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Steven’s Eventful January/February

IN THE February 29 ISSUE

FROM THE 2020 Articles,
andMusic,
andSteven Sanchez
SECTIONS

by Steven Sanchez

It’s 2020, not only a new year, but a new decade. Last year was a phenomenal 12-month timeline for events in the Central Valley. It definitely did serve as a worthy exclamation point to what was a good decade of entertainment options. The 2010s did set the bar, but I hope that the 20s will take it to another level. This past January and February was a very good warmup as the year is taking shape, and it’ll continue on as more acts will be announced on who’ll be trekking to the area to provide music, laughs, and good times. Here are some of the acts that came out of the starting gate to set the benchmark for the rest of the year.

Haunt
Heavy metal thunder and lightning came crashing at the album release party for local Fresno thrash metal band Haunt at Strummer’s on January 3. They were awesome! 2019 was a great year for the Fresno quartet. The lead singer, Trevor William Church, was featured in Rolling Stone Magazine, along with countless other publications, and the band graced the cover of Decibel Magazine. What a way to ring in the new year with a new album, setting the tone with a great gig! This year is getting up to be a big one for these metal heads. They played their familiars, and we were the first to hear their new originals. Trevor proclaimed that his goal is to help put the Fresno music scene on the map. After the band’s hardcore, head banging, mosh pit ensuing, guitar soloing, thunderously loud show, I’d say I’m convinced. Be sure to check out their new album, “Mind Freeze.”

Haunt

Tool
At last, the progressive metal giants, Tool, blessed us with their musical eulogy at the Save Mart Center on January 15. After a thirteen-year hiatus from making new music, they’re back stronger, and from the thousands of metal fans that turned out, it shows that they never left our hearts. A spectacle beyond words, even with the band playing most of the time behind a see-through curtain didn’t prevent the audience’s connection with Maynard James Keenan’s singing and thought provoking lyrics.

Tool

Their extended song run times and creepy style videos may not be for the faint of heart music listeners who don’t understand Tool, but for those there, it was magic for the eyes. The decrepit David Fincher-esque visuals with stop-motion galore as if Henry Selick was on an acid trip displayed on the projector; the industrial groove lines that are the band’s signature sound; the stellar light show choreography configuring different patters around the arena, putting the crowd into the spotlight…everything that encompassed those few hours was well worth the wait.

This band has sentimental value to me as their music was the soundtrack to my junior high years. “Schism” was an instant classic then due to its opening bass line, and still remains so. “Forty-Six and Two” is always a popular one since it’s been used in movie trailers, most noticeably in the first Captain America film. Once they played these songs I lost my mind. If you want to see a drum solo that’ll blow your mind, feast your eyes on Danny Carey. I’ve seen plenty of those, and I rank his high up there.

Be on the lookout for their album Fear Inoculum that was released last year. It’s the album that knocked Taylor Swift from the top spot of the charts that had her fans in a frenzy complaining who Tool was. After that performance, they’ve proven why they still remain amongst the sharpest ones in the shed of metal bands out there.

Cursive
Cursive came to Strummer’s on January 28. This may have been loud rock music, but most people associate the genre with dark and depressing moods. Not this band, it was fun all the way through. The band has been around since the 90s, and it’s great to see a group from that era keeping that time alive from the alternative world. Their lineup is an unconventional one since you don’t see many rock acts that comprise six people, and that’s with a cellist. Their rhythms and grooves don’t sound like anything of today, and I like it like that. Before cursive writing was recommended in school, so if you’re looking to listen to some unique music, I say that Cursive is recommended listening.

Cursive

Hunny
Kings River Life had the privilege of attending the Hunny show on January 31 at Strummer’s. Holy smokes, what a sweaty, shoulder-to-shoulder show it was! A sold-out concert where there was a line down the block who were ready to have their appetites filled by their sweet sensation of music.

The California quartet is described on their website as “Endless back-and-forth between heavy-hearted lyrics and bright-and-shiny melodies, lovesick confessions, and addictively dancey rhythms.” Going by how the youthful crowd reacted to their music, I would have to second that motion. There was dancing, jumping around, and the rowdiest mosh pits I’ve seen, but the most fun and less dangerous one I think in history.

Hunny

It was most gratifying to seeing a crowd that had all races and genders and personalities in one collective setting to prove that music can unite as all, and with their sound, it can do just that. A combination of rock, pop, and indie, they do harken back to the new wave grooves that rocked the glory days of MTV in the 80s. They can definitely fit into the mold that made bands like REM, Talking Heads, Depeche Mode, The Cure, The Clash, and others like that great. The popular character Winnie The Pooh was obsessed with honey, and just give it a matter of time, as their star continues to rise, it’ll soon be a sweet tooth that the mainstream will be obsessed with.

Logan Mize and Willie Jones
American pride and fun was provided at the Willie Jones and Logan Mize concert at Strummer’s on February 6. If you’re into good ol’ American country, their show was the place to be. Love for family, good times, partying, all the qualities that make for a red, white, and blue life is what their music was all about. It could serve as the perfect soundtrack to a Clovis citizen existence; I would know because I am one.

Willie got everything started. His unique sound is a blend of both hip hop and country. He’s coming at a time where people like Lil Nas X are changing the country game by infusing rap into the centerfold. Even country bands like Florida Georgia Line are inspired by those beats and translating it into their music to make something unique from a genre that’s considered traditional. His music had the familiar flow of that heartland sound but was mixing in his wordy rhymes with a little bit of twang into it. This Southern star is making a name for himself in the most unconventional way possible, and his African American ethnicity shouldn’t cloud your view in the slightest of the fact that his music is as American as it gets, and if this is the new direction that country is going, Willie Jones will be the one leading it into its prosperous but changing future in this new decade.

Willie Jones

Then came Logan. His performance had America written all over it. This small town midwest kid who shares the same home state as Clark Kent/Superman, and played his music in what the Man of Steel would refer to as “the American way.” Country music runs in his veins as his uncle was a pioneer in helping establishing the Bakersfield western sound. Since the setting was intimate, he didn’t mind delving into stories about his music and life which gave the show a more personal feel. His songs were all about family, nostalgia, home, subjects that we as people, no matter what race, age, or genre, could relate to. Some of them made you want to dance, shed a tear, or just sway side-to-side with your loved one. Logan has said that he dreamt of being like John Mellencamp, and by the emotion of his songs, and the passion he puts into his music, he has the potential to be.

Logan Mize

Willie and Logan, who are also friends, are both destined to be big name country stars, and with both of them being featured in Rolling Stone Magazine, it does help out their credibility. Most importantly their contribution to the genre shows that country can be more mainstream than before with this combination.

Pitbull
A Florida heat wave blistered into Fresno as world-renowned artist, Pitbull, came to the Save Mart Center on February 7. The Miami-based rapper can do it all: music mogul, businessman, entrepreneur, brand ambassador, actor, philanthropist, and entertaining the Central Valley crowd was one other accomplishment he can add to his already stellar resume. The Latin flavor and Hispanic pride was evident at his show. It had dancing and sensuality. I’ve heard this man’s music beginning in high school with memories of his songs blasting through the speakers at the dances and to witness his career throughout the years of what he’s contributed to the Hispanic community means a great deal. Then to see him live and in person was a tremendous experience who is seen as an idol that encourages people who look like me to dream, and for that it was an honor to be in his presence.

Pitbull

The Melvins
The Melvins made their way to Fresno on February 10 at Strummer’s. They made an everlasting impression last year when they came, but this second time around is the one that’ll be remembered the most. Legends in their own right, this group was instrumental in spearheading the grunge movement that became so popular in the 90s, inspiring bands like Nirvana and Soundgarden to help put Seattle on the map as a music mecca. Along with their performance and the setting at the Fresno venue, it harkens back to the days where no matter if it was a weeknight or weekend, if the band was on the bill that night people will cramp into a small space and rock out. Last night epitomized that and The Melvins have been doing it since the 80s. Fans of that old-school sound came out to mosh with no indication that it was a Monday night. Their experimentation, don’t give an f— attitude, and willingness to do things their way was evident in their performance and it just adds to their legend.

The Melvins

Crobot
Crobot steam rolled into town on February 11 at Strummer’s and provided us with a good dose of what they, the band, refers to as “Dirty. Groove. Rock.” My ears are still ringing from all that joyous raucous. It was rockin’, groovy, and all kinds of awesome. Imagine that classic 80s metal sound but with the banshee vocals of 70s frontmen; if a mad scientist was trying to create a robot that comprised the best qualities to make a rock band in a lab…it would be Crobot. With their sound and their charismatic vocalist with his long hair, beard, dancing around in his glittery, shining jacket, this band belongs in a different time but thank the rock gods they’re here today to keep that legacy alive so people today know just how great that era was. The band is known for the singles “Keep Me Down” and “Low Life.” If they keep this momentum going, nothing will keep them down, and they’ll be living the high life for years to come.

Crobot

REO Speedwagon
Classic rock legends, REO Speedwagon, motored their way into The Historic Bakersfield Fox Theater on February 12. The 70s and 80s were alive and well with their rockin’, nostalgic performance. The Illinois hit makers have been rolling with the changes in the rock arena since 1967 and has sold more than forty million records and charted thirteen Top 40 hits. Known for singles like “Keep On Loving You,” “Take It On The Run,” “Don’t Let Him Go,” “In Your Letter,” and “Can’t Fight This Feeling,” well, the audience couldn’t fight their feelings of showing their appreciation for this group and have been for decades. Lead singer Kevin Cronin, ever so charismatic, was up on that stage and was still as energetic as he’s ever been and saying nothing but nice things to the Kern County audience. All the classic hits and new ones were on the playlist. It was my first time seeing them, and the enthusiastic feedback the crowd gave them felt reminiscent of how much they were loved during their heyday. They were at Table Mountain Casino the day before this past show, so they know what the Central Valley knows…which is they have and they will keep on loving them.

REO Speedwagon

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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