Feet on the Ground With My Head in the Clouds

We have been in Kenya for a little less than 24 hours, and I already want to move here. Friendly, beautiful, serene (see, Lori?! WE COULD TOTALLY LIVE HERE! IT’S SERENE!!) … there’s nothing to dislike.
We went shopping for picnic stuff. Their prices here on most food items are insane. And I mean that in a *really* good way. Loaf of freshly baked bread? $1.00. Bottle of Coke? 50 cents. Stuff here just doesn’t cost much.
Tonight, we are going to a concert for a guy named Lemarti. Check him out on Youtube. He’s a seriously big deal here in Kenya. The reason we’re going is because he invited us. So … of course there’s a story. 🙂
One of our partners over here is a guy named David Senchura. He is a Maasai warrior from a tiny area southwest of Narok. He built a house. He had a house warming party. Lamarti put on a concert for the party. He met Heidi Totten. And that, as they say, was that.
Lamarti owns a construction company. He’s going to help us build the cultural center that we’re trying to get funded. He wants to work with 100 Humanitarians as closely as he can. This is basically another miracle that keeps those of us in 100 Humanitarians in constant shock.
I can’t even tell you how excited I am to be a  part of this. It’s an honor and a privilege that still baffles me as to how I managed to become attached to such a great organization.
I’ll have more to say later. Right now, I really need a nap … 🙂

A Family that Rushes Together Stays Together (Time Stand Still)

In 1987, this one idiot named Rick on my school bus mentioned that he was excited for a new album by some band who would be using electronic drums for the first time. I wasn’t the least bit interested.

 

I was also a young, dumb idiot.

 

That band was Rush, and they were on the cusp of releasing “Hold Your Fire,” their quintessential 80s offering. A perfect blend of guitar, bass, drums, and synth, this album was ironically destined to become one of my top 5 albums of all time.

 

I didn’t really join the Rush scene until 1989, with the release of “Presto.” I forgot to send the “Selection of the Month” card back to Columbia, so I ended up with the cassette tape. Gave it a once-through, and set it aside until college, where I met James. James had *everything* Rush had done at that point, plus some bootleg concert tapes. He let me borrow them, and I was *hooked*. After my first year, I came home and hit the local exchange store and bought everything I could find.

 

Tonight, my family will join me at the Maverik Center in Salt Lake City, where we will witness what could possibly be the last large-scale tour Rush ever performs. My 5th show, my wife’s and older daughter’s 2nd shows, and my younger daughter’s first ever show. I have been waiting for this for longer than I can remember, and tonight, it actually happens. We will inculcate my daughters into the fine ritual of carbing and proteining up before the show (read: dinner beforehand). We will show them how to properly rock out to some of the world’s greatest musicians. Afterward, we will take them out to eat again to re-carb and re-protein (yes, those are now verbs). Or at least get some water.

 

I’m excited. My kids are excited (at least I think they are). My wife is … well, she’s trying (right, honey?). God bless her and her patience with my rabid fan-dom. This is going to be one of those moments that I’m going to want to freeze and remember forever. My kids aren’t getting any younger. They’re getting older, coming into their own with likes, music, and shows. Goodness gracious, they’ve actually discovered *boys* (though that was years ago …).

Concert Review: They Might Be Giants at The Depot in SLC

I will be the first to tell you that I *hated* They Might be Giants for many, many years. Yea–decades. I blame my idiot college roommate my freshman year Flood had just come out, and he played it incessantly. He had one other CD–NIN’s Pretty Hate Machine. That got precisely 3 spins the entire year. Needless to say, I got sick of TMBG right fast.

Not to mention I came from the background of *guitar rock*, not accordion rock. In fact, my musical background forbade the concept of such. It was a completely oxymoronic term. No good band could possibly incorporate such a niche instrument and pull it off. So pretty much the entire CD was full of crap, in my book.

Then there was the lyrical content. “I returned a bag of groceries accidentally taken off the shelf before the expiration date …” I mean … come on. Really? It made no sense to me. At all. I couldn’t wrap my head around this band, so the only logical thing to do was to dismiss them. Right?

Right …?

Class, the answer is “WRONG.” No, I should not have. I always considered myself a broad appreciator of music. I thought my tastes were diverse and well-ranged. I like Tool and Yanni. The pendulum doesn’t swing much more widely than that.

Over the years, I’ve had my TMBG hate-wall nicked a few times. Such as the year I noticed that “Malcolm in the Middle”‘s theme song sounded oddly familiar. After a quick Google search, I learned that, indeed, it was The Johns that brought to pass that quirky little ditty. Then after my two girls got to the age where they could sit through “The Mickey Mouse Club House,” again there was an air of familiarity with the music and vocals. Not only did I find out that TMBG had been busily occupied providing the theme song and additional music to that show, but I also learned that they had a whole series of kids’ music. “Okay … how bad can these two be? Musically, I might not appreciate everything they do, but I can at least give props to the magnanimity behind the music.

Last Wednesday, I had to do some work at a remote location with some other people from my office. Not driving, I used the opportunity to catch up on email, Facebook, and see what concerts were on the horizon. To my surprise, TMBG were scheduled to play at The Depot (one of my favorite venues in SLC). I quickly ordered 2 tickets, then texted my wife and told her we were going to go on a “surprise date.” She loves those. Generally, they consist of every idea we have devolving into a couple hours of geocaching. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but when plans go awry, it’s nice to have a better back-up plan than an old stand-by.

Somehow, she found out about the show and called me to tell me what she thought the mystery date was. I was slightly disappointed, but at the same time I was relieved cuz I *hate* trying to keep things secret. I suck at it, for one thing. For another, the mounting pressure to keep my yapper zipped is exponentially harder the closer we get to “game time.”

We dropped our kids off at our friends’ house, and we drove to SLC. We got to the area, parked, and grabbed a quick bite to eat at Panda Express. The walk from Panda to The Depot is short; they’re in the same complex, so it made it nice and easy. That’s another reason I love that venue so much; the food options are astounding. One of these days, I *have* to take her to Ze Tejas. She’d love that. But I digress.

As I’ve mentioned in other posts, The Depot is patterned after the House of Blues. There’s a nice bar with assorted snacks and adult drinks, which sits a few steps above the main floor. On the perimeter of the floor are bar tables and stools that sit well above the floor level. There’s a balcony that surrounds the perimeter as well. There isn’t a bad spot in the house from any vantage point. Well, unless you’re sitting on the steps that lead to the balcony, in which case yah–you’ll have a pretty obstructed view. Other than that though, no–not a bad seat anywhere.

The sound at The Depot is unparalleled. It has just the right acoustics to pick up every little nuance of sound. High hats sound like high hats; the bass is clear and distinct. This isn’t like the Energy Solutions Arena (or, for the locals, “The venue formerly known as ‘The Delta Center'”). This sound is pristine.

Jonathan Coulton opened the show. His set was short, but it packed a great, light punch … if there is such a thing. He was gracious and funny. It was just him and his guitar, since his band was occupied elsewhere. I dunno … I like acoustic sets. His was just phenomenal. My favorite was “Je Suis Rick Springfield.” It’s sung mostly in French, with the exception of a few key words that keep it pretty obvious where the tune is intended to go. If you do know French, it’s pretty funny.

TMBG opened with “Celebration.” Well, okay … I’m jumping the gun a bit. They opened with John Flansburgh introducing the band, who currently consists of Dan Miller on guitar, Danny Weinkauf on bass,, and Marty Beller on drums. THEN they jumped into “Celebration,” after which they played “Why Does the Sun Shine?” Ironic to the entire first 9/10ths of this post, that’s always been one of my favorites of theirs. I even threw my wife for a loop when I switched out the first two words of the song for, “Your mom.” If you’re familiar with the song and if you’re drinking or eating anything, you may want to take some time to wipe off your monitor and/or keyboard now.

Or maybe you’ve already done so. I do not know.

Anyway, the set was pretty great. 2+ hours long, I recorded the whole thing and posted a few vids to YouTube. “We Live in a Dump,” “Dead,” even the Avatars made a guest appearance.

Here’s a vid from the show. It’s my wife’s favorite. Or close to it, anyway.

I had a similar experience with U2, where I was kind of luke warm to the band, but afterwards, I was just so blown away that I was instantly converted. I would say that this is more than true here because of the level of disdain and for the length of time I spent just not liking them at all. For all their intelligence, wit and whimsy, it’s almost impossible *not* to like them.

Concert Review: Death Cab for Cutie with Frightened Rabbit

I know, I know … I’m late. I’m just glad to be writing again. Blugh to the last few weeks, I say. BLUGH!

Having said that, yah. Those guys know how to put on an incredible show. I had heard that they outperform themselves from CD to stage, but man … I wasn’t expecting that. Just to keep the element of surprise as high as possible, I refused to check out any of their concert vids on YouTube. I’m glad I did. I’m also glad I made my own.

Frightened Rabbit is one of the best opening bands I’ve seen in a long, long time. They were almost as good as Death Cab. Not being as familiar with them as I would like, I can’t tell you all the songs they performed, but I know this: every one that they played was amazing. Scott Hutchinson was, in a word, intense. At one point, Gordon Hutchinson–drummer and brother to Scott, screwed up. It was pretty funny. I have vids to post of their set as well, just haven’t done it yet. Anyway, their set was awesome and too short. I’ll figure out the names and post them tonight, probably.

