Thrice turned in a fantastic set last Tuesday at the Mayan Theatre, the kind of show that sets them apart as a rarity: one of those bands that only get better with age.

There are very few ways to impress music listeners anymore. It's all pretty much been heard and done before. But with the troika of performances that took place on October 5th at Bowery Ballroom, new life was breathed into the category of live acts.

Austra's lead vocalist, Katie Stelmanis, is nothing if not extremely meticulous when it comes to her craft. In choosing the opening bands of Lydia and Light Asylum, it was instantly clear that Stelmanis knows what she wants--theatricality and balls out unabashedness. Lydia consisted of an eight-piece band featuring two interpretive dancers that kept the crowd mesmerized and entertained. Counteracting this demure and stately conception was Light Asylum, helmed by the incredibly distinctive and androgynous Shannon Funchess. Among other topics, Funchess mentioned the ridiculousness of protesters being arrested for participating in Occupy Wall Street. Her dance moves, however, were much too amazingly distracting to pay attention to any kind of political message she had to give.

Austra took the stage soon after, opening with the ever so dramatic "The Beast." Unlike most bands, Austra doesn't give a fuck about commencing a show with a crowd-pleasing, upbeat song--though they did sing their hit, "Lose It," the third song in. The backup twin singers, Sari and Romy Lightman, were also in full effect with outfits that showcased looks from the 1920s and the 1980s (one rocked a beaded dress and the other an intimidating set of shoulder pads, to be specific).

Stelmanis, usually one to let the music speak for itself, became rather chatty toward the end of the performance, calling herself an asshole for not sooner acknowledging the birthdays of Sari and Romy, who quipped, "You only turn eighteen once." Apart from leaving out their covers of Roy Orbison's "Crying" and The Strokes' "Alone, Together," there was absolutely nothing left to be desired from this show--particularly the stoic keyboard stylings of Ryan Wosniak. Behind the Hype has a hunch that this is merely the beginning of Austra's on-point, anti-bland concerts.

Last night, three of the most talented bands affiliated with Sargent House Records came together for a show at the Troubadour. Adebisi Shank, Tera Melos and Le Butcherettes played to a mostly-packed house of SH fans, many of which were clad in various shades of flannel and/or beards.

Sargent House is a label that prides itself on its eclecticism, and that was no more evident than at this show.  Wexford, Ireland’s own Adebisi Shank hit the stage promptly at 8:30 and set the place on fire. Vincent McCreith, Larry Kaye and Michael Roe may have only played a thirty-minute set, but the amount of noise they made in that span more than made up for its abruptness. Strictly an instrumental band, Kaye and McCreith did have microphones with which they talked and cracked jokes between songs (“This is Los Angeles…this is the town Rockabye is about, isn’t it?” McCreith said, referencing the forgotten late 1990s alt/radio hit by Shawn Mullins).

Musically, they were something to see. McCreith wore a thick-looking red wool mask over his face the entire set, which must have been rather uncomfortable, considering how swelteringly hot it was in the Troubadour already. Adebisi Shank bring a certain organized chaos to their live performances; while the music skips around often and its abrasive guitar tones can catch you off guard sometimes, there’s a degree of precision and slickness to the way they play their instruments that makes it impressive. If you think you like experimental rock but haven’t heard or seen Adebisi Shank, you’re missing out. Judging by the big crowd they had as a show opener, it was apparent that a lot of people in the crowd knew about them already, which is a testament to Sargent House’s devoted fan base.

Tera Melos were next in line on the bill, and thanks to a smart stage set up there was only a ten-minute or so break between bands. The noisy Sacramento experimental/math rock band had a longer set than Adebisi Shank, playing for nearly forty-five minutes. While personally, Tera Melos’ brand of challenging experimental math rock music isn’t normally my cup of musical tea, I have to hand it to them. Their songs switch tempos and sounds and tones every fifteen seconds or so, it seems, and yet somehow they’re all on the same page musically. That part is just astounding; I can’t imagine writing music like this, let alone practicing and playing it in concert.

What may sound like chaotic guitar screeches and drum smashing is actually pretty damn intense and impressive. Nick Reinhart, Nathan Latona and John Clardy alternate between slick guitar-tapping, stop-start rhythms, and vocal improvisation in a way that you don’t see often. Their latest full-length album, Patagonian Rats, released last September, is well worth your time; between the challenging time signature changes and spastic guitar licks is an innovative album that demands to be heard. Check them out if you haven’t already.

