I swear I’ll get back to San Diego musicians very soon. Besides, he might not be from SD, but he does live here and that counts for something right? Jason Mraz, in my opinion, just gets better with age and his latest single proves this point. Forget calling him a “pop” musician, forget Geek in the Pink and his other forays into whimsical, light-as-air fluffy songs. Just sit back and enjoy the beautiful lyrics and the near perfect delivery of melody in Mraz’s latest single, “I Won’t Give Up On Us.”
For folk and indie lovers, it’s probably going to please you. For others, you might need a little bit more convincing. But the single does prove that Mraz may be harvesting an even more mature sound, and it definitely works for him. What do you think about this new single? Are you expecting a great fourth album to come from this?
If there’s one thing I’ve learned about San Diego since being here, it’s that the music scene can be a little one sided.
Did I say a little? What I meant was the musicians in San Diego can try their hardest to beat you over the head with one style of music, whether you like it or not. Sometimes this can be a really good thing: (for example, Chicago and its extremely inspiring jazz scene.) But in San Diego’s case, the music scene doesn’t prove to be very inspirational; instead, it proves to be run down by facsimiles of people who label themselves and who either only listen to screaming, or only listen to vegan-inspired obscure folk players who also happened to go to their high school and only plays coffee shops that you have never heard of.
Before you start yelling at me from through the computer screen, begging to prove the opposite of what I’ve just said, let me first say that I get it. I get San Diego’s music scene and no matter how stifling it can be, I wouldn’t change it for a thing. The reason is because there are a new breed of local musicians who are also noticing this limited array of San Diego style, and they’re also willing to prove my point wrong.
This little city by the bay is slowly building up creations of bands that exemplify a smorgasbord of musical influence and talent, and these bands will not be silenced! Local musical chameleons Tower XVI, for instance, have a style that they’ve self-described as having something for everyone. And when I went out to their show to see the guys in their most comfortable habitat I have to admit, they weren’t lying when they said that.
With an impressive energy-driven set list that varies everywhere from pop-punk tunes to reggae-inspired, bass heavy dance jams, this band is on a mission to get the party started while simply doing what they do best. I didn’t know exactly what to expect next when it came to their eclectic set, and this was both refreshing and ingenious. The issue with trying to encompass several styles into one band is probably doing it without sounding like you just couldn’t make up your mind; however, with a band like Tower XVI, they seamlessly deliver music that touches the palates of many types of music lovers, not just one.
And they’re not the only band that seems to be branching out and doing this. I’m seeing a trend in San Diego, and that trend is spurred by musicians who are tired of being overlooked in a sea of cookie-cutter duplicates. Musicians who are tired of doing their darnedest to exactly emulate As I Lay Dying, City & Colour, or blink-182. Not that there is anything wrong with those bands — I love Dallas Green just as much as the next person. But most of the people out here are not those bands.
Tower XVI is its own band, and that alone will allow them to blaze a path of glory as they continue to build their fan base in San Diego. At their live show, it was apparent just how much fun the fans were having, a trend that is sure to continue after they record their next release next year. When you have the energy of drummer Brian, singing along as he puts his all into each hit, it’s easy to have fun. And when you combine the musical prowess of bassist Rob and guitarist Dustin, who seem to be right on line with each other as if they were born playing together, it’s easy to appreciate the talent behind the music. Top it all off with Mike’s brutally honest and sometimes downright uplifting vocals and lyrics (for reference, check out “Dream Big” below), then the mix is eclectic and kind of perfect. San Diego needs more bands like Tower XVI; more bands that are interested in fusing their musical style to not just fit San Diego’s music scene, but also kick it into a brand new gear.
There are three things you should know about this show. 1) This was my first time using my 35mm camera, so sue me if the images are unsatisfactory. 2) Immovable Objects is more amazing than most. 3) I would have gotten in for free if it weren’t for those meddling kids!…or the meddling bartender.
Ah Bar Eleven. Well aren’t you too cool for school? And too cool for free covers, but I’ll let it pass because your cover is nothing in comparison to how much fun your dark, alluring venue is. Bar Eleven is awesome because you walk in and instantly feel home — and not in an Alcoholics Anonymous sort of way. More importantly, Immovable Objects was playing a show with two highly attractive instrumental geniuses, pretty much making this the instrumental rock show of San Diego. If you weren’t there, you probably missed all the good stuff that San Diego has to offer in this genre. And with all three of these bands heading into the studio soon, you’ll have to scrounge up some of the demigods of instrumental rock in these parts, if you want a good show in the next couple of months. Good luck with that, let me know how it goes.
If you were of the lucky chosen crowd, you were there to appreciate the near perfect acoustics of Bar
Eleven. It was loud, but in that amazingly awesome way. It was right on the edge of the perfect supersonic sound barrier. That alone was impressive. If you’re impressed with the sound check, you have to know the show itself will be amazing.
As one can expect from Immovable Objects, guitarist Matt Gagin and his crew of instrumental geniuses belted out dynamic after dynamic, taking you on a rollercoaster ride that few bands can offer in modern music, all under the backdrop of thought-provoking, silently beautiful movie that painted across the band, sometimes seeming to pull each band member into the frames of the film.
As mentioned earlier, I almost got into the show for free. I occasionally play with Immovable Objects on the harmonium, so maybe I can attempt to be snooty and say I’m with the band. Eck, that was horrible just reading that. All jokes aside, I almost got into Bar Eleven for free because their doorman was probably a certified crack head who wasn’t even at the door when me and my friend showed up. We walked right in, and if it wasn’t for that meddling bartender, we would have gotten away with it too! But he was mixing us drinks, so I forgive him. Plus, supporting your local bands is always a great deal. Did you know that every
year, local bands have to kill thousands of drummers because their band shelters are overrun with them, and that for every person who pays to attend a local show, you could save a drummer? The more you know.
It’s also apparently a proven fact that bartenders in dive bars know EVERY PERSON who walks in that door. “Hey, you weren’t here twenty minutes ago.” totally works in a venue that probably holds around…60. But once again, I’m not bitter because the drinks were good, the music was amazing, and the venue itself looks like the kind of place that is legendary and yet no one knows it. Did you have
any idea where you were standing? Do you have any idea who’s walked these beer-stained floors? Kids these days.
When the second in line band, Kata, began to take the stage, my music geek heart filled up with joy to see not one, but two cellists setting up right in the front of the stage. Two cellists, a keyboardist, bass, drummer, and a handful of guitars. I think all of the numerous members of Kata comprised half of the bar, but maybe more musicians meant they sounded even more amazing? I would have waited to see, but I’m pretty sure they were trying to break the Guinness Book of World Records’ “longest time it takes to get set up for a gig.” But with so many instrumentalists, I don’t really blame them for taking their time.
The best part? Looking like the ultimate hipster with my 35mm Nikon that I bought off some failing former photography major a week ago. I really don’t recommend looking like a hipster to anyone. But for a person who hasn’t touched film since she before she hit puberty, I think I did fairly well.
But this Foo Fighters fan has finally attended one of their shows. Last night the Foo Fighters rocked the Viejas Arena, and pretty much dissolved any doubt that rock ‘n roll is ‘dead’. Dead? Rock ‘n roll is alive and it’s kicking ass and taking names. It’s stealing hearts and kissing your girlfriends (but then apologizing about it later because it really is a nice guy.) All of the highlights of last night’s show can be expressed in a long string of play-by-play that lead up to the ultimate grand finale.
The best part of this entire performance was “Monkey Wrench” and here’s why. If the mini pit that broke out on the floor wasn’t enough to get your hearts kicking – elbow in the face anyone? That’s what a rock show is all about, for some – or if it wasn’t the always impressive showmanship of Taylor Hawkins’ drum solos, then maybe this would have done the trick: Like previous Foo fashion, the band dimmed the lights in the entire arena and spoke sweet nothings to the audience as rockers all over the floors and seats whipped out their lighters. Not iPhones or Blackberries, lighters. I couldn’t have been more proud of San Diego. I think I might have cried. (But I didn’t).
I almost want to call “Monkey Wrench” the climax of the night, but that was not the case. Dave Grohl was just getting started. Everything before then was a dinner and maybe a movie, because the Foo Fighters are kind of polite like that. When he dimmed those lights and started yelling the lines “One last thing before I quit”, he had us locked in. From then on out, their set was a vigorous exhibition of foreplay, getting us completely riled up and in the mood, ready for the real climax, the real ending. The entire stage painted a red backdrop and “All My Life” began roaring out of the speakers at an intensity and energy that you just can’t get from a recording, and Dave and his naughty band mates had had their way with us. By this point we were legs spread eagle, ready to be rocked for a finale that already asked for an encore before it even ended.
