ZZ Top Rocks Victoria

Originally published in CVV Magazine on April 10, 2016

Legendary Texas rockers ZZ Top played the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre on Friday, April 8.

The two boys from Texas came on to a stage lit by a huge LED backdrop to look like a starry night, and two massive stacks of white, pink, and green speakers on either side of drummer Frank Beard’s impressive double-kick-drum Tiki-themed kit.

Photos by Dean Kaylan

With no introduction from main man Billy Gibbons, they jumped right into it, opening with Eliminator’s “Got Me Under Pressure.” ZZ Top is arena-filling rock at its very best—that fat guitar sound and strong rhythm section makes you feel a sense of excitement and anticipation, like when a hockey team first skates out onto the ice. It’s the reason politicians will often use classic rock to pump people up for rallies, or as exit music to keep people excited to vote after they’ve left the stage.

But there’s nothing political about ZZ Top; their best songs speak purely to the people. “Waitin’ for the Bus” and “Jesus Just Left Chicago” from their classic 1973 album Tres Hombres in some ways epitomize the group’s bluesy, soulful sound. “Are you having a good time?” Gibbons growled at the audience in his deep, hoarse voice before launching into another big Eliminator single, “Gimme All Your Lovin.’”

Gibbons and his bass-playing counterpart and doppelganger Dusty Hill had some corny dance moves, though, for some of the coolest-looking rockers alive, and much of their set consisted of them trying to communicate, side by side, and then swinging their guitars back and forth in sync as they played. Gibbons had tried to modernize his look with some skinny jeans and a fitted leather jacket, but the choreographed dance moves ended up making them look less than cool.

“I’m Bad, I’m Nationwide,” and “Pincusion” segued into “I Gotsta Get Paid” and “Flying High” from 2012’s La Futura, the latter sounding strangely like a classic 80s pop hit. The trio then played a couple of killer covers—namely Jimi Hendrix’s “Foxy Lady,” and then took it down a notch to “play some blues” in what turned out to be a cover of Robert Petway’s “Catfish Blues.” The band then finished their set with a barrage of hits, including Degüello’s “Cheap Sunglasses,” and perhaps their best known song, “Sharp Dressed Man,” also from 1983’s Eliminator.

The band closed out their regular set with “Legs,” but came back on quite quickly to raucous cheers from the crowd to play an encore performance of “La Grange,” a favorite for many Top fans. They stopped mid-performance, inciting more cheers from the audience, before playing an extended version of the song that is often referred to as “Sloppy Drunk Jam.” They finished their performance with “Tush,” the last track from 1975’s Fandago! leaving the audience with the sentiment “Lord, take me downtown / I’m just lookin’ for some tush.”

Overall, ZZ Top’s second-ever performance in Victoria was a success, and fans were treated to all the greatest hits the Texas rockers have in their canon, albeit with some corny dance moves. However, even after all these years, they’ve still somehow managed to stay cool.

Check out the full set-list below.

1. Got Me Under Pressure
2. Waitin’ for the Bus
3. Jesus Just Left Chicago
4. Gimme All Your Lovin’
5. I’m Bad, I’m Nationwide
6. Pincushion
7. I Gotsta Get Paid
8. Flyin’ High
9. Foxy Lady (The Jimi Hendrix Experience cover)
10. Catfish Blues (Robert Petway cover)
11. Cheap Sunglasses
12. My Head’s in Mississippi
13. Chartreuse
14. Sharp Dressed Man
15. Legs

Encore:

16. La Grange / Sloppy Drunk Jam
17. Tush

The Sheepdogs Future’ Nostalgia

Originally published in CVV Magazine on February 24, 2016

Saskatoon 70s-rock revivalists The Sheepdogs played a sold-out show at Sugar Nightclub on Saturday, February 20.

The dingy bar with its pit and shredding-height stack of speakers in front of the stage provided the perfect setting for The Sheepdogs’ rock and roll debauchery.

After a rousing opening set from Montreal alt-rockers Beat Cops, frontman Ewan Currie and co. took to the stage to all the noise of a full house, despite not looking as Sheepdog-like as they did in the summer.

