Operation Domination – live at The Studio At Webster Hall August 31st, 2016

Funny isn’t it?  Just one night after I published a scathing piece on why I basically would like to see New York City burn to the ground…I’m back in New York City.  But at least it was for something awesome; I was there to see Angel Vivaldi and Firewind/Ozzy Osbourne guitarist Gus G on their Operation Domination Tour at The Studio At Webster Hall.  Angel is on the heels of re-releasing his 2010, EP The Speed Of Dark, with it’s tracks being completely re-recorded with his current band, and Gus recently released his latest solo album, I Am The Fire, a more straight forward album compared to what he does with Firewind.  Also, I guess he needs to keep himself busy until Ozzy comes calling to do his next excuse of an album.  Hey, just maybe Ozzy will actually let Gus write material for it this time.  That’s a maybe.  If you follow me on facebook then you already know how I feel about Ozzy’s plans to record after Black Sabbath’s last show.  But if you don’t…I’d rather Ozzy just call it a day, he hasn’t made anything meaningful in decades and the ONLY reason I even bought Black Rain in 2007 was because Zakk Wylde wrote eight of the album’s ten tracks.  So Ozzy…if you ever see this…you were great when I saw you with Sabbath at the Garden.  Do yourself a big favor and just go on a high note like Tony Iommi is doing.

Webster Hall is right around the corner from the 111 year old art store that’s being forced to close so the Marriot can make it into a hotel aimed at millennials.  So yeah I did go check it out before I went inside.  Someone was talking to the owner, who clearly looked distressed.  Then again his family ran the place for three generations.

There are two rooms in Webster Hall: The Marlin Room, which is the main room for popular acts, stupid raves and 80’s prom bullshit and, once upon a time, WWF Shotgun Saturday Night.  Let’s see who remembers that one!  And then there’s The Studio, which is essentially a small bar with a good size stage.  Gus and Angel were to play The Studio…I guess the guys running Webster Hall decided that some shitty rave was more important that a fucking YouTube sensation and Ozzy’s guitarist, right?

Angel went on stage and just blew everybody the fuck away.IMG_20160831_203439988

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Showoff!

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Alex fuckin’ Bent!

I actually met Alex when he was opening up for Crowbar with Battlecross last year at Saint Vitus In Brooklyn.  Really cool kid…incredible drummer.  On this tour he’s actually doing double duty, playing with both Angel and Gus.  Here’s a picture I took of us outside Saint Vitus last year.

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I wanted to talk to him and praise the hell out of him but before the show ended I found myself bailing out early because my knees were in excruciating pain – having flat feet is a real bitch.

Angel’s Setlist

An Angel’s Poem On A Grave

An Erisian Autumn

._ _ _ _

A Mercurian Summer

. . . . _

Acid Reign

Guitar Solo

Sea Of Heartbreak

Crystal Planet (Joe Satriani Cover)

A Martian Winter

Gus G?  Loud as fuck!  So loud that a few songs into his set I had no choice but to go to the back, where my girlfriend was…because she already knew better.  Oh yeah, the guy’s an incredible player, real easy to see why he got the gig with Ozzy.  His whole band – which included Alex and Jake, Angel’s bassist, sounded fan-fucking-tastic.  But I had one complaint:

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Dude…you don’t have to play “Crazy Train” just because you’re in Ozzy’s band bro.  Hell, most people there for you were actually Firewind fans.

In fact the band did play two Firewind songs d I have to say I was kind of impressed.  I hate Power Metal with a passion but Gus’s playing was so muscular – very similar to Zakk – that it gave the songs some BALLS.

As I said before…I left after the “Crazy Train” cover because my knee were in pain.  But I know for a fact that I missed Angel join Gus on stage for what was probably a really sick jam out.

Gus’s Setlist

Burn

Brand New Revolution

Vengeance (instrumental)

Eyes Wide Open

Come Hell Or High Water

World On Fire (Firewind)

The Quest

Terrified

Redemption

I Am The Fire

Crazy Train (Ozzy)

Fire And The Fury (Firewind)

G.O.T

 

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R.I.P. New York City…or Why I’m Glad I Got Out!

