Author Archives: Alan Snodgrass

TVD Live Shots: MC50, Starcrawler, and Locus Pocus at the Regency Ballroom, 10/4

The legendary Wayne Kramer is on the road celebrating the 50th anniversary of the MC5 classic, Kick Out The Jams including a stop at San Francisco’s Regency Ballroom. The evening kicked off with Locus Pocus … think Cage the Elephant meets the Doors … an odd combo that for some reason works. Well.

Next up, Starcrawler from Los Angeles. For those that have never seen Starcrawler, they were no doubt in awe. Much like watching a music horror movie unfurl before your eyes, waif-thin front woman Arrow de Wilde wailed through their short but powerful set during which she spat on the crowd and accosted the front row while the band blasted through the tunes. Raw, powerful, and downright good but also sometimes painful to watch. Go see them.

MC5

MC5 hit the stage a smidge before 10 pm following an intro in the form of political rant by local punk rock luminary Jello Biafra. Kramer kicked off the set on vocals for “Ramblin’ Rose” and the crowd (still a bit shell-shocked by Starcrawler) came out of its daze. Backed by Billy Gould (Faith No More) on bass, Kim Thayil (Soundgarden) on guitar, Brendan Canty (Fugazi) on drums, along with vocalist Marcus Durant (Zen Guerrilla), this show could not be anything but memorable.

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TVD Live Shots: Rise Against, AFI, and
Anti-Flag at the Concord Pavilion, 9/28

Rise Against’s two month “Mourning in Amerika Tour” spent two months spreading the word across the United States before wrapping up this past week. The Vinyl District caught up with the tour at the Concord Pavilion on a cool and breezy Fall Friday night for what proved to be a high-energy evening of music.

Anti-Flag kicked off the evening with an electric 40 minute set that got the crowd moving (and hopefully thinking). This is a band that consistently delivers highly energetic and thought-provoking sets and, even though in the opening slot, showed no indication or interest in phoning it in.

Next up, AFI Hailing from Northern California, these guys are considered a local band and their diehard fans crammed the rail for their set. Let’s face it, A.F.I. doesn’t play here (or anywhere else for that matter) frequently so the anticipation was high and A.F.I. did not disappoint. It didn’t matter how long A.F.I. was going to play, it was never going to be enough but the hour-long set sounded top-notch and was full of energy from every member of the band and the fans lost their shit for every note of it, especially “Sacrifice Theory,” apparently a special song request by Joe Principe of Rise Against.

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TVD Live Shots: Dropkick Murphys, Flogging Molly, and Jake Burns at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, 9/27

Dropkick Murphys

It’s been a long time coming … the obvious touring matchup between Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly. The day finally came to San Francisco’s Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, the streets outside the venue still littered with the evidence from Metallica’s crushing performance only the night before. Chances are, the folks attending this Thursday night show didn’t even notice between dodging the derelicts that were no longer shut out of their streets.

The evening kicked off early with a 30 minute acoustic set by Stiff Little Fingers’ frontman, Jake Burns. Seated in a chair with only his guitar, Jake riffed and ripped through SLF tunes storyteller style with tales from the writing and recording of SLF classics which included a recounting of how he hung up on The Who’s Pete Townshend. No doubt Jake was one of the highlights of what would turn out to be a great evening of music.

Flogging Molly

Flogging Molly took the stage in true Flogging Molly fashion, toasting the crowd with cans of Guinness beer before ripping into “Paddy’s Lament.” Notably absent from this evening’s line-up was banjo player Bob Schmidt but that didn’t seem to stop the San Francisco crowd from impressing frontman Dave King with plenty of dancing. No doubt, Flogging Molly quickly ramped the party at the Bill Graham into full tilt mode as the pounded through the classics as well as a few “new” (ish) tunes and occasionally “ribbing” on NOFX’s Fat Mike who was enjoying the show from side stage.

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TVD Live Shots: Metallica at
Dreamforce, 9/26

Metallica

Every year about this time, tech giant Salesforce takes over San Francisco for its annual Dreamforce conference. And with Dreamforce comes the annual Concert For Kids benefit which features a seemingly endless supply of food, drink, and of course music.

