Monday, September 30, 2013

Aftershocks of Aftershock...

I have loads more to write, and it will come over time. Balancing a full-time job, an overgrown garden, and my love for music photography.

You can browse all the photos here: 

If you were there, and want to contribute a story to Toon's Tunes, let me know!

ALISON TOON: Avenged Sevenfold &emdash; Avenged7X-Aftershock2013-4878-HR
Avenged Sevenfold: stage art

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Augustines and Frightened Rabbit, at Sacramento's Ace of Spades, 28th September

Moral of the evening: always get to the venue on time to see the support acts, because there may
be a gem, and you might enjoy them better than the headliners.

ALISON TOON: Augustines &emdash; Augustines-AoS-28Sep2013-0714
Billy McCarthy of Augustines

Take last night for example: Augustines, opening for Frightened Rabbit. I'd neither seen, nor
heard, either of them before, but I knew that Frightened Rabbit were from Scotland and had sold
out a show at the Fillmore in San Francisco a couple of years back. Thought they'd be worth

But it was Augustines who kept me entranced during their entire set. I'm a sucker for an
animated, emotional frontman (or woman), and Billy McCarthy is all that. His voice is edgy; I
loved the song about Philadelphia, city of brotherly love: just McCarthy singing, and Eric Sanderson on piano.

ALISON TOON: Augustines &emdash; Augustines-AoS-28Sep2013-0798
For a three-piece band, they have a presence and a sound that I want to hear more of. (McCarthy grew up here, in Placer county, so it was a trip back home... his rapport with the audience snapped in place when he asked, "Who else here has spent a night in the county jail?", and more-than-one of the crowd also raised their hands. Quite a few more than one. Seems a bit of a coming-of-age ritual here.)

ALISON TOON: Augustines &emdash; Augustines-AoS-28Sep2013-3305

"Cruel City," the first single from the upcoming album, AUGUSTINES, is available now. Buy it: and stream it: You can find Augustines on the web at or on Facebook too.

Then it was time for Frightened Rabbit. My first impression? That the band was well named: either afraid, or shy, of showing their faces (backlit by strobes and a decent light show, but no illumination on the most expressive part of a musician, their faces), and boy, how the heck many of them are there
on stage??? Far more than the five band members listed on Facebook... That was my first and lasting impression.

ALISON TOON: Frightened Rabbit &emdash; FrightenedRabbit-AoS-28Sep2013-3340
There was a lot of faffing about on stage between the sets which seemed to go on for a very long time. The wiring looked complex, and there was a lot of twiddling with cables and settings before the band came on stage. An impressive rack of guitars, waiting for the show, hidden behind the speaker stack stage right. And a huge array of lighting, which was, once the music started, as loud as the band, and more complex.

ALISON TOON: Frightened Rabbit &emdash; FrightenedRabbit-AoS-28Sep2013-3404

Earlier in the evening, I'd stared quite impolitely at a young man whose face was painted like a
cat. I was thinking, "but it's not Hallowe'en yet!", until it clicked: he wasn't painted like a
cat, but like a rabbit. No ears though and no bunny tail, so it really wasn't that obvious.

Sorry for staring.

 ALISON TOON: Frightened Rabbit &emdash; FrightenedRabbit-AoS-28Sep2013-3418

The light show was interesting. Realising after one song that I'd not succeed with photos from the pit, I went to the back of the venue, and shot for the atmosphere, and the audience, rather than documentary. See what you think.

ALISON TOON: Frightened Rabbit &emdash; FrightenedRabbit-AoS-28Sep2013-3467

I went away from this show knowing that I'd listen to Augustines again... not so sure about the Rabbit, frightened or otherwise.

Augustines and Frightened Rabbit are on a major USA tour, with some dates in Canada, too: find out here when to catch them close to you.

Click on a photo to go to the Augustines or Frightened Rabbit galleries for more photos from the show.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Aftershock review: Five Finger Death Punch

I'd been looking forwards to seeing and hearing Five Finger Death Punch, and I was not disappointed.

ALISON TOON: Five Finger Death Punch &emdash; 5FDP-Aftershock2013-4741-HR
Ivan Moody
From the dark, arty set with cut-metal backdrop and an intriguing mic stand, to the high-energy musical performance, it was a visual and audible treat.

Ivan Moody is a fascinating frontman. One moment, he's the archetypical heavy-metal, thrash-death songster. He's a sprite who leaps around the stage, a blur of movement. He's the angry guy you don't want your daughter to bring home... then suddenly, and above all, he's the naughty boy at the back of the class, pulling the girls' hair, flicking spit-balls across the room, but never really getting into trouble, because he carries a cheeky grin and twinkle that says "oops" and saves him every time.

ALISON TOON: Five Finger Death Punch &emdash; 5FDP-Aftershock2013-4713-HR
Zoltán Báthory
Not an easy show to photograph: back-lit, dark, with constant movement. I hope these do it justice.

I plan on seeing them again.

Their fifth studio album, The Wrong Side of Heaven and the Righteous Side of Hell, Volume 2, is due to be released on November 19th, (Volume one has been available since July 30th this year.) If you buy the deluxe edition, you receive two discs (or the equivalent download): one is studio recordings, one a live album.

ALISON TOON: Five Finger Death Punch &emdash; 5FDP-Aftershock2013-4030-HR
Chris Kael
Five Finger Death Punch are currently touring Canada, the USA, then off to the UK and Europe, and then Australia. If you catch them on the North America side, you'll also see Gemini Syndrome (a great reason NOT TO MISS this tour), and also Escape the Fate. In Europe, they are with Avenged Sevenfold and playing major arena venues in England! All said--a great tour, well worth the price of a ticket. Bring me along with you, please.

To see the full set of photos from Five Finger Death Punch at Aftershock 2013, click on any of the photos, or click here to go directly to the gallery. 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

SacWorldFest coming soon! Music and dance from around the world

How quickly the year turns...

The weekend of October 5th and 6th sees Sacramento's SacWorldFest happening in the old town--Old Sacramento. It's a showcase of music and dance and food from around the world, with this year's Saturday evening show featuring a spotlight on Native America, on the Waterfront stage, Front Street.

Last year's festival was a lot of fun. If you missed it, here are some highlights, and a taste of what you'll find at this year's event. I hope to see you there!

SacWorldFest 2012 review and photos

Monday, September 23, 2013

Aftershock review: Shinedown. Burn baby burn!


ALISON TOON: Shinedown &emdash; Shinedown-Aftershock2013-5456
Hands-down, Shinedown put on the most exotic and impressive stage show of the festival.  Flames and fire and smoke and carnival and fire-eaters and fire-blowers and halloween faces and more smoke. A mind-blowing set, revealed by the curtain that had been in place for hours, dropping to reveal the band and performers, back-lit by gouts of burning air. Just amazing! And the crowd loved it all. Definitely one of the highlights of a weekend where every band put everything they had into their performances.

Avenged Sevenfold also had pyrotechnics, but I think Shinedown won on the sheer overkill-visual stimulus.

ALISON TOON: Shinedown &emdash; Shinedown-Aftershock2013-5469

Smoke and fire and spooky characters and a strong, if a little bombastic, front man.

Every time I hear Shinedown, the first few moments of the song, I think, Why the heck do I not listen to them all the time? Brent Smith's huge vocal range! Wow! But then... by the middle of the song, I'm already bored. I have to say that their set at Aftershock had the same effect. Visuals-apart. Half-way through the set, I'm ready for Korn.

Why? Hard to put a finger on the reason. The music is good. The vocals are strong. The show is impeccable... and yet, the songs seem somewhat formulaeic: written to please the consumer, as the perfect rock songs, which take turns exactly as expected, no suprises: rather than songs that come from a raw need to write the music and who the heck cares if anyone likes it or not. I prefer the raw need to the calculation, always have. But I do understand, very well, the need to earn a living and pay the mortgage.

ALISON TOON: Shinedown &emdash; Shinedown-Aftershock2013-5499
Singer Brent Smith reminded me of someone. Or actually of two someones.

The first, I recognized immediately. He has the same physical build and demeanour as G., my friend and karate-brother-in-crime in France. I recognised G in Brent Smith's posture: G first trained in Shotokan before joining us in Shito-ryu: Brent Smith kept up a very impressive, Shotokan-deep shiko-dachi stance throughout most of the first two songs, with an occasional turn into zenkutso-dachi. Very Shotokan. Hmm.

ALISON TOON: Shinedown &emdash; Shinedown-Aftershock2013-5508

The second "deja-vu" was a much more obscure and subtle connection to TV programs I watched and loved years back, in England, and I really have no idea why Brent made me think of them. It wasn't until I was editing all the photos, and remembering him saying over (and over, and over) again that Rock Is Not Dead (why say this to 20,000 people who are quite obviously rock fans?) that I realised who else he reminded me of. Not one character, but two: Rick from The Young Ones. AKA Ric Mayall. Wolfie, from Citizen Smith. AKA Robert Lindsay.

If I work out why, I'll let you know.

I hope Brent has a (British) sense of humour... I hope so, they are on their way across the pond to the UK, as part of their tour: check out the dates on their website!

Anyway: the Shinedown visual show was mindblowing. Seriously. Great job!

ALISON TOON: Shinedown &emdash; Shinedown-Aftershock2013-810
For more photos from the Shinedown set, click on any of the photos to go the full gallery.

For other Aftershock reviews and photos, go to Toon's Tunes home page.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Aftershock review: A Day To Remember

One very memorable act, in a weekend of unforgettable shows where every performer gave their all, was, aptly, A Day To Remember, who performed on Sunday 15th September at the time of early-evening when the sun was hitting them right in-the-eye.

ALISON TOON: A Day To Remember &emdash; ADayToRemember-Aftershock2013-3866-HR
Whose show involved more-than-the-average number of crowdsurfers, a banana man, a rubber dinghy, walking-on-the-crowd in a giant hamster ball while still singing? The hardcore-pop-punk band from Ocala, Florida, of course!

And don't forget the members of the audience being flung ten feet or more into the air from a picnic blanket? (I still don't know what inspired them to do that. It seemed to surprise singer Jeremy McKinnon as much as anyone else in the close-to-20,000-people crowd. We watched, open-mouthed, as one person after another appeared, mid-air, then hurtled earthwards again. The same person didn't appear more than a couple of times. I had visions of them laying, discarded, mashed into the ground when they missed the blanket or it ripped down the middle or something.)

ALISON TOON: A Day To Remember &emdash; ADayToRemember-Aftershock2013-3878-HR
I don't know if the blanket-tossing was in any way related to A Day To Remember's music, or if it was a sort of post-punk-extreme-pogoing. Maybe someone would care to enlighten me? Comment below!

ALISON TOON: A Day To Remember &emdash; ADayToRemember-Aftershock2013-4422-HR
And can someone please let me into the banana secret? Is it all about Florida? Or is there something else? There had been an inflatable banana surfing the crowd for most of the day.

I'd made my way back around the huge crowd to the area at stage left, where there was a small hill with a great view over the crowd, but not so much visibility of the far stage. So when Jeremy McKinnon rolled off the stage and onto the crowd in his huge bubble, it was a huge surprise. And he kept on singing! That's what you call "supportive fans"!

The banana man was on stage, firing something (t-shirts?) into the crowd with the sort of bazooka that Slamson, the Sacramento Kings' mascot, uses during half-time. Then he appeared with his rubber dinghy. Launched it onto the crowd (theory: crowdsurf = surf = ocean = boat?) and then clambered on board for a rocky ride around the front of the audience.

ALISON TOON: People having fun &emdash; People-Aftershock2013-4576

 Was it "my" music? Probably not. But was it (really) entertaining? Absolutely!

Click on the photos to see the complete gallery of A Day To Remember images.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Aftershock review: Gemini Syndrome. And Lux. Their first album, now available.

One year since the first Aftershock. One year since I first saw Gemini Syndrome. One year during which I've been listening to their music, and waiting for the album.

A lot can happen in a year. Gemini Syndrome have been signed by Warner Bros. They've toured the country (but only this week back to Sacramento: closest was Sparks, NV, on 4th July). And immediately after Aftershock, they left to tour with Five Finger Death Punch on "The Wrong Side of Heaven". 

