green-day

September 20, 2004 will forever be an important day for Green Day fans everywhere. It’s when the band’s landmark album American Idiot came out and believe it or not, it’s 10 years old. This is the record responsible for the band’s massive music take over. This is the one that brought more fans into the Green Day fold. This is the album that has stood the test of time. It also proved Green Day had a fire in them that hadn’t died out just yet.

I still remember going to Circuit City to pick up the album like it was only a few years ago. No one could predict the major success that would come with, especially since the band were close to calling quits a few years earlier. It made them the biggest act on the planet and showed they were meant to have a long, lucrative career. This was the record that made me a longtime Green Day fan. It’s still one of my favorites and sounds as amazing as it did when I first heard it. It’s still hard to believe I first heard the powerful lyrics and blazing guitars 10 years ago.

There was nothing about the LP I disliked. I instantly fell in love with the title track and all the subsequent singles, but the way the other songs were catchy and notable left me in awe. How was it possible for one album to be so damn good? The great hooks and intense music are what initially attracted me, but the more I heard it the more I began to understand what made the record so special. After listening to it a few times I started to realize all the songs were connected. It wasn’t until I dived into the lyrics I uncovered the story of Jesus of Suburbia and St. Jimmy. The tracks weren’t just notable because of a hook or a distinct guitar riff. So many other factors were in play, mainly passion and hard work.

Green Day didn’t invent the concept album, but they did show me how records have the ability to tell intricate stories complete with interesting characters and situations you can relate to. I remember just how amazed I was when I heard “Jesus of Suburbia.” It was nine minutes of chaos, aggression, anger, and kick ass music. As the song kept transitioning between the different acts, I was left speechless. What was going on? It was like five mini songs wrapped up in one large, epic track. They did it again with “Homecoming” to wrap up the tale of St. Jimmy. It was unlike anything I had heard before. I had no idea artists could just take the song format and completely flip it on its head.

The band has had successful albums before, but on this one they showed they could do more than make snotty punk rock songs. To be fair, they already veered away from their winning formula on albums like Nimrod and Warning, but here they were so hungry and full of passion it made the world pay attention. They even took the songwriting to a new level. It’s more personal than before, full of clever, witty lyrics that managed to comment on teen angst, going against the norm, and American politics. I admired the way they addressed the political issues of the time. They weren’t shoving it down my throat. Rather, they made me aware of what was going on and why it wasn’t right.

Lines like “I’m the son of rage and love” are still being scribbled across notebooks all over the world. Everything about the songs managed to reach people on such an emotional level. Whether it was something relatable, like the death of a loved one, or a song that just made you feel good, it’s special. When I listen to it now feelings of awe, pride, and excitement come flooding back to me. The album is full of great memories and still has a special place in my heart. It’s something I still love listening to and one I’ll sing along without hesitation. I’ll always remember it as a wonderful times for both fan and the band alike.

It’s a timeless album that showed the world just how amazing Green Day is. It’s one of those records everyone should hear at least once, sort like Nevermind. It’s an essential record that re-invented the band and the way we think about music. It’s something people are still debating, reviewing, and listening to 10 years later on. Now, if you excuse me, I’ve got an album to listen to.

20140914_202758_LLSThe Cure at Riot Fest Chicago 2014

I have never been the biggest fan of festivals. The sheer amount of people and the thought of using a port-a-potty was enough to keep me away. This year I finally got over my fear and said “Fuck it” because I wanted to see The Cure. I missed them at Lolla last year and every time they announced a show in the past it was always overseas. This might’ve been one of my only chances to see them in the States and I wasn’t about to miss it. In the end, I made the right choice.

The day started with lots of walking. It took me about 30 minutes to get from my friend’s car to the entrance. From there we had to weave our way through the little shops and food vendors that were set up. I was actually surprised by the sheer amount of shops you could visit. You could get anything from t-shirts and leather jackets to jewelry and flasks. There was also a wide selection of food from places I didn’t even know existed. The smell of pizza, tacos, rice, funnel cake, hot dogs etc was almost too much to handle. I wanted it all! So many people walked around chowing down on delicious food you would’ve thought you were at The Taste of Chicago.

We finally made it to the Rebel stage to catch PUP. I talked about these guys earlier in the year and they are a great live act. They ran through most of their album with so much energy and vigor. They’re pure animals running and jumping on such a small stage. They also sounded great and showed themselves to be impressive musicians. There is clearly no studio magic with them. The best best was during the closer “Reservoir” where everyone went nuts and frontman Stefan Babcock joined the action by crowdsurfing without missing a note. They were also humble; they kept thanking the crowd for stopping by their stage. Their affect on people was clear as many of them walked away saying how good they were and were now fans of theirs.

While walking to the Rise stage, we caught some of Billy Bragg’s set. I didn’t know who he was, but it was amazing to just see him on that big stage with only a guitar. There was no back up band or singers. Just him rocking out with his fans. It was a cool sight to see. Next on our list was Andrew W.K. For someone who I don’t listen to a lot, I thought his set was a lot of fun. He was really hyper and energetic throughout, making his party party party persona come to life. Wearing his uniform of a white shirt and white pants, he wildly played the keyboard before head banging to songs like “Party Hard.” There was non stop moshing and a massive circle pit at the end. It was clear he wanted everyone to have fun and from the looks of it fans did. The only questionable moment was when burlesque dancers came out and began twerking and shaking around. I’m sure some people liked it, but it wasn’t exactly what I wanted to see.

There was a lot of time to kill until the big event, so we wandered around aimlessly. We got the chance to play a bit of Sunset Overdrive (and sit down, thank goodness) courtesy of the Xbox One tent. My thoughts? It looks like fun and seems like it will satisfy my need for destruction in video games. After that, we watched some Luchadors wrestle it out. It was weird, but really entertaining to say the least. While some in the crowd thought it was stupid, it was obviously a show they were putting on for the crowd and they delivered. Though it was clear they were tired, they still did their best to get a big reaction from people watching.

Since it rained a few days before, the park was good and muddy. There were moments when my boots got so stuck I thought I would lose it. Some people had mud all the way to their knees. It wasn’t that big of a deal, but there were times I was convinced I was walking in something else, which brings me to the smell. There were certain moments where it smelled like a zoo. The worse part was we weren’t near the toilets. You would be walking and the smell of farts, cigarettes, and shit would hit you. I’m not sure what it was, but it never lasted long enough for me to run out of the festival. It was just something I wasn’t prepared for.

After some people watching, we headed towards the Riot stage, meaning we got to see the last half of Patti Smith’s set. She is a passionate performer who put out several cries for peace in the world. There were times she became very adamant and jumped around while telling the audience they have the power for chance. It was really moving and she said it with such vigor you were ready to follow her into battle. Even though I’m not a huge fan I enjoyed seeing her because she’s an iconic and influential artist. From there we waited an hour and a half for The Cure. Social Distortion played on a nearby stage, so we had them to listen to, but the crowd mostly kept to themselves as they counted the minutes.

Fans muttered aloud as to what songs they would play or reminisced about the first time they ever saw the band. Some people played with their phones while others kept an eye on the screens on the side of the stage. Every time something popped up on them people would cheer hoping the wait was over; it was only a message about Twitter. The sky grew darker and people more impatient. Once when the screen flashed The Cure’s logo on the drumset everyone grew quiet waiting for the man of the hour to come out – false alarm. People groaned and resumed looking at their phones.

7:45 came and still no Cure. Turns out Social Distortion decided to say “fuck the set times” and play one last song. Fans grumbled about them playing and wished for them to shut up. Finally, five minutes late the band strolled out. I saw Robert Smith with my own eyes and it was glorious. Others around felt the same as they jumped up and down or held their faces refusing to believe Smith and co. were right in front of them. No matter how old they were, everyone turned into 16 year old girls when they saw his nest of hair. Instantly, I was flooded with feelings of adoration, love, overwhelming, excitement, and disbelief. I was actually there watching one of my favorite bands playing before my eyes. Robert fucking Smith was right there with Simon fucking Gallup on the right of him. The man whose been in the band for a good period of time. The man behind epic bass riffs. He was there strutting his stuff like I’d seen him do so many times in concert videos.

