Crafty Weekend, Coming Up

This weekend is going to rule. Our area of the world is getting slammed with the X-class Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) that our nearest star spat out. Solar flares are generally the cause of the borealis–both auroral and australial. In layman’s terms, the northern and southern lights. You know … those eerily green and red dancing lights that we all lament over when we see the amazing pics on Flickr or wherever? Yah. Tonight, I get to try to see one live for the first time.

 

That’s *after* I make over 100 tie dye bottles. That’s right–114, to be precise. “What?! *WHY*?!?” Cuz. I can. It’s all about choices, baby! 20 different hues of blue. 18 greens. blacks, greys, reds, yellows, oranges, browns … khaki, moss green, cerulean blue, baby pink, #2 pencil yellow (yes–that is an actual color on dharmatrading.com) … I’m going on a dyeing KICK. Halloween is right around the corner. Pumpkin and ghost tie dyes are gonna be a huge hit. 🙂

 

And to what will I be listening while doing all of this? Why U2’s new CD, of course! Songs of Innocence was a *huge* surprise announcement at the end of the Apple event on Tuesday. More than that, U2 ARE GIVING IT AWAY UNTIL OCTOBER 13. 500 million subscribers to iTunes, and all of us get it gratis. We pay nothing. We are the recipients of a gift.

 

Yet some people are squaking up a storm about how it’s “clogging up [their] phone.” Someone actually tweeted “Who the f*** put U2 on my phone?” Honestly? Who complains about free music? I don’t care if U2 isn’t your cup of tea; the fact that they’re literally giving away an entire CD speaks volumes about their character and generosity. And unless your name is Bob Lefsetz, you *should* be able to find something positive to say about that alone. But no … there are plenty of nay-sayers. Bob is one of the most vocal among them, but whatever. He’s bitter about something. Probably had to take a tablespoon of Goldenseal (don’t ask … just trust …). But I digress.

 

One of Bob’s points is that U2 are too old to be relevant anymore. “Yes, older people build the tools, but it’s young people who utilize them.” It’s stupidity like this that makes me want to bash my head against a wall. And … what experience do all these younglings have that gives them the right to tell U2–or any older band–that they’re no longer relevant? OHHHH … wait a sec. That’s just Bob’s opinion, right? Because ACTUAL musicians appreciate the groundwork that was laid for them. They stand in awe of their predecessors … especially when it’s abundantly apparent that it’s merited, as is the case with U2.

 

Whatever. One article by one grumpy gus does not  a career ruin. Well, at least not U2’s career. Bob’s may be dead in the water, with all his ability to assess talent and relevance.

 

And on a more positive note, I’m gonna get started on those dye bottles and make some wearable art. Pictures to come!

Announcing the Frissonic YouTube Channel!

Seriously, I have no idea why it took me so long to think of this, but it did, and I could smack myself for it. I still might. Anyway, I set up a channel on YouTube for the videos I shoot at concerts and other miscellaneous music-related stuff.

You can follow me here!

Right now, I have a bunch of U2 songs posted from the Salt Lake City show. I’ll be adding some Samantha Crain material in June. I’m *really* excited for that show!

Also, read some exciting news about the new iPhone coming down the pike, possibly in September. It very well may have a 10MP camera and do 1080p HD! I hope the CMOS sensor doesn’t suck. I’d rather have a 5 MP camera that does 1080 and the pictures look good than trying to cram a bunch of megapixels in a sensor that can’t hold them. Maybe I’m showing my ignorance as to how digital cameras work, but I don’t think I’m too far off here. Guess we’ll find out in September. 🙂

Anyway, hope you all enjoy the videos.

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 …

Best of Both Worlds

So, U2 had to cancel their tour due to Bono’s back surgery. Crushing shame for fans all over the world, right?

Tell that to the Glastonbury audience.

In their absence, Muse was asked to fill the slot. Now … I have no problem admitting that I am a HUGE Muse fan, and I bask in their musical glory on a daily basis, but those are awesomely MIGHTY large shoes to have to fill. U2 is legendary. Their shadow is cast on just about every country. Is there a corner of the world that hasnt’ heard of them? I highly doubt it. Muse, by way of comparison, are on the rise, and they are comprised of some of the best musicians out there, but …  they’re not Adam, Edge, Bono or Larry.

Yet.

So the good folks at Glastonbury recognized the talent in Muse, asked them to headline the show. An honor in and of itself. However, Muse “filling in” for U2 is like asking the now LA Lakers to “fill in” for the Chicago Bulls of the 90s. You can’t do it.

Yet.

Muse knows PR. They know the fans got shafted out of seeing the legends. They also know that they have a good, strong fan base in the UK. So … how do you assuage the audience that feels cheated?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9yX1avvACZM&feature=related

If that doesn’t give you goosebumps, you suck. Period. For one, it means you know next to nothing about either music history or current music, which begs the question: “Why am I even reading this blog?” Second, the energy these two bands have ALONE is enough to power a small country, like France. Together? I don’t know. We’re way past nuclear fusion or atomic energy. We haven’t even created that much energy yet.

Or maybe they have.

In any case, enjoy the video. I have at least a dozen times at this point.

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