They opened with a number of songs from their most recent album, last year’s Future Nostalgia—a record that earned them wider success both at home and abroad, having just come off of a fairly large European tour for a band from Saskatoon.

The new songs included “Where I Can Roam,” “I’m Gonna Be Myself,” and “I Really Wanna Be Your Man,” before Currie threw the audience an old classic with “Who?”

Future Nostalgia’s hit single “Downtown” came right in the middle of the 20-odd song set, sandwiched in between “The One You Belong To” and “The Way It Is,” from 2012’s self-titled major label debut.

They ended the set with more hits like “Feeling Good,” “How Late, How Long,” and “I Don’t Know” from their first ever Five Easy Pieces EP, which came out in 2011.

The Sheepdogs still know how to rouse a Victoria crowd, and its not surprising, considering Future Nostalgia speaks to a small-town city currently experiencing a vinyl revival, where vintage fashion meets craft beer and almost everyone knows someone in a nostalgic rock band. The Sheepdogs are a tribute to the 70s-rock revival movement, in Victoria and beyond.

Full set list:

  1. Where Can I Roam
  2. I’m Gonna Be Myself
  3. I Really Wanna Be Your Man
  4. Who?
  5. Bad Lieutenant
  6. Southern Dreaming
  7. Same Old Feeling
  8. Right On
  9. The One You Belong To
  10. Downtown
  11. The Way It Is
  12. Jim Gordon
  13. Plastic Man
  14. Back Down
  15. Take a Trip
  16. Help Us All
  17. Feeling Good
  18. How Late, How Long
  19. I Don’t Know

Encore:

  1. Whipping Post (The Allman Brothers Band cover)
  2. Learn & Burn

Matthew Good blends indie-rock with a heavy dose of cynicism

The Vancouver singer-songwriter played Victoria’s Alix Goolden Hall Nov. 6

Originally published in CVV Magazine on November 7, 2015

Matthew Good kicked off his latest tour in Victoria last night in support ofMatthew Good his most recent album Chaotic Neutral.

After young Canadian newcomer Scott Helman opened the show, Good and his multi-generational band took the stage to an eerie space station recording that proceeded to count them down as they delved into “Cold Water” from the new album. This was followed by the stunning “Army of Lions”—two tracks that come in succession towards the end of Chaotic Neutral.

“Born Losers” from 2007’s Hospital Music was a huge crowd-pleaser, and briefly satiated an audience that was already starting to call out names of songs they wanted to hear, a phenomenon that Good appeared to find repulsive. “Is this how this works now?” he asked the crowd at one point, alluding to the fact that it’s been a while since he last toured.

His lineup needed some introduction as well, a formality Good never obliged, but his new guitarist proved himself aptly capable of keeping up with the otherwise ageing band and even added some effects with a complex pedal setup that Good asked at one point if he had “had nightmares about.”

Good and his band continued to tear through new songs “Moment,” “Cloudbusting” (a Kate Bush cover, apparently), album opener “All You Sons and Daughters,” “No Liars,” and “Kid Down the Well,” all while fielding shouted requests by pretending to mishear them for other songs—the funniest example being “Empty Road” taken for “Country Roads,” which to Good’s surprise his young guitarist knew how to play.

He indulged the crowd briefly again with “Alert Status Red” from 2004’s White Light Rock & Roll Review and Beautiful Midnight’s “Load Me Up” before closing his scheduled set with two more new songs, “Los Alamos” and Harridan,” sandwiched around 2003’s “Weapon.” Good then left the stage without much of a sign-off.

He came back on again, though, after some convincing from the crowd, to the opening cheer of “Giant” (K-I-C-K-A-S-S / That’s the way we spell success) and played the last-but-one song from his new album, “Girls in Black,” before closing the show with his 1997 classic “Apparitions.” Radiohead’s “No Surprises” from the same year was a fitting song to play over the speakers as the audience filtered out—content, but perhaps not altogether satisfied.

