Monthly Archives: September 2019

Sonic Temple Festival 5/17-19/19, Columbus OH

Dates: May 17-19, 2019

Location: Columbus, OH


Rechristened Rock on the Range has become one of the largest – and loudest! – annual events in the US. Above: In This Moment.


It was a great weekend of Rock at the Temple.

This was the first year for the Sonic Temple Festival in Columbus, Ohio, but as the people in and around Columbus know, this festival comes from the great team of Danny Wimmer Presents. Danny split last year from his partner and is carrying on the great festivals that he has produced for years while adding some new energy on top of those already stellar festivals. The festival scene has been evolving over the years, and Danny and his team are keeping up with the game by adding some flare, great vendors, and sponsors.

This year’s Sonic Temple festival is the new name of the storied, near-legendary Rock on the Range Festival that has been held in May in Columbus for a number of years. Danny and the team knew they had to have an awesome lineup to kick off the newly named festival — and they delivered, with bands like Foo Fighters, System of a Down, Disturbed, Ghost, Papa Roach, Halestorm, Avatar, The Cult, In This Moment, and many more acts over the three day event.


There was also a comedy tent with Andrew Dice Clay (below) and Pauly Shore.


The weather was perfect for Friday and Saturday, but Sunday gave us a small hiccup with a rain delay due to lightning for about two hours, causing a few of the afternoon bands to be pushed out; luckily, this delay didn’t interrupt the evening headliners. If you missed this year’s event, start planning for next year’s festival, as it is one of the  largest rock festivals in the U.S. I for one can’t wait to see who makes the lineup next year. In the meantime, check out the Louder than Life Festival, also produced by Danny Wimmer Presents, that will take place at the end of September in Louisville, Kentucky. (Review and photo gallery of the wild 2017 LTL fest can be viewed here.)




Bad Wolves







Black Coffee



Black Label Society

















In This Moment


Killswitch Engage


Lamb of God





Palaye Royale



Parkway Drive



Black Dahlia Murder



The Cult



The Hives



The Struts




Massive Attack 9/27/19, NYC (REVIEW + VIDEOS)

Dates: September 27, 2019

Location: Radio City Music Hall, New York City, New York

A sold-out performance at Radio City Music Hall cemented the UK group’s reputation once again.


On September 27th, I witnessed the greatest concert of my life. Massive Attack, who I’ve been waiting to see for over 20 years, came to NYC and performed their massively influential Mezzanine LP.

In front of a sold-out audience, Massive Attack played the album out of order while including a mix of the most unexpected cover songs (including “Bela Lugosi’s Dead”, “10:15 Saturday Night” – see the Bauhaus and Cure classics, below – and “I Found a Reason”) peppered throughout. With the band saying nothing to the audience during the entirety of the show, we were exposed to a carpet bombing of devastating, gut-wrenching visuals that, in conjunction with the music, left me reeling.

It was the case of developing on themes of political repression mated with the ceding of our lives to technology over the past 20 years that caused tears to well up in my eyes. This was art at its highest and most powerful level. These were no random images. Each one was part of an elaborate theory that we the people are losing out and that the smear of materialism spread over us to make us seem like we’re advancing is just smoke and mirrors.

If lead singer Robert Del Naja is provocateur Banksy – as the rumors have it – then this was one of his finest moments as an artist, essentially shredding the trauma of the past 20-odd years in front of our eyes, just like that painting at Sotheby’s in 2018. As a close mate of mine and I made our way out the exit, I knew my life had changed in a substantial way. With the crowd dispersing into the rush & rumble outside, my thoughts turned to the unity that was built between all of us in attendance, which comforted me that there’s still hope to turn things around.

I managed to film some additional video for our readership to enjoy – check the material, below.

GIANT SAND – Recounting the Ballads Of Thin Line Men

Album: Recounting the Ballads Of Thin Line Men

Artist: Giant Sand

Label: Fire

Release Date: September 20, 2019


A year after the re-release of their seminal album Glum and their first new album in three years, Returns to Valley of Pain, Giant Sand make a quick turnaround with Recounting the Ballads of Thin Line Men, an album that shows even after an earlier extended absence, the band is in fine form. Leader and guiding light Howe Gelb remains at the helm of this ever-shifting ensemble, as always responsible for a strange assortment of sounds that are often as inexplicable as the album title itself. Given the fact that the band is frequently on hiatus, it’s still cause for celebration, particularly for those fans who have come to appreciate the way they reflect their particular southwest desert noir. However, for those who have yet to catch up, or catch on, even after nearly 35 years, the music often comes across like a confounding contradiction.

