A spreadsheet plot written out by J.K. Rowling. Her approach to spreadsheet plotting is to divide the columns by chapter number, story timeline, chapter title, main plots and subplots.
I’m not out to please everybody - I’ve actually been out to try not to displease anybody, and that’s even harder work. It’s like Prozac for creativity - cutting off the highs and lows and the risks and the rewards so that nobody walks away from a show or listens to an album with a passionate…
This past week was another perfect example of how having expectations that are too-high can almost ruin a show. Like I mentioned in my last post, I enjoyed the Eric Clapton show, but expected so so so much more. Hell, even just one specific song more. On the other hand, I didn’t expect much from this John Mayer show. I’d already seen him twice and, while he’s really great and a thousand times better live than on his albums, I’d spent months figuring the Eric Clapton show was going to be so life-changing that John Mayer would just be an afterthought.
I absolutely loved the first John Mayer show I ever went to (2003) because he showed me that he wasn’t just an acoustic singer/songwriter, he was a guitarist. The second show (2007) was ok, but considering the album he was supporting (Continuum) was heavily blues, I was disappointed with the setlist. (How do you cover “Bold As Love” on your record and then not play it on tour? Really.) So Friday,with following Clapton and this current album being REALLY weak in my opinion, I wasnt’ going into this show expecting incredible.
But I got incredible.
First of all, his lead touring guitarist was Robbie McIntosh. Robbie McIntosh from The Pretenders & Paul McCartney. Pretty effing cool.
The setlist was strong and the Battle Studies songs John Mayer played were at least the ones I would’ve chosen if I had to pick. I do love “Who Says” and that sounded great and I was pleasantly surprised by how good “Assassin” was live. I ended up going back and listening to that track on the way home and it’s grown on me considerably.
He also threw a bit of Simon & Garfunkel’s “Homeward Bound” into some song (I don’t remember which) but I love when musicians do that. It’s like they’re saying “Hey, I’m musician enough that I can pick up on melodic similarities and put them together.” I don’t know. That sentence made more sense in my head.
One of the funniest moments came when he took Tesla’s “Signs” (which I found out isn’t actually Telsa’s song, it was written by Five Man Electrical Band) and replaced most of the verses with banter about the random signs in the audience. I later learned that he’s been doing this at every show, but it was still pretty amusing as long as you overlook the fact that it just encourages these idiots to bring signs that block their poor neighbors’ views.
…Which he actually did comment on very early on when a group of girls in about the 7th row held up a “sign” that actually looked like a twin bedsheet stapled to three wooden spikes (how do you get that shit into the show?!). He read it (Dear John, don’t egg them on, really.) then said “I’ve started judging signs by how many people’s views they block and I’m pretty sure your sign blocks…I dunno… about 2,000 people.” Naturally, that didn’t deter the girls from holding it up after every other song, but luckily I wasn’t behind them so I could ignore it.
Toward the end of the show he covered “Don’t Stop Believin’” which, I’ll unabashedly admit, has become one of my favorite songs. It’s not in the “Favorite Song Because It’s Amazing” category, it’s better suited for the “Favorite Song Because It’s Silly Fun & Makes Me Smile” category, but still in the favorites nonetheless. It landed there after my trip to LA this past September when Alexis, Jen, Michelle, Dave, and I, after spending a long and exhausting day at the Sunset Strip Music Festival, ended up at the Rainbow Room. Jen was at such an inebriation level that she was knocking anything made of glass onto the floor and things we’re getting tense and then “Don’t Stop Believin’” came on. And we just started singing. First it was the five of us. Then the people surrounding us. Then, eventually, the whole patio of Rainbow was singing. Haha. See what I mean? “Silly Fun & Makes Me Smile” category. Anyway, I called Alexis during John Mayer’s cover. Don’t know if she picked up or it went to voicemail though. I should probably call her. haha
Anyway. Overall John Mayer’s show was really fantastic. And turned my Mom into a huge fan. Socially I got to talk to some people that I haven’t seen in a while, including my God-Brother and his very pregnant wife.
