All posts by Brian

Concert Review: Radiohead At Blossom Music Center, Cuyahoga Falls, OH, 08/04/08

Originally posted on Blogcritics.Org 08/05/2008

After four long years the innovative rock act Radiohead decided to make a stop at Blossom Music Center before their adoring Ohio fans.  It was no surprise that the show was sold out, as many in Ohio and the surrounding states planned this special day months in advance knowing that the band rarely tours. Rumors of Radiohead touring were finally laid to rest at the end of February, when the band announded their second leg of the North American tour.

Sold out crowds mean traffic jams, and I am pleased to say that with the help of Google Maps I avoided the mile-plus long backup that filled up Route 8.  Parking the car and walking almost a mile to the coveted amphitheater did not get my spirits down as I was excited to be seeing Radiohead for the fourth time in my life. This was their third time returning to Blossom Music Center in the last seven years.

One thing I admired about the show is that it was “green.”  The beers were served in biodegradable cups made form corn, and the merch was made from recycled materials.  I opted out from dropping $40 on a T-shirt formed from plastic bottles, but did spend some money on a container made from recycled aluminum material.  The container stated “Radiohead Tour 2008 H2O” and posted the amount of water bottles that are sold every year (18 million).  I thought it was a good keepsake, and at the same time my personal small way to help the envoirnment.

I barely obtained a ticket this year (and yet again it was a lawn seat), but I was OK with that and so were the rest of the people around me.  Opening act Grizzly Bear tried to entertain the crowd, but their music just was not providing the energy to everyone.  Some fans sang along to the indie sounding band from Brooklyn, NY, while others mocked them.  Still, they seemed honored to be touring with such an influential band.

The sun set showcasing a beautiful partly cloudy sky when Radiohead took the stage.  The band opened with “15 Step” from their latest, pay-what-you-feel-like album In Rainbows.  The light show behind the band was their best yet in my opinion, with what looked like reflective bars with a media screen behind them.

It was not until the band started playing “Pyramid Song” that I realized how lucky I was to be stuck in this crowd of people.  Looking around I saw hippies, punk rockers, families, and the occasional scenester all collected on a hilly lawn on a warmer than normal summer evening.  I smiled because I knew that even though it was my fourth time getting to see them live, they still enthralled me.  I also admired the looks on the faces of the fans that clearly were attending their first Radiohead experience.

Some songs sounded a little more natural with acoustics, while others were overly processed with sweet samples and electronic beats. Regardless of how they tweaked their material it was a real treat to listen to them.  The crowd was also entertaining to watch especially when someone took it upon themselves to throw about 200 light sticks in the air, only to have the crowd continually throw them towards the stage.

Focusing on newer material, I sometimes found myself not as entertained, but soon the light show helped redirect my attention as did hearing some older material like “The National Anthem” and “Climbing Up The Walls.”  One thing that was irritating was that where I was standing I could barely see the band and had no idea when they left the stage, only to return to for an encore.

One of the highlights of the evening for me was hearing “Paranoid Android” live.  I have and will always love that song.  On top of that, there was the always amazing guitar solo in the middle of it which in turn had the entire crowd cheering at the top of their lungs.  After “Street Spirit,” the band left the stage and came out once again for a second encore.

Thom Yorke took a minute to state “this is most definitely a love song” before the act started playing “House Of Cards.”  Ending the show was Kid A’s “Everything In Its Right Place,” a another song I was hoping to hear.  It was a nice ending to an amazing performance.

The show seemed to blow past much faster than previous performances, yet they were onstage for over 2 hours.  Before I knew it I was in what my friend called the “ET shuffle” as closely grouped fans slowly made way back to their vehicles.  During the long walk, we spoke about how awesome it was to see them live once again and how breathtaking they are.  It was truly a special evening, thanks to one of the most important bands out there on the rock scene.

Set List:

Set list:
15 Step
There There
Morning Bell
All I Need
Pyramid Song
Nude
Weird Fishes/Arpeggi
The Gloaming
The National Anthem
A Wolf At The Door
Faust Arp
Exit Music (For A Film)
Jigsaw Falling Into Place
Idioteque
Climbing Up The Walls
Bodysnatchers
How to Disappear Completely

Encore 1:
Videotape
Paranoid Android
Dollars and Cents
Reckoner
Street Spirit

Encore 2:
House of Cards
Lucky
Everything In Its Right Place

Additional Comments:

Thanks to the wonderful invention of YouTube I was able to get a better look at what was going on at the show that amazing evening.  Each member of that bad has their own special talent/ability that when combined create the mezmurizing music that is Radiohead.

If you need proof check this out:

Notice Jonny Greenwood replicating the Jimmy Page like guitar playing with a bow.  Amazing.

3OH3! – Want – CD Review

3OH!3 (pronounced 3-OH!-3) is far from your ordinary band. For instance, when I downloaded the CD to my iPod it was listed as an unclassifiable genre and that is an understatement. Debuting with WANT, the twosome white-boy rap/rock duo certainly have released material worth talking about as they have mixed up elements of crunk, punk, electronica, and even emo, making for an energy overload album.

3OH3!
3OH3!

Hailing from the streets of… umm… Boulder, the duo have discarded their college educations in favor of creating some of the best crunk rock dance party tracks I have ever heard. Already debuting on the Top 10 on the iTunes album chart, the band has also gained attention from Alternative Press Magazine naming them one of AP’s one hundred bands you need to know.

3OH!3 stands for the area code that front men Sean Foreman and Nathaniel Motte represent. Born and raised in Boulder, Colorado, the duo met while studying physics in college and discovered one another’s love for underground hip hop. The mutual fixation for a genre of music that is rarely handled in the capitol of hippies brought the two united to create 3OH!3 and before they knew it they were selling out local clubs with their high strung dancing layered on top of their truly unique genre-bashing music.

“Punk Bitch” was the first track I heard from these guys and I must admit I thought they were a Lil John wannabe project. Not until halfway through the song did I realized this was not really a rap act but something much more entertaining. The opening to the song imitated lots of crunk music I have heard before, but as you go through the song you start to hear a blend of crunk and emo, something I did not think was possible until now. The result is an infectious track that I have listened to over and over. This gangster emo track will be getting the clubs moving for sure this year.

The third track “Don’t Trust Me” has the greatest refrain ever: “Shush girl, shut your lips. Do the Helen Keller and talk with your hips.” Dance like Helen Keller? Who the hell writes something like this? How offensive… I loved it. I can only see it now, a forbidden dance called the Helen Keller created from this track. Aside from the crude lyrics talking of a no-name groupie, this track is full of danceable music that is far from annoying.

Sounding almost like what Electric Six would sound like if they collaborated with Lil John & The Eastside Boyz is “I’m Not Your Boyfriend Baby”. The electronic beats alone surpass a lot of crap I have heard in the clubs or on the radio, and once the interesting, whiny, emo cry solo was slammed with their tough ass rap lyrics I was addicted.

“Star Struck” has more of a R&B feel a la Kenna mixed with hard electronics and a beat that pretty much has been stuck in my head since I first heard the sexually suggestive song. Then there are the full on rap tracks “Choke Chain” that you will be singing along with and “Photofinnish” that reminded me of the Faint but excessively crunked out.

3OH3! @ the 2008 Warped Tour in Cleveland
3OH3! @ the 2008 Warped Tour in Cleveland

Just when I thought things were insane enough, “Still Around” started up. This slow sensitive track regarding the love of a special something really proves to me these guys are not just out there to jump around and get the party rioting. The lyrics at times were predictable but the music and the idea of the song is sweet and almost depressing, especially if you have been in the situation of which they sing.

No need to be too depressed though, because “Holler ’til You Pass Out” brings back all that energy that was paused for a moment with a full blown anthem all about representing the city of Boulder. This track is tough, addictive, and fun and I wanted more once it was over.

Want might very well be the most fun CD I have heard all year and at this moment I am addicted to 3OH!3 and their crazy ass music. These guys have something a little gangster, a lot insane, and damn well genus. If you are looking for something a tad different from the norm yet catchy at the same time then 3OH!3 is where it’s at.

Already stealing the show at the 2008 Warped Tour with their high vigor, including their hilarious onstage presence, this is one band you need to experience especially if you are in need some new pickup lines to rifle off to the ladies.

Just in case you wanted to hear what they sound like or what the hype is all about:

(Warning, as with many crunk infused tracks, there is a lot of cussing on this video.  Like truck driver cussing….  Play accordingly)

Interview: Shanti Wintergate & Gregory Attonito

It is not often you hear about couple who happen to both be musicians/artist create a book together. I Went For A Walk is a children’s story book full of great illustrations by one of the cutest couples ever, Shanti Wintergate and Bouncing Souls lead singer Gregory Attonito. The book digs deep into your imagination and takes you on a wild journey for both kids and adults of all ages.

Recently I was able to interview the punk rock couple about the book via email and they were more than happy to reply to me. I asked a few questions pertaining to the book as well as personal life inquiries.

Shanti & Greg
Shanti & Greg

Musicians have done a lot of projects on the side but writing children’s books is not something you hear about a lot. Did you two ever think that you would be creating a children’s book?

Greg: I don’t think we talked about it at all before Shanti wrote the story but we always enjoy exploring creative things together. It was just a matter of what might take off for us. We make short films, have comedy skit ideas and write songs together all the time.

I am curious as Google only allows me to find so much — do you guys have children of your own? How long have the two of you been married?

