Category Archives: Concerts

Widowspeak + Death Valley Girls 9/19/17, Denver

Dates: September 19, 2017

Location: Hi-Dive, Denver CO

Live at the Hi Dive…


Death Valley Girls are three gals and one guy who hail from El-Lay, but they might as well be from a different planet. At least the Squeaky Fromme singer. Oh she has a name, it’s Bonnie Bloomgarden and I guess on tour these folks do nothing but search out haunted places (I told ya’ they were weird!). Musically? They hit a sweet spot right where punk, bubblegum, garage, metal and space rock all collide, make out and go their seprarate ways (which makes them all feel so used). They’ve got  few records out on the Burger label so enter at your own risk (ah, you’ll befine, just drop some Pixie Stix before listening).

Widowspeak came back to town as I caught this hirsute quartet from Brooklyn, NY here a few years back and they all still look like Cousin It (except the singer, she’s way cuter than Cousin It). They just released their 4th full-length, Expect the Best, out on Captured Tracks label (like their previous three) and it’s in the same ballpark. They mine a territory that bands like Mazzy Star used to (or a band like Escondido currently does) as lead vocalist Molly Hamilton lays down a dark, soothing vibe while the rest of the band soothes the groove (especially guitarist Robert EarlThomas) while they blasted out dense cuts like “The Dream” and “Warmer” (both from said new record). This bunch won’t get your blood boiling but will help you dream a lovely dream.

Photo Gallery: 2017 Hopscotch Music Festival

Sept. 7 – 10 at various venues in downtown Raleigh, NC


There were scores of outstanding performances at this year’s Hopscotch – too many to portray here. But we have some of our faves for your viewing pleasure. And go HERE to read Daniel Matti’s review of the event. Visit Shannon Kelly at the official website.

Skylar Gudasz (also above)


Happy Abandon


Angel Olsen


Big Thief

A Flock of Dimes


Run the Jewels

Big Boi



Ted Leo & The Pharmacists 9/14/17, Philadelphia

Dates: September 14, 2017

Location: Union Transfer, Philadelphia PA

Live at Union Transfer – once upon a time, a Spaghetti Warehouse.


“Good Evening Philadelphia! We’ve got a lot of songs to get through, so I’m not gonna talk too much,” pledged a dapper Ted Leo, taking the stage of Union Transfer, a former Spaghetti Warehouse turned stellar concert venue.

Thankfully, he didn’t keep his word as Leo, probably one of the most charming storytellers to come out of Jersey since Springsteen, peppered the set with a slew of self-deprecating jokes, one-offs and stories.

Kicking off the show with “Moon Out of Phase,” off his new album, The Hanged Man, Leo and his band played a fantastic collection of newer songs and classics, cramming two dozen tunes with plenty of Leo’s banter in between. The show was a homecoming of sorts for a bulk of the touring band who call Philly home (there was even a moment when Leo and his guitar player traded off their best Philly accents).

Though Leo has never been overtly political, the current administration and its policies managed to play a role in Thursday night’s show regardless.  “As you may imagine, it’s a weird time; it’s odder than usual to be out and exuberant, but thanks for having us,” he said early in the set to loud cheers.

Before launching into “Heart Problems,” of off Shake The Sheets, her lamented the move by the president and many in Congress to try and get rid of the Affordable Health Care Act which has given health insurances to millions. “We need to be expanding it, not denying it.”

Leo, on the stage solo for a handful of songs, also took time to acknowledge the death earlier that day of Grant Hart and the passing just a day before of Jessi Zazu, playing a beautiful cover of the Hart-penned Husker Du track “She Floated Away.”

More than two decades into their career, Ted Leo (along with his band) is not just doing ok, he’s hitting his creative stride, managing to be both a better musician and fantastic showman.

Yes featuring Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin and Rick Wakeman 9/3/17 Littleton, CO

Dates: September 3, 2017

Location: Hudson Gardens, Littleton CO

Tales from topographic gardens – specifically, Hudson Gardens…


Ok, so I blew off La Luz at the Bluebird for this because for one, I’ve seen La Luz several times and two, I had never seen Yes before, or at least something this close to Yes.

Also I had never been to Hudson Gardens before but had heard good things. It’s a big field where they have weddings, parties, classes and off to the side is a stage where bands play. It’s mostly of ther over-50 yuppie variety. This past summer saw the likes of Chris Issak, Firefall, Loverboy, Donny and Marie, the B-52’s and lots more, you get the picture. This Yes show was the last one of the season and we caught it on a perfect night, in fact, after being a real hot day it really cooled off in the evening. Perfect for concert going!

This version of Yes is billing itself as “Yes featuring Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin and Rick Wakeman.” Apparently Steve Howe has a different version of yes touring the country as well (R.I.P. Chris Squire); for a dissection of the legal and personal breakdown between the Anderson and Howe camps in April of this year and what led up to it, read this story at Ultimate Classic Rock.

I had begun following the band on the heels of their third album The Yes Album from `71 and continued on through the following records of  Fragile, Close to the Edge and Yessongs.

In addition to the foundation of Anderson on vocals (he sounded great) Wakeman on keyboards and Rabin on guitar they had a rhythm section in tow as well (who from our vantage point we couldn’t even see…..I couldn’t see Wakeman either from where we were sitting off of stage left).

They opened with “Cinema” and led into “Perpetual Change” and then right into “Hold On.” From there the set lagged, if just a little, with “South Side of the Sky” and “And You and I” but picked up again when they soared into “Lift Me Up” and “Rhythm of Love” with a chatty, amiable Anderson talkintg to the crowd in between songs.
They ended with it “Owner of a Lonely Heart” and came back out for one encore, which was “Roundabout” (which is an old fave, sounded great and really got the crowd moving).

I was a little bummed about not hearing cuts like ‘Starship Trooper,” “Yours is No Disgrace” and “I’ve Seen All Good People” (yup, I do lean heavily toward The Yes Album) but at least we heard “Perpetual Change” from that album.

Aside from hearing the hum of the food trucks that were nearby (serves us right for not getting there early enough to be closer to the stage) and a meathead security guy not letting me take pics even though I had a photo pass, it’s a nice place to see a concert. Our beach chairs got some good use for the night and Yes can still pack a punch. Now I’m curious to hear Steve Howe’s version.

Photo credit: Pollstar/Hard Rock International

Melvins / The Spotlights 8/15/17, Denver

Dates: August 15, 2017

Location: Gothic Theatre, Denver CO


It’s not reaching to say that Melvins are too powerful for most venues. That was literally the case on Tuesday night at Denver’s Gothic Theater when the lights went out, prompting a two-ish hour delay before sludge metal’s reigning trio could play. But when Buzz Osborne and Dale Crover wordlessly took the stage along with current-and-touring bass player Steven Shane McDonald* (Redd Kross, Off!), they proceeded to use every available volt in the building. At least, that’s how electricity works for the sake of this metaphor.

I was disappointed that The Spotlights set got cut short by the power outage, although their live set wasn’t doing justice to last year’s LP Tidals. Their studio stuff, at least, is not to be missed, and I will absolutely try to catch them the next time they come through the Mile High City. If you like the long build/break with a side of drone style of metal that certain bands are taking up, you’ll really like Tidals, I’m guessing. It’s good and you should buy it.

Melvins’ sixteen song show started with Sacrifice, the Flipper cover from their 1992 Boner Records release Lysol (aka s/t). This is a perfect opener for a Melvins show for a lot of reasons. For starters, with more albums than most bands will ever dream of making, why not start with something from 25 years ago? That’s a treat that most real metal fans that aren’t into arena rock will never get to experience, but Melvins fans were in luck. Also, who starts their show with a cover? Well, if you make the cover so much your own that it’s more distinct than the original, go right ahead. That’s for sure the case here. Finally, clicking in at around the 6-minute mark, it’s one of the shorter songs in the catalog. Other songs fell right in, with a few gems from the first record of their new first-ever-double-album A Walk With Love And Death (the second album is mostly concept/noise, which, honestly, they could have played without reservation as well, though it would have generated a lot of questions).

To their everlasting credit, Melvins do what they want. That includes being nice guys that I would really want to have over for dinner with my family. I like metal, but I just can’t get in to the whole living-in-an-isolated-scandinavian-fjord-and-sacrificing-goats part of it. I mean, it sounds good in theory, but in practice that just makes you a real johnny-stick-in-the-mud. To me, that type of persona makes a big difference in the show. I kind of rocked out and just had fun without having to be more metal than the next guy (which, believe me, the next guy wins). The show Melvins put on was misfit music for true misfits, ones that don’t even fit into the misfit category that the rest of the misfits fit.

Which is all to say that this show was amazing, one of the best shows I’ll see all year, in a large part because Melvins are the absolute real deal. They don’t pretend to be heavier than they are, because they don’t have to. And if you go see them, you don’t either. Just put your earplugs in and enjoy as the bass, drums, and distortion wash over your body and cover you in an evening of wonderful, glorious sludge.

*It should be noted that Shane wore a sleeveless v-neck shag-fur jerkin(?) for the show. I’ve never written about fashion before, but if I were to ever start, it would be there. Bold.

MAKE AMERICA LOVE AGAIN: Annual LOCKN’ Festival 2017 8/24-27/17, Arrington VA

This year’s stellar event at Oakridge Farm was far more than the jam-band blowout it has typically been known for in previous years—in addition to stalwarts like Widespread Panic, Gov’t Mule, moe., and String Cheese Incident, on hand were such disparate artists as Afro-beat provocateurs Antibalas, swamp-funk maestros JJ Grey & Mofro, country-pop songstress Brandi Carlile, and NC’s own Avett Brothers.


The fifth annual LOCKN’ music festival was held at the Oakridge Farm in Arrington, VA about 45 miles away from Charlottesville. Needless to say there was a whole lot of love and support flowing through these hills during the four-day event. So many musicians stood up and spoke about the tragic events and misfortune in Charlottesville a few weeks prior.

A lot of folks felt this part of the country needed healing and good vibes and that is exactly what LOCKN’ did. I did not see any acts of wrong doing—if anything, I witnessed so much love and kindness. There was so much good music, the scenery was beautiful; and fun times seem to be had by all. The following photo gallery is a glimpse of LOCKN’ 2017, and if you have not been before you may want to put this event on your radar, as it’s one of the things that actually does make America great. Or, as Keller Williams might put it, “Make America Love Again.”


BLURT contributor Willa Stein previously covered the 2015 LOCKN’ festival for us. To view more of the Raleigh-based photographer’s work or to contact her, visit her official website.


Jim James of My Morning Jacket


Billy Nershi from String Cheese Incident


Jorma Kaukonen, best known for his work with Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna.


Brandi Carlile and Jim James


Bob Weir, Nicki Bluhm and Phil Lesh performing with the Terrapin Family Band.


Margo Price


Marcus King from The Marcus King Band


David Shaw from The Revivalists


Melvin Seals


One fan was clearly enjoying the show…


Warren Haynes, Phil Lesh and Ross James, Terrapin Family Band.


John Butler, John Butler Trio.


Fans (did we mention the fans?)


Classically trained pianist Holly Bowling performs at the Terrapin Station Porch.


Keller Williams sporting messages of “No time to Hate”, “Virginia is for Everyone” and “Make America Love Again”.


Dobro player extraordinaire, Anders Beck, Greensky Bluegrass.


Gov’t Mule’s Warren Haynes


Gov’t Mule with special guest Ann Wilson of Heart.


John Fogerty (you may have heard of his earlier band: Creedence Clearwater Revival).


Grahame Lesh, Bob Weir and Phil Lesh during the performance of Terrapin Station,  highlight of this year’s festival.


