Author Archives: Matthew Belter

TVD Live Shots: Slipknot, Cypress Hill, and Ho99o9 at North Island Credit Union Amphitheatre, 6/18

If you’re a fan of metal and hip-hop, then you didn’t want to miss the final leg of the Knotfest Roadshow featuring Slipknot with Cypress Hill and Ho99o9. It was a night of non-stop energy and power, with each band putting on an amazing performance. The crowd was amped from the start, and it only got louder and crazier as the night went on. If you missed it, don’t worry—we’ve got all the highlights for you right here. 

If you haven’t had a chance to catch Slipknot at one of their Roadshows, you’d be missing out on one of the best live bands on the planet today. And when they join forces with bands like the legendary Cypress Hill and up and comers Ho99o9, the show immediately jumps to a whole new level and typically sells out at every stop on the tour. Saturday’s show in Chula Vista was no exception and capped off the Knotfest Roadshow’s incredible Spring run across the US.  Let’s dig into the madness.

Kicking off the Roadshow festivities on Saturday were New Jersey Transplants Ho99o9 (pronounced Horror).  Featuring TheOGM, Eaddy, and touring drummer extraordinaire Billy Rymer, these cats brought their unique brand of punkrap to the stage and got the general admission pit fired up for what was about to come. I must say, I’d never heard Ho99o9 until then, but was thoroughly impressed with their energetic 11-song set including tracks like “Sub-Zer0” and “Battery Not Included.” It was a super intense performance left the crowd wanting more, and I have no doubt Ho99o9 will be going places in the not so distant future.

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TVD Live Shots: New Kids on the Block with Rick Astley, Salt-N-Pepa, and En Vogue at the Honda Center, 5/28

The New Kids on the Block Mixtape Tour 2022 was simply incredible. The energy and excitement in the air was palpable from the moment the boys hit the stage and they never looked back. They sang, danced, and interacted with fans in a way that left everyone feeling like they were part of something special. And if that wasn’t enough, NKOTB “mixed in sets from some of the greatest artists of our youth including Rick Astley, Salt-N-Pepa, and En Vogue. If you get a chance to see this one live, don’t miss it.  

Saturday’s NKOTB Mixtape show in Anaheim was special. Their sold-out show at the Honda Center wasn’t just a nostalgia infused money grab as many might have believed. Instead, it was a carefully curated performance that appealed to the masses.  On top of the singing and dancing one might expect from a show like this, there was confetti cannons, fire, big screens, and a secondary stage right in the middle of the arena that offered a unique perspective to the thousands in attendance.  Whether you were a “Block Head” in the ’90s, or are now a child of one, there was something for everyone.

One of the things I liked most about this show was its unique “Mixtape” format. While traditional concerts typically move from opener to opener to headliner, this structure broke all of the norms and then some.  Right out of the gate, it was New Kids on the Block immediately taking the stage with 7 back-to-back songs that whipped the Anaheim crowd into an immediate frenzy. Then just when you needed to come up for some much-needed air, En Vogue quickly took the stage and dropped two fire tracks on the crowd. The 3-hour show was a nonstop ’80s and ’90s house party with rotating sets between NKOTB, Salt -N-Pepa, Rick Astley, and En Vogue all night long. It was truly a “Mixtape” for the masses.

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TVD Live Shots: BeachLife Festival, 5/15

PHOTOS: GREG VITALICH | BeachLife is quietly becoming one of the premier music festivals in the US. With nearly 40,000 turning out, attendees could not have asked for more over a picture perfect 3-day weekend in beautiful Redondo Beach. Fans from all over the world rocked out to over 55 bands across four unique stages featuring some of the best live music on the planet today. Whether you were into classic rock, alternative, or reggae, there was something for everybody at this year’s festival.

Sunday was the final day of BeachLife 2022, and the mission was to explore some of the incredible non-for-profit organizations that supported the festival this year. As one walked around the event, it was clear that many in attendance were there to do good and share their causes with the BeachLife faithful. Organizations such as The Wyland Foundation, Heal the Bay, and Life Rolls On were on hand and available for fans to learn more about their good works. In addition, there were a number of auctions where festival attendees could bid on BeachLife themed merchandise including signed surfboards, music memorabilia, and one-of-a-kind items donated by local sponsors.

From a musical perspective, the Steve Miller Band took the pole position on Sunday and was the perfect act to end BeachLife this year. This dude has been taking names and melting faces since 1962 and didn’t disappoint on one of the busiest days of the festival. Classics such as “Fly Like an Eagle, “Jet Airliner,” and “Abracadabra” were as crisp as ever while encore “Rock’n Me” was a fitting conclusion to a set for the ages. In addition, chart-toppers like Sheryl Crow and Lord Huron wowed the capacity crowd with amazing heartfelt performances. Special recognition goes out to Ozomatli, ALO, and UB40 (featuring Ali Campbell) for their brilliant Sunday performances.

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TVD Live Shots: BeachLife Festival, 5/14

BeachLife is quietly becoming one of the premier music festivals in the US. With nearly 40,000 turning out, attendees could not have asked for more over a picture perfect 3-day weekend in beautiful Redondo Beach. Fans from all over the world rocked out to over 55 bands across four unique stages featuring some of the best live music on the planet today. Whether you were into classic rock, alternative, or reggae, there was something for everybody at this year’s festival.

Saturday’s mission was to explore some of the killer concessions BeachLife had to offer in 2022. Upon entering the festival, fans were immediately exposed to tons of killer food and drink options curated to satisfy even the pickiest foodies. I personally dug the Rock & Brews popup adjacent to the Riptide stage, while others I spoke with enjoyed all of the tasty treats found throughout concession alley. I unfortunately succumbed to the Spicy Pie stand on multiple occasions as this pizza was sheer unadulterated pleasure. Regardless of proclivity, food and drink choices were abundant and free flowing all day long!

From a musical perspective, Smashing Pumpkins had the distinct pleasure of headlining BeachLife on Saturday. It was no surprise to the thousands crowding the Hightide stage how amazing their performance truly was (and one that won’t soon be forgotten). Classics such as “Today,” an acoustic version of “Tonight, Tonight,” and “1979” rocked Redondo Beach and the Smashing Pumpkins faithful to their core. In addition, best-in-class acts like Vance Joy and Stone Temple Pilots set fire to their respective setlists and left the capacity crowd wanting more. Special recognition goes out to Michael Franti & Spearhead, Matisyahu, and Donavon Frankenreiter for their unbelievable Day 2 performances.

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TVD Live Shots: BeachLife Festival, 5/13

BeachLife is quietly becoming one of the premier music festivals in the US. With nearly 40,000 turning out, attendees could not have asked for more over a picture perfect, 3-day weekend in beautiful Redondo Beach. Fans from all over the world rocked out to over 55 bands across four unique stages featuring some of the best live music on the planet today. Whether you were into classic rock, alternative, or reggae, there was something for everybody at this year’s festival.

My initial mission on Friday was to get a lay of the land and better understand some of the improvements BeachLife had implemented since last year’s festivities. Right out of the gate, it was clear that concertgoers encountered a much-improved check-in process where fans experienced few (if any) lines heading into the festival grounds. And if check-in efficiency wasn’t enough, attendees probably noticed a few general layout changes that allowed fans to move about the festival effortlessly throughout the day. For me, moving from stage to concessions to restrooms and then back to the action was as simple as I’d ever seen it at a festival (and I’ve been to many).

From a musical perspective, Weezer and 311 co-headlined BeachLife on Friday. These are some of the ’90s finest, and by the reaction of the capacity crowd at both the Hightide and Lowtide Stages, delivered in fine fashion. Weezer ripped classics like “Hash Pipe,” “Undone – The Sweater Song,” and “Say It Ain’t So,” while 311 tore up standards like “Beautiful Disaster,” “Transistor,” and “Down.” In addition, The Black Pumas and Cold War Kids crushed their respective sets with contrasting sounds and styles that clearly illustrate why BeachLife is such an awesome music festival. Special recognition goes out to DREAMERS, Hoist the Colors, and The Aggrolites for their incredible Day 1 performances.

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TVD Live Shots: Black Label Society with Nita Strauss and Jared James Nichols at the House of Blues, 4/30

Zakk Wylde and Black Label Society proved last night (4/30) why they are one of the most incredible rock and roll bands around. Their performance was a non-stop barrage of energy, audience interaction, and guitar solos that had the House of Blues rocking all night long. 

Saturday evening’s Black Label Society show was near flawless. With incredible opening sets from guitar virtuosos Nita Strauss and Jared James Nichols, the show elevated to a whole new level in front of a near capacity crowd at the legendary venue in San Diego. The evening was 100% pure unadulterated madness from beginning to end with no let down whatsoever. Let’s dig in, shall we?

First up was blues guitarist extraordinaire, Jared James Nichols. Equipped with his signature Les Paul, he slayed his 30-minute opening set in fine fashion. This cat’s energy was off the charts as demonstrated by hits such as “Bad Roots,” “Saint or Fool,” and “Shadow Dancer.” My favorite of the evening was Jared’s final song of the night, Mountain’s “Mississippi Queen.” And if that isn’t blues infused rock and roll at its finest, I don’t know what is.

Next to take the stage was Nita Strauss. Some may remember Nita from her early years in The Iron Maidens (an an-all female tribute to Iron Maiden) while others may have recently caught her on tour with Alice Cooper. Regardless of where you first experienced her guitar playing, one would probably agree that Strauss is one of the most electrifying guitarists on the planet today. I watched in awe as she put on a clinic for the thousands in attendance with songs such as “Summer Storm,” “The Show Must Go On” (a Queen cover), and “Our Most Desperate Hour.” Saturday’s performance was genius.

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TVD Live Shots: Tech N9ne with X-Raided, ¡Mayday!, and Joey Cool at Soma, 4/15

Rap shows are always a great time. You have the music, the energy, and the excitement all in one place. But when you add Tech N9ne to the mix, it takes it to a whole new level and then multiplies that by 10. His recent performance at Soma in San Diego was outstanding and one of the best complete shows (regardless of genres) I have seen in years. If you get a chance to see Tech N9ne on his 2022 ASIN9NE Tour, don’t miss it—it’s guaranteed to be a show that you won’t forget for a very long time.

I don’t know about you, but I love live music. Whether it be a huge arena show or an intimate warehouse one-off, there is something about raw musical performances that fire me up. Friday’s show at Soma was no different for me, aside from the fact that one of my favorite artists of all time was taking the stage. I’ve had the privilege of covering Tech N9ne many times over the years, and the one thing I can say about his performances are they are consistently solid on all levels.  This includes sound quality, show production, and the best-in-class support acts he brings out on tour.

Opening up for Tech N9ne at Soma were three outstanding acts:  X-Raided, ¡Mayday!, and Joey Cool.  While each set was only 30 minutes in length, fans were not shortchanged by any means as each artist brought their own swagger to the stage in their own special way. Joey Cool’s rhymes were smooth and electrifying, ¡Mayday! (including Bernz, Wrekonize, and NonMS) brought the Miami heat, and X-Raided added a healthy dose of reality to the Strange Music bill. While many opening acts fall flat in anticipation of the main attraction, these cats were collectively on a higher level. I could see each headlining their own shows based on the sheer talent they exhibited on Friday night.

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TVD Live Shots: Beartooth, Silverstein, The Devil Wears Prada, and Erra at the House of Blues, 4/5

Beartooth’s recent show at the House of Blues was simply unbelievable. The energy that the band brought to the stage was electric and set the tone for one incredible performance. Playing songs from all four of their studio albums, Caleb Shomo and crew had the entire audience headbanging and crowd surfing throughout the night. It was a truly unmatched experience, and one that fans won’t want to miss out on.

If you somehow did a double take when Beartooth announced it would once again be rolling through Anaheim for a 2-night residency at the House of Blues, you were not alone. Billed as The Below Tour – Part 2, Caleb Shomo and Company pulled out all the stops for its Southern California fans with an incredible performance which included a superb setlist, phenomenal stage show, and some truly special guests to open the evening that were icing to an already tasty cake. Let’s dig into all the juicy goodness, shall we?

Opening up for Beartooth on Tuesday were none other than the legendary Silverstein, metalcore masters, The Devil Wears Prada, and one of my favorite up and coming bands, Erra. Each of these bands played abbreviated sets but used their time wisely in front of a nearly packed house to highlight what makes each so special. What I liked about the openers was that each one built upon the previous band’s energy, creating an electricity that flowed throughout the crowd all night long. Mosh-pits and crowd surfing were standard fare throughout these performances, and it was awesome to see fans having so much fun for what many considered their first night out, post-covid.

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TVD Live Shots: Journey with Toto at the Honda Center, 4/4

If you love Journey, then you were probably at the Honda Center on Monday night for their epic show with Toto. It was one of the venue’s most highly anticipated concerts in recent memory, and I’m here to tell you that it didn’t disappoint. They had the entire arena rocking from start to finish. If you missed out, don’t worry—I’ve got all the details for you below.

I don’t know about you, but I love ’80s arena rock. There is something about it that, if done right, takes the live music experience to a whole new level. Maybe it’s the killer stage shows, the capacity crowds, or perhaps one’s overall familiarity with the music. Regardless of reason, Monday’s twin bill with Journey and Toto was just what the Doctor ordered and crushed on all levels. It’s as if someone lured fans into a massive time-machine and dropped them collectively into the Fabulous Forum in Los Angeles circa 1986.

Opening Monday’s show was the legendary Toto. Most know the band for their massive hits such as “Africa” and “Rosanna.” However, dig a little deeper into their catalog and most rock fans would surely be familiar with other classics such as “I Won’t Hold You Back,” “Georgy Porgy,” and my favorite “Hold the Line.” Steve Lukather, Joseph Williams, and company crushed a 10-song set that sonically was incredible from start to finish. I’d really like to see Toto headlining their own tour in the not-so-distant future as their music is timeless and their catalog one of a kind.

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TVD Live Shots: Pixies with The Clockworks at the House of Blues, 3/16

While we were away.Ed.

Fans, concertgoers, and music lovers of all kinds were treated to a spectacular show by the iconic band at a sold-out performance Wednesday night, 3/16. The Pixies’ setlist spanned their entire career and highlighted why they have withstood the test of time. From classics like “Bone Machine” to newer tracks like “All the Saints,” the Pixies put on an unforgettable show. If you weren’t able to make it to the House of Blues in Anaheim, don’t worry—we’ve got you covered.

I don’t know about you, but I’m a huge Pixies fan. Their indie/punk sound resonated with me during my formidable years and still, to this day, they continue to hold a special place in my heart. When it was announced they would be kicking off their world tour with a small set of warm up shows—one being here in Southern California—I knew I had to go. It would be my first live Pixies show, and I was fired up to be front and center to catch this legendary group in all their glory.

Kicking off the evening was a killer band out of Ireland known as The Clockworks. This four-piece ensemble has taken the European post-punk music scene by storm and are making a name for themselves here in the US through raw, engaging music that immediately translates into highly energetic live performances. They come across as very unassuming when they take the stage, yet immediately transform into high-octane rockers that bring it from the very first note to their final bow onstage. And if you don’t believe me, take a quick listen to “Endgame,” “The Future is Not What It Was,” and “Fingers” on your favorite streaming service. I think you’ll immediately find that The Clockworks are the real deal and worthy of the high praise they are beginning to experience.

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TVD Live Shots: Sevendust with Tetrarch and Dead Poet Society at the House of Blues, 3/15

While we were away.Ed.

As soon as the lights went down, the packed Anaheim House of Blues started chanting “SE-VEN-DUST!” in anticipation of one of Atlanta’s most successful hard rock bands taking the stage. The band did not disappoint, opening with “T.O.A.B.” and continuing to rock the near capacity crowd all night long. Sevendust proved why they’ve been around for over two decades—the energy was palpable from start to finish as singer Lajon Witherspoon urged the crowd to get louder and guitarist Clint Lowery inciting moshing and headbanging. 

Sevendust ripped off a blistering 16-song set on Tuesday night (3/15) that included 2001’s critically acclaimed Animosity in its entirety. Their inspired performance was just what the doctor ordered and allowed—if, just for a few fleeting moments, fans from all walks of life were to feel human again in spite of all the tension the world faces today. And who doesn’t want to feel good after a good old-fashioned rock and roll show? Let’s dig into the evening’s festivities.

Opening for Sevendust on Tuesday evening was Dead Poet Society and Tetrarch. Dead Poet Society took the stage first as legions of Sevendust fans were initially flowing into the House of Blues. While the opening of their performance seemed a bit docile, the energy from their set increased 10-fold as the floor began to fill in. These guys fed off the crowd’s energy and the last few songs of their performance were excoriating. You could tell fans were into it, and Dead Poet Society reacted in kind. Overall, a solid set from DPS and I’m looking forward to digging into their latest release sooner than later.

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TVD Live Shots: Ghost, Volbeat, and Twin Temple at the Honda Center, 3/3

If one had any questions about Ghost and Volbeat’s rapid ascent to rock super-stardom, those doubts were quickly extinguished on Thursday night in front of a full house at the Honda Center in Anaheim. From start to finish, this show was jam packed with all the prerequisites necessary for a top-notch metal performance including a Superbowl worthy stage show, ridiculously talented bands, and of course a crowd of rabid fans ready to party all-night long. 

I circled this concert on my calendar when the co-headlining tour with Ghost and Volbeat was announced (and for some reason that seemed like a lifetime ago). Many probably thought (as I did) that the show might not actually go off due to continued covid cancellations throughout the music industry. Fortunately for me, as well as the thousands of loyal fans who purchased tickets, the show did go on. For nearly 4 full hours, the masses gathered from all over Southern California to rock out to three of their favorite bands and ended up being one incredible night of pure metal mayhem.

Kicking off the evening’s festivities was Twin Temple, an up-and-coming band from Los Angeles. Led by Alexandra and Zachary James, this “Satanic Doo-Wop” group had the distinct pleasure of firing up the crowd in Anaheim and did so in fine fashion. They only played six songs, but man were they killer. Crowd favorites from the evening were “Sex Magick” and “Satan’s a Woman,” although I gravitated towards the cult-classic, “Let’s Have a Satanic Orgy.” Overall, Twin Temple’s set was a cool departure from the same-old-same-old and provided fans a much-needed change in scenery in the crazy times we live. “Hail Twin Temple, Hail Satan!”

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TVD Live Shots: Dirty Honey, Mammoth WVH, and S8nt Elektric at the House of Blues, 3/1

Billed simply as the “Young Guns” tour, Dirty Honey and Mammoth WVH unleashed an onslaught of fresh new music to a capacity crowd in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter. It was if someone flipped a switch and miraculously transported the audience back to pre-pandemic times when all that mattered was the music. With fans from all over the southland in attendance, these two breakout bands blew the lid off the House of Blues on Tuesday night, signaling the return of live music and their own rapid ascent.

The Dirty Honey / Mammoth WVH show at the House of Blues was extraordinary. For many in attendance, it was the rebirth of rock and roll in a world that has unfortunately fell victim to a “one size fits all” cookie cutter approach to music. The “Young Guns” tour is so much more—it’ss a resurgence of a musical genre that forever holds a special place in my heart. Let’s dig in.

Opening up the show was a fresh new band out of Los Angeles called S8nt Elektric. With few expectations out of the gate, I wanted to see what these cats were all about as I had heard some very positive things about their sound and live performances. That said, I gave their set a whirl and walked away pleasantly surprised. They have an incredible stage presence, and seemed super-comfortable under the bright lights. I can’t wait to see where Briana, Niko, Eric, Jack, and London take their musical journey in the months and years to come. I really believe they’re gonna be special.

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TVD Live Shots: Slash featuring Myles Kennedy & The Conspirators at YouTube Theater, 2/18

For all those who believe rock n’ roll is on life support, think again. Slash along with Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators crushed a 2-hour guitar-laden set that left fans screaming for more when the dust settled in Inglewood on Friday night. It was a truly epic show that pushed the boundaries of previous tours with a 21-song setlist that dug deep into the vault and then some. If you weren’t at YouTube on Friday night, you probably missed out on what many considered to be one of SMKC’s finest live performances in recent history.

Kicking off the festivities was an LA-based band known as Dead Sara, and they let it all hang out for the 30+ minutes they had on stage. Emily Armstrong’s vocals reminded me Courtney Love or Shirley Manson, and the band’s overall sound was a throwback to classic ’80s punk of yesteryear—very cool to say the least. My favorite tracks of their 7-song set were “Lights Out!” and “Gimme Gimme.” My only wish for this performance would have been to have better lighting to showcase their killer stage antics. Outside of that, it was a fun performance and I look forward to digging into their catalog further down the road.

Now on to SMKC. It’s been a while since I have seen these guys (or any of their other associated bands) live on stage. After prolonged Covid downtime, I was wondering if we were going to get the “early tour” show (where everyone works out the kinks) or a kick-ass rock and roll show (where the band leaves no doubt they are the “real deal”). No surprise here—Slash, Myles Kennedy, Todd Kerns, Brent Fitz, and Frank Sidoris literally torched the YouTube Theater with a killer performance that left permanent smiles on the thousands of fans in attendance on Friday evening.

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TVD Live Shots: Cali Vibes Festival, 2/6

The Marina Green was the place to be for 3 days of great food, fun, and friendship. Cali Vibes picked up where One Love left off back in 2020, bringing their expertly curated lineup that included reggae, rappers, and rockers alike. The best part? You don’t have just one option when it comes down entertainment or accommodations; there are plenty available like “The VIP Lounge” (for those who want some exclusive access) along with Beach Club, which offers fantastic views while still being close enough so you can enjoy all aspects of the festival without having too far walk from the action.

The festival was a huge hit with fans from all over the world. With more than 75,000 people attending this year’s event and enjoying what turned out to be picture perfect weather here in LBC (Let me show you), it looks like Cali Vibes is on track for becoming the premier Reggae Festival in the US very soon. And based upon how incredibly received its reception has been thus far—especially by those who have traveled long distances, that honor may come sooner than later.

On the final day of Cali Vibes, I headed over to the merchandise area to see what mischief I might be able to get myself into. Mercy. Upon arrival, I was overwhelmed with all sorts of goodies from the majority of artists performing over the 3-day weekend. In addition, Cali Vibes had some killer goods to memorialize the festival in the form of hats, shirts, sweatshirts, (you get the drift). Amazingly good quality and reasonable prices left me wanting to by one of everything. But restraint won me over and I left with one killer shirt.

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  • SUPPORTING YOUR LOCAL INDIE SHOPS SINCE 2007


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