Friday, August 26, 2016

Bored, waiting for next year's Chicago Open Air already? Here's something to keep you busy...

In among all the Chicago Open Air festival photos was this gem... but something happened... can you fix it? Were you there? Are you HERE, in this picture? Can you help put it back together again?

preview198 pieceHR-Crowd-ChicagoOpenAir-20160715-803
If you are bored, but not THAT bored, then maybe take a road trip to one of the other festivals... Aftershock maybe?

(All the crowd shots from Chicago Open Air are here, in the photo gallery, just click!!)

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Memento Mori, Gemini Syndrome, it's here... and so will they be, soon!

Gemini Syndrome
Aaron Nordstrom, Gemini Syndrome
I think I'll name this, Gemini Syndrome week!

A week ago tonight--at 9 p.m. to be precise, midnight east-coast time, but when we were at the Fitz and the Tantrums show--Gemini Syndome's new album, second album, sophomore album, Memento Mori was released. I had to wait until I arrived home to download it... it was a struggle... but worth the wait? Absolutely. Worth the wait since the seemingly-ages-ago announcement that it was on the way? Yes, indeed. Well worth the wait.

Memento Mori is the second in a planned trio of albums from Gemini Syndrome, with Lux the first. When a band releases an album as strong as Lux, waiting for the second, there are questions: Will it be as as good as the first? Will the band develop, move further? Will they just repeat more of the same, or will they build on what they were two years ago? Is the new album something to be listened to once, or played over, and over, again?  (Maybe you just need to ask me how many times I've listened to it already during the past week. You know how much other music I get to listen to, and how often this happens? Memento Mori has been on repeat almost constantly... and will continue to be so.)

It's the latter. Memento Mori is strong, layered, deep, meaningful, hopeful, full of life. Each song is a gem, each song has a message. Whether it's the humanity of Anonymous, the politics of Zealot and Sorry Not Sorry, or the subtle, stunning beauty of Say Goodnight... another intense and memorable album from Gemini Syndrome.

Brian Steele Medina, drums, Gemini Syndrome
Brian Steele Medina, Gemini Syndrome
They release a new album... and almost immediately they are on Sirux XM's Octane, performing a brand new acoustic mashup of Basement (from Lux) and Anonymous (from Memento Mori). I hope there's a recording of that available soon; it's a wonderful example of how talented this band is.

Find your own copy on Amazon, on iTunes, on your usual streaming service, at the local music store...  There will be vinyl. I know there will be vinyl, coming a little later. Look out for the artwork that Gemini Syndrome is fast becoming renowned for; it began with Lux, and continues with Memento Mori. Take a look at their website...

While Gemini Syndrome fit very well with the metal and hard rock genre on tour and at festivals, fans who lean more towards prog--including bands such as Katatonia and Marillion--may very well also enjoy listening to Memento Mori. Check it out.

And Sacramento?  Here's another reason why this is Gemini Syndrome week. Tickets go on sale tomorrow for Sevendust's show at the Ace of Spades. If you didn't look at the supports... maybe you should. Its's really, really important to always check who the support acts are. Seriously. Go on...

Alessandro Paveri, bass, Gemini Syndrome
Alessandro Paveri, Gemini Syndrome
Gemini Syndrome are on tour, including dates with Sevendust,  and will also be appearing at Houston Open Air. For all tour dates, check their website.

Photos in this post are from Chicago Open Air this year: the review and an interview with Brian are here, and click here for the full photo gallery!

I'll leave you with Remember We Die, official video, from Memento Mori... and there really is plenty of time to see the other side. Live live to its full. Be kind. Love each other. 

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Fitz & The Tantrums filled the Ace of Spades to bursting point... so much fun!

Fitz & The Tantrums
Fitz & The Tantrums, Ace of Spades, Sacramento
If you are yearning for a happy show, go see Fitz & The Tantrums. If you were one of the lucky ones with at ticket for Thursday evening's show at Sacramento's Ace of Spades--it sold out, really fast--you already know what I mean. It was a wonderful evening; indie-pop-neo-soul, Motown with an LA twist, the Get Right Back tour is off and running.

Noelle Scaggs, vocals, Fitz & The Tantrums
Noelle Scaggs, Fitz & The Tantrums
Front man Michael Fitzpatrick and the delightful Noelle Scaggs partner up as vocal leads, weaving a wonderful tapestry of song, emotion, desire and dance. James King plays saxophones of various shapes and sizes, and the show includes a major instrumental section which raises the roof.

Fitz & The Tantrums
Fitz & The Tantrums
I last saw Fitz and the Tantrums here in Sacramento in 2013, and loved the show then... they are on my must see list. This time, they brought a big-time light show, complete with confetti cannons for the finale, The Walker. With songs from the latest self-titled album including the single I Can Make Your Hands Clap, plus from More Than Just A Dream  and Pickin' Up The Pieces, this was one major party.

If you still haven't heard them... you really should!

Here's the setlist:

Fitz and The Tantrums Setlist Ace of Spades, Sacramento, CA, USA 2016

Well worth a roadtrip to see them... check out all the tour dates here on Fitz and the Tantrums' Facebook or website. You can also listen to samples of the latest album and more, find Fitz and the Tantrums music on Spotify and other streaming services, all from their website homepage .

All the photos--many more--from Thursday's show in the photo gallery: click here!

Confetti, Fitz & The Tantrums
Fitz & The Tantrums, Ace of Spades, Sacramento

Boy George, Culture Club, and they are back with a force! Thunder Valley!

Boy George and Mikey Craig, Culture Club
Boy George and Mikey Craig, Culture Club
Before this weekend, you may have heard me mention the lack of dancing at concerts in Northern California. I thought it was a USA vs. UK cultural-difference thing, but I'm hearing that it's a Northern-California-thing more than an American versus British thing... but that changed on Saturday night, at Thunder Valley Casino Resort's outdoors concert series, when Boy George and Culture Club took the stage. EVERYONE DANCED!!! At their seats, in the aisles, in the parking lot... dancing!!!

Boy George and Culture Club
Boy George, Culture Club, at Thunder Valley, Lincoln, CA
There were more people dancing at a concert than I have seen in the entire sixteen years that I've lived in the USA, all concerts combined! Maybe it was the high number of Brits in the crowd... but much more likely, it was the wonderful, soulful and you-just-can't-resist-dancing show that these guys brought to the full-to-the-brim-with-fans audience.

Boy George and Culture Club
Boy George and one of his many hats
The original Culture Club lineup of Boy George, Mikey Craig on bass, Roy Hay on guitar, and Jon Moss on drums, together with a beautiful trio of singers and a couple of additional musicians whose names I didn't catch. A show full of the Culture Club hits plus new songs such as Human Zoo, the show opened with Church of the Poisoned Mind, and closed with Karma Chameleon followed by a cover of T Rex's Get It On, and contained much more soul and gentle reggae than anyone only familiar with the old hits might have expected. A beautiful cover of The Crying Game, with a thousand cellphone flashlights, an orange harvest moon rising behind the stage, seen from the high bleachers, a poignant moment.

Several Boy George costume changes, several hats. There has to be a Boy George Hat.

I had forgotten how this band can make me dance, and laugh, and cry, all at the same time. Wonderful show!!!!

Mikey Craig, bass, Culture Club
Mikey Craig,  Culture Club
Boy George's characteristic naughtiness still shines through. His voice has matured. The band are cohesive, excellent, and the camaraderie, after all these years, is tangible.

This is the first big, worldwide tour by Culture Club in almost-forever. There are a few dates left: if you missed it here in Lincoln, near Sacramento, you missed a real treat. But wait... there's a new album expected early next year, and keep an eye on the tour page for new dates. Also, keep an eye on Boy George's page for other musical adventures... he's also a DJ, and has just co-written-produced new material with longtime friend, (Mister) Marilyn.

Boy George and Culture Club
Boy George
More photos in the Boy George and Culture Club photo gallery, click here!

Dressed up ready for the show; audience participation, Culture Club
There were one or two Boy George lookalikes in the crowd... more in the photo gallery.

Friday, August 19, 2016

New video/single from Sacramento's A Foreign Affair

Sacramento alternative-rock band, A Foreign Affair, today launched a new video single, which you can watch below... and then head over to their Bandcamp to buy! It's taken from the EP planned for later this year.

A Foreign Affair are Alex Strobaugh (vocals), Jared Cambridge and Nick Blevins (guitar), Jordan Hoover (bass and vocals), and Andrew Kinsey (drums). Find out more on their Facebook!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

If you can't wait till Aftershock... take a roadtrip or three!

Corey Taylor, vocals, Slipknot
Slipknot, who will be headlining Louder Than Life
... then just hop on a plane, or jump in the car. There are festivals going on all over the place, including Houston Open Air (September 24th and 25th) and Louder Than Life (October 1st and 2nd, Louisville, Kentucky)... both of which can be reached from Sacramento from under $200 (Southwest Airlines' price today). And take a look at the lineups: here's Houston and here's Louisville's!