Joe Russo, Almost Dead


John Bell from Widespread Panic


Seth Avett, of the Avett Brothers


Bob Weir


Tift Merritt & Friends 8/19/17, Raleigh NC

Dates: August 19, 2017

Location: North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh NC

Live at the North Carolina Museum of Art, it was a fine day to be on the green…


Having grown up in Raleigh, NC, singer-songwriter Tift Merritt chose to make the hometown stop on her current tour a special one-time only event billed as Tift Merritt and Friends. The friends she brought along for the show were M.C. Taylor of Hiss Golden Messenger, Eric Slick of Dr. Dog, Alexandra Sauser-Monnig of Mountain Man, and The Suitcase Junket. These artists have all in recent years played shows and recorded together in various combinations and Tift wanted to get them all on stage together; I’d say everyone in attendance was glad that she did.

In addition to the music, the party had food trucks and a tent made from an old army parachute underneath which was a commissary with unique goods from local vendors. The stage was even set up with a variety of Americana ephemera from Butch Anthony’s Traveling Museum of Wonder, who drove up in the old Cadillac he traded a painting to Leon Russell for. Even the car was a work of art, being adorned with a deer head and trophies from front to back. Tift herself was completely hands on with the planning of the event, all the way down to offering menu ideas to the local food trucks. (I can vouch for the chicken and waffles!)

Over the course of the nearly 2-1/2-hour show, each of the artists took their turn in the spotlight and backed each other up. It was a wonderful evening of songs and musical collaboration. First up was, of course the MC for the evening, Tift Merritt, with a couple songs from her newest record, Stitch Of The World. Next up was a couple numbers by Alexandra Sauser-Monnig, who we were told has her debut solo record on the way.

One of the great things about an event like this is getting to hear new (to me) artists, and experiencing The Suitcase Junket was a treat. Matt Lorenz is a one-man-band who sings his songs with an old guitar and a percussion contraption mostly made up of random found objects. Despite being self-contained, he was accompanied by some of the others who took care to let his unique thing stay front and center. After a couple songs by Eric Slick, the musicians gathered around one mic to sing Tift’s “Dusty Old Man” and “My Boat” who’s lines, “room onboard for my friends” seemed to sum up the ethos of the evening. Next up was M.C. Taylor of Hiss Golden Messenger who brought a little volume to the proceedings which got the folks up front on their feet. The whole ensemble again gathered around one mic as Taylor asked us to sing along with the chorus of “Drum,” “Take the good news, carry it away. Take the good news spirit it away.”

Adding to the feel good vibe of the night was a recognition of the 20th anniversary of concerts being held at this venue, a jewel of a small amphitheater on the grounds of the NC Museum of Art. After performing Johnny Thunders’ “You Can’t Put Your Arm Around A Memory” and “Stray Paper,” Tift waxed poetic about her town, friends, and all the support over the years as a cake was brought out to celebrate the museum’s program director. She then closed the set with “Proclamation Blues” but we knew there was more to come. A couple minutes later she returned, and giving thanks to everyone involved, her love for the hometown she recently returned to was evident as she said, “I can’t think of a better place to raise my daughter.” Sitting down alone at the keyboard she sang an emotional “Good Hearted Man” and as the whole ensemble returned for one more song, she reminded us that “the good is there, no matter what else is going on.”

I once heard someone say that the world can’t have too much love or too much music. On this Saturday night in Raleigh, that never felt more true.

Switchfoot + Lifehouse 8/22/17, Greensboro

Dates: August 22, 2017

Location: White Oak Amphitheatre, Greensboro NC

Live at the White Oak Amphitheatre in Greensboro, North Carolina. Above: Switchfoot.



The Greensboro Coliseum Complex hosted Lifehouse & Switchfoot with special guest Brynn Elliott at the White Oak Amphitheatre on August 22nd. Their current tour, “Looking For Summer, features 30+ dates across North America, the first one being kicked off in Denver, CO. this July.


