The Avett Brothers closed out the summer concert series this past weekend at The America’s Cup Pavilion. It was the perfect ending to what turned out to be an epic race on the San Francisco Bay.
Up against seemingly impossible odds, Team Oracle rallied from an 8-1 deficit to win eight straight races and win the Cup. The Pavilion will begin to be disassembled this week, but the slew of amazing concert performances that it hosted will live on. One could easily argue that they saved the best for last.
The Avett Brothers are simply an amazing talent unmatched in their singer-songwriter achievements. Scott and Seth Avett, along with Bob Crawford and Joe Kwon, seem to be on the brink of breaking wide open into the mainstream but continue to fly just under the radar. Even with powerhouse producer Rick Rubin at their side, they just can’t seem to get that breakthrough that their peers Mumford and Sons have achieved. And that’s okay, because the better band in this case is doing just fine and is ready to release their new album Magpie and the Dandelion.
Four decades long and still going strong, Primal Scream graced the stage at one of my favorite San Francisco venues this past weekend and blew some minds once again. Singer Bobby Gillespie and company have mashed together more genres throughout their brilliant career than most bands listen to in a lifetime, and Gillespie does it with a style and swagger all his own.
This night at the Regency Ballroom would be no different, and the crowd was treated to a set list full of raucous garage rock and acid-infused psychedelic turbo-charged dance grooves. How these guys sound so spectacular after what they’ve been through is beyond me, but apparently they still have something to prove, and prove beyond a doubt is what they did.
With only four U.S. tour dates all happening along the West Coast, San Francisco was lucky enough to be one of them. Touring in support of their tenth studio album More Light, Gillespie was joined by Andrew Innes, Martin Duffy, Darrin Mooney, Barrie Cadogan, and Simone Butler. The David Holmes-produced More Light features guest appearances by Robert Plant, My Bloody Valentine’s Kevin Shields, and Mark Stewart of The Pop Group. Surprisingly, there are no current plans for any other North American appearances this year.
It was 1999 at the Glastonbury Festival in England, and Travis were performing. It had been sunny for several hours before Fran Healy sung the first line from the song “Why Does it Always Rain on Me,” and then it suddenly began to rain.
The following day, the story was all over the papers and television, and with word of mouth and increased radio play of this and the album’s other singles, The Man Who rose to No. 1 on the British charts. It would go on to win Best Album at the 2000 BRIT Awards, along with Travis being named Best Band. It was a glorious time for the band, but something that never quite translated over to the States.
It’s really quite puzzling to me that Travis would never have their breakout moment in the U.S., while Coldplay would come along and turn into a British version of U2. I really think that Travis write better songs and put together better records as well, but what the hell do I know? I’m just happy to see the band is still going strong and sounding better than ever before.
Walking Papers is a Seattle supergroup formed by Jeff Angell (vocals, guitar) of The Missionary Position, Barrett Martin (drums, percussion) formerly of the Screaming Trees, former Guns N’ Roses bassist Duff McKagan, and Benjamin Anderson (keyboards). Why should you care? Because they are bringing back two of rock ‘n roll’s greatest attributes that have been lost in the recent flood of manufactured music: storytelling and musicianship.
As if that wasn’t enough, their self-titled debut album, produced by Angell and Martin, mixed by Jack Endino, features contributions from Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready. Angell has some pretty cool friends that he’s built relationships with over the years. One of them being former Guns ‘N Roses and current Velvet Revolver bassist Duff McKagen. “I called him up and asked if he wanted to play bass on a track and he did such a great job that I asked for another one,” says Angell. “We’ve been friends for a while and I’ve always wanted to do something with him.”
As for Barrett Martin, Angell says that he was always aware of Martin’s talent. “He’s a powerhouse of a musician and plays better than perfect. He played percussion on The Missionary Position (Angell’s previous band) record and then he asked if I wanted to jam. That is what led to the formation of Walking Papers,” says Angell.
