Tag Archives: Brandi Carlile

Robo-Music: Countdown of Top Albums from 2015

29 Dec

I’m not certain if it’s this era in music I don’t really care for or if it’s the tastes of Utah.  Here in Salt Lake City, at least, everyone is in to DJs.  And electronic.  And very pop-1980s throwbacks.  It’s nothing live, nothing that has heart.  And that’s the whole thing for me.  I need substantial lyrics and some belting out.  Instrumentation.  The popular music in the Salt Lake City area is computer-generated or superficial.  So I feel like I’m musically starved.  And I hope it’s just this region that doesn’t know the story.  I did manage to scrape up some contenders for this list.

music- robot 2

This list was compiled based on album alone. Catalog, concerts, expectations, hype, and cuteness were not factors.  And as an aside, I posted this before really going through it with a fine-toothed comb, so to speak.  In the interest of time.  I’ve been  notorious in previous years for wanting to perfect these or wanting to listen to ALL the options, then not ever posting them.  Or posting them a year late.  So up it goes, but I may edit or add some things later.

 

DIDN’T Likes (Worst to Don’t Love Listening):

Diddy

What happened to the Puffy/Biggy days when there was a melody or two within the rap?  This is harsh and displeasing.  Almost grating.  I think it’s that electronic influence rearing it’s ugly head again.   Also, rapping was not really a thing (which is the point?) so I didn’t really connect with any lyrics either.  A disappointment.

Sleater-Kinney

Some people might like “No Cities to Love”.  I am not one of them.  But I don’t think this album is bad, it seems well thought-out and well-executed.  It is just not my taste AT ALL.

Sara Bareilles

I have liked her past albums.  Like a lot.  I think she is one of few that speaks for feminists.  And that’s so important, especially in the male-dominated music industry.  This album was barely listen-able for me.  It felt like a cheesy Disney soundtrack or a musical.  Very overwrought and sappy to the point of-barf.  I hope she goes back to her roots.

Matt and Kim

It’s TOO harsh.  I understand they are supposed to be electronic and robotic.  But “New Glow”  is robots in a war.  I need something to sing to, some catchy chorus, somewhere.  All the noise makes that difficult to find.  And even as an exercise album, which I expect substantially less from lyrically, it was too jarring and too syncopated.

music- robot

Blah-Neutral, Try Harder in the Future, and Up and Coming in no particular order (Medium-Passion from Me):

Emmylou Harris, Rodney Crowell

The first two songs made me think they were going to steal the Grammy from Brandi.  Which, despite a flagging enthusiasm for Brandi’s latest, I most definitely want her to WIN that prize.  So I was horrified, I really liked a couple of Emmylou’s songs.  It’s old country and Americana as the category has nominated her for, but every song was not a winner.  The album lost steam in a few places.  Aside from some boring tunes, it’s a down-home oldy-feeling work of art that a person could listen to one or two times before totally losing interest.

Jason Isbell

It’s hard not to compare Isbell to Brandi Carlile–since they’re up for the same Grammy and all.  But, this artist is ranked under Brandi, because I said I would look at the albums singularly.  And his is a whole different thing.  I think in some ways it is more listen-able then “Firewatcher’s Daughter” in that it makes easy, background music.  I like the gentleness of the sound.  But when it comes down to it, I personally like catchy things sung well and with feeling.  And this album has no hooks or unbelievable vocal range, as Brandi’s does.  But it’s a chill-mood and none of the songs are unlikeable (which I can’t always say about Brandi’s songs).  So check it out–but it BETTER not steal Brandi Carlile’s Grammy if it knows what’s good for it!

Kelly Clarkson

More of the same.  I’ve always liked Clarkson, especially her breaking up songs.  Except, I feel like her albums and sound are becoming more and more of a manufactured machine.  The genuineness is simply  not there.  I think Clarkson should write from her heart and sing from her soul rather then doing mathematical calculations in trying to secure top chart numbers and album sales.  I want to hear her stripped down and authentic–even at the risk of being less corporate.

Tim McGraw

Went skating.  Skating by on prior success, on his image, and on his fan-base.  I thought there was nothing at all special about this album.  I would like to see him strive for the next work–I know he is capable of growth, of branching out, and getting out of his comfort zone a little.  This album was put out for the sake of remaining relevant, and unfortunately, you can tell.

Jewel

On the other hand, Jewel tried too hard.  I can hear that she tried to replicate her earlier success.  But the effort had a disingenuous, forced quality about it that I didn’t like.  The poetry was there, some sweet-signing, and a little discord.  Folk was full-force, but “Picking Up the Pieces” still wasn’t comparable to “Pieces of Me” as I’m sure she intended.  Jewel formerly sold out and went straight pop for the money.  Then she tried to recapture success easily by going to the easier realm of country.  After that failed, she’s floundering–and it shows.  I wish Jewel would forget the record sales and corporate numbers and actually be genuine.  I think she has a place in music–but it’s not going to be  through her own force of will.  She needs to get in tune (pun!) with herself and her story if she’s going to get out of her slump.

Papa Roach

Also offered nothing really special or nothing really groundbreaking here.  I used to like their rebellious sound.  The blend of punk, pop, and rock they had going.  Now, it’s a little formulaic, with no real standouts.  Can’t music forgo corporate manufacture and be real?!

Avicii

“Stories” could be a great album.  But the first album, “True” (?) that I listened to raised my expectations very high so this newest one was sort of a big yawn for me.  After falling in LOVE with the last album, I just could find anything to attach to in this one.  I think it’s still OK, but it hardly equals “True.”

music- electronic

Worth Mentioning (but not a blurb):

Adele-  probably would rank on my list, but no Spotify, no rank.

Christine and the Queens- self titled

Death Cab for Cutie- Kintsugi

The Decemberists- What a Terrible World. . .

Imagine Dragons- Smoke + Mirros

Kendrick Lamar- To Pimp a Butterfly

Luke Bryan- Kill the Lights

Sports- All of Something

music- robot 3

 

AAANNNNNND Top Albums of 2015 Countdown from Good to Very Best:

11 (honorable mention).

Kid Rock

Dave Matthews Band’s Lovely Ladies must have stepped into the recording studio with Kid Rock.  This album is good, but very, very different from previous efforts.  It’s more grown up and country/blues, than rebel rock.  I liked the gospel and southern flair and thought they were appropriate to the tracks.  The thing that would make the album stronger is a little more variation in the songs.  They all started to sound the same to me.  And though cohesive as an album, even the 80’s hard-rock Gods knew to throw in a ballad once in awhile.  There should be something that doesn’t meet expectations in here to really flesh it out.  And fans of the first few albums–prepare your ears–I’m not sure you’re going to like this even a little bit.

 

10.  rebel heart

Madonna

This album would have ranked higher, because the songs that I like, I really, REALLY like.  But there was some electronic/club influence that I’m trying to get away from—as you heard.  My top 10 is all about the human aspect of music.  What I liked was the variability in the album.  It all meshed together, but the songs were distinct and had different feels and influences in them.  We have a broken heart, dancy-club, a Jamaican sound, and of course electronic.  I especially give top marks for this seldom-seen vulnerability in many of the tracks.  It’s a softer, riskier sound for Madonna, and I feel like I know her better as a person because of it.  Of course I also like the stronger side of her personality and artistry, and that’s here as well.  Madonna’s sound has matured and she has leaned tons from her years topping the charts–but she’s still got IT.

9.  firewatchers daughter

Brandi Carlile

Let me just get it out there.  No, I have to soften it a little by saying Brandi is perhaps my favorite artist of the last 6 years.  And her shows are THE best!  She seems genuine and she’s personable, and of course she’s cute.  So my expectations for a new album were SKY-high.  Bear Creek was phenomenal, in my opinion.  The follow-up was sure to be even better.  But it wasn’t.  Not to me, at least–the rest of the world seems to disagree and is finally catching on to MY band.  Washington state, especially Seattle, feel like the band is OURS.  So I very much hate to say “Firewatcher’s Daughter” just seemed to meander too far to the right for me.  I’m not saying it was bad by any means.  But usually I attach to all but 1, or maybe 2 songs on Brandi’s albums.  This time, I only really-liked 2-3.  “These Things I Regret” was good and I think sort of a fan-song.  It was more the old style, the one I fell in love with.  “Mainstream Kid” with its strength and rock-flavor is the other obvious hit on the record.  And “Wherever is Your Heart” shows the band’s range and energy.  Honorable mention goes to “The Stranger at my Door” for most awesome song-ending ever.   The rest?  Too. . .  I don’t know, maybe just not MY style.  “The Eye” is not an album-song.  It’s meant for the live, breath-taking, ‘wow that’s almost a Capella  and look how they blend together as a group’ sentiment.  But even live (at the Gorge) the choruses repeat to the point of boredom and it just got tedious to me.  The Avette Brother’s cover is good.  But it also bothers me.  One, it seems too soon cover them–the Avettes (though their catalog is HUGE) are JUST going mainstream.  Mostly, though it seems (as gleaned from show commentaries and interviews) to be Brandi’s love song to her family and a gay anthem (from her perspective, I gather).  But it’s obviously written (and unchanged) for brothers, or at least siblings.  With the ‘which one of us would Dad be proud of’ stuff.  I want her to tailor it to her needs or really, just leave it to the Avette Brothers.  And “Wilder, We’re Chained” if it’s not a direct Fleetwood Mac cover, it’s MUCH too similar, and with “The Eye” having that same tone, it just feels like a throw away song.  I guess I won’t go into any more specific song detail (because I already wrote that blog) but I feel compelled to justify my options.  I don’t like “going against” my favorites.  Because–I feel guilty for being disappointed.  I am happy Brandi Carlile’s career is finally taking off in a mainstream way and she’s getting some long-deserved media-attention.  But, I hope Brandi Carlile does not continue to scout territory which takes her farther away from her core group of fans.  I liked the former albums–even if they didn’t garner all the attention, hype, and accolades.  Though they should have and I don’t know why she’s just now blowing up–it’s long overdue.  Maybe now that everybody’s watching she can go back to the more rock-folk style that I like better?

8.  Kacey Musgravespageant material

I like it:  A cheeky country gal.  The songs are catchy and foster an independent rebel spirit that I like, and that I think is totally necessary in the still good-ol boys country network.  I think she’ll join modern trail-blazers Shania Twain, Carrie Underwood, and especially Miranda Lambert as the new spunky voice of country women, working to bust stereotypes and get outside of the social norms.  This album gives me an idea of what Musgraves stands for, and I like that message even better then the songs.

7.storyteller

Carrie Underwood

Is back to herself–thank goodness!  I love her bitter songs where she gets feisty and this album has that in spades.  Seeing Underwood sell-out and try to please mainstream (impossible/boring) was sad, so “Storyteller” is all the better.  It offers almost every song as independent woman, talking trash to some loser who mistreated her.  The passion in Underwood’s voice is back to go nicely with her always strong voice.  Love.  And I hope she remains true to her roots from now on.

6.

Mumford & Sonswilder mind

I loved their sound so much.  When “Babel” exploded onto the scene, it was stripped down, featured a kind of country feel, and was completely different.  So I’m a little disappointed the band has chosen to deviate to the sound that contributed to their huge mainstream popularity.  I liked it because it WAS different and not the normal mainstream sound.  But alas, though I’m not sure I’m on board with the band changing its tune (another pun!), but I’m judging “Wilder Mind” by itself.  And it’s masterfully done.  Really, it’s a solid work as a group.  You can listen to the album over and over and it’s a really great work.  There are no real individual songs that pop though.  And as a side-note to the band–get back to your acoustic roots.

5.Mika-1st albumMika

Mika- The Origin of Love

Yes, this album is pretty-pure pop.  BUT it is strong in a socially-conscious way.  Mike SAYS something in this album.  Opposed to Cee Lo’s closet-case, Mike is totally uninhibited gay.  Like, old-school, flamboyant, proud to be a little feminine, gay.  This album is an anthem for all the homos everywhere, even going so far as to ask, “Where Have All the Gay Guys Gone?”  And the songs are catchy and dancy which doesn’t hurt one bit.

4.  The Indigo Girlsone lost day

When I was just thinking about the album, I felt sorry that I was a little disappointed in it.  “One Lost Day” is not an evolution.  Some past albums were much stronger, showed more growth, or talked more of political issues.  But if the Indigo Girls can do anything, they can subtly change their sound to remain relevant in current times.  Just look back at how long they’ve been around.  And just TRY to sound two very similar albums from there—they are all different.  And apparently, in order to be relevant in 2015, you have to have an electronic or strong-pop flavor.  I couldn’t remember any stand-out songs when I thought about the tracks of “One Lost Day,”  and I even thought maybe the new album was a little too pop.  When I actually turned on the songs to hone in on my  list-placement, I remembered why the Indigo Girls are masters at what they do:  The album has a clear ark and tells a cohesive story. Each song contributes to an overall story.   The songs are polished and you know the duo has absolutely perfected their writing/recording process.  But there is always a feeling-invoked and an authenticity about their works.  Yes, obvious success and maybe a little pandering is going on, but The Indigo Girls still have their amazing harmonies, their political ideologies, and a personal story to tell.  I call this one polished, but not superficial.

3.  Beth Hart

Beth Hart

I didn’t even want to sample Hart’s new album, because Douche had told me once that she attended a Beth Hart concert and the artist was sloppy.  Like, obviously impaired, and asking the audience for drugs while performing on stage.  And I’m not into supporting obvious drug-addicts.   BUT I came across a recent article about Beth Hart outlining her addiction, new sobriety, and bipolar diagnosis.  So I listened to “Better Than Home”.  And I’m glad I did!  It’s bluesy and stands out from the crowd right now.  Hart’s voice is resonant and her lyrics deep.  Also, she has this vibrato singing style that’s very technical and amazing.  It’s a different sound in a sea of similar female voices.

2.Vanessa Carlton

Vanessa Carlton

Where did she come from?!  All I remember is that “A Thousand Miles” song that was over-played to the extreme until it became hostile to listen to again.  But “Liberman” is so great.  It’s a stripped-down feel, heavy on the piano, and with good song-writing.  It’s a chill listen without being boring.  I don’t know if you could over-play this album–it’s sure been heavy on my rotation and I’ve yet to tire of it.  Think Ben Folds Five, but with a female vocalist.

  1.  Cee Lo GreenHeart Blanche

This is totally beside the point, but does anyone else think Green is a seriously closeted gay?  This album sets off my gay-dar.  It’s upbeat and dancy, but in a good way.  I may not have a lot to write about the album, but I want to convey it’s a fun, yet serious album that has good singing, true writing, and I found it very pleasing to my ears.

Cee Lo Green- gay

P.S.  Yes!  I finished this entire post, BEFORE the next year.  This is the first time in 3(?) years I can say that.  I am very pleased, and this means good omens for 2016.

My Most Listened to Music of 2014

8 Dec

I’m not finished blogging.  And that dearth of posts wasn’t some planned hiatus (don’t worry, I would have warned you).  I just stopped making time, I guess.  I used to really think about my blog a lot.  If something notable would happen, I’d file it away.  At night, I would think of cute blog titles.  When bored, I might think about how I would write down an event or story.  But this last year was full of surprises.  I won’t be sorry to see 2015 become my past.  I had been in my post-bac program working very hard to get to grad schhol–and that didn’t happen.  So everything changed.  And we moved to a new state.  Again (for me) and that’s always a huge logistic, emotional, and time adjustment.  I got caught up in just getting back to a secure, stable place.  Finding the job and getting enough hours and a good schedule, check-check, and check!  Getting my car all legit for Utah-check.  And exploring this new city and state–a mission in progress.  Between that and the daily things, blogging just fell by the wayside.  But I’m in no way giving it up.  I’ve worked very hard on this collection of posts–and I do enjoy it, when it doesn’t become an obligation.  So I’m going to try to think about it again.  No promises on the quality or quantitity of posts just yet.  I just promise to put it in my mind.  Besides, I love looking back at a year, count downs, and looking ahead–which January is ideal for.

Here is a post that I’m not sure why I didn’t publish LAST December.  I probably intended on making it better–which is also  a reason I haven’t written in awhile.  I wanted to have solid ideas, write well, edit, and make sure the posts were GOOD.  Well, I’m taking that pressure off, and just getting things out there for awhile.  So about my 2014 music listening:

PHOTO_20151127_164525

This isn’t some feeling I have, it’s based on statistics from my LastFM scrobbles.  If you’ve been living under a rock, and don’t know what that is, here’s a description:  An add-on that sends every song played (itunes, Spotify, ipod, ANY program/device that plays music) to the website.  The site compiles most listened to artists, songs, and albums.  And they do it for the week, month, 3 months, 6 months, year, and overall.  Really, if you just learned a bunch of stuff–you should check out LastFM and start scrobbling.

So without further ado:

10]  Akon

Has still got it.  I’ve always liked him, and still do.  It’s good for running and during squeegee time at work too.

9]  Hans Zimmer

I think this came about out of Spotify’s Classify list.  You can pick a mood/instrument/era/etc and listen to music that represents that.

8]  Dumpstaphunk

Because I tried to give all the Gorge Caravan bands that Dave picked a fair shake.  But despite many listens, I wasn’t really feeling this one.