This is actually going to be full article based on a random thought I wrote about just last year, regarding the decline of New York City’s diversity and character because let’s face it…it’s just gotten worse and will continue to do so.

So it all started just two nights ago, when I came across this article:

http://ny.curbed.com/2016/8/12/12452636/target-east-village-opening-date

Wait…what the fuck?  A new, two floor Target in the East Village?  With a 30-year lease on the building?!  First off, I’m a bit biased here because I used to work at Target but…ew!  Also…why?  Why Target and why in the East Fucking Village??  Then, I reminded myself of exactly why: money talk$.

I wrote a year ago that many of the places I used to know were going away at a pretty steady pace, especially at my old haunts, specifically St. Mark’s Place, which I had said was at least hanging on a thread so long as Sounds was still around, even if it was open just three days a week by that point, if anything for the sake of posture.  Whoops!  Not too long after I wrote that piece Sounds finally did close down for good, signaling THE end of the more culturally diverse St. Mark’s Place I used to know once and for all.  Why?  Because who the fuck can afford these fucking rent hikes?  Oh wait…chain stores can!

Oh, I can go on and on about when I first noticed this change, and how it changed the entire landscape of Manhattan alone – don’t even get me started with Brooklyn!  But instead I’m going to rant about who we can all blame for this and if you live or used to live anywhere in New York City (like me) you already know why: yuppies and especially hipsters.  The hipsters started fucking everything up when they came to Williamsburg, Brooklyn from whatever bumfuck towns/states they grew up in during the late 90’s/early 2000’s with their daddys’ checkbooks in search of somewhere cheap as hell.  In just a few years time a once extremely dangerous part of Brooklyn now had hipster themed bars and vintage record shops on almost every street corner.  And not only that, rent was now fucking sky high.  I was an intern for a music marketing firm in Manhattan in 2007 and a considerable portion of the hipster fuckheads I worked with lived in “Billyburg”.  The only way they could be living there was if their parents were paying the rent because I can tell you right now they sure as fuck weren’t making even remotely decent salaries at this particular firm.  I’d look for apartments in Brooklyn on craigslist and some of these prices were retarded.  $2000 for a studio off of Bedford Ave?  Really?  But if you want to know how I truly feel about hipsters just watch this amazing clip from The Gentlemen’s Rant.  Skip to the 1:50 mark for my favorite part!

This was just the beginning, of course.  Soon, the resulting trickle down effect happened: Manhattan followed suit.  The hipsters lived in Williamsburg in order to be as close to Manhattan as possible so before anyone knew it any area near the Williamsburg Bridge, especially the Lower East Side, started changing at that steady paced I mentioned before to cater to these motherfuckers.  The trickle down effect here?  Long standing Mom and Pop stores began to close shop to be replaced by some really strange fucking things.

This also spread, of course, throughout most of Manhattan, not just the Lower East Side.  Old buildings were being knocked down to make room for high rise condos that I know I sure can’t afford.  Here’s a quick story.  My dad’s been in real estate since 2005, having gotten his real estate license from NYU in 1988, and he was responsible for one of these buildings in the Lower East Side being knocked down in 2007.  He told me that while on site a girl came up to him asking him to please sign her petition to stop these developers from knocking the building down, obviously having no idea she was talking to the very person behind the whole thing.  Oops!

To some of you reading this I risk coming off as yelling at yuppies and hipsters to get off my lawn like a bitter old man.  You’d be wrong.  Yeah, I hate yuppies and REALLY hate hipsters.  But my big problem is that because of them, and more specifically about their lack of history, having not grown up in the city like I did, they appear to truly lack any appreciation for the charm New York City once had.  It was once such a diverse city.  I don’t just mean for the reputation of it’s many areas – not just the parts I mentioned – but because you could go into any street corner and find something completely random and enjoyable.  Hell, twelve years ago I could just turn to W 48th St in the tourist trap that is Times Square and I’d just happen to find the once infamous Music Row.  You’re reading correctly, there was once an entire block of just music instrument stores.  Several Sam Ash buildings, each one dedicated to specific instruments, Rudy’s, the world famous Manny’s Music, just to name a few.

Oh, here’s my favorite.  A 111 year old art supply store right around the corner from Webster Hall is being forced out of business because the building was sold to some jerkoff who plans to make the building into a hotel geared toward…millennials??  What the fuck does that require exactly that a piece of HISTORY is being forced to close down for this?  Someone please tell me.  What exactly makes millennials so fucking special?  Is it the computer thing??  Since the age range for millennials is between 1982 and 2002 I guess I’d be considered a millennial on paper, being that I was born in 1984.  But I’m no millennial because just about anyone born in the 80’s knew how to survive without cellphones and computers.  Ask the kids today when they last experienced a fleeting, random moment.  You’d probably hear crickets for a long time because that’s how often their heads are down at their smartphones they honestly have NO BUSINESS carrying around at twelve years old.

So here’s my main point to all of this.  Gentrification my ass!  If I wanted to go to an outdoor strip mall I’d go to probably any other city…or an outdoor strip mall.  I used to live in a city that had a very special charm to it, one that was different, one with so much diversity and excitement, one with character.  These were the things that made it The Greatest City In The World, because it’s not that anymore, not when I see Subway restaurants on nearly every street corner and increasingly more homeless people on the streets because they were evicted for their inability to pay their rents.  If you’re reading this and are as disgusted with what’s become of it all like I was, do yourself a favor and get out while you still can…like I did, because it’s no longer just the East Village that’s dead – all of New York City is!

There are times now where I drive on Route 3 E and if I catch it around sunset I get a gorgeous view of the city from afar.  But every time come across this brilliant view I sadly can’t help but always think to myself the same thing over and over again: “New York City…beautiful to look at…ugly to live in…”

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Show’s I’ll Be Attending This Summer

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Anaka live at Black Bear Bar, Brooklyn, NY, July 16th, 2016

On the heels of celebrating more than 15 years together Brooklyn’s own Anaka will be playing Black Bear Bar in Brooklyn this coming Saturday.  Also on the bill are Proxima Control, The Last Alliance, and The Crimson Collective.  And I’ll be posting a few videos of the show on my YouTube page.

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One Foot In The Grave Tour f/ Carcass, Ghoul, Crowbar, and Night Demon live at Gramercy Theater, New York, NY, August 4th, 2016

I’m a little disturbed by the title of this tour just because I’m not really sure if this means Carcass are breaking up again or not.  If so, it was awesome of them to release one more album, Surgical Steel, back in 2013.  That was probably the album of the year for me.  If not then that’s fine too!  I just entered Metal Injection’s contest to win free tickets to the Gramercy show, and I’ll find out in two days if I won.  I’m afraid I don’t know much about Ghoul or Night Demon…yet, but I’m definitely filming Carcass and Crowbar for sure.  Haven’t seen Crowbar since that night last June where I nearly died about three times because that so-called moshpit turned into a barwide fist fight!  So it’ll be interesting to see what happens this time, especially since hearing that ex-bassist Todd Strange came back to the band after sixteen years away.

2016 Announcement

This Is Hardcore Fest Day 2 f/Nails, Iron Reagan and Ringworm live at The Electric Factory, Philadelphia, PA, August 5, 2016

Let’s face it, I’m not really a hardcore fan and the only reason I want to go to this is to see the three bands mentioned above.  Of course there are a shitload of other bands on the bill but those are three I give a shit about the most.  I’ve heard Electric Sleep and they can blow me.  The others I haven’t heard.  When I imagine how Nails’ set is going to unfold I pretty much see a moshpit so brutal it outdoes the barwide fistfight I went through last June when I saw Crowbar in Brooklyn.  They are brutal as fuck, and their disgusting new album is getting a LOT of buzz, more so than even the band itself probably expected.

I’m also looking very much forward to Iron Reagan because their lead singer is Tony from Municipal Waste.  Waste actually knew me personally for the better part of a year between 2006 and 2007 but that’s a story for another time.  Here’s one of my favorite songs from Iron Reagan!

I last saw Ringworm opening up for Goatwhore in Broooklyn just a week after nearly dying at the Crowbar gig.  I actually filmed them twice because when I tried to film them some jackass in the pit threw another guy elbow first right into my ribs.  That hurt so bad.  After my better second attempt at filming them I was pushed against the wall twice tailbone first.  Here’s that second video now!

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Operation Domination Tour with Angel Vivaldi and Gus G live at Webster Hall, New York, NY, August 31st, 2016

I was just told about this by my girlfriend a few days ago and it was immediately decided that we are going.  The YouTube sensation is obviously showing no signs of slowing down at all and here’s the proof.  It’s not everyday an internet darling gets to play with Ozzy’s current guitarist!

This is going to fucking rule!

As I said before I’ll be filming all the shows I go to and you’ll be able to find them on my YouTube page.  If you’re reading this and plan on being at any of these shows l free to contact me, maybe we can hang.  I’m also on Facebook.  Click here to like my page and get quicker notifications on new blog posts.

High On Fire – Luminiferous

“High On Fire are gods to a generation of bikers, barbarians and beardos, and luminiferous is one of their finest hours.”

That’s what I saw when I bought High On Fire’s latest album, Luminiferous this past Friday, and for once I might actually agree with Rolling Stone on this one.  Just one question: what the fuck is a “beardo”?  Is it meant just to describe someone with a big beard?  If so then I understand because I saw a few on those when I saw High On Fire at Webster hall back in October 2007.  But if it’s meant to say dudes with beards are weird then fuck them because as far as I’m concerned Rolling Stone’s core audience are a bunch of dirt bags who probably don’t even shower.  It’s bad enough Rolling Stone as a whole appears to forever be stuck in the 1970s!

I wonder if Matt Pike was looking for irony when he named the band’s new CD Luminiferous because there sure as fuck ins’t that much light being carried through here.  I’ll never forget when I first heard the band back in 2004 and decided that this was what Master of Reality-era Black Sabbath would’ve sounded like had Lemmy joined them and sped up the tempos greatly.  On Luminiferous it’s probably even MORE intense as it ever was and that especially goes for Blessed Black Wings!

I put this in my car and my ass was immediately kicked by “The Black Plot”.  The whole band immediately came in with a great mid tempo chug that quickly turns in to some of the greatest sludge thrash I’ve ever heard from them.  Matt Pike as far as I’m concerned is the king of fast paced sludge; his guitar sound is so strong, so heavy, yet you can still hear everything he’s doing.  Des Kensel does a fantastic job of keeping up with the riffs.  His double bass work and his fills highlight the guitar and bass parts without overshadowing them, which is so important when you’re in a band.

There are some tracks like “The Falconist” where the band show their ability to write solid mid paced songs that may not be as frenzied as what they’re known for but are still heavy as FUCK.  I recommend that track alone.  I also recommend “The Cave”.  Jeff Matz – who I once saw opening up for Motorhead with his old band Zeke, ironically enough – opens up the song with this bassline that offers a brief sense of calm before the rest of the band kicks in and fucks everything up.  Since this song alone is nearly eight minutes long I have to say now that I appreciate the fact that the guys are able to keep shit from getting absolutely boring, finding the right spots to changes things up.

Another thing I appreciate is that the band’s recording process hasn’t changed that much.  Sure, things sound clearer but matt Pike still appears to be recording his solos live without any backing tracks, which provides so much of a live feel.  I’m pretty sure the last time I remembered a band doing that was Pantera starting with Vulgar Display of Power.  It actually makes the album sound even heavier in a way.  I just found out that High On Fire will be playing The Williamsburg Music Hall in Brooklyn, NY on August 18th.  I’m sure I’ll be going!