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Sick But Beautiful: A band or the story of my life.

January 19, 2010 By: nooccar Category: Reviews, School

Back when I was in high school one of the cool things to do junior and senior year (read: after I got a car) was to hit local shows. I knew several guys in bands back then, and Friday night’s usually found us at the Lithuanian Country Club. What it really was was a small track of land off a windy road near a highway owned by some Lithuanian club (think Elk’s Club but scarier) of old guys. They never used it at night and would rent the basement and barn out for shows. So come the weekend we’d find ourselves in the smoky basement or out in the chilly barn (where there was more room for more talented acts.. & bigger audiences).

After two years of this and bands coming and going, I went off to Penn State and began following bands like Velveeta and Jealous Sun (my first website I ever developed was for this band, now way defunct. Look for Jeff VanFossen, the lead singer, online). More smoky bars (no more basements for me!) and good, raw music. Then I grew up. I moved to Arizona and Dan and I hit the local scene. At first, it was supposedly all about Scottsdale (sorry! Don’t sue us. We weren’t locals then.) We saw Rock Lobster, and they were cool. Then we saw Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers, and I was really confused because wasn’t that a Refreshments song they were playing, and then I finally got to the point where it didn’t matter; Roger rocks, and that’s it.

But then it was less and less about the shows and more about the music. We got old. Fridays and Saturdays were about sleeping after 4am mornings all week, and we had kids. Kids who didn’t understand that 4am on Saturday or Sunday was still 4am!

Now, it’s 2010. I am going to be 36 this year, and a few months ago I had the opportunity to see Roger Clyne & the Peacemakers of the first time in a few years. I almost blew it off, but something dragged me out there. I took my camera and shot the whole show, and I loved it. Something about being up there, the music, the people, everything.

When one of my students asked me to come out to his show, I actually didn’t give a lame ass answer of NO. I considered it. This was a cool guy who I knew has so much potential, so I checked when, I checked my calendar, I checked who could go with me, and I paid for the tickets. I asked if I could bring my camera, and I eagerly agreed to shoot the show. The band is young and needs promo pics and a demo, so I was willing to help out (didn’t even consider asking for money, as I know they don’t have any… hell, maybe they’ll make it big and pay me in 10 years).

Friend backed out but I was still on for the show. It was a strip mall store front. Looked like the place, called The Clubhouse, in Tempe bought a few stores and broke down the walls between them and then painted the front glass black. Not too much to look at, but for $10 and five bands, I was there to support. In line, I felt like a sore thumb. I could tell who was a parent pretending to not know the dark dressed emo/skater/thrasher/whathaveyou kid nearby. The kids behind me were pulling half smoked cigarettes out of an ashtray and burning the butt ends to get rid of germs before smoking them. (Was I ever that lame in highschool?)

I got in as the band took the stage. Sick But Beautiful is the name Alex picked for the band, and he told me he played guitar and back up singer. It was more like screamer, but it wasn’t that Screamo crap I hear about. This was more like way edgier Linkin Park with Shinoda and Bennington upfront. I was surprised. Not because I didn’t have faith in Alex, but because I was actually enjoying the music. This was one of their first gigs and they went on first of the night, so they only had about four songs. I shot straight through their set through some terrible lighting (had to punch down the iso to 3200 just to get some shots), and I even leaned against the stage so the moshers who kept running into my back wouldn’t jar my shots.

After the show, I hung around and pretended to care about the next band. They were in the same vein but I didn’t have anything invested in them, so I snuck out. Then I remembered who I was. I called the wife from the car to see if the kid was asleep, and while I did that, club security knocked on my window to make sure I wasn’t some kid doing drugs between sets in the parking lot. Ah, how fun it was to drive back to adulthood.

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U2 360 Tour rocked our socks, traffic blew

October 23, 2009 By: nooccar Category: Leisure, Reviews

Monday I got a text from a friend Tuesday: “Can you get to Glendale tonight?”. Such an odd text, but this is me and of course I wrote back. “Sure, why?” Turns out a colleague had two tickets to see the U2 360tour with the Black Eyed Peas as the opening act. The wife loves BEP and I dig U2 and respect Fergie’s music and Will.i.am’s politics, so I called her up. On a whim, she agreed.

I bought the tickets for half price, and I was pretty stoked because back in the day I followed U2 beginning with The Joshua Tree before following them on and off for a decade before Zooropa, which came out at midnight where we all stood in line outside the closed record store (remember them?) to get the disc. Saw that show in Pittsburgh probably 15 years ago now, and even though I don’t listen to them daily, you can’t deny that Bono is one of the most talented male vocalists alive today.

The wife thinks Fergie’s the bees knees so she was ready to roll. I picked up the tickets, and as soon as she got home, we dropped Claire off at a friend’s house for a sleepover and hit the highway. Our friend, Liza, said the highway through town was slow so we took the Loop 101 around downtown Phoenix. The difference (for those of you who don’t know the city) is 34 miles through the city or 43 around it to the venue. We chose to go around. We left our neighborhood at 6:00pm for a 7 o’clock show. We got 10 miles into our journey and hit red brake lights, which we thought was just for rush hour or something but it wasn’t. Those lights didn’t stop for the next 30+ miles all the way to the stadium. It took two hours! We got there, parked like a mile away and was in the stadium by 8:00pm. The music was blaring and obviously the Black Eyed Peas were rocking it. Donna had to stop in the bathroom, so I stood and listened to a song before we ran to our seats while they were playing “Boom Boom Pow”. We were rocking out in our seats and they sounded great. After that they thanked U2 and moved into “I Gotta Feeling”, which I hadn’t heard until that day. I love the song now and was grooving and Donna was excited. After it was over, Will.i.am thanked the audience and left stage. WHAT?! We were flummoxed. I know we were an hour late but we didn’t realize we’d missed almost all of the set. They played 7+ songs before we got there, and we just looked at each other.

We shot some photos of the 40million dollar, infamous 360tour stage and waited for U2. Donna knew most of the old stuff, so she was cool with it. She shot several photos while waiting, since she brought her little camera. The rules said no “professional camera or lenses over 6 inches”. I measured my 28-135 and it was way too long, so I left it at home. I brought my 50mm, but I was worried about the whole “no professional cameras” and, by this point, I did NOT want to have to walk back to the car (felt like a mile away). So I left the camera under the car seat. Donna’s pictures turned out pretty well as did some videos she shot (especially the sound!). She shot this one of the whole band, and it’s one of the best she shot.

U2 360 degree tour

After U2 took the stage, after four songs, Liza, who was sitting in a different section, texted me the set list from the show before with a note, “looks like they’re playing the same songs”. She was right. By the end of the show, Bono had played all of the songs in the same order as the October 18, 2009 show. These included some old school faves like “With Or Without You”, “Sunday Bloody Sunday”, and “Where the Streets Have No Name”. They played some standards like “Mysterious Ways” and “Vertigo” and then some Horizon songs, intermixed with some newer, unrecorded songs.

We had a rocking time, and the drive home was only 45 minutes. Of course that was at 12:30am and believe me, my alarm went off way too early the next morning for work.


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