Filtering by Tag: concerts

The Rolling Stones: Need I Say More?? (2013)

It has been an unacceptable amount of time since I have last shared with you. Plus, what kind of music blogger would I be if I didn't fill you in on one of my most life changing musical experiences? On May 28, 2013 I had the honor of seeing The Rolling Stones, arguably the world's greatest band, in concert. It was a total fluke. I was sitting at Dublin's Bar with my singer/songwriter friend from Nashville, Jesse Rice, when I got the call from my friend, Aggie: "Kel! I have 2 extra ($600) Stones tickets, I'm picking you up in an hour!" Jesse and I couldn't believe our luck...especially since we're both intensely devoted fans. Was this really happening? Were we really about to see Mick, Ronnie, Keith, and Charlie... live (and alive) and in concert? This was just too much. We showed up 2 songs into the 3 hour set...during my favorite Stones track, Paint it Black. My level of elation was clearly visible. I ran to my seat and my heart was pumping while I was jumping up and down like a school kid... with a mile-wide smile plastered across my face. Jesse was in utter disbelief. He never thought he'd get to the the Stones live... needless to say we were both the epitome of giddiness.

Fascination is an understatement. To see in person, a band that has accomplished so much; a band who has cultivated and forever changed the very foundation of rock and roll, gave me noticeable goosebumps. Fascination also describes my attitude toward the ability the band still has, after 50 years, to just fucking rock out. Jagger was floating and hopping around the stage as if he were a 20 year old athlete. Ronnie Wood was more cut up that guys my age who work out every day. Keith Richards, even though he looked as if he was about to decompose on stage, killed it on his guitar. No one can do with a guitar what Keith Richards can do, and so effortlessly. He makes some of the most simple riffs seem so complex and gut wrenching. As Jesse, a guitarist himself, said, "He gets so much out of so little." All four of them were hard core rock stars, through and through.

As far as vocals are concerned: I was much more impressed than I initially believed I would be. I've heard several live renditions of "Sympathy For The Devil" over the years and I've always been, not only disappointed with Jagger's vocals, but with the vocal arrangement as well. But to my pleasant surprise, his vocals on EVERY song other than "Sympathy" were incredible. Literally have not changed since the studio recordings. "Sympathy" was still an unfortunate let-down, as it's one of my favorites and I really hoped it would have been closer to the original. But hey, you can't always get what you want....

Some of the key moments from the set list included, a transcendent performance of "Wild Horses", the groovy "Miss You", and the United Center shaking, "Honky Tonk Women". My favorite performance, by far, was "Gimme Shelter"... it was just so mesmerizing....the intro guitar and the "ooh oooohhhss" were palpable through my entire body.... and don't even get me started with the endless wailing verses "War, Children... it's just a shot away;" all the screams and howls were perfectly orchestrated and executed.

So after this show I was rating it one of the top 5 shows I've been to in my life, maybe even top 3. But I kept saying... it just would've been even cooler if we were closer... or got to meet them. Wellllllllllllll my friends...... Here's a fun tangent. Let's just say I have 3 rock idols; Eddie Vedder, Mick Jagger, and John Fogerty. The fact that I've become friends with Eddie over the last couple years has almost been too much to comprehend. I surely didn't think I'd have encounters with my 2 other rock god idols... especially since, well, they're kinda old. So much to my surprise, while I was just sitting ON a booth at Studio Paris, May 29th, I see the unmistakable face and tiny frame of Mick Jagger walking toward me... and sits...DIRECTLY NEXT TO ME. Pardon the expression, but I pretty much shit my pants. I'm not one for EVER interrupting a celebrity and I think asking for fan pics is super gay... I am VERY "anti". But this was MICK FUCKING JAGGER. Fortunately, he saw me first and smiled. I told him I loved his show and that it was basically life-changing. He was very pleased and asked my name, shook my hand ,and gave me a hug. Then in his adorable London accent, asked if I wanted some champagne. Ummm, yes please!!! He poured me the glass himself and we "cheersed" each other. It was one hell of a moment... and the sweetest champagne I've ever tasted.

Joe's-A-Palooza (2012)

This last weekend at Joe's Bar was like this year's second Lollapalooza.  It was an over-the-top smorgasbord of interwoven and overlapping acts and concerts.  Let's just say I am STILL worn out!  The most wonderful aspect was that even though not every show was AT Joe's Bar...Joe's was still a huge part of everything that was going on.

Here's how the craziness began: November 29th witnessed a mass immigration of country artists to our fair city of Chicago.  They were scattered everywhere... from State Street to Weed Street.  My first stop along this musical journey was the House of Blues for The Florida Georgia LineLove and Theft, and Jake Owen concerts.  Love and Theft's Eric and Stephen are good friends, along with Eric's beautiful wife, Emily, so we watched the rapid fire shows from the artist's balcony.  Unfortunately, I had missed Florida Georgia Line's energetic performance at Joe's in September, so it was amazing to finally see them live.  It's incredible to see the reaction the crowd has every time "Cruise" is performed.  I had to sneak out of this show early as I needed to rush over to Joe's to interview Jerrod Niemann as well as host the live streaming of his concert.  This was so cool, as this type of broadcast, using Laplive.TV, hadn't been done before at Joe's and it was a monstrous production. Over 3,000 fans around the country got to watch the show live at Joe's thanks to the live streaming.  Jerrod was thrilled to be able to "bring Joe's TO all of his fans."  You can catch the rest of our discussion/interview here. Jerrod's show was non-stop action with an entire horns section and back to back crowd pleasing hits.  He has such a wonderful demeanor and stage presence, he makes every audience member feel like a family member and an integral part of the show.  The highlight for me was his beautiful ballad, What Do You Want, which was also co-written by a dear friend, Rachel Bradshaw.  Jerrod's deep and powerful voice had the audience captivated for the duration of the show but that song was on a whole different level.

The next day, Friday, was truly epic.  If you were at Joe's, you witnessed the intensity first hand.  Once again, I ventured to House of Blues for the 2nd performance of Florida Georgia Line, Love and Theft, and Jake Owen.  After the show I had to round up the troops and help get all the boys over to Joe's so they could support their friend, Chase Rice, who was performing his first sold out show.  Chase is an interesting guy.  On the outside, he seems to be a tall, handsome, ummm jock?  But he's got so much more going on than that.  This guy has done it all, and all by the young age of 27.  We had a really fun interview... you can watch it here.  When Chase took the stage, he really rocked it... of course, the ladies were ecstatic, but he really was pulling the guys in too... as they could all relate to his "fun time"  music.  Chase called up buddy Stephen Barker Liles (Love and Theft) to jam with him for one song, yet the "piece de resistance" was during the encore performance.  Chase sneaked off stage and was scrambling upstairs to gather all his fellow songwriters and performers for one last colossal track.  He grabbed Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard of Florida Georgia Line, and Jesse Rice (co-writer).  They are the conglomeration responsible for the current number one song in country, Cruise.  No one  at Joe's had ever seen a crowd go so crazy before... especially during the last chorus of "In this brand new Chevy with a lift kit... would look a HELL OF A LOT BETTER WITH YOU UP IN IT!"

Fortunately, for those of you who missed any of these shows, you can be confident all of the artists will be back in 2013.  There's already an incredible line up that's in place for January and February.  Check it out here and hope to see y'all soon at a show soon!! Stay tuned... I'm going to tell you about my last crazy trip to Nashville and review Florida Georgia Line's new chart topping album, Here's to the Good Times.

Chicago Vs. Country Music???? (2012)

Chicago’s relationship with country music is quite an enigma.  Depending on where you are, and with whom, you will either discover that Chicago is the next best thing since Nashville….or you’ll hear crickets when you ask, “Hey, have you heard of  Jason Aldean?!”  For me, personally, I’ve been a country fan as long as I can remember…even growing up in Lake View.  Shockingly, my Sicilian immigrant father got me hooked on Waylon, Willie, Conway, The Gatlin Brothers, and the Oak Ridge Boys before I could even walk.  I think the first song I learned when I was two was, “Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys.”

Yet today, I have my friends divided into two groups: My country friends, and my non-country friends.  I know when I’m with my “country friends” I can put on the most obscure Garth Brooks, or the newest hit from Little Big Town, and they’ll know every word and turn whatever venue we’re at into our own little honky-tonk.  I also know when I’m with my “non-country friends”  I better not even mention how excited I am for the upcoming Zac Brown Band show, or god forbid play any Eric Church for them on my iPod.  I will, without a doubt, get the “How can you listen to that stuff?” or “Turn that redneck music off!!”

I believe this happens because in Chicago, it’s easy to go your entire life and not necessarily be exposed to country music.  This would NOT happen if you grew up or lived in the South.  You may not be country’s biggest fan, but you will damn sure be familiar with the genre.  In the Windy City, there are no fair-weather country fans.  I’ve noticed you’re either a “die-hard” or a “hater”.  Now, I’ve also noticed that the “haters” are people who just haven’t given country a chance.  Almost every “hater” I’ve encountered can easily be converted into a “die-hard” by listening to a few key crossover artists who can gingerly swing them over into the country-friendly realm.

Once you become a fan of country, Chicago is an amazing place to be.  We have the country’s BIGGEST country music radio station inUS99.5 (in terms of listenership…quite the accomplishment).  We are also a mega-hub for every country artist to appear… major and minor alike.  This is why our beloved Joe’s Bar is such a phenomenon.  It gives the “die-hards” a place to see their favorite artists up close and personal, yet also provides chance to experience up and coming artists.  It’s also the perfect venue for a “die-hard” to bring a “hater” friend for a non-threatening and eye-opening introduction to country music.  There is NO way the non-country lover will leave a show at Joe’s and say they didn’t have a blast and a new found appreciation for the genre they’ve been shying away from.

Clearly, the people at Joe’s, US99, and myself (wow, I’m in good company) have made it our mission to bring country music to the masses and to the forefront of our fair city.  It is a big undertaking, but fortunately, the music speaks for itself and does most of the work.  However, there is no better feeling of accomplishment than turning a “hater” into a “die-hard.”

Stone Temple Pilots...Finally!!! (2012)

2012 marks the 20th year anniversary of when Stone Temple Pilots' debut album, Core, was released. This was no ordinary debut. It consisted of hit after deep and twisted hit. Anyone who is familiar with the band, knows they have had a roller coaster ride of fame, drug addiction, arrests, and depression. Usually the megalomaniacal frontman, Scott Weiland, has been at the epicenter of the drama. They have even gone their separate ways in the past, forming other bands...such as Scott forming Audioslave with Slash. Yet, they decided to put the original four (brothers Dean and Robert DeLeo, drummer Eric Kretz, and Mr. Weiland) back in the saddle for a Core revisited tour.

The show was on September 4th at the Vic Theater. The venue was awesome. It doesn't hold too many people so we were able to be quite close to the stage. The entire crowd started to get severe anxiety, however, when we had to wait an hour and a half after the opening band for STP to take the stage. Rumors of Scott being a diva were flowing and my concert companion was certain they wouldn't go on at all. Finally...they put the rumors to rest and COMMANDED the stage. The sound was incredible. Scott hasn't lost one iota of his vocal ability and was able to do complete justice to every single track they performed.

Scott rocked the stage with his beyond slender frame and Jagger/Bowie-esque presence and dance moves and kept the energy soaring throughout the entire set. This was so monumentous for me as STP, along with Pearl Jam (obvi) and Smashing Pumpkins, were one of my favorite bands of the 90's. They helped me form my love for hard alternative rock, and to now see them in concert, after 20 years of being a fan, was surreal. So surreal that I could barely control myself during some of my favorite tracks like: Plush, Trippin' on a Hole in a Paper Heart, Vasoline, Creep, Interstate Love Song, and finally Sex Type Thing (encore). I was raging so hard I think I lost 10 lbs during the show. My friend hadn't seen this side of me before and I most certainly frightened him. But hey, it was a 20 year (god I'm old) build up that needed to be released.

The band shocked the audience when they pulled Rick Nielsen, lead guitarist of Cheap Trick, on stage. They proceeded to rock the shit out of a rendition of "Surrender". My friend and I almost lost our was such a bad ass moment and we couldn't believe what we were witnessing. In the end, waiting 20 years...and the additional hour and a half was worth it. Say what you will about Weiland's crazy antics or STP being a "poor man's Pearl Jam"- they can still put on one hell of a show after 2 decades. At the end of the night, it was definitely time to take me home because my dizzy head was conscience laden....

Smashing Pumpkins at The Metro (2012)

This past Thursday I had the privilege of seeing my 2nd all-time favorite band in concert (we all know who numero uno is).  This was such a cool experience and please pardon me for bragging a bit as to the extreme level of coolness this show achieved.  First off, let me compare how drastically different the 2 times were that I have seen the Pumpkins live.

1st time.  1996 at Rosemont Horizon (there's a flashback for ya).  I had about 20th row center in the midst of about 8 billion rowdy teens (like myself) and it was about 200 degrees in the arena.  Without getting into too much detail-on the off chance I might have a younger reader- let's just say there was an incident with a type of mushroom then an ambulance ride followed by an awesome hospital visit for me.  I saw a total of ONE song.  Definitely a night to remember....for the wrong reasons.

2nd time- June 14th, 2012- The Metro.  Our friend, Theo Epstein (President of the Chicago Cubs) invited several of us to his charity event he was hosting at The Metro.  Billy Corgan and the Pumpkins agreed to play his show pro-bono (definitely not the norm for many artists).  The place was packed and we had front row seats in Theo's balcony.  Great view, great crowd, and plenty of drinks.  This was gonna be a good night.  So we're all a few drinks deep and the lights went down and it hit me that I was going to get to see another idol of mine/epic band just a few yards away from me any second.  I started to freak out (in a non-mushroom way) and jump up and down like a little school girl with the biggest smile ever plastered across my face. They take the stage and Billy, as usual, looks quite intimidating because of his imposing height and scowl... I actually had the opportunity to chat with Billy the week before at the Roger Waters show, and I told him how pumped I was to see him at the Metro. I mentioned that our close mutual friend was bringing me, and he said he was really looking forward to this show as they were debuting a few of their new tunes.  It was pretty sweet to get the inside scoop...

They opened with Zero.  Bottom f-ing rocked.  Billy still sounds the same and his signature anguished vocals and heart piercing and transcendental lead guitar brought me right back to why I fell so hard for them in 1993 when they released their sophomore album, Siamese Dream.  The nice thing about this being a charity show, was Billy played mainly hits, with a couple new tunes.  Zero was followed by "Bullet with Butterfly Wings" and the crowd pleasing "Today".  I pretty much lost it when they played "Cherub Rock" -definitely my favorite track from Siamese Dream.  They also played "1979" and "Tonight Tonight" from 1995's critically acclaimed, Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness.  "Ava Adore" almost brought me to tears as it is such an angry yet hopeful song with a massively heavy guitar riff and a hardcore beat that can put you in a trance.  The 2 new songs were great as well and were fortunately very "Pumpkin" like.  We all know I hate when bands change their intrinsic sound after they garner a billion fans... (sorry Eddie, you know I love ya...literally).  I really wish that they would've played "Here is No Why" and "Mayonnaise" but I guess they didn't have time to please us all.  My favorite of theirs is a tune called "Ugly" it was released in 1995 and was a B-side to the "1979" single.  It's haunting and very punctuated.  Unlike many of their lyrics- this one is clear and straight to the point.  "I Don't look in the mirror, I don't like what I see staring back at me.  Everything is clearer...I'll never see what you see.  It's not beautiful and free." If you have not heard this song... PLEASE download it. You will not regret it.

I've heard this lame-ass comment more than a few times..."But it's not even the Pumpkins! It's just Billy, it's none of the original members!". If you know the band you know that Billy IS the Pumpkins.  He wrote over 90% of every note and lyric and was the sole instrumentalist on all the studio recordings as he only trusted himself to get it perfect.  And perfect it was... and still is.  Even though James Iha, Jimmy Chamberlain, and D'Arcy are gone... the heart and soul of the Pumpkins is still thriving.

TODAY, June 19th, is actually the release date of their 9th studio album, Oceania (how 'bout my impeccable blog timing?).  Billy calls it an "album within an album" as it's part of a 44 song compilation that began being released in 2009.  The bassist, Nicole Fiorentino (yup, another girl), says "it has that familiar old-school Pumpkins feel to it, with a modern twist".  I did just listen to the album and it is a bit reminiscent of their older material... not as up-tempo, however.  It's unmistakably Pumpkins.  I'm glad they're back and in full effect.  It surely looks like Billy has his feet dug in the ground and ain't goin' anywhere anytime soon.  Viva 90's alternative rock!!!