A Year of Concerts: 2014


Yusuf Islam / Cat Stevens | “Peace Train … Late Again” Tour | Nokia Theatre L.A. Live | 12/14/14 [Concert Review & Photos]

Yusuf Islam / Cat Stevens | “Peace Train … Late Again” Tour | Nokia Theatre L.A. Live | 12/14/14 [Setlist & Video Clips]

Jamestown Revival, Nikki Lane & Pete Molinari | The Troubadour | 11/30/14 [Concert Review]

Jamestown Revival | The Troubadour | 11/30/14 [Photos and Video]

Nikki Lane | The Troubadour | 11/30/14 [Photos and Video]

Pete Molinari | The Troubadour | 11/30/14 [Photos and Video] Continue reading

Nina Diaz | Alex’s Bar | 7/25/14 [PHOTOS]

One of my favorite female rock vocalists is Nina Diaz. Usually the front woman for the punk rock band Girl In A Coma, she’s decided to take a little hiatus from the band to record some music solo. The results are a set of music that is wrought with emotional expressions of melody that act as confessional. Continue reading

A Year of Concerts: 2013


Listed chronologically, the most recent show first.

Stevie Wonder | Songs In The Key Of Life | Nokia Theatre L.A. Live | 12/21/13

Shy Girls | The Spare Room and Bootleg Bar | 12/12/13 and 12/13/13

Snoopzilla and Dam Funk “7 Days Of Funk” Record Release Party | Los Angeles Exchange | 12/10/13

Thundercat | The Echoplex | 12/05/13

Moses Sumney | The Echoplex | 12/05/13

Pearl Jam | Los Angeles Sports Arena | Nov. 23-24, 2013

Ben Harper | Walt Disney Concert Hall | 11/18/13

The Record Company | The Satellite | 11/15/13

The Janks | The Satellite | 11/15/13

Nine Inch Nails | Staples Center | 11/08/13

Iron & Wine | The Orpheum Theatre | 10/31/13

Laura Mvula | The Orpheum Theatre | 10/31/13

Hiatus Kaiyote | Skirball Cultural Center | 10/30/13

Moses Sumney | Skirball Cultural Center | 10/30/13

Hanni El Khatib| El Rey Theatre| 10/25/13

Bass Drum of Death | El Rey Theatre | 10/25/13

Tijuana Panthers | El Rey Theatre| 10/25/13

The Secret State | Loaded Hollywood | 10/13/13

Filter Magazine’s Culture Collide 2013 | Echo Park | 11/10/13 – 11/11/13  (Wooster, Tiny Ruins, Maya Vik, Iza, Medicine, Jacco Gardner, Gemini Club and Great White Buffalo)

Fiona Apple and Blake Mills | Walt Disney Concert Hall | 10/7/13

Depeche Mode | Staples Center | 9/29/13

M83, Hollywood Bowl Orchestra and Phantogram | Hollywood Bowl | 9/22/13

The Beach Ball Festival: Soul Revue | Santa Monica Pier | September 21, 2013 (Myron & E, Lee Fields and the Expressions, Maceo Parker, Allen Stone and Aloe Blacc)

Laura Mvula | El Rey Theatre | 9/17/13


Lobster Festival | Port of Los Angeles | September 14, 2013 (The Section Quartet, Nightmare & The Cat, Deap Vally, Dead Sara)

Girl in a Coma | The Echoplex | September 12, 2013

Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue | Twilight Concert Series | August 29, 2013

The Dustbowl Revival | Twilight Concert Series | August 29, 2013

FYF FEST | L.A. State Historic Park | August 24 and 25, 2013 (Mikal Cronin, Charles Bradley, The Breeders, Devendra Banhart, The Locust, Deerhunter, TV on the Radio, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Orwells, Pional, How To Dress Well, No Age, !!! (ChkChkChk), Shlohmo, MGMT, Solange, and Holy Ghost!)

