Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Worst Shows Ever #1

As a music lover, I've been to A LOT of shows - huge sold out stadium shows, tiny bar shows with a handful of people, awesome shows that lived up to and exceeded all expectations and shows that were great but for a reason I never could have anticipated.  But this isn't about those shows...this is about the AWFUL shows.  The shows that make you feel like you wasted your time and money...the ones that leave a pit in your stomach and may even make you dislike a band that you used to love.  Sometimes its the band, sometimes other factors but no matter what the cause these shows were terrible.  These are my top 10 horrible shows.*

1. Urge Overkill, Iowa City early 2004

When talking to people, it seems that most people only know Urge Overkill from their cover of Girl, You'll be a Woman Soon on the Pulp Fiction Soundtrack.  I guess it is better than them not knowing Urge Overkill at all but  it was always a little disappointing because UO had so much great original music.  You have probably heard other Urge Overkill songs like Sister Havana and Positive Bleeding, but just didn't realize it was UO.

Urge Overkill wrote killer rock songs.  It was just a great blend of guitar riffs, catchy vocals, and an awesome dynamic.  UO had two lead singers in the band and they switched off on the various songs.  Nato Kash seemed to be the singer of most of the songs that got released as singles, but King Roeser could definitely hold his own, it was just a little different style.  I enjoyed both.  In my mind these guys were the atypical understated rock gods - talented and cool as hell but still under the radar of most people.

I was disappointed that I had never got to see Urge Overkill live when they broke up in 1997.  I don't remember how we heard about the show but all of a sudden UO was scheduled to play in Iowa City sometime in 2004.  We were both very excited for the show and I spent the next couple weeks listening to all my UO albums preparing.  The show was at a newer bar called Iowa City Yacht Club.  We hadn't heard of ICYC but it seemed like the owners were really into two things - good music and barbecue.  Day of the show Kelly and I decided to head to Iowa City quite a bit earlier than we normally would have for a concert to check the place out and get some ribs.

We arrived at the ICYC around 5pm, the show started around 8pm.  The place is pretty dead when we arrive and we order some ribs.  While sitting there waiting for our food, we were like "Huh, I think that is the band at the bar."  It was.  Most of the band looked like they had a few drinks and went about other business.  Not Nato Kash.  Nato looked to be hitting (unsuccessfully) on young girls and continued drinking.  We wait quite a while for our food but it is pretty good once it finally does arrive.  We finish eating about 2 hours after we first arrive and Nato is still drinking at the bar.  Eventually, the opening band Lost Vegas takes the stage.  Lost Vegas was a really good rock band, reminding me somewhat of Junkyard.  This Lost Vegas is not to be confused with Last Vegas or any of several Lost Vegas tribute bands.  These guys were out and out rock and it was a great set.  They seem to have disappeared in the years since.  Unfortunately, that was the peak of the night.  Sometime during Lost Vegas' set, Nato finally left the bar.

Lost Vegas played their set and then it was time to wait.  Lost Vegas did exactly what a good opening band is supposed to do.  The crowd was primed and pumped up and ready to rock out with Urge Overkill.  But we wait.  Roadies switch over all the equipment and do the sound check.  We wait, and wait, and wait.  In my opinion, switchover and breaks between bands should be 15 minutes...half hour tops.  We waited for about an hour and a half...no where near GNR, but way too long.  By the time most of Urge Overkill starts populating the stage, my excitement had flagged noticeably and I just wanted to get the show started.  One problem...no Nato Kash.  After about another 15-20 minutes, Nato finally shows up.  He is being helped down the stairs (this club is in the basement of a building) by the manager/roadie.  OK, he wasn't being helped, he was basically being carried.  You could see his feet not working and he couldn't make the coordinated effort to conquer the steps.

