Aaron Carter's Party Never Stopped @ LA's The Mint

By Jessica Klausing

Aaron Carter performs “Fool’s Gold” at The Mint. Photo by Jessica Klausing.

Aaron Carter performs “Fool’s Gold” at The Mint. Photo by Jessica Klausing.

Admit it, you so wanted to join Aaron’s Party.

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!

Carter kicked off the set with “Fool’s Gold,” a hit from his most recent album release, LøVë. The track blends electronic dance music (EDM) styles with pop. This electronic opener had everyone singing the chorus, “Look at you falling/Do you even know what you’re falling for?/Cause I see you falling/You traded my heart for some fool’s gold.”

Aaron Carter photo by Jessica Klausing.

Aaron Carter photo by Jessica Klausing.

“Bad 2 Good” and “Dearly Departed” dazzled fans with more slick, exuberant synths. Everyone was on their feet dancing the night away. Carter seemed to be having the time of his life as well. The blond singer was all smiles as he stepped away from his keyboard to bust a few smooth dance moves. Just as things were starting to heat up, a few minor screeching speaker issues threatened to delay the fun.

“Bro, I promise I’ll buy you new speakers if they blow,” Carter assured the venue’s sound guy from onstage.

Thankfully, no speakers blew out and the night went on as scheduled. Carter continued to serenade more reflective heartbreak anthems off his LøVë album. On “Seattle TideZ,” Carter compares a troubled relationship to the Seattle weather with, “This love can’t keep me waiting/This love is far from faded/I see this jaded situation through these sheets of rain and you always keep me waiting.”

Aaron Carter prepares for the next song. Photo by Jessica Klausing.

Aaron Carter prepares for the next song. Photo by Jessica Klausing.

“Champion” was the most emotional song of the night. The song was written to honor Carter’s father, who passed away from a heart attack in 2017. His father’s last voice mail was played before the song.

Not wanting to end on a sad note, Carter promised a song to take us all back. Of course, the venue went ballistic with frantic chants for “Aaron’s Party!”

“No, not yet. But it’s coming! Don’t worry!” Carter assured the room.

“This is a song that was written 60 years ago and it goes a little something like this,” Carter said as he launched right into “I Want Candy,” his other hit from the 2000s. Needless to say, the fans were not disappointed with this particular song choice!

Aaron rocks out to “Aaron’s Party (Come Get It).” Photo by Jessica Klausing.

Aaron rocks out to “Aaron’s Party (Come Get It).” Photo by Jessica Klausing.

Nothing compared to the hype from “Aaron’s Party (Come Get it)” though. Fans literally screamed out the lyrics word for word, almost overpowering Carter’s vocals at times. Carter had a few tricks up his sleeve as he remixed his traditional pop track to incorporate a trap beat.

The night ended with Carter lending his honey sweet vocals on “Sooner or Later.” Fans hollered for an encore, which he was more than happy to oblige. He returned onstage for another remix of “Fool’s Gold” ending the night on a dance party high.

If you come to an Aaron Carter concert expecting to hear his old childhood hits, then you’ll be sourly disappointed. You may get a nostalgic throwback or two but Aaron has made it clear in interviews that he wants to move on with his music career. His new music is comprised of eclectic trap EDM remixes with honest lyrics reflecting past failed relationships and loss. Aaron Carter may have matured but his newer catchy tunes can still pack a dance floor!

Fool’s Gold
Bad 2 Good
Dearly Departed
Almost There
Don’t Say Goodbye
Same Way
Seattle TideZ
Let Me Let You Go
I Want Candy (remix)
Hard to LøVë
What Did You Want to Say?
Aaron’s Party (Come Get It)
Sooner Or Later

Fool’s Gold

Leon Bridges Bares Soul @ LA's Greek Theatre

By Jessica Klausing

Leon Bridges photo by Jessica Hanley. Credit to  Buzzbands.la

Leon Bridges photo by Jessica Hanley. Credit to Buzzbands.la

The Los Angeles stars shined bright for Leon Bridges on his Good Thing tour stop at the Greek Theatre. Bridges brings to life a carefree nostalgic vibe with his 60’s inspired R&B grooves, soothing soulful voice, elegant ‘classic man’ apparel, and romanticized storytelling. The sold out crowd were in for quite a treat.

Khruangbin photo by Jessica Hanley. Credit to  Buzzbands.la

Khruangbin photo by Jessica Hanley. Credit to Buzzbands.la

Supporting act Khruangbin warmed up the crowd with their infectious Middle Eastern and psychedelic musical blends. Bass player Laura Lee grabbed the audience’s attention from the get go with her seductive vocals and hypnotic stage movements while guitarist Mark Speer and drummer Donald Ray “DJ” Johnson Jr. fueled the rhythm. The band is currently on tour in support of their second album, Con Todo El Mundo.

At approximately 9:25P, Leon Bridges and his band took stage dressed in matching chic white overall jumpsuits. A bright gold ‘LB’ banner lit up against a midnight blue crushed velvet curtain backdrop. The stage setting looked more like the interior to a snazzy Jazz club rather than an outdoor amphitheatre. Bridges was all blazing smiles as he crooned right into to the silky smooth opener, “If It Feels Good (Then It Must Be).”

Leon Bridges performs at LA’s Greek Theatre. Photo by Jessica Hanley. Credit to  Buzzbands.la

Leon Bridges performs at LA’s Greek Theatre. Photo by Jessica Hanley. Credit to Buzzbands.la

“Tonight let’s groove out! Don’t be scared to dance!” Bridges exclaimed as he busted a few smooth moves before serenading right into “Bad Bad News” off his newest release, Good Thing.

The talented retro- soul singer had the adoring crowd within the palm of his hand as he performed beautiful ballads such as “Brown Skin Girl” and his trademark hit, “Coming Home.” Throughout the entire evening fans swayed back and forth bellowing out the lyrics with as much passion as Bridges himself.

During “Beyond” Bridges held out the microphone while the audience cried out, “Space and time in the afterlife/Will she have my kids? Will she be my wife?/She might just be my everything and beyond.”

The biggest highlight of the night was John Mayer joining Bridges onstage for a bluesy rendition of “Mrs.” The crowd went wild as Mayer shredded into an intense guitar solo mid song. After the surprise adrenaline rush, it was time to slow things down with the reflective, “Flowers.”

As Bridges exited the stage, the audience roared for “one more song!” Luckily their wish was granted and then some. Bridges and his band returned for not one, but two more songs! The first encore was a beautiful rendition of “River” featuring Brides on an acoustic guitar with his backup singers. Cell phone flashlights lit up the theatre like a swarm of fireflies in the night.

Bridges had one more surprise left for his fans. John Mayer returned onstage to close out the evening with “Mississippi Kisses.”  Mayer wailed on his guitar as Bridges collapsed on his knees, howling out into the night sky. Mayer’s extended guitar solo carried on even as fans headed out of the theatre.

Leon Bridges’ stage presence and ability to draw in a crowd, through his lyrical and narrative performance is unlike any that I have seen. If you are into a lively show that gets you up on your feet, singing your heart out, and overall leaving you wanting just one more song this is the tour for you.

If It Feels Good (Then It Must Be)
Bad Bad News
Better Man
Coming Home
Georgia To Texas
Forgive You
You Don’t Know
Lisa Sawyer
Hold On
Brown Skin Girl
Smooth Sailin’
Mississippi Kisses

CONCERT REVIEW: Static and Surrender 'Electrifies' @ Hollywood's Hotel Cafe

Written by Jessica Klausing

Static and Surrender. Photo by Jessica Klausing.

Static and Surrender. Photo by Jessica Klausing.

Bay area rockers Static and Surrender are on tour throughout California in honor of their debut album release. Their energetic riffs and rhythms are on par with the alternative superstar acts such as Lifehouse and Matchbox Twenty. Jeff Campbell (lead vocals, guitar) backed by John Schuman (drums), Adam Schuman (guitar, vocals), and Lauren Stockner (bass player) – all stars in their own right – delivered a passionate performance at Hollywood’s Hotel Café.

Jeff Campbell puts his heart and soul into each song and it shows. He kept the set running smoothly and without interruption for the majority of the night. Opening up with “Killing The Vibe” Campbell belts a powerful vocal delivery that commands the attention in a room while his bandmates exerted lighting-in-a-bottle energy around the small stage with ease.

Jeff Campbell. Photo by Jessica Klausing

Jeff Campbell. Photo by Jessica Klausing

With such a strong reaction from the crowd, the level of energy and intensity only grew with each song.  The next song, “If Only We Could Sleep” was no exception.  John Schuman pounded the drums as if his very life depended on it! His intensity was so great, that at one point, he had accidentally knocked over his microphone stand.

As the night continued, the crowd was introduced to more memorable tunes including the bluesy rollicking “Not Another Dime,” the ever so catchy “Fall On The Blade,” and the melancholic “Slow Crash.”

The brooding guitar anthem “You Won’t Remember Me” prompted a crowd sing-a-long. Despite the song being new, the crowd jumped right in with the chorus, “I got high! So high!”

“Just Because” followed with a stripped down funky rhythm courtesy of Adam Schuman and Lauren Stockner. Campbell explained that the song is about society’s expectations for us to find love, marry, and procreate.

Static and Surrender perform at Hotel Cafe. Photo by Jessica Klausing

Static and Surrender perform at Hotel Cafe. Photo by Jessica Klausing

The tempo slowed back down for “Mary Shelley,” a thoughtful and soul searching song just before revving the guitars back up for a spirited rendition of David Bowie’s “Moonage Daydream.”

Ending with “The Very Long Night,” Static and Surrender put on an electrifying performance overall.

Check out Static and Surrender’s debut album. If you get the chance to see them live, do it! Very few artists have that special knack to sound better live than in the studio. Static and Surrender is definitely one of those bands that kick it up a notch in the live shows.

Killing The Vibe
If Only We Could Sleep
Not Another Dime
Fall On The Blade
Slow Crash
You Won’t Remember Me
Just Because
Mary Shelley
Moonage Daydream (David Bowie cover)
The Very Long Night

CONCERT REVIEW: Coby Brown Plays with Heart @ Hollywood's Hotel Cafe

Written by Jessica Klausing

From left to right: David Immerglück, Coby Brown, and Jonny Flaugher. Photo by Jessica Klausing.

