ALEX REVIEWS MUSIC (ARM): FEVER 333 IN CONCERT AT BLONDIES | 2019-01-18

We haven’t done these live show reviews in a very long while on these premises and it’s probably no coincidence that this new found motivation saw fit to strike again by way of former letlive. chief instigator Mr Jason Aalon Butler. These days Jason is perusing away from his home Los Angeles neighbourhood of Inglewood as he preaches, educates, and evangelises the masses by spreading political and socially conscious predicaments through the music and teachings of his new hip-hop/rock outfit Fever 333. It probably comes with no big surprise to any one reader that said alternative group has found its way onto the editorial gatekeeping of this very web property several times before. But let us now take a quick step back as we attempt to retrace the unfolding of subsequent happenings that brought yours truly to the epic and lush live show discerned hereby, as it is indeed no conventional chain of events. So, a bunch of months back I stumbled upon a pretty low-profile and innocuous tweet by UK alternative rock-fuelled publication Kerrang!, asking fans of the band to share their favourite Fever 333 tune explaining why they chose that particular song via an email to the newsroom. Whoever sent through their entry was then eligible to win exclusive tickets to a special and secret event with the band held in London, UK, on Wednesday 28th November last year. And here comes the first plot twist: after submitting my personal essay, it turned out I had miraculously won a pair out of about fifty of said tickets, revealing that my favourite Fever 333 song to date was “Soul’d Me Out” off their debut EP Made an America, going as far as shamelessly self-quoting the ARM review that dropped earlier last year as supporting evidence for my liking, stating:

“[O]ne can’t say enough good things about this cut, from the outstanding and groovy drumming work, to the fast and violently distorted guitars, passing through arguably Jason’s best vocal performance in years and a counter-intuitive yet perfectly adhering plain-landing chorus exclaiming simple but upfront lyrics, via a vocal line no too dissimilar from a lullaby melody (“Sell me out down the shallow river / Could I hate you more? / Could I hate you more?“), just moments before collapsing and disappearing into a scratching scream chanting the song’s central topic, perfectly mocked and intertwined with the expansive meaning of its title: “Sold me out, sold me out / You sold me out to the highest bidder / Sold me out, sold me out / You sold me out to the highest bidder“.”

Alongside the announcement of my victorious submission quest came various instructions that spilled the beans as to what the secret event was actually going to be, namely an extremely exclusive and intimate live performance by the band at North East London’s dive bar Blondies, an impromptu – and truly goddamn tiny small – venue that I only later found out regularly doubles as hosting space for Kerrang!’s Live in the K! Pit video series. The feature puts on regular underground live shows with no stage for about 50 fans, goes on to record them, and converts them into audiovisual transmissions syndicated online. Needless to say, excitement peaked at unprecedented heights, and unsurprisingly the actual live performance by the Los Angeles supergroup turned out to be nothing short of amazing. At this stage it might also be worth stressing out how this very show got squeezed in-between a very dense and relentless tour gig schedule that Fever 333 was under at the time, specifically supporting British metalcore giants Bring Me The Horizon across the UK and Europe. Wednesday 28th November, the night of the London secret show, was in fact their last “free day” before wrapping up the month-long touring leg with two enormous and bombastic final shows at the British capital’s Alexandra Palace venue (one of which – the Friday 30th one – I subsequently planned to attend as well, and so I did). Thus, on the last free evening of their extenuating tour schedule, the three Fever 333 minstrels decided to gift a very small portion of lucky fans one of the most electrifying and insane shows, further devoting part of the audience donation money collected at the door to charity, a regular praiseworthy tradition the group has been maintaining almost ever since its inception in 2017 alongside the creation of the Walking In My Shoes Foundation.

As soon as I got to the Hackney venue with my +1 and realised how infinitely minuscule the place actually was, I started to fundamentally wonder how on earth a punk rock show could have taken place in such a tiny room. Mind you, just to open up a quick parenthesis, as far as lead crowd instigator Jason Butler is concerned, a punk rock show is not simply some kind of slightly faster and more energetic version of your standard run-of-the-mill rock concert. No, ladies and gentlemen, live shows involving Jason are proper mental apeshit cathartic experiences taking up the form of intense collective electric explosions. You are all just one quick YouTube search away from witnessing his live show wilderness in all its glory. Consume responsibly though. So back to our regularly scheduled programme; as me and +1 enter the tiny dive bar, we notice how Blondies was already fully saturated and crowded from left to right, wall to wall, top to bottom. Admittedly, we were among the very last ones to make it to the secret location before their strict 8pm show start, which coincided with the venue’s door lockdown with no late admission allowed anymore. So that y’all esteemed readers can picture this, believe it or not, the entrance portion of the bar-turned-club was where stickman Aric Improta’s drum kit and a few free-floating mic stands were set up, making it the de facto impromptu same-floor-level “stage”, forcing the band to symbolically climb onto it from the main front door of the club, which made for a curiously unusual show entry to say the least (considering that the band had to hop onto the dive bar via the outside street).

An all-black canvas hooded Jason Butler was first to enter the ridiculously crowded and already steamy room, as a selection of scattered politically-oriented soundbites played in the background, followed shortly thereafter by technical drumming extraordinaire Aric Improta and electric guitars shredder and part-time model Stephen Harrison, moments before turning into the first abrasive drum patterns of new single “Burn It”, which anticipates the group’s first studio album outing Strength In Numb333rs, out worldwide today (happy release day, fellas). All hell broke loose after about 30 seconds into the song as Jason’s raw and biting scream welcomed Stephen’s big and crunchy distorted riff, potently guided by Aric’s stomping drums throughout the whole duration. As soon as the intro track finished, Jason immediately jumped into the raw and fiery primal scream of genesis heavy hardcore number “We’re Coming In”, FEVER 333’s first track ever to be written and unveiled to the world two years ago, shouting the now iconic call to arms: “So let me tell you about / Where all my people from / Where all my people from / We hear them sirens come and then the people run“. After the insane energy of their mission statement anthem, the band turned to their flagship song and debut EP title track “Made an America”, a topical and poignant cut for which the group got nominated for Best Rock Performance at the 61st Annual Grammy Awards just one week after this very show. Now, let that sink in just for a quick second. Insurgent, reactionary, and socially-conscious punk/hip-hop outfit FEVER 333 nominated for the preppiest, most corporate, self-indulgent award show ceremony in the space. How’s that for an irony. The times they are a-changin’.

A middle show section in which Jason found himself navigating every corner of the crowd’s meanders saw the inclusion of the brilliant ‘for the people’ equality hymn “One of Us”, a spectacular wandering beat box and drum solo fight between Jason and drummer Aric, as well as the potent and angry standalone single “Trigger”, explicitly denouncing the widespread virus of gun possessions and related violence in the USA. The singer and crowd instigator also took away some time to pledge a sincere and heartfelt tribute to all the women and girls in the room (Blondies is run by three sisters, Ed.) before launching into what is arguably FEVER 333’s biggest song to date, Walking In My Shoes. The short but extremely intense and captivating set got capped off by the wild, visceral, and abrasive Hunting Season off their debut EP, which gave everyone one last deserved yet barely exhausting chance to lose their collective minds whilst Jason and Stephen mixed up into a sweaty and squashed crowd all the way to the bar counter. The public display of musical insanity and individual freedom finally got to a plateau state, ears still ringing louder than ever and mics still hanging from ceiling pipes.

It probably comes with no surprise to any of you that the good people over at Kerrang! did indeed film and edit the whole performance with great love and curation. In fact, the final video version of the half-hour set just literally came out today in concurrence with FEVER 333’s album debut, and is now uploaded on the publication’s official YouTube channel. It is with great admiration, humbleness, and satisfaction that I report said broadcasting transmission to you all esteemed readers just below in form of a digital streamable video feed, embedded for your unbiased and unlimited viewing pleasure. So what else is there to say about a truly unique, mystical, and intimate experience so wonderfully captured in audiovisual form? Virtually nothing, hence why I choose to leave you with a tiny little piece of anecdote that might not be as easily retrievable on the Interweb (or perhaps it is by now, admittedly some months have past since I heard it). During their final Friday night opening slot for BMTH, Jason revealed how FEVER 333 had to drop the “THE” from their official band name for legal reasons, presumably on account of some form of name trademark infringement notice recently put forward against them by a third party. Fun fact: Jason elucidated the crowd on their recent legal dispute whilst tearing down their gigantic white stage backdrop banner flashing what at this point was the outdated (and illegal) THE FEVER 333 emblem, successfully tearing it down from hanging up above Aric before wrapping it all up into one indistinguishable piece of enormous candid cloth that got eventually donated to a resonating and salivating front-row audience. Arguably, there is no better symbolic rite of passage analogy for such an urgent and important punk rock outfit entering their next successful artistic phase, accompanied by a new name, a flattering Grammy nomination, a new fierce studio album, and all of the same old revolutionary aggression fuelled by social justice.

FEVER 333 played:

Burn It

We’re Coming In

Made an America

One of Us

Beatbox & Drum Solo

Trigger

Walking in My Shoes

Hunting Season

I’d like to thank you sincerely for taking the time to read this and I hope to feel your interest again next time.

B3 FR33. Letting them know, there is a fever coming…

AV

fever-333-strength-in-numb333rs

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ALEX REVIEWS MUSIC (ARM): LETLIVE. IN CONCERT AT THE DOME | 2016-04-23

It’s been a little while since I last told the Interweb about a live music experience within the frame of this blog’s ARM feature, thus what better occasion to make up for it than trying to narrate the inhuman and all-encompassing energy usually brought forward by L.A.-based punk/post-hardcore band letlive.? Yes, I know, despite what you’re thinking that is indeed the actual way to spell their name, one word with period, go check that out if you don’t believe it. The four-pice outfit is currently performing a short leg of European dates before returning home for the official release of their highly-anticipated fourth album If I’m The Devil…, due on 6th June and wonderfully previewed by the politically-fuelled single “Good Mourning, America“, a track that many people already define as punk’s response to Kendrick Lamar’s socially aware hip hop undertones. In fact, letlive.’s been experiencing some certain kind of hype since their sophomore record Fake History, released in 2010 and widely praised by fans and critics ever since. Not necessarily the most melodically and lyrically accessible band, letlive. has seen developing an extreme cult following over the years, largely propelled by their general avoidance of commonly traditional marketing/promotional methods, rather investing almost all of their efforts in pushing word of mouth propaganda among their existing and new fans and delivering radical live experiences for their audience.

Yesterday’s concert was my second time seeing them live, though I must say the two occasions are practically incomparable, for many reasons. My first witnessing of their disruptive and inspiring live performances was in Zurich back in September 2011 when they were supporting UK anthemic rockers Enter Shikari. I didn’t know them at the time and incidentally also came a little too late to their set as I in fact probably only got to see half of their show, obviously reinforcing the thesis that at the time I was there merely because of the British headliners. However, those 25 minutes I experienced with letlive. on stage – or rather more offstage I would say as eclectic and energetic frontman Jason Aalon Butler kept backflipping and crowdsurfing most of the time – were no short of a premonition of their promising potential, and if their live stage presence was to be any kind of a sign of their musical force on the records too then it quickly became clear that I had to engage with the band at some point. And so I did, catching up with Fake History after their re-release under Epitaph Records  and most importantly witnessing the relevance and intensity of their third record The Blackest Beautiful in real time, albeit needing a little while to grow on me. The time had slowly come to experience them live as headliners, hence changing a whole lot of perspective compared to when I first shared a room with them in 2011.

