Review of Aug. 27 Cake show at Fox Theater Pomona

It was a lot of Cake at Pomona Fox Theater Thursday night. The near-20-year-old band played two 45-minute sets with an intermission and a 10 minute encore – they made us wait for that one.

Someone I know described the band as “talky” – and they were. Singer John McCrea took the liberty of lecturing the audience about being hypocrites – they should, he said, abstain from alcohol and take legal drugs. He also stated he’s against marijuana (there was definitely some of that Thursday night). That kind of killed the mood for some listeners.

On the bright side, he gave out a free shirt to a girl who knew the annual number of deaths due to a lack of basic health insurance. It’s 18,000, for the record.

But it seemed the crowd loved it all – even the six audience members who did pushups to win a lemon tree. What was difficult to tell was whether McCrea loved the audience – he seemed to be trying awfully hard to get people to sing. Starting with the crowd-pleaser “Sheep go to Heaven,” McCrea was like a conductor, cuing excellent trumpet player Vince DiFiore and keeping tempo with his free hands. But to be a Cake fan, however, you have to work as hard as the band.

“Are you trying hard enough?” McCrea asked the audience in the encore performance of “Short Skirt, Long Jacket.” And the balcony – the poor balcony which received boos from the audience because they weren’t singing the chorus loud enough.

Of course, they ended with “The Distance.” Smart, because a good number of people were just waiting for it.

Highlights: A new song from an album they’re going to release “whenever we feel like it,” the lemon tree contest (I think the winner did 50 pushups)
I wish they had played: Guitar Man, Let Me Go


Tool singer injured but still performed at Epicenter

Tool singer Maynard James Keenan was forced to sing from the sidelines from an injury before the show he apologized for that caused him to hobble on the stage with crutches.
Keenan joked about the injury at various points, saying he needed to perform so fans could “get drunk and run into each other.”
I could not even see Keenan for most of the show, but you could definitely feel his powerful vocals along with the male fans singing along word for word. Most of the crowd at Epicenter appeared to be wearing black shirts with the band’s name on them.

The group started with “Jambi” and went into favorites like “Forty-Six & 2” and “Schism” besides a multitude of other songs while multi-colored patterns or odd images like half man half animal creatures were on screens on each side of the stage.
Tool’s set also had a well-choreographed laser light show that mixed in striking greens, reds, pinks, smoke machines and spotlights.

Linkin Park drew a lot of vocal fans at Epicenter 09

Linkin Park definitely had the most vocal female fans of Epicenter 09 I heard, but then I missed Atmosphere who do well in that category as well.
What surprised me, and probably shouldn’t, is how every song Linkin Park performed I think I’ve heard on the radio from “Numb” to “In The End” to “New Divide.”
You can argue about their musicianship or how simple these songs are but the audience was singing along word for word.
Some songs like “Bleed It Out” actually sounded better live because the crowd would clap loudly and vocalist/guitarist/keyboardist Mike Shinoda smiled like he couldn’t believe the audience was actually into his band.
During the song “Breaking the Habit” the sound actually went out and the audience finished up the song while Chester Bennington continued to sing and Shinoda appeared upset but the problems were solved.
The only negative was Bennington’s solo group “Dead By Sunrise” which performed more rock heavy songs like “Crawl Back In” and “Let Down” that somewhat killed the energy of Linkin Park’s set.

Epicenter 09 random audience notes

When members of the U.S. Army would shoot out T-shirts (they used a gun-like device to do this), people would look them over and throw them at other audience members.

The shirts, which were black with yellow writing, did not appear to be a big favorite of people who received them (especially at the Aesop Rock set).

A large portion of the fans here are wearing black Tool T-shirts, but there has also been a decent amount of Linkin Park shirts and a few Alice In Chains and Hollywood Undead shirts.

I have not witnessed any fights, unlike other concerts I’ve been to, but the Fairplex doesn’t appear to me to be as packed as it could be. I noticed alcohol sales will stop at 10 p.m. (and Tool goes on at 9:30 p.m.) Fans seem to have room to spread out on the ground with blankets and move around.  

The vendor Matt Helkenn, who I talked to as he managed the vendor booth theendtimes, said his T-shirt company had lot of products with semi-offensive language. Helkenn said he was pleased with the amount of people at the event earlier in the afternoon. Helkenn, from San Diego, said he wanted to see Tool.

