Friday, September 30, 2016

My Girlfriend Is An Alien - Last Chance Weekend At Pacific Resident Theatre

The fantastic play My Girlfriend Is An Alien was up last night at the Pacific Resident Theatre, and finally got to see my next door neighbor, Ron Geren, in action. I'm so happy that we have this gem of a theater company right here in Venice, and am always surprised at how many locals have never attended a production there. That you can walk to. Why not break yourself in this weekend and catch this fun in the Co-Op side of PRT, as your last chance is this Sunday's matinee.

I like going in to plays and films not really knowing anything about them, so it unfolds as a surprise. I'm hesitant to even write anything about this play before it's over, because I'd like the same for you, but I also want you to know about it, and GO - so ...

The curtain speech is made by the lead character, Keith DeFacto (Keith Stevenson), who claims to also be its author (but it's really Neil McGowan, directed by Guillermo Clenfuegos), warning the audience not to let their expectations be too high. Keith is a nervous wreck with zero self-esteem, and he just wants some human connection. What he gets instead is an Alien named Carole (Carole Weyers), a co-worker at his office. They meet having lunch on a park bench, and Carole is very convincing as an extraterrestrial, though Keith just sees it as charming, telling her she's like a parrot walking into an office of blackbirds. She falls for it - as would I.

A review posted outside of the theater said that fans of Charlie Kaufman would like this play, and they're right. The fourth wall is constantly broken, the author is ambiguous, it's a play within a play, the sets are changed in front of you, it's sometimes hard to discern if they're actor Keith and Carole or real Keith and Carole, but really it's actor Keith and Carol the whole time ... get it? You will.

Keith and Carole court in real and dramatic life, with a lot of miscommunication and self-doubt on both parts. Like pretty much all relationships. Keith laments at one point that he's a plagiarist hack who only wrote a cheap rip off of Mork & Mindy - which isn't true at all, but it's funny. Ron (my neighbor Ron Geren!) bursts in to help change the set, a bundle of enthusiasm and peer pressure. You miss him when he's not on the stage, and I'm not being biased, just honest.

A scene stealing Doubt (a wonderful Michael Prichard) creeps in, in classic villain mode, top hat, twirling mustache, and all. We laughed just at him entering, and he only got better from there, even reading a review of the play aloud as it was happening (there's the Kaufman flair). Also great was the big dose of Reality (great Dan Cole) that slaps Keith in the face with life (also slapping us and the theater (a "Black, dusty fire code violation") in the face, but no offense taken).

One of my favorite speeches of the play was Keith recalling his first memory, of being warmed by a giant ball of comfort in the sky that he didn't understand, but that's what it felt like to him when he was with Carole. Ummm ... swoon. That pretty much does the trick after Government type agent Elspeth (Elspeth Weingarten) berates Keith, and Carole freaks out on him for being a fake, and Keith is back in there. That honesty and vulnerability (that you wish guys actually had), coupled with the Inspiration (Sophie Pollono) that emerges beautifully out of the darkness, is enough to show Keith that he really is good enough ...,for creating something great, for having friends, and most importantly, for love. Carole voices the truism that "We're all aliens to our own hearts", and that's ok.

Carole finally admits that she is an Alien, and that their main job is still "Breeding pugs, collecting royalties for David Bowie songs, and performing anal probes", but that maybe she really is human and flawed, and maybe KEITH was the Alien all along. This is found out through some "Improv" at the end that I don't want to ruin for you, much like the perfect ending that they find together - much like we all hope to.

I had no idea what to expect when I went into this creative, whimsical production, and I'm so glad, because the entire thing was a delightful surprise. One that I hope you get a chance to see during its Pacific Resident Theatre run, which ends this Sunday at the 3:00 p.m. matinee show. See everything at PRT for that matter ... it's always a joy.

My Girlfriend Is An Alien goes dark this Sunday, October 2nd. See it if you can!

