Fans of face-pounding rhythm, explosive fills, brilliant flourishes, and general badassery should be in Denver this weekend. Legendary prog rockers, Rush, play the Pepsi Center on Saturday while psychedelic alt-rock masters, Smashing Pumpkins, hit Red Rocks on Monday, July 13. If you’re a drummer your dick is hard. Real hard. Especially with the return of Jimmy Chamberlin to the Pumpkins’ lineup.
These bands are more similar than you think, but their obvious common thread is two of the best drummers – ever.
These are guys steeped in the thudding, grooving rock masters that preceded them, such as John Bonham, but more importantly Jimmy Chamberlin and Neil Peart are students of jazz and precise drum technique.
Now there are a fair amount of fantastic drummers that play jazz and fusion and routinely grace the covers of drumming magazines, but Neil and Jimmy are other-level brilliant. What sets them apart – besides the wicked chops and deep knowledge of rhythm – is a certain musicality; an ability to play over-the-top drums that don’t run over the music. Instead, the complicated patterns, constant barrage of fills, and improvisation serve to underscore and define the music, propelling both band and song forward in a way that could not be done without them.
Another notable attribute of these guys is the ability to seamlessly meld stomping arena rock beats with jazz fluidity. This would typically be referred to as fusion, but it isn’t as antiseptic or math-y with Jimmy and Neil behind the kit. The drums have balls; powerful, smooth, vibrant, pulsing, organic balls.
It could be said that they overplay, but no one ever has said it. They are too nuanced, too in tune with the melody of the song to ever harm it. They know what the song is supposed to do and use everything in their arsenal to make it better. It’s more than just meter. On top of their preternatural timekeeping abilities, these two drummers are able to push their kits out front as a lead or melodic instrument.
The Pumpkins suffered horribly without Jimmy’s natural propulsive, chattering percussion and the push-pull between he and Billy Corgan. On the other hand, imagine Rush without Neil Peart. Eeeewwww.
If you care about music at all or if you are interested in drums then seeing these guys in action is worth the price of admission alone.
There was a recent spike in folky Americana-inspired, bluegrass-tinged alt rock that swept the nation. That surge coincided with an exponential increase in old-timey facial hair. I know correlation doesn’t equal causation, but think about it. I didn’t quite understand it. It wasn’t bad, but I didn’t get the throngs of fans singing along with the likes of Mumford & Sons, Avett & Sons, and Sons & Sons or whatever.
I am a gigantic fan of bluegrass so that’s not the problem. I just prefer the way bands like Murder by Death and Portland, Maine by way of New York’s O’Death bring a more authentic, honest sound. Touches of Appalachian music blend with alt country, western textures and dark themes. It’s just cooler.
It’s like if Alice Cooper started a band inspired by Fleet Foxes and wrote music for True Detective and any band that takes their name from a song made famous by Dr. Ralph Stanley is alright by me!
MBD is a perfect gothic, whiskey-soaked companion for O’Death.
If you prefer Johnny Cash over Elvis, Slayer over Metallica, Outlaw Country over New Country, The Black Crowes over Dave Matthews or just can’t stand the inexplainable popularity and unnerving optimism of modern folk rock and its fans then this show is for you. Buy Tickets
Due to my persistent brokeness, oldness, and overall lameness I didn’t get down to Tampa for what could only be called the Woodstock of Comedy. Well, maybe Lollapalooza of Comedy. The Oddball Comedy Festival sees the titans of modern stand-up on the road and playing amphitheaters across the US. Tampa kicked off the tour. What’s better than seeing silver-tongued, misanthropic geniuses on opening night with a format and venue that is largely foreign to them? Seriously. What would be misfires and awkwardness on a band’s first night would only fuel the comedic fires of some of the sharpest comedy minds of this century (It’s only 2014 soooo…).
