Saturday, May 31, 2008

Iron Maiden and Anthrax in Irvine

Last night was my first of two back to back Maiden shows. I took the day off from work and rested up for the long drive and headed out about 4pm for an 8pm show. As I was headed down there Friday rush hour was picking up and the 60 mile drive ended up taking close to two an a half hours. The time went quick, I was jamming out to Maiden and Anthrax psyching myself up for the show and then when I saw a car on the road that had IRON MAIDEN! 666 on the back window I knew I was not making the trek from LA to Irvine down the 405 alone.

Once I had a quick bite to eat outside the venue I headed over to the parking lot and was parked and in the venue by about 7pm. The show time wasn't scheduled to start until 8pm but Lauren Harris (Steve Harris' daughter) and her band got an early start at 7:30. Not sure she was a good fit for the show and although she and her band were adequate I've heard much bands that are unsigned.

Now I was ready to see Anthrax. I wasn't a big Anthrax fan as a kid but as I've gotten older I've gotten into the band quite a bit, first with the John Bush era material and then later becoming familiar with the Belladona era. I had only seen the band once with John Bush back in 2000 and I missed out on the entire Belladona reunion. Anthrax was debuting their new lineup featuring their new singer Dan Nelson. As they hit the stage the seats filled and you could tell they had quite a few fans at the show. The best part was when Maiden announced these two shows in Irvine, Anthrax were not part of the bill. A very nice after the fact surprise.

The band was loose and having fun. This was their second show with Dan and he was working the crowd like he had been fronting Anthrax for years. His voice was almost a blend of Belladona and Bush but he could also do more of the deeper modern metal vocals as well. I think his voice sounded more like Bush, however he sounded better on the Belladona material. They didn't play any of the new songs they played at their first show in Chicago, but the greatest hits set suited me fine since this was the first time I saw them since I've become familiar with the material. By the end of the set the band was fairly tight and I'm anticipating they will be great tonight.

Irvine, California
Verizon Wireless Amphitheater
(Formerly Irvine Meadows)
May 30, 2008

Got The Time
Caught In A Mosh
Room For One More
Safe Home
I Am The Law

Ever since moving to LA Iron Maiden was one of the bands I wanted to see out here. They recorded their monumental album Live After Death in Long Beach, and I thought how perfect would it be to be at a show where Bruce yells "Scream for me Long Beach". Although I was slightly disappointed that they didn't play Long Beach, Irvine is just a short 30 minute drive away and Bruce humored the crowd and yelled "Scream for me Long Beach" and the crowd went wild.

I've been checking out quite a few bootlegs from the recent tour and on the first leg of the tour back in the Spring the band played loose and the drums always sounded sloppy to me. Not last night, 6 months of touring has made Maiden a touring machine. You could hear each of the three guitars independently, the solos cut through, and Nicko was in top form.

One interesting series of events occurred right before The Trooper. Steve Harris saw a fight break out and proceeded to pause the show for about 2 minutes as he cussed out this unruly kid. Bruce not knowing what was happening since he was behind the stage for the set change yelled out I feel a Foreigner song coming on, and sang the line "I've been waiting... for this song to start". Shortly thereafter they launched into The Trooper and Bruce got the background on what happened after the song.

The show was great and at first I was worried about going back to back nights since I doubt the setlist will change, but now I'm anxious for tonights show. The one thing that surprised me is how chatty Bruce is. Through out the show he gave long winded intros but seemed sincerely in awe at the size of the crowd. I'm not sure if last night was sold out, it sure looked like it, but Bruce announced that tonight's show was sold out so if you didn't already have a ticket then you won't be able to see Maiden again.

As they wrapped the set Bruce said a new Maiden album is in their future and they will be returning to Southern California. Up the irons!

