setlist: Foxhunting/ While We Go Dancing/ Dinner Party/ Rudie Fails/ They Done Wrong / We Done Wrong/ Company I Keep/ The Plot/ Right Where They Left/ Midnight and I/ Lionesse/ Percussion Gun// The Lady Vanishes/ The Salesman (Tramp Life)
somehow my favorite album of 2009 turned into my favorite show of 2010.
During the summer months of '02, I spent a lot of time planning an amazing trip... for myself. I was traveling to Washington, DC and staying there for a week, doing whatever I friggin' wanted to do. Lots of hours were logged in walking all over town, bouncing from museum to museum, trying awesome food, and doing stuff that really interested me. This included going to a Caps game (pre-Ovechkin era, mind you) and a couple of shows @ the Black Cat. I thought I never had a problem with going solo to shows or sporting events... and this trip would certainly test that. It turns out that the entire trip went swimmingly well and it really was one of my favorite trips ever. I partially owe that to Mr. Ted Leo and his band of Pharmacists.
I'm perpetually interested in the unknown when it comes to live music. There were times during college when my friends and I would pick out some random bands and just go to the show and see what happens. The same philosophy was applied when I traveled to DC. Knowing that I was going to attend some shows while I was in the District, I did some searching of local venues and see if any bands I knew of were available during the week of my stay. It turns out that I could've seen some great bands either the week before or after my vacation (seems like that always happens!), but I wasn't particularly aware of who was playing during my stay there. One band my college roommates joked about well before this trip was a band called Ted Leo and the Pharmacists. Being a chemistry major and pharmacology student (the latter in high school), the name certainly piqued my interest, but we spent a little time poking fun @ that band because of the goofiness of the name... talking about how they were probably wearing lab coats during their set and such. Lame stuff.
When researching these venues, the only notable band that popped up was Ted Leo and the Pharmacists. I decided to take the gamble, not listen to any of the music beforehand, and get a ticket. My rationale behind this was also fueled by the fact that at the time Dave Grohl was a possible owner of the Black Cat and that added more curiosity. So I was sold on this show and it was one of the things I was immensely excited about before I went on the trip.
I didn't know any of the material, I didn't know anyone else @ the gig, and I had zero expectations. With all of that said, I couldn't believe how much the show paid off. It was probably one of my favorite concerts ever, from top to bottom.
The opening band was French Toast and blew my mind away right from the get-go. I had no idea that two people could generate so much cohesive noise and make it so strong. They played a short set that featured most (if not all) of their debut EP, Bugman, which I still proudly play from time to time.
Up next was the almighty Ted Leo and by the time he and his bandmates took to the stage, the Black Cat was packed. This was probably because he is somewhat of a local boy and really soaks up his time whenever @ the Black Cat, so there's always a vibrant energy when he's in town. He even went as far stating it in an interview with P*fork, as mentioned here (from '07):
I would probably have to say that the Black Cat in D.C. remains my favorite place, whether it's just because it's such a comfort zone for me, I'm not sure, but it really is just always a great stage to play on, and it's always a really welcoming place to play. And I also think it's a great place to see shows. To get specific, the sight lines around the room are amazing, and the sound system is good. (link)
I'm sure that some of the buzz factor was also related to the fact that this was a type of warm-up show for the band. A new record from the band was due in Feb '03 and this was a perfect showcase for most of that material. It's a shame that there aren't any setlists from either '02 or '03 floating around because I would love to have an idea of what I heard that nite, but I'm fairly certain that the set was heavy on tunes from the upcoming Hearts of Oak and a few faves from Tyranny of Distance.
What was clearly a memorable event during the show was during one of the new tracks. Apparently the band was used to being a four-piece (a evidenced on the cover of Hearts of Oak), but decided to beef up its sound a bit more by adding a second guitar player. With this new addition, it caused a few shake-ups during some songs, which added to the novelty factor of the show. However, during one new track, a string broke on one of the new guy's guitars. After a quick guitar change, it seemed as if all was back on track... then another string breaks on the new guitar. Lots of jokes were made and the crowd certainly didn't frown on the band because of the terrible mishaps. It was clear that the guitarist was fairly new to the band and to say that he was embarrassed would be an understatement. I'm not exactly sure what happened to that plan of sonic attack, but apparently the band wasn't feeling the five-piece setup and went back to a four-piece in '03 and is now currently a trio. I'd love to find it somewhere, but there's an interview that I think P*fork did around the time that Hearts of Oak (almost typed OKRA there instead... scary) was released and that gig was directly mentioned and Leo even acknowledged that the plans with the new guitar player didn't work out as well as he hoped and was rather humorous about it.
It just goes to show you that getting to shows early or taking a chance on something new and unfamiliar pays off in dividends. It's because of that show (and the killer tunes on it, as well) that Hearts of Oak is one of my favorite albums ever.
setlist: Hysteria/ New Born/ Butterflies & Hurricanes/ Thoughts of a Dying Atheist/ Citizen Erased (abandoned)
there are some things that you'll never let go... and this show is certainly one of them.
the stars were aligned on the evening of April 9th. UK rock sensations Muse were finally getting their chance in the American market after reaching massive successes overseas for years. Absolution was getting serious play on alternative radio and where-ever you went that spring, you could not escape the anthemic "Time Is Running Out". small shows (compared to the arenas they typically played in Europe) were booked, some in areas the band never explored previously.
you see, Muse had it all overseas. they had chart-topping albums, sold-out arena tours, fame, etc. in the early '00s, they started developing a cult following in the United States because of their inability to cross the ocean. most (including myself) thought they were a harder Radiohead, with Matthew Bellamy playing the role/voice of Thom Yorke almost naturally. some (including myself) knocked them for that and never gave them they chance they rightfully deserved. albums Showbiz and Origin of Symmetry have some ridiculously powerful tracks on them that I sadly cast aside due to my own stubborness.
so when a friend of mine (who introduced me to Muse when Showbiz was released) persisted with this new album of their's, I think my wall finally broke down. strong instrumentation, elaborate songwriting, power and fury along with some delicate simplicity - all of these contributed to why I finally started embracing Muse after all of these years. as a result, I dug into the records that I was missing and was getting it. take that musical epiphany, combined with a national tour of small venues for this high-octane band with a rabid following that finally got their moment to witness greatness - it was all set. a new obsession was about to take place and I was oh-so-willing to let it happen.
and then this happens:
all you really need in that video is the first 75 seconds or so to get the point. Muse were absolutely on fire that evening. they had it all in their court and they were running like mad. it was really unbelievable what we were taking in. those first four songs were probably the best four songs I ever saw live... perhaps. but to think that this show started off SO STRONG and SO INTENSE and ended so abruptly was disappointing beyond belief.
and there went my high point with Muse. after Matthew Bellamy busted his face to "Citizen Erased", I saw them later that month @ my first Coachella Festival trip and got into it as much as one could while dealing with 100+ degree California desert heat. and it was a festival set, so there was a sizable distance between myself and the band, something that was non-existent earlier in the month. my girlfriend and I attempted to see Muse months later when they returned to ATL and played the "bigger venue", the Tabernacle (the Cotton Club is more like the Tabernacle's basement). we decided to take in the show up in one of the balconies there and fandom just evaporated before our very eyes. we didn't understand the matching uniforms the band members had, thought some of the lights were cheesy, and we basically wrote off the entire experience.
it sure seems that that April evening didn't deter the band in North America as they are going stronger than ever and possibly headlining the next version of the Coachella Music and Arts Festival and releasing a couple of new albums in the years past to much fever and fervor. while I don't hold what happened that evening against Muse, it just happened @ a terrible time that could've changed a lot of feelings I had about the band.
indeed, Thrashers, make 'em say UGH.
possible setlist: No, Not Now/ Island of the Honest Man/ Change Change Change/ Get In or Get Out/ Dirty Mouth/ Talk to Me, Dance With Me/ Middle of Nowhere/ Le Le Low/ You Owe Me and IOU/ Jingle Jangle/ Oh, Goddamnit/ Naked In the City Again/ Elevator/ This Town/ Goodnight Goodnight/ Save Us S.O.S./ Bandages
my second time seeing Hot Hot Heat probably put the nail in the coffin w/ them. I saw them tour for their first record, Make Up the Breakdown, and was left a little unsatisfied. I was hoping to get a little more w/ a new live set and a new record. things didn't pan out that way, exactly. this show was more-or-less memorable b/c I spent the majority of it watching the crowd from the side of the venue @ the bar due to my girlfriend @ the time (now wife!). she recently had foot surgery and was accompanied w/ crutches and couldn't get into the crowd as much as we both would've preferred.
