Soundgarden at Starlight

We picked up some cheap seats and headed out to Starlight to catch Soundgarden with opening act “The Dillinger Escape Plan“.

We got there right at gates opening and noticed not many in the seats, we thought “Humm, that’s odd to not see many arrive for the opening act”. Oh what things we would learn very soon.

The opening act streamed out; the tantrum fit throwing scream festival that was “The Dillinger Escape Plan”. They took the stage at 1930, still plenty daylight and started with their, ah, show. Pretty simple stage setup:

I was a confused. There where these guys, holding musical equipment, seemingly playing these instruments in timed motions, but making just a hell of a noise. Go into your kitchen turn on the nosiest appliance you have then randomly in the most rambunctious “4 year old” attitude you can muster scream at the blender for being on. Do this for 40 minutes or so and there you go, you probably have to pay a royalty to these guys for copyright infringement.

Soundgarden stage setup had some nifty light bars setup:

They took stage about 20:45 coming out strong and playing a mix of crowd favorites mixed with some (to me anyhow) older lesser tunes. I was impressed overall with Chris Cornell both in his voice and his guitar playing. I liked the story he told about visiting his grandpa in Kansas City who worked at the Rolls Royce airplane engine factory.

However good Cornell was, he was clearly second fiddle to Kim Thayll that dude can seriously play the guitar. I was more than once impressed with his shredding capabilities (below left):

Soundgarden ended with raucous “Slaves & Bulldozers” with each member playing off the stage with reverb in effect for their instrument. It was rock’n’roll at its finest.

We watched drunk people stagger down the Starlight aisles, chuckled at the people dancing way out of time (beer seems to make anyone think they dance better), and then watch the drunks urinate in the parking lot. Ah, good times, making memories…

Me and my Angie:

Gojira and Opeth at The Midland

I have a couple of Devin Townsend’s albums and saw he was opening for some band and Opeth (who I also have several albums of) at The Midland, so Angie and I picked up tickets.

The initial set was crowded, they had all three bands set on the stage each in front of the other. From what I could tell from my four-hundreds cheap seats it looked like the opening act (The Devin Townsend Project) only had about six feet of stage:

Here is a shot of Devin doing there thing with their cool backdrop:

After a couple of songs you were reminded that Devin Townsend is a strange fellow making some really odd comments. I think he was trying to be funny but most of it sounded like random thoughts strung together to fill awkward silence. At one point something was wrong with the gear and he literally rambled on saying “and we keep the audience busy to not see the technical problems” (paraphrasing) while crew members scampered about fixing this and that.

Then a set change for Gojira:

I do have “Magma” from these guys but I guess I didn’t remember this was going to be pretty hard set. Pretty simple stage setup but damn their lights where very VERY intense. Several points you just had to close your eyes to prevent some sort of seizure reaction.

 At any rate their music was hard, intense and frankly hard to follow with the volume being so loud it was just mottled loudness. Angie and I always wear earplugs but usually we can make out the music fine, here the double bass and the guitar, well, noise was so dominate all you really heard was a mix of aggression and screaming. Not that it was horrible we were just mostly confused to what was really going on.

That said the Gojira drummer was something to see:

The band clearly recognizes that this guy has some serious drum skills, he had several solos and at multiple points I think I caught myself saying “Damn!” out loud. Yeah, really impressive stuff.

Then the set change for Opeth (note the covered up Gojira stuff in the middle, they didn’t really clear the set just covered up the others, shared the majority of the light bars):

Their backdrop was their signature logo:

Angie and I were hoping Opeth would take a bit of a softer approach as we were kinda still recovering from the onslaught that was Gojira. Opeth didn’t disappoit as several of their songs had more melodic structure and showed off their technical chops.

Opeth took the stage and Mikael Åkerfeldt quickly established he is the man with his stage presence and his ability to both sing and growl:

Opeth played several songs from their “Sorceress” album, which has both beautiful and disgusting imagery on the cover:

For some reasons the tour managers for these groups must think their audience are wee folks, no tour shirts on any of the groups larger than a 1x – I mean seriously. If you guys make most of your tour receipts off of merchandising then bring shirts that fit real people. All together now a collective “GRRRR!”.

Anyhow overall it was an interesting event, I am not sure how I am going to convince Angie to go to the next new to her band that I sell with “oh, ah, they sound like Dream Theater, yeah just like that”.

Me and my Angie (I am wearing my Iron Maiden trooper shirt which to my surprise there were about 5 other Iron Maiden shirts seen at this event):

Garth Brooks at Sprint Center

I have been a fan of Garth since his first album.  Does it mean I am a big country music guy, pfft, far from that I usually really dislike country music but Garth has the talent, passion, and uniqueness for me that makes him stand far above the country music landscape.

His stage setup was a oval stage at the end of Sprint center with huge screens on each side (nice touch), here is a setup shot:

I found it interesting that Amazon was a clear sponsor being printed on his bags and several videos on a rotation before the show on the (I am going to guess) Amazon paid for screens:

The interesting part of his stage setup is his light bars that come out into the crowd. They turned off the house lights and these lightbars were used to light up the center – I suppose allowing the stage crew the ability to control the house lighting. During “The Thunder Rolls” these light bars had (what acted like) dozens of strobe effects that made Sprint center look like a super lightening storm – it was pretty epic.

This was the only concert at Sprint center I have seen that utilizes the lighting around the center, meaning the lighting was synchronized with the show – it was unique and added a neat subversive effect:

This tour was labeled “The Garth Brooks World Tour with Trisha Yearwood“. Sure Trisha came out sang a song with Garth then sang 4 others and back to Garth. Kinda a special guest contribution I thought, but then again she is married to the guy.  Shot of Tricia on stage:

Here is a shot with the drum set cage in the middle lite up, it also rotated and was built with the idea that Garth would climb all over it (as he did several times):

Garth is no doubt a showman. Couple his energy, passion for what he is doing and him genuinely having a good time you just cant help admire the guy and his ability to get 20k people singing 20 year old songs.

We had tickets in section 122, all seats were same price $65 and everyone was limited to 8. This I think is one of the reasons the man sold out 7 shows in a row this time around (13 when Sprint center opened!) This was a Saturday afternoon (15:00) concert, Angie and I think this is a first for us most of our concert outings are nighttime and we get home past midnight.

Really one of the best concerts for energy and passion I have seen in a long time, even if you’re not a fan of the country music scene if you like to see people doing their thing, and sharing it with you, Garth is one to catch.

UPDATE: We returned to Sprint center at a later date and saw this banner which we though was neat because we saw one of the shows (left side banner):

Me and my Angie:

Rick Springfield and Pat Benatar & Neil Giraldo at Starlight

For the second time at Starlight Angie and I saw Rick Springfield followed by Pat Benatar & Neil Giraldo in concert. This opened up our 2017 concerts, we have like 10 planned (we might have a problem…)

Here is how the very minimal stage was setup:

This was taken about 15 minutes before showtime we noticed the unusually high amount of empty seats, we blamed this on both being May 5th at Starlight (at bit cool) and Garth Brooks having one of his seven 2017 shows at Sprint center on the same night.

Here is Rick on stage doing his thing, the two white blocks on each side were the projection screens which they did use for both sets:

Here is a closer view of the projection screens in use (Starlight up till now hasn’t used these much during concerts):

Pat and Neil played a pretty simple set, four in their band:

I thought she sounded great, her vocals on “We Belong” were impressive and clear. Neil on the other hand was, well, a bit off vocally I thought. There is no doubt the man can shred on his various guitars (including “Pain”):

Overall it was worth doing a second time, however I think if they all come back I might try to talk Angie into a dinner out or something.

Me and my Angie (she is wearing her 35th Benatar concert shirt, we didn’t see any others):