Nevermind The Posers

See ya in the pit.

From last year…Maximo Park w/ Zambri and Stagnant Pools @ World Café Live (9/12/12) January 25, 2013

Filed under: Concert Reviews,From the past... — NVMP @ 9:32 AM
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English alternative Brit-poppers Maximo Park descended on Philadelphia, bringing their style of gruff, synth laced pop-punk to the legendary World Café Live for the next stop on their US tour in support of their latest release The National Health.

The evening started out with Indiana based Stagnant Pools, charged with attempting to set the pace of the night.  However, it’s a tough job to prime up a crowd with their shoegazer/punk style of space rock.  Each of the songs played gave not too subtle vibes from older bands (and probable influences) such as the Jesus and Mary Chain or Failure, where any one of the tunes would have sounded right at home within their sets.  Although they were a good band aesthetically, it was a bit difficult to connect with the music/lyrics when you could understand them.  Not bad, but definitely a poor choice to open up for a more energetic band such as Maximo Park

The next band was Zambri and was sonically a better choice for an opening act, with their heavily atmospheric blend of what could only be described as pop-tinged new wave/experimental rock engulfing the stage like a mist.  It’s rare that bands with Zambri’s sonic complexity are good live, as the singer(s) and the band are often unable to stay on the same page.  Thankfully, this was not the case with Zambri.  The slightly rough, yet powerful dual vocals of sister singers Cristi Jo and Jessica went wonderfully hand in hand with floating electronics flowing through each song.  Cuts like the darkly menacing “All You Maybes,” the robotic oddity of “Carry” and the sharp static beat of “ICBYS” are the best examples of their magic, not to mention being the highlights of their set.  Being something of an electronic purist, the only issue with the set was that it felt like there was something lost in the translation from studio to live…something which happens often in the cases of bands using heavy electronics.  Although they were fantastic live, the intense textures and percussive smashes that drive many of their songs simply weren’t as attention grabbing.  That blame can be centered mainly on the house board mixer, who arguably might not have much experience with a band using such a staggeringly complex array of lush textures.  They are a fantastic band live but ultimately, a lot of their sonic personality was lost in the mix.

This brings us to the headliners, Maximo Park.  Although their music is much more fun and upbeat, (they sound something like an anti-Bloc Party) it wasn’t much easier to the get into their songs than it was to get in Stagnant Pools an hour earlier.  As is often the case with bands that have more Brit-pop leanings, you either like it or you don’t.  Which is not to say that they are a terrible act, in fact the highly melodic pop of “Going Missing” and the manically catchy and danceable “National Health” speaks largely to the contrary.  It was obvious that the audience members were rocking out and having the time of their lives, it was just a bit hard to understand why.  The set list never seemed to achieve the pacing that would completely grab hold of your attention and hook the melodies into the brain.  For every dance track like the synth-led pleaser “Hip and Lips,” came subtler, more mellow rock songs like “The Coast is Always Changing” and “Take Me Home” (described as a peachy kind of lust for the 16+ by the singer), which knocked their momentum a bit off-balance.  However, they did manage to end on a high note, bringing the set to a close with the rousing “Apply Some Pressure.”  Not a great showing from MP, but they are definitely worth giving a second look to in the near future.

– Mark B.

 

Midge Ure of Ultravox @ World Cafe Live, January 10, 2013 January 20, 2013

Review by Mark B.

Since the 1970’s Midge Ure has been mucking about the music scene in the UK, dabbling in everything from pop to glam rock, punk and eventually hitting his nitch in the new wave scene.  He hit the peaks of success after joining established band Ultravox, where he swiftly handled their transition from experimental electronics to a more commercially appealing new wave sound.  Taking them as far as any band could go, he branched off to more success by launching a popular solo career (mainly in the UK) that carried him well into the 90’s.  With a rumored Ultravox world tour gaining momentum this year, it’s only fitting that Midge Ure help to lay the groundwork for such a reunion with a visit to the US for a solo tour, making a stop at one of the greatest music venues around, World Cafe Live.

P1040125

Right the Stars

Opening the night on a low-key note was Los Angeles, California’s Right the Stars, a band described by their website as “Paul Simon meets Keane backstage at a Phoenix concert.”  The description couldn’t have been more accurate, as they delivered a slightly restless and uneven set.  It felt like a rotation between the time signatures that the three previously referenced acts often work within.  Slow and sleepy tunes worthy of Paul Simon such as “Train to Glasgow,” paired up with the gentler pop rock of Keane in choices like “Give It All,” meeting at the Phoenix concert in tunes like “Best Days of Our Lives” and “We Got It All.”  And yet, even though it was a bit hard to get into, the set stayed strangely cohesive.  They were definitely a talented band that played a tight set, just one that is not really my style.

Greeting the audience in a smartly tailored suit and an adoring smile, Midge Ure coolly slid up to the mic and made himself at home.  With Right the Stars providing fantastic double duty as his backing band, Ure launched into the spirited Celtic-laced “I See Hope in the Morning Light” from his solo album Pure.  The evening provided a well layered mix of the expected, popular Ultravox tracks including a wildly energetic version of “Love’s Great Adventure,” a guitar heavy rendition of “One Small Day,” which played along his more sugary solo cuts such as “Dear God” and “Answers to Nothing” evenly balanced with a surprise cover of Tom Rush’s “No Regrets.”

P1040193One of the more notable moments of the night occurred relatively early on.  As Ure was having the usual musician’s banter with the crowd, he chose to embrace a moment of honesty about his vocals.  For the majority of his career, Ure was well-known for his vocal strength, delivering consistently passionate performances that ventured into the higher registers with ease.  However, 20-plus years of performing can do a lot of damage to vocal chords, even in the best of singers.  There aren’t many artists that can humorously address a slightly diminishing vocal capacity, but thankfully Midge was one of them.  As he stated, when one gets older it becomes harder to hit certain pitches, “so if you see tears rolling down my face at times, then you know why.”  Although it drew a lot of laughs, there wasn’t much of a reason to warn the crowd, although it was an obvious preemptive strike on his part.

Over the course of the evening, he did visibly stain on a few key Ultravox and solo hits such as “Dancing With Tears in My Eyes,” “Vienna” and “If I Was,” songs that in the past relied heavily on his seamless ability to sing lower notes which quickly swung into the highs.  But it didn’t really matter, as his 59-year-old voice still carried enough power and enthusiasm to carry the music well past the tears of struggle he warned of earlier in the evening.  In fact, his grittier voice added an unexpected depth to many of his set choices, in particular 1982’s “Fade to Grey” (written as part of Visage).  It added a more soulful atmosphere to what once was a robotic minimal new wave tune.

When it came time for an encore, Ure chose to close the show on a somewhat unexpected note by playing an acoustic version of his ultra-cheesy 1984 Live Aid composition “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”  Thankfully, the paired down cover lost all of its shiny 80s luster and became a more heartfelt, personal tune.  It was a song that he basically had to play.P1040149

 

Adam Ant and The Good, The Mad And The Lovely Posse at Best Buy Theater, NYC on October 6th November 17, 2012

Whatever happened to Adam Ant?  Unless you paid attention to the news (mostly in the UK press) where fans could hear of the public antics related to Adam Ant’s mental health issues, one wouldn’t be able to answer.  For many on this side of the pond, not much has been heard from him since his 1982 hit “Goody Two Shoes,” which spawned a music video that afforded him the massive staying power of a place in American pop culture.  So it was a welcome shock when Adam Ant announced plans for his first U.S. tour in 16 years with his new band The Good, The Mad And The Lovely Posse, leading up to the release of his newest album in the early part of 2013.  One postponement and several months later, he finally arrived at the Best Buy Theater in New York to bring the new romantic era back to fans, if only for a night.

As the first notes of “Plastic Surgery” echoed through the halls, Adam took the stage to a thunderous reception from the ravenously eager audience, as they instantly reverted back to their teens for the duration of the evening.  Admittedly, some might call the sight of a 57-year-old man jumping around on stage in a buccaneer outfit singing punk grounded new romantic-era tunes silly.  I would simply shrug and call it Adam Ant, and a truly awesome sight at that.  What a show he put on, launching through two hours and nearly 30 songs with the energy of his younger days, while easily remaining in perfect harmony with his equally talented backing band.  As he propelled from “Surgery” immediately into “Dog Eat Dog,” the crowd became electrified even further, with the band trampling through nearly ten songs before stopping to banter with the audience.

There were some expected signs of wear and tear in his voice throughout the show, with a few off-key moments and slightly diminished vocal capacity popping up along the way (the chorus of “Beat My Guest” comes to mind.) But he rolled with the minor hitches, using his seemingly limitless in leading the eager crowd through a succession of older hits like “Stand and Deliver” and “Kings of the Wild Frontier” and obscurities such as “Deutscher Girls”, while thankfully managing to avoid even skimming nostalgia.  The real highlight of the evening came from the unveiling of “Vince Taylor” from his upcoming album Adam Ant Is the Blueblack Hussar in Marrying the Gunner’s Daughter, a song which managed to unveil a more polished sound while allowing fond memories of album’s past to seep in. No fans lost there.

In fact, Adam Ant’s renewed enthusiasm for playing out is what made his set a vastly different experience than one would expect, if a person’s only experience with his music being from MTV videos or albums.  What sounded like new romantic/new wave-pop (an obvious base of punk ethics buried beneath catchy hooks and lighter lyrics) in past times has now evolved into a rougher, raw sound.  He uses no noticeable backing tracks or synthesizers and kept the engineer-triggered effects to a minimum, which breathed new life into his songs.  The cheesy horns dominant through “Goody Two Shoes” were eliminated, instead driven by a more aggressive drumbeat and the sappy pop of “Wonderful” melted and became more of a Rock ballad.

Finishing on the high notes of a fantastic surprise cover of T. Rex’s “Get It On” and old favorite “Physical (You’re So)” brought the evening to a well deserved close.  Welcome back, Adam Ant.

-Mark B.

Set List

Plastic Surgery

Dog Eat Dog

Beat My Guest

Kick

Cartrouble

Ants Invasion

Deutscher Girls

Stand and Deliver

Room at the Top

Kings of the Wild Frontier

Wonderful

Whip in My Valise

Vince Taylor

Strip

Desperate but Not Serious

Cleopatra

Never Trust a Man (With Egg on His Face)

Zerox

Antmusic

Goody Two Shoes

Vive Le Rock

Christian D’or

Lady/Fall In

-Encore-

Fat Fun

Red Scab

Get It On

(T. Rex cover)

Prince Charming

Physical (You’re So)

 

The Offspring Host Heavy-Hitters Dead Sara and Neon Trees on the Jersey Shore October 1, 2012

Asbury Park September 9, 2012. The Stone Pony Summer Stage

Review by Angela Blasi

As the summer tapers to a close The Offspring settle into a night of rock n’ roll to light up our own historic Asbury Park.   Being a Sunday show, doors opened at 5pm with a special indoor performance by Old Bridge Twp locals, The Stolen.  A pop punk quintet just getting their feet wet, they were surprisingly easy to listen to.  Still a little awkward on stage with a fan base composed of primarily family and friends, they proved confident, appreciative and best of all, catchy.  You can give them a listen here.

First up on the summer stage we have Dead Sara, the Los Angeles based, female-fronted quartet catching fire as they tour in support of their self titled, debut album.  Though they were only given 30 minutes on stage, vocalist Emily Armstrong, bassist Chris Null, lead guitarist Siouxsie Medley, and drummer Sean Friday made every minute count.  Stepping to their respectful places with a quiet, seamless presence, they broke the silence with the steady groove of Medley’s distorted guitar on “Whispers & Ashes.”  After a pleasant introduction, the rock got underway with “Test on my Patience.”  There is one thing I have to tell you about singer Emily Armstrong- she does not merely sing.  Instead, she opens her mouth and lets the music pour out with unabashed passion.  A voice that has been unparalleled in recent time, or at least in the twenty something years I’ve listened, she is the physical embodiment of the thumping bass drum and the richness of bass guitar.   Music has been devoid of stellar vocalists who understand the instrumentation of the voice for far too long.  I loved “Lemon Scent” – matching vocal melody to the squealing allure of Medley’s instrument, yet gravely growls in all the right places.

I had the opportunity to interview Dead Sara and learn more about their music. From their love of the road to the creative process, Dead Sara is all about doing what feels right in order to create pure rock n’ roll as they see fit; casting off the music industry machine in their early trials and distributing their music via their own label to maintaining complete creative control over their art.  I hope they realize how much faith they have restored in rock n’ roll fans as they spread their refreshingly raw sound across the nation.  Ironically enough their fame is almost accidental, as a radio disc jockey discovered the hit single “Weatherman” and simply started playing the powerhouse of a song out of enjoyment.  A fitting beginning for a band that exudes humble passion, displaying modesty and compelling honesty in personality and musicianship.  When I asked Armstrong where exactly a voice like that comes from, she simply looked me in the eye, laughed a little and replied, “I wish I knew.”  But please, do not underestimate the rhythm section of this band.  Songs like “Weatherman” are accented poignantly with rolling snare and punchy bass lines that resonate inside your chest.   Behind a screaming front woman is a mess of arms, hair and sticks thrashing away like a rock God.   Interestingly enough, Dead Sara only took form into the current line up a few short years ago, as Medley and Armstrong went through a few drummers and bassists before recruiting Friday and Null.   It seems to have been a wise decision, as the group explains their creative process as a natural, flowing entity conceived in the meddling of the studio and fostered by the eagerness and excitement of finding a riff and expanding on it.

      

Though quiet on stage, backstage finds them relaxed and mellow, more like a group of old friends than rock stars who seemed very nonchalant about the being interviewed endlessly thing.  Fresh off of Van’s Warped Tour (where they had to cancel the last leg of the tour due to Medley’s fractured ribs) and bouncing around the U.S., fans can catch them on the bill for ShipRocked 2012 along with heavy hitters Godsmack and Korn.  Keep an eye on this band; before you know it they’ll be headlining major tours and selling out venues.  I wish them well in their endeavors and hope they find rising fame kind.

Second to the stage representing the alternative genre with their energetic, bouncy vibe and electrified music was Neon Trees.  Personally, I was only familiar with their radio singles, “Animal” and “Everybody Talks.”  However, I was impressed with the vocal clarity, as lead singer Tyler Glenn is just as clean and crisp as he appears on studio recordings, often bending his voice into interesting pitches while adding colorful tones.  Neon Trees offered a slightly longer set, featuring an electric light display that matched their fun sound.  I was pleasantly surprised as the band played as tight as a drum and executed it with flawless presentation.  Glenn also offered witty banter between songs, keeping the crowd entertained on multiple fronts.  Something of a contrast to the grit of the previous set, the audience slipped into the bouncing tunes with ease.  They even launched into a cover of “State Trooper.”  And what is a summer show in Asbury Park without Bruce Springsteen?  Overall, the band that has been called an evolutionary step in the glam rock scene proves this is no misnomer.

Which leads us to our main event, The Offspring.  Having been a fan since childhood, this was my first time seeing the group live.   Let me preface by first saying I have heard for many years that Dexter Holland cannot hit certain recorded notes live.  That being said, I took this as an opportunity to see for myself.

Regardless of that, they played an amazing 19 song set complete with two encores.   The Offspring opened with “Hurting As One,” a track off their latest album Days Go By.  Though the new album clearly had its place in their set list, performing the current single “Days Go By” early in the night, they also played every song I wanted to hear.  When the bass line to “Bad Habit” kicked in, older fans in the crowd began to cheer.  Singing along, loud and proud, the group paused just before launching into a cadre of swear words energetically backed by Noodles distorted guitar.  Another highlight was the slow piano introduction of “Gone Away.”  As it crept to a head, Dead Sara’s own Emily Armstrong took to the stage once more to join Dexter on the chorus, adding an even more haunting effect to the overall emotion of the song.  As for the vocals mentioned earlier, I am sad to report that the rumors were true.  During one moment of the night when the main vocals fell out of rhythm for a brief second, I was able to hear a pre-recorded audio track played underneath.  I was a little disappointed when I realized Dexter was either shortening the length of, or unable to hold out, all the characteristic long phrases heard so often on their records.  However I am a forgiving fan, dismissing his vocal shortcomings and simply singing even louder, because after all they still put on one hell of a show.  The music rocked, the energy was buzzing and the crowd was an eclectic bunch of punk rockers and rock n’ rollers (that could have used a lesson in proper moshing/skanking).

Honestly, this is probably the most fun I’ve had at a concert in a long time.  I was thoroughly engaged and entertained from start to finish and highly recommend catching this specific line up before the last date of the tour. You won’t regret it, even if it takes a road trip.

 

Dead Can Dance at Beacon Theatre (Night 2) August 30, 2012 September 29, 2012

Filed under: Concert Reviews — NVMP @ 12:47 AM
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Review by: Mark B.

After 16 years of album-related silence and 7 years passed since their last reunion tour, Dead Can Dance finally took the stage on Thursday night, for the second night of their two Beacon Theater shows. Amidst an air of beaming wonder and eager bliss from the mass of dedicated fans, DCD finally ventured out from the shadows and back on the road in support of their newest album Anastasis, their first album of original material since 1996’s World music heavy Spiritchaser.

Taking the stage to radiating waves of cheers and screams from the eagerly awaiting crowd, the duo of Brendan Perry and Lisa Gerrard (who was dressed in a long black dress and flowing golden cape, looking much like a physical representation of one of their songs) merely smiled in quiet acknowledgment and took their places. Mr. Perry opened the show with “Children of the Sun,” the first track off of Anastasis. A grand and airy march-like tune, the song gave off vibes of a return to a sound that developed at the height of their career, where Medieval chants merged with an increasing World music flavor. The tune set the pace for the rest of the show; a slow and hypnotic journey into the realm of the group’s spacious, more pensive songs led by a complete performance of the new album interwoven through older selections, including a fitting cover of an 800 year old song from Spain and an older Russian folk song, both performed by Perry.

There was some disappointment that none of the older song selections included anything before their 1993 album Into the Labyrinth (one would assume at least one or two of these amazing tracks would make the encores, they didn’t). But what DCD lacked in older material, they more than made up for in true musical cohesiveness. It was a privilege to experience a band that took the effort to create a set that tonally and musically gelled together. They politely disregarded songs the audience would expect to hear, allowing them to transport the audience from their seats at the Beacon theater into the surreal and wondrous world formed between the musical minds of Brendan Perry and Lisa Gerrard.

Although Mr. Perry’s performance felt like the guiding force of the evening, especially since he had really determined the direction of the show with his opening song, both members managed to strike a perfect balance between his mystic, philosophical chants and her heavenly, tonal non-lyrics. Lisa Gerrard’s songs especially took on an other-worldly quality, almost making her the subtle star of the evening. On Cd’s or records her vocals seemed to carry an air of overly artsy nonsense where live her voice had the space to roll over the crowd and up to the highest points of the ceiling. From the moment the spotlight illuminated her as she started her first song, the flow of her self-styled lyrics seemed to pull the show into another realm.

The wondrous balance thankfully lasted through 3 encores, with Brendan Perry taking the lion’s share of the tunes. Lisa Gerrard took the final encore of the evening, ending with the folk song “The Rising of the Moon,” as she released each note with a tenderness that allowed each member of the audience to absorb every note and conjured syllable that slipped from her tongue to the open air.

It was a truly marvelous evening with one of the world’s most incredible acts, one that won’t be forgotten anytime soon… at least until the next time they decide to tour.

 

 

BT: Laptop Symphony Live @ Mixx, Atlantic City, NJ on 8/26/12 September 10, 2012

Filed under: Concert Reviews — NVMP @ 8:36 PM
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Review Mark B.

In all the years spent going to clubs, concerts and festivals, I can’t recall many times that I have been over-elated or rabidly eager to hit the event as much as when I go to see BT.  Whether a simple DJ mix, live performance (meaning instruments, synthesizers, etc.) or laptop symphony, it’s always a great pleasure to see the live works of the great Brian Transeau.  So it was an extraordinarily rare treat when he finally found the time to make an exceedingly rare appearance within the tri-state area at Mixx night club in Atlantic City, NJ on a Sunday night of all nights.

Mixx itself is a smaller, cramped club with a powerful sound system that can be found dead center in the Borgata hotel.  Although everything in the casino literally revolves around it, the club somehow gives off an anonymous, almost exclusive feel so any guest will feel slightly special walking up the ramp to get inside, at least until you order your $8 beer.  I have read about how it is one of the best nightclubs in Atlantic City, with two floors of dance madness.  Unfortunately the second floor seemed to be off-limits for the evening, as all of us were relegated to the first floor.

