CONCERT REVIEW: Aaron Carter @ LA's The Mint

Aaron Carter photo by Jessica Klausing

Aaron Carter photo by Jessica Klausing

Aaron Carter was the “flyest kid on the block” in the early 2000s with his teen party anthem, “Aaron’s Party (Come Get It).” He wooed teenage girls worldwide with “I Want Candy” and rapped about winning a basketball game against Shaquille O’ Neal in “That’s How I Beat Shaq.” Flash forward to 2019, Carter is back with new music and a more mature image. He proved at Los Angeles’ The Mint that Aaron’s Party never stopped!

Check out the concert REVIEW.

Aaron Carter is offering Pizza Party Soundchecks and after show Meet n’ Greets for his 2019 tour!

Aaron Carter at soundcheck. Photo by Jessica Klausing.

Aaron Carter at soundcheck. Photo by Jessica Klausing.

I’m a sucker for artist VIP packages so I decided to try them both out. The pizza party sound check was literally announced a few days before Aaron’s Los Angeles show. I had already bought my ticket and the meet n’ greet pass, but I thought, ‘hey, it’s my childhood idol plus pizza. What could possibly go wrong?’

My night started with a text instructing me to be at the venue at 6:30PM sharp. Upon arrival at 6PM, I received another text informing me that soundcheck had been bumped to 7:15PM instead. No biggie. I killed time at a neighboring café until it was time for check in. A few of us had gathered in front of The Mint’s main doors eagerly awaiting check in and…no one was there.

Confused, I decided to text back the number for advice and…no reply. To make matters worse, it started to rain. Go figure. Thankfully, The Mint had a canopy big enough for all of us to fit under. I was a bit frustrated and cold but determined to not let this little mishap rain on my parade, so to speak. At about 7:35PM, Aaron’s entourage arrived to finally let us into the venue.

Inside The Mint venue. Photo by Jessica Klausing.

Inside The Mint venue. Photo by Jessica Klausing.

We were told that Aaron was running late and would be here in 10 minutes. I did find it a bit odd that no one checked us in or gave us a wristband. That’s usually the protocol at meet n’ greet type functions. Aaron’s entourage was busy setting up the merch table but assured us that we were fine without a wristband. The venue staff did at least come by to stamp our hands.

The last time I saw our soundcheck pizza.  sigh  I didn’t even get to gaze upon it’s cheesy magnificence. Photo by Jessica Klausing.

The last time I saw our soundcheck pizza. sigh I didn’t even get to gaze upon it’s cheesy magnificence. Photo by Jessica Klausing.

The venue manager even handed me the pizza for some reason. He took off before I could ask any questions. I looked around for guidance but everyone was just as puzzled. We decided to put the pizza at the bar. Big mistake. That was the last time I saw that pizza. We didn’t even get a slice. As soon as soundcheck started, the venue took the pizza away. First rule of pizza party soundcheck –never turn your back on pizza!

Aaron Carter sets up for soundcheck. Photo by Jessica Klausing.

Aaron Carter sets up for soundcheck. Photo by Jessica Klausing.

Aaron Carter had arrived around 7:45PM. He was proudly sporting his black LøVë sweatshirt with a blinged out diamond studded LøVë necklace around his neck. Everyone had quickly gathered at the stage for the soundcheck performance. Aaron smiled kindly and waved to all of us.

“Why aren’t you two wearing your LøVë sweatshirts?” He asked me and another fan.

Aaron Carter’s merch booth. Photo by Jessica Klausing.

Aaron Carter’s merch booth. Photo by Jessica Klausing.

We looked around and noticed we were the only fans not wearing the shirts. The peer pressure was on so we decided to check out the merch booth. Unfortunately, the booth was only taking cash and we brought credit cards instead. The black LøVë sweatshirts are cute and looked quite comfy. I made a mental note to order mine after the show.

The sweatshirts are $45 dollars. You can order one HERE.

Aaron performed brief 30 second snippets of “Fool’s Gold,” “Bad 2 Good,” and “Dearly Departed.” I enjoyed watching Aaron but the screeching speakers made the audio unbearable at times. Soundcheck had to be rushed in order for the venue to open their doors on time at 8PM.  