*Photos courtesy Gabriella Gonzalez

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Sigur Rós Live Under The Stars With The International Space Orchestra

Sigur Rós blew minds Saturday with a celestial live performance at the Hollywood Bowl. Blew. Minds. I had never seen the Icelandic group in person, only ever having been deeply mesmerized by their recorded work. I wondered how it would translate to a live show, and the answer is awesomely.

We had to yet again endure awful getting to the Bowl traffic, thus missing (though we left early) almost all of the openers, The International Space Orchestra. Their name alone set the tone, and as I walked in and heard the total chaos of this group comprised of NASA scientists, I kind of did think I was another planet. There was a lot of banging and screaming and feedback and mayhem and now I need to see them again to get what it's all about. The neighboring box tenants told me it was great, if "Experimental" sounding. OK. Again, it did set the tone for anything goes.

The audience mixed and mingled as ominous chords rang out, until suddenly the lights went down and the sold out crowd roar went up. Sigur Rós took the very dark stage and immediately entranced the entire venue playing their opening number, "Á". Singer Jón "(Jónsi!) Thór Birgisson's otherworldly vocals spiraled up into the atmosphere, and we had achieved lift-off. Sigur Rós (there sure are a lot of accents in Icelandic typing!) are entirely original (much like their fellow countrywoman, Björk - what is in those frigid waters?!), as the lyrics are sung in their own language, so even though you truly have no idea what is being sung, you listen just as carefully somehow. This band is a prime example of how absolutely Universal music is. Even in other galaxies, I presume.

There was a video screen backdrop depicting trippy visuals and stark natural landscapes that beautifully illustrated what must have been being sung. As the band (bassist Georg Hólm and drummer Orri Páll Dyrason) soared into "Ekki Mukk", "Samskeyti", "E-bow", "Daudalagid", "Glósóli" and "Smaskifa" (I had the set list for help with that), the music was so atmospheric and surreal, you could look around and see that everyone was rapt, and deeply entranced. The guy behind me (who had a lot to say the whole time) said, "This is like my Xanax." I get it. It was so slow, so deeply beautiful, a real sense of calm came over you, like indeed a musical opiate. The bowed guitar also served to create a unique sound that was part rock/part orchestral/all cool.

Birgisson's voice is boys choir high at times, and as he sings with his eyes closed, I thought he kind of resembled Shepard Fairey a bit, but really, he didn't seem from this planet  ... or rather, maybe it's that he's totally OF this planet ... like, he might get it all better than we do. I don't know ... but I can tell you he led the entire Hollywood Bowl audience through what felt just like a massive group meditation. With wine and cheese.

There was a needed intermission then, which helped to process it all. This is a band credited with Iceland's "Best album of the Century", yet it's almost impossible to describe. It's just special, and one felt united with everyone there experiencing the same beautiful thing together. Wow. Just wow. All of the songs are extra cinematic, made for soundtracks, and have been used in them many times. Though there was so much to see with the visuals on stage, it was also great to just close your eyes and make up your own scenery in your mind in a fully public escape. It was greatness.

The trio came back to perform:

Ny Batteri
Festival (Hey! I know what that is!)

... All of which were stunning. It was a super warm night in Hollywood, and as the California Republic flag fluttered in the occasional welcome breeze, and the cross was lit up behind it on the mountain ... it really did feel holy. The sounds created seemed produced and distorted at times, but it was all live. And trippy. And wonderful. Everything sounded so full and lush with just the three players that now I'm all hyper and intrigued to see them play next April at Disney Hall with the fantastic L.A. Philharmonic. Now THAT promises to be something else.

"Love you Jónsi, you Badass!" that guy behind me yelled, while his box mate yelled, "More light magic!" Though annoying, I agreed wholeheartedly with them both. It's kind of a modern miracle that music like this will sell out the Bowl and leave modern audiences so entranced. This is not remotely mainstream pop, yet there are some artists (often Icelandic) that can do whatever they want, and people will not only listen, but adore it. Birgisson's voice went up to a dog's level of hearing on his last held note, and the resulting screams from fans and feedback from instruments as the band left the stage made me think the International Space Orchestra had returned. They had not, it was just rapturous applause for a rapturous show. There was no encore, and none was needed. The video screen came up with the word "Takk" (Thanks in Scandinavian languages), and I think that's what we all felt. Simply thankful for being there, and sharing in that universal musical embrace. If you get the chance to see Sigur Rós near you ... take it.


