Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Hives @ The House of Blues, Anaheim. 2-17-13.

My fourth time seeing The Hives in ten months. AND WHAT?! No really, I love this band and don't think I'll ever get sick of these guys. Besides, they're like the least prolific band around (taking between three to five years to release new albums) so forgive me for binging on their music while I still have the chance. Anyways, on to the concert.

The Hives played a special show in Anaheim on an off date on their US tour with Pink. Yes, you read that correctly. My favorite Swedish punks are the opening act for the mega pop starlet. The pairing sort of makes sense, in a bizzaro world kind of way. The Hives get to play to larger audiences (entertaining and confusing scores of people in arenas across the country) and Pink gets to...I don't know, gain some cred? Either way, this solo concert of theirs at the happiest place on Earth was sold out packed to the brim. High octane band + small venue = AWESOMENESS.

This wasn't the first time I've seen The Hives tearing it up at Disneyland. They played two shows at the HoB Anaheim back in 2005, back to back in the same night. I went to the first one. It was bonkers. Pelle hit himself in the face with the microphone and started bleeding mid song and proclaimed that we better enjoy our concert, because at that rate they may not survive to play the second. I was converted to an instant for life right then and there.

I see me...way in back. photo from:
Howlin' Pelle Almqvist referenced those now legendary concerts during this show and I knew he was intent on making this night just as memorable. The band took the stage and immediately went into Lex Hives album opener "Come On!" Within minutes, some poor goober at the bar tried to crowd surf his way to the front, and fell (more like thrown thrown actually) some six feet to the ground. Needless to say the dude was knocked unconscious and had to be carried out of the venue by security. The band had no idea what was happening and kept playing to the packed house. Either way, that was one hell of a way to start a show!

I really can't say enough about how ridiculous The Hives are in concert. Easily, one of the best live bands I've ever seen. You cannot help but have fun watching them play, unless you're a robot or a douche. They could have enjoyed their day off from the big arena tour they're currently on, but instead they played a blistering 90 minute set in a sweaty little venue. Why? Because they're awesome and they legitimately love rocking the fuck out onstage. Still supporting Lex Hives, they played a good chunk of songs from their latest album but I couldn't believe they dug deep into the archive and played "Two Timing Touch and Broken Bones" from Tyrannosaurus Hives. I was stoked. Very stoked.

(This is from the band's show in San Diego that same weekend. It's just a KILLER version of "Patrolling Days" I had to share)

The band's energy was infectious. The crowd inside the House of Blues were little more than putty in their hands. One of the highlights of the night was when Pelle ordered everyone to sit down during "Tick Tick Boom" and proceeded to crowd surf over the seated audience like a "...punk rock David Copperfield" he said. If this turns out to be my last Hives concert before they disappear into the Swedish wilderness for who knows how many more years, they definitely went out with a bang.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Oscar Shutout

The 85th Academy Awards aired last night. I had to work and missed the entire broadcast. Looks like I didn't miss much however, since all my favorites lost in every category. That's right folks, I know how pick em'.

Here's the rundown:

Argo is a damn fine movie, I even said so HERE, but I don't think it was Best Picture worthy. Same deal with Jennifer Lawrence. She's great in Silver Linings Playbook...but Jessica Chastain and Naomi Watts are friggin phenomenal in Zero Dark Thirty and The Impossible. Daniel Day Lewis will always be my homeboy, but Joaquin Phoenix's performance in The Master is, well it's just as uncanny and fearless as Daniel Day Lewis was in There Will Be Blood. Phoenix out DDL's DDL in this case.

Speaking of The Master, Philip Seymour Hoffman was ROBBED. Flat out robbed. Christoph Waltz is Tarantino's new go to guy, and he was great as Hans Landa 2.0 in Django Unchained but he doesn't come close to Hoffman's firebrand performance. Since we're on the subject of Tarantino, he needs to be stopped. I love the bastard and really enjoyed his latest film, but he's just getting out of hand. Winning Best Original Screenplay will only reinforce his bad habits, meaning we'll be stuck with more of his overtly long, bloated and campy films for the foreseeable future.

I wish Helen Hunt, or Amy Adams would have walked away with the Best Supporting Actress Oscar, but Anne Hathaway really stole the show with her five minute performance (or so I'm told).  Notice I didn't pick anyone for Best Director. Since Paul Thomas Anderson and Kathryn Bigelow were snubbed in the category I really didn't have a favorite. I'm cool with Ang Lee (he gave me Jennifer Connelly in Hulk, I'm forever thankful), so I can't hate on him.

TLDR:None of my horses came in. Bummer.

Here's a list of great films that either lost or were snubbed for Best Picture altogether:

King Kong
Modern Times

Citizen Kane
The Wizard of Oz
Rebel Without a Cause

To Kill a Mockingbird
Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
The Good The Bad and The Ugly
Bonnie and Clyde
2001: A Space Odyssey
Easy Rider
Taxi Driver
Star Wars
Apocalypse Now
Raging Bull
Full Metal Jacket
Pulp Fiction
The Shawshank Redemption
LA Confidential
The Truman Show
American History X
The Thin Red Line
Saving Private Ryan
Requiem For a Dream
City of God
Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind
Brokeback Mountain
There Will Be Blood
The Social Network
Fear not Zero Dark Thirty, you're in great company.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Dave Lombardo: Out of SLAYER =/

Woe is me. Seriously. DrumTHRONE inductee, thrash metal pioneer and all around coolest drummer in the world, Dave Lombardo is out of Slayer. Again.

Dave released the following statement on his facebook page last night:
Statement From Dave Lombardo Regarding Slayer Australian Tour 2013

I want to personally apologize to all of our fans in Australia who have bought tickets for the tour expecting to see me in my usual place on the drums.

So that you all know the truth, as of the end of the business day on February 14th, I was notified that I would not be drumming for the tour in Australia. I’m saddened, and to be honest I am shocked by the situation.

Last year, I discovered 90% of Slayer’s tour income was being deducted as expenses including the professional fees paid to management, costing the band millions of dollars and leaving 10% or less to split amongst the four of us. In my opinion, this is not the way a band’s business should operate. I tried rectifying it by letting my band mates know, and Tom and I hired auditors to figure out what happened, but I was denied access to detailed information and the necessary back up documents.

I spent the Christmas and New Year holidays realizing I had toured all over the world in 2012, but yet, had not been paid (except a small advance) or provided a proper accounting for a full year's sweat and blood. On top of this, I was told that I would not be paid until I signed a long form contract which gave me no written assurance of how much or on what basis management would deduct commissions, nor did it provide me access to the financial budgets or records for review. It also forbade me to do interviews or make statements having to do with the band, in effect a gagging order.

Last Monday, I sat down with Kerry and Tom to rehearse for Australia and to propose a new business model that I felt was the best way forward for Slayer to confidently protect itself so we could do what we do best . . . play for the fans. Kerry made it clear he wasn’t interested in making changes and said if I wanted to argue the point, he would find another drummer. On Thursday, I arrived at rehearsals at 1 pm as scheduled, but Kerry did not show. Rather, at 6:24 pm I received an email from the lawyers saying I was being replaced for the Australian dates.

I remain hopeful that we can resolve our issues. But once again, I sincerely apologize to all of our fans in Australia who spent their money expecting to see the 3 of us original Slayer members.
I look forward to seeing you in the future.

Dave Lombardo
This isn't the first time Dave has left the band. There were brief stints in the 80's where he'd bail and they'd tour with different drummers but it was pretty clear Lombardo, one of Slayer's founding members, belonged behind the kit. He would return and then they'd record another awesome album and the Slaytanic show rolled on. This lasted until 1992 when Dave permanently quit the band to pursue other musical endeavors and spend time with his family. Slayer continued touring and recording after his departure but their musical output for most of the 90's, aka the non-Lombardo years, are hardly noteworthy. In fact it wasn't until Dave rejoined the band in 2002 that Slayer began their current wave of rejuvenation and success.

Who's Next???
With Jeff Hanneman still sidelined due to that pesky flesh eating virus he contracted in 2011, and Lombardo seemingly ousted from the band, what does this mean for the future of Slayer? I'm sad right now guys. Hold me...

I'll leave you with what is probably my favorite Dave Lombardo video around, one that I know I've already posted in the past but its just that damn good...

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Movie Review: Side Effects

Are you looking for a suspenseful thriller that doesn't insult your intelligence? Do you like films with major twists and plot turns that throw you for a loop...but have grown tired of the "dream within a dream" tripe we've been bombarded with in recent years. If this sounds like you dear reader, then Side Effects might be up your alley.

Director Steven Soderbergh's latest (and possibly final) film is a crafty little movie. A who dun it caper disguised and marketed as something else entirely or as Tyler Durden said, "...a predator posing as a house pet." I can't discuss much of the plot because, well that would spoil all the fun now wouldn't it. Let's just say the film is part crime procedural, part cat and mouse detective fare, mixed with biting sociopolitical commentaries on corporate greed and the reach of Wall Street and the Pharmaceutical Industry here in the USA. It's like Hitchcock directed an episode of Law & Order: SVU, with a story ripped from an MSNBC editorial.

I feel like I'm taking CRAZY PILLS
Since I can't talk much about the film's plot, let's talk about the acting then shall we? Side Effects has one hell of cast. Rooney Mara is the absolute perfect blend of cute and crazy while Jude Law is equally adept at playing smug douche and courageous do gooder at the same time. These two really carry the film, with Catherine Zeta-Jones coming in as, well, can't get into that...sorry. She's good though. Tatum, well he does his thing. It's safe to say he's the weakest link here but his character is supposed to be underdeveloped so, I guess he's not so bad when you put it in context. Again the film is really all about Jude Law and Rooney Mara's characters. Their relationship and interactions with each other are the key to everything. There's no smoke and mirror, CGI driven tomfoolery here folks. Soderbergh's film is purposely misleading and deceptive but it's all there for you to figure out. A good ol' fashioned thriller about the horrors of modern times. Gotta love it.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Chelsea Wolfe @ First Unitarian Church, Los Angeles. 2/8/13.

 Chelsea Wolfe. The name alone sounds ominous right? Then there's her music. It's dark and brooding stuff. The type of music you'd want to crank as you enjoy your final glass of wine before heading off to the guillotine. This (currently) Los Angeles based singer-songwriter has made big waves in both the indie and metal scenes over the past two years. Everyone from my favorite misanthropes in Gaza and the "Extremely Extreme" folks at American metal rag Decibel Magazine have been singing her praises, it was only a matter of time before I fell under her spell. Her music has been described as "doom-folk" or even  "indie-black metal." I just think it's rad.

Touring in support of her latest album, 2012's Unknown Rooms: A Collection of Acoustic Songs, Chelsea played a stripped down set of, you guessed it, acoustic songs. Her music is pretty low key anyways but she usually has a full band backing her during live shows (or so YouTube has informed me). Not this night however. No, tonight it was just Chelsea, her trusty acoustic guitar and gnarly voice, and a pair of homies on cello and keys/synth. Oh and it was in a dark and drafty old church. Oh yeah.

I knew nothing of the opening acts beforehand but was glad they didn't suck. In fact they were the opposite of suck. Sarah Jaffe and Deradoorian, both low key female singer-songwriter types, served as the perfect opening acts for Ms. Wolfe. Jaffe brought the catchy songs and Deradoorian (and her two back up singers) brought the vocal acrobatics. I was officially warmed up...not really though it was cold as shit inside that church.

friends don't let friends take subpar cellphone pics
When Chelsea Wolfe and co. took the stage, shit got real...real dark. But only for a few minutes. The dude who ran the lights had no idea what he was doing. The sound guy either for that matter. There was a string of technical problems that led to a false start or two, and caused the house lights to flash on and off several times during the first few minutes of her set. The dramatic mood that the candles, animal skulls and crimson red lights had conjured might have been squashed by the technical flubs but none of that bullshit mattered. Chelsea Wolfe's voice and damn fine songs are strong enough to stand on their own. Holy fuck she was amazing. If I could describe this show in one word it would be this: spellbound.

That's right. I didn't bother trying to take many photos or record any video for a change. I was in the moment, spellbound. Chelsea's voice was awe inspiring. She did the haunting little whisper thing she does on her albums, but unleashed her powerful set of pipes as well. Ms. Wolfe could huff and puff and blow some damn houses down if she were so inclined. Her all encompassing voice, the dramatic atmosphere of the church, and the fact that Chelsea towered over her seated audience, made this show feel more like theater than a traditional concert...and I loved it.

more photos HERE at

I'll leave you with this haunting version of "Halfsleeper" some lucky soul in the front row of the church recorded. The sound quality is great so ignore the dude in the hat (he's Chelsea's homeboy....I creeped them on Instagram =p ) and enjoy the Wolfe in action.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Movie Review: The Impossible

I was not ready. I simply was not prepared for this film. The Impossible is the true life story of a Spanish family who survived the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. I knew the film, based on one of the worst natural disasters in human history, was going to be a bit on the tragic side. That would be putting it lightly. The Impossible is an emotional onslaught the likes of which I hadn't experienced in some time. It's a cinematic beat down that will leave you, trembling, exhausted and ready to hug the next member of your species you encounter on the street like they're a long lost relative.

The film, like the real event, takes place around the Christmas holiday. We follow a family of five as they arrive in Thailand and enjoy their exotic, beachfront vacation. Then, it's tsunami time. Out of the blue, a giant wall of angry ocean storms through their resort and brutalizes the country side. Over 200,000 people are killed, billions of dollars in property damage, an entire continent is in ruins, and this one family is separated amongst the chaos. The Impossible, is the seemingly impossible story of their survival.

