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Project 602 - Music
 
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Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros
Posted - May 8th, 2011 7:24pm
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Tara and I missed seeing Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros a few weeks ago when they came to town with Mumford and Sons.  So when we heard they were going to play the McDowell Mountain Music Fest in Scottsdale, she picked up tickets and we drove up to the land of shiny cars.

The McDowell Mountain Music fest is a strange affair.  Its a weekend long series of moderately popular bands tied loosely together by the terms "folk" and "blues" held in a parking lot made into a park by sacrificial sod that gives its life in the service of Scottsdale's finest hipster families and local hippie wannabes.  Now maybe that's a little harsh... or maybe I'm just disappointed that we can't seem to do a music fest proper so as to attract the kind of true hippiedom that inspires people to tiedie their business suits?  Either way, its was still a pretty fun deal and a great place to enjoy a cool breeze on a Sunday afternoon.

We got there in time to catch Black Joe Lewis and The Honeybears.  The best way to describe them would be to say just go watch The Blues Brothers.  Trumpets blared, people danced, and folks rolled around on stage like their souls were bound to the music.  It was weird, fun, and a great setup for Edward Sharpe who found their way to the stage just after dark.

If you haven't heard of Edward Sharpe - then go listen to Home and come back... all done?  Fun, folky, though not really life changing in any way.  They are what seems to be the next breed of Dave Mathews/Phish/Umphrees McGee like bands born from the hemp seeds left around the country by the Greatful Dead.  Like all those other band they are also really really great in concert -- finding whatever magic their studio attempts lack.  They have a wonderfully fun and inspiring stage presence, and are quite the big ensem - I think they had 9 people on stage at one point including piano, banjo, accordion and horn players.  Not sure how a band that size survives these days... guessing they moonlight as a yard crew?

Anyway - like most everyone - Tara and I started out just lounging in beach chairs on the "grass", but found ourselves drawn up to the stage.  They band sang just softly enough too lure you in, and acted just silly enough to keep you there.  What really sold us on the night though, was watching them pull a couple of fans up on stage to sing Home with them.  This not only made their day/week/life? but it really made mine too.  Its a rare thing to see a band to treat their fans with that much love/respect/trust and I think I'll forever be a fan of Edward Sharpe for that.

I don't think these guys will ever warrant the kind of patchouli fueled devotion that made Dead Heads live out of vans, sleep in fields, and subsist off a diet of grilled cheese sandwiches, but I'll certainly see them again anytime they are in town.

This shot gives a pretty good sense of the festival grounds. Tara sporting her best worker-bee look. What a beautiful sky that day. Eward Sharpe rockin out on stage.
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Toad the Wet Sprocket at Marquee Theater
Posted - Mar 26th, 2011 11:04am
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Back in 1990 I got a CD player for Christmas and along with it exactly 1 CD in the old double tall cardboard containers that got the record industry in trouble with the green crowd.  That was "Fear" by Toad the Wet Sprocket.

I was so proud of that CD.  Toad was a band I found on my own.  None of my friends listened to them, and while they had a moment of popularity a year or two later, they were too folky for mainstream radio and too soft for the MTV crowd.  I followed them throughout the 90's wearing out each of their CD's as they were released, but I never saw them in concert.  Something that's always frustrated me.

Last night I was finally able to fix that.  Toad played the Marquee in Phoenix and Tara and I were there with smiles plastered on our faces to see them.

I've seen a lot of "indie" concerts lately.  Appleseed cast, Yann Tiersen, Getup Kids, etc..  All these shows seemed to sport the same 20/30yr old hipsteresque crowd.  Hoodies and beards abounded, everyone is walking around drinking PBR and generally reveling in their theoretical differentiation.  Toad was decidedly different.  There were kids with their parents, teens, lots of 20 and 30 somethings, even a few blue hairs.  It could only be described as a cross section of white people.

These suburbanites were rewarded for their attendance with 2 of the most generic non-offensive opening bands ever.  The Reign Kings and a very forgettable Matchbox 20 clone.  They weren't bad, they weren't good... they really just took up a little time and set the stage for Toad to come on around 9 oclock.

When Toad finally took the stage I was immediately reminded why I was so enamored with the band and Glen Phillips in-particular.  They are a very personable group.  Like Ben Folds or the guys from They Might Be Giants, Toad is a bunch of nerdy college students who got together to play music and have a good time.  They are silly, light hearted, intelligent, and seem to have confidence without ego.  They also launched into my favorite song right off the bat :)

They played about a 2 hour set - mostly old stuff from Coil, Pale, and Dulcinea.  I was stoked to hear a Glen Phillips single and really stoked when they played 2 new songs which will hopefully be on a new album they said they were about to get to work on.

The Marquee's acoustics are a little bit bass-y and they serve the worst rot-gut rum that this world has ever seen, but its a great place to catch a show and Toad sounded wonderful.  It was so fun to finally see this band I've listened to for so long.  To do so with a crowd who sang along to every song, and a girl who was also a fan is really all anyone could ask for.
Toad On Stage
 
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Appleseed Cast at the Sail Inn
Posted - Mar 17th, 2011 5:11pm
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Two weeks ago I went out to see The Appleseed Cast at The Sail Inn with Tara, Jon and Judy and while I wasn't too impressed with the venue, the concert really solidified for me how impressive that band is and how much I enjoy their music.

I ran across the Appleseed cast a few years back on Pandora and was pretty much hooked from the start.  Their music ranges from peaceful instrumental to blaring alt-rock, usually starting off slow and building to some level of well managed chaos ala Death Cab for Cutie.

They aren't real vocal heavy which was perfect as the acoustics at the Sail Inn are so bad you can't hear anyone sing.  Its your normal phoenix arm-pit music venue bar.  Grungy cement floor, makeshift bar stuck to the wall, sound guy in complete acoustic denial - all the necessary ingredients were measured and poured.  They do however have a really great patio out back and even an outdoor stage that would be awesome to see in action.  They also have a few tables and chairs inside which is rare in my experience.

When they finally ran out of opening acts @11:00, the difference between Appleseed and their traveling companions was immediately apparent.  They all played the same kind of music, but Appleseed are just really fantastic musicians.  Where it felt like the other bands were pushing their music onto me - trying to convince me with volume and tempo, these guys drew me in and made you want to stay there.... Course that could have been a few too many rum and cokes, but I really enjoyed their set even if I never heard a word they said.

I should mention 2 last things before I go.  1) These guys were much older/stranger than I expected.  I'm impressed and grateful they are still touring at dives like that, but they stopped playing and left without saying a word.  This came off really odd and made them seem a bit pretentious.  2) I have no idea how to qualify the crowd that night.  Maybe post-hipster twenty-something white people?  Regardless - every single person in there seemed to be wearing a flannel or hoodie and sported either a beard or thick black glasses.  Its like there was a memo I missed telling folks to nerd up?  Oh well... I guess us geeks can't even figure out how to be in style when the in style is us!

Sadly I don't have any good photos or video of this event as my phones camera was scratched beyond use.  You'll just have to use the power of imagination.... or whatever other power you happen to have on hand.

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Flogging Molly on St. Patties Day
Posted - Mar 17th, 2010 5:27pm
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To celebrate the annual day of liver punishment this year where everyone tries to explain how they are 7.3% Irish, Kellie, Becca, Ben (Becca's brother), Cupp, and myself went to see Flogging Molly at Tempe Beach park.  Now I'm not really a flogging fan... I don't own any of their albums, nor could I really name one of their songs off the top of my head, but on St Patties day Flogging Molly is awesome.

We did a little pre-partying at Teakwoods before the concert.  Its a proven fact that Guinness helps lubricate the larynx and strengthen the liver.  When we headed out to the main event the sun was going down and I was feelin pretty good in my ridiculous beer hat.

The concert was an outdoor set - Beer lines snaked and wobbled around the entrance while the bands played on the main stage that backed up to (the then full) Tempe Town Lake.  Something about these guys just makes you want to sing along... a beer or four and I was belting out "The Worst Day Since Yesterday" with the best of them.  A few hours of that though and me and my throat were both toast.  We disbanded for the evening and got some much needed sleep.

Our little band of miscreants outside of Teakwoods The real question isnt why hes wearing a zentai(google it) suit.  Its how he drank beer through that thing. Becca and Kellie finally figure out how to hold 5 beers. Floggy Molly in all of their inebriated irish glory.
 
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The Greatest Music Video Ever Made
Posted - Mar 23rd, 2009 5:56pm
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I have found a recent affliction for a band called "No More Kings".  To put them into context, they are alternative, rock, punk, comedy and though they are not mainstream they have managed to pull off one of the greatest music videos I've ever seen.

...well maybe that deserves some context too.  If you grew up during the time of the Karate Kid you'll understand.  Just don't ask me what the heck is going on before about the 2 minute mark.

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Death Cab Concert
Posted - Jun 20th, 2008 5:12pm
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I should have captured a picture of the sign just outside of the Death Cab for Cutie concert that Kristin and I attended last night.  It happily described what you could not take in "for your safety" and listed such dangerous items as:
  • Blankets
  • Cameras
  • Soda
Oh yeah, it had knives and guns too, but what they were really protecting us from that night were bottle caps!

Kristin had seen on the venue's website that you could bring one sealed bottle of water per person.  Its been 110 out so we figured this would be a good idea.  We definitely weren't alone and everyone must have read the same thing because when we got in line they all had water bottles too.

What everyone wasn't prepared for was that they would have to unscrew and take your cap when you came in leaving you with an open water bottle [for our safety of course].  When someone first said this to me I ignored it as anything this silly must have been a mistake but no - they were serious and showed quite the attempt at Command Presence threatening and yelling angrily at people requiring their caps permanent removal.  This left me and everyone else with the obvious question - What the Hell?

Security guards threatening to beat people up over keeping a lid on their beverage is one of the strangest and saddest things I have ever seen.  The only reason I heard in the few minutes I was caught up in this maelstrom of dumbfuckery was "I'm sorry, I don't know why but I have to do it".  I guess I can respect that in the same way I would respect someone who was told to spit in my burger by their boss.

Admittedly this is the most mundane of mundane incidents in the long run of life and didn't really have a negative impact on my evening.  Yet I can't help but feel some tiny little piece of me die every time the fun nazi's ban some new pointless item at events.  At some point I feel like we will have to come in naked, dress in T-shirts and shorts sold there, then watch the band from within the confines of a plexiglass cage.

The dangers of bottle-caps aside, the concert truly was amazing.  DC is a genuinely unique band and for whatever reason their music has always been able to emotionally broadside me.  Their last 3 albums have all been fantastic but based on their playlist for this concert even they are aware that their last record "Plans" was probably their best work.  So if you haven't heard it in a while go grab it, and if you don't own it then by all means stop what your doing and head to the record store
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Weird Al Concert
Posted - Oct 29th, 2007 3:52am
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Weird Al Rules.  Thats the thought that kept going through my head last week when my wife and I went to his concert at the Arizona State Fair.  For my $12 fair admission and those of my fellow dementoids, he pounded out a 2 1/2 hour set complete with an encore of Albuquerque (a 14 minute non-stop song)

I've seen him in concert before but he just gets funnier every time I go.  I don't think I can explain some of the stranger things like the choreographed chanting that the entire band broke out of in the middle of a song but I did manage to find a clip on the tube of one of his between song interviews that was absolutely ruthless.




And for anyone who still hasn't seen it - here is the video for White and Nerdy.  When he did this live he brought out the Segway on stage and did part of the song while tooling around on it - classy!


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