Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

Tyler, The Creator returns to Honolulu

December 7th, 2015

PHOTOS BY JAMES GARRETT / SPECIAL TO THE STAR-ADVERTISERTyler, The Creator, in the white T-shirt, performs with Taco and Jasper Dolphin at The Republik on Saturday.


Tyler, The Creator, in the white T-shirt, performs with Taco and Jasper Dolphin at The Republik on Saturday.

There’s a relatively fine line between acting too cool for everyone else in the room and coming off as an arrogant, self-absorbed windbag.

tyler the creator 03With Tyler, The Creator’s set at The Republik on Saturday, it was pretty obvious he didn’t care what anyone thought of him or his crew, regardless if they paid to be there or not. But at the same time, there was no mistaking that behind the raspy voice, vulgar language and a level of bluntness many of us wish we could maintain in our everyday lives, there exists an artist extremely proud of what he’s accomplished since his debut album, “Bastard,” hit the Internet in 2009.

The 24-year-old deserves plenty of praise for his role in the growth of hip-hop collective Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All — which may or may not have disbanded earlier this year, depending on who you ask — and there’s no questioning his skills extend far beyond the rap realm with his experience as a producer, songwriter, clothing and concert merchandise designer, graphic artist and music video producer. He’s at a stage in his career where the adventures are his to choose and he’s got the money to finance just about anything.

And that’s why seeing him on stage a few months after releasing his latest album, “Cherry Bomb,” one might wonder why Tyler even bothers with touring right now.

Sure, watching him perform cuts off 2013’s “Wolf,” 2012’s “The OF Tape Vol. 2” and 2011’s “Goblin” was a fun history lesson for anyone unfamiliar with his discography... which had to have been all of maybe a dozen people at The Republik on Saturday. There was no shortage of karaoke action at this show, and Tyler himself even mentioned taking a break and letting the crowd take over his verses at one point.

But it was the back-and-forth between Tyler, hype men Taco and Jasper Dolphin and the audience between songs that was more telling than the performance itself.

From brashly admonishing the crowd to “take your photos now” at the start of the night — and making a point of ridiculing fans he caught with their phones out later on — to openly admitting wanting to “get the f—k off this stage” before closing things out with “Tamale,” it was pretty obvious we were all getting the unfiltered Tyler, for better or worse. Reflecting on the show afterward, it was hard to decide which was more uncomfortable, the extended moments of complete silence between songs or hearing someone on stage actually ask over a microphone what time it was just 20 minutes into the set.

tyler the creator 01

Among the more inspiring lines from Tyler on Saturday:

“I appreciate your soul.”

“Last time we was in Hawaii, there was a tsunami warning. That s—t was crazy. Okay, I have nothing else to say.”

“Whose weed is this? How did it get on stage?” (As he proceeded to light and smoke whatever it was that he found.)

“Are my hands soft?”

While not quite achieving the level of chaos associated with a full-fledged Odd Future performance, fans of the group’s founder surely didn’t leave disappointed after 60 minutes of putting their hands up, jumping around like crazy and getting bottle after bottle of water sprayed on them.

Did Tyler care? Probably not. After dancing a quick jig and peeling off his T-shirt to toss into the crowd, he was long gone, leaving fans hoping for an encore with the proverbial lump of coal in their stockings on this December evening in Honolulu.


Jason Genegabus has covered the local nightlife, music, bar and entertainment scenes since 2001. Contact him via email at and follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Review: Love Fest goes back to ‘Phuture’ in Kakaako

July 22nd, 2012

<em>Thousands were at Kakaako Waterfront Park for the Love Festival on Saturday, July 21. This is the 14th year the party has taken place in Hawaii, but the first it's been staged in Kakaako. (Photo by Joah Buley, Special to the Star-Advertiser)</em>

Thousands were at Kakaako Waterfront Park for the Love Festival on Saturday, July 21. This is the 14th year the party has taken place in Hawaii, but the first it's been staged in Kakaako. (Photo by Joah Buley, Special to the Star-Advertiser)


The "Phuture" returned to Kakaako Waterfront Park this weekend.

