Category Archives: TVD San Francisco

TVD Live Shots: Hozier at the Fox Theater, 2/10

Hozier Photographed by Jason Miller-1-3

Every year there’s one artist who seemingly comes out of nowhere and takes the music industry by storm. Many times it’s an artist who has one big hit then disappears from the face of the earth. It’s usually due to the lack of depth on their record, but every once in a while a new talent breaks through for all the right reasons. This time around it’s the latter as Irish singer-songwriter Andrew Hozier-Byrne has crafted a start-to-finish masterpiece.

Hozier’s self-titled debut is a brilliant mix of gospel, blues, soul, and stellar songwriting. It’s the kind of record that makes pop music feel far less disposable and the Grammys appear like they know what they are talking about for once. Speaking of the Grammys, this was the first show Hozier played after his stunning performance with the one and only voice of a generation, Annie Lennox. It was one of the most talked about performances at the annual awards show, if not the absolute best.

The breakthrough song “Take me to Church” was rightfully up for Song of the Year, but lost out to Sam Smith. While not quite as bad as the clueless Grammy judges awarding a comedy duo for Best Metal Performance, it certainly was a snub in my book.

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TVD Live Shots: Bush
at the Masonic, 1/30

Photographed by Jason Miller-1

It was a Saturday night back in 1991. My friends and I were all gathered around watching Headbangers Ball as we would do almost every weekend. That’s when it happened. Rikki Rachman, the host of the show, just played the number five “Skullcrusher” of the week, a spot rightfully owned by Motley Crue’s “Dr. Feelgood” video. He announced that there was a new band that he would like to introduce us all to. That band was Nirvana and the song was “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”

It was the first time I had ever heard of Nirvana and it was about to change everything. My friends and I who were all listening to “hair metal” at the time all looked around the room at each other but no one said a word. We didn’t have to. We knew that the days of hair metal ruling the charts were numbered. The writing was on the wall and it was Kurt Cobain’s handwriting.

Photographed by Jason Miller-1-2

It wasn’t all bad though, because of course this movement would give us brilliant artists such as Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, and so many more. We would soon become fans of this new genre called grunge and would trade in our zebra striped spandex and eyeliner for flannel, matted hair, and ripped jeans.

Although this movement was spearheaded out of Seattle, there was one band that was paying very close attention from across the pond. They were called Bush and they delivered a “grunge” masterpiece by way of Great Britain called Sixteen Stone. It would go on to sell more than 6 million copies and Bush would end up becoming one of the most commercially successful rock bands of the 1990s.

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TVD Live Shots: Periphery, Nothing More, and Wovenwar
at the Fillmore, 1/26

Sometimes you just need to get out on a Monday night and go see some good metal. I had a choice between Periphery or Sleeping With Sirens. I choose Periphery mostly because I hate emo metal, but even more because Wovenwar and Nothing More were rounding out the bill that night at the legendary Fillmore. This show was perfectly primed to be a shredfest and that’s exactly what it was.

It was the eve of the release of two new albums from Periphery—Juggernaut: Alpha and Juggernaut: Omega. Two epic metal records that go from blistering technical metal, to free-flowing jazz, to soaring harmonies—all intertwined effortlessly with insanely heavy riffs. In an era when record sales are at an all-time low, who in the hell releases a double album? These guys do and they deliver big time.

Hailing from Maryland, Periphery is rapidly expanding its audience and, as founder and guitarist Misha Mansoor recently told Rolling Stone with a laugh, “Lately, we’ve even seen some females there who aren’t completely miserable.” I love that these guys have a sense of humor.

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TVD Live Shots: Patti Smith at the Fillmore, 1/23

It was a beautiful spring day in Austin, Texas back in 2004 and I was on my way to pick up the Godmother of punk rock, the legendary Patti Smith. I was working for Sony Music at the time and Patti had just released her Columbia Records debut Trampin’. I was asked by the label to pick up Patti at her hotel, take her to KGSR for an interview with Jody Denberg, then over to Waterloo Records for an in-store signing. When I got to the hotel it was insanely busy and there wasn’t one legit parking spot open and of course I was running late, so I parked illegally thinking that I would be in and out.

It ended up taking me a bit longer than I had anticipated to get back to my car as several folks who were staying at the hotel recognized Patti as we were walking through the lobby. She was very cool and stopped to chat with each of them along the way. As we reached the parking lot, the hotel manager made an announcement over some sort of loudspeaker that sounded like it was broadcast to the entire city. “The owner of a red Saturn sedan parked illegally will be towed,” blasted through the air as if it was a public service announcement. Patti looks at me and says something to the effect of “I’d hate to be that person today,” I looked back and said to her, ‘That’s our ride.”

To make a long story short, I got to my car just before the tow truck did and we were on our way. Patti along with her antique camera asked me to stop several times so she could snap a photo or two along “the Drag” while telling me stories about her camera and even a story or two about her late husband Fred “Sonic” Smith of the groundbreaking band MC5. It was an epic afternoon that turned out to be one of the most remarkable moments of my career in the music business.

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TVD Live Shots:
The Jayhawks at
The Fillmore, 1/8

It’s hard to believe that it’s been 30 years since The Jayhawks formed back in the twin cities. The mark they have left on the Americana music scene is undeniable, but also quite puzzling. Why in the hell is this band not a household name? What kind of music industry can let a gem of a band like this seemingly go unnoticed to the greater masses, especially after delivering a string of brilliant and critically acclaimed records?

I first heard The Jayhawks when I worked at a record store in college back in St. Louis. The label rep/ promo guy (you know, Artie Fufkin) brought in a promo copy of Tomorrow the Green Grass the week of its release and was saying great things about these guys. The label even had a display contest in which the store with the biggest and best Jayhawks display won a prize. I love that fucking record and the band so much that I made the entire back of the store one enormous Jayhawks display. (I swear I still have the photo somewhere, tweet me later and I’ll track it down) Oh, and I won by the way.

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One of the other benefits of working in a record store back in the day, besides all the free promo CDs, was the free tickets that came along with them. I got to see The Jayhawks at the legendary Mississippi Nights. The show was EPIC. Fast forward to last week at another legendary venue, the Fillmore here in San Francisco, I witnessed The Jayhawks sounding better than ever.

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TVD Live Shots:
The Flaming Lips at
the Warfield, 12/30

Photographed by Jason Miller-3

The first time I saw The Flaming Lips live was back in 1999 while working at a record store in my hometown of St. Louis, MO. The local Warner Brothers rep gave me tickets to see the band at a club called Karma during the tour for their seminal masterpiece The Soft Bulletin. Since the album had so many intricate layers to it, the band knew they would have trouble pulling it off live so they created a radio station per se that would transmit a direct signal of the show to the audience through a pair of custom headphones that were given out at the door. How fucking crazy is that?

Fast forward to last week and it’s New Year’s Eve with The Flaming Lips. Wayne Coyne and company are still pushing the limits of technology for their live shows but these days they have no budget restraints or limits for pulling off one of the most amazing spectacles touring the planet right now. It’s part Cirque du Soleil, part Super Mario Brothers, but all together one of the best shows I have ever seen in my life—and a photographer’s dream.

Touring in support of their new album With a Little Help from My Fwends, it’s the Lips’ fourteenth studio release and a track-for-track tribute to The Beatles classic Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The entire record is reimagined by The Flaming Lips and their special guests including My Morning Jacket, Maynard James Keenan, Foxygen, Grace Potter, and even Miley Cyrus just to name a few. The setlist that night would include the title track “Sgt. Pepper” along with a spaced out version of “A Day in the Life.”

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TVD Live Shots:
In This Moment at
the Fillmore, 12/16

I love a good heavy metal story where a band pays their dues, refines their sound, and figures out exactly who they are and where they are going. It doesn’t happen very often as the band either falls apart from creative differences, gives up too quickly, or quite frankly aren’t good enough. Maria Brink and In This Moment are the embodiment of the hardworking band does good fairy tale, and ironically it seems in many ways they’re just getting started.

Having launched their career on the most forward thinking independent label in my opinion, Century Media let the band do their thing and evolve over a number of years and records. Once they were ready for their breakthrough, the label passed them off to a major, in this case the mighty Atlantic Records. This is how the industry is supposed to work and in this case it’s set up In This Moment perfectly.

Touring in support of their major label debut Black Widow, In This Moment returned to the Bay Area for one of the best shows I have seen all year at the legendary Fillmore. It was the perfect combination of metal, theatrics, storytelling, and musicianship. Front-woman Maria Brink truly took on the persona of a black widow as she pulled the audience into the show and kept them hanging on every note.

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TVD Live Shots: Smashing Pumpkins at the Warfield, 12/11

Let’s stop with the silly comments such as, “It’s not really Smashing Pumpkins with only one original member.” Yes it is, because Billy Corgan IS Smashing Pumpkins. And while were on the subject—were his remarks regarding the Foo Fighters and Pearl Jam really off that much?

I mean I love the Foo Fighters, but Corgan’s right in the fact that they really haven’t “evolved” as a band. And that’s OK because they have perfected their formula for kick ass rock ‘n’ roll. As for Pearl Jam, again, I’m a fan, but can their new songs hold up to anything from their first three epic masterpieces? It’s certainly up for debate, and Mr. Corgan has made two very valid points that the media have spun out of control into an attack on his rock ‘n’ roll peers.

With that being said, this is a show review so let me get to it. I was able to score a last-minute ticket to see one of a series of intimate shows that have been taking place in London, New York, and Paris that all sold out instantly. The band is touring to promote their new album Monuments to an Elegy, which was released on December 9. When the band added San Francisco to the short tour, I was ecstatic.

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Groovy Man of the
Thrill Kill Kult,
The TVD Interview

I have seen My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult more times in my life than any other band. The industrial dance, punk, rock, disco pioneers continually deliver a one of a kind spectacle that has often been imitated, but never actually replicated for close to 30 years now.

Their latest album Spooky Tricks is a fantastic return to form that finds TKK taking a cue from their early days while still pushing the genre forward. I was fortunate enough to chat with Thrill Kill Kult’s eclectic frontman and founder Groovy Man before their show earlier this year here in San Francisco.

So, it’s been 27 years now?

Yeah, about that.

Satanic disco, Industrial disco—what’s the best description of the band you’ve heard so far?

Oh God, that’s a hard one to pull. I don’t know, I have had so many different combinations I can’t think of a favorite. You know we change from album to album and, our sound is sort of our sound but I can’t really put it into words I guess. I would be something like Punk Rock Disco or Progressive Industrial Dance Funk Disco, there are just so many.

There are lots of reviews around the latest record saying that you have returned to the classic Thrill Kill Kult sound. Was that the goal?

It just happens you know. We don’t plan anything that we do. Not even records, we sort of map them out in the beginning and we say, “I will do this one really slow and weird and then by the time it’s done it’s completely the opposite of it.” It’s transitional as it’s being created and it sort of fluctuates in between all different kinds of things until it finally gels into say, the Thrill To Kill Kult sound you know, if that makes sense.

If you had to pick a favorite record of yours what would you choose?

I’m bad with choices. I don’t know, I think everything has its own identity, and I like them all pretty much the same when I listen to them which isn’t much.

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TVD Live: Gruff Rhys and East India Youth at the Chapel, 11/18

Gruff Rhys photographed by Jason Miller-2

Recently I witnessed one of the most interesting live performances I have seen all year. Before his publicist reached out to me I have to admit that I wasn’t too familiar with Gruff Rhys other than the fact that he was the singer for critic’s darlings, Super Furry Animals. Now I am sort of obsessed with his latest effort, the multimedia experience called American Interior.

It’s a fascinating but complicated story, so let me do my best to sum up what Gruff is up to on this very ambitious and entertaining project.

Gruff is taking part in what he refers to as an investigative tour seeking out the final resting place of his relative John Evans, who left Wales in 1792 on a quest to find a mythical tribe of Welsh-speaking Native Americans. Evans, a 22-year old farmhand from the mountains of Snowdonia, Wales, responded to a plea for a brave soul to ascertain if there was indeed a tribe of Welsh-speaking Native Americans still walking the Great Plains, descendants of Prince Madog (widely believed to have discovered America in 1170).

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