Author Archives: Alan Snodgrass

TVD Live Shots:
Squeeze and X at the
Fox Theater, 9/12

Anchored by founding members Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook, Squeeze has been making music for going on forty-five years and, to cut straight to the chase, sound fan-freaking-tastic today. “The Difford and Tilbrook Songbook” Tour hit Oakland, California’s Fox Theater with Los Angeles punk veterans X for what would prove to be a stellar evening of music.

Having sallied past their own fortieth anniversary, X proceeded to show why they’ve maintained relevance over the years, all while maintaining the original lineup of John Doe (bass/vocals), Exene Cervenka (vocals), Billy Zoom (guitar/sax), and DJ Bonebrake (drums/vibraphone). Kicking off with “The New World,” X stuck to their roots with a setlist that didn’t stretch beyond 1983’s More Fun in the New World yet was sure to please both the casual and hardcore fan.

Squeeze kicked off their set with each member being introduced as they strode on stage, Tilbrook and Difford posting up in the center as they were surrounded by the rest of the band members. Straight into “Footprints,” the band immediately awed, their high and low vocals perfectly complementing one another in a manner that defied their years.

What did not defy time was the deep catalog of music that the band made their way through. The 23 song set spanned the catalog and covered the hits (of which there are many) and got the crowd singing and dancing along with little encouragement from the band, and in some cases what appeared to be a couple of cocktails (this era of band seems to attract folks that are not used to getting out much and have a tendency to have too much fun). But what else can you expect when classics like “Another Nail in my Heart” and “Goodbye Girl” are delivered so flawlessly.

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TVD Live Shots: K.Flay, Houses, and Your Smith at Fox Theatre, 9/7

With a new album fresh from the hopper, pop artist K.Flay brought her “Solutions Tour” to Oakland’s Fox Theatre for her largest hometown headliner to date.

Your Smith kicked off the evening with some guitar and electronic wizardry to back up her solo vocal performance followed by Houses from Chicago, who delivered a mellow set that lulled the Oakland crowd into a temporary state of calm.

But that calm was short-lived because promptly at 10PM, K.Flay and her band consisting of a drummer and a bassist, climbed on top of their Q*bert inspired stage and prepared to unleash. The band tore straight into “Not in California” from the new album as K.Flay stomped atop the massive riser which changed color from white to blue.

Clearly already fans of the new material, the crowd went nuts as they sang along. Good thing too, because they were going to get a lot of Solutions as the night progressed—the whole album, in fact.

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TVD Live Shots: Korn, Alice In Chains, Fever 333, and Underoath at Shoreline Amphitheatre, 9/4

The unlikely mashup of Korn and Alice In Chains wrapped up their North America co-headlining tour at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View California.

The Wednesday night show kicked off early with a 6:30 set by Fever 333. Those who were able to maneuver the Bay Area rush hour traffic in time were rewarded with a spectacle that had front man Jason Butler (who you may recognize from Letlive) ignoring the empty seats up front and making his way into the audience to entertain the folks in the box seats thanks to the longest mic cord ever.

Next up were Floridians Underoath who tore through their set as the crowd still filtered in. Not a bad set, but four bands were clearly overkill for a Wednesday night, and the tour probably would have been better served by starting an hour later.

The sun had finally set and the seats were full by the time Alice in Chains finally took the stage and launched right into “Angry Chair.” The weeks on the road clearly have resulted in an incredible tightness (and no sign of road wear) as they blasted through a setlist of primarily early material from Dirt, Facelift, and Jar of Flies which was augmented with a smattering of the new stuff including a pair of tunes from last year’s Rainier Fog. No complaints at all about this set which showcased AIC at its best.

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TVD Live Shots: Bush, Live, Our Lady Peace at Concord Pavilion, 8/7

Rockers Bush and Live are out on their ALTimate tour to celebrate the 25th anniversaries of their respective breakout albums Sixteen Stone and Throwing Copper along with openers Our Lady Peace. The 33-date run hit Concord, California’s Concord Pavilion on a warm but breezy evening for what would prove to be an epic celebration of two of the biggest albums of the ’90s.

The evening kicked off about 30 minutes late as the venue and crew wrestled with some technical issues, but the silver lining was that it gave the fans some additional time to fight their way through the Thursday night rush hour traffic in time for Our Lady Peace’s opening set.

Live wasted no time pulling out material from Throwing Copper, launching right into “All Over You” which got the Concord crowd on their feet. In an unexpected twist, Live chose to use part of their 60+ minute set to plow through covers of R.E.M.’s “Losing My Religion” and The Rolling Stones’ “Paint It Black” to complement the band’s classic material.

Bush took a similar approach to Live, launching right into the one-two punch of “Machinehead” and “The Chemicals Between Us.” In spite of the co-headlining status, the tour seemed to have saved the electricity for Bush … the lighting over-the-top as frontman Gavin Rossdale bounded around the stage. In a bit of a bizarre move, Rossdale pulled out a pair of chefs knives before introducing “This is War,” but otherwise the set was flawless and those in the back greatly appreciated Gavin’s adventure into the crowd during “Little Things.”

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TVD Live Shots: The Alarm, Modern English, and Jay Aston’s Gene Loves Jezebel at the Regency Ballroom, 8/2

The Alarm are on the road for their “Sigma LXXXV” Tour along with Modern English and Gene Loves Jezebel (the Jay Aston incarnation) in support of their June, 2019 release, Sigma. The ’80s throwback lineup brought the expected middle-agers for a Friday night set at San Francisco’s Regency Ballroom for what would prove to be much more than an evening of nostalgia.

Gene Loves Jezebel kicked off the evening with a 40 minute set of their classics that got the San Francisco crowd moving to their hits such as “Heartache,” “Break the Chain,” and “Desire” as a surprisingly youthful Jay Aston bounced around the stage.

Next up, the legendary Modern English, best known for their 1982 album, After the Snow, but certainly active in the years since with several original members. As a band that’s at risk of being labeled a one-hit-wonder, Modern English’s setlist covered their entire catalog before finally pulling out “that song” … you know the one that everyone’s waiting to hear … at which point frontman Robbie Grey implored the crowd to “put down your fucking phone,” with little impact as the crowd sang along.

The Alarm’s first US show ever was opening for U2 at the Bill Graham Civic and they have been back many times since. It was not surprising, then, when Mike Peters and the band took the stage, they were met with a warm welcome from the San Francisco fans.

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TVD Live Shots: Paul McCartney at the SAP Center, 7/10

SAN JOSE, CA | Paul McCartney has been making music for sixty years and, now pushing into his late ’70s, shows no sign of slowing down. Currently out on his “Freshen Up Tour,” Sir Paul brought his legendary talents and extensive catalog to San Jose’s SAP Arena where the lines to get through the doors were only dwarfed by the bag check (apparently the SAP Arena’s new clear bag policy came as a surprise to many).

With no opener, McCartney took the stage with his band and wasted no time diving right into “A Hard Day’s Night,” plucking that classic left-handed Hofner “violin” bass as the crowd took to their feet and sang along. With a talented backing band which was later joined by a horn section, McCartney was not rushing to get through what amounted to practically a three-hour set, no small feat for men half his age, but reflective of the ground that had to be covered.

Early on Paul paused to shed his jacket, resulting in a whoop from the crowd, to which he responded, “that was the only wardrobe change of the entire evening.” Picking up an electric guitar, McCartney took an opportunity to show off his licks to Jimi Hendrix’s “Foxy Lady” but not before sharing any early story about Hendrix.

Proving that his instrumentalism is as prolific as his catalog, Paul hopped effortlessly between instruments … bass, electric, acoustic, grand piano, stand-up piano, and mandolin. And when he teased the crowd with “going way way back,” the crowd erupted but likely wasn’t expecting how far back he would really go until he busted out the pre-Beatles Quarryman’s “In Spite of All the Danger,” as he encouraged the crowd to help out with some “whoa-oh-ohs.”

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TVD Live Shots:
Howard Jones, Men Without Hats, All Hail the Silence at the Regency Ballroom, 7/5

San Francisco on the Friday after July 4th was remarkably quiet, but inside the walls of the Regency Ballroom, synth-pop legend Howard Jones was bringing his “Transform Tour 2019” to a room full of middle-agers ready to relive their glory years. But hold on … this is not a show to chalk up to ’80s New Wave nostalgia. Jones has proven to be prolific, dropping album after album since his 1984 breakthrough, Human’s Lib, 2019’s Tranform being just another step in his evolution.

The evening kicked off with a thirty minute set by duo All Hail The Silence followed by Men Without Hats. Anchored by lead vocalist and founding member Ivan Doroschuk, MWH plowed through a shockingly entertaining set that was punctuated by the one song you probably recognize, “The Safety Dance,” which got the crowd moving for the first time this evening.

Howard Jones took the stage promptly at 10PM, greeted the room and launched into “Hide and Seek” from behind the keyboard before being joined by his guitar player and keyboardist. With the band set up at the back of the stage, Jones had plenty of room to move with his hand-free mic, occasionally rocking the keytar.

The crowd, which had previously been content to quietly sip their cocktails to the openers, finally woke up, singing along with Howard as he tore through 90 minutes of material from Transform and his first two albums (Human’s Lib and Dream Into Action) while leaving the night devoid of anything released between 1989’s Cross That Line and 2015’s Engage. But with Transform being his first album in a decade, it deserved to be celebrated.

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TVD Live Shots: Coheed and Cambria, Mastodon, and Every Time I Die at The Masonic, 6/25

Coheed and Cambria and Mastodon are out on the road together on “The Unheavenly Skye Tour,” each celebrating a different album but with a common cause … to rock the local fans. And so it was they found themselves in front of a packed house at The Masonic in San Francisco on a Tuesday night, no small feat given that Judas Priest was holding court right down the street for their second of a two night stand. The show kicked off at the obnoxiously early hour at 6:30 pm for openers Every Time I Die, but kudos to the San Francisco audience for making an effort and the already-crowded floor was ready to dance to their generous 40 minute set.

As the crew made quick work of the stage, much of crowd filtered into the lobby bar for refreshments where the unavoidable glare from the sun (still high in the sky) came as a bit of a shock as people checked their watches. The sun was not even close to setting and Mastodon was about to take the stage to celebrate the tenth anniversary of their fourth album, Crack the Skye. Between the psychedelic LED screens and the wafting of weed, the crowd was lulled into a mild stupor as the band played through Skye sequentially. From there they finished the set with a handful of select tunes including “Black Tongue” which resulted in several “hold my beer” moments as the fans perked up and dashed into the pit.

The evening wrapped with Coheed and Cambria, on tour supporting their latest (2018) concept album, The Unheavenly Creatures. Taking the stage, Coheed launched right into “Prologue,” the opening track off the album—similar psychedelic visuals on the LED screens as Mastodon, but with a much different reaction from the San Francisco crowd. Make no mistake, the same people who were only 45 minutes earlier passing a joint were now rocking the hell out and singing along to Coheed’s special brand of nerd metal, which actually had frontman Claudio Sanchez putting down his guitar for a moment to perform raucous rendition of “Key Entity Extraction V: Sentry the Defiant.”

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TVD Live Shots:
The Cult and The Beta Machine at The Regency Ballroom, 6/12

It’s hard to believe that it’s been 30 years since The Cult released their iconic Sonic Temple album, but leave it to The Cult to remind us with a tour and a sold out show at San Francisco’s Regency Ballroom. A two-hour power outage at the Regency delayed doors, and openers The Beta Machine were still sound checking as the lobby filled with the eager fans who rushed to the barricade the moment they had the chance, venue staff hollering, “walk please!”

Due to the crew’s herculean effort to get the show back on track after the outage, The Beta Machine was able to take the stage only 10 minutes late for their 30 minute set. You may not know The Beta Machine but you’ll likely recognize some familiar faces … Matt McJunkins (A Perfect Circle, Eagles of Death Metal and many more) and Jeff Friedl (A Perfect Circle, DEVO, Puscifer and many more) held down the rhythm section and joined by Nicholas Perez (guitar/keys) and Laura Vall (vocals) for what would only be her third show with the band. In spite of the mad scramble to get the show rolling, the band’s performance was flawless and the shared vocals between McJunkins and Vall sounded great.

