Friday, December 26, 2008

top live shows of 2008

this year was nooo different in the bowles household...we spent loads of bills on traveling hither and tither seeing our favorite bands sweat it out on stage. although i'd love to say that EVERY band we saw was stellar, only the choice few make it to the hallowed halls of the roster of "top show".

so, without further babbling, here's the top 5 of the year:

#5 --> MGMT @ Bonnaroo 6/12 - Manchester, TN
the first night of bonnaroo is always a strange transition period between the recently left behind reality of your day-to-day social norms and the new completely detached amazing world where the music schedule and keeping track of how many mushroom caps you've eaten are the only things you need to worry about. well, mgmt played on this first night, and provided a grand segue to our long, long amazing weekend.

we had just come off the stage where superdrag had muddled through some of their past, and unfortunately new, catalog. i had waited to see these knoxville rockers for a decade and a half...and unfortunately after their set wished i had gotten off my ass and seen them in '97-ish...oh well. when mgmt hit the stage, a strange aura hit the crowd just as the night fell. between their psychedelic jams, and their dance-your-ass-off beats, the sweaty crowd made this show amazing. it almost (ALMOST) met the vibe of the flaming lips set from '07 - and that's saying a lot.

i WISH i could express the ecstasy i felt during "Electric Feel". listen to the song at full volume, and you'll be 10% there.

#4 --> The Magnetic Fields @ Meymandi Concert Hall 10/18 - Raleigh, NC

this show was allison's birthday gift to me...and what better way to say "let's go drink in chapel hill, eat awesome food, and see great music in a concert hall", i mean, happy birthday. plus, i got to spend 2 hours in CD Alley - the best record store in the mid-atlantic, hands down!

the show was amazing, as expected...i mean, it's the mag fields - what the hell would you expect. stephen was annoyed, claudia was chatty and over the top, and the crowd was silent...fairly typcial, eh?

the band carried the show heavily from their newest album Distortion, but also played a smattering from their past catalog, which was obviously 69 Love Songs heavy.

every song was spot on...these are professionals, so nothing short of perfection would be tolerated on mr. merritt's stage. so professional, in fact, that they continued playing "Take Ecstasy With Me" even through a power outage. awesome.

#3 --> !!! @ Bonnaroo 6/13 - Manchester, TN
so, day 2 of bonnaroo was hot as balls. eric, dave, and i were watching minus the bear through a surprisingly good set ONLY to work our way to the front for the next band set - 60 minutes of !!! (or chk chk chk, or gooch gooch gooch...whatever you prefer to call them). these guys took their sweet time in taking the stage, which was irritating - but once nic offer took the mic, it was time for serious dance party.

as required, he came out in his officer dangle nutters, and "shook it" in a way that would get him arrested if done within 600 feet of a public school. quite simply, these guys came out and threw out the BEST dance rock show i'd ever seen. i still debate the turning point of the show...when i got to beat nic's cowbell, or when shannon funchess stuck the microphone between her asscrack. ridiculous.

#2 --> radiohead @ nissan pavilion 5/11 - bristow, va
in short, i was privileged to be at this show. radiohead told us the day, let me stress, ONLY THE DAY, the tickets were to go on sale for this show. so, naturally, i was awake at 4AM that morning, and hitting refresh on the w.a.s.t.e website until i got in around 9AM'ish. i got tickets. I GOT TICKETS!!!! none of my other buds got tickets that day. the rest of them had to wait until the crappy lawn seats went on sale to the public.

so, the day of the concert...wait --- rewind one day )-)-) i got married the day before this concert. what better way to start a marriage then to see one of your (and your brides) all-time favorite bands? can't think of anything better.

anyway, back to the day of the show. it was a production, to say the least. in summary:
  • we left richmond at 3PM for a 9PM show...seems reasonable, right?
  • record rain intensity once we get on I-95
  • 35 mph
  • a dude in the right lane changes lanes INTO us, hitting my car...then proceeds to lie to the state trooper blaming it on me. i'm out $900. new jersey drivers...don't get me started.
  • once in manassas, the main route to nissan pavilion is flooded and closed.
  • after numerous detours, and a parking lot nightmare, we shut off the engine at 9:30PM in the parking lot almost a mile away from our seat. We miss "All I Need", "Jigsaw Falling Into Place", "Lucky", and 50% of "Nude".

nevertheless, this kid shouldn't complain. a heap of my friends missed the show ALL TOGETHER when the cops decided to close the roads leading to the pavilion after they'd sat in traffic for well over 4 hours. their consolation prize? a free lawn seat ticket to an upcoming show in new jersey. new jersey...bah!

regardless of all this nonsense, it was the 2nd best show i've ever seen. ever. so yeah, 2008 was great.

the music was spot on, the sound amazing, and the stage show mesmerizing. thom contorted and seizured on the stage like i had dreamed, and johnny greenwood turned his ax extra-terrestrial like i've heard on the albums many many times over. the sing-alongs in the crowd reminded me that world peace is in fact attainable.

