Opening for Frightened Rabbit at the Belly Up Tavern in Solana Beach, was Caveman, an indie rock band from Brooklyn. Like a lot of Brooklyn bands that have emerged recently, their song-craft is superb, with interesting vocal and instrumental melodies, vocal harmonies and creative drum patterns. I was reminded of a couple of “chill-wave” bands, also from Brooklyn, that I saw at The Casbah a couple of years ago: Small Black and Snowmine and thought that they would fit well on a bill together. Really though, I would go further back to describe Caveman’s sound. With their strong melodies and infectious hooks, the band reminded me of an updated Hall & Oates – but only if Daryl and John could also stretch out and really rock a la My Morning Jacket.
Frightened Rabbit, the ten-year-old indie rock band from Glasgow, writes big, melodic songs tackling complex and often uncomfortable topics. They’re touring in support of their outstanding new LP, Painting of a Panic Attack, whose songs explore dark territory, yet are delivered with energy, passion and hooks layered upon hooks.
I got home around 1:30am after just leaving a 3:20 long Neil Young show and I wanted to learn a little more about his new backing band, Promise of the Real. I found a great article that went into detail about their relationship with Neil, how the tour came together, and what they did to prepare for it. Then at the bottom I read some of the comments and the one on the top read:
Clearing out my tumblr (originally posted summer 2015):
Last spring I sent my Northern California concert corespondent (AKA my daughter, Mindy, who is going to school at Sonoma State) to see Mr. Gnome play – here is her report:
Clearing out my tumblr (originally from June 2015):
Last month, Arcade Fire’s hyperactive sideman, Will Butler, brought his new solo act to the Casbah here in San Diego. The last time I saw Will he was bounding across the stage, playing one instrument after another, in front of about 20,000 Arcade Fire fans on last summer’s Reflektor tour. On this night he offered the same stadium level effort and energy, but this time it was for a sold out crowd of only 200.
It’s hard to believe it’s been 20 years since Garbage’s debut record came out. I remember being blown away the first time I heard it and i still turn the volume knob clockwise anytime I hear a Garbage song!
On this night the band was every bit as powerful, and Shirley Manson was just as captivating, as the first time I saw them back in the 90′s. This time out they were scheduled to play their entire first album. That was reason enough to get excited – but then it got even better! Since this was the first show on the tour we didn’t know what other songs they would be playing to go along with the full album.
San Diego is a great city to be a live music fan. I know there are cities with better local scenes (Austin, Seattle, Chicago) and cities that get more big touring bands (Los Angeles, New York, The Bay Area) – but we still have it pretty good here.
We have small clubs like The Casbah, The Soda Bar and The Merrow that support local bands as well as bringing in touring acts that often play bigger venues elsewhere; there are several nice mid-size venues like the Belly Up in Solana Beach, the Observatory in North Park and the House of Blues downtown that bring in acts from around the country and the world; and of course we’ve got a variety of amphitheaters, sheds, theaters and arenas – each with its own character and personality.
But my favorite venue in San Diego is Humphrey’s by the Bay on Shelter Island. It seats 1,400 but the way it’s configured you are never too far from the stage – there really aren’t any bad seats here. They do a good job on sound and for a medium sized outdoor stage they pull off some impressive lighting and stage effects. But most of all I enjoy the setting of being outside, on a gorgeous evening, with a cold craft beer, listening to great music right on the harbor in San Diego.
The reunited Luna played to a sold out and enthusiastic crowd on this night at the Casbah. The lineup consisted of hubby/wife duo of Dean Wareham and Britta Phillips, longtime guitarist Sean Eden, and drummer Lee Wall.
The 16 song set was comprised mostly of songs from two earlier albums:Penthouse and Bewitched; as well as several from their last record.Rendezvous. I had never seen Luna before but I’m glad I caught them this time around. The band was really tight as they seemed to play their melodic pop/rock effortlessly. The band’s appreciation of the Velvet Underground was apparent in many songs, especially on the closer to the main set, “Friendly Advice”.
After a short break Luna returned to play “23 Minutes in Brussels” off of the 1995 album Penthouse and then launched into a ragged indie rock version of the George McCrae disco classic, “Rock Your Body”. [You can catch a clip of this HERE – I did not take this video but whoever did must have been standing only a few feet from me].
Modern English is often included on lists of one hit wonder bands. In fact, there’s a new station on Sirius/XM called Onederland that is dedicated to playing these songs and the promo goes something like this (with “I Melt With You” playing): “remember this big hit from 1982? Now remember their big follow up hit? You can’t because there wasn’t one!” To be fair, the band actually did have a modest follow-up hit with the song “Hands Across the Sea” from the 1984 album Ricochet Days. But it was nowhere near as big or omnipresent as “I Melt With You”, which is still played frequently to this day.
I only found out the day before the show that Phantogram was opening forMuse at the San Diego Sports Arena the next night. Since I enjoyed their 2014 album, Voices, I made sure I arrived early to catch their full set.