Fast forward a couple of years and here I was at their first London show in quite some time at Tufnell Park’s The Dome North of town. Unsurprisingly supported by raw and violent Birmingham-native trio Youth Man, letlive. was once again nothing short of amazing. Taking the stage with British precision at 9pm o’clock, the L.A. punks filled the small capacity venue with dances, mosh, sweat and positive energy for over an hour. The buzz and wilderness between the four walls was extremely intense, testified by yours sincerely as someone who’s always been into punk live shows and who could only physically coexist in the front rows for about half of the 15-song set, before backing up a little and resting a heavily sprained ankle (here’s lookin’ at you, “The Sick, Sick, 6.8 Billion”). The vibe was unlike most of nowadays’ gigs: almost no one bothered to pick up smartphone and record a thing (my bad for the one attached below…), the mosh pit was completely real, relentless and dope, boys and girls of all age embracing each other bro-fisting, smiling and screaming at the top of their lunges angst-filled lyrics with rare liberation. All this back backed with an impeccable performance on the part of letlive. – incidentally backed by a additional touring guitarist Mishka Bier after the departure of legacy member Jean Nascimento less than a year ago – with Jason Butler’s singing at this best on tunes such as “The Dope Beat”, new single “Good Mourning, America” and emotional encore-opener “Pheromone Cvlt”.

The band’s rhythm section was no different, it just worked perfectly without ever overdoing while at the same time arguably being the driving force behind groovy and flowy tracks like “White America’s Beautiful Black Market”,  “Casino Columbus” and, according to Jason’s intro to the song, live rarity “Lemon Party”. The whole thing simply sounded rad – acknowledging that the backing rhythm guitar is in this regard essential and much needed to complement and thrive a proper wall of sound – while the physical and visual addition of infinite crowd-surfing, stage invading and high jumping just rendered the whole occasion a true rarity. Again, this appears particularly true if compared to the majority of shows in this day and age (and I consider myself a heavy-concert goer thus with some degree of legitimacy in claiming this), that unfortunately seem to manifest themselves more within the screens of smartphones than in the body and souls of the attendees. For real though, who really looks back at all the shitty and low-fi pics and videos recorded during gigs?

However, if I were to spot a flaw during yesterday’s performance – come on, in the end this is indeed a review feature – I must say, with the exception of the aforementioned “Good Mourning, America”, I was slightly disappointed by the lack of further new material showcased at the gig. That is, with just over a month to go before the release of the new album, it’s probably not too far off to expect a bit more previews into what the new output really holds for us. In fact, I initially thought that whole reason for this short pre-release European tour was to actually present some new tunes satisfying a long-lasting appetite from truly devoted fans. Yet, nothing new except for what’s already out there. Though I guess this must have a more than valid reason, and probably I dare to say that to some degree letlive. understandably wants to enjoy as long as possible the overwhelmingly positive reaction to their latest single, which last night had Jason shouting the following in the middle of song: “Fuck, this came out two weeks ago and everyone knows all the words already!”. Word of mouth really does work for them, I guess.

This is the rad setlist letlive. performed:

Banshee (Ghost Fame)

That Fear Fever

The Dope Beat

White America’s Beautiful Black Market

Younger

Casino Columbus

Good Mourning, America

Le Prologue

The Sick, Sick, 6.8 Billion

Muther

27 Club

Day 54

ENCORE

Pheromone Cvlt

Lemon Party

Renegade ’86

I’d like to thank you sincerely for taking the time to read this and I hope to feel your interest again next time.

Listen to letlive. ll.ove.

AV

Letlive._22.04

ALEX REVIEWS MUSIC (ARM): RYAN ADAMS IN CONCERT AT HAMMERSMITH APOLLO | 2015-03-01

I haven’t stated anywhere that the ARM column would have been limited only to actually recorded music or album releases in general. Therefore, I’m now totally exploiting the opportunity to share some lasting emotions and perennial thoughts I’m currently experiencing derived from the show I attended last Friday night, namely Ryan Adams’s Londoner stop at a sold out Hammersmith Apollo supported by the lovely and extremely talented Natalie Prass. Not only was the venue itself fabulous and breath-taking, but also the overall experience provoked by the magic force of the US alt-country rocker was truly one of a kind. I won’t forget it anytime soon for sure.