After seeing the film, I was shocked that Naomi Watts was the only cast member nominated for an Academy Award. This is easily the best performance of her career and her nomination (and a win) is well deserved. That being said, the rest of the cast is phenomenal and just as deserving of critical praise and accolades. Prepare to see Ewan McGregor like you've never seen him before. There's one scene in particular where he's so distraught over what's happened to his family that he flips the fuck out. I had to keep reminding myself that Obi Wan can't lose and repeatedly said "YOU WERE THE CHOSEN ONE!" under my breath in order to keep myself from loosing it. The oldest boy, played by newcomer Tom Holland basically carries the film on his shoulders. The audience follows his arc throughout the film. We're smug little shits on vacation/at the movies in the beginning, then shit gets real and we cry for our mommies, then we're just emotionally hardened super men who long to save and hug the world. That kid should have definitely scored a supporting actor nod.

Naomi Watts really does wonders in this film though. Watching her in The Impossible is like watching the torture scenes from The Passion of the Christ. It's brutal. That's what you're in for folks. The Impossible is a giant slab of gut wrenching, cringe worthy, awe inspiring, sentimental film making that will leave you floored. Schindler's List, Requiem For a Dream, fucking Toy Story 3! The Impossible ranks up there with some of the all time saddest movies. It's a damn fine film that any self respecting masochist will enjoy. Us normal folks however, harden your wits or bring some tissues. You've been warned.

The name and nationality of the original family was changed for the film. The Alvarez family from Spain became the Bennett family from the UK. Why? Who knows? Maybe because a blonde English speaking family led by A list stars would sell more tickets than a dark haired Spanish cast would. I still find it strange though, since the director and production company all hail from Spain themselves. Either way, interesting little note that in no way diminishes the awesomeness of the movie.   

Monday, February 11, 2013

Lincoln + Scarface = BEARDFACE

Abraham Lincoln is one of the most beloved figures in American History. Tony Montana is one of the craziest dudes in cinematic history. One fought to preserve the Union during the Civil War, the other did enough cocaine to kill an army. I could draw parallels between the two all day. Thankfully, the good folks at Slick Gigolo took care of that for me. Be warned: insane amounts of awesomeness ahead:

Tomorrow is Lincoln's birthday. I know this video would have made him proud.

Monday, February 4, 2013

under-covers: The Smiths/Quicksand

Perhaps, one of the greatest guilty pleasures in my life: the perverse enjoyment I get listening to musicians covering other artist's songs. The weirder the cover, the better! It doesn't matter how awkward or horrible the quality (shitty cell phone video, I'm looking at you), I'm an absolute sucker for this stuff. Here's the latest installment of "under-covers."

This song was my first exposure to The Smiths via the 1996 film The Craft and initially, I hated it. Keep in mind I was eleven years old and gave no fucks whatsoever about teenage witches and their introspective adolescent jams. I only wanted to watch Schwarzenegger blow shit up in Eraser. Anyways, here's the song:

Of course once I got older I begrudgingly came to like The Smiths. That creepy, ethereal guitar tone and Morrissey's trademark, well you know, eventually won me over.

Here is Quicksand's cover, recorded as a bonus track from their 1993 album Slip.

Quicksand were a rocking post-hardcore band from NYC. I don't know about you guys but I think Walter Schreifels has one of the best voices in rock music, ever. It's so raspy and unique. One second he's heartfelt, the next he sounds ready to knock someone out. Anyways, I love how they turned such a distinctly morose song like this into a punchy, upbeat number that still retains the original melancholy spirit of The Smiths. It's like their streetwise NYC cousins took a stab at it.

I'd say the original version is still the better choice between the two, but Quicksand put a marvelous spin on it. What do you think?

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Greatest Commercial Ever

Tomorrow is Super Bowl Sunday. Here in the U.S. it's the holiest day next to Christmas. The capitalist forces of nature all converge on this glorious day, and under the guise of an honest to goodness sports event, sell food/booze/electronics and every kind of discounted crap you could imagine to the huddled masses who gather around their flat screen televisions. During the game, advertisements sell for top dollar. In fact for some people, the commercials aired during the Super Bowl is more of a draw than the actual game.

Me, I don't really care. I work tomorrow and won't be involved in the game day/corporate tithing festivities. I did however find the single greatest commercial in the history of mankind. One that is guaranteed to smoke every single ad shown tomorrow afternoon. God bless Emily Ratajkowski, Sarah Jean Underwood and Carl's Jr. for this awesome, and I mean awesome commercial.