Despite the hustle and bustle, Aaron still managed to make some time for his fans. He didn’t have too much time to chat but he at least made sure we all got a selfie with him before he had to leave.

Me and AC after soundcheck. I didn’t have time to put the camera on flash mode.

Me and AC after soundcheck. I didn’t have time to put the camera on flash mode.

I don’t want to knock the pizza party soundcheck experience for other fans. I do believe the staff could have been more organized, but I also take into consideration that the LA show was only the second stop of the tour. The soundcheck party is a brand new perk which has some kinks that I hope will be worked out for future shows.

Keep in mind:

-The experience is very quick. Ours lasted less than 15 minutes. Be camera ready.
-Aaron’s time is greatly limited at soundcheck. He does try to spend as much time as he can with fans but just be prepared.
-Eat that pizza as soon as you get it!

I will say the after show meet n’ greet was a great experience! The actual meet n’ greets are a much more relaxed experience than soundcheck. You line up at the merch booth after the show. A venue staff member will escort you backstage for your photo with Aaron. Aaron is such a sweetheart who really cares about his fans. I managed to chat with him a bit after my picture. He genuinely does appreciate all of the support. Thanks for a great show, Aaron!

Backstage with Aaron Carter.

Backstage with Aaron Carter.

INTERVIEW with Guitarist Sean Hurwitz

Sean Hurwitz performs at Red Rocks Amphitheatre. Photo by Candace Hogan.

Sean Hurwitz performs at Red Rocks Amphitheatre. Photo by Candace Hogan.

Israeli-born guitarist Sean Hurwitz has played amongst the big leagues in the music world. He’s toured with Enrique Iglesias and Smash Mouth, and played with Gin Blossoms, Anna Nalick, Chris Wallace, Judith Hill, just to name a few. When he’s not on the road, he’s hard at work recording, writing, and producing for music and film. Technical mastery and keen precision to detail make up his trademark skills on and off stage.

Sean took time to chat with us about his guitar gear, collaborating with other artists, and how he spends his time off tour.

INTERVIEW

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SONG REVIEW: Ch3ls - "Crying Wolf"

By Jessica Klausing

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Ch3ls releases her new single, “Crying Wolf,” a seamless blend of country, blues, and hard rock with a tinge of pop appeal, thrown in for good measure.  She’s a spitfire powder-keg of talent ready to explode into the atmosphere.

The delicate opening guitar lulls you into a false sense of security as Ch3ls sweetly sings, “Oh you know/I used to care/ but how much can a girl take?”

Her sugary sweet delivery comes as a surprise when you realize that she’s calling out a guy who did her wrong: “Don’t you know…You did it to yourself/so go lay down in that bed you made,” she croons casually before the tempo picks up and we’re thrown into a whirlwind of booming hand claps and somber backing vocals.

Ch3ls’ howls are justified when she reveals evidence of this man’s behavior: “A wolf in sheep’s clothes/ That huffin’ and bluffin’ is bullshit/I’m sick of your lying and whining, you crying wolf!” The electric guitar solo that ensues will have your heart pumping on an adrenaline fueled high. Before long you’ll find yourself howling along with Ch3ls’ fierce wolf pack. It’s well worth the listen.

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Check out more of Ch3ls’ music:
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INTERVIEW with Mackenzie Nicole

Mackenzie Nicole photo courtesy of Strange Music, Inc.

Mackenzie Nicole photo courtesy of Strange Music, Inc.

Mackenzie Nicole defies the pop standards with her classically trained chops and urban rock influence. Her musical experimentation led to her debut single, “Actin Like You Know” which caught the attention of Travis O’Guin, the co-founder and C.E.O of juggernaut Strange Music, Inc. Her recording history predates the single as she made her debut on platinum certified rap icon Tech N9ne’s K.O.D.

We chat about life as a pop artist on a rap label, her musical influences, and being a young woman in the music industry.

INTERVIEW

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SONG REVIEW: Tim Lancaster - "Half-Life"

By Wanda Whitley

Tim Lancaster photo by Guy Roberts.

Tim Lancaster photo by Guy Roberts.

Listening to Tim Lancaster’s latest single, "Half-Life" has left me in joyful wonderment.

