Live photos and the main setlist for Coheed and Cambria, Live at Stubb's - September 27th
August 5th at The Roxy Theater in Hollywood, Beardyman will be performing in his own crazy or self described "silly" way. I spoke with him earlier this week about his upcoming tour and it seems that every minute is planned! He is very much looking forward to returning to the States and performing on the Roxy stage. It's the little things in life tough too! He is looking forward to the split pea soup at his favorite spot just north of LA.
Pea soup aside, he will be bringing out his incredibly customized synthesizer (a word which he says does not quite do it justice) and using only his voice and the manipulation in the synth without any pre-recorded sounds or vocalizations.
The shows tend to be very improvised and very electronically based. After the show at The Roxy, he will be staying in Los Angeles to record an album in an hour with audience input. With crowd input and his improvisation, the album's sound is yet to be heard as it will rely on spurt of the moment creativity and inspiration. Wednesday at the Comedy Central stage at the Hudson on Santa Monica Blvd he will be performing his one album per hour showcase.
I first heard of Beardyman from a TED talk he gave (watch the video below) and I was blown away and I was so happy to be able to talk to him about his music. He started at 5 years old trying to make new sounds and accurately make sounds that he had heard in the world.
He has since created this magical device that I will be happy to see live at The Roxy. To get your tickets visit The Roxy/ Ticket fly
Under the bridges of Downtown LA, Brokechella kept everyone that wasn't in Indio entertained. Little shops popped up along the warehouses and all of the stages started up around 3pm and went strong into the evening. I covered The Singles who are in the middle of a couple tours and took this weekend at home to play LA. Next week they will be on the road again and they were excited about the upcoming shows. Their set was full of energy and the crowd made their way from the food trucks to listen to them play. Be sure to make it to one of their upcoming shows!
Later in the day The Zibbs played on the main stage and their rock vibe brought out a good crowd. At one point, the drummer brought out a toy guitar (which is also tattooed on his leg~Check out that photo below) and played while his sister and vocalist, Coco, played the drums. They put on a great show and were obviously having fun with the set. Based in LA and Switzerland, they are making a name for themselves in Europe as well as Southern California. With some original music, written by siblings Coco and Stee, and some covers, they had a great range and a raspy rock feel. After talking to the band I'm excited about their upcoming projects and I highly recommend hitting up their next show at Pancakes & Booze Arts and Music Festival in LA on May 2nd and 3rd.
Photos by Tamea at photobytamea.com
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Through the years, I've grown more and more attached to the music I grew up with (as is probably the case with most people as we careen toward 30). That's especially true regarding Third Eye Blind. The band's self-titled 1997 album is STILL one of my absolute favorites, despite it being nearly 20 years old (sigh).
Because of that, I enjoy their live shows immensely. Even though Stephan Jenkins and Brad Hargreaves (drums) are now the only original members still around (everybody knows about the band's lengthy history of turnover and lineup changes), it hardly matters. They don't tour often, but when they do you can bet you're getting a top-notch show delivered by some excellent musicians. For example, the band's new keyboard/piano player - who's just 24! - adds a depth to the live show that they didn't have in the past. Fun fact: he was EIGHT YEARS OLD when Semi-Charmed Life was everywhere. Wild.
As for the gig - it was absolutely packed, probably one of the most highly-attended HOB Sunset shows I've ever seen. When the lights went off around 9:10 p.m., anticipation swelled...and while the band didn't utilize the light-up board spelling out T-H-I-R-D-E-Y-E-B-L-I-N-D behind them (I assume due to space issues), its absence didn't affect the show aesthetically.
For the first 15 minutes or so of the set, Jenkins, clad in a hoodie that covered his head, sang using a mic that dropped down from up above. He didn't greet the crowd until maybe ten minutes later, preferring instead to let the music do the talking for him.
Set-list wise, fans couldn't have asked for much more.
After teasing both Don't Believe a Word and The Red Summer Sun, they opened the show with Losing a Whole Year, sending everyone into a frenzy.
Once he removed the hood and began addressing the audience, Jenkins really loosened up. He told stories, reflected on what it meant to have so many people pack the venue for the band in 2013, and even poked fun at himself a bit.
