Cage The Elephant, Live at the McDonald Theatre, June 7, 2011
First, the story behind the story (a treatise on Murphy’s Law and how everything that could possibly go wrong, did…):
I went to buy a pack of smokes from the little grocer across from the LTD bus station downtown (a couple blocks from where I work)… I walk past what I recognize as the tour bus (with trailer) at the curb… as I’m walking past, someone pops out (I think it was CTE’s drummer)… I would ordinarily stop and engage in a brief impromptu meet-n-greet – but I don’t, because Brad (guitarist) had said we would have access passes and get to chat with the guys and take some pictures (see transcript of live interview June 3, 2011) – instead, I nod and smile, thinking, “I’ll see you guys in a few hours….” First mistake – ALWAYS trust your instincts (you’ll see this theme repeats ad nauseum throughout this story). An hour later, an email from the publicist tells me the meet-n-greet is off, and all we’ll get is a photo pass (for TCC photographer Jeanice Marvel) for the first three songs on CTE’s set. I’m annoyed/irritated and all that. But ok, I got a phone interview and we have tix to the show. We pick up the pass at 6pm at will call. Right.
I jump in the car, grab grandson (Jeanice’s son – yeah, she’s my daughter – don’t hold it against me) from daycare, dash to my West Eugene home to throw him at my 14 yr old daughter who will babysit so we can attend the show. Dash back to pick up photographer Jeanice from her work in Westmoreland, then head downtown for the concert. In the car, I ask Jeanice, “So, you have your camera?” “Yep.” “Batteries?” I ask. “Yes!” she states. “SIM card?” I ask. “No…” she answers. “WHAT?!!” I yell. “I don’t have it, you have it” she retorts. “No, I don’t – I put it in your bag two days ago!” I yell. “I didn’t look in the bag…” she answers. We’re downtown at that point… so BACK we go to her house to get the SIM card. I had sent her an email earlier that day asking if she had her camera – what I was THINKING was “SIM card” – but of course, I thought she would know when I said “camera” what I meant was “camera and everything necessary to operate the same.” Right.
Dash back downtown. Everything’s ok, we’re supposed to be at the will call box office window at 6pm and it’s 6pm as we pull into the Overpark at 10th and Willamette. I grab the gate ticket (gotta love the new gates that run 24/7) and toss it, remembering just the last week when I was at the Floater show and the gates were up by the time we were outta there. But it’s in the car, the ticket is in the car. Easy-peasy – right?
We run to will call for the photo pass. I remember seeing Jeanice has her work ID and keys bouncing on her belt as we’re running (ok, speedwalking) to the window. Tell the window gal who we are and what we’re here for. She can’t find us on any list. WTF?!?! Fortunately, I had actually followed THIS intuition and printed the email chain from publicist saying for us to pick up the photo pass at said window at said 6:00 p.m. Present said hard copy to window… we are instructed to wait. Several folks come to the window to pick up and/or purchase tickets. Line to get in has now reached the corner. I’m PISSED – I am ALWAYS the first person in line. Control Freak = Laurel – no apologies here. That’s where we get all the action – band members coming in and out, photo ops, etc. But no – we are stuck at the wall next to the door at will call. Owner of New Odyssey comes to will call window with someone’s keys he found. I remember watching this… and wondering. ::sigh:: You’ll hear more about this later. 10 minutes later, guy comes out of door, asks us for the name of the band we are covering. Well, he didn’t say that exactly, but after several exchanges, we figure out that is what he asking. ::rolls eyes:: More waiting. More people coming to get tickets. Line is getting longer. I am pissed and annoyed and irritated, and GLAD I bought that pack of smokes. I’m blowing clouds at strangers on purpose at this point (especially when one of the McDonald event staff presents two girls to the window to get access wrist bands – because they were CUTE?!!! – while we are cooling our heels and contributing to global warming waiting for the damned photo pass – still. We finally get it, and get in line which is now halfway to the will call window) – still, no worries. Right?
From that point, things got marginally better – they opened the doors, realized after about 5 minutes that the line was moving WAY too slowly so they started just shoving us through with a cursory once-over (“empty your pockets” “well, this will take awhile…” I start pulling out CDs, one for Brad of Floater, one CTE that the band was supposed to sign… Security says, “OK – go”… ::laughs::) and we are in – finally. Head straight for the balcony (I don’t do floor – period) and grab the first row, center seats. FINALLY – something that went right! Right…
Halfway through the opening band’s set, Jeanice grabs me and asks, “Do you have my work keys?” I’m like, “wha?!” I remember seeing them on her at one point… but what point? She is tearing her bag apart, coat pockets, under her seat. I’m thinking, “were they even with you when we were waiting for 30 minutes at will call? I remember seeing them… but where?!” She is panicked, there is ID on that ring with the keys… and I’m thinking (yes, AGAIN), that I should have said something about her taking them off when I picked her up from her work. (did you hear the sigh?) We don’t find the keys. I’m thinking they must be in the car… and we will find them (that I do KNOW). The rest of the show is absolutely SHADOWED by this. I did mention I was already pissed, right? Right.
(skip show which is reviewed below in detail)
We make our way out of the theatre when everything is sung and done and get in the car – do the cursory search and don’t find her work keys. Nothing to do at this point, she thinks maybe they are in the theatre somewhere and she will call them when we get back to her house. Okay, off we go… to the exit of the Overpark. (yes, the exit – that requires a ticket to get the gate to open, right?) You already know what happens next, don’t you? Yeah, so did I. The gate is down and I canNOT find the freaking ticket… anywhere! It is not where Jeanice is sitting, not in the backseat, not in the console…. WTF?!!! I forgot to give the fae their donation for my CAR?!! I shove unresponsive buttons on the machine while folks behind me are yelling about holding up the line. Finally, attendant comes along, gets someone on the speaker phone, I tell him what is going on, they open the gate. Yea! We are OUTTA there.
Get to my house, get sleeping grandson, get back in the car… and find the ticket on MY seat. Not a lie. Take folks home, drive back to my house. It is 12:30 am and I have to be at the lawfirm office (where I do my day gig) by 7:30am this morning.
BUT!!!! There is a silver lining, or pot of gold, or whatever you want to call it, to this story. The concert was AWESOME – there is nothing like seeing bands playing live (in tiny venues or huge amphitheaters), and all three bands put on a helluva show. AND – we got the most amazing pictures!! And since one picture is worth a thousand words, the concert review will be a very brief recap (especially for CTE) – I will (eventually) shut up and let the pictures speak for themselves!
(note on the quality of the photos – Jeanice is currently shooting with a Sony Cybershot on a 3 second delay, so if folks on stage move you see the delayed result – if anyone has a DECENT camera they wanna turn us onto, appropriately priced, let me know please! But with all that said, these pictures are amazing…)
Opening Band – Sleeper Agent (surprising!)
Let it never be said that there are no decent female-lead vocalist rock bands. These guys just amazed me – there was a nice variety to their songs, but every one of them had a hard rocking foundation. Alex “Kidd” Kandel does lead vocals (think Flyleaf) with a serious hard core punch. Setting her up are Tony “Tutone” Smith – (guitar and vocals), Josh “Junior” Martin (lead guitar), Lee “Grizzlee” Williams (bass guitar), Scott “Saga” Gardner (keys and samples), and Justin “Keyser” Wilson (drums). I so love that keyboards are coming back – it is, after all, my first (and primary) personal instrument! These guys met and bonded with CTE in their stomping grounds of Bowling Green, Kentucky – which makes it three bands I’ve heard over the past week from that town. It always makes me crazy that the audience just stands there like statues through most of the opening bands’ sets – their music was amazing! Never mind the fact that, on the second to last song of their (entirely too short) set, they nearly blew out the house PA subs when Tony’s (over-hot) mic started feeding back on (what I suspect was the way over-amped) bass, resulting in a noise reminiscent of a jet engine taking off – NEXT TO YOU – and they just rocked on, finishing the set with virtually no bass running at all – AWESOME, you guys were great!! Watch for these guys – I’m sure we’ll see more of them.
Sleeper Agent, McDonald Theatre (Eugene, OR) June 7, 2011
Manchester Orchestra – Soporific…
Line up: Andy Hull (rhythm guitarist/vocals), Robert McDowell ( lead guitarist ), Chris Freeman (keyboards/synth/drums), Jonathan Corley (bass), and Tim Very (drums). I really wish I could be as enamored of this band as the rest of the media… but I can’t. This is your basic hard rock band, mixing intros that are softly appealing with LOUD thrash (read moshing), going back to quiet, nearly solo, vocals. Power chords do not make a band… but the crowd loved them! What makes these guys stand out is the fact that three of the guys do vocals, and of course Chris on keyboards/synth/percussion – who has a small drum kit (sans kick). I just can’t find anything to say about this band – maybe it’s Andy’s semi-falsetto vocals (reminiscent of Silversun Pickups). They’re a good band – just not that good. I do really like “Friends In All The Right Places” (which I remembered from the 2009 open for Silversun) – love that song! I was seriously watching Chris doing headbanging while playing air drums, although that’s sometimes… weird. He reminds me of a mad scientist – all you need is audio running with him cackling madly. All in all, a decent band with good storytelling – but I felt like I was either being put to sleep during the slow/quiet parts of songs alternating with feeling like I was being pinned to the wall on the thrash parts. ::shrugs::
Manchester Orchestra, McDonald Theatre (Eugene, OR) June 7, 2011
Cage The Elephant – Spectacular!
That’s the only word to describe these guys – they put on an AMAZING live show!! If you have never seen them, you absolutely have to. It is something you will tell your kids – trust me!
I’m not even going to attempt to review their actual performance – these guys are professionals, every single one of them was outstanding and gave us everything they had – so you get just the impressions view here. The floor (and most of the balcony) was packed to the walls by the time they hit the stage. Seeing and hearing hundreds of fans screaming, singing, hands in the air clapping, pounding… it was… perfect. No other way to say it. I do wish I could see them in a better venue tho – the McDonald (while an amazing venue) SUCKS for sound quality – Matt’s vocals were nearly drowned out by the guitars… which is a shame, he has such an amazing voice, and the lyrics of the songs themselves can easily stand alone. What I especially love about these guys (besides their raw energy) is that every song sounds different. No falling asleep here, and the sound levels were significantly lower than what they were running with Manchester – I use ear plugs (real ones – not ‘foamies’) as everyone who attends live events should be doing or they really will be deaf by the time they are 45 years old. Anyways, Cage takes a four-piece instrumental group (bass, lead and rhythm guitars, drums) and makes it sound extraordinary. Brad’s rhythm guitar doesn’t ever hide (Jeanice noticed you, btw), Lincoln’s lead riffs absolutely rip, and Daniel’s bass runs undercurrent with Jared on drums to keep Matt from coming completely undone! What left me absolutely gasping was Matt bodysurfing the pit (with the security trying desperately to reel him – sometimes unsuccessfully – back). See that photo at the head of the column? That’s Matt standing on the shoulders of someone in the pit (yes!) – I’m not sure who was more surprised: the crowd? security? or Matt…. it was amazing, awesome, all those “a” words, with a few thrown in for the helluvit!
Cage The Elephant – McDonald Theatre (Eugene, OR) June 7, 2011