Wednesday, December 31, 2014

So what are you doing tonight? Fireworks, fun, music? Lots to choose from!


There's TBDfest's New Year's Eve block party, with Gigamesh, Oliver, Sister Crayon and more. I hope you have tickets already, cos it's sold out!!! Dress up warmly!!!



And there's Sac of Stars at the Boardwalk with Korean Fire Drill, Clockwork Hero, and many other Sacramento favourites.

And there are fireworks (two shows!) and much more in Old Sacramento: check it all out here on the NYE page.

And that's just the tip of the iceberg (and yes, it's chilly, but only relative to our usual nights)!

Whatever you are planning on doing... keep safe, don't drink and drive and watch out for those who do. See you next year!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

And that was 2014: a musical roundup!

Author & Punisher live
Author & Punisher
Thinking back over 2014, and what a year it was. Early on: Author and Punisher, lionfight, Otep... then later, Bret Michaels and Blackjack Billy.... So much music! As a photographer, sometimes I listen as much with my eyes as with my ears at concerts. At the end of this post, you'll see why. But first, here's my summary of the year that's about to come to a close! (And if you want to scroll back through the year, use the archive link ---> over there on the right!)

Adam Granduciel, The War on Drugs, TBD Fest, 2014
Adam Granduciel, The War on Drugs, TBD Fest, 2014
MOST LISTENED-TO ALBUM, at least in the last quarter of the year:  The War On Drugs, Lost in the Dream. After seeing them for the first time at TBD Fest here in Sacramento, I was lost in the album. The subliminal notes from Dire Straits, Bob Dylan; the opening of Red Eyes so reminiscent of the opening of Dry Land... and the most sublime transitions in Suffering that just turn my heart inside-out, and the so-danceable and intense An Ocean Between The Waves. How could this fail to become one of my most-listened to albums? Then there's competition with Gemini Syndrome's LUX, which continues to be one of my most-listened-to albums of recent years... and Marillion's Sounds That Can't Be Made, But both of these were released prior to 2014, so what will 2015 bring?

Ivan Moody of FFDP (Five Finger Death Punch) and Alison Toon of Toon's Tunes
Ivan Moody of FFDP (Five Finger Death Punch) and Alison Toon of Toon's Tunes
BEST FESTIVAL, difficult choice, as each festival covered this year was unique and very, very memorable. From Cropredy in England with flags and rain and Marillion to TBD Fest in a dusty Sacramento construction site... all were wonderful experiences. But Aftershock always stands out, and this year was immensley memorable for the chat with Ivan Moody of Five Finger Death Punch. (Photo credit Karli Hughes.)

Marillion, Cropredy festival, 2014
Steve Hogarth (H), Marillion, Cropredy festival, 2014
BIGGEST REGRET: Not seeing Gemini Syndrome live this year. However, I did get to spend some time chatting Brian Steele Medina... and will be there next year, somewhere, somehow! Also... not making it to Knotfest, as I had to be somewhere-else at the same time. Maybe we can fix that in 2015?

Fans waiting for Five Finger Death Punch, Aftershock 2014
Fans waiting for Five Finger Death Punch, Aftershock 2014
GREATEST CROWD: The People Of Aftershock, of course!

The Soft White Sixties at the Assembly, Sacramento
The Soft White Sixties at the Assembly, Sacramento
BEST DISCOVERIES: A whole list of music new-to-me, including The Last Internationale, The Red Paintings, The War On Drugs, and, way back in April, The Soft White Sixties. They are phenomenal and I really, really want to see them again in 2015. And don't forget Sacramento's own The Three Way!!!

Rob Zombie at Aftershock 2014, Sacramento
Rob Zombie at Aftershock 2014, Sacramento
MOST DIFFICULT TO "SHOOT": Other than the usual local low-light venues, which are always ridiculous, I have to rate Rob Zombie's show at Aftershock the most tricky to photograph. Not only was the lighting difficult, I was squished between two speaker stacks and two videographers who blocked the view of the stage. But... you just work with it!

BEST INDOORS LIVE PERFORMANCES: one of these might just have been at the very end of the year... those of you who wrote your lists before the end of December might have missed One-Eyed Doll!