It may seem strange to perform stand-up in an amphitheater but I’m sure the line-up delivered. Tampa didn’t get the genius of Bill Burr, Sarah Silverman, Amy Schumer, or Dave Attell, but they did get big papi, Louis CK, along with Maron, Hannibal Burress, Chris Hardwick, and Aziz to name a few.
If comedy in an amphitheater doesn’t get you going don’t miss:
Some Great Comedy Shows in Central Florida Over the Past Two Years
I’ve been sitting on these recordings for awhile now. I don’t have any problem sharing music from a concert. I think it fires people up because they like to hear songs more than once and see bands play. Comedy can have a bit of its thunder stolen if you hear the whole hour before you go to the show and see 95% of the same material again. Two out of three of these shows have had their hour-long special come and go. Dave Chappelle is the only one who hasn’t had a special yet, but I think his 2013 tour was more of a soft dive back into to the biz than it was shaping a new hour of material for an HBO special.
This is Louis CK live from The Straz Center in Tampa from November of 2012. It’s great because you can actually hear parts of Oh My God! being worked out and toyed with leading up to that comedy special:
Dave Chappelle came out of nowhere and hit the road for a large portion of 2013. The flow was loose and open as Dave told stories, worked through new material, and riffed off the crowd at Melbourne’s King Center:
Jim Breuer played the weirdest venue. I saw a list of intimate shows as he swung through Florida beach towns. I was able to catch him at the Treasure Island Yacht Club where he performed to a packed room of well-to-do 50 and 60-something club members. He toned down the heavy metal anecdotes and improv’d some material about the, um – unique audience and setting. You can also hear bits of his latest special, … And Laughter for All:
One of my favorite angry existentialist drunks will be in town tonight and tomorrow! Well, he’s probably not a drunk … anymore. Angst-y genius, Isaac Brock has a way with words. I’m drawn to his honest, raw, and mostly scathing insights about life, death and humanity. What makes them scathing is the unflinching honesty. Like someone with Asperger’s syndrome, Brock’s lyrics have no filter. He calls it like he sees it, “There’s one thing to know about this earth / We’re put here just to make more dirt; and that’s OK.” This could be interpreted as bleak to some while others, like me, find it refreshing. The words work perfectly with the songs but can read like the works of Bukowski or Henry Miller (If I was more well read I might have a better comparison) on their own. Take these lyrics laced with brutally honest perspectives and doubt, deliver it with a delicate lisp and some guttural fury then couple that with production techniques that sometimes layer Brock’s lines; whispering a phrase in one headphone, speaking it in the other, and screaming in both simultaneously and we have a pretty interesting approach.
The music of Modest Mouse has this sort of loose, jangly quality to it. It sounds warbly and sad, teetering on either side of the meter and tethered in place more by the bass than the drums. The music is dark and poetic, wounded and sincere. Even tunes like, “Float On” which sound incredibly pop and upbeat are tragically sad and humanistic upon closer inspection. Modest Mouse really creates some of the most unique rock ‘n roll ever to make it big. And just like St. Vincent and Smashing Pumpkins, behind the powerful music and lyrics lies a serious guitar player that sort of takes over at live shows.
When I saw dates for Modest Mouse at The Beacham in Orlando I was hoping a new album was on the way. They haven’t put out anything since We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank (2007) and the EP, No One’s Fist, and You’re Next (2009). This spring tour is even more exciting than a new album in a way. It seems this tour was put together as a testing ground for new material, which will make shows more interesting. Most great rock ‘n roll bands will get out and field test new material in the live environment and as a fan it is fun to watch them take shape throughout the tour and ultimately on the album. It’s a peek into the creative process. Another benefit to these kinds of tours is bands like to reward super-fans by mixing new material with fan favorites and deep cuts. Although the new album would technically only be the band’s 6th album they have a vast catalog to pull from and Orlando crowds will be eating it up starting tonight.
Just about every lead singer can talk the talk, but how many can walk? Josh Homme, frontman, founder, and lead shredder in Queens of the Stone Age, is a rare breed these days. A lead singer that can throw a tantrum and threaten to kick someones ass, but actually be able to knock their fuckin’ teeth out. We all know about Axl Rose’s temper. Let’s say, for some reason, Axl singled me out in the crowd and jumped in after me. Axl is about 5’8″ and in his hay day was about 145lbs soaking wet. I would literally grab him by the face and throw him back on stage. That’s not going to happen with Joshua. Some people assert that QOTSA lacks that sense of danger they had with Nick Oliveri. Nick might have been a maniac, but Josh is pretty damn dangerous. Take the incident at The Mahaffey Theater Tuesday night.
The band took a break from working our faces like a speed bag to slow down the pace momentarily with a song from Like Clockwork … “The Vampyre of Time and Memory.” Here is where an intoxicated fan took advantage of the intimate nature of the theater to make his way on stage and show his love for Josh. Homme don’t play that. This sturdily built bearded dude wrapped up Josh from behind in a bear hug. Josh jumped up to subdue the guy. This fella, drunk and determined, got a little squirrely and slipped away. You could see a change come over Homme and calmly say to himself, “not in my store you don’t.” It almost seemed like he was putting an Aikido move on the dude. Josh placed one hand on beardy’s shoulder and another on this guy’s wrist. He seemed to get leverage with the wrist hold then pulled the guy’s shirt over his head hockey fight style and pitched him headlong into the orchestra pit. My video picks up just as the guy disappears into the pit:
Mr Homme has a history of not taking shit from pussies. When you’re 6’4″ and probably close to 240lbs your swagger comes with a little more authority. Here is a compilation of Josh calling people the fuck out:
The funniest part of this compilation is that half of these instances are a big, badass, American rock ‘n roll hero telling Euro-trash that he is going to fuck them up. Haha! U-S-A! U-S-A!
Orlando fans may recognize this section of the compilation. This might have been my first or second QOTSA show. It was the $2 MTV concert. Here is my first taste of Homme’s no bullshit policy. He basically straight-arms a pretty large dude right off the stage:
I’ve seen many shows over the years and Austin’s Bright Light Social Hour are one of the best bands I’ve witnessed live – and that’s a bold statement. Their stop at The Social here in Orlando was certainly a highlight for 2012. They are closing out the year in Central Florida with a show on the 29th at The Social and a New Year’s Eve blowout in Tampa at The Ritz. I caught up with these new found monsters of rock, blues, and psychedelia just before the end of the world (Pff, what a let down) to discuss Christmas gifts, going out in style for the apocalypse, rap cat, inspirato, jammin’ out, and their hatred of Tampa (hahaha – just kidding Tampa – you win).
Roll call: Who are you and what do you do?
I’m Jack O’Brien. I play bass and sing with The Bright Light Social Hour, among other things.
Bright Light Social Hour? Sorry for being lame, but what is the origin of the name?
Curt (Roush – guitars / vocals) and I started the band in college, and at the time he was studying Indian activist Arundhati Roy, who described the activist’s job as shining a bright light into the dark corners of society. We dug the concept but our approach and music has always been centered around community and gathering so we wanted to include something to that effect as well.
What kind of party is happening on your album cover and how do I get invited?
Ha, we just invited a ton of friends, brought a bunch of beer to the greenbelt in Austin and had a little day party. The photographer and art director took a ton of photos and we just put together our favorite ones. I’m pretty sure there are a few randos in there who just walked up, that could’ve been you!
It should’ve been me. I can rock the cut-off jorts.
I never checked out the band before the last show here in Orlando. You guys kicked my fucking teeth in (a bill is in the mail). This is how I described the sound:
“A hefty mix of the southern rock and eclectic pop of My Morning Jacket meets the frenetic energy of Morning Teleportation. These four guys are sick – drums, bass, multiple lead vocals, keys (mostly with organ sounds), and guitar are spot-on. The show went from crazy, high energy jams to spacey, tripped out interludes that supported smart, powerful rock n’ roll with a twist of bar room blues. Basically, they are all over the map but The Bright Light Social Hour does it seamlessly and with ruthless authority.”
