You can count the number of artists who can fill a stadium on one hand, and the mighty AC/DC lead the pack. Touring in support of their latest release, the not-surprisingly great Rock or Bust, Angus Young and company brought their one of a kind rock ‘n’ roll experience to AT&T Park and was warmly greeted by a sold out crowd.
This is one of those once in a lifetime shows which is truly bigger than anything happening in rock ‘n’ roll at the moment. I would even put AC/DC above the Stones in this case as I don’t think there is any band on the planet that sounds this good and continues to deliver rock solid records even though they could certainly tour just to be touring.
Being one of the most important and influential rock bands in history isn’t an easy task, but these guys are certainly up for the challenge. From the very first note of “Rock or Bust” the capacity crowd sporting glowing devil horns lit up immediately and pledged their allegiance for those about to rock. Just walking through the crowd you could see both hard core fans and the latter absolutely losing their shit over this band. Each song played perfectly into the next as a sort of crash course in the history of hard rock—past, present, and future.
I distinctly remember seeing this one album cover growing up with these two super hot chicks on it that my mother used to listen to constantly. It might have been the first time I had ever heard hard rock music before.
The record was called Dreamboat Annie and those two beautiful ladies were the incredibly talented sister duo of Ann and Nancy Wilson. This record came out when I was two, so I’m guessing that I didn’t fully comprehend the greatness of this rock ‘n’ roll masterpiece until I was at least six, but this was one of those records than never left my parents’ turntable.
Songs like “Magic Man” and “Crazy on You” have been stuck in my head for close to three decades now, and I really never get tired of hearing those songs. Heart has sold more than 35 million albums worldwide and they continue to carry their signature hard rock sound along with their incredibly diverse folky ventures. Last week a stellar version of Heart made their triumphant return to San Francisco. Fueled of course by the core of the band, Ann and Nancy, it was worth the wait.
Nirvana’s Krist Novoselic was at a Foo Fighters show earlier this month and claimed via Twitter that Dave Grohl and company are “The Best Band In the World!” After seeing the show live for myself last week, I would easily support that claim.
The Foo Fighters have sold over 10 million albums in the United States alone and 30 million albums Worldwide. A combination of their 2oth anniversary and the continued support of their latest masterpiece Sonic Highways is the reason for this season. But, one slight misstep in Sweden almost ruined it all. But that’s not Grohl’s style.
Instead the workingman’s rock ‘n’ roller rolled with the punches and renamed the tour the “Broken Leg Tour,” not missing a beat. But how does one translate such an energetic stage presence into a sit down performance? In a custom-built moving throne of course, which he claims to have designed himself while on painkillers in the hospital.
Daryl Hall and John Oates have nothing left to prove. They have solidified their place in the history of popular music and sold more albums than any other duo, garnering 13 gold and platinum albums along the way. So why are they still touring after all these years? After seeing this show I would say because they still fucking love it.
It’s my third time seeing Hall & Oates in just the past few years, but my first at the legendary Greek Theatre in Berkeley. I was in the middle of the crowd at the sound board getting set up to photograph the band when the sound guy leans over with a message. “I need to squeeze in a few seats for a VIP” he says to me. There is probably enough room for one chair, but somehow he manages to make three fit comfortably. This is arguably the best place in the house to watch the show so I immediately wonder who the VIP is?
Seconds later I see the Red Rocker Sammy Hagar being escorted to the seats. I have two camera bodies on monopods attached to massive lenses so I can’t really move so I do my best to make way.
I remember the day I first heard the name Slipknot. It was 1999 and I was working at a Sam Goody store while going to college in my hometown of St. Louis. A guy who worked part-time came in one day raving about this new band from Iowa that looked like a cross between the family from Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Rob Zombie’s worst nightmare. That week Slipknot’s eponymous debut record hit the store shelf and we had a brilliant idea to give it a listen in the store. While it didn’t go over well with the lunchtime crowd, in fact, it cleared out the store pretty quickly, it was something truly unique. I don’t think we had any idea at the time that record would come to redefine metal as we knew it.
Roadrunner Records had one hell of a roster at the time including Type O Negative, Black Label Society, Spineshank, Machine Head, Nailbomb, Seputura, and even some newer unknown bands that were killer, such as Electric Eel Shock (I’ve caught them twice—two of the most insane shows I’ve ever seen), Dry Kill Logic, Faktion, and Amen. Slipknot though was their first act to ever reach platinum status and arguably the reason the label would be bought out by a major.
Fast forward to last week and the first time I have seen Slipknot in more than a decade. While the band’s image has grown considerably darker over the years, their live show was as epic as ever—if not even more grandiose. The “Summer’s Last Stand” tour lineup included metal heavyweights Lamb of God and Bullet for My Valentine, along with newcomers Motionless in White. It would quickly make up for a Summer full of lackluster metal festivals and end the season on a high note from hell.
Grace Potter pretty much has it all; the voice, the songs, the band, the fans, and most importantly the live show. Watching an artist of this magnitude completely own a stage and truly captivate an audience from start to finish is a rare thing these days and she makes it look effortless.
Touring in support of her latest record simply called Midnight, Grace Potter has left what she calls “safety net” of the Nocturnals and has gone her own way. The historic Fox Theater was the perfect venue for Potter to come out swinging the day after the release of what is technically her first solo record in more than decade.
Midnight noticeably has more of a pop sound to it and rightfully so, as producer extraordinaire Eric Valentine (Queens of the Stone Age, Nickel Creek, T-Ride) took control of the board while polishing up her timeless, soulful sound.
Rise Against has been around for 16 years? Hard to believe that’s the case but it is indeed true. It’s the classic story of a band signing to an independent record label, touring their asses off, getting some miles under their belt, and then moving on to a major for their breakthrough. That’s the way the music industry is supposed to work in my opinion. It’s the way bands can get some experience before being thrust into the limelight and the fast-moving gears of a major.
The problem is that this scenario these days is more of a fairy tale—it just doesn’t really happen anymore. If you are in a band today, you pretty much have the same chance of making it big as going to Vegas and winning a jackpot. But then again, that shouldn’t be a band’s goal any longer. Rise Against paid their dues, took full advantage of their major label shot, and made the most of it.
It’s good to see a band like Rise Against continue to find success. They know who they are, they know what they stand for, and the deliver one hell of a live show. That’s basically the formula that punk rock icons such as the Clash and the Pistols put together during the birth of punk. It’s real, it’s authentic, and if you don’t have it, then fans can see right through your bullshit.
Like a powerful derecho blasting its way across the midwest, stoner rock icons High on Fire keep gathering momentum the further into their career they go. Their destructive winds blew into the Regency Ballroom on Saturday night (8/1) as the band began the tour in their home state of California. Hot on the heels of releasing their most dynamic album to date, Luminiferous, they seemingly have a renewed spark and have put together a package tour of brutal proportions.
Opening up the night was Houston’s Venomous Maximus. With songs full of dark stoner riffs like “Give Up the Witch,” the band was musically adept and at times walking the doom metal line harkening back to classic Pentagram or Sir Lord Baltimore. What was lacking here are the mediocre vocals of singer/guitarist Gregg Higgins. In fairness, Higgins sounds better on wax than on stage and their mix was muddier than the Rio Grande, but it just wasn’t happening in Frisco. The solid metal core of their songs carried them through their set and the slowly growing crowd showed them some love.
Up next was Germany’s Lucifer, a band I was immensely excited for especially considering it was their first tour in the United States. Led by the bewitching Johanna Sadonis, Lucifer took the stage with something to prove—and prove it they did.
After an eerie intro, the band opened with pure Sabbath worship in the form of “Anubis.” The all-seeing eye on the back of Sadonis’ satin robe stared down the crowd as she turned away towards the drums and her voice was soaring and haunting, perfect all the way through as she writhed with the music. Her vocals were the focal point of their sound, but the thick guitars of metal veteran Gaz Jennings of Cathedral gave the band some serious weight. Two shows into the tour, Lucifer sounded well-seasoned and are destined for higher ground very soon.
The Kings of Chaos take the concept of a supergroup to an entirely new level. With a rotating lineup that reads like a VIP guest list for the greatest rock ‘n’ roll jam of the last two decades, these guys blew the roof off of the legendary Fillmore last week and did it all to save the friendliest creatures in the sea. The show was a benefit to raise funds and awareness for the Dolphin Project and I would say that it was a tremendous success.
So who was there you ask? Where do I begin… Glenn Hughes (Deep Purple), Sammy Hagar (Montrose, Van Halen), Slash, Duff McKagan (GnR, Velvet Revolver) Matt Sorum (GnR, Velvet Revolver, The Cult), Billy Duffy (The Cult), Doug Aldrich (Whitesnake) and Gilby Clark (GnR). What did they play? A cornucopia of rock classics that defined a generation—and a setlist for the ages.
The man, the legend, the voice of rock opened the show with two Purple classics “Highway Star” and “Smoke on the Water” backed up by Sorum, Clark, McKagan, and Aldrich. The first thing that I noticed is that Glenn Hughes’ voice sounded fucking spectacular. He hit every single note effortlessly and commanded the crowd as if he were asked to lead this crusade personally by the gods of rock ‘n’ roll. (By the way Glenn formed a band called California Breed and released a brilliant album last year.)
I think that John Mellencamp might be the coolest guy on the planet. He’s the personification of the most interesting man in the world. He’s got the stories, the songs, the women, the style, and an entourage of brilliant musicians and producers to back it all up. He’s the very definition of Americana and often cited as the only roots rocker who matters to his generation and pretty much my lifetime.
Touring in support of his latest record Plain Spoken, Mellencamp treated a sold out Paramount Theater to a stellar performance of both his classic and new songs. I loved the fact that Mellencamp only peppered in the “hits” during the first half of the set so that he could focus on the newer material right out of the gate.
Opening up with “Lawless Times” and then straight into “Troubled Man,” both cuts from the brilliant new record, was the perfect way to set the stage and the mood for the evening. Here’s a guy who continues to evolve as a songwriter while not forgetting to celebrate his past. Later on in the set would be another track from the album, my absolute favorite, “The Isolation of Mister.” If you don’t have this record yet, it’s the best thing he’s done in the past ten years in my opinion. I would have been OK with him simply playing the new record in its entirety.