Pop culture, entertainment & all things Fresno

TONIGHT: Circle Takes the Square

cttsIt’s been close to a decade since Circle Takes the Square released “As The Roots Undo,” an album that made the Georgia-based screamo band darlings of the punk-rock underground. The album even got love from the likes of Rolling Stone, who called the trio’s music “complex scream-ola” with “Napalm Death-style time swerves” and “Fugazi-like guitar meat.”

In the years between then and now, the band has been lying low.
It has continued to make music in fits and starts, but never with the full intensity of its early days.

“Things were pulling us in other directions for awhile,” says Drew Speziale, who founded the band with bassist Kathleen Stubelek in 2000. There were line up changes. By the time they found a solid drummer, it had been four years since that first records was released. So the band’s latest “Decompositions: Volume No. 1” was created almost in a vacuum, with little thought about what would happen once the project was complete.

“We were not sure if the fan base we built would still be interested,” says Speziale, who plays with the band tonight at the Chinatown Youth Center. It’s the first time the band has toured the West Coast in more than 8 years.

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Bandgeek!: Bear Hands, the Brother Weiss and a tribute to Johnny Cash

4-4-14While the majority of your friends are out watching “Wicked,” you’d rather be out at a bar somewhere, listening to some low-down dirty rock and roll. Or any of the dozen of other music options happening this weekend (and into next week). Here’s your music roundup known as BANDGEEEEEK!


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TONIGHT: Squarecrow at CYC

3-21-14-2It’s hard to be a pop-punk band these days. The older folks, the ones that have been into pop punk forever (like since the 90s), can be a hard crowd to break if you’re not an established act. There is a younger crowd; kids who are discovering pop punk for the first time and starting their own bands.

But they’re young.

“And I don’t understand them,” says Todd Allen, who sings and plays guitar in the San Diego chump-rock band Squarecrow.

OK, they actually play pop-punk.

The band is in the midst of its first West-Coast tour (to Seattle and back) and swings through Fresno tonight. They play CYC with I Kill Cameron and 24 Hour Bigfoot Attack. I emailed Allen and got some more info on the band.

Quick details: Who does what in the band? How long have you been playing and how did the band come together?

I handle vocals and guitar, Daniel Riveroll drums and does the back up vocals and Ryan Murphy now plays bass for us. We have been playing together since April 2013, after my previous band took a break. We all grew up in the small town of Ramona, so anyone that plays music usually know each other. We all played in separate bands and finally came together to work on this project.

I am always interested in band names. What’s the story with yours?

We came up with the name and when we searched for it, this came up: “Lame, annoying, repetitive people, who talk you to death about the most boring of topics.” It was pretty clear that it should be our band name after reading that.

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Tonight: An ‘Idol’ cast-off, Christian rock, a downtown luau and more

Hey, Thursday, how’s it going? Busy, you say? Well, of course, you’re Thursday. What’s going on? Wow. Two Christian rock shows? Well, Jesus must love us today. Oh, and Kristy Lee Cook from “American Idol” fame at The Standard? I’m sure some people will enjoy that. A big ol’ frat party? A Michael Jackson tribute? And some comedy too? Well, Thursday, you go on with your bad self.

Yeah, yeah, I’ll post some fliers for you. You’re welcome. Tell Friday I miss him, will ya?


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Five Things You Should Do This Weekend

In addition to the stuff we’ve already told you about: NOtown Roller Derby, Creative Fresno’s weekend events and the Fresno Film Festival.

Local music vet Michael Keeney was injured pretty bad in March in a skateboarding accident. He had a compound fracture and broke his leg in two places. Ouch! Tonight, the local music scene is chipping in to raise money for him with a big genre-jumping show at Fulton 55. Good cause aside, that’s a lot of good local music. Add the cause, and that’s a good way to spend $10. [Tickets]


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The Week Ahead: Black Milk, Xzibit, Xotica, Wild Blue and more

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BLACK MILK: If you like hip-hop like I like hip-hop — which is to say, not the stuff on the radio — then see Black Milk at Fulton 55 on Wednesday night. Dude is doooooope.

