A Family that Rushes Together Stays Together (Time Stand Still)

In 1987, this one idiot named Rick on my school bus mentioned that he was excited for a new album by some band who would be using electronic drums for the first time. I wasn’t the least bit interested.


I was also a young, dumb idiot.


That band was Rush, and they were on the cusp of releasing “Hold Your Fire,” their quintessential 80s offering. A perfect blend of guitar, bass, drums, and synth, this album was ironically destined to become one of my top 5 albums of all time.


I didn’t really join the Rush scene until 1989, with the release of “Presto.” I forgot to send the “Selection of the Month” card back to Columbia, so I ended up with the cassette tape. Gave it a once-through, and set it aside until college, where I met James. James had *everything* Rush had done at that point, plus some bootleg concert tapes. He let me borrow them, and I was *hooked*. After my first year, I came home and hit the local exchange store and bought everything I could find.


Tonight, my family will join me at the Maverik Center in Salt Lake City, where we will witness what could possibly be the last large-scale tour Rush ever performs. My 5th show, my wife’s and older daughter’s 2nd shows, and my younger daughter’s first ever show. I have been waiting for this for longer than I can remember, and tonight, it actually happens. We will inculcate my daughters into the fine ritual of carbing and proteining up before the show (read: dinner beforehand). We will show them how to properly rock out to some of the world’s greatest musicians. Afterward, we will take them out to eat again to re-carb and re-protein (yes, those are now verbs). Or at least get some water.


I’m excited. My kids are excited (at least I think they are). My wife is … well, she’s trying (right, honey?). God bless her and her patience with my rabid fan-dom. This is going to be one of those moments that I’m going to want to freeze and remember forever. My kids aren’t getting any younger. They’re getting older, coming into their own with likes, music, and shows. Goodness gracious, they’ve actually discovered *boys* (though that was years ago …).

Open Letter to Marissa Nadler

To the immeasurably talented Marissa Nadler,

I cannot thank you enough for your incredible music. My desk job is infinitely more welcoming, knowing that I have your music to keep me company. Yes, I like other music–other genres. Huge fan of Tool, old Metallica, SOAD, Rush, love Suzanne Vega, Alela Diane, Brahms, Vivaldi … kind of a broad spectrum. And to be sure, they all have their place in my queue, but there is something *ridiculously* soothing and stirring about your music that I can’t quite qualify or quantify. Also, that last sentence may just win The Most Words Using the Initial “Qu” Sound. Yay me. I guess.

I know you’ve played here before, I think most recently with Alela Diane, at Kilby Court, towards the end of November 2009. That was 2 years ago. Now … I know the world is a *gargantuan* place, and there are a million places you haven’t even played yet, so it is entirely possible that this request will fall by the wayside while you explore the as-yet-to-be-played locales … but it can’t go unasked.

When you can, will you please come back to Utah? I’m sure we can find you a great venue! There’s no shortage of awesome places to play: The Depot, Kilby Court, The Urban Lounge, In the Venue … there are tons of amazing stages here!

Please consider it. I know your schedule is uber-busy, which is certainly understandable. Please … just don’t forget about our lonely little state. ๐Ÿ™‚

Thanks Marissa.

Concert Review: They Might Be Giants at The Depot in SLC

I will be the first to tell you that I *hated* They Might be Giants for many, many years. Yea–decades. I blame my idiot college roommate my freshman year Flood had just come out, and he played it incessantly. He had one other CD–NIN’s Pretty Hate Machine. That got precisely 3 spins the entire year. Needless to say, I got sick of TMBG right fast.

Not to mention I came from the background of *guitar rock*, not accordion rock. In fact, my musical background forbade the concept of such. It was a completely oxymoronic term. No good band could possibly incorporate such a niche instrument and pull it off. So pretty much the entire CD was full of crap, in my book.

Then there was the lyrical content. “I returned a bag of groceries accidentally taken off the shelf before the expiration date …” I mean … come on. Really? It made no sense to me. At all. I couldn’t wrap my head around this band, so the only logical thing to do was to dismiss them. Right?

Right …?

Class, the answer is “WRONG.” No, I should not have. I always considered myself a broad appreciator of music. I thought my tastes were diverse and well-ranged. I like Tool and Yanni. The pendulum doesn’t swing much more widely than that.

Over the years, I’ve had my TMBG hate-wall nicked a few times. Such as the year I noticed that “Malcolm in the Middle”‘s theme song sounded oddly familiar. After a quick Google search, I learned that, indeed, it was The Johns that brought to pass that quirky little ditty. Then after my two girls got to the age where they could sit through “The Mickey Mouse Club House,” again there was an air of familiarity with the music and vocals. Not only did I find out that TMBG had been busily occupied providing the theme song and additional music to that show, but I also learned that they had a whole series of kids’ music. “Okay … how bad can these two be? Musically, I might not appreciate everything they do, but I can at least give props to the magnanimity behind the music.

Last Wednesday, I had to do some work at a remote location with some other people from my office. Not driving, I used the opportunity to catch up on email, Facebook, and see what concerts were on the horizon. To my surprise, TMBG were scheduled to play at The Depot (one of my favorite venues in SLC). I quickly ordered 2 tickets, then texted my wife and told her we were going to go on a “surprise date.” She loves those. Generally, they consist of every idea we have devolving into a couple hours of geocaching. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but when plans go awry, it’s nice to have a better back-up plan than an old stand-by.

Somehow, she found out about the show and called me to tell me what she thought the mystery date was. I was slightly disappointed, but at the same time I was relieved cuz I *hate* trying to keep things secret. I suck at it, for one thing. For another, the mounting pressure to keep my yapper zipped is exponentially harder the closer we get to “game time.”

We dropped our kids off at our friends’ house, and we drove to SLC. We got to the area, parked, and grabbed a quick bite to eat at Panda Express. The walk from Panda to The Depot is short; they’re in the same complex, so it made it nice and easy. That’s another reason I love that venue so much; the food options are astounding. One of these days, I *have* to take her to Ze Tejas. She’d love that. But I digress.

As I’ve mentioned in other posts, The Depot is patterned after the House of Blues. There’s a nice bar with assorted snacks and adult drinks, which sits a few steps above the main floor. On the perimeter of the floor are bar tables and stools that sit well above the floor level. There’s a balcony that surrounds the perimeter as well. There isn’t a bad spot in the house from any vantage point. Well, unless you’re sitting on the steps that lead to the balcony, in which case yah–you’ll have a pretty obstructed view. Other than that though, no–not a bad seat anywhere.

The sound at The Depot is unparalleled. It has just the right acoustics to pick up every little nuance of sound. High hats sound like high hats; the bass is clear and distinct. This isn’t like the Energy Solutions Arena (or, for the locals, “The venue formerly known as ‘The Delta Center'”). This sound is pristine.

Jonathan Coulton opened the show. His set was short, but it packed a great, light punch … if there is such a thing. He was gracious and funny. It was just him and his guitar, since his band was occupied elsewhere. I dunno … I like acoustic sets. His was just phenomenal. My favorite was “Je Suis Rick Springfield.” It’s sung mostly in French, with the exception of a few key words that keep it pretty obvious where the tune is intended to go. If you do know French, it’s pretty funny.

TMBG opened with “Celebration.” Well, okay … I’m jumping the gun a bit. They opened with John Flansburgh introducing the band, who currently consists of Dan Miller on guitar, Danny Weinkauf on bass,, and Marty Beller on drums. THEN they jumped into “Celebration,” after which they played “Why Does the Sun Shine?” Ironic to the entire first 9/10ths of this post, that’s always been one of my favorites of theirs. I even threw my wife for a loop when I switched out the first two words of the song for, “Your mom.” If you’re familiar with the song and if you’re drinking or eating anything, you may want to take some time to wipe off your monitor and/or keyboard now.

Or maybe you’ve already done so. I do not know.

Anyway, the set was pretty great. 2+ hours long, I recorded the whole thing and posted a few vids to YouTube. “We Live in a Dump,” “Dead,” even the Avatars made a guest appearance.

Here’s a vid from the show. It’s my wife’s favorite. Or close to it, anyway.

I had a similar experience with U2, where I was kind of luke warm to the band, but afterwards, I was just so blown away that I was instantly converted. I would say that this is more than true here because of the level of disdain and for the length of time I spent just not liking them at all. For all their intelligence, wit and whimsy, it’s almost impossible *not* to like them.

Concert Review: Death Cab for Cutie with Frightened Rabbit

I know, I know … I’m late. I’m just glad to be writing again. Blugh to the last few weeks, I say. BLUGH!

Having said that, yah. Those guys know how to put on an incredible show. I had heard that they outperform themselves from CD to stage, but man … I wasn’t expecting that. Just to keep the element of surprise as high as possible, I refused to check out any of their concert vids on YouTube. I’m glad I did. I’m also glad I made my own.

Frightened Rabbit is one of the best opening bands I’ve seen in a long, long time. They were almost as good as Death Cab. Not being as familiar with them as I would like, I can’t tell you all the songs they performed, but I know this: every one that they played was amazing. Scott Hutchinson was, in a word, intense. At one point, Gordon Hutchinson–drummer and brother to Scott, screwed up. It was pretty funny. I have vids to post of their set as well, just haven’t done it yet. Anyway, their set was awesome and too short. I’ll figure out the names and post them tonight, probably.

As for Death Cab, well … let’s just say that we’ll see them again. And again. And again … and again. If they play here, we’re going. It was that good. Being way stage right was not at all a let-down, although it made it difficult to get the whole band in the frame at any given time unless Chris wandered over toward the middle, which he did quite a bit, so that was nice. They opened with one of my favorite jams of all time, “I Will Possess Your Heart.” The radio edit does absolutely nothing to justify the CD or live performance. Nick’s simple but rythmic bass line is trance-inducing. Mix that with the piano, guitars and drums, and the result is the perfect mood-setter for what would be an atmospheric evening.

Ben’s voice is as pure in concert as it is on studio recordings. Chris’s is the same. These guys were spot on the whole night. What floors me is just how humble they are. After “Heart,” Ben addressed the crowd, introducing them as “Death Cab for Cutie from Seattle Washington.” Like we didn’t know, right? But how unassuming is that?! “Hi, we’re Death Cab … we’re pretty damn big ya know, but hey–maybe there are some people out there who haven’t heard of us. So, yah–we’re from the Seattle area. Thanks for coming to the show!” That just blew my mind. I mean, you don’t see many bands of their stature saying stuff like that. It’s just … cool. I love a good, humble, grateful band. Especially one that puts as much effort into their music as they do. And they put A LOT into everything. I thought I’d find myself just watching Chris and Ben all night. Ha. I found myself watching Nick and Jason just as much. How could I *not*?! It was a trip down mesmerizing lane, and the road was twisty, bendy, and hilly. LOVED it.

The set list was one of the most diverse I’ve ever seen. They played songs from every CD, including some EPs. Here’s the entire list.

  • I will Possess Your Heart
  • Crooked Teeth
  • Why You’d Want To Live Here
  • Photobooth
  • Doors Unlocked and Open
  • Long Division
  • Grapevine Fires
  • Codes and Keys
  • Summer Skin
  • I Will Follow You into the Dark
  • 405
  • You Are a Tourist
  • A Movie Script Ending
  • Underneath the Sycamore
  • Soul Meets Body
  • Title and Registration
  • Cath
  • We Looked Like Giants
  • Sound of Settling
  • Title Track
  • Pictures in an Exhibition
  • Stay Young Go Dancing
  • Transatlanticism

One of my favorite songs is “We Looked Like Giants.” Here it is:

See what I mean?! They’re amazing live!! I mean, their studio material is amazing too, but their live performances … WOW.

If they come to your part of the world, catch ’em. You will NOT be disappointed.

Kickstarter Project: Emme Packer

I love the fact that Emme Packer makes awesome music. I also love the fact that she’s local to Salt Lake. I love more the fact that she’s a local artist whose kickstarter project is now 100% funded …

for the first tier.

Ladies and gentlemen, now is the time to rise up and help support an amazing artist. She has raised the inital $1500 she was hoping for, and now she has set her sights even higher: she wants to record a new CD.

She plays beautiful music, her voice is angelic and about as soft as the hundreds of kittens that hopefully adorn her recording studio (you Kickstarter supporters know what I mean), and I’m stoked to be supporting her project. My only regret is that I don’t have more to offer right now. The point is, if I did, I would. I’d go for that $300 in-house concert. How cool would that be?

Speaking of, she has some awesome pledge rewards going on. There are digital downloads, older CDs, DVDs, concert CDs, guitars, in-house concerts, hand-drawn art, t-shirts, guitars … there’s a TON of cool stuff! I’m opting for the 4 signed CDs. I like my hardware signed … what can I say? BUT, like I said, if I had the extra $270, I’d pony up for the in-house concert in a second.

There’s a preview video on her Kickstarter page. Check out her song, and realize that she has 4 CDs of equal bliss. She wants to make a 5th, and I for one am ALL for that.

Help make her dream a reality! She’s worth the investment.


Conversation with Samantha Crain

A couple ofย  months ago, I found out that Samantha Crain would be coming to Salt Lake. I immediately sent her a tweet requesting an interview. At the time, I knew she was in Michigan on tour, so I didn’t expect a response for a few days. Imagine my surprise when she replied within a few minutes. “Sure!” So casual, so exuberant. So … Samantha Crain.

Over the course of the next several weeks, we exchanged tweets and emails, setting up date and time for the convo. We finally settled on meeting a couple of hours before her show at The Urban Lounge. We met out front and went in to the venue, where we took seats in “the green room” (i.e. the artists’ waiting room). She sat comfortably in the chair kitty corner to the couch I sat on, and looked just as at home as if she had been ready to curl up with a good book, or a movie and a big bowl of popcorn. But no … she was there to chat with me. And

Here’s the conversation I had with Samantha Crain and her band.


F: This is not your first time to Salt Lake.

SC: No, we played here with Langhorne Slim about 2 years ago when we were on tour with him, and then I played here earlier that year as well at Kilby with Thao and the Get Down Stay Down when we were on tour with them, and I think other than those two times … other than the first time we came here, which was a big, like 2 people came. That was a weird show. (turning to Will Sartain), Will, we came here here like 4 years ago before we ever played at any of your venues. It was this big, weird, completely butt-rock type venue, and like 2 people came to our show. It was kind of in the middle of nowhere. maybe by some warehouses or something? Palladium? Yah … that was where we played our first time in Salt Lake City.

F: That’s weird. I’m sorry.

SC: That’s okay. It was funny. I have that story.

F: So what do you think about Salt Lake?

SC: I like it. I went and sang karaoke last night in Salt Lake.

F: Where?!

SC: Cheers.

F: Nice! That’s so funny!

SC: We all went and sang karaoke.

F: I hope everybody applauded …

SC: It was funny. We did a Destiny’s Child song.

F: Nice. How did it go over?

SC: Good. I guess … I dunno, it was crowded. It was karaoke, man.

F: So this is your band (sitting on the other couch). I read your bio on a site, and it said that you had met some guys when you were doing something back east? Pennsylvania? It was the Midnight Shivers.

SC: That was my band about 2 years ago, whenever Songs in the Night came out. Jacob, the drummer for that, plays drums for the Avett Brothers now. My old bass player is not really playing, and my old guitarist has own solo thing going on. I’ve had different forms of bands for the past two years. This is the current incarnation.

F: And who are these lovely ladies?

SC: Penny Hill. We’re friends from back in Oklahoma. She plays bass. And then Anne Lillis. She’s from Akron.

F: (Turning to Anne) I lived in Stow. There’s always a Stow connection!

AL: I lived off one of the main roads in Cuyahoga Falls

F: Well welcome to Utah. Is this your first time playing here?

AL: I’ve playedย  in Salt Lake City before.

PH: I’ve never been here.

F: Do you like the snow on the mountains? In June?

All: Yah … it’s great.

F: Not so much …

SC: Well, it’s awesome to me because I’m all over the place anyway, so I never really have to be around anything for too long. It’s cool, then I’m over it.

F: What happened to the tour van?

SC: Actually, it wasn’t a van; it was an SUV, then I had my trailer. There were 289,000 miles on it over the past 2 years, and … yah. Graveyard. It’s just hanging out until I can get someone to buy it for parts. It wasn’t like we were on the road and it blew up or anything, although I have had that happen to tour vehicles before. This was just one of those things where we got home from tour, and we had a few months off, and it was already in pretty bad condition when I got back home, and over the 2 or 3 months that I was driving it around, it was just kind of like, “I’m done.” But it did exactly what I needed it to do for 289,000 miles, so you know …

F: On your site, there used to be a link where you could go out and make donations.

SC: We’re still doing that.

F: Where is it? because I poked around on the site and I couldn’t find it.

SC: Oh … on our *website* website? They might have changed it. I need to put that back up because we do have a Feed the Muse account, and that’s still going on, but I have to re-post it on Facebook every now and then because it gets shuffled down through the things. We’re going to redo the website, so we’ll probably have a permanent link cuz yah–we’re definitely still doing that. We’re borrowing a car for the summer. Literally. My dad is letting us borrow a car of his, and my mom is doing without a car so we can go on tour this summer.

F: This is the part that blows me away. A few months ago, you were working in a diner.

SC: Pizza place.

F: And now, you’re on this extensive North American tour, and you’ll be playing at a festival in England. How did you do it?

SC: It’s not a “How did you do it?” thing. It’s how I’m able to tour sometimes. Touring, really, just like costs money somtimes more than it earns money. It’s not like it’s a success story by any means. I’ve been touring for about 5 years, and we’ve played some big shows, and we’ve played some really small shows. It’s a constant roller coaster thing. As long as I’m doing something. I realized that we didn’t have a tour vehicle, so I needed to be making money and not spending the money I had saved up, so I had to get a job.

F: I think that’s amazing.

SC: I would rather *not* have a job so that I could have time to write and record, you know, but whatever it calls for, I guess.

F: You’re working on new music.

SC: Yah, it’s coming. It’s slow, it’s coming a lot slower this time, but we’re working on stuff. We’re lining up recording times right now because what we’re going to do instead of doing a full album next, we’re going to, ove ra period of 8-9 months, release singles done by different producers, done digitally and also on 7″ with B-side recordings. It’s going to be kind of like a throw-back thing, more of like what they did in the 40s and 50s. So people will get a little bit at a time, which I htink kind of works for this digital media age that we live in now anyways, I think that kind of makes more sense to peoples’ attention spans now, than what a full album release does. It also makes more sense, I think. It’s not like I don’t like doing full albums, I love doing full albums. I like that a lot, but it’s getting to a point where people don’t buy albums; they burn them off their friends and get them illegally off the internet, or they download them of iTunes, which iTunes is good, but some of these other sites that sell them, like Amazon for example, sells my album for like $5, and I don’t know how they do that, but they do.

F: But you still get full royalties.

SC: I don’t know if I do … I don’t really know how it works, honestly. I know that it’s something through Sony. So maybe Sony’s not getting paid or something? I don’t really know how that Amazon thing works. But a lot of people do that, so … albums really don’t make money for artists anymore, and so they end up spending all this money on making an album, recording it, printing it, then they never get any of that back. They never recoup any of that. I think this way, people are more likeyly to say, “I have $3-4 to buy a 7” or something like that. Then it becomes a more gradual payment. People are more readily able to buy a 99 cent single download than they can $9.99 full CD download. I don’t know. We’re just trying something new, seeing if it works out any better.

It’s also a better model for me right now too, just because of like the way I’ve been writing lately, which has been slowly so this kind of lets it be no so overwhelming about thinking about “I need to write 11 songs for an album.” This way, I can think about having 3-4 songs for the next 3-4 recording sessions, and then I can focus on the next 3-4 songs.

F: Do you have free time? What do you like to do in your free time?

SC: Free time … yah, I’ve got free time. I mean, I guess I’ve got free time. Probably have more free time than the average person actually. When you’re touring, you’re in the car a lot, so that’s I guess free time cuz you’re not really doing anything but you CAN’T do anything cuz you’re just driving. When I’m at home, I guess I have free time. I don’t know if I’m the wisest user of free time. I do read a lot, and I started painting a lot this winter but more out of necessity. I like painting, but I needed to sell some paintings so I could get some money, so it was more out of necessity.

F: Did you do the album art for “Songs in the Night”?

SC: No, that’s actually a friend of mine from Oklahoma City named Chad Mount. He’s a painter, and he did that album.

F: What about Confiscation?

SC: Yah. The first printing of COnfiscation, I did the cover for that.

F: I think that’s the one I have, which sadly I couldn’t find because I actually have physical CDs. I mean, it’s cool that you can download them too, but to have CDs? I tried the download model for a while …

SC: I know that there are people that do like CDs. I’m one of them. I like to have physical CDs too, but it just so happens that I gues sthere are more people that don’t, and they’re ruining it for everyone else.

F: I know! Jerks! So, what is the most random CD you have in your collection?

SC: Oooh … most random CD …

F: Obscure, random …

PH: Do Vinyls count?

F: Sure.

PH: French Girls?

SC: Oh yah! That’s pretty random. I got this vinyl album back in January called “60 French Girls Can’t Be Wrong,” and it’s a choral CD from the late 60s of this French girl’s choir singing 30s and 40s pop tunes. It’s actually really awesome. It’s pretty random why I would have that in my collection. But I have embarrassing stuff that I’m not embarrassed about things, like Hanson, Britney Spears …

F: I think everyone has those kinds of CDs.

SC: Yah. I have them, and I’m not embarrassed by them.

F: I had Weird Al …

SC: Oh. Umm … yah. I don’t have that. (Laughs)

F: Well, thanks for your time! Good luck tonight.

SC: No problem!


So, some comments about the convo. The thing that struck me is just how down to earth she is. She sat on the couch and chatted with me and my wife as if it were no problem … probably because it *was* no problem. She’s friendly, her smile could warm Barrow, Alaska in January, and she effortlessly carries a conversation like we’re long lost friends catching up.

Her star is rising at a meteoric rate, yet she doesn’t wait for the world to come to her; she goes and takes the world as it is and recognizes what needs to be done to make her dream stick. I point to the part of the conversation about working in the pizza place. She makes this incredible music, does all kinds of interviews with all kinds of organizations and magazines, goes on tour, THEN goes home and works at the local pizza place so she can go back out on tour, borrowing her parent’s car?! Come on. That’s NOT a success story? I 100% disagree. I think it is THE success story against which all other success stories should be measured. Why? Easy: she’s fighting tooth and nail to keep her dream alive. She goes on tour, then comes home and goes back to a normal, every day life, and thinks absolutely nothing of it. Nothing is being handed to her. Well, almost nothing. This is the other part that I just love: her parents lend her a car so she can go on tour, while her mom goes without to give her girl the dream she so desperately fights for. Yah. That’s success.

If she comes to your part of the world, make an effort to see her show. You will be a better person for having gone.

Concert Review: Samantha Crain in Salt Lake City

I don’t even know where to begin with this one. Should it be the fact that she went out of her way to grant an interview? That during the interview, she was so down to earth that I couldn’t help but feel like we had known each other for years instead of mere minutes? How about the fact that this tiny little spitfire put on a show that kept people coming on to the floor immediately in front of the stage?

Where to start …

I guess I’ll just go in chronological order. At this point, it seems to make the most sense.

First off, I should mention that this is going to be a two-parter post: The concert review, and the discussion/interview we had. Again … damn. They really don’t come any more laid back than she.

So concert review. Here it is, from the top.

The venue was The Urban Lounge. I hadn’t been to a show there, so I did some poking around. Not a lot of favorable reviews, sadly. Even my friend in Colorado who had been to a show couldn’t think of a good thing to say. “It’s hot, AC sucks, sound system sucks … not my favorite place for a concert.” For all the reviews I read and all the dialog about the place I had had, I can’t help but say this: y’all are wrong. Okay … not about the AC. It was really warm in there. However, the intimacy of the venue trumps pretty much everything. The stage is tiny. The dance floor is tiny. Actually, the whole venue is tiny. It’s only designed to hold about 300 people, and there were possibly 200 people there last night. Very, very intimate place for a show. And I *loved* it. Our “seats” were bar stools on the fringe of the dance floor. I could have thrown a feather and hit the stage (if that feather were tied to a tiny pebble, or maybe a wad of semi-compacted paper).That’s how close the seats were.

My intent was to take pics and video the whole show. Both were accomplished, but not in the manner I had anticipated. I was hoping that I could just prop up my phone and record the show. That was tossed out within the first 2 minutes of the first song as everyone rushed the stage and staked their claim to band proximity. Hey … who am I to complain? Newbie to the venue, rules already well-established … who am I to demand a straight shot at the stage? No … I adapted and made the best of my newly acquired understanding of how the vibe works there. I held my phone aloft for all 10 songs (11, if you want to count the Britney Spears tribute for Will), and it looks great. Even better than I had planned. Lots of crowd interaction, lots of needing to maneuver to get a better angle because of the crowd … all of whom were awesomely enthusiastic to be there for Samantha, Penny and Anne.

Samantha opened her set with “Lions,” off her newest CD You (Understood). The first thing I noticed, and I love this about an artist, is that she sounds even better live than she does on her CDs. This takes NOTHING away from her studio performances, but man … the girl can rock out. And rock out she did. She danced and stomped around the stage with her guitar, threw her head back and let the moment sink in, never missing a note or a beat. Her feet were constantly moving. Her music and moves were of one mind. And her smile! What a genuinely awesome smile she has. Her music and love for it is so sincere that she cannot keep from smiling while she’s playing. It’s a beautiful thing to watch. The passion she displays for her art and for making sure the fans get everything out of her show that she can offer are the only things she’s worried about while on stage.

She’s also aligned herself with Penny Hill (bassist) and Anne Lillis (drummer). They equally throw themselves into the moment. Anne set my “wow” factor for drummers to an all-time high. Just … WOW. One quick note from the interview: Penny and Anne were on another couch while I chatted with Samantha. Very unassuming, quiet, and low-key. Yah … that was all left in the green room once the show started. Anne took her sticks, and with fluidity like I’ve never seen, she began pounding away in anthemic rhythm. She was Niagara Falls, flowing relentlessly and careening over the edge in one million gallons of pure drumming, crashing down upon her drumset with unbridled passion. Penny, the bassist, matched Anne pace for pace in her energy, constantly bouncing around the stage and enjoying every minute, her fingers flying up and down the frets as she sweetly and crooningly sang harmony and back-up. MOST excellent.

Their energy and playing was infectious, which the crowd obviously picked up on this vibe cuz the floor kept filling up with each passing minute, all longing to be part of that energy. And let’s face it … who wouldn’t want to be part of that energy?

On the next song, “Songs in the Night,” Samantha traded in the mini-guitar solo opening for a kazoo solo.ย  I don’t know if the guys next to us were digging or making fun of it, but we loved it. Practically no one uses a kazoo anymore, but it fit so perfectly with the intro that going back and listening to the studio track almost seems … incomplete? This is the magic of Samantha Crain–“Surprise! Here’s a kazoo intro. Didn’t see that coming, did ya?!” Love it!

Here’s the entire set list from the show:

  • Lions
  • Songs in the Night
  • Equinox
  • Holdin’ that Move
  • New Song (not sure what it was called … something about convertibles)
  • Scissor Tales
  • Get the Fever Out
  • Religious Winds
  • Two-Sidedness
  • Toxic (Britney Spears cover, tribute to Will)
  • Up on the Table

Here are some pics from the show.


Videos of the show can be found on my YouTube channel.

For supposedly being an “opening act” for Langhorne Slim, she got the crowd on their feet and kept them there until well after the last note. After the show, I made it a point to get her attention before we left so that I could once again thank her for her time earlier in the evening for the interview and for such a spectacular show. What ended the night on such a personal high note was the huge, glowing smile that greeted me. I’m telling you … the girl has class. She knows how to make people happy, which is simply by being her good-natured self. I’ll get more into it when I write about the interview/conversation, but for now, just know that she is as geniunely friendly and kind a person as you can imagine, and my life is better for having met her.

Samantha Crain, thank you. ๐Ÿ™‚

Pre-Interview Jitters

Tonight, my wife and I are going to see Samantha Crain and Langhorne Slim, in that chronological importance order. I fully admit I’m not familiar with Langhorne’s music, but I’ve seen some clips on YouTube. He’ll be a good show, definitely. Not sure if I’ll have enough battery to record EVERYthing tonight, but here’s hoping.

Along with going to the show, Samantha Crain has been kind enough to grant me an interview! I’m seriously stoked about this. However, I have some reservations, none of which have to do with her specifically. From what I’ve noticed, she’s totally down to earth, easy to chat with, and extremely gracious. My nervousness stems from the venue itself.

The Urban Lounge prides itself on being a hipster hangout, replete with all the nonchalance of clearing out voicemails on their phone, not really caring about what someone orders drink-wise as long as said orderer has a drink thrust in his or her hand … really, I get the feeling that the employees there are really just riding the “I’m getting paid to watch awesome music” wave. So here’s my problem. She asked that I meet her at the venue at a specific time. That’s fine … except the doors don’t open until 9, and no one shows up until then to let anyone in. So … what am I supposed to do? Wander around to the back and say, “Yah … I’m looking for Samantha Crain?” Sure you do, buddy. You and the other 298 people coming tonight. “No, really … she said I could interview her here tonight.” I bet she did. Tell ya what, why don’t you text her and tell her you’re here?

See, if the venue employees can’t be bothered to show up before the show actually starts, our meeting time becomes kind of a hit-and-miss thing. So, while she has been kind enough to set up an interview, I don’t know if it’ll actually happen. I really hope it does, but if it doesn’t, I won’t be surprised. I’m even bracing myself for it, just in case it falls through.

Going to A Perfect Circle!

Kingsbury Hall holds just over 1900 people: 1030 in the orchestra level, 730 in the balcony, and a smattering of seats along the sides.

On August 1, A Perfect Circle is performing. Looks like the show sold out already, too. Not a surprise, given the fact that it holds less than 2000 people.

I’m in. The truly amazing thing is that we’re going to be within 60-70 feet of the band. That’s pretty cool.

This is going to be an incredible show. It’s an intimate venue, and it’s A PERFECT CIRCLE. Don’t see anything about an opening act, but the show starts at 7, so I’m guessing there probably will be someone opening for them. Questions is … who?

On one of APC’s tours, The Mars Volta opened for them. Seriously? How sick would that be?! Cedric AND Maynard in one night? Sadly, I didn’t make it to that show. The last time Tool was here, Trans Am opened for them. Still don’ tknow who they are. Anyway, I highly doubt that TMV would open for APC again, much less on this tour since I haven’t seen anything about it, but still … I can still hope.

Can’t wait. Less than 2 months away now.

Concert Announcement: A Perfect Circle

Looks like Maynard and Billy are bringing A Perfect Circle to SLC on August 1st at Kingsbury Hall. Tickets go on sale June 3. Guess who will be going. ๐Ÿ™‚

Should be a fantastic show. I’ve always loved how Maynard uses APC as a more … “touchy feely” outlet. Tool always seems to be his rage and aggression, whereas APC always seems to be more emotional and melodic. Granted, he doesn’t write the music for either band, but he’s arguably one of the most versatile singers when it comes to emotional range. Even within APC, you have songs like “Judith” that are just visceral and aggressive, whereas “Vanish” is just so … not. It’s mellow, lush, and flat-out the antithesis of “Judith.”

To be fair though, the same dichotemous split occurs within Tool, where you have songs like “Eulogy,” “”Aenima,” “The Grudge,” etc, but then you also have songs like “Disposition,” “Intension,” “Parabol,” and “Reflection” (not necessarily a mellow song, but it’s not gritty and hard as most Tool songs).

A Perfect Circle should be a great concert. A reliable source says that Kingsbury Hall is an amazing venue to catch just about any show.

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