The year was 2003, and I was enjoying myself immensely at an after-show party at Lit Lounge in NYC’s East Village, partying hard with the members of Ministry and their entourage, having just seen the band kill it at the late, great Roseland Ballroom. That’s where this photo of me and Al was taken, probably by Paul Barker. I had become friendly with Paul and Al at the time, and you can see the love on Al’s face in this shot and he wraps his arm around my shoulder and smirks for the camera. I was fortunate to interview Paul and Al several times back in the day and they were always fantastic guys to speak with. Good times indeed. Be sure to follow me on Instagram for more celebrity Rock Star stories from the vault!
Great News: After being shuttered since 2019 — initially to undergo major renovations, with the closure extended by the Covid pandemic — legendary concert venue Irving Plaza is reopening later this summer, with its first concert of this decade scheduled for on August 17th. You can read more about the history of the club, and what to expect inside post-renovation, as well as see a line-up schedule, at This Link!
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Hey, do you hate Donald Trump? I sure do. I hate him sooo much, just being serious. If you feel like I do, and you also enjoy performing Karaoke, let me tell you about a fun event happening this Friday. On January 27th, The Occasionalists, a wildly talented, Brooklyn-based cover band will be hosting Post-Inauguration Live Karaoke at Union Hall in Brooklyn. Tickets are only $10, with all proceeds benefitting Planned Parenthood, and other Rights organizations.
The Occasionalists will play all of the songs live and then you can just sing along – super fun! Come let your voice be heard — on stage, in the crowd or at the bar! Have some fun and relax in safe place filled with other sane people who didn’t help to get us into this mess!
Proposed Set List for the Evening Will Feature All of Your Favorites, Including:
It’s the End of the World As We Know It – R.E.M.
Revolution — The Beatles
Get Up, Stand Up — Bob Marley
Refugee — Tom Petty
Life During Wartime — Talking Heads
You’re So Vain – Carly Simon
Crazy Train — Ozzy
Freedom 90 — George Michael
London Calling — The Clash
I Will Survive — Cake
Eve of Destruction — Barry McGuire
Should I Stay or Should I Go — The Clash
Creep — Radiohead
Seven Nation Army — White Stripes
Anarchy in the U.K. — Sex Pistols
Come Together — The Beatles
Won’t Get Fooled Again — The Who
Highway to Hell — AC/DC
Fight the Power — Public Enemy
Road to Nowhere — Talking Heads
These Boots Were Made for Walking — Nancy Sinatra
Say It Ain’t So — Weezer
Hallellujah — Leonard Cohen
Psycho Killer — Talking Heads
Redemption Song — Bob Marley
What I Got — Sublime
Sympathy for the Devil – Stones
The Dirty Waltz Band will warm up the house starting at 7:30 PM, with The Occasionalists hitting the stage at 8:45 PM. Union Hall is located at 702 Union Street, Brooklyn, NY, 11215 (N R Q 4 And 5 Trains). If you happen to get hungry, Union Hall also serves delicious food! Further show details can be found Here, and on the FaceBook event page Here. Purchase Tickets in advance Right Here.
Above Image Courtesy of We Are X Film Dot Com. All Other Photos By Gail
When the most popular heavy metal band in Japan came to New York in October of 2014 to play a show at Madison Square Garden, they managed to sell out the legendary arena, despite being virtually unknown in America. X (known stateside as X Japan), got their start in the 1980s as a glam metal band, doing their best to shock audiences with their outrageous stage show and equally over-the-top, gender-bending physical appearances that included flamboyant rock fashions, wildly theatrical hairstyles and Kabuki-esque make-up. But what critics who initially dismissed the band as all style and no substance didn’t realize was that these guys could play their asses off, and were selling the type of rebellious image that repressed Japanese audiences couldn’t wait to buy. Now, an award-winning documentary, We Are X, aims to bring the myth and enigma that is X Japan into your consciousness.
Critics say that the mark of a good documentary is when its story is accessible to, and can be fully enjoyed by, audiences who are completely unfamiliar with its subject matter. Using the career-milestone Madison Square Garden concert as a jumping off point, and circling back to that show (which I attended) at the film’s end, Director Stephen Kijak (Stones in Exile, Scott Walker: 30 Century Man) has succeeded wildly at crafting a career-spanning Rock & Roll fable that will surely hook those who’ve never even heard of X Japan right from its opening credits.
Told primarily from the viewpoint of founding member Yoshiki; X Japan’s drummer, composer and charismatic leader, We Are X is both the story of the band’s groundbreaking 30-year career, and also the life story of Yoshiki, who turned to music as a child as a means to cope with the suicide of his father. Forming X as a teenager with school friend Toshi, who became the band’s lead singer, Yoshiki was driven to succeed by existential questions that haunted him from his father’s death; namely “What is my purpose?” and “why am I here?”
Embracing a ‘Do or Die’ sensibility, X Japan became not just an innovative and successful rock band, but a cultural force as powerfully influential as that created by The Beatles decades before them. Not only have they achieved phenomenal record sales and concert attendances, but band members’ personal brands are associated with products as diverse as credit cards, wine, comic book superhero alter egos, and dolls made in their own likenesses. X Japan is also credited with spearheading the uniquely Japanese Visual Kei movement.
The band’s great successes, however, were tempered with equally great tragedies. As a counterpoint to the celebratory moments, the film carefully explores the suicides of two seminal band members, Hide (in 1998) and Taiji (in 2011), which shattered the lives of both X Japan’s surviving members, and devastated their fans, one of whom was driven to suicide because of the news. We Are X is a true life Rock & Roll story that really has everything.
Despite the intense personal/personnel drama, career challenges and many heart-rending moments, We Are X is also good fun, and thoroughly entertaining. One of my favorite parts happens towards the film’s end, when Yoshiki and Toshi are reunited in 2007, ten years after the singer abandoned X Japan to join a mind-controlling cult. Yoshiki recalls hanging out at the Palladium in Hollywood, where the friends were approached by two guys looking to buy drugs. One of the men asked the duo if they knew where they could score some X (meaning the psychedelic drug, Ecstasy). Yoshiki, whose grasp of the English language is obviously much better now than it was back then, laughs when he recalls replying to the guy, with complete sincerity, “We are X!” Hilarious.
We Are X opens in theaters nationwide on Friday October 21st, 2016.
NOTE: As of September 29th, 2014, Escape music Festival has moved venues to Governor’s Island Beach Club. Visit This Link for details and to purchase tickets!
Escape Music Festival, a highly anticipated live electronic and indie rock music festival, is proud to announce its first interactive concert experience October 11 – 12, 2014 at Pier 9 in Brooklyn, NY. The festival plans to showcase 30 performances and attract a crowd of more than 16,000 people over the course of two days. Featured artists include Placebo and Yeasayer, along with Ra Ra Riot, Bakermat, ASTR, Tesla Boy, Basecamp and Follow Me, as well as DJ sets by The Crystal Method, Neon Indian and STRFKR.
The Festival will also host North America’s first El Row performances from resident DJ’s Oscar Aguilera, Marc Maya and more. Coming off its extremely successful summer residency at Space in Ibiza, Spain, the experience-based performances will combine top-notch underground talent along with interactive art, roaming theatrical performers, and a fully immersive state-of-the-art production design.
The full lineup, along with more information about the interactive elements will be released over the next few weeks leading up to Escape Music Festival. A limited amount of Early Bird 2-Day weekend passes for Escape Music Festival will be accessible to those ages 19 and up and are available now at Escape Music Fest Dot Com for $80.00 while tickets last.
Escape Music Festival will be providing ferry service from Manhattan and shuttle service from Williamsburg, Brooklyn. For more general and transportation information and to purchase tickets, visit: Escape Music Fest Dot Com.
Monday January 21st is the day we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday, so almost everyone has the day off, amiright? Well, even if you don’t, you can celebrate and honor the spirit of doing something good by attending this rocking event in NYC’s Greenwich village that will benefit several animal advocacy groups.
First off, artist/designer Michael Houghton will be singing with The Bashers, a group comprised of musicians from Guns N’ Roses, Soul Asylum and Keith Richard’s X-pensive Winos band. It does not get much more rock than that. The Planets will also be performing.
A Donation of just $10 is suggested and all funds collected at the door on this evening will go towards two very worthy animal organizations in need, Wildlife Waystation and Ferals in Peril. The work these groups do to assist animals is very close to the hearts of event organizers, Geri Gongora, Dava She Wolf and Wesley Wang. And who doesn’t love animals? What a fun event for a great cause!
The show will take place at Sullivan Hall, Located at 214 Sullivan Street in Downtown NYC! Doors open at 8:30 with the first band on stage at 9:30, so even getting enough sleep on a work night should not be an issue. So come have a drink, make a new friend, rock out and save some animals!
Sometimes, life will surprise you. Van Halen is currently on an extensive US tour with original and wildly iconic front man David Lee Roth back on vocals and Eddie’s son Wolfgang on Bass. As an aside, I’ve attended maybe half a dozen David Lee Roth solo shows in the past decade – thanks to a friend of mine having been employed as DLR’s long-time drummer prior to him joining Korn. Dave was always in top form: leaping in the air and roundhouse kicking invisible foes all while hitting those illusive high notes, including the signature, primal yelps he practically trademarked. Because of Roth’s self-evident skill, I easily convinced myself that seeing the DLR Band cover Van Halen songs was essentially the same as seeing Van Halen live. Yes, I just typed that.
Fast forward a couple of years. When I got tickets to the first of Van Halen’s two sold-out shows at NYC’s Madison Square Garden, I seriously wasn’t expecting much. Certainly, I was not considering the possibility of there being any real “wow” factor involved, as I am rock and roll curmudgeon who basically thinks sentimentality is for shit when it comes to a legendary band reuniting with “most of its original members” and blah blah blah. Plus, did you read any of Sammy Hagar’s Heavy-on-the-Eddie-Van-Halen-bashing biography? Yeesh, what hot mess he makes Eddie out to be. And yet, I agreed to get on board for the show, along with a couple of friends, if only for nostalgia’s sake and the promise of an excuse to leave my house on a weeknight. Plus, maybe they would do “Everybody Wants Some,” and that song is just insane.
Well, last night I had a true Come to Jesus moment when Van Halen took the stage for a nearly 2 hour aural assault and reminded me why they are the legends that they are, and why DLR is phoning it in without his on again off again band mates. Because without Eddie Van Halen’s incomparble guitar chops, without Alex the drummer god pounding out the heavy metal thunder and – most importantly – without the Van Halen family’s backing vocals and distinctive harmonies, Roth can’t possibly do a Van Halen song justice. Jesus god, what a great show.
If you weren’t inside Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night, this is what you missed.
You Really Got Me
Running with the Devil
She’s The Woman
Everybody Wants Some (!!)
Somebody Get Me A Doctor
Hear About It Later
Oh, Pretty Woman
The Trouble With Never
Dance The Night Away
Hot For Teacher
Women in Love
Girls Gone Bad
Ice Cream Man
Eruption (Guitar Solo)
Ain’t Talkin’ Bout Love
Van Halen Tour Dates for 2012 are available at This Link. Get tickets while you can!