Tuesday, September 2, 2008

30,000 Drunkard Can't Be Wrong part 2 - Journey / Heart / Cheap Trick 8/30 Bethel

Bethel Woods is my favorite ampitheatre if I have lawn seats. It's only a couple of years old and their lawn is thick and lush, the back of the seating area is high and very open for a great view and it's just beautiful grounds.

This was one of those summer shows where they did the 4 pack ticket lawn bargain. When they went on sale months ago I got the 4 tix including all charges for $99. It was my older sister's weekend and she likes all the bands and never saw Journey (neither had I) so it was a perfect gift, me, the two sisters and the bro in law.

In the months leading up to this show we discussed it with a bunch of friends and planned on getting a big crew together and doing the parking lot party before hand and it would be a great end to the summer, but then the unexpected happened...

The show sold out! I'm not exactly sure when, but I think only about a week before hand...and it seems there were alot of people who waited and planned on buying tickets right before hand because as soon as I head it sold out I went to ebay and stubhub to hopefully score at least two more tickets for two friends who REALLY wanted to go and lawn seats....I repeat LAWN SEATS were selling for over $100 a piece in the days before the show!! Holy Crap!

So, it ended up just being the four of us.

We got there about 5 (first band scheduled to go on at 7) and the main lot was almost completely filled, but we got a nice spot. Hung out had some beers and listened to Journey cranked and incredible volume by the three guy who parked right next to us and were more excited to see Journey than I thought any fella would be!

We headed inside for the Trick. and the lawn was basically completely full. They announced in the local papers that they sold 15,000 tickets to this show to make it a sell out (as well as to the Jonas Brothers who sold out a week or two earlier evidently). I think they should lower the sell out to 14,000 as it was just a bit too packed.

The sound is usually phenomenal here, but for Cheap Trick, it was only okay. Perhaps they suffered the typical opening band not getting full use of the PA, as Heart and Journey sounded great, but for Cheap Trick the volume was too low and sound a bit muddy on the lawn.

Luckily the lawn wasn't muddy - it looked to threaten rain all day, but it never did, although it got very cold for this august night, but more on the effect of that later.

Cheap Trick played a typical rockin set. I've seen them at least a dozen times and they're always great, the only lull for me was "The Flame" which I just never think pulls it's weight in the live scenario, but it was a huge hit and this crowd (which was way more female than a typical rock show) loved it. No real suprises, a few members of Journey joined them for "Dream Police". They played the biggies "Surrender", "I Want You To Want Me". All hits and over too fast, but they crowd gave them love. Personally I have to suggest if Cheap Trick play a theatre or club by you - GO! They are always great, especially given 90 minutes and a full sound system.

Speaking of the crowd. This was one of those crowds that had tons of people who don't go to shows too often anymore...maybe one a year or every too years, but when they do go...oh boy are they ready to party! Plus there were tons of groups of women...women who I think partied hard in the past and were reliving that glory tonight! This quite possibly was the drunkest crowd I've ever seen, but not mean drunk...but alot of fall down drunk!

So the sun set and the mad rush to the bathroom and drink lines happened and then the lights went down and Heart came on opening with "Wild Child". I'm not sure if other than Ann and Nancy anyone else with Heart currently have always been there or if they're just hired guns, but they were tight and solid and the voices and guitar playing of the Sisters Wilson were great. The last time I saw heart was actually about 20 years ago on the Bad Animals tour and I'd say they sounded better now! They did about an hour (with an encore break which was a waste - If you're only doing an hour, how about staying on stage and playing an extra tune) of all hits and two covers (also odd when you have tons of your own hits and only an hour to play.). The covers were an amazing "Love Reign O'er Me" from the Who and one of the encores was Led Zeppelin's "Going to California" which was good, but I thought lacking...would have preferred maybe "Dog and Butterfly" (or they're version of Zep's "Battle of Evermore" which Nancy teased in her acoustic guitar intro to "Crazy On You" the set closer). In there we also go "Barracuda", "Never", "Alone", "Magic Man", "These Dream" and "Straight On", maybe one or two others, a strong set and the crowd loved 'em.

About 25 minute break and by this time the sun is down and goddamn those shorts and tee shirts we all were wearing did not seem like enough any longer. It was a hot august day when the sun was out, but it was damn cold now - I would guess low 50's.

We saw some folks leaving right after Heart, but not many, most of this crowd was here for Journey.

Again this was not really a crowd that follows the latest music news and I would guess 75% of the people did not know they would not be seeing a Steve Perry-less Journey, but everyone would soon realize that Steve Perry is not missed.

The new guy, Arnel Pineda, is amazing. He doesn't alot like Steve Perry - He sounds EXACTLY Like Steve Perry on every song. It's amazing.

Just a huge hit filled set, but strangley what I would consider their biggest hits they played about 3/4 of the way through the show "Faithfully", "Open Arms", and the song that absolutely put them back on the charts with the younger crowd "Don't Stop Believing". I mention this because as I mentioned earlier, it was cold and after two or three songs of Journey's set you started to see people leaving because of this...about 30 or 40 minutes in, it was a good size stream, but when they finished playing "Don't Stop Believing" the crowds started pouring out, maybe not just the cold, but feeling they heard enough hits and for many it was a long day of partying.

My personal fave was "Wheel in the Sky" which came toward the end of the set and "Stone in Love" which was the third or fourth song in.

They did I believe three tunes off their new album which I have to say fit in just fine with their other songs and any hit you can think of was probably played - "Lights", "Lovin Touchin Squeezin", "Any Way You Want It" "Separate Ways" and some others I'm not thinking of at the moment.

Evidently this is one of the hot tickets of the summer/fall, so if it's coming around to your area and you want to go, get those tix now. You will not be dissapointed, these 15,000 party animals weren't.

30,000 Drunkards Can't Be Wrong part 1 - Crue Fest 8/30 SPAC

Quite a blast from the past concert weekend!

Friday was Cruefest at Saratoga. I was hoping I wouldn't have to drive and didn't as my buddy Kevin was bribed with some gas money and a free ticket. Sis Tara came along for this one as well. Before buying tix on ticketmaster or at the door I checked good ole ebay for a bargain and got one...6 lawn seats including shipping for $47 - Haven't paid less than 8 bucks a ticket in a longass time and thought I would have to fight off those who wanted to come with us, but alas the timing just wasn't right for this one and I ended up just straight up giving away the three unused tix at the door. It's amazing how suspicious people are of you when you're offering something free, but when you turn away to offer the tix to the next person in line, they speak right up. So in actuality I guess I ended up paying about $25 bucks for the ticket I used, but these days that's a bargain!

So we got started a little late and left po-town around 5ish and we were parked at spac right before 7. We missed Nikki's band Sixx AM which I haven't heard, but heard it's nice solid rock, and Trapt who I don't really care for anyway. Papa Roach was onstage as we went in - another who cares for me...caught the last 15 minutes of their set and the audience dug them, especially when they ended with Last Resort.

As they ended we decided to hit the Beer Garden. UGH - this is one of the main reasons I hate seeing shows at SPAC. If you want some drinks - and if you've read any of my past blogs or profiles, you KNOW I'll be wanting some - you have to go and drink this in a gated off area WHERE YOU CAN'T SEE THE STAGE! It's the only ampitheatre around here that I know of that does this nonsense.

Anyway, we head to the beer garden just when Papa Roach ends and 10,000 people join us...it's is backed up mob scene getting in. Kev, who's driving and would probably only have 1 beer anyway decided to get a spot to check out Buckcherry. After about 10 minutes we work through the mob to the gate where they're checking ID's (and one would think they would give you a wristband so the next time they don't have to check EVERYONE, but no) we get in and get on an actual line for beer.

I haven't been to tons of shows at SPAC, but a good few and I've NEVER seen the beer garden packed like this...just wall to wall and a very drunk crowd. At the top of the tents it lists the beers you can get and I see magic hat, so my mouth is watering and anticipating the apricotty 9 and I reach the head of my line and guess what...at the top of my line they only have Bud and Bud Light...Magic Hat is available about 5 Taps over, but it's so busy, you have to get what they got. So me and the sis each get a bud and grab small clear spot by the fence to drink it before getting on a line for actual good beer.

In the 10 minutes or so it took us to drink the beer, we saw three men publicly urinating on a tree 3 feet in front of us and the fence we were leaning on 5 feet to the right of us. I'm SURE they didn't piss on the spot I'm leaning on...right guys?!? The thing is there's about 20 portapotties maybe 50 feet away and the lines weren't that bad for those...some folks just like to wizz in public I guess.

So I had seen my annual share of man meat, but it was evened out somewhat buy the 20 year old chick who stood on the other side of the fence from us begging to be let in for beer and flashing away while she did. I found out she was 20 because she turned out to be the cousin of the wife of the guy standing next to us. And I must say it was a little uncomfortable how much attention he was paying his young wife's cousin with his wife standing right next to him. But in happy cruefest fashion his wife ended up finishing her beer and whipping out her whoppers too. Ah...the families that flash together stay together!

So about this time Buckcherry comes on. This caused at least 50% of the beer garden to clear out and the individual beer lines to dwindle down to nothing. Excellent. I dig Buckcherry, but I've seen them before and was really there for the Crue so me and Tara get our Magic
Hats and actually end up getting seats on one of the few benches by the gate.

With Buckcherry playing in the background, we were witness first to this woman in her 50's being heavily hit on by this HAMMERED dude until she yelled at him to get the fuck away from her and bother someone else as her husband was coming back.

This this guy who was surely drunk, but DEFINITELY on something else comes over and sits in the empty spot behind my sister. He's leaning on her so she gets up to go the the porto and somehow I became his best friend. He's chattering away until my sis comes back and sits down, then for some reason he stands up and goes to sit back down and totally misses the bench and lands on his ass on the grass. Oh man, I love a good beer tent.

He gets up when two babes come over and chats them up for a few and leaves.

Some time passes, Me and Tara are finishing our beers and Buckcherry is about finishing their set when perhaps that guys PCP kicked in and he comes running over to me and kneels down and gets about 8 inches from my face and for about 8 minutes he is yelling at me (not mad at me, as I'm somewhat egging him on and agreeing with everything he's saying - just talking VERY LOUDLY and EMOTIONAL like) about some nonsense involving scab workers and Unions and he runs some union and here look at my SPAC shirt and how the local radio station is telling lies about his union and he's "concrete" (he kept saying this) - I'll admit...it was a bit scary. I don't know what set him off, but just glad he thought I was a friend. So I eventually stand up and tell him it's time for the crue and it was the last we saw of him.

I've seen the Crue numerous times and this was nowhere near the best. Not performance wise though, they were energetic, sounded great, etc, more the song selection - only one song from Too Fast for Love, but we get SOS (Same Ol' Situation), Don't Go Away Mad, Primal Scream (in a row no less almost right after Tommy Lee's titty cam break which just kinda brought the show to a halt for me). But they start strong and end strong and if Crue fest continues each year I'll be back, just not at SPAC.

So that was Friday night's party with 15 thousand or so drunkards, the next night continues with 15 thousand more at Bethel Woods for Journey with Heart and Cheap Trick

Thursday, August 14, 2008

MAC vs HAYES : The Great Oscar Death Applause Race

One of the oddest parts of every Academy Awards broadcast each year is the Death Montage. I understand the want to praise and remember the great actors of Hollywood past who have passed on, but I've never understood why they haven't adopted the "Hold your applause until the end" policy that is so common in life.

Think of the poor bastard who appeared onscreen before Heath Ledger at this year's award show. Probably someone who appeared in a few flicks and maybe you recognized him or her and there was probably a light smattering of applause to be followed a few seconds later by the deafening standing ovation that greeted Ledger. It's always struck me as a little tacky. Have the music swell a bit more, give the more popular ones a little more screen time as they had in life, but in death can't we all say we're even now?

Well whenever a celeb that was in the film field dies, I try and think where they'll place on the applause meter at the Oscars and realized with Bernie Mac and Isaac Hayes passing a day apart that those two are a real tough call!

My first thought is Mac will get the big hoorah because not only is he more current (and being in the public's recent mind is a biggie for the applause break - save for those few of Iconic status) but he's current in huge blockbuster films co-starring with Hollywood Elite. Just finally saw Transformers tonight and there he is with Shia (who is being groomed as this generations mix of Tom Cruise/Harrison Ford) and we can't forget his buddies George Clooney, Brad Pitt and the rest of the Ocean's 11, 12 and 13 gang. Just on those four movies alone Bernie has to have box office receipts totalling close to a billion dollars worldwide. Money gets applause too.

So how does Isaac Hayes even have a chance? One word - OSCAR! Hayes won one. 1972 Best Music, Original Song "Theme From Shaft". You pop Hayes' photo on the screen and play that funk that everyone knows and that will be the loudest applause break this year. Pop up a shot of him as Chef from South Park while the "and we can dig it" line comes on and it could be the biggest clapfest ever at the Oscars.
Personally I'd give it to Hayes for The Duke Of New York in John Carpenter's Escape From New York. The Duke was so badass he made a nine fingered President Donald Pleasence declare the truth we all know when looking back on his career. He was the Duke and he was " 'A' Number One!"

I'll miss them both, but my palms will pump a little harder for the man who gave Shaft his signature sounds.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Metal Masters - PNC Holmdel NJ 8/9/08

So Saturday was the long awaited Metal Masters show in Holmdel NJ at the PNC Bank Arts Center. It was part two of my buddy Cal's bachelor party. Seven of us packed into a van and traveled on down.

Got there about 5pm, brought out the lawn chairs and the coolers. PERFECT summer concert weather for this one. 70's and we had a nice shady tree to chill under. We sprang the extra bucks for premier parking so we wouldn't have to hike a mile or two uphill to the venue. Around our second beer each at 5:30 on the dot we heard Testament hit the stage.

I definitely think they're the odd man out on this tour. Granted they've been around over 20 years at this point, but I don't give them the legendary status of the other three bands on the bill...and by the looks of the parking lot, most others didn't either. I like them...but with beers costing $7-$9 a pop inside, we weren't about to let the cold ones we had go to waste.

Testament did about 35 minutes and it was about 6:30 when we decided to head in and just as we got to the gates we heard the Mighty Motorhead hit the stage. The classic Motorhead T-Shirt being sold at the show has a motto on the back which sums up the band "Everything Lounder Than Everything Else". Hell yeah kids. Without a doubt Motorhead are raking in the most money on T-Shirt sales on this tour (at least at this stop)...The shirts were all $35 bucks a piece and for some reason they don't sell a Metal Masters shirt with all the bands. Although the fellows in the parking lot after the show do and sold plenty of them for $10 bucks and even a little cheaper if you waited until driving out.

Lemmy and the boys never disappoint, about a 12 or 13 song set which ended strong with classics like Killed By Death, Ace of Spade and a nice long Overkill to wrap things up!

There was a nice size crowd at the show...we did the lawn thing and while it in the center it was packed back to the last blade of grass, on the sides you could get a nice little patch of grass all to yourself (and nice and close to the bathrooms and beer gardens).

Pretty quick set changes between bands - probably 25 minutes and the sky just getting dark when Heaven and Hell (aka Black Sabbath with Ronnie James Dio) hit the stage. They did a bit over with a set pretty close to what they played when I saw them at Radio City Music Hall last year, one or two new tracks added...a bummer was they didn't come out and encore with Neon Knights which seems to be happening at some of these shows...it's kind of one of their "hits" outside of say Mob Rules and Heaven and Hell so a suprise they don't make sure to play it (especially when they do an extra long version of Heaven and Hell AND Vinnie Appice gets a drum solo?!?!). When you only have a 70 minute set and you have tons of classic tunes you could play, they should be wasting time on a drum solo (although, this being a very beer friendly crowd, the drum solo did go over amazingly well).

Oh...almost forgot...as a little between band fun after Motorhead and before H&H, there was a group sitting about 10 feet in front of us. Well one of them was out of his head drunk and after Motorhead, gets up to go to the john and faceplants HARD. Everyone of course thinks this is funny, but there was a group about 30 feet behind us where one guy was just laughing and pointing. Well we're looking at this dude struggling to get up and he is PISSED so I tell my buddies to watch this because he has fight in his eyes.

He gets up and stomps up the lawn directly towards the guy, but at the last second just turns and goes towards the john.

We thought, oh well, the old psychout move...well five minutes later we hear a little commotion and turn around there's drunk guy...now light on his feet due to the empty bladder taking a swing at laughing boy. He connects and they roll down the hill. A friend jumps in and pulls one of them off and hits the other and THEY going rolling down the hill....and so on and so on. And there's NO SECURITY (there was maybe 4 security guards working the whole lawn) So there was a good 5 or 6 minutes of this tag team type fighting. It's probably on youtube as I saw some people phone filming it. After the first two minutes I'm not even sure if the initial drunk asshole was involved. But oh boy was it fun to watch... Who doesn't love a good fight involving out of shape drunk shirtless sunburned 80's metal dudes...I know I do!

But other than that, it was a cool lovefest. Everyone complimenting everyone else on the obscure cool vintage shirt that abounded (I actually saw a dude sporting a T.T. Quick shirt! Although a favorite was a guy with "Disco STILL Sucks" - Me...I was rockin my new "Motel Hell" shirt from the early 80's horror classic)

Back to the music. Priest hit the stage probably about 9:30 one a track of their new album, but for those there to hear the classics, they need not worry as it was almost all classics after that! Eat Me Live, Rock Hard Ride Free, Dissident Agressor plus of course the hits like You Got Another Thing Comin' and Breakin The Law (although suprisingly no Living After Midnight). Metal Gods, an Amazing Painkiller (it boggles the mind that Halford can sing that intense song as good as ever and the guy must be 60 right?!)

I've seen the priest a good number of times and they were fantastic once again. I'm sure they'll headline their own tour in the Fall after this (and hopefully come back to the local civic center again) and I will be there. I still hope for the day when they throw Freewheel Burning back in the set, but I have to say, they dug out a bunch of nice golden oldies they hadn't played in a while for this tour, so my hopes are up.

Next show - Probably two weeks from now...same venue...Crue Fest

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Rambo and his 80's metal hair

Rambo is a miserable 60 year old living in Thailand.

Now I always dug John Rambo, and sure he was a loner...but his first line in the film, about 10 minutes in is:

"Fuck You"

His second line, about five minutes later, is:

"Fuck The World!"

Goddamn Johnny, did you ever hear if life gives you lemons make lemonade?

The thing is there's an obvious solution. EVERY Other male in the film, which takes place mainly in the steamy jungles of Burma, has a nice closed cropped haircut. Sure they're sweaty and dirty and probably stink to high heaven like JR, but they're not wearing a thick sopping mop on their heads.

A buzzcut will do wonders for your attitude in 1oo degree heat and 100% humidity.

How's the movie, c'mon, you already know if you want to see it, it's Rambo. In this one he joins up with a group of mercenaries to rescue some holy roller group from Colorado from an army of 100 savages. Much more believable than when he took on the entire Russian Army in the last film, although the violence in this one looks video game silly. Every exploding head or limb or full body (and there are plenty of them) looks like a giant water balloon filled with blood getting popped.

Go see it...it's a good one to tide you over until (I have my fingers crossed) Over The Top 2 comes out.

After the movie I went and got my haircut. That was my weekend.

Fuck The World!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

I can't leave Manhattan without my 8-track

So I went to see Cloverfield and I dug it with two exceptions.

About half way through the film when I decided I did indeed dig it, I wondered how many critics would describe it as "Blair Witch Project on Acid." Well I just did a quick google and there were well over 600 hits when you search on Cloverfield Blair Witch & Acid. Granted those are not all reviews, but there's easily dozens...why do things like this annoy me so?

As for problems with the movie, I won't go into the plot one bit. Sure there's some plot problems and things that just wouldn't happen, but what bugged me throughout the whole film was a technological glitch.

As you've seen in the commercial, much like Blair Witch Project, it's supposed to be a straight unedited showing of found footage that a character in the movie shot. Before showing this footage a top secret government title screen states the film about to be shown was found on an SD Memory Card. Great. That makes plenty of sense....so what's the problem?

About 20 minutes into the movie, one of the main characters, Rob, sees his friend Hud filming everything. Rob realizes Hud is using Rob's video camera to film and asks Hud if he removed "the tape" that was in there or if he's filming over it. Hud doesn't know. See "the tape" that was in the camera showed a day Rob taped a month earlier that was one of the best days of his life. Throughout the movie you see bits and pieces of this day from a month earlier whenever the characters stop the camera for a while. They evidently leave a little space before they hit record again so you'll see the madness in New York, then 20 seconds of Rob a month earlier being happy. If a video camera that used video tape was being used, this would be fine and expected. But it's not...it's an SD Card!

Now I have a fancy new camera that uses one of these memory cards (Do they even make cameras anymore that take video tape?). When I start recording a month after the last thing I recorded it has this nifty way of NOT recording over my old stuff. It creates a new file to record the new segment. If the card is full it will ask me if I want to delete something, not just start recording partially over the file.

Yes I realize I sound like I'm nitpicking, but once I noticed this it bugged me every time I had to watch another 30 seconds of Rob's happy day from a month earlier! It also bugged me because the happy day footage adds NOTHING to the film and almost seems like it's in there as 15 minutes of filler to bring the movie up to a reasonable length.

But again, don't get me wrong. I'd recommend this film. It will be as much fun as listening to 90 minutes of your favorite tape on your Sony Walkman cassette player!