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Archive for the ‘New Brunswick, NJ’ Category

[POSTPONED: June 22, 2020] King Crimson / The Zappa Band [moved to  2021]

indexI have seen King Crimson four times and have been blown away by each show.  Even hearing many of the same songs doesn’t dampen my enjoyment since the songs are so amazing to see live.

Given the fickleness of Robert Fripp, it’s always possible that the band will break up at any moment.  Given that, I will see them every time they come close, and the fact that they were coming to new Brunswick (super close!) was like a personal invitation.

Normally there is no opening act.   I don’t know if the addition of an opening act meant less King Crimson time.  But the opening act was The Zappa Band.

I’ve been a big fan of Zappa’s work for years, although I never saw him live.  I’ve considered going to the various posthumous shows, but they all seem kind of cheesy.  The Dweezil show is supposed to be okay, but I feel like I;d have to have a real lull in shows to go out to see him.

However, having them open for a show that I was already going to was the best of all worlds.  Especially given the current lineup:

The Zappa Band’s lineup features Zappa alumni Ray White (lead vocals, guitar), Mike Keneally (guitar, keys, vocals), Scott Thunes (bassist) and Robert Martin (keyboards, sax, vocals).  I mean, that’s practically the Zappa band without Zappa right there.  It seems like Dweezil is not even part of this show, which is interesting.

I didn’t know if the end of June would be a safe time to see a show, and clearly neither did KC or State Theatre, as this show was postponed in early April.

King Crimson, originally scheduled for June 22, has been postponed. We have been closely following the developing news on COVID-19 and the current response recommendations from our Federal, State, and Local officials. The health and well-being of our guests, artists, and staff are our top priority. Ticket holders will be contacted as soon as we have a new date. Current tickets will be valid for the rescheduled date, once announced, and if you are unable to make the new date, we will discuss alternate arrangements. Due to the high volume of changed or cancelled performances, we ask that you please wait for State Theatre to contact you in regard to your tickets.

I hope when the show is rescheduled, that The Zappa Band opens.  That sounds like a blast.

 

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[POSTPONED: April 28, 2020] Diavolo [moved to April 29, 2021]

indexI love going to see Cirques–all kinds of fun acrobatics and stunts on display.  When my kids were younger, we went to a lot of them.  Then we stopped for a while and I felt it was time to do it again.

Diavolo is in fact a dance company, but they perform amazing acrobatics and physically demanding pieces (as you can see from the reviews like: “Diavolo’s performers are fearless, elegant and strong with a sense of timing by which a Swiss watch could be set, and the way the troupe interacts with the moving sets, makes for a truly spectacular and awe inspiring show.”).

I found out about this show after it was cancelled, but when I saw that it was rescheuled for April of 2021, I was really interested in going to see it with the family.

VOYAGE is Diavolo’s newest adventure, inspired by travels in space and the 50th Anniversary of the first Moon Landing. A young woman dreams of traveling distances only astronauts can, escaping from the ordinary world into a surreal landscape of infinite possibilities. Gravity-defying bodies join her on a large wheel structure that rolls along the stage and on the journey in a universe that is alive with kinetic energy, fantastical whimsy, and surprising transformation.

TRAJECTOIRE is a signature Diavolo work that takes the audience on a visceral and emotional journey through the ebb and flow of the human experience. Watch as performers jump on and off a “Trajectoire” which is a 3,000 pound boat made of wood, aluminum, and steel that continuously rocks back and forth. Watch the performers struggle to find their balance on a voyage of destiny and destination in a daring display that shows the transcendence of the human soul against all odds.

diavolo

 

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[POSTPONED: April 25, 2020] Okilly Dokilly / P-Funk North

indexI saw Okilly Dokilly open for Mac Sabbath last summer.  The show was bizarre for sure.

Okilly Dokilly are a goof to be sure.  All five guys dress like Ned Flanders from The Simpsons and all of the lyrics are things that Ned has said. Except that the band plays pretty extreme metal (death growls and whatnot).  They call it Nedal music.

It’s very funny and quite surreal.  And the band puts on a pretty darn good show.

I wasn’t sure if I’d ever need to see them again, but when I saw that they were playing a at a pub in New Brunswick (not far from me at all), I thought it would be a fun place to see them again.

I hope they do come back there.

P-Funk North is “a musical cocktail with a reggae rock core. PFN, which means North Plainfield, is in reference to our hometown in NJ and being George Clinton’s neighbor to the north.”  I listened to one or two of their songs and thought they were okay–not really my thing.  But they have five records out so I guess they are in it for the long haul.

Maybe they’re awesome live.

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[ATTENDED: October 26, 2019] MST3K Live

I didn’t realize it was exactly one year ago that I went to the previous MST3K Live experience.  How funny.

I have enjoyed both of the two previous MST3K Live shows quite a bit.  So when it was announced that they were going to do it again and this time it was going to be in New Brunswick instead of Glenside, PA, I got tickets right away (and wound up in the third row).  I only wish I had picked the other side of the stage, because Joel and the bots did their movie watching from over there.

I have been very lucky to have gotten two movies each time I’ve seen the performance.  It seem like a lot of locations get only one movie.  I’m not sure why I’ve been so fortunate.  (And State Theatre offered a discount if you bought seats for both movies!).

Last time the riffing was done by Joel Hodgson and Jonah Ray as well as many of the actors from the show.

This time things were very different.

Jonah Ray was not there.  Nor was Rebecca Hanson as Synthia Forrester.  And of course, no Felicia Day nor Patton Oswalt (not even on video).

But the big announcement was that this was going to be Joel Hodgson’s last MST3K Live tour.  I don’t know if that means there will be more, or if this is the end of them entirely. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: April 5, 2018] Screaming Females

It’s ironic, I suppose, that Screaming Females are a band from New Brunswick, NJ (not far from me) who apparently plays (or once played) lots of basement shows and unnamed clubs in that city, but I traveled all the way to Philly to see them for the first time.

I’m not the kind of person who gets invited to secret underground shows, and that’s fine.  I’ll happily see a band in a great venue with a rowdy crowd.

The focus in Screaming Females is centered on Maria Paternoster because she is a stellar guitarist and a compelling singer and front woman.  But we mustn’t forget King Mike Abbate on bass and Jarrett Dougherty on drums who have made up the band since the beginning.  All three were there in fine roaring form, working like a tight machine. (more…)

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[ATTENDED:November 13, 2017] Regina Spektor

I have really enjoyed a lot of Regina Spektor’s music.  I have never seen her play, so this show at the nearby State Theatre seemed like a great opportunity.  I don’t know what she normally tours like, but this show was advertised as just her, playing solo.  And that was fine with me.

She came out on stage to thunderous applause and whispered “thanks” into the microphone.  She then proceeded to sings songs and drink water (a lot of) water.  Turns out that she had bronchitis.  And amazingly, she sounded freaking terrific.  Her voice was outstanding (and her piano playing was pretty fab as well).

The show was listed as being an hour and forty-five minutes and in that time she told stories, played different instruments and sang twenty-five songs.

It turns out that I really love the middle stuff (her fifth and sixth albums).  I don’t know her really early stuff and I somehow missed the new album.  So when I heard that this tour was going to be a lot of old stuff and rarities, I figured that I wasn’t going to know much, but I’d still enjoy it.  Sarah said she actually didn’t know any of the songs (but she loved her voice).  I knew about six songs. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: April 5, 2017] Shaolin Warriors

When I first saw this listing in the State Theatre calendar, I knew I had to get tickets for the four of us.   I didn’t really know what to expect, but I knew that it would be different from the acrobats, and yet have that same inspiration behind it.  I sort of imagined simple displays of strength, focus and cool Shaolin spirituality.

I did not expect that there would be a “story.”  And indeed there was one.  We follow two children as they make their way into the Shaolin temple and grow and develop into Shaolin adults.

The only compliant I have is that the program notes state this: “Shaolin Warriors, highly acclaimed as “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” live on stage, is definitely a must-see for family audiences and martial arts lovers alike.”  By invoking Crouching Tiger, it suddenly set my expectations way too high. That film is mind-blowing, a visually stunning production.  And this production is nothing like that.  Rather, they could have described it as a Jackie Chan film come to life, and that would be more accurate (and still impressive). (more…)

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[ATTENDED: March 24, 2017] Pippin

Pippin has been Sarah’s favorite musical for years.  And as a special treat, she is guest co-authoring this post with me.  I have highlighted her part in a Pippin-inspired purple.

She has seen it once before in a decent sized production.  And we saw it together at a community theater version.  Strangely, I don’t remember much about that production (I was more fascinated by the building).  Anyhow, this touring production of Pippin is the newly redesigned version.

As I said I don’t remember all that much about the previous version, but I can tell you it was nothing like this one.  This new version was utterly spectacular, with an emphasis on spectacle!

SD: You know how the books from your childhood or the movies you watched over and over as a teenager are the ones you know by heart? Pippin is like that for me. My mom loved this musical and I grew up listening to the soundtrack (Original Broadway cast recording) over and over again. I know every bit of the album (and when I grew up and got a dog, I named him Pippin.) The thing about knowing a show by the soundtrack and not the performance is that you might make up what some of the plot is. I remember being surprised at the previous performances I’ve been to (one very good, one, as Paul said, not so great community theater) to find out what the songs really meant in context!  Anyway, the songs and the show are special to me and I couldn’t wait to see this. 

The story of the musical is fairly simple.

Pippin is the son of King Charlemagne (that much is true, but the rest is totally made up).  Pippin has just come back from college, but he is full of ennui.  He knows that he is an extraordinary person (he even sings about it), and is certain that there has to be something that will fulfill him.   Pippin wants to impress his father so he insists that he join his father and step son in fighting the Visigoths.  Charles reluctantly agrees but Pippin finds it less than satisfying.  From there he runs to his grandmother who tells him to enjoy the physical pleasures in life–which he does!  But that proves empty as well.  Finally seeing how much of  tyrant his father is he decides to fight tyranny and take over as King. But he finds that he has to resort to tyranny as well and asks for a do-over.

What’s left?  Art?  No.  Religion?  No.  No No No.  All that is left is despair.  While lying in the road, Catherine finds him.  She is a widow with a son and she tends to him.  He is reluctant, but eventually comes around to her care.  He spends a year with her, fixing the house, tending the farm, doing very ordinary things.  But he is extraordinary!  He can’t live a life like that.  How can he make his life (or death) special?

Fairly straightforward, right?  Well, this production takes this story and tweaks it in an amazing way. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: January 11, 2017] Cirque Éloize: Saloon

salooonI was pretty excited to see that Cirque Éloize was coming back with an all new show.  Their previous show Cirkopolis was phenomenal–wonderfully constructed and very cool to look at.  This show was very different, both in theme and production, but it was still amazing.

Indeed, I had mistakenly believed that this production was by Cirque Alphonse (another troupe from Montreal), who did a lumberjack-themed show last year.  But no, it was from the folks who did CirkopolisCirkopolis proved to be so different from Saloon, that it’s even more impressive that the same company created both shows.

This show was designed to be set in an old timey-salooon.  And while most Cirques perform the same basic routines, it was really fun to see how they were able to modify them for this new setting and “story.”  I also loved that they were all dressed like the old west–with chaps, and suspenders and hats–the kind of clothes that you really never see people performing this kind of material in (although I’m sure there must have been leotards underneath, right?). (more…)

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[ATTENDED: December 8, 2016] Blue Öyster Cult

2016-12-08-21-26-13I saw a whole bunch of concerts this year. I didn’t expect to end my concert year with Blue Öyster Cult.  But, I enjoyed them when I saw them last, and when I saw they were playing at the State Theater in New Brunswick (and I was able to score a 4th row seat) I decided to see them again.

I didn’t realize that Blue Öyster Cult was also the first band I saw this year (back in January).  So, it was a year bookended with BÖC.

While I enjoyed the previous show, I thought it seemed like the guys were getting a little creaky (understandable since they are in their late 60s).  But they seemed much more “on” during this show.  Eric Bloom was chatty and fun, his voice sounded great and he seemed a lot more energetic than last time.  And that made the show much more fun.  As did sitting really close–I was able to actually see the BÖC on his guitar. (more…)

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