Reel Big Fish Pay Homage to Sublime and Marilyn Manson

Categories: concert review

Priscella Vega
Aaron Barrett of Reel Big Fish
Reel Big Fish
City National Grove of Anaheim

Playing in a ska band doesn't pay the bills, nor does it guarantee a quick ticket to stardom (at least, not since the '90s). But if there's one thing that Orange County's ska troupe Reel Big Fish proved last night, it's that playing ska sure as hell guarantees a devoted fan base.

Reel Big Fish and Florida's Less Than Jake performed to a fairly packed venue at the Grove of Anaheim last night with fans that ranged from punk rockers, to the average ska fan and even a group of bros who were taking endless group selfies and instigating mosh pits during the most inappropriate songs.

Either way, for two bands that rely heavily on the same jokes, silly antics and perform the standard setlist each tour, last night wasn't too shabby of a turn out for the bands or the fans.

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Skinny Puppy - Fox Pomona - December 20, 2014

Photo of Ogre from Skinny Puppy by Scott Feinblatt
Skinny Puppy
Fox Pomona

Though Skinny Puppy's Live Shapes for Arms tour (which was in support of their most recent album, Weapon) took place earlier this year, the Eye vs. Spy tour was essentially the Director's Cut of that tour, and on Saturday evening, the tour ended at the Fox Theater in Pomona.

The golden age movie palace was a perfect venue for the show. First, while the remote location may not have been the most convenient for Orange County or Los Angeles fans, it enhanced the sentiment that events like this are not so much rock concerts as they are cult gatherings, and industrial music lovers evidently had no problem making the pilgrimage and packing the house. Secondly, Skinny Puppy puts on an extremely theatrical show, and the lush, Art Deco theater was a perfect complement.

See also: Skinny Puppy's Sound Inspires Nightmares From Here to Gitmo

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Fleetwood Mac's Tearful Tribute to Local Cancer Patient

Fleetwood Mac at Honda Center. Photo by Scott Feinblatt
Fleetwood Mac
Honda Center

If there's one nostalgic rock band the world needed to see reunite this year, it was Fleetwood Mac. And more specifically, it's millenials who seemed to need them the most. Aside from their noted influence on artists of the last decade, they've become one of the top rediscovered acts among the bohemian hipster set over the last couple years. Add that to the sheer brilliance of their performance as the band's immortal members hit the back end of their 60s, and you have a recipe for an amazing show at the Honda Center last night.

The show was a veritable kaleidoscope of entertainment. It consisted of a great set, terrific performances, a narrative thread of song introductions, a very impressive backing film, and the homecoming of Christine McVie. McVie's rejoining of bandmates Lindsey Buckingham, Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, and Stevie Nicks, after a 16 year absence, provided the centerpiece of the show's nostalgic feeling.

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John Waters Explains the Joy of Stealing Presents on Christmas

John Waters at Coach House. Photo by Scott Feinblatt
A John Waters Christmas
The Coach House
December 3, 2014

John Waters has always been a champion of bad taste. If you read our feature story on him last week, then you know that the artistic polymath dubbed "The Pope of Trash" uses that sensibility to offer a few unique notions about Christmas as well. Last night at The Coach House, he explained them to a South County audience as part of his lauded one-man show.

His hour and a half long monologue of story telling, opinions, and wishes touched upon holiday traditions, gifting practices, and Santa Claus fashions. Waters also ventured beyond the holiday theme to discuss the Easter Bunny, airline travel, and gay culture. Each of his topics was suitably branded with Waters's spins, which range in flavor from profanely disgusting to delightfully grotesque.

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GWAR - The Observatory - November 3, 2014

Vulvatron introduces herself and her special ability. Photo by Scott Feinblatt

The Observatory
November 3, 2014

Gwar is a legendary band whose reputation usually entices would-be audience members to seek them out, sneer at them, or simply become bug-eyed at the stories. To see them perform is like watching characters from the Warhammer Fantasy world perform a Banana Splits routine.

