Author Archives: Alan Snodgrass

TVD Live Shots: Bauhaus and Vinsantos at the Masonic, 5/21

Apparently May 22nd was World Goth Day. Oh, you didn’t know such a thing existed either? Well apparently, someone at San Francisco’s Masonic Auditorium was on top of the holiday and had the foresight to celebrate with a pair of concerts by the legendary purveyors of gloom, Bauhaus.

Night one of the weekend double-header was kicked off by Vinsantos, the self-described “witch drag artist” who kept the mood dark as the crowd gathered for what would prove to be nothing short of memorable for fans young and old that dared to think that the opportunity to see Bauhaus live again would ever come to pass.

Taking the stage a hair past 9PM, the original four piece took the stage and launched right into “Rosegarden Funeral of Sores,” the band stepping in and out of the shadows as the bass line dirged on as Peter Murphy’s vocals pierced through the din. A commanding presence on stage, Murphy worked the crowd like a pro, engaging the front row directly without sacrificing the carefully curated vibe.

For their part the crowd soaked it all in and gave it right back, helping the band out on the chorus of “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” without prompting and were rewarded by Murphy with fistfuls of red rose pedals. The set peaked with “Dark Entries” that seemed to have the general admission floor on the verge of a mosh that never quite materialized.

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TVD Live Shots: Blondie and The Damned at the Masonic, 5/17

Benefiting from the previous weekend’s Cruel World festival in Pasadena, San Francisco got a special spillover visit from Blondie with support from The Damned where The Masonic Auditorium was packed to the rafters.

The Damned kicked things off with “Wait for the Blackout” which got their fans up front moving around before kicking into a mellower groove.  Greatly missed from the evening’s show was Captain Sensible who chose to sit out these handful of shows, but Troy Van Leeuwen (Queens Of The Stone Age) proved to be an excellent replacement minus the on-stage antics that fans of the Captain have come to expect.

The Damned is a rare case of a band that only seems to get better with age. With Paul Gray back on the bass and new drummer Will Taylor behind the drum kit, the bottom end is as tight and heavy as it’s ever been, giving Vanian plenty of space to wow, although he always seems to overdress for a performance, gradually removing layers throughout the set as the room (and the crowd) heated up, reaching a peak for “Love Song” and continuing through to the set closer, “New Rose.”

While The Damned clearly left a mark on The Masonic, it was pretty obvious that most of the fans were here to see Blondie and when the band finally strolled out on the stage people lost their minds. A quick glance at the Blondie lineup and you may have been surprised to see none other than Glen Matlock of Sex Pistols fame filling in on bass for Chris Stein.

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TVD Live Shots: Pearl Jam with Pluralone at the Oakland Arena, 5/12

OAKLAND, CA | Two years in the making, Pearl Jam’s “Gigaton” tour finally made it to Oakland, and it was undoubtedly worth the wait. Pearl Jam fans are known for their supreme dedication, showing up early and sticking it out to the end, and those who did so were treated to a couple of solo cover tunes by Eddie Vedder before his introduction of Josh Klinghoffer (aka Pluralone) as the opening act which had Stone Gossard joining in on the fun.

The room lit up when the band took the stage a smidge ahead of 9PM and busted right into Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World,” followed quickly by “Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town” which had the crowd singing right along. Hearing an arena sing “I just want to scream hello,” with that little extra oomph on “hello,” was magical at that scale. It was at this point that Eddie answered the question that was in pretty much everyone’s mind—where the heck was Matt Cameron? Sidelined by COVID, the band decided to go forward with the show tapping Josh Klinghoffer and Richard Stuverud as fill-ins.

With the band-audience mind meld complete, Pearl Jam kicked things into high gear. “Why Go” had people losing their minds while Eddie went off, jumping from the drum riser, generally rocking the hell out and proving once again just why Pearl Jam continues to sell out arenas for over 30 years.

The band set a measured tone, clearly pacing themselves for what would prove to be an epic 2 ½ hour set. Between songs Eddie regaled the room with stories about the band and went off on tangents based on guests in the house (Angels manager Joe Maddon) and signs held by the crowd (the pro-choice banner got a tambourine). Mid-set Eddie even mused out loud about having online drum auditions for a fan to play a song with them the following night. Enter Josh Arroyo—getting Eddie’s attention with the help of some friends in the 100s section, he was invited backstage to get tested (more on Josh later).