Updated for accuracy

Kelly and I both look at each other and think that this doesn't bode well.  Finally, Nato arrives on stage and despite being very drunk is able to hold his guitar and stand up with only moderate stumbling.  At one point he sort of rests his forehead against the microphone like the coolness of it is awesome.  I thought he was going to vomit.  Urge Overkill starts to play...and it is not good.  Nato is unable to play and unable to sing.  The band seems to try to stick with songs fronted by King, but Nato's guitar playing and background vocals are terrible.  The roadie/guitar tech tries turning down Nato's guitar amp in the sound mixer, but Nato keeps jacking up the knob on his cabinet and when it is shut off completely he gets pissed so his levels are brought back up.  You know when your own sound guy is trying to cut you out of the mix that something is really amiss.  It really doesn't sound good...but the first few songs are all songs that they crowd seems to be unfamiliar with (I'm guessing most people had only heard the couple songs played on the radio).  Everyone is cheering except for Kelly and I, who are booing.  It is THAT bad.  I don't think I have every booed anything before or since, but it was the only response.  No one else seemed to notice the awfulness the first couple songs but that was because Nato was playing a minor role.  Unfortunately, the third song featured Nato more notably.  His guitar riffs were a total mess, but his singing was a real train wreck.  Wrong lyrics, slurred, off time and tone.  Finally, a couple others in the crowd start to notice and after our booing after the song, someone else joins in with "Yeah that was pretty assy."  Nato started molesting the next song and Kelly and I are no longer only booing between songs.  It is awful, it is not right what is happening with this music.  We are now booing Nato whenever he tries to sing.  Once again their sound guy tries to stop Nato's musical rape by turning off his microphone but Nato wouldn't take it and grabs the microphone from King.

Kelly and I were then asked to leave by a bouncer.  He even kind of threatened Kelly when he started to argue.  This is the only time that I have ever been kicked out of any place.  2 hours driving to get there, $50 in tickets, $40 in ribs, 4 hours of waiting...and we get kicked out after 4 songs.  What are you supposed to do in such a situation?  As a fan at a show your only recourse is your voice.  Our booing wasn't nearly as bad as what was happening on stage.  I have to think when Urge Overkill started playing their more popular songs that other people in the crowd would notice how awful it really was.  Although I am not a person who usually boos, this concert compelled me to.  I emailed the Iowa City Yacht Club (ICYC) the next day about the bullshit of kicking us out and they said that UO's management apologized to the club and promised that somehow they would make up for the terrible show...so obviously ICYC complained too, they just had someone to talk to directly.  Of course, ICYC didn't apologize to us.  Claimed we were "disturbing other fans."  I have been to many shows were other people have booed.  It never bothered me one bit, its just one of those things that happens.  Most the time, I never even notice because I am caught up in the music.  Oh well.  I haven't been back to the Iowa City Yacht Club or listened to an Urge Overkill CD since...and I don't have any desire to.  Both are pretty much dead to me.

So what makes this the worst show?  Both a combination of a terrible show with horrible treatment from the club...the funny thing is that we would have probably left in a couple songs anyways (it was that bad) but the fact that the club took the time to actually kick us out just confirmed the fact that everything about this show sucked ass.  Nato, I can't even tell you how pathetic the whole thing was...and it could have been so great, but you wanted to be a drunk.  Fuck you.  I see you are just now coming out with new music, I probably would have been the first in line but now I have no respect for you and no desire to listen to your music.  Just remember a great show can make fans but a show where you show up as a drunken asshole can alienate your biggest fans.

That's it.  My top ten.  I am glad it's over...it actually took a lot more out of me writing these posts that I would have guessed.  Instead of Two Minutes Hate, each post was like an hour of hate and I was always tired afterwards.  Reliving these shows stirred up all the bad memories and they still make me angry.  These posts are actually much more articulate than I often feel because otherwise today's post would have basically been "Urge Overkill, you suck, you drunk, fucking asshole. Fuck you, you fucking, fucker."  Although that feels right, it really doesn't explain much.  I want these posts to help people understand what makes a show horrible, because I still see many of these mistakes repeated over and over by both large and small bands.

I might do a "Worst Shows - Honorable Mentions" post in the next couple weeks but it won't deal with each show as in depth.  I also plan to do a Top Ten Greatest Shows Ever series, but I really need a little break from writing about shows and music.