*All photos by Paul Gronner Photography

Monday, September 26, 2016

The 32nd Annual Abbot Kinney Festival - FUN In The Sun!

Yesterday was the 32nd Abbot Kinney Festival in Venice, and it was SO. FUN. You never know what kind of day you'll get for the Festival ... we've had totally socked in foggy days, perfectly crisp Autumn days, but yesterday might have been the hottest one I can remember. It was sweltering out, and that just meant that people got all the crazier. Like less clothes, more drinks. One had to stay hydrated, after all.

We had Vikings football in the morning, so that got the party day started, but also meant that we were a bit tardy in getting to the Festival. After a solid Minnesota victory, we raced over to my Abbot Kinney adjacent pad to create a headquarters, and then jumped out into it all. There were so many booths to visit and already half the day was gone, so it was pretty much speed-looking at it all, but not all that speedy because you kept running into longtime Venice folks that you hadn't seen in a while - the best part of the whole affair.

I always call the Abbot Kinney Festival the Venice Homecoming, because it's on this day that all the locals who have been avoiding Abbot Kinney the rest of the year, come out to see each other and celebrate together. It's so fun, and you're guaranteed to run into some of your very favorite Venice characters. I LOVE these people!

Speaking of people I love, my BFF Brigette came down with her darling kids. Newborn baby, Dawsen, showed up for her very first Abbot Kinney Festival! This meant more frequent trips back to headquarters, but that was a welcome reprieve in the crazy heat. Yay babies!

I was happy to see my good friends from Turquoise and Tobacco with a great booth full of the jewelry I was wearing all day ...

My friend Darren Pattanumotana had a booth serving up  her handmade Venice products, from cards to tote bags (that if you missed are also available at Burro!) ...

Another friend, Erica Silverman, had a booth full of her art products, and added to the family affair vibe with her parents visiting from Michigan helping her to man the booth ... Special.

Trim had an all-day Western themed party that was going off so hard that we never even made it inside. It was super hot so we opted for the fresh air partying, but I heard it was extra fun in there, as one would expect!

There was another festival piggy-backing on to the AK Fest this year, and the Venice-Brooks Festival was happening down near the beach where Abbot Kinney turns into Brooks. There were more booths, more food, more drinks, and more people having all kinds of fun in the sun ... so much that it was almost overwhelming. I couldn't stay long because the bulk of my friends were all back at the "Locals" stage at Andalusia, having too much to leave for another festival. It was fun and cool and great reggae beats were spinning all day, and I wish I'd had more time to enjoy it.

Zooming back to Andalusia, I saw all the kids having fun at the Westminster school Kid's Zone, and took in a few more booths that I also wish I'd more time to peruse. There is SO much good stuff going on all day, it's truly hard to get it all in ... but it sure is fun trying!

After baby farewells, I was walking down the sidewalk back to the Locals stage when I heard the end chorus to my friend Matt Ellis' song "Hey, Mister!", a number we all sang back up to on its original recording. I got there to see my pals up on the stage belting it out, so I jumped up there along with them and welcomed kids in the crowd to join us in the anthem protesting all the political injustice going on. As we do. It was a blast, and by now our whole gang was there soaking up all the fun.

Tom Freund and Venice friends/ultra musicians  (David Ralicke, Adam Topol, Steve McCormick, Stan Behrens, etc_!) played us out of the Festival as golden hour set in, and it was sublime. Paul Chesne and Matt Ellis joined the Freund players for a finale of "With A Little Help From My Friends" that pretty much summed up the feeling and the day. All of us really are getting by with a little help from our friends, and it's days like this that let us both remember that, and treasure it. It doesn't really even matter if you're Old or New Venice either ... the vibe is obvious, and the love of Venice is real. And true.

This is where my phone went fully dead, so there could be no more photos ... which might be a good thing. The after-party spread over to Big Red Sun on Rose, with more music from friends, spreading icing on the cake of an already fully great day. I think probably everyone in town went to bed with smiles on their faces last night, as a good time was had by all. Phew!

See you next year, Everybody! (but I hope it's not that long).

*Backup singers photo courtesy of Kelly Rush Frazier

Friday, September 23, 2016

Kelly Slater's Apolitical Process

There was a real fun art opening last night in Venice when Kelly Slater brought his vision of an artistic journey through the 2016 election to the Folding Table Gallery on Main Street. Apolitical Process was curated by PM Tenore and features the work of Kevin Ancell, Todd Glaser, and Bruce Reynolds. All the pieces reflect what's going on in the current mess of getting a new President elected, and aim to expose the truths, dangers, hypocrisy and misinformation, according to the writing on the wall.

The place was jam packed and the crowd was spilling out on to the street on a balmy evening. The bar was open, and everyone was enjoying it as they checked out all the great work. Every last piece was awesome, and meant to provoke discussion and promote the questioning of the powers that be (also on the wall). Right on.

It was all very impressive, and no punches were pulled when it came to skewering those that deserve it. Like Ben Carson. About Guess Who's Coming To Dinner (It's Not Uncle Tom) 2016,  Reynolds captioned with "How a black neurosurgeon who has supported a presidential candidate, who is running a campaign that has courted white nationalism with dogwhistle politics. All coming on the heels  of the first black man to become President Of The United States." With Carson's face on rice boxes. It would be funny if weren't so sad and true.

There were a lot of guns on the walls, which is automatically heavy, especially considering all the shooting of innocent people going on these days. It's hard to even think about ... but we have to. We have to make sense of it somehow in order to STOP. IT.

Reynolds had a bunch of great sculptures, and an obvious intelligence and wit, as seen in his cuckoo clock piece, making a statement even with the material chosen - cuckoo.

One of my favorite Reynolds pieces was Bye Bye Miss American Pie, 2016. Its caption read "This piece represents American Democracy under attack and being stripped of its dignity by this political cycle. AMEN. It's based on the Esquire magazine cover that featured Muhammad Ali after he was stripped of his title for draft evasion - when really he should have been applauded. It's powerful stuff.

Todd Glaser had some gorgeous, silvery photographs, one featuring Slater, who was in the house having a great time with friends and fans alike.

The crowd was heavy on the surfers, of course, and everywhere you looked there was another friend, another local, all there to support both Slater and his very profound vision.

Kevin Ancell painted an entire quiver of Slater's boards in the black and white patterns of an Orca, which Slater asked for after being extra moved by the documentary Blackfish. Names of friends who have passed away were etched into the boards, giving a patina of sadness to the beauty of the memorial.

All the heavy subject matter couldn't put a damper on the spirits of the party goers, however, as everyone was having a grand old time, that got even more fun when the band struck up, with Slater fronting them on vocals. It appears that there is very little that this super man cannot do. Geez.

The band was cranking, turning the energy up even higher in perhaps one of the best reactions to all of the madness that one can have ... as Emma Goldman famously said, "If I can't dance, I don't want your revolution."

Thanks to all involved for a great, thought-provoking, rocker of a night!

Apolitical Process is on now through October 9, 2016. You want to see this show.

Folding Table Gallery
210 San Juan Avenue (corner of Main Street)

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

A Tie-Dye Town

I was out and about last weekend and saw this great display on the fencing around the Venice Post Office. A guy had set up all sorts of tie-dyed items for sale, and it was a fantastic cacophony of color there on Windward Circle. I wish I hadn't been in such a rush so I could have stopped and got this guy's story, and hopefully he'll return. Tie-dye has always represented a nice, hippie vibe to me, an unspoken message of peace and love and grooviness that has always worn well in Venice.

