Top Five OC Concerts of 2010

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Andrew Youssef/OC Weekly
Blonde Redhead at the Glass House on Nov. 15.
Let's be real: Orange County isn't exactly the mecca for the greatest concerts of all time. But when national bands play around here, we expect some great music. And no, I'm not talking about Justin Bieber--we just like to make fun of him on a daily basis. We've recapped a year full of musical surprises and excitement, and we are hoping to build on that for an even better 2011.

5. Sonic Youth
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Andrew Youssef/OC Weekly
Fox Theater

By the time Sonic Youth took the stage the audience seemed to have magically doubled and the roar ripped through like Santa Ana winds. The crowd's cacophony, though, had nothing on Sonic Youth as they tore into a nuclear "No Way." Thurston Moore appeared larger than life, his custom, namesake Fender Jazzmaster looking like a toy matched against his lanky frame. Ranaldo showed no ill effects from his broken wrist as he hammered away at his custom namesake Fender Jazzmaster guitar while singing lead on "Walkin' Blue." A triple attack of guitars and vocals from Gordon, Ranaldo and Moore had heads bobbing throughout the venue.  

The punk vitrol of "'Cross The Breeze" had a pit breakout in the center of the floor as I noted that Steve Shelley might be one of the more under-appreciated drummers in alternative rock. The man is a monster behind the kit. Ranaldo could barely believe the response from the crowd during the second encore, asking "Are you all really from Pomona?" "Expressway to Yr. Skull" ended the evening with the kind of symphonic feedback swirl that Sonic Youth pretty much invented and continues to do better than any band on the planet.  (Andrew Youssef)

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Andrew Youssef/OC Weekly
November 15, 2010

A dimly lit stage with flickering light bulbs perfectly set the stage for Blonde Redhead. Supporting their new album Penny Sparkle, the subtle surge of synthesizers were sonically interjected by Amedeo Pace's weaving guitar parts during "Black Guitar." 

Simone Pace was a wizard behind his drum kit triggering samples as well as adding a flurry of live drums to "Here Sometimes" as the synthesizers sounded extra buzzy and much more prominent in the mix. After spending a lot of time with the album, it was impressive to see that Blonde Redhead were adding extra layers of sound to the live versions of their new songs giving them an extra kick.

Wire like guitar squalls of "In Particular" meshed perfectly with the heavy bass drum beat, as I spotted some dancing in the crowd. Makino showed off her keyboard skills for "SW" while the  propulsive beat lured in the listener. "Spain" had several additional sonic layers compared to the recorded version as the inclusion of tiny snippets of guitars and a swell of synthesized strings that perked up my ears. (Andrew Youssef)

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Andrew Youssef/OC Weekly

September 15,2010

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club returned to kick off the second leg of their tour behind their album Beat The Devil's Tattoo at the Glass House. Wisps of smoke rolled across the stage setting the menacing atmosphere for the destructive tones of "War Machine". Resembling loud artillery blasts, Robert Been attacked his bass creating sub sonic frequencies.

"Berlin" was propelled by the hi-hat hisses and hard driving drums of Leah Shapiro. The overall volume of the show seemed to surpass 10 as I felt it was trying to match the energy on stage during "Weapon of Choice". Been sat down at the piano for the haunting "Annabel Lee" that reverberated throughout the Glass House.

The lights switched to an ominous red for "Red Eyes and Tears" as Peter Hayes crushed his wah pedal to amplify the screams emitting from his guitar. Keeping in line with darkness and shadows, "Beat The Devil's Tattoo" had intense bursts of strobe lights that matched the evil infused beat. Only a band like Black Rebel Motorcycle Club can alternate from the ground shaking fuzz of "Love Burns" to the dusky acoustic folk of "Ain't No Easy Way." (Andrew Youssef)


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