Friday, April 29, 2016

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Voice... my version. Share yours!

So, I love the concept of NBC's The Voice TV show: singers, vocalists, making it big, purely on the sound of their voice. Nothing to do with looks, age, musical style, but just based on the way the sounds make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. (I know, it's just-another-but-slightly-better form of reality TV: it's the concept I like.)

So I thought I'd put together some of the vocalists who have that affect on me, every time I hear them. See what you think. Make up your own list and feel free to share in the comments!

Ivan Moody, Five Finger Death Punch

H (Steve Hogarth), Marillion

The late, great, Tim Buckley

The late, great, Freddie Mercury, Queen

Trixie Whitley

And Josh Groban. On my version of The Voice, he'd make it through the Blind round, but get kicked off soon after, for poor choice in songs.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The White Noise, from Los Angeles... stay in Sac!

The White Noise
The White Noise, Ace of Spades, Sacramento
Also on tour with Enter Shikari, and performing at the Ace of Spades earlier in the evening on Sunday, was aggresssive-rock band The White Noise from L.A.  Frontman Shawn Walker declared from the stage that Sacramento would be the band's new adoptive hometown, but I bet he says that to all the girls and boys...

Shawn Walker, vocals, The White Noise
Shawn Walker, The White Noise
Aggressive, rocking, punkish; I found myself fascinated by Mr Walker's antics; one second screaming, the next, singing; drinking water and spit-spraying it into the crowd, launching himself over the barrier into the mosh pit, returning every time (and there were many ventures off-stage) with something from the crowd: someone's sunglasses, a random beanie, then throwing them back into the pit. Vastly energetic, imaginitive, naughty. Tweaking a nipple, knocking over a mic stand then holding a free mic in a suggestive pose for guitarist David Southern to sing into, on his knees, while one of the crew nipped on stage to right the stand; not a note was missed.

Shawn Walker, vocals, The White Noise
Shawn Walker, The White Noise
This band made me smile, made the entire crowd move, and I hope they'll be back in town sometime very soon. Hometown or no, Sacramento will welcome them!

The White Noise
The White Noise, Ace of Spades, Sacramento

The White Noise are on tour with Enter Shikari and Hands Like Houses. Check the tour dates on the band's Facebook. The White Noise are Shawn Walker (vocals), David Southern (guitar and vocals, Josh Strock (guitar), Bailey Crego (bass) and Tommy West (drums).

Here's a recent video from The White Noise; it's frantic image-shifting is such a good fit for the music and the live show. Their first EP, Aren't You Glad? is out now. Take a listen!

Monday, April 18, 2016

Hands Like Houses, Dissonants, and a broken tour van

Trenton Woodley, vocals, Hands Like Houses
Trenton Woodley,  Hands Like Houses
Support for Enter Shikari last night, and on a long tour around the USA, are Hands Like Houses. This band from Canberra, Australia, are not new to the USA--they've done Warped, and they played the Ace of Spades early in 2015--but they nearly didn't make it here last night. The tour van broke down on the way from Portland to Sacramento, 3 a.m. on a Sunday morning... but the magic (and hard work) happened, they arrived at the venue just in time to take the stage at 8.25 p.m. Not one second late. I'm very glad they did...

Joel Tyrrell, bass, Hands Like Houses
Joel Tyrrell,  Hands Like Houses, Sacramento
So much energy. So much good music. Love the slap creeps up and slaps you in the back of your head as you're listening to the sound and watching Trenton Woodley leap around the stage.

Hands Like Houses
Hands Like Houses, Ace of Spades, Sacramento
Trenton Woodley, vocals, Hands Like Houses
Trenton Woodley,  Hands Like Houses
And these guys look as if they are really enjoying themselves on stage, on tour. Maybe it was relief at reaching the venue on time? Or maybe they always play like this? I don't know--I do know that I've spent most of today listening to Dissonants, Hands Like Houses' latest album. (Check out New Romantics for example of Joel Tyrrell's bass.)

