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A Perfect Circle @ Universal Amphitheater, Universal City CA 06/05/04

Hey peeps, I caught APC at the Universal Amphitheater last night, and it was one kick ass show It was mellower than I thought, perfect musical setting to get lost in dream like haze…or more accurately a pot like haze
There was plenty of politically charged dialogue onstage. Maynard and Billy took plenty of pot-shots at President Bush, affectionately referred to as “G.W.” or “the prick.” Maynard even had a life sized standee of President Bush, which he hid behind during their opening number “Vanishing.” Right after the song “Magdalena,” Maynard started playing with the crowd, saying “you know, not this last song, but the song before it, I could have sworn I smelled…marijuana!” which of course was greeted with a roar of laughter and applause. He then proceeded to say “wucha think of that ‘G.W.’(pointing over at the life-size standee), they’re just tryin to have fun!”
After “3 Libras” which featured guest musician Paz Lenchantin on violin, Jeordie White (aka Twiggy Ramirez) led the crowd into a little musical satire called “Freddie’s Got Slacks” …while the life-size standee of “G.W.” (James Iha) battled it out with a standee of “The Terminator” (Billy Howerdel). The Terminator won by the way, literally demolishing the standee of “G.W.” Maynard apologized for the silly antics, and promised it would never happen again haha.

VANISHING
PET
THE HALLOW
MAGDALENA
WEAK AND POWERLESS
BLUE
THINKING OF YOU
A STRANGER
THE PACKAGE
3 LIBRAS
FREDDIE GOT SLACKS/GW vs. THE TERMINATOR
THE NURSE WHO LOVED ME
THOMAS
THE OUTSIDER
THE NOOSE
JUDITH
All in all a great show, even with the political undertones. The band was in good form, and it was very cool to see various alumni of other groups, like James Iha of Smashing Pumpkins, Jeordie White of Marilyn Manson’s band, and Josh Freese (what band hasn’t he played with?). My lady made the observation, she said something like “there’s only one way to describe it, it was beautiful.” She hit the nail on the head. APC’s music is dark, moody, brooding, but it also has this lovely yet melancholic side to it. Even onstage, shades of blue lighting were used heavily, adding to the mysticism and sweet sorrow of the music. My only disappointment with the set was the absence of “Orestes,” one of my favorite tracks off of Mer De Noms. I later reported this to a coworker who opined that the track is too difficult for Maynard to consistently pull off in a live setting. That could be true as evidenced by some bootlegs that are floating around online. Maynard’s voice would crack during the outro. Good experience, very glad we caught these guys live.
Thanks for reading, and if you’re even remotely interested in seeing APC, I suggest you get your ass out there and see them

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Yes & Dream Theater @ Universal Amphitheater, Universal City CA 09/19/04

HOLY SHIT! Wow, if you had told me this was a co-headlining gig I would have believed you! DT received a deafening roar compared to the SD gig, and the applause and cheering in between songs was just as spirited. This was my 4th and final Dream Theater gig of the Train of Thought Tour (officially the Yes/DT Tour at this point) and second occasion seeing Yes.

The Venue
If you guys aren’t familiar with the Universal Amphitheater, it’s a 6,200 seater in Universal Studios Hollywood. A very long line had already formed by 6:00pm, the frustrated theme park patrons had to cut through us in order to get to the parking structures and City Walk. The fans started to get antsy, 6:20 rolled around and we still hadn’t moved! A big jolly gentleman puffing on a cigar asked “Did you see them at the Pantages?” I said “Hell yes I did” He said he loved both bands but was there to see DT mainly. He was convinced I was there mainly for DT, “Because you’re a young guy” he said. He then told me about how he’d seen Yes back in ’71, and how he’d seen Zeppelin and Hendrix. My eyes were popping out of my head at that point. Very nice guy. I told him about the SD show and how long it ran. He said “Shit, if the show’s that long I’m gonna have to call in sick tomorrow!”

It was cool to see all the DT shirts around, especially from different eras. There were even a few Opeth shirts, a Jethro Tull shirt and good God, dare I say it — a CAFE TACUBA shirt!!! This young light skinned guy was wearing a Cafe Tacuba t-shirt! I tripped out. For those of you who don’t know, Cafe Tacuba was/is one of the pioneering musical forces behind world music and rock en espanol in the ’80s and ’90s. Not heavy music at all, hell it’s not even that rocking. But it’s still moody, intricate, and fun as hell. I complimented the guy, and said I’d never thought I’d see it here. All I got in response was a timid grunt. Okaaaaay. But anyway, the line finally started moving much to our relief. We divided up into four lines as we got near the main entrance for the required pat-down by security. First-timers were mumbling to themselves about the strict security measures. I kept quiet and selected a shy boy. I got through with flying colors and made my way to my seat. I got some kick ass tickets off ebay again, Loge 21, 4th row! And for only $40.00 too

DT
The house was half full as DT opened. The response they got from these early birds was impressive to say the least, especially from the pit/orchestra area. We all rose to our feet and stayed standing the whole hour. Same set as San Diego. The guys were spot on! There were some complaints of JP missing some of his ques in San Diego, but he nailed everything perfectly, as did the other guys. Kudos goes to James for hitting those nut-squeezing notes perfectly. You could tell that the guys really appreciated the crowd response, and they fed off of the energy, especially JP and James. The house was becoming filled to capacity by the end of Learning to Live.

During Trial of Tears, some dude bumped into me as he was making his way to his seat. Normally things like that don’t bug me, but he was extremely apologetic, almost as if he feared an ass kicking. I don’t look menacing at all… But anyway, at the end of the song he passed by me again and apologized. I told him it was no problem. He then said he was going to the bar and offered to buy me a drink. I told him not to go to the trouble. He asked “are you sure?” I thought for a couple seconds and said “what the hell” I asked for a shot of Sauza Tequila, blanco. The dude came back with 2! I thanked him and patted him on the shoulder. What a nice guy! These were double shots! And I hadn’t eaten. Needless to say I was feeling quite at ease during the set.

There were quite a few fans in my section (sec 21) standing. The Yes fans sat politely, and studied our boys intently…trying to figure them out. Stream Of Consciousness was up next and many in the crowd clapped along in time to the guitar intro…then DT proceeded to bludgeon us with their brand of prog-metal At song’s end the Yes crowd was left awe-struck or baffled…or both! The guys were treated to applause worthy of a hometown gig crowd.

The rest of the set went down just as well, with good audience participation during Spirit Carries on and Solitary Shell. The guys closed the seat and were treated as heroes with a standing ovation. The guys gave hi-fives to the fans in the pit area and made sure to wave to every section of the house. The guys were all smiles, ear to ear…except for JM who kinda gave a forced smirk. These guys loved this gig, and I think it would be cool if they played this venue on their own strength. Screw the Wiltern.

Yes
Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite started playing at 9:00pm sharp. The crowd went apeshit. I was looking forward to this gig, given that the Roger Dean set would be used for sure, as well as the possibility that Close to the Edge or Starship Trooper would be played. Yes played the same exact set as San Diego, but Starship Trooper was played as the encore. I feared the crowd would riot if they didn’t.

Yes were just as good in San Diego, but Steve was having more fun this time around, playing with crowd, striking poses and tearing it up on the fretboard. He even got some laughs from the crowd during “And You And I” of all songs, playing the intro on the 12-string while staring out at the crowd, looking from left to right and blinking repeatedly in this sort of comical way. I wish I could better describe it…it was classic and you just had to be there. The crowd was having a good ol’ time too, some of the women especially LOL. But I have to say the most embarrassing fans to watch in a crowd are RUSH fans. Damn those people need to stop drinking. There even a couple younger fans running throughout the amphitheater during “I’ve Seen All Good People,” as if they were performing some kind of ritualistic dance. It was freaky, very reminiscent of Woodstock.

After DT’s sonic assault I was worried that Yes would put me to sleep. And the tequila shots with no food in my belly wasn’t helping, although the crowd was keeping me entertained. Southside of the Sky tore off the roof, especially that keys/guitar duel at the end. Damn I was impressed.

“And You And I” was the moment everyone was waiting for. As soon as the intro started, the crowd let out this collective gasp. It was a great 10 minutes, and it was surreal seeing most of the crowd stand and do the Jon thing…hands outstretched, rising and falling with the music. Wow. The closer for the night was “Starship Trooper.” It sounded just as grande and sweeping as the studio original. Jon’s vocals were impeccable.

Conclusion
A GREAT show, helluva lot better than SD. Jon even thanked DT at set’s end, of course there was the obligatory “Fuck Dream Theater” comment I heard from behind me.

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Yes & Dream Theater @ Viejas Casino and Resort, Alpine CA 09/16/04

Waited a loooong time for this. I don’t know if the hour with DT wore me out, but by the time Yes was halfway through their set, I was ready to drive back to Orange County!

