Saturday, June 16, 2018

Concert Review: Frank Turner, Lucero, The Menzingers, The Homeless Gospel Choir at House of Blues, Dallas

Artists:  Frank Turner (Official, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Spotify, Wikipedia), Lucero (Official, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Spotify, Wikipedia), The Menzingers (Official, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, BandCamp, Spotify, Wikipedia), The Homeless Gospel Choir (Official, Facebook, Twitter, InstagramBandCamp, Spotify, Wikipedia)
Venue:  House of Blues, Dallas (Official, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram)
Date:  June 12, 2018

When it was announced that Frank Turner would be hitting the road with Lucero, The Menzingers, and The Homeless Gospel Choir I was super excited.  What a lineup!  Of course this tour wasn't coming through Oklahoma, but it was going to hit Dallas, TX and thanks to the generosity of my good friend Steve, we packed into my car and made the three hour drive to the Lone Star State.  After making our obligatory stop at Spaghetti Warehouse for lunch we went of the hunt for Good Records (Official, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) the site of a Frank Turner solo show and signing before the main event later that night.  My son and I picked up a couple of records (England Keep My Bones and Love Ire & Song) and got our wristbands for the show before heading out to wander Dallas, taking in Dealey Plaza and talking some JFK assassination theories. 

We headed back to Good Records and were treated with a heartfelt, five-song solo set which consisted of three songs from his latest album Be More Kind (including the first solo performance of "Brave Face"), a deep cut from the Mittens EP, and the Turner classic "Long Live the Queen" which was dedicated to his uncle who recently passed away.  The five songs were all performed perfectly with hilarious banter in an intimate environment that created an intense connection to the music and performance.  Following the set we got to have our records signed and spend a few moments talking with Frank.  If people ever wonder why Frank Turner has such a connection with his fans, all one has to do is come to one of these signings.  He took the time, while being incredibly efficient in the process, to speak with pretty much everyone in attendance (that I saw at least), was kind and genuine and generous with the hugs, smiles, and handshakes.  This was more than worth the price of admission and is something I would do again in a heartbeat. 

This was my first time to attend an event at a House of Blues and I must say, I was impressed.  The venue was nice and clean, the stage was easy to see from almost any vantage point, the sound was excellent.  By the time we arrived we missed The Homeless Gospel Choir's set, which was a major bummer.  The Menzingers took the stage and blasted out a killer, high energy set of songs from last year's tremendous After the Party plus rousing renditions of "The Obituaries" from 2012's On the Impossible Past (the sing-along for this was incredible, well over 500 people screaming "I will fuck this up, I fucking know it" was extremely cool), "I Don't Wanna Be An Asshole Anymore" from 2014's Rented World, and the new track "Toy Soldiers."  Lucero was up next with what was easily the ballsiest set of the night, playing their new album, which comes out August 3rd (two months after this show), in its entirety.  The band closed out with their classic "I Can Get Us Out Of Here Tonight" from 2006's Rebels, Rogues & Sworn Brothers to much adulation from the crowd.  This was my first time to see both Lucero and The Menzingers and both put on tight performances. 

Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls took the stage, launched in to the first single from Be More Kind, "1933," and the place erupted.  From that moment on, the entire room was on fire.  With a set that included many songs from the new record, plus tons of classics and fan favorites, Turner and company completely owned the room.  I've been to a fair number of concerts over the years, many of which have been excellent, but none of them have been the absolute cathartic release and absolute pure joy as this one.  Standing next to my son only a few "rows" (for lack of a better term) from the stage, from beginning to end the gigantic smiles never left our faces.  I sang along to every song (yes I knew them all) and screamed at the top of my lungs to many of them.  The total and complete joy that ran through me was incredible and it was all thanks to Frank Turner and his incredible music.  A theme of his new record (review forthcoming) is being kind and taking care of each other.  That was a message taken completely to heart in the House of Blues Tuesday night.  Not only was this a phenomenal rock 'n' roll show, it was also a powerful philosophical lesson.  And before anyone gets all huffy puffy about music teaching a lesson, I challenge you to go and listen to songs like "Be More Kind" and "Get It Right," read their lyrics, and tell me that you disagree.  Because if you find some kind of flaw in --
So before you go out searching
Don't decide what you will find
Be more kind, my friends, try to be more kind
Sweet Lord I’ve had some visions
Of people having conversations
Instead of staring at their tiny screens
And pretending that they knew what to do 
then I don't know what to tell you.  This shit is genius and exactly what the world, what I, need right now. 

Frank Turner was already one of my favorite artists going into this show and now he's top 5, easy.  This was a breathtaking show by one of the great musical performers of our time.  I truly can't say enough good things about this night so I'll end with this.  Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls put on an all-time great performance in Dallas and it was an honor and a privilege to be a part of the experience.   

Monday, June 04, 2018

Currently Listening

1.  "Money" by Embrace (from Embrace)
2.  "Second Guessing" by R.E.M. (from Reckoning)
3.  "Queen of New York" by Tancred (from Nightstand)
4.  "Sweet Dreams Baby" by INHEAVEN (from Sweet Dreams Baby)
5.  "Walk in Cold" by Naked Raygun (from Jettison)
6.  "Heart of Soul" by The Cult (from Ceremony)
7.  "Toy Soldier" by The Menzingers (from Toy Soldier)
8.  "Edge of Everything" by Colour Me Wednesday (from Counting Pennies in the Afterlife)
9.  "Love Vigilantes" by New Order (from Low-life)
10.  "Happy When It Rains" by The Jesus & Mary Chain (from Darklands)
11.  "Crowded Conscience" by Elway (from For the Sake of the Bit)
12.  "Stardust" by Petal (from Stardust)
13.  "Ideology" by Billy Bragg (from Talking With the Taxman About Poetry)
14.  "The Caterpillar" by The Cure (from The Top)
15.  "Be More Kind" by Frank Turner (from Be More Kind)
16.  "Cold to Be Alone" by Hit Like a Girl (from Cold to Be Alone)
17.  "Is It Really So Strange?" by The Smiths (from Louder Than Bombs)
18.  "Still Be Around" by Uncle Tupelo (from Still Feel Gone)
19.  "Son't Push Me" by Peach Kelli Pop (from Gentle Leader)
20.  "Let's Find an Out" by Snail Mail (from Let's Find an Out)

Sunday, May 27, 2018

TV Review: '13 Reasons Why' Season 2

Title:  13 Reasons Why Season 2 (Netflix, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram,, IMDB, Wikipedia)

Netflix's 13 Reasons Why is a powerful and poignant show based on the book Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Archer.  The show's first season made waves in 2017, sparking debates about everything from sexual abuse, the power of television, and the glamorization of suicide.  The first season was one of those few on-screen adaptations that not only held true to the source material but improved upon it.  Archer's book is a devastating and captivating story about a girl who committed suicide and left as a note a series of cassette tapes telling the story of what brought her to the point of taking her own life.  The Netflix series brought this story so perfectly to life, expanding the characters and the scope while holding completely true to the book, thanks in no small part to an incredible cast and breathtaking performances.

Season two picks up in the aftermath of the first season and is a completely new creation, going beyond the story laid out in the book.  Like with season one, the characters are incredibly vivid and true to life, heartbreaking and fearful, flawed, desperate, and yet somehow hopeful thanks once again to the tremendous performance from the entire cast.  Without going into spoilers, because this is a show that needs to be experienced unspoiled, the ante was upped and then some.  Each episode draws you in, is captivating, frustrating, heartbreaking, and ultimately makes it hard to not just binge the entire thing in one sitting.  (Note:  I do not at all suggest doing this.  For one thing, that's 13 hours of television which is way too much to digest at once.  More than that though, you need time to breathe and process, otherwise you'll be a mess by the end.)

This series is unflinching in its take on hard issues and the horror that we as humans are capable of perpetrating on others.  So much so that the show, and specifically the second season's finale have been criticized for going too far.  Here's what I'm going to say about that.  There is a scene in the finale that is so brutal with its violence, to a character who had turned a corner and was trying to make amends, that it physically hurt me to watch.  By the end of the episode I was an emotional wreck.  I sat on my couch, unable to move, stunned by what I had seen.  The dichotomy between the message of love and hope and the image of a child who was so broken by the cruelty of his fellow students was jarring.  It was incredibly powerful but jarring nonetheless.  All hope is not lost, but even in that moment of light, the darkness still holds a tight grip.  As I write this review, the day after finishing the second season, I'm still struck by how deeply this show has affected me.

The thing I think this show does better than anything else is illustrate peoples' capacity for cruelty.  This show is about students in high school, yes but it speaks to so much more than that.  13 Reasons Why isn't just a show about high school kids.  It's a show that shines a light on just how screwed up things in America are at this moment, and probably always have been (on at least some level).  There is hope in the end but it is a faint hope, a hope that I feel for our society but fear is too little, too late.  Warning though, this show is not for the faint of heart, those in a really dark or bad place, or those who have suffered from abuse.  This show hits hard, pulls no punches, and leaves you lying on the floor.  Also one of the main characters has some pretty awesome posters in his bedroom including Joy Division, Swingin' Utters, and toyGuitar just to name a few.  And the use of music is absolutely outstanding.  Massive props to whoever is in charge of the aspect of the show. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Currently Listening

1.  "King of Pain" by Cadet Carter & Dave Hause (from King of Pain)
2.  "For the Lonely Ones" by Lucero (from For the Lonely Ones)
3.  "Shape of My Hands" by illuminati hotties (from Kiss Yr Frenemies)
4.  "Queen For A Day" by Skating Polly & Exene Cervenka (from The Make It All Show)
5.  "Start Choppin'" by Dinosaur Jr. (from Where You Been)
6.  "Last Cigarette" by Dramarama (from Stuck In Wonderamaland)
7.  "Still In Hollywood" by Concrete Blonde (from Concrete Blonde)
8.  "All for You" by Superchunk (from What a Time to Be Alive)
9.  "Silverfuck" by The Smashing Pumpkins (from Siamese Dream)
10.  "Little Changes" by Frank Turner (Be More Kind)
11.  "We're All In This Together" by Ben Lee (from Awake Is the New Sleep)
12.  "East St. Louis" by Brendan Kelly and the Wandering Birds (from I'd Rather Die Than Live Forever)
13.  "GL" by Ratboys (from GL)
14.  "Perfect Song" by Special Explosion (from To Infinity)
15.  "Silence" by Brian Fallon (from Silence)

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Currently Listening

1.  "Silence" by Brian Fallon (from Silence)
2.  "A Pillar Of Salt" by The Thermals (from The Body, The Blood, The Machine)
3.  "Make America Great Again" by Frank Turner (from Make America Great Again)
4.  "Noisy Heaven [Quiet Slang]" by Beach Slang (from Noisey Heaven [Quiet Slang])
5.  "Lonely Fast and Deep" by Buffalo Tom (from Quiet and Peace)
6.  "He's A Whore" by Big Black (from He's A Whore)
7.  "Lower Ground" by Harker (from No Discordance)
8.  "Bad Choices" by Superchunk (from What a Time to Be Alive)
9.  "Cut Yr Teeth" by Kississippi (from Sunset Blush)
10.  "Today" by Kate Nash (from Yesterday Was Forever)
11.  "I Hate Gooey Disk" by Hot Mulligan (from Pilot)
12.  "Something in the Water" by The Maple State (from The Things I Heard at the Party)
13.  "Pristine" by Snail Mail (from Pristine)
14.  "Next Year" by Benchmarks (from Our Undivided Attention)
15.  "Just Fade Away" by Stiff Little Fingers (from Anthology)
16.  "Annabel" by Ash (from Annabel)
17.  "Pineapple Pslooze" by Fox Wound (from Spring Demo)
18.  "White Guilt" by The Bronx (from The Bronx [III])
19.  "Brand New Love" by Sebadoh (from Smash Your Head On The Punk Rock)
20.  "The Frug" by Rilo Kiley (from rkives)

Wednesday, April 18, 2018