From left to right: David Immerglück, Coby Brown, and Jonny Flaugher. Photo by Jessica Klausing.

Coby Brown treated fans to a beautiful, laid-back set in the intimate Second Stage Room at Hollywood’s Hotel Café on Thursday.

Brown is no stranger to the Hollywood music scene. He’s a composer and songwriter who’s had his work featured in numerous films and TV shows; most recently he completed the score for the biopic, “The Man Who Knew Infinity.”  Brown himself is a proficient performer. He exudes tremendous ease on guitar while his soft, pure voice delivers humble lyrics. His band for the night – Jonny Flaugher (upright bass) and David Immerglück (guitar, mandolin, and backing vocals) play like they have been performing all their lives with Brown, moderating their instruments to keep the vocals in the forefront while laying down solos when called for.

Jonny Flaugher photo by Jessica Klausing.

Jonny Flaugher photo by Jessica Klausing.

The opener, “Sunday,” set a mellow tone for the rest of the night. Flaugher’s heavy bass supports Brown’s lyrical narrative as well as his crisp guitar chops. His lyrics are plainspoken but evocative as he sings, “Don’t you talk to me like a dead man/Cause I can do anything you can.”

Brown is an acoustic folk artist, but more importantly, he’s a keen observer able to capture the singer-songwriter genre in the personal stories the lyrics tell, and the sensitive, emotional accompaniment of his band.

David Immerglück photo by Jessica Klausing.

David Immerglück photo by Jessica Klausing.

After a relatively laid back slew of songs, the energy started to pick up on “Living Proof,” with Immerglück’s rousing solo on his red Jazzmaster. He then traded in guitar for the mandolin on “Call and Answer.”

The highlight of the set was “Hospital,” in which Brown strikes an emotional chord through the anxious feelings of fear, the desperation for comfort, and to find a way out of a bad situation. The band followed with “Cigarettes,” a sweeping, honest ballad that captures the pain of watching someone destroy their life through a substance addiction. Brown laments, “Take something beautiful/ fill it up with hate.”

Coby Brown photo by Jessica Klausing.

Coby Brown photo by Jessica Klausing.

Brown closed with “Lived To Tell the Story,” a fitting ending to sum up his experiences to learn from past mistakes in order to move on.

When the evening finally came to an end, Coby Brown and his band left to a roar of applause, ample evidence of a show well done. There’s a soothing sensation that hits you when they first start playing and a satisfaction when they end, and the time between those moments is filled with a sense of trying to make sense of all the loss and heartbreak in life. And for an evening, while we still may not be able to make sense of the pain, it’s comforting to know that things will be alright somehow.

Come On, It's Time to Go
Living Proof
2 Way Street
Without You
Call and Answer
21st Century
Lived To Tell the Story

CONCERT REVIEW: Long Live 'Monks Of Doom' @ LA's Cafe NELA

Written by Jessica Klausing

Victor Krummenacher and David Immerglück of Monks Of Doom. Photo by Jessica Klausing.

Victor Krummenacher and David Immerglück of Monks Of Doom. Photo by Jessica Klausing.

Monks Of Doom are back on tour. Yes, you read this correctly. The surrealist progressive rockers are back in support of their newest album, The Bronte Pin. This album is the first of new material released in 25 years. The long wait, though highly frustrating, was indeed worth it. Victor Krummenacher (vocals, bass, and guitar), David Immerglück (vocals, guitar, bass, and mandolin), Greg Lisher (guitar), and Chris Pederson (drums, percussion) pulled listeners into a post-rock world of cryptic hysteria and psychedelic instrumentals at LA’s Café NELA.

From the psychedelia opening chimes of “Cherry Blossom Baptism,” off the 1991 album, Meridian, this was a strong performance with Lisher as the driving force, well supported in rhythm by Pederson on the back beat. Krummenacher and Immerglück kept the crowd totally encapsulated and mesmerized with their intricate guitar magic.

If there was ever any doubt, this powerful opener just proved that the Monks are still in fine eccentric musical form. The backdrop acted as a screen for colorful patterns that worked with the simple yet effective lighting to immerse the audience. The sound was good despite a few minor issues with the mic levels in the beginning. Overall the setup made for quite an exhilarating experience.

Victor Krummenacher gets ready to open with "Cherry Blossom Baptism." Photo by Jessica Klausing.

Victor Krummenacher gets ready to open with "Cherry Blossom Baptism." Photo by Jessica Klausing.

The set followed with the spacey rock instrumental “In Anticipation Of the Pope,” off the first album, Soundtrack To The Film: “Breakfast On The Beach Of Deception,” the essence of the distinct MOD sound that brought the band to the forefront in 1987.

Next up “Hieroglyphic” ventures into the realms of Ancient Egyptian psychedelia storytelling with  Immerglück overzealously proclaiming, “the sky is pregnant!”

The band seemed in great spirits with Krummenacher and Immerglück bouncing back and forth between playful stage banter introducing the newer tracks. They displayed their esteemed sense of dark humor by casually warning us that things were about to take an ominous turn.

“The Bastards Never Show Themselves” is an eerie moody piece and the way it is delivered exalts the gloom, the doom, and the angst. It’s a heavy bass thump that takes refuge in your mind and refuses to leave. “Up From the Cane,” another new dark one, delves into more heavy driving riffs. The emotion and aggressive energy of the music create a wave of unsettling tension.

David Immergluck shreds. Photo by Jessica Klausing.

David Immergluck shreds. Photo by Jessica Klausing.

As the night progressed on the Monks went back in time to revisit old favorites in their catalog, including “Going South,” “Oh Well,” and “Ukranian Technological Faith Dance.”

The biggest crowd reaction came from the powerhouse instrumental “Vaporize Your Crystals.” This song has a fantastic melodic dual between Lisher and Immerglück. The two attack it with spirited intensity and exuberance. The music ascends, never ceasing, never relenting, and communicating a driving and creative vitality in everything they do.

The set also included the riveting rendition of Syd Barrett’s “Let’s Split,” off the EP, The Insect God, before returning to The Bronte Pin for the ultimate guitar anthem “Osiris Rising,” which features a feverishly stellar guitar solo by Lisher.

Monks Of Doom perform at LA's Cafe NELA. Photo by Jessica Klausing.

Monks Of Doom perform at LA's Cafe NELA. Photo by Jessica Klausing.

Of course, no one was leaving without an encore and the band returned to close out the show with “Voodoo Vengeance,” from The Cosmodemonic Telegraph Company.

The Monks Of Doom tour runs until May 24 in Kingston ,NY. Prog rock fans are highly encouraged to attend but be warned: It’s bizarre, dark, euphoric, but mostly importantly – It’s alive!

Cherry Blossom Baptism
In Anticipation Of The Pope
The Bastards Never Show Themselves
Going South
Up From The Cane
Oh Well
Vaporize Your Crystals
The Better Angels Of Our Nature
The Sinking Of The Essex
Let's Split
Ukranian Technological Faith Dance
Osiris Rising

Voodoo Vengeance

CONCERT REVIEW: Szlachetka's Heart Of My Hometown @ Hollywood's Hotel Cafe

Written by Jessica Klausing

 Szlachetka and his band perform at Hotel Cafe. Photo by Jessica Klausing.

 Szlachetka and his band perform at Hotel Cafe. Photo by Jessica Klausing.

Szlachetka (pronounced SLA-HET-KA) is out on tour in support of his new album release, Heart Of My Hometown. Rolling Stone Magazine praised the album citing Szlachetka as a ‘New Country Artist to Know.’ That was evident as many Angelinos packed into the Second Stage venue at Hollywood’s Hotel Café on Wednesday night. The music was Americana roots rock superb, the storytelling honed the heartland spirit, and with the added chemistry of Szlachetka’s full band— it was transcendence into musical nirvana.

The minute Szlachetka crooned into the steel guitar opener “Algebra” the audience knew it was on a heartfelt journey. Bathed in blue stage lights and clad in a button up faded shirt and jeans, Szlachetka exemplified raw emotion and musical prowess. Delicate guitar strums coupled with rich, warm vocals. Electric guitars cranked up for the rock n’ roll road trip anthem, “Ready To Run Again,” forcing everyone up on their feet.

 Szlachetka photo by Jessica Klausing.

 Szlachetka photo by Jessica Klausing.

Szlachetka followed with the titular, “Heart Of My Hometown,” which prompted many cheers from the audience. Szlachetka bids farewell to his home place in route to a new adventure as he sings, “Farewell/ don’t look back just make ‘em proud/ No matter where I go/can’t let go to the heart of my hometown.”

Szlachetka’s talented bandmates had their own time to shine in the set: Dave “Mustang” Lang (organ, keyboards) brought out the funky soul swag in the Ry Cooder cover of “Jesus On the Mainline,” Derek Brown (drums, percussion) and Kurtis Keber (bass) flawlessly held down the rhythm in “Until That Echo,” and Jillinda Palmer (vocals) and Samantha Smith (vocals) harmonized pitch perfectly in “Don’t You Think It’s Time.”

Heartfelt life lessons were shared in the latter half of the set. “Wildflowers On The Highway” teaches us to look for the beautiful things from the uglier parts in life. In light of the untimely death of a close friend, Szlachetka sorrowfully shares the importance to cherish life in “Cheated Time.”

 Szlachetka closes with "Back Into Your Heart." Photo by Jessica Klausing.

 Szlachetka closes with "Back Into Your Heart." Photo by Jessica Klausing.

Closing with the upbeat “Back Into Your Heart” off the Waits For a Storm to Find album, Szlachetka was greeted with blazing smiles and hearty handclaps as the show came to an end.

Szlachetka performs his eclectic twist on the Americana sub genres, bringing together singer-songwriter sentiments, country western, 1970’s California roots rock, and so much more. His songwriting captures plenty of emotional moments on par with legends like Jackson Browne and Jason Isbell. Szlachetka and his band deliver a top notch intimate performance worthy of a big stadium.

Ready To Run Again
Heart Of My Hometown
Jesus On the Mainline (Ry Cooder cover)
Until That Echo
And I See You Now
Don't You Think It's Time
Giving Back The Best Of Me
Wildflowers On The Highway
Ladder To The Stars
Cheated Time
Back Into Your Heart

CONCERT REVIEW: Snow Patrol Take Back the City @ LA's Fonda Theatre

Gary Lightbody of Snow Patrol photo by @U2Soul/Flickr.

Gary Lightbody of Snow Patrol photo by @U2Soul/Flickr.

"Thanks for coming back," my friend Amy said to singer Gary Lightbody outside Los Angeles' Fonda Theatre last week. "We never weren't coming back," he assured us. It needed to be said anyhow. Gary has been open about the reasons the new Snow Patrol album, Wildness (due May 25th), has taken five years. As an artist with a wide-reaching platform, his frankness regarding his experience with depression will hopefully aid in its destigmatization, and further the discussion around mental health and addiction issues.

During the first song of the April 25th show (the third on their short promo tour), Lightbody kneeled and reached out to a photographer, providing the perfect shot, and received no reaction. "Smile, man!" he prompted good-naturedly between lyrics. "You're really close to me – smile!" Within 60 seconds of taking the stage, he'd both managed to command everyone's attention, and dish out a reminder to be present within the celebratory energy of the room.

I first saw Snow Patrol open for U2 in Ireland in 2005. I was an instant convert; I'd never seen so much joy bursting from one human, such a glowing smile, such a connection to the earth, the sky, the people. Despite the singer's ongoing struggles, and some vocal issues and technical false starts on the night, he is, with remarkable resilience, still smiling. “It’s one of the most incredible feelings, and I forgot," he said of being on stage. "Now I fucking remember.”

The same energy sparked from every corner of the stage – guitarist Nathan Connolly dancing up a storm, bassist Paul "Pablo" Wilson singing every word, keyboardist Johnny McDaid’s eyes twinkling.

Gary Lightbody and Minnie Driver perform photo by @U2Soul/Flickr.

Gary Lightbody and Minnie Driver perform photo by @U2Soul/Flickr.

Hearing the old songs live again was a blast. In the context of the evening, "Take Back the City" became a love song to LA, Lightbody's second home, with the honourary Angeleno opening his arms as if to embrace us. "Crack the Shutters" was joyful and reverent as ever; "Make This Go On Forever" a captivating, desperate plea. Minnie Driver even showed up to duet on "Set Fire to the Third Bar."

The group, supported by the force that is Jonny Quinn on drums, is adept at mixing straight-forward rock with more intimate moments, sometimes within the space of seconds. Halting the steady thump of "Shut Your Eyes" to silence, Gary turned the chorus over to the crowd, conducting us to build from a “sexy” whisper to a bellow.  

Outshining the hits, the new tunes were the real stars of the night. They are solid and catchy as ever, but lyrically cut deeper, wider. Fallen Empires, the previous Snow Patrol album, explored themes beyond typical relationship fodder, such as home, family, and childhood, and the Wildness songs previewed at the Fonda reveal an even broader scope of universality. I can’t help but think of the poem “The Summer Day” by Mary Oliver: Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

The first single, "Don't Give In," with its Don't you dare quit so easy chorus, acts as a buoy in a bleak world. Don't say you want it forever*, Gary sings of the darkness. Anyone who's been in the abyss knows its appeal. Connolly adds a particularly blistering riff that alone might convince anyone in doubt that life is worth living.

[*When the album was released, I realised this lyric was actually Don’t say you won’t live forever, which is equally devastating.]

Snow Patrol photo by Courtney Lavender.

Snow Patrol photo by Courtney Lavender.

"Empress," inspired by producer Jacknife Lee’s kids, seemed in part a tribute to the communal nature of live music, and also contained the singular, glorious truth that We’re all just human in the end. For an additional shot of pure perspective, you get the clincher, This is so damn simple, a reminder to reevaluate any useless preoccupation.

The mark of a great singer is measured less by vocal quality, and more by believability. Do you believe what you are singing? Do others believe you when you sing it? Though he may have tripped up technically at points, I never once doubted what Gary was communicating, nor did anyone in the rapt audience. "Heal Me" was dedicated to someone who saved his life. I've been standing in the fire for way too long, he sang, and I could feel the flames.

"Life on Earth" might be one of the best tunes the band has written. Murky, moody verses are countered with a simplistic, shouty chorus that cuts to the bone – It doesn’t need to be so fucking hard / It doesn't need to be the end of you or me / This is life on earth / It’s just life on earth. BE HERE NOW, the song insists, before three layers of harmony shoot you soaring into space.

Gary Lightbody photo by Courtney Lavender.

Gary Lightbody photo by Courtney Lavender.

Of course, in true Snow Patrol fashion, the vibe wasn't a heavy one, and the band/audience rapport elicited some hilarious banter. Gary spied a sign declaring I LOVE YOU with his name literally in lights. “Now I feel shy.” Another: Popping my Snow Patrol cherry tonight. “I’m not reading any more signs.” Later he admitted that the encore break was long because he had to have a pee and the bathroom was far away.

Perhaps one of the best things about this band is that their casual stage presence eliminates the barrier between performer and crowd, making you forget they’ve had a mega hit. It’s just you and them sharing a theatre with a few strangers, singing together, and laughing about being alive.

After the "long" break, Lightbody and McDaid returned alone for an absolute show-stopper called "What if This is All the Love You Ever Get." Bathed in magenta, motionless but for his hands, Gary delivered the most seemingly hopeless statement with delicately defiant hope. What if it hurts like hell? Then it’ll hurt like hell. It was a flawless performance –  passionate and plaintive, full of empathy, acceptance and gratitude. Why do we search unsatisfied, when what we need is all around us? I’m in the ruins too / I know the wreckage so well / Come on over, come on over here / What if this is all the love you'll ever get?

Their usual set-closer, "Just Say Yes," ended the night on a jubilant note. We could dance. Thanks for coming back.

Open Your Eyes
Take Back the City
Called Out in the Dark
Don't Give In
Crack the Shutters
Heal Me
Set the Fire to the Third Bar
Life on Earth
Make This Go on Forever
Shut Your Eyes
Chasing Cars
You're All I Have

What if This is All the Love You Ever Get
Just Say Yes

CONCERT REVIEW: Umphrey's McGee Blows Minds @ LA's Wiltern

Written by Jessica Klausing

Umphrey's McGee photo by Paul Citone.

Umphrey's McGee photo by Paul Citone.

Umphrey’s McGee entranced the Los Angeles’ Wiltern theater for two, high energy-packed sets.

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.

If you’re not familiar with these technically adept musicians then you might be a bit overwhelmed. At any given minute, the band may take a blues ballad and feverishly drive it into a tripped out psychedelic groove. Their classic hits are consistently being re-worked into a whole new sound.

The die-hard UM fans or “Umphreaks” will proudly express how each show is a completely different mind-blowing experience. Umphrey’s is known for their extended complex instrumental jams and abruptly switching songs mid way only to be re-visited later on in the set.  

Organ Freeman photo by Paul Citone.

Organ Freeman photo by Paul Citone.

The opener, Organ Freeman heated up the night with some organ centered instrumental jams. Rob Humphreys (drums), Trevor Steer (organ, key bass), and Erik Carlson (guitar) manage to intricate a funky aesthetic into their peppy soulful grooves. The trio had everyone up and swaying to the beat.

Umphrey’s came out next and launched right into the rock heavy hitter, “Dark Brush,” followed by the funkier “Bad Friday.” The first set comprised mostly of progressive rock melodies with Brendan Bayliss (guitar, vocals) and Jake Cinninger (guitar, vocals) alternating vocals between hard shredding electric riffs and bluesy stripped down rhythms.

Jefferson Waful (Umphrey's McGee Lighting Designer). Photo by Paul Citone.

Jefferson Waful (Umphrey's McGee Lighting Designer). Photo by Paul Citone.

After a twenty minute intermission, Umphrey’s returned with a more electronic trance fused second set, forcing everyone back up on their feet for “Wappy Sprayberry.” “The Floor” followed with Kris Myers (drums, vocals) and Andy Farag (percussion) flawlessly interweaving powerful percussions within the dreamy arrangements.

Without warning, Ryan Stasik (bass) rips us back in to the rock n’ roll endeavor “JaJunk.” Before closing out the set, Umphrey’s treated fans to a transcendental rendition of the Talking Heads’ “Once in a Lifetime.” The performance left many excited whispers exchanged throughout the venue.

From left to right: Ryan Stasik (bass), Brendan Bayliss (guitar, vocals), and Jake Cinninger (guitar, vocals). Photo by Paul Citone.

From left to right: Ryan Stasik (bass), Brendan Bayliss (guitar, vocals), and Jake Cinninger (guitar, vocals). Photo by Paul Citone.

Umphrey’s McGee continues to astound with their precise technically crafted musicianship, their vast variety in sound over their discography and their ability to create sophisticated and fun-loving tracks to just dance to and enjoy. If you’re looking for a band that challenges the multi genre scope, Umphrey’s McGee is well worth the listen!


Set I:

Dark Brush

Bad Friday


Example 1

Rocker Part 2



 Set II:

Wappy Sprayberry

The Floor

Booth Love


Once in a Lifetime (Talking Heads cover)

Maybe Someday



The Silent Type

CONCERT REVIEW: Backstreet Boys: Larger Than Life @The AXIS in Las Vegas

Written by Jessica Klausing

Backstreet Boys (from left: Kevin Richardson, Howie Dorough, AJ McLean (behind Howie), Nick Carter, and Brian Littrell photo by Jessica Klausing.

Backstreet Boys (from left: Kevin Richardson, Howie Dorough, AJ McLean (behind Howie), Nick Carter, and Brian Littrell photo by Jessica Klausing.

24 years later, Backstreet Boys have still got it goin’ on.

With over 130 million records sold worldwide, it’s only evident that the best selling boy band have a Las Vegas residency.  Over 4,000 fans packed into Planet Hollywood’s AXIS Theater on Saturday for a thrilling 90 minute trip down memory lane.

The nostalgia began with a 10 minute Backstreet Boys music video montage. Remixed video snippets chronicled through their 24 years and still going strong career. Every video from the classic, “We’ve Got it Goin’ On” to the most recent “Show ‘Em What You’re Made Of” flashed upon five large TV monitors. Fans squealed with glee—for the first five minutes. The montage did feel like it would go on forever. Many fans started to voice out their frustration quickly. Finally the curtain was drawn for our boys!

Brian Littrell and AJ McLean perform. Photo by Jessica Klausing.

Brian Littrell and AJ McLean perform. Photo by Jessica Klausing.

At 09:20PM, Kevin Richardson, AJ McLean, Howie Dorough, Brian Littrell, and Nick Carter, dressed in their Millennium album-esque white suits, floated down onto the stage from large boxes inside the AXIS and belted right into “Larger Than Life.”

It was like 1999 never ended.

The boys, who might I add, are still as dreamy as ever, flawlessly hit their vocal ranges without missing a dance step. Each Backstreet still lives up to their classic boy band persona: AJ the Bad Boy with his sunglasses on, Brian the Jokester with his silly faces, Nick the Heartthrob with his flirtatious winks, Howie D the Sweetie, who was all smiles, and Kevin the Leader, who effortlessly led the group from one ballad to another.

“Vegas can’t rid of Backstreet. Backstreet is here to stay!” bellows AJ into a mic.

The Backstreet residency opened in March and was originally scheduled for a 26 date run. Due to popular demand, the dates extended to November, January, and February. Fans swiped these tickets so fast that it set the record as the fastest selling residency in history.

Kevin Richardson during "As Long As you Love Me." Photo by Jessica Klausing.

Kevin Richardson during "As Long As you Love Me." Photo by Jessica Klausing.

“How many of you used to have naughty thoughts about the Backstreet Boys?” asks Nick to a crowd of screaming fangirls. “Well, tonight we are all yours!”

Backstreet crooned out all of the iconic hits such as “Quit Playing Games (With My Heart), “I Want it That Way,” “I’ll Never Break Your Heart,” and “As Long as You Love Me,” complete with the signature folding chair dance routine.

The boys retreated to the second stage for the slower ballads such as “Drowning” and “Incomplete.” Nick broke out into *NSYNC’s “Bye Bye Bye” as a gag before exiting the stage. His particular song choice received many ‘boos’ throughout the venue. I guess the infamous Backstreet Boys VS *NSYNC fan wars still lives on.

Howie Dorough and Kevin Richardson at The AXIS. Photo by Jessica Klausing.

Howie Dorough and Kevin Richardson at The AXIS. Photo by Jessica Klausing.

The “Boys Will Be Boys” video interlude was a throwback treat. As the song played out, many candid photos and home videos of Backstreet’s early days flashed upon the large stage monitor. It was fun yet bittersweet at the same time. Our boys are well into their 40’s with wives and children now. We fans have grown up quite a bit too. The times have changed.

The second half of the set featured more Black and Blue album hits such as “Get Another Boyfriend,” “More Than That,” and “Shape of My Heart.”

“The Call” turned up the heat with its Fifty Shades of Grey type vibe in the beginning. The backup dancers strutted onstage in shiny leather with whips. Only in Vegas!

Brian took a moment to wish all of the veterans a Happy Veterans Day. “We would not be safe without you. Thank you for your service!”

Backstreet Boys closed out the show with the fan favorite, “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back).” Pink and purple confetti busted through the ceiling as the boys took a well deserved bow.

“Backstreet Boys: Larger Than Life” is a must for any Backstreet fan. The 20 song set features all of the greatest hits plus a few surprises. You’ll experience super stardom fit for a mega arena in an intimate setting. Backstreet’s back and this time, up close and personal.


Larger Than Life

The One

Get Down (You’re the One for Me)



Quit Playing Games (With My Heart)

Boys Will Be Boys (Video Interlude)

Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely

I’ll Never Break Your Heart

Anywhere for You/Darlin’/Undone medley

As Long as You Love Me

The Call

We’ve Got it Goin’ On

Get Another Boyfriend

More Than That

All I Have to Give

It’s Gotta Be You/Straight Through My Heart medley

Shape Of My Heart

I Want It That Way


Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)

CONCERT REVIEW: Tetrarch breaks the trend at West Hollywood's Whisky A Go Go

Written by Jessica Klausing

Tetrarch (from left: Ryan Lerner, Diamond Rowe, Josh Fore, and Ruben Limas).

Tetrarch (from left: Ryan Lerner, Diamond Rowe, Josh Fore, and Ruben Limas).

Tetrarch is a Nu Metalcore band on the music radar in Los Angeles. After interviewing Diamond Rowe and Ryan Lerner back in 2011 for the EP, The Will to Fight, I have been dying to see Tetrarch live ever since. Reminiscent of Metallica and Korn, Tetrarch boasts self-reflective lyrics and jackhammering melodies. If you’re a fan of the intense and emotional, then look no further.

Tetrarch recently finished their Summer/Fall tour with DevilDriver, 36 Crazyfists, Cane Hill, and Uncured. I managed to see Tetrarch open the show on Wednesday at West Hollywood’s Whisky A Go Go.

From the moment, the four piece ensemble roared onstage bathed in a midnight blue light with the opener, “Break the Trend" off the new album, Freak, I just knew this was about to be a killer gig!

Frontman/Rhythm guitarist Josh Fore reminded me of Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington vocally. Fore embodied Bennington’s angst filled emotions and higher belted screams. It was a shame there was not a large audience to showcase this talent, but that did not affect the performance. Fore kept the audience chit chat to a minimal to let the music speak for itself.

Tetrarch performs "Oddity" photo by Jessica Klausing

Tetrarch performs "Oddity" photo by Jessica Klausing

“Oddity” was the second new song of the night. Fore and Bassist Ryan Lerner offered plenty of attitude, engaging the audience. The song served as a pissed off stick-it-to-the-man kinda anthem. You know, the type of song that makes you want to break things!

The Whisky’s pit became lightning in a bottle with hand bangs and fists pumping at intense speed.  I’ll never forget that one guy determined to out guttural scream the venue!

“Relentless” was my favorite. The song praises one’s individuality despite what the haters may think. “Push me around with all the twisted words you speak/Feeding me lies just to please you/I’ll never be like you/Not like you,” Fore belted out to a cheering crowd.

Tetrarch performs at West Hollywood's Whisky A Go Go. Photo by Jessica Klausing

Tetrarch performs at West Hollywood's Whisky A Go Go. Photo by Jessica Klausing

The band closed out with “We are the Hunters.” Lead guitarist Diamond Rowe, Lerner, and Fore waved their stringed instruments and head banged together in perfect unison. Watching Rowe and Lerner switch stage sides without missing a beat was an impressive feature. Ruben Limas was a powerhouse drumming machine that night. His broken drumsticks after the show proves he’s a force to be reckoned with!

My only complaint was that the 20 minute set was way too short. A four song setlist just left me wanting more. After the set, I went straight to the merch booth to pre-order their newest album, Freak. The album officially released on September 29. I highly recommend it to all metalheads. Tetrarch’s music praises individuality with the confidence to back it up. No doubt that these guys will be the headliners soon.


Break the Trend



We are the Hunters

CONCERT REVIEW: YARN @ NYC's American Beauty

Written by Eric Ruth

Yarn photo by Eric Ruth

Yarn photo by Eric Ruth

My friend Sandi and I made it to the American Beauty after catching a train and trekking through the rain. Side note: The venue's name is taken from the Grateful Dead's first album, American Beauty.

Upon arrival members of the band came over to say hello to me. They all gave me a big hug and asked me how I was doing. Yarn's acoustic guitar player and harmony man Trevor asked me what concerts I've been to lately. We talked about bumping into each other at a Ryan Adams concert. I can't think of any other band, small or famous, who is that nice and down to earth. They genuinely care about you and make you feel welcomed.

After I talked to the band I set up shop. I placed my book bag down on one of the couches which is off to the side of the venue and then wondered around. I got to watch a few innings of the Yankee game on the TVs' in the front bar. The venue is broken into two sections. When you first walk in you have a bar, some tables, and stairs which leads to the free pizza. Every drink comes with a ticket for free pizza. Beyond the bar is a set of doors which leads you to another room with a stage, couches, dancing cages, and another bar. It's a small cozy room with a great sound.

At about a little after nine the lights went down and the house music came to a stop. The opening band Kevin Harrison & True North took the stage. I'll be honest and say I knew very little about them. I sampled one song before the show. They sounded like a cross between The Black Crowes and Rob Thomas. I know that's a weird combo. The guitars were a little Southern Fried Rock mixed with some Rob Thomas vocals.

I only heard Rob on some songs but it was enough of a sample size to take notice. The band had a generic set up with two guitars players, bass, and drums. Nothing special or earth shattering. I perked up when they played a cover of "Midnight Rider" and some song about NYC. Before you know their set was over and the lights came on and the house music began to play.

Ricky B plays the upright bass photo by Sandi Atkinson.

Ricky B plays the upright bass photo by Sandi Atkinson.

Shorty after the opening band was done, Yarn made their way to the stage. They opened with a new unreleased song called "In the Moonlight." It's one of my favorites. Not many people in the crowd other then me knew this song. This fact did not matter because less then a minute into the song everyone was on their feet dancing up a storm.

After that song came to an end the band played "Now You're Gone" off of the band's most recent studio album, This Is The Year. Some bands take a few songs to get warmed up. Not Yarn. They came out swinging from the minute they took the stage. They have so much energy. They literally play like it's their last show on earth.

Yarn's bass player Ricky started out with his long hair tied back in a man bun, but as the night progressed on, his man bun came undone. His long hair started flying everywhere as he thumped on the upright bass. Sweat dripped everywhere! After playing more songs new and old the band had time for one more. They decided to throw out a curve ball. Yarn may be categorized as an Americana band, however, they are so much more. They effortlessly blend classic Country, Folk/Folk Rock, Singalongs, and Jams to create the Yarn sound.

However this curve ball proved that they can also play some 70's Disco. That's right Yarn played a cover of KC and the Sunshine band's "Get Down Tonight." This song got the crowd in a frenzy. The place turned into a disco. Is there anything Yarn can't do? Once the song came to an end the lights came on and the house music began to play one final time. Before leaving the venue the band came over to ask me how I liked the show.

Like a fine wine.... I swear this band gets better with each show. Unlike established bands who have roadies to set up and dismantle the stage Yarn has to do it all. This includes driving their own van and paying for gas and a place to sleep. They don't live in the lap of luxury and they truly do this for the love of the music. After a final goodbye I pulled a flyer off of the wall and headed back home.

Go see Yarn if you ever get the chance. I guarantee you'll have a good time. If not your next drink is on me.


In the Moonlight

Now You're Gone


Heaven in You

Down on your Luck

Bobby Weeks

Music's Only Outlaw


I Let You Down

This is the Year

Long Way To Texas

Bad Bad Man

Strikes and Gutters

Sioux City Gypsy

Turn The Lights Off

I'm the Man

Get Down Tonight (KC and The Sunshine Band Cover)

CONCERT REVIEW: Umphrey's McGee at NYC's Central Park

Written by Eric Ruth

Where do I begin?

 I missed my train and then ended up getting lost in NYC. When I finally made my way to Central Park, I was in for a surprise. I was nervous that the line would be out of control. Instead, there was only about a dozen or so people in line. While everyone was standing over to the left, I decided to go over to the right, and just go straight to the front of the line. 

Once inside I made my way to the rail where I got to stand front row in the center of all the action! The guy to the right of me just got back from going on tour with Dead and Co. The guy to the left of me just got back from seeing Umphrey's McGee at Red Rocks. We actually made room so a 12-year-old kid could enjoy the show from the front row. This kid plays the piano and got an opportunity to play with with Umphrey's, Taz and has opened up for Billy and the Kids. His dad was with him and showed us photos.

The opening act, Aqueous, came out to play a total of two songs! The first song lasted at least 20 minutes long. The band announced that they only had "one more song for us." After the second song, they left the stage. That was it.

After a quick change over it was showtime. Some bands take three songs to get warmed up. Not Umphrey's. They came out like gangbusters. It was balls to wall intensity. They turned it up to 11 from the start.


Ryan Stasik photo by Eric Ruth

Ryan Stasik photo by Eric Ruth

However, problems arose within the first verse of the opener, "October Rain." This issue led the band, especially Ryan Stasik, the bass player, to curse and storm off the stage. Ryan was having issues with his bass. They tried to do a quick fix while the band continued to play. Instead, they had to leave the stage while the crew fixed the problem. After if was fixed they came back out to a loud cheer from the crowd.

The band returned with the electrifying “Miss Tinkle’s Overture” featuring stellar guitar harmonies from Jake Cinninger and Brendan Bayliss. There were no breaks to be had, folks. The only break happened during the set break. These guys were on fire for the duration of the show.

From left to right: Ryan Stasik, Jake Cinninger and Brendan Baylass. Photo by Eric Ruth.

From left to right: Ryan Stasik, Jake Cinninger and Brendan Baylass. Photo by Eric Ruth.

The biggest surprise came during "Uptopian Fir." The band played bits of Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love." The band played with so much passion that it started to rain. Just kidding. Of course, it did actually start to rain. Gallons of water poured from the sky but it did not perturb the fans. Everyone stayed put still in awe of the show.

Whether you're a fan of Prog Rock, Heavy Metal, Psychedelic, Funk, Jazz or Electronic music-- Umphrey's McGee has you covered. The band easily weaves its way through lots of different musical styles sometimes all within the same song to create a sound all their own.

P.S. Don't forget your dancing shoes. 




  • October Rain 
  • Bridgeless
  • Miss Tinkle's Overture
  • 2 x 2
  • Example 1 
  • Dump City 
  • Bridgeless


  • Plunger 
  • North Route 
  • Utopian Fir
  • Driven to Tears  
  • Preamble 
  • Mantis 
  • The Triple Wide   
  • Mantis


  • Rocker Part 2

CONCERT REVIEW: Kingdom Hearts Orchestra Evokes Nostalgia at Hollywood's Dolby Theatre

Written by Jessica Klausing

I spent my Sunday night in Hollywood for the Kingdom Hearts Orchestra World Tour. From the melancholic opener to the victorious finale, it was a night of adventure! These scores pull you into an emotional whirlwind of highs and lows. Many laughs and tears were shared within the Dolby Theatre as an orchestra performed a beloved Disney and Square Enix video game franchise.

Kingdom Hearts follows Sora, Donald, and Goofy as they fight off shadowy creatures who steal people’s hearts. This universe combines Disney and Final Fantasy characters in a tale of overcoming darkness through light. In honor of its 15th anniversary, Disney Concerts, Square Enix and La Fee Sauvage brings these touching stories to life through cinematic orchestration.

Following Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses, the concert featured video footage from the game saga on three large screens. The large screens are mesmerizing. The opener, “Hikari,” gave viewers the illusion of being with Sora, Donald, and Goofy in the Dream Drop Distance introduction.

Photo by NintendoWire

Photo by NintendoWire

The hauntingly beautiful piano centered “Dearly Beloved” took us on a live-action stroll through the woodlands. “Twinkle Twinkle Holidays” had no stock footage. A visual would have been a nice gesture. However, this piece gave the incredibly talented Los Angeles Philharmonic Concert Orchestra the much deserved spotlight.

“The World of Kingdom Hearts” re-visits many fan favorite levels such as Olympus Coliseum, Halloween Town, Beast’s Castle, Neverland and more. The orchestra beautifully captured the symphony’s more whimsical moments and then let loose into a dramatic boss battle. The cinematography timed out perfectly through each transition. No glitches or issues.

“Destati” was a powerful piece. Hearing the choir chant out the solemn Italian lyrics sent chills down my spine. Each boom of the rhythm section gave it a real end of the world vibe. The choir upped the emotional dosage again for Roxas’s theme in the characters’ medley. Fans were reminded of his sacrifice to awaken Sora in the Kingdom Hearts II prologue. It’s astounding how a short composition can pack an angst filled punch to the gut.

On a brighter note, the concert included three exclusive voice sequences from Japanese actors Risa Uchida (Kairi/Xion) and Megumi Toyoguchi (Aqua), which were recorded exclusively for the orchestration. Kingdom Hearts director Tetsuya Nomura made a surprise appearance after the Kingdom Hearts III trailer. According to Nomura, a huge Kingdom Hearts announcement will be made at the Disney Expo this year!

Kingdom Hearts composer Yoko Shimomura came onstage to play piano for the closer, “Passion.” I wish we could have heard Hikaru Utada’s vocals but the instrumental version was still compelling. I left the theatre eager to break out my old Playstation 2 to relive the adventure again.

The Kingdom Hearts Orchestra is a nostalgic wave of emotion. Hearing these scores performed live rekindled my fond memories of playing the games for the first time. The combination of stunning visuals and a rich sound is breathtaking. The orchestra puts on a flawless performance. I highly recommend checking it out.


ACT 1:

Hikari (Kingdom Hearts Orchestra Instrumental Version)

Dearly Beloved (Kingdom Hearts II Version)


Organization XIII

Twinkle Twinkle Holidays

Treasured Memories

The World of Kingdom Hearts

Fate of the Unknown

Threats of the Land: Kingdom Hearts Battle Medley

ACT 2:

Heroes and Heroines: Characters’ Medley

Lazy Afternoons (At Dusk I Will Think Of You)

Vector to the Heavens

Wave of Darkness

Daybreak Town: The Heart of X

The Other Promise

Let Darkness Assemble: Final Boss Battle Medley

Passion (Kingdom Hearts Orchestra Instrumental Version)

CONCERT REVIEW: U2 Lights Up The Joshua Tree at Pasadena's Rose Bowl

Written by Jessica Klausing

U2 photo by Harlene Dryden.

U2 photo by Harlene Dryden.

A U2 fan told me she stood over 12 hours in line in the 97 degree heat to see the iconic Irishmen this past Sunday. She was not alone. Thousands of other die-hard fans braved heat exhaustion outside Pasadena’s Rose Bowl Stadium just to ensure a good spot in the general admission pit.

Performing their inspiring lyrics and soaring guitar anthems with vitality, U2 makes it evident during their concerts why they have such a loyal fan base.

U2—comprised of vocalist Bono, guitarist and keyboardist The Edge, bassist Adam Clayton, and drummer Larry Mullen Jr. –came out to play a mind blowing two-hour set in honor of their groundbreaking 1987 album, The Joshua Tree.

The Joshua Tree ponders the core values of the American dream. These tracks reflect drug addiction, war, death, and discrimination. These powerful themes are every bit as relevant now as they were in the 80s.

The Edge photo by Harlene Dryden.

The Edge photo by Harlene Dryden.

The band took the B-stage for the opener, “Sunday Bloody Sunday” off the 1983 album, War. Next, The Edge riffed right into the ‘lightning in a bottle’ jam, “New Year’s Day.” Bono delivered a passionate plea for peace in “Pride (In the Name of Love)” from The Unforgettable Fire, which pays tribute to the late Martin Luther King Jr. before moving to the main stage, where the real treat was in store.

Fans were awed as a giant black Joshua tree silhouette was illuminated against an enormous blood-red LED screen.

U2 starts The Joshua Tree tour at Pasadena's Rose Bowl Stadium. Photo by Jessica Klausing.

U2 starts The Joshua Tree tour at Pasadena's Rose Bowl Stadium. Photo by Jessica Klausing.

“Where the Streets Have No Name” and “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” provided a theme park motion simulator ride experience with a walking tour through Death Valley. The band performed “With Or Without You” in front of the majestic Zabriskie Point.  Vibrant multi-colored Joshua trees lit up the night during “In God’s Country.” A full pink moon shined on “One Tree Hill.” The song was dedicated to Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell, who passed away a week ago.

The tempo slowed down with the darker themed “Running to Stand Still,” which featured a beautiful musical interplay between Bono’s harmonica and The Edge’s keyboard. The duo showed off their stellar chemistry to the roaring approval of the stadium.

Bono chats with the crowd. Photo by Harlene Dryden.

Bono chats with the crowd. Photo by Harlene Dryden.

“Thank you for letting us Irish into your country. We promise not to leave it as it is,” said Bono.

U2’s music is well known for its politically and socially powered messages. Bono sprinkled his thoughts on equality and the need to unite rather than divide throughout the show, and utilized the screen to drive the point home.

Before “Exit” the screen played a clip from the 1958 western, Trackdown, depicting a sleazy salesman named Walter Trump who tries to frighten a small town into building a protective wall.

“Miss Sarajevo” brought the attention to the current U.S. immigration policy with a clip of a young Syrian girl who dreams of coming to America, a place she refers to as a civil land of dreams where people can be happy. A large banner of the girl was passed around the stadium as Bono cried out “Here she comes/heads turn around/here she comes/to take her crown.”

Bono sings "Beautiful Day." Photo by Harlene Dryden.

Bono sings "Beautiful Day." Photo by Harlene Dryden.

“If we don’t organize, then we agonize. Nothing scares the shite out of the government more than when millions get organized,” Bono advised.

The mood picked back up for the encore.

“Beautiful Day” brought joy accompanied by a psychedelic light show.  Bono’s signature raspy vocals weaved through The Edge’s pitch shifter during the bridge, as Bono changed the lyrics to sing about Los Angeles.

“Ultraviolet (Light My Way)” honored all women, using the LED screen to flash images of historical female figures such as Oprah Winfrey, Rosa Parks, Ellen DeGeneres, and Susan B. Anthony, to name a few.

Larry Mullen Jr. photo by Harlene Dryden.

Larry Mullen Jr. photo by Harlene Dryden.

U2 closed out the show with a new song, “The Little Things That Give You Away.” This new song is to be featured on the upcoming release, Songs of Experience, which serves as the sequel to the 2014 album, Songs of Innocence.

U2: The Joshua Tree Tour is not to be missed! The band revisits their post punk roots through the desert imagery and symbolic ‘American Dream’ ideology. These classics may be over three decades old but this band still performs them with as much heart and soul as the day they were recorded. Visually and musically inspiring, U2 continues to raise the bar on the live concert experience.



Sunday Bloody Sunday

New Year’s Day

Pride (In the Name of Love)

Where the Streets Have No Name

I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For

With Or Without You

Bullet the Blue Sky

Running to Stand Still

Red Hill Mining Town

In God’s Country

Trip Through Your Wires

One Tree Hill


Mothers of the Disappeared


Miss Sarajevo



Beautiful Day


Ultraviolet (Light My Way)


The Little Things That Give You Away

CONCERT REVIEW: Essence Inspires at Hollywood's Hotel Cafe

Written by Jessica Klausing

From left to right: Kevin Glaz (guitars), Essence, and Danny Eisenberg (keys) at Hotel Cafe. Photo by Jessica Klausing.

From left to right: Kevin Glaz (guitars), Essence, and Danny Eisenberg (keys) at Hotel Cafe. Photo by Jessica Klausing.

Hotel Café may be the best music venue in Los Angeles. This place is a treasure trove of profiling indie talent. Last Thursday night I was introduced to San Francisco singer-songwriter Essence (Yes that is her real name) and her brutally honest poetry-in-motion lyrics.

Essence performed all of the songs off her fifth and newest release, Black Wings. The album chronicles her struggles in a failed marriage through humor and wit. In an industry overrun with many sugar-coated breakup songs, Essence is not about any of that! Songs like “Bullshit” are a raw look into the uglier side of a declining 10-year relationship. Essence explained that this album was her therapeutic way to let it go. And she does just that.

Essence opened her show with “Headed North,” a cowboy ballad about venturing out into the unknown. Essence’s honey-sweet voice laced with sass and a strong pluck of her guitar set the mood as she sings, “I’m headed north/Don’t try to find me.” Dana Miller would pound the drum as a dramatic reinforcement to her determination.

Essence and Ethan Gold perform "1000 Pieces." Photo by Jessica Klausing.

Essence and Ethan Gold perform "1000 Pieces." Photo by Jessica Klausing.

More fiery passion followed in “Camels & Diesel,” as she belts out, “I think it’s time you done give back what you stole.” Of course, nothing compares to her rebellious howl in “Still Running.” Bassist Mike Anderson and Guitarist Kevin Glaz even upped the Southern Rock dosage with the unembellished chords. Those unfamiliar with Essence’s music received a shot of Whiskey to the system with that one.

Essence covered Kris Delmhorst’s “Honeyed Out” beautifully, but it was her softer “1000 Pieces” that touched the crowd. Ethan Gold came onstage to lend his backup vocals. Essence bared her soul with “There goes the last of my heart/What’s lost can never be found.” Keyboardist Danny Eisenberg really shined on this tune. His precision-like keys helped capture the power within the song’s vulnerability.

In between songs, Essence regaled the stories behind each of them, a memorable one being the title track, “Black Wings,” a dry humored tune about falling in love with a toxic person. Strumming a Ukulele, she declares, “I found you/You found me/You’re fucked up enough for me.”  Other notable songs of the night were “Over My Head,” an anxious track about meeting her husband’s prostitute and “She Said,” a song inspired by her grandmother’s friend advising her to never settle for less.

Essence at Hotel Cafe. Photo by Jessica Klausing

Essence at Hotel Cafe. Photo by Jessica Klausing

Essence closed out the show with “Roots,” in which she leaves us with a verse of wisdom, “The future aint the same as the past.”

Essence’s music is a gift to the Americana genre. Her lyrics are simply put yet bold enough to reflect the sad reality. Her music guides you on a personal journey of finding redemption through heartbreak. It’s a common theme that most young women face today. Thankfully Essence is that reassuring voice that inspires new beginnings.



Headed North

Camels & Diesel

Still Running

Honeyed Out

1000 Pieces

Black Wings


Over My Head

She Said


CONCERT REVIEW: Blake Morgan and Janita: The Dynamic Duo at Hollywood's Hotel Cafe

Written by Jessica Klausing

Blake Morgan and Janita at Hotel Cafe. Picture by Jessica Klausing

Blake Morgan and Janita at Hotel Cafe. Picture by Jessica Klausing

Blake Morgan and Janita have remarkable musical chemistry! Both are masters of poetry-in-motion storytelling and guitar talent. Separately, their music is unique; Morgan is more pop rock while Janita leans more towards the blues. Together their music blends deliciously into a dreamy soulful concoction. Honest, heartfelt, inspiring, and passion were heard last Thursday on the second stage of Hotel Café.

To say Blake Morgan is a busy man is an understatement. He’s a recording artist, producer, founder and owner of ECR Music Group, and most notably, the founder of the #IRespectMusic campaign. The campaign supports the artist pay for radio play. This ethical movement has received national attention with over 13,000 signatures in support of the Fair Pay, Fair Play Act. His love for music really shines through on stage.

Blake Morgan. Photo by Jessica Klausing

Blake Morgan. Photo by Jessica Klausing

Blake Morgan opened his set with the beautiful piano ballad, “Haunt Me.” His grace with the keys was like the gentle raindrops on a rooftop. Next, he picked up his custom made Gretsch Silver Jet guitar for “I Can Hear You Say,” off the album, Diamonds in the Dark. Morgan played through each song with such precision-like care. Nothing felt rushed or overly done. The night was pure magic as he mesmerized with his guitar, keyboard, and bell-pure vocals.  

Two new songs were introduced into the set. “We Won’t Look Down” was reminiscent of a Coldplay tune with Morgan’s Chris Martin-esque ‘woos.’ “Violent Delights” was a much grittier alternative rockin’ tune but still relatively chill.

Morgan’s music invites listeners into his intimate space. His songs are mostly mini-dramas about love, heartbreak, and the lingering nostalgia. One example was “We Left Off.” This song is about Morgan’s breakup from a failed relationship. As he strummed the melancholic guitar chords his voice cracked a bit during “I don’t know where I begin,” which made the song more emotional.

The pace picked back up with the upbeat “My Love is Waiting.” More glee followed when Janita joined in for the closer, “Don’t Want to Let You Go.” The duo captivated through lush call and answer vocals. This song was merely a taste of what was yet to come.

Janita. Photo by Jessica Klausing

Janita. Photo by Jessica Klausing

After a brief intermission, Janita took the stage with Blake Morgan as the backup this time. Opening with “Beautiful You Are,” Janita belted out pitch perfect notes that had left everyone speechless. Her music bares the soul of a woman that refuses to be put down.

Comfortably dressed in a dark business suit, Janita’s sheer confidence and wit were quite infectious.

“Who’s Gonna Tell the Wolf She’s Not a Dog” reigns girl power with “I used to do tricks/I used run after sticks/I used to play with all you pricks/I call no one master/I own my own body/I own my own brain.” Her tone softened in “I Forgive You,” a hauntingly beautiful new song about letting go of the hatred to move on.  

The set continued with mostly songs from Didn’t You, My Dear?  Produced by Blake Morgan for ECR Music Group, the new album shares her experiences as a Finnish immigrant.

Before launching into “No Excuses” Janita opened up about the hardships of an immigrant trying to become a US Citizen.  This hard driver served as a “musical fuck you” to the current U.S. Immigration law.

She switched gears for the bluesy Tom Wait’s cover of “Clap Hands” then returned for more soul-baring in “What My Silence Means.” Ending the evening with a cover of the Finn Brothers’ “Gentle Hum” brought the duo a thunderous ovation.

The double-billed performance of Blake Morgan and Janita is one not to be missed! Twice the great music for the price of one is already a win. However, two artists with unique sounds that compliment rather than dominate the other on tour is a diamond in the rough.


Blake Morgan Set

1.       Haunt Me

2.       I Can Hear You Say

3.       Down Below Or Up Above

4.       This One Wins

5.       We Won’t Look Down

6.       We Left Off

7.       Violent Delights

8.       My Love is Waiting

9.       Don’t Want To Let You Go


Janita Set

1.       Beautiful You Are

2.       Who’s Gonna Tell the Wolf She’s Not A Dog?

3.       I Forgive You

4.       Easing Into Sanity

5.       Traces Upon Your Face

6.       No Excuses

7.       Clap Hands

8.       What My Silence Means

9.       Gentle Hum

CONCERT REVIEW: Mt. Joy/Chuck Prophet and the Mission Express Rock Out NoHo's Federal Bar

Written by Jessica Klausing

Chuck Prophet photo by Jessica Klausing

Chuck Prophet photo by Jessica Klausing

Free music, bagels, and a mimosa! What more could you ask for!?!

Gary Calamar presented his Mimosa Music Series at North Hollywood’s Federal Bar on a rainy Sunday morning. What originated out of Calamar’s living room in Laurel Canyon has become a monthly hit that features local singer-songwriters. January featured an upcoming folk band, Mt. Joy and the Bay Area rockers, Chuck Prophet and the Mission Express.

Sam Cooper (left) and Matt Quinn (right) of Mt. Joy photo by Jessica Klausing

Sam Cooper (left) and Matt Quinn (right) of Mt. Joy photo by Jessica Klausing

Mt. Joy was a musical delight from opening to close. Matt Quinn (vocals/guitar) and Sam Cooper (guitar) weave mid-tempo guitar chords into a coming of age lyrical mind trip. Their music touches on political topics but with a psychedelic spin to it.