Tim Lancaster is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, and singer. His music spans the spectrum of pop-rock-psychedelic-punk to modern jazz. "Half-Life" is the second single off his debut album, Conspiracy. With Conspiracy, Tim created a genre-bending collection of tracks that utilize a carefully selected range of instruments, effects and production techniques. He even built a pedal board from scratch, imagining exactly how he wanted the fuzz to sound and how the distortion should roar.

There is so much to love about "Half-Life." The music itself is spooky-cool, an eerie, melodic sound that is all at once futuristic, yet it transports you to the past. With keyboards that pay homage to The Doors, some electric guitar riffs that whisper a little bit of Jimi Hendrix, drum beats reminiscent of the space-age beat of Billy Thorpe’s "Children of the Sun," to Tim’s smooth vocals and performance channeling a bit of Alice Cooper – this song is a trip to the past, present, and future.  

Yet with this pleasant transportation, "Half-Life" is truly Tim’s song and Tim’s song only. Such an eclectically-ethereal treat. This song is far-out for sure.  Far-out in a good way, man.  We are definitely feeling your presence with "Half-Life," Tim, and we are all the better for it!

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SONG REVIEW: Kodacrome - "Think Of The Children"

By Wanda Whitley

Kodacrome.

Kodacrome.

I am so energized right now people! 

If you haven’t heard it already, rush right now and listen to Kodacrome’s single "Think of the Children." I promise you an awakening and a rush, a transportation into an electro pop dream, with beautiful vocals that are breathy and sexy, yet what a pristine sound! The techno-beat gets your feet moving, your head grooving, and your body shaking in a rapturous dance.

Kodacrome is comprised of Elissa LeCoque and Ryan Casey. The pair create fragmented pop with a warm electronic pulse, featuring swells and lead lines which ring from synths and throats, alike. Elissa and Ryan share a deep love for melodic composition and it certainty shows within their music.

I particularly love the horns and keyboards playing along with the beat, a joyous addition to the composition. This is the type of song that keeps playing in your head long after it ends, the kind of music you tell the D.J. to “play it again”!  

A line in the lyrics tells us to “Stretch your arms out…” Indeed. Listeners will most definitely stretch their arms out in an embrace for this one. Think of all of us, Kodacrome, and keep up your excellent and eclectic work!

Interview with Matthew Phillips

Matthew Phillips photo by Noah Gilman.

Matthew Phillips photo by Noah Gilman.

Up-and-coming singer-songwriter Matthew Phillips has been making waves through San Diego’s music scene with over 100,000 followers on Instagram and receiving endorsements from Fender Electric Guitars, Taylor Acoustic Guitars, GHS Strings, and Voss Water, just to name a few.

We got to chat with Matthew about his journey becoming a solo artist, independent artist struggles, and his mad videography skills!

INTERVIEW.

Be sure to follow Matthew Phillips:
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THROWBACK: M2M

M2M.

M2M.

M2M defined the bubblegum pop genre in the Y2K era.

The Norwegian pop duo comprised of childhood friends Marion Raven and Marit Larsen. Their debut album, Shades of Purple (2000) sold over 1.5 million units worldwide with the single, “Don’t Say You Love Me,” receiving critical and commercial success. Raven and Larsen wrote the lyrics and played instruments on their songs which set them apart from most pop artists.

Check out our Top 5 M2M song picks.

READ MORE.

 M2M:
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Marion Raven:
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Marit Larsen:
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Interview with Falling Doves' Chris Leyva

Falling Doves. From left: Mike Dorsey and Chris Leyva. Photo by Kelli Hayden.

Falling Doves. From left: Mike Dorsey and Chris Leyva. Photo by Kelli Hayden.

The Falling Doves never play it safe.

Chris Leyva (guitars, vocals) and Mike Dorsey (lead guitarist) create an unpredictable mix of garage rock with jazz, metal, Latin, and pop infusions. Known for their deep lyrical confessionals and aggressive playing, this band is not afraid to combine the classics with the new.

Falling Doves' Chris Leyva chats with us about his musical influences, international touring, and the new upcoming Falling Doves album.

Check out our INTERVIEW.

Falling Doves Social Media:

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SONG REVIEW: Aidan James - "What My Friends Talk About"

Written by Jessica Klausing

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Aidan James shakes up the pop scene with his Hawaiian inspired melodies.

