So, I always procrastinate about writing up concert reports. It’s as if they were homework, or something. That being said, Kendal and I went to an awesome show on Friday. Not-So-Silent Night is a show our local alternative station, Live 105, puts on every year, sometime in the winter. This year’s had what I’m pretty sure was the biggest lineup of any NSSN to date, and…it was pretty fucking awesome.
Kendal and I bussed up from SC, gave our stuff to my grandpa, and then met up with a couple of my friends and got food at Good Karma, which is a fantastic vegan place in downtown San Jose. Seriously, if you are ever in the area, go there. They have (usually, they were out when we went) vegan pork buns which are made by Buddhist monks and sold by the restaurant at cost. Also, the rest of the food they have is delicious, too.
So, after that interlude, we proceeded to the HP Pavilion, home of the San Jose Sharks and also ginormous shows such as the one we attended. Our timing was pretty sweet, since we didn’t have to wait long for the openers, who had won a contest for the privilege, went up. Okies! Band-by-band recap time!
The Finish Ticket:
They were an adorable local band from…somewhere in the Bay Area. I swear, some of them looked like they had to be jailbait, but I digress. They had a kind of Kings Of Leon-y sound, and were really polished for a band that looked SO DAMN YOUNG. They were all decked out in some kind of war-paint, and played a set that was really nice, if also really short. You can check them out at their myspace, over here: http://www.myspace.com/finishticket .
This was arguably the band I was most excited about seeing, and holy shit, they did not disappoint. I was kind of angry at Broken Bells for a little while after their existence was announced, because they mean it will be forever before The Shins put out anything new, because James Mercer, but I forgave them very quickly after I heard a few songs and purchased the album. When you think about it, James Mercer and Danger Mouse is a pretty fuckin’ weird combination, but it is so, so damn awesome in practice. They make beautiful, perfectly-produced, electronica-tinged indie rock, and that is exactly what they performed on stage.
An important point: I had never seen that many keyboards on stage before, ever. I think the total Kendal and I arrived at was five, two of which were like…the two-tiered kind. It was pretty ridiculous, but they used all of them during various points of the show. The band kept trading instruments throughout, with Danger Mouse hopping from drums to keyboard, one of the keyboardists hopping from keyboard to trumpet, to both at the same fucking time, and so on and so forth. Their music sounded pretty much exactly how it does on the album, but with awesome extended jammy bits. Keyboard jams! So awesome. Also, they were mixed perfectly. Like, the sound-guys did their job on that one. Also, James Mercer’s voice is beautiful. Also, I want to see them live every night for the rest of forever.
Here’s a video of them playing “The High Road” live at what I am assuming is SXSW. I couldn’t find a video of them doing improvy things, but this is still ridiculously awesome.
The Black Keys
This was the portion of the evening I did not really enjoy. I have not listened to The Black Keys much, but have been told nice things about them by sources that may or may not be Dylan, but none of this came across in their show. First off, their was the difficulty of following Broken Bells, which would have felled mightier men. And then there was the issue of the sound-guy clearly falling asleep or something. Their guitars were absurdly, drowning-out-the-drums too loud. I’m not sure if I have ever witnessed that happen before. The vocals not being loud enough is a pretty common problems, but I’m pretty sure you’re always supposed to hear the drums. Like, that’s kind of hard to fuck up.
I’m not sure if it was just the sound problem, but they did not please me, not at all.
Oh my gosh, Phoenix. I’m pretty sure I love them like eight thousand times more after seeing them live. Generally speaking, I kind of dislike arenas, but Phoenix in an arena was so spectacular. Their light show was fantastic; they had their drummer on a really awesome platform, and they were so energetic. They opened with “Lisztomania,” which was such a perfect choice and got everyone so excited for their set. They seemed so genuinely excited about playing for such a large crowd, and were so ridiculously gracious, and so ridiculously adorable; I now want Phoenix to take over the world. I accept Thomas Mars as our new overlord.
In all seriousness, if watching Phoenix live does not make you happy, you probably lack a soul. I want them to have all the success so that everybody ever can see them live. Thomas Mars ended the show by smashing the mic and tossing it into the audience, which is a pretty rock and roll thing to do, but when accompanied by charmingly-French-accented professions of gratitude, it was kind of adorable. Also, they sounded really good.
Here is a video of “Lisztomania.” For some reason, the high-quality ones are not the ones where Thomas Mars dances (…probably because they’re all like…in radio stations and shit). Some quality had to be sacrificed so that you could understand why he and Sofia Coppola should repopulate the earth. Also, this video gives you some idea of how fucking awesome their drummer looks with their light show. Aaaaaaah. Actual song starts around 1:35.
My Chemical Romance
These dudes are arena pros and well-known for their stage presence, so of course they put on a good show. Kendal and I hold Gerard Way and his new, bright-red hair responsible for the disappearance of all the Special Effect Nuclear Red hair dye in the world. (Seriously, come back in stock, please dye.) The first time I saw MyChem live, I was fourteen years old, and this set made me nostalgic as fuck. I saw them another time…at…some festival. Maybe Download? It was when they were playing the same festival as MSI and wound up being a couple of days before Gerard Way and Lyn-Z did their whole getting married backstage thing. They are a band whose story kind of stuns me–their fucking lead singer went from living in his parents’ basement and being miserable to being a fucking rock star, with a hot rocker wife. Dreams do come true, I guess.
At any rate, it was really fun, and made me feel old as fuck. All the musicians I listened to in my early teens are reproducing and shit, now! Also, Mikey Way now looks like a gay club kid. His hair was doing some bleached and partially shaved thing, and he had on some sort of green animal print tank-top…and a fucking glittery bass. If you had told fourteen-year-old me that Gerard would someday be the straighter-looking Way brother, she would have laughed in your face. But I digress, they played old things and new things. Seems like the new stuff is kind of glam-inspired? High-energy and fun times. I realized that I am now too old to feel guilty for enjoying any kind of music. This is a good thing.
Go and find your own damn live MCR vid on youtube. There’s approximately infinity of them and I am too lazy to sort through them.
The Smashing Pumpkins
Did not really succeed at following MCR, IMO. I am fond of Smashing Pumpkins and had seen them before, in a tiny venue in Santa Cruz, on their first reunion tour. That time, they played for like…three hours. There were three encores. They played songs off every album. This time…did not measure up. I just did not like them in an arena. They changed up some old songs in displeasing ways (they ended with “Tonight, Tonight,” which I swear, almost made me cry the first time I saw them, but this time it was all rock and rolled up and laaaame), and their light show involved these bizarre, sparkly, flower-windmill giant things.
They weren’t bad, but just…not high-energy or high-awesomeness enough to support such a large venue. And this post is now approximately eight million words long. So I will leave it at this. Show was awesome, and then Kendal and I watched How I Met Your Mother into the night. Man, I could have summed the whole night up in like a sentence.