Monday, October 24, 2016

... And wow, what a weekend that was!!!

Monday morning, and every single bit of me aches... clocked over 36K steps over the past two days, walking from stage-to-stage at Aftershock, and while those of you who didn't have the luxury of nipping through the VIP area probably walked a few more miles than I did, carrying around 16lbs of equipment and stuff I think we're probably about equal and I definitely earned those delicious fries from the variety of food trucks that you saw me scoffing on both days, so don't ask what happened to the diet this weekend, OK???

The weekend started with Marillion at the Regency Ballroom in San Francisco on Friday evening--did I mention they are on tour right now??--then a 6am Greyhound back to Sacramento (sleep? what's that?) in time for Aftershock's Saturday openers... and somehow now it's Monday, it's MY BIRTHDAY!!! and as a present to share I have about a million photos to edit. (There are one or two already up on the Facebook page so please follow it if you don't already!)

So much good music... Marillion were, as always, incredible, inspiring, wonderful. Aftershock was so many tens-of-thousands of people enjoying a huge variety of music in the beautiful setting of Sacramento's Discovery Park. Of the bands I hadn't had the pleasure of seeing live before, Avatar far-and-away were my favourites... I hope, no, I expect to see them headlining sometime very soon. The Mendenhall Experiment and Ghost, amazing too. Of bands I've seen before, Disturbed and Korn were incredible.

Overall, Sunday's Aftershock lineup was more my kind of music than Saturday's (apart from Avatar), but that just goes to show how there is something for everyone at these festivals: it's fun seeing your favourite bands, it's fun discovering new music, and it's great seeing other people really enjoying sounds that you might not always listen to yourself.

It's going to take a while to edit all the photos. First I have to go pick up the cat from the cat hotel... then the work will begin. I will start with Marillion, then Aftershock... please be patient and keep checking back here for updates! (And if you're heading to the Marillion gigs in Boston, Washington, Philadelphia or New York, I'll see you there!)

May the music be with you!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Aftershock preview: get there early!!!!

And this weekend... AFTERSHOCK!!! Back at Discovery Park, close to downtown Sacramento, the river, and the place where it all started... headliners Tool, Korn, Avenged Sevenfold, Disturbed, Primus... such a huge lineup!

But don't forget the bands who are appearing earlier in the day. The show will be huge... so much good music (and a whole lotta other stuff going on too: don't miss the Music Experience and everything else)!

Here's a preview set of YouTube videos, for some of the earlier-than-the-headliners bands, in case you don't know them (yet). There are way more than these on the lineup... I got as far as adding The Mendenhall Experiment to the playlist, started reading the guitarist' and band's story, and it was so compelling and inspirational... so don't miss any of this festival, it's going to be brilliant!

letlive, Reluctantly Dead, and probably at the calmest that you'll see them at any point in the Aftershock set. Do not, and I repeat, do not miss this band!!! On stage on Saturday at 1.25 pm.

Whitechapel, Our Endless War: on stage on Sunday at 12.50

Avatar: Bloody Angel: can't wait to see these guys for the first time: Saturday at 2 pm.

Baroness: Chlorine & Wine: Saturday at 3.10

Parkway Drive, Vice Grip: currently seeing a lot of radio airplay, Parkway Drive will be on stage on Sunday at 2.30 pm.

Silver Snakes, Glass: check these guys out at 1.20 on Sunday.

Deafheaven, Sunbather: on stage at 4.45 on Saturday.

Sacramento's own Some Fear None, Out of Our Hands... and opening the Sunday show at 11.50 a.m. See. You need to be there at the beginning of the day!

Aeges, Another Wasteland: see them at 12.20 on Saturday.

The Shrine, Coming Down Quick: Saturday at 11.15 Saturday. Again: be there when the gates open!

And last but by very means not least in this preview, The Mendenhall Experiment and Seize The Day. If you haven't heard about these guys before, check out the story... Courage, strength, faith in oneself... you can be who you are meant to be. What an inspirational story!!! Go see them, 12.20 pm on Sunday.

All times are subject to change: follow Aftershock on social media to keep up-to-date! I'll see you all there... but first I'm off to San Francisco for the opening of Marillion's North America tour, see you there too!

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Steve Vai, 25 years of Passion and Warfare: the world tour, Sacramento, California

Steve Vai
Steve Vai, Bad Horsie, Sacramento, CA
Want to see all the photos? Click here for the photo gallery.

