Friday, August 23, 2013

Legends of the Summer: Jay-Z & Justin Timberlake @ Rose Bowl

Guess who I saw after the concert
Picnic in the Park was a nice idea and a good way to entice people to arrive to the Rose Bowl early to minimize congestion.  Side Note:  if Rose Bowl wanted to minimize congestion, why the hell did they charge so much money for offsite parking and shuttle?  It practically cost as much as parking onsite!  Luckily, the Metro was running later than usual for the concert and had police and employees to direct people to the right platforms.  Made it much easier and safer to be in Old Town Pasadena so late at night.  And the walk from the stadium to Old Town actually wasn't that bad.  There were a ton of people doing the same thing.  Cheers to public transit!  So, picnic = good idea, beer garden and indirect encouragement of tailgating = bad idea.  From the dumb drunk girls sitting behind me (I had to switch seats, they were so annoying) to the guy I saw being carried to his seat (did he even see the show?!), I've never seen so many ridiculously drunk people at a concert before (this excludes music festivals).  I guess it was to be expected since so many people started drinking early in the afternoon.

I hadn't read any reviews before the concert, so I wasn't sure what to expect, like who was opening for whom.  It was a good mix of singing and rapping.  The show started out with duets, smoothly transitioned into each others sets, and ended with a few more duets over the course of two hours.

With the release of Justin Timberlake's album 20/20 Experience, I was relieved he finally went back to something he was good at, singing.  Unfortunately, this album wasn't one of his best.  Although, I must say, the outros on all the tracks are probably the best parts of the album.  The lyrics aren't great (check out Spaceship Coupe and Strawberry Bubblegum), but I do admit to the beats growing on me after each listen (example, Pusher Love Girl.  Not that well-written, but somehow he made this song catchy and the "ju-ju-ju-ju-junky for your love" lyrics in the outro are ridiculously great, especially live!).  Some day I hope he releases an album that just contains outros.

Cheers were definitely louder when Justin performed hits off Justified and FutureSex/LoveSongs (although the screams for the Pusher Love Girl outro were deafening).  I'd almost forgotten how many great songs were on his first album.  SeƱorita, with the live audience singalong at the end, was a crowd pleaser.  Timbaland was a pleasant surprise on SexyBack, but he seemed so unexcited to be there.  He practically ran off the stage as soon as the song was over.  And if he was there the whole time, why didn't he show up for the rest of the second album songs?  Take Back the Night, a track off his soon to be released 20/20 Experience sequel, was enjoyable.  Can't wait to hear the rest of the record.  And his duets with Jay-Z were refreshing.  

Justin is a man of many talents:  dancing, singing, playing piano, rocking out on guitar, but singing a capella isn't one of them.  I never noticed how strange and nasally his voice was outside of a studio or a boy band, but it became very apparent during his rendition of New York New York.  It was still an interesting transition into Jay-Z's Empire State of Mind.  I was a little disappointed when Justin didn't stay to sing Alicia Keys' lyrics.  That would've been something. 

Justin really knew how to cater to his fans and was a ball of charisma, which came off a bit hammy compared to Jay-Z, who exuded effortless cool even by just standing there.  Jay-Z gave a great performance, but it seemed toned down compared to his show at Coachella, which I deemed much better even though he was losing his voice.  He just seemed to enjoy himself more that time.  Surprisingly, he didn't have any special guests.

As a finale, the stadium darkened and thousands of phones began to light up as Jay-Z and Justin made a touching dedication to Trayvon Martin to the tune of Young Forever.  You could feel the emotions swelling as everyone sang along with the two Legends of Summer.   



Thursday, August 15, 2013

Alarms After Dark @ Good Hurt

LocationGood Hurt
BandAlarms After Dark - the latest musical incarnation from Xander Govan, whose other bands have included Near Death Photography Club and Siberian Summer Camp

After having listened to Xander's previous bands, I feel like he's finally found a musical style that complements his vocals.  Alarms After Dark is a good balance between rock and a moodiness that has been a constant influence in his previous bands.  Micah's use of reverb adds a dreamy atmosphere to AAD's sound, which is unique and appealing to a larger audience at the same time.

The only down side to the show was not being able to hear all the band members' voices on some of the songs because the sound was too low on all but Xander's mics.  The music was still good, but I wonder how different it would've sounded if I could have heard the supplemental harmonies. 

If Alarms After Dark had a single, it would have to be the polished and catchy Faults

I like the direction this band is going in and look forward to hearing more.