When talking about how the band was supposed to have new music out in time for this tour, he noted that "in typical Stephan fashion I fucked that all up!", alluding to the infamous between-album delays that have characterized the band for the past 13 years or so.
As for the new songs, they were pretty interesting. One of them, Get Me Out of Here, was particularly promising:
Water Landing, from 2009's Ursa Major, was also another highlight, with Jenkins taking time to say that it's one of his favorite songs to play every night.
As the set wore on, the band played a few of the classic hits - Jumper was met with an absolutely deafening roar of approval, with fans singing the whole song very loudly:
Crystal Baller, from 2003's underrated Out of the Vein, was also a treat:
Though the band opted not to play How's It Gonna Be, they did elect to run through Never Let You Go:
And, naturally, fan favorites Slow Motion and Motorcycle Drive By, all building to an encore/finale of Narcolepsy (a personal favorite), Semi-Charmed Life and God of Wine.
Here's the full set list:
One of Jenkins' speeches was about how he and his band mates feel pretty great right now about everything. He said they plan to head back to the studio to finish a new record after the holidays.
Hopefully, those sessions go well and the band releases new music in early 2014 - because they sounded as strong as ever at the House of Blues, and it'd be great to see them come back sooner rather than later.
The highest grossing tour of 2012 is at last available on DVD and, ahem Blu-ray (and now I've officially dated this article). A non-stop spectacle that traveled everywhere from Tel Aviv to Cordoba, the MDNA Tour looks even better onscreen than it does in person--especially if you couldn't afford the top tier priced tickets. Originally broadcast on Epix (proving M is over the HBO scene), MDNA World Tour, as the video/music version is aptly called, showcases a darker side of Madonna that we haven't seen expressed quite so freely since the Drowned World Tour. Opening with, to use a term I hate, a "hauntingly beautiful" rendition of "Virgin Mary," in which the Kalakan Trio, vocalists similar to Yitzak Sinwani (who also collaborated with Madonna on the song "Isaac" and The Confessions Tour), croons a lamenting chant, the tone of macabreness is set for the tour.
As featured on previous concerts of Madonna's, MDNA World Tour also includes a featurette on the auditioning process for her backup dancers. After auditioning forty dancers over a six-day workshop for a mere eighteen spots on the tour--an undoubtedly grueling process--the fastidious queen finally made her decisions. The result is evident in every song on the tour, with each dancer acting as a cog in the well-oiled choreography machine. Pronounced imagery of what some might dub "illuminati beasts" take the stage as Madonna enters wearing an imposing crown and black veil. The effect is altogether chilling as she segues into a mash-up of "Girl Gone Wild" and "Material Girl." With camera work that closely resembles the slowed down speed on The Confessions Tour, every nuance--both of the show and the video installations--can be appreciated.
"Revolver" featuring Lil' Wayne follows, playing up the gory gun motif of the Transgression section. Backup dancers wearing bandanas over their mouths prance around Madonna as she brandishes a gun (something she got a lot of flak for after the James Holmes incident that took place around the time she toured in Colorado), transitioning seamlessly into the most violent song of the show, "Gang Bang." More masked men come to take Madonna away in a vein similar to her performance of "Lament" on the Reinvention Tour as she segues into an electronic/rock sounding rendition of "Hung Up." A brief version of "Papa Don't Preach" succeeds this, after which Madonna sings one of the least enjoyable tracks from MDNA, "I Don't Give A...". The interlude that follows is a mash-up of "Heartbeat" from Hard Candy and the morose "Best Friend" from MDNA.
The Prophecy segment then commences with a flawless incorporation of Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" into "Express Yourself." Dressed as a drum majorette, the theme of a frenetic extravaganza continues with a remix of the under appreciated "Give Me All Your Luvin'", which served as the first single from MDNA. Flashing images of M.I.A. and Nicki Minaj on the screen behind Madonna contribute to the overall energetic feel of this entire performance. For the moments leading up to the next song, "Turn Up The Radio," Madonna once again enjoys a bit of self-reference, with images of her most iconic videos appearing on the screen à la "Music Inferno" from The Confessions Tour. One of the more interactive portions of the show takes place during the next song, "Open Your Heart," reworked to have a more gypsy sounding vibe with elements of the Kalakan Trio's "Sagarra Jo." Madonna's son, Rocco Ritchie, joins her on the stage to show off his break dancing moves as the other dancers partake in the revelry. In the between the end of "Open Your Heart" and the beginning of "Masterpiece," Madonna takes the time to interact with her audience, asking, "Did you take your MDMA before you got here?" She then thanks her fans for thirty years of devotion and reminds us all how lucky we are to live in a country where we can express ourselves.
