May 042013

billy_corgan_of_smashing_pumpkins_in_st_augustineOK. This was a crazy show for a bunch of reasons.

First, a Class 3 Killstorm swallowed much of Central Florida. Driving to the St. Augustine Amphitheater from Orlando was a delicate situation as tropical storm-like rains drove down in sheets. And the rain never let up. It was actually worse when the show ended.

Second, the old person-friendly venue was irritating. Now I love the St. Augustine Amphitheater and have proclaimed that before, but it has some serious flaws. The show was set to start at 7:45. It did despite the awful traffic snarl out front that was mostly caused by the venues poor management of the parking situation to begin with. So as people parked miles from the park (for some reason there isn’t enough parking to support the capacity of the amphitheater), waited in lines getting drenched to the bone, and rode school buses over, the band started.  When the show ended, venue employees were inches away from using cattle prods to get people off the property. The rain was of biblical proportions but there was no quarter to be found on the property. Yes it is a state park and it closes, but you invited thousands of people and the weather was foreboding to say the least.

Finally, the show itself was wrought with technical issues brought on by the rain. The covered amphitheater was drenched as rain came in through the sides and seams of the tarp. The stage appeared to have at least an inch of standing water in places. Reports from the floor said there was absolutely no sound as the venue monitors above projected past the floor and the ones flanking the stage were pushed out far, possibly because of the rain. The volume was deafening in the stands though. During the apocalyptic “And through the eyes of a jackal!” climax of “XYU” Billy was experiencing an outage with his amp or effects board. Hunched and poised for the scream, he began tapping then punching and kneeing his guitar. Techs scrambled as Corgan giggled and goaded the audience. The crowd was forgiving and roared along with him. At one point during “The Chimera” a transformer blew. The sky went red and purple then everything but the stage amps went out. The colossal lighted pyramid, the mics, the drum mics, the stage lighting, and the venue monitors all went out, but the band charged on garage style for a minute or two until one-by-one parts of the stage and rigging whirred back to life.

“The Chimera”proves to be excellent live, but since I heard that in Melbourne I was hoping for another song from the 1-2-3 face punch that rounds out Oceania. That includes “The Chimera,” “Glissandra,” and “Inkless.” I really wanted to hear “Inkless” that night. To my dismay, Billy has departed from the deep-cuts setlist that had the tendency to break out into 30 minute prog-metals space jams from ’07-’08 in favor of a leaner, meaner, more paced setlist a la 2010. The concerts have gone from the Billy and Jimmy garage jam to more of a cohesive, straight-forward band effort. This seems to delight audiences as shows since 2010 are mostly sold out and have an enormously positive response from the crowd. I think the jammy SP would have played an unplanned “Transformer” when the power went out or even “Raindrops and Sunshowers” because of the weather (even though the crowd that waited for them outside at the Hard Rock Live free show in 2008 during an actual tropical storm didn’t get a special nod either), but this show ran like clockwork and ended on time with a rocking version of “Today” that was dedicated to Slayer’s Jeff Hanneman who died earlier that day. And no, no impromptu “Angel of Death” for Jeff.


*Billy picture via Get Amped Magazine

VIP Pre-Show Highlight

Always adding value and unique expereinces for fans, he Pumpkins are doing VIP pre-shows for those with more disposable cash than myself. Here they played “Ugly” a Mellon Collie b-side or Aeroplane Flies High track. They also open the floor up for Q&A with Pumpkin heads.

The answer here gets pretty interesting when he brings it around to his working relationship with Jimmy Chamberlin.

May 022013

chris_robinson_of_the_black_crowes-HOB_orlando-kisses_and_noiseThe Black Crowes bring two kinds of shows these days; the long-form 3 hour smack down and the tighter, 2 hour rock show. Their 2010 tour featured an acoustic set, a set break, and an electric set that created all sorts of room for the band to stretch out around old and new songs. The Lay Down with Number 13 tour is the two hour variety. This would be plenty for most bands, but with the Crowes it seems like light duty. The setlist continues to morph from night to night and highlights at the HOB included opening with a one-two punch of “Twice as Hard” and “Sting Me” (not quite as strong as the 1-2-3 in St. Pete of “Jealous Again,” “Thick n Thin,” and “Hotel Illness”) and the true to Amorica “Ballad in Urgency / Wiser Times” power jam. In St. Pete, Jackie brought out the banjo for “Garden Gate” and last night he busted out the mandolin for “Whoa Mule.” They closed much stronger than they did at The Mahffey Theater in St. Pete with the “Hard to Handle / Hush” medley. It really feels like this is a test run to get Jackie Greene’s sea legs, but it’s great to hear.

The band came across laid back, not slow, but relaxed as Steve kept the tempos from speeding up in concert, creating a comfy little pocket to nestle up in all night.

“Thorn in my Pride”

Apr 132013

Anthrax performing at the House of Blues in Orlando without Scotty IanMetal fans at the House of Blues were greeted by four members of Anthrax around 9:40 pm to deliver some disheartening news. Frank and Joey disclosed that they had just left Scott Ian’s side at the hospital where he was diagnosed with food poisoning. Although Scotty’s night had gotten decidedly shitty, the rest of the guys were going to soldier on and give Orlando “the best god damn Anthrax show they could get.” Anthrax is a true band. They are not Anthrax without Joey. They don’t feel the same without Frank or Danny (although Dan’s successors have been phenomenal), they wouldn’t be the same band without Charlie, and they certainly couldn’t be Anthrax without the wicked, grinding crunch of founding member, Scotty’s rhythm guitar and stage banter, right? Sort of. Note: Some fans may differ, but I say this because I mostly tuned out during the non-Belladonna years.

I assumed that a guitar tech might fill in thunderous effect that Scott brings, but Shadows Fall shredder extraordinaire, Jon Donais, shouldered the load himself. The band was blistering and tight and so loud that they did a commendable job in the situation with such short notice. Fucking pros. As promised, they played Among the Living in its entirety (well, “Imitation of Life” wasn’t played), but not in sequence. I’m not sure if it was a last minute change due to Ian’s absence or if they’ve been doing it that way. Listening to the videos again it is more obvious that a guitar is missing than being drunk at the live show:

“I Am the Law”

They busted out “TNT” and Joey did a better-than-Bon-Scott Bon Scott from their collection of 70s arena jams titled Anthems

“Indians” Besides the 2-guitar assault, Scotty was missed during classic banter moments like the Waaaar Daaaaance!

“Got the Time” is one of my favorites. It’s so catchy that despite being hard and fast even non-metal fans can’t help but to like it:

“I’m the Man” is another one where Scott’s absence was glaring. The thick New York accent gives the rock/rap some cred and he is the yin to Frank’s yang on this one. They closed with a “drum solo/ I’m the Man / Antisocial” medley. At one point – somewhere between I’m the Man and Antisocial – people in the pit began vomiting in unison. I thought maybe Scotty was spreading the disease (get it?) from afar, but it was more likely the mixture of beer and exercise, but about 5 or 6 people began vomiting in close proximity of one another a la the pie eating contest in Stand By Me. Metal!!!!

Come to think of it, I don’t think Exodus played because Municipal Waste was before Anthrax. So Scott got sick and Exodus wasn’t even at this show.

Feb 262013

Muse concert review in OrlandoOpening band, Dead Sara, was pretty good. Their LA roots bled through with a sound that was equal parts 80s Sunset Strip cock rock and 90s alt rock. The band was tight and lead by a singer with a powerful voice that aroused me sexually.

Speaking of arousal, Muse gives me a (rock) hard-on. Matthew Bellamy basically stood next to the Amway Arena and chopped it down with the edge of his hand. His Thom Yorke-ish croon and effortless, Corgan-like avalanche of heavy, flailing guitar couples with a thunderous rhythm section and sounds like a prog-rock Queen on steroids. Christopher Wolstenholm crunched out distorted bass lines and drumming heavyweight, Dominic Howard, pummeled his left-handed kit ruthlessly. Clever left-handed drummers always seem a cut above.


I first saw Muse at Coachella in 2004. They played at about 3 o’clock in the afternoon, under a blazing sun to 200 lounging festival-goers and rocked like they were headlining MSG. It wasn’t the 120 degree heat that was melting faces. Muse brought the same intensity with a polished presentation in a top notch and a mildly subversive multimedia show. Scrolling images of banks, bankers, and stock tickers beamed across an elaborate collection of LED screens. Anthemic lyrics like, “Time has come to make things right / You and I must fight for our rights / You and I must fight to survive” blazed on the same screens. As the first set ended, a Q-bert-like levitating pyramid of televisions filled with MSM talking heads flickered and swirled, eventually swallowing the band as they worked in an outro that was the riff from Rage Against the Machine’s “Freedom.” It all seemed like a rallying cry for our leery zeitgeist. I wanted to scream, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!”


“Stockholm Syndrome”

Dec 042012

Image of Silversun PickupsSilversun Pickups swirled quietly into town last night and put on a hell of a show despite lackluster audience attendance. Touring behind a modest departure in Neck of the Woods I expected a larger audience as this record lets the new Smashing Pumpkins (as I like to call them) stretch their legs a little bit and lean even more on the sonic wizardry of Joe Lester. They were also minus a super preggers Nikki Monninger. Filling in for her was vivacious indie super-cutie, Sarah Negahdari.


Nov 292012

I’m pretty hard on 2-man bands and even harder on laptop bands. The White Stripes are the quintessential 2-piece garage rockers with a superior singer / songwriter / musician at the helm. They write great songs and can rock small venues, but despite their prowess (well, Jack’s anyway) they can be really weak at festivals and large theaters. Same for the Black Keys and just about anybody else in that boat (canoe). Vancouver’s Japandroids like volume and embrace the loud, spacey shoegaze, Pumpkin-style guitar, which helps them out a great deal. Touring behind one of the best albums of 2012 doesn’t hurt either. They rocked The Social on Tuesday, but I fear I wouldn’t want to see them at a larger venue as some of the power of their tunes would be lost in a bigger space without the dynamics of more musicians.

Nov 102012

Marlon Brando and Samel Herring of Future Islands
I didn’t know much about Future Islands before this show so I was surprised to hear the 80s influenced synth pop band have a singer that floated somewhere between Morissey and Meatloaf with sprinkles of death metal snarls worthy of Glen Benton. It was even more surprising to see him strut and pantomime in sensible shoes, high-waist pants, and fitted muscle T. This was all so weird and so charming. Then it hit me. He’s goin’ for a sort of what-if-young-Brando-fronted-an-indie-band thing. The passionate, poetic lyrics served with a dose method acting further underscored that Samuel Herring is a dead ringer for Marlon Brando (somewhere between young Brando and older pre-fat Marlon). I was reminded that I was at an indie show when I leaned over to one of the younger girls in the group and said, “He’s going for a young Brando thing” and she looked befuddled. “You know, Marlon Brando. On the Waterfront, Streetcar Named Desire, motherfucking Apocalypse Now?!!!!! No? What the fuck? Really? Fuck off.” He was in his prime 20 years before I was born and did his last great film when I was like 4-years old so there’s no excuse not to know who he is if you don’t live in a fucking convent, which probably has high-speed internet anyway. What is it with young people? They are so quick to remind you how young they are and that they couldn’t know who that is. You have the fucking internet you fucking idiots! You should know more at 20 than I do now. Fuck!

Oct 302012

Sharon Van Etten at The Social in Orlando

I was about half way through Sharon’s opening song before I realized she wasn’t Sarah Jaffe. I’m not sure how I got their latest releases completely confused, but I did. It was hard to peel myself away from football and a new episode of Walking Dead to attend a show I thought might be a folky estrogen fest, but for the third or fourth time in recent history I was caught completely off guard by a powerful performance that I thought would be a snoozer act. Sharon charmed her way through an expertly paced set with a coy smile and playful banter. First, I was surprised at how un-power-dike she was. I was really expecting a scruffy Lillith Fair type. Next, at how young she is or appears to be. It was startling how much wisdom and emotion pours out of the fingers and vocal chords of a such a young lady. The band was tight and the songs ranged from tender to powerful. She battled with the thudding hip hop beats next door working in cute little dance moves as she tuned her guitar. She played the omnichord, the harmonium (pictured above), drank shots, and all-in-all walloped her first Orlando audience.

Sharon Van Etten playing live at The Social

See More Shots from the Show on Tampa’s Music Blog, Suburban Apologist (link coming soon)

Oct 032012

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah is one of my favorite bands of recent years. From their DIY beginnings to their more recent rock ‘n roll drama, Alec Ounsworth’s David Byrne meets Dylan vocals in front of their grooving indie pop possesses a certain allure for me. Despite their line-up changes they took the stage at Jannus Landing in St. Petersburg and sounded great working through a setlist that touched every album while avoiding some of their bigger hits.

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah performing live at Jannus Live
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah performing live at Jannus Landing
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah performing live at Jannus Landing in St. Petersburg, FL

Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeroes played to an eager audience just as the Gulf skies opened up on one of the coolest venues in Florida. The neo-hippy cult with a penchant for powerful singalongs did not disappoint. They could be compared to the Polyphonic Spree (I guess), but their members all have valid contributions to the music and their songs are better.

Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes at Jannus Live in St. Pete
Alex Ebert of Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes at Jannus Live in St. Pete
Alex Ebert of Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes at Jannus Landing

Read the full review on Tampa’s premiere music blog, Suburban Apologist

Sep 112012

Doug Martsch of Built to Spill talking to Orlando fans

Built to Spill‘s sound always reminded me of Dinosaur Jr. meets Modest Mouse with a propensity to use crushing guitar interspersed with jangly riffs and a drunken, sad humanist perspective. They also have the same northwestern vibe that MM does with a low-fi approach to live shows that puts an emphasis wholly on the musical performance and no matter the quality of the show it is always riddled with long pauses, self tuning of guitars, and constant muttering complaints about the sound and lighting. It’s the same “I don’t give a fuck” attitude that has the band looking like they rolled out of bed in their clothes with a Sunday morning hangover and took the stage.

Built to Spill

Last night at The Social was no exception. In fact the lighting and sound dissatisfaction hit epic proportions as the band warmed up and settled into a short-ish but nicely mixed set. The lights lacked any dynamics – either being off or on. When the lights were on the band complained about the brightness. Then the lights were turned off. After two songs in near darkness BTS was like, “WTF?” It seemed like a passive-aggressive revenge being exacted on the band for an unknown cause. Constant calls from various band members to adjust volume and lighting led to some jabs about the competency of the lighting and sound techs. At one point Doug Martsch tried to find an audience member that could work the lights.

Does anyone know what happened here? Let me know below.

Built to Spill performing in Orlando

Robbed of the support given by good lighting the band thundered through their setlist and ended their first set with a rousing “Carry the Zero.” A 3-song encore was punctuated by a soaring 20-minute space jam of “Broken Chairs.”

“Goin’ Against Your Mind

“Broken Chairs”