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Archive for the ‘Set in New Jersey!’ Category

[ATTENDED: February 22, 2022] Billie EIlish

Back in 2019, I bought tickets for my daughter and I to see Billie Eilish’s tour in 2020.  I was really looking forward to it because I’d heard that she put on an amazing show.

I was especially looking forward to the energy and the visuals.  Then COVID came in and we watched with bated breath as concerts were cancelled.  And then she postponed the whole tour.  Ultimately, she cancelled it.

And actually that proved to be not a bad thing in the long run.  The opener we had was much better than Denzel Curry.  And our new seats proved to be terrific.  When she announced the tour for the new album, we were given a pre-sale code since we had tickets for the earlier show.  Then in May of 2021 I grabbed tickets and waited nine months!

The only bummer was that this new tour was for her newly released, more mature album (she’s all of 18).  And I didn’t really like it.  I thought it was kind of bland.  I love that Billie is singing and not mumbling like she does on the first album–and I was really impressed by her voice.  But I found the album lacked the dynamics of the first one.

She was performing most of the album live.  Although I see that in the previous tour she did a whole middle section of covers, which I don’t really like, so that’s okay then.

I also thought she’d dress like the album.  But nope, as you can see she was good old punky Billie.  And she played 26 songs and performed for about an hour and forty-five minutes.

(more…)

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[ATTENDED: February 22, 2022] Dora Jar

Originally Willow was supposed to be the support act for Billie Eilish.

My daughter and I were pretty excited about that because Willow’s new album is really good.  And, she had announced a headline tour, which we didn’t really want to go to.  This was an easy opportunity to see her.

Then a few days before this tour began, Willow dropped out of the tour.  She gave an excuse that, to my ears, sounds very lame:

Due to production limitations, I am unable to put on the show that I believe you all deserve.

It sounds noble, but let’s be honest, it’s not like the opening act’s performance was suddenly stripped down.

At the last minute, Dora Jar, an artist I’d never heard of, signed on.  I listened to a song online.  Thought it was fine and then forgot about it. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: February 10, 2022] Ghost

C. and I saw Ghost a couple of years ago and the show was amazing. I knew I’d want to see them again.  We sat close to the stage but kind off to the side.  It was actually an amazing view and we were really close to one of the risers that the guitarist and singer came to.

But for this show i got us floor seats (just behind the pit).  The seats were close but not quite as satisfying.  We did get an amazing view of the set, but it felt just far enough to not be really in it.  And, having seats meant that we couldn’t move away from the tall people in front of us.  (Plus, if we were in the pit we would have had a pretty good chance of getting one of the seemingly endless amount of picks and drumsticks they doled out).

But that’s beside the point, because the performance was great.  The curtain dropped and the amazing stage was revealed.  Stained glass windows of the former Papas, the stairs and platforms and the Nameless Ghouls playing.

This tour was ostensibly to promote the new album.  But Ghost’s new album isn’t out yet.  And, since they were co-headlining it meant that their set was cut short (who exactly does a co-headline tour benefit?  Not the fans.). But that also meant that this was like a greatest hits show.

After playing a new song “Kaisarion,” he began the first of man sing-alongs with “Rats.”

I was delighted with how “funny” the show was last time.  Because they had less stage time, this show did away with some of the fun.  Lead singer Papa Emeritus does some wardrobe changes and the Nameless Ghouls places some instrumental songs to keep us occupied while Papa is backstage.

Last time, the two lead guitarist Ghouls had a showdown.  This time, there was a much briefer contest.  But it was still funny, with the Ghouls pantomiming on stage.  At one point one of the Ghouls played a high note that squealed into feedback.  One of the other Ghouls had to run over and make it stop in what looked like a possible usurpation of lead guitar status.  And it was very amusingly when Papa shoved away the guitarists when they would be where he wanted to stand.

They played a bunch of songs from Meliora, and older album.  They were catchy and the crowd was really into it.

The lighting was always great–conducive to whatever the songs were about.

After a new song “Hunter’s Moon,” they played some songs from Prequelle.

Some jackass had been calling out for “Year Zero” for much of the show.  As C. pointed out–it’s a popular song with a great sing along chorus–of course they’re going to play it.

