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2011: A Year In Concerts

I went to even more concerts this year than last in the Bay Area (and one in Modesto). Here they all are listed chronologically with some thoughts. January is shaping up to be fairly concert-heavy already so perhaps I will out-do myself yet again by year's end. Happy times.
1Judgement Day
Peacocks/Pink Monsters

Jan. 8 @ Slim's w/AnroCorps and Band Of Orcs - This might be my all-time favorite performance from the dudes in J.Day. Being on a metal bill seems to make them step up their game a bit more. Koog got cracked in the ribs in the pit (Finally, a pit at a J.Day show!). ArnoCorps and Band Of Orcs were appropriately ridiculous. 4/5
2Versus Them
A Sunny Day

Feb. 5 @ 19 Broadway - I shot a lot of concerts this year and this was one of many for my friends' band, Versus Them. They put on a solid show but the lighting was crap. I've since started setting up my own lights. 3/5
All We Destroy

Feb. 11 @ Bottom Of The Hill w/Worm Ouroboros - I took my friend/Set Monkey, Bron, for his birthday to Grayceon's CD release show and they gave out a free copy to everyone who bought a ticket. Sweet deal! Jackie's electric cello is an amazing-looking and sounding instrument and their set was great. Glad I caught them again at the end of the year. 4/5
4Death Angel
Relentless Retribution

Feb. 26 @ Slim's w/Lazarus A.D. - I love thrash shows and this was no exception. Laz A.D. was a great opener and Death Angel really put on a fun show for the hometown crowd. 4/5
In The Arms Of Devastation

Mar. 7 @ Slim's w/ - Kataklysm puts on a good show so I thought I'd go check them out again. They were fun as usual and Decrepit Birth was solid but All Shall Perish...fucking Christ, what a horrible, horrible band. 3/5

Mar. 11 @ Thee Parkside w/Zoroaster - This was my first time at this tiny Venue in SF and it's size made for a pretty fun show. This was Kvelertak's first U.S. show ever and they killed it. Can't wait to see them again. 4/5
Green Naugahyde

Mar. 18 @ The Catalyst w/M.I.R.V. - Fuck yes, M.I.R.V.! I've been waiting for them to play another show for like 8 years. Opening for Primus was the best way to return too. Bron and I took Koog for his birthday and we had a swell time in the Primus pit. Les' stepdad was sitting in the balcony and Les proudly stated that it was the first time he had ever come to see him play. 4.5/5
8Judgement Day
Dark Opus

Apr. 1 @ Rockit Room w/Versus Them - It was John Bush's birthday (J.Day drummer) and he celebrated by having his current and former bands pay live together. I filmed both sets and both bands were awesome as usual. Versus Them brought out some older songs that were re-tooled and they sounded great. 4/5
9Versus Them
A Sunny Day

Apr. 10 @ Kimo's - This is a super small venue with shit sound and poor lighting. I think Matt and Isaac (dudes from VT) only took this gig cuz we were all going to be in the neighborhood to see the band below. This was also the only Versus Them show I didn't film this year. 3/5
10Sleepytime Gorilla Museum
In Glorious Times

Apr. 10 @ The Independent - This show was extremely bittersweet. I got to see one of my favorite bands from college play their final show ever. It was awesome and they played almost every song I wanted to hear. I also met Dominique from Stolen Babies who was running their merch table but there was a somberness to the whole evening. 4.5/5
11Versus Them
A Sunny Day

Apr. 23 @ 19 Broadway - VT played a lot this month and every show was a good time. I don't know what else to write about this band. I work with and see them play all the time and none of you know who they are. Hopefully that will change soon. 3.5/5
Roads To Judah

May 3 @ Sub-Mission - I had just learned of this band maybe a week before this show and decided to check them out. I tend not to go out in SF's Mission District cuz the hipster population is annoyingly high but I had nothing better to do that night. Deafheaven put on quite a show and at one point the Hitler Youth-looking singer threw his mic stand into the audience and hit some poor girl in the side of the head. Ow. This also may have been the loudest show I went to this year. The acoustics in that place are terrible. 3.5/5

May 11 @ Regency Ballroom w/Belphegor, Keep Of Kalessin, Hate, Bonded By Blood - Partway though their set, I was wondering if Sepultura got such shitty openers for this tour only so that they would sound awesome in comparison. Sitting through all the garbage was a chore (I should have gotten there 3 hours late) but Sep was good. Regardless of what you think of them without a single Cavalera brother, they are still a solid live band. 3/5
14Judgement Day
Opus 3 Acoustic

