Spin the Black Circle

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 September, 2009

Eddie Vedder gives 7-year-old boy & his father a night they’ll never forget

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

If you were at Pearl Jam’s concert Monday night you’ll recall Eddie Vedder pausing before “Off He Goes” to give a 7-year-old boy a guitar pick. That boy’s name is Matthew and he was attending his first ever concert with his father Jeff, who sent his story to me. This is their story, as written by Jeff Tuesday morning.   It is a story that doesn’t just convey the power of Pearl Jam, but the power of music in general. Be warned, it’s a tearjerker so have some Kleenex ready.

Tonight was an absolutely life changing night. Today I took my seven (almost eight) year old son to his first concert, of any type. I debated on it, but I really believed that he was ready to have this experience, to have it and hold it, and appreciate it for the rest of his life. He was ready. We got Backspacer in the mail Friday, and spent the weekend getting familiarized with it. He already is very in touch with the rest of the catalog, definitely has his favorites. But he is a new fan and, he really, really digs the newer stuff, mostly from the last twoalbums.

We got down to the arena about 5:30, we were going to check out Easy Street, and the pre party at TS McHugh’s, but I couldn’t resist, so we went to the 10c ticket window. And we got good news. Row seven. Dead center.Unbelievable. The greatest part of these seats was the fact that there was a wide aisle (maybe five feet wide?) directly to our left, we were on the aisle. And there were about three rows of people in front of us, so my son was able to just rock out, and see everything totally unobstructed. This could not have worked out better, it was meant to be.

Not one security guard said one thing about it. People were coming up left and right, high fiving him, jokingly asking if he wanted to trade seats with them. We both decided we wouldn’t have sold our seats for a million dollars. And that was before the first note was played.

We sit, and revel in these gifts from the heavens for awhile. What he said next really cracked me up. He said, “Dad, I’m just so excited. I feel like I can’t hold my feet still! And I have this feeling inside my stomach!” I was able to look at him and say that I felt the exact same way. I always do before a show. Now some people will say it was a waste of a five digit 10c numbered seat to bring a child, but this is a kid who somehow knows he is going to experience something special.

Ben Harper’s set was great, nice warmup. We play with the earplugs for the first couple songs, get them just right. Opener is Long Road, not something he’s really familiar with. I always dig it, though I’ve had it as an opener at least a couple times previously. Corduroy, and he is jacked. I made a point to familiarize him with the staples I guessed he would hear, and this was one. He’s totally smiling, and trying to figure out how to move somewhat rhythmically. Very entertaining. For the first time in my life, after 21 shows, I’m more entertained at the show by someone other than the five guys on stage!

Gonna See My Friend, again he is into it. One he said repeatedly he wanted to hear before the show. Singing along, I’m loving it. Got Some is another winner, same thing. Around this time, I notice Ed distinctly pointing at him, and connecting somehow. It seemed like he tried to throw him a guitar pick, but it went astray. It’s a thing I think it takes a parent to relate to. But there was just a lot of joy in that room, and my boy was immersed in goodness. Hail Hail / Amongst The Waves / Daughter. After daughter, he says “That’s it? What’s up with that?” There was no tag. That made me laugh too.

Evenflow and he gives me that look that any parent knows, like on their birthday when they open a gift that they really wanted, but really had no expectation of it actually showing up. Johnny guitar /Unthought Known / WWS. He was probably the only one there that didn’t notice the gaffes in WWS. He dug the avocado album, especially the upbeat stuff, so he’s happy. He got that look I see a lot of Tenclubbers get when they hear a song they almost somehow forgot about,but wanted to hear, and forgot they wanted to hear it!

Small Town. He is belting out the “I just want to scream hello,” and that was a special moment. I pull him close, and kinda just love on him like parents have to do at times. What happens next I still am having a hard time believing actually happened. My whole body just gets covered in goosebumps and I get the chills. Eddie goes down to one knee and says to the people in the first row, “Hey, could you do me a favor? I see there is a little boy up here in about the sixth or seventh row, could you hand this back to him?”

I can’t believe this is happening. He walks up the aisle, and it gets passed back. Ed asks, “What is he, about six or seven?” Seven, I yell back at him. Matthew is holding this guitar pick like it is a piece of gold. I hold him up, face to face with Ed, and my son tells him thank you. “What is this, about your fourteenth show?” Ed asks, jokingly. Whatever else happens tonight, this day is just unbelievable. There are no words to describe.

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Pearl Jam’s set list for 09.22.09 at KeyArena

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009

Here’s the set list for Pearl Jam’s second night at KeyArena (they played the song that is this blog’s namesake. Awesome!) Review forthcoming:

Sometimes
Why Go
All Night
The Fixer
Dissident
Johnny Guitar
Faithful
Lukin
Not For You
No Way
Unthought Know
Unemployable
Comatose
Insignifigance
Present Tense
Got Some
Go

FIRST ENCORE
Just Breathe with the Octava String Quartet
The End with the Octava String Quartet
Black
In My Tree
Spin The Black Circle

SECOND ENCORE
Supersonic (with custom lyrics about the Seattle Supersonics)
Do The Evolution
The Real Me with the Syncopated Taint Horn Quartet
Porch
Yellow Ledbetter/Star Spangled Banner


REVIEW: Pearl Jam at KeyArena 09.21.09

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

Pearl Jam opened its U.S. tour at KeyArena Monday. The band continues its tour at the Key tonight. Below is review of Monday’s concert. Check back Wednesday for a review of tonight’s show.

KeyArena hosted one of the biggest record release shows Seattle has seen Monday night.

Hot off the release of Backspacer, its ninth studio album and best record in more than a decade, Pearl Jam threatened to tear the roof off the building and the band nearly did with its 27-song set filled with fan favorites and new songs destine to be classics in the Pearl Jam canon.

“Tonight’s kind of a special night for us,” Eddie Vedder told the capacity crowd Monday night. “We’re trying to get this rocket ship off the ground here.” By the end of the night the rock ‘n’ roll rocket ship that is Mike, Eddie, Stone, Jeff, Matt and Boom had reached the stratosphere.

Choosing “Long Road” to start things off was fitting considering the show served as the start to the U.S. tour kickoff for the venerable local icons. The lyric “We all take the long road” seemed to metaphorically signify both the beginning of the tour and sum up Pearl Jam’s career arc during the group’s near two-decade run as a band.

Once “Corduroy” was delivered as the follow-up song things were officially kicked into high gear. When Vedder sang “EVERYthing has changed. Absolutely nothing’s changed,” the words couldn’t have been truer. With a new set of tunes under their belt Pearl Jam felt like a relevant, fresh band ready to take on the world that just happened to be packing a catalog of hits everyone in the crowd could sing along to.

As for the rest of the band, Mike McCready was his usual bouncy, guitar-soloing self, running all over the stage, jumping at all the right times to punctuate his moments of guitar genius. Jeff Ament stood steady as one half of the best rhythm sections making music today. Stone Gossard is still the most underrated rhythm guitarist in rock and you can’t say enough about Matt Cameron’s ability behind the kit. The group’s unofficial sixth member, Boom Gaspar, chimed in when needed too with brilliant organ work. You could tell the new album had breathed new life into the Pearl Jam machine.

Speaking of Backspacer, the set was peppered with cuts from the album released one day prior to the show and the new songs were some of highlights of the show. “Gonna See My Friend” followed by “Got Some” opened the door for “Hail Hail” while “Amongst the Waves” fit perfectly prior to “Daughter” in the set. In all, eight of Backspacer’s 11 tracks were performed with many being played live for the first time.

Of course it wouldn’t be a Pearl Jam show without some mention of politics and Vedder took to the microphone to deliver a few messages, the first of which came with a bit of a comedic twist.

“I wasn’t going to bring anything up politically since we’ve got these new songs and all,” Vedder said before pausing to briefly acknowledge the national healthcare debate and taking a moment to say the band agrees with President Obama. However, it wasn’t necessarily a healthcare mandate the band favored.

“We too think Kanye West is a jackass.”

The other political message actually didn’t come from Vedder directly; rather it came from Krist Novaselic. Vedder told the crowd Krist called him recently and asked him to urge the crowd to not vote for Susan Hutchinson. It’s good to hear members of the old grunge guard are still in touch with one another.

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The Flaming Lips on the Colbert Report

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

One of my favorite bands, The Flaming Lips, were on The Colbert Report Wednesday night. They performed "Convinced of the Hex" off the upcoming sure to be crazy record "Embryonic" (released Oct. 13) and Lips leader Wayne Coyne sat down with Colbert for a brief interview (Colbert’s interview with Wayne was way funnier than mine btw). Here’s the videos of both interview and the performance and you can stream "Embryonic" over on the Colbert Report’s Web site until Sept. 21.


PREVIEW: Alice in Chains new album Black Gives Way To Blue

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

Alice In Chains released a teaser of its highly anticipated upcoming record Black Gives Way To Blue earlier today. It’s no laser show, but it’s a nice sampling of what the album has to offer. The record drops Sept. 29.


PHOTO SLIDESHOW: Bumbershoot 2009 Day 2

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009


A note from Sabzi about his new mixtape

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

Blue Scholars’ Sabzi dropped a mixtape Tuesday called 69ROLLS&OOF!. You can download it for free right here.He also wrote some words explaining the project. Here’s what he had to say:

People ask me why I care about making a mix of Hawaiian tunes. I tell them that it’s because Iʼm from Seattle.

 

I donʼt think I can apply the word ‘foreign’ to any cultural elements that have influenced me in becoming the person I am today.

 

Through years of, um, ‘nourishment’ from grinds, to listening to Jawaiian tunes as a teenager, to starting a group with a military kid from Honolulu, to learning the meaning of ‘false crack’ the hard way (ha!)… the spirit of Hawaii has long maintained a notable presence in my life.

 

And while Iʼm not Hawaiian, nor do I claim to be a local boy, I acknowledge and am thankful for the role that the Islands have played in the development of my cultural identity.

 

For me, a big part of the OOF! EP project was to experiment with a new way of identifying who we are and where we come from. It was an exercise in global cultural expression. Perhaps this is the age we can start believing that ‘where we are from’ is anywhere that has influenced us in becoming who we are. And perhaps our brothers and sisters are simply those who want to share this belief with us.

 

Watch out tho. When you embrace this idea, you start to think that home can be everywhere and your people could be everyone.

New People comin thru, son!

 

Respect to In4mation for the nifty ‘OOF!’ logo they designed and lent us, respect to Ohana for engineering the delicious shrimp tempura + diced spicy scallop + krab + masago sushi that they’ve dubbed the ‘69 Roll,’ and respect to you for reading this and listening to these tunes.

 

Mahalo.

 

saba / sabzi


Everything you need to know about Pearl Jam’s Backspacer but were afraid to ask

Monday, September 14th, 2009

It’s no secret that I am a big Pearl Jam fan.

I operate a blog called Spin The Black Circle (which as you know, is not a Pearl Jam fansite), own a cat named Mookie and there are countless pictures of me all over the Internet in a blue and yellow Pearl Jam hat (which is my favorite accessory to wear). Given that information it should come as no surprise that I am excited beyond words about Backspacer, the band’s ninth studio record and its first independent release on its own Monkeywrench label.

Clocking in at 37 or so minutes, the record appears to be quick and dirty PJ and from what I’ve read the critics seem to like the album. The band is releasing the record in a myriad of formats ranging from vinyl to digital to ringtones to a special edition CD/video game combination. There’s even a special edition Backspacer t-shirt. All of this makes Backspacer one of the more intriguing releases of the year.

The album drops Sept. 20 one day prior to Pearl Jam’s kickoff of its U.S. tour at KeyArena. Here’s everything you need to know about Backspacer including info on a local release party and the record’s various formats.

First, here are the details on Backspacer itself:

The record will include what’s being called an “Ultimate Access Pass” which includes access to nearly five hours of additional audio content and allows access to preview 11 live bootleg recordings from past concerts. Backspacer owners will get to choose two of those bootleg concerts to download. The pass also allows access to future news and other updates from the band. The live shows being offered for download are: Halifax (22/09/05), Philadelphia (03/10/05), Santiago (21/11/05), Chicago (17/05/06), Grand Rapids (19/05/06), Camden (28/05/06), E Rutherford (06/03/06), San Francisco (16/07/06), New York (25/06/06), Hartford (27/06/08) and Mansfield (28/06/08)

Now the details on the record release party at Easy Street Records in West Seattle:

The store (located at 4559 California Ave SW # 200) is hosting a Backspacer Bash that starts Saturday at 9:30 p.m. and ends at 12:30 a.m. Sunday. At the bash you can listen to rare and live Pearl Jam as well as get a listen to Backspacer before buying it at midnight.

Also, if you bring in two non-perishable food items you will receive a free 2008 Pearl Jam tote bag while supplies last. Bring in five or more non-perishable food items and receive the tote bag and get entered to win some very cool PJ prizes including Pearl Jam Vs. Ames Bros. books, Live at Benaroya Hall vinyl, Eddie Vedder Live at Kenyon Hall poster and more. All the food items will be donated to the West Seattle Food Bank.

If you don’t want to stay up until midnight, here are some other ways you can get the record:

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PHOTOS: Bumbershoot acts you may not have seen (Sheryl Crow, Katy Perry, Black Eyed Peas, The Knux, Old 97s)

Friday, September 11th, 2009

Chances are if you’re like me you didn’t spend a whole lot of time watching the action on the main stage at this year’s Bumbershoot. But my good buddy Steven Friederich did spend time at the big stage and here are some photos of the action that he shot from the crowd in case you want to see what you missed.

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Words about Cirque du Soleil’s Beatles Love on 09.09.09

Wednesday, September 9th, 2009

Beatles Love

Anyone who has been reading my Twitter feed knows that I spent some time in Las Vegas a few days ago and while I was there I had my mind blown by Cirque du Soleil’s Beatles Love. It was a phenomenal experience and if you ever find yourself in Sin City you must see this show because it will be unlike anything you’ve ever seen and you will probably never think of the music of the Beatles’ the same again.

How amazing is this show? I cried tears of joy during the opening of "Get Back" and the tears came streaming back during closer "All You Need Is Love." That’s how good it is. Words cannot do this show justice. It’s not like other Cirque performances.

Yes there are people in costume jumping on trampolines and flying through the air while performing acrobatic stunts, but this show is more than just flying clowns. This show is a magical musical and emotional masterpiece. From the surreal, psychedelic themes and backdrops to the masterful mixing of Beatles music, Cirque du Soleil’s Beatles Love will be the most spectacular performance you have ever seen set to music.

The music is much, much more than just the soundtrack that was released a few years ago (there are snippets of studio conversations between the Beatles and there are a few non-soundtrack musical interludes that use Beatles songs) and when you add that to the dancers, acrobats, clowns and flying hippies you get way more than your $99 ticket’s worth of entertainment.

I don’t want to spoil the experience for you if you do attend the show so I won’t give away too much, but I will tell you that there are speakers in the headrests of the seats. The show is in the round and it features the best surround sound mix I’ve ever heard. Be ready for "Come Together," which comes shortly after the midway point. During the song John sings the chorus over Paul and John’s vocals come in through your seats. It’s feels like John Lenon is singing directly to you.

Here is a short video Love but it hardly illustrates the power and wonder of this truly magnificent show.

 


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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.