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July Concerts and Shows Review

IN THE August 3 ISSUE

FROM THE 2019 Articles,
andMusic,
andSteven Sanchez
SECTIONS

by Steven Sanchez

When Americans celebrate the Fourth of July, we anticipate food, drinks, American flags decorated on everything, but most importantly…fireworks. One after the other, just a symphony of exploding lights, seeing what the next one is going to look like, what color will it be, and will it be bigger than the last one? Fireworks are very similar to what live entertainment is like here in the Central Valley, who’s coming into town this time, how will this show be?

The month of July just continues and builds upon the foundation that June had set for concerts and comedy shows. Some brought the funny; some brought the rock, and everything in between. As the heat has continued to rise, so has the assortment of options of shows on which to attend. Here’s my in-depth report of the events that took place as we segue into another exciting month to look forward to in August.

Jamie Kennedy

The multi-faceted comedian/actor/TV show host, Jamie Kennedy, came to the Tower Theatre Lounge on July 13, in front of an intimate crowd to perform a stand-up set as practice for a comedy special that is in the works. He is most recognizable for portraying the nerdy horror aficionado, Randy Meeks, in Scream and Scream 2; the wannabe white boy rapper B-Rad in Malibu’s Most Wanted; and the host of The Jamie Kennedy Experiment which was probably one of the first hidden camera/practical joke reality TV shows.

Jamie Kennedy

In everything he’s done, he’s always brought hilarity to it, and that night was no different. An entertainer who’s been onstage, and on the small and big screen, he sure did share a roster of gut-busting content inspired by his work and real life. The trials of dating in Hollywood in the digital age while still being a famous person; comparing and contrasting performing in America and how it is in Saudi Arabia; the lengths he will go to to star in a movie with Matthew McConaughey and Bradley Cooper; and the mixed messages presented in women’s clothing.

Jamie Kennedy

The night was filled with smiles before Jamie went on stage due in part to the openers that warmed the crowd up. Standouts like Rene Vaca had the crowd rolling with his tribulations that one goes through trying to look thin while attempting to make a sex tape and facing the ridicule of a Mexican mother. There was a time during my upbringing in the late ‘90s and early 2000s where Jamie was in just about everything on television or in the theater, so to see somebody who was one of the top comedic entertainers of my generation was exciting.

Robert DeLong and Gothic Tropic

For most people here in the Valley, if you wanted to enjoy the colorful spectacle of rave music you would have to go to Las Vegas for EDC (Electronic Daisy Carnival) or to any festival with the words electric or wonderland featured in the name. This time around, Strummer’s was the destination as the multi-instrumentalist, Robert DeLong, fell down the rabbit hole and landed in the downtown venue on July 15 and brought with him machines, television screens, and laser lights that would make the filmmaker Harmony Korine proud.

Robert DeLong

I personally had never been interested in that kind of music. Electronic, house, dubstep, and rave music were never my scene, but with Robert, he easily converted me by the power of his performance. Yes, he did use a machine to play music, but he just didn’t hide behind a turntable with headphones on and fist-bumps through his whole set. He plays the keyboards, drums, and sings, and he performed like a rockin’ frontman, moving about, jumping around, and screaming like he was Mick Jagger or something. His music may have been electronic but his persona was purely rock ‘n’ roll.

Anyone who can turn a Nintendo 64 controller into an instrument automatically deserves my respect. Noises were coming out of the buttons he was pressing. Even a joint stick was making sounds. The most mesmerizing parts of the show were when the laser lights would be displayed and sounds would blare for each colored light that he would tap. Wow! I had never seen anything like that before. One moment, he’d be playing the keyboards, the next he would be doing a drum solo, I mean this guy can do it all.

Even the opening act, Cecilia Della Peruti aka Gothic Tropic, played like a headliner. The rising starlet who sings and plays guitar, has earned her chops by playing as a multi-instrumentalist touring player for Beck, was a supporting act for Kate Nash on her recent UK tour, and was featured in Fender’s American Professional Series campaign. This girl could be this generation’s female Jimi Hendrix if she wanted to be. You don’t see too many young female artists who can wail on the guitar all the while singing and writing her own songs, she’s a musician that music needs right now. She even joined in on Robert’s set on a couple of songs to sing and play guitar. These are the new faces of music, and no matter what instrument they decide to play, people will hear them.

Gothic Tropic

Twiztid

Forgive me for using the band’s name as a pun to fittingly describe their show, but when the rap group, Twiztid, came to Strummer’s on July 16, their concert was very “twisted.”

Their getup was theatrical and cinematic so if I were a film critic the words I would use to distinguish their show would be scary, terrifying, but most of all…fun. The pioneers of horrorcore and rap rock, composed of Jamie Spaniolo aka Jamie Madrox, and Paul Methric aka Monoxide, were decked out in black and white face paint and hypnotizing contact lenses. These two roamed about the stage with their sadistic smiles as if they were horror movie boogeymen. If horror film maestro Wes Craven decided to make a scary movie but directed the camera at the stage, the result you would get in the frame would be this production.

Twiztid

I didn’t know what to expect at first, can a rap duo really lay it down with lyrics referencing horror movies to a rock sound? The answer is yes. Now I must say even though they do speak about dark themes–some maybe being too realistic for comfort–in the end, they find a way to make it sound entertaining. You don’t get caught up in the material but more so in the delivery and presentation. That’s the appeal of the group, they have a terrifying appearance and flow on some very deranged subjects, but after each song the audience was smiling, kind of like the way you are after watching a scary movie.

Jamie Spaniolo aka Jamie Madrox

Definitely one of the most memorable moments of the night was when horror icons Michael Myers (from the Halloween franchise) and Jason (from the Friday the 13th franchise) showed and stood to the left and right of the stage. Not moving but just standing there as their intimidating presence helped add to the spectacle. You mostly see all those dramatics in a rock show, but Twiztid really pulled it off, so for me I give their performance two thumbs up.

Paul Methric aka Monoxide

Hinder

Screwed, blued, and tattooed, these are fitting descriptions that embody the reputation of the rock band, Hinder. They “fastlaned” their way to Strummer’s on July 23 for their Lucky 7 tour. This band was one of the most popular alternative acts when I was in high school so it was nostalgic for me to watch a band live that I recall jamming to in my room. They broke big with the ballad “Lips of An Angel” in 2006, which became the breakup anthem of my generation. They may have started out with sweetness and sincerity, but as time has gone on, they have been anything but that.

Hinder

This band epitomizes what rock music is all about, sex, drinking whiskey, partying, turning heartbreak into a song, that’s what they are, and they don’t deny it, they own it. When you have albums called “Take It To The Limit,” “All American Nightmare,” “Welcome to the Freakshow”; songs called “Get Stoned,” “Loaded and Alone,” “Ladies Come First,” “Should’ve Known Better,” “Freakshow,” “Intoxicated,”; these aren’t just titles for them, they’re battling chants and creeds for them.

Marshal Dutton, lead singer

Let’s check off the list, shall we? Loud guitars…yes, wailing vocals…yes, head banging…yes, the crowd consumed by liquids…yes, a few tears…yes. Sounds like a rock concert to me. You know it’s a party when the lead singer is having such a good time that he wants to sing with the crowd and that’s exactly what he did. He even took some selfies with some lucky fans. Their newly released single is called “Halo.” The definition of a halo is a bright circle of light hovering above the head of a saint or holy person. Going by the names of their songs it’s safe to say they’re the furthest thing away from that, but on that night, the light did shine brightly on them.

Steven Sanchez is a film graduate of UNLV. He’s a filmmaker, writer, photographer, and music manager. Obsessed with movies, comic books, and rock ‘n’ roll. A football fanatic, big fan of the Oakland Raiders. Enjoys reading and collecting vinyl records. If there’s a rock show in town more than likely he’ll be there. Loves his grandma’s home cooked meals. He has a twin sister and most people call him the pretty one. You can learn more about Steven on his YouTube channel and on Instagram @stevensanchez5807 photos and videos.

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