The Shrine – Space Steppin to the Orange Peel on September 6th

The Shrine

The Shrine (left to right) drummer Jeff Murphy, guitarist/vocalist Josh Landau & bassist Courtland Murphy

Don’t attempt to categorize or bucket Venice, California trio The Shrine into one genre or another as their sound sonically traverses across metal, punk, psychedelia, hardcore, thrash and just straight forward hard hitting rock n roll at times. The band has even personally coined the term, “psychedelic violence” to describe the beautiful chaos that is The Shrine.

Comprised of of lead singer and guitar player Josh Landau, bassist Court Murphy and drummer Jeff Murray The Shrine, formed in 2008, have released three studio efforts to date, 2012’s Primitive Blast, their sophomore effort 2014’s Bless Off and last year’s Rare Breed, which just may be one of the most underrated albums of the last decade.

The Shrine have already had quite the summer playing to thousands across the pond at festivals such as Download in England and Hellfest in France where they shared the same bill with rock heavyweights and royalty such as Black Sabbath, Anthrax and Rammstein.

This upcoming Tuesday September 6th The Shrine will be parking the van outside the Orange Peel’s doors to play alongside Portland, Oregon stoner-prog outfit Danava and headliners, U.K. psych rockers Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats.

There’s quite a bit of retro embedded deep within The Shrine’s DNA.  Listening to their music it’s not surprising at all to learn that the southern California based rockers cite 70’s heroes such as Thin Lizzy and Black Sabbath as influences.

Although the band pays some homage to these more classic rock sounds The Shrine certainly aren’t afraid to incorporate more punk based elements into their music as echoes of Black Fag, Bad Brains and Minor Threat also seem to permeate throughout their recordings.

“I grew up on Black Flag and you can just follow that backwards a bit to bands like Black Sabbath, Hendrix MC5, The Stooges and even 70’s hard rock like Budgie and Thin Lizzy”, said lead singer and guitarist Josh Landau while explaining what helped shaped him early on as a musician.

Rare Breed, The Shrine’s first major studio release (Century Media), was produced by one of the legends in the recording industry, Dave Jerden.   Jerden has worked with everyone from the Rolling Stones to Frank Zappa while also being the man behind the board for such iconic 90’s era records from the likes Alice in Chains, Jane’s Addiction, Social Distortion and the Offspring.

“One of our records was spinning at this guitar shop near our place and Dave Jerden was in the store and he asked our buddy that worked there about us.  We ended up meeting him and he said that he wanted to do your next record and asked if he could come over to our house,” discussed Landau as he explained how the band came to be signed to Century Media as well as how they first came into contact with producer Dave Jerden.

I could imagine working with a producer of Jerden’s ilk and recording history that The Shrine may have been intimidated about working with him but this turned out to not be the case at all.

“All the previous stuff we had actually recorded before we had done in our garage ourselves where I produced it.   It (Rare Breed) was definitely more of a serious production than we had ever done before.  He (Jerden) didn’t really tweak the songs at all but the way the record is mixed those were his choices, his sound and everyone was happy with how it all ended up coming together.”

When I sit back and listen to “Rare Breed” the record almost comes alive as if it’s a living and breathing soundtrack to a 1970’s New York City gang war I’d like to somehow and try to get in on.  If there’s a band that’s literally meant to score a remake of the 1979 cult classic The Warriors, it has to be The Shrine.

“That’s kind of where our inspiration is coming from, from like the 70s where every song had a different kind of color to it and the albums all had kind of one main story tying them together,” explained Landau while laughing a bit.

Playing the European festival circuit has to be a rush for any band as who couldn’t imagine being stoked to play in front of tens of thousands of screaming crazies, however, The Shrine strikes me as a band that would probably get more of a kick playing a gas station bathroom or a friend’s house party.

“It definitely changes our approach.  You almost have to pretend you’re 12-years- old playing in front of your bedroom mirror again because the audience seems so far away,” said Landau as he touched on the topic of playing to much larger audiences than The Shrine has typically been accustomed to recently.

