We attended a concert last night that was really hot – literally. It was quite a warm night in Chicago as my 14 year old daughter and her friend accompanied me to see Jeff Tweedy of Wilco in a free concert yesterday. We took the train, and I occupied myself on the ride looking for places alongside the tracks where I could live/survive if I was homeless. I can’t explain why I do that, but it’s just kind of my thing.
Anyway, on a more positive note, the concert was quite pleasant. And did I mention free? I figured it could go one of two ways. I thought Tweedy could just play lots of favorite Wilco songs, or he could play none. He chose the latter with the exception of “California Stars.” If you read down in the comments under that YouTube video, you will learn that the lyrics were unrecorded Woody Guthrie lyrics. A nice homage to Guthrie!
Here’s his full setlist from the show if interested. To get the full flavor of the concert, take a listen to “Evergreen,” the first song from the show. That’s the vibe I got from the show – a pleasant blend of folk, country, and rock. Here’s how another song looked and sounded in person.
Maybe one reason he didn’t roll out Wilco “hits” is because he doesn’t think they exist. He told a great story about that which I will try and recreate.
If you recall, I got a totally free Apple Watch that I must wear in exchange for a company using the data from the watch to study my brain. Yep, you read that correctly – my brain. I absolutely got the better end of that deal.
It’s worked out okay so far. I had no idea how many people wear Apple Watches until I started wearing one and noticing others wearing the same. I feel like I’m sort of in a club now, like a biker gang. You know how bikers signal each other when they pass?
Well. I’ve started signaling to other Apple Watch wearers. I think this signal is subtle, but effective. Take a look.
The first stop on our summer concert tour was to see Caamp and The Lumineers. Most important for me is always legroom. I chose seats that did not disappoint.
Yes, those are my delicate little feet at the bottom of the pic with lots more room to stretch out. And a clear view of the stage … at least for Caamp while everyone was seated. There was plenty of standing and dancing for The Lumineers.
Speaking of Caamp, they underwhelmed me. Their sound reminded me a bit too much of Mumford and Sons, and I can only take so much banjo at one time … unless it’s Steve Martin wielding one.
I watched that new movie Don’t Look Up. I didn’t think it was the greatest film ever made, but liked parts of it. Well, so much for the movie review portion of this blog post. One part I found totally unbelievable was when they showed people exercising while watching the news of a giant comet coming to destroy the planet.
If I knew a planet-killing comet was on the way, I would immediately cease all forms of exercise and healthy eating. I would eat myself into a chocolate coma (good name for a band) and await the inevitable destruction. Of course, that would be after I took care of my family by telling them to take shelter in the basement and to keep their grubby mitts off my chocolate.
If you recall, I came in 4th in the April elections, but still won a seat on my local township board. Well, here we go again, but this time I did even worse and still won. I entered my book of short stories in a competition, mainly to get a “professional” review. Well, I’m not sure how professional the review is, but I can’t argue with its accuracy. See what you think. Here’s the review.
I’ve never been much of a Radiohead fan. I like some of their stuff and respect them as artists, but their music has never been fun enough for me. God, that makes me sound so shallow, so I guess it’s fairly accurate. Along comes Radiohead’s guitarist Ed O’Brien with a new EOB album called Earth to be released in April, and I’m having some musical fun with this EOB single just released this month. Take a listen …
I love the slow layering of tracks over the first 2 minutes of the song. Then the tune heats up, cools off, heats up, cools off, heats up, and finishes as layered tracks get stripped away to nothing. It’s not exactly a sing-along song, but this blogger’s toe was a-tappin’.
My business travel plans were to take me back to St. Louis next in mid-April, where just coincidentally I planned to see Real Estate in concert. If you are not familiar with that band, I was introduced to them through this song a few years back.
That song breaks a major rule of songwriting about introducing lyrics within the first 8 seconds of a song, and the one about not having a horse contribute to your music video. Regardless, I fell in love with their soft, indie, jangly, pop-rock sound. My oldest daughter advised me to stay away from the band because one of the band members was too sexual assaulty. They bounced his abusive ass from the band, replaced him with a new lead guitarist, and have a new album to be released within days called The Main Thing. Here’s a single released from the new album called “Paper Cup” that I highly recommend.
I’ve never been much of a Pearl Jam fan. I like some of their music, but it really never moved me much. Pearl Jam is officially 30 years old this year, and their last album was released in 2013 to modest reviews, so I figured they had packed it in as a band. Oops, was I wrong. Welcome, Gigaton, due to be released in March. If the rest of the album is like the first 2 songs made available, then watch out.
“Dance of the Clairvoyants” was the first song released and it definitely cooks with propane. Take a listen.
Love the bass line and drumming that drive this song forward with a vengance. And just when I thought the song was ready to end as a tight 3 minute tune, the song morphs into a dreamy jam for a tasty ending.
WARNING: Dad joke ahead. Proceed at your own risk.
I was in a fit of pique Tuesday night over Trump’s potential war with Iran. I felt like that was the last straw. I was done with the USA. Sure, I will be on the ballot in Spring of 2020 as a candidate for Democratic Precinct Committeperson. But do I really want to live in a country that would elect me for any position?
First things first though. I needed to get my middle daughter up to Milwaukee for some dance thing in preparation for her dancing in Milwaukee over the summer. Yes, she’s majoring in dance in college. That’s the good news. The bad news is that she’s returning to college for a fifth year so she can also major in history. I’m not sure if she plans to be a dancing historian or a historical dancer.
After dumping my daughter off in downtown Milwaukee, my first sightseeing stop was the Arthur Fonzarelli statue. Who, you ask? That would be Fonzie from the old Happy Days television show, as portrayed by actor Henry Winkler. I’d love to show the selfie I took with The Fonz, but I couldn’t find the statue. In fairness, I didn’t look hard and didn’t leave the car. So as not to disappoint this blog’s readers (as if I could disappoint you even more than normal), here’s a pic I found on the internet.
I have grown to really like and appreciate Beck’s music as time has passed, enough to actually go see him put on a great live show this summer. I was anxious for his new album Hyperspace to be released after hearing the first song from the album, “Saw Lightning” that dropped over the summer. That song is a collaboration with Pharrell Williams, and it took a while, but it grew on me. I like songs that grab me and pull me toward the speaker or are so melodic that they cause me to sing along. My family prefers I get pulled to the speaker rather than the latter.
I started my listening relationship tentatively with “Saw Lightning.” At first, I took some baby steps toward the speaker, but eventually ran to it. But not so much with his second release from the album “Uneventful Days.” It’s a dreamy and ethereal tune, floating from the speaker to lull me into wanting to be in an elevator heading up to the 17th floor of a nondescript office building on Main Street in Anytown, USA. It doesn’t pull me to the speaker or make me want to sing along. It’s not a bad song, just … uneventful. And I find the music video to be a bit depressing.
The whole album is more minimalist than Beck’s 2017 release Colors which just roars from the speakers with layered perfection. Hyperspace has some decent tunes like “Star” and “Die Waiting,” but none that make me want to turn up the volume and shush whoever I’m with. I’m just not sure if I can stay awake between the moderately decent tracks to get to them. It’s not like it’s a bad album. Beck breaks new ground with his new sound once again. Illinois legalizes recreational pot on January 1st. I think I may enjoy this album a lot more after a few edibles on New Year’s Day.
I feel bad about not sharing some cool new song, so I’ll close by offering up Sturgill Simpson’s new country rocker called “Sing Along,” complete with wild cartoon video.
Makes me want to get in the car, roll down the windows (brrr!), crank this tune, and speed just enough that the cops allow it without pulling me over.
So, who’s Anderson.Paak and what’s up with the period between his names? I never investigated either. But than I saw him recently on Jimmy Kimmel singing this excellent song with the great Smokey Robinson.
Now that’s a good tune and a nice homage to Smokey’s sound. I tried to explore more of .Paak’s (do I include the period with his first or last name?) music, and I found him to be too sweary for my taste. But he did prove with this song that as far as his music goes, he can definitely make it better.
I’ve enjoyed a most excellent concert year and spent most of my summer doing this …
Which I have to admit was sort of weird when I went to the symphony.
I tempted fate and tried to sneak in one more concert last week before summer ended. It was a deal I couldn’t refuse. I was in St. Louis “on business” again. My evening was my own. Once again, a major music act was not selling concert tickets for their stop in St. Louis. That is not unusual. I received an email with good seats being offered at much lower prices than the cheap, nosebleed seats I had been eyeing. I also had a couple Ticketmaster vouchers worth a few bucks. In the end, I think this is the only time I have ever seen this on my ticket receipt …
I’m old. However, somehow I have put together my best concert year ever in 2019, although with some concessions to age. I missed driving 3+ hours to see the Smithereens perform recently at Abe Fest …
Thank God. Although I love those 80’s/90’s rockers and have wanted to see them for years now, I didn’t want to see them enough to drive to Springfield to freakin’ Abe Fest. Regardless, I waited a bit too long, and their lead vocalist passed away a couple years ago. Enter 80’s power popper Marshall Crenshaw to take over vocal duties. I thought it was an odd combination of upbeat vocals from Crenshaw for brooding Smithereen songs like “Blood and Roses.” I had to find out for myself.
I saw that the Smithereens were playing an outdoor festival gig just outside Chicago last Friday. Would the wife approve of my going? Yes! But under one condition. She didn’t want me to drag her to Skokie to see them. It’s a deal! I was flying solo.
The Smithereens/Crenshaw amalgam looked and sounded great in suburban Chicago …
Can someone please tell me the point of song covers that sound like the original? I don’t get it. When I first heard Weezer’s cover of Toto’s “Africa” last summer, I had to check first to see if it was a cover and not just a remix of the original. What is the point? I did get to hear that excellent song on the radio again, but I would have been happy to have heard the original played more frequently last summer.
It is true that I nominated Lana Del Rey’s cover of Sublime’s “Doin’ Time” as this year’s Song of the Summer. It is significantly different from the original. And that voice of hers … just divine. But then I was driving with my oldest daughter who is a huge Kate Bush fan, when Bush’s song “Running Up That Hill” came on the radio. My daughter was initially happy to hear it until we identified it being sung by a Kate Bush impersonator named Meg Myers with an identical-sounding version. Why? I will admit the video is kind of cool, but Kate Bush’s voice > Meg Myer’s voice. Sorry, Meg.
And now we get this news …
Full story and music video follows. The music video is creepily worth the price of clicking to read on.
The opportunity while on a business trip to see Spoon, Cage the Elephant, and Beck in one concert on their Night Running Tour was too tempting for me to resist. This is arguably the best concert tour of the summer. I paid more than I like to usually pay for my concerts, which is zero. But the opportunity to see 4 excellent acts in one concert was like going to a mini-music festival. That’s right, 4 acts. Wild Belle opened the show. I passed on Wild Belle and took a nap and swim at my La Quinta hotel within walking distance of the concert venue. By the way, La Quinta is Spanish for The Quinta. You’re welcome for the translation.
As I walked to the outdoor venue, I could hear Spoon starting their set. I could have pulled up a chair outside and heard the show for free. This blog feature is about new music, and Spoon was playing their new single “No Bullets Spent” from their Greatest Hits album just released. Ugh. Why do bands insist on adding bad songs to their greatest hit compilations? I refuse to include a link to this sub-standard new Spoon song. Instead, if you are unfamiliar with Spoon, enjoy “The Underdog” which got me hooked on Spooning.
Spoon’s stage was spartan and looked like it was missing a knife and fork.
My July Concertpalooza rolls on with another FREE show, the third freebie in a row. I received free concert tickets from the world’s greatest radio station, 93.1 WXRT in Chicago, to see Heart and Sheryl Crow play Chicago this past week. Neither act is very musically-relevant anymore except in a historical context (Heart definitely being rock ground-breakers as the first hugely successful female-fronted band), but both acts are still making new music, hence this tour.
But before Sheryl Crow took the stage, there was a young opening act. I think she started playing right before we parked the car, and then finished before we took our seats. It was a very long walk from where we parked.
Ours were decent $69 seats (thanks ‘XRT!), but we did have to sit a couple rows behind the guy who likes Five Finger Death Punch AND Heart. That’s quite a range of musical tastes.
His wife had sunglasses on the whole show, even after dark, and looked a lot like one of the party-goers in this pic from the Rocky Horror Picture Show …
In my quest to make this my best concert year ever, the month of July will play a key role. I am scheduled to attend 4 concerts this month, and the first 2 are in the books, no thanks to the Democratic National Committee. I had planned on seeing husband & wife duo Flora Cash at a free Millennium Park concert in Chicago.
They look exciting. However, the Flora Cash show directly conflicted with the second Democratic candidate debate. Thanks, Obama. Well, that’s probably okay as Flora Cash tends to be a bit mellow. I mean, her eyes are closed in the pic. Some would say a bit too subdued on this popular track of theirs … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qVdPh2cBTN0. I wouldn’t want to fall asleep in the park and miss my train home.
My oldest son suggested Car Seat Headrest in the same park this past week. Although I had no idea who Car Seat Headrest is, I couldn’t refuse a free concert with my son in the beautiful Jay Pritzker Pavillion on Chicago’s glorious lakefront on a beautiful night.
In all my rushing around for business travel and then vacation travel, I didn’t want to overlook a review of one of my favorite concerts of all time that I attended last week. I was in St. Louis again last week, ready for some live music, so I hit the Ready Room.
It is an intimate venue that holds 750 general admission concert-goers. But surely Canada’s own Strumbellas would easily sell out a 750 capacity venue. Not so fast. I’m not sure they even wanted to be performing that night. There was a competing event that night that would thin the crowd and shrink ticket prices. With hints like Canada and St. Louis, can you guess the event?