It's twenty-five years since guitar virtuoso Steve Vai released Passion and Warfare, in itself the culmination of years of work--and yet, he didn't tour the album when it was first released. Now, with a superb band on stage to help, he's touring the world, playing the album end-to-end, already passing through Scotland, England, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Poland, France and many other countries, and now here in the USA. with a few surprises, and some video, if not live-on-stage, guests: Brian May, Joe Satriani, a wookie-esque John Petrucci, and the late, great, Frank Zappa, whose music, in a past lifetime, Steve Vai transcribed to paper. I don't know how the heck he did that, but he did... The "guests" didn't steal the show... Mr. Vai did that himself, hands down.

Steve Vai
Steve Vai, Ace of Spades, Sacramento
Two-and-nearly-a-half hours of pure Steve Vai, played to a packed-to-the-rafters Ace of Spades. Probably not the biggest venue on the tour, but full of appreciation.

Steve Vai
Steve Vai, with Philip Bynoe on bass
The show opened with Bad Horsie, from Alien Love Secrets, Mr. Vai wearing a white hoodie with twin red lasers; Bo, the recently-stolen-and-returned mirrored guitar shining bright. (Check out the stories, and also read this article on about the fundraiser for Tony McAlpine, who happily is on tour supporting the USA dates and opened the show at the Ace of Spades with an hour of stunning guitar.) And then The Crying Machine, from Fire Garden, Gravity Storm, from The Story of Light, the dreamy, beautiful Tender Surrender, from Alien Love Secrets...  and only then beginning Passion and Warfare (there's a newly-remastered version available).

Steve Vai and Dave Weiner
Steve Vai and Dave Weiner
It's not a short album. Each song, played with the passion and warfare it deserved, and more. Steve Vai, ever impressive, ever fluid, and looking as if he was having a lot of fun on stage, and even though he must have played For The Love of God at least a million-and-a-half times in the past twenty-five years, he once-again made it sound like new, and broke everyones' hearts all over again. Especially if they were in part of the room, as I was, where you could see the backdrop movie, which just added another teardrop to the already-brimming eye. (I'm sure that in the larger venues, the video will be easier to see.)

The end of the album, stunning, but not the end of the show... after Love Secrets, the finale to Passion and Warfare, the band played at least three (four?) more ... What a huge show!!! ... and then took the time to thank everyone for being there. No, Steve Vai, we thank YOU, for the show, for the music, for bringing your show to Sacramento (again), and for everything you do to help and support other musicians. We know you care. It shines.

Steve Vai
Beautiful music, happy maestro
There are very, very few instrumental-only musicians who can keep an audience entranced and standing for hours. Steve Vai is one of those very few. To paraphrase someone overheard as we left the venue, walking to the cars... "My knees are hurting from standing on that cement floor for so long, but wow, I'm so very glad we were there, so very, very glad!!!"

The tour continues: check here for other dates. And for those guitarists out there, Mr. Vai is holding the third Vai Acadamy Guitar Camp in Carmel, CA, from January 2nd-6th, You can find more information here on the Vai Academy website. Nice start to the new year!

And all the photos are here: click!

Steve Vai
Steve Vai, Ace of Spades, Sacramento
(If you love beautiful, instrumental guitar music, also check out The Ghosts of Pripyat from the Steve Rothery Band... oh and in case you missed it, Mr. Rothery will be on tour with his other band, Marillion, beginning on Friday!)

Jeremy Colson
Jeremy Colson, drums, Steve Vai

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Marillion, F.E.A.R., a review, and a reminder about the tour...

It's been a couple of weeks since Marillion's 18th studio album, F.E.A.R., (Fuck Everyone And Run), was released, and while I haven't reviewed it here until today, here are a couple of major publications that have--take a look, and then go buy tickets for the upcoming tour, before it's too late:
  • Classic Rock "... Marillion have taken all the most emotionally potent and fervently dynamic moments from this line-up’s 27 years and moulded them into some new, exponentially emboldened form"
  • The Guardian: "Prog veteran's best album in 20 years"
Marillion, Montreal, Sunday 26 April 2015
Marillion, Montreal Canada, 2015
Straight into the UK album charts at number four... a huge deal for any band, let alone one whose music has long been known as rock's "best-kept secret", a secret known to a huge, worldwide audience who often travel across oceans and continents to see Marillion's live shows. I know, I've done it myself. Go to any one of the Marillion weekends, and you will meet people--the Marillion family--from all corners of the earth. The music is just that good.