Last on the bill for the night were Le Butcherettes, a Mexican band whose debut full-length album, Sin Sin Sin, was produced by Omar Rodriguez Lopez of The Mars Volta (and who himself is a member of the Sargent House roster). The album, it should be noted, is one of the better releases of 2011 thus far; its combination of fuzzy garage rock and feisty punk spirit is flat-out irresistible. The band just completed a tour opening for Deftones and Dillinger Escape Plan, a trek that opened a lot of eyes and helped give them a considerable amount of buzz. That buzz brought me to the Troubadour to witness the live show, which was exactly as advertised: completely amazing.

Teri Gender Bender, as she likes to be known, is an absolute dynamite performer. She pranced around the cramped stage with ease; while they were the “headlining” act last night, the drums were pulled over to the middle of the stage, giving the set up a close-knit, intimate feel. Teri slithered onto the stage wearing a blood-covered apron and sparkly red shoes not unlike those worn by Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz.

The band, rounded out by drummer Gabe Serbian and bassist Jonathan Hischke, smashed the shit out of their instruments all night long; Teri in particular was a beast on her guitar and keyboard, seamlessly transitioning between melodic passages while assailing the crowd with intense, icy stares and support-beam crawling. After mostly staying put for the first two songs or so, she abandoned her shoes and climbed up the support beam to the right of the stage, wedging her feet inside the structure and basically treating it like the monkey bars in a school playground. Onstage, it almost seems as if Teri is having an exorcism during each song; she twitches, scowls, mumbles and screams things in English and Spanish, kicking her feet at the drums. Performers like her are few and far between; she’s a big part of why Le Butcherettes are on their way to carving quite a niche for themselves.

But she’s more than just a flashy spectacle: she can REALLY play. She squeals and screams and sings each song with such fury it’s amazing she can keep up the energy for the entire set. Whereas some female indie rock vocalists such as Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs can be a bit grating over the course of a set because of her cat-like screeching and prancing about, Teri doesn't fall into that category; she dominates the stage with incredibly emotive performing and a total disregard of boundaries that isn't at any point irritating or over-the-top. She hugs people in the front row, climbs up into the rafters, dances around, kicks cymbals with her feet, and gives everything she possibly has into the performance. It slaps you in the face and demands your prompt attention.

After playing most of Sin Sin Sin and presumably some of the Kiss & Kill EP, the set came to an end around 11. Rather than just wave and retreat to the upstairs loft at the Troubadour, Teri saw fit to end the show in a way that sums up her penchant for the zany and memorable: by jumping into the crowd, getting onto her hands and knees and CRAWLING through the sweat and booze-soaked floor all the way out through the lobby to the street. At this point I was fortunate to have watched the set from above in the balcony area, as I had a great view of her antics. The stunned faces in the crowd, shocked that she was crawling about like an animal out onto the street were priceless. It was an amazing way to end a fantastic set. After going outside and seeing fans showering her with attention and applause, it was funny to see her be so humble and react with an “aw shucks, me??” attitude, as if she DIDN’T know that she just won over an entire nightclub with her blazingly intense performance. That was when I realized that Teri is for real; too many times, “super intense” lead singers are moody and brooding, but the earnestness she exuded outside after the show demonstrated that she’s the whole package. If you haven’t yet heard of Le Butcherettes or listened to Sin Sin Sin, you now have no excuse for your ignorance. Get on it.

This was a great night, and an even better showcase for Sargent House Records. They’re home to one of my favorite bands, Rx Bandits, but the talent that comprises the rest of their roster of artists is unrivaled. The three bands that played this show demonstrated that perfectly, and anybody who wasn’t there missed out on quite a night. Stay tuned for big things from Le Butcherettes in 2011, as they’re only going to get more and more popular very quickly.

Enjoy a photo gallery below, even though my camera is ancient. One day I'll take decent concert photos, I promise you...

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Judging by the crowd’s enthusiasm at The Kooks’ intimate sold-out show at the Troubadour on Thursday night, you’d think the Beatles had risen from the grave.

The British pop-rock band stopped by Hollywood as part of their very short 3-city (San Francisco, LA and New York City) mini-tour before heading back across the sea in preparation for their upcoming album, Junk of the Heart, due out on September 12th. A sizable portion of the Kooks’ set list was new and unfamiliar songs, but the screaming, squealing (and predominately female) audience didn’t seem to mind.

LA-based band Family of the Year opened the night’s festivities with an eclectic and varied blend of folksy, sometimes keyboard-driven music. The band’s roughly thirty minute set, which served as a showcase of their full-length debut Songbook, was filled with highlights.

FOTY’s songs have a quiet energy to them that really pays off live; even the more subdued numbers were delivered with a passion and precision that was a testament to their musicianship. I hadn’t previously heard much about FOTY, but they were the kind of surprise that is very enjoyable at concerts such as this: many times when big, successful bands do mini-tours of intimate venues, some random (and usually bland) local band is tossed on the bill to warm up the disinterested crowd, but thankfully this wasn’t one of those occasions. Family of the Year were impressive, and deserve to find themselves getting some more high-profile gigs in the coming months. It should be noted that after the show, the band’s rental van (with all of their equipment inside) was stolen from outside the Troubadour. Help them recover all their lost stuff by spreading the word. Things like this shouldn’t happen.

After FOTY moseyed off-stage, the anticipation swelled. The Troubadour, packed to capacity on a warm summer night, began pulsating with heat. Even upstairs in the cool people VIP area it was hard to get a good vantage point that didn’t feel like standing in a cramped sauna. Around 9:30, the lights dimmed and the screaming began. When Luke Pritchard, Hugh Harris, Peter Denton and Chris Prendergast emerged onto the stage, the anticipation of the previous hour and a half had reached its apex.

The band launched into set opener Always Where I Need To Be (a perfect first song), and by that time the scene could have been lifted from old 1970s archival footage: Pritchard bouncing around the stage with a Jim Morrison-like presence, his open shirt and disheveled hair bobbing around, eliciting many outstretched palms from the kids up front.

It became apparent rather quickly that the Kooks are a fantastic live band. What makes them stand out lies in the power of their live sound: in concert, the Kooks manage to sound both raw and polished on each song. They don’t sound TOO clean, and at the same time they aren’t feedback-y and incoherent either. There’s a dirtiness and imperfection to their live sound that works exceedingly well.

In the United States, the Kooks haven’t ever really been one of those “huge” British bands. They’ve received a modicum of radio play for Naïve and She Moves In Her Own Way, but considering how lively the crowd was at this show you’d think they were as big here as they are at home. When they played those two hit songs at about the midway point of the show, you could sense everyone's camera phones being lifted into the air.

But enough about the hits. The Kooks played six new tunes at this show, presumably off of Junk of the Heart, and for the most part the new songs were evidence that they will only grow in popularity come September. After Konk favorite Shine On, we were treated to Carried Away, a mellow, acoustic number that showed some creative maturity – piano plucks, tempo changes, the whole bit. Mr. Nice Guy was another mellow new tune, again with a nice, easy rhythm and some piano accompaniment. While not a new song, Do You Wanna did provide one of the night’s most enjoyable moments. The band jammed it out, slowing it down and allowing the song’s energy to be stretched out to a powerful five minutes or so. Pritchard milked the crowd’s energy by walking from side to side and reaching his hand out, much to the fervent delight of the girls up close. After Naïve, the band played How D’ya Like That, another keyboard-led new one.

Considering how many of the new songs featured slower rhythms and heavy piano use, it will be interesting to see if the Kooks are going in a new direction with Junk of the Heart, moving away from the simplistic guitar-driven Brit pop-rock of their first two albums. Eskimo Kiss started out with a sweet acoustic riff before picking up a bit and going into jangly summer-y pop. The song could end up being the next Naïve, as it had the same kind of catchiness and memorable energy that made Naïve such a hit. Saboteur packed a Beatles/Pink Floyd-esque punch, with Pritchard manning the piano. The tempo changed quite a few times, slowing down into dreamy 60s pop before picking back up. It was definitely a challenging song, and a far cry from anything the Kooks have created thus far in their career.

Stormy Weather rounded out the initial set, before they came back onstage (to more screams) for an encore of Seaside, new song Is It Me and show-closer Sofa Song. Pritchard did his best Julian Casablancas impression on Is It Me, his lazy delivery taking charge before the guitars came in. When Sofa Song ended and the house lights came up, the hour and twenty minute set was over. Based on the new songs, it’s apparent that the Kooks may be radically shifting their sound, which is always a tricky maneuver for bands of their stature. Fellow British lads Arctic Monkeys gave their fans a lot of headaches with the marked difference of Humbug, but the Kooks probably won’t have that problem with Junk of the Heart. The new songs were fresh and memorable for their difference, but that’s the true mark of a band maturing well.

