Sunday, July 31, 2011

Kings, This Is Not Winning!

Yesterday morning, I found out via twitter that Kings Of Leon had cancelled a show in Dallas, Texas halfway through the set. By doing what I do best (i.e. creeping) I managed to track down some more details about the incident. It seems that frontman Caleb complained of problems with his voice about seven songs into the set. He then said that he needed to go off stage to vomit and drink a beer, and then he would be back to play three more songs, presumably hits such as “Pyro”, “Sex On Fire” and “Use Somebody”. Well, Mr. Caleb never returned to the stage, and several minutes later, band members Jared and Matt came onto the stage and said that Caleb was “unfit” to pay the rest of the concert, but that they’d be back as soon as they could. In a youtube video, you can tell that Jared is shocked and extremely upset, he tells the fans to burn their records, but to hate Caleb because it’s not the fault of the rest of the band. Articles will later say that Caleb blamed his actions on heat exhaustion and dehydration. But is that the real story?

From a quick look through fans’ comments on the band’s facebook, it is evident that everyone is extremely upset about what happened. Comments on a youtube video of Jared and Matt’s apology to the crowd state that Caleb wasn’t just tired or dehydrated, but in fact too drunk to continue with the show. Jared later tweeted “Dallas, I cannot begin to tell you how sorry I am. There are internal sicknesses & problems that have needed to be addressed. No words.” , and after a second show in Texas was cancelled last night, “I love our fans so much. I know you guys aren't stupid. I can't lie. There are problems in our band bigger than not drinking enough Gatorade”. These tweets seem to allude to the fact that perhaps it wasn’t just dehydration after all. To see a band seem to fall apart like this is heartbreaking at the best of times, but it’s made all the worse by the fact that these guys are brothers. If you consider this, Jared basically told the fans to hate his brother. Eek. For their own sake, I hope that whatever is wrong get’s sorted out as quickly as possible. There is no denying the fact that Kings Of Leon are a fantastic band, and I would never stop being a fan of theirs no matter what was to happen, but I also have my concerns.

In March of this year, Lauren managed to convince me that we simply had to see KOL during their South African tour in October. The even had already been postponed once due to the fact that drummer Nathan had injured his shoulder. It wasn’t very difficult to convince me, and soon we were off to buy our tickets. About two months ago, we booked flights to get there, and it seemed like we didn’t have a trouble in the world, in terms of this concert. And now these issues? Excuse me for perhaps overreacting or jumping to conclusions, but what if the same thing happens here? Or what if we get to Joburg only to find that the band aren’t in fact going to perform? No, no, no, we can’t be having that! When one has been looking forward to something for so long, and made such elaborate plans to get attend, a disappointment would be nothing short of devastating. So, Caleb, if alcohol is the problem, get help, pull yourself together, and get back on stage where you belong. You have a wonderfully loyal fanbase who will always support you, but in the long run, do it for yourself, not for the fans. If it really was just heat and a lack of, uh, Gatorade, well then I do apologise, and look forward to seeing all four of you in October. 

Friday, July 29, 2011

How I Became A Fangirl, Part Two: Concert

Finally, the time for our trip arrives

5 December 2009:
4am: we leave Grahamstown. I’ve never been so cold in my entire life, I’m literally shaking. Some of it may be from the excitement that’s finally kicked in though.

7pm: we arrive in Paarl. It must have been that 3.5 hour stop at the Cango Caves that made us take so long to get here. It’s still light though, and we manage to locate a McDonalds before getting lost trying to find our accommodation: Berg River Resort.

6 December 2009:
8.30am:  we leave our room and proceed up the driveway of Berg River Resort. Looking back, we see what looks like the back of a stage in the distance. Yes, we’re staying on the property adjacent to where the concert is taking place.

9am: we arrive at the venue to make sure we know how to find it. We see the stage from behind, it’s a large grey structure, covered in case of rain, which is likely. We’re told that people will start arriving to queue from 10am, but most won’t arrive till about 4pm, when the gates open. The concert is due to start at 8pm. We leave, but don’t go back to our accommodation: I don’t want to be able to hear the soundcheck.

