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a momentous event

Well, folks, I’m coming up on a milestone in my life. Some people count calories, some keep track of which Natural Wonders of the World they’ve seen (2), but I keep track of concerts.

Ever since the first concert I went to (12th March 1996, Red Hot Chili Peppers / Toadies at Gund Arena) I’ve kept track of every live show I’ve ever been to.

The momentous event is that tonight, December 31st 2010 will be my 300th gig. That’s right. THREE HUNDRED. So, to celebrate this, and in true OCD fashion, I would like to share a few facts relating to my illustrious career as a live music junkie.

concert tickets....concert tickets

The gold medal for band I’ve seen the most belongs to OK Go with a grand total of 50. Coming in second is Idlewild at 40 shows (40th tonight).

The most gigs I’ve been to in one year is 49 in 2005 (including 11 in October alone), and the least was in 2009 when I only saw three live shows (albeit very good ones).

The most popular month for gigs is statistically April with 41 total, and the least popular is June with only 12.

The most popular day of the (any) month is a tie between the 20th and the 21st at 16 gigs each.

I have ever only been to one gig on my birthday which was Idlewild at the Liquid Room in Edinburgh in 2007.

The farthest distance I have ever been from home is 7th Street Entry in Minneapolis, MN (OK Go 8th June 2002) at a total distance of 737 miles door to door. This is not, however, the longest single trip I’ve taken because the show in MN was sandwiched between two others (Chicago and Milwaukee).

The most one-way miles clocked up is a whopping 596 miles in one day which was the drive back to Cleveland on Easter Sunday 2003 from an Idlewild gig in Montreal, Canada. Including the drive from Cleveland to Toronto (to see Idlewild) to Montreal and back you have a complete round-trip of 1,234 miles.

My weekend at T in the Park in 2006 represents the most bands I’ve seen at one “gig” with 25 over three days.

The most I have ever paid for a ticket in to a single gig is probably Pearl Jam in 1996, but you’d have to ask my Mom how much it was exactly, because she bought my ticket for me at the door (and then stood outside for the whole concert waiting for me).

Some places I would never have seen were it not for the gigs I went to there include Bristol, UK, Coney Island, and Urbana, IL.

Some of the best memories:

Driving around New York City endlessly trying to find the hostel we’d booked into (Alison and I, Placebo/Idlewild May 2001) – finding someone to ask directions from who told me I wouldn’t need to worry about my car being stolen in that neighbourhood, but I would need to worry about the engine being stolen out of my car. We stayed at the Holiday Inn on Broadway instead, with secure, underground parking.

Arriving late to Cambridge, UK, (Alison & I, Placebo, October 2000) after a delayed train only to realise we’d missed the whole concert. Trying desperately to find somewhere to stay the night (Cambridge is HELL. Seriously. But with more bicycles…) and ending up at the most overpriced guest house either of us have ever stayed in.

The Monkees in Columbus with Alison & Sarah, March 2001. Peter Tork thinks we’re great.

OK Go at the Fireside Bowl in March 2002. Best venue, ever. Honestly, the place was an absolute mess. I was worried the ceiling was going to collapse.

Morrissey and The Libertines with Sarah at the Brixton Academy in November 2002. Because it was amazing.

Muse in Columbus with Alison, Sarah and Kristina in April 2005. It was a very small venue. They had their speakers set to “Glastonbury”. I was reduced to chewing up an old receipt from my bag and stuffing it into my ears to prevent them actually bleeding. The bass line altered my heartbeat. Very good but VERY loud.

The first time we saw Idlewild. They opened for Placebo at St Andrew’s Hall in Detroit, Michigan. We were a bit of a crowd, Alison, Sarah, Jeremy, Ryan and myself. One of the best nights of my life, hands down.

What can I say? I could go on and on. Do I remember every one of the 300 shows? (Well, 299 until after tonight!) Yes, I do. Maybe because I’ve written them all down to remind myself I was there in the first place. I love live music, I always have. I was hooked from the get-go and I’ve not slowed down yet.

I have met some folks I will always remember and some I will always love. I have made friends, lost friends, fallen in and out of love with bands, listened to some albums so much that the sound of them will forever be imprinted on my soul, and my quest to follow music over the miles has instilled in me a great love of the open road.

