Wednesday, December 29, 2010
There's so much focus among music kids that if you like an artist, you need to know their history and their biography, why they write and where they're from and what they like to do in their spare time. I don't think any of this matters. What matters is the music. What matters is how it makes you feel. What matters is how it sounds and how it affects you.
With that in mind, sometimes when you love music you want to go and find more, and maybe you get curious about who they are and whether it was genuine and if it meant something to the artist too. So I spent five minutes, googled "Sky Ferreira interview" and found out who she was and what she does and whether or not it was genuine. But this didn't mean I liked the song any more, didn't impact how much I'd been in love with this song before this morning.
What did I find out? That' she's been self promoting in the club scene since she was 14, doing what she's singing about for years, and trying to get out of LA, marketing herself and driving her own career (despite recent EMI trouble). I fully support carving out your own career, fighting for yourself, getting what you need to do what you want.
But that doesn't mean the blend of soft intros with electronic chorus doesn't feel right. The drop in the first line in the chorus versus a forced rise is perfect. The music, not who she is, is why I care.
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
I think he focused a bit too hard on lyrics this year, at the expense of some coherence and an even more dimensional beat. That said, I think it's fun and a great representation of where Pop was this year - it was about dancing, clubs, forgetting yourself in the beat, and being young forever. Going all night, partying, and throwing your hands in the air. And as much as music snobs will try, you really can't stop the pop.
Sunday, December 26, 2010
At the beginning of the show, one of the DeGeorges got up on stage and asked anyone if it was their first Yule Ball. Second? Third? My hand was still up for fourth, but there were some up for fifth and sixth too. That's dedication, man.
Jason Anderson was up first. (I just accidentally typed "best" instead of "first." Both are true.) I still love Jason Anderson, but he didn't sing any of his own songs, opting to instead jump into the crowd and sing Christmas carols with everyone. It was a room full of maybe 400 people singing Christmas songs at the top of their lungs in the glow of multicolored strands of lights and it was the first time all season that it really felt like Christmas.
Next up was The Whomping Willows. It was just the singer alone on an acoustic and it was his 500th show, his first being at the first Yule Ball. It was a special night and he sang his first song "Seasonal Depression" which I'm not ashamed to say I own on CD. He's a great performer, if self-deprecating and maybe in need of a hug. "Could have been a wizard rock heart throb..."
Math the Band was next and I can't for the life of me figure out where I've heard of them before. They were not a Wizard rock band, but were a chiptune band. I like chiptune, but I'll admit to being a little distracted by the boy that the girls behind us nicknamed "Sasquatch." He was about six feet tall, hadn't showered thoroughly in a few days, and decided to mosh next to the small girls. Being the tallest of anyone around, I took the protective role of "wall," stepped between him and the 4 foot eleven and 5 foot two girls I was with, and stood my ground. The girls to his left looked frightened and the girls beside us were pissed. He was having fun, but he was all elbows and flailing and this just wasn't the crowd for that. The band itself was... loud. But fun. But loud, and a bit on the "noise" side of the noise vs music scale. But fun, just a guitar some beats and a keyboard.
Next was Draco and the Malfoys. I've seen them an embarrassing amount of times. I was happy to see that they were back to being a wizard rock band versus a wizard bluegrass band. They set an ipod up to play drums (the younger brother drums for some of the other bands at the Yule Balls, so I'm guessing he is the infamous "Crabbe" playing on the track) and rock out on a couple of guitars. They are a lot of fun, and probably the only band that can get away with gleefully singing about people's dead fathers. I think they're a little bit awesome.
Potter Puppet Pals rounded out the openers with a Hogwarts beauty pageant. Neil Cicierega is funny, though some of his short films are often of the dry, bland humor variety, the sort of punchline free, odd comedy. That's not a criticism, really, but an observation that the Puppet Pals don't seem to be much like his other work. The pageant was fun, with people pulled from the crowd as judges, and it was an interesting interlude. The Ron puppet was completely covered in Christmas lights for an outfit. Go big or go home, Ron Weasley.
Finally, Harry and the Potters. The first, the best, the pinnacle of silly wizard rock. There were some choreographed dance moves, a guitar shaped like a broom, santa hats and tinsel. They play silly songs and the crowd screams along and it's about the best book geek moment ever. There is nothing that can describe how two boys in their twenties dressed up like a fictional boy wizard can make a crowd dance like they can. This year the crowd was packed, a sold out show of teenagers, college kids, and a few scattered adults. It was a good crowd with some fun bands, and it was a fantastic way to start the Christmas week.
Monday, December 20, 2010
It's not as good as the other recorded versions, but it's impressive that he's playing it alone. I love the theme of the song: "They might try to tell you how you can live your life, but don't forget it's your right to do whatever you like, because you could be your own spotlight." I'm a huge believer in the idea that to get what you want, it's got to be DIY, you've got to hustle, you've got to take opportunities and make it happen for yourself. I'm a big fan of musicians, dancers, writers, artists, people who just put themselves out there and work and work and work to get to their goals.
I recently read Keltie Colleen's book Rockettes, Rockstars, and Rockbottom, and while it might get its own post later (that rockstar portion getting it a music nod) it's her work ethic and her spirit that I love, and that have kept me reading her blog for over a year now. Her mantra is "Courage, Passion, Hard Work" and that's what you really do need. You have to be fearless enough to put yourself out there, want it enough to live your life for it, and be willing to work yourself to the bone to get it.
You can be your own spotlight.
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Night one began with $5 bills for taking a survey and a freezing cold theater. The Orpheum likes to keep its doors open until the headliner begins and with the weather below 20 that meant that most of the theater had their jackets on through most of both nights. Many people also had hats. Some had scarves and mittens. It was ridiculous.
Free Energy opened both nights, and though I'd seen them once before they started to grow on me by the end of night three. The poor lead singer was trying so hard to get people to stand up and dance, as that's what their music is really made for, but the crowd was frozen solid to their seats. I hate seated shows. They danced and sang and grooved anyways, and at the end of the second night hadn't moved themselves into my "I'll buy a ticket the next time they're in the city" pile, but they'd made it onto the "I might like to see them play again" list.
Weezer night one was a greatest hits set followed by the Blue Album, with a slideshow by Karl in between. The greatest hits set ran backwards through the albums starting with Hurley and skipping Maladroit. They played the obvious hits off of each one but stopped before they hit the Blue Album. They raced through the songs, Rivers gingerly climbing onto the balcony and jumping off of amps. He ran around in the crowd as well and traded a few vocals with Brian.
I'll admit that I mostly just wanted this set to be over, as what I was really waiting for was The Blue Album. It is hands down my favorite album, and from the first opening notes of "My Name is Jonas" nothing else existed but that music. I know every note on that CD by heart and they hit everyone, ending the night with "Only in Dreams." It's the concert I've wanted since I was 14, and I think I got it.
