Friday, July 21, 2017

Hair Band Friday - 7/24/17

1.  "My Michelle" by Guns N' Roses

2.  "My Generation" by Gorky Park

3.  "Bits And Pieces" by Nelson

4.  "Love Bites" by Def Leppard

5.  "Tell The World" by Ratt

6.  "Hole Hearted" by Extreme

7.  "Creepshow" by Skid Row

8.  "Runaround" by Van Halen

9.  "Rock and Roll Ain't Noise Pollution" by AC/DC

10.  "Sweet Sister Mercy" by Lynch Mob

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Retro Video of the Week: "Paradise City" by Guns N' Roses

Apologies for not posting a Tuesday Top Ten yesterday.  I was busy from 7 a.m. to midnight, which is always pleasant.  As an olive branch, I extend to you an article my friend Hess sent me, entitled "Remember That 2004 Episode of 'The O.C.' Where They Go to L.A. and Meet Paris Hilton? We Do."  I do, too, and the article is a fantastic recap of a great episode in what some would call the greatest teen drama ever made.  The layers of meta awareness in that episode are thick and plentiful.

Speaking of L.A., Friday marks an important anniversary -- 30 years since Guns N' Roses released their megahit debut album Appetite for Destruction.  I would argue that Appetite is the greatest debut album in rock history, and apparently consumers agree with me, since it is the best-selling debut album in music history, selling 18 million copies in the U.S. alone and about 30 million worldwide.

Appetite's importance cannot be understated.  It was raw, it was powerful, it was rock and fucking roll.  I remember buying the tape at Phar-Mor.  Somehow, my mom let me buy it, even though it had a "parental advisory" sticker on it and featured five skulls on a cross.  Maybe it was because the cross wasn't upside down.  Either way, it was allowance money well spent.  Hearing "It's So Easy" -- and it's "why don't you just fuck off!" -- for the first time was an eye opener for a prepubescent suburban lad, but I absolutely loved it.  And then, there was the artwork on the inner sleeve, showing what appears to be a flying robot dragon with knives for teeth about to exact revenge on a skeleton with a gun attached to his head who just raped a blindfolded woman.  I still don't quite understand what's going on there.

But I digress.  There is not a bad song on Appetite, and it spawned some of GNR's most beloved and well-known songs:  "Sweet Child O' Mine," "Welcome to the Jungle," "Paradise City," and "Nightrain," to name a few, not to mention "Mr. Brownstone," "It's So Easy," "My Michelle," and my personal favorite, "Rocket Queen."  I'm going with "Paradise City" because it's an awesome song and a classic "on the road" video.  The song became the band's third Top Ten hit in a row off of the album, clocking in at #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 (following "Welcome to the Jungle" (#7) and "Sweet Child O' Mine" (#1)). And even squares recognize that iconic chorus. If you say "take me down to the Paradise City" and someone doesn't respond "where the grass is green and the girls are pretty," you have my permission to walk away, head to the nearest Sam Goody, purchase a copy of Appetite, and then return to your original location and provide said copy of Appetite to that person, making it imperative on him or her to listen to the album repeatedly until all songs are memorized. That will assure such a shameful occurrence never again happens.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Hair Band Friday - 7/14/17

1.  "No One Like You" by Scorpions

2.  "Say Your Prayers" by BulletBoys

3.  "Hellion" (live) by W.A.S.P.

4.  "Cathedral" by Van Halen

5.  "Warheads" by Extreme

6.  "Waiting For Darkness" by Ozzy Osbourne

7.  "Gettin' Better" (live) by Tesla

8.  "If You Don't Like It" by Cinderella

9.  "Hiway Nights" by Great White

10.  "Love Is On The Way" by Saigon Kick

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Retro Video of the Week: "Symphony of Destruction" by Megadeth

Twenty-five years ago this Friday, Megadeth released the Countdown to Extinction album, which ended up being the band's most successful studio album, going double platinum in the U.S. and getting all the way up to #2 on the Billboard album charts.  It is generally recognized as being in the upper echelon of thrash metal albums. This is particularly timely for me, as I will be seeing Megadeth this Friday at Chicago Open Air, where they will presumably (and hopefully) play "Symphony of Destruction," which was on Countdown to Extinction and is their only song to chart on the Billboard Hot 100 (#71).  Like many of Dave Mustane's songs, "Symphony of Destruction" is has sociopolitical themes and kickass guitars.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Tuesday Top Ten: All 213 Beatles Songs Ranked

I don't have time to write my own Tuesday Top Ten this week, but thankfully my friend Chenandler Bong -- excuse me, Ms. Chenandler Bong -- sent me a link to a recent article on MSN/Vulture entitled "All 213 Beatles Songs Ranked, From Worst to Best."  It says it's written by Bill Wyman, but I'm not sure if that's the same Bill Wyman who was the bass player for the Rolling Stones for 30+ years.  As you may recall, back in 2010, Rolling Stone magazine issued its list of the top ten Beatles songs, which prompted me to provide my own list of my ten favorite Beatles songs.  

Here are Wyman's Top Ten:
10.  "Rain"
9.  "Eleanor Rigby"
8.  "Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown")
7.  "Here, There, and Everywhere"
6.  "Dear Prudence"
5.  "Please Please Me"
4.  "She Loves You"
3.  "Penny Lane"
2.  "Strawberry Fields Forever"
1.  "A Day In the Life"

It's not a bad top ten, but music is quite subjective, and different Beatles songs resonate more with some than others.  You certainly can't fault the top two songs.  After that, I'd say his top ten is, well, not what I would have gone with.  "Dig A Pony" was tied for #4 on my list, and it came in at #209 on Wyman's list, so clearly I don't agree with everything in Wyman's list. The fact that "Revolution #9" isn't ranked #213 (and that Wyman thinks there are about 100 Beatles songs worse than that one) is a bit of a surprise.  Regardless, it's a really detailed and insightful list, even if I don't agree with all of the rankings.  It's a good read for any Beatles fan.

Saturday, July 08, 2017


Today, one of my oldest friends turns the big 3-9.  It wasn't always a guarantee that Dan would make it to this age.  Despite growing up in an idyllic middle/upper-middle class suburb, Dan's upbringing was different than the rest of ours.  Victorian houses, big side yards, and basketball hoops in the driveway surrounded Dan's family's plot of land on all sides, but his family decided to make use of the land, tearing down the large five bedroom house with a finished basement and putting up a small, three-room shack.  That gave them plenty of room to turn the yard into a turnip farm.

Despite being a partner at an AmLaw 50 law firm, deep down, Dan's dad was hurting.  Still reeling from the beatings he suffered at the hands of the Taylor Street Gang as a youngster on the South Side, he was upwardly mobile, but fiercely protective and prone to bouts of paranoia.  Ignoring the FBI's warnings, he would pirate movies, copying nearly every film in All-Star Video's catalog onto VHS -- sometimes three movies to a tape.  "That way, no one will ever know what movies I watch more than once," he would proudly say.  He would get eaten by a pack of wolves when Dan was 10, leaving Dan's mom to care for Dan and his two sisters, Penny and Kath, as well as their mentally disabled dalmatian, Sparky, who spent most of his days performing autofellatio.

Dan -- or Patches, as he preferred to be called -- was an earnest boy.  If you did something nice for him, you were bound to get a "thanky" in return.  Of course, he was subject to some ribbing at school, on account of his ragged clothes, the ax scar on his forehead, and his inability to correct pronounce "Detroit."  "DET-roit," he would say, the second syllable almost an afterthought.  He would also refer to having a bowel movement as "taking a bum."

Every morning before he went to school, he would tend the turnip field, picking up the dung left behind by Sparky, mashing it with his bare hands, and spreading it on the field.  Man, that dog shit a lot -- both in frequency and volume -- but that only helped fertilize the crops.

