REVIEW: Sad Night Dynamite Brings a Unique Spin on Trip Hop to Valley Bar (11-13-22)

PHOENIX — England’s Sad Night Dynamite has had two full length albums, both dropping in the last two years, but based on the fevered crowd reaction to their Sunday night concert at Valley Bar, with support from The Color 8, you might believe they are a group whose rabid cult-following stretches across decades and multiple albums. Valley Bar was the perfect venue for the show, as its location around the back of a building, and down an old staircase into the basement of the building felt like a secret show that only the coolest people know about. It’s a vibe that Sad Night Dynamite’s set kept going, in a set heavy with crowd interaction

The Color 8

The Color 8 - Valley Bar
The Color 8
| Photography:
Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

Phoenix’s The Color 8, for those unfamiliar, are a band that defies all expectations their first appearance may give an audience. From the first note of their opener “Galaxy,” one might expect a set of modern-day jazz-funk fusion, like The Meters’ Cabbage Alley album was pulled through a time warp and reimagined for a new generation. That on its own would have been incredible enough, but this is where The Color 8 swerves instead of staying any particular course. 

The Color 8 - Valley Bar
The Color 8
| Photography:
Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

“Is it alright if we switch things up a little bit?” asked guitar player Kal (stage name Kal The Guitar Hero). With that, Kal and bassist Jeremiah Smith laid into a heavy (with emphasis on heavy) metal riff for the song “Whoa,” joined by drummer Wisco 3’s heavy beats. His jazzy tempo from “Galaxy” gave way to a drumming so intense it sounded like he was hitting the drums with cinder blocks instead of sticks. Ashton Vaughn Charles, who was playing the saxophone just a song before, let loose with vocals that felt like a cross between the metal of System of the Down’s Serj Tankian with a splash of the hardcore punk of HR from Bad Brains. It was gloriously intense. 

Ashton Vaughn Charles (Saxophonist, Vocalist), The Color 8
Ashton Vaughn Charles (Saxophonist, Vocalist), The Color 8
Photography:
Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

They followed up jazz-funk fusion and metal with the post-reggae island track “Know the Plan.” They invited the audience to join in with each track and be a part of the experience (the band are veterans of First Friday Art Walk, where they were routinely joined by a bevy of different musicians which has lent itself well to their eclectic style). The new song “No Sleep” was a set highlight, featuring some gorgeous harmonies in the shared vocals from Wisco 3 and Jeremiah. Following the metal track “Run It Back,” with more audience participation throughout the song, Kal joked to the audience “We’re a bit bipolar ‘cause we go up and down,” before they launched into the R&B-soul groove of “X.” They closed out their set with “Savage Season.” 

Sad Night Dynamite

Sad Night Dynamite - Valley Bar
Sad Night Dynamite
| Photography:
Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

Playing their first show in Phoenix, Sad Night Dynamite from Somerset, England immediately proved to have built a strong fanbase in The Valley of the Sun. With the house lights down, the duo of best friends Josh Greacen and Archie Blagden joined their band to the appropriately named track “Intro.” As soon as they launched into “Demon” from this year’s album Volume II, the audience collectively lost their minds. As the two traded off vocals and weaved back and forth around the stage, they were musical puppet masters, moving the crowd this way and that at even the slightest of directions. During the song and throughout the night, Greacen rapped through a megaphone into his microphone, which is never not cool. 

Sad Night Dynamite - Valley Bar
Josh Greacen (Vocalist, Guitarist), Sad Night Dynamite
| Photography:
Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

For “Black & White,” Greacen played guitar while Blagden went into the crowd (shout out to the member of SND’s crew who stood on stage holding the mic chord high up, so that he could stand in the crowd without the mob of fans around him inadvertently unplugging the mic).  Following “Icy Violence” from their self-titled debut, it was Greacen’s turn to go into the crowd for “Smoke Hole.” As he waded out into the middle, he prompted the crowd with “Alright Phoenix, I want you to break my bones! On my count: 1, 2, 3… 4!” As Blagden and the band launched into the song, the crowd launched into Greacen, seemingly trying to follow through on his request, bouncing him around the circle pit like a pinball. Returning to the stage a little beat up, he jokingly opined “That’s more like a 10, Phoenix… I think I broke some ribs!” 

Archie Blagden (Vocalist), Sad Night Dynamite
| Photography:
Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

“We’re from this sad little island called England,” Greacen told the crowd after recovering from his circle pit beating. “Do you know what’s good about England?… Sad Night Dynamite,” Blagden responded, with the crowd roaring in approval. Excluding The Beatles, Bowie, and Monty Python, Sad Night Dynamite certainly made a compelling case throughout the night. 

The duo changed the mood with the beautiful, atmospheric “Tramp” from Volume II, with Greacen on keyboards. Their 13-song set featured seven of the nine songs from their debut Sad Night Dynamite, and four of the seven songs from their new album. They closed out their set with the chill dance groove of their new song “What Does That Make Me?” and “Krunk”. Sad Night Dynamite traveled approximately 5,186 miles to play their first show in Phoenix, and for this crowd, they truly brought the best thing in England to the Valley Bar.

Photo Galleries

Photographer: Rodrigo Izquierdo

Sad Night Dynamite & The Color 8 – Valley Bar 11-13-22

Photography © Reagle Photography
All Rights Reserved

THE RED JUMPSUIT APPARATUS Drops When We Were Young – Weekend One Behind The Scenes Mini-Documentary Today

The definitive behind the scenes mini-documentary of Red Jumpsuit Apparatus’ (RJA’s) experience from weekend one of the When We Were Young Festival (10/22-23/22), including Saturday’s festival cancellation, subsequent pop-up show with Hawthorne Heights and Armor for Sleep, and RJA’s next day’s performance.

The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus
When We Were Young – Weekend One Behind The Scenes Mini-Doc

Watch here:

During The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus’ soundcheck at the When We Were Young Festival, an announcement came over the loudspeaker stating the show for Day One was canceled due to high winds. RJA teamed up with Hawthorne Heights and Armor For Sleep and secured The Strat Hotel Casino for a free show.

Watch and hear literally everyone in attendance singing along to “Face Down” via video posted on their Instagram here.

Day Two, the When We Were Young festival goes as planned and RJA hits the stage.

During an interview with Variety Magazine, Frontman Ronnie Winter shared “It was one of my favorite sets in my entire career. Mainly because we were one of the first bands to play after day one ended so tragically. The vibe was high. It was like everyone, all at once, took a deep breathe and said, ‘Ok, this is really happening,’ which was really needed. In that moment, we were all united. It really was beautiful. I’m grateful I was alive to see it, and I felt honored to be a part of it in my small way.”

The audience, again, adding their voices to “Face Down” (which Billboard lists on their Greatest of All Time Alternative Songs Chart) during the powerful finale of RJA’s set.

RJA WWWY Day 2
Day Two – Photo Credit: K Enagonio

The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus (RJA) released a new symphonic version of their RIAA certified 5x Platinum hit Face Down on all streaming platforms Friday, October 21, followed by a new video on October 2. Face Down (Symphonic Edition) is a stirring, emotional follow-up to the original hit, both timeless and scathing indictments of domestic violence and its devastating impacts. The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus is partnering with leading digital domestic violence resource, DomesticShelters.org, to raise awareness about domestic violence and share free resources for people experiencing abuse.

Watch “Face Down (Symphonic Edition)” Music Video here:

The 2006 smash hit “Face Down” was written by RJA lead singer, Ronnie Winter, who witnessed firsthand the lifelong effects domestic violence has on abuse victims and their families. Since its initial release more than 15 years ago on the band’s RIAA certified Platinum debut album Don’t You Fake It (2006), “Face Down” has helped a countless number of domestic violence victims and survivors find their voices and work to escape abuse. “Face Down” has an enduring legacy of positive impact, with over 347 million streams on Spotify and over 120 million views of its original music video on YouTube alone. Fans of RJA and “Face Down” began an outpouring of support for the new Symphonic Edition on TikTok, with the announcement video generating more than 2.6 million views and thousands of comments in less than a week.

The band is well known for its Multi-Platinum debut album Don’t You Fake It (one of Alt Press Most Influential Emo Albums) and their 5x Platinum single “Face Down” (video / audio / lyrics), a timeless and scathing indictment of domestic violence. “Face Down” is also on the Billboard Greatest of All Time Alternative Songs chart.

RJA Billboard GOAT Alt

About The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus:

The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus is an American rock band formed in 2003, whose members include Ronnie Winter, his brother Randy Winter, Joey Westwood, Josh Burke and Jon Espy. Over their years as a band, RJA has amassed over 1 billion streams across platforms, achieved numerous Multi-Platinum, Platinum and Gold albums and singles, numerous Billboard #1’s and Top 10 radio singles, was named one of Alt Press Most Influential Emo Bands of All Time, was honored on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, and has been featured on major motion picture soundtracks, among many other achievements. Continued recent viral social success includes videos with 4M TikTok views, YouTube and more.

About DomesticShelters.org:

DomesticShelters.org is a service of Theresa’s Fund, an Arizona-based 501(c)3 non-profit charity started in 1992 by Preston V. McMurry, Jr. Launched In 2014, DomesticShelters.org provides the first and most extensive searchable digital database of domestic violence programs and shelters in the U.S. and Canada, as well as one of the largest sources of resources, tools and information for people experiencing and working to end domestic violence. DomesticShelters.org is also the host of the Purple Ribbon Awards, the first comprehensive awards program honoring the countless heroes of the domestic violence movement.

Learn more at DomesticShelters.org

Red Jumpsuit Apparatus online:



Featured photo (top) by Black Creek Productions



REVIEW: The Who’s Icons Roger Daltrey & Pete Townshend Front a Symphony of Sound at Ak-Chin Pavilion (10-30-22)

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PHOENIX — The Who is a band with a pedigree worthy of selling out stadiums, but this night held the ambiance of a relatively intimate venue at Ak-Chin Pavilion. Opening the show was Mike Campbell and The Dirty Knobs. This same large stage that can look almost empty for a quartet was filled to the brim with a full orchestra and ten times as many musicians. The publicity for this concert seemed to ‘fly under the radar.’ Many long time fans were there to see the legendary singer Roger Daltrey and guitarist Pete Townshend, and it was like ‘tasty icing on the cake’ to get a symphony of sound to elevate the band that coined the phrase rock opera. The setlist took advantage of the cacophony of instruments with selections from Tommy and Quadrophenia.

Mike Campbell and The Dirty Knobs

Setlist

Mike Campbell and the Dirty Knobs
| Photography:
Mark Greenawalt © All Rights Reserved

Campbell may not be a household name to everyone, but he was the right-hand-man to world renown Tom Petty, and as part of the Heartbreakers, Campbell entered the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002. He will forever be associated with and compared to Petty, and tonight was no exception. He looked the part, wearing a raggedy ‘Mad Hatter’ top hat and a frumpy pin-striped coat, and speaking the same register, timbre, and Florida dialect as Petty. 

Mike Campbell
Mike Campbell
| Photography:
Mark Greenawalt © All Rights Reserved

They were only allotted a short 6-song set and a mere sliver of the stage, but they made the best of it and kicked the night off with two Dirty Knobs original songs from their 2020 release Wreckless Abandon. The rest of the set was like seeing the ultimate tribute band playing Tom Petty “covers.” Except, this was authentic. You’re hard pressed to call them ‘cover’ songs when Campbell co-wrote the biggest crowd pleasers “Refugee” and the closing anthem “Runnin’ Down A Dream”. It’s a safe bet that some of Campbell’s songwriting prowess will fill this venue again next week when Stevie Nicks sings “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around.” 

The Who

Setlist

The stage was set and the multitude of supporting musicians were their places. Dim blue lighting washed over the many instruments that were foreign to most rock concerts and the crowd swelled with anticipation. The spotlights cut through the monochromatic background to reveal the colorful pair of superstars known as Daltrey and Townshend.

Roger Daltrey (Vocalist) & Pete Townshend (Guitarist), The Who
| Photography:
Mark Greenawalt © All Rights Reserved

Daltrey was wearing an unassuming sage t-shirt and signature blue-tinted glasses. Townshend, ever the showman, was dressed in a black sports jacket with a crimson handkerchief in the pocket and sporting rockstar sunglasses. The night was divided into three acts, and the first act was a celebration of Tommy that included “Overture,” “1921,” “Amazing Journey,” “Sparks,” “We’re Not Gonna Take It,” and of course, “Pinball Wizard.”

Roger Daltrey (Vocalist), The Who
| Photography:
Mark Greenawalt © All Rights Reserved

It did not take long for Daltrey to shift from wielding a pair of goatskin tambourines to commandeering the microphone and spinning it around like a giant lasso, like he has for decades. He has had some vocal issues to attend to in the past couple of years so the verdict was out as to how he would sound. It was a resounding yes, he was back to full throttle and sounded absolutely incredible. Full range, impeccable pitch, and that unique rasp that makes him a one-of-a-kind.

The Who with orchestra of touring &amp local musicians
Photography:
Mark Greenawalt © All Rights Reserved

The sound that the orchestra added was so full and powerful and perfectly mixed. Apparently, there were technical things on stage that were a nuisance, from Daltrey saying that there were a bunch of “mice in his in-ear monitors” to Townshend having monitor issues, and a guitar that completely ambushed the start of one song. Townshend remarked in his humorous snarky way that this venue was “a shit hole, parking lot of a venue” and that they “deserve better.” Daltrey’s reaction was priceless as he looked down and grinned, assumingly amused at the guitarist’s outspoken candidness. They soldiered-through the sound issues and made sure that the fans knew how much they truly appreciated them.

Keith Levenson (Conductor)
| Photography:
Mark Greenawalt © All Rights Reserved

The orchestra remained on stage for “Who Are You,” “Eminence Front,”, and “Ball and Chain” to round out the first act. The conductor, Keith Levenson and a core of four musicians tour with the band, while the remaining members of the up-to-48-piece orchestra are a specially handpicked group of players from each city.

Katie Jacoby (Violinist) & other orchestra members performing with The Who
Photography:
Mark Greenawalt © All Rights Reserved

The touring members included Katie Jacoby, the violinist that stole the show for the “Baba O’Reily” solo, Audrey Snyder on cello, Randy Landau on contrabass, and Emily Marshall on symphonic keyboards. The local musicians are the best of the best from the Phoenix Symphony, Arizona Opera, and other chamber groups and recording session players.

Audrey Snyder & Melanie Yarger (Cellists), Randy Landau (Contrabassist)
Photography:
Mark Greenawalt © All Rights Reserved

We spoke with cellist Melanie Yarger about being selected for the show:

This was by far one of the most epic experiences of my career,” she said. “Being onstage with an iconic band like The Who is mind blowing in itself, but their presentation with the thick orchestration is just next level. There is a reason why they are the benchmark for rock and roll.

Zak Starkey (Drummer), The Who
| Photography:
Mark Greenawalt © All Rights Reserved

For the second act, the orchestra left the stage for the core band to perform “You Better You Bet,” “The Seeker,” “Naked Eye,” “Another Tricky Day,” “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” and “Behind Blue Eyes.” The influence of two members of the classic lineup of The Who were ever present throughout the night, but sadly they could only be there in spirit. Drummer Keith Moon passed away in 1978 and bassist John Entwistle passed away in 2002. These are very large shoes to fill, but drummer Zak Starkey (son of Ringo Starr) has toured with them since 1996 and bassist Jon Button since 2017 and, pardon the pun, but these kids are alright. 

Jon Button (Bassist), The Who
| Photography:
Mark Greenawalt © All Rights Reserved

“Won’t Get Fooled Again” started with an explosion (and no audible count in) and then all eyes were on keyboardist Loren Gold for that groundbreaking sequenced keyboard exposition originally crafted by the mad scientist (Townshend). And, oh yes, Townshend is not too old to show off the windmill guitar attacks on this song. What a treat to see this live! There may only be one Pete Townshend, but there were two Townshends on stage. Pete’s little brother Simon has toured with them since 1996 as the second guitarist and backup vocalist.

Pete Townshend (Guitarist), The Who
| Photography:
Mark Greenawalt © All Rights Reserved

Speaking of vocals, so many of The Who’s catalog has wonderful vocal harmonies supporting Daltrey’s melodies and they were able to replicate them live with the help of Billy Nicolls, who was dedicated to vocals, both keyboardists, and obviously both of the Townshend brothers. Pete Townshend’s reported issues of hearing loss might have made one question if he would be able to hear well enough to sing on key, but rest assured that he sounded as good as ever taking lead vocals on “Eminence Front” and “I’m One” from Quadrophenia.

Simon Townshend (Guitarist, Backup Vocalist), The Who
| Photography:
Mark Greenawalt © All Rights Reserved

Act three was the ode to Quadrophenia and saw the return of the orchestra to the stage. I wish Entwistle could have been there to hear the horn section blasting out his arrangements on “The Real Me.” It was just a little too loud…exactly as it should be! Townshend composed Quadrophenia, The Who’s third rock opera, just shy of 50 years ago, and these songs are still getting airplay on classic rock stations today and reaching new fans. Songs “5:15” and “The Rock” fed the nostalgic thirst, but it was “Love, Reign O’er Me” that was more like an out-of-body experience… with a full symphony! It was an honor to be there and it is a memory that we collectively carried with us.

Pete Townshend (Guitarist), The Who
| Photography:
Mark Greenawalt © All Rights Reserved

With such a deep discography, it is no surprise that quite a few fan favorites had to be left out. This tour decided to leave out the whole era of the early years. It seems almost criminal that they didn’t play “My Generation,” “I Can’t Explain,” “I Can See For Miles,” “Magic Bus,” and a personal favorite: “Squeeze Box.” The newest song that they played was “Ball And Chain” from the 2019 album Who. Luckily, though, they did not leave town before entertaining us with a serving of “Baba O’Riely.”

The Who
| Photography:
Mark Greenawalt © All Rights Reserved

The windmills were grazing the candy apple red Stratocaster guitar and you could sense the pride Townshend still feels to perform this song after countless shows around the world. Katie Jacoby stole our hearts with her infectious smile during the violin solo (and we will probably never hear this song again without envisioning her playing that part). This ended a magical night of heartfelt musicianship and brilliant songwriting that has been our soundtrack since the British Invasion first filled our airwaves. Townshend ended the evening by introducing all of the touring members and bringing them out front for a wave goodbye.

Photo Gallery

Photographer: Mark Greenawalt

The Who & Mike Campbell and the Dirty Knobs – Ak-Chin Pavilion 10-30-22

Photography © Mark Greenawalt.
All Rights Reserved

REVIEW: AFI “Bodies Tour 2022” Lights Up & Sells Out Marquee Theatre (10-28-22)

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Tempe, AZ — Marquee Theatre hosted a sellout crowd for the return of AFI to the valley for the first time since their February 2017 sold out show at the same venue. The AFI “Bodies Tour 2022” stopped in this college town following a short COVID postponement, and included opener Drab Majesty with their unique ethereal sound to excite the fanbase. Known for high-energy live performances, AFI had their loyal followers fist-pumping and singing every song word-for-word. It was a memorable show to be sure and well worth the wait. 

Drab Majesty

Drab Majesty
| Photography:
Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

Playing in low-light with some dramatic smoke, Drab Majesty took the stage with their purposefully androgynous uniform look. The two-piece band sported white shirts with gray jackets, white face paint and black goggles, with matching white choppy hair. They had a synth-heavy sound with monotonous vocals, inciting memories of 80’s bands like The Smiths or Spandau Ballet. One fan was overheard comparing them to Joy Division, and they are not wrong. With choruses repeating lyrics like, “When you were dead, I took you by your head” from their song “Cold Soul”, they add a dark edginess to their seven-song set. 

Deb DeMure (Vocals, Guitar, Percussion), Drab Majesty
| Photography:
Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

The “darkwave” band was formed in 2011 in Los Angeles, California by Andrew Clinco – aka Deb DeMure – who currently provides vocals, guitar, and percussion for Drab Majesty. DeMure previously worked for the group Marriages as a drummer from late 2012 until 2017 when the band apparently broke. He is joined onstage by keyboardist and vocalist Alex Nicolaou – aka Mona D – who joined Drab Majesty in 2016.

Mona D (Keyboardist, Vocalist), Drab Majesty
| Photography:
Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

Their record label, Dais Records, claims “DeMure insists that the inspiration for the songs is received from an other-worldly source that Deb is merely a vessel through which outside ideas flow inward”. The duo have 3 albums on the label: Careless (2015), The Demonstration (2017) and Modern Mirror (2019). They have previously toured with The Smashing Pumpkins. 

A Fire Inside

Setlist

AFI (A Fire Inside)
| Photography:
Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

AFI is touring in support of their 2021 Bodies album, bringing “A Fire Inside” to Arizona, and what a show it was! The burgeoning crowd lit up from the first note of “Girls Not Grey,” from the 2003 album Sing the Sorrow. Frontman Davey Havok immediately climbed on a riser situated on the front of the stage, wearing a brass-studded vest with “Death of the Party” on the back, and the room exploded with energy. Havoc ran from one side of the stage to the other, and leaned precariously forward from the stage while singing directly to fans. When he wasn’t jumping from the riser, or swinging his microphone stand, he was belting out hit after hit from the AFI discography.  

Davey Havok (Vocalist), AFI
| Photography:
Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

Onstage was Havok, along with original drummer and backing vocalist Adam Carson, with Hunter Burgan on bass, backing vocals and keyboards, and Jade Puget also provided backing vocals and on the keys. Their 18 song set was not shy of hits, including an intense version “Escape From Los Angeles” from 2021’s Bodies album, a super-sultry version of “The Boy Who Destroyed the World” from the All Hallows EP, and an encore including: “Third Season” from Shut Your Mouth and Open Your Eyes (1997) and “Silver and Cold” from Sing the Sorrow (2003). Notably missing from the setlist, however, was “Miss Murder”, from 2006’s Decemberunderground album. 

Davey Havok (Vocalist), AFI
| Photography:
Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

Havoc knows how to connect to people and there’s a palpable love that’s reciprocated. While singing “I Hope You Suffer” from Burials (2013), he trusted the fans to support him as he walked across the crowd. You read that right. In some sort of biblical walk-on-water feat, he used outstretched palms to walk into the crowd about 10 deep. A feat to behold, to be sure, and a bit of a surprise to the Marquee’s bewildered security. Perhaps they underestimated the crowd, who would never, ever let him fall. Havoc is an icon, and AFI is in their bloodstream. 

Davey Havok (Vocalist), AFI
| Photography:
Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

AFI moved on to the “When We Were Young Festival” in Las Vegas the next day, leaving Arizona fans fulfilled, for now. This show has left a mark on the band’s devotees. Sometimes watching a crowd enjoy a show is as exciting as the show itself, and this is one of those times. AFI just brings it.

Photo Gallery

Photographer: Rodrigo Izquierdo

AFI & Drab Majesty – Marquee Theatre 10-28-22

Photography © Reagle Photography
All Rights Reserved

REVIEW: Panic! at the Disco Exacts Vengeance on the Footprint Center (10-23-22)

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PHOENIX – Panic! at the Disco returned to the Valley of the Sun for the first time in over 4 years; the longest absence from the state since the group was formed. At one point – between Valentine’s Day 2014 and March 29th, 2017, Panic! at the Disco (Panic) visited the Phoenix area a whopping 7 times, so the 4 year absence – in part due to the pandemic – meant that the fans in this area were hungry for the pageantry that comes with a Panic stage show. Opening for Panic was Jake Wesley Rogers, who catapulted into the public’s eye in 2012 when he competed – and was unfortunately eliminated in the quarterfinals – on America’s Got Talent. Following Rogers was MARINA, a Welsh-born singer/songwriter who started on her path to stardom across the pond in 2005. 

The three artists visited the valley on the “Viva Las Vengeance” tour, in support of the latest album – of the same name – from Panic! at the Disco. Together, the three bands promised to put on one entertaining show. The stage was a bit different than what most are used to with a square catwalk surrounding a standing room only pit for the lucky few who were able to score those prize tickets. If one were to stand in the middle of that area, it would only be around 15 feet from the stage in all directions, making it an incredible place to view this show.

Jake Wesley Rogers

Setlist

Jake Wesley Rogers
Jake Wesley Rogers
| Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © All Rights Reserved

As his accompanying band started up, Rogers emerged wearing a white, sparkly suit with ruby red high heeled boots. It was a triumphant entry, his hands held high as he spun around before he took a seat at the piano.

Jake Wesley Rogers
| Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © All Rights Reserved

Rogers may not be the most recognizable name on this tour, but he was an excellent choice to join Panic! He was an entertainer though and through, projecting some Freddie Mercury vibes when he whipped off his jacket, revealing a tank top. It would be easy to get lost in the majesty of his stage presence, but he is not only great at setting a scene and then chewing it right up, he is also a staggeringly talented vocalist. 

Jake Wesley Rogers
| Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © All Rights Reserved

At one point, he performed a cover of My Chemical Romance’s “Welcome to the Black Parade,” to the delight of the crowd. The mix of his vocal talents and his ability to impressively emulate Gerald Way shows that Rogers is the consummate entertainer, and we will likely see him quite a bit more on tours – perhaps even headlining on the scale of Panic – in the future. 

Jake Wesley Rogers
| Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © All Rights Reserved

Mid-set, he introduced himself and explained he was from Missouri, “You know…the Bible Belt,” and, chuckling, he showed off the soon to be infamous high heeled red boots – perhaps a nod to Brendon Urie’s time in the Broadway musical “Kinky Boots” –  and stated “I like to think I was the rhinestone on the belt buckle.” 

The 30-minute set was capped by “Pluto,” the title track of the album he released last year. As his performance was coming to an end, he announced he was putting his phone number up on the screen, and he would select one person to upgrade their seats. This was his way of giving back, as he had told the story of how, growing up, his mother took him to concerts, but they ended up sitting in the nosebleeds. This was his way of taking someone who was in the same type of situation, giving them a night they wouldn’t soon forget.

MARINA

Setlist

As the stage change occurred, a banner with “MARINA” was raised. This act alone caused a cheer to rise from the crowd, and it became clear that there is a huge portion of Panic fans who are also MARINA fans. It’s easy to see why, as they both share the flair for the dramatics.

Marina Diamandis (Vocalist), MARINA
| Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © All Rights Reserved

While there are no pyrotechnics that back up vocalist Marina Diamandis, she truly does not need them. She came out wearing a pink dress, slinking onto and owning the stage, and she launched into “Ancient Dreams in a Modern Land.” Standing on a white platform, Diamandis commanded the attention of the audience, keeping them in awe for the entire performance. 

Marina Diamandis (Vocalist), MARINA
| Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © All Rights Reserved

She greeted the crowd before “Man’s World,” saying “Phoenix! How are you feeling tonight? I’m so, so happy to be here, thank you for the warm welcome! I wasn’t expecting it.” Diamandis was extremely grateful for the love that the crowd showed her, thanking them between many of the songs, and also seemed a bit surprised at how well the crowd knew her music. Her mix of confidence and humbleness endeared herself to the crowd even more. It was hard to walk away from her set and feel anything but awe for her performance. 

Marina Diamandis (Vocalist), MARINA
| Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © All Rights Reserved

When she started out, she had stated she was influenced by Britney Spears and The Distillers’ singer Brody Dalle. She is now an influence herself, and there are undoubtedly many musicians and vocalists who are inspired by her for good reason: Her voice is stunning, she has the stage presence of a superstar (making the most of a minimalist background), and her lyrics are sharp and pointed, even with the upbeat sounding music. In short, it is no wonder that so many knew her music, and no wonder that she was given such a warm welcome from the crowd. Over the course of a 12-song set, she moved between the platform, her piano, and walked the stage with a fierce confidence. She closed her portion of the show with more gratitude to the audience, followed by “Bubblegum Bitch,” which drew the biggest cheers of her set.

Marina Diamandis (Vocalist), MARINA
| Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © All Rights Reserved

After MARINA’s set ended, the temperature in the arena started to plummet. Signs on the pillars on the way in warned that there would be flashing lights, smoke, and pyro effects. When you see a sign about pyro in an arena, and you feel the temperature dropping, it is a good sign that you’re about to get a lot warmer, and not just because you’re going to be dancing yourself into a frenzy. Panic! at the Disco is well known for their stage shows, which are always over-the-top and some of the most fun you can possibly have at a concert. 

There is also a build-up of anticipation before the show starts: on the sides of the stage, a clock counts down from 10 minutes, giving fans plenty of warning so they could return to their seats. During this countdown, various songs were playing, and as the last couple of minutes ticked by, the newly rediscovered masterpiece of a song “Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God)” by Kate Bush. As the song ended, the lights cut out, and a simulated thunderstorm started.

Panic! At the Disco

Setlist

Lights flashed, thunder rumbled, smoke poured from the stage and the cheers started. And then seemingly out of nowhere – due to some fantastic misdirection – Urie stood on the outer edge of the stage with a huge grin and a microphone. As he began to sing “Say Amen (Saturday Night),” he also began to slowly make his way around the loop up to his ultimate destination of the main portion of the stage. 

Brendon Urie (Vocalist), Panic! at the Disco
| Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © All Rights Reserved

For those who have not attended a Panic show, Urie is a showman to the core – a flashy entertainer who will make sure you’re having the time of your life. The first 6 songs of the set were quite familiar to the fans, ranging from “This is Gospel” to “Emperor’s New Clothes,” the song when the pyro really kicked in. As the skulls on the screen behind Urie and the band laughed, flames erupted across the stage. 30-foot flames produce massive amounts of heat, and with multiple fireballs erupting, it became very clear why the arena attempted to turn the massive room into an icebox. 

Brendon Urie (Vocalist), Panic! at the Disco
| Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © All Rights Reserved

Once the first portion of the show ended, Panic proceeded to play the entire new album, starting with the title track “Viva Las Vengeance.” Not all of the songs were overly impressive, but the presentation is what mattered most here. Joining Urie on stage was a guitarist, bassist, a small brass section, and stringed instruments. The three stringed instruments – two violins and a cello – were thrust into the spotlight during the openings for most of the new songs. The brass section would get their chance to shine during “Death Of A Bachelor” later in the show, as everyone – including the drummer – left the stage beyond the saxophonist, trumpeter, and the trombonist, who all joined Urie at the outer edge of the stage. 

Panic! at the Disco instrumentalists
| Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © All Rights Reserved

The tracks off of Viva Las Vengeance range from the tragic in “Don’t Let The Light Go Out”, to the bouncy “Sad Clown” – which sounds as if it was pulled straight from a musical. There is even a song that might make some imagine that Will Ferrell and Christopher Walken are about to burst onto the stage: the cowbell content of “Sugar Soaker” is excessive perfection – which is perhaps a paradox – but unlike “Jumbo Shrimp,” this makes sense once one sees a live performance of the song. Many bands don’t showcase their entire album at once, so it was a bit unusual to have 12 songs sandwiched between classics that all Panic fans know and love. 

Brendon Urie (Vocalist), Panic! at the Disco
| Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © All Rights Reserved

The new album also shows off the incredible, unearthly vocal range that Urie has. The 4-octave range is used throughout the previous albums, but to witness it in person is breathtaking. There seems to be very little that Urie cannot do, and he appears to relish each moment up on stage. The fans relished it as well, and the Shakespearean saying “parting is such sweet sorrow” would apply here. Fans in Phoenix will undoubtedly eagerly await the next show, which hopefully will not require another 4-year wait for Urie and his crew to give us a dazzling spectacle of lights, sounds, and imagination.

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Photographer: Katherine Amy Vega

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Panic! at the Disco | MARINA | Jake Wesley Rogers

Panic! at the Disco, MARINA, Jake Wesley Rogers – Footprint Center 10-23-22

Photography © Katherine Amy Vega, Kataklizmic Design
All Rights Reserved.

REVIEW: Lamb of God Invites Arizona to See the Omens at Arizona Financial Theatre (10-14-22)

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PHOENIX – In support of their new album Omens, Lamb of God performed with Killswitch Engage at the recently renamed Arizona Financial Theatre. Nearing the end of the approximately 2-month long “Omens” tour, an impressive slate of east coast bands was completed with acts Fit for an Autopsy from New Jersey, and the Washington D.C. progressive metal band Animals As Leaders.

There are certain elements that are expected at every metal show: One is a circle pit, which – for the uninitiated – is what it sounds like: a moving circle of humanity, some slamming into others, and others just there to run around and avoid those hits. Most in those pits walk away with mutual respect for everyone else who partook, and it is a staple for most shows no matter the size. Another would be passing by religious protests outside of the venue. While the protesters are mostly there to yell at attendees, they also provide comic relief for the fans of a band that used to be named “Burn the Priest.” There is also an unwritten rule that a metal show should have fire of some sort, and to the delight of the pyros in the audience, this show delivered.f

Fit for an Autopsy

Joe Badolato (Vocalist), Fit for an Autopsy
| Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © All Rights Reserved

Smoke rose from the stage as the pit filled and fans trickled to their seats. Drummer Josean Orta, guitarist and backing vocalist Pat Sheridan, guitarist Tim Howley, and bassist Blue Spinazola of Fit for an Autopsy (FFFA) took to the stage, with the first note of “Sea of Tragic Beasts” shortly following. Lead vocalist Joe Badolato erupted onto the stage, yelling out “ARIZONA!” before singing the first lines of “Tragic Beasts.”

FFAA have previously stated that they get their inspiration from Lamb of God (LoG), and in fact, Badolato temporarily replaced LoG lead vocalist Randy Blythe when he contracted COVID-19 earlier this year. Fit for an Autopsy released a cover of “Walk With Me In Hell,” which Metal Hammer postulates is even heavier than the LoG original release. 

Tim Howley (Guitarist), Fit for an Autopsy
| Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © All Rights Reserved

Indeed, while it is possible to draw parallels between the two, FFAA is often heavier than their idols. Badolato stalks the stage, headbanging between lines, and implored the crowd to bring their energy levels up. For some, a 4-hour long metal concert means a slightly less than energetic reaction to the opener, no matter how heavy they are. Badolato did his best to bring up the energy in the venue, so at one point – right before “Pandora” – he told the crowd that the song “involves a very massive circle pit, the biggest one this room has ever seen.” The fans gladly placated him, quickly forming a circle pit for the duration of the song.

Joe Badolato (Vocalist), Fit for an Autopsy
| Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © All Rights Reserved

As the set drew to a close, Badolato spoke about his time in the Phoenix area, mentioning he had lived there for a year during the pandemic, and noted his mother was currently at the concert. What Badolato didn’t mention was the fact he had owned a barbershop next to The Nile in downtown Mesa during his time in Arizona. He is a talented barber who regularly gives those on tour with him haircuts and beard trims.

Animals As Leaders

Matt Garstka (Drummer), Animals As Leaders
| Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © All Rights Reserved

The next band to take the stage was Animals As Leaders (AAL) – a trio of exceptionally talented musicians: Guitarists Tosin Abasi and Javier Reyes, and drummer Matt Garstka. There was but a single microphone on stage, set in front of Abasi, who used it sparingly. The music speaks for itself, with Garstka putting on an absolute clinic behind the kit. The ease at which he plays complex and technical beats are borderline unfair, and he is known as something of a prodigy. Currently just 33, he joined the band at 23 and has been blowing the minds of audiences ever since. Drum Magazine wrote an article – albeit nearly a decade ago – about the technical prowess of Garstka, and it seems the only thing that has changed is his skills have simply increased. 

Tosin Abasi (Guitarist), Animals As Leaders
| Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © All Rights Reserved

AAL being a three-person band means that each member needs to be able to perform at the top of their game, night-in to night-out. Reyes and Abasi do just that, and what these two wizards do with their 8-string guitars is something that no one would want to miss. In fact, as soon as they left the stage, the many in the pit – and the audience in the seats – made a beeline for the restrooms and concession stands. In a genre where it is not surprising to see two or three guitar players and a bass player, watching these two execute some incredibly complex patterns with no margin for error, producing sounds that normally take full bands to accomplish, it is no wonder that the theater stood in rapt attention, watching and soaking up every single note that poured forth from the trio. 

Javier Reyes (Guitarist), Animals As Leaders
| Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © All Rights Reserved

Compared to the other three frontmen in the night’s lineup, Abasi was a soft spoken – yet firm – and calm voice between the 6 songs the band performed. The set opened with 2016’s “Arithmophobia” – a song first performed live at the now defunct Livewire in Scottsdale, Arizona – and then showcased 4 songs from their newest album, The Madness of Many, before the band circled back to “CAFO” from their 2009 self-titled debut album. Before CAFO started, Abasi asked the crowd to give the crowd a round of applause for each of the other bands before saying, “this is going to be our last one of the evening. We’ll catch you next time we’re in Phoenix, take care.”  

Killswitch Engage

Jesse Leach (Vocalist), Killswitch Engage
| Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © All Rights Reserved

Killswitch Engage seemingly has become a staple in the Phoenix music scene, even though they’re based far across the country. This was the third time in this past year that they had performed in the Phoenix area, but there was no sign of fatigue from fans. The repeated appearances could also be due to the tour manager having roots in the area; a bonus for the band since the manager has contacts with local businesses and can get some great local brews delivered. 

Justin Foley (Drummer), Killswitch Engage
| Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © All Rights Reserved

As they took the stage, the difference between the size of the drum kit that AAL’s Garstka uses and that of Killswitch Engage’s drummer, Justin Foley, is notable. Foley prefers a smaller drum kit – a simple set-up compared to the monster that Garstka uses – but he is a master behind the kit. Literally; he has a masters degree from Hartt School of Music and has played with symphony orchestras in the past. It cannot be emphasized enough: Garstka and Foley are genius drummers, and to see the two back-to-back is a rare treat. 

Mike D’Antonio (Bassist), Killswitch Engage
| Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © All Rights Reserved

The rest of Killswitch Engage is vocalist Jesse Leach, guitarists Joel Stroetzel and Adam Dutkiewicz, and bassist Mike D’Antonio. Leach, while an intense presence onstage, does not have the angry, caged-animal style Badolato and Blythe share. Instead, he moves around from side to side with something that could be considered grace if one were to compare him to his contemporaries.

Jesse Leach (Vocalist), Killswitch Engage
| Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © All Rights Reserved

There is a mutual interaction – something unspoken if you will – between Leach and the fans. It is not to say the other bands cannot connect with the audience, it is instead that Leach focuses on connecting to the fans onstage, and his charisma shines through naturally. At one point, he stated that “At the end of the day, it’s all about unity man, it’s all about us coming together to have a good time.” He also made a point to ask how the people up in the nosebleeds were doing, and after asking if they have a bar up there, he said, “At least they’re taking care of you up there!” 

Adam Dutkiewicz (Guitarist), Killswitch Engage
| Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © All Rights Reserved

As the night drew to a close, the band jumped into their cover of Dio’s “Holy Diver”, a song they released in 2007. After it finished, Leach acknowledged the fans who sang the entire song, and then paid tribute to Ronnie James Dio by saying, “You have to pay respect for the masters, the ones who have paved the road for us.” Leach closed the night out by dedicating “The Signal Fire” to their managers, saying they had taken care of them in their 20s, and now they’re “old pricks.” As that song wrapped, Leach told the fans, “We love you!” before leaving the stage. 

Lamb of God

Lamb of God
| Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © All Rights Reserved

As the crews rushed out to set the stage for Lamb of God, a curtain was lowered, covering the stage and raising the anticipation for this upcoming spectacle. The song “Memento Mori” began to play as the lights fell – inciting cheers as a backlit, swaying silhouette of Blythe appeared. He sang the first few lines of the song in a surprisingly controlled, quiet – relatively speaking – manner. Then, a concussive pyrotechnical effect exploded, the curtain fell, and the night devolved into a maelstrom of noise, fireballs, and screaming guitars. 

Randy Blythe (Vocalist), Lamb of God
| Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © All Rights Reserved

As mentioned, Blythe has the stage presence of a caged beast; one that prowls in open, plain view, looking for his next prey to pounce on. His audience is utterly captive, and responds to his commands with glee. Circle pits opened, grew, shrank, and bodies surfed to the front of the stage where security helped them down to safety. Those who made it up to the front would then run back around and join the pit, where the entire process would start all over again. 

John Campbell (Bassist), Lamb of God
| Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © All Rights Reserved

There was a sense of euphoria in the air during this show, mixed with the overwhelming sonic boom that LoG produces. Blythe is joined onstage by guitarists Mark Morton and Willie Adler, drummer Art Cruz, and bassist John Campbell.

Art Cruz (Drummer), Lamb of God
| Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © All Rights Reserved

It is hard, if not impossible, to overstate just how much talent crossed the stage on this night. There is a bit of duality with Blythe; the character you see on stage is diametrically opposed to the person who he is offstage. The angsty, stalking beast exists in the way he approaches the issues of social justice – directed at the oppressors – but he is also an example of integrity. His arrest in the Czech Republic in 2012 is an example of this, and he made brief mention of his arrest before the start of “512,” which was inspired by his experience. An excerpt from his book on this matter can be found in the Rolling Stone article, “Lamb of God Singer Reveals What He Remembers of Deadly 2010 Czech Show.” 

Randy Blythe (Vocalist), Lamb of God
| Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © All Rights Reserved

Once “512” ended, he announced – to the frenzied cheering of the crowd – that they would be playing “Grayscale,” the 8th song off of Omens, live for the very first time. In typical LoG fashion, the entire album is a ridiculously incredible display of lyrical mastery as well as the artistry that comes from the masters of guitar and drum, providing Blythe a wonderful tapestry to weave his vocals onto. The album is a must have for anyone who even remotely enjoys LoG, as it is another banger of an LP from the legendary band. 

Randy Blythe (Vocalist), Lamb of God
| Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © All Rights Reserved

Throughout the night, Blythe made mention of the first show that the band had played at this venue 16 years ago with Megadeath. In the 16 years since first playing at the venue, LoG has returned 7 times, and is currently one of the few – if not the only – bands to play under all four names the theater has had. The venue currently known as “Arizona Financial Theatre” has had the names Dodge, Comerica, and Arizona Federal over the 20 years since it opened in downtown Phoenix. It is a very popular spot for LoG, as they have played half of their Arizona gigs in the venue since 2006, for a total of 8 shows there in 16 years.

Randy Blythe (Vocalist) & Willie Adler (Guitarist), Lamb of God
| Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © All Rights Reserved

The end comes even if no one is ready for it or really wants it to happen, and after thanking the crowd, jumping off the stage and singing with the front row of the mosh pit, and after the fiery stage show, it was time for Lamb of God to say goodbye.

Mark Morton (Guitarist), Lamb of God
| Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © All Rights Reserved

The last song of the night was “Redneck,” off the 2006 album Sacrament, released shortly before the first show they played at this theater known by many names. As the song came to a close, another concussive blast shook the venue, and the night officially ended. With quite a large fanbase in the area, there is little doubt that Phoenix will again see these four bands that are exceptionally technically adept and soul-shaking.

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Photographer: Katherine Amy Vega

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Lamb of God | Killswitch Engage | Animals As Leaders | Fit for an Autopsy

Lamb of God, Killswitch Engage, Animals As Leaders, & Fit for an Autopsy – Arizona Financial Theatre 10-14-22

Photography © Katherine Amy Vega, Kataklizmic Design
All Rights Reserved.

Puscifer Release “Man Overboard” Video from “Parole Violator” Concert Film; Extend Viewing

Jerome, AZ – Puscifer’s recent limited engagement, concert-meets-feature films: V is for Versatile: A Puscifer Concert Film featuring music from the V is for… era and Parole Violator: A Puscifer Concert Film featuring Conditions of My Parole, have been extended for viewing here through Nov. 7 (initially the films were slated to run through the morning of Nov. 1).

Watch “Man Overboard” from Parole Violator here:

Meeting at the intersection of music and theater, Puscifer is known for their thematic, multimedia-laced tours. From a “Hee Haw”-style jamboree to a televangelist revival, from sitting ringside at a Lucha Libre match to the advent of Agent Dick Merkin and the Pusciforce, Puscifer’s transition from live performances to film is a natural extension of the music-meets-acting troupe. The pandemic-induced dawn of the at-home concert experience provided Maynard James Keenan, Mat Mitchell and Carina Round with the tools to turn to film, having now released two movies to date: 2020’s Existential Reckoning: Live at Arcosanti and 2021’s Billy D and The Hall of Feathered Serpents featuring Money $hot by Puscifer.

“Those with creative minds are restless. Lockdown was only physical, not mental,” offers Keenan. “The Pandemic was the perfect springboard and opportunity for us all to flex our creative muscles. Here is more evidence.”

V is for Versatile: A Puscifer Concert Film featuring music from the V is for… era Puscifer take you into the famed studios of Los Angeles’ Sunset Sound, where everyone from Led Zeppelin to Van Halen to Elton John and Tom Waits recorded classic albums. In this live performance piece, the band invites fans behind-the-scenes as they re-interpret and re-record songs from their V is for… era. Agent Dick Merkin, Major Douche, the briefcase and a few surprise cameos are interspersed amongst the studio footage.

Parole Violator: A Puscifer Concert Film featuring Conditions of My Parole

Billy D is in jail, Hildy is on the war path and Peter Merkin, as usual, is up to no good. The saga of the Bergers continues as Puscifer pairs the duo’s ongoing melodrama with a live, track-by-track re-imagination of the band’s critically-acclaimed 2011 album, Conditions of My Parole. Visually, Parole Violator is evocative of Keenan’s North Arizona homestead, with Puscifer’s performance married to striking visuals, dramatic lighting, and in a nod to the band’s 2011/2012 tour in support of the collection, closes with a campfire sing-a-long.

Both V is for Versatile and Parole Violator have album companions, available on vinyl, CD and streaming in November. Pre-orders are available via puscifertv.com.

About Puscifer

Born somewhere in the Arizona desert, Puscifer is an electro-rock band, multimedia experience, traveling circus, and alien abduction survivors. The group’s catalog consists of four full-length studio albums: V is for …[2007], Conditions of My Parole [2011], Money $hot [2015], and Existential Reckoning [2020] — in addition to a series of EPs and remixes. Beyond the core trio of Maynard James Keenan, Mat Mitchell, and Carina Round, the group’s ever-evolving ecosystem encompasses Greg Edwards, Gunnar Olsen, Juliette Commagere as well as a cast of characters such as Billy D and his wife Hildy Berger, Major Douche, Special Agent Dick Merkin, and many more. Meanwhile, the moniker’s origins can be traced to a 1995 episode of the HBO classic Mr. Show where Keenan first used the name “Puscifer.” In addition to tallying tens of millions of streams and views, they’ve piqued the curiosity of the press. Entertainment Weekly christened them, “Exceptionally groovy,” and Revolver fittingly described them as “indescribable.” Renowned for an immersive live show, the group’s performances blur the lines between concert and theater, traversing the dusty American Southwest with Billy D and Hildy or the sweaty squared circle with Luchadores. They’ve brought their unique live experience to life everywhere from Coachella to Bonnaroo. On their 2020 debut for Alchemy Recordings/Puscifer Entertainment/BMG entitled Existential Reckoning, Puscifer track Billy D back to the desert and, just maybe, uncover the truth about aliens once and for all.

Puscifer online:



Featured photo (top) by Priscilla C. Scott




When We Were Young Festival announces 2023 lineup

Featuring Blink-182, Green Day, 30 Seconds to Mars, the Offspring, Good Charlotte, 5 Seconds of Summer, All Time Low and Many More

Las Vegas Festival Grounds – Saturday, October 21, 2023

Following the undeniable popularity and immediate sell out of the hit inaugural When We Were Young Festival 2022, which takes place later this month, organizers are excited to announce the lineup for When We Were Young 2023, set to return to the Las Vegas Fairgrounds on Saturday, October 21, 2023.  

With an epic pop-punk twist, next year’s bill delivers a colossal collection of the all-star bands that perfected the genre, including headliners Blink-182, featuring reunited original members Mark Hoppus, Tom DeLonge and Travis Barker and one of the most influential bands of the genre, Green Day.

The lineup also features fan favorites 30 Seconds To Mars, The Offspring, Good Charlotte, 5 Seconds of Summer and All Time Low, Yellowcard, Rise Against, Sum 41, Pierce the Veil, Gym Class Heroes, Michelle Branch, Thrice, Rise Against, Simple Plan, New Found Glory and many more.

When We Were Young 2023 admat

Fans can sign up now for the presale that begins Friday, October 14 at 10 am PT for fans who sign up for early access to passes online at whenwewereyoungfestival.com.

Following the presale, any remaining tickets still available will go on sale to the general public beginning Friday, October 14 at 2 pm PT.  Layaway payment plans start $19.99 down.  

GA tickets start at $249.99, GA+ tickets start at $419.99 and VIP tickets start at $519.99. VIP cabanas will also be available to purchase for guests 21 years of age and older. 

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SPECIAL REVIEW: My Chemical Romance Brings Off-the-charts Seismic Velocity to Tacoma Dome (10-3-22)

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Tacoma, WA — A surreal air swept over the night that a once dormant My Chemical Romance erupted on the stage of Tacoma Dome, following a warm-up by “emo” post-hardcore cohorts Taking Back Sunday and anti-folk singer-songwriter Kimya Dawson from Olympia, WA.

My Chemical Romance at Tacome Dome 10-3-22
| Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © All Rights Reserved

The show arrived nearly 3 years after the Halloween 2019 announcement of the reunion, and 9.5 years following the March 2013 break-up of this band with a gargantuan legacy. To top it off, it had been 11 years since Washington state had last seen My Chemical Romance (MCR/My Chem) perform on September 1st of 2011, at White River Amphitheatre on the 10th Annual Honda Civic Tour, co-headlining with blink-182. Yet, somehow, as MCR released each note into the atmosphere on the evening of October 3rd, the achingly forlorn feelings that persisted throughout the years of their absence finally melted away.  

Kimya Dawson

Setlist

On March 9th of this year, Dawson announced she would be opening for My Chemical Romance at Tacoma Dome. As an acoustic guitar wielding solo artist with a folksy sound, some fans of the rock opera stylings of MCR initially found the choice of opener perplexing.

She is best known as part of a duo named Moldy Peaches, whose song “Anyone Else But You” was at the end of the film Juno (2007), performed by Elliot Page and Michael Cera. Independent of Moldy Peaches, she contributed a whopping 12 songs to Juno – on its soundtrack, within the film but excluded from the OST, and a few “almost adopted songs” that were released on a b-sides soundtrack.

Kimya Dawson performing at Tacoma Dome
Kimya Dawson performing at Tacoma Dome 10-3-2022. Fan phone pic.

Dawson and her daughter Panda (who is also an artist), performed together in matching Ernie sweaters, à la Bert and Ernie from Sesame Street. For the duration of Dawson’s performance, the big screens on each side of the stage stayed illuminated with her name and an illustration versus live video, preventing a visual of the artist and her daughter for the majority of the audience, and leading to some bewilderment when she said they were “just a couple of Ernies hanging out.” The set included “You Are My Baby” – a song Dawson wrote for now 16-year-old Panda when she was a “little teeny tiny newborn”. Kimya expressed, “I can’t even believe it… being able to share the stage with my child is the best.” MCR frontman Gerard Way later dedicated “Teenagers” to Panda.

“‘[Moldy Peaches] are not sort of amateur, lo-fi indie,’ said Geoff Travis, the founder and president of Rough Trade, an English independent label that once signed the Smiths and the Violent Femmes, and has recently signed both the Strokes and the Moldy Peaches. ‘If Lou Reed was writing these songs at this age, he would be absolutely jealous. This is really serious, world-class songwriting … and the performance is so unusual, and it is so naked emotionally. It is very, very brave.’” - Deborah Netburn, Observer - "Sesame Street Meets Avenue A in Goofy Tunes of Moldy Peaches”

Listening to the sound of Dawson’s songs coupled with her witty lyrics brought Amanda Palmer to mind, especially during “The Beer” with black humor reminiscent of Palmer’s notorious “Oasis”. As it turns out, “The Beer” was released in 2003 and “Oasis” was released in 2008. What’s more, Palmer actually covered Dawson’s song “All I Could Do” with her father Jack Palmer in 2015, and Dawson nodded to Palmer in a Tweet sharing an MTV article from November 2016 about whether oppression from Trump’s presidency would lead to better music. 

One link between Dawson and My Chemical Romance is their outspoken LGBTQ+ allyship.

During “I Like Giants”, Dawson tweaked the lyrics after, “She said, ‘I like giants, especially girl giants’” to add, “and trans and non-binary giants!” Before following “The Beer” with “Loose Lips”, she said, “I don’t know why I put this one back-to-back but we’ll see what I can do,” presumably because both songs are rather fast-paced. 

Excerpt from “Loose Lips”:
And we'll pray, all damn day, every day
That all this shit our President has got us in will go away
While we strive to figure out a way we can survive
These trying times without losing our minds 
(...full lyrics)

Mid-song, Dawson shout-sang, “Fuck fascism!” and proceeded to give an impactful monologue:

“On this day in 1967 Woody Guthrie died, and he was very outspoken against fascism, and I just wanted to acknowledge him, uh… he is the OG!” She went on to say, “…so, the original, like, lyric was, ‘Fuck Bush’, but that was like 20 years ago, and then I was saying ‘Fuck Trump’  but I don’t even want to think about that guy. And I could be like, ‘Fuck Marjorie Taylor Greene!’, you know, ‘fuck Matt Gaetz, fuck Ben Shapiro, fuck Mitch McConnel… DeSantis,’ you know, ‘Bezos… Proud Boys, TERFs… the list is endless… but not clowns. I love clowns.” (Video

Dawson’s modest 6-song set was finalized as a trio with Panda and a surprise guest – MCR’s rhythm guitarist Frank Iero – performing “Anyone Else But You”.

Frank Iero (Guitarist), My Chemical Romance
| Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © All Rights Reserved
Iero later wrote on Instagram

“Last night i got to play one of my favorite songs with one of my favorite artists, before getting back up on that same stage a little later and playing more of my favorite songs with my best friends… all while my daughter watched and filmed. Life is pretty darn ok sometimes.

Thank you Kimya and Panda for being the absolute raddest and for sharing your stage with me, it was a dream come true. thank you Tacoma. Thank you rock and roll. music is magick. KTF 🖤 xofrnk”

Follow Kimya Dawson:


Taking Back Sunday

Setlist

Taking Back Sunday from the back of Tacoma Dome 10-3-2022. Fan phone pic.

“We’re here to warm you up for My Chemical Romance… Mikey Fuckin’ Way is not coming out to a cold audience!” frontman Adam Lazzara declared amidst their set, referring to MCR’s bassist.

Mikey Way (Bassist), My Chemical Romance
| Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © All Rights Reserved

Indeed, fellow “Taste of Chaos” tour veterans Taking Back Sunday (TBS) served as an integral segue between Kimya Dawson and My Chemical Romance. 

Taking Back Sunday’s 8-song set started with “What’s it Feel Like to Be a Ghost?” from their 2006 LP Louder Now. The mix of Lazzara’s dirty vocals and the band’s instrumentals seemed to be off for the first few songs, and his stage banter felt a bit obligatory and forced. However, what may have seemed to constitute standard intros to band members between songs was actually rather significant to any fan aware of the band’s dramatic history. Guitarist John Nolan and bassist Shaun Cooper left TBS in 2003, but returned in 2010.

Before starting the second song of their set, “A Decade Under the Influence”, Lazzara gave big-ups to drummer Mark “Thunderbolt” O’connell, who lives true to his nickname “when his foot hits the kick drum”. Following the song “Tidal Wave”, he shouted, “…this is my pal, and yours… John Nolan on guitar!” 

Taking Back Sunday at Tacoma Dome 10-3-2022. Fan phone pic.

Their energy spiked and sound solidified with “Error Operator” and sustained through the 4 remaining songs, transforming them into that promised pre-heater. Unfortunately the screens continued to merely display a still image – Taking Back Sunday’s panther logo – until My Chemical Romance performed. However, the energy of this rock band along with the spectacle of colorful stage lights brought satisfactory stimulation to the crowd.

Taking Back Sunday at Tacoma Dome 10-3-2022. Fan phone pic.

It was surprising how much space was available in the general admission between the crowd and front row of seats, even after it later filled out a little more for the headliner. One of the most entertaining parts of TBS’s performance was when someone dove beneath the barricade (separating row A of seats from the pit) as if they were on a stealth mission, and strolled up to the crowd.

Taking Back Sunday at Tacoma Dome 10-3-2022. Fan phone pic.

“Ladies and gentlemen, we have but a-two songs left for you this evening,” said Lazarra, which elicited a shocked and disappointed, “WHAT?!” from some fans. He continued, “Now, make no mistake, we are very well aware (as we feel it too), of how long you’ve been waiting for this show tonight… Us, too! So, with that said, I would like to thank each and every one of you for being so kind and showin’ us a good time… Now, my pal John over here… he’s gonna blow your minds. They don’t call him ‘tomcat’ for nothing.” (Video)

The last 2 songs of Taking Back Sunday’s performance, “Cute without the ‘E’ (Cut from the Team)” and “MakeDamnSure”, are guaranteed crowd-pleasers. Their most recent studio album Tidal Wave was released 6 years ago. Eddie Reyes, who originally founded TBS with former member Jesse Lacey of Brand New, departed the band in 2018 citing alcoholism as the culprit. In 2019, they released Twenty, a 20th anniversary compilation, and of course COVID-19 took over the world in 2020. All things considered, if they are resting on their laurels (mind you, touring and performing are no small tasks), perhaps they can be forgiven for doing so while the nostalgia of individuals formed on their music is still running high.

As part of a culmination of the emo revival that has been steadily expanding over the last several years (which has conflated emo and pop punk), Taking Back Sunday will continue to perform in the shadow of My Chem up through the last day of the seemingly-impossible “When We Were Young” festival, which is spread out over 3 dates on 2 weekends at the Las Vegas Festival Grounds. 

When We Were Young festival admat
“When We Were Young” festival line-up

Despite the fact that multiple massive festivals have taken place and continue to be planned since the pandemic eased up (such as Coachella, Lollapalooza, Innings, Bonnaroo, Firefly, Aftershock, Austin City Limits, Zona, and more), this particular festival stood out as “too good to be true” and has received heavy speculation and criticism over logistics and feasibility – especially initially, when only one 1 day was announced. It was called “the next Fyre festival” by the faithless and snarky, and sensationalized by the uninformed as being put on by the company behind Astroworld: Live Nation – the company that puts on nearly all major concerts in the United States. Perhaps it is simply difficult for the “misunderstood” demographic to which this festival caters to believe that it is possible to get what they want.

An updated site map for an expanded general admission (GA) area was posted on October 6th, much to the ire of the VIP section. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out. 

“Ladies and gentleman, we are a band called Taking Back Sunday… and we hope all your dreams come true!” said Lazzara as their performance finished.

Taking Back Sunday live at Tacoma Dome
Taking Back Sunday at Tacoma Dome 10-3-2022. Fan phone pic.

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My Chemical Romance

Setlist

“My Chemical Romance were undoubtedly the rock superstars of the 21st century.” – Paul Travers, Kerrang’s “10 Moments that Made My Chemical Romance Superstars”

Gerard Way (Vocalist), My Chemical Romance
| Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © All Rights Reserved

Despite the grueling wait for the return of My Chemical Romance, who are now nearing the end of their reunion tour, the show at Tacoma Dome felt like it went through a time warp.