regardless of where we were for the show, I don't feel it would've mattered. we realized that maybe we were past the Robert Smith-esque whinings of Steven Bays and the teens there were in strong representation @ this all ages show. maybe we were a bit out of place in our liking of this band as it seemed we were missing something. HHH's first record was fun and possibly a novelty in a career that could've moved more towards darker, more full music. instead it appears that they chose to ride the wave of that first record and retread the same water that got them big enough to play venues like The Loft. I haven't followed the band since and I'm not even sure what they are up to these days... if they are still around, satiating the teens of the world.
setlist: Shiver/ Animals/ Don't Panic/ Spies/ Murder/ Everything's Not Lost/ We Never Change/ God Put a Smile Upon Your Face/ Yellow/ A Rush of Blood to the Head/ See You Soon// Trouble/// In My Place//// Georgia On My Mind [Carmichael/Gorrell]
before Coldplay played arenas, did iTunes commercials (YouTube it!), and wore schticky matching uniforms on stage for shows, a simpler band existed - a British four-piece that didn't need to spice up the stage show w/ cheesiness or other things that made their live sets excessive. the Coldplay that I know (and still appreciate) was back when Capitol Records heavily promoted them as "THE NEXT RADIOHEAD". before Chris Martin started dating (and subsequently marrying) Gwyneth Paltrow (and naming children after fruit), he was rather bashful. you see, Coldplay was actually a modest band once!
so, back in 2001, the band was attempting to rise to the fore-front of the entertainment industry. hits like "Yellow" and "Trouble" where EVERYWHERE. in order to really get their faces and tunes out to the masses, Capitol (or whoever was responsible for their mgmt) booked some of their first North American shows as festival appearances. in December 2000, their first two shows were in California for holiday-themed festivals for KROQ and KCRW. when they returned to the states nearly six months later in the spring of 2001, Coldplay played a headlining show in Chicago that was immediately followed by two festival shows in Boston and Washington, DC. oh, I also forgot to mention that Coldplay was a part of the traveling festival Big Day Out in Australia and New Zealand throughout January 2001, prior to coming stateside.
Coldplay were exhausted. they weren't sure they were prepared for this kind of lifestyle. for two years, they slowly built up a following in the UK and most of Europe. I think, at the time, they got much more than they bargained for when they were getting promotions in the United States. their world was blowing up too fast and they were @ the breaking point. also, w/ these festival bookings, Coldplay weren't always playing to their target audience. they were often thrown in the mix w/ harder and more aggressive bands, which often led to much heckling or audience straying.
all of a sudden, we arrive to May 30, 2001. before the jokes of, "You know how I know you're gay...," Coldplay already had a reputation of being too soft, too quiet, etc. I was even told by a friend @ the time that, "I can't believe you'd pay $25 to see a one-hit band." they had a lot going against them. no one was sure where Coldplay would end up after 2001. and I think that was taking a toll on the band, as well.
while I cannot remember the show vividly, I can remember that it seemed like it started off like any other recent headlining show they did. something that I alluded to earlier was mentioned and that was the recent festival appearances and how they were thrown on stage w/ bands like Metallica and how they weren't sure where their place was in the grand scheme of things. what shocked me the most was how energetic Will Champion was when he just killed his drum set to tracks like "Yellow" and "Shiver". Chris Martin was working out the kinks of his now-trademarked flailing about on stage, so this wasn't so noteworthy as of yet. what I also noticed was how absent Johnny Buckland and especially Guy Berryman were during the set. Johnny appeared to be mailing in solos and atmospheric guitar noodlings while Guy was just not present. you could tell that some in this band had more to offer while others weren't certain of their place.
obv they liked what us Georgians were giving back to the band b/c Chris was certainly feeding off it that. many new songs were peppered into the set, so there may have been a few times during the show that the crowd was a bit lost, but any off-course diversions were quickly corrected when "Yellow" was played... or "Trouble".
this show, @ the time, was freq cited by the band as "the one that got Coldplay back together". that statement would be strange, if it weren't for Chris Martin's impromptu solo cover of "Georgia on My Mind" as the last of three encores. I do recall this as being very special, w/ Chris on piano, the Parachutes globe perched atop the keys, and some members of the band standing backstage just watching. w/ such a big statement as, "Atlanta saved us as a band," it would normally be a stretch to believe, but that comment always resurfaced, whether it be in interviews in between their first and second records or their subsequent returns to Atlanta (that involved guest appearances from Sir Elton John and Michael Stipe, for example). you really got the feel that late spring gig changed things for the band, like it or not.
so here's something I've thought abt doing for some time now. whenever the mood strikes, I'll randomly pick out a ticket or whatever from this massive batch and go to town w/ it and write abt my experiences w/ that event. this project has the potential to be incredibly self-serving... but that's alright b/c this is my blog!
but seriously, if you have add'l things to add abt seeing a particular band live, a similar experience w/ another band, or something interesting from the same event (!), please feel free and contribute.
tomm nite, it's gonna be you and I, SDRE - you and I. all I really ask is for a four song set:
8/ Every Shining Time You Arrive/ In Circles// Flatland Spider
if I don't get any of those, I'm sure that all four members on stage in ATL would suffice!
and here's the lineup I drafted the other nite... IT IS MASSIVE!
ideally, I would've loved to have my two faves on the same team (Getslaf and Savard), but to have one in each league, I'm certainly not complaining. in the random league I just joined, I'm heavy w/ Thrashers and we'll see how that pans out... and that goalie situation, as well. and in all honesty, I'm thrilled w/ how the auto-draft worked out for the friendly league. I guess it pays to make a rankings list w/ about 60 players, exclude the obvious (i.e. Hossa, Gaborik [even these two worked marvels for me a few seasons back], Heatley, etc.) b/c I have a team that I'm completely satisfied w/.
I just love fantasy hockey! LESS THAN A WEEK FROM THE SEASON OMG OMG OMG!!!
Thrashers Training Camp 23:23
this AM I ventured to Duluth, the site of the Thrashers training facility to witness some fine fine fine hockey. it's this time of year that really gets me going, like every other hockey fan. right now, the sky is the limit - your team can do no wrong and they can probably win the Stanley Cup. but, you know, haters wanna hate and lovers wanna love. lots of critics (or uninformed, for that matter) are dogging the Thrashers b/c of their off-season moves, lack of hockey interest in the South, Ilya Kovalchuk leaving the ATL by season's end - just retarded rumormongering. and maybe some of those people are right, maybe some of those aspects are correct. but you know what? I DON'T CARE. this is my team and this is my sport. whether the Thrashers are a playoff team or not, it doesn't matter to me b/c I will love this team to the end (or when they relocate to some remote part of Saskatchewan, so quoth the critics north of the border). that's why I travel over an hour to see my team practice - it's invigorating, full of hope and promise, and it's the best sport in the world.
do I really think the Thrashers have what it takes to play in the early summer months of 2010? absolutely! do I feel that Ilya Kovalchuk will remain w/ the Thrashers following this season? why the hell not?! like I said - every Sept holds so much hope for the future, regardless of what may lie ahead. the Thrashers could be bottom-dwellers (they won't), but I'll continue to come back to the team that I love.
enough meandering abt my subjectivity here, let's get to the heart of the matter - today.
the Thrashers are an enigmatic bunch right now, let's face it. they made strides in the off-season to significantly add more talent to the roster. enter Nik Antropov and Pavel Kubina. let's keep in mind previous off-season additions - Ken Klee, Niko Kapanen, Glen Metropolit, Jason Williams, Mike Dunham (I shudder to even think of the name)... I could go on. personally, I'll take the two players we brought in for this season over any of the others any day of the week. but b/c of past conditioning, us Thrashers fans are skeptical of the adds b/c none of the other, uh, "experiments" worked out to our advantage. only time will tell how Antropov and Kubina will work out, but you have to think that they will contribute much more than the others I mentioned.
and then there's the Kovalchuk issue, which will plague the team until he resigns... or doesn't. based on my viewing this AM, he was all smiles on the ice, having fun and spending time w/ Russians (Kozlov, Antropov, Afinogenov). Kovy does not appear to be a man w/ one foot out the door, and all local commentary on the issue doesn't even hint in that direction. the same could not be said about the Marian Hossa issue from a few seasons back, where it seemed as if negotiations are nowhere (they were) and Hossa was mailing in his gameday performances (he was) until he was relocated elsewhere. however, there is no extension on Kovalchuk's contract as of this moment. as a result, the questions and doubts remain and they will until something happens.
after watching practice (and a scrimmage) today, I was thrilled @ the prospect of what this season could become. there's hope on the horizon. this off-season for the Thrashers was the most pro-active I've seen and it still continues to head in that direction, w/ the tryout invites extended to Maxim Afinogenov, Manny Legace, and Dan Fritsche. Max adds speed and experience to the lineup and Legace brings much-needed stability to the goalie position, something the Thrashers lacked b/c of Kari Lehtonen's previous bouts w/ injuries (actually, that's not so previous as Kari is currently working out a back injury) and Johan Hedberg's spontaneity that's been a win-lose situation ever since he's been w/ the team.
seeing players like Kovalchuk smile endlessly, like Slava Kozlov constantly giving Legacy a hard time (that often resulted in much laughter in both players), like 18 year-old Evander Kane try and try and try to push his limits higher and higher in hopes of cracking the squad next month, like Toby Enstrom and Zach Bogosian stepping up into roles that maybe they aren't accustomed to just yet (but they are more than willing to play the part) - it just makes me endlessly happy to know that this Sept is as hopeful as it is for the Atlanta Thrashers and I cannot wait to see what's next for the team as they will battle it out all season long for what really matters - playoff hockey in Atlanta.
dang it, my glass of Kool Aid is all out! :D
heavy rotations 20:32
I stumbled upon this one a couple of months back when I heard "Coast of Carolina" on XMU. thinking it was a semi-decent indie-pop-rocker, I basked in the glory of what the internets has to offer and did a downloading sample of the self-titled album (i.e. downloaded that mother like it was nothin'). what I found out was that it was a nice, poppy record w/ awesome tracks like "Foreign Room" and "Tokyo". there's nothing ridiculously dynamic about Telekinesis!, but it sure is a fun-as-hell record in the summer time.
after my initial exposure w/ Old World Underground... and appreciation for Live It Out, I was finally thoroughly waiting for a new Metric album, hoping that they would deliver the goods. I didn't know whether I should expect some masterpiece due to tension (Emily Haines drifted away for a while w/ her good solo stuff and apparently the band had trouble during the song-writing for this album) or some dancey good-times. seems that I got a nice mix of both w/ Fantasies. I love love love "Satellite Mind" and shake my tuches to "Gold Guns Girls". there are certainly some great parts of the album, and I really enjoy hearing what I imagine to be Metric playing these songs, back-to-back-to-back in a room, just having the time of their lives.
it's hard to say what I prefer more - the beginning tracks of Lost Souls or Kingdom of Rust. I always thought the first few tracks of their debut swept me off my feet and pulled me out into the ocean to just drift away. but I really am taking a liking to the four or five tracks of their latest effort, w/ the jaw-dropping "10:03" taking the cake. there's something abt this band that is so perfect and you know that they will always get just the right mix of soft and structured songs to complement the pounders. and, seriously now, does "Jetstream" NOT sound like a Depeche Mode Exciter-era b-side or something?!
I'll never claim to be a fan of the hype machine. as a matter of fact, as a pseudo-hipster, I think it's mandatory to flick off the hype machine. and while I'm finding more and more to appreciate about Veckatimest, it doesn't mean that I'm succumbing to the almighty hype machine. I cannot find any flaws w/ "Two Weeks"... and I really think it could be song of the year quality. believe me, it's hard to come to terms w/ something that I've detested so much and now I'm close to head-over-heels w/ this record. it's hard to get enough of this album, and it's very relieving to say that... esp w/ something that's been so... neglected... by me previously.