How far off am I? How do you explain the band’s influences and sound?
I dig it. Lately we’ve been calling it Future Southern Psychedelic Deep-soul, but we’re probably the worst people to ask. We’re serious students of music of all types. We love old soul, blues, deep-funk, house, electronic, I could go on and on. I went 2-stepping last night.
Live shows are vital for a rock band’s cred, but nowadays, constant touring is a given. You guys seem to thrive on stage. Is that the case? Are you still at the point where it is an adventure and shows are fun? You know, every show is a step forward towards gelling the band and growing as a unit or has this sweaty two-hour, nightly commitment become a drag with heroin and handfuls of pills just to get you to normal?
Haha! No man we absolutely live for the live show! The goal is for both us and the crowd to leave exhausted and fully satisfied.
What inspires you to create music? Kittens?
The future. The South. Outer space. Oh, and Rap Cat fo sho:
Being in the early stages of the band and playing night-to-night, city-to-city and winning over new fans with every stop, what kind of audience inspires you – makes you feel like you’ve connected with them? The type of scene where it might not be a home crowd singing all the words, but a mostly new audience.
An audience with an open mind an open ears is always best. Someone we can pass the spirit energy back and forth with, let it grow as we go. It really builds a connection, but both parties have to be open to it.
Are there bands that you guys see or check out at shows and they get you fired up and make you want to play?
Yea definitely. There’s an incredible 10-piece psychedelic Afrobeat band from Austin called Hard Proof that always makes us lose our shit. When choosing an opening band, promoters usually value someone with a good draw or similar sound to the headliner, but I think the best thing an opening band can do is get both the crowd and headlining band fired up; you gotta preheat the oven before you stick the meat in.
That’s what she said?
The 70’s rock, psychedelic, and blues elements of the band all lend themselves to jams. The album certainly showcases some jams, but how much of the live show is just free form, spontaneous noodling around song themes and how much of it is rehearsed departures? I guess I’m trying to figure out how you work together and sort of stretch out around your tunes.
Most shows there’s not much total improv, more rehearsed departures that develop over the course of a tour. But when we get the opportunity to play a longer headlining set we love to just get weird with it and go some unexpected places.
OK, I’ve never been to Austin. I’m in town for 48 hours. What do I do?
Sunbathe topless at Barton Springs, catch a Big Lebowski quote-along with a great local IPA at the Alamo Drafthouse, eat some killer cheap Mexican food at Las Cazuelas on the east side and go 2-stepping at White Horse.
Are you bracing yourself for the Mayan prophecy of end times?
I tried to have an orgy but no one showed up.
Well, the guy at the door wouldn’t let me in …
Speaking of end times, has Alex Jones ever ventured out of his bunker in Austin to check you out?
Had no idea he lived here.
Oh dude! Look him up. He’s a bit of a sensationalist (understatement alert), but some of his core libertarian views underscore the message of Arundhati Roy
What do you want for Christmas?
Jo: Moog Voyager XL
Jack: a new pair of Converse, my foot is sticking out the side
Curtis: a new Speaker of the House
OK, time to make some enemies. Being somewhat familiar with Tampa and Orlando, which city do you enjoy more? (It’s ok to be honest. Everyone knows Tampa can be a little dirtbag-y and Orlando can be a little douche-y) Looooove both but Tampa’s a little closer to the beach…
OK, I can dig that. West Coast Florida beaches are tough to beat.
What is coming up in 2013 for BLSH?
We’ll spend the first half of the year writing the next record, hopefully to release it toward the end of 2013. We plan on doing a lot of summer festivals and touring like crazy as soon as we finish up in the studio.
This band is built for shredding the festival stage, but if you can’t wait until summer (and you shouldn’t), it is my wholehearted recommendation that you SEE THIS BAND on December 29 at The Social in Orlando- GET TICKETS – or ring in the New Year right at The Ritz in Ybor City – GET TICKETS
Check Out the Bright Light Social Hour’s Resolutions for the New Year over at Suburban Apologist
In case you need some more inspiration to get out and see these guys:
KISS is heading to Orlampa as part of “The Tour” with opener / co-headliner Motley Crue. I’ve been a KISS fan since I was a kid. My upstairs neighbor in Brooklyn was 10 in 1979 and I was 4. I remember walking into his room and every inch of wall space was covered with KISS posters. This is pretty cool since his Italian parents barely knew any English. I was mesmerized. At 4 years old, they were more than a band, they were gods – these massive, mysterious beings that were simultaneously scary and alluring – kind of like a fat naked girl. I remember going to Richard’s (that was his name) birthday party where he got ALIVE II as one of his gifts. While the traditional party happenings played out I sat on the couch staring at the cover. I could not stop looking at the image of Gene Simmons drenched in sweat, makeup cracking, blood running down his chin and throat, and bathed in the blue stage light. My musical fate was sealed. Although soon after this was the point that KISS started to lose credibility with some fans I embraced them and all the hair metal they spawned through the 80s.
It can be argued that their music through their 4th album, the double-live ALIVE (everybody knows your 4th record is supposed to be a double-live album), was its purest and most original. Some may lean on their apogee, from Destroyer through Alive II, a time when they ruled the planet. Personally I loved them through 1979s Dynasty. They caught so much shit for the disco twist to that album, but listening to it again reveals a pretty charged pop rock record. These guys basically took the band they idolized (early Beatles) then amped it up. Early KISS is essentially “I Want to Hold Your Hand” with leather, flash bombs, and loud guitar. Their larger than life persona was the next evolution of teenage rock idols eclipsing the Fab 4 by becoming interstellar comic book anti-heroes.
Then the makeup came off:
This began a new era both musically and stylistically. They now competed with a new wave of bands in a genre they helped create. Hair metal, cock rock – whatevs – was the norm. The overblown 60s pop approach was not going to work anymore. While some bands still relied on theatrics, many bigger, louder, and more technically proficient bands came along. Screeching, whaling guitar heroics opened the door for groups that were a little more complex than KISS. Instead of KISS thriving in their own unique realm, bands that were not only influenced by KISS, but Alice Cooper, Led Zeppelin, Thin Lizzy, Black Sabbath and AC/DC appeared. The lessons learned from these bands created a more rich landscape for new bands to draw from. This led to KISS appearing somewhat sophmoric to some metal fans. Without the novelty of their makeup KISS struggled for relevance but built up so much clout that they were able to sally forth despite constant line-up changes and bedazzled outfits. They still managed to put out good songs in the 13 year period without makeup before they realized they could go back to the gimmick even though we all know what they look like.
I feel compelled to list “Shandi” from Unmasked, but they technically had not removed their makeup yet. I also want to list “War Machine” from Creatures of the Night because the first time I got Creatures on cassette it was the re-released version featuring the band without makeup on the cover. It also had guitarist, Bruce Kulick, in the picture even though he joined the band 3 years after that album was released. To chronicle non-makeup songs one has to start with ’83′s Lick it Up. This is where they were officially unmasked. This moment was ahead of the guitar “shredder” revolution and Gene and Paul didn’t realize what they had in Vinnie Vincent (the first replacement for Ace Frehley) and they literally had to restrain him from going apeshit on the ax. There were some personality issues too, but Gene and Paul weren’t ready to deal with any competition for the spotlight, nor did the anticipate the sea change in rock. I would like to pick “On the 8th Day” but “Exciter” still had the aura of KISS and was the first song on the first album without makeup. Vinnie’s guitar gave the song and album some credibility and “Exciter” still embodied the mythical rock god image they once possessed. UPDATE: The venerable Steve Schneider, @Schneider_Stv - humorist and most knowledgeable KISS fan alive, noted, “You picked the only song on Lick it Up that Vinnie didn’t play the solo on! It’s Rick Derringer!”
This is a single so I’m not really reaching here, but it is – without a doubt – the best song on Animalize. This is a great tune and a hair metal prototype. After Vinnie Vincent was fired, Mark St. John – another shredder – joined the band for this album before crippling arthritis (and I’m sure there were personality issues) forced him to leave.
“Heaven’s on Fire”
Yet another single, but a truly strong track that is much more than a cock rock song from 1985. “Uh All Night” and “Who Wants to be Lonely” are pretty good but don’t stand the test of time. They were the other two songs in the KISS trifecta method. Every KISS album after 1977 is built around three singles and a series of filler songs. This is also the first official album for Bruce Kulick, a terrific hard rock guitar nerd that lacked any sort charisma or stage presence and that suited Gene and Paul just fine. Bruce was just happy to be working and take orders.
“Tears are Falling”
It was hard not to pick “Crazy Nights” or even “Turn on the Night” but “No, No, No” is actually the better song here and stands out 25 years later.
“No, No, No”
“Unholy” is a great song but it reflects a time KISS got a little harder in an effort to stay relevant. “God Gave Rock ‘n Roll to You” – although a cover – represents some of late KISS’ best work. And the addition of Eric Singer finally gave KISS a world class pro behind the drums. Yes, the great Anton Fig is amazing but we’re not supposed to know he was drumming for them.
“God Gave Rock ‘n Roll to You”
The albums KISS put out since returning to the makeup are mostly unremarkable, but I will always stand by them as one of the coolest rock bands in history.
KISS and Motley Crue are playing the Ask Ax Gary Amphitheater in Tampa tomorrow
Dream poppers, Beach House, will be bringing their chill, darkly romantic vibes to The Beacham tonight. Hopefully Alex Scally and Victoria Legrand will be more than a duo as they reproduce the lush sounds of Devotion and Teen Dream in concert. This show will be right around one week shy of the debut of their fourth album, Bloom. The quality of their new-ish catalog and the sheer beauty of the songs should make for a great show.
“Myth” from the Upcoming Beach House Release, Bloom:
Trevor Powers found a voice for his chronic anxiety and the indescribable feelings swirling around inside of him in Youth Lagoon and the aptly titled debut album, A Year of Hibernation. When “Montana” first came my way I was instantly drawn to the dreamy melancholy floating out of the speakers. “July” has that same feeling; a song that, despite its intentions, builds a soundscape that defines a distant emotion more than creating a catchy melody. It’s like something that would be piped in as your deathbed mind flashed through the disparate chain of memories that is your life. That’s a pretty bold statement considering this Boise native is barely 20 and made this album by himself.
This is the second video directed by Tyler T. Williams who seems to have a knack for underscoring Powers’ uncanny ability to build a slow song into an epic crescendo out of seemingly nothing.
The new wave of New Wave is here! The Beacham hosts two of the most promising acts in the 80′s mod revival in M83 and Active Child. Opener, Active Child, is back with a follow-up to last year’s groundbreaking EP, Curtis Lane. Crooner and harpist (yes, harpist) Pat Grossi is touring behind his latest LP in the enchanting You Are All I See with a few more musicians than his last show at The Social. A live drummer is certain to add another dimension to Grossi’s alternative chamber pop.
M83 will amp up the 80′s prog-goth with a touch of shoegaze. Only 2 weeks in to their North American tour behind Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming the French band – more precisely Frenchman, Anthony Gonzalez – are getting rave reviews and drawing large crowds. Expect big sounds moving back and forth from wall-shuddering dance tunes to reverb-drenched alt rock and sometimes both seamlessly intertwined.