Friday, August 4, 2017

Descendents & The Bronx @ The Fillmore

Thanks to some lawsuit Ticketmaster lost, tonight's show is paid for by them and a chance to see the Descendents close up in a small venue, after seeing them from a distance at Riot Fest in 2014.

In a twist of fate against rock and roll, I had the hardest time getting into the Fillmore tonight.  As I was driving in, Kidz Bop fans were leaving the amphitheater out the back.  Traffic was chaos.  Then it seemed the Fillmore was light on staff taking tickets and doing security checks, so I missed Late Bloomer, who I wanted to see again after seeing them open for the Screaming Females in 2013.

So first up was, for me, the unknown Bronx.  From the get go I thought this band was special.  Singer Matt Caughthran was up for a good night, and it showed from the outset.  His bouncing/stalking/rocking out from the first song set a high standard for the night's energy.  It took only 3 songs for him to dive out into the crowd and by half way through the set he was back in the crowd, controlling the pit, blasting out 4 songs.  All the while the rest of The Bronx delivered a faultless, driving beat that forced energy into the Fillmore.  I knew nothing about this band before I came in (and I don't wanna be the guy on his phone typing song names to try and remember what was what), but you can bet that I am going to look for more of their stuff to listen to, and hope they come back, even if it's as Mariachi El Bronx, real soon.

I don't remember The Descendents being that big in Australia.  Maybe I was too young and not yet into punk.  But as my music awareness expanded, you hear of the importance of this band.  That's what I came to see more of tonight.  Starting with Everything Sux, The Descendents spent the next hour blasting out song after song that people around me remembered with fondness and belted out at the top of their voices.  I Like Food is the only song of their's I actually know - and I got my 15 seconds of bliss about 2/3rds of the way through the set.  While The Descendents had a ferocity that defied their age, it was a little amusing to see  singer Milo use oxygen between songs.  

A great high energy show from both bands, who I would see again any time they passed through town.

Descendents Setlist The Fillmore, Charlotte, NC, USA 2017, Hypercaffium Spazzinate

The Crap Facts:
This is my 430th concert.
This is my 21st concert at The Fillmore.
This is my 64th concert in Charlotte.
This is my 72nd concert in North Carolina.
This is my 235th concert in the USA.
The Bronx is the 496th band I've seen.
This is my 2nd Desecendents concert.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Primus & Clutch @ CMCU Amphitheater

To tell you the truth, I wouldn't know a Clutch song if I fell over it.  I know Neil Fallon did an awesome version of American Waste on Rollins' West Memphis 3 CD years ago, and that was enough to get me to their Primus opening slot.  As usual for the outdoor show, rain in the area was trying to put a dampener (no pun intended) on things.  The rain eased to a drizzle and Clutch hit the stage as I walked from my car into the venue.  I went side stage (where I watch the poorly sounded Bush last year).  A few core fans there had the benefit of a new, extra speaker, so the sound was great.  I still don't really know a Clutch song, but they had the crowd engaged in their 75 minute set (Pretty long for an opener, right?).

Clutch Setlist Charlotte Metro Credit Union Amphitheatre, Charlotte, NC, USA 2017, Psychic Warfare

Before Primus came on I tried to take advantage of the $10 seat upgrade offer the venue was advertising.  I assumed as a single I'd be good for an OK spot.  But apparently you can only pay with a credit card on your phone, and I'm too old and paranoid for that.  However, they accept cash only for a VIP seat upgrade.  What? Considering the amount of empty seats in both sections, sounds like a policy that needs to be reviewed.

Primus came out and it didn't take too much to realize they were going to rehash setlists from the last 2 times I saw them (last year with Tool, and the year before with Dinosaur Jr).  While their visuals that accompany the songs are great, it is time to mix it up a bit - new videos or how about adding some different songs to the playlist.  Frizzle Fry was the first great song for the night for me.  And Mr Krinkle is an all time favorite, so there is no denying the joy of that video / song combination.  Damned Blue Collard Tweekers got the crowd out of a mid-set funk and the new song, The Seven, is as Primus-y as you can get.  Except for the intro to The Seven, and Claypool having a dig at drummer, Alexander, for missing the end of Mud, audience interaction was at a minimum.  Only an extended Southbound Pachyderm was played as an encore and I didn't feel that the show had all the energy you usually find at a Primus gig.  We'll let them off with this being the first show of the tour - but I hope it gets better for the crowd's sake.  Don't get me wrong - I'll come back until I hear Tommy The Cat again, but lets hope that is sooner rather than later.

Primus Setlist Charlotte Metro Credit Union Amphitheatre, Charlotte, NC, USA 2017, 2017 Summer U.S. Tour

The Crap Facts:
This is my 429th concert.
This is my 8th concert at CMCU Amphitheater.
This is my 63rd concert in Charlotte.
This is my 71st concert in North Carolina.
This is my 234th concert in the USA.
Clutch is the 495th band I've seen.
This is my 9th Primus concert.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Deftones & Rise Against @ CMCU Amphitheater

Ahhh! Rain and the Charlotte Metro Credit Union Amphitheater go hand in hand more often than not.  This is the 3rd time I've stood in the rain for a show here (Violent Femmes/Barenaked Ladies & Weezer), and 2 other times we didn't even bother to turn up (Counting Crows & Ray LaMontaigne).

As per usual I see Rise Against because of a good line up.  However, they are growing on me.  Some great energy tonight and a lot of humble appreciation being thrown to the crowd for coming out in such horrible conditions.  I actually sat in my car for 15 minutes deciding whether I'd go in or not.  Definitely glad I did.  Ready To Fall kicked off the frenzy of Rise Against fans (these are some loyal people - the girl I was next to was talking about this being her 12th show - she happened to be in Charlotte for work and is going again next Saturday in Jacksonville, Florida).  A few other songs I was familiar with like Savior, Re-Education and Prayer For The Refugee littered the 50 minute set.  A couple of new ones thrown in as well fit in quiet nicely to Rise Against sound.

Like a lot of the older people in the crowd, I waited in the rain for the Deftones - some of the Rise Against kids left early (not knowing the greatness that came before their time).  From the get go the Deftones brutal sound had the crowd amped.  My Own Summer (my favorite song of theirs) was the 2nd song played and it sounded great.  Chino was on fine form, letting everyone know it was his birthday.  He played the crowd well, getting off the stage a few times to the delight of all nearby.  Rosemary was awesome, as was Knife Prty and Change.  I love Deftones use of the quite/loud dynamic, mixed in with slower and faster beats.  And Chino is a great frontman - better when he's not playing the guitar.  Age has not wearied the Deftones.  This show was as intense as any of the other 4 I've seen dating back to the Australian version of The Warped Tour in 1999.  With that in mind, I can't wait til they come back through Charlotte.

Deftones Setlist
Headup / My Own Summer (Shove It) / Swerve City / Digital Bath / Elite / Rosemary / Be Quiet & Drive (Far Away) / Phantom Bride / Knife Prty / Back To School (Mini Maggit) / Rivière (First verse only) / Change (In The House Of Flies) / Diamond Eyes / Rocket Skates
Encore: Root

The Crap Facts:
This is my 428th concert.
This is my 7th concert at CMCU Amphitheater.
This is my 62nd concert in Charlotte.
This is my 70th concert in North Carolina.
This is my 233rd concert in the USA.
This is my 5th Rise Against concert.
This is my 5th Deftones concert.
Deftones are the 50th band I've seen at least 5 times.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Tegan & Sara @ Fillmore

So my knowledge of Tegan & Sara is limited to a few tracks from The Con & So Jealous.  However they were so good at Riot Fest in 2014 (my surprise pick - I wanted them to be good, and they were great) that I had to see them do their on show, in a small venue.  Needless to say, since those albums they have more of a pop sound to them.

The band came out to I'm So Excited blaring.  A more appropriate song for the crowd at the time, there has never been.  Everyone was hyped, and from that moment on Tegan and Sarah could not (ad did not) do wrong.  You could tell that circle of energy was happening.  The band has enjoying themselves, so the crowd was getting into it, so the band was having a blast and so on.

Banter between songs was good enough for any comedy club, and the girls' connection with the audience was heartfelt.  The music had the Fillmore non-stop dancing.  The Con and Nineteen were highlights for me, but the whole set was outstanding.  Throw in Walking With A Ghost during the 3 song encore, and you have one of the great pop shows I've seen.

While the direction of the music wasn't what I expected, it made their Riot Fest set even the more better, by playing what was appropriate for that crowd.  Fun was had by band and crowd alike.  While their musical style was not what I'd usually listen to, I'd have no hesitation in seeing Tegan & Sara again.

Tegan and Sara Setlist The Fillmore, Charlotte, NC, USA 2017, Love You to Death

The Crap Facts:
This is my 427th concert.
This is my 20th concert at The Fillmore.
This is my 61st concert in Charlotte.
This is my 69th concert in North Carolina.
This is my 232nd concert in the USA.
This is my 2nd Tegan & Sara concert.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds @ Thomas Wolfe Auditorium, Asheville, NC

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds Setlist Thomas Wolfe Auditorium, Asheville, NC, USA 2017, Skeleton Tree

The Crap Facts:
This is my 426th concert.
This is my 2nd concert at Thomas Wolfe Auditorium
This is my 5th concert in Asheville.
This is my 68th concert in North Carolina.
This is my 231st concert in the USA.
This is my 3rd Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds concert.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Paul Simon @ CMCU Amphitheater

I do like it when I get a chance to see a show with mum when she comes to town.  We've seen a couple of great ones before.  Namely Elton John and Santana.  This is another one to add to the collection.

Because it was at the outdoor CMCU Amphitheater, Amy decided not to come in order to not to enforce her rain curse on us.  So I actually went to a concert with my mum and in-laws (I sound like a kid).  I got my usual seats about 20 rows from the stage, just left of center.  And as always these were great.

Paul Simon walked out to a standing ovation and then proceeded to dazzle the audience song after song from the beginning.  I wouldn't say I am a fan of his, but there are the songs that just about everyone knows, and there was plenty of those scattered through the set for me.  

Boy In The Bubble was a great start.  America was a song I didn't realize I knew.  My highlight half way through the set was Me & Julio Down by The School Yard.  When he finished with a couple of Graceland hits, Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes and You Can Call Me Al, the crowd was going crazy.

A 3 song encore before he cam back out with a mellower Questions For The Angels, and we started heading for the exit.  He did play Sounds Of Silence as his only song for a 3rd encore, but fortunately he skipped the song I really wanted to hear - Mrs Robinson.

Never really thought I'd see Paul Simon, but this was a good show.  His voice is fantastic - he sounds no different than I remember hearing on record.  Clocking in at over 2 1/2 hours, another veteran performer has shown stamina and showmanship that is definitely lacking with some of today's bands.

Paul Simon Setlist Charlotte Metro Credit Union Amphitheatre, Charlotte, NC, USA 2017, 2017 U.S. Summer Tour

The Crap Facts:
This is my 425th concert.
This is my 6th concert at CMCU Amphitheater.
This is my 60th concert in Charlotte.
This is my 67th concert in North Carolina.
This is my 230th concert in the USA.
Paul Simon is the 494th band I've seen.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Franz Ferdinand @ The Underground

8 years ago I got to see Franz Ferdinand at Coachella, so I was a little surprised to see them at a small venue like The Underground.  It least the venue was filled.  Quite a nice bar, and a great sound in the venue, but again with a VIP area.  Give me a break.

Franz Ferdinand walked out to rapturous applause and set the tone of rock from the the first song. Do You Want To was an early favorite as the band excelled in their jumpy stop-start then changing tempo sound.  The crowd and band were feeding off each other well.  The more the crowd was into it, the more the band had fun.  That circle continued to the build up of Take Me Out - where the place went nuts.  Ulysses finished off the main set, but Franz Ferdinand were not done.  A 3 song encore was topped off with a wildly loved This Fire, sending the crowd into one last final frenzy.

Very glad I came to this show.  While I'm not an avid listener to Franz Ferdinand they were so good at Coachella that I wanted to see how they'd do in a smaller setting.  Tyey definitely did not disappoint.

Franz Ferdinand Setlist The Underground, Charlotte, NC, USA 2017, 2017 North American Tour

The Crap Facts:
This is my 424th concert.
The Underground is the 120th venue I've seen a concert.
This is my 59th concert in Charlotte.
This is my 66th concert in North Carolina.
This is my 229th concert in the USA.
This is my 2nd Franz Ferdinand concert.

Friday, May 19, 2017

The Sonics & Dex Romweber Duo @ Neighborhood Theater

I was as excited for this concert as I have been forever.  Ever since seeing Jack White talk about Flat Duo Jets on the It May Get Loud movie I have wanted to see a version of this band.  And now Dex Romweber is opening for The Sonics.  The Sonics!  The original garage / punk band!  For Christmas I got a record player and a $50 gift voucher from Lunchbox Records.  Amongst other things I bought Here Are The Sonics, and rarely has another album got a spin.

Was surprised to see a small stage set up next to the bar, and the big room curtained off.  I got there right on 8pm as Romweber was due to take the stage and there was only a small crowd.  (Charlotte wouldn't know great rock if it blasted them in the face.)  He and his drummer then proceeded to school everyone in high speed 12 bar blues, surf rock, rockabilly.  And then every other song was an Elvis-esque slower number.  What a performance!

You know if Dex Romweber is your opener then you need to put on an awesome show to even come close to satisfying your fans.  And that is exactly what The Sonics did....

Sonics saxophonist Rob Lynd was interviewed for Creative Loafing this week and seemed excited to play for a now-home crowd in the story.  That was nothing.  His beaming smile lit up the room as he walked out on stage and never left over the next 90 minutes.  From the get go the crowd was having a blast.  (At one point I looked around and every single person in the small venue was dancing.)  Have Love, Will Travel is one of my favorite songs, so to hear it live was amazing.  A sped up Keep A Knockin', Louie Louie and the Kinks' Hard Way were 3 great songs in a row.  Boss Hoss and Money blew everyone away and to finish the night, Psycho, where everyone went...well...psycho.  After a quick break The Sonics were back on stage to tear through a 3 song encore, finishing the night with a wildly fun version of The Witch.

Overall only The Cure at PNC Pavilion last year can rate as good a show as I've seen in Charlotte.  Last night was amazing!  Dex Romweber and The Sonics are the perfect combination for a valued rock and roll show.  Anytime they come back to town or nearby, I'll be there.

(PS. Neighborhood Theater can you please do something about your air-conditioning.  I sweated buckets again last night before the bands even started.)

Sonics Setlist
Cinderella / Shot Down / C'mon Everybody (Eddie Cochran cover) / Sugaree / Have Love, Will Travel (Richard Berry cover) / Be A Woman (Persian Rugs cover) / Back In The Car / You've Got Your Head On Backwards / Bad Betty / Keep a Knockin' (Little Richard cover) / Louie Louie (Richard Berry cover)  / The Hard Way (Kinks cover) / Boss Hoss / Money / Look At Little Sister (Hank Ballard cover) / He's Waitin' / Psycho
Encore: I Don't Need No Doctor (Ray Charles cover) / Strychnine / The Witch

The Crap Facts:
This is my 423rd concert.
This is my 2nd concert at Neighborhood Theater.
This is my 58th concert in Charlotte.
This is my 65th concert in North Carolina.
This is my 228th concert in the USA.
Dex Romweber Duo are the 492nd band I've seen.
The Sonics are the 493rd band I've seen.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Weezer @ CMCU Amphitheater

As always when I buy a ticket for Amy to see a concert at this outdoor venue, the weather turns for the worse.  Barenaked Ladies and Violent Femmes 2 years ago, and Ray Lamontaine and Counting Crows last year.  The weather, combined with Leland's illness, meant I ended up going solo.

Upon arrival I was charged $5 for parking, an unwelcome first after coming here for 25 odd shows in the last 4 years.  That and the sticker shock of a $14 Corona means, for me, the concert experience is slowly deteriorating (sorry, old man rant over....for now).  I had general admission tickets for tonight's show and that area was packed.  What surprised me was the amount of empty seats closer to the stage, and the lack of effort by the venue to try and get people to fill them.  Considering they will suck the money out of your wallet for parking and a beer, you'd think they's sell those seats for a few extra bucks to get the area in front of the band full.  I would've thought the band would prefer that, but that's why I'm an Uber driver and not the venue manager.

Because of the threat of rain I didn't arrive until Weezer were due on stage, missing Catfish and The Bottlemen.  Anyway 15 minutes late Weezer strode on and straight into the ever catchy Hash Pipe.  Followed by My Name Is Jonas, it was a great start to the show.  A mid-section lull was diminished by Beverly Hills and then Undone, Island In The Sun and Say It Ain't So.  And then they walked off stage.  It was just 45 minutes.  Are you fucking kidding me?  May they were coming back for another set?  Nope!  An encore of El Scorcho and Buddy Holly before signing off for the night.  Don't get me wrong, the songs they picked for the set were great, but one hour and that's it?  At least the rain held off.

Short sets seem to be a common theme for Weezer shows.  I've written that twice before.  I've always enjoyed Weezer's music and when they play live they are good, but when it comes to value for money, I think this might be my last show of theirs for a while.

Hash Pipe / My Name Is Jonas / (If You're Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To / Pork & Beans / Feels Like Summer / Perfect Situation / Thank God For Girls / Beverly Hills / Undone - The Sweater Song / Island In The Sun / Say It Ain't So
Encore: El Scorcho / Buddy Holly

The Crap Facts:
This is my 422nd concert.
This is my 5th concert at CMCU Amphitheater.
This is my 57th concert in Charlotte.
This is my 64th concert in North Carolina.
This is my 227th concert in the USA.
This is my 5th Weezer concert.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Midnight Oil & Boytoy @ Fillmore, Silver Spring, MD

I honestly thought this day may never come again.  It's been 19 years since I last saw the Oils (a hometown gig at the Ming in 98 - with my mum!).  Then they retired just after I should of seen them with Regs in 2002.  But now they're back.  And even that didn't guarantee anything.  I forgot about tickets going on sale and Atlanta had sold out before I got the chance.  A few weeks later I found a ticket for the Silver Spring show and bought it before working out how to get there.  Fortunately a free United ticket made it easy to get to DC.  So here I am! OILS!

Boytoy had an unenviable task of opening to a crowd dying to see the Oils again.  However, they handled it magnificently!  Their surf/rock sound was sharp and the 3 ladies from Brooklyn made the crowd forget why they were there for 45 minutes.  Are You A Boy Or Are You A Girl was my favorite of the night.  Loved the no bass sound of their set.  Hope to see them come through Charlotte soon.

Boytoy Setlist
Your Girl / Sailor Jerry / When The Night Falls / Shape Up / Poison Breeder / What's Your Name / Are You A Boy Or Are You A Girl? (Barbarellas cover) / Blazed / Want

I could not have asked for a better venue to see the return of the Oils than the Fillmore in Silver Spring.  I was up front in front of Bones and had a clear view of stage and the audience.  When they started the set with Profiteers and Progress I thought we were going to be in for an old school night.  The kind all Aussies who grew up on Head Injuries and Place Without A Postcard would want.  But we're in the US, and they have a different set of favorites here, and Midnight Oil were very accommodating to that.  Blossom & Blood was great but then there was a lot of slower stuff, like they were catching their breath.  It was not until the last third of the set, when they fired up Power & The Passion, that I was back into it fully.  Beds Are Burning set the crowd alight (no pun intended) and Blue Sky Mine closed out the main set.  The Dead Heart and Dreamworld was a great encore, but they weren't finished as they came back, much to the delight of the sold-out Fillmore and played Tin Legs and King Of The Mountain, which got the best reaction of the night.

Don't get me wrong, it was worth the flight to DC, the traffic to Silver Spring, and the shitty accommodation near the airport to see one of my all time favorite bands.  But remember, my dad had been playing Midnight Oil in our house for 40 years, and I loved all that early stuff.  As it is, a band with a large catalog can only play so many songs.  While I'd have killed to hear US Forces, Stand In Line and Don't Wanna Be The One, I think I'd have to head back to Australia to do so.  Great to see them back.  Hope they continue to tour - and maybe play at the Fillmore in Charlotte next time instead.

Midnight Oil Setlist
Profiteers / Progress / Truganini / Blossom & Blood / Bullroarer / One Country / Feeding Frenzy / My Country / When The Generals Talk / Ships Of Freedom / Luritja Way / Arctic World / Warakurna / Concrete / Say Your Prayers / Power & The Passion / Forgotten Years / Beds Are Burning / Blue Sky Mine
Encore: The Dead Heart / Dreamworld
2nd Encore: Tin Legs & Tin Mines / King Of The Mountain

The Crap Facts:
This is my 421st concert.
The Fillmore is the 119th venue I've seen a concert.
Silver Spring is the 51st city I've seen a concert.
Maryland is the 15th state I've seen a concert.
This is my 226th concert in the USA.
Boytoy are the 491st band I've seen.
This is my 6th Midnight Oil concert.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Gogol Bordello & In The Whale @ Fillmore

You can never go wrong enjoying yourself at a Gogol Bordello show.  And tonight is no exception.

In The Whale had just started when I arrived and I'm so glad I saw all this.  This may be my new favorite band.  Rock n roll is not dead.  This 2 piece from Denver know what great music is, and how to get a crowd into.  Sure it is an unknown opening band, but in the end people were going mental.. Girlfriend was the highlight.  With the help of Gogol hype-man, Pedro Erazo, In The Whale bought the crowd, literally, to it's knees during Girlfriend, only to send them into a frenzy at the screaming last chorus.  It was absolutely wild!  I'm sure In The Whale left with a number of new fans tonight (but the Peyton rules, Cam sucks during the last song may have put a dent in that.

It was disappointing to see the Fillmore only half full tonight.  Charlotte will happily complain when good bands play all around us (Asheville, Carrboro, Greensboro, Atlanta etc) but when a great one comes through you get a piss-weak turnout.  This didn't matter to Gogol Bordello.  Actually I think they wouldn't care if no-one showed up.  They will have an awesome time regardless.  From the opening notes of  Break Into Your Higher Self singer, Eugene Hutz, was in full swing.  By Immigrant Punk he was too sweaty to have a shirt.  And nobody in the audience wasn't dancing.  Dogs Are Barking and Think Locally, Fuck Globally are familiar to me and definitely highlights, as was the friend they bought on stage to add a flamenco sound to a few songs - not sure who he was, but he was amazing.  A four song encore ended with Hutz throwing a drum into the crowd, stage diving after it, and standing above an adoring crowd, like that's what you always do.

I left the show upbeat and exhausted, I can only imagine how long it took the band to come down from that kind of 2 hour high energy.

Gogol Bordello Setlist
Break Into Your Higher Self / Saboteur Blues / Not A Crime / Immigrant Punk / 60 Revolutions / Oh No / Dogs Were Barking / Book Of Caveman / Trans-Continental Hustle / Immigraniada / Illumination / You Know Who We Are / Think Locally, Fuck Globally / Kathy Cruel / Start Wearing Purple / Mishto! / Wonderlust King
Encore: We Did It All / Ultimate / Alcohol / Baro Foro

The Crap Facts:
This is my 420th concert.
This is my 19th concert at The Fillmore.
This is my 56th concert in Charlotte.
This is my 63rd concert in North Carolina.
This is my 225th concert in the USA.
In The Whale are the 490th band I've seen.
In The Whale are the 100th different band I've seen in North Carolina.
This is my 4th Gogol Bordello concert.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Dinosaur Jr & Easy Action @ Cat's Cradle, Carrboro, NC

Dinosaur Jr in Carrboro - ok, if I must!  On the night that UNC play in the NCAA Final Four I head into town for another blasting from Dinosaur Jr.

Easy Action are a rocking opener that the crowd seemed a little intimidated by.  Singer John Brannon has a confrontational look (not unlike my own Resting Bitchy Face) and it plays through in their music.  Driving, four-on-the-floor, rock n roll.  The way it's meant to be.

Somewhere between the car and the venue I lost my always-needed-for-Dinosaur-Jr earplugs.  Thankfully the bar at the Cat's Cradle were there to rescue me.  As usual the band casually appear on stage to no fanfare and just start doing what they do best.  Thumb opened the show, but for me it got cooking at The Wagon (one of a few songs where the earplugs have to come out)  Out There was fantastic, and I love the faster live version of Feel The Pain.  The Where You Been album was when I first got into the band, so Start Chopping was great to hear as well.  Plenty of plays from the the new Give A Glimpse Of What Yer Not - which carries of that distinctive Dinosaur Jr sound.  Freak Scene was played near the end (which is an all time favorite song of mine).  And I thought a perfect way to end the night.  That is until some Easy Action joined the band for a TV Eye encore.  Dinosaur Jr playing The Stooges - I was happier than all the UNC students going nuts over their narrow victory in bars all around us.

I realized another piece of the live Dinosaur Jr experience for me tonight.  While J Mascis looks cool, calm and some may say uninterested, Lou rocks out a sweaty storm on the other side of the stage.  While in the middle Murph drives the yin and yang of the other 2 at the same time.  A visual juxtaposition added to the great music, makes for an awesome band.

Dinosaur Jr Setlist
Thumb / Goin' Down/ Lost All Day / I Told Everyone / Love Is... / The Wagon / Watch The Corners / Tiny / Out There / Feel The Pain / Knocked Around / Start Choppin / I Walk For Miles / Freak Scene / Gargoyle
Encore: TV Eye (Stooges cover)

The Crap Facts:
This is my 419th concert.
This is my 2nd concert at Cat's Cradle.
This is my 2nd concert in Carrborro.
This is my 62nd concert in North Carolina.
This is my 224th concert in the USA.
Easy Action are the 489th band I've seen.
Easy Action are the 250th American band I've seen.
This is my 7th Dinosaur Jr concert.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Flaming Lips & Clipping @ The Fillmore

No mention of an opening act anywhere so I didn't race to the Fillmore early.  I did walk in to the sounds of Clipping, a rap/electronica group, and instantly I was taken aback.  Generally I don't like a lot of rap, but this was good.  Clipping has an off-beat flow, and time changes, gradual and sudden, that sound amazing.  They worked well with the already there Flaming Lips props, and while their musical style makes for an unusual pairing with Flaming Lips, you can tell there would be a great mutual creative appreciation.  There is also a sense of humor in his lyrics that was relatable to the audience.  By the time his set had finished, the full Fillmore was lapping it up.  I would definitely go back and see one of their shows again.

This is my 3rd Flaming Lips show, and so far my favorite (though that 1st one in Vegas comes super close).  The Fillmore was packed to the rafters and within the first few bars of Race For The Prize was filled with confetti and beach balls.  Wayne Coyne looked like he was ready for a good time, while the band hid behind blowup stage props and streamers.  As they played There Should Be Unicorns, Coyne jumped on a full size stuffed unicorn and was dragged through the crowd, much to everyone's crushing delight.  He passed within inches of me, but I was not quick enough to get a picture.  Another prop the crowd soaked up was the "Fuck Yeah Charlotte!" balloons, which the girl in front of me was determined to get as many as possible.  Coyne got into his hamster ball and rolled out into the crowd to sing Bowie's Space Oddity, in which he was drowned out by the crowd going apeshit.  Highlight of the night - and maybe of all Fillmore shows.  Overall a great spectacular - now just a gig.  Visually and audio-wise it was sensory overload.  Do You Realize finished out the 2nd encore, and I bet people will be talking about that show in Charlotte for a long time.

Flaming Lips Setlist
Race For The Prize / Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots, Part 1 / There Should Be Unicorns / Pompeii Am Götterdämmerung / What Is The Light? / The Observer / How?? / Space Oddity (David Bowie cover) / Feeling Yourself Disintegrate / The Castle / The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song (With All Your Power) / Are You A Hypnotist?? / The W.A.N.D. / A Spoonful Weighs A Ton
Encore: Virgo Self-Esteem Broadcast / Silver Trembling Hands
2nd Encore: Waitin' for A Superman / Do You Realize??

The Crap Facts:
This is my 418th concert.
This is my 18th concert at The Fillmore.
This is my 55th concert in Charlotte.
This is my 61st concert in North Carolina.
This is my 223rd concert in the USA.
Clipping are the 488th band I've seen.
This is my 3rd Flaming Lips concert.
Flaming Lips are the 100th time I've seen a band in Charlotte.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

The Tea Party & The Road Heavy @ Danforth Music Hall, Toronto, ON

I must still be in Toronto, because it's still effing freezing!

Today I started the morning heading over to the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO).  A little closer to the hotel and therefore a little less painful to get to.  It was nice to get there early again and be ahead of a weekend crowd.  A few of my highlights are as follows:
1) The European Gallery which had two walls each of impressionist and academic paintings.  Explanations throughout explained the differences in styles and also the difference in hangings.  The academic filled as many square inches of the wall as possible, whereas the impressionists use of space highlighted their work.  Great to see to contradictory styles in the one room.  My favorite picture in here was by Luigi Bazzani, called Arch of Septimus Severus.
2) The Henry Moore Sculpture Center.  Many of the same sculptures that graced Aria Resort & Casino's (Reclining Connected Forms), that sat behind the Concierge desk.  All the pieces had been donated to the museum by Moore himself.
3) Pop Up On The Dot Talks.  Museum staff will pick random pictures and discuss them with anyone around.  As it so happens I passed 2 employees standing in front of a painting (for the life of me I can't remember the paining), with no one else interested in a talk, so we spoke for half an hour about the painting.  As a non artist, and a very passive art admirer, this conversation allowed me an insight into these pictures I never would have got on my own.
4) The art of native Canadian sculptor, Manasie Akpaliapik.  I always use the phrase "I don't know art, but I know what I like."  And Manasie's sculptures, done in bone, ivory, wood and stone, are just magnificent.  

After the gallery I walked down to Queen Street in search of lunch.  I had chosen Chippy's - a fish and chip shop in English-influenced Canada, can't go wrong.  I am never satisfied when having that meal in the US, so I was hoping for the best.  What I got, after walking a couple of miles away from town, was a store closed for the season.  I ended up in the expensive Burger's Priest, as hunger took over and I wanted to eat there and then.

I continued my walk through the city, passing the CN Tower (didn't have the balls to go up) and down to the waterfront.  Watched folks ice-skate in a rink by the harbor.  I looked for a rental place, not that I would've done it, but it seems it was locals only with their own skates.  Afterwards I continued walking around the city, just taking in the sights until the cold got to me again and I ended up back at the Double Tree late in the afternoon.

The plan was to head out to Danforth, eat dinner at a Brazilian steakhouse before heading to The Tea Party.  HBO, cold weather, a Die Hard and uninterrupted-silence-of-no-children changed that to arriving at the Danforth Music Hall a couple of songs into the Road Heavy's set.  Another solid set from them entertained a more enthused crowd tonight.

Tonight's show seemed better than last night.  Not sure if it was because I was on the main floor, close to the stage.  Regardless, both the band and crowd were in better form.  Again the Transmission set sounded better than the album itself, with Babylon and Temptation being the highlights.  There were a couple of small changes in the 2nd set, which made my night.  Firstly the snippet of Tool's Sober in the middle of Release Me, led into the song I'd traveled 1600 miles to see.  Fire In The Head is the Tea Party's greatest song as far as I'm concerned, and tonight they played it just for me (I could tell).  The local crowd however went bananas for the Brian Eno/Daniel Lanois song The Messenger, which I'd never heard before.  Again the encore was a medley of the fantastic Winter Solstice and Sister Awake, which included short cuts from The Stone's Paint It Black and Bowie's Heroes.

Overall 2 great nights.  I'm glad to see the Tea Party still has it after not having the opportunity to see them for so long.  Hopefully there will be a chance to drag them further south in the future.Had a blast in my first visit to Toronto (I want to come back in not winter).  What a great city!  Was also grateful to just have a couple of days away on my own - this is something I like to do and with kids, doesn't happen often any more.

Tea Party Setlist
Army Ants / Babylon / Psychopomp / Gyroscope / Emerald / Alarum / Release / Transmission / Pulse / Aftermath / Temptation
2nd set: The River (with Sober snippet) / Fire In The Head / The Messenger (tour debut, Brian Eno & Daniel Lanois cover) / The Ocean At The End / Save Me
Encore: Winter Solstice / Sister Awake (with Paint It Black and Heroes snippets)

The Crap Facts:
This is my 417th concert.
This is my 2nd concert at Danforth Music Hall.
This is my 2nd concert in Toronto.
This is my 2nd concert in Ontario.
This is my 3rd concert in Canada.
This is my 2nd Road Heavy concert.
This is my 7th Tea Party concert.

Friday, March 3, 2017

The Tea Party & The Road Heavy @ Danforth Music Hall, Toronto, ON

Holy shit!  It's cold here.  The day started at 10 degrees Fahrenheit and barely got warmer.  I thought a walk to the Royal Ontario Museum would be be a good start - only 1.5 miles - but by the time I arrived I was so cold, my jaw was frozen.  Not only that but I arrived a 1/2 half hour before opening.  So I want across the street to the Second Cup for a hot chocolate - just to hold (the first of a few of these this weekend).

