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Friday, July 29, 2011

Concert Foul

We have a relatively new column going at the Observer called Concert Foul. My first entry can be found here. First topic for me? The guy who loves to talk about equipment when a band plays.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

My first show

This week's edition was a ton of fun to put together. Cabe Booth's birthday party at the Kessler has reunions of bands who once ruled in Deep Ellum in the 90s: Chomsky, El Gato, and Bobgoblin. I interviewed members from all of the bands and got plenty of great stuff.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Unsolicited writing advice (review criticism edition)

Over the weekend, I reviewed two shows: A Perfect Circle (which can be found here) and Mission of Burma (which can be found here). As I started formulating in my mind what I wanted to say about the APC show, I was reminded of some good advice I was told a few years ago by a rock critic I respect: never forget what it felt like to be young and save all your money for a show and you came out of the show disappointed.

I'm very thankful that the shows I've covered have come with guest list privileges. Shows at big venues are not cheap and I've always taken that into consideration when I write my reviews. After what I witnessed on Saturday night, I've never come away from a show so incredibly disappointed.

But the key thing I suggest to anybody writing a review: don't write like you're a teenager who's let down by the show. Write in the voice of your own age, damnit.

With my reviews, I try to use as much tact as possible. Weigh the good and the bad and consider which one weighed more. But if people want your professional and informed opinion, don't sound like someone who just bought some lame pot, annoyed your girlfriend only goes to second base, and you're still pissed that your parents grounded you last month because of bad grades.

I know writing in a brutally honest way can get you traction with readers, but I've never been out for blood. I'm not a confrontational person unless I'm truly driven to that point. Furthermore, I try to not let whatever is going on in my personal life dictate how I feel when I'm at the show.

Every show I've covered for DC9 has been a show I've wanted to be at. Given how I have to rise early in the morning during the week, I take into careful consideration whenever I have to cover one that's during the week. I ask myself if it was worth staying up late for. So far, all of those shows have given me the answer of yes.

When you want to be at a show, it comes out in your writing. When you don't want to be there, it becomes painfully obvious right away. If you choose to sound like someone who wanted to do a lot of other things other than see that show, then it really comes out. Ultimately, it says to me, the reader, "Don't really listen to me because I didn't want to be there in the first place."

So I have to ask, if you didn't want to be there, then why should I read your review?

Friday, July 22, 2011

+/- on Google+

As a very satisfied Facebook user, I had reluctance to hop onto the Google+ train. Figuring it wouldn't hurt, I accepted the invitations sent to me by a few of my friends. Well, after a week of being on it, here's what I've found to be good as well as frustrating.

I know it's still in its testing phase. I get that. So far, the design is fantastic and I've found it very easy to navigate. But here's where things get a little bumpy.

One of the big draws of Facebook and Twitter was how friends who fled (or were never on) MySpace were on those sites. It's fun to connect to more people in one spot, for sure.

Maybe I'm to blame on this one, but all of my 90 friends on Google+ are also friends of mine on Facebook. I follow a couple of people I also follow on Twitter and more often than not, it's a lot of stuff I've already seen on their Twitter pages.

I like the idea of Sparks. I made all kinds of Sparks on my page, covering interests from Stephen King to vegan desserts. As nice as it is to have a Google RSS feed with a social network, I get turned off when I see a written version of the game Telephone.

In the case of my Stephen King Spark, I got to see a trail that first (accurately) reported how the TV/film adaptation of The Dark Tower had been halted after Universal backed out. Not too long after this announcement, other sites were claiming the whole adaptation had been killed (which is not true).

Knowing the nature of media where you don't want to be the last one to cover something, I'm gonna pass on reading my Sparks section until I can up with different, broader ideas.

Understand I'm not giving up on Google+. I merely find it very redundant in the face to Facebook.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

My first show

I enjoy doing these columns, but this week's edition is one I'm very proud of. A few weeks ago, I got the chance to talk to Roger Miller from Mission of Burma and this was the conversation.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Invisible Touch

A few weeks ago, while I watched a few Genesis videos circa the Phil Collins era, I started thinking about when I became a purist about a band's presentation. In watching videos like "Invisible Touch" and "In Too Deep," I can remember being young and not giving a rat's ass about how Collins never sang and drummed at the same time in the videos. And I didn't care that the band didn't have a full-time bassist. It was Genesis, man. They play good songs. That's all!

All of this purist stuff would come later. Mainly, in my post-pubescent repelling away from all things phony. (Keep in mind, this repelling continues to this day, just in more complicated ways beyond music.)

It would be years before I understood about the hazy world of legal stuff and how a band wishes to never "replace" a founding member, whether it was Creed or the Manic Street Preachers. I have reasons to care, but I can understand reasons to not care about this stuff. Can't I just like a band when they write a song I like and not give a flip about anything else?

When it comes to bands I've never really enjoyed (like Creed), it was fun to throw invisible darts at a band who's on the cover of Rolling Stone without a bassist. Even though they had a bassist who replaced their original (and remained with the band until the original lineup reunited a few years ago), not photographing the guy made the band look like even bigger tools.

Purity is not something that remains in youth. More often than not, like the Creed example, it's another complaint about a band you could endlessly complain about. I guess when it comes to bands I don't really complain about, like Genesis, it's OK.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

A Trick of the Tail

Lately, a large chunk of the music I've been listening to is from Genesis. And when I mean Genesis, I mean all three eras of the group: with Peter Gabriel, with Phil Collins, and with Ray Wilson.

Yet when it comes to fans of Genesis, I seem to only know two kinds of them: those who love the Gabriel era and those who love the Collins era. There's very little carryover between them. Seems you're not supposed to like both.

Well, I can't deny my early love for the Collins era with Invisible Touch. Yes, there is a nostalgic reason since that record was, along with the Cars' Heartbeat City and the Police's Synchronicity, my first introduction modern Top 40 rock music as a child. Listening to those records again, I think they still sound great, but I have a newer appreciation after knowing more about the people behind the music and the music itself.

With the records the group did with Peter Gabriel, I heard about heralded records like Selling England by the Pound, Foxtrot, and The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway. Whether it was a member of Phish or Mastodon, the prog era of Genesis was to rave about while the mainstream success was to be either made light of or not mentioned at all.

Frankly, I like it all. And that includes Calling All Stations, the one-off record with Ray Wilson on lead vocals and Nir Z on drums.

It's only really sunk in with me during the last year about how multi-faceted and inventive Phil Collins is as a drummer. Given how he drummed through most of the prog era and all of the pop era, his talents were always there. And the melodies were there too, whether it was Gabriel on lead or Collins on lead. Strange to say, but there was a logical progression, year-by-year from what they were to what they became.

Sure, the number of years spent listening to singles from Invisible Touch and We Can't Dance greatly out-way the number of times I've heard the title track from The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, but who knows, maybe that could change down the line.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

My first show

This week's edition is (roughly) a two-parter. First, it's Matt Barnhart. Next week, it's with somebody I had a wonderful time talking to and he's playing a show with Matt in a few weeks. The conversation we had last week turned into something more than merely talking about first show experiences. Definitely something I'm very proud of. Now to transcribe the whole thing . . .

Monday, July 11, 2011

Grandpa Grubbs

There's an ongoing joke in our house about a nickname that I can't seem to live down. Whenever I'm near my blue recliner, Matt calls me Grandpa Grubbs and asks what Grandpa Grubbs is about to do. Usually, Grandpa Grubbs gets a book to read and a blanket so Victory's always-shedding hair doesn't get everywhere.

This often results in a nap. Just like how a grandfather would be.

I take zero offense to this nickname. A mutual work friend brought it up last December as we decorated the Christmas tree. With Victory by my side and slippers on my feet, the only thing missing was a pipe and a hearing aide.

As much as I claim to be an old soul, I merely do this because of practical reasons more than anything else. Victory is a very clingy dog and tends to get antsy is she's gone too long without certain kinds of attention. Her lying in my lap usually calms her down. Plus my recliner is very comfortable to read in and I usually fall asleep in it after a while. (I should mention my grandfather had this recliner until he passed away.)

Lately, I've been trying to listen to records on the turntable and fall asleep. I had done this in college as a way to keep tumult in my life at bay. It's nice to drift to sleep hearing something like Sigur Ros and waking up to silence or more Sigur Ros. It's a peaceful feeling.

All I know is, I might act like grandpa for a couple hours a day, but the rest of the day is a delicate balancing act between a youthful attitude and having something of an adult life. And I'm happy with that.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

I'm ready to be new again

Yesterday was interesting. After waking up from a mid-afternoon nap, there was an e-mail from Pete asking if I'd like to cover the Taking Back Sunday show . . . in about two hours from then. Luckily, I had no plans and was happy to see it. Here's my review.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

My first show

A first for My First Show: I interviewed a female for this week's edition. I've known Trish for years and I was happy she shared a lot with me in the interview.