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  • Roger Waters @ Oracle Arena 12/03/10

    7. Dez. 2010, 7:21

    mercurystatic and I saw Roger Waters of Pink Floyd perform The Wall at the Oracle Arena on Friday.

    I think I bought the tickets 4 or 5 months ago so I've been looking forward to this concert for a very, very long time. I was a little bit worried that it'd just never live up to my expectations.

    It was to start at 8:00pm. We got there at around 7:15 or so, so we were plenty early. "I wonder who's going to open for Roger Waters?" I asked mercurystatic. I mean who can open for such a legend of rock and roll?

    We got our seats which were at the upper balcony, way far away from the stage and with a big array of speakers between us and the circular screen that would show a lot of the videos and images for the concert. Oh well. I was still certain that it would be a great show.

    On the stage "The Wall" was partially built and spanned across the entire stage and surrounding seats. Each brick was probably 2'x1' and was its own light-emitting screen so that The Wall was a giant video screen. The center was only one brick high before the show started and the sides were anywhere from 3 to 5 bricks high, I believe.

    Turns out there was no opening band. I found that a little weird. I mean, yeah, no one can even come close to Roger Waters/Pink Floyd but you gotta have something to prime the audience. I'm always annoyed by how long I have to wait for the headliner to come out after the opening act, but now I realize that it really gets the crowd warmed up and eager to see who they paid to see.

    The concert started out with that famous audio clip from Spartacus. "I am Spartacus! I am Spartacus! I am Spartacus!" Each time we heard the line a spotlight would shine down on the crowd at the floor; it was a really cool effect.

    Waters got right into the wall after that intro, playing In the Flesh?. I've seen Which One's Pink? perform this song live, but there's something about seeing Waters perform it that just makes it incredible.

    I mean, at the end of the song a model plane flew down from the ceiling and crashed into The Wall, knocking a big portion of it down and spitting a plume of flame several feet into the air. Jesus it was amazing. And all in the first 4 minutes.

    David Gilmour wasn't there (of course) but the guitarist in his place was very, very good. That especially came through during Another Brick in the Wall (Part 1). The partially completed wall turned a sort of blood red. It's hard to describe the video shown on the wall; if I had to explain it it was almost like red, ominous, intense clouds flowing down the wall fairly quickly. It really went well with the guitar part at the beginning of the song.

    Then the lyrics. God Pink Floyd lyrics are amazing.

    "Daddy's flown across the ocean...
    Daddy, what'dyou leave behind for me!?
    All in all it was all just a brick in the wall
    All in all it was all just bricks in the wall..."

    Gives me chills just typing it.

    The Wall on the stage got a little higher.

    Between Another Brick in the Wall and The Happiest Days of Our Lives, when the helicopter sound effects played, a spotlight pointed at the audience started "hovering" off the ground and sort of floating from side to side, sweeping over the audience as if looking for someone. Eventually it focused in on one spot:

    "YOU! YES YOU! STAND STILL LADDY!"

    And there it was, a giant marionette of "the teacher" with his hammer head on the right hand side of the stage. And that intense beginning to The Happiest Days of Our Lives started playing.

    Waters played through the song about the same as it is on the album. That is to say, amazingly.

    And The Wall on the Stage got a little higher.

    And then that scream and straight into Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2) and those famous lyrics:

    "We don't need no education...
    HEY! TEACHER! LEAVE THOSE KIDS ALONE!"

    Before the chorus of children started playing a group of young kids rushed the stage to dance and perform during the song. It was pretty cute. They must have been local kids because they had a simple routine that they kinda messed up; but it was still entertaining and nice to see that Waters was including them for the big show.

    Goodbye Blue Sky is another fan favorite and the performance was very good. The visuals played on "The Wall" screen were similar to the ones played in the movie but not exactly the same. A lot of war imagery and birds and planes and black and white and red. And of course it transitioned perfectly into Empty Spaces. The visuals here were basically an extension to what was in the movie; the overhead circular screen played the animated flower sequence and The Wall played their stems or vines or whatever they were as they "reacted" to each other. It was good. And it was the extended version from the movie, of course.

    And The Wall on the stage got higher still.

    During Young Lust we were treated to images of naked women. Halright.

    During One of My Turns we had the usual visuals of the groupie in Pink's hotel room with her usual chatter: "This place is bigger than our apartment!... Wanna take a bath?"

    During Don't Leave Me Now a huge marionette of the wife monster came down on the left side of the stage. It was hard to see from where I sat, but amazing nonetheless.

    By now The Wall was almost entirely built. All that was left were the final two tracks from the first disc: Another Brick in the Wall (Part 3) and Goodbye Cruel World.

    "Goodbye cruel world, there's nothing you can say
    to make me change my mind...
    goodbye"

    And with that, the final brick was put into the wall.

    ::Intermission::

    A beautiful, calming guitar part. A spacey keyboard part.

    "Hey you out there in the cold
    Feeling lonely, getting old can you feel me?"

    The whole band at this point was behind The Wall. Roger himself was behind the wall at times, only showing himself on the big circular screen above center stage. Roger and the band came in front of the wall, but not until after the audience felt a barrier between us and the performers, just like how Waters felt when he wrote the piece.

