The last time I saw Nico Vega in San Diego was at the Casbah to a relatively rowdy crowd but it was by no means a sold out show. They did tour through here with Imagine Dragons playing the SDSU Open Air Theater but I didn’t attend that show.
Crash Kings have playing down at Griffin off and on during the year and I’ve noticed two separate shows there that I was unable to attend. Sad Amanda. Even sadder because I hadn’t seen them play in well over a year.
So what happens when you take two popular LA bands who are friends that even share a rehearsal space and you put them on the road together? In a word, amazingness.
Watching Crash Kings play for the first time in over a year was like no time had passed. Despite having a different drummer, their set was filled with the same enthusiasm as the first time I saw them years ago. And I had honestly forgotten how much that clavinet will rock a room. It was so refreshing to see a band rock out with a piano, keys, and a clavinet. I didn’t even miss the guitar.
It was fantastic to see them rock old favorite like “Mountain Man”, “It’s Only Wednesday,” and “14 Arms.” Their set was a nice blend of old and new tunes and I have to tell you, those new tunes are awesome. Their set was so awesome, it inspired an encore because the crowd just wouldn’t stop yelling for them. You should really do yourself a favor and go pick up Dark of the Daylightnow.
Nico Vega is an amazing band. And you can tell they are fully on their A Game after having toured all over with Imagine Dragons earlier this year. They are tighter than I’ve ever seen them and somehow even more dynamic than before. Maybe it’s the drums. The tiny stage was hardly big enough to contain them as evidenced by only one painted barrel on stage and Aja’s continual departure from the stage.
At one point during the set, someone yelled for them to play “Wooden Dolls” and the band all sat down on the stage and quietly played the song. I should also mention that one of the barrels was dedicated to an audience member’s deceased pet turtle and Aja informed the crowd that she would be taking it home with her after the show. How sweet! What was even sweeter was seeing other old favorites like “Gravity” and “Beast” mixed in with all the snazzy new tunes from their forthcoming album Lead to Light . If you love Nico Vega or just want some cool stuff from them (their designs are rad) then you should pledge your support here. I’m personally getting a shirt and the font that is Rich’s handwriting.
Joan Jett is an icon. And she is a cool icon because she plays the fair every year without fail which I find to be awesome. This year was even better though because in addition to playing the hits like Crimson and Clover, I Love Rock and Roll, I hate Myself For Loving You, Cherry Bomb, and the like, she played a TON of new stuff from the forthcoming album Unvarnished. The new material still has the recognizable edge of Joan Jett but is lyrically applicable to today’s modern world. My personal favorite from the new material was a song called TMI which you can sample below. Honestly, after a day at the fair eating all kinds of food like bacon truffle gouda fries, a giant falafel sandwich, and a cupcake, rocking out with Joan Jett was a perfect way to end the day and burn some calories. Could it have been a better day? I think not.
Semi Precious Weapons is a band that admittedly, I just didn’t “get” at first. Maybe it’s because I went to their On the Rox shows where half naked women were running around or being Saran wrapped to a pole. It just didn’t make any sense to me. Then I saw them at SXSW last year and it finally clicked and I fell in love. They have been back in the studio ever since with nary a show with the exception of heir residency at Sayers Club. I caught their one show at SXSW this year and my life has been devoid of Semi Precious Weapons ever since. That is, until they came down to San Diego as part of Sunset Sessions Rock. How thrilled was I to be seeing them down here and at a venue with great sound and no *ahem* clothing requirements/restrictions.
Generally speaking, The Belly Up is not a place I would expect to find Semi Precious Weapons playing a gig. That surely didn’t stop them from making themselves right at home and taking the place hostage. They played all new tunes such as Cities, Cherries on Ice, Wish I Had A Drink, and Aviation High to name a few. Their sinfully exciting glam-rock show is something that everyone should experience at least once in their lifetime and it’s something I hope to repeat very soon.
