Wednesday, June 13, 2007

RUSH in Atlanta: June 13, 2007 Hi Fi Buys Arena

June 13, 2007. Atlanta, GA. GBHD.
Rush first live show for Snakes & Arrows Tour

he show -- the tour opener -- was excellent, comprising of three hours of music - about 28 songs supported by Kiss style explosions, green lasers, fog, Close Encounters stage lights, five video screens (three on center, two flanking at an angle).

Rush played many hits and several deep cuts into their older albums, going back only as far as the albums 2112 ("Passage to Bangkok") and Hemispheres (“Circumstances”). What most struck me about the concert - and this was my first “stadium show” in 15 years - was the extent to which it was a family affair. In many cases, I was unsure whether the father was bringing the kids, or the kids bringing the father, or both. Likewise, Was that granny singing along to Limelight? A fifty year old dude with a TOOL shirt on reporting to me about Rush in the ‘70s? Alternatively, I found it inspiring to see 13 year olds totally getting their prog on to tunes from 1979 (“Natural Science” from the album Permanent Waves).

It’s a strange but familiar world - a Rush concert is.

It’s common to hear that Rush in concert sounds so much like Rush as recorded. The same was true this time, for the most part. Two exceptions come to mind. The second song, “Digital Man” (Signals) seems to have been truncated or compressed slightly with Geddy singing a lyrical line over what should have been an instrumental part; not sure if this was a mistake or a strategy. There was also one moment of equipment malfunction during the beginning of “Between the Wheels” (Grace Under Pressure), when Alex Lifeson’s guitar disconnected from the amp somehow (via his belt plug). I could see him (through binoculars!) yelling at the stage hand off to the left, “WTF?,” shrugging his shoulders. The problem was instantly solved when the stage hand began fiddling with the connection. My guess was that the band would just repeat the same measure again and let Alex fix his shit and then play his opening solo bits, but they just kept on goin’. Alex switched guitars afterwards, and he seemed a little annoyed during that song, but his annoyance translated effectively into the rage of the guitar bits on that amazing song.

I always thought that the song, "Secret Touch" (on Vapor Trails), communicates lyrically something of Neil's tragedies in the mid 90s and his recovery therefrom, losing his wife and daughter in the space of a year: "There is never love without pain", "Out of sync / With love in the land of the living", "A healing hand, a secret touch on the heart / There is never love without pain / Life is a power that remains." Indeed, that album marked the return of the band from this period of grief and uncertainty about the band's future. Frankly, I found it very moving to hear that song last night. I confess to focusing on Neil's facial expressions in some personal effort to find intimacy or a connection amidst so much distance. It's what a fan does.

On a lighter note, zukinemi (my "Rush wife") reports that, “Geddy Lee is looking hot these days.” Never would one have imagined such a statement to be formulated at any point during Rush’s history. But one must now agree: ever since Presto - really - Geddy has figured out his look. Alex seemed to be more in shape these days, feeling at ease now to wear t-shirts. Neil had his same look, donning that Errol Flynn "China man" hat -- for lack of a better descriptor -- whose fire retardant capability was tested during "Far Cry" (Snakes & Arrows); go here for a live clip of the ATL show and watch the conflagration at 2:53. Call me old fashioned but didn't the ill-fated Great White show put the kibosh on pyrotechnics like that?

Perhaps this is a relevant or irrelevant generational distinction, but folks from 5 to 10 years senior (i.e., 40 somethings today) have always been in the habit of tailgating and listening to Rush before the actual show, jamming usually to “old Rush” as a way of getting the party started. I prefer going into the show with virgin ears.

Speaking of which: the band seems to have won the “new Rush” vs. “old Rush” debate (“which is better”?). I remember Rush concerts from the mid '80s, a time when the audience was extremely lukewarm about the “new Rush” of synthesizers and electronic drums, ushered in by the albums Signals and Grace Under Pressure and reaching its apex on Hold Your Fire before the band returned to the "three piece" sound of Presto (though, remember, synths were central to Moving Pictures [think “Camera Eye”], and go as far back as "Tears" on 2112). I remember the Power Windows tour, for instance; the band would play the ol’ favorites from 2112, and then would move to something from Signals (“Subdivisions,” say), and everyone would sit down and staidly listen. Not anymore. Last night, Subdivisions, which came about four songs in after the intermission, was greeted with uproarious excitement; when they completed the song, the whole arena shook, and after that Geddy Lee said something like, “Hey, I grew up in the suburbs, too.” The point is that “new Rush” is now “old Rush.”

Rush has trained its audience in how to listen, as every great band should.


Tonight, is the RUSH concert in ATL!

In my effort to GET INTO IT, which involved finding out how the fuck to drive to Hi Fi Buys Amphitheater, I discovered that tonight’s show kicks off the entire tour. So that’s cool.

I haven’t seen Rush since the Roll the Bones tour in the early 90s.

I'm into it.

I will report on the show if I feel like it.

Below: Dude on the right is Buddy Rich, one of Neil Peart's idols. Dude on the left, Ed Shaughnessy, at whom one can shake no stick either. Fucking hell:

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Hardcore Dancing (AKA "Teen Line Dancing")

1. Teenagers are gay; their subculture is mainstream culture, which sucks, from the Hot Topic "alternative apparel" to nĂ¼ metal's latest steaming piles of shit.

2. Teenagers should be hated; their parents equally suck for spoiling these fucking monkeys and not smacking them as they should.

3. Teenagers are stupid ("hardcore begins with Slipknot"; see Exhibit A).


Exhibit A:

this. You'll love it!

Exhibit B:

Monday, June 04, 2007

Spencer Tunick

I hate this crap:

Not only are there no clearly discernible “nice asses” amidst this unwashed mass but the whole thing is a waste of nudity. You can’t see anything. So maybe the idea is “nudity with no interest.” Great! The problem there is that we already live in a culture of censorship that forces erotic disinterest upon consumers to the extent that there is massive over-compensation when a tit finally appears in public, as in the case of a famous wardrobe malfunction that caused an uproar of idiocy in what is clearly a Freudian substitution of anger for hyper repressed erotic desire (see Beyond the Pleasure Principle). It is true and, of course, ironic that the culture of censorship permits titillation - brief or digitized glimpses of the flesh, a floppy nutsack here or black triangle there - but of course the proper and most successful censoring mechanism would in fact be to “show it all” to the point of tedium, such that nudity incites no arousal whatsoever. So show us the dicks and pussies! Let’s get used to these things and be done with it and the need to produce “art” purporting to make philosophical points about nudity and the human condition.

Wait, this one’s not so bad: