Wiltern

Live Show Review: Down at The Wiltern

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It’s always exciting when a band in your all time top ten comes to town.  The sheer enjoyment and anticipation is beyond any normal show. With that in mind, I bring you a report from the Wiltern after seeing the mighty Down.

First band up for the night was Australia’s King Parrot. Their on stage antics were more memorable than their actual music. The singer kept enjoying mooning the crowd. Granted this was sort of funny, it was a real distraction. Their 30 minute set seemed like it would never end, especially when all their songs all sound the same. Though there were a couple highlights from their part of the show. The singer got in the crowd to mosh around with people in the pit, causing a bit of a frenzy and the last song of their set featured a very brief cameo from Phil Anselmo who was watching on the side of the stage.

Next up was the newly reunited Bl’ast. Playing their first gig of this tour, Bl’ast put forth a solid performance but it lacked a lot of energy. I saw them late last year open for Neurosis and they came out firing on all cylinders and actually left me wanting more. Joining the band for touring was, Nick Oliveri on bass and Joey Castillo on drums, both former members of Queens Of The Stone Age.  Perhaps it was just an off night for the band, but it sure didn’t resonate with the crowd very well. They seem better suited in playing smaller places with a more intimate vibe,

The last opener for the evening was London, England’s Orange Goblin. Their blend of Black Sabbath and Motorhead influence really shined this evening. The bands 40 minute set was entertaining and fitting, knowing that Down was next. I’ve only ever heard a couple of songs by Orange Goblin before tonight, and when they were done I made a note to go out and pick up their albums.

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Finally after 3 opening bands, Down took the stage to a thunderous roar. I’ve seen Down quite a few times over the years and they never disappoint. Their set though only 14 songs stretched to just over 2 hours. Material from their first 2 albums was the majority of the set along with a few newer tracks from their most recent EP releases. Sadly though nothing from their third album was played. Phil Anselmo was on his game this evening too. His banter in between songs came across as funny and charming. The band themselves were top-notch as well. New additions to the band Pat Bruders and Bobby Landgraf are perfect fits to take the place of Rex Brown and Kirk Windstein. Jimmy Bower and Pepper Keenan are still masters of their instruments. As usual when “Lifer” was played, Phil dedicated it to his fallen brother Dimebag Darrell. Other songs that really stood out, as they are favorites of mine were “Losing All,” “Ghosts Along The Mississippi,” “Temptations Wings,” and the new song “Conjure.” One other funny note from the show, the guys in  Down jokingly broke into snippets of David Essex’ ‘Rock On’ on two occasions, and sang it surprisingly well. For the encore “Stone The Crow” and “Bury Me In Smoke” were played. And as usual during “Bury Me In Smoke,” random friends of the band made their way on stage to help out. One friend that really caught my attention was Danny Lohner (formerly of Nine Inch Nails). Pepper gave him his guitar and the rest was history.

 

The evening as a whole was very interesting and spanned many different genres of heavy music. The main highlight though was Down. They really are the real deal. It is definitely a different beast seeing them live. There is just such passion amongst all the guys in the band and their chemistry really shines. This is one of the best Down shows I’ve seen yet.

 

Down Setlist:

01. Lysergik Funeral Procession
02. Lifer
03. Hail The Leaf
04. Witchtripper
05. We Knew Him Well
06. There’s Something On My Side
07. Ghost Of Mississippi
08. Losing All
09. Pillars Of Eternity
10. Temptation’s Wings
11. Conjure
12. Eyes Of The South

Encore:
13. Stone The Crow
14. Bury Me In Smoke (with members of King Parrot, Orange Goblin, and Danny Lohner)

 

Photos by: Levan TK (http://instagram.com/levan_t_k)

Interview with Black Map

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Recently I had the pleasure of sitting down with Mark Engles and Ben Flanagan of Black Map before their show at The Wiltern as part of Chevelle’s La Gargola tour. Here’s what went down.

Thank you guys for sitting down talking and hanging out. My fiancé and I were at the Viper Room Show and even with technical difficulties, which made it punk rock, it was still a great show.

Ben:
Yeah glad it was towards the end, we had a good time, we had a good show. Last 2 songs were totally fucked, but I still left the stage thinking that was good show, even though we couldn’t play the last 2 songs.

Being that this is your first tour as Black Map, what has the crowd reaction been like and what are the ups and downs so far?

Mark:
It’s been amazing. Spoiling even. Having a headliner who’s so kind. I already had a relationship with them, from when Dredg did some touring with Chevelle. So that part is spoiling. We walk into the venue on the first show and there is no awkwardness and just start talking right away. Some tours it takes weeks to even talk to each other. On this tour we are playing great venues in front of great crowds. The crowd is very open-minded. The Chevelle crowd wants to listen to some rock n roll. And if you’re good at what you do they’re gonna accept it.

Ben:
This crowd wants to like us and the other band Highly Suspect who is great. It’s been nice getting out there. It’s warm from the get go. And it’s been our job to elevate that. Their fans are a bunch of sweethearts. It’s been great

Mark:
Nothing’s been thrown at us so that’s a great start.

The Driver EP came out earlier in the year, I bought it when it came out. My fiancé has it in her car, we both can’t stop listening to it. With everything that’s on your plate, I know you’ve been working on your full length. What is the time table on that?

Ben:
We are close to done with it and that some Tuesday in mid October we hope to release it. We have one more full song to record and some tweaks, mixing and mastering. We’re about 85% done with the whole thing.

What made you want to be in a heavier band considering that you’ve been in more of experimental/alternative melodic bands?

Mark:
We’ve been talking about it loosely for quite a while, when we’ve been out to dinner at a bar or watching a baseball game. We both know that we have the type of chops the way we play music. We know we are capable of it. I grew up listening to heavy stuff, we both did. Also, having Chris Robyn being down to do it, he’s a heavy hitter, it’s what he specializes in. So with all that, why not go back to a power trio or simple rock band. It’s just fun. When we walked in the room the first day, we said let’s just have fun. We had a 12 pack of beer and just rocked like we were 18 again.

Ben:
There is kind of a void to fill. I loved and still love the type of music the Trophy Fire is, the lighter alternative rock. I miss when I was younger, just playing the drop d brutal just kind of heavy riffs. Getting in a room and be able to do that as very cathartic, and then to still apply that sense of melody that we have in our other bands, brings out a really good feeling.

What bands really brought you together, especially in the writing?

Mark:
The obvious are our former bands. There are elements of Dredg, Far and The Trophy Fire. And other things from that era. Failure came up a couple times. Sepultura and Entomed on the guitar side of life, Helmet’s in there. I think all the stuff that influenced us in the mid nineties. Even the stuff that we looked as that was kind of underrated, like Faith No More, bands that did well, but weren’t the big pop radio hit bands.

What’s the driving factor of being a power trio? What really encapsulates your sound?

Mark:
I really like the fact that Ben is playing bass. He’s a guitar player and we really lock up on riffs and it allows us to get more intricate. I think when a trio is tight, it sounds so much tighter than that of a quartet being tight. You can really back up what you are playing. That was a fun part for us at first. Let’s write things that are very tight and intricate. It’s just simpler that way. And when you load into shows you have a lot less gear and all that other shit that goes with it too. It’s great.

While in Black Map, do you have any ideal tour mates or what’s your ideal bill?

Mark:
I think any band we enjoy that’s a loud, guitar-driven band would be great for us. Chevelle is actually one of them. Ben brought up months ago, before we were offered the tour.We’d be happy to play with any band that sounds similar or we’ve been influenced by. With my previous band, we’d over analyze things more. Like if someone offered us a tour, we’d think is this good for us. It this a good look? With this band, if the band is loud and we respect them, we’d probably say yes.

Personal Influence wise, who is the one that made you pick up the guitar and sing?

Ben:
It’s pretty simple for me and actually cliché. When I was 11, I got Nevermind. I basically wanted to be Kurt Cobain. That’s why I started playing guitar. So definitely that started it and went in a million different directions after that. I almost got a little sentimental the other day when we pulled into Seattle. We’re on this tour and it’s going great and I was kind of back to where it all started for me wanting to play guitar and be a singer.

Mark:
I gotta go with a lot of the metal from the 70’s and 80’s. I was listening to music at a young age. I had an older brother, but it wasn’t until Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Metallica, Randy Rhodes, that sort of thing. That whole group of bands really made me want to start playing.

That’s really cool actually. Ok If you could pick your top 5 favorite albums and I know its one of those crazy put you on the spot questions…

Mark:
How much time do you have?

Until you need to go to sound check

Mark:
It’s tough for me, because whenever this question is asked I automatically go to certain albums like Dark Side Of The Moon and OK Computer. Then I start thinking of genres and different stages of life too. For me Pink Floyd and Radiohead, bands like that came a bit later, even Portishead. But early on it was the metal stuff. Sepultura Chaos AD is in there. Though it all becomes very convoluted in my mind. Like when I was 10 this album changed my likes, then you go through a renaissance of other styles in your 20’s and makes you listen to other things.

Ben:
We’ve talked a lot about different bands with their records that influenced us like Fantastic Planet by Failure, King For A Day Fool For A Life Time by Faith No More, The Shape Of Punk To Come by Refused. Albums like that. From start to finish they are beautifully executed and tell a story.

Mark:
I know one for you and me too. California by Mr. Bungle.

Did you get a chance to go to any of the Failure reunion shows?

Mark:
Saw them twice got to see them open for Tool and their headliner.

Ben:
Them opening for Tool was cool but their headliner with the 2 sets was fucking cool.

Oh I’d throw Tool Aenima in the mix too.

You guys mentioned that you are going release the album in October. Are you going to do a fall winter tour or wait till the next year to get out there?

Mark:
It’s all up in the air. We are trying to get anything we feel would be productive. We are definitely thinking about what we could be doing and what not. There are things in the works but nothing confirmed so I really can’t say much about it…

Ok for my one cliché type question, what’s the status of Dredg and The Trophy Fire? I know you Mark went with Dredg over to Europe recently.

Mark:
Europe was great and successful. We all agreed we have another record in us but there isn’t a rush to do it at this point.

Ben:
Same with Trophy Fire. Love the guys and we all get along, I’ve just been focusing on this and there are only so many hours in the day. Cool thing about being in a band is that there is no boss looking over your shoulder telling you to clock in.

Ben and Mark:
We’ll do it when we feel the time is right to go back to those projects.

Thank you guys for sitting with me and letting me ask you some questions and taking the time.

Ben and Mark:
Oh you are welcome, it’s our pleasure.

 

 

Interview by: Brian Lacy

Live Review: Chevelle and Black Map at The Wiltern

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With the times changing and album sales decreasing, longevity isn’t one of the most promising things to relate to in the music industry today. There are a few bands that have been able to really hold their place and still pack a punch. Chevelle is one of those bands. Since the release of their album Wonder What’s Next, they have been packing venues and releasing a steady catalog of solid rock albums. Friday night at the Wiltern, was tremendous. Chevelle’s 90 minute set blazed through their hits, deep cuts from their album Wonder What’s Next, and songs from their latest release La Gargola. The light show that accompanied the band was stunning. The blasts of light matched perfectly with every beat of Sam Loeffler’s drums. Pete Loeffler’s voice live, mixed with that of brother-in-law, Dean Bernardini (bass/vocals), were in perfect unison. The crowd’s age ranged from late teens all the way to late 30’s and even early 40’s. You could definitely tell the long time fans, especially when songs like “Closure,” “Forfeit,” “Comfortable Liar,” and “Grab Thy Hand” were played.

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The direct support was the exceptional Black Map from San Francisco. This power trio of Ben Flanagan (bass/vocals), Mark Engles (guitar/vocals) and Chris Robyn (drums) left the Wiltern in shambles after their set. Formed only a year ago and featuring members of Dredg, Far, and The Trophy Fire, Black Map is definitely a site to see! All the songs off their debut EP Driver and those from their upcoming full length were played and to great reaction. Ben’s voice is one of the purest and uncompromising voices in the rock genre today. The tone of the guitar of Mark still has some of the elements from Dredg, but adds more of a heavier grit. Chris still has the fury he played with in Far and some new energy, thanks to his new bandmates. Black Map has come out at the right place and right time. They are on their way to stealing the show from anyone they play with and making a name for themselves.

Opening the show was another trio called Highly Suspect from New York. While they were a decent opening band, there was something missing with them. The singer/guitarist was the most enjoyable part of the band. His voice was stellar and reminded me of the singer from Kings Of Leon (in a total good way). Though, throughout their set I couldn’t contain my excitement for seeing Black Map and Chevelle.

All in all this was a great night for rock music. Having Chevelle firing on all cylinders (no pun intended), and Black Map rocking the stage was the perfect blend of melodic heaviness.

Chevelle Set List:

1. The Clincher
2. Grab Thy Hand
3. Send The Pain Below
4. Sleep Apnea
5. Take Out The Gunman
6. An Island
7. Closure
8. Forfeit
9. Vitamin R (Leading Us Along)
10. Envy
11. Hunter Eats Hunter
12. Hats Off To The Bull
13. I Get It

Encore:

14. The Red
15. Comfortable Liar
16. Face To The Floor

Black Map Set List: (abridged names)

1. Code
2. Gold
3. Hills
4. Eyes
5. Ropes
6. Mellee
7. Chinaski
8. Gemini
9. I’m Just The Driver

By: Brian Lacy

Photos by: Alisa Diaz