May 13 @ The Uptown - My friend, Aaron, was visiting for a few weeks and I took him to the J.Day show in Oakland the night he arrived. I'd never been to this venue before but it's a pretty cool place. Looking forward to seeing Hammers Of Misfortune and Giant Squid there next month! 3.5/5

May 18 @ Oracle Arena w/Combichrist - Rammstein live is quite an experience. If you haven't been to one of their shows, I recommend it based on spectacle alone. I'm not their biggest fan but holy shit, what a show. Aaron was in heaven singing along in German to almost every song. Koog and I weren't in heaven when we lost him in the parking lot for almost an hour. Other than that, my biggest gripe is with the crowd: Fucking cellphone video bullshit! All I can see are glowing smartphone screens being held up by sweaty jerkbags. No one will want to watch your shaky, unlistenable garbage-ass video. This is only one reason why I tend to stay away from extra large concerts such as this. Whatever... 4/5
16John Wesley

Jun. 16 @ Hotel Utah - My coworker/concert buddy/fellow prog-metal lover, Tam, wanted to see John Wesley when he came to town so I agreed to go even though I don't really like his solo stuff so much. She was buying so, cool, why not? (Thanks, TimTam!) He's a great guitarist but I prefer him with Steven Wilson standing to his left. His anecdotes between songs were the most interesting parts of the set. 3/5
17Giant Squid

Jul. 1 @ Thee Parkside w/Judgement Day and Cormorant - Amazing lineup of bands for this show. I had not even heard of Cormorant before this but that changed very quickly. It seems like 'Dwellings' is on every year-end list I've read. They were great live too. Hooray for Petaluma metal! Also that night, J.Day was awesome as usual and Giant Squid blew my fucking wig back! Jackie from Grayceon is also in this band and I couldn't get enough of her crazy electro-cello. Great show. 4.5/5
18Versus Them
A Sunny Day

Jul. 8 @ Rockit Room w/Stages Of Sleep - During this show, it really seemed like the VT boys were nailing everything and sounding great. It was as if they had reached a new level of awesomeness since the last time I filmed their set. There was more excitement than usual from the crowd, our friends and the band themselves and it felt like some momentum was finally building. All that changed by August when their keyboardist, John, suddenly moved to San Diego to join Endoxi full-time. Just when everything was going so well... 4.5/5
19Judgement Day
Peacocks/Pink Monsters

Aug. 4 @ Great American Music Hall w/Tornado Rider - J.Day's final concert of the year before they went into writing/recording mode was this show opening for one of the strangest bands I've ever seen, Tornado Rider. I can't really say that I liked them much but they were entertaining, especially when the frontman/buff elf cellist started rapping in a made-up language. What the craze? 3.5/5
Chuckles & Mr. Squeezy

Aug. 6 @ Great American Music Hall w/Trophy Fire - Fuuuuuck this show. I really tried to enjoy myself but it just wasn't going to happen that night. I understand that they made a terrible album this year but I figured they'd play some older stuff to balance the complete garbage from this year's album that they'd inevitably play. Sadly, only a couple gems here and there were to be found. Dredg used to be one of my favorite bands and this was a HUGE letdown. I don't think I'll be seeing them again anytime soon. Also, when did Dredg shows become such meat-headed bro-fests? The douche-factor was high at this one. Lame. 1.5/5

Sep. 17 @ Disco Volante - The younger brother of the dudes from Judgement Day recently changed the name and direction (slightly) of his band and the results are stellar. I filmed this, their CD release show, and the energy level was high. So high that the album in no way compares to the live experience. Graham is an amazing songwriter and I look forward to working with him again in the future. 4.5/5
22 Endoxi

Sep. 22 @ Ireland's 32 w/The Hillside Fire - Endoxi is a decent band but I'm not much of a fan. I've seen them too many times because last year, Versus Them played a lot of shows with them cuz the keyboardist was in both bands at the time. Their lead singer is really polarizing, I feel. First he talks about not liking dogs and calls the audience "friends" and "lovers" all night. Anyway, I went for only three reasons. John, the keyboardist, specifically asked me to go, I had recently become friends with the Hillside Fire dudes and Bron said he'd go with me. 2.5/5
23Jonny Keigwin Band
Goodbye Love

Sep. 23 @ 4th Street Tavern w/Bitch Franklin - My friend, Matt from Versus Them, is also in this band and my set monkey, Bron, is now their manager o I went to support my homeboys. Jonny K and The Whatevers seem to always put on shows at the nastiest dive in Marin, the 4th Street Tavern. After listening to the new album several times in the last couple months, it was nice to here the live versions again. Bitch Franklin played a cover of 'The Trooper' by Maiden so that was definitely a highlight. 3.5/5
24Arch Enemy
Khaos Legions

Sep. 26 @ Regency Ballroom w/Skeletonwitch and DevilDriver - Lots of ups and downs at this show: I've seen AE many, many times and while they are great live, I think I'm worn out on them. They seem now to appeal more to a younger/different crowd that I fall into with Angela wearing a "rebel girl" t-shirt during their set. Also, normally, the crowd at AE shows can always be counted on to bring some crazy nonsense but tonight it was pretty lackluster. Right before them was DevilDriver. I kinda enjoy their albums but not enough to really be a true fan. I think they lost me for good after their set. Nothing exciting or memorable other than the new bassist looking like a complete fucking douchebag and acting as if he was only there for the pussy. He held his bass as if it was an extention of his dick, wore a cut-off affliction t-shirt to show off his guns and had more gel in his hair than Wayne Static. God... At least Skeletonwitch was there to show everyone how it's done. Wish they had a longer set. 3/5
The Sleeping Gods

Oct. 13 @ Slim's w/Junius and Alcest - Fuck Yes! I've been wanting to see this band for a long time but never got a chance til this show. They were as awesome as I had hoped and imagined. It doesn't hurt to have two other amazing bands open too. I'm really glad Ghost didn't have their Visa shit in order. I can't stand that band and they were supposed to be on this bill. If they had been, I would not have been able to see Junius again, who are the shit live. Also, Alcest was impressive too. I wasn't expecting their material to translate live too well for some reason. 4.5/5

Oct. 18 @ The Warfield w/Katatonia - This was a weird show. There was a weird energy in the crowd cuz I could feel all night that everyone just wanted to hear something to mosh to. Instead, this was a fairly mellow set. Still great (it's Opeth, duh) but different than what we're all used to. People finally started pushing each other around during 'Slither' and I shoved Tam, my unwilling moshpit participant concert buddy, really hard without knowing it was her until she screamed. Sorry, Tam! 3.5/5
Worship Music

Oct. 23 @ The Warfield w/Testament, Death Angel and Chimaira - This was definitely my favorite show of the year. Every band was great and the pit was insane during Testament and Anthrax. There were moments during Death Angel but I think everyone was saving themselves for the last two. It was weird seeing Chimaira with a much different lineup than usual. They were still good though too. A highlight of the show was when Anthrax covered part of Refuse/Resist. Koog went nuts when he heard those tribal drums. 5/5
28The Devin Townsend Project

Oct. 25 @ Slim's w/The Ocean - This was a great show but I was a bit worn out from the thrash two nights before. The Ocean were cool live and Devin is the most amazing showman. The dude really loves what he does and it shows. 4.5/5
The Hunter

Nov. 3 @ The Warfield w/Red Fang and Dillinger Escape Plan - I've seen Mastodon four times now and this was the best so far. This show also featured the most unexpectedly violent pit of the year. I got smashed in the jaw real hard during 'Spectrelight' but it was bound to happen I guess cuz of the super rough crowd. Tam got some good pics that night too, especially of her boy, Troy. Red Fang was impressive live and I met the frontman outside after the show and he was a super nice dude. DEP is not really my favorite band and live they just come off as barely controlled chaos but they might have had the best highlight of the night when Mike Patton joined them for 'When Good Dogs Do Bad Things.' Also, Aaron had just moved back to San Francisco a few days before and this was his first show back. Aaron! 4/5
30Lazarus A.D.
Black Rivers Flow

Nov. 7 @ Thee Parkside w/Landmine Marathon and Warbringer - I came for Laz A.D. but was impressed with Landmine's ferociousness. Grace Perry has a very commanding stage presence even if their music is very same-y. Lazarus was awesome and there was headbanging a'plenty. My buddy, Aaron, was impressed but by the time their set was over, it was almost midnight on a Monday. Being that I am not a huge fan of Warbringer and had to work at 8 the next morning, we left before they went one. Oh well...at least we got to say hi to Exodus' Gary Holt and his new wife before we left. Hi, Gary. 3.5/5