I do understand that I am very lucky. I can’t imagine any better hobby to have. I can’t imagine anything I’d rather have spent all those hours, miles and dollars on. 300 gigs in 14 years? Yes, I am certainly very lucky.

Tonight, the last night of 2010, my 40th Idlewild gig and my 300th ever gig, is going to be a amazing night. It can’t not be.

Here’s to the next 300!

xo
A

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t in the park

This weekend is T in the Park weekend. For those of you who don’t know what that means, T in the Park is a three-day music festival held in Kinross, Scotland. Mostly it is for Rock and Indie musicians, which means it is smack dab in the middle of my street.

As in ,that’s right up my street, etc.

Anyway, tickets prices are always crazy high and tickets for the following year go on sale the weekend after the current event and they always, always sell out. People queue overnight to be first at the shops when they open to buy tickets. So getting them is difficult.

Kristina & Me on the Sunday morning

After you buy your tickets you are faced with a year’s wait to see what the weather is going to be like. Which, I think, is the hardest part. Because if it is going to be sunny and wonderful (I’d say a 10% chance, because it is Scotland after all), then you are going to have a fantastic, wonderful, amazing time. As long as you can avoid sunstroke. If it is going to rain then you are quite possibly not going to enjoy yourself much. Unless you do what the majority of T in the Park attendees do, get drunk and/or high off your face. Then, it really doesn’t matter if it is pouring down rain, and it also doesn’t matter that the port-a-potties are the most disgusting places on the surface of the Earth.

My friend Kristina and I went to T in the Park in 2006 and we had the good fortune of having lovely weather, most of the time. I won’t say there weren’t moments of rain when we considered holing up in our tent to avoid being trampled to death as the entire site quickly turned into a giant slip-n-slide, but overall it was an amazing weekend.

Some mud.

Because of the revolting state of most of the port-a-potties we spent the weekend drinking as little water as possible and then holding it all in. In the mornings we took the little bus into town and went to a local church who put on an edible breakfast with all you could drink orange juice (from concentrate) for something crazy like £3 or something. They also had clean bathrooms. With running water. So we took care of all our business at the church and that is how we survived.

I can honestly say I think we were the only two people there that were completely sober for the entire time, as well. Refreshing? Yes. Terrifying? You have no idea. One of the most memorable moments was when I was awakened at three in the morning on Sunday because an extremely drunken guy was peeing on the outside of our tent right next to my head. And singing. Loudly.

People!

But I digress. The point is that T in the Park is on this weekend and, despite the fact that it hasn’t stopped raining all day, I really wish I were there. Every year I think I’ll buy tickets when they go on sale because I know darn well when the festival rolls around 12 months later that I am going to be dying to go. I never buy tickets. I think it’s equal parts my feeling too old to attend and also the fact that they cost £200. Plus you have to spend the weekend in a tent surrounded by thousands of people you do not know. The joys.

When we went we saw the following artists. I can’t be bothered to link them all, so if you want to know who they are, use Google.

The Guillemots
Corrine Bailey Rae
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah!
Ben Harper
Sigur Ros
The Cribs
The Feeling
The Kooks
Maximo Park
Placebo
Editors

Tom Editor

The Spinto Band
My Latest Novel
Jose Gonzales
Kasabian
Milburn
The Fratellis
Morning Runner
Dirty Pretty Things
Richard Ashcroft
Paolo Nutini
The Magic Numbers
Hard-Fi
Arctic Monkeys
The Who

I know, right? In case you didn’t count, that’s 25 bands.  Well worth the £200!!

My favourite artist of the weekend was Clap Your Hands Say Yeah!, although Sigur Ros gives them a run for their money. It was also amazing to see The Who close the show on the Sunday night, complete with fireworks going off in the background. My favourite single moment? Watching Paolo Nutini sing Caledonia mid-afternoon on the Saturday. There is something about a crowd of a few thousand Scottish people swaying with national pride, some of them even wearing kilts.

Will I go again? Oh, yes, I will. Maybe next year?  I hope so.

This year, though, I am at home and I am dry, but I am really sorry I am not at T in the Park.

Who am I going to regret seeing the most?  MUSE, Vampire Weekend, Biffy Clyro, Eminem and The Stereophonics.  Plus about 10 others.

To everyone at T in the Park, I am sorry it has rained all day but I hope you are all enjoying yourselves.

Me? I’m trying not to think about it! Here’s to next year!

xo

A

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Now this applies equally to you and I

the only thing that we share is the same sky.

These empty metaphors are all in vain,

like, ‘can’t you see the grass is greener where it rains?’

-Eve, the Apple of My Eye

Laura, Angela and I went to King Tut’s last night to see Bell X1.  I can’t remember for the life of me when I first heard them, but I know it was circa 2004/2005.  Their earlier incarnation as Juniper included a young Damien Rice before his solo years. 

DSC00290

The first album of theirs that I owned was Music in Mouth released in 2003, but their next album, Flock, is apparently “highly acclaimed”.  Even though I own it I must admit that I haven’t given it the credit I should.  Which is because I am busy listening to songs off Music in Mouth

Their latest album, titled Blue Lights on the Runway has come out to much anticipation and I am eager to get my hands on a copy – the songs they played off it last night promise an intriguing break from what I would consider their “norm” and I am happily looking forward to falling in love with them as heartily as those from Music and Flock.

All this serves to tell me

is maybe there’s no ladders in this game at all.

All this serves to tell me

is maybe only snakes like the one in the garden that has to crawl…

-Snakes & Snakes

Seeing them play live is something else!  Laura, Angela and I went to see them a few years ago when they played the Garage in Glasgow, and when we arrived they were already playing our favorite song,  Eve, the Apple of My Eye, and we were very excited.  Except that by some twist of fate and stage times, it was actually already the encore and we had missed the entire show.  I am happy to report that we arrived at King Tut’s not only on time – but early enough to hear one or two songs by the opening band as well!!! Way to go us!!

I should have know by the arc of the empty wine glass

I should have know ‘cos you step on don’t walk over cracks

Looking over my shoulder to see you looking back over yours

But you were paying the ferryman even after Chris said ‘don’t’

– Alphabet Soup

Anyway, the point of my post is that they were amazing and we had a great time.  The lead singer, Paul Noonan, was spot-on.  The rest of the musicians were ace and the entire gig was amazing.  They played a lot of new stuff, which, as I said above, sounded promising and they played a big handful of old favorites so they really covered everything.

setlist

If you get a chance, check them out.  If you’re looking for song suggestions get in touch with me because I can recommend some excellent tunes.

My next piece on Bell X1 will be dealing with their strong inclination towards religious allegory.

What’s with the angel and what’s with the devil?

They keep swapping shoulders and I can’t tell which from which.

‘Will you be my Kriskindle? Will you be my better nature?’

Said one to the other, but I think they’re only showing off.

-I’ll See Your Heart And I’ll Raise You Mine

xo

A

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I was driving home from the Counting Crows concert last night and I called my brother from the car.  It costs about a million £s for me to use my mobile to call The States, but I just had to do it. 

My brother and I both LOVE the Counting Crows.  Love may actually be a bit of an understatement.  I have seen them twice while my brother has never seen them live before.  When I saw them the last time I made sure to get an autograph from them for my brother and he assures me he still has it in a safe place.

But this is neither here nor there. 

 I told Eric about the gig last night and how good they sounded and how Adam Duritz is amazing. How he changed the lyrics to fit the situation and how he spent a good 5 minutes explaining to the audience what Goodnight Elisabeth is about.

 Adam said that he wrote the song when he first went away on tour and that he’d broken up with his girlfriend (presumably Elisabeth) because he knew it wouldn’t work with him being away.  So the song was about saying goodbye without actually saying goodbye.  Then he said, as time went on, he realized that the song wasn’t about that at all.  It was about saying goodnight to your loved ones at the end of the day and how, when you’re away on tour, the act of saying goodnight is the only way that time progresses.

So after I said all I had to say Eric and I wrapped up the conversation, said our goodbyes, etc.  Then Eric said he wished he had an appropriate Counting Crows quote to finalise the telephone call and I concurred, but we hung up anyway.

