Saturday, November 30, 2013

Music News

One week ago, I went to a Pearl Jam concert at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena.  Throughout the years -- decades, really -- they've developed a reputation for being a workhorse of a band.  Virtually every show hovers around the three-hour mark, and every night has a varied set list.  Dedicated fans with loads of disposable income follow Pearl Jam from city to city because every night has a different song selection.  In contrast, the final Stone Temple Pilots tours with now-former frontman Scott Weiland essentially had the same set list every night.

I've been to three Pearl Jam shows:  At The Forum in 2006, at the Gibson Amphitheater in 2009, and the recent one at the Sports Arena in 2013.  The Forum had awful acoustics.  The Gibson show sounded wonderful; too bad the venue recently closed.  The Sports Arena would have sounded as bad as The Forum, but I think wearing a pair of Hearos (noise-filtering ear plugs) made the venue sound surprisingly great.

Kate's avatar K8 was at the concert, too.
Despite the quality of venue, the band themselves performed well every time.  For every show I've attended, I can only think of a few "subpar" parts of the concert.  Mind you, subpar for Pearl Jam is probably better than many other performers on a good night.  In 2006, the band invited actor Tim Robbins to sing X's "I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts," which was the low point of the show for me.  Pearl Jam hadn't made that particular cover song their own, and the choice of guest musician -- an actor who's friends with the lead singer -- wasn't ideal.  In 2009, Pearl Jam covered The Police's "Driven to Tears," which was a decent performance, but it wasn't a cover that I associated with Pearl Jam.

I can't think of a low point from last week's show.  The band gave the audiences all sorts of highlights.  We got glimpses of a young, pissed-off Eddie Vedder in the body of older Ed, ejecting an unruly audience member from the front of the crowd, and swinging on some swinging lights -- coming in like a wrecking ball.  (You'd have had to been there to completely understand these references.)  The setlist was a mix of hits, deep cuts, and covers that Pearl Jam have usurped over the years -- the Ramones' "I Believe in Miracles" and the Who's "Baba O'Riley."  Guitarist Mike McCready briefly left his usual pentatonic box (music pun intended), and shredded a flawless cover of Van Halen's "Eruption."  Ed gave props to longtime drummer Matt Cameron, who literally chose Pearl Jam over Soundgarden (he's not going to tour with Soundgarden next year).  For "Jeremy," bassist Jeff Ament busted out his 12-string bass, which is essentially a portable piano.  Guitarist/Ten-and-Vs.-era bandleader Stone Gossard rocked the right side of the stage.  Touring keyboardist "Boom" Gaspar received the obligatory BOOOOOOOOM chant from the audience, which sounded like a jeer to the uninitiated.  It was a fantastic show, and I can't wait for the band to release the official "bootleg" recording of the concert, so I can relive the sounds of the night.

How much difference does it make?
In other music news, I recently recorded my annual Christmas carol for LibriVox.  I usually have fun covering a classic carol in an unconventional manner -- butchering might be a word that some might use.  This year I chose to produce a bass guitar-driven "Joy to the World."  I might edit this post when I upload the stereo version (the LibriVox version is in mono) of the song; otherwise, it'll likely be on DeRamos Music's website.

After months of three posts per weekday at Chord du Jour, I'm slowing the pace over there.  We took the past week off from posting, and I think we'll just post one entry per weekday during the holiday season.

Speaking of which, Happy Holidays!  We're in the middle of Hanukkah right now, so Happy Hanukkah for those who celebrate it, and for those who like holidays in general.  I feel that mid-December should be the ideal starting point for wishing a Merry Christmas.  In any case,
I'll write here again around New Year's Eve.  Cheers!