As expected then, Recounting the Ballads of Thin Line Men offers a series of menacing melodies, one moment, loud and unruly, and then several that are, by equal measure, sombre and subdued. Howe himself possesses a vocal quality that conveys a decided sense of gravitas in his doom-laden delivery. “Get your acid at the door,” he suggests in the opening verse of “Tantamount,” and indeed a psychedelic mindset might well be the key to full appreciation. That said, Howe and company are at their best when the music is propulsive — the robust “Reptillian,” an upbeat “The Chill Outside” and the scorching rocker “Thin Line Man” being prime examples. All too often however Gelb resorts to his Lou Reed variety deadpan demeanor, an approach which comes across as ominous and overbearing. On the other hand, when he veers off with some variation on the aptly-dubbed “Who Am I,” he sounds like Jim Morrison stoking the flames of pure petulance, and appears far more veracious for it. Likewise, the Zeppelin-sounding riff underscoring “Hard Man To Get To Know” offers an all too rare familiarity factor that promises, albeit temporarily, a common connection.

Then again, Giant Sand would not be the eccentric outfit they are without a few twists and turns along the way. In Recounting the Ballads, they offer ample reasons why. (Editor’s note: The album is available on limited edition colored vinyl – with download card included – in addition to CD and standard black vinyl versions.)

DOWNLOAD: “Reptillian,” “The Chill Outside” “Thin Line Man”

WATERBOYS – Where The Action Is

Album: Where The Action Is

Artist: Waterboys

Label: Cooking Vinyl

Release Date: May 24, 2019


Mike Scott and the Waterboys have had a resurgence of late, thanks to their comeback album of sorts, 2017’s Out of All This Blue, a set of songs which reaffirmed their inherent strengths as an anthemic outfit well adept at sharing a sense of purpose and passion. The aptly dubbed Where The Action Is finds Scott and company maintaining that momentum, thanks to a sweeping set of songs that are as driving and deliberate as anything in their earlier catalog, the epic Fisherman’s Blues included.

The album commences with the powerful one-two punch of the title track and “London Mick,” but it’s a credit to Scott’s ability to balance energy and emotion that he can turn a telling ballad like “Right Side of Heartbreak (Wrong Side of Love)”  and a contemplative rumination such as “In My Time On Earth” into such singular statements.

Scott’s philosophic tomes define him as one of rock’s more profound elder statesmen, thanks to the consistently compelling melodies that dig deep into the human psyche. And while “Take Me There I Will Follow You,” with its rap refrain and hint of hip-hop might throw off the faithful, it too fits remarkably well.

Granted, Where The Action Is may not be the absolute rave-up the album title implies, but it is a remarkably incisive effort that ought to remind one and all what a singularly important ensemble the Waterboys were… and still remain.

DOWNLOAD: “Right Side of Heartbreak (Wrong Side of Love),” “Where The Action Is,” “In My Time On Earth”

2019 Hopscotch Festival 9/5-7/19, Raleigh NC

Dates: September 5-7, 2019

Location: Various Venues, Raleigh NC

The annual cutting-edge music festival did not disappoint. Pictured above: Dirty Projectors


When the tenth annual Hopscotch landed upon Raleigh, so did Hurricane Dorian, some nice weather, and some unwanted heat. In three days, a lot can happen in North Carolina. Live music over twelve different venues was not stopped.

The first day of festival activities at City Plaza were pushed over to the Ritz because of Hurricane weather and the rest of the venues continuing at the same spots and times. Hopscotch was off to a rough start but that did not stop people from filling up the floors to see acts from all over. With one of the few metal showcases at Kings Barcade, curated by Solar Halos, featuring Mourning Cloak, White Hills and Boris to Lincoln Theatre’s Ric Wilson, Injury Reserve, and Joey Purp, and Earthgang, Hopscotch was off to the traditional start.

Day 2 was the most impressive day with astonishing performances from jazz drummer and percussionist Milford Graves, Raleigh’s Black Surfer, and Maryn Jones’s new band Yowler, previously of Saintseneca. The nice weather shined down upon Raleigh and along with it came a packed schedule of musicians that came extremely hard to choose from.(Watch a video of Milford Graves, below.)

