Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Brandi Carlile, Wellmont Theater

Brandi Carlile's tour came to the Wellmont Theater in Montclair, NJ this past Saturday and thankfully I was able to attend this one (after having tickets to a previous one that I had to miss).

Here is the set list for the concert:
  1. Oh Dear
  2. Looking Out
  3. Late Morning Lullaby
  4. Throw It All Away
  5. Dying Day
  6. I Will
  7. Caroline
  8. You Belong To Me (cover of a Patsy Cline song)
  9. The Times They Are a Changin' (I shouldn't have to tell you)
  10. Dreams
  11. Bend Before It Breaks
  12. Turpentine
  13. The Story
  14. Mad World (cover of a cover of a Tears For Fears song)
  15. Sounds of Silence (by the twins, Tim and Phil Hanseroth)
  16. Jackson (cover a Johnny Cash song)
  17. That Year
  18. Pride and Joy
A spirited cello intro signaled the start of the concert, and the entire band crowded around a microphone to sing Oh Dear with them all providing harmony to Brandi's soaring vocals with only a single ukulele providing accompaniment.

Dying Day is one of my favorite tracks off her newest album and was one of the most impressive of the concert as it was performed without any amplification. Brandi was able to fill the large theater with her voice without a microphone and it allowed the song to take a life of its own.

That Year gave me chills: the subject matter combined with the emotion that Brandi can bring to her singing is a powerful combination. It was made all the more powerful by the abrupt change from the energy that pervaded Jackson, the song that preceded it.

The concert was a good mix of full band and Brandi alone, electric and acoustic (and as mentioned above unamplified). Brandi is a rare talent that sounds as good, if not better, live than in the studio. If you have a chance to see her live, do it. I was happy I was able to introduce a friend to Brandi's music through this concert and she now has another fan. But I won't stop until every one is a fan... of course, that will make getting tickets to future concerts harder but that is a sacrifice I am willing to make.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Welcome back, of sorts

It is important to have the ability to laugh at yourself in order to survive this life. If you can't do that you will be miserable because the chances of having a fully charmed life without anything going wrong is practically nil.

In my life this ability is particularly useful as my life so often goes to shit. But luckily I can find humor in myself and my situation as I would if I were observing some movie covering the same events. I laugh at myself and the things I do not so much because they are funny "ha-ha" but because they are ludicrous. Luckily, this keeps me sane although it does little to keep me happy.

It seems to me the universe decides our life, we control only how we deal with it.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Poetry Night IV


A look, a smile, a laugh for me?
Is there more from you than I see?
Is there less right here than I hope?

Do I make all my feelings known?
Do you see everything I've shown?
Can I keep on playing the dope?

What here can I form with you?
Can we, from nothing, create anew?
Can these solutions be inferred?

Is there anything short of saying?
Can this price be worth the paying?
Can these questions ever be answered?

I wrote this one while back in college and the reasons behind this one I suspect are pretty obvious so it doesn't require too much explanation. There has been a lot of questions on my mind lately (mostly unrelated to ones in poem but questions are questions) so I thought of this poem and I figured I'd post it.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Until Next Time

Until next time
never shall I see
that laughing face
I'll survive I'm sure
lesser than I should
Never shall I see
each beautiful inch
xanthous hair and royal eyes
that hypnotize my mind
The separation shall be pain
I'll survive I'm sure
miserable though I may be
eagerly awaiting you.

This is a poem I started a long time ago and finally finished just yesterday. It an acrostic poem (where the first letter, in this case, of each line spells out a word/phrase/whatever). I changed it up so that the first line of the poem is the phrase spelled out by the acrostic, what I am dubbing a perpendicular acrostic.

The acrostic phrase is my favorite way to end a letter and so with it comes a feeling of being apart waiting for the next conversation/meeting. And the poem is a natural extension of that.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Quick Hits III

As annoying as someone talking on their cell phone while in the bathroom stall, it is twice as bad to text or email someone. At least in the case of the cell call you can flush so that the person on the line realizes that they are conversing with someone taking a dump. But with the text/email case there is nothing you can do listen to the clickety-clack of the keys. There is no interference you can run-- you are as helpless as someone with their pants around their ankles should be.

To the people that think they must communicate with everyone every second of the day, you're not that important. The world will survive without hearing your opinions during your afternoon constitutional. When you are defecating, that is time to take just for yourself. No one wants to share that moment with you. So just relax... it will go quicker that way.

I know people get excited when your sports team wins, but stop sharing the results in Twitter and Facebook statuses (or even worse the play by play). Not all of us watch the games live and don't want the know the results. Some people aren't home when the games are on and others like to watch them delayed to skip the stupid commercials. How about a spoiler tag? I guess those are just another couple of websites to add to the "do not check" list until the game is watched.

While out a coffee shop with a friend, we were talking about family. They mentioned they had two relatives named John who were very tall. I, making a bad joke, asked if they were called "Little John".

Not more than a couple of minutes later, a group of people who had sat down and shared our table got a few desserts delivered. Jokingly, they told us not to try and take any. One of them said, "I will protect them like Little John on the bridge" and mimed holding a quarterstaff.

My friend and I laughed heartily not so much at the joke but at the weirdly coincidental mentions of Little John. I haven't made or heard a reference to anything Sherwood Forest related in years so the juxtaposition was eerie. Robin Hood and his Merry Men must be cool again (or maybe it is just the attitude that stealing from the rich and giving to the poor is popular in this economic climate).

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

AGT Finals

A quick recap of the finals since I've already spent too much time on watching this stupid show, I don't want to spend too much more time on it.
  • Voices of Glory: They sang in front of a horrible musical arrangement of the Greatest Love of All but they themselves did well, although it was a bit low for the singers. The harmonies were done well and the lead kid was fairly strong but you can hear she is still a kid. One of the better performances of the night.
  • Hairo Torres: Pretty good performance but a bit uneven and manic in places. Also was a little heavy on the overacting. There were some impressive dance moves but others look like they went wrong.
  • Lawrence Beaman: He ended up doing Barry White (I'm sure the producers pushed him into that one) and does a decent imitation. But of course it comes off as a knock off. Should have tried something a bit more original.
  • Barbara Padilla: She sang O Mio Bambino Caro. It was better than he Ave Maria last week. I've heard better versions of the song but it still was very good. It was a strong performance that should win the title.
  • Fab Five: They didn't belong in the finals and even though their performance was good for them it doesn't hold a candle to most of the others. All the girls are decent tappers but are very limited in their range. No chance.
  • The Texas Tenors: It totally seemed like a parody with the ridiculous sets, even more ridiculous suits (and cowboy hats), and melodramatic singing. They easily could be an SNL skit with little change. Their voices don't blend very well at all. The cheese from the whole performance had my lactose intolerance acting up.
  • Drew Stevyns: He butchers another classic song though not quite as badly as last week. He looks scared on stage and doesn't have the pipes to carry the song. Every performance of his is bland and forgettable.
  • Grandma Lee: She is a nice lady, but ignoring the kids/elderly/pets effect of the show, she doesn't stand a chance. She is funny but a lot of the punchlines can be seen coming from a long way off. It is inspirational to see someone chasing their dream regardless of their age though but not enough for her to get the votes to win.
  • Kevin Skinner: I liked him a lot but this was his worst performance. He was best when he sang small emotional songs. He was overpowered by the band accompanying him and this performance lacked the pathos of earlier ones. He doesn't have the voice to carry that song off and was all over the place. He should have went with a song similar to his audition piece.
  • Recycled Percussion: Another group that doesn't belong in the final and just did the same old thing they've done but they added water... wow, that is so original. No chance.
Obviously the judges were ordered to praise all the groups regardless of their performance because it is the finals and the show would look stupid if bad acts made the finals. It was obvious and pathetic because a number of the acts deserved some bringing down.

Barbara Padilla should win and she will. No one was near her level. If anyone else wins it Kanye better get his ass on stage and tell everyone that Barbara had the best performance ever.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Back with Talent

I haven't written in a while, but I break my silence now. For what deep and meaningful calling has brought me back-- why America's Got Talent of course.

It gets worse and worse every year yet I continue to watch and hate every minute of it. Apparently the Bush years did more damage to country than I thought because we are pretty much devoid of talent (or at least in the thousands and thousands of people that made it onto this show).

Tonight was the first semifinal and it was ugly.
  • Recycled Percussion: The judges keep calling them original but are a low budget rip off of Stomp et al. Three guys bang on various stuff and sadly most of the time they were drum sets and not seemingly recycled in any way. Sure, they have energy but that is about it.
  • Lawrence Beaman: Very good singer and soulful but hammed it up a bit tonight. Still one of the best of the night. Wants to do a gospel version of the Lord's Prayer-- Theology aside it could actually be good*.
  • Erik and Rickie: Two kid ballroom dancers. They are definitely good for their age but really not that good overall. Weirdly, they danced ballroom to Michael Jackson's Black or White. Piers called them on it as he should have because it was blatant pandering to the audience which the AGT performers do better than anyone (not sure if it is the acts or the producers of the shows but it is most likely the latter). They never should have made it past the first round but the judges thought they were cute and great**.
  • Jeffrey Ou: He is a pianist and played the last minute or two of Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No 6, or at least that is what he said. Piers rightfully called him to task and asked him if he hit a note right. He claims they were all right. I assure you they were not-- even without the missed notes (or which there were a great many) the performance was muddy and cheesy (they hooked the lights to the piano so he could control them-- good choice producers, not only was the playing bad but you gave people seizures). It was very bad, made even more so after I listened to a good recording of the piece.
  • Hairo Torres: A dancer with a pretty unique style. Damn flexible and does some interesting moves. One of the better performances of the night, although that by itself isn't saying much. He should move on.
  • The EriAm Sisters: Like most of the acts on this show, they are decent and could perform admirably in many a state fair and the like. Rough, rough beginning on the song thought they did get better and by the end were good. Even at their best there is trouble on the harmonies. The youngest sister is by far the best and could be very good in a few years. They sing a schlocky inspirational song (probably chosen by the producers) and that should inspire the people to vote.
  • Mario and Jenny: WTF? Wall juggling, tap dancing, drumming, pole dancing, jump roping, balancing a fire drum on his chin. Most of it done middling at best. All the while in weird S&M outfits. How about you pick one talent and get good at it rather than being unentertaining in a myriad ways. Awful.
  • Drew Stevyns: Absolutely butchers the Wham! song Careless Whispers. He "makes it his own" (god, I hate that phrases) by dropping it about an octave and makes it edgy. He didn't exactly sing in the same key he ways playing. Go be emo somewhere else.
  • The Footwork Kings: They battled it out with Mario and Jenny for worst of the night, but unfortunately couldn't win that battle either. Ridiculous premise-- Power Rangers-- combined with cheesy battle scenes and the same footwork moves they have done every time. I've never been a fan and tonight they embarrassed themselves although I don't think they hit the career suicide levels that Piers claims.
  • Barbara Padilla: She sings Bach/Gounod's Ave Maria and does it well. She has some trouble on the lower notes and the high notes are a bit shrill. She also uses super vibrato which irritates me to no end (and makes her tongue dance around her mouth like it is a fish out of water). Yes, she has a great story and she is a very good singer but I am pretty sure all the judges were orgasming during the performance. The producers are really trying to sell her. God was called into play, people were bowing, and talk of a superstar born. She deserves to move on to the finals as the best of the night but the idol worship going on here is nauseating.
* - Note to future contestants: if you want to advance in this competition and don't have the requisite talent (or even if you do) sing really cheesy patriotic or inspirational/god worshiping songs.
** - Additional note to future contestants: if you want to advance in this competition and don't have the requisite talent (or even if you do) either be a kid, an old person, or an animal. Just like it used to be on America's Funniest Home Videos.