As for Death Cab, well … let’s just say that we’ll see them again. And again. And again … and again. If they play here, we’re going. It was that good. Being way stage right was not at all a let-down, although it made it difficult to get the whole band in the frame at any given time unless Chris wandered over toward the middle, which he did quite a bit, so that was nice. They opened with one of my favorite jams of all time, “I Will Possess Your Heart.” The radio edit does absolutely nothing to justify the CD or live performance. Nick’s simple but rythmic bass line is trance-inducing. Mix that with the piano, guitars and drums, and the result is the perfect mood-setter for what would be an atmospheric evening.

Ben’s voice is as pure in concert as it is on studio recordings. Chris’s is the same. These guys were spot on the whole night. What floors me is just how humble they are. After “Heart,” Ben addressed the crowd, introducing them as “Death Cab for Cutie from Seattle Washington.” Like we didn’t know, right? But how unassuming is that?! “Hi, we’re Death Cab … we’re pretty damn big ya know, but hey–maybe there are some people out there who haven’t heard of us. So, yah–we’re from the Seattle area. Thanks for coming to the show!” That just blew my mind. I mean, you don’t see many bands of their stature saying stuff like that. It’s just … cool. I love a good, humble, grateful band. Especially one that puts as much effort into their music as they do. And they put A LOT into everything. I thought I’d find myself just watching Chris and Ben all night. Ha. I found myself watching Nick and Jason just as much. How could I *not*?! It was a trip down mesmerizing lane, and the road was twisty, bendy, and hilly. LOVED it.

The set list was one of the most diverse I’ve ever seen. They played songs from every CD, including some EPs. Here’s the entire list.

  • I will Possess Your Heart
  • Crooked Teeth
  • Why You’d Want To Live Here
  • Photobooth
  • Doors Unlocked and Open
  • Long Division
  • Grapevine Fires
  • Codes and Keys
  • Summer Skin
  • I Will Follow You into the Dark
  • 405
  • You Are a Tourist
  • A Movie Script Ending
  • Underneath the Sycamore
  • Soul Meets Body
  • Title and Registration
  • Cath
  • We Looked Like Giants
  • Sound of Settling
  • Title Track
  • Pictures in an Exhibition
  • Stay Young Go Dancing
  • Transatlanticism

One of my favorite songs is “We Looked Like Giants.” Here it is:

See what I mean?! They’re amazing live!! I mean, their studio material is amazing too, but their live performances … WOW.

If they come to your part of the world, catch ’em. You will NOT be disappointed.

Concert Review: Samantha Crain in Salt Lake City

I don’t even know where to begin with this one. Should it be the fact that she went out of her way to grant an interview? That during the interview, she was so down to earth that I couldn’t help but feel like we had known each other for years instead of mere minutes? How about the fact that this tiny little spitfire put on a show that kept people coming on to the floor immediately in front of the stage?

Where to start …

I guess I’ll just go in chronological order. At this point, it seems to make the most sense.

First off, I should mention that this is going to be a two-parter post: The concert review, and the discussion/interview we had. Again … damn. They really don’t come any more laid back than she.

So concert review. Here it is, from the top.

The venue was The Urban Lounge. I hadn’t been to a show there, so I did some poking around. Not a lot of favorable reviews, sadly. Even my friend in Colorado who had been to a show couldn’t think of a good thing to say. “It’s hot, AC sucks, sound system sucks … not my favorite place for a concert.” For all the reviews I read and all the dialog about the place I had had, I can’t help but say this: y’all are wrong. Okay … not about the AC. It was really warm in there. However, the intimacy of the venue trumps pretty much everything. The stage is tiny. The dance floor is tiny. Actually, the whole venue is tiny. It’s only designed to hold about 300 people, and there were possibly 200 people there last night. Very, very intimate place for a show. And I *loved* it. Our “seats” were bar stools on the fringe of the dance floor. I could have thrown a feather and hit the stage (if that feather were tied to a tiny pebble, or maybe a wad of semi-compacted paper).That’s how close the seats were.

My intent was to take pics and video the whole show. Both were accomplished, but not in the manner I had anticipated. I was hoping that I could just prop up my phone and record the show. That was tossed out within the first 2 minutes of the first song as everyone rushed the stage and staked their claim to band proximity. Hey … who am I to complain? Newbie to the venue, rules already well-established … who am I to demand a straight shot at the stage? No … I adapted and made the best of my newly acquired understanding of how the vibe works there. I held my phone aloft for all 10 songs (11, if you want to count the Britney Spears tribute for Will), and it looks great. Even better than I had planned. Lots of crowd interaction, lots of needing to maneuver to get a better angle because of the crowd … all of whom were awesomely enthusiastic to be there for Samantha, Penny and Anne.

Samantha opened her set with “Lions,” off her newest CD You (Understood). The first thing I noticed, and I love this about an artist, is that she sounds even better live than she does on her CDs. This takes NOTHING away from her studio performances, but man … the girl can rock out. And rock out she did. She danced and stomped around the stage with her guitar, threw her head back and let the moment sink in, never missing a note or a beat. Her feet were constantly moving. Her music and moves were of one mind. And her smile! What a genuinely awesome smile she has. Her music and love for it is so sincere that she cannot keep from smiling while she’s playing. It’s a beautiful thing to watch. The passion she displays for her art and for making sure the fans get everything out of her show that she can offer are the only things she’s worried about while on stage.