Two seconds later I knew exactly the quote that would finish our chat off perfectly, so I called him back.  Of course, the song I was thinking of was Raining in Baltimore, and of course, he was thinking of the same exact song.

Our conversation was rather brief.

So, this is for Eric.

Raining in Baltimore – Counting Crows

This circus is falling down on its knees
The big top is crumbling down
Its raining in Baltimore fifteen miles east
Where you should be, no ones around

I need a phone call
I need a raincoat
I need a big love
I need a phone call

These train conversations are passing me by
And I don’t have nothing to say
You get what you pay for
But I just had no intention of living this way

I need a phone call
I need a plane ride
I need a sunburn
I need a raincoat

And I get no answers
And I don’t get no change
Its raining in Baltimore, baby
But everything else is the same

There’s things I remember and things I forget
I miss you I guess that I should
Three thousand five hundred miles away
But what would you change if you could?

I need a phone call
Maybe I should buy a new car
I can always hear a freight train if I listen real hard
And I wish it was a small world
Because I’m lonely for the big towns
I’d like to hear a little guitar
I think its time to put the top down

I need a phone call
I need a raincoat

xo
A

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I have been to the theatre once in the past 5 years.  I used to go all the time.  We were members of the Great Lakes Theatre Festival and we went every few months to see a play downtown.  Chekhov, Shakespeare, Sondheim, Williams.  And every year The Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.  Not to mention the Cleveland Orchestra’s Christmas Concert at Severance Hall.  And I miss it.  Terribly.

So I thought I would take a look at what Glasgow has to offer in the way of Holiday Theatre this year.  Considering how culturally enhanced Glasgow wants you to think it is, the choice is rather lacking.  I can see any one of about 50 Christmas Pantos (horrid things aimed mainly at children, their adults, and people with less than 7 brain cells) which I have no desire to do at all, or I can wait until February when the ballet is showing The Nutcracker.  Why in February?  I have no idea.  No idea in the slightest.

Is it really possible that I am so strapped for choices when living in the largest city in Scotland and the third largest in the whole of the UK?  Yes, it would seem so.

I guess I am just unwilling to take a break from the familiar.  The Royal Scottish National Orchestra does have a Christmas Concert, but it focuses on The Snowman, which is apparently a “magical family film” which is played in full accompanied by live narration and music.  How thrilling.  The Glasgow Chamber Orchestra is also playing a Christmas Concert, just the one, tomorrow.  The choir that is singing is the Glasgow Hospitals’ Choir and, while all proceeds go to sick children in Glasgow, it is just too depressing for me.

So what should I do?

I could fly down to London for the day and see what sort of festive offerings they have for me.  I would have my fingers crossed for The Christmas Carol, but that doesn’t seem to be so popular here.  Or I could sit at home in a dark room with my eyes closed, playing a CD of the Cleveland Orchestra’s Christmas music which we bought many, many years ago and I could just pretend I am at a concert.

And, while I am at it, what does a girl have to do to see a live theatre production of a Shakespeare play? Travel to the Globe Theatre in London?  Or wait for the spring when the “narrative ballet” version comes to the Theatre Royal?  Seriously.

On the plus side, The King’s Theatre in Edinburgh is showing a version of Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett in April staring Gandalf and Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart) for which I have already booked my tickets.  For the first night just in case I NEED to see it again.  And again.  Masterpiece of modern theatre?  I fear that may be an understatement.

Bring on the Christmas season.  And for pete’s sake someone please bring me some culture!

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an open letter…

Dear Rob, Paul, Adam, Kyle and Brian,

I’ve written about a million versions of this letter in my head because it is very important that I get this right.  Because this is where it all started – The Beginning.

April 7th, 1997 at The Odeon – opening for Jackopierce.  And 51 days later, at The Grog Shop. For $2.  And again in August, October and then March of the following year.  And then August 1998 at Blossom for $30.  Meteoric rise?  Understatement.

Matchbox Twenty – the first band I loved

And imagine how different it all could have been.  If the music wasn’t just so or if the lyrics hadn’t seemingly been written specifically for me. If Paul wasn’t so damned adorable playing those drums with his bare feet.  If Adam hadn’t been so unbelievably nice to me. If Kyle wasn’t so good looking, Brian so quiet or if Rob didn’t have that certain something that oozed of stardom…

I was 16 and phenomenally uncool.  I listened to your album, Yourself or Someone Like You, every day for over a year.  I had a cassette taped copy of You & I & I recorded at radio station 99x and I’m pretty sure it was my most prized possession. I quoted you in my yearbook.  My best friend Betsey and I named our Uniracers bikes after you guys on our SNES.   A startling confession to make but it is the truth. Like I said, phenomenally uncool. 

Me & Adam, 1997

Me & Adam, 1997

“Well everyone here hides shades of shame
yeah but lookin’ inside we’re the same.
We’re the same and we’re all grown now,
yeah, but we don’t know how to get it back to good.”
– Matchbox Twenty , Back 2 Good

 It all has to do with that very first show in 1997.  We were front row at The Odeon – my Mom had driven us down to The Flats for the show and, I think, waited outside in the car the entire time.  I am certain I stared adoringly at you all as you played and sang the songs; I must have, anyway, because Adam came to the edge of the stage and handed me his guitar pick.  Me!  Little phenomenally uncool me in the front row.  Amazing.  I don’t think I stopped talking about it for months.  (Years?)

And I was hooked on live music and the thrill of getting some silly acknowledgement from a the band that your love of their music and their art was appreciated. A drumstick here, a guitar pick there.  A photo with the band after the gig (in the freezing cold, usually, at 1am).  As I grew older and got my own transportation it was the recognition I craved.  For one of them, any of them, to remember my name.

Allison, hello!  Good to see you again. Isn’t Chicago a little far from Cleveland?

“While you were sleeping I was listening to the radio wondering what you’re dreaming  when it came to mind that I didn’t care.  And I thought, hell, if it’s over then I had better end it quick or I could lose my neve. Are you listening? Can you hear me?”
– Matchbox Twenty, Rest Stop

 But I couldn’t keep up with you guys.  Before I blinked, it seemed, you were selling out shows at ticket prices I couldn’t really afford.  Even those who were there at the relative beginning for shows at The Grog Shop got lost amidst the massive crowd being reeled in by chart-topping hits (one after the other). 

I never forgot you, though, or that first guitar pick I ever received from a band at a live gig  which I still have in a safe place.  Or the way it felt to get your autographs and see you smile at me!

It is because of you guys, and the fire you lit inside me, that I have followed live music so obsessively over the past 11 years.  I’m not as avid as those who make a living by it, but I have been to 275 concerts and some of my closest friends are people in the industry.

“Some things in this world they don’t make sense.
Somethings you don’t need until they leave you,
They’re the things that you miss.
Oh, baby, baby, baby when all your love is gone
Who will save me from all I’m up against out in this world?
And maybe, maybe, maybe
You’ll find something that’s enough to keep you
But if the bright lights don’t receive you,
You can turn yourself around and come on home.
-Matchbox Twenty, Bright lights

You and your music inspired my love of music and it was partially my love of music that led me to study abroad.  Which led me to a band who, when next touring America, led me to another band who eventually led me here to Scotland where I wouldn’t be if it weren’t, in a roundabout way, for you guys and your  music.  Convoluted, I know, but the idea is there.

So.  Thank you.  For lighting the fire.  For making such good music that I still listen to rather more often than I’d like to admit.  For putting out a Live DVD so I don’t have to cry when you come and play my city and I can’t make it to the gig.  For continuing to strive towards that goal.

Without you five and your music none of this would have happened.  And I really sincerely mean that.


Matchbox Twenty, How Far We’ve Come – Live from Abbey Road Studios

“I’m waking up at the start of the end of the world
But it’s feeling just like every other morning before
Now I wonder what my life is going to mean if it’s gone.”
-Matchbox Twenty, How Far We’ve Come

So, thanks guys.  I grew up listening to you.  How far we’ve come, indeed.

Keep up the good work. 

Come and play Glasgow.  Somewhere small (my house?).  And please don’t charge me £30 for the ticket. Remember, I was there at the beginning.

xoA

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