Rush Entrances Audience at Irvine Meadows

Rush's Geddy Lee at Irvine Meadows. Photo by Scott Feinblatt
Rush has announced that their 2015 tour is likely to be their last, and if their desire is to go out with a bang, then they're doing it. In honor of their stop at Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre [thank the gods -- the name has been reverted back from Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre], sixteen thousand fans packed the joint in a sold out show, and while the age of the fans predominantly tipped the scale towards forty and fifty-year-olds, the forty-year-old act put on a spectacular show that made this tour stop one to remember.

Actually, the band was formed in 1968, making the act forty seven years old, but since drummer / lyricist / songwriter Neil Peart joined bassist / singer Geddy Lee and guitarist Alex Lifeson in 1974, when they released their eponymous first album, it is likely that their first tour together occurred forty years ago. Given that this is a legendary band, which has never since altered its line-up of amazing musicians, too much scrutiny should not be given to this matter. The fact is that they still perform like the incredibly gifted youths that have since inspired many other musicians and pop cultural icons.

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Skapeche Mode Lead a Glowing Local Roster at Slidebar

Skapeche Mode performs at The Slidebar Rock-N-Roll Kitchen. Photo by Scott Feinblatt
The great thing about seeing local bands perform at a local venue (apart from the likelihood that the concert will be free) is that you really get to weigh the band by its musical and performance merits instead of by its popularity or any major buzz that it may have developed. Even in the case of The Radioactive Chicken Heads and Skapeche Mode, which already have developed enough of a following to pack the back room at The Slidebar Rock-N-Roll Kitchen, in Fullerton, the bands must truly shine in order to cultivate, maintain, and expand their fan bases. On Friday night, Slidebar hosted the aforementioned bands as well as Tiktaalik and MELTED, and each band subsequently showed what they could do given around 30 minutes of stage time.

Tiktaalik performs at The Slidebar Rock-N-Roll Kitchen. Photo by Scott Feinblatt
The first up was Tiktaalik. This high-concept, "post-core," three-piece outfit sounded like the soundtrack of someone who was being chased through a junkyard by wind-up robots. The lyrics were not that clearly discernible, but the guitarist / lead singer's Cobainesque shouting at one point seemed to reveal something about voluntary exile into disenfranchisement. The bassist laid down the solid tracks of this roller coaster ride while the drummer's vicious percussive attacks cleared the roller coaster's path with the relentlessness of a wrecking ball.

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Imagine Dragons Breathe Real Fire at Honda Center

Categories: concert review

Imagine Dragons at Honda Center photo by Scott Feinblatt
In a musical world where genuine artistry routinely fights a savage battle with artifice and pop conventions, Imagine Dragons stirs the pot to keep industry players guessing and audiences entertained. When the lads from the Las Vegas band (by way of Provo, Utah) came to Anaheim's Honda Center, they brought with them Halsey and Metric as their opening acts, and the entire show -- all three acts included -- formed a sort of microcosm of the pop music world, with each act progressively demonstrating the evolution of the synthesis of pop and indie rock.

After her start as an Internet sensation, Halsey signed with Astralwerks and released her debut EP Room 93 last October. While she has a good voice, her posturing onstage while she ran through her seven similar sounding songs didn't do much for her street credibility and showed that she had about as much edginess as a snow globe (despite her blue hair). Still, for a 20 year old, who got this far on her own, she deserves some naches, and her song "New Americana" was a memorable number.

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Inglewood eXPERIENCES U2 at The Forum

U2 performing at The Forum. Photo by Scott Feinblatt
The Forum
May 26, 2015

[Editor's Note: Sources have confirmed that U2's longtime tour manager Dennis Sheehan died of a massive heart attack in his hotel room early this morning after the band's show last night. Sheehan,who was in his 60s, had worked with the Irish rockers since 1982. Our deepest condolences to the band and their crew.]

If T-shirts don't lie, then U2 sold out every US date on their "iNNOCENCE + eXPERIENCE TOUR." For, the words "Sold Out" are stamped next to the names of each of the seven cities listed on the official souvenir shirt for their current tour. Considering The Forum, in Inglewood, has a capacity of 17,500 people, and given that even people sitting in some of the lousier seating areas were paying upwards of $250 a pop, it is safe to say that this tour was a success before it began. Regardless, the band put on a great concert.

Visually, the show was incredible. A two-tier catwalk stretched the length of the stadium and was book-ended by two stages, and while both the upper and lower catwalks could be clearly seen with the house lights on, LED walls of imagery alternately concealed the upper catwalk and revealed specific spots along the way, where lead singer Bono would periodically strut. The imagery on the LED screens ranged from stylized artistic vignettes of small town neighborhoods (seen moving as though the audience was looking out the window of a moving train) to dynamic shots from the concert's closed-circuit video feed.

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Ibeyi - Masonic Lodge - April 1, 2015

Lilledeshan Bose
Ibeyi at the Masonic Lodge

April 1, 2015
Masonic Lodge at Hollywood Forever

Ibeyi is a French-Cuban duo made up of 20-year-old twins Naomi and Lisa-Kainde Diaz. To understand the context of their music, we first need a glossary, and some history. Ibeyi (pronounced "ee-bey-ee") means "twins" in Yoruba.

Originally from Nigeria, the Yoruba people were brought to Cuba during the slave trade, and had lasting impact on Cuban culture, language and religion. It was from this culture that the twins' father, Buena Vista Social Club percussionist Anga Diaz, drew his Afro-Cuban beats and rhythms -- a gift that he evidently passed on to his beautiful daughters, even though he passed away when they were 11 years old.

But last night's performance at the Masonic Lodge was less a history lesson than an immersion; it was passionate, and pure and gripping in all ways you never really expect music to be anymore. More »

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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