This was my 3rd Dream Theater gig this tour (Train of Thought 2004) and my first ever Yes show. I purposely avoided the online spoiler setlist and review threads so I could listen without prejudice or preconceived expectations. Needless to say, I was WOWED. First, let’s start at the beginning:

Preshow/Soundcheck
I got off of work early and began the drive solo to Alpine, CA (San Diego County) at 3:00pm. I already had tix to the Universal show and picked up this SD ticket last minute. I ran into traffic on ALL the damn freeways: the 5-South, the 805-South and the 8-East which was annoying as hell. It should have taken me 90 min to get there, in reality it took 2 hours 15 minutes. Got to the venue 45 minutes before doors opened!

The Venue itself is actually a pristine little oasis in the middle of nowhere. To be fair, it’s actually part of the Viejas Casino complex which is located on the Viejas Indian Reservation. The Viejas Casino is on one side of Willows Road, while the Concert Park is on the other side. The Viejas Concert Park is actually nestled among a cluster of outlet stores. I got the chance to have a Subway sandwich 200 feet away from the stage and listened to DT’s soundcheck as I ate my dinner on the Subway Shop patio!!! I could see the stage and watched the guys fiddle around, then tear into a superb but shortened version of “In The Name Of God.” I kicked myelf for not bringing my camera. I could have gotten some sweet shots from my vantage point. There were a handful of other DT fans milling about, straining to see the guys soundcheck. At first we couldn’t tell which band was soundchecking. The Siamese Monster was visible, and Alan White’s kit was setup just behind the Monster, but no drummer was visible, at least it was difficult to spot the drummer. “So who’s warming up?” asked one of the DT fans. Then we heard a series of rapid fire quads with double bass fills…you know, the kind that will make you cream your pants. All doubt was now dispelled. “It’s Miiiiiiiiiike!” screamed one of the guys. Outlet shoppers going about their business also stopped to see what all the fuss was about. A very cool and intimate little setup. I finished my sandwich and entered the park.

DT

I found my seat and made myself comfortable. Seating was designed for a crowd under 1,000. It was cool looking at all the different T-shirts. Pleasing to see quite a few DT shirts in there. I was representing, wearing my AWAKE Tour shirt. A security staff member approached me and asked about Dream Theater, she hadn’t heard of them (of course). I gave her a brief history of the band, compared them to some other groups she had heard of, namely Metallica, Rush, QR and the like. She explained that she’s gotten into a lot of good music thanks to opening bands. She told me that she was looking forward to DT’s performance, shook my hand and walked back to her post.

The park was 2/3 to 3/4 full as DT teared into their set. They got rabid applause from numerous sections of the crowd. The majority of the crowd stayed seated, but it was cool to see clusters of fans here and there, standing and cheering, hootin’ and hollerin’ as DT went through “About to Crash.” I was in a cluster of about a dozen fans and we stood and cheered throughout the whole performance. The obvious Yes fans sat patiently and curiosly. Some looked a tad bored, but that changed once DT gave them a kick in the ass by ripping into a surprise Yes cover, “Machine Messiah.” There were 2 Yes shirts a few rows in front of me. As soon as they recognized Machine Messiah they turned to each other and their jaws dropped in astonishment. They stood up and didn’t sit down again The crowd gave DT a standing ovation after “Stream of Consciousness.” I believe the crowd was won over by that point. We lapped it up, even during slower selections like “The Spirit Carries On” and “Solitary Shell.” Solo sections by JP and JR left the crowd mesmerized. I heard numerous comments like “Who the hell are these guys!?” DT concluded their set to generous applause and a standing ovation.

Yes

The Roger Dean set was not used tonight, and probably won’t be for the rest of the outdoor/casino shows. Yes came up and began with “Going for the One,” followed by “Sweet Dreams” and “I’ve seen All Good People.” Sound quality was great, but was lowered considerably during ISAGP. Several fans kept shouting at the band to “TURN IT UP!” The yelling was more annoying than the lowered sound volume.

There were a lot of older fans in the crowd, complete with eye glasses, receding hairlines and old concert shirts that were either too old or too small now, but that’s ok. Much to my surprise, there were quite a few spanish speakers in the audience. Hell, they were to the left of me, to the right of me, and some louder ones a couple rows back. Jon thanked everyone for coming, and even acknowledged the visitors from surrounding areas like LA and Mexico. A bunch of fists including mine shot up into the air in recognition. I’ve run into some latino Yes fans at the Guitar Center where I work. They voice their approval whenever I’ve got Yes playing over the kickass Bose “speaker on a stick” sound system. They have a deep appreciation for Steve Howe’s intricate acoustic work. Many of these shoppers are lovers of the Martin and Cordoba Acoustics and now I see why.

The rest of Yes’ set consisted of “America” which I was hoping they wouldn’t play. Never cared for it, that’s all. The set was typical of what they’ve been playing the rest of this leg, EXCEPT: “Close to the Edge” and “Starship Trooper” were left off to my disappointment. “Yours is No Disgrace,” “South Side of the Sky,” “Awaken” as well as “And You And I” did make the set thankfully. The acoustic set was very entertaining, particulary the reggae version of “Long Distance Runaround” and the Chicago Blues versions of “Roundabout” and “Owner of a Lonely Heart,” but why the hell would you close a show with “Every Little Thing” ??? All in all a great 3 hours. I’m very glad I finally caught Yes, one of those great progressive rock pioneers from Yesterday, no pun intended. Special thanks to the late Keith Ashley Kitchens who introduced me to Yes. I greatly appreciated those chats. You’re sorely missed, man.

Jon Anderson of YES during the YES/Dream Theater Tour

Foo Fighters @ The Forum, Inglewood CA 10/14/11

Since It’s no longer possible to see Nirvana live, my buddy dbfield and I thought seeing The Foo Fighters might be the next best thing. Like Nirvana’s material, There’s an immediacy to the music of Foo Fighters that I still don’t fully understand. I don’t quite get it. I think it has more in common with punk music which I’ve never taken the time to appreciate. At my core, I’m a sucker for melody and musicianship, which isn’t to say that FF are not great musicians or don’t have an ear for good melodies.  They’re an important band with a wealth of strong material. The songs are muscular yet melodic, frantic at times but also frenetic. This particular gig was mostly an evening of blaring guitars (3 of them!) and unnerving, over the top shouting from Dave Grohl. Maybe it was the mix or the acoustics of The Forum, but damn it was a LOUD show, and not the good kind of loud. It was assaultive to the senses. So it wasn’t my fondest concert experience, but I still got to see one of the pillars of alternative rock, maybe even the flagship group of modern alt-rock.

Cage the Elephant was the primary opener for this gig, while Mariachi El Bronx provided more diverse offerings. I had little familiarity with CTE up to this point. “Shake Me Down” was being heavily rotated on AltNation and terrestrial modern rock radio. They even scored a guest spot on late night TV as well. Upon first listen, CTE wasn’t really my thing. Their sound was very raw, bluesy and loose. The vocals were nasally but with a rough, gravel like quality that suited their bluesy yet punkish music.  They reminded me of early Kings of Leon, but not so uptight and with a better sense of humor. Their set was merely “ok.” They couldn’t reproduce the fire of the studio originals. Something was lacking, and the set didn’t really take off until Dave Grohl stepped onto the state to fill in for their drummer, Jared Champion, who recently suffered a ruptured appendix. Singer Matthew Shultz stated that Dave would be filling in because their drummer “suffered an exploding appendix”, referring to their new group as “Cage the Foo Fighter.” It was at that point that the rest of the set took off, and I think Dave’s mighty delivery on skins helped to propel the group onstage. Now the bass drum truly thumped and the backbeat on the snare drum had greater presence and definition. There was  greater power behind each stroke that effectively cut through the buzz of Lincoln Parish’s guitar and Shultz’ abrasive vocals. It’s still cool to see a band like this tackling an arena, even though they weren’t necessarily my cup of tea. Songs performed tonight included “Shake me Down,” “No Rest For the Wicked,” “Aberdeen,” “Back Against the Wall,” and “Sabertooth Tiger.”

Foo Fighter’s set began to riotous applause. It’s quite a sight to see 17,000 people go crazy for a bunch of ordinary guys belting out songs about everyday life. Aside from the sound quality, there was still plenty to appreciate including the length of the show. The band gave their fans a generous helping of songs, clocking in at more than 2.5 hours. Dave Grohl is a surprisingly great frontman, an entertaining drummer and a frantic guitarist. Dave admitted that he approaches the guitar like he approaches the drums, rhythmic and percussive which was cool to me, I had never thought of the guitar in that way – and it truly defines the Foo Fighters’ guitar style. Dave was super talkative and had a great sense of humor onstage. What I found the most interesting was his personal experience jamming with Prince. Grohl said “Prince is a frickin genius and he’s probably the greatest musician I’ve ever met in my life.” I’m very glad I was able to afford this ticket/trip out to LA. Now if only Pearl Jam will tour soon.

