Author Archives: Matthew Belter

TVD Live Shots: Darker Waves Festival, 11/18

The Darker Waves Festival kicked off with a bang on November 18th under the radiant California sun at Huntington Beach, creating an electrifying experience for devotees of darker ’80s genres. This inaugural event magnetized an impressive crowd of nearly 50,000 fans from around the globe, making it, well, a global phenomenon! Over 30 bands ignited three stages, delivering performances that will continue to resonate in the hearts of attendees for years to come. It was an unforgettable spectacle that set the bar sky-high for future festivals here in Southern California and beyond.

The moment C3 Presents unveiled the Darker Waves Festival back in June, my excitement skyrocketed. The prospect of seeing iconic ’80s bands like New Order, Tears For Fears, and the B-52’s performing live on a stage in Huntington Beach was exhilarating. These bands were the soundtrack of my youth and the idea of witnessing them perform live, right here in my home turf, was thrilling. So, let’s dive deep into the magic that this extraordinary festival conjured.

The lineup for Saturday’s event was an impressive showcase of talent featuring legendary acts Tears For Fears and New Order as the headliners. Thirty-two performances, spread across three stunning stages—Darker, Waves, and Tiki—were every bit as entrancing as anticipated. A skillful mix of classic synth-pop hits with innovative post-punk tracks created a compelling ambiance that kept the crowd captivated during the entire 10-hour festival. In all, it was a well-choreographed lineup that meet and exceeded even the pickiest of festival goers in Surf City USA.

Since the event concluded, I’ve had many reach out inquiring about my thoughts on the standout performances from Saturday’s lineup. Having been fortunate enough to witness most of these acts live (some for the first time), I must admit, it’s a tough call. Each performance was unique and memorable in its own right—that’s the beauty of live music. However, here are my top three picks from the festival.

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TVD Live Shots:
Blue October with
Veers at the House
of Blues, 11/9

The House of Blues in Anaheim, a venue celebrated for its intimate atmosphere and eclectic musical lineup, was vibrant with excitement on Thursday night. The occasion? A rare, seated concert featuring one of alternative rock’s most cherished groups, Blue October. Accompanied by special guest Veers, this sold-out event highlighted the broad appeal of Justin Furstenfeld and his band, extending well beyond the confines of Southern California. The concert was an astounding experience on numerous fronts, leaving fans awestruck long after the final note had been played.

Veers, an emerging band, had the honor of being the opening act for Blue October on Thursday night. Their 40-minute performance was a perfect fusion of traditional and contemporary rock that pushed boundaries and exceeded expectations. Under the leadership of guitarist and lead vocalist Andrew James, Veers demonstrated their musical finesse with tracks from their maiden album, Universe Reversal. Despite their impressive performance, the stage lighting occasionally fell short, casting shadows over their stellar set. However, if you’re on the hunt for a new perspective on rock and roll, give Veers a listen—they could just be the next big thing.

As the star attraction of the night, Blue October was simply spectacular. Renowned for their deeply emotive lyrics and vibrant performances, they lived up to every expectation. Frontman Justin Furstenfeld exuded charisma on stage, forging a deep connection with the audience through his sincere performances of tracks such as “Into the Ocean” and “Hate Me.” Across the span of the 21-song set, Justin enriched the concert experience by sharing memorable moments from the tour and the stories behind his songs, adding an extra layer of intimacy to the performance for the enthralled, capacity crowd of nearly 2,000 attendees.

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TVD Live Shots: U2
at the Sphere, 11/2

In my lifetime, I’ve had the privilege of attending over 1,000 concerts, with nearly 20 of them being U2 performances spanning four decades. However, Wednesday night’s spectacle at Sphere Las Vegas may just have been the pinnacle of their shows, and arguably one of the most outstanding concerts I’ve witnessed in those 40 years. U2’s performance was magnificent, and when coupled with the groundbreaking technology of the Sphere, it elevated the concert experience to unprecedented heights. To label this concert as revolutionary might be an understatement. But then again, U2 has a history of exceeding expectations, and this concert was no exception.

Experiencing the Sphere for the first time was nothing short of awe-inspiring. Its grandeur and architectural design were immediately arresting upon entry. The distinctive nature of the building, coupled with the advanced technology it houses, was utterly captivating. As I walked with my wife and friends towards the VIP pit, I found myself astounded by the enormity of the 20,000 seat arena, its powerful sound system, and the extensive network of video panels that adorned almost every part of the building. And as a concert aficionado, I was like a kid in a candy store and ready for the festivities to begin.

After a killer dance party from Paulie the PSM (Atomic MC and DJ Host), it was time for the main attraction, U2. The ambiance was electric as Bono, Edge, Adam Clayton, and Bram van den Berg finally took the stage at the Sphere. The crowd buzzed with anticipation, knowing they were about to witness a legendary band in a truly extraordinary setting. The Sphere, with its state-of-the-art design and cutting-edge technology, added a mesmerizing dimension to the concert experience and one no one in attendance would forget.

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Rachael Sage,
The TVD Interview

In the ever-evolving landscape of the music industry, few artists possess the unyielding determination and artistic prowess that Rachael Sage embodies. Her multifaceted career has spanned over two decades, garnering critical acclaim and a fiercely dedicated fanbase.

As I sat down with this indomitable singer-songwriter, pianist, and producer, the underlying theme of our conversation became abundantly clear: the power of music to heal, uplift, and empower both the creator and the listener. From her introspective lyrics to her infectious melodies, we delved into the depths of Sage’s musical journey, discussing the inspiration behind her latest album, the role of vulnerability in her songwriting process, and her unwavering commitment to advocacy through music.

What inspired you to become a singer-songwriter?

I don’t think I chose to be a singer-songwriter; I think it chose me. I know it’s cliche, but in my case, it really is true. I started playing piano when I was less than three years old. My legs were dangling off the bench and they couldn’t tear me away. It was fascinating to my little developing mind how you could touch an object and out would come the most marvelous sounds. So, it was just very natural for me. And it was, in a lot of ways, my language, even ahead of reading and writing. So, it’s just always been there as a way to be expressive.

In terms of songs, I think it was sort of a natural evolution from playing instrumental music on the piano to recognizing that there were songs on the radio, there were songs on television, there were songs being played in a carpool in the car. And very quickly my brain keyed into that and I started making up my own songs, really by the time I was four or five. So yeah, I haven’t really looked back since. It’s just always been my way of expressing myself.

What artists have had the biggest influence on your music?

The most obvious group that springs to mind is The Beatles. I’m obviously not alone in them being my foremost influence as a songwriter. Musically, I was a ballet student from a very young age. I was in pre- ballet at two, three years old, running around just dancing to the music, and then eventually I became a very serious conservatory ballet student. And all of that classical music permeated my sensibility, so I found myself merging British pop and rock with classical influences by the time I was 12, 13 years old.

But also, I was just very immersed in pop music, and in all kinds of music—Top 40, Alternative. My sister was super edgy and kind of goth, so I got The Smiths and The Cure, but also pop artists like Howard Jones and Madonna. Everything really influenced me growing up because I was just a sponge for music in general. And I’ll just add that my favorite songwriter ever is Elvis Costello, and to this day I listen to his music on almost a daily basis.

How would you describe your music and style, and what sets you apart from other artists?

I think my music is a hybrid of impressionistic lyrics as well as storytelling. Some people might identify themselves as either or, but I think just like I am a painter—I’m also a visual artist and I dabble in more representational art and more contemporary, impressionistic, abstract art. I think I’ve always been drawn to abstraction and poetics in my lyric writing alongside storytelling and directness.

And it’s the balance and the juxtaposition of those elements in my music that really drives my quest to find that purposeful way of expressing what’s deeply in my soul and hopefully encouraging other people in their own various ways to do the same in their lives. So, my live shows are all about freedom and forging through fear and looking at issues in the world squarely, but also more ephemerally. I think it’s that balance that I’m always looking for, and maybe it comes from my immersion in ballet and classical music. But I think there are just infinite ways to express the human spirit, and that’s always what I’m trying to do.

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TVD Live Shots:
Avenged Sevenfold
with Atreyu at North Island Credit Union Amphitheatre, 10/26

The North Island Credit Union Amphitheatre in Chula Vista came alive on Thursday night as fans poured in from all over southern California for an unforgettable night with Avenged Sevenfold and Atreyu. This show was rescheduled from a last-minute cancellation earlier in the month (due to M. Shadows’ illness) and ended up being the final stop of their North American tour. The atmosphere was electric and charged with anticipation as the venue filled up for what many fans arguably believed was A7X’s most electric performance over the last few years. When all the dust finally settled after a stellar cover to cover performance, I agreed with their sentiment 110%. To date, this show sits atop the altar of rock as my favorite live performance in 2023, bar none.

On June 2, 2023, Avenged Sevenfold released their 8th Studio Album, Life Is But a Dream. From the moment it dropped, strong emotions began to swirl within the Deathbat community. Some absolutely loved the album, while others felt it was a complete disaster. After careful consideration (and countless spins on the record player), I can honestly say Life is But a Dream might be their best overall album in the band’s storied 20+ year history. To the naked eye, it is not what it seems initially, yet everything you would expect from a band that has always lived by a different set of rules—on their terms. And on Thursday night, A7X brought it to life for its legions of fans.

Atreyu, the first to hit the stage, immediately set the tone with their high-energy performance. Their song choices were a perfect blend of old favorites and new tracks, pleasing both long-time fans and newcomers. What immediately stood out in their 13-song set was how much fun this band had playing for its fans. Led by frontman Brandon Saller, Atreyu went scorched Earth, cranking out hit after hit including “Falling Down,” “Ex’s and Oh’s,” and “Warrior.” Dan Jacobs and Travis Miguel brought their signature sound on the guitar, while bassist Marc “Porter” McKnight and drummer Kyle Rosa kept the low end in fine form. My favorite moment came when McKnight leapt into the pit and lunged into the crowd during “Right Side of the Bed.” The fans’ faces were those of pure joy and set the stage for what was about to come, Avenged Sevenfold

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Adrian Vandenberg,
The TVD Interview

Guitar virtuoso Adrian Vandenberg has been a prominent figure in the world of rock music for decades, thanks to his signature sound and technical prowess on the six string.

Best known for his stint as one of the guitarists in Whitesnake during the late 1980s, Vandenberg has also made significant contributions to many other bands, including Manic Eden, Teaser, and his eponymous band Vandenberg. We recently spoke to Vandenberg to delve into the mind of this legendary musician to learn more about his inspirations, artistic vision, and upcoming projects.

Tell us about the new Vandenberg album Sin. What was the inspiration behind it, and what can fans who haven’t given it a spin expect from it?

Well, every time I make an album, I try to raise the bar just a little bit. This becomes harder over time and especially now because I was really happy with the 2020 album. So sometimes I get slightly intimidated. I go, “Oh man, I got to live up to this.” And then I just dive into the deep so to speak, get more confident and I go, okay—this is going somewhere.

Everything creates a kind of echo in my head, and it makes it really interesting for me to trace back where, what excited me, and what still excites me. And I always come back to the fact that it’s all about inspiration, but especially about expressiveness—rock or blues or any music that’s supposed to be played from the heart and from the soul.

When it doesn’t have that electric spark, especially in rock, then it becomes pop music. And that’s not the idea, because you don’t get that urge to play it in the car, open the window, and crank it all the way up. Whether it’s a great blues artist like Stevie Ray Vaughan, or whether it’s a great Zeppelin album, or a great Van Halen album. That’s what I’m looking for.

How does the current Vandenberg lineup differ from past versions of the band?

Well, in early Vandenberg, it was the same lineup for three albums. When I restarted Vandenberg under that particular name, it was because of the name recognition over so many years. Because of that, people know what to expect from a Vandenberg album and what it’s going to be about. With the current lineup, I was very fortunate to find these guys. The bass player, Randy van der Elsen, and the drummer, Koen Herfst, are from Holland and our singer, Mats Levén, is Scandinavian. They are all top level internationally and could play with any top American band.

How has your playing style evolved since the early days of Vandenberg to now?

I think as an artist, you should evolve. It always surprises me when sometimes people say, “Well, it doesn’t sound like a Vandenberg song from the early ’80s.” You go, “Man, that’s 40 years ago.” It would be very weird if you keep doing the same thing, ran on auto pilot, and keep recreating the sounds of yesterday. You should evolve.

And I’m very critical about my songwriting and about my guitar playing. And you mentioned the playing. Yes, this time I try to dig even deeper to squeeze every little drop of passion out of each and every note. I’m more into how I play things than what I play, even though, of course what I play has to do something with a song.

And in my case, I’m fortunate that I write the music because I know what I want to get across with a solo. It needs to be a little story inside the story. But it still needs to have everything to do with the story that you’re telling in the rest of the song.

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TVD Live Shots:
Falling In Reverse with Kim Dracula at North Island Credit Union Amphitheater, 10/7

On a muggy Saturday night, Falling In Reverse and Kim Dracula took the stage at the North Island Credit Union Amphitheater in Chula Vista for what turned out to be a thrilling show by all accounts. Little did fans know that Ronnie Radke and Company would actually be the de facto “headliner” that evening with Avenged Sevenfold cancelling their set last-minute due to illness. The show ended up being a perfect example of what drives fans to live music, with both Falling in Reverse and Kim Dracula delivering high-energy performances that had the crowd on their feet from start to finish. Sometimes one has to take proverbial lemons and make lemonade, and that is what both did in support of their A7X brethren.

Kim Dracula kicked things off with an electrifying set that showcased the band’s unique blend of punk rock and goth influences. Dracula’s vocals were particularly impressive, infusing each song with raw emotion while commanding the stage with a truly dynamic presence. Their musicianship was just insane with the drummer, bassist, and guitarist all providing a steady, driving rhythm that kept the audience engaged throughout their 9-song set. Songs like “Superhero” and “Killdozer” were among the highlights which ended with the raucous “Land of The Sun.”

Falling In Reverse wasted no time in ramping up the energy levels to an “11” with their explosive opening number, “Zombified.” Frontman Ronnie Radke proved why he is regarded as one of the most dynamic performers in the scene, commanding the stage with his impressive vocal range and dynamic stage presence. The band’s instrumental quality was also superb, with guitarists Max Georgiev and Christian Thompson firing on all cylinders. Bassist Tyler Burgess and drummer Luke Holland delivered blistering performances as well, complementing Radke’s vocals and stage antics perfectly.

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Josie Cotton:
The TVD Interview

PHOTO: RIO WARNER | In the vibrant and ever-evolving music scene of the 1980s, one name shone brightly amidst a sea of artists, Josie Cotton. With her audacious new wave sound and captivating stage presence, Cotton quickly became an icon of the era. From her popular hits like “Johnny Are You Queer?” and “He Could Be the One,” to her thoughtfully crafted albums that spanned genres, Josie Cotton left an indelible mark on the music industry.

But her influence extends far beyond her catchy tunes; it’s in her trademark style, her public persona, and the significant life events that have shaped her remarkable career. As we dive into the world of Josie Cotton, we uncover a musician who defies categorization, evokes nostalgia, and continues to captivate audiences with her timeless sound.

How did your journey in music begin, and what inspired you to become a singer?

When I was still living in Texas, I was just exploring different bands and writing songs. But I came to California to be in the music business, and once I finally arrived that happened fairly quickly. Even while moving from record label to record label, I ended up, ironically, getting signed because of a song I didn’t write—it was a demo that got me signed. So, that was just an odd way to begin a career.

When did you determine that you wanted to do this as a career?

Well, I really wasn’t planning on being a singer, per se. I was planning on being a songwriter, and so singing was something I did to let people hear the songs I wrote. That was when people seemed to notice my voice. The Paine brothers were one of the first to take notice shortly after I met them. They directed me away from the different styles of music I was experimenting with and asked me to focus on something which was familiar to me, girl groups. And coincidentally, they were working with the Go-Go’s at the time that I met them.

What are your earliest memories of performing on stage?

My stepfather was a ballet teacher, and he was grooming me to be a prima ballerina from the time I was three years old. He had been a famous dancer in Europe—dancing with Maria Tallchief and had run the Harkness Ballet in New York years later. So, my first memory on stage was when I was four years old. I was with a boy, and it was just us on stage with an orchestra. My stepfather would do these major productions with famous ballet dancers coming in from Europe, and so I ended up alone on the stage with a boy with this orchestra, and I just loved it. And the stage ended up being the only place I felt truly comfortable.

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TVD Live Shots: Yngwie Malmsteen, Glenn Hughes, Gilby Clarke, and Steve Ramone at the House of Blues, 9/11

A night of unforgettable rock music unfolded at the House of Blues in Anaheim on September 11, 2023. The renowned venue played host to guitar virtuoso Yngwie Malmsteen, bass maestro Glenn Hughes, Guns N’ Roses alumnus Gilby Clarke, and the emerging talent Steve Ramone in a concert that was nothing short of electrifying. Pound for pound, this was one of the best classic rock shows I have seen in years and it isn’t event close!

Opening the night was Steve Ramone, a Chicago South Sider, whose raw energy and distinctive sound set the tone for the evening. His punk-infused rock tracks were an instant hit with the crowd, who responded enthusiastically to his dynamic performance. What I enjoyed about this set was the fun all of these cats were having on stage, especially Steve and special guest Chip Z’Nuff. I’m looking forward to the ascent of this killer band in the not-so-distant future.

Gilby Clarke took the stage next, bringing his signature blend of hard rock and blues to the House of Blues. His 14-song set was a lesson in rock ‘n’ roll history, with covers of classics interspersed with some of his original work. A standout moment for the Gilby Clarke faithful was his soulful rendition of Bob Dylyn’s “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” which had the crowd singing along from the very first note. For me, I loved his final song, “Tijuana Jail.” It was shear perfection and a perfect segue for Glenn Hughes.

Glenn Hughes, known for his work with Deep Purple, brought a hefty dose of classic rock to the night. His powerful vocals, coupled with his exceptional bass-playing skills, were truly a sight to behold. His interaction with the crowd was genuine and heartfelt, making for a memorable set. While Hughes only played 8-songs, it was a masterclass of early Deep Purple with standouts like “Stormbringer,” “Mistreated,” and “Burn.” Best in class for me was “Highway Star,” one of my all-time favorites. I can honestly say no one—and I mean no one—has a voice like Glenn. At 72 years young, he still sings like it’s 1972—and that’s no exaggeration. Amazing.

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TVD Live Shots: Godsmack, Staind,
Mix Master Mike, and Flat Black at FivePoint Amphitheatre, 8/24

A wave of nostalgia swept over FivePoint Amphitheatre in Irvine, California as Godsmack, Staind, Mix Master Mike, and Flat Black took to the stage on August 24th. The bands delivered a high-energy performance that transported the audience back in time, reminding them why they fell in love with these artists in the first place. This show had something for everyone regardless of their musical proclivities and satisfied the inner demon in all who attended.

On a muggy afternoon, Flat Black opened the show, setting the bar high with their raw energy and infectious sound. Led by former Five Finger Death Punch guitar god Jason Hook, their gritty riffs and powerful drumming captivated the audience from the get-go. Their interaction with the crowd was commendable, a testament to their charismatic stage presence and love for the music they play. Looking forward to seeing more of this up and coming cyclone in the months ahead.

The atmosphere was reaching a fever pitch as Mix Master Mike, known for his work with the Beastie Boys, took to the stage. His set was a whirlwind of beats and rhythms, his skills as a DJ on full display. He added a unique element to the night, his set serving as an energetic bridge between bands that tugged on the nostalgic heartstrings of all in attendance. You could tell Mike was vibing with the near-capacity crowd and having the time of his life here in Irvine.

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TVD Live: Mudvayne, Coal Chamber, Gwar, Nonpoint, and Butcher Babies at FivePoint Amphitheatre, 8/17

FivePoint Amphitheatre was ablaze with energy as five of rock’s heavy hitters—Mudvayne, Coal Chamber, Gwar, Nonpoint, and Butcher Babies—descended upon the venue for a night that promised to be nothing short of sheer insanity. The anticipation for the night’s festivities was palpable, the crowd buzzing with excitement, and was ready to be engulfed in a wave of high-decibel metal mayhem that was sure to please even the most discerning of fans in attendance. Welcome to the 2023 Psychotherapy Sessions.

The evening kicked off with Butcher Babies, who set the tone for the night with their relentless energy and raw power. Carla Harvey and Heidi Shepherd’s ferocious vocals resonated throughout the venue, while Henry Flury’s blistering guitar riffs and Chase Brickenden’s thunderous drumming elevated the performance to new heights. “Best Friend” and “Magnolia Blvd.” were two of my favorites and a definite highlight of their set, leaving the ever-growing crowd cheering for more.

Next up was Nonpoint, who brought their distinctive fusion of nu metal and alternative rock to the stage. This band has always been one of my favorites and didn’t disappoint on this steamy Friday night. Frontman Elias Soriano commanded the stage with his charismatic presence, while the band’s tight musicianship was on full display throughout their 8-song set. Their performance of “What a Day, “Chaos and Earthquakes,” and “Bullet With A Name” was particularly memorable to longtime fans. My only gripe with this set was that it was not long enough. I’m looking forward to seeing Nonpoint back in California in the not-too-distant future.

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TVD Live Shots:
Danny Elfman with Boy Harsher at Five Point Amphitheater, 8/5

On Saturday night at Five Point Amphitheater, music lovers were treated to a truly enchanting experience. The air was charged with anticipation as the crowd gathered, eagerly awaiting the arrival of two extraordinary acts: Boy Harsher and the legendary Danny Elfman. With a captivating blend of musical prowess and enthralling stage presence, these artists took the stage by storm, creating an atmosphere that was nothing short of magical, and a show the audience would not soon forget.

Kicking off the evening was the mesmerizing electronic duo known as Boy Harsher. Their dark synth-pop sound immediately captivated the audience, setting the tone for an evening of sonic exploration. The atmospheric melodies and haunting vocals of Jae Matthews combined with the pulsating beats from Augustus Muller created an immersive experience that left the crowd in awe. Tracks like “Fate” and “Modulations” transported listeners into a world of introspection and raw emotion, showcasing the duo’s ability to create a deeply atmospheric sonic landscape.

As the anticipation mounted, the stage transformed into a mystical wonderland, adorned with intricate set pieces, vibrant lights, and a full orchestra led by none other than the legendary Steve Bartek. And then, the moment arrived. Danny Elfman, the visionary composer and mastermind behind Oingo Boingo and countless iconic film scores, took his place center stage and the near-capacity crowd went wild. The energy in the amphitheater was palpable as Elfman launched into a career-spanning 33-song set that showcased not only his unparalleled musical talent but also his magnetic stage presence.

Elfman’s performance on Saturday was a journey through his vast discography, taking the audience on a nostalgic ride through beloved Boingo classics, theatrical compositions, as well as lesser-known gems. From the hauntingly beautiful “Dance With the Lemurs” to the exhilarating “The Simpsons” theme, each composition came to life with a renewed vibrancy that resonated with both long-time fans and newcomers alike. The crowd erupted in cheers as Elfman belted out the iconic lyrics to “Insanity,” a moment that was met with an electrifying wave of enthusiasm from the crowd as well as his amazing musical ensemble.

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TVD Live Shots:
Dream Theater, Devin Townsend, and Animals As Leaders at YouTube Theater, 7/25

The Dreamsonic 2023 Tour, featuring Dream Theater, Devin Townsend, and Animals As Leaders, promised an unforgettable night of progressive metal mastery—and boy did it deliver. As the sun began to fall over Los Angeles on June 25th, the YouTube stage lit up with a spectacular display of technical prowess, musical innovation, and raw energy that was truly second to none. This group of musical virtuosos left the near-capacity audience in complete awe from the very first note to final curtain call. What a night of progressive music in the City of Angels.

Opening the evening was Animals As Leaders, a band that has carved out a unique niche in the progressive metal landscape with their all-instrumental approach. Their performance was a testament to their technical skill and musical innovation, with Tosin Abasi’s eight-string guitar work being a particular highlight. While lighting was challenging, their 9-song set shone with tracks “Ectogenesis,” The Brain Dance,” and my favorite “The Woven Web.” Looking forward to seeing Animals As Leaders again in the not-so-distant future.

Next up was the amazing Devin Townsend, and he provided a perfect counterpoint to Dream Theater’s polished precision. Known for his eclectic style and boundless energy, Townsend delivered a performance that was both wild and captivating. His set was a rollercoaster ride of emotions, ranging from the frenetic intensity of “Kingdom” to the haunting beauty of “Deadhead.” Throughout the set, one felt the raw emotion flowing from Devin to his fans and then immediately back to him. It was like a two-way radio that was super tuned for progressive mastery. An unbelievable set.

Headlining the tour, Dream Theater, fresh from their 2022 Grammy win for Best Metal Performance, proved once again why they are considered titans of the progressive metal scene. The band opened their set with “The Alien,” the Grammy-winning track from their latest album, A View From the Top of the World. The song’s complex rhythms and soaring melodies set the tone for the evening, showcasing the band’s unparalleled musicianship and creativity.

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TVD Live Shots: Disturbed, Breaking Benjamin, and Jinjer
at FivePoint Amphitheatre, 7/20

From the moment the lights dimmed and the first chords reverberated through the speakers, it was clear that this was not just a concert. It was a summoning of the rock gods, a gathering of the faithful, a celebration of music that has been the soundtrack to countless lives. The air was electric with anticipation as Disturbed, Breaking Benjamin, and Jinjer took to the stage at the FivePoint Amphitheatre. The Take Back Your Life Tour was a night that promised to be etched in the annals of rock history. When the dust finally settled, it ended up being that and a whole lot more.

Opening for the night under a blistering Southern California sun was Jinjer, a Ukrainian metal band that has been making huge waves. Their performance on Thursday was a testament to their talent and versatility. Lead vocalist Tatiana Shmailyuk showcased her impressive range, effortlessly alternating between guttural growls and melodic singing. The band’s fusion of progressive metal, rock, and punk elements resulted in a unique sound that was both refreshing and captivating. Favorites from the abbreviated set included “Vortex, Copycat” and “As I Boil Ice.” Simply put, Jinjer’s set (albeit short) was truly amazing.

Breaking Benjamin was up next and no less impressive. They ignited the crowd with their explosive energy and raw emotion. Their setlist was a perfect blend of new tracks and fan favorites, each song executed with flawless musicianship. Frontman Benjamin Burnley’s emotive vocals paired with the band’s dynamic sound created an atmosphere that was both intimate and grandiose. Highlights from their 13-song set included a stirring performance of “The Diary of Jane” and an epic rendition of “I Will Not Bow,” which had the audience singing along in unison. One killer takeaway from this set was watching Burnley’s young son rip it on guitar throughout the show. He was a natural in front of the crowd and an obvious chip off the old Burnley block for sure.

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TVD Live Shots: Fall
Out Boy with Bring Me The Horizon, New Found Glory, and Royal and
The Serpent at BMO Stadium, 7/2

Sunday’s sold-out So Much for (Tour) Dust concert featuring Fall Out Boy, Bring Me The Horizon, New Found Glory, and Royal and The Serpent at the BMO Stadium in Los Angeles was nothing short of spectacular. With an impressive line-up of talented bands and one electric atmosphere, this mega-concert was a treat for fans of the rock genre here in the City of Angels.

The opening act, Royal and The Serpent, set the tone for the night with their high-energy performance. Their incredible stage presence and catchy tunes had the audience on their feet and dancing along. Lead singer Ryan Santiago’s theatrical performance was particularly impressive, drawing comparisons to legendary performer Freddie Mercury in many unique ways—a super fun band and I’m excited to see where they go from here.

Next up was New Found Glory, a band that has been in the music scene since the late ’90s. Their set took the crowd on a nostalgic trip down memory lane, playing some of their greatest hits like “All Downhill From Here” and “My Friends Over You.” The band’s energy and enthusiasm were infectious, and the audience sang along to every word. One of my favorites from their set was a Go West cover, “King of Wishful Thinking.” Brilliant.

The third band to take the stage was Bring Me The Horizon, who brought a heavier sound to the show. The band’s dynamic performance, led by frontman Oliver Sykes, was electrifying. Their setlist included a mix of old and new songs, with hits like “Teardrops,” “Drown,” and “Throne,” getting the crowd jumping and singing along throughout their jam-packed 11-song set. At one point during the show, Sykes leapt off the stage and made his way back to the far reaches of the Stadium with fans in hot pursuit. BMTH loves their fans, and this gesture by Oli highlights that in spades!

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