Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth & Anthrax...
Big 4 announce single North American date

What do heavy metal and the movie Pretty Woman have in common?

The Empire Polo Fields, about 120 miles east of Los Angeles in Indio, CA, will be home to key moments in both.

It was announced this morning that the much-heralded live reunion of metal's Big 4 - Metallica, Slayer, Megedeth and Anthrax - will follow last summer's seven-date stretch of European festivals with a single North American concert event to be held April 23, 2011, at the site of Coachella's annual three-day weekend.

Last year's European dates were commemorated with the November 2 release of The Big 4: Live from Sofia, Bulgaria, a DVD package that, in the ten weeks since its release, has been certified double-platinum in nearly every country where it is available.

It will be a busy month of April at the Empire Polo Fields, which will be hosting the 12th annual Coachella festival the weekend before the Big 4 invade, and the fifth annual Stagecoach country music festival the weekend after. For metal fans that also appreciate a good romantic comedy, the polo fields were also featured in the Julia Roberts blockbuster Pretty Woman - yes, it was there that Jason Alexander's character found out Roberts was a hooker!

From glow sticks to mosh pits to cow chips - promoters Goldenvoice know a thing or two about diversity.

Tickets for the all-day event - which will feature full-length sets from Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth and Anthrax - go on-sale Friday, January 28 at 10:00 AM (PT) through Ticketmaster.com, and by phone at 1-800-745-3000. Ticket prices are $99.00 for general admission and $199.00 for VIP.

Round-trip shuttle service will be available from Southern California locations including Carson, downtown Los Angeles, Pasadena, Ontario, Riverside, Anaheim, Irvine and San Diego, with prices ranging from $40.00-$65.00.

Complete details can be found at the Big 4 Festival website.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Arin Ilejay to drum for Avenged Sevenfold

Avenged Sevenfold have named Arin Ilejay the band's latest drummer. Ilejay, formerly of the Southern California Christian rock band Confide, will make his debut Saturday night in Lowell, MA, where the band kick off their month-long Nightmare After Christmas tour [click here for dates].

Avenged Sevenfold's founding drummer, James "The Rev" Sullivan, died December 28, 2009, from an accidental overdose of prescription drugs and alcohol. The band recruited Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy to record drums on their latest release, Nightmare, and tour throughout 2010, and announced in December that he would not remain with the band entering 2011.

"For the past few months, we've been blessed with Mike Portnoy's talent and humanity. When Mike agreed to tour with us, it was only through the end of 2010. We always knew we'd need to find another solution for 2011 and beyond. And it's time for us to take that next step," the band said in a December 17 statement on their website.

"We know we are not ready to add another permanent member of Avenged Sevenfold. We don't know if we will ever be. But if we do, it will only be with someone who is not only a brilliant drummer, but also someone we've gotten to know well on the road and off, and who you the fans have had a chance to get to know, and hopefully accept," they continued.

"He will not be a member of a7x. He will be someone you and we are getting to know. Perhaps this drummer will be a fit. Perhaps not. One thing is for sure. Over time we will find someone who helps us continue our quest to make the music we love for the fans we love."

Enter Ilejay.

"Our long time studio drum tech, Mike Fasano, recommended Arin Ilejay," the band said in today's announcement. "We've rehearsed with Arin and have been impressed with his technical skills, attitude and work ethic. We're very excited to tour with Arin and hope all of you will give him the warm welcome to the family we have."

The Nightmare After Christmas tour - featuring special guests Stone Sour and Hollywood Undead - launches Saturday night, in Lowell, MA.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Kings of Leon, Arcade Fire, Kanye West and
The Strokes to headline 2011 Coachella Festival

Kings of Leon, Arcade Fire, Kanye West and the Strokes will headline the 12th annual Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival, to be held April 15-17 at the Empire Polo Field, in Indio, CA.

While the lineup is light on surprises - the biggest may be the absence of long-rumored headliners Daft Punk - the roster reads like a who's who of the modern indie rock scene.

Highlights include Duran Duran, Animal Collective, the Black Keys, Big Audio Dynamite, Cee Lo Green, Cage the Elephant, Killers frontman Brandon Flowers, Empire of the Sun, Mumford & Sons, Scissor Sisters, Gogol Bordello, and former Fugees frontwoman Lauren Hill.

For fans of the festival's Sahara Tent, DJs and electronic acts include the Chemical Brothers, Leftfield, Paul van Dyk, Sasha, Chromeo, Bloody Beetroots Death Crew 77 and Cut Copy.

The complete Coachella 2011 lineup (as of January 18, 2011):

!!!, 12th Planet, Afrojack, Alf Alpha, Andy C, Angus and Julia Stone, Animal Collective, Arcade Fire, Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti, A-Trak, Axwell, Beardyman, Best Coast, Big Audio Dynamite, Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears, Bloody Beetroots Death Crew 77, Bomba Estereo, Boys Noize, Brandon Flowers, Brandt Brauer Frick, Breakage, Bright Eyes, Broken Social Scene, Cage the Elephant, Caifanes, Caspa, Cee Lo Green, Chromeo, Chuckie, City and Colour, Clare Maguire, Cold Cave, Cold War Kids, Crystal Castles, CSS, Cults, Cut Copy, Daedelus, Death From Above 1979, Delorean, Delta Sprirt, DJ Hype, DJ Kentaro, DJ Marky, DJ Zinc, Duck Sauce, Duran Duran, EE, Elbow, Electric Touch, Eliza Doolittle, Ellie Goulding, Emicida, Empire of the Sun, Erick Morillo, Erykah Badu, Excision, Fat Freddy's Drop, Fedde Le Grand, Fistful of Mercy, Flogging Molly, Foals, Foster the People, Francis and the Lights, Freelance Whales, fun., G.Q., Gayngs, Glasser, Gogol Bordello, Good Old War, Gord Downie, Goth Trad, Green Velvet, Gypsy and the Cat, HEALTH, Here We Go Magic, High Contrast, Hurts, Interpol, Jack Beats, Jack's Mannequin, Jakes, Jenny and Johnny, Jimmy Eat World, Joachim Garraud, Joy Orbison, Kanye West, Kele, Kings of Leon, Klaxons, Kode9, Kyle Hall, Laidback Luke, Leftfield, Lightning Bolt, Lil' B, Lorn, Los Bunkers, Magnetic Man, Mariachi El Bronx, Marina and the Diamonds, Mary Anne Hobbs, MEN, Menomena, Monarchy, Mount Kimbie, Moving Units, Ms. Lauryn Hill, Mumford & Sons, Nas & Damian Marley, Neon Trees, New Pants, Nosaj Thing, OFF!, OFWGKTA, Omar Rodriguez Lopez, One Day as a Lion, Ozomatli, Paul van Dyk, Phantogram, Phosphorescent, PJ Harvey, Plan B, Ramadanman, Raphael Saadiq, Ras G, Ratatat, Riva Starr, Robyn, Roska, Rye Rye, Sander Kleinenberg, Sasha, SBTRKT, Scala & Kolacny Bros., Scissor Sisters, She Wants Revenge, Shpongle, Skrillex, Sleigh Bells, Steve Angello, Sven Vath, Take, Tame Impala, Terror Danjah, Thao and the Get Down Stay Down, The Aquabats, The Black Keys, The Chemical Brothers, The Drums, The Felice Brothers, The Henry Clay People, The Joy Formidable, The Kills, The London Suede, The Love Language, The Morning Benders, The National, The New Pornographers, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, The Presets, The Radio Dept., The Rural Alberta Advantage, The Strokes, The Swell Season, The Tallest Man on Earth, The Twelves, Thunderball, Tinie Tempah, Titus Andronicus, Tokimonsta, Trampled by Turtles, Trentemoller, Twin Shadow, Two Door Cinema Club, Warpaint, Wire, Wiz Khalifa, Yacht, Yelle and Zed Bias.

Three-day weekend passes, along with camping passes, go on sale Friday, January 21, at 10:00 AM (PT) through Ticketmaster.com, by phone at 1-800-745-3000, and at www.coachella.com.

Coachella 2010
Coachella 2009
Coachella 2008 review
Coachella 2007 review

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Every time Michael Vick gets hit,
an angel dog earns its wings...

I believe that Michael Vick deserves a second chance in life, I just don't believe that he deserves a second chance to play in the National Football League.

He facilitated and expedited the rape of dogs, where females were bound to poles so that they could be forcefully and violently impregnated. The puppies were then raised and trained to be fighters and killers, neglected to sharpen their survival instincts, and tortured to instill a horrifying sense of fear and tolerance of pain.

Then the dogs were pitted against each other for Michael Vick and his crew's sadistic pleasure and gambling enjoyment.

If the losing dogs were lucky, they'd be killed in cold blood.

The dogs that weren't killed, were left alive to be tortured and abused more, only to fight another day.

This wasn't a momentary lapse in judgment on Michael Vick's part, and it wasn't an accident. It was premeditated, callously calculated, and carried out with painstaking attention to every heinous detail.

Over, and over, and over again.

This isn't about what Michael Vick allegedly did, this is about what he confessed to doing. There's no grey area in what may or may not have happened - it happened, and he's not denying a single bit of it.

According to a court of law, he served his legal debt to society. But what about his moral debt to society? The debt that can't be paid off by a donation to the Humane Society, or by visiting a handful of inner-city schools and trying to explain why what he did was wrong, despite the fact that he still makes excuses for his behavior.

Because, in the end, it didn't matter that what he did was wrong - when the time came to be held accountable for deciding to embrace being a thug instead of a professional athlete and role model, the Philadelphia Eagles welcomed him back with opened arms.

And when that opportunity turned into one of the most remarkable physical comebacks in the history of professional sports, Barack Obama - the President of the United States, the leader of the free world, and the man that hung his election on a mantra of hope - called the Eagles' owner to commend the team for giving Michael Vick a second chance.

Because everybody deserves a second chance.


Michael Vick has been coddled since the day his opportunistic handlers realized he was a goldmine of athletic potential.

Money. Gifts. Attention. Excuses.

All in abundance. All without accountability.

He received a scholarship to Virginia Tech, and every opportunity in the world to advance his lot in life. To improve the world of those around him. And to be an example for others to emulate.

Instead, he chose to remain a thug. A thug who could tuck a football under his arm and run - a thug with carte blanche to take his miscreant ways off the street, and behind closed doors.

Should Michael Vick get a second chance? Of course he should - in life. Not in the National Football League.

America is a country in crisis, and our youth need role models to emulate, not a path of excuses defined by moral cop-outs.

Michael Vick was given every opportunity to rise above the culture he claims dictated his behavior and handling of dogs. Yet he chose to defy those opportunities, and mock the establishment that presented him with a once-in-a-lifetime chance to cash in a golden ticket.

Let his second chance at success be outside the National Football League. Let him use the college education that he got for free... What? He didn't graduate? Maybe he should have thought of that before he entered the NFL following his sophomore year of college.

He strapped his entire future to a professional sport that, even in failure, could make him enough money to last a lifetime. Yet he respected that sport so little that he needed to raise, train, torture and kill dogs for personal fulfillment.

It doesn't matter how many schools he speaks to, the real message to those students is loud and clear - you can make a grave, calculated, callous and criminal mistake so heinous that the end result would make anyone with a conscience's stomach curdle, and as long as you can blame your upbringing, even the President of the United States will have your back.

America needs to stop making excuses, and America needs to stop accepting excuses.

America needs to stand for something, or we'll fall for anything.

And right now, we're falling hard.

I've boycotted the Philadelphia Eagles all season long, refusing to watch or support any team that would give an opportunity to a man that epitomizes everything I think is wrong with America today.

I have also boycotted Nike since they announced that they would again endorse Michael Vick. If Nike choose to make him a face of their company, Nike are making a bold statement that they don't want me buying their clothing.

I am breaking my Philadelphia Eagles boycott to watch my Green Bay Packers make the trip to the City of Brotherly Thugs for the opening round of the playoffs.

Not because I want to watch Michael Vick, but because I want to watch the Green Bay Packers - a team I grew to love as a college student in Milwaukee, where they played half their home games. And a team I learned to love even more when I covered them for the Associated Press in the mid-'90s.

Make no mistake, the game is about more than football for me - it is a battle for control of America's moral compass. A compass that may be cracked, but a compass that can still be repaired.

I am not, and will not, end my boycott of Nike.

We need to stand for something, or we'll fall for anything.

And America needs to stop falling.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Humanely raised and handled... then killed

I love meat. A lot.

You know what makes meat even better? More meat. What isn't better with bacon?

Meat is so good, they make fake meat for people who choose not to eat meat. I call it the comedy section at the grocery store - the part of the refrigerated/frozen food aisle where they have the chicken-flavored tofu, so that the people that are fundamentally opposed to eating meat, can still savor the taste of the thing they're opposed to eating, while they pretend to eat it.

If it bothers you so much to eat meat, shouldn't it bother you just as much to be reminded of eating meat while you're going out of your way to not eat meat? But I digress...

The Counter is a hamburger chain that's all the rage in Los Angeles, and they recently opened one a few blocks from our house. Knowing that I love me some bacon cheeseburger (the more animal products the better), my wife snapped up a Blackboard Eats discount they were running, and sent me a link to the menu that I copied above.

We've established that I don't have a problem eating meat, right? Even so, I had to laugh at the box boasting "Humanely Raised + Handled" Angus Beef.

That's right the beef at The Counter is HUMANELY raised and handled - then killed, for our eating pleasure.

After I take that first bite of medium-rare, humanely raised and handled, 100% Angus good eats, I'll let you know if I can taste the difference...

Monday, January 3, 2011

A new year's resolution that pays dividends

(Published Dec. 27, 2010 by OurStage.com)

Standing on the Staples Center floor during Roger Waters’ first of five sold-out Southern California performances of The Wall this month, I marveled at how much music has changed since I first became a fan.

To call myself anything short of obsessive as a teenager would be an understatement – but I wasn’t alone, that was how music made a lot of us feel. It wasn’t enough to know everything about the bands we loved, we also wanted to know everything about the bands they loved. We wanted to know why they wore the shirts they wore, and who inspired the lyrics they wrote.

When Anthrax covered a Joe Jackson song, I had to go out and buy the album it was from. When Lars Ulrich talked about the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, I needed to know the bands he was championing. And when I discovered industrial music, I needed to also discover early innovators like Einst├╝rzende Neubauten.

It was my responsibility as a fan, and I took that responsibility seriously. I went to record stores to find new music, read magazines to learn about inspiration and influence, and listened to the radio for news and information. The word fan is derived from the word fanatic for a reason – being a fan took effort, and our efforts were rewarded in kind.

Music wasn’t background noise then, it was the soundtrack to our lives. It meant something, because we needed it to mean something. Our favorite bands helped shape our identity, and that identity couldn’t be researched for free on the internet, bought for .99 on iTunes, and adorned for $19.99 at Hot Topic.

Today, there is no effort required...

(To continue reading, please click here to visit OurStage.com)