Solar Eclipse Playlist 2017

“1979” Smashing Pumpkins

“My Own Summer” Deftones

“Stare at the Sun” Thrice

“Black Hole Sun” Soundgarden

“Black” Pearl Jam

“Eclipse” Pink Floyd

“Blinded by the Light” Manfred Man’s Earth Band

“Sunglasses at Night” Corey Hart

“Day n’ Nite” Kid Cudi

“Total Eclipse of the Heart” Bonnie Tyler

Be safe out there kiddos, but enjoy the celestial phenomenon. Listen to this playlist while you do ūüėČ

-K

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Houston Open Air 2017

HOA17-Official-Admat-LRG

What an incredible lineup! I have seen Marilyn Manson and In This Moment before, and both are great performers and entertainers. This year, I am anticipating Avenged Sevenfold, Gojira, Avatar, and Mastodon stealing the show. Some of these names are not as well known as the others, but their music is phenomenal.

It’s also a great thing that they moved the festival to the Pavilion because last year, it rained heavily and the majority of the festival was cancelled. So in October, rain or shine, it’s party time.

Rock on.

-K

94.5 The Buzz Bud Light Weenie Roast 2017

Location: Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion in The Woodlands, TX.
Date: July 22, 2017

Houston’s very own 94.5 The Buzz hosted the 2017 Bud Light Weenie Roast last weekend. The lineup featured Chevelle, Blue October, 10 Years, Missio, and Dinosaur Pile-Up.¬†Mother Nature tried to prevent Houstonians from enjoying the festival, but with no success. Concert goers filled the Waterway area as rain poured heavily in The Woodlands, just as the Weenie Roast was starting.¬†

I arrived to the venue about an hour or so into the lineup, having missed Dinosaur Pile-Up and the majority of Missio. However, I was warmly greeted by hundreds of gestures in the air as Missio concluded his set with the hit “Middle Fingers.”¬†

Thinking that this would be the perfect time to grab a drink before 10 Years, my group and I headed to the nearest bar at the venue serving beverages. But, due to the lightning in the area, the Pavilion prohibited food and beverage sales for nearly an hour.

“Life is beautiful if you can focus on the light.” – Jesse Hayek

10 Years: I was excited to see this band because “Wasteland” is one of those tracks that still sticks with me even after all these years. The first line, “Change my attempt, good intentions,” leads into that hard rock sound accompanied by lyrics that contain a haunting, yet relative message about “saving someone who can’t be saved” (Hayek). In addition, other tracks such as “Fix Me” and “Shoot it Out” energized the audience. Before concluding the set, frontman Jesse Hasek discussed how music can come from a very “dark” and “emotional place.” He continued by saying, “Some people give everything, like martyrs to the system… bleed out the soul.” He then requested audience members to raise their hands and applaud “people like Chris and Chester.” I think people still mourning these deaths were comforted by the realness and empathy Hayek was giving. He was certainly right when he reminded us, “Their legacies will never fucking die because music lives on forever.” That phrase alone deserves praise.

Blue October: I was honestly very surprised with this band. The frontman, Justin Furstenfeld, has an amazing voice and seems very genuine, according to his lyrics and how he presents himself on stage. He wore a black long sleeved shirt with the name “Chester” spray-painted in white, as a tribute to the late Chester Bennington. After playing their biggest hit “Hate Me,” he asked the entire Pavilion for a moment of silence, as many obliged. Aside from the tributes, Blue October was astounding in their performance. Furstenfeld’s voice, the guitar, the drums, the bass, the lyrics, the lighting… they all complemented each other so well that I became a new fan and would love to see them again. Hopefully I can hear the song “Calling You” next time. ūüôā

Furstenfeld concluded Blue October’s set by leading the audience with the chorus from Linkin Park’s “Shadow of the Day.” There was a definite feeling of mourning from both the performers and audience. Yet, there was also comfort in knowing that none of us were alone in our feelings.¬†

And the shadow of the day
Will embrace the world in gray
And the sun will set for you…

In between sets, songs from Linkin Park, Chris Cornell, and even Nirvana filled the air, reminding us just how¬†prominent depression mixed with drug addiction is. The tragedies we’ve experienced just this year with Cornell and Bennington are not the only ones. There are so many others we have lost and we must remember them, not only as artists, but as people who struggled and battled for years.

