Author Archives: Jason Miller

TVD Live Shots: Igorrr at Razzmatazz in Barcelona, Spain, 10/7

I’m traveling to Barcelona to speak at a marketing conference for my day gig and checking the touring schedules, as I often do, to see who might be playing in town during that time. As this is my first trip to Spain, I have no idea what the scene is like or what to expect, but I see that French musician and producer extraordinaire Gautier Serre’s Igorrr project will be making an appearance at Razzmatazz, the renowned music venue in Barcelona.

I reach out to the publicist at Metal Blade Records to ask for a photo pass to do a feature on the show, and he makes the necessary arrangements and adds an interview. I fly into Barcelona, speak at the marketing conference, then run over to the venue to meet with the visionary behind Igorrr. We find a table and chairs behind the venue in what looks like an industrial park of sorts. Gautier Serre is French and speaks excellent English. He’s unassuming and not quite who I expected to meet after listening to his music and watching his groundbreaking cinematic videos.

I jump right into the conversation and ask the big question: If you had to describe your music in one word, what would it be? He replies without hesitation, “Myself.” He goes on to describe that he created his style of music because there simply wasn’t anything out there that was like it. So he began mashing up very different types of music, including black and death metal, baroque music, breakcore, and trip-hop. Doing so provides him with a “form of total musical freedom.”

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TVD Live Shots: Sigur Rós at the Eventim Apollo, 9/22

I’ve seen thousands of concerts in my life, but nothing could prepare me for my first Sigur Rós show. Billed as “an evening with” and a 15-song set split into two sets, it was the final night of three sold-out shows at the Eventim Apollo in London. Touring as a stripped-down trio, the critically acclaimed Icelandic band looks to be testing new material currently being written toward a forthcoming eighth studio album.

Moments into the set you are transported to another world. It’s like a live cinematic experience of both beauty and darkness. Frontman Jónsi Birgisson’s falsetto vocals and the use of bowed guitar (think Jimmy Page, but with grace) build a wall of sound that is complemented by some of the most incredible lighting I’ve ever seen. While the trio’s music is very ethereal and atmospheric, when it goes dark, it gets heavy.

Drummer Orri Páll Dýrason transforms from a fusion style jazz drummer in an instant to a raging power player, hitting each drum with the force of a cannon. It’s an incredible dynamic to watch live, and at certain points I literally thought his drum set was going to break apart.

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TVD Live Shots: The Struts at the Electric Ballroom, 9/18

Here’s something you don’t see every day—a UK band that’s much more well-known in the States than their home country. I’m talking about English glam rock band The Struts. Being a fan of all things glam rock myself, these guys have been on my radar from the day that they signed with Interscope Records when a friend of mine sent me a message that only read, “You need to hear this.”

It’s no secret that The Struts wear their influences on their sleeves and that’s a good thing because they know exactly who they are. Frontman Luke Spiller is the spitting image of the late, great Freddie Mercury, and he has the moves and voice to back it up. You can tell within the first few seconds of a Struts show that this guy was born to do this. He uses every square inch of the stage at his disposal and ignites the crowd with the energy of a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific.

Highlights from the set? How about the entire fucking set was one big highlight. New songs “One Night Only” and “Who Am I” take the band’s songwriting to a new level underscoring the fact that these guys are the real deal. “Kiss This” and “Could Have Been Me” just about blew the roof off of the Electric Ballroom.

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TVD Live Shots:
The Sisters of Mercy
and Therapy? at the Roundhouse, 9/2

One of the most architecturally astounding and unique spaces in London hosting one of the most influential rock bands of the UK post punk scene—The Sisters of Mercy with two sold out nights at the Roundhouse had the makings for one of the most epic shows of the year, and it delivered big. “We rock like a motherfucker,” says Sisters frontman Andrew Eldritch in a recent interview, and that certainly was the case.

If there was ever any doubt that the Sisters of Mercy are a full-blown rock ‘n’ roll band, that can be fully put to rest within the first few songs of their live show. While Eldritch remains the only “original” member of the group, he’s hired some incredibly capable musicians to back him for his electrifying live show.

Although the Sisters of Mercy only officially released three studio albums, they are a prime example of quality over quantity. Whether this is because of a war with their former record label Warner/ East West, it does beg the question—what could have been? Eldritch has mentioned over the years that while the band has recorded bits and pieces, there are no plans for a new record as the value of recorded music continues to be questioned. But he did mention that if Trump gets elected that there would, in fact, be a new Sisters record. So if there is one tiny sliver of goodness that comes from the nightmare that is Trump, this could be it.

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TVD Live Shots: Star Shaped Festival at the
O2 Kentish Town, 8/5

Oh, how I loved the ’90s, and especially the music that came out of it. While the US had is a fair share of breakthrough acts gracing the airwaves, the UK pretty much kicked everyone’s ass when it came to quality. The Brit-pop movement of the ’90s brought us some of the most revered records of all time and gave birth to legends such as Oasis, Blur, and The Verve. But some of the very best of that decade got lost in the mix and overtaken by the next wave of whatever.

Say hello to the Star Shaped Club which reminds us all why we loved this era and proves that these under celebrated artists still have quite a lot to say. The Star Shaped Club puts on monthly Brit Pop parties around the UK with the slogan “Come party like it’s 1995.” They shine a light on the best of ’90s Brit-pop both popular and obscure, brilliantly tapping into nostalgia and keeping the lights on in the house that NME and Melody Maker both built.

Headlining the half day indoor festival was The Bluetones, a band that I missed completely in the ’90s as they didn’t enjoy much success stateside but were massive here in the UK. These guys scored thirteen Top 40 singles and three Top 10 albums in the UK charts, and were the only band on the bill that has remained pretty much active since their heyday. Furthermore, frontman Mark Morris just released a new solo record via Pledge that seems to be doing quite well after achieving 250% of its goal. Having never heard these guys before I was impressed enough to pick up a T-shirt on the way out and added them to my Spotify playlist. How they never broke through in the States is a mystery to me.

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TVD Live Shots: GOAT and The Moonlandingz at O2 Brixton Academy, 7/29

Swedish experimental fusion group GOAT made a triumphant UK return to the legendary O2 Brixton Academy in London last week. It was everything you would expect from a mysterious, masked band with unknown identities and a knack for writing incredibly diverse soundscapes.

Currently based in Gothenburg, GOAT originally hails from Korpilombolo in Sweden which, according to the band, has a history of voodoo worship after a witch doctor arrived and lived there. Supposedly, when Christian crusaders came and destroyed the village, the surviving people fled and placed a curse on the town.

In a recent and rare interview with the Guardian, GOAT’s reclusive leader claimed that the “shamanic group go back two centuries.” He continued discussing the challenges of keeping anonymity in a social media connected world, and the groups dislike of photographers—which all makes sense to me now after doing my best to capture the live show under the most challenging lighting I think I’ve ever had to shoot. (I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.) The full interview is fascinating and can be found here. I imagine that KISS had similar challenges in the ’80s, before the rise of the camera phone.

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TVD Live Shots: Blink 182 at the O2 Arena, 7/20

I’m not sure I’ve ever taken Blink 182 seriously, and that’s probably what the band wants. The southern California trio has built an impressive career bringing their unique brand of pop punk to the masses, and it’s a success story built on a band who never take themselves too seriously and pushed the world out of a dark place when grunge had everyone muting their colors and drowning in a giant pool of self-inflicted sorrow. 

Fast forward 25 years—yes, I know you are feeling old right now, so am I—7 records and two-thirds of the “original” band are still going strong. So strong that they sold out two nights at London’s famed O2 Arena. Having not seen the band in 20 years or more, I wasn’t sure what to expect, especially since founding member Tom DeLonge’s departure and Alkaline Trio’s frontman joining the group full-time.

Those feelings of uncertainty were laid to rest after the first few songs. Matt Skiba is an absolute rock star and an explosive addition to the band. This guy is half punk rock, half Pete Townsend and fits in so well you would have thought he’d been there since the beginning. He brings a certain edge to the band that had been absent over the years, but not necessarily missing. It’s the dawn of a new chapter for the band since the delivery of that first album with the “new guy”—and in this case they hit it out of the park.

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Tommy Victor of Prong on their new Zero Days: “It’s the consummate Prong record.”

The first time I heard Prong was back in 1990 on Headbanger’s Ball. The song was called “Beg to Differ,” and it was pretty much the coolest thing I had heard since discovering thrash metal.

But this was different; it was a new type of thrash. It was hardcore, but also very melodic. I was hooked and instantly became a fan that would hang on every release that followed. Prong would continue to evolve by experimenting with industrial sounds before finding success through MTV and relentless touring, only to be eventually caught up in major label bullshit and drowned out by the unstoppable grunge moment.

Prong founding member Tommy Victor would carry the metal torch forward and continues to deliver new Prong music for over a decade. The power trio is on tour now in advance of the release of the band’s 13th studio album Zero Days, in stores on July 28th. I joined Tommy on his bus in the States to ask him about the new record and a few other burning questions I’ve had as a long time fan.

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TVD Live Shots: Spoon
at the O2 Kentish Town Forum, 6/30

Spoon is a very special type of band, one that has to be heard just once to recognize and celebrate their genius. Watching this band perform live begs the question, how on earth does any band write such remarkable music over and over again? From its beginnings, Kill the Moonlight forward, each of this band’s records has displayed growth—not just pushing the boundaries, but exploring how far they can take a simple idea and have it blossom into something weird and unexpected, yet remarkably catchy.

The first time I saw Spoon was back in 2005 at the Austin City Limits festival where the band played in front of tens of thousands of attendees. I believe the festival was capped at 55K that year, but I remember seeing the largest crowd I’d ever seen before in downtown Austin. It was surreal. It’s not unusual for a “local” band to be much more popular in their hometown, but Austin is a different story—this was a case where the local band would be playing to the same size crowd as headliner Oasis.

Fast forward to last week in London where Spoon played their second show this year, the first being an intimate gig at Club 100 which I would have killed to get into but couldn’t. So it only made sense that they come back and play a proper show for the rest of us. The venue was the O2 Forum in Kentish Town, and the show was everything you’d expect from one of the most original bands on the planet.

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TVD Live Shots: Bash & Pop at The Garage, 6/29

It wasn’t all bad news when The Replacements split up in the early ’90s—the world of rock ‘n’ roll was given the gift of Bash & Pop. And while the band only delivered one full-length record, it was a righteous debut and birthed the anthem known as “Friday Night is Killing Me.” However short-lived it was, it was great to see Tommy Stinson put down the bass and pick up a six string and step up to the helm.

Stinson has the resume of a seasoned vet anchored of course by his time with alt-rock pioneers The Replacements, but also through his stellar projects in the form of Bash & Pop and Perfect. While both projects were equally short-lived, they showcased an incredibly talented frontman with some serious songwriting skills. Add to that a stellar decade-plus journey with the greatest front man of all time as the bass player for Guns N’ Roses and you have a bonafide rock ‘n’ roll juggernaut.

Fast forward to last week when Bash & Pop dropped into The Garage in North London for a warm-up club gig. The band would be gracing the big stage in Hyde Park the following weekend with Green Day, Rancid, and The Hives just to name a few. Bash & Pop were absolutely on fire and came out of the gates swinging. There’s a certain sense of punk rock-ness that comes alive when Stinson gets going. It starts about 2 seconds in and doesn’t let up until the last chords come crashing down.

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  • SUPPORTING YOUR LOCAL INDIE SHOPS SINCE 2007


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