Rival Sons | The Observatory | 9/19/14 [Photos]

A few weeks ago, I was sitting in a club with a friend and we were talking about bad ass bands, and the name Rival Sons came up. I had never heard of the band previously, so I had I a lot of questions. Where are they from? What kind of music do they play? How many albums have they released? The only I answer I got?


“Dude. Just check them out. They will blow your mind.”


Considering that my friend plays in a bad ass band as well, I didn’t take the blunt statement of approval lightly. I surfed the web the following day and started doing some “research”. My friend was right. My mind was blown.


I really got into rock and roll when I purchased my first Led Zeppilin album, “House of the Holy”. I must have played that CD a hundred times during my four years of college. It shaped the way I listen to music, and has since shaped my sensibilities. Needless to say, I’m a pretty big fan of classic rock.


Rival Sons are classic rock revivalists, and they are, quite simply, bad ass. They’ve been releasing records since 2009 with 4 studio albums under their belt, and I’ve been kicking myself in the ass for not having heard of them until recently. The fact that they are based out of Long Beach, California and I hadn’t heard of them until now? Yes … shame on me.


I wanted to see them at The Troubadour, but that show had sold out. Though I hardly ever travel outside my comfort zone (Los Angeles) to see bands play, they were embarking on a world tour that’ll basically run through till the end of the year, and I knew that I couldn’t wait until next year to see them perform live. So I sucked up the prospect of an hour long commute, and made my way to a new venue in a foreign territory: The Observatory in Orange County.


Thankfully, I had company for the trek, but when I got to the Observatory, I found it to be quite a terrific venue. It was set up so that there was a pretty decent view from anywhere in the audience (unless you had an extremely tall patron in front of you). It wasn’t overpacked and the crowd, at least for this show, was extremely friendly. Enough with the venue … let’s get to the music.


In my opinion, they’ve got everything a killer band needs. A charismatic frontman with killer pipes? Jay Buchanan has it in spades. A bad ass guitar player? Scott Holiday and his Dali-esque mustache looked and played as badass as it gets. Dave Beste (bass) and Mike Miley (drums) complete the music puzzle capturing a huge, guitar-driven classic rock sound that many try to copy, but fail to achieve. These guys nail it.


These guys nail it, but they aren’t imitators. They take the music that’s influenced them, and create a fresh, rocking sound that, though revivalist, is current and edgy. God damn, it was good. I guess I’ll have to wait until next year to catch them live again. It’s a good thing I’m a patient man. I just hope that the LPs I purchased don’t get worn out before they get back into town.

Rival Sons | Observatory | Setlist

Illumination Road | Hotel Cafe | 8/29/14 [Photos]

I love the Hotel Cafe. It’s a classy and intimate performance venue that has a great sound system and they always seem to find great local (and touring) talent to perform on their small stage.


I was excited when I heard that Illumination Road was playing there (full disclosure, I know a couple of the guys in the band), but truth be told I was actually more excited to test out a new 50mm lens with a low aperture that I recently purchased.


The band was great. Their set was more mellow than the last time I saw them at the Troubadour. By incorporating an upright bass and keys, their sound was definitely a bit more subdued, but they still rocked it out and performed with the same rock and roll intensity that I remembered from earlier this year. I was particularly impressed with their cover of Radiohead’s “Subterranean Homesick Alien”, which you can check out a clip of below. So killer.



Because the Hotel Cafe is generally really, really, really dimly lit, I was actually pretty pleased with how my photos came out. I think I’ll need to save some money on a better camera body (something that can take non-noisey, high ISO shot better than my T2i), but I think that these, for the time being, will suffice.

The Zombies | Twilight Concert Series | Santa Monica Pier | 8/21/14 [PHOTOS]

CLICK HERE to check out other acts performing a Twilight Concert at the Santa Monica Pier!

When I was approved to shoot The Zombies at the Santa Monica Pier, I was giddy. Being a supreme music dweeb, I was fully aware of their impact in popular music. Their sound basically redefined rock music.

I’d try to wax poetic about how amazingly (and truthfully, surprisingly) they performed on the summer eve, but Bob Lefsetz, a noted music writer, already wrote everything, and more, that I would have not so eloquently put pen to pad. CLICK HERE to read his stellar review.

The fact that two of the original members, Colin Blunstone and Rod Argent, both 69, are still in prime form was wonderful to witness. If you weren’t there, you missed out on a legendary performance, or legendary music, by legends. Your loss.

CLICK HERE to check out a collection of Instagram videos of some of the songs The Zombies performed at this concert.

The Zombies | Twilight Concert | Setlist


CLICK HERE to check out other acts performing a Twilight Concert at the Santa Monica Pier!

The Zombies | Twilight Concert Series | Santa Monica Pier | 8/21/14 [INSTAGRAM VIDS]

CLICK HERE to check out other acts I caught at the Twilight Concert on the Santa Monica Pier!

Below are Instagram clips of some of the songs from The Zombies set at the Santa Monica Pier as part of the Twilight Concert Series. Instagram’s embed settings are, unfortunately, too large for WordPress, but hopefully, you’ll still be able to click through to watch the video clips. Enjoy.


CLICK HERE to check out other acts I caught at the Twilight Concert on the Santa Monica Pier!

Free Concert Alert | Mystic Braves & The Zombies at the Santa Monica Pier | 8/21/14 [Preview]

CLICK HERE to check out the other acts I plan on checking out this Summer at the Twilight Concert Series at the Santa Monica Pier!

On Thursday, August 21st, the Santa Monica Pier hosts the Mystic Braves and … wait for it … wait for it … the Zombies!

Formed in 1962, The Zombies were part of the “British Invasion” that swept the United States after The Beatles opened the doors. They scored a series of chart topping hits with songs liked “She’s Not There” and “Tell Her No”. Their album “Odessy & Oracle” was ranked by Rolling Stone Magazine as #100 of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

If recording artists like Beck, Nick Cave, Belle and Sebastian (and the list goes on and on) all regard The Zombies as major influences, it would behoove any music fan to see two of the original Zombies (lead vocalist Colin Blunstone and organist Rod Argent) perform music from their vast catalog. If you are a fan of rich harmonies and catchy melodies, their performance at the pier is not to be missed.

Follow The Zombies on Facebook by clicking here.


Also performing on the pier, opening for The Zombies, is Mystic Braves, a Los Angeles based psychedelic band really grooves with its classic, psych-rock sensibilities. Could the Twilight Concert series picked a better opening act to set the mood for The Zombies? I doubt it. I’m looking to get trippy (figuratively speaking) for this concert.

Follow Mystic Braves on Facebook by clicking here.

To see the full list of acts performing at the Santa Monica Pier as part of the 20th Annual Twilight Concert series, CLICK HERE.

CLICK HERE to check out the other acts I plan on checking out this Summer at the Twilight Concert Series at the Santa Monica Pier!

The Strypes | El Rey Theatre | 3/31/14


I don’t know what they are feeding their kids across the pond, but I would suggest that we bring whatever they have over there and start feeding it to our kids in the States.

It was a last minute decision, but having missed out on seeing Jake Bugg perform at The Wiltern, I decided that I wouldn’t miss out on catching The Strypes, a four piece blues/garage rock band from Cavan, Ireland , finish up their U.S. tour with a stop at the El Rey. Their music is a throwback to some of the great rock bands of the 60s and 70s … and they are only 16-18 years old.

The crazy thing is, if you didn’t know how old they were, I guarantee that you would have never guessed that they were so young. Their music is fast and loud, and they carried an attitude on stage that made them appear older than they actually are. It was an 18+ show, but it didn’t surprise me that that their audience was equally split between those still in high school, and those who grew up with music from bands like The Kinks (whose rendition of “Louie, Louie” they faithfully covered as their finale) and the Yardbirds. It no surprise that legacy artists like Elton John (full disclaimer, Elton is managed by the same company that manages The Strypes)  have been raving about the group for some time.

Their music is accessible by disparate age groups because though they perform with their naturally youthful energy and swagger that could make any pre-teen girl squeal, they also have the musical chops to impressively sound like that music form the glory days of classic rock-and-roll. I mean, the lead singer, Ross Farrelly (who I understand is only 16 years old) has a voice that quite faithfully covered classic by Bo Diddley, The Specials, Ramones and Kinks.

These kids are impressive. Their stage present and their seems to indicated that they have the potential to keep on making great sounding rock-and-roll for years to come. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that their sound doesn’t change too much with puberty.

The Strypes Setlist El Rey Theatre, Los Angeles, CA, USA 2014

Unfortunately, the Flickr slideshow below is not available on mobile devices. If you are on a mobile device, please click THIS LINK to get redirected to the set of photos. If the slide show below isn’t working, then Flickr has disabled their embed option for WordPress and hasn’t yet updated their HTML code, which totally BLOWS! If you can see the slide show below, hooray!

Illumination Road | The Troubadour | 2/17/14


Last June, I went to go see Illumination Road at The Roxy; a band that writes and performs music with a distinctly classic rock edge. Now, I don’t usually go out on Mondays, but when I heard that they were scheduled to open for another band at The Troubadour, I had to suck it up and check them out. I’m glad I did.

I got to the venue early, and having not eaten anything for dinner, decided to grab a bite from the grill behind the bar. I ordered a grilled cheese and fries, and sat on a stool at the bar closest to the grill while waiting. While waiting, I noticed two things: (i) There was a female-fronted rock band on stage, and (ii) I was sitting next to Darren Criss. I’m not going to deny it, I’ve watched, and enjoyed, his covers of Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream”, so I told him that I liked his work, and asked him who he was there to see. It turned out that he was at The Troubadour to support his girlfriend’s band Mad Moon Riot, who happened to be playing at that moment.

“Cool,” I said, and I let him be. I ordered a beer, and started to eat my grilled cheese when a buddy of mine arrived. He had brought his camera to take pictures of Illumination Road as well, so I asked him to sneak a picture of me eating my grilled cheese with Darren in the background. I tried to slyly make the picture funny, but it wasn’t. In fact, it was terrible. By the time I had finished my grilled cheese and beer, Mad Moon Riot had finished their set, and I made my way to the front of the stage to snap some pics.

When Illumination Road started their set, it was loud, glorious and hard-rocking. I enjoyed their show at The Roxy, but there was something this time around that was particularly more impressive. Whether they were inspired by the history of the venue, or whether they had just had more time to polish their live performance since the last time I saw them, it was an inspired set that I’m sure gained them some new fans. Chris Ayden, the lead singer, had a certain swagger and a commanding stage presence that night, that, truth be told, pleasantly surprised me.

If you’re looking for a new band reinvigorating the “classic rock” genre/sound, I suggest that you “like” them on Facebook and catch them live when they’re in your neck of the woods.

Unfortunately, the Flickr slideshow below is not currently available on mobile devices. If you are on a mobile device, please click THIS LINK to get redirected to the set of photos.

The Janks | The Satellite | 11/15/13


New Years is around the corner, and I already have a band on my list to catch live in 2014. They’re called The Janks, and they’re pretty damn good live.


Fronted by the brothers Zmed (Zachary and Dylan), this band’s music touches on elements of blues, folk and classic rock. I wasn’t familiar with their music at all when I saw them take the stage at The Satellite, but their well-polished sound and their playfully confident stage presence pulled me in and kept my attention throughout, causing me to head over to the merch table after their set to by their album “Hands of Time”, which you – by the grace of the blogging gods – can check out for free in the embedded Soundcloud player below.

Their music is an eclectic kind of pop music. I’d even venture to to say that their music, at least the music I heard on “Hands of Time”, is reminiscent of the band Jellyfish (a band whose music I absolutely love, by the way) with more folk and blues sensibilities, but what do I know. They didn’t have their latest album, “Meet the Janks”, available for purchase at the gig, so that’s something I’ll need to pick up, but all I know is that I’ll be keeping an eye out for their next EP which they are currently recording, and catching them live the next time I get a chance.

Below is some video from their set, but do yourself a favor and check them out live. If you need a wingman, hit me up. I’m down.

Photos of the show are posted below, but if you want to see them as a large, higher quality  slideshow on FLICKR, click THIS LINK.

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