Apparently, Dr. Conrad Murray is on suicide watch in his jail cell in Los Angeles. A more honorable doctor would have needed a suicide watch shortly after his patient died as a result his gross neglect, rather than shortly after he faces his punishment for that neglect. Then again, the honorable doctor wouldn't have let his patient die from gross neglect in the first place.
R.E.M.is breaking up after three decades of making great music. This is probably the best band I never saw play live. I've been a huge fan of the band since I first heard So. Central Rain. When I was studying for the bar in my bar prep course at Chapman College, Losing My Religion was on the radio almost every drive home. One of my favorite things to do is sing It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine) at karaoke. It's the hardest song on any playlist, and the difficulty is compounded by the fact that every karaoke place has the wrong lyrics on their screens. To sing it right, you have to close your eyes and sing it from memory, or else you start singing crap like "virgin snakes and airplanes." Virgin snakes? WTF is a virgin snake. R.E.M. wouldn't write something that stupid. I think they must have outsourced their lyric gathering to India and assigned it to someone who didn't know English yet.
Anyhow, I feel sad.
Maybe they'll do a reunion show at Coachella in a few years.
On The Sopranos, Steve "Little Steven" Van Zandt played Silvio Dante, the consigliere to New Jersey mob boss Tony Soprano. His primary job: giving sage advice to The Boss. This weekend, Little Steven reprised the role in real life, as Bruce "The Boss" Springsteen rocked the house in Auburn Hills, Michigan, shouting out "Hello Ohio!" to the audience. Little Steven whispered in Springsteen's ear that they were actually in Michigan, which saved the Boss from getting whacked at the hands of angry Michigan men who would rather be mistaken for gay than be mistaken for Ohio people. The Boss apologized and the show went on. Way to cover the Boss's back, Silvio!
So here I am, at Staples Center, watching Taylor Swift in concert. Now, don't get me wrong; she's a talented artist, and she puts on a great show, with more theatrics than most, and she's far more animated than some of my favorite acts, like, say, Oasis. But most of her songs don't speak to me, and the only reason I'm even here is because I had to drive my kid and her friend to the show. Rather than sit in the car, I went ahead and got a ticket, and oddly enough, a floor seat was available 20 minutes before Gloriana and Kellie Pickler were set to open. So I'm sitting here in the middle of the floor surrounded by strangers, most of whom are teenagers with curly hair. Not all, though. To the left of me is a dude who looks like Scott Foley's twin, and the dude is a weirdo. Security has had to tell him to stop doing weird stuff a couple of times. And security moved me once, too, because they either sold me the wrong seat or directed me to the wrong seat. They don't seem to know which. So all in all, it's better than sitting in the car, but not quite as good as watching a good DVD with my wife.
Here's a better photo. Swift singing "Your Body is a Wonderland" with John Mayer.
Favorite Album - The Cure's "Disintegration." Favorite Band (All-Time) - Depeche Mode Favorite Band (Defunct) - The Smiths Favorite Local Band - The Young Dubliners Favorite Song - Modern English's "Melt with You." Favorite Song by Favorite Band - But Not Tonight Favorite Music Video - A-Ha's Take On Me Favorite Singer - Neil Tennant Favorite Guitarist - B.B. King Favorite Lryicist (Alive) - Morrissey Favorite Lryicist (Dead) - Jim Morrison Favorite Lyric - The Smiths' Stop Me if You Think You've Heard This One Before: "And the pain was enough to make a shy bald Buddhist reflect and plan a mass murder."
My daughter and I dug the Coldplay show at the Honda Center in Anaheim last night. If they had played a Trouble and the complete track of Talk, it might have been perfect. The Register gave the show a good review and has a slideshow with much better photos than mine. There's already about 100 videos from the show posted on YouTube. I twittered the show, and by checking my twitter account, I was able to recreate the set list, and I've found most of the show on YouTube.
1. Life in Technicolor
2. Violet Hill
4. In My Place
5. Speed of Sound
6. Cemeteries of London
7. Chinese Sleep Chant
9. Fix You
10. Strawberry Swing (lifted from another show)
11/12 God Put a Smile on Your Face / Talk
13. The Hardest Part / Postcards from Far Away
14. Viva la Vida
16 The Scientist
17. Death Will Never Conquer
18. Politik (lifted from a 2006 show)
19. Lovers in Japan / Reign of Love
20. Death and all his Friends
21. (Encore) Yellow
If you have a better clip than one of the ones I embedded here, drop me an email and I'll swap 'em out.
I had no intention of actually attending this Jonas Brothers concert Monday night at the Honda Center. When my younger daughter said she didn't care about going, we decided to sell one pair of our floor seats and let the older one invite a friend. I was going to take the girls to the show, and stay in the car and read while they enjoyed the concert. Then my buyers, three of them, all flaked out, and I was stuck with four floor seats. So we decided to use them.
When we arrived, we got a bit of a surprise regarding our seat location. We were in the 12th row of the front left section, but the floor seats actually began with row 10. It turned out that Disney Channel was filming a 3-D Jonas Brothers concert movie to be aired in January, and to make it more interesting, they took out the first nine rows, moved everyone else back a few feet, and filled the area around the stage, including a long catwalk that stuck out of the middle, with teenage girls. According to a security guard I talked to between the opening act and the Jonas Brothers, the general admission stage area was filled with paid extras. Hundreds of little girls making scale. It made sense. Disney could completely control the behavior of the fans seen in most of the footage, making it safe for the band to use the catwalk, to spray foam on them, and to interact with them. The pit area had lots of grownups with bullhorns, a lot of water buckets and cups and other things one might need in a workplace. All the girls up front seemed to have cameras and glowing lightsticks, and they were all very well behaved. Yes, they were definitely planted.
The big, big, big downside of all of this was that people who had floor seats in the first nine rows got screwed. They showed up, made their way to the floor, and were handed new tickets, generally in the 200 sections. According to the same security guard and his buddy, they were all pissed off beyond belief. They thought they were getting punked. Some raised a pretty big fuss, but apparently, the language right on the ticket says they can screw you over like this.
Still, imagine if you had dropped a ton of cash on 2nd row floor tickets to see the band that my daughters think to be "way, way bigger" than Hannah Montana, only to arrive and be sent to mid-section loge level seating. Sure, they offered you the $40 or so in price difference between what you bought and what they charged for tickets in the crappy section where you got redirected, but big deal. You expected to be in the first few rows. Suddenly, you are in lousy seats way off to the side. You'd be pissed, too.
We, however, were not pissed. It was abundantly clear, once we were down there, that being in the 12th row would have meant my younger kid wouldn't have seen a damn thing, but now that row 12 was row 3, she could see quite well, and eventually, they let her hang out in the front row, where she could see even better. As the band got ready to take the stage, the big screens kept flashing text messages that girls could send in from their cell phones. A bunch of them said things like "OMG OMG, Scream your head off if you love Joe!!!!" And then the place would get crazy loud. Dudes with boxes and boxes of various kinds of glowsticks came around passing them out like free Halloween candy, but mostly just for the kids on the floor or near the floor in the 200 level. Right before the lights went back out, Taylor Swift walked in front of us, and all the girls freaked out. She's rumored to be dating one of the band members. Then the lights went out and the band started playing. To my surprise, I recognized the song. Something about the way they roll. They had at least twelve other musicians up there with them, too.
This is as good a close up as I could get.
The band could come way out into the audience with that catwalk. Essentially, it took up what was supposed to be the best seats in the house. Front and center. While it probably made for good TV, I thought it was kind of a chickenshit move that must have come from a Disney suit. I couldn't imagine U2 or Depeche Mode or the Rolling Stones pulling that kind of crap on their best fans.
In addition to the presence of many, many video cameras, obscuring people's views, hovering over the fans like creepy robots, one of the oddities that came with the filming was that there were several interruptions in the show. They played three or four songs, then it all came to a stop. The band left. Costumes were changed. The band spokeshole took the stage and tried to get everyone to scream louded than last night's crowd. Sometimes, they played video clips while we waited. The gaps were short, no more than a few minutes. But they were many.
During one of the breaks, we were entertained by two more songs from the opening act, Demi Lovato. She's in something called Camp Rock on the Disney Channel. She performed well and I enjoyed the songs, even though I'd never heard them before.
One of the video breaks told the story of how the youngest one, Nick, found out last year that he has Type 1 diabetes. That was a bummer. Then he came out and played piano, performing a song that he wrote about the experience. It was a little over the top, but pretty good, frankly, for a teenager writing and playing his own material and trying to perform it inspiringly.
At one point, the band did something that absolutely confirmed for me that the girls in the pit were performers. They brought out hoses, and started shooting foam all over the pit area. It'll probably look cool on the 3-D screen. After a few bursts, just about all of the girls ended up covered with white spots of foam. If they were just concertgoers, I suspect that they would have been all, "OMG. OMFG. WTF? I'm covered in like foam, all over my brand new dress." But they all took it in stride. Such professionals.
Some of them even went out and got towels (see the one with a towel around her neck, heading back into the pit?), so no one slipped on the floor. And lots of them who got foamed in the face had headed over to the water coolers for relief from a styrofoam cup.
They had a lot of microphones in the audience, recording the sounds noise. For some of the sing-a-long parts, they shoved it right in the grill of the girl in front of me. They didn't point it at parents. If they had, I'd have clammed up. I sang like the house was mine when it happened to me in the front row at Depeche Mode, but last night, honestly, I only recognized about five of the songs, and I only knew the words to one of them. This is the photo of the guy who mostly handled the noise around our area. I like this shot. It almost looks like he's holding up a miniature Jonas Brother with his mic.