The night was kicked off by DJ Paul Castro, spinning the expected mix of remixed top 40 cuts and other popular dance floor hits.  Although he rolled out a decent set, he seemed to be slightly off his game that night, as his mixing and transitions weren’t exactly the smoothest (not that any of the slowly trickling in crowd noticed.)  That being said, he certainly did a decent job of getting the non-responsive crowd closer to the dance floor than the bar over the next two hours.

Slightly after 1am BT magically appeared in the DJ booth, like being beamed in by the same extraterrestrials who supply him with his highly advanced array of musical equipment.  The crowd had hit its peak by then, which was smaller than one would assume for someone on the level of BT.  Then again, it could be considered a massive crowd for a Sunday night, and a fairly fun one at that.  Following the lead of his newly released first Laptop Symphony mix album, he led-off with his club hit collaboration with Adam K. “Tomahawk, ” a tune that quietly draws the listener in by slowly swelling into a glitched out dance assault, which instantly rocked the dance floor as it faded in.  And he would lead the receptive audience on a similar musical trajectory through the complex depths of his Laptop Symphony for the rest of the evening, constantly throwing up his hands at the crescendos of each song, dancing to the parts of the music the crowd barely reacted to and throwing up his hands in pure sonic bliss.  BT is a man who not just visibly enjoys what he does, but seems to crawl inside Ableton Live before a witnessing crowd and kick back during each performance.

And suddenly just 20 minutes after 2am, after throwing a prayer-handed bow to the audience, he was gone as instantly as he had arrived with Paul Castro picking up the slack to bring tonight home.  It was a set that was far too short (barely an hour and twenty minutes,) but one that brought me to another solar system and made me dance while I was there; I am grateful for that. Come back soon Mr. BT.

 

Orion Music & More Festival + 2 Weeks…but the Memory Remains! July 4, 2012

By: Dave “The Klone” Maresca

Where once man looked to the sky and ascribed names to the constellations, one name in particular holds more meaning than could be imagined for Metallica fans.  “Orion,” the 8 minute, 27 second instrumental on arguably Metallica’s masterpiece album Master of Puppets, now lends its namesake to the band’s foray into the music festival world.  On June 23rd, 2012 Bader Field in Atlantic City, New Jersey became a historical landmark for fans of the heavy metal Gods, as it hosted the first annual Orion Music & More Festival (www.orionmusicandmore.com).

Now, I would be remiss if I didn’t get my disclaimer out of the way.  Over the years, I’ve lost some love for the music festival as an event, or venue to catch one of my favorite bands.  Often the size and scope are so mind-numbingly overwhelming that just figuring out where and when the band you want to see is playing is a challenge.  Once you get a handle on the schedule and layout of the event, learning all the routes to the elusive 2nd, 3rd and sometimes 4th  and even 5th stages, should you be looking to catch more than one particular band often you’ll find you must make a few Sophie’s choices through the day, as without fail two of your favorites will be playing at overlapping time-slots.  Once you throw additional acts into the mix (like skateboarding ramps, art show exhibits, etc.), it officially hits capacity.  Get your gear, strap in, and start beating feet.  Stay hydrated and keep moving.

For the die-hard music fan and the loyal followers of rock icons, the music festival is a coveted experience, a day on the battlefield, followed by a night that will change you forever.  When attending the Orion Music & More Festival, this is the grandest of understatements.  Metallica, true to form, has redefined the music festival experience and for this former lover of the music festival, it was a welcome surprise; it may have rekindled a dying flame for festivals in general for me.  Why I expected any less from Metallica is beyond me, and I gladly take this opportunity to apologize…by gushing over how sick this event actually was.

Seemingly through simple things like logic (having the time-slots for the acts across four stages work with each other, and not against each other), clear communications from the event organizers (giant screens that constantly rotated between the event schedule, stage line-ups, and event information), or the layout of the event itself (from the center of the field, you could hear/see all 4 stages), this was a festival to make all other festivals bow down.  In addition to enjoying the wide variety of offerings from the concession stands, that included vegan and Asian food, as well as the “& More” acts that comprised the festival, I was able to catch Cage The Elephant play their set on the Fuel Stage, and then have time to get an awesome spot to catch a legendary set by Suicidal Tendencies on the Damage Inc. stage.  Each act on the four stages got introduced to the rabid fans by one of the four horsemen themselves, and Rob Trujillo stuck around to rock-out on four songs with his old “Institutionalized” friends.  It was amazing.

As impressive and extensive as the line-up of bands for this festival is, ultimately this entire event is about one band…METALLICA.  I attended the first day of this two-day extravaganza, which promised that the living legends would be playing the Ride The Lightning album in its entirety, the following night would feature them playing The Black Album in its entirety.  (How you call a festival “Orion” and NOT play Master of Puppets is really surprising, but let’s hope that’s in store for us at the second annual Orion Festival.)  The big question on everyone’s mind as they pushed forward, fighting for purchase on the precious real-estate in front of the stage, “are they really going to play the entire line-up of their epic sophomore album?  Including ‘Escape’?”  They did.  History was witnessed.

Hands down, Metallica is the best live show ever!  Not only are they true professionals, and sound even better live than they do on their studio albums, but their presence and passion are even larger than life than the massive screens that make the stage a constantly erupting volcano, light and sound that rattles the ground down to the mantle of the Earth.  The sense of awe inspired was palpable in the air hovering above the crowd, and audible in the cacophony of voices that echo every lyric that escaped James Hetfield’s lips.  This night was more than just a Metallica performance.  This was something different, something special.

This wasn’t my first rodeo by any means, but it was the first time I felt completely encompassed by the moment of being there and hearing the music I’ve grown up with and been living with as part of the soundtrack of my life being performed live, and performed perfectly.  The entire night I kept thinking, “I feel like I’m in the audience of the ‘Live Sh!t: Binge & Purge’ taping,” that’s how crisp and classic the ‘tallica boys were sounding as they rocked New Jersey.  With every chord that followed their opening salvo of “Hit The Lights,” “Master of Puppets” and “The Four Horsemen,” the anticipation for how they would begin to fulfill their promise of Ride The Lightning grew.  After another two songs, “Sad But True” and “Hell and Back” (a head scratcher for most in the audience, but bad ass nonetheless), we got our answer.

Following an introductory video featuring interview footage of all of the original line-up of the band, including the late Cliff Burton, the first tones of “Call of Ktulu” began as blue lightning illuminated photos of the group floating in a void of bluish clouds on the giant stage screens.  A moment and flash of stage lights later, the live band was continuing the epic instrumental that closes the classic album, without missing a beat.  From that point on, it was a surreal night that felt like a walk through a lucid dream.  There were instant bonds with those directly around us as we chanted song after song, and all screamed in childish giddiness as we witnessed “Escape” live for the first time ever.  It was a night with that sort of kismet feeling, like years of fandom has led to this night, and that’s exactly as it should be.

The first-nighters were treated to some songs off of The Black Album as well, which only added a more complete feeling to a night already epic in proportion.  If there’s ever been a group to make being larger than life so effortless and make us all feel special for being there with them for the magic, it’s Metallica.  Any who would dare to want to inherit that mantle, the road is far and wide to follow in the footsteps of these Leper Messiahs.

I could complain about the ticket prices these days, and how on the heels of The Big 4our tour, this seems a bit money-grabbish, but these are tough economic times, and it’s easy to let that affect how we see things that we grew up loving more than a casual fan would as luxuries.  Metallica and their world have been a part of my life and my world for over two decades, so hell yeah am I buying the Blu-Ray of this show, and hell yeah am I going to be at Orion Festival ’13 (whether my girlfriend wins the tickets on the radio for us, or not).

P.S.  If I could take this opportunity to beg for next year’s album choices, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE do Master of Puppets and …And Justice For All.

Metallica Set list:
Orion Festival – June 23, 2012 (Ride The Lightning)

The Ecstasy of The Gold (Ennio Morricone)

1.   Hit The Lights

2.   Master of Puppets

3.   The Four Horsemen

4.   Sad But True

(Bass Solo)

5.   Hell and Back

      Ride The Lightning (Video)

6.   Call of Ktulu

7.   Creeping Death

(Frayed Edges of Sanity Jam)

8.   Escape (WORLD PREMIERE)

9.   Trapped Under Ice

10. Fade To Black

11. For Whom The Bell Tolls

12. Ride The Lightning

13. Fight Fire With Fire

14. Nothing Else Matters

15. Enter Sandman

Encore:

16. Battery

17. One

18. Seek & Destroy

Suicidal Tendencies Set list:
Orion Festival – June 23, 2012
 

1.    You Can’t Bring Me Down

2.    Institutionalized

3.    Freedumb

4.    War Inside My Head

5.    Subliminal

6.    Possessed To Skate

7.    Cyco Vision

8.    These Freaks Are Here To Party (Infectious Grooves Cover)

(w/ Robert Trujillo)

9.    Turtle Wax (Infectious Grooves Cover)

(w/ Robert Trujillo)

10.  Punk It Up (Infectious Grooves Cover)

(w/ Robert Trujillo)

11.  Violent & Funky (Infectious Grooves Cover)

(w/ Robert Trujillo)

12.  Therapy (Infectious Grooves Cover)

(w/ Robert Trujillo)

13.  Pledge Your Allegiance

 

The Beer Burglars, DIY Punk Rock At Its Finest April 25, 2012

Filed under: Concert Reviews,Music You've Been Missing — NVMP @ 7:46 PM

Show Review by Angela Blasi

March 30th, 2012 at Seven Days Bar in Union Beach, NJ

Ride bikes, drink beer, get awesome.  That’s the running motto of hardcore punk band The Beer Burglars.  I had the pleasure of watching this group perform at the Seven Days Bar in Union Beach, New Jersey a few weeks ago.  I had no idea what to expect, except lots of songs about beer.  I have to tell you, no truer a statement has been uttered.  Releasing their debut album entitled The Punks , the band maintains its identity and refuses to play large-scale venues.  Ready to play anywhere, anytime, the bands persona is confident and carefree.  But does this translate on a stage?  Absolutely.  The night I saw the Beer Burglars, lead singer Steel English donned a full face mask that was part skull part ski mask and was a perfect replica of Satan meets V for Vendetta.  Although I never saw his face, he kept me entertained all night long with hardcore vocals, screaming incessantly about beer as he shot gunned cans and provided loyal fans with refreshment.  Now, I didn’t think it was possible to come up with so many songs about beer let alone like that many songs about the same topic, but it is and I did.  I think my favorite track of the night was “Beeranator;” a short but intense track where the only word I could make out was “Beerinator!” but I thought it was great regardless.  Besides the brutal in-your-face vocals with a sense of humor, I really loved the way guitarist Henry Scardaville lent his energy to the stage.  Fun to watch, he added the right amount of intensity and personality to his nimble technique and colorful vocals.  Granted, the vocals were a lot of screaming but it wasn’t annoying or overdone.  Rounding out the rhythm section was Kat Scardaville pounding away with effortless precision on drums and Hurricane Luke holding it down, locking in with the fat sounds that filled out the musical line up.

Overall I like what the Beer Burglars have started here.  No matter what show you go to, you’re bound to have a good time regardless of how many songs you may or may not know.  Just crack open your favorite beer, raise it to the sky and scream along like any of the regulars.  Everyone’s invited.


 

Streetlight Manifesto and Reel Big Fish December 16, 2011

Review by Jake Davis

Rodeo Ruby Love

When buying tickets to a show with either Streetlight Manifesto or Reel Big Fish, any skanker worth his checkered shoes knows he’s in for a good show.  Nonetheless, I entered Webster with a certain amount of apprehension.  Could all the stories people have told me about these two bands live be untrue?  My friends, I come to you with joyous news.  I have seen heaven on stage.  I can say with all certainty there isn’t a better live show than Streetlight Manifesto or Reel Big Fish, and the fantastic openers that preceded them.  On that note, certainly the biggest surprise of the night was not one, but two amazing openers.  I will say the first band, Rodeo Ruby Love, even though they were a great act, seemed a little out-of-place.  The Indiana natives have a wonderful mix of upbeat ska tunes (oddly lacking a brass section on stage), the best of which was a horn-tinged number called “Rickey Henderson.”  They were a little soft and slow in tempo compared to the rest of the groups, and because they were opening the show, had a bit of a lukewarm reception from the rowdy bigger-name hungry audience.  The best part of the suspicious interaction between band and crowd was the extremely funny self-conscious looks of complete uncomfort the rhythm guitarist had on his face.  To top it off, their mixing seemed a little off, drowning out the vocalists with guitar fuzz.  Listening to them now, I cannot say enough good things about them, considering their tight sound and often-hilarious lyrics.  My one piece of advice to the band: Give Annie Cheek (the female vocalist) some sort of instrument on stage so she doesn’t stand there looking so endearingly awkward as she waits for the next bit of her lyrics to kick in.

Lionize

The next band to play was Lionize, who my friend dryly remarked that he wouldn’t want to meet any of these guys in a dark alley, are certainly a physically imposing, heavily  bearded band.  When a huge white guy, decked out with a lumberjack beard came out on stage, my first reaction was, “Oh, God, another lame, loud, grunge knockoff band.”  Readers, learn to never trust my first impressions.  To start, the lead singer had a beautiful voice, and his crystal clear lyrics cut straight through the crowd.  This is one band that no one saw coming, but no one wanted to leave after their first song.  Between a wonderful vocalist, a truly amazing keyboardist who laid out incredible organ riffs and superbly tight drum lines, this band impressed like no other.  Its one thing going into a show and knowing the band will be great and another matter entirely for one to come out like a bolt out of the blue. This is one hard-edged reggae band I’ll keep coming back to again and again.

Streetlight Manifesto

And now, the moment I couldn’t wait for…Streetlight Manifesto takes the stage.  The opening notes of “Watch It Crash” hit our collective audience ears.  No matter how steady I wanted to keep my camera, I couldn’t help but screaming “Mercy, mercy, mercy me!” when the chorus came about.  They played an incredible set, I only wish it lasted longer.  They played 10 amazingly created songs.  I cannot express how great they were, but I must confess, Reel Big Fish I looked forward to more and was ultimately more entertaining.

When they came on stage accompanied, of course, by the Superman theme song, the crowd just about lost it.  I think a sweaty, shirtless man next to me began to cry.  I rushed to the front of the photo pit, and used the majority of my camera’s memory on this incredibly charismatic band.  They danced, sang, make bawdy jokes, sang “Suburban Rhythm” countless times in different styles and took pity on the short kid among the huge security guards and looked right at the camera multiple times.  If that grandiose run on sentence didn’t prove it to you, they were unbelievable.  Better than anyone had ever told me, and I implore anyone to see them.  Take a train, bus, learn to fly, rent a camel, I don’t care.  Just go.  This band gets me so excited, and really, as the guy in the “Bitchin’” shirt could tell you, you should be too.
 

 

Worst Tour Name Ever; Bands, Not as Bad November 18, 2011

Review of the Rock Yourself to Sleep Tour in San Diego

By Orin Jones   Photos by Leo Malevanchik  (click on the thumbnails below for a slide show and a better view of these phenomenal shots!)

Ah, good old all-ages SOMA Club,San Diego,CA.  When I saw Girl Talk here a few months ago, the crowd was slightly older than it is tonight, but not by much.  I’m 32 – easily twice the age of the average age of a SOMA attendee.  At least photographer Leo is nearly twice my age and, unlike most of these fans, he’s finished growing.  Never ceases to amaze me: the more time passes, the more cell phone screens shimmer across the crowd.  How do venues prevent bootlegging when most of the viewers are video recording? I guess we’re finally past the dark era of charging for (low-quality) informational content…right? Please? I wore my black Chucks and so did everyone else.  Hey, at least I fit in a little.

Couldn’t figure out what time the freakin’ show started, so we missed the first few act: Memphis May Fire, Serianna, and Atilla.  Well, we caught the end of one band, who were actually quite good, but no idea which one.  Before the next band came out, there was that awkward time that always comes between bands at any show, of any style of music (like during sex, when you break to pee).  I walked Leo to the “photo pit,” the area between the screaming fans and the stage, where the largest bouncers lurk, incessantly pushing limbs and bodies back over the rail, or lifting them in to be briskly escorted out the side.  I stood chatting with Leo at the entrance to this area; without a wristband, I couldn’t go in.  Suddenly, the lights dimmed and the crowd went bezerk.  My head was only a few inches from a set of speakers larger than my bedroom.  I moved a bit back and Leo began snapping pics.

On the way in is a large banner: “IF YOU PUSH, THRASH, KICK OR MOSH, YOU WILL BE IMMEDIATELY EJECTED!” Of course, hundreds around me were doing all of these things; I considered getting into it, but meh.  It has probably been over a decade since I moshed.  At least I’d like to know a song or two to get pumped.  The band, A Skylit Drive, was so-so.  Actually, the guys on instruments were quite good — steady rhythms and lots of energy.  But I couldn’t get over the lead singer, a short, funny looking guy, reminiscent of Riff Raff, the handyman from Rocky Horror Picture Show.  ASD, if you’re reading, get rid of this dude.  The other singer on stage, the more nondescript one, had a better voice, less effeminate moves and even (with the mic) took a running start before diving over the photo pit into the crowd.  Each band-member wore jeans tight enough to cause injury, as did all of their fans.  Showing my age yet? Gosh I hate when bands tell me to wave my hands, but the crowd was into it.  At one point, the singer intoned, “This next song is about sex, drugs and rock and roll.” The crowd roared as I puked in my mouth a little.

Before the final band took the stage, I went to the smoking area with Leo.  He told me that during the set he’d almost been crushed many times by kids landing all around him.  Also that, at one point, the lead singer had jumped onto a ledge mere inches from Leo’s very expensive camera equipment.  He was also being showered, as band members were spraying and spitting water everywhere.  The climate was sultry, to be sure, but I don’t know.  I just can’t help remembering back to concerts of my youth, where bands sprayed beer and passed joints as large as…well, me at the time.  I kinda miss that.  I moved for a few girls to pass through.  An obese Mexican kid crouched against the wall hollered at them: “Wanna talk to my friend? He’s 14 years old and drunk as fuck!” I guess the spirit is still alive somewhat.

The next band, headliners Alesana, was more to my liking but still not great.  The crowd galvanized.  Like the previous bands, the members were mostly in their young twenties.  This group, however, had one older bald guy, maybe my age or a little older even.  He was the designated screamer.  Is this “screamo”? Guess so.  I couldn’t understand a word out of his mouth.  Between songs, the lead vocalist (not a screamer) told us, “This next one’s called ‘The Murderer.’ It’s a song about a guy who walks into a bar, locks the door and kills every son of a bitch inside.” The drums, guitar and bass began, followed by incomprehensible screaming.  I LOL’d.  The song might just as well have been about Mother’s Day.  I used to rock out to Deicide and Cannibal Corpse, which have even more cryptic lyrics (like “Satan spawned the Caco Daemon” ad infinitum), so I really can’t talk smack.  Seems that at some point in some teens’ lives, they feel the need to listen to shitty music.  They probably don’t like these awful sounds either, but know it bothers everyone else, and that’s just how they’re living their thus far meaningless lives.  The screamer’s faded “And Justice for All” tour t-shirt was too small, exposing his beer belly.  Wonder if he was around for that tour, or just bought it at a vintage store.  I would’ve loved to hear a cover off that album, although Alesana probably couldn’t, due to licensing restrictions.  Fucking Metallica.

In the lobby, a tiny blonde tween pushed her near-twin-tween friend to meet one of these rock stars.  I got a close look at this guy: sweaty, pale and donning dark shades (inside, at night), he resembled a fatter, more depressed Lars Ulrich.  Or a morose zoo beast.  He clearly needed another bump, or at least a record deal.  Were there any here tonight? What the hell was the point of this “Rock Yourself to Sleep” tour put on by Motel 6, what the fuck does Motel 6 want with these mediocre musicians, and where is the asshole who penned this awful tour name?

Before Alesana finished, Leo and I decided we’d had enough.  At 13 years old, I began frequenting the heaviest heavy metal shows at the filthiest clubs in NYC.  Driving home after this show, I thought back to the sublime emotions I’d bring with me, leaving those clubs at all hours, drunk, stoned, floating.  Granted I left this venue sober (SOMA does not serve), and I’m a few years older, but I just didn’t feel even a pinch of that same elation.  On this night, I felt content, but it was different.  I rolled down my windows, blasted Pantera all the way home, and went to bed early.  I did, after all, have work in the morning.

www.leomalevanchik.com