Styx Puts on a Great Show

I started off 2012 with a Styx concert at Billy Bob’s Texas with my friend Lee. I don’t often go to concerts anymore. I’ve probably been to 5 concerts in the last couple of decades compared to seeing that many in a single season when I was younger. When I got them email from the venue that tickets were going on sale I wanted to go. I immediately asked my wife to go. She laughed and told me to go have fun. She went with me the last time I saw Styx. She’s more in to Rick Springfield and Nickelback. I checked with a couple other buddies who either didn’t know Styx (younglings) or just not that interested. I knew Lee would be up for it and he was.Billy Bob’s is a Honky Tonk. That means that it is a chimera bar/pool/dance hall. Billy Bob’s is really big too. I features several bars, bull riding arena, bar-b-q patio, and multiple stages including the main stage. The main stage is typically set up with long tables and folding chairs. You have 18 people to a table, assigned seating. The tables go right up to the stage with barely space for someone to walk. The tables go away from the stage off into the distance. Around the table seating area is a raised railing separating it from the rest of the honky tonk.The show started at 10:30 PM with an introduction by Bo Roberts, a local DJ from KZPS who’s has been with the station for as long as I can remember. The band took the stage playing Blue Collar Man. For the next ninety minutes they walked through their hits. Dennis DeYoung’s absence was barely felt. Lawrence Gowan sounds like he’s alway’s been with the band. James Young and Tommy Shaw both put on a great show. These guys are straddling 60 years old and still touring. Someone told me that they have toured more in the last 10 years then they had in the entire history of the band before that. Styx had their first hit in 1975. The bassist and drummer have been with the band for the last decade but I did not know them. At one point Chuck Panozzo came out on stage to play bass. Apparently he still tours with the band on a part-time basis. Tommy Shaw said that he enjoyed this venue and they like to come back every year.
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Bear in Málaga

It’s cool to see one of my favorite composers performing in my adopted city. Bear McCreary is know for his work on SyFy and SciFi show soundtracks. I first noticed his work in Battlestar Galactica as weaved jimi Hendrix’s “All Along the Watchtowers” into the show’s musical theme.

From the pictures it looks like he was performing at the Teatro Cervantes. I liked seeing the references to the Catedral and Alcazaba.

Ping and the Family iTunes Account

I see one big problem with Ping: it is based on the Apple ID. Currently, my family shares one Apple ID and iTunes account. This makes the Home Sharing functionality in iTunes actually work. Ping is much more personal. It makes music recommendations based on your listening. Apple needs to rework its Apple ID model to allow master and child accounts. Doing that today creates an unworkable federation of Apple IDs.

Nickelback Takes on Dallas and Wins

The fact is that Nickelback was probably the best concert I’ve ever been to. It was definitely in the top five. That would put it in good company along with Van Halen, ZZ Top, and INXS. So what makes a good concert? For me its all about the show. There are some artist who are really good in the studio or on a CD but not so good on stage. I’ve been to concerts where the headliner was outshined by the opening act. A good show includes multimedia, an engaged dialog with the audience and a good performance. Nickelback had all those elements.

The performance was great. I am a new fan of Nickelback but I knew all the songs that they played. They played a couple songs off the new album and then went back to their earlier work. The lead singer sang clearly. He used two microphones. The second mic was used for songs with any reverb or other effect. This allowed him to sing all the vocals live and not rely on any taped content. The performance was flawless. Near the end of the show was a 10-minute drum solo that included the drummer being raise up on a rotating platform.

Chad Kroeger engaged the audience. It’s typical for a band to shout out the city’s name. He was aware of the weather issues. He made fun of the scent of the audience and a bag of “oregano” that some one threw on stage, “yeah, I want to spend the night in jail with you”. He also made fun of a flasher in the front row because she chose to flash him during a serious ballad instead of waiting for a more appropriate song. At one point he introduced some of the crew to come out and fire t-shirt cannon s at the audience. You could tell that everyone was just out there having fun.

The bad definitely had a handle on the multimedia. They used a huge screen in the center of stage to project video, pictures, animations that were relevant and timed to the music. During the song Photograph her show what must have been actual pictures from his high school. They were presented as part of a large mosaic where one picture is made up of many smaller pictures. The animation moved smoothly from picture to picture, sometimes zooming in, sometimes zooming out. At another part of the concert the screen was covered with 70’s era TVs stacked up at odd angles. On each TV was projected parts of the current concert. Some of the screens were sharp while other were snowy. The effect was very interesting.

It wasn’t just video. The stage featured six saucer-like light rigs that could go up and down and rotate. They were constantly moving to the music and changing color. Also on stage were some sort of flame throwers that were able to blast fire into the air. There was a spark-generator from the ceiling that made it look like it was raining light. There were smoke generators for one part of the show. There were fireworks right on stage. In fact the concert started with a bang.

Negatives? The one big negative for me was the foul language. I wasn’t going into this show expecting it to be PG. Frankly I was surprised that my wife wanted to go in the first place — wasn’t my idea. I expected there to be rough language just like their music. Chad Kroeger surpassed my expectations. He managed to use the “F” word at least once per sentence. Sometimes more. A PG version of the concert would be at least a half hour shorter. Nickelback has some really good songs that would be just as good without the profanity.

The opening acts for this concert were Saving Abel and Seether. I’ve barely heard of either group. A search of my iTunes library shows that I own songs from Seether that I like. I wasn’t really impressed by Saving Abel. It looked like they only had about 3 foot of stage. They came on and only played six or seven songs. It wasn’t bad but there wasn’t much to see.

Seether on the other hand could have warranted a concert in their own right except for one critical problem – the weather. Center is an open venue. We had the cheap seats out on the lawn. The weather forecast called for clear skies with rain coming the next day. Just as Seether was taking the stage it began to rain. At this point I was resigned to getting wet. The rain fell in big solitary drops but it was not too bad. Then the lightning started. First it was 5 seconds away. Then 2 seconds away. Then it was instantaneous. Rain is one thing but sitting out in a lightning storm on a hill is suicide. I told my group we were heading for the car until the cell passed. I scooped up the kids and blankets and headed towards the gate. About this time is began to hail. I was not listening to the concert at this point. Over the gate was a big sign “No Re-entry”. We changed direction and headed for the main part of the theater under the roof. A lone usher tried to hold back my group and another 5,000 people who all had the same life-preserving thoughts. We easily walked half way down and found a place to stand under the cover. Seether is still playing during all of this but I have no idea what. I’m checking my iPhone to see a current weather map to see how much more of the storm remained. Two cells passed, mainly to the west of us. It was still raining when I took my party back to the grassy knoll to retain our original now-soaked patch of grass. And so ended Seether’s performance.

The sky cleared and the air grew cooler by the time Nickelback came on stage. Chad Kroeger commented that it had even stopped F-ing raining. Naturally he did not abbreviate. He did invite the lead signer from Seether, Shaun Morgan up on state to sing “Nice Shot”. It was really good and probably some indication of what we had missed.

The concert venue was good although the beer prices were ridiculous: $16 for a margarita, $9 for a beer, $4 for a small coke. The security was a joke. They had kids with metal detectors but I could not tell if they were actually looking. Cameras, Umbrellas, Coolers were all prohibited yet I saw them all. I guess concert venues have given up on the no camera rule as long as you are not there with an SLR and a mega zoom.

So, it was a good concert. it was surely one that my kids will remember, for the good and the bad. The audience was an interesting mix of teenagers to 40-year-olds. I’d see Nickelback again should the opportunity arise.