I paid a little more attention to the hits set from night two, and they threw in some B sides as well. I've never had more than a passing interest in "You Gave Your Love to Me Softly" but I love "Suzanne" and the rest of the crowd did too. I would have loved to hear "Lullaby for Wayne" but I think "Suzanne" is the Weezer fan song. You haven't heard it on the radio, it's not on the albums, but it's not a super rare B side either. It's one of the songs that should have been on an album but just didn't quite make it, but we all love it anyways.
The ended the hits set with "Only in Dreams" again instead of some of the more obvious choices from Blue, and I could not have been happier.
The Pinkerton set was great. I've never loved Pinkerton like some people do,and the first four songs have never really done it for me, but I love the back half of that CD. "The Good Life" and "El Scorcho" are just fantastic and are beyond fun live. It's an album that critics panned at first, but fans knew had something good hidden on it. I love songs more live and that was still true here, being made to listen to the whole album through with intent and a crowd behind it.
Kind of awesome.
Monday, December 13, 2010
I put this song on repeat a few days ago and listened to it all day. I actually think it would be kind of awesome reinvented as a duet, one person singing girls, the other singing boys, trading the chorus lines back and forth, yelling out each other's flaws through the musical intro.
I kill, kill, kill little boys.
Thursday, December 9, 2010
I love that she's not singing about being the rebel girl, but about wanting to be her friend. We've all had that person who was so much cooler that you wanted to follow them around and try on their clothes and not just be them but be their best friend. Bring back the riot grrl, the girl who didn't care what other people thought. I used to love this song in high school, though I knew nothing else by Bikini Kill. It didn't matter because for just a few seconds of my life I wanted to be Kathleen Hanna's best friend.
It just so happened that Charlieissocoollike made a video about baking the other day as well that made me smile as I stressed over my thesis in the science center. It didn't quite belong on the other blog, so you'll get the fun right here:
Saturday, December 4, 2010
"What happens on the Dancefloor stays on the Dancefloor. " Yes, yes it does.
I think I've realized another thing that really bothered me about the last Cobra album. Not only were the guitars few and far between but there wasn't a word of Spanish. The music industry cleaned away a few of the beauty marks that made the band what they were. I loved "Viva la Cobra" era shows. I loved the way the band and the music felt in 2008, and I loved their badass disregard in 2007. I loved 2009 and 2010 as well, understood that bands change and was happy that they were getting noticed by the mainstream, but I wondered if anyone remembered their original goal from Gabe's mythos of the band: "To teach hipsters not to take themselves so seriously and emo kids to stop being pussies."
They always said they'd keep touring and performing and making music until it wasn't fun anymore.
I don't think they're coming back from this tour break.
Friday, December 3, 2010
And on top of that, there have been more than a few moments lately where I really just wanted to yell "Bitch, step off!"
This is not, of course, what I did. In true Alex form I smiled and nodded and wished the best, then pouted and ranted to my best friend. But sometimes I truly feel the world just calls for a good "Fuck you."
Cee Lo is pop, sure, but also kind of a musical genius. He's got great beats and knows how to push the limits just a little bit to make it fresh but still Glee-able. And I love typography videos, and am excited that this is starting to become a trend.
"Oh I really hate your ass right now."
Friday, November 26, 2010
It's really awesome, with two amazing singers with such vastly different styles on stage together singing from my favorite album. But what's better than that is the warm up video that came out a few weeks after:
It's the way that Weezer is almost surprised that MCR knows the song so well, that MCR is proud to impress them like a couple of fans. It's the broken down version of the song and the way Rivers and Gerard smile at each other at the end, one flattered and the other mildly starstruck. It's this great interaction between the two bands, as though MCR isn't a huge rock band and Weezer doesn't know that they're cited as an influence by almost every rock band out there at the moment. It's Patrick Wilson pondering that their guests could be "zany." It's this great, great meeting and it's these sorts of videos that I wish I could capture at some point.
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
However, this hair has been done before. By Gwen Stefani. So...
The video is an interesting concept, but it's the style I'm more in love with. I love her hair, even though it's too reminiscent of No Doubt, probably because Gwen is the reason I started dying my hair five or six years ago, back when No Doubt was one of my favorite bands. I've always wanted to be able to pull off a full head of bright color like this, but I tend to settle for stripes. And one of my very favorite things to pair ridiculously colored hair with is classy clothing.
I like the filming and the colors of the overall video as well. This was my late night driving album this summer and the songs remind me of backroads in Connecticut with sleeping passengers and highways in Western Massachusetts with no other cars and the scent of a show clinging to my hair.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
And the fact that Rock and Roll, the love of music and the belief in it's power, caused someone in New York to send me music and a message to keep believing? That's what makes music fucking awesome.
The lyrics are an exact description of what I'm looking for in music right now. "Remember folks we're not just saving lives we're saving souls, we're having fun."
Right now, I want to listen to Brian Fallon and Frank Turner and Jason Lancaster and Tim Barry. I want to listen to the people who understand, who believe, and who can feel.
It'll take work, I think. I'll admit that so much of the pop-punk scene was fed to us by Fueled by Ramen and Alternative Press and Pete Wentz that I never had to hunt down a show or a scene. This, however, will take just that, with a little help along the way from the other Rock and Roll souls whose paths I cross.
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
The scene is gone and I'm here, two years later, searching for something new.
OK Go has always made brilliant videos, and here's the newest one, released today, for "Last Leaf."
OK Go | Myspace Music Videos
Maybe I'll take those glasses out for a spin to my last class of the day.
Sunday, November 7, 2010
A Great Big Pile of Leaves opened the show and they were a decent little rock opener on their first tour. After their set, the thirty something dude next to us leaned over. "Have you guys ever heard of Saves The Day?" he asked. "Of course!" I replied. "Good!" he said, turning to his wife. "My wife and I were wondering if anyone here would. They're more our generation..." He explained that he'd seen them ten years ago at URI and I had a brief moment of wonder as to who I would still be seeing in ten years.
Saves the Day played a lot of newer songs, much to the dude's disappointment. They used to be huge, but I only recognized a few. It really was his generation, not ours. One of the friends I was with knew more than I and loved it, and they were a good punk rock band. That sort of lasting power is hard to come by.
I've been meaning to see Say Anything for a couple of years now and they did not disappoint. They rock the whole crowd. I haven't seen a crowd move like that in a while and it was refreshing. We were all singing out hearts out to songs from all of the albums, though I was surprised they didn't play "Hate Everyone." "Do Better" was a crowd favorite, though "Woe" and "Baby Girl, I'm a Blur" and "Wow, I Can Get Sexual Too" followed close behind. The crowd loved them and they played hard and loud.
Poor Motion City Soundtrack. More specifically, poor Justin Pierre. He lost his voice, and squeaked and mouthed his way through the set. The crowd picked up some of the slack, but there was only so much we could do. We sang along, we proved that we loved them still, but it wasn't their best night. They were trying so very hard, but it's not easy to pull off a set with a singer with no voice. They played all the hits and the crowd held their own but some of the smaller songs they struggled with. It was still fun, we still danced and had a good time, but a night of vocal rest might also have been a better option in the long run. God bless him, though, for thanking us over and over and coming out at the beginning and squeaking "I'll try so so hard."
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
That's actually the incorrect tense. They're playing right now and I'm watching them live online. They just finished the entirety of "Yes, Virginia" with "Sing." Amanda read the "Yes, Virginia" letter before starting the song and I had one of those holding on moments, from miles and miles away, wishing I was there to sing along.
When I went to AFP's Twitter show last summer, I noted that I would go and watch her just talk for a night, no music necessary. I love the way she sees the world, and she explains it during her sets both through music and speaking. She interacts with the crowd and opens up and I love it.
The encore's starting. I so love that they're the kind of band who will livestream a concert. Not the same, and I can't imagine who utterly awesome it would be to be there right now. They're not just good musicians, they're also great, funny, personable performers. I've never heard Brian speak before these past two nights and he is just as amazing and funny as Amanda. Love, love it.
UPDATE: Amanda is running through the balcony singing "Mein Herr." I can't describe how much they perform.
Sunday, October 31, 2010
"I don't feel much," I replied. That's why I need music, to let me feel.
"Concerts for me are like meds for all of you."
I don't know who you are, but I know exactly what you mean.
Guster at Lupos in Providence, October 30, 2010
I'd forgotten those moments, when you remember that there's a world outside of the engulfing wave of sound you're currently drowning in, and you clutch onto that moment and try not to let go.
We were a little late last night, walking into Lupo's as Jukebox the Ghost was about halfway through "Schizophrenia." They were fabulous, as usual, and it was some point during their set when I just wanted to hold on and it surprised me. It was a feeling I'd forgotten, but one I used to have at every concert I went to. I don't know when that disappeared.
Lupo's was decked out for Halloween and many people came in costumes. There was this one couple dressed as Legos and they danced holding hands the entire night. It was one of the cutest things I have ever, ever seen.
Guster gets better every time I see them. They were absolutely amazing last night. They played a full, fun set, and the crowd loved them. I really love their drummer. He is so into it and I love that he hand drums and makes these amazing faces while he does it. While watching him I realized that the playful drumming is another thing I love about Jukebox the Ghost. I really appreciate a good drummer, but one who's good and having fun is even better.
Of course everyone always expects the first encore, but we made more noise than I'd heard in a while. Then after that we kept cheering and they came back again. They'd commented before that their most watched Youtube video was from an acoustic set at Lupo's forever ago, so they came out, Adam shirtless, and reenacted this. The crowd went silent to hear the acoustic, save for an almost whispered, reverent singalong. It was amazing.
Thursday, October 28, 2010
Put it in HD and blow it up to full screen. I'm in love with this.
I hear some people day dream about their weddings or foreign locations or puppies and rainbows or... something. But if you see me staring off into space, I'm probably kicking some bad guy ass in a ridiculous outfit and a fast car. Not a superhero, no special powers, just a badass with intelligence and hellacious hair. It's like they found their way into my brain.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Saturday, October 23, 2010
I went to the Mayday Parade Fearless Friends show last Sunday at Paradise. The parts I saw of it were fun, but I went mainly to do interviews. There were communication issues and the night was a little bit of a mess, but I ended up not only seeing all of Go Radio's set but also sitting down and talking with Jason Lancaster. I've been thinking a lot lately about the musical portion of my life, about my disappointment in the scene, and about what I'm really looking for in music these days. Go Radio's set was the only one that really meant anything to me that night, and though the full interview will be posted elsewhere later, Jason talked about honesty in music. He said a few things that made me realize he was the first person I'd talked to in a while who truly believed in music and wanted something more from being a musician than a touring lifestyle and a crowd of fans.
That's what I'm looking for right now and I'm just not getting it out of this scene. I thought about the shows that I truly enjoyed lately and they weren't the ones with the pretty boys playing pop riffs on stage while teenage girls texted and took pictures from the front rows. They were the ones with the older guys pouring their hearts out, the crowds of punks and solid people who care that they're getting a show full of meaning. The Gaslight Anthem sticks out in my head, the two shows this summer that felt like the men on stage were there because they loved music, not because they loved being rockstars.
I don't know where that leaves me. I've got tickets for a few more shows this fall, some that I'm really excited about, but I've crossed a few off my list too. I'm not going to see 3Oh!3 tomorrow night because I'm not sure what I'll get out of it right now. I've lost that need to buy every CD by every band I know, to go see every show that comes to the East Coast. I'm just not feeling it.
I've wondered why. I've thought maybe I'm busy, maybe I'm growing up, maybe I'm demanding more from my music, a higher quality. I don't know what the answer is.
The tag line of this blog used to be something like "Music, Videos, and Scene Kids." I was asked a few weeks ago in my MATM interview whether or not I'd continue this blog through grad school, and I'd replied with a resounding yes, fully believing it. But only a little while later I'm not even sure this blog will make it far past its second birthday.
Unless I find a new scene that convinces me that musicians who still believe in music are out there, I might be closing in on the end of a fantastic musical run. I'm over the scene and I just can't get in to the indie hipster crowd. I'm not a punk and I can't do metal. I don't have the patience anymore to wade through five bad local rock shows to find one good band.
Prove me wrong, world. Please, before a part of my life shrivels and dies.
Saturday, October 16, 2010
It died last summer and I knew it. I've been watching it die, watching crowds get smaller, waiting for something to rise from the ashes. I thought maybe last night it would, maybe last night would start the rise of something new. It didn't.
The crowd didn't even fill Club Hell and that's saying something. We wound up against the front railing without any struggle. There was a swarm of fans behind us, and I heard one of them talking about being a "crew." I wondered if maybe they were OCC (the Original Cobra Crew, from so long ago), so I turned and asked what she meant. She seemed a little embarrassed by it at first, and replied that they were "part of Icecreamhdaches, it's this thing on livejournal."
IceCreamHdaches (their username is actually missing the letters, it's not a typo) was what introduced me to really being a fan of a band. Back in 2007, when I was just starting to break into the scene and the bands held within, I checked ICH everyday. They knew what was going on with FOB within seconds of something happening, they were faster than FOBR, and I had never realized that there was this intense group of fans both online and at shows. I didn't even know that a "scene" existed before them. I mentioned to the girl last night a little of this, that I had been an almost constant lurker, but that I had never posted myself. She was excited, however, and they gave me an ICH pin with the motto "we stalk so you don't have to."
I found out about the scene through ICH. I finally met them at a show. Maybe that really does mean it's the end. It'd certainly be a poetic bookend.
Hey Champ opened the show and they were bouncy but their drums were too loud and I couldn't hear the vocals. This seems to be a constant problem at Club Hell. They were fun and I danced a little, but the crowd was dead. They were barely moving and there was always this half second pause of silence between the song ending and the clapping starting, awkward enough that the singer commented on it and no one laughed.
Black Cards. I wanted this music in a tiny club, but I wanted it polished and clean to a crowd of club dancers, not to the scene's leftovers. I'll admit to being one of that crowd, but the constant cameras flashing at Pete, the lack of dancing, the horrible sound through the speakers... it just wasn't there. The beat was going, and on the familiar songs people were singing along and moving, but it wasn't quite right. I think these songs were designed for 20 somethings, I think that's where this band should have been, but all they got were teenagers looking for the last lost bits of Fall Out Boy.
I swear it wasn't all bad. Bebe looked nervous at first, and it sounded as if they were tweaking her voice on one of the early songs to make it sound "old-timey" but she soon loosened up and started performing instead of just singing. She's gorgeous and has a pretty cool stage presence once she's going, but it was Pete everyone was really watching, which must suck a little for Bebe. She talked to the crowd a tiny bit, but Pete did most of it. And, as is only fitting of the nominal leader of that crowd, everyone shut up as soon as he did. He was speaking softly into the mic and I've never, ever heard a club that quiet to cling onto his every word. I had a thought, at the first FOB show I saw, that the moving mass of kids, at the time in the thousands, would do whatever that man said. I still believe that crowd last night would have. The charismatic leader of a scene that's no longer around.
The ICH crowd had been to the show the night before, and was planning on going to the show tonight, so they played an extra song out of appreciation. They hung out after, signed autographs and took pictures. I recognized a few of the guys surrounding the band, probably mangers or security, from other bands and other shows, and it was just a little odd.
The night ended with burgers and coffee with concert buddies at a roaming diner in Providence, and it was a delicious, but the drive home gave me a little too much time to think. I'm quickly becoming one of the oldest people at these shows and I'm feeling more and more like a teenager when I go to them. The crowds are getting smaller, but they're not getting older. Scene kids are still 13-18, and it seems that once they hit adulthood they just leave. But shows with people my own age are often indie shows, hipster filled crowds, and I don't feel right their either. I've been waiting for a new scene to arise and it hasn't yet, and I'm losing faith that it's coming.
The scene is dead. Long live the scene.
Sunday, October 10, 2010
Can we just take a moment to appreciate that tour name. Have you taken your moment? Okay then, moving on.
I hate parking in Cambridge. Hate it and so I normally take the T in, but I had to bring my roommate to the hospital (hearing a knock on the door and then a "Can you take me to the urgent care center?" is not the way to start your Saturday morning) so I was running late and I had to drive and I drove around for, no lie, 45 minutes before I found someplace to park. It was ridiculous.
So I missed the first act, Skyway Flyer, but I found Luke and Kristina of ALL CAPS and they asked if I minded doing the interview after. I said no, so I stuck around for the rest of the show.
Oh geek rock. I kind of love you. Mike Lombardo played a song about how "piano don't get chicks" and Alex Carpenter played songs about Harry Potter and the Hunger Games. It was awesome.
ALL CAPS is a fun live bit, and while the crowd of mainly preteen girls loved everyone they screamed and danced the most for ALL CAPS. They're dancy and fun and bouncy and everything you'd want out of an afternoon show. I was sad, however, that I had to go and put more quarters in the parking meter (damn you meters!) and so missed the last five minutes of their set, including "Don't Unplug Me." However some wonderful person uploaded it to YouTube. It's a great example of not just ALL CAPS, but the feel of the whole show.
After they'd taken pictures and signed things for every fan that waited, I got to sit down with Luke and Kristina. They're super nice and wonderful to all of their fans. Look for a link to my interview with them soon!
Saturday, October 9, 2010
"Get hot, get too close to the flame, wild open space. Talk like an open book. Sign me up."
I also love the video. I'll always have a soft spot for one shot videos, as it takes a massive amount of work to get one shot to be perfect. The added effect of having them all switch places and the amount of coordination that must have gone into it are also things that I can appreciate. I love videos that are simple but interesting, and this is both of those.
Friday, October 8, 2010
Mix was having a "Back to the 80s" night as I drove home tonight, and this showed up as I spun the dial.
I did not win Month at the Museum, but I met four amazing people, explored one of the coolest museums I've ever seen, and sent my goal out there into the world. It was an amazing ride, one I'll edit into something exciting in the near future. Until then, take my word that science is just damn cool!
Monday, October 4, 2010
The school paper spelled it Dainin, then Danin. The Student Union announcements spelled it Dianis.
Someone in admissions sent me a message congratulation my on finalist slot, and started off with "Hello Sophie."
Sophie. Sophie? That's not my name!
Sunday, October 3, 2010
I managed to get out in time to run home, trade frosting covered tights for jeans under my dress, and catch just the last song of The Postelles set at Brandeis. I was absolutely convinced that I'd seen them before, but I can't find them anywhere in this blog and I think maybe I'm getting them confused with someone else. I could have sworn I saw them at the Middle East and didn't like them, but I did like the one song I caught last night. I wish I could have gotten there sooner.
Ok Go was why I was there. They played an expanded version of the set they played a few weeks ago at the Life is Good Festival, and some parts were better and some parts were worse. The hand bell choir was worse, because this time the crowd was drunk and loud and the sound didn't work well in the gym. I think the general crowd knew only two songs.
Actually, other than that, I think everything else was better.
The kid they pulled up to play on stage to play guitar with them knew what he was doing. They played an encore complete with furry guitars and light up jackets. "This Too Shall Pass" sounded amazing inside. They played more songs and they were wearing brightly colored suits and they were having fun. I love fun sets.
And the confetti. I've seen confetti used at the ends of concerts before, maybe for two songs, but they had confetti at the beginning, during the middle, and at the end. I wish we'd been closer so that I would have been within the confetti storm. I love confetti.
It was a fun set. That's all I wanted last night, and I got it.
Saturday, October 2, 2010
It's been a slow music news week, But:
- New My Chemical Romance. This almost got its own post, and would have, if there were not already two MCR posts on the front page. It's so good. I love the direction this new album is taking and I love the energy and I love the line "Shut up and let me see your jazz hands." I love so many things about this. Throw on a pair of headphones and tell me this doesn't make you want to move.
-I bought tickets this morning for both nights of Weezer in Boston. Blue/Pinkerton in full. I've wanted to hear "Only in Dreams" live for about seven years now. I could not be more excited.
-New Weezer album has been essentially on repeat for the past week. I love parts of it, but then forget them when not listening. Then I love them again. I think my review is going to be positive, but it's still going to take more listens. I can't decide if this is because I'm still on the fence or I just want to listen more.
-I've also been listening to a lot of Say Anything lately, especially "Hate Everyone" and "Do Better." I don't care what the old fans say, I think last November's self titled release is their best album.
-Rumor has it Harper's Ferry in Allston, MA is closing. I've never actually made it to a show there, though I did try desperately to get to the secret Fall Out Boy show two years ago. That's the night that made me absolutely despise parking and driving in Allston. I then outright refused to go to a show there because I hate driving there so much. That's how bad Allston is. But it's still sad to see a local venue close, and that little paranoid part of my brain is still afraid some record company somewhere is going to realize they can severely cut costs if they just prerecord concerts and play them on screens in stadiums and theaters. I mean if you're sitting way in the back you're essentially just watching it on a screen anyway, and the moment some executive who's never been in a crowd of screaming, jumping, moving, loving fans realizes that a part of my world is going to collapse. *shudder*
Monday, September 27, 2010
I've talked before on this blog about what I want to do with my life, my goal of changing the way the world looks at science. I posted the following paragraph here back in January:
"Hi, World. You and I need to have a chat. I mean, I know that I've told you that I want to be a thousand different things. I guess that can be confusing. I've settled, I think, on having my own show on the Discovery Channel, a research science based hour that takes the wicked awesome science happening all over the world and translates it into a medium that everyone can understand, no PhD required. It even has the added goal of making the point that science isn't just done by balding old men in lab coats, and that science is cool. Science is awesome. I will show the world that science can be done by girls with purple hair in skinny jeans and band tees, and I will pave the way for thousands of girls after me who will realize that they can both be their own awesome selves AND be science nerds, that the two things aren't mutually exclusive. I'm going to change the way this country views science. I'm going to usher in a new generation that wants to grow up to be scientists AND rockstars."
Over the summer, I stumbled across the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry's Month at the Museum Program. I fell in love. It was everything I wanted to do distilled down into a one month period, a chance to have fun and show the world how amazing science was all at the same time. I submitted an application, made a wish at 11:11, and hoped for the best.
You're here for the music blog, not a story of my life, and so I'll refrain from giving you the details of the phone interview and my trip to Chicago (so much fun!). However music is tied to everything I do and when I couldn't tell the world about the amazing things I was doing (the museum wanted to keep everything under wraps) I had to let out the awesome vibes I was feeling somehow. Cryptic lyrics popped up on my facebook and twitter, most from songs like "The Future Freaks Me Out" and "The Phrase the Pays," songs that were about busting out and taking chances. I linked to videos that make me want to go out and change the world, and listened to a short ton of Chicago bands.
"The Middle" by Jimmy Eat World came on the radio as soon as I hopped in the car today and it was one of the songs I'd listened to this past month, along with things like "Cobrastyle" and "Sleeping with Giants" and "Kiss my Sass." They're songs that make me want to go out and conquer the world. And I think, with a little help from you, I can do that. I can change the way the world looks at science, change what being a scientist means.
You can vote for me here: http://www.msichicago.org/matm/finalists/alex-dainis/
I'd appreciate it greatly and I promise I won't ever lose that drive and desire. The experience thus far, the amazing things I've already gotten to do, and the huge outpouring of love and support everyone has shown me today have already made this experience worthwhile.
I'm not sure I've ever fully introduced myself on this blog, as some amount of internet anonymity is always valued, but I've now thrown myself out there for everyone to see. So, hi. My name is Alex Dainis, and I want to teach you science.
Friday, September 24, 2010
Monday, September 20, 2010
Friday, September 17, 2010
This is the latest a concert post has ever been. This week has been crazy.
We arrived at the festival and made a beeline for the kids tent. That's right, we were going to see They Might Be Giants. A kids band. An awesome kids band. There were small children everywhere and it made me happy that there were little children being introduced to the amazing world of concerts. They sang "The Sun" (my favorite) and "Istanbul not Constantinople" (my concert buddy's favorite). I was also really intrigued by the sign language interpreter they had at the side of the stage. I can understand a little sign language, so I was trying to pull out the words while listening to the song, but she was also trying to sign the music and the beats as well. It was really cool.
We then ventured to get food. The festival was full of hippies. Seriously, it was this huge dust filled field full of people who were very happy and very natural, which meant they needed vegan/vegetarian options. So for festival food, it was amazing. I got some samosas from The Samosaman and they were great. Best concert food ever. We wandered around the booths for a while, then settled down on the ground to hang. I blew a lot of bubbles (bubble soap makes festivals better, always) and made some small children very happy.
We saw OK Go next. They played "Get Over It" and that made it worth it for me, really. They also sang one song a capella... and with a bell choir. It was amazing. The lead singer got out into the crowd and played a song on an acoustic, and he pulled a very embarrassed Brazilian girl up on stage to dance because she had been waving a Brazil flag. Also, a large crowd singing "This Too Shall Pass" is kind of awesome.
We trooped over to the main stage to settle in for the night. And by settle in I mean stand for four hours and claim a dusty patch of ground as our own. Guster was up next, and they were even better than they were last month. Good feeling music and a hippie crowd work well together.
Then we stood and stood and waited for Jason Mraz. He was also rather awesome. I'd never seen him live and I only knew the singles, but he's an amazing performer. He was engaging and funny and his voice is just gorgeous. He had a big band too, complete with a brass section. He danced and he pulled fans on stage to dance and he was an all around great entertainer. Also, the crowd worshiped him and I always love huge choruses of vocals when artists ask for them. We left the show covered in dirt, sun, rain, and bubble soap, but with gigantic smiles on our faces.
My thoughts, in order:
-The music! The music is so awesome!
-...Didn't they say last summer that this wasn't going to be a concept album? Oh Gerard Way, you don't know how to write an album without some huge concept. I am so excited for the direction this is going in. There are colors, guys. My Chemical Romance has discovered color. And this looks fun. And loud. I love fun and loud. MCR's love of comic books has finally been realized in an album.
So who's going to be the new drummer? When is soon? When is the tour and when can I listen to the full thing. Tease, it's all a tease.
*EDIT* This used to feature the typography video "Art is the Weapon" for the same song, but they seem to have replaced it with the official music video. This is unfortunate, as I liked the first one a lot.
Monday, September 13, 2010
Still not a bad thing to stumble upon on a gray and dreary morning. You've got to love the music.
Saturday, September 11, 2010
However I wound up in a conversation with some guy who worked at Newbury Comics the other day. He noted that he was excited about the new Weezer album. I replied that I wasn't and answered his shocked face with the fact that I didn't really enjoy their last album.
"Yeah, me neither, but they're saying it'll be more in line with Pinkerton..."
I then mentioned the rumored Blue/Pinkerton tour and he agreed that it was an amazing idea. It is.
But this new album? I just don't know. This doesn't sound very much like Pinkerton to me.
