By: Derek Jung
This is now my third time seeing the cult jam rap rock trio in the last 3 years. Each time has been in very different environments. The first was a private-ish birthday party at Madison Live! where I commented that the band kept it super fun, but played the hits with such familiarity that they were straddling the line between comfort and staleness. The second was a middle-of-the-road mid-afternoon set at Bunbury Music Festival during which the band fed off the energy of the crowd and an impending thunderstorm to create a memorable set.
This time though, unfortunately, the energy was not present at all. Despite the band playing well past 11 PM, the solid Tuesday night crowd in attendance had dangerously low energy for the vast majority of the show. It was one of the sleepiest crowds that I've ever experienced at the theater. The worst part was when the band went off stage before the encore. The clapping and cheering died almost immediately and didn't start back up again until the band returned to the stage. Why they even came back, I don't know. The crowd certainly didn't deserve it. To add to this, the mediocre sound of 20th Century Theatre struck again. It took a good four songs before you could hear G. Love's vocals through the muddled mess of bass and drums. One of the drummer's toms' mics was even unplugged for a few songs. It was so bad that the drummer, who was getting visibly frustrated, got up in between songs and went side stage to talk with the monitor tech. The sound was magically fixed for the next song. Incredible.
In short, I don't think I'll be catching G. Love again at 20th Century. Wasn't worth the trouble.
By: Derek Jung
DEREK: Joseph and I have been avid followers of The Church of Joshua Homme for as long as we can remember. Our love affair with Queens of the Stone Age dates back to when our adolescent musical tastes were just starting to grow, and it hasn't lessened for any album, lineup iteration, or side project that Homme has thrown at us. The band's latest album, Villains, was a banger, and we were excited to hear the songs performed live.
This was probably the tightest I've ever seen the band live. Every member was in perfect sync, playing off of each others' grooves and licks, and Homme, albeit visibly intoxicated, was really enjoying himself. There have been a lot of rumors swirling around about his mental state, but hopefully chainsmoking, boozing, and badassery are his only vices. All that being said, he looked in prime form on Tuesday.
The band focused mostly on Villains and their previous album, ...Like Clockwork. I was pleasantly surprised to hear "I Appear Missing", which I was disappointed they didn't play the last time I saw them, and the one-two-three punch of "Head Like a Haunted House" -> "I Appear Missing" -> "Villains of Circumstance" was one of my favorite moments of the show. It was the perfect amount of insanity, jamming, and psychedelic stoner rock.
I'll go ahead and omit the fine, but otherwise run of the mill opening set from Royal Blood. Seeing them for the first time on this album cycle at Lollapalooza was great, but seeing the same thing twice from a band that relies so much on riffs and British swagger, it was extremely boring.
Queens are touring through the middle of next year, so there are still plenty of opportunities to see them.
JOSEPH: I don't have a whole lot to add here. Derek and I feel pretty similar about QOTSA and go way back with the band. I just wanted to bring up that I feel like Joshua Homme is one of the last true rockstars of our time. Derek put it lightly relating to Homme's intoxication. He was wasted, like the rockstars of old. Yet he was at the top of his game. Pretty impressive, if you ask me. I also agree with Derek on Royal Blood. This was the third time I've seen the band on this tour, and even though I'm the resident riff rock lover between us, I couldn't help getting bored seeing the exact same set for a third time. Hopefully they start to add some spontaneity to their set as they continue to develop. But when it's all said and done.....go see QOTSA if you can. It's worth it.
Go With the Flow
The Lost Art of Keeping a Secret
Feet Don't Fail me
My God Is the Sun
The Evil Has Landed
No One Knows
Make It Wit Chu
Leg of Lamb
Head Like a Haunted House
I Appear Missing
Villains of Circumstance
If I Had a Tail
I Sat by the Ocean
The Way You Used to Do
A Song for the Dead
By: Derek Jung
Nestled in a quaint park amphitheater on the banks of the Great Miami River in Hamilton, Ohio, David Shaw's Big River Get Down has put together one of the better single day festivals in the area. Shaw, lead singer of The Revivalists and Hamilton native, assembled an eclectic, good vibes focused lineup that delivered from top to bottom. Coupled with great weather and a crowd eager to soak up the sun and enjoy a day of music in an otherwise quiet town, The Get Down was a huge success.
Rev. Peyton's Big Damn Band
Ironically only featuring three members, Peyton's energy, enthusiasm, and monster beard makes up for what the band lacks in size and, frankly, a vocalist. With slick slide guitar, smooth blues licks, and a hypnotizing rhythmic sound, Peyton and company commanded the stage for their 45 minute set. I found myself constantly watching Breezy, whose instrument is scratching a washboard.
Yes, this is a band from the 21st century.
Set highlights "Something for Nothing" and "Clap Your Hands" are worth the price of admission alone. Don't miss out on seeing The Rev if he comes around again.
The Marcus King Band
I missed seeing Marcus King earlier this year at 20th Century Theater because of a snow storm, so seeing he was playing The Big River Get Down was icing on the cake when I went to purchase tickets. The 21 year old blues guitarist has been playing live for a good portion of his life already, and being associated with legends like Warren Hayes certainly hasn't hurt his young career. Similar to Hayes, King's southern blues style bring back memories of The Allman Brothers and Gov't Mule. With accompanying horns and keys, King's guitar playing didn't take the spotlight quite as much as I would have liked, but there's no denying the kid's talent and passion for the blues. I'm really looking forward to hearing how his sound evolves, because there are certainly some growing pains involved. (His voice being one of them) But I have high hopes.
The Record Company
Seeing them open for My Morning Jacket earlier this year was a revolution for me. I'd heard their single, "Rita Mae Young" on local radio, but never thought they'd rock as much as they do. These three guys bring the hard pounding throwback southern blues rock riffs, a little twang, a little harmonica, and top it off with a dash of slide guitar. The resulting rock 'n' roll sundae is enough to fill the appetite of even the hungriest rocker out there.
Some would argue that The Record Company isn't bringing anything new to the genre, which is probably true, but why mess with a formula that's been so successful for so long. There's no denying that what the band's doing here sounds just as fresh as it did when Muddy Waters pioneered the genre in the 50's and 60's.
By: The Busted Amp Staff
Derek: After a stellar set from Pixies next door at Madison Theater, a portion of the crowd wandered over to the smaller, more intimate Madison Live! for a $5 unofficial aftershow with Louisville, KY's garage rock breakouts White Reaper. For the next hour, White Reaper tore down the house with the heavy riffs, sleek synths, and party anthem vocals. The band has made waves with last two releases, including their latest The World's Best American Band, and their live show solidified them in my mind as one of the most fun, high energy shows out there. Tony Esposito's vocals tore through the dancing mosh pit at the front of the stage while keyboardist Ryan Hater's antics on keys brought to mind a cape-less Rick Wakeman from the prog-rock band Yes. Brothers Sam and Nick Wilkerson kept the driving beat on bass and drums. It was quite the showing for the Louisville band, and I wish more people had found their way over from the Pixies show; the room was only about half full. Were they dissuaded because of the late start time? Were they turned off by the hardcore punk openers No Parents? Personally, I enjoyed No Parents and thought some of their lyrics were hilarious.
Either way, I think it's safe to say that you'll be hearing much more of White Reaper in the next few years.
Joseph: HOLY SHIT. What a freaking show. I needed that. I think we could all use a good punk show to get our blood pumping every now and again, right? The overall show was pretty short, so I wish more people would've taken advantage of the $5 asking price, but I'm sure glad we did. The show started with hardcore punk artist No Parents, who had a short but very sweet set. The band embodied pretty much every punk stereotype out there, but there's nothing wrong with that. I was a bit disappointed by the mix, as it was next to impossible to hear the lead singer, but.....then again it is a punk show, so who cares, right? [Derek: I heard the vocals just fine through my earplugs. Invest in a good pair, everyone. It does wonders...]
After No Parents came White Reaper. Unlike Derek, I was pretty unfamiliar with the band. I had listened to The World's Best American Band, but I failed to hear the magic that has made White Reaper one of the hottest bands in the punk genre today. Well, after their blistering, loud, crazy, dance-your-heart-out-like-you-just-don't-care set, I could see why. The band has an absurd amount of energy, and their latest album translates over extremely well live. Then, combined with songs off their previous two albums.... they were simply unstoppable in the small, intimate space of Madison Live! Their 2015 album White Reaper Does It Again has been on repeat for me since the show, and I can't wait to see them again. They're playing at pretty much every festival in existence this summer, and I can't recommend it enough.....go see them. They're probably playing pretty early in the day at whatever festival you're going to, so do yourself a favor. Get there early that day, and see White Reaper. They just might be the best set you see all day. I can't wait to see them again at Bunbury, Bonnaroo, and Lollapalooza. (I'm not kidding when I say they are playing at every festival in existence this year).
By: The Busted Amp Staff
Derek: It was the perfect storm of an evening. Joseph and I were lined up to see the legendary Pixies, and then immediately following, an aftershow featuring one of my favorite up-and-coming bands, White Reaper (You can read that review here). It did not disappoint.
Most are familiar with how big of an influence Pixies were on other grunge era bands like Nirvana. Kurt Cobain famously listed their 1988 album Surfer Rosa as his 2nd favorite album of all time. Now, nearly 30 years later, the band is back and have two new albums with their reunited lineup. The only difference between the original lineup and now is the absence of founding bassist Kim Deal, who left the band in 2013 and was eventually replaced by Paz Lenchantin.
A sold out crowd greeted the band as they came on stage. Side note: Both them and opener Public Access T.V. came on early, which according to rock lore is a sign of the apocalypse.
Anyways, their 28 (!!!) song setlist focused mainly on their two late 80's albums, Doolittle and the aforementioned Surfer Rosa, along with their latest album, last year's Head Carrier. Lead singer Black Francis sounded great; his distinct voice was perfectly mixed. In fact, overall the sound was incredible. Whoever was working sound did one of the best jobs that I've heard with what I am sure is a difficult band to mix properly.
Joseph: I'm not gonna lie....I had the time of my life at these shows. While I came in not knowing much about any of the 4 bands playing, I left as a newly converted fan. The night started with Public Access TV and Pixies, and after listening to Pixies I could hear why Cobain held the band in such high regard. Despite a somewhat lackluster crowd energy at the Madison Theater, there was a palpable, borderline magical, energy to the band's set, and they didn't waste any time between songs to let that energy fade. Their MASSIVE setlist, combined with consistent playing, made this set feel similar to something like Twenty One Pilots set I saw back in March (which you can revisit here) except the crowd wasn't anywhere near the same energy level in return. But Pixies didn't care, and neither did I. This show was a blast, and if they're in your neighborhood you should definitely take the time to see them.
Un Chagga Lagga
Something Against You
Monkey Gone to Heaven
Head On (The Jesus and Mary Chain cover)
Winterlong (Neil Young cover)
Where Is My Mind?
Ed Is Dead
Wabe of Mutilation
Planet of Sound
Might as Well Be Gone
Into the White
By: Joseph Kathmann
Wow. What a show. While this may be my first show of 2017, I think it may be hard for anyone to top it. I do believe the venue played a major part in this, but I think a lot of it was also the band themselves. There's something special about the band's frontman, Paul Janeway, when he takes the stage. Before I knew it, I felt like I was back in the early days of this legendary venue with a rowdy crowd of people looking to de-stress after a hard day's work. When I moved to Nashville almost two years ago, this was what I envisioned the shows would be like.
Following their strong sophomore album, which Derek and I both enjoyed, this tour has been something of a coming out party for the band. The show started with opener William Tyler bringing in some traditional country tunes. It was something of a weak opener, which is a shame because William Tyler has been pretty influential around town in Nashville, but this crowd was simply not his demographic. He was also pretty nervous playing at the Ryman, but by the end of the show his nerves were gone and he played some upbeat country tunes that got the crowd's attention at least for a bit. I think he made the best of his situation, but for most of his set he sadly failed to get the attention of the crowd, and thus they didn't hesitate to talk over his set.
Fortunately, all that changed when St. Paul & The Broken Bones took the stage. The crowd, largely white and of which I was probably the youngest one, initially sat in the bleachers through the first half of the set. It did make for a goosebump-inducing moment when the crowd gave him a standing ovation for "Like a Mighty River," many people, myself included, were getting frustrated with the idea of sitting throughout this high energy-performance. I think Paul Janeway could sense this, and a few times he asked the crowd to get up and dance for a song. While this tactic didn't really work, as the set went on and the band increased their energy levels, they eventually forced the crowd up and then.....it was on. The rowdy energy in the Ryman was undeniable as the crowd cheered and uncontrollably banged on the bleachers throughout the final few songs and the encore, and the band responded to this in kind. It really was pretty awesome to see and be apart of that, and everyone left the show feeling like they had just seen a show at the Mother Church as it was intended. St. Paul & The Broken Bones are a perfect band to see at The Ryman, and even though the crowd was calm at first, the atmosphere eventually took hold and I found myself in the middle of one of the coolest shows I had ever seen.
By: Derek Jung
Let's make one thing clear: I don't go to many punk rock shows. FIDLAR was one of my favorite performances at Lollapalooza this year, so I couldn't pass up seeing them at my home venue. What an experience it was.
First off, openers The Frights and SWMRS played some pretty standard pop punk. The latter of which features Green Day lead singer Billy Joe Armstrong's son on drums and was very, very coached in terms of their performance. The lead singer had a Matt Shultz of Cage the Elephant vibe in his dress with "Fuck Donald Trump" drawn on the front, and the guitarist did every cliched move in the book. All in all it was pretty ho hum, but the pit was definitely getting warmed up for the show to come.
FIDLAR took the stage to about a half capacity theater, which is pretty disappointing since they had been periodically selling out shows on their current tour, but that's Cincinnati for you. They immediately tore the roof off the venue with their cover of The Beastie Boys "Sabotage". From there it was 70 minutes of shredding through the hits from their first two albums. The audience ate it up, but we'll get there in a minute. The set was pretty similar to the one they played at Lollapalooza, but I wasn't expecting anything significantly different since they're on the same touring cycle. "Punks" is incredibly powerful live, and hearing everyone sing along to "Cheap Beer" and "Wake Bake Skate" was awesome.
The crowd, for being the size that it was, was absolutely insane. The pit was packed and churning with mosh pits through the entire set. Articles of clothing flew on stage so frequently that Brandon Schwartzel, the bassist tied about a dozen shoes to his mic stand in between songs. This, of course, encouraged more to be thrown on stage. I'm not sure moshing with bare feet is the best idea in the world, but I digress. Amongst the clothing being tossed were beer cans and water bottles, sometimes completely full and open. There was a nice, slick, sticky layer of filth on the pit floor after the show, which made me feel sorry for the staff of the newly renovated theater, but I guess it was to be expected. The moshing was much more intense than anything that we saw at Lollapalooza. A wall of death, contrary to the wall of hugs from Midpoint, actually looks very painful when witnessed in person, especially as bodies smack face first into each other at high speeds. Crowd surfing was a constant, and a few people even jumped from the second level onto the pit below. That's a drop of a good six or seven feet, people. Even one person managed to climb on stage and jump before security grabbed him. It was an amusing addition to the show, and definitely made it a memorable one to me.
Check out their cover of Sabotage from this year's Sziget Festival below.
By: Derek Jung
The free summer concert series at Fountain Square, now rebranded as Indie Vol. 2016, has been one of my favorite parts of Cincinnati summers for the past few years. This past weekend, Welsh rockers The Joy Formidable took the stage to support the release of the their newest album, Hitch. Admittedly, I haven't kept up with the band's previous two releases since their great debut album The Big Roar (My bad, fellas). That being said, the lead single from the new album, "The Last Thing On My Mind", is pretty good, so I was looking forward to hearing some of the new material. Unfortunately for the band and everyone in attendance, crafting a good mix and being at all competent at running sound was the last thing on the crew's mind Friday night.
After the first song of the set, lead singer/guitarist Ritzy Bryan complained of an annoying buzzing sound in the monitor. It was apparently so bad that the band exited the stage for over 10 minutes to allow the sound crew to try to fix the issue. This was after the band played an acoustic song and told an absolutely terrible duck joke to stall for time. The band was visibly peeved, and rightfully so, especially with the hard 11pm end time looming on the horizon that would inevitably shorten the band's set. This was an embarrassing showing for the Indie Vol 2016 crew, especially after upping the quality of bands playing this year. This isn't to say that they haven't had issues in the past. I've reported on several of them (See: 1, 2).
Once everything was back in order, the band returned to the stage, but even then the band was adjusting their monitor mix for a good majority of the rest of the set. The mix being heard by the crowd wasn't much better. Ritzy's vocals were hardly audible for much of the time, which was a bummer because I've always been a fan of her voice. This wasn't fixed until the last two songs of the set, one of them being my personal favorite "Whirring" from The Big Roar.
For all of the issues on the night, the band was surprisingly energetic once they got going. The crowd, besides those closer to the front, did not share the same enthusiasm, so the energy came entirely from within the band. You have to respect a band that is able to salvage bad circumstances outside their control.
The final sequence of "Whirring", which includes a nice breakdown, found Ritzy giving her guitar to the front row and letting them strum whatever noises they wanted on it. One of the "noisemakers" passed Ritzy's pick to her boyfriend as a keepsake, all captured on the big screen tv above the stage (Yes, we all saw it, honey). Subsequently, drummer Matthew James Thomas, in a perfect embodiment of the evening, threw his gong mallet across the stage in an attempt for the "final blow" of of the set. He missed miserably to which Ritzy, who commented during their unsuccessful comedy set earlier that they were not allowed to curse, said, "fuck it".
Check out the band's new album, Hitch on Spotify.
By: Derek Jung
As festival season approaches, I always look to free up my schedule of potential festival conflicts by seeing artists in advance. G. Love & Special Sauce is playing Bunbury Music Festival in June, which both Joseph and I are attending. Usually, major festivals have radius clauses for bands that are scheduled to play, meaning they cannot play another show within a determined number of miles and within a certain span of time around the festival. Because of this, I was surprised to see G. Love on the bill of a birthday party scheduled at Madison Live!, which is located right across the river from where Bunbury will be happening in a mere month and a half. The show was advertised as "Kurt's First Annual Birthday Bash" rather than G. Love & Special Sauce, and it was not listed on G. Love's website, which may have been a clever loophole if there was a radius clause in their contract, but I certainly wasn't complaining either way. The way I saw it, I was seeing them in a much more intimate venue, seeing a much longer set than I would see at Bunbury, and if I didn't like them, I could easily skip their set in June. I had nothing to lose.
The trio of G. Love (lead singer, guitarist, harmonica), Jeff Clemens (drums), and Jim Prescott (upright bass), have been at it for most of the past two decades. Their self-titled debut, released in 1994, is to this day their most popular album. Their newest album, Love Saves The Day, was released last year on Jack Johnson's Brushfire Records. I'll admit to being completely unfamiliar with the vast majority of their discography outside of their self-titled, so I went into their set mostly blind. For some artists it can lead to a show filled with sonic surprises, and for others you'll regret not "getting it". For me, my first G. Love experience was somewhere in the middle.
Considering this was a glorified birthday party, I was curious as to how many of the attendees were actually fans of G. Love. The band has an almost cult-like following in many areas, especially here in the Midwest. For the most part, I'd say Kurt's friends either already liked G. Love or became fans during their two set, nearly three hour performance. Or maybe they were all drunk, high, or both - who's to judge?
There's a comfort level that comes with playing your hits over the years like G. Love & Special Sauce has, and there's a fine line to walk between comfort and staleness. For the few songs that I was familiar with from the self-titled album, I think they nailed the sweet spot with an additional dose of charm and suavity. Jim Prescott is a downright monster on the upright bass and I think he'd be spinning that sucker around if he had just a little more room on the small Madison Live! stage. G. Love's smooth lyrical delivery and gritty harmonica playing were a nice juxtaposition, and the bluesier songs on the set were a welcome change of pace to the rest of the set and something that I did not expect at all. I wish they had played more in that style, but what they did play was great. All in all, it was a very enjoyable set.
Now comes the tough decision of whether or not I'll check out their set at Bunbury. Oh festival season...
Happy birthday Kurt! Can't wait to see who you bring for The 2nd Annual Kurt's Birthday Bash.
Check out a full set video of G. Love at the 2015 Pleasantville Music Festival.
By: Derek Jung
I had heard rumblings of Wolf Alice from across the pond for the last year, so when the UK band was announced at Madison Live! I was pleasantly surprised that such a big name band was going to play such a small, intimate venue here in town. If you don't know them, get familiar, because they're already one of the bigger acts in the UK at the moment. Their debut full length My Love Is Cool was recently nominated for The Mercury Prize, considered one of the highest musical honors, and their single "Moaning Lisa Smile" was also nominated for Best Rock Performance at the 2016 Grammys. Knowing that this very well could be the last opportunity to see them in such a small space, I had to go.
With the accolades the album has been receiving, I was really impressed at how well the energy translates live. Ellie Roswell's voice was in perfect form, and songs like "You're a Germ" and "Fluffy" really popped in terms of their raw grungy feel. Even though the focal point of the band is obviously Roswell, much of the energy and showy elements come from her bandmates, bassist Theo Ellis and guitarist Joff Oddie. Theo in particular, looking like The Bends-era Thom Yorke, kept me watching. Beyond that, one of the highlights of the show was definitely "Swallowtail", the only song sung by drummer Joel Amey, which was just as haunting as the album version, and the ending was stellar. In fact, every song in the set seemed to capture some additional force behind them, resulting in a captivating and wildly entertaining set. Simply put, the band sounded phenomenal.
While they only have one album and two EPs of material to perform, their show included every song that I wanted to hear. The only songs from My Love Is Cool that they didn't play were album opener "Turn To Dust" and "Soapy Water", one of the weakest songs on the album.
Check out the full setlist and a video of the band performing "Moaning Lisa Smile" below.
Your Loves Whore
You're a Germ
90 Mile Beach
Moaning Lisa Smile
Who are we?
Derek Jung and Joseph Kathmann -- Just two ordinary (debatable) guys that love talking about music. You can read more about us here: