Thursday, October 31, 2013

Not so new comic review: Guardians of the Galaxy (1990) #9

                Well, the Guardians finally found the lost colony of earthmen, and it is a desolate existence for them.  Apparently the Mutants that escaped with Magneto populated the planet, yet the mutant population dwindled with every generation (which is a smart way of playing it for Valentino, really showing that humans and mutants are the same aside from, basically, a birth defect) and there are now only a handful left.  Of course, the mutants are the ruling class as they hold the human population under their control.  The leader, Rancor, as we will learn this issue, is a descendant of Wolverine and got to her place of power by killing her own father to assume the mantle of leadership.  Maybe Martinex can learn a thing or two about being a leader as he keeps trying to give his position of power away. 

                Anyway, as many tyrants are wont to do, they abuse the populace under them, ruling by fear.  The mutants do this by flying around in their “police” cars and randomly targeting people for execution.  They apparently mess with the wrong human though as Giraud, a major player in the resistance fights back and doesn’t just lay down and die at their whim.  As he is escaping from them a bright light emerges from a doorway in an alley and, of course, he heads through it.  He doesn’t have much choice as the mutants are bearing down on him, but he has no idea what he’s walking into.  We know, because of the way Valentino differentiates Starhawk’s word balloons from everyone else’s, that it’s the one who knows within the bright light. 
                When Giraud steps into the light, he is teleported to the Guardians’ ship and proceeds to tell them the story of his world.  It all started when Magneto whisked the remaining mutants away from earth instead of let them stay and be destroyed.  They set up shop on Haven (the name of their current planet) and after a tussle with Apocalypse, Wolverine helped them set up the society that they currently “enjoy” today.  As each generation of mutant continued to rule, they got meaner and meaner which brought us to Rancor, the latest descendant of Wolverine that is more like Sabretooth, Wolverine’s sworn enemy, than the ole’ canucklehead himself. 

                After we learn about the oppression that the humans are living under (not so unsimilar to the oppression felt by mutants in the regular Marvel Universe) we see that first hand as the evil mutants attack the base of operations of the resistance, slaughtering them all. 

                The Guardians try and play the good guy, diplomatic route with the mutants as they split into two teams.  One team, comprised of Yondu, Aleta and Martinex tries to talk to Rancor and find a peaceful solution, while the rest go to confront and aid the resistance if the diplomatic route fails.  It doesn’t take long for the diplomatic route to fail as the guardians are attacked by Rancor and her lieutenants pretty much as soon as they arrive.  The Guardians are outnumbered and quickly lose (surprise, surprise).  The rest of the team (minus Starhawk who is off being mysterious) arrives at the base of the resistance only to see the bodies from the massacre we witnessed earlier.  Not only that, but then Rancor pops up on TV (as most villains usually do) to announce that she has the Guardians and the rest of the team should all be treated as fugitives from the law.  Not only that, but the Guardians that are already captured will be executed one per hour until the rest surrender.

                Will the Guardians get their friends back?  Will they wait four hours and be out of teammates? Will Giraud trim those flowing hair metal locks?  Tune in next time to find out.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


The moral of the story: If you're going to be a political slimeball, you might as well jump in with both feet.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

New Music Review: Govt Mule – Shout!

                The last few albums, Govt Mule has fallen into the trap of a really solid opening half that tends to fade away during the second half of the album.  They still remain one of the best live bands you will ever see and Warren Haynes is undoubtedly one of the best guitarists to ever play, so picking up the new album, Shout! was a no-brainer.  While this album was a little more even and not so top-heavy, it definitely adds to the recent tradition of good, not great albums from Warren Haynes and company.   

                The technical precision of the musicians is not lost on me at all in regards to this album.  The songs are very well done, in terms of both the lyrics and the music itself.  They seem to fit very nicely into the pantheon of good work that Govt Mule has put out over its history.  Whereas some bands can change throughout their tenure and that is effectively marked in their discography, Govt Mule is nothing but consistent.  I could craft a playlist of Govt Mule tracks dating back to their self-titled release from the early 90s and, aside from recording quality, you would probably not be able to tell which album or era the music came from.  Not only that, but Govt Mule carries that consistency over to their live shows with amazing regularity. 

                That being said, that consistency leads to some less than stellar results.  Sure, the album is good.  Aside from the reggae-infused Mighty High there isn’t an album in the Govt Mule catalog that is anything but good.  Maybe if I listen to it a bit more some real standouts will emerge, but at this point, an album like Deja Voodoo, not to mention the self titled debut are the standard bearers.  They are full of tracks that can be described as seminal Mule tracks.  I could see a few of these being worked into the live sets (in fact I first heard “No Reward” at the show in Rochester last summer) but it may be more of a shoe-horning process for the sake of promoting the album as opposed to a natural thing. 

                One of the big selling points for this disc is actually the second disc.  The second disc is basically the first disc repeated, just with different singers on the original songs.  Think of Slash’s self-titled album from a few years ago.  The thing here is that we get to listen to the tracks in their original iteration on disc one, then see what a different vocalist does with the same material.  Predictably, some of the songs are better and some are worse, but most toe the line of just as good as the originals.  I’ve always been a huge fan of Warren Haynes as a singer, thinking that his voice is expertly suited for the kind of music the band plays.  While I will not renege on that view, I will say that the different “flavors” that those other vocalists bring to the Govt Mule music is a welcome change.  The band doesn’t stray too far out of its comfort zone in terms of choosing vocalists, but they all add a little something that Haynes doesn’t. 

                In short, if you like Govt Mule, or the blues/jam band type of music in general, this is an album you want to have in your library.  The songs are not the best in the band’s catalog, but it’s new Mule music and honestly, that’s better than nothing.  The bonus disc is just icing on the cake.

Monday, October 28, 2013

My Kingdom for Some Disinfectant

With all the shit that Shrimpy's computer has been through, 
I bet Geek Squad has a field day when he brings it in for repairs.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Mixed Signals

Sometimes it's hard to see the small things with your pants down...unless the "small things" refers to something in your pants of course.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Not so new comic review: Guardians of the Galaxy (1990) #8

                After the insanity of last issue, both in terms of story structure and the presence of Malevolence, the psychic vampire/daughter of the devil/craziness, this issue is billed as what the Guardians do with their “down time”.  They are still en route to the lost colony of Earthmen that they learned about from Vision back in issue six.  It’s nice to see the interim, for Valentino to work in a character issue between all of the fights and the objectives that he has placed in front of the Guardians.  This shows that he is doing more to develop the characters and the team than simply just giving them “things to do” or making this an event comic.  That is what was always so great about the Claremont X-Men books.  In between the events (and often times during them), there was always some character-centric issues.

                We open on another Claremont-ian staple, the training sequence.  The Guardians have their own Danger Room type facility on their ship where they can hone their skills and tactics.  Judging by how badly they get their asses kicked in nearly every issue, they need to spend a lot more time here.  While everyone is training, except for Vance, he’s running the simulation because he now has the Captain America shield and obviously doesn’t need to train.  Yondu, while in the room with the rest of the Guardians, is not there mentally as he is still in full-on emo-mode.  Instead of making Yondu work though it and stop being a big baby, Vance suggests that everyone takes a break (hence the title of “Down Time” for this issue). 

                During that downtime, Martinex is going to use it to not be the leader of the Guardians anymore.  He first starts by asking Vance if he will assume the mantle of leadership (he won’t) and we will find that this is something that basically consumes Martinex for a long time.  After Martinex is rebuffed by Vance, we peek in on The Stark (yes, apparently Valentino is going to try and milk these villains for everything they’re worth).  We get to see Taserface getting his ass kicked as part of his punishment for losing to the Guardians over and over again, and find out that he is destined for greater things than just getting his ass kicked.  Once that fun is over, we switch back over to the Guardians and see Nikki taking a soak in a tub of water.  Of course, being a resident of Mercury and having skin that is hot to the touch creates strategically placed bubbles and steam so we can keep this comic well within the framework of the Comics Code (remember them, when they regulated stuff like language and gore, and basically anything you would find in a Mark Millar comic book).  She has a heart to heart with Charlie, who is still in love with her, even though she’s got the “hots” (get it) for Firelord.  The fact that she attends this conversation in the nude doesn’t help matters, I’m sure.

                After more soul-searching by Martinex and brief stop-off to see what Starhawk is up to, we find out that something is wrong with the ship.  It lurches to a halt, throwing everyone off balance.  Everyone goes to check out the disturbance (and we get Martinex trying to give up leadership to Charlie-27 as well) only to find that it’s Yondu trying to take command of the ship so he can find Photon, the last remaining female of his race, so that they can repopulate the universe.  The Guardians dispatch of their teammate very easily (apparently the only way the Guardians can win convincingly is if they fight one of their own) and send him to his room (I shit you not). 

                We then peek in on Vance, not wearing his containment suit because apparently Martinex built him a room that mimics his suit’s ability to ward off decomposition of his 2000 year old skin.  As he’s lounging around naked, Aleta comes in and says that she wants to be an item (of course she starts out by talking about Captain America, but all that does is ensure that Vance has a stiffy before she mentions those two hooking up).  Vance questions the fact that she is still married to Starhawk, but apparently in Aleta’s society, a woman can just call off a marriage at her whim so she’s free and clear.  Vance is still overly cautious and says that he “wants to take it slow”, which is usually code word for “I don’t want you but if it will prevent you from killing me with your light powers I’ll lead you on for a bit”.

                As a slight aside, we peek in on Malevolence bitching to her father about the kid she was bitching about last issue.  This is just more foreshadowing for something many issues down the road, so we won’t spend too much time on it here.

                Back to the Guardians’ ship, Yondu isn’t happy being on time out, so he uses his teleportation badge to escape to a mini ship that he plans on piloting away so he can find his “lady-love”.  Starhawk shows up to talk some sense into him and Yondu wants none of that, going from weepy emo to full-on rage attack.  Starhawk subdues him and basically gets him to chill out through the power of meditation and self reflection.  As the rest of the Guardians show up to help, we find that they have finally found the planet they were looking for, the one harboring the last colony of earthmen.  They send a hailing frequency to the planet, hoping for a warm welcome, but all they get is the wrath of an angry, super 90s, Wolverine–looking lady, who is apparently the ruler of this planet.

                Next, the “World of Mutants” storyline begins and we meet Rancor (that evil semi-Wolverine girl) and the rest of her mutants.  Will the Guardians be warmly received, but more importantly, will Rancor refer to everyone as “Bub”?  Tune in next time to find out.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Safe Passage Please

Raise your hand if you saw this coming...
All of you?  Really?
Well, far be it for me to disappoint. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

New Music Review: Pearl Jam – Lightning Bolt

                You could safely assume that seeing the band three days before hearing their new album would color my judgment to some degree.  You could also safely assume that if the album was terrible I would let you know, regardless of how great the concert that preceded it was.  Luckily, I can give you a glowing recommendation of Lightning Bolt without trying to sugarcoat anything.  It is really a terrific album, the best since the “Avocado Album” of 2006 (I know that only skips over 2009’s uneven effort Backspacer but it’s still been seven years). 

                This is not to say that the album is perfect.  It feels a lot like Vitalogy to me.  The majority of the album is incredible, but because of that, the low points stand out more.  The low points aren’t even that bad, hell they are still better than 90% of “rock” music being released today, but compared to the rest of the album they aren’t up to snuff, and feel like they would be more comfortable as B-Sides or bonus tracks released at a later date.  While we’re here, we’ll cover the low points and work our way up.  “My Father’s Son” just sounds disjointed and unpolished.  While the band has done a decent job of showcasing tracks like this in the past (“Dirty Frank” and “Bu$hleaguer” come to mind, though those two feel a bit more refined) it feels like this track was rushed.  To have it be the third track on the album is an odd choice as well, as you would expect it to be buried deeper in the album.  The only other song that isn’t up to par is “Sleeping by Myself” which is not a bad song by any means, but the fact that it appears on Eddie Vedder’s solo album Ukulele Songs and is then re-purposed as a Pearl Jam song on Lightning Bolt is a little disappointing.  Did the band not have enough songs to get twelve good ones without its inclusion?  Or was it that Eddie felt so strongly about this song that he wanted it released to the many fans of Pearl Jam that had not heard his solo version of it?  I would be more accepting of the latter, but still, another original up to the caliber of the rest of the album would have been preferred.

                On to the good, of which there is much to discuss.  Probably the best opening song on any Pearl Jam album since “Go” from Vs. is contained on this album in “Getaway”.  The band wears many, many hats on this record, from the poppy opener to the punk influenced first single “Mind Your Manners” to the complete other end of the spectrum.  “Sirens”, one of the best Pearl Jam ballads (right up there with “Just Breathe”) sucks all of the energy out of you…in a good way.  It’s the standout track for me on an album full of solid ones.  “Mind Your Manners” is great and gets better with every additional playthrough, and tracks such as “Lightning Bolt”, “Infallible” and “Pendulum” keep the momentum going.  The album does slow down considerably towards the end, ending with a whisper instead of a shout, which many people might mistake as frontloading the album with all the good stuff.  I disagree with that way of thinking, as there is a natural progression to the album, which is apparently the exact opposite of their current slate of live shows.  They hit you hard first and let you down easy (whereas on tour, they tend to ease themselves into the heavier stuff in each set).  There is nothing wrong with tracks such as “Yellow Moon” or “Future Days” (with the latter being a great closer in general), and I would gladly listen to them over and over again. 

                This is not the best album of Pearl Jam’s career, but when you start out as strong as they did, all you can really do is try and live up to those earlier successes.  With Lightning Bolt, Pearl Jam has gotten as close to replicating that as ever.  

Monday, October 21, 2013

Fight Like a Warrior

I’m not going to speak about the Washington Redskins or the Oneida Indian Nation (from New York State, not DC, mind you) and their desire to see the name changed.  I’m not a Redskins fan, nor do I know the history of the team enough to make an argument for or against the name.  And unlike other individuals who don’t have a horse in the race, I’d rather not comment about something that I’m not familiar with.

The insanity doesn’t end in Washington though, and this instance is something I can speak to with a bit more knowledge.  Weedsport high school has been known as the Warriors for much of its existence.  Now “warriors” could mean different things to different people.  Whether it is some Spartan soldier, or a member of the military, warrior can be applied to many different groups.  I was not there when the moniker of warrior was chosen, or when that moniker was applied to a logo depicting a Native American.  However, I can say with a decent amount of certainty that the discussion was a lot more:

“Hey, the Iroquois are a huge part of this area of the country, maybe we should incorporate that into who we are as the Weedsport School District”

as opposed to:

“Screw ’dem Injuns, let’s use their head as our logo so that people can laugh at them when we lose a football game.” 

“Let’s keep in the grand tradition of exploiting them by handing out small-pox infested blankets at homecoming, too!”

“That’s a great idea Cletus, let’s just make you mayor-for-life.”

Did that sound ridiculous?  Good.  Now look at the argument of people that want to change the name and you'll see much of the same.  First of all, anyone that has a child in Weedsport schools, or grew up in the area itself knows the great lengths that Weedsport goes to to incorporate Native American history and culture into the curriculum.  Hell, in fourth grade we turn the elementary school hallways into a living museum devoted to Native American culture.  Native Americans are not swept under the rug in that town, and they certainly aren’t being mocked by anyone associated with the school district. 

Secondly, unless you are a Native American, you don’t really get a voice in this, in my opinion.  The Warrior logo is bothering you white boy?  Suck it up and go back to your Starbucks.  People that take up the cause of someone else’s race or culture for no other reason than they think they should (because activism is cool, yo), should be forced to endure what that culture endured.  That means, Chet, you get to spend six months as a sex slave of a surly, entitled Spaniard who just “discovered” your home.  How does that sound?  That’s what I thought, go play on your iPhone and shut up.  

The reason I say that is that Weedsport is predominantly white.  When I say predominantly white I mean you could count the number of non-white kids in my graduating class on one hand.  I’m sure it’s more diverse now, and getting more so with each passing year, but my best guess is that the “concerned parent” is either some entitled white bitch that feels guilt as she sucks down her low-priced cigarettes and fills up her tank with cheap gas at the reservation, or it’s someone out of the district that felt empowered by the Washington Redskins bullshit and went through the list of schools and mascots in the area and realized that “Weedsport mocking and defacing the good name of the Native Americans must be stopped”.  

If it’s the first one, then please, move out of the district, preferably somewhere under a moving bus because your self-righteousness can’t be contained.  If it’s the second, spend time in the schools and community before you start making broad generalizations about the state of our school and intentions of our mascot.  Could it be that the people in the community and the students in the school are honoring the Native Americans that came before them in that area?  Could it be that the student-athletes are doing their best to not only make their school and families proud but to live up to the Warrior name?  I know I was proud to be a Warrior, still am.  If they change the name to the Weedsport Flying Ground-Squirrels I have a feeling that that sense of pride will be lessened.  I know that it will for me at least. 

The name warrior and the logo itself is neither hurting nor embarrassing Native Americans in general.  The logo is literally a bust of a Native American, nothing cartoony or exaggerated about it; nothing that could be misconstrued as racist or discriminatory in the least.  If that bothers anyone, it’s probably got more to do with their own issues than anything else.  How about, instead of trying to make broad sweeping changes for the sake of making said changes, you look inside yourself, ask what that logo and name means to you.  Does it mean pride?  Then you probably attended Weedsport, or at least know someone that did.  Does the logo engender only hate or feelings of negativity?  Why are you projecting your feelings towards Native Americans onto a logo and a school district?  Maybe it’s time to look at why you’re filled with such venom.  Why does that logo mean something so negative to you?  Maybe if the citizens of our great nation focused more on making themselves better people from the inside instead of changing everything around them we would have a country more focused on progress instead of handouts.  

However, if you absolutely must change your logo, Weedsport, might I suggest the following:

                You’re Welcome.

Midterm Elections

Remember that, every douche with a dream has a chance...oh, hey Ted Cruz!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Let the Rivalry Begin

I've been a Dallas Cowboys fan for over twenty years (two thirds of my life already - Christ, I'm old), so you would think that my allegiance would steer me away from certain people.  Well, that's apparently not the case, as my girlfriend just so happens to be a Philadelphia Eagles fan.  They are staunch rivals, always have been.  It's like the Red Sox and Yankees, Celtics and Lakers or Batman and Superman.

This is our first football season together and up until this point, we've been supporters of eachother's team (because it's so much more fun to watch the Redskins and Giants lose when you have someone else laughing at them right next to you).  This Sunday it all comes to a head.  Not only is it the first meeting between the Cowboys and Eagles, we come in with first place on the line as our matching 3-3 records add an extra wrinkle to an already meaningful game in our household.

We've spent the last week gently ribbing eachother about our respective teams, and in the spirit of gamesmanship, I present to you a bit more of that:

I know Andy Reid is no longer the coach, but I couldn't not post these.

Does anyone have a couch I can crash on for a few days (starting Sunday night)?

A Whole Pizza

Just one pizza isn't too bad...right?  
It's not like he ate a bucket of wings too (oh, who am I kidding, he probably did that as well).

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Not so new comic review: Guardians of the Galaxy (1990) # 7

                When last we left the Guardians, they had finally obtained the shield that they spent the past six issues (and probably longer) looking for.  To do this they had to defeat the awesomeness that is Force and also survive the crazy games that former Avenger turned computer homeworld the Vision put them all through.  It was like The Hunger Games, just without all of the predictable romantic subplots.  As eluded to at the end of the last issue, it’s now time for the Guardians to pick up the long term quest that followed them from their initial appearance in Marvel Comics continuity, that of finding the last survivors of planet earth.  They got a hit on the location of the colony last issue, and now they are in transit to that planet.  Being that this is set in outer-freaking-space that takes a little bit of time. 

                In the interim, not only are the Guardians stopping to check out a space ship that looks relatively abandoned save the faint presence of one life form on board, but Martinex (beaten senseless over the last few issues) is in the medibay being tended to by Starhawk.  This issue is separated very strangely, as two very distinct tales are being told (the one involving the Guardians and their search of the “abandoned” ship and the one that is basically Starhawk’s origin story.  This is kind of hard to follow at times though as just as the action gets going on the top panel, it slows right down on the bottom half of the page.  I understand what Valentino was trying to do, but it just wasn’t well executed here.  I’ll go through each story individually though to try and give each a fair shake, because by themselves, each story is very good.

                Our first story focuses on Nikki and Charlie-27 as they go to the abandoned ship to see if they can help the lone life form left on that vessel.  Of course, things go south when they find out that the only life form left on the craft is Malevolence, the psychic vampire.  She starts feasting on the Guardians and yells at them with her crazy creepy teeth.  Vance, Yondu and Aleta, until now just bystanders aboard their own ship, decide now might be a good time to join the fray and jump in to help out, until they start getting their asses kicked too.  Have I mentioned how bad the Guardians are as a super-team?  This whole time, Malevolence is screaming something about a child and how she won’t be stopped until she has it, etc.  This makes absolutely no sense to us now, but it is obviously setting something up for a few issues down the road.  The Guardians then bring her aboard their ship because, of course they do. 
                Meanwhile, this whole time, Starhawk is basically playing storytime with Martinex, telling him his origin while he attempts to heal him.  This involves the fact that Starhawk was adopted, he is a mutant (born to inhuman parents, being human is a mutation) and that after the Hawk God merged Starhawk and Aleta (his adopted sister) together, they married and had three children.  We also learn that Starhawk is the “one who knows” because he is basically living his life over and over again, like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, just on a grander scale.

                The stories then merge together as Starhawk confronts Malevolence and tells her that they don’t have the kid she seeks.  She believes him and curses him out, then teleports away in a burst of flame.  If she can teleport like that, what is she doing floating around in a spaceship?  Is that just so she can transport her buffet of people around?
                Everyone starts going after Starhawk because he starts his “one who knows” bullshit again, but before they cann start in on him, Martinex emerges from the medibay to jump to his defense.  They see that, thanks to Starhawks healing magic powers, Martinex is not only good as new, but he is actually improved in terms of his “skin” (I don’t know what it’s made of, diamond or something probably, but whatever it is it’s nice and shiny now).  The art on this page is ridiculous as, if you look at the doorway he is standing in, it’s an upshot, but his feet say that it’s a downshot, and his torso is too long/arms are too short.

                Will Martinex and Starhawk get matching BFF necklaces?  Will there be more crazy setup with not much actual payoff?  Will there be more creepy, incestuous relationships revealed in the next issue?  You’ll have to come back in a week to find out.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Oh, Sluggy

And there you have it, the conclusion to the "One Flew" storyline.  Hope you liked it.  I've got a couple smaller stories up next before we break out the next long arc, so stay tuned.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Worshipping at the Altar of Pearl Jam

                I have been going to concerts for a loooooong time.  We are talking a nearly twenty year obsession with live music, and yet I have never, in all my life, witnessed a concert that doubled as a religious experience.  That is the only thing that I can call seeing Pearl Jam in concert.  It was not a concert, or at least it was not just a concert.  While I have seen large crowds at concerts before, I have never seen this many fans that were all laser focused on the show at hand.  I would assume a lot of it has to do with the infrequent touring schedule of the band (they have not been to Buffalo in three years) but regardless, for two and a half hours, Pearl Jam captivated nearly a full stadium of 18,000-plus people with their performance.

                This was the second stop on Pearl Jam’s North American tour, and you could tell in some spots, especially with their new music (from Lightning Bolt - in stores today) as it wasn’t as crisp as you would expect seasoned veterans to perform.  There was even a point where they stopped the show (shortly into “My Father’s Son” because vocalist Eddie Vedder was not in synch with the rest of the band.  They restarted and had no more issues, but throughout the performance Eddie was having trouble with his ear-bud.  It didn’t affect his enthusiasm or his performance, but you could see him getting frustrated as the night wore on.  There were even instances throughout the night where he brought the band together and had a pow-wow on stage and it was strange to see.  From checking message boards and conversations about the concert Vedder was apparently changing the setlist around a little, at first to save his voice, and then for reasons unknown to me.  At times it looked like he was yelling at the other members of the band, but it was hard to determine from where I was sitting, and what looks like yelling to me could have been simply because he was trying to communicate over 18,000 rabid fans. 

                Even with everything not going exactly as planned for the band, they didn’t let that stop them from putting on one of the best concerts I have ever seen.  From new songs (of which they played nine of the twelve new songs from Lightning Bolt – an ambitious setlist considering the album had yet to be released), to the old staples that everyone came to see, they had the crowd enthralled.  Many people, like the know-it-all guy behind my girlfriend and I, had seen the band before and were already indoctrinated into the universal church of Pearl Jam.  We, on the other hand, had waited a good twenty years to see Eddie and the boys take the stage and were not disappointed.  Did we wish they had played more of their older stuff?  Sure.  But that’s the price you pay when the first three albums in a band’s catalog are three of the best albums of all time.  Every fan of the band has their favorite album or song, and the band did a great job of trying to accommodate those people by playing at least one song from nearly every album in their catalog (including a lot from No Code, much more than I anticipated).  This is the best thing about Pearl Jam.  Sure, they’ll play their staples, and on a tour like this they’ll probably play much of their new album, but they will vary the setlist from show to show, so even if you follow them from city to city, you will never hear the same concert twice.
                Grunge music kind of gets a bad rap for being all angsty with heavy, chunky guitars.  What many people don’t always see is the incredible guitar players that came out of that generation.  It’s often hard to believe compared to the hair metal generation that preceded it which spawned the likes of Eddie Van Halen, Randy Rhodes and Zakk Wylde, but grunge guitarists like Jerry Cantrell of Alice in Chains and Pearl Jam’s own Mike McCready can still pull off some amazing guitar work amongst the heavy grunge sound (and at this point, it would be hard to even classify Pearl Jam as Grunge, or really any label aside from "rock band").  Even though I know Pearl Jam's music and I’ve been a fan since I was young, I never really realized how exceptional of a guitar player Mike McCready really is.  Not just in a technical precision kind of way (which, believe me, he excels at) but in a pure energy kind of way.  McCready kept the concert moving at times when a lesser guitar player left to their own devices may falter.  He stood at the front of the stage and gave everything he had on every song, and showed just how adept he is at his chosen instrument.  This is not to take anything away from the rest of the band as this is one of the best bands in history.  They are all on the same page musically and they all approach shows the same way, to give it everything they have from start to finish and leave the audience satisfied.  

               There were a few reasons to not be too happy with the performance on Saturday night, from the new-music heavy setlist to the oddity that was the interaction between Eddie and the band, to the fact that the concert started an hour later than its posted time, yet, when all was said and done, and the band took the stage, my girlfriend and I were able to look at each other and see in each other’s eyes the joy of seeing one of our favorite bands after so long (not to mention when they turned to the back of the stage and played "Elderly Woman...", I've never seen her eyes light up that much).

                If you have even a passing interest in Pearl Jam, a “hey, I liked Ten back in the early nineties” kind of appreciation for the band, you owe it to yourself to go.  Don’t think twice about ticket prices (which, I know, is hard to do in this day and age) as this is the best show you will ever see, regardless of how much you had to pay for tickets, or parking (screw you $20 parking garage).  If you’ve never been, go, if you have, go again…I know I will. 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Nice Mustache

Whenever you need to hide, always don Groucho glasses or a sombrero, works every time.