Monday, September 29, 2008

Two Concert Reviews for the Price of One!

I thought I was going to have more time to write my reviews of my big shows this past week, but this weekend was insanely busy. I know, shocker.

First off was Sigur Ros at the Chicago Theater on Wednesday night. The band is in my top 5 favorite bands of all time (closing in on the top 3 even), so it's always a thrill to see them, especially at a place as perfect as the Chicago Theater. To make things even better, we got excellent seats for the show, very close to the front and on the front of an aisle, so I could actually move my legs and not feel like I was trapped in an airplane seat.

The show was opened by a band called Parachutes, who were actually pretty good, but that's mainly because they're the first Sigur Ros clone band that I've seen. Had I seent Parachutes at pretty much any other show or venue, I would have been very happy about their set, but since it was like seeing SRv2.0, when SRv1.0 was much better and waiting to play behind them, it got pretty frustrating.

SR finally took the stage at 9 pm, which made me wonder if this was either going to be a really short set (due to the 10 pm curfew), or if they were going to ignore that whole curfew thing. My frustration from the Parachutes set was instantly wiped away by the one single note which opens their magnificent song "Svefn g englar," the opening track to their astounding breakthrough Agaetis Byrjun. After the gorgeous 10 minute opener, they followed up with "Glosoli," the amazing opener to their also great album Takk..., which was the perfect one two "punch" (I have a pretty tough time using that word for another of their songs really).

After sticking to alot of older material in the beginning, the band settled in to showcase songs from their new great cd, Med Sud I Eyrum Vid Spilum Endalaust (meaning "with a buzz in our ears, we play endlessly" in Icelandic). Their new material fit in well with the older songs, since they have never really strayed far from their formula from day one, but who can blame them? The band brought out Parachutes to help them with the drums for "Gobbledigook," and closed with the always amazing Untitled #7 from their album ( ).

Yes, I'm really not making up these titles. I know, I could pretty much mash the keyboard and claim it's one of their songs or albums. In fact, here you go, here's a song from Sigur Ros's next album: q-3tug4jlg.

It wasn't the best SR performance I've seen, but it was still a pretty great one. I miss their opening band Amiina, who would help them with the odd instrumentation throughout their set as well. But the band was excellent as only a 4 piece anyways, so it wasn't a big problem.

On Saturday night, I headed to the dreaded Aragon Brawlroom to see My Bloody Valentine. The back story of this band is pretty interesting, Chicago music critic Jim Derogatis did an excellent job of summing up here. I say that I dreaded heading to the Aragon, since I have avoided being their for several years, since the sound is usuall horrible there, coming close to sounding similar to hearing a band play in cave, and not a good sounding cave at that.

The band Hopewell opened the show, and the only thing I can give them credit for is that they actually started early, which was a shock to me since I was expecting the show to run far behind schedule. I have no idea how they ended up opening for MBV otherwise, since their fairly generic and unmemorable sound was nothing like MBV's.

I expected MBV to hit the stage after a good hour or so wait at least, since they were supposed to have a massive sound system for this tour, and because the band is notorious for making fans wait for everything else (17 years since their last cd, 16 years since the last tour, etc.). The house lights actually went down at 9, to my amazement, but the band still managed to wait 10 minutes before taking the stage after that.

The sound of the show truly was amazing, I have never heard the Aragon sound that good, and I doubt that I have ever been to a show that loud in a venue of that size. The band spent the majority of the time on their masterpiece Loveless, with some older material mixed in as well, but nothing new, despite the claims that the band have possibly two albums' worth of material near completion.

My highlights were of course most of the tracks they played off of Loveless, with the opener "Only Shallow" being my favorite. The vocals were buried even deeper in the mix live than they are on record, where they already almost inaudible in the massive sea of guitars, so it was just as impossible to figure out anything they were saying live.

They played a solid hour set, then at 10:12 they actually said thanks to the audience, then launced into their closer "You Make Me Realize." I checked because I knew what was coming, the first two or so minutes were fairly typical massive pop, then the band went on to make an even more massive wall of white noise, going for 20 minutes (yes, TWENTY MINUTES) making the loudest noise I've ever head a band make. It was so loud, I could feel my nose, mouth, and even the pockets of my pants vibrating because of it. It sounded like a jet roaring at full blast (rumor has it their NY show clocked in at 124 decibels, just slightly above a jet engine at 120), then sounding like a tornado rumbling through and picking up that engine, then having a hailstorm pound on the jet engine, then getting even louder from there.

It was a pretty impressive display, at least for the first 10 minutes or so. It did get old after a bit before finally coming around to the pop sound again at the close of the song. If I didn't have my earplugs in (which the band was kind enough to donate pairs to the audience at the entrance), I'm quite certain I would have lost some hearing that night.

Let's hope the band doesn't wait another 16 years to tour once again. Well, at least if they do, I can take Bella with and she can see for herself next time.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Free Wilco Song

Want a free download of a Wilco song? All it will take you is a simple promise that you'll vote in the upcoming election. Doesn't matter for who, just as long as you vote!

Click here, then you'll get an email with a link to the download after that. The track is a cover of Bob Dylan's "I Shall Be Released" done live in August with the band Fleet Foxes providing addition vocal backup.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Speed Racer

Once again, catching up on movies from earlier in the year...

I watched Speed Racer on dvd this past weekend (technically Blu-Ray, but I won't brag). I can pretty much save you 2 hours and 15 minutes of your life and sum it up this way:

1. Get a large piece of paper approximately the size of your tv set. If you want to be a snob like me, make sure it is in the proper widescreen aspect ratio. A standard tv tube sized piece just won't do this justice.

2. Get the nearest 2 to 5 year old child you have handy access too, and hand them a large selection of those squeeze finger paint tubes, in as many colors as you can possibly gather.

3. Tell the child to splatter, mix, match, swirl, splatter and use any other technique to get as many colors on the paper at any time as they can.

4. Give said child at least two toy race cars. Doesn't matter if they look like the Speed Racer one, you really won't care. Tell child to pretend to have the cars race all around on the paper. Bonus points if they constantly make the cars crash into each other, bounce upside down off of each other, and break another other elemental law of physics.

5. Cut a picture of Matthew Fox and John Goodman out of a magazine, attach them to sticks, have the child occasionally wave those in front of you for 4 or 5 seconds.

6. Repeat step 4 for at least an hour and half.

You can thank me for saving you some of your time at least later.

A Good Week Ahead

Loads of fun going on at our house this weekend, Bella got all better from her cold/fever thing, and was such a sweet little girl, that she decided to share it with her mommy, so Michele was sick all weekend. Fun times all around.

Bella and I took a road trip to exotic Sandwich, IL, with Grandma P (while Bella's mom stayed home and rested) to visit my Grandpa and Grandma, and so Bella could hang out with her cousins Jenna and Megan. It was a good time, Bella found a new love of both Cheese Nips and grapes, though luckily not in the same bite. She also got to climb around like a maniac in one of the McDonald's indoor playground things, and since she's not a fan of slides right now, she was stuck in a bubble about 15 feet above the ground for a while there.

I'm very excited about the week ahead, this is the week where I get to see Sigur Ros on Wednesday and My Bloody Valentine on Saturday. I'm pretty much as excited as can be for the Sigur Ros show, I'm already expecting this to be the best show of the year for me. You should definitely check out their new cd, which has a super long Icelandic title that I won't try writing, it is incredible as always.

I pretty much have to apologize in advance to my friends Brian and Lynn, who will be at the show with me. I can pretty much guarantee that at some point during the show, they can turn and look at me and will see me making the same face Nelson made when he was seeing Andy Williams on the Simpsons. They'll understand.

Classes are going well, I'll be building what is called a crystal radio soon in once class, which is basically a super simple radio that works without any power applied. Should be a good semester ahead.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

One for Grandma P

Had to show off Bella's new shirt, she was running around telling people about it at daycare yesterday...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Our Sick Girl

We had loads and loads of fun this weekend... Unfortunately, Bella caught some flu or cold type bug on Thursday, and has been a pretty miserable little girl since then. She had a pretty bad fever Saturday and Sunday, so we also unfortunately had to miss out on the Terrible Twos show on Saturday.

We probably may not have gone to the show anyways, we somehow ended up getting a major downpour for pretty much a day and a half around our area. I've heard we got somewhere around 6 inches of rain during the storm system, so my lawn is finally much happier than it has been. We obviously didn't have it as bad as Texas did, but we definitely had some closed roads and soaked basements around us this weekend, so I guess Bella picked a good time to be a sick girl.

Bella and Mommy are still at home trying to get all better so she can go back to school and see all of her buddies (and yes, her boyfriends) again. The funniest part of this whole experience pretty much shocked us though. We've had to pump Bella with ibuprofin and tylenol around the clock to get her temp down, but somehow by Sunday, when we would try to give her more medicine, she would say "Mommy I'm fine!" We have no idea where that came from. She even said that today when Michele called into daycare to tell them she wouldn't be there again.

That kid is too damn smart...

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


I'd like to introduce you all to: THE SUPERCURL!

As any of you who have seen Bella in, oh, the past year at least know, Bella has some pretty curly hair (thanks Grandma P). However, there is one lock of hair right in the center of her forehead that is only known as THE SUPERCURL.

We have no idea how this string of hair manages to be the curliest strand of hair on planet Earth, but it just is, and we must accept it and realize the power of THE SUPERCURL.

That is all.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

My Month of Misery Begins

I'm going to apologize in advance to everyone out there, since I"ll pretty much be incommunicado for the next month and a half or so at the least. I've just started a new semester at school, and in an effort to more or less sprint to an earlier finish to my Associates, I'm taking three classes this semester, so my Monday through Thursday nights are booked, as are my Saturday afternoons. Good times.

Add on top of that that we're doing some sort of super work flow improvement thing in my department at work that may end up meaning even more time spent for me at work somehow, even though I've already got all the class time, and ignoring the few hours in the week I get to spend with my little girl.

I've at least got some big shows coming up soon that I'm really anticipating that should make it all worthwhile. We'll be going to see the Terrible Twos once again this Saturday at Schubas, and we have very high expectations for that one. Bella loves their newest cd that came out last month, and she's already got most of the songs memorized, so that will be fun to see her enjoying that again.

A week after that I'll be going to see My Bloody Valentine at the Aragon. MBV are basically a band that released an album in 1991 called Loveless that changed the sound of modern rock at the time, and it took most bands a good 15 years to catch up to what they were doing. Sadly, they haven't released an album since then, and are finally touring this year after a 15 year absence from the road. Should be a pretty amazing show.

But most important to me is the band I'd probably say is my 4th favorite band in the world, Sigur Ros, who I'll be seeing at the Chicago Theater in about two weeks. Sigur Ros's shows are incomparable, there's no band in the world that is anything like them. The last show I saw them do at the Chicago Theater (back when Michele was pregnant with Bella and it was around the time doctors say the baby can hear in the womb) was one of the 5 greatest concerts I have ever seen, and you know that is saying alot. Their new release from this year is another great one, and it'll fit in perfectly with their previous material, so it should be an amazing night.

So I'll post when I can in the coming weeks, but expect me to be M.I.A. otherwise...

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Grandma's 60th Birthday Celebration - Second Half

On Saturday, we finished off the second half of Grandma P's 60th birthday festivities at our house. Grandpa and Grandma G were in town visiting that day, so we all had a BBQ in the back yard, and celebrated with some birthday cake. Of course the choice for the birthday cake decoration was pretty easy, as you can see...

Bella had fun as always, enjoying being a ham and showing off for everybody. She especially loved the blue icing from the birthday cake and the result of having it.

Happy birthday Grandma!