Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Guster - On the Ocean Concert(s) and more


Guster is set to bring a weekend of live music, baseball and beer to Portland Maine in August.  Here are some of the details of this (hopefully) on-going series of events.

Guster On The Ocean Concert at the State Theatre
Date: Friday, August 3, 2018 with Caroline Rose.
Time: Doors at 7:00PM; Show at 8:00PM
All tickets are general admission and are just $46. All ages (children under the age of 3 are free).

Guster On the Ocean Concert at Thompson’s Point, Portland, ME
Date: Saturday, August 4, 2018 with Kishi Bashi, Kishi Bashi , The Secret Sisters and Rest Assured , winners of the Maine Academy of Modern Music’s 2018 MAMM SLAM: Maine's High School Rock Off.
Time: Gates at 5:00PM. Concert begins at 6:00PM.
All tickets are general admission and are just $46. All ages (children under the age of 3 are free).

Guster Day at Hadlock Field, home of the Portland Sea Dogs
Date: Sunday, August 5, 2018
Time: Game starts at 1:00PM; Guster activities on the field beginning at 10:00AM.  Band also slated to throw out first pitch.
General Admission Tickets - $9 for adults; $6 for children


Also, the band is partnering with Mast Landing Brewing Company to produce “On the Ocean Pale Ale”.  The beer will be officially launched at the State Theater on Friday August 3rd.  It will also be available at select locations in/around Portland following.



For tickets and more information about Guster On The Ocean, visit

Be sure and follow Guster oInstagramFacebookTwitter  for On The Ocean updates

and last minute weekend announcements.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

U2 - Two Show Reviews. Boston and Mohegan Sun

So this is something new, I’ll try to do two show reviews, same band, same tour, a few weeks apart.

U2
TD Garden, Boston MA
Thursday June 21, 2018 (Night 1 of 2)

Then

Mohegan Sun, Uncasville, CT
Tuesday July 3, 2018 (night 1 of 1)

The two shows ended up being my 23rd and 24th times seeing the band (at least I am pretty sure, I’ll check my information and make the edit)  Basically seeing them is not a “new” thing for me.  Over these years, tours and shows I’ve grown to expect certain things, hope for more things but always leave pretty happy I went through the effort of getting tickets and getting to the show.

For the Boston show I had GA/floor tickets.  I have been VERY lucky the last few tours in that I’ve been getting GA tickets with relative ease (knock on wood) and at face value.  The pre-sale has always worked for me which is a good thing. 

My pal Doug and I took up a spot about 15 feet back from the second stage.  The second stage was towards the front of the area, nearly using the whole floor as a catwalk to get there.  Having seen the previous tour where this same lay out was done I knew where I wanted to be.  For me, being taller is a help.  I settled in towards the back and took in the show.  Once the band did their “second stage” portion I was 2-3 people off the rail and was able to be “one of those people” where I watched more of it than I should have through the lens of my camera phone (camera phones have lenses right??).  It was a solid show and the band did focus a LOT on the new record, which is fine.  It has grown on me over the past few months and the songs are solid live.

For the second show I was behind the stage. I actually did this semi on purpose.  Mohegan Sun was added late, it is and was the smallest venue on this leg of the tour, and to my surprise was only about a 10 minute longer of a ride than a show in to Boston would be for me.  Being the night before the 4th of July (ie No work) I looked in to tickets.  Tried for GA, but was only pulling tickets further away than I’d like and for more money than I’d have liked.  I saw $40 options for tickets so I tried, it was behind the stage and I said why not?  They were cheap, I’d be in the building and I’ve been VERY lucky with tickets in the past so maybe this is/was some sort of sacrifice for the other fans in that I’d give up my “good seats” in the hopes the ticket gods would bless me down the road.  We shall see.
My wife came along to this show.  We don’t’ get to many shows together but she said she had a good time.  I felt bad due to the sight line(s) and all that.  Even though she didn’t know much of the new stuff she said she had a good time.  The balcony was steep and most people around us were either standing for the rowdy songs, or sitting for the other tunes.  I just played along largely just taking it all in.  The second stage stuff was pretty lost to us.  The huge screen that separates the floor was basically right in front of me so it was impossible to even see Larry sitting at his drum kit.  I hate to watch shows on the screens, but I was glad they were there.