The Three Way live March 2014
The Three Way, March 2014
MOST-ENJOYED LOCAL BANDS: Sacramento has a lot of talent, a lot of performers, and a lot of bands who are weekend-warrior-locals. Some of whom really stand out, probably because they constantly work at their music, learn and grow: (and for me, most important: they sing on-key!)  It will be interesting to see what happens in 2015, as some of my favourites have lineup changes, some are touring, some have albums out. Check out especially Zeroclient. The Three Way, Fair Struggle, A Mile Till Dawn, The Alpha Complex, FallRise,  Journal.

MOST-ANTICIPATED FOR NEXT YEAR: Marillion weekends!  Aftershock 2015!!! And--hopefully will make it there in 2015--Knotfest!!!

LEAST CHANGED IN FOREVER: Steve Hackett. He must have a portrait in the attic.

FAVOURITE PHOTO OF 2014: This one of Nic Astacio, lionfight. And it explains why I love photographing performers... of any kind of music, and often with the most inapropriate lenses for the lighting conditions. Because of moments like this.

Nick Astacio, Lionfight live Sacramento 2014
Nick Astacio, lionfight, Sacramento 2014

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Toon's Tunes Christmas Day playlist... because you have to!


Blue Christmas, Elvis Presley
Do You Hear What I Hear?, Whitney Houston
Gaudete, Steeleye Span
Happy Xmas (War Is Over), John Lennon
I Believe In Father Christmas, Greg Lake
I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day, Wizzard
Joys Of Christmas, Chris Rea
Last Christmas, George Michael
Little Drummer Boy, Wyclef Jean
Lonely This Christmas, Mud
Merry Christmas Everybody!, Slade
Peace On Earth/Little Drummer Boy, Bing Crosby and David Bowie
River, Nashville Cast
River, Robert Downey Jr.
Santa Claus is Coming To Town, Bruce Springsteen
Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree, Mary J Blige
Thank God It's Christmas, Queen
Walking In The Air, Aled Jones
White Christmas, Stiff Little Fingers
Ave Maria, Stevie Wonder
Christmas Card from a Hooker..., Tom Waits
Fairytale of New York, The Pogues
White Christmas, Ally McBeal cast
Silent Night, Sinead O'Conner
Step Into Christmas, Elton John
Happy Xmas (War is Over), Marillion  (YouTube link cos not yet on iTunes in the USA)

You know where to find them all!  Merry Christmas, happy Thursday everyone!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

One-Eyed Doll at the Boardwalk, Orangevale. A summary. A horror show. Sheer musical genius!

Kimberly Freeman, guitar and vocals, One-Eyed Doll, Orangevale, CA
Kimberly Freeman,  One-Eyed Doll, Orangevale
A One-Eyed Doll show. Brilliant! (And at the Boardwalk in Orangevale: nice and intimate.)

Let me try to paint the picture... Pippi Longstocking meets Marilyn Manson for a cup of tea with Edgar Allen Poe in a house designed by Tim Burton. Then there's a pope, the devil, a royal queen, a telephone call on a dismembered leg; a little-girl-lost, a big heavy metal guitar, a voice that sends shivers up your spine (and that has nothing to do with the lyrics, but they'll have the same effect, though it might be laughter too); darn good drums played by sorta-Father-Christmas, smoke, lasers, a mushroom head-hat, a Scorpion,.. did I miss anyone? Probably...

Kimberly Freeman, guitar and vocals, One-Eyed Doll, Orangevale, CA
Kimberly Freeman,  One-Eyed Doll, Orangevale
Don't go to a One-Eyed Doll show expecting to be an audience. You're part of the show, whether it's voting for your religion (Twinkies? Yoyos?), affirming the humanity of serial killers, turning your back while Kimberly changes clothes, getting up on stage because you're wearing a One-Eyed Doll t-shirt, or helping to kill that damn scorpion... And it is so much fun. And such good, very good, music.

Junior, drums, One-Eyed Doll, Orangevale, CA
Junior, One-Eyed Doll, Orangevale
On the road for more than 300 days a year, these guys truly work at their art and their music--and it shows. This is entertainment, this is professional, this is dark-and-heavy-and-fun music, and I don't want to miss another show.

Kimberly Freeman, guitar and vocals, One-Eyed Doll, Orangevale, CA
Kimberly Freeman,  One-Eyed Doll, Orangevale
Kimberly plays a signature Tregan guitar. In case you want to treat yourself. Still time before Christmas, right?

Kimberly Freeman, guitar and vocals, One-Eyed Doll, Orangevale, CA
Kimberly Freeman,  One-Eyed Doll, Orangevale
Watch out for One-Eyed Doll back on the road soon, and with a new album too: keep an eye here and here.

Full set of photos from the show in the Toon's Tunes One-Eyed Doll photo gallery. Or just click on one of the photos above.

For a review of the show at the Ace of Spades last year, click here.

Monday, December 8, 2014

I'm Down with that!

Phil Anselmo, Down, Sacramento
Phil Anselmo, Down, Sacramento
Brilliant show last night at the Ace of Spades: "The Punk Rock but Kinda Not" tour, headlined by Down, and the inimitable Phil Anselmo. Mr. Anselmo was present from the moment the show opened: waving to his Sacramento fans from the dressing-room steps, enjoying the three support acts from there too.

Opening act, King Parrot, is not to be missed. If you're heading to one of the other shows on the tour, don't be late! Seriously... punk/rocl/metal from Australia, in-your-face (literally), and don't be afraid of a little fresh water.

Youngy, vocals, King Parrot, Sacramento
Youngy, vocals, King Parrot, Sacramento
Bl'ast rock it up, too. Loads of energy and the night screeches and moshes along. Get in the pit or be square.
Clifford Dinsmore, vocals, Bl'ast
Clifford Dinsmore, vocals, Bl'ast
English metal band, Orange Goblin. How is it that I know English metal, as opposed to US or Swedish or anything else, from the first heavy guitar notes and the sound of the drum? It's the Sabbath/Maiden heritage I guess...

Ben Ward, Orange Goblin, Sacramento
Ben Ward, Orange Goblin, Sacrament
Prior to the show, the sound tech (who was not short) was standing on tiptoe to adjust Ben Ward's mic stand. Looked like he was setting up for someone 9 foot 5" tall. Whatever... Oh but then Ben walks on stage, and of course, he IS 9 foot 5" tall, and with a metal voice to match. Very, very enjoyable!

And then... Down! The stage was cleared: no stands, no monitors, no impedements to movement, Brilliant! (I think Down may be my favourite Anselmo incarnation... a tad more melodic and less death, but with the usual intense energy and interaction with the audience). The crowd was boisterous, metal, heavy, angry at times, but heck, it was Down!

Down (the band), Sacramento
Down, Ace of Spades, Sacramento
More, many miore photos will be added to the galleries later this week! The full set of Down photos are now in the Toon's Tunes Down photo Gallery. All the King Parrot shots too... and Bl'ast... and Orange Goblin!  Click the links or on a photo above and scroll left and right from there.

Friday, December 5, 2014

The Birthday Massacre, Superstition, and a date in Sacramento

The Birthday Massacre, Sacramento
The Birthday Massacre, Sacramento
The Birthday Massacre are headlining a major tour of the USA, and recently released a new album, Superstition, playing many of the new songs at the Ace of Spades on Wednesday evening, along with older favourites. Big lineup for the entire tour: The Red Paintings, New Years Day, The Birthday Massacre, and supporting them in Sacramento were two local bands, Snow White Smile and Awoken Shadows.

Chibi, vocals, The Birthday Massacre, Sacramento
Chibi, vocals, The Birthday Massacre, Sacramento
Not quite a full house, but almost. And a lot, a lot of fans. Dressed in harmony with the music; individual, unique; a mix of rock, goth, spooky and Tim Burton. Skyscraper-high platform boots; torn fishnets, an illuminated tutu, leather, lace and black eyeliner.

The Birthday Massacre, Sacramento
The Birthday Massacre, Sacramento
Sweet-and-creepy songs: guitar and synth; purple-pink light (hence the elusive images, and the monochrome, and hunting for that last drop of light, because that-low, that-colour-LED-light just doesn't work well for photos.). Slightly dreamy...

The Birthday Massacre, Sacramento
The Birthday Massacre, Sacrament
The tour continues a little longer--be quick if you want to catch a show! And check out Superstition: available from your usual music outlet!

More photos from The Birthday Massacre in the Toon's Tunes gallery. Or just click on the photos in this post and travel there like magic!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

The Red Paintings: a review

Trash McSweeney, vocals and guitar, The Red Paintings, Sacramento,
Trash McSweeney, The Red Paintings, Sacramento
Last night, I was at the Ace of Spades to photograph and to review The Birthday Massacre... not expecting to be hijacked by one of the support acts. Right in the middle of the show, The Red Paintings. Quirky, incredibly musical, entertaining, and just... wonderful.

Alix Kol, violin, The Red Paintings, Sacramento,
Alix Kol, The Red Paintings, Sacramento
Led by singer-songwriter Trash McSweeney, The Red Paintings started in Australia, but have strong fanbases in Europe and here in the USA; they also have something very unique. "Orchestral rock"... maybe. Theatrical? Yes, indeed.. Is it art? Entirely. Brilliant music? Absolutely.

(Seems that I'm seeing a lot of Australian musicians this year: Empire of the Sun at TBD Fest, The Australian Pink Floyd Show at Cropredy...)

Art on stage, The Red Paintings, Sacramento,
Art on stage, The Red Paintings, Sacramento
Geisha bass player. Wonderful violin. R2D2 on Trash McSweeney's back. A young woman being body-painted at stage left, an artist painting on a canvas at stage right. These are not distractions. These are within the song.

Bass player, The Red Paintings, Sacramento,
The Red Paintings, Sacramento
Check out "Streets Fell Into My Window", from The Red Paintings' album, The Revolution Is Never Coming, for an example.


More photos from The Red Paintings show can be found in the Toon's Tunes photo gallery.

(I am still not convinced by the idea that concerts now have to have five bands--or more--in the lineup. They've become snippet shows, like mini-festivals, when each band only has time to play a few new songs and a few of the ones their audience knows... and the audience is mixed, some there for one band, some another. Yes, you're exposed to music that you might not otherwise have heard, but... there's something to be said for a hall full of fans, and a concentration of one performer's music. One opener, and the main act. But instead, it's five or six songs from one, and then off with his head and on to the next, and the next, and the next, until the evening's all gone. I'm really glad I saw The Red Paintings as part of a five-band tour, but next time... I hope it's a headline show, and a full concert, not just part of one.)

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Dead Sara, women in rock, and you are entitled to say "it's about time, too!"

Emily Armstrong, vocals, Dead Sara, Aftershock 2013
Emily Armstrong, vocals, Dead Sara, Aftershock 2013
Can't believe I still hadn't posted the photos from Dead Sara's set at Aftershock 2014. Sorry. My-very-bad.

Emily Armstrong, vocals, Dead Sara, Aftershock 2013
Emily Armstrong, vocals, Dead Sara, Aftershock 2013
That girl certainly can scream... but she (Emily Armstrong) can really sing, too. If you haven't heard Dead Sara before, check out Lemon Scent or Weatherman on YouTube. (And if you're wondering where the band's name came from, listen to Stevie Nicks singing Sara, and you might work it out.

Siouxsie Medley, guitar, Dead Sara, Aftershock 2013
Siouxsie Medley, guitar, Dead Sara, Aftershock 2013
I've said it before and I'll say it no doubt a few times more... a metal vocalist is like an abstract painter, the best are those who have worked on the traditional art (singing, or drawing/painting), before moving to the abstract (metal scream-growl or abstract art). There are some who could take lessons from Emily Armstrong... in my humble opinion. Or not so humble, as the case may be.)

Chris Null, bass, Dead Sara, Aftershock 2013
Chris Null, bass, Dead Sara, Aftershock 2013

Sean Friday, drums, Dead Sara, Aftershock 2013
Sean Friday, drums, Dead Sara, Aftershock 2013
There is a rumour of a new Dead Sara album coming sometime soon... there are still a few weeks left ini 2014, but will this be one that waits until the new year? Something to look forwards to!

All Toon's Tunes photos from Dead Sara's set at Aftershock 2014 are in the photo gallery. Or click on any of the photos and you'll magically be transported there.