Monday, April 7, 2014

Goodbye, Roseland

It's fair to say that I've spent a lot of time inside midtown's Roseland Ballroom. From big acts like AC/DC to the dozens of Slayer, Pantera and countless other shows I caught there - it's been a fun place to see gigs since my teens.

Last night, I went to pay my final respects at Lady Gaga's closing run of the place; the second-to-last night they'd ever hold concerts at Roseland. Though I'd be lying if I said I didn't wish it wasn't a harder act I saw there last, I appreciate Gaga's reverence for the place. She's a native New Yorker, so she understands the space was more than just a slab of real estate, it was a temple where tons of music fans like myself went to worship the thing holiest to them: music.

If you're not in NYC - or couldn't get tickets, here is a link to where the Roseland's last show will be broadcast tonight, starting at 9pm ET right HERE.

Posted below are some of the stubs I found from my history with the venue. If you look at the dates, you'll notice one of my many Slayer shows was less than 24 hours from a remarkable Hole show during the Live Through This period.

RIP Roseland, I'll always have my memories... and dozens of ticket stubs.

The rest of my iPhone pics of Gaga's show (including the moment she climbed a rose-encrusted ladder - in heels - up to VIP to serenade Tony Bennett) can be found here.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Donate to SxSW Cares

UPDATE: There's been a fourth casualty. An 18-year-old named De’Andre Tatum passed away on March 27. He joins victims Steven Craenmehr (35), Jamie Ranae West (27) and Jamie Ranae West (26).

The four senseless deaths that occurred at South by Southwest this year hit me harder than even the Harlem building collapse that happened so much closer to home. All I kept thinking was, "it could have been me or any of my friends."

Now, the people behind SxSW have set up a charity portal where folks can help the remaining 22 victims who were hurt with their medical bills and more. I urge you all to join me in making a donation here, at

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

New Eyehategod Music

Last night, the boys in Eyehategod debuted this lyric video [pardon] for the rather uptempo "Agitation! Propaganda!" and it's pretty bitchin'. Right around the 1:40 mark is when stuff slows down and some good Bower Power riffage comes through. A good presage of things to come.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

In Defense of South by Southwest

We're in the throes of South by Southwest season and surely if you're in some way a music or media fan (or check social media even occasionally), reports about it are pretty hard to ignore. And in more recent years, people have actively started to make an armchair sport of mocking how overblown and commercial SxSW has become.

Yes, it IS incredibly commercial. I roll my eyes every time I read an insane announcement about how the iTunes Festival is setting up shop and bringing Coldplay and Pitbull. It totally tickles me to think about Lady Gaga playing the Doritos stage, which in past years has been modeled to look like a giant vending machine. And please believe I'd pay to have access to a Judge stage-dive cam for their throwdown for Converse.

But you know what? I'd still go back in a second if it fit into my schedule. My experience with the Austin-based culture extravaganza extends only to attending the music portion several times over. I've never really done the tech or movie parts (despite having access) because of time constraints and to spare the health of my liver and kidneys.

Here's the thing, though: in all my many years of going, I've never had a bad time. Whatever type of music you're a fan of, you'll likely find it. There are literally thousands of artists that descend upon the city for your entertainment. And you have the nerve to complain that these acts are picking up some corporate exposure along the way?

Sure, my experience is biased as a member of the press. I've never had to load in or find parking around closed streets flooded with jaded day-drunks. (FYI: I'm saving all my intoxication, band and make-out stories for the inevitable book.) But are you seriously willing to tell me that hanging outside in (usually) warm weather, drinking a free beer while watching an endless array of bands is a BAD thing? Buddy, you've got problems.

So after reading and hearing so much dumb smack-talk over the last few years, I present my reasons of why you should stop complaining about SxSW.

In Defense of SxSW in Five Gripes:

Ooh, SxSW is So Lame! When Have I Gone? Never
Those who actively denounce SxSW but have never attended can just step over to the left and STFU. It comes off petty. All that shit-talk sounds like embitterment because you've never been connected, adventurous or intrepid enough to make your way in. Hell, even without any kind of pass, bracelet, credential or guest list, ANYONE can catch free music, eat (good) free food and drink free beer if you resolve to get in the thick of it and show up in Austin.

Not Liking SxSW is Kind of Un-American
Think about the tenets this country and the Peoples Republic of Texas are founded on: loud music, ever-flowing beer, cool breezes and seared meat. Guess what? That's pretty much what you're in for at SxSW. And since Austin is home to Whole Foods, chances are there will be a veggie option. You're going to tell me that this is a TERRIBLE proposition? Time to move to Canada and attend NxNE instead.

There's No Discovery Because People Are Busy Watching A-List Acts
Sure, your editor might expect you to cover the huge marquee performance, and that might conflict with the set time of the new band you're dying to check out. Luckily, said unknown band probably has five gigs at SxSW, so you can do BOTH. Or if you're not obsessed with being the humble-bragger, pick a lesser marquee act that you've always wanted to see but haven't. A few years back when Metallica was headlining Stubb's, I decided to go check out Devo for the first time and my mind was blown. Then I probably went off to see some metal band stomp all over Emo's.

There are literally opportunities to see music each day from noon until 4am - day party to after party - the great alpha and omega of South by Southwest. Even without trying hard, I've probably caught 35-50 acts per trip, with plenty of eating and schmoozing in between. Remember the time there was a Profound Lore showcase, followed by a jaunt to see Panic! At the Disco before grabbing a Sausage King dog and hopping in a pedi-cab to see Eyehategod and Pentagram play a huge field? I fuckin' do. That was also the same day I caught The Kills and Havok back to back. Yes, folks, you CAN see it all.

It's Way Too Commerical
In a one-block radius, I once scored Mountain Dew sunglasses, a remarkably soft Rolling Stone T-shirt to sleep in and a much-needed chicken burrito from a truck with Danny Trejo's visage and the Shady Records logo painted on it. Why? Why the hell not!? It was there and marketing is everything. Might as well suck on that teet and save your food money for drugs and bartender tips.

SxSW is Too Impersonal
Ooh, I can't get into this panel and see my favorite NPR commentator or the kid I know from Twitter.... I'm gonna call bullshit right here. Since Austin is smack-dab in the middle of the country, people from LA and NY (and all those other places in between, even from across the world) attend, making it a wonderful place to rub elbows with tastemakers, potential employers and the dorks you had flame-wars with in the Geocities days.

Still not convinced? Not much more I'm willing to say. But at least do yourself a favor and live through SxSW once before shrugging it off. As Albert Einstein put it, "The only source of knowledge is experience."

Zena T

PS: Want to see who've I've seen? Some SxSW galleries HERE and HERE.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Dan Lilker's Swan Song

I must admit, I was surprised to see the following post from my old buddy, Dan Lilker. When I think of metal lifers, he's one of the first I picture. And unlike many of his contemporaries, he's somehow maintained his passion for the scene without picking up any of the hardened embitterment so associated with pioneers who never quite hit it big. I'll definitely miss seeing him at various fests, but respect the hell out of him for getting out on his own terms.

It looks like Brutal Truth is a wrap, but Danny's and their legacy will continue.

"A Message From Dan Lilker

I regret to inform Brutal Truth fans that as of October 18th, 2014, I will be retiring from being a full time recording and touring musician. That date is my 50th birthday, so I chose it symbolically as a significant milestone to make such a weighty decision. As a lot of you know, I've been an active member of the metal scene since the early 80s with the thrash metal bands I've been in before the formation of Brutal Truth in 1990, and I'm simply just tired of the rigors of touring mostly. Unlike some of my peers from the 80's who went on to sell millions of records I have always been drawn to extreme underground metal. I don't care about staying in 5 star hotels and having a big cushy tour bus but I am getting tired of squeezing into a van for 8 hours after all these years on the road. I have always played what I believe in and that is been priority #1, but the time has come to have a little bit more stability in my life.

Brutal Truth will still be active on the touring front until mid-October and will aim to do as much as we can in the next 9 months or so. After that, I will still have creative output with my 2 local bands in Rochester NY, Nokturnal Hellstorm and Blurring and do the occasional project tour, but yes, as of mid-October, Brutal Truth will no longer exist. I do realize that will be an extreme disappointment to all the grind freaks out there that have supported this band so rabidly all these years, and your enthusiasm will always have a special place in my heart, but I've made my decision, and I hope everyone can respect that.

Thanks, Dan Lilker"

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A Very Megadeth Christmas

Leave it to Jimmy Kimmel to get Megadeth to be funny. For real. Watch the amusing holiday skit they did for last night's show, replete with a scared-off Jenny Lewis. As one YouTube commenter noted, it's "still better than Super Collider." Watch!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Red Fang's Boozing Dead Video

A few weeks back, I was lucky enough to cap off my New Orleans trip by seeing old favorites Red Fang perform at the local dive, Siberia. It's really exciting to see them do so well after championing them for so long.

How well? The hilarious video (below) for "Blood Like Cream"—featuring Portlandia star Fred Armisen and plenty of product placement—premiered on Rolling Stone's site yesterday. And I'll bet it's the track they'll perform when they're the musical guest on Late Night with David Letterman! That's right, the bros will be on the January 10th show. (And I *know* they'll totally hook me up with passes.)