I gotta say, this was the first time seeing him live for me. It’s also fair to say that it’s only recently, let’s say the past two or three years, that I’ve really gotten into him and his repertoire. Also, I’ve been literally obsessed with his last self-titled album having it on repeat since last December. It just encapsulates everything modern rock music should be about: from the widest range of transmitted emotions to a large variety of incredible and good-sounding melodies, harmonisation, and songwriting. With that said, I was obviously extremely delighted to notice how Ryan played a good six songs off of such newest effort, including amongst them Grammy-nominated rocky intro “Gimme Something Good”, personal favourite and emotionally intense “Stay With Me”, as well as the delicate and fragile ballad “My Wrecking Ball”, which all appear to me as very good examples of how stunning this last album really is. But there was a lot more to it than a wonderful set-listed focus on his most recent self-titled output, which I undoubtedly took as a personal gift arranged relying on the fact that I was in the audience. Jokes aside, with over two hours of live performance and an overall amount of 23 songs played (see setlist below), Ryan had the chance to navigate through his immense and highly-prolific catalogue spanning over more than 15 years and ranging from intimate tunes such as “Dear Chicago”, “My Winding Wheel”, and “Oh My Sweet Carolina” (performed as a wonderful duet with opening act Natalie Prass), going through more well-known tracks like “New York, New York” and “When the Stars Go Blue”, all the way until the more recent “Kim” (probably one of the greatest songs of 2014) and the Springsteenian “I Just Might”.

Another element that made Friday night unforgettable was the spectacular choreography that was set up as background to Ryan and his backing band The Shining (by the way, very convincing), showing a rather minimal design composed of many fragmented light bulbs attached across the whole surface that worked just perfectly. Moreover, yet another highlight of the evening occurred as the North Carolina-native successfully improvised a brand new song out of a random line shouted at him by a member of the audience (“I Ate Something Off The Street”), which not only received massive praise from the whole public and was in fact as pretty great as it was hilarious, but it also warmed up well Ryan and his guitar before jumping into the aforementioned “Kim”.

Yet, I must say the best moments for me were both the absolutely touching “This House Is Not For ‘Fucking’ Sale” (as introduced by Mr Adams himself), to which for a fair amount of reasons I can relate so much, and the last two songs of the evening, the forte-piano-driven “I See Monsters”, which took whole new forms and dimensions  performed live, and the classic folky tune as well as fans-favourite “Come Pick Me Up” (also accompanied by a lovely vocal dialogue with Prass). The closing track is probably his most famous recorded one, and for that matter it really didn’t disappoint live either, as much as the overall show in general. Moreover, acting as a sort of almost surreal glue keeping the gig together, there was a deep sensation of emotional involvement experiencing on the part of all of the audience members, without any kind of social compromising camouflage. That is, before last night I’d never had the sensation of being among a crowd of over 8000 people all keeping unbelievably quiet and standing literally still for Adams’s most delicate solo performances in order to enjoy them as intensively as possible. You really almost couldn’t hear any kind of noise coming from the audience, and still if you’d looked around, there’d have been an overwhelming wave of other companions coming from all directions simply looking at The Man and sipping from bottles of beer or cheap glasses of wine. In fact, it was something unique, rare, intimate, and shared among many fellow-attendees at the same time. It showcased a beautifully inspired Ryan, who didn’t step back when it was time to joke around with the mic and interacting with the audience, but who also took care of taming the stage with just his emotional voice and the help of six strings on an acoustic guitar. Everything worked out so perfectly well. Everything from the music, through the choreography, to the fans’ reaction. Unsurprisingly, after all, since it’s Ryan Adams.

This is the rad setlist he performed:

Gimme Something Good

Let It Ride

Stay With Me

Dear Chicago

This House Is Not For Sale

Everybody Knows

My Winding Wheel (acoustic solo)

Dirty Rain

Magnolia Mountain

New York, New York

I Ate Something Off The Street (improvisation)

Kim

Two

My Wrecking Ball

I Just Might

I Love You But I Don’t Know What To Say

Your Fool (Natalie Prass cover)

Oh My Sweet Carolina (w/ Natalie Prass)

La Cienega Just Smiled

Trouble

When the Stars Go Blue

I See Monsters

Come Pick Me Up (w/ Natalie Prass)

I’d like to thank you sincerely for taking the time to read this and I hope to feel your interest again next time.

AV

Source: Gigwise

Source: Gigwise