Nov. 13 @ Rickshaw Stop - Graham and his band opened for some hipster bands this night so his set was short but sweet. My girlfriend was enamored with Whiskerman's awesomeness and was excited to meet Graham after his set. He's definitely a tough act to follow and the first of the aforementioned hipster bands was pretty lame in comparison. I think we stayed for two songs before calling it a night at like 9:30. 3/5
32Nuclear Rabbit

Nov. 19 @ The Fat Cat - Bron, Koog, Aaron and I dragged ourselves out to fucking Modesto to see one of our favorite bands from high school play a reunion show. We had missed the one in Berkeley a week before so we thought it would be sacrilege to not catch them at this show despite them playing 3 hours away. On their facebook, they had asked if anyone was interested in filming the show and I jumped at the chance to capture an old favorite on video. As for the show, the same ridiculous energy is still there and they played a bunch of crowd-pleasers. The Modesto crowd was a bit strange though. Only several people were really getting into it and one of the bigger dudes in the pit kept gunning for me for some reason. Koog acted as a bodyguard and did an admirable job. Go Koog! 4/5
Carbon-Based Anatomy

Nov. 22 @ Slim's w/3 and Scale The Summit - I came for 3, stayed for Cynic and was impressed with Scale The Summit. If you haven't seen 3 live before, I highly recommend it. Great energy and Joey plays his guitar without a pick. What. Cynic was good too although I'm not the biggest fan. I enjoy their music but am not the ultra fanboy like most prog-metal dorks. The vocals are definitely better live than on the albums. Also, I could never really get into Scale The Summit but live they are very impressive. I'd check them out again. 4/5
34Polkadot Cadaver
Sex Offender

Dec. 6 @ DNA Lounge w/Korpiklaani, Arkona and Forged In Flame - Uhhhhhh, what the hell? This was an odd show. P.Dot and Forged In Flame don't fit with these other two bands at all (or each other, for that matter) and the energy and mix of people was strange. Most of the crowd was there for the last two bands, Arkona being the only one I heard anything from. I just couldn't get into the pelt-wearing, bagpipe playing folk metal goofiness and left after two songs. P.Dot was silly as I expected and we're entertaining live. I remember seeing them in college when they were still Dog Fashion Disco and the same kinda vibe was present but the music is a bit more electronic now. The crowd was definitely not into it. At one point, the guitarist jumped into the audience and started a pit that lasted 20 seconds. Then they started picking on a girl who was front and center and clearly not enjoying herself. The guitarist put the stock of his guitar against her head and started shredding. She was a good sport and started laughing. At the end of the set, he grabbed her hand and put his guitar pick in it and promptly left the stage. Awesome. I met Todd, the singer, after the show and talked to him for a bit. He said they'd be touring a lot in 2012. I said I hoped they got on a better tour. 3/5
35Versus Them
A Sunny Day

Dec. 9 @ Rockit Room w/Jonny Keigwin Band and Stages Of Sleep - It was the debut of Versus Them 3.0 at this show with Matt and Isaac playing with two new potential members on guitar and bass. This was the first time they had ever had a show without keyboards and the results were much more rocking than usual which is fine by me. Again, I filmed this set and we got some fun footage. Jonny K was up next (featuring Matt and one of the new guitarists from VT) but I only stayed for a bit before everyone decided to hit the bar across the street. 3.5/5
All We Destroy

Dec. 10 @ El Rio - The last concert of the year was a small but good one. I took Aaron this time to see Jackie and her awesome instrument and they were even heavier than I remembered from the CD release show way back in February. I also really like El Rio even if it's too small of a venue for most bands. We hung out in the spacious patio all night until Grayceon came on and they were playing lots of good stuff not typically heard at most bars in the city like Maiden, Baroness, Enslaved and The Melvins. 4/5
Diamond Eyes

These are concerts that I missed for one reason or another (didn't like the rest of the bands on the bill, too tired, no one to go with, already booked to film another band), the Deftones show being the one I was most disappointed about. I thought I had bought a ticket in advance but when I got to the Warfield, I realized I hadn't and they were sold out. Fuck. Here are some bands that I had been interested in seeing when they came to town but didn't end up going to see: Amon Amarth, Cavalera Conspiracy, System Of A Down, Animals As Leaders/Intronaut (really wish I made it to that one), Down, Kylesa, Textures/Periphery, Dream Theater, Bison B.C./Weedeater, Decapitation/Decrepit Birth and Murs. So...what did you guys see in 2011?
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