Semi Precious Weapons @ Highline Ballroom (1/31/2009)

Semi Precious Weapons were in the middle of what they called the “Hell on Heels” tour and it found them at the Highline Ballroom on a cold winter’s night with both Von Iva and Nico Vega as support. We checked out this interesting appearance and for those who wish to see more they can click the logo below to be brought to our item on the main site. We offered commentary on all three bands and took photos of everyone so please enjoy.

Logo - Semi Precious Weapons

Artist: Semi-Precious Weapons
Venue: Highline Ballroom (New York, NY)
Opener: Von Iva, Nico Vega
Date: 1/31/2009
Label: Razor & Tie Entertainment

Before I had walked out the door for this show, my day had actually started off with a massive amount of emails and calls from friends who were all wondering if I was going to be hitting the area appearance of Metallica that night and doing my “Metal Guy” thing. Alas I was not and their notes actually didn’t bother me all that much because I was bravely adventuring out for something completely new to my senses as opposed to stuff I was fully aware of. The show would be at The Highline Ballroom and the super cold night made the confines of the club seem like a welcome and warm embrace. The gig was referred to as “The Hell On Heels” tour and found headliners Semi-Precious Weapons performing with both Von Iva and Nico Vega. It would be my first go round for all of the groups so I made sure to check this one out from the very beginning. Here is what you missed if you didn’t join in on the fun. Von Iva was up first.

Von Iva: I had been informed that this San Francisco band made an appearance in the recent Jim Carrey movie “Yes Man” and as result was enjoying an added burst of popularity. The group consists of three girl members that handle vocals, keyboards and drums and in the end offer up a very danceable sort of vibe. They are fronted by Jillian Iva who regularly engaged the audience and even came out to sing amidst them during their short set. Keyboards come by way of Bex and drums from Lay Lay and while Bex stays in one spot on her stationary boards, Lay Lay moves to the front for a short time to play on different drums which were set up for her use. While Electronic Pop is not really my thing the group was certainly entertaining and as I wandered around the room I had met up with people who were not there for the main act and instead more interested in Von Iva. Nico Vega was coming up next.

Nico Vega: Led by singer Aja, this three piece group is completed by Rich (guitar) and Dan (drums) who together deliver a Hard Rock meets Indie Soul sort of thing that was much more interesting to me based on the overall intensity of singer Aja. For lack of a better comparison, I would say think of a more aggressive version of Evanescence based on some of the grooves that they were bringing to the table. The drums were relatively heavy throughout the bands set and the guitar riffing kept on crunching while Aja very emotionally delivered her vocals during the set. She ran all over the stage and was egging people on and the audience was eating it up as she did it. Clearly she has been doing this for awhile because she came off as a seasoned professional and not someone new to the entertainment game. I neglected to make note of their set list and I didn’t see one on the stage but am assuming that most of the material came from their self-titled debut release on MySpace Records. Research found me discovering that the group had released a number of albums on their own before this. I am hoping to catch them again in the near future. Toward the end of their set Jillian from Von Iva came out and danced/sang along with Aja much to the appreciation of the crowd. Now it was time for Semi-Precious Weapons to take the stage and the club was pretty packed at this point which was a very good sight.

Semi-Precious Weapons: I had recently reviewed the bands Razor & Tie debut entitled “We Love You” and I found it to be a rather intoxicatingly sleazy brand of Heavy Rock and Roll. The album was loaded with streetwise Punk attitude and flair and based on what I had heard about singer Justin Trainter in concert, it made my missing the Metallica show something that I would be able to live with. The singer is what is best described as being over the top when it comes to his stage performance and he regularly addresses the audience as his bitches and frequently uses the term “k*nt” which might make some people in the crowd cringe. Of course when you hear how he utilizes the respelled term it makes perfect sense and it is something that he is going to say again and again despite anyone’s reservations. The band was super energetic and very heavy in the live sense which really impressed me and I felt that while they had a bit of a Glam thing going on in terms of their singer, the rest of the guys were along the lines of regular dudes dishing out some powerful Rock and Roll. The group hails from NYC nowadays even though their members come from other areas and I found it good to see this kind of Rock and Roll being performed because it is easier to sell to this kind of region than somewhere in the middle states. New Yorkers can probably laugh off being called bitches by a bands singer a lot easier than some of those Bible Belt spots I can tell you that much. Trainter is a fantastic front man and perhaps one of the best ones that I have seen in action recently. He is very into what he is doing and the people who are screaming for his attention down in the front.

The club had a full floor now and with the upstairs closed off it seemed like a good four hundred people were in the place. The drumming is your standard four on the floor pounding and the bass is handled by the very animated Cole Whittle. He was killing that thing to say the least. Musically the band was really keeping everyone entertained but the larger focus was obviously set on Justin. The singer rode the crowd, and I mean in the real sense as he came off the stage to be held up by their hands as he continued singing. When he was not discussing how gorgeous he was he was also hawking the jewelry and music that they had for sale because like the song “Rock ‘N Roll Never Looked So Beautiful” maintains “I can’t pay the rent but at least I’m gorgeous”. Trainter actually has a line of higher end jewelry that he created and sells through a number of retail outlets. Some pieces were available at the merchandise booth for those who had interest. For me the set ended too quickly and the band only delivered about seven numbers. If my memory of the CD served me well, it seemed as though most of them came from the “We Love You” album and that made sense since they were hoping to generate some of that much needed funding to continue.

After the set completed Justin hung around at the merchandise booth to meet those who wished to say hello or get their CD signed. He posed for pictures and I was amazed at how many of the girls on the line were getting their chests signed. After all this was not a KISS appearance, but to each their own right? I used this time to wish the singer well and congratulated him on what I felt had been a very impressive and entertaining gig. If you are a fan of the classic style Hard Rock and want it delivered with a little bit of flair and eyeliner, then you should pay some attention to Semi Precious Weapons. As I left I had someone ask me if during my photos had I captured Trainter’s shoes and alas I didn’t believe I had snapped them. The odd question would have made me scratch my head a little bit had the event not been called the “Hell on Heels” tour. I had to say that it was great to try something new and recommend that other music fans do that for themselves whenever possible. It’s good for the musical soul.

SPW Set list:
1. Semi Precious Weapons
2. Her Hair Is On Fire
3. Put A Diamond In It And Bite Down
4. That’s Kunt
5. I Could Die
6. Magnetic Baby
7. Rock ‘N Roll Never Looked So Beautiful

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