Author Archives: Alan Snodgrass

TVD Live Shots:
Slayer, Lamb of God, Anthrax, Behemoth,
and Testament at Papa Murphy’s Park, 5/13

What do Paul Simon, Elton John, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Joan Baez, and Slayer all have in common? They have all announced that 2018 will usher in the end of touring. Of those artists, one hits particularly hard on the metal community … Slayer … the band that has been consistently active and releasing new material since the early ’80s. Accompanied on their North American tour by heavyweights Testament, Anthrax, Behemoth, and Lamb of God, Slayer clearly intend for their “Final World Tour” to go out in the biggest way possible.

The Sacramento tour stop seemed to get off to a rocky start with Testament’s opening slot being pushed from its original set time to 5:55 pm. Then, as the crew raised the Testament’s backdrop as the band was about to take the stage, the banner became untied and fell where the crew quickly snatched it up. Testament carried on regardless and delivered a crushing set to start the day.

With the show already running behind, Behemoth, Anthrax, and Lamb of God all delivered rapid-fire sets that stuck to the hits and whipped the sold-out crowd of 13,000 into a heavy metal frenzy. The set change between Lamb of God and Slayer coupled with the setting sun gave the crowd a much-needed respite after the non-stop pummeling of the previous four bands. But when the house music shifted from AC/DC to “Delusions of Saviour” as the stage crew tested the pyro, the energy level peaked.

Strolling casually onto the stage, the band quickly launched into “Repentless,” frontman Tom Araya looking slim and smiling broadly as Kerry King and Gary Holt head banged furiously on either side of the stage. And then came the throng of crowd surfers which kept the massive security detail busy as bodies came pouring over the barricade.

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TVD Live Shots: Descendents, Radkey, and Audio Karate at
the UC Theater, 5/6

Nearly two years after the release of their latest LP Hypercaffium Spazzinate, Descendents show no sign of slowing down their touring juggernaut, most recently wrapping up a 4 date West Coast run in Berkeley, California.

The San Francisco Bay Area clearly has a soft spot for the Descendents, packing the UC Theatre to capacity for a Sunday night of dancing, singing, and crowd surfing that kept the agile security team fielding bodies with an approximate 95% success rate as they came over the barricade. There was a bit of blood spilled and a few hard landings that even had the band visibly wincing, but all-in-all the Berkeley crowd let loose and had a good time. The band similarly was all smiles, clearly enjoying themselves as well.

Descendents crammed a whopping 42 songs into their 90 minute set, literally leaving no stone unturned in their catalog. A healthy dose of Hypercaffium, Milo Goes to College, and Everything Sucks was to be expected but “Good Good Things,” “Hey Hey” and “Pep Talk” were rare treats for the diehards. And Milo, voice already a bit blown from the run, gave it his all (pun intended) as the band pulled “Marriage” and “Jean Is Dead” out for the encores in response to requests shouted from the crowd.

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TVD Live Shots: Taylor Swift, Camila Cabello, and Charli XCX at Levi’s Stadium, 5/11

It’s been nearly two and a half years since Taylor Swift paid the San Francisco Bay Area a visit and with a new multi-platinum album—Reputation—in the wild, the Swift team made sure that her “Reputation Stadium Tour” would be one to remember.

Openers Charli XCX and Camila Cabello kicked the show into high gear as the sun set on the balmy Santa Clara evening, each dwarfed by the massive stage that towered 110’ over one end of the stadium. By the time Swift’s set rolled around, the sold out crowd of 55,000 people took to their feet as Joan Jett’s “Bad Reputation” appropriately blared over the PA. When Taylor finally emerged from center stage bathed in light, the stadium erupted. Wasting no time with the pleasantries, Swift dove right into the new material with “…Ready for It?” as dancers appeared and joined the fun.

Whatever price for tickets, the fans no doubt got their money’s worth; as one of the biggest artists on the planet (maybe even the universe), Swift spared no expense on an absolutely stunning production. The massive stage was backed by giant LED screens that shape-shifted and transformed from song to song over the course of the two-hour set.

Two mini stages were set up at the back of the field and Taylor took a turn up and close and personal on each, first performing “Shake it Off” joined by Charli XCX and Camila Cabello before picking up her guitar for a few acoustic numbers as inflatable snakes loomed over her.

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TVD Live Shots: The Darkness and Diarrhea Planet at the Regency Ballroom, 3/31

The Darkness

The Darkness’ eagerly anticipated “Tour De Prance” has finally reached American soil. Announced back in September, the tour hit San Francisco’s Regency Ballroom for its third show on a balmy Saturday night.

Kicking off the evening was Diarrhea Planet from Nashville, Tennessee charging through a 30 minute strobe and haze-soaked set that no doubt riveted the gathering San Francisco audience with a blast from a whopping four guitar players. Calling their set attention grabbing would be a huge understatement.

By the time The Darkness’ 9 pm set time rolled around, the floor was absolutely packed and the crowd erupted in cheers as the band took the stage, frontman Justin Hawkins sporting a cheetah patterned cape that complemented his skin-tight body suit.

The band launched into “Open Fire” from their 2015 release, Last of Our Kind, Hawkins all smiles as the crowd responded with glee, the pomp underscored every time he hit a pedal on his board and tearing through a ripping solo.

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TVD Live Shots: Michael Schenker Fest at City National Civic, 3/24

When legendary guitarist Michael Schenker decides to put his name on a fest, he sure as hell goes all out. The touring Michael Schenker Fest featured a whopping 2 hour and 45 minute career-spanning set that featured four different singers (Gary Barden, Graham Bonnet, Robin McAuley, and Doogie White) who rotated through the set, sometimes even trading off vocal duties on the same song. It was great to see them all having a good time on stage together.

Schenker was in top form, all smiles and showing no sign of slowing down as the crowd rocked along to their favorite era. The backing band of Chris Glen (bass, who at one point thanked “San Antonio” for having him), Ted McKenna (drums), and Steve Mann (guitar) held it all down, giving Schenker and vocalists plenty of room the shine. The guitar solo during UFO’s “Rock Bottom” was truly inspired and underscores the influence that Schenker has had on the world of heavy metal and hard rock.

While it was a treat to hear the new material live (Michael Schenker Fest studio album Resurrection in stores now), it was the encore of UFO tunes that really got the room singing along. Overall a great night of music.

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TVD Live Shots:
Flogging Molly, Jon Snodgrass, Scott Biram, at the Catalyst, 3/20

This year’s St. Patrick’s Day may have come and gone, but with Flogging Molly in the house the party never ends. So it was on a rainy Tuesday night that The Catalyst in Santa Cruz opened its doors for a rare 21 and over show that sold out the room, kept the beer flowing, and the pit circling.

Openers Scott Biram and Jon Snodgrass & Friends squeezed themselves into the spare space on the small Catalyst stage and whipped the crowd into a celebratory mode. But when The Who’s “Baba O’Riley” starting blasting over the PA, the room smooshed forward and cheered in anticipation of Flogging Molly. And then it was on.

It didn’t really matter to the crowd as they raged through the hits, a new tune (“The Days We’ve Yet To Meet” with bassist Nathan Maxwell on vocals) as well as a ripping guitar solo by Dennis Casey for “Black Friday Rule” which found him alone on stage bathed in red. Truly epic.

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TVD Live Shots: Roger Daltrey at the Fox Theater Oakland, 3/15

What does the legendary Roger Daltrey do in his time off from The Who? Apparently he spends it with members of The Who’s touring band including Simon Townshend (younger brother of Pete), Frank Simes, Jon Button, Loren Gold, and Scott Devours.

Billed as playing “The Who hits, rarities and solo hits,” the seated show kicked off with The Who’s “Overture” from Tommy before the familiar furious acoustic guitar strumming of “Pinball Wizard” brought the Fox to its feet as Daltrey did his signature mic spin.

