transitions: Sa Bir, Red Soil, Agitated Screams of Maggots, Gaika, Chinmoku ga Nemuru Koro, Hageshisa To, Kono Mune No Naka De Karamitsuita Shekunetsu No Yami, Rotting Root, Vinushka, Shokubeni, Obscure, Inward Scream, Dozing Green, Reiketsu Nariseba, The Final, and Rasetsukoku. Encore: Inconvenient Ideal. (setlist courtesy of @trentskers)
After a prolonged break, I was surprised to find that much of the audience had left prior to Apocalyptica taking the stage. Apocalyptica wasted no time showing off their talent by opening with an intricate cello version of Metallica’s Wherever I May Roam, immediately followed by Sepultura’s Refuse/Resist. My guest and I were floored by how much sound their three acoustic cellos produced and how amazing the “guitar solos” sounded. Not only was their instrumental metal totally on point, but it was also as beautiful as a symphony.
Apocalyptica burned through an energetic performance of their music and numerous covers. Whether they were playing sweet melodies or jamming through a metal solo, they captured the audience’s adoration. Although most of the songs were completely cello and drums (no vocals), guest vocalist Tipe Johnson from Leningrad Cowboys, joined in on a few songs. The band interacted with the crowd between songs, and once mistakenly exclaiming, “Thank you Los Angeles!” The setlist included: Grace, At the Gates of Manala, End Of Me (w/ vocals), I'm Not Jesus (w/ vocals), Master of Puppets (Metallica cover), Beautiful, Sacra, Last Hope, Bring Them to Light, Seek & Destroy (Metallica cover), Inquisition Symphony (Sepultura cover), Life Burns! (w/ vocals) Encore: I Don't Care (w/ vocals) and an epic performance of the classic symphony The Hall of the Mountain King.
I came to this show with a blank slate and left with two exceptional masterpieces. After all the live music I have seen, both Dir En Grey and Apocalyptica put on incredible performances and showed me music/style like nothing I have previously experienced. If you have not yet experienced either of these bands and you love metal, it is a must.

Check out an acoustic performance Apocalyptica did on local radio station KOMP earlier that day.