Archive for concert

It is possible to grow up and still let the juice run down your chin.

Posted in Memoir, real life with tags , , , , , , , , on January 12, 2017 by sethdellinger

Our culture is full of tales that suggest there is a prime way to live life; movies, music and books that implore you to chase your dreams, to leave the safe confines of your daily routine, to reach out and grab life by the whatevers, because, you know, you only live once.  It’s a moving, inspiring narrative.  The thing is, you see, in our society, typically when someone does that sort of thing, we all look at them like they’re crazy.  I can’t believe she just up and moved to New York—to be an actress!  She had a pretty good job here, too.  She’s nuts!

And so on.

This is not going to be a piece of writing where I tell you how you should be living.  For the most part, how you are living is between you and, possibly, those closest to you.  It’s got nothing to do with me.  They make so many movies etc suggesting you grab life by the armpits because those kinds of things make money.  People love to be told how they are pissing away their existence.  Why?  Because almost everyone is, in some way, convinced they actually are pissing away their existence.

It’s hard to know how to live your life, right?  By the time you get one thing figured out, one part of you fully colored in, you’ve changed in other ways, and now you’re chasing other ghosts, ironing out new parts of you, nursing new interests.  The songs tell you to chase your dream but very few of us have just one enormous dream.  Most of us are a collection of dozens of itsy bitsy dreams.  I don’t suggest driving your car off a cliff over an itsy bitsy dream.

All I’m personally concerned with is being passionate, living with vigor.  I keep changing, evolving; it’s like I’m in the center of an orchard that is spinning around me and I’m leaping at fruit as they fly past.  Even as I near my fortieth year, I find my changes accelerating: I would be unrecognizable even to my thirty-year-old self.  With so much swirling into and out of my crosshairs, it’s impossible to laser-focus on something.  What I need is passion for everything.  The racing heart, smelling the book, walking outside in the cold to take the photograph, the peach juice running down your chin, holding Her as tight as I can.  I don’t need to move to New York to be an actress to squeeze the juice out—but maybe you do, so maybe you should.

And maybe you’re OK with rote routine, eating your food and drinking your water just to stay alive as long as possible.  That’s fine, too.  Like I said, this isn’t a piece of writing to tell you how to live your life.  That’s got nothing to do with me, because nobody’s paying me to write this.

But me, I need passion.

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For a few years in my early twenties I was passionate about Alcoholics Anonymous.  I mean that’s who I was for a little while.  I thought it was the life for me.  After being tentative and gradually going into that world, I fully immersed myself once comfortable.  I would get phone calls late at night and go talk to a drunk in need.  I gave a talk to troubled teens attending an early intervention class at a local church.  Almost all of my friends were members of AA.  We went to meetings together, then went out for coffee afterward, then sometimes even back to an apartment or house for a movie night after the coffee.  We took road trips together to meetings and seminars.  At the time, I was still considered a “young person in sobriety” (I was 25-26) and my closest AA buddies and I went to the Pennsylvania Convention of Young People in Alcoholics Anonymous (known as “Pennsypaa”).  We took over a hotel in downtown Baltimore (that’s right, it was in Baltimore–they like to make it a nice trip for everyone no matter where you live in the state) for three whole days.  That’s how passionate I was about Alcoholics Anonymous.  In addition to tons of panels and activities, there was also a room where they had round-the-clock meetings, one an hour, for the whole three days.  I made it my mission to do a stretch of 24 hours straight, but I think I only got 7 or 8 before I had to go sleep.  I had my favorite AA jokes (“They asked me to go to that meeting and give a talk on humility, but I said I’d only do it if enough people showed up”), I had my favorite chapters in the Big Book (“Us Agnostics”), and on and on.  It was my life and I thought it would always be.  It isn’t my life anymore, though.  It hasn’t been for a very long time.  Those guys I went to Baltimore with–there is only one of them I am still in touch with.  But that’s how it is supposed to be, back before social media changed our expectations; people, like passions, are allowed to come and go.  You can let them go.

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Like most of my blog entries lately, I’m just kind of thinking out loud here.  Don’t look too hard for an overarching theme or thesis.  As my birthday approaches I’m doing a little taking stock.  Certainly my life right now is the most amazing it’s ever been–it is not putting on a front to say that.  People think that if you say your life is amazing on the internet that you must be lying, but they think that because their lives are not amazing.  I assure you mine is.

No, I am not taking stock of my life in some way that implies it needs improved, but rather, to discern just how I have changed so much.  This is one of the more massive themes of all the blog entries I’ve ever written: how the old me becomes the new me becomes the old me becomes the new me and on and on and on.  And why do I think you’d want to read about this?  Why, because I assume the same thing is happening to you.

I suppose it’s possible this is not happening to you.  It’s possible the old you became the new you and then you stayed right there, and now you’re just you.  But again, that’s none of my business.

What I want to get at is, how much of those old me’s are still part of me?  Are there fundamental bits of Seth mixed up inside me, that have always been there and shall always remain?  Or do we change, piece by piece, insidiously, until the person we see in the mirror bears no relation to the people we were 10, 20 years ago?

Is there even a way to know the answer?

Sometimes I think the only thing in this world that cuts to any part of the truth of existence is music–music without words–and the only thing I can really create is words, but no music.  So there you have it.  Questions stacked on questions like mirrors looking into mirrors.

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I’ve seen Pearl Jam live 21 times.  Approximately.  It might be 17.  I know it is more than 15.  At some point in my life I knew that number very concretely.  That is how much has changed within me since I gave up the ghost on Pearl Jam.  For a very long stretch, the band was my life.  I bought everything you can possibly imagine–spending thousands of dollars on the band’s merchandise.  When they would tour, I would take vacations from work and follow them up and down the east coast, staying in hotels by myself in places as diverse as Jersey City to Virginia Beach.  I attended about 75% of those Pearl Jam shows all alone, and did not mind one bit.  I used to tell people I had to go to as many shows as possible because Pearl Jam concerts were “my church”.  Especially the long instrumental parts they would play in “Even Flow” and “rearviewmirror”; I would close my eyes during these times and replay my life up to that point, flipping through memory images, whatever came to mind and seemed significant, and then giving immense thanks that I had come through everything to be in a position to be standing there, right then, as this band was creating this music, and I had enough money to buy the poster and a t-shirt and my own hotel room.  When the band cycled back around to the climax of the song, I’d open my eyes, always tear-filled, and they’d pour down my cheeks, and I’d jump like a maniac as the music built to a catharsis, and I’d scream and pump my fists and let out my barbaric yawp.  It was my church.  I did that for a long time.  Seven or eight years.  But I don’t do that anymore.  I didn’t even look at the setlists for Pearl Jam’s last two tours.  I’m more of a Miles Davis kind of man now.

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People talk very poorly of “routine”.  They are afraid of falling into routine.  They think routine will just sap the authenticity directly out of your life.

Here is what they mean: they are afraid of getting old and having responsibilities.

Lord knows I was afraid of those things for a very long time.  I lived by myself for a decade and railed against the breakfast-nook-having, 401k-caring-about, child-rearing snoozevilles.  But guess what?  While I was living alone, bitching about all that, I still had a routine.  I may have been able to take road trips more often, stay out late, what-have-you, but ultimately, if what you fear is routine, then you are fucked, mister, because whoever you are and whatever you do, you are already in a routine.

I have a family now.  I am now living much closer to what some people would call a “normal adult life”, and yes, we have a routine.  Having a routine is how you make sure you get out the door in the morning (if that’s what you have to do), get food in your belly, pay the power company on time.  Having a routine and being in the flow of “normal” adult life doesn’t mean your passion has to be siphoned off.

But you gotta work at it.

The last thing I want, as I near forty and the changes inside me keep accelerating, is to live joylessly, simply existing, from one day to the next, sun up, sun down, alarm beeping, alarm beeping.  Luckily my partner is also a person with no interest in living an ordinary life, even if we do want to have breakfast nooks someday and pay attention to our 401ks.  Intense existence and successful adulthood, I think, are not mutually exclusive.

I want our family to be safe from harm but I don’t want to “be safe”.  I want desperately to reach further and further out of my comfort zones.  I want to do new stuff until the day I die.  I don’t want to only listen to the music I loved in high school.  The world is so damn huge.  We’re only here for a blink.

I have learned that it is possible to grow up and still let the juice run down your chin.

My Life in the Church of Nobody

Posted in real life with tags , , , , , on October 16, 2015 by sethdellinger

willis-earl-beal1

Approximately three years ago (the time period of my life when I was living with my mother in South Jersey), I was driving my car listening to NPR. I was listening to the show “All Songs Considered.”  I had tuned in about halfway through, and was listening to a conversation with a musician whose name I never caught. He was a very serious man, he took his music very seriously and everything he said was heavy and dense, laden with meaning, a man many people might label as over-serious, and off-putting to some. But it was just the kind of talk I like, because I like art  that is discussed with reverence. At the end, him and a small band played a song, the title of which I didn’t catch, although I caught some of the words. (it was “Nobody Knows”, although I have yet to find a recording of a live version that rivals the one I heard on NPR that day). The performance was absolutely haunting, and I couldn’t get it out of my head. Unfortunately, I had still never heard the man’s name, or even the name of the song. Eventually I Googled some of the lyrics, and I did manage to find out who he was: Willis Earl Beal. I YouTubed him, watched some performances, and fell quite in love. Not only was his music amazing, his lyrics were literature, and his voice had a bluesy-country-rock quality I’d never heard anywhere before; he sounded like God would sound if he was slightly drunk.  But on top of all that he had a philosophy to his entire oeuvre, a philosophy of nothingness, of him being nothing, of channeling the universe, and all of us also being nothing. It’s a pretty intense philosophy, and more than I can really explain here in this blog, and maybe more than he could even explain to you, but something about it, somehow, connected deeply with me. I bought his debut album, Nobody Knows, on vinyl as well as CD, and even bought two extra copies on CD and sent to friends of mine who I thought might appreciate his music. I dove deeply into some of his online videos, they were not music performances but helped to fully flush out his philosophy, The Church of Nobody. It would be fair to say that for a short time at least, I was a disciple. Being interested as I am in tons of things, he slid off my radar a little bit after a few months, but would always pop back up here and there. I would say not two months will go by without me going to a small Willis Earl Beal  phase.

Willis isn’t famous by almost any definition in America. You’ll never see him in a magazine, (although you might see his name briefly mentioned Rolling Stone). But there are a few circles in which he is very famous. Some of the alternative music press covers him extensively, treating him almost like the next Bob Dylan, with the positives and the negatives that might come from that. He appeared in the much lauded independent movie, to vehemently mixed reviews. Music and culture critics are very torn on how to take him and how serious he is, and his philosophical approach to music, which some say is absolutely brilliant, and some say means almost nothing. Following his debut album, Nobody Knows, he put out an album the next year, Experiments in Time, which I must admit even I was not a big fan of. It was too aimless and meandering, seemed thrown together in order to put an album out. It was also markedly different than the album prior, and if nothing else, I had to respect his change in direction.

Flash forward to yesterday. I work at a nationally recognized coffee chain. I was sitting out in my lobby, doing some work on my laptop, when I looked up and saw what I thought at first was a kind of hapless man, walking around with a cell phone, looking for an outlet to plug it into so he could charge it. I had to snicker because of how fairly helpless he looked doing it, but there wasn’t much I could do to help him as none were open at the moment. I went back to my work. A few minutes later something caught me out of the corner of my eye. I looked up to see the same man, who was with a woman about his age, at one of my outside tables, apparently having trouble with a bee. He was trying to shoo it away from his table with a magazine. He was up and running around, and the woman he was with was laughing at him. I chuckled to myself, and then did a double take. The man was wearing a Willis Earl Beal T-shirt, that has his Nobody logo. My first initial thought was, holy cow, a Willis Earl Beal fan! It would have literally been the first time I had encountered such a thing. But then I realized the man I was looking at roughly matched Willis’ description. I looked at his face, and it was him! There was absolutely no denying it in my mind.  Willis Earl Beal was at my place of employment. And before I knew it, I also realized that I was getting up to going talk to him. I can’t really describe the surreal nature of this, especially since I now work in a suburban Harrisburg, Pennsylvania store, not exactly the sort of place independent artists travel through frequently.  But there was never a moment of hesitation in my mind, or any rehearsal of what to say, or even a moment of nervousness. I just said to myself, I’m gonna go talk to Willis Earl Beal . And that is what I did.

I walked out the front door, turned the corner, and cognizant of the fact that they might not want interrupted or bothered, I said, “I’m sorry, but are you Willis Earl Beal?”  He definitely looked startled, as did the woman he was with, and he said, “yes I am!” The exact wording of what followed kind of escapes me. I thanked him for the music, and he expressed some shock that he had been recognized. Even though he is a large figure in some critical circles, he’s not a man who gets recognized often. We quickly began speaking very much like equals, like two people who were just talking to each other. It was one of the most surreal, electric experiences I’ve ever had. Now, while I’m a fan of Willis Earl Beal , I can’t say that he is absolutely one of my favorite musicians. That would be misrepresenting the case. He would not make my top 10. Would he make my top 20? Absolutely. I am passionate about a whole lot of things, and Willis Earl Beal  certainly falls into that category. So all of a sudden, I go from working at my job in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania to sitting across the table and speaking quite frankly and candidly to Willis Earl Beal. This is the sort of thing that simply does not happen.

After a few minutes I admitted I had not heard his latest album (Noctunes), and he offered to sell me a copy of it on vinyl out of his car. I quickly ran to the neighboring  supermarket to get some cash, which I overpaid him for by a little bit in appreciation for his artistry. He signed the record for me, and him and his girlfriend (who is the woman he was with) did not appear to want to stop speaking to me. The three of us had a good rapport, so I just continued to sit there and talk to him. We spoke a lot about the nature of creating art, and how one’s voice and talent evolve over time, and how  some of your earlier stuff can become unrecognizable to you. I told him about how I dabble in writing, and we spoke about that craft as well as the craft of music, me admitting I know nothing about creating music but my intense appreciation for it. We spoke about what it is like in our culture to become known like he is, but still struggle financially, and what is like to have people you don’t know recognize you, and how that changes you as a person. All in all, it was only a 20 minute conversation, but it was very real, and a very intense experience for me. I daresay in some ways it seemed to be a pretty intense experience for him too, not only to be recognized, but I think he rather enjoyed the conversation, as did his girlfriend,

I excused myself even though I had much more to say and didn’t necessarily have to get back to work, but I didn’t want to overstay my welcome. I went back to my laptop, and looked up periodically every few minutes, to the astonishing sight of  Willis Earl Beal sitting outside the window. He was there for about another hour, when I watched him and his girlfriend walk off and get into his car. Another astonishing fact that came out of this meeting was the fact that he is playing a show here, in Harrisburg, tonight! How such a thing slid under my radar, I won’t know, but you best believe I will be there. I quite some time ago stopped hero worshiping people, thinking that the famous or semi famous people that create the things I love are somehow different or more elevated than me. So I definitely do not have a feeling that I was in the presence of a different sort of person in this experience, but the infinite level of statistical improbability of what happened, coupled with the ease with which the two of us fell into conversation, and the depth that we reached, cause a sensation in me but I don’t even have a word for.

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We Forgot All The Names, the Names We Used to Know

Posted in Concert/ Events with tags , , , on March 19, 2014 by sethdellinger

I had big plans to write my first big concert blog in a long time after last night’s Arcade Fire show.  I long ago ceased writing lengthy concert reviews when I realized nobody really cared (not your fault!).  But last night’s show was SO different than any rock concert I’ve been to, I had big plans.  But the need to go to work in between the concert and the blog has taken the wind out of my sails, so allow me to make a long story somewhat short.

So the music media has made a big fuss over this tour.  Arcade Fire has, in the past year or two, become an immensely popular band, but not in the usual way.  They don’t have any radio songs.  Their music doesn’t necessarily appeal to the average music consumer.  And yet millions and millions of people like them.  They are a band with “indie” or “hipster” appeal, and when a band such as that decided to play arenas, a lot of people cry foul.  I understand this argument.  To make music from a distinctly artful, non-populist place and then play immense buildings whose construction was underwritten by public tax dollars and then named after banks and beer companies, well, it’s weird, but also: that’s life.  What ya gonna do?  They’d have to play ten times as many club dates to allow this many of their fans to see them.  And I have no problem with talented artists getting rich.  So anyway.  There was also the thing I mentioned earlier in my blog about them requesting formal wear and costume.  So yeah.  A lot has been said and written about this tour (known as the Reflektor tour).

The band obviously has done all it can to silence these critics.  From the moment I entered the building I never once thought about the fact that I was at an arena rock concert.  Not once.  Not everyone was in costume or formal wear, but well over 50% (my guess would be 70%) were in one or the other.  Enough so that I never once felt self-conscious about my mask.  There were many and various interesting things set up and taking place throughout the concourses that added to the effect of being somewhere other than a rock show–I don’t have time or space to detail them. The house lights were kept off for the entire duration of the audience being in the building.  This is actually unheard-of.  What this means is, once we left the concourse area where you buy your beer and t-shirts and went into find our actual seats, the lights were off.  Like, even before the opening act.  The lights stayed down during the opening act.  Of course there were the lights from the stage, etc, but the big lights, the “house lights”, stayed off.  This added a major effect of otherworldliness (although admittedly also was in many ways a pain in the ass).  The lights stayed off when the opener was done playing, in the wait period before Arcade Fire came out (the house lights always come up between acts!).  but most surprisingly, the lights still stayed off even after Arcade Fire was done.  This almost seems like a safety concern!  But it was worth it.  It was the first thing, aside from our own costumes, that immediately changed our expectations of this event.

The modern-day rock concert is very predictable.  It moves with a certain pace and certain things always happen on cue.  Nothing was to be like that at this show.  I swear I’m trying to hurry this story up.

The opening act: Dan Deacon.  This man is an electronic musician (he makes music by himself using, well…electronics).  Again, right off the bat, just not what this audience is expecting.  But I must say, his music does compliment Arcade Fire’s rather well.  The big deal here is that Dan didn’t play from the stage Arcade Fire was going to.  He was on a stage at the other end of the arena.  This was genius.  See, the folks in the first 20 or 30 rows against the stage (they are not in assigned seats like me but are General Admission) are not going to do any dancing or moving, because they are concerned with their placement by the stage.  But Dan’s position at the other end brings the General Admission folks who were too late to get a good spot at the main stage over to HIS stage, and he proceeds to do amazingly interactive things with them; dance contests, “high five walls”, all kinds of neat stuff that probably is pretty run-of-the-mill at electronica shows but is all-but unheard of at a rock show.  The audience was interacting.  On a large scale!  AND, on top of all this, this unique and terrific activity made those of us in the stands rapt with what was happening.  Let me break that down: a bunch of hipster rock fans were rapt with attention at an electronic musician opening act.

So that was kind of neat.

So Dan Deacon got done and we waited for the main act. The lights stayed down which was creepy and awesome and annoying.  The wait wasn’t as long as normal.  After about 20 minutes, with very close to no warning, the main stage throbs with sound and light, the curtain gets yanked up, and suddenly Arcade Fire is playing “Reflektor”, the title track from their new album.  I was really far away but this is what it looked like from closer.  It happened with so little warning, I can’t find a video on YouTube that actually caught the beginning:

So then they rocked our faces off for awhile, which I won’t bore you about.  There were tremendous things throughout to really set the show apart: confetti and lots of it from the rafters, lots of glow in the dark things, incredible stage presence with jumping and dancing and twirling of strings and people wearing many different masks and just all kinds of oddities.  But mostly just really incredible, intelligent, emotionally-charge artistic rock music that can’t be beat.

I regret there is not yet quality video of their performance of “Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)”, a song that is constructed like a swelling rock anthem, but is a story about two children whose town gets completely buried in snow, but they climb out their chimneys and survive, eventually reverting to more bestial ways and forgetting much of their past civilized lives, while also falling in love with one another. It exists as a wholly unique song in the pantheon of rock.  It has always moved me with its sideways and unexpected approach to deep human themes such as fear of loss, longing for love, and desire for the unexpected.  And yet, as unconventional as it is, as the song began to play, 20,000 people sang, quite loudly, along with me, lines such as

“Then we tried to name our babies,
but we forgot all the names that,
the names we used to know.
But sometimes, we remember our bedrooms,
and our parent’s bedrooms,
and the bedrooms of our friends.”

We were singing these unconventional lines like it meant something to us, like it was important.  Like they were secrets.

On their most recent album, they have a song called “We Exist”, which is about the pain of teenage gays “coming out” (so far as I know, everyone in the band is straight).  A great moment for me was Win’s introduction of this song, which can be seen in the video below, and then the absolutely terrifyingly gnarly version of the song they proceed to play.  What isn’t visible in this video is that during this song, the “reflektor man” came out and stood on Dan Deacon’s stage, as spotlights

"Reflektor Man" on the opener's stage during "We Exist"

“Reflektor Man” on the opener’s stage during “We Exist”

bounced beams onto all of us, as Win sang, from the vantage point of teen gays, We exist! It added yet another layer to the complicated, thrilling, and admittedly academic theme of reflection, twinning, and identity that is explored on the new album.

So the band ended it’s “main set”.  Here is one of those conventions of the modern concert industry I was speaking about.  The main act plays for about an hour and a half and walks off the stage, pretending the show is over.  We all know the show is not going to be over, that there will be an “encore”, regardless of whether it is asked for.  It is expected (one way we usually know this?  The house lights stay off, which of course means nothing to us now).  Well, literally the SECOND Arcade Fire walks off the stage, the openers stage again (which is closest to me) rises up in the air, and there are “The Reflektors”…this is an “alter ego” band that Arcade Fire has used throughout promotion leading up to this album.  This alter ego band looks like this:

the-reflektors-announce-the-end-of-collaboration-with-arcade-fire

The Reflektors are normally Arcade Fire wearing exaggerated masks of their own heads (get the exploration of identity and reflection????) but clearly this group that just popped up on the second stage was not them.  After claiming to be the true “great band here tonight” and trying to get us to chant “Arcade Fire Sucks”, a recording of Chubby Checker’s “The Twist” started playing and The Reflektors pretended to be playing it.  About halfway through the song, Arcade Fire came back out on the main stage (never a moment of us having to cheer really loud for under some guise we were “trying to get them back out”, no long moments of interminable waiting…just straight-through unexpected oddity).

So.  The encore.  They played a four song encore.  The second was a cover of BoyzIIMen’s “Motown Philly”.  They’ve been playing geographic-specific covers at every show so far, but I honestly was not prepared for this! Watch this amazement by clicking here.

The next-to-last song was the Haitian-music inspired “Here Comes the Night Time”, which featured by far the largest blast of confetti I’ve ever seen.  Click here to see it.  Start watching around 3:30 to be in good shape for the confetti blast.

They closed, of course, with their raucous heartwrencher “Wake Up”.  If you watch only one video on this page, you should make it this one.  Look at and listen to the crowd in the great video this person took.  This rivals the best crowd moments I ever had at a Pearl Jam concert.  Here are 20,000 grown people have an absolute, without-a-doubt, joyful cathartic moment together.  I should have expected that moment when they let us do the singing but it took me by surprise and shook me up. Watch how, after the drastic tempo change about 3/4 of the way through the song, the entire arena turns into a huge dance party.  And seeing the big frat-boy-esque lugs beside me just belting out lines like “I guess we’ll just have to adjust!” was a perfect illustration of what makes this band so great, and also so unconventional.

Setlist:

1. Reflektor
2. Flashbulb Eyes
3. Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)
4. Rebellion (Lies)
5. Joan of Arc
6. Rococo (with snippet of Lady Gaga’s “Do What U Want”)
7. The Suburbs
8. The Suburbs (continued)
9. Ready to Start
10. Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)
11. We Exist
12. No Cars Go
13. Haiti
14. Afterlife
15. It’s Never Over (O Orpheus)
16. Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)

Encore:

1. Normal Person
2. Motownphilly (Boyz II men)
3. Here Comes the Night Time
4. Wake Up

The Soundtrack of My Skinny Jeans

Posted in Prose with tags , , , , on March 12, 2014 by sethdellinger

There is a lot of trash around my neighborhood.  Like, ALOT.  I suspect it is a result of there being snow cover essentially all winter long (preventing any random trash from being cleaned up or blowing away, etc) and then having all of the snow melt in one day, in addition to there being so many cancelled trash pickups due to aforementioned snow.  But seriously, my hood looks like ass.  I hope the city has a plan to clean this all up, because we’re not going to do it ourselves, and as things are, Pennsport and really all of South Philly kind of looks like something from Judgment Night.

Speaking of Judgment Night, anyone near my age remember that soundtrack?  Remember how that was kind of a big deal, with rock bands playing with rap stars?  Remember the Crow soundtrack?  Is this still happening, soundtracks that are big deals?  I don’t really hear about it, and I’d be tempted to think it’s because I’m too old, but really, let’s be honest, I’m still really fucking hip.  I heard a few rumbling about some of the Twilight and Hunger Games soundtracks (a few of “my” bands had songs on them) but they didn’t seem to be cultural milestones.

Speaking of me being “hip”, let’s get something straight: I am not a hipster.  Not even close.  For all those reading, let’s define what “hipster” has come to mean over the past few years. It means this guy:

hipster

First of all, in this guy’s defense, Swans is a badass band.

But clearly, I am not this guy.

I like a lot of what hipsters like.  I like the same bands.  I like the same authors (because hipsters read!).  I like the same movies.  We have the same worldview, typically.

Hipsters and I even share the trait that we kind of think we’re pretty great, and the stuff we like is probably better than the stuff you like.

But…hipsters want constant credit for it.  They want to dress and grow facial hair and present themselves to the world in a way that demands your attention and that you acknowledge they are hipsters.  Despite outward appearances, I do actually have a very well-formed fashion philosophy that involves minimalism and austerity.  I don’t wear any jewelry.  I don’t accessorize.  It’s not as though I want to “blend in”, but more a nod to the notion that the content of my work, words, and deeds is what defines me.  I define myself through the way I walk, the way I glare at you as I pass you, the way I laugh with my head turned down while patting you on the back.  My simplistic and earth-toned style of dress is not meant to make me blend into the pack, but instead to put me, myself, and the content of my personality front and center, and not have the focus be on the quirkiness of my outward presentation.  The way I see it, any boring, fluffy fraud can pick out bullshit clothes at a thrift shop and grow a Rollie Fingers ‘stache.  It takes balls to be compelling with a t-shirt on.

There are many other substantive ways in which I differ from hipsters: they’re mostly vegan, I’m mostly beef and cheese.  They’re all about tattoos and piercing and I’m indifferent (I have one tattoo almost by accident).  And on and on.  But mostly it’s about people: they want to be defined as part of this group, and I want to be defined as only me.  I am not a part of any movement.  For the love of science, folks, how could anyone who knows me and also is familiar with hipsters think that I am a hipster??  Please think for yourselves.  You can like My Morning Jacket and not be a hipster.

SPEAKING OF BANDS I LIKE (I am doing great with transitions in this entry!) this coming Monday I am seeing Arcade Fire.  So pumped!  Anyway, before this tour started, they announced they would like the folks attending their shows to wear either formal attire or costume (here is an article about it and here is another one…and that second article is not at all happy about it).  Believe it or not, there was actual backlash about this!  I mean, this is Arcade Fire, not freakin’ Foo Fighters.  What kind of person would be a fan of this band and not like this, or at least be unsurprised by it?  This sort of thing is exactly why we like Arcade Fire!  They make badass quirk rock that you can hang in the Louvre…I don’t want to see their show in jeans and a t-shirt.  If I owned jeans (hipsters wear jeans, I don’t own a pair, so fuck you).

Anyway, I stopped by a costume store today to find something to wear.  I bought this awesome mask.  I’m not sure about the jacket…should I wear what I have on in this picture, or something goofy, or something “normal”?009

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Behemoth

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on October 18, 2013 by sethdellinger

Godspeed You! Black Emperor at Union Transfer, Philly, 10/16/13

Setlist:

1. Hope Drone
2.  Mladic
3.  Gathering Storm
4.  Terrible Canyons of Static
5.  Moya
6.  Behemoth

Notice they only played six songs.  Well, that took three hours.  I thought they were going to play all night!

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Here is the video of their set-closing, bone-crushing barnburner, “Behemoth”, from the show I was at Wednesday night.  Even if this kind of music isn’t your thing, I implore you to just watch a minute or two to get an idea of just what in the world this band is all about:

Young Blood

Posted in Concert/ Events, Philly Journal, Rant/ Rave with tags , , , , , , , on October 8, 2013 by sethdellinger

1. Let’s talk a little bit about Facebook, and/ or any other online social media you’d like to apply this to: my Facebook page is not a magical realm of free speech and considered debate.  It (as well as, obviously, my blog.  Hey, you want a blog too, you can get one!) is a place where I put the stuff that I already think.  Sometimes, that stuff is “I like Triscuits”, but other times it might be “We need stricter gun control in this country, because guns and people kill people.”  Those are my opinions, and I didn’t get them from numbskulls like you, I got them from the world, and my observations of it.  Now, you are of course more than free to have your own opinions, and even ones that are different than mine, but these people that seem to think that everything needs debated all the time, and that you need to listen to all sides of a debate! are mistaken for a few reasons.  Yes, debate is healthy and necessary, but I don’t spend all my time online, nor do my opinions get formed or forged there.  By the time I’ve “statused” an opinion, I’ve read about, watched something about it, talked to a human being in person about it, observed something about it, etc.  I communicate things via social networks that I already think.  Now, you may ask, what’s wrong with even more debate?  And my answer to you is, nothing is wrong with more debate, but not Facebook debate.  Facebook debate sucks.  Nobody is ever swayed by anything said online, it makes me hate you, it reveals your lack of grasp of the English language, it wastes my time, and makes people who like each other say things they regret.  Just don’t bother.  And then, the topper, is when since it is after all MY Facebook page, I delete the contrary comments so as to avoid the debate, the person notices I’ve deleted the comments and wants to get all high-and-mighty as though I am oppressing their free speech or quashing some important, vital public discourse.  Listen Chachi, this aint Meet the Press, you aren’t the Op-Ed page, and Facebook isn’t housed in the National Archive. Step off my status, Anthony Scalia, I already know what the fuck I think.

2.  I just saw “Gravity” in the movie theater.  This was a fantastic experience.  Now, don’t get me wrong, this isn’t about to become my “favorite” movie, but it is very unlike anything else I’ve ever seen in a movie theater.  It is an experience.  I don’t want to oversell it here, but listen, this thing has GOT to be seen on a big screen, in 3D, if you want to grasp what the whole point of the endeavor is.  Do it.  Go.  Soon.

3.  As you may know, for many years, I was a very vocal opponent of professional sports.  I thought they are a nuisance distraction from what is generally important in the world.  I thought the energy and attention that followers of sports devote to them was a drain on other places they could be placing that attention, such as government and world affairs, the fine arts, the world of science, and the great story of human history.  Guess what?  I still absolutely think that is true.  There isn’t really any getting around it: professional sports are, by-and-large, a great waste of time by otherwise fantastic cultures.  It’s just that at some point a few years ago, I made a conscious decision to drink the Kool-Aid.  I now follow sports like a 70s housewife followed soap operas; all-too aware of their impotence in the world, but completely invested regardless.  And it is through that lens and with those caveats that I now say this: why the fuck do some of you people make a conscious decision to have “your” team be a team that is nowhere near you?  Like someone from Pennsylvania, with no connection to Colorado, being a Denver Broncos fan (hey! We have two pretty neat football teams in our very own state!) or someone from California being a Green Bay Packers fan (again…THREE serviceable teams in that particular state).  Now, I hear what you’re out there saying: But Seth, didn’t you just say that sports were essentially meaningless?  Didn’t you compare them to soap operas?  If so, isn’t my choice to follow the Vancouver Canucks just like preferring “General Hospital” over “One Life to Live”?  Well, that’s a pretty good point, but you’re wrong.  One of the few socially relevant and culturally significant facets sports do afford us is the ability to help define our regional cultures, bring us temporarily and intensely together as citizens of a common area, form loose bonds out of otherwise unrelated people, and energize regions and cities with not only economic growth and civic pride, but a kind of localized patriotism which, even though it arises from games that in reality mean nothing, it serves to define us as people from a certain place, with a certain history and tradition.  Once you have bought into this artificial but nonetheless powerful facade, you become part of the tapestry of the history of a place and culture.  And you want to go and just…like some team colors?  For a team that is from a place you’ve never been, and which you know next-to-nothing about??? That is NOT like choosing one soap opera over another, it’s like watching static on a screen while “Gone With the Wind” is on the other channel.  Put some meaning into your meaningless sport, I don’t care how long you’ve “liked” the Yankees.

4.  My buddy Kyle knows a girl who is in a band called The Colourist, and it turns out, they might actually be on the cusp of being a legit famous band!  (how do we know they are going to be famous? You have seen them in a commercial! This commercial!) They are currently on tour opening for a band called The Naked and Famous, which is a band that is currently enjoying a fair amount of stardom, at least on the “indie rock” scene.  Anyway, Kyle, knowing my penchant for concert-going and thinking one or both bands might be down my alley, asked his friend who is in The Colourist (her name is Maya) if she could put me on the guest list for their upcoming show in Philly at the Trocadero, and she did!  So tomorrow night, I get to go see a rock show for free! Yay!  Now, I have not been able to really familiarize myself all that much with the material of either band, but the listening I have done, I like but don’t love.  Both bands do make, generally, the kind of music I like, but they seem to draw a bit more from pop influences than usually suits my taste, but again, I haven’t listened too much.  But I certainly like them enough to go see them play!  Thanks again for the hookup, Kyle!

Here are the songs I have liked most so far from The Colourist as well as The Naked and Famous:

Everything’s Gonna Be Undone

Posted in Photography, Rant/ Rave with tags , , , on December 15, 2012 by sethdellinger

You may or may not know that one of the unstated goals I had when moving to New Jersey and hence ending the “living-alone-very-far-away-from-everyone-I-know” experiment, was to try to be less of an asshole.  Living so solitary, as I did for two years in Erie, hastened an already alarming trend within me that caused me to be cynical, unkind, and judgmental.  And nowhere was this more evident than when I went to concerts.

I was alone, and everyone around me wasn’t.  Generally speaking, the type of people who go to concerts are nice, gregarious, outgoing folks who want to make friends.  I hated them, I ignored them, I went as far as to be mean to them.  I hated strangers, but I hated strangers at concerts the most.

So it was with great pleasure and not just a little surprise that I realized, as Band of Horses was about to start playing tonight, that I had made friends at this concert; I was first in line (that’s right, first), and I never gave a second thought to striking up good-natured temporary kinships with my front-of-the-line-mates.  I ended up on the railing next to two of them (a married couple from Wisconsin who are following the band) and we talked Band of Horses while we waited for the show to start.  They saved my spot for me when I needed to pee—one of the more complicated and worrisome aspects of attending General Admission concerts by yourself.  When the show was over we hung out together to try to get setlists (we didn’t) and it was just very pleasant.  I ran into some other line-mates after the show as we stood in line at the merchandise booth and we talked like we were old pals. It felt nice not to be an asshole.

Here is a picture of the line (from my vantage point at the very front!!) just before doors opened:

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Band of Horses speak to my soul, whatever the fuck that means.  This band continues to evolve into a force in my life hitherto unfelt.  Tonight was my fourth time seeing them (still haven’t seen my Band of Horses white whale) and my emotional reaction keeps evolving (meaning I come close to crying like a baby a whole lot).  Ben Bridwell’s lyrics, coupled with the band’s live show–which is 100% exactly the kind of live show I want from a band–hit me in some secret place that even I can’t locate.

Here is tonight’s setlist:

01 Monsters >
02 Neighbors reprise
03 Compliments
04 Cigarettes, Wedding Bands
05 Laredo
06 The Great Salt Lake
07 Islands On the Coast
08 Northwest Apartment
09 Is There A Ghost?
10 Slow Cruel Hands of Time
11 Older
12 Electric Music
13 Dilly
14 Window Blues
15 Everything’s Gonna be Undone
16 Weed Party
17 Knock Knock
18 Ode to LRC
19 The Funeral

encore break

20 No One’s Gonna Love You More Than I Do (Ben & Tyler only)
21 A Song for You (Gram Parsons cover)
22 The General Specific

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