Category Archives: Show Reviews

In Dying Arms at Cobalt Cafe

idapic3In Dying Arms, Darkness Divided, Trapped In The Past, Cobalt Café, September 21, 2014

TwoHearts Concerts has been consistently bringing some of the best shows to the venerable Cobalt Cafe in the San Fernando Valley, including the return of In Dying Arms on The Lives On Display Tour. This would be a massively memorable night, which would include In Dying Arms’ charismatic vocalist Orion Stephens making a surprise guest appearance earlier in the evening. An exciting collection of local and touring acts were present – here were three of the bands we covered on the night of September 21st in the wilds of Canoga Park…

Trapped In The Past

TrappedInThePast1The local act to go on right before the touring package was Trapped In The Past, whose sheer deathcore intensity really grabbed you by throat. I’ve seen a few of the members in other past local projects, and Trapped In The Past is definitely a solid entity they should continue to pursue. Songs such as Contemporary Fallacy and Blue Pants Are Officially Banned definitely left a lasting impression. In addition to their own combustible songs, Trapped In The Past covered Sloppy Seconds by In Dying Arms  – and IDA’s front man Orion Stephens joined them onstage for a grand finale that was nothing short of explosive. Trapped In The Past previously covered the IDA song at The Whisky, and the combination of Trapped’s front man Matt Reyes and IDA’s Orion Stephens was exhilarating. The talented Trapped In The Past lineup consists of Matt Reyes on vocals, Noah Martynstien on drums, Joseph Pineda on guitars, Nick Mendoza on guitars, and Bryant Mendez on bass. Expect Trapped In The Past to break out of Sylmar with intense performances like what they presented at the Cobalt Café.

Set List:
1. Uprising (Intro)
2. Contemporary Fallacy
3. Blue Pants Are Officially Banned
4. Such Things Happen
5. New Era Crumbled Down
6. Time Signature
7. Sloppy Seconds (In Dying Arms’ cover)

Darkness Divided

darknessdivided3Raging of out San Antonio, Texas, Darkness Divided made their way into the Southland and unleashed a riveting performance – surely making a whole new collection of fans and friends at the Cobalt Café. A recent Victory Records signing whose debut album Written In Blood has been garnering a good deal of attention, Darkness Divided delivered the goods in a big and glorious way. On the Christian metal side of the spectrum, there is no denying the passion and conviction Darkness Divided has to offer in a live setting. Highlights from their short yet persuasive set included A Well Run Dry, The Shepherds Hands, and The Hands That Bled. Included within the ranks of the Darkness Divided membership are Gerard Mora on vocals, Sebastian Elizondo on guitar and vocals, Christopher Mora on guitar and vocals, and Joseph Mora on bass. Judging by what was witnessed at the Cobalt Café, there is little doubt we’ll be hearing a lot more from the impassioned Darkness Divided in the months ahead. Fans of For Today and Haste The Day must make time out of “their day” and immediately check into the enlightening refrains of Darkness Divided!

Set List:
Eternal Thirst
A Well Run Dry
The Shepherds Hands
The Will Of Man
The Hands That Bled
Remnants

In Dying Arms

indyingarmscobalt3In Dying Arms is one of the most vastly underrated bands on the planet. Their debut for Artery Recordings entitled Boundaries is a stunning, wildly intense deathcore magnum opus that was a staggering assault to the senses. And the Baltimore, MD know how to bring their fiery songs to life with an all-out vengeance, presenting an in-your-face live performance that blew the walls out of the Cobalt Café. Opening with the punishing reveries of Famous Last Words, In Dying Arms sent the entire room into a heated frenzy. The sonic devastation kept emitting relentlessly from the stage, courtesy of Orion Stephens on vocals, Christian Becker filling in like a pro on guitar, John Myers on guitar, Terence Bright on bass, and Alvin Richardson on drums. One of the many highlights of the set was when the familiar opening strains of their should-be classic song The Core Of My Existence commenced, when the crowd went absolute insane, singing along to its wondrously infectious refrains. A rare encore at the Cobalt was even granted, with In Dying Arms returning to the stage to obliterate the room with the relentlessly heavy May I Have This Dance from their 2011 Self-Titled album.  Fans of bands such as Chelsea Grin and Oceano should seek out the auditory chaos of In Dying Arms, and prepare to be thoroughly enraptured..

Set List:
Famous last words
Womb of vital confinement
Lives of display
The core of my existence
Obsolete
Bathed in salt
Encore: may I have this dance

(Review and Trapped In The Past Photo by Ken Morton – In Dying Arms and Darkness Divided Photos by Jack Lue)

In Dying Arms on Facebook
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The Ocean Blue at The Troubadour

theoceanbluejl1The Ocean Blue, The Troubadour, September 9, 2014

The famous West Hollywood venue was filling in for second support band Western Lows as the trio started out quiet and midtempo, their gazy style soon picked up tempo and distortion ending their short set to guitar squalls and glorious applause.

