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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The Grand Finale - Detroit Bar - February 28, 2014

Jackie Connor
Dirty Science pumps up Detroit Bar

The Grand Finale (Abstract Workshop and Dirty Science)
Detroit Bar
February 28, 2014

Orange County D.J. collectives Abstract Workshop and Dirty Science closed out Detroit Bar's 13 year history with a bang to the beat of classic hip-hop tracks last Friday night. The packed house barely fit into the balmy interior of what was left of Detroit Bar as hundreds of people dwarfed the average sized venue's capacity on the cold and rainy evening. Getting a drink at the bar was, how should we say this...a challenge. But considering it was the bar's last hurrah, most people didn't let a little struggle for booze get in the way of a good time.

See also:
*13 Detroit Bar Shows Worth Remembering
*Goodbye, Detrot Bar

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Miley Cyrus - Honda Center - February 20, 2014

Sugarwolf / OC Weekly

See Also: Miley Cyrus @ Honda Center

Miley Cyrus
Honda Center

There was a lot of tongue, weed paraphernalia, and bananas in the crowd at the Honda Center last night as Miley Ray Cyrus, the untamed former Disney-star-gone-bad-girl, hit the Honda Center for part of her Bangerz world tour. Miley did her thing on stage in half-naked leotards, sequins, wigs, cowboy boots, and long gowns. Although she's received a lot of criticism for her racy live performance, and her public image has gone from child star to ratchet rebel, she still has a tremendously large fan base.

Last night, Cyrus celebrated her fourth studio album, Bangerz which came out in October 2013, going platinum despite (or probably due to) her crazy endeavors. She has become this generations most contentious pop star who knows how to deliver an entertaining live show of Britney Spears proportions. It was so unforgettable, we had to review each moment with a minute-by-minute breakdown.

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OCMA Showcase, Night 6 - The Tiki Bar - February 11, 2014

Thumbnail image for originalites1.jpg.jpg
Bridget Arias
The Originalites
OCMA Showcase, Night 6
Tiki Bar

The OC Music Award's hosted it's reggae/rock installment on night six of it's showcase series appropriately at the Tiki Bar in Costa Mesa last night. Mikey Pauker, Katastro, Solution, Wheeland Brothers, and The Originalites made up last night's array of multifaceted local bands merging styles from reggae, hip-hop, rock, ska, punk, and folk for an entertaining night of live music. Listed as Best Rock Club of 2012 in OC Weekly's Best Of issue, the Tiki Bar is known for the delicious Sunday brunch just as much as it is for it's strong music scene. The year old remodeled building also boasts a brand new sound system, but what we're really wondering is what happened to the lobster machine?

Mikey Pauker and his dapper band started off the night with his dreamy voice and Ryan Adams like demeanor. Straight from his world tour to promote his debut full-length album Extraordinary Love, this was Pauker's first local gig in over a year. The Laguna Beach resident gave us a little lesson in modern Jewish music by having the crowd sing along repeating lyrics like "shalo shalom." His peaceful melodies and unique lyrics based off spiritual Jewish text from the old testament had the perfect blend of folk, reggae, and even electronica to get the crowd moving. The performance was in no way spiritually pushy, but rather soothing as he sang about themes of love and unity.

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Young The Giant - Hollywood Palladium - February 7, 2014

Matt Oliver
Young The Giant
Hollywood Palladium

"I remember when trying to sneak into an LCD Soundsystem show here," Young the Giant lead singer Sameer Gadhia mused about a quarter of the way into the band's 90-minute set. "We've come a long way since then."

And indeed they have. Working their way up through the rigid L.A. club scene saw Irvine's great rock hope play at the Whisky-a-Go-Go and The Roxy before garnering national attention with "My Body" and "Cough Syrup." Though they filled the Wiltern their last time in Los Angeles, selling out the Palladium was an entirely different beast.

On the third night of the band's massive 2014 tour, they showed that they've grown comfortable with the rigors that come with being a band on the rise. In the few years since their last proper headlining tour, the quintet added an arena-ready light display. However, it seemed like Young the Giant were a bit reserved and tense at times.

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Skinny Puppy - The Observatory - January 24, 2014

Brian Erzen
Skinny Puppy, one of the most prolific bands of the industrial music world, started their new tour in the Observatory Santa Ana last Friday. They opened the show with "Cholalone," a song they haven't performed since 2000. The classic song set the tone for a night of gloriously abrasive nostalgia for most die-hard fans who rarely (if ever) get to see the band perform in OC, as well as debuting songs from the latest chapter in their history.

See also: Skinny Puppy's Rage is Still Relevant, 30 Years After They Started.

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Stevie Wonder - Nokia Theatre - December 21, 2013

Chris Victorio
Stevie Wonder at Outside Lands
Stevie Wonder
Nokia Theatre

For a music icon, Stevie Wonder has kept a relatively low profile in recent years. His touring schedule has been sporadic at best, and in the age of licensing music, Wonder isn't as prominently featured as some of his contemporaries. But the one thing you can count on from the Motown legend is for him to play a benefit around holiday time.

On the night of his 18th annual House Full of Toys Benefit, the singer decided to switch things up. We aren't talking about the vastly different arrangements of his greatest hits that are completely unrecognizable to casual fans.

After getting sick a few days before last year's benefit, Wonder knew had to make up for what in his opinion was a subpar performance. In order to make up for it, he gave fans a treat: Wonder played his seminal Songs in the Key of Life from start to finish.

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Pearl Jam - LA Sports Arena - November 23, 2013

Eddie Vedder
Pearl Jam
LA Sports Arena

It had been nearly 22 years since Pearl Jam last played the LA Sports Arena. As the opening act on a tour headlined by the Red Hot Chili Peppers with support from Nirvana and Smashing Pumpkins, few seemed to care about what the Seattle quintet had to offer. Back then they were a budding outfit still trying to navigate its way through the murky waters of balancing a hit record (Ten) while garnering the respect of their snarling contemporaries who were jealous of their success. On their long road back to the not-so-hallowed, decrepit arena (which was referred to the band by, of all people, Bruce Springsteen), the quintet has done more than that.

With no opening act, the band culled through its 10-album catalog to give fans on the first of two nights a certifiable greatest hits package. There were a number of songs not so surprisingly included from the band's latest collection, Lightning Bolt, which got lukewarm critical reviews. Yet among the band's diehard fan base, it's been a hit. The album started off at No. 1 on the Billboard Top 200, and is the band's fifth No. 1 record overall. Though they've managed to keep a low profile press-wise, "Mind Your Manners" (aka "Spin The Black Circle" part 2) and the drawn out ballad "Sirens," their two singles, can be heard regularly on radio and wisely spliced in between commercial breaks during sporting events. Like with many Pearl Jam songs, some of the newer material translated much better in a live setting, but it's hard to imagine these songs will elevate to beloved or even cult status amongst the fan base.

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Ben Harper - Walt Disney Concert Hall - November 18, 2013

Timothy Norris/LA Weekly
Ben Harper
Walt Disney Concert Hall

"I've been making music for 20 years," singer/songwriter Ben Harper told the somewhat raucous crowd at the Disney. "What that means is that all of the shitheads are gone and we're left with you. It's 2,500 of your closest friends."

Harper was right. Playing a mostly solo acoustic set that spanned nearly three-hours, he wrapped up a brief two week run that began in his nearby in his hometown of Claremont. Playing the Disney appeared to have special meaning to Harper, who took multiple pauses over the course of the night to take in the modern marvel of the Los Angeles scene. Dressed to the nines, which in this case meant a white button shirt tucked into black pants, Harper rose to excellence that comes with playing in a venue as distinguished as the Disney.

For years, Harper toiled as he opened for bands like Pearl Jam, Dave Matthews Band and Taj Mahal. Yet his strong solo material allowed him to piggyback on those bands and gain a core audience of his own.

Instead of being uptight, Harper was the opposite. He constantly cracked jokes, like how after 20 years he finally earned his "black card," and quipped about the semi-late arriving crowd.

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