Category Archives: TVD San Francisco

TVD Live Shots:
The Black Crowes
at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, 12/14

The Black Crowes returned to San Francisco, delivering the goods on their Lay Down With Number 13 world tour. What can I say about these guys that hasn’t been said before? They are the Led Zeppelin of my generation. They are one of the few real rock ‘n’ roll bands who have stayed true to their roots, and genuinely look to be enjoying themselves on stage, performing because they want to, not because they have to.

There’s no album to support and there’s not one needed. The Black Crowes have sold more than 35 million copies of their 11 studio albums and have been named one of the greatest hard-rock bands by VH1. Ok, you got me on the second part; not sure how much cred VH1 still has in this field. Regardless, watching these guys play live will remind you of the pure genius that is the Robinson brothers. The setlist at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium last week played out like a greatest hits collection, and I don’t think it was meant to be. These guys simply have that many great songs to choose from, and judging by their previous setlists, they mix it up every night. How many bands are doing that anymore? Exactly.

The Black Crowes at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco shot by Jason Miller-4

I would be fooling myself if I didn’t mention how different Chris Robinson looks these days. His beard could start a hipster revolution, and maybe it did. It was certainly well in place before the Duck Dynasty boom or the short-lived Kings of Leon revolution. Regardless of looks, though, Chris’s voice sounds better than I remember it back in ’96. This guy has a set of pipes on him that are indestructible and undeniable. He was hitting every single note perfectly while making it look effortless.

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TVD Live Shots: Fates Warning at the DNA Lounge, 12/11

The original masters of progressive metal, Fates Warning returned to San Francisco last week touring in support of their first studio record in over nine years. I remember seeing these guys on Headbanger’s Ball back in the day and never quite understood why they didn’t become a much bigger band.

Maybe it’s because they didn’t write a Pink Floyd-esque ballad like Queensryche, or maybe it’s because they didn’t take their brand of thinking man’s metal to the extremes that propelled Dream Theater to new heights. Whatever it may be, these guys still have their place in the history of metal and continue to with their new album, Darkness in a Different Light.

I love it when a band such as Fates Warning returns after taking close to a decade off. It’s as if they have something to prove and they want to punch all the non-believers in the face or just show these young metal posers how it’s really done. I think they do both. The new album is brutal, thought provoking, emotional, and yet very forward thinking. It’s quite refreshing, as a metal fan, to hear this type of record, and even better to see a very capable group of musicians flawlessly pull it off live.

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TVD Live Shots:
Black Joe Lewis at
the Fillmore, 12/3

Black Joe Lewis shot by Jason Miller at The Fillmore San Francisco-8

The first time I saw Black Joe Lewis was at a Christmas party at the Granada Theater in Dallas about six or seven years ago. He wasn’t signed to a label, and I remember my friend Mike Schoder, who owns the venue, was raving about this new guy from Austin who sounds like James Brown crossed with the White Stripes. I was completely blown away. With his band The Honeybears, these guys combined blues, soul, and garage rock into one hell of a powerful live show.

Fast forward several years and three albums later they continue to do just that. Touring in support of their latest release Electric Slave, Black Joe Lewis has dropped the Honeybears and taken the guitar up a notch. “Electric Slave is what people are today, with their faces buried in their iPhones and the only way to hold a conversation is through text,” Lewis explains in the album’s press release. It’s bound to be on many end-of-year top album lists and rightfully so. It’s a bit less heavy on the funk but still a formula for sounds that only Lewis is capable of.

Black Joe Lewis shot by Jason Miller at The Fillmore San Francisco

This night at the Fillmore, though, would be a different type of show as Lewis had broken his foot and was kicking out the jams from a chair. Nonetheless, it didn’t seem to faze the audience or the energy in the legendary ballroom. Highlights from the show included the new single “Come to My Party” as well as classic material “Sugarfoot” and the crowd pleaser, “Bitch, I Love You.” Another highlight was the surprise guest on tenor sax, Steve Mackay (Stooges, Violent Femmes), who stepped in for a few.

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TVD Live Shots: Steel Panther at the Regency Ballroom, 11/8

For those of us who grew up listening to “Hair Metal” and love the glory days of the Sunset Strip, we have a savior of sorts, and they call themselves Steel Panther. Michael Starr, Lexxi Foxx, Stixx Zandinia, and Satchel ( I know, it’s like just Satchel?) are keeping a lost art alive and well, while taking excessiveness to a whole new level and reminding us all how ridiculous hair metal became at times.

Legend has it that Steel Panther were on the brink of signing the largest record deal in history back in the ’80s. All the major labels came to their showcase one night in LA, but the band never showed up. According to Dee Snider, their manager told them to be at the showcase, and they mistakenly thought he said to go out and get shit-faced. The labels ended up signing Jane’s Addiction, and the rest is history.

Steel Panther at The Regency Ballroom shot by Jason Miller @Jasonmillerca-2-2

Fast forward 20 years, and what has been hailed as the greatest album ever created resurfaces at Universal Republic. It turns out that the band is alive and well, ready to stage the greatest comeback of all time. They released their debut Feel the Steel in 2011 to critical acclaim and quickly followed up with 2012’s Balls Out.

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TVD Live Shots:
Johnny Marr at the Fillmore, 11/1

The first thing that comes to mind when one mentions the name Johnny Marr is, of course, his legacy with The Smiths. Marr started the band back in 1982 and went on to release four classic albums, none of them entering the charts lower than Number Two.

He would go on to play in The Cribs, Modest Mouse, The The, and Electronic before going solo and releasing the much-anticipated and highly praised The Messenger. Touring in support of this album, he treated a jam-packed Fillmore to a night of classics both old and new.

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I have to admit that I am not the biggest Smiths fan in the world, but I truly appreciate what the band has done, and Marr in particular. He planted the seed for many great things to come, including Arctic Monkeys, Radiohead, Suede, The Libertines, and countless more. Marr’s bio reads like a real life Forrest Gump, as he always seems to be in the right place at the right time, all while making history along the way.

One of my favorite stories is the one where Marr meets a very young Noel Gallagher and loans him one of his hallowed Smiths guitars. Urban legend has it that guitar was possessed with voodoo spirits of great melody that would assure Oasis’s success.

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TVD Live Shots: A Pale Horse Named Death and Butcher Babies at the Warfield, 10/31

A Pale Horse Named Death is the brainchild of Sal Abruscato. Sound familiar? It should. This is the guy who founded Type O Negative with Peter Steele, played on the legendary Type O classic Bloody Kisses, and also manned the drums for Life of Agony. His resume speaks for itself and APHND is a culmination of everything that has come before, combined with a bit of something new.

APHND is also garnering quite a few comparisons to Alice in Chains and for good reason. Their latest album Lay My Soul to Waste is both melodic and heavy, and I mean HEAVY on the riffs. Abruscato’s vocals at times are very reminiscent of the late Layne Stayley, and that’s a good thing because it works. I always say the world could use more metal that can take on such a big sound and succeed, and APHND do it well.

A Pale Horse Named Death The Warfield shot by Jason Miller @Jasonmillerca-6

Live, it’s even better though. Current Danzig drummer Johnny Kelly lays down the thunderous back bone and newcomer Matt Brown adds a layer of Les Paul expertise that really compliments Abruscato’s songwriting.

The track “The Needle in You” was a highlight of the evening along with “Shallow Grave,” and I was a bit surprised they didn’t play their current single and video “DMSTL.” Regardless, great show, great band, and I would love to see them play a longer set next time.

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TVD Live Shots:
The 1975 at the Independent, 10/30

Rock ‘n roll photography and music blogging is a hobby of mine that I take very seriously. While I don’t get paid for it per se, and my career as a marketer is first and foremost, it’s something that I put a lot of time and energy into. What makes it all worthwhile for me is when I get turned on to a new band like The 1975 and get to document how they blew the roof off of a jam-packed club and share the experience through text and images.

The 1975 are a Manchester based, breakthrough band of 2013. Having supported The Rolling Stones at Hyde Park over the summer and then scored a number one album with their self-titled debut in September, these guys are just getting started and it’s going to be an exciting story to watch.

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I think I have said this a few times in 2013, but this band is incredible, both as songwriters and performers. Their sound falls somewhere between The Killers in their heyday (I say first album) and when Snow Patrol burst onto the scene with atmospheric songwriting that redefined Brit-pop for the majority of us in the U.S. I’m happy to say that it’s happening again.

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Brick + Mortar,
The TVD Q&A

Brick and Mortar are a drum and bass duo from New Jersey, but they don’t play traditional drum ‘n bass. It’s simply their instruments of choice. Singer and bassist Brandon Asraf and drummer John Tacon have just released the best debut album I have heard in the past ten years. It’s my pick for album of the year in 2013 and if this band is not a household name, or topping every hipster’s playlist in the near future, then I am sorry to say that the entire music industry is broken.

Imagine that Adele had a secret love child with Hot Hot Heat that was raised by a band of storytelling gypsies. The songwriting is brilliant, the subject matter is riveting, and the musicianship is stellar. This is the type of band that comes along once every decade or so if we are lucky. I love this record so much that I reached out and requested an interview with these guys to learn more about them, and I had some questions around their mysterious songs and videos.

What you are about to read is a conversation that I had with a band that I think is going to be the biggest breakout success story of the year in 2014. The answers are honest, revealing, and quite surprising from a band that is on a “major label” and getting ready to hit the road for their first U.S. tour. Read the interview, then go buy the record. You will not be disappointed.

Hailing from New Jersey have you ever seen Jon Bon Jovi or the Boss around town?

Brandon: I work at the movies part-time, and after we got back from Lollapalooza, I was back at work and Bruce Springsteen came in and I sold him some water and Popcorn. I of course told him I was in a band; he was really nice. I never thought I would meet Bruce Springsteen while serving up popcorn, but I did. I’ve never come across Jon Bon though. I always come across a dude that I think it’s him because of the hair, but then they turn around and it’s just a housewife.

You guys call him Jon Bon in Jersey?

Brandon: No one really talks about him up here, so we don’t have to call him anything.

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TVD Live Shots:
Gwar at the Regency Ballroom, 10/19

A very brief history of Gwar: Eons ago, there existed an elite group of chaos warriors who ravaged the galaxy with a boundless hatred of all things alive. They were called the Scumdogs of the Universe, and they grew in might and fury, the greatest weapon in the arsenal of their cosmic Master. But they became too powerful, and too defiant, and for their cosmic crimes were banished to the most insignificant planet in the universe…the seething mudball known as Earth.

Gwar are legends in their own right. Oderus Urungus has brilliantly lead Earth’s only openly extraterrestrial metal band for more than twenty-five years now. Touring in support of their latest record Battle Maximus, Gwar are still going strong and are equally, if not more, offensive now than when they first began back in 1984.

Gwar at The Regency Ballroom shot by Jason Miller @Jasonmillerca-5

It was jam-packed with hardcore Gwar fans at the Regency Ballroom. The floor was covered with plastic, along with half the stage, as well as the staff at hand. Everyone is well-aware of the chaos that takes place at a Gwar show. I hadn’t seen the band in close to 15 years, and more importantly, I had never attempted to photograph the pure unadulterated bloodfest that was about to occur.

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TVD Live Shots: Walk the Moon at the Regency Ballroom, 10/17

Cincinnati natives Walk the Moon played a sold-out show at the Regency Ballroom last week. This is a really interesting band that I first heard while traveling in LA over the summer. Their song “Ana Sun” was being played what seemed to be every 15 minutes on the radio. Yes, the radio. I was in a rental car with no auxiliary cable for Spotify. It happens.

Needless to say, the song Esquire magazine claims as their number one “must listen to” song of the summer was etched in my brain for good, and why not? It’s an incredibly catchy song, very well produced, and falling somewhere in between Imagine Dragons and Passion Pit. They seem to be a leader in this new cross-over, indie-rock synth-pop movement that is currently being blown wide open.

Walk the Moon at the Regency Ballroom shot by Jason Miller @Jasonmillerca-8

I was a bit surprised as I must have missed the memo about the face painting at the show. I kept thinking of the Seinfeld episode “The Face Painter” where David Putty paints his face to “support the team.” This was about the time I decided that I would never be a “face painter” for either sports or music, that is until KISS does their final-final-final farewell tour, which I am hoping for next year.

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