An Evening Of Expression

 

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Odd Bridges returned to the Hilltop Tavern Saturday night, July 22nd, with special guest Mirk Beniah, Swift Sonorous, Kings Trio, Kryptic Moons and Just Say’N, as well as a special appearance from Dewey B. Weather of Rain Brings Weather. It’s been about a month and a half since Odd Bridges and the Hilltop played host to OddFest, a festival celebrating the growing talent and music scene in the High Desert. Odd Bridges and crew were all present at the festival, with Kings Trio being the exception, and returned this evening to continue tearing up stages left and right.

Kicking off the evening was Kryptic Moons, a group that reflects the attitude and style of hard rock from the 70’s and 80’s. With covers like “Strutter” from Kiss’s first album and originals like “Blue”, “To the Wire” and “Dirty Looks”, Kryptic Moons are still looking strong despite a recent lineup change. I spoke with singer and guitarist Melody Del Real about the direction of the band moving forward, “we’re trying to settle back, definitely more groove rather than speed and technicality, just more groove… …That’s my ultimate aim, is to create something that is approachable but is also interesting, but not technical, not trying to show off.”

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When talking about why she started the group and what it means to her, Melody emphasized her desire for self-expression, “I wanted my own thing. Seeing all these other people being recruited, like being drafted into those bands as a session musician and I didn’t [want that]. I was like, ‘I want to write my own stuff.’ ”

With a new bass player in tow, Kryptic Moons are looking to hit the studio later this year. “We’re recording this fall,” said Del Real, “Our drummer is gonna track in about two months and then the rest of the band will go in about October. We still need to arrange everything, see when everyone is free, but I already got the guy.” Hopefully, we’ll be able to hear some new and old tracks crisply recorded into an album soon, or EP; either way, I’m anxious to hear more.

Following them was Kings Trio, who recently played a set at the 12th Annual Battle for Warped Tour on July 16th. Whether they make it or not, it doesn’t seem to deter King’s Trio moving forward. However, when I sat down with them, I decided to take a look back at the history of Kings Trio. Guitarist James and bassist Jesse Gonzalez are brothers and actually share a lot of influences. “I would say, my biggest inspiration, what really got me playing a lot was Nirvana, “said James, “When that grunge scene came out, dude, I was all into that, dude. Before that, I was listening to a lot of N.W.A and stuff like that, so I was thinking ‘fuck the police’ and getting all crazy and then Nirvana came out and dude, that was it for me.”

Jesse continued with a little more of their background, “Us growing up together, we had the same inspiration. Even oldies, because our parents we’re in a band when they were kids and they passed it on to us. Like, our dad showed us how to play. Oldies, but goodies and the Beatles were their favorites. They showed us all that, so that’s what they had us playing first.”

Drummer Matt Christiensen adds some more diversity with his influences, “I wanted to be Joey Jordison, who is formerly of Slipknot. Started getting schooled in music and fell in love with Jazz… …Lately, I’ve been watching a lot of Chad Smith and Nicko McBrain.”

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Indeed, like all the bands that were present, Kings Trio has a tremendous love for music and preforming, by in part because of the energy the crowd brings, “We love the crowd, man,” said Jesse, “so we actually try to get involved the crowd as much as possible.”

“That’s probably the best part,” added James, “Everyone is here and everyone is getting involved. It’s just we feed off of it and likewise, everyone that’s listening to our music and feeds off of it and everything is super fun.”

Following Kings Trio was the host of the evening, Odd Bridges, who brought their eclectic brand of alternative rock that the group has become known for. Tracks like “Medicate” and “Be My Friend” are loads of fun to listen too, especially when the latter features Dewey B. Weather, of Rain Brings Weather, jumping up on stage to sing along with singer Derek Beck and guitarist Michael Eberhardt. When they’re not preforming, Eberhardt and company are hard at work making sure everything is going well for the other bands during their sets. I didn’t hound them for an interview because I’ve already bugged them enough in the last month and there were other voices I needed to hear.

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One of those was a quick interview with Swift Sonorous, who performed that evening alongside Mirk Beniah after Odd Bridges’ set. The last time I spoke with Beniah, I got a little taste of the background of the Royal Dynasty and Swift was able to add to that with his and Beniah’s history together, “we’ve been artist for a while and I think in 2009 or 2010, we just linked up. He seen me at a show and ever since then we’ve been doing music together. That show, at Johnny Fingers, we were supposed to have our own separate performance, right? It just happens to be that when me and Mirk Beniah preform together, it’s just way better. So, instead of preforming separately, we’ve been just doing our own shows and performing together.”

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When talking what drives him as an artist and performer, Sonorous said, “I just want my fans to hear my growth in my music, to say, ‘oh, man I heard your first stuff and it was cool, but bro, your new stuff is dope. I can’t wait to hear what’s coming up next’. That what I’m all about, cuz I’ve been doing this for seven years now. I just want my fans to hear my growth, you know what I mean and I’m not going to let them down.”

Swift has a lot to look forward to next month, as he will be preforming at the Mega-Sesh festival at the NOS center in San Bernardino, “They say they want me to play on the main stage on August 19th, so I’m bringing my boy Mirk Beniah with me and you know, the royal dynasty is going down.”

Capping off our evening was Just Say’N, a group that has been working hard and playing as many shows that can come their way. Another trio of musicians, Just Say’N is a group of very likeminded and dedicated friends. Digging into their past, I found it was singer and guitarist Paul McDonald’s best friend from adolescence who showed him how to play guitar, “He was awesome, you know, we did everything together, he was my road dog. We got split up and [he] moved to Arizona and I started listening to lots of Blink 182 and Bullet for My Valentine. I know it’s an odd mix, but yeah, Tom DeLonge’s my man. My voice, my guitar playing, everything is based around him.”

“If he could, he would marry him,” said Bassist Jorge Arias.

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Photo by Katherine Allen

Drummer Art Fernandez talked about the excitement of going from just one drum to a whole set, “You know, in high school, I tried to join the drum line over at Serrano High School and I ended up doing it for, like, a couple months or so, but I had to get out of it. But, as an inspiration, I was just on a snare drum and going onto a six… it’s pretty fun cause like when your rumbling on those things, you pick up different sounds. It’s inspiring what you can mix in.”

When I asked Arias what drove him as musician, his response was my favorite of all I heard that day, “it’s a form of expression because I’ve never been a good drawer or storywriter or anything like that, but I picked up the guitar after Paul right here showed me a couple of instructions on how to play the guitar the right way, and from there, man, it’s making music. I like it, you can express yourself and you don’t even need words in some songs, you can just pick and play. That’s why I love playing here at these free shows, because it’s just for having fun and expressing ourselves and everybody enjoys it.”

That seems to be the ultimate goal of many of the bands I’ve come across in the desert. Very few have grand dreams of rock star level success, so many settle for the joy of expression. While some of the music I’ve come across may not seem the most original or very good at all, but the level sincerity these artist are putting into their music is very refreshing. I’ll be honest, if I had a dime for every shitty demo I got back in my early twenties, I would have been able to pay for my college education a lot sooner. Exaggerations aside, these are musicians who play for the love of music, not for fame or money (although a little money wouldn’t hurt…) and to me, that seems worth a lot more.

-b.d. ponce

Odd Bridges’ Facebook

Kryptic Moons’ Facebook

Soundcloud for Kryptic Moons

Kings Trio’s Facebook

Kings Trio’s Website

Mirk Beniah’s Facebook

Mirk Beniah’s Website

Swift Sonorous’ Facebook

Swift’s Website

Just Say’N’s facebook

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Good Apollo, Still Burning After Twelve Years

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Sunset Boulevard played host for Coheed and Cambria to preform their third album, Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Volume One: From Fear through the Eyes of Madness, in its entirety at the Hollywood Palladium Saturday night. The concert hall is just one stop on a tour to reinvigorate the passion felt for Coheed’s biggest selling record to date. Released in 2005, Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Volume One garnered them the most attention for their distinct mix of prog-rock, emo and post-hardcore. The album struck a great balance that dominated the ears of geeky emo kids of last decade, such as yours truly.

Twelve seems like an odd number to celebrate, but given that the band’s previous effort, The Color Before the Sun, was released in 2015, the timing was just unfortunate. Coheed and Cambria were intent on bringing this tour to fruition, regardless if it follows the ten year anniversary trend or not. This album was as significant to them as it was to fans like me, a blog writer with dreams of having an episodic saga of books that are as beloved as front-man Claudio Sanchez’s Amory Wars series. Having attended the ten year anniversary show for In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3 (missed the Second Stage Turbine Blade show, I was poor), I highly anticipated this performance as both records were significant to me at that age, and these kind of events are for celebrating the impact albums like these have on fans. Part of that celebration is a reflection of where we were when we first heard these albums. I was a bored teen writing poorly articulated album and show reviews on his Myspace blog. Now, its twelve years later and… well, it’s not Myspace anymore, at least.

Joining Coheed and Cambria on this tour is the Dear Hunter, who delivered a solid forty-five minutes of eclectic prog-rock that appropriately charged the crowd of anxious Coheed fans. Were I not so hyped for the main event, I could have gone for way more of The Dear Hunter. However, we could wait no longer.

Recounting the show, a lot of your typical concert annoyances were present, including: Guys over 6’ crowding the front, dudes getting heated over overzealous Moshers, drunk girls dancing sloppily into every asset of your personal space and, the Coup de grace, getting beer split all over me at the beginning of “Ten Speed”. Of all the concerts I’ve been too, you could argue this was one of my worst experiences, but none of that mattered once “Keeping the Blade” started.

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The visual presentation coinciding with the performance was particularly stunning for this evening, as is to be expected with a band like Coheed and Cambria. The image of a skull bleeding blackness from its eye sockets was one of the many reoccurring motifs that created a stark, surreal atmosphere that enhanced the fury that Claudio and crew were unleashing. Hearing tracks like “Welcome Home” and “Apollo I: The Writing Writer” along with this abstract, bleak imagery reminded me of hearing this album for the first time in 2005 and reading the graphic novel a year later (borrowed copy).

The Meta narrative of a writer becoming delusion and clashing with his own characters was a unique perspective that set Good Apollo apart from the narrative of its predecessors, and many other concept albums for that matter. Coupled with its graphic novel, Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Volume One was something special when it first came out and the energy felt in that ballroom on Saturday night meant that feeling was still there. Through many of their peers of that era have disbanded and moved on to other projects, Coheed and Cambria are still here and poised to remind you of what made them stand out to begin with.

-b. ponce

Saying Good Bye is Never Easy, R.I.P. YellowCard

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By Mark Simpson

On Saturday March 25th 2017 Yellowcard decided after 20 Years of playing the music they loved to retire the name Yellowcard once and for all. The group choose to do so at the House of Blues in Anaheim where Ryan Key stated that the groups first ever sold out show took place at the near by Chain Reaction in Anaheim. As Fans from all over the world lined up early in the morning to get as close to the stage as possible me and my wife made the trip to see the group one last time.

My wife Sara had been a fan for over 15 years and decided to dawn one of her oldest Yellowcard shirts as her memories with the group were so precious that she could barely grasp the idea that the group would never do another show again. When we arrived we decided to eat at the Cheesecake Factory where by complete luck we were seated directly in front of Ryan Key who was having his last meal of such before making his final sound check.

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As Ryan finished his meal he stood up stretched his arms into the sky and with a bit of nerves said to his dinning companion “Last sound check”. As a smirk went across his face me and my wife finished the last of our mojito and Daiquiri and headed to what would be known as maybe the most powerful performances to ever grace the House of Blues Anaheim.

The night was Started off by former Bass Player and fellow childhood friend of Ryan Key’s Sean O’ Donnell who played an awesome acoustic set that made many in the crowd nostalgic as they remembered how he helped the group putt together hits like “Hang you Up” when he was part of Yellowcard from 2010 to 2012.

Yellowcard started their set off on a clear mission to blow the roof of the House of Blues when they opened up with powerhouse song “Way Away” while continuing to not let up by following it with “For You, and Your Denial” and “Lights and Sounds”. The fans loved every moment and made sure to make the most of the moment by singing along threw out the whole set as if they were trying to help wheel Ryan and the rest of the group threw out their final Set. As the group rocked you could feel the floors rumble beneath your feet as parts of the ceiling fell like snow to the floor filled to capacity. Here is a clip to give you an idea:

There were so many moments that pulled at mine and others heart strings but seeing Sean Mackin do his back flip one more time and thank his mother for pushing him to keep playing the violin was my favorite moment. I once too played the Violin and personally could relate to his mother pushing him to stick with the instrument. Mackin who has been with the group since its start is a favorite of mine and as Yellowcard closed out their set with their final song “Ocean Avenue” you could see his daughter on the left of the stage dancing as she watched her dad rock the violin for the last time with his Rock and Roll group.

As the group made their final bow and waved to the crowd it felt as if it was an end of an era. The Pop- Punk groups of the 90’s are slowly disappearing but to me there will always be only one group who was able to connect at the highest level with their fans and make them feel like family. As I watched them leave the stage I looked at my wife who I married in October and smiled because at the end of the day your never ready to say good bye to those you love.

Thank you for the Memories Yellowcard!

marksarayello