Hands Like Houses
Hands Like Houses, Ace of Spades, Sacramento
The music is metalcore without the screamo; clean vocals over layered melodic metal; alternative yet anthemic; just darn good. Take a listen. See what you think.

You know what?  I'm starting to build my wish list for this year's Aftershock. These guys are on it.
The tour continues--click here for the venues and dates: around the USA with Enter Shikari, then several dates in the UK in May. And for more info, see 
Hands Like Houses' website: or Facebook 

More photos from last nights' Hands Like Houses performance in Sacramento, in the photo gallery: click here!

Enter Shikari, at the Ace of Spades, Sacramento

Enter Shikari
Enter Shikari, Ace of Spades, Sacramento
After the support bands had gone, the stage was cleared for Enter Shikari, returning to the Ace of Spades, early on in their major 2016 North American tour. "Over here" from their British homeland, the band's tour includes both coasts of the USA and several dates in Canada, plus festivals including Carolina Rebellion, Welcome to Rockville, Northern Invasion and Rock On The Range.

Enter Shikari
Enter Shikari, Ace of Spades, Sacramento
Touring in support of their recent album release, The Mindsweep, released last year and winner of the AIM (Association of Independant Music) award for album of the year. Much-loved by (British music/pop magazine) Kerrang! and their awards, the album is everything Enter Shikari is known for: resolutely non-genre, un-label-able, ever-changing, and yet the perfect blend of metal, hardcore, alternative, hard rock, true punk (British punk with political statements) and electro.

Rou Reynolds, vocals, Enter Shikari
Rou Reynolds,  Enter Shikari

The stage setting; minimal. No props, few mic stands, one or two pedals. Cables snaking across the floor. The lighting; less than minimal: a couple of banks of strobes, reflecting on the floorboards of the stage; a searchlight or two, and that's it. We can't see the bands' faces, but it doesn't matter. The stage is an explosion of energy, the music's good, and the crowd are there to listen and to sing along to all the songs. Everyone's happy.

Rory Clewlow, lead guitar, Enter Shikari
Rory Clewlow, Enter Shikari
With songs ranging from 2007 (Sorry You're Not A Winner, from the band's first album, Take To The Skies), right through to tracks from The Mindsweep, the show covers the breadth and depth of Enter Shikari's career.

Take a listen to The Mindsweep, Enter Shikari's fourth studio album. It's well worth adding to your music collection. Contrast the high-core-energy of Anaesthetist with the beautiful, sparse Dear Future Historians... and you'll see why this team of guys from Hertfordshire, England, cannot and will not be pigeonholed into any musical genre/meaningless label.

Catch the tour: all the dates are here!

More photos in the gallery:

Friday, April 15, 2016

Tomorrow is Record Store Day!

Some of us routinely hang out there anyway--but for those of you who haven't ventured into a record store for a decade or so, or even better, those of you who grew up with iTunes and downloads and streaming... tomorrow is a good day to (re)discover the joys of browsing through physical music. Vinyl and CD. Artwork. Tomorrow is Record Store Day!

Go on... try something new, unheard, just because you like the artwork. You might never look back.

Participating record stores in the Sacramento area include:

Dimple Records at all their locations, MediumRare Records and Collectibles, Brooks Novelty Antiques and Records (one of my favourites, tucked away in Firehouse Alley in Old Sac),  Rare Records on Broadway, and more stores around the area. Go to to find a record store near you!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Otep: Generation Doom tour, and album's out tomorrow; check out Doll Skin!

Otep, The Boardwalk, Orangevale: Generation Doom tour
One of the things I love most about Otep tours--apart from Otep's own performance, of course--is that I'm always introduced to at least on superb band, who, without the Otep tour, I might not be lucky enough to hear, or find out about.

Sydney Dolezal, vocals, Doll Skin
Sydney Dolezal, Doll Skin, at The Boardwalk, Orangevale
A couple of years or so back, it was One-Eyed Doll (who will be back at the Boardwalk themselves soon). Last year, Downfall 2012 were new-to-me and memorable. Seeing Otep in 2014 is memorable for another, sadder reason--Wayne Static was headlining, and it was only a few months before his untimely death. But this week, at the Boardwalk in Orangevale again? Otep introduced us to Doll Skin, and they put more hard rock musicianship, energy and sheer musical presence into less-than-an-hour onstage than most grown-up dudes do in a lifetime of garages. Sixteen, seventeen and nineteen years old, these young ladies have a long and successful career ahead of them. It's not gone unnoticed: they are under David Ellefson's (Megadeth) wing, and released their debut album, In Your Face, on Megaforce in October last year.Doll Skin are Sydney Dolezal (16), vocals; Alex Snowden (16), guitar; Nicole Rich (17), bass; Meghan Shea Herring (19), drums.

Nicole Rich, bass, Doll Skin
Nicole Rich, Doll Skin

Alex Snowden, guitar, Doll Skin
Alex Snowden, , Doll Skin
Look out for Doll Skin. They are stealing the show.

Meghan Shea Herring, drums, Doll Skin
Meghan Shea Herring, Doll Skin
Also on the bill on Tuesday was September Mourning, seen last year at Aftershock festival in Elverta, with the unique mix of graphic-novel caricature and hard rock, It will be interesting to see what this band develops into over the next couple of year; how will the characters and music grow?

September Mourning
September Mourning, The Boardwalk, Orangevale

September Mourning
September Mourning
Main support for Tuesday's show was Lacey Sturm, previously lead singer with Flyleaf (and with her fellow Flyleaf band member, and husband, playing guitar in her band. Her first solo album, Life Screams, is available now, and includes a really nice, different, cover of the Police's Roxanne.  Also in Lacey's setlist: Flyleaf's Chasm and All Around Me, plus songs from Life Screams, the entire album being well worth attention. Lacey will be supporting Otep on several more, but not all, of the tour dates--check here.

Lacey Sturm
Lacey Sturm, The Boardwalk, Orangevale
And then Otep! Leading up to tomorrow's release of Generation Doom (Friday 15th April), the album has been streaming this week on Billboard; some very recognizable Otep-metal-poetry-song, some more melodic, even a cover of Lorde's Royals... Generation Doom, in its entirety, a much-awaited, anticipated and worth-the-wait follow-up to 2013's Hydra. (I'm eagerly awaiting my colored vinyl which arrives tomorrow, release day, while listening to the streamed version while writing this... it's good. It's very, very good!)

Otep, Generation Doom
From the emotion and melody of In Cold Blood to the poetic fight of Equal Right Equal Left, Generation Doom is both provocative and memorable. Otep Shamaya's voice, one moment a screaming banshee, the next, as beautiful as sunrise. Yes provocative. Yes, memorable. Yes, articulate indeed.

Articulate, activist, Otep, in the house at the Boardwalk. Very good show; very good tour. Catch a date if you can: its a long tour, across most of the USA. And it's only just begun!

Photo galleries:

Otep: (seriously, seriously low light):
Lacey Sturm:
September Mourning: (seriously low light):
Doll Skin (lights!!! thank you!!!):

Otep, The Boardwalk, Orangevale
(Otep: "He called me a dyke, I called him an ambulance.")  I'm still laughing about that one.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Memphis May Fire photo gallery added

Matty Mullins and Cory Elder, Memphis May Fire
Matty Mullins and Cory Elder, Memphis May Fire
From the tour with Killswitch Engage (click for the review), and the date at the Ace of Spades, Sacramento, last week: here's the photo gallery:

Matty Mullins, vocals, Memphis May Fire
"Matty Mullins, vocals,

Monday, April 11, 2016

Ink, art and music... here's the art, here's the ink

Tattooed man, NorCal Tattoo and Music Festival
I've posted a few examples of the stunning body-art seen at this past weekend's NorCal Tattoo and Music Festival. Traditional tattoos ranging from sailor's anchors to Mother; Christian and gothic, Japanese and Indian, all testimony to artistry, patience, permanence and pain tolerance.

