Archive for the ‘Rhetoric’ Category

Headed into the mountains until further notice.
Wish me luck.
Please stand by…



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Photo by Jason Ashcraft

You wanna know what Forecastle Festival is like? Ok. It’s a little something like this: Music. Art(ists). Ecology. Louisville-lovers. Dirty hippie dudes. Dirty hippie dames. Beardos. Rollie Fingers’ staches. Dreadlocks. Tye-dye. Bassheads. Potheads. River-bathers. Burlesque performances. Tree-huggers. Socialists. Liberals. Journalists. Hacky-sack circles. Sweaty people drinking PBR. Sweaty people making out. Sweaty people drinking PBRs and making out. Teenage make-shift obstacle hurdlers. Pervasive Mary Jane aromas. Muhammad Ali portraits in the head. The Mayor in VIP.

Yep, this is how it went down on the banks of the Ohio River when more than 35,000 people jumbled together to celebrate Louisville, right below its own skyline in Waterfront Park. And, yes, this was a city government-endorsed event as Mayor Fischer was present to once again welcome My Morning Jacket with Forecastle Festival founder JK McKnight. Whereas some city governments shun music festivals like these, Louisville’s embraces it.

Things have really evolved culturally in this town over the last couple decades, and Forecastle just may be one, if not the main, instigator of said evolution. It’s living, breathing, naked proof that people from many different backgrounds, beliefs and races can coexist together in a way that promotes unity, cultural awareness, activism and freedom with music as the unifying stimulus.

With music being one of the biggest aspects of the festival, here is the rundown of the artists ranked from best to worst in my own opinion.

My Morning Jacket

Jim James – Photo by Kate Eldridge (www.KateEldridge.com)

I don’t have a clue where to freaking begin here. Why? Because last May 2011, when the band released Circuital at Louisville’s Palace Theatre I said that MMJ gave the greatest performance they could ever give. Now here I am, again, both eating my words and again saying, “MMJ gave the greatest performance they could ever give at Forecastle.” Not to mention the best performance – by far – of the entire damn festival. Exactly as they planned to.

In a recent interview with MMJ bassist Two-Tone Tommy, he promised that “surprises” were in store, and the first came only two songs in when the big brass backing of Preservation Hall Jazz Band joined them for a crowd-pleasing version of “Holdin’ Onto Black Metal.”

Keeping the set eclectic, they played songs from virtually their entire discography, opening with “The Dark” and busting out mesmerizing versions of “The Bear,” “Anytime,” “Smoking From Shooting,” “Steam Engine,” and crowd favorites, including“Wordless Chorus” and an Andrew Bird-accompanied version of “Gideon.”

They also logged killer covers of Elton John’s “Rocket Man,” George Harrison’s “Isn’t It a Pity,” The Band’s “It Makes No Difference,” and an encore performance of George Michael’s “Careless Whisper” in which Jim delivered a message from George Michael himself, while tossing bananas to the audience and hilariously adjusting the lyrics to suit the occasion.

I wouldn’t be surprised if that cover perpetuated the sale of a few more George Michaels’ albums on iTunes post-show from all those youngins, who were wondering what the hell they just heard. Hey kids, just like Jim mentioned during a mid-song instrumental break, “George Michaels gets a lot of shit, but he is a fucking genius.” Truer words never spoken.

Once the banana tossing concluded, and with Forecastle’s First-mate saluting the audience from side-stage, former MMJ guitarist Johnny Quaid (of Ravenna Colt) emerged from backstage to play a rambunctious version of “One Big Holiday.” With that, the stage came alive as human-propelled animal and fish props became part of the stage show and provided the last of many “holy shit” moments for the evening.

Sleeper Agent

Now here is a band with a lot of charisma and a seemingly bright future ahead of them — that is — if they keep giving performances like they did at Forecastle. Make no mistake folks, lead singer Alex Kandel is the star in this band as she danced, headbanged and pushed her way around stage with fellow bandmates, flipping her hair from one side to the next every five steps.

Sleeper Agent – Photo by Kate Eldridge (www.KateEldridge.com)

I guess Guitarist Tony Smith figured he, too, needed to get a little wicked, electing to jump offstage and crowd-surf till he was dropped. He quickly jumped back to his feet and climbed back onstage to carry on.

The Bowling Green, Kentuckians logged rowdy live performances of “Get Burned,” “Get It Daddy” and “Proper Taste,” all from their debut album Celebrasion. If these little young Kentucky lads are to have some more big shows in their future, then all they gotta do is keep doing what they did at Forecastle. Their crowd was one of the biggest of the smaller two stages. Next time, they should get a bigger stage because I’m betting they will hold their own on a stage of any size.  

Ben Sollee

Ben Sollee – Photo by Kate Eldridge (www.KateEldridge.com)

Kentucky’s cello-rocker Ben Sollee is a one-man orchestra onstage. Offstage, he’s a seemingly passive, small-framed guy, who almost looks like a scientist or a high school math teacher. But don’t be fooled, because he once again shattered that subtle image the moment he took stage and masterfully blended elements of classical and out-right jamming styles of sound from his cello. He adds in some soulful vocals and sometimes plays with vicious intent and a lot of passion.

Not even a 10-minute late start due to a technical glitch slowed him down on his Sunday evening performance, nor did it decrease the size of his audience, which eagerly awaited him to start plucking and strumming that cello with his bow. Once he started, Sollee quickly captured his audience with his passion in both personality and showmanship. His one-hour set flew by, and I found myself having to cut-out about 15 minutes early to see another equally impressive band getting ready to start.


“Hat’s off to My Morning Jacket for their great taste in music!” says Clutch lead singer Neil Fallon, who selfishly joked at mid-set about their invitation to play. But he’s right, especially if you’re fan of good ole’ dirty and stripped-down rock ‘n’ roll, which is a music style that’s not the norm at Forecastle.

Clutch – Photo by Kate Eldridge (www.KateEldridge.com)

Filling the Boom Stage’s lawn with a couple thousand people, Clutch played cuts from their entire catalog. Opening with “Gravel Road” and closing with “One Eye Dollar,” Clutch delivered a set that spanned their 20-year career in music, including high-energy versions of their more popular hits like “50,000 Unstoppable Watts” and “Electric Worry,” yet strangely left out “The Mob Goes Wild.” Damn. Maybe next time.

Ochestre Poly-Rythmo

These Afrobeat and funk pioneers were probably one of the most under-anticipated acts playing in the entire festival. These guys have been playing together for decades but added a hip international flair unlike previous years. Although they’ve been jamming out since the ‘60s, this was only their second trip to the U.S.

Orchestre Poly-Rythmo – Photo by Jason Ashcraft

About an equal amount of time was shared between instrumental play and the soulful French-African vocals of lead singer Amenoudji Joseph Vicky, who spoke to the audience during and in-between songs.

After his performance, I actually had the chance to speak with Vicky on things like the meaning of his music, who some of his musical influences are, and even got a little political, quizzing him on his thoughts on President Obama and our country’s political system.

Speaking in his native French tongue and with a little help from Poly Rythmo’s interpreter and U.S. Manager, Elodie, Vicky was candid and entertaining to listen to. I just wish he had broken out a peace pipe on me. Oh well.

Moon Taxi

This is one band I hadn’t actually planned on seeing, but that I just happened to stumble upon while waiting to see Cabin at the next stage over. I gotta say I’m definitely glad I did, because the guys were totally balls-out rock ‘n’ roll with enough energy radiating off the stage to keep their audience growing through the set.

Now I didn’t recognize any of their original music, but they belted out one mean cover of The Who’s “Teenage Wasteland,” which stopped a few would-be passerbys dead in their tracks as they made their way to the stage.


Cabin with Ben Sollee – Photo by Kate Eldridge (www.KateEldridge.com)

One of several Louisville-based indie rock acts took the stage on a muggy Sunday evening to a rather shy and undersized crowd. Lead singer Noah Hewett-Ball has a calm, cool and collected demeanor onstage that seems to carry over with most of their music as a band.

One of their more catchy tunes they played, “A Lie Worth Believing,” just happened to bring out cello extraordinaire, Ben Sollee, for a little eclectic addition to an already catchy song. Much to the modest crowd’s appeasement, Keyboard and Violinist Sarah Beth Welder wasn’t shy about admitting that “I got to knock something off my bucket list by playing with Ben Sollee.”


The country punk rockers make their Forecastle return, this time with less bugs up in their grills. Yep, the last time they played Forecastle in 2010 Lucero was swarmed by big river flies that spoiled their performance a little. Not this time, though, instead they were swarmed with a steady fan base.

Frontman Ben Nichols’ gritty and countryfied vocals charmed the couple thousand fans, who weren’t in short supply of being fond for alt-southern sounds that makes Lucero iconic.

Lucero – Photo by Kate Eldridge (www.KateEldridge.com)

Promoting their latest album Women & Work, Nichols and band jammed out the title track to an eager audience. And it wouldn’t be a true Lucero show if they didn’t play “Nights Like These” and “Kiss the Bottle,” which Nichols refers to as his “jaw breaking song.”

Preservation Hall Jazz Band

The pride of New Orlean’s zydeco-jazz music culture stormed into Louisville — almost literally. Staying true to Preservation Hall’s reputation of never hosting a performance in the rain, the day’s storms cleared out of Louisville just in time. Some things never change, I guess.

Preservation Hall Jazz Band with Jim James – Photo by Kate Eldridge (www.KateEldridge.com)

Just as everyone anticipated, Jim James took the stage for a cabaret-like sing-a-long with Bourbon Street’s brass kings. And somehow at the end of that boisterous performance, James was holding a broken mic stand. Figure that one out for me.

Ravenna Colt

Johnny Quaid – Photo by Kate Eldridge (www.KateEldridge.com)

Who would’ve ever known that frontman Johnny Quaid actually had something more exciting in store than his own band’s performance at Forecastle? Not even me. Just a few hours after a bit of a mundane performance with his band Ravenna Colt, Quaid joined his former bandmates in My Morning Jacket onstage for what had to be the highlight of his night.

Ravenna Colt has some decent songs, thanks to Quaid’s obvious ear for sound, but their presentation needs some work. Many of their songs don’t warrant an energetic performance; the band just didn’t seem to be inspired by the music they were playing.

“South of Ohio” is one song they played that warrants a feather in his hat, but a bleak crowd seemed to detract from the performance.


From Bruce Springsteen to Outkast to Black Sabbath, etc., etc. All laced with a steady backbeat. Ok, this guy reminded me of this loud-mouth, yet like-able, drunken club DJ that I used to work with in college in Richmond, Ky.
This dude pressed a damn button every so often on his laptop, yelled through his microphone “How y’all doing?” a few times and then staggered around like a boozed up ADHD patient all night — sometimes being away from his “instrument” for extended periods of time. Sure, he was a fun guy who “breaks out the jams” and entertains the chemically induced masses. But let’s be clear; I never considered this drunken bastard “talented.” Know what I mean?

GirlTalk – Photo by Kate Eldridge (www.KateEldridge.com)

Final thoughts…

It’s safe to say that this year’s Forecastle Festival topped everyone’s expectations, even my own. I admit that one of my first worries with all the amped up hype was that there would be an equally amped up Police force and security team ready to spoil the fun. As it turned out, however, and much to everyone’s appreciation, that wasn’t the case. They were seemingly respectful of the fans.

Photo by Jason Ashcraft

I mean, let’s face it; you can’t have the police dragging away a bunch of teenage and 20-something potheads for passing around doobies. Not when the Mayor just came off stage from amping them up and hanging out in VIP. That wouldn’t look good, now would it?

In all seriousness, well done LMPD and Axis Security! You see? You guys still brought home the same amount of pay, maintained the safety of all festival-goers and didn’t have to break a sweat or someone’s arm while doing it. Hopefully, you guys now realize that all those pot-smoking, music-junkie hippie kids aren’t really interested in bringing harm to anyone or anything. Nah. All they really want to do is get another polish sausage to suffice their munchies, dance in circles to a My Morning Jacket or Dr. Dog song, and maybe learn how to burn a few less fossil fuels in their daily lives. So, thank you for allowing this to happen. Peacefully.

** This review also published at LouisvilleKY.com and PerformerMag.com

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How exactly do you sum up a city whose unorthodox culture has bred an equally diverse music scene? Like this: Louisville is named after King Louis XVI, the beheaded French tyrant, whose concrete likeness still graces the city square. It’s a city that manufactures the wooden weapons for America’s greatest pastime. It’s also the host the world’s most decadent and depraved equine sporting event, The Kentucky Derby, which also brings through some of the year’s best live shows.

It’s a city that gave birth to a man simply known as “The Greatest” and another one simply known as “Gonzo.” From Muhammad Ali to My Morning Jacket, Darrell Griffith to Days of the New, Rick Pitino to Nappy Roots or Hunter S. Thompson to, umm, FLAW, this is Louisville.


1386 Lexington Rd.
Louisville, KY 40206
(502) 584-8088
— The city’s best room sound-wise, it also plays host to many of the nation’s best touring acts that frequent Louisville.

1025 Barret Ave.
Louisville, KY 40204
(502) 582-2433
— Part tribute to Louisville’s art scene and Hunter S. Thompson, this bar hosts a crazy array of musicians and patrons with a multitude of personalities, just like HST would’ve probably expected.

422 West Oak St.
Louisville, KY 40203
(502) 636-1311
— One of the longer established live music joints, “The Rud” as many locals call it, is still frequented by a number of long-time area favorites.

1017 E. Broadway
Louisville, KY 40204
(502) 657-9555
— A small downtown club that hosts one-man bands to five-man bands (comfortably) and has made itself known for supporting the local indie music scene.

2100 South Preston St.
Louisville, KY 40217
(502) 635-9227
— On the northern fringe of Germantown, you’ll find this hip little bar where loud rock and roll and PBR reign supreme. Usually.

*Venues to avoid: Phoenix Hill Tavern, Jim Porter’s, 3rd Street Dive & Wick’s Pizza


2600 West Broadway
Louisville, KY 40211
(502) 774-9909
— Somehow, this little record store stays open with virtually no website or digital storefront for its patrons. Just the brick and mortar on Broadway.

2003 Highland Ave.
Louisville, KY 40204
(502) 485-0174
— Known for hard-to-find vinyl, this low-key landmark has survived the digital age while staying true to its nostalgic business model.


1610 Bardstown Rd.
Louisville, KY 40205
(502) 459-4153
— This specialty shop boasts a wide selection of strings and is frequented by many touring artists who’ve got a gig in the Highlands.

1209 Durrett Ln.
Louisville, KY 40213
(502) 368-4300
— Owner Jeff Gomez and company provide a full-service repair and support department for musicians in addition to new and used equipment sales.


301 East Main Street, Suite 201
Louisville, KY 40202
— Founded by Congressman John Yarmuth in 1989, this little weekly alternative pub still reigns supreme for music lovers of the weird and other liberal radicals of all sorts.

91.9 WFPK
619 S. Fourth Street
Louisville, KY 40202
— As one of Louisville’s only thriving radio stations, this little public FM station has built a reputation for supporting the independent music scene. It’s a refreshing alternative to what’s traditionally been dominated by the corporate Clear Channel radio market.

To download the digital version of this issue, click the Performer cover below:

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As I walked through the entrance gate of Brooklyn’s Marcy Ave subway station, en-route to Occupy Wall Street, I was barraged from above by soft warm splashes of strategically placed pigeon shit. Yep, my shoulder and chest was splatted. The little bastard was up in the rafters just waiting for me as I stepped out of the entrance carousel.

“Fuck, I hate this place!” I immediately yelled out as I squared off and contemplated throwing my half-full can of sugar free Red Bull at the sniper shitting pigeon that was only 5 feet away. Easy retaliation was imminent but not administered believe it or not.

Maybe this was some sort of sign from beyond hinting that something just wasn’t exactly right about my Saturday night midnight plus excursion to Occupy Wall Street for the first time. In reality it was just another annoying, yet typical bullshit aspect you must accept when going to a slum like New York City. Regardless, with gas mask, photo and video camera in-hand I carry on.

Opting to take a cab from the next subway station, I arrived at Occupy Wall Street near the 12:45 AM hour Sunday morning. The scene was pretty calm (more than I expected, actually) upon arrival except for a few people standing around in small circles outside the entrance to Liberty Square.

NYPD officers were randomly scattered about and there was this big George Orwell 1984’ish watch tower, but other than that, they didn’t have to much of a domineering presence. I’m not really sure what I expected for arriving on a Saturday night past midnight for the first time, but I’m sure as hell this wasn’t it. Yes, my timing wasn’t optimal for a first experience, I acknowledge that, but I got there as soon as I could.

It only took me about 2 hours to figure out that there are a few to many people who are potentially giving the movement a bad wrap in the hearts and minds of random passer-byres like myself.

Take for example a group of young 20-something year-olds shouting “Don’t be that guy, man, don’t be that guy!” as they held a small bucket out asking for monetary donations. Donations for what I wondered? But no explanation ever came. Just redundant requests to “not being that guy.” How the fuck am I (or anyone for that matter) supposed to make sense of that? If you’re going to ask for money at a protest, you damn well better be able to clearly convey what you’re donating your money to and how the monetary contribution is being used to bring the change the protest intends. Someone needs to get these dumb-asses unaffiliated with the movement is all I could conclude.

I guess on some level I expected 100% of those actually “camped out“ in Liberty Square to have, at bare-minimum, a semi-educated and well rounded message to convey about what we all know to be a very legitimate reason for what they’re protesting against in the first place. They just need the right people on the front lines that is able to convince the general public that this is to be taken seriously and everyone should join in.

The problem is that not enough of the right people are involved in the shaping and leading of this movement. Everyone wants it to work, and bring about change, but there is just the wrong kind of people that is giving the occupation a bit of a bad reputation.

Occupy Wall Street isn’t about getting handouts. It’s not just a bunch of hippie kids who are jealous of successful people. They’re not communists or socialists. So don’t buy into what the corporate media tries to brainwash you with. Especially all you Fox News zombies who live in the big Republican-fabricated bubble of misreported propaganda.

Occupy Wall Street is a revolt against a very small number of bankers, politicians, and corporate elitists (aka the 1%) who’ve been in bed together for years now. These powerful few have been systematically fucking-over honest and hard working Americans for decades. All of this NOT in the name of capitalism, but in the name of fulfilling their excessively greedy and gluttonous it’s-never-enough douche-bag mentality. Yes, these people do exist and this is why Occupy Wall Street exists.

Don’t get me wrong. There were a few people scattered about in Liberty Square that had their shit together and who were maintaining a minor amount of organization, cleanliness, and well educated perspectives. Just not enough.

Perhaps my expectations were too high and I didn’t spend enough time at Liberty Square to get the full jest of things. Perhaps.

Occupy Wall Street still has much more evolving and refining to be done, and honing of their message. They need a leader. Someone they can all get behind. It’s only two months old and they’ve only scratched the surface so far of what they’re capable of and what they’ll become.

With the recent eviction of the protesters from Liberty Square by NYPD last Tuesday, and other places around the world, Occupy Wall Street will only gain momentum and more supporters. The general public should realize the Police-State that Mayor Bloomberg has ordered into existence in NYC where the NYPD’s main motivation is to suppress and censor the people’s 1st Constitutional right to assemble and protest. Soon NYPD will back themselves into a corner where they will face a situation where they will have to really decide who they are working for and protecting. Which crowd do they want to join? The 99% or the 1%? Would they rather potentially face the same outcome as what has transpired at Tahir Square in Egypt? Is that situation they are going to force onto the occupy protesters and the general public with their Nazi-like policing tactics?

And do some of our nation’s elected politicians, greedy bankers and corporate titans want to meet the same demise as, say, King Louie XVI of France did in 1789? Or perhaps what the Bolsheviks revolted against and accomplished in 1917? Or virtually any other similar historical circumstance that has duplicated itself over and over again throughout the course of human civilization. It will all end the same. History repeats itself!

So if the Occupy movements are the beginning of America’s next revolution then maybe all that needs to happen – that is if this peaceful attempt to bring about change doesn’t work out – is for a few Vladimir Lenin’s to emerge from the 99%, a few King Louie XVI’s to be identified from the 1%, a few massive human stampedes, and maybe even a few guillotines brought out, and change is well on its way. That is of course if the 1% is not willing to change the system while things are still being “peacefully” requested.

If you think this perspective is barbaric or too extreme, then I ask you to consider the words of wisdom that our founding fathers like Jefferson & Washington said long ago on this situation, and then ask yourself if you’re really a true “patriot” of this country and believer in Democracy. 

“All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.”
– Thomas Jefferson

“The basis of our political system is the right of the people to make and to alter their constitutions of government.”
– George Washington

“I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies.”
– Thomas Jefferson

“The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”
– Thomas Jefferson

A few photos taken by me on Sunday 11/6:

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To say Hunter S. Thompson was in a league of his own would be a bit of an understatement. Thompson, a Louisville native, and creator of Gonzo Journalism, was known for his many antics. Journalistically speaking; for inserting himself into his own stories and actually becoming part of the assignment. Thompson would thrill seek and risk-take his way through many of his assignments, often times hyped up on his substance of choice in the process. He was a lover of guns, drugs, booze and women. He didn’t trust the government, or hardly anyone else for that matter. He rode with the Hells Angels, followed and insulted Richard Nixon on the campaign trail, and even ran for Sheriff in Aspen, Colorado, almost winning. Thompson was a bit of mad man to say the least. A working rage-a-holic. One whose mission was to redefine the very concept of professional journalism by unseating as many of his readers and editors as he possibly could in the process. Mission accomplished if you ask me.

Hunter Thompson’s legacy will be celebrated this Saturday, Ocotber 15 at the 2nd Annual Gonzofest at The Monkey Wrench in the Highlands. You’ll get a heavy dose of live music from both national recording artists & Louisville artists, along with poets, authors, visual artists and Congressman John Yarmuth. WFPK’s Kyle Meredith will emcee the organized chaos.

Musically speaking, headlining this year’s event is Athens, Georgia-based alt-rockers, The Whigs. Louisville music favorites like The Broken Spurs, Scott Carney from Wax Fang, Cougar Express, and Nerves Junior are also set to take the stage, along with Fresh Millions, David Wax Museum, Tyrone Cotton, Ron Whitehead and The Underground Rats, and Lydia Burrell.

Local artist’s with their work on display will be Andy Cook, Carol McLeod, Evan Lebowitz, and Alexander King – all of whom worked together last year on the “Hunter’s Louisville” mural painted on the sidewall of the Monkey Wrench.

So, if your like me, and feel like partying in the name of one of Louisville’s most exported names, then head on down to the Monkey Wrench Saturday, and together we’ll all say “Thank you Hunter S. Thompson” for giving birth to alternative journalism. “Thanks” for paving the way and laying the foundation for present day nut-jobs like myself to also get published by a real media organization. Now let’s party.

2nd Annual Gonzofest
Saturday, October 15
The Monkey Wrench
1025 Barret Ave.
2:00 pm
$20 advance or $25 DOS

*Photo courtesy of Ralph Steadman

** This preview also published at Louisville.com

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If Louisville’s “Metal” music scene ever needs another reason why people don’t take them seriously and why it’s number of supportive venues continue to dwindle, then this is it….

Can anyone say “Jackass”?

Watch the entire report by WAVE 3 TV’s Troubleshooter Erick Flack.

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In what could’ve been a pretty laid back night for all concert-goers this past Sunday at Iroquois Amphitheater, actually turned ugly for a few unlucky fans at the hands of an overtly domineering security staff. More on that later. Onto the music first.

Louisville’s Elephant Room and VilleBillies received the opening nods for Sublime with Rome in one of the biggest summer concerts the city has hosted this year. Iroquois Amphitheater was packed to near capacity and swarming with teenagers to the 40 something year-old crowd. This seemed to be a pretty typical demographic for these artists collectively. Not to mention plenty of Sublime-heads, if you will, with their Sublime T-shirts, and their other random attributes they adorned proudly. Overall, the atmosphere was chilled and relaxed.

Elephant Room – Photo by Jason Ashcraft

Elephant Room, who lead off, gave one stellar stage show in terms of personal performance by each member of the group. Lead vocalists Chase Myers & Josh Bennett marched from one side of the stage to the next and wasn’t shy to keep the crowd involved either. Although no one song they played really stood out, they definitely carried their weight in performance and showmanship. Now all they have to do is craft a few memorable songs and they should be on their way. Keep an eye out on these guys.

VilleBillies – Photo by Staci Core

The VilleBillies. So what can be said about them that’s not already been published before? Nothing. They’re solid. Period. It’s like going and seeing a My Morning Jacket concert. It’s always going to be awesome, and somewhat unlike the one before it. Both their songs and performance are perfect for their style of music.

Justin Reed & Demi Demaree of VilleBillies – Photo by Staci Core

It’s literally a living act of stupidity on behalf of the national recording industry that the VilleBillies don’t have a MMJ-like record deal by now. Actually, I do have one complaint on their stage show. Where the f**k was Big Bird?

So now we have Sublime with Rome coming up and the crowd inside the amphitheater was brewing with anticipation moments before they took the stage.

Sublime with Rome – Photo by Staci Core

Chants of “Sublime, Sublime, Sublime” were screamed in unison by the crowd. About ten seconds later the Long Beach trio appeared from backstage rushing to their instruments. They quickly opened with canny version of “Panic,” the first single off their new album Yours Truly.

They quickly turned to playing old-school Sublime songs like ”Crazy Fool,” “Wrong Way” “Smoke Two Joints” and “Santeria,” amongst others. If your eyes were closed, at times, you could have easily believed that it was Nowell up there playing those authentic Sublime jams, but obviously it’s not. Rome held his own to say the least.

Even newer songs written with Ramirez did not necessarily reinvent Sublime’s signature reggae/ska style of sound that fans have come to both appreciate and anticipate.

Rome Ramirez – Photo by Staci Core

Replacing a lead singer and keeping the band’s name in tact is a hard thing to pull off. Think about it. Gary Cherone for Sammy Hagar for David Lee Roth in Van Halen. John Corabi for Vince Neil in Motley Crue. Brian Johnson for Bon Scott in AC/DC. Both success and failures have came from change-outs like this over the years.

But, Rome Ramirez, although uniquely different from Nowell, was impressive all around. If the measure by which a singer’s replacement is an ability to carry on the signature sound of the replaced singer, Ramirez is hitting the nail on the head with a sledge hammer.

Stop reading here if your only interest was the actual concert review. That part is over. Let’s get back to the “overtly domineering security staff” statement I made earlier.  Let me first point out that I am the second person in the local media to mention something about the security and incident which took place onstage with a fan. Thank you Mudd from 93.1 The Fox for opening the door on this subject on your radio show Monday morning.

Now, I will proceed with kicking it in and blowing the whistle on event security.

At mid-set during Sublime’s performance this skinny young guy attempts to dance his way onto the stage. It’s obvious that not just anyone can be permitted to go onstage while a band is performing. I get that. But this 200+ pound security guard elects to get this kid in some type of headlock or choke-hold, and then viciously dragged him offstage like he was in some kind of wrestling match with a wild animal. The kid was dancing. Not fighting. Dancing.

This guy didn’t appear to be charging the band with any type of intent or endangering anyones safety in the course of his actions. He was dancing, having his moment. Yes, in the wrong place at the wrong time, but it’s not an excuse to take him out in the violent manner which the security guard elected to.

Unfortunately, this didn’t seem to be an isolated incident, rather just the tip of an iceberg. There were actually security guards who were overly obsessive about trying to bust pot smoking teenagers (because they are just jeopardizing everyone’s safety). And then there were a couple security guys at the gate who felt it was necessary confiscate a photographer’s camera (who had media credentials) and then copping attitude about the incident instead of apologizing for their mistake.

What is it with concert security guards these days where they feel they are entitled to be raging assholes to everyone they encounter?

To those security guards: Please remember what your real job is to do. To ensure the safety of everyone attending the concert. That’s it. Ensure their “safety.”

Ensuring safety DOES NOT include beating up dancing hippie kids half your weight who are living in the moment and having a good time. It’s NOT preventing the media from doing our job by confiscating our cameras when we have proper media credentials. It’s NOT chasing around high-school pot smokers like they are some kind of terrorist. Nobody’s safety was at stake in these situations. If you want to continue to act like a COP, then quit your security job and go apply with LMPD.

Never forget why all of us have our jobs in the music business to begin with: Because of the fans. Yep, those 150-pound evil teenage pot-smoking dancing kids with funny clothes and long hair are the enablers of all our jobs in this business. If fans didn’t purchase concert tickets or buy albums, then the promoters wouldn’t have a reason to organize the concerts, and bands wouldn’t have a concert to get hired to play at, and us members of the media wouldn’t have a show to write or broadcast about. And, yes, you mister security guard would also be less employed if it weren’t for these fans too. So quit beating up those who enable you to earn an income, okay? It’s not cool and nobody else does that. Capish?

** This review is also posted at Louisville.com

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