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Archive for the ‘Weezer’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: WEEZER-Weezer (The Black Album) (2019).

When the Black Album was announced, the Weezer camp said it would be a reversion back to the blue album or Pinkerton (what people who lovehate Weezer have been wanting since they released the third album).  Well, despite that promise, this album proved to be a genre bending album full of disco beats, remarkably dumb lyrics (what’s up with that PhD Rivers) and of course, super catchy choruses.

No matter what Weezer does, it always sounds like Weezer–perhaps that’s just Rivers Cuomo’s voice or maybe his songwriting sounds the same in any genre.  So this album is almost forty minutes of Weezer in various forms (but nothing too outrageous for them).

“Can’t Knock the Hustle” brings in the disco with a funky 70s synth, backing oohs, and an unexpected mariachi flair when the “hasta luego/adios” line comes in.  Was there ever a less threatening thing than Rivers saying Don’t step to me, bitch.  “Zombie Bastards” is a really dumb lite reggae song but the chorus, with the presumably sampled Yea! is some dumb fun.

“High as a Kite” is a gentle song with some fun bouncy bass and one of the catchiest choruses around.  When you give up hating on Weezer, you can just accept that songs like this are really great to sing along to.  The middle section spreads some more 70s good cheer (with those nice bass notes again).  “Living in L.A.” is a little more aggressive sounding but really poppy with another knockout chorus.  I genuinely love singing along to these two songs.  Everyone thinks of Randy Newman as the “I Love L.A.” guy but by now, Rivers has written more songs about L.A. than anyone, I think.

“Piece of Cake” is a mellow synthy ballad.  It’s not as catchy, but the chorus has a nice hook.

“I’m Just Being Honest” actually sounds like it could be a Weird Al song.  Not musically but lyrically, since it’s basically a lot of truthful insults.  This hearkens back to Pinkerton days, but would do so more if there were some more rocking guitars.  “Too Many Thoughts in My Head” is the most disco of the bunch, with the wah wah guitar and slinky bass.  Even River’s voice sounds different in the verses–whispered and a little sinister.  The chorus rocks in that same slinky electronic style.

“The Prince Who Wanted Everything” is like a 70s monster riff song (although it’s not all that monster sounding) with a sweet chorus. It’s very organic sounding with lots of “do do dos.”  On the opposite end of things is “Byzantine” with its Casio drum beat and processed “ooh ooh oohs.”  It also has the strange pseudo-dis:

I want Neil Young on your phone speaker in the morning
and fuck him if he just can’t see
This is how his songs are supposed to be heard
no more lectures on fidelity.

This song suggests that Rivers was unfamiliar with Sparks before meeting this person, and I find that very hard to believe.

“California Snow” ends this disc with swirling keys and a big synth riff that sounds not unlike “Mr. Crowley”  There’s a sort of hip-hop vibe in the vocal delivery (which doesn’t really work, but whatever).  A catchy chorus is followed by a wholly different sound in the next verse–softer and more “Weezer.”

I don’t know if any new Weezer album is necessary, but I can still enjoy a half hour of Rivers and the guys.

[READ: October 10, 2020] “Le Nozze”

This issue of Harper’s has an essay about Shirley Hazzard on the release of her Collected Stories (from which this story comes).  The article raves about her writing particularly how hard she worked to find the perfect word.  Her most famous work is 1980’s Transit of Venus and she says she that had twenty or thirty drafts per page of the book.  She has written two short story collections, four novels, and a handful of nonfiction (some of which was very critical of the United Nations (!)).  I really enjoyed the essay which made me really want to read her novel.  But I can start with this short story.

In this story, a man and a woman are measuring his room to fit her chest of drawers.  They discuss how there is measuring in Figaro and she begins to sing some of it.  She says that she sang in school and he thinks about what that might have been like.

He is making room for her to move in. (more…)

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[POSTPONED: August 27, 2020] Hella Mega Tour: Green Day / Fall Out Boy / Weezer / The Interrupters [moved to August 20, 2021]

indexWhen this tour was announced I knew that I’d have to get tickets for the whole family to go to.  We haven;t all been to a big spectacle show and I thought this sounded like a great one.

My son likes Green Day.  My daughter likes Fall Out Boy.  We all like Weezer.  No brainer.

Neither of them have been to a big stadium show before.  I don’t love a stadium show really, but getting decent tickets would make it more fun to be sure.

The tickets were pricey, yes, but I managed to get pretty good seats (on the ground but near the back of those seats) and I thought it would be a great way to end the summer (even if I have no idea what Citizens Bank Park is like it was better than trying to get to CitiField in New York).

I was bummed that this tour was postponed since it was at the end of the summer and seemed so far away.  But they need to postpone a tour like this early and it was decided on May 19, so there was no waiting until the last minute.

There’s not much to say about any of these bands.  They’re all huge.  Musical purists don’t like any of them, but they write catchy songs and all of the songs are fun.

I have only seen Weezer, and if they put on the kind of show that they have been playing, that alone would be a great night.  But I’m pretty sure all three bands were going to pull out all the stops.  I think we were in for an exhausting night ( I assume with traffic we wouldn’t be home until like 2AM).

The Interrupters are a ska band with whose lead singer Aimee Interrupter sounds a bit like Brody Dalle from The Distillers. The rest of the band is three brothers: Jesse Bivona on drums, Justin Bivona on bass, and Kevin Bivona on guitar.  I’m still a fan of ska so I’m glad to see its (apparent) resurgence.  I hope it’s still of interest next year since i;d love to hear a new ska band.

I’m glad the show is being rescheduled.  The kids will all be one year older, which makes it even more fun for us all.

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SOUNDTRACK: WEEZER-Christmas EP (2000).

I heard a Weezer Christmas song this weekend when WRFF in Philadelphia was playing a Christmas takeover weekend–rock bands playing Christmas songs.

 I discovered the Christmas with Weezer EP, but the song they played was on this 2000 release.

That song is called “The Christmas Song” which is not any other Christmas song; it is a Weezer original.

With a heavy riff, Rivers sings a song of woe as the woman who told him she’d be there with him has stood him up and he is “waiting beside the tree all by myself.”

I like how the bridge features a note that sounds a bit like the “faaaaalll on your knees” part of “O Holy Night.”  Although it is actually, “Aaaaaaaah. Could you ever know how much I care?”  It’s got a very Weezer sound.

The other song on this release is called “Christmas Celebration.”  It’s a faster punkier song and despite the title, it is not much of a celebration .After a run-through of things that happens on Christmas

Carolers are singing
Registers ka-chinging
And the presents are in place
But I’d rather eat some mace
Cos that egg nog always makes me sick

we get to the crux.  Despite the “hoo hoo” at the end of each line, the vibe is negative.  The final repeated refrain is “The pageantry is such a bore.”

Not the most sentimental Christmas songs, although they are both quite catchy.

[READ: December 22, 2019] “Government Slots”

This year, S. ordered me The Short Story Advent Calendar.  This is my fourth time reading the Calendar.  I didn’t know about the first one until it was long out of print (sigh), but each year since has been very enjoyable.  Here’s what they say this year

The Short Story Advent Calendar is back! And to celebrate its fifth anniversary, we’ve decided to make the festivities even more festive, with five different coloured editions to help you ring in the holiday season.

No matter which colour you choose, the insides are the same: it’s another collection of expertly curated, individually bound short stories from some of the best writers in North America and beyond.

(This is a collection of literary, non-religious short stories for adults. For more information, visit our Frequently Asked Questions page.)

As always, each story is a surprise, so you won’t know what you’re getting until you crack the seal every morning starting December 1. Once you’ve read that day’s story, check back here to read an exclusive interview with the author.

Want a copy?  Order one here.

I’m pairing music this year with some Christmas songs that I have come across this year.

This was another of my favorite stories in the Advent Calendar.  It was so unexpected and thought-provoking.

I love how it starts on seemingly familiar ground with a list of three items: “three brown dahlias, pressed and dried; a photograph of a meadow in spring; a compass.”

It is Christmas Day and this federal office is open–the only federal office open. They are open every day because you never know.

An old woman comes past security and hands over her papers.  After an approval, she hands over her item–a sandwich bag full of cloud white fur.  But it is denied–nothing perishable or alive.

Another list of items: an endorsement letter signed by a cardinal; a miniature compendium of prayers for the dead; a pack of condoms. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: WEEZER-Christmas with Weezer (2008).

I heard a Weezer Christmas song this weekend when WRFF in Philadelphia was playing a Christmas takeover weekend–rock bands playing Christmas songs.

When I looked up the song, I found out that Weezer released this EP in 2008.  It had originally been released for a video game called Christmas with Weezer (?!).  Evidently the game was Tap Tap which featured 18 band-specific versions!

This EP has six songs in under 13 minutes.  Each one of the tracks is pretty straight-ahead Weezer guitar rock.  They are bouncy and short, with nothing weird or crazy in them.

“We Wish You A Merry Christmas” starts out with a quiet guitar and then just rocks out when the lyrics come in.  The song is quick and to the point–no messing around.  There’s figgy pudding, there’s a short guitar solo, there’s a key change and its all done in a minute and a half.

“O Come All You Faithful” moves along at a nice clip.  This song is often done rather slowly and this is a fun change of pace.  The back half has a part where the guitars fade out and its a quiet verse before they all come back in to rock the finish.

“O Holy Night” is two times longer than anything else on the EP.  It’s a 4 minute, quiet version with a simple, picked electric guitar melody.  That is until the Weezer guitars kick in after about 40 seconds.  The song is still respectful and very catchy

“The First Noel” starts with an unexpected four note heavy guitar riff before the song resumes it faithful lyrics.

“Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” has a rocking intro before a bass slide kicks the song into high gear.  This song romps through in 90 seconds.

“Silent Night” is a slower song with no drums, just tambourine.

This is a pretty ideal alternative collection of Christmas songs–nothing too crazy, but a nice change from the familiar.   Although it did not actually contain the song I was looking for.

[READ: December 21, 2019] “The Carnation Milk Palace”

This year, S. ordered me The Short Story Advent Calendar.  This is my fourth time reading the Calendar.  I didn’t know about the first one until it was long out of print (sigh), but each year since has been very enjoyable.  Here’s what they say this year

The Short Story Advent Calendar is back! And to celebrate its fifth anniversary, we’ve decided to make the festivities even more festive, with five different coloured editions to help you ring in the holiday season.

No matter which colour you choose, the insides are the same: it’s another collection of expertly curated, individually bound short stories from some of the best writers in North America and beyond.

(This is a collection of literary, non-religious short stories for adults. For more information, visit our Frequently Asked Questions page.)

As always, each story is a surprise, so you won’t know what you’re getting until you crack the seal every morning starting December 1. Once you’ve read that day’s story, check back here to read an exclusive interview with the author.

Want a copy?  Order one here.

I’m pairing music this year with some Christmas songs that I have come across this year.

This story is set in 1964 and concerns fourteen-year-old Charlotte.  She and her family were invited to the Halden’s house for a New Year’s Eve party.

The Haldens were the richest people her parents knew.  They lived in a mansion that her father liked to call The Carnation Milk Palace.  Charlotte’s family couldn’t even afford new things. It was quite a disparity.  Her mother painted things to try to make them current (which meant avocado green). (more…)

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[ATTENDED: October 24, 2019] A Brilliant Lie

I had taken C. to a couple of live shows before and he had been to see Ice Nine Kills with his friends.  But this was my first time taking him to see a club concert.

This was going to be a long night too.  Four bands!  With the opening band going on at 7 and Starset ending around 11 (and it was a school night!).

Despite leaving pretty early, between traffic, getting pizza on the way there and parking (dad was trying to be cheap and find street parking, but eventually had to give in and pay), we walked in about 2 songs into A Brilliant Lie’s set.

It was certainly a surprise to walk in and hear a band playing “Africa.”  It was even more of a surprise to hear them later say “Weezer can go away now, because, surely they were only playing this because Weezer re-popularized it, right?”  However, A Brilliant Lie’s version was pretty great–heavier and less exactly like the original.  They even did a “everybody get down” middle section and encouraged everyone to sing along (for better or worse). (more…)

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[ATTENDED: August 27, 2019] Mac Sabbath

When I saw that Okilly Dokilly was opening for Mac Sabbath I had to check out who this band was.  They’ve been around for a few years and this was their “American Cheese Tour” (that’s a good one).

And so basically, they are a Black Sabbath cover band, but all of their lyrics are about McDonald’s and the fast food industry in general.  So that’s pretty funny.  But that’s not all.  They have taken this concept to an absurd length.   Each band member is costumed or wears makeup.  And the costumes are phenomenal–not cheap little handmade things, but remarkably detailed and well constructed heads and bodies.  The attention to detail is really impressive.

The band members are also completely anonymous, which is also pretty funny.   And that is why they have such great band names:

The lead singer is Ronald Osbourne.
The guitarist is Slayer MacCheeze
The bassist is Grimalice (the least impressive name, it’s Grimace with an Alice in Wonderland hat on, but his other name is brilliant: “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butler.”)
On drums is Catburglar or Criss Cut Fries (he is dressed like the Hamburglar with Peter Criss Makeup).

I didn’t really think too much about the music before the show, I just wanted to see the stage show. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: WEEZER-Tiny Desk Concert #837 (April 1, 2019).

Weezer is surprisingly polarizing for a band that writes fairly mundane pop songs.

I can’t help but think that this Tiny Desk Concert will just add fuel to the fire.  It’s the four Weezer dudes (Rivers Cuomo: lead vocals, guitar; Brian Bell: guitar, vocals, keys; Scott Shriner: bass guitar; Patrick Wilson: drums) on acoustic instruments.

Why polarizing this time?  Because they play unexpected songs.  They don’t play Africa, nor do they play any of their popular songs.  They also don’t play fan favorites from the first two albums (well, sort of).

They open with “Longtime Sunshine,” a 1994 track that’s only appeared as a Rivers Cuomo home recording on bootlegs and compilations, and on the deluxe edition of Pinkerton.  With piano and acoustic guitars, it really sounds nothing like Weezer, except that it is clearly Weezer (the lyrics, that voice).  Rivers plays the guitar solos and there’s some surprisingly loose bass work.

They sound good, but a little less than perfect, which is cool.  As the blurb notes

This is probably the loosest you’ll ever see Weezer. Known for meticulously produced — and electric — live shows, frontman Rivers Cuomo and the rest of the band settled in behind the Tiny Desk for an entirely acoustic set without the in-ear monitors, click track or vocal separation they usually employ to stay locked-in and tight for bigger performances. The result is surprisingly intimate, with songs that feel lived-in and rumpled, like an old flannel shirt from the ’90s.

They follow that up with a new song.

Then the band performed a stripped-down version of its electro-pop song “Living in L.A.,” from Weezer’s new self-titled “Black Album,”

I actually don’t know the proper version of this song (but I do know a lot of people don’t like the electro sound of the new album). So maybe this version (which is really good) will make them wish the recorded version were more like it.  Bell adds another acoustic guitar and the riffing is pretty heavy (for acoustic guitars).

For everything that polarizes people about Weezer, the one thing people seldom talk about is their musicianship.  All four of them (Bell in particular) are very good and even if they are loose hear, they still sound right on.

I was pretty excited to hear them play “Across the Sea” from Pinkerton, since the certainly don’t play this much.   I never really understood the lyrics all that well, but i enjoyed singing the parts that I knew.  The blurb puts it well:

It’s a song Cuomo originally wrote in his early 20s, inspired by a fan letter he’d received from a young woman in Japan. While beloved by many Gen-Xers who’d first heard it on 1996’s Pinkerton, the song’s lyrics haven’t aged terribly well.

But if you can look past that (I think it’s only the one line that’s uncomfortable-making), the version sounds great.  I especially like the combination of Rivers playing the solo and Bell playing the other guitar.

It’s nice that they were allowed to play four songs.  They play the new song “High as a Kite.”  I didn’t know this song either and I actually can’t imagine it done in any other way.  It’s quite a pretty song.  I’m very curious to hear the recorded version.

There’s a moment n the song where it shifts gears where it sounds like they screwed up, but I don’t think they do, it’s just a little clunky in this format.  Again, I want to hear what it sounds like on record.

Weezer is known for being kind of goofy, so it’s easy to expect them to do something fun, but they are all business.  Aside from this goodbye, “We are Weezer, from the planet Earth. Have a nice life!” they don’t really say anything or break from playing straightforward songs.

The blurb, again, puts it well. It says the song “High as a Kite,” is a

song of innocence and escapism, Cuomo sings about daydreaming and how he wants to disappear — which is exactly what the band did once the song was over.

Longtime fans of Robin Hilton will know that he loves Weezer.  I never found out how he reacted to this Tiny Desk.  Was it polarizing for him as well, or was it just cool to see this side of an otherwise very polished band.

[READ: April 9, 2019] The Return of King Doug 

I have had this book on my bookshelf for a decade, apparently.  I’m not even sure where or how I came to have it although the Oni Press label is a good indicator.

The book starts twenty-five years earlier in the Magical Kingdom of Valdonia.

Valdonia is made up of strange-looking creatures.  Part of this is also because of Wook-Jin Clark’s really odd drawing style.  It took me a while to get used to and enjoy the way he draws and even now I still find it a little off, somehow.

Two centaurs are speaking about the Dark Queen and how she will not rest until she has defeated their kingdom. Balthazar shows off their one defense, the Magical Heart of Agnon.  They just need someone pure of heart enough to wear it.  And Balthazar has heard that one of the Tumtums, Feldspar, has met a stranger–a human child–who might just be that pure being.

The human is Doug and he found his way into their village.  He also bears the mark of the prophecy. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: NPR: The All Songs Considered Holiday Cruise 2018 (December 19, 2018).

Every year Bob Boilen and Robin Hilton “try to do something special for the holiday and it never works out.”  This year’s Christmas special sees them taking a cruise to Bermuda.  What could go wrong?

Every year I have loved the Christmas special–the fun music, the silly story, the guests. But this year’s was my least favorite so far.  And this is mostly because of the music and the guests.  The story was absurd and funny which I liked, but they really didn’t have any artists I was excited about.

Robin is of course unimpressed and concerned (given that they are sailing on Calamity Cruises) and Bob is as ever a gleeful optimist.  And there’s a strange recurring joke about rooms and cabins.

The show opens with a nice (unattributed) version of “Christmas on Christmas Island.”

There were some fun guests for sure, though.  They arrive at their cabin and find Mickey Dolenz (whose Paypal joke is quite funny, but he laughs a bit much at himself).  Most of the artists have a Christmas album out.  The Monkees-“What Would Santa Do” is a fun little ditty and it was written by Rivers Cuomo, so you can hear the Weezer in it.

Things kind of go south as soon as they look at the newspaper and see that William Shatner is lost at sea.

They meet Aloe Blacc on deck who says he created an album of new Christmas songs which were fun and dancey.  The song “Tell Your Mama” is okay.  Nothing special.  It is a little dancey, but maybe it’s not the best track on the disc.  I don’t know.

Robin goes on a journey and meets Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers.  “The Strangest Christmas Yet” is a fun song, but it came out in September so it’s not new or anything (which is what I tend to think this show is about).  But it’s enjoyable to hear Steve tell the crazy story.

Then Bob & Robin zipline along the ship where they run into Lucius.  They play the Lucius version of “Christmastime is Here,” which is pretty as most of their songs are but not very festive.  The story by Holly afterwards about hearing actual jingle bells is a highlight of the show.

Rodney Crowell also tells a funny story about playing basketball on the road.  Although his album is pretty dark, he says his album is about being Scrooge and looking for redemption.  They play “Let’s Skip Christmas This Year,” a bluesy romp that’s more fun than the title lets on.

The guys find themselves caught in the Bermuda Triangle and Shatner makes his appearance, “singing” “Blue Christmas” with Brad Paisley.  Shatner can’t overpower Paisley’s twang.

Up next is John Legend.  What I like about this is they try to talk to him about being lost and Legend is talking about his Christmas album–a funny spliced interview.  They play John Legend singing “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” with Esperanza Spalding. It’s pretty good but they do too much vocal acrobatics at the end.

As the show ends, the final joke is revealed thanks to a grant (great joke).  Although the show ends with another Shatner song, an over the top “Feliz Navidad.”

So no one terribly exciting for this journey, but there are a few good Christmas songs to add to your favorites.

[READ: December 21, 2018] “The One Who Is”

Once again, I have ordered The Short Story Advent Calendar.  This is my third time reading the Calendar (thanks S.).  I never knew about the first one until it was long out of print (sigh).  Here’s what they say this year

Fourth time’s the charm.

After a restful spring, rowdy summer, and pretty reasonable fall, we are officially back at it again with another deluxe box set of 24 individually bound short stories to get you into the yuletide spirit.

The fourth annual Short Story Advent Calendar might be our most ambitious yet, with a range of stories hailing from eight different countries and three different originating languages (don’t worry, we got the English versions). This year’s edition features a special diecut lid and textured case. We also set a new personal best for material that has never before appeared in print.

Want a copy?  Order one here.

Like last year I’m pairing each story with a holiday disc from our personal collection, although today’s soundtrack is an NPR special.

This story shows the conflict between native culture and white culture.  It’s unclear when it is set, but at least the white doctor does sterilize his instruments.

Nona is about to give birth and she is having a very hard time. Her water broke, but she has been pushing for days with no luck–the baby is breached. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: CAYUCAS-“High School Lover” (Field Recordings, May 9, 2013).

Five clean-cut California dudes, wearing sunglasses, sitting buy the pool.

This image calls a certain band to mind, but this is not that band.  This is Cayucas (whom I have never heard of).  For this Field Recording [Cayucas: Sunlight In Song Form], the five piece was filmed at the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs.

Rather than super catchy melodies and lovely harmonies, Cayucas sings “laconic pop-rock.”

Sitting poolside on a picnic table, the band performed its bittersweet single “High School Lover” with only an acoustic guitar and light percussion for accompaniment. In any form, the song isn’t all sunshine — its youthful nostalgia gets filtered carefully through the prism of regret — but this performance is plenty bright, as Cayucas’ members locate their best-known song’s laid-back heartbeat. “High School Lover” provides a perfect soundtrack to the shimmery leisure that surrounds the band on all sides here. But it also leaves room on the agenda for hints of sadness and sunburn.

I don’t know what their recordings sound like, but this stripped down version is certainly low-key, bordering on uninspired–particularly the “heys” at the end.  It sounds like a Weezer outtake.

Although the guy dancing is certainly an enjoyable visual component.

[READ: January 4, 2017] “An Honest Woman”

I found this story to be more irritating than anything else.

I think that’s maybe the point?  But I was sort of annoyed by it the whole time.

Simply put, this is the story of an old man hitting on a young woman who has moved in next door to him.  It’s told from the point of view of the old man.  And yet he is shown as pretty much the predator right from the start.  I had no sympathy for him at all.  And again, I assume that’s the point, right?  If there was meant to be any empathy for the guy, it did not come through at all.

Having said that, this story was just frustrating.  Jeb is an old man (he used to be a redhead but is now white-haired).  He lies in a small house with a dirt backyard.

Next door a young woman moves in.  She had a guy living with her, but he hasn’t been around for a while.  So Jeb makes his move. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: July 20, 2018] Weezer

I saw Weezer a couple of years ago in Bethlehem.  It was my first time seeing them, but I left feeling somewhat underwhelmed. They debuted 2 new songs, which was cool, but the show felt pretty short and I was really irritated by the crowd.

Tall, drunk college kids.  A lot of pushing and shoving (but not dancing) and I could not get close enough to the action.

I enjoyed the set designs and Rivers’ get ups.  But they finished in less than 90 minutes.

True they sounded great, but overall I was just a little blah.

I felt for sure if I could see better I would enjoy them a lot more.  And this proved to be true.

This show was not in support of a new album (I didn’t realize that), it was more of a career retrospective (sort of).  And what this meant was that they played a lot of songs I really like and, amazingly, they played not only more songs than the last time (very odd for a co-headlining show), they wound up playing nine songs that they hadn’t last time. (more…)

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