Saturday, March 27, 2010

Bad Religion - 30th Anniversary Tour - March 26th & 27th, 2010

Bad Religion made a two-night stop at the House of Blues in Las Vegas, part of their 30th Anniversary Tour. This short tour is exclusive to the House of Blues in San Diego, Hollywood, Anaheim, and Las Vegas, back-to-back every night between March 17th and April 17th. These punk rock veterans have 14 albums under their belt and are using this tour to record a live CD, expected to drop later this summer. Needless to say, it was a privilege to be able to see both Friday and Saturday nights shows.
Friday night’s opening acts were Off with Their Heads and The Adolescents. Shortly after 6:30, Off with Their Heads came onstage in a rush, noted their bus broke down on the way from L.A. and they had just arrived. He also gave thanks to The Adolescents, who were generous enough to let them play their instruments. Off with Their Heads played a full set, relaxed and got into it about halfway through. They were a classic punk band, similar to Social Distortion.
The Adolescents put on a great show, filled with pure punk energy. Their young guitarist was jumping all over the stage and was such an amazingly clean guitar master, he was impressive to watch. Half through the set, The Adolescents went off into a punk jam session, which finally got the audience to ease up and let loose. The Adolescents were one of the first punk bands I was introduced to, and it was great to finally see them live.

Saturday’s show was opened by Save the Hero and T.S.O.L. (True Sounds of Liberty). Mandalay Bay also had John Mayor in the Events Center at the same time, so the whole place was slammed. I managed to get into the House of Blues just after T.S.O.L. took the stage. I was really excited to see T.S.O.L., I remember listening to them in my teenage years and just loving the dirty filthy punk rock they are known for. Their live show was awesome; fast, clean, and angry, speckled with vulgar comments from Jack Grisham (frontman). T.S.O.L. stayed true, kept the pit spinning at all times, and closed with everyone’s favorite, Code Blue.
On Bad Religion’s 30 day House of Blues Tour, The Adolescents, Guttermouth, T.S.O.L., The Vandals , Youth Brigade, and many more, opened at least one show for Bad Religion. Any long time punk fan understands I would give my left arm to see all these bands together in one show. I thought it was quite admirable for Bad Religion to share their stage night after night, with so many of the west-coast punk bands that have also been around for 30 years. While waiting for Bad Religion to take the stage, they displayed a slideshow of all their album covers, getting the crowd revved up. Bad Religion took the stage, kept great energy throughout and sounded amazing. Every song they played was clean and solid. The crowd was having a great time, we recognized, shouted, and fist-pumped to nearly every song.
Lead singer Greg Graffin announced there are two different setlist for each show, but “Friday’s setlist is much better, although I’m sure Saturday’s crowd might say otherwise.” True to his word, the setlist for either night was no disappointment; they played the best of their collection. Songs included Gems of Perfection, Them and Us, Flat Earth Society, Social Suicide, Punk Rock Song, Suffer, Before You Die, No Control, Dearly Beloved, Atheist Peace, We’re Only Gonna Die, Best For You, Fuck Armageddon, Generator, I Want to Conquer the World, and their new song The Resist Stance. They saved their radio classics, 21st Century Digital Boy, Infected, Los Angeles is Burning, and Sorrow, to close the set and for the encore each evening.
I thought Saturday night’s sold out show was better than Friday’s; there was more energy, less technical problems, a better audience and a better pit. Bad Religion really came through for their fans. Greg Graffin had joked about playing 30 songs for 30 years, but after the show was over, I was left wondering if that was really a joke, they played at least 20 tracks. Both were great shows, and many fans left the venue covered in sweat, buzzing about how epic the show was. Good news for anyone that missed the 30th Anniversary Tour, Bad Religion announced they will go on another tour later this year.
My only criticism goes to the bar, for inconsistent drinks; I received both 12oz and 8oz cups, for the same $9.00 price. I’m sorry, but when you are already gouging alcohol prices because it’s a venue, then I buy my second drink and it’s smaller than the first… wtf!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Paul Wall & Chamillionaire "In Love With My Money Tour"

