Bob Weir, Desert Trip, Eagles of Death Metal, The Cure, Make Beautiful Music in 2016
Eagles of Death Metal at The Teragram Ballroom
The band members in The Eagles of Death Metal have coped with a lot and keep going. The most recent excellent performance was a benefit for Dave Rosser, held at Teragram Ballroom. Frontman Jesse Hughes AKA Boots Electric, is one of the most compelling performers — or poseurs — today and holds the audience spellbound with his wild maneuvers, great voice and excellent guitar work. We got an extra bonus on this night: Josh Homme debuted a new song.
Reluctant Apostles at Molly Malone’s
The Reluctant Apostles have come a long way in a short time. The Katey Sagal and Bob Thiele-fronted band like to play at Molly Malone’s and was formed based on their teamwork during Sons of Anarchy. The Reluctant Apostles are an offshoot of The Forest Rangers, which came to prominence during the uber successful run of SOA. But new things on the horizon from this star-studded cover band: A new Pledgemusic album and more shows to come.
Dick Dale and Se7en Reasons Why at Whisky A Go-Go
Where would modern rock and roll be without remarkable performers Mick Scott and Se7en Reasons Why and the ultimate surf guitar master Dick Dale? Dale’s varied health issues seem to fade away when Dale is on stage, never far from the watchful eye of his wife, Lana. New Year’s eve at the Whisky A Go-Go has never been better. Dale comes from an era when you performed no matter what ails you. He led the way in the development of the California sound and he’s a true California Rocker.
The Cure at The Hollywood Bowl
On one of three sold out nights at The Hollywood Bowl, The Cure would cover over 37 years of Cure songs including the hits, rarities and two unreleased tracks. Reviewer Craig Hammons noted that the set list changed each night with The Cure digging deep into their catalog of impressive material. Robert Smith and the crew would cover 35 songs in just under 3 hours.
Nick Waterhouse at The Regent Theater
We can’t say enough good things about Nick Waterhouse and His Tarots. Every time we see Nick, the performance gets better if that’s possible, as was demonstrated at The Regent Theater a couple of weeks ago. A multi-faceted musician, who writes, performs, and produces others, Nick is a California Rocker on the rise. Openers Sad Girl and Cutty Flam impressed.
Desert Daze, the enduring fest where up-and-comers and veterans alike kick around in boots, bandanas and shorts still reigns supreme. An eclectic mix of newbies and veterans, the fest offers a chance to hear new music and gives veterans a chance to show their stuff. Television, Primus and Thee Oh Sees mingled with Brian Jonestown Massacre, L.A. Witch, and Thee Commons.
Bush at The Observatory
Gavin Rossdale is a high-energy performer, leaping into the audience and jumping on speakers. Bush performs all the favorites and this particular show at the Observatory was extremely interactive. After a few rounds of hugs and kisses among his fans, Rossdale jumps onto a speaker and finishes “Monkey” from high above.
Robert Plant at Theatre at the Ace
Robert Plant and his audience share a special bond and that was illustrated clearly at the Theatre at the Ace. Bringing flowers, love letters and gifts, Robert still has the gals on the edge of their seats. Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters put on a show that is Led Zeppelin inspired, but takes us to a new and earthy place.
Soul Asylum at The Whisky A Go-Go
Dave Pirner keeps going. Whirling around with his guitar and speaking honestly to the audience, with little regard for his sweaty appearance, Pirner is happy to be on stage. If nothing else Pirner and Soul Asylum are truthful in their performance and the crowd appreciates it. Soul Asylum’s tour started with The English Beat and wrapped solo.
The English Beat at The Canyon Club
The English Beat hits a home run every time. There is not one song from all their famous hits that goes unheard at an English Beat concert and the crowds are devoted. Dave Wakeling drives the band that has undergone some changes over the years, but the musicians on board are top talents. Fortunately, The English Beat plays a lot of dates and 2017 shows are all set.
Michael Franti and Spearhead
Michael Franti and Spearhead at the Pacific Amphitheatre spreads the message of love and compassion for all. The show was such a warm experience that reviewer Craig Hammons said he felt like he left the stadium with 7,000 new friends. The crowd interlocked arms, danced and sang songs of inclusion and love. What’s better than an uplifting performance?
FartBarf, David and The Curse at El Cid
Who would think with name like Fartbarf this band would be amazing? Something must have happened along the way for three guys in caveman masks to call themselves something so silly but play so good. The electronic music we heard at El Cid blew us out of our shoes. This is a talented group that does the creators of the Moog proud. Opener David and The Curse shows how it’s done as this young veteran gives us a new sound that blends Americana with pure rock.
The Suffers at The Echo
The Suffers bring you to your knees, they’re that good. Whether you call it, “Gulf Coast Soul” or good ol’ rock and roll, Kam Franklin and the band bring a blues-influenced power sound to the masses. We caught The Suffers at the Echo, one of our favorite venues, and the place was busting at the seams trying to contain the adoring fans.
Sad Lovers and Giants at The Echoplex
Sad Lovers and Giants put on a show for a lifetime at our well-loved venue the Echoplex, bringing 80s new wave to a young, enthusiastic crowd. It’s sad for fans that this beloved British band may not return to the U.S. any time soon, but we are thrilled to have caught Garçe Allard, Tony McGuinness, Nigel Pollard, Ian Gibson and Will Hicks at least once.
Reviewer Bob Busby called Desert Trip one of the best experiences of his life. That comes from someone who has been to thousands of shows and festivals. Aside from Roger Waters’ rantings, the moon appearing during Neil Young’s performance of “Harvest Moon,” was a highlight. And how can you do much better than Sir Paul McCartney sharing the stage with the pop princess Rihanna? Stay tuned for next year.
The Dirty Knobs at The Echoplex
Mike Campbell and The Dirty Knobs put on a fun, upbeat show, complete with cover songs you haven’t heard in a while. Jason Sinay and Campbell play off each other as “Gator” and “Ape” in a band where nicknames are abundant as dolphins in Florida. The Dirty Knobs is a band to check out when they play their few gigs every year. They haven’t recorded anything so go live or go home.
Bob Weir at The Wiltern
The well-worn co-founder of The Grateful Dead only gets better as the years go on. He introduced a new album and played to a crowd at The Wiltern that was comprised of not only Grateful Dead veterans but young, rainbow-clad and dread-sporting fans. Bob still has the verve and enthusiasm and the sounds ring true.
At The Drive-In at Hollywood Palladium
It’s a rare treat to get to see At The Drive-In, but frontman Cedric Bixler-Zavala is one of the most entertaining performers in the business. It’s clear from his leaping at The Hollywood Palladium last summer that he’s got a background in skateboarding and he’s a no-holds-barred, balls-to-the-wall musician, saving nothing for himself and giving the crowd his all. See our award winning-shot of Cedric Bixler Zavala.
Le Butcherettes at Hollywood Palladium
Teri Gender Bender is the most physical female performer out there and her shows at The Regent Theater, The Echoplex and opening set for At The Drive-In prove it. There are few who can compare to this precious young rock and roll veteran whose demeanor after the show is remarkably calm compared to her rebellious and taunting onstage persona. Despite personnel changes over the years, one thing remains a constant: Teri’s talent.
GRAMMY Foundation Honors BB King at Wallis Annenberg
BB King may be gone, but The GRAMMY Foundation hosted a bevy of blues slinging rock stars to honor him at The Annenberg: Slash, Tedeschi Trucks, Joe Bonamassa and a heavenly host of blues performers sang and played the blues in BB’s honor.
Wayne Kramer’s Jail Guitar Doors at The Ford Theatres
Wayne Kramer, Don Was and pals put on an amazingly entertaining show at The Ford Theatres to raise money for their charity that serves those behind bars. The show featured Marshall Crenshaw and a slew of talent to help Wayne raise money for the charity that is close to his heart.
Cruefest 2016 at Whiskey A Go-Go
Cruefest Hollywood 2016 brings the kindest hearted metal performers to the Whisky A Go-Go stage each year. It was a Who’s Who of metal with Heartbreak Heroes from Oklahoma and Los Angeles; Snake Bite Whisky from Brisbane, Australia; Bad Boy Eddy from Northern California; Stonebreed; Wreking Crue from Detroit, and Mick Scott and Se7en Reasons Why; Blacklist Union, Lunden Reign, Westfield Massacre, and L.A. Story; all of whom are from Los Angeles.
Brian Wilson at The Hollywood Bowl
Brian Wilson never disappoints and his performance at reviewer Craig Hammons said his performance at the Hollywood Bowl was one of his best. Celebrating the 50th anniversary of Pet Sounds, considered a unique collection at the time of its release, Wilson held the Hollywood Bowl audience enraptured.
Iggy Pop at The Greek Theatre
At a time when most people are slowing down, Iggy Pop is going strong, having his best year yet. The “world’s forgotten boy” has a GRAMMY nomination for Post Pop Depression, there’s a Jim Jarmusch movie out about him, and also a new book released about his life. He’s a 69-year-old anomaly in the world of rock, proudly resplendent in his hard-earned success. Via his partnerships with the young and hip, Iggy continually adds new admirers to his list of longtime fans. It doesn’t hurt to have the “Ginger Elvis,” Josh Homme and the rest of the crew on stage with you.
Burning Spear at The Hollywood Bowl
Reviewer Craig Hammons says Burning Spear is one of the best shows of the year simply because Burning Spear is a solid reggae performer. The legendary musician among a sea of young upstarts bid adieu to his fans as “I Man” takes a step down from the stage. Over the many years, with grace and dignity Burning Spear has brought new fans to the reggae flock.
Jackson Browne at Lucky Strike Live
It was a pleasant shock to find Jackson Browne appearing at Lucky Strike, which hosts mostly metal-style rockers every Wednesday night during its weekly Lucky Strike Live events. Browne is a good-hearted type who shows up for a good cause and for the fun of the performance. At Lucky Strike Live, he gave the regulars — plus about 600 others — a thrill, jamming with some regular players and he had fun to spare.
Glam Skanks at MIME
Where are the young women in rock and roll? Answer: The Glam Skanks are right in Los Angeles and they put on a terrific show each and every time. Climbing on speakers, throwing glitter, taunting the audience. Their show at MIME in Echo Park put on by Echo Box heated up the room and had fans screaming for more. There’s a new album and they’re going on tour with Adam Ant. Stay tuned!
Smash Mouth at The Canyon Club
Say what you will about the in-your-face frontman, but Smash Mouth has made it in a tough rock and roll world. When Paul DeLisle teamed with Steve Harwell, as odd a combination as that may have appeared it worked. With a little help from a hit animated movie, Smash Mouth reinvigorated “I’m a Believer” from The Monkees and a whole new generation was jumping at The Canyon Club. Openers Paper and Strange Case lit a fire.
Editor’s Note: The “Best Concerts of the Year” coverage only includes the performances CaliforniaRocker.com staff attended during 2016.