The band is only a few dates into their current tour with Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats and Danava with the former being known for having a fairly hard core and die hard fan base.  I was curious as to whether or not the audiences at their recent shows had embraced The Shrine.

Landau answered, “It’s been good.  People are stoked and they come out and buy our records and we kind of get the same positive response no matter what.  People seem to be digging what we’re doing whether it’s us opening up for Uncle Acid on this tour or with other bands like the tour we did with Clutch.”

The show this Tuesday September 6th at the Orange Peel is one that will reward audience members for showing up early as The Shrine will be the first band to hit the stage followed by Danava and then headliners Uncle Acid and Deadbeats.   Door are at 7:00 PM with the show starting at 8:00 PM.  Ticket prices are $18 in advance, $22 day of show.

Orange Peel Ticket Link:

Do you think you’d like some Black Sabbath meets Thin Lizzy meets Motörhead meets Kyuss meets Black Flag inspired tunes? If so check these songs out off of Rare Breed from The Shrine:  “Space Steppin” / “Dusted and Busted”

The Shrine Links:

One for the Road – Pearl Jam – Greenville, SC – 4/16/2016

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Eddie Vedder & Pearl Jam – Bon Secours Wellness Arena – Greenville, SC – 4/16/2016

All photos courtesy of Carol Spagnuola / Written By Robert Forte

The members of Pearl Jam may all have reached the mid-century mark in terms of age but both their material and live performance seem to be aging even more gracefully than the wine Eddie Vedder often carries with him on stage as the band is about to launch into that evening’s particular performance.

Pearl Jam is not currently out touring in support of a new record as their latest studio release still remains the critically as well as fan community well received Lighting Bolt record put out back in 2013.

Instead the band is yet again simply embarking on one of their annual musical sojourns that their fans have not only come to expect but have most waiting by their smart-phones, tablets and perhaps tomato cans attached to strings eagerly anticipating the current year’s tour dates so that they can begin making their travel plans and formulating excuses to give to their bosses for some last minute unexpected days off from work.

Few souls probably could have predicated that nearly 25 years ago when Pearl Jam released their debut album Ten that helped not only launch the grunge movement but put the final spike in the heart of the hair metal craze, that the band would  become a modern day version of a touring Grateful Dead.

The parallel may not be there musically but in terms of sheer devotion that borders much closer to worship than fandom and the fact that droves of 40 and 50 somethings’ plan their lives around which and how may Pearl Jams shows they can attend in any particular year, there seems to be more similarities between Pearl Jam and Dead fans than one might initially consider.

Despite having somewhat of “jam band” type of following it’s paramount to recognize from the outset that Pearl Jam has and forever will be a rock n’ roll band.

Should one need any evidence to support the aforementioned statement I submit for consideration the band’s 33-song, nearly 3-hour long set in that included not one but two epic encores to serve as proof that Pearl Jam doesn’t just carry the rock n’ roll torch, they’re burning it bright enough for astronauts to see from the dark side of the moon.

For just the second time in the band’s live performance history Pearl Jam delighted the crowd by performing one of their records in its entirety, this time choosing to run through every track off one of their most memorable records, 1993’s Vs.

Pearl Jam offered up inspiring versions of such classics off of Vs. including “Animal”, “Daughter” “Dissident” “Go” as well as a playful take on a song Vedder referenced that he disliked when he was initially tooling around with it on guitar but that Stone Gossard thought was “wicked”, “Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town”.

By the time Pearl Jam took their first break of the evening the band had already played an incredible 19 songs. ripping through all of Vs., four songs of of Lighting Bolt, two off of Vitalogy, one of which being “Corduroy” (which had served as the night’s opening salvo) as well as a singular track off of 1998’s Yield “Do the Evolution”.

The blistering pace of the first set gave way to a bit more initially subdued back half of the performance that included the band giving some personal fan shout-outs that included a dedication to an individual battling cancer, “Future Days” and another in “Present Tense” to an audience member that was requesting they play “Inside Job” to remember the victims of the 2007 Virginia Tech campus shooting.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of Pearl Jam’s first encore came in the form of their take on the Pink Floyd classic, “Comfortably Numb” which saw Mike McCready unleash his inner David Gilmour on the track’s signature guitar solo.

Following an electric version of “Porch”, which wound up being only one of two songs off of Pearl Jam’s debut record Ten to make it into the evening’s set list, the band took their second and final break off the evening.

Upon returning to the stage for one last time Vedder and company had a trick up their sleeves for the fans seated behind the main stage, all of whom had a mostly obstructed view of the band all evening long.

The boys in Pearl Jam chose to kick off the final encore by turning around to those fans who had been staring at the band’s backsides for over two hours to play the Wayne Cochran cover the band had recorded in 1999 for the charity record No Boundaries: A Benefit for the Kosovar Refugees, “Last Kiss”.

At one point during the song McCready jumped into the stands to get up close and personal with some clearly awe-struck fans.  At the song’s conclusion the band’s lead guitarist also reached into his pockets to dish out a handful of  picks to some of the faithful lucky enough to literally  be in the right place at the right time.

Pearl Jam closed out the night’s festivities by offering up fans a few more favorites including “Betterman”, a hard-charging take on “Alive” which had the entire arena on the edge of their seats singing every word of the song back to their heroes up on stage and by also taking a run at the Who classic “Baba O’Riley”.

After nearly a three-hour marathon of a show the evening concluded with a performance of song that never actually made it onto an official Pearl Jam release but one that seems to continue hold a special place in many of their fans’ hearts, “Yellow Ledbetter”.

Pearl Jam continues to be one of the very few rock bands capable of not just continuing to deliver genre defining records but dynamic, diverse and coliseum shaking rock shows that give their fan base so much fuel for what appears to be an unquenchable thirst for each and every note of music the band offers up for to them to digest.

Last Saturday’s concert by Pearl Jam at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville, South Carolna helped serve notice to the band’s mass of followers that they’re showing no signs of slowing down at any point in the near term and that if anything, they have a decade or more of live greatness by the Seattle quintet to look forward to.

The show also cemented the fact that few if any rock bands touring today can’t even come close to holding a candle to the live musical acumen, energy and quality of performance Eddie, Stone, Mike, Matt, Jeff display each and every time they hit the lighted stage to perform with one another.  Well played Pearl Jam, well played.

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One for the Road – Spring Fling (Cage the Elephant, Silversun Pickups, Foals and Bear Hands)

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Cage the Elephant – Johnston City, Tennessee – March 20, 2016

Every legitimate rock and roll music fan that claims that there just aren’t enough arena level concerts worth the price of admission to attend these days needs to immediately stop reading this article and instead head over to Cage the Elephant’s website.

There you’ll find the remaining dates of their Spring Fling tour that has the band currently trekking across the country with Silversun Pickups, Foals and Bear Hands joining the fray.

Spring Fling 2016 is primarily playing to second and third tier cities versus the larger market stops in an effort to bring rock music to venues and towns that rarely serve as stops on tours such as these.

The tour’s approach is reminiscent of the late 1970’s when you’d see mainstream rock acts such as Kiss, Ted Nugent and Aerosmith take to stages in locales such as Sioux City, Iowa, Grand Rapids, Michigan and other working class American cities full of angst ridden teenage boys willing to wait in line for two days in arena parking lots for just the opportunity of potentially scoring a pair of tickets to a show.

Those lucky enough to be in attendance this past Sunday at the Freedom Hall Civic Center were treated to five hours of mind blowing, awe inspiring and flat out jaw dropping rock music, the likes of which rarely finds its way to conservative southeast mountain town outposts such as Johnson City, Tennessee.