I always wait to review a Marillion album. Because there are so many layers to the sound, so many emotions to the lyrics, that it takes several, many listenings. F.E.A.R. is a protest album: Eldorado, The New Kings embody the concept; rule by money, rule by banks and by big money, not by values and morality. It's a protest album, and it's angry, but angry in a sad and soulful way. It's a global story, and yet the album is, to me, also very English, probably because it tugs, hard, at my own homesickness for that walled garden full of singing blackbirds, buzzing bees, beautiful flowers, blue sky with cotton-wool clouds, and a bi-plane flying past on a Sunday morning, of old-school values...

"We're melting our guns, as a show of strength... we're not green, we're just pleasant"

But of all the album, which is magical, end-to-end, there's one song that immediately messed with my heart, my brain, my memories, and my guilt. You see... that's what Steve Hogarth's lyrics do: they make you think.

White Paper. An aging relationship. One person content, the other asking questions. Hurt, secrets, trying. A beautiful song, but what did it make me think of? It made me remember just how difficult it is to live with a writer, an author, a poet. I've been there, read the words and felt the hurt. And I've written them myself, and no doubt hurt others by doing so.

A writer sometimes takes an emotion, and asks, "What if?", and that's where the stories come from. It's not so much reality as such; it's the extension of a thought: what might be, what might have been. And sometimes they don't. A writer sometimes takes an element from their long-distant past, and writes about it as if it's today: building on it, expanding it, making it real, developing the intensity, making it hurt and bleed. And sometimes they don't. A writer sometimes takes someone else's story: a friend, a family member, something they read in the news, and bends it into something personal, something their own, something that's theirs and now yours... and sometimes they don't. Sometimes it's real, and it's now, and it's today, and it's their own pain they are writing about, right now. And neither you, nor I, nor anyone else will ever really know. Because none of us are ever, ever, truly and completely, inside someone else's head... and nor should we want to be.

So yes, White Paper is the song from F.E.A.R. that's stuck in my head right now, because once-again, Marillion have seized my heart and soul and wrung them out, pegged them to the washing line to dry in a rainstorm...

Marillion, San Francisco, 2012
Last time Marillion were in San Francisco: 2012
If you haven't already, take a listen to F.E.A.R. All the way through. Several times. It's beautiful, and it deserves the high accolades being bestowed by the UK, European and other press. And while you're at it, make sure that you have your tickets for the North American tour, they are selling fast. The tour begins in San Francisco on Friday, October 21st, travels through Los Angeles, Denver, Chicago, Northfield (Ohio), Toronto, Montreal, Quebec City, Boston, Washington DC, Philadelphia and ends in New York city on election night. Don't miss the opportunity to see Marillion live--you will not regret a single moment.

Here's The New Kings from F.E.A.R. Obtain the full album from your usual source: iTunes, Amazon,, record stores...

More Marillion photos:

Marbles evening, Marillion Weekend, PZ 2015
Marillion weekend, Port Zelande, The Netherlands

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Devin Townsend Project, and Between The Buried And Me, and between them both the show rocked!

Devin Townsend
Devin Townsend, Ace of Spades, Sacramento
While "prog" isn't a much-used genre-label here in the USA, Sunday night's show at the Ace of Spades in Sacramento was definitely that: progressive rock at its very best. Songs that take you along with them, weaving a complex tapestry of time signatures, melody, rhythm, words... sometimes so complex that you don't know the beginning from the end, but so entrancing that there is always something ultimately familiar. The avant-garde of rock music. Rock music that pushes the limits.
Tommy Rogers, vocals and keys, Between The Buried And Me (BTBAM)
Tommy Rogers, Between The Buried And Me (BTBAM)
Between The Buried And Me remind me in so many ways of Van der Graaf Generator, and if you know me, you know how huge a compliment that is (and if you don't know VDGG, check them out, plus all Peter Hammill's solo stuff(); a very different sound, but a deeply-intelligent approach to the structure of the music, never going so far into complexity that there's not a way home, but always stretching the limits.

Between The Buried And Me (BTBAM)
Between The Buried And Me, Sacramento, Ace of Spades
Devin Townsend Project, more intense, power-driven intensity and maestro guitar work: for those who remember with a big smile his collaboration with Steve Vai on Sex and Religion, take a read of this interview published today in Premier Guitar (Devin Townsend interviews Steve Vai), and remember that Mr Vai himself will be back in Sacramento at the Ace of Spades this coming Friday, 14th October, for the Passion and Warfare tour (already 25 years!!!)!

Devin Townsend Project
The Devin Townsend Project
The tour continues with several more USA dates, and then reconvenes in January for many dates in Europe. My friends across the pond: don't miss this one!

Check out the photo galleries here:

- Between The Buried And Me (BTBAM)
- Devin Townsend Project

The show was opened by Falluja, whose prog-metal music provided a really good start to the evening... I need to listen to them some more!

And if you enjoy these bands, don't miss Marillion's North America tour, which kicks off in San Francisco on October 21st!

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Aftershock schedule: stage times for all bands, plus much more!!!

The band schedules for this year's Aftershock festival, in Discovery Park, Sacramento, have been announced!

This is going to be a good weekend... if you haven't bought tickets yet, I wouldn't wait much longer, as I understand that they are close to sold out.

As well as the music, there will also be a huge amount of things going on: lots of food, drink, entertainment, even golf! (If you didn't have a chance to Keep Golf Metal at last year's Aftershock, it's back!!!)

One thing that I really love about these festivals, is that they always give back to the people... this year, a portion of every ticket fee is being donated to the Living the Dream Foundation. This organization brings the music industry together with fans who are fighting terminal illnesses, by giving them All Access VIP experiences backstage with their favorite bands and artists. Find out more about the foundation on their website.

And for young musicians (and the young-at-heart), be sure to check out the Music Experience, where you can test-drive instruments, enter challenges, and keep an eye out for the musicians who will no doubt be dropping in...

Aftershock schedule 2016 day two

There's lots of other things going on too: check out details below, and see more on the festival website: 

Monday, October 3, 2016

California Capital Airshow... a little deja-vu, and a whole lotta wonder and awe...

B-29 Superfortress
"Fifi', B-29 Superfortress bomber
(UPDATE 7 Oct 2016: All the photo galleries are now live -- click here to see them all..)

Sunday lunchtime, 2nd October, and I'm feeling a little deja-vu. A leaden sky hangs over Mather Field air base, and it looks like it's going to storm, or worse. A week before, I'd been in Houston for Houston Open Air, and Sunday started exactly like this. On Saturday, in Houston, the show had been dramatically cut short, and bands cancelled, due to things outside of the festival organizers' control--the weather. At California Capital Airshow, the Saturday show too had been cut short, again not by choice: the lead pilot for the US Navy Blue Angels was unwell, and for safety's sake, the flight could not happen.

And then here we were, Sunday, and there's a really ominous sky...

Golden Knights parachute team
US Army Golden Knights parachute team
Very happily, the storm cell moved onward and around, just giving us a light sprinkling of rain, and a magnificent, cloudy sky as a backdrop to the show, in contrast to Saturday's beautiful, clear blue. A few accommodations were made by the airshow for the weather--I think the parachutists dropped from a lower height, but still really high, and from a 'copter not a plane--and the entire day's show was wonderful!!!

Mike Wiskus, Lucas Oil, Aerobatics
Mike Wiskus flying the Lucas Oil aerobatics plane... stunning!!!
The incredible aerobatics of Mike Wiskus in the Lucas Oil plane, including a battle with a rocket car; a renactment of World War II, Pacific, Pearl Harbor, including one of the only two remaining B-29 Superfortress bombers, "Fifi" (which means I've had OMD's Enola Gay in my head all day); free-fall parachutisting by the US Army's Golden Knights team... watching the swearing-in of new military recruits; WW II veterans and young military and cadets; the Canadian Air Force jet, and the grand finale, the US Navy Blue Angels, including the "OH SHXT!!!) moment when the solo plane zooms past, as you are still watching the other planes fly away in formation...

US Navy Blue Angels
US Navy Blue Angels... flying upside-down, as you do!
And not forgetting all the on-ground displays, and planes... from a tiny, mirrored Cessna to a huge, enormous, even-bigger-than-that airlift plane. Helicopters and planes-with-folding-wings and troop carriers and... and... and...

This was my first-ever airshow. It will definitely not be the last.

