Category: music

2017, General, music

Review: Plini / Nick Johnston @ The Roxy in Los Angeles 8/29/17

I’m back!

I moved to L.A. because of my love of music, so of course I already went to my first concert. There was no way in hell that I would miss the chance to see Plini and Nick Johnston live at The Roxy on the Sunset Strip.


Before I permanently left New Jersey I made a point to buy every album that Nick and Plini have ever put out. You know – just in case my finances got hit during this move. I have my priorities straight.

Another band that I bought everything from before moving here was Animals as Leaders – more on that later.

I won’t be detailing the set list because I’m not google. I’m here to talk about what it was like to actually go to this show.

Mike Dawes:

I got there later than I wanted to and so my biggest regret is that I missed Mike Dawes who happened to perform at this particular show. This guy is amazing. Just look at this shit:

He reminds me a bit of Jon Gomm but has a completely unique point of view that makes you feel like your face just got stampeded sideways by a metric ton of bears or something. I can’t explain it. Watch the video because wow, guys. I am going to be following his work and getting his album. I’m definitely going to be in the audience at the next show of his that I can get to.

Nick Johnston:

I arrived right when Nick Johnston went on. Holy shit, guys.

The thing about Nick’s work is that his phrasing and melodic composition is always strong, but his most recent album, Remarkably Human is his best work to date. He has Gavin Harrison on drums and Bryan Beller on bass for the album but they aren’t touring with him.

Remarkably Human really transcends way past the combo bonus of it’s parts. I think that a key to this is because of (I think it was) co-producer Scott Giffin’s addition of the piano into the mix which REALLY compliments Nick’s melodies. The reason why is that it’s unexpected. I’d have NEVER thought a piano would add much to an instrumental guitar album, but it does. It creates such an appropriate atmosphere without sacrificing Nick’s impact or authenticity.

The live show is just as good if not better than the album.

You can imagine how happy I was when Bryan Beller actually came out as a surprise guest for 2 of my favorite songs. He’s one of my favorite bassists because his style is extremely expressive and just petulantly joyful. He’s able to hold together any song no matter how chaotic and combative the rest of the composition is, yet somehow still makes space to play around. He handles the job but maybe will tie your ear dick to a flaming T-Rex when you aren’t looking is basically what I mean.


Plini’s work is, in my opinion, the type of music that can grab your central nervous system and rewrite its programming faster than a kick to the ladysack. He’s able to tell stories with sound that transport you elsewhere in unconventional ways that adhere to your spine. The sounds he chooses to work with and how they are put together are a bit different than the usual. I’d argue he sorta created his own genre. His work tends to feel like it transfixes you into the world it lives in. It’s uniquely calming and powerful, which is a hard balance to achieve. I really enjoyed Handmade Cities.

I was not sure how that would translate live.

Spoiler: It worked. Very well.

Not only did the live execution of the songs work, but I thought it was a nice touch to have the audience do the vocal part at the end of Every Piece Matters:

But that wasn’t all. Jake Howsam Lowe from The Helix Nebula was the second guitarist.

I’ve been following Jake’s work for a while now ever since I heard his solo on ibuiltthesky’s The Sky is Not the Limit album on YouTube, which I also bought. (Notice a pattern?)

I recall listening to it being like “Ok this is simple ok…whoa wait…FUCK SHIT FUCK WHAT GOD HOLY. SHIT.” Jake can just drive you anywhere with his work and you may or may not want to go but you’ll go either way. Because Hell Yes.

I needed to take a second to calm down after he punted me out of the 36th floor of a skyscraper with that one.

This show was amazing! Holy shit, you guys. Apparently everyone in Los Angeles came out on this night – even Javier Reyes from Animals as Leaders and Brendon Small were there.

You can imagine how I nearly shat out the window and vomited out of my eyeballs when Tosin Abasi and from Animals as Leaders came out at the end to jam.

I had been totally gutted awhile back when I couldn’t make it to see Animals as Leaders live because I was preparing to exit New Jersey. I’ve been following AAL ever since I discovered Tempting Time on YouTube awhile back. What is that? 5/4? 19/16? 23/16? ALL OF THEM?

I’m dead:

I’m going with, “All of them.” Tosin is one of those guitarists that just makes you want to practice. A lot. And then some more.

After a major life change, Los Angeles just reached out and made it clear to me that it was going to welcome me. This is where I belong. This is where the music that I like lives. I’m free to study and become the musician I always wanted to become without reproach. It’s all up to me now.

I stayed up until almost 3AM drinking in the Rainbow room in some bizarre alternate universe with, like, 80% of the musicians I listen to and who inspire me to study to be the best guitarist and vocalist that I can be. I met so many cool people and they even saw fit to let me backstage where I basically just talked about dicks and butts a lot. (The usual. You know. I keep it real so no one gets confused.)

The next day I practiced for hours after I woke up wondering if this was actually real life or was this like some bizarre dream that ends in a David Hasselhoff parody comprised of chipmunks like the last dream I had.

Answer: I did not see the Hoff so I guess it was real.

The only thing that I have left to say is: Yes, they are all phenomenal live and they are super sweet guys. The Plini / Nick Johnston tour may be the best tour of the year. You should not miss this one. The Los Angeles show was something super special way beyond what anyone could have imagined. When I left for L.A. I wasn’t sure what I’d do with this blog. But I know now that it’s time to refocus myself here onto what has always been the most important thing in my life ever since 5 year old me heard Van Halen, Judas Priest, and Iron Maiden for the first time.


I have so much to share with you about my new life and adventures in SoCal. Just you wait until I get back from running PotterVerse. :)


2016, music

Blackfield – V album teaser (Steven Wilson & Aviv Geffen)

I am losing my shit over this album. Can’t wait till it comes out! If you like prog rock at all you should check this one out! I am pretty happy that Steven Wilson decided to work on this one with Aviv Geffen again! This project has always been a fabulous collaboration.

The new Blackfield album “V” from duo Steven Wilson and Aviv Geffen is now available to pre-order on CD, deluxe Cd-Blu-ray and vinyl

“I’m very proud of this album, it might be our best yet, a flowing collection of 13 tracks with a loose concept relating to the cycle of life, but with the emphasis on succinct melancholic songs and beautifully layered production, including three songs produced by Alan Parsons. I really hope you enjoy it.” – Steven Wilson

2016, music

MUSIC MONDAY: Nick Az – Chase Lights (ft. i built the sky)

Download this (in my free debut EP) for free at:
Tabs at:

This is the first single and title track to my upcoming debut EP “Chase Lights” this December 15, 2015!
Full Album Stream:


Video/Mix/Composition: Nick Azurin
Mastering: Sivert Henriksen
Film: Liam Warburton
Album Art: Arwin Wang

‘i built the sky’ endorses PRS Guitars and Bareknuckle Pickups

Gear Used: Mayones Setius 6 Katatonia, BIAS, Shreddage Bass, Logic Pro X

2016, music


I love Field of Screams near Lancaster, PA. Here we are getting ready to go on in on Media Day – Saturday, September 10th!

FOS 1 2016

before field of screams

No, seriously. This one is so well done that it’s on the “haunts that I will go to every year no matter what” list. Due to the popularity of my conventions and increased demand for me as a freelance marketer and artist I’m having to cut back on how many haunts that I do. I’m eliminating all haunts that haven’t changed and do not inspire “re-playability” so to speak. Basically this year if a haunt feels like work I’m staying home.

This year is an iterative year. For the most part my review last year is still relevant. Definitely click that one and read it if you are new to this haunt because I’ll be only talking about what is new in this post.

This year each attraction DOES have new rooms and characters added to them. Den of Darkness actually has an entire new queue that is revealed after you enter past this point:

den of darkness

The most impressive addition is in the hayride. The scrapyard section is completely redone. While it is less kinetic than in the past I thought it was more impressive. When I talked to the co-owner, Jim, he let me know that this is phase 1 of what will be a very impressive addition next year.

I won’t spoil it. But let’s just say that it looks impressive now and they plan to take it up to an insane level next year.

As always, the same amazing array of games, food, shopping, scare actors, and entertainment is happening in the midway area. New this year is a free photo booth where you can get your picture taken with a scare actor.

fos free pic

I also love that they take care to add cool decorations everywhere:

oni skull

So How Was It?

On the day I went we were experiencing a very rare heat wave which put temperatures up in the 90s late at night. This almost never happens in the northeast after September 2nd. There is no reason an attraction in Pennsylvania should have an air conditioner installed in it because it’s usually quite cold this time of year. I have no idea how the scareactors managed to scare as well as they did because it was extremely uncomfortable even as a customer to go through the attractions.And I need to be clear here – none of this was their fault. No one can control the weather. Mad props to them for sticking it out and still bringing a great show! I don’t know if I could have done that if I were in their position.

Some folks messaged me that energy was down on the day I went – but as I pointed out to them – I am surprised that they could scare at all in these freakish hot temperatures. I see this as a testament to how strong the actors are. The heat conditions were intolerable and they still brought it better than I could were our positions reversed. I’ll be returning November 11th for their Blackout event, which Joe for Scranton Haunted Reviews tells me is amazing. I can’t wait to compare my trips this year.


FoS is a great place to take the entire family because if you have someone who doesn’t like haunts, they can (for now) wait in the midway and have a lot of things to do and see while your group goes through. That may change.

Field of Screams’ regular price is $34.00 and it costs $10.00 per attraction to upgrade to VIP. This is a phenomenal value for what you get in here. I highly recommend FoS to you. It’s one of the most solid and balanced haunted attractions in the country such that, to me, never gets old even on iterative years. Its quite telling that FoS is one that I did not eliminate from my tour this year. It’s worth my time and I also believe that it’s worth yours.

Click here for more info.

2016, music

Earthside — Crater ft. Björn Strid of Soilwork (Backing Video for Live Performance)

I already bought the Earthside album on vinyl, but here’s a new video from them for their live shows. If you like prog or metal like I do you should listen to this shit!

Also even if you don’t.

Broaden some of those god damn damnin horizons OK:

“Crater” from ‘A Dream In Static’, the cinematic debut album from Earthside.

This video is a preview of the unique multimedia content Earthside will project alongside their songs during their upcoming tour with Leprous this fall!

Order ‘A Dream In Static’ now! (Vinyl, CDs, Bundles, Merch)