Author Archives: Alan Snodgrass

TVD Live Shots: Slayer, Lamb of God, Behemoth at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, 8/9

The biggest metal tour of the summer is steamrolling across America with the mighty Slayer as headliner along with support from Lamb of God and Polish Satanists, Behemoth. Despite hailing from Los Angeles, Slayer has always been treated by the San Francisco Bay Area as a hometown band. Since adding Exodus’ Gary Holt on guitar (after original guitarist Jeff Hanneman’s untimely passing in 2013) and with Paul Bastoph back on drums, it was not surprising that the San Francisco fans arrived early and ready to rage.

The sidewalk in front of the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium was eerily quiet accept for the usual scalpers, junkies, and street food vendors as openers Behemoth took the stage at the unholy hour of 7PM, but San Francisco knows what’s up with these guys and the auditorium floor was already packed for their brief but deliciously evil 30 minute set that found frontman Nergal and the band roaring from behind cobra-wound mic stands and delighting in the response. Without time for their usual theatrics, no doubt San Francisco hopes that they return soon for a proper headlining set.

With the crowd already in a frothy mood, Lamb of God took the stage to a roaring response and tore right into “Laid To Rest” which got the pit instantly churning. Frontman Randy Blythe was on fire, literally flying off his stage riser and whipping the crowd into a frenzy, inciting more and more to join the already frenzied mosh. The band stepped off the stage after 30 minutes only to return shortly thereafter amid a hail of “Lamb of God” chants from the crowd to finish what amounted to a generous 50+ minutes set.

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TVD Live Shots: Green Day with Catfish and the Bottlemen at Oakland Coliseum, 8/5

There’s nothing quite like a hometown Green Day show. The fans, young and old, line up early and sprint for the barricade as soon as the doors open in order to secure their coveted spot up front. The much-anticipated Saturday night show at the Oakland Coliseum was no different … just on a much, much grander scale.

Catfish and the Bottlemen kicked things off with a brief but powerful set. The eager crowd really had no need for warming up … every insignificant development on or around the stage was met with cheers … so CATB served minimally as a necessary distraction, but more importantly put on a great show.

When Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” started blasting over the P.A., everyone in the stadium knew what was up and enthusiastically sang along, no doubt hoping to become a participant in the next viral Facebook video. But Drunk Bunny’s antics where he (she?) threw bunny dolls into the crowd as the crowd chanted “Hey Ho, Let’s Go” along to the Ramones “Blitzkrieg Bop” whipped things into a frenzy as the general admission floor compressed toward the stage.

And then … boom! The curtain covering Tre’s riser dropped, the band was onstage and the show was on! Billy Joe and Mike made maximum use of the ample stage with Billy frequenting the end of the extension to incite the fans positioned at the end (as if that was necessary). Blasts of pryro ushered in “Bang Bang,” providing some eye candy for the folks in the stadium seats who were most likely getting their view from the massive video screens mounted on each side of the stage.

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TVD Live Shots: Avenged Sevenfold at Shoreline Amphitheatre, 7/28

Avenged Sevenfold may be on the road with Metallica on their massive stadium tour, but that hasn’t stopped them from sprinkling in a bunch of headlining dates to keep themselves busy on Metallica’s off days. This past Friday night found A7X at Mountain View’s Shoreline Amphitheatre with A Day to Remember and Ho99o9 for, according to front man M. Shadows, their largest Bay Area headlining show to date.

The show kicked off in the blazing late afternoon sun with a ripping set by hardcore band Ho99o9. The trio made up of a drummer, a singer, and a DJ/singer was met with a combination of shock and bemusement, but will no doubt be remembered.

Next up, A Day To Remember which took the stage as the sun finally set behind the general admission lawn and launched into “All I Want.” The crowd was surprisingly receptive and on their feet from the front row to the lawn, even as vocalist Jeremy McKinnon channeled what appeared to be agitation into a ferocious performance.

With the positive response to ADTR’s set, one might have expected the crowd to thin out, but that was certainly not the case and the amphitheater appeared even fuller as A7X finally took the stage. Given the nature of these one-off shows, one might have also expected fairly meager production. Indeed, at first glance there were only some LED screens and a tiny drum raiser. But when Synyster Gates took center stage for “The Stage,” it all lit up in a way that thoughtfully complimented the band’s performance. But that wasn’t all … not by a long shot … flames generously belched out from under the screens throughout the entire set, thankfully warming the front rows as the night chilled.

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TVD Live Shots: All
Time Low, SWMRS, The Wrecks, and Waterparks at The Fox Theater, 7/8

The Young Renegades Tour featuring headliners All Time Low hit Oakland’s Fox Theater along with SWMRS, Waterparks, and The Wrecks for a Saturday night pop punk extravaganza that started with the kids lining up early and packing the general admission floor as soon as the doors opened.

Clearly in the mood for a party, the kids, few of whom admitted to having heard of them before, lapped up The Wrecks opening set which kicked things off ridiculously early at 6:50 pm to the already packed house. Next up, Waterparks, which already had some clear momentum with the Bay Area crowd, leading vocalist Awsten Knight to remark that the biggest mistake of their career was waiting so long to come to Oakland.

While All Time Low was the headliner, there was a palpable eagerness for hometown boys SWMRS’ set. This band is absolutely blowing up and Oakland was supremely pumped to see them again, even after a couple of recent festival appearances over the last few months including BottleRock. Clearly well-tuned from the road, SWMRS ripped it up on stage as the crowd went absolutely bonkers.

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TVD Live Shots: Duran Duran at Fox Theater, 7/7

Nearly 2 years after the release of Paper Gods, Duran Duran shows no sign of letting up, returning to the San Francisco Bay Area with a pair of headlining shows including a Friday night at Oakland’s historic Fox Theater.

Oakland’s Uptown District’s “First Friday” found throngs of people celebrating on Telegraph Avenue, largely oblivious to what was going on just past the doors of the Fox where the sold out crowd absolutely packed the house as they waited patiently for Duran Duran’s scheduled 9 PM set as a DJ spun records.

When the band finally took the stage at 10 past the hour to “Paper Gods,” the crowd of mostly women erupted in screams. With the spotlights trained on frontman Simon Le Bon, perched on the riser between the drums and keyboards, the show was finally on.

While Duran Duran’s greatest commercial success came in the ’80s, from the looks of the Oakland crowd, Paper Gods has clearly made an impression. For those that may have been not so familiar with the new stuff, “The Wild Boys” and “Hungry Like the Wolf” quickly sealed the deal for what would prove to be an amazing evening of music.

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TVD Live Shots: Ghost
at Oracle Arena, 7/5

The band Ghost may be one of the most polarizing bands in metal. There are those who embrace the shtick and rejoice in the opportunity to worship at the altar of Papa Emeritus III and his Nameless Ghouls, and then there are those who simply don’t get it.

Only three days earlier, Ghost had delivered an epic headlining performance across the bay in San Francisco and here they are on a Wednesday night at Oakland’s Oracle Arena opening for the mighty Iron Maiden, a band that could quickly and easily sell out any venue of this size with no opener at all.

Ghost

While there were folks still pre-partying in the parking lot when Ghost kicked things off at 7:30, the arena was respectfully packed with a combination of Ghost diehards packing the barricade and curiosity seekers who no doubt wanted to see what all the hubbub was about.

With a generous 45+ minute set and their own stage production, Ghost tore through the highlights of their catalog, a chatty Papa Emeritus repeatedly sexualizing their transparent homages to Satan. The current batch of Nameless Ghouls proved to be way more energetic than their predecessors, giving off the impression that this is a band that’s truly found their groove.

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TVD Live Shots:
Poison and Tesla at Oracle Arena, 6/13

Less than 24 hours after the Golden State Warriors sealed the deal for the NBA Championship, Oakland’s Oracle Arena re-opened its doors for another sort of event. Poison is currently on tour with Def Leppard but somehow managed to squeeze in a headlining show.

Any sign of the previous night’s festivities were gone from the arena by the time openers Tesla took the stage at 8PM for a generous 60 minute set. Hailing from just down the road in Sacramento, Tesla is pretty much treated as a local band in the Bay Area and the crowd this night was definitely on its feet and singing along.

The stage crew made quick work of the change-over and had Poison taking the stage a few minutes ahead of their scheduled 9:30PM set time. While small, the crowd was enthusiastic and, when the band finally took the stage to “Look What the Cat Dragged In,” pushed forward from their seats to crowd the barricade and stage extension.

Billed as a 30th anniversary reunion of the original lineup, Brett Michaels (vocals), Rikki Rockett (drums), Bobby Dall (bass), and C.C. DeVille (guitar) let loose from the first notes of what proved to be a high-energy set with everyone in the band making full use of the space available and giving plenty of attention to the folks up front. These guys clearly were enjoying themselves.

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TVD Live Shots: U2 at Levi’s Stadium, 5/17

U2 is currently on the road on a massive stadium tour celebrating the 30th anniversary of The Joshua Tree album. Wednesday night found them in the heart of the Silicon Valley at Levi’s Stadium in front of a sold-out crowd, certainly a far cry from the Cow Palace where they played just over 30 years ago.

The 50,000 or so fans that packed Levi’s Stadium seemed patient, yet celebratory, as they waited for U2 to finally take the stage after Mumford & Sons opening set. At 8PM sharp, Larry Mullen finally emerged onto the massive stage, made his way down the ramp to the Joshua Tree-shaped extension, quietly sat behind his kit, and launched into the familiar rat-a-tat-tat of “Sunday Bloody Sunday.” The crowd erupted as, one by one, The Edge, Bono, and Adam Clayton each made the same walk.

Playing in the middle of the general admission crowd, U2 kicked off the evening with a handful of classics from the War and The Unforgettable Fire albums, creating a surprisingly intimate experience for those on the field while still captivating those in the nosebleeds as they were blasted with dramatic lighting from all sides as fog wafted around them.

The core of Wednesday show came in the form of a front-to-back run through of The Joshua Tree which the band ushered in by strolling together up the ramp to the main stage and pausing under the massive screen lit with a giant Joshua tree.

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TVD Live Shots:
The xx and Sampha at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, 4/16

Mid-April, the time of year when the San Francisco Bay Area avails itself of the between-weekend touring by Coachella artists. 2017’s Coachella spill-over brought The xx to San Francisco’s Bill Graham Civic Auditorium for not one, not two, but a whopping three nights of shows.

Hailing from London, The xx are running high on their latest release I See You which dropped in January to critical acclaim. So it came as no surprise that the fans packed the front of the 7,000 capacity venue on Easter Sunday as the DJ warmed things up before opener Sampha’s 45 minute set.

The crowd went nuts when The xx finally took the stage at 9:40 and launched into “Say Something Loving” off of I See You. Fresh off playing in front of the massive Coachella crowds, The xx were downright giddy and nearly speechless over the reaction from the San Francisco crowd.

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TVD Live Shots: The Kills and Dream Wife at the Fox Theatre, 3/22

The Kills are on the road supporting their 15th anniversary with a handful of West Coast dates that wrapped up at Oakland’s Fox Theater.

Those who arrived early were treated to an amazing set by Dream Wife. Based in London with an Icelandic vocalist (who spent the first 10 years of her life in the Bay Area and was clearly stoked be back), the band tore through a generous 40 minute set that showed why The Kills have tapped them for this tour. Crunchy, searing guitars juxtaposed with dreamy, charged vocals made for a set that few will forget.

Sufficiently primed for the headliners, the anticipation for The Kills 9:30 set was palpable as the crew transformed the stage, finally revealing a giant Ash & Ice backdrop. Strolling out onto the stage and blasting into “Heart of a Dog,” The Kills quickly demonstrated that they meant business.

Jamie Hince played muse on guitar to Alison Mosshart’s vocals … the stone-faced yin to her wild, hair-flinging yang. Near-perfect opposites that together were a combined force on stage that had the crowd ecstatic and rapt with attention.

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