US Navy Blue Angels
US Navy Blue Angels, mid-air pass
The organizers of both California Capital Airshow, and Houston Open Air, each took rapid action for ticket holders when parts of the events were cancelled; CCA allowed everyone with a Saturday ticket to come back on Sunday for free. Houston Open Air issued refunds. One thing this reminds each and every one of us: there is always a risk when you buy a ticket, always something that is out of the control of the organizers, yet which might affect the lineup; weather, and sickness, they happen. I think that everyone who was at the Airshow on Sunday saw a thrilling performance by all... personally I'm still in awe of those dudes who rock the skies with those planes.

US Navy Blue Angels
Wings almost touching, four US Navy Blue Angels in formation
The airshow made me very happy... skylarks and prop planes, grassy airfields and distant hangers all evoke happy and content childhood memories... watching the light aircraft fly into and out of Rearsby Aerodrome, Leicestershire, England, where my dad worked for a while as a carpenter, fitting the interiors of Auster/Beagle aircraft. Watching gliders towed into the sky, and then watching them ride the air for a long, long time, and back to earth again.

Golden Knights parachute team
Carrying in the POW/MIA flag, US Army Golden Knights
I'll be racking up a few more air miles this year, but as a passenger way back in the cabin, preferably of something with more than twenty seats and 747 written somewhere on the fuselage... and preferably with no rolls, and without wings almost touching another plane. That experience is for another day, watching an airshow as good as this one was. Thank you to everyone who organized and participated in California Capital Airshow--it was a great weekend!!!

US Navy Blue Angels
US Navy Blue Angels, solo
(A special shout-out to the person who put the soundtrack together. Who knew metal/hard rock and an airshow went together??? So very cool hearing Nothing More, Shinedown, and others playing while seeing these magnificent planes, and brave/crazy pilots, flying. If you were at the show and wondered what the music was, and enjoyed it too, then you might also enjoy Aftershock festival, coming up soon at Discovery Park. The airshow was my first; make Aftershock your first rock festival!)

NOTE: All the photo galleries are linked below. Follow on Twitter (@alisontoon) and Instagram (@alisontoonphotographer) for announcements of new events and photo galleries!

Photo galleries:

- All galleries
- US Navy Blue Angels
- US Army Golden Knights
- WWII reenactment
- Mike Wisus Lucas Oil
- Canadian and USA Air Forces; Hornet and Viper jets
- Plus planes on the ground, people watching the planes... all the fun of the airshow!

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Highly Suspect at the Boardwalk, Orangevale... time to pre-order The Boy Who Died Wolf

Fans waiting for Highly Suspect
Waiting for Highly Suspect
There were people waiting for the Boardwalk's doors to open, at 5.30 p.m. The posted time for doors was 6.30, but it didn't happen until after 7.30, and by that time, the line was weaving its way around the Boardwalk's parking lot, and down the street. Inside, despite the temperate evening, the A/C was set to Arctic Blast, and if, like me, you forgot to bring your hoodie, ski suit and mittens, you didn't really warm up until Highly Suspect began to play.

Johnny Stevens, vocals, Highly Suspect
Johnny Stevens, Highly Suspect
This threesome from the east coast (originally from Cape Cod, now based in Brooklyn, New York twin brothers Rich and Ryan Meyer and best friend Johnny Stevens), have had a successful year since we saw them here at Aftershock; two Grammy nominations, one for their first full-length album, Mister Asylum, and one for the single, Lydia, taken from the album and if you haven't seen the video, you need to.

Highly Suspect
Highly Suspect, The Boardwalk, Orangevale
Recently releasing a new single, My Name Is Human, from the upcoming new album, The Boy Who Died Wolf (you can preorder it now, expected release is November), the band is seeing a good level of much-deserved radio play.

The live show covers, of course, their best-known songs, including Bath Salts, Lydia, My Name is Human, Serotonia. Mom--already heartbreaking on record--is soul-crushing and hypnotic, live. The show, and the band's repertoire, includes influences from blues to punk to seventies rock (not forgetting a drum solo), and demonstrates, yet again, just how musically-together and talented these guys are. Really excellent musicians... and something really special.

The Highly Suspect tour continues throughout October and into November throughout the USA--and then, a couple of dates in the UK! Don't miss them!!!

Johnny Stevens, vocals, Highly Suspect
Johnny Stevens, vocals and guitar, Highly Suspect
I think we'll be hearing a lot more from Highly Suspect. Did you preorder the next album yet?