The band started things off with the aptly named “Open,” which drew a great response from the crowd. They followed this with “Fascination Street,” sending the exciting mood over the top. As soon as that heavy bass riff rang out the cheers were so loud it almost drowned out the band. Surprisingly, they followed this with “Sleep When I’m Dead” from their 2008 LP. It was so unexpected because the record received mixed reviews and wasn’t their biggest success. I didn’t mind because it’s actually one of my favorites from the album. I was happy to hear that the band sounded even more wonderful than they do on the records. Robert sounded excellent both in terms of his singing and his guitar playing. And yes he was every bit as charming as he appears to be.

While some Cureheads may disagree, I thoroughly enjoyed the setlist. It was good mix of fan favorites, such as “Just Like Heaven” and “In Between Days,” along with deep cuts you would never dream of hearing, like “Play for Today,” “Want,” “alt.end,” and “Push.” They did a good job of pleasing younger and older fans in the crowd with some exclaiming “YES!” after each track. They performed at least one song from their albums, with the exception of Bloodflowers, Faith, and their debut. Still, I was able to hear some of my favorites live like “The Walk,” “Pictures of You,” and “Lullaby,” which I will never forget.

For the most part Smith was very reserved, just singing the songs and quietly saying “Thank you.” (Yes, my heart did swell when he said it). He finally loosened up around “Close to Me” when he started doing his little dance moves, which caused a lot of screams from fans. This prompted him to keep dancing into “Hot! Hot! Hot!” I cooed as he wiggled and shook on stage. He smiled from the reaction as if to say “I knew that’s what you wanted.” Something I had seen on so many concert films was finally happening in front of me! The best and most unexpected part came when Smith pulled out a harmonica launched into “Bananafishbones.” I was beside myself even though the rest of the crowd seemed to be confused as to what was going on. It’s something they don’t perform that often and one I would never guess to hear live.

Well known songs like “Friday I’m in Love” and “Lovesong” prompted huge sing-a-longs. It was so loud you couldn’t even hear the band anymore. It was one of those moments where it didn’t matter if you were young or old; you bonded with everyone. Another crowd favorite was “A Forest.” As soon as that gloomy riff started people were beside themselves. I heard cries of “What?!” and “Oh my god!” and they hadn’t fully launched into the song. “Wrong Number” also got a huge response, particularly when Smith began to say “Hello? Hello?” It seemed like he had a lot of fun as the crowd screamed and shouted “Hello!” Of course a Cure show wouldn’t be complete without “One Hundred Years.” It was massive, epic, and amazing to hear thousands of people shout “It’s doesn’t matter if we all die.” This was a song I’ve heard thousands of times, but hearing it live made it even sweeter.

Sadly, the band ended early with “End.” I believe they were supposed to do an encore, but due to Social Distortion going over their time, we got jipped. Robert didn’t even say good night, but I think he was expecting to come back out to say it then, but was told they had to end due to curfew. But fans still waited, hoping he would come back out. They even began to chant “Boys don’t cry! Boys don’t cry!” to lure him back out – no luck. Of course I didn’t want it to end, but I was immensely happy. I waited a long time to see The Cure and it was worth it. The setlist was long and expansive and Smith was every bit as charming full of quirks and all.

For my very first festival I really enjoyed it. There was some great music and cool little events to check out. There were a ton of people there, but somehow I dealt with it. A lot of them were pretty chill even when it came to show time. It was great to hear everyone’s excitement to see and heart one of their favorite bands. Hearing their cheers made me smile because sometimes fans get hung up on the songs that aren’t played, rather than enjoying the fact they’re seeing someone they admire. It was also cool to see a whole bunch of alternative people come together and listen to some awesome music. Would I go again? I would have to say yes. But for now I’ll lie and think about how I finally saw The Cure and it was majestic.