How much heavy metal can one consume in a weekend? Apparently, two full days, as that’s what I chose to subject myself to. The Aftershock Festival roared into Sacramento, bringing a full-on metal assault to the state’s capital city, led by the nu-metal likes of Korn and Papa Roach, and rounded out with the classic metal of Megadeth, the Sunset Strip sounds of BuckCherry, and a surprisingly awesome newcomer called In This Moment.
Other acts on the bill included Danish metal band Volbeat, Finish Goth rockers HIM, thrash metal legends Testament, and the faux glam rockers Steel Panther. There was something for everyone under the blazing hot sun, and it would be the final metal festival of the year for us West Coasters.
The lineup on paper looks pretty much all over the place, but surprisingly the music fit together pretty well. Although it was impossible to catch every individual band that would be playing, it was easy enough to put together a plan of attack to see the ones that mattered.
I have to say the true highlight of the entire festival for me was In This Moment. I had never seen these guys and a girl before, and they were absolutely incredible. Falling somewhere in between Lady Gaga and Marilyn Manson, it’s a combination that sounds like a living nightmare, but it’s pure genius when it’s happening right in front of you.
The third annual Rockstar Energy Drink Uproar Festival is currently pummeling its way across the US, and I was lucky enough to catch the show in the middle of the desert during the Albuquerque stop at the Isleta Amphitheater. This year’s lineup is arguably the best lineup yet, with headliners Alice in Chains and Jane’s Addiction anchoring the main stage with support from Circa Survive and Coheed and Cambria.
In addition to these hard rock staples, the other two stages running during the blistering heat of the day were not to be missed. Highlights included Walking Papers, Beware of Darkness, Middle Class Rut, and The Dead Daisies.
Moving from back to front, let me start off with Alice in Chains. Frontman William DuVall continues to impress as he leads AIC to becoming one of the best live bands of the past decade. Of course, we hardcore fans truly miss the late Layne Staley, but DuVall is an absolute stellar addition (notice I didn’t say replacement) to the band. Jerry Cantrell knows exactly what he’s doing when it comes to keeping the legacy of AIC intact, while paving the way for its future at the same time.
God save the queen of rock ‘n’ roll. Courtney Love played a blistering 17-song set list that was everything a fan could hope for. This is a remarkable woman who has led an even more remarkable life. She’s firmly planted on Rolling Stone’s list of all-time greatest albums, was nominated for several Grammys, won a Golden Globe, and led a rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle over the past 20 years that would make even Nikki Sixx blush. And I have to tell you this night at The Phoenix in Petaluma, CA, of all places, she blew the roof off of the joint.
I would have never guessed that Love was 49 years old as she gracefully took to the stage looking stunning in a silver sparkle cutaway dress. Love is famously quoted as saying, “I am not a woman, I am a force of nature,” and this mentality would certainly prove true as the night progressed. The set list consisted of 17 choice cuts, with the vast majority pulling from Hole’s impressive catalog, along with a few from her solo record.
Love opened the night with the song “Plump” from Hole’s 1994 masterpiece Live Through This. It was the perfect sort of “fuck-you-hello-I’m-back,” and the crowd truly embraced the approach. It was the perfect contradiction to the smiling Love that walked on stage and accepted a bouquet of flowers from fans in the front row, which she would later end up returning to them petal-by-petal as a gift of her own.
It was certainly girl power night at the legendary Fillmore in San Francisco as Best Coast took the stage to entertain a room full of inspired fans.
The Los Angeles duo of Bethany Cosentino and Bobb Bruno write incredibly catchy music that brings the warmth of lo-fi California gold pop to the rest of the word. I have been a fan since stumbling across the band’s debut back in 2010, as it’s some of the best female indie rock I have heard since the genius of Juliana Hatfield ruled the college radio airwaves of the ’90s.
One thing that stands out to me is the fact that Rolling Stone magazine just absolutely adores this band. I mean, I think Best Coast are fantastic, but the lopsided love and print time Rolling Stone gives to them is really curious.
For example, simply google “Best Coast Rolling Stone” and watch the pages and pages of search results show for best album of the year, Top 50 this, Top 10 that, etc., etc. It’s the sort of love affair that RS seems to only have with Springsteen and Dylan. (If anyone has an answer, please tweet to me @JasonMillerCA.)