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Archive for the ‘Scranton, PA’ Category

[ATTENDED: September 26, 2019] Stereolab

I can still remember going into Ralph’s Record City (R.I.P.) in Scranton and buying a used copy of Transient Random Noise Bursts with Announcements based on a friend’s recommendation.  I remember thinking that the title made it sound a lot like a stereo test record.  I also remember not understanding the image on the cover as a phonograph needle for quite a while.

I also remember really liking it.

And that started my long time appreciation of Stereolab.   My friend Lar was always updating me about the latest release or re-release or re-issue (which even happened recently with the new reissues of the band’s back catalog).

I started to drift away from them a bit with their last couple of records, and then they more or less broke up.

Nevertheless, it was pretty exciting to hear that they were reuniting for a new tour (and returning to Philadelphia 11 years after their last show in the city.

I really had no idea what to expect, but I grabbed tickets immediately and they quickly sold out. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: December 14, 2018] Slingshot Dakota

I was planning to see Slingshot Dakota back in the summer of 2016.  They were doing a show with VoirVoir a Bethlehem band that I really like.  But I wound up not being able to make that show.  So I was happy to see them this year, right back in SteelStacks.

It was after they went onstage that Carly Comando told us that they were really excited to organize this entire show with ArtsQuest’s blessing.  She picked the opening acts, Small Mess and Petal, personally, and she made sure that Lehigh Valley Girls Rock was a beneficiary.  She even insisted that there be a food drive as well.

Lehigh Valley Girls Rock is dedicated to empowering girls and women + trans and nonbinary folks through music and art
We build self-confidence and foster a sense of belonging.
We nurture an inclusive, supportive environment.
We connect people who then develop meaningful friendships.
We inspire community involvement.
We teach acceptance.

They even had a special Lehigh Valley Girls Rock-related surprise at the end of their show. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: December 14, 2018] Petal

Petal is the creation of Kiley Lotz from Scranton, PA.  She has released a few albums and an EP (all on bandcamp).  Her recorded output has a somewhat heavier alternapop sound–there’s some great bass on her records.

She plays quite a lot and I have almost seen her a few times.  I believe that most of her concerts are with a band, although this one was solo.

It turns out that she is also good friends with Carly Comando and Tom Patterson from Slingshot Dakota–Kiley has a special connection to the Lehigh Valley, too.  And she was very happy to support Lehigh Valley Girl Rock.

Lehigh Valley Girls Rock is dedicated to empowering girls and women + trans and nonbinary folks through music and art
We build self-confidence and foster a sense of belonging.
We nurture an inclusive, supportive environment.
We connect people who then develop meaningful friendships.
We inspire community involvement.
We teach acceptance.

There was a raffle before the show and she donated a bunch of stuff to one of the baskets (I didn’t win any of the baskets). (more…)

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[ATTENDED: December 14, 2018] Small Mess

I wasn’t sure if I was going to go to this show.  I was a little burnt out and it was a Friday night.  But I do love going to shows in Bethlehem and I was supposed to have seen Slingshot Dakota back in 2016, so I decided to go.

And I am so glad I did!  I only wish I had brought my daughter with me because this night’s event was a benefit for Lehigh Valley Girl Rock.

Lehigh Valley Girls Rock is dedicated to empowering girls and women + trans and nonbinary folks through music and art
We build self-confidence and foster a sense of belonging.
We nurture an inclusive, supportive environment.
We connect people who then develop meaningful friendships.
We inspire community involvement.
We teach acceptance.

Becca the singer and guitarist for Small Mess is a major advocate of LVGR and is (if I remember correctly) a former student in the program. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: August 9, 2014] Kiss

2014-08-09 21.41.30As I said, two years ago, I saw Kiss at this same venue and I marveled that Gene and Paul could still do all this while both in their mid 60s. But Paul’s voice sounded a little weak, and I wasn’t really sure that I wanted to see them again after that.

But here it is two years later, and I was back with my friend Matt and his family, and I’m going to say that the show was superb this year. Paul’s voice was in great form, the band seemed revitalized, even Gene seemed to enjoy himself.

Some changes were made on this tour.  I saw that in earlier shows in the tour they played some songs that I would have loved to hear–“King of the Nighttime World” especially, so I was a little bummed that they played a setlist that was pretty close (but not exact) to the last time.  What was surprising was what they left out–no “Shock Me” no guitar solo (I didn’t miss it) and no smoking guitar. So, “Ace” got short shrift, but there’s so much other spectacle that it wasn’t such a big deal. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: August 9, 2014] Def Leppard

Two years ago, Kiss had Motley Crue open for them.  Crue was one of those bands that I liked when they first came out and then, as they made poppier/sleazier music, I liked them less.  This year, the opener was Def Leppard.  Def Leppard was even more egregious in terms of going from a heavy metal band to a massive pop band.  And, heck, it worked for them.  But as a young metal head, who enjoyed most of High and Dry and some of Pyromania, Hysteria was just too far.  And I actively disliked a lot of those songs (perhaps more than I needed to) at the time.

And what I learned is that even after all these years, while I could “forgive” some bands and actually enjoy their sets, I could not forgive Def Leppard for all of the songs that I really disliked.

But first…how ballsy is it to have your intro music be The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” and then after the big scream near the end, have your banner drop and you finish the song.  I was pretty surprised.  But they sounded quite good, loud and brash.  And then they opened with “Let It Go,” a pretty heavy (for them) track from High and Dry which I had forgotten about but which rocked really well.  And I thought, hey, any chance they’re just going to play the heavy songs?

But no.  They moved into “Animal,” one of 6 songs from Hysteria.  Of course, it wasn’t all Hysteria.  They did play “Foolin'” which really didn’t do it for me as much as I thought it would-perhaps I was bitter about the Hysteria.  (more…)

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[ATTENDED: August 9, 2014] Dead Daisies

daisiesTwo years ago, I went to see Kiss in Scranton.  I had seen them a few times by then, and since Paul’s voice sounded pretty bad, I didn’t think I’d go again.  But I love hanging out with my friend Matt and don’t get to see him enough, so when he invited me up for this year’s extravaganza, I decided what the hell.  And it turned out to be a very good show indeed.

The first opening act was a band called Dead Daisies.  Last time, they had an opening act that I didn’t investigate at all.  But this year, I had my phone out and figured that Dead Daisies was a local Scranton band, and I’d see if I could find anything about them.

Well, it turns out that Dead Daisies is from Australia and that the lead singer, Jon Stevens, was the guy who sang for INXS after Michael Hutchence killed himself (but before they did the reality show to find a new singer).  I never heard INXS in that version, but the way he was singing for this band, I can’t even begin to imagine him as a good fit.  Because he has a big old powerful voice and sings in a very un-Hutchence way.

When they first came out I was kind of unimpressed.  The first song sounded a ton like AC/DC.  And the second song sounded like Bad Company.  As it turns out the band is a kind of retro rock band, with connections to Guns N Roses (guitarist Richard Fortus has played with GnR and Dizzy Reed plays keyboards for GnR).  And it turns out that Slash co-wrote their song “Lock ‘n’ Load.”  The other guys in the band are Marco Mendoza on bass (he’s played with Thin Lizzy, Whitesnake and many others) and David Lowy on guitar.  (more…)

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[ATTENDED: September 18, 2012] Kiss

Kiss has never really been cool.  Even in fourth grade when they were cool, it wasn’t cool to like them.  They have been really uncool on and off from time to time and that seems to make their fans even more die-hard.  I’m not die-hard–I’ll not be spending $4,000 on a Kiss book–but I will buy their records and see them once in a while.

The last time I saw them was 12 years ago (July 2000) for their Farewell Tour (the irony is not lost, no).  That was a fun show, seeing the original line up in make up.  And they played most of their hits (even ones I didn’t like so much).  The set list from 2000 is at the bottom, for comparison to the new set list.

This tour was odd for this reason–they have a new album coming out.  And yet its arrival date is just after the last day of the tour.  Who ever heard of ending a tour before the album comes out?  Also, they just reissued Destroyer in a new recording, but it wasn’t even mentioned.  And they didn’t do any extra songs from it.  Weird.  The Kiss machine will not deviate from its plan.

So, there’s no Peter or Ace anymore.  Eric Singer looks enough like Peter in the makeup and he sounded great in Black Diamond (thankfully t here was no “Beth.”  But you can really see a difference between Ace and Tommy Thayer.  Regardless, Tommy sounds an awful lot like Ace when he sings and, since he’s a pro, he can handle all guitar duties.   There is something a little odd in him doing all of the same things that Ace used to do–shouldn’t they update the tricks a little bit?–but it’s always fun to see the guitar shoot off roman candles. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: September 18, 2012] Mötley Crüe

Back in 1998, I saw Aerosmith and Monster Magnet play a set at Montage Mountain in Scranton, PA.  It was my first time seeing Aerosmith and I was a little bummed that Stephen Tyler had broken his leg.  He was amazingly limber and nimble for a guy in a leg cast, but I’m sure he could have done a lot more if he was unhampered by injury.

Fourteen years later, I’m back on Montage Mountain to see Kiss and Mötley Crüe.  And just a few days before this show Vince Neil broke his foot.  While he’s not quite the acrobatic showman as Stephen Tyler, he was definitely hampered amidst the excitement of their stage show.  It didn’t affect his voice though.

I liked Mötley Crüe’s first two albums quite a lot.  I liked Theater of Pain a lot less–even if “Home Sweet Home” was the biggest song in the world at the time.  What is it about a piano ballad that drives hard rocker people crazy?

Since then the Crüe have released some 5 albums and have had a half-dozen or so hits (some pretty massive).  Of course, I never liked the glammier or even the more “rock n roll” sound of their later albums.  I had pretty much given up on them altogether.  So I didn’t really care much that they were opening for Kiss at this show.

But I will say this–Mötley Crüe put on one hell of a spectacle.  And that’s what some concerts are all about.  There were scantily clad women swinging on ropes and walking on stilts and bringing guitars to the band and dancing abstractly (that’s got to be a very hard job–pretending to dancing rhythmically and sexily to Motley Crue for an entire song).  [If you object to the exploitation of women, this is not the show for you–I sure hope they are well compensated].  There were guys with firehoses shooting the audience (which I assume was a wet T-shirt extravaganza), there were bottles of champagne poured onto the crowd, there was fire and more fire and more and more fire.  And there was Tommy Lee’s drumset–more on that. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: JONATHAN FRANZEN-Commencement Speech (audio) (2011).

You can hear the entire speech from the Kenyon College site.

[READ: May 28, 2011] Commencement Speech

On May 21, Jonathan Franzen gave a commencement speech to the students of Kenyon College.  When I think about my commencement speech (from Judy Woodruff of CNN), all I can remember is that I had never heard of her (and when I typed her name just now I got it almost entirely incorrect–the only thing right was the “wood” part).  I don’t recall a single thing that she said.  [It’s also fascinating that I can’t find any record of this speech anywhere online–what a different world it was twenty years ago].  I rather expect that most people feel this way about commencement speakers.  I have to wonder, if Jonathan Franzen had spoken at my college, would I have cared?  Is there even a chance that I would have read any of his novels (had they been published of course) when I was in college?  Would I be treating this any differently than my whatever speech in 1991?

But I like Jonathan Franzen and I wanted to read what he had to say. 

His speech is about love.  Love is kind of an odd topic for a commencement speech, isn’t it?   I mean, aren’t they supposed to talk about the Future and Jobs or something?  Or maybe even sunscreen?  But really, what is more useful for a 21-year-old to think about than Love.  Franzen hits the nail right on the head about Love, how it is a dangerous, risky proposition to put yourself out there, to take off your veneer and reveal all of your flaws–and hope someone will love you.  Not new or novel, but still true.

The way that Franzen gets into this subject is through technology.  It seems weird and artificial at first, but it’s a wonderful way to get into a young audience’s state of mind.  They were probably all looking at their iPhones while he was extolling the virtues of his new Blackberry (the old person’s phone, right?).  And when he segues into Facebook (who even knows if he has an account–but he seems to be well-versed with it, so maybe he does) you can imagine students raising their head in familiarity (maybe even updating their status) and wondering (as he puts it) if this 51-year-old guy is going to dis Facebook. (more…)

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