Rocking Live Review: Black Sabbath at the United Center

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Last night, Black Sabbath said goodbye to more than 20,000 fans at the United Center after 47 years of being in the music business and producing occult compositions for anyone willing to listen.

Having to wait nearly half an hour to enter the stadium because of high security, gave one a chance to look around and see who some of Black Sabbath’s fans were: the older generation who presumably grew up with the band and stuck around through the band’s victories and mishaps, the younger crowd who listened to them because of the older generation, and the people who just wanted to check them out before they were done for good.

Their last tour, simply and rightly named The End, has been summing up their 19 studio albums, although in reality Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and hired drummer Tommy Clueftos have been focusing on the first four. The beginning of the end started with a short video flashing images of an apocalyptic world in which the fallen angel emerges and finishes with the world and all those who inhabit it. The bells of “Black Sabbath” fill the place and from a pool of smoke comes Ozzy and Co. dressed in all black, ready to give sermon.

Throughout “Fairies Wear Boots”, “After Forever” and “War Pigs”, Ozzy kept lifting his hands to the crowd to show gratitude and brought up the many accusations of the band’s satanic motives: “We were just having fun.” You could see age has caught up with Ozzy making him only be able to rock back and forth on the mic and shake his hands towards the crowd but you must admire his left-over energy and his ability to keep staying in tune. Iommi and Butler’s playing is still impeccable as Butler introduced “N.I.B.” like it was just another show from their earlier days. Iommi’s “Iron Man” riff boomed and has never sounded better, making the audience believe that an immense creature was about to rise from the center of the stage, not to mention Clueftos ardent two minute drum solo seemed to bring out the beast. Images of the band’s prior performances during the 70s were lit up on the side screens reminding the audience of how far the band has come and how quickly the time has passed.

47 years came to an end with “Paranoid” and “Children of the Grave” with confetti showering the audience, hardly believing that two and a half hours have gone by. With hardly any air left in him, Ozzy stretched out his hands, blessing us, and telling us to drive home safely.

Setlist:

1 Black Sabbath

2 Fairies Wear Boots

3 After Forever

4 Into the Void

5 Snowblind

6 War Pigs

7 Behind the Wall of Sleep

8 N.I.B.

9 Hand of Doom

10 Rat Salad

11 Iron Man

12 God is Dead?

13 Under the Sun

14 Dirty Women

15 Paranoid

16 Children of the Grave

Image by Xanic Lopez.

 

Rocking Live Review: Ranch Ghost, Old Baby and All Them Witches at Lincoln Hall

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The construction on I-90 West caught me by surprise, making me curse at every slow driver I encountered while making my way to Lincoln Hall hosting one of the many shows of Tomorrow Never Knows on the North Side of Chicago. When I arrived Nashville natives, Ranch Ghost, engulfed in different hues of oranges and yellows, was already 5 minutes into their set with a bluesy, thunderous sound. Their music is that of the likes of the Growlers, giving off a more modern surf-rock vibe but maintaining their own identity. “Black Caboose” was accepted greatly by the audience but I was still confused as to why the crowd was standing still.

Following soon after was quintet Old Baby, whose ominous effect contrasted greatly to Ranch Ghost’s yet it worked in their favor. The mysteriousness of the band kept audience members intrigued as someone asked me what band was currently playing and quickly followed with a “they’re very good.” Old Baby followed their first, short song with a long, spiritual melody beginning with the word “someday’s coming, someday’s here.” A series of lulled songs followed in which at times reminded me of an early, heavier Pink Floyd.

The crowd shuffled more towards the front as headliner All Them Witches took the stage. Playing mostly from their earlier release Lightning at the Door, ATM shows great force and energy in the midst of “The Death of Coyote Women” causing audience members to raise their glasses to the Nashville-born band, already successfully entering the scene since their start in 2012.  Fan favorites included “When God Comes Back” and “Charles William” which melted into a jam that lead to “Mother Mountain” and finished off with the solemn “Funeral for a Great Drunken Bird” which left the band engulfed in smoke. If ever you needed a soundtrack in which to voyage in a deep forest and believe all that is supernatural, All Them Witches is your band

 

 

7 Terrible People You Encounter at Music Events

After going to several festivals and shows, I’ve come to realize that although the majority of my time is filled with euphoria, there are at times people who attend these events that may turn the whole experience sour. I’ve compiled a list of 7 types of concert goers that grind my gears.

1. The one who records EVERYTHING.  

Photo via musicreview.co.za

Photo via musicreview.co.za

This happened recently at a show in Chicago in which I was standing at the very front next to a fan who was recording basically the entire show. As a photographer, I understand that you’d want to document the show but this guy literally recorded the entire set and was watching the show through his screen. My question is why would you spend money to see a band live when you’re not even going to fully experience it? Might as well stay at home, search YouTube videos of the band live and let a true fan enjoy the live show.

2. The one who has to yell obscenities. 

There always has to be someone that has to make a smartass or unnecessary comment towards the artist. A couple of months ago, a band with a female frontman was done with their set when a guy in the back yelled out “Take your top off!” to which the frontwoman yelled back “What f*cking idiot says that?” I thought the response couldn’t have been better. Guys, just keep your comments to yourselves.

3. The one that looks bored.

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Photo via time.com

Countless times have I been in front of the crowd and in the midst of the songs I catch a fan who looks like they’re having the worst time of their lives (the photo above is of a dad at a One Direction concert so I can’t blame him). I never understood why you would bother showing up if you’re not going to have a good time. Do a true fan a favor and let them be in front and enjoy the show.

4. The obnoxious one that’s on something.

Whether they’re drunk or tripping on some sort of drug, it’s still pretty annoying when a fan decides to be obnoxious during the show. At a Queens of the Stone Age show last year, a fan was tripping on something and kept trying to get to the front by pushing on my back and almost going on top of me. Not even a few elbows to the gut stopped him after I had asked him to do so. Luckily, other people saw what he was doing and managed to push him away from me.

5. The one shoving their way to the front.

Nothing irks me more than when someone who has arrived late to the show tries to push their way to the front when you’ve been waiting or camping out for several hours now to secure a spot in the front. Camp out like all the others if you truly want to be in front.

6. The one who’s there just to be there.

Photo via brooklynvegan.com

Photo via brooklynvegan.com

I’ve gotten complaints from friends who have attended festivals such as Lollapalooza saying that people don’t really go to these festivals for the music but rather because it’s the hip thing to do. Many like the fact of just being there and surrounded by the scene provided by these festivals but it’s not fair to the fans who will actually appreciate the live sets.

7. The one who think they know everything. 

When I go to shows alone, I can’t help but overhear some of the conversations that are being held while waiting for the show to start and numerous times I’ve listened to someone rant about other bands or even the band he/she is about to see and think that they know everything there is to know about music. To these kinds of people I usually just say “yes ok” and go on to ignore them. There  is no point in arguing against these kinds of people.

Despite these negativity, I have encountered so many great people at shows. Complete strangers have offered me to save my spot because I need to get something quick to eat or have shared their water during a hot day at a festival and provide some shade with their umbrella. It’s pretty awesome seeing these kinds of people help out complete strangers therefore showing that there is still faith in humanity!

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In Review: Pitchfork Music Festival 2015

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Mac DeMarco crowd surfing through the crowds of Pitchfork.

After being around for 10 years, 2015 marked my first time of ever going to the Pitchfork Music Festival and it was the second festival I had ever attended. The close-to-100-degrees weather all weekend long as well as tornado and thunderstorm warnings did not seem to deter fans from all over the country to attend the three day fest in Chicago.

Friday started off with Natalie Prass with her fairly light voice and her outfit seemed to suit her music well with the light blue dress. Many were there for her but the majority have been waiting for the comical Mac DeMarco to appear onstage. This wasn’t DeMarco’s first time at Pitchfork and people, including me, were expecting a lot from his show.

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Mac DeMarco

Throughout his set, DeMarco along with fellow bandmates Andrew Charles White and Pierce McGarry kept cracking jokes and telling the audience that Thom Yorke was going to perform along with Coldplay later in the festival and that the audience was in for a special treat.

Despite the humidity and insane heat, DeMarco insisted on crowd surfing while White played a lengthy guitar solo to finish their set.

Panda Bear and CHVRCHES were among the others to perform Friday and Wilco was chosen to headline that evening. The Chicago natives had just released a new album for free by surprise the day before and many fans were prepared to listen to the songs included in Star Wars as well as tunes from previous albums.

Wilco headlining Day 1 of Pitchfork.

Wilco headlining Day 1 of Pitchfork.

Day 2 started with Bully, a garage punk band from Nashville that truly got the crowd riled up with vocalist Alicia Bognanno asking the audience to please be careful and to stay hydrated through the hottest day out of the weekend.

Bully performing at Pitchfork Day 2.

Bully performing at Pitchfork Day 2.

Mr Twin Sister followed soon after. I had been listening to this band since they were still named Twin Sister but according to the Pitchfork music program, a freak accident landed all members in the hospital got them to reconvene  and re-name the group. I had not listened to the band’s new album under the new name and was thoroughly surprised at the new sound they had created. I was disappointed that they did not acknowledge any of the songs from their 2011 album In Heaven but was still pleased to finally see them live.

Mr Twin Sister

Mr Twin Sister

During this set, the weather had gotten a little uglier and started to drizzle. Initially I was extremely pleased to be getting cooled off by the rain but in a few minutes it had begun to storm. This led the Festival to temporarily close and several acts such as Vince Staples and Kurt Vile and the Violators had to cut their set or cancel altogether.

Nonetheless the show went on afterwards and Future Islands as well as Ariel Pink had the crowd going again.

Sleater-Kinney was on to headline for Saturday and many were relieved that the trio’s performance was still on despite the nasty weather. All sorts of people were in attendance for this performance but more notably women in which some of them had the words GIRL PWR written on their arms. There is no doubt that Sleater-Kinney has power to their songs accompanied by crazy good vocals by Corin Tucker and killer riffs and moves by Carrie Brownstein.

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Sleater-Kinney perfoming on Saturday at Pitchfork. 

 

Although they have gotten some criticism for their name, Viet Cong still manages to show up and rile up the crowd on the last day  of the festival. They decided to ignore the heat and proceeded to mosh along the band’s songs.

I got to see Waxahatchee while waiting for Courtney Barnett and it seemed as though the sun and heat had taken away some of the away from the band as well as the crowd, but as soon as Barnett got onstage, the crowd along with Courtney busted out their dance moves. Barnett claimed that that day was the second time she’s ever worn shorts onstage and that everyone should feel special to be part of it.

Courtney Barnett

Courtney Barnett

My stay at Pitchfork concluded with Run the Jewels. I had heard that they put on  great show and experiencing that firsthand at Pitchfork there was no doubt about it. I was more towards the back of the crowd at this point but seeing how the masses moshed to rap music was quite interesting to witness.

I cannot wait for what Pitchfork brings in the next year. Hopefully we’ll be able to avoid the storms then.

By the way, I did want to praise Pitchfork for giving out free water at the stages to the crowds. Making sure that no one dehydrates should always be a festival’s number one priority!

All photos by Xanic Lopez.

Live Show Review: Do Division Chicago (Fever the Ghost, Electric Citizen and Temples

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Temples at Do Division

This past Saturday and Sunday Chicago was filled with singular music ranging from the heavy rock sounds of Electric Citizen to Fever the Ghost’s fantasy-filled and eccentric vibe and ending with psych-rock, mystically infused melodies by Temples.

Fever the Ghost walked down a spiral staircase lit only by string lights and entered the Subterranean stage with caution as the various gear, wires and equipment filled the relatively small and dim lit stage. I didn’t know how they would look like and expected some costumes judging from songs that I had listened prior such as “Source” whose visuals resemble those of an outer space acid trip, not that I would personally know how that is. Frontman Casper’s energy could be felt all throughout the tightly packed venue and set the mood for what was to come.

Fever the Ghost

Fever the Ghost

England’s (more precisely Kettering’s) young but successful band Temples followed soon after as one audience member complained that they were taking too long (to be fair, the whole show stated an hour or so late).  Now I don’t mean young from the perspective of the members’ ages but rather because they were barely formed in 2012. We must acknowledge how incredible it is for a newly formed band to be playing internationally and participating in festivals such as Levitation, Glastonbury, Coachella and Lollapalooza. The band opened with the ominous “Sun Structures” whose keyboard line done by Adam Smith could be recognized anywhere. Flashing lights and strobes accompanied the band’s kaleidoscopic songs until they finished their set with a jammed-out “Sand Dance” and “Shelter Song”.

Temples

Temples

Electric Citizen took the West/Levitt stage on the brisk, bleak afternoon at the Do Division Street Festival in Chicago. Front woman Laura Dolan’s vocals brought some heat though and she s what an ideal rock and roll woman should be. They beat Temples by a year by forming in 2013 and their presence reminds the audience of such bands as Pentagram, Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats and Blood Ceremony. Stragglers at the festival started paying more attention to the band’s heavy sound and Laura’s huge presence on stage.

Electric Citizen

Electric Citizen

Temples closed up the night yet again and this time sounding louder than before. The street was filled of fans as well as people hearing them for the first time and concluding that Temples were indeed a promising project. The hour that they were onstage flew by quicker than ever and unfortunately there was no encore, but the lads did stay behind to chat a bit with some lingering fans eager to have a conversation with them.

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All photos by Xanic Lopez.

Live Show Review: Los Black Dogs, Bonehawk, Slow Season and Dead Feathers at the Cobra Lounge

Dead Feathers headlining at the Cobra Lounge

Dead Feathers headlining at the Cobra Lounge

With the term wrapping up, I’ve had to spend most of my time finishing up projects and assignments, and I have yet to complete some more. It seems as though the work never ends and therefore I haven’t really been able to post anything.

This past weekend I had to split my life between work and going to shows and I finally found a time to play catch up. This past Friday Dead Feathers along with Los Black Dogs, Bonehawk and Slow Season heated things up at the Cobra Lounge in Chicago.

Starting the weekend was Los Black Dogs made up of Alex Pacheco (vocals), Ricardo Orozco (guitar), Joel Ezquivel ( bass) and Gustavo Lopez (drums) who try to channel Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath as well as Spanish rock bands such as El Amor and La Revolución de Emliano Zapata, but they want their audience to remember that they’re “not a vintage rock and roll band” but rather they are a “new band that plays rock and roll.”

Los Black Dogs

Los Black Dogs

Following Los Black Dogs was Bonehawk hailing all the way from Kalamazoo, Michigan and brought in the grooves that night. Unfortunately, their recent album Albino Rhino has sold from Bandcamp but now worries, they will be coming out with more LPs soon (hopefully within the next few months!).

Bonehawk

Bonehawk

Slow Season was up next on the bill and despite their misfortune while playing in St. Louis in which their van was broke into and were robbed from their luggage, they still put on a hell of a show as if nothing had happened the day before. Bassist Hayden Doyel not only plays a groovy bass lie but his dance moves are up to par with his playing. The energy that this band is unreal so be on the lookout for them when they return to Reggie’s on July 10th.

Slow Season

Slow Season

Finishing off the night was the mysterious and enigmatic Dead Feathers. The smoke machine was necessary to accompany their sound and vibe. They received great support from the crowd as Marissa Allen’s voice boomed and filled the room.  They will also be returning with Slow Season and Electric Citizen as well as Mondo Drag on July 20th at Reggie’s.

Dead Feathers

Dead Feathers

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All photos taken by Xanic Lopez.

Live Show Review: Mystic Braves

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Wednesday night brought the psychedelic and very stylish group, Mystic Braves at the Beat Kitchen in Chicago.

Established in Echo Park, California, the five-piece band brought their 60s style music to warm up the crowd on a typically chilly spring night. Although they mainly refer to their sound as psychedelic, they emanate a certain time during that era between bands leaving their well-fitted suits and entering the long haired days.

Julian Ducatenzeiler (vocals and guitar) and Tony Malacara (vocals and bass) trade off singing between songs and at times create harmonies that cannot be easily replicated. During the middle of the set  Ducatenzeiler acknowledged the ‘awkwardness’ of the gap between the audience and the stage and invited them to get close, making the crowd feel more at ease and put on their dancing shoes.

Ignacio Gonzalez’s organ keyboard and overlooked tambourine skills gave their music that sixties vibe while Shane Stotsenberg’s guitar picking gave a nostalgic vibe to the room. Cameron Gartung’s simplistic yet rhythmic beat accompanied the rest of the band as they played songs from their first, self-titled album and recent album Desert Island while also hinting at their upcoming project.

There’s much excitement in the future for the band as they are currently recording their third LP with Rob Campanella of the Brian Jonestown Massacre.

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All photos by Xanic Lopez