*These are off the top of my head, I am sure that I could go through my stubs and find more.  I don't think I left out any major suck-fests though.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Worst Shows Ever #2

As a music lover, I've been to A LOT of shows - huge sold out stadium shows, tiny bar shows with a handful of people, awesome shows that lived up to and exceeded all expectations and shows that were great but for a reason I never could have anticipated.  But this isn't about those shows...this is about the AWFUL shows.  The shows that make you feel like you wasted your time and money...the ones that leave a pit in your stomach and may even make you dislike a band that you used to love.  Sometimes its the band, sometimes other factors but no matter what the cause these shows were terrible.  These are my top 10 horrible shows.*

2. Saigon Kick - Third Street Live/Big Dogs, Cedar Rapids February 12, 2000

This might have been an OK concert if my expectations hadn't been set so high by a previous concert 4 or 5 years earlier.

Although I knew of Saigon Kick in the early 90's, they had gotten pigeon-holed in my brain due to their one huge hit Love is On the Way.  I think the same thing happened for most people.  Even though I kind of liked the song, the video was played so often that anytime I heard Saigon Kick, all I could think of was Matt (the lead singer) trying to act all sexy and sensitive with the microphone.  Not really a picture that I wanted stuck in my head...it was even worse than Jason's (the guitarist) poodle hair.  I know a friend had played the full album of The Lizard for me a couple of times but I was never able to get into it.  At the time I was very metal and full of angst, so all I wanted to listen to was Megadeth or similar.

This was a mistake on my part.  Saigon Kick would be lost to me for several years.  A few years later while rooming with my good friend db and working for my college's student radio station KGRK (now KULT), I heard that they were playing a gig in Cedar Rapids.  Even though not a huge fan, I was intrigued and cocnerts were my main way to let of steam.  I was reintroduced to Saigon Kick and this time it clicked.  These guys were talented, wrote great songs, and had awesome harmonization.  db played their older albums and I grabbed the new release from the radio station...unfortunately, I didn't have too long to get into the music the concert was only a week or 10 days away and it was the end of the semester which meant papers and projects were due.  I went into the concert only vaguely familiar with SK's music.  I wasn't sure what to expect...I knew they had lost their singer and their guitarist had taken over singing duties.  With as much harmonization that the band had, I wondered if all the talent had walked and these guy's were still trying to ride the coattails.  I couldn't have been more wrong.  Jason (guitarist turned singer/guitarist) seemed to be the talented one and I quickly went from being weary to enjoying one of the best shows I have seen (except for the ballerina chick hitting on/dancing for my brother Kelly throughout the show - that was just weird).

Unfortunately, after this tour Saigon Kick kind of drops off the planet for a while...once again I am late to the party.  SK released a Live/Greatest Hits and then their final CD Bastards was only released in Japan...but for all intents and purposes the band no longer existed in the United States.  I had heard that the band had broken up.  Around 2000-2001 I heard that Saigon Kick was touring again and were once again stopping in Cedar Rapids at Big Dogs...the same location as the last concert.  I was excited...the last show had been so killer that I couldn't wait for this one, plus I was infinitely more familiar with their music so I would be able to sing along, request songs, etc...  By this time, Saigon Kick had become one of my favorite bands.

I was on pins and needles due to anticipation for a couple months but disturbing details began to emerge.  Jason (who had impressed me so much) had indeed left the band and formed Super TransAtlantic and Saigon Kick was touring as "The Original Lineup" even though I was pretty sure Jason was in the original lineup.  I convinced myself that A) Matt couldn't be that bad as he sang on the first couple records which were very good, and B) the rest of the band totally kicked ass just five years ago, not that much could have changed with them right?

Wrong.  Saigon Kick (The Original Lineup, AKA:TOL) came out with a bored and uninterested air that lasted throughout the show.  It wasn't terrible when taken by itself...but when compared to the earlier show it was a night and day difference.  No intensity, no energy...this was really the show that I was kind of expecting 5 years ago.  You know when you go to a live show and it just envelops you but then you get home and listen to the record and it just sounds flat?  That was how these two concerts compared...the Original Lineup just sounded flat and drab.

Here are a few things that I found especially lame about the show.
1) Ego Attack - With Matt back in the back band, Saigon Kick (TOL) only played music from their first two albums.  Although I understand Matt not wanting to play music from when he wasn't in the band, it is forcing the other members to abandon 2-3 albums worth of material that they worked hard on...and it is great material.  Matt could have swallowed some ego and admitted that the band didn't revolve just around him.  I've seen this happen with other bands too but it always seems like a dick move.  Matt, you are playing a concert for 50 people tops...you are no longer a rock star.  Bite the bullet and play some of the great music even though it wasn't your era...as it was your material was getting stretched really thin by the end of the show.

2) Heroin break - OK, I guess I don't know that it was heroin but I am sure something was ingested.  After a couple songs, Matt walks off stage.  Matt looked normal.  Everyone stood around for about 10-15 minutes waiting for him to return.  It was like an encore break two songs in!  It was lame.  Matt does come back but looks pretty fucking far from normal.  His skin was now flushed a bright red...not a healthy pink color, he was red (Hellboy red).  The veins in his neck now looked like rope overlaid his skin.  And of course, he now had to wear sunglasses for a couple songs.  Never having done drugs, I don't really understand the appeal but this definitely didn't look pleasant, I thought the guys was going to stroke out on stage.  He did finish the show without dying though, I'll give him that.

3) Muffin top - Some of the band members.  Specifically the guitarist and the bassist decided to wear a either no shirt or a fishnet shirt and tight leather pants.  They wore the exact same outfit 5 years earlier and looked decent.  Now however, they were about 20 pounds heavier and no longer had the chiseled muscles.  They would have looked alright in jeans and a t-shirt, but these outfits were too revealing for their new body types.  Yep, complete muffin top spilling over the tops of there parts.  It pretty much summed up "has-been" in my mind at the time.

4) No Harmony - Saigon Kick's vocals have always seemed to be built around harmonization, much like Alice in Chains was.  Originally, I thought Matt was the key, but after seeing the previous concert I realized that Jason was the master harmonizer.  Matt can sing, but he could not harmonize with the band.  Jason was great at doing both.  Without the harmonization the vocals just seemed flat and lacking...like you were only getting one side of a stereo recording.  The depth and emotion was completely missing.

Here is a video from the concert that someone posted on youtube.  I am sure you can see the back of Kelly & I's heads a few times.  Listening to it again, I once again think that it was an OK show but expectations were probably too high due to the previous incredible show.  Even with Jason it still might have been disappointing...but with Matt it probably never stood a chance.

Even though this was a disappointing show, I would still go see Saigon Kick any time they come through on tour...and with recently minted website and facebook account, who knows?  I really wish Jason would be part of it too.

*These are off the top of my head, I am sure that I could go through my stubs and find more.  I don't think I left out any major suck-fests though.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Worst Shows Ever #3

As a music lover, I've been to A LOT of shows - huge sold out stadium shows, tiny bar shows with a handful of people, awesome shows that lived up to and exceeded all expectations and shows that were great but for a reason I never could have anticipated.  But this isn't about those shows...this is about the AWFUL shows.  The shows that make you feel like you wasted your time and money...the ones that leave a pit in your stomach and may even make you dislike a band that you used to love.  Sometimes its the band, sometimes other factors but no matter what the cause these shows were terrible.  These are my top 10 horrible shows.*

3. Guns N Roses - Hilton Colosseum, Ames 2006

Douche Outfit
Guns N Roses was another band that took up much of my wall space when I was younger.  Unfortunately, GNR, well Axl,  started a slow slide to mediocrity nearly immediately.  Appetite for Destruction was awesome and GNR came off as pretty badass (as long as you ignored Axl's hairsprayed 'do in the Welcome to the Jungle video).  It's no wonder that the album has gone 18x platinum...every song is great.  GNR Lies came out and it was an OK holdover until the next album.  Then came Use Your Illusion I and II.  Musically, the albums were good.  Not as raw and brutal as Appetite but at least an album's worth of good songs between the two CDs (Get in the Ring was especially weak).

With the loss of Izzy as a member and song-writer the band and Axl specifically continued to decline.  You just knew something was wrong when Axl started wearing a kilt and an umpire's chest protector.  I never understood this...I think he was trying to be a trend setter or something even through his style of leather and a t-shirt was already awesome.  I mean you knew he was kind of a vain douche when he walked out of the St Louis show because someone had a camera and the Montreal show after Hetfield was burnt...but his outfits and behavior just became bizarre.  I saw Guns N Roses a couple times on the Use Your Illusion tour and each time it was a very good show.  I'm not sure if they are in my top ten favorite shows, but they are close (especially Omaha).  And then there was The Spaghetti Incident.  What a piece of shit.  When the band claims it to be not a real Guns N Roses album, you know it is going to be bad.

Seriously?  Everyone knows you are
balding, just accept it.
After Thirteen and a half years, cornrows, and constantly changing line-up; Guns N Roses announced a new tour with a stop in Iowa.  After the Chinese Democracy album and tour being ever promised and ever delayed for a decade, I only gave about a 10% chance of the concert actually happening...My hetero life-pal CT, and I decided to order tickets on this hope even though with a $77 face-value and all the fees, they were closer to $95.  That is the highest I have paid for any by about 20%.  The date, over a year from on-sale date, kept approaching without cancellation...and my mind's percentage of the concert actually happening rose from 10% to about 60%  Finally, the date arrived and CT and I headed up to Ames....I was still only giving the concert 75% odds.  CT and I got there early so that we could grab a bite to eat beforehand.  We went to the relatively newly opened West Towne Pub and I ordered a Philly Cheese Steak sandwich with a side of the Buffalo  Fries.  The food was pretty good but the choice of Buffalo fries would come back to haunt me by the end of the night.

So close but so far...it was much colder than the day this was taken.
After our meal, we headed over to Hilton.  Parking lot was filling up but still plenty of spots with a good walk.  No problem, we grabbed a spot and started walking.  CT showed me his new Dr Marten boots along the way.  This decision would come to haunt Cam by the end of the night.  It was a chilly night (below freezeing...maybe around 25 degrees F) but we didn't want to be burdened with coats the entire show, so left them in the car and walked briskly to get to the doors...the doors hadn't been opened yet, but we were still early.  It was about a quarter to 7pm doors should open an hour before right?  I was shivering and just plain cold, but I could stand the 15-20 minutes until the doors opened and we were inside.  Seven o'clock came and still neither the doors or the crowd had moved.  It was a big crowd too.  Time seemed to go slower than normal because of the cold but finally the doors opened at about 7:20.  I got a rush of adrenaline to get inside but the crowd started to move very slowly.  They were giving everyone a good pat down before entering.  But without any direction or communication with the crowd (like "girls go to the left line") the whole process was incredibly slow and awkward.  CT and I weren't that far from the doors...if you've been to Hilton, we were on the front half of the bridge...maybe 100 feet, maybe slightly more from the doors. We finally entered Hilton at 8:10pm....ten minutes after the concert was set to start, and we relatively close to the front of the line.  It took nearly an hour to cover that 100 feet and finally get in the doors. I was freezing.  My teeth were chattering.

CT & I did a quick trip around the upper concourse and could not find any place that listed "Floor Access" were our tickets were located.  We grabbed the nearest arena worker and asked.  We were then basically informed that we complete idiots and didn't know how to follow directions because we were supposed to enter by a different 'special' door.  I was unsure how I was supposed to know this information...there were no signs any place, my ticket didn't say anything, and no communication was given to the crowd outside...plus I have had tickets on the floor of Hilton before and never once entered through a special door.  Thankfully, this lady quickly handed us off to another lady and the secondly lady was very nice, led us down the stairs and cut us to the front of the floor entrance line (you had to get wristbands) which was awesome because that line looked like it was also really long and slow moving.  By the time we arrived at our viewing area, we had missed one of the opening bands.  I don't remember who it was...Hometown Hero or something like that maybe?  I remember that all I could think of at the time was Homestar Runner.

Didn't really say rock show to me.
Photo Source.
After a lengthy switch over, the Suicide Girls took the stage.  Not sure why they needed the long switch-over, it just seemed that no one was really eager to take the stage.  It was vaguely entertaining, I suppose.  I guess I didn't see the point in semi-topless girls (nipples taped or pasties) being an opening act for a rock band.  It was fine but it didn't really do much to put me in the mood for Guns N Roses.  The fire baton and fire hula hoop were interesting but not spectacular.  I remember like the mohawk suicide girl because she taped her nipples in an upside down cross formation.  I thought that was funny.  I was pretty hilarious to see guys just starring at the stage and screens to see kinda-naked chicks.  It wasn't much that you couldn't see at your local strip club every night of the week, but guys were just transfixed.

The show has been going on the third hour and the crowd is getting restless and drunk.  Another lengthy stage switch over and up next was Sebastian Bach.  I was very glad for the long change over this time as the Buffalo fries had made my guts start to cramp and I knew I had to find a bathroom.  There happened to be only one small bathroom available to fans on Hilton's floor level...and it was very small - one urinal, one stool.  This was pretty poor planning as over a third of the crowd was on the floor.  There were staff at the stairs to the main concourse and it looked like a terrible time getting out and back through their security.  It was something that I didn't really want to mess with.  I got very lucky as I headed for the bathroom right as the Suicide Girls were leaving the stage.  After a short 5 minute wait...I heard that after Helmet the wait for the bathroom was like 30-40 minutes.  I made it into the bathroom and I was able to get situated on the stool just in time as the evilness of Buffalo fries unclenched my bowels in a torrent.  Seriously, it felt like I had a huge serving of Colon Blow and was pretty sure nothing remained in my stomach and intestinal track.  Thankfully the stool was clean...unlike the sink that was clogged with vomit and the floor that seemed to have a half inch of piss covering it. Nevertheless, shitting out your guts with a line of 30+ people yelling and beating on the door of an vomit-smelling bathroom is not a fun experience.  Sebastian Bach played a short but good set...it really got the crowd in the music for fun rock like GNR...unfortunately GNR wasn't next.

Most non-metal fans probably best know Helmet from Beavis & Butthead (If you saw these guys on the street, you wouldn't even know they were cool) or from The Crow soundtrack. I think Helmet is a great band...but they were not a good match for Guns N Roses.  Helmet is a very heavy and technical progressive rock band.  Guns N Roses is more balls out, drunk rock.  The two just don't mix that well.  Helmet would work very well with Tool, Primus, Dream Theater, or Sugartooth.  Heavy and a little plodding it is music that helps to have a heavy dose of appreciation for musicianship and something that you really have to listen to in order to get.  It is not easy music.  It is not something that drunk people waiting for Guns N Roses want to hear.  Unfortunately, the crowd was not into it at all.  More people yelling "Fuck You" than cheering and beer cups being thrown.  Not the reception most bands would look forward to.  I really enjoyed Helmet, I had been looking forward to seeing them for 15 years and would like to extend an apology from the state of Iowa for how the crowd treated you.  You did not deserve what you got.  Helmet played their 30 minute set and quickly tried to leave the stage, but the stage manager (or someone) motions them to keep playing.  They keep playing and the crowd gets more and more angry.  It was uncomfortable.  The band keep looking to the side and they kept getting motioned to keep playing.  They worked their way through another couple songs, looking down and not at the crowd the entire time because the crowd was so angry.  Helmet finally escapes...er exits.

Another wait and a couple of the Suicide Girls come out and do a quick routine.  I downgraded my expectations of seeing Guns N Roses to about 40%.  I am pretty sure this second SG show was unplanned, I think it was a spur of the moment decision to try to calm the crowd.  I think the injection of boobs did help slightly but the crowd remained cantankerous.  I am not sure about the reserved seats, but it was getting ugly down on the main floor where it was general admission standing room.  A bad vibe was just spreading throughout everyone...there were more than a few fights on the floor and more curse words used than regular words.  As the Suicide Girls left, one of them proclaimed "Guns N Roses will be out very shortly!"  It was now about 11:30pm.

GNR didn't show up very shortly.  Time passed slowly.  The whole coliseum smelled like body odor and spilled beer.  You could literally see the crowd sink into drunkeness.  After hearing people talking about rioting and rushing the stage CT and I started to head towards the back of the arena away from the main gathering of the crowd.  We also found a place to sit for a while.  As I mentioned earlier CT had some brand new Dr Marten boots...which are great, but standing for almost 6 straight hours (so far) in brand new boots is not a treat.  I am sure his feet were sore and swollen the next day.  My feet were sore and I was wearing comfy and well padded shoes.  Time kept passing - there was no communication with the crowd and the crowd was becoming downright surly.  I was glad we were now close to the exit as it felt like a riot could break out any moment.  As midnight and 12:30am came and went, I downgraded my chances of actually seeing Guns N Roses to about 10%.