Chevelle: I was most excited to see this band, as they have been on my bucket list for 

ChevelleTheRed

“seeing red again”

several years. My memories of Chevelle go all the way back to when I was 10 years old. I remember the single “The Red” playing for the first time and being like, “This is music.” The next day in art class, my teacher mentioned how the color red is associated with passionate feelings, such as love or anger. Then the song made sense to me and was stuck in my head the rest of the day.

Chevelle played nearly all of their singles, excluding “Panic Prone,” “Closure,” and “Well Enough Alone.” But, the band gave its audience exactly what they came for: a badass rock show. The lighting was the most interesting to me. I’m always perplexed at how the colors and shapes can appear so perfectly to the rhythm of a song. This is probably why I take a lot of pictures of how light affects subjects (silhouettes, shadows, sunsets, etc.) In addition to this, Chevelle of course played a perfect show. The vibrations from the bass and drums made your heart beat out of your chest. Lead singer Pete Loeffler’s vocals mixed with his guitar gave goosebumps all over your body. Is this sounding a bit erotic? Well, that’s what the excitement of a rock show should do: make you

Chevelle

psychedelic

feel things, internally and externally. The band concluded their set, but came back with an encore set consisting of the tracks: “The Red,” “Comfortable Liar,” “Forfeit,” and “Send the Pain Below.”

This was my first experience at a festival associated with 94.5 The Buzz. I now know what I’ve been missing all these years and look forward to attending the next Buzzfest or Weenie Roast.

In the End, Everything Should Matter

I tried so hard, and got so far…

Depression wins, again.

As I was sitting by myself, eating lunch, my boyfriend texted me a link titled “Linkin Park Singer Chester Bennington Dead, Commits Suicide by Hanging.” All I could think was, “Are you kidding me?” mixed with a bit of speechlessness. It seems as though many people are still dealing with the similar death of Chris Cornell from just a few months ago, but now… this? And what’s even eerier is that today is also Cornell’s birthday. He would’ve been 53.

Please understand I am not trying to be insensitive. I apologize if that is how I come across.

I wouldn’t consider myself the biggest Linkin Park fan or anything, but I definitely respect their art and the genre of music they sparked in the early 2000’s. Their music was certainly a part of my childhood and early teen years. I comprehended the message of “Somewhere I Belong” because I too wanted somewhere I thought I could just be myself, be happy.

I will never know¬†myself until I do this on my own.¬†And I will never feel anything else until my wounds are healed.¬†I will never be¬†anything ’til I break away from me.¬†And I will break away,¬†and find myself today.

As someone who has struggled with depression for 15 years, I can say with certainty that I can empathize. Yes, I understand what it’s like to have repetitive dark thoughts that won’t go away. Yes, I have faced brooding suicidal tendencies. Yes, I have lost people close to me from depression and suicide. But… because of all of these experiences, I also know what is left behind when someone succumbs to darkness.

There is guilt, anger, confusion, sadness, and any other negative emotion you can think of that haunts for quite a long time. People, friends, and family are left to deal with those inner demons. I think why my initial reaction to Bennington’s death was more angry than anything is because, quite frankly, I am perplexed at the amount of successful, talented people with loving friends and family that just give it up. It’s not only musicians. Remember Robin Williams or Heath Ledger? But also consider these other artists: Kurt Cobain, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Amy Winehouse, Layne Staley, Scott Weiland, Chris Cornell… I know many of these people not only dealt with depression and/or anxiety, but in several instances fought severe drug addiction.

I think that we, as human beings, should practice a little more kindness and empathy towards everyone. Show that the world isn’t completely full of shit. If you see someone suffering from a loss, be there for them. If you or someone you know mentions suicide or dark thoughts, don’t brush it off! Talk with them all night if that’s what they need. Give them a hug. Make them dinner. Write a thoughtful letter. If I could go back to age 16 and talk to my (now deceased) friend, I would’ve encouraged him to hold on. And to kick each day’s ass. Carpe freaking diem.

Life is not worthless. Every thought, every action, has a purpose.

In the end, everything should matter.

-K

“So glad to see you well” Concert Review of A Perfect Circle

Artist: A Perfect Circle
Date: April 27, 2017
Location: Smart Financial Center, Sugar Land, TX

It’s been a minute since A Perfect Circle has performed in the Houston area, the last time being more than a decade ago. For several months, the group has been touring across the US, and Sugar Land just happened to be one of the lucky locations.

IMG_5972

On the way in!