XZIBIT: If you like hip-hop that I liked in 1996, then go see Xzibit at Rome Nightclub on Thursday night. I honestly can’t tell ya what Xzibit has done in the last five years, but his first two albums were also doooooope.

WILD BLUE: Iconic Fresno band The Wild Blue gets together again for a reunion show on Saturday night at Fulton 55. Last time it did one of these, the show was paaaaaaacked.

CELEBRATE THE EXPRESS + XOTICA: It’s anniversary time at The Express, Fresno’s popular gay nightclub. On Thursday night, the Xotica drag show celebrates its eight-year anniversary then The Express itself celebrates nine years on Saturday night.

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Tonight: Superchick, Achievement House and more


It’s a loaded-with-shows Wednesday, from big venues to small ones. Here’s a rundown:

Fliers for these and more below …

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Tonight: Take a bite out of Mayor Swearengin … or something

At tonight’s January installment of Local Bites, Mayor Ashley Swearengin and the pack of foodies at TasteFresno travel to Sante Fe Basque. OK, you don’t actually take a bite out of the mayor — but it is a chance to dine with her. How many mayors have you had dinner with? Getting Starbucks and seeing Alan Autry doesn’t count!

Here’s a video from TasteFresno’s web series that sets up tonight’s event. Want even more info? Get it on their site.

If you want something a little more rockin’ tonight, check out what’s happening in some of music venues:

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To-Do Tonight: Dueling country, new club nights plus Boats and Hoes


It’s another busy Thursday night in and around Fresno. The casinos headline the local music options, but the entertainment doesn’t stop there. Here’s a look:

  • Table Mountain and Chukchansi have dueling country shows tonight — Table Mountain hosts alt-country vet Lyle Lovett while Chukchansi has the more Nashville-ish Craig Morgan, doing a pre-Veterans Day “Salute to Troops” concert.
  • Fulton 55 had a date scheduled with blues/roots rocker Shane Dwight, but it was canceled earlier this week. Sorry, Dwight fans.
  • Chinatown Youth Center hosts an all-ager headlined by hardcore band Trapped Under Ice. The Fresnan has more.
  • On the club circuit: Million Too has the new “Take Over Thursdays” while NVS (the former Bliss) launches its Thursday night party. Apparently it’s not doing that 18+ thing anymore, shrug. Fliers below.
  • Can’t finish this post without a shout to the event you’ll all been waiting for — the Boats & Hoes pre-Veterans Day birthday party. (Huh?) Obviously it’s going to be a super classy affair.

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To Not Do Tonight: CJ Ramone

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CJ Ramone — the once bass player from iconic rock band The Ramones — was supposed to be in Fresno tonight, and this post was supposed to recommend you go see him. But apparently, promoter American Made Concerts pulled the plug on the show.

I talked to CJ last week and everything, and he seemed psyched about his current tour, which is actually his first solo tour ever. But Fresno didn’t seem too psyched about it, at least not according to a few Facebook comments that seemed to indicate advance ticket sales were not too impressive. Perhaps $20 was too pricey?

- The all-ages crowd is still rockin’ tonight, as Chicago hardcore/metal band The Party Foul and Parley, a metal band from Lompoc, headline Chinatown Youth Center. [Flier]

- For the more civic-minded, there’s a D.R.U.M. (Downtown Revitalization Update Meeting) at the in-the-works Mayflower Lofts. [More info]

Five Things You Should Do This Weekend

Other than pushing it with Salt ‘N’ Pepa at the Kings Fair

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey makes its annual stop at Selland Arena. You have seven chances to see The Greatest Show on Earth — one tonight, and three shows on both Saturday and Sunday. [Tickets]


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Five Things You Should Do This Weekend

Other than seeing that little ol’ musical over at Saroyan Theatre …

Blues at the Muse in the third installment of the concert series at Fresno Art Museum that has brought us Rock the Muse and Jazz at the Muse. For the blues version, there are performances from Joe Walton and the West Fresno All-Stars giving us a taste of the west side’s blues legacy, plus Joel Pickford & The Hell Hounds, who will surely be raising hell. Money raised helps the museum. Advance tickets here.


