Monday, January 13, 2014

Top Ten Albums of 2013

Alright, I have dragged my heels enough on this.  There are still a couple of albums released in 2013 that I wish to purchase, but I can't wait all year to get this together.  I'm sure the same thing will happen this year that occurred last year:  I made my Top Ten list, then later bought albums that would have changed the whole list.  It happens.  In any case, I have more than enough albums from which to choose, and I believe I have finally hammered out the rankings. 

Last Year I bothered with Favorite Live Show and Live DVD, but come on.  We all I'm gonna pick Muse for that, so we'll just move along...

#10:  Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action by Franz Ferdinand
Favorite Tracks: "Evil Eye" and "Brief Encounters"

#9: Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die by Panic! at the Disco
Favorite Tracks:  "Nicotine" and "Girl That You Love"

#8: Such Hot Blood by The Airborne Toxic Event
Favorite Tracks: "Elizabeth" and "Bride and Groom"

#7: Mosquito by Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Favorite Tracks: "Sacrilege" and "These Paths"

#6: Modern Vampires of the City by Vampire Weekend
Favorite Tracks: "Don't Lie" and "Worship You"

#5: Bitter Rivals by Sleigh Bells
Favorite Tracks: "To Hell with You" and "Lovesick"

#4: In Rolling Waves by The Naked and Famous
Favorite Tracks: "Hearts Like Ours" and "Waltz"

#3: The Afterman: Descension by Coheed and Cambria
Favorite Tracks: "Dark Side of Me" and "Away We Go"

#2: Opposites by Biffy Clyro
Favorite Tracks: "Biblical" and "Accident Without Emergency"

#1: Tape Deck Heart by Frank Turner
Favorite Tracks: "The Way I Tend to Be" and "Plain Sailing Weather"

And there you have it!  There were some that came very close to making it in, but I knew if I let myself choose eleven, then I would want twelve, and then it would just grow from there until I just spent this post listing out every album I bought in 2013.  :\ 

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Sweet Serendipity

The most amazing thing happened today, and I have to share!  It kept me in a good mood all day!  Here's my story:

So, a few days ago, I ordered Coheed and Cambria's No World for Tomorrow from Amazon.  I'm missing three of their seven albums, so I thought I'd work on filling in the gaps.  Anyway, it came in today, which was exciting enough.  The mail came right before I left for work, so I just tossed it in my truck to listen to on my way in.  The case and liner notes were for CoCa, but when I opened the case, the CD didn't look right.  It was a bit too colorful, and I couldn't imagine what the letters SA had to do with anything in the Amory Wars, so I thought "Well,'s the wrong disc."  I figured I would pop it in anyway, just to see what was going on...

Well, it most definitely was not Coheed and Cambria.  My first thoughts were "SHIT, I was really looking forward to listening to that, and now I have to wait some moooooooore whine whine," but as I listened I realized that I recognized the voice that was sounding from my speakers.  I knew that I had heard that voice somewhere, so I began to skip through the songs to see if I landed on one I recognized.  No dice.  Now, it was driving me crazy.  How did I know that voice?

Then it hit me!

Remember my Valentine's Day love songs post?  One of my friends responded with a recommendation for one of her favorite songs by one of her favorite bands:  "Walk Through Hell" by Say Anything.  I really liked the song, so I downloaded it immediately, and I've been listening to it some since.  That song had made me curious enough to want to check out more by the band, though I hadn't gotten around to it yet.  Yep, you guessed it!  It was a Say Anything album in my CoCa case!  I listened to it all the way to work and all the way home, and I really, really like it! 

Okay, so this might not sound like much to you, but to me, this was amazing.  I mean, I still want No World for Tomorrow, of course, but I just kept thinking... Of all the cds that could have accidentally made their way into that case, it just happened to be one for a band that I was only introduced to a couple of weeks ago and have been wanting to investigate? 

I haven't even made it all the way through the album yet, and I love it.  I feel like we have a bond now.  It's just meant to be, right?

Here's a live acoustic version of one of my instant faves from the album:

Thursday, February 14, 2013

I'm not gonna write you a love song.....but I will share a few.

Maybe it's just because I've recently posted, and I still have the "write the blaggles" bug, but I thought that I would stop in and celebrate a little Valentine's Day by sharing some most excellent love songs. 

I can't put them in order because I have a lot of love for all of them, so I figured I would just alphabetize them (as I do with everything...). 

