Tag: House of Blues Boston

The Fenix Rizes – Review of Tenacious D at House of Blues Boston

Tenacious D

Kyle and Jack rize on at the House of Blues.

Tenacious D
House of Blues Boston, Kenmore Square, 03/02/13

Music fans are generally a benevolent group of individuals coasting on a path of least resistance, as long as you’re not talking about music of course. The most serene Music Nerd could care less about politics, but if you challenge them musically – WATCH OUT, they’ll bite your goddamn head off. They’re also very protective of the music itself, and if you’re a band that’s making a joke of what they love most, you’ll be sniffed out and cast into the great cut-out bin in the sky.

Tenacious D have been able to walk the thin line of jest for years, being equal parts talent and goof. Jack Black has become an internationally known celebrity but hasn’t outgrown Kyle Glass and “The D”. I approached the show with the mindset that I’d be seeing Rock ‘n’ Roll Stand-Up, and that’s what was delivered. I thought it was a little weird that I wasn’t seeing a “real band” but walking home I realized why the House of Blues was Sold-Out. Why the contrasted crowd was singing along with every song…

…because music is fun, and at its best it’s a means to bring people together. Tenacious D did just that Saturday Night, allowing a bunch of strangers to get together and share a laugh under the guise of music. I will say that the House of Blues is getting less and less fun to go to, and while “The D” had a Sold-Out crowd that was fired for fun the show was OVER by 9:30pm so they could clear the floor for the faux club scene Landsdowne now offers. I understand they’re trying to maximize the space, but that’s a piss poor way to treat people paying good money for a Saturday Night of entertainment. Since the new Management has taken over the House of Blues they’ve been steadily looking like the corporation they always were, and that’s too bad, they had a decent thing going for awhile.

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New Animal Collective Video “Applesauce” = Total Piece of Shit

The Cheat is Grounded

The Cheat is Grounded

Animal Collective’s new video for “Applesauce” is the most pretentious piece of shit they’ve released to date, and that’s saying a lot. In its entirety “Applesauce” features model Lindsey Wixson eating a goddamn mango in a continuous tightly cropped shot as The Cheat throws light-switch raves in the background. That’s it. Pretty girl eats a juicy mango as day glow light reflects off her stupid 18 year old chin. And to take the absurd into the surreal this piece of crap is supposed to be “watched in the dark”, because ya’ know, that’s how you’re supposed to watch fruit porn. Oh yeah, this is apparently a “collaboration” between Animal Collective and filmmaker Gaspar Noé, and is loosely based on another piece of shit short film from 1968. Good God, this sorta made me hate them.

Animal Collective will be playing at the House of Blues Boston on 03/07/13 with Dan Deacon in support of their new album Centipede Hz.

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ISAM Live 2.0: Review of Amon Tobin & Holy Other at House of Blues Boston

Amon Tobin manning the machine, I presume. (Photo - D. Hixon)

Amon Tobin manning the machine, I presume. (Photo – D. Hixon)

Amon Tobin and Holy Other
House of Blues Boston, Kenmore Square, 09/12/12

I was belly up at the Foundation Room Bar because Holy Other was playing within the hour. Everyone else in the venue was there for the headliner, Amon Tobin. I first discovered Amon Tobin in 2007 after being introduced to his masterpiece, “Foley Room”. I was enthralled with the exploration & adventure that lay within the work. None of his music came close to brushing against what could be called Pop, which excited me. What Tobin created resembled the sonic landscape of a distant dream, and I was encapsulated by its beauty and intrigue. Admittedly, my attention to his work fell by the wayside while my ever shifting focus drifted towards other bands, producers, and makers of noise.
Holy Other (Illustration - D. Hixon)

Holy Other (Photo – D. Hixon)

 Enter Holy Other. Since 2010 I’ve been obsessed with his work, and led off my last podcast with one of his tracks. He consistently lays a haunting soundtrack that reeks of the modern world and forgotten nostalgia. Holy Other is what James Blake would sound like if he wasn’t co-opted by the Pitchfork Illuminati. His set reflected his music, it was sparse, with just right space and separation. On stage it was just him, alone in black with a fold-up table and a few assorted instruments, with his creativity in full view. There was no light show. There were no shiny objects to distract. There was just the music, and the man literally standing behind it.