1. Bridge Burning
2. Rope
3. The Pretender
4. My Hero
5. Learn to Fly
6. White Limo
7. Arlandria
8. Breakout
9. Cold Day in the Sun
10. Stacked Actors
11. Walk
12. Monkey Wrench
13. I Should Have Known
14. These Days
15. This is a Call
16. In the Flesh? (Pink Floyd cover)
17. All My Life
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18. Long Road to Ruin (Acoustic)
19. Best of You (Acoustic)
20. Times Like These
21. Miss The Misery (with Fee Waybill)
22. Dear Rosemary
23. Breakdown (Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers cover)
24. Everlong

We got a rockin Pink Floyd cover, as well as an astonishingly faithful rendition of Tom Petty’s Breakdown. Fee Waybill of The Tubes also came out for a duet on Miss the Misery. Lots of surprises this night.

Worst moment: Ear rupturing volume.

Best moment: acoustic versions of Best of You and Times Like These that really got through to me. They were tender, the arena was super quiet and I couldn’t help but smile.

The band had so much fun this night. And it was cool to see Pat Smear onstage as well. I think my appreciation for FF is deepening, especially after hearing Wasting Light and seeing the Grammy win. Image

Morrissey @ The Rabobank Theater, Bakersfield CA 05/12/12

Sigh….what started out as a thunderous show quickly turned into a big “what the heck?” kind of experience. This was our second occasion seeing the British Elvis, The Mozfather, The Pope of Mope, The Miserable One, etc., and although the voice was in fine form, actually it was in superb form…and I’ve probably written it before, but his voice has aged like a fine wine and the man’s still “got it.” He’s lost a lot of weight and looks leaner as well. Anyway, although he sounded great, the song selections left much of the crowd scratching their heads or yawning. The first 6 or so songs lit a fire under the theater crowd. But everything after that, save for a few classics, made for a very confusing concert. Richard Blade, a DJ for satellite radio said it best – why would an artist with a wealth of great material play 10 or so b-sides, covers and obscure songs you’ve probably never heard? Maybe it’s ego. But anyway, great singing, great performance by the band, 3rd row seats, crappy setlist.

We left during what we thought was the last song of the night, The Smith’s Last Night I Dreamt Somebody Loved Me. It’s not my favorite Smiths Song and we were more interested in avoiding the traffic congestion…and Morrissey NEVER plays a second encore. I was dismayed to later hear that the band tore into an even better Smiths song, Still Ill, for the final song of the set. BUT…the group abandoned the stage half way through the song when 5 overzealous security staff pounced on a stage crasher. Morrissey said something like “5 security on one person…too macho, too macho, too macho,” and he stormed off the stage, with guitarist Boz Boorer giving the signal to kill the show. Whoa. It’s Morrissey culture that fans attempt to invade the stage during the encore to embrace and kiss the singer (men too). There’s a famous video filmed in 1995 (Introducing Morrissey) where 2 dozen or so fans successfully crash the stage and hug on the singer during “Speedway.” The phenomenon stuck ever since. Unfortunately, tonight’s rendition of “Speedway” was very anticlimactic. Ordinarily, “Speedway” is a rockin’ showstopper. But much of the power and passion had been sucked away, and this more tamed version is what we heard. The Smiths songs were played faithfully, and I think the live band has greatly improved the arrangements of tracks like “Shoplifters of the World,” “I Know It’s Over” and “Please Let Me Get What I Want.” This show could have been so much more…

You Have Killed Me
Shoplifters Of The World Unite (The Smiths)
You’re The One For Me, Fatty
Alma Matters
How Soon Is Now? (The Smiths)
Ouija Board, Ouija Board
Black Cloud
Everyday Is Like Sunday
To Give (The Reason I Live) (Frankie Valli cover)
Meat Is Murder (The Smiths)
Let Me Kiss You
People Are The Same Everywhere
I Will See You In Far Off Places
I’m Throwing My Arms Around Paris
Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want (The Smiths)
When Last I Spoke To Carol
Scandinavia
I Know It’s Over (The Smiths)
Speedway
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Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me (The Smiths)
Still Ill…sort of (The Smiths)

Odd moment of the show: Well, there were several odd moments. Boz in drag, the setlist, oh…the film! There was a very uncomfortable feeling in the venue when Meat Is Murder was performed. On the projector screen, footage from the film Meet Your Meat was played, showing troubling scenes of animal mutilation in the farming industry. The idea seemed an effective companion to the lyrics of the song, but it was too much. This is an agricultulral area afterall. Morrissey has always been a hero for the misfits, the misunderstood, the losers, and the disabled. THAT I identify with most. Despite the odd set, I’d still like to see him again. There was only one Elvis and one Sinatra. We still have Morrissey and I’ll see him so long as he’s alive.

Cool moments: Matt Walker’s drum kit. His bass drum reso heads were printed with our state flag. Nice tribute 🙂 And just being to see the Man up close was great.

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Photographic proof of Boz in drag. Weird. Check out Matt’s bass drums!