Epicenter 09 quick updates

Hollywood Undead’s mix of rap, rock and metal was an early hit here with the audience and started their set off with a “What’s up Pomona?” along with some expletives I won’t print here.
Many in the group wore masks to start their performance and colorful T-shirts like “I f***** hate Limp Bizkit” or “Rep Yo Hood.”
The Hollywood group pretty much stuck to performing songs off their album “Swan Songs,” which had lot of the fans rapping along.
An unintentionally comical moment in the festival came earlier after a U.S. Army staff sergeant introduced the hip-hop and rock group Street Sweeper Social Club who I thought were explosive live with tremendous energy.
The U.S. Army, who were one of the sponsors of the event, played the national anthem on the main stage before the SSSC group, which features rhymer Boots Riley from the hip-hop group The Coup and Tom Morello of Rage Against The Machine among other members, came out. 
Riley, after the band performed a cover of M.I.A.’s hit song “Paper Planes,” said the government took taxpayers money and used it to bail out the banks and “… kill others in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
The audience, many of which had cheered the national anthem, went a bit silent.
Riley then asked the audience if they wanted to join his group, which led into their song “The Oath” and subsequent cheers. 
Atreyu’s metalcore sounded great on songs like 2008’s “Falling Down” and 2004’s “Right Side of the Bed” and the audience really seemed to be into them.
Also well received was Aesop Rock on the second stage with his hype man Rob Sonic and DJ Big Wiz but I had to miss Atmosphere because I had to file my story before 5 p.m.
I’ve personally seen Atmosphere at least five or six times but I felt really bad about missing their set because Slug and Ant always put on a good show.
Despite the overall good feelings from the audience , some members were upset water was $4 and I so far have avoided paying $5 for a soda or a powerade.
Wolfmother, which has all new members except for the singer, were great live and played extended jams for many of their songs including the single “Woman” but I could not catch all of their set as I was trying to update my story for Sunday.
I also missed After Midnight Project (who I REALLY wanted to see live because I like what I’ve heard of them) but they sounded good from what I could hear in the parking lot.

Alice In Chains at Epicenter 09

Alice In Chains were the surprise of Saturday’s Epicenter 09 festival in Pomona, at least to me.
William DuVall, who has taken over for Layne Staley, as vocalist and also plays rhythm guitar appeared to win everyone over with his rumbling voice and laid back yet charismatic stage presence.
The group performed new songs from their upcoming album “Black Gives Way to Blue” that included “Check My Brain” and “A Looking In View.”
During “A Looking In View” people set fire to what smelled like plastic
bottles and happily moshed around the fire until security stepped in.
Their renditions of “Man In The Box” and “The Rooster” were really good however.
DuVall, to me, sounds like Staley in the way that Brian Johnson sounds like Bon Scott meaning there are definite similarites but different enough to where you want to hear an album to see what would happen.
With that said, I would like to hear DuVall on an acoustic song to hear his voice more clearly but he came off well Saturday.

Pennywise lead singer leaving group after 20 years

Here’s the news release that came today from msopr on singer/songwriter Jim Lindberg leaving the Hermosa Beach punk rock group …

“After 20 years, nine albums and thousands of shows
around the world, my time in Pennywise has come to an end.  Being the singer for this band has been
an amazing experience, and along the way we made some of the best fans anyone
could ask for.  There are few things
that made me more proud than seeing people at our shows singing our songs, and
it’s your support and encouragement that’s kept me going this long.  I would sincerely like to thank everyone
who helped us along the way and wish everyone in the Pennywise family the best
of luck and continued success. 
Yours truly, Jim.”


The release said Lindberg is working on a documentary based on his book “Punk Rock Dad” and will record a yet to be titled album. He also founded and is a consultant to Havoc TV, the Video On Demand action music and sports channel.

Upcoming shows through Sept. 25 at the Pomona Fox Theater

Thanks to Location  Date 
Tue, 08/25/09
07:00 PM
Thu, 08/27/09
08:00 PM
Sat, 08/29/09
07:30 PM
Tue, 09/01/09
07:30 PM
Tue, 09/15/09
08:00 PM
Thu, 09/17/09
08:00 PM
Tue, 09/22/09
06:30 PM
Fri, 09/25/09
08:00 PM

A lot of good shows this week and next at the Glass House in Pomona

Below is the list of shows

Event  Location  Date 
Glass HousePomona, CA
Wed, 08/19/09
07:00 PM
Glass HousePomona, CA
Thu, 08/20/09
06:30 PM
Glass HousePomona, CA
Fri, 08/21/09
07:00 PM
Glass HousePomona, CA
Sat, 08/22/09
08:00 PM
Glass HousePomona, CA
Sun, 08/23/09
08:00 PM
Glass HousePomona, CA
Thu, 08/27/09
07:00 PM
Glass HousePomona, CA
Fri, 08/28/09
07:00 PM

Rock The Bells 2009 festival random thoughts

Since I never wrote a true review of the Saturday show at San Manuel’s Amphitheater, here are some random thoughts.

Ice Cube was a great headliner but I wished he would have performed songs from 1991’s “Death Certificate” and 1990’s “America’s Most Wanted” his two true classic albums that made him, at least to me, the best hip-hop artist in the world at one point.

I enjoyed Nas and Damian Marley with the live band but did not stay long because I went to see The Rza on the Paid Dues stage (and I saw Nas last year). Anyway, I’m not sure if it’s the live band feel or what but I felt the Nas/Marley collaborations were a bit underwelming.

Seeing the Rza perform “1-800 Suicide” with Fruitkwan for a true Gravediggaz collaboration (R.I.P. Too Poetic) was a dream come true for me. I was truly not expecting that. I also thought it was strange, at the time, how Raekwon did not perform with him despite going on earlier but that’s probably because of the fight/confrontation/punch with Joe Budden.

Also, and I feel really bad here, I did not catch any of the Budden/Raekwon references on stage made by Crooked I during Slaughterhouse because I was out in the crowd all day taking notes and my computer battery died. I only learned what happened backstage Sunday morning.

M.O.P., despite a crowd that was clearly waiting for them to get off the second stage to hear Psycho Realm, was great despite “Ante Up” being the only thing the audience actually seemed to cheer for. But they had no merchandise stand I could locate. I thought in this day and age, with record sales declining, artists were big on the merch stands??? I also didn’t see any for San Bernardino’s Short Dawg Da Native either. Artists, please remember you have fans.

Tech N9ne got a really, really bad deal. He went on at 3 p.m. with nobody in the arena and he gave one of the best live performances of the day from what I saw. I had to split time between him and Short Dawg but I had caught Tech at the Paid Dues Festival earlier this year so I wasn’t too upset. But I heard grumblings from fans later on about how they missed Tech N9ne.

In fact, the schedule on the main stage was off by an hour or two and caused artists like Busta Rhymes to rush through short sets. On the Paid Dues stage, the last act was Slaughterhouse and not The Rza and people were upset over that. Buckshot and KRS-ONE went on at the wrong time as well … it made for a confusing day where people kept wanting to look at my set list and I would show them and then have to make revisions.

The Roots were superb as usual. They really stretch their songs out with amazing musicianship … their extra long version of “You Got Me” went off into a bunch of different drumming and instrumental directions before coming back to the chorus and it came off great.

I saw two fights at the festival. The first was a scuffle during Buckshot and KRS-ONE where one guy looked like he got in trouble with another crew and they tried to punch him … the guy may have been hit too but I have no idea. Security had to jump in and stop everything while the performance kept going.

The second fight was after the concert ended when I saw a man get punched in the face twice after he got in a shouting match with a woman and another man punched him twice. The man who was punched was later handcuffed and escorted out of the venue.

Surprise guest was Slick Rick, which was amazing. He got a huge ovation, as well he should when he came out to “Lodi Dodi.” My only complaint was the set was too short and they sped up the beat to “Children’s Story” when I wished it would have stayed the same tempo.

The vendor booths, despite no M.O.P. material,  were well thought out. Several people I talked to said they were great when you’re not a fan of the artist performing. The, the group that puts out those anti-cigarette commercials, had freestyle competitions and even a jump rope competition. Murs was signing autographs at his booth while Sick Jacken was signing autographs at the Soul Assasins booth (I think I may have seen DJ Muggs too but I’m not sure).