Friday, November 9, 2012

Review: Weezer at Hard Rock Live. Hollywood, FL

I'm going to do my best to be as unbiased as possible when writing this review. That's a lot to ask from a woman whose kid is named Jonas. But I digress...

While waiting for the set to begin, Lisa and I turn our attention to the corner of stage right. We see a glow in the dark soccer ball, and a man was dribbling it with ease and finesse. Lisa looks and me and whispers: "Is that Rivers?"
I answered that I thought it was,and we had our confirmation minutes later when the lights came off, he kicked the ball offstage, and stepped over to center stage to rip into the opening chords of "My Name is Jonas".

Each song that followed was stage lit in the color that corresponded to each album it is featured on: Blue album tracks were lit in blue, Green album in green, Pinkerton in gold/amber, Make Believe in black and white, etc...

Rivers greeted us as "Residents of Hollywood, Florida. USA. Planet Earth" and went on to tell us the four of them were "Representatives of the Planet Weezer". I half expected him to say they were from the planet Pinkerton, in a nod to the "space opera" that never was, and Pinkerton eventually became. But perhaps I am just a superfan that knows too much?

The band members were energetic and playful with each other, and Scott Shriner stole the show from his side of the stage: Shaking his butt, dancing in circles, and generally having a great time.

Rivers took to the microphone early on to ask the crowd: "Are you the kind of audience that likes to get sprayed with water?" This was met with cheers, of course. He made it a point to say: "Some audiences are not into that." It struck me as funny that he asked if it was ok if he doused everyone with water.

At times, a chord was fumbled or a lyric accidentally mangled, but the guys were having such a great time that the hiccups didn't seem to matter much.

The show was cranked up even higher when halfway through "Troublemaker", Rivers decided to hit the floor and play his guitar while singing and dancing on a chair about ten rows back. Naturally, the crowd went nuts. He ran over to our side of the stage in the 100s (Our seats were in 202) directly below us and jammed an awesome solo as people rushed to the stairs and crowded around him taking pictures, which he obliged.

"Say It Ain't So" and "Photograph" were highlights; but a huge grin spread across my face when they played "Don't Let Go", which is Jonas's favorite song. I recorded about 30 seconds of it on my cell phone, and you'd have thought I gave the boy the greatest gift in the universe.

What happened next in the set can only be described as magical. I absolutely love the song The Greatest Man That Ever Lived (Variations on a Shaker Hymn). It's unlike any of their other tracks. It comes from the highly underrated Weezer (red album), and the swagger and bombast of the song and its lyrics are hilariously outrageous.
The band broke into a four part harmony that was absolutely breathtaking. The fact that all of them have solid vocals is something I've long loved about this lineup.

They predictably closed with Undone (The Sweater Song), but the very end of the set was very cool. Brian Bell finished the final notes of the song, everyone placed their instruments on the floor, and jumped onto Pat's drum riser. Each member of the band took a drumstick or two and they had a fun little 1-2 minute drum solo that made everyone smile. They took their bows and exited the stage.

The set was only about 90 minutes long, which seemed rather quick to me until I considered the length of their tracks and albums. They played 20 tracks total, so they were hardly lacking in variety.

Here is the set list in its entirety:

My Name Is Jonas
Hash Pipe
El Scorcho
Surf Wax America
Keep Fishin'
We Are All on Drugs
Dope Nose
Island in the Sun
Say It Ain't So
Perfect Situation
(If You're Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To
Buddy Holly
Don't Let Go
The Greatest Man That Ever Lived (Variations on a Shaker Hymn)
Beverly Hills
Pork and Beans
Undone - The Sweater Song

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Review: Juke's "Down Low Cool"

Miami-based Juke packs a wollop with their new EP, "Down Low Cool".
The brand new title track opens the disc, with singer Eric Garcia conceding to living with the blues while trying to find the positive: A girl with long blonde hair, not wasting time crying for lost loved ones, and drinking to laugh at foes. The track also features a killer mouth harp solo.

Two tracks from 2008's "Lungbutter-The Blues Basement Tapes" are revisited and given a much-needed swift kick of energy.
"Mile-High Freak" and "Tiem" sound fresh and revitalized. Guitarist Evan Lamb really lets it rip on "Mile High Freak", building up to a full-on band jam before finding his way through a solo that showcases his talent.

The album doesn't lose momentum with "Sande's Song": a beautiful, folk-tinged, plaintive ode to Garcia's late mother.

The EP closes with 10 Miles to Go, in which Brian Lange pounds the drums with ferocity. Instead of petering out at the end, "Down Low Cool" closes with a wild growl.

Now that's what I call dirty blues!
Check out: for videos, music, and upcoming live performances.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Music Love Affair

I simply cannot date someone that is not as passionate about music as I am.
Several years ago, I was on a date with a guy when the all-important question came up.

I asked: "So, what are you favorite bands?"
He breezily replied: "Oh, I don't really have any, I guess. I kind of like music, but I don't have favorites".
I spent most of the rest of the date trying to figure out how the hell I was going to get out of there quickly.

My entire life was built on a musical foundation. I attended my first concert at age 5. I started seeing local bands when I was 14. I've been advocating for the scene since I was a teenager, let alone hours upon hours I've poured into listening to albums and going to concerts featuring my favorite national acts. I built a career around my love of music. I can't play an instrument, but I sing and perform with bands whenever possible.
It stands to reason if I eat, sleep, and breathe it: I'm looking for someone to share that with.

...And along came Luis.

We're both in the industry. We're both huge music lovers, and agree on most of the same bands. We have the same attitude towards music: You don't have to knock someone else's taste to be satisfied with your own opinions.

If we're going out on a date, it likely involves going to a concert.
If we're staying in, Luis cranks up the half stack and plays guitar in the living room. Or we throw on a concert dvd as background noise. Last night, we laid in bed in front of the computer watching interview clips from Mark Hoppus's show on Fuse TV, and Dave Navarro's web-based tv show.

Sometimes we just turn on Pandora and lay around singing along to tracks we like, and joking about how fast we can turn off the ones we don't. Whether I'm doing my best Brandon Flowers impression, Luis is showing me videos of Tyson Ritter making a very disgusting tuna melt, or we're debating the merits of underrated is very much the core of our relationship.

Really, does it get much better than that?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Music Friends!

Almost all of my friends are borderline obsessive about music. There is an unofficial litmus test to determine whether I can socialize with you on a regular basis, and music is the backbone of the examination.

If you're not interested in coming to see a local show with me, we probably won't be spending much time together.
If your musical taste has the range of 10 bands from 20 years ago that are no longer relevant, we probably won't have much to talk about after the first day we meet.

I mention these things because my music lovin' friends have banded together and given me some great new tunes recently. The onslaught of new music started at the end of April.

Joel burns a mix cd for my birthday every year, and the diversity always runs the gamut from classic blues to Michael Jackson.

Heather and Kyle made it a point to take me to see Clutch, whom I've been threatening to get to know better for years. What a fantastic show. Subsequently, Heather gave me two Clutch albums and Josh Ritter's The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter. I was quite certain years ago that I'd filled my quota of singer- songwriters. I was wrong, and now I can't stop playing that damn album. It comes to a close and I let it roll right back to track 1. She also made me a mix cd with a great variety of artists.

Lisa made me a mix of songs as upbeat and happy as the two of us (a.k.a. Ersa) and I danced in my seat in the car on the drive home from her house.

Luis and Andrew both mentioned Thrice within 24 hours of each other, which lead to a YouTube blitz of all things Thrice, plus The Starting Line, Saosin, and Something Coporate among others.

A Facebook status about this latest group of bands led to suggestions from Tom, Gaston, and Emily for other bands that I can't even begin to list right now. More research to be done later!

Meanwhile on the local scene, Joel DaSilva and the Midnight Howl are working on their debut. Beauty to the Moon just announced that they're working on a follow-up album. I've discovered Bobby and the Renegades, Hymn for Her, and gotten more into the Shakers. Hit Play! has drastically changed their lineup. Checking out Sugar in the Gas Tank live is on my to-do list, thanks to Spano's new hosting gig on Buzz Junior.