Perhaps as a joke to the Hershey, Pennsylvania band, Nirvana blared over the speakers as the members set up their equipment.  The Ocean Blue was an antidote to all the distorted guitar angst of the “grunge” bands.  They started out their set with Mercury, one of their peppier numbers from second album Cerulean, singer/guitarist David Schelzel and bassist Bobby Mittan still boyish after all these years. Their first two albums were written and released while the members were still teens and it is on the edge of the loss of innocence that some of their best music rests.  The band followed up with the more muscular Sad Night, Where Is The Morning? from their 2013 comeback album Ultramarine and it was evident that the band still has the fire and melodic sense to write thrilling and catchy tunes.  Shelzel prepared the audience to hear some new tunes, that it wasn’t going to be a nostalgia tour, yet their music is so timeless, decades of music blended into an exciting flashback and forward to good times throughout our lives, The Ocean Blue our soundtrack.

theoceanbluejl2The title track to their second album Cerulean came next, Shelzel’s ethereal vocals were well grounded by Mittan’s muscular bass playing. From the new Waterworks re-release the band broke out previously unreleased Can’t Let Go, a song that echoes 80′s British bands pre-Brit-Pop with well-paced vocals that channeled JAMC’s Jim Reid and Ian Curtis for thrilling effect.  Released on the original Waterworks, the lush Pedestrian had a shuffling beat and dramatic and jangly guitar work from Oed Ronne.

Sublime on album is one thing, but live, Mittan and Anderson’s rhythm section really boost the energy of the song, Shelzel’s lilting vocals took us on flights of fancy, the audience singing along “sub-bu-bu-buliiime”.  On Vanity Fair, from their S/T debut the boys took the song from twee to raveup with the tempo winding up, Mittan and Anderson looking at each other to see how fast they could get. On Give it A Try the band once again displays power and focus and Mittan’s slinky bass rhythm smoldered while Ronne’s guitars sizzled and sparked.

theoceanbluejl3After the double whammy of Ballerina Out of Control and Between Something and Nothing, The Ocean Blue presented us with a previously unreleased song that Shelzel wrote in high school.  The band originally recorded it for the movie Naked In New York but the song was cut.  Now fans can find it on the Waterworks reissue.  City Traffic sounds like the singer was listening to a whole lot of Peter Weller as a teen.  The breezy and fun song  kept the audience moving even as some were leaving the venue.  The Ocean Blue finished the night with a rough version of The Cure’s Just Like Heaven, Shelzel inviting the audience to sing along. We didn’t dissapoint, raising the song to a celebration of the power of music.

The Ocean Blue in 2014 look and sound like they’re doing it for all the right reasons, without outside stress, releasing their music on their own.  The sold out Troubadour proved that the boys still have much to offer from their past accomplishments as well as their future endeavors. I’ll be at their next L.A. show!

(Review by Bret Miller –  Photos by Jack Lue)

LINKS
The Ocean Blue 
Facebook
Korda Records
Shelflife Records
City Traffic Video
Can’t Let Go Video

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Slash featuring Myles Kennedy & The Conspirators

slashjl2Slash featuring Myles Kennedy & The Conspirators, Charm City Devils, Pechanga Resort & Casino, Temecula, CA, August 9, 2014

Slash featuring Myles Kennedy & The Conspirators are currently on the road opening for Aerosmith and then headlining their own shows throughout the country. One of the most extraordinary guitarists in the world today, Slash certainly did not disappoint with epic solos and searing axe work that was wondrous to behold. Complete with Alter Bridge vocalist Myles Kennedy devastating the senses with his vibrant singing and a lineup that brought it home with an all-out vengeance, their show at the Pechanga Resort & Casino would be an absolutely unforgettable event! In addition to their own songs, classic Guns N Roses tunes were also unleashed to a wildly appreciative crowd along with many other surprises.

Charm City Devils

charmcity2jlFirst up was an appearance by the Charm City Devils, a fiery rock and roll band that really tore down the house with their thoroughly dynamic set. Personally selected by Slash to open on various dates throughout the tour, the audience was clearly captivated by the Charm City Devils and their wildly infectious songs. Kicking off the set with the rollicking refrains of Spite, this Baltimore based collective clearly won over the Pechanga crowd in a big and glorious way. Devil Is A Woman is a down and dirty rocker, performed with a fiendish glee while True Love (Hell Yeah) had the audience singing along to its wickedly wonderful chorus. After an explosive cover of I Got Mine by The Black Keys, Charm City Devils let loose with a powerful version of the traditional Man of Constant Sorrow. The set then ended way too soon with their raging new single Shots from their forthcoming Battles magnum opus on The End Records.

charmcity3jlFront man John Allen displays a showmanship that is exhilarating to witness – performing each and every song with a heated amount of heart and soul. Superb musicianship was in full force, featuring the participation of Vic Karrera on guitar, Nick Kay on guitar, Anthony Arambula om bass, and Jason Heiser on drums. Judging by the line at the merch booth to meet the wildly charismatic John Allen after their set, there is little doubt that Charm City Devils is headed straight into the stratosphere. Raising hell and taking names, Charm City Devils left an indelible impression to be sure!

