Thursday, October 1, 2009

Review: U2/Muse in DC - 9/29

On Tuessday September 29th I fulfilled a lifelong dream of mine to see U2 in concert. Muse was the opening act. I am not a huge U2 fan. I only own their 1980-90 greatest hits album. It has been VERY recently that I've gotten down which one is Adam Clayton and which one is Larry Mullen. I even skip their songs a lot when they come on the radio or my shuffled playlist.

I have been trying to see them for 10 years though. I have always tried to avoid spending the money it would cost to see them. I didn't want to join the fanclub to get in on the presale and I wouldn't fork it over on eBay. This time though I sucked it up and pulled the trigger. $50 for the fanclub membership, $95 face value of ticket, $30 in other fees added to the ticket, gas to the show, etc...I estimate the evening cost me $200. I went by myself.

It was worth every penny. The experience is something I will never forget because U2 has such mystique. These 4 guys started a band when they were in high school and here we are....almost 35 years later still seeing those same 4 guys play.

The concert itself was about what I expected. I try not to hype stuff up too much because...I'll be disappointed.

The stage setup is getting a lot of press because it is insane. Ridiculously insane
Seeing that in person is pretty incredible. Humbling really. I knew where a lot of my $200 had gone.

When the lights went out the place got up and cheered but it wasn't nearly as deafening as I expected and when U2 hit the stage it was one of the most anticlimactic moments of any concert I'd been to. I don't know what I was expecting and the lame DC crowd wasn't helping. Seriously. 80,000 people never sounded so underwhelming.

The setlist was fine. I actually REALLY enjoyed their newer stuff. They seemed to enjoy playing it too. "Breathe" and "I'll Go Crazy" especially. Though when the opening riff to "Mysterious Ways" rang out it was exhilarating. They played a lot of the oldies too. "One" was especially well received. Edge and Bono played an acoustic version of "Stuck In a Moment" that really was moving (especially Edge's falsetto part at the end). Those guys have a really beautiful friendship. Before "Sunday Bloody Sunday" they showed a video that talked about Iran and Democracy there. It really hit me when they would sing "How long must we sing this song? How loooong?" and realizing they have been singing it for 25 years and will perhaps ALWAY have to sing it. Moving

The sound in the venue was alright. I haven't been to a stadium show since my parents took me to see the Rolling Stones in '94 so I'm kinda of used to being beaten down by the sound at clubs and arenas. Bono's voice sounded much better than I expected and Edge and Larry harmonize very well (I didn't even know the drummer sang!). It was kind of hard to understand anything that was plainspoken though. Oh well.

The stage was beautiful to look at but felt underutilized. Seeing what Muse did with the lights and video screen I really thought U2 would take it to the next level but they didn't. The whole "360" aspect was not taken advantage of. They barely played to their back side and the really didn't use the outer ring of the stage much at all.

The Crowd....I'll just say this. Bono is an activist and he makes as much news for DATA, the One Campaign, and Red as he does with his music. Hell, he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize wasn't he? He talks about this stuff. He's ALWAYS talked about this stuff. Here he is 20 years ago (go to 3:40 to hear him slay the crowd).

So I was shocked when in the middle of talking about how much the US has done to help millions of people with AIDS in Africa I heard this shouted from behind me: "Stop with the politics!! Sing a song!!" Really? You thought BONO wasn't going to mention anything about social issues? It's BONO! I was seriously shocked. He was apolitical. He thanked George W Bush & dedicated a song to Ted Kennedy. Blew my mind. What were they expecting?

Opening Act: Muse was pretty good but for some reason they grated on me and the more I think about their performance the less I like it. It was completely emotionless and heartless. I loved every song they did was almost too perfect. Like robots or something. The singer really loved the sound of his singing voice and the bass player left no space between his notes. It reminded me of when I saw Journey a few years back. I go "Yeah, I recognize this song!" and then would get tired of it very quickly. The drummer was incredible though. Such a natural sense of rythym. Kept the beat, kept it interesting, and never got excessive. Oh well, I will admit when it comes to opening in stadiums for the world's biggest band they are actually a great choice. I just thought they had no heart or meaning.

Verdict: Everyone should see U2 once in their life. I might see them again. I really wish I had another show of theirs to compare it to but I don't (especially since they played 30 miles from my house in '97 with openers rage against the machine). It definitely sparked an intense interest in them since then for me. I had a great time and I think everyone with an open mind would too. Though I do wonder how much this would have cost without the gigantic glowing space crab that cost a reported $40 million to build.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Michael Costa Photography: Plug My Friends #2

Michael Costa is not only one of my best friends and the most consistent commenters on this blog: He's also a douchebag. And a photographer.

Here's a picture he took of the group MUTEMATH

Costa and I were college roomates and he would often bug me to help him make a fool of myself for his photo projects and this led to him taking pictures of me pretending not to notice his camera over the past few years. Click on pictures to view larger version.

Here are a bunch of random pictures used without permission.

He is available for gigs in the Charleston, SC area. Contact him at

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Danielson: Guilty Pleasure #2

Brandon Ebel, the president of Tooth & Nail (Danielson's first label) said:

"We received their cassette tape demo in the mail one day and took a listen. At first we thought it was bad, then we thought it was a joke, but the more we listened to it we realized it was brilliant"

That about sums it up for me. I was in the car of a friend of a friend when I first heard this.

I thought it was laughably stupid. BUT it would not get out of my head. I couldn't stop thinking about it and eventually downloaded some stuff and listened to it because it was quirky.

I now love Danielson in a way that is completely not ironic. I genuinely think he's a genius. His compositions move me and his lyrics touch me. I now have their entire catalogue.

I think the reason they are a "guilty pleasure" is because I would never sit someone down and say "listen to this" 'cause almost no one likes them immediately. They require repeat listens and focus. You also need to get past Daniel Smith's high pitched squeal...

What really makes me love Danielson in all of their incarnations (Danielson Famile, Danielson Family, Tri-Danielson, Danielson Starship, Brother Danielson, and Danielson) is this: Uncompromising Artistic Integrity. Have you ever heard a musical genius convey his vision without a hint of compromise? It's invigorating.

They are so interesting they even had a documentary made about them. If you are not disgusted by the singing voice they will probably grow on you. Also, if you are familiar with Sufjan Stevens, he got his start with this group and most of the band plays on his Illinois album.

***UPDATED 4/29/09!***
I had to include this. Terrible dancing. Unnecessary lipsynching. Danielson's wife Elin saying "Ve'll dance vit you" in her Eastern European accent. The awesomely awkward zoomin on the keyboard player Chris. The freakishly long close up of the big dude dancing. The song is one of my favs though....

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Dodge Caliber: Things I Hate #1

The other weekend I flew to the midwest to attend the wedding of a friend.  The flight was great.  The wedding was great.  The hotel was great.  Everything went perfect.  Except for THIS:

Looks harmless enough right?  It actually looks pretty cool.  I am not a car guy by any means.  I was probably 17 when I learned to even pop the hood on my car.  I was in my 20's when I first changed a tire.   I don't know anything about cars.  With that being said, the Caliber was the worst driving experience of my life.  For two reasons:

1. The engine sounds like it is going to explode.
2. The noise inside of the car is unbearable.

I kept trying to turn the music up so loud that I wouldn't have to hear the deafening sound of gusting wind outside but then the engine would rev so high I'd get terrified and turn down the music to listen to it.

I had enough trouble driving on the horrendous Michigan & Ohio roads already.  I really didn't need this. I guess that's what I get for $22 a day... 

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Grace Family - February 2009

Taking some advice, I'll put up this update AND make it family related.  The following video perfectly captures what our life is like right now in February 2009.

Yes, we do now have TWO Toy Poodles. Duncan the poodle joined our family 4 weeks ago. He's going to be Poodle Girl Raisin's boyfriend.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Matt Green: Plug My Friends (and Family) #1

The above picture is my brother Matt Green playing drums for his late 90's hard rock group wormwood. Like most bands, they broke up before really playing much outside of their home town. In this case it was the upstate of South Carolina.

He made a decision sometime in 2002 after taking 2 years of jazz drum lessons in the wake of wormwood's breakup: He was going to move to Nashville, go to audio recording school, and make an album entirely by himself.

So he moved there in March of 2003 and finished his intensive program at SAE about 9 months later. He bought a Pro Tools rig and started tinkering in the various basements and garages he lived in for the next several years.

Pretty much every conversation I've had with him in the past 6 years has been about this album he's been working on. He'd play me a riff or a keyboard line that he was superproud of and try to convince me that it was a #1 hit in the making.

He obsessed over this stuff so much I even wrote an article about him for my feature writing class back in college (for the life of me I could not find a copy of when writing this post). In that piece I straight up asked Matt if he had mental problems:

"I've got mental solutions. The only difference between genius and insanity is the amount of success you have. I guess we'll find out."

This past month my brother finally had his album Patterns of the Humans mixed, mastered, and duplicated. It's for sale online through most available digital retailers but he prefers people use Digstation.

Yes that is my father and my son Elijah on the cover horrifically altered.

I made a facebook page for him. He also recently told me he'd done a HUGE concert for the 30,000 invisible people that live in his basement. He said it went really well.

You can download one his songs for free here.

I know this music will not be for everyone but give it a shot. After all, 30,000 invisible people can't be wrong.