Author Archives: Matthew Belter

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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TVD Live Shots: Deep Purple, Judas Priest,
and The Temperance Movement at Five Points Amphitheater, 9/30

Deep Purple and Judas Priest came knocking at the back door of the Five Points Amphitheater and brought in enough firepower to take over the capacity crowd in Irvine with minimal resistance. For those that witnessed the non-stop carnage that evening, it was a show for the ages that joined the forces of two legendary bands for one incredible metal assault and took no prisoners in the foothills of Orange County late Thursday night.

Kicking off the evening were Scottish blues rockers, The Temperance Movement. While Phil Campbell’s energy was infectious and the band solid from top to bottom, I found it a bit strange that these guys were chosen as the opener for what many considered a classic metal show. That said, I loved their opening set and know that many who showed up early felt the exact same way I did. Their sound was reminiscent of early Black Crowes and left me wanting more. I am going to add The Temperance Movement to my current playlist of up and coming bands and give them a spin in the days and weeks ahead. Good stuff!

Next up at Five Points was none other than the legendary Judas Priest. Not sure what more can be said about a band that has been setting the world ablaze since 1969, but I’ll indulge you with a few key takeaways from Thursday’s show. One, the current incarnation of Judas Priest with Richie Faulkner and Andy Sneap is incredible. Sure, it’s hard to think of this band without the dynamic duo of K.K Downing and Glenn Tipton, but fans can rest assured that their legacy is being carried on by these amazing guitarists.

Two, Rob Halford is still the God of all things metal, and those insisting he is well past his prime are utterly clueless. I’m not sure there’s another vocalist on the planet who can do what he does, and to be able to hit the notes he does after 45 years in the business is simply incredible. Bottom line, Judas Priest annihilated their 15-song set and showed everyone in attendance why these guys still reign supreme over the altar of all things metal.

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TVD Live Shots: Scorpions with Queensryche at Five Point Amphitheatre, 9/2

I can vividly remember rocking out to the Scorpions as a 12-year-old kid in the back of the family station wagon courtesy of KCAL FM in my hometown of San Bernardino, CA. The blistering guitars of Matthias Jabs and Rudolph Schenker made drives to and from school bearable and helped create the metal monster that I am today. Fast-forward 35+ years and the Scorpions still transport me back to that childlike state—one that I am sure most fans were also in as the Scorpions took the stage in front of a sold-out Five Point Amphitheatre. This show was going to be special.

Opening the show on Sunday night was none-other than progressive rock superstars Queensryche. Fronted by Todd La Torre, the band quickly ignited a powder keg in Irvine with “Best I Can” off 1990’s triple-platinum album, Empire. Guitarists Michael Wilton and Mike Stone along with bassist Eddie Jackson and drummer Casey Grillo slayed their 9-song set and kept fans out of their seats with classics such as “Silent Lucidity,” “Jet City Woman,” and “Eyes of a Stranger.” The best song of the night was a toss-up between two Rage for Order standards, “The Whisper” and “Screaming in Digital.” La Torre’s vocals were simply incredible and brought both songs to life in a way that few vocalists can.

After a brief intermission to gather what senses had I had left, the Scorpions finally took the stage. As this could be their final tour (yes, we have heard that before), it was fitting for them to start off the show with “Going Out with a Bang.” Klaus Meine’s voice sounded spectacular (for a guy who just turned 70 in May) and showed no signs of aging as he manhandled a 16-song set that took fans on a journey across the Scorpions 50+ year history. Matthias Jabs and Rudolph Schenker killed on guitar and proved once again why they may be the best guitar tandem in rock and roll history. Add the killer bass chops from Pawel Maciwoda and Mikkey Dee’s ridiculous drumming, and you have all the ingredients for a “bucket list” show for the ages.

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TVD Live Shots:
Rob Zombie, Marilyn Manson, and Deadly Apples at Five Point Amphitheatre, 8/29

Whether you are a lifelong Rob Zombie follower or a hardcore disciple of Marilyn Manson, there was something for everyone who attended the final stop of the 2018 “Twins of Evil – The Second Coming Tour.” Fans of both bands were treated to a high-energy spectacle that scorched the earth in and around the Five Point Amphitheatre and left the sold-out crowd wanting more when the flames finally subsided. It was an unbelievable night of metal mayhem under the stars in Irvine, CA and will go down as one of the best metal performances at the venue since it opened its doors in August 2017.

Opening Wednesday’s performance were Canadian rockers, Deadly Apples. Led by frontman Alex Martel, this alternative metal quartet lit the fuse in Irvine and took spectators on a wild ride that delivered on all levels. Their seven-song set was just what the doctor ordered to get everyone out of their seats and on to their feet as the show began. On top of some amazing vocals, Martel caught many off guard with his wild stage antics ranging from high-intensity stage jumps to demolishing numerous microphone cables. All in all, this set was simply killer and the perfect precursor to Manson and Zombie.

Next up on the docket was co-headliner, Marilyn Manson. I’ve always heard mixed reviews about his live shows, but never actually had a chance to see him perform. Going into this show, I had high hopes and Marilyn did not disappoint. From his opening salvo on “Irresponsible Hate Anthem” to his incredible cover of The Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This),” the show was jam-packed with 12 incredible songs that took fans at Five Point to a whole new level. My favorite from this ridiculous set was “The Dope Show” from 1998’s Mechanical Animals. This song is Marilyn Manson personified, and captured the true essence of this amazing performer and artist.

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TVD Live Shots: Foreigner, Whitesnake, and Jason Bonham’s
Led Zeppelin Evening
at Mattress Firm Amphitheater, 7/31

1977 was undoubtedly a very important year in rock ‘n’ roll history. The Billboard charts were packed with hits from well-established artists such as the Eagles, Kansas, and The Steve Miller Band, while newcomers such as Cheap Trick, Eddie Money, and The Clash were just beginning to emerge onto what was already an incredible musical landscape.

It was also March of that same year that Foreigner exploded onto the scene with their self-titled debut, Foreigner. It became an instant classic and has withstood the test of time as one of the most iconic and best-selling debut albums ever.

On Saturday, July 31st, Foreigner teamed up with Whitesnake along with Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Evening (or JBLZE) for their highly-anticipated Juke Box Heroes Tour in beautiful Chula Vista, CA. For those who have never attended a Foreigner show, it truly is a “bucket-list” type of experience not to be missed. Fans from all over the country travel thousands of miles to be part of magic, and Tuesday’s performance was no exception.

As the sun began to set over the foothills surrounding the Mattress Firm Amphitheater, Jason Bonham took center stage and launched into a killer set of Zeppelin classics including “The Immigrant Song,” “Rock and Roll,” and one of the most iconic rock songs of all time, “Stairway to Heaven.” Throughout the performance, one could only imagine what it would have been like to Zeppelin in their prime.

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TVD Live Shots: Jeff Beck, Paul Rodgers, Ann Wilson, and Deborah Bonham at FivePoint Amphitheatre, 7/20

On Friday July 20th, Jeff Beck, Paul Rodgers, Ann Wilson, along with special guest Deborah Bonham, joined forces for their long-awaited Stars Align Tour at FivePoint Amphitheatre. For classic rock aficionados, this was a “bucket-list” tour that brought together these legendary musicians for one incredible night of music mastery under that stars in beautiful Irvine, CA.

Kicking off Friday’s show was blues vocalist extraordinaire, Deborah Bonham. While many know her as “the late John Bonham’s sister,” I don’t feel the reference truly gives her the respect warranted as a world-class musician. Although her set was abbreviated, it was evidently clear that she deserved to be on the same stage with the likes of superstars Beck, Rodgers, and Wilson.

Next up was the multi-talented musician and front woman of Heart, the incomparable Ann Wilson. I was blown away by her incredible vocal range as she covered several tracks from her 2018 release, Immortal. Although fans seemed to resonate with the 1977 classic, “Barracuda,” I found myself hanging by a thread as she killed The Who’s “The Real Me,” from their 1973 masterpiece Quadrophenia. It was an amazing tribute and left me wanting more from this once in a lifetime talent.

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TVD Live: The Struts
at The Roxy, 5/31

Ready to embark on their 2018 Summer World Tour, The Struts descended on West Hollywood for a series of four sold-out shows at the legendary Roxy Theater. For most bands of this size, a residency like this would be simply unheard of. But we’re talking The Struts here. Since 2009, this dynamic band from Derbyshire, England has taken the world by storm and was about to do the same for its legions of fans here in Southern California. Glam was finally making its triumphant return to the legendary Sunset Strip!

Thursday evening’s show was the 3rd of a 4-day residency for The Struts and could not have come soon enough. Driving in from Long Beach, I had plenty of windshield time to get my head right for the upcoming show by cranking up a playlist chock full of Struts classics, many from their 2014 debut album, Everybody Wants. This has been one of my go-to albums since its release and was excited to see how it would translate on stage at the world-famous Roxy Theater in West Hollywood, CA. I was literally hours away from finding out and couldn’t have been more jacked up to see The Struts live.

As I walked down Sunset Blvd to pick up my tickets, I couldn’t help by notice all the die-hard Struts fans waiting in line. Many had been there since noon, waiting patiently for their chance to be up close and personal with their favorite band on the planet. Some of the diehard fans were dressed to the nines while others looked look liked they just gotten off from a long day at the office. Regardless of disposition, most were the same die-hard fans that had also lined up early the previous two evenings. To say these were Struts “super-fans” would probably be an understatement.

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