“Astrovan” alludes to Jesus being just another stoner hippie up against ‘The Man.’ This soulful heartfelt jam has reached over 230,000 streams in just 10 days on Spotify.  It’s easy to see why; beyond the drug references is an underdog anthem, “Life aint ever what it seems; these dreams are more than paper things.” The underlying message inspires those to rise above life’s setbacks.

Mt. Joy faced quite a setback during “Big Foot.” The heavy rainstorm caused a power outage in the middle of the song. The unfazed Quinn kept singing and playing the guitar like a true professional! The flickering lights created an eerie vibe during the “I know he’s out there” lyric. Mt. Joy might want to consider this supernatural gag for future performances! Power returned for the next song both metaphorically and literally.

The new single “Sheep” sounds off against racial discrimination. Quinn and Cooper detail a gruesome scene of police brutality for being of a different race. You could feel the intensity in Quinn’s voice during “Kids are getting ready for a long war/ Maybe I was born in the wrong skin/But those sheep are rolling in the mud again.”

 Mt. Joy can reference serious topics without beating the listener over the head about it. These tunes are mostly chill with some alternative rock jams in the mix. The songs itself are not preachy but use metaphors and wit to prompt deep thinking.

After Mt. Joy’s set, Gary Calamar shared two new singles off his album, The Prince of Pico Blvd.

The first single, “Little Tokyo” is a whimsical pop track about his adventure through the colourful LA district with his daughter. The title track, “Prince of Pico Blvd” has a Velvet Underground influence that details hometown nostalgia. Both were sonically different yet endearing tracks. These catchy tunes were the perfect segue into the final act.

Chuck Prophet at NoHo's Federal Bar photo by Jessica Klausing

Chuck Prophet at NoHo's Federal Bar photo by Jessica Klausing

Chuck Prophet donned a black vest with a black and red tie cut in two pieces. The Bay Area native held up his vanilla colored Fender Telecaster with a devious grin plastered upon his face.

“I wanna teach you all a little something!” Prophet declared as his band, the Missions Express rolled right into the twang rockin’ “Play That Song Again.”

He sure taught us a thing or two about rock n’ roll!

Prophet sets the bar pretty damn high in musical composition. His music nods in respect to 60’s style rock, Motown grooves, soulful ballads, old fashioned rock n' roll, and Southern rock. To sum it up: it's catchy get-on-your-feet-and-dance music. Prophet has the vocal prowess as Bruce Springsteen alongside his technically solid band mates.

“Love Is the Only Thing” shows off James DePrato’s (guitars) Beatles-style guitar hooks. Stephanie Finch (keyboards) shined soulfully within the guitar anthem, “In the Mausoleum.” Vicente Rodriguez (drums) and Kevin White (bass) held up the rhythm backbone of the Honky Tonk jam, “Countrified Inner-City Technological Man.”    

Prophet’s tongue-in-cheek humor gave the songs a playful edge.

An important announcement was made before launching into “Coming Out in Code” off of the new album, Bobby Fuller Died For Your Sins. Prophet asked sternly if anyone was secretly recording the show. Due to the rise of illegal music sharing lawsuits, naturally, a few nervous glances were met throughout the room. Prophet quickly added with his trademark devilish grin, “because I need you to please record this one; it has very low views on Youtube.”  Many cellphones were held up during this soulful groove.

He continued to captivate listeners through his earnest storytelling.

“Wish Me Luck, ” tells the comical antics of a persistent party animal. “Bad Year for Rock and Roll” mourns the dearly departed musicians of 2016. Another bittersweet sympathy was the “The Left Hand and the Right Hand.” This song spins the tragic tale of the San Francisco nightclub pioneers, the Mitchell Brothers.

Chuck Prophet and the Mission Express photo by Jessica Klausing

Chuck Prophet and the Mission Express photo by Jessica Klausing

No Chuck Prophet show is complete without epic sing-a-longs.

“Temple Beautiful” brought out enthusiastic chants from the crowd. However, the real highlight was “Willie Mays Is Up At Bat” As the audience wailed out the ‘woahs,’ Prophet portrayed a sports commentator with “the best thing about baseball and rock n’ roll is you never know what will happen next.”

Prophet closed the set with “You Did” (Bomp Shooby Dooby Bomp). He comically referred to this Motown tune as “the most hardcore one.” Thick bass grooves fuse with the delicate keys as Prophet asks “who put the ram in the ram a lam?”

Chuck Prophet and the Mission Express are a diamond in the rough. This group creates a musical space that’s personal but not private. Prophet openly invites listeners into his “California Noir” realm. He’s a master of guitar and storytelling complimented with a mesmerising and powerful sound. Together this group conjures a performance worthy of an arena.


Play That Song Again

Love Is the Only Thing

Coming Out in Code

In the Mausoleum

The Left Hand and The Right Hand

Countrified Inner-City Technological Man

Wish Me Luck

Bad Year for Rock and Roll

Willie Mays Is Up At Bat


Temple Beautiful

You Did (Bomp Shooby Dooby Bomp)

CONCERT REVIEW: Dan Layus Steals Hearts at the Troubadour

Written by Jessica Klausing

Dan Layus performs at the Troubadour. Photo by Jessica Klausing

Dan Layus performs at the Troubadour. Photo by Jessica Klausing

Dan Layus has reinvented himself as a singer-songwriter. The former Augustana frontman has opted for minimal production. His songs feature the piano with the fine styling of fiddle, pedal steel, and guitar. Plenty of times a musician goes solo but still sounds like their preceding band.  Not Layus. His music is a blend of traditional Country and Americana with a fragile voice that calls out to the broken hearted. West Hollywood’s Troubadour was the venue to hold so much heart on Thursday night.

Ryan Beaver photo by Jessica Klausing

Ryan Beaver photo by Jessica Klausing

Nashville singer-songwriter Ryan Beaver opened the set. Beaver took stage meekly with his acoustic guitar in tow. Many were completely oblivious to him as the audience chatter reigned on. Opening with the painfully beautiful “Rum and Roses,” Beaver instantly alerted the room to his bell-pure vocals and superb storytelling.

Give this man a guitar and he’ll break your heart! Beaver has this special way of capturing reality but making it easily relatable. In the gritty tuned “Dark” he sings of a troubled man that just wants to be left alone. Following the theme of melancholy came the country twang on “Vegas.” A bittersweet song about what happens in Vegas does not exactly stay in Vegas. Standout track of the night was the hauntingly bluesy “When This World Ends,” a song about being in love during the zombie apocalypse.

Ryan Beaver is a must see if he plays near you. His songs are compelling with such endearing vocals. The music teeters somewhere gracefully between Americana and the Blues. He’s an upcoming artist with plenty of potential for sure.

Dan Layus opens with "Enough For You" photo by Jessica Klausing

Dan Layus opens with "Enough For You" photo by Jessica Klausing

The Troubadour erupted in cheers as Dan Layus modestly took the stage with Kristin Weber (violin, fiddle) and Jay Barclay (guitar, pedal steel).

The trio dove right into “Enough For You,” a track of off Layus’s debut solo album. His live performance was as stripped down as his album. Layus proves that a delicate voice and a little soulful acoustic guitar is all he needs to fill the space.

Kristin Weber photo by Jessica Klausing

Kristin Weber photo by Jessica Klausing

Layus bears his soul with such fragile yet earnest vocals. His shaky vibrato on “Sweet and Low” gave the song an emotional wave of nostalgia. You could feel the ache in his voice during the line “No one’s giving up quite yet, we’ve got too much to lose.” Just a strum of Weber’s fiddle was all it took to tug at the heartstrings.

The mood picked up for the pedal steel induced “Dangerous Things,” the title track off of Layus’s album. He followed with the romantic mid-tempo “Fell in Love On a Beach.” This was probably the most optimistic song in the entire setlist.

Things shifted back to dark as Layus traded in his guitar for the keyboard for “Let Me Lose You” “Four Rings,” and “The Nightbird.” He picked the guitar back up again for another Augustana cover, “Must Be Love.”

Dan Layus performs "Let Me Lose You" photo by Jessica Klausing

Dan Layus performs "Let Me Lose You" photo by Jessica Klausing

The set was well balanced between solo and Augustana covers. A few of these covers included: the gritty “Ash and Ember,” “Climb,” and a beautiful ballad of “Steal Your Heart.” I was a bit disappointed that the group’s successor “Boston” did not make it into the set. This disappointment was immediately replaced with an electric version of “I Really Think So.”

Layus and his bandmates really cranked it up with this one! So much for a quiet evening; Barclay and Layus tore away at the guitars which launched Weber into an intense fiddle solo. This hard rockin’ tune had everyone up on their feet.

Jay Barclay photo by Jessica Klausing

Jay Barclay photo by Jessica Klausing

“Call Me When You Get There” was the definite highlight of the set. All of Layus’s solo work is touching but this one really hits home. The song focuses on the concern for a person’s well-being whether it’s wanted or not. A tsunami of tender chords and love washed over the very silent room. The band closed out the night with “Twenty Years,” in honor of a recently departed friend.

Dan Layus’s music is chalk full of poetry-in-motion lyrics backed with gorgeous melodies. If you can’t see him live then go out and buy his album and play it in headphones with your eyes closed. Either way, the music is a mesmerizing experience! Whether you’re a Country fan or not--Dan Layus will steal your heart away.



Enough For You


Sweet and Low (Augustana cover)

I Still Aint Over You (Augustana cover)

You Can Have Mine

Only Gets Darker

Dangerous Things

Fell in Love On a Beach

Let Me Lose You

Four Rings

Must Be Love (Augustana cover)

Climb (Augustana cover)


Call Me When You Get There

Ash and Ember (Augustana cover)

I Really Think So (Augustana cover)

The Nightbird

Steal Your Heart (Augustana cover)


Twenty Years (Augustana cover)



CONCERT REVIEW: Guided by Voices Exceed Expectations at LA's Teragram Ballroom

Written by Jessica Klausing

Robert "Bob" Pollard photo by Jessica Klausing

Robert "Bob" Pollard photo by Jessica Klausing

 Free beer, drunken yoga, and Jose Cuervo-fueled pep talks are normal occurrences at a Guided by Voices show. This band is in its own league when it comes to entertainment. Front man Robert Pollard pushes musical boundaries with an unusual brand of lo-fi/indie rock and British post-punk. His cynical personality shines through in the honest yet tongue-in-cheek lyrics. The Teragram Ballroom was in for an unforgettable night when these rockers took the stage.  

