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Mar 132015

murder-by-death-at-the-social_kisses-and-noise-music-blogI know this show sounds like a thrash metal or grindcore show, but it totally wasn’t. I called Bloomington, Indiana’s Murder by Death and New York’s O’death ”Mumford & Sons for kids that wore black nail polish in high school” because they both take themes of Americana; country & western, bluegrass, and folk then blend them together seamlessly with splashes of alternative rock. They tell tales of the darker side, from whiskey drinking to lost loves that drown in a river.

O’death blew me away. Building from dark, goth-y folk to nearly doom metal by the end of the set they kept my attention all night. With ghostly vocals, banjo, and some killer fiddlin’ O’death was both authentic and unique. I found the drummer interesting. It was apparent that he was holding back early. I could feel him wanting to blast into power punk. He executed with restraint, but as the set progressed he got heavier and heavier. He also had a pretty interesting set up with no hi-hat. Instead he had a tambourine mounted to the left and another rigged to his foot so he could tap tambourine with his left foot. He also had a ride cymbal with another, slightly smaller, ride cymbal sitting directly on top of it creating this cool, trashy hiss. I notice these things. Sorry.






Murder by Death let go of some of their softer nuance to come out of the block heavy and loud. I have no problem with that! I’ve always been struck by lead singer’s voice. It sounds dusty and old. I pictured a grizzled 60-year-old man in overalls. Adam Turla’s voice is just so whiskey-soaked and wise that the face just doesn’t match up. Cellist, Sarah Balliet balances out Turla’s craggy voice and adds gothic ambience to their alt-country sound. I adore 2010′s Good Morning, Magpie, but the band threw a wild mix of songs from all six of their albums.




Aug 122014

louis-ck-and-leading-comedians-visit-central-floridaDue 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:

Jay Mohr, September 20, Straz Center

Nick Swardson, October 1 at Bob Carr 

Jim Gaffigan, November 28 at Hard Rock Live 

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:

Listen to Louis CK live in Tampa 2012

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:

Listen to Dave Chappelle live in Melourne, FL 2013

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:

Listen to Jim Breuer in St.Pete 2014
May 182014

isaac-brock-of-modest-mouse-in-orlando-2014-2First of all I was completely wrong. The set from Friday night wasn’t so much a testing ground for new music as I prophesied, but a killer, fan-friendly riot. The show was a short, but stellar. It started early, which is lame. I know it isn’t my business endeavor, but a band like Modest Mouse playing on a fucking Friday night shouldn’t start while people are still in their evening commute. Maybe The Beacham rakes in the dough (doubt it) from club night, but there will be less stabbings, more alcohol purchases, and more tips from a crowd there to see a legendary band than one hanging on to their tip money for a late night coke run. Rock show over at 10:30: G-A-Y.

I was stoked for Morning Teleportation. I didn’t learn until the day before that they were opening. I reviewed their debut album in 2011 and pretty much loved their Modest Mouse on amphetamines sound. I was able to catch their last song – played at 7:30!!!!! – though:

Modest Mouse just killed it:

AUDIO: “Tiny Cities Made of Ashes”

Listen to Tiny Cities Made of Ashes

AUDIO: “I Came as a Rat”

Listen to I Came as a Rat

I always thought Isaac would be sort of a recluse. According to this Crowd Album he certainly made himself available to fans.

Apr 052014

Image via @OfficialDELTRON

I’m a pretty big fan of hip hop. Clever lyrics, killer samples, and bowel-shaking bass rattling my car and/or house make me feel warm and fuzzy. Hip hop live shows, on the other hand, are hit or miss – mostly miss. Del tha Funkee Homosapien‘s unique vocals and tight beats make him a pretty sure bet for live performances as far as rap goes. Add the wizardry of Dan the Automator and the ninja-like turntable prowess of Kid Koala and you might have one of the best live hip hop acts – ever.

Kid Koala came out for a warm-up DJ set. He began with a story of how the tour managers fucked up, got the wrong equipment for him and explained he has been borrowing turntables at every stop along the way. Kid assured us this was a disclaimer and not an excuse. I’m not sure if he was fucking around. He said something about them bringing in guitar equipment instead of his turntables, but he may have been obfuscating, trying to add mystery as to why guitar, bass, and drums were on stage. I’m not sure. The Social was packed and loud. Anyway, he set them motherfuckers on fire during his DJ set.

Deltron came out with the assistance of the aforementioned instruments; guitar bass and drums bolstered the already powerful 3030 trio. Simply put, they fucking rocked it. They came out swinging with a fast-paced, high energy set that felt more like a rock concert than a hip hop show. Hands down one of the best rap/hip hop concerts I’ve seen.

Mar 112014
St. Vincent performig at The Tabernacle in Atlanta - photo by @jordanivy

photo by @jordanivy on Instagram

I got an enewsletter from St. Vincent (customer retention!) with tour info. Of course Orlando dates were nowhere to be seen, but I did see a weekend date at The Tabernacle in Atlanta. On the mind-numbing drive up 75 (maybe not as bad as I-10 through the panhandle) I realize that this may be the first time I’ve gone out of my way for a female artist. By “out of my way” I mean making a trip out of it. There is a short list of bands I will travel anywhere I can afford (two towns over) to see. Radiohead, the Pumpkins or anything Billy, The Black Crowes, Queens of the Stone Age, Modest Mouse, Placebo, My Morning Jacket, and maybe a few others make that list. I think I can add Annie Clark to that list.

She is just a powerhouse – and easy on the eyes, ya know what I mean? Huh-huh? She is a brilliant songwriter and singer producing some of the most intense and intelligent indie pop out there. She hit what I thought was a sort of apogee with her last album, Strange Mercy, but Annie’s collaboration with David Byrne, Love This Giant, is mindblowing. That experience with Byrne – writing, recording, and performing – seems to have energized her and pushed her to new levels. Her eponymous 5th album is her best yet.

What makes me go ka-ka-cuckoo for her is that beyond her aforementioned strengths she is a true axeman (woman). She is deceptive in her shredding prowess. Annie reminds me of Prince in a weird way. Don’t gasp! Stick with me. She can easily stand toe-to-toe with other rock artists in the songwriting category, but she takes it a step further than pop sensibility because at any moment she can just take over a performance on the merit of her soaring, screaming ax. Not many people that aren’t in a jam or metal band do that. Take the Smashing Pumpkins for instance. Maybe you are a casual fan or remember a few songs you liked and decide to see a concert. What you are really going to get is the Billy Corgan Guitar Clinic. Annie can do that.

On Saturday night at The Tabernacle she played with all the charisma and precision she is known for. It was parts pop diva-ship, performance art, and rock show. The moments when she stomped a pedal and stepped in front of the mic or climbed her lighted staircase, Miss Clark would unload scorching six string fury on our faces and the crowd howled in recognition of the awesomeness. She owns it. The rest of the band was stellar and mostly electronic working synths and samples, and “manipulating 0s and 1s.” They were precise, adding the technical touches and textures that make her albums so rich. Her drummer was obviously fantastic as he locked down to a click-track and played with drum machine accuracy, but I felt like he needed to open up. I wanted the drums to be more assertive and propulsive. I wanted them to make the funky sections a little dirtier and the rocking sections a little more explosive, but you can’t complain about perfect time.




Mar 042014

The Bright Light Social Hour onstage at The Social 3.3.14The Bright Light Social Hour were back Monday night and in rare form as usual. I guess it’s not “rare” then, but anyway. I thought, “I love these guys live, but I’ve seen them three times on one album! What could I get out of it?” Well, as I hoped, TBLSH focused on brand new music this go around. There was a big audience for a Monday night and I can’t help but think my previous reporting on the band is solely responsible for the groundswell of support they are enjoying. I want mention in the fucking liner notes of the next album! Well, it might have something to do with the power of their live shows, strong social media presence, and thousands of other bloggers and fans, but whatevs.