This year’s Concert For Kids took over San Francisco’s Civic Center including City Hall and the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium for the festivities which featured local heavy metal titans, Metallica, performing on a stage constructed in the middle of Larkin Street.

Metallica

For those less metal-inclined, Janet Jackson offered a safer alternative with a performance inside the Bill Graham Civic but it’s hard to imagine that it was very crowded by the looks of the sea of techies packing Civic Center Plaza as “The Ecstasy of Gold” rolled over the PA signaling the start of a 90 minute set that peppered a few new tunes in with the classics that were likely to resonate with a crowd that generally did not appear to be full of Metallica diehards. That said, it was a party and the attendees were more-than-content to rock out with a free beer in one band and a cell phone in the other.

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TVD Live Shots: Greta Van Fleet and Dorothy
at the City National Civic, 9/18

Greta Van Fleet

To describe the rise of Greta Van Fleet as dramatic would be a vast understatement; from the release of a pair of lauded EPs in 2017 to a major headlining tour including three San Francisco Bay Area shows (all in venues well over 2,000 capacity) BEFORE their first full length album has even dropped is nothing short of baffling. The three Kiszka brothers (Josh/vocals, Jake/guitar, Sam/bass/organ) and drummer Danny Wagner have pulled off something simply unheard of in music today.

One listen to GVF and you’ll get a sense for why. Retro, blues-based rock and roll (the Plant/Zeppelin comparisons can’t be avoided) performed by a bunch of youngsters (the average age of the band members hasn’t quite hit the legal drinking age in the US) strikes a nerve and bridges generations. This is quite apparent after one look at the San Jose crowd.

Dorothy

San Jose is notoriously unpredictable when it comes to turning out for live music but, even being flanked by shows in Oakland and San Francisco, San Jose turned out in force. 90% of those who were outside when the doors opened bee-lined it to either the front of the stage or the barricade. The remaining 10% grabbed primo seats to watch the show.

Close to the end of opener Dorothy’s set, an older gentleman spied my media credentials and leaned over to ask, “Do you think rock and roll is back?” The short answer was, “I guess we will see,” but one look around would suggest a simpler answer … “yes.”

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TVD Live Shots:
Rob Zombie, Marilyn Manson, and Deadly Apples at the Concord Pavilion, 8/28

Rob Zombie

Rob Zombie and Marilyn Manson, the self-ascribed “Twins of Evil” have reunited again for the aptly named “The Second Coming Tour,” hitting California’s Concord Pavilion for an evening of shock and roll.

Canadian industrial metal act, Deadly Apples kicked off as the crowd trickled in through the metal detectors out front and proceeded to blast through a fiery set that had the vocalist Alex Martel (better known as the kid that started the Montebello Rockfest at the age of 17) tossing mic stands around the stage only to have one of his crew fetch them, pick them up, un-bend and reset. Only to be tossed again.

Marilyn Manson

For Marilyn Manson’s set, an enthusiastic crowd had packed the front, but the back of the general admission section seemed surprisingly sparse. Set opener “Irresponsible Hate Anthem” got the floor moving but not so crazy as to disrupt the dude juggling balls in the middle of the pit. For his part, Manson can be unpredictable. What the Concord crowd got was tight, lucid, and engaged with the audience. Simply put, Manson at his best, really only showing his naughty side as he shared what appeared to be a joint with his guitarist before launching into “The Dope Show.”

The hour-long set featured multiple costume changes and several trips off the stage to the front of the crowd … the conclusion of each song punctuated by the loud thud of his mic drop. “Sweet Dreams” perfectly ended the set and teed things up for Rob Zombie to bring it on home.

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TVD Live Shots: Smashing Pumpkins
and Metric at the
Oracle Arena, 8/27

The Smashing Pumpkins

The Smashing Pumpkins hit Oakland’s Oracle Arena on an otherwise quiet Monday night on their “Shiny and Oh So Bright Tour,” highlighting the return of original Pumpkins James Iha (guitar) and Jimmy Chamberlin (drums) to the stage.

Openers Metric kicked things off with a 45 minute set as the crowd slowly made their way into the arena. Never a line outside the venue and a slow but steady trickle belied what would eventually become a packed house as the Pumpkins 8:15 pm set time approached.

