Thurston Moore Lights Up the Constellation Room

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Thurston Moore Band (photo by Phil Sharp)
Thurston Moore
The Constellation Room
10/11/14

Sonic Youth has always had a cult following. Thus, it was appropriate that folks wanting to see Thurston Moore (the founder of the dormant group) perform at The Observatory had to endure $20 parking, walk a half mile, and shove through thousands of black-clad, sweaty, and drunk Latinos -- attending The Observatory's La Tocada Super Estrella Fest -- in order to cram into the venue's intimate Constellation Room, where they waited an hour and a half past the showtime for the music to begin.

Though one may think that this is not an ideal set of circumstances to experience one of the 100 greatest guitarists (according to both Rolling Stone and Spin), Moore's fans understand that when they attend one of his shows, they will have a transcendental experience which will eclipse any annoyances that may threaten to ruin their days. Moreover, the most profound moments of his art tend to occur when he and his bandmates abandon the realm of mundane existence, forgoing conventional ideas about tonality and diving into profound oceans of distortion and feedback. These excursions are difficult to qualify as anything but noise; however, emotional and spiritual communication often occur beyond the limits of human language, and it is in this domain that Moore has thrived for nearly 35 years.

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Wildcat! Wildcat! Vow to Never Get Old

Categories: Artists We Love

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The video for Wildcat! Wildcat!'s "Mr. Quiche" is a must-watch. Tyler Rumph directed it for one of the first Los Angeles indie-pop outfit's tunes, and it features a giant feline-person realizing he is on the last of his nine lives, so he heads out to the LA streets to use up what are presumably his final hours: He break-dances, talks with strangers, buys goldfish. By the end, he's slipping into a forest, apparently to end his own life before the world gets to him first.

It's a sad, striking clip that syncs with the tonal juxtapositions of Wildcat! Wildcat!'s music. It's akin to experiencing a Ferris wheel ride as the park is about to shut down: There's all this brightness and magic, but there's all this darkness, as well as a sense of foreboding. Using sumptuous keyboard lines, carefully thumping drums and drifting vocals, the music rides a line between sunny and miserable.


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The Buzzcocks Kill at Bang! Festival

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The Buzzcocks photo by Scott Feinblatt
Bang! Festival
The Observatory
9/20/14

Over time, the typical arc in the life of rock musicians reveals that they are no less whores than any other type of celebrity. Laziness and age beget compromise, and, of course, money makes people do crazy things. However, Saturday night at the Bang! Music Festival (hosted by The Observatory and sponsored by the Weekly), headlining punk rockers The Buzzcocks proved that they are just as full of piss, vinegar and spit as they were nearly 40 years ago.

Sandwiched between headlining acts Los Lobos and X, the raw punk energy of The Buzzcocks stood out. Each of the headliners was allotted a one hour set, and as soon as The Buzzcocks took to the stage, not a second was wasted. There were literally one to five second intervals between each of their upbeat, high-energy songs -- each of which was played appropriately loud. In fact, from the moment guitarist Steve Diggle slung the first of his guitars and strummed it, he ordered the sound man to increase the volume. It's hard to tell whether he was the culprit or an unheeded voice of reason in the off-balance mix of the first few songs in their set. From the first song, the band established a vigorous momentum, and by about the fourth song, the mix was appropriately adjusted, allowing for the discernment of the delicate timbre of Pete Shelley's voice.


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Ian Anderson - Segerstrom Hall - September 18, 2014

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Ian Anderson, Southampton UK, 2014. Photo by Martin Webb
Ian Anderson
Segerstrom Hall
9/18/2014

Segerstrom Hall is not a typical venue for a rock concert. It frequently hosts musicals, classical acts, and dance extravaganzas, and the audiences it usually hosts are quintessentially the "white-hairs" of Orange County. However, Ian Anderson's show is not your everyday rock; the legendary musician's show is quite theatrical, and Segerstrom was an ideal venue for him to perform his new album, Homo Erraticus, as well as a set of Jethro Tull's greatest hits.

The show was reminiscent of Neil Young's Greendale tour in that it consisted of a multi-media presentation of a concept-album followed by a satisfying throwback to old times -- a sure way to appeal to classicists. The Homo Erraticus album consists of folksy Irish motifs, powerhouse progressive rock jams, and challenging lyrical content. [see the Weekly's interview with Ian Anderson on the creation of the album] Prior to the Homo Erraticus set, a short introductory film showed Anderson and his bandmates as a patient and his doctors, respectively, at a remote sanitarium. The doctors pull the sheet over the dormant Anderson, declaring him dead, and file out of the room. Anderson then pulls the sheet back, mutters a bit [it was hard to tell what he said due to the crowd's woots], climbs out of bed, extracts his flute from a nearby cabinet, and leaves the sanitarium.

See also: Ian Anderson's Idea of Rock-n-Roll is More Complex Than You Know


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Ian Anderson's Idea of Rock-n-Roll is More Complex Than You Know

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Press Image of Jethro Tull from a 1977 Concert
Rock music is not typically thought of as a vehicle for profound commentary. Granted, the music of classic rock acts like Pink Floyd and Yes provide meditative grooves that are just as deeply poetic as they are good to listen to while stoned, but the progressive rock of Ian Anderson (whose band Jethro Tull was also a product of 60's England) is just as whimsically laced with satire and gobbledygook as it is overtly didactic. His latest album, Homo Erraticus, is the third entry in his Thick as a Brick Trilogy, which includes Thick as a Brick (released by Jethro Tull in 1972 and hailed by Rolling Stone as "one of rock's most sophisticated and ground-breaking products") and Thick as a Brick 2 (released by Ian Anderson in 2012).

