Fight Club Plays to Live Score at The Wiltern

Los Angeles is filled with inventive ideas — some work and some don’t, but I’ll never take the city for granted with its exponential offerings of new experiences. One such experience was ‘Fight Club’ at The Wiltern. The unconventional movie night featured the famed cult classic on a big-screen projector that was displayed just above a live band who played the film’s original score as it aired. The live musical score accompanying the film was performed by Hollywood multi-instrumentalist Angel Roche (Dave Navarro and Ziggy Marley), Eric Klerks on guitar and bass (Grandmothers Of Invention), Damon Ramirez on the synths (Fungo Mungo, Looner), and film composer, Zoë Poledouris-Roche (composer: Conan The Barbarian, Bully).

I went into this experience with a positive attitude, a great amount of excitement, and the embarrassing admission that I’ve never seen ‘Fight Club’ in full. Also, as a lover of all things music, this seemed like a can’t-miss idea. But sometimes ideas are better than its execution, and this is one of those times. For starters, ‘Fight Club,’ though a cult classic that would no-doubt draw a large audience, doesn’t have a substantial amount of music. When the music began, I found myself extremely excited, which means with a different film, this would have worked. Furthermore, the on-stage “acrobatics” as it was marketed, was disjointed and distracting. Acting out scenes as they air just felt odd, and I’d have rather seen a small spotlight on the band as they played instead. It’s also worth noting that since the audience was unaware of exactly what would happen on stage, it’s just not smart to have people running through the crowd yelling things as fights are heard on screen. Translation? — I thought, for just one millisecond, that we might be in the midst of a terrorist attack. I checked in with my surroundings to see if I was the only person with this thought, and I noticed that the energy of the room shifted as others also looked around in fright. It’s possible I’m reading into it, but I pride myself on feeling the energy of a crowd when judging what I see, and I think I’m right here. Though sad and unfortunate, this just can’t happen in a live-theater experience anymore. There are ways to do it, but this wasn’t it.

If I were planning the next event, I’d encourage a film with more music, spotlight the band with a dim light, and introduce the experience with more clarity. Lastly, I’d have more food available for purchase. A for intention, though.

Dakhabrakha Plays the Walt Disney Concert Hall

Music is my number one pastime, and I’m often invited to cover local, up-and-comers. On a good day, I’m amped for the opportunity to see earnest ambition in its raw form, whether the show is intrinsically good or not. On a bad day, everything blends together and you’ll hear me saying, “There’s just not a lot of true talent.” Seeing Dakhabrakha at the Walt Disney Hall yielded the entirely new feeling of, “What is this and how can I hear more of it . . . IMMEDIATELY?”

The world-music quartet originates from Kiev, Ukraine and they refer to their sound as “ethno-chaos.” They began as a live theater music crew in 2004 with the help of avant-garde theater director and now producer, Vladyslav Troitskyi, and their unforgettable, unexpected sound is the result of incorporating the surrounding world into their music, with Indian, Arabic, African, and Russian influence. The quartet includes, Marko Halanevych (Vocals, darbuka, tabla, didjeridoo, accordion, trombone), Iryna Kovalenko (Vocals, djembe, bass drums, accordion, percussion, bugay, zgaleyka, piano), Olena Tsybulska (Vocals, bass drums, percussion, garmoshka), and Nina Garenetska (Vocals, cello, bass drum).

With a fusion of the then and now, we get contemporary melodies couple with high-level instrumentation, and those riffs are rife with non-traditional elements, such as animal noises, bird whistles, and sounds of the wind. Eccentric yet accessible, their heavy percussion and on-point harmonies on top of their foot-high conical fur hats, make this the most memorable show I’ve seen in years. Dakhabrakha’s most recent success can be seen on the third season of Fargo, having had their song, “Sho z-pod duba” (From Under The Oak), play during the second episode called “Unfathomable Pinhead-ery.” That mesmerizing song can be heard below.

To see Dakhabrakha on tour, visit their website. They are a force.

David Crosby at The Wiltern — A Full Review

David Crosby doesn’t need any promotion from The Dishmaster. The man is a legend, and even without Graham Nash, Stephen Stills, and Neil Young, he can carry a concert. Crosby graced the stage of The Wiltern for an intimate evening with his most devoted fans, and he delivered the goods. The iconic singer/songwriter hit the road to promote his new solo album, Sky Trails, which is a follow-up to the recently released Lighthouse. Before Lighthouse, Crosby released Croz, which was his first solo album in decades. Given the close proximity of his solo records since the release of Croz, I can only guess he got the bug and he’s on a roll. He now performs with session guitarist Jeff Pevar, and his pianist son James Raymond (“CPR”). He attributes his creative re-awakening to the demise of Crosby, Still, Nash, and Young, insisting that quitting the group “unleashed a tidal wave of new music,” because the band became solely about playing their greatest hits. They had, “No new songs, no growth, and [they] didn’t like each other. There was no reason to be there other than the money, and that’s not enough.”

So what exactly happened to Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, and why don’t they like each other? It’s unclear, but the culprit seems to be Crosby himself, which isn’t surprising given that Crosby hilariously admitted during the show to being kicked out of The Byrds because “he was an asshole.” Here’s an elusive quote from Graham Nash about the matter:

I don’t like David Crosby right now. He’s been awful for me the last two years, just fucking awful. I’ve been there and saved his fucking ass for 45 years, and he treated me like shit. You can’t do that to me. You can do it for a day or so, until I think you’re going to come around. When it goes on longer, and I keep getting nasty emails from him, I’m done. Fuck you. David has ripped the heart out of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.

Crosby apparently bad-mouthed Neil Young’s girlfriend, Daryl Hannah, calling her a “purely poisonous predator,” and though he later apologized, Young was not quick to accept, telling Howard Stern that a CSNY reunion is out of the question.

The irony here is that their mutual dislike likely propelled their creativity. Bands often enjoy songwriting with people that they like, but sometimes we are at our best in moments of discomfort. Though Crosby’s new venture, CPR, gives the audience those much-loved harmonies, his original music is missing the unforgettable melodies we’re so used to hearing from CSNY. But I appreciate an effort to produce original music throughout one’s life, and I agree with Crosby that playing a band’s greatest hits in perpetuity is painful. One thing is for sure — seeing David Crosby, in person, on stage, singing beautiful harmonies, is a true privilege.

Mariah Carey v. Dick Clark Productions: Who’s at Fault?

If Adele were on the stage for New Year’s Eve to perform for the world and her sound failed, absolutely no one would question whose fault it was. That’s the benefit of being a consummate professional who is always on point. You get a pass with production fails. But when you’re Mariah Carey, whose diva antics often make the news, you are not afforded that luxury. If you simply watch Mariah’s own reality show on E!, she showed up two hours late to a concert because no one on her team was aware that the city in which she was performing had a time change. In fact, the gaffe was realized on the plane, which means the concert began while in route to the venue. She was rightfully booed by her fans upon arrival. This type of behavior is unacceptable. She hired her team, and she is also capable of telling time, which means she either has bad judgment in her staff, or she is far too detached from her responsibilities as a business mogul. In fact, Ellen brought this up directly, and Mariah simply brushed it off.
I believe that Mariah’s sound failed on New Year’s. If her in-ears were not working, it makes sense that the on-stage monitors were not loud enough to serve as a supplement. That being said, she doesn’t get a pass from me. Mariah claims it was sabotage for ratings, and Dick Clark Productions was predictably pissed, saying:

As the premier producer of live television events for nearly 50 years, we pride ourselves on our reputation and long-standing relationships with artists. To suggest that DCP, as producer of music shows including the American Music Awards, Billboard Music Awards, New Year’s Rockin’ Eve and Academy of Country Music Awards, would ever intentionally compromise the success of any artist is defamatory, outrageous and frankly absurd. In very rare instances there are of course technical errors that can occur with live television, however, an initial investigation has indicated that [Dick Clark Productions] had no involvement in the challenges associated with Ms. Carey’s New Year’s Eve performance. We want to be clear that we have the utmost respect for Ms. Carey as an artist and acknowledge her tremendous accomplishments in the industry.

I’d encourage Mariah to put her tatas away, ditch the dated sparkly leotards, and remind everyone who she is and how she got there. People will forgive you for just about everything but entitled, diva behavior.

The Hi Hat Welcomes Kate Nash

Los Angeles hipsters have a new hangout, as Silverlake has become far too expensive for the great unwashed, who have now migrated to Highland Park. The emerging multicultural hub is located in Northeast Los Angeles, and it’s building a reputation as “L.A.’s most excellent enclave.”

The York Boulevard corridor is bustling with bars, vinyl music shops, and indie furniture makers. As I strolled the street in search of a way to pass the time before a Kate Nash performance at The Hi Hat to benefit the NELA Winter Shelter for the Homeless, it might be a stretch to suggest I felt like I was meandering through the backstreets of Venice, Italy, with one window more enticing than the next. In this land of eclectic chaos, this beanie-loving, don’t-care crowd brings a sense of peace. After all, isn’t there relief in knowing that somewhere in the land of the trendless urbanites, someone appreciates messy man-buns, odd graphic tees, and severely mismatched clothing?

Having extensive experience at Los Angeles music venues, it’s fair to say I’m picky, and The Hi Hat far exceeded my expectations, as did the music lineup. I’ve always been a casual fan of Kate Nash, but her live performance solidified my support. Her kick-ass, all-girl band rocked the stage, and her magnetic energy had the crowd thirsting for more. Though her style was far different from her albums, I welcome the refreshing spin. If I wanted to hear her record, I’d hear her record. This was live, and she knows how to put on a show. As for Kera & the Lesbians, my first experience was a great one. Their front-woman is a polished leader who knows exactly what she’s doing. And given my previous comments about fashion, it’s worth noting that she is branding her look to her benefit. She’s shrewd, and I like shrewd.

Vintage Trouble Plays the Firepit Sessions

Vintage trouble

When my buddy Adam Labov alerted me to his most recent Firepit Sessions in Silverlake, I demanded he keep the performers quiet. Adam always keeps it quiet, but I could have used our friendship to find out the lineup, and I deliberately did not. Labov has elite taste, and I trust him. Also, there’s nothing like a private concert around a firepit in someone’s backyard, and a surprise just adds to the intimacy of the event. But when I arrived and entered Adam’s abode to use the restroom, a very kind gentleman introduced himself to me, and I immediately knew his identity. It was Ty Taylor, the lead singer of Vintage Trouble, and he had just finished performing with the Dixie Chicks on tour. Taylor’s kind demeanor was only confirmed by his on-stage performance, with the electric singer explaining that at the end of the day, music is really about performing for your friends in someone’s backyard. Music is about connections, and how better to connect than at these Firepit Sessions? Vintage Trouble lived up to every expectation, proving that their live performance is just as strong, if not stronger than their album. Their energy is ummatched, as is the quality of sound in Labov’s backyard. He’s a humble maestro. Watch Vintage Trouble perform at the Firepit Sessions below, and visit the Session website here for more info.

The Ugly Architect at Hotel Cafe: Artist on the Rise

Photo by David Chan

There’s a beauty to La La Land that only its locals know, and it’s that you can walk into just about any concert venue and discover a secret gem yet to be uncovered. Such was the case last night while in route to watch David Wax Museum. I arrived a mere fifteen minutes early and caught the tail end of The Ugly Architect, whose raw authenticity was immediately palpable. It’s not often one gets to see an impressive artist at the beginning of their rise, and this magical moment reminds me of the first time I saw Aaron Embry perform. Check out The Ugly Architect below.

Fitz and the Tantrums Live at The Greek: Full Review

Fitz and the Tantrums had a fast ascent in comparison to other indie-pop groups, and after seeing them for the first time at The Greek, it makes complete sense. Founded by Michael Fitzpatrick in 2008, the group includes saxophonist James King, singer Noelle Scaggs, drummer John Wicks, bassist Joseph Karnes and keyboardist Jeremy Ruzumna.

Perhaps my ignorance of this group’s on-stage prowess served as an advantage while watching the show, as my opinion was not perverted by some super-charged fandom. Upon taking the stage, it became immediately clear that they had an impressive catalog of hit tunes with catchy melodies, along with an infectious energy that remained consistent throughout the show. They were also some of the tightest, most polished musicians I’ve seen, which makes sense since many of them began their career as session players. Lead singer Michael Fitzpatrick’s vocals felt effortless, matched only by Noelle Scaggs, with an eye-catching glitter jumpsuit and well-timed percussion.

My experience at The Greek reminds me of seeing Coldplay at the University of Miami. I wasn’t a fan going in, but became a fan going out. It’s obviously that Coldplay is a great band, but much like Fitz and the Trantrums, they won me over with their live performance.

