Tag Archives: live music

A Love Letter to Largo

November 30, 2011
Los Angeles, CA

Dear Largo,

Where do I begin? If I start at the beginning, at our old stomping grounds on Fairfax, they’ll know how old we are.

Largo

If I attempt to talk about the extraordinary shows. . . Neil Finn. . . Fiona Apple. . . Aimee Mann. . . Jon Brion every Friday night. . .  I won’t be able to name them all.  I’d forget to mention someone who should never be forgotten.

Speaking of someone who can never be forgotten,  I would like to bring up Elliott Smith. I used to watch him transform on your stage. He may not have wanted to perform, but you had a gentle way of reminding him how much he needed to. It went from not being sure whether he’d get on stage to being hopeful that it may not come to an end. Those were special nights. And, in addition to Elliott Smith, you offered us the space to experience the deep friendship between Elliott Smith and Jon Brion. It seemed as if they felt, on some level, that they were the only ones who understood each other.  Jon had a way of “being” with Elliott that seemed to put him at ease, or at least make him feel significantly better.  And Elliott had a way of sparking a look of pure admiration and awe on Jon’s face when he’d sing “Say Yes” with his eyes closed.  This kind of experience can’t happen everywhere.   The moments that “happen” at Largo happen because you’ve created, and consistently provide, the space and tone that are required for them to occur.

We’ve had a long history, you and me. And I only have good memories. But tonight, you outdid yourself. I was having dinner before the show at La Cienega Sushi, across the street. They’re really nice people and the sushi is great. They’re next door to the strip club and they have a sushi roll called “Spicy TT.” I fucking love that place.

Anyway, I was having sushi (and maybe some sake) and the power went out. The blackout spanned a couple blocks. There was an awkward pause as everyone waited to see whether the lights would come back on. When it became clear the power wasn’t going to come back on, the first thing each person in the restaurant said was some version of, “but. . . The Watkins Family. . . at Largo. . . oh no”

I did my best to assure everyone that the show would go on, without power. They humored me, hoping for a self-fulfilling prophecy, but also wondering just how much sake I had drank. They were convinced enough to play Frogger across an unlit La Cienega Boulevard, to see if you’d do it. They wanted you to pull it off, but it was hard for some to imagine.

You reminded them, and all of us: music pre-dates electricity.

You are one place that can confidently continue a show without electricity. The musicians who play at Largo can actually play instruments and sing. Your acoustics are great. You look beautiful in candlelight.

I do owe you an apology though. I’m sorry for using that photo at the top of this letter, without permission. . . but I know how you feel about cameras, so I’ve never taken a picture of you. Truth be told, you are the only place I’ve never felt compelled to break a “rule.” No cell phones. No cameras. No electronics. No talking. Do you have any idea how much I despise the concept “no”? No, you wouldn’t because you’ve convinced me to agree with “no” at Largo.

I remember a time, at the ol’ Fairfax home. . .  I was sitting at one of the tall bar tables, along the side of the room. “Two drink minimum” – as if that’s some kind of challenge we might not enjoy. There were some friends quietly talking at the table behind me. It happened from time to time throughout the show, but I was immersed in the music nonetheless. “Are they bothering you?” the voice of Flanagan came in from behind. That’s the thing about you, Largo, and Flanagan – you don’t have rules just for the sake of having rules. Flanagan wasn’t going to kick them out for an occasional whisper during the show.  He just wanted to make sure they weren’t interfering with anyone else’s experience. There’s a difference between “rules” and “respect”. Largo is about respect.

I watched people enter your courtyard and bar this evening, somewhat uncertain.  Their steps were cautious.  They were quiet, with frequent bursts of giggles, sounds reminiscent of a childhood sleepover.  But, as time went on, they realized you were serious.  The show tonight would happen, by candlelight, and they’d always remember it.  The volume in the bar increased by 10 decibels. People ordered drinks and celebrated.  Inside the theatre, David Garza was playing piano as people enthusiastically absorbed every ounce of candlelight and music you shared with us.

Whose idea was it to invite John C. Reilly tonight? That Watkins Family’s?

It was a really good idea.

When Fiona Apple walked on stage tonight, she scanned the room, with a “yep, this is right” smile.  “Isn’t this amazing?” Sara Watkins asked Fiona.  “Although, it’s kind of weird to be able to see everyone out there,” Sara continued, alluding to the irony that the musicians could see the audience better without electricity than with it.

“Yeah, I was thinking about that. . . ” Fiona replied, standing in the dark alongside her family of  brilliant musician friends. “But I was also thinking – and you guys don’t know this,” she said as an aside to those of us in the audience.  “This is actually what it’s like when we hang out.  It’s just like this.”  “Welcome to our living room,” Sean Watkins chimed in.

Please tell Fiona that we do know.  “It’s like being a fly on the wall”  I quoted when I wrote about one of Fiona Apple’s previous shows at Largo.  Whether the lights are dimmed or the power’s out completely, there’s a feeling Fiona, The Watkins Family, and their extended family create that makes you feel like you’ve been invited to the dinner party.  We get to sit there and experience what happens as their talents, playfulness, humor, and sounds intertwine.

I also greatly appreciated the “bear” theme tonight.  It made me feel as if you and your kind musician friends had been reading My Travel Tales and knew how important bears are to me.  Everyone sang a bear song.  There was that teddy bear, holding things down, stage left. . . Nick Kroll’s hysterical bear story. . . We all loved the dancing bear that carried Fiona Apple off stage and then returned a few numbers later to dance with John C. Reilly. As we individually solved the puzzle of who was in the bear suit on each occasion, it felt akin to the moment you first realized what’s  going on in The Sixth Sense.

Tonight we sat with you in candlelight.  The musicians performed without mics nor amps. Flanagan and Michael lit our way with flashlights if we needed to get up during the show. The music was exceptional as it always is at Largo.  Each of us who was there tonight will “remember that time when. . . ”

“Ladies and Gentlemen, could you please light up your cell phones. Help each other out of here” Michael suggested as we attempted to file out of the theatre in darkness.  Yep, that happened. We were instructed to use our cell phones at Largo.  *That* tells you what a special night it was.

Love,

Colette
Rock Is A Girl’s Best Friend

PS – please tell Flanagan: “thank you.”

Win Tickets to See Beady Eye at The Wiltern

November 22, 2011

Beady Eye

Beady Eye

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
  • TO ENTER: Visit Rock Is A Girl’s Best Friend on Facebook
  • You will see there are several ways you can enter and 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.”

Beady Eye “Bring The Light”

Listen to “Four Letter Word”:

http://facebook.com/BeadyEyeOfficial
http://twitter.com/beady_eye
http://youtube.com/beadyeyemusic

About The Wiltern:

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.

What Now?

Well, if you haven’t already done so, ENTER TO WIN TICKETS NOW.

For more info about this show or The Wiltern click here.

If you have questions or comments, please leave them for me below.

Thank you!

Colette

The Civil Wars at The Wiltern: We Voted For Talent and Won

November 19, 2011
Los Angeles, CA

The Civil Wars

The Civil Wars (photo by Tec Petaja)

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:

The Stone Foxes at The Viper Room

November 16, 2011
Los Angeles, CA

The Stone Foxes

The Stone Foxes

I like it when, upon finishing a conversation with a band, I realize I can’t actually write a thing they said.  Not that they said anything “taboo” — The Stone Foxes talk about what bands should talk about: music, playing shows, catching up on sleep in vans. . .  and drinking.

They’re not trying to sell you their latest “viral video” or a million dollar iPhone App that looks like it’s important, but means nothing.  They’re not trying to sell you anything.  The Stone Foxes are more interested in ordering pizza and reminiscing about last night’s sold-out show at The Independent.

I initially experienced The Stone Foxes this summer, at Outside Lands music festival.  As we entered the festival grounds that day, the energy radiating from the stage they were playing sucked us in.  We dropped plans to meet up with friends and stayed to watch The Stone Foxes instead.

Aaron Mort

Aaron Mort

Their show at The Viper Room tonight encapsulated everything I love about them.  They’ve obviously watched bands they admire perform.  They understand what it takes to move a crowd and they consider that.  They don’t come across as “expecting” anything.  They work for it.

Between songs The Stone Foxes may veer into lighthearted banter.  They’ll have what, on the surface, appear to be harmless, let-your-mind-relax-you’re-here-to-have-fun conversations.  Then, just when you fall for it, when you’re relaxed and laughing along – they’ll look up at you and start rocking. For real.

They’re not trying to “be” anything.  They’re a band, playing music, enjoying their time on stage.  They’re not trying to look too “pretty.”  I don’t get the sense they’re trying to prove anything.  It’s simply about the music. It’s refreshing.  It makes me trust them. The audience is authentic too.   “Are those real lighters??? You’re using real lighters! Those aren’t lighter Apps. . . That’s old school,” The Stone Foxes observed of their fans, with appreciation.

The Stone Foxes

The Stone Foxes

They’re “in it” for the right reasons – they love playing music.  They feel the weight of the long drive, but they’re not complaining.  Instead, they’re talking about being on stage, playing a great show, pushing through to a heightened level of energy, inspired by the crowd on the other side of the curtain.

Like their stage banter, The Stone Foxes’ music is serious, yet whimsical.  They’re seriously playing, but they do it so you can too.  It’s bluesy rock music you can bounce around to.  It’s rock and it’s fun.  It makes you feel like you can have it all.

It’s endearing watching Shannon Koehler play drums, with a big smile. . .  until you realize that, like a child, that smile is indicative of something noisy heading your way.  That epiphany hits you at the precise moment Koehler kicks it up ten notches.  You return the smile as if to say, “you fucker. . .  that was good.”

They seem happy.  Lately, so many musicians appear to be so pissed off.  Yeah, it’s hard.  And, you may never make a cent doing it.  People “less-talented” than you are climbing faster.  But do you love playing music or not? The Stone Foxes, setting out to prove nothing, made me believe that they love music, that they appreciate having the opportunity to be on stage, playing for us, and that they’re having fun doing it.

By the way, check out The Stone Foxes’ website, http://thestonefoxes.com. It does everything I want a band’s website to do. I can find everything I’m looking for, without having to search.  That’s what I like about their shows as well.

Win Tickets to See The Stone Foxes at The Viper Room

November 12, 2011

The Stone Foxes

The Stone Foxes (photo by Rochelle Mort)

I used to discover a lot of great bands at music festivals.  Lately it seems they’re booking more mainstream, established bands, which is understandable because it helps deliver ticket sales.  Yet, I’ve really missed the days of discovering my new favorite bands at music festivals. Thankfully, one band changed that, with their appearance at Outside Lands Festival this year: The Stone Foxes.

We entered the festival on the afternoon of the second day, walking quickly to meet up with some friends.  The Stone Foxes stopped us in our tracks with their great songs, energetic and authentic performance.  We texted our friends the new meeting location: “The Stone Foxes at the Sutro stage.”  We’ve been talking about that show since August.

One lucky Rock Is A Girl’s Best Friend reader will win a pair of tickets to see The Stone Foxes at The Viper Room in Los Angeles on November 16, 2011. Here’s what you need to know to enter:

  • The contest begins now and ends at 11:59pm EST November 15, 2011
  • TO ENTER: Visit Rock Is A Girl’s Best Friend on Facebook
  • You will see there are several ways you can enter and you can get additional entries for each thing you choose to do. You can follow us, tweet about us, like us on Facebook, and more. ENTER NOW
  • Winner (1) will be selected by random.org and notified via email on the morning of November 16, 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 Viper Room on the evening of the show. Please bring photo ID.
  • You must be 21+ to attend this event
  • Transportation and accommodations not included

About The Stone Foxes:
Here’s an excerpt from their official bio: It’s not just great song writing, warm guitars, a nut-tight rhythm section, and the occasional blues harp riffs that make The Stone Foxes’ second album, Bears and Bulls, so good; the Bay Area band  consisting of brothers Shannon and Spence Koehler and  Aaron Mort have captured something else that makes the whole thing huge, and very, very cool.

 There’s a genuineness here that’s rare and refreshing, and it’s something that can’t be achieved simply by grabbing a couple of vintage axes and plugging into a stack of tube amps. Because while The Stone Foxes may be influenced by the greats of the late 60s and early 70s like The Band, Bob Dylan, and Led Zeppelin, they never sound like they’re trying to be anything but exactly who they are.  What makes the  The Stone Foxes so unique is their approach to making music.

 “We’ll never be a traditional studio band,” says Aaron. That makes perfect sense to anyone that’s been to one of their shows: it’s clear the Foxes care far more about performing their music for living, breathing human beings than an empty room filled with microphones.

The band has been on the road winning over audiences all over the west coast including a opening for the  Black Keys in Phoenix, and will continue on tour doing club and festival dates, including Wakarusa, Outside Lands, Deluna Fest, Jazz Aspen Snowmass Summer Series and The New Orleans Voodoo Experience. The band is writing and recording to support the upcoming summer dates on which fellow Bay Area musician, Elliot Peltzman is lending a hand on keys for the recording and tour.

The Stone Foxes’ new video for their song, “Psycho”, is comprised of fan-submitted footage, cut and edited by the band:

http://www.thestonefoxes.com/
https://www.facebook.com/thestonefoxes
https://twitter.com/#!/thestonefoxes

About The Viper Room:

The Viper Room

I have many fond memories of shows at The Viper Room, as well as some foggy ones (thanks to their strong drinks).

The Viper Room is a real rock venue. It’s located on The Sunset Strip, you can still chew gum there, it’s dark, the floor is sometimes sticky (quit spilling your drinks, people), the music is loud, and I’m certain I already mentioned the drinks are strong.

When you want to see a rock show in LA, The Viper Room is your venue.

What Now?

Well, if you haven’t already done so, ENTER TO WIN TICKETS NOW.

For more info about this show or The Viper Room click here.

If you have questions or comments, please leave them for me below.

Thank you!

Colette

The Dillinger Escape Plan: Get Ready To Lose Your Shit

November 1, 2011
The Wiltern, Los Angeles

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.

Page 8 of 13« First...678910...Last »