Saturday, October 22, 2016

Rolling Stones, October 22, 2016 at T-Mobile Arena (Las Vegas)

In all my years and all the concerts I've been to, I've never seen the Rolling Stones. For a lot of my life my interest would be out of an obligation to seeing living legends while they were still around, to not regret missing them later on, but for all that it was a very expensive proposition for not having a better reason. But then I had a Stones phase, and they were still alive and doing shows, though sparsely, but I only needed one. I could have put it off again, especially with the assumption that later I would be able to better afford it, but it could happen suddenly a missed chance could be a point that couldn't be returned from. Desert Trip was out of the question -- I can't imagine any band we could have considered doing it for (since we'd already seen McCartney and Dylan), for all the things we didn't do Coachella anymore for and amplified, especially the price -- but the Stones were doing a few shows around it, though obviously none around L.A., but Vegas could easily be an option, if not an ideal one for anywhere outside our home range (especially since I could stay with my mom while there). Getting tickets started with me staying up all night after working until dawn on the first day of a gig and coming up with nothing for my efforts. Another attempt for the next date came up with a pair that weren’t great, though the most affordable (and still plenty expensive), but it would be more about being at the show than being close enough for the best show. Carla balked at the price, but she had seen them before, so she passed, which didn’t seem like a big deal when I figured I could sell what I had (and maybe even make a profit). In the meantime I bought another ticket just for myself, planning to go solo, and it turned out to be a little closer to the stage, or at least not as far to the side as the pair were. I posted the originals but they didn’t move, then I lowered the price  within a week of the show, and still nothing, then finally the day before I got them down to face-value, which I would have been happy with, just to get my money back, but even then they still didn’t move. Even after they canceled their other Vegas show, my tickets wouldn’t go. Finally, about an hour before the show, while at dinner with my mom (after driving up solo the day of), I got a notice that the last one sold, for about half of face, but I decided to count myself lucky for that. In all, I lost close to a week’s pay, not counting the price for the other ticket, but maybe that’s the price of seeing the biggest rock n’ roll band in the world (and the luck that they're still alive and doing it), and it would only be once. On top of the ticket misfortune, I had the wrong time in my head and only got lucky when my mom dropped me off at T-Mobile arena (a cleaner copy of the Forum) just in time. I just barely got a tub of popcorn (making this one of the best shows ever) and missed only half the opening montage -- videos going through their history showing how great they are  -- when, fairly (and a little un-rock-n'-roll-y) punctually, the Stones took the stage. It wouldn’t be hard to consider that this was a cut-out show like most in most of our lifetimes. They’ve done this long enough, and they’re rich enough to pay people to figure it out, to come up with the formula for the fans to feel they got value from the ticket (though assuming those fans are of fortunate means), including not bothering with a marathon show to pack in more than a just-enough amount of songs. Getting deeper into my Stones phase, I may or may not be a particular fan of their singles, putting their more obscure stuff on equal footing, making them for me more of an album band, which becomes a problem when they’re making a point of sticking to a prescribed set of hits. It’s not a crime for a band to trot out the same set, since you’re probably there more for the band than the songs, but they packed it with enough hits that the most average fan couldn't complain (leaving the obsessives for whom this is a much more serious deal, and even though the band throw in a swerve or two, sometimes even a deeper album cut (though, for this show, not “Shattered” (which my brother told me sucks live, and wouldn’t make much sense outside of NYC) or “Monkeyman”, which might be a little too deep)). But regardless of what they played, I was there and I can say I was there and I saw them, and it wasn’t a bad show. They know how to work, even at that age, and they know how to work it, even if at this point they're only doing it to dare the others to be the first one to drop and finally end the band. Still an extravagant expense, even without with the problems I had, but once in a lifetime it was like being charged for a necessary life experience. And for the record, there were other chances to see them after this, especially for the Sticky Fingers tour that stopped in San Diego, which would have been been some choice, deeper cuts (though I would have preferred the Exile or Some Girls tour), but I can’t fault what I got. It worked out, I got what I wanted and needed, and it even made for a minor story (to get something from losing that much money).

Rolling Stones’ set-list:
“Jumpin' Jack Flash“
“Let's Spend the Night Together“
“It's Only Rock n' Roll (But I Like It)”
“Tumbling Dice
“Ride 'Em on Down“ (Eddie Taylor cover)
“Paint It Black“
“Honky Tonk Women“ (followed by band introductions)
“Slipping Away“ (Keith on lead vocals)
“Little T&A“ (Keith on lead vocals)
“Midnight Rambler“
“Miss You“
“Gimme Shelter
“Start Me Up“
“Sympathy for the Devil“
“Brown Sugar“

“You Can't Always Get What You Want“
“(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction“

Friday, October 21, 2016

Garbage/Cigarettes After Sex, October 21, 2016 at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery

I’d gambled on missing Garbage at the Jack FM show, betting that they’d be back later in the tour, and it paid off when they played at the cemetery, a much better choice, for the venue, for getting a full set, and for getting to not have to see House of Pain. This was on the tour for Strange Little Birds, a fair effort well after we expected the heights of their earliest stuff, and the comfort of playing a home-town show once they moved here (to whatever degree that was, but their mailing address was on Edgemont, also not far from there). We had been to the cemetery frequently in the summer for movies, and we had been to the lodge room for a smaller show, but not a full concert on the main lawn. We knew to take a picnic, not expecting to move too far up to get into the claustrophobia of bodies jockeying to get close to the stage (if they have fans still young enough to want to get so close and sweaty). It turned out the stage was expansive enough to afford a view from the comfort of the back, as close as we needed to get, and the music sounded fine. On a cool early-autumn evening shortly after the sun went down, it was a singular environment, with much of the moody material from their newest album making for a lush atmosphere. There was still plenty of rock and pop in there, too, the mixing of which is only one of the great things they’ve always done. Shirley was in fine form, being in vamp mode, maybe with the focus of a bad mood, on display when she got into an altercation with someone in the front of the crowd, an incident we only found out about afterward (like finding that it wasn’t Butch on the drums). Another club show would have been redundant, and frustrating for them and us since they deserved to play somewhere bigger on their own, that seeing them in this unique venue that doesn’t regularly have concerts in the first place made it seem like a special thing. Even if the set was unexciting with familiarity and the new stuff still needed more time to sink in, their experience as veterans paid off in a slick show, even if it became just another show for them.

 Not knowing the set-times we showed up early enough to see the openers, Cigarettes After Sex. They were locals who started getting around shortly after this, but at the time just sounded like Slowdive, which was actually fine, for easing into the evening.

Garbage’s set-list:
“I Think I'm Paranoid“
“Stupid Girl“
“Automatic Systematic Habit“
“Blood for Poppies“
“The Trick Is to Keep Breathing“
“Sex Is Not the Enemy“
“Shut Your Mouth“
“Even Though Our Love Is Doomed“
“Why Do You Love Me“
“Night Drive Loneliness“
“Bleed Like Me“
“Cherry Lips (Go Baby Go!)“
“Vow“ (with "Don't Hurt Yourself" snippet)
“Only Happy When It Rains“
“Push It“

“#1 Crush“