The Greensboro show consisted of both bands playing hits and new material. Switchfoot’s set had a very peace and love feel to it along with a high-energy performance, with at one point frontman Joe Foreman getting off stage and singing in the crowd for half a song. Switchfoot gave a very captivating performance of their song “Where I Belong”. Fans were waving flags from the audience with “Where I Belong'” written on them. Lifehouse also had a very high-energy performance with the main spectacle being their music.


Both bands made you feel like you weren’t in a huge crowd, but in a smaller venue in which they were playing for only you.


Brynn Elliott

Lifehouse: Bryce Soderberg

Lifehouse:  Jason Wade

Lifehouse: Steve Stout
Switchfoot: Jon Foreman
Switchfood: Tim Foreman
Switchfoot: Chad Butler
Switchfoot: Drew Shirley

Hellyeah + Kyng 8/6/17, Memphis

Dates: August 6, 2017

Location: New Daisy Theatre, Memphiis TN

New Daisy Theatre saw a bloody good time on this steamy summer evening.


Chad and the boys of Hellyeah brought heavy metal to Memphis, TN. on August the 6th. From the moment that drummer Vinnie Paul appeared behind his drum kit the crowd knew they were in for a head banging loud concert. Lead singer Chad Gray is know for his signature look of bloody face, wild hair, and great heavy metal voice that can also bring it down. The new hit song “Love falls” show the full range of Chad’s voice, not to mention the talent of the entire band. Hellyeah is out on tour in support of their 2016 album Undeniable. With Songs such as “Human” “Love falls” and “I don’t care anymore” (Phil Collins cover) this is an album that any metal head should have in their library.

Chad loves to get up close with fans and photographers too. Many performers choose to stay far away from the edge of the stage but not Chad, he spent much of the night right up front and came out into the crowd more than once! This was a great show and a great night. Now if I can only get my ears to stop ringing! I can’t wait to catch Hellyeah out on the road again, hopefully sooner than later!

Below: opening act Kyng



Mark Jackson: @markjacksonphotography1

Priests + Lithics 8/12/17, Denver

Dates: August 12, 2017

Location: Larimer Lounge, Denver CO

Live at the Larimer Lounge for an evening of edgy art pop ‘n’ punk.


I hadn’t heard Lithics before but they hail from my old stomping grounds of Portland, Oregon. Three guys on guitar/bass/drums and one deadpan female on guitar/vocals. They really delivered a convincing set of quirkly art pop/ no wave kinda stuff with good short songs. I was at times reminded of Pylon, UT (remember them?), and a little Bush Tetras, too. I couldn’t tell you the names of any of the songs but if you’re planning on catching  Priests gig they’re definitely worth showing up early for (and it looks like their Bandcamp page has plenty for sale).

My first time seeing Priests and I believe that vocalist Katie Alice Greer stated that this was their first time in Denver and she was excited by that. The Washington, DC quartet are touring on the heels of their debut lp, Nothing Feels Natural that came out earlier this year on the band’s own Sister Polygon Records. The record is a fresh blast of angular, politicized punk that at times reminded me of Bikini Kill and Bratmobile.

On stage Greer is all over the place, staring audience members down then giving them a sly smile while guitarist GL Jaguar  rips out dirty chords and is moving, too. The rhythm section of drummer Daniele Daniele and new bassist Fabi Reyna are the glue that holds it sall together. Songs from the LP, like “JJ,” “No Big Bang,” “Suck,” “Pink White House” and the title track take on the feel of classics every time I hear them.

I expected more political banter between songs, but aside from one mention of the Charlottesville incident that happened earlier in the day, she was more friendly and playful in chatting with the crowd. Having said that, this band is the real deal, don’t take her kindness for weakness. She can change that tune in a second and begin spitting out lyrics that will set you on your ear (as on “Pink White House”).

It’s not all one big emotional spit though. The band can be understated and subtle when they want to be. That’s one of the things that makes them so special.

In a city like Washington, DC where the Dischord label looms large and bands like these have come (and gone) it takes a special kind of band to really stand out from the pack and Priests have done just that. I’m glad to see that not only did they do it on record, that live they can deliver as well.