At age 9, James uploaded a Youtube video cover of Train’s “Hey, Soul Sister” while playing a ukulele. The video went viral with over 20 million views inspiring the young Hawaii native to venture into a music career.  In the last couple of years he has released an EP, “Live Again,” and a full-length album, “Echoes.” He has toured with many notable acts such as Train, Jack Johnson, Lisa Loeb, and Michael Bolton. Currently, 16 year old, James has been hard at work to release his new full-length album sometime later this year.

In his new single, “What My Friends Talk About,” James uses his ukulele to the bridge the melody gap between contemporary pop and R&B. Think sound wise similar to Jason Mraz’s “I’m Yours.” The ukulele fades as the song progresses into an eclectic fusion of finger-snaps, hand claps, and percussion.

James’ warm vocals evoke a sweet innocence as he admits, “And you know I can’t remember anything before I saw your face.” His versatile talent and individuality shines through on this track. I can’t wait to hear what Aidan James has in store on his new album.

Purchase Aidan James’ MUSIC

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Umphrey's McGee @ LA's Wiltern

Photo by Paul Citone.

Photo by Paul Citone.

Jam band Umphrey's McGee made a legendary comeback to Los Angeles this past weekend!

Amidst the hypnotic psychedelic light show and LED visuals, Umphrey’s McGee seamlessly weaves progressive rock, jazz, disco, funk, metal, and electronic genres into a cohesive dance mix. Each band member has a keen musical ear and an uncanny talent to communicate with each other on stage.

Check out the concert REVIEW.

Special thanks to Paul Citone for allowing me to use his amazing concert photographs!

SONG REVIEW: Justin Levinson - "I'll Make It In Hollywood"

Written by Jessica Klausing

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Los Angeles based singer-songwriter Justin Levinson’s new single “I’ll Make It In Hollywood” promises he’ll do just that. Coupling the ambition to ‘make it big’ in the entertainment industry with doo-wop harmonies and touches of 60’s pop and soul, Levinson embodies the spirit of the struggling underdog: “I’ve been so tired lately/LA can wear you down sometimes/Working for survival while you try to keep your dreams alive.”

“I’ll Make It In Hollywood” is an endearing ballad that instantly soothes a soul, lifts a mood, and inspires a weary mind. The song strikes an inspirational chord of determination to overcome life’s obstacles and see a dream fulfilled. This track follows up his 2017 release, Yes Man.

Check out my interview with Justin Levinson HERE.

Purchase Justin’s music HERE.

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Taylor Swift Builds 'Reputation' At Jingle Balls

Written by Brody Duggson

Taylor Swift photo courtesy of HollywoodLife.com 

Taylor Swift photo courtesy of HollywoodLife.com 

On Dec. 1, Taylor Swift returned to the stage for the first time in ten months.  She was the headlining act at the KIIS FM’s iHeartRadio Jingle Ball 2017 in Los Angeles.

Eight days later, she fulfilled the same role at a similar event in New York City, although that iHeartRadio ball was produced by Z100.  Then, the next night, she participated in the Capital FM Jingle Bell Ball in London.

The three mini-concerts foreshadow the superstar’s upcoming concert trek.  “Taylor Swift’s Reputation Stadium Tour” kicks off May 8, 2018 in Glendale, Arizona.  The singer will then visit Seattle, Chicago, Philadelphia, Toronto, and Atlanta as well as several other cities in North America.

As of now, her final U.S. date is Oct. 8 in Arlington, Texas.  She’ll finish her tour with five stops in Australia and New Zealand.

Swift is hitting the road to support her sixth studio album, Reputation. The album dropped on Nov. 10 and sold two million copies during its first week of release.

All three Jingle Ball performances were punctuated by the singer’s high energy, a cadre of backup dancers, and fashion-forward outfits.

There are absolutely no traces of the singer’s country roots.  She’s the world’s biggest pop star and a full-on force of nature who’s in the prime of her career.

Swift’s setlist included “Shake It Off,” “I Don't Want to Live Forever," “Ready For It,” and "Look What You Made Me Do."  

Ed Sheeran and Taylor Swift perform "End Game." Photo courtesy of Variety.com 

Ed Sheeran and Taylor Swift perform "End Game." Photo courtesy of Variety.com 

The highlight of her L.A. appearance was her duet with pal Ed Sheeran.  It was the first time the superstars had ever performed “End Game” live.  Swift and Sheeran must have enjoyed their performance because they repeated it in The City That Never Sleeps.

Actress Katie Holmes, and her daughter Siri Cruise, introduced Swift prior to her Big Apple shindig.

Another visitor of note was Joe Alwyn, Swift’s current boyfriend.  In London, attendees saw them steal a kiss during Sheeran’s performance.  In Metropolis, after the ball, the couple was seen holding hands.

Mother Nature got in on the act in London.  We’ll have Taylor Swift explain:

“Guys, it snowed today!  That is all I’ve been talking about today is the fact that it snowed today on the morning of Jingle Bell Ball. It’s so perfect!”

While Swift’s music, performances, and life reveal consistent maturity, the previous quote reminds us that she’s still a down-to-Earth girl From Reading, Pennsylvania. 

Regardless of how many diva-like and artistic elements she adds to her repertoire, the performer can always charm our socks off.

Backstreet's Back -- In Vegas!

Written by Jessica Klausing

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Oh my God, they’re back again!

Just as the “Backstreet Boys:  Larger Than Life” show came to a close in July, the boys announced more dates extending their Las Vegas residency to November, January, and February.  Fans bought these tickets so fast that it set the record as the fastest selling residency show in history.  Nick Carter, AJ McLean, Howie Dorough, Kevin Richardson, and Brian Littrell treat fans to a nostalgic two hour show packed with their chart topping hits, classic backstreet dances, and over-the-top theatrics.

Check out my concert review HERE.

They sort you into groups at check in

They sort you into groups at check in

I was your typical Backstreet fangirl back in the 90s. I proudly owned all the BSB merchandise: CDs, books, comics, clothing, VHS specials, magazines, the Burger King toys, and the official Backstreet Boys: Around the World board game. You name it, I had it! My bedroom walls were completely covered with posters of my future husband at the time—Brian Littrell. I still remember crying tears of joy the day my mom surprised me with tickets to their sold out ‘Into the Millennium’ tour! Yes, I was THAT fangirl. Fast forward 17 years later—Backstreet’s in Vegas with meet n’ greet options. Say what!?! I knew I had to fulfill my 12 year old self’s biggest fantasy and meet my favorite boy band.

Love that snazzy BSB lamp on the food table.

Love that snazzy BSB lamp on the food table.

My adventure began at 3:30PM on Saturday, November 11, 2017. We were to check in at 5PM in front of The AXIS but I was convinced arriving obnoxiously early was a great idea. It was not such a great idea. I stood alone for a while. I tend to suffer from Pre-Concert Anxiety, so I get myself into this predicament a lot. One guy felt so sorry for me that he bought me a bottle of water. Eventually, about an hour later, others started lining up. I chatted with many fellow Backstreet diehard fans to get the inside scoop on the VIP instructions and the venue logistics, because Pre-Concert Anxiety…

Goofing around with the Brian BSBmoji

Goofing around with the Brian BSBmoji

Check in time started promptly at 4:55PM. We were given a VIP laminate and escorted upstairs into the VIP Lounge. The lounge was decked out in Christmas tree lights with 90’s music blaring out of the speakers. You could sit at a mini table or on a large beanbag chair. I think they were going for a swanky throwback nightclub vibe. Overall the lounge was cozy and very roomy. Even with 160 people, it never felt crowded. The snack table was well stocked with assorted candies, chips, and granola bars. Nothing appealed to me there. I did help myself to a free BSB embroidered napkin and koozie though.

 VIP members receive two free drink tickets to redeem at the bar. You get a choice of Pepsi, water, beer, or champagne. The bartender recommends the champagne. I happily concur! I didn’t take too many photos in the lounge due to the poor lighting. They do have a real nifty inflatable photo booth in the back. It comes with various BSBmojis on a stick. They held a raffle at the end of the meet n’ greet for a free ticket into the Backstreet Boys after party at the Chateau nightclub.

Feel the Backstreet love

Feel the Backstreet love

The Backstreet Boys arrived around 7PM for meet n’ greets. The staff had us split into three groups: A, B, and C. Groups were called one by one for the photos. This was a great idea rather than one huge line. Those of us with heels on were eternally grateful! Once I made my way to the front, I was told to talk to the first three boys, pose for the picture, and then talk to the last two boys. We were not allowed to bring our cellphones. They have a table for your personal items. I had a pleasant experience and did not feel rushed.

The boys are such amazing sweethearts! They truly do care about their fans and it really shows. I have never been to a more laidback meet n’ greet than Backstreet’s! They will accommodate your photo requests. I saw several people bring in various props for the boys. You can request certain poses and even choose to stand next to your favorite boy. I asked for a giant group hug and was not disappointed!

The AXIS theater at Planet Hollywood in Vegas.

The AXIS theater at Planet Hollywood in Vegas.

You can start lining up for the concert once your photo is finished. Those with seats/tables were told to follow security downstairs. The PIT folks were separated into two lines: Front of the Line Pass and regular PIT. I did not have a Front of the Line Pass. You really don’t need one. VIP members get first access into the theater. Keep that in mind. I went in behind all the FOTL people and still scored an amazing Main Stage front row spot.

Certain shows offer a Backstreet Boys after party at the Chateau nightclub. I did not go. My feet were killing me from standing in heels for over 9 hours (Yes, I’m aware of how incredibly lame that is). The nightclub has a strict dress code, and I never wanted to see my heels again after the concert. I have heard pleasant things about the after party. You’ll get a chance to take a selfie with 2-3 of the Backstreet Boys.  It’s much less structured than the meet n’ greet. You’ll need to pay for the Chateau VIP ticket if you want to mingle with the boys though.

Overall the “Backstreet Boys: Larger Than Life” experience is a must for any Backstreet fan! The residency ends in February. Get your tickets:

TICKETS

 VIP TIPS:

-Arrive early (4:30P is an ideal time).

-Don’t feel bad if you are going alone. Trust me. Backstreet fans are super nice and chill. You’ll make lots of new friends in no time.

-VIP is a lot of ‘hurry up and wait.’ Be prepared to stand for several hours, especially if you have PIT tickets! You may want to consider dressing comfortably.

-Take a deep breath. The boys are very kind to their fans. You don’t get too much time to mingle with them, so have your questions and/or comments ready. (P.S. AJ and Kevin give the best hugs!).

-Walk, don’t run! I know it’s tempting for the PIT folks but security does not play. They will move you to the back of the line.

-Try not to stand in front of the Catwalk. Honestly, there is not a bad spot in the venue. The band tries to reach out and engage as many fans as possible. You’ll just have a higher chance of more Backstreet interaction from the Main Stage and Second Stage.

-You don’t necessarily have to get the Front of the Line Pass. VIP members get first access into the theater. You’re guaranteed a prime spot in the PIT.

-Make sure to get your drinks and/ or go to the restroom before the theater doors open. These shows always sell out. The PIT gets full quick! You don’t want to lose your spot.

-Don’t push other fans and/or throw personal items on the stage. Security will kick you out.

-Have fun! The experience is what you make of it.

Sound Majesty Presents: Mexico Benefit Concert at West Hollywood’s Whisky A Go Go

Written by Jessica Klausing

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2017 has been a year plagued with many natural disasters around the world. Last month Mexico’s 7.1 magnitude earthquake took hundreds of lives, leaving the country with over $1 billion dollars worth of damages.  Aid and relief funds are still desperately needed.  On Sunday, October 1, Sound Majesty hosted a Mexico benefit concert at West Hollywood’s famed Whisky A Go Go. 

Beck Black served as the emcee, introducing all eight musical acts including a Mariachi band! During the concert, attendees were encouraged to participate in the silent auction upstairs. The auction items included an autographed guitar, signed by all of the benefit artists, Vampire Vineyards wine, and exclusive sunglasses. All ticket and auction proceeds went to the Mexico emergency relief funds.

Matthew Phillips

Matthew Phillips photo by Jessica Klausing

Matthew Phillips photo by Jessica Klausing

San Diego based singer-songwriter Matthew Phillips took the stage at 6:00PM. With an acoustic guitar in hand, Phillips launched into “Together Forever,” a saccharine love ballad. Right off, I was impressed with Phillips ability to connect well with his audience.

Throughout his set, he made sure to make eye contact and reach out to every person in the room. His songs empathize with those who have been “friend zoned” and looking for hope.  His charisma and bell pure vocals stood out on “Goodbye” and “Always Be There.”  “No More Pain” was a beautiful tune dedicated to Mexico. The biggest highlight was his Goo Goo Dolls cover of “Iris,” which prompted an audience sing-a-long.

Jade PraiZe

Jade PraiZe photo by Jessica Klausing

Jade PraiZe photo by Jessica Klausing

Jade PraiZe upped the swag dosage for the night. The UK singer-songwriter strutted on stage with a large red hair bow and cool shades. Her sweet yet snarky demeanor gives a playful edge to her soulful lyrics. Vocally, she reminded me a bit of Amy Winehouse and Fiona Apple. 

PraiZe cries out “Don’t be fooled by the Milky Way/I got through in but I couldn’t stay,” in “Milk Way.” My favorite was “Hands Out” with the ever inspiring, “Put your hands out/Dance like there’s no tomorrow.” I do hope Ms. PraiZe sticks around. I’m curious to hear more from her!

Love Like Suicide

Molly Kills photo by Jessica Klausing

Molly Kills photo by Jessica Klausing

Love Like Suicide stole the show. Period. Singer Molly Kills portrays a gothic femme fatale as she seductively slinks around the stage with long black hair covering her face, crooning out dark secrets. Expect the dark, the sexy, the mystery, and the nostalgia. Their music is a throwback nod to the 90’s grunge and punk genres. If you love Garbage and The Cranberries, then you’ll love this band.

Their newest single, “Side Effects” off the EP, Verdugo exhibits impressive alternative guitar hooks and hypnotic synths. Guitarist Mor Kosmik and Bassist Troy Richardson riffed through other punkwave hits such as “Born Again” and “On A High.” The benefit show was particularly important to Kosmik, who is originally from Mexico City. She proudly showed off ‘Made in Mexico’ written on her left leg for the night.

The Knitts

The Knitts photo by Jessica Klausing

The Knitts photo by Jessica Klausing

The Knitts took us back to the post-punk and Brit-Pop scene. Their songs were reminiscent of early Rolling Stones and The Beatles. The songs boasted plenty of upbeat, catchy classic rock melodies. Lead vocalist/guitarist Charlie Volkens impressed with his boyish charms and husky low growls. The Knitts were determined to get everyone up during their set and they succeeded!

“Vamonos Mexico” turned the venue into one big dance party. “This is the only song we have about Mexico,” joked Charlie Volkens. The energy continued with the more country twangin’ “Hold Steady Pretty Lady.” “Get Up Get Out” had everyone chanting out the song’s title. This song could easily be the modern-day Beatles’ “Twist and Shout” party anthem.

Peter DiStefano

Peter DiStefano photo by Jessica Klausing

Peter DiStefano photo by Jessica Klausing

Peter DiStefano slowed it down with more beautiful acoustic guitar. Beck Black introduced his set as “pop rock unplugged.” DiStefano is a prolific musician in the business. He’s composed countless music for television, film, and video games. He is best known for his early alternative rock band, Porno for Pyros (The Jane’s Addiction offshoot).

DiStefano shared his softer rock tunes with us. His solo work is more delicate than his other musical projects. It’s a definite contrast to his electronica pumped side band, Venice Underground. He did surprise us with a few Porno for Pyros covers. His acoustic version of “Tahitian Moon” was performed with such graceful precision, that I actually prefer his version to the original.

Falling Doves

Falling Doves photo by Jessica Klausing

Falling Doves photo by Jessica Klausing

Hollywood’s own Falling Doves were up next. Their music is described as “whiskey laced vocals infused with bits of glam and blues.” Lead singer Christopher Leyva donned a leather jacket with slicked-up black spiky hair. He looked like the frontman of a hell raiser 80’s punk band. Don’t be fooled by the apparel. The music is fueled with heavy guitar riffs but it’s a definite nod to classic rock with confessional storytelling.

The Falling Doves rolled into the power rock anthem “Ready to Go!” The sultry guitar licks pop infused “Paris” followed. The set ended with a couple of epic covers. Oasis’ “Champagne Supernova” was the real crowd pleaser! Beck Black joined the band for Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams.”

Beck Black

Beck Black photo by Jessica Klausing

Beck Black photo by Jessica Klausing

The lovely and fierce Beck Black performed a special set. Ms. Black’s music is bluesy punk with a whole lotta soul! Minus drummer Adam Alt, Beck proves that she could still hold her own. Her commanding stage presence will pull you in if her seductive vocals haven’t already.

“Life's a Circus” brought out plenty of carefree attitude. Beck would playfully leap from guitar monitor to guitar monitor effortlessly. She would even drop and roll on the floor without missing a beat! Beck commands attention in “Vampires Come out at Night” with the sultry lyric, “Vampires come in the dark/when you light up a spark/they bite, they suck, your energetic blood.”

Corey Feldman and The Angels

Corey Feldman and The Angels photo by Jessica Klausing

Corey Feldman and The Angels photo by Jessica Klausing

Midnight struck when Corey Feldman and The Angels finally took stage. Due to a technical issue, Corey’s set had to be cut short for curfew. Corey didn’t seem too fazed. He spent several minutes chatting amicably with his fans from onstage. The set officially started about ten minutes later. Corey channeled his inner Michael Jackson with a bold red, black, and silver colored jacket and dark shades. His angels wore white lingerie with brightly lit up wings and neon glowing shoes. The performance itself was simply mesmerizing to watch. Maybe it was all those Christmas tree-esque lights?

The band opened with the iconic “Take a Stand,” in which Corey advises us, “We need peace (right now)/We need love (somehow)/The world is not full of clouds/Let the sun shine down.” The next song, “Walk” featured Corey on guitar. “It’s So Simple” was another inspiring pop song about making the world a better place. For the closer, Beck Black and the Mariachi band joined Corey for a Beatles cover of “Come Together,” dedicated to Mexico.  If you have never seen a former child star, scantily clad women, and a Mariachi band perform a Beatles song, then you have not experienced Los Angeles!

Corey Feldman and The Angels perform "Come Together" photo by Jessica Klausing

Corey Feldman and The Angels perform "Come Together" photo by Jessica Klausing

I gotta admire Corey for his optimism.  I’ll admit that his band concept may be a bit too whimsical. If tongue-in-cheek performances offend you then stay away from a Corey Feldman and The Angels show! However, beyond the “over-the-top” theatrics, his music does spread a positive message. Our world seems more obsessed with hatred than ever. With all the negativity going around, it’s a bit refreshing to hear songs about love and helping one another. Honestly, I think this world could benefit from more Corey Feldman and The Angels.

EP REVIEW: Drake Bell - Honest

Written by Jessica Klausing

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Drake Bell returns with an eclectic pop sound for his new EP, Honest. The former Nickelodeon star aims to branch out from his trademark rockabilly swagger to something more “light and fun.” This EP is just that, and more thought provoking than any of Bell’s previous releases.

The first track, the titular “Honest” is a wear-your-heart-on-a-sleeve romantic confessional with “Spread your love like a wildfire/Wanna breath you in like smoke/Why do I have to let you go?/Not saying I’m perfect/At least I’m honest.” The melody sounds like something off of the Kings of Leon’s Only by the Night album (I get the “Use Somebody” vibes here).

“Leaves” follows with an electronic percussion before sonically evolving into ambient transcendence. Bell bares vulnerability as he asks, “Is it brave to be this honest?”  The tender lyricism displays a beautiful and empathetic charm to this song.  

“Run Away” has a driving rhythm that is highly addictive. It’s a fun, road trip anthem about two young lovers running away together. Bell takes us along for the ride as he sings, “Sometimes we don’t need to run/We don’t need to hide/Don’t need to take our time when it’s on our side/Live life by the minute.”

Closing out the EP is “Rewind” which offers a valuable life lesson to worry less and live more. Bell croons about a woman constantly worrying about her boyfriend rather than enjoy life. “He can’t answer every time that you call/’Making something so big out of something so small.” What the song captures so effectively is the raw emotion and angst that comes from regret, the inevitable fate of human existence.  

Honest is a sonically brilliant EP and well worth the three year wait since Ready Steady Go! Drake Bell has grit complimented with a whole lot of heart. Every song has a different feel, there’s self-reflection and a psychedelic sensibility that’s blended effortlessly.

Recommended Tracks: “Leaves” and “Run Away.”