Posts Tagged ‘Alternative Rock

12
Feb
14

The Livitation Acts in the Crystal Ballroom by Floater

 

Floater at the Crystal Ballroom

Floater at the Crystal Ballroom

 

On my way to Seattle and after leaving my friends in San Francisco I thought it would be novel and fabulous to spend a night in Portland to take in this magical city. There are similarities of Portland to Seattle but I find the topography a little more intense, more compressed, with the different bridges spanning the various water ways and the mountainous terrain set against the modern city’s architecture offer stunning views. On my frist drive through I found it to be dramatic and picturesque. This being my second visit to Portland I wanted to lock on to the for the night. I decided settled in a downtown motel for the evening with my sights on tuning in on the local night life.

After a few hours of reconstituting myself in the motel room I decided to make my way out and explore downtown Portland. Being famished and restless I had fine dinning and entertainment on my mind. I’m sure I spent the better part of an hour crisscrossing the grid of Portland trying to get a sense of the city by sniffing out where the action might be. My conclusion on my party skills was, “I still got it!” The meaning of this statement is I can still localize and suss out the cool stuff on a whim, like radar. I settled on neighborhood that an urban grid, that also included random diagonals that cross streets amidst old brick buildings. There were quaint cafes, hipstery shops and groovy dive bars shine and glow with burning neon that’s engulfing the active street life. I circled the area till I found the right parking situation and I began the defining hunt for coolness in earnest.

 

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The area was perched on a slops of the city and as I rounded the corner I saw the first evidences of alternative culture. People were hanging on the sidewalks, bundled up in thrift store chic and alternative gear. They were smoking cigarettes and weed in small clusters, while a line lingered near the of a rather historic looking old brick facade. At the time I was unaware of the Crystal Ballroom, which has been a local bastion of entertainment, surviving for nearly a hundred years with the venue celebrating its centennial. I drifted down near the door. I was a bit famished but more interested in what was going on with the people so dutifully waiting outside the door of this grand old establishment. I asked a young lady with her mother what was going on. Without hesitation she declared they were attending a Floater concert. We had a short chit chat and she and her mother recommended I should attend in the most enthusiastic manner.  It so happened that the Crystal Ballroom was celebrating “100 Nights” as part of their centennial anniversary. Floater was playing the 82nd night that would lead up to the culmination of the hundredth show performance on January 21, 2014.

After clearing the Crystal Ballroom’s threshold I headed up 3 flights of stairs to the grand ballroom. It was truly grand! Smoochknob was delivery a rockus alternative blend of Punk and New Metal. They were working the scary tough look but seemed to be big ole sweethearts, as they delivered a fierce throbbing and pounding set drenched searing guitar riffs. The drummer was the singer and he held the center stage. He was big guy sporting a shaggy mohawk. He had a lot of presence for a drummer. They were a manic group, roaming the stage grouping and disbanding to incite the audience with classic guitar showmanship, while actively engaging the fans for a lively energized set. They powered through to the end, properly warming everyone up for the oncoming performance by Floater.

 

 