12:45am...I couldn't believe that the Hilton staff hadn't shut down this show yet.  It was getting very unsettling...and I was worried what was going to happen when beer stopped flowing.  I was about ready to say "Let's go home" when the lights finally dimmed.  Axl and crew finally took the stage.

Bumblefoot - mocking Slash because he can't
match Slash.
I have said it many times before.  It was a good Guns N Roses concert, but had it started 2 or 3 hours earlier it probably would have been great.  Axl sounded good and it was the first time everyone was hearing most of the Chinese Democracy stuff.  Visuals and effects were great.  And even for starting at nearly 1am, GNR put on a full 2.5 hour plus show.  I think if Axl had come on stage and apologized for the show being late, I think it would have put the crowd in a better frame of mind to enjoy the show.  He did make some half-assed apologies like "Sorry but no one ever said rock and roll knew how to tell time," which just pissed me off more than helping.  It wasn't very rock and roll to stand for hours waiting for a band to show up for their own concert...a concert that you spent nearly $100 in tickets for.  So without a real apology, I felt angry for a good half hour or so of the set...which made it hard to enjoy.  There was a couple other things Axl said about "what did you want to go home and sleep?" and stupid stuff like that and my answer was that yes I did.  I wanted the concert to start at the proper time because I had already been up since 6am and worked for 9 hours before coming to your show...and I had plans the next day too.  I think he was trying to make everyone see it as a cool thing that the show was lasting past 3:30am, but it just seemed cocky and insincere to me.  Seriously, I know you are a rock star but I stood around for hours waiting for you...you are no longer that good.  But other members of the bands acted like idiots too.  I especially remember "Bumblefoot" putting on a top hat and brushing the hair in front his face and mocking Slash.  Really?  You are mocking the guy who's music you are making a living playing?  Oh and PS - Bumblefoot - your opening to Welcome to the Jungle sucked and several solos sounded not so great.  You may be talented but you were not Slash this night, you seemed more like a bratty child who makes fun of someone because you can't compete.  There were other things throughout the show where the current members tried to make themselves outshine the people they replaced...unfortunately, this just made them stand out as "Not Guns N Roses" more than anything.  Instead of a band it made it seem like a bunch of individuals on stage.  There was no chemistry and no real energy from most members...it seemed like a job to these guys instead of a love for music.  All that said though, the music was good and for that I give Axl some congratulations...you just need to get the rest of your shit together.

*These are off the top of my head, I am sure that I could go through my stubs and find more.  I don't think I left out any major suck-fests though.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Worst Shows Ever #4

As a music lover, I've been to A LOT of shows - huge sold out stadium shows, tiny bar shows with a handful of people, awesome shows that lived up to and exceeded all expectations and shows that were great but for a reason I never could have anticipated.  But this isn't about those shows...this is about the AWFUL shows.  The shows that make you feel like you wasted your time and money...the ones that leave a pit in your stomach and may even make you dislike a band that you used to love.  Sometimes its the band, sometimes other factors but no matter what the cause these shows were terrible.  These are my top 10 horrible shows.*

4. Prince - Hilton Colosseum, Ames January 28th November 21st, 1988

This was my first concert.  Well, I had been to other concerts like stuff at free stages of the Iowa State Fair, and went to a few shows like the Foggy River Boys at the Civic Center with  friends of the family.  But this was the first concert for which I specifically bought tickets.

This concert was disappointing for several reasons.  First, I was disappointed in the seats that I got...I've since had worse tickets, but this being my first real concert I wanted great tickets.  Tickets for the concert went on sale early...like 10 months before the show.  Unfortunately, I was 13 when the tickets went on sale.  This meant that I had no income and I had to beg my mom to pull out her credit card and buy me tickets.  With fees, it ended up being around $21 a ticket...not too bad now a days, but back then it might as well have been $1000.  But, it wasn't just my ticket that I had to pay for - I also had to pay for tickets for my older brother Kelly and his date (as I wasn't old enough to drive and my parents wouldn't just drop me off) and I bought a companion ticket for me...thinking I could be all cool and get a date**.  I did end up taking my neighbor and friend Kristina with me, but I was neither brave or bold enough to consider it a date.  I don't remember exactly what I promised my mom, but the on-sale date was around my birthday, so I know I gave up birthday presents, allowance, future Christmas presents, and probably my first born (I still owe you that one, Mom).  This negotiation took a long time.  It was probably a week or more after tickets went on sale, before the details were worked out and my begging paid off and my mom agreed to order tickets.  So yeah, Balcony 8, Row 9.  There were worse seats in the arena...but not many.  It was a loooooong way to the stage (and Prince is short).  This was a very minor inconvenience that added to the suckiness, but it was not the reason that made the show suck.

It was gonna be a beautiful night.
I have since learned that for the right show, the right performance, the right atmosphere that any seat can be great.  This should have been the right show and the right performance.  Kelly and I had a VHS tape of an earlier Prince and the Revolution concert (live at Red Rocks, I think) and it was amazing.  It rocked and was high energy and emotional.  The only thing that I didn't care for was the assless-pants that he wore throughout the show (Prince seriously, what was up with that phase?).  Kelly and I pretty much wore out that tape when we were younger and this was the show that I was expecting.  Actually, I was expecting more because when tickets went on sale in 1987 Prince was on the Sign O' the Times tour.  Sign O' the Times is my favorite Prince album.  It has so much variety and depth that I just listened over and over.  Purple Rain is epic and awesomely rocking, but Sign has more character and connects with me in a way that Purple Rain doesn't.  I was really excited to see it live.  So how did it turn into a suck-fest?

Ummm...this is not what I wanted.
After already waiting for over 6 months for the concert, Prince decided he didn't want to do a full US tour and cancelled all US tour dates.  No reason was given and I was young and naive at the time, so I assumed that Prince had a good reason for cancelling...nope not really, just being a baby.  Supposedly he was really excited to make a new album and recorded The Black Album, but then had a spiritual epiphany and decided it was evil and shelved it.  He then instead recorded and released Lovesexy which is "the spiritual opposite" of the black album.  Personally, I too like to think of them as good and evil.  Black Album = good, Lovesexy = evil.  If you liked earlier Prince, you might be thinking to yourself Lovesexy?  I don't remember Lovesexy.  Two words: Alphabet Street.  Even as an allegory for oral sex, it is still an awful song.  This album was recorded in only 8 weeks, and I thought it sounded that way.  For me it was the beginning of the end.  It was the building blocks for the New Power Generation and "The Artist Formerly Known As Prince" era.  Bleh.

Finally after waiting with tickets in hand for nearly two years, the rescheduled concert was finally at hand.  Can you imagine how much anticipation builds in two years when you are that young?  I didn't really like the Lovesexy album, but I figured that Prince still had enough amazing older music to fill two or three concerts.  And he would have, had he played it.  We were "treated" to the entire Lovesexy album, a mix of unreleased stuff from both the Batman CD, and Graffiti Bridge, and then a couple medleys.  Yes, Prince turned every song you wanted to actually hear into a couple 10 minute long medleys.  You want to hear Little Red Corvette?  Here are two lines, right after a stanza of  U Got the Look, and a couple lines of Darling Nikki, and then finishing off with a couple choruses of Let's Go Crazy.  I remember sitting there thinking "That's not it, right?  He's going to go back and play the whole song, right?"  Wrong.  During the two hour show, I think he played two maybe three songs that I wanted to hear through to their entirety.  I could be wrong (20+ years ago and all) but I think he played all of Kiss, I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man, and Dove's Cry.  Everything else was shortened and molested.  It was so frustrating.  I really was an awful concert experience.  It was basically my hero kicking me in the nuts.  A little part of me died that day, within a few weeks all the Prince posters were removed from my wall (more room for GNR and Megadeth).  After this experience, I am surprised that I kept going to concerts...luckily my second major concert, Jane's Addiction, was much, much better.

*These are off the top of my head, I am sure that I could go through my stubs and find more.  I don't think I left out any major suck-fests though.
**I often continue to make this mistake to this day.  I can't tell you how many tickets I have purchased that have ended up not being used for lack of a date.  I ask people, and sometimes they even say yes...but even so, most times they cancel and I end up going alone for twice the price.  In fact, this just happened a few months ago.  I am also never cool.