Sound Advice: Get off the couch already

Gender bender: Some weeknights are usually synonymous with binge-watching marathons. After all, it’s easy to succumb to a night of Netflix and a bag of cheese puffs. However, knowing that Los Angeles’ Allison Chains, an all-female tribute to the all-male Alice In Chains, would be playing a mere fives miles from my house was enough of an elixir to venture out into the cold Sacramento night.

The band’s West Coast jaunt, appropriately dubbed the “Better Hair Than Jerry (Cantrell)” tour, included a stop at the Blue Lamp.

Led by lead singer and blonde bombshell Caroline Heldman, the band tore through “Dam That River” as if it was written for them alone. Standing atop Blue Lamp’s vocal monitor, it’s safe to say Heldman had seen a few AIC shows in her lifetime. She had the late Layne Staley’s moves down.

On “Them Bones” from 1992’s Dirt, guitarist Felicia Villani and bassist Amelia Gioiello, a.k.a. P-Nut, played so well together, it felt like they were in a large arena rather than a small, 200-capacity room.

There was certainly no shortage of applause and, of course, requests from the largely male crowd, the members of which seemed to know nearly every song.

Unlike the thousands of tribute bands who only play the hits, these four women also brought out deeper cuts during their 45-minute set. Highlights included a rousing rendition of the more obscure “Love/Hate/Love,” “Would?” and a spirited version of “Rooster,” which would’ve probably made Alice In Chains founder Cantrell smile from ear-to-ear.

Drummer Misai held down the groove and even launched into a disco-laden intro reminiscent of Wild Cherry’s “Play That Funky Music,” which then moved into the band’s final song, “Man In The Box.”

But, before Allison Chains could exit the stage, the band was coerced to play an encore: fittingly, “We Die Young.”

—Eddie Jorgensen

Event season: Don’t be tempted to stay indoors this holiday season. Do not succumb to the Netflix and cheese puffs! There’s too much stuff going on.

The 10th annual Rock for Tots takes place on Thursday, December 18, at the Blue Lamp (1400 Alhambra Boulevard). Per usual, it’s a great way to feel generous and rock out at the same time. Cover is $10. Bring a toy and get entered into a sweet raffle for haircuts, tattoos, piercings, concert tickets, clothes, music, restaurant gift cards and more. But really, everyone’s a winner, because your donated toy will make a kid super happy. Make it a cool toy.

Local electronic indie dance rock band Saint Solitaire headlines the evening. Frontman Andrew Barnhart always puts on an energetic show, and he’s promising to unveil a brand new song that night. Rock band Lonely Kings will play for the 10th time while Gene Chowder, Danny Secretion’s alter-lounge-ego, hosts the evening.

Follow that with the third annual Non-Drummer Off on Friday, December 19, at Harlow’s Restaurant & Nightclub, 2708 J Street. The event is exactly what it sounds like. A drummer competition between people who don’t play drums. Owee. My ears already hurt.

The real drummers behind Ideateam, ZuhG and Massive Delicious will judge. Indie outfit Joseph in the Well and Jeffry Valerio of reggae band Riotmaker will play real music. Presumably awful drum solos courtesy of 14 musicians and other members of the creative community, including Clay Nutting of LowBrau and TBD Fest, Kenny the Dancing Man and SN&R’s very own Nick Miller.

Sammies time: We had some delays, but SN&R’s annual Sacramento Area Music Awards, a.k.a. the Sammies, is now accepting nominations for the March 2015 celebration. Head to and tell us which local musician’s record gets you through work every day; who is creating soundscapes so creative and unusual that you’re left confused; who is shredding so hard that you get headaches; who is spitting such honest rap that you cry; and … you get the idea. We want to know who you like and stuff.

You’ll have about a month to do so. We’ll announce the official nominations—and you can start campaigning for votes—in February.

—Janelle Bitker