The satirical, thrash metal, costume band is 30 years old and has had the occasional rotation of all its performers with the one constant of founding member Dave Brockie (also known by his stage name, Oderus Urungus). In March, Brockie died of a heroin overdose, and the absence of his stage persona was not lost to the other outrageously costumed characters in their latest performance; in fact, the storyline of the band's first post-Urungus show centers on trying to locate the missing lead singer.

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In Seventh Year, Long Beach Zombie Walk Conquers New Territory

Mac Sabbath plays Long Beach Zombie Walk 2014. Photo by Scott Feinblatt

Despite the fact that the nearly mainstream zombie subculture revolves around hideous imagery and concepts (i.e. re-animated corpses, cannibalism, and an apocalyptic paradigm), zombie walks have become increasingly family-friendly. Now in its seventh year, the Long Beach Zombie Walk expanded the typically one-day event to three days and moved it from the city blocks of Downtown Long Beach (where it was last year) back down to Rainbow Lagoon Park (across the street from where it was in 2012). While this shift did accommodate more entertainment programming and increase the convenience for guests to schedule their attendance, it also, likely, caused the overall decreased headcount per day.

On day one (Friday, Oct. 4), Dr. Demento played host, there was a zombie prom, and the classic Edgar Wright / Simon Pegg horror spoof Shaun of the Dead was screened. On the following day, the official zombie walk occurred, and George A. Romero's Night of the Living Dead, the quintessential zombie film, was screened. On the third day, there were a series of themed wrestling matches by Vendetta Pro Wrestling, a children's costume contest, and, in keeping with the children's theme, a screening of the film ParaNorman.

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Army of the Pharaohs - The Observatory - October 22, 2014

Categories: concert review

David Garcia
Vinnie Paz of Army of the Pharaohs

By: David Garcia

Army Of The Pharaohs
The Observatory

On October 22, fans of underground hip-hop had a very rare opportunity to catch Philadelphia's Army Of The Pharaohs live at The Observatory in Santa Ana. What one would assume to be a quiet Wednesday night was quite the opposite once inside the building walls of what has become known as Orange County's hotspot for live music of all genres.

Starting off the night were a couple of rhyme-spitting duos known as DMC and Children Of A Lesser Fraud. The latter of the two, made up by Anu322 and 2Mex, performed in preparation of a full-length album that they plan to release in February of 2015, with AOTP's producer featured on several tracks.

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Moon Block Party - Pomona Fairplex - October 18, 2014

Corners performs at Moon Block Party (Photo by Scott Feinblatt)
Moon Block Party
Pomona Fairplex

The ethos of Phil Pirrone's Moon Block Party music festival is that it is "like a block party on the moon." This third annual event was thrown at the Pomona Fairplex, last Saturday, by Pirrone and his collective of artists and musicians. The event's website encouraged attendees to come dressed in "astronaut gear" or in an "alien 'costume,'" but while no one seemed to take the encouragement literally, plenty of colorful concertgoers turned up for this terrific festival.

The program for the one-day music festival consisted of 22 acts, performing on three stages; clothing, art, and food vendors; and a costume contest. The sets of the multitudinous bands lasted from a half hour to just over an hour -- the headlining bands' sets were the longest. Throughout the day, there were typically two performances occurring at any given time, and none of the set times were completely identical; so, upon the completion of one band's performance, its audience would collectively shuffle across the fairground of the horse-racing track / field and see what they had been missing at one of the other two stages.

See also: Creating Moon Block Party's Spacey Vibe Takes a Lot of Focus

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Thurston Moore Lights Up the Constellation Room

Thurston Moore Band (photo by Phil Sharp)
Thurston Moore
The Constellation Room

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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The Buzzcocks Kill at Bang! Festival

The Buzzcocks photo by Scott Feinblatt
Bang! Festival
The Observatory

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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