More photos in the Highly Suspect photo gallery: click here (there are also photos from Aftershock, too). The lighting on Saturday at the Boardwalk was very, very low... they are what they are.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

It's not the apocalypse: it's the California Capital Air Show!

Dateline Thursday, 29th September, 2016, and the sky is written with strange symbols; now a shooting line, now a drifting face; airplanes rise, and fall, and there's the sound of engines in the sky.

Don't worry. It's not the apocalypse, it's not an invasion, and as far as I know, aliens haven't landed yet. It's the preparation for the California Capital Air Show, which happens this weekend, 1st and 2nd October, at Mather Field.

All the info is on the California Capital Air Show website, click here!

We'll be there!

Headliners?  U. S. Navy Blue Angels! Fat Albert!

Supports: Hornets and Vipers! Superfortress! Jet car! And many more... including a WWII tribute,

Gates open at 9 a.m. and close at 5 p.m. each day. It will cost $10 to park, but there's plenty of parking space, and you can also buy a parking pass and your tickets online to save time on the day. Children under six years of age go free.

See you there!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

British English, American English, music and localiz/sation

I've spent many years working with language, with translations, and also dealing with the differences between British and American English in my daily life. But this week? It's the music... making me notice, making me think.
  • I like music by Shaman's Harvest, but I probably won't mention them to you, or you won't know who I'm talking about, because I pronounce Shaman the British way ("Shay-man" not "Shaa-man")
  • I will probably never, ever sing along to A Day To Remember's new song, Naivety, because... I just cannot pronounce the word that way. To my ears, it's totally wrong. Wondering if they are considering a localized version for sale in the UK and other anglophone markets? The US version either won't work, or it WILL work just-because of the strange-sounding pronounciation to non-US ears...
  • But--the other way around--the most endearing thing I have heard on the radio recently, is Oli Sykes of Bring Me The Horizon telling me that there's "nuffink you can do".  Now THAT'S proper English like how I talk it.
It's not only the written word that needs translating, or rewriting, or adjusting, for another market. It's not only politicians, presenters and business(wo)men whose speech must be interpreted. The way a song, or a band name, is heard and understood can have an effect on music appreciation, and sales, too.

I Survived Houston Open Air!!! (and other such quotes... here's what we DID see, and the refund info)

Houston Open Air
Storm clouds above the festival
So... Houston, We Have A Problem.

HOUSTON, 24t and 25th September 2016: People having fun between the mandatory Code Red storm evacuations, at Houston Open Air
Saturday afternoon crowd, Houston Open Air
Houston Open Air happened this past weekend... or at least, part of it happened, but the majority was under a weather "Code Red", meaning that the entire NRG Park complex, the venue where the festival was being held, had to be evacuated, time and again, because of the real risk of lightning strikes. The weather was oppressively hot and humid; the show was disrupted, and bands cancelled on Saturday, but the show went ahead from late afternoon, when the most threatening storm had moved around without any lightning, little thunder, and just a little rain. Alter Bridge, Ministry, Buckcherry, The Cult, Alice in Chains were all able to perform and put on a really good show for the crowd who had returned, excited, after the Saturday evacuation,

Tom Araya, vocals and bass, Slayer
Slayer, Houston Open Air 2016
On Sunday, just one band, Mothership, was able to perform, before another Code Red was announced, we had to evacuate the site, the rain came down like an ocean, and then the storms just hung around, until the announcement came that the festival was cancelled. The festival organizers have today shared information about ticket refunds:

We want to thank all of you for your support and patience over the past few days. As a result of the weather/safety related delays and cancellations from last weekend’s event, we are offering all buyers the following refund:
  • Saturday Only Ticket— 50% refund of your ticket price.
  • Sunday Only Ticket—100% refund of your ticket price.
  • Two-day Ticket — 75% refund of your ticket price (I.e. 50% refund of the Saturday portion of the ticket price and 100% refund of the Sunday portion of the ticket price.
  • The above refunds apply to all GA and VIP tickets at each applicable price level.
For those of you who purchased via Front Gate Tickets via internet or phone, please email  or call 888-512-7469 to request your refund. All refunds must be requested by Thursday, December 1st, 2016.

If you purchased tickets via a third party such as Groupon, Songkick, or Street Team, please contact that company directly.

