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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Seeing Coldplay Live

Coldplay performing at Solider Field in Chicago.
Photo Credit: Me
On Saturday July 23rd, I was able to see for the first time ever, British rock mega-stars Coldplay. It's a common joke amongst my friends is that whatever recent concert Peter has been it, it's the greatest concert he has ever seen. Well it some come as no surprise that I will say the same thing about this most recent concert.

However, this concert was different. The more I revisit it in my mind, the more I believe that it truly might be the greatest concert I have ever seen. There were so many factors that cause me to think this, but I would like to focus on three.

1. Coldplay sounded incredibly. They brought such a high energy to their performance that I quite frankly did not expect. They had 45,000+ people dancing and singing along with every song. Additionally, the band sounded like a band that has played together for 20 years. They are very comfortable in their abilities, and know they are good. I own four live records by Coldplay, and they always knew they sounded great, but the recordings never catch the energy that you experience when you see them in person. The energy added so much to the performance.

2. The visuals. Everyone in attendance was given a wristband. If you are familiar with the old comic strip Dick Tracy, and his two way communication radio wrist watch, that is exactly what these wristbands looked like. When it came time for Coldplay to hit the stage, all of the lights were turned off in Solider Field. Then the wristbands switched on, and began to flash in sync with Coldplay as they performed. For a few minutes, the wristbands were the only light in the stadium. I'ver never seen anything like it. You would of thought that wristbands may of been a distraction to the performance, but they were not. They added an element of visual stimulation that made each song a truly unique performance.

3. The weather was unreal. Before the show, there was a severe thunderstorm that caused the two opening acts to be canceled and the show almost delayed. Then about two thirds through Coldplay's set, the heavens opened up again, and poured non-stop for the next few hours. This caused the set to be cut short, but not before Coldplay was able to play one more song.

To end their set, in the pouring rain, Coldplay performed A Sky Full of Stars, which is one of their more upbeat anthems from 2014's Ghost Stories. The crowd went insane. People were dancing in the rain, as I was. I've never experienced anything like it. I feel like it may be on of the closest things I will ever come to to a perfect moment. As Coldplay played, I looked up to the heavens and watched the rain come down. I then looked around and saw nothing but smiles and pure joy for anyone who stayed to the very wet end. It's something I will never forget.

I highly recommend if you are ever interested in seeing Coldplay live to do it. It is a wonderful experience.


Wednesday, July 20, 2016

An Album a Night in Its Entirety Part 2

Over the course of 1 week, I listened to all of these records
Two weeks ago I wrote about an experiment I was conducting where I would listen to one album a night in its entirety. The list of the records I was going to listen to were:

Moby: Animal Rights
Green Day: Dookie
Rogue Wave: Out of the Shadow
Zaz: Self-Titled
Joe Strummer & the Mescaleros: Streetcore
Beck: Mutations

I completed my task within a week, and then I began to process what the experience was like, and what I took away from the experiment. Here are my findings.

The Music

  • I really liked the selection of albums I chose. They were all albums I haven't listened to in a very long time. In the case of a few of them, it had been years. 
  • Dookie is ridiculously good album. 
  • Joe Strummer's Streetcore has a very interesting sound to it. The best way to describe it, is a mix between punk and reggae.  

Attention Span

  • There were times that I was able to soley focus on the music, and then there were times where I surfed online while I listened to the music. I don't feel either one was better or worse. Although I like the idea that I was able to listen to an entire record not being distracted. BTW the record I was able to do that with was Animal Rights by Moby. I feel that part of that reason was because I am currently reading Moby's Memoir Porcelain. 
  • To expand on the whole not being distracted piece. That's currently a big deal for me because I feel like my attention span is getting smaller and smaller. So I am making a concentrated effort to focus more. 

Mood 

  • I felt like I was in a better mood all last week when I conducted this little exercise. I find that if I watch too much TV or Netflix that I more easily become melancholy. Plus I felt like I accomplished something, and surprisingly it gave me some good musical ideas that I'm going to try and incorporate into my podcast the Looking Glass.
  • It was a really nice reminder of variety of music I have in my collection. Going from electronic to gypsy jazz to pop punk to punk to alternative to indie rock was a really cool experience. 
Overall, I liked this so much that I am going to try and keep it up. I have Coldplay's concert this upcoming Saturday, and to prepare for that, I've been listening to a record a night by them. Tonight's is Myolo Xyloto (I'm working backwards). It's not that bad of a record as I remember it to be. 



Monday, July 18, 2016

Prophets of Rage

The Prophets of Rage, which is Rage Against the Machine minus Zach da la Roche, Chuck D from Public Enemy, and B-Real and DJ Lord, released their first official single earlier today! The vibe of this song is fantastic. While it would still be beyond amazing to have Rage Against the Machine properly reunite, this is the next best thing. With the state of politics today, Prophets of Rage is on its way to become a very important band.


Thursday, July 7, 2016

An Album a Night in Its Entirety

Photo Credit: Me
Working at an university has taught me one that, and that is to always expect some interesting surprises or ideas. While talking with a few of my students recently, I was surprised to discover how few of them listen to whole albums in their entirety. Now this really shouldn't surprise me so much. After all we live in the age of Spotify, Pandora, iTunes, and so on. Young people don't just put a CD on. Most listen via their mobile phone, tablet, or computer. So this fact of non-album listening really shouldn't surprise me so much. Yet it does.

I guess it comes down to the choice we consumer make when we listen to music. Purchasing single tracks we like from say an iTunes. Another is enter genres we enjoy, and let algorithms select our sounds. Or we can put a record on a turntable, and listen to an entire piece. Now I'm not saying there is a right way or a wrong way to listen to music. Each has its own merits. And I for one have done all on a consistent basis. Plus each offer their own unique experiences.

However in reviewing my recent trends in how I listen to music, I feel like that I am becoming more of a "putting my iTunes on shuffle" kind of a guy. I almost feel like I'm being a little lazy, and that my attention span is becoming shorter and shorter. So I've decided to change it up a little bit. So beginning two nights ago, and for the foreseeable future, I'll be listening to one album a night, in its entirety. And I'm going even more old fashion, and listening on a CD player or on vinyl.

Thus far, I have really enjoyed the experience, and I feel that by focusing on the entirety of the piece, I begin to remember the original reasons why I've enjoyed a particular artist. I've also selected albums that I have not listened to in a very long time, or ones that I do not have imported onto my computer. Below are the selections I have chosen thus far.

Moby: Animal Rights
Green Day: Dookie
Rogue Wave: Out of the Shadow
Zaz: Self-Titled
Joe Strummer & the Mescaleros: Streetcore
Beck: Mutations