By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
The concept was novel — crossover dance producers who can actually spin — and we were even more surprised when we heard a slice of Dirty Vegas' tastefully tribal mix-CD A Night at the Tables on KCRW on the way to the club. It was as if the storm had passed and the dark days had gone by. (Dennis Romero)
STEVE EARLE & THE DUKES at House of Blues, January 23
What startles one hearing Steve Earle play live is how hard he fucking rocks. Like the Rolling Stones when they were dangerous. Like Jerry Lee when he kicked over piano stools. Like a million garage bands who give the neighbors coronaries. At HoB, Earle plowed through most of Jerusalem, his most recent masterpiece, a collection of songs that challenge the lies spewed by rich thieves currently pushing the planet to the brink of apocalypse. There's a hoary phrase, "When rock mattered," that gets trotted out to denote a fixed era in time. When Earle snarls, "That every tower ever built tumbles/No matter how strong no matter how tall/Someday even great walls will crumble," the lyrics are, of course, as current as a jet flying into a skyscraper.
Backed by Eric "Roscoe" Ambel on guitar, Kelly Looney on bass and Will Rigby on drums, with additional guitar/keys by son Justin, percussion by brother Patrick and vocals by Garrison Starr, Earle played guitars, mandolin, banjo and mouth harp, and the extreme dynamics of the songs' arrangements and construction were cathartic — smash 'em over the noggin, let 'em breathe with an extended mandolin break, return to headbanging. After a set of two-plus hours, the ride became a physical release. When Earle pulled out "Someday" from 1986's Guitar Town, it was apparent that the words have taken on weight in the years since he wrote that ode to leaving a small town where life's payoff is a gig at the fillin' station. For his second encore, he tore through covers of "Time (Has Come Today)," "Get Together" and "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding?," pointed statements reminding us that rock & roll, and a certain 48-year-old country boy, matter now as much as ever. (Michael Simmons)
The legendary guitarist was escorted gently onto the bare stage to his chair, where he remained seated the entire set. He barely nodded to the audience as he broke into a blues medley, swift and effortless on his Steinberger. With his long, flowing white hair spilling onto tattooed pale arms, eyes tightly shut, strumming his guitar as if he could do it in his sleep, he looked like some sort of blues angel perched on a cloud in his own world, probably something like heaven to Johnny Winter.
Accompanying Winter were a harmonica player, a bassist and drummer. The band was tight, the bass keeping up, and the harp player subtle enough and in the groove. But everyone's eyes were on Johnny and his ripping, timeless guitar solos. For someone not once looking into the audience, barely addressing his fans, Winter had enormous presence. While his voice is still distinctly his, age has taken its toll; the harmonica player was the vocalist for half of the songs, presumably because Winter just isn't up to it these days. There was no "Rock N Roll Hoochie Coo" tonight; this was strictly a blues set, with standards like "Good Time Charlie," "Blackjack" and "Mona."
After nearly two hours, Winter finally got his steel guitar out for the encore, "Mojo Boogie." Again his deft mastery of the guitar reminded the audience of the virtuoso musician seated before them. Fans who expected songs from his great album Still Alive and Wellmight have felt disappointed, but they would have realized that, yes, Johnny Winter is still alive and well — sometimes it's just kinda hard to tell. (Tulsa Kinney)
THE D4, THE BANGS, THE DISCIPLES at the Troubadour, January 21
Even with the boatload o' buzz (and an appearance on the Craig Kilborn show the night before), the large crowd outside the D4's Troubadour gig was a bit curious: Pink collaborator Linda Perry, MTV has-been Jesse Camp and actor Geoffrey Rush (?) were just a few of the peeps plunked in the roped-off smoking section before the New Zealand group took the stage. Turns out the first two — and a few dozen or so tat rats — were there to catch openers and recent Capitol Records signees the Disciples. Still, Hollywood Records' answer to the Hives (Sweden, New Zealand — they all have groovy accents, right?) did jam-pack the Troub mere seconds after middle-slotted Washington power trio the Bangs wrapped up their spunky set.
The D4 make refreshingly ungimmicky, messy, hell-raisin' grinds, and though the overused "garage" label is accurate here (the band have their Detroit shake appeal down pat), they have as much in common with the manic metal overdose of Andrew W.K. (see tunes like "Party," "Let Loose" and "Rock n' Roll Motherfucker") and the sleazy 'n' spastic vibe of NYC faves ranging from the Ramones to the New York Dolls (so obviously enamored of American rock they even covered the Devil Dogs' version of Johnny Thunders' "Pirate Love"). Muttonchop-sideburned singer Jimmy Christmas and drummer Beaver were a glistening swirl of adrenaline; Strokesy-looking bassist Vaughan was a cool and confident contrast. But the real star was guitarist/sometime singer Dion, a madman who looks like Roger Daltrey and riffs like Pete Townshend, all windmill arms and into-the-crowd antics. More than reckless frolic, the frenzied display seemed to stake a claim: If there's gonna be an N.Z. invasion, this fab four plan to be on the frontline. (Lina Lecaro)