The Kooks’ gig at the Troubadour was a fantastic hour and a half of top-tier British music from four very talented musicians. The band has a swagger and stage presence that is at home both in huge stadiums and tiny stages, and that’s part of the reason they’re as successful as they are. It was all on display during this hot, sweaty, jam-packed night of Britpop bliss.

The Kooks set list

Always Where I Need To Be

Eddie's Gun

See The World

Ooh La

Carried Away

She Moves In Her Own Way

Mr. Nice Guy

Do You Wanna


How D'ya Like That

Eskimo Kiss

Shine On


Stormy Weather



Is It Me

Sofa Song

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Our friend Tamea Agle aka Ohio will be joining the official ranks of Behind the Hype soon, but here is a blurb and some amazing photos of Leftover Cuties at their release show at Bardot!  

"Leftover Cuties wrote my anthem" she yelled... and then giggled, when I asked a fellow concert goer what brought her out to the show. Leftover Cuties' Places to Go was her anthem and she lived it... She walked out the door... and went to Hawaii.

Their album release party at The Bardot was my second time seeing the Cuties. With a retro with a twist, sound I am always happy to see a show.

For the next few weeks you can catch them live at Casa Del Mar in Santa Monica on Friday nights.

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So, as the song says, and as my new friend proclaimed, "I too have places to go and people to see" so till next time, Listen to the cuties and figure out if they wrote your anthem too!


Photojournalist Tamea Agle guest writes with the Japan Relief Show recently held at The Roxy! Have a read and look at her latest work. Few things are better than great music for a worthy cause. May 25th was just that. The Roxy held a beneift sponsored by Stickam that brought in thousands for Japan tsunami relief. The bands covered a wide range of genras and styles but Abused Romance in particular, caught the heart of the crowd. Front man Meir Yaniv and the band, made up of Roy Chen on Drums, Amit Ofir on Guitar, and Aetam Jakob on Bass took to the stage and made more than a few new fans. At the beginning of the set their fans were already singing and dancing along, and by the end, their new fans had caught on.


Currently on tour in support of their debut album, Shine, the band is quickly making a name for themselves in the industry. Their single "Overcome" was performed with an epic performance from the band and an enthusiastic response from the crowd. I will be looking forward to the quartet's return to Los Angeles.

The band's debut album, "Shine" is currently available for free from the band's site and is absolutely worth downloading. In support of the new album, Abused Romance will continue their tour across North America through the summer with Egypt Central. Be sure to see them on the road!

Tamea A.


I will be writing this review on Prince performing at the Great Western Forum in Inglewood last night. Now I know that is not a particularly strong way of opening an article, but there is something somewhat unique about this statement: I cannot claim to have any kind of meaningful musical knowledge or relationship with Prince or any of his work. Naturally, arriving at the Forum around 8:15 p.m. and watching the colorful crowd trickle in, I had not the slightest intention of writing up a piece. By 9 p.m. Prince had begun his set.

By 9:15, I figured I should start taking notes.

Prince peforming live

When Prince took the stage, it might have been the loudest venue I have ever been in. He played alongside a group of talented musicians, including three keyboardists, three beautifully powerful-voiced backup singers, a female bass player who slapped funky rhythms with conviction, and a drummer whose set almost reached around his body.

Prince also had two backup dancers he called, “The Twinz,” who would come on stage occasionally to offer more visual aids to an already dazzling spectacle.

The stage itself was designed in the shape of the Love Symbol he once identified himself with. This elaborate staging allowed a 360-degree view of the crowd and a large surface for all members of the band to move around and interact with the crowd.

The crowd itself was amazing. There were people of all ages, but it was the fans that grew up with Prince, approximately mid-30’s–early 40’s, who showed up in full force. Almost every time a song started, there would be an explosion of applause and screaming, followed by standing and dancing. In essence, it was a gigantic party for an older generation of music fans.

It was at this point I started to think about the music of my generation. It was a struggle at all to think of any contemporary pop star that might someday reach the level of iconic status that Prince still, and will always enjoy. I couldn’t come up with anyone.

There are several reasons why it is unlikely for any musician nowadays to reach the popularity of Prince. Everything about music has changed since he began his musical campaign in the late 70’s. Where there was once innovation and the concept of an entire album as art, there is now overproduction and focus on top-40 hits in hopes of being played repeatedly on the radio. Music, even in the mainstream, was an art form during his heyday. Now, music is merely a money machine.

Of course, I would be remiss not to give Prince at least a little credit for his own success. The 52-year-old star has been prolific in creating music, releasing at least one album almost every year since his debut in 1978.  Also, Prince has always given off the vibe of a true rock/pop star. He owns his persona and does not waver when confronted with criticism or negativity unlike so many musicians who “reinvent” themselves while basically asking, “do you like me now?”

With a clear love for the stage, and more importantly a passion for making and playing music, Prince has survived the ever-changing landscape of the music business all these years.

Prince musician

Prince played for over three hours, including five encores, before he retired for the evening. He had the type of energy that could not be rivaled by any amount of stage gimmickry. He had the type of energy that could not be rivaled by any number of Gaga’s, Beiber’s or any other current star. He had the type of energy that could not be rivaled.

Even with his marathon performance, Prince was unable to play every song the crowd was hoping for. During a medley he condensed several fan favorites into minute long chunks, explaining to the crowd, “I told you, there’s too many hits!”

This is a problem only an artist who has released over 30 albums and still loves everything about music has.

Here’s hoping there’s someone who can fill half his shoes when I’m 40.

AuthorAndrew Lopez
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It is dangerous to speak out against someone with so many legions of fans and devotees, and--make no mistake--Gaga has an army of little monsters who will do her bidding at the drop of a couturier's hat. Even so, it has to be said that watching The Monster Ball is akin to seeing a pop culture god assemble numerous key images from classic performances, cram them into Lady Gaga's dainty frame (a metaphorical blender), and then hold her hair back as she regurgitates absolutely everything that has already been done before.

It is nothing new for Gaga to be compared to others or accused of co-opting someone else's (ahem, Madonna) style, but actually viewing a two-hour performance of the unstoppable meme drives home the point that her entire career is based on "being weird" and "outrageous"--feats achieved primarily through wardrobe choices. Her shtick of encouraging and embracing those who are deemed outsiders (an unintentional euphemism for the GLBT community) is another integral part of her success and the reason why so many of her fans have glommed on to "Born This Way," an unwitting anthem for not bothering with self-improvement.

This niche she has created for herself is indicative of Gaga's farsightedness with respect to her career. Any argument against the human pastiche has never suggested she wasn't intelligent, brazen, and talented. But she does not seem to use any of these attributes to create her own trends rather than grafting them almost exclusively from Madonna. As the show commenced in the unnecessary city of Sacramento last night, it became evident that Gaga's little monsters genuinely have no idea that their idol is the farthest thing from an innovator as it gets.

The Scissor Sisters, an ideal opening act for The Monster Ball, were a breath of fresh air in a place as devoid of deliberate campiness as California's capital. Singing cuts from their latest album, Night Work, that included the title track and "Any Which Way," Scissor Sisters also delighted with old favorites like "Take Your Mama Out" and "Filthy/Gorgeous," which Ana Matronic dedicated to the memory of Elizabeth Taylor (who died the same day of the show, March 23rd). She also noted, "If you haven't heard of The Scissor Sisters, you're probably either not gay...or British." About thirty minutes after they left the stage, the screens lowered and a remix repeating the words "I'm a free bitch" sounded through the arena. Opening the show with "Dance in the Dark," the silhouetted image of Gaga against the screen echos Madonna opening the Who's That Girl Tour in 1987 in a similar fashion. The costume change to a futuristic nun habit during "LoveGame" is also reminiscent of Madonna's "Like A Prayer" performance during the Blond Ambition Tour. Such comparisons persist through most of the show in terms of religious iconography (particularly during "Alejandro," the poor man's version of "La Isla Bonita"), save for the fact that Madonna never gave any awkward speeches about Jesus loving everyone. That was a little uncomfortable.

While Madonna herself is the great master of imitation, she at least had the sense to steal from pop culture entities that are on the more obscure side (e.g. using Metropolis as the inspiration for the "Express Yourself" video, A Clockwork Orange for the closing segment of the Blond Ambition Tour, covering a Joe Henry song, and taking the idea for "Vogue" from Paris is Burning). With Gaga, her lack of ingenuity is blatant and rarely classifiable as "making it her own." And that is why The Monster Ball comes across as a monstrosity of choreography, fashion, and thematic elements that the Mother Monster has cobbled together from too many sources for her to develop any true sense of individualism and singularity--two concepts she champions above all else.

Pop-punk heroes New Found Glory played a special all-request show last night at Chain Reaction in Anaheim. Tickets for this party sold out in about eight seconds, so anyone who was there last night was pretty lucky.

I know pop-punk isn't everyone's favorite type of music, and because I don't want to fanboy-out for an overly long recap, I'll try to keep this shorter than usual.

I've now seen NFG somewhere around 26-30 times, including countless Warped Tours, Live 105 radio festivals and headlining gigs. Last night was one of the best, mainly because it was so special.

Hell, even Hollywood legend/insane person Gary Busey and son Jake Busey were there. I wouldn't have pegged them for NFG fans, but perhaps they are.

Opening the show was the Bay Area's own This Time Next Year. They're a pop punk band out of Walnut Creek, California on Equal Vision Records who just finished recording a new record with the help of NFG guitarist Chad Gilbert. It just so happens that I went to high school and college with TTNY front man Pete Dowdalls, so it's great to see them getting some exposure and (hopefully) more attention with the forthcoming record.

After their energy-packed opening set, fellow Bay Area outfit Heartsounds (on Epitaph Records) did their thing, equally as energetic and lively as TTNY. Guitarist/singer Ben Murray said they have a new record coming out in June, so you'll probably hear more about them in the coming months.

Then, it was time for the main event. Emerging onto the tiny stage to the Chariots of Fire theme music, NFG smashed through a typically caffeinated set filled with all sorts of fan favorites.

Requests were made via a box on the merch table, and the band gathered the votes before the set and created the set list from the tallies. There weren't really any songs that would cause my fellow fanboys to geek out and say things like "OMG NO WAY THEY PLAYED THAT???" but the set list was still top-notch, with a lot of seldom-played tunes.

Here's the official set list, as per Steve Klein's Twitter account.

In order, they played:

  • Understatement (Sticks & Stones)
  • At Least I'm Known for Something (Catalyst)
  • Better Off Dead (New Found Glory)
  • All Downhill From Here (Catalyst)
  • Sincerely Me (New Found Glory)
  • It Never Snows in Florida (Nothing Gold Can Stay)
  • Head On Collision (Sticks & Stones)
  • Truck Stop Blues (Not Without a Fight)
  • Glory of Love (From the Screen to Your Stereo I)
  • Boy Crazy (New Found Glory)
  • 47 (Not Without a Fight)
  • On My Mind (Coming Home)
  • Something I Call Personality (Sticks & Stones)
  • Vegas (New Found Glory)
  • Truth of My Youth (Catalyst)
  • The Story So Far (Sticks & Stones)
  • Tip of the Iceberg (Tip of the Iceberg EP)
  • Singled Out (Sticks & Stones)
  • Failure's Not Flattering (Catalyst)
  • Dressed To Kill (New Found Glory)
  • It's Been a Summer (Sticks & Stones)
  • Hit or Miss (New Found Glory)
  • Encore
  • 3rd And Long (Nothing Gold Can Stay)
  • Kiss Me (From the Screen to Your Stereo II)
  • Don't Let Her Pull You Down (Not Without a Fight)
  • Forget My Name (Sticks & Stones)
  • My Friends Over You (Sticks & Stones)

In all, it was a fantastic, career-spanning set, a testament to the band's productivity and efficiency in being responsible for a lot of top-tier pop-punkery.

They did this little one-off request show because, as Gilbert said on stage, they've played a lot of these type of shows on the East Coast but "never in Southern California". They're also warming up for some Japanese festival gigs in a few days.

New Found Glory is a band I've admired since 2000. Their high-energy shows are a blast, even making some non-fans get lost in the bouncy riffs and have a good time. They're not for everyone, just as the genre itself isn't, but for those who do enjoy it, it's hard to do it better than NFG.

Enjoy some semi-blurry photos and vids from the show below.


Tip of the Iceberg

The Story So Far

Kiss Me (Sixpence None the Richer cover)

It's Been a Summer

Forget My Name

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As far as rock super groups go, The Damned Things are about as top-notch as you can get.

The group, comprised of vocalist Keith Buckley (of Every Time I Die), guitarists Joe Trohman (Fall Out Boy), Scott Ian & Rob Caggiano (of Anthrax), drummer Andy Hurley (of Fall Out Boy) and bassist Josh Newton (also of ETID) played a gig last night at the Roxy on Sunset in anticipation of the release of their debut record, Ironiclast, which is set to drop next month from Island Records.

First off, I was confused as to the small-ish crowd at the show; this is Hollywood, and I assumed rock super groups like this wouldn’t have any trouble filling up the place, but it was curiously not sold out…yet the VIP section was full to the brim. So I guess that makes sense.

Anyway, after a slew of forgettable opening bands, The Damned Things finally hit the stage around 10:30. So far, they’ve only released two songs, the beer-soaked Friday Night (Going Down in Flames) and lead single We’ve Got a Situation Here. Friday Night was 2nd in the set, after opener Ironiclast.

One thing I noticed during the 45-ish minute set was that the dudes in this band don’t treat this as a silly side project. Every one of them put so much into every song it was hard to realize this is a ‘side project’. Scott Ian, a 46 year old who acts like he’s 20 onstage, was ripping guitar riffs all over the place, as was his fellow Anthraxian Rob Caggiano. While they all frequently struck rock star poses, there wasn’t too much hamming it up, something I appreciated.

Buckley, wearing a black shirt and black hat, frequently took swigs from bottles of Budweiser and spoke to the crowd between a few songs. At one point he said “this next song…is another song by the Damned Things. Hope you enjoy it” or something like that, all in the same faux-Southern accent he uses onstage with his day job, ETID. He also introduced the song Grave Robber with the statement “This next one is about one of my deepest sexual fantasies…”.

Because it was the Roxy, the vocals were somewhat hard to hear from up in front, but that also could have been due to the blistering 3-guitar assault provided by Caggiano, Ian and Trohman.

After years of seeing him alongside Pete Wentz and Patrick Stump, Trohman was really the star at this show. His guitar riffs led most of the songs, leading me to believe that he’s one of the main songwriters for The Damned Things. Caggiano and Ian slammed away themselves, but Trohman seemed to be playing lead guitar on almost all of the 9-song set.

You might not have pegged Fall Out Boy’s guitarist to be a master on the 6-string, but he definitely was impressive last night.

On a side note, Stump was at the show, and almost looks like a completely different person. He’s lost a TON of weight, and it was hard to recognize him for a few seconds. Interesting.

The Damned Things played what looked like 8 songs from Ironiclast and a cover of Fazer by Quicksand.

The set blazed by in a hurry, and the crowd seemed to dig it, even though most of us only knew the 1 or 2 songs already released on the Internet.

Ironiclast is set to come out next month, and I’ll review it here. If the songs I heard last night were any indication, that album is going to be just what it’s advertised as: balls-to-the-wall hard rock played by a team of musical juggernauts from all over the rock landscape.

Be warned, the Damned Things are coming.

Before you go, check out this video of We've Got a Situation Here.


To be honest, before watching Sufjan Stevens and his band of amazing musicians/performers stun the sold out crowd of The Wiltern this past Sunday, I wasn't sure how they could possibly attempt to replicate the intricacies of his latest effort, The Age Of Adz. For the next two hours, I was made to look like a fool as every nuance of almost every instrument (minus the woodwinds) was accounted for by Stevens and a backing ensemble that reached double digits. After opening with a brilliant and haunting rendition of "Seven Swans," Stevens jumped into much of the newest album's material. Playing "Too Much" next, it was clear that everyone in attendance would get their money's worth. Not only was the band up to the task of performing live such intense and demanding songs, they did it with seemingly uncontrollable glee. Two female backing singers boasted matching futuristic space outfits, hitting every note while simultaneously performing a choreographed dance for each song. A projector played clips of various animation and art in the background throughout the show, always lending itself directly to the song being played (during "Chicago" the screen was filled with what is assumed to be the van mentioned in the song, driving about in the background).

Sufjan Stevens at The Wiltern

Stevens proved much more outgoing than his downtrodden music might suggest. That's right, Sufjan got down, dancing often times like a confused robot, much to the excitement of the packed house. His insecurities were also on display, as he apologized for how whiny his material was. At one point, he spoke for 10 minutes about the life of schizophrenic painter Royal Robertson. While some might have considered it rambling (including Stevens himself), it was more thoughtful than just that. He explained that the painter would use very raw and rudimentary materials when creating his art. Sufjan drew inspiration from Roberton, using drum machines and synthesizers to create raw and rudimentary sounds, which he then layered with full songs on top of. While hyper-analytical almost to the extent of completely strange, Stevens was more personable than most musicians that I have seen in the past. He felt like a person on stage rather than a musician, if that makes any sense.

The musical highlight of the night was most definitely the 25-minute magnum opus, "Impossible Soul," which Stevens and company performed... in full. To those who have listened to the song, you can easily understand that this is nothing short of an amazing feat. To those who have not, listen to the song and imagine it tirelessly performed live by at least 10 people while a laser/light/art show is played in the background, complete with a cheering and dance section, an auto-tune duet between Stevens and a backup singer (it sounds funny because it was kind of funny), and gold confetti for those lucky enough to be in the pit.

After a short hiatus from the stage, the band gave the relentless, cheering crowd the encore they were so anxiously hoping for. The encore consisted of strictly songs from Illinois, including "UFO's..." and "Jacksonville." Stevens ended the night with what is arguably one of his very best narrated songs, "Casimir Pulaski Day."

Overall, there wasn't much more that anyone in attendance could have asked for. Stevens and friends put on a show worthy of its own place in concert performance infamy. The Wiltern was the perfect venue to host Sufjan Stevens, providing enough space for the gigantic wall of sound created, but small enough for everyone from the ground floor up to the balcony to feel like they were personally part of something truly special.

It was silly; it was entertaining; it was brilliant.

"Seven Swans" performed the night before at The Wiltern.

AuthorAndrew Lopez
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Last Friday night, Four Year Strong brought their Tonight We Feel Alive tour to the House of Blues Sunset Strip.

I won tickets to the gig from the good folks over at Absolute Punk, which saved me some much-needed cash, money I spent on a sick FYS t-shirt. So I win.

Anyway, the show was awesome.

I love good pop-punk. I’ve listened to New Found Glory for about 11 years now, and in the past couple years I’ve become an avid fan of Massachusetts-based FYS as well. Their aggressive hybrid of pop-punk and hardcore elements works exceptionally well, and translates even better to the live setting.

I hadn’t seen them play a full headlining gig before, so Friday was quite a treat.

The first band I watched that night was The Wonder Years, an energetic band from Pennsylvania. Their Hopeless Records debut The Upsides, released in 2010, is an infectious collection of songs concerning fittingly pop punk themes: being bored of one’s hometown, wanting to get away, jocks and assholes who listen to ICP, and the like. I’m a fan of the record, and they put on a pretty good show Friday, if not for the crappy PA sound that made vocalist Dan Campbell’s voice way too high and the drums almost nonexistent. A good portion of the crowd was familiar with the band, and sang along to a lot of the songs, which is always good to see. Campbell announced that the band will be coming back to Anaheim soon and performing The Upsides in its entirety at Chain Reaction, so if you’re a fan be on the lookout for more information. Bay Area pop punk band This Time Next Year will be opening that gig, so it sounds like a blast.

After The Wonder Years, Canadian hardcore band Comeback Kid did their thing. I wasn’t really familiar with CK, since I don’t generally like hardcore bands, and usually find myself bored to tears when I watch them live. However, Comeback Kid impressed me in the same way Every Time I Die does. Like ETID, Comeback Kid’s fast songs were set to crunchy, melodic guitar riffs, which more often than not provided the songs’ driving force. That’s something I really like when it comes to hardcore-ish bands, and as a result I was pleasantly surprised by Comeback Kid. Too often I see hardcore bands just use the guitars as a background piece to the yelling and screaming, but Comeback Kid utilizes them in the manner that doesn’t make me fall asleep. Yay!

After their blistering set, Four Year Strong hit the stage, tearing into What The Hell is a Gigawatt? and instantly transitioning into On A Saturday (Tonight We Feel Alive), both tracks from their monstrously fantastic 2009 album Enemy of the World. My video of these first two songs is at the bottom of this review, so check it out.

Four Year Strong, a band of bearded men who mash keyboards and guitar strings with a relentless, punch-you-in-the-face-and-laugh-about-it attitude, put on quite the live show. They even slowed things down a bit, actually busting out an acoustic guitar for One Step at a Time.

Throughout their little-over-an-hour set, they managed to play almost every song from both records, including their debut record Rise or Die Trying and Enemy of the World. The crowd reacted to the energy onstage with the requisite crowd surfing, moshing, circle pitting, fist-pumping and passionately singing along.

I don’t need to expand any further on how great FYS is, as I already covered that on my review of Enemy of the World.

If you like the band and haven’t seen them live, you owe it to yourself to do so. Pop punk is indeed not dead, in fact it’s thriving at the moment. Bands like FYS and New Found Glory keep doing their thing, and both put on incredible live shows.

The gig on Friday at HOB Sunset was a night of pop punk bliss, and if you missed out this time you better get your ass to the next show.



The Wonder Years

Comeback Kid

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