Aerosmith - The Forum - July 30, 2014

Daniel Kohn
The Forum

If you would have told rock fans at the beginning of the 1980s that Aerosmith would be relevant 30 years later, they would have looked at you and laughed. Naysayers would have doubted that Steven Tyler would hold it together and Joe Perry would ever return, let alone be as strong of a player as he was at the band's onset.

The band's show at The Forum showcased the band's catalog of hits, along with a few rarities that likely brought smiles to the faces of hardcore fans. Tyler's showmanship--including his newfound mustache--and bluster were at their most theatrical. Twirling his mic stand constantly and showcasing dance moves befitting of someone his age made up for what he lacked vocally. Granted, for 66, Tyler is doing just fine, but you can't help but wonder if this could be the last tour before his voice plateaus.

Even if Tyler had trouble remembering the lyrics for certain songs--there was a teleprompter in plain sight on the band's gigantic screen during "Rag Doll"--the theatrics of the big rock show made up for it. Intricate lights and multiple cameras added to the show, as did the inclusion of long time pal Johnny Depp who joined them for a cover of Bull Moose Jackson's "Big Ten Inch Record."

See also: Why Joe Perry Never Gets Tired of Playing "Walk This Way."

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

Ryan Ritchie
The Dwarves
The Dwarves and The Queers
Alex's Bar

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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Iggy Azalea - The Observatory - May 14, 2014

Nick Nuk'em
Iggy Azalea
The Observatory
5/14 2014

Iggy Azalea, the Assie Aussie, was the reason for the Observatory's giant mid-week turn out last night. After the 23 year-old Miami transplant's OC debut, any doubts about the femcee's ability to be future rap royalty were put to rest. In sleeveless tees and booty shorts, she had the the crowd ready to rock with her right from the start.

Standing against a backdrop imitating an '80s Miami Beach boardwalk, Azalea began the show by stepping out from a door under a glowing aquamarine sign that read "Hotel Iggy." On the 1s and 2s stood Dj Whizz Kid behind a white glass contraption lined in metallic that could looked like an old school American Music Awards podium. The headliner wore a Flamingo pink tennis getup with an airbrushed portrait of Scarface on her top and tiled onto her skirt.

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Slum Village & Bizarre Ride - The Observatory - May 13, 2014

Nick Nuk'em
Slum Village (Young RJ and T3)
Slum Village & Bizarre Ride
The Observatory
May 13, 2014

In an era where classic boom bap hip-hop has virtually lost all momentum, an affinity for the sound pioneered, then mastered by the late J Dilla remains. Last night at the Observatory was dedicated to one of the game's most revered producers. Grape swishers burned restlessly waiting for the Dilla Exhibit listening to freestyles that flowed to the vintage jazz cello-clad beats like the tall cans of Pabst that riddled the venue's floor at the end of the night.

With a notable lack of skinny jeans that prohibit the nut grabbing associated with the hip-hop of old, the night oozed the sedating melodies of the lo-fi instrumentals, namely the Dillafied works sampled from all walks of sonic life. After an impressive peformance from the opening DJ and accompanying MC full of the underground vibe and thought provoking metaphors, the Observatory took a trip down a trail blazed by Jazz, into Dillaville. Some, especially the guy dressed in a white pinstriped Tommy Hilfiger athletics jersey that must've been procured from a Ghetto Fabulous pre-Y2K time capsule, came more prepared than others.

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Morrissey - The Observatory - May 8, 2014

Christopher Victorio
The Observatory

"I take it you've come to observe, but observe what?" Morrissey asked the overwhelmingly packed crowd about three songs in. While hardly a joke, especially to those of whose sightline was blocked, it was a relief compared to the events that transpired the night before in San Jose.

While The Observatory was far beyond capacity, at least the crowd knew how to behave. Though bum rushing the stage to hug The Mancunian singer is considered a tradition, OC fans refrained (keeping it classy!) as the man known for doom and gloom seemed to be all smiles and sunshine, at least as much as he could be.

Like anything Moz does, last night's show wasn't without controversy. No, we're not talking about anything like what transpired in San Jose on Wednesday night. Instead, his royal Mozness allegedly demanded that the show in the Constellation Room, which featured We Are Scientists and PAWS, be cancelled. Though the show was shuffled around, both bands took shots at Morrissey. "SANTA ANA! So everyone can play a full set, tonight's show will start after Moz's bedtime," We Are Scientists tweeted. PAWS was a bit more vicious, calling him a "rich, has-been, ego maniac." Yeesh, the Scots have landed permanently on the legend's black list.

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Fred Armisen Brings a Live Portlandia Viewing to the Observatory

Charles Lam/OC Weekly

It's hard to name one other television show that has brilliantly crystallized the humor and absurdity of contemporary lifestyle trends than Portlandia. Created by Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein--veteran musicians and close friends--the two pooled together their collective experiences of Portland and have generated a successful format for satirizing some of the most innocuous quirks about the city and the millenial generation as a whole.

Four seasons since their debut in 2011, Portlandia has become a cult hit with its iconic one-liners ("Put a bird on it!"), awesome guest stars, and various recurring characters played by Armisen and Brownstein, like the gender-swapping roles Lance and Nina, aging punks Spike and Iris, and of course, feminist bookstore Women & Women First owners Toni and Candace.Last Saturday night, Armisen came down to the Observatory in Santa Ana to extend to fans an exclusive first look of this season's upcoming episode 8, and engaged audiences in a hilarious Q&A session full of memorable moments and insightful answers.

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RAC - The Observatory - April 9, 2014

Photo by Brenda Wong
The man himself
The Observatory
April 9, 2014

How does one of the most prolific and talented remix producers working today go on a live tour? He grabs his MacBook, a magical music box, and finds a keyboardist, bassist and drummer and takes them all on the road.

André Anjos, better known as the man behind RAC (formerly the Remix Artist Collective) played the Observatory last night in support of his new album, Strangers, which was released last week. It was his second time playing at the Observatory in less than a year, but his first in the main room as his last trip to Orange County for some reason saw him playing the Constellation Room after multiple sold out shows in LA.

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Kevin & Bean's April Foolishness - Shrine Auditorium - April 5, 2014

Chris Victorio
Kevin & Bean's April Foolishness
Shrine Auditorium

On Saturday, Kevin and Bean's April Foolishness brought a cavalcade of badass comics to the Shrine Auditorium, including Jim Jefferies, Patton Oswalt, Tim Minchin and more.
When you have an all-star comedy line-up, a ton of alcohol consuming fans, and attach a couple of super causes to it, you're sure to have nothing short of spectacular. DJ/VJ Mike Relm was on wax and video duty and once again, he killed it. Mad skills Mike. Mad. Fucking. Skills. After a hysterical video intro from Jimmy Kimmel, Kevin and Bean hit the stage and the wild crowd became even louder cheering the boys on as they thanked everyone for coming out. They shouted out the comics that would be entertaining us all and let us know that proceeds from the night would be benefiting Fisher House (that provides homes for VA's) and Cedars-Sinai NICU. Laughing is great but when you pair laughing and a charitable cause together, you have even more to be grateful for. And let it be known, everyone sure did seem grateful for the night ahead.

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Kings of Leon - The Forum - March 21, 2014

Daniel Kohn
Kings of Leon
The Forum

The raucus Followill cousins were back in town for their first proper headlining gig since the tumultuous 2010 tour, which culminated in lead singer Caleb Followill serving a stint in rehab after vomiting during a show in Dallas. When they last played in this room, back in 2009, Kings of Leon were at the top of the rock world. They had two smash singles in "Sex on Fire" and "Use Somebody," which seemed like they were on every radio station at the time. Those songs haven't gone away and have grown into rock radio staples, but something changed about the band.

Touring behind the lukewarmly received Mechanical Bull, which seems better suited as a bar than album title, the cousins didn't exactly recall the hard rockin' swagger that marked their early years. Hardly the mega hit when compared to Only By The Night, the album bridges their early days with their more commercial sound of today. Yet in a strange way, the album doesn't transcend above its crisp recording and in a live setting, lacks the fiery grit of the first few albums. Whether you love them or hate them, at least the Followills made you feel something. These days, they've fallen in the dangerous trap that beholds any successful band. In this case, catering the bro'd down arena rock that is completely different than what them a breath of fresh air and so dynamic in the first place.

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

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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