One of the most intriguing performances of the night was Pharmakon, who had just released her brand-new album “Devour”. Playing to a packed venue, Margaret was unfortunately dealing with microphone and gear problems which led to a set that no one wanted to leave since they wanted to see her overcome technical difficulties and play her set. With difficulties in hand, she ended up forcing herself to finish the set which meant a larger than life performance that led to her do a full on “charging bull” through the crowd and flipping over her instruments. A performance that stung but will continue to leave a lasting impression. (Pictured below: Pharmakon)

As Hopscotch wrapped its final day, the City Plaza and Red Hat shows were a sight to see. Kooley High, Raphael Saadiq, Little Brother absolutely showed what a main stage City Plaza set was supposed to be like and then some. Crossing over to Red Hat where everyone continued to dance the night away with acts, Phantogram and Chvrches, you could tell that Hopscotch was coming to a close as you looked on festival-goers faces and all you could see was exhaustion along with satisfaction of another great year in the books.

Congrats to Hopscotch Music Festival and it’s ten years of keeping Raleigh on its toes. Here’s to ten more!

Solar Halos

Milford Graves

Mourning Cloak






SCRUFFY AND THE JANITORS – Keepers of the Underdark Vol. 1 – What Are You Running From?

Album: Keepers of the Underdark Vol. 1- What Are You Running From?


Label: self-released

Release Date: September 13, 2019

Ace new single from the ever-brilliant Missouri band.


Where shall I begin with Scruffy and the Janitors.  For the better part of seven years, I’ve followed their career, their progression from lovers of all things Jack White, Cage the Elephant and Nirvana; blending modern electric blues with garage and straight-ahead rock n roll, a mix that was, at times, repetitive but almost always interesting.  From the home recorded “Pino” through 2017’s superb “Modeling is Hard,” Scruffy have shown that, not only are they musicians of a high caliber, they are a unit, a thre- man strike force ready to take on any band, any stage.  They are a band capable of just about anything; opening their minds to new concepts and styles, going from the a band that knew their limitations to a trio that refuses to have limitations, opening their minds to obscure garage rock like The Leaves and The Sonics to the full on mad hatter psychedelia of Syd Barrett era Pink Floyd and the great Captain Beefheart.

That brings us to their new single “Keepers of the Underdark Volume 1: What Are You Running From?” the first in a series of horror-based singles (released on Friday the 13th) that sees the band trying something new and it mostly works.  Steven Foster’s voice has never been so soulful and forlorn, soaked in echo and reverb as he sings of “going postal.” Foster’s bass lines are fat and steady, Trevin Newton’s drumming is confident and powerful as always while Teriq Newton’s guitar work rips through the night like a werewolf devouring its latest, hopeless victim, never letting go, choking the life from the listener and leaving him or her wanting more.

It’s easy to hear that Scruffy are trying something different, moving away from what they know to a song that would make HP Lovecraft proud, it’s subject matter and execution dark, the chorus is catchy and the solos are not overlong. Scruffy is a band on the verge of something great, ready to break out of the St. Joe bubble and take on the world.  Though it’s not a masterwork by definition, what it is however, is a tight, driving tune, perfect for the season of the witch that bares repeating.  Give “What Are You Running From?” a few spins and you’ll see what I mean, it’ll pin you down like a stake through the heart and force you to admit that Scruffy and the Janitors is one of the area’s best rock bands.  They are seemingly unafraid to try new things, to destroy the box they created for themselves and run headlong into the unknown wilderness that is the world at large.  Scruffy gives their fans a song to hold onto in trying times, times that show a new horror every time you turn on the television or read a newspaper, homelessness, mass shootings, unemployment, a less than competent President sitting in the big chair with his finger on the button.

These are dark times my friends and “What Are You Running From?” is the slice of escapism that we need right now. Scruffy, in their growth of nearly a decade together, have found the pocket, the nugget that should put them on the road to discovery, discovering who they are as musicians and as citizens of the wider world.

Is “What Are You Running From?” a commentary on the state of affairs that we find ourselves in, spinning our wheels as we wait for something new and terrible to happen?  Who knows?  Now’s the time boys, take your songs, take the talent that has been given to you and show the world that rock n roll is not dead, it was just hiding in the dark; ready for someone to shine a bright, white hot light on it once again.  With “What Are You Running From?” it’s Scruffy that is holding the flashlight, piercing the shadowy world and signaling for a sign of relief.



