Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Liquid Tension Experiment at B.B. King's

A story for you: After coming home from this concert, I went to sleep, and suffered from a reoccurring/waking dream for three or four hours that involved both LTE's music and snapshot images of the show I had just seen (Mike Portnoy standing up on his drum riser to address the crowd, for example. Lord knows why so many of my music dreams feature Mike Portnoy, but I suspect it's because he does of putting himself forward, so he's really noticable). I've had these dreams in the past; the only way to break the cycle and get any real sleep is to wake myself up completely for a few minutes. That night, it took me until 4:00 AM, and when I finally did so, I came to the conclusion that the source of my mental distress was, to quote Emperor Joseph II in Amadeus, "too many notes." Basically, I couldn't sleep because I was still trying to process all of the aural information I had absorbed - or because my legs still hurt after standing still for two hours.

Sleep deprivations aside, the concert was worth the admission price: a full capacity of Dream Theater, King Crimson, and prog/jazz geeks (perhaps the biggest concentration of pudgy middle-aged white males I'm likely to see a show in a while - or at least until August) watching four master technicians do their thing on stage. The extreme cerebriality was fun (because, to face facts, I had a love for the possibilities of prog drilled into me in childhood), but the guys also looked like they were having fun - and there's a hard edge to enough of their music to make me feel like I'm witnessing something that still rocks in its own fashion.

However, I discovered something about LTE (and by extension, Dream Theater) while watching this concert: the music is a lot more enjoyable when it's prescripted material from an album, as improvisation isn't really a strong point. Actually, that might be a little inaccurate; during the three improvisational jams the band played during their set, you could see the genesis of songs that, once time had been taken to polish, would make for tracks as interesting as anything LTE has produced thus far, partially eliminating the charge of wankery for no purpose, because at least the band sounded like they were sharing how they go about writing new material. Seeing the beginnings of that process was (in retrospect) cool from a purely geeky perspective, but because these songs didn't go anywhere - and ended, at least once, in pure shredding noise - it wasn't very interesting to watch. Overall, a good show to see, but one that could have been more effective with some more tightening down on the self-indulgence.

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