Tag Archive: concert


The past few days have been rather productive…

Thursday was my day off. I started by paying my rent and dropping a bill in the mail. Then I went downtown to talk to the ESC about my claim. They told me everything was processed, but evidently there’s still some issue with my claim, so I’m gonna have to call there before work on Monday and see what’s up. I got my letter in the mail and it said there was something wrong, and when I filed my weekly certification it said I wouldn’t be getting paid this week. I’m wondering if the fact that I’m still employed complicates things, or if maybe my boss is trying to fight it or something. Hopefully I can get it figured out soon, because still no bites as far as other jobs go.

When I got home I went on a cleaning spree – vacuuming the living room and my bedroom and cleaning the microwave. I watched a little television and then cooked a nice dinner. Then I went to work on some art. A while back my friend Cassidy asked me to paint her a puppy, so that’s what I did. I did a light wash on some Japanese paper, then when it was dry I drew a cartoon-ish puppy, his doghouse, and some trees in the background. It’s pretty cheesy looking, but I’m fairly certain she’ll like it. Then I started on another piece in my Musings Of A Predator Drone series, which I eventually finished Friday before work. Other than that, Friday was pretty uneventful.

Today I woke up entirely too early to go to Geekout, a convention modeled after the big comic-cons that happen all over the world. I met up with James and Nici there and we roamed around for a while. We were all surprised by just how small it was – they didn’t even fill up the bottom level of UNCA’s basketball stadium. Most of the booths were just people selling prints of their geek culture-themed artwork, and a ridiculous amount of nerdy jewelry. There was live music, but it wasn’t particularly good. There was sword fighting with giant foam swords, a few panel discussions on things none of us were interested in, and gaming rooms where you could pay to play in tournaments. After about an hour and a half we were bored, having walked by every booth three or four times. They left to go see a movie and I picked up a quick lunch and then took a nap. I went back a little before 5:00 for a “shadow cast” of Doctor Horrible’s Sing Along Blog. Basically it was a handful of people lip synching along while the actual production played on the screen behind them. The only one who was really in costume was Doctor Horrible, and while he definitely looked the part, he wasn’t particularly good at miming the motions. The guy playing Captain Hammer was tall and scrawny – he’s lucky if he weighs 100 pounds. He basically just wore a black t-shirt with a paper print of the Captain Hammer logo taped to it. The girl who played Penny was actually incredibly hot, and seemed to have a bit more personality than the others, even though her timing and lip synching skills weren’t exactly great either. They recruited people from the audience to do some of the non-essential characters, and in all honesty they did just as good a job as the supposed professionals putting on the production. Overall I’d say Geekout was basically a bust – a good way to kill a few hours, but ultimately disappointing and definitely not worth the cost of admission.

As of this writing I’m basically killing time before dinner, and then after dinner I’ll be going to a concert. The band Murder By Death is playing the Asheville Music Hall. While they’re not necessarily popular, they’re still a pretty big name for a venue that typically gets only local and regional bands. I told my neighbor Angela about the concert, and she looked them up online and decided she wants to go too. She’ll be bringing along her new boyfriend, and based on what she was saying, they’ll most likely leave early or right when it ends. While I’m not a huge fan of MBD, I really like the sound they have going on. Hopefully it will translate well and they’ll put on a pretty good show. I’m under the impression that any band with a cellist will make for an entertaining evening. James and Nici invited me to some burlesque thing at The Boiler Room, but it starts at the same time as the concert. Depending on when the concert ends I might swing by there and check it out, but probably not. I’ll more than likely just come home and veg out, in preparation for a nice boring day tomorrow…..

 

So last night was the big night. Jeff Mangum, live at The Grey Eagle. A few months ago I waited outside of Harvest Records for hours to get tickets to what would become the fastest sellout in Grey Eagle history. And it was totally worth it.

I ended up taking my friend Morgan, a big Neutral Milk Hotel fan. I had asked Katie, but she had already planned a birthday party for the same day and didn’t want to shuffle things around. Her actual birthday was Wednesday, but she was in Atlanta until Friday night. We decided that I would go to the concert and then when it was over I would join up with the birthday party, already in progress. But more on that later…

Morgan finally got a car, and drove over to my place a little before the show. It was snowing and she freaked out, so I drove to the concert. Parking was ridiculous. I wound up parking in front of a warehouse about a quarter of a mile from the Grey Eagle. The place was pretty packed, with people lined up into the parking lot waiting to get in. They had two lines going, based on last name, and it was nearly fifteen minutes before we were inside.

The opening band was a duo called Tall Firs. They both played electric guitars in various tunings through lots of effects. It was pretty mellow and atmospheric, with a sort of dream-pop/slowcore vibe going on. I bought one of their albums, but it’s very different. They have a drummer (or did at the time of this album, which came out in 2008) and the sound is more straight ahead rock. Evidently one of the guys is a guitar tech for Sonic Youth and they’re on Thurston Moore’s label. A lot of the CD reminds me of Sebadoh. I hear a little Pavement in there, and possibly some of Sonic Youth’s less experimental and noisy moments. I’m going to have to check out their other stuff and see how it compares, but I like the CD I bought a lot.