Parsnip 9/16/19, Chicago

Dates: September 16, 2019

Location: Empty Bottle, Chicago IL

Empty Bottle
Chicago, IL.


Had the immense pleasure of seeing Parsnip last Monday night, September 16, at Chicago’s Empty Bottle, the kick-off to their first US tour.

If this was the nineties, this group of Australian ladies would’ve already had a cass-single out on K records, some dude called Cobain would be ranting-n-raving about em, they’d get signed to DGC, managed by Golden Mountain talent, done Lollapalooza, visited multiple re-hab facilities, broken up, each member attempting a solo record, only to end up on a sheep farm or running a kangaroo meat packing plant.

Well, thank GAWD it ain’t the nineties!!! You’ve got the chance to take in the Parsnips on their own healthy merits, become enthralled and shimmy, to their own brand of pure pop bliss. “The Tree Bears Fruit” is the first full-length release, issued especially for you by the fine Trouble in Mind family. The songs really seem to explode under an amped live setting and the harmonies sore in a live room.

Do yourself a favor — and I even recommend bringing the family and the family dog or cat. Tour dates follow the photos.

Empty Bottle
Chicago, IL.

Empty Bottle
Chicago, IL.

Empty Bottle
Chicago, IL.

Empty Bottle
Chicago, IL.

Tour Dates:

FRI 9/20 — New York, NY – The Footlight w/ Waist, Air Waves, People’s Court
SAT, 9/21 — Philadelphia, PA – Jerry’s On Front
SUN, 9/22 — Baltimore, MD – Joe Squared
MON, 9/23 — Richmond, VA – The Fuzzy Cactus
TUE, 9/24 — Chapel Hill, NC – The Nightlight
WED, 9/25 — Asheville, NC – Static Age Records
THU, 9/26 — Nashville, TN – Third Man Records instore
FRI/SAT 9/27 & 9/28 — Memphis, TN – GONERFEST 16
SUN, 9/29 — St. Louis, MO – The Nest
MON, 9/30 — St. Louis, MO – Pizza Head
TUE, 10/1 — Kansas City, MO – Farewell Transmission, w/ Warm Bodies
WED, 10/2 — Omaha, NE – M.A.S., w/ Warm Bodies
THU, 10/3 — Minneapolis, MN – Gigs!, w/ Warm Bodies
FRI, 10/4 — Milwaukee, WI – Ground Zero, w/ Warm Bodies
SAT, 10/5 — Chicago, IL – Instore at Bric-a-Brac Records (All Ages)

Hot Snakes 9/5/19, Denver

Dates: September 5, 2019

Location: Oriental Theater, Denver CO

Live at the Oriental Theater.


The best thing about Hot Snakes live is you get what you get. That might not sound like a huge deal, but in our modern times when bands have layers upon layers of influences worn on their sleeves, it’s completely refreshing to find a vein of pure, unadulterated rock and roll among the post-post-neo-whatever genre collage that is the internet of music. Hot Snakes brought their full barrage of amazingly in-you-face noise to Denver’s Oriental Theater on Thursday, and a good, loud time was had by all. Denver’s own Spells opened, maybe the perfect band to set the stage for the music to come.

Then John Reis and Rick Froberg led Hot Snakes through an absolutely pulse pounding, hour long set with songs from all four albums scattered throughout. Not incidentally, the band tours with drummers from both early Hot Snakes eras: Jason Kourkounis. 1999–2003, and Mario Rubalcaba, 2003–05. Both drummers rejoined the band in 2011. For the show Jason took the stage first and handed things off to Mario about half way through. Each guy played the songs they originally played on, with songs from both from 2018’s “Jericho Sirens.” Gar Wood wasn’t able to make the show but had an amazing stand-in in bassist Tommy Kitsos, who played with Wood, Koukonis, and Reis in The Night Marchers.

The band was loud and full throttle all night, taking just about breath-long breaks in between songs except for a quick story about the trip from the bar back to the theater after sound check (Lyft driver: “I’ve never heard of the Oriental, is it an old place?” Reis: “Of course it’s old. It’s called the fucking “Oriental.”) The entire set list fit together incredibly well, which speaks to that initial point: you get what you get. There are no huge shifts or explorations with Hot Snakes, but if you want the real stuff with no filler, they’re the band for you. Don’t miss their live show. Ever.