I have to love the cockiness of Dave Grohl, because when the music went quiet and the people yelled, nay begged for an encore, Dave wasn’t simply content with that. He definitely wanted to make us scream their names one last time, and we did. With a venue like Viejas, nestled on a college campus, they tend to have curfews for the events that are held there. Dave knew that this would be an all-nighter, and the curfew was lifted for the performance, probably for the lengthy encore that the band had in mind for their fans. Even during the encore, which was a four song set, the band still had surprises up its sleeve, and you have to really thank a band that isn’t simply content on walking out and saying “alright one more”, playing a song, and leaving. Yeah, maybe that’s how the regular guys do it, but with the Foo, they still needed the electronically raised stage. They still needed the stage lights that made the entire set look like a scene from Guitar Hero. They still needed the screens displaying every sweat drop that fell from their hair. They still had to rock you out of your seats.
“Times Like These” performed during the encore set.
And sometime during all of that, he found a moment to raise the house lights and speak to the audience. We already felt like we really knew the Foo Fighters up to that point. But now, by the end of the show, you felt like you were a part of the family.
Since tonight is THE concert day of all days, I might as well write a review of the Foo’s latest album. You don’t know this, but I’m the hugest Foo Fighters fan who has never seen them perform live before. Tonight will be the first night that I see these iconic hard-hitters of music hopefully rock my socks off at the Viejas Arena. Rad. Rad, indeed.
Since I can’t contain my excitement for tonight’s festivities, (oh yeah, they’re also playing with Mariachi El Bronx & Cage the Elephant – maybe I’ll review those albums as well), I’ve decided to review the album that has probably been reviewed way too many times already.
Wasting Light…first of all, can I just say that everything done in regards to promote this album was absolutely genius. The Foo Fighters know their fans, and they know how to keep you wanting more. They also know how to make you wish you hadn’t wanted so much more, as seen in their viral porno-esque venture, ‘Hot Buns’, but that is a whole other story. If you’re not a fan of this band, become one. Who else will give you the opportunity to see intimate secret shows in their headquarters of Los Angeles, as well as play a garage tour across America? That’s how amazingly cool these guys are. Of course, I’m biased but you know what, you can get over it, because I’d still think they were cool even if I wasn’t a fan.
Don’t forget the White Limo tour, which I will admit confused the hell out of me. I don’t know why I was expecting Dave and Taylor to step out of a White Limo, shake hands, kiss babies, buy California burritos, and then head on their way, all while bursting their album from speakers attached to the top of the limo. Yeah, I might have dreamt that one. But despite the fact that the band wasn’t on that tour, and it really wasn’t a tour, it was still a lot of fun for the fans, and that’s what really counts.
Without further ado, because I realize now that all my kiss-assery will not be seen by the Foos, here’s my review of the album Wasting Light.
First and foremost, previous Foo Fighters fans might be hesitant to enjoy this album. Two words have been repeated over and over again when it comes to their latest venture, and that would be ‘Arena Rock’. Pros of arena rock: It’s awesome. It’s awe-inspiring. It can melt your face off, and it’s fun when you go to those shows packed with thousands of people. Cons of arena rock: It’s arena rock. It might be fun to pretend like you’re in a stadium while blasting this album in your car, but at the end of the day a true Foo Fan is going to miss the dynamics that Dave Grohl’s raspy voice can miraculously deliver. And when he really tries, he really can deliver. That’s not to say that he didn’t try with this album, but the intensity behind the songs is on a completely different (almost plateaued) level, that will possibly delight those who haven’t heard the Foo Fighters that much, and probably fall flat (uh, pun intended) with those who are devoted Foo-ists.
Some of the best songs from the album have yet to be released as singles, which makes me wonder which direction they’re going with this and who’s pulling the proverbial label strings. While “Walk” seems like a perfect anthem to sum up an album like this, it’s cinematic display of grandness screams “finale”, not “random single from the middle of the album”, which is where they placed its release. It’s probably why the band chose to end the album with this song; now if only they had applied that same mentality to their single releases and made the fans wait a little bit longer for this powerful rock anthem.
Hopefully some of the more unique songs from this album are not ignored. “Dear Rosemary” and its multitude of instrumentation deserves some recognition. And if the vocal dynamics don’t get you, then maybe the lyrics will: “Truth aint gonna change the way you lie. Youth aint gonna change the way you die.” That’s a fact, straight from the bible of Fooism. The track “These Days” silhouettes some older Foo Fighters’ styles, a la In Your Honor, not the fast-paced heavy hitting album on which it’s contained. It’s easily one of my favorites, and reminds the haters that yes, there is a little bit more than just stadium rock on this album. A little bit.
This evening, however, I will get to see a lot of these songs performed live, and live performances can often change opinions.