Category Archives: Shows

Carolina Liar to headline The Griffin

Have you ever been to a show by your favorite band in the perfect, intimate setting that made it possible to not only enjoy the show, but also feel like that band is singing right to you? Well, if you haven’t, get out to the Griffin while the summer’s hot (or, while the summer’s as sticky as a roll of duct tape). The Griffin is getting a shiny new summer series, including a stop by pop rockers Carolina Liar on July 31st. And this is quite possibly the perfect setting for them.

Carolina Liar has been making serious waves while they (successfully) battle the sophomore slump with their second album Wild Blessed Freedom, and when you’re touring with heavy hitters like One Republic, Kelly Clarkson, and fellow up-and-comers We the Kings, you’re bound to make some important friends along the way. They’ve been compared to about a million and one solid acts, from the Killers to U2, but this group isn’t trying to fit into anyone else’s shoes.

They’re holding their own, delicately navigating the atmosphere of pop, while not being afraid to throw an out-of-the-box lyric your way. Lead singer Chad Wolf is brave enough to test the limits of his vocal prowess, and in songs like “Beautiful People”, he dares to sing the lyrics “‘Cause it’s beautiful people like you/Who get whatever they want/And it’s beautiful people like you/Who suck the life right outta my heart.”
Add in the catchy melodrama of tracks like “I Don’t Think So”, and the album starts to sound like a fresh approach on pop.

Check out the brand new video for their single “Drown” and let me know what you think.

Sure, there are a couple cookie cutter pop medleys that fall into a familiar pattern (namely, “King of Broken Hearts” and “Daddy’s Little Girl”), but overall, Carolina Liar isn’t just content with the ordinary. And a band that is willing to push its songwriting limits is pretty much guaranteed to impress you live.

Not to mention, venues like the Griffin make shows by bands like Carolina Liar an experience. There’s just something missing from the large arenas; a personal touch that really gives you the chance to enjoy the music, no matter what you listen to. So if you’re interested in being a part of that kind of experience, check out Carolina Liar at the Griffin on July 31st.

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Is there more to Invisible Children than indecent exposure?

I could riddle this post with a lot of puns and innuendos about special packages from Invisible Children (I think that’s illegal in … well, all 50 states) or unveiling the naked truth about this organization. But instead, I’m going to ask you to answer a question: What do you really know about Kony 2012?

I’ll be honest, here’s what I know:

I know there’s someone snatching children up in Africa, and it isn’t Peter Pan or Angelina Jolie. I know a lot of people don’t understand the use of film as propaganda, (which is ironic, considering how many products we buy or point of views we change from just watching a film.) I know someone may have had an incident in Pacific Beach…yeah.

I’m not an expert on Invisible Children and what they do, and I’m sure neither are you. Unless you’re a huge philanthropist, then you kind of rock! For the rest of us, however, there’s still room to grow and to give, which means shedding light on these important issues instead of, ahem, shedding clothes. (Okay I promise, that’s the last one!)

One of the best feelings that music can bring is a sense of unity on a subject or topic. They don’t call it a universal language for nothing. With that in mind, when production company Ladies in Boots announced a charity show on April 24th to help bring awareness to Invisible Children, they knew that the event would give the perfect platform to help answer some of those questions that you have. Coupling the folky yet soulful music of Katie Leigh & the Infantry, The Paragraphs and Trouble in the Wind with a full presentation of Kony 2012: Part II should make the night both fun and informational.

But if you’re really not convinced yet, why not hear about the whole situation from someone who has actually been there? Guest speaker Papito has lived through the conflict, and will give an account that is sure to answer any other questions that might be lingering in your mind about what is happening in Uganda.

So, do you want to answer the question I posed earlier? What do you know about Kony 2012? Invisible Children? What kind of finances does Invisible Children acquire? What is really going on in Uganda?

And most importantly, how can you help?

Why not start by checking out a really great show full of really talented musicians on April 24th at the Griffin San Diego. More information can be found on the Facebook page for the event. At the very least, you’ll have a good time. But hopefully, in addition to this, you’ll learn more about Invisible Children and finally answer any of those questions you had about this issue.

I know I have a lot of questions that I want answered. How about you? If there’s anything that you’ve really wanted to ask, now is the time! Let us know your questions, or post them on the Facebook event wall!

 

 

 

Meet and Greets: Slayin’ San Diego

Alexis Krauss of Sleigh Bells at 4th and B, San Diego
Alexis breaks the fourth wall and jumps into the audience.

What’s better than free tickets to see Sleigh Bells live at 4th and B? Getting to canoodle with Alexis and Derek of the band. Oh wait, what’s even better than that? Getting your boob signed by the feisty lead singer. Okay, okay, let me explain the night and subsequent party that was Sleigh Bells.

First of all, the concert gods are on my side. I don’t win anything. I didn’t win the Mega Millions (yes, I bought a ticket.) I don’t even win Bingo. So when I received an email from Sleigh Bells stating that I had won two tickets to their April 3rd show and that my name would be on their guest list, I was fairly convinced that it was some sort of evil April Fool’s Joke.

Just as I started to narrow down the list of people who could have possibly done this and therefore needed to be punished, it dawned on me that yes, this was real. I had actually won something. Everyone gets to win something at least once in their lives, right?

Despite the show being on a Tuesday, I dragged a friend along and headed out to 4th and B, with high hopes and aspirations for how the night would turn out. I’ve seen Sleigh Bells live before, so I had a fairly good idea on what to expect; however, when I saw the band, they were just a freshman in the music world and were opening for a rather large festival. But this night was different, as we all got to share in popping the proverbial cherry on Sleigh Bells’ first ever headlining show in San Diego.

Dubbed a “no-genre” band by some, Sleigh Bells is a mixture of noise-pop riffs over hardcore-influenced drum patterns and booming bass lines that would make any hip-hopper proud (as if to solidify this, they played Biggie Smalls and others while we waited for the band to take the stage.) Their sophomore album Reign of Terror dives more into harmonies and experimental guitar riffs and steps away from some of the bass-heavy dance-ready tones of their debut album, but the songs still scream “get up and move!” Given all of that, and since this wasn’t my first time at the rodeo, I knew that Sleigh Bells can be a bit of a party. If you’re not moving, you’re singing. And if you’re not singing, you’re screaming. And if you’re not screaming, you’re opening a pit in the middle of the crowd. One or all of the above.

The New York based duo has a need to be loud, one that I have experienced and yet it still managed to surprise me on that night. Their stage was simply adorned with about twelve Marshall amps (R.I.P. Jim Marshall), which my friend stated was “a lot of fucking amps.” I noted, “well, they’re obviously for decoration.” Until the first guitar note came booming through the entire venue. Then I had to turn to my friend and yell, “….I think they’re using all the amps!” Despite the intensity of volume, the sound was amazing — though I am biased since I’m kind of deaf. Always bring your earplugs, kiddos. Never the less, Sleigh Bells is a band that likes their music loud, so they’ve definitely managed to perfect the art of getting it that loud and making it sound good at the same time.

There weren’t any pits involved on this Tuesday night (but Alexis did acknowledge the brave souls who attempted to get one going), but there was plenty of movement, including the energetic lead singer working all angles of the stage to make sure even the people in the back were on their feet. I chilled up front stage right, smack dab in front of former Poison the Well guitarist Derek Miller. Wait, did I say chilled? What I really meant was I sang my fangirl lungs out and tried my best not to accidentally trample anyone in the process. Despite being on the opposite side of the stage, Alexis attempted to defy the laws of stage physics and stretch her microphone cord to our side on more than one occasion, prompting a resurgence of energy from virtually everyone directly next to me.

At some point, the energy of the show and the crowd shot upward, due mostly to Alexis’s need to get past the security guys and get into the crowd. After affectionately rubbing her hand on the top of one security member’s bald head — he smiled from ear to ear, in between bobbing his head to the music — Alexis finally made her way to that barrier we all hate at shows, and with a little assistance she jumped it. A crowd surfing Alexis continued to sing into the mic as I’m sure a lot of very happy dudes were placing their hands in spots they never would get to see.

Just as she had made her way back to the stage, a fan from that center crowd handed her a t-shirt, and what does she do with it? Well, she strips off her own shirt in the middle of a song to put the fan’s shirt on, of course. A very brave move, if you ask me; hopefully it was a clean one and not someone’s sweaty seconds. The theme of the night turned to “Let’s dress up Alexis” as me and my friend handed guitarist Derek a San Diego baseball hat. He proudly strutted to center stage and popped it onto their lead singer’s head.

The spontaneity and roll-with-the-punches mood of the band was just as exciting as their music, and the crowd really went crazy for it. Or maybe they were going crazy for Alexis stripping off her shirt. Either way, it was energy that held true after they had left the stage, and a small group of diehards waited patiently to get an encore. Sleigh Bells didn’t play one. Instead, they popped out from backstage to come hang with their fans. Derek walked out and the first thing he did was run up to me and my guest and ask him, “Hey man, did you get your hat back?”

We then proceeded to chat with him, (we even took a pretty embarrassing photo) before I made my way over to Alexis. I kind of skipped past a few of the people lingering near her and walked right up to her, complimented her on a great show, and after talking for a few moments she corralled the group over to the merch booth, wrapping her arms around my shoulder as we walked.

Once there, more photos commenced, and I had to buy a t-shirt (smart sales move, Alexis).  Now that I had a shirt, and had tried it on to make sure it fit, the next logical idea was to get a signature. I was ready to hand the shirt over to Alexis when she told me that I didn’t need to remove it, and proceeded to full hand my chest and sign the shirt.

“Yeah, grab her boob!” My friend yelled. Classy.

“You have a nice chest.” Alexis said as she finished up her signature.

Can I die happy now? Not only did I get to witness an amazing, energy-filled show, I got to see just how down to earth the duo behind Sleigh Bells can be. They continued to chit chat with fans as if they were all old buddies, smiling genuinely at each compliment and really making the ending to this night worthwhile. An encore would have been amazing, but hey, getting fondled by Alexis Krauss is just as good, I guess.

 

Tower XVI: The new trend with San Diego bands

Tower XVI. Photo by Jeff McLean.
Tower XVI. Photo by Jeff McLean.

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.

Tower XVI. Photo by Jeff McLean
From left: Dustin Jenkins, Mike DiBernardo, Brian Rash, Rob Smith. Photo by Jeff McLean.

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.

Becoming a Part of the Social Club

Green room full of feather boas, stage lights and sombreros? Check. Oddly placed hanging decorations on the walls? Check. Contraband liquor smuggled in backstage? Check. When you’re hanging with local San Diego band Social Club, it’s never a dull moment.

Watch the Social Club Interview video. Click the HD button to watch in High-Definition.

I honestly never thought I’d see the green room of PB bar Typhoon Saloon (nor did I actually think that they had a green room), but I have to admit I’m impressed. The props that are stored back there make it an interesting place already, and after adding a few lights, me and my camera-savvy friend Thierry corralled all of the members of Social Club together for what proved to be a very interesting interview.

It’s so easy to relax and have fun around Thea and the three J’s (John, James, and Jeff — and yes I mixed up their names at some point that night.) And dubbed one of the “prettiest” bands on their label, they’re not too bad to look at, either. On stage or off, all of the band members have a unique energy: John with his searing emotions in each lyric and each point he makes about the band; Thea with her gentle mysteriousness; James and the famous faces he flashes on stage – when he’s not smiling brightly from ear to ear behind the scenes; and lastly Jeff, the energetic adventurer of the group who probably doesn’t need that double shot of espresso in the morning: he’s just naturally that energetic.

Yes, you’ll see the typical questions but one thing is evident; this band is full of unique and diverse personalities that show in their music as much as it shows in their personal experiences. Their sound is a huge catchall of everything good that just somehow makes so much sense. So basically, if Dr. Frankenstein had created musical life by adding a bit of punk rock, a bit of mellow singer-songwriter, some modern age hip hop influences here and there and sprinkled it all with a pinch of classical background, the creation would have been Social Club — only way more interesting and much more beautiful. Maybe they haven’t been compared to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein before. I swear that comparison made sense in my mind.

Don’t leave it up to me to describe their sound. Listen for yourself!

Immovable Objects definitely moving your ears

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

Immovable Objects at Bar Eleven
This guy is either enjoying the show, or eyeing the girl with her boobs hanging out across the bar. Or...both.

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

Please don't sue me, NBC.

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

Bar Eleven in San Diego
Bar Eleven has been hip since before hipsters existed. I'm pretty sure the original Mona Lisa threw up on these very floors. Legendary.

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.

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There goes my hero…He’s kind of a rock god.

It’s been a long time coming…

Concert
The Viejas was nearly sold out for The Foo Fighters. 10/17/11

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.