If you see your work (or your body part!) in any of these pictures, please email me with the URL of the picture so that I can add details. More pictures in the gallery, click here:

Stunning... simply stunning.

Norcal Tattoo And Music Festival 2016
Ganesh tattoo, NorCal Tattoo and Music Festival

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Killswitch Engage, the Incarnate tour, and a full metal house

Killswitch Engage
Killswitch Engage, Ace of Spades, Sacramento
Thursday evening in Sacramento, and the doors open at 5.30 p.m. Despite the early after-work hour, the venue is filling rapidly for the sold-out Killswitch Engage show, Openers Toothgrinder from New Jersey quickly have the crowd in motion and a mosh pit quickly develops, along with a path to the water dispenser closest to the action.

Jesse Leach, vocals, Killswitch Engage
Jesse Leach, vocals, Killswitch Engage
Up next: 36 Crazyfists, from Alaska, and they drove the temperature up and up. They've been around the metalcore scene for a while, and they know how to get the crowd going. Really intense, and fun, set from 36 Crazyfists.

Crowdsurfers and security, Killswitch Engage
Energetic crowd! Killswitch Engage, Ace of Spades, Sacramento
Main support, Memphis May Fire, from Dallas, Texas, showing why they have rapidly become very popular. Huge energy and great stage presence, and the crowd is going insane. The guy with the red t-shirt has crowd-surfed into the pit at least twice already, and Killswitch Engage haven't even taken the stage, yet.

Killswitch Engage
Killswitch Engage, Ace of Spades, Sacramento
And then they do: Killswitch Engage, in smoke and fog and searchlights and violently-bright strobes, and wow, what a show!!! First time in Sacramento for several years: I think the last time was at Sleeptrain Amphitheater, out in Wheatland, in 2009. The show is intense, it's superb, it's crazy, and it's so very well received by the packed-to-the-gills crowd at the Ace of Spades. Playing songs from the new album, Incarnate, and heading to a final crescendo with The End Of Heartbreak, My Curse, and In Due Time, Killswitch Engage showed what makes a metal concert so memorable.

Audience and light show at sold-out Killswitch Engage show, Ace of Spades, Sacramento
Killswitch Engage, Ace of Spades, Sacramento
People were singing in the streets on their way back to their cars, wrung with sweat, giddy with the music. What a concert, what a night!

Don't miss this tour! All dates can be found here.

More photos from Killswitch Engage in the photo gallery:

Photo galleries for the supporting band will be added soon!

Friday, April 8, 2016

NorCal Tattoo and Music Festival begins today!

Tattoo Competition, Norcal Tattoo And Music Festival 2016
Detail of back
See some beautiful ink, get a tattoo, listen to music... good way to spend the weekend. It's all happening at NorCal Tattoo and Music Festival, and CalExpo, the site of California State Fair. Take the entrance on Exposition Blv and head towards the big white tent, through the rodeo gate.

Judging the tattoo competition, Norcal Tattoo and Music Festival
Judging a tattoo competition
Beginning today and continuing until late Sunday, there are many tattoo artists present, and there will be concerts Saturday and Sunday. For full details, see the festival website. The concert lineup is here--note that there may be more bands added to Sunday.

Norcal Tattoo And Music Festival 2016
Beautiful Ganesh tattoo
See a few more ink masterpieces in this photo gallery (will add more pictures this weekend):

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

San Francisco's Outside Lands festival lineup... you have to see this!!!

This is the lineup as posted today, 5th April. Subject to additions and change and... wow, do I really, really see Radiohead????

Tickets here:

Dates: August 5th to 7th

Place:  San Francisco!!!

Find all the info and keep updated on the festival website: