Covering the Inland Empire's music scene


Gamers get total Beatles experience with Rock Band game


By Neil Nisperos

Staff Writer

When evaluating art that really matters, The Beatles are among the real miracles and artistic touchstones for western music and pop culture.

Their musical legacy is arguably without equal, with a talent, genius, influence and popularity that will be appreciated long after most forget about 90 percent of the artistic and commercial product produced in this century and the last. They are among the likes of Mozart, Shakespeare, or Dylan, in the virtuosity of their lyricism and musicianship.

With that said, it was an honor for me to see one-fourth of the legendary band perform at Coachella this year — losing my voice in the process after singing along with Beatles bassist/songwriter Paul McCartney to his hits “Hey Jude” and “Paperback Writer” — among my favorite songs of all time. I didn’t think my Beatles experience could be equalled this year after seeing Paul live, singing “Can’t Buy Me Love” while he jammed on his original Hofner Bass guitar.

I was wrong.

With the release of The Beatles Rock Band last week, in addition to their remastered album recordings, I was again lost in the heavenly bliss of the Fab Four’s three-part harmony, in ways I hadn’t experienced before.

With recreated Hofner bass in hand, and microphone on mouth, I re-lived the Fab Four’s deliriously fast rise to the top from the working class docks of Liverpool to playing sold-out American arenas filled with screaming girls, and back home to the hallowed halls of their Abbey Road recording studio in London — all through a quality product that should not only please to no end existing Beatles fans but also introduce their music to a new generation. I shared this experience with friends and strangers, all happilly united in the goal of recreating truly amazing music.

As a guitar player, I was at first skeptical of a video game that cheats one of the real experience of creating real music, or actively listening to an actual record. Playing a real musical instrument, I still believe, is far superior than pushing colored buttons on something that looks like a Fisher-Price toy guitar for toddlers, in the safety and security of one’s living room.

There’s something about rock music that shouldn’t be living-room friendly. There’s something weak about rocking out with a light plastic guitar with plastic buttons instead of the delicate picking of steel strings, executing knuckle busting chords, and pulling off sonically seductive riffs after years of practice and experience.

But the new Beatles Rock Band game still proves a revelation in the way one can experience, appreciate and truly understand The Beatles’ art. There’s quality in the production here and fans and non-fans alike really get an opportunity to appreciate and have fun with some the truly remarkable songs. The new medium of video games are truly evolving into important works of art that not only captivate but allow the one to be able to participate.

Among the best bits:

– Art: The production art for the box, cut-scenes and the gameplay are all gorgeous rendered. From the beautifully riveting opening animation sequence to the psychedelic vibrancy of later song levels, the experience is a candy for the eyes and ears. Its nice to see band rock out the Cavern Club and Ed Sullivan’s Theatre set in full Technicolor. The middle period of the game features famous Beatles venues such as Shea Stadium and Budokan in Japan. The Beatles last period is set in Abbey Road studios and the band’s legendary final live performance on a London rooftop.

– Drums: The game actually serves as a real musical learning tool. The music educational value of the game through the software and hardware is top-notch. The game comes with an intuitive electronic drum set that authentically replicates the crash, hi-hat, toms, snare and bass of an actual drum kit. The player can use the hardware with the game’s easy to learn tutorials on Ringo’s actual drum lines that you can slow down and learn beat by beat.

– Vocals: Here players can either choose to sing lead or harmony and the microphone sensitivity to pitch and beat is spot on. The game should prove hit at parties, and might even serve to teach the tone deaf to sing on key.

-Online play: Hook up your internet cable to the console, test your skills and tour the world, literally. The game easilly finds you bandmates to sing or play along with from around the globe.


– My only beef is that the game needs more songs. We’re missing several greats numbers like “Money,” “I Should Have Known Better,” and “Let it Be,” among many other classics. The game should have been released with the Beatles entire catalogue, though I understand they will be available for download.

(909) 483-9356

Photo by Neil Nisperos: Paul McCartney of The Beatles, plays his Hofner Bass, at the 2009 Coachella Valley Festival of Music and Art

Sonic Youth September 25 Pomona Fox Theater date postponed to January 8


“Sonic Youth regretfully announce that guitarist Lee Ranaldo has
fractured his left wrist — requiring the band to reschedule portions of
their upcoming west coast tour to the following new dates:

Mon Jan 04 – Tucson, AZ – Rialto Theater
Tue Jan 05 – Phoenix, AZ – Marquee Theater  
Thu Jan 07 – San Diego, CA – House of Blues
Fri Jan 08 – Pomona, CA – Fox Theater
Sat Jan 09 – Los Angeles, CA – The Wiltern

Tickets for the original dates will be honored or, if necessary, refunds will be made available at the point of purchase.
Two of the band’s planned Fall appearances will NOT be rescheduled,
however – September 26 in Santa Barbara and October 4 at The Austin
City Limits Festival.  Refunds for the Santa Barbara performance will
be available at the point of purchase. More ticket information on the calendar page.

Lee fractured his wrist while playing tennis. Please join us in wishing him a quick and thorough recovery.”

Cypress Hill Smokeout festival presale is at 10 a.m. Wednesday (today)

Here’s the information directly from my e-mail:

“Cypress Hill & Guerilla Union Present



Set your alarm for tomorrow, 9/9/09 at 10AM–don’t miss your chance to be a part of the all day mind opening experience!



Lineup Subject to Change

Includes Hemp Industry Exhibits, Smokeout Glass Art Showcase, 4:20 Movie Night, Cypress Hill Meet & Greet, Celebrity Appearances, & MORE!

Includes Exclusive Meet & Greet Sessions, 2 Drink Tickets, Smokeout Merchandise, an Opportunity to Hang Out with the Artists, your way in to the Official Pre-Party, Orchestra Pit Access, & MORE! Only Available with VIP Ticket Purchase.

LAWN – $29.50
RESERVE 1 – $39.50
RESERVE 2 – $49.50 – $59.50
VIP – $249.00

Seating Chart Available at


October 23rd & 24th | San Manuel Amphitheater

Here’s the link for tickets if interested:

Def Leppard leads rock assault in S.B. (a.k.a. the Rick Allen interview)

The following Def Leppard concert preview story was supposed to run in the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin and San Bernardino Sun newspapers Thursday but did not. So here it is …

English rock band Def Leppard has been though many highs and lows.
Drummer Rick Allen lost his left arm in a 1984 car crash, but his band went on to have its greatest success ever with mid-1980s hits like “Love Bites,” “Pour Some Sugar on Me” and “Armageddon It.”
Def Leppard lead singer Joe Elliott has said the loss of the arm actually made Allen a better drummer.
“I know what he means,” Allen said in a recent interview about Elliott’s comments. “See, as I know him so well, I cut him some slack. What he meant is it’s more solid. And less busy.”
Def Leppard will perform with Poison and Cheap Trick at 7 p.m. Sunday at the San Manuel Amphitheater in Devore.
“When you see the show, it’s pretty seamless,” Allen said. “It really works.”
Def Leppard has recently crossed into the country genre and Allen is excited by it. “It’s another way to listen to our music in a different form. Country music has been crossing over for quite awhile. Shania Twain started quite a trend and Taylor Swift is taking that to the next level. We feel as though we’re really excited.”
Interestingly, Allen said the song “Pour Some Sugar on Me,” which was recorded in 1986 for the band’s blockbuster “Hysteria” album in 1987, was inspired by hip-hop artist LL Cool J.
“The rhythm from ‘Pour Some Sugar On Me’ is a direct influence from him. We’re not opposed to being influenced or borrowing certain things from all different kinds of music.”
Allen couldn’t remember the exact LL Cool J song that inspired “Sugar,” but he said, “One particular song at the time had a similar sort of groove. Music is fantastic in that way. People borrow different things. For instance, the blues has been back and forth across the Atlantic so many times.”
Allen said the band’s mission always has been to “remain authentic, be true to ourselves and write the best songs we can.”

Hollywood Undead (an old preview story for Aug. 22 Epicenter concert)

KROQ’s Epicenter ’09 hits Pomona Saturday

Undead’s Johnny 3 Tears is not worried about performing on the same
stage as the likes of Linkin Park, Tool or Alice in Chains on Saturday
at KROQ’s Epicenter ’09 rock festival in Pomona.

“We performed with [Linkin Park] twice in Japan and there were
a lot of bands. This is the same kind of vibe. It would be different if
it was direct support.”

Hollywood Undead is scheduled to perform at 2:35 p.m. Saturday on the main stage at Pomona’s Fairplex.

kind of surreal,” said the rocker, who doesn’t divulge his given name.
“We worked for five years trying to get signed and the second we let
that go we’re like, ‘Let’s do this for us now …”‘

Now, the band is part of the mix at Epicenter ’09, which starts at noon on Saturday.

bad for a relatively new Hollywood band that has had its mix of rap,
metal and industrial tunes featured on KROQ radio recently.

“On radio in the last year we’ve been played on 30 or 40
radio stations,” he said. “It meant more to be played on KROQ because
that was my home town, and people I knew grew up listening to it.”

The band’s sound, which has been compared, sometimes disparagingly, to Limp Bizkit and even Insane Clown Posse, is memorable.

rather be in this band which is original and new and (ticks) people off
rather than the thousands of bands I can’t tell the difference
between,” he said.

Ultimately, the group is making music they want to make and fans enjoy it.

The six-member
group’s album “Swan Songs” was recorded three years ago and was
originally set to be released on Myspace Records in 2005.

But the group was told to make changes on the album because of its explicit content so they left.

“They felt like, ‘You guys are cussing on purpose’ but it’s the way people talk and feel,” he said.

The group’s next record will be darker, he said.

“We have more rock songs on the record. It’s more of a darker hip-hop element … with darker, more serious subject matter.”


Starring: Linkin Park, Tool, Alice in Chains, Hollywood Undead, Atmosphere and more

Where: Fairplex, 1101 W. McKinley Ave., Pomona

When: Noon to 11 p.m. Saturday

Cost: VIP $125, regular ticket $79.50 plus fees


Ween preview story for Sept. 1 Pomona Fox show

Ween to rock the Fox in Pomona

– Ween’s alternative and experimental rock sounds mixed with a lot of
other styles will be let loose Tuesday at the Pomona Fox Theater.

“We write out a set list but it changes very quickly,” said
Dean Ween (real name Mickey Melchiondo). “It depends on what it feels
like. If we play in a small bar, you know packed with drunken people on
a Friday night, you keep it kind of rowdy. You just adapt. Performing
is give-and-take with the crowd.”

With fellow member Gene Ween (Aaron Freeman), the duo will play with their band for about three hours at the Fox.

group is known for changing their sets every night and playing between
35 to 45 songs that mine a multitude of genres from country to funk.

Now, the band is ready to take off a few months to write a record, which they plan to do in the fall or winter.

process consists of “starting off with ideas laying around but it’s a
momentum thing. When you finally write a song good enough, you get the
momentum going. We like to set aside the time to write.”

He said as he gets older, “I’m a lot more comfortable being Ween now than 10 or 15 years ago.”

acknowledged the industry has changed since the band released its first
album in 1990, “GodWeenSatan: The Oneness.” Their last album, “La
Cucaracha,” was released in 2007.

“We haven’t changed much. I don’t think we’re doing
anything different than we were 19 years ago. I feel the same way about
it. But I never envisioned us being a live band. Way
back, I used to struggle with Ween on stage versus Ween on record. Now,
all this time later, people aren’t buying records any more. Your record
is kind of like this vehicle to tour behind. I think it’s really sad.”

He said making a complete record is a lost art and he doesn’t own an Ipod.

still take records as seriously now as we did then. But we’re fooling
ourselves in thinking it would matter to a group other than like-minded
people who want an album.”

He doesn’t care about respect from anyone other than the fans.

been around for freakin’ forever. We have a bunch of records and make a
living. I really don’t care. It doesn’t matter because I made a career
out of music and it’s a privledge. We’ve gotten plenty of respect. We
have our fans.”

The band also finds strength in itself. “I remember, when
we made our second record, thinking this it. I’ll never get the
inspiration … and then there’s the third, the fourth and another one.
And it’s like this disease that’s incurable. You eventually just have
to do it. If you love it, and we love being in a band, you just have to
do it.”


Where: Pomona Fox Theater, 301 S. Garey Ave., Pomona

When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday

Cost: $28