Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Message to the program directors and DJs at WSUM (The Snake on the Lake) 91.7, Madison

WSUM has <joke>Fallen out of favor with me, and the only Cure </joke> is to not forget to bring different cds to my car or keep my iPod charged.

I've stopped tuning in because I'm sick of hearing the Fall and the Cure (and the bands that aspire to be the Fall and the Cure). Oddly enough, they don't really play the Smiths that often, unless you're talking about Robert and Mark E., which is either a really funny joke that's gone sour, or a crazy misunderstanding on the part of a moron who has never heard "How Soon is Now?".

Addendum: Today (6/3/2007), I turned my back on my word and tuned into the station again. Would it surprise you if the first song I heard was by the Cure? I was not so much shocked as I was disappointed. :(

Friday, May 25, 2007

Things I Did Today

Today I woke up and I cleaned my closet. I found my iTrip in there! I thought it was gone forever. Nope. That was pleasant.

I watched some soccer goals on Youtube. I watched Kaka score against Manchester United. I watched Pavel Nedved's long distance goals. I watched Miklos Feher of Benfica FC die on the field. I never should have clicked that link. In 2004, Feher, a Hungarian soccer player died of an apparent heart attack right after receiving a yellow card. The game was being broadcast on Portuguese television and is, therefore, available to watch on the internet. Being a somewhat macabre person, I just could not resist clicking and watching (albeit with some trepidation) that link. What a bummer. This image has been haunting me all day. Today has, in fact, sucked because I watched Miklos Feher die. It's so weird seeing life leave a body. If you readers are feeling ghoulish, here's the link: Feher dies on the pitch

Be warned: it will ruin your day.

What can I do to salvage the last few hours of the day? Oh yeah, I'll go out later with some people and do stupid things. Morning Glory seeds and alcohol. That's all legal by the way. They sell Morning Glories at garden stores. You crush like 100 of them in a coffee grinder then put the resulting powder in some water and it's like mild LSD. I'm not fucking endorsing that though. In fact, don't do it.

I'm putting a picture (Bruegel's Dulle Griet - do you italicize painting titles?) in my first "charz2k: resurrected" post. Consider it flair. Now that I think of it, the old charz2k was entirely devoid of pictures. So the new charz2k is already better! Websites can rise from the dead. Too bad people can't. Don't you hate that? People are so great. I'm not being sarcastic. Sometimes the world is so overwhelmingly wonderful that I don't know how anyone can stand it. Miklos Feher, was a great guy (I'm guessing). I wish he could have been afforded the chance to live again. At least he died doing what he loved. We should all be so lucky. If my death scenario were to be similar, and I died doing what I loved, I'd die writing a charz2k post with a smile on my face.

welcome back charz2k!


Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Drinking bands

It's pretty common to have a few drinks at a show. Usually more than a few is where the typical concertgoer of age ends up, and usually the beer helps you move your feet when your all too self-conscious feet would rather stand around and look like you're too cool to give a shit. I'm pretty sure the bands of the world appreciate the availability of beer (and hard stuff) at their shows so they're not playing to a dead crowd even if it's a full room. Some bands have even gone so far as to take it upon themselves to write music that's literally perfect once you've reached the appropriate level of inebriation (it takes a certain amount of experience, both with alcohol and musicmanship to achieve this) and when the two moments come together it's pure fucking magic. You've gotta be careful when you're in range though, because going over the edge can either make for a miserable experience in front of the toilet, or a fantastic experience you don't remember.

I've been in this territory quite a few times in my life. I've gotten to the edge without quite approaching the prize. I've gone too far and now don't quite recollect what went on at certain shows I was quite excited to see. And, I've been at the equilibrium, where the symbiotic relationship between what you're feeling and what you're hearing is absolutely heavenly.

A lesson for anyone who is planning on taking advantage of all that SXSW has to offer is that you need to beware of the day parties and the free beer and vodka mixes and I-don't-know-what's-in-this-but-I'm-going-to-drink-it-anyway-because-it's-frees that are literally everywhere. Day one of South by Southwest this year found my friends and I at Red 7 drinking drinks because there was no one we wanted to see until Mando Diao, who were playing at 6 (I think). Red 7 had free drinks, and on the first day of SXSW it's pretty customary to go a little overboard. Now if you've heard Mando Diao, and read the first two paragraphs, you'd know that they are one of these bands that dish out some pretty amazing drunk jams. I was really excited, and I was pretty drunk...and the next thing I know it's almost 9 and we're going to see the Pipettes. Dammit. The line was crossed, and I missed a fantastic show.

Fast-forward a month and a half. I'm in Seattle for work and it's the last night before I fly home. I don't have any job-related obligations the next morning (aside from catching a 7am plane home), and guess what, Mando Diao is playing in Seattle! This is fucking fate. I knew they were playing, so I had been planning on seeing the show for a few weeks, but I still think it's pretty cool that they were in town the same week I was (for that matter, so were the Arctic Monkeys, !!!, LCD Soundsystem/YACHT, Jarvis Cocker, the Postmarks, and probably one or two others...EVERYONE fucking plays in Seattle).

I couldn't convince any of my exhausted co-workers that it'd be much more fun to stand for three hours and get drunk and hear some Swedish garage rock than to stay at the hotel and watch TV, so I was there alone. Being that I don't know the scene in Seattle, I got there a bit earlier than I would have liked, but instead of going back out and milling around town I had a few drinks. I drank Crocodile Wheat because I was at the Crocodile Cafe, and I like wheat beer. Clever, eh?

The bar area was pretty cool, but I did notice that there are way too many guys in Seattle. Either that, or Mando Diao just attracts an overwhelmingly male audience. I'm pretty sure the only girl in the section for the first half hour I was there was the waitress (and I'm not trying to pull a fast one on you--there were plenty of other people there).

But anyway, once I started hearing some guitar from a room over, I knew it was time for some rock and roll. I walked into the main room and saw an orange plastic divider fence dissecting the area in front of the stage. The half closest to the door was reserved for those unlucky enough to have been born on a date too late to let them get drunk in the venue for this show, and the other side was for the 21+ crowd and had a bar attached. Sweet. This bar didn't have the same beers as the other, so I couldn't continue my Crocodile streak. They did, however, have Session, which comes in Red Stripe-like stubby bottles and cost something like $2.75. After a few of those (compiled onto what I had imbibed earlier), I was feeling pretty good, even pretty outgoing which isn't something I do often. I imposed myself on the conversation of a girl behind me and her male friend (I don't remember what we talked about, I'm pretty sure I was annoying as shit), and later some other conversation. During the second conversation, Mando Diao had snuck onto the stage and started playing a chord or a note or something, and I bailed on the people I had been talking to faster than a guy on Springer whose paternity test came back positive (it's ok, I can make Springer jokes. I've seen his show taped live) to put myself in prime rock-out position.

The next 45 minutes to an hour are kind of a blur because I came pretty damn close to being too drunk for Mando Diao again, but I held it together. I remember "Sheepdog", which is enough to make the show worthwhile. That song has one of the coolest opening guitar riffs I've ever heard and it really puts you in a mood to dance your ass off. I remember dancing in this weird pattern where first I'd jump my right leg forward and my left leg back, then my right leg right and my left leg left, and repeat. Usually even if I've had a few I'll only thrash my upper body while my feet stay put. This may have to do with convenience, since lots of really crowded shows don't allow you the freedom necessary to pull some awesome foot action. I did that for a while, I jumped up and down for a while, and I cheered a lot. Every song was pretty great, and I don't think I'd hesitate to see that band again. There's more to what happened that night and the next morning, but I don't feel like getting into it.

What I do feel like getting into, is a blurb about great drunk band #2. This band has been primed for success since probably two years ago, when their sophomore album earned a praiseworthy 8.7 from a certain indiebiblical online publication. Album number three pushed the upper limits of what these people distribute as album scores, and now they're recording "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" for Twins games. It's pretty evident from the sound that this band likes to drink and have a good time, and it was pretty clear that a couple of drinks would enhance the concert-going experience to astronomical proportions.

How do you start an evening when you've got a couple of hours to kill before being blown away by an unforgettable show? If you're in Madison, you go to the terrace at UW where you can get much cheaper beer if you know a UW student. Of the seven of us there, not one of us had an ID or a connection, so we got bamboozled into paying $10/pitcher when we probably could have asked someone to go up there and get it for 5. Anyway, a few of these and some good times later, we realize we may be running late and should probably get to the theater.

We walk pretty briskly and get to the door to see the area in front of the bar is pretty crowded, which is a sign that this crowd knows what's up. I asked the bartender what time the Hold Steady went on, and his reply of "they just finished their fist set; their second should start soon" blew my stomach into my throat. Fuck. You've gotta be kidding me, it's only 9:30!? Well, better make the most of what's left, so to the bar we go. I'm getting the first round, beer, until we realize that getting back may not be so easy so it'd be better to double-fist. Beer in one hand, Jack and coke in another. Awesome.

As soon as we get our drinks and walk down the aisle, Craig Finn and his cronies are walking up to the stage, as ready to blow us away as we are ready to be blown away. the Orpheum Stage Door is funny in that it's pretty much a movie theater with an open area in front, so if you get there late you end up wedged into a row of seats instead of where you can jump and move and get elbowed by other fans who are enjoying themselves. At the same time, the seats are a pretty good barrier that really help keep your beer from getting spilled by the dude who is way too excited (who I'm not knocking, just mentioning). After another two rounds, we're good to go and push our way down to the floor. I know how the three wise men felt when they got the Bethlehem. Now I can yell along "Your little hoodrat friend makes me sick. But after I get sick I just get said. BECAUSE IT BURNS BEING BROKE, HURTS TO BE HEARTBROKEN, ALWAYS BEING BOTH MUST BE A DRAG" Yeah! I'm not the only one feeling this either.

This had to have been the most with-it crowd I've ever been a part of. Inhibitions be fucked at this show, I'll tell you. I don't remember the conversation we had at the bar with someone else waiting for a beer (it may have had to do with the beer's funny name, actually), but I just felt like this whole place was exceptionally friendly and devoid of the hipster pretension that usually rains on most shows (I sometimes contribute to that feeling, although unintentionally). People were jumping, singing along, yelling, having a fucking great time. I was too. I don't even give a shit that they didn't play "Cattle and the Creeping Things." Eventually they had to stop, which is unfortunate. I'm positive this article lacks any semblance of cohesion and is wrought in antediluvian stream-of-consciousness, and there's probably not a better way to end it than this. Article over.

Friday, May 18, 2007


I haven't been as productive as I'd like to have been these past few weeks, though I'm declaring that I will post something by the end of next week. I have some things on my mind I'd like to talk about, and where better than a blog no one will read (sidenote: "Creed Thoughts" on The Office last night was brilliant; let's hope this actually posts to the internet somewhere and isn't just saving to a file only I can access...!).

On tap (I'll let anyone who reads this [ie, the other contributors, if even them] decide what I'll write about):
1. review of Mando Diao/Crocodile Cafe/Seattle scene as I saw it from 5/5/07
2. my thoughts on the astoundingly bizarre The House on the Rock, which I visited last Saturday, 5/12/07
3. I'm seeing the Hold Steady tonight; They're big baseball fans so I'm sure I'll give them a positive review even if I hate it. Besides, I love witterate (witty + literate; call Webster's, I'm a genius) dumbass rock.
4. I'm seeing the Arcade Fire tomorrow night; who hasn't read a million reviews about Arcade Fire shows, though?
5. review of the Decemberists show from 4/20/07 (likewise with this one, it's been done but I think my experience should make this one somewhat more interesting than those of my countless predecessors).

I'm also going to try to use the word antediluvian effectively at least once. What a great word.