Now, I don't want another Pinkerton. We already have one of those and musicians making the same music over and over is boring. But I think they're just pushing music out too fast. Just take a moment to step back and reflect and edit, Weezer. This song isn't bad, but it's not a killer either. And if this album is anything like the last, there will be maybe three good songs and a lot of weird filler.
Dear Weezer, please prove me wrong. Love, a huge fan.
Friday, September 3, 2010
I don't know what it means.
Something is happening. Check it out here. What do you think?
Thursday, September 2, 2010
I got my preorder of Jukebox the Ghost's new album, Everything Under the Sun, in the mail yesterday. I've listened to nothing else since.
Part of it is that these are songs I have been in love with for over a year and haven't been able to listen to outside of a live show. It is so very, very frustrating to love a song but not be able to buy it anywhere. Unreleased music is just... unreleased. So of the 12 tracks on the album, I had been anxiously, conciously awaiting four of them. But it turns out I know more of them, turns out I've heard almost all of them. The only thing that makes "new" music better is when you've heard that new music before, and you already have an emotion attached to it. I'm going to go track by track, because I love it so much, but it's still so Jukebox all over. Tommy Seigel is still writing songs about the apocalypse and Ben Thornewill is still writing songs about love and somehow the two form this amazing cohesive unit (and recent interviews attribute this to Jesse Kristin's influence and editing).
Schizophrenia is, well, schizophrenic. They performed it live on David Letterman last night, and I think hearing it is the only way to appreciate its beautiful oscillation.
Half Crazy gets stuck in my head all the time and I love that I now have a recorded version of it. This is a song written by Seigel, and though it's not about the apocalypse and though it's written like an upbeat dance song, it's about disintegrating in your room and going crazy. And I love it.
Empire is another one I've been listening to in my head for a while. Classic piano driven Jukebox song about love. "I've got my knives and my heart up my sleeves."
Summer Sun is one that I didn't think I'd recognize, but I did. I can't accurately describe how the song fits together in two parts, the classic Jukebox sounding part and the more mature Jukebox second half. The first uses onomatopoeia of a beating heart while the second is a more searching, reaching, almost rock vibe. Almost.
I heard Mistletoe at the second live show of theirs I saw, back in 2008. It was on their myspace for a while and then disappeared, and it was missed. It's bouncy but about a serial heartbreaker. And it's very, very pretty.
The Sun is another one I didn't expect to recognize. Seigel is back to the apocalypse and questioning God, both constant themes for him. The lyrics are dark and almost angry, but the music is so upbeat and beautiful that you want to dance to lines like "big bags of blood, or by inference big bags of water, stitched tightly at the seams like packaging are hurtling through busy city streets" and "what if it's all just a black abyss." One of the best things about JTG is their ability to back dark lines with joyous music and connect the two seamlessly.
So Let Us Create is my least favorite song on the album. I think it's because Thornewill's voice sounds distorted in the chorus, like it's been run through a vocoder. There's something unsettling about it. It's wrong.
Carrying hit me out of nowhere. This is one I've heard live but didn't remember until I was a few lines in. It's again super peppy music, but cowritten by Thornewill and Seigel, meaning it's half a love song and half a depressing question of God. And one of the lines in the song is a slight rearrangement of a self realization I had almost seven months ago, a line I dug up in my journal because it unnerved me so much that someone else had put it into poetic words. I love when music makes me feel, and I love it more when it can put into words or sounds something I've been feeling already but couldn't properly voice.
Here we hit an interlude, a reprise of The Sun, before we launch into The Stars, this album's "Where are all the Scientists Now?." This is Seigel's giant apocalypse plot, a narrative about a giant wave overtaking a city and questioning our part in the end, and what one would do in the face of imminent destruction. It's good, and it reminds me why I love his voice and his writing style. I feel like their "singles," as much as a indie band can have singles, have all been Thornewill's songs, and I wonder if maybe that's a little unfair. Don't get me wrong, Thornewill's writing and piano just about tear my heart out, but Seigel's music is this whole other side of the band that deserves just as much of a spotlight.
The Popular Thing. It is utterly impossible for me to listen to this song without some sort of ridiculous dancing involved. The lyrics are scathing, really, condemning people moving out west and getting tattoos and having sex just because everybody else is doing it, but the music is so god damned peppy that you've just gotta dance. It's their poppiest sounding song, but that is beyond appropriate. It's all hand claps and bright piano keys and condemnation. I'm in love.
Nobody sounds more like Thornewill's solo music than a general Jukebox song. I think I've effused over his solo stuff enough here before, so I'll refrain. But I've been falling asleep to music lately, picking a CD and lying upside down on my bed until I start to fade in and out of dreams. This was obviously last night's album choice, and this is the perfect song to end an album, the perfect song to end a day, the perfect song to fall asleep to.
Everything Under the Sun gets five ghosts out of five. It's happy and gorgeous and perfect. That's all you need.
Monday, August 30, 2010
Sunday, August 29, 2010
Freshman orientation ends this weekend and there was a free concert on campus to celebrate. I weighed my options of "hanging out with scared freshmen" and "free music." A friend wanted to go and so free music won.
However I've made the comment before that I feel like I live a double life. There's one me that goes out to shows and stays out late and lives and breathes by music. Then there's the other me that is a complete workaholic and studies hard and is a gigantic science nerd. Neither one is a "fake" me, and neither one is a "real" me. They're both just me in different situations, but it means that I am uncomfortable merging the two into one person. So a show at school... is not really my cup of tea.
Despite the large amounts of awkward from being confused at which me I was and at being in a crowd of people I knew from school but don't really know, the show was good.
Dear Havanah played first. They were sort of a clean version of Sublime. Their guitarist was great, and their drummer was awesome, but that's unfair to the bassist and vocalist who were also very good. Not my style, but I understand why I see them on local lineups all the time.
Bad Rabbits played second and they had an amazing amount of energy. They were fun and tight. I loved "Stick Up Kids." I see why they're on lineups all the time too. The charisma and the music were both great. There were a few points where I forgot where I was and could have been at the Middle East, and it was a good solid set. They played a few covers scattered throughout but they bled so nicely into their set that I can't even remember what they were.
I'd give the show an A, and the crowd a C. Orientation leaders are programmed to be obnoxiously energetic, and my college is just full of awkward kids. It made for a weird night.
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Bring it, world. I'm going to kick your ass, and you're going to like it.
This is one of my absolute favorite songs. It's in the top three. I discovered it years ago in this fabulous commercial for Tab. Not only did I love the sentiment of the commercial (that being a hardcore woman takes a lot of energy, a notion I fully support), but I also fell in love with the song. It made it onto every party mix in high school and I forced everyone I knew to listen to it. There was, at one point, a choreographed dance.
This song always makes me happy, and makes me want to conquer whatever life throws at me. I just wish that I could understand what in the world he was saying...
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
I think these boys would provide the kind of show I'm looking for.
They're called The Venetia Fair and they're from MA. I found out about them because they started following me on twitter, and they're not bad. They look like they'd put on a killer live show. However they have no shows scheduled.
Also on my "Want to See Live" list is My Chemical Romance. They need to get their acts together and put out their new album. So should Panic! at the Disco. And local bands should play some shows.
Give me live music.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Tonight, I was stranded. There was a song that I knew I liked about a year ago, maybe more, but I could not remember who it was by or what it even sounded like. I just recalled that it existed. I had very limited information to go on:
-It was by that band...
-Their album cover might have had a crown on it...
-The song was about love...
-I heard it on their myspace.
That describes 99% of the songs out there. None of this was helpful information. Trying to come up with any clue, I thought "Well, the band was kind of like A Cursive Memory." So I started at their myspace and low and behold, who was in their top friends: Brighten.
That was them, and this was the song. Funny how sometimes stuff actually works. I'm putting it here this time, so that I don't ever lose it again. I like it quite a bit.
Sunday, August 22, 2010
So Kiss 108 in Boston plays these commercials that show they have "variety." They go something like this: "We play everything from dance (Lady Gaga) to pop (Usher) and everything in between (Ke$ha)."
Dear Kiss 108,
That's not variety. Those are three top 40 artists, and the beats all sound the same. I don't mind that you're a top 40 station - you're on my presets for those times when I just want to tune out and not listen. Stop billing yourself as variety and sell yourself for what you're good at. You play pop music, just admit it.
Anyways, this means my life has been invaded by some pop lately, except in Western Massachusetts, where 107.9 becomes what sounds like a prerecorded Spanish station...
I kind of can't stand most of it, but I'm in love with that song by Mike Posner, "Cooler Than Me." It's my new pop music groove and I love, love, love it.
"You've got designer shades just to hide your face and you wear them around like you're cooler than me." Love it.
And Ke$ha's new song "Take it Off" has been on the radio. Don't care for it much, but look at the video! She brushed her hair! She looks kind of hot and there's glitter everywhere. Better than that, they have a holi powder fight. Holi is one of my favorite parts of the spring, and I just love that it's in a music video, even for Ke$ha.
Sunday, August 15, 2010
We can start with the fact that Taylor Momsen is 16! Only 16 and she is parading around in lingerie looking like a raccoon. A band member at Warped Tour, after seeing that Pretty Reckless was on my list of things to see ("I want to see if it's as much of a train wreck as everyone says it is") told me that every time he saw Miss Momsen, she was drunk and smoking, being held up either by body guards or the side of her bus. I want to hand her over to another Taylor, Miss Swift, for a day and hope that some sort good influence happens.
Also, Courtney Love already exists! You can't be Courtney Love, not even if you change your name to Taylor Love and marry a grunge rock star. The men in your band seem to be twice your age! Where are your parents? You're wearing lucite stripper heels with built in tip jars! Why is no one stopping you?
But I love this.
I love the sound breakdown for the bridge. I kind of love the lyrics and the rock. I love that she's a badass. It's so wrong, and I hate so many things about it, but I also love it.
What am I going to do with you, Miss Momsen? I feel like an intervention is in order, and I'm going to have to stock up on makeup remover and actual pants.
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
The Academy Is… at The Pearl Street Nightclub in Northampton, MA – August 10, 2010
I’d forget everything in my life without my planner. Sure the back cover fell off months ago, but I have my life scheduled down to the minute in that thing. Which is why when I opened it Monday morning to look at the week ahead, I noticed the show I’d completely forgotten about scheduled for Tuesday night.
Northampton is in the middle of nowhere Massachusetts, about 2 hours away, so I snuck out of work early (justified by my 50 hours last week) and stayed straight on the Mass Pike for 77 miles. I met up with a girl I’d met at a Cobra Starship show almost a year ago, we made some new line friends, and we ended up standing about two feet from the stage.
The show felt like a VFW hall show. The upstairs room is a cavernous space with a horrible soundboard, and the small crowd was full of local kids. Combine that with the fact that the three openers were local rock and I would have sworn I was watching a high school show.
The first band up, The Smokey Wambas, practically bled Massachusetts rock. Not Boston rock, not Jersey rock, but Massachusetts local rock. I can’t describe the sound, but two songs in and I’d bet money those boys either shared a stage with Four Year Strong or spent a ton of time going to their shows. There’s just a sound and a feel intrinsic to suburban Mass. They weren’t bad, but they weren’t helped by the soundboard.
Us Against the Archers were my favorite of the openers. They were fun and they got me moving, and that’s what an opener is there for. Their guitarist was great and he reminded me of someone I know, though I just can’t put my finger on who.
Gone by Daylight was the last opener and they were also good, standard local rock. They had a bunch of fans in the crowd (as did the others) and they played a fast, hard set. Too bad they had tech problems, from a broken E string (oh that’s not important at all) to a broken bass strap (because you can play while supporting the guitar with your knee, right?) They handled it well, especially when the lead singer had to dash and find a new guitar, by jamming on stage. A+ boys.
Finally, The Academy Is… It was my fourth time seeing them and the sound was by far the worst, but I had the most fun. Give me dark clubs and music so loud that I can’t think and I’ll be happy. We were super close to the stage, but all the way to the right, so there was breathing and moving room around us. The sound was muddy and I couldn’t hear a word William Beckett sang for the first three songs, but both the crowd and the band were having fun. They played a good mix from the three full lengths and it was the first time I really appreciated anything off of Fast Times at Barrington High. I’m usually more of a Santi and Almost Here girl, but I was feeling it last night. Though they missed some good songs, they played “Checkmarks” and “The Phrase that Pays,” two of my absolute favorites. I was disappointed that they didn't play anything off of the Lost in Pacific time EP, as I'd hoped live versions would let me love those songs too.
The show ended on “Big Mess,” they walked off stage, and the crowd died. No calling for an encore, no clapping, no nothing. Strangest thing I’ve ever seen. My friend and I tried but everyone was just walking out. The lights came on and that was that. I haven’t seen an encore-less show without an explanation in a very, very long time, maybe ever. I bought a t-shirt, because it had cupcakes, and it’s the first piece of merch I’ve bought at a show since 2008. I seriously think I was transported back to a local high school show. Awesome, but out of place.
I love late night driving and so powered by caffeine and the buzz of the show in my head I drove the 77 straight miles back with a smile on my face, searching FM for voices talking on the radio.
Monday, August 9, 2010
When people ask what my favorite band is, I reply Weezer. Always. The Blue Album is my favorite album and it probably always will be. That album hit me around 14, the time when an album can truly change how you view the world, and it did.
But. Lately. Look, Weezer, I will always love you. Honest and forever. But the past few years.
I loved The Red Album when it came out, I did, but then it faded off my playlist a bit. Then Raditude came, and I loved the first five songs, I really did, but the rest of it didn't really stick with me. The cover was a picture of a dog jumping over a coffee table. I think there was too much weed involved in that decision.
Your next album is called Hurley, and has a picture of Jorge Garcia on it. I don't know what to say, Weezer. I don't get it.
The first single is good, though. You can listen to "Memories" here. And this is what it's all about, the music. I don't care what it looks like, as long as the music is good.
I'm just saying I don't get it, and that I think you may have become the poster band for why weed is bad for your brain.
Friday, August 6, 2010
Lollipop - Mika
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
The Gaslight Anthem at the House of Blues Boston – August 2, 2010
The first part of this story is here. I went to two shows on the same tour, to compare and to revel in music.
So here’s the thing about the openers the second time around. I was singing along with Tim Barry, and his songs have been stuck in my head ever since. I couldn’t tell you a thing Chamberlain sang.
This time, Tim Barry had a girl named Liz come out and play the violin with some of his songs and it added a great feeling and dimension to it. The crowd loved him. The girls next to me were going crazy over him, to the point where a woman behind me asked who he was. I was a little curious too, because even though I liked him, I couldn’t understand how so many people knew all the words to the songs by some dude with an acoustic. The drunk flailing girl informed us that he used to be in Avail. Oh. It makes so much more sense now.
Chamberlain was Chamberlain. Brian Fallon came out to sing with them at one point, a slow song with soul that sounded nothing like the rest of their music. When he came out he turned to the drummer and said “Hey Curtis, it’s a blues riff in B, watch me for the changes and try to keep up.” I love that the references and integration are a part of who he is, not just a gimmick for the albums.
And The Gaslight Anthem was amazing again. This was the show where “Great Expectations” began to mean something to me.
Brian talked a lot about Boston. I’d heard him comment on how we’re a tough city before, and he always give props to The Might Mighty Bosstones, but I thought maybe he did that to every city. He certainly didn’t to Providence, so his praise of Fenway Park and our tough, upstanding citizens made me smile even bigger.
I love them live. But here’s where my story of Gaslight picks back up. I’d seen the video for the “‘59 Sound” a few times on SURS way back when, but it took a while for it to stick. When it did, I bought the CD and listened to it. I didn’t love it at first, and put it aside, but kept coming back to it. By the time it had engrained itself into my bones I’d missed Brian Fallon’s acoustic show at the Middle East.
I’ve only found one other person who has heard of The Gaslight Anthem, outside of Steven Smith, music magazines, and people at shows. The same acquaintance from high school who recognized my “Paperface” quote on facebook had the line “You were gonna be my Judy Garland, We were gonna share your tin man heart” as his facebook status one day. He’s someone I took almost all of my classes with, but barely talked to, someone I think I could have been friends with had I been the same person then that I am now. I commented that I loved The Gaslight Anthem. He wrote back “Brian Fallon is a god.”
True. I keep coming back to the phrase “soul and story.” I’ve never heard so much of both in music before, such honesty and openness.
Do yourself a favor, and catch them live. It’s the best show of the moment and you will not regret it.
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
Maroon 5 at Mohegan Sun, Uncasville CT – August 1, 2010
I just got home from a 13 hour work day. Thank god that didn’t happen yesterday, because I had tickets to a Gaslight Anthem show, and I so would have ditched out early.
But on Sunday, I drove down to Uncasville (seriously, that’s the town name) to see Guster and Maroon 5. We were seated very, very far away, and relied on the big screens a lot, which was disappointing. The acoustics in the arena were also terrible, but more on that later.
First up was Ry Cuming, from Australia. Oh, he thought he was such a rock star. He wasn’t bad, but the denim ensemble and guitar face made me laugh a little. The arena was barely half full when he came on and the crowd was old and dead.
Next up was Guster. I didn’t realize how many Guster songs I knew. They’re very chill rock, and I loved “Barrel of a Gun” and “Satellite” which I didn’t know was their song! I love that the drums are big bongos and that there are no drumsticks. They broke down one of their songs to play the guitar solo of “Don’t Fear the Reaper” and not only was it extremely well done, but Maroon 5 came out playing cowbells during it. So funny.
Here’s the video for “Satellite.” It is amazingly well done, a great concept and execution. I love stop motion.
The people behind us were completely rude. I think middle age adults might be the meanest people out there. They were booing and moaning and groaning every time a new song would start, complaining that they had to wait through the openers. They were talking over the music and being generally disruptive and rude. Not cool.
Maroon 5 is not a show I ever thought I’d see, but it was good. I always buy Maroon 5 albums and then skip by them on shuffle, but I knew a lot of the songs. They were a big pop concert with smoke and lights and shiny sets, and Adam Levine rocked the crowd. It was a very different crowd than I’m used to, a lot of housewives in shiny tops dancing drunkenly.
They broke the set down to do an acoustic portion, which I loved. It included an Alicia Keys cover and a foray into Tina Turner. Levine joked about Turner being an attractive woman and that their relationship might be a good rumor to start. Or not.
During the acoustic set they played “She Will Be Loved.” Throughout the night everything had sounded damp and a bit off, the result of the speakers trying to fill such a huge room. The bad acoustics were extrememly evident here. Levine had the crowd sing different sections of the song with absolutely no instruments playing. This was thousands of people singing all at once, and you could barely hear it. It was astounding how quiet it was. This lack of amplification was also evident by how little noise thousands of people were making when cheering and clapping. Not a great venue.
Disco balls and pop hits aren’t really standards of my concert experiences, but I danced and sang and had a good time.
A side note about my musical relationship to Maroon 5: I did like them early in high school, right back when I was getting my feet wet in rock music. A burned copy of Songs About Jane has been in my car for the past five years, though I don't know if it's been played in two. But "Harder to Breathe" will always mean something to me, and not for the reasons you'd think.
The song was a hit in 2002, so I was 13 or 14 when the exchange happened. This was the time of AIM, when we'd all spend nights up on our computers chatting about everything and nothing. I spent some time one summer talking with a boy I'd barely known before he dropped off the face of the earth. When he returned we'd have crazy discussions about life, as philosophical as barely teenagers get. He disappeared again shortly after.
His AIM profile was filled with the chorus of "Harder to Breathe." Every single time I hear it, I think of one of the last conversations we had. We were talking about the hard stuff, what happens when other kids lives weren't as shiny and clean as they always seemed. He asked me one question, the question he called the most important question of all, and told me I had to answer it, even if not to him, so that I would have an answer for myself.
"What do you live for?"
To this day, I think it is the most important question of all. I came up with something untrue and quick that night, but it made me think about the true answer, and makes me think about it every time "Harder to Breathe" plays. I have an answer, and you should too.
Sometimes people come into our lives for just brief seconds and though we may not remember them, and they won't remember us, the impact they have can ripple for years.