Set List:
Spite
Devil Is A Woman
True Love (Hell Yeah)
I Got Mine
Man of Constant Sorrow
Shots

Slash featuring Myles Kennedy & The Conspirators

slashjl3And it was time for Slash featuring Myles Kennedy & The Conspirators to take over the stage, and they did so with an all-out vengeance, opening with the ferocious You’re A Lie from the Apocalyptic Love album. Then it was time to hear the first of several Guns N Roses cuts – Night Train was played full force, sounding first rate with Kennedy’s passionate vocals meshing well with the dazzling guitar work of  Slash. Then it was over to the devilish inflections of Halo rising throughout the cavernous auditorium. The raging rockers kept on coming, with the crowd reveling in standout tunes such as Stone Blind (from the upcoming album World On Fire), You Could Me Mine, and You’re Crazy.

slashjl5A stunning highlight of the night was when Rocket Queen was magnificently performed, featuring a mesmerizing solo from Slash – clearly demonstrating that he is true royalty on guitar! Not For Me was a power ballad leaving quite an impact with Kennedy’s emotional vocals and Slash’s equally effective playing enveloping the auditorium. Anastasia hit all the right notes and had many in the audience singing along. Towards the end of the 20 song set, the classic guitar riff of Sweet Child Of Mine was heard, and the entire venue rose to their feet to celebrate the timeless G’nR tune. And the closing out the show was Slither, a surprise selection from Slash’s Velvet Revolver days that thrilled the rocking Pechanga masses. A well-deserved encore then took place, with Slash and Company delivering a powerhouse tour through the streets of Paradise City – thoroughly enrapturing all in attendance.

If you live in the Los Angeles area, be sure to catch Slash featuring Myles Kennedy & The Conspirators as they take over the iconic Hollywood venues The Troubadour (9/23), The Roxy (9-25), and The Whisky (9/26). A night with Slash, Myles Kennedy and the mighty Conspirators is an epic experience that is not to be missed!

Setlist:
You’re a Lie
Night Train
Halo
Standing in the Sun
Back from Cali
Stone Blind
You Could Be Mine
Doctor Alibi
You’re Crazy
Not for Me
30 Years to Life
Rocket Queen
No More Heroes
Starlight
World on Fire
Anastasia
By the Sword
Sweet Child O’ Mine
Slither

Encore
Paradise City

(Review by Ken Morton – Photos by Jack Lue)

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Charm City Devils on Facebook

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Heartist at Chain Reaction

received_m_mid_1408059631039_43efff5cef34e22497_1Heartist, Chain Reaction, August 6, 2014

Heartist at Chain Reaction was out of control. Heartist is on tour with Our Last Night & Set it Off as support. Their stop at their local hometown venue in Anaheim was sold out and PACKED. These hometown heroes had a great amount of crowd interaction, between crowd surfing and stage diving it was just a ton of fun for everyone.

They opened up their set with ‘Pressure Point’, a single off their new album that just released on August 12th, called Feeding Fiction. People were singing along already knowing the lyrics since Heartist played this song on BlesstheFall’s Hollow Bodies Tour about 3 months ago.

Heartist played several new songs off Feeding Fiction at Chain Reaction, each one of them receiving a different, but good reaction. After the new songs, they played ‘The Answer’ off their EP “Nothing You Didn’t Deserve”. During that time, vocalist Bryce Beckley shared a special moment with a fan. A fan crowd surfed his way onto the stage and was singing along the lyrics while crying and hugging Bryce. It was a heartwarming moment and it’s always very touching when you see this happen at shows, a special connection.

Everything that night was on point, even their fill in drummer. Heartist almost dropped off the tour due to their drummer, Matt Marquez getting sick. Luckily, they found a fill in drummer just in time. Matt Marquez was reunited with the band that night and was set to join the tour the next day in San Diego.

Setlist:
Pressure Point
Black Cloud
Skeletons
Where Did I Go Wrong?
The Answer
Disconnected

(Review and Photo by Talia Farber)

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The Soundtrack of Summer Tour

styxsountrackThe Soundtrack of Summer Tour with Foreigner, Styx, Don Felder, The Greek Theatre, July 26, 2014

It was one of those perfect nights in Southern California under the stars at The Greek Theatre. The Soundtrack of Summer Tour had made its way into the Southland, featuring the  legendary duo of Foreigner and Styx co-headlining with rock solid support from Don Felder, formerly of the Eagles. The event was packed to the rafters – a sold out performance with fans of all ages ready to rock it out to the classic tunes from the 70’s and 80’s. Once again proving that a truly great song is indeed timeless, it was a joyful sing-along throughout the entire night as hit-after-hit emitted enthusiastically from the stage.

Don Felder

donfelderjl1First up on the bill was Don Felder and band, kicking off the proceedings on a wildly vibrant note with the Eagles ‘classic selection Already Gone. Instantly winning the audience over with his appealing demeanor and the suburb musicianship of all involved, daylight slowly merged to dusk as Felder and company thrilled the crowd. Felder co-wrote many of the Eagles’ greatest hits, and delivered a healthy dose of the supreme cuts, including One Of These Nights, Victim Of Love, and Heartache Tonight. Felder’s recent solo endeavor Road To Forever was highlighted with the striking sounds of the bluesy You Don’t Have Me reverberating throughout the Greek. The five part harmony of Seven Bridges Road was absolutely breathtaking – certainly a high point in the Don Felder set. Another wonderful treat was when Felder and company performed Heavy Metal (Takin’ A Ride) from the cult classic motion picture of the same name. And if you thought the auditory adventure was about the end, Tommy Shaw of Styx would join Felder onstage for a stunning rendition of Hotel California – breathing new life into one of the most haunting songs ever recorded by the Eagles.  Be sure to check into Road To Forever to find out what Don Felder is up to today – it’s been reissued with bonus tracks so it’s well worth seeking out!

Don Felder Set List:
Already Gone
One Of These Nights
You Don’t Have Me
Victim Of Love
Seven Bridges Road
Heavy Metal (Takin’ A Ride)
Witchy Woman
Heartache Tonight
Life In The Fast Lane
Hotel California

Styx

styxjl1With the progressive opening notes of the mighty Grand Illusion, you knew Styx was going to take over in a vast and glorious way. On the stage were Tommy Shaw, James “JY” Young, Lawrence Gowan, Todd Sucherman and Ricky Phillips – absolutely consummate performers ready to transport you back in time with their gigantic repertoire of hits! Early on in the set during a rousing rendition of Fooling Yourself (Angry Young Man), original bassist Chuck Panozzo joined Styx onstage, and the atmosphere was magical! One of the amazing new additions to the lineup of Styx is keyboardist Lawrence Gowan, a magnificent talent who can thrill the audience with his expressive voice and charismatic stage presence.  Just take a  listen to his solo turn on Lady, and you’ll be hooked! One of their more obscure songs Superstars from The Grand Illusion was performed with so much conviction; it was easy to be swept away by its majestic artistry.  Don Felder would then make his way back on stage, lending his talents to the lively Blue Collar Man. The ever resourceful Gowan then was left on stage to go solo, greatly entertaining the crowd with an imaginative medley of You Can’t Always Get What You Want, Live And Let Die, and Bohemian Rhapsody. This was the perfect segue way to an epic rendition of Come Sail Way, where Gowan was rejoined by the rest of the band unleashing a mesmerizing version of Styx’s most celebrated song.  For a much deserved encore. Panozzo joined his bandmates for spiraling rendition of Renegade.  Styx in 2014 remains a vital rock and roll force that can still rock the Paradise with a magnetic force!

Styx Set List:
The Grand Illusion
Too Much Time On My Hands
Fooling Yourself (Angry Young Man)
Lady
Light Up
Crystal Ball
Superstars
Blue Collar Man
You Can’t Always Get What You Want / Live And Let Die / Bohemian Rhapsody’
Come Sail Away

Encore
Rockin’ The Paradise
Renegade

FOREIGNER

foreignerjl1Even as Foreigner emerged on the stage with no original members in tow for the first part of the set; the current lineup was hot and heavy and ready for action. Unleashing a rocking trio of hits right off the bat, Double Vision, Head Games, and Cold As Ice instantly had the audience on their feet and ready to party.  One notices right away the powerful lead vocals of former Hurricane member Kelly Hansen, belting out the great Foreigner classics with a fiery sense of passion. Also among the current Foreigner lineup is Jeff Pilson, the former Dokken bassist, leaving a lasting impression from the pulsating low end of the sonic spectrum. After a remarkably moving performance of Waiting For A Girl Like You, Hansen introduced founding Foreigner lead guitarist Mick Jones, and the Greek responded with a rapturous applause. Jones would join Foreigner for the rollicking Feels Like The First Time, and stay for the duration of the set. One powerful highlight was when Jones took the time to introduce one of his favorite deep cuts Strarrider from their Self-Titled debut album, and then proceeded to sing lead vocals – perhaps the most poignant single moment of the entire evening. For the encore, Foreigner was joined onstage by The Imagination Choir from John Muir Middle School located in Burbank, and proceeded to play the heartfelt I Want To Know What Love Is. And then Tommy Shaw, JY, and Don Felder would join in for a hell raising performance of Hot Blooded, sending the music temperature into the stratosphere. An unforgettable Saturday night with truly great bands and musicians performing songs that will be revered for a lifetime!

Foreigner Set List:
Double Vision
Head Games
Cold As Ice
Waiting For A Girl Like You
Feels Like The First Time
Urgent
Starrider
Juke Box Hero

Encore:
I Want To Know What Love Is
Hot Blooded

(Review by Ken Morton – Photos by Jack Lue)

Don Felder Official Home Page
Styx Official Home Page
Foreigner Official Home Page

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Tigrilla at White Oak Music and Arts

tigrilla3_875x1200Tigrilla. White Oak Music and Arts, June 28, 2014

White Oak Music and Arts is a new venue in the heart of the San Fernando Valley, that is well worth seeking out. They’ve recently hosted bands such as The Dead Rabbitts (featuring Craig Mabbitt of Escape The Fate), Sworn Enemy, Kurt Travis of A Lot Like Birds – and many others. All ages and extremely comfortable, with a rock solid sound system, White Oak is sure to become a favorite to many a band collective and music aficionado.

On this particular Saturday night, Tigrilla was headlining, a young Los Angeles-based band performing their own wildly rambunctious brand of rock and roll. They drew an impressive crowd and it’s no wonder why – Tigrilla definitely knows a thing or three about showmanship and will keep you well entertained. Plus they can pull off a wickedly sensational rendition of the KISS classic Love Gun.

tigrilla2_1200x900Tigrilla opened their set with the rollicking refrains of Open The Door followed by Goodbye Piper, instantly enrapturing the audience with their infectious tunes. One noticed right away the charismatic Timmy Chainshaw, making a connection with the audience both onstage and off, delivering his vocals with a stunning sense of fiendish glee. Evangelos Lindley unleashed some tremendously tasty licks on lead guitar, while bassist Jonathan Derek and drummer Devin Knell made the tight rhythm section look smooth and effortless.

The aforementioned Love Gun was a blast to watch, and original cuts such as Six-Shot and Lay Me Down really won over the White Oak crowd with their sheer exuberance. The band even came back onstage for a well-deserved encore, presenting a final song entitled Vile Eyes to a thoroughly appreciative audience. Tigrilla definitely oozes with promise, caring not for the current music trends of the day.  Expressing their own individualism through genres such as classic rock, grunge, and even glam and beyond, Tigrilla is sure to captivate even the most jaded of music critic.  It will be interesting to see what the future has in store for the rip-roaring rocking animal known as Tigrilla.

(Review and Photos by Ken Morton)

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Falling In Reverse at Vans Warped Tour in Ventura

Jacky Vincent of Falling In Reverse

Jacky Vincent of Falling In Reverse

Falling In Reverse, Vans Warped Tour, Ventura, CA., 06/22/14

Falling In Reverse at Vans Warped Tour Ventura was shred-tastic. Lead guitarist, Jacky Vincent, was shredding so hard live. He’s a tasteful, clean, fast, and precise guitarist who has come a long way due to Falling in Reverse. The whole time he was playing he was looking down at his guitar, making sure he didn’t make any mistakes, and was very serious about his performance.

FIR came onstage with “I’m Not A Vampire”, an oldie, but goodie. The crowd INSTANTLY was hyped and singing along to this catchy song. Frontman, Ronnie Radke was very interactive with his crowd for this fun song! During the part where he says, “Hi, my name is Ronnie and I’m an addict”, the crowd responded with a big “Hi Ronnie!” This song although is meant to have crowd interaction, was fun to see everyone take part in. Next song they played was “Fashionably Late”, the crowd was LOUD during the whole song, and it was pretty humorous to watch because of Ronnie’s witty lyrics.

Ronnie Radke of Falling In Reverse

Ronnie Radke of Falling In Reverse

One thing that was nostalgic to see during their set was Max Green playing bass for Ronnie again, just like in the good old days of Escape the Fate! People were stoked to see Max and Ronnie back at it again. It was a huge surprise when Ronnie put their bad, drug filled past behind them and had Max join the band. Everyone could tell Max was extremely happy to be in a band with Ronnie again and just be best friends again, even though time has changed.  FIR has been through 3 bassists so far, but we all expect that Max is going to stay in Falling In Reverse because of his and Ronnie’s bond.

The last time I had seen FIR was in 2012, and honestly, they weren’t a very solid performance. Ronnie was singing like it was a joke, and it was just terrible. FIR has perfected their live performance, everything at Ventura was solid and spot on. Jacky’s solos even improved, and that’s a lot to say since he’s already an INCREDIBLE guitarist! I would definitely see FIR again, even though I don’t listen to them. They were very fun to watch and they had a great performance and great stage energy!

Setlist:
I’m Not A Vampire
Fashionably Late
Rolling Stone
Raised By Wolves
Bad Girls Club
Born to Lead
Alone
The Drug In Me Is You

(Review and Photos by Talia Farber)

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Crown The Empire at Vans Warped Tour in Ventura

crowntheempiretl1Crown The Empire, Vans Warped Tour, Ventura, CA., 06/22/14

Crown the Empire at Vans Warped Tour Ventura was awesome. They even upgraded, from the Ernie Ball Stage to the Monster Stage. Crown the Empire’s performance was completely on point, and were even better than last year. They had much more room for stage presence too. These guys played with such charisma and enthusiasm, it just got everyone in a good mood, especially crowntheempiretl2when both vocalists got engaged in the crowd. One of the vocalists even went in the crowd and got everyone to sing along. It was amazing to see everyone know the two new songs they played. They were singing along and just jumping all around. The two tracks were called “Initiation” & “Mnstr” off their new album called The Resistance: Rise If The Runaways coming out July 22nd. Their track “Initiation” has the perfect balance of screams and singing. The crowd seemed to love that one. They got everyone pumped for the new album before playing their last song. Crown The Empire had a short, but sweet set.

Setlist:
Makeshift Chemistry
Initiation
Johnny’s Revenge
Voices
Mnstr
The Fallout

(Review and Photos by Talia Farber)

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VANS WARPED TOUR 2014 – VENTURA

LINKIN PARK at VANS WARPED TOUR in Ventura

LINKIN PARK at VANS WARPED TOUR in Ventura

VANS WARPED TOUR 2014, Pomona Fairplex, Pomona, CA, June 20th, 2013

After a commencement of nothing but soaring temperatures in places such as Texas, Arizona, and Nevada, relief was certainly within the sights of this year’s edition of the Vans Warped Tour. Welcome to Seaside Park in Ventura, California – overlooking the Pacific Ocean with the sun and cool breezes always associated with a beach community. The site has always been one of the best places to see Warped Tour, and this Sunday in late June would be no exception. Not only was the weather absolutely perfect, but a special guest band had been announced. Yes ladies and gentlemen, the mighty Linkin Park would be making an appearance at the Ventura date as part of the Warped Tour’s 20th Anniversary. There was a genuine excitement and anticipation within the concert goers that permeated the atmosphere. While Warped shows are always memorable occasions, this particular day in Ventura would be an event to be remembered for the ages! But now, it was on to the Ernie Ball Stage to check out some of the Battle Of The Bands’ winners.

The New Varsity

IMG_6883The New Varsity from Claremont is one of the most underrated pop punk bands on the planet today. One could clearly see that playing Warped Tour was certainly a “bucket list” event for each and every member, and  at the Ernie Ball Stage, they hit it out of the ball park as the first band on the day at the Ernie Ball Stage. Opening with the dynamic refrains of A Place To Call Home followed by the memorably titled I Puked At The Fonda, The New Varsity clearly won over the early arrivals with their infectious anthems and vibrant musicianship. In addition to songs from their Running Out Of Time release, a standout new song entitled The Last Day In November was performed. The New Varsity definitely proves that pop punk is far from a dead genre, and left a lasting impression with their short but exhilarating set. The talented members of The New Varsity are Kyle Feyk-Miney on guitar and lead vocals, Eric Putnam on lead guitar and backing vocals, Diante’ Thomas on bass and backing vocals, and Taz Reeves on drums. A well-deserved win for band who very well could help bring pop punk spiraling back to the Warped Tour and beyond!

False Puppet

IMG_6940The Ernie Ball stage continued to be the place to discover new talent, as False Puppet from Santa Barbara were ready to rock the living daylights out of the Warped crowd. This tremendously charismatic power trio attracted quite an audience, and delivered a wonderfully energetic performance. With remarkably solid songs such as What You Do To Me and Hall Of Shame, one could clearly see why they were selected as a Battle Of The Bands winner. False Puppet is a true winning combination, featuring the participation of Tyler Benko on vocals on guitar, Channing Peake on bass and backing vocals, and Brennan Benko on drums. A standout set from a band we are destined to hear a lot more of in the months ahead. Upcoming dates include August 10th at The Avalon and August 29th at The Troubadour. They may be called False Puppets, but their music is anything but bogus – one listen and this trio will launch you straight into the rock and roll stratosphere!

Galvanized Souls

IMG_6957Based out of the Camarillo area, Galvanized Souls was another Battle Of The Bands winner who took over the Ernie Ball Stage in a big and glorious way! This young band has been receiving a good deal of acclaim above and beyond Ventura County, and they definitely showed the Warped Tour crowd the impact of timeless, heartfelt rock and roll. Opening with Fall Of Icarus, Galvanized Souls instantly attracted a good amount of people ready to check out the rocking goodness emitting from the stage. The short but solid set included standout selections such as Make A Sound, Carry On, and the very much in your face Shut You Down. Galvanized Souls consists of Matt DeMartini on bass and vocals, Zakk Silveira on guitar and lead vocals, Chris Traylor on guitar and vocals, and Kevin Cogen on drums and vocals. Be sure to catch Galvanized Souls on June 26h at The Whisky and July 5th at The Troubadour, both in the wilds of Hollywood!

Shiragirl

IMG_7968When attending Warped Tour, one must be prepared for any kind of sonic extravaganza – this festival has become wondrously diverse over the years – and no one displays a penchant for pushing boundaries more than the world renowned sensation known as Shiragirl. Founder of the notorious pink colored Warped Tour stage which bears her moniker, Shiragirl’s set is lively, sassy, and ready to bring on the dance party! Channeling classic acts such as Madonna and Joan Jett, the seductive Shira and her two gorgeous dancers (and a hard working DJ too!) thoroughly enraptured the crowd with their wildly infectious songs. It’s a change from the punk rock anthems Shiragirl has been known for in the past, but it shows a true artist at the height of her creativity. The stage is being sponsored all summer by Conquer Entertainment. If you are looking to get away from the hardcore and metal overdrive on the various stages, be sure to check out the pulsating dance-tastic sounds of Shiragirl.

Linkin Park

LINKIN PARK and David Schmitt of BREATHE CAROLINA

LINKIN PARK and David Schmitt of BREATHE CAROLINA

And now for the main event of the day – a surprise set by Linkin Park that absolutely stunned and surprised the Warped Tour Ventura throngs – complete with many famous special guests. There were people as far as the eye could in front of a giant center stage that was constructed especially for the Linkin Park appearance. At 5:30 in the afternoon, the legendary Los Angeles based band took the stage, exploding into a rousing rendition of One Step Closer. Nate Barcalow of Finch was the first of the many guests to appear, singing his heart out with Linkin Park during One Step Closer. David Schmitt of Breathe Carolina delivered a rapturous vocal for New Divide, followed by Mike and Jeremy of The Devil Wears Prada, absolutely killing it with Guilty All The Same. The all-star rocker cast kept on arriving for special appearances – featuring key members of Issues, Yellowcard, A Day To Remember – even Machine Gun Kelly unleashed vo-kills for Bleed It Out. Social media would overload before, during and after this powerful set – with many in the audience stating this was the best performance they have EVER witnessed at the Vans Warped Tour. It was indeed a set of epic proportions – and an absolute stroke of genius from Warped Tour promoter Kevin Lyman. Kids will be talking about the Linkin Park show at Warped Tour 2014 in Ventura for many years to come…

Cursed Sails

IMG_8425There were still plenty of bands left to experience after Linkin Park exited the stage. For us, it was back to the Ernie Ball Stage to catch a set from Cursed Sails, a newer signing from Velocity / Rise Records. Featuring Ben and Cory Ferris formerly of Issues and Woe, Is MeCursed Sails is a whole new beast entirely. Imagine hardcore combined with the sickest of grunge, and you are only beginning to envision the dark sonic meanderings of Cursed Sails. Opening their set with the pummeling Dead Daze from their debut Rotten Society release, the ferocious attitude heaving out from the stage reminded me of the great hardcore bands that used to devastate Hellfest on the East Coast. The most memorable song in the set was definitely Thunderbird, whose chorus “live fast, die young” reverberated with a vast amount of fiendish glee. Also credited to the controlled chaos known as Cursed Sails are Omar Magana and Brent Guistwite. Together, these four musicians will annihilate your senses and leave you wanting a whole lot more! It’s always exciting to discover incredible new bands such as Cursed Sails at Warped Tour!

The Ready Set

IMG_8743The last band we would see at Warped Tour in Ventura would be The Ready Set, kicking off the pop rock dance party on the Warheads Stage. Now finding themselves on a brand new label with their third album in tow, The Ready Set certainly had the screaming girls going strong when performing selections such as Love Like Woe and Best Song Ever. Of the newer material from their Artery Records debut The Bad & The Better, Freakin Me Out and Fangz possessed a ton of hit single potential, with many in the audience already singing along even though the albums only been out a few weeks. Jordan Witzigreuter is the mastermind of The Ready Set, a charismatic performer who continues to shine and deliver absolutely amazing songs. On the way out, this reviewer was humming the infectious chorus of Best Song Ever – and it continued to jangle relentlessly in my head on the ride back to the SFV!

Ventura was surely that stuff that Warped Tour legends are made of – from Linkin Park all the way to new band discoveries that more adventurous types tend to make throughout the afternoon! And a few days later, it would be off to San Diego for the final 2014 Southern California date…

(Review by Ken Morton – Photos by Edward Brandon)

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VANS WARPED TOUR 2014 – POMONA

Telle Smith of The Word Alive

Telle Smith of The Word Alive

VANS WARPED TOUR 2014, Pomona Fairplex, Pomona, CA, June 20th, 2013

With the weather forecast being 93 degrees and a long lines circling all around the venue to get in, one could easily see that the Vans Warped Tour at the Pomona Fairplex was the hottest ticket in town. Dozens of varied bands on wide ranging stages were to be witnessed – there was certainly something for just about any kind of music tastes. This year, even the Reverse Daycare tent overflowed with parents, although many of them seemed to be as adventurous as the kids, checking out some of the dynamic bands Warped Tour had to offer this year. 20 years in, and Warped Tour remains as vital as ever, and for many a music fan, this will always be the concert event of the summer. Here are some of the bands we caught up with at this year’s edition of Warped Pomona style. Read on…

Heart To Heart

hearttoheartjl1For the early arrivals who made it over to the Hard Rock Kevin Says Stage, Heart To Heart presented a spirited selection of punk and hardcore tunes. Touring this summer promoting their just released Dulce effort on Pure Noise Records, Heart To Heart clearly captivated the audience with their powerful tunes and vibrant performance. During Daytime, the wonderfully unpredictable front man Nick Zoppo lit a cigarette, and then swallowed it down with a chug of Monster Energy Drink. In an interview later, he told me it was the first time he had done that, and it would probably not happen again. Consuming cigs aside, Zoppo and the band put on an impassioned show, with set highlights being In Case You Haven’t Noticed and Firefly. An explosive commencement to a heated day in the sun! You can bet we’ll be hearing a lot more from this Pismo Beach, CA band in the months ahead!

For All Those Sleeping

forallthosesleepingjl1The Monster Energy Stage was situated towards the front of the venue, which was perfect since they seemed to have all of the heaviest bands of the day there. We missed Stray From The Path, but right after, For All Those Sleeping took over the stage with a commanding force to be reckoned with. Opening at hurricane force with Nothing Matters from the recently issued Incomplete Me on Fearless Records, For All Those Sleeping had the crowd wide awake and moshing along within an instant.  Another standout cut from the new album was the anthem-like Poison Party, which the band unleashed with a fiendish glee as the vocals relayed “Welcome to the world gone crazy!” Fan favorites such as Mark My Words and Follow My Voice were also played, causing a frenzy of reaction with the crowd. For All Those Sleeping may have been flying under the radar with So Cal fans over the past few years, but performances like these are the type that leave lasting impressions and help to gain an army of new fans.

