Cinquanta: Celebrating 50 Years Of Maynard James Keenan | Failure, A Perfect Circle & Puscifer | Greek Theatre | 5/10/14


I won’t front. Back when I was freshman in high school, I wasn’t into Tool. The rock music that I was into at the time was more along the lines of Depeche Mode (who released “Violator”), Nine Inch Nail (who released “Head Like A Hole”) and INXS (who released “X”). I was a narrow minded, music snob then (which I truly regret), and I wasn’t willing to open my mind to other bands’ music.

It wasn’t until I had graduated from college that I really took the time to listen to what Maynard James Keenan’s music had to offer, and it was the first album from his second band, A Perfect Circle, that got me hooked. With “Mer de Noms”, songs like “Judith” and “3 Libras” sent shivers down my spine. I was a fool to have waited so long to discover that Maynard was a monster, rock vocalist. Not only able to belt out tunes like it’s nothing, he also adds a level of emotions to the underlying lyrics he sings, which sets him apart from other rock vocalists.

I first saw Maynard perform at Coachella in 2013 with his band Puscifer. Though the music was different from A Perfect Circle, I thought that it was one of the highlight performances of the day. It was fun, sexy and raunchy all at the same time. I still have the Puscifer Airlines candy that they threw out to the crowd from that day.

Cinquanta, a two night celebration of his 50th birthday at the Greek Theatre, was a ticket that any Maynard fan couldn’t pass up. Billed as a concert with Puscifer as a headliner with A Perfect Circle and Failure (who had reunited in late 2013 and acted as Tool’s supporting act for Tool’s recent tour) as “support”. But each band rotated sets  every 15-30 minutes, even collaborating with each other on certain songs, throughout the evening. Green Jelly (a band that Danny Carey- the drummer of Tool- and Maynard were members of) made a surprise appearance to perform “Three Little Pigs”Neil Hamburger made an appearance to sing “New York, New York”, and 3/4 of Tool (minus Adam Jones) performed the Tool classic “Sober”. Personally, I thought one of the out-of-the-box highlights of the show was when Carina Round sang the lead on “The Package”; a superb rendition.

Based on my notes, and what I was able to find online, below was the setlist:

  1. Failure: “The Nurse Who Loved Me” (w/ Maynard James Keenan, Billy Howerdel and Carina Round)
  2. Failure: “Saturday Savior”
  3. Failure: “Dirty Blue Balloons”
  4. A Perfect Circle: “Weak and Powerless”
  5. A Perfect Circle: “Orestes”
  6. A Perfect Circle: “The Noose”
  7. Puscifer: “Vagina Mine”
  8. Puscifer: “Trekka”
  9. Puscifer: “Polar Bear”
  10. Puscifer: “Breathe”
  11. Puscifer: “Oceans”
  12. Puscifer: “Monsoons” (w/ Billy Howerdel)
  13. Puscifer: “Horizons”
  14. Failure: “Another Space Song”
  15. Failure: “Frogs”
  16. Failure: “Solaris” (w/ Maynard James Keenan)
  17. A Perfect Circle: “The Hollow”
  18. A Perfect Circle: “Rose”
  19. A Perfect Circle: “The Package” (featuring Carina Round)
  20. Puscifer: “Conditions of My Parole”
  21. Puscifer: “Man Overboard”
  22. Puscifer: “The Undertaker” (w/ Ken Andrews)
  23. A Perfect Circle: “Counting Bodies Like Sheep To The Rhythm
  24. A Perfect Circle: “3 Libras”
  25. A Perfect Circle: “By and Down”
  26. Failure: “Blank”
  27. Failure: “Wet Gravity” (w/ Jeff Friedl)
  28. Failure: “Heliotropic”
  29. Puscifer: “New York, New York” (w/ Neil Hamberger)
  30. Puscifer: “Cuntry Boner” (An Electric Sheep cover w/ “Hildy” and Danny Carey)
  31. Puscifer: “3 Little Pigs” (w/ Green Jelly and Danny Carey)
  32. Puscifer: “Sober” (Tool cover w/ Justin Chancellor, Danny Carey and , and Zac Rae)
  33. Puscifer: “Humbling River” (w/ Danny Carey)

Wow.  Just looking at this setlist is making think that the $40 I spent on the ticket was definitely money well spent. Even if a song or two may not have been to one’s liking, the action on  stage, with the casual stage setting of lawn chairs and constant filling of chalices (presumably filled with adult beverages) gave the audience something to watch  as there was something going on onstage at all times, whether it was Maynard pouring drinks for others, performers taking selfies onstage, or individuals having private conversations in front of everybody, it was a concert that truly felt like a party. And when the audience sang along? The hairs on my arms stiffened. When they closed with “Humbling River”? I got shivers.

It was an amazing show. I don’t know what else to say. Happy Birthday, Maynard. You did it right. Simply kick-ass.

I wasn’t able to get permission to shoot the show, so all of the photos below were on my Sony Cyber-shot G, point and shoot that I couldn’t live without.


Allen Stone | The Echo | 2/20/14


When I first started this blog in January 2013, one of the first blog entries I put up was a list of my favorite concerts of 2012. Breaking the Top 10 was Allen Stone’s performance at the Fonda Theatre, Friday, October 19th, 2012. I only wrote a couple of sentences about the performance (below … which I should have proofread), but being an avid fan of soul and R&B music, I was particularly impressed.

Screen Shot 2014-03-03 at 5.25.18 PM

His performance at The Fonda made me an instant fan, so much so that I reviewed his first album “Last To Speak”, tried (but missed) his set at Coachella, and bought VIP tickets to see him perform at The Beach Ball Festival: Soul Revue, even hanging out with him and his manager afterwards at my favorite bar in Santa Monica. When I heard that he had a gig scheduled at The Echo (a venue, ironically enough, that I hadn’t seen a show in), I snapped a ticket up immediately. Knowing that he was currently writing and recording music for his next album, I anticipated a mix of both old and new songs.

When I arrived at the venue, there was a line at least 30 people deep. Knowing that the event had sold out, I asked the bouncer whether I had to wait in line if my ticket was at will call. He indicated that the people waiting in line were waiting to see if any extra tickets would become available. I was glad that I got my ticket way in advance.

As soon as I stepped into the 350 person capacity venue, I felt a warmth overcome me. Yeah, it was packed, and I kinda felt sorry for anybody hoping to score a ticket last minute. I became somewhat resigned insofar as I knew that I got there a little too late to find and stake out a good vantage point to take pictures, but I did what I could.

An as aside, and a concert going tip, at The Echo there  isn’t any reserved seating. The booths that line the walls are first come, first served. As I was walking through the venue during Allen’s set, I noticed there was space between an older man and his wife at a booth. In between songs, I kindly asked if I could stand there for a song or two to take some picture, and he pointed his finger at me saying that I was blocking his wife’s view, and that the section was “reserved” for him. After the show, on my way out, I asked the the employees working the ticket office about “reserved seating”, and they told me that there was no such thing at The Echo. Even old people are mean.

That little rude blip didn’t get me down though. How could it when the music was so good? His setlist was a mix of tracks from his first album (“Figured It Out”), self titled album (“What I’ve Seen”, “Unaware”, “Contact High” and an acoustic version of “Satisfaction”), covers (Tingsek’s “Six Years”, Chaka Khan’s “Tell Me Something Good” and Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used To Know”) and newly written material (“Momma Gonna Punish You”, “Million” and “Voodoo”).

He sang the Gotye cover for his encore, and I must say that his vocal rendition, and arrangement, of it blew my mind. For a song that has been covered by everyone and their mom, he breathed a new life into it. His voice forceful, and longing, it was a performance that gave me chills, making me fall in love with a song that, truthfully, I never cared for.

The only thing that would have topped the Gotye cover would have been if Allen Stone performed the song that got me interested in his music and sound in the first place: “Another Break Up Song”.  That didn’t happen, but I ain’t complaining.

After the gig, I bumped into a mutual friend who writes for the Los Angeles Times. He was with Allen’s publicist and I exchanged some pleasantries adding that I was happy to hear that Allen would be playing at the Playboy Jazz Festival this year. I didn’t tell her that I actually predicted that he would be performing at the Hollywood Bowl, but I did tell her that I’d buy a ticket for the day Allen performs if he puts “Another Break Up Song” on the setlist. I wonder if my mutual friend can find out if that song gets put on the setlist … hmm ….

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.

Terrace Martin, Robert Glasper & Friends | Del Monte Speakeasy | 2/16/14


Earlier this month, I read a great article on LA Weekly’s website about the resurgence of jazz music in Los Angeles. It was a terrific article that opened my eyes to new venues and music to keep an eye on in the Los Angeles area (I’m definitely going to check out The Piano Bar when the West Coast Get Down are playing and pick up a copy of Kamasi Washington’s “The Epic” once it’s released). But even without reading the article, I’d already been trying to learn more about the Los Angeles Jazz scene, and my conduit had been Terrace Martin.

In honor of Black History Month, Terrace decided to gather a few friends to join him at the Del Monte Speakeasy to celebrate the music of some of the great, black musicians/composers. The musicians who turned up to share the stage with Terrace were, to put it simply, legend … wait for it … ary.

Ethan “Ebassman” FarmerRonald BrunerMarlon Williams and Robert Glasper formed the “house band” and throughout the night others jumped on stage to jam. Malcolm-Jamal Warner, who is a very talented spoken word artist, and Myka 9, a member of Freestyle Fellowship (whose album “Innercity Griots” is still, in my humble opinion, one of the greatest, and the first, jazz infused hip-hop albums ever produced) free-styled a song. Kamasi Washington, who Terrace acknowledged was one of the main reasons why Jazz was alive in Los Angeles, joined for a song. Grammy nominated jazz saxophonist, Ben Wendel, and the incomparable, modern day drumming legend Chris Dave stepped onto the stage to play.

I’m not going to wax poetic about the musicality of each of the players, and the amazing music that I witnessed that evening (you can see and hear it in the video highlights below), but I will say the experience that night was something special.

Being up at the front of the stage for the gig, I could overhear the playful banter and ribbing among the players that made the performance that much more engaging. Ron and Robert kept going at each other about their Grammy wins, with Ron jokingly telling Robert that he was going to make him sound better. After Marlon played a quick lick of a theme from “What You Won’t Do For Love”, Terrace and Robert goaded him, albeit reluctantly, into the spotlight for a solo moment to demonstrate his playing chops. While praising his sound man, Terrace honestly told the audience the band hadn’t sound checked earlier in the evening because they were eating, drinking and watching the NBA all-star game. Ron Bruner stepped up to the mic to freestyle sing, after which he told Robert, “See, I told you I’d make you sound better.”. The lighthearted atmosphere of the session kept the evening fresh. When other musicians took over the reigns on certain instruments, or took breaks, they stepped into the crowd with a drink to watch the magic that was happening on stage as well.

With extraordinarily skilled musicians taking turns to play on themes throughout the evening, I imagined that the atmosphere that night was something like the New York jazz scene  during World War II where and when legends like Ben Webster, Lester Young, Thelonious MonkCharlie Parker, and Dizzy Gillespie outdid each other on a nightly basis. In the packed and humid venue, with music swirling and dancing in my ears, I lost myself to the genius that was present and playing in the room. A terrific evening of music with an incredible, and practically unbelievable, roster of talent. Something that I wish happened more often. Especially in Los Angeles.

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.

Morning Parade | El Rey Theatre | 2/14/14


Opening for Biffy Clyro at the El Rey was Morning Parade, a five-piece, alternative rock band from Harlow, Essex. I hadn’t heard of the band before, so my opinion of them is based solely on their performance that evening.

They were good. But for a band from overseas trying to leave its mark on a new audience in the States, is “good” good enough?

Don’t get me wrong, their music wasn’t bad. In fact, all of their songs seemed very radio friendly. The problem for me, though, was that no one song particularly stood out. I always keep an open mind when listening to a band for the first time. I want to hear new music that I can’t stop thinking about. In my opening, the music was good; it just wasn’t memorable.

And their performance wasn’t bad. Clearly, the band is a well-oiled machine and the songs were played with the type of expertise you’d expect a seasoned band to play with. It is a definitely a big, clean sound that has potential. The lead vocalist’s did an admirable job, and his voice was solid. During the set, I thought to myself that his voice was a bit of a mix of Ben Gibbard (of Death Cab For Cutie), John Rzeznik (of Goo Goo Dolls) and Tom Chaplin (of Keane).

But therein lies the problem. I shouldn’t have been thinking about who the lead singer sounded like. I should have been engrossed in his performance, and/or the music, and unfortunately, I was neither. Truth be told, I was more entertained by the bass player’s energy than the voice of the group.

Maybe I was expecting too much considering that they were opening for a band that is known to have an epic live show. Perhaps, since they are a relatively new band, they just didn’t have the repertoire to pull from, having only release one full length album, and a couple of EPs. I’ll admit that it was, altogether, a good set. But if you’re trying to make new fans, especially of people who aren’t familiar with the music, is “good” good enough?

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.

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


I remember the day I first heard Laura Mvula sing (January 18th, 2013) because I was so amazed by what I heard that I immediately posted a blog entry about it. I kept an eye (and ear) on her music and would post additional blog entries about some of her other songs (“That’s Alright” and “Jump Right Out”) because I was enthralled with her sound and excited about her debut album “Sing To The Moon”.

Laura Mvula’s music cannot be easily classified, as it is a sound that frankly defies stylistic categorization. As proffers, Laura’s music is “rooted in decades-old forms of gospel, jazz, R&B, and, most deeply, orchestral pop . Almost all of the material is as serious and as refined as it is majestic, with vocal showcases and hushed-belted-hushed-belted dynamics galore.” I agree with the assessment, and would even boil it down simply as classy and sophisticated, orchestral neo-soul music. Some seriously good, grown folk sounds for those who appreciate musicality and message in their music.

I was ecstatic when I found out that Laura was scheduled to perform April 16, 2013 at the Bootleg Theater, and I immediately snapped up tickets. As fate would have it, however, I was asked to speak at my Alma Mater that same week, and to my dismay, I had to give my tickets up. As a small consolation, I received my copy of Laura’s debut on vinyl (a UK export that has an amazing recording of Stevie Wonder’s “Something Out of The Blue”) and for the next few months listened to it whenever I needed to set my mind and soul at ease.

I received a notice (thank you social media!) that Laura was to do another round of touring in the United States with a stop in Los Angeles September 17th, and I agains purchased tickets to her show. This time, though, I made sure I had no conflicting appointments.

Laura’s show was simply amazing. Me and my friends were able to get up to the very front of the venue for the performance, and as fate would have it, Laura’s keyboard was basically in front of us, and thus we were privileged to have Laura performing no more than 5 yards from us for a majority of the show. I could see her every breath and read the emotions on her face with every lyric. It was a beautiful experience. A moving experience. During the most tender part of the concert, when Laura sang “Diamonds” and “Father, Father” back to back, you could feel the audience release a collective sigh following the last note of “Father, Father”. I did not have to look around to know that there were some  in the audience tearing up because … truth be told … I was busy dabbing the corners of my eye as well.

My anticipation for new music from her is at an all time high. My commitment to see her perform live again has been verified. An amazing concert by an amazing artist. Her performance at the El Rey has a spot in my top 10 concert performances of the year. Nuff’ said.


  1. Like The Morning Dew
  2. Let Me Fall (not in the album)
  3. Flying Without You
  4. She
  5. Is There Anybody Out There?/ One Love (Bob Marley& The Wailers cover)
  6. Sing to the Moon
  7. Diamonds
  8. Father, Father
  9. Green Garden
  10. That’s Alright
  11. Make Me Lovely (Encore)
Laura Mvula at the El Rey Theatre 9/17/13
Laura Mvula at the El Rey Theatre 9/17/13
Laura Mvula at the El Rey Theatre 9/17/13
Laura Mvula at the El Rey Theatre 9/17/13
Laura Mvula at the El Rey Theatre 9/17/13
Laura Mvula at the El Rey Theatre 9/17/13
Laura Mvula at the El Rey Theatre 9/17/13
Laura Mvula at the El Rey Theatre 9/17/13
Laura Mvula at the El Rey Theatre 9/17/13
Laura Mvula at the El Rey Theatre 9/17/13

Tijuana Tears | The Virgil | July 24, 2013


The first time I heard Tijuana Tears play, it was at a ridiculously awesome house party at Frank Sinatra’s old mansion (Toddchella). What I remember most from their set that night was that their original songs were solid. For any recording artist, it’s the songs that matter most. Style and talent can get you far, but if the material you’re performing isn’t any good … well … then you’re career is going to be pretty short. These guys had some original songs that I really got into. If I’ve never heard the song before, and I’m singing the hook half way through “Phantasmic Consciousness”, I’m pretty sure that song is a keeper.


I finally got a chance to see them again live at a venue in Silver Lake called The Virgil. By the time I walked into the venue, I noticed a small group already crowded around the merchandise table to buy the band’s newest screen-print t-shirt. The band before them was still playing and I walked around the venue to check out the digs. I bumped into a couple of the guys in the band, and they genuinely thanked me for coming out to see them play. Very appreciative. Very humble. Reza noticed the music pins on lapel of my concert backpack, and ran over to the merchandise booth to grab me one. Although I had only hung out with them once before, their kindness went a long way to make me feel like family.


The guys took to the small stage and started their set off with a new song that I hadn’t heard before, and continued to rock through songs from the 5 song EP they released in 2012, which you can download from their bandcamp site by naming your own price:

They played all of the songs that I remember them playing from that raucous evening months ago, and I still enjoyed each song, and the way they performed, as much I did then. This time sober. They filled the room with an infectious energy, and while looking around between songs, all I could was smiles. And if the audience wasn’t smiling, they were singing along. After the set, Matt M. (the guitarist) shot me a text with the set list. The first song of their set was, at the time, untitled, but after checking out some other clips online, it seems they’ve titled it “The Narrows”. The setlist texted is below:


They have a gig coming up at The Satellite Monday, August 12th 2013. If you happen to be in Los Angeles that evening, and you like what you see/hear in the video link below, I highly recommend that you see these guys play. If you’re busy that night, you should go ahead and check out their website ( to find the links to follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Soundcloud and catch them at a small venue before they’re playing bigger ones.

Alabama Shakes | Hollywood Palladium | July 17th, 2013


What is it with me and female fronted bands these day? It seems that I just can’t seem to get enough of them. On July 17th, 2013, I went to the Hollywood Palladium to check out the Athens, Alabama-based quartet Alabama Shakes. I can’t pinpoint the time I first heard their music, but I remember that the song I first heard was “Hold On”. It was a Southern rock/blues tune that sounded modern enough for today’s radio, but also seemed rooted in classic 60-70s soul as well. But stylistic impressions aside, it was the lead singer’s voice that pierced through the music and into my psyche. I bought their debut album, “Boys & Girls” sometime August or September 2012 (I remember this because I bought their album the same time I bought The Heavy’s “The Glorious Dead” which came out around then).

I pressed play on “Boys & Girls”  in my car, it kept playing the rest of the day while I drove around town running my errands. For a debut album, I was smitten with their sound, and definitely one of the better albums I had bought in 2012. After watching Brittany Howard perform a tribute to Levon Helm with with an all-start cast (including Elton John, Mavis Staples, Zac Brown, Mumford & Sons, etc), and Ms. Howard showing EVERYBODY up,  Alabama Shakes quickly became a band that I put down on my list as “must see live”. Fast forward to 3:30 of the video below to see what I’m talking about. 

IMG_2194I met up with some friends,and after giving each of them their ticket, we head inside inside the venue. While my friends got some drinks, I walked over to the merchandise booth to purchase a special poster that band had printed for their two gigs at the Palladium.  A limited edition, signed by the artist, and numbered (167/200) poster that’s going to find a nice spot somewhere in my crib once it’s been properly framed. It’s probably one of the cooler posters I’ve purchased this year.

We had just missed the first of the two opening bands perform and we floated about in the venue to find decent spot to watch the next band, Fly Golden Eagle, take the stage.  As my friends and I were meandering the GA area to find a spot to stand, I noticed someone very familiar looking around for a place to watch as well. Holy, shnykies. It was Brittany Howard. I’m a total photo slut when it comes to snapping pictures with musicians I’m into, and having done this on several occasions before, my body seem to go in to autopilot.

DSC02045As I handed my camera off to a friend, I whispered to Brittany that I was huge fan, and whether I could snap a quick picture. She looked hesitant, and I assured her that I would keep it on the “down-low”. My friend snapped the picture, and the flash went off. So much for on the “down-low”. I could tell that Ms. Howard reluctantly took the picture (I think her biting her lip kind of tips it off), so I apologized, thanked her and told her to “break a leg” … but I still got a picture! Woohoo! It also goes to show how awesome Brittany Howard is for wanting to support her fellow musicians by actually hanging out in the General Admittance area to watch the other bands play just like all of the other concert-goers in attendance.

Having blown her cover, Ms. Howard and her friend scurried away to blend back into the crowd. Fly Golden Eagle started playing and I think most everybody else was focused on the stage. I didn’t notice others swarming around her for photos, so I think that I kept it on the “down-low” as much as I could.


Fly Golden Eagles set was solid. A band based out of Nashville, their music seems to touch upon classic-rock and psychedelic vibes.  The lead singer’s vocal delivery had a friend of mine comment that he had a Dylan-ish sound (translation: sounded kinda like Bob Dylan).  I agreed. I liked the band, and I’ve checkout some of their older music and they are a solid “add” on facebook. 


The only part of the show that I could have done without was the wait between sets. Wanting to get up as close as I could to see the Alabama Shakes do their thing, I thought that I’d be able to float closer up front after Fly Golden Eagle closed their set. Nothing doing. It appeared that everybody wanted to be up close to the Shakes, and people were guarding their space, not moving a square inch, for the 40 minutes between sets. C’est la vie. If you are a fan, and you want to see YOUR band up close and personal, you’ll stay in the same spot for as long as it takes. Kudos to those staked their territory.

The Alabama Shakes took to the stage, and amazed. Their set list was as follows:

  1. Rise
  2. Hang Loose
  3. Hold On
  4. Always Alright
  5. I Found You
  6. Heartbreaker
  7. Boys & Girls
  8. Be Mine
  9. I Ain’t The Same
  10. Worryin Blues
  11. Mama
  12. Itch
  13. On Your Way
  14. Gimme All Your Love
  15. You Ain’t Alone


  1. Gospel
  2. Heat Lightnin’
  3. Heavy Chevy

The band is a well-oiled machine, and can jam with the best of them, but this band is Howard’s. At 24 years old, her voice is way more mature than her years, with every word sung from her mouth coming from something deep inside her soul. I don’t know about her past, but it certainly felt like she was singing from place of entrenched memories, whether painful, angry or joyful. Her performance is one that makes concert goers feel like they are there in the here and now, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the venue lost money on drinks during their set because you would have been a fool to stop watching.


Sometime during the set she bantered with the audience for a minute and concluded by stating, “You got to give a little to get a little.” Brittany and the band gave us their souls, and we gave them our fan loyalty. I think that’s a fair trade. 

Rodrigo y Gabriela | Hollywood Bowl | July 14, 2013


Most of the time, my lust to see a band perform live is satiated once it happens.  After all, the costs of concert going these days can get quite expensive, and I typically like to use my hard earned cash experiencing something new, rather than retread the same territory. There are a handful of acts that I’ve seen perform live, however, that I would gladly pay what I could afford to see perform. One of those acts is Rodrigo y Gabriela .

On July 14, 2013, I went to see them for the third time; the second time at the Hollywood Bowl– one of the best concert going venues in Los Angeles. The other time I saw them perform was at the Orpheum Theatre.  And for the third time, they blew me away. It was another KCRW sponsored concert event.

My friends and I boarded the Hollywood Bowl shuttle from Westwood, prepared with our evening picnic essentials (sandwiches, wines, cheese, crackers, etc) and settled into out seats adjacent to the box seats.  The angle and view was terrific, and I couldn’t have asked for a better location.


The first act of the evening was a band Lord Huron, an American indie folk band based in Los Angeles. Lord Huron began as a solo project by Ben Schneider in the spring of 2010, and they have released several EPs and a full-length album since. Their sound was a perfect starter as the sun set into the hill behind us. Their music seemed to be a folksier and more mellow version of Local Natives and the audience seemed to appreciate the sounds as they dined on their picnic foods and sipped wine from their plastic cups.


The second act was a band that I had just started to listen to name Devotchka. A quartet formed and based out of Denver, CO, their music was exotic and impassioned. Backed by a sting ensemble, their gypsy-tinged melodies added a certain flavor to the evening.  Almost like setting the stage for the exotic. The lead vocalist, Nick Urata had a certain swagger to his performance that made me think his musical personal was a cross between Andrew Bird and Morrissey. Free and light, like Andrew Bird at times, and deep and emotive like Morrissey at others. His suit and hair styling also may have influenced my first impression of him, but I digress.

Devotchaka’s style of music covered a wide gamut of styles, hinting at elements rock, folk, cabaret, eastern European, etc. It was an exotic set of sounds and music that proved to me that KRCW certainly knows how to put a concert bill together, as Devotchka seemed like a very appropriate appetizer for the main course. 


The last time I saw Rodrigo y Gabriela at the Hollywood Bowl, they performed backed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra. Was I worried that they wouldn’t be able to fill out the sound of the Hollywood Bowl without the orchestral accompaniment? Not at all. In fact, they duet performance (altered as a trio with a keyboard for only several selections) showcased their unbelievable talent on the acoustic guitars.  On exhibit that evening, the audience saw their raw virtuosity and dexterousness around the strings of their guitars.

For me, there is something special about Rodrigo y Gabriela that makes them a band that I’ll always want to go see when they are in town. Their music, like Devotchka’s, is fusion of styles that are put together so masterfully, one can’t help by call it art.  Rodrgio y Gabriela are unlike any other band I can think of that mixes elements of metal, jazz, flamenco and psychedila so effortlessly. It’s music that appeals to such a wide audience.

Watching them perform is also treat.  One become mesmerized by they way they perform.  They perform with such intensity and such joy, that it’s hard not be transfixed in their motions. I would have loved to dance around to the music, but personally, I just want to watch them perform.

I wanted to watch Rodrigo take his rock-star, stride stance as he plucked away at the strings, nodding his heads like a metronome to the rhythm.  I wanted to watch Gabriela’s hands and fingers move about her guitar like spiders hopped up on speed, all while dancing and bouncing about on stage. Even on acoustic guitars, their performance had such aggressive feel; it reminded me of some heavy metal shows I’ve attended.  At the same time, the sounds that emanated from their instruments were the sublime of the sublime.

And how can one not be hypnotized at the dizzying speed at which they play? To me, it simply amazing that that music … that much sound … comes out of four hands.

When I go to concerts, I want to be amazed. If you amaze me beyond comprehension, I’ll go see you every time you’re in town. This is why I went to see Rodrigo y Gabriela perform for a third time, and that is why I’ll keep seeing them perform live whenever given the chance.


Oh … and I love Gabriela. Just saying…