Happy Belated Birthday to me! Yay.
My birthday was yesterday and it was rather lackluster. I had gotten my “big” presents prior to my birthday (iPhone and PS3 from lover), so fhere wasnt much to look forward to. Girlfriend did make me a delicious cheesecake yesterday which was wonderful. But other than that, nothing exciting happened on my birthday. Just another Tuesday really.
School has been busy and typically boring. And other than that not a lot has happened.
I have a lot of random things I’ve been meaning to blog about and hopefully I can stretch them over a few posts.
Specifically in lyrical content, Rap tends to be more self centered. Most songs are about how much better than you I am or how my rhymes are more fly than yours. Or how my car is sicker than yours. But for the most part, rap that is considered “good” tells a story. And this is where rock and rap do share a common theme.
However most rap songs are about personal matters and the stories come internally. I have noticed that rock songs take more from an event and a song is written about that event. There is no boasting, no “my guitar is better than yours” or what have you.
These are just some random thoughts of mine after reading about Jay-Z and thinking about Alexisonfire.
- Eminem’s Loss Shows Grammys Still Behind on Rap (abcnews.go.com)
- Dallas Green on Shad Collaboration: ‘He Raps Better Than Most People Speak’ (spinner.com)
So it seems like it’s been forever since I’ve actually written a decent post on here. I feel like now is as good of a time as ever. So let’s get started jah?
Getting the nitty gritty stuff out of the way first…
- I have 3 more days of classes
- I have passed enough assignments in all of my classes such that if I pass the finals I will pass the course
- I wrote a paper on the “Evolution of Greek Architecture in Relation to the Developments in Mathematics” or something like that
- I recorded/produced my first track (see Never Know [post below])
- I went to for the first Vancouver for reading break (see pictures on Flickr [on right])
- Worked 30+ hours in the last month doing recordings
- Learnt to play most of Chopin‘s Prelude in E Minor (see Ben Zander video [below]
- Got knocked out in the first round of the floor hockey playoffs. Scored one goal all season.
Anyways, that’s really all I can think of for the moment. The biggest one on that list is probably the trip to Vancouver. Girlfriend and I went for reading break, which was in the beginning of November (10th – 14th). We stayed in a cheap little hotel which was actually really nice. The trip wasn’t the greatest, and didn’t really compare to when we had gone to Seattle a year previous. I was sick going over there, and had to truck around a fistful of kleenexes everywhere we went. In the two days we had there, we walked close to 15+km around the city, from Gastown to Yaletown to Granville Island to etc etc etc. We got to see Robson street and the malls and such, which was nice. It would have been a lot better if we had an entire week to spend there and take everything at a more leisurely pace. There’s much more of that city I would like to see.
Girlfriend really wanted to go see Bodyworlds which was on at the Science World, so we did that on the night of the 11th, and to be honest it wasn’t that great. I’d seen it before in Edmonton a few years back, and this one was pretty lackluster by comparison. The exhibit was smaller and had less interesting pieces and it was pretty enclosed versus the large open space in Edmonton. So that was a downer but we carried on. Girlfriend wanted to go to the art gallery too, but we just didn’t have the time or the energy. Maybe another day. We were in bed by 10pm each day and up by 8. We definitely don’t know how to vacation.
Oh! I forgot something very important that I did in the last week! I met Alexisonfire! As you may or may not know, they are one of my favourite bands of all time and a group that I really enjoy in all aspects of manner
and music. So it was pretty cool to meet them finally. If you don’t know their names tough, because I’m going to refer to them as such. This is only my personal opinion and experience so it may not be a true representation of character, but Dallas and Wade didn’t give the best impression to me. Dallas was very “Hi, Autograph? Photo? Next?” or at least that’s how it was to me. There were quite a few other people there and that was a disappointment but to be fair I wasn’t the most outgoing individual there. I had a nice chat with Steele and he seemed genuinely interested in what I had to say. Same with George and Ratbeard, and I enjoyed my conversation with them. So it was kind of a interesting experience. It was kind of like “Okay-go-ahead-make-awkward-conversation-with-people-you-really-admire-who-don’t-care-who-you-are-for-a-half-hour.” But it was cool to do. I don’t think I’d do it again, especially for that price tag ($100).
All that being said, the show was pretty ridiculous. With people climbing up on stage and crowd surfing, combined with the terrible sound and the show having to be done by 9:30 (to accommodate all the clubbers on a Friday night) I think it was a mediocre experience. It had it’s highlights and it’s lowlights, but that’s to be expected.
