Category Archives: Concerts

Hollywood Undead + Butcher Babies 11/29/17, Memphis

Dates: November 29, 2017

Location: New Daisy Theatre, Memphis TN

New Daisy Theatre was the scene of the rock ‘n’ roll crime…

TEXT & PHOTOS BY MARK JACKSON

When I first heard that the Butcher Babies would be touring with Hollywood Undead I must say that I was surprised. The head banging, Scream rocking, hair whipping ladies of Butcher Babies just didn’t seem like the best fit for the rap rockers of Undead. It turns out that it’s a great fit and has introduced the band to a whole new group of fans.

As soon as the Butcher Babies hit the stage they began to win over the crowd and they didn’t slow down for the whole set.

After about a thirty minute timeout for the set changes and setup it was finally time for Hollywood Undead. As usual the guys took the stage wearing their masks. The first song of the night was “Whatever It Takes” and followed up with “Undead,” to which the crowd began to explode with excitement. Hollywood Undead had an excellent light show for the size of the venue, complete with several pyrotechnic sparklers that shot up about twelve feet high.

This was a great night of music—I recommend catching both groups when they are in the area. Hollywood Undead will continue touring the U.S. through December before Heading over seas in January. When they return to the States they will continue touring and playing festivals, including the Welcome to Rockville at the end of April in Jacksonville, FL.

Mark Jackson: @markjacksonphotography1

Spoon – 12/1/17, Poughkeepsie NY

Dates: December 1, 2017

Location: Chance Theater, Poughkeepsie NY

PHOTOS AND TEXT BY GREG KELLY

Spoon played to a full house of super attentive loyal fans at the Chance Theater. After playing two sold out shows in Brooklyn I knew this was going to be a packed theater. Opening the show with “Do I have to talk you into it” from the band’s newest release “Hot Thoughts”.  About half way through the show the band slowed it down with a heavy synth intro to the song “I’m not the one”, the crowd was entranced with lead singer Britt Daniels stage presence. These guys have been touring since the mid- nineties and it shows with how tight they play live. Closing the show with “Rent I Pay” the band and audience clearly had a great time together. I don’t know that Spoon will be playing that small of venue again, but I felt lucky to see such professional musicians in a more relaxed atmosphere.

Brian Setzer Orchestra – 12/6/17, Christmas Rocks! Atlanta

Dates: December 6, 2017

Location: Symphony Hall, Atlanta GA

For his 14th annual Christmas Rocks! Tour, at the Atlanta Symphony Hall, the Stray Cat became Santa Claws…

PHOTOS & TEXT BY JOHN BOYDSTON

One of the cool things about rock and rollers having incredibly long careers is that some of them never stop getting better.  A case in point is Brian Setzer – who jumped outta the gate 35 years ago already an accomplished, confident player and entertainer, mature beyond his years even.    Now, at 58, he’s matured yet retained the exuberance and swagger that has made him so fun to watch.  At his holiday performance this week in Atlanta, I had the sense I was at a Masterclass in guitar chops and showmanship.

Setzer’s currently in the middle of his packed house crowd-pleasing 14th annual Christmas Rocks! Tour with the Brian Setzer Orchestra.   He’s clearly the driver of this engine, a 19-piece big band swing orchestra; all eyes in the band are on him, digging and feeding off his non-stop energy, just like the crowd is doing.   So much going on, all very entertaining.   Every few licks Brian stops to smile at the crowd – hoping they are having as much fun as he is. They are.

Lots of timeless Holiday standards in the set – all of them re-worked to swing and rock.  Also lots of Setzer’s hits (Stray Cat Strut, Rock This Town) from his days as leader/founder of the The Stray Cats, the rockabilly trio that crashed the gates of American Top 40 radio with their Dave Edmunds-produced platinum LP ‘Built for Speed’ in 1982.

A highlight was about half-way through the show — the orchestra leaves the stage so it’s just Brian, standup bass, 3 piece drum set and a honky tonk piano — all wailing for 20-minutes of nothing but flat-out rockabilly starting with a full blown version of Johnny Burnette’s ‘Rockabilly Boogie.’  What a treat.

Other highlights were full-song heartfelt tributes to the recently departed Glen Campbell and Tom Petty.   For me, one of Setzer’s all-time greatest moments was his guitar solo in the movie ‘La Bamba’ playing ‘Summertime Blues’ as the late great Eddie Cochran.  He played that lick at this show, albeit in another song, and it was magic.

The 30-city tour in in progress in the US through December, then Japan in January.   The who/ what/ when/ where are here:  https://briansetzer.com/tour-dates/

I read a 2016 interview wherein Brian says another Stray Cats tour is going to happen, but for now, Here Comes Santa Claws, er, Claus.

(John Boydston’s bigger photo galleries are here: jobo.smugmug.com  (or follow him on Instagram @johnboydstonphoto)

The Descendents 11/3/17, Kansas City

Dates: November 3, 2017

Location: Uptown Theater, Kansas City MO

Live at the Uptown Theater for some legendary punkin’… Upcoming tour dates are HERE.

BY DANNY R. PHILLIPS

It had been twenty years, 4 months and 12 days since I last saw punk rock legends The Descendents live.

That day in 1997 was the typical Midwestern July: hot as fuck with no sign or hope of letting up.

I was in Lawrence, Kansas that day against doctor’s orders, being a month out from a foot surgery.  Resolve and painkillers got me through the day; I would see the Descendents.  As faux 1940’s swing bullshit act The Cherry Poppin’ Daddies set up to bore the main stage, The Descendents exploded on the flatbed trailer that passed for a second stage.

Frontman Milo Aukerman climbed the speaker stacks, flipped off the cops and sang with venomous conviction.  Stephen Egerton attacked his Lucite body guitar like a buzzsaw, while Karl Alvarez and Bill Stevenson kept the rhythm better than any section that day.  It is still, to this day, one of the single greatest performances I’ve ever witnessed.

I hated The Cherry Poppin’ Daddies with a passion but my admiration and fandom for The Descendents was solidified.

On November 3, 2017 the streak ended.  I was to re-live my youth, to go back to a time before kids, grey hair, an ex-wife and stress brought worry to my door.

This night, 20 years and some change later would be slightly different.  No longer was I a wide-eye fan of 22.  Now, I was a wide-eyed fan of 42, with life under my belt.  I’m older, wiser and thanks to my gig with Blurt Magazine, I have far better access to the action.

After picking up my credentials, I found myself backstage, chatting away with Stephen Egerton while being served coffee by Stevenson, one of my all-time favorite drummers.  My life has officially become a one surreal experience after another.  The Descendents had given me another memory I’ll never forget and they hadn’t even been on stage yet.

They walked onto the stage to a packed house at The Uptown, a deafening roar that threatened to bring down the rafters.  As they tore into “Everything Sucks” I watched years melt away to reveal the band I saw all those years ago.  As they blasted through their “hit” “I’m the One”, “Hope,” “Rotting Out,” breakneck versions of the already blistering  ode to the caffeine driven life “Coffee Mug” and the gem I first heard on Pump Up the Volume “Weinersnitchel.” Twenty-five tracks in the just over 2 hour set time, memories came flooding back.  With all the bad shit that has happened to me in the last few years, it was good to have a night where I had no fucks to give.  It felt wonderful, if just for a night.

What I saw on this night was exactly what I saw 20 years ago.  Not to say it was boring. It certainly wasn’t, in fact it was one of the best sets I’ve seen all year at one of my favorite venues.  What I saw was the same virile, aggressive punk giants that I saw two decades ago; years, day jobs and kids have not slowed them, they haven’t lost a step or the obvious joy they feel in front of a room full of like minded individuals, all running on the same frequency, all drinking in the moments as if it would be the last time they’d see this spectacle of punk rock superiority.

The Descendents, 30 plus years into a storied career, are still the band they always have been: aggressive, furious, lightning quick and, above all else, a band that believes in what they’re selling and has a great time doing it.

