Open Letter to Marissa Nadler

To the immeasurably talented Marissa Nadler,

I cannot thank you enough for your incredible music. My desk job is infinitely more welcoming, knowing that I have your music to keep me company. Yes, I like other music–other genres. Huge fan of Tool, old Metallica, SOAD, Rush, love Suzanne Vega, Alela Diane, Brahms, Vivaldi … kind of a broad spectrum. And to be sure, they all have their place in my queue, but there is something *ridiculously* soothing and stirring about your music that I can’t quite qualify or quantify. Also, that last sentence may just win The Most Words Using the Initial “Qu” Sound. Yay me. I guess.

I know you’ve played here before, I think most recently with Alela Diane, at Kilby Court, towards the end of November 2009. That was 2 years ago. Now … I know the world is a *gargantuan* place, and there are a million places you haven’t even played yet, so it is entirely possible that this request will fall by the wayside while you explore the as-yet-to-be-played locales … but it can’t go unasked.

When you can, will you please come back to Utah? I’m sure we can find you a great venue! There’s no shortage of awesome places to play: The Depot, Kilby Court, The Urban Lounge, In the Venue … there are tons of amazing stages here!

Please consider it. I know your schedule is uber-busy, which is certainly understandable. Please … just don’t forget about our lonely little state. 🙂

Thanks Marissa.

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.

4th of July Festivities

Yesterday was just … wow. We had so much fun. Parade with some good friends, bbq and pool party at our house, then fireworks from a location where we could see about 30 *miles* worth of fireworks. THAT was incredible. No lie, from our vantage point, we could see 10 miles north and 25 miles south. Not to mention everything between Salt Lake and the Wasatch mountains. Little colorful explosions for as far as the eyes could see.

I hope everyone had a fun, safe, awesome 4th.

I have something that I want to write about tomorrow, but it’s going to take me a day to make sure I have a predominantly cool head on my shoulders before I spout off. Otherwise, I’m going to rant and rave like a lunatic, and that won’t accomplish anything.

Concert Announcement: A Perfect Circle

Looks like Maynard and Billy are bringing A Perfect Circle to SLC on August 1st at Kingsbury Hall. Tickets go on sale June 3. Guess who will be going. 🙂

Should be a fantastic show. I’ve always loved how Maynard uses APC as a more … “touchy feely” outlet. Tool always seems to be his rage and aggression, whereas APC always seems to be more emotional and melodic. Granted, he doesn’t write the music for either band, but he’s arguably one of the most versatile singers when it comes to emotional range. Even within APC, you have songs like “Judith” that are just visceral and aggressive, whereas “Vanish” is just so … not. It’s mellow, lush, and flat-out the antithesis of “Judith.”

To be fair though, the same dichotemous split occurs within Tool, where you have songs like “Eulogy,” “”Aenima,” “The Grudge,” etc, but then you also have songs like “Disposition,” “Intension,” “Parabol,” and “Reflection” (not necessarily a mellow song, but it’s not gritty and hard as most Tool songs).

A Perfect Circle should be a great concert. A reliable source says that Kingsbury Hall is an amazing venue to catch just about any show.

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.

Utah Concert Announcement: SAMANTHA CRAIN on June 11 at the Urban Lounge.

Okay … I really didn’t think she’d come play here. I’m … holy crap. I’m stoked. This is beyond awesome.

Looks like she’s supporting Langhorne Slim. Not familiar with them. Looks like I have my work cut out for me over the next couple months. I’m checking them out on iTunes right now … they sound pretty cool. Yah. This will be a great double bill.

But really, I’m absolutely psyched to see Samantha Crain here in Utah! I don’t know how she’s pulling this off, but I am *extremely* grateful.

Check out these Samantha sites:

http://samanthacrain.com/

This video is just incredible. What a great introduction to an incredible upcoming artist. I swear, she has more potential than even Joana Newsom had at the same stage in her career!

Here’s a video of her song “Santa Fe.”

JUNE 11TH CANNOT GET HERE FAST ENOUGH! WHOOO!!!!

Time Stand Still

Don’t I wish …

I’ve been swamped with work stuff. My boss quit a few days ago. All the projects got dumped in mylap. I had been asking to help with things so I would know what’s going on … but no. Everything was handled by my boss up until the last day. Kind of wanted to get my hands dirty with these projects so it wouldn’t be such a shock. No such luck.

So anyway, that’s been my life for the last 3-4 days. Before that, I had strep and a kidney infection. Lots of pain killers, lots of anti-biotics, lots of sleep. It’s been a rough couple of weeks.

So my wife and I were talking about everything we have going on this summer. Barenaked Ladies in a few weeks in Boise, U2 about 2 weeks later, and Rush in August. Pioneer Park’s concert series is gearing up in a few months, and the list is awesome. Among the performers are Modest Mouse, New Pornographers, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, She and He … good series!

More info here. http://www.slcgov.com/arts/twilight/

I’m most excited for She and He. I’ve liked Zooey Deschanel since hearing her in “Elf.” Yes, that really is her in the movie. Anyway, she and M. Ward have two CDs together, aptly titles Volume 1 and Volume 2. Not the most creative titles, but appropriate. Their music rather neo-50s doo-wop … sort of. Imagine todays pop music being heavily influenced by the late 5os. There you go. They’re fun stuff.

So they’re coming. I’d like to see Modest Mouse as well. Always been a fan of Johnny Marr, but … he’s not with the band anymore, as far as I can tell. Truly a travesty.

I met a guy who builds custom cabinets. Basically, my wife found a shelf on KSL that she liked, so she asked if I could go pick it up. When I picked it up, I started chatting with the guy. Come to find out he does all kinds of stuff–bed frames, cabinets, shelves … you name it, he can build it. I got to talking to him about how we need new shelves for everything we have media-wise: DVDs, blu-rays, CDs, etc. He said he could build us some for really cheap. After discussing dimensions and paying for the new shelves, he said he’d have them done by Wednesday of next week, POSSIBLY over the weekend.

“Dude. So what? Why is that such a big deal?”

Right now, our “extraneous” CDs are sitting on top of the one shelf we have. We have about 200 CDs with no home. Homeless CDs need love too, right? They need shelter. Our movies are scattered around the downstairs. Some have homes, others do not. Some are in a shelving unit with locking doors; others are in another room on a wall shelf; the rest are on top of our bar or on the old entertainment center for the TV. I wanted a one-stop shop for everything. Now we’re getting it. And for frickin’ dirt cheap. SWEET!

So here’s a shout-out to Brian Moore, who’s building the shelves. He is Mountain West Furniture in SLC/Park City. Great to work with, reasonable prices … you can’t beat his work.

I’m hoping to get some video footage of the upcoming concerts around here. I have a device that will do it, but whether I keep it is a big question. For one, the battery life is low: less than 2 hours for each charge. I’m keeping it until the BNL show on May 21st, but after that, we’ll see. If the quality is as good as the reviews say it is, then I’ll re-evaluate.

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