Rival Sons are going to save rock n roll.
Why is rock n roll in need of saving you ask? Because there is no one doing it well. Kings of Leon started off on the right foot, but after a bit of radio success they seemed to have turned into what I like to call “hipster rock,” trading in their bell bottoms for mustaches and tailored designer wear.
But that’s another story all together, back to the pure unadulterated rock of Rival Sons, my new favorite band of 2013.
These guys hail from Long Beach but who the hell would have any idea since the band are bona fide superstars all across Europe and signed to the death metal label Earache Records. I stumbled upon their video for “Face the Light” after their publicist sent me a note about the band coming to SF. I heard 30 seconds of this song and knew this was something very special.
New York post-hardcore rockers Quicksand hit back hard after a 13-year absence, sounding better than ever. Walter Schreifels and company were in top form playing to a jam-packed Regency Ballroom in San Francisco last Monday. Coming out of the gate swinging, the band launched into classic track “Omission,” followed by blistering versions of “Unfulfilled” and “Head to Wall,” before blasting the roof off of the ballroom with their most well-known gem”Fazer.”
Although they never achieved true mainstream success, Quicksand released one of the greatest debut records of all time with 1993′s seminal masterpiece Slip, and after delivering two brilliant records over a four-year period, the band would go on indefinite hiatus. Their sound was and is still truly unique and has yet to be matched. A mash-up of Fugazi, Helmet, and Tool-before-Tool-had-an-identity, it’s raw, it’s angry, and somehow it’s undeniably catchy. They created the blueprint for what would become a new style of rock that would pave the way for the success of bands such as The Deftones and Taking Back Sunday.
Quicksand had a real knack for writing songs that were gritty but accessible, yet still hardcore enough for the metal kids and the punk kids both to love. I remember seeing them on tour with Rage Against the Machine in 1993 and thinking to myself, “This is the next big thing. This is a sound that is going to change everything.” Unfortunately, due to tensions within the band and their major label’s inability to get them to the next level, their genius was short-lived. I will never understand why some of the best bands in the world can’t make it past their sophomore release while other bands just don’t know when to hang it up.
Keane and Youngblood Hawke together on one stage. One band delivers the best album of 2012, and another is poised to launch their debut album in 2013 alongside a cornucopia of buzz. Both bands are critics’ darlings and serenaded a sold-out crowd at the Warfield Theatre here in San Francisco last Friday.
Youngblood Hawke are one of those bands whose sound you really can’t pinpoint in a review. You really have to see these guys (and a girl) live to understand the genius behind them. Their anthemic song “We Come Running” seems to be the song that you really can’t get away from recently, but then again who would want to. The gang-style (not to be confused with the worst trend of 2012, “Gangnam Style”) vocals are a throwback to Def Leppard’s hey day, while their music is a wall of sound built upon one part fun., one part Passion Pit, and two parts Freelance Whales.
Their debut EP that was released last year should scare the shit out of all the other bands that are currently clamoring for the spotlight in this mixed-up genre. If these four songs are any indication of their full-length, then I see the superstar band of 2013 shining bright early on in the year.
Somehow, I almost completely missed this band. Probably because Pitchfork named their latest LP Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming as their number three album of the year.
M83 are a French electronic shoegaze band that has made a serious name for themselves stateside. This particular show was a Live 105 Radio show and Passion Pit went on before them. I can only imagine that Passion Pit is saying, “We have more hits,” and maybe they do, but they have a hell of a long way to go before they can take on a masterful performance like the one I would witnessed that evening.
Why is this band so great? Several reasons. Number one they are probably the closest thing to early Pink Floyd that generation Y will ever see live. Number two, I love MGMT and this is what they should be evolving into. And finally, they put out a double record in a world of single downloads, and they produce a wall of sound live that would make Phil Spector proud.
It’s the last night of the Guns N’ Roses Appetite for Democracy residency at The Joint in Las Vegas. Axl Rose and company are notorious for coming on late, but tonight they are right on time. I was lucky enough to catch the final night of the twelve-show residency that transformed Sin City into Paradise City.
GnR don’t play a ton of shows in the States anymore, especially in a venue this intimate (4,000 seats). This was truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and for all the naysayers who criticize the band, I say you got it all wrong.
Guns N’ Roses did not disappoint and sounded better than ever. Opening up with “Chinese Democracy,” straight into “Welcome to the Jungle” and “It’s So Easy,” Axl led his supergroup of hand-picked rock ‘n’ roll juggernauts through a three-and-a-half hour set until almost four in the morning. To say that this last night was epic is an understatement. Axl’s voice is holding up just fine, and he had something to prove as he ran around the stage commanding the crowd and turned the energy in the room up to eleven.
What a night it was here in San Francisco at The Regency Ballroom last week. Three bands blew the roof off the building in front of a jam packed, sold out crowd. As you will see, I was a bit camera happy and took several hundred photos that night, all of which I would like to share with you right now. (Just kidding.) But I will use many of the photos from the show to tell a story.
Opening up the evening was a band that I would see and hear for the first time. Girl in a Coma are a female punk rock trio from San Antonio, Texas who were “discovered” by Joan Jett and later signed to her Blackheart Records label. They were fantastic, and maybe a bit much for this crowd, but I loved it. The band reminded me of a female version of an early Nirvana, and they had the wall of sound to prove that they could very well hang with such a comparison. Their latest record, Exits & All the Rest has been in on my playlist on repeat ever since the show. Highly recommended.
If there looks to be some sort of screaming theme throughout the pictures, that’s not actually the case. Each band had their own unique sound that evening, one a bit more aggressive than the next, but by the time Minus the Bear would take the stage the crowd was fired up and ready.
Black Friday is traditionally a day for finding doorbuster deals, punching people in the face over an Elmo doll, and climbing on top of an elderly woman to make sure that you save 20% on last year’s inventory—after camping out in a department store parking lot. Now there is a much better and more sensible reason to enjoy the madness of after Thanksgiving shopping.
Record Store Day is back just in time for the Holidays, Black Friday style. There are a ton of great releases headed to store shelves and you can view the entire list here. I’d like to point out the releases that I will be most looking forward to, and lining up for at Amoeba this time around.
Leonard Cohen / Jeff Buckley, “Hallelujah” | The two classics available together at last! Limited, numbered edition of a split 7″ double-A side single of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” originally recorded for 1984′s Various Positions, coupled with Jeff Buckley’s transcendent interpretation of the song, as originally recorded for Buckley’s 1994 debut album, Grace. Hallelujah indeed.
When the Afghan Whigs dissolved in 2001, they were at the top of their game. Whigs mastermind Greg Dulli was writing songs that were simply beyond the comprehension of MTV and many modern rock radio programmers across the country. His ability to infuse a potent combination of Motown, Stax, and masterful rock ‘n’ roll riffs paved the way for greatness and many trial-and-error copycats to follow.
At the band’s peak, with core members Greg Dulli and John Curley, they were critical darlings and tapped to stay one-step ahead of an industry that was changing rapidly. There was, and has never been, a group like the Whigs, who could exploit the support of major labels while maintaining their artistic integrity with raucous hard-edged alt-rock and pure, classic soul.
Ten years after the group’s demise, Greg Dulli insisted the band would never get back together. All that changed earlier this year and brought thousands of fans together for two nights of magic. The Afghan Whigs were back, and at age 47, Dulli sounded better than he did back in 1996. As if he had something to prove, we were all just thrilled to witness the best comeback tour of the past decade.