The Smashing Pumpkins

The set kicked off with a retrospective Smashing Pumpkins video on the enormous screens at the back of the stage as “Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness” played. The screens finally went black and parted in the middle as Billy Corgan stepped onto the stage with only an acoustic guitar and launched into a truly epic rendition of “Disarm.”

The rest of the band joined Billy on stage and they collectively proceeded to blow the roof off of the Oracle Arena with a 3 hour set that, not surprisingly, drew heavily from the band’s first five albums with special attention given to Siamese Dream and Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. In retrospect, it’s pretty amazing how much great music was produced in a less than 10 year period. For even the casual fan, the night’s setlist delivered favorite after favorite.

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TVD Live Shots: Slayer, Lamb of God, Anthrax, Testament, and Napalm Death at SAP Arena, 8/26

Slayer

Slayer may be officially calling it quits with their “Final World Tour” but they clearly have no plans to go quietly. The last date of the second leg of their North American tour wrapped up at San Jose’s SAP Arena and folks came from near and far to make sure they were part of what could (but hopefully won’t) be their last performance on US soil.

While not officially sold out, the arena was packed to the rafters and the diehards lined up early to get a close-up spot on the floor as Napalm Death kicked things off. In spite of the obscenely early start time of 5 pm, Napalm Death whipped the room into a spinning fury that only grew over the course of Testament’s, Anthrax’s, and Lamb of God’s sets, all three of which were at the top of their respective games after months on the road with Slayer.

Slayer

When Slayer’s set time finally arrived, the entire arena was on its feet as “Delusions of Savior” blasted over the PA as the band strode onto the stage and fire erupted behind a black curtain. And then the curtain dropped and chaos ensued.

Security scrambled as the floor spun out of control to “Repentless,” barely able to keep up with the crowd surfers … a few slipping through the cracks only to hit the floor hard enough to be heard over the din of Slayer’s “Disciple.” No harm, no foul. A few lumps are not unexpected at a Slayer show and they quickly dusted off and sprinted out to rejoin the pit.

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TVD Live Shots: Halestorm, In This Moment, and New
Years Day at the Warfield, 8/23

Halestorm

Halestorm, In This Moment, and New Years Day hit San Francisco’s historic Warfield Theatre for the second to the last day of their aptly named “The Witching Hour Tour” which had the fans lined up down block in spite of the relatively early start time.

New Years Day kicked things off at 7PM with a short but raucous 30 minute set that included a cover of Pantera’s “Fucking Hostile” which the band dedicated to fallen musicians including the recently departed Jill Janus of Huntress. The gathered crowd reflected the diversity of the bands … goth, metal, rock, old, young, male, female … they arrived early to soak it all in and experience a great night of rock and roll.

Halestorm

In a further sign of respect to fallen musical icons, In This Moment took the stage to Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” and proceeded to knock the socks off of the San Francisco audience. In This Moment is known for its theatrics and never disappoint. Fronted by the stunning Maria Brink, ITM wowed the San Francisco crowd with a 70 minute set that ticked both the eye balls as well as the ear holes in a way that few are likely to forget. Highlights of the set included Ash Costello joining Maria for a duet on “Black Wedding” after a Metallica riff-off by the band, a brilliant cover of Phil Collins’ “In The Air Tonight,” and a set-closing rendition of “Whore” that had giant balloons bouncing around the venue as the crowd roared.

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TVD Live Shots: Weezer, Pixies, and Sleigh Bells
at the Shoreline, 8/7

Weezer

One of the hottest summer tours is the odd mash-up of two alternative rock bands that have somehow managed to sell oodles of tickets after decades in the business. Weezer and Pixies are those two bands and they hit up Mountain View, California’s Shoreline Amphitheatre on a balmy Tuesday night with Sleigh Bells in tow.

Pixies frontman Black Francis stepped onto the stage while sipping from a blue mug, gloriously unimpressed with the massive crowd in front of him. The band was set up by the backline and glowered at the crowd as “Gouge Away” thumped on. Spartan and raw yet incredibly polished, the Pixies focused on the rock and laid it all out there during their 60+ minute set. Sure they played before Weezer but they no doubt were worthy of that co-headlining slot.