This was the treat of the night. To the surprise of no one who saw her walk in before the show, Taylor Swift took the stage in a "big surprise" for the movie. While I was out buying water and gatorade, plus a bag for the programs, she sang her current top ten hit, "You Shoulda Said No," which is setting some sort of record for the most top ten hits on a debut, or by a teenager, or by a woman, or something else that Taylor Swift is. It was a real deja vu moment for me, because the first and only other time I had seen her perform was in January, while I was still aching from my first surgery. Like then, I was exhausted. Spent. Sore. On drugs. But happy because of the unusually great time my girls were having. Then the funniest part of the night came. Taylor Swift left. And it got quiet. Then one of the brothers started sort of kissing the audience's butts about how great they were. How they were way better than last time. How they love coming to California, and to Orange County, how they get treated like they are home. And they got everyone screaming. He then told us that they wanted to shoot Taylor's song a second time. So even though we knew the surprise, when Taylor gets announced, we have to act surprised and go crazy. After all, it's a movie, so we gotta all be actors. So they bring her out again, and everyone acts surprised, and she sings her hit song a second time with the band. And she did it well.
The show wound down with a couple of songs I recognized from the Disney Channel, including SOS and one other I forget. They did some tricks for the camera, like playing and singing from these high rising foot platforms. I would have passed on the high platforms if I was them.
It didn't take long for the camera with video to get their amateur clips onto youtube. Who knows how long these will last, but here are a few. First, here's the dude explaining the filming of the movie and trying to get people to do what the movie people want us to do.
This view sort of shows what the stage looked like. We were three back from the mass of moshers around the extended stage.
Later, acting surprised for Taylor Swift's [second] surprise visit.
The only downsides for the night: it was hot. And there was a girl in front of us with a giant pink sign that said "backstage passes", in an failed effort to get some. She didn't hold it up all the time, but she held it up too often and too long. It could have been worse. Walking around outside, it seemed like every other girl had a sign or a painted message on her shirt. We mostly had painted shirts in front of us.
There was only one part of the show I didn't like. A brother tries to get the parents, maybe 1000 of us, probably less, to cheer. "How many parents are having a good time?" then ... almost nothing. A polite smattering of applause. "You can do better than that. How many parents are having a good time?" Weak applause again. "Oh, come on, I know you're not that old!" Old? Did that punk just call us old?
And I formed the words in my head and on my lips. Close enough that the little turd could hear me. "FUCK YOU, young man!" But the words stayed in my mouth. Too many little girls who don't need to hear that. But I thought it. Oh yes I thought it. I may be old enough to be the real dad that they never knew, but that doesn't mean I'm too old to rock, if you're rocking with my kind of stuff. Not crap like "Year 3000"
Come on guys. The Year 3000? "I've been to the year 3000. Not much has changed but they lived underwater. And your great-great-great-granddaughter is doing fine." ?? What kind of crap lyric is that? Not much has changed except this water life? Dude, living under water is major change. Substantial. And your great-great-great-granddaughter is going to be living from somewhere like 2090 to 2175. In the year 3000, her grave is going to be 800 years old and probably buried in ruins of a city with another city built over it. That's a dumb line. It's not as dumb as Sade's "Coast to coast, L.A. to Chicago," but its almost that dumb.
Getting out of the place at the end of the show was fast. After the second song of the encore, they introduced the band members, took bows and all that. It looked like a legitimate good night, rather than a faux finale, with another encore available for the begging. So when the band left, we almost literally sprinted up the stairs. By the time we got to the top, the lights were coming on. We went straight for the t-shirt stand, before the 20 person lines formed. We got shirts quickly and some other stuff and went to the car. The exit in the back corner of the lot was putting people directly onto the freeway ramp. Three cars merging, and that was it. Less than a minute from buckling up to hitting the freeway. That's how you end the night!
Thanks to my daughters who helped put together the pieces of this post.
Instead of playing poker with famous athletes and celebrities tonight at the Playboy Mansion, I was here, at the Pond Honda Center, with my daughters and thousands of other little girls who screamed for the Jonas Brothers like they were the freaking Beatles. I can't complain too much about our seats. Aside from the custom-made mosh pit crowd, we were pretty much sitting in the third row of the front floor section. And the boys put on a good show. It just wasn't my thing.
The crowd was overwhelmingly teenage and overwhelmingly girl and overwhelmingly devoted to watching every moment of live action. As a result, when I was served as the water and Gatorade runner to the girls, I noticed that, unlike every other concert I've ever attended, during the singing, there was damn near zero activity at the snack counters and the beverage carts. Walk right up. No wait for pizza and beer. If anyone was even drinking beer, that is. According to the lady behind the counter, almost no beers were being sold all night. I didn't buy any either. It just wasn't that kind of concert.
I'm going to post a few pictures and tell a couple of little stories about it tomorrow. The story about how we ended up in the third row, even though we didn't buy third row tickets, is a funny story, as long as you didn't drop big ducats on floor seats in the first nine rows. And there are some other funny twists, including how it became a Taylor Swift concert for one song. Well, two songs, sort of. That's another story. I'll save it for tomorrow. Maybe later if the boy arrives.
I loved Black Celebration by Depeche Mode. I loved The Queen is Dead by the Smiths. I loved the Psychedelic Furs' Mirror Moves. I loved U2's the Unforgettable Fire. I loved New Order's Substance and Oasis's (What's the Story) Morning Glory? I loved R.E.M.'s Automatic for the People, and I loved Nirvana's Nevermind. Recently, I loved Modest Mouse's Good News for People Who Love Bad News and Coldplay's A Rush of Blood to the Head.
I've loved many records in the 25 years I've been buying them, ever since I walked into Licorice Pizza on Whittier Boulevard and plunked down a full album's worth of money and spent it all on Gary Numan's The Pleasure Principal, then went back a few weeks later for Pat Benatar's new record, Crimes of Passion, for which I had previously obtained only bad cassette copies bootlegged off the a.m. radio.
But none of them were quite as good as Disintegration.
Disintegration was a pop record that poured out like an epic love story in drum, guitar and agonizing vocals. Its wild mood swings and long drawn out, fully developed melody lines made it an easy listen, start to finish, in order, perfectly arranged with each song overlaying the other like the petals of a dark but colorful flower. There is nothing else musically that comes close to awakening the dark and anxious, but hopeful and excited affective states of mind that clouded, cooled and colored my college experience. Disintegration nailed it. The sounds are so thick and rich, you can almost feel them swirl around you like strong but soft feathery tentacles. A couple of beers or Bartles & James bottles helped the mind to wipe the sounds like a finger on a fresh pastel painting, and the result was some of the best art to ever grace an open air concert venue.
This is in stark contrast to the crap blowers that they've lined up for the KROQ Weenie Roast this year.
The Offspring (haven't made new good stuff in years)
The Raconteurs (a few enjoyable tunes)
Rise Against (does nothing for me)
Bad Religion (a few enjoyable tunes)
Pennywise (does nothing for me)
The Bravery (a few enjoyable tunes)
Scars on Broadway (does nothing for me)
Seether (does nothing for me)
Flogging Molly (I'd probably dig 'em
Atreyu (does nothing for me)
MGMT (does nothing for me)
Flobots (does nothing for me)
Ludo (does nothing for me)
That's a lot of stink to get to a handful of good songs. If I go, which is unlikely, this would not rank in my twenty favorite festival shows. My two favorites were:
1998 KROQ Almost Acoustic XMas (Night 2): Depeche Mode, Billy Corgan, Garbage, Brian Setzer Orchestra, Goo Goo Dolls, Cake, Everlast, Semisonic, Soul Coughing. That's six artists I would have paid to see headlining.
1997 KROQ Weenie Roast: The Cure, Chemical Brothers, Offspring, Oasis, Foo Fighters, Blur, Echo & The Bunnymen, Wallflowers, Social Distortion, Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Squirrel Nut Zippers, Reel Big Fish, Radiohead, Third Eye Blind, Save Ferris. It didn't have DMode, but damn, that's four bands I would and did see headlining at other shows, and another worthy of a night at the top of the bill. The only bad part was the Offspring being jerks and encouraging people to throw stuff. Rumor was that they were banned for life at KROQ shows, but that rumor must be wrong, given the 2008 WR lineup.
But neither of these festival shows were are cool as the best concert I ever went to:
1988 The Concert For the Masses: It's not just because I was on the radio talking to the band when they announced the gig. It wasn't just the lightning show that had some synchronicity to it. It's not the food fight, which we watched turn from a two-man battle right below us into an entire stadium chucking everything that could leave their hands in any direction but up. It was Wire, Thomas Dolby and OMD warming us up. It was the biggest and best fan ending ever to "Everything Counts." It was the Rose Bowl. It was Depeche Mode at their peak, just one record removed from Black Celebration. It was everything.
With all apologies for any inconvenience or disappointment it may cause, we have made a decision to move the September/October 2007 North American Cure shows to April/May 2008.
The schedule as it stands only gives us a couple of weeks to finish our new double album before we hit the road again, and we know this just isn’t enough time to complete the project to our total satisfaction.
Here's my favorite concert song by The Cure. It'll have to do for now.
If you missed it, here is a video of the delay-of-game penalty USC took in Saturday's 38-10 victory over Idaho. Classiest penalty in the history of the game.
I hope the rescheduled show(s) won't conflict with my vacation schedule.
Be sure to watch Britney Spears in her MTV Music Video Awards "comeback" performance of Gimme More. The girl is getting thick and moving like a slug. ... Keep watching to see Sarah Silverman rip her viciously.
It was a lot of fun, but the band was rusty and the crowd was, too. Almost immediately, Sting asked for patience and tolerance by reminding the audience that they hadn't played together for 24 years. The rust showed. Nonetheless, we enjoyed it, and frankly they could have really blown it and the fans wouldn't have cared. The Police left us in 1983, at a pinnacle of commercial and artistic success, and their fans have missed them ever since.
Aside from the surrealism of seeing the Police on stage together again, and all looking like aging ex-Beatles or something, the thing that struck me the most tonight was how old and quiet we -- the crowd --were. We were mostly between about 35 and 45. We sat most of the time. We had fat, bald and just plain old looking folks all over. It didn't seem concert-like. We were calm and quiet. For myself, I didn't even have so much as a single beer, and I wasn't alone. As a group, we clearly had no recollection of how to party at a concert. For the first time in my life, I understood why my parents and all their old friends blew their money on Righteous Brothers and Neil Diamond tickets two decades ago when they were clearly too old to qualify as bona fide concertgoers, and too old to really party. They just wanted to hear some of their favorite old music again, performed by the original favorite old artists.
Few people in our section (a 200 level ticket across the floor from the stage) danced, and the few who did, did so very poorly. We had one freak to our left, flopping around like Janis Joplin on acid, and another one to our right, who moved like Barney Rubble, but constantly had his left hand down near his crotch. There were times when we couldn't actually tell whether he was dancing, jerking off, or scratching crabs off his nuts. For most of the show, that was it. It was enough, though. There should be a rule at concerts that says
If you can't dance, you can't dance.
Sadly, there is no such rule. Yet. There is, however, a rule that says you can't smoke weed at a concert anymore. Right next to us was a really fat dude who sparked up a joint full of skunk bud that was bigger than a regular cigarette. He and his buddy each took one or two huge hits that stunk up the whole section right away, prompting Staples Center security to come down and tell him to take it to the smoking patio or put it out.
The set list was:
Message in a Bottle
Walking on the Moon
Voices Inside My Head
When the World Is Running Down...
Don't Stand So Close to Me
Driven to Tears
The Bed's Too Big Without You
Truth Hits Everybody
Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic
Wrapped Around Your Finger
De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da
Walking in Your Footsteps
Can't Stand Losing You
Roxanne [end of first set]
King of Pain
So Lonely [end of first encore]
Every Breath You Take [end of second encore]
Next to You [end of show]
I put the ones I enjoyed the most in bold, for whatever that's worth. In general, I thought they got stronger as the show progressed, both in the selection of songs and in the playing itself. They skipped Murder by Numbers and Spirits in the Material World, which, from what I had read, they performed at some earlier shows. Tonight, they play the Honda Center in Anaheim (fka the Pond), and on Saturday, they play Dodger Stadium. If you want to see some previews, check out the Police2007Tour blog and then go get some tickets.
The OC Register Review of the show can be read here.
I have a great St. Patrick's Day planned. I'm going to Sham Rock 2007 in San Diego, featuring the Young Dubliners and the Fenians. The Fenians, by the way, are fiends. They are doing an hour long gig at Sham Rock from 5:30 p.m. tp 6:30 p.m., then jamming up to the House of Blues in Anaheim for an 8:00 p.m. show!
If you are not that kind of fiend, and your idea of St. Patrick's Day involves dieting and stuff, check out this spam that came in my email inbox this week. I loved how it noted that "a light meal will be provided" since apparently they believe that fat people cannot make it from 9 a.m. to noon without a meal ...
This informative seminar is designed to identify and discuss the complexity of obesity. It will provide an overview of physical, medical, cultural, psychological and behavioral factors. We will also explore the consequences of obesity, what we know about treatment, including surgical weight-loss options, and factors that determine success. This seminar is designed for anyone who is seriously overweight.
Tower Records is just about ready to close its doors. The latest bargain: all rap CDs marked down to $1.50. Don't get a speeding ticket on your way down, though. All five of the good rap CDs are sold out.
Apparently, Leif Garrett was arrested last weekend for jumping a subway fare and having drugs in his possession. Garrett was one of those Tiger Beat cover boys that wore girl's haircuts in the 70s and sang crappy songs that most of the girls I had crushes on seemed to like, so I pretended that I didn't think he sucked until the girl rejected me, whereupon I would say something like "Oh, and your boyfriend Leif Garrett is a fag." It never got me very far with the ladies, but it felt good at the time. I now realize how foolish I was to say such things. It would have been far more clever to claim that Garrett was a lesbian.
Anyhow, Garrett is no longer fooling teenage girls into thinking he is cool, and he has turned to a life of crime, allegedly. When he pled not guilty yesterday to a variety of charges, the newspapers suddenly remembered him and put him back in the headlines for a day. One headline said "Former teen idol arrested for drug possession. May face treatment."
I saw the picture. If I was Leif Garrett, and I read that headline, I would say "Face treatment? I'd love some face treatment. I could definitely use some face treatment. Thank you."
1. A Pain That I'm Used To 2. John the Revelator 3. A Question of Time 4. Policy of Truth 5. Precious 6. Walking in my Shoes 7. Suffer Well 8. Damaged People 9. Home 10. I Want It All 11. The Sinner in Me 12. I Feel You 13. Behind the Wheel 14. World ln My Eyes 15. Personal Jesus 16. Enjoy the Silence [end of set]
1. Somebody [or A Question of Lust] 2. Just Can't Get Enough 3. Everything Counts [end of first encore]
1. Never Let Me Down Again 2. Goodnight Lovers [end of show]
Today, I am sick as a dog. I feel like complete and utter shit, Ferris. I went to my parents' house for Thanksgiving dinner and ended up falling asleep for two hours before my wife drove my sweating, feverish, barely able to breathe carcass home. But it could have been worse. And so I am thankful.
How could it have been worse? Well, for starters, I could have been this sick yesterday, which might have caused me to miss the Depeche Mode concert at the Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim. And that would have made me cry, because I had some above-average front row floor seats. Seats that gave me views of the action this good:
And I would have missed out on the single most enjoyable moment I've ever had at a concert. Even better than that time I got onstage during the Smiths concert at Irvine Meadows and climbed up onto the top of the giant speaker. Early in the show, the band was performing Policy of Truth, and frontman Dave Gahan was right in front of us -- me, my wife, my brother and his wife -- on a little platform that extends out from the left side of the stage.
Dave put the microphone out for the audience to sing the chorus, and I was screaming it at the top of my lungs; and I have pretty loud lungs. So when the words "in the policy of truth" came around, Dave lowered the microphone right in front of my pie hole. And I belted those words out as loud and in tune as I could. Dave seemed to dig it. I sure did. And after he went back across the stage, everyone around was slapping my back and high-fiving me.
A sold out, cavernous Pond was full of fans, and they got to hear six guys on the mic all night -- the three band members, the two touring musicians who also sang backup, and, for a brief moment, me.
Thank you, Dave, it was a blast, and was actually worth the absurd amount of money (more than my parents put down on their first house) it cost to get the four of us into the front row.
While Dave runs all over the stage, for most of the concert, we were in front of Martin Gore, who sets up on the left side of the stage (stage right, from his perspective). I'm just starting to learn guitar, so I really got a kick out of watching Martin's guitar work. You would never think of Depeche Mode as a guitar band, but Martin plays ten different guitars on about a dozen guitar-laden songs. I kept hoping he would chuck a couple of guitar picks into the audience, like BB King does. That would have doubled my collection of famous musicians' guitar picks.
If you have never been to a Depeche Mode concert, you should give it a try. Dave Gahan is one of the best frontmen in all of music, and the audience participation rocks. I was so glad they added Everything Counts to the set list again. That song is one of the best songs any band anywhere at any time has performed live. When the audience sings "The grabbing hands grab all they can, everything counts in large amounts," it is a sight and sound to behold.
Anyhow, since the 1984 Master and Servant Tour, I've never missed an L.A. or Orange County show by Depeche Mode. I saw them on the Black Celebration Tour in 1986 and I was hooked for good. If they play 3 nights, I go to 3 shows. If they play five (and they did a couple of tours back), I hit all five shows. So this time, I went to Staples Center on Monday and Tuesday night, and to the Pond on Wednesday. And I knew I was getting sicker and sicker each night, but with front row seats awaiting me on Wednesday, I knew I had to tough it out.
Lucky for me, there was no fourth LA or OC show. Because if there was one tonight, I'd have had tickets, but I would have been literally too sick to go. And I would be sitting here depressed and anxious because my streak of umpteen straight concerts would be broken. But there is no show tonight, so I can just sit at home and try to Shake the Disease.
I sometimes forget to take my mp3 player off repeat mode, and then I fall asleep. It's okay when the song is pleasant and neither creepy nor annoying. But it's not always okay. These five songs gave me bad dreams and had me waking up in the morning with a strange sense of unease.
Arrested Development - Mr. Wendal (especially the intro); Bauhaus - Bela Lugosi's Dead Kate Bush - Under Ice The Doors - The End ATC - All Around The World (la la la la la la)
Every so often, I get a song in my head and I can't get it out. Sometimes I fight it, sometimes I don't. This week, the song is "Scarborough Fair" by Simon & Garfunkle. I tried to fight it and I failed. I give up. I'm just going to keep playing the mp3 over and over again until it burns itself out. The only really bad thing about it is that there is one part of the song that sounds a lot like an incoming instant message, which has faked me out repeatedly.
Still, it's not as bad as that one time when I fell asleep with the mp3 of "Bela Legosi's Dead" in repeat mode and my wife and I both had nightmares all night.
If you listen to indie music stations, you might keep hearing what sound like your favorite bands' new releases. They aren't. They are new acts that sound like old acts. For example:
Arcade 3 sounds a lot like Modest Mouse. Ben Kweller sounds remarkably like the Violent Femmes. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs sound a lot like the Pretenders. Louis XIV sounds like Iggy Pop. Autolux could be straight off the debut album of the Smashing Pumpkins. Kilo Riley sounds like Jewel. Citizen Cope is a dead-ringer for Everlast. The Chemical Brothers sound like the Tri-Delt Band from Revenge of the Nerds. Dogs Die in Hot Cars would make a good Madness. Taking Back Sunday sounds vaguely like the Offspring. The Dears remind me a little bit of the Smiths. Lazyboy sounds a lot like Dennis Leary. Razorlight's Golden Touch sounds like the Cure's 10:15 on a Saturday Night. Anti-Flag sounds vaguely like Green Day. Jem sounds like Evanescence. Or vice versa. I'm not sure which came first.
Ashlee Simpson loves to try to bullshit her way out of her bouts of public humiliation. The latest attempt is her recent interview in which she tried to spin her embarrassing performance of La La at the Orange Bowl, after which she was booed off the stage by 78,000 people, and cheered on by about 4 people.
Her explanation was three-fold:
1. "There were no ear monitors when we went on stage, and trying to sing in a stadium where you can't hear yourself is kinda hard."
Nice try, but Kelly Clarkson and Trace Adkins had no better stage or equipment, and they sounded just fine. Plus, Simpson was booed more than a little bit from the moment she took the stage, with the booing merely growing stronger as her awful performance continued.
2. "I was facing the Oklahoma Sooners, and I was rooting for USC, and they played a clip of it, so maybe it was that those people didn't like me."
And yet, neither Will Ferrell, nor Shaquille O'Neal, also notably rooting for USC, were booed when they were shown on the screen or -- in Shaq's case -- the field.
3. "Maybe they were booing at me, maybe they were booing at the halftime show because the whole thing sucked. If they didn't like the performance, and that's what it was about, then sorry to them."
While some people might agree that "the whole thing sucked" , only one performance drew boos. And, in all likelihood, if it wasn't for that final performance's dreadfulness, the overall show wouldn't have been half-bad.
The reality is, people don't like Simpson. She is perceived as a no-talent corporate creation thrust upon an uninterested public by a music industry that falsely assume that people will tolerate her just because she has an enormously popular and attractive, if somewhat mentally challenged, older sister. She's not very pretty. Her nose looks funny. And no one believes that she has any singing ability, because of the bubble-gum songs she sings, and, of course, her singingless fiasco on SNL. Even worse, she exposed herself as having poor character when she turned on her band immediately, on live TV, lied and came up with no fewer than three different explanations for that SNL performance. She's filming a movie right now, and it's going to be called -- I swear I did not make this up -- "Wannabe."
Her album was called Autobiography, but Wannabe will be more autobiographical if it is true to its title.
And, finally, her song "La La" is awful, and she sings it like a pack of annoyed dogs howling as a fire engine drives past. That last line, "you make me want to scream" was sung as if she was a drag queen with a man's voice, and dragging the word out to make it sound like "scoo-reeee-um" was just ... bad. Very bad. And it made us want to scream and cover our ears.
Ashlee Simpson sucks. And I don't mean that in a good way (as in "Paris Hilton sucks.") I wish she would just go away. And I'm not alone.
I just stumbled upon a link I saved to Blender Magazine's list of the 50 Worst Songs Ever. I actually liked a bunch of the songs on the list, but if I was making a list of 50 worst ever, it would definitely include these ten from Blender's list:
1. We Built This City ... Starship ... 1985 2. Achy Breaky Heart ... Billy Ray Cyrus ... 1992 3. Ice Ice Baby ... Vanilla Ice ... 1990 4. Party All the Time ... Eddie Murphy ... 1985 5. Ebony and Ivory ... Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder ... 1982 6. You're the Inspiration ... Chicago ... 1984 7. Rico Suave ... Gerardo ... 1991 8. She Bangs ... Ricky Martin ... 2000 9. I Wanna Sex You Up ... Color Me Badd ... 1991 10. We Didn't Start the Fire ... Billy Joel ... 1989
Have you ever wondered why Auld Lang Syne is so short? You always hear that song on New Year's Eve, and everyone sings one verse and the chorus and then either stops or repeats themselves. This ain't no Henry the Eighth. The second verse is different than the first.
This year, impress your friends by singing all the verses.
Should auld acquaintance be forgot, And never brought to mind? Should auld acquaintance be forgot, And auld lang syne?
CHORUS: For auld Lang syne, my dear, For auld Lang syne, We'll tak a cup of kindness yet, For auld Lang syne!
And surely ye'll be your pint-stowp, And surely I'll be mine, And we'll tak a cup o kindness yet, For auld Lang syne!
CHORUS: For auld Lang syne, my dear, For auld Lang syne, We'll tak a cup of kindness yet, For auld Lang syne!
We twa hae run about the braes, And pou'd the gowans fine, But we've wander'd monie a weary fit, Sin auld Lang syne.
CHORUS: For auld Lang syne, my dear, For auld Lang syne, We'll tak a cup of kindness yet, For auld Lang syne!
We twa hae paidl'd in the burn Frae morning sun till dine, But seas between us braid hae roar'd Sin auld Lang syne.
CHORUS: For auld Lang syne, my dear, For auld Lang syne, We'll tak a cup of kindness yet, For auld Lang syne!
And there's a hand my trusty fiere, And gie's a hand o thine, And we'll tak a right guid-willie waught, For auld Lang syne.
I finally saw it. I never watch Saturday Night Live anymore. Like body noises and chainmailed lists of funny stuff to do in elevators, it just doesn't seem very funny to me these days. But, oh, I wish I had seen Ashlee Simpson's meltdown on live TV Saturday.
For those of you who don't know, Ashlee Simpson is the less pretty, less talented younger sister of Jessica Simpson. She isn't exactly ugly, like, say Paris Hilton. But she's second best. She has a hit song called Pieces of Me. It's tolerable. Radio Disney plays the hell out of it, and my daughters seem to have it playing a lot. It's almost as good as Hilary Duff's stuff.
As anyone who has ever been forced to sit through the Lizzie McGuire Movie knows, some pop singers do not really sing very well. They either have to lip synch all the time (like Milli Vanilli) or sometimes (like Britney Spears and Madonna), or they have background vocals to boost their weak-ass voices (like Paula Abdul) so that their pretty faces can sell more records. Let's face it, Britney Spears will always outsell someone like Bjork, who can sing like a siren but has a face that makes you want to call the paramedics.
Ashlee was doing well in that world until Saturday, when she did Saturday Night Live. Apparently, at Simpson's school, they didn't teach the kids what "live" meant. So she went forth and faked it. After a rousing fake of Pieces of Me, Simpson came out to perform her second song. Apparently, she has more than one song.
During her second number, while her microphone was down near her naughty parts, the music started playing and a recording of Simpson singing Pieces of Me could be heard. The band started playing something different, then the vocals stopped, and Simpson started doing a pathetic little jig, twice, before slinking off the stage about a half minute into the performance. At the end of the show, she ripped on her band. "I feel so bad. My band started playing the wrong song."
The next day, she had about six different explanations (i.e., the band started playing the wrong song, the drummer hit the wrong button, etc.), the best of which came from her dad, who said that she was using a backup vocal track for the first time ever, because of acid reflux disease. Then, in almost the same breath, he said "Just like any artist in America, she has a backing track that she pushes so you don't have to hear her croak through a song on national television," Joe Simpson.
So do they all have acid reflux?
Now, at least, we will all find out whether that Lizzie McGuire Movie plot was plausible. No, I don't mean the part where American nobody girl Lizzie goes on a school field trip to Italy and meets a famous European pop superstar and ends up singing with him at the MTV European Music Awards. We all know that was completely realistic. I mean that part where a pop star gets busted doing a lip sync and drops from the public eye in an instant.
I can hope.
And maybe next time someone asks me if I want to supersize that order, I'll look up and meet Ashlee Simpson.
It's not an emotion I often feel. I am wracked with it tonight.
I had several chances to see Ray Charles perform. I f*cking blew it. Charles died this morning in Los Angeles. By the time I knew he was declining, it was too late. He would never perform again. Did I ever mention that Ray Charles was my idol? He was. Did I ever mention that I used to spend hours and hours trying to imitate his voice? I did. Did I ever mention that my favorite TV show ever was the Quantum Leap episode ("M.I.A. - April 1, 1969") that featured Al's first wife, Beth, dancing to "Georgia on my Mind?" It is. Did I ever mention that I sing Georgia On My Mind and Unchain My Heart at karaoke bars? I do.
What a lousy week. Ronald Reagan? Gone. Ray Charles? Gone.
Attention Jerry West: go into hiding for a few days. You are in serious danger. All of Lex's idols are expiring this week.
Before heading out to the desert to headline the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival, British rock band The Cure was honored on Friday with a place in the Hollywood Rockwalk, joining greats such as B.B. King, the Ramones and Van Halen. The picture is classic Cure. Those hands weren't just dipped in plain old cement, were they? It looks rather black to me. Did Robert dunk his face in it first? Was the concrete mixed with mascara and eye liner?
Along with The Smiths and Depeche Mode, The Cure formed the foundation of my modern musical education in college. And, although choosing one's favorite song of all time is a difficult task, I can fairly easily settle on the Cure's "Just Like Heaven." Whenever I am sad or tired, that song picks me up in an instant.
Van Halen is going to be here in SoCal in August. I'm mulling over taking it in. I was never much of a head-banging hard rock hessian dude, but Van Halen was so good (even after Dave left), that even us alternative music types could appreciate it.
And speaking of B.B. King, I need to make it a point to go see him perform soon. He is 78 years old, and he's not going to live forever. That is a shame, because B.B. King rules. He was just named Entertainer of the Year by the Blues Foundation of Memphis. It was his sixth straight win. His reward, the blues music industry's equivalent to an Oscar, is called a "Handy," named for blues pioneer W.C. Handy. I need to remember that. If some guy ever offers me a handy, I am going to make sure he's not talking about a blues award before beating his ass.