Floater, now being long in the tooth with a devoted fan base, enter the stage in a very professional focused low-key manner pulling on and messing with their gear. There was the shuffling and slow positioning of the band members to their spots after a number of fan outburst of roars and cheers. These flurries of anticipation peaked in pandemonium when lead singer Rob Wynia moved to the mic and fellow band mates, Pete Cornett and Dave Amador, broke into the beginning of their set, firing off with the song Cinema. Before all this mayhem broke loose I had befriended a gentleman named Doug Griffith. Doug was the ultimate Floater fan. He recounted, to me, seeing Floater over one hundred times. He filled me in on some details of Floater by enlightening me regarding the band’s musical style and history. What it didn’t prepare me for was the out of control antics of their fan base. I was close to the front and to my right of the stage, when all hell broke loose! There was wave after wave of human flesh struggling and flailing appendages coming in my direction. It was posing a problem for my photographing the band and receiving some potentially serious personal injury and camera damage in the process. I’m a veteran of the Hardcore Punk scene from the 80′s, so the violence wasn’t out of hand or malicious, just very physically enthusiastic! The band laid out solid alternative Rock that blew the Crystal Ballroom up from the first song. The new song called “Light It Up” rumbled and then softened to a flow that led the mid-tempo “In transition”. The first 3 songs kind of encapsulated Floater’s sound. Doug informed me that they were well known for drifting into etherial and moody slower placed breaks mid-song. This is clearly how Light It Up had moved in and out of different tempos. There was an ever so subtle homage to a Pink Floyd vibe in their instrumentals during these slower tempo breaks. Nothing you could put a finger on, but hinting to such an inspiration and an undertow. Unlike Smoochknob, Floater tends to be more aloof and mystical in an arty way. At the beginning of “An apology” the band engaged a mind blow laser light show that was occasionally bathed in smoke. The band continued through their set with fan favorites like: Ghost In The Making, Weightless, Plastic Baby, Matadors and Danny Boy. The crowd ate it up and savored every song to move like marionettes toFloater’s charged mayhem with the intense songs and hypnotically swayed to the ethereal moments.  The band retired the stage amongst the howls and cheers. These howls and cheers grew louder daring Floater to return and lay out some more jams. The fans weren’t disappointed when Floater reentered the stage to bring things to a ferocious conclusion with a medley of Helter Skelter/Five To One bringing the house down!

It was an amazing  night in a great city of the North West. I finished the evening off downstairs and a little further down the street and around the corner where I entered Ringlers Pub. I finished the night with a tasty post concert beer and a rather delicious burger. It was all low-key delivered with a North West Alternative no worries attitude that turned out to be a surprising joyous exclamation mark to a very cool entry to Portland’s night life. A great band and a vital city that hit it on all the right notes!

Floater Photo Gallery at the jump Continue reading ‘The Livitation Acts in the Crystal Ballroom by Floater’

09
Nov
11

Eve To Adam: Taki Take Me with You!

I was recently able to extract myself from a maelstrom of activities here on the “Eastside” of Los Angeles to meet and photograph East Coast Rock music phenomenons Eve To Adam. Taki Sassaris fronts this power driven Alternative Rock ensemble hailing from New York. The Eve To Adam party started in earnest at the Rainbow Bar & Grill on a Wednesday evening just before their very first gig at the historic Whisky A Go Go. I would tell Taki later that it’s quiet an accomplishment to book a gig at the Whisky and a milestone in any bands trajectory to the top of music entertainment. So as the energy built to the gig we were treated to 3 of  The Rainbow’s 4 food groups: Pizza, Wings and Booze! I have to say The Rainbows pizza is really good and I’m not much of a pizza fan. So there was 3 of us photogs waiting in the wings and it was on for the photo ops, in that friendly competitive drive to catch the great shots, as we do. So we headed to the parking lot of the Rainbow to do group shots with the talent and the suits. I have to admit records execs aren’t as “Suity” as film execs. Eve To Adam were true pros when it came to photo ops. Taki is a natural for the camera and was always on it! Taki brought it much in the same way Moby had a few weeks back at Kopeckian Gallery for me. We all were standing there when Sebastian Bach strides up to the Rainbow, Rocking his Rock N’ Roll gear. He was about to enter the Rainbow and turns to blow the guys a kiss, only within seconds to find himself in the midst of paparazzi photog flash heat. Talk about another pro, Sebastian took control, much to eveyone’s joyous response, jumping right into the middle of our set-up, delivering all the Rock god poses and looks! I got some awesome shots of Eve To Adam with Sabastian. From there on I followed Sebastian to lock in a classic shot of him and Mike Weber at the entrance at the Rainbow. The party continued on the well known front patio. We photogs haunted the front entrance of the Rainbow for a bit talking of NYC fashion week and whatnots. Then I wanted to soak up a couple of cocktails and hang with my home girl, Karen. I guess that was a good idea because I was soon hearing stories from the guy that made the Ratt‘s (aka, Mickey Ratt) Round and Round video. Hearing the story of Ratt’s wrap party at the Rainbow for the Round and Round video that stared Milton Berle would have curled hairs. You know me, just a fly on the wall, sucking in the details. Soon after that I got together with Taki to shoot some specific shots. I brought up his new Romantic advice blog “Ask Taki” at The Comet. We shared some stories getting to know one another while having a few laughs and snagging some choice photos! I noticed that Stephanie Mata was running the door of On The Rox at the Roxy. I hadn’t seen her in forever. I had to drop by for a quick catch up and a few fun photos before we all headed to the Whisky. I first partied at On The Rox with “White Trash Wins Latto” by Andy Prieboy and Rita D’Albert of Lucha Vavoom in an after party after the White Trash performance and before the real after party up in the Hollywood hills at Dave Foley‘s house.