 

Amon Tobin's set was as impressive as it gets. (Photo - D. HIxon)

Amon Tobin’s impressive stage. (Photo – D. HIxon)

Enter Amon Tobin, version 2.0. His set was as opposite as you could draw up, and likely by design. The coordination between the elaborate pixel stage design, music, and projections were close to immaculate. I was blown away by the perfection of the coordinated dance between the visual and auditory, so much so, that I grew suspect to its authenticity. Tobin’s music seemed to have been compromised since 2007, and certainly no longer brushed against Pop, but was lathered with it in obscene helpings. He didn’t appear to be a fearless artist, but more a pandering professional, playing dub-step like drops for a crowd of teenage persuasion.

 

I still respect Amon a ton, and the show was extremely entertaining, it just didn’t seem like I was in a club watching a musician perform. It was more like I was just off the Vegas strip watching a coordinated show go through its motions, leaving much desired as far as actual performance, but maybe that’s the point I missed. Or maybe the future of EDM, especially by large acts in big venues, is more about the entertainment value, and less about the music.


(Video – K. Chandler)

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Seeing The Spark Seeker: A Review of Matisyahu at House of Blues Boston


Matisyahu
House of Blues Boston, Kenmore Square, 07/10/12

Around the corner from the House of Blues I may have been offered libations from a progressive duo of College age. Their hair was shaggy, dress appropriate, and a flag hung defiantly over their shoulder. Among things handed my way was a flyer stating how non-Jewish citizens of Israel did not have the same rights as Jewish citizens. It was then I realized the draped flag was of Palestinian Origin, and in a silent panic I tripped over an invisible border, and landed strait into an argument.

I left the scene gracefully, not taking the bait for discussion, and as the duo receded zero judgement guided my steps. They were kids who wanted conversation, a confrontational way to go about it no doubt, but what else should be expected from the bright eyed and youthful? I have no horse in their race, and only hope that what some people call Peace wins out. Wishful thinking no doubt, but with hope lies hope, and that’s enough for now. Regardless, I couldn’t shake the ghost of politics for the remainder of the night, despite the festive atmosphere provided by Matisyahu and his Dub Trio.

Matisyahu on stage. (Photo - D.Hixon)

Matisyahu on stage. (Photo – D.Hixon)

My knowledge of Matisyahu is minimal at best, and I don’t consider myself an active fan of his. That said, I admittedly entered the House of Blues with a predetermined bias,  as his former Manager previously managed a band and label I worked closely with for years: that label is no more, and the divorce between the Manager and Band was ugly. I thought this was unique, but a quick search via Google shows this may be par for the course with him. I sided with the band, and under muttered breath cursed the Manager and his interests, misguided or not, which affected my feelings on Matisyahu for years.

These personal conflicts aside, a big surprise for me was the lack of beard and hair sported by Matisyahu. This shaved demeanor occurred in December of last year amid mild controversy, and on-stage he was as clean shaven as a preppy, looking like some sort of rouge stoner jock. His Dub Trio band was equally unassuming in appearance, and could blend with any Berkley student riding the T straddling a guitar case.

Matisyahu engulfed by the crowd on stage. (Photo - D.Hixon)

Matisyahu engulfed by the crowd on stage. (Photo – D.Hixon)

Unassuming or not, Matisyahu and his band commanded the attention of the crowd. The music was an eclectic mix of rock, reggae, dub, and dub-step, and the singing of Matisyahu, and the musicianship of the band was top notch. I was a bit surprised by the lack of diversity in the crowd given I was seeing a man who was named “Top Reggae Artist of the Year” by Billboard Magazine in 2006. The crowd was mostly white college aged kids looking for a party, in the same demographic as the flag wielding duo outside.

The last surprise of the night was the sheer enthusiasm for crowd surfing being displayed by these kids. Being a product of the 90’s the juxtaposition of the music and surfing seemed to be a bit at odds, but I appreciated the enthusiasm none-the-less. This keen interest peaked towards the end of the night after Matisyahu helped a girl onto the stage which in-turn led to a torrent of kids jumping up as well, forming a wall in front of the band while dancing in rhythm, with hands raised over their heads.

On a night when I was dealing with the demons of politics and past villains this was the moment that won me over. It may not have been my scene or music, but seeing this moment of togetherness made it was worth trying to hear the conversation, and in the end that’s all any kid inside or outside the Hall wants. To be seen and to be heard.  What else should be expected from the bright eyed and youthful?

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Rock Solid – Review of Cut Copy at House of Blues Boston

Cut Copy
House of Blues Boston, Kenmore Square, 04/04/11

I was going to write an inspired post about the hyped crowd, young vibe, and solid set, however, I can’t fake it. My torn ACL and pending surgery have me in a morose kinda mood – therefore instead of waxing sad, I decided to advise you to watch the above video shot on my smart phone. It sums up the night Cut Copy provided in a 0:50 second instant. A superbly solid band, touring a solid record, playing solid music, during a solid show. These guys, I can stand behind.

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Keep Us on the Road – Review of Motörhead and Clutch at House of Blues Boston

Motörhead and Clutch
House of Blues Boston, Kenmore Square, 03/01/11

The last note still reverberated throughout Newbury Comics as I left in haste for my second show of the night. Once outside I was surrounded by trendy shops, Berkley hipsters, lustful Cougars, and individuals with more money than I. Looking about, I acknowledged that my scene was soon to be flipped on its head, and as I walked East towards the House of Blues, I prepared myself for stark change. I had just seen an intimate set of acoustic Freak Folk attended mostly by reclusive shoegazing stoners, and now was on my way to hang-out with multiple generations of Metalheads.

Lemmy

Lemmy

Turning onto Landsdowne Street I was awash in a sea of people who had black t-shirts, leather, long hair, beards, and the smell of whiskey close to their breath. A strange combination of Hells Angels, Punks, Outlaws, Rednecks, Speed Freaks, and Union Members were in-line waiting to get in. Thankfully I had Foundation Room access, so while avoiding eye contact with these assorted characters, I cut underneath the velvet rope and budged my way into the show.

Thus far in 2011 I’ve paid my respect to some of the great rock elders of our past. I’ve given homage toRobert Plant, raised a toast to President George Clinton, and now was about to give Fraser Kilmister, or as he’s better known as – Lemmy, his just due. Lemmy is a legend, the once Jimi Hendrix roadie is now a Rock God of his own, and his legend has been on the tip of many tongues following the documentary on his life, “LEMMY: 49% Motherfucker. 51% Son of a Bitch”. Lemmy is the Evil Cal Ripken Jr. of the Rock ‘n’ Roll circuit, outlasting all, while changing none.

I’m not, and never was, that into metal, but there’s certain bands I was able to appreciate from the periphery, and Motörhead was one. The crowd went ecstatic upon hearing the first curls of Lemmy’s bourbon growl burst from the Marshall’s behind him, but I have to admit – the whole experience seemed to be lacking a little for me. The drum kit was obscene, and much larger than necessary, and the guitar solo’s were poorly executed and generic. Lemmy was a powerhouse, but his voice was as monotonous as a machine gun, never allowing you to forget it’s power, but being repetitive enough to put you into a trance. I appreciated it all, and the fact that Lemmy’s doing this at the age of 66 is as big as an inspiration as any, I couldn’t help but be a little bored though, and I blame part of that on Clutch.

Clutch rocks the House of Blues.

Clutch is for real.

Clutch was the middle band on the bill, and by my ear had the superior evening on stage. While Clutch peaked in the mid-90’s with album sales, I think it’s today that they’re truly finding their style and way. They pounded through a bluesy psychedelic attack that had branches to numerous cousins within the rock family tree. The feel and vibe of their music still has a tough dirty finger nail quality to it, but the changes of rhythm along with their improvisational tendencies made them appear to be a metal jam band.

Motörhead was the reason for me being at the House of Blues, and seeing Lemmy was something I needed to do at least once in my lieftime, but on a night where I was tipping my cap to the consistent one note act of Lemmy & Motörhead – Clutch ended up changing my perspective on both their diversity and music – all the while stealing the show.

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Paying Respects to President Clinton – Review of George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic at House of Blues Boston

George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic
House of Blues Boston, Kenmore Square, 02/18/11

This was a pilgrimage of sorts. P-Funk may never truly die, but the founding members will – and George Clinton’s time to move on is hopefully far, far away – but his days as a troubadour most certainly are waning down. Just last year guitarist Garry “Diaper Man” Shider passed on, and I just don’t see George doing this much longer. This all said, I’m sure this same sentiment was written over a decade ago, so what do I know. Maybe George was there standing right next to Robert Johnson at that crossroad near Dockery Plantation as the clock struck midnight all those years ago, and made a deal of his own.

P-Funk Alien. (Photo - D. Hixon)

P-Funk Alien. (Photo – D. Hixon)

What I do know is that his visible role in these shows is drastically cut back, so much so that you can’t even tell who or where he is on stage until it’s explicitly pointed out. Parliament Funkadelic’s in good hands though, but there’s definitely been a changing of the guard. While Clinton’s still the figurehead, democracy rules from within the group, and songs played were much more diverse then I imagined. There were R&B ballads, Funk classics, Rap, and blazing guitar solos spread throughout the night, each met with an amiable reception from the masses, as upwards of 30 members of P-Funk assaulted the stage. The crowd was an equal mix of old and young, black and white, hip and square, stoned and strait. Good people through and true.

Strength in numbers. P-Funk @ House of Blues Boston. (Photo - D. Hixon)

Strength in numbers. P-Funk @ House of Blues Boston. (Photo – D. Hixon)

I liken this incarnation of P-Funk to kind of what the Harlem Globetrotters have become. They’re more entertainers than artists, and they’re there to make you happy, not to make a statement. Parliment has interchangeable parts that will give them the longevity and name recognition any good brand would want, and P-Funk most certainly will roll on when George is past. It’s become a traveling circus that has an old-time vaudeville quality, and all members bring a hefty amount of talent to the table, and the paying patrons seem to leave with a satisfied palette. P-Funk isn’t dead yet, and from the looks of it last Friday night, it never will be.

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The Song Doesn’t Remain the Same – Review of Robert Plant and the Band of Joy at House of Blues Boston

Robert Plant and the Band of Joy
House of Blues, Kenmore Square, 01/25/11

Robert Plant and the Band of Joy at the House of Blues Boston. (Photo - D.Hixon)

Robert Plant and the Band of Joy on stage at the House of Blues Boston. (Photo – D.Hixon)

I was fortunate to receive a late invitation to see Robert Plant and the Band of Joy at the House of Blues a week ago today. The decision to go was easy, when presented with the opportunity to see Rock Royalty, you oblige your suitor. Before the show I sat meditatively in my apartment, the lights dimmed just so, and listened too loudly to the glory years ofZeppelin gone past – the Makers Mark burned down my throat, and the music lifted through ears, as I listened to the Gods clamor. On the subway from Central to Kenmore Square I acknowledged that this pre-show activity was an errant move, for I’d built-up the anticipation to an unattainable level, and as the night progressed, this hypothesis was proven correct.

Divinity. (Photo - D. Hixon)

Divinity. (Photo – D. Hixon)

I met my cohorts for the evening at the Foundation Room in the House of Blues – which is an exclusive VIP lounge where you either need to be somebody or be on a list to get in. I was on a list. Once past the doorman you ascend up the stairs and are presented with a world that reeks of privilege, opulence, and an honest touch of mystery. The oriental rug covered walls help dampen the conversations, keeping them corner private amongst the patrons. While chandeliers adorning the ceiling shed just enough light to see the others who’ve been allowed through the swanky gate of blues. I have a feeling this is what a lot of Los Angeles nightlife is like, and when here, it’s not unusual to run into a variety of celebrity. These were the wolves I was running with this night, and with strange golden and stone Hindu Goddesses flanked against the walls, it seemed like the ideal setting to get lubricated in before seeing Robert Plant perform.

I’ve been in the Foundation Room numerous times before, but this was certainly the most fitting marriage between scene and Main Act I’ve yet witnessed. This wasn’t, however – my first time seeing a member of Zeppelin here – it was only a little over a year ago that I was belly up at the bar with a Red Bull & Vodka, sandwiched between David Grohl and John Paul Jones, Nirvana and Zepplin, Rock Star and Rock God, as they came through town as Them Crooked Vultures. That was an all-time great night, so this Tuesday had a lot to live up to already.

Band of Joy. House of Blues, Boston. (Photo - D. Hixon)

Band of Joy. House of Blues, Boston. (Photo – D. Hixon)

We made it out to the floor just as Band of Joy’s set began and from the get go the crowd was hypnotized with every move the panther-like Plant made, dressed like a stage hand all in black. Each screech, wail, and hymn released from his (still) golden pipes reached the congregation with a religious fervor that elicited numerous yelps back in appreciation. Praise Plant. Plant Saves. Myself, gracefully at the age of 31, felt like one of the younger people in attendance, and you could tell there was a large number of people who haven’t attended a concert in awhile, and were there stretching for reach their youth, even if for only for a few hours.

The Band of Joy songs were applauded with appreciation from the crowd, but it really wasn’t until the Led Zeppelin covers were broken out that the true applause began. As soon as the first few chords of “Tangerine” were played it was like I was in the middle of a high-five convention, and to be honest, I was an active contributor to that sect. The Zeppelin songs played sounded good enough for sure, and Plant at age 62 still most certainly has “it” (along with his hair) – but the songs were honestly missing a lot of the balls you’d hope for when hearing a Zeppelin song – I mean you don’t want those gems broken down, you want them turned up – and loud. This is one trick John Paul Jones didn’t pull when here with Them Crooked Vultures – because honestly, they could stand on their own, where Band of Joy can’t. Aside from their rendition of “Satan Your Kingdom Must Come Down” – everything just sounded like Clear Channel filler to me.

What hearing the Zepplin covers (for that’s what they were) did though, is place a deep yearn for a true Led Zeppelin reunion. Watching Plant you could see he’s still one of the best lead Rock vocalist ever, while John Paul Jones is tearing up the bass with Them Crooked Vultures, and Jimmy Page still has God status, which was reaffirmed after a recent viewing of “It Might Get Loud”. Throw someone like Grohl in on the the drums – play 15 shows in the US, 10 in the UK,  and I’d literally pay up to $400 a ticket, because they’re still ALL masters of their craft, and are ALL walking legends. It wouldn’t be sad, washed up, or forced at all – maybe there’d be less groupies, drugs, and sharks – but the music would still be there. Most likely I didpurposely sabotage my ability to appreciate Band of Joy by listening to Zeppelin before the show. But that was for a purpose, because I do know Father time stops for no one…..rock royalty especially, and if those three deity’s could put their egos aside for three months at the most, they’d make a lot of people on planet Earth happy.

Sure, I can now tell people I saw Robert Plant play – but fuck that, I want to say I saw Led Zeppelin play, anything else – is just a cover band.

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