Greg: We have been married for six years and we have no children.

I Went For A Walk is a great story that intrigues the imagination. Is this story about anyone in particular?

Greg: That’s a good question! In my perception the story is about all of us and it’s for all of us. You, the reader, are on the journey as you turn the pages of the book.

Do you guys have certain parts of the book that you like the most?

Greg: The part where the character is picked up in a cloud of dust and ends up shrinking down to the size of a tiny little atom. From this vantage point we see another amazing universe to explore just inside the space of a tiny little atom. I love the way that part shifts my perception and the way I see the world. It helps me remember there is so much that makes up the tiniest little thing.

Shanti: I love so many parts of the book but I think my favorite is waking up from what might be a dream and pancakes are waiting for you! Maybe it’s just because I’m really hungry right now.

Shanti, when you wrote the first bit of this story did you anticipate it turning into a children’s book? Did it take very long for the entire story to be written?

Shanti: As soon as the first few lines were written, some part of me knew it was going to turn into something more. Thinking back now, after those first few lines were written I remember looking at them and thinking, “This would be a fun children’s book!” It only took a few more weeks for the story to be “mostly” completed. I say “mostly” because I continued making slight adjustments throughout and up until the project was sent to press.

Greg, can you tell me how you came up with some of the illustrations for the book? I heard you like to draw a lot on the road. What did you use to draw them? Were the illustrations created before the novel or after Shanti told you she was writing the book?

Greg: Shanti wrote the story first and I brought it with me on tour, along with a sketchpad and a bag full of paint pens. I used paint pens and markers but mostly paint pens because I love the bright colors and the convenience of them. Some visual pictures came into my mind and translated to the page very easily and some did not. There are a lot of pages of art that did not make the book. Developing a look and a style to the book took a lot of trial and error for me. I’ve learned so much.

Your slogan is “Creating Something From Nothing Since 1997.” Can you tell me why you came up with this slogan?

Greg: Shanti and I have known each other since ’97 so you could say that was the start of our creative collaboration together. We came up with the slogan to go with our company name “Hollywood Jersey.” It can be pretty fun to see one of your ideas come to life and bring some positive energy into the world. We are celebrating and exercising our ability to manifest love and all the rad stuff that comes with it. We created this book by using our love and our minds, two things that aren’t necessarily tangible — essentially “nothing”

Making something from nothing is definitely our favorite pastime.

On average how much time do the two of you get to spend together during the year?

Greg: In the past six years the Bouncing Souls have been on tour for six to ten months out of every year, give or take. There has been some pretty long stretches of time apart. Last year I was away from home for 250 days. Long time.

You have been touring together a lot in support of the book. How are the readings going? To my understanding Shanti reads while Greg plays acoustic music. Is that correct?

Greg: The readings have been a blast. The kindergarten kids are so much fun because they have no social filters. They just say what they are thinking and share their feelings. We have had some amazing off the wall comments during our readings. For example: Shanti asked a class if they understood what the future is. One of the responses was, “It’s where cars fly.” I love that. Shanti and I have been trading off with the reading but she ends up reading most of the story. We both stop to talk to the kids and ask them questions during the reading. The music comes after the reading and we both play acoustic guitars and sing new children’s songs that we’ve written.

When was the last time the two of you toured together? I imagine that this tour is a lot less stressful than that of a punk rock tour.

Greg: Shanti was on the Warped tour for a month in 2006. I was on with the Souls so it was great to be together for that time. I even had the opportunity to play guitar in her band. Yes it is less stressful than a punk rock tour. It’s a lot simpler.

Have you two ever thought of putting out an album together? How about a children’s album?

Greg: Yes! We have loads of ideas for all kinds of music! We have a handful of children’s songs that we will probably start recording in the next few months. Everybody who heard the songs on our tour wanted to know where to get the CD, so we better get busy. We have a great numbers song!

What plans do the two of you have once you are finished touring? Can we expect to see another adventure by the both of you?

Greg: Yes. We a have a few more book ideas already and we want to start printing up bilingual versions of I Went For A Walk. There is always another adventure around the corner.

You two seem to have a lot of love and happiness in your relationship. Any tips for the rest of us?

Greg: Well you have to like being together. It sounds kind of silly but I don’t know if some couples do sometimes. Honest communication about everything! We always have to look into ourselves and be honest about what we really want out of a situation and go from there. Without that real honesty issues will arise. Through love and honest communication we can all achieve things that seem really difficult and maybe even have a good time with each other along the way.

Shanti: I couldn’t have said it better myself. Oh and of course… I’m always right! Wait, I will add one more thing — don’t take yourself too seriously. Life is hard no matter how you slice it, so appreciate what’s good about living, loving and laughing.

I Went For A Walk is available for purchase on their Myspace page. You can also check it out now via a narrated video of the book: