If you read any music website these days, they can’t stop stroking it over the band Arctic Monkeys. During the release of last year’s “AM” album, their fifth record, the band blew up and are now playing arenas. Despite their growing popularity, prior to seeing them live, I’d only heard two of their songs. Because I am in a position to meet the people that create the art, I often choose to meet the artist before I take a look at their work because from experience, countless artists of all genres that have severely rocked my world have been super cool and others whose art I could take or leave have turned out to be pricks. There is too much choice in the world for me to waste my time with people that have little or no respect for the very people that have contributed to their success. Despite having TWO bad experiences meeting this band, I fully admit that the two songs I know from this band I quite enjoy, so I decided to give them the benefit of the doubt and see them live.
This has happened to me many times before where I am literally sitting in an arena filled with 18,000 people and I have NO IDEA of any of the music I am about to hear. This method is not for everyone, but I highly recommend it. You can truly go in with an open mind and let these people do their jobs as rock stars and turn you into a fan before the night is over. Arctic Monkeys played their largest ever US show on February 8, 2014 at Madison Square Garden in New York. Here are 10 observations from my experience at the show.
1. The concert was not much of a ‘show.’ Playing Madison Square Garden is a privilege and not a right, so one would have thought this show would have been a spectacle as most concerts at the Garden are, especially since the band has spent 5 albums working up to this moment. Instead, the Arctic Monkeys had a gigantic but thin “A M” sign behind the band that lit up predictably during most songs. It was definitely a medium sized show placed in a large venue.
2. Arctic Monkeys do very little to get the crowd engaged. There was little banter between lead singer Alex Turner and the crowd. Turner played guitar for most songs and as a result, he stood in one place behind the microphone stand for the majority of the show. Crowd sing-a-longs were not happening either, which brings me to point number 3…
3. Arctic Monkeys songs are mostly forgettable. They do have some catchy moments, but would I rather listen to or see a band like Kasabian, Fratellis or Scissor Sisters whose music will not leave your head once it burrows itself inside? Yeah, any day! I mention these three bands because to me, Arctic Monkeys are an amalgamation of these 3 bands. I made myself a playlist of all the songs they performed in concert so I can focus on the studio versions and like I felt at the show, the music is pleasant and not offensive, but that’s about all I can say for it. I don’t see myself listening to their music on constant repeat.
4. Their music is very formulaic overall. Not very exciting verses and large choruses. So original. NOT!
5. They focused too much on their new album. They played all but 2 tracks off their newest record so fans that have been with Arctic Monkeys since the beginning have effectively been forgotten at their largest show to date in America. What a way to say thanks to your fans. Based on my not good experiences of meeting them, I am not surprised one bit.
6. The crowd was limp. As I said earlier, the band did very little to get the crowd engaged but for this bullet point, I’d like to focus on the lack of the crowd getting excited during songs. Sure there was generous applause in between songs, but it seemed that once a song started, people went back to texting and taking annoying cell phone pictures of either the band or the people they came with instead of getting involved with the show. I spent a lot of time looking around at the crowd reaction during the songs and for the lack of excitement I saw, I think people would have been better off playing the records at home and saving the expense and hassle of going to an arena. This is actually an observation that can be noted at most concerts as technology has really hindered people’s ability to live in the moment, but that’s a grievance for another day.
7. Their music, though popular, had little crossover appeal with people over 30. The crowd was extremely young and I felt like a dinosaur. For a rock band, I thought the crowd would be a bit more diverse, but I was wrong.
8. Lead singer Alex Turner is cute. Not the hottest guy I’ve ever seen, but he definitely has a 1950s greaser vibe going on and when I found myself getting bored, I was happy that I had some eye candy.
9. They covered The Beatles as safely as possible. It was the 50th Anniversary of the Beatles being on the Ed Sullivan Show on the weekend of the Arctic Monkeys concert so they played a little tribute to the Fab Four. They chose “All My Loving.” It was a “by the numbers” cover. No risk involved. Of course, every music site is juicing all over it like they took a risk and played “Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey” or “Helter Skelter” which would have been much more suited to their style. But with the new trend in playing covers, I am grateful they didn’t do an ironic cover where they played an acoustic version of a song that has no business being disrespected that way.
10. Final thoughts. I am more familiar with Arctic Monkeys than I was before I walked into the show. I can’t say I hated the show, because I did not. I also can’t say that I will become a die hard after seeing them live. They have a handful of songs that I can see myself revisiting and they have many more that were completely forgettable to me. I make it my mission to have fun wherever I go, in spite of my surroundings, and yes, I had fun. But that says more about me than it says about Arctic Monkeys. I can’t believe that in the two times I’ve seen this band in “autograph situations” they chose to ignore fans because I see no reason to patronize a mediocre band who have let a tiny bit of fame go to their heads. There are plenty of other bands who appreciate the position they are in and who are better performers.
The setlist was:
Do I Wanna Know? / Brainstorm / Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair / Snap Out of It / Crying Lightning / Old Yellow Bricks / Fireside/ Knee Socks / Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High? / Arabella / Dancing Shoes / Pretty Visitors / I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor / Cornerstone / I Wanna Be Yours / Fluorescent Adolescent / 505 (with Miles Kane)
All My Loving (The Beatles cover) (with Miles Kane) / One For The Road / R U Mine?
On December 13, 2013, New York’s own MGMT played Barclays Center in Brooklyn, thus making it MGMT’s biggest NY show to date. Here are 10 observations from my experience at the show.
1. Every hipster in New York was at the MGMT show.
2. After seeing MGMT in small venues (Mercury Lounge), medium sized venues (Webster Hall), festivals (All Points West), large venues (Radio City Music Hall), and museums (Guggenheim), their best show to date was the arena (Barclays) show where they were able to show off extremely cool visuals and they let the music do the talking. Though being a “hipster who jumped the shark” type band, their songwriting is really excellent.
3. During their epic 12 minute song “Siberian Breaks,” which features many changes, the audience had no idea it was the same song and applauded thunderously as each change happened.
4. MGMT smartly paced out their 3 major “hits” (‘Time to Pretend,’ ‘Electric Feel’ and ‘Kids’) and after “Kids” was played at least 1/2 of Barclays Center made a mass exodus for the door, despite there being several songs to go.
5. Even though they played 5 songs from their disappointingly horrible new album, they were peppered in between their more “catchy” and “linear” songs off their first two albums, therefore not derailing the momentum of the show too badly.
6. Although the setlist was 16 songs long, favorites such as “The Handshake,” “Brian Eno,” “Astro-Mancy,” “Destrokk” and “Future Reflections” were omitted.
7. Nearly everyone around where I sat took selfies for the duration of the show.
8. The “cheap seats” section was closed thus messing with the acoustics of the arena and the sound was pretty bad, whereby it was very echo-y and it was very hard to make out the lyrics.
9. A gigantic cowbell was played during “Your Life Is A Lie,” and when Gibby Haynes from Butthole Surfers (who was a special guest that came out to play the dreaded instrument) missed his cues, you could still hear the sound of the cowbell thus potentially arousing a “Cowbell Lipsync” scandal.
10. MGMT at BRCLYS were AWSM and a video of “Congratulations” will be coming soon!
The setlist was:
Flash Delirium / Time To Pretend / Introspection / The Youth / Of Moons, Birds & Monsters / Mystery Disease / It’s Working / Weekend Wars / I Found A Whistle / Siberian Breaks / Electric Feel / Your Life Is A Lie / Kids / Cool Song No. 2 / Alien Days
There are so many levels to “Autobiography” by Morrissey, I don’t even know where to begin. I guess I could start by saying this is one of the most poetically written books I’ve ever read (volumes of actual poetry included). Stephen Patrick Morrissey’s 450 page account of his own life sometimes makes you laugh, sometimes makes you want to become a poet and sometimes makes you want to hunt him down and smack the shit out of him.
It’s well over 100 pages before he even starts to talk about his own music career, opting instead to tell you about why Lou Reed and David Bowie are geniuses (no shit, Sherlock!). He also spends a great deal of those 100 plus pages (a trend that runs throughout the book) complaining about how life has wronged him and how none of it is his fault. In those rare moments where Morrissey drops a story such as one where he waited at a hotel to meet a band in his adolescence, talking about hanging out with rockers such as Chrissie Hynde, Nancy Sinatra or Bowie, you want to take Morrissey home with you and embrace him forever. When he (poetically) talks about his old teachers, the venom and bitterness he still feels towards them all these years later makes you just want to shout at your book – GET THE FUCK OVER IT!!!!
You almost never get the story behind the songs or music and instead, you learn of every single bad review, bad interview, bad business deal and bad manager Morrissey has had – and sadly, there are a lot. When he talks about his former Smiths band member Mike Joyce (drums) suing Morrissey and Johnny Marr for royalties, you feel sympathy at first because in reality, this case should have been thrown out immediately, but instead, the court case drags on and he punishes the reader for over 40 pages whereby you start to think that it is you who are actually on trial.
Despite never achieving Beatles-level success, The Smiths have firmly carved out their place in rock and roll history, yet that doesn’t seem to be good enough for the Moz who only mentions many of his solo or Smiths songs just to let you know that despite being pegged to debut at number one during their week of release, somehow they did not. He lets the reader know that he is ultra-sensitive and cries a lot, but doesn’t ever seem to realize a basic spiritual principle that we create our own destiny. He fails to recognize that maybe, just maybe he has caused these bad things to happen in his life. He rarely shows gratitude and wherever possible, he picks apart even the best of circumstances. Even towards the end of the book, he talks about the love that audiences shower him with nightly and not only is it not enough but it makes him look away.
If you’ve ever met Morrissey in person, you know in advance that you are almost guaranteed to have a bad experience (in many times of seeing him in the flesh, one of those many was positive for me) and as you read this book, it’s no wonder – he’s quite a miserable curmudgeon who seems impossible to please. With such a great gift to bestow upon the world, I find it really sad that he chooses to live his life so negatively. It’s also kind of shocking that after spilling the words out onto these pages, he never once has the epiphany that maybe it is HE who should change. After a lifetime of unsuccessfully playing and losing at the blame game, perhaps it is finally time Morrissey take responsibility for his own actions.
But for better or for worse this is who Morrissey is and his words, whether sung or written, are essential.
I went to see The Eagles on November 8, 2013 at Madison Square Garden in New York for the first of 3 sold out shows. Here are 10 insights I gleaned from watching the show.
1. Eagles fans have not aged well. There were not many young people at the show and it was sort of depressing to see so many obese fans with canes trying to squeeze into the seats.
2. The Eagles have a lot of good songs. They played a lot of them too including Tequila Sunrise, Witchy Woman, Lyin Eyes, Those Shoes, Hotel California, In The City, Take It To The Limit, Life In The Fast Lane, Desperado.
3. Having met Don Henley and Glenn Frey and knowing what motherfucking horrible miserable bastard assholes they are towards fans, every time they tried to say “Thanks” or show gratitude at the show, I knew 100% they were lying and I hoped a lighting rig would fall on them.
4. Joe Walsh was the highlight of the show. He played a few scorching guitar solos that brought smiles to my face.
5. Pre-recorded video messages by Henley and Frey to introduce certain songs were horrifyingly cheesy.
6. The loudest applause of the entire night was when Madison Square Garden got the video screens in the cheap seats to work about 7 songs into the concert.
7. After this show, there are very few living legends I have not seen in concert.
8. Despite looking a little worse for wear, the Eagles still sounded great.
9. The show should have been called the “We Want Your Cash Tour.”
10. While happy that I saw the Eagles to “cross them off my list of experiences I want to have in this life,” I will never see them again.
The Eagles – Timothy B Schmit, Glenn Frey, Don Henley, Joe Walsh
The set list was:
Saturday Night/ Train Leaves Here In The Morning / Peaceful Easy Feeling / Witchy Woman / Doolin’ Dalton / Tequila Sunrise / Doolin’ Dalton – Desperado (Reprise) / Already Gone / The Best of My Love / Lyin’ Eyes / One of these Nights / Take It To The Limit.
Pretty Maids All In A Row / I Can’t Tell You Why / New Kid In Town / Love Will Keep us Alive / Heartache Tonight / In The City / Life’s Been Good / The Long Run / Funk #49 / Life In The Fast Lane
On October 14, 2013 the mighty Nine Inch Nails played to a somewhat packed house at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. Hitting the stage at 8:45 pm, Trent Reznor and company played for a solid two hours playing tracks that spanned NIN’s catalog from “Head Like A Hole” to songs like “Copy of A” from their latest record “Hesitation Marks.” Criminally, “Closer” and “Only,” two of my favorite Nine Inch Nails songs were absent from the set list, but the light show that accompanied every song more than made up for the set list omissions. As the show went on, each track had more intricate lighting and at times, it felt like you were flying.
I would like to point out that from my seat, I probably sat near one of the best behaved crowds I’ve ever experienced at a concert, which is strange as you would expect lots of craziness at a NIN show. I guess it just goes to show you should never judge a band by their fans. If you remotely like any songs by Nine Inch Nails, you should definitely catch them in concert as you will witness a sound and visual extravaganza. The show nearly gives Pet Shop Boys a run for their money in terms of insane visuals, but I still think the Boys win the prize for the most visually stunning concert of 2013. Nine Inch Nails are a close second though.
Below, you can see a video of their classic “Terrible Lie.” Posting this video is so awesome for me because when NIN were a new act, I could honestly say “it was not my kind of music.” I’ve grown a lot since then and have really opened my mind in hopes to experience as much as possible and judging from the photos I post on this site, I have succeeded. Apologies if the video gets blurry at times. The lighting occasionally made my camera freak out. That is not a terrible lie. This is….
The setlist was:
Copy of A / 1,000,000 / Terrible Lie / March of the Pigs / Piggy / All Time Low / Disappointed / Came Back Haunted / Find My Way / The Frail / The Wretched / Satellite / In Two / Survivalism / Running / A Warm Place / Somewhat Damaged / Wish / Burn / The Hand That Feeds / Head Like A Hole
The Day The World Went Away / Even Deeper / While I’m Still Here / Black Noise / Hurt