It’s been a week of notable shows throughout Southern California, and Heard Mentality was around for most of them. Here’s a rundown of what you missed:
311 and the Offspring at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater
It was surprising to see the Offspring open for 311 in their own back yard, and 311 put on a crowd-pleasing performance as the headliners. The Offspring, however, stole the show. Dexter Holland almost seemed surprised by the energy emitting from the crowd and instantly kicked it up a few notches.
Crowd: Brostastic! But not nearly as bad as we suspected. Does a massive smoke cloud of weed count as a crowd member? From a July 26 Heard Mentality post  by Andrew Youssef.
Queensryche at the Grove of Anaheim
The idea itself—Queensryche hosting a cabaret to perform their music to—was admirable and seemed to merit a new look at Geoff Tate and company’s songs. With burlesque and go-go dancers, ballerinas, drag queens, jugglers, and contortionists crammed onstage with the band, the hodgepodge of visuals seemed really awkward. The jugglers and contortionists weren’t bad-ass enough or cool enough, the girls weren’t wild enough or sexy enough (we’ve seen better costumes at Burning Man), and the band weren’t . . . metal enough.
Overheard In the Crowd: “Well, it’s either this or the state-fair circuit.” From a July 23 post .
Carole King and James Taylor at the Honda Center
There are two reasons to watch classic acts: One, you want to say you saw them before they died, and two, well . . . they’re just great performers. For Taylor and King’s Troubadour reunion tour, the duo—now 62 and 68, respectively—got their original backup band together and hit the road. We caught the last performance of the tour—and it was amazing.
The Crowd: It was like attending a Republican National Committee fund-raiser at Honda Center—the only black man in sight was onstage. From a July 21 post .
Gram Rabbit at the Detroit Bar
Though the crowd responded almost immediately to Rutherford’s timely bass playing and von Rabbit’s high-pitched vibrato, Gram Rabbit took a while to return the enthusiasm. Funny, you’d think a band who produce plenty of seductive dance tunes would bust out more moves onstage.
Personal Bias: It’s hard not to love a band who can bring electro and country together without forcing you to plug your ears to stop the bleeding. From a July 23 post  by Nate Jackson.
This column appeared in print as “The Good, the Bad, the Awesome, the Meh.”