Foxygen - The Observatory - August 15, 2014

Categories: live review

Moss Perricone
The Observatory

"When I say Rado, you say drank," Jonathan Rado calls out from behind a stack of keyboards. Rado. Drank. Rado. Drank. He hits a button -- the beat kicks in at 74 BPM. It's the same tempo as Kendrick Lamar's Swimming Pools. Roll up. Drank. "Give me your pants," someone shouts. "I can't," Rado responds -- calm, removed, Keith Richards cool. He plays with a cigarette in his mouth, wet between sips off a big bottle of Jack.

"These are my bar mitzvah pants."

Things got freaky Friday night at the Observatory. Opening act (and Locals Only faves) Mr. Elevator and the Brain Hotel ushered in a wave of chunky psychedelia -- persistent bass grooves dressed up in Davy Jones harmonies, in sinister Sunday morning organ riffs. Frontman Tomas Dolas convulsed at the keys, howling, thrashing, setting off "Nico" -- a perfect closer, a song for the pit.

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Paramore - Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre - August 16, 2014

Categories: live review

Christopher Victorio
Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre

Wearing kneepads and Muay Thai shorts, with sweat dripping off the tips of her SLC Punk-blue hair, it was clear that Paramore's Hayley Williams is no longer the perceived lightweight from the Vans Warped Tour. After last year's Self-Titled tour, and years of unfair criticism (amplified by the Farro brothers' departure in 2010), Paramore is now her band. There's nothing left to prove, and after 10 years, Paramore has seriously grown up--the teenybopper label dropped like baby fat in favor of Hayley Williams becoming a pop icon.

"We made it to double digits guys," she calmly stated to thousands of crazed fans at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Irvine; connecting directly with the audience by smiling at "familiar faces" as if they were all in the same minivan together, with her dad in the driver's seat. Those same fans that discovered Paramore through "Misery Business" in 2007, have grown up alongside Williams, who now seems to be feeling the wear-and-tear on her body--like an aging prizefighter--except she's only 25: "Getting old," she told the crowd, "it's getting harder to headbang, but that's okay, that's why I have knee pads." And like any proper fighter, she isn't one complain or show her bruises. Williams' neck and back are constantly in pain, and having been on the road nonstop since October, you can bet her vocal chords are strained. But none of it showed on the Irvine stop of the 44-date Monumentour with Fall Out Boy--it never does with Williams. She's a born performer, like Freddie Mercury or Elvis before her.

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Pacific Festival: The Dunes - Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort - August 16, 2014

Categories: live review

Taylor Morgan
By: Taylor Morgan
Pacific Festival
Newport Dunes
August 16th, 2014

For a couple years now, Pacific Festival has worked on mastering the art of the large scale OC beach party. On a sweltering Saturday afternoon in Newport Beach, blonde beauties sip ice-cold beers out of pink flamingo cup holders, designed to look like miniature floaties. Beach balls fly through the air as Cherry Glazerr perform on the main stage and toes dig into the sand of this years Pacific Festival: The Dunes.

Pineapple t-shirts, bikinis, and barely-there shorts hug swinging hips. Sweat drips down the backs of fat boys, who have collectively decided to forgo their tank tops. After all, their fanny packs, serving as the vessel for menthol cigarettes, is creating quite the sweat pocket already. In the near distance, kids in life jackets paddle board effortlessly and cannonball from a large floating whale into the Eco preserved water.

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Lykke Li - The Observatory - August 12, 2014

Categories: live review

Taylor Morgan
Taylor Morgan

Lykke Li
The Observatory

It's 9:15 p.m. and the lights begin to flicker as smoke settles onto the stage. Two men in suit jackets sit side by side on keyboards as a lady with a black turtleneck and circular bun stands motionless. Their synchronized and polished look commands the room for a moment until the Swedish indie pop sensation, Lykke Li, appears.

Her hands thump against her heart and reach passionately for the audience as she begins to sing, "where the blue moon shines/where the tears melt ice/ in a sea of guilt/ by the fallen stars/lonely chimes, sing of pain/there's a storm, only love remains." The crowd goes wild as she concludes her first song, "I Never Learn" and next moves right along to "Sadness Is A Blessing."

In the wake of her newly released third album, I Never Learn, the 28 year-old Swedish songstress made a trip out to the Observatory to share her latest electro pop musings with a sold-out crowd. "California is the best place. Let's make this night count," Li says after stepping out on stage. "Are you guys hydrated enough? Are you stoned enough? To dream a little dream with me?" She sings "Just Like A Dream" and a sea of lavender wristbands sway throughout the sold out venue. The song is just about to end when the intro to Drake's "Started From The Bottom" begins to play and Li sways her long wavy hair, working the stage with bellbottomed pants and a black trench that she occasionally knocks off her shoulders.

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Antemasque - The Observatory - August 10, 2014

Categories: live review

Jack Gorman
Antemasque / Le Butcherettes
The Observatory

If necessity is the mother of invention, re-invention must be a bastard.

The core duo of Antemasque, however, has made a career out of never-ending aural transmogrification. Vocalist Cedric Bixler-Zavala and guitarist Omar Rodriguez-Lopez first made their name as the afro-framed faces of legendary post-punk outfit At The Drive-In, only to break that band up just as it reached mainstream success. 

When the remainder of ATDI quickly formed a conventional alt-rock act called Sparta, Bixler-Zavala and Rodriguez-Lopez founded The Mars Volta, a virtuosic, occasionally frustrating jaunt into Zeppelin-esque bombast, prog rock, and 30-minute epic poems that took equally from jazz, Afrobeat and gutter punk.

See also: Teri Gender Bender is Trying Hard Not to Believe in Curses Anymore

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Warpaint - The Observatory - August 9, 2014

Aimee Murillo
The Observatory

LA quartet Warpaint came out once again to cast their melodious spell at the Observatory Saturday night before their upcoming European tour later this month. It's been a while since they've played in Orange County, unless you count their show last October at The Glass House. Even members Emily Kokal and Theresa Wayman, while feeding the audience with banter in between songs, expressed their joy at returning to OC. "Sahnta Annaaa," Kokal's and Wayman's pronunciation simply rolled off their tongues. "We always love playing here."

Buzz band no more, the group have toured extensively in the last few months honoring the release of their third album Warpaint. Keeping up with their free-flowing, experimental style of psych-rock, Warpaint retains their ethereal melodic harmonies but adds new instrumental flourishes in the mix, including piano synthesizers and drum machines. The resulting album stems on a slightly divergent path away from their previous songs, especially on the song "Disco/Very," that has a danceable beat, yet their hypnotic vocals and psychedelic grooves still maintain a familiar vibe for fans.

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Weezer - Del Mar Race Track - August 2, 2014

Tina Dhamija
Del Mar Race Track

Weezer rode into Del Mar racetrack in Del Mar Saturday night to a rowdy audience of old skool fans who were ready to party and make every last dime spent on the babysitter for the night count. And in the spirit of the band's forthcoming album Everything Will Be Alright In the End and its first single Back to the Shack (released last month), Rivers and the crew gave us a set that really did take us back to the strat with the lightening strap.

Opening the show with Jonas, front man Rivers Cuomo made it clear that he was there to shred on his signature trusty Fender Stratocastor. Weezer played a nearly two-hour long set that never failed to keep the crowd rocking out and singing along. In fact, that is what most Weezer shows are -- a giant, '90s nostalgia sing along. And speaking of '90s nostalgia, the setlist the band performed played like your favorite Weezer playlist.

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1994, Beer, Weezer

Ted Z and the Wranglers - The Wayfarer - August 2, 2014

Categories: live review

D Slaughter
Ted Z and the Wranglers
Ted Z
The Wayfarer

We'd like to think that the Wayfarer was just waiting for a band like Ted Z and the Wranglers to offer up some more legitimacy to the bar's name this weekend. A wayfarer, by definition, is an old-timey, rambling traveler who likes to go everywhere on foot. It's exactly the kind of vibe you imagine while stomping along in the crowd as the Costa Mesa quintet bestow their backwoods Americana charm from the stage. But that wasn't the only thing they had to unleash on Saturday night at the Costa Mesa club formerly known as Detroit Bar. The band came to celebrate the release of their Like a King EP with a packed house of family, fans and friends (many of them heavily bearded).

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Babymetal - The Fonda Theater - July 27, 2014

Categories: live review

Courtesy of Baby Metal
The Fonda Theater

What the hell is Babymetal? It's a question that's been rattling around in our minds even before we officially asked it on this blog months ago. And as the all-girl Japanese trio of SuMetal, MoaMetal, and YuiMetal kept gaining momentum on YouTube, the footage of packed arenas with millions of clicks got us wondering what the hell an L.A. Babymetal fan would look like when they came to the Fonda last Sunday. Watching a melange of metalheads, tutu-wearing J-Pop vixens, Internet nerds and creepy middle-aged dudes showing up alone gave us our answer. But the crowd wasn't the only aspect of the Babymetal show that had a surprising number of layers.

See also: What the Hell is Babymetal?

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Donavon Frankenreiter - The Observatory - July 25, 2014

Categories: live review

Taylor Morgan
By: Taylor Morgan

Donavon Frankenreiter
The Observatory

A poppy, surf-rock show is what we expect at a Donavon Frankenreiter, the perfect tune to sip a piña colada to while kicking back with a lover at the beach. Yet when he began his set with the track "Move By Yourself," the audience quickly switched gears from their dazed demeanor to a concentrated observance of his every move. The chatter came to a halt and eyes followed the movement of his fingers across guitar strings as he exhibited a legendary guitar solo. On this particular night Frankenreiter was much more than a protégé of Jack Johnson, a famous surfer who rides single fins and retro boards, he commanded the room with ease and transposed energy on the vast age group of attendees.

He moved along to "Bend In The Road" and "Call Me Papa" arriving at his most famous track yet, "Free." He performed a slowed down rendition of the song that began with the drummer lightly shaking maracas. Polka dot lights flew throughout the room as he traveled through "Heading Home," "Swing On Down," "Life, Love & Laughter," "On My Mind," and "That's Too Bad" which had an incendiary like draw from the crowd during another legendary guitar solo.

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