Rarely does a concert carry as much anticipation as the March 28 show at 'Canes. GZA of Wu-Tang Clan was billed for a front-to-back performance of his classic album Liquid Swords. Naturally, the rabid Wu fan base would savor this concert as a life-altering experience. The club was packed. And the opening acts completed their sets with crowd-rocking ease. And then—nothing. An excruciating, sweaty, vibe-killing 90 minutes of nothing.
More than any other genre, hip-hop shows are all about momentum. Local crew Anti-Citizens understood this, doing their best to keep the crowd entertained with some strong, politically tinged battle rhyming. Seattle-area duo Blue Scholars definitely understood this, making full-blown converts of the audience as they turned Green Day's “Brain Stew” and Modest Mouse's “Float On” into full-on club bangers.
So why didn't GZA accomplish the same feat? His late entrance forced the audience to stand around for an hour and a half in an over-crowded club filled with dudes. Not cool. There are very few ways to spend one's time in that situation other than drinking, smoking herb and picking fights, and a significant portion of the audience obviously decided that combining all three was a good idea.
The resulting tension may have led to GZA's gangsta-rap homies Black Knights getting practically booed off the stage. Not only did they spread bad vibes like a plague, but they weren't even billed, which was infuriating. By then it was clear something wasn't working.
By the time GZA finally came on, a little before 1 a.m., a fight had broken out close to the stage. And although he denounced the violence, it was the ultimate anti-climax. Here stood a devoted, excited crowd of hundreds waiting to worship their hip-hop idol, but negligence practically ruined what could've been a monumental show.
OK, so I still sung along with every word of “Liquid Swords” and “Duel of the Iron Mic,” but GZA's energy didn't match the crowd's. He apparently was too intoxicated, angry or lazy to even complete most of his lines, instead piggybacking on his fanatical audience. It wasn't call-and-response, it was mostly just response. And halfway through the set, my response mechanism was failing. Maybe I expected too much, but, undoubtedly, I received too little.—Todd Kroviak
“You gotta hold hands before you kiss and make up, right?” Sonny Sandoval says. “Well, even if you're making up, you can't just jump back into making out right away—you gotta take it slow and feel each other out.”
This is how Sandoval—frontman for San Diego alt-metal group P.O.D. describes the reconciliation process that led to four friends finding their way back together.
“Once those make-out sessions, or whatever, got going, we just knew it was time to make up and get back together again,” Sandoval continues, before chuckling, “maybe we're more like in a marriage now.”
The South Bay quartet is arguably the most unlikely (and unfashionable) major-label act to ever catapult from local all-ages venues to triple-platinum success. The openly Christian, melodic rap-rockers experienced a meteoric rise to TRL-topping heights with the 1999 smash, The Fundamental Elements of Southtown, and its 2001 follow-up, Satellite.The band didn't exactly fall from commercial grace after that but internal rancor led to the departure of founding guitarist Marcos Curiel in 2003. Subsequent albums (including 2003's Payable on Death and 2006's Testify) received a far more modest reception than Southtown and Satellite. But now Curiel is back in the mix for the band's latest album (their “Peaches & Herb reunion record,” as Sandoval calls it), When Angels and Serpents Dance, which drops April 8.
The album boasts Curiel's signature riffage and a more expansive and collaborative sonic palette. And the title is apparently no more biblical than, say, the name of your favorite back-in-the-day Iron Maiden album. Sandoval says the phrase simply “seemed the most old-school metal” choice on a working list of possibilities.
The band invited some of its musical heroes to join them in the recording studio, including The Marley Sisters (“I'll Be Ready”), Helmet's Paige Hamilton (“God Forbid”) and, Sandoval's biggest personal triumph, Mike Muir of Suicidal Tendencies (“Kaliforn-Eye-A”).
“Mike Muir was just amazing… and wise… and really funny,” Sandoval gushes. “They say don't ever meet your heroes, but in this case, we got away with it, man. We're really happy with it.”
P.O.D. has been preparing for a national tour by playing a string of dates at Hard Rock Café venues (including an April 7 show at the Hard Rock in San Diego).
“I figured we'd play their music venues, but we're not. We're playing, like, the restaurant part of the place,” Sandoval says. “So, as we're setting up our gear and sound-checking, people are gonna be eating their appetizers and dinners, I guess.
“That's fine, though,” he adds. “As long as they don't mind dodging flying [microphone] stands during dessert.”—Will K. Shilling
On March 26, Whistle Stop Bar played host to the new monthly “Commune Wednesdays” event. Patrons were treated to music (courtesy of The Swedish Models) and art by Michael Turi, Chantelpaul and Scott Caligure. There were also a couple DJs spinning records and, of course, the required rack of clothing to fulfill the fashion quota. So, let's see—indie music (check), artists (check), DJs (check) and fashion (check). The event was 100-percent hipster-certified.
But blowing away any hanger-bound item of clothing was none other then Matthew Lesko and his trademark question-mark-covered ensemble. For the uninitiated, Lesko is best known for popping up on late-night infomercials sporting his signature question-mark suits (the greatest outfit The Riddler never had a chance to wear) and plugging his books that tell you how to get free money from the government.
So what in the world was Lesko doing at this event? Apparently his son works with one of the Commune crew. But I prefer to think he was just walking down 30th Street in South Park and saw that Swedish models would be appearing at the Whistle Stop that night.—Dryw Keltz
There's no story I hate more than the one your buddy tells you about “the most amazing show ever” that, of course, you missed. My friends would have me believe that I miss, on average, about two or three most-amazing-shows-ever each week. But now I get to be the guy who says that you missed the most amazing show ever.
On March 28, I went to Beauty Bar to see Pattern is Movement, a drum-and-organ duo from Philadelphia, and the show was unlike anything I've seen before—a strange sort of Baroque carnival featuring the vaudeville vocals and piping organ of frontman Andrew Thiboldeaux and enough fills and polyrhythms from drummer Chris Ward to knock down a skyscraper.
They had the audience hooked with songs like “Trolley Friend” and “Sound of Your Voice” and then, when Thiboldeaux coaxed the audience into a handclap that slowly built into a cover of Radiohead's “Everything in its Right Place,” the crowd went berserk. By the end of the show, the natives had turned on to PIM in a way I'd never seen—they created a human barricade to try to keep Ward and Thiboldeaux from leaving the stage. Sadly, they were unsuccessful. —Jason Bow
Vocalist/guitarist Dan Wise of Kill Me Tomorrow has formed a new project, Thin Man, that also features James Goldbach of The Vultures, John Mattos of Ilya and Chris Grundy of Electric Nazarene and Second Story Window.
The thin men start up a Wednesday night residence at Tower Bar with their April 2 coming-out party alongside The Muslims. Then, on April 9, The Prayers share the bill.
Japanese Sunday recently consummated a different sort of lineup change by signing to two different international labels (Cocorone out of Japan and Field Records out of the U.K.) in advance of re-releasing the band's debut (Taps Taps Lights Out) and embarking on Japanese and U.K. tours later this year. In the meantime, the band hits up Beauty Bar on April 7. —Nathan Dinsdale
Running an art and furniture gallery in a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood might sound like a picnic in Xanadu with flowers, unicorns and peppermint ice cream, but it ain't always all that. Just ask Gustaf Rooth, proprietor of Planet Rooth Studios on Ray Street in North Park.
“The sacrifices have been frequent and huge,” he tells CityBeat. “The rewards seem to come all too seldom.”
One of those infrequent rewards came this past Saturday when The Sess headlined a bill of local bands at a free, concurrent alternative—held at Planet Rooth—to the San Diego Indie Music Fest that was happening two blocks away.
Rooth removed the gargantuan set of headphones he'd been wearing, presumably to protect him from The Sess' ear-crushingly loud but completely ass-kicking set, and sported a big smile as the band unplugged its instruments. He hadn't heard their music before, but he had a good feeling earlier in the day when one of the members told him that if he likes The Buzzcocks, he'll like The Sess. And he did.
“Sure, it might not have been rewarding in the sense of money,” he said of the smaller music fest in an e-mail a couple of days later, “but seeing, watching and experiencing an event like that in my own home does give a man some form of accomplishment.”
Frustrated by the rising cost of doing business in North Park, Rooth says he recently considered packing up and moving back to Europe. “It is my hope now,” Rooth said, “that I will transcend onto another level and the success will continue to motivate me to stay, keep digging in and pushing the limits to what I am doing here.”—David Rolland