Wednesday, October 28, 2009

So long and thanks for all th-JUST SHOOT ME ALREADY

It feels like someone really close to me died today.…

So, it’s been a pretty rough year for my favorite bands and musical artists. I guess most of us could say that, with celebrities dropping like flies these days.

Anyway, as some of you know I was a huge Panic! At The Disco fan, when they still had the exclamation mark. I never had that chance to see them perform live and I guess that’s alright. But when Ryan Ross and Jon Walker left the band I, like many others - took it pretty hard. Panic At The Disco is still performing, with Brendan and Spencer, but it’s not the same. It’s not Panic! It’s not who I grew up loving, and it’s not something I think I’ll ever enjoy.

Recently DJ AM died of an overdose. Do I have to say anything else there?

Today, Armor for Sleeps vocalist and front man Ben Jorgensen made an announcement on his blog explaining that Armor For Sleep was no more. I’ll be honest; I got on the Armor bandwagon a bit late. I discovered Ben and his crew in 2005 during their release of “What to do when you are dead” I then moved back into “Dream to make believe”. I never saw AFS live either, and I guess that’s always going to bug me.

Armor for sleeps website hadn’t been updated in forever, there were no known plans for a tour or a new album. Ben’s twitter consisted more of what he was eating for lunch then what music he was playing, and that was okay. Because nothing was definite. I knew that they were probably over. I accepted that. I wasn’t sad that I wasn’t going to hear anything new or see them live. Because no one said “It’s over”.

Not until today.

I realized today more then ever before how close some of us can get to the music we listen to. How, who ever is writing those songs or playing that awesome guitar riff is able to make you feel that they know what your going through and that it’s okay to go through it.

I can’t count how many times listening to AFS got me through tough times, bout’s of depression, anger, sadness the generic teenagers lot.

I’m not sure when I started turning my music, - or the people that write it - into a friend. Into something that I can relate to better then anyone I know. But I did. Maybe that’s okay too. Maybe that just means someone over in AFS land did their job really well.

I guess I could yell and cry (done that already) and whine about how they could do this to us, how they could just abandon us without a last tour or a last album or some sort of big goodbye. But I won't. Because, like friends - bands grow up, grow out and move on. Maybe someday we'll see Ben doing a solo Pop Album, or doing a duet with Fergie.

But until then I'd like to thank Ben Jorgensen, PJ DeCicco, Anthony Dilonno and Nash Breen for making awesome music. You and your music meant more to me then I could ever express in words. AFS will always be a friend of mine.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go fall asleep to “Car Underwater” on repeat.

“Believe the news, I'm gone for good…..”

Monday, October 26, 2009

Cobra Starship Visit's Hell.

I just found this on my laptop. I thought I'd posted it on the 1st, but I had people over and must have forgotten. Anyway, long over due review of Cobra Starship's Visit to Club Hell! In Providence RI.

Cobra Starship in Hell.
August 31st 2009.

Last night I attended one of the oddest concerts I’ve ever experienced. Cobra Starship was playing a tiny local venue as their last stop on their “Hot mess across the US" tour.

A friend and myself arrived around 2PM to hang out, meet some new friends and of course, watch the bands as they unloaded. While waiting in line, we noticed several band members, Victoria Asher (CS), Ryland Blackinton (CS), Alex Suarez (CS), Andrew Goldstein (TFNB), Ryan O‘Connor (TA) and Seth Johnson (TA) milling around outside. Opening bands, the Audition and the Friday Night Boys were doing all they’re own set-up. Roadies were nowhere to be seen.

Everyone involved in the tour looked just about ready to collapse. However, most of the band members who were greeting fans were still able to be courteous, attentive and overall polite. Ryan O’connor, the drummer for The Audition looked as though he had a drumstick lodged in a very painful area of his anatomy. Maybe he was just tired.

Gabe Saporta eventually made an appearance (to the joy of 200+ screaming girls) and was immediately surrounded by people waiting for autographs and photos. Most of my time in line was spent right by the loading dock (it’s actually a door, but lets sound professional here). Alex, a girl I met in line, Bunny, and myself spent most of the time holding the door open (it only opens from the inside), telling band members that they could in fact bring they’re various instruments through said door and did not, in fact have to walk half a block.

Through this door the three of us ‘met’ and talked to several band members. At one point, Victoria Asher showed up looking just about ready to die, but was still as polite as ever when approached by a fan and given a gift.

Just as Gabe was getting surrounded, Alex Suarez (Bassist for CS) came out and leaned just outside the door frame to watch the commotion. We got into a conversation about being surrounded in such a way, by fans that just want to touch you, and if he ever got scared with that kind of attention. He said he hadn’t.

That was another small thing that bothered me. None of the bands on the tour had any noticeable security. I’m not saying that they should have 20+ bodyguards and bomb-sniffing dogs. But a couple of bouncers would have been nice.

Anyway, after several hours of waiting and 2 pizza’s we were allowed into the club.

First off was DJ Skeet Skeet. I’d never been to a concert that opened with a DJ, so I was surprised at what a great job he did. He knew exactly what songs to play, and exactly what to say to get us pumped. Given the chance, I would defiantly go to a club and see him again.

After about a 45 minute warm up with Skeet Skeet, The Friday night boys took the stage. After not-so-legally downloading their album “Off the deep end” the night before, I was really excited to hear them live. The album has wonderful lyrics and the vocalist Andrew Goldstein has a voice that could easily be compared to Jonathan Cook or Nate Smith (Forever the sickest kids, Mercy Mercedes). Overall the album was pretty generic for a Fueled by Ramen boy band, The first two songs, Permanent Heartbreak and Stupid Love letter are both pretty good songs for the heartbroken, while others on the album Molly Makeout and How I Met Your Mother show that they also have a lighter tone.

Having said all this I would love to tell you how much I enjoyed seeing the group live. But I can’t. Out of all of the concert’s I’ve been to I can honestly say The Friday Night Boy’s Performance was one of, if not the absolute worse performances I’ve ever heard, they were having extreme technical difficulties. So I can’t exactly blame the band. The first two songs they played had the bass up far too high, and the vocals way to low. When they finally realized how many people in the audience had headaches, they did turn it down. Which left us with the drums. Oh, dear sound manager…where art thou?

Club Hell has great acoustics, so the band could have gotten away with playing the drum acoustically, or if anything, having the volume on the microphones down very, very low. Unfortunately, no one realized this. Which made it so we still couldn’t hear a word from the vocalist. By the time the set was over I wasn’t the only one with a pained expression on my face. I did catch a drumstick though. Which kind of didn’t do anything to make up for it. I did go over and buy their CD afterwards though, you know, to make up for the whole illegal downloading thing.

Next up was The Audition. All I can say is wow. Daniel Stevens is amazing. His voice is amazing, his attitude is amazing, and everything about him could simply be summed up with the word amazing. I’ve seen maybe one or two other singers with the amount of stage presence he was capable of. He reminded me a lot of Travis Clark from We The Kings, and anyone who has seen Travis live will know exactly what I mean. There are very few singers capable of completely drawing you into their own world. Daniel is definitely one of those singers. They did a quick sound check, and after spending five minutes talking over our heads and making hand gestures to the sound guys in back - had none of the problems the previous band had dealt with.

The music got all of us jumping, excited, and over the headaches and the grumbling. At one point, a girl in front of me had written ‘Guitar pick?” on her arm and during one of the songs, Daniel gave her an odd expression and grabbed her wrist to read it closer, he smiled at her and made a motion at her to wait for a bit. Two songs later he slipped a guitar pick into her hand. It was sweet to watch.

I suggest that anyone who can see the Audition live go do so, or at least check out their Myspace. I can see this band getting big really quick, and it looks like it’ll be fun to jump on the train that is The Audition.

After the Audition left the stage it was empty. For about an hour. I don’t know who decided in having such a long intermission, but it wasn’t fun. Everyone became restless and bored waiting for Cobra to appear, so restless that I saw several people make a B-line to the door.

After about forty-five minutes people started moving things around the stage and everyone got excited. Unfortunately, Cobra wasn’t coming on. But DJ Skeet Skeet was back with a singer called Vita. Who may have been wonderful or terrible – we couldn’t tell due to microphone problems. We mostly heard Karaoke and saw Vita as she bounced up and down on stage. It was interesting.

Finally, after another twenty minutes it was time for what most of us had gone to see, Cobra Starship. I’d seen Cobra Starship three times in the past and was hoping for something just a bit different.

Everyone in the band looked tired, so much in fact that at one point during the set Victoria was leaning on a pillar on stage instead of doing her awesome hip-sway. Cobra’s Set consisted of songs from “While the city sleeps we rule the streets” and "Viva la Cobra!"
They played Send My Love To The Dance Floor, The Church Of Hot Addiction, Snakes on a Plane, The City Is At Way, Guilty Pleasure, Damn You Look Good and I’m Drunk, Smile For The Paparazzi, Kiss My Sass, Pleasure Ryland (as an Encore), Good Girls Go Bad, and Pete Wentz is The Only Reason We’re Famous.

I can’t say I was disappointed per say, because Cobra doesn’t disappoint, be it tech problems, weather issues (I did watch them at an outdoor venue during a tornado warning) or any other boatload of issues that can come up during concerts, Gabe and his crew always seem able to make it better. But I would have enjoyed it if they had performed more songs from the new album; I mean it was the "Hot Mess!" tour.

I made several observations while watching them perform, Gabe was as energetic and bouncy as always, but his voice wasn’t what it was say… last November. I know he ended up having surgery on his throat after singing with cysts and maybe that had something to do with it, or maybe it was how tired the band was. Either way, it was noticeable. He also left chunks of songs to the fans that I’d never seen him skip before.

Between songs Gabe talked to the fans a bit, and then made an introduction to his next song, he’s used the same intro live for several years, but it’s gotten re-worded and reworked as Cobra’s evolved. I think we can all relate to it, and it directly relates to the band’s attitude and what they’ve wanted to get across. Several times during the show Gabe mentioned what people in his network said he couldn’t do and what people in the music industry said he couldn’t do.

(I’m paraphrasing here)

“They said I wouldn’t make it,” But he did.

“They told me no one would listen to a band that didn’t have guitars” The Guitars were handed off to stagehands and Alex and Ryland took over a couple of Synthesizers.

But I think he made his entire point clear with his intro:
“In life, there will always be people who want you to fail, no matter what you do, no matter what business you’re involved in, no matter what you study, they’re gonna want to watch you fall. And the only thing I want you to remember when you see those people are the three words in this song. And those words are Kiss. My. Sass.”

Fangs Up!

PS: after the show I found one of Alex's Guitar Picks in my bra. Like I said, interesting night.