I have SO MUCH I want to talk about.  My spring cleaning and reorganizing has completely swallowed my blogging time. I’ve moved things, I’ve moved them again. I’ve bought things, tried things, had thoughts. I have taken notes on all of these thoughts, but haven’t had time to actually write up posts on them.  As I sit to write this post, the end is in sight. (Yay!)

But, rather than talking about learning things, today I’m going to talk about my most recent concert adventure, while it’s all still pretty fresh in my mind. (Will post a spattering of pics, but the entire album can be found on the facebook page if you want to see it, here: Against Me! @ the Starland Ballroom)

This past Friday, Against Me! was at the Starland Ballroom. OMG! YES! – is basically what my brain said the moment it saw that was happening. I bought my ticket pretty much as soon as it was announced. There are weeks times that I can put Against Me! on my ipod shuffle and listen to nothing but for a week straight.  That said, I’m not a good band fan. I love the music. I very rarely get around to learning the musicians’ names, biographies, what instruments they play… I know a bit of that stuff for Against Me!, but there were still some really cool discoveries. I’ll get back to that. Let’s do this in order of appearance:

1. Annie Girl & The Flight

Annie Girl. How cool is she!? And I kind of dig her guitar, too.

Who doesn’t love female rockers? I mean, really? You would have to have no soul.  You never have high expectations for an opening act. Generally, almost everyone in the room is going in blind.

Guys, I am telling you, Annie Girl & the Flight was GOOD. As in, I didn’t really have much cash on me to prevent my spending it, but I will probably be buying some next payday.

Now, one of the things that I admit was cool for me with this is something weird and subtle. There aren’t a lot of female leads in rock music. There are a good number, but the vast majority are all the same ‘type’. They tend to have voices on the deeper end of the spectrum. That’s not a bad thing, but it means that the overall sound doesn’t stray very far from the male vocal range we’re all used to hearing.  It kind of creates a mental space where it seems as if the higher vocal range more typical in say – pop music – maybe doesn’t suit rock n’roll as well.

Annie Girl is in that higher vocal range, and she rocks out just fine. It was pretty cool to see, especially back to back with the following acts – Frank Iero and Laura Jane Grace both have voices pretty much on the exact opposite end of the sound spectrum, so it created a really interesting contrast.

I always find myself trying to check out equipment these days, and from that have recently noticed that most of my favorite bands favor Gibson over Fender. That’s actually expected when you’ve got heavier rock, but I think historically Fender has been more popular in punk. Maybe that’s just pop punk. I need to start paying more attention to that sort of thing.  In any case, I THINK both of the guitars in this band were Gibsons – I definitely saw a Les Paul on the far end of the stage. Annie’s Guitar I think may also have been a gibson, but I couldn’t quite get a good enough look to be sure. It looked like a nice, small guitar. I’d kind of like to know what guitar it is, so if anyone reading this can identify it, I’d be curious to look up the specs.

That said, the bassist here was playing a Fender Jazz bass.  That was pretty interesting, too, as I think in the punk genre P-basses have always been more popular.  She seemed to use a pick for almost the entire set, but there were a few points where I saw her play fingerstyle. I still can’t used to using a pick with my bass. It just feels really cumbersome.  I didn’t see much palm muting going on, so it makes me wonder why make the choice for pick over fingerstyle for bass when you’re not using any techniques (at least none that my inexperienced eyes could see) that would cause you to favor one over the other.  I guess at that point it’s all about the sound you prefer.  I’m still not sold on picks being necessary for punk. Yeah, the sound is different, but I don’t think I’d necessarily claim it’s better for the genre, just typical of the genre. Hmm…something for me to stew on, in any case.

2. Frank Iero and the Cellebration

Frank Iero

Okay, so, I knew very little about Frank Iero going in. I knew he was part of My Chemical Romance, a band I like one or two songs by, but never really got into. When My Chemical Romance hit, it didn’t hit with my generation. I had a few friends about ten years younger that loved them. So, I did not realize until I was on line waiting for doors that he’s incredibly popular among…high schoolers. Holy crap, there were a LOT of high schoolers. My mental eyes were rolling hearing conversations about how they’re “older” now that they’re in 10th.  Like, OMG, No waiii!’ (I’m being silly here. I don’t actually think 10th graders sound like that.)  My favorite comical teenager quote of the evening was, waiting on line out side, the girl who touched the side of the building and bubbled “Frank is INSIDE THIS BUILDING! RIGHT NOW! How do I contain my excitement?!’  Girl, seriously, try.

This had some advantages and disadvantages. The disadvantage was that it left me with a distinct feeling that there were more fans for the opening act than fans for Against Me! in the audience.  You’ve always got to cringe a little when that happens. On the other hand, that would be an advantage for me as all the teens would likely move back from the stage and I’d get a better view when Against Me! did come on. And, even so, with the crowd being predominantly teenagers, that also meant A LOT OF SHORT PEOPLE. Yes!!!! The chances of me getting stuck behind godzilla were exponentially smaller at this show than they were at the Slash show. Selfish, yes. But reality check, people are selfish, and I wanted to be able to see.

As usual I got stuck beside one of those ‘omg, I am GOING TO TOUCH HIS HAND’ types. And why the hell all the high schoolers felt the need to cheer for every single ihop advertisement between sets, I have no idea, but it got old fast.

Anyway, back to the actual set. I’ve prefaced. I’ve never been a my chemical romance fan, particularly. So, while I was going into the set with an open mind, I was predictably less than wowed. They put on a good set, I suppose, but there wasn’t really a lot going on sonically that I found nearly as exciting as the rest of the audience did. I was, however, directly in front of the bassist, and there was some really interesting stuff going on on that corner of the stage.

First of all, that is a gorgeous bass…

First of all- that bass! Holy hell that is a NICE looking bass.  Given the fact he’s wearing a shoulder pad, I’m also guessing it probably weighs a ton. That doesn’t mean I can’t ogle it from afar, though. 🙂

Now, this guy played the bass like it was a guitar. That’s something I haven’t really seen (or at least haven’t noticed) before. Lots of chord shapes. Lots of power chord shapes. Very little playing of single notes.  Oddly, this may actually be part of the reason I had trouble getting into the set. It’s not that that’s bad, and it’s not that I dislike it, particularly, but it seemed a bit as if the bass lines didn’t hit your chest quite as hard with this playing style. Maybe I’m crazy. He was definitely pretty cool. He definitely had the skill.  Maybe it was that the songs weren’t really speaking to me (and they’re obviously not meant to, if the prime audience for this band is in high school, so that’s by no means an insult. Even so, I can’t lie and say I love a band when I’m basically just watching the bassist as a learning experience and not paying much mind to the rest of what’s going on on stage).

Speaking of the rest of what’s going on on stage, Frank positions himself sideways to the mic, which meant for 95% of the set, anyone on the right side of the stage was just staring at his back (he has a nice looking guitar, too, but I couldn’t get any pictures of it because, yeah, all I got to really see was his cardigan-wearing shoulders. Speaking of that, when I wasn’t watching the bassist, the only thing I was really thinking was ‘Aren’t you hot? I’m melting just looking at you!’ lol.

Toward the end of the set, he brought his kids on stage, which was pretty cute. Apparently, which I didn’t know, he’s a local, which is another reason I want to like him more than I actually do, but it can’t be helped. He’s got plenty of fans. He’s not hurting any over the likes of me, anyway. Just not to my taste.

3. Against Me! (!!!!! 😀 )

There are better pictures of the facebook page, but this is the only one I got of the entire stage.

As expected, a lot of the crowd cleared out of the front once Frank Iero’s set was over. I couldn’t get all the way up to the barrier, but I did take the opportunity to rest one hand on it, so that I wouldn’t get pushed out of my spot. That ended up being an advantage once things got rolling (I guess most of the Against Me fans came later), because I literally got shoved right into it. A) Rude B) Thank you, mysterious rude person. My view just got MUCH better. lol.

AND, the tall guy in the center at the barrier left, which meant I was actually able to see for the entire set. The bassist disappeared from view a few times, but I could actually see almost the entire stage. YES!

They opened with ‘I was a teenage anarchist’ and that really got the crowd going. It was a truly great set. I really don’t think anything more needs to or can be said about that. But, I learned that you really can play any kind of guitar for any genre of music when I noticed that for the majority of the set, Laura Jane Grace was playing a semi hollow guitar (looked like maybe a jazz guitar – with the fat lower body and the …I think it’s called dobro-style tailpiece?? (excuse my lack of education if I’m describing this wrong).  I don’t think I’ve ever seen a semi-hollow guitar at any rock show before, let alone a punk show, so that was really pretty interesting, especially since I prefer lightweight guitars, knowing that it’s possible (I suspect with creative use of amps and distortion?) to make them produce a sound that suits the genre. There was also a solid body pulled out a few times. I was trying to identify that one, too, but I couldn’t. It looked like it might have been a telecaster, but I’m not positive.

Does it make me weird that I loved how well-loved the guitars they were using looked? faded, paint chipping off in a few places… I don’t know, there’s something about seeing a rocker play a well-worn  guitar that just seems right – like they’re working on growing old together, or something.

All said, it was a really awesome show. Discovered a new band, fell in love again with an old favorite.  Next week, I’m planning to head into New Brunswick for the New Eyes for the Needy benefit at Tumulty’s Pub. A Halo Called Fred will be playing, and some other bands I’ve never heard of, so I might have something interesting to say after that. I’ve already talked about Halo, but I have absolutely no information on the other bands on the advertisement, so I’m keeping a totally open mind on what to expect.  After that, the next music thing will be the Blues and Brews Fest in July.

Until Next time – rocking out, having lots of thoughts – lots of learning things to talk about…if I can only find enough time to talk about them, with!

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