Photos, Words and Video by G.
Abel Tesfaye aka The Weeknd
In the 1980s when I was a kid and I turned on the radio to the current pop music stations, I vividly remember my parents thinking our music was “just a bunch of noise” in comparison to the classic rock and roll of the era they grew up in. Years later, we gained an appreciation of each others music primarily based on the lasting effects both kinds of music had on the world. I’ve always tried to stay current on the latest in music and in the streaming music generation and it gets harder and and harder to find music that I could find myself wanting to listen to one time, let alone over and over again. I have found myself retreating to “obscure indie bands” so that at a minimum, I can listen to music being made and sung by actual musicians. I am really not a fan of the autotune world we live in, where it takes over 5 writers to compose the most simplistic and banal lyrics imaginable. I have also found that mainstream radio, which I used to enjoy so much, is so offensive to my ear drums, I’d rather listen to silence than what the current pop channels have to offer.
With that being said, for a lot of the modern music super stars, I am familiar with their names (primarily because they can’t seem to keep out of the scandal pages for being despicable people – but we’ll save that discussion for another time), and I find I don’t know the music that makes them famous. When a name keeps popping up, I often take a chance and go see them live and I experience their music for the first time when they are standing before me. Also a discussion for another time – try it some time. It really takes you out of your comfort zone and I can say from doing this hundreds of times, there are not a lot of people that are willing to take this chance. When I did this for Miley Cyrus last year, I found myself feeling like an “old person” as I was completely shocked at how bad her music was (despite thinking she had a good voice) and also what a bad role model she is for teens, her main audience, who attended the concert without parental supervision, dressing up like complete sluts and in winter time, no less! Trust me, I am one of the most liberal people you’ll ever meet and I found myself cringing with horror, which messes with my head because it makes me feel like I am an old person who is judging the youth.
Enter Abel Tesfaye, also known by his stage name: The Weeknd (sic). Three of his songs slipped onto my radar: “Nocturnal,” a dance track with Disclosure, “Prisoner,” a duet with Lana Del Rey (a track I don’t really care for, but I like Lana’s vocals) and “Can’t Feel My Face,” an uptempo track that almost rips off the music for a song called “Jaded” by Soul Decision verbatim (but I like that song). That was enough for me to go see The Weeknd, who played 4 sold out shows at New York arenas (2 at Madison Square Garden and 2 at Barlcays Center in Brooklyn). If a performer can play to approximately 70,000 people over the course of 1 week, his music must be something special, so I took a chance and went to see him at Barclays Center on November 19, 2015.
At the conclusion of The Weeknd’s show, I found that he has a decent voice and I enjoyed the light show that included explosions and fire. What I didn’t enjoy was walking out of the concert feeling dumbfounded in a similar manner (but with different circumstances) like I did when I left the Miley Cyrus concert a year ago at the same venue. I should also point out that I do my best to avoid the news, but occasionally, items hit my radar, typically after they are discussed ad nauseum. One such item is “Black Lives Matter.” It’s hard to escape that sound byte. With what little I know on the matter, one way to make that so is for all of us, black, white or green to start treating each other with respect. Seems like a no-brainer to me, but to the 70,000 that sang along word for word to songs by The Weeknd, the so called “N-Word” was uttered so many times that I lost count. In my opinion, it sets any progress this movement might have made backwards by leaps and bounds and not only is this guy selling out arenas, but he is also winning awards for his music! WHAT??? Nearly every song is bragging about being high out of his mind, fucking, beating up and degrading bitches (his words, not mine) and causing havoc with his niggaz (his words, not mine). Sounds like he should be in jail instead of being celebrated as the “new Michael Jackson.” This is like a Kathy Bates in Misery moment, where you want to shout “HAVE YOU ALL GOT AMNESIA!?” Do parents know what their kids are really listening to? And if so, Madonna and 2 Live Crew are owed an apology because at the time, they were mocked for being too scandalous and that stuff could be taught in church in comparison to what The Weeknd was telling his followers! So with that, I decided to compile a list of 10 of the most horrifying lyrics I heard at The Weeknd’s concert. The items that make the list are included for their horrifying lyrical content, because if we wanted to do one with all the bad grammar and misspelled words, we could be here for days.
After the jump, see if you are as horrified as I am or if you think I am an oldster that needs to get with the times. Please let me know in the comments section, and include your age if you would, please.
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Photos by G. Art by Dima Drjuchin.
Vision Quest by Dima Drjuchin
I’ve been a fan of Dima Drjuchin’s art for many years and although art is subjective, I don’t see how you could not like it. In his latest exhibit, “Vision Quest,” at The Cotton Candy Machine in Brooklyn, Dima once again will blow your mind with the fantastical worlds he creates with colors and detail that will have you saying “how does he do that?!”
These pictures (which you can enlarge by clicking on them) do not do justice to the amount of detail in each work, so I encourage you to see these in person. If you’re not a huge art fan but you are into music, you might know Dima’s art from the cover art of Father John Misty’s smash debut album “Fear Fun,” which he brilliantly designed. Dima’s art is surprisingly still reasonably priced, so if you want to own one of his works, I recommend you get on it sooner rather than later.
I spoke with Dima at the opening of “Vision Quest” and I asked him 2 of my burning questions about the creation of his works. I had mentioned that if I had the rest of my life to create paintings, I could never even come close to the brilliance of one of his smaller works, let alone the big ones, so I asked for a ball park estimate of how long it takes him to create a painting. He said that some of his smaller pieces are made in a single sitting! Whoa! Also, since there is so much going on in his works, I wanted to know if each time he looks at a painting if he starts to think of ways he could change or improve (in his eyes, not ours) the painting and he said that he has an easy time separating himself from his works and once he says it’s done, it’s done. I’ve spoken with many artists over the years who can barely even look at their own paintings because they only see flaws and things they would change if they could, so I found it interesting and inspiring that sometimes there is a definitive stopping point.
Vision Quest by Dima Drjuchin
Don’t miss “Vision Quest” by Dima Drjuchin at The Cotton Candy Machine in Brooklyn, which is located at 235 South 1st Street and is showing until September 6, 2015.
Photos and words by G.
Roger Daltrey of The Who
The Who are celebrating their 50th anniversary as a band by touring and I popped my Who cherry by seeing them perform at Barclays Center in Brooklyn on May 26, 2015. As someone who has seen nearly all living rock and roll legends in concert, I felt I owed it to myself to go check out The Who and here are 10 things I observed while watching their show:
1. Despite being down two (of 4) original members (RIP John Entwistle and Keith Moon), the two that are left – Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend – may be both 70 but they rocked and rocked hard for 2 solid hours with no intermission.
2. The visuals that showed on the screens behind The Who were amazing. Every song had a different trippy pattern and many times, the screens showed highlights of The Who’s amazing 50 year career.
3. While Pete Townshend did not smash any guitars, he did his signature move where he swings his arm in a circular motion while jammin’ out. Seeing him do that move throughout the show (as well as watching Roger Daltrey swing his microphone) are so iconic that it was definitely a show highlight. On the subject of Pete Townshend, he told a lot of funny stories in between songs and poked fun at how old he and Roger are.
4. Despite being in the dreaded Brooklyn, Barclays Center is a really nice venue. The people that work there are always super friendly. The site lines are pretty good unless you have nosebleed seats, in which case, if you have a fear of heights, you will definitely be freaked out. Pete Townshend also gave Brooklyn a nice little dig when he said “it’s good to be back in New York, even if it is Brooklyn.”
5. The ticket said 7:30 pm, and they were not kidding. At 7:30, opener Joan Jett and the Blackhearts promptly took the stage. Joan Jett was great! She did an 11 song set that included “Bad Reputation,” “I Love Rock and Roll,” “Crimson and Clover,” “I Hate Myself For Loving You,” “Light of Day,” and “Cherry Bomb.” Hearing the audience participate in mass sing-a-longs of these tracks was awesome and it was a great taste of what to come when The Who took the stage. As a side note, I think that Joan and I might have been the only gays in the entire building, so I am glad we represented! Also, in between Joan Jett’s set (hey, it rhymes) and The Who, the screens showed a visual history of The Who’s career and they mentioned that Joan Jett recorded her first album at The Who’s studio and she didn’t have any money at the time so she promised to pay back the money (and she did) and also included a Who cover as the b-side of her first single.
6. Like with Joan Jett, The Who have so many classic songs, that even if you think you are sick of them, they sound amazing when an arena full of people are singing them in unison. Some examples of the massive hits played were “Who Are You,” “The Kids Are Alright,” “My Generation,” “Pinball Wizard,” “You Better You Bet,” “Baba O’Riley,” “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” and “Eminence Front.”
7. The Who didn’t just play the same old boring setlist (which from my research looks like it varies a little bit for each show). They packed the set with hits, but they also played some lesser known tracks such as the mini-opera “A Quick One (While He’s Away),” “Slip Kid,” “Bargain,” “Sparks,” “Join Together,” and “I’m One.”
No Marijuana Smoking
8. Roger Daltrey got a ration of shit recently for complaining that people were smoking pot too close to the stage. To not look like such an asshole, before the concert, the above message was shown to the audience explaining that the smoke bothers Roger’s voice and if compromised, the show could be canceled. Roger also addressed this on stage, which made a lot of people roll their eyes. Seems a little on the douchey side, but the message was redeemed when they offered an alternative – “eat one of them funny cakes instead.”
The Who at Barclays
9. The Who mentioned numerous times before, during and after the show that proceeds from selected tour ephemera would be donated to help children fight cancer. Pretty commendable because most merch proceeds from big bands go into building another wing for their mansions.
Keep Calm and Listen to The Who
10. To think that The Who have been performing some of these songs for 50 years is so impressive. They found a way to breathe new life into their older material and as a result, this did not come across as a sad version of a formerly great band. Instead, they rocked harder than many bands who weren’t even born when The Who had their last hit song. If The Who come to your city, should you see them? You better, you better, you bet!
Joan Jett’s set list was:
Bad Reputation / Cherry Bomb / Do You Wanna Touch Me (Oh Yeah) / You Drive Me Wild / Light of Day / Love is Pain / The French Song / Different / I Love Rock and Roll / Crimson & Clover / I Hate Myself For Loving You
The Who’s set list was:
I Can’t Explain / The Seeker / Who Are You / The Kids Are Alright / I Can See For Miles / My Generation / Behind Blue Eyes / Slip Kid / Bargain / Join Together / You Better You Bet / I’m One / Love, Reign O’er Me / Eminence Front / A Quick One (While He’s Away) / Amazing Journey (with “Captain Walker” snippet from “Overture”) / Sparks / Pinball Wizard / See Me, Feel Me / Baba o’Riley / Won’t Get Fooled Again
Photo by G.
FKA Twigs (Tahliah Barnett) and Geoffrey Dicker
Hot new artist alert! Tahliah Barnett, better known as FKA Twigs is a trip hop/R&B/pop singer from Britain and in addition to her gorgeous look, her music is infectious. She performed a show at Glasslands in Brooklyn the other night and whilst she kept the mood going by virtually performing in the dark, that makes for horrible photos. So in lieu of those, I will tell you that FKA stands for “formerly known as” since another artist named Twigs was upset that she took on the name Twigs, which refers to the sound her joints make when they crack. Learn more about FKA Twigs on her website. Best of luck to you Tahliah and I look forward to seeing you again!
Words and photos by G.
After seeing Lady Gaga perform at Roseland Ballroom on April 4, 2014, I thought I’d seen the biggest spectacle possible that weekend, but I was dead wrong. Miley Cyrus’ Bangerz (sic) tour came to Barclays Center in the dreaded Brooklyn on April 5, 2014 and full disclosure: I expected to despise the show. From what little I’d heard Of Miley’s music up to walking into the venue, I was not impressed with it (despite giving credit where credit is due – she can actually sing). I will say, that I left the venue not thinking very much more of her music (again, giving her full credit for singing live unlike so many other pop stars), but as far as the performance, it was probably one of the best shows of the year (and if this is your first time seeing the site, know that I see several hundred bands a year, so this speaks volumes). As you read my observations about the Bangerz Tour, please note that I’m going to have to get up on my soap box a few times.
1. Miley Cyrus doesn’t give a FUCK! I think it’s commendable that she started off as a squeaky clean child star and not only did a 180 degree turn, but she basically has poured gasoline all over her old self and has lit the match. Soap Box Alert: While oldsters like myself were able to look at the show from an objective point of view, having a blast people watching and also observing the spectacle of the show itself, it made me seriously fear for the future of the planet. The audience featured tons of girls (without their parents) who looked like they were seriously underage and who were all dressed like whores (low cut everything and leaving very little to the imagination). I am not a prude. If you want to dress like a whore or a nun, more power to you! What is concerning is that I am smart and old enough to know the difference between self expression and self degradation. I am not sure the majority of the concert goers are that fortunate. As evidenced by the excessive selfie-taking instead of being present in the moment, if the audience by and large walked away from this concert feeling empowered in ANY way, the world is in serious trouble!
2. Before the show started, the music over the loud system had generous helpings of profanity-laden songs using the “N-Word” and explicit lyrics such as “suck my dick” and “motherfucker” and these songs were audience sing-a-longs. So I am confused – as a white person, if I use the “N-Word,” I am going to hell, yet it’s perfectly ok to use it in a pop song and is appropriate to encourage young kids to sing it?! If people are going to still use the word, the stigma that comes along with it either needs to go away across the board or stop jumping down people’s throats when you are not treated equally. Playing this kind of music before the show started sets such a bad example to her young and impressionable audience. I would have preferred “common sense lessons” being blasted over the loud speakers with phrases such as “IF YOU ARE GOING TO TEXT INCESSANTLY, YOU ARE NOT LIVING IN THE MOMENT” or “YOU ARE NOT THE ONLY PERSON ON THE PLANET SO PLEASE BE CONSIDERATE OF OTHERS” or “THERE IS SO MUCH AMAZING ART OUT THERE ON THIS PLANET, EXPLORE IT AND QUIT WASTING YOUR TIME WITH THIS CRAP.”
Miley Cyrus Merch
3. The merch featured an inflatable banana (!!!!) that said “Miley Cyrus Bangerz,” low cut panties with a tongue sticking out over the crotch and a poster of Miley where she is pretty much showing her pussy, which appears to be clean shaven and makes her look even younger than her 21 years, according to the picture. Hey, if she can show it, I can talk about it. I am 100% guilt free. I hate sounding like a prude, because I am one of the most liberal people out there, but showing that much skin when her body looks way younger than her 21 years is VERY CREEPY and encourages a lot of bad behavior from the young and old.
4. The visuals Miley used were so good! From the opening of the show, the visual presentation was damn near perfect. A giant version of her face started the show on a screen and as she did one of her signature looks of sticking her tongue out, a giant tongue appeared from the screen which turned into a slide and then she slid down it and the show began! Later on, there was every permutation of trippy visuals that would have not been out of place at a Flaming Lips or Grateful Dead show! But of course, during a costume change, there was a several minute montage of Miley wearing next to nothing and in bondage gear (see below for a tame picture). Again, very artful pictures and for someone like me, I think the pictures were very sexy, but I’m a gay guy who can appreciate fierceness. To so many young kids in the audience who just want to emulate their idol, can you imagine how many extra nudie kid pix are going to be out there because of this?
Miley Cyrus – screen projection
5. Miley Cyrus’ dog died earlier in the week, and she was understandably and visibly distraught. She paid tribute to her dog no less than 5 times, including a gigantic inflatable dog (see below for a glimpse of how large the dog was), which of course she dry humped.
Miley Cyrus paying tribute to her deceased dog Floyd but humping his leg.
