Show Review: Billy Joel @ Dodger Stadium

Legend brought hits, guest stars and LA stories

May 15th, 2017
Mary Bonney
Category: News, Review

Last Saturday evening, legendary singer, songwriter, pianist and bicoastal hero Billy Joel brought his memorable discography and unrivaled stage presence to a packed Dodger Stadium. The nearly three-hour set spanned the performer’s four plus decade career and, while Joel may be pushing seventy, his performance was filled with an energy and enthusiasm that brought tens of thousands of fans to their feet. Bros singing “Uptown Girl”. Older couples wearing “I love BJ” shirts. Young hipsters. Dads with daughters. They all flocked to downtown Los Angeles to see the man himself tickle the ivories and lull them into a sweet, piano-filled reverie.

All photos by John Bernstein

Flanked by his longtime backing band, Joel began with a simple, “1, 2, 3, 4!” and the high-energy “Moving Out” and “My Life”. A camera was suspended above Joel so fans could see his piano prowess up close on long, narrow screens hung in the same arrangement as the instrument’s keys.

Joel seemed to be in equal awe of the gravitas of his surroundings as the audience as he mused that his first performances in Los Angeles were at the intimate Troubadour. He admitted to seeing Elton John perform at the stadium and riffed a bit of “Your Song” before the ballad “Vienna” (voted on by audience applause as Joel “couldn’t possibly do all his songs” that evening).

Every member of Joel’s pitch-perfect, expert-filled band had a time to shine, whether it was trumpet player Carl Fischer in  “Zanzibar” or keyboardist Dave Rosenthal in “The Entertainer”, a song Joel explained was written while living on Mulholland Drive when he was “wrong and cynical” that reminded him “what an asshole I used to be”. Later, he explained the factually inaccuracies of “The Ballad of Billy the Kid”, also written during his time in Los Angeles in response to his desire to “write a movie soundtrack when no one was asking me to write them.”

The audience voted for “For The Longest Time”, to which Joel responded “Duh!” It was an impressive feat to tackle one of the most well-known a’cappella songs in pop rock history in a stadium, but the five-person backing vocal group led by Joel blew fans away.

Joel enlisted the help of surprise guest stars, beginning with P!nk joining him onstage for a jazzy rendition of the classic “New York State of Mind” followed by a performance of her song “Try”. Axl Rose also came to electrify the stage with his rocking “Highway To Hell” and later joined Joel for “Big Shot”.

But it was Joel’s hits that kept the audience moving in the unseasonably chilly air. Fans danced with each other during “Always A Woman”, tried to keep up with the lyrics of “We Didn’t Start the Fire” and swayed along with “Piano Man”, one of the evening’s most warmly received songs. Fans illuminated the stadium with cell phone lights as Joel let the audience finish the final, familiar chorus a’cappella.

The encore began with hits “Uptown Girl”, “It’s Still Rock and Roll To Me” and “Only The Good Die Young”. The twenty-five song set culminated with “You May Be Right” and the audience sang along to, “I might be as crazy as you say, if I’m crazy then it’s true that it’s all because of you.” While it might seem crazy Joel is packing stadiums, his timeless music, unwavering talent and clear passion for performing ensures fans will pack the house to see him, crazy as they were at the beginning of his career to sing and dance along.

For more information on Billy Joel:
Official site

Jennifer Hudson Joins Season 13 of The Voice

Taking over for Alicia Keys as coach!

May 12th, 2017
Zein Khleif
Category: News
The Color Purple

Look out, there’s a new coach in town! Jennifer Hudson has officially signed on to coach season 13 of The Voice, alongside returning coach Miley Cyrus, and current coaches Adam Levine and Blake Shelton.
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Show Preview: Air @ The Greek Theatre

Downtempo duo plays the Greek Theatre on June 25h.

May 10th, 2017
Lesley Park
Category: News

It’s been seven long years since Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoît Dunckel AKA Air last toured the US during which the LA stop where they were supposed to play at the Walt Disney Concert Hall with the LA Phil was cancelled at the eleventh hour (I’m totally not bitter or anything). In the intervening years from then ’til now, they’ve released two studio albums–Le voyage dans la lune and Music for Museum–as well as a compilation album Twentyears to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the band’s inception.

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Festival Preview: Blackest of the Black

Danzig curates festival sure to corrupt you.

May 9th, 2017
Lex Voight
Category: News, Staff Pick

Knotfest is cute. Ozzfest is adequate.

But the real dark heavy hitters of extreme music are gathering in Orange County at the end of this month for the Blackest of the Black festival. Presided over by the lordly and ungodly presence of Glenn Danzig, the festival is curating a unique experience in the festival landscape featuring not only some of the heaviest and most sinister acts in music, but with the inclusion of “Castle Danzig–a fully immersive walkthrough experience of pain, pleasure, and metal, based on the music and graphic novels of Glenn Danzig.”
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On St. Terrible, Some Dharma, and Joy in Nothing

The other kind of Nirvana

Lex Voight
Category: News

There is joy in nothing.

That is not to say “there is no joy,” or “nothing is joyful,” but literally there is a joy in nothing…in nothingness. It’s a weird transmission that Buddhist dharma tapped into 2500 years ago—everything is transient, everything arises from and passes away back to nothingness. Be glad of it.
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Mascarada Releases Single “Contestame”

Psychedelic Latin rock duo plays Hotel Cafe 5/9

May 5th, 2017
Mary Bonney
Category: News

Endless inspiration and creativity freedom permeates Los Angeles, making any kind of music genre feel possible. Guitarist and vocalist Shawn Grindle, who hails from of one of our local favorite groups The Mosaics (formerly Town in the City), is embracing LA’s boundless possibility by blending his trippy rock roots with bilingual singer-songwriter Leana Courtney with the new act Mascarada. The duo blends Grindle’s psychedelic musical background with Courtney’s Latin fusion to create soulful, 60s-rock soaked tunes.

Working with unfinished demos of songs that were never completed, the two combined their styles, collaboration to create the unique sound. Courtney writes the Spanish lyrics while Shawn handles the production side, such as Courtney’s velvety, effect-driven vocals.

This year, the pair recorded a self-titled full length due out this July. The LP will explore different styles and genres through the lens of traditional psychedelic sound. You can take a listen to the first single “Contéstame” below.

Mascarada will have their debut performance this Tuesday, May 9th at Hotel Cafe in the middle of a showcase of local folk and psychedelic rock. The pair performs after The Mosaics at 9pm and before local psych-pop duo group Sumeau at 11pm. Tickets are available now.

For more information on Mascarada:
Official site

On Thunderpussy and the Birth of New Gods

Prepare to be dominated.

May 3rd, 2017
Lex Voight

Rolling Stones. Black Sabbath. Guns N Roses. Aerosmith. Motorhead. Anthrax. Slayer. Metallica.
We music writers tend to throw around the term “rock gods” a lot. It has a way of conveying the larger-than-life, stranger-than-fiction personas of these modern legends. Their exploits approach myth, creating a new set of Western fables set against a back drop of a world at once our own and yet completely alien. A world of decadent excess populated by a cavalcade of parties, drugs, sold out stadiums, screaming or swooning fans, and above all…consummate, world-changing music.
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Haim Releases New Single, “Want You Back”

A catchy pop tune from the band’s upcoming album!

Zein Khleif
Category: News

Last week, Haim released a live video of their new turmoiled-love song, “Right Now,” directed by Paul Thomas Anderson. As fans were rejoicing (it’s been more than a year without new music from the sisterly trio) Haim had another surprise up their sleeves: On Wednesday, May 3rd, the band debuted their first official single, “Want You Back,” from their upcoming second album, Something to Tell You.

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Beyonce Announces Formation Scholarship Program

The icon pays it forward through education

April 27th, 2017
Zein Khleif
Category: News

Beyoncè announced on Tuesday she is launching Formation Scholars, a program for women in college or graduate school.
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Odesza Releases Two New Songs

Back with “Line of Sight” and “Late Night”

April 26th, 2017
Mary Bonney
Category: News

It’s been over a year since the critically-acclaimed and much-beloved electronica pair Odesza has released new music and two and half years since their album In Return brought them to national attention. Now the duo of Harrison Mills and Clayton Knight have released not one but two new songs for fans to put on repeat: “Line of Sight” featuring WYNNE and Mansionair and the instrumental “Late Night.”

“Line of Sight” seems to line up with the infectious EDM pop that The Chainsmokers are using to dominate top 40 radio while “Late Night” is a hypnotic instrumental track reminiscent of their 2012 release Summer’s Gone. I spoke with Mills in 2014 before the DJ’s meteoric rise and he told me, “We work really hard to make our live shows as engaging as possible… it’s going to keep growing.”

And grow they did. Odesza went from playing in the corner of Amoeba records to selling out every Los Angeles show they’ve played since, culminating in a performance at Coachella in 2015. I’ve heard their music playing in countless retail stores and restaurants and they even earned a Grammy nomination in 2015 for Best Remixed Recording.

No word yet on a new album, or any LA shows in the foreseeable future, but fans will be happy to have new music to tide them over in the meantime.

For more information on Odesza:
Official website