Dangerkids

dangerkidsjl1With the perfect mixture of pop hardcore and hip-hop, Dangerkids has hit the winning combination. Their summer on the Warped Tour is certain to gain the band a wide amount of attention, especially since the band brings the party to the stage with a glorious amount of energy. The vocal team of Andy Bane and Tyler Smyth is absolutely captivating, the two styles mixing together superbly. Their time on the Take Action Tour has rendered Dangerkids an incredibly tight unit. Opening with the vibrant inflections of Downtown, Dangerkids presented a set of incredibly infectious tunes culled from their debut release Collapse on Rise Records.  Paper Thin could be played all over the radio (if the airwaves were actually that adventurous), and this and the many other tunes sounded tremendous in a live setting. And I must say, Katie Cole kept the driving beats like a total pro on drums! Dangerkids is definitely one of the most exciting new bands on Warped Tour this year and are well worth seeking out!

Crown The Empire

crowntheempirejl1One band who understands and appreciates the importance of showmanship in a live performance in certainly Crown The Empire. This highly charismatic band has amassed quite a fan following since unleashing The Fallout two years ago. Those thinking that Crown The Empire may hit a sophomore slump when their upcoming album were in for a nice surprised when the band debuted two songs from their forthcoming The Resistance: Rise of the Runaways magnum opus. Initiation and MNSTR showed a band at the very height of creativity, combining the heavy music aspects with the grand sense of theatricality. And of course the Monster Energy Stage went into the supreme chaos an anarchy when crowd favorites such as Makeshift Chemistry, Voices, and The Fallout were delivered. Crown The Empire remains one of the most compelling bands on the Rise Records roster of talent, and their live shows are not to be missed! Top-notch performances all around from Andy Leo on vocals, David Escamilla on vocals, Brandon Hoover on guitar, Benn Suede on lead guitar, Hayden Tree on bass, and Brent Taddie on drums.

Brian Marquis

brianmarquisjl1Brian Marquis has come a long way as an artist since his time spent with the post hardcore collective Therefore I Am. His debut full length solo venture Blood & Spirits was recently unveiled through Equal Vision Records. And now in the third year running the Acoustic Basement Stage at the Vans Warped Tour, many are beginning to really discover Marquis and his wondrously heartfelt music. Brian headlined his stage tonight, and drew a nice crowd. Not typical Warped Tour fair, but then again what is the norm these days with a festival that has become so musically diverse? Opening with the country ballad style tones of the introspective I’m Still Chasing You, Marquis displayed a warmth and compassion within his songs that was positively endearing. Burn The Bridge, Swim The River showed yet again how an acoustic song could have so much emotion and impact. Brian dedicated Drink You Up to his girlfriend with everyone in the crowd going “Aww!” Bringing In Ghosts closed out the set on a gorgeously haunting note – such a terrific song to end with from a massively talented singer / songwriter. Be sure to check out Brian Marquis and the Acoustic Basement stage when you visit Warped Tour this year!

Watsky

watskyjl1Warped Tour has been known to bring hip-hop artists along for the wild ride across North America, featuring performers as different as Grieves, MC Lars, and TMills. San Francisco based George Watsky is a phenomenal performer – his flow is absolutely epic, conveying lyrics that will really make you stand up and take notice. Watsky attracted quite a crowd over at the Beatport Stage, and they were clearly enraptured by what the artist and his band had to offer. Opening the set with the infectious Moral Of The Story from Cardboard Castles, Watsky definitely captivated by the skilled precision of his vocals. A new song Whoa Whoa Whoa from the forthcoming All You Can Do album was presented, and very well received. The definite highlight of the set was Tiny Glowing Screens, where Watsky and the female co-vocalist Camilla sent the song into the stratosphere, complete with improvisational lyrics based on audience members Watsky saw out in the in crowd (as well as one hilarious Attila reference, who was playing across the way at the Monster Energy stage). A stunning set from an exceptional hip-hop artist ready to rock your world!

The Word Alive

LukeHollandjl1Speaking of the Monster Energy Stage, it was time to head back over that direction to see The Word Alive. Presenting one of the most intensive sets on the Warped Tour, The Word Alive unleashed an inspiring collection of songs. Opening with Playing The Victim from their brand spankin’ new Real. release on Fearless Records, the crowd surfing and moshing instantly commenced. 2012 really sent the entire ground shaking, as this one remains a clear fan favorite. Newer songs such as Lighthouse and Glass Castle clearly showed a band at the very height of their creativity. The Word Alive possesses an amazing gift for reaching out and genuinely moving the fans with their powerful, thought provoking songs – the best example being the set closer Life Cycles – where the call of “I’d rather die than live a life without meaning” reverberates throughout in the most triumphant way. Telle Smith is quickly becoming a voice for a generation of music fans – and is surely one of the most charismatic front men out there today. – Vocals Tony Pizzuti and Zack Hansen present amazing guitar assaults live while the bass work of Daniel Shapiro could probably have been felt all the way across the fairgrounds. Luke Holland is an impressive drum extraordinaire, and he really shines in a live setting. What a terrific way to end a sweltering hot day in the wilds of Pomona, CA!

There are still plenty of Warped Tour dates all across the county left to experience. Do not miss this chance to connect with new bands as well as the profound sense of community this event inspires.

(Review by Ken Morton – Photos by Jack Lue)

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