Click the link below for a video of WIsh I Had A Drink at the Belly Up or check out their video for Aviation HIgh directed and editing by their own Stevy Pine.
Sometimes you just have to travel to see a band play. Thus began another trip up to LA to catch the second ever Dear Boy show. Call me a sucker but the opportunity to see a band from the very beginning is something that I couldn’t pass up. After a lovely meal of ramen (one my my favorite things to get in LA) it was time to head to the show. I have to say, The Bootleg has gotten a bit swanky since I was last there. With wonderful couches for lounging on and a ping pong table to play with (which we took full advantage of), it wasn’t difficult to wait around for the show to get started.
Shortly after 10pm, Dear Boy took the stage for the second time in their musical career. All sharply dressed in black (except the bass player who opted for black and white), the gents of Dear Boy gave off an air of intrigue and mystery. The charismatic frontman from ex Scarlet Grey was unusually serious and tight lipped as only a few words were given between songs such as thanks to the other bands and the venue. The set itself gave off a sense of controlled chaos and release with a fury of distorted guitar and fast paced drumming to accompany Ben’s vocals. Audience dancing could not be helped as Dear Boy continued on and started to let loose themselves, which further fueled said dancers. The set ended on a high note after the last two songs in the set Sister Golden Hair (an excellent cover) and Funeral Waves took it “up another notch,” as Emeril Lagasse would say. Let’s not forget their single Come Along which fans have already memorized and singing along.
I only see good things for the future of this band. Be sure to catch them at their next show, June 6th supporting Meg Myers at The Troubadour.
The night was topped off with a set from LA rockers The Active Set who provided the perfect cap to the end of the evening. It was especially entertaining when frontman Matt Stolarz was having sound issues and stand in drummer Steve Coy came out from behind the drumset, still playing. The other members gathered around Steve and did a booty shake for our entertainment.
On a more personal note: It was wonderful to catch Ben Grey for some “Hellos” after their set. It was obvious he was thrilled to be there and the fan support was overwhelming I’m sure. I’d also like to say that he gives some of the best hugs. Ever.
Once upon a time in years long ago there lived a band called The Academy Is… who existed in harmony with other Fueled By Ramen bands such as Fall Out Boy, Panic! at the Disco, and Cobra Starship. Sadly, those are times of old and The Academy Is… has since broken up leaving frontman and lyricist William Beckett on his own.
After flying to Chicago to watch William Beckett play a holiday show two years ago, I was due for another William Beckett show. After having gone out to support Hellogoodbye and Relient K in July of last year, William finally made it back as a headlining artist this year on his What Will Be Tour and brought Jillette Johnson along for the ride.
I wasn’t aware that the House of Blues in San Diego had a side stage. I’d been to the one in LA but never the one in San Diego until I came to see William Beckett. I hung outside in the patio area while the opener played and I waited. The front of the tiny stage was already packed with fans staking their claim for when Mr. Beckett came to the stage. I actually caught William who had come outside to watch the show and said hello. I was super excited to see that he brought back the bandana in his outfit that night. If you ever watch old The Academy Is.. videos, you will know exactly what I’m talking about.
After the amazing Jillette Johnson finished her set, he took the stage. It was a great mix of new songs, old songs, and stories. William is an excellent storyteller and had the audience laughing after regaling us with a story from his youth in which he was the new kid who came to school fully dressed in his favorite athletic team’s sports apparel and was challenged to a basketball game by the resident school big shot. I’m sad to say the story ends with him losing after scoring a three point shot. However, it’s the wonderful blend of stories, humor, nerdyness, and songs that make him such a great entertainer. While I do miss him having a band and free to do his mic stand antics, I suppose this will do for now. As Kristen said of his show at The Hotel Cafe, he’s “the next Butch Walker” and I couldn’t agree more. No more compromises. What you see, is what you get.
There’s this wonderful thing called life that sometimes gets in the way of other endeavors. I apologize that this took so long to post. I blame life. But let’s flash back to February 20th, 2013 when this post began….