After a brief intermission Jeff Mangum took the stage. He looks a bit different from when we last saw him, with a huge greying beard that makes him look very Asheville. He opened with “Holland, 1945” and it quickly became obvious that the entire night would be one giant sing along. He played a few more songs from In The Aeroplane Over The Sea and threw in a few from On Avery Island as well. He didn’t really talk a lot in between songs, except to thank the crowd for being so supportive. On several occasions the usually dark and depressed Morgan suddenly turned into a twelve-year-old cheerleader, screaming her head off and countering every Jeff Mangum thank you with a “no, thank you!”

On several songs during the first half of his performance, Mangum hummed the melodies that were played by a horn section on the album. I like to think of myself as being somewhat observant, so it didn’t escape me that for some reason there were four microphones on stage. Even though I knew it was coming, when the horn section came out for “Oh Comely,” I just about lost it. Everything sounded perfect, perhaps even better than on the album. After thunderous applause from the crowd, he launched into an extended version of “Naomi,” and again the horns came out. He closed with “Two Headed Boy,” but this time the horn section was joined by a guy with a floor tom and another guy with a tambourine. They played the instrumental “The Fool” and then everyone left the stage as the crowd went insane. Jeff returned for an encore of “In The Aeroplane Over The Sea.” Pretty much everyone there was singing along, and when the horns came out one last time it was the perfect end to an amazing performance.

I wound up buying In The Aeroplane Over The Sea on 180 gram vinyl, and while I was a little disappointed that it wasn’t a gatefold, the artwork looks amazing. The record itself has the phonograph/plane/whatever picture on the label and the lyrics and credits are on a sheet inside the sleeve. I stuck my ticket stub and bracelet inside the sleeve as well. I was hoping to get him to sign it, but the guy at the merchandise table said he doesn’t usually come out to sign and meet with people. Oh well, still totally worth it.

After the show we came back to my place. Morgan didn’t stick around, and I attempted to get in touch with Katie. She wasn’t answering her phone, so I assumed either she couldn’t hear it or was already too drunk to perform such a high level action. I remembered that she said their pub crawl was starting at The Yacht Club, so I decided to go down there and see if they were still there. The guy said they had already left and he didn’t know where they were. I decided to try another of her usual haunts, Broadway’s, but they weren’t there either. Finally she returned my text message and said they were at a gay bar. I asked where it was, but she said they were leaving. I told her I’d take a rain check and she should come over tonight so I could give her her birthday present(s). This afternoon I talked to her and she said she was really hung over and hanging out with her family. As of yet she hasn’t gotten home, so I’m thinking we’re not going to hang out tonight. Hopefully I’ll get to see her tomorrow.

I think I’m going to work on some paintings and then attempt to get to sleep at a decent hour. The End.

 

I’m writing this from my family’s house. It’s the wee hours, Christmas Eve/Christmas Day. In about five hours my family will want to wake up to open presents. I should be exhausted, yet I’m not. It’s pretty much impossible to sleep around here, for one reason or another. So out of boredom and the need for an update on life, let’s back up…

Last Wednesday my probable roommate came over to do some measurements. It looks as though his stuff is going to fit, so at this point all that’s left is for him to go to the office and apply. Later that night I met a girl named Amber who I’ve been talking to on OKCupid and Facebook. She’s a redhead, she works with autistic people, and she’s in recovery, five years sober. She seems really sweet and intelligent, but I’m not sure what I think about her yet. I’ll probably try to get up with her after the holidays and then see how things go.

Thursday night after work I went to Walmart for a few quick things and ended up waiting in line for almost an hour. I wrapped Christmas presents and finished a new painting. On Friday my friend Rhiannon came into town, along with her boyfriend and some friends of theirs, another couple. I stayed up pretty late talking and goofing off and was extremely sleepy at work on Saturday.

After work Saturday we met back up downtown. I waited while Rhiannon and her boyfriend got new tattoos, then we went in search of food. My neighbor Angela sent me a text saying that she was at the LAB with my other neighbor Michelle. They hit it off nicely with Rhiannon and my new friends and everyone had a pretty good time. Rhiannon and Michelle did more than a little flirting with each other, which was pretty interesting to say the least. After dinner we split up, with Angela, Michelle, and I staying at the LAB and the others going to the Boiler Room for some techno fetish Christmas party. Playing that night at LAB was an old friend from Fayetteville who I haven’t seen in years, a guy named Ryan who performs under the name Rookie Of The Year. We hung out afterward and he bought me a drink and gave me a deal on his newest CD. It’s not exactly my prefered style of music, but definitely a step up from his last album. I rode home with Angela and Michelle and then we hung out at Angela’s apartment for a while. Rhiannon and her friends got back around 3:00, very drunk and giggly. We chatted for a while and then everyone went to sleep.

I somehow managed to wake up extremely early Sunday to pack my stuff and load my car. I spent the whole day at work alternating between nodding off and consuming more caffeine. After work I met up with a guy named Christian. He posted on Reddit that he needed a ride to Statesville and would pay gas money. I figured I was going that way anyway, I might as well. In Hickory, after much confusion, we met up with my friend Lucie. Christian’s sister came to Hickory and picked him up, and Lucie and I had dinner, drinks, and chatted. After dinner I set back on the road, alone, but with the help of much more caffeine. I arrived at my family’s house around 1:00. Earlier today a few of my mom’s friends came over, followed by my sister, her new husband, and the kids. We had dinner, opened a few presents, drank, and watched TV. Everyone is either gone or asleep now, and I’m thinking at some point in time I should follow suit.

A lot of my family’s Christmas traditions haven’t happened this year. We didn’t go to Midnight Mass, we’ve yet to watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, etc. It doesn’t really feel like Christmas, which I suspect is part of being an adult. It’s still my favorite holiday, but it’s becoming more and more just another day. And now I’m finally starting to get sleepy, so perhaps the time for rambling is over. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, The End.

 

Milk, booze, and phlegm

Thursday morning I braved the bitter cold to stand outside of Harvest Records for over two hours to get tickets to see Jeff Mangum (of Neutral Milk Hotel) at the Grey Eagle. The show isn’t until February, but it became the fastest sell-out in Grey Eagle history. Harvest ran out of tickets in fifteen minutes. The Grey Eagle’s website was sold out in four. Tickets went on sale at 11:00. I got there at 9:00 and was sixth in line. The girl who was first said she spent the night there. Evidently a lot of people still love Neutral Milk Hotel. But yeah so I got two tickets, and while I was there decided to pick up some new music. I got the new Menomena album on double vinyl (but the download doesn’t have any of the vinyl-only bonus tracks, wtf???) and a few used CD’s. A pretty productive morning.

Today I woke up with a sore throat and felt pretty blah for most of the day. A girl I know was having a birthday pub crawl and invited me, but I decided to decline. I watched a little TV and downed a mug of TheraFlu. Hopefully I’ll feel better soon, because tomorrow is a big day…

I’ll be going to the Mountain Xpress Best of WNC Bash to represent True Blue. And I’ll be taking Sarah. She doesn’t know how to get there, so we’re gonna meet somewhere after I get off of work and then take one car over. We’ll probably grab some dinner at the little taco stand inside the Grey Eagle. My boss wants me to be social with her for the first hour or so and then I’m free to do whatever. It’ll be a good chance to meet some local business owners and employees and do a little networking, and as a reward I get to hear free music and spend some time with Sarah. Should be a pretty fun evening.

Sunday is our Customer Appreciation Party. I don’t have to be there at any certain time, but I told her I’d come by for a little while. Other than that I pretty much have the day to do nothing. Sunday night I’ll be getting together with my other friend Sarah, the one who has been my concert hookup for the past year or so. She’s getting ready to head to South Korea to teach English and is trying to get rid of all her stuff. She’s selling me a laptop for $10. I don’t know anything about it, but the price is right. And I still owe her dinner since she bought me dinner on my birthday and then had to cancel when I had agreed to buy her dinner for her birthday. Should be yet another fun evening.

Monday I will get to give my two weeks notice at the gas station, which is most definitely cause for celebration. In addition to a much lower stress level, I’ll have an extra free day each week. And I’m joining a credit union, since I won’t have that gas station direct deposit to keep me from having to pay BB&T’s new monthly fee. Anywho, it appears this TheraFlu is starting to kick in and I’m feeling a bit woozy. Off to bed!

 

So the last time I wrote something in here I was anticipating going to see A Place To Bury Strangers with my friend Rhiannon. I took Monday off and we decided to meet around 1:00, which would give me a chance to (finally) sleep in. Of course, life had other plans. My landlord called me around 9:00, then again an hour later, and another hour or so later. They decided to send their “other” maintenance guy out to look at our fridge. He works mainly on their other properties, and basically if he says it can’t be fixed, they take his word for it. He looked at my fridge and came to just that conclusion. Hopefully that means I’ll get a new fridge soon. Fingers crossed…..

Also during that I-really-want-to-sleep stage between 9:00 and about 11:30 when I finally got out of bed, Morgan texted me. We chatted a bit and then I had to start getting ready. When I got out of the shower I saw I had a text from Rhiannon saying she was running behind. I took advantage of this extra time by doing a little shopping. I kept texting Morgan, who said she hoped I didn’t get stood up again. I assured her that wouldn’t happen and I tried to find other ways to occupy my time until Rhiannon finally got there.

We arranged to meet at Waffle House. Her car was messing up so she got her roommate, a guy named Ryan, to drive. He bought a ticket at the last minute and they headed to Asheville. It was around 3:00 when they finally got to Waffle House. We talked for a while and caught up, and then we went to the mall so she could look for some new running shoes. Along the way we went to Hollister, where she “ordered” a sex on the beach and I suavely asked the girl at the counter if she came here often. Oh, and Rhiannon freak-danced a mannequin.  After the mall we went to Goodwill. She found a HUGE bra and insisted we pose for pictures with our heads in the cups. One such picture became the most-liked picture on my Facebook page in years. Then we had dinner at Buffalo Wild Wings. When the waitress brought out celery, Rhiannon asked her if she had any peanut butter. She’s a complete and total lunatic. Which might be why we’re such good friends.

Finally it was time for the concert. I could write a detailed review like I usually do, but I don’t really have the time. Maybe another day. The short version is this… The opening band was a group called Bleeding Rainbow. They had a girl and guy who sang lead, a guitarist who mostly made random noises, and a drummer who frequently changed beats in the middle of a song. Their overall sound was kinda like if Courtney Love would’ve hooked up with Kevin Shields of My Bloody Valentine. They were pretty good; I wound up buying their newest album. Turns out the release got delayed and it won’t “officially” be out until January, but they had a few vinyl copies for sale, even though the mp3 download won’t work until the official release.

There really aren’t words to describe A Place To Bury Strangers. I love their first album, and the songs I’d heard of their second, but I wasn’t prepared for what I experienced. They were loud. Very loud. So loud their merch table sold earplugs. So loud that I wish I had bought said earplugs, because nearly two days later my ears were still ringing. We were right up at the stage, so that might have something to do with it. At that point the acoustics worked so as to make the guitars many decibels louder than anything else. Their guitarist/singer/songwriter is actually an engineer who makes all of the effects pedals he uses. And boy is he good at what he does. He created beautiful chaos, waves of sound and noise and feedback. The songs tended to blur into each other because of the sheer power of the guitars, but the band clearly put their hearts into their performance. I don’t remember the last time I saw a band play with such passion and energy. This might actually be one of the best concerts I’ve ever been to. In the tiny confines of The Emerald Lounge, their noise-rock sounded positively humongous. The light show was definitely the best I’ve ever seen, with projectors flashing up colors, patterns, flowers, TV clips, you name it. They had strobes and smoke machines galore, creating a beautiful visual experience. The vibe was amazing, and the crowd was mesmerized. For the finale, the guitarist guy put his guitar on the floor and let it feedback and echo, while he went around turning off the projectors and turning on more strobes. He took a strobe and held it up to his guitar, causing all sorts of interference and noise. Then he rubbed it up and down on the strings, creating a cacophony that was epic in every sense of the word. This was a show you truly didn’t want to miss a second of, because there was no telling what would happen next. It seemed like everything was total chaos, yet the band members were fully in control of it all. I don’t know what else to say, except that they are a must-see band.

After the show we drove around looking for bars, but evidently because of the unexpected winter weather they were all closed. We came back to my house and decided to drink there instead. And drink we did! Rhiannon is a bit of a lightweight, but I totally showed my tolerance. I had two ciders at the show, then two big glasses of gin and ginger, a glass of absinthe, a shot of absinthe, a shot of brandy, and half of one of those tiny bottles of flavored vodka. I got a little tipsy, but for the most part was my normal self. Rhi on the other hand got drunk off her ass, on about a third of what I had at that. If you think she’s crazy when she’s sober, you should see her drunk. Easily the most fun night I’ve had in years. The actual sleeping part of the night didn’t go nearly as well, as she’s a bed-hog who kept rolling over in her sleep and pushing me off the bed. We finally got out of bed around 1:00 to find everyone else already up and around.

Rhiannon and Ryan headed back to Charlotte and I headed to Blend to show my stuff to Joel, the guy who is coordinating things. Evidently he didn’t know what time they opened, and when I got there it was locked. He suggested going into nearby Loretta’s while he tried to get someone to come open up. No one ever came, and he liked every piece I brought. Since we couldn’t get into the bar, he took my stuff home and brought it back the next day. I stopped by after work to drop off my tags and sign the insurance waivers and whatnot. Turns out one of the other artists is out of town, so Sunday won’t work for the opening after all. He suggested Thursday, and even though he never said 100% that’s when it would be, that’s what I put on my quickie promotional posters. Hopefully nothing changes and I can actually get some people to come out to this. I’ve never worked with someone this disorganized, so it’s pretty frustrating. But it’s exposure, so hopefully it will be worth it.

Today was my day “off,” but I spent the whole day running around. I got my mini-posters printed and brought some to True Blue, along with a painting for our staff show this month. The rest of my evening was spent eating Chinese takeout, watching TV, and relaxing for a change. Tomorrow and Saturday I have to work, but I’ll be off Sunday. I originally took the day off because of the opening, but now that it’s been moved I have a free day. Morgan said that she might want a break from her studying, so perhaps we’ll get together. I’ll probably spend the rest of the day taking the final exams for my online classes. And that’s about it. The End.

 

A Weird Week

It’s been a full week since I updated. I’ve been pretty busy. Let’s go into more detail…..

Tuesday the guy from Skyrunner, a local internet company, came out to check if they could get a signal from my place. Sure enough they could. The only problem is my landlord doesn’t like the installation process. I guess an antenna the size of a pack of cigarettes and a tiny hole through which a cable is threaded is too intrusive for his liking. The maintenance guy told him to call up here on one of the days the girl is working in the office. She’s a little more tech-savvy and could better understand the process and explain to him it’s no big deal. But if that doesn’t work then I guess I’m stuck with Charter, which means a bigger bill. Blah.

The aforementioned maintenance guy came out that same day to look at our fridge. Evidently there’s a piece that is keeping the freezer fan from working, and to get to it he’d have to remove this whole front bracket. The fridge is so old that they no longer make the size hex wrench needed to take off the bolts. Hopefully this means they’ll give us a new fridge. But if one of my neighbors is any indication, that could take quite some time. Stupid cheap landlord.

Also on Tuesday I was supposed to have a date with Amber, a girl I met on a dating website. The same girl who texted me when I was out with Morgan last Saturday. She decided she didn’t feel well enough to drive to Asheville. She lives in Brevard, and I offered to drive there instead. At first she was down with the idea, then decided we should just reschedule. We decided on Thursday, my next day off. I texted her to get directions and she said that she had thought it over and she didn’t really want to date anyone right now. Why you would join a dating site if you don’t want to date is beyond me, but whatever.

Most of the rest of my week was spent stressing out. We fired someone last week at the art supply store, so we’ve been stretched pretty thin, with a lot of days being one person by themselves. Knowing that I would have very little free time because of a few social engagements and the last week of classes, I decided I needed to spend most of my time at work finishing up the newsletter. Trying to do that and run a store by myself is pretty hectic. Add to that the increasing difficulty of communicating with Joel from Blend about the show. He’s been terrible about responding to calls or emails, so the other day I went down there after work to see if the people at the bar knew anything more than I did. The girl who was there is actually dating one of the other artists, so she gave me his number. We talked it over and decided we need to take things into our own hands. We set a time for the show, and he’s going to get one of his friends to DJ. All we need to do is find out who the third artist is. Oddly enough, Joel just sent me a text message saying we should all get together to discuss things on Tuesday. Has he finally decided to coordinate this? Better late than never I suppose…..

Last night I hung out with Morgan again. She came over my place, and we basically just drank and talked about random stuff until my roommate and Joshua got home. Then they got involved in the conversation and it became even more random. A thirty-something couple, a nineteen year old college student, and the thirty-something guy who is hopelessly smitten, all talking about religion, sex, Mitt Romney, philosophy, Freud, origami, and art. With copious amounts of alcohol. It sounds like an indie rom-com in the making. But yeah, we all had a good time. Sofia and Joshua went to her room to watch a movie and Morgan asked me a lot of leading questions, possibly fishing for compliments. Because, you know, I don’t give her enough already. Somehow it became 1:30 and she decided it was time to go home. My neighbor Angela was coming home just as we were leaving, so I introduced them and we chatted for a few minutes. After I dropped her off I hung out at Angela’s place until I was too tired to be social. I came home and realized I needed to pay my Charter bill, and somehow ended up spending half an hour online. I attempted to go to sleep, but Ty’s roommate came home very drunk and very loud, and her voice echoed up to my window. Even when I closed it I could still hear her loud and clear. So yeah, I didn’t get much sleep. I drank three energy drinks just to get through work today and was still exhausted. Fun times.

Now I’m going to attempt to discipline myself enough to read the last few chapters for my online classes. Our final exam was released the other day, and even though we have until November 9 to finish it, I’d like to at least do something now, rather than wait until the last minute. Tomorrow my friend Rhiannon is coming up from Charlotte and we’re gonna hang out all day and then go see A Place To Bury Strangers at The Emerald Lounge. I’m pretty excited, both for the show and because I haven’t seen her in forever. But it basically means I won’t get any work done tomorrow, so yeah. Eventually I’ll need to try to get some sleep too. Man cannot live on caffeine alone. But he sure as hell can try…..

 

Today I had a doctor’s appointment. And I totally had to Google that to find out that “doctor’s appointment” was the correct way to say that. It was a follow-up to my appointment about two weeks ago, when I had a fasting lab. The results were overwhelmingly positive. My cholesterol and triglycerides continued to come down and all of my other readings were in the normal range. My triglyceride count is still a little high and my “good” cholesterol is still a little low, but compared to where I was a year ago, things are looking pretty good.

I’ve been getting niacin supplements from Amazing Savings for about as long as I’ve been taking them. With it being a discount store, you pretty much know that what you see there won’t be there forever. But they’ve had niacin as long as I could remember, and there didn’t seem to be any end to that. And then there was an end. I’ve looked everywhere, but most stores only carry the “flush free” niacin, which is usually inositol hexaniacinate, which doesn’t seem to really work. The Natrol brand niacin that Amazing Savings had is nicotinic acid, and obviously it’s been working. But now every pharmacy that used to sell the complete line of Natrol supplements only has a few, and no one seems to know why. After my appointment I went on the hunt again, and finally tracked down a 500 mg niacin that wasn’t flush free at Rite Aid, so hopefully it will work as well as the Natrol brand has. Fingers crossed.

Originally I was supposed to go see Andrew Bird with my friend Sarah tonight. We were discussing when to meet up and whatnot when it was announced that the show was cancelled. Evidently his van broke down somewhere in Kentucky. The show was rescheduled for October 21. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to do that, I’ll have to look at my finances. I’m already having to miss work on the 20th because that’s when I have to take my stuff down from The One Stop. As of right now I couldn’t afford to miss two days of work in the same week. Maybe I could leave early or something, who knows. Sarah took this as a blessing in disguise and didn’t want to do anything else, instead electing to stay at home and catch up on some things. I thought about calling some friends, but figured it was too short notice. I ended up just getting some Chinese takeout and watching How I Met Your Mother. It’s been rainy and dismal all day, which means that no matter how much sleep I got last night and no matter how much caffeine I’ve consumed, I’m sleepy. So I guess it’s just as well. Going to concerts and/or hanging out with friends while trying to stay awake isn’t exactly idea.

Well that’s about all for now.

 

Now that I’ve had a little time to gather my thoughts, I figured it was a good time to finally write a concert review…

Anyone who knows me knows that this was easily the most anticipated concert of the year for me. While I’ve slacked off somewhat on Sun Kil Moon, I’m a huge Red House Painters fan. The second I heard that Mark Kozelek was coming to The Grey Eagle I was sold. I bought my ticket a month ago, not willing to risk it selling out. I’ve been listening to the roller coaster album and Ocean Beach almost nonstop for the past week. In retrospect, perhaps I built things up a little too much in my mind. As a whole the show was good, but it’s hard not to be a little disappointed.

The first source of my disappointment came immediately after walking in the door. I was greeted by a sign telling us that the artist has requested there be no photography, video or audio recording, or even cell phone cameras. I’ve never been one of those people who records shows and trades videos and FLAC files, but I do like to snap a few pictures and record a few of my favorite songs, just for my own benefit. Most performers don’t seem to mind that very much; they’re just happy that you came out to the show. So I was a little bummed over that, but I got over it once the show started.

It was clear that this was meant to be an event, more than a concert. It was a seated show, with the lights very dim. Mark Kozelek took the stage, picked up a nylon-stringed acoustic guitar, sat on a stool, and went straight to work. It was several songs before he even said a word to the audience, perhaps preferring to let his music do the talking. He opened with a handful of Sun Kil Moon songs, one RHP track, and a few songs I didn’t recognize that might be new. After this initial set of songs he seemed to loosen up a little, talking more and joking around with the audience. He did a few more songs and then brought a friend up to accompany him on a baby grand piano. They played for almost an hour, doing selections from his entire career, along with a brand new song and a song by his pianist’s band. He abruptly ended things and walked off stage, only to return for an encore in which he took requests from several of the audience members.

Mark’s guitar work was both intricate and sublime, something that doesn’t always come across on his recordings. His voice seemingly hasn’t aged a bit, sounding just as sweet and melodic as it did way back in 1992. But the small, quiet, intimate setting kept the spotlight shining brightly on his lyrics – which seems to be what draws most fans to his music in the first place. Of the songs that I wasn’t familiar with, one in particular was extremely moving. Thanks to his no-taping policy and the fact that this song isn’t on any albums, no one really seems to know much about it. The chorus repeats the line “you missed my heart,” amid verses about lost love, addiction, and other pretty bleak themes. I highly recommend searching for “Mark Kozelek” and “you missed my heart.” There is a version on YouTube that is pretty low quality, but the beauty of the song still manages to come across. One can only hope that this song appears on a future release – or at least that someone manages to record a high quality bootleg.

As he loosened up, Mark showed a pretty crazy sense of humor. He commented on an empty seat up front and how it made him sad. A few minutes later a girl from another part of the audience had moved and filled the seat, prompting him to ask for her number and keep a continuous dialog going for the rest of the show. He made many jokes about being old and not being the sex symbol he was in the mid 90’s. Later in the show someone approached the stage and placed a beer at his feet. He proclaimed that he didn’t drink alcohol anymore, but thanks anyway. The audience mostly took this as a joke – the guy did just finish playing a song about heroin addiction – but seeing him with an O’Doul’s after the show makes me think he was being serious. He talked about how Asheville has been hit hard by the recession, joking (I think?) that the last time he was here people actually paid for merchandise with checks.

After the show I was met with my second major disappointment, when I learned that they couldn’t take debit or credit cards for any of the merchandise. Maybe I should have brought my checkbook? I asked the guy at the table if Mark was going to be meeting with people and he said he wasn’t sure. I wandered around for a while until I eventually found a crowd of people gathered, and sure enough, in the center there he was. He didn’t seem particularly interested in talking to most of them, offering short answers and seeming like his head was elsewhere. A girl who I assume he knows personally walked past and waved, and then he quickly broke away from the group to follow her and talk to her alone. She left and he started to walk towards the back and was once again surrounded by people. Again he found a way to break free from the crowd and track down someone else he seemed to know personally. Somehow I managed to get his attention long enough for him to sign the booklet from my copy of the roller coaster CD, which might have been an odd request, considering he only played one song off of it. But alas, it’s one of my favorite albums of the 90’s, so I made sure to bring it for him to sign.

A lot of people might have left this concert with an unflattering picture of Mark – detached, not very friendly, overly quiet and not much of a performer, etc. What I saw was someone very much like myself – an extreme introvert who never really got comfortable with the spotlight and the need to be outgoing and personable night in and night out. The initial set of songs was him warming up and getting used to being on stage. And tuning – he did that after every song. Then as he overcame his inhibitions, he was able to relax and joke around a bit. Having a friend join him on stage made him even more comfortable, to the point of doing an amazing encore of requests (including two from the girl who moved into the empty seat up front, and a beautiful closing version of “Mistress” that sent chills down my spine.) Once he left the stage and got swamped by people, you could see his comfort level quickly eroding, and in typical introvert fashion, he fled the crowds to seek out meaningful conversations with personal friends. I can’t fault the guy for behaving pretty much exactly how I would if I was playing a gig, but I can definitely see how some people might get the wrong impression about the guy. Luckily he is one of the few songwriters who can truly let the songs do the talking. Between his amazingly intricate guitar playing, smooth and soothing vocals, and achingly beautiful lyrics, he could basically do anything he wanted and true fans would still find a lot to love. Overall, it was a slightly disappointing experience, but the positives far outweighed the negatives, so I can’t really complain too much.

 

Things have still been kinda crazy around here. I’m a little behind on my homework (it feels really weird to say that after all these years) and I’ve been spending entirely too much time hanging out with friends and neighbors. But it’s all good – this whole social life thing might be foreign to me but I have a feeling it’s somewhat healthy.

Last night I hung out with Michelle and this guy who I can only assume is her current love interest. I mentioned how I called Kat and it went straight to voicemail, and she told me that happens to her a lot too, so I shouldn’t take it personally. Evidently Kat is not a “phone person” whatsoever. If you don’t reply to texts and calls from one of your best friends, then I probably shouldn’t expect much more than that.

Someone finally moved into the empty apartment next door. Oddly enough, someone I know. Her name is Katy (how do I manage to meet all these girls with names that are only a few letters different???) and she comes into the art store a lot. She draws cartoons, her stuff is pretty cool. I haven’t met her roommate yet, who I don’t think has moved in, and who hasn’t bothered to get the electric turned on, so she’s been coming over to our place to charge her phone/laptop/make coffee, etc. Fun times.

And tonight is the much-anticipated Mark Kozelek concert. I’m currently cooking dinner and then about to head out. But before I do, here’s another silly drawing I somehow managed to find time to do…

 

 

So yeah, that’s about it for now. Off to finish dinner and then go to the concert, woohoo!

Before I go any further, let me just get this out in the open… This was without a doubt the best concert I’ve been to in 2012. Okay there, I said it. Now let’s continue and find out what made it such a good show…

The opening band was called Daytona. I’d never heard of them before and wasn’t sure what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised, they were great. They were a three-piece, your standard guitar-bass-drums combo. They live in Brooklyn and play indie rock. Yet somehow, everything they did was new and fresh, not in any way the cookie-cutter type stuff one would expect from a Brooklyn three-piece indie rock band. For starters, they sounded absolutely huge. Through some creative sampling, they managed to layer guitars and backing vocals until it sounded like ten people were on stage. On several songs the guitarist (who was also the primary vocalist) would start with an echo-y arpeggiated figure, sample it and loop it, and later in the song play distorted power chords or solos over it. A few tracks saw the bassist and drummer looping their “oooohhh” and “aaaahhh” backing vocals. The bassist himself got into the looping action on one song, beginning with a motif high up on the neck, then looping it and switching to a fuzz pedal and playing a deep groove over it. The drummer was insanely creative as well, often using maracas, tambourines, and sleigh bells in place of drum sticks. On one song he played with his bare hands for part of the song, giving a sound almost like a bongo drum. As for their music itself, it’s just good jangle-pop-influenced rock, with a tendency to jam and get lost on strange sonic detours. A good starting point might be later Pavement, with perhaps a bit of The Slip (the indie rock/post rock/jam band/whatever, not the Nine Inch Nails album). I bought their vinyl EP, which comes in a sleeve hand-painted by the bassist. I honestly can’t remember the last time I was this impressed by an opening act. I’m eagerly anticipating a full length from these guys.

I’m going to take a little detour of my own while I try to collect my thoughts. I’m not really sure how to capture Lost In The Trees in words, so I’ll ramble a bit instead. After the opening band left the stage and the lights came up, an adorable short girl turned around, asked me if I was here to see Lost In The Trees, and when I said yes she high-fived me. We started chatting and hit it off pretty well. She introduced me to a few of her friends, who all seemed really cool as well. Seeing as how I couldn’t find anyone to go to the show with me, they adopted me into their group. As we continued chatting it appeared that tonight would be a replay of yesterday at the laundromat, and when the show was over my suspicion was confirmed – amazing, beautiful, sweet, friendly, intelligent girl with good taste in music… and a long-term boyfriend. ‘Tis the story of my life – the more amazing a girl seems to be, the more likely she is either happily taken or completely psycho. Yay.

But enough of that detour… let’s get back to the concert.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with them, Lost In The Trees is a band centered around Ari Picker, a classically trained composer and former member of The Never, one of the most criminally underrated bands of the past ten years. They play a very symphonic brand of rock, a little bit like a cross between The Moody Blues and Radiohead. While they haven’t really broken big just yet, they have a very passionate fan base. Everyone I met asked me if this was my first time seeing them, and when I said yes proceeded to tell me what I’ve been missing out on. A few people tried to convince me to go to Charlotte tomorrow and see them again. These people love their band, and you’d be hard-pressed to find an audience that was more into a show than this one. The next hour or so would surely make a believer out of even the most hardened cynic. As the band played off the crowd and the crowd in turn played off the band and turned things up a notch, the whole thing basically turned into a giant love fest. This is the sort of vibe you can only get by seeing a lesser known band in a small club and just letting the music and the passion take over. There really aren’t words to describe the experience, you really had to be there.

While they focused mostly on songs from their newest record, A Church That Fits Our Needs, they played a lot of songs off of their first album and their debut EP. While Ari’s guitar and painfully sincere vocals were the main focus, the rest of the band members threatened to steal the show on a number of occasions with their incredible musicianship. A beautiful blonde named Jenavieve played violin, did some background vocals, and even broke out an autoharp for a few songs. Next to her was Drew, who mostly played cello, but occasionally played bass guitar. The usual bassist, Mark, played everything but the kitchen sink, including but not limited to tuba, electric guitar, synthesizer, and glockenspiel. Their keyboardist Emma, who somehow remembered me from a Never show over five years ago, also played various percussion instruments, French horn, and sang. I’m not sure the drummer’s name, and Wikipedia is no help, but let’s just say he was amazing. One particular technique blew my mind – he placed a small cymbal on top of his snare drum and whacked it with a mallet. The sound it made most closely resembled a synth drum, bright and tinny. My drumming skills are very limited, so I’m always looking for new ideas to inspire me and help me create the sounds in my head. I’m definitely going to have to mess around with this idea and see what I can do with it.

Ari proved to be a pretty animated frontman, jumping and wandering all around the stage, sometimes nearly crashing into his bandmates. He switched back and forth between a beautiful hollow body electric guitar and an acoustic that was originally a twelve string, but with the other six tuning pegs completely ripped out of the headstock and six strings strung normally. He and Emma did most of the talking, thanking the crowd and saying how much they love Asheville. Evidently Ari stayed here briefly and wrote a lot of songs during that time, most of which were on their previous album, All Alone In An Empty House. They played a few songs off of that album and a few off the Time Taunts Me EP. Most of the newer songs were played with more aggression and volume, calling to mind the songs off the debut EP, but never losing the intimate beauty of the newest album. They mixed in some unexpected bits, like a sound collage of feedback and some droning synthesizers in between songs. They closed with an epic ten-plus minute medley of two songs off their newest album with some jamming in between.

As they walked off the stage the crowd went berserk, and you knew an encore wasn’t far behind. However, they turned the tables on us and walked into the crowd. An all acoustic lineup of Ari on guitar, their usual string section, tuba, and a single snare drum took its place in the middle of the audience. He proceeded to tell us that they wouldn’t be quite as loud as they were on stage, and might need some help. The crowd had no problem obliging, singing every word to a hauntingly beautiful rendition of “All Alone In An Empty House.” As the song ended and the thunderous applause faded I started to make my way over to my new friends. Everyone was pretty much in agreement – the only word that could describe this concert was “amazing.”

In addition to buying the Daytona EP I also bought A Church That Fits Our Needs on vinyl. Instead of coming with a download code, which has become pretty standard these days, it came with the actual CD of the album. Not to mention a lyric sheet. Evidently they’ve done the same thing for their first album, and their debut EP includes a CD and a download code. I joked around with Emma and Daytona’s merch guy about what else might be included in the more limited pressings of the album – “the band comes to your house once a week to play the album in its entirety” was probably the cleverest idea to come out of our brainstorming. And it wouldn’t surprise me if that became an option at some point in the future. This is a band that loves its fans (one of the band members remembered me from a concert from years ago) and loves to use its music to reach out and touch you. This isn’t a band that tosses off disposable hit singles or headlines faceless stadium tours. This is a band that creates beautiful art and plays best in an intimate setting, one where they can hang out in the middle of the audience and chat with fans after the show. Their music is moving and powerful, and they’re a genuinely nice bunch of people. What more could you ask for?