The new stuff seemed to get more psychedelic at times and more straightforward rock at others as compared to the anthemic funk rock of their debut. The new guy on keys, Edward Braillif , also adds a sort of techno/electronica feel in places, which can work really well at driving the songs up to swirling crescendos. Eddie B also fills in with rhythm guitar on occasion. I caught part of their set on the lawn at Rollins last year and realized AJ Vincent (old keyboard guy) was gone. Apparently, they parted ways with Vincent due to “creative differences.” That guy was no slouch either, but had a more retro vibe – which I don’t think hurt them at all.

Well, the new music was pretty good. I caught one of the songs:


More Bright Light Social Hour:

The Bright Light Social Hour Unleash on The Social in Orlando – 5.11.12

Interview: The Bright Light Social Hour Are Coming to Town

Bright Light Social Hour at The Social 12.29.12

Nov 022013

nine-inch-nails-in-orlando-tension-2013The last time I caught Nine Inch Nails was with Queens of the Stone Age here in Orlando and in Tampa. At that point I didn’t see how they could possibly top themselves visually. We would have to make another thrust forward technologically as a species to even conceive something more grandiose. Well, we are not colonizing the moon, but Trent has reconvened and reconfigured NIN for 2013 in a seriously mean way. The visceral attack of the music was as poignant and raw as ever and the light show was astounding. Although it is not what was originally planned, this live line-up for Nails might be the best it’s ever been. Nine Inch Nails always existed at the crossroads of technology and music by seamlessly melding the fury of rock, industrial, and punk with digital and embracing all technologies that underscore the music, enhance the live show, and unite the fan community. The Tension 2013 Tour may be the apogee of Reznor’s vision for NIN.

Oct 242013

Max Cavalera of Soulfly at The Social in OrlandoI’ve lamented on the state of metal in previous posts. I don’t know if I’m just too old to care or metal just isn’t what it used to be and the puss-ification of America only underscores the lack of real heavy metal alternatives. My interview with David Sanchez of HAVOK confirmed some of of my suspicions. Tuesday night’s show was like a breath of fresh air – actually a choking gasp of smoke-filled, metalhead perspiration fart – that brought the crunching, classic sounds of Max Cavalera’s Soulfly and the revelation of a new (to me) thrash metal band that gets it right. The walls of The Social shuddered as the blistering volume of real metal and the swirling mosh pits did their best to reduce the place to rubble.

It sometimes seems that Soulfly is a loud, lazy shadow of what Sepultura was. The songs are short and focus on the devastating riffage and Max’s voice more than pulling off Sepultura classics and Soulfly tracks with precision. Six minute songs feel reduced to 3-minute medley versions of tracks. For instance, I’m sure “Arise” is a 5-minute song that clocks in a 2 and a half minutes at Soulfly shows. BUT it doesn’t matter once the bowel-shaking breakdown comes in the middle of the song. So it comes off as a punk twist to classic metal that Soulfly employs. I’m not sure if that even makes sense. Max’s gritty guitar skronk and thunderous, demonic vocal growls more than make up for anything missed. Add in the fact that his 20-year-old son, Zyon, is an absolute fucking beast on the drums and it is worth the price of admission.

Max Cavalera od Soulfly

Soulfly performing at The Social in Orlando, 2013


HAVOK is new to me and boy I’m glad I found them. There are strands of Slayer, Kreator, Overkill, Megadeth and other classic genius in their DNA, but they are able to churn up their influences and blast out angry, original, and totally for-real thrash metal. Hallelujah! Praise Satan. They are rock solid all the way around and deliver their set with machine gun precision.

*Mental note – Taking pictures at a thrash show is fucking pretty hard. I had to cradle my Canon 60D in my arm like a running back half of the time to ensure it wouldn’t be headbutted out of my hands and stomped to shit.

David Sanchez of HAVOK at The Social in Orlando

Reese Scruggs of HAVOK at The Social in Orlando

David Sanchez of HAVOK headbanging at The Social

Mike Leon of HAVOK at The Social in Orlando

Dave and Reese of HAVOK on stage at The Social in Orlando

Reese of HAVOK on stage at The Social in Orlando

Jul 202013

marilyn-manson-concert-review-from-orlando_kisses-and-noiseMarilyn Manson is not what he used to be. I think the first time I went to see Manson was at the 2003 VooDoo Fest in New Orleans. On the Halloween weekend, this was Manson’s time and he delivered. A loud, aggressive festival pleaser, his set was monstrous and full of energy and elaborate props. He sealed the deal when he jammed the microphone into the ass (a fake ass) of a masked stripper and sang into her presenting rear end. I saw him a year later at the Tabernacle in Atlanta where he eviscerated yet again.

Fast forward to 2007 and his tour with Slayer, which was a mismatch to begin with. Nobody can hang with Slayer. Marilyn didn’t help matters by playing a short, weak set while out of his mind on coke. I’m assuming he was diggin’ into the boogie because after every song he left the stage, walking straight out the back to the loading dock for 3-5 minutes. Every song! He didn’t seem engaged at all and the band seemed off. Following the show the consensus was that Slayer blew him off the stage.

When I saw that Manson was playing at the Hard Rock Live in Orlando I said, “Fuck it, I’ll give him one more chance.” I feel the time is right for a character like MM to make a statement. He was bloated around the middle in a very unhealthy way; like he has some hormonal condition or his adrenals are shot from years of amphetamines. The stage set was chintzy, the show was short – maybe an hour and 15 minutes, the band wasn’t as good as earlier incarnations, and again, one of the best front men in the business was not engaging – even being in his home state. It seems to be the same abbreviated set he is doing opening for Alice Cooper.

He might have been sick and not on drugs (that wouldn’t be as cool, but also explain the constant snot rockets), but seeing him like this and with Slayer makes it look like he’s phoning it in now. I gave the new album, Born Villian, a listen for a few days and I liked its more stripped down, straightforward hard-rock approach. I thought he might be back. He wasn’t.

The great thing about Manson is he still knows how to make an entrance:

He still has all of his grotesqueries; the insane, grim facial contortions and jagged body postures inspired by The Evil Dead as you can see in “Antichrist Superstar”, but his presence is less intense. Even the things that once shocked now seemed contrived. The shredding of bibles and licking of Twiggy’s body just seem like he’s hitting stage marks. I see nastier stuff on Bravo. The shock and awe he once delivered is mainstream – thanks to him – so now it seems tired. He’s really smart and probably has a lot to say about our current state of affairs. I just don’t hear it.

Jun 292013

jeff_tweedy_of_wilco-americanarma-tampa-kisses_and_noiseIt took about two days after the show for me to realize it was the AmericanaramA Fest and not the Americana Fest. It’s like my mind refused to acknowledge the last four letters. The people that run the Americana Music Fest, an acoustic festival in Virginia City, were probably really tired of my irrelevant tweets and @-metions. I will pretty much see My Morning Jacket and Wilco any time, anywhere. Throw in the fact that it’s the legendary B-Dizzle’s show and I will definitely  be there. I’ve never seen Dylan in my life. I can’t say I’ve taken the time to get to know all of his work, but I’m well aware of the history and myth that surround Bob Dylan as well as what his impact on modern music is. Actually two of the supporting bands owe a lot to him.

Bob Weir kicked off the evening’s vibe fest with a solo, acoustic set.

My Morning Jacket was next and despite their lower station on the bill and a setlist that was just over an hour, they killed it. They always do. Here, was a slightly folkier set opening with “Circuital,” dusting off the folk-epic “The Bear” and busting out “Dear Prudence” with Bob Weir.


Wilco was positively awe-inspiring. Like MMJ, the busted out a flawless gem of a set.

“Impossible Germany”

I didn’t see many traditional hippies or Dead-heads considering the line-up. That is until Wilco and Weir whipped out “Friend of the Devil” and I would swear the hippies repelled down from the ceilings. The aisles and walkways were instantly clogged sandal-clad dancers groovin’ the way only white people can.

Dylan played a set that was light on legendary hits and more focused on deeper cuts and recent music. He wasn’t the warbling, unintelligible feeb I thought he would be. He voice was craggy, jagged, angry and aggressive. It seemed more like Tom Waits with a fiery backup band than the godfather of folk.