Dan's hard work on the turnip field helped lead Dan to success on the athletic field.  He became the starting tight end on the conference champion freshman B football team at our high school, earning him a full academic scholarship to the University of Wisconsin, from which he graduated in four years with a 4.0 GPA and degrees in physical education, philosophy (with a concentration in nihilism), and physics.  Six years ago, he achieved every man's dream when he married a doctor.

On Thursday morning, I received a string of text messages from Dan, and I'd like to share them with you now (with some names changed):
So short version . . . .Dream last night was about our high school.  Last days of school.  After many weird things I ended up at Gail Stanwyk's [a girl we went to grade school through high school with, who is not a baker] bakery with many sorta girls from HS.  Anyhow after earlier in the dream I was extremely popular due to a song that I composed and sang and Gail was interested in me.  You appeared and were interested in Gail.She chose me (again extremely short version) after your attempts at resting your head on her back didn't succeed.  You left very upset.She needed to close up the shop before we were probably going to hook up so I went over to your mom's house to console you.Your mom let me in and told me you were upset.  So naturally you were on a Nordic Track and while upset you understood by telling me to "earn this" and to "get your fuckfest on this summer."I left very confident that I would.This was about 3% of the total dream.
You deserve every fuckfest you get this summer, in dreams and in real life.  Happy 39th, buddy.  This one's for you.

Friday, July 07, 2017

Hair Band Friday - 7/7/17

1.  "Bark At The Moon" by Ozzy Osbourne

2.  "Wild In The Streets" by Bon Jovi

3.  "Too Young To Fall In Love" (demo) by Mötley Crüe 

4.  "Hell On Wheels" by Cinderella

5.  "Sometimes She Cries" by Warrant

6.  "Reach For Me" by Jackyl

7.  "One Way Ticket" by L.A. Guns

8.  "Ptolemy" by Blue Murder

9.  "Heaven's Trail (No Way Out)" (live) by Tesla

10.  "Kick 'n' Fight" by Britny Fox

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Retro Video of the Week: "Touch of Grey" by Grateful Dead

In a timely coincidence, given The Dead & Company's two-night stand at Wrigley Field this past weekend, thirty years ago tomorrow, the Grateful Dead released their twelfth studio album, In the Dark.  The album sparked a rejuvenation for the band.  They hadn't released a studio album since 1980, and In the Dark ended up going double platinum, getting up to #6 on the Billboard album charts -- the band's highest-charting album.  Much of the album's success is traced to the surprise hit "Touch of Grey."  The song didn't really sound like anything else on the radio in 1987, although it sounds very Dead-esque and could be on pretty much any of their other albums and fit in.

"Touch of Grey" is catchy as hell.  That memorable sing-along chorus -- "I will get by / I will survive" -- definitely captured the essence of how the flower-power Boomers must have felt as they entered their 40s in Reagan's America.  The song marched all the way up to #9 on the Billboard Hot 100, which is still the Grateful Dead's only Top 40 hit.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Retro Video of the Week: "Think I'm In Love" by Eddie Money

This was a tough week for Retro Video of the Week because there were more than a handful of pretty solid albums released this week 20, 25, 30, and 35 years ago, including Eddie Money's No Control (1982), Men Without Hats's Pop Goes the World (1987), the soundtrack to the movie Singles (1992), The Prodigy's The Fat of the Land (1997), Puffy Daddy's No Way Out (1997), and, of course, Cherry Poppin' Daddies' Zoot Suit Riot (1997).  There's a lot to choose from in there, but I'm going with the Money Man.

No Control was Eddie Money's fourth studio album, eventually going platinum.  It featured two songs that charted on the Billboard Hot 100 -- "Shakin'" (#63) and "Think I'm In Love" (#16), the latter of which was Money's fourth Top 40 hit in the U.S. and second-highest charting song to that point, behind 1978's "Baby Hold On" (#11).  "Think I'm In Love" is a great, catchy early '80s rock song, featured years later in the David Spade/Brittany Daniel vehicle Joe Dirt, which itself featured one of my favorite movie lines of all-time, uttered by Christopher Walken's character (Clem) to Kid Rock's character (Robby):  "Hey! You're talkin' to my guy all wrong.  It's the wrong tone.  Do it again, and I'll stab you in the face with a soldering iron."  Who has a soldering iron readily accessible anymore?!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Tuesday Top Ten: Hold Steady Songs By Album

Father's Day weekend was a good one for me, as I got to go to three awesome shows in four days.  Oh, and I guess I also got to spend time with my lovely wife and children, without whom I wouldn't be a father, as far as I know.  That Thursday night, I saw The Hold Steady at Thalia Hall, followed by a night off, followed by another Hold Steady show at the Empty Bottle Saturday night, and capped off with a Metallica Father's Day show at Soldier Field.  All three concerts were fantastic in their own way, but I'm here today to talk about The Hold Steady.

One of my favorite bands of the last 15 years (and period) is The Hold Steady.  I've been a fan since the Separation Sunday days, and according to my stats, I've seen THS 14 times -- nearly twice as many times as the runner-up, Def Leppard (who, coincidentally, I saw live this past Saturday).  Hell, I've even paid money (for a good cause) to have the drummer, Bobby Drake, over to my house to change my oil

The band played three nights in a row in Chicago as part of a "Chicago Seemed Wired Last Night" weekend (a nod to a lyric in the band's song "Chicago Seemed Tired Last Night").  The Thursday and Friday night shows were at Thalia Hall down in Pilsen.  As I mentioned, I went to the Thursday show.  I had never been to Thalia Hall, and I thought it was a pretty cool concert space (as most old theaters converted to concert halls tend to be). A couple superfans got engaged at the show.  Here's a picture -- not of the engagement, but of my general vantage point of the stage:
The Saturday night show was at The Empty Bottle, which is having a bunch of great bands play this year in celebration of the club's 25th anniversary.  If you've never been there, The Empty Bottle has a capacity of about 300 people, and it's a fantastically dingy rock club.  It's definitely the smallest venue in which I've ever seen The Hold Steady.  Because I'm in the fan club, I was able to score tickets in the presale, but apparently the show sold out in only a few minutes.  I was pretty damned excited about going, and the band didn't disappoint.  We were about five feet from the stage, on the side with keyboardist Franz Nicolay.  It was hot, and we were pounding Shiner Bocks and High Lifes to keep us hydrated.  During two of the songs, fans in the front row always throw confetti at a specific point in each song, and we were lucky enough to be part of the confetti mafia this time around.  Of course, we were so sweaty that when we threw the confetti in the air, half of it just stuck to our hands.  I was finding pieces of confetti on my body for the next day or two.
This concert was a top ten lifetime show, for sure, and maybe top five.  It was a show for the hardcore fans, and the band killed it.  By the end of the show, lead singer Craig Finn's bandmates had ripped the sleeves and the sides of his shirt right off.  During the last song, the band invited everyone up onto the very small stage.  It was a party and a hell of a fun time.  Here are a few more pictures and my video of Finn talking to the crowd during the intro of the last song ("Killer Parties"), right before everything got crazy, followed by someone else's video starting just about where mine left off, and finishing out "Killer Parties," showing you some confetti and the mess of people on stage. What a great show.

If you've never heard of The Hold Steady or if you've heard of them but never listened to their music, I highly recommend you check them out.  I suppose they would be described as indie rock, whatever the fuck that means, but I just consider them a rock and roll band.  I remember the first review of theirs that I read described them as being a band that you would like if you used to really be into AC/DC, but now you read a lot.  I've also seen them described as the best bar band in the world.  I'm not sure if either is totally accurate, but it paints a decent enough picture of what the band is all about.  Lead singer Craig Finn and guitarist Tad Kubler handle most of the songwriting, crafting intricate, amazing, Springsteen-esque stories about drugs, booze, strange characters, religion, Midwestern teenage life, growing up, and being past your prime.  I mean, who writes a concept album about the traveling partying exploits of a born-again hooker/addict named Hallelujah (her parents named her Holly), a pimp named Charlemagne, and a skinhead named Gideon?  The Hold Steady, that's who.

On top of that, they are one of the best live bands out there.  I've never seen them put on a bad show, and they always seem like they're having a good time.  When Craig Finn tells the crowd "there is so much joy in what we do up here" -- as he does at most shows -- you have to believe him.

But enough talking, let's get to the music.  I decided to pick my favorite song off of each of the six Hold Steady albums, along with another four wildcards.

Favorite song off of each album:
1.  "The Swish" (Almost Killed Me, 2004)
The first song off the band's debut album, Almost Killed Me, is called "Positive Jam," and it's kind of a plodding, Velvet Underground meets slam poetry meets grunge song with a '70s rock outro.  It makes sense if you hear it.  But that feeds into the second song on the album, "The Swish," which is a more of a straightforward rock song that would be a harbinger of things to come for the band.  It's a song with great guitars, a driving beat, and Finn's half-speaking, half-singing voice slinging random pop culture and geographic references set against a backdrop of drug abuse.

2.  "Banging Camp" (Separation Sunday, 2005)
The band's sophomore album, Separation Sunday, is the aforementioned concept album.  This was the first Hold Steady album I bought, and I was immediately taken aback by these strange, druggy stories about Catholicism.  It was also the first album where keyboardist Franz Nicolay was a full-time member of the band, and the piano and organ adds a fullness to the songs, really making the band sound like a demented, Midwestern modern version of the E Street Band.  Picking my favorite song off of this one was tough because there are several that are close to the top -- "Banging Camp," "Your Little Hoodrat Friend," and "How a Resurrection Really Feels."  Out of those, I'm going with "Banging Camp," just because I have to choose.  It's another great rocker, that sounds like if The Replacements played glam, produced by Phil Spector.  "I dig those awkward silences / 'Cause I grew up in denial / I went to school in Massachusetts."  I don't know why that line has always struck me as funny.

3.  "Massive Nights" (Boys and Girls in America, 2006)
This is my favorite Hold Steady song off of my favorite Hold Steady album.  With Boys and Girls in America, the band made an opus to the ups and downs of young love.  "Massive Nights" is about getting blasted and going to a school dance, with a groovy bassline, sneaky little organ snippets, and a raucous chorus that is meant to be sung at the top of one's lungs.  This is a great live song.

4.  "Constructive Summer" (Stay Positive, 2008)
Stay Positive is probably my second favorite Hold Steady album.  Top to bottom, it rocks.  And "Constructive Summer" kicks the album off on a great tone.  The song is a fast-paced rocker about drinking and building shit during the summer, probably. 

5.  "Hurricane J" (Heaven is Whenever, 2010)
Heaven Is Whenever was the first album the band made after Nicolay left the band.  I had expected it to be a little big harder, as a result, but it wasn't.  That's not to say it's a bad album, but I didn't like it as much as the previous albums.  "Hurricane J" is a song about a mess of a girl named Jessie.  As far as I know, it's not written about my wife, but I do enjoy referring to my wife, when drunk, as Hurricane Jessie.  I also like telling her, "You're a beautiful girl / And you're a pretty good waitress / Jessie, I don't think I'm the guy."

6.  "Spinners" (Teeth Dreams, 2014)
The band's most recent album, 2014's Teeth Dreams, was the first to feature second guitarist Steve Selvidge.  I like Teeth Dreams better than Heaven Is Whenever because it has more of an edge to it.  You can definitely tell the band was writing songs about darker themes about aging and being past your prime.  "Spinners" is an example, about a woman on the rebound who needs to get back out there in the big city, get drunk, and get laid -- but don't go overboard.

7.  "Killer Parties" (Almost Killed Me, 2004)
This is the last song on the band's first album, and it's usually the last song they play during live shows, turning it into an extended jam.  It's a Pixies-esque, slower, fuzzy song about, well, parties. This unofficial stop-motion animation video set to the song is also pretty nifty.

8.  "Your Little Hoodrat Friend" (Separation Sunday, 2005)
What a great song title.  It's another fascinating and rocking song off of Separation Sunday. I'm not sure why the sound is so soft on the video.

9.  "You Can Make Him Like You" (Boys and Girls in America, 2006)
A song about young love gone stale, with the hope that there are always other fish in the sea.  The first stanza is magnificent:  "You don't have to deal with the dealers / Let your boyfriend deal with the dealers / It only gets inconvenient / When you wanna get high alone." This is another unofficial video, which appears to have nothing to do with the actual song, but is nonetheless interesting.

10.  "Stuck Between Stations" (Boys and Girls in America, 2006)
This is the first song off of Boys and Girls in America, and the band often starts off shows with this one.  It's a clever, rollicking song.  I hate to make another Springsteen comparison, but this is Springsteen-esque in its sound, but uniquely Hold Steady in its lyrics.  "She was a really cool kisser / But she wasn't all that strict of a Christian / She was a damn good dancer / But she wasn't all that great of a girlfriend."  Things to think about when picking a mate, kids.

11.  "Ask Her For Her Adderall" (non-album track, 2008)
This is a bonus track on the Stay Positive album, and now it's a bonus track on this list.  I don't know why this didn't make the cut for the album, as it's a good, rocking song that would seem to have fit well on the album.  It's about a guy who's telling his friend what to tell his presumably ex-girlfriend or a hanger-on who wants to be his girlfriend.  "If she happens to suggest a love based on truth and respect / Tell her I've been wasted since last week."  That sums up most of my potentially serious college relationships, or lack thereof. This is another unofficial video, and it's also pretty good.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Retro Video of the Week: "Fade To Black" by Metallica

I was traveling yesterday, so I didn't have time to post a Tuesday Top Ten.  If I had, it would have been a link to an article sent to me on Father's Day by my friend Hess, entitled "13 of the Raddest Moments in Metal Songs That You Forgot Were Awesome."  While I'm not sure why it is assumed we all forgot these rad moments in these songs were awesome, it's still a good list with a wide spectrum of metal subgenres.

Keeping up with the metal theme, for this week's Retro Video of the Week, I have to go with a Metallica song because I saw them at Soldier Field on Sunday.  They were predictably awesome.  Lots of fire.  I'm going with the video of the live version of "Fade To Black," one of the many fantastic songs off of the band's sophomore album, Ride the Lightning -- which might be my favorite Metallica album (take that, St. Anger fans!).

Friday, June 16, 2017

Hair Band Friday - 6/16/17

1.  "Gypsy Road" by Cinderella

2.  "Close My Eyes Forever" by Lita Ford and Ozzy Osbourne

3.  "I'll Sleep When I'm Dead" by Bon Jovi

4.  "Rattlesnake Shake" by Mötley Crüe

5.  "Open Fire" by Y&T

6.  "Rocks Off" by Def Leppard

7.  "Metal Gods" by Judas Priest

8.  "Animal" by Vinnie Vincent Invasion

9.  "How Can You Do What You Do" by Mr. Big

10.  "That's Not Enough" by Slaughter

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Retro Video of the Week: "Dammit" by Blink-182

This Saturday will mark twenty years since Blink-182 released their sophomore album, Dude Ranch, which introduced most of us to the band, particularly with their second single off the album, "Dammit."  This is certainly my favorite Blink-182 song, and it kind of summed up the band's sound -- fun, catchy, punky, and lamenting life and growing up.  

My favorite memory involving "Dammit" goes back to my junior year in college.  One of my roommates, Jamie, was playing his guitar in our room during a party because that was a thing that frat guys did in the late '90s, and no one thought it was weird.  So he plays/sings "Dammit," and this chick in our room was like, "That song is really good.  Did you write that yourself?"  "Yeah," said Jamie, with a wry smile on his face.  Fish in a barrel.  God, I miss college.