And so, the countdown begins: it has been 8 days since I last saw The Descendents live….

 

Alvvays + Jay Som 10/31/17, Denver

Dates: October 31, 2017

Location: Bluebird Theatre, Denver CO

Live at the Bluebird Theatre for a special Halloween fashion show… so to speak.

BY TIM HINELY

Why give out candy to the kiddos on Halloween when you can go see Alvvays! Yes, for this terrific Toronto band’s first sojourn to the Mile High City I was not gonna miss it but first I had to weather labelmates (Polyvinyl) Jay Som (who were all dressed as The Edge from U-2…that was great). I’ve seen Jay Som before here when they headlined over the Courtneys last year and I don’t necessarily dislike the band but I’m not falling all over them like a lot of of folks.

It’s a pop sound, one that’s occasionally dreamy, other times groove-oriented and at other times a big, grating mess (and I just don’t hear enough hooks). Leader Melina Duterte definitely has talent and most of the crowd seemed to love it so who am I to judge. Check her/them out for yourself and make your own informed decision (Everybody Works is their latest).

Canada’s Alvvays, hot on ther heels of their sophomore release Antosicalites, hit the stage at 9:15 PM sharp dressed as Oompa Loompas and from there it was an hour or so of melodic pop bliss! They remind me a bit of a few 80’s/90’s indie pop bands like Velocity Girl and Shop Assistants as well as current bands like Pains of Being Pure at Heart and Veronica Falls. Falling nicely into the pantheon of great pop bands.

They opened with “Hey” which is the new waveish song off the new album (and sounds just a wee bit out of place on the record) and from there proceeded to play mosty of the cuts from both of their records. After that first song the 1-2-3- punch of “Adult Diversion,” “In Undertow” and “Plimsoll Punks” knocked us all flat in the best way possible.

Mid-set they laid out the great “Saved by a Waif” and the Shop Assistants-esque “Your Type” and ended the set with another great trifecta in “Archie, Marry Me” (the surprise hit off their S/T 2014 debut), “Dreams Tonite” (my 9 year old’s favorite song) and “Party Police.”

They came back out and played the great “Next of Kin” and ended it with a cover of a Motorcycle Boy (who were a post-Shop Assistants band) cover of “Trying to be Kind” and called it a night.

The band is really flying high as this sold out show proved and they deserve it, they work hard and write terrific songs. Looking forward to see what they deliver on their next record but for now I’m still basking in this memorable Halloween. Alvvays and forever!

 

 

Primus 10/29/17, Port Chester NY

Dates: October 29, 2017

Location: Capitol Theater, Port Chester NY

Live at the Capitol Theater, of course.

BY GREG KELLY

After seeing Primus 30+ times I knew this was going to be a mind melting experience, and the ghouls and goblins came out in full force for the show. As I have said in past reviews The Capitol Theater in Port Chester New York caters to the family of concert goers with both a very relaxed atmosphere and incredible production. Primus is touring for their new album “The Desaturating Seven” based on the 1978 children’s book “The Rainbow Goblins”. The band played a full two sets of music, the first being a mix of what is now a huge catalogue to pick from. The second “The Rainbow Goblins” in its entirety.

Opening the show with “Those Dam Blue Collar Tweakers” Les, Larry and Tim showed that there songs defy time and genre. The band played with video screens showing—to say the least psychedelic images mixed with incredible laser show. The crowd absorbed the sound and lights the whole night! Some of the highlights of the first set were “Candyman”, “Mrs. Baileen” and “The Heckler”. The band took a short break and returned with “The Desaturating Seven”. Primus never lets me down and the new album is no different. Sometimes dark and very prog-rock, the band is and never will be interested in selling tons of records and putting out watered down mediocre music. Primus has a hard core following and tonight was no different. Closing the night with a Primus classic “Southbound Pachyderm”, the visuals of elephants jumping up and down was projected throughout the theater and played in my mind for hours and days afterward.

 

 

 

PHOTO GALLERY: JD McPherson 11/1/17, Atlanta

Dates: November 1, 2017

Location: Terminal West, Atlanta GA

Live at Terminal West, burning it up with his brilliant new album.

BY JOHN BOYDSTON

Americana upstart and Okie JD McPherson is touring now through early 2018 in support of the recently-released Undivided Heart & Soul album (New West Records). It was a great crowd for what might have been his first stop in Atlanta, and a good mix of young and older and men and women—which as I have said before bodes well for any up and coming artist. His 2016 album Let The Good Times Roll notched a couple of Grammy nominations, incidentally.The band:

JD McPherson – Vocals, Guitar
Jimmy Sutton – Upright Bass
Jason Smay- Drums
Ray Jacildo – Keys
Doug Corcoran – Saxophone, Guitar, Keys

Check McPherson out at his Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/jdmcphersonhistyle/

 

 

 

 

Highly Suspect + Bones 10/26/17, Memphis

Live at the New Daisy Theatre, and a good time was had by all.

 BY MARK JACKSON

Massachusetts’ Highly Suspect has been one of my favorite bands ever since I stumbled across them by chance playing the New Music Experience while on assignment at Bonnaroo in 2015, and Thursday night reminded me why I look forward to photographing and hearing them every chance I get. Highly Suspect has been playing the music festival scene ever since, playing such high profile events as Rock on the Range Rock Festival and Beale Street Music Festival. (BLURT was of course on site at both to cover all the bands and tell you about the new bands you should be adding to your devices.)

 

With a nearly sold-out show for the New Daisy Theatre, Johnny Stevens and the brothers Meyer (Rich and Ryan) were in rare form, but first the crowd was treated to the band Bones, from London, who have made their way to the U.S. and are quickly making a name for themselves. Although the crowd didn’t know what to expect from this unknown band, as soon as they started playing you could tell they had the “IT” factor. The girls had the crowd jumping and rocking. I think Bones definitely made some new fans and you should also check them out.
***

Then Highly Suspect opened their part of the show with “Bath Salts” and continued rocking throughout the night with hits such as “Lydia”, “Fuck Me Up”, “My Name Is Human”, and “Little One”. The boys even threw in a little blues to honor the famous Beale Street blues music scene.

 

If you like real, raw, stripped-down rock and roll, then Highly Suspect is for you. Johnny sings about his real life and things that affect him, and the honest, heartfelt lyrics really come through. The aforementioned “Lydia” is about a girl whom Johnny met when he and the band moved to New York, but their paths were headed in different directions. Meanwhile, Johnny seems to have survived his heavy drug days (that period of the his life is graphically portrayed in the song “Bath Salts”), and he and his band are destined to make it to the top. Noteworthy guests in the crowd included Zach Myers from Shinedown and former lead singer of Full Devil Jacket and current frontman for Day Of Fire Josh Brown.

 

Text and Photos by Mark Jackson: @markjacksonphotography1            

 

Dinosaur Jr + Easy Action 10/24/17, Englewood CO

Dates: October 24, 2017

Location: Gothic Theatre, Englewood CO

Hallo, Guv’ner! It was a night full o’ decibels at the venerable Gothic Theatre.

TEXT BY TIM HINELY/ PHOTOS BY JEFFREY WEBB DAVIS

Wow, Detroit’s Easy Action, led by the legend John Brannon on vocals, opening up for Dinosaur? Excellent! The last time I saw Easy Action was in the early ‘00s, when they played on ther floor of a coffee shop in Portland at 1:00 AM. If you’re wondering whether Brannon still commands the stage with that commanding scowl that used to scare the hell out of people when he was the vocalist for the Laughing Hyenas (and before that, Negative Approach), well, think no more. The scowl is still in full effect.

Aside: In the audience this night was Colorado’s Governor John Hickenlooper. Out to catch some legenday, noisy rock!