These days, with the encroachment of money and the greed for it, there has been less tie-dye and more designer labels. Less peace and love and more anger and complaining. I've heard a lot more honking in Venice, if that tells you anything. I was in the crosswalk at Venice Boulevard and Abbot Kinney the other day and this woman was laying on her horn and swearing out her window, needing to make her left real bad. I passed by and mentioned that she might think about relaxing, which did not go over well. Neither did my laughing at her yelling at me.

That is not Venice behavior, People. Not the Venice I know and love and fight for. The big Abbot Kinney Hotel project would only make things worse, especially on the traffic tip. No, thanks. They rescheduled the hearing for the project to tomorrow morning at 9:30, and I hope all who can attend in opposition, will. At LEAST sign the petition. I've already written to Bonin, as should you. Real Venice voices need to be heard on this, not just the loudest, wealthiest, and bitchiest (Yeah. You, lady!).  Tomorrow morning. Please use this link for the details:

Stand up to this b.s. Fight the power. Wear more tie-dye. Peace!!!

Monday, September 19, 2016

A Venice Greatest Hits Weekend - From Art To Motorcycles!

This past weekend in Venice was full of the greatest hits of all sorts of fun stuff happening around town, and it was non-stop. I had to miss the Art Crawl on Thursday to attend the supremely awesome Prophets Of Rage show at the Forum, but was happy to hear that they had left up all the Venice Afterburn installations down at the beach for everyone to enjoy for another day. This worked out great because it was all just straight up Windward Avenue from where the Venice sign was about to be lit up in the blue and gold colors of the new Los Angeles Rams. There was a pep rally held in the street on Windward, and I raced back from work to get there in time to see my friend Lacey Kay Cowden regale the sporting fans with her gorgeous songs.

I did not get there in time to hear those gorgeous songs, but I did get there in time to party with everyone. Some (gigantic) Rams were there, the Ram mascot was there, and some Rams cheerleaders too. There was a big inflatable Rams slide for the kids, and blue and gold merch for sale. There was a good crowd there, but it felt more like they were there for the fun of it all more so than that anyone was that hardcore of a Rams fan. It also felt a bit more corporate and advertising like than the emphasis placed on the COMMUNITY at other sign lightings that are for holidays, not billion dollar sports teams. There was the usual oohs and aahs for the lightbulbs changing color and you can now cruise by and see the team spirit for L.A.

Having seen that, we went down to the beach to see the immersive art pieces that had just recently returned from Burning Man. There was all kinds of lit-up attractions, and the most popular seemed to once again be the big Unicorn Trojan horse full of dancers.

I liked a big electric bird the best, especially as it was back-lit by the actual sunset and all the people walking around with glow sticks and groovy outfits.

There was a whole bunch of stuff to see, and a whole bunch of people out seeing it. This was one of those nights that it was perfect to have visitors come down, as there was a spectacle to see in all directions. Venice was really showing off, and everyone was in rare fun form. It was a blast.

Such a blast that it resulted in a later start than planned on Saturday, but once up and about, it was time to start the fun all over again. The Venice Vintage Motorcycle Club was holding its rally in the Venice Boulevard Farmer's Market parking lots again this year, and by the time we got there it was all the way jam packed. Motorcycles of all kinds (from Euro to "Rattiest"!) were lined up to check out, and the roar of bike engines could be heard throughout Venice all day long.

The bands started early and played all day, keeping the fun going. Most bikers and biker friends were squeezed into the beer garden, and it was so fun to see all the Venice faces and do some catching up.
The highlight of the rally is always the Venice Vintage Pin-Up Girl contest and this year was no different. I saw all the beautiful retro-dressed gals walking around, but alas, we had to go before I found out who won. My money was on the burlesque dancer in red ... she was not shy.

I could have stayed at the always very fun rally all day, but had to race off, because then it was time for the annual showing of Grease on the Venice High Football Field. The event seems to get bigger every year, and it's so fun to see everyone's Rydell (Venice) High school spirit. Girls were in Pink Lady jackets and poodle skirts, guys were in greased hair and leather, and they even had a vintage car show on the side of the field with one entry looking a lot like the Greased Lightning car. The whole audience sang along to the words on the screen, and it was good old fashioned family fun in the original drive-in movie kind of setting. All under a spectacular full moon! I love it.