Friday, June 09, 2017

Hair Band Friday - 6/9/17

1.  "Armageddon It" by Def Leppard

2.  "Tonight" by Ozzy Osbourne

3.  "She's Got Everything" by White Lion

4.  "Big City Nights" by Scorpions

5.  "I Want You" by Bon Jovi

6.  "Without You" (demo) by Mötley Crüe 

7.  "Danger" by Gorky Park

8.  "Anything Goes" by Guns N' Roses

9.  "California Girls" by David Lee Roth

10.  "Bed of Roses" by Warrant

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Retro Video of the Week: "Numb" by U2

After prodding from my friend Greg (as outlined in my lengthy call-and-response post a couple weeks about about U2 and the state of rock music), I ended up going to see U2 at Soldier Field after all -- although I did not spend the $400 Greg suggested I spend to buy a GA ticket, as I was offered one for face value.  I'll likely be posting about that separately, but in the meantime, it seemed like an appropriate time to use a U2 song as a Retro Video of the Week.  

Given that U2's tour is a 30th anniversary celebration of The Joshua Tree, you might expect that I'd go with a song off that album, but then again, I'm an enigma.  Instead of a depressing song about longing, deserts, not finding what you're looking for, or streets without names, I'm going with "Numb," off of the band's 1993 Zooropa album.  I always liked this song and its video.  In the '90s, U2 definitely had the mindset of pushing boundaries of weirdness ("Lemon," anyone?), and this is an example.  The song is a spoken-word piece by The Edge, telling us "don't" do various things, set to a riff that kind of reminds me of The Replacements' "Within Your Reach."  

The video is The Edge sitting in a chair, staring right into the camera for and "singing" the song, while his bandmates and various other people harass and physically abuse him.  Among other things, he gets smoke blown in his face, his ears and cheeks licked by two hot chicks, his face tied up with rope, and feet shoved in his face.  Every time I watch this video, I wonder how many takes it took to film because it's basically a one-shot take, with The Edge sitting there for a couple minutes at a time spouting out the words.  One chuckle or screw-up, and you have to start the whole damn thing over.  You can see him start to crack a smile at a couple points in the video, and if I was him, I would have been cracking up the entire time -- especially when that first foot crept onto my shoulder -- much to the chagrin of the director.  But if he gave me any shit, I'd be like, "You try not to laugh when water is dripping on your head, someone feeds you a spoon of yogurt, and then some overly exuberant kid slaps you in the face multiple times, bloke."  I assume he would call the director "bloke."

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Tuesday Top Ten: Creative Uses of the F-Bomb in Movie History

Between work, children, and wind sprints up and down my block wearing nothing but a wrestling singlet, I haven't had time to write a proper Tuesday Top Ten.  I'm really riling up the neighborhood dogs, though.  Anyway, the point is, I'm deceptively fast and conspicuously lazy.  For this week's Tuesday Top Ten, I decided to Google "top ten motherfuckers" and go with the article on the first page of results that most piqued my interest.  I was disappointed that there wasn't a list of friends of mine who are fathers, but I did skip over some pretty solid results to get to a post entitled "Top 10 Most Creative Uses of the F-Bomb in Movie History."  I love a good f-bomb, and this list has some good ones from some great movies.  En-fucking-joy.

Friday, June 02, 2017

Hair Band Friday - 6/2/17

1.  "The Joker" by Quiet Riot

2.  "Wild Side" by Mötley Crüe

3.  "Runnin' With The Devil" by Van Halen

4.  "Higher Ground" by Thunder

5.  "Dance" by Blue Murder

6.  "She Wants Money" by Ratt

7.  "Save Your Love" by Great White

8.  "Alibi" by Vandenberg

9.  "Hysteria" by Def Leppard

10.  "Something To Believe In" by Poison

Monday, May 29, 2017

NBA Finals Threepeat

So the NBA Finals are set.  Warriors vs. Cavs.  Again.  Game 1 tips off Thursday night in Oakland.  Once the Bulls are eliminated, I generally don't pay too much attention to the playoffs, but I'll watch the Finals.  And you know I love sports statistics, so let me drop some knowledge on you.

1. This is the third year in a row that the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers will be meeting in the finals.  This is the first time in NBA history that the same two franchises will meet in the finals for more than two years in a row.  In the three other major sports, the same teams have met in the finals only four times total, and the most recent time this happened was 1954 to 1956.  Here is when it has happened in the other major sports:

-New York Giants and New York Yankees (1921-1923)

-Canton/Cleveland Bulldogs and Chicago Bears (1922-1925)
-Cleveland Browns and Detroit Lions (1952-1954)

-Detroit Red Wings and Montreal Canadiens (1954-1956)

2.  Of course, if the Warriors and Cavs are meeting for the third year in a row, that means that both teams have played for the championship three years in a row.  Here is a list of all the teams in the major sports leagues (counting the ABA and AFL, too) that have played in at least three championship games/series in a row:

3 years in a row
-Houston Oilers (1960-1962)
-San Diego Chargers (1963-1965)

5 years in a row
-New York Yankees (1949-1953, 1960-1964)
4 years in a row
-New York Giants (1921-1924)
-New York Yankees (1936-1939, 1955-1958, 1998-2001)
3 years in a row
-Baltimore Orioles (1969-1971)
-Chicago Cubs (1906-1908)
-Detroit Tigers (1907-1909)
-New York Giants (1911-1913)
-New York Yankees (1926-1928, 1941-1943, 1976-1978)
-Philadelphia/Oakland Athletics (1929-1931, 1972-1974, 1988-1990)

10 years in a row
-Boston Celtics (1957-1966)

4 years in a row
-Boston Celtics (1984-1987)
-Los Angeles Lakers (1982-1985)
-Miami Heat (2011-2014)

3 years in a row
-Chicago Bulls (1991-1993, 1996-1998)
-Cleveland Cavaliers (2015-2017)
-Detroit Pistons (1988-1990)
-Golden State Warriors (2015-2017)
-Los Angeles/Minneapolis Lakers (1952-1954, 1968-1970, 1987-1989, 2000-2002, 2008-2010)
-New York Knicks (1951-1953)

6 years in a row
-Cleveland Browns (1950-1955)

4 years in a row
-Buffalo Bills (1991-1994)
-Chicago Bears/Staleys (1921-1924, 1940-1943)
-Green Bay Packers (1929-1932)

3 years in a row
-Canton/Cleveland Bulldogs (1922-1924)
-Chicago Bears (1932-1934)
-Detroit Lions (1952-1954)
-Green Bay Packers (1960-1962, 1965-1968)
-Los Angeles Rams (1949-1951)
-Miami Dolphins (1972-1974)
-New York Giants (1933-1935, 1961-1963)
-Philadelphia Eagles (1947-1949)

10 years in a row
-Montreal Canadiens (1951-1960)
5 years in a row
-Montreal Canadiens (1965-1969)
-New York Islanders (1980-1984)
4 years in a row
-Montreal Canadiens (1976-1979)
3 years in a row
-Detroit Red Wings (1941-1943, 1954-1956)
-Edmonton Oilers (1983-1985)
-Philadelphia Flyers (1974-1976)
-St. Louis Blues (1968-1970)
-Toronto Maple Leafs (1938-1940, 1947-1949, 1962-1964)

3.  The Warriors have set the NBA record by going 12-0 in their first three playoff series this year.  The Cavs are pretty close behind, going 12-1 thus far.  That means that both teams technically have the chance to equal or break the record for fewest losses in the playoffs since the NBA playoffs expanded to 16 teams in 1984.  Even if the series goes to 7 games, the most losses the winning team will have is four.  Here are the teams since 1984 that have lost four or fewer games in the playoffs, starting with the best record (note that the first round was changed from a best-of-5 to a best-of-7 format in 2003):
15-1 (.938):  2001 Los Angeles Lakers
15-2 (.882):  1989 Detroit Pistons; 1991 Chicago Bulls; 1999 San Antonio Spurs
15-3 (.833):  1986 Boston Celtics; 1987 Los Angeles Lakers; 1996 Chicago Bulls
16-4 (.800):  2007 San Antonio Spurs
15-4 (.789):  1985 Los Angeles Lakers; 1997 Chicago Bulls; 2002 Los Angeles Lakers
11-4 (.733):  1989 Los Angeles Lakers*
*Swept first three rounds before being swept in the Finals

4.  LeBron James has been to seven NBA Finals in a row (and eight overall), which is insane.  Of course, he only has three rings to show for it.  You know who never lost an NBA Finals?  Michael Jordan.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Thoughts on The State of Rock

Today is the 50th anniversary of the release of The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album, arguable the most important album in rock and roll history.  It transformed rock and roll from music to art, ushered in the psychedelic era, and influenced thousands of contemporary and future musicians.

Kiss drummer Peter Criss recently declared that "rock 'n' roll is over."  Other rock stars have echoed those sentiments.  Frankly, I don't think rock and roll is dead or over.  You just have to know where to find it.  But Criss's comment did get me thinking about the future of rock and roll.  

In a timely coincidence, as he is occasionally wont to do, my good friend Greg Weeser* sent me a long email about the state of rock and roll, prompted by seeing U2 at the Rose Bowl last weekend.  Back in our younger days, we would exchange long emails about rock music from time to time.  And when I started this here blog, I would post our exchanges, or at least my response to his emails.  (Once such instance is a fascinating read from November 2009 about U2 and Foo Fighters.)

But anywho, here is Greg's email (with a few identifying details changed and some paragraphs chopped up) and my response.  Greg's email will be in yellow, and my response will be in non yellow.  This will be a long one.  Enjoy.

Yo. Been too long since a download on your thoughts on music..

Yeah, man.  I've been here.

So, I saw U2 last night at the Rose Bowl for the "Joshua Tree" tour.  Absolutely amazing, and you'd be a fool not to pony up the $400 for General Admission floor seats for the Soldier Field show in two weeks.  

Unlikely.  I have seen U2 before, and chances are, they will be through town again, preferably in a setting where I won't have to pay $400 to see them.  There are only two bands I have paid that much money to see:  GNR last summer in the front row at Soldier Field, and The Rolling Stones on the floor at the United Center for their 50th anniverary tour a few years ago.

Pics attached.. 

Nice.  That screen is pretty badass.

After the opening act, they as usual were piping in other artists music over the PA for the intermission.... and as a crowd member, you're just waiting for each song to end, hoping it's the last, and then the lights will go down. (I still remember how Def Leppard always used "Coma" as their last song... mother fuckers using a *ten-minute* clip...)

"Coma."  Underrated song, but I know what you mean.  I appreciate when bands use the same lead-in music before they start.  The Darkness plays "The Boys Are Back In Town" right before they go on, so not only do I get a nice little blast of Thin Lizzy in a concert venue, but then it's followed by one of the best live bands in the world.

Out of nowhere, "Black Hole Sun" came on at full blast (not the normal levels), and it was this really cool moment, when everyone sang along for the whole song, and held up their cell phone lights.

That's awesome.  I have never thought of "Black Hole Sun" as a sing-along song, but then again, it's not like they're going to play "Rusty Cage."  I guess I would have gone with "Spoonman."  And remember when we used to have to hold up lighters?  Man, I burned the shit out of my thumb too many times.

But after that ended, they lowered the volume and went right back into the "preview" music.  A song by The Pogues. 

How Irish.  "I am going / I am going / Where streams of whiskey are flowing."  I remember once when The Pogues were the musical guest on SNL, sometime in the early '90s -- St. Patrick's Day 1990 to be exact (I had to look that up, FYI -- I'm not that much of a savant).  As a 12-year-old, I was confused and somewhat pissed as they mumbled through a couple songs I had never heard before, especially given that the previous two musical guests were Technotronic and Aerosmith.  Of course, even I could tell that the guys in the band were hammered.  That's the curse of those people, you know.

And then, halfway thru the song, without warning, this happened...

I hate it when they don't warn you.

Holy shit. 

I've actually never had a movement that I would consider holy.  Mostly they just stink to high heaven.  Oh, now I get it.

Chills up my spine. 

I hate it when a shit gives me the shivers.

The drums... like a machine gun.  

Yeah, kind of like Bloody Sunday -- or any of the several Bloody Sundays throughout Irish history.  Fucking British.

Then the guitar, then Bono.  I instantly got this feeling like "I'm watching something important."  (Background... I'd only seen U2 one, at Soldier Field for "Pop Mart" in 1997.  In my defense, they've only released about 5 great songs total in the intervening 20 years).  Anyway, it was a breathtaking moment, amongst 60,000 screaming fans.

I get it.  I've had that moment many times before, and for me, that's the beauty of live music and that's why I go to so many concerts.  You get this moment of zen, where you get to watch people who are better at their job than you are at yours (probably), and also take in how the rest of the crowd is reacting.  When I saw U2 in 2005 at the United Center, there was some guy and his wife sitting next to us, probably in their early 40s.  They were from Springfield.  While I was quite excited to see a then-up-and-coming Kings of Leon opening (and may have been one of a few hundred people in the stadium who knew who they were), this dude next to me was crying when U2 came out.  Not tearing up.  Crying.  I haven't cried in over 25 years, but the closest I come is when I'm at a concert or listening to music.  And sometimes when my son headbutts me in the junk.  He's stronger than he looks.

Also, the Pop album was fucking awful.  I'd agree with you on the 5 great songs in the last 20 years.  That's part of why I don't hold U2 in quite as high regard as that shell of man I sat next to 12 years ago.

At that point, there was a weird "jailbreak" moment where everyone in my section advanced on all the "obstructed view" seats below us.

"Jailbreak."  A fantastic song by yet another Irish band.  I could make some terrible Troubles reference here, but one in this post is enough.

I'm sure you've rushed the field at an IU football game... that moment when you either go with the crowd, or get trampled.

I can't tell if you're being sarcastic or not, but yeah, I have rushed the field at an IU football game.  November 16, 1996.  The 2-8 Hoosiers were hosting the undefeated and #2 ranked Ohio State Buckeyes.  It was the 3:30 ABC game.  Hell, Keith Jackson might have even been calling it.  Regardless, a 3:30 start meant that the soldout crowd was plenty lubed up.  There were plenty of Buckeye fans, as they have nothing else to live for but traveling to other team's stadiums and making complete asses of themselves.  A win for them clinched the Rose Bowl.  The Hoosiers hung tough.  We were down 20-17 relatively late in the game, and we were driving.  Jay Rodgers, our overmatched QB, was scrambling towards the sideline.  Though his forward progress was clearly stopped by several O$U defenders, the whistle did not blow.  One of their linebackers -- I can't remember if it was Finkus or Vrabel, but I suppose it doesn't matter -- stripped the ball and ran it back 60-70 yards for a TD, putting the Buckeyes up 27-17, which ended up being the final.

After the final whistle blew, I shit you not, those classless bastards cheering for the opposing team stormed our field and tore our uprights off of the base of the goalpost.  Our exiting crowd was aghast.  It all happened so fast.  Then, those fuckers figured that one broken goalpost wasn't enough, so they started running down the middle of the Memorial Stadium field towards the other goalpost.  That's when the exiting Hoosier fans turned around and rushed down to the field to head them off.  Local law enforcement prevented what could have been a full-on Braveheart-style battle.  There was a demilitarized zone of about ten feet that separated the IU fans and the OSU fans, with cops walking up and down the space.  Idle epithets about opposing fans' mothers and educations were exchanged.  Every now and then, someone from one side would try to break through to the other side.  A buddy of mine saw an OSU fan across the way, with a girl on his shoulders who was waiving the state flag of Ohio -- a laughable two-pronged pennant.  With a mischievous twinkle in his eye, my buddy said, "I'm gonna get that flag." Before I could tell him it was a bad idea, he had tackled the guy, and I was trying to rip the flag in half using its two prongs.  A very understanding officer of the law picked me up and placed me back on the other side without arresting me.

The next weekend, I went up to that geographical shit stain they call West Lafayette, where I watched IU win the Old Oaken Bucket during Bill Mallory's last game as head coach.  The IU section of fans rushed the field.  As I was attempting to run towards the Hoosier team to celebrate, apparently I got too close to the goal post because a Purdue linebacker knocked me off my feet, where I was nearly trampled by both IU fans and the Purdue football team.  I popped back up, made a snarky comment about his choice of school, and went on my way.

I also rushed the field for Antwaan Randle El's last game, but that wasn't a close game or a big game or anything, so it wasn't a mad dash.  We tore the goalpost down, which, in retrospect, seems completely unnecessary.  Then again, it's not like we had many chances to tear down goalposts.

So yeah, I've rushed the field at an IU game.  What was the question?

Also, if you've ever surfed, the feeling you get when you biff, and can either choose to go with the wave and take your chances, or fight it and make the evening news as a drowning victim.

Much to the chagrin of my 8-year-old self -- whose only goal in life was to become a professional surfer -- I have never surfed.  But I have drowned in a dream before, and that's a real bummer.

Cut to: my (50 year old!) cousin Molly leaping over the barrier and charging into the GA section. 

For some reason, I am picturing your cousin doing a Fosbury Flop over the barrier.

I obviously had no choice but to follow.  

It's almost like you were saying "If you walk away walk away, I walk away walk away.  I will follow."

We spent the next two songs weaving thru the crowd, and finally settled in the front row of GA, off to the right side.

Well shit, that ain't bad.

Since our "original seats" were 100 yards away from the stage, i didn't bother to bring earplugs. Now, I found myself 20 feet from a speaker column that was bigger than our grade school. Whoops.

Thankfully, you're not too old, so it's not too loud.

So we spent the rest of the show in the front row, as they played the entire Joshua Tree album in order, with a 200'x50' high-res screen glowing in the background.  It was epic. Like listening to Moses sing the Ten Commandments. 

Moses.  Bono.  Either way, a lot of preaching.

Maybe one of the best concerts I've ever been to... which is saying a lot, since we're old enough to be free of the hormone-fueled excitement of being a teenager at Tinley Park, where the scope of the event (and the weed and beer) overpowers everything.

I actually never drank or ingested any illegal substances before or during any concerts until some point in college.  But I get your point.  When I saw Aerosmith (with Jackyl opening) at the World in 1994 during the Get A Grip tour, it was definitely a feeling of "holy shit, I'm seeing Aerosmith."  I don't get that feeling much anymore, mostly because I've seen most of the bands I have wanted to see.  Of course, last summer, seeing GNR for the first time (and in the front row) -- when I had assumed for 20+ years that I would never see Axl, Slash, and Duff on the same stage together -- was a "holy shit" concert.

No, I was a just an almost-40 Greeg, with grey hair and totally sober (side story: I quickly realized that since I was a pirate who'd snuck onto the floor, I didn't have the same Wristbands as everyone else. If I had to go off to take a piss, I'd never be let back in. I was holding a totally full beer as I had this epiphany... which i then set down on the ground, and kicked over.  No way was I going to miss "Beautiful Day" because of a Coors Light tallboy in my bladder.)

Beer is the Waterloo of GA tickets, unless you have a big enough group that can hold down your spot for you while you pee.  This is why I have always advocated for a comfortable and discreetly voluminous adult concert-going diaper.  Also, if available, whiskey on the rocks is always a good choice that allows you to get a solid buzz going at a concert without all of that liquid that causes you to pee every five songs.

But still... even minus the enthusiasm of youth, and the dizzyness of beer... it was a really emotional rock experience.  Singing along at full blast to the peak of "One" ("You say love is a temple, love the higher law / You ask me to enter, but then you make me crawl".... maybe the best 30 seconds of any pop song ever), 

Clearly you've never heard any 30-second section of a little song called "MMMBop."

or getting tears in my eyes during the chorus of "Beautiful Day" (The song I listened to on my CD Walkman as I got out of the NYC subway at 8am on September 11, 2001).

Damn, that's some sad irony.

Or also just watching my cousin Molly go NUTS when they played "I Will Follow" as the finale, clearly the song she jammed to in junior high in '84. 

Wait, your cousin was in junior high when she was 17?!

And it dawned on me, at these moments, that it's very likely... and very sad... that epic, arena rock moments are quickly going to become extinct.  How many more times in our lives will we get to see a band play before 50, 60, 80 thousand people with such insane glory? Playing rock anthems that people grew up on at 1000 decibels?  

Not that many more times, but only because not many bands or artists can play stadiums.  Hell, I've only been to one show at Soldier Field.

I mean, U2 is (very) arguably the greatest rock band in history... when you add up longevity, sales, awards, respectability, reinvention, cultural importance, and fun... 

It's easy to reinvent yourself when you only release one album every five years.  I have neither the time nor the wherewithal to explain why you're wrong.  Not that U2 isn't up there on the pantheon with a dozen other bands, but on the 50th anniversary of the release of Sgt. Pepper's, I will just say that The Beatles are inarguably the greatest rock band in history. 

but even now, they're nearing the end of their run.  

Barring some unforeseen circumstance, they will be touring for at least another ten years -- maybe 15-20 if they can all stay healthy.  Bono and Clayton are 57, and The Edge and Mullen are 55.  Jagger, Richards, Daltrey, and Townshend are all either 72 or 73, and the Stones and The Who still tour (and tour well, at that).  Bono will still have something to say well into his 70s.

The last tour was played in 20,000 seat indoor arenas, and the only honest way to justify their current stadium tour is because of the Joshua nostalgia.  No one is paying $400 for GA seats on their *next* tour.

Of course not.  $400 is an insane price to pay for a non-special ticket.  At the same time, there are still plenty of people willing to shell out $100 (or more) to see U2 play any time they come through Chicago (and presumably most other big cities).

And after them? Who's left?  

Our pals in Def Lep are soldiering on, banging out the old hits. But unlike U2, they don't have the veneer of respectability. They're like Shoeless Joe, playing barnstorming games around the midwest for audiences looking to recapture the past. They're not relevant.

Yeah, Def Leppard is soldiering on pretty well, but I agree that they don't get the same love as U2.  Look, they're not going to play the United Center when they come to town, but they do play Tinley Park (which actually has a bigger capacity than the United Center) or All State Arena.  And, as you know, they still sound pretty damn good, even if they're playing the same totally awesome songs they've been playing for the last 30 years.  I'm going to see them in Tinley Park in a few weeks, with Poison and Tesla opening.  On a Saturday, no less!  Needless to say, it's the concert I'm most excited about this year.

Not even GnR are all that big... despite their gigantic reunion tour last year.  No one is going to pony up for that show again in 2018.

I'd disagree to some extent.  Don't downplay the pull of a reunited GNR.  And it also depends where they go.  The opening leg of their reunion tour in North America was relatively limited -- only 40 North American tour stops (that includes the US, Canada, and Mexico).  Sure, maybe they won't play football stadiums next time around like this past tour, but there is certainly enough demand for GNR to sell out 20,000-seat basketball arenas, and probably even the occasional baseball field.  In fact, they just announced another leg of the Not In This Lifetime Tour, and they're playing the United Center when they come through Chicago in November.

And going back further in time... Paul McCartney, Aerosmith, The Stones, Bob Dylan... all those groups are just playing festivals designed to cash in on memories. But they're dead in time.

McCartney still tours.  And is still amazing.  I'm pissed that he's playing two nights in Tinley Park in July because both are in the middle of the week, and trying to get to get to Tinley Park in time for a show on a work night is damn near impossible.  I think Aerosmith recently started their farewell tour, but that might go on for a few years.  The Stones still seem to tour every year or two (maybe not necessarily in America), but when I saw them a few years ago, they still looked good (to the extent that phrase can ever be used to describe Keith Richards).  Dylan is awful live.  You can't understand a damn word he says, and you're usually halfway through a song before you realize what song it is.  I saw him maybe 7 or 8 years ago at the Chicago Theatre, and I actually fell asleep during the show.

