Thursday, October 26, 2006

A Matter of Drinking and Moron

My buddy Seth went to see Iron Maiden at the Nassau Coliseum on Long Island (a show that someone very kindly recorded and posted on YouTube for all to enjoy) the night before I did, so (of course) we compared notes about the shows and thoughts on the tour as a whole. Although we focused mainly on Maiden’s choice to play A Matter of Life and Death in its entirety for the first 2/3rds of the show, Seth mentioned that there was one really drunk guy who spent most of the show yelling for Maiden to play “Phantom of the Opera.” Unfortunately for him, “Phantom of the Opera” wasn’t in the cards that night and he went home disappointed…but the reason why I remark on Mr. Drunk Guy at all was that there was someone behind me at the Continental Airlines Arena (northern New Jersey) show who was clearly very drunk and spent the whole show yelling for Maiden to play, you guessed it: “Phantom of the Opera.”

Now, for those of you unfamiliar with the geography, Long Island and northern New Jersey aren’t that far apart, so the same guy could have gone to both shows (it’s certainly something I’ve done before). What hilarious about this situation, of course, is that Maiden is playing the same set list for the whole tour…and anyone who follows the band closely (which would definitely include anyone who knows the Iron Maiden back catalog enough to yell for “Phantom of the freakin Opera”) would know that before going to the shows. If it was the same guy (and we’ll assume for the sake of amusement that it was), he went to the Long Island show, got so wasted that he forgot the next day that Maiden only played five “classic” tunes and then went to the NJ show that night, drunk off his ass, expecting them to play “Phantom.” People amuse the hell out of me sometimes.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Bow Down to Gigantor!

Most recent effort: Gigantour 2006, at the Nassau Coliseum on Long Island on September 29. I definitely had a good time (and because of the layout of the venue, had a more consistently good time than I did at Gigantour on Long Island last year), but as usual, there were some things that just weren’t going to make it into the review. Three things, to be precise, but that’s why this blog exists. Here goes:
  1. The Nassau Coliseum smells like moldering death and the surface of the general admission area was peeling off the floor in clumps. The Coliseum is also home to the New York Islanders (hockey), New York Dragons (arena football) and New York Titans (lacrosse), so the smell was probably a mix of sweat and the damp left over from melting ice, but over all, the place is a concrete bunker (literally; I’m pretty sure we had to go underground to get inside) that is in terrible condition, especially in comparison to the Continental Airlines Arena, a concert/sports venue in New Jersey. Come on, Long Island – you don’t want to lose in yet another comparison to New Jersey, do you? On a positive note, though, the moldy smell was a great addition to Opeth’s set – if you’re going to be singing songs about gloom and desecration, I think the only better place you could play would be inside a decaying mansion that had hosted a grisly murder or two.

  2. This show was not only my first freebie (courtesy of Arch Enemy), but my first photo pass: for the first three songs of every set (except Megadeth – my company isn’t cool enough to run with the big boys yet, I guess) I was all the way up in front, standing shoulder to shoulder with other photographers and the security guards who take down crowd surfers, snapping away. The experience was terrifying and exhilarating; terrifying because I was competing with professional photographers with massive cameras and gear bags (some of whom looked like they could care less about the music) for shots with my small Canon, exhilarating because I was mere feet away from all of the action, without anyone crushing me against a barrier. I think I got some good shots, though. One interesting thing I did notice: musicians must feel like they’re performing to a vacuum on stage, with the lights blocking their vision and the 7- or 8-foot gap between them and the audience on the floor. The ones who seemed to have the solution down the best looked like they were staring right through me, which was almost as intimidating as fighting with the photographers. It made me wonder a bit about my professional detachment when I write reviews and whether or not I would feel compromised if I went to a show to review it and made a concerted effort not to enjoy it at the same time just to be more “objective.” I’m not sure about the answer to that one.

  3. While waiting on the floor for Megadeth to start, I spotted a trio who could have been actors for a movie about the bygone days of metal. First we had 80’s Thrash Representative: converse high-tops; rolled, tight jeans; Somewhere in Time t-shirt with the arms and midsection ripped off; and hair that would have done Marty Friedman proud. Talking to him was Early 90’s Guy: combat boots, cargo shorts, Megadeth shirt from the late 80s and the same Marty Friedman hair, although on this guy it made him look more like a member of Alice in Chains. And then we had their buddy, Late 90’s Guy, with the same general look as Early 90’s Guy, but rocking the shaved head and James Hetfield style super handlebar. And all of these guys were about my age (i.e., too young to have sported any of those looks, except for Late 90’s Guy, when they were current), which made the whole thing that much more surreal. It wasn’t funny per se, so much as it was defiantly cool. And it made good people-watching material while I waited for the final set of the night.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Oh, If Only He Could See This Now...

Right before I started this blog, I covered Queensrÿche’s show at the Nokia Theatre in Times Square. Excellent, excellent show, marred only by two things:

  1. Despite its name, the Nokia doesn’t host full-stage productions masquerading as rock concerts very well. Unless you were 6’ 5” (and I’m most definitely not) or standing at the very front of the crowd, you weren’t seeing everything going on onstage; the theater side of things, if you will. Minor gripe, the show still rocked.

  2. The really drunk guy who decided to metal scream into my ear at inappropriate moments (and yes, there are appropriate moments to metal scream, you just have to time them properly. Like when you’re blasting through a rendition of “Painkiller” at a karaoke bar) during the first act of the show. I spent about half an hour trying to figure out something clever to say to him that would shut him up – and then I remembered that revenge is a dish best served cold. Thanks, Idolator!

Monday, October 02, 2006

Hate Mail

I received what I should probably call my first piece of hate mail through my website, which I guess will teach me to provide a link back from my reviews. What can I say? I wanted the traffic. In any case, here goes:

“You are wrong regarding your critique of BD at Town Hall with Opeth. You don’t know anything about the company or the history of the people who run research first before going off on a performance you know nothing about.”

In case you don’t feel like reading the review, the writer of this email is referring to my critique of the Ballet Deviare, who opened the New York performance of “Chronology MCMXCIV – MMV: A Live Observation by Opeth” with a dance interpretation of “Deliverance” they called “...And the Devil Knows Why” (sick of the quotation marks yet?). Basically, I said the group looked like a bunch of amateurs, the dance itself did not do much to convey the meanings of the song and on the whole, I could have done with less dancing and more Opeth. I emailed the guy back and basically told him the same thing, but I found the whole experience intriguing: no one’s ever attacked my credibility as a journalist before and doing it in a way that makes it sound like he didn’t actually read the review makes it that much more fun. I’m sure I’ll get notes like this one many more times, but for now I’m thrilling in the novelty and damn it, I’m going to enjoy it.

Perhaps I Should Explain Myself

My story: about 11 months ago, the online publishing company I work for hired a new heavy metal writer. To be honest, I made the decision about hiring him – hiring decisions are in my normal capacity anyway, but I’m the only person in our editorial department who really knows anything about metal. When I said this guy not only had the knowledge but the connections, it went over well.

In any case, about a month later I had the bright idea of furthering my own burgeoning writing career by doing concert reviews for this writer – I live in New York City and he lives off the main tour circuit, so it turned into a mutually beneficial arrangement for both of us. I started in January with part 2 of Anthrax’s reunion tour, learned a lot from the process and have been covering about a show a month ever since.

Great, but so what? Well, the problem with writing anything for publication is that you need to cut things out from your description so the reader doesn’t have to wade through pages and pages of pedantry just to find out what the hell was going on. Unfortunately, some of that pedantry is interesting (the conductor at the Dream Theater 20th Anniversary show in April was very clearly rocking out during those songs that had minimal orchestral involvement), some of it isn’t appropriate for the publication (while waiting for Mastodon to come on stage at the Unholy Alliance Tour in June, I had the pleasure of listening to a drunk New Jersey redneck biker-type yell about how “Angel of Death” was all about killing Jews and how any Jews in the crowd were going to die during Slayer’s set) and some it just won’t fit (Queensrÿche re-recorded all of the old Mindcrime footage for their current tour). As I was enjoying the privileges granted to me by my first-ever photo pass at Gigantour 2006 last week, I thought, “why not take the best of those missing bits and blog about them?” So here I am, blogging about the missing bits. I don’t know how often I’ll be updating – I suspect a post per show or so.