Archive for September, 2008

Weezer Rocked The House

Photo © 2008 Stan Syckes

Last night I saw Weezer. It was another in a long line of amazing concerts I’ve seen so far in Madison Square Garden … a place (what with all the concerts and basketball games I attend) I’m starting to feel rather at home in. Anyway, I’ll try to keep this post brief and just hit the highlights of the night. To do this I will run down the setlist (yes I frantically typed in abbreviations of the songs into my phone as they were played)!

Opening Act: Terrible. Angels & Airwaves are fronted by former Blink-182 singer, Tom DeLonge, but who cares? Their music was so lame and ridiculously theatrical. For example, before one song DeLonge says “When I was 13, I snuck out of my friend’s house during a sleepover and crept up to his sister’s window and saw my first naked girl” … and then played some slow, droning, sap song about a girl’s reflection. Completely inappropriate … shouldn’t that music have been heart-pumping, nervous, excited?

Worse, the entire act was overwhelmed by their light show. I’m not kidding, every song had a different color and blinking pattern from their 16 blinding light towers! At one point DeLonge shot green lasers out into the crowd and at another all the lights went out and you could just see his hands holding two lights. Complete gimmick. But, after 10 or so songs, Angles & Airwaves mercifully left the stage!

01. My Name is Jonas – The time on our ticket stubs said the concert began at 7:30 PM and finally at 9:45 PM, The Weez hit the stage. They simply walked out onto the stage against no background music in all-white, one-piece jumpsuits and started the rocking of faces. I’ve never been a big fan of this song, but it’s the track that kicks off their first album and it instantly reminded me of that era.

02. Pink Triangle
03. Say It Ain’t So – At this point all the lights in the house dimmed with only one spotlight on Rivers. He slowly unzipped his jumpsuit revealing an all-red jumpsuit underneath. I’m sure everyone was expecting them to start playing songs from their new album (dubbed The Red Album). Instead, the legendary opening of their greatest song began. The place went nuts.

04. Suzanne – Maybe the best part of the show. Right after the best Weezer song they started this B-Side in a capella. It seemed like they were singing just to me as I really think I was the only one in the stadium who knew this song. First of all, I love it and second of all, my old band, Bras, were thinking of covering it back in the day! Great 1-2 punch.

05. Keep Fishin’
06. King – a Weezer B-Side! Well, maybe it’s not a B-Side, but it was only included on the iTunes online album I bought as an extra track. It’s a Cuomo-penned tune (like most Weezer songs) but sung by new bassist, Scott Shriner. I dug the song but it seemed like not too many others in the audience knew it or dug it. One thing to note here is that Rivers and Scott were trading singing chores on the majority of the songs.

When Weezer announced that other members of the band were going to start writing and singing on the new album, I was initially concerned. Rivers is one of my favorite songwriters and, though certainly no super crooner, possesses a unique and effortlessly honest voice. Sure, there are some growing pains associated with this decision but I think it ultimately is the right one; breathing new life into the band (I thought their previous album, Make Believe, was 3 good songs and all filler). This was especially noticeable and appreciated during the concert. Whereas Rivers used to be tied to one spot, having to both sing and play guitar near a mic, now he is free to move around and emulate all his childhood guitar heroes. He really took over the show with his dancing and guitar antics … it was very inspiring to see him inspired.

07. Undone – The Sweater Song – Rivers asked Tom DeLonge onstage for a duet and the place immediately started to boo. Ha, it was great. Unfortunately, you could tell the band is really tired of playing this song live as there was very little energy even though the audience was going crazy.

08. Pork and Beans
09. Dreamin’
10. Dope Nose
11. Troublemaker
12. Automatic – Rivers left the stage and Pat Wilson, the drummer, got up to sing his song. He played guitar while the drummer from Angels & Airwaves played the skins. It’s not the greatest song and a lot of the energy left the audience at this point, but I thought of it as a great, interesting intermission. Right after this song people in the row behind us started getting into a heated verbal fight with a couple leaving. I have no clue what that was about but ushers quickly bounced the couple.

13. Hash Pipe – When Rivers returned he was out of his jump suit and wearing his soccer jersey from a celebrity tournament he played in. Apparently he’s almost obsessed with the sport as I am with basketball. Ok, that may not be possible.

14. El Scorcho
15. Morning Glory – Cuomo ended “El Scorcho” by jumping behind the drums (Pat moved to guitar) and then throwing sticks into the audience. He then started playing a beat and the other guys started the opening to Oasis’ “Morning Glory.” The audience looked completely out of it but Cassie and I thought it was an awesome selection. She loves Oasis and I thought it was a crazy, weird choice and they played it really well.

16. The Greatest Man That Ever Lived (Variations on a Shaker Hymn) – The end of the regular concert was an immense high point as they played the best song off their new album. This long, complex piece has been compared to “Bohemian Rhapsody” and it ended with the four of them singing harmonies. Really awesome … almost a religious experience!

Encore
17. Island in the Sun
18. Beverly Hills – An interesting moment. Usually, everyone starts to cheer loudly as they see silhouettes coming back onstage for the obligatory encore, but this time 30 silhouettes came out! It turned out Weezer had invited 30 fans up on stage to play random instruments (trombones, flutes, accordion, etc.) as a backing band for the encore. Pat played a single snare and cymbal, Rivers just sang, and the other two members played acoustic guitar. It was a low key, weird experience but it was very relevant and “now” in this YouTube world. It was short and cool and then everyone went backstage again.

19. Sliver – As fun as the ad-hoc fan band was to see, it didn’t feel like a true encore. We wanted Weezer, the band, not Weezer with a gimmick as a finale. When everyone finally shuffled off the stage the lights were killed once again. A stage hand brought out a stool and put a record player on it and “Heart Songs” started to play. “Heart Songs” is a track off the new album about the songs Cuomo loved growing up and how he hopes some of the pieces he writes evoke similar passion in Weezer fans. The four gentlemen came back onstage, wearing normal clothes, and played “Sliver” by Nirvana. Any Nirvana fans out there?!?! This was the second time in the show where I felt I was the only person in attendance who knew this song. Though not my favorite song, this was another cool, personal moment.

20. Buddy Holly – There was a giant screen behind Weezer for the concert and for each song it would have a different display. All the displays were pixellated as if they were appearing on a mobile phone display so it wasn’t distracting like the opening act’s Star Wars light show. Finally, as the band finished “Buddy Holly” (their biggest hit), the iconic “W” slowly came down on the screen. The entire stadium erupted and I snapped a few awesome photos. I also totally got that they believe this song is a heart song for many people. Great ending to an amazing (and loooong) concert!

Current Mood: Musically Nourished emoticon Musically Nourished

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  • Thursday, September 25th, 2008 at 14:01 | #1

    I’ve been going through Weezer’s entire output …backwards …on my iPod for the last couple of weeks. I’m down the last of the albums, their first (since I’m going backwards) and it’s eye-opening how much this band has dropped off from when they first began. I’m not sure I’m a big fan of the other guys singing lead and songwriting but i can understand how it’s jumpstarting the band back into feeling that fun energy they were lacking.

    That looks like a great set list, and yes I knew about the Sliver thing. The news was all over The Nirvana Fan Club although it’s interesting the song “Heart Songs” talks about Nevermind when it was Nirvana’s “Sliver” that captured River’s heart (he’s even mentioned this song specifically in interviews) …that song isn’t on Nevermind.

  • Tite
    Friday, September 26th, 2008 at 07:40 | #2

    Weezer sucks. I got tickets to see Metallica in DC in the middle of January. It’s going to be sweet. Hopefully, they won’t just stick to stuff from their new album… they need to rock out “Enter Sandman,” “Nothing Else Matters,” and “Wherever I May Roam” at a minimum. Boo Ya!

Tossed From A Bar

This weekend New York got a rare celebrity visit as Brandon arrived to see a Mets game in the marked-for-death Shea Stadium. He originally planned to meet me in Union Square right after work but inbound traffic was crazy and his bus didn’t get in until almost 2 hours later than expected.

So Brandon discovered his way towards my apartment in the Upper East Side at around 7:30 and we immediately trekked back outside (in leftover drizziling rain) in search of food. We found a nearby bar/restaurant that actually turned out some excellent burgers, but was so loud we had to lean in really close just to hear each other (and kiss, of course!). After two or three beers each we decided we needed to find an actual bar … one that would include the mighty game of beer pong!

Luckily, this was the plan the entire time and I had the address of a place about 10 blocks away from the restaurant that hosted this sport of kings. Brandon and I arrived at this new place to find 6 beer pong tables and a room more empty than it was full of patrons. But, we dared to test our Virginia-honed mettle against these New Englander’s best. … And we lost our first two games! Ah well, it’s been a couple years since we were in our prime.

Anyway, as the time went by the place started to fill with pongers and we met and played against a few cool people. At one point I whipped out the end of my belt in a phallic distraction (which worked!). Sure, it was weird. But it wasn’t as weird as when, a few moments later, I got a group of guys to all do it in a circle. What can I say … I was pretty trashed.

I’ll skip the countless games we played as they were all pretty much the same (plus I can’t remember them). But at one point Brandon and I were off the table dancing to the crazy 80’s music, waiting for our next turn. All of a sudden a gentleman who we had played before came out of nowhere and had me held up against the wall, his hands around my neck. He screamed “if you touch my girlfriend again I’ll kill you.” He wasn’t hurting me at all, though, and it seemed so surreal I almost laughed thinking it was a joke. But this guy was not joking!

A kind bouncer decided to jump in and ask what was going on. I just stood silent not knowing what the answer was, myself. My attacker said I had touched his girlfriend’s ass. Seeing as there were multiple people between me and her I have no clue how this happened. Plus I didn’t do it. I recall several people saying I had nothing to do with it but the bouncer chose to believe this crazed guy and even said he could take a swing at me for free!

Brandon jumped in front of me and said that wasn’t going down (I always thought bouncers were supposed to end things not escalate them …) and we both immediately got tossed. The fun bouncer pushing me out by the neck the whole way kept saying how I thought I could go around touching whoever I wanted “because I was white.” I failed to see the connection and felt it best to just quietly exit and Brandon and I went on our merry way.

It was probably for the best we left when we did as we were both wrecked the next day and we still had that Mets game to go see. We toughed it out (though, one of us had to excuse himself to my bathroom at one point!!!) and actually had a great time at Shea with Brendan (Brandon’s friend who joined us). But every time we would tell the story or review the facts regarding the previous night’s incident I would find it harder and harder to hold onto the memories. The whole situation was just so surreal it started to feel like a movie I had watched a long time ago instead of something I had lived through. But, perhaps is just the price we pay for being with beer pong: a fickle mistress!

And as a final conclusion to the story, I felt immensely better as we watched some girl have an even worse weekend later that night. Yes, Brandon and I got to watch (and photograph) some girl get arrested after vandalizing a taxi right at my intersection! Huzzah!

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  • Tuesday, September 16th, 2008 at 01:45 | #1

    Let me see if I can fill in a few holes in this story since Stan’s memory of the night seems a bit…hazy.

    The gentleman that ended up (what looked like) choking our beloved blogger was wearing a shirt, tie, and slacks. He stuck out a bit in this semi-dive bar filled with mostly jeans, t-shirts, and polo shirts. He looked more like the clubbing type than the beer pong type. Let’s call him “Tie-man”.

    There were two encounters between Stanus and Tie-man that I witnessed that pissed this guy off. First, he was beating us on the table and used the non-Stanus approved bounce-shot that counts for two cups instead of one. Now for anyone that has played Stan in beer pong, there is about a ten minute conversation before the game starts to discuss rules, and this game was no different. We had already agreed to rules that differed from the ones posted on the wall. Bouncing may not have been discussed and when there was some debate between Stan and Tie-man, I checked the wall to find it was a bar-approved rule. Shortly thereafter we were defeated and Stan refused to shake Tie-man’s hand. This is when I knew sir Stanus had crossed well over the sober line.