This coming weekend, a road trip up to Tahoe for the Reggae Festival?
Chino Moreno, vocals, Deftones
Deftones will be playing Houston Open Air
That's a hop, skip and jump of festivals all the way to Aftershock. Nice way to plan the time from Olympics to Discovery Park!

Ky-Mani Marley
Ky-Mani Marley, who will be at the Reggae Festival this coming weekend in South Lake Tahoe
More info:
- Tahoe Reggae Festival:
- Houston Open Air:
- Louder Than Life:

Friday, August 12, 2016

This is not a pop album... the storm is coming. Marillion, F.E.A.R, video preview, documentary

I wake up this morning to find this video in my Facebook inbox: a new documentary-preview of Marillion's upcoming 18th studio album, F*CK Everyone And Run (F.E.A.R.). Take a few minutes to watch this... it's not only a preview of the album, it is insights into how the band uses Soundcloud when preparing a new album, how they work when recording, the marrying of music, cinema, visuals, light... and really, why you, yes you over there in the corner, YOU! really do need to see Marillion when they are "over here" in North America, on tour later in the year.

F.E.A.R. has a release date of late September.

Now grab a cup of coffee, sit back, and watch...

For examples of live shows and what you might see, here's the photo gallery (just click).
For a good introduction to Marillion's music, click here for a sample playlist.

See you on the road late October!!! Oh and don't forget the weekends... don't forget the weekends.

Photo gallery: 3 Pill Morning, at the Boardwalk, Orangevale

Jeff Stebbins, vocals, 3 Pill Morning (3PM)
Jeff Stebbins, 3 Pill Morning (3PM)
There were three bands in the lineup on Tuesday at the Boardwalk: openers were 3 Pill Morning, hard rock from Minneapolis who kicked off the evening in great style, spot-on at 7 p.m. for the already-crowded audience.

See the photos here in the 3 Pill Morning photo gallery: click this link or click on the photo above.

Check out 3PM's recent single, Electric Chair, below! And then go buy it on  iTunes, Amazon or Google Play.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Photo gallery: Adelitas Way at the Boardwalk, Orangevale

Rick DeJesus, vocals, Adelitas Way
Rick DeJesus, Adelitas Way
Adelitas Way, hard rock band from Las Vegas, special guests on tour with Thousand Foot Krutch, and on stage at the Boardwalk in Orangevale last night. Perfect band for the setting: hard, gritty, rock, what I call Roadhouse Rock. Soaring guitar solos. Charismatic front man. Yes, I'll go see them again.

Robert Zakaryan, guitar, Adelitas Way
Robert Zakaryan,  Adelitas Way
Adelitas Way are Rick DeJesus (vocals), Robert Zakaryan (guitar), Tre Stafford (drums), and Andrew Cushing (bass). Check out their most recent album, The Getaway, and find more tour dates on their website!

More photos from last night's show in the Adelitas Way photo gallery: click here!

Thousand Foot Krutch at the Boardwalk: photos!

Thousand Foot Krutch
Thousand Foot Krutch, the Boardwalk, Orangevale
First comment: the light show for Thousand Foot Krutch last night at the Boardwalk was stunning.

Such a pleasure to be at a smaller-venue show, the Boardwalk in Orangevale near Sacramento, California, and see a beautifully-lit touring band. Good lighting always adds to the atmosphere; enhances the experience for the audience, emphasises the music, and shows the performers at their best. Lovely to see this--and pretty unusual. Other touring bands, please take note!!!

Thousand Foot Krutch
Thousand Foot Krutch
The crowd was big, happy, enthusiastic, singing-along and waving.

Thousand Foot Krutch
Large crowd for TFK at the Boardwalk, Orangevale
Thousand Foot Krutch (also known as TFK) are from Peterborough (the one in Ontario, Canada, not the one in England), and are currently on tour with their new album, Exhale: find it on iTunes or your usual music-shopping-spot! And follow TFK on their Facebook, where you'll find more info on the tour.

Trevor McNevan, vocals, Thousand Foot Krutch
Trevor McNevan,  Thousand Foot Krutch
See all the photos from the show at the Boardwalk in Orangevale in the Thousand Foot Krutch photogallery -- click here.

Also on tour and supporting TFK are Adelitas Way (click to see photos) and 3 Pill Morning: photogalleries will be shared soon!

Monday, August 8, 2016

Coming soon: A Vulgar Display of Pantera, authorized photo-history by Joe Giron

As a photographer, I love to look at other photographers' work, especially others who work with musicians. My library contains work by Mick Rock, Bob Gruen, Ethan A Russell (who I also saw recently in Folsom, talking about his photos and experiences with some of the great bands of the sixties and seventies). I have both single-photographer books and compilations. Why? For two huge reasons: one, as a music fan, because they provide insights into the music, the people, and often the life-behind-the-music, and two, because as a photographer, I believe that you learn by seeing, and by seeing what other photographers have done, and by thinking about what you can learn from them.