Al Jourgensen, vocals, Ministry
Al Jourgensen, Ministry, Houston Open Air
But let's focus on the positive... Ministry were on top, heavy, really-heavy form, Alter Bridge stunning, and Slayer? They slayed the crowd... forgive the pun, but they did. Buckcherry? I want to know what superhero powers Josh Todd has, because that heat and humidity was killing me just jogging from one stage to another, nevermind moving with any kind of energy... The Cult had everyone dancing, at least those of us who were over twenty-two... Alice in Chains (I don't have photos of them, don't bother asking)... they ALL put on huge shows.

Ian Astbury, vocals, The Cult
The Cult, Houston Open Air
Yes, it's a real shame that we didn't get to see all the bands who were scheduled--many were in the middle of tours, and had to move on to the next show immediately. One or two were able to put on pop-up shows in venues around Houston: Avatar stayed in town for an extra night, Avenged Sevenfold found a venue to accommodate a small subset of the festival audience, Deftones made a huge effort too.

Myles Kennedy and Mark Tremonti, Alter Bridge
Alter Bridge, Houston Open Air
If you want to see the sentiments of people who were at the festival, check out social media comments... makes for a fun read. But: it's so very important to note that the safety of the audience, all those thousands of people, and that of the people working at the festival, the security teams, the medics, the vendors, the stage crews, and all the musicians and their staff, were safe. The amount of work that's put into planning, organizing, setting-up and operating a festival? Nobody wants to cancel, nobody. But... safety first.

Josh Todd, vocals and tambourine, Buckcherry
Josh Todd, Buckcherry, Houston Open Air
I usually love thunderstorms. Huge clouds, big weather, angry skies, nature's emotion. But this time... not so much. I'm really glad that I didn't have to witness any musician or stage worker be fried on stage, nor anyone who was sheltering under a tree. It's elementary physics: electricity will take the shortest and easiest route to ground. You know... like down a metal stage support, or a sound-deck tower, or a light pole. You don't shelter under a lone tree during a thunderstorm; you don't mix electricity with water. That's it. Elementary physics. On the other hand... it was Houston, it was September, and September is still hurricane season... weather, beautiful and crazy weather, happens. NRG should have had a more time-efficient way to manage evacuations, not just through one exit from the Park, not just through the main gate, and more permanent places of safety on-site, not just a half-mile-or-further run to a remote parking lot and personal vehicles (the closest doors into the NRG building, by the weird sculpture of the impaled bulls, were closed). Or alternatively... NRG shouldn't market the NRG Park facility as a location for open-air events during hurricane season. Period. In my not-very-humble opinion.

(I've been to many other festivals organized by Danny Wimmer Presents, and without exception, they are well planned, well organized, and well scheduled. The evacuations from this festival happened in a very well-behaved way... it just took a long time, as people had to walk a long way from the stages to their vehicles-of-safety. The evacuations didn't just affect the audience. They effected all the staff working... for example, setting up and soundchecking. Weather happens...)

Leaving NRG Park
Evacuating the venue, in a very orderly manner
In the crowd at the front gate, during Sunday's evacuation, after the torrential rain had subsided, there was a mosh pit, the crowd was singing, "Let the Bodies Hit the Ground", and at least one young woman managed to crowdsurf from the other side of the street to the front.

HOUSTON, 24t and 25th September 2016: People having fun between the mandatory Code Red storm evacuations, at Houston Open Air
"Yes, it's his own hair"
This dude wins the prize for relaxed tolerance; I know his hair is his own, because several young women ran up to test it, then ran back to their friends, "it's real, it's his, it's his own hair".

HOUSTON, 24t and 25th September 2016: People having fun between the mandatory Code Red storm evacuations, at Houston Open Air
Front row, Houston Open Air
If you really think that the show should have gone on during the risk of lightning strikes and heavy rain, then maybe you'll want to plan to go to one of the UK festivals next year. Here's what happened at Download 2016. (aka "Drownload"). Yes, the show went on. Yes, everyone was camping in floodwater, and covered in mud. No, it didn't stop the music, not for long. But you know what? The safety rules are different there, and a killer thunderstorm is rare; it's just wet. The public expectations are different: it always rains at festivals in the UK, it's rare if it doesn't. And to put it bluntly: the weather is different. It's not as extreme. You don't have tornados, or hurricanes, at least not as often or as violent as we do in the USA (though climate change is busy doing its thing). I wouldn't feel anywhere near as much risk in a muddy field near Castle Donnington in Leicestershire, as I did on a street in Houston during hurricane season. So before you clamour to sign a "risk disclaimer" for continuing a festival during a Code Red here, nip over to the UK and try a wet festival first, and see how much you really enjoy it ;-) Just don't forget your wellies!!!

Now, I'm setting sights on Aftershock, here in Sacramento: looking forwards to seeing some of the bands missed this weekend, including Ghost and Avatar. Sevendust and Gemini Syndrome have a date here, at the Ace of Spades. So let's move on and forwards...

Here are the photo galleries (a few more will be added soon, come back and check):

People of Houston Open Airphoto gallery click here
Slayerphoto gallery click here
The Cultphoto gallery click here
Alter Bridgephoto gallery click here
Buckcherryphoto gallery click here
Ministryphoto gallery click here

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Big weekend on its way... wheels up, and yes, there will be F.E.A.R.

Midnight tonight, UK time, Marillion's latest album, the 18th studio album, Fuck Everyone and Run (aka F.E.A.R) will be officially released. Already seeing reviews stating that it's likely the band's best-ever--here's an interview with Steve Hogarth from the UK's TeamRock... and timed just-right for everyone to listen to before the band begins their North America tour in San Francisco on 21st October, at the Regency Ballroom. (Yes, it's the evening before Aftershock festival in Sacramento. Yes, we can do both. Yes, I WILL be at both. We can sleep when we are dead, OK???)

I'll be putting my digital release of F.E.A.R. onto my player for listening to on the flight tomorrow, because I'm heading down to Houston for this weekend's Houston Open Air festival! Alice in Chains, Slayer, Avenged Sevenfold, Deftones, The Cult, Anthrax, Gemini Syndrome... and Dinosaur Pile Up. Among many, many others... a few of whom will also be appearing at Aftershock in October, so expect to see a lot of review/preview posts here on Toon's Tunes/Cameras and Cargos between this weekend and then! (Can't believe it's already three years since Avenged Sevenfold were last at Aftershock... they are appearing at both Houston Open Air and Aftershock in 2016! And I *think* there are a few tickets left, for both, but you'd better get a move on.)

Avenged Sevenfold, Aftershock 2013
Avenged Sevenfold, Aftesrshock 2013

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Kungs, City of Trees, and this city is missing something huge this year

Kungs -- aka Brunel Valentin, from Aix-en-Provence in France--delivered an excellent DJ set at City of Trees this weekend, albeit underlit... we just absorbed the music, and danced in the dark... for certain Sacramentans, this could have gone on all weekend...

(It took me back in time to the two TBD Festivals that were held in West Sacramento. Different venue, rather a different audience, but all loving this kind of music.It reminded me once again how big and diverse the music market is here in Sacramento. This city can, and should, support multiple music events... TBD Fest has left a huge hole, and I'm not going to rehash the reasons why it hasn't happened again. I just hope that someone, someday, has the courage and the financial know-how and integrity to fill that hole again... because dancing in the dark to one excellent DJ set is just not enough for late summer in Sacramento. IMHO.)

Merci encore une fois, Kungs... Hear from Kungs on Souncloud , check Kungs Facebook, and go dance some more!

City of Trees: The Struts, Phantogram and Panic! at the Disco photogalleries

Luke Spiller, vocals, The Struts
Luke Spiller, The Struts, City of Trees 2016
Photo galleries for The Struts, Phantogram and Panic! at the Disco from this weekend's Radio 94.7 City of Trees music festival in Sacramento are now up! Click on one of these photos to go to the full galleries, or see the links below.

The Struts continue to tour throughout the USA until late this year, and their album Everybody Wants is out now! These guys are to see... don't miss an opportunity!

Sarah Barthel, vocals, Phantogram
Sarah Barthel, Phantogram, City of Trees 2016
Phantogram have a huge tour ahead of them; USA, Canada, and then over the pond to Europe. Catch them too!!!

Panic! at the Disco
Panic! at the Disco, City of Trees 2016
And Panic! at the Disco... awesome!!! A couple more dates coming up in the USA, then they are off to Europe, and a major tour of Australia... most of which are already sold out!!!

Here are the full galleries:

Panic! at the Disco
The Struts

If you want to share any of these images on social media, there is a share button on each picture, please use it :-)