There was a guy in front of us who was really really into the show–waving his arms and acting out lyrics (even the Nameless Ghouls weren’t doing that).  It’s a little disconcerting when you now some of the words.

There was even a brief keytar solo during the show! The band has added some Ghoulettes to round out the family, one of whom plays keys and tambourine.

They played a rocking “Mummy Dust” complete with confetti cannons.  Although for whatever reason, the confetti all blew off to the right side of the stage and never really made it past the pit.

And then Papa told us that they had three songs left.  Volbeat felt so endless, I couldn’t believe that Ghost was almost over.  They played a cover of  “Enter Sandman,” I guess they did the song for the Metallic covers album.  It sounded really good.

Then they ended with two of their biggest, catchiest sons, “Danse Macabre” and “Square Hammer.”

I had such a good time with them playing “Kiss the Go-Goat” last time, that I was sure they would encore with it.  But they didn’t.  There was no encore.  Sure the final band gets to do an encore!  But no.  And their set was only an hour and fifteen minutes.  While Volbeat played an hour and twenty.  Boo!

But man it was so much fun to see them again.  Like last time, they ended the show with an tapes recording on an Emmylou Harris song (which is weird).  They handed out picks and sticks and waved to people and were generally fun and delightful.

Clearly, next time we see them we need to get pit seats

Oh, and how cool is it that were playing at Devils stadium?

2022 2018
TAPE: Imperia TAPE: Klara stjärnor (Jan Johansson song)
Kaisarion TAPE: Miserere Mei, Deus (Gregorio Allegri song)
Rats Ashes
From the Pinnacle to the Pit Rats
Mary on a Cross Absolution
Devil Church Faith
Cirice Mary on a Cross
Hunter’s Moon Devil Church [with extended jam]
Faith Cirice
Helvetesfönster Miasma
Year Zero Ghuleh/Zombie Queen
Ritual Helvetesfönster [partial]
Mummy Dust Spirit
Enter Sandman (Metallica cover) From the Pinnacle to the Pit
Dance Macabre Ritual
Square Hammer ♣ Satan Prayer
TAPE:  Sorrow in the Wind (Emmylou Harris song) Year Zero
TAPE: Spöksonat
He Is
Mummy Dust
Kiss the Go-Goat
Dance Macabre
encore
Square Hammer ♣
TAPE:  Sorrow in the Wind (Emmylou Harris song)

⇑ Impera (2022)
⊕ Kiss the Go-Goat EP (2019)
♣ Popestar EP (2016)

¶ Prequelle (2018)
⊗ Meliora (2015)
∞ Infestissumam (2013)
 Opus Eponymous (2010)

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[ATTENDED: February 10, 2022] Volbeat

I hadn’t heard of Volbeat before this tour was announced.  Although I had to join their (free) fan club to get the pre-sale code because it seemed like Ghost’s didn’t go out as early.

I listened to a few Volbeat songs before the show but nothing really grabbed me.  I wasn’t quite sure what I didn’t like about them–they had a kind of “rock-n-roll” vibe which I don’t really care for.  Some of their songs were heavier than others, but it did nothing for me.

I assumed that live would be a different story.

And judging by the crowd, you’d think that was right.  The crowd went berserk for these guys.  And I… didn’t.

There’s so much that I should like about this band.  They’re from Denmark, which is exotic and fun.  The lead singer is funny and charismatic and he had a terrific voice.  The guitarist is from New York (he really looked nothing like the rest of the band) and he was tremendous–doing some amazing solos.

The rhythm section was always on.

And yet, it did nothing for me.  I felt like the singer’s voice, while great, never worked with the music.  And the solos were impressive but not very interesting,  It felt like something was missing–four great parts in need of something interesting to bring it all together.

Their backing videos and such were pretty great.  They changed for most songs and were fun to watch.  For a few songs they even had narrative videos that were fun to watch.  The video screens also did a fun thing where they mirror-imaged one of the guys to be on either side of the person in the middle screen.  And I really liked that the lead singer had microphones all over the stage, so he sang from different parts at different times–very democratic.

It’s possible I didn’t like them as much because the dudes in front of me were tall and filmed nearly everything so I could hardly see anything at all (hence watching the videos).

And yet there was nothing about them that I hated.  I just felt completed blah by them.  I couldn’t wait for their set to be over.  I almost never feel this way.  But shockingly, they actually played for a few minutes longer than Ghost (the headliner) did.

Strangely enough, or perhaps not, my son felt exactly the same way–Just meh.  Just nothing from them.

But the crowd was so into it and I genuinely worried that concerts had lost magic for me.  Ghost brought it back, thankfully.

The people in the row behind us were really noisy when they sat down and then were very quiet.  When Volbeat was done, we learned that someone in the row behind us peed on the stranger next to him.  I don’t have any details and I can’t quite imagine exactly how this all happened.  But it sounds like it was a deliberate act?  Did he take it out and point at them?  Did he just pee his pants?  I have no idea.  Apparently the victims were allowed to move to a better location.  But It was far more memorable than Volbeat.  (And fortunately, none of us got anything wet).

Not entirely true.  We all enjoyed his little Johnny Cash cover (he started “Ring of Fire” and then said that he had ripped off Johnny for the old song “Sad Man’s Tongue,” but I have no recollection of that song.

I see that they have a Rockabilly vibe going on and I really don’t like rockabilly, so maybe that’s it.  They also seemed to be kind of Satanic, but not really.  Even just looking at their album titles kind of annoys me.

SETLIST

  1. Seal the Deal $
  2. Pelvis on Fire ®
  3. Temple of Ekur Ø
  4. Lola Montez
  5. Ring of Fire (Johnny Cash excerpt) / Sad Man’s Tongue ¥
  6. Becoming Ø
  7. Last Day Under the Sun ®
  8. Wait a Minute My Girl Ø
  9. Black Rose $
  10. Shotgun Blues Ø
  11. The Devil’s Bleeding Crown $
  12. The Devil Rages On Ø
  13. Doc Holliday
  14. The Sacred Stones Ø
  15. Die to Live ®
  16. Still Counting ♦

Ø Servant of the Mind (2021)
® Rewind, Replay, Rebound (2019)
$ Seal the Deal & Let’s Boogie (2016)
⊗ Outlaw Gentlemen and Shady Ladies (2013)
♦ Guitar Gangsters & Cadillac Blood (2008)
¥ Rock the Rebel/Metal the Devil (2007)

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[ATTENDED: February 10, 2022] Twin Temple

I was really intrigued to see Twin Temple because I’d heard about them through….NPR? I’m not sure, but I remember hearing about this satanic doo-wop group.

I don’t really like the music as I don’t like doo-wop, but I was all in for the spectacle.  And wow, what a spectacle.

The band came out of stage: drums, bass, keys and a big old tenor sax.  After riffing for a bit, the two main persons in the band came out on stage in their full satanic regalia.

Their bio states:

The band was started on Halloween (a Witch’s Sabbath) in 2016 when a destruction ritual was performed, and Alexandra and Zachary James stepped into their power as Twin Temple, energetically killing all their previous incarnations up until that point. 

And while a lot of “Satanic” metal bands begin and end their worship of Satan on stage, the same can’t be said for Twin Temple. Both their music and their practice of Satanism, on and off the stage, are rooted in the ideals of free will and giving space to those who are often not allowed any.

So no, Twin Temple doesn’t drink the blood of virgins or kill babies to sacrifice on the full moon. They are challenging notions about what it means to free the oppressed, fight back against dated and binary ways of thinking, and doing it all while hailing the dark lord himself.

So the duo came out on stage–Alexandra in her huge beehive hairdo and Zachary with his tiny mustache–and proceeded to do some rituals.

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[ATTENDED: February 6, 2022] MST3K Live

This was my fourth MST3K live experience and it was a hoot.  This was the first time that there was only one movie (in previous years they did two back to back–separate tickets).  This was also the first year that the host was a newbie.  Well, not totally new, Emily Marsh was on set for the previous show and as Emily Connor she will be co-hosting and maybe full-hosting the upcoming season.

Which is all well and good because I thought she was outstanding.  A bundle of energy, great comic timing and what a singing voice!

But the show started with the imposing presence of Yvonne Freese as Mega Synthia and sweet, one-eyed purple GPC!  She was outstanding last time and was even better this time as she was the center of attention for most of her on-stage time.  She was very funny and threw in some good improvs as the crowd reacted or didn’t.  She also has an amazing voice.

And of course, there are the bots–Conor McGiffin as Tom Servo and Nate Begle as Crow.  It’s amazing what a small crew they have for this tour (the props take up more room than the people).  There’s a mysterious fifth person on the tour as well.  She is “swing puppeteer” Kelsey Ann Brady who I gather is meant to fill in where and when she can.  Since the cast was all there, she was added as a kind of clone the Mega Synthia, which was pretty fun. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: November 27, 2021] The Districts

I was supposed to see The Districts play at Union Transfer on March 12.  COVID-19 had just found its way into New Jersey and Pennsylvania and I was being very cautious so I decided to skip the show.  It was a safe decision, but one that I now regret as it would have been a pretty great final show of the year.  Shows pretty much completely stopped after that.

I was then supposed to see the Districts three times in 2021 (a lot of that was coincidence).  The opened for Modest Mouse (I had no idea they were going to), then they announced a show in Asbury Park and then, at the end of the year they were supposed to open for Dr. Dog (they bailed on that show, as did I, even though the show went on).

After seeing them open for Modest Mouse, I wanted to see them headline, because they tend to go a bit more nuts when they are in charge.

I was happy to see them in such a small place, but I hadn’t really thought this show through.  Asbury Park, on Thanksgiving weekend.  Holy crap, the place was full of reunited and drunk college students.  Which made for a more festive atmosphere but also meant that security almost had to pull somebody out and that everyone was singing along (badly) at the top of their lungs.  And of course drunk people were pushing forward throughout the show.

The band seemed to be in a really good mood when they came out and they rocked several classic songs: “4th and Roebling,” “Salt” and ‘If Before I Wake” (the crowd loves singing the “I’m just a narcissist” line)  Then they moved on to You Know I’m Not Going Anywhere for “Hey Jo,” and the moody “My Only Ghost.” (more…)

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[ATTENDED: November 27, 2021] Sham

After The Scouts, Sham came out.  Sham is the project of Shane Justice McCord.  It was him and a bass player (I loved his bass guitar!) for this set.

The bass player started by playing bird calls on a small device while Shane played acoustic guitar.

The set was quiet and acoustic and perhaps a little atonal.  Very experimental (in a video I took, you can barely hear the band from all the chatter, until a guy behind me says, “this band is so weird, this is the best.”

In no way were they the right band for this particular show–a rowdy New jersey crowd looking to rock.  But aside from talking over the set, the crowd was at least respectful.

A few songs in, the bassist moved to drums and a new bassist came out and that added a little (very little) oomph to their set. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: November 27, 2021] The Scouts

I didn’t know if there were any opening bands for The Districts, and it turned out there were two.

The Scouts (a difficult search term, especially when combined with The Districts) are from The District’s home town of Lititz, PA.

They came out as a five piece and won me over immediately with some really solid guitar rock.  Their songs were all pretty long–about five minutes each with lengthy intros and multiple sections.

Lead singer Nathan Yager has long hair and a big beard but has a relatively restrained vocal sound (powerful but not overpowering).  He plays guitar as well and when he and Tom Hartman played together, they really brought in a nice mix of quiet and loud guitar. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: March 13, 2016] Avi Avital and MILOŠ

Five years ago, S. and I went to see Avi Avital at a tiny theater on the Princeton University campus.  And now, here he was returning, but this time with a partner!  MILOŠ, an incredible guitarist whom I’d also learned about through a Tiny Desk Concert.

Israeli musician Avi Avital has taken the mandolin to new heights, earning a GRAMMY nomination as the first mandolin soloist in history…. He returns to Princeton University Concerts joined by an exciting PUC debut: Montenegrin phenomenon MILOŠ, who is described as “the hottest guitarist in the world” and renowned for his deeply emotive playing. Together, they bring us a kaleidoscopic program of arrangements and transcriptions for mandolin and guitar.   “POD SEATING” — Patrons will be seated on stage only with members of their party, as determined by the ticket quantity in your order.

So we could see these two terrific musicians and be right on the stage with them? Sign me up!

S. and I both went and we were maybe twenty feet from the musicians.  They were charming and funny as they introduced themselves and each other and then they blew us away with their amazing finger and fret work.

They played a truly wide ranging repertoire and explained the origins and context of each song.  Who would have guessed that Bach and Philip Glass could work together so well? (more…)

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