Friday, February 28, 2014

Gig Poster Thursday - 2.27.14

Show: The Postal Service - Columbus, OH @ LC Pavilion - Saturday, June 8, 2013

Artist: Jason Munn

Last year was another sweet year for live acts.  This week's poster is from The Postal Service's 10 year anniversary tour of their album Give Up.  The Postal Service was everywhere last year and I actually got to see them twice.  Once in Columbus, the other at Lollapalooza where they played the same as Mumford and Sons.  My buddies and I opted to watch The Postal Service over Mumford and we got fairly close to the amazing performance. We then tried to see them the Sunday night of Lolla at the Metro.  We waited outside trying to get tickets for 2 hours.  We eventually gave up 30 minutes after the show started.  It pains me to say this was their last show together...until 10 years from now that is.

This particular night was great in Columbus.  My wife and I drove down on Saturday after I bought tickets about 2 hours before the show on Stubhub.  We got there are were blown away at how good they were live.  Ben Gibbard and Jenny Lewis worked off of each other on hits such as Such Great Heights and The District Sleeps Tonight.  They had the crowd singing along to every word of every song.  It was like a flashback in time to my college years and to the truly good times in my early 20s.  They continued along through the night and that is when they sent me into a trance with Nothing Better. 

They had several tour posters last year.  They had three variations of color of this poster, orange, pink and powder blue based on portions of the tour all by Jason Munn.  They then had unique posters for their European tour and 4 individual shows, one of those being the forever regretful Metro show.  Lets hope they'll come back down the road maybe 5 or 10 years from now so I can have another shot of catching their that last show again. 

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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Album Review: Beck - 'Morning Phase'


'Morning Phase'

Released: Tuesday, 2.25.14

Let me first start out by saying I have been a Beck fan since I was 10 years old.  I recorded Loser on a cassette tape from the radio and re-played it over and over again until the tape spindle was worn out.  That is not the same Beck that is on this album.  Beck hit the scene at the same time I really started to get into music, but his music has morphed over the last 20 years into what it is today.  Morning Phase is further proof that Beck has evolved from the burnout we grew to love on his breakout Loser to a folk rocker with hypnotizing choruses.  He has aged into an acquired taste.  I read several reviews leading up to the album being released today.  Many of which gave Morning Phase high praise and one even calling it a "folk-rock masterpiece".  I will not go that far, but I has the potential to hook you on the second listen.  I'm currently listening to it a third time as I write this and can already pick out my favorite tracks.

Although I knew this was not going to be the same Beck from my favorite albums Odelay and Modern Guilt, I thought he might provide a surprise and go back to his eclectic roots for one or two songs.  That's not the case here as Beck provides the initial tempo on intro instrumental track, Cycle and sticks with it through Morning, setting the table for the rest of the album.  Each song shows how far Beck has come from the funky album Midnite Vultures.  Beck used to keep us guessing from track to track on his earlier albums, while layering in Beastie Boy-esque drastic changes.  He has become the singer songwriter he is today.

Morning Phase tells a full story and is a complete package rather than having individual treatments and directions from track to track.  Not even the single Blue Moon stands alone in the course of the album.  This is not to say that individual songs can't stand out on their while taken out of the blanketed approach.  Don't Let It Go and Country Down can be pulled from the story as standouts and carry their own weight.  Although changing pace on these particular tracks, they still perfectly fit in the grand scheme.  On Don't Let It Go, he plucks away from the start and serenades, ..."Don't let them turn you out/Don't it turn your mind inside out..."  Keeping with the same theme of vague reference of waking to new days and standing ground.  Who would have ever thought when I was using a #2 pencil, attempting to frantically adjust the tape on my cassette to hear the waste-oid anthem Loser, I'd be listening to the same artist sing about change, outlook and breaking through barriers 20 years later.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Cleveland's Concert Struggles

Cleveland's Concert Struggles

When Will "Cleveland Rocks" Be True Again?

Being from Cleveland isn't always easy.  It feels like winter is longer than the other three seasons combined.  Our sports teams are constantly in the bottom of the standings and haven't won a major championship in 50 years  And at times it seems like no "mid-major" music act ever comes here anymore. 

Being fans of live music, we use concerts as our escape from the work week.  Using a concert as a plan on a weekend night can often be cheaper than going out to the bar until last call.  Especially if you can attend a smaller show with no more than a few hundred people at it at pay only 10 bucks to get in.  However, recently it has felt that bands skip Cleveland on their tours, often opting for Columbus, Detroit and Pittsburgh.  I understand having a major college campus in Columbus helps to guarantee an audience on a week night.  I also get Detroit and Pittsburgh pulling in major and mid-major acts as they are also major cities with blue-collar foundations and love for rock music. Cleveland though, missed out on acts such as Kings of Leon, Vampire Weekend, Phoenix, Sleigh Bells and Franz Ferdinand (to note a few) on their recent tours over the last year.  These bands have decided to book shows at the before mentioned cities over the last years instead of coming to Cleveland.  We have had no choice but to drive the 2 hours to each of these locations because it.  As true concert lovers, we will not let a band like The Postal Service be within a one-tank trip from where we live and not go see them.

The venues in Cleveland are spread out throughout the city and range in sizes.  Beachland Ballroom, Grog Shop, Mahall's and House of Blues can pull in smaller sold out crowds, but its tough to get a bigger band to play these venues.  House of Blues can pull some mainstream acts, but it has limitations and feels like its range of acts limits the amount of good rock bands that can be scheduled to play it.  There is the Nautica Pavilion and Blossom in the spring and summer months, but as I mentioned its winter 11 months a year here.  Nautica and Blossom can provide the appropriate forum for those acts between a Dr. Dog and a Justin Timberlake.  A mid-major if you will.  I saw the Avett Brothers at Nautica in August and it was the perfect setting for that size of a following.  Obviously the major acts play Quicken Loans Arena, but the arena show experience is limited and often extremely overpriced.  What does that leave us with in the winter? 

Years back we had the beautiful Agora Theater and Ballroom.  What a place.  I have way too many memories from shows in my high school years from the Agora.  It provided the perfect concert setting for those middle level bands.  However, since it closed a few years back and re-opened under new management it has not been the same.  How I wish it was during the winter months.  It would at least pull in 4-5 decent concerts a winter so I wouldn't have to drive to Newport Music Hall in Columbus for an 8pm show on a Tuesday. had this article a few months back affirming Cleveland as a major tour market.  For who though?  Teenage girls and middle aged moms?  Cleveland is supposed to be the epicenter of Rock and Roll.  Home of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  Why can't we embrace that further and open up a few other decent mid-size music venues.  Lets get some decent venues in Tremont and Ohio City.  Lets continue to grow the fledging music scene in Lakewood.  We need a few more decent venues to get these bands to come to Cleveland.  Columbus rebuilt their downtown area and built the LC Pavilion which is a beautiful outdoor/indoor venue that pulls in mid and major acts.  Even creating a small music festival last year that was held on the property.  There was so much press given to the revitalization of downtown.  Why has live music been ignored?  Cleveland is too great of a city to not have a more elaborate music scene.  Its good, but it can be better if we could just get the bands to come here.  I mean why wouldn't you want to come here?  Its winter year round.

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Sunday, February 23, 2014

Brew Review - Fatheads Brewery and Tap House - Hop Juju Imperial IPA - Middleburg Heights, Ohio

My first taste of Hop Juju Imperial IPA

Living in the Midwest there is no shortage of great tasting beers.  With fantastic breweries in the Ohio and Michigan and emerging breweries in Indiana and Illinois, its easy to find great craft beer within the distance of a one-tank trip.  The number of breweries either popping up or expanding to the area is rapidly growing as well.  One of the more recent expansions is Fatheads Brewery and Tap House that opened in Middleburg Heights, Ohio just south of Cleveland.  Fatheads also has a location in the Cleveland area in nearby North Olmsted, which is more of a restaurant and bar.  You can never beat the taproom experience of being right in the brewery though.  Fatheads in Middleburg Heights is just that.  It is a taproom that literally sits right in the brewery.  There are no walls to block your view from the massive kettles and equipment that makes the very beer you're drinking.  This location opened up some time last year and I have had a few opportunities to check it out.  I have not yet been there for a beer release or close to a beer release though.  What better way to get started for their most recently released Hop Juju. 

Hop Juju won Gold in the Imperial IPA category at the 2013 Great American Beer Festival in Denver, CO.  It beat out 148 other competitors in the 2nd largest populated category.  The word was definitely out that Hop Juju was available at the Tap House because the place was packed.  It was released in bottles on Thursday, 2/13, but the official roll out was on Friday, 2/21.  We showed up around 8pm and the place was hopping (pun intended).  I was impressed because the particular area the Tap House is in does not have too many other decent craft beer bars, just The Brew Kettle in Strongsville and The Cornerstone Brewing Company in Berea.  Fatheads sits in the back of an industrial complex like many of the great breweries do.  Hop Juju brought the crowds in though.  On my first sip, the hops smacked me in the face and I instantly knew what all the hub bub was about. 

Hop Juju: 9% ABV, 100 IBU - This is an intensely hoppy brew with hints of pine, citrus and tropical fruits. - 5 out of 5 for me on this knockout.

I took down three (the wife was driving) and enjoyed every second of it.  Although at a steep price of $6.50 per 12oz pour, it still was a heck of a deal to be able to taste this rare, limited beer fresh from the source.  It really unexpectedly zonks you too because its so tasty and goes down easy.

I picked up a few 4 packs in the gift shop.  At $14 a 4 pack, pretty pricey as well, but worth it.  They'll be good to keep in the fridge for special occasions over the next few weeks.  Hey! Whatd'ya know?! Its a Sunday!  That feels like a special occasion to me.  Time to crack one open. 

Beer Advocate Rating: 97 -

Fatheads Brewery and Tap House is at 18741 Sheldon Rd., Middleburg Hts., Ohio

Wednesday: 4 - 9 PM
Thursday: 4 - 9 PM
Friday: 4 - 10 PM
Saturday: Noon - 10 PM
Sunday: Noon - 7 PM

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