Thursday, July 30, 2009

Green Day Concert Review

When a band has been around for nearly 20 years and has released more songs than an ipod shuffle can hold, it usually goes without saying that their set list won't contain songs from their earlier days. That was my thinking at least when I attended the Green Day show in Boston last week. I couldn't have been more wrong.

It was my sixth time seeing Green Day and I was expecting to see the same set list I had always seen. You know, the new stuff sprinkled with a hefty dose of American Idiot anthems, the classic Dookie and Warning songs and maybe even an Operation Ivy cover. 

I had been hearing through the grapevine that the set was over two hours long and the band were playing a ton of old stuff that many fans hadn't seen live in years. I was pleasantly surprised to see all the rumors hold true.

In a stunning turn of events, myself and my good friend were suddenly on the floor for this larger than life show. Billie Joe was not happy with the lack of people on the floor that night, and directed a few hundred kids to rush the stage.
After jumping the boards that were set up for hockey, my friend and I found ourselves just a few rows back from the stage. It was awe inspiring.

I had never been that close for a show of such monumental proportion. It wasn't just cool that we had a few rolls of toilet paper dumped on us from Mr. Armstrong's TP-shooting apparatus, or had a ton of blue and white confetti land on our heads, but rather that we could see this show from a new perspective.

It was so different to see the shower of sparks raining down from above you, rather than from a far, during one of Green Day's many pyrotechnic moments. It was amazing to have the band's back-up guitarist Jason White take notice of my friend's Influents shirt during a break in the set (White's earlier band). He even shot us the thumbs up.

We were able to witness 2,000 Light Years Away and Macy's Day Parade which probably half of the crowd actually knew (See video below. I'm somewhere to Armstrong's right).  In an era where a band such as Green Day have become some sort of cultural icon, it was humbling to see them play some old songs that were as punk-rock as the clubs they started playing in. And all within a packed arena

It was not the show I was not expecting to see. I was honestly pleased with the performance more so than any show I'd seen of theirs before. In a symbolic sense it was everything Green Day is, was and will become. 

All I can say is that I'm honored to have seen them in this lifetime. Green Day's music will be timeless, and I can say I saw them when. That's pretty sweet.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

They Cut Like A Buffalo

Jack White. You either love him or he makes you cringe. Whatever your feelings, be prepared to weather his next storm. Pun intended.

Welcome to The Dead Weather. Mr. White's newest project which has him both laying vocals and keeping the beat on drums. Yes, Jack is playing drums. Alongside your new favorite mysteriously eccentric percussionist are bassist Jack Lawrence (The Raconteurs), guitarist Dean Fertita (Queens Of The Stone Age) and vocalist Alison Mosshart (The Kills).

With an all-star line-up such as this you've got to expect some sort of greatness, and The Dead Weather deliver. Their album Horehound, released in mid July, is currently sitting sixth on the Billboard Top 200 chart. 

Their music is typical of a band hosting Jack White as a member. It's a whirled mix of southern infused rock and underground punk with a dark coating of classic rock. The Dead Weather produced something that seems a bit rough on the edges, but is overall a smooth record.

If you like what you hear and were hoping to catch the quartet live here in Boston, well I'm sorry, but you missed them. They were around a few weeks ago at the House Of Blues. Looks like we all get a big FAIL on that one. They'll be touring the rest of the US through October, so if you're taking a trip somewhere outside of New England be sure to check them out.

Take a look at their video for Treat Me Like Your Mother below. It involves guns and skinny jeans, consider yourself warned.


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Sleepless In Seattle

Hello from the West Coast. As most of you know I am out visiting the Seattle area this week, and I promised I'd keep you updated with stories from my travels... dealing with music anyway. So here you go.

Earlier this week I was lucky enough to spend the day in the beautiful city of Seattle perusing small book stores, skate shops and of course a few coffee houses. Now, I know what you're thinking. Did you see the original Starbucks? The answer is yes, but I didn't get coffee there.

Instead, I headed a few miles east of the coffee giant's first store to a smaller and lesser known shop. Bauhaus Books and Coffee. It's a moderately sized coffee house filled with fresh java, a massive wall of books and hipsters galore. Everyone there is either on a laptop, reading a book or hunting through piles of flyers for a local show to hit up that night.

As I walked through the open iron gate that sits in front of Bauhaus' doors I was greeted by a calm and quiet shop. Nothing like that Starbucks I had seen earlier
with a line out its door. It was nice to get in from the drizzle and grab a hot latte before heading upstairs to catch a glimpse of the Space Needle's east side.

It's a dimly lit sort of place. Although Bauhaus sits on the corner of East Pine Street and Melrose Avenue, it seems tucked away. It's a place for intellectuals, scensters and the curious traveler. Its dark brick walls are a perfect contrast to the swirling and colorful contemporary art that fills the space.

The coffee itself is great. Oversized mugs at cheap prices would have me going back if I lived out here. Fresh doughnuts and pastries run a plenty here for those looking for more than just a hot cup of coffee. Bauhaus is a must hit if you're in the Seattle area.

But by now I'm sure I've got you thinking, what does this have to do with music? Like... seriously.

Well I'll tell you. If you're familiar with the band Anberlin you might remember that they recorded their album entitled Cities out here in Seattle. And it was the Bauhaus coffee shop that they spent a good deal of time in while not in the studio. It's also the place where frontman Stephen Christian found inspiration for his novel The Orphaned Anything's.

The Orphaned Anything's is an almost memoir like account of Stephen Christian's life through the character of Ayden
Kosacov. And low and behold, Ayden's works at Bauhaus where he dissects every last inch of the place; making it seem more like a dead end rather than a place to stop and think.

Either way, the story is wrapped up in this coffee shop, much like Anberlin were while recording arguably their best album. So it was a no brainer that I had to hit this place while out on my brief stay.

Sure enough, there was something different about Bauhaus. Looking around I thought to myself that maybe the next great musician or writer was sipping their drink at one of the small wooden tables upstairs, and that maybe they were even closer than I imagined.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow

Has anyone else noticed that the cool thing to do now is leave the band you're in? I'm serious. It seems like the last few weeks have been nothing but bands losing members and/or breaking up. What's the deal?

Let's recap. Just this week The Matches decided to call it quits, and Panic At The Disco lost two of their members to a "side-project." And in the last month or so bands like A Day To Remember, My American Heart, Four Letter Lie and Vanna have also downsized.

Honestly, it's starting to get a little upsetting. I know I'm one to jump to conclusions so what the hell, why not? Could this be the end of our scene? Are we forever doomed to have the label "Alternative Music" mean Jeffree Star and other such transvestite rock? Please Lord, say it ain't so.

I guess it's just hard to swallow. When you read that a band like The Matches have decided to throw in the towel after eight eccentric years of rock, it can bring you down.

It seems that the music scene has become so saturated and diverse that it's starting to lose what made it great; hardworking, honest bands that make music for the sake of music. Instead we're left with "scene" kids mixing rap and rock beats in their mother's basement and making an instant career out of it. Sounds like an easy way out to me.

But on the other hand, there comes a time in everyone's life when they've got to move on and do something different. Musicians are the same way. They want families and houses, too. You can't live in a dressing room your whole life. A lesson Bruce Springstein should have learned a long time ago.

Sigh. I suppose we could do the easy thing and just blame this on Blink-182 getting back together. That kind of threw off the balance of the universe. I mean, it's going to take about 6,000 bands breaking up to equal the effect that Blink had when they broke up, right?

Or, maybe we can just be flat-out honest with ourselves and realize that the bands we like have members that are getting old. And yes, in turn that means we ourselves are getting old, so soon enough we're going to have to move out of our parent's house and pay rent on our own. 'Cause let's face it, being 30 and sneaking out of the house to see your girlfriend at the show is lame, and best left to high schoolers who actually have girlfriends.

So... white, non-smoking male, interested in alternative rock and growing up, looking for a roommate for a two bedroom apartment in the Boston area. Any takers?

Friday, July 3, 2009

Brothers From Other Mothers

Last weekend I had the opportunity to see Taking Back Sunday, Anberlin and Envy On The Coast two nights in a row. What really stood out to me wasn't the music, or the theatrics of the performance, but rather how I was able to talk to at least one person from each band outside of a simple meet-and-greet.

The thing that really differs our scene from anything else out there today is the sense of friendship and brotherhood that anyone can feel just by attending a show.

I started thinking about this last week after Jacko kicked the bucket. Watching all the footage made me realize how disconnected he was from his fans. He was untouchable. People would swarm to just catch a glimpse of him. To me that's just lame.

We get a lot of heat from outsiders saying our scene has nothing to offer anyone, but they couldn't be further from the truth. If it wasn't for Eddie and Fazzi from Taking Back Sunday I probably wouldn't have found the Casino Ballroom in Hampton. And what about Anberlin stopping to talk to me in Boston about their latest CD? And how could I forget everyone from Envy On The Coast letting me hang with them after the show? 

True, I am just a fan, but each one of these guys made me feel like I was on a equal level with them. No one had that "rock-star" vibe to them where I was just another face in the crowd. They listened when I talked, and thanked me for hanging out. It was like instant friendships were formed. Nothing can make you feel more accepted than a smile and a thank you.

In an interview I did with Envy's lead singer Ryan Hunter he addressed this sense of brotherhood within the scene by saying this:
"I really can't put into words how crazy it is to go on tour with a band that you really can sit down with every single member and just like bust balls and hang out. We've never ever vibed with a band (Taking Back Sunday) like we've vibed with them. I'm not just saying that because they're Taking Back Sunday. Their whole crew is even the coolest crew we've ever been on tour with, they're just amazing people and we love them all to death."

For an opening act to be this forthcoming about their friendship with everyone on the tour speaks wonders to me.
No egos here, just true friendships. Amazing.

Here's the interview I did with Ryan:

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