On the Road — Twice in One Weekend

Please, have a gander at where I went last night:

Skinny Puppy ticket
…and it was so nice…

If not for my friend Ernie alerting me, I wouldn’t have known about the show. Hell, I really didn’t know Skinny Puppy was still around. I had thought that the band dissolved after the release of 1996’s “The Process” (one of their best albums to date, imho). But, as I learned, Ogre left following a label struggle, and did his own solo and collaborative work with other bands. He and keyboardist cEvin Key later made amends and revived the dead Puppy. And you-know-who got to see them. Heh.


Needless to say, it was the loudest show I’ve ever been to. Some of the set was an exercise in ear-splitting white noise. An aural and visual treat. Ogre is a crazy maniac on stage, dancing, jumping, twisting and contorting in a way that would make Stone Temple Pilots’ Scott Weiland look tame. He had various props and things to keep himself occupied – one of them being a gas mask filled with a clear, viscous goop that he’d slurp and spit out at the throngs at the front of the stage. Also in his arsenal, being the man-with-a-message that he is, was a bucket of stage blood that he grabbed by the fistful. He’d hold out his arms in a cross-like stance and let the blood drip down his arms before he slung the blood from his hands. Totally tripped out.

I don’t know every song they played, but I do know that they played: “God’s Gift (maggots)”, “Worlock”, and “Sleeping Beast”. After their hour and a half audiovisual sledgehammer, they came out for a double encore and did two songs, including “Smothered Hope” for the second encore. I say “audiovisual” because of the video screen behind Ogre which played a ton of eyecandy, flashes of religious symbols, shots of mutilation, graphics of things obscene, computer images, footage of war, politics, Bush, Iraq, and so on. Seriously thought-provoking stuff. The screen polished off the show.

The first band was Tweaker. They are a good band, in their own right, but they’re not for “tweakers”; they’re obviously named after something like “knob tweaker”. The guitarist also played keyboards and lap steel, lending to a brooding, moody sound. The lead singer was good, but reeked too much of Clay Aiken in vocal style, singing stance, and clothing. The bassist was strong and used effects in a well-fattening way, and the drummer was a badass. Interesting stuff.

Ernie and I left Austin around 4pm and made it to Houston in decent time. Luckily the maps that I had drawn from Yahoo maps were accurate and clear; we made the right exits and found the right spots. The entire “Theater District” of downtown Houston has a two-level parking garage underneath; we drove around looking for the venue, couldn’t pinpoint it, so we ducked into a nearby garage entrance to park and walk around. After paying our $5, we walked up the nearest stairwell to the topside above ground and voila we were right at the venue steps. We basically parked underneath the front door.

We walked around in search of dinner before the 9pm show, and settled on the nearby Hard Rock Cafe for lack of anything else (that was my first time to eat at HRC, and I have to confess something: no club sandwich is worth $10. That is all). When dinner was done, we walked straight over to the show, stood in a very short and moving line, got searched, handed over our $35 ticket, and made our way inside to enjoy the show. We left the venue hot, sweaty, and tired, at 11:45, lazilly made our way for the car, and headed out for home.

So, outside of the brief slow-the-hell-down downpour we got halfway to Houston, the whole trip, every bit of it, went without a hitch. It was kinda nice to be walking around a new city, just looking at everything with new eyes and getting caught in the buzz of a set of good bands. The energy there in that show was something else, and we were there. The drive back was smooth and easy, and he dropped me and my tired ass off at my apartment at 3am where I went to bed a mere 30 minutes later.

Ernie stated as much, and I agree with him: we need to travel to more cities and do things. Random things. Things we’ve wanted to do for a while. Hell, get a group and rent a hotel suite or something. I dunno. Got to make life interesting, and this weekend, with the two trips to two different cities to see two different shows with two different people is the injection of life I really like.

On the Road: Rush

The Rush concert friday night was excellent beyond expectations. After trudging through the heavy rains, the rush-hour traffic, and the hour and a half drive to San Antonio, my friend Nolan and I made it to the amphitheater an hour and a half before the show, just long enough to grab some food, do some requisite merchandising, and find our seat to watch the crowds accumulate as we dried off.

The lights went out and Rush came on at 7:40. Their show started out with a video on the jumbotron featuring Jerry Stiller in a Rush concert shirt. The video starts with Mr. Stiller asleep and snoring on his easy chair. He stirs awake, scratches his head, and says, “Oh, man, what’d they put in my tea? Ugh. Is the show over?” He looks around and notices the audience outside of the screen, and he exclaims, “Hey! What’re you guys still doing here? Wait, it hasn’t started yet? Huh. Where are those guys? Hold on, let me get them out here.” He looks to the left, off the side of the backstage and yells, “Hey guys! Get out here! You have a show to do! C’mon!” The band comes out, the crowd roars, and they tear into a 5-minute instrumental medley of songs from their 30-year history as the jumbotron shows vignettes of Mr. Stiller “rocking out” to the camera and a video montage of photos of Rush throughout the years. Yep, the show has started.

Set list:

  1. instrumental medley, featuring photos of the band from over their 30 year history
  2. “Spirit of Radio”
  3. “Force Ten”
  4. “Animate”
  5. “Subdivisions”
  6. “Earthshine”
  7. “Red Barchetta”
  8. “Roll the Bones”
  9. “Bravado”
  10. “YYZ”
  11. “The Trees” (with “Day Tripper” interlude)
  12. “The Seeker” (cover)
  13. “One Little Victory”

  15. “Tom Sawyer”
  16. “Dreamline”
  17. “Secret Touch”
  18. “Between the Wheels”
  19. “Mystic Rhythms”
  20. “Red Sector A”
  21. “Rhythm Method” (drum solo)
  22. “Resist” (acoustic)
  23. “Heart Full of Soul” (acoustic cover)
  24. “2112”
    • Overture
    • The Temples of Syrinx
    • Grand Finale
  25. “La Villa Strangiato” (with strange diversion: Alex cuts loose on the mic)
  26. “By-Tor and the Snow Dog”
  27. “Xanadu”
  28. “Working Man”
  29. ENCORE:

  30. “Summertime Blues” (cover)
  31. “Crossroads” (cover)
  32. “Limelight”

Yes, that’s “Xanadu”, “By-Tor and the Snow Dog”, and “Between the Wheels” you see there. Been ages since they’ve played those on tour; a real treat. And Alex, on the song “La Villa Strangiato”, was given center stage, to which he stood at his mic, played some odd songs as the other two tried to follow along, and sang, in a most lunatic falsetto, things like some kind of military song and stream of consciousness stuff like, “Oooh, I like to siiiinng, like to siiiing a looottt.” We were rolling in the aisles.

After the final encore song, Rush thanked us and left the stage, the stage lights stayed on, and the house lights came up. After a few seconds, the jumbotron roars back on to show Jerry Stiller again. He looks at the audience, many of them yelling for more, and he exclaims, “Hey, what are you still doing here?! The show’s over! Go home! Go away!” He looks at the bed behind him, walks over, takes off his shoes, and lays down, “Ah, bedtime. Good night, everyone.” He falls asleep as the video fades to black and the stage lights spell out, “Bye Bye”.

The stage setup was fairly impressive. Saw some new things I’ve not seen before on stage. Above the band were two semicircular rows of multicolor light bars which faced the audience; interlaced between those bars were strobe lights. It appeared to me that those light bars were made with high-output LEDs. Truly innovative. Small packages, surprisingly bright, instant color change. Behind the band was a jumbotron the size of the back wall, built with blocks of LED displays. In the center was a full size 16:9 screen, and to either side was a row of vertical screen bars each about three-feet in width and tapering in length from taller than the screen to about 10-foot tall at the outer edges. These strips had three-foot gaps between them, and they were configured to make the image evenly spread across the elements, really stretching the image out to a unique effect. And, of course, there was the usual over-the-top collection of varilights, lasers, smoke machines, and flame bars to go with all this high technology. It was a stage lighting candyland. Impressive. See-Factor, the stage lighting company that has toured with Rush for years, has done it again.

The show was over around 11. Just over 3 hours in a show. Not bad at all. We managed to eek out of the parking lot around 11:45 or so. Decided to just chill out at the car until the traffic jam eased off. Happily, this time around, I was able to leave the parking lot and head straight for the interstate, unlike last time where I was sent around the county on a farm to market road before I could even reach the interstate. Much happiness there. We reached Austin around 1:30, just in time to greet our friends at our usual friday-night gathering.

Overall, it was a good night.

Empty Wallet, Empty Seat

I have a small problem…

Rush ticket
See this?

That’s right. I have a pair of tickets to see Rush this Friday in San Antonio. I bought the pair in March of this year. Over that span of time, my intended cohort for the concert has backed out due to inability to pay for the already-purchased ticket. (!!) So. I have a small problem, and I intend to fix it with something like this:

Anyone interested in going with me, this Friday afternoon, to see Rush in San Antonio, TX, and has enough money for my low “fire sale” price of $35 (OBO), and has no problems with taking off on such short notice, CONTACT ME NOW. It is my plan to leave Austin around 2pm Friday afternoon.

It would be a damned shame, a travesty of sorts, if I went to the show alone. If that happens, I will have effectively paid $133 (!!) to see Rush by myself. It would be a damned shame.

Thank you. That is all.

Field Report, 31 May, 2004

The A Perfect Circle concert tonight was so excellently bad-ass. Incredible. I wish I was better at words right now to express how else it was and what went on. It’s like, lots of fans, lots of teens in black loose clothing and long t-shirts, lots of college kids, preps, and their girls. Lots of out-of-place adults like me. The most pot I’ve ever second-handed at any show. The wimpiest security, neverminding the search at the door which made me feel like I was 16.

Hand sketch of the view of the stageBut that’s all just the crowd and facility. How about the vibe? A Perfect Circle put on an excellent show. They had a slight problem with keeping the vocals in tune; likely a problem with the mix on the monitors, but they straightened up several songs into the set list, and commenced with the stellar performance.

Speaking of set list:

  1. “Vanishing”
  2. “Lullaby”
  3. “The Hollow”
  4. “Magdalena”
  5. – Greetings, “welcome to the show”, jokes reminiscent of Bill Hicks

  6. “Weak and Powerless”
  7. “Orestes”
  8. “Blue”
  9. – Commentary on Clear Channel, Howard Stern, Ashcroft, profanity, and a hearty round of the entire arena saying “Shit Fuck” to see if it affects those around us

  10. “Thinking of You”
  11. “Breña”
  12. “A Stranger”
  13. “The Package” (super powerful, this song. Everything just gelled together)
  14. “3 Libras”
  15. “The Nurse Who Loved Me” (an alternate version, featuring stronger, more powerful electrics)
  16. – “Our album ’13th Step’ is about recovery, about the stages of overcoming your own demons…that’s the most powerful struggle of all…”

  17. “Gravity”
  18. “The Outsider”, which featured Geordie doing a solo while the rest of the band threw water bottles, drum sticks, etc. at him
  19. “The Noose”
  20. “Judith” (the requisite closing song, but the best for the job. A moshpit formed on the floor for this one.)

It was good to see the several well-known musicians in the band. There’s Maynard and Billy, of course, but on bass is Geordie White, also known as Twiggy Ramirez from Marilyn Manson’s band, and on second guitar and keyboard is Smashing Pumpkins’ guitarist James Iha. Drumming for them is session-musician badass Josh Freese. An excellent combination in the studio, a seasoned choice pick for the stage.

The opening band, Burning Brides, was completely and unexpectedly good. They are a three-piece band and carry a raw, crunchy sound that’s halfway between The White Stripes and Kitty. If not for this show, I would not’ve heard of them, and now I’m considering picking up their disc. They’re worth a spin; they’re definitely worth going to see should they come back through town.

My friend Fuzzy and I arrived at the arena about 3 hours prior to the show, not knowing if our section was general admission or not. Expecting to jockey for a spot in line, we found the wrong door and were directed to one of the doors on a level above the ground floor. We went to the wrong door, which was fortunate because the weather, which had been threatening, decided to unleash and pour heavy raindrops and lightning on downtown Austin. We had found suitable shelter underneath the top walkway leading up to the third level doors. We just sat talking and hung out with some kids from San Antonio while we watched the weather. I took off my shirt and enjoyed the cool, damp breeze.

The weather cleared up and around 6:30 we went to the third level doors, stood in line, got searched, and found our seats. We got hungry and picked up some pricy snacks and sat back down. About a half-hour later, Burning Brides came on and did their thing. Played for 45 minutes, then a half-hour break, and APC took the rest. The show was over around 10:30, and we headed out to wait on my roomate to pick us up. I felt like a 16-year-old kid, what with getting searched, then being around all those teens, and with having to wait on my ride. Heh. But it was all good. Damn was it good.

I’m stinky and tired now. Enjoy the pretty sketch of our view of the stage. Not too shabby, the view. What’s interesting to note is that Maynard spent the entire show on his elevated platform between the Josh and James in relative darkness. It kinda makes sense: most of APC’s fans are there to see him, mostly. But it’s not really his band; Tool is his band, APC is Billy’s joint venture with Maynard. So it makes sense to me that he diminishes his presence to give more spotlight to the other members who are doing the grunt work of turning out killer music.

I’m simply pleased with the whole production. Had a good time. Tonight’s show was taped and recorded for source material for a possible future live release. Let’s hope some of tonight’s show makes the cut.

G’nite, folks. :)