Sound City Players concert review

Last night brought me one step closer to renaming this website “Little Sound City Conqueror.” I was lucky enough to be in the fourth row at Hammerstein Ballroom for the Sound City Players concert, and part of me is still there standing googly-brained at what I just saw. As Rick Springfield, John Fogerty, Stevie Nicks, Foo Fighters, and more performed live right in front of my eyeballs, the power of good rock and roll was made clearer than ever.

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The show was a fusion between film and music, using clips from Dave’s Sound City doc to introduce each guest musician. Things started on a melodic note with Alain Johannes from Queens of the Stone Age and Them Crooked Vultures. At one point, Alain joked that he could play all night, prompting Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins to answer, “Well you are.” And he did… Switching seamlessly between guitar and bass and that weird cigar box instrument thing that I misread as an indication that Paul McCartney would be a surprise guest. And just so we’re clear, Paul McCartney is the only thing that could have made this night better… Other than Dave deciding to give me his trademark Trini guitar.

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The banter between Alain and Taylor was just one candid moment of many that made this show super special. At all points the seams were very visible. Everyone stayed on stage while the movie clips were being shown and playing songs other than their own gave the Foos a chance to let loose a little bit and be more present in their performance. So many glances were shared between band mates that ran the gamut from unbridled joy to sheer terror at the complexity of playing some of the more involved songs. I heard in an interview that in order to prepare for this concert Dave and Co. learned  40 some songs in a week, and while they delivered at an insane level, it was cool to see that even the most accomplished musicians face challenges. Not just us newbies. The most sweat was shed throughout the Foos set with Lee Ving, a man who claims to fit an equal amount of notes into a minute long song as a four minute one.  A couple different times Taylor and Dave exchanged a quick “fast enough for you?” and Taylor deserves a thousand Gatorades for holding down that crazy drum beat so well.

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The music nerdiness wasn’t reserved to the audience and was equally matched by everyone playing on stage. Dave was thrilled to play with Rick Springfield, Taylor lost his cool over Rick Nielsen, and Chris Shiflett, who plays in a country-ish band on the side, took a break from his usual stoicism and grinned like a little boy while playing with John Fogerty. And speaking of John Fogerty, he might be my new Tom Petty. I need to get my Fogerty on in a big way, as he was probably my favorite part of the show. And that says a lot considering Rick “Fucking” Springfield and the Foo Fighters joined forces for “Jesse’s Girl.” I mean never thought that when I was actually “Little” Conqueror and rocking out to the Kidsongs version of Centerfield, I’d be seeing the it performed by the man who wrote it 3 feet away from me over 20 years later on a guitar made out of a baseball bat.

Other performers that caught me off guard included Brad Wilk from Rage Against the Machine. Who knew there was someone out there who hit harder than Dave? I couldn’t take my eyes off of Mister Wilk and wanted to curl up in a ball inside his giant drummer biceps. And while we’re talking about fantasies, if Rick Springfield makes another album, I’m definitely going to that concert. Finally, Rick Nielsen put on the show of the night. His performance was a little bit Catskills/a little bit Vegas and campy in all the right ways. You could tell he was having a ton of fun as he showered the crowd with guitar pics and played the Cheap Trick standards with utmost enthusiasm.

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Oh. And Stevie Nicks was there. She’s kind of magical. Stevie might have been the only lady in the lineup, but it was far more than that that set her apart. After bopping, bouncing, and head banging all night, swaying to the Fleetwood standards was a lovely break. And seeing Foo Fighters slow down to gently backup Stevie for Dreams was like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. Imagine Boyz II Men singing an Insane Clown Posse song and you can start to get what I’m talking about.

The show ended in the only way it could. Dave and Stevie playing an acoustic version of Landslide, followed by every performer joining forces for a sonically assaulting version of Gold Dust Woman. Excuse my language, but that was some goooooooood shit. Nothing could come after that… Except Paul McCartney. I left Hammerstein in a daze that I’m still coming down from. Dreams came true in that room for everyone onstage and off, and the only thing that’s bringing me back to reality is all the music homework that I now have to do. Any and all album donations are welcome.

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It happened. I saw Sound City last night. My life is different now. Initial reactions are:

-Rick Springfield… What a badass! How come nobody told me about him?

-The theatre’s speakers were banging. I need a better sound system in my apartment.

-Love the “butched wig” label on Butch’s chair in Dave’s studio.

-Rick Rubin could be my Ghandi.


sound city

But obvi I walked away thinking about way more than that. Sound City is clearly a celebration of music and the power of what happens when people and instruments join together, however I feel the larger message is to get off your ass.

You want to start a recording studio? Get off your ass and do it.

You want to make a movie? Get off your ass and do it.

You want to write, play, and record songs? Get off your ass and do it.

There couldn’t be a better person to deliver this message than Sound City maker, Dave Grohl. He is a person who never runs away from an idea. Dave wanted to play drums, so he made a kit out of pillows and taught himself how. Dave was restless post-Nirvana, so he made the first Foo Fighters album. And finally, Dave wanted to share the story of a legendary recording studio, so he made Sound City. The interviews leading up to SC’s release are straight-up Tony Robbins-style odes to following through with your creative urges and not letting the fear of failure get in your way.

“Go to the fucking yard sale, buy a fucking guitar, start a band with your fucking friends, get in the garage and fucking suck and work on it until you fucking make great music, and become the biggest band in the world.”

-Dave Grohl (WTF podcast w/Marc Maron)

According to the film, Sound City was constantly on the verge of failing. Bankruptcy was always looming in the background and the question “what are we doing here” seemed to come up a lot. But based on the passion and ferver with which everyone at the studio worked, you’d never know it. They were there cause they wanted to make music, and a hallway that always flooded, “outdated” technology, and lack of funds weren’t going to stop them from getting off their ass and doing it. It’s like learning to play guitar with crazy-high action. You can either quit cause your fingers hurt, or you can just suck it up and press the strings fucking harder. And because Sound City never quit, we have Fleetwood Mac, Nevermind, Rage Against the Machine, Rick “my new favorite person” Springfield,” and so many more.

Even if you have no interest in music whatsoever (if that’s possible) Sound City is worth your while. It’s an inspirational film and I urge you all to get of your ass and go see it.

How to make it in music…

Just finished listening to Marc Maron’s WTF podcast with special guest Dave Grohl. It was an amazing interview that any music fan would enjoy. Marc and Dave talked musical inspirations, Dave’s journey to rock stardom, and of course his upcoming film Sound City. I was particularly inspired by the quote below. Check out the full interview here.


“Go to the fucking yard sale, buy a fucking guitar, start a band with your fucking friends, get in the garage and fucking suck and work on it until you fucking make great music, and become the biggest band in the world.”

-Dave Grohl

Met Dave Grohl this weekend…

Thanks to Saturday Night Live, I had a badass weekend. It involved a mini Paul McCartney concert, a Nirvana reunion, and a chat with the King of Rock and Roll– Mr. David Grohl.

I’m not quite sure how to spell all the high pitched shrieking reactions that are shooting through my brain right now, so I thought I’d post some pics instead. Suffice to say, Dave was the nicest and the best, took a selfie with me, and told me I’m a really good guitar player. It’s only upwards from here.

May all of your wildest dreams come true this holiday season! Except for the one about having a boyfriend made of cotton candy… He’d probs just melt in the rain.

Pat Smear's Guitar and Krist Novaselic's Bass

Pat Smear’s Guitar and Krist Novaselic’s Bass

Couldn't be more excited for Sound City!

Couldn’t be more excited for Sound City!

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Sir Paul

Just a couple special guests...

Just a couple special guests…

Oh... and this.

Oh… and this.



Music Memories

If you haven’t heard about the Sound City movie yet, it is my distinct pleasure to introduce you to what is most likely going to be one of the best, most interesting, behind the scenes, music rockumentaries ever made. And I swear I’m not only saying that because it’s produced by Dave Grohl. Sound City the film will tell the story of Sound City the recording studio through the voices of the iconic musicians who have worked there. And since musicians like Tom Petty, Neil Young, Nirvana, Fleetwood Mac, Rage Against the Machine, Guns and Roses, and a bagillion more, have recorded at Sound City, I can’t wait to see who ends up on screen.

By dropping mix tapes at Foo Fighters gigs around the world, hiding merch at festivals, and making social media his B-I-T-C-H, Dave Grohl is leading a gorilla marketing campaign that falls in line with the low-key, all about the music nature of Sound City. This week he released two short videos of Metallica’s Lars Ulrich and Kevin Cronin from REO Speedwagon talking about their first musical memories. This got me thinking about my first musical memories, and I thought I’d share them with you here.

I can’t talk about my love for music without talking about my dad. Any inclination I have towards combinations of chords comes from the enthusiasm rooted in him. For his birthday one year, my mom, sister, and I installed a CD player in the kitchen, and I don’t think we’ve given him a better gift before or since.

For whatever reason, I don’t remember much of anything about my childhood. The oldest solid memories I have start at about age ten. Despite this, I have a very early memory of my dad’s record collection. About 3 or 4 times a year, I would take time off from my busy barefoot in the yard schedule to dig through the dusty boxes. We moved often, so I was very meticulous about unpacking and repacking their contents to make sure nobody knew I had disturbed them. He had every Beatles record, Led Zeppelin out the behind, Eric Clapton, Cream, and pretty much anything else that came out when he was in his 20s.

I studied the covers, and removed the paper and plastic to feel the texture and history that lay inside the detailed packaging. I had no clue of the music these records held, but I was aware enough to brag to friends about the fact that my dad had an original copy of The White Album. But after a not so routine, routine trip to Costco, that all changed.

My dad and I would go to the bulk superstore for “brunch” every Sunday and fill up on free samples and ice cream cones.  We would occasionally browse the books and music, and on the Costco trip right after his kitchen stereo birthday, we bought the Beatles “1” album. He drove us home faster than I’d ever seen him drive before. It was in our kitchen over Costco ice cream cones that I listened to The Beatles for the first time. My dad was stoked. He wasn’t the only “1”.

That moment was one of the first that turned me into the music monster I am today. My dad was on a mission to expose me to all the tunes that were his Green Day and Foo. He’d blare James Taylor as he drove me to work and then would be waiting in the car an hour before I was off duty playing Janis Joplin as loud as the Ford Explorer would let him. I still suspect his proudest moment of me was when I asked him to burn me a copy of “Dark Side of the Moon.”

On the other side of things, my dad was always really open to hearing what my sister and I were listening to. You couldn’t leave a CD lying around without him trying it out. Usually this ended well, but other times it led to him asking in his thick Israeli accent why Mystikal refers to women as bitches and ho’s. For the record, that album was my sister’s.

I now own most of the Beatles collection myself, but some things will never change. On a recent flight with my dad we exchanged iPods to see what the other had going on. By the end of the flight, I was listening to the Allman Brothers and he was listening to Eminem. And while this might be my most recent musical memory with him, I know there are many more still ahead. Cause whether it be through records, CDs, or digital files, my dad and I will always be creating our own Sound City.

Dad at the Dakota