Pixies

Where the Pixies kept things bare-boned, Weezer swung the pendulum to the other end of the spectrum with maximum camp value. The black curtain which had been hoisted across the stage as the crew went about swapping the set dropped during the Happy Days intro to find the band queued and ready to rock in a mockup of Arnold’s Drive-in. Not surprisingly, the set kicked off with “Buddy Holly.”

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TVD Live Shots: X at
the SOMO Village Events Center, 7/25

X

There aren’t many bands that can claim to have been around for 41 years, even less with all original members. John Doe, Exene Cervenka, Bill Zoom, and DJ Bonebrake are X, and they’ve been tearing up stages this summer with The Psychedelic Furs.

Thursday night found them at the SOMO Village Events Center, an odd location in Rohnert Park that resembles a courtyard in the middle of an office park. Coming from the local Sonoma Country towns, the fans seemed to know the drill and showed up early to settle into the low-key yet comfortable venue for an evening of music. With the temperature dropping as the sun set, the fire pit became an especially popular spot to view the action.

X

X finally strolled on stage at 7PM in front of fans eager for the show to start. Launching right into to “Beyond & Back” got the crowd bouncing and singing but nowhere near moshing … the crowd appeared old enough to have enjoyed X during their early years and clearly saw no need to stir things up when there was music to be enjoyed.

In spite of not having released a studio album in 25 years, X’s music is timeless and those trademark Doe/Cervenka harmonies frankly can’t be beat. Zoom has since traded his signature wide stance for a stool but remains all smiles as he interacts with the front row while DJ locks it in and pounds it out behind the kit. This is a band that is tight from touring and still playing at the top of their game … X simply doesn’t know how to phone in a performance.

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TVD Live Shots:
Imagine Dragons and Grace VanderWaal at Concord Pavilion, 7/24

Imagine Dragons are still riding high on last year’s release of Evolve. Wednesday night market their return to the San Francisco Bay Area on their “Evolve World Tour” with a sold out show at the Concord Pavilion.

In spite of the notorious weekday traffic to get to Concord, the fans planned accordingly and by the time doors opened at 6PM, lines to get in already snaked the length of the parking lot … folks bravely bearing the heat which was still pushing into triple digits even at that late hour.

The evening kicked off with a generous 40 minute set by Grace VanderWaal, best known as the winner of the eleventh season of America’s Got Talent in 2016 at the age of 12. Now 14, this little lady with a big voice proved that maybe every once in a while those TV talent competitions gets it right. With a maturity in her songs and tenor that belies her age, Grace is sure to have a long career ahead of her.

By the time Imagine Dragons set time rolled around, the amphitheater was absolutely packed front to back with a markedly more diverse audience than one might remember. Sure, the millennials were expectedly out in force, but new this time around were the number of smaller children and adults. It’s pretty rare to see a band span such a broad demographic, but most certainly explains why Imagine Dragons only gets bigger and bigger.

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TVD Live Shots:
Thirty Seconds to Mars, Walk The Moon, K.Flay, and Welshly Arms at
the Shoreline, 7/18

Thirty Seconds to Mars is back with a new album, America, and a new tour, “The Monolith Tour,” which hit the San Francisco Bay Area’s Shoreline Amphitheater on a balmy Wednesday evening with touring veterans and fan favorites Walk The Moon, K.Flay, and Welshly Arms.

The evening kicked off early with a bluesy ripper of a set by Welshly Arms as the setting sun beat down on the amphitheater stage in front of a respectable number of fans who braved the rush hour traffic to catch their 6PM set. Channeling the likes of Hendrix and Prince, front man Sam Getz tore through their brief set that no doubt grabbed the attention of the gathering crowd.

Next up, K.Flay, an artist who has been touring relentlessly for the last several years while continuing to evolve as a singer, songwriter, and performer, and seemingly now really hitting her stride. Genre bending and raw, K.Flay always demands attention and never disappoints.

Headliners in their own right, Walk the Moon picked up the direct support slot as the sun finally set on the Shoreline. With spastic lighting and an infectiously energetic set, WTM had everyone on their feet and singing along from the first notes. Those not familiar with their latest release were likely shocked by a surprisingly heavy rendition of “Headphones” that cut through the pop and lingered in the air through their set closer and breakout hit, “Anna Sun.”

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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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  • SUPPORTING YOUR LOCAL INDIE SHOPS SINCE 2007


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