Gerard Way (Vocalist), My Chemical Romance
| Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © All Rights Reserved

Sure, the band may have been stripped of costumes, make-up, and theatrics – given permission to be more of a normal rock band – but the magnitude of their performance spoke the prevailing truth that all of that is just fluff – the real power lies in the showmanship and musical expertise of the group. Gerard Way (lead vocalist), Mikey Way (bassist), and Ray Toro (lead guitarist, backup vocalist) especially radiate in their stage presence.

Gerard Way (Vocalist), My Chemical Romance
| Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © All Rights Reserved

When they took the stage they launched into their newest single “The Foundations of Decay” (released May 12, 2022) – a track that beautifully combines the raw essence of their debut LP I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love with musical maturity that one might say channels Tool.

Mikey Way (Bassist), My Chemical Romance
| Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © All Rights Reserved

The stage setup included a backdrop and props of a decaying city. On this tour, MCR’s setlists have varied wildly in comparison to most tours, which tend to stick to the same songs or change up just a couple of songs on most stops. However, the introductory song has remained the same throughout their reunion tour, and that works well – because one of the most exciting things a fan can experience after all of this time, on top of the ecstasy of seeing them live, is to kick it off with a fresh, explosive sound. If “The Foundations of Decay” is any indicator of what can be expected of a future studio album, there is no end to the anticipation.

Ray Toro (Guitarist), My Chemical Romance
| Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © All Rights Reserved

Including the encore, My Chemical Romance performed 19 songs at Tacoma Dome. For anyone who discovered them when “I’m Not Okay (I Promise)” was released as a single, it was the perfect song to follow the first, flipping from the present to the start. This track of course comes from their second studio album, Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge, however many fans were not turned on to the Bullets album (fun fact: it was produced by Thursday vocalist Geoff Rickly) until after being introduced to this album.

Jarrod Alexander (Drummer), My Chemical Romance
| Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © All Rights Reserved

Still more were blind to the magic of My Chem until after “Welcome to the Black Parade” was released. The music video for this track was awarded the title of MTV’s “Greatest Music Video of the Century” in 2017. This achievement was deeply gratifying to a fanbase aware of how criminally underrated MCR once was, and every heap of praise this band has received since the announcement of their return continues to be sweetly satisfying. 

“They offered up spiritual solutions to real problems, and they did it with huge riffs and big theatrical stage shows, with rarely a hint of irony or detachment… it’s unlikely there will ever be a band quite like them again.”

Kyle Anderson, Entertainment Weekly’s “My Chemical Romance: the last most important band on the planet”
Gerard Way (Vocalist), My Chemical Romance
| Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © All Rights Reserved

The encore began with Gerard reading an excerpt from Interview with the Vampire with heavy distortion over his voice, and it consisted of the banger “Vampire Money”, the classic “Vampires Will Never Hurt You”, and closed with the solemn “Cancer”.

Jamie Muhoberac (Keyboardist), My Chemical Romance
| Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © All Rights Reserved

Before starting the delightful “Ballroom Blitz”-esque intro of “Vampire Money”, Gerard professed his and his wife’s love for The Batman: “…Lyn-Z and I watched the new Batman. We had like a little weekend getaway, it was really fucking rad, and… we really fucking liked it. We LOVED it. We watched it two times in a row it was so fucking good! …It was that good…. THAT. FUCKING. GOOD! …and Robert is really, incredibly fuckin’ handsome.” (Video)

Gerard Way (Vocalist), My Chemical Romance
| Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © All Rights Reserved

This is worth noting because Gerard Way is the creator and writer of The Umbrella Academy, a comic book series which was adapted into a Netflix series that broke numerous records in viewership. So if you have wavered at all on whether another adaptation of the Batman story is worth your time, this endorsement may tip the scales for you.

Gerard Way (Vocalist), My Chemical Romance
| Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © All Rights Reserved

In an NME article, “My Chemical Romance defend ‘Cancer’ track”, Gerard is quoted as saying, “It’s not a poetic track… It’s very direct, very brutal, but that’s the way disease is. Obviously cancer is being used as a metaphor… But I also wanted the song to be directly about the disease, because it’s something that the patient has gone through and it’s a very powerful thing. For me it was almost like an attempt to write the darkest song ever, and I think we achieved that.”

With regard to the closing song, on the walk toward the exit of the dome, a fan could be overheard saying, “…why did you end on this? Now I’m going to cry myself to sleep!”

Frank Iero (Guitarist), My Chemical Romance
| Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © All Rights Reserved

Sprinkling in upbeat songs from Danger Days throughout the set list certainly contributed to a continuous buzz throughout the show. The only songs from the same album that were performed consecutively were “Famous Last Words” and “Welcome to the Black Parade” from The Black Parade – obviously fan favorites, as it seemed that every person in the 23,000-seat venue was singing along.

Ray Toro (Guitarist), My Chemical Romance
| Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © All Rights Reserved

Mixing songs from their 4 studio albums created an excellent ebb and flow, and the inclusion of the “I’m Not Okay” b-side “Bury Me in Black” was also a treat. Unfortunately, Washington was not treated to a live experience of any of the songs from the Conventional Weapons compilation album of unreleased tracks. However, surrounding shows in Portland, OR (Oct. 2) and Oakland, CA (Oct. 5) included “Boy Division” and “The World is Ugly”.

Gerard Way (Vocalist), My Chemical Romance
| Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © All Rights Reserved

This weekend, My Chemical Romance is appearing in the truly incredible line-up of “Monster Energy Aftershock 2022” festival alongside the likes of Muse, Evanescence, Slipknot, Kiss, Bring Me The Horizon, Stone Temple Pilots, Rob Zombie, The Pretty Reckless, Halestorm, Ice Nine Kills, Judas Priest, The Struts, Motionless in White, and many more. 

The last date of the “When We Were Young” festival, October 29th, will be the last show of the North American leg of MCR’s reunion tour. Afterward, Mexico City will see them in mid-November. Finally, after touring since mid-May of this year, they will get a break until March 2023 when they are scheduled to perform 1 show in New Zealand and 6 more in Australia.

My Chemical Romance
| Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © All Rights Reserved

My Chem made the Cascadian crowd sweat that night, and you can bet money that the MCRmy (their dedicated fanbase) is insatiably hungry for more – they won’t let go. May this not be considered the famous last tour of My Chemical Romance, but rather just the beginning of a new era with great longevity.

“It’s pretty much accepted canon at this point that My Chemical Romance are one of the most significant rock bands this side of the millennium. And as yesterday’s teenagers become today’s arbiters of acceptable nostalgia, that sentiment isn’t going anywhere soon.”

– Eli Enis, Paste’s “The 10 Most Underrated My Chemical Romance Songs”

Photo Gallery

Photographer: Katherine Amy Vega

My Chemical Romance – Tacoma Dome 10-3-22

Photography © Katherine Amy Vega, Kataklizmic Design
All Rights Reserved.

Victoria K to Release Sophomore Album ‘Kore’

Australia’s Victoria K returns in 2022 for the release of the sophomore album Kore this coming October via Rockshots Records to follow the 2020 debut album Essentia.

Offering up progressive symphonic sound, Kore was specifically written to provide a full orchestral experience that drives people through a sonic journey of growth and grandeur.

Pre-Order Kore

Victoria K Kore album artwork
Victoria K’s ‘Kore’ album artwork

A concept record, Kore” explores modern-day issues through the Homeric Hymn to Demeter (the story of Persephone). Victoria K conceptualized the idea for the album with her producer Lee Bradshaw and then spent many months researching and analyzing the Homeric Hymn to Demeter, even meeting with experts of the Homeric Hymns from Greece. The story was then broken up into its different parts where Victoria Knight wrote the lyrics and developed the melodies for each section of the tale, exploring the myth from a modern perspective.

Victoria K
Victoria K

The tracks were written specifically to encapsulate the various sections of the Homeric Hymn to Demeter and tell the story chronologically through each song and the music grows in intensity throughout the record capturing the emotional state of Persephone and other characters as the story progresses.

The various instruments were then written by Victoria around the lyrics and further enhanced and developed through the production process. Lee Bradshaw then finalized the songs by writing orchestral scores for each song, which were recorded live in Europe, before the final mixing and mastering.

Recommended for fans of Lacuna Coil, Rammstein, Within Temptation, Spirit Box, and Delain, Victoria K‘s forthcoming “Kore” will be released on October 14, 2022.

Victoria K’s “Tower” Music Video

Victoria K online:

News & Reviews from the Fiery Mosh Pits of Arizona