Author Archives: Alan Snodgrass

TVD Live Shots:
The Cult and The Beta Machine at The Regency Ballroom, 6/12

It’s hard to believe that it’s been 30 years since The Cult released their iconic Sonic Temple album, but leave it to The Cult to remind us with a tour and a sold out show at San Francisco’s Regency Ballroom. A two-hour power outage at the Regency delayed doors, and openers The Beta Machine were still sound checking as the lobby filled with the eager fans who rushed to the barricade the moment they had the chance, venue staff hollering, “walk please!”

Due to the crew’s herculean effort to get the show back on track after the outage, The Beta Machine was able to take the stage only 10 minutes late for their 30 minute set. You may not know The Beta Machine but you’ll likely recognize some familiar faces … Matt McJunkins (A Perfect Circle, Eagles of Death Metal and many more) and Jeff Friedl (A Perfect Circle, DEVO, Puscifer and many more) held down the rhythm section and joined by Nicholas Perez (guitar/keys) and Laura Vall (vocals) for what would only be her third show with the band. In spite of the mad scramble to get the show rolling, the band’s performance was flawless and the shared vocals between McJunkins and Vall sounded great.

By the time The Cult finally took the stage, the Regency Ballroom was packed to capacity. First Damon Fox (keys), then John Tempesta (drums), and Grant Fitzpatrick (bass) stepped out and launched into the groove of “Sun King” followed by original members Billy Duffy and finally Ian Astbury as the crowd went wild.

The notoriously-deficient Regency air conditioning was living up to its reputation, leading Astbury to comment, “this place seems to have its own weather,” as the temperature and humidity soared (maybe “Rain” would have been a better opener). A playful Astbury shrugged off the heat and strutted the stage while demonstrating his tambourine acrobatics skills which left the stage littered with its casualties.

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TVD Live Shots: Hollywood Vampires
at The Warfield, 5/12

The Hollywood Vampires were originally conceived in the 1970s as a rock star drinking club housed in the bowels of the iconic Rainbow Bar on the Hollywood Sunset Strip. Fast forward to 2019 and original Vampire Alice Cooper, along with Johnny Depp and Joe Perry, have decided to take the show on the road in support of their forthcoming second album, Rise, which is due in stores on June 21. The seven show jaunt includes Tommy Henriksen (guitar), Glen Sobel (drums), Chris Wyse (bass), and Buck Johnson (keyboards).

With no opening act, Hollywood Vampires took the stage at an entirely reasonable 8:15 pm and launched into an unreleased original track, “I Want My Now,” with Alice on vocals. Despite the new track, the crowd immediately lit up. It wouldn’t be a proper Vampires show without a healthy dose of cover tunes and the band did not disappoint, celebrating the likes of The Doors, AC/DC, The Who, and more. The band sounded tight … clearly prepared for the mini run … but drummer Glen Sobel was a stand-out. Man that guy can play, and his solo during “Baba O’Riley” was truly inspiring.

While Cooper handled the majority of vocal duties, there was still room for the rest of the band to step up to the mic. Joe Perry sang vocals on Johnny Thunders’ “You Can’t Put Your Arms Around A Memory” and Depp took the lead on The Jim Carroll Band’s “People Who Died” which he dedicated to his late bodyguard Jerry Judge who passed last month. If there was any doubt who the biggest star on that stage was, a quick look around the room at the number of cell phones in the air on record during Johnny’s totally legit version of David Bowie’s “Heroes” would have made the answer clear.

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TVD Live Shots: Rival Sons, The Sheepdogs, and The Soft White Sixties at The Fillmore, 5/7

The hallowed halls of the Fillmore echoed with rock and roll as Rival Sons brought their “Feral Roots” tour to San Francisco in support of their sixth studio release which dropped earlier this year. Filling a void for straight-up rock and roll that bands like Greta Van Fleet have forcefully pointed out exists in the music world, Rival Sons came to rock and the Bay Area crowd showed up early to roll with them.

Openers The Soft White Sixties kicked off the evening about 15 minutes ahead of the posted schedule but the room was already filling in anticipation. The Sheepdogs followed with a set of Southern Rock inspired tunes from Saskatoon, Canada that would make any Allman Brothers fan giddy with their clean, dueling guitar leads.

Sufficiently warmed up lubricated by the flow of cocktails, the San Francisco crowd was clearly pumped when Rival Sons keyboardist Todd Ögren strolled on stage to announce a mini comedy set by Dean Delray. The 10 minutes of standup went by quickly but could easily have been skipped because the crowd was clearly growing restless.

Finally it was time and Rival Sons strolled onto the stage, clearly ready to rock the Fillmore as they launched into “Back in the Woods.” Those attending damned well better have liked the new album, because the band did not hold back on unleashing the new material live, plowing through 7 songs (half the setlist) off of Feral Roots and leaving little room to do justice to the rest of their catalog during the whopping hour and 45 minute set.

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TVD Live Shots: Killswitch Engage, Parkway Drive, After
the Burial, and Vein at
the Warfield, 4/18

The San Francisco Bay Area doesn’t let a little thing like a 6:30 start time on a Thursday night stop them from enjoying a quality evening of metal, especially when it comes to a Parkway Drive and Killswitch Engage co-headliner. The San Francisco crew lined up early and got rowdy for opening sets by Vein and After the Burial.

By the time Parkway Drive took the stage, the Warfield was packed to the rafters and floor went sideways when they launched into “Wishing Wells” off of last year’s Reverance. It had been well-over a year since these Aussies have hit the stage here and they had clearly been missed. No doubt these guys could have easily headlined this show on their own and as the sweaty kids hobbled out of the pit after the set wrapped with “Bottom Feeder,” the obvious question was how the heck was Killswitch Engage going to follow that? The answer: crushingly.

After a quick change-over KSE was on the stage and frontman Jesse Leach was up in the crowd and wailing to “This Fire.” While some of the faces of front had switched out, the floor was no-less furious as the band raged on, guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz always making sure the mood stayed light as he pogoed around the stage. Not too shabby for a band that’s not only been crushing it for nearly 20 years, but has maintained relevance throughout. Now about that new album, it’s been a while…

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TVD Live Shots: Justin Timberlake at the Oracle Arena, 3/15

It’s been over a year since Justin Timberlake dropped Man of the Woods and he finally brought the show to Oakland, California after having to reschedule from last fall due to bruised vocal chords. The delay certainly did not seem to impact the enthusiasm of the crowd which was clearly in the mood to party.

Upon entering the venue it became immediately clear why there were twenty or so semis parked out front. Timberlake’s stage took the concept of the “in the round” concert to a new level with a main stage on one end with a catwalk snaking through the crowd to a smaller stage on the other end. In the middle, the “Stage Bar” in the VIP “Party Pit” kept the drinks flowing.

Not surprisingly, the crowd was mostly women (many of whom seem to be dating Justin look-alikes) and when Timberlake finally emerged onto the stage back-lit by blazing white light, they collectively lost their shit. Well-choreographed and perfectly executed, Timberlake sprinted and danced across the arena floor along with his dance troupe, “The Tennessee Kids.”

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TVD Live Shots: Action Bronson, Roc Marciano, and Meyhem Lauren at the Fox Theater, 3/11

In support of his new album White Bronco, rapper Action Bronson has taken to the road along with partners in rhyme Meyhem Lauren and Roc Marciano. The Monday after Daylight Saving Time’s “spring forward” BS found the trio at Oakland’s Fox Theater. Not surprising, the fans slowly trickled into the venue. But you can usually gauge the ticket sales at any Fox show by the number of bars that are open and, with all but one bar running, the attendance quickly swelled to a fair-sized crowd.

For those not contributing to the haze of weed smoke that hung over the crowd, the contact high was inescapable. And with only two turntables and a microphone on stage, the change-overs were speedy. Together, this made for an evening that would prove to be chill by any measure. In fact, none of the acts even brought a single piece of merch to sell, leaving the venue opting to hawk Fox Theater shirts and hoodies.

Meyhem Lauren kicked things off and immediately had the crowd in his pocket. There was no doubt that the Oakland crowd loves this guy and, even when he stepped on stage later that night during both Roc’s and Action’s sets, he was met with huge cheers. In comparison, Roc Marciano seemed to have a tougher time keeping up the momentum. It wasn’t a bad set but he just never seemed to click with the crowd in the way that Meyhem was able to.

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TVD Live Shots: Muse and Walk the Moon at Oracle Arena, 3/9

It’s been a year and a half since Muse last passed through the San Francisco Bay Area but with a new album (Simulation Theory), there was good reason for a return visit, this time to a sold out Oracle Arena in Oakland.

Upon entering, fans were greeted with a massive stage setup which only hinted at the marvel that was set to unfold. Even during Walk the Moon’s 45 minute opening set, the stage was kept dimly lit to avoid letting slip any spoilers.

Doubling down on the space rock theme, the set kicked off with the band seeming to be “beamed” down to the stage while a squad of space trombonists marched their way to the end of the catwalk where frontman Matt Bellamy rose through the floor with mic in hand.

The arena, on its feet from the floor to the rafters, went nuts with what was only the start of a two-hour epic set that was full of surprises. Matt made frequent use of the catwalk before sprinting back to his main mic was fixed stage right. And while his range may have been sometimes limited, the insane visuals punctuated by a giant alien robot rising from behind the stage, more than made up for it.

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TVD Live Shots: Bob Mould and Film School
at the Fillmore, 3/2

The legendary Bob Mould took the stage at San Francisco’s Fillmore Auditorium as part of the city’s annual Noise Pop Music and Arts Festival. Fans seemed to trickle in slowly as openers Film School kicked things off but by the time Bob’s set time rolled closer, it venue was near-capacity.

Clearly not a man for easing into things, Mould speed-walked onto stage without a hint of foreplay where his tech met him half way to the mic stand with his Strat at which point the show was officially on. Pushing his late 50s, Bob was as energetic as someone a fraction of his age as he spun his way around the stage while shredding on “The War,” all without missing a note.

With nothing on stage besides three guys and their instruments, the starkness of the production highlighted the sonic blast filling the room. It was loud and raw and simply mind-blowing. There’s an easy path for a guy like Mould … pick up an acoustic guitar and slow it all down. That is certainly not something that he seemed to have been considered for this tour. In fact, anyone who has given his excellent 2019 release Sunshine Rock a spin would have had a pretty good idea of what would be in store for the evening.

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TVD Live Shots: KISS at the Golden 1 Center, 2/9

A rainy Saturday night in Sacramento, a middle-aged gentleman sat at the bar across the street from the Golden 1 Center wearing a KISS Farewell Tour t-shirt from the year 2000. Nineteen years later, KISS is still playing to packed arenas and still talking about retiring. In fact after 45 years, their “End of the Road Tour” promises to be their last. And they mean it this time. Really.

Performance painter and the evening’s hype man David Garibaldi warmed up the crowd with some brushes and a couple of buckets of paint, transforming three huge black canvasses into rock and roll art as the music blasted. The arena was packed to the rafters when the curtain finally dropped, as Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, and Tommy Thayer were lowered to the stage to “Detroit Rock City” as both the pyro and the crowd went off.

The KISS purists are quick to point out their disappointment that neither original guitarist Ace Frehley nor original drummer Peter Criss are part of the band’s final tour. In fact, just seeing Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer wearing their iconic “Catman” and “Spaceman” makeup is sure to trigger the apoplectic rage of many a KISS Army die-hard.

KISS concerts have always been over the top and this night’s show was no different. Gene spat fire and blood during “God of Thunder,” Paul whizzed over the crowd to perform a couple of songs from a second stage that lowered from the rafters, and there was enough fire and pyro to singe hair in the nosebleed seats. Paul Stanley, still with that swoosh in his swagger, constantly peppered the crowd with picks and commanded the audience like a man far younger than his years. Gene stomped around in his platform boots, tongue hanging out of his mouth.

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TVD Live Shots: Metallica at the Golden
1 Center, 12/7

The hot ticket in town this past Friday was Metallica at the Golden 1 Center which should not come has a surprise since this is the first time in nine years that the band has played this city. Riding high on the 2016 release of Hardwired… to Self-Destruct, the band delivered a scorching set to the capacity crowd.

The evening kicked off with comedian Jim Breuer and his trusty sidekick Joe Sib warming up the crowd with games, tunes, and (of course) comedy, making the wait bearable as the clock ticked past 9 PM. When the lights finally dropped and the “The Ecstasy of Gold” started blaring through the PA, the entire arena stood at attention waiting for the band to emerge.

Having performed in the round for well-over two decades, Metallica has truly mastered this format for live shows and the Hardwired set was truly epic. Dozens of cube-shaped LED screens dropped from the ceiling keeping the attention of the crowd even as the band roamed every inch of the stage. Add the occasional pyro and flames from which you could feel the heat from almost anywhere in the venue, and you’ve got yourself a true spectacle. And if that’s not enough, during “Moth Into Flame,” drones emerged from trap doors in the stage and buzzed around the band members’ heads.

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TVD Live Shots:
The Struts, The Wrecks, and Thunderpussy at
the Fillmore, 11/9

With their second album, Young & Dangerous, fresh out of the hopper, The Struts have the perfect reason to return to the states for a proper headlining tour. “The Body Talks Tour” hit The Fillmore in San Francisco on a Friday night for a sold-out evening of music.

The high-octane evening kicked off with opening sets from Thunderpussy and The Wrecks. Both bands clearly brought a good number of their own fans and proceeded to deliver incredibly energetic sets for the packed house. Whoever curated the tour lineup knocked it out of the park.

The Struts took the stage at 10PM and launched into “Primadonna Like Me,” the new album’s first single. Even though the record has been out only a few days, the San Francisco crowd clearly came prepared, ready to sing and dance along with front man Luke Spiller whose antics served to rile the already boisterous crowd.

Guitarist Adam Slack, it would later be revealed, was operating on minimal sleep after the previous evening’s Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show … clearly moving a little slowly as he sipped Lite Beer from a can, but his fingers flew across those frets when the moment demanded it. Bassist Jed Elliott and drummer Gethin Davies seemed to have fared much better from the previous night’s festivities and appeared to relish in Slack’s discomfort.

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TVD Live Shots:
Arctic Monkeys and
Mini Mansions at the
Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, 10/20

Apparently one night of Arctic Monkeys was not enough for San Francisco who brought their Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino Tour to the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium for two sold out nights.

Saturday night (night #1) found the fans outside on Grove Street clamoring to get through security in time to catch Mini Mansions 40 minute opening set. By the time Arctic Monkeys finally took the stage around 9:20 PM, the venue was literally packed to the rafters.

The band strolled nonchalantly onto stage and frontman Alex Turner, sporting a pale yellow suit, took the spotlight in front of his mic stand as the band launched into “Four Out of Five.” The band’s hiatus leading up to the release in May of this year of Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino seems to have had no impact on the fans’ enthusiasm. In fact, it only seems to have fueled the fervor.

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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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