Iron Maiden
Irvine, California
Verizon Wireless Amphitheater
(Formerly Irvine Meadows)
May 30, 2008

Pre-show Intro Music - Doctor Doctor (UFO)
Intro Movie
Winston Churchill's Speech
Aces High
2 Minutes To Midnight
(Scream For Me Long Beach)
The Trooper
Wasted Years
The Number Of The Beast
Rime Of The Ancient Mariner
Heaven Can Wait
Run To The Hills
Fear Of The Dark
Iron Maiden (Big Eddie)
The Clairvoyant (Walking Eddie)
Hallowed Be Thy Name

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Recording Engineer for hire

This past weekend I was asked to record my friend Tad's new band, Broken Ocean. It was the first time that I recorded a project that I was not a performer on. We got a late start Saturday night and realized that we were a bit unprepared with the necessary equipment to do a proper recording. With a little improvisation I was able to record some very basic tracks.

The challenge we faced was we were in a tiny room, had no instrument isolation, and didn't have enough headphones, or cords long enough to properly set up and record against a click track. We ended up tracking the music live with no vocals into Protools. 4 songs later we called it a night.

I feared the worst so I didn't listen to the recording for 2 days. Last night I sat down and began roughing out some mixes and was surprised that the material I had to work with was recorded fairly well. We had a couple of minor issues, one issue being we left the monitoring PA on during one of the tracks so you can hear some PA interference in the low frequencies, but other than that little mistake the recordings were usable.

The recording was dry and clean, and each instrument's track had very little bleed from other instruments. I couldn't believe this considering the room we recorded in was no bigger than 12'x12'.

The fidelity of the recording and the performances captured aren't appropriate for an official CD release but it is suitable for a demo CD and/or the band's MySpace page. As I learn more about microphones, different audio treatment effects (outboard and plugins) and become more efficient with engineering I think each recording I work on will get progressively better. I think in a couple of weeks we will try to do a fuller recording, layer in vocals and some additional guitars.

I was pleased that this very fast and rough recording rivals in sound quality some of the very early recordings I did with The Superlatives.

If the recordings get posted online by the band I'll be sure to link to them.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Two nights with Rush

This past week I was able to see Rush twice at the brand new Nokia Live Theater in Los Angeles, or as Neil Peart may say, a very "large mobile phone manufacturer" Live Theater in Los Angeles. Both shows were great but ended up being entirely different experiences as my concert karma continues to be at an all time high.

Tuesday night I went with Greg, a co-worker of mine. He had picked us up tickets shortly after they went on sale. Once we found our seats we realized we didn't have the closest seats in the place and determined that the seating chart on Ticketmaster was slightly misleading. Nevertheless we enjoyed the two and a half hour show.

For Thursday night I had bought a single ticket right as they went on sale and was able to score a 12th row center. The seat was much better, the sound was much better and this was the closest I had been for a Rush show in over 10 years.

The show starts and the seats next to me end up filling up. Shortly before the intermission I saw a group of people walking down the aisle who had asked security to help them find their seats. They ended up having the three seats next to me and forced the seat squatters who had been there most of the show out of their seats.

During the intermission the group struck up a conversation with me asking how much I paid for my ticket. I told them and then looked at their ticket and pointed out that their ticket was free and was labeled complimentary. Making a small talk joke I said unlike me, you actually know important people. At this point they reveal that the gentleman in their group is named Rupert and produced a couple of Rush's albums. I asked if this is Rupert Hine who produced both Presto and Roll The Bones and they were impressed both with my knowledge of Rush and the fact that I knew who Rupert was. I ended up talking to them through out intermission.

Fast forward to the end of the show and as the crowd is leaving they told me they had an extra backstage pass and asked if I wanted to join them to meet Rush! With no hesitation I said yes, thanked them, then told them that I had to run to buy merch and that I would be right back.

About 5 minutes later I joined the group and was able to get a true backstage experience. Once in the hospitality room they had hors d'oeuvres, wine, beer and other assorted drinks. A bit more upscale then most back stage areas I've been to. I just had a bottle of water. Rupert his ex-wife Natasha, and their friend Jacqueline stayed with me the entire time and I was able to hear numerous stories about Rupert's time with Rush, meeting the band, having Neil petition him for nearly 7 years to work with them, moving temporarily to Toronto to work in the studio, and hearing about how great the three guys in Rush were so great to him and his family for the few years they worked together.

After about 10 minutes Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson join the group to do the after show meet and greet. Geddy immediately sees Rupert, and says hi to our group first. Geddy tells us to stick around awhile so he can make the rounds and come back. Rupert graciously introduced me to Geddy as a friend.

Being backstage was a bit of a who's who in the LA music scene. Taylor Hawkins (Foo Fighters), Chad Smith (Red Hot Chili Peppers), and someone I've become recently familiar with Jason Falkner (Jellyfish), a couple of guys from Vertical Horizon, and other industry types like personal managers such as Stewart Copeland's (The Police) personal manager.

Unfortunately Neil Peart does not join these types of events so Rupert and Natasha were taken to a separate room to talk to Neil privately. When they returned they said they had a great visit and Natasha had told Neil how the end of his drum solo reminded her of when she saw Max Roach and which delighted Neil. Once they return I had worked my way over to Alex Lifeson. Rupert once again introduces me as a friend and I'm able to get autographs and a great picture with Alex. This is one funny guy, if he hadn't done music he probably could have done stand up. Everything he said was hilarious.

Geddy finally made his way back to us and I was able to get his autograph and a picture with him as well. To top everything off when we leaving both Geddy and Alex shook my hand, remembered my name and personally told me that it was nice to meet me. Who would have thought that these guys would ever know who I was, even if only for a short moment in time.

I must thank Rupert, Natasha, and their friend Jacqueline for giving me such a memorable night. You just don't see this type of generosity given to a complete stranger. Thank you.

May 6 & May 8 2008
Nokia Live Theater
Los Angeles, CA

Digital Man
Ghost Of A Chance
Main Monkey Business
The Larger Bowl
Red Barchetta
Between The Wheels


Far Cry
Workin' Them Angels
Armor And Sword
The Way The Wind Blows
Natural Science
Witch Hunt
Malignant Narcissism ->
Drum solo
The Spirit Of Radio
Tom sawyer

One Small Victory
Passage To Bangkok

Even though my concert going experience was very different I found both performances to be very consistent including identical setlists. The first night Mission and Red Barchetta were my personal highlights. The second night Mission remained a highlight with the addition of Far Cry off their latest album. On both nights Subdivisions seemed to get one of the largest crowd reactions. I enjoyed the performance slightly better Thursday and in talking to Geddy he thought the band performed better as a whole on Thursday and said the sound seemed better as well.

What a recap. Now I'm off to listen to Presto and Roll The Bones!

Monday, May 05, 2008

My Pictures are on the Dream Theater Tour Site

I just saw that many of pictures I took on Friday have been used on DT's official tour site.

They pulled my pictures from my Flickr stream.

This is a pretty cool way for bands to interact with fans and use content from the audience. Let's hope more bands do this in the future.

Also since I didn't post it last year, here are a couple of picture with me and Dream Theater from the meet and greet last year.

Dream Theater at Gibson Amphitheatre

This past Friday I saw the opening night of the Progressive Nation 2008 tour featuring Three, Between The Buried And Me, Opeth and Dream Theater. One of Jacki's friends flew into town with her husband and son for the show. So we left the wives at home and headed out for a night of Progressive metal music.

I was only familiar with Dream Theater so I didn't know what to expect from the other openers, although I had heard good things about Opeth. The first band was 3, or Three, I saw it written both ways. These guys were great, and combined progressive metal with a latin / fusion flair. After their set I went and bought their most recent cd from the merch booth. After doing some research it seems these guys have been around awhile although I don't know how they've continued to stay below the radar. Do not miss these guys, one opening band you'll regret not seeing years from now.

The next band up was Between The Buried and Me. Not bad but not great. I'm not into the cookie monster vocals but overall the music and the set didn't bother me. After seeing 3 though it made this bands set fairly forgettable.

Opeth hit the stage next and had a great reaction from the audience. I hadn't heard any Opeth material but the crowd seemed fairly familiar with the material. This was another set that was good but not great. I did like how they combined elements of metal, and the more atmospheric moods of someone like Pink Floyd or even the softer side of Sabbath from the Ozzy era. Unfortunately I don't see myself running out and buying an Opeth cds.

This marked my 11th time to see Dream Theater and they were the only band on this bill I was here to see. I would still rather have an "Evening With" set but all things considered they played a good length set. Although my seats were better last summer, 1st row center, I was close to the stage and could hear the music and vocals much better this tour. Last year all I could hear were the subs on the front row.

I also enjoyed the set list on this tour more than last year's, and I must give Mike Portnoy credit for bringing a show that only had one common song from last year's tour and even comparing it to the other two shows I've seen in the LA area nearly zero repeats from tour to tour.

Dream Theater
May 2, 2004
Gibson Amphitheatre
Los Angeles, CA

(Intro Video / 2008: An Ant Odyssey)
In The Presence Of Enemies Pt. 1
Beyond This Life
Blind Faith
The Ministry Of Lost Souls

(The Dark Nintendo Night - intermission)
I. Metropolis (w/ extended solos)
II. Learning To Live
III. A Change Of Seasons: The Crimson Sunset

The highlights for me were Forsaken, and Erotomania into Voices. For the encore break they showed The Dark Nintendo Night clip that has been making the rounds on YouTube. This is a mashup of our favorite character Mario from Nintendo fame disguised as Mike Portnoy running through Mario Bros world with the music of The Dark Eternal Night. I had seen this before but based on the reaction of the crowd I think this was new to most. It brought a much needed sense of humor to an otherwise serious night of music.

The Progressive Nation web site links in fans photos and video so with any luck you will see the photos I took published on the official Progressive Nation 2008 Photos Page.

Now below is The Dark Nintendo Night for your viewing pleasure.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Good Hurt

We just rocked a midnight show at Club Good Hurt and arrived home a little after 2am. We pulled another 15 of our own people into a midnight Thursday show which surprised me. Nate is working the Myspace promotions hard and was able to bring in a group of people off of adding them as friends as Myspace. Jacki continues to be our number 1 fan, sporting an Outlaw Engine T-shirt and I was able to bring in a couple of people from work. Although one of the guys I didn't really know.

We had a much larger crowd than last week, probably 30-40 people were in the small club and most stayed until the very end of our set. Afterwards I had several people come up and introduce themselves and said we were the best band of the night and wanted to know more about our band. So this was the first night where I saw we officially made some Outlaw converts! And as Wil and Presi have said Horsemen is our bread and butter. Every person I talked to after the show said they loved Horsemen. I guess that means we will have to keep it in our set.

We met the booking agent for the club and he said he liked what he heard and some of the staff gave the nod of approval so he is going to continue working with us to get us in front of more people. That is always a good thing. We as a band also received our first drink tickets! Our first form of payment. Ha!

To cap off the night on the way home CCR's Travelin' Band came on the radio. An apropos ending to our drive considering that is the song we closed our set with tonight.

Thanks to all who came out. Our next show is on May 16th at Paladino's. See you there!

Outlaw Engine
May 1, 2008
Club Good Hurt
West Los Angeles, CA

Born In East LA
This Woman (Fool Of Law)
Big River (Johnny Cash)
Sweat Out The Sin
The Palace Of Pleasures ->
I Know Why
The Four Horsemen (Metallica)
Travelin' Band (CCR)

Thursday, May 01, 2008

B.B. King's Cancelled

It looks like BB King's Club in Los Angeles has gone out of business. We just received the call that they are closing and all shows are canceled. Our revised list of shows are below.

May 1 2008 12:00A
Club Good Hurt West Los Angeles, California
May 16 2008 12:00A
Paladino’s Tarzana, California
Jun 5 2008 11:00P
14 Below Santa Monica, California
Jun 26 2008 10:30P
The Derby Los Feliz, California

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