2012 Concert Year In Review

Last year (2011), I saw about 80 shows.  For 2012, I attended over 100 concerts – my new all-time record.    I saw many different styles and witnessed all kinds of neat things over the year.   It took a lot of dedication and planning (I regularly see multiple shows on the same day if I can time it correctly) and, in looking back, I managed to document WAY TOO MUCH – I may have gotten just a bit carried away.  Here I look back on some of the most memorable moments of my concert year.   (I’ll add extra posts about the more “guitar-oriented” and other specific stuff later on.)

Best Concert of the Year


Dream Theater

Just like last year, they easily played the best concert.  Even though I’d like to switch out the vocalist and the venue’s sound wasn’t as good as normal, it still was the best show of the year (and the most expensive ticket that I gladly paid for ).

Surprisingly Great Shows


I liked his hit song enough to get a rally good seat for cheap to watch his show at the Greek Theater.   It was phenomenal.   I knew none of his music and loved the entire performance.   I wish I had caught him again in Santa Barbara.


Kill Devil Hill

Vinnie Appice’s new band is great.   I didn’t think much of what I’d heard from samples of their music until I saw them play live and consider them one of the better new metal bands out there. 




Nightwish is one of the first concerts I saw in 2012.  Not knowing anything about them when I got a ticket,  it somehow ended up being one of the best concerts of the year.  It was cool symphonic hard rock.  The singer has since been booted from the band, but I thought she was good.  and the band is exceptional.

Tommy Emmanuel


I heard he was an ace on the guitar, but I had no idea how incredibly talented this guy is.   I’ve never seen one guy on a guitar be so single-handedly entertaining for an entire show like he did and is probably one of the best guitarists ever. 

Filter/ Julien-K 

I went to see Julien-K (I’ve really liked their shows in the past), but ended up LOVING Filter, who I never hardly pad any attention to over the years.  They were way beyond good.  It was heavy and it rocked with Jeff Friedl on drums.      It also had the best moment I witnessed in concert this year   I’m still floored by how good there were.  I really had no idea.



Kreator / Accept

I didn’t know what to think when I went to this show and it turned out to be awesome.   This was one of the heaviest shows I’ve ever been to.   Accept played some killer heavy metal (Mark Tornillo does a great job singing) and Kreator played an incredibly solid, yet brutal set.   The crowd was also amusing to watch.    The lights and the music was just crushing.    I was afraid at times that I was going to have a seizure.   And that was the craziest slam pit I’ve ever seen.    I thought the walls of the Avalon were going to collapse.    The best part of the show?  We got to watch the show while sipping drinks and  sitting on nice couches instead of getting squished like a bug in the slam pit.   I’m surprised the building didn’t crumble. 


Ringo Starr and His All Starr Band

I ended up sitting by the VIP boxes and watching the entire show.   Steve Lukather, Richard Page, Mark Rivera, Gregg Bissonette were the all stars and, from start to finish, the show was way better than I expected it to be.   Joe Walsh played, they did  Toto songs, Mr. Mister songs, Beatles songs – and the encore had tons of musicians on the stage.   All on a beautiful summer evening.


Queen Extravaganza


This was a “certified Queen Tribute band”….. and rightfully so.   Jeff Scott Soto and an excellent group of vocalists and musicians proceeded to perform a truly exciting evening of Queen songs.   I loved every minute and it was probably one of the best shows I’ve ever seen.   The guitarist did a back-flip during his guitar solo.  That’s a concert first for me.    That was a true golden moment from this year’s concert adventures.

Keith St John and Friends


I’d seen each of these musicians play in different bands before and they were outstanding together.    Keith St. John put on an incredible vocal performance, Doug Aldrich played some incredible guitar parts, while Brian Tichy and Michael Devin nailed the drum and bass parts.    This was one of the best rock performances I witnessed this year.


This was a last minute trip to the Canyon Club to see some “smooth jazz”.  This band turned out to be a super-group of sorts with phenomenal musicianship.   The songs were recognizable and the band just smoked.  I hope to hear from them again.  



I kind of figured the concept of mariachi metal was just a novelty until I heard them play live.   They turned out to be a really great band (bordering on virtuoso status) with excellent takes on metal songs.   I made it a point to catch several of their shows over the year.   I’d be surprised if this didn’t catch on.



Lee Rocker


Lee Rocker of the Stray Cats was awesome in concert.    His rockabilly tunes, bass playing and backing band were fantastic.  I even liked this show better than the Brian Setzer Christmas show last year.  I can’t wait for Lee to play The Canyon again.

Biggest Disappointments of the Year

Sebastian Bach


Bach has one of my favorite drummers in Bobby Jarzombek.   I’ve seen Sebastian play many times just to watch Bobby.  He had a bunch of unnecessary “special guests” that kind of ruined the songs and he can’t seem to be able to sing like he used to.  I got a comp general admission ticket, but ended up buying a VIP ticket instead so I could really enjoy the show.   I wish I hadn’t.     In my estimation, this particular show was just a deBACHle”.    He wasn’t up to par (perhaps under-rehearsed?) at the Bonzo Bash, either (but was certainly a cool dude after the show).  He sounded really good guesting with Steel Panther last year.     Maybe it just wasn’t his year.

Smashing Pumpkins


I buy less than 10 albums a year.   I guess I like what I already know.   Their new album, which they played in concert in its entirety to open the show, is not for me.  The old songs they played at the end really didn’t make up for it.    And this was another awful sounding show (sound-wise) at the Gibson this year.  


I expected more.  Nobody seemed to really enjoy it that much.   I had a way better time later on that evening at Steel Panther at the House of Blues.


I saw them at a taping of a Jay Leno show earlier in the year.  They only played one song and it was just OK.   I chose them to make my sole trek to the Santa Barbara Bowl for the season.   I blew it.  I figured they’d be better in concert.  I blame their songs/ records, which are all mid-tempo rockers.   I left bummed.    I should have gone to see Van Halen at Staples that night instead.   My least favorite concert this year (but with the most beautiful drive there and back!)


Geoff Tate

I saw Geoff twice at the Canyon.  His voice is still incredible, but both of his shows I saw on his tour were kind of snoozers.  And his wine was dry, made me sleepy and gave me a hangover.   I don’t regret going, as he is still a tremendous vocal talent, but  I hope he’s back in full force in 2013 with his new version of Queensryche. 


Incredible Back-to-Back Shows- Out of this World! 

Steve Vai THE STORY OF LIGHT tour at Club Nokia and The Canyon Club.

Steve Vai played close to three hours two nights in a row and I thoroughly enjoyed both of them.   He had a killer band with an electric harpist.   As expected, he did all kinds of incredible stuff.  A true guitar hero.


Bands that Still Rock!!


UFO has been around forever and they sound fantastic in concert.     I got to watch part of the show next to the engineer on the side of the stage, which made it even cooler to experience.    I’m sorry I didn’t see several of their shows this year. 


Lynyrd Skynyrd

I’ve seen them several times in the last few years.  They still bring the incredible Southern rock at every show.  I hope they come around again soon.


The Smithereens

I caught Pat DiNizio’s “Confessions of a Rock Star in Vegas earlier this year and thought it was brilliant.   I’ve also enjoyed every performance I’ve ever witnessed of The Smithereens, who are a truly great live band.   Their show in Ventura was definitely one of the highlights of the year.    Pat DiNizio and the entire band are some of the most fan-friendly performers ever.   I’ve been able to say hi to everyone in the band after every show I’ve seen them play.  They even rock out in the crowd, with the crowd when they play.  Great, timeless tunes and cool dudes.  



Y&T have been around forever and they always deliver a long set of a bunch of solid rock-n-roll tunes.   After the show, they stayed and talked with fans until the venue shut its lights off.   A bunch of truly nice guys.  One of the most enjoyable nights of the year!


Def Leppard


Def Leppard played a free afternoon show on a weekday in Hollywood at the House of Blues.  They played about 45 minutes and then did a Q&A.   The show was over before rush hour traffic hit.    They definitely still rock and getting to see this show was a real treat.  



Stryper put on another excellent show.   Michael Sweet still has an incredible vocal range and the band sounded really good.     They have some very dedicated fans.


Rick Springfield

He has to be over 60 now and he sounded great at the Starlight Bowl in Burbank.    Great venue and a great show.  I was surprised at how good it was.   Some of those old songs brought back some good memories…


Dread Zeppelin

This band has been together a lot longer than Led Zeppelin ever was.   Even Robert Plant has given them his seal of approval for how great they do their reggae versions of Zeppelin songs with an Elvis impersonator as the vocalist.    Laugh all you want at the concept, but they always manage to be spectacular in concert.  It was weird seeing them in such a big venue.


 Aerosmith and Cheap Trick still rock in concert.   

I’ve seen them both many times over the years and they always delivered.   Best arena show I saw this year.   Killer lights and videos screens.

Person I got sick of the fastest:  Johnny Depp.  He played guitar at two concerts I attended within a few days of one another.  I didn’t dig him getting onstage with Alice Cooper and  I moaned when I saw him walk onstage with his guitar at Aerosmith.   


Cool Experiences/ Special Shows:

Foreigner Unplugged at the Grammy Museum was easily one of the highlights of the concert year.  Not only did you get their new free CD on the way in, but they managed to rock TONS of their favorite tunes to a crowd of less than 200.


Watching Jon Anderson talk about his career at the Clive Davis Theater at the Grammy Museum and then watching him play some tunes. It was an awesome show.


I also caught him earlier in the year at the Canyon Club to a MUCH larger crowd.  


Jose Feliciano and Quattro were a great double-bill at the Canyon Club.   Several excellent styles of musical genius!!  One of my favorite shows of the year.


One of the more interesting band I saw this year was Here Come The Mummies. (yes, that’s the name of the band).   And the show took place in October, so it was a cool Halloween show for me.  They played some slamming R&B and funk.  Ever see a mummy ride a tricycle?  I have…


Weird Al

Weird Al is a complete genius.  I’ve seen him play many times.    During the summer, he played a show in Ventura and  I ended up deciding to go see it about an hour before show time.   I bought my ticket at the last second on craigslist. And Weird Al played a song called “Craigslist” right after Amish Paradise.  Perfect.


Trans-Siberian Orchestra


I’ve loved TSO for years and finally caught a show.   The show was intense with great lighting and fantastic musicianship throughout-  it was everything I hoped it would be..   I blew my concert budget and splurged for a ticket in the orchestra pit for it.  I  was so close, I caught a guitar pick.  Definitely worth the investment. 

The Darkness show was entertaining from start to finish.   I have no idea how Justin Hawkins manages to sing like that. 


On the way out to a show in the Valley, I caught a George Lynch guitar clinic.  That was a cool time.   He told great stories, played some guitar and then signed stuff and took pictures.  It was a great way to start my evening.


Some of the longest and most musician-oriented shows were the Bonzo Bash and the Guitar Center Drum-Off.   Tons of talent and hours and hours of great playing.  I’m dedicating an entire section to the musicians and shows like this that I witnessed throughout the year (coming soon!)



Cool Random Shot.


Best concert sign I’ve ever seen:


Coolest “cartoon concert pictures”

Pictures I got at a concert using the cartoon mode of my newest Camera:



Check out the guitar being passed completely through the crowd at the 1:30 mark (from the Filter concert):


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