I’m not sure what else to write tonight…exams are coming up, and I will be done by the 18th. So hopefully I’ll write some more posts coming into the holiday season. (I actually was going to type Christmas there, but then changed it to holiday. Isn’t that so politically correct of me?)
And for something completely different! A Hipster Hitler comic!
- Alexisonfire wants to cool down a bit (theglobeandmail.com)
- Music Review: Putting Some Muscle in Chopin Along With the Poetry (nytimes.com)
- Sunday Stories…Last Minute Homework and an Evening with Chopin! (crazygoangirl.wordpress.com)
So school is in full swing again, and unfortunately this blog has taken a toll because of it. I have a few extra minutes tonight, so I feel like writing something. I’ve got a whole bunch of other random stuff and thoughts I’m gonna write down sometime, it’s just a matter of laziness.
The start of my third year has kind of come in as a whimper versus a bang. My schedule is very forgiving this semester, I only really have class on Monday and Thursday. Tuesdays has one class @ 7pm, and Fridays are off. So it’s pretty good. Again due to the program, I’m taking a mismash of courses, including the Art and Architecture of Ancient Greece. So hopefully things will be good as the year progresses.
Luckily, Girlfriend and I have still managed to maintain seeing each other fairly often. You’d think more often than we do, given we live in the same house. I am surprised how well the living situation is going. Being roommates is great, we usually have breakfast together and then do something in the night together, so it’s nice. The owners of the house are great and the cat loves me. Which is nice. Unfortunately my parents are under the assumption that Girlfriend and I share everything (food wise) and thus they have stopped pitching in for my food bill. I suppose this is fair, but hopefully when they come at the end of September, they will see how little we actually share, and have a change of heart. (Doubtful – but here’s to wishful thinking)
In other news, I’m spending too much money lately! I’m in the process of purchasing an Mbox Pro2 (pictured below) for $500. Which is a steal of a deal considering you generally pay $1200+ for it. It’s great because I can use it to record, I can plug in my other box into it, and I get access to the most used software in the business.
You see! Digidesign, the company who makes the Mbox, has also produced a program called ProTools which has become the industry standard. Well, Digi has also made it so that you can’t use ProTools unless you’re hooked up to an Mbox. So this is not cool. Thus I am buying one.
Secondly, I just bought VIP tickets to the Alexisonfire show that will be happening here in November. This means I get: a ticket &
- meet & greet
- tour poster
- exclusive laminate
- 7″ (DEMOS from OC/YC….super limited)
- early entry into venue
Most importantly on this list is the meet & greet. Alexisonfire has grown to be one of my favourite bands, and having the opportunity to talk to them is going to be awesome. I’m already thinking up questions to ask and all this other loser stuff. Victoria is the first stop on the tour, so I’m gonna be one of the first people they meet! Aweeeesum.
In other nerdy music news involving me, there’s a guy coming to our school to talk to us about working in a well known studio. This guy has worked with K-Os, R.E.M., The Tragically Hip and Rise Against to name a few. These are a lot of big names, and a lot of bands that I listen to. I’m super pumped to talk to him and see what he says about the industry. So I’ve got another list of questions going for him too.
That kinda runs injunction with some other news of mine. I’ve taken over the Facebook group for my program, so I’m being a big n00b and posting all the time in the group to keep it relevant.
Umm…other than that, I’m not really sure what else is going on with me. Trying my best to stay active. Girlfriend and I have started playing tennis, and I’ve joined a ball hockey team as well. So I’ve got lots on the go.
Oh! I suppose I can talk about what happened in the last bit of the summer. I’ve been working at the Gap most of the time, and still am continuing into the fall (5 classes, and 2 jobs – great). The Gap is great, and I love working there, right now it’s mostly weekends and Friday’s so the hours aren’t fantastic.
Also – this summer was probably the first summer where I actually read more than 2 books that weren’t comics. I read:
- The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
- The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time
- The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown
- The Producer as the Composer by Virgil Moorefield
- Think of a Number by John Verdon
All of them were really good, but I have to pick two out of the mix. Think of a Number was fantastic, probably the best book I’ve read in a long time. It’s a great serial killer/mystery/crime/psychological/fuck-with-your-brain type of book. Which I really enjoy. So I’d definitely recommend that one.
The second, The Producer as the Composer, I would recommend for anyone with any interest in music. It talks about the producers role in making music all the way from Motown to DJ’s of today. It was the first book that got me to listen to an entire Beatles album (Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band) and it made the music actually interesting to me. I went out and bought Pet Sounds by the Beach Boys, just so I could hear for myself what Brian Wilson did in terms of mixing and arrangements. So for me this book had a significant impact on my musical life and how I want to pursue my career.
I think that’s enough for tonight. Ima go to bed now. More specifically…girlfriend’s bed!
If there’s any books you think I should be reading, please let me know!
Greetings faithful following!
If you do follow this, neat! You should leave a comment and let me know what you think or what you want more of.
So I haven’t really written anything for a few weeks, so I’m gonna sum up my life into maybe 1000 words. Umm last week I went to an Alexisonfire show! It was amazing as always. I don’t think I will ever be able to find another band who has the same energy as them on stage. So that was great, I got another t-shirt from them. I feel like I have some obligation to buy a shirt from a show. To say that I saw this band when they came and I support them. Dunno, that’s just me. Girlfriend was commenting on how she’s never been to a show before. And I couldn’t believe that. She was like “What do you do?” And I kinda felt stupid saying things like “sing along with the band” and “jump up and down” and “try your very best to make eye contact with them.”
It’s weird, especially with a band like Alexis, I feel that they have a certain almost ‘god-like’ attribute to them. You could say that I idolize these guys, and wish everyday that I was playing music I loved for a living. I still have secret dreams about meeting some random guys in university and making it big playing drums. Doubtful that will happen, but hey, as my dad says, “A man has to dream.”
And then I can get all philosophical about the whole mosh pit thing. How it’s like one whole collective that ebbs and flows as one person surges to the front and how each person has to pick up the guy beside him when he falls and you’re all trying to seek the same common goal. I don’t really know where I’m going with this, but there’s something somewhere in there…Anyways.
Speaking of playing music, I found out that I get to play 3 songs in my jazz band concert coming up. There are 12 in total. I find this is fucking ridiculous. I put in the same time and effort as the other drummer, and he gets more songs than me. There are two I feel that I should have for sure. I walked out on a rehearsal last week because the songs we were going to play in the next hour weren’t mine, so I felt it was pointless for me to stay. That rehearsal, I played for 10 minutes out of two hours. It’s completely frustrating being there and going to these things twice a week. I feel that my band director has a grudge against me because I missed two rehearsal’s in the last month. I don’t get it. I’m basically set on giving up on it soon.
School is good, been pretty busy with most of my classes. My recording class is probably my favourite as I’m actually doing something I enjoy. For the first time ever in university. I was doing a course evaluation for one of my classes yesterday, and one of the bubbles asks “Why did you take this class?” and never once have I filled out “My own interest”. Every class I’ve taken is a “Program Requirement”, and for that, my program sucks.
So this last weekend kinda sucked for me. I had all these great plans with girlfriend that didn’t happen like I wanted, so I was really sad about that. And then Sunday was just a blunder. They had to cut the power to all of campus for all of Sunday to fix something. So there was really nothing to do. One can only read so much throughout a day. It didn’t help that it was grey and rainy most of the day. Luckily I had a plan, get my haircut. Well, I spent the 45 minutes getting to the mall, and then another half hour waiting for the hairdressers to be open, because apparently I was going to be the first appointment of the day…Which was the first problem. Eventually I find out my hairdresser is late and so I rebook for later in the day. So dejected I went home, and preceeded to play guitar, and broke a string. Blah, it just sucked.
Anywho, bedtime for me.
Saint Alvia is one of the first bands I’ve heard that combines the screaming element of bands like Alexisonfire but a funky almost ska element of Sublime, and at times sounding like the Offspring.
It’s upbeat, thumping beats and twang of the guitar of the title track get you into the music pretty quickly. The chorus of this song sums up the band fairly well: “You gotta read between the lines, if you wanna follow me/I lead these streets of mine, with four letter words and hollow deeds.”
The highly stylized sextet from Burlington, Ontario is currently touring Europe after a small set of dates with acoustic shows across Canada. One stop included Chinook Mall in Calgary. Why a band would ever want to play a mall is beyond me, but to each their own.
Saint Alvia is able to have a good mix of styles on Between the Lines. The track “Trouble Keeps Me Busy” is a slower, mellower tune, which is quickly followed by the upbeat “Romeo.”
Between the Lines is a well-rounded CD from a socially conscious band. They’re stylistic mix provides an enjoyable listen for the average music listener.
Get ready for a long one.
Alrighty. So I spent most of my day today at Sonic 102.9′s “Sonic Boom” festival at the Northlands parking lot. My brother had shelled out $100+ for VIP tickets for the both of us and we were expecting some pretty exceptional stuff. We boarded the train at around 2 o’clock and head towards the parking lot. Upon arrival, we followed the masses and the music to the entrance. Us VIP’s had our own separate entrance and we were then searched (very briefly albeit, I could have snuck a handful of coke, about 100 hits of E and any other drug you wanted in our backpack) and then we were given our nifty VIP lanyards and wristbands. So far so good right? Wrong.
As soon as we got through the entrance, we saw the VIP ‘area’. It was basically the area roughly the size of a professional basketball court with some concessions for drinks and food. There was a nice grassy area with some benches. We also had a building with actual toilets! And…that was it.
That was all we got for being VIP’s and spending an extra $40 for tickets got us pretty much nothing. Lame. This Sonic Boom festival was definitely lacking in just about every category. I’ve been to the veteraned Vans Warped Tour, and the newly started Virgin Festival, and both of these were miles ahead of Sonic Boom.
At venues like Virgin or Vans, there is a lot of people to do in the downtime between bands. Between each band the crews take between 20 – 40 minutes to set up for the next one. There is usually booths selling random merchandise, vendors, stalls, lots of people just giving away free stuff and getting their company out there. At Sonic Boom, I didn’t even see a single Sonic Boom tent with Sonic 102.9 stuff on it. I didn’t get to meet the DJ’s if I had chosen to do so, and there was NOTHING to do. You just had to sit around and watch people re-arrange the stage. Yee-ha.
The one thing Sonic Boom did have going for it was the bands. Metric, GirlTalk, Billy Talent, Franz Ferdinand and Alexisonfire amongst others were all at this event. But unfortunately not all of them performed that well. We’ll start chronologically.
Girltalk – A single guy with a computer who samples other songs and basically plays them non-stop. I was very weary about this guy, although my brother was quite stoked on him. I have a thing about not liking this new generation of guys with their computers. I feel that anybody can bring a computer on a stage, open up iTunes, and hit play. Big woop. It takes the whole performing out of a performance. But I was pleasantly surprised by Girltalk. He sampled from just about every genre, some of them included: Black Sabbath’s War Pigs, The Red Hot Chili Pepper’s Under The Bridge, Snoop Dogg’s Drop It Like It’s Hot and Jackson Five’s ABC. This had all the emo kids, the metal heads, the hip hoppers, and the punks happy which was pretty cool. The guy who is the main member of Girltalk was pretty entertaining to watch, as he jumped around stage on one foot and proceeded to strip throughout his set. His entourage provided the crowd with toilet paper, confetti and balloons to add to the party atmosphere. I definitely enjoy Girltalk’s performance which felt like a big rave/party. I would recommend putting on Girltalk at any of your parties where you need some kinda music that everyone will like.
Next up was Metric. Now I have heard great things about Metric and I have listened to their newest album and enjoyed what I heard. I had very high expectations for this band, and none of those expectations were met. Emily Haines (the lead singer) was the only person who looked like she was having a moderately good time on stage while the other three members kinda stood there morbidly. The guitar player looks like a cross between Elvis Costello and Matthew Good, but had his sunglasses on the entire time, how rude. They played their hits “Give Me Sympathy” and “Monster Hospital” but by that time I had lost interest and gone to look around. When a band is on stage and they’re look like they’re not enjoying themselves, then the crowd won’t either. Which is what my opinion of their set was.
After Metric came the Franz Ferdinand. The Scottish quartet provided a funky and unique set list to the Sonic Boom experience. They had their flare and interacted well with the crowd. I was impressed how the two guitarists could switch between guitar and keyboards so easily. It was pretty cool. Another of my favourite parts of their set was when all four members started playing a piece of the drum kit. It would have been better if the kit was further towards the front of the stage so everyone could see (Another thing needed by Sonic Boom, big TV screens for the people in the back) but all in all it was fun. One thing that Franz Ferdinand did that no other band of the night did was introduce it’s members. It may be cheesy and over done, but I think it’s something that should just be standard. It gives the audience a little bit more of a personal connection with the band, and allows the members to show off a little. I also thought it was interesting how the band left the stage. As individuals. I have seen bands, like Alexisonfire, enter in this fashion, one at a time, but never leave. The lead singer left first, then the keyboardist left a loop on, and then the bassist, leaving the drummer last.
Now, the main event. For me at least, and probably half of the crowd there, we were all there to see Alexisonfire. I pushed and shoved my way to about 4 rows from the front. And when I say rows, I more or less mean people, squished up against the railing. So it’s more like 4 people crammed into two feet. And then they started. I will post what I recall of a set list after this. As usual, Alexisonfire put on a show that surpassed any by any other band that night. Their energy, musicality, and connection with the crowd are three of the factors that make AOF the great band that they are. Chris Steele, the bassist, is known for his ‘crazy eyes’ as he comes to the edge of the stage and opens his eyes wide and looks at members of the audience. Each member of Alexisonfire is great at such a simple thing. Looking at the audience. I’ve noticed a lot of bands seem to hide behind their microphones and don’t interact. That’s something, as a fan, that makes you love a band, is if they are personal with you. It’s all about connections and the members of Alexis did that tonight. There was one moment when George (the screamer) was speaking to the crowd, about how amazing he is and you shouldn’t mess with him, and out of nowhere a shoe flies on stage, and with Jedi-like reflexes, George sticks out his arm and catches said shoe, furthering his point. At one point during a song, there was a fight in the most pit, with two guys throwing punches, and again George takes it upon himself to make it personal. He takes a step down off the stage and starts yelling at the guys, “What the fuck are you doing?!” After the song was over, he called out the tough guys and moved on. It’s actions like this that make Alexis stand out for me. It’s interesting to see that they’ve become the seniors on the tour scene as newer bands that are coming up look to them for guidance. And they are, in my opinion, the mould that every band should try to replicate. Each member moves around on stage, they use all 50 feet of their cables and travel to each part of the stage to visit each section of the crowd. They are a band that loves the music, and is passionate about playing, and you can see it in their live show. Another classic Alexisonfire performance, I really hope they continue to make music for a long time to come.
By this time, I was all worn out from being at the front of the pit. Sweaty, sore and tired, I was ready to go home. My brother and his friend, Marie, wanted to stay to watch Billy Talent. I wasn’t expecting much, which was good! Cause Billy Talent was bland. With only 3 albums under their belt, I was wondering what they were going to draw on for material. I had seen them in Calgary when they toured for their II album with Rise Against. And it was very similar to that. They opened with Devil in a Midnight Mass, and it was not til their 4th song that they played something new. Which, could be confused with something old. Billy Talent has found their niche in punk today and they’re staying there. The twangy guitars with that distinct distorted tone and the whiny vocals are expected by the Billy Talent fans. So that’s what they got. Personally, I’m always looking for something new and different with music and a new CD from an old artist, and Billy Talent didn’t deliver. Another band that doesn’t move and hides behind their microphones. The lead singer could be interacting with all sides of the stage when he’s not singing but prefers to hang out close to the drums or the amps. The guitarist and bassist are stuck to 10 feet of guitar cable, so they won’t move remotely close to each other. The band is barely interacting with itself let alone the audience. They like to talk about hockey and how the city in which they are playing in, is so much better than their rival, ie the Oilers are better than the Flames. Whatever. This was the same when I saw them play at the Saddledome and the drummer dawned a Flames jersey. With so few songs to choose from, it was easy to predict which would be next. This was proven when I told my brother that it was either going to be “River Below” or “Try Honesty”, and the next song was the former. Lame. I have to compare Alexisonfire and Billy Talent to Aerosmith and Motley Crue whom I saw a few years ago. Billy Talent and Motley Crue used gimics and fancy lights and such to wow their audience, while the music lacks. However Alexisonfire and Aerosmith only need themselves on stage with their instruments. Their charisma, and passion for music are what make them put on a good show, not lights, fireworks and gimics.
So Sonic-Boom on a whole was a bust, Alexisonfire however was not. And that one performance made up for the whole day. Hope you enjoyed my essay on a concert. Also stay tuned for the Fashion of Sonic Boom on JuST B in the coming days!
Here’s the real set list for Alexisonfire’s show today (Not sure if the order is correct, it’s close though).
- Drunks, Lovers, Sinners, and Saints
- No Transitory
- Boiled Frogs
- Born and Raised
- This Could Be Anywhere In The World
- Young Cardinals
- We Are The Sound
- Water Wings (And Other Poolside Faux Pas)
- Heading For The Sun
- Happiness By The Kilowatt