The venue was pretty good for a show and I think I’d try to go again.  Would have been nice to have made a night of it, stay down there but a $500.00 per night room rate kept me out.

Here are the two set lists and I’ll break some of that down.  Actually, it is just one since it was the same both nights.

TD Garden and Mohegan Sun Set lists:

Love is All We Have Left
The Blackout
Lights of Home
I Will Follow
Gloria
Beautiful Day
The Ocean
Iris (Hold me Close)
Cedarwood Road
Sunday Bloody Sunday
Until the End of the World
(Second Set)
Elevation
Vertigo
Desire
Acrobat
You’re the Best Thing About Me (acoustic)
Staring at the Sun (Bono/Edge) (acoustic)
Pride
Get Out of Your Own Way
American Soul
City of Blinding Lights
E:
One
Love is Bigger Than Anything in its Way
13 (There is a Light)

Okay, so time to break things down some.  The band opens with three brand new tunes.  That is okay, it is after all, a tour for the new album.  For “Love is All we Have Left” Bono is inside the screen about ½ way in to the area and then the full band joins him.  Sort of a neat touch to immerse yourself in the crowd early on.

I’ve seen “I Will Follow” a lot.  It is a fun tune, but it’s sort of a tired workhorse for them.  They’d been teasing the Electric Co a few times and that would have been a bit more welcome.  I think it’s time to sit on I Will Follow for a bit.  “A Day Without Me” would be a nice as would “Stories for Boys” heck blow our mind with “A Celebration”, that would be wild.  All that being said “Gloria” was fun to hear and I am not sure I’ve hear it very much, if at all in all the years I’ve been seeing them.  “Beautiful Day” is still fun and gets people going.  “The Ocean” tease was really a chance for Bono to talk as they lead in to “Iris (Hold Me Close)” which is a song that builds and the payoff is usually good.  I see this song going away though (like “Kite”) after this whole tour is done.  “Ceadarwood Road” had the same intro and graphics as the previous tour.  Feels played out and campy honestly, but that riff the Edge has is awesome.  This leads in to a stripped down version of “Sunday Bloody Sunday”.  Here the band all comes to the catwalk and Larry just has a single snare drum.  The tempo drops considerably and the message feels a little lost.  The band does some heavy reliance on the graphics.  I am torn on this tune.  The full “Under a Blood Red Sky” version I could do over and over again, a stripped down version is not really a favorite.  The first set wraps up with “Until the End of the World”.  It was neat to see this from the stage view as Both Adam and Larry return to the stage, but Edge and Bono do a catwalk thing and then disappear down under the stage from the front.

There is then a few minute break as the second stage gets set up and a piped in version of “Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me Kill Me” is played on the PA.  I don’t miss this tune at all.

The next six songs are done via catwalk and second stage.  If you have GA this is great, if you have behind the stage a lot is missed.  “Elevation” and “Vertigo” still get the crowd worked up and they are fun.  “Desire” was thrown in there and they put a little twist on the tempo.  It’s more of a sing along tune these days than a breakout.  The band did dust off “Acrobat” from “Achtung Baby”.  A track many fans have waited years to be performed live, we got it. “You’re the Best Thing About Me” was done full band acoustic.  I think this tune will stick around, but I’d like to hear it “electric” next time around.  Adam and Larry disappear and Bono and Edge play an acoustic “Staring at the Sun”.  Its okay, never been a huge song on my wish list of songs to hear live.

“Pride” follows.  A this point Bono is on second stage, Adam and Larry are now on small stages about ¼ back from the main stage and Larry is on his drum kit.  I like how the band continues to be “approachable” in the sense of getting out there “close” to the fans.  Pride has been a staple of the set lists for ages and when it comes on the radio I usually roll my eyes and move on, but live it always grabs me.  Two more newer tracks in “Get out of Your Own Way” and “American Soul” get us just to about the close and we bang out “City of Blinding Lights” as the closer.  This is another track I’ve always been sort of “meh” on, but live it just goes up a level.  For now, I hope it sticks around.

The band leaves and we get a three song encore.  “One” is up first.  Here is another one that I’ve heard countless times live and, much like Pride, I skip over it on the radio, but live it pulls me back in. “Love is Bigger than Anything In Its Way” translates well but down the road, if it remains, its better suited for a mid-set “mellow” section.  The final track is “13 (there is a light)”.  The band played this on the Joshua Tree 30 tour and I left.  Night 1 in Boston I also left.  In CT I stayed through the end.  It’s honestly a pretty lousy closer after a pretty high energy night.  Bono walks the catwalk, then in to the crowd and out one of the side exits…show done.  Sorta of anti-climactic, but it is what it is.

U2 has been doing this for a long time and I will continue to listen to/buy their new material and see them live when I can.

As a longtime fan my wish list is probably not unlike anyone else’s.  Toss out some of the same old staple tracks, dig a little deeper in to your 40 years of history and make each show be “unique”.  I was saying to my wife it would have been nice that if in CT on the final night they pull out something they hadn’t done on the tour.  I am not a huge fan of bands with a  catalog like theirs doing cover tunes, but heck “All Along the Watchtower” as an example is a basic tune for them to toss out there.

The shows all skipped Joshua Tree tracks.  This was okay, but man “Where the Streets Have No Name” is sorely missed.

Songs from this tour/shows I wouldn’t miss:
Sunday Bloody Sunday (this version at least), I Will Follow, The Ocean, Iris, Cedarwood Road, Desire and Staring at the Sun.

Songs I’d really love to see come back:
Surrender and or The Refugee from War.  They’ve never played The Refugee Live so maybe this can be the new “Acrobat”.  “I Threw a Brick Through A Window” would be a trip as would “Zoo Station”.

So you are probably wondering what did I really think?

The Good – The band still sounds great.  You can tell they like what they do and enjoy playing live.  I didn’t hear bum notes and Bono seems to realize his vocal limitations which is good.

The Bad – stagnant set list.  There are just no “surprises” to make the evening feel like you REALLY had to be there.  Sightlines for night two were a drag, but night 1 made up for that.


In conclusion – They still have it.  If you are a casual fan this tour might not have been for you.  Lots of focus on the new stuff but they give you a bang for the buck.  Considering they are in their late 50’s they still give a good 2hr+ show.  See them while you can, but seeing them on multiple nights is probably not necessary.

Finally...tail of two "views"

Boston:

CT:

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Friday, May 25, 2018

Some TV Musings...

Hey..so like whats been going on?  We are finally starting to feel like spring here in the Northeast and that usually means many things, one being the end of some tv seasons.  Few things have struck a chord with me as of late, and with TV being such a big part of people’s lives (watching/discussing) I figured I’d put something out there.  The blog gets few hits these days, but for now it’s an outlet…so here goes.

(Oh possible spoilers, so be careful)

Major Networks

Designated Survivor – By the time this gets posted season two will be in the books.  I am really a nonpolitical guy but this show is very entertaining.  The whole idea of it is compelling to me and for the most part the show seems solid.  Few gaps, eye rolls and “come ons” smattered around but overall I find it entertaining.  I think the most rolls and “come ons” have to come with Agent Wells.  Just the whole “rogue” cop doing everything on her own, breaking the law etc. is just old.  It’s hard to root for her.  You know a screw up is coming and some farfetched bull crap exit looms.  I get that we need someone on the “outside” to keep driving the stories but almost every scenario she is met with I say “I can’t even get worried”.  Overall I like it.



Rosanne – yeah it’s a reboot.  Hollywood is out of ideas etc etc, but I still find this show solid.  I honestly laugh out loud at least once per episode and I rarely do that.  I was a fan when it was on originally but I know my attention drifted at the tail end of the original airings, but it picks up well.  I can explain in 2 minutes who the characters are and it’s easy to identify with one, or all.  No flashy cars, no fancy house just that real feel to it.  Makes it charming to me.  Happy it’s back and happy it’s doing well.

