The fans made the pilgrimage on Rocktober 16 & 17 from L.A., out-of-state and from other countries, which includes Canada and Mexico, to see their favorite band perform in support of their sixth album “Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino.”
The first night was scary packed and brought back memories of seeing The Beatles there back in 1964 when the crowd was absolutely crushing and made it difficult to maneuver around. The crowd actually crushed a car while attempting to get a look-see as The Beatles went speeding out. The second night was packed, but not a crazy herd-like packed.
The sold-out shows were to say the least like attending a Rock N’ Roll revival with attendees shining their cell phone flashlights and singing along with frontman Alex Turner as he mesmerized the audience with his acute observations of life put to lyrics and sung in a voice that has been said to be a falsetto, which is downright sexy to this fangirl.
Many of the out-of-towners came from other countries because they were not able to or could not see the Arctic Monkeys perform where they live and were afraid to wait because there was always the possibility that the band would go on another hiatus without them being able to enjoy their live performance. They all surmised that it was well worth the expense to make the pilgrimage to their “Mecca.”
The stories varied as to how their fans discovered the Arctic Monkeys. Some heard a song somewhere and went out and purchased the recording while others had the band recommended to them on streaming services because they liked The Strokes or The Vines. Some said that the suggestions bothered them and didn’t want to like the Arctic Monkeys, but in the end, they are glad they broke down and listened.
I first heard the Arctic Monkeys when I was living in Santa Barbara. While walking through the local Urban Outfitters, I heard a song that really spoke to the punk rocker in me and I stopped shopping and listened. No one in the store knew who it was so I quickly left and went to the nearby record store and asked there.
The clerk said the Arctic Monkeys rather proudly and informed me that I had heard “I Bet You Look Good On The Dance Floor.” The tune quickly found a home on my iPod. That was in 2008. Later on, in 2011, a friend sent me a press release about them and asked me to post it on the Facebook pages of music magazines that I thought would pay attention. Then in 2012 the Arctic Monkeys performed at the Summer Olympics at the 02 Arena in London and performed a medley of Beatles songs and that sealed my fangirl status and I was hooked. Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr were in the audience and gave the Arctic Monkeys a thumbs-up.
For super artist manager Vicky Hamilton, her fangirl status occurred while she was rushing to work. “Do I Wanna Know” came on the radio and Hamilton had to pull over and Shazam the tune to find out who it was. Hamilton immediately rushed out to purchase “AM” and became an avid fan that owns all of their recordings.
While Hamilton considers herself a latecomer to the party, she has managed to see the Arctic Monkeys perform in Paris and wrote an article about the show. Hamilton believes that “the Arctic Monkeys are the best band out there today" and feels that "Turner is an amazing songwriter. His lyrics are clever short stories that are relatable to nearly everyone. His voice is soothing, warm and believable. Alex writes what he knows and could be this generation's, David Bowie.”
Hamilton adds that “The Arctic Monkeys are on their way to superstardom, mark my words. I’ve been in this business a long time and very few bands inspire me to want to buy records, tickets and merchandise. I want to share them with the world.”
I could not agree more with Hamilton. I never go to see a band a second night in a row, but I did with the Arctic Monkeys and made darn sure that I was right up front. Many people in the music business, as well as music critics, have compared Turner to David Bowie and after seeing them for the first time at The Hollywood Bowl I tend to agree. While the band doesn’t put on theatrical makeup and costumes, the music speaks for itself.
These two concerts were a clear-cut demonstration as to why the Arctic Monkeys are the biggest band in the UK.
With Matt Helders, Jamie Cook and Nick O’ Malley also “bringing it,” their shows were epic by Hamilton’s standards and awesome by mine. It is magic that the guys even have “Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino” because several sources have said that Turner was dealing with a writer’s block of sorts. A close friend had told Turner that perhaps “not doing that for a moment” would aide him in not writing love songs this time out. Shortly thereafter Turner became inspired by Federico Fellini’s film “81/2.”
While “Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino” is definitely a departure from previous works, don’t write it off because it doesn’t have the edginess of past compositions. And while this work has left behind the punkish, danceable rock gems of the past and goes off into a realm of conceptual space tripping, this album is a full-blown masterpiece that has only been hinted at in prior albums.
As for the other two acts that opened for the Arctic Monkeys, it was an opportunity to hear other newer acts and their music.
Mini Mansions and The Lemon Twigs both possess their own charms, however, Mini Mansions only seemed to come alive when the Arctic Monkeys’ Helders jumped into the fray and played the drums at which point the Mini Mansions came alive. Hamilton believes that Helders is one of the best drummers in the business today. I agree up to a point, but my heartbeat still resides with Blink 182 drummer Travis Barker who is set to return to Blink 182 soon for a stint in Las Vegas.
The Lemon Twigs
The Lemon Twigs were a theatrical hoot with frontman Michael D’Addario prancing around much like Mick Jagger did back in the day and charming his audience with tales of LSD, God and a potpourri of other transcendental incidents. Michael did seem to exude a panache that reminded me of Tim Curry in “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” Brian D’Addario gave me a twinge of nostalgia with his presence, mannerisms and music, which brought to mind Flying Burrito Brother Gram Parsons. The music gave sway to a Ballroom Blitz by Sweet sound which is a good thing.
Their set consisted of music from “Go To School” which is a concept album about a childless couple that adopts a child. What with Michael’s sassy ’tude, the whole set was quite entertaining, especially when he unplugged another band member’s guitar which led to his sitting down in the midst of a song.
Prior to rushing over to The Hollywood Bowl on Tuesday night to see the Arctic Monkeys, Dallon Weekes of Panic! At The Disco fame was hosting an EP release party for his new band IDKHow… at The Hotel Cafe was also on our music agenda.
Weekes’ new music is melodic, danceable with a sound that reminds me of a band called “Red Heaven” whose music had a dark and erotic quality to it which should have been used as a music score for an Anne Rice “Vampire” novel turned film. Weekes summons to mind Brandon Lee in “The Crow”; deep, dark and smoldering.
With a nod to Kraftwerk this new music stands out and is heavily driven by techo. Although there are only two people in this band it sounds like there are more. Weekes plays guitar plus the assorted techno additions and Ryan Seaman is playing drums. Seaman is formerly of Falling In Reverse and The Brobecks.
Interestingly the name of the band is a line out of the film “Back To The Future.”
Standout songs include “Choke” and “Do It All The time” which have been described as bewitching but can also be described as having sarcastic, catchy lyrics with a hint of old-time burlesque pomp. Congratulations to Fearless Records for signing this very artsy band and to Heidi Robinson-Fitzgerald for bringing IDKHow… to my attention.