Saturday, March 24, 2007

An Evening With Evanescence

Evanescence (noun): The event of fading and gradually vanishing from sight

This is cool... my second concert in a month. I don't remember the last time I attended two concerts in less than 30 days.

Last night, Wonderful Wife and I spent the evening packed like sardines on the floor of a general admission concert, banging our heads, pumping our fists and screaming our voices out of existence. Evanescence who we went to see, was joined by Finger Eleven and Chevelle. Like our last concert, I was once again very impressed by the opening acts.

I've heard a couple of Finger Eleven songs on the radio (by the way, I love their new song "Paralyzer") but hadn't heard much of their music and couldn't call myself a fan. By the end of their set though, I was a fan. Scott Anderson has some real skill as a vocalist. He didn't rely on screaming, he was dead on-key, he used a wide range, including falsetto, and he popped in and out of falsetto flawlessly.

Rick Jackett was an animal on guitar; he was flinging his axes around like rag dolls, and never missed a beat. He threw his guitar strap on and off of his shoulder more than a two dollar hooker throws her bra strap on and off of her shoulder, played the guitar upside-down, behind his back and any other way you could imagine. During one of his songs, he held the guitar vertically with his left hand playing a chord, and when it was time to change chords, he'd toss the guitar up and catch it with his fingers in the perfect position for the next chord. That was some impressive shit.

At the end of the set, Rich Beddoe tossed his drum sticks to the crowd and I caught one... me and several other people. In short order, it was down to one other guy and me with our hands on the stick. The guy asked me to please let go, and I suggested that we play Rock-Paper-Scissors for it. He chuckled and immediately agreed. We agreed to do one shot, counting 1-2-3 go. We started counting 1... 2... and on three the guy threw out scissors. The guy thought I won, but before it even hit me that he thought he lost, I blurted out "Dude, we were supposed to do 1-2-3 go." We did a second round and he won. I lost the stick, but got a great memory out of it. We chatted for a bit afterward and were soon separated by the crowd. We pressed further to the front of the floor. By the way, when Finger Eleven was playing, there was a lot of room on the floor. Heck, there was even room to dance... or to slowly work your way to the front, which is what the wife and I did.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention the bass drum... You know how a lot of bands have their logo or something like that on the skin of the bass drum? Well, Finger Eleven had a picture of Britney Spears with her head half-shaved! Too fuckin' funny!

Chevelle was up second, and when they came on stage, the crowd push kicked in and we were packed in tight. Despite being packed in tight though, there were still idiots who tried to cut by us or people who thought they needed more personal space than everyone else on the floor.

There was one kid (later dubbed X-Box boy) who felt the need to push forward using his elbows, and one was pressed tightly in my back. I figured that my push-back would give him the idea that I wasn't going to yield but it didn't, so I had to resort to being Alpha Male. I turned around and yelled "Dude, get your fucking elbow out of my back now!" He looked a little hurt and angry but backed down.

Chevelle put on a good performance. I knew a lot of their songs, but didn't realize up-front how familiar I am with their music. They struck me as a next-gen Nirvana -- a three-piece, bare-bones, raw band; but there were a few differences. Nirvana is one of my favorite bands ever... a pivotal band in the history of music, and a band that appeals to my soul. Chevelle seems a little more image-conscious and more likely to be influenced by other bands, rather than being a source of inspiration for future musicians. I liked Chevelle, but they're average.

After Chevelle finished, the crowd loosened a bit, giving us a little breathing room... but not much. We started chatting to some of the folks next to us. One couple came from Des Moines and the woman said it was her first-ever concert, and that she was 32. She was trying to use that as her excuse to get to the front. I stopped her by saying "Hey, if you're this close at your first concert, you're doing pretty good. Be content." There was a couple of teenie-bopper girls who tried to cut by us and I stopped them cold. They tried saying that they had friends in the middle, so I said "Great, if they give me a wave, I'll let you by." They never got the wave, and they never got past me.

One guy and his girlfriend (or wife) was from my hometown. The guy is the one who labeled the aforementioned X-Box boy. He took one look at the as-yet-unnamed fish out of water, and said "This poser should have bought an X-Box and stayed at home." When Evanescence came on, X-Box boy once again pulled out his elbows and tried to push his way forward, and this time his elbows were pushing on the back of the guy from my hometown. So that guy did the same thing I did... he turned around and yelled at X-Box boy "Dude, get your fucking elbows out of my back!" X-Box boy looked like he might throw down with the guy from my hometown, but wisely backed off. The poser had pissed off enough people that if he would have swung at anyone, throngs of people would have jumped in and stomped him like an oak barrel full of grapes.

What can I say about Evanescence? They were everything I expected and more. I got their "Anywhere But Home" live CD a while back; it was okay, but I wasn't convinced that it was their best performance. Fortunately I was right. Their live performance last night far surpassed their recorded performance. My wife and I were entranced by Amy Lee's vocals, and the band does an incredible job of enhancing her already tremendous pipes. I was a big Evanescence fan before the concert, but their live concert... I just can't say enough.

At the end of the concert, karma was kind to me for letting go of the drum stick. I ended up with one of Terry Balsamo's guitar picks. It's pretty cool. It's got the Evanescence logo on one side, and Terry's name on the other. When we left the concert we were tired but amped, and our voices were gravelly from screaming, but we had to talk about the experience. Overall one of the coolest concerts of my life.

Correction: Chevelle had the drum with Britney's picture on it; Finger Eleven had their band's logo on the drum skin.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Reclaiming My Manhood

Last weekend my wife took the girls to get their hair cut and styled, and I ended up accompanying them. I went with them because I needed the oil changed in my truck and didn't feel like waiting at Tires Plus for several hours, and because I wanted to spend the extra time with the family.

I understand that women getting their hair cut and styled is a big thing, and that they can spend hours searching for the next perfect coiffe, chatting excitedly with the hair stylist and playing with the new style after returning home. I understand it, but I can't relate. I'm a wash-n-go kind of guy. I don't have bad hair days; I usually decide to cut my hair on a whim; and I don't decide whether to radically change styles until I'm in the chair... and my "radical change" only entails cutting my hair short if it started out long. I've got two basic hair styles... low-maintenance and maintenance-free.

Despite all of this, I went to the salon with my ladies, and before I knew it, I was swept up in the moment and got a trim myself. In my defense though, it was only a trim and it was done on a whim. I've got to say though, sitting there with my ladies I almost felt metrosexual. It was amusing and fun, but strangely emasculating. I guess it's more accurate to say that it got me in touch with my feminine side, but not enough for a lifestyle change.

I felt odd for the next couple of days, but I finally reclaimed my manhood this morning. My wife's car battery died, and I came to the rescue with a jump-start.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Happy Birthday Osama bin Laden

Dear Osama,

My fellow countreymen and I were recently stunned to discover that yesterday was your birthday. We were a little disappointed that you didn't invite us to your party, but understand your decision considering the strain our relationship has suffered over the last decade or so.

Despite our differences, our soldiers in Afghanistan have expressed interest in delivering you a small payload gift in honor of your 50th birthday. All you need to do is let us know where you'll be and what time you'd like us to drop it off, and we'll do the rest.

Let us help you celebrate your 50th birthday with a bang.



Saturday, March 3, 2007

Back to (Nickel)Back

Just about this time last year, the wife and I saw Nickelback in concert. On Thursday, they came back around and we seized the opportunity to see them again. It was the same tour, so they did a lot of the same songs, but it didn't seem like a repeat of the last time we saw Nickelback. In fact, this concert presented a lot of firsts for me. This is the first time that my back-to-back concerts were seeing the same band. (Yes, my last concert was a little over a year ago. Okay, not exactly. A couple of months later we saw Saving Jane, but it was such a small venue and the crowd was so small that it was tough to call it a concert.) It's also the first time that I've seen a band twice during the same tour, and it's the first time I've taken the kids to a big concert. (The Mrs. and I took them to Saving Jane, but like I said before, that doesn't really count.)

It was definitely the first time I was eager to see all of the bands. Breaking Benjamin and Three Days Grace were the opening acts. I don't own any of their stuff yet, but I've heard them on the radio and liked what I had heard. Breaking Benjamin was almost exactly what I expected. They were young and the sound wasn't too hot, but this was more because of their equipment than because of their talent. The sound was a little hollow and muffled, but the band was tight and clearly having fun up there. Three Days Grace really impressed me. They were technically an opening act, but they performed as if they were the feature. The sound was good, the crowd was involved and the band did a great job of interacting with the fans. But back to the firsts...

As I mentioned, this was the first time that we had taken the kids to a big concert. We knew that we could get separated and made contingency plans early on. But I didn't quite expect how early we'd go our different ways. The concert was general admission, and the older kid said she wanted to get up to the stage. Having done this once or twice before, I knew that it would be tough and spelled it out to her... "...we might not make it all the way up front, but this is our best chance..." "... you won't be able to see..." "... once we're in, we stay there or lose our spot..." "... it'll be hot and cramped..." She was up for it, and she was a trooper.

During Breaking Benjamin's set, we started our march to the stage and made it about two thirds of the way, at which point it got too packed to make any more headway. Part of the blockage was a guy in a wheelchair and a couple of his friends. It was tough for someone on their feet to get any closer to the stage. Imaging how difficult it was for a guy in a wheelchair. They were about the same age as me, and we chatted after Breaking Benjamin was done. During the set change, people left the floor to get beer, and people tried rushing the stage, but like I said, we were sardines. And hey, if I can't get my kid any closer to the stage, then there's no way in hell that I'm letting a giggly little group of bitch-ass teenie-bopper girls pass me. I heard them coming from behind, and told my daughter not to let them by. They then tried budging through the other side of me. I just held my elbow out and bellowed "Hey! I don't fucking THINK so!!" They retreated, and that was the last I saw of them. Mr. wheelchair and his buddies thought that was pretty cool.

Shortly after Three Days Grace came on, Daughter started overheating and getting a little claustrophobic, so we left the floor. By this time of course, all of the seats were taken, and we were left to wander around the arena temporarily taking seats as the opportunity arose. We went back to the floor when Nickelback came on, but stayed in the back, where the kid could see and had a little elbow room. She watched intently for the first couple of songs but tired quickly. This was my cue to find a seat -- even a shitty one. We ended up finding Sexy Wife and the little 'un in the nosebleed section, slightly behind stage left. Being slightly behind stage, we didn't see the band's faces or the bling on the stage, and the music was slightly less loud because the speakers were pointed toward the audience, but the whole family was back together. The kids got to sit, while Wifey-poo and I stood immediately behind them. All was good... the kids got to sit and enjoy the show, and we got a unique view... we weren't part of the sardine crowd, we saw things from the band's vantage point. We saw the mosh pits on the floor, the fans cheering the band on... It was kind of crazy.

Though Nickelback's set was similar to what we heard last time, the experience was completely different. Because we took the kids, our attention was a little divided but they had fun, and I'm proud that we were able to give our kids their first concert experience.

Next up, we will be seeing Evanescence later this month. Another first... the first time I've attended two major concerts in such rapid succession.