Expectations aside, Eric Clapton was really good and being able to see him from that close was amazing. Then the incredible John Mayer show really ended the week on a good note musically.
Photo Taken By: Me. (But I was in my seat!)
I went to see Eric Clapton last night at the BOK Center. It was a good show but not great. I figured he’d at least TRY to make it a bit special or personal since he did spend a fair amount of time here in the ’70s and the Tulsa musicians he hired during the 461 Ocean Boulevard days heavily influenced his sound. But there was nothing. Yeah, he “dedicated” the show to Tommy Tripplehorn and David Teegarden Sr. But you couldn’t re-learn “Tulsa Time” for this one show? I know Tulsa (and Oklahoma) has a semi-embarrassing habit of “adopting” famous musicians (i.e. David Cook. Yes, ok, he did live here, but he’s not FROM here.) AND, judging from the fabled stories and his autobiography, I’d guess that Clapton doesn’t remember much about the time he spent here, but a little something special would’ve been nice. A guest musician. A special song. A little anecdote like the time you played guitar to get out of the Tulsa jail.
But damn, I lost myself. I’m not intending to review the show. I had a good time. Musically it didn’t compare to seeing him play with Steve Winwood last summer, but my seat at last night’s show was impeccable and being able to see his hands with my own eyes and not on the video monitors was really amazing.
This post’s intention is to make a few observations about big concerts like this.
1. The best place to sit is not on the floor, but on the lower level in the 1st or 2nd section away from the stage. In the case of Eric Clapton I preferred my floor seat because I wanted to see his hands play, but in almost all cases, the floor sucks. If you’re not in the front section AND on the aisle, you can’t see, it’s hot and it’s crowded. But then again, I don’t like people in my bubble.
2. Going to the bar 27 times during a 90-minute set. For the price of those four floor seats you could buy the live DVD, a case of beer, and a starter surround sound system and just stay at home. Everyone in your row and behind you would appreciate it.
3. People who walk up the aisles to take pictures. Look, I’m a photographer and a lot of the time I have to actively fight with myself to stop shooting and just enjoy the show. So I get it. But, while you might think “it’s just one shot and i’ll be out of the way” you have to realize that you’re one of many (it was AT LEAST 100 people last night) and that constant stream of people walking in front of you and blocking your view is REALLY frustrating to the people sitting in those seats. Look, we all got raped for the ticket prices & fees, so I don’t want to cry “we paid for these seats and you’re in our way” but, well, you’re in our way. I feel like a bit of a hypocrite saying it, but stay in your seat and just enjoy the show.
4. While I empathize with the people I mentioned in #3, people who walk in front of me to take a picture with a camera phone? Fuck. Off. You’re distracting me and blocking my view of a guitar solo so you can take a picture with your Razr that will turn out to be a burry, blown-out blob of colors? Go away before I smack you.
4b. Specifically the “Jersey Shore” wannabe couple who spent half a song taking pictures (with the flash!) of each other with Eric Clapton in the background… DIE.
5. General Admission floor seating? Disregard everything I said (except maybe the camera phone thing). It’s survival of the fittest. Don’t bitch. To be honest, just be nice and remember you’re all there to see the same show.
6. “Woooooo”-ing & yelling “ILOVEYOUIWANTTOHAVEYOURBABIES!” Unless it’s between songs, don’t do it. Just. Don’t. I was once at a show next to a guy who yelped like a dog every minute or so. Whatever frequency (or whatever the correct audio-type word is) he barked at had the weirdest effect on me. It fucked with my equilibrium and I felt dizzy every time he did it. Of course, the faint-ness is probably my own problem, but I bet it was still annoying to everyone else in the area. So just don’t do it.
I know I bitch a lot but at least I make you laugh. Right? Right.
well i watched his episode of “storytellers” this past weekend (or maybe it was friday) and that was what it took. i’ve always preferred john mayer live to john mayer on the album. probably because on the album he plays it safe, does what “they” want and live he takes those safe songs and plays them like they were meant to be played. with a little soul or heart or something. i don’t know.
anyway, i found myself singing along to almost every song, even the new battle studies ones that i didn’t really like. so i ended up listening to the album for the rest of the weekend and i’m really liking it. especially “assasin,” “half of my heart,” and “who says.” i like the lyrics to “perfectly lonely,” but i’m not partial to the arrangement on the album. it was a little better on “storytellers” but the music doesn’t really do the song justice.
anyway, i’m warming up to this album and can’t wait to see him again next month.
in fairness, when i first started this blog, the disqus system wasn’t integrated with tumblr and it required lots of tweaking with my tumblr settings that i, frankly, didn’t want to deal with at the time. but now, all i had to do was type in my disqus username and BAM. comments.
so go back and leave me comment love on all my older posts. or tell me that my opinions are completely off-base and the rolling stones aren’t the most overrated band of all time. i’ll comment right back and tell you you’re wrong, (unless you tell me that U2 is the most overrated band of all time, and then i’ll give you that one), but we’re all entitled to our own opinions right? and i want to hear yours.
click on that little thing that says “comment” in the corner. yeah, right down there…
So I’m making a compromise and settling for a slightly less in-depth post rather than the lenthy stream of consciousness I really wanted to write but would probably never get around to. Edit: Apparently not, haha.
I went to see a band called 100 Monkeys last week and they totally blew me away. I loved their sound. Kind of indie rock (but not in a pretentious way) meets blues’ bottom line, with a little folk thrown in. Kind of similar to the theme song from “True Blood,” but with a little more blues to it. Their musicianship was incredible. Great guitar playing and keys. They all rotated through the instruments. On the music side alone it was enough to make me a fan, but their lyrics were also well-written and well-sung. They were clever and witty and sometime downright hilarious. I really love this band.
But they’ve got an unfortunate problem.
Jackson Rathbone, the actor who plays one of the Cullens in the “Twilight” movies, is in the band.
Don’t get me wrong, he’s amazing. Great guitar player, great singer, great stage personality. It’s not unfortunate that HE’S in the band, it’s unfortunate that he’s in the “Twilight” movies and in the band. Because his association with the Twilight phenomenon means the people that come to the 100 Monkeys shows are squealing teenagers. And because of the squealing teenagers, the type of people who I think would ABSOLUTELY LOVE this band, will probably never give them a chance.
I mean, I wore earplugs. For the first time in my life.
(At first I actually just put one in because I was shooting and, since they were on the 2nd stage at Cains, I had to squeeze myself in right in front of a speaker. But as soon as the band came out, the lovely girl to my right started screaming, constantly, at a pitch that made me dizzy. So. Other earplug, in.)
Now, before I go on, you need to know some background about me.
One, I know a thing or two about crazy phenomenons. Hi, I was a Hanson fan. In the era of 140db CROWD NOISE, I was there. I ran a fansite [that no one read but my parents], I waited in line for tickets, I was your typical obsessed teenager. So I’m not knocking the girls at these 100 Monkeys shows that are really freaking excited about seeing a movie-vampire in the flesh. I get it, I was there ten years ago.
Two, I like Twilight. They’re not classics, but they’re a light, easy read, and, as cool as I am (heh), I have a soft spot for stupid love stories.
And three, I heard of 100 Monkeys because of Jackson Rathbone’s involvement with Twilight. I went to their show out of pure curiosity. I listened to a couple of tracks online and wasn’t really moved, but I wanted to know what a highly-paid movie star was doing touring the country in a smelly van. They could either suck and just be touring “because they could” or they could be really fucking good and be touring because they loved playing music.
Verdict: They were really fucking good.
So I shot the first half of the show (pictures on flickr) and then retreated to the back to take in the rest. While I was watching I couldn’t help but think about the conundrum. I mean, any band wants the ability to tour. They want to have fans and make a living and spread their music. That’s a really hard thing to do when you’re just starting out and no one’s heard your music. And 100 Monkeys are fortunate that, with their Twilight connection, they have an easier time getting booked than most. But are they getting booked because the promoter liked their music or are they getting booked as “the band with that guy from Twilight?” Does it matter? I don’t think it necessarily matters if the music can hold up against the hype. Which, in my opinion, it absolutely does.
But specifically, there’s A LOT of backlash surrounding Twilight. Most people are so sick of the saturation that anything even remotely related to Twilight throws up a red flag and they won’t have anything to do with it. This sort of all-encompassing boycott (not exactly the right word, but you get the idea) tends to happen a lot among artists & musicians. I think it stems from feeling like the thing that’s being over-hyped isn’t worth (or good enough for) all the adoration.
And frankly, that’s usually the case.
But I REALLY think that artists & musicians would love 100 Monkeys. It’s just a question of whether or not they can put up with the fangirling. It’s hard to do. While I do understand the excitement, I am “old-grumpy-person” enough to get a little frustrated when the sound of the music gets lost under the squealing. Look at Hanson’s career. Many of the people who like Hanson today wanted nothing to do with them in the ’90s. Because it was all too much. But ten years in, when the screaming died down and the fanbase grew up and began to LISTEN, people on the outside finally felt comfortable testing the waters.
I hope, in the case of 100 Monkeys, it won’t take that long. I hope that they’ll stay together and continue to tour for years to come. And I hope that their crowds will become a little less manic. I hope that in the cities they play, die-hard music fans will give them a chance no matter their opinion of Twilight. Because really, 100 Monkeys…the band, the music…have nothing to do with Twilight. They are simply, incredibly good.
Their Twilight connection may have brought them to my attention, may have booked their tour, may have sold the tickets, but their talent should sustain all that and, when the phenomenon is stripped away, there’s a killer band behind it all.
i have to say though, i was kind of disappointed with music this year. granted i’ve been broke and haven’t spent nearly as much time rifling through magazines and the internet in search of new tunes, but there wasn’t much that stuck with me this year. i mean, kings of leon’s only by the night is still in my 6-disc changer in my car (yes, i listen to actual CDs whenever possible. whole other blog.). it wasn’t just that very little new music struck a chord with me, bands i’m used to counting on let me down too. for instance, blue october’s new album, approaching normal went through two spins in my car, was uploaded to my itunes and i haven’t listened to it since. they’re my FAVORITE BAND. this record was just…lacking in substance.
anyway. in no particular order…
THENEWNO2 - You Are Here
dhani sounds eerily like george. this record is the perfect balance of chilled out and rock. it kills me that i couldn’t make it down to see them play with wolfmother and heartless bastards this past fall.
listen to: “yomp,” “bluesy,” and “another john doe”
OSO CLOSO - Today is Beauty’s Birthday
listen to: “photograph,” “straight out the gate,” “just tonight,” and “back is broken”
PARACHUTE MUSICAL - Everything Is Working Out Fine In Some Town
and i’m finding my own way out of here and i’m only taking one on my way / you can mentally sit on the fence all day but i’ll have the time of my life and no one will take that away from me anymore / i’m right, i’m right, i’m right, i know i’m right / so get me out ‘cause this is my turn to speak or scream / i’m gonna says this from the top of my lungs as clear as i can but as clear as i could would never produce the effect that i want so stop and listen good / i won’t write one more song about what happened or what went wrong i’m moving on ‘cause it’s time for a change / a change in my life / i’m ready to just let this go / and leave you by yourself for awhile until you finally know how hard it is to be alone.
listen to: “one more song,” “arrhythmia,” and “instead”
CAGE THE ELEPHANT - Cage The Elephant
listen to: “james brown,” “in one ear,” and “ain’t no rest for the wicked”
STARSAILOR - All The Plans
listen to: “tell me it’s not over,” “all the plans,” “change my mind,” and “hurts too much”
PARAMORE - Brand New Eyes
listen to: “looking up,” “all i wanted,” “ignorance,” and “the only exception”
WOLFMOTHER - Cosmic Egg
listen to: “california queen,” “10,000 feet,” and “phoenix”
WILCO - Wilco (The Album)
listen to: “you and i,” “wilco (the song),” and “one wing”
JOHN MAYER - Battle Studies
this is also the first album i’ve ever bought digitally. well, where i had a choice. i’ve bought a couple digital albums and tracks because they weren’t available tangibly. i bought this digitally because, if i haven’t mentioned this before, i’ve been really broke. and i had to swallow my stubborn, CD-loving, pride and save almost $10 by choosing the digital copy.
listen to: “half of my heart,” “perfectly lonely,” “friends, lovers or nothing,” and “assassin”
note: you were going to get a pretty little audio snippet of a song from each of these albums, but i can only upload one song per day via tumblr and no audio/playlist sites seem to want to play nice with blogs anymore. some backward-ass music exec’s doing i assume. or i could just be an idiot. either way, click the album art and it’ll take you to the amazon page which should have samples of all the songs.
anyway. i’m about to list my favorite shows of the past year, but before i do, i realized that last year i forgot to add the tom petty & steve winwood show at the american airlines center in dallas to my list. i don’t know how this one got overlooked since it. was. awesome. but alas, it did. but now it hasn’t. on with the show…
#1 - BLUE OCTOBER - DFest (Tulsa, 25 July)
justin furstenfeld (photo credit: me)
there are so few bands anymore that can capture me and take me away from everything else and get me in that zone. you know where nothing matters, you feel like you’re connected to the band and you just want to scream “i know EXACTLY what you’re saying.” i just feel so….connected when i see blue october. i’ve been pretty depressed (in the past and in the present) and listing to them just does the trick. they have never failed to raise my spirits and make me feel better. so it’s already a great show and they’re totally on and they start playing “into the ocean” and when they get to the bridge and justin opens his arms and sings “let the rain come down”…
it starts POURING.
it was magical. that’s really all i can say. it gave me chills.
for the rest of the set i was basically in blue october euphoria. i only have two downsides: one, they didn’t play “a quiet mind” and two, during “hate me” (i think) when justin sang “i’ve been sober now for three whole months” he visibly crossed his fingers which made me kind of sad. i only met him once or twice back in the day, but i know that he’s been through a LOT of shit in his life and has and is battling lots of stuff, and the thought of him slipping back make me a little sad. i’m not completely sure why, but maybe when you put so much store in a person’s words and give those words healing power…it doesn’t make you feel like they were empty words, but…i don’t know.
#2 - FLEETWOOD MAC - BOK Center (Tulsa, 3 May)
stevie nicks & mick fleetwood (photo credit: sherry brown - tulsa world)
fleetwood mac just played amazing song after amazing song. “the chain” “tusk” “rhiannon” “sara” “landslide” “big love” “gold dust woman” “go your own way” they even played “oh well” which is circa the bob welch incarnation of fleetwood mac! that was probably the biggest surprise. you could not stop your foot from moving or your hands from tapping or your body from swaying. mick fleetwood and john mcvie are quite possibly the best rhythm section in rock and roll. i was inexplicably emotional for the first couple of songs. i don’t know if it was because i’d had such a string of bad news the past 24 hours or if it was because i was seeing one of my all time favorite bands, a band that is kind of in that category of “will i ever get to see them live before they stop playing for good?” i don’t know what it was, but it was an absolutely magical experience.
mick and john were absolutely solid. stevie sounded fantastic, especially for her age, and i rarely like female singers. (actually i can count the female singers i like on one hand: stevie, christine mcvie, chrissie hynde and tori amos). and lindsey buckingham… you know, he seems so full of himself and i remember how pissy he was before his solo show at the brady a few years ago. normally that conceitedness and gallivanting around the stage drawing out applause would annoy the hell out of me but you know what… he’s that fucking good.
so it definitely knocked someone out of my “top five greatest shows i’ve ever seen” i’m just not sure which yet. i might have to change it to a “top six.”
#3 - THE FEDS Final Show - The Marquee (Tulsa, 10 January)
matt slider & the feds (photo credit: mike hulett)
it didn’t really start to get emotional until aidan got up on stage and started talking about the feds and how they renewed his faith in music and made him believe in rock n roll again and how they’re all amazing, generous people on top of it all. they played a few more songs. played “a touch of panic” for the encore. and that was it. the end of the last great rock band of my (relative) youth.
#4 - OSO CLOSO CD Release - Hailey’s (Denton, 4 September)
(photo credit: me)
so the show was mind-blowingly fantastic. my brother, geoff, and i picked up our custom-painted cigar boxes and cds (and i finally got my oso closo pillow from the fabulous amy donaldson) and we left for home. on the way i was perusing the liner notes and saw that the boys thanked me. that on top of the show and the pillow and the cigar box and the show again pretty much made my night. so. happy.
#5 - KINGS OF LEON - Ford Center (OKC, 3 October)
(photo credit: kraviz - filmmagic - rollingstone)
#6 - ERIC CLAPTON & STEVE WINWOOD - American Airlines Center (Dallas, 23 June)
(photo credit: kubacheck)
#7 - RENT - Music Hall at Fair Park (Dallas, 10 May)
anthony rapp & adam pascal (photo credit: broadwaysd.com)
i mean, rent was such a huge part of my life in high school. i NEVER thought i’d get to see any of the original cast members perform. EVER. but to watch as adam and anthony sang “what you own” and to see them both on stage…it felt like what i imagine it would be like in new york at the nederlander in the ’90s. just…. $^&@#$
#8 - DAVID COOK - Firelake Grand Casino (Shawnee, 6 November)
neal tiemann (photo credit: me)
#9 - DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE - Brady Theater (Tulsa, 12 April)
ben gibbard (photo credit: me)
#10 - PAUL McCARTNEY - BOK Center (Tulsa, 17 August)
rusty anderson & paul mccartney (photo credit: tom gilbert - tulsa world)
#11 - THE REMUS LUPINS - Hardesty Library (Tulsa, 2 July)
alex carpenter (photo credit: me)
i shot the show, but it was hard to not lose yourself in it. it’s so high-energy and fun. i won’t bore you with the details (like how toby played “hedwig’s theme” on the saxophone as the intro to the amazing song, “remember cedric”) but i had such a great time.
#12 - OSO CLOSO & PARACHUTE MUSICAL - Boiler Room, 51st Street Speakeasy, & Exit 6c - (Denton, OKC, & Tulsa, 12-14 Februrary)
parachute musical (photo credit: me)
i’d intended on spending the weekend in denton with friends, but when everything crashed down on me that night after the show at the boiler room, i decided to head back to oklahoma. i met up with my brother in oklahoma city (about half way home for me) and we had dinner and hung out. as it turned out i was getting ready to leave town about the same time that parachute musical was supposed to go on across town (but on my way home) so i made an impromptu stop by the speakeasy and caught their and oso’s sets and got to hang a little bit more.
the next night they played exit 6c in tulsa, i called everyone i knew to get them out and they didn’t disappoint. i had to get there really early to sneak my brother in (he’d come home for the weekend) so i hung out with the guys and got to know them more. they played. everyone loved them. and the new friends i made and the new music i discovered provided a really nice bright spot to an absolutely shitty past few days.
#13 - RYAN ADAMS - Brady Theater - (Tulsa, 28 Februrary)
(photo credit: mrphoto)
#14 - OZZY OSBOURNE - Sunset Strip Music Festival - (LA, 12 September)
(photo credit: nate christenson)
#15 - JONATHAN TYLER and the NORTHERN LIGHTS - House of Blues Pontiac Garage - (Dallas, 10 April)
(photo credit: me)
#16 - U2 - Oklahoma Memorial Stadium - (Norman, 18 October)
(photo credit: me)
the show was fantastic. i still don’t really like U2 (“i still haven’t found what i’m looking for” was awesome) but the spectacle of it all was pretty cool. the stage was mammoth and the video screen was really cool. i just don’t know how bands can perform on that big of a stage. you lose almost all the band member interaction that is, to me, one of the most important parts of a live show. it doesn’t feel like you’re watching a band but four individuals doing four different things to the same song. when i go to a show i want to see the band play together. interact. really become one entity, totally in a groove with one another. but that’s just my opinion. i really did have a much better time than i thought i would (i almost didn’t go).
and that’s that, kiddos. sixteen of my favorite shows from the past year. favorite albums coming in the next few days.