*** edit May 29th**  Rosanne has been cancelled.  Shame it came to this, but Ms.Barr brought it on herself.  


Expanded Cable



Into the Badlands (AMC) – Now on to season 3 it continues to be entertaining at the very least.  When the show get me to “think” I get annoyed.  Its one long action movie and the recent plot with XXX perhaps killing XXX mother could prove interesting.  XXX can’t control his “gift” which is getting old, but we’ve seen through other characters it slowly seems to kill them.  A few too many “almost got em” moments as well but the fights are just awesome.  They are so well done and I like some of the cool camera stuff they are doing.  Right now, for me it’s that show I DVR and “get to when I get to”.



The Terror (AMC) – So this is/was based off a book of the same name and in the book everyone dies…yet I read that it may come back for a season 2.  It was wonderfully shot and acted well, but by god I needed to turn on the subtitles.  Lots of long scenes of dialogue that I know I’d miss some key elements had I not been reading.  This show, for me, needs to have a “book club” type meeting after each episode.  What did you take from that moment, why did this moment happen?  People are/were watching to warrant a second season, but it might be hard for me to come along.

Premium


Billions (Showtime)
– I get confused a little easier than I’d like to admit with this show.  The who is that guy and why do we love/hate them and WHAM we are reminded why they are the way they are.  Not a huge fan of a “single” Bobby, but the show hasn’t gone down some lame womanizing, booze fueled, drug, overspending elaborate travel montages.  Sure we get they are happening and one episode seemed to end with him being totally bored with it.  Hope we keep that gap.  It cheapens it all and leaves little hope for the re-kindle which I want.  His wife was always had some great lines and used her power of persuasion well.  Wags and Taylor are two other equally great characters.  Paul Giamatti is cast so well in that douchy want to slap the crap out of guy…he should win every award for acting.  Steals the scenes he is in.  Only a few episodes left and the addition of John Malkovich could make for an interesting season 4.




I’m Dying Up Here (Showtime) I keep waiting for this show to REALLY grab me.  Almost too many characters (think ER during its prime).  It’s hard to like one and start to root for them.  They are all on that same level, few nods towards that next step in their career then an odd shift.  The story line with Goldie and her daughter hopefully is over.  She is a strong woman and needs to get backing in to the Mama Bear (that takes no shit) role.  Fiercely protective of her comics and venue they could go that route.  Only two episodes in to season 2, will need to see where we go.  I’d like it to REALLY take off and get me talking about it more with friends, right now I feel like if I were to mention it I’d get a lot of blank stares.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Steve Albini review of Spiderland by Slint

I feel like can never find this when I search the web...so adding it here:

Slint - Spiderland
This 1991 Melody Maker review could have been written today.
“Since about 1980, America has been host to an ever-increasing parasitic infestation of rock bands of ever-dwindling originality. It seems there is no one left on the continent with an aspiration to play guitar that hasn’t formed a band and released a record. And that record sounds a little bit like Dinosaur Jr.

Trust me on this; all but maybe three of those records are pure bullshit.

My primary association with rock music is that I am a fan of it, though listening to the aforementioned nearly killed that. In its best state, rock music invigorates me, changes my mood, triggers introspection or envelopes me with sheer sound. Spiderland does all those things, simultaneously and in turns, more than any records I can think of in five years.

Spiderland is, unfortunately, Slint’s swansong, the band having succumbed to the internal pressures which eventually punctuate all bands’ biographies. It’s an amazing record though, and no one still capable of being moved by rock music should miss it. In 10 years it will be a landmark and you’ll have to scramble to buy a copy then. Beat the rush.

Slint formed in 1986 as an outlet and pastime for four friends from Louisville, Kentucky. Their music was strange, wholly their own, sparse and tight. What immediately set them apart was their economy and precision. Slint was that rare band willing to play just one or two notes at a time and sometimes nothing at all. Their only other recording, 1989’s Tweez hints at their genius, but only a couple of the tracks have anything like the staying power of Spiderland.

Spiderland is a majestic album, sublime and strange, made more brilliant by its simplicity and quiet grace. Songs evolve and expand from simple statements that are inverted and truncated in a manner that seems spontaneous, but is so precise and emphatic that it must be intuitive or orchestrated or both.

Straining to find a band to compare them with, I can only think of two, and Slint doesn’t sound anything like either of them. Structurally and in tone, they recall Television circa Marquee Moon and Crazy Horse, whose simplicity they echo and whose style they most certainly do not.

To whom would Pere Ubu or Chrome have been compared in 1972? Forgive me, I am equally clueless.

Slint’s music has always been primarily instrumental, and Spiderland isn’t a radical departure, but the few vocals are among the most pungent of any album around. When I first heard Brian McMahan whisper the pathetic words to “Washer”, I was embarrased for him. When I listened to the song again, the content eluded me and I was staggered by the sophistication and subtle beauty of the phrasing. The third time, the story made me sad nearly to tears. Genius.

Spiderland is flawless. The dry, unembellished recording is so revealing it sometimes feels like eavesdropping. The crystalline guitar of Brian McMahan and the glassy, fluid guitar of David Pajo seem to hover in space directly past the listener’s nose. The incredibly precise-yet-instinctive drumming has the same range and wallop it would in your living room.

Only two other bands have meant as much to me as Slint in the past few years and only one of them, The Jesus Lizard, have made a record this good. We are in a time of midgets: dance music, three varieties of simple-minded hard rock genre crap, soulless-crooning, infantile slogan-studded rap and ball-less balladeering. My instincts tell me the dry spell will continue for a while - possibly until the bands Slint will inspire reach maturity. Until then, play this record and kick yourself if you never got to see them live. In ten years, you’ll lie like the cocksucker you are and say you did anyway.

Ten fucking stars.”

—Steve Albini.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

The art of the "farewell" tour.


There is a trend in music the last few months.  Artists retiring from touring.  Without a ton of looking in to it Elton John will do a three year “final tour”.  More on that in a second.  Neil Diamond suddenly stopped due to health issues.  Joan Baez, Paul Simon, Kenny Rodgers and Slayer have all said “we are done” after their respective runs.

First lets cast off any thoughts you have on the artists mentioned.  What I mean is, I don’t care if you don’t like xyz.  That is really not the point.  Another reaction might be “thank god”.  Again, not really the point.

Of all the bands mentioned there I have not seem them live and I am not sure I “need” to.  Honestly I’d sit through any of them with Slayer, Simon and Rodgers being my top picks.

Lets start with announcing the farewell tour.  We as consumers have all been burned.  We are looking at you “The Who” as suspects #1.  Some of the artist have said “our last formal tour” still leaving room for one off shows here and there.

As a fan of music this seems to make the most sense.  Sure I get it, years on the road take their toll.  Health, wanting to be near family are the big things you hear with these artists saying its time to slow down.  Face it, none of these artists are staying in a Motel 6 and driving a van with 200K miles on it.

Look at what Springsteen has done on Broadway, or Billy Joel doing a series of shows per month in NYC not far from his home.  It would be like a long work day for the average person.  Get up, drive to the venue, sound check, eat, do the show, hang out for a bit then head home. In your bed, seeing your kids off to school the following morning its all very appealing I am sure.

Elton doing the long run I have to applaud.  Again, just going off memory he is pretty much playing most of the places you’d expect.  US, Euro, Australia etc.  Probably South America too.  It seems silly to take three years to do this, but he is doing it at his own pace and when you think about it it’s sort of cool.  Not only that he can..but he can still “ease” in to it.

As a fan of all genres of music it’s not hard to see the up and coming bands doing their thing.  Load in, play, load out, drive.  Rinse lather repeat 200+ times a year…for 45/60 minute sets.  That has to be very difficult.  Even if you look at pop acts, they might have a tour bus right out of the gate and play radio shows (again 45/60 minute sets) they still have high level of burnout.  The older I get the more I applaud what goes on OFF stage as much as on stage.  Again, for the bands that are doing tours on their own, with a van and one friend helping.  Let’s face it most bands probably have part time jobs on the side, struggle to get time off to tour, have a fan that was already pretty tired before the tour began and they try to jam a bunch of shows in over a two week period.

I exchanged an email with a band that resides outside of Chicago a few years ago.  Fell in love with their record and wrote “will you be coming out east?” and I got a nice response but it wasn’t anything like I expected.  It basically said “we work full time jobs, we all took our allotment of vacation time and this is what we can do for now, sorry we can’t come your way”.

Making music and playing music is HARD.

If you have a chance get to the big “final” shows but make it a point to catch a new band, or arrive early for a support band.  There is just so much out there you HAVE to find something you’ll dig!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit - Vets Auditorium, Providence RI



Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit
Friday, February 2, 2018
Veterans Auditorium, Providence RI

One of the artists I have recently found myself very interested in is Jason Isbell.  Isbell released a record in 2017 that was one of my favorites called “The Nashville Sound” with his band the 400 Unit.
Giving complete transparency I saw a feature on Isbell during a segment on CVS Sunday Morning and was very curious.  From that point I became ravenous.  I have a few friends that are fans of him so when I’d ask “have you heard Jason Isbell” I was typically met with an enthusiastic “yes, of course”.
I was able to connect the dots back on February 2nd when I was able to see him perform live at the Vet’s Auditorium in Providence.

The theater was a nice mid-sized venue.  Clean and acoustically sound.  Isbell and his band were so on point it was almost disorienting.  I could hear “EVERYTHING”.  It wasn’t just this wall of sound where you could pick a bass part out of, or an extended guitar solo.  I was able to hear all the instruments and I found myself completely captivated for the duration.

Isbell for me has landed on the “must see” list, where if he is local to me I just need to see him/his band again.  He is just such a likeable guy and humble too.

Can’t say enough good things. 

Here is the full set list if you are in to such things.

Hope the High Road
24 Frames
Go It Alone
Something More Than Free
White Man’s World
Molotv
Last of My Kind
Cumberland Gap
Tupelo
Flagship
Codeine
Chaos and Clothes
Stockholm
Flying Over Water
Cover Me Up
Anxiety
Never Gonna Change (Drive By Truckers)
E:
Super 8
If We Were Vampires

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Thursday, December 7, 2017

Randomness fall 2017

Just a ramble I guess…

I was thinking recently about how times change.  I guess that is just a nice way of saying  I am getting older and the world is speeding past.  Heck, as I type this record I realize that “Thriller” by Michael Jackson was released 35 years ago today.  Was I not just a wee lad when that was released?  Was it not tops on my holiday wish list (on tape no less..which is making a comeback as well??)  It really is okay.  Time is going to happen, it is just when you sit back and realize what you chose to do with it.

One of the things I was reflecting on was how blogging was a big part of what I was doing for a bit.  I met some nice, interesting people when I was doing this a bit more “on the regular”.  It was the earliest form of social media to me.  I had a network of friends and co-workers.  We’d write, we’d comment and if we were lucky we’d get pinned on the side bar as a “blog I dig” type thing.
Most of those that I was once following have long abandoned the craft.  Moving to social media for a quick fix, or in some cases seeming to disappear altogether.   I do have to say I miss looking for new posts and seeing what people wrote.  Often read only by a small group of people.  Occasionally I’d stumble upon people that were looking to make a career of writing and many of them, at the very least had a manuscript published!  Sorta cool.

I also followed a guy that had hilarious posts and he now is a sports writer and has over a million twitter followers.  Hopefully some of his old posts he hid/deleted!  I still giggle at some of the stories.
Writing, for me, was something I don’t mind doing…but I need a proofreader desperately!

2017 is drawing towards a close.  I am not sure I can do a “favorite records” of the year the way I’d like to.  My new job (now 2.5 years on) has not afforded me a lot of time to listen to music.  My commute to work is pretty short as well (I know..first world problems) so having that attention to give, even for 35 minutes, can be hard to find.  Couple that with I tend to buy 2-3 things at a time and give them a listen when I can.  Still I think 2017 has been pretty strong.  I should, at the very list do a list of the cds that got the most plays.  We shall see.

In the world of hockey I continue to do a fair amount of timekeeping.  Its getting easier and the pay has been pretty great.  With high school season kicking off soon I hope to maybe find/log some hours doing that.  I say that now, but sitting in a cold rink when it gets chippy might be one of my least favorite things in the world.  Just finish the game you big dummies…I want to go home.

About all I wanted to write today..(for the first time in weeks)