7]  Piano Tribute Players

For studying purposes.

6]  Linkin Park–>Burn it Down

They are one of my long time favorite bands, and they put out an album in 2014.

5]  Brian Tyler

Honestly, I can’t even tell you who this is.  Lesson–be careful what you listen to if it means nothing.  Maybe it’s on a soundtrack of some sort?  I really don’t know.

4]  Moon Taxi

WTF?  Prep for Gorge Caravan–which we didn’t end up listening to.

3]  Vitamin String Quartet–>top song:  With or Without You

A girl has to study.  But it doesn’t have to be a bummer.  I get to listen to my favorite songs without distracting lyrics, no problem with that!

2]  Brandi Carlile–>top songs 1-3:  Turpentine, Fall Apart Again, Closer to You (who knew?)

My musical girlfriend HAD to be in the top spots.  And congratulations on 3 amazing openers at the Gorge!!!

1]  Dave Matthews Band–>with 1-5 most played songs:  Lie in Our Graves (a summer tour staple), The Stone, Ants Marching, Crush, and Crash.

Of course.  Because of concert prep, excitement before and after the ticket purchase, excitement before and after the concerts, and just all the billions of versions of each song–it’s obvious it added up.

Red Butte Gardens: Zoo-Tunes Reloaded [Brandi Carlile part 2]

24 Aug

I hated Zoo-Tunes.

I thought I would love it. I love the zoo, and am happy to support it. Seattle is a wonderful concert city. The weather is usually mild, and I enjoy the outdoors. And who doesn’t love a pic-nic? Especially AT a zoo, and with top-of-the-line musical entertainment.

And I knew what I was getting into.  I had researched the Zoo-Tunes ticket:  Members go for an outing, not the music.  People talk over the music.  People sneak in alcohol.  It’s lawn seating = crammed in.  But I had been ready for it.  I bought VIP tickets–I would not have to deal with pushy people, or taller chairs in front of me.  I paid my way out of the crowding, and probably the talkers too.  I was confident.

But that’s not how it went down.  Events in zoos are not for the music.  And even paying VIP prices didn’t buy me out of talkers.  People stood in front of me and weren’t told to sit.  It was fairly obnoxious, only being redeemed by the Indigo Girls’ showmanship–they know what they’re doing and can capture even an unruly audience’s attention.  By the end, even those who weren’t there for the music, and hadn’t heard of the Indigo Girls were captivated by the show.

Amy across the quad

Still, I’d never go back to Zoo-Tunes.  It’s annoying.

I knew Red Butte Gardens would be much the same.  And I was not going to camp in line.  I did not want to get there extremely early in hopes of securing a good seat.  I knew people would be drunk and talking.  I knew people would probably stand in front of me, blocking my view.

Thus, my expectations were low.

I drove to the venue several weeks ahead of time to find the route and scope out parking.  The lowest lot, farthest away from the venue, had an North exit.  everyone else would cram into the closer parking lots and leave by the Western exit.  I would rather trek up a hill in the beginning and walk back down, past all the slow drunk people blocking the roads on foot.  And past the snail-trail of drunk-drivers slowly leaving past police escorts.

Also, I was in no rush to get to that line.  I knew, even if we had gotten there at 8AM, and camped in the heat all day, that in the end the pushiest people will get the best seats.  And Cool and I are not those people.  I also knew from Zoo-Tunes experience, that even if you are lucky enough to make it to the front, the center, or an otherwise primo location–pushy people who come late will squeeze you out.  And you can’t belly-ache about it without looking like a super-douche.

Even though doors opened at 6PM, we strolled up to the line at 5:45PM.  Something old, pre-planning, overly-anxious me would never have done!

red butte gardens 4But as I expected, all the pushy people made it to the best lawn places.  I saw people coming in half hour after the opener started, when nearly everyone had their sport secured–making their way to the front center and squeezing in.  That’s just how it goes.  People will be late and pushy–there’s no fighting that.  And we got a good enough seat with a side view of the stage near the far right.  And it was fine.  And people weren’t severely crowding us.  And we were lucky not to be next to any really inconsiderate drunks.

We had our picnic, sitting on a Lion King blanket while enduring the opener.  Then, set-up for Brandi seemed to take forever, and I suspect they were intentionally waiting for dark to optimize their light show.  It seemed a long wait for the band to get up there.

But they opened with my favorite song from the new album, “Firewatcher’s Daughter.”

Brandi- Red Butte Gardens Aug 2015Brandi was sensitive to the crowd, as always, and really gave the feeling that she personally loved the venue and cared about each individual as fans.  She did the obligatory city-pandering saying she loves Salt Lake City, which I always find disingenuous (from ANY artist) but know is how you play the game.  Best of all, she was not tired or fatigued from the big show she WAS excited for-Red Rocks-just the night before.

I was happy they dug out some older tunes and didn’t just stick to the new album.  “The Story” is always amazing live and those Bear Creek selections are my personal favorites.

There were many references to “testify” “pray” “faith” and churcyy-themed stuff.  I’m not a big fan of that, and10857914_10153344619528936_124799587122048377_n I’m glad I’m not FROM Salt Lake City, because I guess that stuff comes with the territory here.  Literally.  You can’t escape the Mormon history or current LDS influence.

I had heard the live version of “Turpentine” on the symphony album, and she played it for us.  I have to say any talking on live albums is interesting for the first listen.  Maybe it’s funny for the first 3 listens through the CD.  After that it gets tedious and repetitive–you’ve heard that story before.  And even though I knew about the audience signing harmony–and was tired of hearing the set-up for it on the CD–in person it is spectacular.  You really feel a part of the band and the whole audience has this connected, magical feeling.  It was really cool to be a part of.  I’m glad she’s still trotting that out.

The night was nearly perfect.  Sure, the set-list had been done before.  Talk about gay marriage, talk about the darkness in the love song, all that hadn’t been the first run-through.  But though it was not fresh and innovative material, it still felt like the band’s truth.  And even rehearsed, that’s special to see played out.

I wish Brandi would play something more upbeat at the end and in the encore, but all 6(?) of her shows I attended would wind down.  I think it would be better if instead of starting on a high note and working her way downward to quiet songs, she did more like DMB and played one slow, and one fast encore song.  Because by the encore, I’m all jazzed up and wanting to end on an energetic one, not 3 slow sappy ones.

faces

But aside from those teeny observations, just the feeling of the night was as close to perfect as you could get.  It’s this intangible thing, separate from the seating, the setlist, or the talking.  I would go to a Brandi concert any time!

 

 

Brandi Carlile at Red Butte Garden [part 1]

17 Aug

I’ve seen her at the Knitting Factory in Spokane twice, and both times she was on the verge of outgrowing the venue. Overcrowding lessons my good time, but they did amazing at both shows. Also, the first year she started late and I had to leave early (I still loathe Forster-Friday for forcing that regretful choice on me) and the 2nd year the venue had to hand-write tickets, and drunk Spokomptonites nearly ruined the show with their debauchery.

I also saw Brandi and the twins play with the symphony at Benaroya (spelling?  IDK) Hall in Seattle. symphony dress Unfortunately, not the year I lived in Seattle.  I under much duress, I had to take vacation time from work, and drive the 6 hours over the pass one Thanksgiving break.  The show wasn’t until the end of the visit (Cool’s family) so we were tired, and I was very worried about missing an exam and work in the morning.  It had snowed uncharacteristically hard, and I didn’t want to get caught on the wrong side of the pass.  So by the time the show came around I was already tired, then worried.

Brandi with our sign 2

 

 

 

 

For my 4th and 5th Brandi shows, it was her opening for DMB at the Gorge.  So it was a great time, but not HER shows.  She played a bunch of covers, and it was windy as HEEEELLLL.  And apparently, all the greatest tricks were left for Saturday, when we had Friday and Sunday tickets.  And Cool was kinda of a pill that weekend.

But last night, in Salt Lake City, the band outdid themselves.  I was worried because our show was the day after Red Rocks, which Brandi was all jazzed up about (of course).  I thought our show–if it went on at all–would be like DMB post-Gorge.  Still good.  Still a concert.  But much less enthusiasm/energy after the peak of the tour.

Plus, Cool got her tickets from a 4th party, because the venue is very hard-core on scalping and makes ticket limits, and ID’s the ticket-holder to make sure the name matches the ticket purchaser name.  And we couldn’t hold the tickets until “an hour before the show.”  Naturally I figured we were getting scammed.  I knew we would never hold the tickets, and even if they were legit, we would not be let in.

I did not allow myself to get my hopes up, because I just knew our concert wouldn’t pan out.

But the day of the show, the tickets were e-mailed.  I was only slightly relieved.  We couldn’t print them.  Cool had to make an emergency run for ink.  Then, it wouldn’t print without BOTH color and black ink.  And still, our tickets probably weren’t legit–and we weren’t on the list as the original purchaser.

After 1.5 hours, Cool printed two tickets.

So I packed our bags and got dressed, and we went to the venue.  Next–the actual concert

Review of Firewatchers Daughter

4 Mar

pin drop chi-townHere is my review of the newest album from one of my favorite artists.  My expectations are high because Brandi Carlile is super-talented, and because her last album, Bear Creek is one of my favorite (if not THE favorite) of all time.  This time around I didn’t really take advantage of singles availability or track previews.  I wanted a sense of the album as a whole.  “That Wasn’t Me” is one of my favorite songs, but I didn’t think it really went with the vibe of it’s album, so my expectations were all weird going in.  This time–I’m starting with a clean slate.  I went song-by-song, writing a blurb about my very first listen, then adding on after an entire day on repeat–once I got a feel for things a little more.  So here we go, first impressions followed by today’s feelings:

The first song, “Wherever is Your Heart” started out very folksy-Americana with Brandi’s solo Brandi Carlile 6vocals. It becomes a little more rock at the chorus.  And halfway through, a sense of pleading and desperation when Brandi’s voice becomes somewhat gravely.  After a day of listening to the album, I listened again.  I was inspired to belt this one out right along with the band.  It’s exciting and lyrically intricate.  In the top three strongest songs of the album.

The Eye conjures an earlier time of Fleetwood Mac or Crosby, Nash, and Stills, what with the acoustic instrumentation and harmonized singing.  I heared this song at the Gorge Brandi-Pin Drop Tour-NYwhen they opened for DMB, so the generational throwback sound was no surprise to me.  Cool brings up a good point–do hurricanes have an eye?  I know for sure tornadoes do, but I’m unfamiliar with the structure of a hurricane.  The structure of this song is beautiful as well.  It was both haunting and exhilarating live, but I thought the song went on too long at the Gorge–because the words get repetitive.  But the amazingness of a sparse song and the harmony isn’t fully captured on the record either.  It’s best live, but a little shorter or with some different words (less chorus) to keep it interesting.  Anyway, I’m not as enamored with this one as the rest of the world I guess–it’s not my favorite on the album, let alone catalogue, but it’s pleasant.

Brandi at the Gorge

The Things I Regret.  I could tell right away I was going to like this song.  Brandi sings with a pining, and I could feel the mood they were trying to convey.  And I like a “wooo wooo” segway, going into a strong drum beat to keep things climbing in intensity.  The 2nd day, I was still impressed with the vibe and yearning on this song.  I think the strongest thing about this is Tim and Phil coming in vocally on the lyrics.  And I still think the stronger beat and staccato phrases are spot-on and make the song more emotive.  Today, I thought the end is too sudden with the cut-off, “like a holy rolling stone.”  Very abrupt.

I immediately liked the punk-ish rock vibe of “Mainstream Kid” with the strong vocals by Brandi Brandi in Virginiachanneling Janis Joplin and the electric guitar.  This song transcends neat categorization of this album.  Maybe the rest is rock/Americana, with some more familiar staples for the fans, but this song puts this record in it’s own place.  The hand clap section may be starting to get a little trite, but that’s going to make for some awesome audience participation at a live show.  On the 2nd day, I really liked the genre jump of “Mainstream Kid” (through abrupt) because it provided some harder rocking that I needed after all the soft, slow stuff.  But I think the style in which Brandi sings the main stanzas is a little cheesy/phony, just because her voice is a higher register or something that sounds a little unnatural and forced.  I think she strays from herself a little too much and that makes the sound a tiny bit superficial.  Add in the claps, and this song goes downhill.  Yet, this is one of the best songs on the album, because it ROCKS.  What I love is the syncopated chorus and hard-core instrumentation.  I also love the intensity, especially toward the end when Brandi stretches out the word “mainstream” into a growl and sounds like Carrie Underwood ready to kick some serious a$$.  Brandi, just don’t sing this one live too much, because it sounds like you will hurt your vocal cords with this rougher style.

Brandi and baby“Beginning to Feel the Years” takes the album back down to a softer level.  Which may be a poor transition.  The singing begins sweetly.  This song is probably the closest to the band’s earlier efforts.  Harmony accompaniment sneaking in every so often, and light guitar strumming.  The 2nd day I liked the definite genre break with this song.  It’s very sentimental and lovely and features just enough of the twins to make it similar to their older, popular songs.  I’m glad they gave their long-term fans something recognizable.  The end is also abrupt–they stop playing.  I think they need to work on better conclusions.

“Wilder (We’re Chained)” seems like another story song.  It starts out with just Brandi, but broadens to a harmonized word.  It is also very Fleetwood Mac.  I liked the instrumentals briefly pin drop tour-brandiplayed.  The 2nd day I noticed Brandi is singing with a twang that I hadn’t previously heard.  I also thought this song sounded like “The Eye” but not as strong.  It is one of the weaker songs on the album.  The thing that redeems it at all is the cello peppered in (but not frequently enough).  I hope they do something more with this song in live performances, because it’s lack-luster here.

“Blood Muscle Skin & Bone” sounds a little like Amy Ray’s punk-inspired sound.  Brandi’s voice and the claps make it a little superficial.  I like the stronger drum beats further into the song and Brandi at Disneythe twin’s “uh oh ohs” are pleasing yet simultaneously cheesy.  The shouted chorus began to grow on me halfway through the song.  2nd day:  I can see what the band was going for in this song–but they didn’t quite accomplish it.  And that’s why I like this album as a whole, less then their previous efforts.  I know what the overall feeling of this album is:  A bobby-socked 1950’s band trying desperately to be hard-core.  A lot of the songs have intensity and feeling, but they have an underlying cheesiness about them (the clap-clap and “uh oh oh ohhhs”) that is off-putting to me and accomplishes the opposite of their goal.  I want to take the songs seriously, but they are a little soda fountain-poser for my taste.

“I Belong to You” has a nice melody, and I liked Brandi’s vocal stylings.  I could tell instantly I would like this song.  It’s a nice, romantic song.  It has a country end refrain that breaks away Brandi Carlile marriedfrom the style of the song and makes it more interesting.  2nd day I found this one to be lyrically complex and I really appreciate that.  This one is a good love song and made me think and feel sentimental.  I think it’s successful even though it deviates from the sense of the album, because it speaks to the band’s former material.  They are good at vocally-strong, stirring songs that don’t have the trappings (and cliche) of studio magic.  It’s all about the writing and Brandi’s voice, throw in some harmony to close it out.  I think this album would have been more successful if they had stayed truer to what they do best.

“Alibi” is cheeky right off.  I like the shouted-harmonized chorus and strong beat.  This is a brandi tomtoesstandout on the album.  The instrument break with drum stick sounds was exciting too.  2nd day, this one is my favorite (maybe 2nd favorite) of the album.  It’s rocking, still features Brandi’s voice loud and clear, but sticks to the tone of the rest of the album.  The harder sound is a relief from the other songs and makes me cue in to the music.  I like everything but the “ahh ahhs” and “woo oohs” parts that goes back to that sock-hop feel again.  The twins are amazing at adding vocal stylings–I’m not sure why they’re only added in cheeseball “oh ohhs” on this album.

“The Stranger At My Door” says the album’s title right away.  Which makes me happy, because I was going to look up what a firewatcher was, exactly.  This song sounds like a Johnny Cash brandi vest and bolo(talking rather than singing) song.  It’s more folksy rockabilly story, then belting out a range of notes.  Brandi’s “woo woo’s” are both haunting and old-country.  The piano with marching and electric guitar “We All Go Marching” segway was a spectacular end that was both unexpected and made sense.  Best song ending yet!  2nd day:  I think this was in the top three strongest songs on the record (it’s quickly becoming my favorite), just because it has a cowboy poetry vibe, and some clip-clop fancy sounds, but the twins “woo oohhs” actually sound right in this context.  I feel like she’s telling a story during a desert horseback ride in the tradition of the old west.  The deviation into the march and the ending in a familiar tune was maybe the best song ending of all time, most definitely in Brandi Carlile’s catalogue.

“Heros and Songs” begins quietly.  It features a slight background and Brandi’s lyrics.  I kept Brandi and Eltonhoping it would get a little more jazzed up, and waiting for something else.  It’s maybe the most boring song on the album-perhaps it will grow on me.  Sometimes the first listen isn’t indicative of what I’ll like long-term.  2nd day listen:  Brandi is a good singer, and I like that.  The lyrics are meaningful and varied, I like that.  Not much else is going on here though.  I feel like they were finished with the album, and their label was like–we need one more song to fill it out.  So the band hurried and wrote something on a napkin then hastily recorded it.  It’s sort of a throw away, and will be forgotten quickly.

“Murder in the City” is an Avett Brothers cover.  And this is one of my favorites from them.  Brandi and the twins do a good job of it.  Brandi does the talk-singing well, and the twins are always exceptional with contributing harmonies.  The instrumentation is a little richer in this version, which I like, with the cello lending a deep, rich sound to this track.  My least favorite part of the song was the last 3 strums.  It was a lackluster finish that made me want to find the original song to see how it ended.  It also wasn’t a very strong song to finish the album on.  on the 2nd day listen I still thought this was an impeccable cover and good choice for the album.  The band did an awesome job conveying the same sound and emotion that the Avett Brothers had.  The only troubling thing is another abrupt ending, and possibly the placement on the track order.  I would have closed with “The Stranger at my Door,” because 1) it mentions the album title, tying the concept together and 2) that stand-out ending would be a big, big close for an album.

English Cowboy

While I’m on that point (of rearranging songs) I would have reordered this entire album.  “The Eye” was not in a place that capitalized on it’s wonderfulness.  There were times when the relief of a strong song would have improved things, and alternately, times when the quiet song was such a big drop in momentum it made me lose the mood.  In another post I’ll tell you the order I would do.

Brandi tim and philAfter the first listen I was disappointed.  Let me clarify, Bear Creek was so outstanding and became an instant favorite that really anything that followed would be a let-down.  But I think The Firewatcher’s Daughter is a solid 3rd place behind Beak Creek and The Story in the Brandi Carlile catalogue.  There are two types of albums:  The ones that are immediately awesome and the growers.  This one is the latter, featuring some songs with potential that I will listen to more.

I feel like the band tried to deviate from their normal genre in this album.  And that’s fine, but I feel a commitment to one type of sound would have been better.  As it is, The Firewatcher’s Daughter is not a cohesive work, but a collection of random songs.  Kudos for stepping outside of the box and trying something new, but the result feels a little contrived and scattered missing the mark.  Stick to what you’re the best at:  Lyrically-driven, songs featuring Brandi’s amazing voice and Phil and Tim’s harmonic additions.  And if you want to try something new–cool–but stick to that thing throughout.

At any rate, still love Brandi Carlile, still would kill to attend a concert–or even better several festivals, and I plan to listen til I love it.

Best Moments of 2014!

30 Dec

It was a good year, though not in the way of travel and events.  It was just a nice, stable year (for me, Cool was swinging up and down rapidly) which is what I needed.  Here are the bigger moments that were important from 10-best:

#10:  Getting to snowboard again

EZ123 3rd snowboard 118

I love being good at things!  And the instructors said I was a fast learner, and I felt confident on the slopes.  It was good to be back in the bindings.  Cool’s accident and resulting ambulance ride, emergency room visit (and those bills) lower this 2014 moment to closer to the bottom of the list.

#9:  Bike Swap and Snowboard  Swap

bike swap 4-10-14 017

These were really exciting adventures!  The research, the shopping, the event.  And the dreams for our future sports endeavors–not to mention our purchases were super-fun.  And Cool and I got along famously at both–no bipolar issues these weekends-whew.

#8:  Finishing my post-bac at Riverpoint (and keeping my 4.0 GPA)

CN ref both flaps open

The anticipation had been killing me.  I looked forward to this for TWO years, so when it happened it felt pretty sweet.  This is low on the list because the huge accomplishment (in my mind) was a little underscored by others and didn’t receive the acclaim I felt it deserved.  Finishing 27 upper-level courses in an entirely new and unfamiliar field–WITH straight A’s is a big deal in my mind–even if it didn’t garner me an actual degree.

 #7:  Two DMB shows–with SEATS.  And Brandi Carlile to open both shows.

celebrate we will 3

Usually this would take the #1 spot–and having 2 shows with seats–it SHOULD.  But Cool and I had probably our worst fight ever the first Friday so it’s not the perfect memory I anticipated and desire.  Obviously, it still makes the list because, hello, the Gorge, Brandy opening (and acknowledging our sign), DMB, the setlist game, merch, and SEATS!

#6:  Being named a finalist in a noise-induced hearing loss prevention poster contest!

NIHL color pic

I enjoy showing my creativity, and who doesn’t like winning something?  My poster will be featured at the annual AudiologyNOW conference and may even win!  In which case I get all proceeds for the life of the poster.  It’s cool and it’s exciting.

#5:  The relief I felt when I quit veterinary assisting

retirement from vet med 013

Even though the financial consequences were scary, I instantly felt better.  Removing those toxic influences was difficult, but well worth it.  It was time to go, and I’m in such a better place since I did.  I just had enough, and it feels good to be away.

#4:  Going to MT over Independence Day and My birthday

Cool Grizz attack

This one’s slightly lower, because before we left home, Cool was an irritable turkey so that puts a bit of a damper on the memory.  Pow-Wow is always fun, but this item is down in the rank because I had a bad allergy attack.  Leaving pow-wow to stay at a hotel in Missoula was amazing.  One of the best showers of my LIFE!  The bathtub was full of dust, and my allergens (temporarily washed away).  It felt nice staying in an oversized room with a TV and sleeping in a cozy bed instead of car-camping at the pavillion.  It was partially so nice because it was an unplanned treat and everything fell into place nicely–which rarely happens to me.  Also seeing how adorable Missoula is over my birthday weekend, and dreaming of “summering” there was exciting.

#3:  Satisfaction of running 1 mile every day of the year

house-sitting post run

It’s a really big deal, because not only am I really busy most of the time–I’m lazy.  I’m very proud to remain in shape, counter my poor eating habits, and do something not that many other people are able to achieve.  I’m going to see how many days in a row I can keep this up.

#2:  My parents visited!

Dad's 70th B-day visit 020

We had a week full of family activities and my dad turned 70!  Everyone (except Aunt Linda) was on their best behavior and I felt like a real family unit.  I loved that everyone had fun and Cool was made to feel 100% part of the family.  And all the free food and fun activities didn’t hurt my feelings either 😉

 #1:  The Sky-Fest Air Show

loading docktraffic jam in the sky

Was a genuinely amazing time, not ruined by bipolar, sunburns, or lack of funds.  Cool and I were together and both of us happy and excited.  We got to spend the day outside, and tour the planes, and spectate at the shows.  We got burned and thirsty, but we were still in great spirits.

Sunday: Redemption DAVE (+ forgotten details) [4 of 4]

15 Sep

See what I did there?

SUNDAY:

First thing in the morning I went for my run down River Road.  I however, did not repeat Saturday’s mistake.  I started my mile going up hill so that I could finish on a downhill and things worked out much better!  Also, it was beautiful running near a (un-poisoned) river, surrounded by forest and orchards.  Central Washington is very beautiful.  Too bad there’s no jobs.

33rd birthday camping 021

We hung out with Cool’s friend awhile longer before getting ready to go back to the Gorge.  I tried to fix my hair as I had planned and practiced, but traveling always makes my hair icky.  Maybe my travel shampoo is crummy. . .  My hair was very fly-away and I could tell I was going to have to stand there fighting with it for 40 minutes to get it to do what I wanted.  Instead, I took the easy way out and asked Cool’s friend (who owns her own hairdressing business) to do 2 french braids.  She asked if I wanted 4, and not wanting to take advantage or suck up her time, I said I thought 2 would keep my hair out of hair sundaymy face alright.

The wind was Kra-zzzy! It was reminiscent of Nevada. I wished I had asked for 2 more french braids because my hair would not stay out of my face for 0.2 seconds. I hate that!

Our tailgating was fun–Cool beat me in 3 straight rounds of Go Fish and even let me draw an eyeliner Firedancer on her forearm.  I looked at the sticker on her car window for proportions, but it’s hard–and you can’t (easily) erase errant marks when working with skin and eyeliner.  I did the best I could, and Cool looked a little skeptical of the results and said she might remove it.SEATS-the gorge 042

We continued to eat and drink our snacks, having plenty left over for the ride home, and the next week even.  It was fun and everyone was on their best behavior and getting along.  Soon, random people parked in our vicinity came over to ask about Cool’s home-made arm tat.  They exclaimed at how awesome it looked!  I was like, “Thanks for coming over–she didn’t like it!”  And the gal said she’d tried to draw one too, but it proved very difficult–even though the Firedancer looks simplistic.  The guy agreed it was a good rendition, and they walked back to their car.  After that Cool seemed proud of it.

I had to change out of my super-cute flip flops.  Because my feet were still boneless, skinless chicken from the plastic damage Friday.  And they matched my outfit and necklace PERFECTLY!  But alas, I had to put on my sensible running sneaks, and thankfully they were orange and matched my outfit.  Though They were certainly not as cool or cute.

no more flops

We went into the venue early again to check out that night’s poster and merch.  Before we went in I should mention that I checked, confirmed, and double checked with Cool whether we should bring the poster along.  It was very, VERY windy and gusting terribly, and if she wasn’t going to hold it, I didn’t want to bother around with it.  As a matter of fact, had we actually held it Friday, I wouldn’t have taken it around again, because the wind was so severe.  She said she wanted it, so I carried it around, in the wind, again.  That night’s special collector’s edition poster was a dinosaur!  So we bought it to commemorate the occasion, as well as a shirt for whoever would win the setlist game(I knew I would!)  that night.

We went looking for our seats knowing these would be further back (row 22 vs 13 on Friday) and realized that our section was much closer!  We were actually front and center, rather than skewed to stage right, and 22 rows counted the pit!!!  We were actually 7 chairs back 😀  These were amazing tickets (thanks Mom and Dad!) and this was going to be a good, good time.

They also have a (new?) viewing area we had never noticed before.  It was immediately adjacent to the stage and overlooked the gorge canyon and Columbia River.  It was a beautiful view except for 3 things:  They made you wear an alcohol arm band to get in, after checking IDs (apparently kids are not allowed to look at nice scenery), the wind was crazy on an edge, with no wind barriers, and there was so, so, so much TRASH.  People from the venue had tossed or lost their empties.  Or the wind caught it and the staff didn’t bother to pick it up.  It really marred the vibe and made me disappointed in humanity.  Such a nice spot ruined by beer cans. . .

20140829_15523620140831_163117

Dave always does this really cool thing and comes out to personally introduce the opener.  It makes the audience feel like Dave likes them so we should give them more of a chance–which is neat.  Because usually, the crowd is a little disgruntled and unaccepting of whoever is keeping them from the headliner.  Dave came out (per the usual) to warm us up to Brandi.  But I was unimpressed by what he said about her, “She’s hot.”  Instead of saying how talented she is, or how nice, he decided to objectify her.  Which I’m sure he did for the testosterone-fueled fratty staple fans, to get on to her.  After all, the dude knows his audience–but I didn’t like it all the same.  And he did this both nights we attended, adding in Sunday the twins were also hot and he’d follow the band around to look at them *gag*.

Brandi played almost the same setlist all 3 nights. Which was good, but she has a large enough catalogue that she didn’t have to. And even if she wanted to stick with covers instead of all her own material I think Johnny Cash would have gone over well. And John Denver. But no complaints here–she is always a treat to watch. I just wondered about the rationale.  But the crowd caught on big-time to her (they always do) and filled in much earlier then they had Friday.  I was glad to see Brandi had made so many new fans.  Though also unhappy because the more fans she gets, the harder it will be to meet her–and the more crowded and expensive her concerts.  She’s no longer our little secret.

Cool and I did some swaying together during her set, but the wind was outrageous, and kept blowing my hair in my face.  Which I can’t stand.  And Cool wanted to hold the poster instead of propping it under a chair as we had Friday, so she really had to work to hold it.  But we had fun together anyway.  We were out to have an exceptional time on Sunday.

We held our “Raise Hell Brandi” sign up high and since we were close and center, she actually saw it and pointed at it, Brandi with our sign 2acknowledging us!!!  What a moment!  I gave her a thumbs up, not knowing what the procedure is supposed to be when a famous person points at the sign you worked so hard on, carried through gusting wind for an afternoon, and held up with a death grip to keep from blowing away.  After that, I got cold and wanted to put on my sweatshirt–but just in case Brandi saw us later or wanted to meet these fans who made HER a sign at a DMB concert, I wanted to be sure I was wearing the same, recognizable bright tank I’d been wearing when she pointed at our poster.

I needn’t have worried, because I did not see Brandi after she left the stage.  Of course.  But the DMB fans were filtering in, and I was really hoping the crowd around us would not be pushing and smoking this night.  Dudes sat next to us.  One was asking me all kinds of questions, and I couldn’t tell if he was a friendly sort or getting his flirt on.  But then he asked me who I came with (Cool was in the bathroom at the time) and I said my mate.  Nobody understands what the Fu(k that means, but I like it.  And I absolutely HATE “partner” or worse, “lover.”  And “girlfriend” doesn’t really do us justice anymore, so “mate” it is–confusing or not.  Another drunk dude stumbled slowly down our row, and my neighbor said he was surprised when rainbow 8that dude passed us, as he thought it was my mate.  I had to explain that oh no, my mate is a short gal.  And my neighbor immediately turned to his friends–I’m pretty sure to say how unlucky he was that the chick he’s trying to scam on is gay.  But I couldn’t hear the, so maybe not.  When Cool came back, he of course made some suggestive jokes about a threesome–as ALL dudes do when confronted with lesbians.  But he was more funny than disgusting or offensive so we took it light-heartedly, and continued joking around with him throughout the night.  He didn’t come off as an aggressive creeper, and we were determined to have a better night.  And none of the people around us smoked!  Thank goodness.

I forgot to mention in the first writing that I got up to get water between acts.  The Gorge water is in some kind of milk carton.  It’s recyclable, and they can ship it flat for efficiency, and it was a huge hit in our seating area.  Everyone first wanted to know if I was drinking milk at a concert, then wanted me to read the carton’s benefits off the side for them.  When I came back to my seat, I thought somewhere along the line I might have stepped in $hit?!  I even checked the bottom of my sneakers (thank goodness no flops), but they were clean.  I looked about, thinking there must be poo about because it smelled.  I never did find it.  Maybe it was always there but the wind had been so wild it carried away the odor.  With all the people surrounding us the wind wasn’t so drastic, and I think it was settling down toward the evening.  But the smell–was awful!  Some super-drunk dude went down our row, talking as he stumbled.  When he was passed, one of our new seat buddies said his breath smelled of vomit.  He puked on the ground behind us apparently, and the venue did their best to clean it up amongst all the people, but could only do so much without chemicals and a hose.  I wondered what you have to eat for vomit to smell that bad.  It smelled like he ate $hit and vomited back out.  And that sort of lingered throughout the concert, lucky us.

Right before the show, of course, a tall, broad shouldered man stood immediately in front of us.  I’ve come to expect that, but this dude was like 6’5″ or taller, and his wife was an amazon too.  It pretty much obscured our view unless we craned around them one way or another.  Still, we were going to have fun, and going to see the stage since we got such stellar seats!

stage--gold light-blueDave came out and we held our sign up several times.  We played the setlist game and the people around us offered their inside knowledge of Saturday’s setlist and suggestions for what would get played this night.  Also, the people around us were quite excited about our sign, wanting to know what it said, encouraging us to hold it up, spotlighting it with a flashlight, and offering to get us Carter’s drumsticks if he threw one toward our poster.  It was a great vibe.

Ugh–the Lovely Ladies showed up. I can’t stand the way they change the sound of DMB, and they were a huge factor when I wasn’t an earlier fan of the band. Crash was amongst my 1st 12 CDs ever, but I hated Lovely Ladies and thought they were permanently part of the band’s sound, so strayed away from their music. I could ignore them on 2 songs, but they absolutely ruined “You and Me” which is normally one of my faves, and Cool and I were swaying to it–having a moment.

Cool and I danced, sang,  and got along famously throughout the whole show.  At one point we laughed and laughed because as Dave was singing “Squirm” the lyrics went “open your mouth and $hit comes out” which reminded us of the vomit.  And it was much better then Friday.  I had a DMB blue green lightsreally nice time at the show, and with her.

They ended the encore with “Shake me like a monkey” or as we like to call it–kick in the dick. Sorry Dave, you just can’t force a closer. If a song isn’t encore material, no amount of playing it last will make it so. Next time–“2 step.” Or just stop at “The Stone” because that would have been different and awesome.

I had to clean Cat’s Meow one last time, and thought I might try to get it done Monday.  And I thought I should do some studying the next day.  The concert ended at 11:35 PM (I just checked my FitBit step time to confirm this).  So instead of camping again (though it’s lovely) I decided to be a big-girl and drive us home that night.  What I didn’t anticipate was all the (drunk) traffic.  It took us a literal 20 minutes just to get out of our parking spot.  Then, it took another half hour to slowly wind through the dark, unmarked roads to I-90.  With normal traffic it takes about 15-20 minutes total.  So we didn’t really get going until 12:40AM (I know this because we stopped at the first rest stop to get snacks within reach and pee–and my FitBit recorded those steps).  It’s a 2.5 hour drive, but I can never fall asleep in a non-bed situation.  Cool stayed awake and talked to me the whole time, which is unusual and awesome.  Having company without nagging for it worked out a lot better!  I started getting really tired around 2:30AM, but we were IN Spokane, so we didn’t have far to go at all.  And I have to say, that drive was much better in the dark.  Between Mosis Lake and Cheney, there is nothing but dirt, so I actually felt like the time passed faster.  Maybe we’ll drive in the dark again next time we have to go through there. . .

I wasn’t as productive as I had hoped Monday, and of course I couldn’t clean work because the book-keeper was already there when I showed up.  But it was nice to be home and have a whole day to rest before school and work resumed.

Sunday panarama

So there it is–the whole Labor Dave Weekend + Brandi Carlile story of 2014.  Cool has been to the Gorge to see DMB 24 times–and saw him in CA an additional 3 times) so she’s a big fan.  And these were my 3rd and 4th shows.  I wish it could be an annual thing, but I’m afraid this might be our last year.  Next year, we’re (barring school rejections) moving to Utah, and it’ll be too far, and too expensive to go during the school year.  Maybe DMB or Brandi or both (are you guys reading this???!!!!!  Hint, hint.)  will play Red Rocks and we’ll get to go there instead. . .

LaZY DAVE Saturday [3rd post of 4]

11 Sep

Sorry for the delay!  It’s been a busy coupe of weeks shifting into all my new schedules.  And I already have a test next week!  And I’m having to go to work (4 hours) extra for obligatory training.  So blogging has been low on my priority list.  But I’m waiting to go into work for an hour–so here it is:

SATURDAY:

We didn’t get tiks for Saturday. Because they’re too expensive, we’d be too tired and dirty, and the crowd is over the fratty line for us.

We woke up at our secret camping spot (feathers) which is a GORGEous location to wake up and I’m not sure why so many people pay big bucks to party on top of each other, when this is a few miles away, quiet, FREE and relatively empty (4 caps Friday night) but I’m glad they don’t.  It’s lovely to have it to ourselves.  I ran my obligatory mile.  I didn’t notice anything awry on the way out of the camp site, other then loose gravel on the road that was a little slippy for my liking.  But on the way back, I found that it was UPhill all the way.  And against the wind.  Needless to say, I got my sweat on.  But it was one of the most beautiful runs ever, overlooking a canyon with bay salt walls, with windmills in the distance.

SEATS-the gorge 023

We take pictures at this beautiful scene each year we attend the concerts.  But I should have done it before my run, because I look sweaty and windblown and none of the pics are suitable for Facebook.  Then, we ate more of our wonderful snacks and smoothies on the way to River Road where Cool’s friend lives.  We had wanted to visit her for several years, but 2.5 hours proves to be a bit too far for school, and 2 different work schedules to manage.  Mostly, we’re locked in Spokompton–which is why this summer was special with only a few hours of my time scheduled and just Cool’s job to work around.  Anyway, we did plan on seeing Cool’s school pal this time. I was excited for a shower, Cool was excited to go to the lake and sleep in a real bed. And we were ready for a BBQ (having brought brats, dawgs, and chips from home). But our host had a migraine and was out of commission.

Which ended up working out OK, because we were tired, and recovering from our fight from the night before. So we showered, napped, watched TV (we’re now hooked on “Criminal Minds” on Netflix) and vegged out all day.  But then our host’s father (who was supposed to BBQ) needed stitches so those plans were also off.  But Cool’s friend started feeling a little better.  I had asked Cool when we arrived at 10AM if she had her pills, and she said she didn’t.  Cool finally LOOKED to see if she brought some Rx migraine pills, and turns out she did, so her friend got a pill around 4PM.  We got to chat a little, and went to bed relatively early, missing Saturday’s concert as planned.

SEATS-the gorge 032

And of course (as is our luck), fans are calling Saturday the best show of 2014. The setlist we’d die for occured.  Here’s some stats from AntsMarching:

Fri:

= 16.7% Away From the World

= 4 star rating

= rarest song is Rapunzel

= rarity 7 of 42 summer concerts; overall = 26.32

Sat:

= 20% Remember Two Things

= 4.5 star rating

= rarest song is So Much to Say-Too Much tease-into Halloween!

= rarity of 8 of 42 summer shows; overall = 24.76

Sun:

= 21.7% Under the Table and Dreaming

= 4.5 star rating

= rarest song is Loving Wings or Steady As We Go (played once during the summer tour)

= rarity of 2 of 42 summer shows; overall = 26.19

I have no complaints about our setlists, but you always want what you don’t have I guess.  I had put “So Much to Say”-tease-closer on my setlist wishlist and that would have been amazing to see.  And obviously, we were devastated Brandi did a duet with Dave (only on this night). I heard rumors Brandi did a meet & greet Saturday.  Of course.  Because that’s my luck.  If we had gone Friday and Saturday, this would have occurred Sunday.  If we had gone all 3 days, it wouldn’t have happened at all.

But we got clean and rested and did some visiting Saturday so we had a good time and didn’t yet know what we had missed.  Next up–Sunday, the final concert!

Fri-disappointment [post 2 of 4]

8 Sep

FRIDAY was not our worst Gorge experience ever.  In 2010 we had tickets and got there Sunday for the show–only to find out our tickets had been for Saturday.  And the venue was $hitty about it and wouldn’t honor them even though they could tell they’d never been scanned.  And they wouldn’t even downgrade us to lawn.  They said we could purchase 2 lawn tickets for $100 (extra).  So we went home, having missed out.  So this wasn’t that bad, but it’s a close 2nd worst.

I wish I could say Friday was amazing and everything I’d been looking forward to for so long. It truly makes me sad I can’t.

There was a parking situation.  They made brand new paths to drive on–which is a lot better because they criss-crossed the whole lot.  So there would be less waiting in line to leave when that time came.  Our flag lady, however, was not doing her job.  She didn’t indicate which path Cool should take.  We rolled down the window and Cool asked and received a reply I didn’t hear.  Later, Cool told me she said, “follow the path and park.”  NOT helpful.  But Cool didn’t persist for clarification.  And the thing about Cool is she folds under pressure and recedes inside herself when presented with any kind of choice in a perceived pressure situation.  She has generalized anxiety on top of her bipolar.  For me, it means she totally shuts down and freezes, doing nothing.  Meanwhile leaving me, the passenger, to control the situation–from afar.  It’s stressful for her and frustrating for me.  Well, that happened, putting damper #1 on our time.

But we were ready to tailgate!  We had all kinds of snacks, and bevs, and playing cards.  Before the concert we had fun.yellow skirt tailgate Fri

At 3PM, the venue opened for the Caravan Acts (we didn’t care about).  But I like to be early and we both wanted to check out the merch before it got picked over so I grabbed our awesome poster and we lined up.  Smokers were in front of us and behind us in the line.  I realized how spoiled we are as Washington residents, that not a staggering percentage of people smoke.  But there were a lot of out of staters for the crux of the summer concert series, so we had to endure it.  But not without some loud grumbling.  The poster was a little unruly to carry because the wind kept wanting to gust it away.  So I had to use my arm muscles to keep it from bending or flying away.  It would be well worth it later!  As we approached the front of the line, I noticed there were 8 security stalls, all of them manned–but people were only standing at the first 2.  And the security people at the later stalls were goofing off.  I told Cool to follow me and went from the 2nd long line, so the 5th completely empty stall.  And made it all the way inside in about 2 seconds.  I turned to celebrate with Cool, and no Cool.  Where did she go?  I waited on the other side of the lines expecting her to come right through.  Nope.  I went up to the gate to look for her.  Not only had she not followed me, she was no longer in any line.  She was waiting in a random area–crumbling from the pressure.  Again.  Frustrated, I yelled for her.  Her hearing loss and panic prohibited her from hearing me.  I had to go back out and grab her and get her.  I actually was so frustrated at her inability to function enough to go through an effing line I thought about just going to our seats–but she was holding our tickets.  When I grabbed her she said she lost me.  Even though I wore a bright yellow skirt and was holding a large, colorful poster. . .  Damper #2 on our time.

It was more windy then it had been at our past concerts.  Wind is my least favorite weather.  But my hair was back out of my face in a cute hairstyle, and my skirt had built in shorts and looked cute and flouncy when it whipped around.  BUT I forgot my fire shoes. Sneakers that matched my adorable outfit, yet were comfortable to walk across dirt, weeds, and up & down all the hills. So my plastic flip-flops ate the skin off my feet and got wet and sweaty.  I also forgot a coat/sweatshirt/longsleeve Sidenote: I really cannot change plans at the last minute. I was going to wear my whole outfit in the car and had it all (including the 2 aforementioned articles) set out. Then, I decided I didn’t want to get car slur on my nice stuff so I’d wear grubbies on the 2.5 hour drive and change. Back to point. I (we both) got cold. And there was nothing to do except A) be miserable and distracted for 7 hours or B) buy expensive outerwear at the merch stand. So I shelled out $65 for a sweatshirt and Cool $65 for a zip-up. Which we will both wear, but probably wouldn’t have bought if temperature wasn’t a factor.

sweatshirt on Friday

Brandi Carlile did an awesome job!  As always she got the crowd going, and I think made a lot of new fans.  They added banjo to “100 years” and it sounded outstanding-I hope I can get hold of that live version!  Also, Brandi ended the 1st song, there was a pause, and it looked like Brandi saw our sign.  Then she said, “Raise Hell” (our sign said– Raise Hell Brandi), there was another pause–then they played “Raise Hell.”  I’m pretty sure because of our sign.  So that was awesome.  She also did a rockin’ cover of Fleetwood Mac and “Nothing Compares to You,” in which the band ROCKED OUT.  It was amazing per the usual.  Though she played as a true opening act, doing covers instead of her own extensive, and popular, catalogue.  But honestly, I like anything Brandi Carlile does, so I didn’t mind at all.

There was a half hour break between sets and our section filled in.

We had seats pretty close to the front (row 13) but any seat at all is better then none.  Except we got surrounded by smokers. row 13-section 104--FriReally?! I guess cause Friday is big for out of staters who have to start going back home on the later days? Go home now!  I absolutely hate smoking, because I have to smell it and stink too.  And Cool hates it because her mom (who smoked for 40 years) is on Oxygen due to severe COPD.  And it was on all sides and disgusting and obnoxious. And since they were also drunk (I had never noticed before that everyone is) they had no consideration and chain-smoked puffing right on us.  Gross!

Cool was seated by Mr. Obnoxious. He was a drunk smoker, he was loud and pushy, and he crowded both of us out of our space. Like far away, so that the people on the other side of me were skewed also and complaining.  Cool was in front of my seat and I had to cram between my seat and the person on the other side of me.

When Dave Matthews got on stage, we held up our poster.  But Cool tried to pull it down after only .4 seconds.  And I was like, what’s going on–hold up our awesome poster!  She refused, not wanting to hold it at all.  She tried to renege on holding up our poster 😦 Which had been her idea, and we worked hard on it, and it looked amazing, and I had to carry it around in the wind pre-show.  But she wouldn’t.  Damper #3 was the straw that broke the camel’s back.  I became infuriated and disappointed with her. I was really pissed at her and it really made my time worse then it could have been.

stage--brown-plum

 

The setlist was great. We were at the Gorge! We had seats! Yet, things weren’t right with Cool and me, so it sucked.  I almost cried when “our song” “Crush” got played.  We were not in a good place, so it was really sad and sucky.  And the band played every sexy and romantic song they had because Dave’s wife and kids were in the audience–so fighting with Cool was the worst!

stage--red

But I was really mindful about tuning out the extraneous (anger/disappointment in Cool, SUPER-Douche crowd around us, and non-stop smoking) and look at the lighting, the band, the stage, the sky.  Think about how lucky I was to be there, and in good health, and have seats, and be sober.  Lucky

Still, I ended the night in crocodile tears, very disappointed in how the day was ruined.

Next installment, Saturday of Labor Dave Weekend + Brandi–away from the Gorge.

2 Nights of SEATS [post 1 of 4]

7 Sep

We looked forward to the Gorge all year, really.  Last year we saw 1 of the 3 shows (Sunday) from the lawn.  Sunday is a great vibe, and my favorite crowd.  A lot of the out of towners start home to make it back to work.  It’s also a really good crowd because travel, camping, partying, and carousing for a few days and nights prior, really does a lot to mellow everyone out.  a.k.a.–the fratty and crazy people act less douchi because they’re tired and hungover.  The downside to Sunday is the venue runs out of everything!  Which, they know DMB is all three days of the weekend, and they’ve been doing this for over ten years so you’d think they could have some numbers expectations and a little pre-planning, but noooo.  It was especially a problem for beer (in the past, when we drank) because all the good kraft beers were long gone by Sunday, and I hate fratty, cheap piss-water, and refuse to drink it.  And that makes sitting back in the grass with all the obnoxious weirdos difficult.  You have to have a buzz on to tolerate it at all.  SO this year we wanted to do it right and get seats.

But seats are expensive.  And tickets went on sale during my last week of work, when I had already quit my job, but before I had any new work (income) prospects.  And my hair gets too greasy to camp for multiple nights in a row without showers.  And with little sleep (camping conditions) I get crabby and Cool is completely non-functional.  So we planned to take Saturday (peak fratty audience day, peak attendance) off to relax.  And my parents bought me an early, early birthday present of one of the four tickets–meaning I could get closer seats, because I was only paying for half of the pair.  YAY!!!  And employed Cool got the others pair, which were slightly further back.  But let’s face it, even the farthest back seat in the venue is still a SEAT and still better than lawn.  So things worked out perfectly (for finances and sleep and showers).  More on this later.

20140829_155236

Sitting in SEATS is better for a number of reasons:

-weirdos are on the grass (I mean, they are insane:  bras and no shirt, hard-core making out, drunk, screaming, smoking, generally being super-annoying)

-it’s colder and more windy on the grass

-the grass is far, far away–even the jumbo-trons look small.  The (cell phone) pictures are teeny or with editing look pixelated and crummy.

-you do not have an assigned location of the grass = people get in your grill or sit/stand/dance immediately in front of you obscuring what little view you had.

-Since the bathrooms are in no way gated off, they’re inconvenient to get to, and get a lot more use a.k.a dirty–er.

What Went into SEATS at The Gorge:

We planned to have incentive/reward for no alcohol with actual seats at the Gorge in November

We saved our money to buy tickets since Christmas

We purchased our tickets in Feb

We planned our visit/shower/bed with Cool’s friend almost immediately after the tickets were purchased

We planned our food and bev all summer

We planned and made our poster all of August

We prepped everything for 2 weeks in advance

We got car chalk to feel cool during the drive and painted slogans on the windows–“Labor DAVE weekend!!!” “DMB or BUST” and “Brandi Carlile <3”

 

walk about day 2 001

This is the first semester at Riverpoint I’ve ever had class on Friday.  They used to only have courses Mon-Thurs, but last year the main campus in Pullman had issues with drinking and debauchery, so the WSU system put classes every day to break those party days up.

Which is irrelevant for our branch campus for many reasons:

-we are a medical campus (hello, hard-science students have to actually STUDY)

-being a branch campus, there are substantially less of us

-mainly older students attend Riverpoint (Juniors and up) so we’re generally not as adventurous/stupid

-there are no dorms/frats here

-the economy is $hitty = less restaurants/bars/clubs to be naughty

But they don’t care, it’s a WSU-wide thing, so I have to attend class (Neuroanatomy, unfortunately) Friday from 11-noon (late!).  It’s very inconvenient for me, and in the past would NEVER have worked with my Forster-fire Fridays.  Which was one of the 3 full days I worked consistently my whole duration of employment (Monday and Saturdays were the others).  It would have been awful if this had started ANY sooner then it did, I would have been forced to quit Cat’s Meow sooner, because getting rid of Fridays was not an option and leaving in the middle = impossible.  This year, I just had the concert to contend with, not work (thank God!).  As such, I skipped class for the first time in the 6 semesters I’ve been attending school here.  And normally, I would have felt guilty, worried about what I’d missed, and stress out more then it was worth–but I’m the new, relaxed version of me now.  So I skipped and had fun and tailgated as planned.

IMG_20120901_174716                                                                                                              pic from 2012, obviously

Speaking of Drinking–We Weren’t/Aren’t

I was a little concerned about not drinking.  At a concert(S).  That’s historically been a big part of the whole tradition, as well as a means to survive all the crowds, the dirty SaniHuts, and fratty D-Bags.  BUT we got the seats, and we found awesome machtail recipes and spent a week making them and froze them in water bottles so they would even be cold for tailgating.  And really, I didn’t miss drinking during tailgating or the concert at all.  Inside the venue, the Gorge must have contracted with Bud Light because that was the only beer we saw, and believe me I was not jealous or tempted by that.  Also, I had never previously realized that 99% of people at concerts are DRUNK.  Like acting obnoxious, smelling strongly of alcohol, slurring, staggering, some falling.  That was weird.  But being sober around it didn’t ruin my time at all.  And I didn’t feel inhibited about dancing or anything, because no one around us A)  mattered B) was aware enough to notice us C) was going to remember it.  Sobriety at concerts was just fine–a non-issue.  But only from SEATS.  I would have hated the shenanigans in the grass without something on board.

I was going to have a big master post, but changed my mind.  I know you guys wouldn’t read an entire looooong thing.  And also since I’m getting into the groove of school, work, and studying, posting multiple parts will help me give more (real) posts.

Standby for the story of Friday, coming next.