Gershwin's Americana at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater

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Photo by Scott Feinblatt
Pacific Symphony
Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre
7/20/14

From alt rock acts to classical orchestras, the cozy and scenic Verizon Wireless Amphitheater, formerly (and more dignifiedly) known as Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre, has hosted many types of concerts and musical festivals. And although music appreciation depends upon the taste of the individual, it is difficult to imagine that the strains of George Gershwin's most popular compositions would not command respect from anyone who heard them performed -- much less all in one program. On the evening of Sunday, July 20, Carl St. Clair opened his 25th season as the Musical Director and Conductor of the Pacific Symphony with performances of An American in Paris, Rhapsody in Blue, selections from Porgy and Bess, and the "Overture" from Strike Up the Band.

Gershwin is popularly regarded as one of the prototypical American composers. He synthesized classical music with jazz and yielded wonderfully theatrical music, which has become hallmark Americana. Gershwin referred to Rhapsody in Blue (1924) as "a musical kaleidoscope of America." It has been influential on numerous musicians and has featured prominently in many movies -- most notably as Woody Allen's theme for New York in Manhattan and in Baz Luhrmann's recent film adaptation of The Great Gatsby.

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The Dwarves and The Queers - Alex's Bar - July 16, 2014

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Ryan Ritchie
The Dwarves
The Dwarves and The Queers
Alex's Bar
7/16/2014

As far as Dwarves shows go, last night's at Alex's Bar was fairly uneventful. And by that, I mean no one got naked, stabbed, punched or vomited on. Then again, the self-proclaimed best band ever (seriously, they have a song called "The Dwarves Are Still The Best Band Ever") ditched their infamous on-stage debauchery sometime in the mid to late 1990s, so if you went to Long Beach looking for sex and violence, you were probably let down.

That said, the current Dwarves -- singer Blag Dahlia, guitarist The Fresh Prince of Darkness, bassist Chip Fracture and drummer Gregory Pecker -- still fucking rule. Of course, the absence of long-time guitarist HeWhoCannotBeNamed was sorely missed, but anytime a naked man in a wrestling mask isn't somewhere, absences will be sorely missed.


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Ted Nugent Stalks His Prey at The Grove

Categories: concert review

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Scott Feinblatt
Ted Nugent
City National Grove of Anaheim
July 14, 2014

There are certain people who simply create their own gravity. They exist in all walks of life and in all professions. The species are easy to identify, yet a cloud of mystery typically enshrouds them, hiding the answer to the question: "Is this guy for real, or is it all flash and dazzle?" The truth, likely, exists somewhere in between -- case in point, Ted Nugent.

Nugent brought his show to City National Grove of Anaheim this weekend, and it cannot be said that he did not tear the roof off the joint. The 65-year-old hard rocker, who has gone by the names Sweaty Teddy, The Nuge, The Motor City Madman, and Uncle Ted, is a textbook showman whose concerts are just as much about music as they are about production. The image that stands upon the stage is drenched in red, white, and blue, and braggadocio pours from his mouth. He espouses Right Wing ideology; he beams that he has been drug and alcohol free his entire life; he claims that in the kingdom of guitar heaven he is a god; and he never ceases plugging his image or his various projects. Despite all that noise, he still puts on a great show!


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Jane's Addiction - Brooklyn Bowl Las Vegas - May 9-10, 2014

Categories: concert review

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Perry Farrell showing the love at the Brooklyn Bowl Jane's Addiction concert. Photo by Scott Feinblatt
Jane's Addiction
Brooklyn Bowl Las Vegas
5/9-10, 2014

Usually when you hear that there's going to be a concert at a bowling alley, the tendency is to either feel sorry for the band or understand that you are a member of a cult following. However, when that band is Jane's Addiction, and when that bowling alley is the new Las Vegas venue Brooklyn Bowl, it's different. In fact, if you had gone to The Linq, stood in line under the marquee, ascended the lobby escalator, and proceeded along the pathway to the 600-person capacity performance area, the fact that half of the building is a bowling alley would have escaped notice.

The earliest new and old fans grabbed up all of the choice sideline positions on each of the three nights of shows in honor of the 25th anniversary Nothing's Shocking, the band's landmark debut. The rest of the healthy crowd had to struggle with obstructed view sideline positions or join the massive group of bodies on the main floor; judging from the smiles in that crowd, no one seemed to be too concerned about the sardine-can-effect. This was probably because everyone knew that this was a special occasion--a legendary band's rare performance of a historic album in an intimate space. Add to that the general party attitude that people assume when they're in Las Vegas, and you have the atmosphere of the experience. Fortunately, we were in the crowd for the second two shows.

See also:
[PHOTOS]: Jane's Addiction at Brooklyn Bowl Las Vegas
Perry Farrell and Nothing's Shocking Are Still Converting the Masses

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Goblin - The Fonda Theatre - May 3, 2014

Categories: concert review

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Photo of Goblin at The Fonda Theater by Scott Feinblatt
Goblin
The Fonda Theatre
5/3/14

Not too many progressive rock bands are primarily known for frequent contributions to film soundtracks -- much less horror film soundtracks. This is one of the distinctions that attracts a very special cult to the rare performances of Italian band Goblin. What makes these crowds even more rabid than the fact that they are mainly horror fans seeking a fix of something horror-related, is the rarity of Goblin's shows.