10am: we eat a large breakfast in town. I’m not to know that I won’t eat again till lunchtime the next day. Everyone is talking about The Killers, the excitement in the town is tangible.  After breakfast we head up the mountain to Paarl Rock and the Afrikaans Taal Monument. In other words, we’re searching for high ground from which to better survey the polo field on which the concert is taking place. Our efforts are rewarded, we can see the entire field from here, photo’s are taken, and creeped thoroughly.  I’m not sure how we spend the rest of the day, but soon it’s time to get ready.

2pm: I straighten my hair, get dressed, and off we go. We pass a sign saying “Big Concerts Killers Concert”. I squeal a little bit inside.

3pm: we arrive at the venue, park, and approach the field, where a small line of people has already begun to form, snaking down a hill from the field. After a while, I walk up the hill to see how long the line really is: it’s gone around the field twice already. Oh.

4.30pm: the gates open. We make haste and manage to get the third row behind the barrier of general standing, slightly to the right but still relatively central. It’s not ideal, ideal would e barrier of golden circle, but it’s good enough. It’s 34oC, the sun is baking down upon us, the lines for the portable toilets and for food are ridiculous, and anyway, I’m too scared to leave my place for fear of not getting it back. We eavesdrop on people around us, it’s really quite fun. But I’m frustrated, I just want to see the band! I am reduced to posting status on facebook abut where I am. No one comments on them.

8pm: the stage lights come on, even though the sun is only just beginning to set. The atmosphere becomes almost tense, every stands up and moves forward. The opening act eventually come on, play five songs, and then leave after the lead singer declares “you’re not here to see us” in a not-quite-joking tone.

8.30pm: I’m tired. Everyone is standing, but I need to conserve energy so I sit down right where I am. People around me start doing the same.

The background during "A Dustland Fairytale". I was screaming and jumping and dying, but somehow this one came out alright.
9pm: Eventually a countdown comes on the big screens which flank the stage, and we begin to hear music. I stand up. The crowd starts screaming. The first strains of “Human” can suddenly be heard, as The Killers make their way onto the stage. The crowd goes absolutely wild! Brandon starts singing, and suddenly nothing else matters. It’s perfect. Everything about their performance is perfect, polished, and professional. I scream my lungs out, jump up and down, sing and squeal for two hours straight. “Spaceman” has everyone jumping, and “A Dustland Fairytale” is likely to have reduced many in the audience to tears. After this song, I’m happy, it’s all I wanted to hear. Filled with so much beauty and emotion that it’s difficult to even describe. Brandon’s voice is flawless, and he runs around the stage with boundless energy. Even better than that, though, he’s smiling throughout the entire concert”. It’s beautiful. I hate to be one of those people who describes an event as ’life-changing’ but this one certainly was. I will never, ever, in my entire life get over that night, and there are just not enough words in the dictionary to describe what this band means to me.

Cries of A Broken-Hearted Fangirl

So, there's this band that I've absolutely adored since 2004. I was only 13, and a lot of their lyrics were probably a tiny bit inappropriate for a 13 year old, but whatever, I loved them. I played their first album so many times that I'm surprised the CD didn't wear out after a couple of months. In 2007 they released their second album, and I loved it just as much as the first. The sound was slightly different, it was more upbeat and borderline -electro than their first offereing, but I still loved every single track on the album.
In 2008, my dream came true, when I got to see them live, they were flawless performers, and sang every one of my favourite songs.

My obsession strengthened, and I was extremely excited when their third album was released last year. I listened to it eagerly, excited to find a new song that I obsess over..and I found it. I liked a few other songs on the album, but the entire thing didn't grip me as the first two had. The sound was definitely different, and I was forced to pretend that about half of the album didn't even exist. This saddened me slightly, but I just continued to hope that maybe the album would grow on me one day, in the meantime, I was entirely focused on a certain other band, and these old favourites of mine had slipped down to #3 on my most loved bands list.

Fast-forward to about 6 days ago, when I have the misfortune of turning on the radio, and hearing this band's latest song. Oh no. At first I find it unrecognizable as a song of their's: gone are the heartfelt vocals and jazz-infused rock beats, and in their place is a commercial dance beat, overlayed by poppy, repetitive lyrics. Put simply, it's just not a very good song. For commercial music, it's alright, much like every other song out there right now, and I guess that's why they did it. I'm highly disappointed in my third favourites, and have in fact relegated them all the way down to number 10 on my list. I guess all I can do now is wait patiently, and hope that they pick up their old sound again next time they record an the meantime, I'll be sitting back listening to their first, and that, friends, may be all I need.

Friday, July 22, 2011

How I Became A Fangirl, Part One: Discovery.

Read the whole post before you think I'm insulting my favourite band ;)

In 2005, I was 14, and into all sorts of music. Everything from Maroon 5 to Matchbox 20, Nickleback to Natasha Beddingfield, Will.I.Am to Westlife (well, maybe not Will.I.Am so much, but you get the picture).  One band I certainly was not into was The Killers. I mean seriously now, who calls their band ‘The Killers’? Surely they were a bunch of no-good axe-murderer types who went around killing people in their spare time. Thus, I was quick to press “skip track” every time their song “All These Things That I’ve Done” popped up on a compilation CD I owned. Anyway, what a name for a song…guilty much?

Fast forward to 2008. A song called “Human” is racing its way up the charts and causing a storm on the internet, where no one can figure out if the lyrics are “denser” or “dancer”. But the song is by these ‘Killers’ people, and I’m weary. I can’t avoid it forever though, the radio has an obsession with it, and soon I find myself singing along merrily. It’s a good song, I can’t deny that, and the lead singer- someone called Flowers- has a pleasant voice. I’ve heard that he wears eyeliner though, and that’s not acceptable. A couple of months later I hear a song called “Spaceman”. Opening with a bunch of “oh oh oh oh oh oh oh”’s and then marching straight into a verse that begins “it started with a low light/ next thing I knew the ripped me from my bed/ and then they took my blood-type”, the Flowers man’s voice is instantly recognizable. But this song is fantastic! Strange, but fantastic! I like it enough to get past my original doubts about this band, and start to listen to some of their older songs. “Somebody Told Me” is quite a winner, as, in fact, is “All These Things That I’ve Done”. In June of 2009, I acquire The Killers’ latest album offering, Day & Age. It takes just one listen of “A Dustland Fairytale”, and I know I’m hooked. These guys are going to be one of my favourite bands in the entire world. Day & Age takes up permanent residence in my car CD player for the next few months.

At the end of August, my mother mentions to me that The Killers are going to tour South Africa at the end of the year. (This, of course, was in the days before I became a fangirl and started checking Big Concerts’ facebook page every two and a half minutes). As most bands do, however, they had only scheduled dates for Johannesburg and Cape Town. Both cities were at least an entire day’s drive from me. This was not ideal at all. On the surface, I resigned myself to the fact that I wouldn’t get to see them, and vowed that one day I would live in a real city, where bands actually played. But deep inside, I couldn’t shake the thought of Brandon Flowers in all his feathery glory, singing his heart out on stage…in front of me.

Thus I mapped out a complex and downright sneaky plan to head to Cape Town. I worked out everything, costs, mileage, accommodation, as well as a plot to stop halfway and furnish my new flat while we were at it. Everything was perfect. Now came the tiny little issue of convincing my mother to undertake a two day drive to see a concert with me. It was easier than I had expected, and soon we were off to buy tickets. After many stress-filled minutes, during which we were told that the concert was not on Computicket’s system, and then that Golden Circle was sold out, we managed to acquire two of the last few general admissions ticket. We booked our accommodation, which was no mean feat, most of Paarl was fully booked that weekend, and it’s official, we were going to see The Killers live!

The next few months seem to drag. In my mind, I can’t see past the 6th of December. I’m not thinking of anything else but that night, and yet it still doesn’t feel real, I can’t even seem to be excited about it, I think I’m in shock.

Part two:  Concert, coming soon. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Song Of The Day- WTFLV

What does that odd acronym stand for, you ask? "Welcome To Fabulous Las Vegas", of course! I spent most of today turning my bedroom into what can only be described as a cross between a craft shop and a gambling hall: paper, feathers, dice and cardboard replica of the Las Vegas sign are just some of the things that have taken up residence on my floor. Thus it's no wonder that I put a certain song by Mr. Brandon Flowers on repeat while I made my creations.

"Welcome To Fabulous Las Vegas" is the opening track on the album Flamingo, and, in my opinion is one of the best songs on said album. It seems to tell the tale of a life lived in Vegas, from the beauty of the sunsets and neon lights, to the nitty gritty of the cocaine and call girls. Sung in that stunning, velvet voice that could seduce just about anyone, WTFLV is definitely the kind of song that makes one want little more than to visit the USA's city of sin.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Music Lyric Monday

"Every siren is a symphony, and every tear's a waterfall"

I often get hooked on a song which has lyrics that I find inspiring, moving, or just plain beautiful. Although I cannot class the lyrics of Coldplay's latest offering, "Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall" in either of the former categories, certain parts of the song can certainly be regarded as beautiful. I mean really, "cathedrals in my heart"? The imagery in that one line is simply stunning.

When one friend - *cough cough* Lauren *cough cough*- sends a picture of a waterfall, with a caption reading "it's a waaaaaaaaaaterfall, a waaaaaaaaaaaaaterfall", and another friend who absolutely despises Coldplay says that she thinks there's something wrong with her as she can't help liking the song, you know Coldplay have really delivered something special this time.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Dragonflies and Astronauts ft. The Parlotones

It is almost impossible for any South African to not know who The Parltones are. They are absolutely everywhere you go! They have two different wines, there was a KFC meal called "The Parlotones snackbox", they performed on Idols SA, they're opening for Coldplay...the list goes on and on. No wonder they are regarded as South Africa's biggest - and best- rock band. Last night, The Parlotones became the first band in the world to broadcast a show live in 3D all over the world. And I was there! (Well, I was in the 3D cinema, not at the actual show, unfortunately).

The 3D effects seem to give a movie a certain surreal quality, combine this with the eerie stage lighting and the fact that The Parlotones' performance was nothing short of perfect, and one is left wondering if you are really witnessing a live show at all! It just seemed too perfect! Kahn's voice never once wavered, he hit every single not beautifully, and the entire vocal performance sounded as though it had come from a perfectly recorded CD. Then there were the costumes, the actors, the lights, the pyro, and of course Neil, Glen and Paul's infectious beats, all of these elements combined to produce an absolutely breathtaking show which was quite obviously enjoyed by all those who saw it, whether it be live or in the cinema. The setlist was wonderful too, combining favourites from "Stardust Galaxies", such as "Life Design" and the epic "Push Me To The Floor" with older songs such as "Funny Face" and "Baby Be Mine", and closing with the extremely catchy title track, "Dragonflies and Astronauts".

Of course, I'd never been to a 3D concert before, and thus I was a bit unsure of the accepted protocol... basically, was I allowed to sing along or not? I kept calm for the first few songs, but by the time "Disappear Without A Trace" came along, my soft foot-tapping and humming had morphed into fully-fledged singing and air-drumming. I'm sorry, I just can't help myself sometimes!

All in all, the show was fantastic, perfect in every way, and the band should be extremely proud of themselves for achieving a world first like this. I cannot wait to see them open for Coldplay in October, it will be the third time I'll be seeing them live, fourth if you count the 3D show, which I do think you should.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

It Doesn't Matter If You're Black or White, da na na na na

I was never exactly a huge Michael Jackson fan, I mean, you wouldn't catch me dancing around my room, hair brush in hand, singing "Billie Jean is not my looooooooover". However, I'm not one to ever pass up on the opportunity to attend a gig, even if it's just a tribute show, so when my mother asked me to accompany her to a show by Michael Jackson impersonator Kenny Wizz, I didn't say no.

The man is from Las Vegas, so, as expected, the show was really something! The flashing lights, and costume changes were extremely impressive and entertaining, Kenny Wizz is a true showman! As for the songs, it was almost difficult to believe that it wasn't the real MJ in front of you. Wizz's impersonation is flawless, and the crowd was extremely responsive to hits such as "Black and White" and "The Way You Make Me Feel". I even surprised myself by knowing most of the words to the beautiful, slower song, "Ben". I'm used to concerts, and thus fancy myself quite good at predicting setlists. When he had finished "Heal The World", I whispered to my mom that he'd come back and do "Billie Jean" then end with "Thriller". When Wizz left the stage, and while the rest of the audience shouted "ENCORE", I screamed "VIVA LAS VEGAS". I'm sorry, sometimes I just can't help myself. He came back onto the stage and did indeed perform "Billie Jean", to teh delight of the entire audience, who shouted, clapped and sang along at the top of their voices. Then he left the stage again, much to the disspointment of the audience, who took up a chant of "Thriller, Thriller". Once again, I screamed "Viva Las Vegas!", because I am just so normal. Kenny Wizz did come back and sing Thriller, complete with dancing zombie-ghosts who ran into the audience and jumped over people. Cue screams from the more faint-hearted among us.

I found the show thoroughly enjoyable, although a huge change from the usual rock concerts that I'm used to attending!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

What's Not To Love About Concerts?

We all love concerts, but let's face it, sometimes they're not the most pleasant experiences! Let's take a look at why:

  • Ticket troubles: OMG, your favourite band is coming to town! The first obstacle you face is acquiring tickets. If you're part of a fan club, perhaps you'll try a pre-sale. This may seem like a good idea, but crashing websites and slow internet connections are familiar problems which often result in the employment of some choice four-letter words. In other cases, perhaps you'll pop off down to your local ticket outlet, and spend some time almost crying as you will the people in front of you to finish quickly in fear that tickets will sell out just before you get to the front of the queue.
  • Travel issues, and not just your own. Concerts often require some travelling on the part of the concert go-er, thus we must book flights and accommodation and make any other necessary plans for our trips. Once this is out of the way, the only thing we need to worry about is whether or not the band will make it to the country in time. What if the Iceland volcano erupts again and all flights are cancelled? What if a band member pulls a muscle in their shoulder (cough cough, I'm talking about you, Nathan Followill) and the tour is postponed? You're likely to only stop fretting once the band tweets "TOUCHDOWN!".
  • The battle for the barrier. If you have standing tickets, a true fangirl is likely to want to get as close to the stage as possible, and this often requires hours upon hours in the queue. Queuing may involve sitting on hard, cold ground for long amounts of time, without the luxury of ducking out of the queue for a quick snack. Thus by the time the gates open, your blood sugar levels are probably not at an all time high. In the queue, fights for position may get physical and violent, but the security guards tend to check your handbags for pepper spray, how unfortunate.
  • Keeping your position. Once the gates have opened and you've attained your barrier spot, you may have a hard time keeping it until the end of the concert. Introducing the heel of your shoe to the foot of the person behind you should keep him or her at bay...Don't worry, I'm just kidding (kind of).
  • After show pains. Be it a traffic jam of 19000 cars trying to exit one gate, or 1000 people fighting to exit from one door, leaving a concert is never fun. You're tired, your body aches, and you can barely feel your legs. In addition, if you were anywhere near the speakers, your ears are likely to feel like they'll never be the same again. I recommend patience, calmness and a good sense of humour. If all else fails, go on twitter or facebook and see if the band have any words of encouragement. 
  • The morning after. Oh dear. The morning after a concert, you will probably wake up exhausted, with no voice, stiff legs and hearing that is still not quite normal. Your brain will feel fuzzy, and you may still have the closing song pounding through your brain as though determined to etch itself there for all eternity. 
You may wonder if it was all worth it, if you should ever go to another concert in your life. The answer? Of course you should! All the pain and more would be worth it, because for the duration of the time that the band was on stage, everything was them, and nothing else matters, and it was all worth it in the end.