Celebrity News: Your Weekend Rundown


Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds had baby #2. E! Online

Nicole Kidman thinks she was too young to marry Tom Cruise. Yahoo

Blac Chyna tweeted Rob Kardashian’s phone number. HipHollywood

Marion Cotillard has a bun in the oven. People

Benedict Cumberbatch won’t ask Tom Hiddleston about Taylor Swift. Mtv

Kim Kardashian was assaulted. WGO

Mandy Moore supports ex Wilmer Valderrama dating her friend Minka Kelly. RTVW

Hilary Duff is dating the guy who founded Rise Nation. Style Caster

Taye Diggs ex and Broadway powerhouse Idina Menzel is engaged. Bossip

Charlotte McKinney has very beautiful boobs. Egotastic

AnnaLynne McCord got real about her ex Kellan Lutz. Too Fab

Jana Kramer’s ex-husband is in rehab for sex addiction. Radar Online

Lindsay Lohan lost part of her finger. TMZ

Bethenny Frankel lost her radio show over her poor behavior. Wonderwall

Sharon and Ozzy Osbourne are back in business. Just Jared

Did Angelina Jolie just hire Olivia Pope to “fix” her divorce? Pop Sugar



Counting Crows at The Greek — A Full Recap

It’s impossible to discuss one’s love of Counting Crows without enmeshing them into every life experience, because the band that has sold more than 20 million albums has also mastered the art of making you feel as if you’re part of some secret society of elevated taste mixed with emotional, lonesome musings. I was eleven years old for their August and Everything After debut, and around fourteen for their follow-up, Recovering the Satellites. That angst-driven period was met with the calming force that was Counting Crows, and I ached to learn more about the band. Much to my satisfaction, there was a fan club, which welcomed frequent visits from lead singer Adam Duritz, who, far ahead of his time, took down what’s now referred to as “twitter trolls” or “haters” with an ease and humor that suggested the man behind this sensitive, soul-searching music was also a shrewd, gruff guy who wouldn’t take any crap. He also gave the fans some personal insight into his life, along with tidbits of details about each song.

Adam Duritz has inserted names in almost Counting Crows every song, and he’s spent nearly all of his interviews answering questions as to their identity, as if each individual described is our personal friend, and we’d like to know who they are, whether they’re okay, and if they rode off into the distance with Duritz to live happily ever after. Who is the elusive “Maria,” for example? After all, Duritz himself says “There’s a piece of Maria in every song that I sing.” She has appeared in five Counting Crows songs, and his rabid fan base has always inquired as to her identity. Duritz once relented and explained that she is in fact Duritz himself, “through the eyes of a girl, but it’s someone very much like [him] struggling at the edge, not sure if she’s going to fall off on one side or the other.” And what about “Anna” from “Anna Begins?” According to Duritz, she actually exists. They met on vacation in Australia and sadly decided to go their separate ways at the end of the trip, but she’s “every girl you ever felt that way about, too.” The list goes on and on, but the questions represent something much bigger. We want to know the truth behind each song because we’re so connected to the lyrics.

After watching Counting Crows perform at The Greek, I scoured social media and noticed nearly every post was coupled with a sample of their song lyrics, because above all, that’s what speaks to us. They co-headlined with Rob Thomas, giving fans two for the price of one, with their style, talent, and energy easily complimenting one another. Of the coupling, Duritz said, “Twenty years ago Rob and I were like kids running around Italy in the middle of the night getting drunk and playing gigs. I still love nothing more than touring with my friends. This is going to be a great summer.” Their concert follows Counting Crows’ 2014 release, Something Under Wonderland, and Thomas’ third solo effort, 2015’s The Great Unknown. Counting Crows is largely known for changing the arrangements on their songs during their live performances, but this was the closest to their record that I’ve seen in some time. And while I was expecting the crowd to go crazy for their most-loved hits (i.e. Mr. Jones), I noticed something special. The crowd’s dedication was equally distributed, because true Counting Crows fans love every song with equal elation. They’re just happy to be there and support the band they’ve loved for decades. With a devoted fan base, unforgettable songs, and extremely talented musicians who clearly love to play together, this tour is not to be missed. There are a few dates left. Visit their website for tickets.

Wed Sep 14, San Diego, CA Cal Coast Credit Union Open Air Theatre at SDSU

Fri Sep 16, Indio, CA Fantasy Springs Resort Casino
Sat Sep 17, Las Vegas, NV Downtown Las Vegas Events Center
Mon Sep 19, Denver, CO Red Rocks Amphitheatre
Thu Sep 22, Albuquerque, NM Sands Casino Amphitheater
Sat Sep 24, Allen, TX Allen Event Center
Sun Sep 25, Houston, TX Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion presented by Huntsman
Tue Sep 27, Kansas City, MO Starlight Theatre
Wed Sep 28, St. Louis, MO, Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre
Fri Sep 30, Nashville, TN Ascend Amphitheater