I have the greatest music friends in the world.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Jimmy Pagano Memorial @ America's Backyard

I spent last evening with my local music family, celebrating the life of drummer and music promoter Jimmy Pagano.
Standing off to one side just after I arrived, I surveyed the motley crew of rockers assembled for a night of music and memories. It was a bit surreal to see bandanas, torn jeans, and myriad tattoos at a Top 40/dance club, but what a great time indeed.

The guests in attendance read like a who's who among South Florida musicians, photographers, and artists. There was absolutely zero ego in this room, however. Lots of laughter and rotating jams as everyone took turns hitting the stage and playing some really solid covers.

Judy Blem and several fantastic volunteers organized a fine event, along with the help of area businesses donating items for raffle and silent auction. A program has been set up in Jimmy's memory: The Jimmy Pagano Music Scholarship Fund. This has been arranged through the Dan Marino Foundation, and information can be found here:

I did not know Jimmy personally, aside from a few haphazard Facebook run-ins. But to hear what a beautiful soul he was, such a hard working and positive force in our community, made me proud to be part of this community, too.

This gathering allowed me the opportunity to catch up with some old friends, and meet a bunch of new ones as well. It was nice to spend the evening with good music, great company, and a few drinks.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Hep Cat Boo Daddies at Elwood's Dixie BBQ

It's no secret the Hep Cat Boo Daddies are good friends of mine, so when I learned they were going on an indefinite hiatus, I made it a point to attend their show this past Saturday at Elwood's Dixie BBQ in Delray Beach. I stepped in halfway through a song, taking a seat at an empty table up front. I settled in with a Magner's, propping my feet up on the chair in front of me, readying myself for three sets of HCBD.

I focused first on Joel, watching him play and sing like I have done so many times over the years I've lost count. He played carefully, with alternating focus and ease. In a conversation we had after the set, I told him I've enjoyed watching him grow as a musician. He has become even more proficient of a player, and his stage presence is more electric than I've ever seen it.

I turned my attention to Evil, the bass playing embodiment of cool. Standing off to one side sporting his trademark shades, he makes playing look so effortless that I'd be tempted to jump up there and jam myself. He's always a joy to watch.

George is a fine addition on the skins, having replaced Randy Blitz several months ago. He was all smiles and even sang a couple of covers, including "Folsom Prison Blues".

By the second set, the boys started breaking out some tracks from HotRodSexGod, which did not leave my cd player for approximately the entire length of the summer of 2007. I tapped my bottle to the table in time with George's drums, singing along with Joel.

The third set was a half hour, anything goes impromptu jam with a roundtable of musicians that happened to be at the gig. Joel invited me up to sing a song, but I was caught off guard and didn't know what we'd all be familiar with so I declined. I'd gladly take him up on the offer another night, as sharing a stage with him would be my pleasure, indeed.

Catch the last Hep Cat Boo Daddies performance before hiatus at Big Easy Bar and Grill in Hollywood: Saturday, June 18th.

You can also check out Joel's new band: Joel DaSilva and the Midnight Howl

Monday, May 16, 2011

Listening With Fresh Ears

Last year, my friend suggested I check out "Warning", his favorite Green Day album. It was the only one I'd never heard, so I gave it a listen. I've heard it a handful of times over the last several months, but only yesterday did I pick up on the jingle bells in Deadbeat Holiday. As Billie Joe Armstrong begins the lyric: "Christmas lights in the middle of August", the bells chime in subtley. My ears perked up, and I admonished myself for not having noticed it sooner.
One of my favorite things about being a passionate music lover is discovering the nuances a band chooses to include in its music. Sometimes the choice is in the instrumentation, like the Green Day song I mentioned above. Other times, the choice is in the mixdown, when the music floats from the left channel of your headphones to the right. If you're a radio personality, the mixdown could send you into a state of panic. We often wear our headphones over just one ear. If the song starts in the left channel, as Korn's "Coming Undone" does, you'll flip out thinking you have dead air. Your heart skips a beat until the drums kick in, and you laugh at yourself for the mini freak out.
When I was younger, I used to spend an entire afternoon with my mom and dad's record player, headphones engulfing my tiny head as I pulled out the sleeve and followed the lyrics intensely. As an adult, the closest I can come to that is a car ride to work. I miss the days of devoted listening.
What are some of your favorite subtle music discoveries?