Sunday, May 17, 2009

Somewhere Only We Know

Keane came out swinging last night and by the end of the evening, had knocked us all out. I'm always surprised when I remember that they only have three albums, because the sheer number of memorable, catchy, beautiful songs in their repertoire trumps some bands that have been around for ages.

It was, by far, the loudest show I've ever been to on this side of the pond. I can't even think of a close second. I'm going to generalize here and say that I've noticed American crowds (as a whole...there are always pockets of enthusiasm, usually towards the middle-front) just aren't as "into it" as most British crowds. This probably has a lot to do with the (mostly British) bands I choose to see, but it's what I've encountered. Chicago crowds are a bit better than Florida crowds, though. Sorry, Florida! Anyway, for the first time, I didn't necessarily feel like I was in America while I was at a concert. Somewhere in the middle of their set, lead singer Tom Chaplin, who was fairly chatty throughout the night, proclaimed:
"I think it's fair to say that this has been the best show of our tour so far."
[After about a four minute applause break]

"Now I just have to figure out a way to shut you all up so we can sing the song!"
You can just tell when a band enjoys a show. To say that Keane were appreciative of the audience would be an understatement. They gave us back all the love we gave them and more. Chuffed is the best word I can think of to describe their mood. Something that's always fascinated me is the way that concertgoers and bands play off of each other, because I think every band is different in that respect. I've been to gigs where you can tell that the artist would put on the same exact show no matter what the audience's reaction was. Then there are times like last night, where you can see that the band is feeding off of the reaction of the crowd and their energy actually builds and the show becomes even better than anyone ever thought it could be. This was the perfect synergy (Perfect Symmetry?) that we all experienced at the beautiful Aragon Ballroom. The room that Tom said made him feel like he was "at Disneyland"...which, of course, makes it the happiest place on Earth.

There was a sad moment when Tom made reference to some issues that had prevented them from coming back to Chicago sooner. Keane, of course, had to cancel their last U.S. tour because of drug problems, which he didn't specifically address, but the implication was obviously there. He looked good. Happy, energetic...I always want to use the word sprightly to describe him, but that's just because he's so darn adorable. Keyboardist Tim was also all over the stage and headbanging in his sparkly shirt. They were so much fun to watch. I must make quick mention of how sweaty Tom was by the end. It was really incredible. Literally head-to-toe.
So although I was tired as HELL from my early morning and hours of working out earlier in the day at the SELF Magazine Workout in the Park (which I will write about soon, because that was #2 on my list of things I need to put in my blog), I had no problem finding the energy to rock, thanks to the band and the crazy crowd. This was my second time seeing Keane, but my first time seeing them with Jon, so it was extra special. If you don't know their music, you can check out some of their stuff on YouTube, including a song that has quickly become my workout jam, Spiralling. I would love to embed a video here, but I'm finding more and more that the function has been disabled by the record companies. I don't really understand the thinking behind that, because either way, people are hearing about their bands and checking out their music, but what can you do? They're worth a little clicking around, though.

I'm Warning You

I have three separate ideas for blog posts, so if I can find the time tomorrow, you're in for it!

For reference, does anyone like Keane besides Jon and I? I'll probably post about the gig either way and try to convince you that you should...but I want to know nonetheless.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Temporarily Out of Order

So this happened to my computer last week, forcing a temporary hiatus from all things technological. It's since gotten much worse. The crack now reaches almost completely across the screen and the (dramatic) white space at the bottom is widening by the day. I suppose I could have gotten it fixed, but I don't know how much it would cost for parts and labor on a cracked screen and I didn't really care to do the required research. Considering the damn machine is over 3 years old, the 80 GB hard drive is completely full and it's been running like molasses recently anyway, I decided to break the bank and just get a new one. So here I am, waiting for my shiny new (Cherry Red) toy for who knows how long...hopefully I'll have it by next weekend. If not, I might be going nuts.

In a way, getting me away from the computer for two weeks is probably is a good thing, but the waiting process is a little excruciating. I even went to the gym today...on purpose! I mean, c'mon! It's amazing how addicted I've become to my laptop, phone, camera and iPod. It would be hard for me to truly live without any of those things for an extended amount of time. My name is Alissa, and I have a problem.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Make the Trek

Apparently I love J.J. Abrams. I've watched LOST and Fringe regularly since they began and I was really excited about Cloverfield, but watching Star Trek last Thursday finally solidified it for me. I can't even think of anyone to compare him to in the industry, past or present. He's quickly building his very own Sci Fi (or is it SyFy now?) empire where monsters are real, life is mysterious, heroes are human and fallible, and the past/present/future is never completely set in stone.

I won't spoil any of the movie for you, so no worries if you're reading this. I will just say that J.J. took the Star Trek world that everyone knew and he turned it on its head. Not only is it fresh and exciting again, but it can go wherever it wants in the future due to a clever bit of writing. There were definitely references (shout-outs) to the TV series and films of the past, but they're not done in an overly cheesy manner that distracts from everything else going on (not going to lie, there were a few "wink wink" moments put in specifically for the die-hards). I think that given the inherent far-fetched nature of any Sci Fi story, this one was pulled off in the most plausible way possible. There are scenes (especially early on) that I feel were slightly unnecessary, but I suppose those are more about the character set-ups than anything else.

Speaking of characters, every single one of them is bad-ass. Kirk gets beaten up in every way possible by everyone possible. The action scenes are really well done and visually, it is absolutely stunning. The acting is pretty spot-on, only occasionally going over-the-top. In my opinion, this is a testament to the near-perfect casting of the film (Winona Ryder does NOT need to be in this, but...whatever). One of the most important things for any story to be successful is to make the audience care about the characters in one way or another. You don't have to love everyone, but you have to have some sort of emotional stake in the outcome, or you might as well just walk out of the theater. Whether it was the writing or the acting or a combination of the two, I did care.

Luckily, Star Trek never stumbles into the trap of becoming a caricature of itself or the genre, which, let's face it, it could have done very easily. One sure sign that you may like it: the guy in the theater dressed as Captain Kirk was apparently raving about it afterward...

It's not just for the Trekkies, though, kids! Jon, who has openly stated that he believes Star Trek is "the dorkiest thing ever," enjoyed it just as much as the hardcore fans. I'm somewhere in between fan and apathetic towards the Trek, but I would pay to see this again. This is a big deal coming from me, because I am usually staunchly against viewing films more than once (with notable exceptions like The Dark Knight, Trainspotting and a few others).

There you have it, folks. Well, there you have as much as I can say until you go see it and we can discuss go do it because I'm dying to talk about this!!!