    Incident number two occurred as Tie-man and his girlfriend were starting a new game of pong. Stanus did not know this (I think he was at the bathroom), but Tie-man had given us two beers at the start of our game because he was the challenger (something which had not happened earlier in the evening). So when Tie-man started his next game against new challengers, he told them they had to buy him beer. The challenger didn’t want to do this so Tie-man turned to Stanus to confirm to his new challengers that he had bought beers for us. Stan told Tie-man and his challenger that he never bought us beer. This was visibly pissing the guy off especially after their earlier exchange. After a bit of back and forth I told Stanus and Tie-man that Stan was in the bathroom at the time, but he did indeed buy us two beers. End of story I thought.

    Besides the Tie-man, everyone we met was pretty awesome and I was having a great time (I was actually into some of the 80’s music being mixed by the live DJ). All I can guess is Tie-man was more pissed off at Stan than we had realized and as Tie-man drank more beer (and maybe took other substances?) he decided to do what any sane person would do…choke himself a redhead!

  • Tuesday, September 16th, 2008 at 09:50 | #2

    Holy Dohfight! I’ve been thrown out of a bar. And by bar, I mean strip club (although I was at the bar when I was thrown out.) I still have no idea why. My guess is because I reached for someone else’s Corona? But it’s very hazy. I definitely didn’t get into a fight or try to grab a stripper as I wasn’t near then at the time. Weird…

  • Tuesday, September 16th, 2008 at 09:59 | #3

    I remember everything Brandon says except for telling Tie-Man he didn’t buy us beers. At that point my brain had retired for the night. However, I do recall about 30-seconds after not shaking his hand (I hate it when people cheat) I actually did and told him I was just pissed off from losing. Oh well, what a stupid night.

The Other Me

Photo © 2008 Stan Sykes

I’m sure it’s evident that I am a huge music lover: I write, I play, I listen, I obsessively categorize and identify songs in iTunes. All through high school I was identified as “the music guy,” I helped start a high school guitar club (ok not start but helped get it popular), I studied songwriting under the wing of an 80’s songwriter. Hell, I was even Vice President of my marching band. In fact, even if you don’t know me but have stumbled onto my humble corner of the internet from time to time, I’m willing to bet the understanding of my musical interest and aspiration is probably crystal clear. However, unbeknown to everyone – yes, even my own self – is the news that I have actually already succeeded in my goal!

You heard right. Apparently I am actually a “vocalist/writer/producer/performer” for BMI!

As an added bonus I am apparently also a short, black cruise ship entertainer! Who knew?

In the latest version of iTunes Apple has introduced Genius: an iTunes functionality that suggest songs to play after the one you are currently listening to. Essentially, this creates smart playlists based on iTunes users’ preferences. Another feature of Genius is to suggest similar music that you don’t have and can conveniently purchase from the iTunes Store!!!!! I’m not so big on that marketing scheme, but I was pleasantly surprised when I played one of my own songs: it recommended Stan Sykes’ latest CD, “Just Stan.” Please be mindful of the copyright notice attributed to Sykes Music.

To top this all of this, my counterpart actually has a website located at http://stansykes.net! That’s right, we even share a love for the .net domain!

I’m actually considering purchasing “my” album. I have a bunch of free song credits saved up from going to concerts around town (Ticketmaster has a deal with iTunes) and with song titles such as “God’s Gift To Me Was You,” “Mixin Sweat,” the grammatically incorrect “It Should Of Been Me,” and what can only be an ode to a Toine video cam session “Cam We Still Be Friends” … how can I go wrong?

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The Red Butt

Photo © 2008 Stan Syckes

I can’t believe I was away from the blog for almost an entire month! That feels so Nate’s Noodle of me. There will have to be multiple catch-up-blogs just to get back to present day, I’m sure (I can just feel your excitement about that prospect)!

The last weekend in July Cassie and I moved all her stuff (furniture and all) that was left in her Jersey City apartment into my North Bergen house’s garage … by ourselves. And I nearly died. We toughed out the next fortnight and a half in my suddenly cramped house but August 15th finally came.

For the move into the city we made the right decision in hiring professional movers. Two Russian-speaking gentlemen (no word on whether or not Miss Melnikow understood their secret whispers!) arrived at my door (an hour late) and amazingly packed all of our shit into one giant truck. These guys truly were pros as they both had turns with my giant-ass tv – each picking it up and moving it by themselves! When I originally moved into the North Bergen house I moved the tv up two flights into my room by myself … and didn’t leave my bed the rest of the night I was so sore!

Anyway the whole process was over in just 5 hours and it couldn’t have ended at a better time as it started to rain (lighty) as we were unloading the last items. And the guys did such a good job that they only had two “incidents:” one of them dropped a bag that only contained a pillow of mine, clothes hangers and a fruit punch bottle; and they almost absconded with Cassie’s “if the shoe fits, buy it in every color” decorative pillow (they actually knocked on the door a few minutes after leaving to return it)!

For the next week (that I took off for work as a “staycation” … lo, I hate the word!) we moved furniture around, unpacked boxes, cleaned surfaces, and, most importantly, tried to come up with a name for the apartment. On the day Brandon and I moved into our Arlington, VA apartment we couldn’t stop saying the phrase “pink sock” – we must have used it in at least 60% of our sentences that day so it was the natural selection for the apartment title. However, forcing something just didn’t seem right and, to be honest, it wasn’t working either.

Meanwhile, New York is so busy (duh) that the earliest we could get Time Warner to install cable into our new home wasn’t for a full week after having moved in. Thus, we had to supplement our amusement from local and basic television with boardgames: specifically a Friends trivia game (which I sucked at but continued to play for some reason). I can talk a lot of trash while playing games and at one point I threatened punishment for losing with a “red butt” – a phrase for a spanking I must have picked up from my mom as she randomly mentioned it a while later. It was so spur-of-the-moment and complimented the old Pink Sock moniker so well that it stuck as the official apartment name.

Anyway, I’m sick of writing about all of this now that it’s half-a-month in the past. So I’ll just wrap up (without actually wrapping up at all!) and let you know there are some pics up of the apartment in the photoDB. Sure, it’s still messy but this will give you all an inkling of what’s going on up in the Upper East Side. L8r!

Current Mood: Proud emoticon Proud

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  • Tuesday, September 9th, 2008 at 22:06 | #1

    You moved, blah blah blah. Let’s get back to those Olympic memories!

Olympic Memories

Montage © 2008 Stan Syckes

Man, when you’ve got an unfinished blog in the can it can really constipate your output. This one drove me nuts as I knew I had some interesting stuff to say but couldn’t bring myself to ever finish it or write it entertainingly. Oh well, I finally just said to hell with it and chopped it in half. Here’s part uno!

I’ve watched all of the Olympics – from when they opened to when they finished last week. I don’t know why but I just enjoy having them on in the background as I was first packing and then unpacking for the move. I’d look up, watch some random sport, then go back to my business. Sometimes I’d sit and watch an entire 1.5-hour-long volleyball match or something. There’s something about the Olympics that has me excited and at peace with everything going on around me as if I were a kid again. To investigate this feeling further I looked back and found a bunch of memories I had for each of the Olympics I’ve lived through.

1984 Olympics (Summer, Winter)
Oops … actually don’t remember shit. I was only 3 years old and I’m not even sure where I was living at the time. In fact, the only memories I have of this time are climbing on the outside of a fenced-in porch and peeing in the backyard next to a tree.

1988 Olympics (Summer, Winter)
It’s crazy to realize that my first decade of life is pretty spotty as far as memory goes. I have a vivid memory of walking in a Long Beach park with my brother and dad discussing the complicated reasoning behind each number in our bike combination lock. And at one point we stopped at a picnic table to eat lunch from McDonalds which included cups emblazoned with the Dream Team on it. Unfortunately, now that I’m basketball obsessed, I know that Jordan and Co. suited up for the 1992 Olympics, so truth kills yet another great memory 🙁 . Ah, well, I do recall getting several of these Garfield mugs (and continuing to use them for years).

1992 Olympics (Summer, Winter)
Just like everyone else, I remember the Dream Team, but I don’t think I watched any of the games. I do remember all the McDonalds cups bearing each team member, though!!! Hometown hero, David Robinson, was on it so my elementary school friends were all a-twitter and I got caught up in it.

1994 Winter Olympics
This seemed to be a big deal as it was the first time the Olympics were split up into Summer and Winter and I remember being bummed that I would have to wait longer for the Summer Olympics since I really never connect with the Winter Olympics – I’m sure it has something to do with the fact that I didn’t see much snow as a kid and I’ve only skied three or four times. I have, however, gone ice skating recently and I actually rocked that (I never fell down … though there were some close calls). These probably occurred around the time I found out I was moving to Virginia so I don’t remember much of the games since I was more intent on maximizing my Texas-friends time.

1996 Summer Olympics
Every summer my family and I would stay for a week at Bethany Beach with my mom’s brother’s family and grandparents. This almost month-long Olympics began while we were at the beach this summer and I recall watching games when I wasn’t swimming in the ocean or playing arcades on the boardwalk. When the infamous bombing occurred I wasn’t scared or even aware of it being real – it just seemed to happen in some far away place and I enjoyed the controversy as a spectacle. Ah, sweet callousness, I’m going to hell.

I went to a marching band camp every summer during high school and I remember a week or so before going to my second camp I snuck into the backyard of a friend’s neighbor’s house. We used their pool and then went back to his place to watch an Olympics event (I think men’s gymnastics). My marching band summer camps were legendary (I’ve striven to never start any of my sentences with “one time in bandcamp …” but it is difficult!!) we’d practice for 10-12 hours a day with little to no free time in between. And, even though I was dead tired by the end, I didn’t dare go to sleep so I wouldn’t miss out on the awesome nightly social events. Therefore, a bunch of us would devour our lunches as fast as possible during the mid-day break, run back to our cabin, and take the most powerful of power naps of all time. To facilitate these naps during the summer of ’96 we would play someone’s CD of the Olympics Theme. The song still relaxes and makes me feel all peaceful whenever I hear it to this day.

1998 Winter Olympics
I don’t remember shit from this Olympics. From the date in Wikipedia (early February of 1998) I had just returned to the states from a memorable band trip to England. This and the fact that I’ve never been into the Winter Olympics in the first place probably explains why I didn’t watch this one.

Since this bad boy is keeping me from blogging about other stuff let’s just leave this with “to be continued…”

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  • Monday, September 1st, 2008 at 14:02 | #1

    I remember being really into the 1992 dream team. I begged my parents to get me a USA basketball hat (or maybe it was my grandparents that got it for me). It had the traditional USA Basketball logo on the front, but also had an early 90s look being multi-colored (if I recall it was mostly white with a “splash” of blue and red, and by splash I literally mean it was supposed to look like a splash of liquid). I wore that thing everywhere and I think it’s still at my parents house.

    Also, I can’t wait to hear the Enron song you’re going to write.

  • Tuesday, September 2nd, 2008 at 13:03 | #2

    Now that you mention it I do remember watching a bit about the bombing of the Olympics at the beach – don’t remember watching the sports themselves, although I think we and our cousin Zack, made fun of some of the sayings. Then I went off to Lenhok’sin High Adventure Camp and made the same jokes with my Scouting friend Tyler Heimann. Either that or Lenhok’sin came first and then the jokes continued at the beach…

  • Tuesday, September 2nd, 2008 at 14:05 | #3

    I believe part of the joke was based on Dominique Dawes‘ nickname of “Awesome Dawe-some.” I’d be willing to bet you came up with it at the beach first since I remember watching the opening during our trip. Do you remember what was so funny about this? Did we just keep saying “Awesome Dawe-some” about everything?

  • Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008 at 09:13 | #4

    The announcers called her “awesome Dawe-some” all the time and we picked up on it. We also started saying “awesome Moceanu” after her teammate, Dominique Moceanu. For some reason I thought that was hilarious. I also remember Tyler Heimann thinking the same