Category Archives: Live Reviews

M83 w/The Los Angeles Philharmonic – The Disney Concert Hall


M83 w/The Los Angeles Philharmonic
The Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles, 03.07.09
Grade: 95%
by Kenny S. McGuane

For those tuned into the musical catalog of France’s M83,
a pairing of its epic-electronica vision with an orchestra may have
seemed obvious from the get go. For others though, it might only seem
obvious retrospectively. Those that were fortunate enough to have a
seat in downtown L.A.’s Disney Concert Hall on
Saturday night had the privilege of hearing selections of M83’s
decadent and window-shattering electronic music immersed in orchestral
settings played by none other than The Los Angeles Philharmonic.

Although popular music and classical music have certainly mixed before,
there was something very special about Saturday night’s concert: M83
and the L.A. Phil might be one of the most successful genre mash-ups of
all time, certainly one of the most unique. READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE



Travis – Live at The Troubadour


West Hollywood, CA – 11.11.08
Grade: 89%
by Kenny S. McGuane

It’s still baffling that there is any debate over whether or not Travis are as good a band or better than Coldplay or Keane. Just mentioning the name Coldplay at a Travis concert is sure to get you several dozen beer bottles shattered in your eyes.

Of course Travis are better.

Sure, there’s no accounting for taste, but it comes down to which band
one heard first. As far as America is concerned, Scotland’s Travis were
in and out of the scene quicker than you can shout “Brit Pop!” Most
folks on this side of the pond are familiar with “Why Does It Always
Rain On Me?” and perhaps “Sing”, and if those same folks only heard the
singles and never bought the records, then Travis were just another
forgettable band who arrived too late to cash in on the Brit Pop
revolution, which was losing steam during the late 90s. Had record
consumers been paying closer attention to Travis, who debuted years
before both Coldplay and Keane, perhaps the former would have had a
better chance of survival in the States. READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE



Cut Copy & The Presets – Live at the Glasshouse


Pomona, CA – 10.3.08
Grade: 88%
by Kenny S. McGuane

Ahhh The Inland Empire: Such a cultural wasteland and yet so
unavoidably a central part of the youthful and sociological composition
of Southern California.

The Glasshouse is situated about 30 miles east of
downtown Los Angeles in one of the Inland Empire’s most depressing and
bizarre cities called Pomona. The all-ages, booze-free club is inside a
disgracefully dilapidated shit-hole of a building where one of its most
apparent oversights is central air conditioning. Thankfully Southern
California temperatures had cooled down quite a bit on Friday night. To
be inside of that building on any normal late summer/early fall evening
where the average temperature in Pomona is hovering somewhere around 92
degrees would have surely landed a few people in the hospital. Perhaps
considering the building’s geographic location, and its either broken
or non-existent air conditioning system, it’s a really good idea to NOT



Paul Weller – Live at the Wiltern Theater


Los Angeles, CA – 9.3.08
Grade: 89%
by Kenny S. McGuane

I remember the first time I heard The Jam and how everything about the music sounded important.
In other words, the music was so exciting and instantaneously addictive
that I didn’t have to do any research to verify how significant—and
exceedingly influential—The Jam must have been. Despite being broken up
for over twenty years, the impact of The Jam is as strong today as
ever. Almost every modern British rock band in recent memory is, from
where I sit, totally transparent about acknowledging—both musically and
aesthetically—the authority The Jam has on contemporary music from the
United Kingdom; after all, imitation is the best form of flattery. READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE


Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – Live At Verizon Wireless Amphitheater


Irvine, CA
by Kenny S. McGuane

Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Irvine sucks.

used to be called Irvine Meadows. Been there a few times to see various
other acts and every time is a letdown. Don’t get me wrong; it’s never
the performer’s fault. It’s the outdoor theater’s fault. It seats
uncomfortably about 15,000 people. Just like most other outdoor
theaters, the acoustics are god-awful…extraordinarily bad. So bad it
often makes it hard to enjoy the music, or rather, always makes it hard
to enjoy the music.

Last Friday’s Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers show was no exception.

But there were other factors that made for a less than desirable concert-going experience. It felt
oversold. I have never witnessed this many people in one place at once
time for one artist. Good news for Tom Petty, bad news for
ticket-buyers. We had lawn seats and making it to and from the bathroom
was impossible. There were two of the worst girl fights I have ever
witnessed…all for the damn bathrooms. These were exceedingly violent
and bloody fights. Between the crowds and the inability to distance
myself from the fights, there was plenty going on that made me very

Also — forgive the snobbery — Tom Petty seems to draw a pretty white-trash laden crowd. Never in my life have I seen so many Southern California
lowlifes packed into one spot, aggressive, rude, and drunken slobs who
would have picked a fight with anyone they felt had overstepped their

So a good chunk of the Tom Petty show I had so looked forward to was a major downer. READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE


The Enemy UK: Live at The Troubadour


West Hollywood, Los Angeles – 08.06.08
by Kenny S. McGuane

I got beat up on Wednesday night.

Not by gangsters or anything like that; I was accosted by rock & roll. West Hollywood’s legendary Troubadour hosted a musically varied mid-week show featuring two Los Angeles-based bands—Gran Ronde and Castaneda—and the NME-endorsed Coventry, England rock & roll purists The Enemy UK.

The always professional and grateful Gran Ronde started on time, forcing them to play to a pretty empty house. That didn’t seem to bother them though. They played with as much energy and focus as I’ve seen them do when they’re playing to a much larger audience. They covered plenty of material from their excellent debut record Secret Rooms and held the relatively small audience captive with their sophisticated new-wave revivalist rock. Castaneda followed shortly thereafter playing to a slightly larger crowd and had a similar impact as Gran Ronde on the early birds who had showed up to be abused by The Enemy UK. READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE


Lucero: Live at The Echo


Echo Park, Los Angeles – 07.24.08
Kenny S. McGuane

I was totally minding my own business. Actually, I was taking care of business whilst standing there at the urinal with my eyes glued to the highly informative STD poster hanging on the wall in front of me. Did you know you can get HPV from a towel? Just then, the shaved-headed young man next to me glanced toward my lower torso and exclaimed in the thickest southern accent I had ever heard in L.A., “Hey, man! Nice belt!”

“Huh?” I responded, totally perplexed while never once taking my eyes off the wall in front of me.

“Nice belt!” the southern gentlemen said once again. “Oh, I ain’t lookin’ at yer stuff er nothin’. I AIN’T GAY, no sir. But dang, man, that’s a real nice belt!” he explained. “Oh, um. Thanks, man.” I nervously replied. He then zipped up his pants, patted me on the back—I was still taking care of business—and while exiting the bathroom shouted “Wulp, see ya around, man!”

Last Thursday night at The Echo was a different kind of night with a different kind of crowd. Not different in a bad way, no sir; it was different in a welcomed and most awesome way. READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE


Darker My Love: Live at The Echo


Echo Park, Los Angeles – 07.18.08
by Kenny S. McGuane

I had an old friend fly into LAX last Friday morning. She’s from Pennsylvania. Not Philly or Pittsburg, but rural PA. The kind of rural PA where the only band you’re gonna find within a hundred miles will be a cover band. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. In fact cover bands from rural PA are probably some of the best around, at least that’s the feeling I got from her description. She’d come through LA before, meaning she had been in and out of LAX, but she’d never really been to LA. I wanted to show her a totally rad Los Angeles Friday night.

Thankfully, there was a free show at The Echo. How convenient for a guy pinchin’ pennies ‘cause of gas prices.

It wasn’t no ordinary free show neither: LA-based psychedelic bad-asses Darker My Love were playing. READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE


Supergrass: Live at the Avalon


Hollywood, CA – 07.12.08
Grade: 88%

Remember back in ’96 when Fleetwood Mac did that reunion tour and they put out the live album The Dance? Do you also remember how they made the listeners sit through new Fleetwood Mac songs? They didn’t actually think that people paid hundreds of dollars for tickets to see a reformed Fleetwood Mac play new Fleetwood Mac songs, did they? I think not. Same thing happened with the Eagles. Who wants to go to an Eagles show to listen to a bunch of old-farts play new Eagles tunes? Don’t bore us, boys. Either play “Witchy Woman” or get the hell off the stage.


Right. Lots of hugely successful bands run into this problem as they age. Perhaps the key to keeping people interested in a band’s newest artistic endeavors is to try and never break up. Otherwise people are just gonna come out to the shows demanding the greatest hits, which is fine for the audience but annoying—if not totally insulting—for the artist.

Supergrass are keeping people interested. READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE – Kenny S. McGuane


Beirut – Live at the Wiltern Theater in Los Angeles


Media hype has its pros and cons. It can do really good things for what would otherwise be an extremely low-profile indie act who can’t move any records. The flip side is that you’re always measured against the expectations set in place by the hype. Such is the case with 22 year-old Zach Condon’s widely acclaimed band Beirut. A great deal of the hype and acclaim are not off base; he deserves most of it. But what the hype rarely seems to acknowledge is how unapologetically gimmicky Condon’s musical vision is. You all know the story by now. As a refresher, he dropped out of high school at the age of 16 and traveled extensively through Europe. During his travels he evidently fell in love with Balkan folk music. His full-length debut Gulag Orkestar represents this love affair and while it’s an interesting listen, it’s also derivative. 

Gimmicks don’t bother everyone. But they bother me.

Or rather gimmicks bother me most when they’re as pronounced as Beirut’s and they’re coupled with what is otherwise really awful music. Thing is Condon doesn’t make really awful music; quite the contrary. Condon makes really fascinating—sometimes self indulgent—music that’s packed with sincerity and soul. Perhaps it’s the overall quality of Beirut’s work that makes it easy to overlook the gimmicks…but that doesn’t mean that they don’t exist or that they’re not worth mentioning.

Korea Town’s Wiltern Theater was packed last Friday night and all sorts of people came out to see the New Mexico native blow on his really awesome trumpet collection. But it wasn’t just Condon releasing his spit valves onto the Wiltern stage; he had what seemed like an entire high school marching band onstage with him making all sorts of gloriously pitchy noises that blended together for a huge curtain of brassy sound. There were mandolins, accordions, ukuleles, glockenspiels, double bass, and Condon’s awesomely imperfect voice.

All of those instruments and all of those people onstage are an example of the aforementioned gimmicks.

But again, these are gimmicks drowned in ambitiously interesting music. This was a fine show, really it was. It’s was just hard to get past how much was happening onstage. There was very little space in the music, some of the instruments and players were kind of overkill and it just made for sort of an exhausting evening. The audience was bombarded with so much brass that it sort of clouded the overall goodness of Condon’s music, not to mention gave us some radical ear fatigue.

The Beirut musical collective covered plenty of material on Friday night, mainly from 2006’s Gulag Orkestar and 2007’s The Flying Club Cup. Also there to support were show openers Devon Williams from Los Angeles and the exceptionally entertaining Brunettes from New Zealand. The combination of all three of these acts made for an exotic evening of music, one I am not sure I’d have the energy to put myself through again anytime soon. But that’s just one dude’s opinion. One thing’s for sure: Zach Condon is making some interesting and remarkably unusual music and for that reason alone, a Beirut show is totally worth seeing. – Kenny S. McGuane



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