It’s show time! Yes, once again, I find myself at an arena show complete with heavy duty props and stage accoutrements, dancers, backup singers, and tucked away in the back, an actual live band. Out front is Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta. You and I know her better as Lady Gaga.
At one time, LG seemed intent on becoming the new Madonna, shocking the world to get attention. Remember the dress of meat? She seems to have matured or simmered down some, and now relies on her abundant talent to keep the crowds coming back for more. I always liked both Madonna and Lady Gaga as they have great songs with hooks galore, and are strong women who dominate in a man’s man’s man’s world. But they are also performers who know that it’s more than music sometimes.
Still, it isn’t like me to go all arena again. And for the third show in four nights after The Man had beaten me to a pulp with his outrageous workplace demands? I was basically exhausted. But I’m not going to let The Man ruin me, and thus, it was Gaga time. And I’m here to say, that it was a good time. But in my opinion, not a great time.
Don’t get me wrong, Lady Gaga is cool and hip and puts on a performance heavy on style and moxie. She came out and blasted through a number of fast-paced and terrific songs. But alas, she then moved into a slower and more ballad-centric pace that left me yawning and checking the time. Yes, I admire all of the things she does to make the world a better place, drawing attention to autism and LBGT rights. But c’mon, man, I came to party and dance, and I need some jamming music to groove on. Eventually, LG came back and blasted through a few more upbeat tunes. But the lag in the middle of the show left me a bit, dare I say it, bored.
Not that she ignored the hits. Gaga played Poker Face, Bad Romance, Million Reasons, Alejandro, Just Dance, and more. I thought LG blew away the Super Bowl last year, and this performance was solid, too. Gaga has a lot of good songs, and she cherry picked the best for the live stage. But there were also a number of short intermissions that were accompanied by video films, most of them kind of weird.
Theatrics aplenty were on display – multiple costume changes (some sexy, some clumsy/odd)! Props that allowed she and her backup singers/dancers to move the length of the arena above the crowd to a second stage at the opposite end! Big-time professional pyrotechnics and lighting! A sound system that was superb for an arena setting! But it was Coldplay light as I did not get the glowing wrist band (with the secret decoder ring that spells out “Drink More Ovaltine”) and there was no confetti. Nah, I’m just busting – it was what you would expect from a performer with a flair for the outrageous, but professional to the core and who wants to entertain.
Fandom was remarkable, too. There are lots of LG lovers out there, and she gave them what they wanted. But with the size of the stage and the large cast, crowd intimacy was hard to find. She also likes to pose and stare sometimes, and while the crowd cheered while she did it, it struck me as overblown dramatics.
I took some photos, but like a lot of arena shows, I wasn’t that close to get the really good pics. I did get some of the entire staging, which are kind of cool, but nothing that would allow you to identify Lady Gaga from the rest of the troupe.
I’ll be back very shortly with, yes, another live music review. The best band out of Northern Ireland was in town in a nicely packed small club in Philly. I hope you are well, and that The Man in your world is lavishing you with money and praise and telling you to go home early. See you soon, cherubs.
Crap! I almost completely forgot something about the Low Cut Connie show. At the end, I was positioned in the center directly in front of the stage. The drummer threw a drumstick into the crowd, and it bounced off a couple of people right into my hands. I'm not a big souvenir guy, but I couldn't help but catch it. All those years of Little League finally paid off.
Anyway, I now have it in my office. That way, I can stick it to The Man whenever I want. Here's a picture of the drumstick. Later.
Who does BRP love? No, no, no, not The Man. I can understand why you would say that since The Man has been my constant companion lately, but it’s just not true. The Man is the classic “means to end” kind of thing. And just you wait: there’s nothing better than sticking it to The Man. I’m getting to the point where it’s just so freakin’ obvious. I hate The Man.
I go back to my original question: who does BRP love? If you said Protomartyr, you would be right, but you guys really know what I’m talkin’ about. It’s Low Cut Connie, the Philly band extraordinaire that has just the best rock show going right now.
Before I get to LCC, I do want to mention one of their opening acts: The Ali Wadsworth band. A highly entertaining act that would fit right in at Jazz Fest in New Orleans, this was one fun set. If you saunter into a show and Ali is on stage, you yell “jackpot” and count your lucky stars (of course, the opposite is true: if you strut in and see Del Mar on stage, you yell “nurse!” and hit that call button often and hard). Anyway, I really liked this set. It was rockin’, it was soulful, and it was just plain fun. And how about this sequined dress and cap? Yummy.
I dragged some people with me to see Low Cut Connie this time. My sister and her husband. My daughter and her husband. Some great friends. And this time, there was nary a worry that I had oversold the band or that someone might not have a good time. I’ve seen LCC before, and I’ve successfully tested them on Jonathan and Sarah. I was confident. I was right. Again.
I also know right where to stand for an LCC show. Center front. There will be no moshing, there is nothing to have to worry about in that regard. Center front means that you get to enjoy everything that Adam Weiner and the boys have to offer. Lots of honky tonk and boogie woogie piano, electric guitar, pounding drums, and great old-time-meets-modern-lyrics songs that just rock. I’m not quite sure why there aren’t 10,000 fans checking out these guys, but I’m happy that I can drop $20 and stand right in front while Adam blows my mind.
Is this band tight? Unbelievably so. These guys are so well rehearsed that they don’t need song lists, they don’t need to banter, they know when to do what, and the entertainment is non-stop. Maybe people don’t understand what is going on here, but I’m getting it, and everyone who sees them with me is happy to do so. Are they perfect? Nah, their new album is spotty, with some great songs and some not-so-great, but they have plenty of terrific material. I do want to see them play “Say Yes,” and they haven’t done that yet for me. But otherwise, I’m pretty freakin’ satisfied.
Did I take lots of pictures? Sheesh, this is BRP, and I was right up front. I just kept my camera in my hand and snapped away whenever. I’m going to flash quite a few on you, more than I’ve ever done on BRP. And I sure as hell hope you enjoy. Away we go:
Let’s get it over with right now: if you get a chance to see LCC, jump at the opportunity. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. Just freakin’ go. I promise you will be satisfied with your entertainment selection.
What’s next? Well, I’ve got stuff in the can that is just about ready to pop on the screen, and I’ve got another concert coming up. An oldie but goodie featuring one of the best bands ever out of Northern Ireland. Are you with me? Good, then hang out here, wait for me to tell The Man to stick it, and then we’ll move merrily forward. You know what I think of you. Must I say it yet again? OK, I love my BRP loyal reader(s). And with that, I blush, and wish you a lovely day.
I need to fess up. The Man is back. And that dude has a hankering for my skinny little behind. The Man, like government tax collectors, is insatiable. He wants all of me, and damn if there aren’t times when I just go belly up and get savaged. This has been one of those times. So forgive me for not posting in a while. But The Man’s ass-busting has a silver lining. It has allowed me to build up a storehouse of stuff to enthrall you on these Fall nights. Let’s get to it, then.
[Hey, quick side note. Speaking of Fall, you do realize that I hate hate hate to see summer end, but alas, Fall brings with it the gridiron. And yes, our beloved Hokies won the Hillbilly Bowl over the hated West Virginia Mountaineers - as the t-shirt says, there is the good (VT), the bad (UVa) and the ugly (WVU) – and then rolled over Delaware and shellacked East Carolina. The Hokies sit nicely ranked in the top 15, and have gotten off to a swell start to the season.]
Sorry about that Hokie interlude, but a man’s got to do what a man’s got to do, and if you went to a sorry ass school that doesn’t have big-time college football, you have no idea what you are missing. We weep for you. Now, onward to music. I ventured out to the Festival Pier at Penn’s Landing last Thursday to see Royal Blood open up for Queens of the Stone Age. Can you say “bring the earplugs?” I knew you could, and you better believe that I did. It was L-O-U-D.
Now, the Festival Pier is an outside venue that requires you to stand the entire time. I’m ok with standing in a club where that guarantees a sweet perch close to the band. But standing waaaay back when 10,000 people are crammed in is a different story. I’m ambivalent about this place. It’s by Sugar House Casino, so you can park there for free. But it’s kind of a pain to get to it from the glorious heart of the Main Line - it’s spitting distance to New Jersey (which, don’t you think, deserves a good loogie?). And while the acoustics are ok, they aren’t fantastic as the winds and outside setting wreak havoc with the consistency of the sound. And, like many venues, the floor is flat as a board, so if you are height disadvantaged, you are going to be seeing a lot of the dude’s head in front of you. And even if you have a healthy size to your frame, you can still get crushed like my buddy Jeff, who got stuck standing behind the Missing Link, a giant of a man with a thick skull custom-designed to block sightlines, and an ass that issues like clockwork some of the most foul funk, the kind you can only get from eating too much Jack Links beef jerky.
Man, I’m 4 paragraphs in and still nothing about the music. Make that five: this show attracted an interesting group of fans, and I’ve got to quickly discuss them. I haven’t smelt that much weed being toked since, well, I can’t remember. Like Chicago voting, it was early and often for many in the crowd as they got stoned out of their minds. The sweet smell of cannabis filled the air. It was nostalgic for someone who grew up going to arena shows when everyone was blowing bones and the arena had a huge cloud hanging down from the rafters. But it did present a problem with Missing Link’s methane discharges. Blue flamers unite!
Royal Blood. You regular readers of BRP, and I mean both of you, know that I just saw RB at Union Transfer. They rocked. And here they were again, a duo that proves that fact that two guys can make a hell of a lot of noise. So RB kicked it again, tearing through some old favorites, bringing in the new stuff, and getting about 45 minutes of opening act time to flash their stash. I got a couple of pics, but I was pretty far back, and they aren’t great. But they’re probably better than what you have, so take a look-see and enjoy.
Queens of the Stone Age. I think the Stone Age thing in their name is kind of cool, particularly for guys who play heavy rock ‘n roll. But the Queens stuff puzzles me. There are no chicks in the band. To whom do they refer? I’m too freakin’ lazy to look it up, but I think it’s an odd name.
Nonetheless, QSA rocks. Their songs are not instantly hook-filled so that you buzz up on them immediately. Like Bach, they are more challenging to the listener and require repeated listens to get the vibe (not for all of their songs, of course, but for a sizeable part of their quiver). But it’s worth it.
QSA has something like 6 albums out, and Ryan reminded me that they didn’t play one song from their debut effort. They did grab some from their most recent release, which is a jag from their normal sound and, dare I say it, danceable. And they pulled out the truly great songs, like Little Sister and Millionaire.
It was a good show, BRP pushed his way closer to the stage to get the kinds of shots that you gaggle over, but alas, I was too stupid to bring the GoPro, so there is not any exclusive video content. Mulligan! Enjoy what I did bring to the feed lot, and gorge for a while, ok young uns?
Alright, I’ll be back with a photo explosion from my most recent venture to Union Transfer. Oh yeah, baby, it was a Low Cut Connie night, and there was nothing but loving on Spring Garden last Friday night. Check back soon for the most ass-ripping photo ensemble to ever grace the pages of BRP.
And with that, I bid you adieu. Love you, rockers.
I know you’ve been waiting for it. Well here it is: another BRP live music review. This time the headliner was Sheer Mag, a local Philly band releasing a new LP. There were also 3 supporting bands, two of whom are worth mentioning. And this time, I thought I had a BRP exclusive: video seen nowhere else on the internet of Sheer Mag blasting through a few tunes. Yowza! But no - I have 4 videos, but Weebly is so damn slow in uploading that I gave up. Maybe I'll revisit or find another way to get those videos out there, but for now, I'm just moving on.
It was good to knock off the rust and get back into the live music scene. I had been out of the city for a few weeks, and while that was fun, I also knew that I had a number of shows lined up upon my return. It proves the point that one of the great things about traveling is coming home. You need to get ready for a lot of live music posts because I am going to be the idiot about town for a while now.
We walked into Union Transfer and who is on stage? None other than our buddies, Dark Thoughts, an opener before Royal Headache a few weeks back. Last time I reported that DT was a solid punk act but didn’t bring a lot of new stuff to the genre. Upon reconsideration, I’m going to give them some better props (and a couple of photos) because they had me grooving and enjoying their set. Punk, when played with verve and energy, is compelling and DT keeps your attention while they are on the stage. This group has a future unlike, say, Del Mar. Here are a couple of pics:
Next band to mention is Purling Hiss (where do these guys come up with these terrible names?). This band had some great tunes that were instantly catchy but with a heavy hook to them. You know I love the electric guitar played loudly and with attitude, and these guys brought it. Some of the songs were pretty lengthy – like 8 minutes – but they all seemed to build into a metallic crescendo and carried the listener. The boys have a future.
Finally, the main event. I’m pretty into Sheer Mag at the moment. They have a punk-y edge to them, and you know that is always welcome at BRP. But traces of classic rock also exist. Regardless, they tore through a solid one hour set.
You’ve got to love a band that sports three guitars up front, and has a female lead singer. I love the wall of guitar sound that is brought to bear by multiple axes being swung. And this ain’t you’re average female lead. Tina Halladay is a woman of substance and snarl who rips lyrics from her gut and spits them out at the crowd. Good tunes? You betcha, with lots of hooks and rave ups. I got some solid shots, even took some in black and white just to show you that I can, and, as aforementioned, videos. But the black and whites and videos weren't uploading, so you get what you get. Nonetheless, you sling on to these, babies, and you’ll know that daddy brought home the bacon tonight.
What’s next? How about some more Royal Blood and the monster sound of Queens of the Stone Age! Oh, children, I bring you nothing but the best. Back soon, chill and have yourself a beer while I write it up. Ciao.
My name is Bill, and I live in the greater Philadelphia area. I love music, and I have a lot of opinions. This site is primarily focused on music, but sometimes I get off track. I hope you enjoy.