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TVD Live Shots:
The Go-Go’s at the Masonic, 3/24

While we were away.Ed.

After reschedulings, venue changes, cancellations, and postponements, the show that never seemed to quite make it to a Bay Area stage finally came to pass. That’s right, Belinda, Jane, Kathy, Charlotte, and Clem (yes, you read that right—Clem Burke of Blondie on drums) hit San Francisco’s Masonic Auditorium for what would prove to be well worth the wait.

With no opening act and a no-frills stage setup, The Go-Go’s stormed the stage at 8:15 and proceeded to wow the near-capacity crowd of mostly Gen X’ers apparently out for date night from the first notes of “Beatnik Beach.” Belinda was the “punk rock ballerina” spinning around barefoot mid-stage while Kathy, Charlotte, and Jane held down the backup harmonies and Clem showed why he was the perfect stand-in behind the kit for Gina Schock.

And where was Gina you might ask? Sitting right there on the side of the stage enjoying the show as much, if not more than the most enthusiastic fans in the house. If you were worried you’d miss out on Gina’s flair for the hype, not to worry—she happily borrowed the mic from Belinda a few times to intro the band and unnecessarily point out how great the band sounded (everyone there already knew).

With a 90-minute set, The Go-Go’s were able to easily cover all the bases in their catalog with most of Beauty and the Beat peppered amongst hits from their other three albums as well as “Club Zero,” released in 2020, the band’s first new song in nineteen years!

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TVD Live Shots: Yungblud, Palaye Royale, Upsahl, and poutyface at the Warfield, 3/17

While we were away.Ed.

Anyone driving down Market Street in San Francisco this past Thursday evening could not have possibly missed the line snaking from under the entrance of the Warfield down the street and around the corner onto Turk Street. Emblazoned on the marquee, “Yungblud” who was set to take the city by storm on his Life on Mars Tour. If you’ve been wondering what the emo kids have been listening to while waiting for MCR to finally play some shows, step right on it.

Openers poutyface and Upsahl kicked things off with a battle of the power trios that had the packed house more than happy to appreciatively play along. But when Palaye Royale took the stage, things kicked into overdrive with their incredibly energetic set that had the now-packed pit area up front losing their shit.

With a scrim draped across the front of the stage, the crowd got antsy waiting for Yungblud to take the stage and things only got more tense when lights finally went down, the house music was turned off, and the crowd waited in silence for what seemed like forever. Talk about building anticipation.

When the curtain finally dropped all that bottled up energy was finally released and holy crap if the place didn’t go full-out nuts. Yungblud was out of the gates like a man possessed, sprinting from one end of the stage to the other feeding off the hyped-up crowd. Well, more like feeding off each other—not two songs into the set and Yungblud was gobsmacked, almost (but not quite) at a loss for words. Perhaps that’s what inspired him to plant a big smacking kiss on guitar player Adam Warrington’s mouth.

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TVD Live Shots:
Gary Numan and
I Speak Machine at
the Fillmore, 2/24

It’s hard to believe that Gary Numan has been at it for over 40 years and with a new album (Intruder) and North American tour in flight, it’s clear that he has no intentions of slowing down or letting up. And why should he? A Thursday night in San Francisco proves that his followers are more than happy to continue showing up as evidenced by the Fillmore which was absolutely packed, even by pre-pandemic standards.

I Speak Machine kicked things off with Tara Busch’s one-woman show who, in referring to herself as “we” no doubt was including the laptops, keyboards, buttons, knobs, gadgets and electronic doodads that surrounded her on stage. It seemed things could go one of two ways and thankfully Tara was able to step out from behind her equipment and absolutely crush her 30-minute set.

Gary and his band took the stage a few minutes after 9PM and launched straight into “Intruder” from his latest release. If you’ve never seen Numan before, what befell the Fillmore stage at that moment would likely be nothing like your mental image. Pushing past 60 years, Numan belies his age between the full shock of black hair and his incredible on-stage energy. Couple that energy with the thump of his music as well as a carefully crafted production and aesthetic and you have what proves to be one of the best shows you may ever see.

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TVD Live Shots: Turnstile, Citizen, and Coco & Clair Clair at Regency Ballroom, 2/22

There’s a bit of a hubbub over Turnstile’s latest LP Glow On. Released in August of 2021, the album quickly hit the radar of music fans old and new, making many “best of” lists and charting all over the place. With their North American “The Turnstile Love Connection Tour” kicking off in San Francisco with a pair of shows at the Regency Ballroom, it was the perfect time to catch the band live and see if all the hype is warranted.

Having somehow failed to have ever given Glow On a spin amidst the incessant brouhaha, the drive over the bridged served as the perfect opportunity to pull it up and see what was afoot for the upcoming evening. Let’s just say that there’s a lot to unpack in Glow On. Melodic with chorus-laden guitars, overdriven hardcore breakdowns, synths and some percussive creativity … one drive over the Bay Bridge was certainly not enough time.

The Regency filled up quickly and despite tickets still for sale at the door, the place was absolutely packed for openers Coco and Clair Clair who received an overly polite response from the crowd but fell in the category of “I don’t get it” for this dude. Next up was Citizen, with a fiery but brief 35-minute set that got the pit churning and had those that arrived early to grab a spot on the rail for Turnstile holding on for dear life in order to keep their spot.

A little Whitney Houston blasting over the PA got the crowd warmed up for Turnstile’s 9:45 entrance at which point all hell broke loose. Vocalist Brendan Yates literally attacked the stage—spinning, jumping and lunging as the band tore into “Holiday” in front of blinding strobes. The energy on the stage matched by the mob that packed the general admission floor, singing and dancing along, the hullabaloo punctuated by the occasional overly priced beers sailing overhead.

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TVD Live Shots: The Struts, World’s First Cinema, and Charming Liars at The Fillmore, 1/18

Proving that they can be knocked down but not knocked out, The Struts successfully navigated their way through COVID infections and restrictions to bring their rescheduled “Strange Days Are Over Tour” to San Francisco’s Fillmore.

While some fans might have understandably opted out, The Struts managed to assemble a large and rather cheery crowd, happy to sip their cocktails and dole out some deserved appreciation for openers Charming Liars and World’s First Cinema. But when the lights finally dimmed, and The Struts took the stage and those that had been waiting patiently for this moment—completely lost their shit.

Tearing right into “Primadonna Like Me” it was clear that the band hadn’t missed a beat during the last few months off and was ready to pick right back up where they left things with frontman Luke Spiller … bedecked in floofy pink showing off his legendary swagger. The crowd ate up every note and when Luke demanded they jump, the floor noticeably flexed and when he demanded they sing …well, that was completely unnecessary because they already were.

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TVD Live Shots: Metallica at Chase Center, 12/17

Metallica turns forty! If band years were calculated similarly to dog years, that would make Metallica (breaks out calculator) pretty freaking old. Let’s face it, the Four Horsemen have defied all odds by endured the ups and downs of being a band. From line-up changes to experimental music projects (LuLu) to putting all their shit out there for everyone to see (Some Kind of Monster) they’re seemingly bigger than ever, so it’s not a surprise that they’ve taken this as an opportunity to thank their loyal fans.

Unlike the series of intimate gatherings that marked their 30-year anniversary, Metallica decided to be more inclusive this time around, literally taking over San Francisco for the weekend with a series of events, gatherings, and community projects peppered between two mega-arena events at the Chase Center. All told, the festivities had fans traveling from around the world to participate.

Without an opening band, Metallica relied on comedian Dean DelRay and DJ Lord (Public Enemy) to warm up the crowd as they got their first glimpse of the stage. Historically big fans of playing in the round, Metallica unsurprisingly stuck with their tried-and-true approach, augmenting the production with massive curved LED screens of various sizes on which videos queued the arrival of the band. But there’s nothing quite like “The Ecstasy of Gold” to trigger that pavlovian response in every Metallica fan’s brain knowing that the band is about to take the stage as they join in singing.

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TVD Live Shots: Foo Fighters and Kills Birds at Golden 1 Center, 12/7

SACRAMENTO, CA | Freshly-minted Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees Foo Fighters brought the fire to the Golden 1 Center that had the streets of downtown Sacramento buzzing on a Tuesday night. And why not … with twenty-six years as a band, they were about to show the crowd why they’re one of the greatest bands of this generation. Oh, and if you ever wondered whether there were any perks to being Dave Grohl’s new favorite band, just ask Kills Birds who kicked the night off.

The band took the stage with little fanfare while Grohl, dimly lit by a spot, opened the evening a cappella with “Times Like These” as the crowd sang along. The lights kicked in when the band launched into the chorus, and it was immediately clear that the night’s show was not going to be a mellow affair as Dave dashed from one end of the stage to the other. In fact, the opening salvo of the setlist that went straight into “The Pretender” and “Learn to Fly” set the perfect tone for the evening’s festivities.

The sold out Golden 1 Center was absolutely packed top to bottom and front to back. And as the band settled into their groove, Dave claimed to be genetically programmed to scream for hours and promised to cover all the bases before cracking a joke about the smell of popcorn that permeated the venue. The guy literally doesn’t have an “off button,” injecting humor into even the most basic of moves. Case in point: blending right in with the vintage looking amps was a Marshall mini fridge, easy to dismiss as another piece of gear until Dave nonchalantly opens it to grab a cold one.

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TVD Live Shots: Rival Sons, Reignwolf, and Jameson Burt at the Warfield, 11/11

Rock and roll is back and Rival Sons are carrying the torch across America, stopping at the historic Warfield to give the San Francisco crowds a much needed booster shot.

Openers Jameson Burt and Reignwolf kicked off the evening with guitars and rock and roll appetizers. Jameson’s one man show drew the gathering crowd in from the lobby and Reignwolf’s raucous set made sure they weren’t going anywhere, especially after guitar player Jordan Cook booted a perfectly good drummer from behind his kit to play both instruments.

Not that any band really needs an excuse to get back on the road as concerts finally open back up, but Rival Sons does indeed have reason to celebrate. 2021 represents the 10-year anniversary of their 2011 breakthrough album Pressure & Time.

For a band that has toured with mega-acts and has commanded a considerable buzz, the attendance on this particular night was criminally low. But that didn’t keep the band from bringing their all. With drummer Mike Miley and keyboardist Todd Ögren set up at the back of the stage along with some vintage looking amps, there was plenty of room for vocalist Jay Buchanan to work. And work he did. Sporting a black three piece suit, Jay delivered an inspiring performance that had the crowd singing along.

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TVD Live Shots: Evanescence and Halestorm at the SAP Arena, 11/9

SAN JOSE, CAAfter being announced in May, Evanescence’s arena tour with Halestorm is finally here. On top of the long-awaited return to live music, the band has a new album (The Bitter Truth) to celebrate.

A quiet Tuesday night found the tour at the SAP Center in San Jose. While it was arguably ambitious to book this particular show in an arena, the crew curtained off the top level which made the vibe a little more intimate while leaving plenty of room for the impressive stage setup.

Halestorm took the stage promptly at 8PM and appropriately launched into their newest song “Back From the Dead.” Looking at the general admission area right up front you could easily forget that they weren’t the headliner because they clearly had some fans in the house that were more than ready to rock along. Lzzy Hale’s voice sounded as powerful as ever, clearly none the worse for wear after the pandemic-driven break. Heck, the entire band looked energized to be back on the road and in front of an audience of any size.

After “Amen” the lights went down, and the crew rolled out a white grand piano which Lzzy took a seat behind and was soon joined by Amy Lee for a duet of “Break In” that both impressed and amped up the crowd for Evanescence’s headlining set. After an hour, Halestorm finally yielded the stage but not before peppering the crowd with sticks, picks, setlists, and even a few bracelets straight off of Lzzy’s wrist.

With the crew making quick work of the stage, the arena lights dimmed at 9:30PM, the intro music rolled and Amy’s vocals for “Broken Pieces Shine” soared through the arena before she was revealed backlit on a riser behind the drum kit.  The crowd went nuts and with good reason. Not only does Evanescence have a new album out, but they haven’t played the San Francisco Bay Area for over 3 years!

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TVD Live Shots: Billy Idol and Down and Outlaws at the Mountain Winery, 8/19

Perched in the hills with stunning views of Silicon Valley, The Mountain Winery seems to have found itself leading the way as music venues in the Bay Area start reopening. Rolling with the ever-changing guidelines, the sold-out crowd was required to show proof of vaccination or a negative Covid test before getting in, but what a small price to pay for a return to a bit of normalcy after the complete shitshow of the last 18 months. And of course, there was the night’s headliner, Billy Idol!

Local rockers Down and Outlaws kicked off the evening as the sun started to set and the guests availed themselves of the ample wine selection, filling the seats as Billy Idol, Steve Stevens and the rest of the band took the stage and launched into “Cradle of Love,” his mega-hit from 1990’s Charmed Life.

All smiles, Billy played it up for the front row which was literally swooning as the band wrapped “Dancing with Myself” and Billy did a quick change of his shirt in front of the drum riser … likely an intentional tease before busting into “Flesh for Fantasy.”

While the setlist expectedly covered all the hits, there was even a little something for those wanting more, hitting on new material from his upcoming EP “The Roadside” (out September 17) with “Rita Hayworth” and “Bitter Taste.” While not rocking to the level of his early work, the pair of tunes fit in nicely with his earlier ballads “Eyes Without a Face” and “Flesh for Fantasy.”

The good news for the guitar nerds in the house is that Steve Stevens was granted some substantial airtime to show off his underrated skills. First a lengthy solo that meandered into Led Zep’s “Over the Hill and Far Away” and “Stairway to Heaven” and then a full length instrumental of the “Top Gun Anthem” highlighted why his legacy is well-deserved.

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Save Our Stages: The Alarm, Modern English, Jay Aston’s Gene Loves Jezebel at the Regency Ballroom, San Francisco, 8/2/19

During this period of historic uncertainty, the fight for the survival of our independent record stores is directly mirrored by the dark stages of our local independent theatres, clubs, and performance spaces which have been shuttered due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s been cited as well that 90% of these concert venues may never, ever return.

Enter the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) whose #SaveOurStages campaign has provided a spotlight on this perilous predicament with a unique mission to “preserve and nurture the ecosystem of independent live music venues and promoters throughout the United States.” Without help from Congress the predictions are indeed quite dire and TVD encourages you support the S. 3814/H.R. 7481, the RESTART Act, by telling your legislators to save independent music venues via the form that can be filled out and forwarded right here.

This week and next we’ll be turning our own spotlight onto previous live concert coverage as a reminder of the need to preserve the vitality of live music venues across the country—and indeed across the globe—and while we’re at it to celebrate the work of the fine photographers and writers at TVD who are all itching to get back into the pit. 

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: The Struts and Starcrawler at The Warfield, 3/3

The Struts hitched up with Harley-Davidson for a California mini-run, aptly dubbed the “Tour de California 2020.” Along with openers Starcrawler, Super Tuesday found them at San Francisco’s Warfield for a welcome reprieve from the relentless barrage of politics.

Opener Starcrawler kicked things off in front of a crowd that was clearly hip to what was about to go down, having not only arrived early but staked out a spot on the barricade. Simply stated, Starcrawler is a band that must be seen to be appreciated. All arms and legs, the waif-thin Arrow de Wilde commands the stage and demands attention with not only her vocals but, with her bodily contortions that are only accentuated by her 6’ 3” frame.

While this night’s set was arguably tame by Starcrawler standards (much to the appreciation of the germophobes in the photo pit), the band surely impressed in no small part due to guitarist Henri Cash’s shredding which didn’t miss a note even as he hopped into the crowd during the set closer “Bet My Brains” before hanging his guitar around a befuddled fan’s neck while he walked off the stage and the crew began to pack up.

By the time The Struts took the stage, the floor of the Warfield was packed and San Francisco was ready to party. So it was a good thing that compared to their last visit to San Francisco (The Fillmore, November, 2018), The Struts kicked things up a notch in terms of production—taking full advantage of the larger stage.

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