The Museum itself is a work of art.  Architect Daniel Liebskind leaves his distinct mark as the building reminds me of Crystals (another of his designs), next door to Aria, where I used to work.  You walk in and get the obligatory dinosaur skeleton to amaze you from the get go.  THe first floor was full of Asian artifacts, as well as a First Peoples Special Exhibit.  

The 2 totem poles that the stairs circled up to the next floor were stunning.  Leading up to the Natural section of the Museum.  Dinosaurs, bio-diversity, birds and mammals, and a large increase in the number of children were the main features of this floor.  The standout for me on this level was a model of the sunken HMS Erebus, a ship that was abandoned in The Victoria Strait in Canada in 1848.  The wreckage was only discovered in 2014, and the model shows it still in good condition, apparently only in 10 metres of water.

On the 3rd level was the World artifacts (Grecian, Roman, Egyptian, Middle Eastern, African and Asia-Pacific artifacts held my attention for a long time.

Lastly was Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibit on the 4th level. These photos were amazing and deserving of all the accolades they received.  Saw a couple of Aussies in the mix.  Scott Portelli and his photo of cuttlefish was amazing and Douglas Gimesy's very Australian "Caring for Joey" photos.  Categories ranged from land to sea, urban to wildlife, and even age groups (some of the 10-13 years olds stuff was brilliant.

After about 4 hours I left the museum and caught the train to Union Station (I would've preferred to walk, but the cold was too much for me.  I walked over to St Lawrence Market.  I thought there would be a great spot to eat there, but it is more of a market for locals, with butchers, fishmongers, florists, bakers etc.  Before coming away I did some research on Lonely Planet and picked a few places to see and eat at.  One of those was Schnitzel Queen.  It's hard to find schnitzel in the US, but this place (in the dodgy part of town the Concierge told me not to go to) was fantastic.  Lunch at 3pm was a Schnitzel BLT the size of my head, and my first Coke in about 10 years.  It was well worth the walk.

From there I wandered around town aimlessly until eventually I ducked into a shopping center just to get out of the cold.  Once out the other side, I was on the street where the hotel was, and decided a hot chocolate and a rest were on the cards before I headed out again in an hour.

At 6.30 I caught the 2 trains needed to get to the Danforth Music Hall.  Train timing was perfect and in with time enough to spare I wandered up Danforth Ave to Greektown, spotting some places for dinner tomorrow, before going into the venue.

Tonight I am in a seat on the balcony.  Ideally not how I'd see the Tea Party, but still after all the walking I'd done today it was nice to sit down.

The Road Heavy opened, playing some Southern Blues/Rock.  A good size audience reacted well to this local band,who would not sound out of place in any southern honky-tonk.

October 1999 at the Central Coast Leagues Club was the last time I saw the Tea Party.  With my leaving Oz for England and eventually the US, and their extended hiatus, the opportunity had not arisen until now to see this great band again.  Thunderous applause greeted the band and the opening 1-2 of Army Ants and Babylon was top notch.  I had forgotten how good this album was, but with great versions of Release and Temptation (amongst others), it was easy to get back into the night.

The 2nd set started with their most rocking song, Writing's On The Wall, which was the highlight of the night and a hell of an crowd energizer.  The Bazaar was my much needed Edges of Twilight fix, and it was also great to hear the All Along The Watchtower and Stairway To Heaven woven into Heaven's Coming Down - which seemed to be the favorite of the Canadians.

This night ended with a medley of the underrated Winter Solstice and the awesome Sister Awake, with snippets of The Stones' Paint It Black and Bowie's Heroes.  The Tea Party are definitely still a band who put on a great show, no less that my last gig 17 years ago, and have a following that still worship them - as shown by both shows selling out here in Toronto.

Tea Party Setlist
Army Ants / Babylon / Psychopomp / Gyroscope / Emerald / Alarum / Release / Transmission / Pulse / Aftermath / Temptation
2nd set: Writing's On The Wall / The Bazaar / The Ocean At The End / Heaven Coming Down (with All Along the Watchtower and Stairway to Heaven snippets) / Save Me
Encore: Winter Solstice / Sister Awake (with Paint It Black and Heroes snippets)

The Crap Facts:
This is my 416th concert.
Danforth Music Hall is the 118th venue I've seen a concert.
Toronto is the 50th city I've seen a concert.
Ontario is the 14th state I've seen a concert.
This is my 2nd concert in Canada.
The Road Heavy are the 487th band I've seen.
This is my 6th Tea Party concert.
The Tea Party are the 950th time I've seen a band.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Charlotte, NC to Toronto, ON

So for my birthday I decided it was time for a trip away.  It has been over 2 years since I was on an airplane and when the Tea Party announced a tour celebrating it's 20th anniversary of Transmission, I thought 3 nights in Toronto, a city I'd never been to, would be as good a spot as any.  Thanks to some frequent flyer points, no airfare was paid for, and Amy had enough Hilton points for 3 free nights at the Downtown Doubletree.

The downside was I had to fly via Dulles, and with only a 45 minute window, I was always going to struggle to get my connection.  And, of course, with our flight an hour late taking off, I missed it.  I was instead put on a 5pm flight onto Toronto, which, again, was delayed, getting me in at 9 pm (instead of the 2pm I had planned on).  Regardless, I look forward to exploring Toronto over the next two days.  And seeing my first concert in 3 months, as well as seeing the Tea Party for the first time in 18 years.

Surprisingly when we arrived in Toronto, we were parked at a gate where we had to get out on to the tarmac before getting into the terminal.  Had United not paid the rent here?  This was my first experience of the cold weather I was to face for the next couple of days.  Yikes!

Friday, February 24, 2017

Davidson vs Dayton @ John Belk Arena

Oh Davidson!  It's a shame you don't play 2 x 15 minute halves, because the the last 5 minutes of each half were absolutely tragic, especially to finish the game.

Aaron and I watched as the Wildcats kept on pace, and then pull a little away from Dayton, before fading at half time to be behind by 1 at halftime (45-46).

We did get to see The Amazing Sladek at halftime.  This 58 year old gentlemen started with a couple of forward flips, before placing 6 chairs on a table in an incredible balancing act, much to the cheer of the Davidson crowd.  Definitely impressive and nerve-racking.

Davidson came out on fire in the second half.  After such a weak ending to the first half I was expecting the worst.  That was to come later.  When Davidson raced to a 13 point lead with less than 8 minutes to go, I thought it was a shoo-in, but alas, at that moment in time, Davidson forgot how to shoot.  They only managed another 4 points, as Dayton came back to send the game into overtime.

A lot of the Davidson crowd saw the writing on the wall and left then.  And the Wildcats proved them right, as they continued to wilt and eventually succumbed to Dayton 82-89.  These last 12 minutes of the game the Dayton crowd made their presence known.  Out-cheering and urging their team onto a well deserved comeback and victory.  In the end a disappointing performance and result for Davidson.  A different result if the halves were 15 instead of 20 minutes.  

This is my 6th game now, and while I still miss a lot of the calls, tonight it was evident to me how many bad and missed calls could be attributed to the referees.  By no means is this an excuse for Davidson, but considering how frustrating it was for the crowd, both home and away, I can't imagine the players disbelief.

Dayton Flyers 89 (K. Pollard 18, X. Williams 17, S. Smith 17) defeated Davidson Wildcats 82 (P. Aldridge 27, J. Gibbs 27, J. Gudmundsson 10)
Crowd: 4,889

Saturday, February 4, 2017

NC State vs Miami @ PNC Arena

My brother-in-law is a big basketball fan, and when he came to stay with us for a couple of nights, all he wanted was to see a college game.  Unfortunately the UNC game and the Duke game were sold out, but he was more than happy to see NC State play Miami up in Raleigh.

For the 2 days prior I had been ill with an indigestion and migraine problem, and it wasn't until 11am (an hour before we left) that I felt OK enough to drive the two and a half hours north.  Not a lot of traffic on the way up and we pulled a miraculous spot just outside the PNC Arena, and walked into the arena as the national anthem was being played.

NC State started strong, and from high up in the stadium, it looked like we were in for a treat.  The day was Armed Services Appreciation Day, so many local NC State Alumni were paraded on the court during the many time outs.  Nice touch, which had us getting out of our seats regularly for a standing ovation.  NC State powered to a 9 point lead at half time (45-36), and looked set to take the points in this one.

However someone put a rocket up the Hurricanes at half time.  They were a different, now determined team, that NC State had no answer to.  Miami totally killed it, while NC State looked like a shadow of their first half selves.  In the end the 5 point margin to the Hurricanes made it seem closer than what it was.  A lot of disappointed people leaving the PNC Arena tonight.

Was surprised by the number of empty seats in the lower level of the stadium.  While crowd was officially 17, 567, I think that may be tickets solved, as well as season ticket holders who hadn't bothered to show.  We were on the top deck, right in line with the basket where the NC State students sat.  I liked being higher up, was a great view of all the action.

On the way home we stopped about halfway back to eat at Lexington Barbecue.  This 55 year old BBQ institution, was recommended by my father-in-law, who during his working years would go out of his way to eat here.  Food was great, and the atmosphere very southern.  Good stop before we had to make the last hour home.

Miami Hurricanes 84 (D. Reed 26, A. Lawrence Jr 19, E. Inzundu 16) defeated NC State Wolfpack 79 (D. Smith Jr 31, T. Henderson 21, O. Yurtseven 10)
Crowd: 17, 567

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Davidson vs Fordham @ John Belk Arena

This may be the weirdest sporting event I have ever been to in the sense of the team I was supporting deserved the result they got tonight from the lack of drive shown.

We got into the arena just after tip off and saw Fordham race to an 11-1 lead, as Davidson missed shot after shot.  To their credit, Fordham had their defense set so well that the Wildcats had no way through, but also no variety in which to challenge Fordham.  Players seemed to be going through the motions until Davisdon, and the small home crowd, picked it up with 1:30 left in the first half.  This saw Davisdon drag the game back to a 3 point lead for Fordham.

After the break, Davidson seemed to get into a rhythm and took the lead, getting as much as 5 points in front.  Then in the last 5 minutes it all seemed to fall apart.  Baskets weren't falling for the Wildcats, while Fordham could do no wrong.  Having said that, Davidson just didn't seem to have the stamina, or want for that matter, to hold out for the last 5 minutes. Fordham ran out 6 point winners.

While I still have a hard time seeing what fouls are happening, especially off the ball, tonight's loss was easily put down to Davidson's lack of desire to create and drive against Fordham, who, to their credit, defended extremely well.  I lost my perfect record at Davidson games tonight (3-1), so am not sure it Aaron will be needing my neighborly services in the near future.

Fordham Rams 60 (Hawkins 17, Anderson 15, Chartouny 11) defeated Davidson Wildcats 54 (Aldridge 18, Gibbs 11, Magarity 9).
Crowd: 3,004.