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Music journalist Travis Hay drops some knowledge and insight about local and national music news, offers reviews and offers a place for conversation on all things music.
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Archive for November, 2008

Remembering GNR’s last local show: A review of the 2002 “Chinese Democracy World Tour” show at the Tacoma Dome

Thursday, November 20th, 2008

Okay, so I’ll be the first to admit that I was a little high on the GNR juice (and maybe a few other things) when I wrote this.

It’s a review of the “Chinese Democracy World Tour” that hit the Tacoma Dome in 2002 that I wrote for the UW Daily while in college. It is one of my earliest concert reviews and I almost stand by everything I said six years ago when it was written.

I will say that Axl Rose is possibly the best rock frontman I have ever seen perform. He put on an amazing show six years ago and to this day it is still in my top 10 favorite shows I have seen (and I’ve seen hundreds of shows throughout my career as a music critic). Here’s what college me had to say about the show (from the UW Daily archives):

Welcome back to the jungle: Axl Rose returns

By Travis Hay
November 14, 2002

In its first North American tour in nine years, estranged metal rockers Guns N’ Roses rocked the Tacoma Dome last Friday with an explosive performance in front of thousands of eager fans.

However, the night’s festivities were not intended to begin the tour. The Nov. 8 Tacoma show was originally scheduled to be the group’s second show on the tour, but the first show never happened.

In typical Axl Rose style, the tour’s first show scheduled for the night before in Vancouver, B.C., got cancelled after event promoters said Rose was a no-show. The cancellation led to rioting concertgoers, the second Canadian riot caused by the band in a decade, making the Tacoma show the impromptu first performance of the North American tour.

During the band’s near decade-long hiatus, Rose rebuilt Guns N’ Roses from scratch, creating another rock tour de force, making the band bigger, louder and more powerful. After Rose felt comfortable with his creation, the band resurfaced for its first major public appearance earlier this year at the MTV Video Music Awards. There, the transfigured GN’R played a well-received three-song set. This resurrection of a rock n’ roll giant set the stage for what possibly was the biggest night in Tacoma Dome history. After a 45-minute wait between opening acts, Guns N’ Roses took the stage with a powerful, energy-filled version of “Welcome to the Jungle.” The crowd, filled with the usual suspects — women in fishnet stockings with bangs teased high as heaven, and guys with mullets wearing wifebeaters and torn acid-washed jeans — roared with approval.

The band kept the classics coming, with a crowd-pleasing set list filled with GN’R staples like: “It’s So Easy,” “Live and Let Die,” “Mr. Brownstone,” “My Michelle,” “Sweet Child O’ Mine,” “You Could Be Mine, “November Rain,” “Nightrain,” “Rocket Queen” and others filling out the performance.

Three new songs appeared in the middle of the two-and-a-half hour set, including “Madagascar,” “Rhiad” and “Chinese Democracy,” the latter of the three being the loudest and heaviest song, definitely reminiscent of material from 1987′s Appetite For Destruction. “Madagascar,” is a softer, more harmonious ballad, which brought out the lighters in force. All three songs show great potential for the highly anticipated Chinese Democracy, expected to be released sometime early next year.

In his return to the stage, Rose brought seven band mates to fill the shoes of his old Guns buddies. He hand-picked a cast of musicians with varying musical experiences to form a lineup that includes Richard Fortus, Robin Finck (Nine Inch Nails) and Buckethead on guitars, Tommy Stinson (the Replacements) on bass, Dizzy Reed and Chris Pitman playing keyboards, and Brian Mantia (Primus) drumming.

This method of addition by subtraction, replacing the four original members with seven new ones, worked out masterfully in Rose’s favor, matching, if not bettering, the technical prowess the old lineup was famous for.

The three guitarists did their best to make fans forget about ex-guitarist Slash’s sonic brilliance, nailing their solos perfectly while adding their own touches in the process.

However, the show didn’t go off without its share of glitches. Microphone feedback issues plagued what would have otherwise been a perfect start to a welcome-back tour. After the show, a spokesperson from the band’s management group said Rose blew out his vocal cords during the performance trying to compensate for the mic difficulties. However, the blown vocal cords were not apparent in the set, as he bellowed, screeched and wailed lyrics in his famous high-pitched, screaming-banshee style.

Perhaps the most surprising part of the evening wasn’t that Rose showed up, or that the new band almost sounded better than the classic lineup, the most surprising aspect of the night was the crowd. Rose’s new band’s coming-out party took place before a sparsely filled T-Dome crowd of slightly more than 6,000.

While GN’R's glory days are long past and primadonna antics were at a minimum in Tacoma, the triumphant return of one of rock’s original bad boys coupled with rioting Canadians proves one thing: It’s Axl’s jungle, we just live in it.


Live tweeting “Chinese Democracy”

Thursday, November 20th, 2008

As I’m typing this I am listening to “Chinese Democracy.” I am also live tweeting my thought about the record on Ear Candy’s twitter account.

I’m not using hashtags or anything like that to label my tweets, but I am live tweeting if you want to follow my twitter thoughts on the record.

Oh, and don’t worry my non-microblogging readers, I’ll regular blog about the record soon. So go ahead and follow me on twitter if you’d like to get a feel for “Chinese Democracy.”


Hear it here: Guns N’ Roses “Chinese Democracy” album

Thursday, November 20th, 2008

Some album called “Chinese Democracy” by  some band called Guns N’ Roses is streaming in full on MySpace/

I think I read out this album somewhere a few years ago and I think I remember the band from back in the day so I figured I would share the link.

You can listen to the album here.


Looking for something to do this week? Here are a few suggested shows

Tuesday, November 18th, 2008

I’m a little late with posting a link to my club column this week, so here it is and below are a few highlights of the column in case you don’t feel like clicking the link above.

  • Of Montreal is likely going to put on quite a memorable show at the Showbox SoDo Wednesday.
  • Dead Confederate is bringing back grunge with an alt-country tinge at Show Suey that same night
  • Lastly, The Hold Steady and Drive-By Truckers start a two-night stand at the Showbox SoDo Thursday.

What’s on your year-end lists?

Thursday, November 13th, 2008

It’s that time of year again. The time where music critics like yours truly begin composing lists of what they enjoyed most this year and then start spitting them out at various places throughout the Internet.

I am beginning to create my lists of favorites for 2008 and I want to know what some of your favorites were from this year. So let me know what your favorites were in the following categories and I will post them near the end of the year.

You don’t have send lists of every category and there’ s no limitations to the number of items that can be on a list. Also, feel free to explain your choices if you want to fill me in on your decision.

Here are the categories:

  • Albums
  • Local albums
  • Local bands
  • Local hip-hop records
  • New local bands
  • Concerts
  • Club shows
  • Festivals

Instead of dropping all your favorites in the comments field, please e-mail your lists to bestoflist@gmail.com. The deadline for these lists is Dec. 17.


Are John Mayer and Jason Mraz the same person?

Thursday, November 13th, 2008

Okay, so it’s likely that John Mayer and Jason Mraz are not the same person, I know that. I also know I am not the first person to point out the similarities between the two. However, after checking out Jason Mraz Monday night at the Paramount I see now why the comparisons are made.

I’ve gotta preface this post by saying that I am a fan of Jason Mraz and John Mayer. That doesn’t mean I listen to their records nonstop, that just means I enjoy their music. As I critic I find myself enjoying all types of music I wouldn’t normally listen to and Mayer and Mraz both fall into that category.

(more…)


Grynch EP available now for FREE

Thursday, November 13th, 2008

I’ve made my fandom of free music on the Internet no secret here on Spin The Black Circle.

I’ve also made no secret of my fandom of local MC Grynch.

So you shouldn’t be surprised that I am excited to share the news I found out earlier today from my friends at Sound Magazine about Grynch’s free digital-only EP.

You can download it by clicking here. Enjoy.


VIDEO: Cold War Kids ’02.08 to 06.08′

Tuesday, November 11th, 2008

The Cold War Kids shot a brief documentary about the recording of their latest record “Loyalty To Loyalty” and posted it to YouTube.

The roughly 34-minute documentary, titled “02.08 to 06.08,” was originally packaged as part of the deluxe edition of the album. You can view it below.

As for the record itself, well it’s pretty alright I suppose, but for some reason I can’t really get into it all that much. I am a fan of “Robbers and Cowards,” the band’s debut, but the new record seems a little disjointed to me. But that’s not to say you won’t like it. So please, don’t take my word as the definitive judgment on the group’s newest record.

You can find out for yourself if you like the new material next month at WaMu (Chase?) Theatre when the band performs at 107.7 The End’s Deck The Hall Ball.


Recommended shows for Nov. 7-13

Saturday, November 8th, 2008

If you’re looking to head over to Seattle this week and want to attend a few club shows while you’re in town, might I suggest clicking here to view my weekly show recommendations.

When you do click, here is some of what you’ll find:

  • Ozomatli performing two shows at the Showbox
  • Eddie Spaghetti (of Supersuckers fame) getting his honky tonk boogie on over at the Sunset
  • Kelley and Kim Deal coming to town with the reunited Breeders

Also of note is Jason Mraz, who is performing two sold-out shows at the Parmount. He always puts on a good show. I’ll be at the Nov. 10 concert, which is a special acoustic performance, doing that freelance critic thing I tend to do for money (also known as “work”). If you’re going to be there and spot me please be sure to say hello.


PHOTO GALLERY: McCready, Morello, Gossard and McDermott at the Showbox

Thursday, November 6th, 2008

All photos by Steven Friederich excpet for the last two in the set, which were taken by Anna Knowlden.


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Music journalist Travis Hay drops some knowledge and insight about local and national music news, offers reviews and offers a place for conversation on all things music.