So the new book, A Vulgar Display of Pantera, with photographs by Joe Giron and a foreword by Rex Brown, to be released on September 13th by Lesser Gods, caught my eye. It's coffee-table format, hardback, 400 pages, full of double-page spreads and behind-the-scenes shots and stories from both bassist Rex Brown and drummer Vinnie Paul Abbott. It's the authorized photo-history; all the way through from 1983 for two decades of Pantera. And the book is organized by date, so if you remember which Pantera shows you attended, you'll be easily able to find the gig and maybe yourself in the crowd shots!

Pantera by Joe Giron/A Vulgar Display of Pantera, published by Lesser Gods
Joe Giron's professional photography career began as a staff photographer for the Fort Worth Star/Telegraph, which is where he first had the opportunity to shoot (then) up-and-coming heavy, hard rock band Pantera. It led to a lasting friendship with the band--and many more photo opportunities throughout their storied career--and so, this new book. (Joe has also photographed many other bands, and now he's also a photographer within the gaming industry, working the World Poker Tour and heading the photography team for the World Series of Poker. More info on his website--go check out all the bands!!!.)

Pantera, Down, Kill Devil Hill and all lovers of heavy metal will no doubt soon have this book in their wish list. It goes on sale in the USA with a list price of $50 (but check out the pre-sale on Amazon and Barnes and Noble!)  I have my own copy on pre-order...

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Periphery: Chicago Open Air photo gallery, progressive and metal... want to hear more!

Spencer Sotelo, vocals, Periphery
Spencer Sotelo, Periphery, at Chicago Open Air
Another band that I came away from Chicago Open Air, wanting to hear more from: Periphery, prog-metal

Periphery are on tour right now--see the tour dates here!  And check out their website for info on the latest album, Periphery III - Select Difficulty.

Many more photos from Periphery at Chicago Open Air: click here, or on the photo above!

Friday, August 5, 2016

Fitz & the Tantrums at the Ace of Spades, 18th August, and new album!

Fitz and the Tantrums, Sacramento
Fitz & The Tantrums, 2013
Fitz & The Tantrums will be back at the Ace of Spades in Sacramento on 18th August--and the show is sold out! It's going to be a really fun show... there are just a few tickets to be bought on StubHub this morning, if you don't already have a ticket, you're going to pay the price...

I last saw Fitz & The Tantrums at the same venue in the summer of 2013... review and photos are here ... it has been far too long!!! (And every time I walk or drive past the local DMV, I think of The Walker. Sacramento heat. Let's dance.)

Fitz and the Tantrums, Sacramento
Fitz & The Tantrums at Sacramento's Ace of Spades
The new album, titled Fitz & The Tantrums, was released in June, and can be found on iTunes, Amazon, and your usual music outlet. If this doesn't make you dance, I don't know what will... reminiscent of Motown, but with a spin that is totally today,

Here's the official video for Handclap: one to practice, ready for the show!!!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Gemini Syndrome, at Chicago Open Air, another chat with Brian, and new album very soon!!!

Aaron Nordstrom, vocals, Gemini Syndrome
Gemini Syndrome, Chicago Open Air
It was a real treat to see Gemini Syndrome on the list of performers for Chicago Open Air.

At the opening the Sunday show, the third day of the first-ever Chicago Open Air festival, there were a few minutes of doubt... nobody was inside the grounds, not one person, except for festival workers, security, a few photographers and other press, and a lone, happy, smiling woman, who brought a folding chair and placed it, front row and center, before the stage on which Gemini Syndrome was scheduled to perform. Best place in the house!!!

Brian Steele Medina, drums, Gemini Syndrome
Brian Steele Medina, Gemini Syndrome, Chicago Open Air
What had happened? Was everyone still sleeping after two days of non-stop music, culminating with Disturbed late on Saturday? Were they having a Sunday-morning lie-in, to be ready for Five Finger Death Punch and Slipknot, later on Sunday evening? Were they just not turning up until later?  No... for some reason, the "gate" time had changed to 30 minutes later, and so the show started 30 minutes later too, and by that time Gemini Syndrome had the biggest crowd I have seen for them yet, and it just kept on growing. Excellent number of Synners for a Sunday morning, and an excellent show, including favourites Pleasure and Pain, Basement, Resurrection and Stardust from their first album, Lux, plus Eternity, Anonymous, and Remember We Die from the upcoming second album, Memento Mori, due to be released on August 19th (so there's still a chance to pre-order through PledgeMusic, iTunes and Amazon.)

