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: The Busted Amp Staff
Derek: It was the perfect storm of an evening. Joseph and I were lined up to see the legendary Pixies, and then immediately following, an aftershow featuring one of my favorite up-and-coming bands, White Reaper (You can read that review here). It did not disappoint.
Most are familiar with how big of an influence Pixies were on other grunge era bands like Nirvana. Kurt Cobain famously listed their 1988 album Surfer Rosa as his 2nd favorite album of all time. Now, nearly 30 years later, the band is back and have two new albums with their reunited lineup. The only difference between the original lineup and now is the absence of founding bassist Kim Deal, who left the band in 2013 and was eventually replaced by Paz Lenchantin.
A sold out crowd greeted the band as they came on stage. Side note: Both them and opener Public Access T.V. came on early, which according to rock lore is a sign of the apocalypse.
Anyways, their 28 (!!!) song setlist focused mainly on their two late 80's albums, Doolittle and the aforementioned Surfer Rosa, along with their latest album, last year's Head Carrier. Lead singer Black Francis sounded great; his distinct voice was perfectly mixed. In fact, overall the sound was incredible. Whoever was working sound did one of the best jobs that I've heard with what I am sure is a difficult band to mix properly.
Joseph: I'm not gonna lie....I had the time of my life at these shows. While I came in not knowing much about any of the 4 bands playing, I left as a newly converted fan. The night started with Public Access TV and Pixies, and after listening to Pixies I could hear why Cobain held the band in such high regard. Despite a somewhat lackluster crowd energy at the Madison Theater, there was a palpable, borderline magical, energy to the band's set, and they didn't waste any time between songs to let that energy fade. Their MASSIVE setlist, combined with consistent playing, made this set feel similar to something like Twenty One Pilots set I saw back in March (which you can revisit here) except the crowd wasn't anywhere near the same energy level in return. But Pixies didn't care, and neither did I. This show was a blast, and if they're in your neighborhood you should definitely take the time to see them.
Un Chagga Lagga
Something Against You
Monkey Gone to Heaven
Head On (The Jesus and Mary Chain cover)
Winterlong (Neil Young cover)
Where Is My Mind?
Ed Is Dead
Wabe of Mutilation
Planet of Sound
Might as Well Be Gone
Into the White
By: The Busted Amp Staff
Derek: There are certain shows that you look forward to more than others. When you've seen as many shows as we have at The Busted Amp, it's just the nature of the game. Friday night was one of those nights. Joseph, my partner and co-founder here at The Busted Amp (finally) moved back to Cincinnati from Nashville. Kishi Bashi was the first show on our calendar that we'd be attending together, thus beginning a new chapter of collaboration and joint perspective that I fully look forward to exploring in the year ahead.
Joseph and I have both seen Kishi Bashi on multiple occasions in the past, and we agreed that his latest album Sonderlust was one of the best of 2016. I was very excited to hear the new material in a live setting and how the songs have evolved in the year since the album was released.
The band started the set by performing a few songs from 151a acoustically to celebrate the album's 5th anniversary. including "Bright Whites" and "Beat the Bright Out of Me". The remainder of the show was a pretty standard overview of their three albums to date. The one thing that stuck out to me the most was the surprising lack of emphasis on looping, especially on songs from Sonderlust. In the past, K has used looping for a majority of songs, and oftentimes they are the backbone that drives the song forward. This time, however, looping was used more as an accent than as a centerpiece. Because of this, the set felt much more like a rock show than anything that I've experienced from him in the past.
Speaking of rock shows, Kishi Bashi has been known to throw classic rock covers into their sets, and tonight they played a face melting version of the Styx classic "Come Sail Away" with their merch person dressed up in a giant steak outfit. Yes, Mr. Steak sang Styx and it was fantastic.
The encore was another highlight for me, K and his band performed "Manchester" and "Atticus, In The Desert" acoustically in the middle of the pit, surrounded by fans singing at the top of their lungs. It was a cool, intimate moment that I won't soon forget.
Joseph: It's good to be back in Cincinnati and alongside my partner-in-crime Derek for these shows. Looking back at the hundreds of shows I've seen I was surprised to discover that I've only actually seen Kishi Bashi once, though the personal memories I have of the band far outweigh that one performance. Kishi Bashi's music has really stuck with me over the years, and I was giddy with excitement to see him live for only the second time. Despite lofty expectations, he did not disappoint.
