Screaming Into The Abyss

Crystal Method at Epic, Minneapolis
By Ben Zvan
On December 22, 2008 at 12:51

KirklandOn Friday, December 19, The Crystal Method were joined by Jack Trash, Nathan Vox and Leon J for a night of live DJ'd music at Epic nightclub in Minneapolis presented by Sound In Motion.

My first impression of the club was disorganization. The front door was unlocked and nobody was there to keep people from wandering in until they got up by the box office, some of the employees showing up before the doors officially opened were unaware of this and weren't sure how to get in. This is a big contrast to a venue like First Avenue where they lock the doors and have someone right inside to let the staff through.

Fly GirlAfter a short wait in Minnesota weather, we walked in and started wandering the club looking for spots to shoot from. I have to say that, from a photographer's point of view, this isn't the best club to be at. Especially without stage access and especially for their DJ set configuration. The DJs were blocked by a box in front of the decks and two speakers on either side of them. The best view in the house was from a private box, which had a darned good view, but blocked the stage for the rest of us. Luckily, I'm used to odd locations and worked quickly to find the best spots to hang. And it took security a couple hours to figure out I'd been standing on couches and ask me to get off. A camera can only get you so far.

Crowd at Crystal MethodMy second impression of the club was that I had completely forgotten what the nightclub scene was like. It's probably been since I was 21 that I went to one of the local meet-markets. There was more prime flesh on display than I had seen in a long time and by the end of the night, all of it was thoroughly marinated. At least one guy reminded me of getting drunk in GTA IV. Clearly his whole world was spinning out of control.

The first set was Leon J who, and I'm going to show my ignorance here, I presume is a local DJ along with Jack Trash and Nathan Vox. He had a great stage presence and really opened up the crowd as they came in. The transitions through the other DJs and into The Crystal Method were seamless enough that I didn't even notice when Kirkland started spinning except that the energy in the place started to increase rapidly and the beats became more familiar to me. Those two are probably not entirely related since I talked to some folks in line who were there to see Jack Trash.

Kirkland and JordanJordan and Kirkland served up dance tracks until 2:00, slipping in samples and beats from their albums that made the crowd go crazy when they realized their alcohol addled brains were taking in something familiar. Scott Kirkland is clearly the more outgoing of the duo. When Ken Jordan was spinning, Kirkland was often standing up on the podium and playing with the crowd, singing with the samples and taking pictures of and for the audience. When the Go-go dancers were in that spot, Kirland would dance behind them or play with Jordan's head, basically keeping the stage energy high and connecting with the crowd.

It looks like the last time The Crystal Method was in Minneapolis was 2006. I'm hoping they don't wait another two years to come back, and I'll certainly be keeping my eyes open for more.

-- More Photos -- Crowd Photos

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They Might Be Giants - Full Report
By Ben Zvan
On September 18, 2008 at 13:50

Cable Fight!The show started with Moon Maan. They're okay, but not my kind of thing. Sounds like a typical alt-rock group where most of the songs sound pretty much the same as the rest.

If I learned one thing from the show, it's that TMBG's music appeals to a broad demographic. While I didn't hear any grumbles from the crowd about blatantly liberal statements made by John, the age range was extremely wide. Many fans were my age (30s) but many had black Xs on their hands indicating they were under 21. I even ran into a Junior from my drawing class this summer who was introduced to them via Gigantic (A Tale of Two Johns) (2002).

Spider!If I learned two things from the show, it's that I haven't really been keeping up with the band. I have the original stand-bys like Lincoln and They Might Be Giants and I love listening to them, but I don't have any of the new stuff. I guess, when I heard they were starting to do children's music, it didn't occur to me that I was missing 15 years of TMBG history already. Now I need to check out the rest of their catalog and see if there's anything I need to pick up.

If I learned three things from the show, it's that TMBG puts on an awesome live show. Their audience interaction is flawless, and their energy level was hard for me to keep up with. Every time I took a break from shooting (not gonna do that again), they did something I wished I had caught with the camera. Luckily, my second shooter, MK was there for me.

Make a Little Bird House in Your SoulThe theme of the show was the "Second Annual Swear-a-Thon", though they only swore a couple of times and slightly sheepishly at that. They made it a goal to play at least one song from every album, which meant we all got to see how good they are at making children's music that parents will like too. I'd recommend them if you're getting tired of listening to Barney every time you get into the car.

I didn't make the free, kids show on Saturday due to a conflict with a Belgian beer festival in St. Paul, but a friend made it and had many of the same things to say about them that I do. The live show was great, they kept the audience (kids this time) interested, and basically rocked out for the little ones. I suppose that might explain the wide age range present at First Avenue. The band started out in the 80s with an un-classifiable musical style that appealed to the slightly nerdy non-conformists of the era, they kept at it for 25 years and now, they're playing for the children of their original fans, keeping everyone, including the next generation, happy and involved.