Last Wednesday I took a jaunt up to LA to see the debut of Dear Boy. In case you somehow missed the new band alert Kristen posted about them, they are a reincarnation of Scarlet Grey. I was very much a fan of Scarlet Grey and was sad to hear when they broke up but happy to hear when singer Ben Grey and drummer Keith Cooper got together with some new guys to form Dear Boy.
I had inconveniently caught a cold the day before the show, but I wasn’t going to let that keep me from attending. Traffic was a breeze and I made it to LA relatively quickly for a Wednesday afternoon but the drive left me tired (thank you cold). So, Kristen and I spent our pre-show time hanging out at her place and ordering in because… well, because we could. And I love ordering in. You can’t do that where I am in San Diego. But I digress…
It was obvious when we got there that this was a show with a band people were here to see. Thankfully luck was on our side and after scoring a sweet parking spot, we found a prime spot up on the balcony to observe the show. The first two bands were ok but as soon as the second one finished, people started pouring in for Dear Boy. The Grey family is a loyal one.
Ben came out with a shiny new hairdo but minus his awesome stickered guitar from the days of Scarlet Grey. I guess I can let that slide. Dear Boy had only released a somewhat cryptic music video as a hint of what the sound was like and it wasn’t enough. The show was great and it’s clear Ben is excited to be moving in a different direction. The sound has more depth than Scarlet Grey did and I think it gives the band an opportunity to expand, experiment, and create. There was even a song specifically for the Grey family about his change of direction but how he is still the same person. I thought that was a very sweet sentiment. Their set seemed all to short but for us who were sick, it was actually just right I’m sad to say. We hung around for a little bit after, hoping to say some hellos but it seemed like everyone was hanging out to say hellos. We said goodbye to our friends after waiting for about 20 minutes when I saw Jade Puget standing around. I wanted to say hello but nerves and tiredness got the better of me and we retired to Kristen’s place. All in all, it was a fun night out, and I’m glad I was there to witness it. It gives me some indie cred 😉
Here are some pictures Kristen shot of the show. I hope you enjoy. And don’t forget to check out Dear Boy if you haven’t already.
As promised, here is the first entry of The Bard Chronicles featuring Get Back Loretta. To be honest, I hadn’t seen Get Back Loretta play in quite some time and this was their first official show after playing New Years Eve at the Lafayette Hotel with the likes of Little Hurricane and Blackout Party. They had played a show earlier that day in PB with the violinist from Dave Matthews Band but not a lot of people seemed to know about that show. I personally was excited to see Kevin Martin because I hadn’t seen that cool cat in ages. Actually, I was excited to see the whole band because it had been ages. I could tell everyone in the band from Steven Bradford to Isaac Cass was excited to play that night. They finally took the stage after Dead Feather Moon, who started late due to some sound issues.
Honestly, I had forgotten how large the catalogue of Get Back Loretta tunes was and I have no idea why. For some reason, I forgot about their latest release “Where Did You Go?” (silly because that was a staple during a breakup) which made me even more excited to hear the likes of Breakin’ Down, Grown So Cold, and Mrs. Miller. The set was chock full of classics such as Ketamine, Dreams Got Scattered, Over The Wall, and The Future of The Moon. I was really excited to see Steven unencumbered by his bass since Lauren Scheff has joined as bassist. Steven seemed to command the stage in a way that I hadn’t seen before and I was reminded of Get Back Loretta from times of old. The hour long set was full of poppy energetic fun and seemed to fly by way too fast. It was a dance party alright and I couldn’t have asked for a better night of friends and great music.
I’m super excited to hear their new/old record which is currently being recorded/produced by bassist Lauren Scheff. Until such time as that music comes out, I’ll leave you with Get Back Loretta on the Scheff Experience. Also, you can check out Get Back Loretta at the sites below…
Get Back Loretta FB Get Back Loretta Website