ChasethislightRelease Year: 2007

Rating: 8/10

Jimmy Eat World is a staple in the pop-punk world. Their songs are catchy, fun, upbeat, and at times somber. Things don’t change on this album. While there may not be as many stand out songs as on their previous release, the entire record is something you can leave on and not mind any track that plays. Some of the songs make you feel good while others make you want to give Jim Adtkins a hug. Either way it’s a great album to get to know.

Things kick off on the right track with “Big Casino.” As with most of the songs found here, this one is catchy. The high pitched trilling guitars and the energetic music gets you pumped for the rest of the album. It seems to be about enjoying life and not giving it up, which is what this song makes you want to do. “Let It Happen” starts off with a really light and melodic guitar before growing distorted and heavy during the chorus. What’s notable here is how the line “Cause I can laugh it off/I can laugh it off” comes to life when Adtkins quietly sings “Ha ha ha ha ha.” It’s something so subtle that really makes the song pop. It then ends on the same soft note it started on. Their both great tracks that show why the band is well loved.

A mellow acoustic guitar introduces “Carry You,” a bittersweet track about not living up to someone’s expectations. During the lyrics, Adtkins comes off snide in his own way, especially when he sings lines like “I’m not your anything.” Though the song may not be the happiest, it’s nothing compared to “Gotta be Somebody’s Blues.” This track is downright bleak. The music is somber and the additional string instruments add a lot of tension to the mood. The musical build up here is great; it really keeps the listener on edge and delivers when the drums come in. You feel everything the song is trying to get across even before the lyrics start. It’s one of the best songs on the record because it shows a different side to the band.

But they don’t keep the gloomy mood for long. One of the most upbeat and fun songs on the LP is “Electable (Give It Up).” The fast pace, simple repetitive chorus, and the energy all make you get up and start moving. It just one of those songs that puts you in a good mood whenever you hear it. “Feeling Lucky” also keeps the upbeat nature going though the lyrics seem a little self-deprecating: “Waiting for the line to move a foot, yeah/Wasting my life on nothing good/Suck that lucky feeling right outta me.” “Here it Goes” takes more influence from pop music. There’s no other way to describe the music aside from happy. Still, just like so many other tracks it’s really catchy and gets you dancing before you know it.

The album ends on a bit of a sad note with “Dizzy.” It’s a slower song that still manages to have some intense moments. It seems to be about the end of a relationship, but what makes it notable is how Adtkins sounds fed up and angry rather than sad. As far as break up songs go it’s a nice change of pace. Also, employing these feelings puts a lot of passion and feeling behind the vocals that makes you appreciate the song more. It may not be the most positive song on the album, but it’s still an interesting way to end things.

Overall, the album gets 8/10. Just as with their previous efforts, the band manages to make another record that’s great from start to finish. All sides of Jimmy Eat World can be found here: from their light poppy sound to their downright depressing nature. Though things can get a little gloomy, the guys make sure to have lots of energetic music that gets fans going. With so many great albums under their belt, it’s difficult for new fans to know where to start. I would say this is as good as any.

512_Garth_Brooks_Black_Hat_FINAL

While I’m not a huge country music fan, it’s something I can tolerate depending on the artist. One of them is Garth Brooks. Since my mom is a long time fan, I know a lot of his songs from my childhood. Still, I didn’t know what to expect when seeing him in concert. Was he just going to be standing there in his cowboy hat strumming his guitar? Well, he did have the hat, but he did much more than stand there. Brooks was anything but boring as he ran, hopped, and skipped across the stage all while singing. He had an abundance of energy, which made fans go wild. It’s been a little over ten years since he’s been on stage and he was clearly excited to be back. Even though he’s been making music since the early ’90s, he stood in awe as the sold out crowd sang every word back to him. There were even times where he got emotional, mentioning how his fans waited for him to return to music. There was also a lot of confetti making it a true celebration of his comeback.

Not only was Brooks entertaining, charming, and funny, he sounded even better than the record. There were a few technical glitches with the microphone, but he sounded on point and in tune on every track. What I really enjoyed is how he still had the same band and back up singers he did 25 years ago. Some of the faces I recognized from his live videos and seeing them stick with him shows there’s a deeper bond between them. The only bad thing about the show was the length. Since it was the early show (wasn’t aware there was a late one) it was cut short to the disappointment of everyone in the arena. Though Brooks did run through his biggest hits like” Thunder Rolls,” “Friends in Low Places,” and “Baton Rouge,” there were still a lot of material the early crowd missed out on. Despite this, it was a good time. Brooks remained genuine throughout. Never once did it feel like he was on stage for superficial reasons. He was obviously thankful for all the fans who came out and really happy to be back on the road. Nothing puts a smile on your face like seeing an artist actually having a good time on stage. I never thought I would go to a country music concert, but I had a good time. Brooks put on a great show and it was amazing to see so many fans psyched for his return. It’s definitely one show I won’t forget soon.

fix_poster_9-1Release Year: 2011

Rating: 8/10

Ministry is a notable band, especially when it comes to industrial music, which they helped to popularize. But like any long lasting group they’ve had their share of problems, which are captured on this film. If you were looking for a history of the band or footage of them having fun backstage before rocking out live you’re in for a surprise. While it does show the guys backstage this film digs into the crazy, unbelievable mind of Al Jourgensen.

Right from the beginning, the movie makes it clear this won’t be a happy story when then drummer Reynolds Washam talks about the “rock star” treatment that was missing from their 1996 SpincTour. It then cuts to a clip of Al Jourgensen in a viking helmet screaming his lungs out. From there, several artists, such as Trent Reznor, Lenny Kilmister, and Maynard Keenan, talk about how Ministry has influenced their own musical endeavors. There are even some bits from the band’s record label at the time and how they were signed and what they thought of the music. Somewhere between these interviews and various clips of the band on stage, it turns into a showcase for how crazy Jourgensen is.

The frontman isn’t shy about expressing his displeasure with touring. He goes on about the people who want to use and abuse you and that the best part about making music is the actual recording of it. He also talks about why record companies suck and how life on the road is tough, especially when you’re sharing a bus with five other guys. He said the same thing about touring in his book that came out last year and as a fan it’s a little heartbreaking to hear. You always want to think the band you’re seeing live is having a good time and when you learn they’re not, you just wonder why they keep going. It’s the same thing with Jourgensen. Throughout the film he’ll address the fans as idiots and various other names making you wonder why he even tours anymore. But this isn’t the most shocking footage. That comes when Al’s drug use is highlighted.

Anyone who has followed the band knows Jourgesen doesn’t hide his substance issues and the same goes for this film. Not only does he openly talk about why he does it, he even shoots up several times in front of the camera. Nothing is left to the imagination as he burns a spoon for another hit of heroin. Spliced between these clips are shots of Dave Navarro and Casey Chaos talking about their behavior on drugs, which is parallel to the way Jourgensen acts. Another thing you learn about the frontman is he is super paranoid. There are shots of him backstage trying on bullet proof vests because he thinks someone is out to get him. There’s even a point where he explains why he wears a top hat (so no one can aim for his skull) and how he has one for everyone in the band. Again, it makes you question whether he should continue to play live if he thinks someone is going to assassinate him.

There are several points in the film that become uncomfortable. Most of them are the shooting up scenes already mentioned, but another one shows Al sticking his dick in a cooked chicken. Try to process that for a minute. It’s not the first or the last time his junk makes an appearance. There’s also a scene where he talks about how groupies are supposed to be handled that’s kind of disgusting. After you’ve seen yet another clip of Jourgensen taking drugs you begin to wonder if the real point of the film was to show the disintegration of the rock star. Whatever the point it’s something you won’t forget anytime soon.

Overall, the film gets 8/10. There’s no doubt the movie is interesting. There are some light-hearted scenes of the guys goofing around backstage, but the entire thing is tinted by Jourgensen’s issues. He comes off as a crazy guy who should be standing on the corner talking about the end of the world most of the time. He’s paranoid, superstitious, and full of drug problems (at least he was in this film). Hearing him talk about touring and his reasons for not doing certain songs is disheartening for fans and leaves you wondering why he even bothers to continue if he hates it so much. It’s an eye opening film that takes you into the mind of the Ministry frontman.