Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Cage Tonight!!

I'm back from a bit of a hiatus, so there's lots of updates and reviews to come! I was out of town on two back-to-back trips, one a short vacation and the other for work. Work never stops for me, so it's always very stressful when leaving town and dealing with a mountain of things to do when I return.

If you can make it, be sure to check out San Diego's Cage tonight at The Triple Rock Social Club in Minneapolis. If you're a Judas Priest and Iron Maiden fan and love power metal, there's no finer American band than Cage. Vocalist Sean Peck is an amazing singer, and the back is always extremely tight. Having lived in San Diego, I've seen Cage many times in the past and they never disappoint. They've only been to St. Paul once before, and they're on a short run through the Midwest en route to a festival headlining appearance in Ohio. Don't miss your chance to catch this incredible band.

In case you're unaware, Cage rose to international acclaim in 1999 when they were selected by fans amongst hundreds of entrants for a slot at the Wacken Open Air Festival. They've toured Europe many times yet they don't have the opportunity to tour America that frequently. One of the most admirable things about Cage is that they've accomplished their success on their own terms, without the backing of a larger label. Vocalist Sean Peck also made national headlines in 1999 when he heckled embattled San Diego Chargers quarterback Ryan Leaf at practice by singing the old Little River Band tune "Lonesome Loser". This led to some verbal back and forth between the two, and seemed to hasten Leaf's demise. Check out one account of the notorious encounter from CBS Sports.

Underground metal fans should also be interested in tonight's show because Cage now features drummer Norm Leggio from legendary power/progressive metal band Psychotic Waltz.

I'll have a full account of tonight's show posted soon, as well as some old Cage pictures circa 1999–2001. Be sure to get there early for locals Dawn Of Valor, The Angle Obscure, and Avalon. The Angle Obscure has an amazing self-released album out that I reviewed here. If you bring your ticket stub from the recent Sonata Arctica or Primal Fear shows, admission is free!
Cage performs tonight at The Triple Rock Social Club in Minneapolis. Support bands are Dawn Of Valor, The Angle Obscure, and Avalon.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Slayer, Megadeth, Testament Ticket Sale?

Jam Productions sent out an email with the graphic below, stating that a special package deal for tickets to Slayer, Megadeth, and Testament on Saturday, August 21 at Roy Wilkins Auditorium in St. Paul will occur from today, June 4 through Sunday, June 6. The picture links to the Ticketmaster page for the show, but there's no mention of this sale. Two tickets can be had for $66.60 during the sale, but it's not stated if this is good for floor seats ($57 each) or reserved balcony seats ($37 each). I've also linked the picture to the Ticketmaster page so you check it out to see when this deal appears.

Far - April 2, 1998, Kansas City, MO, The Hurricane

Far - April 2, 1998, Kansas City, Missouri, The Hurricane
Video and audio recording
Having just reviewed the new album from Attention (here), it's a good excuse to post the complete video and audio of a show by Far that I recorded in 1998. The connection is that Far vocalist Jonah Matranga sang with most members of Attention in Gratitude, who released one album through Atlantic in 2005. Far never achieved more than a small cult following, but their 1998 album, Water & Solutions, is considered a landmark forerunner of today's emo-rock. This show captures Far less than a month after the release of Water & Solutions during a period that is considered the band's definitive time. On this tour Far was supporting Incubus (promoting the awesome S.C.I.E.N.C.E. album) with Ultraspank (before their first album was released). Although this particular night had some of the best lighting at The Hurricane, the video quality didn't hold up. It's very listenable and watchable, but I'd give both aspects of the recording a B. The set is mostly songs from Water & Solutions, with only two songs from Tin Cans With Strings To You performed. There's a song that I can't identify after re-listening to the band's entire catalog, so maybe someone can help me with this. If this is an unreleased song, I'm going to call it "For Ray". The encore song, "Seasick", is funny to check out. Weezer's "El Scorcho" is improvised before Jonah calls two guys from crowd on stage to give their best metal scream to determine if they'll play "Seasick" or "Love, American Style". Far also played at The Hurricane on the Tin Cans tour, but I can't remember the details of with whom they played. The band recently reformed and released an excellent album, At Night We Live, their first since 1998.
The link to download the text file with all audio (mp3@192 kbps) and video (mov, H.264, 640 x 480) download links are below the video embeds for "Mother Mary", "What I've Wanted To Say", and "El Scorcho/Seasick".
You can stream all videos from the set at my YouTube channel. As always, please share, but distribute the link to this post rather than the link to the text file. Enjoy! I hope to get around to posting the sets from Incubus and Ultraspank in the near future, too.
Click to watch Far play "Mother Mary".

Click to watch Far play "What I've Wanted To Say".

Click to watch Far play "El Scorcho" and "Seasick".
1998-04-02, Kansas City, MO, The Hurricane (42 minutes)
1. Wear It So Well
2. Really Here
3. Mother Mary
4. The System
5. Unknown (For Ray?)
6. Waiting For Sunday
7. Nestle
8. What I've Wanted To Say
9. Bury White
10. El Scorcho/Seasick
UPDATE: Here's a new link for the video for "Mother Mary":

Attention Album Review

Attention – Through The Wire
Self-released, 2010
This unabashedly pop-rock album is a bit different from most of the fare that’s reviewed here, but Attention has certainly earned their due. Attention was formed from the ashes of Atlantic recording artists Gratitude, which featured vocalist Jonah Matranga (Far). Prior to this, their second album, the band released an EP and album, they’ve already toured the US and England, and had their music featured in a variety of cable television shows. Add to this a top unsigned band accolade from Alternative Press, and it’s immediately apparent that Attention should be poised to break out. Although this type of pop rock isn’t what I choose to listen to on my own time, I can appreciate that Attention are excellent songwriters. Put a massive marketing budget behind the band, put them on an Incubus or Rob Thomas tour, arrange late night TV appearances, and Attention will be a household name. “Whispers”, “Your Heart”, and “Perfectly Clear Skies” are the most driven songs on the album, mixed in with ballads and upbeat rock tunes. Nearly every song is tailor-made for top 40/rock radio. The hooks and melodies here are huge, and it’s hard to stop yourself from singing along. You also have to admire the singular focus of Attention on writing tight, memorable rock songs. There’s no attempt to crossover into trendy emo-rock wallowing or insincere, ham-fisted stabs at sounding like an alternative rock band. This is radio-friendly pop rock, and it’s done very well. Based on their prior industry experiences, I wouldn’t be surprised if Attention is intentionally avoiding the dying business of major record labels. If a band with mass-market appeal can find a way to survive independently, I have no doubts that Attention will find such a way. Fans of radio-friendly rock should get their hands on Through The Wire, especially since it is available for free download through Attention’s website:
Attention will be supporting Bret Michaels at the Medina Entertainment Center in Medina on Friday, June 4.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Post-Memorial Day Hangover

It was such a beautiful Memorial Day weekend here in The Cities that I had to enjoy a little bit of break from posting. Here in Minnesota the long holiday weekend is traditionally the time when a mass exodus from The Cities occurs so that everyone can open their cabins for the summer. I'm content to hang at home, drink beer and wine, and fire up the grill. Thank you for stopping by and making May the biggest month here yet!
Here's a quick preview of some things to look for in the near future. I'll have demo and album reviews from some local bands such as Alation, Attention, and Smiling Politely, in addition to a bunch of reviews of new releases by bands coming to town. The recent Hypocrisy show was pretty amazing, and my upcoming review will have a ton of pictures and video for you to check out. I've also got some great archival video of concerts from Nevermore, Sevendust, (Hed)pe, and Far that have never been circulated. Of course, unplanned things always happen, so be on the lookout for some unexpected things, too.