Wednesday, September 22, 2010

buzzfest 2010- A Kick in the Teeth

Buzzfest 2010 ~ Sept 10 2010 ~ Nashville, Tennessee

Buzzfest, the annual outdoor music festival hosted by Nashville's 102.9 The Buzz, returned again September 10 to Music City, bringing with it some of the biggest names in rock to the town known for it's country roots.   

Lesser known bands Janus and Seven Day Binge kicked off the show, but when faced with driving through rainstorms and potentially standing outside in said rainstorms for bands I that didn't pass my "instant fan test" when I sampled their music online, I chose to skip out on their sets. Sick Puppies was a band I hadn't seen before but enjoyed, though, so I made sure to get to the stadium (well, technically outside of the stadium where the main stage was set up) just in time for their part of the show to start, but still rockin' the rain boots, just in case.

Sick Puppies put on a good show, playing the songs that had made them popular, but many of the songs were unfamiliar to me, and just didn't draw me in. (And, for the purpose of full disclosure, at the beginning of Sick Puppies set, Shinedown was in the autograph tent, so i'll honestly admit that I listened and watched from a distance as I nervously planned to finally get a picture with my favorite band ever, only to realize once I got to them that no pics were allowed, as usual. But, I think my addiction to their shows and my name dropping boyfriend finally made an impression on their memory, and Eric, Zach, Barry and Brent FINALLY recognized us. At least Eric did, because he said "Nice to see you guys again." If that ain't proof, then i don't know what is.) Back to the point, though: Overall, Sick Puppies put on a good show and were great musicians, especially with the awesome girl bass player, but they would have been much more appreciated later in the day.    

Next up on the stage was Drowning Pool. This was the point in the day where the entire feel of the show changed. Excitement levels went up (right along side many people's drunken levels) and the crowd started to pack closer and closer to the stage. The combination of all these elements led to one of the first big blood-shedding fights of the day, and once that happens, you know a real rock show is about to begin.

After resurfacing a few years ago from relative obscurity with the release of "Full Circle," Drowning Pool brought a strong mix of their new jams along with the older ones that put them on the map. The audience loved every second of their latest single "Feel Like I Do," and also "37 Stitches," but the real reaction came as they finally played the one song we all had been waiting for: "Bodies." Hands shot to the air as they counted down the "nothing wrong with me's" and "something's got to give's" and collectively screamed the chorus to the song. As their set closed, the crowd was pumped up and ready for the rest of the lineup.       

As the sun started its decent down through the Nashville skyline, the stage lit up as Papa Roach kicked off their set. By this point, the crowd was just a lit up as the stage (but what else would you expect when a beer brand is the sponsor of a show?) and that was just the energy that was perfect for Papa Roach to feed off of.  They didn't play a bad song. Hit after hit, the new residents of Indie label Eleven Seven Music only played one song that the fans didn't know all the words to, but it was obvious that"Burn," off their newly released "Time for Annihilation" is destined to join the ranks of "Scars" and "Getting Away with Murder."
Frontman Jacoby Shaddix is widely known for his vocal abilities and front-man abilities, but the rest of the band really had a chance to show off during an extended intro into "Forever," proving that they were more than just a band with a good singer- they're an all around awesome band, with a live show that grabs you and doesn't let go.

By the time that Papa Roach had left the stage after a set cut short because of thunderstorm chances for the area, on and off sprinkles left the audience damp from the rain and sweat from the day's unexpected heat (remember, i was wearing rain boots--rubber rain boots.  rubber rain boots+no real rain+pretty outrageous heat= a slightly perturbed kelli with really hot feet. not so pleasant.) But, Seether was next on the list, so there was not time for whining, sitting, or even a much needed pee-break. I had made my way to the very front and not-quite center, so I was there to stay.

I must admit, I was a little weary of the Seether show. The last time I had seen them, it was right after the death of singer Shaun Morgan's brother. That show's mood was somber to say the least, still amazing, but Morgan had no interaction with the audience. He just sang the songs (really, really well!) and that was it. From the time the South African band took the stage, though, the feeling was different. Morgan conversated (i think i just made that word up, but i like it, so i'll keep it) with the audience, smiling and enjoying himself and, oh yeah, rocking out, too.

They plowed through favorites like "Fine Again" and their version of "Careless Whisper." We were even treated to a sneak preview of a new song from their soon to be released follow up to 2009's "Finding Beauty in Negative Spaces." A really beautiful part of their set came as Dale Stewart traded his bass for a guitar did a acoustic version of "Broken" with Morgan. Literally every voice in the audience sang along as they played a few verses.

Under a sky that had darkened from both clouds and the fading sun, the audience knew that after Seether left the stage, headliners Shinedown would soon be taking hold of the reins for the rest of the night (horse reference...the world equestrian games coming to lexington this week must be getting to me).

As you know if you've read any of my other blogs or know me at all, this was not my first Shinedown rodeo (horses? again!? ugghh!!). I had seen them about a month before at the Carnival of Madness, along side Sevendust, Chevelle, etc. I've seen them a couple other times for their Sound of Madness tour as well, so to say that I basically have the set memorized is an understatement.
 I was slightly disappointed with the set up time that it took. I don't know exactly how long it took, I didn't time it though I wish I would have, but it was slightly exorbitant. The crowd got irritated and even began throwing bottles and cans onto the stage, yelling and just becoming unruly. Eventually, the white sheet was raised up and 99 problems blasted over the speakers, and I (thanks to my extensive Shinedown experience) knew that the show was about to start.           

This set was basically the same as the Carnival of Madness (which varied only slightly from Sound of Madness, but I'm not complaining. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Plus, how different can you make the show with no new album?) Brent, who in case you live under a rock or are just not as obsessed as i am is the singer of Shinedown, did the whole "look to the left and to the right of you, make friends, we're the only people in the world who matter right now" and before "If You Only Knew" gave his little speech about how women are the most beautiful creatures on Earth. I enjoyed them just as much as the first time I heard them. He also did the whole "rise" element of the show, and for those of you who don't know what that is, I'll let you go to your first Shinedown show and experience that for yourself.  It's pretty sweet :)
The rest of the show was amazing, as usual, with a mix of songs from all their albums, including an acoustic version of "Simple Man" that is always a winner with the crowd. But, during "Second Chance," my heart broke a little. Now, I am not so obtuse that I believe that every sound that I hear is live during the show, but i really believed that all of Brent's singing was live. But watch the video, specifically around the 16 second mark and see if you catch what I caught.        

Overall, though, the show was great. Shinedown puts on the best show of any rock band out today, with some of the best music as well. It is highly unlikely that the people who saw them for the first time aren't big fans now. Shinedown has the power to do that to ya. 

Buzzfest is almost guaranteed to be a great show, every year. With bands like Shinedown, Seether, and Papa Roach you can know that for the cheap ticket price you get an amazing concert. This year was no different--Buzzfest 2010's verdict: Simply Amazing, with scattered sprinkles, rain boots suggested.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

i know the breakdown

tell me again, i'm wide awake now baby...

-Tantric, 9-8-10 @ Bar Lex, Lexington. Kentucky-

To preface this blog, i must admit that i do not write as a completely unbiased, objective journalist. But then again, this is just a blog, so who says that I have to follow all those silly rules of "ethical" journalism anyway? Well, I guess I do...because here I am, admitting that I did not view the show in the most professional of manners. But that is actually the best part of the entire thing--more than just getting to see an awesome show that i can't wait to tell you about, I got to experience the entire thing just like i was part of the band (well technically part of the crew, but whatever, close enough). So, because of this compromising of my journalistic integrity, i can write this little review however i want, and say screw you to sounding all professional and such, and i don't even have to capitalize anything! so here goes:

When i told most of my friends i was going to see Tantric, they gave me a look that clearly said, "I don't know who in the world you are talking about, but you look really excited, so that's awesome!" I do admit that not all of them have the amazing taste in music that an aficionado like myself has, but still, i was a little surprised. And you, you reading this, unless you also are awesome or listened to rock radio at all between now and  2001, maybe you're confused too. Let me help ya out.      

Tantric is that band that you have heard on the radio who sing that song that gets stuck in your head that you memorize every word to, but you don't realize it until the next time you hear it. So what's that song for Tantric? Sing along with me now-

"I know the breakdown
Everything is gonna shake now, someday
I know the breakdown
Tell me again am I awake now, baby
You can find the reason that
No one else is living this way
Living this way" 
Or just watch the video. They can probably sing it better than my inner mind voice anyway. 


Remember it now? I thought so. Anyway, back to the exciting, objectivity-clouding part, aka the good stuff. My friend had worked for Tantric earlier in the year, and he decided to come visit at the show in Lexington, which was really convenient for me because i live here. So let me break it down for you, or actually for myself, because i honestly just like telling the story! Friend who might as well be "with the band" + kelli who for that night was with the friend = kelli is with the band. This concept isn't so new to me, since i have basically only dated boys in a band since i was a freshman in high school (that sounds bad, it's really just two boys, who were/are in the same band, which probably doesn't make it any better, but whatever). I always love every second of being backstage before the show, side stage or front row for the show, or on stage afterward when they make me carry equipment.

But this, this was different. This was no little local band (chasing layne, you know i love ya still). This was a platinum album-selling, world-touring, certifiable rockstar national act--who have a tour bus! So aside from watching them play, because i honestly really do like their music, i had one other dream for the night: hanging out with the band on the bus.

And my dream came true! Almost as soon as i got there, friend and i climbed up the steep steps of the bus and i shut the surprisingly heavy door, and there i was- living out the daydreams i have been having most of my life and crossing off two things from my bucket list: party with rockstars and get on a tour bus with said rockstars!

I'll keep my tour bus secret happenings to myself (mostly because i'm sure what you are imagining is much more exciting that what actually happened). Plus, i won't lie, it just sounds cooler that way. Here is where i would post pics of this part of the adventure, but taking pictures at the time would have made me felt like an asian tourist/13-year-old fan girl, so i refrained, quite unvillingly. I'll just leave it to you to imagine the awesomeness :)

But, i suppose i should actually talk some about the show, since the purpose of this is to serve as an "unofficial" review of the show, not the mode of transportation the band used to get there. From here on, it is professional real talk, seriously unaffected by my non-hoebagish-semi-groupie-wannabe status, i promise <3 

The band Adema was one of the openers for Tantric, and i knew i had heard of them, and i knew at some point sometime ago i had liked one of their songs...i just couldn't remember what the heck it was. So, thanks to the trusty myspace, i later looked them up and remembered that "Giving In" was the song that made them famous back in 2001. I really like that song so I was mad at myself for not watching their set (as i was busy with other things, like SITTING ON A REAL MOTHER FREAKIN TOUR BUS!), but then the next song came on the myspace music player, and i connected some of the dots of the night.

I did, in fact, see part of their set when friend and I were inside the bar, only i thought they were just a fairly decent local band who had been influenced a little too much by Korn. When I turned to the source of all information that is usually mostly true, wikipedia, to find out when they had actually been relevant, i figured out why Adema's singer sounded like he could have been a brother to Korn frontman Jonathan Davis: it's 'cause he is (well, technically just a half-brother, but it still counts. and an mtv news article confirms the kinship, in case you had any doubt in the wikipedia).

Anyway, the bit i did hear from them left me less than impressed. There are few things that lead me to be as disappointed in a musician than knowing that they are where they are mainly because of daddy (or in this case, brother).  They sounded just like Korn, and the live show just did not draw me in. The drummer was awkward to watch, plus he wore headphone/earmuff things that i just don't respect either. There was probably a big, important reason behind him wearing them, but still. Isn't there a saying that goes something like "if it's too loud, you're too...." well, you know how that one ends. You're in a rock band, hun, and those are not rock.

When Tantric took the stage, a large group had finally gathered in The Roxy at Bar Lex. They kicked the show with a few songs from their latest album, including the title track "Mind Control." The set flowed just like you would expect from a seasoned, experienced rock band. Energy was flowing from the entire group, with singer Hugo Ferreira belting out the songs just like they sound on the cds (which is always a relief when seeing a band for the first time). It was impossible to miss the musical chemistry between him and bassist Erik Leonhardt as he backed up the vocals. And violinist Marcus Ratzenboeck brought that sound that sets Tantric apart in songs like "Down and Out," all the while playing some pretty sick-looking violins.

I always had liked the music of Tantric. "Breakdown" is a really, really good song, and more recent releases like "Coming Undone," "Down and Out" and "Mind Control" have gotten pretty substantial radio play and are really great songs, too. I wasn't really familiar with their older songs, especially those from their first self-titled album. Seeing them live really gave me a much stronger appreciation for them, though. They are a solid band with their own sound that do not get the credit they deserve. Seriously, they should be a lot bigger.

Check out their music on (and make sure you listen to "Mourning," one of my new favorite songs, on Tantric). Download the songs (legally!),  buy a cd, or even better, catch them out live.  It would really be worth your time to finally put a face and a name to that band you keep hearing and loving on the radio.