Often times arena level headlining acts such as Cage the Elephant will play it safe and bring on tour with them either obscure opening acts that are more of a curiosity than a legitimate opening act or bands that simply aren’t capable of matching the intensity of their own performance.  This type of game plan tends to create a condition that would likely see the concert goer leaving the venue only thinking about and discussing the main act’s time on stage.

Credit Cage the Elephant for bucking that trend as by including post-punk outfit Bear Hands, U.K. stalwarts Foals and mainstream rockers Silversun Pickups, who all bring a high level of live performance to the table.  In doing so they’ve created a rock and roll whirling dervish of an environment that not only begs but requires each act to step up their game under the lighted stage in order to just not appear out of place.

First up on the evening were Brooklyn based and often times improperly labeled indie-rock quartet Bear Hands.  The band, who are currently out supporting their soon to be released third studio effort You’ll Pay for This, spent little time in getting the crowd going with their blend of melodic and rhythmically driven prog-synth soundscapes.

Their brief but electrically charged seven-song set list focused mostly on tracks from the band’s sophomore release 2014’s Distraction.  Choosing to open with “Peacekeeper” was a fine choice as it’s a powerful rocker that not only set the tone for their own set but one that helped set the tone for the entire evening.

Bear Hands delivered a tight performance that the crowd connected with, however, their music and live presentation still gave the impression that it may still be capable of generating more of an impact at the club level versus being broad enough in power and scope to fill a lager arena.

Next to take to the Freedom Hall Civic Center’s stage were Great Britain’s Foals.  The band has been around ten years and despite their popularity across the pond, their critically praised studio recordings as well as their reputation as being a live performance dynamo, Foals surprisingly still have yet to find a large measure of success here in the United States.

Based on the performance Foals dropped on the audience this evening the only question in regards to their not elevating to a higher plain of popularity in this country that comes to mind is, how is this even possible?

Foals’ music is engineered for arenas.  It’s broad, dynamic and anthemic. If that weren’t enough the band’s energy, musical amplitude as well as the instant bond Foals is able to establish with any audience makes the band a live force to be reckoned with.

Based on my conversations with other in attendance and the fact that when Foals first took to the stage there was somewhat of an air of uncertainty hovering over the crowd, it would seem to me the vast majority of my fellow concert goers really weren’t all to familiar with the band.

Any skepticism regarding Foals was immediately washed away by the time the band had even finished playing their opening song “Snake Oil” off of last year’s What Went Down.  The band’s sheer musical fury almost instantaneously won over the entirety of the crowd.  Foals delivered an eight song bombast of a set that wouldn’t have seemed out of place had they been playing the likes of Coachella or Glastonbury.

After a short set change southern California alternative rockers Silversun Pickups took to the stage.  Silversun Pickups probably stays the closest to a mainstream sound than any of the other performers touring on Spring Fling.

Considering the blunt instrument that is Foals having played in front of them it seemed as though there may have been a possibility of a slight down turn in energy for any band that were presented with the task of playing behind them.

Silversun Pickups proved this theory to be a bit misguided as their eleven-song set not only keep the crowd mesmerized, it actually provided an unexpected and welcomed balance between the ferocity of the bands that played before them and the tour’s headliner, Cage the Elephant, that were to follow.

Often times it’s the music alone that has to serve as the conduit between a performer and the audience in a live fire environment and rightfully so.

However, lead singer Brian Aubert’s frequent musings with the crowd and the playful interaction he shared with bassist Nikki Monninger throughout the evening came off as both heart felt and genuine, while also providing several moments of levity that helped make the concert feel that much more intimate.

Musically speaking Silversun Pickups delivered more amplified and seemingly up-tempo versions of some of their radio friendly hits including “The Royal We”, “The Pit”, “Panic Switch” and set closer “Lazy Eye” that had the crowd singing a long and head bobbing all the way through.

Truth be told the crowd belonged to Cage the Elephant long before they ever took to the Freedom Hall Civic Center’s stage.   From the instant lead singer Matthew Shultz revealed himself to the crowd to the very last chords of set closer “Teeth”, Cage the Elephant all but had the entire audience wrapped around their fingers.

Cage the Elephant’s live shows are a shot of adrenaline and musical turbulence that literally forces the audience to engage with.   There was little time for a dull moment or even a short pause to catch one’s breath as the band initially blistered through a 15-song set list including crowd favorites such as “In One Ear”, “Aberdeen”, “Aint’ No Rest for the Wicked”, “Mess Around” and of course the live monster that is “Come a Little Closer”.

Unlike Silversun Pickups that connected with the audience via some lively banter at times Cage the Elephant barely spoke to the crowd, instead letting the gravity of their musical performance speak for itself.

Not only did Shultz take to the audience for some late show crowd surfing, several times lead guitarist Nick Bockrath joined in on the fun by jumping into the crowd to mix it up with some fans.  At one point as Bockrath attempted to make his way from the venue floor back up to the stage he flung his guitar up into the stands into the arms on an unsuspecting fan.

This act could have easily had disastrous results but fortunately the lucky individual that had Bockrath’s instrument tossed their way was able to catch it and hand it back down to the guitar player without incident.

Cage the Elephant finished off five hours of superlative rock n roll music performed by all four bands on the evening with a three-song ncore of “Cigarette Dreams”, “Shake Me Down” and “Teeth”.

There are no words that can be written that already haven’t been published concerning Cage the Elephant in terms of just how remarkable, physically and mentally exhausting and just plain exhilarating their live shows are.

Instead of my attempting to continue to regurgitate similar sentiments I’m simply going to provide you with this bit of simple advice, go see Cage the Elephant live as soon as you possibly can.   It would literally be one of the only acts as a human you could still perform without the possibility of the one thing none of us wants to experience, regret.


One for the Road – Photo Recap – Houndmouth – Bijou Theater – Knoxville TN – 3/6/2016

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Houndmouth – Bijou Theater – Knoxville, TN – March 6, 2016

Following their sold-out performance the previous evening at the Orange Peel in Asheville, North Carolina Houndmouth brought the Little Neon Limelight tour to play to yet another southern crowd,  this time at the historic Bijou Theater located in the heart of downtown Knoxville, TN.

Despite the two shows being played within 24 hours and within a distance of a mere 120 miles of one another each show could not have been more divergent.  Houndmouth’s concert in the tiny western North Carolina mountain town was a ruckus affair from the get go, as it was after all a Saturday night and the show was being held within the confines of a standing-room only club environment.

Houndmouth took to the Bijou’s stage firing on all cylinders, this time with a horns section that was absent from their Asheville performance.    I was a bit surprised though that the audience remained subdued throughout most of the first half of band’s set, as not only had I talked to a quite a few fans prior to the performance that all seemed more than excited for the show, the band was literally giving the crowd a Sunday Houndmouth rock show for the ages.

Eventually though Houndmouth’s fire and passion could not be contained with it eventually leaping from the stage and taking over everyone in attendance . By the time the back half of the show began literally the entire Bijou audience had been hypnotized by both Houndmouth’s undeniably charm and incredible music.

The vast majority of the audience started rump shaking, hooting and hollering, with all of this continuing to the show’s closing moments when Matt Myers (guitars/vocals), Katie Toupin (keys/vocals), Zak Appleby (bass/vocals) and Shane Cody (drums/vocals) bid adieu to the east Tennessee faithful.

I have to give Houndmouth credit where credit is due.  Saturday’s performance in Asheville was a sweat filled, flat out rocking good time where the energy was beyond through the stratosphere from beginning to end.  Conversely despite Houndmouth coming out with the same kind of ferocity as they had the previous evening, the crowd was near silent and remained glued to their seats throughout most of the first 45 minutes of the show.

Houndmouth easily could have given in at that point and just played a paint by the numbers performance in anticipation of an off day prior to their next tour stop.  Instead Houndmouth chose to seize the opportunity to by all means musically necessary win the crowd over with the sheer force of their talent, exuberance and the power of rock n roll.

Well played Houndmouth, well played.