1.  "The Fastest Way Back Home" - Frank Turner

Darling, oh my darling, you know that everything that I do
Is to try to make me good enough for you

2.  "Forever" - Breaking Benjamin

This song is unlike any others that BB has ever written.  It's a gem from the first album that I otherwise wasn't really into.  It's a little bit of a dark topic, with this feeling of "well, I can't live without you, so let's just die together," but it's still a lovely song.

3.  "Love Song" - 311

Originally by The Cure, I have a particular fondness for this cover.  Not that I don't like the original, and I do have some Cure floating around my library.  I guess it's just that 311 is more my style. 

4.  "Something About Us" - Daft Punk

It might not be the right time
I might not be the right one
But there's something about us
I've got to say
Yeah, there's something between us anyway

5.  "Unintended" - Muse  (of course there's a Muse song.  There's always a friggin' Muse song)

You could be my unintended
Choice to live my life extended
You could be the one I'll always love

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Kim's Top 10 Albums of 2012

Ok, so I've been working on this off and on since the first of the year, and I've decided that it can't wait any longer. It's been months since I've posted, but who cares about that? This is important. I'm talking about my favorite albums of 2012. Best albums? No. My favesies? Yes. The difference is essential. This list will reek of my own personal bias. I'd go into why, but those of you who read this thing are probably already familiar with my usual hippie rants on music (love what you love, blah blah blah). Also, of course, this list has to be limited to albums that I actually own. If I've never listened to it, I can't very well weigh in, now can I? I put an insane amount of thought and soul-searching into this, so here it is, Kim's Favorite Musical Crap of 2012!!
Favorite Live Show:
Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls; 9/24 in Houston, TX - I kept meaning to sit down and type up my experience of that amazing night. Laziness took priority though, and it never happened. I never even uploaded my pics to facebook. I was in the front row with my best friend, and unlike the first time I saw him, this time, I knew every word to every song, except for the new ones, of course. There's something kind of exhilarating about being in some small, sweaty dive filled with two or three hundred people, all screaming lyrics and generally having the time of their lives. Not to mention that after the show, the drummer gave me his setlist, and I got Frank and ALL of the Sleeping Souls to sign it. Which reminds me, I keep meaning to frame that. I didn't get to see even a fraction of the shows that I saw in the epic 2010, but even if I did have a longer list to choose from, that night would have been hella hard to top.
Favorite Live DVD:
Frank Turner - Last Minutes and Lost Evenings (Live at Wembley)
Confession time! This category is total bullshit. I mean, not the category itself, but the fact that I'm including it on the list when I only purchased one new live dvd in 2012. Since there's absolutely no competition, it's pretty pointless to map out a favorite, but you know what? I DON'T CARE. I DO WHAT I WANT. (For the full effect, you need to say those lines a la Eric Cartman on the Maury Povich show) I've watched it so many times, and it never fails to fill me with warm, fuzzy feelings of delight. So there it is. Biased much?

Ok, so the main event, my own personal Top Ten albums of 2012!! Featuring super heavy bias towards my favorite acts. :D

#10:  Not Your Kind of People - Garbage
The first nine were pretty easy to pick, but choosing which album to put in slot ten was a struggle. In the end, I went with Garbage's first release in yeeeears. I've heard some fans complain that they don't sound exactly like the band they remember from the 90s. Well, what do you expect? That was nearly twenty years ago. No band is gonna sound exactly the same after two decades. I feel like they've made a natural progression over the years. They still sound like Garbage to me, but they meld well with today's music. Imo, anyway.  Recommended Track:  "Control"

#9:  Oceania - The Smashing Pumpkins
I have loved SP intensely for about fifteen years. I was nervous and excited for this album. Their eighth album was released digitally on their website one song at a time (and free, to boot), and while it was solid, it didn't quite have all the magic of their previous albums. Oceania did not disappoint though. Billy's songwriting skills are as true as they've ever been, and his style has matured and expanded to match the man he's become, rather than trying to harken back to the days of the boy he used to be. He's probably still an asshole, but I think he actually lets the rest of the band record their own talents in the studio now. In the old days, he used to go back and track all the guitar and bass parts himself, rather than use James' and D'Arcy's tracks. So if you're listening to those albums, what you're actually hearing is mostly all Billy instead of the whole band. Sorry, I stopped talking about Oceania. It's good.  Recommended Track:  "Violet Rays"

#8: The Afterman: Ascension - Coheed and Cambria
At some point along the way, CoCa decided to split this album into two, released four months apart.  I've recently bought Descension, and it's awesome so far. But I'm not here to talk about Descension. We're talking about the first segment, Ascension. They continue the tale of The Amory Wars, and this time, they explore some characters who haven't yet held the spotlight. I've always loved CoCa's albums because they're just so...interesting. Seriously, I don't think you can listen to them and be bored. Shifting styles that range from heavy, head-banging riffs to gentle lullabies; malleable melodies that begin quick and unorthodox, but are soon hammered into melodic lines that can almost be considered catchy... You just never quite know what to expect during any given song. Recommended Track: "Key Entity Extraction IV: Evagria the Faithful"

#7: Synthetica - Metric
Synthetica has it all: electronic tints, edgey guitars, dance beats, ethereal swirls, and all with Emily's innocent-sounding voice laced throughout. No one makes an f-bomb sound so sweet. I love this album more and more the more I listen to it (I should use the word more more). It's one of those albums where some songs may not immediately grab you, but then they sneak up on you and say "LOOK AT HOW FRIGGIN' AWESOME I AM." This album is just plain fun. Recommended Track: "Lost Kitten"

#6: Living Things - Linkin Park
Linkin Park is another band with a lot of division within their fanbase. I'm sure you've heard plenty of talk about how the LP of today scarcely resembles the LP of ten years ago, or maybe you think that yourself, and that's totally fine because it's true. I've said time and time again that it's only natural for bands to evolve with time. The sound is different now. As I said earlier with Garbage, it still sounds very Linkin Park to me. The band has been experimenting with a variety of sounds over the past couple of albums though, and personally, I think it's paid off. Living Things doesn't quite have the flare and unity of their previous effort, A Thousand Suns, but it's still a great album (imo, as always) that leaves me eager to hear where their next direction will lead them. Recommended Track: "Castle of Glass"

#5: Walk the Moon - Walk the Moon
This is the only debut album on the whole list. I fell in love with the lead single, "Anna Sun," the very first time I heard it. I typically only buy albums if I've heard a few of the songs on it, or if I have a history with the band. On a whim, I bought this one, despite not having anything to go on other than that one song. I'm so glad I bought it. As you can see, it's one of my favorite albums of the year. Seriously, it's catchy as hell. I can't wait for spring to come again. This is one of those albums that's just perfect for driving with the windows down. I'm looking forward to hearing what's next for WtM. Boys, you have caught my eye (ear? Whatever). Recommended Track: "Iscariot"

#4: Reign of Terror - Sleigh Bells
While there are a few tracks that resemble the majority of their first album, Reign of Terror features a slightly more melodic approach to noise pop. This album is still rich with texture though. It has always amazed me that they can achieve such a complex sound from such simple gestures. Most of the songs on this album consist of one repeated guitar riff or a circular keyboard phrase, yet none of the songs even approach repetitiveness. I think it would be so interesting to see this duo live. Recommended Track: "Never Say Die"

#3: Neck of the Woods - Silversun Pickups
Now we reach the top three! I knew that I had to buy this album after the very first time I ever heard the lead single, "Bloody Mary." I was a little late in listening to it, so the album had already been in stores for a week or two. I loved the singles I had heard from previous albums and had always meant to pick up some SsPu earlier. This album really got the ball rolling for me. It was one of those albums that kinda blew my mind with its sheer awesomeness. As soon as I absorbed it, I ordered their first two albums. Now, the band sits comfortably in my top ten favorite bands, possibly even encroaching on my top five. I know Brian's voice isn't for everyone, but I love it. I've seen them before, too, and he's pretty charismatic on stage. Their sound tends toward a dark color with a sexy edge. Speaking of sexy songs..... Recommended Track: "Here We Are (Chancer)"

#2: An Unwavering Band of Light - Jenny Owen Youngs
This album came out in February, but I didn't even hear of Jenny Owen Youngs until September, when I saw her open for Frank Turner. I really liked her sound and style, so I bought an album straight from her at the merch table. I kinda wish that I'd gotten her to sign it, but I had some other signatures on my mind that night. ;) I didn't really have the means to listen to the album until after I got back from that trip on September 28th, and then this other to-be-named album came out on October 2nd that sort of eclipsed this one, so it actually sat to the side for far too long. Sad. Then one day I remembered its fate, blew the dust off, and gave it the proper attention it deserved, and holy shit! Look what I was missing out on!!! This album is amazing! A. MAZ. ING. I kept it in my truck's cd player for about three weeks straight. I've downloaded a couple of songs from her two previous albums, but I think it's safe to say that I'll be buying them pretty soon. Recommended Track: "Born to Lose"

#1: The 2nd Law - Muse
Oh come on, did you really think that anything else would occupy this spot? I told you this list was hella biased. How could I possibly be utterly obsessed with Muse and not think that T2L was the most awesome album of the year? Okay, so I do know some people who are equally obsessed with Muse that were disappointed in this album. In all fairness, it is quite a departure for them. There were a few songs where my first reaction was "WTF IS THIS," but now, I love every second of it. From the oddity that is "Panic Station" to the super cheesefest of "Big Freeze," I love this album. It's barely another month until I get to see them live again, and I really can't wait to hear some of these new songs for the first time. What I found to be most interesting about the album was that it included two songs written and sung by bassist Chris Wolstenholme. There are mixed feelings about them amongst the Muser community, but personally, I think they're some of the best songs on the album, especially..... Recommended Track: "Save Me"

And there you have it! I bought a lot of albums in 2012, and I really did like them all, but those are my top ten. I recently purchased Gossip's Á Joyful Noise, but I need a little more time to marinate in it. I love it so far, and I think it really did have some potential to break in, but I was just too late in purchasing it. Also, Meiko released her second album in 2012, but I decided to backtrack and buy her debut effort first. It's superb, and if The Bright Side is anything like her eponymous album, I'll absolutely love it.

I'm expecting 2013 to be a pretty good year, too.  As I mentioned earlier, Coheed and Cambria has already released a great album.  Biffy Clyro just released their sixth album, which is on its way to me right now from the UK.  I've been trying to resist listening to anything from it until it's in my hands.  I'm pretty excited about this one.  Also, 2013 will see new releases from The Airborne Toxic Event and my beloved Frank Turner.  Even if nothing else too exciting comes out, I think those four alone will make up for it. 

Anywho, that's all for now.  Here's to a great 2013!!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

News and Reviews! (Halestorm)

First the news, then the reviews!  <-- Lookit!  A rhyme!

Frank Turner announced his next North American tour.  I glanced through the list, and there was nothing within a reasonable drive for me.  Dammit.  I mentioned to my fellow fans that there was nothing close enough to me, and that since I would be taking a week's vacation to Houston, TX, I wouldn't really be able to afford another trip to catch him.  Then one of said friends pointed out this little fact that I overlooked:  one of Frank's stops on the tour IS Houston, TX!!  So why not kill two birds with one stone?  I had decided on Houston for my vacation because my best friend lives there.  I shot her some texts to see if that week would work and if she wanted to go to the show.  She said yes, and yes!  So I bought our tickets, and they came in yesterday!  It's official!  On September 24th, I'll be seeing Frank Turner again with my bestie in Houston, TX!  Now, my mission is to make a fan out of her.  I believe I will send her a Frank mix soon. :D

So that's my news.  Now, to give you my thoughts on my recent album purchases!  I need to get these done now since I'm about to get SLAMMED with new albums in June.  Can't fall too far behind.

I believe the last album I reported in on was AWOLNATION's Megalithic Symphony.  My next purchases I actually made about a month or so ago, so these are a little late.  I bought Halestorm's The Strange Case Of... and Sleigh Bells' Reign of Terror at the same time.  Both were sophomore albums, and both were released this year (Sleigh Bells in February and Halestorm in April, I think).  Let's start with Halestorm.

I have Halestorm's debut album, and I absolutely love it.  It's one of those albums that I know every word to every song.  I don't listen to Halestorm seeking deep, introspective lyrics or anything like that.  They're just plain fun.  Their sound is more of a mainstream rock than what I usually listen to.  I use the term "mainstream" here NOT as a reference to public popularity, but as the actual genre.  I love Lzzy Hale's voice and her "bad girl" lyrics.  These are the things that made their debut album and their live shows so much fun.  I was eagerly awaiting the release of this second album.  However, I ended up being a bit disappointed.  I don't dislike it, and I don't feel like I wasted my money.  It's just not the homerun that the first album was.  I've been having difficulty describing what I feel is different about this one.  I guess it just doesn't stand out as much to me.  Musically, many of the songs sound like so many others out there already, and the lyrics feel a little less inspired.  As I said before, when I think of Halestorm, I don't think of deep lyrical meaning, but the first album at least felt a little more personal to me.  These sound a little more forced.  Example: "Welcome to the nightmare in my head/Say hello to something scary/The monster in your bed/Just give in and you won't be sorry/Welcome to my other side/Hello, it's Mz. Hyde."  I don't know...that just sounds more... "average" or "typical" to me than some of my favorite choruses from the first album ("What were you expecting?/Another lullaby?/Are you kidding?/You must be high/You must be high/Cause it was just one kiss").  Maybe it's the funny factor.  Their first album had a sense of humor and a level of sarcasm that isn't present here.  Yeah.  I feel like that nails it pretty well.  It's not that it's totally absent though.  Songs like "I Miss the Misery," "You Call Me a Bitch Like It's a Bad Thing," and "American Boys" resemble what I loved about the first album.

Something else that I felt was considerably different about this album were the ballads.  The ballads from their first release featured a more serious side to the "bad girl" image that Lzzy seemed to be going for ("I'll tear you down/I'll make you bleed eternally/Can't help myself from hurting you and it's hurting me/I don't have wings/So flying with me won't be easy/Cause I'm not an angel").  Now, we find that the subject matter of the ballads has shifted over to more traditional topics of being a girl in love ("I am beautiful with you/Even in the darkest parts of me/I am beautiful with you/You make it feel the way it's supposed to be/You're here with me/You show me this and I believe/I am beautiful with you").  The only ballad here that I really like is "Break In," and I'm still not totally in love with it.  There's also a duet on the deluxe edition of the album with Sixx: A.M.'s James Michael called "Private Parts" that isn't too bad.

My favorite song on the album is definitely "Rock Show."  It has a fun beat, and lyrics that I know entirely too much about:  loving concerts, having to be in the front row, coming alive with the music.  Deep and transcendent?  No.  Hella fun?  Yes.

I like the album, but I'm not in love.  Top 5 tracks:
1. "Rock Show"
2.  "I Miss the Misery"
3.  "American Boys"
4.  "You Call Me a Bitch Like It's a Bad Thing"
5.  "Break In"

I think I'll break these up into different posts.  I'll get to work on gathering my thoughts on the new Sleigh Bells album!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

BealeFest, Day Three: YAAAAYYY!!

Again, no pics, camera sucks, blah blah blah, yadda yadda yadda.  Brief reminder, did not attend Day Two, had a wedding to attend, this that and the other, and we're moving on!

The first stop was the Bud Light stage to see Prosevere.  Not specifically for Prosevere.  There were no main draws for us in that time slot, and most of what we wanted to see was at that stage, so it seemed like a good place to start.  We grabbed a patch of grass by the fence.  Prosevere was decent enough.  I had never heard of them before.  I didn't dislike it.  Well, you know me, any live music is good music.  I guess I mean that if I heard them on the radio, I wouldn't immediately flip the station.  I might check them out a little more simply because I've heard them live.  Oh, and there was some bonus entertainment.  Though the festival had just started, a woman was already hurling everywhere.  Seriously, she threw up about five times.  I was like, "Cool.  She's really getting some projection."  *gag*  "I don't think *gag* I'm gonna *gag* watch her anymore..."

After Prosevere left the stage, there was some time to kill before Black Stone Cherry came on.  We wandered.  I grabbed a beer (which would end up being my only beer of the night.  I had to drive.  Poo.).  Found a merch tent!  Which means that I missed out on buying an Evanescence shirt Friday night.  Oh well, I've missed several shirts on this mission, so that's okay.  Anyway, I bought a CoCa shirt!  So I still managed to add one to my collection.  On a side note, I was checking out the dates on the back, and those guys are gonna be in Knoxville on the 12th.  Not like I can be there.  It just stands as a reminder that I used to live somewhere that was a stop on many bands' tours.  Aaaand now I live in BFE, where nothing cool ever happens.  Anyway, enough whining.


Black Stone Cherry!  I saw them three years ago at The Valarium in Knoxville opening for 10 Years.  I didn't fall for them then either, but I did enjoy them.  After I saw them then, I downloaded "Blind Man" purely as a reminder of seeing them.  They played it again this time.  I still didn't know it well enough to do more than recognize it.  Still, they were fun to watch, and I really like how throaty the singer's voice is.  I can't see myself ever wanting to pick up an album or seek out a show, but I won't be disappointed to see their name at a gig I'm going to.  I enjoyed seeing them again.  They seemed to really work in that setting, too.

Ok, by this point I'm getting antsy.  Coheed and Cambria is up next, and I bloody love them.  They're not as far up on my list as Evanescence, but I have a good, solid relationship with them.  I've always had a little trouble learning CoCa lyrics.  They're not as predictable as most songs, plus, in true new prog fashion, their songs rarely follow verse-chorus-verse-chorus formula.  I brushed up on their recent setlists and solidified what I could.  I was very pleased with their setlist.  I kinda ditched my companions a little bit for this one.  I used every opportunity to slide a little farther forward.  I think I actually only ended up maybe 20 feet ahead of them, but come on.  Every inch is another inch of awesome.  This show was a completely different experience from Evanescence.  The crowd for Evanescence was mostly general festival goers.  CoCa's crowd consisted of more actual fans.  By far, the best part of the show for me was when they played "In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3."  This eight minute monster of a song is epic enough on the album cut, but live, it left such a sweet taste in my mouth.  What made it all the sweeter was the energy in the crowd.  I was surrounded by fellow CoCa fans who were screaming out, "MAN YOUR OWN JACKHAMMER" right there along with me, fists in the air.  The best part was about seven minutes into the song.  On the studio track, a chorus swells over the main theme (I think with a song of this scope, it goes beyond a riff and constitutes a theme).  On stage, Claudio was tearing it up, and all around me, the crowd was the chorus, filling in that gap.  It was almost like we were part of the song.  It was pretty exhilarating.  If you haven't heard it, you probably have no idea what I'm talking about.  So go listen to it. :P That was my favorite memory of the night.  Oh, and did I mention that CoCa covered Gotye's "Somebody That I Used to Know?"  I had seen it on some of the recent setlists and wondered if they would straight up cover it or dress it up a little.  I figured the latter, and I was correct.  When they started playing it, I didn't immediately identify it until I heard Claudio sing the lyrics, "Now and then I think of when we were together." The rest of the crowd realized what was going on at that time, too.  I wondered how Kimbra's lines would be handled, but come on.  This is Claudio Sanchez we're talking about.  There's a reason my sister always thought CoCa had a female lead singer.  Claudio covered Kimbra's lines beautifully in a smooth falsetto.  I want this cover.  It was hella fun.  I think I'm gonna do my damndest to find a bootleg of it tonight.  It was an excellent marriage of Gotye's original and CoCa's unique style.  All in all, great show.  I had a blast.  And a new concert memory is born!

I was pretty worn out after that.  It was bloody hot.  Bush was onstage next.  I also wanted to see The Civil Wars in that timeslot.  Originally, I had planned on splitting that time.  However, I didn't bring it up to my group because quite frankly...I really didn't feel like getting back up after we sat down at The Civil Wars.  Lazy Kim was lazy.  Plus, I hadn't really eaten much that day.  I didn't eat at all before the festival, and I spaced 2 hotdogs throughout the day.  Probably not optimal nutrition for boosting energy in 90-degree heat...   But I digress.  Ok.  Back to The Civil Wars.  I had heard of them before, but never actually listened to them.  I really liked it.  It was good and mellow for my much-needed cooldown.  I picked up on a song that I especially liked.  I've already added "Barton Hollow" to my iTunes library.  I was very pleased with the show.  It still would have been nice to have been able to catch Bush, but I'm not exactly chastising myself for being lazy.

For the headlining slots of the night, we started off watching Alison Krauss & Union Station.  We got in quite close for that one.  It was interesting.  She's definitely not what I typically listen to, but for me, that was one of the most interesting things of the festival experience:  getting to sample so many different types of music.  It was pretty interesting to see her shred a fiddle. :D

About 20 or 30 minutes into her set, a few of us broke off from the group to check out Wiz Khalifa.  I had never heard of him, but I was curious after seeing the energy at the Lupe Fiasco show.  I felt it was prudent to check out a hip hop show properly. glad I did.  First off, I had brought my blinky glasses (my Musers know what I'm talkin' 'bout!!), and it was only dark enough to whip'em out for the headliners.  Alison Krauss wasn't really a blinky glasses kind of show.  Wiz Khalifa, on the other hand... yeah.  I was entirely too excited about being able to use my Muse glasses, haha.  The show was pretty awesome.  The crowd was so into it.  Weed was eeeeeeeeeverywhere ("Weeeeeed driftin' oooon byyy"), which was fitting, since just about every one of WK's songs was about smokin' the ganja.  What was particularly captivating about the show was all the glowsticks.  At some point, someone (a crew member, street team, or possibly even dedicated fans) threw tons of bundles of glow sticks into the crowd, which everyone promptly starting throwing around.  It really was kinda beautiful.  The lights on the stage, a sea of people (and smoke...), and glowsticks soaring through the air.  I wish I had a video.  I'm really glad I went over to see him.  I have since downloaded "Black and Yellow" into my library.  Good times, good times.

Though I still can't make the check on my bucket list, my first festival experience was incredible.  I want to go to a hundred more.  My most precious memories are from the various shows I've been to, and I made so many more in the span of just a couple of days.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

BealeFest, Day One: SUCCESS

So I have decided that I still cannot make another check on my bucket list.  It specifically says to attend an entire music festival.  With BealeFest, I will be attending 2 of the 3 days.  Still, it's an experience.  Day One was last night.  Before I go into detail, I'll give you a heads up that I don't have any pics.  My bastard of camera is crapped out, and no one around here sells the kind of battery that it uses.  So...poop.

The first bands went on at six, and we arrived just a hair after, so we didn't see Breathe Carolina take the stage, but I don't think we missed too many songs.  We still caught a good half hour of the show.  When I first bought the ticket, I had only vaguely heard the name Breathe Carolina before.  When I began my gig study, I decided to check out their biggest hit, "Blackout."  Love!! Sadly, I didn't get any further than that.  Thus, seeing them live allowed me to test the waters.  We hauled up to the mat, but hung back a little.  You know me, I don't care who it is, I wanna dig in and go crazy.  I reined it in a bit.  I jammed a little to "Blackout" though.  I really think I wanna pick up an album and investigate them a little more.  Would I see them again?  Definitely!  I've already made sure to recommend them to a friend who's going to Warped Tour this year.

For the next timeslot, we meandered down to the the farthest stage.  The first band, Northern Mississippi Allstars, was on.  I had never heard of them, but they had a very nice ambient sound.  I'm not adding them to the sidebar because I really didn't pay them much mind.  We met up with some friends of my friend.  They were spread out on the grass in the back.  I flopped down (all the way down, mind) and just stared into the sky, absorbing the sound and feel of the atmosphere.  I made a very happy tweet.  It was a moment.  Live music, fluffy grass, blue skies.  Why can't every day be like that?

We got up and headed into the crowd when the Northern Mississippi Allstars left the stage.  His friends were Needtobreathe fans.  They were my #1 choice for that timeslot, too.  I had never heard a single song by them before that night.  They came highly recommended though.  I believe her words were along the lines of "best live show ever."  She offered to loan me some CDs the night before the show, but I turned her down.  I was cramming hard for this festival, and I feared information overload if I tried to add another band in.  Let me say that I was very impressed with Needtobreathe.  I stayed for the entire show.  I don't know about "best live show ever" (I'm a Muse fan, remember?), but it was a helluva show.  I didn't know a single word, but I really enjoyed it.  I've already told my friend that I really need to borrow those albums now.  Would I see them again?  Most definitely.

The next timeslot was a little...problematic.  The three performers on the main stages were Florence + the Machine, Megadeth, and Lupe Fiasco.  Now, if there were no other factors, then of course I would have chosen Flo and hung out the whole time.  However...  I had been told that Megadeth is just one of those things that you have to see in life.  They're not my style and certainly not something that I would listen to at home or in my car, but I'll take just about every live experience I can get.  So that was one issue.  Another was that my main draw for that day (actually, for the whole damn festival) was playing on a different stage.  If I stayed for all of Flo, I would get to that stage after Megadeth had gone off and the crowd had rearranged itself.  I wanted to be there when that happened so I could shove myself as close to the front as I possibly could.  WHAT'S A GIRL TO DO???

Florence entered the stage just as I had expected her to:  awesomely.  I can't tell you what song she was singing.  The live show seemed very in character.  During the show, a third factor presented itself:  my concert buddy wasn't feeling it.  Since I was already feeling ambivalent about where I needed to be, I left with him after two songs.  Hence, I'm not sure if I can add her to my sidebar.  Yes, I've seen her live, technically.  But did I see enough to put her on the list?  Help me out, here!  Does it count, or doesn't it?  As soon as the opportunity presents itself, I will definitely go to one of her shows, so I'm sure I'll see her in full at some point.

We made it over to Megadeth only to be disappointed.  What the hell was up with the sound?  Something wasn't working right, so they sounded really quiet.  Yeah.  Megadeth.  Quiet.  WTF??  To all those people who told me to see Megadeth, sorry.  I don't think I was able to experience them like I was meant to.  I would never pay to go to a Megadeth show (as evidenced by the fact that I skipped them when they came to the Valarium), so I figured this festival could potentially have been my only chance to see them.  Bummer.  Who ever heard of a quiet Megadeth.  Party foul on the sound guys!  Still, it wasn't an utter loss.  I felt a little something.  Just the tiniest of stirrings.  NEED MOAR SOWNDZ!!

We wandered off from Megadeth to go check out Lupe Fiasco.  I don't know much rap, so I can't tell you a single song title by him.  Still, holy shit!!  That's probably where I should have been the whole time!  He had so much energy on stage, and the crowd was eating it up.  I had never been to a rap show before and had always wondered how they could be even a fraction of the fun a rock show is.  Well, Kim, there's your answer.  Energy.  It actually was rockin', too.  I'm really glad that I stopped by there and had a new musical experience.  In the end, I'm ultimately glad that I wandered around during that slot.  The only trouble is, do any of those performers count toward the 100?  Help me decide!  I haven't added them yet.

It was time.  Well, almost.  We got some water.  Holy hell, was I dry.  I didn't drink a drop of alcohol that night (waiting for Sunday to beer it up), but I woke up the next day feeling dehydrated like I was hung over.  Anyway, water in hand, we took a seat for a minute, then off we went to catch the end of Megadeth.  They ended.  The crowd began to disperse.  Said my friend, "Do you wanna get in there for Evanescence?"  Ummm, lemme think....HELLZ YEAH!!  I led the way, winding through the throngs of people until I was satisfied that I could not get any closer without seriously pissing some people off (which I briefly considered).  Still, we were much closer than I thought we would make it.  Had I had even my piece of shit camera with me, I probably could have gotten some nice pictures.  The front row would have been nice, but it being my first festival, it was nice to be able to wander and take it all in.

The wait was painful.  Hello, Top Five band here!  I could feel my heartbeat start to pickup while we waited.  I remember shuffling my feet and bouncing around.  I could feel this burst of energy coming on, with nowhere to direct it.  And then the lights went down...and I was blown away.  It was incredible.  You know those shows where you know every word to every song?  Yeah.  That.  I just let everything else disappear.  I'm quite sure I looked like a fat fool throwing my head around and bouncing around.  I did notice that the crowd was somewhat dead.  I imagine that's because it was filled with general festival goers and not Evanescence fans.  But the honey badger doesn't give a shit, and neither did Kim.  I was there to have a good time, everyone else be damned.  Today, my neck and right arm are sore, my feet are trashed, my ears are ringing, and I wouldn't trade a second of it.  I kinda feel sorry for the people around me.  I sang along to every note, and pretty badly.  It was loud, so I couldn't hear myself, but every now then I would catch it and realize how off key I was.  All those years of studying music, I assure you I can sing on pitch.  But not when I'm singing louder than my voice can go and can't hear what I'm doing.  A vocal major, I am not.  Oh well.  DON'T CARE.  I remember the guy in front of me kept plugging his ears every time I would scream.  Sorry dude.  Not gonna hold it in for you.  Sometimes he did it when I wasn't screaming, so perhaps that was evidence of how bloody terrible I sounded.  Again, I really didn't give a shit, haha.  I was having the time of my life.  Amy Lee looked amazing.  She sounded amazing.  I didn't hear her miss a note.  The show felt so great.  And, get this.  They played both of my favorite songs.  I'm not usually a ballad-loving person, but their new album has two absolutely beautiful ballads on it.  When I was studying up for the gig, I saw that both songs were sometimes played at their shows, and not always together.  I figured it would be about 50/50 that I would get even one of them.  But I got both!  Some asshole a couple of people down from me was jabbering away almost the entire time she was singing "Swimming Home."  I resisted the urge to punch him in the dick and yell, "SOME OF US ARE TRYING TO EXPERIENCE TRANSCENDENT BLISS HERE!"

Did Kim have an amazing night?  Yes.  Amazing doesn't cut it.  I don't know if they have a word for it.  Maybe one of those days I'll find it.  That night was up there with my nights with Muse, Smashing Pumpkins, and Linkin Park.  Good times, good times.  Sitting out today.  Had a wedding to attend.  Too stressful to try to make it down as late I would be and try to park and know where the hell I was going.  So I won't be back down until tomorrow.  Can't wait!  COHEED & CAMBRIA!!!!  Waaaaahhhhh!!!!!!  Full report to come!!