Aaron Nordstrom, Gemini Syndrome, Aftershock 2013
There's so much that is right about Gemini Syndrome. The music is a brutal mix of beautiful melodies and top-notch metal, driven by all that is right with rock music. The live show is energetic, visual, engaging. They have the happiest drummer on the planet. The artwork on their website, on the album packaging and the set of cards, one for each track, that came with the deluxe album, is just stunning. They are building a strong, core set of fans each time they perform. Synners. Family.

Alessandro Paveri, bass, Gemini Syndrome, Aftershock 2013

"LUX", Gemini Syndrome's first album, was released on September 10th. While a couple of the songs were released earlier and on video (Basement, Pleasure and Pain), LUX shows clearly that Gemini Syndrome are here. To stay.

Gemini Syndrome are Aaron Nordstrom (vocals), Rich Juzwick (guitar), Mike Salerno (guitar), Alessandro (AP) Paveri (bass), and Brian Steele Medina (drums).

Brian Steele Medina, drummer, Gemini Syndrome, Aftershock 2013

And yes, I do declare he's the happiest drummer on the planet. There's a twinkle in his eye as he drives the beat like an oncoming locomotive. AP's life is written all over him, in twenty years of multicoloured ink, and it comes out through the ocean-deep bass. Makes my day to see him smile. Rich and Mike's balanced guitar rocks out there; Mike has the deep voice, Rich sparks energy: Aaron's lead vocals range from raw metal scream and growl to sensitive, soulful.

Understand something: this is not my "safe" music. Safe is old-fashioned rock (wait for my Avenged Sevenfold review; Buckcherry too). Safe is progressive (prog) rock. Safe is reggae.

Rich Juzwick, Gemini Syndrome, Aftershock 2013

This is over-the-edge for me. And I love it.

Mike Salerno, Gemini Syndrome, Aftershock 2013

Fellow prog fans out there: get out of the pub, and listen to Mourning Star. You might like it as much as I do. Check out the artwork too...

Stardust is beautifully and aggressively haunting. The whole album is. Listen to it, over and over again. Well worth the year's wait.

Click on any of the photos to see the full gallery from this year's Aftershock festival. Also, search this blog for other Gemini Syndrome postings.

Aftershock review: Otherwise

When you hear a band for the first time, right at the beginning of the weekend festival, and the enjoyment of what they are playing begins with no expectations, yet grows with each and every song of the set, and then you go home and buy their album and listen to them all over again... that's good, right?
Otherwise, Aftershock 2013
Adrian Patrick, Otherwise, Aftershock 2013
That's what happened to me with Otherwise. They grew on me. With the crescendo being "Soldiers", last song of their set at Aftershock, first of their singles. (Listen out for "Vegas Girls", too.)

Otherwise, Aftershock 2013
Ryan Patrick, Otherwise, Aftershock 2013

Fronted by vocalist Adrian Patrick (who appeared on In This Moment's single, "The Promise", in 2012), the band hails from 'Vegas: with Adrian's brother Ryan Patrick and Andrew Pugh on guitars, Vassilios Metropoulos on bass, Corky Gainsford on drums.

Otherwise, Aftershock 2013
Otherwise, Aftershock 2013
Portions of the sale of "Soldiers" is donated to the Wounded Warrior project, according to the band's website. Another good reason to buy it. If you needed another reason.

True Love Never Dies is their album. I recommend it.

Click here to see the full gallery from Toon's Tunes gallery of Otherwise images from the Aftershock festival.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Catching up and moving forwards--Josh Groban, Judith Hill, and amazing voices

I owe you:
That was one hectic week last week... I need an (empty) weekend to catch up.

But before I do... just realised I hadn't written about Josh Groban. Josh will be performing at Sacramento's Sleep Train Arena on Sunday, October 6th--part of his "In The Round" tour, supported by Judith Hill.

If you don't know Josh, he has one of the clearest, purest and strongest voices ever. It's like listening to liquid beauty. I've seen him draw people open-mouthed across Fry's shop floor, to stand, gaping, at a recording on a large-screen TV. And yet, he's tucked away in the "easy listening" section of the record store, and dragged out at Christmas to sing carols. If you keep your radio tuned to rock stations, you might not have heard him--or you may have dismissed him as yet-another-musak-maker when wandering the mall at the end of the year.

I first listened to Josh on a transatlantic flight, when skimming through the on-board selection of music. Then I had his album on repeat all the way from London to San Francisco.

Yes, a lot of his recordings are "easy". Yes, I think it's a waste that he doesn't do rock more often. But yes, he is absolutely worth listening to. And he does do more than "easy listening".

Try Brave, for example:

Now that's a voice...

Opening for Josh is Judith Hill. You may have seen and heard her on NBC's "The Voice", if you watch TV talent shows. Judith was one of Michael Jackson's backup singers, can be seen in this year's movie "20 Feet From Stardom". She's recording her first solo for release later this year. And she, too, has an amazing voice.

Judith grew up in a musical family, was immersed in it from birth: her father, Robert "Pee Wee" Hill a funk bassist who played with Sly Stone, Jimmy Smith and Bob Dylan among others, and her mother, Michiko Hill, keyboardist with Chaka Khan, Wayne Shorter, Billy Preston. And they also run a recording studio. Cool place to grow up! After spending time in the background of great stars such as Michael Jackson and Michel Polnareff, it's now Judith's turn to take the spotlight. I'm looking forwards to seeing her progress.

It's going to be a great show. Yes, I still have (big) reservations about the sound quality at Sleep Train, but this show will be on a round stage, in the center of the arena, and like with a basketball game, the acoustics should hopefully work perfectly with that arrangement. It's well worth expecting that the sound will be better this time, and buying a ticket.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Aftershock review: Butcher Babies

Last year, I noted that there were no women performing at Aftershock. This year, at the
now-two-day-festival, we saw quite a few female performers: fronting In This Moment,
Halestorm, ... and Butcher Babies.

ALISON TOON: Butcher Babies &emdash; ButcherBabies-Aftershock2013-1798-HR

I've listened to Butcher Babies' music. I knew that, for me, the show would be more about seeing
two beautiful women on stage, fronting a heavy metal band, rather than hearing the band's music live. I didn't hear anything to change that expectation, but really I did enjoy their show: these women rock! They drew a large crowd (including all the guys from the photo pit) to the Ernie Ball stage where
they were performing, right across the other side of Discovery Park from the main stages.

ALISON TOON: Butcher Babies &emdash; ButcherBabies-Aftershock2013-1716-HR
It's a great formula for success: beautiful women and heavy metal--up and in front, not just decorating
the sidelines. I just wish there was more singing, and less death-metal-screaming. That is,
of course, my personal opinion, and one you've heard before on Toon's Tunes, regardless of
gender or genre. I like vocalists who let their true voices be heard.

ALISON TOON: Butcher Babies &emdash; ButcherBabies-Aftershock2013-1673-HR
Heidi also appeared as a guest on stage with Asking Alexandria on the Sunday of the
festival. A slightly different style: her voice really complemented Asking Alexandria, as
they sang Final Episode together.

Heidi Shephard and Carla Harvey front Butcher Babies, with the guys on guitar (Henry
Flury), bass (Jason Klein), and drums (Chris Warner). Their first album together,
GOLIATH, is on sale now, and they will be touring with Danzig in October.

Find out more on their website:

If you missed out on Butcher Babies merch at Aftershock, you can find it in their store: 

See more photos in the slide show below or, if it doesn't work in your browser or phone, go to the gallery:

If you enjoy Butcher Babies, then check out Otep too!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Aftershock review: Steel Panther

Beginning the Aftershock reviews with Steel Panther; not because they were the first or last band on stage, nor the most well-know... but because they completely cracked me up. They were hilarious. Musical too, but first and foremost: hilarious. So crude, so rude, so over-the-top-80's-hair-band-glam-rock-parody of themselves, the rock heros; songs about easy girls and partying-all-night and rock-and-roll-sex and giant male body parts and looking like a fat(ter) Bret Michaels.

ALISON TOON: Steel Panther &emdash; SteelPanther-Aftershock2013-252-HR

(They have an album called "Balls Out". It's that type of humour. Brilliant. Don't play it to Great Aunt Hilda though, she'll either die of shock or have an asthma attack brought on by laughing too much. Seriously.)

ALISON TOON: Steel Panther &emdash; SteelPanther-Aftershock2013-333-HR

Beautiful Lexxi doing his hair and tidying his makeup (and losing his belt, partway through the set; didn't lose a beat as it was put back on for him).

ALISON TOON: Steel Panther &emdash; SteelPanther-Aftershock2013-318-HR

Steel Panther sold out a British tour last year--I'm not surprised... they definitely appeal to my English sense-of-humour. I can see the guys back home rolling in the aisles.

A truly entertaining show. I'm still laughing!

ALISON TOON: Steel Panther &emdash; SteelPanther-Aftershock2013-343-HR

More photos below (click to play), or in the gallery.


Monday, September 16, 2013

People of Aftershock: that was some weekend!

People of Aftershock: that was one awesome weekend!

I will be posting photos and reviews during the next few days--bear with me, I took a million and a half photos, and it will take me a little while to tidy them all up. (Slight, but only slight, exaggeration on the number of pictures... yeah I know, I always say I'm going to travel light too and that never happened yet.) But today, I want to focus on you, the People of Aftershock, who made this whole madness happen.

ALISON TOON: People having fun &emdash; People-Aftershock2013-2544You: the audience, the crowd; the organizers who have been working all year to make it happen: the security team, the guys in the pit, the support crews, the light and sound operators, the food vendors and drink vendors and volunteers raising money for all sorts of charities: the fans and the families and the brother and sisters, the parents and grandparents and children, the teen-fans and the my-age-fans, the crowdsurfers and the ones supporting them; you, all of you, are what made this weekend so much fun.

ALISON TOON: People having fun &emdash; People-Aftershock2013-3800

You came with your best hair and T-shirts. You showed off your artistic (and sometimes not-so) ink. You came from Sacramento, from LA, from the north: you even drove here from Phoenix, Arizona.

ALISON TOON: People having fun &emdash; People-Aftershock2013-3407
You put earplugs in or over your childrens' ears. At least, most of you did. Some of you forgot your own earplugs, but don't worry, we photogs usually have a spare pair or two.

You stood for hours at the front of the crowd, in the hot, hot midday sun. I don't know how you did that. It was hot enough to fry eggs. And yet you stood there and laughed and smiled and mugged for photos and photobombed others' photos, and took your own with your cell phones and cheered for the bands and wore hats and sunblock and just plain bravado, all day and into the evening. You rock!

ALISON TOON: People having fun &emdash; People-Aftershock2013-5551

You helped the crowdsurfers over the barricade, for the most part gently, and sent them on their way back to the crowd to do it all over again. You rescued the ones who had had enough of being at the front. And you didn't tell them just how many thousands of people there were right behind them. You were kind to the photographers and kept everything running smoothly.

ALISON TOON: People having fun &emdash; People-Aftershock2013-3920

You called for the banana, and when you got it, you hugged it.

You bounced the beachball across the crowd. And later, you were the surface for a giant hamster ball with a singer inside. More on that, later.

ALISON TOON: People having fun &emdash; People-Aftershock2013-3698

You brought Ellen along with you, because you want to be on her show. I hope this helps a little.

ALISON TOON: People having fun &emdash; People-Aftershock2013-1111

You supported a banana-man in a rubber dinghy and sailed him tipsy-turvey across the sea of fans.

ALISON TOON: People having fun &emdash; People-Aftershock2013-4576

At least one of you received a bloody nose in the mosh pit. You provided, or bought, water and booze and food; and those who drank beer, hung onto it. All the time. In the middle of the thousands and thousands of people, an arm raised, beer in hand.

Sometimes, you didn't even know who was right behind you in the crush of the crowd.

ALISON TOON: People having fun &emdash; People-Aftershock2013-5081

You flew ten or fifteen feet into the air, tossed from a blanket. I really do hope you didn't break your neck

ALISON TOON: People having fun &emdash; People-Aftershock2013-4497

You cheered and screamed and yelled and shouted. You waved your hands and made and ocean of metal horns. You brought the best out of your favourite bands, and they poured their music over us all. It was a love fest with very sharp metal edges. Awesome.

This weekend was about the music... and without you, the People of Aftershock, the musicians would have been playing in a lonely world.

I hope you all enjoyed it just as much as I did. I hope you, too, heard something new, another band to explore; something surprising, something that changed a preconception, something wonderful to your ears. Go home, go share what you have heard; try something new, buy something new, share it with your friends, talk about the weekend. And come back here to Toon's Tunes for more of the weekend in review.

Can we do it all again, next year? Ready already!!!

(You can find more People of Aftershock photos in the attached gallery. See if you spot yourself! (There's a "share" button if you do.) But yes! I see you! Twenty-second hand from the left, next to the one with the skull ring and in front of the one with the barbed-wire bracelet. OK!)

ALISON TOON: People having fun &emdash; People-Aftershock2013-4799

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Wow! What a weekend! #awesomeaftershock!

I'm going to be talking about this weekend for a long while to come. At least... once I've managed to upload, backup, edit and publish all the photos. Or maybe, during all the uploading and editing and backing-up and everything else...

A weekend full of music, energy, and lovely-crazy people. (You'll get the "crazy" bit when you see some of the photos.) Suffice to say, they include a rubber dinghy, a blanket, and a banana suit. And a few tens-of-thousands of people.

More tomorrow. Tonight, I do need a little sleep....

Aftershock 2013: Saturday

Day one of this year's Aftershock metal/rock festival in Sacramento's Discovery Park: naughty girls, naughty boys, hair, headbanging, happy people, guitars, more hair, heavy-metal-facepulling, dreadlocks, tattoos; thousands and thousands of happy people, food, intensity, pyrotechnics, and some darn great music. That's what it's all about.

And Ellen? She's there too...

Just a taster for now. I'm back off to Discovery Park. Today's lineup will include Gemini Syndrome, Avenged Sevenfold, Five Finger Death Punch and many, many many more.

And many more pictures to come. Later!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Aftershock festival, this weekend

It's almost here: Sacramento's huge, metal-and-rock, Aftershock festival in Discovery Park.

Gates open at 11 am Saturday for two days of intense music. Headliners include Korn, Five Finger Death Punch, Megadeth, Avenged Sevenfold... check out the lineup here.

It's not only a place to see and experience the headliners: you may hear new bands tomorrow and Sunday who will blow your minds. Last year, I added Gemini Syndrome (playing Sunday at 12.10 pm) and Beware of Darkness to my personal list of bands to follow.

I understand that the hotels local to the festival are rather full, and that there are going to be around 13,000 people in attendance (the Sacramento Bee has a nice preview today). I remember last year, turning around during Deftone's set, and realising that most of the population of Northern California must be rock fans, and at Aftershock! It was an awe-inspiring sight!

See you there! (I'm the one with the cameras and the special pants. You see them, (the cargo pants) you'll know what I mean. Before you ask the same questions that everyone else does: I bought them in Beijing, China, and no I don't know where you can find them in the USA, wish I did. Better get on a plane again soon!)

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Adam Ant at the Ace of Spades, Sacramento

Adam Ant dropped in at the Ace of Spades, Sacramento: one-more stop on his mega-USA tour, which began in San Diego on 17th July and has been zooming around the USA ever since, close to one show a night, more than forty cities, (I'd be dizzy by now), and which will be completed when he performs in Las Vegas on September 20th and Anahaim on the 21st. He's appeared on Jimmy Fallon. He's already toured the UK this year, and has dates in Germany in early 2014. Many chances for fans old-and-new to see the man who was always a much more charismatic pirate and popular hero than Jonny Depp will ever be. At least where I came from.

(Did I say that out loud? Really? Well it's true! Stand and deliver!)

The tour follows the release, in January this year, of Adam's first album since 1995: "Adam Ant is the Blueback Hussar in Marrying the Gunner's Daughter". Mouthful of an album title, that one. Try saying that three times in a hurry. Adam performed one of the songs from the new album, "Vince Taylor", on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon on 15th July. If you missed it, you know where to find it.  

In Sacramento, Adam Ant was supported by Prima Donna, glam-rock from LA.  (I enjoyed their set, very much. What you trying to do to me guys??? Take me back to England in the, ahem, seventies-eighties-nineties?  But prettier and with better clothes?)

