Saturday, October 31, 2009

Our Lady Peace @ The Pageant (10/30/2009)

During the show Raine (OLP's lead singer) claimed that the last time the band was in St. Louis they were going through a rough patch, the show that night sucked, and the show tonight would be much better. I was also at that show four years ago, and apparently I disagree with Raine.

I don't remember exactly why I rated their show back then so highly (4.5). Contributing factors might be: (a) Augustana opened for them that night, and I went backstage to visit with Josiah, and I caught some of the OLP performance from the side of the stage (b) I tend to overrate bands the first time I see them, and then decrease the rating on subsequent viewings. In any case, the show tonight is not getting nearly as high a rating.

When Christy and I showed up around 8:20 (20 minutes after the concert started), we found out that there would be two bands playing before OLP took the stage at 10. Instead of sticking around we headed across the street to grab dinner, where she had her first taste of Thai food (which is surprising for a young, hip, CWE resident). We returned to The Pageant a few minutes before OLP started.

The performance itself was disappointing, especially Raine's vocals. Part of it seemed to have to do with the sound setup, which did not seem to be mixed quite right. More to the point, though, might have been the way that he was "oversinging", as Christy put it. His unique way of singing is part of the band's schtick, but he seemed to be overdoing it with the level changes. We were both distracted during much of the show by the way he tilted his head back as he oversang every few words. It doesn't bode well that this was not the only thing that we were distracted by. We shared a few chuckles watching the dance movements of some of the members of the crowd who were enthralled by the band.

Other criticisms include Raine trying too hard to get the crowd to sing along - I'm not a big fan of the forced singalong...or the forced clap-along...or the forced stand-up. He also ruined one of my favorites of theirs, "One Man Army", by singing it wrong (in my opinion, at least). And they played the first half of "Is Anybody Home?" acoustically, which did not please me.

They played a few songs of their newest album, which I have but had only partially listened to. Unfortunately, the new songs that I didn't know did not inspire me to go listen to the rest of it.

Other noteworthy events included when they threw in a cover of MGMT's "Kids" during the "Naveed" interlude (Christy hated this, but I was fine with it). They also had one of their friends, a fellow musician, fill in for Raine for one song ("Automatic Flowers") during the encore - he did a decent job.

Perhaps I'm being too harsh on the band. After all, I do like a good number of their songs, and I think Happiness...Is Not A Fish That You Can Catch is a great album. So a disappointing show for Our Lady Peace means that they barely fail to make 80%.


Saturday, October 24, 2009

Mute Math @ The Pageant (10/23/2009)

Remember the season premiere of The Office where Michael, Dwight, and Andy try to make a Parkour video, and Andy ends up getting hurt? Well, that could be me for the next week or so. Except instead of yelling "Parkour!" like an idiot, I'll be yelling "MUTEMATH!!1!". More on that later.

The show started off on a good note, as the first song by unknown (to me at least) As Tall As Lions appeared to portend a new surprise find. Sadly, though, this turned out to be their best song of the evening. The rest of their multi-instrumental performance wasn't bad, but it didn't inspire me to check out more of their music. A few of their songs had pretty interesting riffs and melodies, but the singer often appeared to be singing to a different song, as his key didn't quite match the music. Perhaps he did match, but I just wished that he had gone in a different direction.

The main performers made up adequately for the misfiring openers. They played a good mix of songs from both the first and the new albums, with their biggest hit, "Typical", showing up somewhere in the middle. It was during this song that we saw the first glimpse of the crazy acrobatics that these guys had up their sleeve, as Paul (the lead singer) started off the song by jumping off the top of his main keyboard stand. Some high moments included "Odds" (my favorite song off the weaker new album) and their first jam session, which was one of the best that I've seen live. It consisted mainly of a danceably furious pounding beat and some synchronized light work. It's too bad that their other jam sessions were more like the typical (pun intended) fare that most bands provide. They also had a few nice props, including a moment when Darren (the drummer) beat the first half of one of their songs on 4 virtual drums set up by the big screen.

By the end of the show, the guys realized that they had to prove that they are totally nuts. First, Paul did some hand/shoulder stands on his keyboard stand during one of the songs. And then on the very last song of the encore, which was announce as "Reset" but ended up segueing into "Break the Same", all hell broke loose. By the end of the song all of the following had happened:

(a) Paul hopped his keyboard stand
(b) Greg (the guitarist) walked on Paul's keyboard stand
(c) Darren took the bass drum to the crowd, had them hold it up, and then climbed onto it and stood up on it. After a few gestures indicating that we could not deny his supreme awesomeness, he hopped off it and back onto the stage.

So it's only natural that after the show I took every opportunity I encountered to hop off a railing, curb, chair, or some other furnishing in a manner that allowed me to practice my own brand of freestyle walking. And each time that I did it, I yelled out
"MUTEMATH!!1!" in the spirit of "Parkour!". We'll see how long this fad lasts.

Oh, and I forgot to mention that Darren duct tapes headphones onto his head during the show. Crazy, I say!


Monday, October 12, 2009

Online dating statistics show that we're a bunch of racists.

OK, so maybe that characterization was overly harsh. But perhaps not by as much as you might think.

In the process of checking on some recent activity on my OkCupid (a free on-line dating and networking website)
profile, I stumbled across the site blog, which has a few posts that provide interesting insight into patterns in online dating.

For example, one article shows how their users of different races and religion match other potential partners. The statistics suggest that religion plays a significant role in the matching potential, but race does not.

Another post, however, reveals that message response rates don't correspond to match potential when segregated by race. A couple of interesting points of note: black women are the most responsive yet are the least responded to, while white men are the least responsive even though they are the most responded to.

I think it's fantastic that OkCupid publishes studies like this. I echo the blog author's sentiments in wishing that the major online dating sites would do the same.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Chinese people know how to throw an effing parade.

I've never really liked parades. But maybe that's because I've only seen the weak sauce that they use here in the States. In comparison, China's 60th anniversary parade puts anything that we do here to shame. Check out pictures here:
Reminds me of the awesomeness that was the opening ceremony at the Beijing Olympics.

But then again, would I rather be Chinese and have awesome parades, or be American and have weak ones? Hmmm...I guess I'm good after all.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Michelangelo's David might not be the coolest statue any more...

Those crazy Japanese people have built a 60 foot Gundam statue in Tokyo. And it moves. I wish that (a) this had been started when I was in Tokyo last year (b) I had known about it at the time. You can probably find better pictures and videos elsewhere on the web, but here are a couple of links:

Unfortunately, the statue has recently been disassembled.