By the time The Cult finally took the stage, the Regency Ballroom was packed to capacity. First Damon Fox (keys), then John Tempesta (drums), and Grant Fitzpatrick (bass) stepped out and launched into the groove of “Sun King” followed by original members Billy Duffy and finally Ian Astbury as the crowd went wild.

The notoriously-deficient Regency air conditioning was living up to its reputation, leading Astbury to comment, “this place seems to have its own weather,” as the temperature and humidity soared (maybe “Rain” would have been a better opener). A playful Astbury shrugged off the heat and strutted the stage while demonstrating his tambourine acrobatics skills which left the stage littered with its casualties.

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TVD Live Shots: Hollywood Vampires
at The Warfield, 5/12

The Hollywood Vampires were originally conceived in the 1970s as a rock star drinking club housed in the bowels of the iconic Rainbow Bar on the Hollywood Sunset Strip. Fast forward to 2019 and original Vampire Alice Cooper, along with Johnny Depp and Joe Perry, have decided to take the show on the road in support of their forthcoming second album, Rise, which is due in stores on June 21. The seven show jaunt includes Tommy Henriksen (guitar), Glen Sobel (drums), Chris Wyse (bass), and Buck Johnson (keyboards).

With no opening act, Hollywood Vampires took the stage at an entirely reasonable 8:15 pm and launched into an unreleased original track, “I Want My Now,” with Alice on vocals. Despite the new track, the crowd immediately lit up. It wouldn’t be a proper Vampires show without a healthy dose of cover tunes and the band did not disappoint, celebrating the likes of The Doors, AC/DC, The Who, and more. The band sounded tight … clearly prepared for the mini run … but drummer Glen Sobel was a stand-out. Man that guy can play, and his solo during “Baba O’Riley” was truly inspiring.

While Cooper handled the majority of vocal duties, there was still room for the rest of the band to step up to the mic. Joe Perry sang vocals on Johnny Thunders’ “You Can’t Put Your Arms Around A Memory” and Depp took the lead on The Jim Carroll Band’s “People Who Died” which he dedicated to his late bodyguard Jerry Judge who passed last month. If there was any doubt who the biggest star on that stage was, a quick look around the room at the number of cell phones in the air on record during Johnny’s totally legit version of David Bowie’s “Heroes” would have made the answer clear.

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TVD Live Shots: Rival Sons, The Sheepdogs, and The Soft White Sixties at The Fillmore, 5/7

The hallowed halls of the Fillmore echoed with rock and roll as Rival Sons brought their “Feral Roots” tour to San Francisco in support of their sixth studio release which dropped earlier this year. Filling a void for straight-up rock and roll that bands like Greta Van Fleet have forcefully pointed out exists in the music world, Rival Sons came to rock and the Bay Area crowd showed up early to roll with them.

Openers The Soft White Sixties kicked off the evening about 15 minutes ahead of the posted schedule but the room was already filling in anticipation. The Sheepdogs followed with a set of Southern Rock inspired tunes from Saskatoon, Canada that would make any Allman Brothers fan giddy with their clean, dueling guitar leads.

Sufficiently warmed up lubricated by the flow of cocktails, the San Francisco crowd was clearly pumped when Rival Sons keyboardist Todd Ögren strolled on stage to announce a mini comedy set by Dean Delray. The 10 minutes of standup went by quickly but could easily have been skipped because the crowd was clearly growing restless.

Finally it was time and Rival Sons strolled onto the stage, clearly ready to rock the Fillmore as they launched into “Back in the Woods.” Those attending damned well better have liked the new album, because the band did not hold back on unleashing the new material live, plowing through 7 songs (half the setlist) off of Feral Roots and leaving little room to do justice to the rest of their catalog during the whopping hour and 45 minute set.

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TVD Live Shots: Killswitch Engage, Parkway Drive, After
the Burial, and Vein at
the Warfield, 4/18

The San Francisco Bay Area doesn’t let a little thing like a 6:30 start time on a Thursday night stop them from enjoying a quality evening of metal, especially when it comes to a Parkway Drive and Killswitch Engage co-headliner. The San Francisco crew lined up early and got rowdy for opening sets by Vein and After the Burial.

By the time Parkway Drive took the stage, the Warfield was packed to the rafters and floor went sideways when they launched into “Wishing Wells” off of last year’s Reverance. It had been well-over a year since these Aussies have hit the stage here and they had clearly been missed. No doubt these guys could have easily headlined this show on their own and as the sweaty kids hobbled out of the pit after the set wrapped with “Bottom Feeder,” the obvious question was how the heck was Killswitch Engage going to follow that? The answer: crushingly.

After a quick change-over KSE was on the stage and frontman Jesse Leach was up in the crowd and wailing to “This Fire.” While some of the faces of front had switched out, the floor was no-less furious as the band raged on, guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz always making sure the mood stayed light as he pogoed around the stage. Not too shabby for a band that’s not only been crushing it for nearly 20 years, but has maintained relevance throughout. Now about that new album, it’s been a while…

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TVD Live Shots: Justin Timberlake at the Oracle Arena, 3/15

It’s been over a year since Justin Timberlake dropped Man of the Woods and he finally brought the show to Oakland, California after having to reschedule from last fall due to bruised vocal chords. The delay certainly did not seem to impact the enthusiasm of the crowd which was clearly in the mood to party.

Upon entering the venue it became immediately clear why there were twenty or so semis parked out front. Timberlake’s stage took the concept of the “in the round” concert to a new level with a main stage on one end with a catwalk snaking through the crowd to a smaller stage on the other end. In the middle, the “Stage Bar” in the VIP “Party Pit” kept the drinks flowing.

Not surprisingly, the crowd was mostly women (many of whom seem to be dating Justin look-alikes) and when Timberlake finally emerged onto the stage back-lit by blazing white light, they collectively lost their shit. Well-choreographed and perfectly executed, Timberlake sprinted and danced across the arena floor along with his dance troupe, “The Tennessee Kids.”

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TVD Live Shots: Action Bronson, Roc Marciano, and Meyhem Lauren at the Fox Theater, 3/11

In support of his new album White Bronco, rapper Action Bronson has taken to the road along with partners in rhyme Meyhem Lauren and Roc Marciano. The Monday after Daylight Saving Time’s “spring forward” BS found the trio at Oakland’s Fox Theater. Not surprising, the fans slowly trickled into the venue. But you can usually gauge the ticket sales at any Fox show by the number of bars that are open and, with all but one bar running, the attendance quickly swelled to a fair-sized crowd.

For those not contributing to the haze of weed smoke that hung over the crowd, the contact high was inescapable. And with only two turntables and a microphone on stage, the change-overs were speedy. Together, this made for an evening that would prove to be chill by any measure. In fact, none of the acts even brought a single piece of merch to sell, leaving the venue opting to hawk Fox Theater shirts and hoodies.

Meyhem Lauren kicked things off and immediately had the crowd in his pocket. There was no doubt that the Oakland crowd loves this guy and, even when he stepped on stage later that night during both Roc’s and Action’s sets, he was met with huge cheers. In comparison, Roc Marciano seemed to have a tougher time keeping up the momentum. It wasn’t a bad set but he just never seemed to click with the crowd in the way that Meyhem was able to.

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TVD Live Shots: Muse and Walk the Moon at Oracle Arena, 3/9

It’s been a year and a half since Muse last passed through the San Francisco Bay Area but with a new album (Simulation Theory), there was good reason for a return visit, this time to a sold out Oracle Arena in Oakland.

Upon entering, fans were greeted with a massive stage setup which only hinted at the marvel that was set to unfold. Even during Walk the Moon’s 45 minute opening set, the stage was kept dimly lit to avoid letting slip any spoilers.

Doubling down on the space rock theme, the set kicked off with the band seeming to be “beamed” down to the stage while a squad of space trombonists marched their way to the end of the catwalk where frontman Matt Bellamy rose through the floor with mic in hand.

The arena, on its feet from the floor to the rafters, went nuts with what was only the start of a two-hour epic set that was full of surprises. Matt made frequent use of the catwalk before sprinting back to his main mic was fixed stage right. And while his range may have been sometimes limited, the insane visuals punctuated by a giant alien robot rising from behind the stage, more than made up for it.

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