While the band had performed fewer than two dozen concerts since 1976 (starting with a series of reunion tours in 2009), 2013 was the first year in which the band toured the US. Last year, online magazines and the blogosphere were drenched with the ravings of fans -- both prior to, and then following their experiences at the shows. Dr. Scarlet, from Rock Revolt Magazine, wrote, "As a huge horror and music fan, this is one of those bands that you need to see once in your life in order to feel complete."


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The G-Funk Fest - The Observatory - March 15, 2014

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Yes, that's Spice-1 and MC Eiht on the same stage at the same time.
The G-Funk Fest
The Observatory
March 15, 2014

It's been three years since west coast hip-hop's most respected crooner Nate Dogg passed away. Like all other hip-hop artists who have passed, his death only seemed to bolster his impact and bring it back to the spotlight. It's well deserved too; what would California summers and springs even be like without hearing a Nate Dogg hook somewhere during your daily routine?

Though the G-Funk era seems pretty dated in 2014, it lives on through the artists of the era who still produce music and do shows, and through its impact on the current West Coast revival. The Observatory celebrated the life of Nate Dogg and and his contemporaries in the fashion it knows best: hip-hop bills filled with west coast rap veterans, including Warren G, MC Eiht, Spice 1, Kokane & Big Hutch of Above the Law, and 2nd II None. That's four musical sectors of California -- Long Beach, LA, the Bay Area, and Pomona -- covered within a few hours.

See also: The Top Rappers in OC


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together PANGEA Acoustic Performance - Fingerprints Records - January 22, 2014

Categories: concert review

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Lucas Chemotti
together PANGEA Acoustic Performance
Fingerprints Records
1/22/14

With a name change and a fancy major label, together PANGEA is gearing up for a successful launch into mainstream music culture. Critics such as Rolling Stone, Yahoo! Music, Stereogum, and Brooklyn Vegan, together PANGEA have been creating huge buzz that normally doesn't come to a band on their third record release. Alongside Fidlar and The Garden, these Burger Records based bands are jumping onto bigger and bigger music blogs almost reaching the popularity of an earlier version of the Southern California garage-rock band Wavves. Normally loud, obnoxious, and intoxicated together PANGEA (and their audience) are known for incredibly rowdy sets. However, last night at Fingerprints was a totally different story.

"This is like storytellers," bassist Danny Bengston said after the band played a song from their latest record Badillac. Lately, the band is trying to differentiate themselves from the stagnating Burger Records scene. With lo-fi record after lo-fi record being put onto cassette, the band has been taking their music to a more high fidelity jumping onto promotional projects like Redbull's profile and premier of the original recording on their new album's title track.


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Brand New - The Observatory- December 10th, 2013

Categories: concert review

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Brand New
The Observatory
12/10/13

Brand New decided to resurrect their entire discography at the Observatory for a two-night event that until now, their diehard fans could only dream of. The only way you can describe that is--a gift. Brand New packaged their whole career into two set lists and handed to their fans wrapped with a bow. Brooklyn punk outfit the So So Glos provided opening support.Tickets went fast. Within 10 minutes, they were completely sold out. On the day of the show, Craigslist had tickets for around $200 each.

For some, Brand New's particularly sad songs provided a soundtrack to middle school and even high school angst. Unlike the frienemies of the band's front man Jesse Lacey, Taking Back Sunday, Brand New's music pushed boundaries and experimented well past their emo roots. The eclectic group of twentysomethings who congregated at the Observatory that night all had at least one thing in common, a melodramatic view at their childhood.

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Justin Timberlake - Honda Center - November 27, 2013

Categories: concert review

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Sugarwolf
Justin Timberlake
11/27/2013
Honda Center Anaheim

I went to the Church of Justin last night. His sanctuary? The Honda Center. And his followers -- guys dressed in their suits and ties, women in classy cocktail dresses, teenagers seeking redemption from Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus -- were not disappointed.

Timberlake entered the stage -- a futuristic, white honeycomb backdrop that projected images -- decked out in a sleek, three-piece suit with a bow-tie and white shoes with black trim, was the high priest of sexy. (And really, we all have to admit that sexy never left JT.) Despite the SNL overexposure, his sophisticated style and smooth dance moves onstage make you forget that he ever had a boy band persona.


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Desaparecidos - The Glass House - November 3, 2013

Categories: concert review

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Lucas Chemotti
Desaparecidos
Desaparecidos
The Glass House
11/3/13

Joyce Manor's energetic set seemed like the pinnacle for the evening. The crowd piled on each other as the band ended with their song "Constant Headache." The security guards at the barricades were hardly being able to snatch all the crowd surfers. However, Conor Oberst's ability to follow up with a completely different, but equally overpowering set with his band Desaparecidos at the Glass House last night proved that both bands have a pretty interested indie rock alliance going right now.

While Oberst's band had the entire crowd focused on the moment with every politically charged lyric and aching crescendo, Joyce Manor's energy brought teenage angst and aggression to the sold out crowd that stretched all the way up into the balcony last night.


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