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The cornerstone of what Eve To Adam has to deliver is in their live performance. It was a big night at the Whisky with some 6 bands in the line up with ETA set for an 8;30pm show. The place had good attendance with a mix of young and old ready for the music. Being a veteran of the Whisky, I perched near the back stage door on the balcony. I wanted to get an overview of the action from there first. Besides, that part of the Whisky is nice and dark keeping it on the downlow for that room. I ate up the first 3 songs on top with ETA laying out the groove, guitars blazing and drums pounding with Taki commanding the stage with songs from the new CD, Banquet For A Starving Dog. It showcased Taki’s power driven vocals with ETA’s hit “Run Your Mouth” with its hooky course and “Fault line” with it’s Randy Rhoads influenced riffy guitar leads were shaking things up! Then I joined in on the Rockin’ on the floor. As they say, I was up above it and now I was down in it! Taki is a great front man and the band had tons of energy to spare to take charge of the stage. The crowd, some of which were already fans, and those who were being won over by such a solid and Rockin’ set; all pulled in closer and tighter.  Taki took a moment to reach out to the audience, taking about the music and conversationally relating to everyone there how he was digging the LA scene. There’s one thing I know for sure about New Yorkers, they know how to party! ETA brought it! New Yorkers are brisk, big hearted and a hell of a lot of fun! I know because of my friend Pat Giordano bassist of Last Days and a New York “Club Kid”, Toni Koystyan, I dated for a while. Taki kept it “New York Real” and launched in the the last part of Eve To Adam’s set keeping it dynamic and energetic. Favoring us with every element of his vocal ability, bringing the power and beauty together with his voice in the songs like “Stay” and “Glasses High”, while proving he had grit and passion in songs like “Little Say” and “Reach”. “Reach” closed the set delivering a sucker punch that made the fan howl and cheer!

I was fortunately over to the right side finishing up the photo work when ETA closed where Chuck Zito of Oz and Charlie Sheen‘s ex-body guard was soaking the last drops of this hot set. Chuck was totally ready for his photo op too. I shot a fast one then headed out to shoot everybody vibing off of the Strip and the Whisky A Go Go! The band and Chuck locked arms to Rock the corner of the Whisky, rallying memories for me of all of those epic bands that have shaken the walls of the music institution for the last half century. Once the photographs were done Taki and crew spent time with their fans for autographs and photos. Chuck Zito broke down some DL on Charlie Sheen. So it was quite a star studded evening and event that burned bright on the Sunset Strip that night. I enjoyed getting to know this New York based band who has the chops to make it big and to catch them balls out Rock us with their song craft, towering stage presence and to take in Taki’s vocal prowess. A good time was had by one and all!

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09
Oct
11

Culture Collide Blowing Up the International Indie and Alternative Music Scenes in Silver Lake

I recieved  an invite from Filter Magazine, of whom I’m a subscriber to their email updates, for the kick off of event for Cultural Collide Music Festival for the concert feature Nirvana: Live At The Paramount. A concert filmed in 1991 had been forgotten till recently. Once found it’s been cleaned up and edited from 16mm down to 1080P High Definition. While the invite suggested I should post this invite to my page with a “like” I couldn’t bring myself to do this. I did share it with a few of what I’d consider devotees of Nirvana or true music fans and close friends. I couldn’t stand the idea of fighting people to find a seat or standing in any line that were a quarter mile long. Thankfully, the tactic paid off making entrance easy and more exclusive. So the lesson here is if you want to be in the know you need to get your finger is the pie or you’re going to have to get your toes wet if you want to be in the action! This Wednesday at the Vista the showing took place with a sizable crowd but no nuttiness. I was very impressed with the feature. It was a perfect time capsule of the band represented and the Punk Rock culture of the time. First point of interest, for me, was when Kurt referred to was when he referred to the music he made as Punk music, not Grunge. So Kurt saw what he was doing as Punk and being true to those ethos. Awe, Grunge you are such a lovely marketing term. Another point of interest was the band’s dress or “Look” was composed: there was no stylist there throwing furs, bedazzling thingies or designer gear on them. Kurt had a sweater with a few moth holes in it, a tee and jeans. No dressing for success here! The sound of the feature was superb and the imaging was superior. For those who weren’t there when it happened it will be a revelatory experience, or others this will be a reminder of how genuine and real music performances were and can be. I left satisfied with the nearest thing to a live Nirvana concert one can receive now. It’s worth giving it a view.

