Sunday, November 8, 2009

KISS and Buckcherry

Last night I got to go see a true concert. None of this reunion crap (although this isn't exactly a 100% original band) nonetheless the band managed to act and and interact with the audience as if this were the last show on earth. KISS still managed to put on a better show than most people half their age can even dream of. So last night I made my way to Minneapolis to catch these titans, running into some curious children, viewing a mans Destroyer shirt on the bus over, and got to the wonderful city of Minneapolis around 5:45. It was already dark out. Gotta love winter comin.

So as per my usual ritual with concerts in Minneapolis, I made my way to the Chipotle on Nicollet Mall to enjoy my new found love in life, the bowl.

So I made my way to Target Center around 6:15, and started to notice a LOT of KISS shirts. 70's, 80's, 90's and today. Funnily enough even farewell tour shirts, not exactly valid at this point in time. As I make my way to the the side of the Center, I notice this huge piece of art work..

Gene Simmons obviously has not been dethroned as the king of whoring himself out for cash yet. So I hung around outside for a while, seeing as the doors had yet to open, and noticed that about half of the audience waiting around were wearing makeup. Not your basic eyeliner, but full on KISS makeup, some going as far as wearing the exact costumes of the band. It was something you couldn't help but feel good about in a situation like this, that people can take a night off, dress up, and have fun. And the other great thing was that almost all of these middle aged KISS Army members brought all their kids to see a real rock show, something that doesn't really happen much anymore. So the doors open, and I check my cheap seat i bought, and notice I'm up there quite a ways.

3 rows from the back to be exact. but that's why the call them cheap seats! There's gotta be a catch. So I hang out, people watching, and the lights dim for the opening act Buckcherry, with a surprisingly large audience for and opening band. They play through all of their songs with great energy, though the vocalist could use a little less rasp and a lot more melody, but I guess this is what they're good for. I didn't know any of there songs except for the huge hit "Crazy Bitch" (which my band played at a high school function back in the day, needless to say we almost got expelled before graduation.)

So Buckcherry finishes a pretty good opening set, and I go out to walk around, get a drink and ran into an old friend from back home which was very nice. We talked a little while, and got back in the arena just in time to see the lights dim for KISS.

So everything is dark, and the band has a clever Google Earth thing up on the screens, which zooms into the top of the Target Center, leading to a video of the band "getting onstage" (obviously not exactly live, but the thought was nice) So the big curtain is still up, the band hits a huge rockin note, and the massive light show is revealed. It becomes very apparent that KISS obviously haven't floundered in this recession...

As you'll notice, I was able to walk around to various entrances into the arena, and able to snap some much better pics and get a greater glimpse of the band, a nifty little trick for those with the ultimately shoddy camera phone.

The band proceeded to play through all of the classic tunes you know, and some newer ones, which could still hold up as pretty rocking tunes in most cases. But what really impressed me was the fact that Paul Stanley could connect so well with the audience (who were more than willing to please their Gods.) When Stanley said anything, it evoked a reaction from the crowd, which is something that has been really getting lost at most rock shows, people just don't want to interact anymore. The other thing that really impressed me, was that every song brought something new to the table, some new lighting scheme, or some insanely massive stunt. Such as Gene Simmons' fire breathing, blood spewing flying into the rafters antics, or Tommy Thayers guitar solo, which involved shooting fireballs from his guitar, setting off explosives in the lighting rig, and making dummy lights fall from the ceiling. On one of the final songs, Love Gun, Paul Stanley got onto a little rod it looked like, and flew out into the audience, to a small stage right next to the sound booth, something that made you feel even closer to a band that is giving you their all.

Overall I would have to say this was probably one of the most impressive concerts I've seen production wise (definitely up there with Britney Spears) but the bands attitude and willingness to please the audience, and the audiences willingness to interact cemented it in a definite top 3 position in my favorite concerts of all time.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Creed and Staind

Sorry that the posts have been quite spacious, I have been pretty busy with school, practice, learning tunes, all that great stuff!

Well, last night I went to a concert I have been waiting for for almost 8 years. When word of the Creed reunion reached me, I was generally excited and optimistic about the situation. I have some very distinct memories involving their songs, and I fell in love with one of their songs, One Last Breath, during some strange times in my life in middle school, and since it has been a mainstay of my iTunes library. Also I gotta say their other hits generally are great tunes that I can enjoy singing along too, however horrible it may sound.

I was reluctant to buy a ticket until a few weeks ago, due to the fact I figured the cheapest ticket would be somewhere around $50. I managed to catch a ticket for about $20, right near the the rear of the main level.
So yesterday I hopped on the 94 bus, and made my way to Minneapolis, grabbed some Chipotle, and headed on down to the Target Center, which I expected to be swamped with teens, and people around my age. When I got there I was surprised to find that there was a fairly large mix of individuals around 30-40, people wearing a lot of old Creed shirts from tours from the early 2000s. So I get to my seat very early, just to hang out and soak it all in, as I am known to do. I left to grab a quick drink, when I realized all of the TVs in the halls had the Twins game on, bottom of the 9th. So I stood amongst the crowds, cheered on my Twinks, and managed to only catch a glimpse of the first opener, Like A Storm. When they came onstage, I went in quickly, and was driven out quickly. The basic vibe I got off of them was something like Fall Out Boy meets Trivium with really bad singing. It was not a good mixture, so I quickly got back to my game. It was from that post that I heard an abomination of sound waves, a horribly shoddy cover of Alice in Chains' Man in the Box. I just about did a kamikaze dive to the soundboard so no one else would lose their mind. Nothing like the Twins to distract you from an abomination...
The Twins tie the game up, go to the 11th, and I go to my seat just as Staind takes the stage. At this point I realize that a large part of the crowd is here solely for Staind, but I figure that Creed's fans are just waiting to show up till just before they take the stage. I also begin to notice how great the lighting rig for this tour looks. Everything is extremely well calibrated, and looks great. I am a mainstream Staind fan, I have always liked their tunes, and can connect somewhat with some lyrics contained within. I was extremely surprised by how great Staind sounded through the house (and very happy at this point about Target Center's 1 million dollar sound upgrading.) I found new song that I enjoyed and also connected with, so I will definitely be checking them out again sometime in the near future.

At this point I go back out to find a stunning victory by my twins (go twins,) and head back. After waiting around, next to some 30 year old man wearing a Call of Duty shirt, the lights hit. typical tension builds, and the band comes onstage and rips into a song from their new "money maker" Full Circle. At this point I notice that there is an absolutely stunning amount of empty seats, even the sections next to the stage have wide open gaps in them.

The beginning of the show, as could be expected is all new stuff that neither I, or most people there care about. I am here for the tunes everyone knows, and can sing along with. At this point it becomes painfully clear that the successful reunions of the past few years are what this is supposed to be like. And it failed miserably. The band sounded solid, but Scott Stapp, known to have had substance problems, (not anymore) cannot even hold a note. Literally. Every not fell flat, and none reached their desired location. To me Scott Stapp, who has always been notorious as a not-so-solid singer should just hang it up, or actually try for once. When we get to the good tunes that I know, they end up falling flat on their faces, Stapp seeming uninspired, and almost like he just isn't trying.
This blatant money-grab reunion seems to be deflating before it's even finished, as I found out this morning that the crowd was somewhere around a measly 4,000 attendees, most likely the lowest ever seen at the Target Center. Not a single upper level seat was sold.
In the end, some of my favorite songs were just butchered, I felt a huge amount of un-inspiration in the new material, save for Mark Tremonti and the rest of the rhythm section, who at this point should just stick with the much better Alter Bridge. If this tour somehow survives and goes anywhere else, save us all the pain and drop the opener, and make it a Staind concert.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Quick Update!

Hey everyone! sorry I haven't been to too many concerts lately, but with the sumer rush coming in, I'll be doing plenty more updates! but until then, I have started a new blog, where I review albums and such from my past, and how they have impacted me on a personal level, so please check it out until I post a new concert blog sometime in the next month! thanks for reading!


Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Elton John & Billy Joel

Rarely can it be said that you have seen two of the forerunners of a genre on the same stage in the same night. A packed house of 19,960 people got a chance to see that last night at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul when Elton John and Billy Joel brought their Face 2 Face tour to the Twin Cities for the third time. I was lucky enough to join some family and friends in attending this extremely unique concert.

First off, may I suggest to never attend a concert without earplugs if you have ear infections, I must say I have learned this the hard way, and it was not fun! But alas, I could have cared less beforehand, for I was on my way to see two of the most famous piano players in the world of singer songwriters. first thing I noticed upon arrival at the Xcel Center was the lack of younger people. I mean come on, even for just Elton I would have been at this concert when I was 12. I believe I counted around 10 people younger than myself, which I find extremely unsettling when compared with todays musical popularity contest.

So after purchasing a wonderful Davanni's personal pan pizza (which they forgot to cut, I must have looked like a fool holding a whole pizza like that...) I found my seat, near the rear of the floor of the auditorium, just in the inclined seats. I could tell from this spot that the light show would be stellar, and that this setup would really deliver the volume necessary to get one grooving. So the show starts, with two grand pianos rising to the stage, and then out come our friends Elton and Billy. They start off with the the slow and somber "Your Song," a surprising starter for such a large audience. The other surprise, the volume is monumentally un-epic. Granted the light show more than makes up for that in the song "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me," but it seemed quite from where we were sitting. too quite.

So after 4 songs together, Billy exits stage left, and the lights dim as the intro to "Funeral for a Friend" starts coming out the minimalist speaker setup. What happened next was more than unsettling. When Elton and the band roar into "Love Lies Bleeding," the second part to this epic masterpiece, the band sounds like they could care less about how it sounds. Elton turned on band auto-pilot. And I must also say, as a bass player myself, the bassist was good, but his tone did not match the music at all. Let's just say that a Jaco Pastorius bass tone does not belong in the Elton John band. Granted, the band got their chops together around the time that "Levon" came on, was that I really started to enjoy it. After very faithful renditions of "Daniel" (of course named after myself) and "Rocket Man" I felt a little tap on my shoulder. I look behind my shoulder to see my aunt, signaling us to come up the steps with her and follow her to the higher ranks, the Suite Level.

This was probably the most epic turning point ever in a concert. We follow her upstairs, to her companies suite. Just so happens that it is directly next to the stage. Probably the most perfect view of any concert you could ever find. We were able to catch the end of Elton's set from this ever-beautiful view, and thoroughly enjoyed watching Elton rip it up through his closer, "Crocodile Rock."

And then, without pause, Billy Joel enters the stage. And here comes surprise #2 of the evening. Billy Joel absolutely KILLED IT. Having a perfect mix of music, a killer band, humor, and plain old courtesy towards the audience. He brought his band through killer versions of "Movin' Out," "It's Still Rock and Roll," and my favorite of the night "River of Dreams," which had a killer break where Prince's "1999" was played for a minute or so, though Joel seemed less than pleased, calling it a "Rock 'n Roll Fuck Up." Joel then finished off his set, roaring through some more classics, until Elton triumphantly returned to the stage with him.

Seeing these two men on stage together is nothing short of unique, in that their chemistry musically and comedically is perfect. They continued to rock on through Elton's "The Bitch is Back," with both backing bands, and with the ultimate vigor that every live bands searches for. After a killer Beatles medley containing "Birthday" and "Back in the U.S.S.R." and a mind-blowing "Bennie and the Jets" the backing musicians left (or rather sank through this state of the art stage,) and Elton and Billy finished the show together, singing each others songs, "Candle in the Wind" and "Piano Man," a perfect end to the night.

I am in awe that these two men, with full backing bands, could make this whole show flow so smoothly as it did. Though ticket prices were more than steep, this is truly one of those occasions where any price is easily justifiable, and will easily become a memory that nobody in attendance will forgot anywhere in the future.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

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