By: The Busted Amp Staff
Joseph: Oh, Mastodon. One of the biggest names in metal right now, Mastodon stopped by Cincinnati on their Emperor of Sand tour, an album which I did not like at all. For me.....it's been a long time since I really got into a Mastodon album. I'd say their cold streak for me dates all the way back to 2006's Blood Mountain. So I went into this show skeptical. I was worried that what happened for me on Emperor of Sand, and basically every Mastodon album of the past 10 years was going to happen live. Unfortunately, I was right. Every song sounded the exact same.
It wasn't all bad, however. The night started with an interesting, instrument-only band called Russian Circles. A band which I would never see as a headliner, but was a really solid opening salvo for the heavy rock evening. While many love the "experience" that comes with watching an instrument-only heavy metal band, I am not necessarily one of them, so I got a little bored as their set wore on. Fortunately, because they were the opener, their set was short and sweet, hence why it was a solid way to wet our rocketites. (Get it? Rock appetite? I'll see myself out)
After Russian Circles, though, came the entire reason I personally was there: Eagles of Death Metal. One of my favorite bands in existence, and first time I've seen them live since they were the headliner at Le Bataclan on November 13, 2015, Eagles of Death Metal tore the roof off the Taft Theatre, tearing through a criminally short 50 minute set. The set offered something of a bit of closure for me. The terrorist attacks back in 2015 struck a nerve with me as both Derek and myself had seen the band just a few months before that, but it was truly uplifting to see the band rocking and rolling once more. I have no qualms when I say I wish Mastodon had opened for Eagles of Death Metal and not the other way around. Oh and Brent Hinds from Mastodon opened the Eagles of Death Metal set with them on guitar. That was pretty cool.
After Eagles of Death Metal came Mastodon. The set started out strong with the band playing several tracks off of Blood Mountain and keeping things diverse, however after their performance of 2006's "Colony of Birchmen," things started to fall apart. Every song sounded exactly the same. It was impossible to differentiate these songs, and the overall set declined pretty rapidly in the second half. Sadly, by the end of the set, I was just happy for it to be over. There's no doubt that Mastodon is a great heavy metal band, and perfect for hour-long sets at a music festival. But their material is just too similar for an enjoyable 90 minute headlining set. And there was no encore, which was kind of weird. The band played "March of the Fire Ants" and was like, "Ok! We're done here! Thanks for coming!" While this is a trademark of the band, it's still pretty jarring for a regular concert goer. I like being able to take a breath and prepare for an epic encore. Ultimately, while I'm glad I can officially check Mastodon of the list as "seen them," I really wish I had seen them open for Eagles of Death Metal. Or on the farm at Bonnaroo. But, beggars can't be choosers.
Derek: If you were to name a group of bands that I discovered solely from Rock Band, Mastodon is probably at the very top of that list. To this day, "Colony of Birchman" is one of my favorite songs to play, and I was more than excited to see them live. The problem with seeing a band like Mastodon at Taft Theatre is obvious once you enter through one of the four doors at look around the famous Art Deco room. The main theater is entirely seated. For a band like Mastodon to play there, with no room for jumping around and yes, moshing, it creates quite the disconnect of energy. I was hesitant to buy tickets for this very reason, but because of Rock on the Range, the hard rock and metal festival in Columbus, the last time Mastodon performed in Cincinnati was over ten years ago at Bogart's. Add to this a few consecutive sub-par albums (even though I enjoyed Emperor of Sand much more than Joseph), and there was a real feeling of urgency to see them before their prime is too far in the rearview mirror.
The mix of songs were about what I expected. They played the majority of Emperor of Sand and five tracks from Blood Mountain. The rest of the set was a peppering of songs from their other five albums. In hindsight, I'm glad they played a good amount from Blood Mountain, my personal favorite, but I can't help but wish there was less Emperor of Sand, because it really played into the issue that Joseph stated above. A lot of the songs from that album sound too similar to create an engaging show. I found myself watching individual band members perform and day dreaming, whether it was Brett Hinds barely opening his mouth as he growled his vocals or Brann Dailor's amazing drum fills, something that made Mastodon's songs so enjoyable on Rock Band. Everything about the second half of the set played against the casual metal fan, which was most certainly us. The individual instrumental performances were there, but the show dragged on after a while.
For me, the show can be summed up with a series of maybes. Maybe it would have been different in a general admission theater. Maybe if people were allowed to move around instead of being stuck in their seats there would have been more energy. Maybe if the ushers didn't scold concertgoers for having half a foot in the aisle it would have made for a better vibe. Maybe when you have a metal show at Taft Theatre you don't put two extra rows of folding chairs in the front and call them "pit seats". Maybe.
Rock on, dudes.
The Wolf Is Loose
Colony of Birchman
Chimas at Midnight
Circle of Cysguatch
March of the Fire Ants
By: Thunderblast Cochran
[ Founder's note: Even though Derek & Joseph attended this show, we invited a close friend and die hard Red Hot Chili Peppers fan to provide the review for this show. We hope you enjoy it. -Derek ]
Seeing an act as venerable and ubiquitous as the Red Hot Chili Peppers is an altogether different experience than the kinds of low-key, low-price, general admission shows a twenty-something like me goes to when he has no other weekend plans. You buy the tickets months in advance, agonizing over the high sticker price and exorbitant vendor fees. You know that you could have spent twice as much to get seats from which you could actually see the band clearly. You hope that thirty-plus years of touring has produced a seasoned act that transcends the limits of a stadium-sized venue and delivers a satisfyingly energetic experience, even if you’re clear across the building and stuck in the two square feet of personal space allowed by seats that a bargain cinema would turn its nose up at.
Thankfully, the Red Hot Chili Peppers still know how to put on a show. The attentive fan will be able to detect hints of a template, a rote quality to the proceedings that is inevitable for a band that regularly embarks on eighteen-month tours and seems unable to turn down a headlining gig at a music festival. I have seen the band three times now, twice with the current lineup and once with the legendary John Frusciante, and I can say that this was the show in which they seemed least engaged with the audience, with barely a break to acknowledge Flea’s love of Bootsy and Catfish Collins. Instead, they filled the space with music, jamming through a set filled with surprisingly deep cuts that had a visible effect on the audience: after back-to-back performances of “If You Have to Ask” and “Me and My Friends,” large swathes of people had sat down, no doubt wondering what they were listening to and when the band would just play “Under the Bridge,” already.
They never did. For a band with enough hits to fill an entire set with nothing but and still have enough singles for an entire second set, the Chili Peppers showed an admirable commitment to diving into their catalog to find the funk. They played more songs from 1991’s Blood Sugar Sex Magik than 2016’s The Getaway, the album the current tour is supposed to promote. They ignored smash hits like “Under the Bridge,” “Can’t Stop,” and “Scar Tissue” in favor of “Sir Psycho Sexy,” “They’re Red Hot,” and “I Could Have Lied.” It was a show for the fans and obsessives, and it delivered.
Anthony Kiedis, who is 54, appears to be the only remaining member still fully committed to performing shirtless for at least part of the set. Everyone in the band, with the exception of the decades-younger Josh Klinghoffer, has slowly fallen into the persona of aging rock star. Yet they still retain the energy and aggressive musicality that propelled them from the 80’s L.A. punk scene to international superstardom. I find myself wondering when biology will finally catch up to them. They wear more clothes now, and perhaps they don’t jump quite as high or dance quite as much, but the Red Hot Chili Peppers are a machine that shows no sign of breaking down. They will probably keep going until they drop—and if they can continue filling stadiums, why shouldn’t they?
Around the World
If You Have to Ask
Me & My Friends
Feasting on the Flowers
Sir Psycho Sexy
They're Red Hot
Suck My Kiss
I Could Have Lied
By the Way
Give It Away
By: The Busted Amp Staff
Derek: After a stellar set from Pixies next door at Madison Theater, a portion of the crowd wandered over to the smaller, more intimate Madison Live! for a $5 unofficial aftershow with Louisville, KY's garage rock breakouts White Reaper. For the next hour, White Reaper tore down the house with the heavy riffs, sleek synths, and party anthem vocals. The band has made waves with last two releases, including their latest The World's Best American Band, and their live show solidified them in my mind as one of the most fun, high energy shows out there. Tony Esposito's vocals tore through the dancing mosh pit at the front of the stage while keyboardist Ryan Hater's antics on keys brought to mind a cape-less Rick Wakeman from the prog-rock band Yes. Brothers Sam and Nick Wilkerson kept the driving beat on bass and drums. It was quite the showing for the Louisville band, and I wish more people had found their way over from the Pixies show; the room was only about half full. Were they dissuaded because of the late start time? Were they turned off by the hardcore punk openers No Parents? Personally, I enjoyed No Parents and thought some of their lyrics were hilarious.
Either way, I think it's safe to say that you'll be hearing much more of White Reaper in the next few years.
Joseph: HOLY SHIT. What a freaking show. I needed that. I think we could all use a good punk show to get our blood pumping every now and again, right? The overall show was pretty short, so I wish more people would've taken advantage of the $5 asking price, but I'm sure glad we did. The show started with hardcore punk artist No Parents, who had a short but very sweet set. The band embodied pretty much every punk stereotype out there, but there's nothing wrong with that. I was a bit disappointed by the mix, as it was next to impossible to hear the lead singer, but.....then again it is a punk show, so who cares, right? [Derek: I heard the vocals just fine through my earplugs. Invest in a good pair, everyone. It does wonders...]
After No Parents came White Reaper. Unlike Derek, I was pretty unfamiliar with the band. I had listened to The World's Best American Band, but I failed to hear the magic that has made White Reaper one of the hottest bands in the punk genre today. Well, after their blistering, loud, crazy, dance-your-heart-out-like-you-just-don't-care set, I could see why. The band has an absurd amount of energy, and their latest album translates over extremely well live. Then, combined with songs off their previous two albums.... they were simply unstoppable in the small, intimate space of Madison Live! Their 2015 album White Reaper Does It Again has been on repeat for me since the show, and I can't wait to see them again. They're playing at pretty much every festival in existence this summer, and I can't recommend it enough.....go see them. They're probably playing pretty early in the day at whatever festival you're going to, so do yourself a favor. Get there early that day, and see White Reaper. They just might be the best set you see all day. I can't wait to see them again at Bunbury, Bonnaroo, and Lollapalooza. (I'm not kidding when I say they are playing at every festival in existence this year).
By: Joseph Kathmann
If there's one band who knows how to put on a good show, it's Twenty One Pilots. Seeing one of the biggest bands on the planet in the height of their prime is a hard thing to do, but that's exactly what I managed to do this past Saturday in Memphis. The crowd knew every word of every song, and the atmosphere was intense as almost the entire arena got a 2 hour glimpse of what certainly became their favorite band by the end of the night. While I'm constantly bothered by the fact that there's only two people on stage despite the numerous layers in their music, it's hard to care about that after they've torn through their 20+ song set without so much as a breather.
That said, getting to Twenty One Pilots was something of a chore. The opener, Jon Bellion, was pretty lackluster and just had a 20 minute set, and the initial opener, Judah and the Lion, went on right at doors so we didn't even get a chance to see them. Bellion was pretty lackluster, and after his quick set there was almost an hour's worth of a wait to get to Twenty One Pilots. The crowd was clearly getting antsy by the long wait, but boy where they in for a treat.
You know, I've really been lucky so far this year with my live shows, as both were two of the best shows I've seen for different reasons. St. Paul and the Broken Bones was great because there were a lot of casual fans at that show that were converted to the magic of the band, but Twenty One Pilots don't have many casual fans. Everyone knew every word of every song, and the girls were screaming at the top of their lungs throughout the energy-packed set. Tyler Joseph jumped around all corners of the stage during every song, and Josh Dun plays drums with as much energy as anyone I've ever seen. It's hard not to think of him as one of the best drummers in the music industry today. The band made use of every inch of their stage, filling it with lights, cannons, and video boards. At one point the duo played a few songs from an auxiliary stage at the back of a pit, and the floor light up on this stage. Because of course it did.
Other antics from the band included Josh Dun crowd surfing (a bit, at least) in the pit with his drum set, and the duo closed with "Trees," in the pit. Overall, I think what I found most impressive about the duo was their civility. There's no doubt they are one of the hottest bands on the planet right now, dropping the youngest generation's equivalent an album like The Black Parade in 2015 with Blurryface, but they still came across as authentic, down-to-earth guys. They took plenty of opportunities to thank the opening bands, (despite their short sets) and even let Judah and the Lion frontman Judah Akers a chance to stage dive in one of those giant inflatable bubbles during "Stressed Out." Ultimately, while I went in skeptical of the band's live show because....c'mon. Why are there only two guys on stage? I came out of that show with my questions answered and my skepticism all but gone. Twenty One Pilots are on top of the musical world right now, and their live show is a big reason for that.
By: Derek Jung
The National guitarist Bryce Dessner once again put together a diverse and eclectic lineup for the 11th installment of his MusicNOW Festival, which takes place every year in various locations around downtown Cincinnati. This year, the festival kicked off with a performance by legendary rhythm guitarist and founding Grateful Dead member Bob Weir. Dessner and the rest of The National are fresh off the release of their massive 10 LP collaborative box set of Grateful Dead covers (which, if you haven't listened to it yet, it is stunning), so it wasn't surprising that Dessner tapped Weir to perform. Weir himself released Blue Mountains last fall, which was his first album of all original material in nearly 30 years.
Weir came out alone on stage to begin the first of two sets, diving straight into the aforementioned Blue Mountains accompanying himself with only an acoustic guitar. Weir's voice, strained with age, echoed wonderfully off the enormous Aronoff Center facade. Before long, Weir was joined by "The Campfire Band", or Aaron Dessner, Bryan Devendorf, and Scott Devendorf of The National as well as Jon Shaw from Shakey Graves and Josh Kaufman, who co-produced Blue Mountains. Vocalist Lisa Hannigan also contributed her beautiful voice to a few songs, including "Lay My Lily Down" during the first set and "Peggy-O" during the second. The setlist was pretty diverse, with a healthy mix of solo material from Blue Mountains and classic Grateful Dead songs. The jams were adventurous, but for the most part did not stray away from a defined structure, with Weir physically signaling to the group when he wanted to transition. Some of those transitions were a bit clunky, but I'll attribute this more to not having years and years of experience with each other.
The crowd was a pleasant mix of older Dead Head stoners, and young people. It was amusing watching the terrified looks slowly grow on the Aronoff Center ushers' faces as the unmistakable aroma of marijuana grew heavier as the show went on. I think it's safe to say that more weed was smoked that night than has even been smoked in the theater before. But it was mood spoiler during the second set when ushers got strict with any suspected puff of smoke or cell phone light. You'd think the Aronoff Center would have anticipated the crowd would be lighting up.
All in all, another great act put on by MusicNOW. The show was well attended for a Thursday night, and I was happy to see a crowd so engaged and enthusiastic. We owe Dessner quite a bit for bringing such great collaborative music to Cincinnati, and we need to be sure that it continues well into the future.
By: Derek Jung
Let's make one thing clear: I don't go to many punk rock shows. FIDLAR was one of my favorite performances at Lollapalooza this year, so I couldn't pass up seeing them at my home venue. What an experience it was.
First off, openers The Frights and SWMRS played some pretty standard pop punk. The latter of which features Green Day lead singer Billy Joe Armstrong's son on drums and was very, very coached in terms of their performance. The lead singer had a Matt Shultz of Cage the Elephant vibe in his dress with "Fuck Donald Trump" drawn on the front, and the guitarist did every cliched move in the book. All in all it was pretty ho hum, but the pit was definitely getting warmed up for the show to come.
FIDLAR took the stage to about a half capacity theater, which is pretty disappointing since they had been periodically selling out shows on their current tour, but that's Cincinnati for you. They immediately tore the roof off the venue with their cover of The Beastie Boys "Sabotage". From there it was 70 minutes of shredding through the hits from their first two albums. The audience ate it up, but we'll get there in a minute. The set was pretty similar to the one they played at Lollapalooza, but I wasn't expecting anything significantly different since they're on the same touring cycle. "Punks" is incredibly powerful live, and hearing everyone sing along to "Cheap Beer" and "Wake Bake Skate" was awesome.
The crowd, for being the size that it was, was absolutely insane. The pit was packed and churning with mosh pits through the entire set. Articles of clothing flew on stage so frequently that Brandon Schwartzel, the bassist tied about a dozen shoes to his mic stand in between songs. This, of course, encouraged more to be thrown on stage. I'm not sure moshing with bare feet is the best idea in the world, but I digress. Amongst the clothing being tossed were beer cans and water bottles, sometimes completely full and open. There was a nice, slick, sticky layer of filth on the pit floor after the show, which made me feel sorry for the staff of the newly renovated theater, but I guess it was to be expected. The moshing was much more intense than anything that we saw at Lollapalooza. A wall of death, contrary to the wall of hugs from Midpoint, actually looks very painful when witnessed in person, especially as bodies smack face first into each other at high speeds. Crowd surfing was a constant, and a few people even jumped from the second level onto the pit below. That's a drop of a good six or seven feet, people. Even one person managed to climb on stage and jump before security grabbed him. It was an amusing addition to the show, and definitely made it a memorable one to me.
Check out their cover of Sabotage from this year's Sziget Festival below.
By: Derek Jung
In the world of nostalgia acts, the talent comes in a wide range of varieties. There are acts that were fantastic in their heyday and have aged like a fine wine. Bands in this category have continued to tighten their performances with experience and their hits feel as fresh as they did twenty or thirty years ago. There are also acts that should have hung it up years ago, spoiled by age, familiarity, or new band members that can't quite capture the magic of the original lineup. Going into the show, I was on the fence as to which side Joe Walsh would fall. Walsh has been in a few of the most iconic rock bands in the 70s, The Eagles and James Gang, not to mention a successful solo career of his own, but that peaked decades ago. I was curious to see and experience what he had to offer.
Opening the night was JD and the Straight Shots, an americana band fronted by billionaire James Dolan, the media and telecom giant. Dolan was joined by a who's who of studio and touring musicians, including musicians who have played with B.B. King, Robert Plant, Adele, and more. While his backing band was not lacking in talent, Dolan unfortunately left much to be desired. His vocals were rough and hollow, and his guitar playing was amateur. I couldn't help but think this was merely a mid-life crisis band for a lifetime businessman who just happened to have the money to scrape together a group of talented musicians and buy himself onto a tour. He's certainly not above plugging his own band in a tv show from a channel that he owns. Their song "Can't Make Tears" is the theme to AMC's Hell On Wheels. I was not impressed.
Joe Walsh took the stage to rousing applause and immediately dove into the James Gang favorite "Walk Away". While he wasn't overly energetic on stage, understandable at nearly 69 years of age, his vocals were surprisingly sharp and his playing was still top notch. Backed by two drummers (Joe Vitale and Chad Cronwell), Waddy Wachtel on guitar, Larry Young on bass, keyboardist Jimmy Wallace, four backup vocalists and, in what has to be the most interesting band member of the night, DJ Clayton Janes. Yes, a DJ. Thankfully, his presence was all but unnoticeable for the majority of the night, except for the bridge on "Funk #49" where they broke out into a giant dance party. His backup vocalist danced to the front of the stage, DJ Clayton Janes donned light up sunglasses, and Walsh brought a stuffed alligator toy to wave at the crowd. I'm still trying to figure that one out. As far as crazy happenings for Joe Walsh, that might be a little subdued compared to his partying days, but it felt more than a little out of place for such a music-focused show. Breaks from the music were few and far between. Walsh stopped only a few times to yell "HOW YOU DOIN?", which the crowd ate up, but everything else was nearly too slurred to understand. Although he's been sober since the early nineties, the effects linger on.
Even though I'm not a big Eagles fan, although the two he played were my favorites, the rest of his catalog is definitely worth seeing if you haven't. "Funk #49" becomes more and more iconic as the years pass, and there's no denying his solo material has had similar longevity. Life's certainly been good to him so far.
Watch a video recap of the show from Walsh below.
Walk Away (James Gang)
Everyday People (Sly & The Family Stone cover)
The Bomber: Closet Queen/Bolero/Cast Your Fate to the Wind (James Gang)
Take It to the Limit (Eagles)
Turn to Stone
In the City
Funk #49 (James Gang)
Life's Been Good
Life in the Fast Lane (Eagles)
Rocky Mountain Way
By: Derek Jung
Coming off last year's fabulous "All Your Favorite Bands", which both Joseph and I named as one of our favorites of 2015, the band's increased air time on independent radio has definitely bolstered their already passionate cult following. The last time they were in Cincinnati, they were opening for Hozier (remember him?). This time, Taft Theatre was packed for the California rockers, and they gave the audience a foot stomping good time.
It all started with The Lone Bellow, who opened the night. I was curious how the crowd would react to them, as I've only ever seen them as a headliner - once at MusicNOW Festival and again at 20th Century Theater. Either a large portion the crowd were already fans, or many new ones were made that night. By the end of the set, everyone was on their feet, clapping and singing along. In fact, I'd argue that they were the most successful opener to actually warm up the crowd that I've seen in a long time. They even managed a section-by-section theater singalong on "Then Came The Morning" that wasn't half-hearted or sarcastic.
With that said, Dawes took the stage to an eager and ready crowd and they kept the energy high throughout the majority of their set. Mixing a generous heaping of songs from the entirety of their discography, lead singer Taylor Goldsmith's cheerful demeanor lightened the retrospective melancholy that oftentimes features heavily in his songwriting. He bounced back and forth on stage, especially during drawn out jams or his guitar solos, smiling and playing the frontman role well. Taylor's brother Griffin, the band's drummer, complemented his vocals with an almost perfect harmony. The two even played a few songs completely unplugged, joined by the band's touring keyboardist, with only their voices and an acoustic guitar. The other members were much more subdued in their playing, giving Goldsmith the spotlight. Bassist Wylie Gelber would sit on the drum riser from time to time and second guitarist Alex Casnoff, wearing his signature hat and long, straightened hair, hardly moved unless he was playing a solo, and even then only took a few steps forward.
"When My Time Comes" still holds the same power and emotion for me that it did nearly ten years ago when it was released. Taylor can still hit the amazing chorus and hearing it reverberate throughout the theater gave me chills. The night closed with the crowd overpowering the band's singing on "All Your Favorite Bands", easily the most Kumbayah moment of the night.
Dawes has hinted that a new album is on the way soon. If that means another round of touring, I'll jump at the next chance I get to see them.
Check out a video of the aforementioned unplugged performance of "How Far We've Come".
From a Window Seat
That Western Skyline
Coming Back to a Man
I Can't Think About It Now
If I Wanted Someone
Now That It's Too Late, Maria
How Far We've Come
Take Me Out of the City
Right On Time
A Little Bit of Everything
When My Time Comes
From the Right Angle
All Your Favorite Bands
By Derek Jung
When it comes to guitar heroes, most would agree that Jimi Hendrix was one of, if not the greatest guitarist of all time. His influences can be heard in a multitude of modern artists spanning almost every genre of rock and pop imaginable. It's only fitting that a tribute tour to the late, great guitarist would include some of the best modern blues and rock artists in the world. Sunday, at the historic Taft Theatre in downtown Cincinnati, a group of over a dozen different artists dazzled for nearly three hours.
The star-studded lineup consisted of Jimi Hendrix Experience bassist Billy Cox, blues legend Buddy Guy, Ozzy Osbourne guitarist and Black Label Society frontman Zakk Wylde, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Jonny Lang, Dweezil Zappa, Eric Johnson, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble drummer Chris Layton, Mato Nanji, Ana Popovic, Noah Hunt, Calvin Cooke, and Henri Brown. While each of them brought their own distinctive styles to Hendrix classics, some did them better than others.
