Jerry Only Does His Best Misfits Impersonation at the Observatory

Categories: live review

Josh Chesler
Even terrible iPhone photos can't make Jerry Only look any younger.
The Misfits are one of the most important punk bands of all time, there's no denying that. Unfortunately, the current version of the group doesn't exactly represent the rock royalty they truly should be remembered as.

As much as Jerry Only wants to keep the Misfits' magic alive, the band just isn't the same as it was in the 20th century. It's never easy to keep the same feel of a group together when only one original member remains (unless the band was more of a one-man show from the beginning, like Smashing Pumpkins or Social Distortion), and it might just be time to let this one go.

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Action "Mr. Wonderful" Bronson Lived Up to His Nickname at the Observatory

Categories: live review

David Le
You don't need a fancy stage outfit if you're going to put on a show like Bronson does.
If one of today's marquee young rappers (Kendrick, J. Cole, Drake) put on a show like an average Action Bronson concert, it would likely blow people's minds and be viewed as their best performance ever.

For everyone's favorite 285-pound Albanian Jewish rapper from Queens, what would be considered the most entertaining set of many rappers' careers is just another Monday night at the Observatory in Santa Ana.

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Alkaline Trio Rocks First Night at Observatory

Josh Chesler
Alkaline Trio, awesome. Photography skills, terrible.
"I bet they'll play Goddamnit and the self-titled album," the guy behind me in the will-call line said. "At least, if they're going chronologically, that's what they'll play."

"Actually, they're playing My Shame is True and then Goddamnit tonight," I interjected, sharing the knowledge I'd gained from secret sources like the band's social media and general internet publicity for the shows. I didn't bother to point out that they're not going to play Alkaline Trio, because that's a compilation album (and it's not even their second release, chronologically speaking).

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Delta Spirit Got By With A Little Help From Their Friends at the Observatory

BY: Taylor Morgan
Matthew Vasquez + Will McLaren of Delta Spirit
Delta Spirit & Friends
The Observatory

Delta Spirit has a reputation-- they're known for playing a captivating, kick-ass rock show. With chilling and poetic vocals by Matt Vasquez and catchy and groove commencing rhythms by Jon Jameson (bass), Brandon Young (drums), Will McLaren (guitar) and Kelly Winch (who plays a variety of instruments for the band but tonight, in particular, he killed it with a guitar solo); their shows are sure to never disappoint, especially considering we won't be seeing them on stage for a while after this.

The band have agreed to go on a sabbatical of sorts after their current summer tour as they take to time to be with their families and gin up new material for the next record, all of which could take well over a year. So it was really important to make this hometown show count. Exposed bulb lighting with copper wires covered the stage, propelled on stands arranged in varying heights. The central lights dimmed as the lightbulbs pulsated in sequence with the thumping drums as remaining band members took the stage.

See also: Before Delta Spirit Go on Hiatus, They'll Give Us One Hell of a Show

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Mobb Deep Defy Age at the Observatory

Categories: live review

Josh Chesler
Mobb Deep, teaching suburban OC kids about NYC street violence since 1993.
Every time I'm on my way to see Mobb Deep, I have the same fear.

"This is the time they're going to be old and soft," I tell myself. "No one can stay hard forever, and they're not the young Queensbridge murderers they once were. This is going to be the moment when the toughest, scariest rappers I grew up admiring now look like middle-aged men from the suburbs."

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The Airborne Toxic Event Stretch Out During Their Full Album Set

Categories: live review

Stephanie Webb
Mikel Jollett of The Airborne Toxic Event
By: Cornel Bonca

The last time Silver Lake rockers The Airborne Toxic Event played Orange County, in August of 2013, it was with an 88-piece orchestra at the massive Pacific Amphitheater. This time around they stripped down to essentials--just the five of them with occasional help on keys and trumpet--at Santa Ana's much more intimate The Observatory. The downsizing of venue was appropriate: Airborne decided to play their much more intimate new album, Songs of God and Whiskey, from start to finish to open the show. A ballsy thing to do, by the way, since the album's material was not only fairly new to fans but also less sonically dramatic or rockin' than stuff like "Sometime Around Midnight" or "Happiness Is Overrated," songs that have sealed Airborne's rep as a sweaty and intense road band.

Not that Songs doesn't deliver. Dropped at the same time as the band's recent "official" Epic release, Dope Machines, and as a complete surprise to everybody, its mostly unplugged folk-based rock is so well-crafted, melodic, and lyrically penetrating--there aren't five better rock lyricists in America right now than bandleader Mikel Jollett--that it never comes off as a slipped-in afterthought or an odds 'n' sods sop to fans. Played live, it also loosened the band up--viola/violinist Anna Bulbrook's typically pristine classical lines got funkier and more fiddle-like, and Steven Chen, usually content to provide expert rhythm guitar and record-sanctioned solo fills, stretched out in a little improvisation. Certainly Jollett felt liberated by the new stuff: the opener, "Poor Isaac," a fist-shaking address to The Almighty, unleashed an almost frightening anger in him, just as "Strangers" and "Why Why Why" revealed a tender acceptance of suffering that came this close to sublime.

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Rocket From the Crypt Showcase Samurai Skills

Categories: live review

Greg Jacobs
Andy "N.D." Stamets and John "Speedo" Reis
Rocket From the Crypt

I've seen Rocket From the Crypt at least 50 times and last night they did two things I'd never seen before.

First, they played with drummer Chris Prescott, best known as the skinsman in No Knife, Tanner and Fishwife. Prescott toured with the band during the RFTC days, but during that stint he played percussion and keyboards. Last night, dude was the full-on drummer. There was no mention of why he was there and Mario "Ruby Mars" Rubalcaba wasn't, but Prescott did a damn fine job filling in. There was times when the look on his face suggested he might not have remembered how a song began, but from what I could tell, he didn't mess up at all and if anyone in that crowd knew every tiny part to every Rocket From the Crypt song, it was me.

Second, singer John "Speedo" Reis pulled out a samurai sword for the last song ("Glazed," off 1992's Circa: Now!) and not only showed it to the crowd with an array of menacing faces, he also played guitar with it. Just when you think Speedo is the coolest guy in the room, he pulls a stunt like this and then you realize he's infinitely cooler than you previous envisioned.

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Punk Rock Bowling 2015: A Survivor's Guide

Categories: live review

John Gilhooley
These guys are obviously Turbonegro fans...
Every Memorial Day weekend for the past 17 years, Las Vegas has hosted the Punk Rock Bowling Music Festival. With hordes of punks flocking to a small corner lot of Downtown, music fans from all over the country and world come to join in on the four days of diverse live punk rock in an outdoor setting. Aside from a bowling tournament and contests held offsite at various hotels in the city, the numerous tiny bars in the area throw late night club shows, many of which were immediately sold out.

This year, over 100 bands performed each day throughout the shows and main festival with Saturday's headliners including Rancid, Sick Of It All, The Mighty Mighty Bostones, Anti-Flag and local heroes TSOL. Sunday night, Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo Bay School of Medicine, Turbonegro, Murder City Devils, and Refused headlined, and finally Monday was closed with Dropkick Murphys, Conflict, Agnostic Front, The Business, and Swinging Utters. Each day and evening had slam pits that could rival any LA/OC show, and saw furies of human bodies with spiked, dyed Mohawks and leather jackets flying and stage diving.

Given that we love punk rock and outdoor multi-venue music festivals, this was just another easy excuse to head to Vegas. In any case, Here are 10 highlights and considerations to make, if you're planning on attending next year's Punk Rock Bowling festivities.

See also: Punk Rock Bowling Creates the Ultimate Backyard Bash in Sin City

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Refused Were Fucking Alive in Santa Ana

Categories: live review

David Le
The only time you'll see Refused standing still on a stage.
The Observatory

If you think there's no room for business-casual attire and dancing in hardcore music, Dennis Lyxzen of Refused would probably like to have a word with you.

The band's blazer-clad lead singer danced around the stage for much of their hour-long set at the Observatory on Monday night, often ditching the microphone during the hardcore band's extended bridges and breakdowns to be able to move more freely.

His scissor kicks, moonwalks, shimmies, and general rhythmic chaos were greeted with cheers and screams of glee by a venue packed with a crowd spanning at least three decades in age.

See also: The Resurrection of Refused is Good News for the Revolution!

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Hiatus Kaiyote Prove They're Ready For a Bigger Stage

Categories: live review

Kyle Cavaness
Telling people you're off to see an Australian soul band might lead to a few raised eyebrows. But Melbourne's Grammy-nominated Hiatus Kaiyote continue to make believers out of music fans and skeptics worldwide, and they brought their own version of the Thunder from Down Under to the Constellation Room on Thursday night.

The show was the band's latest stop in an American tour supporting their new album, Choose Your Weapon, which was released earlier this month. While the Constellation Room inside the Observatory is usually reserved for smaller acts, the packed show proved that the band is primed for a bigger audience.

See also: Hiatus Kaiyote Do Some Future Soul Searching

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