Come Friday I was ready for some live music action and so directed myself to the hot bed of activity of Cultural Collide at Taix for a mixer featuring a number of Dutch bands, in this case it De Staats. What a surprise there were, delightfully quirky and I think there was a socio-political message too. They had this odd charm, the lead singer in proper business dress, while the rest of the band were in musician gear. I think he would’ve dropped the look if he had known how hot Taix was going to be. The lead had presence and knew how to keep it moving and to keep it interesting. There sound was with filled  tinkling keyboards and at had a military cadence at times that bring to mind bands like Wall of Voodoo, Pulp or Oingo Bingo but with a less stylized or quirky vocal approach. I felt, had I been from the Netherlands, I would have picked up on a lot of satire and humor in their presentation. Nonetheless, they were a wonderful way to start the evening off in the right way.

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WIM was the next band on my itinerary or should I say, I stumbled upon them in the Champagne Room of Taix. Hum, happy endings… I was immediately struck by the front man’s presences: vocally gifted, very emotive and dramatic in his presentation. He was captivating, moving and gesturing in a very interesting manner while delivering impressive and stylish vocal performance. I thought at first they were some nutty Eastern European band that was branded as being folk glam. Is this a departure from Freak Folk? He approached the mic like a Silent Movie Star would approach a love interest: brooding, steamy and filled with dark lust. By the second song I was sold and the ladies there had been on board long before I showed up. They temperture raised a few degrees while the band slyly slipped their had up out skirts, musically speaking, while we fell into a trace of ungarded pleasure. WIM is a remarkable band and a must see!

I arrived in time to catch Portugal’s The Gift. The lead singer, has an exotic look and a lively stage presence. She dances and takes dramatic poses, while she delivers a poppy Alternative Rock. Not quite No Doubt, not quite Lena Lovich nor quite Loop Guru, The Gift delivers a tuneful dance Rock that is closer to mainstream or Euro pop than what I’d consider alternative, but lively in any case. Their sound is lush with keyboards, riffy guitars and power drumming. During the last song they the keyboardist used a theremin to great and dramatic affect bumping the overall energy and excitement to the show as a whole.

Next on my wish list was The Morning After Girl. These guys were great, providing dense dark hypnotic melodic alternative Rock to a ever growing crowd. The buzz I had received was on target and they delivered. Somewhere in the realm of Spiritualize, Pink Mountain tops or the Verve this band was a knock out pulling off an awesome interpretation of Neo-Phychedelic Rock. I could have listened to a longer set and nested there for the rest of the night had I not had more trouble to get into. The Morning After Girl knew their instruments had good stage presence and the lighting only made the experience richer and put this band on my hit list to visit again.

The local buzz on Avi Buffalo had drawn my attention to what all the hub-bub was about. So, I trekked back Taix’s Champagne room for my last show for the night. I’d say what Avi Buffalo is somewhat like Darker My Love but referencing more of Bob Dylan and less of Tom Petty with a big dip in to Neil Young and Crazy Horse and the tiniest dash of White Strips. The sound is folkish but in an electric way and in a singer song writer way too. The lyrics are thought driven and introspective. The audience were composed of Hipsters and young locals. It reminds me of how I’d often go to see Tell Tale Hearts in San Diego part of the Garage Sixties sound that was a subculture to the Punk subculture.  I found them to be more rewarding than Darker My Love: more song craft and musicality. I look forward to digging deeper with this band as time goes on. Cultural Collide has curated so far some memorable and amazing talent. I can’t wait to get my Rocks of fop the rest of the weekend here i Silver Lake.





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