Author Archives: Matthew Belter

TVD Live Shots: Corey Taylor and Friends at
the Garden Grove Amphitheatre, 5/19

Corey Taylor may be one of the most versatile vocalists on the planet today, and he exhibited that once again on rainy Sunday night in Southern California. From The Damned to Prince to Boz Scaggs, Taylor slayed an incredible 18-song set of rock and roll classics that had fans from all walks of life out of their seats and rocking. 

When most think of Corey Taylor, minds immediately race to bands like Slipknot or Stone Sour where for years he has demonstrated an incredible vocal prowess along with a song-writing ability that few (if any) can match. His music is powerful, his vocals are solid, and his following is enormous. Few, however, know that Corey Taylor also tours solo from time to time. These are usually intimate performances where he can branch out into different types of music that helped shape the musician he is today. A Corey Taylor and Friends show typically covers classics across multiple genres and are done so in a way that pays tribute to the very artists he has come to know and love.

Kicking off Sunday’s show were Southern California heart-throbs, the Cherry Bombs. This uber-talented dance troupe are considered the Darlings of Rock & Roll and captivated the near-capacity crowd with a super-sexy performance that I’m sure most in attendance would not have expected. The Cherry Bombs’ show was a combination of Cirque de Soleil, the Seventh Veil, and Home Depot all rolled into one. Whether you were into pole dancing, fire, or hula hoops, this one had it all and then some. It was the perfect way to get Sunday’s party started, and a party it was.

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TVD Live Shots: Yngwie Malmsteen, Sunlord, and Paralandra at the House of Blues, 5/5

Yngwie Malmsteen is arguably one of the most incredible guitarists on the planet today. Inspired by classic composers such as Paganini and Bach, this virtuoso from Stockholm, Sweden has taken the world by storm since going solo in 1984 and has never looked back.

A touring madman, Malmsteen is back at it again in 2019, blazing trails across the US in support of his latest album, Blue Lightning. Over the past 20 years, I have seen Yngwie perform on countless occasions, and each time I am blown away by the sheer magic that pours out in every performance. His distinct sound is like no other guitarist on the scene today—fusing classical music with rock into a melodic masterpiece that transcends time and space.

On May 5th, Yngwie Malmsteen marched back into Southern California (one of 5 local shows) for a night of mind-blowing guitar gymnastics at Orange County’s premier concert venue, the Anaheim House of Blues. Different from most Malmsteen performances, there would be two opening acts prior the Maestro taking center stage.

First up was Missouri quartet, Paralandra. I honestly wasn’t expecting much going into this set and was literally blown out of the photo pit by Cassandra Carson and her incredible vocals. Her on stage persona reminded me a lot of Lzzy Hale with some unique vocal twists that took their set up a notch. Next up was a killer metal trio out New York City called Sunlord. I have never heard of the band before, but really enjoyed their time on stage. Alfonso Ferrazza seemed to channel Lemmy throughout the set, and I will definitely be digging into this band going forward.

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TVD Live Shots: Sammy Hagar & The Circle with S.Ø.S at Harrah’s, 4/26

LAUGHLIN, NV | Fifty years into a remarkable career, Sammy Hagar continues to sell-out venues across the country, and Friday night’s show in Laughlin was no exception. It was standing room only at Harrah’s as Redheads from around the world gathered to pay tribute to one of the most gifted showmen in rock and roll history. And as one might expect, Sammy Hagar & The Circle put on a clinic for the 5,000+ in attendance and showed everyone lucky enough to be there that “There’s Only One Way to Rock!”

As a professional music photographer, I am blessed to be able to see a ton of amazing live music in ridiculously cool locations all across the country. Some of the bands I see are huge, others are just getting their careers started and have little if any following. From the thousand-plus shows I have seen live, there is one thing I can tell you with absolute certainty—there are very few bands out there that have what I consider the “IT” factor—that special mojo that keeps them fresh and relevant on the ever-turbulent musical rollercoaster. Sammy Hagar checks off all those boxes and then some. In tandem with the legendary bassist Michael Anthony, guitar virtuoso Vic Johnson, and drummer extraordinaire Jason Bonham (collectively known as The Circle) you have all of the ingredients necessary to fuel one of the most amazing bands on the planet today.

Kicking off Friday’s show in Laughlin was S.Ø.S, the solo project of California-based singer/songwriter and literal son of The Red Rocker himself, Andrew Hagar. Accompanied by Shredmaster Scott on the electric guitar (a true bad-ass, if you ask me), these two kicked off the party in stellar rock and roll fashion with five killer songs that I would consider Gonzo Garage Folk. Their set was original, energetic, and most importantly real in a world where far too often new music is shallow, unimaginative, and boring.

Andrew captivated the near-capacity crowd with tracks like “Always Winning” and “Dirty Feet,” but my favorite of the night was “Triggerman,” a well-written song about the epidemic of senseless shootings in our society today. I felt this one pushed the masses over the edge and highlighted why the younger Hagar will be a force to be reckoned with in the not so distant future. If you have not heard of Andrew Hagar or S.Ø.S, give their latest EP, “From the Other Side,” a spin.

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TVD Live Shots: Queensrÿche and
Fates Warning at the Observatory, 3/27

As a lifetime fan, I could not have been more pleased with Queensrÿche’s recent performance in San Diego. Where many people wrote them off after Geoff Tate’s departure, I argue that the band is even better with Todd LaTorre at the helm and are now performing at a level not seen since 1990’s Empire. Wednesday’s show—along with their latest release, The Verdict—has signaled the reemergence of one of the most important bands in the history of progressive metal.

The early eighties were a magical time for rock and roll. Bands like Rush, Iron Maiden, and Van Halen were all in their prime and upstart bands like Mötley Crüe and Poison were beginning to take a hold on the Hollywood music scene. The Sunset Strip was flush with new talent, and clubs such as The Whisky and Troubadour were showcasing these acts nightly.

Then seemingly out of nowhere, a little-known band from Seattle named Queensrÿche burst onto the scene. Their unique brand of progressive rock infused with thought-provoking lyrics quickly won over the hearts and minds of fans worldwide. Almost 40 years and 30 million+ albums later, this band is still rocking harder than ever. On Wednesday, March 27th, Michael Wilton (guitar), Eddie Jackson (bass), Todd LaTorre (vocals), Parker Lundgren (guitar), and Casey Grillo (drums) took over the Observatory Northpark in San Diego for what turned out to be an epic night of rock and roll.

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TVD Live Shots: Dream Theater at the Wiltern Theatre, 3/21

If you’re a fan of Dream Theater, it should come as no surprise that the band is still at the top of their game. For others who may be just getting to know these prog legends, there is quite a bit to learn about a band who has touched so many and given so much over a near 35-year career in the music industry.

From their early days when they were known simply as Majesty to the present, Dream Theater has continued to create a distinctive brand of progressive rock that engages the mind and inspires the soul with followers all around the world. Consummate story tellers, Dream Theater has a unique way of enlightening their audience through their incredible passion for music—an art that is very rare (and truly under-appreciated) in music’s modern era.

On March 21st, Dream Theater brought the latest chapter in their evolution to the Wiltern Theatre in downtown Los Angeles. Prior to the show getting underway, the band always takes some time to meet their most loyal fans in a special VIP meet and greet session. What is different about these sessions from other commercial VIP events is that the band interacts with each of their fans personally. Some got autographs from their favorite band members, others had their unique Dream Theater memorabilia signed, and most took advantage of the cool photo-op with the band. Fans were never rushed, and the band seemed truly humbled by the outpouring of love and support received throughout the event.

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TVD Live Shots:
Daron Malakian and Scars on Broadway at
the Observatory, 3/7

Even though it’s been 10 long years since the initial self-titled album was released, there seems to be no visible break in the sheer genius that Daron Malakian brings to the table. His music is fresh, his lyrics are thought-provoking, and his sound is clearly unmistakable.

So, who is this Daron Malakian character? Most people simply know him as guitarist extraordinaire for one of the biggest metal bands of all-time, System of a Down. Digging a little deeper, one would find that he’s the mad scientist responsible for writing most of the music on their five incredible albums. Daron is an innovator, an instigator, and a provocateur all rolled into one. And when most fans simply gave up on any new music from SOAD (after the band went into hiatus in 2006), Daron pulled a rabbit out of his hat and formed his own amazing band known simply as Scars on Broadway.

That band has evolved over the years and was rebranded in 2018 as Daron Malakian and Scars on Broadway with the release of their second album, Dictator. On Thursday evening, before a packed house at The Observatory in Santa Ana, fans from all over Southern California (and around the world) got a rare chance to see Daron Malakian and Scars on Broadway perform live. And as we all found out, this would be no ordinary show. Daron surprised fans by opening the show with a new track, “Animal,” and then blazed through both Scars on Broadway releases in their entirety.

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TVD Live Shots:
One Love Cali Reggae Festival, 2/8–2/10

A sold-out crowd of over 25,000+ made their way to beautiful Long Beach, California for one of the largest reggae gatherings in 2019, the 4th annual One Love Cali Reggae Festival. As in years past, the show was presented by The World Famous KROQ and was set up in the massive shadow of the historic Queen Mary.

This year’s festival featured some amazing food, ice cold beer, and killer music featuring some incredibly talented reggae artists. World-class performances by Rebelution, Slightly Stoopid, and Sublime with Rome headlined the now three-day event and showcased why the One Love Cali Reggae Festival is quickly becoming the standard for reggae festivals worldwide.

On stage at this year’s festival were over 50 top-shelf acts spanning rock, rap, roots, and of course reggae. Each graced the Koi CBD and SMKFLWR Stages with brilliant music that calmed the mind and inspired the soul for the thousands in attendance. Aside from a few sound issues on day one, a handful of these performances separated themselves from the others in ways that literally blew my mind. Here are a few of my favorite performances from this year’s One Love Festival:

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Andrew Hagar,
The TVD Interview

Andrew Hagar, the son of legendary musician Sammy Hagar, is anything but typical. From an early age he decided to forge his own path that included diversions one might find contrary to the rock and roll lifestyle that many might expect growing up as a “rockstar’s son.” Andrew’s passions have led him from martial arts and combat sports, working with “at-risk” kids, theoretical physics, and then full-circle back to music. His journey was not easy nor expected, but one that was necessary to fully actualize his true self.

With the recent release of his latest band’s first single “Triggerman,” we sat down with Hagar explore his unique path, his love for vinyl, and his ultimate desire to give back to underprivileged children in need.

Let’s get rolling—how did you get started in music?

I got started in music kind of by accident. I originally ran away screaming from music because everybody else in my family was going toward it. From a young age I started doing other things. I started studying martial arts when I was five and then got into Ninja Turtles, and that stuff led me down that path. Then when I was about 24 or 25, a girl I was dating at the time bought me an acoustic guitar because I had been playing a lot of Guitar Heroes with my buddy, and it was one of those silly things where I got good at the game and all my friends were like, “Why the hell are you playing this game? You should just get a real guitar,” I got a real guitar and then it just kind of started from there.

When did you begin to take music seriously?

I didn’t start taking it seriously until about four years ago when I was staying with the Kristoffersons. [Kris Kristofferson]. They had a tour coming up in Scotland and asked me if I wanted to help them carry bags and stuff because I was dating their daughter Kelly at the time. Then one day we were just all just messing around singing some duets and they were like, “Dude, you should open for us.” It was crazy. I never, ever would have guessed in my wildest dreams that would have happened.

Tell me, what was it like performing on stage for the very first time?

I remember we were at the Queen’s Hall in Edinburgh, Scotland and couldn’t believe that I was there. Everything just kind of hit me all at once. I wasn’t worried about what other people were going to think necessarily, I just wanted to go out there and do my best. Frankly, I just really wanted to make sure that I wasn’t awful.

And how did that show turn out?

I went out there and after about a song and a half I could see people in the crowd were actually into it. I felt like we were doing a really good job and had this epiphany moment where I was like, “Jesus, this is awesome.” We only had maybe 15 minutes up there, but I remember when it was over, I was like, “Man, I just want to do this all night.”

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TVD Live Shots: Disturbed and Three Days Grace at Pechanga Arena, 1/9

Kicking off their long-awaited 2019 Evolution Tour, Disturbed electrified fans from all over the world with an incredible performance in San Diego on a chilly Wednesday evening. Their 16-song set took “Disturbed Ones” on an incredible journey into the heart and soul of one of the world’s most beloved metal bands and left little doubt why they still reign supreme on the altar of all things metal. 

Let’s be frank, there are literally hundreds of bands touring the globe right now spanning all genres of music. From punk to pop (and everything in between), one can easily find a live show to drop their hard-earned money on. More difficult is finding a band that is worthy of your investment. How many times have you walked out of a gig shaking your head wondering why you came in the first place? Seems to happen to me all the time, but not Wednesday night as Disturbed kicked off their highly anticipated 2019 Evolution Tour in San Diego. This show had it all and then some.

Opening the evening’s festivities were Canadian rockers Three Days Grace. From the first notes of their latest single “The Mountain” to the final crescendo of 2006’s classic “Riot,” this band fired on all-cylinders with what could have been a “headlining set.” Matt Walst’s vocals were dialed in all evening and the musicianship of brother Brad Walst (bass), Barry Stock (guitars), and Neil Sanderson (drums) were second to none. If you have not checked out their 2018 release, Outsider, do yourself a favor and give it a spin at your earliest. It’s an instant classic.

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TVD Live Shots:
Save Ferris, Mest, The Untouchables, and Hoist the Colors at House of Blues Anaheim, 12/1

Save Ferris is considered by many to be one of the most important ska bands of our generation. Fronted by the uber-talented Monique Powell, this band fuses traditional ska beats with an edgy punk rock attitude that has withstood the test of time and continues to sell out shows all over the country. Their performance on Saturday night in Anaheim was no exception as superfans lined up early for their chance to rush the barricade and get up close and personal with one of Orange County’s finest.

After incredible opening sets by Mest, The Untouchables, and Hoist the Colors (all who could have individually headlined shows of their own), Save Ferris took the stage and opened with an amazing cover of The Waitresses 1981 smash, “Christmas Wrapping.” This holiday classic was just what the doctor ordered to get the anxious crowd off their feet and skanking to the beat—officially kicking off the holiday season in typical Save Ferris style. For those in attendance, this show was already was shaping up to be an instant classic.

For the next few hours, the 2000+ fans who packed the Anaheim House of Blues were captivated by Save Ferris and their holiday infused setlist—standards that included hits “Goodbye,” “Mistaken,” and “Your Friend” off 1999’s Modified. The night ended with a brilliant encore including two fan favorites, “She Has a Girlfriend Now” and a cover of Dexy’s Midnight Runners’ smash, “Come on Eileen.” What an incredible way to wrap up an amazing set and a perfect way to kick off the 2018 Holiday Season here in Southern California.

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TVD Live Shots:
P.O.D. and Nonpoint at Observatory Orange County, 11/20

Fans of all ages descended upon Orange County for P.O.D. and Nonpoint’s third and final stop in Southern California, and by all fan accounts the show was one of their best combined performances on tour this year.

From circle pits to crowd surfing and everything in between, those in attendance got their money’s worth as these two “nu-metal” heavyweights took the stage on a Tuesday night. Both band’s performances were raw, inspired, and seemed to transport their fans back to a time and place when all that mattered was the music. For me, that takes it to a whole new level and separates “good” live bands from “great” ones. These bands were the latter.

For those who have followed Nonpoint over the years, it should be no surprise that Tuesday’s show opening for P.O.D. would be one for the ages. The band, consisting of Elias Soriano (vocals), Robb Rivera (drums), Rasheed Thomas (rhythm guitar), Adam Woloszyn (bass), and BC Kochmit (lead guitar) left it all on the stage with an incredible 45-minute set in front of a near-capacity crowd.

Those in attendance were treated to Nonpoint classics such as “What a Day,” “Breaking Skin,” and “Bullet with a Name.” And if those were not enough, fans got to hear some killer tracks off their 2018 release, X, including “Chaos and Earthquakes” and “Dodge Your Destiny.” Both songs are amazing and even more powerful when performed by this group of killer technicians. If you have not picked up this album, do so. It simply rocks from beginning to end.

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TVD Live Shots: Tech N9ne with Dizzy Wright, Futuristic, and Anilyst
at the House of Blues Anaheim, 10/30

At the half-way point of his 2018 “Independent Grind Tour,” Tech N9ne conjured up his inner demons and unleashed them upon the thousands in attendance on Tuesday night. His “Pre-Halloween” performance at the House of Blues in Anaheim was simply brilliant and highlighted with exclamation points the incredible talent that this man possesses. Whether it be writing, rapping, or performing on stage, Tech N9ne continues to push boundaries that most artists would simply just avoid.

The first opener to take the stage on Tuesday was Fresno’s very own Anilyst. To say this guy was solid would be an understatement. Seff whipped the near-capacity crowd into a frenzy that would set the stage for the rest of the evening. After a raucous 20-minute performance, Arizona native Futuristic was up next. This guy was on fire during his 30 minutes on stage. And as fans were just beginning to catch their breath, Dizzy Wright took the stage and assaulted the crowd with a powerful set that literally rocked the venue to its core. This was independent rap at its best.

Finally, around 9:45PM, house lights dimmed and a short intro video signaled the start of Tech N9ne’s eagerly awaited performance. As the video came to an end, Tech made his way to the stage in an all-grey jump suit, black face paint (mirroring his look in the video), and kicked off his set with “Anti” (off 2015’s Special Effects). Energy levels were now at an “11” as the show got underway and there was no turning back at this point. Add some of Tech’s Bou Lou Craft Beer (in partnership with KC’s Boulevard Brewing Company), and you had all the ingredients necessary for one heck of a Halloween party.

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TVD Live Shots: System Of A Down and At The Drive-In at the Valley View Casino Center, 10/17

For the 15,000+ in attendance on Wednesday evening, System Of A Down put on what many called their best live performance in the past ten years. Serj Tankian, Daron Malakian, Shavo Odadjian, and John Dolmayan took no prisoners in San Diego with a 30-song set that left even the most die-hard SOAD fan well-satisfied after an incredible night of true metal mayhem in what many call “America’s Finest City.”

Opening Wednesday’s show were post-hardcore legends, At The Drive-In. Founded in 1994, this quirky quartet from El Paso, TX took those lucky enough to be seated on a wild ride that challenged their minds and obliterated their senses. At the Drive-In’s set was dark, powerful, and the perfect elixir to wake up the near-capacity crowd at Valley View Casino Center.

What I loved most about this set (aside from their incredible music) was the unpredictability of vocalist Cedric Bixler. One minute he was center stage killing vocals on a classic like “Enfilade,” the next he was leaping off Tony Hajjar’s the drum kit like he was Superman himself. My only wish for this set was that it would have been longer—8 songs is just not enough to give a band like At The Drive-In the justice they deserve. Hope to see these guys headlining in 2019.

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TVD Live Shots: Sammy Hagar’s High Tide Beach Party & Car Show, 10/6

HUNTINGTON BEACH, CA | Reading some of the reviews of Sammy Hagar’s High Tide Beach Party & Car Show, one might get the impression that Saturday’s all-day festival might have fallen a bit short of expectations. Well, we were on site wire to wire and can unequivocally say that aside from a few “opening day” challenges that any new event might encounter, this beach bash kicked some major ass. Food was solid, drinks were plentiful, and this year’s musical lineup was simply out of this world.

As you might expect, anything that Sammy Hagar touches turns to gold—and this event was no exception. Opening acts such as Sir Please, Drew Hagar, the Dead Mermaids Feat. Green Day’s Tre Cool, and Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers helped elevate a growing crowd that admittedly had some challenges getting into the seaside venue. Each of their sets were solid and all played with a reckless abandon that resonated with fans attending from all around the world. Add some of Hagar and partner Adam Levine’s Santo Mezquila, and party-goers took it to a whole level on sundrenched Huntington State Beach.

Next up was Orange County’s favorite Ska-Punk band, Reel Big Fish. This six-piece band from Los Alamitos, CA immediately got the crowd off their feet and dancing to the beat to hits like “Everyone Else is an Asshole,” “She Has a Girlfriend Now,” and “Sell Out.” Unfortunately for those in attendance, their typical 18+ songs was trimmed down significantly due to time constraints. However, Aaron Barrett and company smashed their 11-song set in fine fashion and left little doubt as to why this band was chosen by Sammy Hagar to represent Orange County at this year’s inaugural festival.

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TVD Live Shots: Boy George and Culture Club, The B-52s, and Tom Bailey at Morongo Hotel and Casino, 9/28

At a time when many bands from his generation are starting to fall short of expectations, Boy George and the Culture Club seem to be getting better with age. If you get a chance to see them perform live on their Life Tour this year, do so—you will not be disappointed. It’s one of the best shows I have seen in 2018!

The early eighties were a magical time for music. The New Wave revolution was just beginning to take off, and bands like Culture Club, The B-52’s, and the Thompson Twins’ were all the rage. Whether you were in the UK or here in America, their music was making a statement and the unique sound that these bands were putting out was fresh, catchy, and most importantly relevant. Fast forward 35 years and these same bands are still performing at levels that most bands could only dream of.

On September 28th, Boy George and Culture Club along with The B-52s and the Thompson Twins’ Tom Bailey made a scheduled pit-stop at the beautiful Morongo Hotel and Casino on the US leg of their 2018 Life Tour. For many, this concert would be a unique opportunity to see three of the ’80s most incredible New Wave acts—all under one roof. For others, it was a pilgrimage back to a simpler time and place when all that mattered was the music. Regardless of which camp you fell into (or what band you came to see), there was sure to be magical moments for all in attendance in Cabazon on Friday evening. Here are a few highlights from the show:

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  • SUPPORTING YOUR LOCAL INDIE SHOPS SINCE 2007


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