She’s also aligned herself with Penny Hill (bassist) and Anne Lillis (drummer). They equally throw themselves into the moment. Anne set my “wow” factor for drummers to an all-time high. Just … WOW. One quick note from the interview: Penny and Anne were on another couch while I chatted with Samantha. Very unassuming, quiet, and low-key. Yah … that was all left in the green room once the show started. Anne took her sticks, and with fluidity like I’ve never seen, she began pounding away in anthemic rhythm. She was Niagara Falls, flowing relentlessly and careening over the edge in one million gallons of pure drumming, crashing down upon her drumset with unbridled passion. Penny, the bassist, matched Anne pace for pace in her energy, constantly bouncing around the stage and enjoying every minute, her fingers flying up and down the frets as she sweetly and crooningly sang harmony and back-up. MOST excellent.

Their energy and playing was infectious, which the crowd obviously picked up on this vibe cuz the floor kept filling up with each passing minute, all longing to be part of that energy. And let’s face it … who wouldn’t want to be part of that energy?

On the next song, “Songs in the Night,” Samantha traded in the mini-guitar solo opening for a kazoo solo.  I don’t know if the guys next to us were digging or making fun of it, but we loved it. Practically no one uses a kazoo anymore, but it fit so perfectly with the intro that going back and listening to the studio track almost seems … incomplete? This is the magic of Samantha Crain–“Surprise! Here’s a kazoo intro. Didn’t see that coming, did ya?!” Love it!

Here’s the entire set list from the show:

  • Lions
  • Songs in the Night
  • Equinox
  • Holdin’ that Move
  • New Song (not sure what it was called … something about convertibles)
  • Scissor Tales
  • Get the Fever Out
  • Religious Winds
  • Two-Sidedness
  • Toxic (Britney Spears cover, tribute to Will)
  • Up on the Table

Here are some pics from the show.

 

Videos of the show can be found on my YouTube channel.

For supposedly being an “opening act” for Langhorne Slim, she got the crowd on their feet and kept them there until well after the last note. After the show, I made it a point to get her attention before we left so that I could once again thank her for her time earlier in the evening for the interview and for such a spectacular show. What ended the night on such a personal high note was the huge, glowing smile that greeted me. I’m telling you … the girl has class. She knows how to make people happy, which is simply by being her good-natured self. I’ll get more into it when I write about the interview/conversation, but for now, just know that she is as geniunely friendly and kind a person as you can imagine, and my life is better for having met her.

Samantha Crain, thank you. 🙂

Concert Review: U2 360 Salt Lake City Show

Eleanor is dead.

The sword that slayed the elusive concert demon was the set of tickets that my wife and I held in hand as we descended through the bowels of Rice Eccles stadium to attend the concert event of the millennium. Last night, we finally got to go to a U2 concert.

No no … let me amend that. We got to experience a U2 concert. You do not just “go.” It is an experience that, in my opinion, needs to be had by every music fan.

To be perfectly fair, I recognize that I am extremely late to the U2 concert scene. Indeed, it may be said that I’m late to the U2 music scene in general, though I’ve been a semi-fan since The Joshua Tree. I’ve wanted to see them for about 14 years … it just hadn’t worked out.

Until last night. And oh what a night it was.

To understand the surrealistic nature of the night, you have to know that it had been raining non-stop in Utah for 11 days straight, yesterday included. I woke up at 6 to a raging thunderstorm and ridiculous driving condition (exacerbated by the ever-present idiot drivers who insist that their SUVs and trucks are impervious to hydroplaning). As the day wore on, I was convinced that this show would be performed under a torrential downpour. We bought ponchos just to play it safe. However, by lunch time, the rain stopped, the clouds broke, and all of the sudden, there was a tiny patch of blue sky. That tiny patch gave pretty much all of northern Utah a glimmer of hope, which was all we needed.

By the time we got to the stadium, all that remained of the wretched weather from the previous week and a half were some puddles and a few wispy clouds that stubbornly refused to dissipate. When Larry Mullen Jr. took his seat behind his drum kit, the sky directly over the stadium was empty, and a few stars had begun to twinkle.

The PERFECT evening.

We took position about 120 feet from center stage. Not a bad place to be, but not as close as I would have liked. I knew there was supposed to be some inner ring, but I assumed that was in the middle of the stage, but from our vantage point, there was no telling. We stood in awe of the stage set-up that looked like a giant, mechanical 4-legged spider that spanned the entire width of the stadium floor. This thing had to be at least 150 feet tall. There were more lights than I’ve ever seen, and the stacks were larger than life itself—four sets of about 60-70 speakers, all of which sat atop “the claw,” as it’s been dubbed. Just below the stacks was a extendable 360-degree cylindrical screen that could extend all the way down to about 5 feet from the stage (bout for the most part was retracted to about 90 feet above the stage. A disco ball sat kind of counter-sunk in  a needle of lights that dropped down from the center of the setup to about 15 feet from the stage floor. I’m telling you … you’ve never seen anything like this. And THAT was just the main stage.

From the main spanned two bridges that rolled around on wheel tracks and was connected to a secondary stage about 30-40 feet out. This is where the “inner ring” came into play. Those in that ring were a mere few feet from the band at any given time. Those on the outside of the ring were treated to all the band members taking turns walking over the bridges to the secondary stage. Even Larry came out playing the bongos as he and Adam played together, then ran back to his drum set.

(Note to self and ANY avid concert goer with an iPhone: PICK UP A BATTERY CASE! I only got about half the songs because my battery life sucks and I knew I had to conserve, but even still, I died out right at the end of “One.” Can’t have that happening again. Lesson learned!)

My wife and I ended up in the inner ring area by determination and asking one simple question. The ring was being guarded by security, who had no idea what the inner ring was all about. I showed them my stub and asked if the “Fanclub” sub-text beneath “GA” meant anything. He said he had no idea. “So … hmm. Can I go in then?”

“Sure. Have fun.”

Shock. Exhilaration. Euphoria. This is how all first U2 concerts should be, right? 10 feet from the stage, the band literally walking over us, dropping white roses onto the anointed … and no rain.

Like I said, the perfect evening.

The Fray opened first, playing a solid set of some radio hits whose names I don’t know but indeed recognized as songs my wife and daughters like to sing. Very friendly band.

After they closed their set, the road crew came out and dismantled their stage and got ready for U2. Some guy with a camera and a pretty decent-sized lens came out and took pictures of literally everybody. Not sure why, but I would love to find out. He panned the whole crowd, taking incremental shots and making sure he got every square inch of the stadium. It must have taken him at least half an hour and hundreds of pics. Kind of makes me wonder if they aren’t making a “360” panorama of every show. That would be extremely cool. Wouldn’t surprise me either.

U2 opened with “Even Better than the Real Thing.” Before they came out, to amp the crowd, they played the beginning of “Space Oddity.” The girls in front of us were almost spot-on with the “10 ….. 9….. 8 ….. 7…..” countdown. Just after they hit “1,” Larry walked out and started pounding on his drums with anthemic determination. As The Edge came walking out, he smiled at the crowd and started wailing away. Next came Adam, dressed in an all-white suit (and, truthfully, causing a lot of glare on my inferior camera phone), playing his bass. Last of all—the screams most deafening in reserve for just this moment—out walked Bono, and … that was it. Crowd went insane. Jumping, screaming, dancing, waving, thrashing, and of course singing along. Well, as best we could, anyway. There is no vocalist like Bono. 20+ years, and he still sings “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” in its original key. I did noticed that “Pride (in the Name of Love) was dialed down about a step and a half, but oh well.

Energy. Palpable and tangible. Incalculable energy. 45000 fans, and we let them have it full in the face. The four of them put us to shame. They out-energied all of us put together. You’d have to see a live show of theirs to understand it. The amazing part of this is that these guys are only in their late 40s/early 50s. They’ll be around for at least another decade. And I’m willing to bet that they’ll have just as much energy.

The set list touched on 11 CDs worth of music. They even busted out “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me” from the Batman Returns soundtrack. THAT was an insane song because when they came out for the “second” encore (not sure I consider the first break an encore since they announced that they’d be back, but that’s just me), Bono was wearing this leather jacket with hundreds of red lasers embedded in the sleeves, sides and back, THEN a couple of stage crew guys blew smoke in front of him. The effect was insane, with laser beams shooting everywhere through the smoke. The mic used for that and “With or Without You” was a drop-down mic that Bono used as a swing. Unbelievable stage presence, that man. He knows he’s Bono, and he takes it step for step in stride. One of the few artists who actually gets that his size can be used for something beyond the music stage and does LOTS of things with it. Good for you, Mr. Bono. Good for you.

We sang Happy Birthday to Bob Dylan. 3 travelling sisters came up on stage and sat with Bono while they read a short poem he wrote about Utah. The whole band circled the crowd on the outer stage too many times to count. My wife got petals from one of the white roses that Bono dropped over us. I could not ask for a better show or evening.

And no rain. Not a drop. Nary a cloud in the sky above us.

Here’s the set list for the evening.

Main set:

  1. Even Better Than The Real Thing
  2. I Will Follow
  3. Get On Your Boots
  4. Magnificent
  5. Mysterious Ways
  6. Elevation
  7. Until The End Of The World
  8. All I Want Is You
  9. Love Rescue Me
  10. Happy Birthday
  11. Stay (Faraway, So Close!)
  12. Beautiful Day / Here Comes The Sun (snippet)
  13. Pride (In The Name Of Love)
  14. Miss Sarajevo
  15. Zooropa
  16. City Of Blinding Lights
  17. Vertigo / It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll (But I Like It) (snippet)
  18. I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight / Discothèque (snippet) / Mofo (snippet)
  19. Sunday Bloody Sunday
  20. Scarlet
  21. Walk On / You’ll Never Walk Alone (snippet)

First encore:

  1. One
  2. Blowin’ In The Wind (snippet) / The Times, They Are A-Changin’ (snippet) / Where The Streets Have No Name

Second encore:

  1. Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me
  2. With Or Without You
  3. Moment of Surrender

I’m posting videos to YouTube, but my connection is slow, so I don’t know how long it’s going to take. Just be aware that I get really into my concerts. That’s all I’m going to say about the videos.  Laugh and cringe all you want. I know I suck, but I’m working on it.

In the Name of Love

I can’t wait for tomorrow. The day is almost here where my wife and I finally get to slay our “Eleanor” of concerts, for the mighty U2 plays at Rice Eccles stadium on the U of U campus, and we have GA tix. Cannot wait.

This concert slaying has been years in the making. We actually had tickets in hand to see them in 2001, but oddly enough we actually didn’t know until they were mailed to us. The short version is that I hate Ticketmaster and think they’re an abysmal distribution method. At least, they were back then. Not sure how they are to deal with now since most shows here in Utah go through an independent ticket distributer. Anyway, the morning that tix went on sale, I eagerly sat in front of the computer, finger madly clicking refresh until the page would allow me to purchase tickets. After what seemed like an hour of clicking (it was really only just a matter of minutes), the page finally let me select my tickets. I submitted all my payment information and clicked “Submit,” only to be greeted by the “page time out” error pop-up after about a minute of the payment page hanging in limbo. This happened at least 4 or 5 times before I finally threw in the towel. On the last attempt, I saw the page hanging, and just decided to wait until the site traffic died down some, and if any were left over, great! If not, sucks to be us.

So imagine my surprise when I checked our bank balance a few days later and noticed that we were in the negative. After realizing that the payment simply wasn’t going to go through, I allocated the money for the tickets to other things, like actually getting ahead on some bills. I checked the next Tuesday or so to see if the payments had come out and to see what our remaining balance was in our checking account. Our balance was a couple of hundred in the red. “WHAT?!” Quickly scanning, I saw our payment for the bills … and a few line items down was a charge from Ticketmaster. “Oh you sons of …” I called them and asked how they had managed to complete a transaction that clearly had not gone through. “Well, sir …obviously it did go through because we charged your debit card.”

“Yes … but your website never once showed a successful charge.” And I went through the whole story of entering payment info > click submit > watch page hang > page time out error > rinse > repeat. The Ticketmaster kid didn’t care. All he cared about was that Ticketmaster got their money. “Look … all I want is a refund for these tickets. You guys can’t handle a high level of traffic on your site, and I suffered the consequences for it. I had no idea that payment had gone through because I closed the page mid-way through the hang. Just refund my money please.”

The process to refund my money, I was told, would take 6-8 weeks, which, of course, is nowhere near acceptable. “That’s ridiculous. All you have to do is credit my bank account. How hard can that be? What … do you hand-deliver all the 1s and 0s one at a time? Just reverse the payment.”

No. Of course it’s not that simple. I had to write Void on the tickets, photocopy the voided tickets, fax that to Ticketmaster, then destroy the tickets (how they wanted proof of that is beyond me …), THEN they would refund my money. And yes—it took the full 6 weeks. Since that time, I have done everything in my power to avoid using Ticketmaster. Not hard in Utah, since most concerts were going through SmithsTix.

However, we now have tickets to U2, and we want to use them! This is the concert that was postponed last summer due to Bono’s back surgery. We found out about 24 hours before the show that they weren’t going to be playing, so we patiently waited for an announcement on the re-schedule. I think it was actually last August or September when we found out. The date has been circled on our calendar for a LOOOONG time, and we’ve been amped to get to the show.

Enter Mother Nature.

May in Utah is typically really warm and breezy. Typical day time temperatures range from the high 60s to the low 80s—perfect concert weather. I had actually started formulating a day-of-concert schedule when I found out the new date, assuming that the weather would be more than perfect. Well, ha ha. In true Eleanor fashion, we have had nothing but rain for about 10 days straight. There have been sightings of blue sky for about 5 minutes at a time, but the rest has all been gray, cold, and rainy. Tomorrow is not supposed to be any better, with a high of about 55 and 50% chance of rain (translation: 110% at Rice Eccles because that’s just my luck).

As if I would let a little rain stop me from going to this show, as of Friday, I have now developed a lovely throat irritation that feels like someone has slit the inside of my throat and vocal cords, then forced me to drink freshly-squeezed lemon juice. Beautiful, isn’t it?!? What fortuitous timing! How perfect! Well, guess who’s still going. Guess who’s going to stand outside at noon because he has GA tix and WILL be on the rail for this show. Guess who’s buying a poncho tonight. GUESS WHO IS GOING TO FINALLY SEE U2 TOMORROW BECA– USE ABSOLUTELY NOTHING WILL STAND IN THE WAY.

Well, okay … that’s not true. If one of my family were to get sick or become seriously injured, obviously that would take priority. I’m not that determined that I would put U2 above loved ones, and the truth is, I think they would be highly offended if one of them found out. If I were a rock star and I found out that a fan of mine put me above family, I would ragingly censure him or her for having such whacked out ethics. There is nothing that should ever come before family. Period.

However, as it stands, everyone is healthy and well, so … it’s on with the show! I will be clearing off my iPhone and making sure it is fully charged for the show so I can use it to record video and take pictures. I still stand by it as an incredible concert-recording tool. And with the prospect of the new iPhone having 1080p capability with an 8MP camera, I will more than likely upgrade when it is released. For now though, my phone is more than ideal for concerts.

Can’t wait. I’m so maniacally pumped for tomorrow.

Great Shows Coming My Way

June 11 is going to be an awesome day. Took a bit longer than I wanted, but I finally bought ’em: I now have in my possession two tickets to the Samantha Crain show. She’s coming to the Urban Lounge with Langhorne Slim. I’m hoping she’ll be able to do an in-store show at Graywhale, but we’ll see. I’m sure she’ll have a busy schedule.

Just saw that Death Cab for Cutie plays the Maverick Center August 22nd. Ha ha. I almost got suckered into getting tix from this site at those ridiculous prices. Tix are $29-33 on Ticketmaster. Glad I double checked. Sale starts Saturday morning. I know what I’ll be doing at 10 am …

And as if this summer’s concerts couldn’t get any better, we already have tix to U2 on May 24th. They were supposed to play Rice Eccles last June, but Bono had some back issue, so they rescheduled. Can’t wait!

Wonder who else is coming …

White Stripes – Under Great White Northern Lights

So I guess DirecTV still has us on the 3 free months of Showtime and Starz. That’s swell. Time to scan the channels and see what’s coming on.

Oh, look. The White Stripes. They’re always fun. Let’s record that.

Also, let’s forget that we ever recorded it and skip ahead a few weeks.

Next, let’s decide to see if a new episode of Bones came on Thursday. No? Oh well … wonder what other mystery surprises the DVR holds.

Oh look–that White Stripes vid I forgot that I recorded. Wonder how that is.

Pure awesomeness?

Energetic?

Personal?

And we’re back to pure awesomeness.

So I guess the premise behind the video is that they had never played in Canada. They’ve been to tons of other countries, but they had never set foot in Canada. Odd, considering they grew up with Canada practically being their backyard. So at some point, Jack and Meg decided that they would tour all of Canada. Not just the major cities, either. We’re talking Inuit villages, Yukon territory, frozen solid towns … they played a LOT of shows. In every one of them, they had little pre-concert warm-up shows. My favorite was the the first thing shown on the video: One-Note Concert. A crowd of several hundred greet them as they exit their car, get out, and walk to the stage. Jack dons his guitar, Meg grasps her drumsticks with full intent, and they promptly launch into  … one note. Then they leave the stage. The crowd immediately starts chanting for more, which is absolutely hilarious.

What amazed me most about the video is just how personable Jack is with everyone. He and Meg played a warm-up gig at what looked like a convalescent home located just a bit south of the north pole. So at a lot of these pre-gig warm-up shows, they’d play a regular, White Stripe-style show, just scaled, way, way down and back. This particular show, however, featured Jack with an acoustic, Meg with a hand-held percussiony thing (can’t remember if it was a tambourine or some maracas), and they played this folksy little ditty. The tenants loved it so much that they decided to reciprocate with a song of their own. Very cool. They also played “The Wheels on the Bus Go ‘Round and ‘Round” while riding a bus all through the town. What?!  Yes–all through the town. And the fellow bus-riders were LOVING it … singing along, laughing … awesomeness.

How a two-person band can have that much energy and intensity is beyond me, but they bring it to each and every one of their shows. They live in the moment, for the moment.

So yah. If you have a chance to pick up this incredible documentary concert footage DVD, I would highly recommend it. It’s worthy of your time, your TV, and your disc player. Or if you have cable or satellite, see if it’s on and record it. If you’re a fan of raw and intense energy, pick this up.

Living in the Limelight: A Rush Concert Review

How?

I mean, seriously. These guys are close to 60. You know? What are they still doing on stage?

What they do best: playing insanely incredible music.

I’ve seen some amazing bands. Muse, Tool, Silversun Pickups … Rush tops them all.

They played 2 new tracks, entitled “BU2B” and “Caravan.” Both were unbelievable. Keep in mind that these guys have been around for over 36 years. And they STILL put out amazing music. Not just amazing–phenomenal. Superb. Think of a superlative adjective. It will work.

The opening of the second set is one of the main reasons I went to the show. Moving Pictures is considered their foremost recording to date. To be sure, it stands the test of time extremely well. Released in 1981, it contains some of their best work, like “Tom Sawyer,” “Limelight,” “YYZ” (one of the best instrumentals EVER), “Red Barchetta,” but then there are songs like “The Camera Eye” that are probably too long to garnish any radio time but far and away is one of the best songs they’ve ever written. “Witch Hunt” and “Vital Signs” are fantastic. There’s a reason this CD is considered a part of the rock and roll pantheon.

To hear the ENTIRE CD played live is an experience I’m sure that will never be repeated. For one, they have 19 CDs. To isolate one and continuously play it front to back at every show from here forward would, in my mind, diminish the roles of their other works. But for this tour–their “Time Machine” tour, they played every song on that CD, in the order they originally appeared.

And thanks to Steve Jobs and the Apple Family, I got it all in high def 720p. Thank you, iPhone! I will post vids when I can, but for now, know that they’re out there for the finding.

The pics aren’t the greatest, but under such low light, it’s not surprising. Some of them turned out really well though. Again, I’ll post those when I can.

They pulled out some gems for this tour, too. “Marathon” hasn’t been heard since about 1990, but “Presto” has *never* been played live … and we got to hear it!!! WHOO! “Faithless,” off of Snakes and Arrows, wasn’t played last tour, but they played it last night. One of the stand-out songs on that CD.

This is Neil’s drum solo. Shot in HD with my iPhone. I seriously love that thing. I can blog, take pics and vids and post all from the convenience of my phone.

Shot in HD with my iPhone. I seriously love that thing. I can blog, take pics and vids and post all from the convenience of my phone.

Here’s the entire set list, copied in portion from Cygnus X-1’s site:

Set One
Introduction Video – Rash: The Real History of Rush — Episode No. 2 “Don’t Be Rash” — Goofy take on The Spirit of Radio — Polka/Disco/Country Version with Alex in a fat suit, Neil as an Irish Cop and Geddy…oy, you have to see it I say…

  • The Spirit of Radio
  • Time Stand Still
  • Presto — (with vintage magic show footage playing)
  • Stick It Out — (with original Stick it Out video playing)
  • Workin’ Them Angels — (same video from Snakes & Arrows tour)
  • Leave That Thing Alone — (same video from Vapor Trails tour)
  • Faithless — (with dream landscape video playing)
  • BU2B — (with “old typewriter typing out the lyrics to the song” video playing)
  • Freewill
  • Marathon — (with extended guitar solo)
  • Subdivisions

Intermission

Introduction Video – Rash: The Real History of Rush — Episode No. 17 “And Rock And Roll Is My Name ” — Geddy on Drums, Neil on Guitars, Alex on Bass

Note: Most songs from Moving Pictures is preceeded by a short second Monty Python-esque video featuring the Parliament Building and/or the red-suited movers in one way or another.

  • Tom Sawyer
  • Red Barchetta — (Ferrarri 166MM pulls up with a race car number 2112 on the door)
  • YYZ
  • Limelight
  • The Camera Eye — (with NYC and London scenes video playing)
  • Witch Hunt
  • Vital Signs
  • Caravan — (Steampunk theme video featuring blimps flying over a burned out world playing)
  • Drum Solo (Love 4 Sale) — (Steampunk Robot Drummer video playing)
  • Alex Lifeson Solo leading into…
  • Closer to the Heart
  • 2112 Overture/Temples of Syrinx
  • Far Cry — (same video from Snakes & Arrows tour)

Encore

  • La Villa Strangiato — (Geddy & Alex Playing a Polka-inspired intro)
  • Working Man — (With Reggae-inspired intro)

So, you can see that the set list was spread out. Some CDs weren’t represented, but when you have 19 studio albums to select from, there are going to be some neglected works, obviously.

Here’s the thing with Rush. You never know what to expect. From the opening videos all the way to the band walking off the stage after the encore … you never know what to expect. Even after the show was over, it still wasn’t over. If you’ve never seen “I Love You Man,” the movie at the end would have made no sense. Thankfully, my brother pointed that out to me, so I watched it the night before the show. Thankfully! It was hilarious. Peter Klaven and Sydney Fife. That’s all I’m going to say. HA HA HA!!

To the band, even though I’m fairly confident you’ll never read this, thank you. You guys are world-class, and I’m glad you guys keep making incredible music. We are the fortunate ones who get to indulge in your offerings for decades to come. For this, we can never repay you other than offering our heart-felt and sincerest thanks.

Here are some pics I snapped last night. Keep in mind, iPhone camera from about 25 yards away in the dark. They’re not the worst, but they’re not the best.

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