The Smart Financial Center opened this past fall and has already hosted big names such as Morrissey, Sting, and Don Henley. This was my first time to venture the venue. Most sold out concerts usually occur at places such as The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion in the Woodlands or the Toyota Center located in downtown Houston. 

Overall, the venue was clean, easy to navigate, and had an intimate vibe despite its size. The lighting was beautiful and serene. The only minor gripe I have is that exiting the venue had some heavy traffic. But it’s Houston, what can ya do? I think this will improve as more shows are held.

“Clever got me this far, then tricky got me in…”

After a strange, yet intriguing opening from the band Prayers, a translucent curtain fell, indicating the time to refill drinks and relax.¬†(Tip: the drinks are expensive. You’re better off pre-gaming at home or a bar, then getting an Uber). In between sets, security was sure to point out that all recording devices were prohibited, or else you would be escorted out of the venue. Unfortunately, this happened to a local radio show host. Womp.

At exactly 9 pm, the lights died. Shadows were illuminated from behind the secretive curtain. The simplistic and melancholic opening chord of “The Package” began strumming from James Iha’s fingertips. And just as Keenan grunts, “Give this to me,” with his hand reaching toward his right, the curtain falls, revealing the Perfect Circle of a musical group.¬†

I was ecstatic to see Iha play, as I am also a huge Smashing Pumpkins fan and never got to see him while he was in that group. He did not disappoint.

Although it had been previously announced that they would not perform “Judith” on this tour, APC still satisfied the audience with other well known tracks such as “The Noose” and a remix of “3 Libras.” Other recognizable songs came from their covers of “Imagine” and “People Are People.” I must admit I was anticipating the cover of Gaye’s “What’s Goin On,” but was completely astounded by the execution of the other two. You can’t go wrong with Lennon or Depeche Mode.¬†

If you’ve seen any performance frontman Maynard James Keenan has been a part of, you know he loathes people who perpetually use their phones and cameras throughout the show. Keenan is also known for his reclusiveness, frequently not showing his face or even talking. After seeing Tool in January 2016, I would say that Keenan was more social during this tour. He was even a bit comedic, as he held a Shakeweight¬†and joked that he had to “get in [his] workout.” Adding to this bit, he treated the Shakeweight as if it were male genitalia and opened his mouth as he “shook” the device towards himself. Some may have been confused by this act, but it was not surprising to fellow MJK fans. To each, his own…

The entire set was artwork. Each song led perfectly to the next. I was able to appreciate both the music and lyrics being performed, as it conduced me toward a peaceful state. I’m sure this also had to do with the fact that I wasn’t watching the show through my phone screen (which I try not to do anyway). When you can actually engage yourself with the artists performing, you are able to connect to their art on an entirely different level. And perhaps, this is Keenan’s purpose.

I believe that when you go to a show, you should be able to leave with something other than the ability to say, “Oh, what a fun show.” Instead, it is much more fulfilling to leave saying, “Wow, I feel completely rejuvenated and inspired.” Although I’m no musician by any means, I still felt a spark of creativity ignited within me. I wanted to paint, take pictures, write, read, everything… all from one show.¬†

So glad to see you well, APC. 

IMG_5975

SFC at night.

Setlist: 
“The Package”
“The Hollow”
“The Noose”
“Weak and Powerless”
“Rose”
“Imagine” (John Lennon cover)
“By and Down”
“Thomas”
“People Are People” (Depeche Mode cover)
“Magdalena”
“Vanishing”
“Thinking of You”
“Hourglass”
“Counting Bodies Like Sheep to the Rhythm of the War Drums”
“A Stranger”
“Orestes”
“3 Libras (All Main Courses Mix)
“Passive”
“Feathers”

Favorite performances: “The Noose,” “Magdalena,” “Rose,” and “Thinking of You.”¬†

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Travis and I after the show. SFC has a beautiful park area.

“Say Hello 2 Heaven”

Yesterday started just like any other. I threw an outfit together, brushed my teeth, walked my dog, then headed out the door to endure¬†my lovely 40 minute drive to work. As soon as I cranked the¬†car and began listening to my usual morning show, Rod Ryan Show on 94.5 The Buzz, I then realized it wasn’t “just another day.”

Chris Cornell’s recognizable, golden voice started singing a cover of “Nothing Compares 2 U.” I kept thinking to myself, “Damn, this is a really good cover. I might actually start crying. But it’s kind of sad. Why are they playing this at 7:30 in the morning?”

When the song concluded, the words from the radio host seemed to blur together, like when someone is telling you bad news and you just… zone out. I instinctively knew they were going to announce the death of Chris Cornell. It wasn’t until they actually said it that my mouth dropped open…

One of my first posts talks about the grunge music that bloomed out of Seattle. I specifically mention Temple of the Dog’s “Hunger Strike” and how it made me appreciate my life more. I even quote Cornell’s perspective on the lyrics.

Upon returning to Texas, nostalgia resonated within me. I listened to a decent portion of my personal 90‚Äôs playlist on the plane. Later that evening once we had been home (and had a few margaritas), I blared ‚ÄúHunger Strike‚ÄĚ by Temple of the Dog in our bedroom. It just seemed like a natural thing¬†to do: to feel free, sing the lyrics, hold my love, and enjoy the moment.

The song was written in honor of Chris Cornell‚Äôs friend, Andrew Wood (singer of Mother Love Bone), who died from a heroin overdose. Cornell says, ‚ÄúI was wanting to express the gratitude for my life but also disdain for people where that‚Äôs not enough, where they want more‚Ä̬†(Crowe). I understood that concept in the moments of being home. I felt like I fell into that category, especially in the last several months. I had taken so many things, especially my life, for granted. I thought going to Seattle would cure my woes of the daily grind. And it did for the few days we were there. I wasn‚Äôt stressed or worried about work, working out, expectations, or anything. Instead, I was able to breathe the fresh air and involuntarily smile.

It’s disheartening to look back on those words now, knowing Cornell is no longer with us. ¬†And the irony is that song makes me feel alive during my lowest moments. I can relate to Cornell, as I have dealt with depression for nearly half¬†of my life. Only in the last year or so have I actually taken steps to become healthy. A pill doesn’t always work. Sometimes, our hearts and our minds overwhelm us to the point where we feel like we have no other option of escaping whatever type of pain we are feeling. And it is the most unfortunate, darkest last resort…

“And whenever I‚Äôve been in any kind of depression, I‚Äôve over the years tried to not only imagine what it feels like to not be there, but try to remind myself that I could just wake up the next day and it could be gone because that happens, and not to worry about it. And at the same time, when I‚Äôm feeling great, I remember the depression and think about the differences in what I‚Äôm feeling and why I would feel that way, and not be reactionary one way or the other. You just have to realize that these are patterns of life and you just go through them.‚ÄĚ –¬†What Chris Cornell Has Said About Depression and Addiction

I wrote to the Rod Ryan Show after hearing the news and discussion of Cornell’s death possibly being ruled as a suicide. They had asked people to e-mail and share their stories. Although I didn’t particularly have a¬†concert story about¬†Cornell, I did have some other insight to share:

…I had a friend who committed suicide when I was in high school… it’s an extremely tough issue to deal with from any perspective. The only thing that got me through was remembering the good things and times about that person. I learned to not blame myself. Therefore, it is up to us, the listeners, the fans, the artists, friends [and] family to listen to Cornell’s voice and he will continue to live on in the incredible art he created as well as the memories he is associated with…

We can’t blame ourselves or anyone else. Now is not the time to point the finger. Depression is a powerful, elusive¬†beast. What we can do, though, is relish in the art Cornell has left behind, and offer our help to others who may be suffering from mental illness and/or suicidal thoughts.

Please contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline if you or someone you know needs help (1-800-273-8255).

“He hurt so bad like a soul breaking
But he never said nothing to me
So say hello to heaven”

Rest in peace, Chris…

-K

Radio Silence

To say “it’s been a while” would be an understatement.

After starting a new job, I’ve spent a lot of time trying to become acclimated to all of my surrounding. This includes a new living space, city, work environment, colleagues, etc. The last six months have been a bit overwhelming, to say the least. But, I haven’t forgotten about my creative outlet. Yes, it’s been placed on the back burner, but I have some really exciting things in the works.

One thing I am most excited about is an article I worked on in August will be published in a magazine hopefully soon. If things don’t work out, best believe I will post it on here. Once the magazine hits the stands, I will provide a link to view and purchase.

Be patient with me. I hope all is well to my followers and those who stumble across The Music Notes.¬†I’ll leave you guys with this song. I listened to it yesterday on my home as the sun was setting. I always see things a little more clearly and can breathe easy when I listen to this particular track. Happy listening ūüôā

-K

Concert Review: The Cure

Date: May 14, 2016
Location: Toyota Center, Houston, TX

When someone mentions “The Cure” your mind may automatically picture¬†a pale, made up, big-haired guy named Robert Smith who sings depressing lyrics. However, this is just the surface. Beneath the¬†hair, makeup, and melancholy lyrics, lurk iconic lines and melodies provided by a unique and unmistakable voice. There is no doubt that The Cure has made an impression on the music industry throughout the decades, influencing people of all generations.

What has always drawn me to The Cure (as most other bands) were the lyrics. Some were so relative, while others were quirky and didn’t make sense. In addition to that, the actual music (guitar, synthetic beats, piano, etc.) paired so perfectly with the¬†words, that it was hard to not be a fan! Being a teenager in the early 2000’s, The Cure was a band not many people in my neck of the woods had heard of or listened to. I felt like The Cure was a¬†little piece of gold in my mine of music.

“Remembering you, standing quiet in the rain
As I ran to your heart to be near.”

It had been raining most of the day in Houston, which seemed appropriate and even welcoming.The last time The Cure was in the city¬†was in 2008, also at the Toyota Center. Despite their absence, they¬†returned¬†with as much energy as a band who just stepped onto the scene. You have to understand, Smith is 57 years old and has been in the music industry for 30+ years! Maybe he’s thoroughly conditioned, but he is still able to command an audience with his musical talent.

The audience itself contained a variety of people. A range of¬†ages and races alike joined in on the inevitable thing that brings society together: music. Though The Cure’s music is older than I am (24), many people my age, or even younger,¬†can still appreciate and respect the band’s influence on music and culture alike.

“Show me, show me, show me, how you do that trick!”

The setlist was balanced, as far as distribution of well known hits and rarities go. They played many of their singles¬†in the first half of the set, then lesser known tracks the rest of the show up until their first encore. Yeah – you read that right – their first encore, meaning there were more.¬†I have never been to a concert where they have more than one encore. The Cure, however, had a total of four, equaling out to 34 songs. It’s safe to say everyone got their money’s worth.

Favorite Performance: “Burn” from The Crow soundtrack. (If you haven’t watched that movie, do it. Amazing soundtrack.)

Me Being A Creeper: Noticed a young couple dancing to “The Lovecats”. I thought it was sweet.

Outfit: Short, black dress with mesh sleeves, black wedges, a top-notch cat eye and dark lipstick. Travis noted that I definitely looked like I was going to a The Cure concert. I take that as a compliment.

Overall Impression: Though the show was long (I’m an old woman at heart), I thoroughly enjoyed The Cure’s performance.¬†Despite having a seat, I spent the majority of the show on my feet dancing my way through the songs that comprise¬†most of my 80’s playlist, making it easy¬†for me¬†to experience my wishful past-life of being a young adult in the 80’s. The enthusiasm and positive vibes were contagious, as¬†a greater part of¬†the audience was also dancing and singing along, creating a night no one could ever forget.

Setlist:
Open
High
A Night Like This
Lovesong
Pictures of You
Lullaby
A Strange Day
Push
In Between Days
Just Like Heaven
The Last Day of Summer
At Night
M
Play for Today
Want
Shake Dog Shake
The Hungry Ghost
From the Edge of the Deep Green Sea
One Hundred Years
End

ENCORE 1
Burn
It Can Never Be the Same

ENCORE 2
Step Into the Light
Fascination Street
Never Enough
Wrong Number

ENCORE 3
The Lovecats
Close to Me
The Caterpillar
The Walk
Let’s Go to Bed
Why Can’t I Be You?

ENCORE 4
A Forest
Boys Don’t Cry

My Zombie Apocalypse Playlist

In¬†response to today’s daily challenge prompt, I’ve decided to finally post an entry I’ve been saving for about a month.

Several weeks ago, the Season Two premiere of the series Fear the Walking Dead aired. After this show, as well as the original The Walking Dead, they have a talk show featuring Chris Hardwick called Talking Dead.

One question Hardwick asked the guests a few weeks ago¬†was: “What would be on your zombie apocalypse playlist?” This intrigued my interest, because I often think about what music I would listen to (given the choice and ability) while killing zombies. I compiled a playlist of 10 songs, ranging from different genres and themes. Some I included because of pure enjoyment of the song. Others, simply because it relates to zombies/vampires/monsters/mythical creatures.

Zombie Apocalypse Playlist:

  1. “More Than a Feeling” – Boston
    Okay, so I chose this because it is mine and Travis’ “song” and it was also featured on an episode of¬†The Walking Dead. It’s such a beautiful song I would never get tired of rockin’ out to.
  2. “Dragula” – Rob Zombie
    Obviously, I gotta have some Rob Zombie in mix. I mean, his last name is Zombie! Also, when I was in college and played Call of Duty in zombie mode, I would crank up some Rob Zombie and start shootin’. I always did much better at the game when I had music playing, so maybe this would apply in a hypothetical real-life zombie attack?
  3. “Even Flow” – Pearl Jam
    This track always gets me pumped up. Whether I’m driving in my car with the windows down, running outside, or playing darts with my friends. My body count of zombies would definitely increase if this song is in the background.
  4. “Zombie” – The Cranberries
    For obvious reasons, I chose this song because of the title. Though there are political meanings behind this track, I do feel that they could apply to a zombie apocalypse, especially when one remembers the first few episodes of Fear the Walking Dead.¬†There were tanks, and their bombs, and their guns (are you singing it in your head yet?). But, yes, I do believe that there would be some extreme government involvement. However, I don’t believe all of us would be lucky enough to be safe.
  5. “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites” ¬†– Skrillex
    There’s really only one line of lyrics in this song. “You don’t need to hide, my friend, for I am just like you.” The feeling of loneliness would definitely resonate during an apocalypse. So, any kind of friendship or bond would be valued. Applying these lyrics to an apocalypse, I interpret them meaning that everyone is in the same situation together. Everyone would need to contribute in order to survive. Also, zombies would be some pretty “scary monsters” to envision, but this song is upbeat enough to want to get a head shot in.
  6. “Hunger Strike” – Temple of the Dog
    I imagine in a zombie apocalypse that food would be scarce, thus me being hungry. Although this song has a different metaphorical meaning (see¬†The Sound of Seattle), I’m using it literally for this playlist. I often watch survival shows in order to gain a better understanding of what it would take to survive, and I think that food would be my biggest issue. I love steak, burgers, fries, and ICE CREAM way too much to just not have it in my life anymore. I could probably live a while eating¬†some things found in nature, but there is no way in hell I’m gonna eat a spider.
  7. “Bullet with Butterfly Wings” – Smashing Pumpkins
    The first lyric of this song is “The world is a vampire.” When I hear this, I interpret it as the world just sucking the life out of you. I believe that this feeling would be existent in a zombie-infested society (see #5). Plus, the song is badass and angsty (and SP is one of my favorite bands).
  8. “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” – Tears for Fears
    “Welcome to your life / There’s no turning back…” I chose this song because of the political factors that would possibly evolve in a group of people. If you watch The Walking Dead, you know what I’m talking about. The Governor, Rick, Neegan, etc. It’s a power struggle. Thus, everybody wants to rule the world. Aside from that, this is also a song I wouldn’t mind listening to everyday.
  9. “Aenema” – Tool
    This song is definitely about the end of the world. The speaker discusses how the world is already in pieces, and that maybe an Armegeddon or apocalypse would be good for society in order to “flush away” the toxicity. Hence, the punny title. I always listen to this song when I become frustrated with the ways of the world and I usually feel better and enlightened after listening to this track.
  10. “Change” – Deftones
    I chose this song because of the title. In TWD, different groups have different terms they use for when people die and become “zombies”. I feel like the word “change” pretty much encompasses the transformation. “I watched a change in you / It’s like you never had wings / Now you feel so alive / I have watched you change.”

So, tell me. What would be on your zombie apocalypse playlist?

Concert Review: The Used

FullSizeRender (6)Date: April 15 and 16, 2016
Location: House of Blues, Dallas, TX.

When I was 10 years old, I discovered the music that resonates with me the most today. I remember the first time I heard “The Taste of Ink” by The Used on MMUSA (now Fuse). The next day, I went to school trying to explain to my friends how awesome this song was! From then on, I continued listening to The Used and other bands that fell into the same genre. Yet, despite my adoration, I hadn’t seen them live until this year. They had been on my bucket list for 14 years!

The Used has been on a 15 year anniversary tour, where they play their debut self-titled album and¬†In Love and Death in their entirety in two separate nights. Although Houston wasn’t on the list, Dallas didn’t seem like too much of a trek to endure.

