Marilyn Manson - The Observatory - October 29, 2014

Chris Victorio
Marilyn Manson playing The Grove in Anaheim on August 25, 2009

By: Taylor Morgan
Marilyn Manson
The Observatory

An overpacked crowd in black filled The Observatory as fans stood on tip toes to see goth-metal singer, Marilyn Manson. The self-proclaimed Satanist had his management team spread the word, just before 7:00 p.m., that he was not interested in being photographed by press. After all, a photo of this theatrical man would never quite do his show justice.

Devil horns were thrown in the air as Manson yelled in his deep and somewhat haunting voice "Welcome to the revolution Santa Ana." A white tapestry fell and he sang, "The day that love opened our eyes/We watched the world end" from his epic song "mOBSCENE." Next up was "Disposable Teens" and couples kissed sloppily against barely available wall space. Manson pointed his mic towards the crowd, pushing his white electric guitar to the side and the fans screamed, "You say you want a revolution, man/and I say that you're full of shit/we're disposable teens".

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Kimbra - The Observatory - October 24, 2014

Photo by Charles Lam
It was so perfect, I'm not even sure it happened

The Observatory

Last Friday was a fĂȘte at The Observatory. Hundreds of people were in line for the sold out Wiz Khalifa show, but hundreds more were there for the other sold out show, Kimbra's first ever trip to Orange County.The indie-pop princess had already played five shows in L.A. this year, but still drew a crowd so large that the Observatory's main room was a good 10 degrees warmer than its entry way. But man, was that show worth it.

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Festival Supreme- Shrine Expo Hall & Grounds- October 25, 2014

Oliver Walker/Goldenvoice

Festival Supreme
October 25, 2014
Shrine Expo Hall & Grounds

This year's Festival Supreme was held at the Shrine and right away I could tell that this venue was going to work out better than 2013's, the Santa Monica Pier. Not only because there was more room to roam around, but also, they upped the ante from three to four stages.

This year's addition was called "Circus of Death" and the indoor room was, well, wild. Dimly-lit with so many things to look at, there was spooky artwork, crazy lights, a church bounce house, and even a train you could buy tickets to ride. With a small, low stage in the middle of the room, my thought immediately was, "This room would be perfect to trip out in."

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Phish - The Forum - October 24, 2014

Scott Dudelson
Phish performing at the Long Beach Arena on August 15, 2012

The Forum

At this point in their career, Phish shows can be points of controversy for their fans, with some endorsing and others screaming about the demerits of a particular set. However, the one thing that Phish fans should know at this point in the Vermont jam band's 30-plus-year career is that the quartet will play whatever they want, when they want and with little concern for the reactions their choices draw.

This considered, the band's Friday night gig at the recently renovated Forum ended up being a rare happy medium--a concert that pleased both fans of Phish's uptempo rockers and spaced-out jams.

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Oddball Comedy & Curiosity Festival- Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre- September 13, 2014


Holy hotness! Despite the ridiculous overload of funny comics on tap at the 2nd annual Oddball Comedy & Curiosity Festival at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre, there was nothing funny about the heat. "Sweat" was the theme and it was seen on everyone from patrons, workers, and even the comics themselves. So yeah, it was hot. That aside...

While this year wasn't 100% sold out, it was certainly packed with the most eclectic mix of comedy lovers that you could imagine. Of course the line-up pretty much had something for everyone so the diverse audience was to be expected. Although, I did see two babies there and I'm not sure at all who they came out to see. Maybe they just came out for the beer and food trucks. Who knows?

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Six Years In, Buskerfest Gets Back to its Roots

Lonnie Nguyen
Crowd at Buskerfest 2014

East Village Arts District
Saturday, September 6, 2014

For the last five iterations of Long Beach's annual summer-ending music festival Buskerfest, the free event featuring local musicians duking it out for the most wooden nickels has strayed farther and farther from the actual acoustic busking that incited its founding.

Though the concept started as an authentic ode to musicians who provide impromptu street performances in exchange for money thrown into a hat/guitar case/etc., it only took a few years before bands started lugging big, electrified amps onto the truck-bed stages in an attempt to be heard over the growing crowds, and the massive main stage at the end of 1st Street (where non-competing headlining bands performed) to become the decidedly un-DIY focal point at the end of the night.

But something felt refreshingly different about his year's fest. The winning band was comprised of two women who make a portion of their income actually performing music on the streets. The closing act featured Josh Fishel, one of Long Beach's most outspoken advocates of free public performance and there was no main stage and headliners played on the same truck beds as the competitors. It seems that Buskerfest has driven the city's music scene to revisit the busking conversation that was launched along with the Summer and Music series six years ago.

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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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