Set List:
If Credit’s What Matters I’ll Take Credit
Automatic Midnight
No Hands
10th Planet
Gar Forgets His Insulin
Suicide Invoice
Why Don’t it Sink In?
Six Wave Hold-Down
Death Camp Fantasy
I Need a Doctor
This Mystic Decade
Play Vide
Think About Carbs
Having Another?
Jericho Sirens
Plenty for All



The Messenger: The Songwriting Legacy of Ray Wylie Hubbard, by Brian T. Atkinson

Title: The Messenger: The Songwriting Legacy of Ray Wylie Hubbard

Author: Brian T. Atkinson

Publisher: Texas A&M University Press

Publication Date: September 02, 2019


Ray Willie Hubbard may not be top of mind to casual Country/Americana music fans, but he certainly influenced a slew of the musicians making that music today.

It seems rather appropriate then that Hubbard’s peers and acolytes would come together to explain his musical brilliance in writing. The Messenger (272pp), though not the best book to explain the life and career of Hubbard (that one would be his own 2015 memoir, A Life… Well, Lived), it does a pretty solid job of explaining his appeal by those who know him best. Chronicled by Brian T. Atkinson, the book collects an army of interviews from friends, peers and followers; folks like Bobby Bare, Steve Earle, Ben Kweller and Chris Robinson, among many, many others. But the most touching tributes come in the forewords, by longtime pal Jerry Jeff Walker and relative newcomer (at least compared to Walker and Hubbard) Hayes Carll. One of the best stories recounted here is the 1973 live version of Hubbard’s “Up Against The Wall Redneck Mother,” covered by Walker on his live album with a shout out to the song’s author in the intro, a move that brought a lot more attention to Hubbard’s own work.

The book covers his early years, playing folk music in college as part of Three Faces West, and his evolution to a folk/country singer songwriter on par with Walker, Kris Kristofferson and Guy Clark. Like his memoir, The Messenger is pretty frank about his substance problems drawing a clear distinction between his pre- and post- sober career.  A strong book, paired nicely with A Life… Well, Lived, this latest entry in the Hubbard library is further proof of just how influential his music remains today.

Black Flag 8/28/19, Denver

Dates: August 28, 2019

Location: Oriental Theater, Denver CO

Live at Denver’s storied Oriental Theater, the current iteration of the legendary hardcore outfit – featuring founding member Greg Ginn – was in rare form.


The Oriental Theater keeps bringing the noise of old, new (wave) and plenty in between with previous/upcoming gigs by The Fixx, Hot Snakes, Killing Joke and yes, on this night, Black Flag.

The last chance I had to see Black Flag when I really wanted to was 4/7/84 in Philly (I remember the date cos’ it my pal’s birthday) and they all went to the show and I had to work (busboy at a restaurant). They played in Trenton several times in 1985 until the broke up in the Summer of ’86 but I wasn’t such a big fan of that Black Flag material so I never went to see them during those years.

I really wish I would have (and I did see the first ever Rollins Band gig) but alas…

Back to the present….i caught this version of Black Flag a few months ago when they were here for the Saboro festival in which they played a shortened set. Here they were back a few months later and headlining on this night (we missed the openers).

These days the band is founding member Greg Ginn on guitar with pro skater Mike Vallely on vocals and the rhythm section of Tyler Smith on bass and Isaias Gil on drums.  Though the band released an album in 2013, What The…. the set on this night consisted of old, classic material.

A few things, Ginn’s guitar still has that classic, rusty-chainsaw sound and Vallely is a classic growler in the Rollins vein  (a real throaty growl) and of the rhythm section Smith is solid but Gil is a really terrific drummer.

In the hour plus set we heard old chestnuts like opener “Depression,” “No Values,” “Fix Me,” “Gimme Gimme Gimme,” “Six Pack” ( the first B.F. record I ever bought, in 1983 or so).

They kept chugging along, with and extended version of “Slip It In,” “Revenge,” “Clocked In,” “Nervous Breakdown,” “TV Party”  and plenty more. They ended it sweaty and exhausted with a rousing version of “Louie Louie” and called it a night.

Oh and no theremin solos!

People have their own opinions of what this version of Black Flag means and represents and they’re certainly entitled to it but Black Flag in 2019 sounds fine to me and I’m glad I went (and will most likely go again).