Walking Papers

27 Jun

To quote Miss Spears, I did it again. I went to see the same band twice in a row. The reason is obvious. Walking Papers rock. So, let me get into this.

Walking Papers @ Garage Saarbruecken

Walking Papers @ Garage Saarbruecken

As an 80s/90s kid, I obviously lived my teenage years to two very different tunes. One was Guns n Roses. The other the Seattle scene. Hearing that The Missionary Position’s Jeff Angell and Ben Anderson teamed up with GnR legend Duff McKagan and Screaming Trees drummer Barrett Martin got my attention. Obviously.

Walking Papers @ Garage Saarbruecken

Walking Papers @ Garage Saarbruecken

Show number one took place in Saarbruecken’s Garage. Supported by Welsh rock n rollers Buffalo Summer, Walking Papers really made it one to remember. The combination of no-frills rock with intense vocal performances and off-the-charts musicianship is a given with these four. But what really sets them apart is the amount of zenned-out joy they exude throughout their extremely versatile set. I love it when people love what they do. It just makes me love it more. Plus, Walking Papers, and Jeff Angell in particular, have one skill that makes all the difference: storytelling. Those beautifully penned plots move through the music and spark the imagination. Similar to a really good movie, it turns into something that you can easily immerse yourself into over and over again. Which I did in Frankfurt’s Nachtleben on June 20.

Walking Papers @ Garage Saarbruecken

Walking Papers @ Garage Saarbruecken

On a sidenote, I also read Duff McKagan’s book before going to show number one. Great storytelling here as well. I can only recommend it.

Walking Papers @ Garage Saarbruecken

Walking Papers @ Garage Saarbruecken


Walking Papers are:

Jefferson Angell – vocals/guitar
Duff McKagan – bass
Benjamin Anderson – keyboards/backing vocals
Barrett Martin – drums

Find out more about Walking Papers here.
Flickr the Saarbruecken show here.
Get tickets for Garage Saarbruecken here.
Get tickets for Nachtleben Frankfurt here.

Jolly

29 Mar

Jolly @ Centralstation Darmstadt

Jolly @ Centralstation Darmstadt

It has been quite the wait. After releasing “Audio Guide to Happiness Part 1″, New York-based Jolly got to work on Part 2. For fans, it seems, the time in between was spent asking about the record (how many times the release date was a topic of conversation on Facebook is surreal). Now that it’s finally out, the awesome four-piece returned to Europe to support Polish progressive rockers Riverside on their tour.

It’s almost impossible to compare this new Jolly experience to my last. The last – and first – time I saw Jolly live was at a small festival in a club-size venue. An intimate, dimly-lit setting. A full set. This time at Darmstadt’s Centralstation, I only had about 30 minutes to rock out, but the show and sound certainly made up for it. As always, the tunes from both audio guides did not fail to put me in an extremely good mood. As did the energy coming from the four up on stage.

Jolly @ Centralstation Darmstadt

Jolly @ Centralstation Darmstadt

I hate to call these guys progressive or alternative. I would prefer to just call them versatile. Songs brimful with ideas and stories, some heavy riffs, some class melodies. And the talent to back it all up. In a nutshell, that’s what you get when you get Jolly. And they would swear that they love you as well.

Jolly are:
Anadale – vocals, guitar
Joe Reilly – keyboard, sampler
Anthony Rondinone – bass, vocals
Louis Abramson – drums

Flickr the show here.
Find out more about Jolly here.
Get the program for Centralstation Darmstadt here.

…And You Will Know Us by The Trail of Dead

20 Oct

Trail of Dead @ Zoom Frankfurt

Trail of Dead @ Zoom Frankfurt

Trail of Dead just never disappoints. I have seen this Austin-based band numerous times and in awesome venues like New York’s Webster Hall. I think I own the entire catalogue as well as some pieces of art work. You’d think I would get tired of the whole thing. But watching these guys live and getting swept up by their signature energy is always a rock n roll feast for me.

Slightly more arty and ingenious than alternative rock should strictly supposed to be, Tail of Dead make for a once-in-a-lifetime show over and over again. From punk-rocky numbers that are wound up so tight they may spin out of control any minute to more procrastinating tunes and long instrumentals, the set is as versatile as a day in a theme park. And it does not take a musician to realize the musicianship of this band. As all four members passionately rock away – instrument switcheroo and all – the audience surrounding me at Frankfurt’s Zoom club is mesmerized. I realize standing there that Trail of Dead fans are unique – and just as intense as the band itself.

Trail of Dead @ Zoom Frankfurt

Trail of Dead @ Zoom Frankfurt

A little banter and a whole lot of tunes later, frontman Conrad Keely bids us goodbye. Sweaty, happy, rocked-out faces leave the venue, taking Trail’s vibe and original artwork with them. I think it is at this moment that I realize: come rain, shine, or two broken legs – I probably won’t miss a Trail of Dead gig in the future either.

Trail is:

Conrad Keely
Jason Reece
Autry Fulbright II
Jamie Miller

Find out more about Trail here.
Flickr the show here.
Get info on Frankfurt’s Zoom club here.

Aftershock

5 Oct

Bush @ Aftershock Festival

Bush @ Aftershock Festival

Bush, Deftones, Stone Temple Pilots. It was like someone called me and asked who the top headliners for Sacramento’s Monster Aftershock Festival should be. Only weeks before I’d missed Bush on their European tour due to a totally sold-out house. STP had been on my list of “must-sees” for absolutely years (gotta keep checking off those grunge acts). And Deftones, well…apart from knowing full well what they are capable of live – who wouldn’t want to see one of their “home shows”, right?

Discovery Park turned out to be a good location for a festival. Getting there and away was easier than with most European festivals, there were some trees to hide under (California summers – my own personal nightmare) and there was somewhat of a lawn left to chill on when I arrived halfway through the day.

Although it was unbelievably hot and people were unbelievably sweaty when Bush took the main stage that afternoon, the crowd found a way to muster up some awesome energy for alternative rockers Bush. Launching into a fearsome set of some of the best Bush tunes, the four-piece kicked off with Machinehead and ended with Comedown. And inbetween? An expedition into the sweaty masses by Gavin, a Beatles cover, a heartbreaking rendition of Glycerin and a lot of audience discussion on whether being married to Gwen Stefani really is the secret to staying young and gorgeous. All in all, it was a memorable performance (turned heroic act by some pretty relentless sunshine) and a true pleasure to see these guys enjoy themselves so much onstage.

Deftones @ Aftershock Festival

Deftones @ Aftershock Festival

Second in headliner line: Deftones. Before I get into it, I must mention that I have had an incredibly difficult time with this band. When I first heard them in the mid-nineties, I loved them. When I saw them live a few times in the late nineties and early 2000s, I don’t think it was their finest hour. So, for a time, I was on the musical fence. When “Diamond Eyes” was released I was unsure whether or not to listen to it at all. I finally did and was just so relieved. Everything that ever made Deftones awesome was there in one record. So, I’ve been to seen them a few times since and have not been disappointed a single time. Including at Aftershock. Sure, playing the home turf may be not as hard. But coming onstage and OWNING the festival is always an accomplishment. As fans were rockin’ and bodies were surfin’ and general mayhem was taking over the crowd, the Deftones just kept doing what they do best: deliver their iconic sound by the way of tunes like “My own summer”, “Rocket Skates” and – my personal favorite – “You’ve seen the butcher”.

As far as I was concerned, the Stone Temple Pilots had quite an impossible task on their hands. And when they finally came onstage (with a mere 20-minute-delay, so not bad), I guess that is why it just didn’t work for me. Sure the performance was excellent – especially with their hits like “Interstate Love Song” and “Plush” – and the band seemed sympathetic and in a good mood. But it was also extremely relaxed which in this case felt like a void of energy. It makes you wonder if anyone ever thought about letting the Deftones go on last. And it makes me wonder if I’ll ever get the chance to re-evaluate STP in a different setting.

More on the Aftershock festival here.
More on Bush here.
Flickr Bush here.
More on Deftones here.
Flickr Deftones here.
More on Stone Temple Pilots here.
Flickr Stone Temple Pilots here.

O’Brother

21 Aug

o'brother @ Schlachthof Wiesbaden

o’brother @ Schlachthof Wiesbaden

Since about April, I have repeated one question over and over again. “Hey, have you heard O’Brother?” For some reason – I think it may have been a click of destiny or something – I came across a review of this Atlanta five-piece. I then listened to some of the tracks and got their album “Garden Window” as well as the EP “The Death of Day”. The time span from my first listen to the iTunes transaction? Not more than 4 minutes. That’s how convincing it was. If you’re into that kind of stuff.

More research revealed that O’Brother had recently toured with Junius, another favorite of mine. Of course, I found no dates for Europe (ironically, Roxity does not seem to live in Rock City. Or even Rock Country, for that matter.) But just as I was getting into the ..uhm…”groove” of asking everyone above question to at least create fellow appreciators and getting accustomed to the idea that I would have to travel far to see this live, O’Brother announced their support for Touche Amore and they were playing in Wiesbaden. Thank you, universe.

o'brother @ Schlachthof Wiesbaden

o’brother @ Schlachthof Wiesbaden

Being first support in a three band bill, the set was short but so worth the drive and 40 degree Celsius venue. Beautifully arranged, contrasting sounds are what sets O’Brother apart. A musical thumb war between fragility and power, the thickly layered scape of monumental musicianship and vocals leaves just enough room to grasp and be moved. Paired up with a live performance, it’s a whole other case of awesome. If I had to pick my set highlight, it would have to be “Ascension”. But I really can’t wait to see and hear more next time.

O’Brother are:
Tanner Merritt – vocals, guitar
Anton Dang – bass
Johnny Dang – guitar
Michael Martens – drums
Jordan McGhin – guitar

Flickr the show here.
Find out more about O’Brother here.
Get the program for Schlachthof Wiesbaden here.

Uneven Structure

30 Jul

Last weekend, French low-tuners Uneven Structure were in town. They played Frankfurt’s Nachtleben with Microphobe and Driven by Entropy. Uneven Structure had been recommended by me to one of my allies and fellow TeseracT fans. It was the first chance I got to see them live since their acclaimed first full-length album “Februus” had become a permanent resident in my playlist. Needless to say, I got exactly what I bargained for. Low, Meshuggah-esque guitars, thickly layered soundscapes and too many rhythms to count. A mix of metal and ambient sounds, completed perfectly by Matthieu Romarin’s multi-style vocals. For me, a perfect Sunday night. You should come along next time.

Uneven Structure are
Matthieu Romarin on vocals
Jérôme Colombelli on guitar
Aurélien Perreira on guitar
Igor Omodei on guitar
Benoit Friedrich on bass
Jean Ferry on drums

Find out more about Uneven Structure here.
See the program for Nachtleben here.
Uneven Structure will also be playing the Euroblast Festival this year.

iLL and Jolly

20 May

On the recommendation of an ally of mine, I ventured out to the suburbs of my rock city to go and see a show. The bands on the bill were new to me. Before I left, I quickly listened to the headliner online, just to make sure I wasn’t in for a huge surprise. But it seemed to be “my thing”, so I decided to just go with it.

When I walked into the venue to wait for my ally, the support was playing. It took about 10 seconds to fully sink in, but there it was – the answer to one of my many musical prayers. Somebody had finally combined a little Seattle sound and Layne-esque vocals with a little Southern rock, added in a touch of the classics and then bundled all that in an extremely contemporary, masterfully composed package. The band onstage was iLL, a lively three-piece out of Atlanta, GA. On a side note, I know what you’re thinking. I agree. Something’s up with that city. With the amount of awesome bands springing from that place we can only hope it’s the dawn of another rock revolution. Anyway, since the show I have had some time to listen to and digest the current album “Gotten Gains”. I am telling you: get your hands on it now. It’s one of those that gets better with every spin. I am definitely keeping my eye on these guys. I would recommend you do the same. Here’s a tune for you to listen to:

After iLL, NYC’s prog rock four-piece Jolly took the stage. Just when I thought it couldn’t get better, they dropped me into a beautifully designed musical layer cake of cerebral sounds, awesome riffs, rich bass lines, heavy beats and grab-your-soul vocals. And this layer cake made me…uhm….elated, I guess. Intrigued by the mood-changing powers of the performance, I googled and found out that the band incorporates binaural tones which can have an effect on your emotions by altering the brain’s natural frequency. Scientifically, I understand it works only when listening to the actual recorded work. But judging by my mood when I left the suburbs, I guess when someone sets out to make “emotional music” like that – whether the science of it would carry over into a live set or not – those tunes still have the power to make you smile. My advice: Get your hands on their “An Audio Guide to Happiness”, put on those headphones and enjoy. Here’s a snippet to try before you buy:

More on iLL here.
More on Jolly here.
Program for the venue Das Rind here.
Sorry, no Flickr for this show as the attendance was spontaneous. I’ll hopefully get pics next time!

Black Tusk and Red Fang

3 May

The first time I crossed paths with Portland rockers Red Fang was at an institution called Rock n Roll Couch. Located at the abode of a dear friend and ally, this happening generally attracts a good number of rockers. The aim of the game is to sit, eat, drink, talk, and take turns “DJing” youtube.

Red Fang @ Schlachthof Wiesbaden

Red Fang @ Schlachthof Wiesbaden

For anyone interested in music, there are numerous advantages to this event. First and foremost, there is always the chance of coming across a new band. When one of the regulars added Red Fang to the mix. A fun music video, a good song, real people. Not much more you could ask for, really.

When Red Fang announced dates to come to town in support of their current record “Murder the Mountains”, I couldn’t be more happy that they were bringing Savannah-based Black Tusk, who I had recently seen at SXSW, along for the ride. Some original sludge metal to start off, then some wonderfully heavy stoner metal as the main course.

Black Tusk @ Schlachthof Wiesbaden

Black Tusk @ Schlachthof Wiesbaden

Taking the small stage at Wiesbaden’s Schlachthof, both bands blew the roof off the place. There was sweat, there may have been some blood, and there certainly was enough opportunity for me to almost get murdered in the non-existant press pit. As favorites from Black Tusk’s “Set the Dial” and Red Fang’s best tunes echoed through the fully packed venue, there wasn’t a soul that wasn’t rocking out and having a good time. Honest rock makes for honest fun once again. Although I’ll come prepared and wear full body armor next time.

Black Tusk are:
Andrew Fiddler – vocals, guitar
Jonathan Athon – vocals, bass
James Mays – vocals, drums

Red Fang are:
Bryan Giles – vocals, guitar
Aaron Beam – vocals, bass
David Sullivan – guitar
John Sherman – drums

Flickr the show here and here.
Find out more about Red Fang here.
Find out more about Black Tusk here.
Get the program for Schlachthof Wiesbaden here.

Godsized Sound

9 Apr

Godsized @ Underground Cologne

Godsized @ Underground Cologne

The first time I saw Godsized was in a supporting slot for the last Life of Agony show I would ever go to. Even though I was “waiting for the main event”, they made me stop and listen. After the show, I headed over to merch – actually in search for a signed copy of the fourth “Wire Hangers”, the comic Alan Robert was publishing at the time. Unfortunately, LOA had not brought any comics to sell. As I turned around, I got “talked into” buying the Godsized EPs instead (by the band, no less). To be honest, it wouldn’t have taken a lot of convincing anyway.

Until the Croydon-based foursome toured through Germany again, I must have listened to those songs about a million times. Going from “I cold get into this” to “This is awesome, let’s put it on repeat” in the process. So when they came back, I ventured out to the Logo in Hamburg. If you’ve read my posts on Muffalo, you’ll know what happened next. The Godsized van broke down and the band could not get to the venue on time. When they arrived, it was too close to curfew to play a set. Everyone was obviously slightly disappointed. But no one was as disappointed as the band members themselves. Seeing that made me swear to myself to go see Godsized again next chance I got. And the next chance I got was Easter Sunday when they played the Underground in Cologne.

Godsized @ Underground Cologne

Godsized @ Underground Cologne

It’s incredible what a turnout Godsized produces. But it’s not unbelievable. Considering their mesmerizing stage presence, awesome musicianship, colossal tunes and honest approach to rock music, it’s hard not to love what you hear. Their groove has substance, it is – for lack of a better term – truly godsized. They turn something that could be retro into something that is current. Strong vocals, riffs, beats and bass – that is how Godsized gets everyone’s head bobbing. This band does their best to cram an arena-quality performance into a cosy live music venue. And they succeed. Commitment like that, it puts a smile on my face.

Godsized are Glen Korner (vocals and guitars), Neil Fish (guitars), Gavin Kerrigan (bass) and Dan Kavanagh (drums).

Find more on Godsized here.
Flickr the show here.
Get tickets to the Underground here.

In the meantime, 20 years have passed

21 Mar

Helmet @ Colos-Saal, Aschaffenburg

I bought Helmet’s album “Meantime” shortly after it was released in 1992. I listened to it, loved it and then obviously got into a time capsule and stepped out in the present. Or at least that’s the only explanation I have for being able to attend the 20th anniversary tour of that same record. I mean…20 years…really?

Anyway, there was no way I was going to miss this show. Having seen Helmet only once before at Dynamo Festival in 1997 and then having to deal with the fact of maybe never seeing them live again, I quickly learned what it sounds like when opportunity knocks. So, my allies and I made our way to Aschaffenburg’s Colos-Saal to celebrate an album we all grew up with.

Supporting Helmet in their anniversary quest were Derry’s heavy rock/punk outfit Fighting With Wire. Unexpectedly raw and ultimately confrontational, the three-piece set the stage for their headliners with their sometimes melodic, sometimes scything garage-rocky tunes. Definitely a band to watch out for.

Helmet @ Colos-Saal, Aschaffenburg

Helmet @ Colos-Saal, Aschaffenburg

Next up: Helmet. With a setlist comprised of a complete back-to-front “Meantime” amongst others, Helmet once again proved why they are a staple of the true rock diet. Uncompromising from the first note, the NYC-based rockers blessed their audience with their signature no-frills performance and unique staccato riffs. With their dissonant, abrasively repetitive sound and Hamilton’s angry vocals, Helmet once again succeed in touching us deeply, carving every little bit of left-over teenage angst out of these now adult souls and bringing it to the surface for the night. They remind us that it’s ok to be totally pissed off, but they do it on an almost philosophical level. From it, we understand that aggression and stupidity don’t have to go hand in hand. I guess it’s the outlet that makes the difference. And if the outlet is a masterfully crafted as “Meantime”, it’s certainly an intelligent way to vent.

So, re-listen, re-live and re-comprehend. And then check out their new album “Seeing Eye Dog” when you’re ready for more.

Find out more about Helmet here.
Flickr the Helmet performance here.
Find out more about Fighting With Wire here.
Flickr the Fighting With Wire performance here.
Get tickets for Colos-Saal here.