John Legend at Starlight

Never have I ever seen anything in a merchandise booth at a concert for $1, until John Legend with Gallant at Starlight. They had Gallant sad-face hats for $1, I guess just not wanting to carry them to the next venue. They sold out before the show began, but of course they did for $1, hell I never heard of Gallant until this and I bought three.

Anyhow the stage setup for Gallant was pretty bare for the quartet:

I got an old school R&B vibe from Gallant, and his dancing (perhaps “shockwaves” is a better way to describe it) from the snare drum shots reminded me of watching James Brown throw himself around. His band was good and his set was well done.

Gallant used the same screens as John Legend but in very simple layout:

It is kinda weird to watch a concert at 1930 and it be total daylight, but that’s the summer’ish months in Kansas for you. Kinda ruins the lighting effects but with a nice breeze Starlight even in total daylight is an awesome venue.

John Legend started off by using the, different is good word, hole created by the screen panels and then having him setting at his grand piano in the middle with some crazy visuals on the panels, an interesting effect:

John displayed his pianist skills by playing along to his powerful voice on several of his hits and also showing his dancing skills on others. His video panels were really sharp and with their ability to spin in different angles provided some a cool looking backdrops to the set:


He did bring a full band including a horn section and three backup singers (who were not only talented singers but nice to watch dance around):

Towards the end he hand some personal remarks about his family and throughout he seemed to emphasize that loving others is his thing. He made some remarks about telling the one you were with you love them and if you were on a date it would make for an interesting date. He closed with his piano coming towards the front of the stage and himself being projected onto this set panels:

John’s set was great, his voice was not what I would say as strong as it is on his albums (not saying bad just saying not as powerful and clear as his recordings) but his piano work was excellent and overall he was very entertaining.

Me and my Angie sitting in the sun waiting for the set:

 

Starset at Granada

I saw the tickets go up for sale for Starset at  Granada in Lawrence and the first thing that came to my mind is “How the hell do they make any money off that ticket price?”; seriously $16 a piece and the venue is 1700 capacity:I guess they plan on making money off their merchandise. Anyhow so Angie and I head off to check out Starset and some group I have never heard of “Razorwire Halo“.

Well I was wrong about the idea of these bands making money off their merchandise. What is with these bands going on tour and not having merchandise that shows the date of the show? I want to buy a shirt to wear to gain the envy of others that I was there and they were not. Sigh.

Here is the initial setup in the, ah, dive seems to be a good word for Grenada:

The screen in front of the stage threw me. Initially I thought it was a throw screen like I have seen at some punk shows but once Razorwire Halo took the stage it proved to be something that added distortion to the video they played throughout their entire 40 minute set:

You know when you have friends and they think they have a band that others want to hear so you go over and endure, ah, I mean listen to their collaborative noise? That’s pretty much what I thought about Razorwire Halo. Their efforts to feel “Rock ‘n Roll” seemed too forced to me, not natural. Perhaps they are like wine and will get better with time (read; more practice).

At any rate off with them and onto the set setup for Starset:

The middle box (I assumed, correctly, where the drum kit was setup) was interesting looking. I didn’t expect they would play videos against it from the inside of the box (videos projected from the inside against the walls of the box synchronized with the screens on each side of the box). Super cool effect:

Oh did I mention that most of the Starset band wears spacesuit type outfits? Sure it’s a bit odd the lead singer wore a bowtie the entire time and the others are in spacesuits but points for being different. Kinda a gimmick sure but its neat to watch them light up in sequence and to difference parts of the music:

Every so often the drummer box would turn off the lighting and the effect of the drummer be lite up would be seen through the box, making a neat effect:

Starset was great. Dustin Bates, the lead singer, was energetic and he did a good job keeping his vocals and (is shouting the right word?) “yells” in check. Not often you see a hard rock band keep a violinist and cellist on stage for the entire set but several times they added some excellent ambiance to the music. They mostly did stuff from their “Vessels” release, which is great by the way. Overall a definite repeat for me if Starset passes near by again.

Me and my Angie using the fancy selfie camera lighting to try to take a snapshot in the dark:

Soundgarden at Starlight

We picked up some cheap seats and headed out to Starlight to catch Soundgarden with opening act “The Dillinger Escape Plan“.

We got there right at gates opening and noticed not many in the seats, we thought “Humm, that’s odd to not see many arrive for the opening act”. Oh what things we would learn very soon.

The opening act streamed out; the tantrum fit throwing scream festival that was “The Dillinger Escape Plan”. They took the stage at 1930, still plenty daylight and started with their, ah, show. Pretty simple stage setup:

I was a confused. There where these guys, holding musical equipment, seemingly playing these instruments in timed motions, but making just a hell of a noise. Go into your kitchen turn on the nosiest appliance you have then randomly in the most rambunctious “4 year old” attitude you can muster scream at the blender for being on. Do this for 40 minutes or so and there you go, you probably have to pay a royalty to these guys for copyright infringement.

Soundgarden stage setup had some nifty light bars setup:

They took stage about 20:45 coming out strong and playing a mix of crowd favorites mixed with some (to me anyhow) older lesser tunes. I was impressed overall with Chris Cornell both in his voice and his guitar playing. I liked the story he told about visiting his grandpa in Kansas City who worked at the Rolls Royce airplane engine factory.

However good Cornell was, he was clearly second fiddle to Kim Thayll that dude can seriously play the guitar. I was more than once impressed with his shredding capabilities (below left):

Soundgarden ended with raucous “Slaves & Bulldozers” with each member playing off the stage with reverb in effect for their instrument. It was rock’n’roll at its finest.

We watched drunk people stagger down the Starlight aisles, chuckled at the people dancing way out of time (beer seems to make anyone think they dance better), and then watch the drunks urinate in the parking lot. Ah, good times, making memories…

Me and my Angie:

Gojira and Opeth at The Midland

I have a couple of Devin Townsend’s albums and saw he was opening for some band and Opeth (who I also have several albums of) at The Midland, so Angie and I picked up tickets.

The initial set was crowded, they had all three bands set on the stage each in front of the other. From what I could tell from my four-hundreds cheap seats it looked like the opening act (The Devin Townsend Project) only had about six feet of stage:

Here is a shot of Devin doing there thing with their cool backdrop:

After a couple of songs you were reminded that Devin Townsend is a strange fellow making some really odd comments. I think he was trying to be funny but most of it sounded like random thoughts strung together to fill awkward silence. At one point something was wrong with the gear and he literally rambled on saying “and we keep the audience busy to not see the technical problems” (paraphrasing) while crew members scampered about fixing this and that.

Then a set change for Gojira:

I do have “Magma” from these guys but I guess I didn’t remember this was going to be pretty hard set. Pretty simple stage setup but damn their lights where very VERY intense. Several points you just had to close your eyes to prevent some sort of seizure reaction.

 At any rate their music was hard, intense and frankly hard to follow with the volume being so loud it was just mottled loudness. Angie and I always wear earplugs but usually we can make out the music fine, here the double bass and the guitar, well, noise was so dominate all you really heard was a mix of aggression and screaming. Not that it was horrible we were just mostly confused to what was really going on.

That said the Gojira drummer was something to see:

The band clearly recognizes that this guy has some serious drum skills, he had several solos and at multiple points I think I caught myself saying “Damn!” out loud. Yeah, really impressive stuff.

Then the set change for Opeth (note the covered up Gojira stuff in the middle, they didn’t really clear the set just covered up the others, shared the majority of the light bars):

Their backdrop was their signature logo:

Angie and I were hoping Opeth would take a bit of a softer approach as we were kinda still recovering from the onslaught that was Gojira. Opeth didn’t disappoit as several of their songs had more melodic structure and showed off their technical chops.

Opeth took the stage and Mikael Åkerfeldt quickly established he is the man with his stage presence and his ability to both sing and growl:

Opeth played several songs from their “Sorceress” album, which has both beautiful and disgusting imagery on the cover:

For some reasons the tour managers for these groups must think their audience are wee folks, no tour shirts on any of the groups larger than a 1x – I mean seriously. If you guys make most of your tour receipts off of merchandising then bring shirts that fit real people. All together now a collective “GRRRR!”.

Anyhow overall it was an interesting event, I am not sure how I am going to convince Angie to go to the next new to her band that I sell with “oh, ah, they sound like Dream Theater, yeah just like that”.

Me and my Angie (I am wearing my Iron Maiden trooper shirt which to my surprise there were about 5 other Iron Maiden shirts seen at this event):

Garth Brooks at Sprint Center

I have been a fan of Garth since his first album.  Does it mean I am a big country music guy, pfft, far from that I usually really dislike country music but Garth has the talent, passion, and uniqueness for me that makes him stand far above the country music landscape.

His stage setup was a oval stage at the end of Sprint center with huge screens on each side (nice touch), here is a setup shot:

I found it interesting that Amazon was a clear sponsor being printed on his bags and several videos on a rotation before the show on the (I am going to guess) Amazon paid for screens:

The interesting part of his stage setup is his light bars that come out into the crowd. They turned off the house lights and these lightbars were used to light up the center – I suppose allowing the stage crew the ability to control the house lighting. During “The Thunder Rolls” these light bars had (what acted like) dozens of strobe effects that made Sprint center look like a super lightening storm – it was pretty epic.

This was the only concert at Sprint center I have seen that utilizes the lighting around the center, meaning the lighting was synchronized with the show – it was unique and added a neat subversive effect:

This tour was labeled “The Garth Brooks World Tour with Trisha Yearwood“. Sure Trisha came out sang a song with Garth then sang 4 others and back to Garth. Kinda a special guest contribution I thought, but then again she is married to the guy.  Shot of Tricia on stage:

Here is a shot with the drum set cage in the middle lite up, it also rotated and was built with the idea that Garth would climb all over it (as he did several times):

Garth is no doubt a showman. Couple his energy, passion for what he is doing and him genuinely having a good time you just cant help admire the guy and his ability to get 20k people singing 20 year old songs.

We had tickets in section 122, all seats were same price $65 and everyone was limited to 8. This I think is one of the reasons the man sold out 7 shows in a row this time around (13 when Sprint center opened!) This was a Saturday afternoon (15:00) concert, Angie and I think this is a first for us most of our concert outings are nighttime and we get home past midnight.

Really one of the best concerts for energy and passion I have seen in a long time, even if you’re not a fan of the country music scene if you like to see people doing their thing, and sharing it with you, Garth is one to catch.

Me and my Angie:

Rick Springfield and Pat Benatar & Neil Giraldo at Starlight

For the second time at Starlight Angie and I saw Rick Springfield followed by Pat Benatar & Neil Giraldo in concert. This opened up our 2017 concerts, we have like 10 planned (we might have a problem…)

Here is how the very minimal stage was setup:

This was taken about 15 minutes before showtime we noticed the unusually high amount of empty seats, we blamed this on both being May 5th at Starlight (at bit cool) and Garth Brooks having one of his seven 2017 shows at Sprint center on the same night.

Here is Rick on stage doing his thing, the two white blocks on each side were the projection screens which they did use for both sets:

Here is a closer view of the projection screens in use (Starlight up till now hasn’t used these much during concerts):

Pat and Neil played a pretty simple set, four in their band:

I thought she sounded great, her vocals on “We Belong” were impressive and clear. Neil on the other hand was, well, a bit off vocally I thought. There is no doubt the man can shred on his various guitars (including “Pain”):

Overall it was worth doing a second time, however I think if they all come back I might try to talk Angie into a dinner out or something.

Me and my Angie (she is wearing her 35th Benatar concert shirt, we didn’t see any others):

Dream Theater at The Midland

My entire family went to Dream Theater perform their double concept album “The Astonishing“. Besides the moron in the back shouting “Revolution!” every oh 8 minutes this concert was near flawless.

Not many concerts I have been to don’t want you (even hound you a bit) to not take any pictures. The highlight one on this post I had to sneak like a criminal. Kinda weird but  I guess it’s because they put so much into their stage design.

This is my second time to see Dream Theater Sam and I saw them at Starlight on their “A Dramatic Turn of Events” tour in July 2012.

The artistry of the musicians in Dream Theater is hard to beat, from their spot on sound to their inventive scores they really are something to take in if you enjoy music and watching musicians be musicians.

Me, Angie, Molly and Sam:

Ashley Graham Is No Angel

Today I was trolling around on Facebook, both wasting time and looking to see what mischief my internet “friends” are up to. I scroll past a Lane Bryant post that has a video of Ashley Graham doing her thing on a cat walk for some fashion show.  So being the Ashley Graham fan I am of course I clicked on it, you know for research.

So clearly this video separates us into three groups of people:

  1. Those more prudish than I who think this is pornography and I have some sort of questionable moral code by watching a lady prance around in essentially a commercial for underwear.
  2. Those, like myself, who watch this in a loop for an excessive number of times wondering why it has taken the internet so long to deliver things of wonder and beauty to us. What? 300 times is totally normal…
  3. People who think Ashley Graham is “fat”. Please unsubscribe me from your mailing list as I don’t wish to hear your clearly incorrect ramblings. No doubt she is a curvy girl, and she doesn’t give two craps what you think about her and her curves; both of these things make her awesome.

Again 343 times is totally normal…

Rob Thomas and Counting Crows at Starlight Theater

Headed out to Starlight Theater to see Rob Thomas open for Counting Crows on a really great cool night to visit Starlight.

The first act was K Philips & The Concho Pearls I had a hard time getting into them, the lead singer kept giving facts about his life that were super depressing. Father currently in rehab, his wife left him, etc. Rock it man, bring the passion and energy not bring down the vibe – geez.

Rob Thomas came on with a bolt of energy and kept it going belting out his and Matchbox 20 tunes, which my favorite was “Fire On The Mountain” well done sir, well done!

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Rob Thomas on stage
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Set change picture

A 30 minute set change and out comes Counting Crows,  I am excited been looking forward to seeing these guys for several years. I immediately notice the set seems a bit bare, but that maybe is just “artistic”.

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Counting Crows on stage

The lights behind these guys seem to be designed to block out any way to actually see, like blinding mechanisms to distract from the truly awful moans/rambling coming out of Adam Duritz. The band was great good energy and keeping up with Durtiz randomness was impressive to watch. I did like the jam like sessions where Duritz would invite up Rob Thomas and his band, K Philips and The Concho Pearls something like 20 people on stage – was neat to watch.

For the next 70 minutes or so Angie and I sit and wonder what the hell is going on. Duritz is sometimes scating, sometimes just rambling changing words to songs everyone else in the audience is singing. It was truly bizarre we couldn’t tell if he was being “too cool to sing these tired songs” or just inebriated in some way. At this point we are glad we got $20 tickets on Groupon.

Overall Rob Thomas wins this, hands down.

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Me and the misses

Steve Martin and Martin Short at The Midland

Angie and I went to see “An Evening You Will Forget for the Rest of our Life” a “concert” I guess of Steven Martin, Martin Short and Steep Canyon Rangers at the Midland theater.

Most of Steve Martin’s jokes were well thought out and took a minute to get. Martin Short danced around with his hand acting like his man parts. So really two different kind of things mushed together. Seemed weird to me but Steep Canyon Rangers were interesting to listen to.

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Midland Stage Setup

 

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Steve Martin, Martin Short, and the Steep Canyon Rangers on stage

 

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Me and the misses:

 

Ramblings of an often confused opinionated yak shaver.