Then Adam took the stage... and that outfit, that stage persona, are so very, very cool. The slightly-dissolute, highwayman-pirate-court-jester, the skull-and-crossbone buttons, the feathers in the hat and the cross on his cheek. The way he spins and twists around the stage. The way he runs one song after another, without a break, without a pause, until the crowd yells for more and he tells the story behind "Wonderful", sings it, and then tells the true story...  well maybe the true story!

The venue was not filled to capacity, but those who were there were so appreciative it made up for those who went missing last night. Fans young and old(er); many with facepaint and Adam-esque outfits, a few tricorn hats, and lots of cheering. Yes, all generations are allowed to dress up for a night out!

Adam Ant's 2013 show is the show of a current artist--not just someone relying on, and replaying, their past glory (though it was good to hear the classics). Check out the new album and listen for yourself.

(Revising and researching before a show takes you down some interesting memory-lanes. This time, it was Boz Boorer, guitarist and producer, whose collaboration can be heard on Adam Ant is the Blueback Hussar in Marrying the Gunner's Daughter". Adam Ant to Boz Boorer to a mention of The Polecats! The Polecats! OMG moment... hadn't heard that name in years. Rockabilly! And apparently still alive, kicking, and touring. Wonder if they'll drop in to the Ace any time soon?)  The Ace of Spades always does a great job with the music before-and-between the acts: last night was pure rockabilly. Happy, makes-you-want-to-dance, rockabilly.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Saturday night really rocks! Blue Öyster Cult, Bachman and Turner, in Citrus Heights

Another night, another show. Same venue as Thursday: the Outdoor Pavilion at the Sunrise Marketplace. Another show in the Sunrise at Night concert series for 2013... and suddenly, there are only a few left. It's like summer is coming to an end. Though we all know, it's always summer in California.

And this was a trip back in time, and into the present, and into the future. Two big rock bands, both of whom have influenced younger rockers--and both of whom are still touring and still making heavy, loud, and simply wonderful rock music.

I was a little surprised to see that Blue Öyster Cult were the opening band, and not the other way round, but that's only because we heard more of BoC in England that Bachman Turner (Overdrive), though both made it big, with major hits, and both are well known across the pond. So what does playing order matter, when we have the whole evening to enjoy the music, and why was I even thinking about it? 

The audience was not Thursday's audience. No sir! And neither are they fond of disco! No sir! I'm saying that, going by the reaction to the announcement of next Friday's show, "Friday Night Fever", all disco kings and queens taking the stage and no doubt people dressing in their spandex and Travolta-esk onesies... can't wait to see that! And I'm betting at least a few of the BoC crowd will be there too, disguised. (I'll let you know.)

This was my kind of music.

Both bands seemed to take their opening song as a warm-up before really getting started. Both also had to race around the stage, chasing the spotlight, rather than the spotlight picking up the guy who was playing/singing. That was interesting. Though the stage light show was really cool...

Blue Öyster Cult were so blatantly happy on stage. I love happy bands. They looked like they truly enjoyed each others company, enjoyed being on stage, enjoyed being on the road. It's something tangible and the audience reacts: on sale were T-shirts saying, "Blue Öyster Cult: on the road forever!"  And of course, when they played "Don't Fear the Reaper", no-one would let them go. Standing ovation! They had to do an encore. Before the break. That was a first!

(It made me happy to hear New York, Staten Island, Long Island accents. I need to nip back to Mastic Beach one of these days, to say hi! to my friends over there. Not that I'm missing the winters or the floods any. But it was and always will be a beautiful place to me.)

Bachman and Turner continued the rocking late into the evening: big hits and more.  Reminded me of school and college and hanging-out in the youth centre at Wreake Valley in Syston. You ain't seen nothing yet, bbbbbaby....  reminds me all the way.

And that six-string bass? Huge! Huge sound and how do you stretch your hand and fingers to span it?

Both bands made up of guys who play their instruments like they know it's an art... and yet it's fun, it's heavy, and it holds up so much of the heavy metal and rock genres of today.

I wanted to go hang out with them all and listen to their life stories. I think they have a few to tell.

More pictures from Blue Öyster Cult:

More pictures from Bachman and Turner:

Photos from more of the concert series: