Ace of Cups, Columbus, Ohio – November 14, 2017
This never happens.
Every city has its big-ticket and mid-sized concert venues, and they seem fairly immune to the ravages of either recession or technology-aided obsolescence. The artists that play there have a level of prominence that sells itself, and it’s a good thing I despise a majority of them, since I’m generally loath to contribute any more money to the 1% than I have to. Thank heavens then for the musical proletariat – those touring bands eeking out a living, hand to mouth and a mile at a time, but inarguably living their dream. At a time when it feels like DIY publications and beloved businesses at the local level are folding at an alarming rate, I also hold particular affection, and not a little bit of awe, for the boutique music space, the small downtown club that embraces and enables a potpourri of these varied and varying artists, whether independent, underground, or otherwise obscure. Continue Reading
The Union, Athens, Ohio – September 29, 2017
As ever, Screaming Females have me at a distinct disadvantage. In the immediate wake of their whirlwind show at Athens, Ohio’s delightfully cozy college strip bar (not the kind you’re thinking) The Union, I was struck with two immediate feelings, both conflicting and complimentary: that I could well spend the rest of my lifetime and never quite fully figure this band out, and that the effort expended might somehow still be worth it. For a little less than a jam-packed hour, I was so engaged by the music I was experiencing, I was damn near mesmerized. When it was over, suddenly and with zero ceremony, it fell on me to collect myself for the walk back to my car and to take stock of what I’d seen – the high points, the disappointments, the might’ve-beens, the oh-my-gods. Technically, my list of complaints from a purely selfish perspective should’ve been robust, but the truth is that, both in that moment and this one, writing on four hours sleep on a picture perfect still Saturday morning, I honestly couldn’t care less. Continue Reading
also appearing: Eagles of Death Metal
Taft Theater, Cincinnati, Ohio – May 14, 2017
Words do scant justice to the concussive force and frightening authority with which Mastodon’s full-length debut Remission landed, like a meteor or similar harbinger of doom, in my life in 2002. Muscular and uncompromising, this young band seemed immediately driven to push into and conquer territory other artists were perhaps unnerved by or else hadn’t the capacity to envision. Remission was, at once, exotic and pulverizing, and had a particularly invigorating way about it, a smart bomb cast into the wasteland of the then-dying “Nu Metal” scene to finish the job definitively. In fifteen years as a metal fan, I couldn’t recall ever hearing an album like it. Another fifteen years later, and six more official longplayers into Mastodon’s career, I still haven’t. Continue Reading
Oh, I definitely know I’m late. Believe me when I say that I have no wish to belabor the foul memory of 2016 any further than is absolutely necessary. Truly, it was a vile year, brimming with breathtaking, heartbreaking upheaval on both a political and societal level, and a cavalcade, practically a mocking, extended holiday parade, of unfortunate mortal departures from the worlds of art and film and music, such that I’d never before quite experienced in my own four+ decades on this rock. Eventually, of course, you grow old enough that your heroes die. It’s as incontrovertible as the sunrise. 2016, then, was the year that stated that truism for the record unequivocally, then restated it, reinforced it, and underlined it like an unbalanced grade school teacher a thousand times in neon ink. Continue Reading
also appearing: The Black Dahlia Murder, Misery Index
Agora Ballroom, Cleveland, Ohio – November 11, 2016
Though it’s easy to imagine the opposing viewpoints, it is all but impossible to be of two minds regarding Napalm Death, the inimitable, uncompromising extreme music institution that sprung like a bio-weapon from the industrial grit of Birmingham, England over thirty years ago. In that disposition, the restless, resilient grindcore pioneer is, ironically, very much of a piece with its most recently identified natural enemy, semi-scrupulous billionaire real estate mogul Donald J. Trump Continue Reading
NOTE: What follows is a long, winding, bumpy, and circular road, even for this blog. Caveat reador.
My relationship with Ticketmaster – the nefarious online concert access cartel – has been a long and contentious one, though never particularly complicated. My feelings on the subject are not at all mixed but, rather, pure as the driven snow. Ticketmaster stands not just in mere ideological opposition to me. It vexes me, tweaks me with purpose and zeal, and does just about everything during our regular, uncomfortable interactions but spit in my eye. It is my rival, my enemy, my nemesis, and the bane of my concert going existence, which has otherwise brought me so much joy, both fleeting and lasting, and memories built for a lifetime’s contented recollection. Continue Reading
Riverbend Music Center, Cincinnati, Ohio – May 20, 2016
Everyone enjoys his or her “down time” differently. Some people only truly come alive as a part of a group. They seek out others by instinct. Some people travel for the sake of it. Others commune with nature. A raging introvert from the womb onward, I’ve never particularly minded my own company. I love concerts, and movies in the theater, alone or not. Failing that, I tend to hunker down in my bomb shelter of a ground floor apartment and cycle through an array of entertainment options (books, games, music, movies) sufficient to make Chris Hardwick blush. Considering the subject matter this site routinely traffics in, tell me you’re surprised. Being outside isn’t exactly my default mode, though it can actually serve to make me much more appreciative of, excited by, and up for a particularly nice day, just not necessarily to see a show. Despite my friends who love them, I generally despise the obscene quantity to quality/expense to return ratio of all those ubiquitous multi-day summer festivals, preferring, as at any other time of year, to make my showgoing bones day-to-day in intimate, compact, dimly-lit clubs. Continue Reading