I’ve been listening exclusively to Nine Inch Nails since seeing them perform at Staples Center Friday night. It’s been a long time since a concert inspired me to do that. I’ve been listening to this band for more than 20 years and, even today, as I listen to Nine Inch Nails, I can hear new perspectives in the music. It’s dynamic and evolving. It’s the varying degrees of tension between the instruments and the space between the noise. If you step out of the literal and just listen to the music, you can hear something new every time.
There are back up singers in this line-up and when they sing, that’s one thing. When they scream, that’s another thing. These women – and everyone on that stage and associated with this production – are essential to the show. Everyone’s role is additive and complementary to the experience.
Rob Sheridan, Nine Inch Nails’ creative director, is brilliant. Trent Reznor has an amazing ability to recognize and embrace exceptionally talented people. The creative collaboration with Sheridan is signature to the Nine Inch Nails brand. You know what this music feels like as a result of the entire production; not just the sound.
And the sound is great, no matter where they play. Staples Center can be tricky with sound because it tends to bounce around the room. A Nine Inch Nails show – loud as it may be – will not send you home with ringing ears. There’s precision in the production.
If I could use one word to describe Nine Inch Nails, it would be “integrity”. Integrity of music, integrity of art, integrity of the relationship with their fans. This band keeps their promise every time. Even if you’re not a fan of the music, I recommend seeing Nine Inch Nails for the inspiration of the vision and the aspiration of being that committed to their art.
So yeah, the show was outstanding. Where the fuck were you??
Late last year I saw Black Box Revelation open a show at The Wiltern. I had to reference Google to remember what show it was, but I had no problem remembering Black Box Revelation.
What struck me about their show at The Wiltern was its authenticity. It didn’t feel like it was about money or fame, a “hit” nor a label. With Jan Paternoster and Dries Van Dijck (Black Box Revelation) it was simply: music. After that initial show, I vowed to see them the next time they came to L.A.
October 17th was a particularly busy night in Los Angeles, musically speaking. There were, at minimum, five competing shows I would have liked to see. Depending on the set times and the distance between venues – if you’re not drinking – it is possible to see 2-3 shows in one night in Los Angeles. I’ve done it before, but on this particular Wednesday night I was drinking and I was determined to see one band: Black Box Revelation, at The Troubadour.
When Paternoster and Van Dijck started playing, I forgot about all the other places I had considered going, the other bands I might have seen. There was a reason I vowed to see Black Box Revelation the next time they played in L.A. and I was rewarded for sticking to the plan.
Perhaps it’s because they hail from Brussels where, I imagine, if you’re playing music, it’s truly for the sake of playing music. It could be the lack of props and a light show that keeps the focus on the music. Or, maybe it’s the way some people compare them to The Black Keys and The White Stripes, which makes sense in that they play rock music and it feels familiar. Yet, Black Box Revelation is different. Perhaps the familiar feeling is the comfort that comes with consistency in quality.
During the course of two shows, I’ve identified numerous things I find appealing about Black Box Revelation, yet they still maintain a sense of mystery. Not only do they play rock & roll music, they are rock & roll, to the core. Their music is your invitation into their world. The rest is up to you. Don’t expect this band to put out a lyrics video. They won’t stop the show to explain the meaning of the next song they’re going to play. They don’t hard-sell you to visit the merch table. Black Box Revelation doesn’t insult your intelligence. They trust you’ll get it.
Before the music business there was music. Black Box Revelation is keeping that era alive.
I’ve been looking forward to seeing Beady Eye, fronted by Liam Gallagher, Gem Archer and Andy Bell of Oasis, since May 2010, before they settled on a band name.
I was also excited when Beady Eye released their album, Different Gear, Still Speeding, on Dangerbird Records earlier this year. Dangerbird is one of my favorite labels. They’re artist-friendly, fan-friendly, good people, who give back to the community in numerous ways. In addition to being genuinely good people, the team at Dangerbird Records knows how to develop and launch artists authentically.
Beady Eye is kicking off a tour in the U.S. next week and will be hitting The Wiltern in Los Angeles on Saturday December 3rd.
One lucky Rock Is A Girl’s Best Friend reader will win a pair of tickets to see Beady Eye at The Wiltern in Los Angeles.
Here’s what you need to know to enter:
The contest begins now and ends at 11:59pm EST November 30, 2011
You will see there are several ways you can enterand you can get additional entries for each thing you choose to do. You can follow Beady Eye, tweet about the contest, like us on Facebook, and more. ENTER NOW
Winner (1) will be selected by random.org and notified via email on the morning of December 1, 2011. Winner will have 5 hours to respond before a new winner is selected
Your tickets will be available for pick up at Will Call at The Wiltern on the evening of the show. Photo ID will be required to pick up tickets
This is an all-ages event
Transportation and accommodations not included
About Beady Eye:
Watch “The Roller” official music video
Here’s an excerpt from their official bio: “Music, it’s all about the music, we could all have sat at home after Oasis split but what would have been the point of that. We had a couple of weeks off and then we were back in the studio demo-ing. We’re musicians, it’s what we do, it’s how we define ourselves.”
That’s Andy Bell, one of the two guitarists in Beady Eye, explaining why the band had to happen.
“We love music,” enthuses Liam Gallagher, Beady Eye’s lead singer. “We’ve got these songs, we go in and we do them. We’re fired up, not because we thought we’d show everyone it could happen without you know who [Noel Gallagher], we’re fired up because we’re doing music.”
And with the line-up completed by second guitarist Gem Archer and drummer Chris Sharrock, and with producer Steve Lillywhite [The La’s, Morrissey, U2] also in tow, Beady Eye entered London’s RAK Studios back in June and over 12 weeks put down what Gem calls, “the best thing I’ve ever been involved in.”
“It was important not to sit and dwell on the past,” says Liam. “We’d just come off an Oasis tour and we were on fire, if we’d said, ‘let’s do something in a few months, or next year’, the flame would have burned out or we’d have got the fear.”
“It’s the best way to do it,” says Gem, “straight off the back of a load of gigs.”
And the results are nothing short of astonishing. Thirteen songs that are loud, vibrant, exhilarating. It’s raw rock’n’roll one minute, and classic pop the next from the raucous Jerry Lee Lewis and Stones inspired Bring The Light to the Merseybeat wonder of For Anyone, to the stomping T-Rex glam of The Roller to the pounding Millionaire and Four Letter Word. It sounds like a debut record by a band just starting out with a huge appetite for music, and despite individually all having made records for two decades or more as Chris Sharrock says, “that’s exactly what it is.”
I have numerous fond memories of shows at The Wiltern.
The Wiltern is where Nine Inch Nails played their final show. I’ve seen tons of rock shows there, including QOTSA, Wolfmother, Dillinger Escape Plan, and Mastodon. Most recently, I was inspired and moved by The Civil Wars’ show At The Wiltern.
As with most venues, there are parking tricks, secret bathrooms, and easy access to bacon-wrapped hot dogs after the show.
If you listen closely, there are multiple varying tones to applause: polite, obligatory, appreciative, supportive, congratulatory and many more. The sound of applause generates momentum and creates a feeling. Among the most special experiences is when audience applause sets the tone and spirit of a show, in contrast to coming after the events and moments of a show.
When John Paul White and Joy Williams (The Civil Wars) took the stage at The Wiltern, the applause led the show. It lasted a while. It was the sound of great triumph; the sound of victory. I don’t think I’ve experienced that specific tone of applause, in person, prior to this show. I imagine it’s heard during a parade when the hometown athlete brings home an Olympic gold medal. It may be similar to the sound of applause during the celebration of a victorious political campaign.
The applause of the crowd was amplified – we were applauding The Civil Wars, but we were also applauding ourselves. The Civil Wars are “our” band. There weren’t any radio stations, TV talk shows, publicity stunts, or million dollar marketing spends telling us we should listen to The Civil Wars. We discovered them and we told our friends. We purchase their music and sell out their live shows because we support true talent. The Civil Wars sold 100,000 records in 4 months, without a major label. The fans get credit for helping The Civil Wars succeed because there were only 3 factors in this “formula”: The Civil Wars, their music, and the fans. We did it. We “voted” for talent. And we won.
In Los Angeles, we’ve purchased tickets to The Civil Wars’ sold out shows at The Hotel Cafe (capacity: 165), Largo (capacity: 280), The El Rey (capacity: 700) and now The Wiltern (capacity: 2,300). We’ll follow them to The Greek (capacity: 5,900) and The Hollywood Bowl (capacity: 18,000). We’ll set up the “Who The Fuck Are The Civil Wars?!” website when they win their first Grammy. We’re proud of The Civil Wars. This is the music we’re choosing. These are the people we want to succeed. That is the sound of the applause that preceded The Civil Wars’ show at The Wiltern.
After the applause, the celebration, the fuck yeahs and the thank yous, the show began and, in contrast to the sound of uproarious applause, the crowd was silent. The music and voices of John Paul White and Joy Williams then carried us from one victory to the next, song after song, we celebrated The Civil Wars.
[Updated December 2, 2011]
The Civil Wars have been nominated for 2 Grammys this year: “Best Country Duo/Group Performance” and “Best Folk Album”. Here’s their interview with The Grammys upon learning the news:
Disclaimer: This Means Nothing to The Dillinger Escape Plan
The first time I saw The Dillinger Escape Plan play live was during Nine Inch Nails‘ set at Bonnaroo, June 2009. If you’re going to share the stage with Nine Inch Nails, you need to know how to make people lose their shit. That doesn’t mean jumping around maniacally and screaming, merely to put on a show. While they do tear around the stage violently, The Dillinger Escape Plan knows that in order to make people “lose their shit,” you need to genuinely connect with them. It doesn’t matter how much the band moves if they can’t move the crowd.
The next time I saw The Dillinger Escape Plan was during Nine Inch Nails’ final show, September 10, 2009, at The Wiltern. Here’s the brilliance of The Dillinger Escape Plan: I remember them from those two shows and made it a priority to see them again. I hadn’t experienced the band previously, I had no vested interest in them, I wasn’t a “fan”. They more than held their own on stage with NIN. The Dillinger Escape Plan added something to those shows. Nine Inch Nails is arguably one of the best live bands ever. It takes a lot to be additive to a Nine Inch Nails show, especially the final Nine Inch Nails shows.
2 years and hundreds of live show experiences later, I found myself at The Wiltern, once again seeing The Dillinger Escape Plan. This time, it was their set; they were playing their songs. They didn’t have to win over potentially skeptical NIN fans. They were playing to their fans and those of Mastodon, the band they were opening for.
The Dillinger Escape Plan gives you more than your money’s worth. You feel rewarded for buying the ticket, paying the exorbitant 60% service fees per ticket, standing in line, paying $5 for a 50-cent bottle of water. Even if you don’t like their music, what The Dillinger Escape Plan does from start to finish is make people lose their shit. There’s no ramp up to the show. They come out full force and do not stop until they leave the stage. Their entire set is performed at the energetic level of an encore. At the end of the show, feeling like the band “paid” me, I bought a sweatshirt. That’s what you want – as an artist and a fan. The money, sure, but getting people to give a shit and therefore getting them to DO something – that’s the real pay off.
The Dillinger Escape Plan is raw. Real. Authentic. In the moment. Rock climbing, skiing, mountain biking on the edge of cliffs – all things I’ve done – force you to be present. When you’re truly experiencing life on the edge, anything other than what’s right in front of you disappears. You are fully immersed in what’s happening, to the point where “beginning” and “end” dissipate. The only remaining setting is “ON!” That’s how The Dillinger Escape Plan plays.
Access to the pit at The Wiltern is generally GA, first-come, first-serve. You exchange your ticket for a wristband and you’re in. Once the pit hits capacity, you can stand on any one of several tiered levels (assuming you have a floor ticket). The first tier crowd, above the pit, was going insane. ”How come you guys aren’t down here?” Greg Puciato asked them. ”Because of the tickets you have?? That’s ok, I’ll come to you.”
The Dillinger Escape Plan knows how to express their appreciation to their fans. Yes, it includes jumping over walls, walking on heads, and screaming in the faces of fans, but that’s what they came for. And when the fans couldn’t get close enough, the band came to them. ”I would stay out there the whole time – I just can’t do it,” Puciato added as he jumped off the hands and shoulders of fans, over the wheelchair access ramp and wall dividing the pit, returning to the stage. When you see the videos below, you’ll understand why it’s not sustainable to play the entire show, balancing on a ledge, crowd surfing, and head walking.
That said, if they weren’t climbing in the crowd, they were scaling the amps or somehow levitating above it all. As ticket sales across the board continue to decline, it’s bands like The Dillinger Escape Plan who will endure. They know how to connect with their fans. They know how to make people lose their shit.
One of my friends asked me what I was doing tonight. When I told him I was going to see Wolfmother, he responded, “Wolfmother? I don’t know what that is, but I wanna go.” And that’s why I’m friends with that guy – he knows a good thing when he hears it.
Maybe it’s due to my long holiday away from live music . . . Or perhaps it’s just the fact that Wolfmother is an outstanding band, but that was one hell of a show. The audience was among the best I’ve seen in LA – clapping, stomping, jumping throughout every song. If they weren’t already standing, the audience would have given a standing ovation after every song. There were times it looked as if the band was thinking, “Wait – is this our encore?” during the thunderous applause and cheering that followed every song. No, no. . . that’s just your third song, but you played it like it was an encore and the audience responded with the same level of enthusiasm. Wolfmother played every song as if it were their banner hit – a larger than life, extremely energetic and passionate performance start to finish.
Wolfmother played every song as if it were an encore performance
I wonder if Wolfmother knows this was the best show they’ve ever played. I wonder if, from the band’s perspective, this was an exceptional show. . . or have they all been this good? Andrew Stockdale’s voice, guitar solos, and dynamic stage presence took the show to another level. At one point, Ian Peres was playing keyboards with his right hand and bass with his left hand, simultaneously. At another point, Peres was playing keyboards and his feet weren’t touching the ground at all. Peres frequently needed to untangle himself from the cable he’d gotten caught up in while tearing around the stage.
Andrew Stockdale and Slash
Wolfmother weren’t the only ones tearing around the stage. During the encore Stockdale invited Slash out to play “By The Sword.” Whatever the audience was doing before Slash hit the stage, they turned up 300 notches when he did take the stage.
This was the last show of Wolfmother’s U.S. tour. Wolfmother doesn’t just get up there and play — they GET UP THERE AND PLAY!
And the fans continued screaming and cheering as they traversed the parking garage, on the way to their cars.