Author Archives: Alan Snodgrass

TVD Live Shots: Black Rebel Motorcycle Club at the Fox Oakland, 2/22

Every February, San Francisco’s Popscene carpet-bombs the Bay Area’s favorite music venues, large and small, with dozens of indie acts spanning several days. Thursday night found Popscene hosting local favorites Black Rebel Motorcycle Club at the historic Fox Theater in Oakland for a headlining set supported by Night Beats in what would amount to an evening of fuzz from a pair of power trios.

Out front, Telegraph Boulevard was calm as concert goers trickled into the Fox to be met by blasts of distortion-heavy psychedelic garage rock from Night Beats whose ample 40 minute set warmed up the room on this unseasonably cold night.

With little fanfare, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club took the stage to hoots and hollers from around the room as they tore into their set. Moody, and plodding yet musical, the dark set was punctuated by frequent blasts of light that revealed Peter and Robert, both sporting black leather, trading vocal duties while drummer Leah Shapiro kept things tight on drums.

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TVD Live Shots:
Vintage Trouble and
Desi Valentine at The Fillmore, 11/16

Having already played some of the biggest stages in the world supporting the likes of The Who and AC/DC, Los Angeles retro-rockers Vintage Trouble aren’t letting all the attention go to their heads. Their most recent headlining tour wrapped up on a rainy Thursday night at San Francisco’s historic Fillmore to a modest yet passionate room.

The evening kicked off with a generous 40 minute opening set by Desi Valentine whose smooth vocals backed by keys and percussion got the gathering crowd into the groove. No doubt having Vintage Trouble frontman Ty Taylor introduce the band helped direct the crowd’s attention towards the stage and away from the bar.

When it comes to Vintage Trouble, it’s hard to avoid the obvious comparisons so it’s not worth pussy-footing around the matter … frontman Ty Taylor has the energy, sass, and soul of a modern-day James Brown backed by a tight band that holds it all down while Ty’s electric stage presence keeps the audience’s attention. That’s exactly what the San Francisco audience expected and that’s exactly what they received.

While the fans seemed to know what to expect, that doesn’t mean the evening was without its surprises. When Ty hopped off the stage during the second song and engaged the crowd in an impromptu dance party, the fans jumped right it. When Ty emerged back on stage holding a dog (was it named Rocky?) and proceeded to finish the song without missing a note …. well, no one is likely to forget this show.

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TVD Live Shots:
The Jesus and Mary Chain and Cold Cave at The Fillmore, 10/19

An unseasonably dreary evening in San Francisco set the perfect tone for The Jesus and Mary Chain’s return to San Francisco where they stopped in support of their March 2017 release, Damage and Joy, the band’s first full length release in 19 years.

The dark and smoky set by opener Cold Cave set an appropriately somber tone with the gathering crowd that seemed modest considering the promise of new material from the headliners. But what the Fillmore crowd may have lacked in numbers, they more than made up for in fervor. And when the band nonchalantly took the stage at 9:15 and launched into “Amputation,” all were content to rock along.

With the band lining the back edge of the stage shrouded in lingering fog and shadows, frontman Jim Reid commanded the open stage, a long mic cable wound up and clenched in his hand as he flawlessly belted out classic after classic. “Amputation” gave way to “Happy When It Rains” which flowed into “Head On” before Reid finally paused to state, “We might play a few songs off of our new album.” Otherwise, the between-song moments were primarily used by the band to create a lot of ruckus while tuning and steered away from the casual banter.

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TVD Live Shots: Depeche Mode with Warpaint at Oracle Arena, 10/10

Not two days after headlining a San Jose show, Depeche Mode paid a second San Francisco Bay Area visit to Oakland’s Oracle Arena where the fans were packed to the rafters and eager. From the looks of things, one date was clearly not enough to sate the Bay Area’s appetite.

So when the house lights finally dropped at 8:45 and the Beatles “Revolution” started blaring out of the PA, the entire room was quickly on its feet. While the band casually strolled on stage with a few happy waves, frontman Dave Gahan appeared on the catwalk at the back of the stage and launched into “Going Backwards” from their March, 2017 release Spirit.

Thirty-seven years in and sounding better than ever, Dave Gahan is a master showman that had the crowd wrapped around his little finger as he danced and preened around the stage. It was clear early on that this evening was going to be a good time for all involved.

Not long into the set, the crew moved Martin Gore’s mic stand center stage while Dave took a much-deserved break and a good portion of the crowd went nuts for what was about to happen—Martin taking over vocal duties on a pair of tunes, “A Question of Lust” and “Home,” the former backed only by Peter Gordeno on keyboards and an arena full of fans on vocals.

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TVD Live Shots: Imagine Dragons, Grouplove,
and K.Flay at Shoreline Amphitheatre, 10/3

It’s been a while since Imagine Dragons have graced a Bay Area stage—something like two years if the internet can be trusted (it cannot)—at the time supporting their second full length release, Smoke + Mirrors. With their latest album Evolve fresh out of the hopper, Imagine Dragons have taken to the road with Grouplove and K.Flay including Tuesday’s performance at Mountain View’s Shoreline Amphitheatre.

The packed house was on its feet when frontman Dan Reynolds emerged from a fog bank into a spotlight to kick of the set with “I Don’t Know Why,” the lights eventually raising to reveal the band as the song (and the evening) quickly kicked into gear, revealing a band that was clearly refreshed from their hiatus and no doubt ready to road test the new tunes.

With the new tunes came a new stage—giant crystals flanked the drum risers and the ceiling was made up of dozens of screens that gave the illusion of a much larger space. And while the blazing light show was enough to illuminate the crowd to the back of the lawn, that wasn’t the end of the production. Giant bubble machines, confetti, and huge balloons set loose from the lawn area were all part of the 90 minute show.

Coming on the heels of a heavy week in music, Reynolds paused from the music early on to address the crowd about the recent events in the Las Vegas, receiving massive applause in support of his sentiment and the tragedy in the band’s hometown. Then, mid-way through the set, the band calmly walked up the aisles though the crowd to a small stage set up by the soundboard for a pair of tunes including an homage to the recently departed Tom Petty (“I Won’t Back Down”).

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TVD Live Shots: Muse,
30 Seconds to Mars,
and PVRIS at Shoreline Amphitheatre, 9/15

English rockers Muse took the Bay Area by storm with a super-sold-out show at Mountain View’s Shoreline Amphitheatre along with supporting acts Thirty Seconds to Mars and PVRIS.

Clearly aware of what Muse had in store, both PVRIS and Thirty Seconds to Mars brought their A-games. While PVRIS’ Lynn Gunn left an impression on the gathering throngs, 3STM’s Jared Leto was absolutely brilliant, traipsing up into the seats during the first song and wowing the Shoreline audience with a set that could have easily filled a headlining slot.

But the crowd that packed the Shoreline was clearly there for Muse and as their set time approached, the entire amphitheater was on its feet from the front row to the very back of the general admission lawn. Finally the band took the stage, the drum riser sliding out from the shadows as the band launched into “Dig Down” in the dark with frontman/guitarist Matt Bellamy only lit by the lights affixed to his guitar and glasses.

With the stage backed by giant LED blocks that occasionally shifted forward and back, Muse put on a show that was both sonically and visually stunning. What makes it more impressive is the amount of sound coming out of four guys (including Morgan Nicholls hiding in the shadows behind the drum kit).

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TVD Live Shots: Foreigner and Cheap Trick at Shoreline Amphitheatre, 9/2

Any band that’s been around for 40 years has plenty of reasons to celebrate, and that’s exactly what Foreigner is doing. Sure enough, these “dirty white boys” are out on the road with Cheap Trick where they’re showing the fans exactly why they’ve lasted this long.

Mountain View’s Shoreline Amphitheatre was the setting for the band’s San Francisco Bay Area stop where, in spite of the unseasonably brutal heat, the fans arrived early and packed the house. Jason Bonham kicked the evening off with a set of Led Zeppelin covers and things rocketed into high gear with Cheap Trick’s hour long set that had guitarist Rick Nielsen peppering the front rows with fistfuls of picks as the band tore through their classics.


Any previously open seats in the amphitheatre quickly filled as a giant curtain was draped across the stage and the crew focused on a remarkably efficient change-over. When the curtain finally dropped, and the band launched into “Double Vision,” the place went crazy.

With only one original member it’s hard to imagine any band retaining such popularity, but Foreigner has done exactly that. Anchored by founding member, lead guitarist, and main songwriter Mick Jones, the band was clearly set on delivering a top-notch performance thanks in no small part to the high energy and vocal abilities of Kelly Hansen who made his way up into the audience early in the set, much to the crowd’s surprise.

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TVD Live Shots:
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers with
The Shelters at the
Greek Theater, 8/30

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers are on the road celebrating their 40th anniversary, a tour that experienced a few postponements (including this one) but shows no sign of letting up. As they continue to prove, time has nothing on these guys.

The third of 3 sold out shows at the Greek Theater in Berkeley kicked off with a nearly hour-long set by Los Angeles based The Shelters, their blues-rooted rock and roll grooves quickly warming up the gathering crowd which rewarded the effort with a hearty ovation. The appeal of The Shelters to the night’s crowd was not surprising given the fact that their self-titled debut album was co-produced by Tom Petty himself.

By the time the Heartbreakers took the stage, the sun had set over the balmy evening and the amphitheater was packed and ready to rock. Last on stage was a beaming Tom Petty, showing no sign of whatever affliction led to show postponements. Introducing the set with the first tune off of their self-titled 1976 debut, the band wasted no time rolling into “Rockin’ Around (With You).”

Looking and sounding great, Petty played the role of the gracious host who wants to make sure that his guests are having as good a time as he is. Oh they sure were … literally everyone in the amphitheater except for 8 people were on their feet throughout the nearly two-hour performance that delivered a career-spanning setlist of hit after hit.

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TVD Live Shots: Dropkick Murphys, Rancid, The Selecter, Kevin Seconds at the Greek Theatre, 8/20

Rancid and Dropkick Murphys are on the road together with their “From Boston to Berkeley Tour” which ironically neither started in Boston nor will end in Berkeley. But that’s neither here nor there, because Sunday night at Berkeley’s Greek Theatre made for a truly epic evening of music.

With school just starting at the University, the frat bros where partying hard a mere few blocks from where Kevin Seconds (of 7 Seconds fame) kicked things off to the gathering crowd with an acoustic set. In spite of decades in punk rock, Kevin still has an amazing voice that soared over the chattering crowd. It takes balls to stand up in front of a few thousand people with only a mic and a guitar and Kevin absolutely nailed it, ending the short and sweet set with a sing-along of 7 Seconds’ “Leave a Light On.”

Next up, 2-Tone ska veterans The Selecter who stepped on the tour mid-way through. With a black curtain draped across most of the stage, the band made maximum use of what was left for them at the edge of the stage, their energy infectious. And while it was only 6PM, the general admission pit was packed and folks seemed to have had enough time to get their drink on because they were clearly ready to dance. As a special surprise, Lynval Golding from The Specials joined them on stage to close out the set.

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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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