Monday, April 18, 2016

Kevin Smith @ Comedy Zone

So I stumbled onto this show by mistake.  Picked up a Creative Loafing at Laurel Market on Friday, which I'm at randomly on a Friday.  This was one of their highlights for the upcoming week.  New nothing of it.  They had only advertised an 8pm show, but that was sold out and this 10.15 show was added.  After a couple of calls to Mike we had 2 tickets and only had to wait the weekend to see Kevin Smith.

Not being 1005 sure where the Comedy Zone was, Mike and I got there a little early, scoped out the sign and went and sat at La Revolucion and had a beer and a couple of tacos before the show.  Half way through dinner a line started to form around the bar, for us to finally realize that to get into the Comedy Zone you had to go into the basement of the restaurant.  We didn't get in until 10.45, due to the first show running long.  It's gonna be a late night.

We were one of the last seated so it wan't long after that Kevin Smith hit the stage.  Like the Jim Jefferies review from November, I'm not going to try and recreate jokes, but needless to say it was another funny night.  Unlike Jeffries, Smith just tells stories from his life.  And it's a (self-admittedly) good one.  He told us that he was going to tell a story to get comfortable on stage and then open the floor to questions, which he stated, due to his ranting tangents, would only be 2 or 3.

His opening story was about his texting relationship with his daughter and then the audience asked him about:
1) What he thought about, and what were the chances of him directing a blockbuster like Superman v Batman.  The movie he loved, the thought of directing something like that does nothing for him.  He prefers to shoot dialogue/feeling scenes rather than the explosions and effects that goes into a large budget movie.
2) How he works with his Directors of Photography.  He had a friend do it for the longest time until success came knocking, and Harvey Weinstein would only let him use a particular DP for Dogma.  It was great how he made a tragedy - telling his current DP and also girlfriend at the time (Joey Laurence Adams) that they would have no part in the movie.
3) What people he wished he could sit down and smoke a joint with.  While the answers of George Carlin and Alan Rickman were not surprising, the stories that went along with them were heartfelt and funny.
All those stories also had their side tangents.  I can't remember what went with each story, but antic-dotes of Jason Mewes, directing the an episode of Netflix's Flash, getting Johnny Depp to be in Tusk, being an extra on Law and Order and Ben Affleck just made it all the more funnier.

I also liked the whole message that he had.  If you have a passion for something, take the risk and do it.  He wrote, self-funded, directed, shot and then tried to get Clerks released when he started.  All because he loved movies and comics and thought that no-one was making these things for his friends. That initial risk has paid off into, what Smith says, a life that not even he could have dreamed of. Definitely food for thought.

At 1.30 am we had laughed ourselves senseless and left the Comedy Zone for what had to be one of the funniest Monday nights in a long time.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Pearl Jam @ Bon Secours Arena, Greenville, SC

Man this is a good show, even better than when I saw them a couple of years back in Charlotte.  But in light of what happened a few nights later in Raleigh, I am a little bit disappointed in the band, and for their fans.

I drove down to Greenville amidst a family virus crisis.  One of the boys has had it, Amy and the other one got it today.  I need to get out of town (be as far away from the bug as I can) and have some fun - I'm sure my turn is soon.  

Greenville on a Saturday night is a madhouse.  I thought I'd sit at a bar and get some dinner, but there was so many people around I couldn't even get into Jersey Mikes.  I ended up walking the half mile to Bon Secours Arena and paying to much for barbeque inside the arena.

I couldn't believe my seat.  3rd row, on the side, about half way down the arena.  After talking with folks around me, it turns out I am sitting with Ten Club members, who have been for 16 plus years.  Ten Club tickets get sold in pairs, and with 17 seats in the rows, I scored a great seat with some hardcore Pearl Jam fans.  Just after 8 the band came on and opened with Corduroy.  They then went straight into Go, Animal and Daughter.  The crowd was delirious.  Because I'm not the huge fan everyone surrounding me is, it took Eddie Vedder to say, after Indifference, that they had just played the Vs album from start to finish.  Apparently never done before.  There were still 6 more songs to finish the set, toped off with an awesome Spin The Black Circle and Do The Evolution finish.  A quick break before the encore.  Highlight here for me was Pink Floyd's Comfortably Numb.  If most band's finished with Porch, you would think you had just seen a great show.  But Pearl Jam weren't finished.  A second encore started with the band playing Last Kiss to the crowd sitting behind the stage.  Better Man was fantastic and obviously a crowd favorite.  Vedder is almost drowned out by the crowd when it comes to singing this song.  And the ultimate 1-2 Pearl Jam punch as they went into Alive.  For me this is one of the great live songs, the whole song is a spine-tingling event.  Someone in the crowd was holding a sign saying Alive saved their life.  Vedder left to stage to hug that person.  The Who's Baba O'Reilly saw the band winding down and fan's collecting tambourines thrown into the crowd by Vedder.  Yellow Leadbetter finished the night, and when the lights came, there was not an unhappy person in the 15,000 crowd.  Three hours of great music.  Pearl Jam still know how to put on a great show.

Vs Set: Go / Animal / Daughter / Glorified G / Dissident / W.M.A. / Blood / Rearviewmirror / Rats / Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In A Small Town / Leash / Indifference
Mind Your Manners / Swallowed Whole / Sirens / Let The Records Play / Spin The Black Circle / Do The Evolution
Encore: Future Days / Nothingman / Given To Fly / Present Tense / Comfortably Numb (Pink Floyd cover) / Lightning Bolt / Porch
2nd Encore: Last Kiss (Wayne Cochran cover) / Breath / Comatose / Better Man / Alive / Baba O'Riley (The Who cover) / Yellow Ledbetter

The Crap Facts:
This is my 402nd concert.
This is my 1st concert at Bon Secours Arena.
Bon Secours Arena is the 113th venue I've seen a concert.
This is my 1st concert in Greenville.
Greenville is the 48th city I've seen a concert in.
This is my 3rd concert in South Carolina.
This is my 209th concert in the USA.
This is my 2nd Pearl Jam concert.

As an aside, I mentioned a disappointing factor in the following days of the concert.  Unfortunately the current Republican run state of North Carolina has introduced a somewhat controversial, and in my opinion homophobic, bill aimed at taking away rights for members of the LGBT community.  The HB2 Bill has many opponents, and has been the media's controversy du jour for some time now.  This bill went into law, under a special session, on April 1 - two weeks ago.  On Tuesday, a day before Pearl Jam's show in Raleigh, the band cancelled the show in protest of said bill.  I think this is an extremely poor decision.  One thing I learnt last Saturday is the dedication of the Pearl Jam fan.  These are people who LOVE this band and will follow them to the ends of the earth, in a Grateful Dead-esque way.  Of the people I spoke to on Saturday, few were actually from Greenville.  Many had traveled far an wide to see the band, and were continuing to do so in Virginia, Raleigh and Columbia in the next week.  I feel that cancelling the Raleigh show would have really hurt these people.  Not the state government, they could give a flying fuck if Pearl Jam show up or not.  But those who have paid for flights, hotels, car rentals, not to mention all the staff that work the at the arena.  How much did the cancellation cost them?  This tour went on sale in January.  The bill had been passed for 2 weeks.  You wait til the day before to cancel.  Dog move!  And what is your follow up on this? Sweet fuck all!    Pearl Jam's protest will go the same way as the band's stance on Ticketmaster and their fees back in the day.  Didn't stop me paying $15.55 on top of the $71 advertised price of this ticket (or 21% extra).  If a band like Pearl Jam want to protest something like HB2, PLAY in protest.  Bands like Silversun Pickups, Bloc Party, Flag, Duran Duran and Against Me played in North Carolina with the next 3 months and made their voice and opinion heard by being inclusive of Equality NC, encouraging people to vote and expressing their opinions to their fans.  Pearl Jam missed a great opportunity to get that message to a larger audience still.

And I didn't even have tickets for the Raleigh show - imagine the rant if I did.

Disclaimer: I was happy when Bruce Springsteen pulled the same stunt a few weeks earlier, knowing some people who supported HB2 were making the trip from Charlotte to Greensboro to see him.  In hindsight, that spiteful thought was wrong.  Springsteen could've played and shoved it in their faces during his show.