The band is basically the same current lineup he has these day for N.A., with Harold Richardson on guitar, Ron Sakowski (looking like Jesus) on bass and John Lehl on drums. They blasted through a good 45 minutes of howlin’ bluesy, garage rock and sounded in fine form. They’re due for a new record, like now.

Amherst, MA’s Dinosaur Jr came back to town almost exactly a year to the day after I saw them at the Bluebird. J, Lou, and Murph are their names and rockin’ is their game. Still the loudest band on the street. They haven’t released a record since last year’s Give A Glimpse of What Yer Not, so they’re due; I thought that record was an improvement over 2012’s I Bet On Sky, the only album since they reformed that I haven’t liked.

They opened with “Thumb”—the same song they opened with last year—and then launched into a few cuts I wasn’t as familiar with (“Goin’ Down,” “Lost All Day” and “Left/Right”), but then kicked into a few fan favorites like “Feel the Pain” and “Out There.” I was also happy to hear the great “Crumble” off their first comeback record, 2007’s Beyond.

From there we heard “The Wagon” and the classic “Freak Scene” and they ended the set with an extended version of “Forget the Swan,” from their self-titled1985 debut. My ears were bleeding.

After some stomping from the crowd they came out for two encores, including “Sludgefeast” and a cover of The Stooges’ “TV Eye,” then left the stage on this brisk Tuesday evening.

It’s always a pleasure to see these guys live—especially bassist Lou Barlow, who is still such a unique bass player. (Well, J and Murph are no slouches, either, just to be fair!) See ya’ next year guys, hopefully.

 

The Push Stars 9/30/17, Philadelphia

Dates: September 30, 2017

Location: The Grape Room, Philadelphia PA

Live at Philly’s Grape Room after a long, long absence.

BY JOHN B. MOORE

Boston-based pop/rock trio The Push Stars had all the makings of the next big band. After a couple of small releases, they locked in with Capitol Records. They put out a near-flawless record with 1999’s After The Party, combining influences as diverse as The Blake Babies and Cheap Trick; they were added to a handful of soundtracks and scored some decent opening slots on tours. But, once the record failed to live up to Capitol’s expectations (one and done), they moved on.

A couple of indie release later and the band went on hiatus in 2004. So, a decade on, many were surprised that the band decided to reunite for a fall northeast tour.

The fans that greeted The Push Stars inside The Grape Room in Philly on Saturday only numbered around 100, but the band showed no signs of disappointment – and neither did the crowd.

“This is our first time playing here in a really long time,” said singer/guitarist Chris Trapper, who’s been recording and touring steadily as a solo act in the band’s absence. The Push Stars did their best making up for lost time. Trapper, along with drummer Ryan MacMillan and bassist/keyboardist Dan McLoughlin, kicked into a remarkably tight walk through their records with a crowd that, with a little prodding, was right there with them.

“You’re all singing pretty good, but you sound like you’re in church on a Sunday,” said Trapper, goading the crowd to sing louder on the band’s brilliant funeral singalong “Keg On My Coffin”. “Sing like you’re in a bar on Saturday night!” And they did! For the rest of the set.

Just about every song they segued into seemed to be somebody’s favorite, with Trapper and the band clearly basking in the adoration. Always a stellar group lyrically, the years away from playing the songs show the three have grown as musicians, quickly locking into a groove that didn’t let up until the end.

Realizing that the dressing room was all the way upstairs, the band waited all of 20 seconds after the last chord rang out in the set before settling into the encore. “This is our encore,” Trapper shrugged. “We just don’t want to waste anyone’s time.”

The Push Stars, may no longer be touring arenas opening for folks like Matchbox 20 (at a point when Rob Thomas and team were the biggest band on the planet), but they played every note of every song like they were trying to win the crowd over for the first time on Saturday night.

Screw the arenas! The beer is overpriced and the stage is always too far away. The Push Stars are proving one show at a time that global domination may have alluded them, but they may just be one of the best bar bands touring today. And that doesn’t seem to bother them a bit.

This tour comes as the group has just finished recording their latest, crowd-funded album at the legendary Ardent Studios in Memphis, TN.