At the start of the millennium, promoter Greg Dehnert — known better internationally as DJ G-Spot — partnered with the BBC on "Phuture 2000," a once-in-a-lifetime party that featured DJ Carl Cox and a live radio and Internet broadcast that brought New Year's Eve in Hawaii to homes around the world. (Click here to watch a video documentary about Cox that includes footage from the party.)

More than a decade after "Phuture 2000" and 14 years after he and partner DJ Reza staged the first Love Festival Hawaii in a Kalihi warehouse, Dehnert and his promotional partners returned to Kakaako on Saturday, July 21, to produce what has become a global event that draws attendees from the continental U.S., Canada, Europe and Asia.

<em>The Love Festival's "Party for the People" stage attracted the biggest crowd. (Photo by Joah Buley, Special to the Star-Advertiser)</em>

The Love Festival's "Party for the People" stage attracted the biggest crowd. (Photo by Joah Buley, Special to the Star-Advertiser)

Kakaako Waterfront Park is the fifth venue to host the Love Festival in Hawaii (DJ Reza also produces an annual Love Festival in Los Angeles, which has taken place for nearly 20 years). Starting out small, the party eventually settled into what used to be known as Hawaiian Waters Adventure Park and later became Wet 'N' Wild Hawaii. A number of issues, however, forced Dehnert and his partners Reza and Hawaii-based promoter Rick Rock to consider finally making the move from Kapolei into town.

Thank goodness they did — the new and improved Love Fest is everything electronic dance music fans could want, and much more. With six stages spread across nearly all of Kakaako Waterfront Park's 30 acres of space, it took nearly an hour to make the rounds upon first arriving on Saturday.

Two stages — the "Party for the People" stage at Kakaako Waterfront Park Amphitheatre and the "Saturday Night Sessions" stage erected on the Diamond Head side of the park, closer to the Children's Discovery Center — were the jewels in this year's Love Fest crown. While the "Party for the People" stage enjoyed the better lighting and video setup, both stages were equipped with serious sound systems.

<em>The Tribal Hawaii stage area at Love Fest. (Photo by Joah Buley, Special to the Star-Advertiser)</em>

The Tribal Hawaii stage area at Love Fest. (Photo by Joah Buley, Special to the Star-Advertiser)

Even the smaller stages set up in the park's pavilion areas — hosted by Tribal Hawaii, Rick Rock and local radio station 102.7 Da Bomb — featured respectable sound and lighting. None of these areas were afterthoughts, except for maybe the KTUH "stage," which was more like a tent that never seemed to have more than a handful of people just milling around.

Separate bar setups for those 21-and-over were located near each of the five major party areas, and between the park's normal bathrooms and the rows upon rows of portable toilets brought in as well, there was never much of a wait to use the facilities. Multiple portable ATM machines were also set up throughout the park, and there were a surprising amount of food options at very affordable prices.

ONCE I GOT my lay of the land, so to speak, it was pretty easy to navigate my way around Love Fest. The "Party for the People" stage consistently drew the biggest crowd, although there was more than enough space on the 21-and-over side to sprawl out on the grass — or just dance on the sidewalk.

It was a little less crowded at the "Saturday Night Sessions" stage, but attractions like a bounce house, bull ride, surfing simulator and inflatable spheres in a pool (you've got to see it to believe it) gave people more options besides dancing or standing around with a drink. And once you walked all the way to the water's edge, the three stages set up in the park's pavilion areas resulted in the type of beach parties regular folks could only wish to host without getting shut down by the police. Monster sound and lighting, a full bar and half-dressed people shaking it like crazy? Hooray, Love Fest!

<em>Love Fest attendees crowd near the "Party for the People" stage. (Photo by Joah Buley, Special to the Star-Advertiser)</em>

Love Fest attendees crowd near the "Party for the People" stage. (Photo by Joah Buley, Special to the Star-Advertiser)

Now that it's in town, the Love Festival can only build upon its dominance as the best outdoor festival experience in Hawaii. Just as KCCN FM-100's annual "Birthday Bash" was the party thousands of people looked forward to every year in the 1990's and 2000's, Love Fest has become the yearly event people in their 20's and 30's plan to attend with all their friends. It's like Halloween in Waikiki — except all the girls seem to only want to dress up as go-go dancers or stuffed animals. (A panda hat, tutu and furry boots? Really?)

But it's that spectacle — plus the world-class DJ talent that Dehnert and his parters continue to bring out here year after year — that puts Love Fest on the map both nationally and internationally. With a lineup this year that included headliners MSTRKRFT and DJ Switch with DJs Mimosa and Junior Sanchez on the decks alongside DJs Reza and G-Spot, there was no question the music would be on point yet again. The only question I had was, where do they go from here?

According to Dehnert, the goal of Love Fest is to help put Hawaii on the level of international party destinations like Ibiza, which draws tens of thousands of tourists every year for its three-month summer party season.

<em>Miko Franconi, also known as DJ SOUNDSEX, at work during Love Fest on the "Saturday Night Sessions" stage. (Photo by Joah Buley, Special to the Star-Advertiser)</em>

Miko Franconi, also known as DJ SOUNDSEX, at work during Love Fest on the "Saturday Night Sessions" stage. (Photo by Joah Buley, Special to the Star-Advertiser)

"It's still possible" to elevate Hawaii to that level, Dehnert said in a video interview produced for this year's Love Fest. "What I think would be great for Hawaii is to lock down a week … once it starts getting colder elsewhere in the world. That can happen. I would more say have it pop off for one glorious weekend, or one four-day weekend, is more realistic than a three-month season.

"A lot of us have colleagues and friends in major cities, (so) it can be done. Will it get done? Yeah, before I die."

With that kind of attitude, it's exciting to think of the possibilities for the Love Festival in Hawaii during the years to come.


Jason Genegabus is Entertainment Editor/Online at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser and has covered the local nightlife, music, bar and entertainment scenes since 2001. Contact him via email at and follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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‘Tennesee Honey’ buzz builds

June 24th, 2011

Hear that? Nope, it's not the sound of intoxicated bees — the buzz in Honolulu lately has been the sound of Jack Daniel's fans (and non-fans, too) getting into the newest offering from a company known for keeping things simple.

Jack Daniel's Tennessee Honey is available in stores now. (Star-Advertiser photo by Jason Genegabus)

I didn't even have to open the sample bottle of Jack Daniel's Tennessee Honey given to me last month by Better Brands vice president of promotions Christa Wittmier to know that I'd like the stuff. Jack and I have been friends for more than a decade, although I don't spend nearly as much time with him these days as I did five or six years ago.

For the uninitiated, Jack Daniel's is distilled in Lynchburg, Tennessee and basically comes in three flavors: Black label (the one you see the most on store shelves and served at bars), Single Barrel and Gentleman Jack. The company also makes pre-mixed drinks called Country Cocktails and Jack Daniel's Perfect Mix.

It's the Gentleman Jack that's the most similar to the new Tennessee Honey, since it's flavor is smoothed out a bit more and sweetened just a tad via a charcoal mellowing process done twice on each batch of whiskey (other JD brands only go through the process once). But make no mistake — while the bottle has the Jack Daniel's name on it and a definite whiskey undertone to the taste, this new Tennessee Honey stuff is a lot sweeter on the palate.

Like regular Jack Daniel's, you can pour the Tennesee Honey over ice and sip it neat with a twist of lime. Add some cola for a sweeter version of the traditional Jack and Coke, or go the lemon-lime route for a surprisingly refreshing drink. Or, be a little more daring and add the Tennesee Honey to some freshly brewed sweet tea for the perfect companion drink to Hawaii's sweltering summer afternoons.

I also found some success cooking with the Tennesee Honey. It made for the perfect steaming liquid to go with fresh salmon filets wrapped in aluminum foil and tossed on the hibachi, and on another occasion carmelized nicely with some miso paste to make a tasty sauce for another fish dish prepared at home.

Want to try some for yourself? Jack Daniel's Tennessee Honey is currently available for purchase at Times Supermarkets on Oahu, Tamura's Fine Wine & Liquors, Fujioka's Wine & Spirits, Shiroma's Wine & More, Foodland Aina Haina and South Beretania, K-Mart, all Oahu Longs Drugs locations and Don Quijote.

Order some at bars located in the Shack Waikiki, Trump International Waikiki, PF Changs Waikiki, Home Bar & Grill, Sansei Waikiki, Uncle Bo's, Manifest, Nextdoor, SoHo Mixed Media Bar, Nashville Waikiki and both Side Street Inn locations in Honolulu.

On Tuesday, June 28, Jack Daniel's Tennesee Honey will host an official launch party at the Shack Waikiki. Doors open to the general public at 8 p.m. following a VIP pre-party; the night will feature $3 Jack Honey on special, bull rides, a photo flip book booth and DJ Osna spinning tunes until 4 a.m.


Jason Genegabus is Entertainment Editor/Online at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser and has covered the local nightlife, music, bar and entertainment scenes since 2001. Contact him via email at

Review: Glen Phillips at Hawaii Public Radio

May 5th, 2011


You didn't need to be a Toad the Wet Sprocket fan to enjoy Glen Phillips' intimate solo performance at Hawaii Public Radio's Atherton Studio on Wednesday. But unless you were a HPR benefactor who took someone else's word for it when buying tickets, only true fans would have been wise enough to purchase the few dozen seats available for the show.

And while there were a few of the former in the room, the vast majority of the audience fell in the latter category.

Phillips is in Hawaii this week to play four times on four islands, starting with Wednesday's Oahu gig and continuing Thursday with another solo performance at Small Town Coffee on Kauai. On Friday he'll join his TWS bandmates for a show at the Big Island's Royal Kona Resort, followed by another concert on Saturday at Maui's Royal Lahaina Resort.

As he finished "Train Wreck" to solid applause, Phillips glanced around the HPR studio with a gleam in his eye.

"That was a happy song, huh?" he quipped. "Most of my songs are uplifting in that kind of way. Sorry."

Part indie folk and part acoustic emo rock, Phillips focused on his solo work early with "Courage" and "Easier" before moving into what he described as "the familiar... or at least the vaguely familiar."

"Crowing," off the 1994 Toad the Wet Sprocket album "Dulcinea" sounded just as good, if not better, nearly 20 years after it was first released. Then it was back to newer, slightly more unfamiliar territory, with tracks off Phillips' side projects with Works Progress Administration and "Solar Flare," a track off his 2008 solo EP, "Secrets of the New Explorers" — and just a little bit weird, as Phillips described it as the first upbeat song for children about the experience of dying from the radiation given off by solar flares.

Yeah. Solar flares.

Phillips was all over the map, taking his fans on an eclectic journey through his complete discography — and then some. Death Cab for Cutie and Huey Lewis and the News covers were sandwiched between anecdotes about eating a "real Japanese breakfast" and chowing down on natto, and a story about how it was always necessary to include some sort of "LL Cool J smooth jam... for the ladies." (His version of "I Want a New Drug" could have been just that for the HPR crowd on Wednesday.)

After "Something's Always Wrong," Phillips informed the audience that he'd be taking a 20-minute break to do what any smart independent artist would do: Sell a few CDs.

"It's a living," he deadpanned before going into a mini-rant about the world being overpopulated and his desire to return to a simpler form of living. Using terms like "agrarian" and "hunter-gatherer," his dry sense of humor found a way to get the audience laughing about how life after a "massive die-off" would be "awesome."

Okay. Maybe it's not so good of an idea to make those kinds of jokes on an island with a 10-day food supply in case of emergency.

After spending the previously announced 20-minute intermission signing autographs and talking story with fans, Phillips was back in the studio to play more than a half-hour more of the same mix of his solo work, Toad the Wet Sprocket favorites and a few more tracks from his WPA project. While Oahu TWS fans will probably want to bite the bullet and try to get to the Big Island or Maui this weekend (who knows when these guys will be back, if ever?), Wednesday's concert was good for fans who wanted to get up close and personal with Phillips.

Watching a performance at Hawaii Public Radio was also a great reminder that their Atherton Studio is a fun way to spend a night out enjoying live music. Their season runs from May through August, with most performances at 7:30 p.m. Saturdays.

Here's the rest of this year's schedule:

» May 7: Stephen Inglis and Jim "Kimo" West

» May 14: Keale

» May 21: Chris Vandercook Band

» May 28: Boogie

» June 4: Sara Buechner

» June 11: Danny Carvalho

» June 17-18: Sasha Boutros

» June 25: Derek Cannon

» July 1: Hailey Niswanger

» July 9: Kupaoa

» July 16: Barry Brandes and Anthony Maroudas

» July 23: Stephan George

» July 30: Gemini Trio

» Aug. 6: The Green

» Aug. 13: Kawika Kahiapo

» Aug. 20: Honolulu Jazz Quartet

» Aug. 27: Sandy & The Braz Jazz

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Review: New Found Glory at Aloha Tower

March 10th, 2011

Photos by Melissa Kumano / Courtesy

Pop-punk rockers New Found Glory returned to Hawaii for a concert at Aloha Tower Marketplace on Wednesday, March 9. Click here for more photos.


The next time you hear someone complain about the lack of a rock scene on this rock, ask them one question — "Did you go see New Found Glory at Aloha Tower Marketplace on March 9?"

If they respond with "yes," go ahead and let them speak their mind. They've earned the right to do so by opening up their wallet and supporting promoter BAMP Project's efforts to maintain a healthy concert scene here in Honolulu.

It's people who don't even go to these shows — and then complain about them — who really annoy me. And I just know that there will be more than a few of those types running their mouths in the days and weeks to come, since the crowd that did show up at the Waterfront was hardly the size a band like New Found Glory rightfully deserves.

Maybe it was the rain that had kept things gloomy all day — but didn't affect the concert itself at all — or the fact that this island doesn't have a true rock station worth listening to on the radio anymore. Either way, for a band that really helped usher the pop-punk sound into the mainstream spotlight nearly a decade ago, it was a little disappointing to see less than 2,000 fans in attendance for the show.

Nowhere near the majority of those people were actually inside the venue when Silverstein (pictured above) opened the night. The Canadian rockers were already on stage when I arrived around 7:30 p.m. and only played a few more songs before making way for New Found Glory.

The crowd present at that time of the evening may have been small, but they were loyal — and vocal. "My Heroine" had a core group of about 50 people singing along right in front of the stage, which definitely caught lead singer Shane Told's attention.

"You guys are loud," he told the group. "This rules, man!"

Along with covering Kid Dynamite's "Lover" and American Nightmare's "Hearts," Silverstein shared a few new songs off their upcoming album, "Rescue," due out April 25. First up was "The Artist," followed by "Broken Stars" to close out their set.

SOME 45 minutes later, Jordan Pundik and the rest of New Found Glory came out as "Chariots of Fire" played — and promptly got to making the Aloha Tower crowd's ears bleed with "Understatement," "All Downhill From Here" and "Tip of the Iceberg." The show was definitely for longtime fans, with the band playing a nice variety of songs off both their older and newer albums.

Wednesday night's concert was the final date on a tour that took the band through southeast Asia and Australia before bringing them to Hawaii while on the way back to the continental U.S. — and all the prior shows had definitely taken their toll. After just two songs, Pundik warned the Aloha Tower crowd that he was battling bronchitis and might not be able to hit all his notes.

That didn't mean he didn't try — and the rest of the band tried, too, to give their Hawaii fans a set they'd talk about for a long time to come. You could tell they were tired and ready to go home but still wanted to play the best show possible.

After "Failure's Not Flattering," for example, Pundik jumped from the stage to high-five a few fans in the front row at the Waterfront. As he returned, he told guitarist Chad Gilbert that it felt "really good" to be back in front of an audience on Oahu. A few minutes later, Gilbert gave a shout out to Big Island mixed martial arts fighter BJ Penn, telling the crowd how much of an honor it was to have the former UFC champion in attendance.

It's too bad Gilbert couldn't get his girlfriend out on stage, however. One of the night's worst-kept secrets was that Paramore lead singer Hayley Williams was in the house, and while she did in fact hang out just off stage during New Found Glory's set, you wouldn't have known she was there if you weren't paying attention to the promoter's social media feeds or the ongoing Twitter commentary taking place during the show.

Before wrapping up the night with an encore that featured "My Friend's Over You," the band made sure to inform their fans they were getting ready to head back into the studio in April to kick off work on a new album.

Unfortunately, that reminder only served to underscore my personal belief that it's been a while since New Found Glory has put out any new material worth listening to. Wednesday's concert reminded me that I'm not a fan of the songs on 2006's "Coming Home" or 2009's "Not Without a Fight."

Hopefully, that new album will be more like "Sticks and Stones," the band's major label debut released in 2003. Hopefully, New Found Glory won't keep their Hawaii fans waiting too long before returning to our islands to share that new material with us live in concert.

And, hopefully, we'll have a radio station on this island by then that plays their style of rock so their next concert gets a little more support from local residents.

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Review: Damian Marley and Nas at Kakaako Waterfront

February 27th, 2011

Photos by FL Morris /

Nas, left, and Damian Marley were in Honolulu on Saturday for the second of three Hawaii stops on their "Distant Relatives" tour. The two performed earlier this month on the Big Island; they will also perform on Maui on Sunday.


"This feel good. This look good. This is the most beautiful thing!"

Thousands of hip-hop and reggae fans at Kakaako Waterfront Park couldn't have agreed more with hip-hop heavyweight Nas, who performed with reggae superstar Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley on Saturday in support of their 2010 collaboration album, "Distant Relatives."

While both have played here as solo artists in recent years, Saturday was the first time they shared an Oahu stage. Nearly a year after first going on tour in support of "Distant Relatives," the pair turned in a nearly perfectly executed set that clocked in at almost two hours in length. And even though it's only February, I'm pretty confident this show will continue to be talked about as one of the best concerts of 2011.

One of the nice things promoter BAMP Project does at its shows is to hire local talent as much as possible. This time around, DJ Westafa was enlisted to spin tunes before local openers The Green (pictured at right) played, and then again before the main event got underway. He did a fantastic job — especially during the full hour the crowd had to wait before Marley and Nas made their appearance.

The Green didn't disappoint either, as the owners of 2010's iTunes Best Reggae Album played one of their final gigs before embarking on a national tour of their own. With a mix of new songs, hits off their debut album and a sprinkling of covers, they kept the handful of early arrivals at Kakaako Waterfront Park entertained for nearly an hour.

Maybe it was the sizable beer garden set up atop the hill overlooking the park's amphitheatre, or maybe it was the constant cloud of pakalolo smoke that wafted over the crowd, but nobody seemed to mind they had been waiting for more than 60 minutes in a slight drizzle by the time DJ Green Lantern started hyping them up with snippets of Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, DMX and Notorious B.I.G. songs.

Then, as the iconic Luniz jam "I Got 5 On It" played over the speakers, a giant reproduction of the "Distant Relatives" album cover arose behind the stage. A few minutes later, it fell to reveal the artists themselves, with Nas charging full-speed into "As We Enter" to start the night.

Even though it was kind of strange to hear the two perform such socially conscious music amidst a bunch of drunk stoners, the opportunity to see songs like "Tribal War" and "Nah Mean" performed live under the stars just a few feet from the Pacific Ocean was a lot more fun than watching the same performances on YouTube. Both Marley and Nas seemed genuinely excited to be back in front of their Honolulu fans — neither stopped running from one end of the stage to the other until Marley departed to make way for a Nas solo spotlight.

The willingness to yield the stage was nice touch for fans of both artists who may not be as familiar with the "Distant Relatives" material. After a quick hit with their new stuff, Nas went to the vault to perform hits like "Hip-Hop is Dead," "Street Dreams," "If I Ruled the World" and "Nas is Like." Marley then returned to help with a few more songs before making his fans freak out with renditions of "Me Name Junior Gong" and "One Cup of Coffee."

Some casual fans had enjoyed enough of the night and were starting to make their way out of the park around 10 p.m., but the vast majority hadn't gone anywhere when Nas took control of the vibe once again with "Hate Me Now," "Made You Look" and "Who Shot Ya?"

And of course, a Damian Marley show wouldn't be complete without "Welcome to Jamrock," and the son of the late, great Bob Marley gladly obliged before asking the Kakaako Waterfront Park crowd to raise their lighters into the sky for his performance of "Road to Zion."

It may have been slightly predictable, but Hawaii hip-hop and reggae fans had to be incredibly satisfied with Saturday's show. With so many artists making the stop in Hawaii while on their way to Asia and/or Australia and New Zealand, it's nice to see such popular acts not write off this market as someplace they can "mail it in," so to speak.

From the incredible energy levels of Marley and Nas the entire night to the sweet sounds coming from the duo's backing Empire Band, this concert had the feeling of a stadium show, just in a much more cozy space. It was a nearly perfect example of how shows at Kakaako Waterfront Park should be.

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PICS: Damian 'Jr. Gong' Marley and Nas in concert

‘Faith’ remastered is a winner

February 11th, 2011


No matter what you think of his sexuality or the path his career has taken over the past 20 years, the fact remains — George Michael created a masterpiece when he released “Faith” in November 1987.

The accolades don’t lie:

» More than 10 million (yes, MILLION) copies sold in 1988

» More than 85 weeks on the Billboard 200 chart (including 12 weeks at the top in ’88)

» Four number one Billboard singles

» A Grammy Award for Album of the Year in 1988

» 137 sold-out concerts worldwide in support of the album

So when Epic Records, Legacy Recordings and the artists own website,, decided to release a trio of commemorative re-release packages, the bar was set pretty high. How do you capture the lightning in a bottle, so to speak, of the original in what has become an increasingly cluttered music landscape?

The answer, apparently, was to allow Michael’s fans to decide just how fanatical they wanted to be. Along with the “Faith: Deluxe Edition” package available exclusively at his website, a “Faith: Special Edition” double-disc/DVD package and “Faith: 2CD Remastered Edition” are also available for purchase online. All three are worth the price of admission for ‘80s babies and anyone else who wants to relive Michael’s foray into the solo world after his departure from Wham! in 1986.

Let’s start with the music. All the hits you remember from “Faith” — the title track, “Father Figure,” “One More Try,” “Monkey,” “Kissing a Fool” (my personal favorite) and, of course, “I Want Your Sex” — are there in their remastered glory. I can remember listening to (and still have in my CD collection!) this album on my treasured Sony Discman, and I don’t know if it’s just me, but I can hear instruments on the remastered version much clearer than I remember on the original.

A second disc in the re-release contains instrumental versions of “Faith” and “Kissing a Fool,” plus three versions of “Monkey,” a live version of “Love’s in Need of Love Today,” a remix of “Hard Day” and the songs “Fantasy” and “I Believe When I Fall in Love.” The DVD included with the “Special Edition” and “Deluxe Edition” provides fans with music videos of Michael’s hits, plus a 1987 interview with the artist and “Music Money Love Faith,” which was originally released in 1988.

The interview, filmed in London in 1987 and billed as Jonathan Ross “having words” with Michael, is a fantastic counterpoint to the 2010 interview included in the book that’s included with the “Special” and “Deluxe” editions. You get a glimpse of what he was like during the period of time when his career was skyrocketing, plus a more introspective look back via the print interview with Mark Goodier. A companion piece in the book by Robbie Elson also provides important perspective on Michael’s place on the pop music landscape and his influence on both the music industry and mainstream society.

Go all out and buy the “Deluxe Edition,” and the goodies you’ll receive should be a pretty big deal for any hardcore George Michael fan. Along with the CDs, DVD and book, you get a vinyl replica LP of the album and a “memorabilia envelope” (includes five art prints, poster, tickets and “Faith” tour pass) in a numbered box that’s presented in a black and gold foil slipcase. The “Deluxe Edition” is available now, and the first 2,000 orders will also receive a specially-designed, numbered art print that’s exclusive to the set.

Would I personally go that far? Probably not. But the bonus CD and accompanying DVD are definitely worth it, and if you’re going to go as far as buying the “Special Edition,” be sure to actually take the time and read the book that comes with the music. You may just realize you have a new level of respect for the greatness that “Faith” is — and continues to be — nearly 25 years after the album was first released.

George Michael - 'Faith: Special Edition'

Three stars

» Info:

» Buy online: "Faith: Special Edition" or "Faith: 2CD Remastered Edition"

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Review: ‘Tron: Legacy’ in 3D

December 16th, 2010

Courtesy Disney

Light cycles help provide the action in "Tron: Legacy," just as their animated counterparts did in the original "Tron," released in 1982.


Like its predecessor, “Tron: Legacy” includes gaping holes in its plot that leave you scratching your head — even more so when you try to reconcile what’s going on here with what happened in the original version from the early ‘80s.

Trying to wrap your mind around this movie is an exercise in futility. In order to truly enjoy it, you’ve got to sit back and enjoy the ride. To borrow a line from main character Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges), it’s “biodigital jazz, man.” Just let it happen, and your mind won’t implode from all the discrepancies.

In “Tron,” the year is 1982 and the movie’s namesake is a security program (think of it as anti-virus software before anyone knew to call it that) designed by software company Encom. Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) is a disgruntled former employee trying to hack his way into their computers when he’s digitized and somehow transported inside the system, where he ends up meeting a digital version of Tron.

Compare that to “Tron: Legacy,” which apparently takes place in the present, but opens with a flashback to 1989 (Head-scratcher #1: Where did those seven years go?). Flynn has a young son, Sam (Garrett Hedlund), and is still employed at Encom, which now develops operating systems instead of national defense programs. Instead of hacking his way in, Flynn is apparently the programmer behind his company’s Master Control Program.

One constant? Flynn’s, an arcade named after the elder Flynn, which is fully operational in both movies — in “Tron: Legacy,” while covered in dust and apparently left undisturbed for more than 20 years, Sam is able to walk in, flip a few switches and fire up a jukebox and all the games in the arcade, including one called Tron (Head-scratcher #2: What happened to Space Paranoids?).


SURF’S UP: North Shore food truck fun

November 17th, 2010

Photo by Dennis Oda /

Tacos Vicente co-owner David Hitz takes an order inside the taco truck he opened with partner Axel Diaz earlier this year. It was parked near Sunset Beach on Nov. 4; the truck also parks regularly near the Bringham Young University-Hawaii campus in Laie. Pictured below, some of the tacos from Tacos Vicente.


With all the action on the North Shore of Oahu during the winter months, even getting yourself a bite to eat can be a relatively time-consuming ordeal.

At the peak of surf season, thousands upon thousands of people flock to Sunset, Pipeline and a number of other nearby breaks. All those bodies, plus the cars they arrived in, means plenty of traffic along Kamehameha Highway.

When hunger strikes, don't think you have to trek through a sea of humanity to get to a restaurant in Haleiwa or elsewhere further along Kamehameha Highway. Instead of heading all the way into Haleiwa town, keep your eyes peeled for one of a number of food trucks that make their money on this side of the island.

From the always-popular Kahuku shrimp plate to freshly baked pizza and even Korean food, there are plenty of non-restaurant options on the North Shore if you know where to look.

Click here to get started on our tour of the North Shore's most popular food trucks, including one that hasn't opened for business quite yet — but promises to attract quite a crowd when it does.

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