So to jump forward... who are current Legend Rock Acts that are still carrying the torch?The Chris Cornell tributes are a sad admission that there is no 90s generation to carry that on*. 

Nirvana?  Dead. 

Heroin.  Suicide.

Soundgarden? Dead. 


Alice in Chains? Who?  

Also dead.  Heroin.  That said, they did open for GNR when I saw them last July, and whoever they got to replace Layne Staley sounds just like him.

Pearl Jam? When is the Wisconsin State Fair again???

Whoa whoa whoa.  Pearl Jam is still a pretty hot ticket.  They sold out multiple nights at Wrigley last summer and another night at Wrigley in 2013 (which was the fastest concert to sell out in Wrigley history).  Last summer's tour was a stadium tour.  They are one of the only true '90s bands that can do that.

(Not to mention Prince. Jesus, that still sucks)

Yeah.  One of my biggest concert regrets is that I never saw him live.  Sure, we lived in Minneapolis at the same time for a three-month period in late 1977 and early 1978, but that's as close as I've gotten to him.

I guess the only important band left would be Foo Fighters, who we've talked about in the past as being the most underrated Rock Band around.  And so yes, they count.  They fucking rock, and could sell-out the Grand Canyon.  But they're also sort of geezers.

As we've discussed before, I love Foo Fighters, and I think they are the best hard rock band of the last 20 years.  They play Wrigley or the United Center when they come through town.  And, compared to some of the other bands we've been discussing, they're not that old.  Setting aside Pat Smear (who is 57), Dave Grohl and Nate Mendel are 48, Chris Shiflett is 46, and Taylor Hawkins is 45.  Plus, they all have a hell of a lot of energy.

It seems like there's this horrible cavity of badass rock bands starting in 1998... and no one has filled the void since. Almost like it's a dying artform.

'90s rock in general isn't suited to stadiums and arenas as '70s or '80s rock.  The whole grunge/alternative "we're trying to be punks" kind of thing is better for smaller venues, for better or worse.

Kid Rock?

As odd as it is to say, he actually has a pretty decent following.  I'm not a huge fan, but some of his early stuff was pretty rocking.  I can't say that I'm a fan of his transition to country rock.  It's nice that he does the "every ticket is $20" kind of thing for his shows, but he ain't gonna be playing Soldier Field any time soon.

Limp Bizkit?

Ahh, rap metal.  While I do enjoy a few of their songs (and my guess is that there are a lot of people out there who are afraid to admit the same), it's hard to imagine that there are many people clamoring for a Limp Bizkit reunion, other than Fred Durst.

Fall Out Boy??

Maybe Radioactive Man, but not Fall Out Boy.

Jimmy Eats World???

"The Middle" is a fantastic song.  It's also the only song of theirs that most people have heard, and I bet a large chunk of those people don't know the name of the band that sings it.

The White Stripes????

This one still stings.  I had tickets to see them at The Aragon in 2007, and then Meg had a nervous breakdown and they never played again.  Thankfully, I got to see them a few years earlier.  They are one of my favorite bands, and I think Jack White is as close to David Bowie as our generation has.  He can literally write any kind of song, and well.  Had they stayed together, I don't know that they would have necessarily been playing stadiums, but they certainly had the talent to do so.

The fucking Strokes????

I happen to like the fucking Strokes.  Their first two albums are awesome (and the others aren't too shabby either).  They're not really a stadium-type band, though.  Festivals, yes. However, they haven't put an album out since 2013 and the band members all seem to have side projects, so who knows what's going on.

Kings of retard Leon?????

Yes, they are a stadium- and arena-worthy band.  They may not have sounded like it when I saw them open for U2 in 2005, but they only had two albums out at that point, so they were still cutting their teeth.  This was two albums before "Use Somebody" and "Sex On Fire."  They are relatively young (ranging from 30 to 37), and they have gravitated from nearly indecipherable punkish Southern rock to arena-ready anthems.

There's no band formed after we graduated high school who has their shit together in order to keep influencing generations to come like U2 did/has. Who's going to sellout the Rose Bowl in 2037? And that's kind of fucked up, no?

Pearl Jam, Red Hot Chili Peppers, or Green Day on their farewell tours?  But seriously, someone will be selling out The Rose Bowl in 2037.  It's probably someone we haven't even heard of yet.  Or maybe it will be the One Direction reunion tour.  But the bottom line is that there will always be someone big enough to sell out stadiums.  It may not be a rock band, but it will be someone.

And it's not just me being "Old Man Greg".  It's not like U2 was the first multi-generational band that changed the face of music. Beatles, Stones, Doors, Queen, Zeppelin, The Dead, Aerosmith, Eagles.... fuck it, toss in Leppard, GnR, Crue and The Monkees too.  

You had me until The Monkees.

But now it seems like the end.  Bono is almost 60, and soon they'll be playing Ravinia.   

No fucking way does U2 ever play Ravinia.  It barely seats 3,000.  As long as U2 is a band, the smallest venue they will play in the Chicagoland area is United Center.

(This was all heavy stuff to digest during the concert. I managed to shake it off enough to enjoy "Bad" and "Pride". ) 

Glad you didn't kill your non-buzz.

But like... who will your kids or Dan's kids go to see at Soldier Field in high school? 

Probably no one because nosebleeds will be $500 by then.

Katy Perry? 

Absolutely.  She's got the stage show and songs to play stadiums.  And the kids these days seem to like her.

Taylor Swift? 

For sure.  She has already played Soldier Field several times already.

The Weekend? 

No, but maybe The Weeknd.

Fucking Bon Iver?

Maybe if there's a trend ten years from now where everyone goes to concerts to kill themselves.

Honestly, the best choices either seem Bruno Mars or country acts like Sam Hunt.

Yes on Bruno Mars.  Who the fuck is Sam Hunt?  Any relation to Mike Hunt?  Don't forget Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Jay-Z, Eminem, Kendrick Lamar, and Chance The Rapper (in Chicago, anyway).  That said, I do think it's harder for rappers and hip hop artists to stay relevant as they age because, as they become more successful and get further away from the "street" (whether that might be a construct or reality), it's tougher to keep that edge.  Jay-Z is practically a billionaire.  If he has 99 problems, he can pay for them to go away.  Also, he has sex with Beyonce, so a bitch definitely ain't one.  Punk has the same aging problem, but punk bands generally aren't playing stadiums anyway, so let's not concern ourselves with whether the Sex Pistols would have continued to make relevant music had they not broken up after one record.  I don't know enough or give a shit about country music to prognosticate what country artists might be playing stadiums in ten years, but I think it's safe to say that my kids won't be attending those shows anyway.

As for rock bands, here's who I think might carry the stadium/arena rock torch:

Green Day.  Yes, they've been around for over 20 years, but they're only five years older than we are, and they have pretty much continuously been building a bigger following. I've only seen them at Lolla, and it was one of the better headlining shows I have seen (which is saying a lot, given that I have been to every Lolla but one since it came back in 2005). They are playing Wrigley in August and I have GA tickets, so I'm pretty pumped for it.

The Black Keys.  I love these guys, and I have seen them in venues like The Metro in Chicago and Bogart's in Cincinnati when they were just two guys playing fuzzed out, blues-based garage rock.  They have definitely expanded their sound since then and continued to put out great music.  Their last two tours, they have played at the United Center, including two nights during their last tour in 2014.  Of course, this is one of those bands (like Kings of Leon) where it's hard for me to see them at a large venue because I've seen them multiple times at small venues when they were up-and-coming, and, of course, nothing will ever be as good as that.

Arctic Monkeys.  My second-favorite band from Sheffield, England, the Arctic Monkeys are inching closer towards the precipice.  Maybe in another album or two, they will be able to headline arenas (in the US, that is -- I'm pretty sure they do elsewhere).

Coldplay.  I'm entirely ambivalent (to the extent once ambivalence can be entire) about Coldplay, but they played Soldier Field last year, so I think they're there.  Not as much "rock" as I'd like, but still.

Muse.  These guys are in their late '30s, but certainly have stadium-ready anthems, and they played basketball arenas in the U.S. during their last tour.

The Killers.  They have gravitated a little further away from rock over the past couple albums, but they can still fill arenas.  They're headlining Lolla (again) as well.  

Florence + The Machine.  I haven't seen them (or maybe I did once at Lolla), but they have arena-ready songs, and Florence has an arena-ready voice.

The Struts.  This is my hopeful wildcard.  These guys are a relatively new British rock band, and they have all the tools to be stadium rockers.  They ooze rock and roll, from the way they dress to their sound to the way they can command a crowd.  They played Lolla last year, and I thought they were amazing.  Given a mid-afternoon time slot, the band played a killer set and had the audience at its mercy, even getting everyone in the crowd to sit down on the ground at one point.  My hope is that they can usher in a new era of rock.

The Darkness.  Okay, so maybe their chance passed when they broke up for a few years after their second album because Justin Hawkins was a heroin addict.  But they have the stage presence, songs, and swagger to rule stadiums.

Or will they just go to shitty, trendy festivals, where the flavor-of-the-year acts play, like Coachella or Lollapaloza?  I mean, those are probably cool shows to see when you're 16... but there's no album to listen to on the way home from the show. 

Those are still cool shows to see when you're 39.  Well, Lolla anyway.  I don't plan on going to the desert to see shows, surrounded by people wearing half pants, or whatever the fuck this year's awful Coachella fashion trend was.  One of my favorite parts of Lolla is discovering new bands.

Or worse, will they just go to epic EDM shows, where it's more important to Instagram themselves than listen to the music?

I hope to Satan my kids don't listen to EDM.  That's my biggest issue with festivals over the last few years.  There are waaaaayyyyyy too many EDM acts.  I mean, I get it.  They can turn knobs really well.  Call me old fashioned, but I'd rather watch someone with legitimate musical talent whale out a guitar solo than be in the middle of a bunch of sweaty suburban teenagers tweaking on Molly while listening to music that literally is capable of inducing vomit.

Anyway. This wasn't mean to seem so cynical and depressing.  It's just that our teen (and adult) years have been blessed with going to amazing, epic rock shows like Bon Jovi, Mellencamp and U2... and it seems like it's going the way of the Big Band era.  As if we'll sound someday like our grandpas, regaling the young ones about the time we saw Glenn Miller's Big Band Orchestra at the Hippodrome.

I've been to two Hippodromes in my day -- the club in London and the Oktoberfest beer tent (without the "e") -- and both were pretty fantastic.  Quite a different scene in each, and $12 gets you about three times as much beer in Munich as it does in London.  

But seriously, I think about the generational thing a lot, and Gen X is in a weird spot.  Popular music is a relatively recent creation.  Our grandparents, to the extent they listened to "popular" music, listened to jazz, swing, big band, and your Frank Sinatras and Perry Comos.  The Boomers' popular music was rock and roll, which was decidedly "harder" than their parents' music.  Gen X grew up with '70s rock, punk, '80s hard rock, heavy metal, and grunge -- not to mention rap and hip hop.  Our music was harder and rawer than our parents' music.  One might argue that the Millennials are the first generation whose taste in music has gotten softer than the previous generation.  Thus, we might be the first generation that rocks harder than our children.  So, while we may someday sound like our grandpas, the difference is that I'm going to be telling my grandchildren to "turn up the fucking Van Halen, you pussies."

Am I wrong? Want to know your thoughts and musings...

I don't think you're necessarily wrong, but it's hard for us to grasp stadium shows without stadium rock.  There will always be a market for huge shows, but I just think, barring some change in the musical landscape, there won't be as many rock and roll shows in stadiums and arenas.  It will be your Beyonces and your Taylor Swifts and your Katy Perrys.  But honestly, there aren't that many bands or artists who can play stadiums anyway.  Take a look at who has played Soldier Field in the last ten years:
-2017:  U2, Metallica, Coldplay
-2016:  Beyonce, Gun N' Roses, Coldplay
-2015:  Kenny Chesney, The Grateful Dead, Taylor Swift, One Direction
-2014:  Beyonce & Jay-Z, One Direction, Luke Bryan
-2013:  Bon Jovi, Jay-Z & Justin Timberlake, Taylor Swift
-2012:  Kenny Chesney & Tim McGraw
-2011:  U2
-2010:  Bon Jovi & Kid Rock, deadmau5, Eagles/Dixie Chicks/Keith Urban
-2009:  U2, Kenny Chesney
-2008:  Kenny Chesney/LeAnn Rimes/Keith Urban

It's basically the U2 and Kenny Chesney fairgrounds.  If you take out duplicates, that's 21 headliners or co-headliners over 10 years, or barely more than 2 a year.

Even when we were in high school, only four bands played Soldier Field, and they were all massive (and only one of them was a "current" band):  The Grateful Dead in '92, '93, '94, and '95; Pink Floyd in '94; The Rolling Stones in '94; and Pearl Jam in '95.

The Wrigley Field lineup is a little more varied, but it also seats about 10,000 to 15,000 fewer people for a concert than Soldier Field does (depending on how the stage and field seating is configured), so there are more acts who can play Wrigley than have the kind of pull to play Soldier Field.  Here's the Wrigley concert lineup for the last ten years:
-2017:  Tom Petty, Dead & Company, Jimmy Buffett, James Taylor, Florida Georgia Line, Green Day, Lady Gaga, Zac Brown Band
-2016:  Phish, James Taylor & Jackson Browne, Pearl Jam, Billy Joel, Luke Bryan
-2015:  Bill Joel, Foo Fighters, Zac Brown Band, AC/DC
-2014:  Billy Joel, Blake Shelton, Zac Brown Band
-2013:  Pearl Jam, Jason Aldean
-2012:  Roger Waters, Brad Paisley, Bruce Springsteen
-2011:  Paul McCartney
-2010:  Dave Matthews Band
-2009:  Elton John & Billy Joel, Rascal Flatts
-2007:  The Police

The '90s kind of fucked us all for arena-ready rock.  As discussed above, the whole ethos of '90s alternative rock was to be anti-stadium-rock.  But I don't think that means we're all screwed.  We just might not be able to see as much hard rock at baseball and football stadiums in ten years as we can now.

But in the meantime, get on fucking StubHub and find a way to get yourself into the front row for the U2 show in a few weeks.  And bring as many of your kids as you can afford... just in case it's the last time they can see a life-changing show like that.  It was really an amazing experience that I'll never forget.

I will not.  I want their first concert to at least be a group that they know, like Kiss or The Misfits.  And I don't have quite the apocalyptic view of concerts that you have.  I've had just as many "life-changing" shows in small venues as I have in stadiums or arenas.  Our old friend Mr. Twinkie once offered the sage advice that it's not the size of the Twinkie, but the cream filling inside.  I think the same reasoning can be applied to rock shows.  It's not the size of the venue, but the size of the rock inside.

(Oh, yeah. How you doing otherwise???)

Not bad.  Work's been busy, which is always a blessing and a curse, I suppose.  The kids are doing great.  They really do grow up so fast.  Working on a solid 9 months of trying to potty train Son.  The boy just likes the feeling of poop against his inner thighs, apparently.  Jester seems to be doing well, despite being married to a nearly 40-year-old child.  She and I are actually headed down to Indy this weekend for the 500, which is always a good time.  How are you doing?  Any trips to Chicago planned in the near future?


Take it easy, Belchizar.