The interlude for "Justify My Love" is a throwback to the clown aesthetic of The Girlie Show and serves as the perfect transition into the Masculine/Feminine segment of the tour. Giving herself yet another homage, Madonna re-enters wearing a revamped incarnation of her infamous Jean-Paul Gaultier cone bra. Equal parts evocative of her 1993 Girlie Show performance of "Justify My Love" and her 1990 MTV VMA performance of "Vogue," the tour directors, Danny B. Tull and Stephane Sennour, alternate between color and black and white footage to capitalize on the glamorousness of Old Hollywood. A sultry, Parisian-tinged combination of "Candy Shop" and "Erotica"--retitled "Erotic Candy Shop"--plays up Madonna's love of androgyny.
The delightfully vitriolic "Human Nature" also favors the use of interspersed black and white footage as Madonna explores the concept of duality by gazing at herself in a series of mirrors. By the end of the song, she has stripped down to the bare minimum to reveal the word "PSYCHE" written on her back. She then notes, "Sometimes it's easier to show your ass than it is to show your feelings, right? Tonight, I'm gonna try to do both. And if you have a problem with my ass...you can kiss it." This leads into her ballad interpretation of "Like A Virgin," called "Like A Virgin Waltz." Dramatic and stylized, the entire sequence remains in black and white, including "Love Spent," in which Madonna openly and emotionally discusses her divorce from Guy Ritchie. Clutching pathetically to money that has fallen on the stage, she completes the performance in earnest as one of the dancers tightens her corset for maximum theatrical effect.
The final video interlude, a surrealist montage of imagery with other people's faces superimposed over Madonna's, is a choppy "Nobody Knows Me"--the only nod to American Life on the tour. This metamorphoses beautifully into the MDMA anthem, "I'm Addicted," which kicks off the final segment of the tour, Redemption. Appearing in what can best be described as a metallic, futuristic prayer outfit with "MDNA" emblazoned on the back of it, Redemption is the perfect final act you would expect from a consummate performer like Madonna. The psychedelic, Eastern-influenced "I'm A Sinner" fits quite nicely into the concept of recognizing frailty and trying to repent for it. Elements of the unreleased Music track, "Cyberraga," close out the song. "Like A Prayer," always epically performed, finds Madonna's back-up dancers and singers dressed in black and white robes with crosses on the front. Following the formula for "Hung Up" at the end of The Confessions Tour and "Give It 2 Me" at the end of The Sticky and Sweet Tour, Madonna holds the microphone down to her fans for them to sing into.
Concluding the show is the exuberant "Celebration," featuring portions of "Girl Gone Wild" and "Give It 2 Me." Showcasing some of the best choreography of the MDNA Tour, every dancer works together to close with unforgettable panache. As the credits to the show roll, Madonna is shown getting into her car and handing part of her costume to her dresser. She states, "That's it. Let's go home." Though, clearly, her true home will always be on the stage.
Warped Tour 2013 - a solid day all around.
Inbetween their amazing Coachella sets, Purity Ring got down on some bedroom jams at the El Rey here in Los Angeles. I've just recently started to listen to them, and quite pleased that I'm finally in the know. Photographer Chris Uncle brings us images from the evening, and we hope you enjoy!
Check out what Purity Ring is up to over at their Facebook.
Until next time my friends,
Opening the gig was a band from Chicago called Fall Out Boy - I hadn't heard of them before, but a bunch of girls in the crowd had - they were LOUD for this band - which I didn't love or hate after their set had finished.
We all know what happened a year so later - FOB became kings of the pop-punk scene (or arms race, whatever), on MTV, playing arenas, the whole bit. Earlier this week, they announced a new album & tour after a 3-year hiatus, and with it came a few tiny club gigs.