Between songs, Daltrey was more than happy to chat up the room. From dedicating “Another Tricky Day” to Donald Trump Jr. (whose wife had recently filed for divorce) to sharing the story behind the recording of “Athena,” Roger gave the show an intimate feel that the fans clearly appreciated as they hung on his every word.

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TVD Live Shots:
Stone Temple Pilots
and The Dirty Hooks
at the Fillmore, 3/12

Stone Temple Pilots is back with a new singer, a new album (in stores now), and a new tour which included a Monday night stop at San Francisco’s historic Fillmore with support from The Dirty Hooks.

Let’s just cut to the chase and address the question that is most certainly on everyone’s mind. How did STP’s new vocalist Jeff Gutt measure up? A fair question given he’s stepping into the shoes of not one, but two iconic front men for a band that has seen its first four albums (all now classics of the ’90s grunge era) go platinum at least once, if not many times over. In short, he nailed it better than almost anyone could and that’s a feat of accomplishment. Still obviously getting comfortable in those big shoes, Gutt no doubt has the pipes to do these songs justice, showing off his vocal range straight out of the gate with “Wicked Garden.”

For their part, brothers Dean and Robert DeLeo and drummer Eric Kretz absolutely blew the doors off the Fillmore. Crushingly heavy when called for (“Still Remains”) and subtle and smooth when needed (“Lounge Fly”). These three guys were clearly invigorated by Gutt and the prospect of an STP that can carry on without the cloud of addiction or your lead singer’s main music project. It felt like a new beginning for the band.

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TVD Live Shots:
Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds at the Fox Oakland, 3/10

Noel Gallagher and his High Flying Birds are currently on the road for their “Stranded on the Earth World Tour” in support of their November, 2017 release Who Built the Moon?, pulling out all the stops by bringing along a huge band including backup singers and a horn section.

The Oakland, California show found every chair at the seated show full, at least until the band took the stage at which point many probably wondered why the chairs were necessary, especially up front where the loyal fans appeared slightly perturbed by the empty space between them and the stage where there wasn’t even a barricade.

The set started with the new material, pulling the first 4 songs off of Who Built The Moon? where the expanded band really shined. Gallagher tended to pause between every few songs to initiate banter with the first few rows. With his tone ranging for light to downright sarcastic, his dry humor came across as, dare I say, endearing.

At one point early in the set, he read aloud a sign being held by a girl (Ella) in the front row, asking Liam to invite her on stage to introduce a song because Liam (his brother and fellow Oasis band member with whom he has endlessly feuded) had done the same. Noel’s response, “was it one of mine?” was met with a roaring laugh from the audience.

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TVD Live Shots: Exodus, Municipal Waste, and Hell Fire at the Regency Ballroom, 2/25

You don’t have to watch Adult Swim or be a fan of their TV show Mr. Pickles to know that with Exodus and Municipal Waste sharing a bill, the result is going to be “Thrashtacular.” Well that’s precisely what Sunday’s show at San Francisco’s Regency Ballroom shaped up to be.

The crowd initially seemed slow to gather but by the time openers Hell Fire wrapped their set, the Regency was pushing capacity and people were ready for some action. Enter Municipal Waste who proceeded to absolutely blow the roof off the Regency with their tongue-in-cheek brand of Virginia thrash that had the floor spinning and two hapless security guards fielding the unending flow of crowd surfers. Front man Tony Forresta reveled in the chaos, expressing admiration for the young hasher who managed to dodge security to stage dive at least a half-dozen times.

Let’s face it, the average age of Exodus and their fans exceeds that of Municipal Waste fans by at least a decade and a half (and that’s being generous). Coming out of the haze from Municipal Waste’s set, it was hard to imagine that Exodus and their crowd could deliver similarly. If that’s what you thought, you could not have been more wrong.

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