Saturday, March 8, 2014

Tips for going to a concert solo

How to enjoy it without looking like a weirdo

On some occasions, my wife or friends have something going on the night of a good concert in town.  There is also a good chance they either don't want to go because its the middle of the week or the show is a couple hours away.  I have to respect that because its a lot to ask a person to stay out until midnight on a Tuesday and drive home 2 hours after the show for a band you might not be that into.  So, I am often stuck going to the show by myself.  Now that I'm 30, its a bit harder to not seem like a complete weirdo hanging out at a venue solo.  I find myself older than most of the crowd and even the band sometimes.  I try to forget that and enjoy myself because I'm there for the music.  However, I still want to feel comfortable and the only way to do that is blend in and not draw attention to yourself.  I created sort of game plan for this such occurrence and follow a few simple guidelines to get me through the night.  If you find yourself in a similar scenario, follow these tips to help you get through the night as well. 

1. Get a beer immediately

I find this helps blend you in a bit and let others know you're there to enjoy yourself.  If you have a beer in your hand, you're more likely to look like you're waiting for someone who might be in the restroom or getting a beer himself.  I usually get a beer as soon as get there and nurse it a bit.  There are some great places in Cleveland like the Beachland Ballroom and Grog Shop that have great beers on tap, so that helps you enjoy the beer as well.

2. Change spots

When you stand in the same spot for the whole concert the same people can focus on you for the whole show.  This makes me feel a bit uncomfortable, so I try to move around a bit.  Once you move, people are less likely to look to see what you're doing because they might not have seen you for most of the show.  If you have a great spot and its at intermission or before the show starts, I'd suggest sparking up limited conversation with someone cool by you.  Maybe about other shows coming up or that you've gone to recently.  It helps pass the time and it could be interesting conversation.

3. Don't take a ton of pictures or video

I have problem with this one.  Especially now since I have updating this blog with concert reviews and I like to post a few pictures and video of the show.  This just calls a ton of attention to yourself and makes you look like a tool.  If you're fine with looking like a tool and taking two dozen pictures, then you're good.  I look like a major tool at concerts because of this.

4. Wait until the end of the show to buy merch

If you're carrying around the t-shirt, poster and vinyl you just bought for an hour and a half, you're going to look like a nerd.  I have a problem with this one too because I'm super into gig posters and I fear that they'll sell out if I don't buy one early.  I usually grab the poster when I get there and then get a t-shirt as I'm leaving.

5. Don't wear ear plugs

The only guys that wear ear plugs should be dudes in the band or security.  Everyone else should deal with the pain if you're in front of one of the speakers.  Especially if you're by yourself.  If you're wearing earplugs, you might as well be wearing a fanny pack.

6. Show up right before the opener or skip the opener

I always try to catch an opening act.  I like to see new bands and catching an opener is a great way.  However, if you're hanging around before the show or during intermission and you're by yourself, you're likely to standout.  Try to show up right before the headliner if you need to. 
Get it.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Gig Poster Thursday - 3.6.14 - Riot Fest 2012, Chicago

Show: Riot Fest - Chicago @ Humboldt Park - Friday, September 14 - Sunday September 16, 2014

Artist: Unknown

I have a nice size collection of concerts poster at about 30.  I have a few from about 10-15 years ago, but most of them are from the last 3-4 years.  I only have so much wall space though, so I have a portfolio binder starting to fill up as well.  Well, obviously I have my favorites hanging up.  This poster that I got from Riot Fest 2012 is still up on the wall and has outlasted a bunch of others because I absolutely love it. 
The festival was pretty cool as well.  If you've never been to Riot Fest, its worth it to go for just the side attractions.  It has a big top theme, complete with flame breathers, bearded ladies and a professional wrestling ring.  This was my first time going to Riot Fest, so it was a sweet experience.  I really wanted to see Alkaline Trio play and that is one of the main reasons I went.  Also playing were Iggy and the Stooges, NOFX, The Offspring and Elvis Costello. 
I love the color combo of this poster of the yellow and grey.  My main man, old school wrestling dude is the star of this poster.  He reminds me of one of the dudes that ride the big front wheel old school bikes.  The guys that go, "Ahdee-oop!" and jump on the bike.  I love this poster and it probably will never leave its wall spot. 


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Forecastle Festival Lineup Review

Forecastle Festival Lineup Review

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Forecastle pulled off booking multiple heavy hitters again. They grabbed acts that work well with the setting of the festival and in the south, with a mix of rock, folk, country and blues.  Outkast even showed up to pollute the lineup joining other headliners Jack White and Beck. White and Beck.  Let's breakdown some of the lineup.


Jack White

With Jack White starting to pick up multiple festival bookings over the last two months, including Bonnaroo and Governors Ball, it was a pleasant surprise to see him on this bill.  Jack fits Forecastle more than any other festival in the south besides maybe SXSW.  His gritty presence and hard riffs fit nicely into this southern influenced lineup.  Plus, this is another opportunity for me to see him as Louisville is only five hours from Cleveland.  I'm sure I'll have many other opportunities as he'll be touring heavily it appears for his expected upcoming album.


Although I love Beck, I'm not sure how he fits in here or any festival this season to be honest.  His latest album doesn't necessarily have any festival driven tunes and has a bit of a slower pace.  Again, I love Morning Phase (click here see my review of the album), but I just don't see it in this setting.  He'll be performing at Pitchfork this same weekend in Chicago and I can actually see him fit better with the hipsters there.  As long as he hits the Midnite Vultures and Odelay classics, I'm sure he'll be a knockout at both.  This was a nice get.

JJ Grey and Mofro

JJ's bluesy voice and southern style make him another perfect fit at Forecastle.  I'm pretty pumped to see him here as the only time I've seen him before was two years ago at Lollapalooza when his show got cut early and only played three songs.  Louisville will love his southern authenticity.  Hopefully he gets into a staring contest with a glass of water again.  If you don't know what I'm talking about, you'll have to catch him live.

Gary Clark Jr.

Pumped to see him after missing most of his set two weeks ago in Columbus and last night here in Cleveland because I saw WWJP instead.  Tons of great blues rock tracks from GCJR, but hopefully he leaves his DeAngelo-esque R&B tunes at home.

Brett Dennen

Another great fit.  He'll most likely be a day act on a smaller stage, but he can carry a note and a crowd.  A bit of an odd dude.  I met him at the World's Largest Block Party two years ago and he growled at me.  He gets a pass though because he has made three solid albums in a row.

The Weeks

I love these dudes and they're from Louisville, so this makes sense.  Being produced by the Kings of Leon, these guys know how to hit notes over dude rock.  I haven't seen them before live, but if they also learned how to own a concert, I'm sure we're for a show.

Against Me!

I'm interested in seeing them since Thomas James Gabel became Laura Jane Grace.  I haven't heard much of the new album, but these guys/gal are more of a punk act.  Still, I loved their old stuff, so looking forward to seeing it live.

Jenny Lewis

My friends and wife would tell you I have a bit of a crush on Jenny Lewis.  What they tell you is true.

Other notable gets

The Replacements
Band of Horses
Dwight Yoakem
Local Natives
Lord Huron
Nickel Creek

Full Lineup

Get it.

Concert Review #5 - We Were Promised Jetpacks @ Grog Shop, Cleveland - 3.3.14

Concert Review #5

We Were Promised Jetpacks @ Grog Shop, Cleveland - Monday, March 3, 2014

The five-some played one heck of a show in front of a pumped up weeknight crowd Monday.  They were in town in support of their latest album,  E Rey: Live in Philadelphia, a recording of the last show of their 2012 tour, in February 2014.  The Grog Shop was the perfect setting for the Scottish rockers as filled the small and musky venue with guitar riffs and heavy drum beats.  Lead singer Adam Thompson started out with fan favorites and went into their international hit Quiet Little Voices on their third song.  Immediately, the crowd was singing along to every lyric with most head bobbing and others full out dancing to every tune. 
They continued to keep their fans moving by jamming for minutes at a time, tying in Adam's lyrics at what seemed to be a bit too far past their mark, but actually purposely waiting to hit it perfectly.  They went into Sore Thumb at just the perfect pace, soaking wet with sweat inside when it was 2 below zero outside. They then hit Ships With Hole Will Sink in full jam mode while building the energy of the venue with the escalation in tempo.  Adam shouted in the mic and the crowd cheered frantically. 
They closed out the main set with It's Thunder and It's Lightning, smoothly starting with "Right foot
 followed by a left foot...We'll guide you home before your curfew and into your bed...."
  A perfect start to the end of a great set.  They really had the crowd mixed with mid 40s dudes, hipsters and some weirdo with a Spiderman sweatshirt wrapped around their finger.  They walked off and came back for the encore about a minute later to close it out with a new song that I wasn't familiar with but was great.  I can't wait for their next album with new content.  I know they'll return to their perfect setting when they come back to Cleveland on that tour and I will most definitely be there.
Get it.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Brew Review - The Church Brew Works - Pittsburgh, PA

Jesus H.! That's Good Beer!

Saturday, we headed out to Pittsburgh for the Avett Brothers concert (see my concert review here), so I figured why not try to hit at least one brewery on the trip.  I went out to beer advocate and searched for local brew spots in the Pittsburgh area.  The Church Brew Works popped up on the list and looked intriguing enough to head to. A cool theme in which the brewery was built a restored 1902 church in the Pittsburgh suburb of Lawrenceville, this brew pub offers a diverse, and untraditional menu.
We showed up and it immediately shocked me as being a truly standout idea to have a brewery.  When pulling up, it truly looked like people were hanging outside of a church smoking cigarettes.  There was nothing that really stood out that made you think this was a brewery, bar and restaurant, except for the sign, which actually looked like it should say Our Lady of Mt. Beer, but really said The Church Brew Works.  Everything was kept to the church theme. 
When walking in it immediately hits you as walking in for Sunday mass.  There is a walkway to the alter with church pews on each side, leading up to the alter which so happened to have four or five kettles as a focal point instead of a tabernacle.  The whole place exuded "holy crap this is cool

We grabbed some seats in the bar area because the wait for a table was over an hour.  We sat down and waited quite awhile for the wait staff to come by.  Although extremely kind, they seemed to be a bit overwhelmed by the amount of people in waiting on beers and food.  We eventually got service and ordered some beers and dinner.


Pipe Organ Pale Ale - English Pale Ale, ABV: 4.3% - A subtle pale ale with great taste and perfect to start a long night of drinking.  3.5 out of 5.

Thunderhop IPA - American IPA, ABV: 8% - A heavy hitting IPA.  I got smacked in the face with a boozy, hoppy first sip.  3 out of 5.
Renegade Black IPA - Black IPA / Cascadian Dark Ale, ABV% 5.9 - A really smooth black IPA that had the perfect taste and was a great compliment to the chicken I ordered.  4 out of 5.


The wife ordered the pulled pork sandwich with fries and I went with the crispy chicken thighs with mashed root.  Both were very good and as I mentioned were complimented perfectly by our beers.

Overall a fantastic venue and very cool theme.  God, I hope I can go back soon.
Get it.


Sunday, March 2, 2014

Concert Review #4 - Avett Brothers @ Petersen Events Center, Pittsburgh - 3.1.2014

Concert Review #4

Avett Brothers @ Petersen Events Center, Pittsburgh - Saturday, March 1, 2014

The Avett Brothers were playing in Pittsburgh last night, so we decided to head east to check them out.  They are touring for their latest album, Magpie and the Dandelion that came out in late 2013 which was produced by famed musical visionary Rick Rubin.  They were in Cleveland not long ago at the end of the summer and in Chicago late last year in which I got to see them as well.  They are an impressive live band, in which Scott and Seth Avett trade acoustic and electric guitars, banjos, and piano.  They are joined by Bob Crawford on the stand up and electric bass and Joseph Kwon on the cello.  Yes, you read right, banjos and cellos.  They run through their gambit of talents while performing some of the best folk rock out these days. 

Scott and Seth Avett started out strong with classics Talk on Indolence where they traded lyrics rapidly and fiercely.  Seth strumming aggressively on the banjo and Scott on the acoustic guitar.  They kept the pace up with Thank God I'm a Country Boy a classic made famous by the legendary John Denver and becoming a staple of Avett Brothers show.  They began to slow it down a bit on the third song and played Live and Die, which picks up mid song. 

The brothers dualed on notes and dance moves while jamming out to each and every song.  Scott doing his best toe tap while grooving with the guitar and Seth jumping up and down feverishly matching the up and down strumming on his banjo.  A few more songs in they went into Pretty Girl from Chile, one of my favorites.  They set the pace of the song acoustically and then broke out the electric guitar and bass and rocked the rest.  Chile was followed by another Avett staple, Murder in the City.  The crowd sang along to every note creating a perfect folk rock environment in the Petersen Events Center.  

They finished strong with Scott performing a song off the new album, Vanity and ending with I and Love and You which made the crowd wanting more.  They took off back stage for a few minutes all the while with the crowd insanely cheering for the encore.  To everyone's pleasure they came back out to perform four more songs.  Before the second encore song the Avett's asked Old Crow Medicine Show to come back out and help them after they opened earlier in the night.  Both bands performed classics Laundry Room, On the Road Again and Goodnight, Sweetheart, Goodnite leaving the Pittsburgh crowd in a frenzy. 

When they were exiting the stage, Seth Avett crumpled up the setlist into a ball and threw it out toward our direction.  Some teenage kid jumped for it before I could get my hands on it, but he gladly let me take a picture of it.  Pretty sweet.  I am pretty happy I will see them soon again at Bonnaroo this summer.  They will no doubt send that crowd into the same frenzy that Pittsburgh was in Saturday night.

Setlist (In case you can't read it above):
1.Talk on Indolence 
2.Thank God I'm a Country Boy (John Denver cover)
3.Live and Die 
4.Good to You
5.Down with the Shine 
6.I Never Knew You 
8.All My Mistakes 
9.Pretty Girl from Chile 
10.Murder in the City 
11.Distraction #74 
12.And It Spread 
13.Slight Figure of Speech
14.Ten Thousand Words 
15.Tear Down the House 
17.Love Like the Movies 
18.Part from Me 
19.Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise 
21.November Blue 
22.I and Love and You 

23.Laundry Room 
24.On the Road Again 
25.Will the Circle Be Unbroken  (Traditional cover)
26.Goodnite, Sweetheart, Goodnite  (The Spaniels cover)