6. Miley Cyrus delivers a stadium-worthy performance, unquestionably. She interacts with the audience, gets them all riled up and has them eating out of the palm of her hand. So many bands have forgotten what you are supposed to do when you perform in a stadium. Bands like Arctic Monkeys who stand in front of a thin row of lights that are placed over the letters AM, clearly don’t need to have dancing midgets, but come on bands, give us a show! And Miley’s show featured insanely cool visual projections, midget dancers, dancers dressed up as fluorescent teddy bears, movable parts on the stage (including a car and a bed), and of course my favorite part of the show – a flying hot dog (see picture later)! The costumes were over the top and speaking of costumes, it’s a wonder why Miley even bothered getting dressed at all because she was practically naked and shaking her ass (which was visible) for the duration of the 2 hour show (except for one outfit, though that was sheer). Again, as a 21 year old, her body is in great shape (I personally think she looks like a 15 year old girl, which is what makes her nudity so creepy to me), so I say get naked, live long and prosper. But again (soap box alert), do the people in her audience know the difference of when it’s appropriate to express yourself and when you are inviting lots of perverts to stare at your way young looking body by exploiting yourself? Miley has a team of people working with her (and exploiting her with her consent for assloads of money that she is surely raking in during this sold out tour), but do your children have someone to turn to when they set themselves up for the inevitable exploitation and the emotional scarring that is almost certain to come from emulating Miley? And if not, you just have to think about all the negativity that puts out into the world whether that comes in the form of kids growing up with trust issues or negative body issues, etc. It’s scary and completely avoidable.
7. Miley encouraged the crowd to express themselves too. She encouraged pot smoking, same sex kissing and even had a song where she told the crowd to get naked and the more naked they got, the better chance they had of appearing on the big screen projecting out to the crowd. I am all for pot smoking, nudity and same sex kissing, so it’s hard not to sound like a curmudgeon, but it only seems like Miley is trying to be controversial by being so extreme. I recently saw footage of old interviews with her where she pretty much denounced homosexuality and drug taking due to her religious upbringing, so I feel like she is not only full of shit in her new found independence, but she is setting such a bad example purposely when she knows there are tons of young people looking up to her when she’s not going to be there for them when they develop complexes about all the things she encouraged them to do.
8. She covered Bob Dylan (“You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go”), Lana Del Rey (“Summertime Sadness”), Coldplay (“The Scientist”) and Dolly Parton (“Jolene”). Amazing to me that she can dabble in music this diverse when her own songs sound completely generic, overproduced and unoriginal. And the sad thing is, because her audience is so young and inexperienced, they don’t know that there is a world of amazing music out there because they are being force fed this auto-tuned crapola.
9. Each number seemed to get more ridiculous than the one before it, and though it was visually amusing, it seemed like a desperate cry for attention. In the two hour show, we saw Miley dancing with midgets, spreading her legs on top of a gold car, humping the leg of a blow up dog, Miley touching herself on a bed surrounded by all of her dancers, leotards creeping so far up her ass they were practically wiping her pancreas (to quote Andrew Dice Clay), twerking, inflatable animals, fluorescent life sized teddy bears, insanely trippy visual projections, people in the audience throwing masks on stage and Miley putting them on and singing with them on and last but not least, my favorite part of this show…
Miley Cyrus Rides A Flying Hot Dog!!!
10. She rode a flying hot dog!!!!! EPIC!!!!
Again, parents please talk to your kids and tell them what is up. Please teach them common sense. I’m not saying “right and wrong.” Those are a matter of opinion. Common sense is being cognoscente of the fact that YOU ARE NOT THE ONLY PERSON ON THE PLANET, SO PAY ATTENTION AND BE CONSIDERATE OF OTHERS! Please tell them when it’s appropriate to express yourself and when it makes you look like a fucking slut. And foremost, please culture them in art and entertainment so this horrible music will die once and for all.
The setlist (spelling errors in tact) was:
SMS (Bangerz) / 4×4 / Love Money Party / My Darlin’ / Maybe You’re Right / FU / Do My Thang / #GETITRIGHT / Can’t Be Tamed / Adore You / Drive / Rooting For My Baby / You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go (Bob Dylan Cover) / Summertime Sadness (Lana Del Rey Cover) / The Scientist (Coldplay Cover) / Jolene (Dolly Parton Cover) / 23 / On My Own / Someone Else.
Encore: We Can’t Stop / Wrecking Ball
Encore 2: Party in the USA
G Rides A Flying Hot Dog!
For the record: Will I put any Miley Cyrus music on my ipod? Doubtful. Will I go see her in concert again? Absofuckinglutely.