by Steven Sanchez
While everybody was trick or treating for candy, my treat this past month, and heading into November, was attending shows. I didn’t even have to knock on doors in the Fall for entertainment. I was more like a kid in a candy store; I was like “I’ll go to this event or that one.” The holiday festivities are on the horizon, but the music and comedy festivities are well underway, and there’s more to look forward to as we get closer to the end of the year. Here’s a little taste of the shows I attended and what took place.
Charly Bliss performed at Strummer’s on October 2, and “WOW!” is all I have to say. This Indie rock band harkens back to the glory sounds and imagery of 90s greatness. Their singer, Eva Hendricks, was dressed as a glamorous version of Courtney Love, with vocals mixed with Veruca Salt and Bjork. She would’ve fit in with the pantheon of the female rock heroes of that decade. Strutting and prancing around the stage in a white flowing dress and sparkly makeup around her eyes, she would be the perfect poster-child for the Coachella crowd. Charly Bliss provided pop sensibilities and loud guitars in the fashion of Weezer, which makes sense since they were inspired by them. This band has been gaining a lot of traction by being featured in Rolling Stone several times this year, and their recent album “Young Enough” encapsulates just how eclectic they are. I highly recommend this band if you’re looking for something different and unique.
Dragonforce rocketed through their show for an energetic crowd at Strummer’s on October 4. Their name speaks for itself; this band is a force to be reckoned with. They’re not just metal, they are power metal and speed metal. You ain’t gonna find a ballad with this band—it’s just fast all around. Dragonforce came to my attention when they had the toughest songs to beat at the expert level of the video game Guitar Hero. When it comes to vocals in the tradition of Rob Halford of Judas Priest, or Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden, this band is up there with the best. The 80s would’ve been glad to have these guys for themselves but, thankfully, they belong to us. It’s guitars galore at their show. In the pantheon of great dual guitarists think K.K. Downing and Glenn Tipton of Judas Priest, but faster. They even had a light show before their set that could match the glitz of a Pink Floyd show. Head banging and moshing is expected. Just an overall fun and exciting show.
The poetic warrior behind the mic, Grieves brought his rhymes to Strummer’s on October 6. The mystery man under the hat and hoodie is the rapper who has something deep and meaningful to say. And of course, a little bit of some explicit fun. “I want people to have an experience with my music. The energy you come with to my show is the energy I want when you leave my show.” With 12 years of performing under his belt, here’s a man who will do whatever he must to make his music memorable. Even if that means going to Sweden to record an album. From all the moving and head bopping and throwing their hands in the air, no one was grieving at his show. His performance and music is nothing but good times.
Don’t lose your hearing by me mentioning these names. Godsmack, Halestorm, and Monster Truck charged through Bakersfield’s Rabobank Arena, Theater and Convention Center on October 12. My oh my what an event! The famous Aftershock Festival that takes place every year in Sacramento which is usually filled with a roster of rock and metal greats, was held the exact same weekend. In all honesty, just from these three performances alone Monster Truck set the tone for the night. Their mix of Southern and blues hard rock was fitting for the Kern County crowd. They may have been the openers but they performed like they were headliners, and if they keep it up, they will be.
Then Halestorm took the stage. WOW! Absolutely wow! Talk about what a rock band needs to be: Loud, heavy, hard, and alternative. It was rhythmic, but made you want to bang your head. I haven’t seen a frontma…I mean frontwoman like that in quite a while. Her name is Lzzy Hale. Decked out in leather and high heels, with an “I don’t give a s*** attitude,” and with the high vocals of a metal goddess siren, she ruled. She’s a Joan Jett for this generation and an inspiration for female rockers of the world, which was evident by the young girls who were there. Halestorm will be—and I think is—an important metal band of this generation.
Godsmack came on last, and proved why they stand alone as one of the best bands that are still going strong in the post-grunge era of the 2000s. I grew up on their music and it was the soundtrack to my upbringing with hits like “Whatever,” “Awake,” “Voodoo,” “Straight Out Of Line,” and of course, “I Stand Alone.” They were either party jams or football anthems. This band has sentimental value for me so to see them and make me feel like a kid again was a mesmerizing feeling.
A band that is making moves not only in the music industry but in the political arena is Making Movies. They premiered their cinematic show at Strummer’s on November 6. With a little bit of rock, Latin, cumbia, blues, and psychedelia, this band had something of everything. They mix Spanish and English, and no matter what language they are singing in, this band has something to say. Being dubbed by the press as Immigrant Rock for their stance on the belief that we’re all from somewhere, and the one universal thing that connects us all is music, no matter where we come from. They hail from Missouri, but it was tough for them to get acceptance from their own hometown. “We’re immigrant rock, the way we’re exploring our afro-Latino identity through our music and through the vehicle of a rock ‘n’ roll [means that our] band is unique,” explains their singer/guitarist Enrique Chi. “We hold that title with a sense of pride. Our band painted an American flag that says, ‘We’re all immigrants,’ even before the 2016 election. And we stand by that saying.”
Not only are they educating people about their music, but are teaching music in general as they’ve created Art As Mentorship, which then became the Base Academy of Music, the Mattie Rhodes Center, and then the Rebel Song Academy for youth in underserved communities. They speak the truth through their lyrics and it’s personified in their sound. It spoke to the audience, which was dancing on the venue floor. That’s why this band was featured in Rolling Stone Magazine a few months ago, and have had the pleasure of collaborating with legends such as Ruben Blades and Lou Reed. After seeing them live I believe in their motto that “Rock ‘N’ Roll is Latin Music.”
Sinbad provided gut-busting laughter to the Tower Theatre audience on November 7. The funny man has been at the comedy game for a long time and shows no signs of slowing down.
He talked about Fresno as if he lived here. How we like to party even though we have work the next day; that we’re not that far from LA, but yet we are; and you can tell which sides of town are not good based on how many stoplights there are. He just went on and on and it continuously got funnier.
“I’ve been to so many cities touring, I remember places, I observe place, because I like to travel so I like to be a part of place. So when people ask me what’s your favorite city I saw, I don’t have one; where I’m at—that’s my favorite for that day,” Sinbad reveals. From his famous stand-up specials on HBO, to 90s classics like Houseguest, First Kid, and Jingle All The Way, to hosting shows, being on his own sitcom to lending his voice in movies, he’s the total entertainer. The whole time he was on stage he was talking with the rising comedian Chase Anthony. Be on the lookout for this guy, his future is bright in comedy. You had old school comedy and new school comedy sharing the stage, and no matter the generation, it was still funny. “It’s different, every generation changes like music, it’s supposed to lead to something else, so new comedy is in a whole different groove. With social media it’s different, but you still have to have talent and excellence to stand out,” he says. It was an honor to get the chance to meet and interview him, and he believes that no matter what this country is going through there will always be a place for comedy.