    One of the saddest songs on the album Nobody Home was one of the saddest songs of the concert. The lyrics just resonate with me, and Waters did a good job with the performance. A small section of The Wall opened up and revealed Waters in what looks to be a hotel room, by himself, watching a TV.

    "I've got a strong urge to fly,
    But I've got nowhere to fly to, fly to, fly to, fly to..."

    Bring the Boys Back Home was full of much pomp and circumstance, of course. The Wall showed images of war torn areas and showed anti-war messages.

    And then Comfortably Numb.

    I have to say, I was somewhat underwhelmed by this performance. I think it was just impossible to live up to my own expectations for it.

    First off, Waters is getting old. He's been performing this album for a loooong time. It just didn't seem.... sincere. I don't know it's hard to put my finger on it now.

    And then what's worse is that Gilmour has promised to sing Comfortably Numb at one of the performances on this tour, and I was really, really hoping that it would be this one. And it wasn't, of course. And the replacement singer just wasn't up to par with Gilmour. Sorry, but it's true. When I'm hoping for the best even great doesn't cut it. I didn't let it bother me too much though. It's still one of my favorite songs of all time.

    The visuals for The Trial were basically exactly what they were from the movie, with the solicitor and judge. One notable difference was during the lines like,

    "Crazy, toys in the attic, I am crazy..."

    Where The Wall appeared to be animated such that it spinned around, a neat effect.

    At the end of the song "Tear down the wall! Tear down the wall!" they actually tore down the wall. The whole thing came toppling down, completely destroyed.

    After a minute or so the band members came on stage to play a sort of acoustic, semi-improvised-sounding rendition of the final song, Outside the Wall. Waters was even showing his stuff on the trumpet. It was a nice way to finish out the concert.

    There was no encore. The house lights went on and everyone left what would probably be the greatest show they would ever see.

    Another Brick in the Wall







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  • Massive Attack @ The Greek Theater at UC Berkeley 11/6/10

    9. Nov. 2010, 4:44

    mercurystatic saw Massive Attack at the Greek Theater at UC Berkeley on Saturday night.

    Ho man, it was a series of unfortunate events.

    First of all, for some reason I got it in my head that the concert started at 8:00. Probably because the last.fm event says it starts at 8:00. I didn't think to check the starting time until 6:45 and was like... oh shit let's go.

    So we set off towards Berkeley and hit hella traffic. Pissed me off. We were just barely crawling and it was all uphill so I was constantly rolling back whenever we set off again. At one point someone who had no business that close to my rear bumper honked at me. "I obviously have a manual transmission, dick head! Give me room to start!" Idiot.

    We finally got to Berkeley proper and there was more traffic. Stop signs everywhere and damn college kids walking around slowing down the cars. By this point it was already 7:35 or so. We drove by the theater and could hear music. We were trying to see if it was Massive Attack or not. The last.fm event made it seem like Thievery Corporation were headlining so we weren't sure if we'd miss Massive Attack.

    My inner rage was rising the longer and longer we drove and the chances we'd miss one of the concerts I was most looking forward to steadily rose. We drove down a steep hill and found a parking garage way far away from the theater.

    We pulled up to the dude and he asked for $15. I had $2. So we had to find an ATM. "There might be some on Euclid" the parking garage dude told us.

    Euclid is extremely busy and the streets around it are very steep hills. We did one lap around the streets and didn't see any but there were plenty of restaurants and what not that probably had them inside. Completely and utterly frustrated to the point of smashing my fists against my car's steering wheel, I let mercurystatic out to go get money while I parked in a red zone a couple streets down. She managed to get the cash for the parking garage. By this time it's well after 8:00pm.

    My clutch was burning and I was irritated and frustrated and just generally in a bad mood.

    We speed walked our way to the theater. It was all uphill and I was glad that it was pretty cold out or else I would have been a sweaty mess when we got there.

    I got my tickets and Visa Signature VIP passes from Will Call and we quickly went through the ticket takers. It's an outside venue and we didn't really know where to go. So we just walked... up. Up these flights of concrete stairs, past the huge line for the restrooms and the huge lines for the outdoor drink stands. We walked to the very top where people were standing and watching Thievery Corporation. Guards with flashlights were telling people to stand behind a yellow line painted on the ground. It was a pretty shitty place to stand and watch the show, from behind that yellow line.

    But we had VIP passes. Surely we wouldn't have to stand way up here and barely see over the concrete safety wall separating us from the rest of the theater. I asked the guard what our passes would get us and he looked at them and me and said "not much".

    Idiot.

    I finally read the little piece of paper they gave us and saw that we had all of section 4 reserved for VIP members. So we went to section 4. Finally we were settled in, nearly 2 hours after we had left.

    I asked the woman sitting next to us, "has Massive Attack already come on?"

    "Of course not," was her answer. Yes. I could finally relax and know that I'd see their whole performance. Things were right with the world.

    Thievery Corporation finished their set. They were good, but I was there for Massive Attack.

    Massive Attack came on to hugely loud applause. All of the 30- and 40-somethings started toking up. I found it mildly amusing. I also kinda wanted some. They had the same light array behind them that they had when I saw them at the Warfield several months before. And they had a similar lineup.

    They brought on Horace Andy for Angel and Girl I Love You and Splitting the Atom. Martina Topley-Bird came out for Babel, Psyche, and a special rendition of Teardrop.

    Nearly the entire time, quotes about democratic rebellion and "sticking it to the man" or statistics about what sad shape our planet is in would display on the large light array behind the performers. It could be kind of distracting at times, but I think it actually added to the whole experience. There's something about juxtaposing beautiful, mesmerizing, psychedelic music with stark stats and thoughts that bring you back to reality. They went well together.

    When the quotes and stats weren't displayed, there were other visuals on the display: some of videos and pictures and others with less structure and more surrealism. Each visualization went very well with the music. Mercurystatic said after the show that the lights for this show were second only to Muse's at the Oracle Arena and I'm inclined to agree.

    Besides the background display they had a horizontal array of spotlights behind them which would slowly cycle between red and white -- each spotlight changing independently from the others but usually in a coordinated way -- and sweep up and down over the crowd and performers. There were no spotlights at the rear of the theater so all lighting was done from the scaffolding around and over the stage.

    One of the last songs they played was Safe From Harm with Shara Nelson on vocals. It's one of my new Massive Attack favorites.

    So they had played a LOT of my favorites during their main set. I was completely happy with it. But they didn't do Atlas Air, which I was really hoping for!

    After a really, really short break they came back from the encore. "Please be Atlas Air, please be Atlas Air," I said to myself.

    The simple drum beat followed by the unmistakable organ that begins Atlas Air started playing and the crowd went ballistic.

    The visuals were beautiful. The singing was mesmerizing and the guitar work took the experience out of this world. They stretched a song that's 7:40 on the album to nearly 10:00 during the concert. It was the only thing they played for their encore, but it's all they needed.

    Bleeding amazing.

    I had a huge slice of pizza after and it tasted delicious. A great end to a great night, despite the stressful beginning.








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  • Florence + The Machine @ Fox Theater 11/5/10

    9. Nov. 2010, 3:30

    So mercurystatic and I saw Florence + the Machine last Friday at the Fox Theater in Oakland.

    I bought the tickets a day before they sold out on Ticketmaster and they came with the disclaimer "OBSTRUCTED VIEW". Ooh, sounds classy, I thought to myself.

    I was wondering what would obstruct our view. I had looked up from the GA floor during the Broken Bells show and couldn't really see anything that would be in the way. Well we got to the theater and walked up several flights of stairs. Handed the user our ticket. "Oh yeah, you gotta go up those stairs to get to your seats." So we climbed even higher.

    We found our seats on the balcony, and we were pretty damn high up. Luckily our view wasn't particularly obstructed: there was a guard rail between us and the stage but you could see through it pretty well and we could see right over it when we stood up.

    The first two bands came on and left. They were entirely forgettable. Sorry guys.

    At 10:00pm on the nose Florence and her band came on. She went right into a great song (I forget which one) and I was enjoying myself for all of 5 seconds. Then "it" turned on.

    "It" was this goddamn light on the floor. It was this hexagonal LED array that shone with the power of a thousand suns. And it was aimed right at my retina.

    It was excruciating. To the point where I couldn't even look at the stage or even anywhere near the stage. I had to look at the wall to my right. I got really frustrated. None of the pictures I took would come out because they were saturated with the demon light. The wall I was staring at was fast becoming pretty boring (I mean it did hardly anything the whole show! Such a boring wall). And I knew that Florence was putting on a great show that I couldn't even watch. In fact, the better I could tell she was doing the angrier and more frustrated I would get because I knew I could have been having such a better experience.

    The first half of the concert probably saw this light on 90% of the time. I mean I'm sure from the floor it looked really awesome. And the technicians did a good job picking an LED light because it would minimize the spread of the light beam, but it sucked for me.

    The second half was greatly improved because the light was probably off for 90% of the time. Finally a could enjoy the show. And what a show it was!

    Florence Welch wore a long, flowing, white dress that was absolutely gorgeous (shut up, it's not gay). And it has these.... frilly things... that hung down her elbows. She had a wireless mic and she would dance and twirl across the entire stage, occasionally returning back to her red rose-adorned mic stand and floor tom.

    The whole production was filled with a lot of energy. And the lighting effects (besides that goddamned LED array) were spectacular for the Fox Theater. Probably the best I've seen at that venue: patterned spot lights that danced on the floor and then swept up over the audience. Blue patterns that would adorn the entire, beautiful ceiling.

    She definitely got the audience (which were mostly girls; there were 9 girls and 4 guys in my row and the one in front of mine) to get up and dance and sing throughout most of the concert. Even I got into it when she sang Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up) and Dog Days Are Over.

    She finished her set but came back for an encore after a short break. I don't remember all the songs she played, but I know the last one was Dog Days. The crowd was very happy that she finally played her hit single.

    Great concert. Would have been better if I could have actually seen the first half.








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  • Two Door Cinema Club @ Slim's 11/4/10

    6. Nov. 2010, 22:39

    mercurystatic and I saw Two Door Cinema Club at Slim's in San Francisco on Thursday.

    The location of Slim's is great. It's at the southern most point of San Francisco city proper, so you don't have to worry about driving on Van Ness and dealing with San Francisco's famous hills in a manual car. You get off the 101 just after it splits into the 80 and you're there.

    We got to the concert really, really early: nearly an hour before the first band would go on. It was a small place. We got our tickets from will call, got our hands stamped, walked up some stairs and... whoa. We were in. There's no lobby or anything. You just walk in and there's the one big room where everyone stands and watches the stage set up to the left of the entrance.

    Straight ahead on the other end of the venue is a bar. And two bars to the right of that one! I didn't pay that much attention to the liquor situation; I was too distracted by the discovery that they had Big Daddy IPA on tap. I overheard the bartender explain to the girl in front of me the differences between all the stuff on tap which is always a good sign. When it was my turn I asked for the IPA. The barkeep gave me an approving nod and I paid him the $5 I owed. Pretty good deal for concert alcohol.

    Enough about booze. The venue! Like I said it was small. I think it must have been a restaurant in a past life because the ceiling was fairly low for a concert venue. And there was a "balcony" on the side opposite of the stage that was filled with dinner tables and chair: the kind you'd find in a San Francisco higher-end restaurant.

    The wall opposite the entrance -- along the longer portion of the rectangular venue -- were made mostly of brick. The ceiling has exposed rafter beams with sound-deadening panels installed as an afterthought.

    There were several black support pillars extending from the middle of the floor that were cleverly turned into small tables to put drinks and food. Mercurystatic and I managed to grab a spot near one of the "tables" nearest the stage so I had a place to put my beer and something for us to rest against.

    Even an hour before the first band went up there was a fairly sizable crowd packed in in front of the stage. They were probably local fans for the opening bands: personal friends and classmates and stuff. Or maybe not I don't know.

    The first band - Funeral Party -- came on at 8:00 and I turned to Mercurystatic and asked her, "how old do you think they are?" They had those teenager mustaches. You know the kind. The kind where they've discovered they can grow facial hair so they try to show it off. But really it's a pittily, sad amount that they can grow and so all they really end up with is a sketch-stache and... that's it. Their look kind of complimented their musical style: sloppy-ish, loud, teenage anger rock.

    I mean that in the nicest way. I actually mentioned that I thought they were pretty good for a small venue opening, garage band band. And their keyboard player also played the wood block, cow bell, and a couple other percussion instruments that added a unique sound to their performance.

    The lights were your basic small time concert lights that didn't really go with the music. And I don't know what it is about small venues but they just can't get the audio levels right. The singer is ALWAYS too quiet and the guitars just way too loud and muddled. It's such a common problem that I don't understand why the technicians can't just... fix it. Whatever. The levels eventually got better as the night went on.

    The first band played their set and after a short wait the second band -- Generationals -- came on. They had a girl drummer! Gotta love that. Their lead singer played bass off to the left of the stage which made for a somewhat strange arrangement. And the drummer often harmonized with him which made for some nice-sounding vocals. I'd say that their music was a bit more "mature" than the first bands'. It was good. I enjoyed it.

    They ended their set at 9:30 or so. So we had to wait half an hour for Two Door Cinema Club to come on.

    By the time TDCC came on the place was absolutely packed. To the point where we had to applaud for them with our hands over our heads because there was a person 4 inches in front of us.

    The lights were better for the headliners, of course. As were the audio levels. These guys only have studio album out and all the songs are the kind where, if you like the band, you really like all of their songs. So the crowd always cheered when they recognized the next song that was played. But some songs they really liked and would cheer even louder.

    I've only listened to their LP a couple times so I wasn't as familiar with their stuff as most the other audience members were. But their music is a kind of electropop, danceable rock that's hard not to like. Very upbeat -- even more so because it was live and they were obviously excited to be performing -- and with a lot of open high hat on the off beats. It gives it that sort of dance club mmph tzsss mmph tzsss mmph tzss mmph tzss feel. Good stuff. As mercurystatic put it, it makes you want to dance a little.

    Between songs the lead singer would smile and thank the audience for being so awesome; he seemed like a generally nice guy. Plus all the band members have an Irish accent that seems to drop panties in 2.4 seconds flat. And even I have to admit that it's charming.

    They played a great set in an intimate venue with a really good vibe. Everyone was having a good time and the whole experience reflected that.

    Hopefully I'll get to see them again the next time they come stateside. It was a great concert!

  • Gorillaz @ Oracle Arena 10/30/10

    2. Nov. 2010, 6:17

    mercurystatic and I saw the Gorillaz concert at the Oracle Arena last Saturday, the day before Halloween.

    She and I arrived as the opening band N*E*R*D had already started (and after we paid the $30 parking fee!). I'd say about one out of every 10 or so people were dressed up, so it was fun to see the various costumes. I went dressed as Dr. Horrible and got a couple of compliments from the people who recognized who I was.

    The Oracle arena is the Oracle arena, so there's not really much explanation needed. It's a huge sports arena where the Warriors play and most of the seats were occupied. The one weird thing I noticed was that the floor usually reserved for general admission was filled with rows of seats. And mercurystatic noticed that the top level -- the balcony I suppose -- was blocked off. I guess Gorillaz and N*E*R*D can't fill up a venue like Silversun Pickups and Muse can.

    N*E*R*D was apparently pretty popular a while ago? Mercurystatic recognized one or two songs that I had never heard in my entire life. They were decent-ish. A kind of fusion of hip hop and rock with a lot of rap lyrics and guitar riffs. Plus they had two drummers which is always kinda fun. And they had a dancer on each side of the stage which is always really fun.

    I'd say they kinda tried too hard, almost. The leader singer kept talking about how "they" are angry that we're all trying to be individuals. I'm not entirely sure who "they" are and why they don't want us to be individuals.... The government? The media? Our parents? I don't know. But he did say reading is cool and so is being smart so... good.

    It's also kind of hard to get the crowd riled up by mentioning Oakland. Usually a band can say "HELLO [INSERT CITY NAME HERE]!" and get the crowd to cheer and hoot and holler. Doesn't quite work in the bay area because half the people are from San Francisco, and they're not gonna get excited for some east bay city. Stuck up snobs, those peninsula-ers. He tried to get some cheers out of NorCal pride, but then the SoCal people get a bit disinterested.

    So anyways, the Gorillaz. They were great! There were a ton of people on the stage at any one time. Damon Albarn was always on stage along with a gaggle of string players, a horn section, some guitarists, various rappers, Little Dragon and Bobby Womack made some guest appearances, of course.

    Always behind the performers was a huge lit-up "GORILLAZ" in all-caps block letters. The letters could all change colors to match the mood of what was playing and to match the images/video playing on the giant screen above them.

    The show began with a video of Murdoc looking at the audience through a key hole, talking about how the "warm up band" was going on stage and so it wouldn't be long until they would be able to play. The video transitioned to showing us sweeping shots of the "Plastic Beach" as Orchestral Intro from Plastic Beach started playing. Then we were greeted with a video of Snoop Dogg performing Welcome to the World of the Plastic Beach. He wasn't there to perform in person, but it was still damn cool to hear him.

    The videos being played on the giant screen were generally pretty interesting. They often times had the animated Gorillaz characters singing along with Damon or the other singers. The problem was that since the Oracle Arena is so big there is significant delay in sound from one part of the arena to another. So my guess is if you were sitting anywhere other than right up front the video and audio were a bit out of sync.

    Still, the videos definitely added to the experience rather than detract from it like the images shown during the Broken Bells concert at the Fox Theater. For whatever reason I really liked the video during Dirty Harry of the choir of curiously animated children.

    A lot of the songs sounded different from their studio versions, especially anything with rap in it. But the differences didn't detract from the songs at all.

    They played a good mix of songs from all three of their albums. I was afraid that it'd be very Plastic Beach-heavy, but it really wasn't. Plus I'm finding that I like Plastic Beach more and more as I continue listening to it. Plus there's something about hearing it live that makes it better. But yes it was a good mix of songs from all three, including a good amount from their self titled album, Gorillaz.

    Damon and the gang ended their set after playing a decent amount of songs including favorites like Dirty Harry, 19-2000, DARE, and Superfast Jellyfish, but they left out some key tracks!

    Luckily after a short break they came back on for an absolutely great encore.

    They started off with Cloud of Unknowing to show off Womack's vocals and then moved on to Feel Good Inc., Clint Eastwood, Don't Get Lost in Heaven (with a real choral section), and Demon Days.

    Now I absolutely love the last three tracks of Demon Days -- I think it's probably the best end of an album I know of -- so ending the concert with those songs was just spectacular. I couldn't ask for anything more.

    It was a great show. Definitely one of the better I've seen. And though I usually like smaller venues more, you gotta hand it to the Oracle Arena. If bands are there you know they have a ton of money to throw around for lighting and cool effects, plus the audio levels are just spot on. It must be an acoustic engineer's wet dream (or perhaps nightmare) to get the sound right in that huge of a space.

    Awesome.











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  • Frightened Rabbit @ The Fillmore 10/10/10

    12. Okt. 2010, 18:11

    mercurystatic, Lady_Jezebel and I saw the Frightened Rabbit concert at the Fillmore this past Sunday evening.

    I had been to this venue once before to see some elctronica band I had never heard of. It's not a terribly impressive theater; the ceiling is relatively low for a concert venue and their is only a single-level dance floor for general admission. A balcony runs along the left and rear walls, but not the right. Two lines of crystal chandeliers run along the rectangular ceiling to provide house lighting. One great thing about this venue, though, was the elevated stage. It was probably 5 feet off the floor which made it easy to see the band clearly no matter where you were.

    The venue was somewhat lackluster but all three bands were terrific. So often you're disappointed by opening bands -- especially if there are more than one -- but both were great.

    I can't remember the name of the first band, but they were a two piece: one guy on a guitar/keyboard and the other taking drums. They both wore button-down light-colored tshirts and looked a lot like brothers. Between songs one audience member asked if they were brothers and the singer said, "nope, we're just two good-looking dudes". That sort of playful interaction with the crowd carried throughout the entire concert. There was a great energy between the performers and the audience.

    The first band played a decent set of songs and they were entertaining to watch. The singer was visibly drunk and kind of stumbling around, grasping his mic stand and generally rocking out. The drummer played with a lot of enthusiasm and great facial expressions. So great that I just had to record 10 seconds or so of his playing.

    The levels were definitely not terribly great: for some reason the vocals at small venues are just never clear and loud enough. The distorted guitar just drowns them out.

    The first band finished their set and after a short period the second band -- Plants and Animals came for theirs.

    They started playing and I immediately had the thought that they sounded a little like Pink Floyd. Of course I think everything sounds like Pink Floyd. But I could swear I was listening to something from The Division Bell. Something about the lead guitar... not really sure what it was.

    This second band had two guitars and no bass (usually). For the first couple songs they didn't really have a lead guitar; both of them played rhythmic parts. The lack of a lead combined with the weak vocal levels made them sound a bit like My Bloody Valentine. They played long, somewhat wandering soundscapes. It was good. That description is close but it doesn't quite capture what they sounded like.

    Their last couple of songs had a bit more direction as the guitarists took turns taking lead. The second half of the last song even had a bass part which I liked. Not the bass part per se but the fact that it was there.

    Plants and Animals finished their set and we all waited for Frightened Rabbit to come on stage. The house lights turned down, blue stage lights came up, and all five members walked onto the stage to a cheering crowd. They immediately started into a song with a keyboard chord intro.

    Apparently it was the wrong chord. Scott Hutchison -- the frontman and lead singer -- stopped the band and told the keyboardist, "I think you're playing the wrong chord." He made a joke about it and the audience laughed. He also explained that they were waiting until 10:10pm to come on stage so that they could start at 10:10 on 10.10.2010! The audience laughed and cheered. Like a said, good energy the entire night.

    I don't remember the set list in detail, but I know that they covered all their hits from The Midnight Organ Fight and a bunch of stuff from The Winter of Mixed Drinks.

    For whatever reason I was expecting a fairly mellow performance. I guess I consider Frightened Rabbit's music to be a bit on the slower, quieter, more laid back end of the musical spectrum. But there was definitely quite a bit of rocking out going on, especially from Hutchinson. When he didn't have to sing into the mic he'd walk towards the front of the stage and make a show out of playing his guitar. Between tracks he would have extended conversations with the crowd, telling stories and jokes and explaining the meanings of the songs. I like it when bands do that. Too often they just play through their set list without actually saying anything besides an occasional thank you. They don't personalize their performance for the crowd. There's just not as much life to the performance. Hutchinson did a good job of keeping the audience entertained.

    But the show definitely had its mellower moments. Before Good Arms vs. Bad Arms everyone except Hutchinson left the stage. The audience was treated a beautiful solo performance of the song. And it wasn't just a straight copy of the studio version, either. It had an extended rhythmic guitar solo in the middle of it and he changed up the pacing of the lyrics slightly. The crowd loved it.

    The band ended their main set with Keep Yourself Warm (I think. Actually maybe they didn't I don't remember). And came back for another three songs after a short break.

    All and all, a great experience. All three bands were entertaining and Frightened Rabbit sounded great.







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  • Frightened Rabbit @ The Fillmore 10/10/10

    12. Okt. 2010, 18:09

    mercurystatic, Lady_Jezebel and I saw the Frightened Rabbit concert at the Fillmore this past Sunday evening.

    I had been to this venue once before to see some elctronica band I had never heard of. It's not a terribly impressive theater; the ceiling is relatively low for a concert venue and their is only a single-level dance floor for general admission. A balcony runs along the left and rear walls, but not the right. Two lines of crystal chandeliers run along the rectangular ceiling to provide house lighting. One great thing about this venue, though, was the elevated stage. It was probably 5 feet off the floor which made it easy to see the band clearly no matter where you were.

    The venue was somewhat lackluster but all three bands were terrific. So often you're disappointed by opening bands -- especially if there are more than one -- but both were great.

    I can't remember the name of the first band, but they were a two piece: one guy on a guitar/keyboard and the other taking drums. They both wore button-down light-colored tshirts and looked a lot like brothers. Between songs one audience member asked if they were brothers and the singer said, "nope, we're just two good-looking dudes". That sort of playful interaction with the crowd carried throughout the entire concert. There was a great energy between the performers and the audience.

    The first band played a decent set of songs and they were entertaining to watch. The singer was visibly drunk and kind of stumbling around, grasping his mic stand and generally rocking out. The drummer played with a lot of enthusiasm and great facial expressions. So great that I just had to record 10 seconds or so of his playing.

    The levels were definitely not terribly great: for some reason the vocals at small venues are just never clear and loud enough. The distorted guitar just drowns them out.

    The first band finished their set and after a short period the second band -- Plants and Animals came for theirs.

    They started playing and I immediately had the thought that they sounded a little like Pink Floyd. Of course I think everything sounds like Pink Floyd. But I could swear I was listening to something from Division Bell. Something about the lead guitar... not really sure what it was.

    This second band had two guitars and no bass (usually). For the first couple songs they didn't really have a lead guitar; both of them played rhythmic parts. The lack of a lead combined with the weak vocal levels made them sound a bit like My Bloody Valentine. They played long, somewhat wandering soundscapes. It was good. That description is close but it doesn't quite capture what they sounded like.

    Their last couple of songs had a bit more direction as the guitarists took turns taking lead. The second half of the last song even had a bass part which I liked. Not the bass part per se but the fact that it was there.

    Plants and Animals finished their set and we all waited for Frightened Rabbit to come on stage. The house lights turned down, blue stage lights came up, and all five members walked onto the stage to a cheering crowd. They immediately started into a song with a keyboard chord intro.

    Apparently it was the wrong chord. Scott Hutchison -- the frontman and lead singer -- stopped the band and told the keyboardist, "I think you're playing the wrong chord." He made a joke about it and the audience laughed. He also explained that they were waiting until 10:10pm to come on stage so that they could start at 10:10 on 10.10.2010! The audience laughed and cheered. Like a said, good energy the entire night.

    I don't remember the set list in detail, but I know that they covered all their hits from The Midnight Organ Fight and a bunch of stuff from The Winter of Mixed Drinks.

    For whatever reason I was expecting a fairly mellow performance. I guess I consider Frightened Rabbit's music to be a bit on the slower, quieter, more laid back end of the musical spectrum. But there was definitely quite a bit of rocking out going on, especially from Hutchinson. When he didn't have to sing into the mic he'd walk towards the front of the stage and make a show out of playing his guitar. Between tracks he would have extended conversations with the crowd, telling stories and jokes and explaining the meanings of the songs. I like it when bands do that. Too often they just play through their set list without actually saying anything besides an occasional thank you. They don't personalize their performance for the crowd. There's just not as much life to the performance. Hutchinson did a good job of keeping the audience entertained.

    But the show definitely had its mellower moments. Before Good Arms vs. Bad Arms everyone except Hutchinson left the stage. The audience was treated a beautiful solo performance of the song. And it wasn't just a straight copy of the studio version, either. It had an extended rhythmic guitar solo in the middle of it and he changed up the pacing of the lyrics slightly. The crowd loved it.

    The band ended their main set with Keep Yourself Warm (I think. Actually maybe they didn't I don't remember). And came back for another three songs after a short break.

    All and all, a great experience. All three bands were entertaining and Frightened Rabbit sounded great.

  • Broken Bells @ The Fox Theater 10/05/10

    7. Okt. 2010, 4:40

    mercurystatic and I saw the Broken Bells concert last night at the Fox Theater in Oakland.

    I've written about the Fox Theater before so I won't go into too much detail. The theater itself is very beautiful and great for watching concerts. The general admission section is huge and divided up into at least three different tiers, each one about 3 feet higher than the one below it. It makes for a great way to get a good view of the band, and unless you're at the very back of one of the tiers and behind a lot of tall people, you can't really find a bad spot. The venue has a very deep red color scheme like many venues in the area. There are fake Arabian-esque windows carved out of the walls and large 12-pointed starburst patterns are carved into the ceiling.

    I said that the venue is good for watching concerts. But it's not so much for listening. More on that later.

    There is a huge stage at the front about as wide as the entire theater, which is good because Broken Bells was made up of a 7-piece band that night. James Mercer was usually at the front and towards the right of the stage while Danger Mouse would switch between drums, keyboard, guitar/bass, sometimes playing multiple instruments during a single song.

    The band members' demeanors more or less matched the music they played; that is, they were pretty chill and laid back. Well, that is, besides the bass player at the very left of the stage. He kept jumping up and down. It was amusing, to say the least.

    I enjoy Broken Bells. I bought their vinyl after just a few listen throughs of their album (it was cheap enough) and as of now The High Road and The Ghost Inside are on my top 20 most played songs on last.fm. Yet somehow I was ultimately underwhelmed at this concert. And I think I know why.

    First off, the opening "band" was just one of the band members playing his own really, really laid back stuff. I kinda wanted to take a nap after he was done. After a little bit Broken Bells came on and started playing. After maybe two songs they played The Ghost Inside, so it felt like they kinda blew their load a little early (forgive the imagery).

    I love The Ghost Inside, but I couldn't help but feel like the sound was just... wobbly and muddy. I don't know if it was the venue or the microphone mixing or what, but I had a hard time differentiating Mercer's voice from the instruments and the instruments from each other. I didn't notice this muddling when I saw Silversun Pickups play, so maybe it was just a poor sound/mic setup...

    This was made worse by the random, washed-out, (intentionally?) grainy, unsynchronized images being played on the giant projector screen behind them. They were mostly geometric patterns -- and sometimes a spinning variation of their album cover -- but they detracted from the music rather than complimenting it. It was especially bad compared to the visuals used by Ratatat at their concert which I wrote about here. Ratatat had an excellent use of visualizations that complimented their music well; what was playing on the screens synched up with what the band was playing. Broken Bells' visuals were just... distracting. I almost wish they didn't have anything.

    Broken Bells played a 45-minute set (hey, they only have one album out) and took a somewhat long break before coming back for a short encore. The encore was enjoyable. I think they played a cover from The Black Keys and they played a reprise to The High Road which was enjoyable.

    Ultimately, I wish so much that I could say I genuinely enjoyed this concert, but I really can't. It was underwhelming, is the best way to put it.

    Oh well, it was still a fun date night and a chance to see a great band. Hopefully they'll come around again, perhaps at a different venue.


    One of the more interesting background images, but what it has to do with the track being played I haven't the slightest...


    You can make out a zoomed in portion of the album cover on the projector screen. Danger Mouse is rockin' the keyboard on this song.


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  • Covers

    5. Okt. 2010, 5:45

    There are some pretty damn good cover songs out there. And since I haven't seen a concert since the last time I wrote (I will tomorrow!), I thought I'd just vomit up some good covers to check out.

    Feeling Good originally written by Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse for the musical The Roar of the Greasepaint—the Smell of the Crowd. Matthew Bellamy — the lead singer of Muse — has a voice that can kind of get on my nerves pretty quickly. And for that reason I have a sort of love-hate relationship with this song. What are you whining about you whiny-voiced bastard? Oh, I guess it's not really that bad. Oh, it's actually pretty good. No wait, no it's not! No, yeah, it is.

    What?

    Check out this version by Nina Simone, which I think is much better. Plus the animated typography is just plain cool. Feeling Good


    Umbrella originally written by The-Dream, Christopher Stewart, Kuk Harrell and Jay-Z and performed by Rihanna. I have to say I like the cover better. It just seems like the lyrics make a lot more sense with this style of music than the R&B/Hip-hop version.

    Don't get me wrong they're both good. Just like this one more.

    Hey Ya which was originally written by André 3000 of Outkast. What I said about Umbrella goes for this song, too. I think I've already shared both of these.

    Electric Feel. I just heard this tonight which was what gave me the idea for this post. I like both versions. The first time I heard California Girls I kinda liked it. But it's definitely one of those songs that has absolutely no staying power. Just radio gaga. Electric Feel is good.

    With a Little Help From My Friends - Gian Cruz, a cover of Joe Crocker's cover of The Beatles' song. Dude's talented.

    And of course, my cover of Death Cab for Cutie's I Will Follow You Into the Dark :)

    Oh, and did you know Maroon 5 came out with a new album: Hands All Over? Recently, too: September 21. You can check out the music video for their single here. Can you believe that Songs About Jane came out in 2002? I remember listening to that album with my mom. I remember hearing "Makes Me Wonder" on the radio.
  • Ratatat @ The Warfield 07/17/10

    21. Sep. 2010, 18:24

    mercurystatic and I saw Ratatat in concert on Friday night at The Warfield.

    Let me just first say: Hipster-tastic. Holy cow were the demographics at this show entertaining. It was the most homogeneous group of people I have ever seen at a concert. A sea of 20-somethings wearing fake, thick-rimmed glasses, scarves, and ironic tshirts/V-necks filled the entire venue. People over 30 were very few and far between.

    Mercurstatic and I sat in the balcony section, about 1/3 of the way up. It was the first time I'd seen a concert from the balcony, but it was still very much enjoyable. From our vantage point I could see the GA crowd packed in very, very tightly below. The Warfield is large and amphitheater-shaped (as opposed to someplace like The Regency which is rectangular). Like most venues it has a highly vaulted ceiling; this particular ceiling had a large painting towards the front of musicians and artists flying from one wall to the other. The walls and ceiling were otherwise a standard velvet-y red with embossed, cream-colored plant decorations.

    The concert started an hour behind schedule. The opening act was... not good. They were a 4 piece band with no bass player. Just three guitarists -- one guitarist who also sang -- and a drummer. The hipsters behind us cheered when the band finished their set. I think I heard a "thank God!" from their direction.

    At just after 11:00pm the house lights as well as the stage lights went down and Ratatat came on the stage. They immediately started playing a song from LP3, but I forget which one. Never did spotlights illuminate either of the band members during this song. "That's a little weird," I thought. But I figured it was just for this song.

    There was a large projector screen probably 20 feet across at the rear of the stage that showed visualizations for the music. The front of the stage was flanked by two opaque screens each about 8 feet tall and 3 feet wide and with projectors behind them. These were possibly the coolest part of the show; images on these screens had a cool 3d effect that was so realistic I thought that the people projected on them were real! Well at least for a couple seconds...

    The concert went on, but Ratatat was basically in perpetual darkness and the audience "had" to make due with watching the three screens while listening to the performance. This would have been okay except one of the band members had a habit of standing right in front of the projector and blocking the images for the large rear screen.

    Before the show started I was worried that everyone on the balcony would remain seated when the performance started. But nearly everybody on the balcony stood and danced for the entire concert. I was very happy about that. Every now and again people would get tired and sit, but then something like Wildcat would come on or the beat would drop for a song like Drugs and everyone would cheer and get up again.

    They played a great mix of songs from LP4, LP3, and Classics. My favorites -- Wildcat, Loud Pipes, Lex, Neckbrace, Drugs,

    The concert was perpetually high energy save maybe the 3 minutes of Mahalo. After each song one of the band members would pause briefly to say "thank you" to the crowd.

    After the main set Ratatat said they were going to "take a short break". I thought it was going to be an intermission between two long sets, but apparently they just followed up with a short, two-song encore. It was the first time I'd heard a band promise to come back for an encore.

    Despite the weird lighting and our nosebleed seating, mercurystatic and I definitely enjoyed the concert! I can't wait for them to come around again!




    This is how they normally looked. Backlit and kind of hard to see.


    The only time we would really see them was when they played these light up toms.


    Don't they look real! I think they look real.