Poncho Sanchez and his Latin Jazz Band |Burton W. Chace Park | August 17, 2013

The National | Jimmy Kimmel Live | August 12, 2013

Hanni El Khatib | Twilight Concert Series | August 8, 2013

Hiatus Kaiyote | The Bootleg Theater | July 31, 2013

Geographer | Getty Center | July 27, 2013

Tijuana Tears | The Virgil | July 24, 2013

Savages | El Rey Theatre | July 23, 2013

Alabama Shakes | Hollywood Palladium | July 17th, 2013

Rodrigo y Gabriela | Hollywood Bowl | July 14, 2013

Young, Gifted & Nina: A Tribute to Nina Simone | California Plaza | July 5, 2013

BET Experience | R. Kelly, New Edition & The Jacksons | Staples Center | 6/30/13

BET Experience | Snoop, Kendrick Lamar & J.Cole | Staples Center | 6/29/13

BET Experience | Beyonce | Staples Center | 6/28/13

Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters | Shrine Auditorium | June 26th, 2013

Nina Diaz | Hotel Café | June 9th, 2013

Ink-N-Iron Festival | Queen Mary | June 8, 2013 (Girl in a Coma, Hopeless Jack & the Handsome Devil, Kaleigh Baker, The Fleshtones, Dead Kennedys and Iggy and the Stooges)

Illumination Road | The Roxy | June 4, 2013

Make Music Pasadena 2013 | June 1, 2013 (The Record Company, The Peach Kings, YACHT, Robert DeLong, Youngblood Hawke, Haunted Summer and The Likes of Us)

A Night For Jolie; A Night To Remember | Henson Recording Studios | May 31, 2013

Hanni El Khatib and The Black Angels | Mayan Theater | 5/21/13

What Made Milwaukee Famous | Central SAPC | 5/19/13

Dead Sara | El Rey Theater | May 9, 2013

New Build and No Ceremony/// | First Unitarian Church | April 27, 2013

Coachella 2013 | April 12-14 | Friday (Of Monsters and Men, Passion Pit, Palma Violets, Modest Mouse, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Jurassic 5, Stone Roses and How To Destroy Angels)

Coachella 2013 | April 12-14 | Saturday (Ben Howard, Pucifer, Violent Femmes, Grizzly Bear, Postal Service, Franz Ferdinand and Phoenix)

Coachella 2013 | April 12-14 | Sunday (Alex Clare, Rodriguez, Vampire Weekend, Nick Cave, Wu-Tang Clan and Red Hot Chili Peppers)

Toddchella | Part I | Tijuana Tears

Toddchella | Part II | The Record Company

Toddchella | Part III | We Were Indians

The Weeks | Three Clubs | 3/29/13

Nik Kai | 12 Year Old Guitar Prodigy | The Future of Shredding

The Night Hiatus Kaiyote Blew My Mind At The Del Monte Speakeasy 3/23/13

Jose James | The Del Monte Speakeasy | 3/13/13

Morrissey | Staples Center | 3/1/13

Orange Tulip Conspiracy |El Cid | 2/22/13

Soundgarden | The Wiltern | 2/16/13

The Robert Glasper Experiment | The Roxy | 2/8/13

Social Distortion | The House of Blues (Sunset) | 01/26/13


Girl in a Coma | The Echoplex | September 12, 2013

Girl in a Coma at the Echoplex.
Girl in a Coma at the Echoplex.

Girl In A Coma. I love this band. Since I first saw them featured on an episode of Last Call with Carson Daly back in November of 2011 , I’ve seen this San Antonio, TX based Indie Rock band, or their lead singer, perform live four times . This year I saw the group perform at the Ink-N-Iron Festival and their lead singer, Nina Diaz, perform a solo set at the Hotel Café the day after. Their performance at the Echoplex on September 12, 2013 makes the cumulative number of times I’ve seen them perform live five.

I got to the venue early enough to catch the girls hanging out and spent a few minutes chatting with Phanie (the drummer). She told me about the band’s plans to start recording tracks for their next album after they wrap up their current tour and our mutual, and random (she’s the only friend of mine on Facebook who “likes” them), interest in the indie rock band, Screaming Females.

There was a lot going on in Los Angeles on September 12, 2013 (ie. Pixies playing the El Rey, Dave Stewart & Friends at the Troubadour, Jimmy Cliff’s free concert on the Santa Monica Pier, and Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon playing in her new band Body/Head right upstairs in the Echo, etc.) but GIAC’s dedicated fans still showed up in numbers. I met up with another die-hard GIAC fan (who brought his daughter to the show) and he pointed out a fan who was in the military and was to ship out the next day to the middle east. GIAC’s fan loyalty has no bounds.

The girls rocked their set. Rather than go on in this entry about how awesome their performance was (which I’ve written about before here and here), just know that they deliver live, and if you are into their music, you will not be disappointed with their live show.

My autographed LP amongst the band's mercy.
My autographed LP amongst the band’s merchandise.

After they finished their set, I lingered a bit to get them to sign my 2013 Record Store Day, limited edition, blue vinyl copy of their first album “Both Before I’m Gone”. Apparently, I must have been the last person who left the venue since the valet mysteriously disappeared with my keys. While waiting for my keys, I waited outside while the girls were loading up their van. Being as cool as they are, and after I had retrieved my keys, they snapped a picture with me before I took off.

Girl in a Coma are performing throughout the west and midwest through November. Follow them on Facebook or Twitter to know when they are in your neck of the woods. In the meantime, you can check out the pictures and video highlights I took at the gig I went to. Unfortunately, from where I was standing I couldn’t get many decent shots of Jenn (bassist) or Phanie performing, but I doubt people are going to mind the excess number of pictures of Nina. Enjoy!

Setlist, as provided by the drummer, Phanie Diaz:

  1. Say
  2. One Eyed Fool
  3. Control
  4. Adjust
  5. Slaughter Ln
  6. Si Una Vez
  7. She Had A Plan
  8. Ven Cerca
  9. El Monte
  10. Sly
  11. Smart
  12. Little Red Riding Hood (cover of Sam The Sham & The Pharaohs version)
  13. Here is Now
  14. Invisible
  15. Encore: Their Cell (acoustic)
Girl In A Coma at the Echoplex 9/12/13
Girl In A Coma at the Echoplex 9/12/13
Girl In A Coma at the Echoplex 9/12/13
Girl in a Coma at the Echoplex 9/12/13.
Girl in a Coma at the Echoplex 9/12/13.
Nina Diaz of Girl in a Comat at the Echoplex 9/12/13
Nina Diaz of Girl in a Comat at the Echoplex 9/12/13
Nina Diaz of Girl In A Coma at the Echoplex 9/12/13
Nina Diaz of Girl In A Coma at the Echoplex 9/12/13
Jenn Alva of Girl In A Coma at the Echoplex 9/12/13
Jenn Alva of Girl In A Coma at the Echoplex 9/12/13
Nina and Phanie Diaz of Girl In A Coma at the Echoplex 9/12/13
Nina and Phanie Diaz of Girl In A Coma at the Echoplex 9/12/13
Nina Diaz of Girl in a Coma at the Echoplex 9/12/13.
Nina Diaz of Girl in a Coma at the Echoplex 9/12/13.
Nina Diaz of Girl in a Coma at the Echoplex 9/12/13.
Nina Diaz of Girl in a Coma at the Echoplex 9/12/13.
Jenn Alva Girl In A Coma hanging with fans after their at the Echoplex 9/12/13
Jenn Alva Girl In A Coma hanging with fans after their at the Echoplex 9/12/13
Phanie Diaz of Girl In A Coma autographing a fan's LP (FYI, this fan used to drum for the Beastie Boys back in the day) after their at the Echoplex 9/12/13
Phanie Diaz of Girl In A Coma autographing a fan’s LP (FYI, this fan used to drum for the Beastie Boys back in the day) after their at the Echoplex 9/12/13
Me and the gals of Girl in a Coma after their set at the Echoplex 9/12/13
Me and the gals of Girl in a Coma after their set at the Echoplex 9/12/13

Nina Diaz | Hotel Café | June 9th, 2013

IMG_3511I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from Nina Diaz’s solo gig at Hotel Café.  I’ve been a fan of the band that she fronts, Girl In A Coma , for several years now and having seen them perform live three times (including the day before at the Ink-N-Iron Festival , I guess I kind of assumed that she would be doing acoustic covers of their recordings from the past four albums. It wasn’t that.  It was so much better.

Before delving into her set, let me first get this out of the way: I’m in love with Nina’s voice. She is a tour de force. She can sing with sultry inflection or belt out punk choruses, and she does it with what seems to be the greatest of ease. I’m a grown ass man, but I’ll have to admit, after listening to songs like “Adjust”, “Smart” and “So” off of Girl In Coma’s album “Exits and All the Rest” , I fell in love with Nina’s voice like I did back in middle school when I heard Mariah Carey’s “Vision of Love” and “I Don’t Wanna Cry”. It’s comparing apple to oranges- their vocal styles are completely different- but I think that you get the picture.

Autographed poster. I had two pens. You’ll notice that she signed it with both. LOL.

Nina’s set consisted of material that I’d never heard before. With just her voice, her guitar and a set of loop-pedals, she delivered a powerfully emotional set that really was something truly breathtaking to behold. Through her new songs, it felt as if she was telling the sold-out audience of 140 patrons about what she had been going through in her life. Yes, the songs were heavy- delivered with either pent up, fierce fury, or gentle, thoughtful, longing- but Nina engaged the audience in between her songs with playful banter to relieve any tensions her lyrics may have imparted.

Before the third song, she dedicated it to the Spurs, and wanted us to imagine the Spurs wearing nothing but spurs.  After another song, she explained that song and the lyrics “Do you really love me the way you say you do?” is actually about Karma… a very nice prostitute who’ll give you everything you deserve. She even made some lighthearted confessions about the music she had written, admitting when she used the same chord progressions on two separate songs.

But there is no getting around the heaviness of music. She wrote a song about those who go through bad stuff in life and keep it all in.  She wrote an empowerment song about not knowing what kind of person you truly are until you go through a bad break up (“Fall In Love”). She wrote another song that I think she called a “wedding singer song” about her ex- who she made a subtle jab at by calling him a dick … okay, maybe not that subtle- that had the defiant lyrics, “One last kiss, one that you’ll never miss […] all he seems to care about is friends, fame, name [.]”

Perhaps the most heartbreaking song she sang was the song she dedicated to her father, “Mortician’s Musician” (in case you didn’t know, or couldn’t tell, her father is a mortician). I had shivers run down my spine, and goose bumps pop up on my arm, when she sang the lyrics, “I’m not a fool for writing songs, I’m a fool for trying to get you to sing along.” <sob> I desperately want to hear that song again.

She closed her set with a cover of the INXS song “Never Tear Us Apart”- very apropos- but the audience wouldn’t let her leave the stage that easily. She agreed to sing one more song, and advised the audience that she hadn’t planned on singing a Girl In A Coma song, but ended up performing “El Monte” to close out the evening.

Afterwards, I met up with a friend I had invited to the show. The first thing she said to me was that it was the first time, in a long time, that a singer has ever made her laugh and cry at a concert. It went without saying. We experienced something magical that night.

I grabbed the set list from the stage, and went to the merchandise booth to say, “Hi,” to Phanie (drums for Girl in a Coma) and Jenn (bass for Girl In A Coma). I waited for Nina and got her to autograph the set list and the poster that I had ganked from the wall (just so you don’t think I’m a clepto, I asked the bouncer if I could first!). I chatted with some of her friends while her fans greeted her. Sneaking in during a lull, I bid my adieu and head off.

Clockwise, upper left: Me and Nina, Nina and the autographed set-list (again, signed with both pens. hehehe).

On the 45-minute drive home, I tried to put into context what I had experienced. I’ve been to a lot of amazing shows this year, but this one was different. I got emotionally involved at this show.  And as cheese-ball as it may sound, with Nina sharing bits and pieces of her life, I had become emotionally invested in Nina’s story. In the intimate, dimly-lit venue, for the first time, I felt her frustrations, pain, heartache, longing, revival, strength … the gamut of emotions cover the spectrum. The fact that she performed alone on stage also added a certain gravitas and intimacy with her outpouring of personal history. It almost felt like she was confiding in us.

I plugged my phone into the car stereo and began playing the video clips I had taken. When the clip of “For You” started playing I started thinking of Jeff Buckley’s “Live in Sin-e” recordings. When you get me thinking about one my all-time favorite recordings, you’ve left an impression. Nina left an impression. Whether these new songs are recorded with Girl In A Coma, or whether she puts it out as solo material, people need to hear this music. If Nina ever has a solo gig in your neighborhood, you’d be a fool not to go. Puro heart. Puro rock and roll.

Below, I’ve included several snippets from the show. My only regret is that I wish I had taken more footage.

UPDATE: 11/14/13: God bless the soul who recorded Nina’s entire set and posted it to Youtube.  Now you can watch her amazing solo gig in its entirety.