For my year in review, I decided to compile a list of top threes for various categories. I hope you enjoy my wrap-up of 2017.
Three Unforgettable Concerts
1. Ghost at the Warfield
I love the Warfield in San Francisco. It’s a beautiful, mid-sized venue in downtown. The service is always polite and there is ample parking.Word through the grapevine (AKA Mr. Billy Vanilla) was that Ghost had something special planned for the SF crowd. Fans speculated… A secret acoustic show? Playing songs not on the original set-list? A longer set? Well, little did we know (though in hindsight it all makes sense) the entire concert was recorded for their live release “Ceremony and Devotion.”
The night was extremely magically because not only did Ghost put on a spectacular set, but I met the majority of the band after the show.
As I listen to “Ceremony and Devotion,” I get emotional thinking about how amazing the show was and what a spectacular night I had. (Side Note: This was also the first time I saw Ghost perform without having an alcohol in my system. And I think I liked it better not being slightly buzzed.)
2. Davey Suicide at the Catalyst
I already wrote a review for this concert, which can be found here: Davey Suicide Review
What I really want to emphasize is that if you have not heard of this band and/or have not seen them live, I highly recommend that you do. Davey Suicide is a band of consummate performers. I was thoroughly pleased with their performance, amazing music, and spectacular stage show.
3. Ghost at the Rainbow Ballroom
Fucking Fresno. What the fuck was Tobias Forge thinking when he agreed to play a show in Fucking Fresno?! In the middle of the summer?!
Let me set the stage for you:
It’s 105 degrees during the day and cools to a crisp 92 degrees in the evening. The venue has no air conditioning, just fans that swirl the moist, sticky, humid air. The sweat that was pouring off of me BEFORE the show started was ridiculous.
The venue looked and felt like a time warp. I felt like I’d stepped back into a 70’s discotheque. The used-used-to-be vibrant colours are fading and cracking… and yes, the Rainbow Ballroom does in fact have a disco ball dangling from the ceiling. (I shit you not.) You couldn’t buy a drink until you bought a coupon which meant you had to stand in line twice. Only to find out that they don’t serve coke at the venue, just pepsi. My jack and coke became a jack and pepsi, or what I like to call a Jack-Ass.
When Ghost came on though, it seems like all the heat and frustration was forgotten. For a small stage and a small-ish venue, they gave it 110%. And I give them credit. I was in a tank top. They were dressed in heavy costumes under heavy lighting. I don’t know how they didn’t just pass out.
Top 3 New Artists (New to the Scene/New to Me)
Diamond Black has released one song, ONE SONG, and I’m absolutely in love. All I’m going to say is if you haven’t heard “Sorrow” you are missing out on life. So check them out. I’m not going to gush on and on about them because I already do that on facebook and instagram and twitter.
Blutengel is a German “dark wave” band. (Please don’t ask me what that means.) I first heard about Blutengel by watching old TV of the Lost episodes. I decided to check out the band and see what was up. To me, Blutengel is like if Depeche Mode and HIM had a baby. It’s kinda synth-y, pop, with dark lyrics and themes. Plus the lead singer and founder, Chris Pohl, is hot AF.
I highly recommend the following videos/songs:
3. Priest and Henrik Palm (Tie)
I keep most of my opinions regarding the lawsuit between certain band members to myself because I don’t want to get into a “he said, she said” fight. What I will say is that as a result of said lawsuit, we have gotten some absolutely AMAZING music. Henrik Palm released his solo album, Many Days, and we saw Simon “Alpha” Soderberg produce a new electronic band Priest. Both defy the expectations of musicians coming from said certain band in that specific genre. But honestly, Priest’s New Flesh is a great mix of new plus 80’s synth pop and if it were at all possible, I’d marry Henrik Palm’s Many Days.
I think the big takeaway from this is that ALL of those musicians (no matter what side of the argument you are on) are extremely talented. Let’s appreciate the beautiful music that they are bringing us and let them fight it out behind closed doors.
Top 3 Returning Artists (Artists I Rekindled My Romance With)
1. Lord of the Lost
Lord of the Lost has been a band in heavy rotation for me over the past 5 years. Over the summer, as I was migrating from Ghost concert to Ghost concert, they somehow fell to the wayside.
The versatility of Lord of the Lost has always impressed me. On October 6th, Lord of the Lost released their highly anticipated follow up to Swan Songs, Swan Songs II. Being willing to push boundaries and experiment with their sound, the second classical ensemble album was a breathe of fresh air. It helped me to rekindle my romance with the German Dark Rock band. I found myself delving back into their earlier works and listening to the subtle changes in their sound and content.
2. Aesthetic Perfection
I’ve been listening to Aesthetic Perfection off and on for about 3 years now. But early this year, Daniel Graves posted a youtube video about the costs and expenses of touring. His honesty and sincerity regarding the issue really struck a chord with me. That integrity inspired me to delve deeper into the world of Aesthetic Perfection.
That push led me to refresh and form a stronger relationship with Aesthetic Perfection and Daniel Graves.
3. No Doubt
In junior high and high school, I was a rabid No Doubt fan. Sadly, after Rock Steady, I kinda gave up on the band. They followed their hearts and passions, but the music just didn’t do anything for me. I missed the ska-infused pop-rock they were so well known for. Gwen Stefani’s solo work was too poppy and too happy for me. I couldn’t stand the bubble-gum-ish-ness of her solo work. Eventually No Doubt fell out of rotation.
Then by happenstance, I was watching one of those ‘90’s Nostalgia videos on Facebook. In the midst of all the boy bands and Britney’s was “Don’t Speak” by No Doubt. I remembered how much I loved Tragic Kingdom and Return of Saturn. I put those two albums on and haven’t looked back since. These albums were truly their best works and even after 10 years of absence in my playlist, I still know all the words to all the songs.
Three Biggest Surprises of 2017
1. Making New Friends
Besides giving me massive migraines, the Ghost fandom did give me something spectacular. It gave me two new friends to share, commiserate, and fangirl with. . Our friendship is one that formed through varying interests in music. Diana and I met via facebook and met in-person at the disasterous wonder that was #FuckingFresno. Angela rounded us out through facebook groups and the tweety box. Now, it feels weird to go even a day without checking in with each other. Even though we are far apart, it feels like we’ve been friends forever.
2. Supporting Daniel Graves on Patreon
I was always a “fair-weather” fan of Aesthetic Perfection until this year. I have become increasingly impressed by Daniel Graves music and work ethic. Towards the end of 2017, Graves announced he was going to put himself on Patreon.
I’ve always been kinda skeptical of these sites that collect money. I always wonder How big of a scam is this? and Do the artists actually see any of this money? Knowing what I know about Daniel Graves and his business acumen, I don’t think he would jump into anything where he would potentially lose a lot of money. I did some research and decided to support Graves on Patreon. This has probably been one of the best decisions I’ve made this year.
Not only am I supporting an artist I believe in, but I actually feel good about it. I feel like he is putting my money to good use. Graves is also very active on his Patreon page, taking suggestions from supporters and keeping us updated almost weekly. On top of this, I chose to support Graves at his highest level. Every month Graves holds a “hangout session.” During these hangout sessions, Graves talks with us about anything and everything. He makes whiskey recommendations, shares the adventures of his cat Mara, and pretty much answers anything we ask. It’s a special kinda perk that really shows me that he actually cares.
3. Jan-Vincent Velasco Drumming Videos
All I can say about these drumming videos is: If Jan-Vincent Velasco stops posting these videos, I dunno how I’m gonna get myself going in the morning.
Because of the time difference from England to California, most of his videos appear right around the time I have to get up for work. Watching Velasco drum with such passion really gets me motivated to face the day. Plus he’s just an amazing drummer with some really luscious locks.
My favorite video to date is an 18+ minute video of Velasco drumming while his friend Ben Higgins plays various guitar riffs mimicking some of the great guitar legends. Watching Velasco adapt his style so quickly to each guitar riff really shows the immense talent that he possesses.
Three Biggest Disappointments
1. Lord of the Lost Denied Entry into the US
After being a fan for over 5 years, I was super stoked to learn that Lord of the Lost would be touring the US in support of KMFDM. I was finally going to be able to see and possibly meet the members of my favorite band. I bought tickets to 4 shows, intending to go on a mini-tour of my own. Vegas, San Diego, LA, and finally SF.
Much to my surprise, a month before the tour was to launch, Lord of the Lost announced via facebook that they had been denied entry to the US. Despite hiring lawyers, producing massive amounts of paperwork, and spending countless hours gathering documentation, the US denied them work visas. This meant at the very last moment, they had to pull out of the tour. I was so saddened and dismayed to learn that I would not get to experience their live shows and meet the men responsible for some of my favorite music of all time.
2. Corey Taylor’s New Book
Previously, I wrote a review for Corey Taylor’s first book Seven Deadly Sins. This book was so amazingly written, that I subsequently purchased all his other books. A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Heaven was intriguing, but not anything I’d race to read again. I chalk that up to the sophomore slump most writers endure. You’re Making Me Hate You was so relatable. I thoroughly enjoyed discovering that a lot of the things that vexed me also vexed Taylor. When Taylor announced his fourth book America 51, I quickly pre-ordered it and waited for its arrival.
What a disappointment. I can’t get past page 10 of this book. The title is so misleading. Even Taylor’s description is misleading. I was expecting a book that discussed various cover-ups and conspiracy theories. Instead, I was met with a Taylor Tirade about Trump winning the election.
Look Corey, we’re all upset the cheeto won the election. But I don’t want to hear about it over and over again. Venting does not solve a problem. Sure it makes you feel better, but actions speak louder than words.