I was lucky enough to snag a ticket to their Roxy show last night, and it was pretty great. Admittedly, I'm not a diehard fan, nor would I ever consider camping out outside a venue for a FOB show - but I dig what they do for the most part.
They took the stage to Jay-Z's intro to the song Thriller (not an MJ cover), before launching into the song and setting the crowd into a total, all-out frenzy. These fans were HUNGRY for a Fall Out Boy gig, and it was obvious how jazzed everyone was that Pete Wentz, Patrick Stump, Joe Trohman and Andy Hurley are back together.
The course of their 90-minute set was excellent - blasts of nostalgia (dating back to 2003's Take This To Your Grave), a good chunk of Infinity On High (my favorite album of theirs), and their new song My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark.
It was an energetic, fist-pumping night even by typically blase Los Angeles standards - something Wentz pointed out a few times. The band responded to the fans' exuberance with a hit-packed set highlighting their formidable skills on stage.
Stump, in particular, is one hell of a singer (and is now significantly skinnier now than he was during the Sugar, We're Going Down days). Trohman and Hurley provide great accompaniment to the bands' focal points, Stump and Wentz.
By the time the show was finished, you could really tell that Fall Out Boy haven't lost anything - they're still sonically tight, energetic, and seem to be enjoying themselves just fine. Wentz noted that when they decided to end their hiatus, they wanted to do so with new music - they weren't content to just tour the county fair circuit or reform for a 10th anniversary tour (of Take This To Your Grave, for example).
Wentz did his hardcore vocals thing for the encore-closing Saturday, which is always fun to see. In all, it was obvious they wanted to REALLY come back with a bang - and this show was definitely that bang.
Oh, and I got to hang with Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes, a.k.a. Jay & Silent Bob (who were extremely nice people, which made me happy.) Cross this one off my "celebrity picture bucket list".
Below, enjoy a few more videos from the gig and some photos.
A Little Less Sixteen Candles, a Little More Touch Me
The bassline then switches to "Give Me All Your Luvin'" with a slight remix (Just Blaze) tinge as Madonna rounds out this portion of the drum major/ette section to leave us with another brief interlude video featuring clips and sound snippets of singles past (in the same vein as the interlude leading up to "Music" on the Drowned World Tour and "Music Inferno" on the Confessions Tour). After a quick costume change into a form-fitting leather dress and black beret, Madonna reappears to sing her latest single, "Turn Up The Radio." It is only after this song that she at last addresses the audience, introducing a trio of vocalists she learned of while on holiday for her birthday last year. In a subtle, apologetic manner, she then cautions, "This is an oldie, but goodie," leading into a fantastically reworked version of "Open Your Heart."
The Prophecy segment concludes with "Masterpiece," the Golden Globe-winning song from W.E., which Madonna sorrowfully prefaces by saying, "This is a song about love. It traps us again and again." An eerie incarnation of "Justify My Love" (with dancers exhibiting strong resemblances to the signature clown costume in The Girlie Show) then succeeds as an interlude leading up to the Masculine/Feminine segment of the show, in which Madonna emerges with a gamine like appearance in a white button-up shirt and pinstripe pants with suspenders, as well as a modern reimagining of Jean-Paul Gaultier's cone bra.
Reemerging from atop a perch, Madonna delves into "Vogue" with a blending of classic and futuristic traits. She then switches back up to her fondness for lesser known tracks by performing "Candy Shop" suffused with "Erotica," making for one of the most surprising and enjoyable mash-ups during the MDNA Tour. "Human Nature" is next, a song that has been constantly condemned and lauded on this tour for her quickness to disrobe at the end of it. Typically showcasing the words, "NO FEAR" on her back during this track, Madonna opted instead to write "OBAMA," noting, "Thank God for Michelle Obama." The Queen of Pop carries on her innovative reinventions of songs past by singing a slowed down, vampy version of "Like A Virgin."
The lamenting aura of Madonna's "Like A Virgin" rendering is suitably followed by the Redemption segment of the show. With the "Nobody Knows Me" interlude, Madonna parades her face in a series of forms, including the Hitler look. The song itself is indicative of Madonna's knowledge that no one can ever really know her as everyone expects vastly different criteria for her to meet and surpass--either opting to vilify her or put her on an impossible pedestal.
Madonna then appears in a Joan of Arc-esque rave outfit to perform a frenetic "I'm Addicted." The pace changes to a slower, more psychedelic jaunt when she segues into "I'm A Sinner." The unreleased 2000 track, "Cyberraga," is incorporated at the end of the performance, apropos of the drug-addled sound of the late 1960s. "Like A Prayer" is, shockingly, one of the least impressive moments of the tour, in terms of choreography and staging, while the show's closing song, "Celebration," is by far one of the most memorable performances as Madonna embodies the archetypal club kid with her son, Rocco Ritchie, by her side to provide additional dance moves. It is a fitting end to a tour that has truly displayed Madonna's ability to defy the supposed tenets of what a pop star should be.
The much lauded River Rocks series at Hudson River Park concluded on Thursday with the unimpeachable lineup of DIIV (pronounced "dive," not "div"), Wild Nothing and the indie electro dreamboat of the moment, Grimes. Originally from Vancouver, Grimes' propensity for electronic innovation didn't flourish until she moved to Montreal to go to school. Her ethereal, dreamlike music landed on her debut album, Geidi Primes, quickly followed by Halfaxa, a sophomore effort that punctuated her penchant for songs that featured lyrics heavily based on sounds and intonations rather than words. That styling proved to be an indelible part of Grimes' stage presence at River Rocks.
Demurely taking the stage in a hooded sweatshirt and long braided pigtails that seemed to change color throughout the night, Grimes shyly announced, "I'm gonna take off my shoes." Her awkwardness like a second skin, she somehow seemed completely at ease as she delved into the tracks from her latest album, Visions, a tour de force of aural phantasmagoria. It also bears the distinction of being her first album on the 4AD label (whose existence we should praise everyday as, without it, the entire musical landscape would be complete shite).
Looking very much like the puppetmaster wielding her synths as The Wizard of Oz, the crowd, consisting mostly of gay boys you wish were straight, couples and girls that Grimes could easily turn (like myself), was powerless against the charisma and musical genius of Grimes. The threat of rain, lightning and thunderstorms seemed only to add to the specialness of the show. Even as the first act, DIIV (the innovation of Beach Fossils' Z. Cole Smith) played, it was clear that the energy of the at capacity crowd was as electric as Grimes' music.
As Wild Nothing served as the transition from DIIV to Grimes, the musical tone shifted slightly from the grunge-tinged nature of DIIV to the more upbeat, yet celestial songs from Wild Nothing's latest album, Nocturne. The River Rocks series, in all of its efficiency, didn't allow the buildup to Grimes' entrance to last for long as she took the stage around nine and played until ten, including one encore that she stated was a slightly unfinished song. Though, in many regards, most of her songs have an unfinished vibe. That's part of what makes them so true to life.
When asked about the writing process for Visions, Grimes stated, "I started to feel like I was channelling spirits. I was convinced my music was a gift from God. It was like I knew exactly what to do next, as if my songs were already written." Watching her onstage that night, the channeling spirits/gift from God elements appeared in full effect.
It may have been six months since Lana Del Rey's catastrophic performance on Saturday Night Live, but very few people have allowed her to forget it. With her latest slew of shows at Irving Plaza (June 7th, 8th, and 10th), it is clear that Del Rey's aim is to subdue all negativity regarding her talent. Moreover, Del Rey enlisted the help of an unlikely opening act, Zebra Katz (of "Ima Read"/Rick Owens fame), to perhaps further buffet her credibility as a desirable hip hop collaborator (Del Rey's music has been revamped by the likes of Azealia Banks and Notorious B.I.G. via Terry Urban).
After Zebra Katz took the stage with Njena Redd Foxx (performing the tracks "Hipsters on the L Train," "ICU," "Silly Bitch," and "Ima Read"--though Del Rey's unabashedly white audience seemed at a loss to comprehend the goodness of the songs), Del Rey did not leave the audience waiting long, delving into "Blue Jeans" as her opener and then treating them to a new song entitled "Body Electric." Clutching earnestly to her dress and executing hand motions similar to Madonna in the video for "Frozen," it was evident that Del Rey's only focus was on singing at her finest.
Del Rey then jumped into "Born to Die," continuing with the use of found video imagery that she has become renowned for. Picking up the pace (at least by Del Rey song tempo standards), "Lolita" followed, with random flashes to JonBenet Ramsey that were both slightly disturbing and subliminal. Appropriately enough for her tour, Del Rey includes "Summertime Sadness" in the setlist as well, which is, in this listener's opinion, the best track off of Born to Die.
Continuing her sultry, yet innocent tone, Del Rey belted "Without You," a song that starts out with the materialistic lyrics, "Everything I want I have: Money, notoriety, and rivieras. I even think I found God in the flashbulbs of the pretty cameras," but then goes on to lament, "They think I have it all/I've nothing without you." This then transitions into an equally male laudatory track, "Million Dollar Man" (which I much prefer as the Notorious B.I.G. mash-up, "Unbelievable Man").
The latest single from her album, "Carmen," was delivered in the most endearing manner, with lyrics like, "Only seventeen but she walks the streets so mean." To conclude the show, Del Rey delivered the one-two punch of "Video Games" and "National Anthem." In a somewhat pretentious move, however, Del Rey did not offer up any encores--though, in her defense, she did sing most of the available material on her album. Later this summer, Del Rey is slated to re-release an album with the songs she wrote as Lizzy Grant, called, aptly, Lana Del Rey A.K.A. Lizzy Grant.
I was lucky enough to be granted access to the grounds for Jam Day, which was headlined by the Roots, Booker T. Jones and Gary Clark Jr.
Armed with my slightly-above-quality point & shoot camera, I took some shots from photo pit. Enjoy them below.
Since there are so many, you might be wondering who is who in the images -
The girl in the yellow is Selah Sue, a Belgian act with a very eclectic, wordly sound - check her out.
Clad in the shiny blue pants and Transformers hat is Thundercat, a jazz/fusion bassist. You can probably figure out who Booker T. Jones is (hint - he's sitting at the piano).
GCJ and his shiny red guitar were a pleasure to shoot, considering he's one of my top current acts to see live - he blew me away at Coachella and it was great to see him in a not-so-windy-and-rainy setting on Sunday.
As for The Roots, well - they're masters. They opened with an excellent and poignant tribute to the Beastie Boys' Adam Yauch, playing part of Paul Revere before launching into their regular set, which was as top-notch as it always is.
It was also cool to have a picture of myself Tweeted by ?uestlove - No, really, he did that after the show. I'm in the green t-shirt in the photo pit.
Enjoy the photos below, after two videos shot at the show:
Booker T. Jones - Green Onions
Gary Clark Jr. - Bright Lights
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Beck played an intimate gig at the El Rey on Tuesday night, and it was as great as you'd imagine.
Our guest writer Alicia Haberman shares her live review of Bright Light Social Hour at the Bootleg Theater!
That album, if you haven't heard it, is pretty solid - it's a bit more pop-oriented than 2003's It's All in Your Head or the band's self-titled debut, but if you dug 2000's Horrorscope you might want to pick it up. It's been a long time since they've released new music - 9 years, in fact - and they sound fresh and rejuvenated with the new record. Here's the official video for the song Victoria, as a preview:
Those fresh vibes translated well at the Troubadour, too - their 20-song set was highlighted with some new material (Situation Infatuation, B.F.G.F., Pick up the Pieces, Lost & Found, Curtain and Victoria), as well as a dip into their back catalog (Nightmare, Open Road Song, Amphetamines, Think Twice, Superhero Girl, Tongue Tied, Leech, and so on).
The show's openers were solid too - Kenan Bell, a L.A. resident with a keen sense of wordplay and a solid backing band got the crowd amped, while The Colourist delivered a fantastic 30-minute set of very infectious indie/pop. They have a residency at the Bootleg Theater in L.A. each Monday in June, and you should check them out if you're into that scene - they're great.
Below, enjoy some photos and videos from the Troubadour gig.
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Can you feel it coming? OOH.
A recap of the fun at Club Nokia last night.
I saw The Darkness.
Yes, the House of Blues Sunset Strip presents a drastically different (and less claustrophobic) night out than Slim's in San Francisco does, but man, did the UK glam-rock lads more than make up for their time away.
Unlike LA, which apparently had a few chances to see the Darkness back in the early 2000s when they exploded onto the scene with 2003's Permission to Land, the Bay only had one shot (that I was privy to), and I sweated in the tiny hotbox of Slim's while Justin Hawkins, Dan Hawkins, Ed Graham and Frankie Poullain did their thing. It was magnificent.
And then, it was over, after they broke up after 2005's One Way Ticket to Hell...and Back didn't continue the success achieved by their breakthrough debut.
One of the first shows I saw after moving to LA in 2008 was catch Justin's new band, Hot Leg, at the Viper Room, but it just made me miss the Darkness more.
Last night, the wounds caused by living in a world devoid of Darkness were healed, and the band ripped through a nearly two-hour set of the entire Permission to Land record, old gems, new tunes, and all the guitar solos one can possibly handle in one sitting.
The openers, Crown Jewel Defense, were energetic, and I caught a free t-shirt (that I can't wear), but they were the quintessential "Sunset Strip opening band" - loud, colorful, obnoxious, and riff-heavy. The singer at times sounded like the guy from Ugly Kid Joe, but they didn't have any songs as grabbing as Everything About You, sadly.
Next up were Foxy Shazam, a band I've heard a lot about but hadn't had the chance to see. To say "they delivered" wouldn't quite do it justice; they're balls-to-the-wall insane live.
Lead singer Eric Nally flopped around, told long, meandering stories and jokes that didn't have an ending or punch line, and, um, ate cigarettes. Apparently that's part of his shtick, much to my girlfriend's horror (and mine, admittedly - that's just gross, and it can't be healthy).
Musically, though, they were great - keyboardist Schuyler White (not to be confused with her) looks like a lost Zappa and repeatedly pounded his keyboard like it owed him money. And the facial expressions! Dude was possessed.
They tore through songs from the recently-released Church of Rock and Roll, like I Like It, Holy Touch, and The Temple, and by the time they were done I had joined the congregation.
After a short break, it was finally time for the Darkness.
Slamming through Black Shuck, they kicked off their 21-song set with an enthusiasm and energy that set the place alight. Justin Hawkins, clad in a cutoff American flag jacket and matching pants, was at his best, his customary screech hitting all the right notes throughout the whole set. That's honestly very impressive, considering how hard it must be to maintain pipes like that.
Behind him, the other Hawkins, Graham and Poullain were fitting accomplices - they're all stellar musicians, with the Hawkinses regularly trading riffs and Poullain scowling like an old movie villain.
Blended in with songs from their debut were some new jams, like Concrete (one of my favorites of the new material), She's Just a Girl, Eddie, and Out of this World. Hazel Eyes was also a nice treat, as for some reason I wasn't expecting that to show up on the set list. (Enjoy the video of that song below, courtesy of our pals at Concert Confessions).
They even paid homage to Radiohead, covering Street Spirit (Fade Out), transforming the emotionally gripping original song into a blast of 1980s power metal cheese, which was amazing (and probably abhorrent to the most serious-faced Radiohead fans in the building). Behold:
They held I Believe in a Thing Called Love until the very end, before the 2-song encore of Bareback and the show-closing Love on the Rocks with No Ice, which featured Justin riding around on a security guard's shoulders while playing a guitar lead (just as he did nine years ago in SF).
In all, it was a magnificent night of good-natured rock 'n' roll fun.
The Darkness aren't here to revolutionize the world, they aren't here to be serious and make statements. They're here to represent a lost era of rock music - when bands like Thin Lizzy reigned supreme.
You could tell that they loved being back, too - Justin cracked jokes, smiled, and the whole atmosphere was one of enthusiasm and lightheartedness.
We needed them, and they came back.
Thanks guys, and please, come back soon.
Here are some obnoxiously blurry photos from the show, on my old trashy digital camera that is in dire need of being replaced.
As far as live debuts go, this one probably couldn't have been any better.