Aaron Nordstrom, vocals, Gemini Syndrome
Aaron Nordstrom, vocals, Gemini Syndrome
This was my first opportunity to see the band with the two new guitarists, Daniel SahagĂșn and Charles Lee Salvaggio, and yes, it works!

Alessandro Paveri, bass, Gemini Syndrome
Alessandro Paveri, bass, Gemini Syndrome
Later in the day Andy Wright and I had the much-appreciated chance to sit down and chat for a while with Brian Steele Medina, drummer with Gemini Syndrome. (You might remember a previous conversation with Brian, back in September 2014, when plans for Memento Mori were already under way... and that led to the first question of the interview:

Alison: We're all very excited about the new release in August. It's been a long time waiting to happen... seems to have taken longer than planned?

Brian:  We were touring with Lux for a long time, two years, and we started writing the new album in March, were on tour from August to November, in the studio from November to February, then touring again and now we are here. It feels like a long time, but it feels good; I'm pretty sure we'll be on tour for a long time with this album too!

Alison:  I think you should be really proud of the audience you drew this morning. After the first three songs, I went up to the top of the Toyota Park stadium with a view over to the second stage, and your crowd was huge! We hadn't realised that the gates were opening late this morning, and your crowd went from one person to huge as all these people poured in, the moment the gates opened.

Aaron Nordstrom, vocals, Gemini Syndrome
Aaron Noordstrom, Gemini Syndrome
Andy: I have a question for you; we're wondering about how you, the performers, feel about social media and about everyone using their cellphones during shows, posting cell phone photos and videos all over social media? [We're seeing different reactions from different performers, some banning phones entirely, some embracing it and asking fans to post everything.]

Brian: I think it's just a different age... it would feel weird to me [taking pictures during a show], because I grew up in an age when you went to a concert, and you just watched the concert. But my little brother, my youngest cousins? They are teenagers, and they grew up with phones in their hands. I think it's their version of love: to hold on to the memory. They do it naturally, with their phones. My first cell phone camera took horrible, small little pictures but today? There are all these cool apps for making videos on your iPhone. It's great technology. I think that technology is going to keep on growing, and we have to learn to work with it.

It's just their version of love...

Gemini Syndrome
Gemini Syndrome at Chicago Open Air, 2016
(And then we talked more; about how we can encourage Gemini Syndrome to play in Toronto, and in Sacramento again--it's been too long!!--about Niagara Falls, family weddings, glass-bottom buildings, ink tattoos, henna tattoos, and just how many interviews Brian and Aaron had done that afternoon--it was four in the afternoon when we sat down on the comfy couch in the Chicago Open Air press tent, and they had been in non-stop interviews since their set finished at around 12.30.. I'd say that that, and the huge and enthusiastic crowd, are all showing what Toon's Tunes/Cameras and Cargos have been saying for a long time: Gemini Syndrome are here for the long haul, and if you haven't heard them yet? What are you waiting for?)

Charles Lee Salvaggio, guitar, Gemini Syndrome
Charles Lee Salvaggio, guitar, Gemini Syndrome

Daniel SahagĂșn, guitar, Gemini Syndrome
Daniel SahagĂșn, Gemini Syndrome
Thank you, Brian Steele Medina, for the time--it goes by too fast!! And to Andy Wright of Andy Wright Studios for managing the interview and for the photo below! Transcription errors are all Alison's...)

Earlier coverage on Toon's Tunes/Cameras and Cargos for Gemini Syndrome:
- Aftershock Festival 2013, and review of LUX
- July 4th, 2014, Sparks, Nevada
- Aftershock Festival 2012.
- Toon's Tunes Gemini Syndrome photo gallery.

Many more photos in the Gemini Syndrome photo gallery from Chicago Open Air: just click here!

And catch them on tour now, throughout the USA!

Monday, August 1, 2016

Chicago Open Air photo gallery: Gojira; heavy, heavy metal from France

Joe Duplantier, vocals and guitar, Gojira
Joe Duplantier, Gojira, at Chicago Open Air
Gojira: the very, and enjoyably-so, heavy metal band from Bayonne, France, appearing at the first Chicago Open Air on 16th July. Great show!

Many more photos in the photo gallery... you know what to do, click here!

For more information about Gojira, tour dates, and more, see  After a few festivals in Europe, they will be back in the USA in September for an extensive North America tour. Look out for them near you!