Author Archives: Special to TVD

TVD Live Shots: Tool with Elder at Arena, 2/15

WORDS & IMAGES: CHRIS LOOMIS | Progressive metal juggernauts, Tool made a triumphant return to their home base in Los Angeles for back-to-back nights at Arena (formerly Staples Center). The band delivered a 2-hour masterpiece each night with the Tool Army packing the world-famous venue from the floor to the rafters.

For those who don’t know, a live Tool show is a sonic experience not soon to be forgotten including cutting edge music coupled with an incredible visual journey taking fans through each song in its entirety (via large video screens and killer laser arrays). Band members have little to no stage lights directly on them, allowing the fans to fully absorb the visuals and sound without focusing on the band members themselves, resulting in the ultimate band encounter that is truly second to none.

Tool is out on the road once again supporting their critically acclaimed fifth full length studio album Fear Inoculum, released back in August 2019, with this run most likely being the last in this touring cycle. Opening the show were Massachusetts based progressive/psychedelic rockers Elder. They dropped a killer 30-minute set that gave Los Angeles a sonic-boom of musical soundscapes. These guys are super tight and should definitely be checked out—a perfect fit to open a Tool show.

After a brief intermission, it was on to the main attraction, Tool. Continuing to open the show with the title track “Fear Inoculum,” the band took the stage and the song’s slow haunting beginning eased the crowd into the show as the song builds into an intense, pounding rocker as Maynard James Keenan was his ever-elusive self, prowling the riser behind the stage, belting out his vocals—sporting a blonde mohawk and blacked out eyes—sounding magnificent. At the end of the first song Keenan reminded the fans about putting their phones away for 2-hours and stay in the moment and to be connected with the live experience. Most fans complied with the request, and it was certainly a nice change to see a live show without a sea of cell phones in the air all night.

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TVD Live Shots: Static-X, Sevendust, Dope, and Lines of Loyalty at House of Blues, 10/31

WORDS AND IMAGES: CHRISS LOOMISThe highly-anticipated “Machine Killer Tour” featuring Static-X, Sevendust, and Dope took the stage at the House of Blues in Anaheim on October 31, 2023. The concert, held on Halloween, was a thrilling spectacle of industrial metal and nu-metal music that captivated the audience from start to finish. The 2200-capacity music hall was filled with fervent fans who were treated to a memorable night of heavy riffs, thunderous percussion, and powerful vocals. Despite being a weekday show, the energy and enthusiasm were palpable, making it a resounding success.

Now five years into version 2.0, Static-X headlined the Machine Killer North American tour when it stopped in Anaheim on Halloween night at House of Blues along with Sevendust, Dope, and Lines of Loyalty. A nu-metal party right out of 1999 with this lineup, and they rocked Anaheim like never before and then some—a night not soon to be forgotten for sure.

Lines of Loyalty, this magnetic rock trio out of Kenosha, WI kicked off the night in fine fashion and successfully lit the metal fuse to ignite the House of Blues in preparation for the upcoming 1-2-3 punch of nu-metal.

Dope took the stage led by frontman Edsel Dope and played a short but ferocious set of powerful metal anthems fueled by piss and vinegar. The set kicked off with the recent “Blood Money,” then you got all the Dope hits you would expect and the crowd was intensely giving Edsel tons of energy as they sang every word. With Acey Slade on guitars for this tour, the band delivered “Bitch” as well as the medley “Die, Boom, Bang, Burn, Fuck” which gave you a little of all your favorite Dope songs. The band ended the set with the Dead or Alive cover “You Spin Me Round (Like a Record).” Now half-way through the night band-wise, the crowd was PUMPED for Sevendust.

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Inside Dave Van Ronk

Remembering Dave Van Ronk, born on this day in 1936.Ed.

ELIZABETH ECKHART FOR TVD | Smack dab in the middle of the second side of Bob Dylan’s debut album is a rendition of the folk standard “The House of the Rising Sun,” listed as “House of the Risin’ Sun” on the record. For most listeners this version was the first they had heard of the song, or at least the first time they heard the song in that particularly poignant, minor key arrangement that was made even more popular by The Animals two years later. However, denizens of the booming Greenwich Village folk scene of the time recognized the arrangement as being cribbed from none other than scene mainstay Dave Van Ronk.

Like many folk artists of the period, Van Ronk took traditional songs and fragments of songs and made them his own. His version of “House of the Rising Sun” was particularly good, but being a public domain song he had no recourse as he watched both Dylan and The Animals launched into international stardom partially on the strength of his arrangement—with Van Ronk receiving no financial compensation or even credit from either of those artists.

As Bob Dylan quickly became one of the most famous and successful musicians in history, Van Ronk continued to labor in the scene in which Dylan was once his peer. However, like Dylan, Van Ronk did have his own special place in the Village.

Unlike singers such as Dylan who originated from the midwest, Dave Van Ronk was a born and bred New Yorker, growing up in Brooklyn in the 1940s and ’50s. Van Ronk did not move to Greenwich Village to become part of the burgeoning folk music scene, but was actually one of the figures who ignited the neighborhood’s last great bohemian moment. Before becoming a local folk icon Van Ronk sang with barbershop quartets growing up, and his career as a professional musician began by playing banjo in traditional jazz bands.

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TVD Live Shots:
Sick New World
Festival, 5/13

WORDS AND IMAGES: JAMES COFFMAN IN LAS VEGAS | Sick New World Festival in Las Vegas on May 13th, 2023, was an electrifying celebration of rock and alternative music, showcasing a lineup that left no stone unturned. With System of a Down headlining the event, fans eagerly anticipated an unforgettable experience. The festival was a rollercoaster ride of energy, talent, and passion, with special and exciting performances throughout the day by Flyleaf with Lacey Sturm, P.O.D, Soulfly, Papa Roach, Death Grips, Mr. Bungle, Chevelle, Sevendust, Spiritbox, Incubus, She Wants Revenge, Deftones, Korn, and The Sisters Of Mercy.

The festival kicked off with a bang with Alien Ant Farm delivering a fantastic rendition of Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal.” P.O.D. followed suit, delivering a high-octane set that ignited the audience’s enthusiasm. Directly after, Flyleaf took the stage, accompanied by the powerful vocals of Lacey Sturm. Their explosive performance resonated with the crowd, setting the tone for the day ahead.

Soulfly’s intense and hard-hitting performance left no doubt about their place in the metal scene, captivating fans with their signature blend of heavy riffs and tribal influences. Papa Roach’s energy was infectious, as they unleashed their chart-topping hits with unabashed fervor. Death Grips brought a unique and experimental edge to the festival, pushing boundaries and defying expectations. Mr. Bungle’s eclectic sound and theatrical presence mesmerized the crowd, creating an atmosphere of anticipation for what was yet to come.

Chevelle commanded the stage with their powerful and melodic rock sound, delivering a performance that was both captivating and emotionally charged. Sevendust brought their distinctive blend of heavy riffs and melodic hooks, showcasing their undeniable talent and leaving fans wanting more. Spiritbox enchanted the audience with their ethereal melodies and haunting vocals, proving that they are a force to be reckoned with in the alternative music scene.

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TVD Live Shots: BeachLife Festival,

WORDS AND IMAGES: CHRIS LOOMIS | The celebration of music, art, and Southern California beach life culture—that is BeachLife Festival. Now in its fourth year (2020 was cancelled due to Covid-19) this epic event took place May 5th–7th in beautiful Redondo Beach, CA with another outstanding and diverse lineup featuring some of music’s biggest acts with headliners The Black Keys, Gwen Stefani, The Black Crowes, Modest Mouse, Sublime with Rome, John Fogerty, and a long list of many others.

With four stages well placed amongst the festival grounds, each day was packed with over 8 hours of music as well as a Popup Art Gallery from Punk Rock & Paintbrushes, lots of beer choices, silent auctions, games, and lots of food choices from all over Southern California. The weather was about 70 degrees with mostly sunny skies all weekend—BeachLife 2023 was on track to become the best one yet.

The large Hightide stage was placed in a beautiful open area with synthetic grass, VIP areas were perfectly placed on each side of the stage for prime comfort and viewing. The Lowtide stage was a 2-minute walk out onto the beach where additional VIP areas flanked each side of the area. The Riptide stage was a small stage out on the blacktop where you could grab a beer and watch the performers and the Speakeasy stage was a very small, intimate stage under a small covering that allowed you to enjoy the performances in the shade. The Vinyl District was on location in Redondo Beach on Friday and Saturday to catch all the excitement that BeachLife had to offer.

Friday the crowd started to increase in size late in the afternoon, while Saturday was filled with early-birds as by 2:00pm as the festival grounds were packed—Saturday was the only day to reach a complete sell-out but the three-day event tallied over 40,000 music lovers. The Hightide Stage was the main attraction throughout the weekend and Alternative Rock veterans The Pixies rocked BeachLife Friday evening with an hour long set that included a brief mosh-pit (the only one seen all weekend). The Black Keys fronted by vocalist/guitarist Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney closed out the day with an epic set that included mega hits “Lonely Boy” and “Gold on the Ceiling” among others.

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TVD Live Shots: Pitchfork Music
Festival, 7/17

WORDS AND IMAGES: HAYLEY PARKER | 1:30PM: The ground may be muddy but the goal is clear—finish off Pitchfork Music Festival day 3 with a bang!

1:45PM: L’Rain takes the early stage, a 6 piece band who embodies the vibe of Pitchfork. Laidback, easy to listen to, and an all around good vibe. The lead singer, Taja Cheek AKA L’Rain jokes “I feel responsible for the weather. I’m sorry.”

2:30PM: Chicago local KAINA shows her home city how it’s done. Described as a “soft, savory voice that’s sharp enough to remind you of what happens when you get too close to the sun” on her website, I couldn’t agree more.

2:45PM: At first glance, you would be forgiven for seeing Sofia Kourtesis and expecting some more laidback, Indie melodies. Boy, would you be wrong. Head banging and experimental house music exudes from the Peruvian DJ, proving that you can’t judge a book by its cover and giving the crowd something to marvel at.

3:20PM: Hip hop group Injury Reserve takes the green stage. A two man show, rapper Ritchie with a T sits on a sound speaker and addresses the crowd: “It’s gonna be a good show.” The audience is undoubtedly hanging on every word of the set, with the producer Parker Corey matching the energy.

4:00PM: A break from the rapping, Erika de Casier serves relaxing beats with a side of sultry tones on the opposite side of the park. There’s something quietly flawless about this act, and despite no headbanging or jumping, the crowd is mesmerized by the simplicity.

4:15PM: Natural Information Society has replaced BADBADNOTGOOD after a Covid induced drop out. An eight piece ensemble, multiple instruments ring out amongst a crowd of picnic blankets. This is the ultimate zone out and vibe acoustic music, and the crowd knows it.

4:30PM: Injury Reserve is interviewed in the Doordash backstage area, answering questions about their formation as a band and past experiences. Notably, they speak about how they were booked to play at the back of an Italian restaurant in Stockholm which led them to creating an improvisatory sound for their album.

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TVD Live Shots: Pitchfork Music
Festival, 7/16

WORDS AND IMAGES: HAYLEY PARKER | 1:45pm: Aaaand we’re back! CupcakKe is getting the party started with some sensual beats, telling the audience if they’re not good in bed… they can leave. Passionate fans line the front fence while concert goers eager to catch their fave acts trickle in for Pitchfork Music Festival, day 2.

2:13PM: CupcakKe is getting more sensual by the minute, with her explicit lyrics and moans ringing out loud across the park to an equal mix of stunned onlookers and fans who knew what to expect. With numerous children running around, my only hope is that their kid-safe headphones are blocking out the expletives.

2:15PM: Could it be? Sun! The picnic blankets are out in full force despite the soaked ground.

2:30PM: The Linda Lindas are the cutest band I’ve seen yet, coming out in drawn on whiskers and colorful attire. They have the crowd jumping and singing along instantly with their quirky vibe. I overhear someone say “are they singing about their cats because they haven’t had their hearts broken yet? Love that for them.” I later Googled the band to realize they ranges in age from a mere 11-17, but you would never know it based on their stage presence.

2:58PM: I was thinking about stopping by and getting a complimentary Monster, but after The Armed’s performance I’m feeling more alive than ever. HOLY ENERGY! We had hair flips, painted faces, and full on catapulting into the crowd. My early bet for “most jumping on stage” for the weekend.

3:20PM: Hyd is giving all the ASMR vibes during their set, with powerful whispering evolving to violent screams. The juxtaposition has the audience captivated, along with her smooth dance moves the electro-pop artist gained more than a few fans this weekend.

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TVD Live Shots: Pitchfork Music
Festival, 7/15

WORDS AND IMAGES: HAYLEY PARKER | 1:50PM: Did I just step into a dream? The rain has cleared and Ethel Cain’s angelic voice rings out across Union Park. Pitchfork Music Festival 2022 is back, baby!

2:16PM: Is it too early for dinner? There’s an impressive line up of food options this year including fair favorites, the classic Island Noodles and “farm to fest” options for every appetite.

2:30PM: Philadelphia locals Spirit of the Beehive serve a side of chill vibes along with a standout performance, getting the early crowd buzzing from the first note.

2:45PM: Word is Tkay Maidza has dropped out, replaced by the stunningly talented Monaleo.

2:50PM: 5 minutes late to a 15 minute set, the audience is getting antsy, with chants drifting in and out.

2:56PM: The schedule might have been off but the vibes definitely weren’t! An emotional Monaleo takes the stage, thanking the audience for their warm welcome and playing their viral hits. She goes between being sassy and fierce to shy and softly spoken in a matter of seconds, and the crowd is hanging on every word.

3:20PM: Rapper Wiki takes the stage. I’m not one for rap music usually, but this guy wearing an Oscar the Grouch tee has captivated both myself and the entire audience. If they weren’t fans of him before, they definitely are now.

4:00PM: I make my way through the crowd intensely watching Wiki and overhear “Wait… this dude’s white? He’s mad talented.”

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The TVD First Date

“Vinyl has always been something we’ve viewed as just plain cool, and arguably the best way to listen to music.”

“That opinion started forming after watching movies like High Fidelity, Empire Records, and Pirate Radio, but really solidified when we learned about the level of time and care that goes into the process of manufacturing records. The feel of it—the size, the weight, the artwork, the sound—all demands a higher sense of respect that streaming music will never have.

But it wasn’t really until the first years of our marriage that we really experienced vinyl in the way we thought it ought to be experienced. That way being how we pictured hippies in the ’60s and ’70s listening—getting high, dancing and singing along, and fully submerging ourselves in the music.

My grandparents had just moved into a retirement community and their old console record player needed a home. Nicole and I lived in a basement apartment at the time and jumped on the opportunity to add it to our humble abode. Thankfully my grandparents kept it in such good condition all those years that it really worked like a charm, sounding warm and vintage and still so clear.

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The TVD First Date

“When I was growing up and discovering my music taste and preferences, the sun seemed to be setting on the heyday of vinyl records. From CDs, to iPods, to streaming platforms, the music landscape rapidly changed from year to year—and I along with it. Even though I didn’t grow up with a whirring turntable on my desk or shelves full of dusty records, I have been influenced by vinyl every step of the way.”

“My first vinyl memory came from the most unlikely of places—an EDM track. 7th grade me was browsing through early YouTube when I first came across the music video for “Levels” by Avicii. I was instantly hooked on the song. The synth chords were so catchy that I instantly went to iTunes and downloaded it to my iPod Touch. However, my favorite part came a little over halfway through the track.

The beat drops out and a woman starts singing a powerful melody about a good feeling that she’s never had before. Who was this woman? I knew she wasn’t Avicii. This sent me down a Wikipedia rabbit hole only to find in the end that the woman singing was actually Etta James.The vocals were sampled from her 1962 record “Something’s Got a Hold on Me”.

My journey through vinyl continued from there. I was fascinated with albums like Wildflower by The Avalanches and Donuts by J Dilla, in which every song was made almost exclusively from sampled records. I also extensively listened to Graduation by Kanye West, who masterfully wove samples from old soul and jazz vinyl into his tracks. These albums and many others would eventually inspire me to start making my own music.

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David Franz,
The TVD First Date

“The first thing I ever bought with my own allowance money at age 7 was Queen’s “Another One Bites The Dust” 7-inch single. It was either at Musicland or Sam Goody in Minneapolis. From that day on, I begged my parents to bring me to a record store any time we were driving around on errands. Next up were “Celebration” by Kool and The Gang, Blondie’s “Heart of Glass,” and The Empire Strikes Back movie soundtrack, all out in the same year, 1980. That’s the year music took over for me.”

“Growing up, we had instruments in the house… guitars, an organ… my parents played them, and I would noodle on them, trying to pick out melodies from the records. I think my early piano lessons didn’t stick because I wasn’t interested in reading music, I wanted to play what I heard. I wanted to play what I heard on the radio and records, not “Hot Cross Buns.”

By the time I was in middle school, Van Halen’s 1984 LP was a serious influence on my musicianship. I had started taking drum lessons by then, and that record brought musical complexity into pop music that inspired me deeply.

Vinyl has so much going for it, and it’s no wonder there’s a resurgence. The sound quality, the large scale artwork, and the physicality of opening the packaging, holding the record, putting the needle down, and flipping it every 20 minutes or so creates a very pleasurable tactile experience.

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The TVD First Date

“My earliest memories of vinyl are all inextricably linked to my family. Each record is hard-wired to emotions and specific moments that brought us together. As the self-appointed family historian, I still have a lot of those records and they feel as important to me as the dusty photo albums that most people would use to document their family history.”

“I remember from a very early age my mom playing The Beatles, Stones, and Billy Joel as well as classic country and bluegrass records from Johnny Cash, Norman Blake, and Willie Nelson. They were the soundtrack to every moment. We cleaned to them, ate to them, danced to them, and cried to them.

I was so lucky that my parents had such an eclectic vinyl collection when I was growing up. My father, who had moved from Lebanon to go to college in my hometown of Youngstown, OH, always told me that his record collection helped him learn English.

He LOVED old soul records. He was responsible for the Otis Redding, Aretha, and Ray Charles records that were always playing in the background while I played with my Star Wars action figures pretending that the cabinet that housed the vinyl was the interior of the Death Star. He used to explain that he didn’t enjoy rock and roll because the lyrics were too trippy and weird for him to really get anything out of while he was still learning a new language, but the soul records reminded him of the French music he grew up loving.

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Candice Hoyes,
The TVD First Date

“I fell in love with vinyl, like many fortunate kids, through my parents.”

“As a child of two super responsible Jamaicans transplanted to the Bronx and then Long Island where they raised me and my sister, dancing to records in our family room, or better yet at a basement party, brought out their sunny, fun loving nature. I was like a fish to water going through the cover art, reading the liner notes, and essentially teaching myself how to sing and phrase. My favorite of the bunch was Whitney Houston’s eponymous first album, all in peach like an 1980s Aphrodite.

Vinyl took on a totally gigantic presence at the Jamaican basement parties of my youth. My Uncle is beyond a weekend warrior when it comes to his vinyl collection, from dub, soca, reggae, dancehall, Bossa, jazz, soul. I feel that vinyl collections shaped my musical style as a vocalist and recording artist. The songs I write and gravitate to are always beyond genre when you really peer into them. They most likely draw from different styles like a super rounded, well stocked vinyl collection.

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L E A,
The TVD First Date

“I often find myself telling the story of when I discovered my mom’s vinyl collection. It led to a deeper discovery of my love for music and eventually turned into me starting my own collection.”

“For the longest time, we had this giant, yet somewhat old, sound system in my house growing up. My mom used to rotate her favorite jazz CDs on the 6 disc CD player (and sometimes I’d throw in my Jesse McCartney, Aaron Carter, Dream Street, and Myra CDs in the mix as well, haha). There was also an old record player sitting on top of it, but I never really questioned it until one day I found stacks and stacks of records in our unfinished basement. I think I said something like “Mom, why didn’t you tell me you had all of these?” and then dug my way through every record she had.

Of course, I was searching for The Beatles or The Beach Boys records, but instead, I was really intrigued by an album by Air Supply and Electric Light Orchestra. I brought those two upstairs and played them instantly! “Don’t Bring Me Down” by Electric Light Orchestra was a favorite of mine, but the Air Supply record… Let’s just say, I wound up playing that one from start to finish probably every single day.

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Elektric Voodoo,
The TVD First Date

“Growing up in Lawrence, NJ, a suburb that borders the town of Princeton, really shaped who I am today.”

“Most people know Princeton because of the University, which is one of the most prestigious academic institutions. But many people don’t know that across the street from the University is a record store, Princeton Record Exchange (PRE), arguably one of the greatest record stores on the planet. For me, living ten minutes from PRE was a dream. I had easy access to a constantly evolving collection of amazing and affordable vinyl during my formative years. This record store had a profound impact on my life and career as a musician.

My vinyl obsession started when I was 14 as a result of growing up in a diverse musical household. My mother has sung in the church my entire life, mostly as a cantor. My older brother Chris is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, singer, and producer. My parents had a small and well curated vinyl collection that fit into one cardboard box. It contained mostly classic rock LPs like Jimi Hendrix Are You Experienced, The Beatles Sgt. Pepper’s…, The Doors L.A. Woman, along with some outliers like Esso Steel Band Front Street.

I still have those records today as my parents let me keep whatever I wanted. In contrast, Chris had a far more esoteric collection that included lots of industrial and gothic folk records like Einsturzende Neubauten Funf auf der nach oben offenen Richterskala, The Legendary Pink Dots Hallway Of The Gods, and Current 93 Soft Black Stars.

Before I was in high school, I didn’t have my own record player, so I would browse through my parents’ and brother’s records. I became fascinated by the artwork and liner notes and mesmerized when I heard my brother playing his records in his room. The sounds, visuals, and inclination to copy my older brother encouraged me to buy my own record player. Back then, I was able to purchase one for $10 via a classified ad in the local paper. From there, I knew it was time to build my own vinyl collection.

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