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To-Do Tonight: Viva Le Sawyer Family

It’s morbid music Tuesday at Audie’s Olympic, which has a weekend-worthy touring show scheduled tonight. Headliner Viva Le Vox is a Florida band with an odd-sounding singer but a rather interesting sound, that’s been called a “hillbilly zombie circus.” Supporting them is Sawyer Family, an Oregon psychobilly band with a horror edge. They played Audie’s last month. Local dudes The Giddy Ups are also on the bill.


Five Things You Should Do This Weekend

While you keep an eye out for crappy TV commercials

Oddball hip-hop group Das Racist is at Audie’s Olympic tonight, combining that Internet-era humor we all love so much, a gluttony of pop culture references and actual dope beats and rhymes. These dudes are selling out much bigger venues in much bigger cities, so let’s hope Fresno shows up. More on Das Racist here. Opening is Populus, who showed off his shtick at Pecha Kucha the other night and won over the crowd.


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Video: Ceremony at Chinatown Youth Center

Johnny from Religious Appeal posted this video from the Ceremony show at Chinatown Youth Center on Sunday night. I’ll be honest: Punk/hardcore isn’t my favorite genre of music. But I can really appreciate how much the fans and the bands get into it and just wild out together. Also, Ceremony’s singer gets some high-flying points for that jump.

Five Things You Should Do This Weekend

While you welcome back baseball season

Indie rap hero Murs (from Living Legends) is at Starline tonight. He’s one of my favorite emcees, mainly because he puts on a fun and energetic show. He was in Visalia last year and played to a packed house at The Cellar Door. Hopefully Fresno can match Visalia tonight. Tickets are available here.

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To-Do Tonight: Guitar vs. Hardcore



The top two live music options for tonight are firmly aimed at different audiences,so I doubt anybody is racking their brain trying to decide whether to go to the all-ages hardcore show in Fresno or the “Guitar Masters” tour stop in Visalia.

Those “Masters” are Eric Johnson, Peppino D’Agostino and Andy McKee, and they’re playing at the Visalia Fox Theatre. Meanwhile, Chinatown Youth Center hosts touring bands Octaves and Caravels, with locals like Blackwater.

To-Do Tonight: Elvis, mashups and more

Happy Monday, folks. There are a few entertainment options tonight, kinda rare for a Monday. At the top of the list is a show from local Elvis impersonator Jeremy Pearce, who is having his annual concert honoring The King’s birthday (it was Saturday). It’s happening at Roger Rocka’s, and that $55 price includes dinner, FYI.


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To-Do Tonight: A Manic Monday

You know how sometimes Mondays are pretty dead? How it’s one of those days where it’s better to stay at home and watch TV? Today is not one of those Mondays.

In addition to Pecha Kucha (go!) and the sold-out Rob Thomas concert at Table Mountain (go, if you’re lucky enough to have tickets) — there are a few local shows worth a look. I’m just gonna hit you with the fliers, OK?


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Funeral Pyre and Early Graves’ tour van crash … and the Fresno connection

Fans of underground metal, might have already heard about an early Monday accident in Oregon involving the touring van of bands Early Graves and Funeral Pyre. The accident killed Early Graves’ lead singer and injured two others.

Unfortunately, there’s a Fresno connection to the crash — driver Justin Garcia who is a local guy who plays in Funeral Pyre and was hurt in the crash. Here’s the SF Chron account:

The lead singer for a Bay Area metal band was killed early Monday in Oregon when a van carrying him and eight other touring musicians crashed and rolled, authorities said.

Matikeef “Makh” Daniels, 28, of Pacifica was ejected from the 2003 Chevrolet van, which had been heading south on Interstate 5 north of Medford at 5:30 a.m. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

According to Oregon State Police, the driver — 24-year-old Justin Garcia of Fresno — fell asleep and allowed the van to drift off the right shoulder of the freeway.

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To-Do Tonight … and the week ahead

It’s the start of a busy week in Fresno, and it starts off with some DIY punk rock at Chinatown Youth Center headlined by Dead Panic out of SF. More info on the flier:


Lots happening this week: Head Like a Kite, Carolina Chocolate Drops, The Game, Rock the Mall, Radar Bros., I See Hawks in L.A., A.C. Comedy Connection’s second show, Cold Blue Rebels, E-40 and David Arthur Brown. See the fliers below.

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