I took a Friday off from work, and Travis and I began our three hour journey to the Dallas House of Blues. Tip: We ate dinner there before the show and our waitress gave us a “Pass the Line” ticket. Extra time to buy merch and drinks!


Night One – Self-Titled Debut Album:

As Travis and I were waiting in between sets, he bought another round to calm our anticipation. Travis had already seen The Used a few times before, but this was new for me, so my excitement was extremely heightened. The stage was crowded with naked mannequins with hand-written lyrics from the album on them. This makes sense when regarding the album cover for the self-titled album.

The setlist began, of course, with “Maybe Memories”. The first 25 seconds of the song is a combination of heavy bass and guitar with something resembling¬†a police siren in the background to prep you for the loud, screaming muse that is Bert McCracken.

The album’s second single “The Taste of Ink” is definitely a fan favorite. This is probably the first song I heard from The Used. I remember being 10 years old, singing the lyrics, “So here I am / It’s in my hands / And I’ll savor every moment of this” as if I had something to savor during those years. Perhaps it was my carefree, childlike view on life that could’ve been saved. But Bert was on a mission to salvage that perspective¬†for everyone in the audience. After the track was done, Bert said, “That was amazing! I can already tell this is going to be a good night.”

Leading into the next song “Bulimic” Bert said to the crowd for one night, to just “be like a child.” Not by being childish, but for everyone to¬†simply be themselves and enjoy the night. This definitely gave me comfort as I am someone who tends to worry what others think, even in mundane situations.¬†I was singing along and then¬†started¬†choking up during¬†the chorus “Goodbye to you / You’re taking up my time.” Belting out those lyrics had some sort of meditative release. I felt as if I were letting go of all the negative stuff that was clouding my mind and most importantly, I could continue to be myself. Well done, Bert.

“I buried myself alive on the inside
So I could shut you out
And let you go away for a long time…”

FullSizeRender (4)A few tracks later, “Buried Myself Alive” (another single from the album) hit close to home. Before the show, I bought a shirt that has a skeleton in a coffin with the¬†title beside it. This has been an additional¬†lasting¬†favorite song from the band over the years because I’ve always read the lyrics from personal experpience. Literature is subjective, by the way. Dealing with overwhelming negative thoughts and feelings can make one feel as if they are burying themselves alive, and that’s how I’ve always perceived the lyrics. I’ve buried myself alive on the inside many times, but always dug myself out.

“Should’ve done something but I’ve done it enough
By the way your hands were shaking
Rather waste some time with you…”

“Blue and Yellow” has always been the most emotional song for me to listen to from this album. From the very first time I heard it when I was 14, I always connected it to a significant person. That person being the person I’m in a relationship with today: Travis. He and I have not been a couple over the last 10 years, but we’ve always had a connection to each other. Despite the years that went by where we didn’t talk to each other and I literally thought he had died or moved out of the country, I always held on to a group of songs to make me feel close to him in some way, this track being one of them. When I heard this song live, I felt disconnected in myself. I was completely caught up in the emotion and personal experience behind the lyrics that it made it difficult for me to be thankful that Travis and I were there together. This was until he¬†turned to me and said with a smile, “You’re the blue to my yellow.” There’s probably a lot of interpretations that can go with that statement, but I understood that it was a positive one. From then on, I felt like myself again.

Edging closer to the end of the set, Burt said in between two songs, “I’m stalling because I don’t want this night to end.” He could definitely feel the energy from the audience that had been singing every word from every lyric from the entire album. We didn’t want it to end either. But, the band finally made it to the last song of the album, “Pieces Mended”. However, any true fan of The Used knows about the hidden track at the end of the album. Although “Pieces Mended” would’ve been a suitable and awesome song to end the night with, the audience knew there was one more song! The band had left the stage after the last listed track, but then ran back out with more energy for the heavy, screaming, fast-paced “Choke Me”. The audience went wild with fists in the air and mosh pits circling¬†in the bottom section¬†of the venue.

FullSizeRender (5)The Used expressed their gratitude while the audience applauded and screamed with happiness. Then the curtains fell back down and lights brightened, indicating the show was over. Just then, one of my favorite moments¬†of the night happened:¬†“More Than A Feeling” by Boston started playing. This somehow became a “song” for Travis and I, so¬†if it starts playing while we’re together, it’s a sign to me that I am exactly where I need to be.¬†We Ubered our way back to the hotel with our ears ringing, but our minds overjoyed by the show we had just experienced.

 


Night Two – In Love and Death:

This time, I bought a round before The Used started playing. The crowd was encompassed in a happy nostalgia due to the fact that 90’s pop hits were playing. Everyone was singing Backstreet Boys and then “No Scrubs” by TLC. Then, the lights went dark and the curtains lifted. This night’s stage was set with a backdrop resembling the cover from In Love and Death, along with a lamp structure shaped like the heart from the same album.

The band fired it up with the opening track “Take It Away”. Everyone in the crowd was already having so much fun! There was singing, dancing, hands in the air, and just no cares. Bert preached to the crowd the same sermon from the night before, regarding being “like a child again.”¬†This speech only came after he called out an audience member by saying, “First of all, who the f*** are you texting?” He then went on to explain that social media not only sells products, but also certain ideas. I think he was trying to have people understand that we don’t need social media to make us who we are. We don’t need the unreachable expectations placed upon us from society and those who appear to be “better off” than we are. At least, that’s how I interpreted it.

“I Caught Fire” is the third single from the album. Lyrics such as “Every second I’m without you I’m a mess” and “I’m melting in your eyes” make it easy for this track to be shared between lovers. I kept glancing and smirking at Travis like the girl I was when I first met him.

The second single¬†and¬†fourth track “All That I’ve Got” is absolutely one of my favorites from the album. In seventh grade, I had an alliance of people who burned CDs for me after giving them a playlist. This song was definitely on multiple CDs. I remember listening to the lyrics through my walkman on bus rides, fueling my teen angst and unexplainable internal rebellion of the rural society I was raised in. “I’ll be just fine, pretending I’m not / I’m far from lonely and it’s all that I’ve got.”

Bert explained how this album is obviously about love and death. He struggled for a long time getting back into the studio and making music, but was finally able to do so with some encouragement from his band members. The reason for his struggle stemmed from the death of an ex-girlfriend, who was also pregnant with his child. I didn’t know of this information beforehand, but it made the entire album make so much more sense. Dealing with a death of someone you’ve had a relationship with is extremely difficult and heavy. With my own personal experience being somewhat relative to Bert’s, I was able to view the rest of the setlist with an enlightened perspective.¬†

Light with a sharpened edge
Cut through the black empty space we call sky
Beginning the cycle that stays
And I know in my heart we all die”

My favorite song performed that night was “Light With A Sharpened Edge”. The optimistic sounds from the intro guitar and simple drums gave a feeling of hope. I just felt at peace with myself. I also feel that this song is so unique compared to the other ones on the first two albums.

At some point, between two songs, the band led into a cover of “Smoke Two Joints”. The stage lighting turned to green, red, and yellow. Bert even said, “Smoke em’ if you got em’.” They also did a short cover of “Stand By Me” as Bert asked the audience to hug the person next to you.

Near the end of the setlist included the track “I’m A Fake”. For about the first minute, Bert reads a poem that then leads into the music portion. The lines to this poem were printed on the back of a shirt to sell at the merch table. Bert said the first line to the poem, then the audience took over from there. It seemed every person was able to recite the rest of the poem without missing a beat. You could tell that this made Bert proud, as he rested his hand on his chest near his heart.

The bonus track on In Love and Death¬†is a cover of “Under Pressure” (originally by David Bowie and Freddie Mercury), where Gerard Way makes an appearance to accompany the song. I was really hoping that The Used would use this track as their encore, as well as a tribute to the late Bowie. However, this didn’t happen. Instead, the band came back out on stage to perform “Pretty Handsome Awkward” from Lies For The Liars. Bert assembled a mosh pit by telling the audience downstairs to split into half, “one side over here, one side over there, then everyone run into each other as fast and hard as you can.” People were pumped during this last song. I could see others, even upstairs, jumping up and down while shouting the lyrics. The performance did eventually come to an end, even though we didn’t want it to.¬†Bert yelled, “Free Palestine!” with his fist in the air as the band made their final exit.

Overall: As you can probably tell, I have held a deep connection to this band and their songs for more than half of my life. Hearing and singing with the band in person made me further appreciate the music that defined my adolescence. In addition, these shows were probably some of the most engaging that I have attended. The heartbreakingly relatable lyrics fed my nostalgia, but allowed me to feel young again, as promised and requested by Bert.


Photographs taken by yours truly.