Category Archives: TVD San Francisco

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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TVD Live Shots: Faith
No More at Amoeba Records, 11/28

The news hit the Twitter-sphere at 2PM and the cat was out of the bag. A gift from the Black Friday gods above in the form of a surprise Faith No More show at Amoeba Records in San Francisco. Celebrating the release of their new Record Store Day 7” single “Motherfucker,” the alt-rock legends played their first show in more than four years to 800 plus fans who were happily jam-packed into the iconic record store.

Taking to the modest stage in the corner of the store would be the Album of the Year-era lineup of Mike Patton, Mike Bordin, Billy Gould, Roddy Bottum, and Jon Hudson along with one full-sized leather clad sixth member they call “the Gimp.” The Gimp is sort of the new spokesperson while adding to the on stage personality that the band is known for. Actually, it’s just really fucking creepy to be quite honest.

Faith No More photographed by Jason Miller

Faith No More wasted no time launching into their new single, “Motherfucker,” then quickly jumped back in time to pay homage to their humble beginnings with “As The Worm Turns” and “Spirit” from their pre-Patton albums We Care A Lot and Introduce Yourself. Patton and company would shift the Gimp from posing on stage left over to stage right for the final two songs of the brief set, “Ashes to Ashes” from the 1997 masterpiece Album of the Year, and finishing off with new gem called “Superhero.”

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TVD Live Shots:
Cheap Trick at the Warfield, 11/22

It’s hard to believe that 40 years on any band could sound this good. The magnetism of Robin Zander, the charisma of Rick Nielsen, the thundering 12 string bass of Tom Petersson, and the bombastic drums of Nielsen’s son Daxx continue to bring their legendary brand of rock ‘n’ roll to the masses. This time around it was to a full house at the Warfield Theater in downtown San Francisco.

I have seen Cheap Trick live more than a dozen times now and they never cease to live up to the announcement that precedes this legendary quartet taking the stage, “The Best Fucking Rock Band You’ve Ever Seen.” This time though was different as it was the first time I was allowed to photograph one of my all-time favorite bands. It was amazing to see the man of one thousand voices, Mr. Robin Zander decked out in his black leather Dream Police uniform. His voice sounds amazing as well. He’s still got the power and plenty of range to hit all the notes in all the right places—while still enjoying every last bit of leading such an epic band. Rick Nielsen’s personality remains bigger than his collection of oddball guitars and his quick wit and connection with the audience is second to none. Read More »

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TVD Live Shots: Slayer and Exodus at the Fox Theater, 11/11

Slayer photographed by Jason Miller

The year was 1988. I was fourteen and it was the beginning of my adolescent rebellious stage. It was the first time I had heard Slayer and my intro to the band was the song “South of Heaven.” It was a departure from their previous album as they had slowed things down significantly, but somehow they managed to turn up the evil factor a notch or two. This moment changed my life. I had discovered my new favorite band.

Never in my wildest dreams did I think that twenty five years later I would be watching this band play one of two sold out nights at one of the most beautiful theaters in the country. Slayer is not just a metal band—they have become a way of life for a lot of metal fans around the world. The one thing you will never hear a critic or fan say, “Slayer returned to their roots on this tour.” Because they never left them behind. There are few bands these days that can lay that claim.

Slayer photographed by Jason Miller-2

The second the blood stained curtain with the enormous Slayer pentagram on it dropped, the onslaught had begun. It would go on for nearly two hours as the band pummeled the capacity crowd, playing below 4 upside down crosses and a giant evil skull. These guys sounded better than I have ever heard them before and they looked completely in control.

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