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Full set list:

1. Cold Water

2. Army of Lions

3. Born Losers

4. Moment

5. Cloudbusting (Kate Bush cover)

6. All You Sons and Daughters

7. No Liars

8. Kid Down the Well

9. Alert Status Red

10. Load Me Up

11. Los Alamos

12. Weapon

13. Harridan

14. Giant

15. Girls in Black

16. Apparitions

Ringo Starr gets by with a little help from his friends

Starr and his All-Starr Band played the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre in Victoria on Oct. 8

Originally published in CVV Magazine on October 14, 2015

It was all peace and love when ringo-1-300x200.jpgthe former Beatle played Victoria on Thursday.

At 75, the Fab Four drummer is still touring and playing with some of the greatest musicians in the world. His band on Thursday included former members of Toto, Santana, Mr. Mister, and Bread.                                                                                                                          (Photo by Dean Kaylan)         Starr came out flashing his signature peace sign and stayed up-front to sing “Matchbox,” his 1971 single “It Don’t Come Easy,” and “Island in the Sun,” from his latest release Postcards from Paradise.

The band then took turns introducing each other as Starr made his way back to the drum kit. First up was guitarist and solo artist Todd Rundgren, who sang his 1972 single “I Saw the Light” before handing it over to ex-Santana singer and keyboardist Greg Rolie, who played the Santana classic “Evil Ways.”

Toto guitarist Steve Luthaker took a solo, and before long the group had the whole stadium on its feet for a super-jam on Toto’s ‘80s pop hit “Rosanna.” From there, things didn’t slow down, with Richard Page taking over for Mr. Mister’s “Kyrie,” and then back to Rundgren, who played a set of timbales for “Bang The Drum All Day.”

“I’m going to show you what to do with these,” said Rundgren, with a sly glance back at the Beatles drummer. It was a perfect invitation for Starr to take center stage once again for the Beatles’ “Boys,” “Don’t Pass Me By,” and, of course, “Yellow Submarine,” the last of which culminated in a giant audience sing-along.

Barely 45 minutes into the show, Starr then left the stage for Santana’s “Black Magic Woman” before returning for “You’re Sixteen,” “I’m the Greatest,” and “Anthem.”

Highlights from the rest of the night included Luthaker’s face-melting fretwork on Toto hits “Africa,” and “Hold the Line,” the groovy jam of Santana’s “Oye Como Va,” and Starr’s performances on “I Wanna Be Your Man,” “Photograph,” and “Act Naturally,” as well as Rundgren’s “Love is the Answer,” which Starr declared one of his favourites.

The group ended the show with the Sgt. Peppers classic “With a Little Help From My Friends” and a brief snippet of “Give Peace a Chance” in honour of John Lennon’s 75th birthday.

It was a great night and historic for Vancouver Island as Starr is now the first and only Beatle to have played Victoria.

Check out the full set list below:

1. Matchbox

2. It Don’t Come Easy

3. Island in the Sun

4. I Saw the Light

5. Evil Ways

6. Rosanna

7. Kyrie

8. Bang the Drum All Day

9. Boys

10. Don’t Pass Me By

11.Yellow Submarine

12. Black Magic Woman

13. You’re Sixteen

14. I’m the Greatest

15. Anthem

16. You Are Mine

17. Africa

18. Oye Como Va

19. I Wanna Be Your Man

20. Love is the Answer

21. Broken Wings

22. Hold the Line

23. Photograph

24. Act Naturally

25. With a Little Help From My Friends

26. Give Peace a Chance

CVV’s TOP 5 Moments of Rifflandia 2015

CVV’s TOP 5 Moments of Rifflandia 2015

Originally published in CVV Magazine on September 28, 2015

1. The Arkells covering Chromeo’s “Jealous (I Ain’t With It)”

Canadian indie-rockers The Arkells played Chromeo’s huge summer hit “Jealous (I Ain’t With It)” while filling in for their headlining slot in the park on Friday. Frontman Max Kerman took a video of the crowd saying “Get better Dave” to send to Dave 1 of Chromeo, who was unable to make it because of a stomach illness. After starting a dance party with “Jealous,” The Arkells went straight into their own summer radio hit “Leather Jacket” to close their headlining set. Class move guys.