#1 --> nick cave & the bad seeds @ 9:30 club 10/5 - washington, dc
this is the show i've been pining over for years. nick cave and his bad seeds finally return to the u.s., play a small club, and i get to go...a mans dreams can come true.

allison, clint and I arrived to the venue WAY early so we could get to the front of the house as soon as the doors opened. since we're somewhat unfamiliar with vegan restaurants open on sundays in DC (yikes!), we fortunately found an african joint nearby that had some leftover tofu scramble and pancakes. so yeah, there we were on a hot day, outside of 930 club, eating cold/old breakfast foods waiting to see the Cave - a favorite memory.

anyhoo, we get inside, and immediately run to the front, and proceed to wait for a couple of hours. the opening band belmer dolls were, we'll skip that. lets just say, if you know you're getting a new car for christmas, it's hard to get excited about the pair of socks you just opened.

when the lights went down, i ran to the press section to snap a few shots...which was pretty surreal. here was the man i've been waiting to see for YEARS, and he's kicking and jumping right over my head! some of the shots i took are posted here.

after my one song/no flash photo limit (yeah, for real), i moved to the right of the house and watched the remainder of the show. jawdropping. the man has 10x more charisma than morrissey, without any of his nonsense. nick and his bad seeds blasted through 2 hours of rock and roll, moving steadily through his albums as far back as '84, and concentrating pretty heavily on his newest album Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! (which is great, by the way).

the biggest surprise i took away from this show: nick cave is a normal dude. considering his bigger than life persona, looks that could kill, and his evil, evil swagger, he was a normal freakin' dude! friendly to everyone in the crowd, bantering back and forth with everyone, and even making fun of an obnoxious kiwi out in the crowd (well, he let him play the tambourine during one song, so they made up).

in short, what made this show the best of the year...and the best of my that it delivered. so many things in life are built up in my mind, and when they finally come to fruition aren't quite what i had always dreamed. well, this was better than i ever anticipated. simple. my only hope is that i can witness this musician in action again.

some other great shows of note from 2008!
ween @ toads place
the mountain goats @ black cat
ben folds @ the national
the new pornographers w/ okkervil river @ toads place
old crow medicine show @ the national
girl talk @ toads place
circa survive @ the national
gwar @ the national
justin townes earle @ ashland coffee & tea
bonnaroo @ manchester, tn
mgmt @ the national
bon iver @ black cat
bruce springsteen @ richmond coliseum
mogwai @ the national
tony rice @ the science museum of virginia
broken social scene @ toads place
of montreal @ the national
the toadies @ canal club

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

top albums of 2008

so, it's time for my annual roster of my top albums of 2008. i promise to be brief this time, so let's get right to it, shall we...

#10 --> No Age - Nouns

can't say too much about this album other than it rocked. this band (as well as other greats like Abe Vigoda) are giving california hope for providing great bands again.

#9 --> Lil Wayne - Tha Carter III

the album art alone put this in my top 10 for the year.

#8 --> Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!!

i'll be honest, i'll probably stick this guy in my top 10 for every album he releases. mr. cave took a break on this album from ranting about the damnation of the old testament god, as well as the benevolence of the new testament god in order to talk about some of the more lighter sides of the good ol book.

i had the opportunity to shoot some photos for pitchfork at his show at the 9:30 club earlier this year...the tour was as stellar as the album. plus, my 13 year wait to see him in the flesh was finally over.

#7 --> The Walkmen - You & Me

their first album was good, not great...and mostly hard to listen to. their following two albums pretty much followed suit.

however, surprisingly, even after every suburbanite 15 year old girl started liking them after being featured on the abomination of a television show "the o.c.", the boys turned around and made a beautiful NY album, all w/o one single! in my heart, these guys are a success story for how any band can still turn it all around (take heed shins, death cab, etc.).

also, these guys made "prep school rocker" chic popular before any of the members of vampire weekend had attended their high school junior prom. so there.

#6 --> Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes

what is it with all these pacific northwest boys making appalachian folk rock uber-marketable?

regardless, this is a great album, and sure to be a suitable stand-in for the mediocre my morning jacket album that was released this year.

#5 --> The Dodos - Visiter

just a damn good album.

#4 --> Spiritualized - Songs in A&E

to be honest, i was just happy to have jason pierce alive after all the ordeal he's been through.

however, on the consumer side, the album is spectacular. in scope, it's a definite departure from his previous albums. the production is scarce on some songs, while epic on others. in essence, the album is almost as bipolar as the man who wrote it.

#3 --> MGMT - Oracular Spectacular

this isn't a great album. it's not classic. what it IS? my andrew w.k. of 2008.

wherever i am in life, this album will bring me back throughout the entire year: bonnaroo, countless parties, and many other unmentionables.

#2 --> Radiohead - In Rainbows

i can already hear it...yes, controversial pick. is this a 2007 release, or a 2008 release?

does a digital release count as a release? no. the release date is the day evan can purchase the album on vinyl in the united states. the definitive answer. have bush write it into law before he leaves.

as far as the album itself? i don't need to write anything. it's radiohead. it's good. allison and i saw them the day after our wedding...if they're good enough to travel through 6 hours of DC traffic AND get in an accident the day after your wedding - then their album doesn't need further press in my book.

#1 --> Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago

this is the best album of the year. go buy it and you'll know why.

Other great albums of note from 2008:
TV On The Radio - Dear Science
Cut Copy - In Ghost Colors
The Magnetic Fields - Distortion
Sigur Ros - Med Sud I Eyrum Vid Spilum Endalaust
Department of Eagles - In Ear Park
Blitzen Trapper - Furr

Here's a list of my top albums from 2007 too!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

cous cous, hummus, and self-important assholes

i WAS going to rant about the batch of old money, west cary d-bags that took over cous cous this evening. extremely rude bunch of folks that were oblivious to sticking their ass in our face for the duration of dinner, using our dinner table as a place to stick their drinks while talking to other people, and people leaning over our freakin' table to get drinks from ANOTHER FREAKIN' TABLE!!!!!!

i love cous cous. love it. wonderful owners, wonderful wait staff, wonderful atmosphere. however - loaded patrons...if you know you're going to take over a restaurant with a bunch of tweed, north face vest, glitter scarf wearing u of r the place out for your event - you have the money, use it.

when our waitress came over to check on us, and i stated that it was the most awkward dinner ever, she packaged the rest of our food to go. awesome - that's why the staff there is second to none.


Sunday, November 23, 2008

guns n' pepper - follow up...

i've tried to cash in on the free dr. pepper here and there for most of the morning - to no avail. their server is overloaded with backhanded freeloaders like myself trying to, well, i don't know what the hell we're trying to do. drop a note if you have any success.

i just stumbled upon this interview with axl rose regarding his thoughts on all this soda nonsense. in his typical m.o., he has nothing pleasant to say:

Friday, November 21, 2008

YOU'RE GONNA DIE!!!, er, diet dr. pepper

back in march, i was thrilled to find out that dr. pepper had offered everyone in the US a free beverage if guns n' roses actually released their much mythologized album "chinese democracy". a ridiculous offer for a ridiculous situation. yes. i love america.

anyway, it appears that the braided assclown that is axl rose will at long last bestow this much heralded album this weekend - ergo, america gets their free candy water. i had imagined circus clowns at every street corner handing out glass bottles of dr. pepper out of some strange abomination of a ice cream truck...but it looks like another anti-climatic situation - you can print out a coupon from the dr. pepper website on sunday.

with today's economy, i'll take what i can get.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

on the road to blue mountain

after some slight delay, we made our way up to blue mountain brewery this afternoon.

90 minute commute, 15 degree temperature drop...oh and 90 minutes of dave's rambling and listening to the back story of my brothers current hangover - boom we're there!

we grabbed some couch space on the back end of the tasting room (wouldn't recommend this...we thought it'd be pole position since it was right next to the powder room...turns out we got to spell hints of doody vapors for the duration of our stay - no worries though!). moving on...we ordered the sampler - enjoyed their flagship full nelson pale ale, as well as their lager, kolsch 151, lights out, and nitro porter. all quality - but still hooked on the pale ale! ridiculous hops in that mothertrucker, and the aroma is really sweet.

we didn't eat any entrees, but gnawed on their pretzels, as well as some chips + guac. everything there is reasonably priced - $5 for the entire beer sampler, $4 for a pint! we walked out of the joint with a case of the full nelson ($30), a t-shirt ($15), and a pint glass ($5).

i'd definitely recommend a trip up there - especially since they distribute thinly throughout the richmond area (only cap ale, commercial taphouse, and retail at river city far as i know). really nice folks, beautiful scenery, and a crazy brewery cat in the parking lot.

oh, and the girls had us stop by pollak vineyards on the way home. the wines were quality, and the tasting room + production facility was splendid (only 6 months old!)...but wine just ain't my bag. heathen beers all the way!

hello? is this thing on?

so, a blog.

i finally joined the ranks of the people who think OTHER people care enough to follow the nonsense they get into day after day. apparently this really happens. i'm fairly certain all this is merely a crack-like addiction - i mean, i think keeping up with the frequency of your friends bowel movements makes you a good friend, right? yeah, lets go with that. we're all lower echelon paparazzi for one another.

anyway, here it goes.