Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Black Diamond Skye 9/26/10

I cannot believe the years steady rollin' to a close and I finally (FINALLY!) got to a metal show. First and foremost living in Fairfax County doesn't get me any closer to good venues but every now and then someone good comes to George Mason University's very own Patriot Center. Last Sunday I got to see Mastodon, Deftones, and the new revamped Alice In Chains. Titled Black Diamond Skye in reference to the three bands latest album titles. Absolutely blown away at the performances. These guys can flat out play, especially when you are in to metal as much as I am. First up was openers Mastodon, who I have been totally in to since I first heard last year's Crack The Skye. Having missed their Halloween Patriot Center performance last year due to work I was not going to miss out. The band played great songs from their last three albums including "Oblivion", "The Crystal Skull", and closed out with "Blood And Thunder". Very metal and it was great to finally see them live. After a short break Deftones took the stage opening with "Rocket Skates" off their new album "Diamond Eyes". I can honestly say that I have never heard a bad Deftones album nor been to a bad show. They have a great stage presence as lead singer Chino Moreno was all over the stage sweating like he just ran a race. They cranked out my favorite songs from every album and right as the flow was continuing I saw a fan hand Chino a piece of paper during a song that he looked over and after the song was over called for lights and did something totally unexpected. The note was from a guy that had a question from his friend that Chino read: "Will you marry me?" At a Deftones show, a marriage proposal. Never seen one. Ever. I live near the Nation's Capital and I have never seen someone get down on one knee at a monument or a sporting event or at a park but at the Deftones show? Whatever man, and I've been told that I'm not romantic! Anyway, they followed that up with "Change" and the crowd was ecstatic again. After their set we hung out some more and Alice In Chains hit the much larger stage layout. They had a hanging curtain that was lowered as they opened with "Them Bones". These guys came back with a new singer/guitarist that sounds somewhat like the late great Layne Staley. My buddy Palmer said he saw them when it was just Jerry Cantrell fronting the band a few years ago and said they were great then so I was excited. They actually sounded good and they played the two new songs I liked and the rest were songs in their catalog that really defined the bands original early '90s grunge sound. Great way to end the weekend and got home early with my ears still ringing! Long live metal!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Virgin Free Fest 9/25/10

It's Virgin Free Fest time and what a festival! Overall great price (free) for the amount of talent there at Merriweather. It was a stellar day with good, if not hot, weather. I was happy to have made it when we did as three bands I really wanted to see all played at or near the 3 o' clock time frame. I heard Yeasayer while in traffic and I liked what I heard so they'll be a separate show for the future. We checked in and to our immediate left sat the dance tent (actually more of a forest) and Neon Indian was playing. They seemed to have an electronic sound on disc but I was surprised to see a guitarist and a drummer. The sound quality was amazing and they played all the songs I knew and even my sister got into it. Very beat driven danceable songs. I would love to see them by themselves, preferably a club setting. Next we walked out and about and saw Joan Jett start and we kept a going. She's kind of outdated with her pop punk and all, just saying. On the way to the outside stage we saw Thievery Corporation begin their set. They had DJs, sitars, and tribal funk that was infectious. I can't dance that hippy jive but I would have liked to! After a few songs we went back to see Matt & Kim on the main stage. One guy singing and playing the keyboard and one super smiley chick banging in the drums. They didn't really make me a believer and their best songs were impromptu jams of old school rap songs you knew the words to faster than their own songs. We caught about five songs from Chromeo next. Very great live band. I would love to hear them play their 80s electro soul vibe anywhere but outside amongst the trees was pretty cool. My sister then insisted we see Ludacris next. He said it was ten years ago he put out his first platinum hits. I saw him then too. Ludacris has a ton of recognizable hits from songs he did solo to that awful new Taio Cruz song. But he performed without all those jokers and kicked ass. I cannot believe they let M.I.A. play after him to close the 2nd stage but I'll get on to that soon. We left Luda early to hear this summers most hyped band Sleigh Bells. Honestly they sound like heavy metal for the cheerleader set, or maybe cheerleader music for heavy metal types. Either way I was ready to be impressed. They had the largest crowd for the dance area and yet they probably played the shortest set. The songs sounded awfully loud as if they would break the speakers yet I only saw one guy playing the guitar sparingly. The lady singing was hot from the distance I was at but she did a lot of "ah ah ah ahhing". It was actually a weak set. More blown speaker sounding guitar mess and the jumpy singing. Not a fan nor did I see what the fuss was about. Maybe I'm getting old cause M.I.A. didn't kill it for me either! She was about ten or so minutes late, big difference since everyone else was on time. Then the DJ played a drone ten minute mess that was followed by M.I.A. staring out at the crowd yelling "DC" and some other unintelligible stuff. She had so many distractions on stage and sang/rapped so sparingly that she lost me after two actual songs. The worst part that after I left I was so tired and dirty that I stayed through only three great LCD Soundsystem songs. I'm probably going to see them again but overall great day of seeing a tons of great bands. And it was free! Next show Black Diamond Skye!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Free Energy/Titus Andronicus 9/24/10

For the first time in four visits I finally went to a sold out Free Energy show. These guys kick ass no doubt but this tour they opened up for fellow indie all stars Titus Andronicus. Very Strong performance and after some good touring enough fans present knew the words to the songs and were dancing and having a great time. The highlight was my favorite live track "Bad Stuff" but most of all when the chick guitarist from Titus came for "Something in Common". But the highlight was when the lead singer from Titus came out to sing a Bruce Springsteen track (I'm going down down down), I heard both bands were doing a Bruce track for obvious influence reasons but it was amazing to hear it live. They said since they loved DC he was going to stay on stage for "Bang Pop." Great performance, after Free Energy's set we ended up hanging out with the rhythm guitarist outside the Hotel. Pretty down to earth guy, my favorite band of the year. Titus Andronicus had everything, three guitars, a violin, and some keys. These guys are like a punked out Bruce Springsteen but they had too much loud/soft fast/slow songs. Some were much longer than others and although the energy was high it was hard to follow up Free Energy's set. But they were still good to rock to. Show two down: today Virgin Free Fest!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Klaxons 9/21/10

Almost three years by a week or so I showed up at the 930 club to hear the Klaxons play their new album, which came out that day as well. First and foremost I have never, ever stood near the stage at any 930 club show as they tend to sell out or I stay closest to the bar. Anyway there was nobody in attendance that night. It was good for me because I got up close and personal and finally was able to take some great pictures from stage left. These guys have a very British new dance/rock sound and the new album had a bit of Bloc Party by way of Pink Floyd/MGMT vibe going on. And where MGMT went all weird then stopped on their latest record The Klaxons pounded an excellent follow up to 2007's "Myths of the Near Future" with "Surfing the Void." From the start to finish they played my favorite songs off disc one: "As a Above, So Below" and "It's Not Over Yet" and rocked out over the new stuff too like the enthralling "Echoes." They played to the crowd with minimal talk. The only strange part happened when they let a wild eyed homeless looking older gentleman up onstage to dance with the peace sign and introduce a girl in a beauty contest. It was a def WTF and no one new what was happening but overall it didn't ruin the show. First of many nights to close out the month in one of four separate venues. It's going to be a good weekend. Tonight: Free Energy/Titus Andronicus

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Woodrow Wilson Bridge Half Marathon 9/19/10

First race in a long time and it was a big race too. Beautifully laid out was the Inaugural Woodrow Wilson Bridge Half Marathon running from Mt. Vernon, Alexandria to the new National Harbor in Maryland. Basically it was ten or less miles of the George Washington Parkway plus a bridge then wrapping up around the National Harbor with a grand finish near the relocated Haynes Point Giant "The Awakening". Showed up early with Helga and met up with Stacey and Heather, three chicks that ran me over. I'm not a professional runner by any means but it was good to get passed by my team. Great weather to start and finish and the views were spectacular. I would do this race every year if I am off I like it so much and it was co-sponsored by Pacers! Race went smooth until the middle of the bridge (mile 9) when I got the cramps again. Great pace was all but washed out with some walking/crawling/jogging through the final three miles. Unfortunately the worst part of my race was out in National Harbor amongst all the spectators, including my sister! Oh well, I got a good race in and didn't finish too badly at 2:10:59 but will break two hours next year! As for now, it's time for some rest, ice, and some beer. Word.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Best Coast 9/8/10

Been a while but after a few weeks I'm back and got the first September show in the books. Saw Best Coast last night and if you can imagine Courtney Love's Hole without the coke and crazy and instead of angry songs replace them with teenage love songs. Best Coast even sang a song they dedicated to Love so go figure. They came out with an hours worth of easy to sway to 3 minute or less songs with one singer, two guitars and a drum set. They sold out the Rock and Roll Hotel which I can say I haven't been too for what I can remember. (I did get up close but the pictures I took may be too dark, damn moody lighting!) They played somewhere between 15-20 songs, all good, and despite being so close the sound was good and not too loud which is a plus being in such a small venue. I like them and I hope they come back, but not too soon: It's almost metal time!