The three albums make use of the narrative character Gerald Bostock, who light-heartedly flaunts archaic and cryptic verbiage while commenting on sociology and geopolitics. And while it can be argued that occasionally obvious political commentary is not a trait of profundity, the conceptual scope of the album -- to say nothing of its excellently orchestrated musical aspects -- is testament to its greatness. Anderson will be performing his latest album as well as a selection of Jethro Tull's greatest hits at Segerstrom Hall on September 18.


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Chuck Ragan Has Some Crazy Alt-Folk Fish Stories

Categories: Artists We Love

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Lisa Johnson
After a hiatus in 2005, the former guitar-wielding front man of post-punk outfit Hot Water Music embarked on a path into rugged folk-rock. And nine years later, Chuck Ragan's latest album, Till Midnight, is the 39-year-old's most lyrically compelling, well-rounded effort yet. The emotion and continuity on Till Midnight arguably stem from a preproduction session at Ragan's home, where his band, the Camaraderie, made time to gel into a solid unit. Though Wednesday's show will be a stripped-down solo performance, there's no doubt the alt-folk troubadour will bring the collaborative fruits of Till Midnight to the Coach House stage.

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Ty Segall Went "Insane a Little Bit" Working on His New Album

Categories: Artists We Love

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Denee Petracek
By: Liz Tracy

He is the man that your head-banging, no-good punk ass needs to thank immediately for keeping rock 'n' roll brash, beautifully loud, unpredictable, and incredibly exciting.

Over the course of six years and dozens of albums, EPs, and singles, Ty Segall, the 27-year-old Orange County-bred and Bay Area-ripened rock virtuoso, has industriously infused an almost antiquated genre with new sounds and new life, as he blends the dark delights of Sabbath and the trippiness of psych with the million other brilliant strains of fuzzy tuneage that swirl forever through the hidden chambers of his kaleidoscopic mind.

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Hot Snakes Prove That a Band With Two Drummers is Twice as Good

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Hot Snakes' first two records (2000's Automatic Midnight and 2002's Suicide Invoice) feature Jason Kourkounis on drums, but the band's third release, 2004's Audit in Progress, was recorded with drummer Mario Rubalcaba, who became a permanent member for the group's final two years. So, when singer/guitarist Rick Froberg, guitarist John Reis and bassist Gar Wood decided to reunite in 2011, they had a decision to make.

Luckily for fans, the threesome opted to include both Kourkounis and Rubalcaba, allowing each drummer to perform the material he recorded. Taking a quick break mid-set to change skinsmen might sound odd, but it's not. In fact, it's fucking awesome not only because audiences get to see both versions of Hot Snakes but because Kourkounis and Rubalcaba are phenomenal drummers who deserve to be heard.

Still, having two drummers isn't the norm, which is why I spoke to Rubalcaba and Kourkounis in regards to their band's upcoming show at Alex's Bar in Long Beach on Sept. 18 to find out what they plan on doing when the other guy is on stage.

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Yes - The Greek Theatre - August 24, 2014

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Yes performing at The Greek Theatre (photo by Scott Feinblatt)
Yes
The Greek Theatre
August 24, 2014

It seems to be a trend of late for legendary bands to dust off and perform their legendary albums. Last night, Yes performed two of theirs, Close to the Edge and Fragile. The band's extensive current tour began just a few days before the release of their latest album, Heaven & Earth, but it is not curious why their set only included two songs from the new album, which they played in between the vintage albums. The new album has not been receiving great praise, but perhaps this is because it has been 40 years since the progressive rockers began charting new cosmic territory.

Since that time, the band has seen numerous permutations in its line-up, and it is no surprise that it has never encapsulated so pure a manifestation of vision and virtuosity as it did on those two albums. Nevertheless, all history, drama, and art versus business speculations aside, there was something incredible happening on stage at the Greek Theatre. By taking a potent magical spell and casting it with aplomb, able magicians can easily entrance their legions and adherents.

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Why George Clinton Matters

Categories: Artists We Love

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Photo By Groove House
[Editor's Note: Kris Needs is the author of "George Clinton and the Cosmic Odyssey of the P-Funk Empire," Clinton's first in-depth biography. It was released in June on Omnibus Press. Needs wrote this essay about Clinton's cultural impact exclusively for Heard Mentality.]

By: Kris Needs

Let me tell you all about the one and only George Clinton, who can be placed alongside James Brown, Jimi Hendrix and Sly Stone as the most visionary and influential black music pioneer to emerge from the incendiary 1960s but is now the only one of those figureheads still taking it to the stage.

While America was embroiled in war and socio-cultural revolution during the '60s, Clinton was reinventing funk by mating it with rock and changing rock by mixing it with funk, giving birth to the influential psychedelic soul style that has made him the most sampled artist in hip-hop. His synthesized funk of the late 1970s and early '80s created a new strain of techno-soul that laid the foundations for today's electronic dance music.

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