I'm glad to see that TMBG has kept creative, fresh and active over their career. Unlike several concerts I've seen, this one renewed my interest in the band. I'll be keeping track of them more closely and definitely seeing their next live show.

-- Photos of They Might Be Giants by Ben Zvan Photography with help from Glimpses of Soul

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Might They Be Giants?
By Ben Zvan
On September 11, 2008 at 13:20

They Might Be GiantsWhen They Might Be Giants had their first show, they didn't really think their name might be considered arrogant or even that it might be applied to them. 26 years and 4 million record sales later, I don't think they could ever really have been called "giants" but they've done a respectable job for a couple guys named Jon who play accordion. The cult of TMBG continues on in many forms.

Tomorrow night, they'll be performing a live show at First Avenue in downtown Minneapolis with Moon Maan. It's really hard to tell if it's too late to get tickets but if you're a fan and want to see them rock out live, that's the route I'd take if I were you, which I'm not. Obviously.

If you have kids and can't get a sitter for a Friday night, then I've got a bit of trivia you won't get from Ticketmaster. Head to Highland Lake Park in Bloomington for a free show at Target Children's Book Festival. It should be much more kid-friendly than a black-painted, dimly lit, loud nightclub with a very high bar-to-audience ratio.

I plan on having a post with photos from the First Ave show early next week.

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Show Postponed - Nine Inch Nails
By Ben Zvan
On August 02, 2008 at 06:53

nine inch nailsI don't know if anyone in the room is a fan of Nine Inch Nails, but if you've got tickets, be prepared to clear a new date for the show. I know when I was traveling and working a lot, it tended to wipe me out pretty good so I guess I'm not to surprised that a couple dates might get rearranged. I would have liked an official statement on their web page rather than marking the Minneapolis date as "just added", but I'll help get the word out by printing the press release here:

Minneapolis, MN – (Friday, August 1)  JAM Productions have just announced that the Nine Inch Nails/Crystal Castles concert originally scheduled for Saturday, August 2 at Target Center has just been postponed due to illness.   The band is sincerely sorry for the last minute announcement, but after receiving doctor’s orders not to perform Trent Reznor has reluctantly agreed to the postponement.
The concert is being rescheduled for Tuesday, November 25, 2008 at Target Center.  All tickets purchased for the August 2 concert will be honored on the new date. For those unable to attend the rescheduled date of November 25, a refund will be available at original point of purchase.

Looks like some people's Thanksgiving week just got a little busier. Here's a map of all the US and Canadian tour dates.


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Song of the day
By Ben Zvan
On March 11, 2008 at 09:09

I've searched around the Internet trying to find the lyrics to Son Oh Son by Boiled in Lead. Now, it may be that they didn't write the song, but it's the only place I've heard it. Since I wanted to put some of the lyrics on my whiteboard at work in honor of St. Patricks day, I transcribed them and am making them available here:

It's up in the kitchen, down in the hall
Billy's the father of his sister's child
Took her down to the merry wood
There he shot his sister dead
He go back to his mother's home
Welcome to me my son, my son
[down by the green wood side]

Son oh son why are you so pale
I've been down to the green wood hunting quail
There's no quail away down there
I've been down there shooting the white tail deer
No pistol kills a deer
Oh Billy where's your sister where?

Oh mother oh mother, make my bed
For I have shot my sister dead
Then son, where will you go
For your father will kill you when he comes to home
He'll burry you under yon hill
If he doesn't kill you I surely will

 Happy St. Patricks Day!


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MC Frontalot Plays the Triple Rock
By Ben Zvan
On November 16, 2007 at 10:21

MC Frontalot - 4Earlier this week, I heard on Penny-Arcade that MC Frontalot was coming to Minneapolis for his third show on 11-15-2007 at the Triple Rock Social Club. Last time I heard he was coming to town, it was the same day as the show and I already had something going that night. So this time I was damned if I was going to miss it.

I had never heard of his opener on the tour Shäffer the Darklord (STD), but he was great even if he does have an unfortunate stage acronym (his joke, not mine) and his interactions with the crowd and with his partner The Black Box were brilliant.

MC Frontalot - 1I've liked MC Fontalot's music on my iPod, but I've got to say that it's much better in person, even my wife liked it once she could watch the band interacting and playing to the crowd. They really made this an interactive show too. The first thing he said when he came out was "We're throwing out the set-list tonight and making this an all-request show. Who's got an MC Frontalot song they want to hear?". The request was made and then "Okay, but you've got to roll at least a three.". She rolled a six and the show started. The one person who rolled a natural 20 was invited to dance on stage but, being nerdcore, elected to choose a second song.

The final song was Nerdcore Rising and was prefaced by the crowd yelling "The time we are having is acceptable!" in unison and the keyboardist prompting us to sing the chorus "Nerdcore could rise up" to start the song.

More photos on flickr

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