Sunday, April 9, 2006

Concert Review - Guster @ Xavier University

Saturday, April 8, 2006 @ 9PM - Cintas Center

So, I traveled to Cincinnati over the weekend to see one my favorite bands, Guster, in concert. Cincinnati is about 340 miles from my house. Why is this relevant? Because 2 nights before, they played my alma mater, Michigan State University, which is about 7 miles from my house. Yes, I was aware of the show and considered going, but in the end I thought a road trip would be good for me. I haven’t been out of town since I was in Cincinnati at the end of February for the Nine Inch Nails show at US Bank Arena.

It isn’t very often at all that a band plays a set list of all your favorite songs, but that’s what happened last night. Other than not playing “Careful”, I can’t think of any other songs I would have preferred over the ones they played. The set featured a broad and even mix of material from the last three albums, as well as some tracks from the new album, "Ganging Up On The Sun", set to be released on June 20.

Of course, for me, the highlight was a long and powerful version of my favorite Guster song, “Come Downstairs and Say Hello”.

Again, it was like they were playing my own personal “Guster Greatest Hits” album, but some other highlights included:

From Keep It Together: “Diane”, “Amsterdam”

From Goldfly: “Great Escape”, “Demons”

From Lost & Gone Forever: “I Spy”, “Center of Attention”, “Happier”

From Ganging Up On The Sun: “Manifest Destiny”, “One Man Wrecking Machine”

Visit the “Archives” section of the Guster website for a complete set list.

I was also very impressed with Andrew Bird, who opened the show. He played solo, and used a sampling pedal for violin overdubs and minimal percussion while he sang and played violin, guitar, and even a glockenspiel. Click here to hear the entire Mysterious Production of Eggs album in high quality streaming audio.

Guster brings an incredible energy to the stage, and the songs are fresh and updated - not just a replay as you hear them on the records. It’s evident that they love what they do, and for that, the audience loves them back. If Guster passes through your neighborhood, or even within 340 miles, do yourself a favor and buy a ticket.

I’m out-

P.S. A special thank you to the jackass who played “Dogs” by Pink Floyd, all 17 miserable minutes of it, on the jukebox at Soupies Bar. Ah, Soupies - that place is a story all by itself. I don’t want to bag on anyone, but damn.

Wednesday, April 5, 2006

A Book of Bad Karma?

I love used bookstores. There is one downtown called Way Station Books that I frequent, well, frequently, because it is close to the building where I work. I always find a book or three when I go there, and I’m stacking them up faster than I can read them.

On a recent visit, I picked up a very nice hardcover Barnes & Noble Classics edition of The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky for the staggering price of $5.00. You know, some light reading. I lugged it back to my office and flipped through a few pages to check it out. As I was turning them, a small, yellow piece of paper fell out and spun it’s way to the floor. I figured it was an old book mark - used books have a way of harboring them. When I picked it up to place it back between the pages, I noticed some handwriting on one side. Turns out this was no book mark! It was the beginning of the story within the story.

The paper was a bank receipt - a cash deposit for $411.74 at Flagstar Bank, dated September 7, 2000, for a customer named Fischer. The fascinating part was the inscription scrawled on the back:

“Make a pass at you? I? How could you ever suspect such a thing when all I ever wanted was for you never to want me that way? Because you never wanted me you were the only man I could trust. I felt safe in your arms and you destroyed that for your ego’s fantasy.”

Pain, hate, and disappointment - the trifecta - in four sentences. At first, I thought it was coincidence, mere irony, that such a note would be placed inside of a text of such vivid misery. However, as I flipped more and more through the book, I began to notice several marked passages among the pages. As I read the noted phrases, I started to see that not only had I stumbled upon a hate note, but that the author of said note was quoting Dostoevsky to illustrate her point! Damn - this guy was getting an emotional beatdown backed by 200 years of classic literary genius.

Read the hate note again. Now, I submit the following passages where the recipient is shown the gravity of his actions.

1. “Why, the isolation that prevails everywhere, above all in our age - it has not fully developed, it has not reached its limit yet. For everyone strives to keep his individuality as apart as possible, wishes to secure the greatest possible fullness of life for himself; but meantime all his efforts result not in attaining fullness of life but self-destruction, for instead of self-realization he ends by arriving at complete solitude.”

2. “Without a stable conception of the object of life, man would not consent to go on living, and would rather destroy himself than remain on earth, though he had bread in abundance.”

3. “He doesn’t despise anyone . . . only he does not believe anyone. If he doesn’t believe in people, of course, he does despise them.”

4. “For when I do leap into the pit, I go headlong with my heals up, and am pleased to be falling in that degrading attitude, and pride myself upon it.”

5. “All this had little to do with the case in hand, to say nothing of the fact of its being somewhat vague, but the sickly and consumptive man was overcome by the desire to express himself once in his life.”

6. “And one might wonder what there was in a love that had to be so watched over, what a love could be worth that needed such strenuous guarding.”

7. “I am sorry I can say nothing more consoling to you, for love in action is a harsh and dreadful thing compared with love in dreams.”

8. “He was an example of everything that is opposed to civic duty, of the most complete and malignant individualism.”

9. “For how can a man shake off his habits, what can become of him if he is in such bondage to the habit of satisfying the innumerable desires he has created for himself? He is isolated, and what concern has he with the rest of humanity? They have succeeded in accumulating a greater mass of objects, but the joy in the world has grown less.”

10. “The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to such a pass that he cannot distinguish the truth from within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love, and in order to occupy and distract himself without love he gives way to passions and coarse pleasures, and sinks to bestiality in his vices, all from continual lying to other men and to himself.”

You know you’re a BASTARD when you have to leaf through 800 pages of classic world literature to get the full comprehension of how much you pissed her off. But my hat is off to her, because she could have gone juvenile and went with the more traditional tire slashing/brick through the windshield, or telling everyone he knows that he has a small penis - all simple and effective. But she didn’t. She dug deep and landed a crushing blow to his pysche with this brilliant compilation, the equivalent to a career-ending first round TKO. What’s he going to come back with? I guarantee that the best he could muster after reading it was to play it off with a nonchalant “Whatever, bitch!” as he walked away.
But it stung. It stung bad.
I’m out-
This unassuming book took someone down a notch.
The hate note. Feel the misery!
Some of phrases used to describe the utter thoughtlessness of our hero.