2. Plants and Animals at The Metro Theatre

Plants and Animals

Plants and Animals played a late-night show at The Metro Theatre in the early hours of Saturday morning, but people wouldn’t stop leaving during their set. One guy even high-fived the lead singer on his way out, to which he replied, “Just stop leaving.” “Please stay,” they told the receptive audience still in their seats, before pouring into more of their cavernous experimental-indie sound.

3. Modest Mouse’s headlining set at Royal Athletic Park

Modest Mouse

Saturday drew the biggest crowds to Royal Athletic Park for a day featuring the likes of Neon Indian and Kiesza in the tent, culminating in a grandiose main stage headlining set by Modest Mouse. As the crowds grew and people became restless and pushy, Modest Mouse tore through the classics of their off-kilter brand of indie rock, holding a spell over the park and reaching a climax with sing-alongs like “Float On” and “Lampshades on Fire.”

4. Kytami’s homegrown blend of folktronica at Phillips Backyard

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Local “violinist extremist” Kytami whipped the crowd into a frenzy Saturday night at her Phillips Backyard set, the last stop on her most recent tour. Blending electronic and hip-hop influences, Kytami plays the violin over heavy beats with a live producer and MC. At a decidedly more electronic Riff than years’ past, her Saturday night set provided a taste of Victoria’s local electronic flavour.

5. Julian Casablancas and the Voidz “one show tour”

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The final day of Rifflandia 2015 treated attendees to the likes of Hollerado, Emancipator—an electronic duo from Portland, Oregon, rapper Joey Badass, and Julian Casablancas from The Strokes with his new band The Voidz. Casablancas came out hunched over, singing sideways into the microphone, and told the crowd this was their “one show tour.” “Our promoters rolled us out of bed for this one,” he said, before ripping into some of the new material with his psychedelic new band.

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6. What So Not at Distrikt

What So Not

Okay, it wasn’t part of Rifflandia, but if the festival on a whole was decidedly more electronic this year, What So Not’s show at Distrikt on Thursday really showed them how it’s done. Dubbed the “voice of the ADD generation,” What So Not’s remixes of some of the hottest songs of the summer, including some of his own like “Jaguar” and “Touched” had Distrikt bumping into the wee hours on a Thursday night. For those who went to Rifflandia as well, it capped off the end of a great week of live music.

Rock the Shores 2015: The Weekend in Review

Rock the Shores 2015: The Weekend in Review

Originally published in CVV Magazine on July 24, 2015

Sunshine and Rock ‘n’ Roll

Rocktheshores

The festival season in B.C. doesn’t really kick off until mid-July—well after the Coachella and Sasquatches of the west coast have long come and gone—but when it does, we enter a whole new mode of summer. This past weekend, while tens of thousands descended on Pemberton Music Festival for some of the biggest electronic and hip-hop acts touring today, Victoria hosted a different kind of festival—one that relied on a heavier guitar sound and live instrumentation rather than ear-shattering drum and bass: Rock the Shores—at the beautiful Juan de Fuca Recreation Centre in Colwood. The festival borrowed many of the acts that played Pemberton in the days before, but celebrated the older, more seasoned rock acts and breathed new life into the dying art of rock and roll.

On Saturday night, the heavyweights on the bill were The Black Keys, who had closed out the main stage at Pemberton the night before, drawing a huge crowd in Victoria from early on in the day. After a long and arduous bus trip out to Colwood’s West Shores, my group and I arrived in time to catch the end of newcomer Scott Helman, who had the crowd singing and dancing along by the end of his set to “Bungalow,” which gets quite a bit of local radio play. As the afternoon wore on, the heat and long lines for water distracted from bands like the Vancouver-based blues-rock outfit No Sinner, who played a fairly uninteresting set. At 3:00, the Kingston rock and rollers The Glorious Sons took the stage to play an excellent set, transitioning seamlessly between heavier and more psychedelic tracks. Up next were local legends 54-40, who had the crowd dancing right to the back as they rolled through their greatest hits. Victoria locals Current Swell were given a lofty introduction—“Summer doesn’t start until you’ve seen these guys live”—before getting the crowd into the festival spirit with a barrage of homegrown island folk-rock.

Then the evening really got started. As the field filled up and lineups for food curved around the site, seasoned Saskatoon rockers The Sheepdogs took the stage, playing bluesy rock with a modern twist, with songs like “The Way It Is,” “Feeling Good,” and “I Don’t Know,” as well as their recent single “Downtown.” Somewhere during the sing-along set, my group and I moved our way up to the front of the stage.

We stayed up there after the The Sheepdogs left the stage for Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes, who are always entertaining, and frontman Alex Ebert put on quite a show as the acid-cult leader character of Edward Sharpe, whose only desire is for “the whole damn world to  come dance with [him].” There was plenty of dancing and audience participation in the set, too, and at one point during “Home” Ebert stopped the show to pass the microphone around to people in the crowd who wanted to tell stories.

The whole thing fit well withIMG_0506 the hippie-feel of the island, and at that point it started to feel like a proper festival. The crowd, almost put under a spell by Edward Sharpe, changed dramatically as we waited for The Black Keys to take the stage, and when they finally did we were packed like sardines in the front row. They sounded good, but Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney looked tired and physically drained as they played through hits like “Gold on the Ceiling,” “Tighten Up,” and “Lonely Boy.” Ultimately, they provided the real rock of the day, closing their set with the heartachingly beautiful “Little Black Submarines,” which was a huge crowd-pleaser. They didn’t come out for an encore though, a trend that would continue for the rest of the weekend.

Day 2, though considerably smaller, was the day I was looking forward to most, with 90s rock icons Jane’s Addiction closing out the bill, as well as art-rock pioneers TV on the Radio and witty singer-songwriter Father John Misty earlier in the day. We got there just before 3:00 to catch the end of Australian Kim Churchill’s foot-stomping set. What followed was one of the strangest bookings—and sets—I’ve ever seen at a music festival with PPL MVR, a band of Sasquatches that seemed to really like auto tune. They had me won over when they played a cover of The Pixies’ “Where Is My Mind,” though.

I took the chance to go up to the front of the stage to take photos for what
I thought were some of the best bands on the lineup. I got some practice in with Bleachers, a new project led by Jack Antonoff from fun. that has been getting quite a bit of local radio play.

As the late afternoon wore on, former Fleet Foxes drummer Josh Tillman graced the stage as Father John Misty. His bushy beard and vocal chops make him somewhat of an indie-rock icon, while his dry sense of humor and showmanship make him very entertaining to watch as he flounces around the stage unapologetically. I was able to get within inches of him as he put on a show for the cameras.

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I stayed up front for what has to be one of my favorite bands of all time: TV on the Radio. I saw them for the first time back in 2008 at Malkin Bowl in Vancouver when I was just 14 years old—at that time they were touring the now classic Dear Science, which they played just a few songs from in their short but seductive sundown set.

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Then it was time for Jane’s Addiction. I grew up listening to Perry Farrell and Dave Navarro both with the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Jane’s, so it was pretty special to finally get to see them live. I ran into Dave in Vail, Colorado a few years ago and he wouldn’t sign an autograph, but there’s still a photo of me with drummer Stephen Perkins floating around somewhere. Their set blew everything else out of the water.

CKiYUiZUsAAPx4c                                                                                                    (Photo by Dean Kaylan)

Like master puppeteers Farrell and Navarro were absolutely captivating, even with dancing girls in the background, culminating in a sensory overload unlike anything else as they grinded up against Farrell while other women swung from ropes connected to metal bars pierced through their backs for set-closer “Stop.” These old rock stars still know how to put on a show, taking every chance they could to be applauded by the receptive audience, particularly as all four gathered around the front of the stage for an acoustic rendition of “Jane Says.” The historic set—their first ever on the island—provided the perfect ending to a great weekend, and will long be sticking in the memories of those who attended.

 

Ryan Hemsworth in Vancouver (photos)

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Ryan Hemsworth played Vancouver’s Fortune Sound Club last weekend (November 29) in support of his new album Alone for the First Time, which came out on November 4. His career-spanning set featured many of the tracks from Alone for the First Time as well as 2013’s Guilt Trips and remixes from his various other projects.

Watch his set from the Boiler Room Pitchfork Festival after-party below: