Monday, January 26, 2009

STYX and Larry Sweeney - One Magical Night

Doesn't that make it sound like Prom? "Prom '96: One Magical Night." But dudes, for really was. Way more magical than my actual prom night, which was mostly spent at a truck stop called The Full Moon Cafe on Highway 41 in northeastern Illinois.

I feel I need to start with Larry Sweeney. Larry is an old friend of mine who I've been in and out of touch with for the last twelve or so years. Fortunately, we're fully back in touch now, and plan to stay that way. We've been nurturing our relationship with good talks, palm readings, and, obviously, rocking live music. Last August, Larry and I went to see Alice Cooper in Hammond, Indiana. I'm not sure what to say about that, except for the following points:

*It was in a casino
*Larry's dad came along
*Alice Cooper killed a baby on stage
*It was pretty incredible

So Larry, being the go-getter he is, calls me up a few weeks ago and proposes the idea of going to see Styx. Now, I've seen Styx twice before, and both times were amazing, but I knew this time would be different. Instead of seeing this wondrous band in a big field in the classy city of Beloit, Wisconsin, we'd be attending the show at a theater in illustrious Waukegan, Illinois. How could I say no to this? Also, Larry Sweeney is known to raise the bar...I knew this would be a night I would not soon forget.

Thank effing god I went. Styx is amazing. I know about a billion people who like to make fun of me for liking Styx (Example A: Schabow, who, when we lived together, put on his own music turned up louder than my Styx at a party we had. Damn...that cut deep, Schabow), but really, they rule an incredible amount. Never mind that they are all close to my father's age and their hairstyles, which were once rocking and sexy, now look slightly weird. Never mind the fact that they are playing an identical set list to what I heard them play nearly three years ago. Never mind that one song "Show Me the Way" - they didn't even play it! This band rocks. And you should try and see them at some point.

Here are some highlights of the night. I forgot my camera, as usual, so these pictures from my phone will have to suffice:

*Larry's friend Cary got us seats in the second row, right in the center. The only people in front of us were "The Accounts Receivable Department," a bunch of 40-something ladies Larry nicknamed who were screaming and carrying on and catching guitar picks right and left. The members of Styx were definitely playing it up in front of these wild ladies - making eyes, winking, even mouthing "love you" to one of them. Scandalous!

*There was a lot of "THANK YOU WAUKEGAN!!!" and stuff like this to remind us where we were. There was also a pice of paper in front of the mic stands that, in a giant font, said WAUKEGAN, ILLINOIS and then underneath, MERRILVILLE, INDIANA to remind Styx of where they were. When they said they were heading to Merrilville next, the crowd booed a lot. Larry explained how towns always hate the other towns close to them. I thought that was pretty hilarious - to boo Merrilville. I'd boo because Merrilville is close to Gary, which smells like an actual butt. But that's just me.

*James Young, founding member, guitarist, and singer, makes the most insane Guitar Face I've ever seen. He also makes Vocal Face. I wish you could see this picture better so I wouldn't have to explain - his giant white teeth were unbelievable.

At one point, Larry turned to me and said "This guy is like a cross between Jon Voigt and..." I didn't let him finish. "GARY BUSEY!" I exclaimed! We giggled a lot.

*Although Dennis DeYoung (who I saw play Pontious Pilate in a production of Jesus Christ, Superstar when I was sixteen) is no longer in the band, Styx did not pussyfoot around when finding his replacement. I assume they traveled to a magical land, or to the end of a rainbow or something, because the man they found to sing the high parts and play keyboards was definitely...well...elf-ish. Not like the language in The Lord of the Rings. I mean he looked and acted like an actual elf. A tiny, feathery-haired, pervy elf. His silver skinny tie perfectly matched his pointy (yes, pointy) silver shoes. He leapt and pranced around the stage like a little sprite, spreading the magic of music. Or something. But he'd also do these totally gross moves where he'd put one leg all up high and thrust his pelvis in the air. His keyboard spun around, and he'd play with his hands behind his back, winking and mouthing "OH YEAH" at the crowd. Specifically the Accounts Receivable Department. There was a lot of screaming...

Here is another picture of that illusive elfin wizard. I think he must have been singing "Come Sail Away" at this point, judging from his arm, thrown out expressively...

Here's a picture of the bass player, not an original member, but a great addition to the band nonetheless. Larry noted that his haircut didn't look authentic enough. He was trying too hard.

Here's Jon Voigt/Gary Busy, partying down.

And another...I couldn't get enough of this guy. Damn weirdo...

This is the whole band. That's Jon/Gary second from the left, and Tommy Shaw (only other original member) right next to him. Tommy Shaw was brilliant - he was hilarious and entertaining, and when he said stuff like "We're having so much fun, Waukegan, we wish we didn't have to leave you!" I actually believed him.

What else...they sang almost everything I could have hoped for. They don't seem to play Mr. Roboto anymore, I think because of some weirdness with Dennis DeYoung in the past, and the fact that the rest of the band hated the song and this perhaps led to them breaking up...? But really, they sound amazing, they look...well, pretty alright. This was definitely my best Styx experience thus far. Seeing it in Rockegan (Waukegan dudes, come on!) was a big part of it. Seeing it with Larry was a huge part of it.

Go see Styx. Go see Larry Sweeney. Come on, I'm going (next Saturday)! Check all the Larry links on this blog - I worked hard on this. I'm doing you all a favor, seriously. Just go.

I just received a comment from Dixie, who found my blog, and had been sitting right in front of Larry and I at this very show! She took amazing pictures, so if you'd like to see some where the faces are actually clear, check them out here. Seriously, amazing pictures.

And just so Dixie knows, the Accounts Receivable Department was actually the group of ladies to her left. I promise, I wasn't making fun!

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Kids

I sometimes wonder if my students will look back on their piano lessons years from now and think about how I would tear up or almost cry on a pretty regular basis, and think it was funny or weird. I don't think I'd mind if they did.

I listened carefully today as the kids talked about Martin Luther King Jr. and the excitement over the first black president ever in this country, and how cool it is going to be tomorrow when he's the "actual for-real president" of The United States. I think I finally got the feeling a lot of other people had on November cynicism and hatred for most things political faded a bit and I got swept away by the other stuff.

I tell you man, these kids...They're so good at making me remember the important stuff. The stuff that my stubborn adult brain forgets to remember sometimes.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Small Chance

There's a small chance I may be losing my mind.

I'm in the bed, looking at the interwebs on my computer (the internet is on computers now, by the way), as I often am when I can't sleep. The outside doors are locked and checked, closets are closed, all the usual slightly compulsive before-bed-behaviors have been taken care of. Everything is fine, right?

Then I hear this noise.

I can't objectively describe what it sounds like because I'm biased. Obviously, every noise I hear in the middle of the night is a bat flying around my apartment. Obviously. What else could it be? A branch hitting the kitchen window? Nah, that's impossible. The house settling? No, that would just be stupid. My neighbor on the other side of the wall just a few feet away? Well, that's just crazy! It has to be a bat! There's just no other reasonable answer.

I guess I'm a little scarred from the previous incident (have a read - this one is a doozy). Once I realized a real live bat could get in my apartment once, I also realized that several real live bats could get in my apartment several times. In fact, when Genia was over on that fateful night, taking care of that bat (and taking care of me, the big baby), she was amazed that I'd never before had a bat in any apartment I'd ever lived in. I believe she said that she'd had four different ones. In my head, that of course meant that I was due for a few more soon. There's some aspect of probability in there. Zero in seven years of living here just didn't fit the statistics of Bat Appearances. Suck.

So anyhow, I hear this noise. I calmly set down my computer, which was nearly thrown across the room at the bat last time, walk to the entrance of my bedroom, and close my door. I stand, motionless, listening for the noise in the other room. I still hear it. Like I said, I cannot objectively describe it, so in my subjective mind, it sounded like "wings flapping, going back and forth across the room," which is what it sounded like last time. I remember my sister saying that bats could squeeze through tiny spaces, so I shove a couple of hoodies across the crack along the bottom of the door. I listen for a few more seconds. The noise has stopped. I assume that the bat has settled in one place. Or the wind has slowed and the tree branch is not moving, or my neighbor went to sleep, or the noise simply stopped, yes, but mostly I think the bat settled down. there a bat in my kitchen? I do not know. And I'm not going to find out. At least not tonight. Tonight, I absolutely cannot handle even the possibility of a goddamn bat. It's just not going to happen. Things may be different tomorrow, but I wouldn't count on it. I'll probably be sleeping with the door shut and spending a lot more time at all your houses for a few days.

I really think I need to calm down.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

2008: The Year (of Suck) in Review

Omg, dudes, it's been awhile! I've missed you. And apparently, I've missed the boat with the whole "Year In Review" blog, seeing that it's the 4th day of 2009. Whoops a daisy. Well, I'm gonna do it anyhow. I've done some extensive research on some very dependable websites (facebook and myspace) and have collected a significant amount of data and scientific questions, compiled into one "survey," as some might say. Here we go:

2008: The Year (of Suck) In Review

Where were you when 2008 began?
At the High Noon, watching bands and drinking champagne with Tara, Tom, Nick, Mercy, Lee, and a billion other people. I kissed all of their faces. I spent the next day in bed, hungover, writing blogs. Awesome.

Where will you be when 2008 ends?
Um, I was in my parents' living room at a pretty hilarious party. Check it!

Did you fall in love in 2008?
Yeah, probably like 30 or 40 times. With all of you.

How many different states did you travel to in 2008?
I had a totally sexy summer vacation in Nude England, a lovely and spooky Halloweener in Atlanta, many food-and-drink filled weekends in Chicago, and a night in Minneapolis, where I visited one of my future husbands, Bruce Springsteen.

Did you miss anybody in the past year?
I missed everybody this year, man. I've been seriously missing Sarah, Jenny, Andy, Christopher, Helen, Tucky...basically everybody from college. I wish so hard that teleportation existed. Come on, science! Get on it!

What was your favorite movie that you saw in 2008?
Tenacious D: The Pick of Destiny. Duh, dudes. You know what was not the best movie ever? The Sex and the City movie. I was so mad after I saw it...I'll probably watch it again some day when I'm in a better mood. But jesus...

Did you have a favorite concert in 2008?
Oh my god, there were some really good ones this year.
The Bigguns: Bruce in March, Devotchka TWICE in April, M.I.A. in April, Alice Cooper with Sweet n Sour Larry Sweeney in August, Tina Turner with my mom in September, GZA/The Black Keys/The Roots for FREE at that Southern Comfort Music Thing outside, and I guess I'll mention Poison, even though it wasn't that good...
Mediums: The Kills at the Annex, Enon at the Annex, Califone and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club separately at the High Noon (not so much because of the music, but because I got to see old friends! Aww!), Bang Camaro at the Annex, The Giraffes the first time they played here, Mr. Gnome/Leslie and the Lys/Dan Deacon during the Forward Music Fest, Holly Golightly at the Momo, but mostly because of the company (yay Jess and Laura!), Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings at the Barrymore, Kraak and Smaak at the Majestic, The Planets at the Overture Center.
The Local Stuff: Digibot and the John Ashcroft Fan Club on Election Night, seeing Marcus King and thee Royalty for the first time, The Junkers at the Crystal, Heather's band at Mickey's, seeing the Shabelles a bunch of times, seeing Kitty Rhombus and liking them more and more each time, El Valiente at the High Noon. I know I'm forgetting some. But yes, many good ones.

High Point of the year?
I guess December 31st at 11:59 pm because the year was almost over? Okay, there were some good points. They were little, here and there, and mostly involved people I love being wonderful. Thanks, dudes.
My sister dyeing my hair and my mother washing it out in the kitchen sink. I know, it's funny, but it was great.

Having the Irish cousins visit this past week. They're some of the most genuine, sincere, lovely, loving people ever.
My trip to Nude England.

Low point of the year?
March 26th through April and a lot of May
That week at the end of July
That other week right before Thanksgiving

Best holiday?
Arbor Day, definitely. No, wait. Halloween, duh. It was a doozy this year...Gigantic warehouse party, jello shots, dancing to Rihanna and The Pussycat Dolls when Layla took over the music, eating like 20 cocktail weenies at the end of the night (this was after only eating fruit for like 5 hours - then I forgot). Being a fortune teller and making my own deck of tarot cards. Omg.

Anthem for 2008?
Rock n Roll Part 2. It became the Family Anthem...the rule is, whenever somebody starts singing it, everybody else has to stop whatever they're doing and join in on the "HEY!" part. Rules is rules...

Who did you spend your valentines with?
I honestly don't remember. This year will be and Jordan Catalano all the way. He'll teach me how to drive his car, and I'll appreciate the way he leans. Like...against stuff.

Best New Relationship/Friend?
I was a lucky son of a gun this year, I gotta tell you. I met some amazing people, reconnected with others, became closer with and got to see more...fantastic times...
Best Newbies: Breena, Marc, Lacy, Jess, Laura, Anna. Friends rule...I'm such a lucky lady!
Best Reconnections: Alex/Larry Sweeney, Kevin, Jenny, Lauren, Mark
Best Others: Daniella, Lisa, Lee, Lynn, Bill, Jacob. Oh my god. Friends rule.

Best new album that you have?
Okay, I don't have it, but I love that Raconteurs album. This year I was also loving these:
TV on the Radio - Dear Science
Devotchka - A Mad and Faithful Telling
Bloc Party - Intimacy
M.I.A. - Kala
Santogold - Santogold
Betty Davis - This Is It!
I've also been loving Blondie, Art Tatum, and probably a billion others. Can you tell I'm a bando?

Most proud moment?
Recitals, going to "Friends and Family Day" at Emil's school (it was also very hilarious). Starting the One Second Time Machine. I don't know, man, every time I look at my friends and family? I'm a proud, proud guy.

Most reliable person?
The Fam, Sarah, Genia, Tara.

Best job of the year?
Mine. This answer will never change, I promise you.

Favorite quote of the year?
I've given some thought to my jewelry needs, and I don't think I need gold anymore...I need something spider-based. Nothing tacky or cheap looking...I need, like...a pretty web necklace. -a Gem from Sara

Rate 2006 on a scale of 1-10(best)
Ugh. A 5 maybe? Such a year of suck...more sadness and tragedy and awfulness than I've ever seen in one year, seriously. Between the deaths and divorces and sickness, I don't even know. Not to mention the economy. But I learned a lot. My Saturn hit me very hard, and I'm a much better person for it. Much more mature - in fact, when I wrote "person" back there, at first I spelled it "peeson" and laughed for about five minutes. See? More mature.

Plans for 09?
Stick with this whole less tumultuous, quieter thing I've got going on. Less drama. More of what I want. More of what I need. A big trip somewhere with Sarah to celebrate our 30th bdays. Keep eating right and cooking awesomely. Evaluate exactly what is keeping me in Madison. Buy a better Ipod. Book club! Keep writing, specifically my blog.

Thumbs up, 2009! Stay classy!