While I share many of the same feelings Derek had, he didn't talk about the opener for Kishi Bashi in Tall Tall Trees. This band is a refreshingly original take on indie-folk, and frontman (and basically solo artist) Mike Savino is a very unique banjo player. While Savino is also the banjo/utility player for Kishi Bashi, but with Tall Tall Trees he's really given the chance to be himself. Savino utilizes a wide array of tools to create different sounds on the banjo, and his latest album, Freedays, is arguably is best album to date. Fortunately the sounds of this album transfer pretty well live, though there were times where the 20th Century Theater's sound system simply couldn't handle the sounds Savino was making. The mix could have been better, but I can hardly blame the venue for not building a sound system built around someone as unique as Tall Tall Trees.
While some of these sound deficiencies persisted into Kishi Bashi's set, none of it was even remotely enough to deter from the overall experience. Both Tall Tall Trees and Kishi Bashi put on great shows, and memories like dancing along with Mr. Steak while singing "Come Sail Away" or watching K. get into the crowd for an intimate encore are some of the better memories I have of all the live shows I've seen. I actually teared up during his acoustic rendition of "Manchester." It was beauty in its purest form. Even though I personally love his looping and was slightly disappointed that he didn't do it more, his rock show vibe still had all the energy it needed and then some. I cannot emphasize this enough: Kishi Bashi puts on one of the coolest shows you'll see, and when Tall Tall Trees opens for him? Forget about it. It doesn't get much better than that. Let's keep this roll of good live shows going, 2017.
By: Derek Jung
The neo-outlaw country and anti-Nashville establishment movement continues to grow at a monumental pace. Amongst main players like Sturgill Simpson and Jason Isbell are musicians like Margo Price who are only in the early chapters of their rise. Margo's debut album, Midwest Farmer's Daughter was one of my favorite albums of 2016, and I was very excited to hear the material live. The Third Man Records artist made a stop in Cincinnati on the night of the Acacdemy of Country Music Awards, one of the most establishment country music awards of the year. With that as the backdrop for her show, she showed why her brand of country music is the real deal.
I was immediately struck not only by Margo's stage presence, resembling country legends Tammy Wynette or Loretta Lynn, the latter of which she confessed to have worked with the day before recording some new material, but also the talent of her backing band, The Pricetags, who brought each song to the next level with ease.
In typical country music fashion, Margo treated the crowd to a nice selection of covers, including "Me and Bobby McGee" by Kris Kristofferson and a cover from her former band Buffalo Clover. She also performed two new songs that will be on her upcoming album, including my favorite "It's Ain't Drunk Driving If You're Riding a Horse".
During the show, she thanked us for coming instead of watching the ACMs, adding that "[we] made the right choice".
Yes, we did.
By: Derek Jung
In terms of soothing voices, my wife and I both agree that nothing compares to to relaxing sounds of Norah Jones. Touring on her new album, Day Breaks, she made a stop at the beautiful Taft Theater in Cincinnati. The packed house felt more like an intimate coffee shop, dead silent and in awe of one of the greatest singer-songwriters of our generation.
Norah was mostly business during the show, only briefly making some awkward banter with the crowd. She commented that it was cold, and corrected herself a song later that it wasn't cold in the theater, but outside. It was warm when they left New York City and none of them had packed jackets.
She began the night with a surprising cover of Leonard Cohen's "Everybody Knows", which, for those who are familiar with Cohen's original, sounded great featuring Jones and her piano. The rest of the evening was filled with songs spanning her entire discography, but with obvious focus on three albums in particular: her multi-platinum debut Come Away With Me, her sophomore full length Feels Like Home, and the aforementioned Day Breaks. From time to time she would switch instruments, beginning at her piano, then later moving to a stand up keyboard and finally playing acoustic and electric guitar.
Combined with her backing band, songs from the new album, specifically my favorite, "Flipside" really popped in the live environment. Speaking of her backing band, they were also the opening band, Aloysius 3. While they didn't do much for me on their own, they definitely brought Norah's songs to the next level.
If you ever get the opportunity to see her live, it is well worth it. Grab a glass of wine, sit, relax, and enjoy.
Check out her perforamnce of "Flipside" on The Tonight Show below.
By: Derek Jung
When you enter as many contests and giveaways as I do, the law of averages eventually catches up with you and you win something. That happened yesterday when I won a ticket for an in studio performance of Fitz & the Tantrums from the local alternative radio station The Project 100.7/106.3. I haven't been particularly hot on the group in the past few months, their latest self-titled release was pretty mediocre and their performance at Madison Theater last year was lifeless. That being said, I was excited to see them in such an intimate space and hear what they sound like stripped down without the pop showiness.
About twenty of us were ushered into the seated performance space, a rather bland space compared to Studio 89 at WNKU, but still nice and cozy. Besides Michael and Noelle, only Joseph the bassist (playing guitar) and Jeremy the keyboardist were present for the showcase. After a brief introduction from KISS 107.1 FM DJ Kristie, who was either visibly nervous or strung out on way too much caffeine, the band played a selection of singles from their self-titled album and More Than Just A Dream. Without all of the production additions that turned me off of the newer singles, there are some really catchy hooks underneath. "Rollup", my favorite off the new album, was great stripped down and even "Handclap" was tolerable.
The problem with being in such an intimate environment is that it can be awkward for both the band and the audience. Most in attendance aren't used to being right in front of their musical idols and it's especially evident for those who like to blend in with the crowd and just stand there. Michael Fitzpatrick and Noelle are very high energy performers, and dancing and choreography are big parts of their on stage personas. There is a certain expectation that people groove and dance to their music. There wasn't a whole lot of that because we were all seated, so the energy levels were off. This isn't the fault of the band or those in attendance. I'd argue it was mostly the environment.
After a few short Q&A sessions we all got the chance to have our pictures taken with the band. Nothing really revolutionary came from the questions. Noelle is a foodie (although she doesn't like that term). Michael Fitzpatrick loves artisanal coffee and his favorite album is Michael Jackson's Off the Wall. He's also expecting his wife to go into labor any day now. Jeremy likes Star Wars and can do a pretty decent Wookiee noise.
Check out a slideshow photo album of the show by clicking here.
By: Derek Jung
It's a rare occasion when Joseph and I get to see the same band within such a short span of time. He was able to see St. Paul and the Broken Bones at the legendary Ryman Auditorium last month. On Friday, I had the pleasure of seeing them at Madison Theater, their first show in Cincinnati since their capacity crowd show at the Taft Theater Ballroom during Midpoint Music Festival in 2014. Similarly to that show, Friday's show was sold out. The band is touring off their great new album, Sea of Noise, and I was eagerly anticipating hearing the new material live.
One thing I knew to expect was the antics of lead singer Paul Janeway, easily the heart and soul of the band with some of the best pipes that I've heard in a live setting ever. The dude can flat out belt it, and he knows it to. Therein lies the problem. A lot of his stage performance consists of him responding to the cheering of the crowd, and he makes sure to take out his earpiece after most songs to bask in that glorious, glorious applause. Nothing wrong with feeding off the energy of the crowd, but I couldn't help but get the feeling that it was a constant ego trip for Janeway, but I could be wrong. He was, of course, brilliant, and the new material sounded absolutely fantastic. My favorite song on the album, "All I Ever Wonder" popped on stage. Many songs sounded like church, a bonafide spiritual experience (see: "Sanctify" and set closer "Burning Rome").
I still think some of their ballads, especially from their debut album, can drag after a while, but that is a rather nitpicky criticism from what was a solid performance from the band.
Check out their performance of "All I Ever Wonder" from Later... with Jools Holland below.
By: Derek Jung
Nearly a year after they last played Madison Theater, Shovels & Rope made their return to my beloved Covington, Kentucky music venue for another go around. As I mentioned in that review, Shovels & Rope and I go back before their first album was released, and the band has always had a soft spot in my heart. This show, however, was anything but a triumphant return for the band, and it was a rare weak moment in the five times that I've seen them perform.
When we entered the theater, it became immediately apparent that the heat was entirely too high, and the near capacity crowd did not help matters whatsoever. We found our spot in the crowd and listened to opener John Moreland's set, which was absolutely fantastic. His gritty voice and melancholy lyrics blended perfectly. By the end of his set, he left the stage to rousing applause, and I'm certain that the crowd wouldn't have complained if he'd played longer. I will definitely be checking out his set at Forecastle this summer.
Shovels & Rope took the stage a bit later and charged through songs from their last two albums Little Seeds and Swimmin' Time. From the first note it was obvious that the mix was terrible. The bass drum was so overpowered that it hurt my ears through my musician grade earplugs. Michael Trent's electric guitar was also too loud in the mix, and the combination of the two ruined the new, more rock driven songs. When they finally played something from their debut full length, O' Be Joyful, it was almost too late to save the set for us.
I know Shovels & Rope. I know what they normally sound like. So I'm mostly willing to write this night off as a bad stop on the tour, but I will say that I was not a big fan of the band's most recent release, Little Seeds. I wish they would return to the folk americana sounds of O' Be Joyful, but I also understand that the band's growing success has happened with the newer sound. So, until next time, my friends.
Check out a video of them playing "I Know" on Conan below.
Who are we?
Derek Jung and Joseph Kathmann -- Just two ordinary (debatable) guys that love talking about music. You can read more about us here: