The Fox Theater - Oakland
Over the course of two memorable evenings in June 2018, legendary soul-funk-R&B outfit Tower of Power returned to Oakland, the city that started it all, to celebrate its landmark 50th anniversary with a few thousand friends, family and fans. The window-rattling grooves and raucous party spirit of ToP has been a balm for the soul throughout the band’s half-century existence, but the release of 50 Years of Funk & Soul: Live at the Fox Theater – Oakland, CA – June 2018 couldn’t have come at a better time.
In the midst of their 25th anniversary year, The String Cheese Incident took a wise approach at arranging a hefty year of touring. Playing mini runs and hitting some of their storied spots without the strains of a nineteen-city summer or fall tour. For Cheese, the last few years have clarified to the band and fans something collectively; there’s nothing better than building momentum together. The era of sporadic SCI shows augmented by side projects of the member’s different directions is over.
Few iconic bands who have been a group for fifty years truly play with the vigor and focus of their heyday. Not that there’s anything erroneous regarding nostalgia, but for the seminal group King Crimson there’s historically been little looking back. Denying the moniker of progressive rock (reasonably so, as they predate the subgenre) the group’s core founding member Robert Fripp (guitars, keyboards, mellotron) generally led a charge towards new material every tour and an evolving methodology on arrangements.
On the last Tuesday night in May, Little Feat continued their triumphant 50th anniversary tour in Oakland at the storied Fox Theater. Time-honored members Bill Payne (piano, keys, synth), Paul Barrere (guitars), Kenny Gradney (bass), Sam Clayton (percussion), and Fred Tackett (guitars, mandolin, trumpet) were joined by Gabe Ford (drums) and very special guests Midnight Ramble Horns (Steve Bernstein, Erik Lawrence, Jay Collins,) for a night of career-spanning classics.
The city of Oakland has an extensive pedigree of rappers to begin their career within its borders. From E-40 to Del the Funky Homosapien, the East Bay has long since held their rap community to nothing but the highest of standards. For Oakland native G-Eazy, his first show home since releasing his latest album was deeply personal, and an experience he repeatedly told the audience was the best night of his life.
We see live music not to hear the same music we can easily hear at home, but to experience something we otherwise never could. Whether that difference is an artist’s speech, surrounding ourselves with the energy of a positive crowd, or hearing a unique rendition of a song that has never been recorded in a studio, live music gives us something our headphones just can’t, and hometown shows always have a way of giving us just a little bit more. Saturday, February 3rd Stick Figure performed to a sold-out crowd at Oaklan
While many acts from the progressive rock era of the 1970s still perform, none play with the precision, conviction, and authority of King Crimson. A Bold statement you say? Without bringing other specific acts into a debate, it all boils down to the devotion and continued creative drive of founding visionary Robert Fripp.