Lola G of DTCV photo by Jessica Klausing

Lola G of DTCV photo by Jessica Klausing

DTCV (pronounced “Detective”) were the openers for the second night of the tour in Los Angeles. This French-American band can be compared to The Cranberries meets the Dum Dum Girls side of the punk spectrum.

 French guitarist Lola G and former Guided by Voices guitarist James Greer treated fans to a surrealist psych-rock set jam packed with exuberant melodies. Be prepared that most of their lyrics are in French, but as Lola G says “If you don’t know the language-- you’re learning it now!” 

James Greer photo by Jessica Klausing

James Greer photo by Jessica Klausing

The two guitarists split the lead vocals between songs; both musicians bring a special kind of style to the dynamic.  Lola G brings the sultry punk vocals on “L.A. Boom!” while Greer’s lofty growl on “Crafting Class” was much appreciated.

The real highlight of the set was Greer slamming his guitar onstage at the end of “Radio City.” Greer had spent most of the song fumbling with his pedals. His casualness of it all still left fans to question whether this was part of the act or not. 

Guided by Voices photo by Jessica Klausing

Guided by Voices photo by Jessica Klausing

After a solid set from DTCV, Robert Pollard took the stage with his new lineup:  Kevin March (drums), Doug Gillard (guitar), Mark Shue (bass) and the newcomer Bobby Bare Jr. (guitar).

Guided by Voices delved right into 29 years worth of music within two hours! Fans were treated to a 52 song setlist. That’s a Bruce Springsteen endurance level of epic proportions! Robert Pollard is quite the prolific artist with a discography of nearly 2,000 songs.

 Pollard performed a few of the songs from his solo projects, Ricked Wicky and Boston Spaceships. A crowd favorite was Ricked Wicky’s “What Are All Those Paint Men Digging?” Pollard showed off his high kicks and well timed mic twirls to Kevin March’s heavy hits. Many more stage antics were yet to come.

Bob doing the tree pose during "I Am a Tree." Photo by Jessica Klausing

Bob doing the tree pose during "I Am a Tree." Photo by Jessica Klausing

“I Am a Tree” was unforgettable with Pollard’s tree pose. He held that position through most of the song. What’s more impressive was the amount of stability he had after so many drinks.  This rock star showed no signs of slowing down as he trucked on through the set without much banter.

 The setlist offered a fair mixture of solo work and older GBV music but it seemed like this second reunion tour focused more on the newest album, Please Be Honest. Robert Pollard wrote and played every instrument on this album.

“Kid on a Ladder” and “Eye Shop Heaven” generated some interest thanks to Bobby Bare Jr. and Mark Shue shredding up their instruments. This turned into a friendly competition on who could break a string faster. The hype for the newer songs started to wane around “Hotel X (Big Soap)”. Many were eagerly anticipating more hits from the iconic older albums such as Bee Thousand and Alien Lanes

“Teenage FBI,” “I Am a Scientist” and “Game Of Pricks” won the crowd back over. These songs prompted the loudest sing-a-longs and probably the friendliest mosh pit in history. The venue turned into a trampoline of fans gently bouncing forward to sing with the band.

“Thanks for bearing with the new shit. It’ll become like the old shit unless it sucks then we cut it out,” Pollard stated after a swig from his beloved Jose Cuervo.

 Pollard proceeded to pass his tequila around to those that wanted a shot.  This front man is known to freely share his tequila and pass out extra beer to audience members. Ample booze plays a key component into the band’s entertainment.

Robert Pollard performs "Tractor Rape Chain." Photo by Jessica Klausing

Robert Pollard performs "Tractor Rape Chain." Photo by Jessica Klausing

 The stoic Robert Pollard becomes brasher after many drinks.

“After we got signed with Matador Records, they recommended that I check in to the Betty Ford Clinic. I’m checking into the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame, Motherfuckers!” Pollard exclaimed before tearing into another classic favorite, “Tractor Rape Chain.”

The band ended their set with “Cut-Out Witch” only to quickly return for a second encore. The second encore included an ecstatic cover of The Who’s “Baba O’Riley”. The night could have easily ended on this high but these guys returned to the stage after popular demand!

 How does one top two amazing encores?

 To an average rocker this would be a ballsy move. Guided by Voices defied the odds with “Game Of Pricks” again. No one seemed to mind for a repeated song as the third encore.  Pollard and company played the song with more intensity the second time. The venue erupted into the chant of “You can never be strong. You can only be free.” This classic hit proved to be the perfect final closure.


X- Water

Crafting Class

Bourgeois Pop

L.A. Boom!


Capital Finnul



Histoire Sevile

Big Grey Sun

Radio Drive



A Salty Salute

Expecting Brainchild

Subspace Biographies

Kid on a Ladder

Echos Myron

Eye Shop Heaven

Planet Score

The Quickers Arrive

My Daughter Yes She Knows

Teenage FBI

Mobility (Ricked Wicky cover)

Do Something Real

Smothered in Hugs

Hotel X (Big Soap)

Back to the Lake

The Hand That Holds You

I Am a Tree

Psychic Pilot Clocks Out

Jargon of Clones (Ricked Wicky cover)

The Brides Have Hit Glass

What Are All Those Paint Men Digging? (Ricked Wicky cover)

Game Of Pricks

Question Girl All Right (Boston Spaceships cover)

Poor Substitute (Ricked Wicky cover)

Arrows and Balloons

Shocker in Gloomtown

Come On Mr. Christian

Tabby & Lucy (Boston Spaceships cover)

Piss Face (Ricked Wicky cover)

Make Use

My Zodiac Companion

Miles Under the Skin

I Can Illustrate

Come On Baby Grace (Boston Spaceships cover)

Glittering Parliaments

Motor Away

Tractor Rape Chain

Love Is Stronger Than Witchcraft

Please Be Honest

The Official Ironmen Rally Song

I Am a Scientist

Of Course You Are

The Goldheart Mountaintop Queen Directory


Authoritarian Zoo

Fair Touching

Don’t Stop Now

Cut-Out Witch


Not Behind the Fighter Jet

Glad Girls

Baba O’Riley (The Who cover)


Blimps Go 90

Game Of Pricks



CONCERT REVIEW: Laura Michelle Celebrates New Album Release with Drake Bell at El Rey Theatre

By Jessica Klausing

photo by Jessica Klausing

photo by Jessica Klausing

Laura Michelle, the singer-songwriter behind the video viral hit, “Chuck Norris”, hosted a local release party for her album, Novel With No End last Friday night at the El Rey Theatre in downtown Los Angeles along with special guest performers.

Peter and the Lion kicked off the night with their quaint and eccentric pop songs. These catchy hits were a great start to the party as they were able to draw the audience closer to the stage.

Drake Bell photo by Jessica Klausing

Drake Bell photo by Jessica Klausing

Following the first act was Drake Bell and his band, whose performance was nothing short than epic! Bell launched into the 50s blues infused guitar rockin’ “King of Rock N’Roll.” This was a fitting opener for them. Just imagine if Elvis Presley had joined the Beatles– that’s Drake Bell and his band!

Bell’s musical maturity is far beyond his years. This heartthrob is more than just another teen star; he’s a solid musician with something to say. His crisp yet supple vocals during the contemporary pop hit “Makes Me Happy” was reminiscent of the early 60s Beatlemania days. There is a fearless fluency within his lyrics that defies the modern musical composition.

The real highlight of the set was "Found A Way" or better known as the Drake & Josh theme song from the former Nickelodeon show. Bell's enthusiasm seemed to bring a new level of high within the theatre. Everyone was up dancing and singing along to this signature song. His music is so fun and upbeat that you just can't resist those infectious melodies.


Laura Michelle photo by Jessica Klausing

Laura Michelle photo by Jessica Klausing

After Bell’s performance, fans waited anxiously for the arrival of the main star of the night: Ms. Laura Michelle.

Michelle came out into the audience for a special cake cutting ceremony. Novel With No End is Michelle’s first album release which was produced by the Grammy winning team of Jarrett Zellea, Rafa Sardina and Jim McGorman. The album also features drummer Marc Slutsky (Splendor, Drake Bell) and bassist Jon Button (Roger Daltrey, Sheryl Crow and Shakira). The show was orchestrated by musical director Jim McGorman and an all star musician lineup: Steve Fekete, Al Berry, Steve Ferlazzo, Marc Slutsky, and Rachel Grace. The delicious cake and hors d’oeuvres were catered by Sweet Lady Jane Bakery to honor this stellar night.

Immediately after the ceremony came time for the anticipated main event. The stage lights faded into a dark shade of blue as Laura Michelle strutted onstage in her killer open toed boots.

The star crooned her sultry sweet vocals right into the whimsical pop, "Cigarette."

She rolled right into the softer ballads, "The Credit" and "Aint Your Home" before pausing to thank her fans for coming and to chug a whole bottle of water. She gave a shout out to her cousin and mom for the next song, "Save Me", saying that "it was their favorite song on the album and to thank them for being there through the hard times."


Photo by Jessica Klausing

Photo by Jessica Klausing

"Throwaway" picked the beat back up but it was perhaps "Chameleon" that really got the party started. This song really strives to show off Michelle's feisty side as she confidently states, "So this is my disguise/ You used to be handsome, a little less homeless, a little less hopeless."

Michelle's playful, upbeat attitude seemed to really energize the crowd. People of all ages could be seen dancing, swaying pink glow sticks, and singing their hearts out to the hit "Chuck Norris" and "Dangerous."

Later in the set Michelle took a moment to talk about her father. 

"I am what you would call the definition of a daddy's girl," Michelle proudly told the audience as the large screen flashed a picture of the two of them together.

He had passed away when she was only fifteen. She opened up about how music was able to lift her spirits during her father's illness. Michelle went on to explain that she wrote "Novel With No End" about him and that the album was dedicated in his memory.

Michelle finished out the set with "Top Of The World." A song that takes a jab at "people that think they are all that but are really not." This offers a good life lesson about not letting arrogant people steal all the joy.

Laura Michelle's music will take you on a pop rock trip through all of the heartbreak, love and life lessons in her life. She's open with honest lyrics that offers a positive message for all ages. This type of positivity is sadly overlooked within today's mainstream pop genre. Michelle stands strong as a passionate young artist with a promising career.



The Credits

Aint Your Home

Save Me



Chuck Norris


Novel With No End

Top Of The World