The night started with Billy Cox and Dweezil Zappa teaming up on "Freedom". When Cox wasn't playing bass, Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band/Gary Clark Jr. bassist Scott Nelson would join the group. He and Layton would be the backing band for the majority of the night. This kind of featured guitarist rotation was a staple of the evening, with different musicians jumping in and out to create a truly once in a lifetime collaborative experience.
Dweezil Zappa was only featured in a few songs, but he used that time to showcase the excellent guitar playing and similar styling that those familiar with his father, the legendary Frank Zappa, or his band, Zappa Playing Zappa, would immediately recognize.
Ana Popovic showed some chops on her last night of the tour by performing a few songs, one featuring slide guitar. While there's no doubt that Popovic is an excellent guitar player, her slide guitar was a little to erratic for my tastes.
Eric Johnson, who admittedly I was mostly looking forward to because his song "Cliffs of Dover" was a staple of my adolescence in Guitar Hero 3, was the next featured guitarist, and tackled some of Jimi's more psychedelic material, including "Are You Experienced?" and "Third Stone From The Sun". I think those in the crowd who were either less familiar with these songs or unfamiliar with Eric's playing were bit bored of the feedback-heavy, effects laden songs. But when Johnson could actually solo, his licks sounded great and his stage mannerisms conveyed a sense of ease and comfort that really made you feel like the material was a walk in the park in terms of difficulty for him. I really wanted to see him break out into an extended solo, but he stuck to the basic structure of the original Hendrix songs more than any of the other guitarists.
Zakk Wylde, undoubtedly, had the most enthusiastic crowd reactions of the night. He spent the majority of "Purple Haze" soloing in the crowd, up and down each section of the floor, fist bumping fans along the way while sustaining trills with one hand. The problem with the amount of soloing that Wylde did is that, frankly, his flailing all sounds the same. Not only does it sound the same, but it's a pretty large departure from the original Hendrix version. Look, I get that he's a hard rock/metal guitarist, but I can picture Jimi shaking his head at what Wylde was doing out there. But I digress.
Jonny Lang was the next featured performer, and while I loved his singing on the songs he performed, especially "The Wind Cries Mary", I couldn't help but be a little irked by his guitar playing. He's a talented musician, don't get me wrong, but he takes the gaping mouth, eyes closed, orgasm-face while soloing stereotype way. too. far. That, and when he and Mato had a "guitar duel", his segments were much longer and he repeatedly cut off Mato before he was finished. Former child prodigy aside, I saw enough.
Kenny Wayne Shepherd took the stage next and really showed the crowd what a great showman he is. Granted, he was probably the most comfortable featured guitarists of the night since Layton and Nelson are his normal backing musicians in the Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band, Noah Hunt is his normal vocalist, and the songs he played were Jimi Hendrix covers that are normally included in his set - Gypsy Eyes and a Voodoo Chile/Voodoo Child medley. That said, he was definitely the show highlight for me. Just pure talent and showmanship. I loved when he held a trill with one hand and the spotlight was on him. Slowly, he made a finger gun and pointed it up and the light and shot it out, immediately backing into an immense swell in his solo. Such a badass move.
Buddy Guy was the final featured guitarist to play, and he had his own drummer so Layton left the stage for the first and last time of the night. Buddy didn't play lead on any Jimmy Hendrix songs, instead playing the Muddy Waters tune, "Close To You", with added lyrics like "One leg to the east, one leg to the west, I'm here in the middle, tryin' to do my best". Now, coming from a 79 year old man, it was absolutely hilarious. His guitar playing, understandably given his age, was sparse; he played a few extended licks, but mostly left the main guitar parts to Mato Nanji, who joined him on stage. Mato was a staple as a backing guitarist for much of the night, only singing on one song, "Hey Joe" towards the end of the night, and playing lead on a few. Having seen his main band, Indigenous, a handful of times, his presence on stage for this stood in stark contrast to the charismatic showmanship that he displayed leading Indigenous. That's not to say his playing was lacking, because it fit exactly what he needed to contribute as a backing guitarist, but he never really hit the extra gear that I admired in the past.
Overall, if you're a fan of Jimi Hendrix, good blues rock guitar playing, and seeing a handful of guitar gods in a single concert, I'd recommend seeing the Experience Hendrix Tour. At times it felt a little like a guitar solo circlejerk, especially when the meat of every song felt like its sole purpose was to be an introduction to the inevitable solo, but generally speaking I enjoyed listening to most of the artists featured.
Cheers, Jimi. You left us way too soon.
By: Derek Jung
Back when I was a teenager, Eagles of Death Metal was one of my first concerts...third to be exact, and I was so young that I wasn't even allowed to go by myself (Thanks Aunt Sharon and Uncle Nick for taking me!). I credit that concert for really spring-boarding my love for live music, and when I heard that they'd be returning to the same small theater where I saw them the first time, I couldn't resist.
Eagles of Death Metal are known for their high energy shows, and frontman Jesse "Boots Electric" Hughes is the spitting image of the classic rock 'n roll sex symbol. He's suave, sexy, and has a charisma that really makes him the most likable person in the room. While he's not the best guitar player, he makes up for it with funky dance moves, hilarious jokes, and constantly swooning at the ladies. It takes a certain kind of person for the frequent comments to pretty women in the crowd to not feel really creepy , and maybe it's because I'm not a woman, but Jesse has never given my the vibe of a creeper (but he is a Midnight Creeper). Instead, the atmosphere is a fun-loving, booty-shaking good time.
Eagles of Death Metal's second half, QOTSA frontman Josh Homme, almost never tours with the band, which creates a situation where Jesse needs touring musicians. Luckily for them, Homme and company always have a cast of characters from their ever-expanding group of collaborators to choose from. On this tour, Dave Catching of The Rancho De La Luna recording studio took his usual post playing guitar, Matt McJunkins of A Perfect Circle assumed bass duties from Brian O'Connor, who has been battling cancer in recent years, and Jeff Friedl took drums from Homme and Joey Castillo. While I missed seeing Castillo and O'Connor up there, Matt and Jeff really performed well in their own right.
I've been a little skeptical of the new material from the new album Zipper Down, being released October 2nd, especially since a few of them are repeats from Hughes' solo album Honky Kong. Despite what some may call lazy, I really enjoyed the live version of "Complexity" compared to the solo album version. Silverlake was a real rocker and nearly brought down the house along with Hughes' guitar playing (he warned us beforehand that he may "fuck up" the strumming). Save A Prayer was also a welcome surprise from the new album, and even though it's a Duran Duran cover, they put their own spin on it that I enjoyed more than the original (low bar to meet).
Hughes played a good selection of songs by himself prior to the encore, including a rousing rendition of "I'll Blow You A Kiss In The Wind", before reintroducing the rest of the band back on stage. I was a little disappointed that he played my favorite cover, Brown Sugar, without the rest of the band. I was also a little tired by the end of the extensive guitar duel between Hughes and Catching, which lasted far too long and was not helped by McJunkins' finale of the Mario Theme song on bass (Seriously, how many musicians use that as their go-to solo?).
All in all they put on a thriller of a show, mixing in new songs and old, lasting around two hours and well past what I thought was a hard 11pm sound curfew in the area. Hughes tossed a half dozen sweaty towels to the crowd during the course of the show and finished with his sweaty shirt at the end of the show. This is after they flung a few packs of custom guitar picks into the audience, admiring how far they went. If you didn't go away with a souvenir from this show you either weren't trying hard enough or were out of their pick-throwing range.
The new Eagles of Death Metal album Zipper Down is in stores October 2nd.
Bad Dream Mama
Don't Speak (I Came to Make A Bang!)
I Got a Feelin (Just Nineteen)
Whorehoppin' (Shit, Goddamn)
Stuck In The Metal
I Want You So Hard (Boy's Bad News)
--Boots Solo Encore--
Kiss The Devil
I'll Blow You A Kiss In The Wind (Tommy Boyce & Bobby Hart cover)
Brown Sugar (The Rollings Stones cover)
--Full Band Encore--
Save A Prayer (Duran Duran Cover)
Wanna Be In LA
I Only Want You
Speaking In Tongues
(As far as I remember)
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