When Paul Wall and Chamillionaire were announced to be playing a show at the House of Blues, I got quite excited. I have seen some hip-hop and freestyle shows before, but never a rap concert; I did not know what to expect. While in line to get my tickets, my friend noticed Paul Wall was just hanging out in front of the venue, signing autographs and taking pictures with fans. I must admit, I got a few butterflies. We talked with him for a minute, he signed our tickets, showed his grill and took a picture with us!
The venue was lightly crowded, their DJ was spinning and everyone was already having a good time. The announcer came out, introduced Paul Wall and Chamillionaire, but after a few minutes of an empty stage, apologized that it was going to be another 15 minutes or so. Paul Wall was still outside meeting with fans; I give mad props to any artist that makes themselves so accessible to their fans, even if it makes their show late.
Paul Wall and Chamillionaire came out together and did a non-stop 90+ minute set. Both rappers did their individual songs, songs together, old, new, mixtape and remix tracks. They were both tight, on-beat, and didn’t miss a line. Chamillionaire often stopped and talked to the audience, getting everyone to throw their hands in the air, jump up and down, or do whatever he tells them to; “I’m not afraid to stop the show.” He really kept the crowd moving, grooving, and bumping though every track. They flowed through songs with no effort: Won’t Let You Down, Chunk Up the Deuce, Hip Hop Police Frontin, Get Money Stay True, Break ‘Em Off, Good Morning, Body Rock, Fly as the Sky, Busy Body Do it for H Town, I’m Throwed, and Patron.
Midway through their show, they chose three people from the crowd to come on stage and rap for 16 bars. First chosen, went by the name Coldblooded, totally murdered it with a sick rhyme; had the whole audience shouting “Ohhh!” After the overwhelming response, Coldblooded handed Chamillionaire his demo tape, and Chamillionaire just laughed, “I can’t believe this guy just handed me his demo tape.” The show was filled with great moments like that; both Paul Wall and Chamillionaire had the audience waving goodbye to haters, doing the parrot dance, showing their grillz, and shaking their money-makers all evening. The DJ didn’t skip a beat, and just like freestyle events, every song ended with a sampled explosion sound. They continued their set with Know What I’m Talking About, Fly, remix of Party Like a Rockstar, King Kong, One Blood, Main Event, Drive Slow, Creepin (Solo), In Love Wit’ My Money, They Don’t Know, Sittin Sidewayz, Picture Perfect, Ridin,Grillz, They Don’t Know, and closed with another Mike Jones classic, Still Tippin’.
I may never understand the mind or interests of a rapper, candy cars, blinged out grillz, hoes and haters, but I do know Paul Wall and Chamillionaire are both great rappers who put on a great show. Both rappers made themselves available for more pictures and autographs with fans after the show. It was awesome meeting Paul Wall, amazing to see his grill shine from 30 yards, and great just shaking my booty for two hours. All in all, the show was even better than I expected, and we left the venue riding a high for sure.

Friday, March 19, 2010

New Found Glory with Saves the Day and Hellogoodbye

This Friday’s show was a pop punk line-up, New Found Glory with Saves The Day, Hellogoodbye, and Fireworks. I’ll be the first to admit melodic poppy punk is not my thing, but I have respect for all musicians and any band that has stuck together for a decade. I went in with an open-mind, ready to see a show and have a good time.

I arrived shortly after Hellogoodbye had taken the stage. I too quickly dismissed them as a Panic! / Vampire Weekend sound-alike, but after a few songs, I began to really get into the jazz pop retro sound they had going. It was deeper than pop, influenced by classic pop rock, songs were driven by jumping piano riffs, jazz drum and bass, rock guitars, and classic pop formatting. I was impressed; the audience however, was not. The crowd was still quite sparse and they hardly acknowledged Hellogoodbye’s performance.
Saves the Day came onstage to a slightly larger audience, but did not impress them any better. I would like to say I gave their music a fair chance, but their sound and levels were the worst I have ever heard at the House of Blues, making it impossible for me to even listen to their music. Even the girl standing next to me asked if the sound is always this bad. The vocals were so low they could barely be heard, the only thing you could hear behind the screeching guitar was a jumble of bass and drums. Saves the Day changed their instruments every few songs, but the sound never improved. During their last song, the singer of New Found Glory came out and sang along. Only then did the audience finally acknowledged the musicians onstage and the energy picked up.
This tour is dedicated to the 10 year anniversary of the release of their first album, New Found Glory. The entire stage set was made to look like their debut album; original pictures, logo, and they played their entire first album front to back. By the time New Found Glory took the stage, the House was full with anxious young fans. From the start of the first note, the crowd’s energy just exploded and by the looks of it, everyone in the House of Blues was a New Found Glory superfan. The fans hung on every word, sang along to every song, kept the beat going with hand claps, jumping up and down for nearly every song. Frontman, Jordan Pundik stopped a few times to talk about the creation of the album when they were in high school, and reflected on how far they have come. He thanked the fans for all their years of support, apologized for not stopping in Las Vegas on their last tour, then proceeded to play Vegas and Boy Crazy.
At about 9:30, the curtains went down, and when they opened a few minutes later, fans were treated to a newly designed set. From this point of the show onward, New Found Glory played their newer music. I found it quite ironic, considering the new stage was more punk-rock, (all black and red, with a large stenciled grenade) but their new music was less punk and more pop. I hung around for another 40 minutes or so, and decided to leave after All Downhill from Here. Although I am not a fan of NFG, even after seeing them live, I will give them credit for having one of the most dedicated and energetic fan base I have ever seen. I left with the impression that New Found Glory filled the gap left by AFI when they changed their music from punk to emo. They have a place in music, they have dedicated fans, and they have been at it for 10 years; curious to see where NFG, or the genre itself, will be 10 years from now.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Sevendust with Drowning Pool and Digital Summer

Friday night’s show was Sevendust with special guests Drowning Pool and Digital Summer. The first time I saw Sevendust, at the Huntridge I believe, I didn’t even have a driver license! I spent the day of the show, ripping my original late 90s Sevendust CDs (skips and all) to my computer, and reminisced on how much their music was a part of my life. A 6:30 show is difficult to make with a day job, so unfortunately I missed Digital Summer. Too bad though, I kept overhearing great reviews from chatter in the crowd; I will keep my eye out for them in the future.

When I opened the doors to the House of Blues, I was taken aback by the incredible volume of Drowning Pool; they had it cranked up! You could feel the thrashing guitars and bass through your shoes. The floor was packed end to end and there was a nice mosh circle going. Drowning Pool put on a great show, and closed with their unforgettable Bodies. I got to give it up to Drowning Pool, for moving past the loss of their signer in 2002, and another lost vocalist in 2005.
While the tired sweaty fans cleared the floor, I took the opportunity to get as close as I could. Glad I did because soon the lights flashed red and white, Sevendust ran up the stage and opened with Black. They opened heavy, fast, and strong. The volume, heavy guitars, and Lajon’s voice rattled through everyone. Sevendust’s setlist was filed with great tracks including: Praise, Face to Face, Denial, Home, Bitch, Enemy, Driven, and their latest single, Ugly. The energy was solid throughout. Sevendust not only kept the crowd head banging and slamming all evening, but they also shined through with a few special moments. About an hour into the show, Sevendust brought out a few stools, and played X-mas Day and Angel’s Son acoustic. They sounded great and the fans were much appreciative. After picking up the pace once again, they grooved from one of their songs right into Metallica’s Seek & Destroy. Just when I thought I couldn’t love it more, Seek & Destroy was blended into Pantera’s Walk. Two of the best old-school metal songs in my book; this was the antithesis of the show and a great concert moment for me.
Sevendust put on an ass-kicking show; they always have and they always will. They out did themselves once again; it was even better than the three I've caught over the last decade. It had been a while since I had seen an all out hardrock/metal show and I truly enjoyed it. As the smelly and sweaty crowd cleared the venue, we all knew our faces had been rocked off.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Twiztid with special guests Potluck and Drainage X

Ah Twiztid, every juggalo and juggalette’s favorite horrorcore face-painted duo. Although I am not a fan, I figured they deserved a chance and it may be a great show. So I loosened up and had a few drinks before heading over to the House of Blues box office. No ropes, no merch, no nothing… I quickly realized the show had been cancelled.

Twiztid updated their twitter (tweetmesohard) at 7 am, "We sincerlely apologize for this cancellation and please rest assured that we are doing our absolute best to resehedule this event." Somehow that information did not get translated over the House of Blues or any other event calendar. As of 4pm, the last time I checked, the show was still on.

Although I wasn’t terribly broken hearted, like so many of the painted up juggalos around me, the lack of notice or reason is truly shameful. I am a fan, I understand how crushing it is when a band cancels a show you have been anxiously awaiting, but without good reason or prompt remedy, I cannot respect or support that. Thus ends my open-mind toward Twiztid. Fail!