After having big shows and things to attend every night last week, it was actually acceptable for Sunday to come up gloomy and grey. This meant that everyone could kick back and take it easy, which we didn't really do because all the Vikings in Venice got together to see our Minnesota team debut the new Vikings stadium - and WIN! I'm quite sure the team could hear us all the way back in Minneapolis when the clock ran out and they played "Let's Go Crazy"!

A great weekend in Venice, California, to be sure, and I hope yours was excellent too, wherever you may have spent it. But you should have been here.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Prophets Of Rage Make The Forum Rage Again!

The Fabulous Forum raged again last night with the insane in the membrane show Prophets Of Rage put on there last night. Good God!

Talking about how bad the traffic getting to shows in Los Angeles is getting boring, so just know that it was terrible and caused us to miss opening band, Wakrat (which was a bummer because it's Rage's Timmy C's side band that I really wanted to see), and only caught the last couple tunes from the other opener, Awolnation. Sigh. Walking into the Forum, it was clear that show was going to go OFF. The lines for drinks (and merch) were long, and almost everyone was in black, and the majority of the black was t-shirts from either Rage Against The Machine, Cypress Hill, or Public Enemy. Fittingly, as that is the trifecta that makes up the truly SUPERgroup that is Prophets Of Rage.

After procuring the requisite rock show whiskey, I found my seat in time for their last tune, "Sail" which seems to be the hit as people were singing along heartily. Singer, Aaron Bruno, urged the crowd to get into saying, "Everyone on your feet!" Many remained sitting. Then he added, "If you can!" You could see people pause, think about that, and rise to their feet - because they could. Good tactic! I thought it put a good patina of gratitude on the whole affair, ever so subtly. Thank you for the reminder, Awolnation!

Everyone spilled back out into the hallways to get refills and meet up with friends, and then it was time to RAGE! Public Enemy's DJ Lord took the stage to spin all the hip hop and rock favorites that get everyone going, and as each new snippet of a classic hit (Nirvana, Beasties, Tupac, etc...) began, another huge roar went up. The floor was general admission standing - which meant the pit was about to get DANGEROUS. I saw POR at The Palladium last Spring and the pit was lethal looking - and this one was like twice the size. Uh oh.

"Where my hip hop fans at?!" (ROAR!) "Where my rock heads at?!" (ROAR!) "Ladies, where you at?!" (roar. Most of them were still recovering from the Beyoncé show at Dodger Stadium the night before, but there were still some sopranos in the house, and I yelled my loudest.) We were all there! Then the lights went out and in maybe my favorite moment of the show, Mary Morello took center stage to introduce her son's band - "I'm Mary Morello! (A chant began of "Mary! Mary!") "I'm 92 years old!" (THUNDER!) "I'd like to introduce the greatest fucking band in the world - Prophets Of Rage!" Oh. My. Gosh. The place nearly imploded as the air raid signals pealed out and POR took the stage with raised fists. It was POWERFUL in there at that moment, let me tell you.

They lit right into their original namesake song, "Prophets Of Rage"- and the non-stop moshing began right then and there. It was EXCITING. It's a good tune because it really showcases all of the aspects that make each members' original bands shine. Chuck D and B-Real trading off the lyrics, and the mighty power of Tom Morello, Brad Wilk, and Tim Commerford blasting everything into smithereens. "Make America Rage Again - and we are the Rage!" yelled B-Real, and you could certainly see and feel that seething anger down below in that monster pit.

People lost their ever-loving minds at the opening chords of "Guerilla Radio" and when it got to the "ALL! HELL! Can't stop us now!" chorus .... well. You really, really believed it. NOTHING could stop this kind of energy, captured and used for good. That's the idea of the whole operation, you know, even if disguised as a hell of a good time. It can always be both. "What bettet place than here? What better time than NOW?!" Exactly. This band in these times is precisely what is needed. And we all knew it.

"Bombtrack" blew it all up again, and then B Real said they were going to do something special, and they laid a double whammy hybrid of Audioslave's "Cochise" (that thrilled the bros in the house from its opening chopper sounding licks) and PE's "She Watch Channel Zero". It was awesome. Of course. With the ovation that greeted that, B-Real looked real happy and said, "It's good to be home!" It sure was. Especially when "People Of The Sun" happened, leading right into Cypress Hill's "Miuzi Weighs A Ton". Phew. The show never let up for one second, and neither did the crowd. I'm actually worried today about one young man in particular who never once stopped banging his head all the way to his waist and back. Chiropractor time. (I know, 'cause my neck hurts today and I wasn't nearly as zealous as this teenager probably seeing all three bands for his first time. Rad.)

Cypress Hill was celebrating 25 years, and B Real gave a shout out to Sen Dog (who was in attendance) before the band threw down "Kill A Man". The HEAVY bass from Timmy C. (even when pulling double duty this night) and FAT beats from Brad Wilk really shone, and I'm sure the fans that caught the many drumsticks Wilk threw out were fully thrilled. "Take The Power Back" ruled it, and I'll always think Chuck D (in a New York Mets #32 jersey on this night) is just the greatest voice in rap.

Super authoritative and powerful, it commands your attention, and schools you every time. So good. By now the pit was looking extra violent at this point (I saw punches thrown, but then they'd pick the dude up and keep circling around. I don't get aggression on that level, but they sure did), but then these guys had waited a loooong time to see this music again, if they ever had before. The xylophone opening to "Rock Superstar" did no one in the pit any favors, as it just got even bigger from there. Yikes.

"Testify" had people dying, mostly when Morello tore into his solo that begins with his guitar plug on his hand. It was simply monstrous. "How many people fuck with hip hop here?", asked B-Real. A LOT it sounded like. "This music is aggression and in your face. That being said, Chuck and I are going to get in your face!" With that, both legendary rappers climbed into the crowd and performed a medley mashup of their respective bands' hits RIGHT in the fans' faces! "Hand On The Pump/Can't Trust It/Insane In The Membrane/Bring The Noise!" - all delivered flawlessly even as both Chuck and B-Real crowd surfed over the heads of their rabid acolytes. "Ain't Goin' Out Like That/Welcome To The Terrordome (!) and House Of Pain's "Jump Around" blew minds, ear drums, and the roof off - all at once. Trust me.

The boys from Rage came back to slay (Pardon. New Beyoncé fan as well) us all with "Sleep Now In The Fire", and a banner with a big fist (also featured on the most popular shirt for sale) unrolled behind the band. The Rage song had an extra air of menace and ferocity when the lyrics were spat out by Chuck D and B-Real, and folks were getting apoplectic in that dang pit. Bless them and their injuries today. This one had another Morello solo, that simply scorched faces. Charred.

"This is one of my favorite joints", B-Real confided. "It's cardio time!" For us all, because it was "Bullet In Your Head"! The first timer behind me went, "OHHHHHHH FUCK!" and another guy in the next aisle over was dancing so hard it took no convincing to know that he didn't care that anyone was watching. He was LOSING it, in the very best way possible. I was super happy for him, because you could see how SUPER happy he was.

After that total destruction, Morello addressed the crowd with one of his trademark fiery, inspiring speeches. "Are you having a great time, Great Western Forum?!" (Throwback! And yes, we were!) "It's been 17 years since Timmy, Brad and I last played here and we sincerely, humbly thank you for bringing us back to where we belong - and you belong - making America rage again!" He then expressed deep gratitude to their crew and the Forum crew, who all get there long before the show and stay long after to make it all happen. Classy, and every artist should do the same. He let the crowd know that each POR show donates to homeless charities and food shelves in each city, and the recipient of this show was PATH (People Assisting The Homeless), as this is always Rock with a cause. "We come with a simple message. The world won't change itself, it's up to you ... We want a world of justice for everyone, a world where you won't be blown up by a drone or shot by a cop - pray for THAT world!" Agreed. "Stand up against injustice wherever it rears its head, in your home, in your schools, in your community ... but tonight we're gonna have a good motherfucking time, People!" TOTAL agreement. With that spur to our sides, Morello launched into a siiiiick, virtuostic solo to start off the new POR tune, "Shut It Down" - which, after a DJ/Guitar battle between DJ Lord and Morello pretty much did shut down the Forum. But not just yet ...

"We're about to turn it up in here!" shouted B-Real, which I didn't think was possible. But it was. "Know Your Enemy" nearly made some cry "Uncle!", but they didn't, and a good thing, because there was STILL a lot of rock to go. When the crowd chanted "All of which are American Dreams!" over and over, it made you believe that some of them might yet be possible. I hope. "The Party's Over" took it down a slight notch, but only because most there don't yet know the original POR jam. Yet.

"It sends a strong message that you all want this message ... stand up and organize ... We are your voice, and you are our voice!" B-Real spoke that truth by way of introducing, "No Sleep 'Til L.A." which mashed up with "Fight The Power" - one of my all time faves. Wilk was SMASHING his kit to bits here, Timmy C. was nearly doing the splits and soaking wet, and Morello laid down yet another incendiary solo, complete with a teeth playing that revealed his "No One For President" sign. That's my vote. Morello then played an "I Am The Highway" sounding guitar intro for what became ... OMG ... "Bulls On Parade"! As I looked down upon the pit, all I could think - or write - was OUCH. For real.

"Make America Rage A-fucking-gain!" WOOOOO! "We'd like to welcome our good friend, Dave Grohl to the stage!" WHAT?!?! As you can imagine, shit went crazy. Crrrazy! Grohl came out for a searing take on the MC5's "Kick Out The Jams" that featured him and Morello trading licks and going for absolute broke. Like BONES broke. Grohl also took over vocals, and all you saw were camera phones and limbs in the air. We were all a flailing. sweaty mess and when B-Real yelled, "Dave Rocking Grohl! Wasn't that fucking AWESOME?!", not a soul could argue. PHEW.

And it STILL wasn't over! Madness and mayhem took completely over when "Killing In The Name" happened next. The now decades old lyrics could have been written last week as we all know that "Some of those who work forces, are the same who burn crosses". Fact. By the time they got to the "FUCK YOU, I WON'T DO WHAT YOU TELL ME!" chorus (also a popular shirt), it was beyond chaos in there. Beyond. Bodies were launching through the air, and the ones that weren't all had those fists raised. In full solidarity.

Morello threw his guitar to his tech and screamed "Fuck Yeah!" So did we. The band plus Grohl all took their bows, then turned around for one enormous selfie with the crowd and all the raised fists together, as they've been doing in every city, creating a tableau of images spelling out the massive Power of the People. "We are Prophets Of Rage! Vote NO on Prop 64!" shouted B-Real (in reference to the marijuana legalization vote. Noted.) as the band, having given their ALL, left the stage to the tune of Willie Nelson singing, "The Party's Over". There was no encore, as I really don't think the crowd could have handled any more. Seriously.

As the fans streamed out into the Forum parking lot, I saw a lot of folks assessing their bodily damage, and heard a lot of them discussing their feelings on the show. ALL were fully stoked, though divided some on their loyalties. Many loved all three bands and thought the bringing of them together to be the very best thing of all time. Others thought that without Zack de la Rocha and his ferocity in delivering his words, some of the RAGE was missing. I get it, I do. But I'm also beyond grateful that this music is being heard PERIOD in these times. It's crucial listening, and if you're NOT outraged in these times, you're really not paying attention.

Heart-deep thanks goes out to these true American soldiers, shining a light on injustice and sticking up for the People, in the truest sense of patriotism I know of - doing what is right, and speaking out against what is not. Oh, and for putting on one hell of a show. Solidarity, Brothers!

*Photos courtesy of Paul Gronner Photography.
**Except group photo ripped from Morello's Instagram - thanks!