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What I did last summer (Martin Gore – twice! and Fat Bob)

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Last summer, everyone who was involved in writing this blog post met up in Chicago to see (worship at) a Depeche Mode show. The three of us (me, H and K) have all been internet pals for a long time but we’d never all been in the same city at the same time, and we are all huge Depeche fans. We had lots of adventures in Chicago, but the main event was seeing Depeche Mode, and Martin Gore, our favorite.

I’m an extremely anxious person and so I wanted to leave really early on the day of the show. The venue wasn’t that far away, but I get nervous. I was literally shitting bricks so finally H agreed to head towards the show. It turned out there was horrendous traffic getting into the venue, so we barely made it in time. All three of us had panic attacks in the car by that time.

I have to say that the venue we went to was one of the most poorly planned venues I have ever seen in my life. We ended up parking in VIP and not paying for it (shhhhh it’s our secret),and running to our seats just before Depeche Mode hit the stage.

Finally, we were in our seats and ready to go. All of us had our anxiety amped up to maximum levels and so it was inevitable that we all had emotional breakdowns during the concert. Martin Gore, sensitive and elfin as ever, stepped into the spotlight in his silver suit to croon Shake the Disease, and our collective knees buckled. We all held each other up while we sobbed our hearts out. I am not kidding. We were crying like babies. When people say, “I cried like a baby,” they may not mean it, but I totally mean it.

For the rest of the night, we each took turns bawling our eyes out over Depeche Mode, especially when Martin was singing. They had two set lists on that tour, and I was praying he’d sing But Not Tonight, but it wasn’t meant to be. Still, the show was incredible and we all agreed it was better than we had hoped for. There was a magic in the air that could never be recaptured. Thanks, anxiety!

Tickets for Austin City Limits (ACL) were going on sale a few weeks later. Depeche Mode and The Cure were both playing, so I knew I had to go, no matter what, and my friend H was coming with me. Martin Gore and Fat Bob (Robert Smith) are two icons from my holy trinity of goth (Morrissey is the third, if you were curious), so It was going to be insanely great.

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ACL had it set up so that Depeche Mode played on Friday night, and The Cure played on Saturday night. This was basically a dream come true for me. I could not believe I was going to see two of my favorite bands in one weekend, with one of my best friends!

My friend didn’t want to spend all day at ACL, and I agreed, because it was hot as balls and also because there are so many other fun things to do in Austin. We went to Book People, and gasped loudly when we spotted an entire magazine dedicated to Depeche Mode. Yes, I bought it and we squealed over it like teenagers. Whatever, don’t judge me!

We went to ACL that evening, and  I parked at my office, which was two miles away, and those two miles seem pretty far in the hot weather. We were already wilting.

We hardly got to see any bands besides the headliners, because we had to get a decent spot in the crowd. We went on the second weekend of the festival. The first weekend had temperatures in the 70’s, absolutely perfect weather. The second weekend predicted rainstorms, so we had rain ponchos.

Depeche Mode’s show is so fun when you’re in a big, excited, festival crowd. I love hearing everyone singing along to every song. I didn’t cry as much this time, probably because I wasn’t as anxious as I had been in Chicago, but when Martin sang But Not Tonight, I lost it. I think it was raining by then too, so when he sang, “Oh God, it’s raining, but I’m not complaining,” every cell in my body exploded with joy. I tried to sing along but I couldn’t, because I was crying too much. I wasn’t sobbing, just quietly letting tears run down my face while I mouthed the words. When the song ended, I was kind of embarrassed, until a man standing nearby gently patted me on the shoulder and told me that was a beautiful moment. I choked up just writing about that moment.

H and I had a great time laughing at Dave’s crazy dancing. He grabbed his dick a lot, as usual. I remember shouting, “Look at that chicken leg!” during one particularly lecherous grope. Dave, never change.

When the concert was over, we walked the two miles to the car in the rain. We had our ponchos on, but honestly, they don’t help much. You still get wet and then also feel clammy. By the time we got to the car, we were exhausted and hungry. We stopped at Kerbey Lane for some late night grub and I felt (and looked) like I had been run over by a truck. That was only day one!

The next day, we woke up and still felt terrible so we planned to go even later than we did the day before. We ended up seeing the Arctic Monkeys, but had to leave early to get a good place to see the Cure.

We were really excited to worship at the altar of Fat Bob (affectionately nicknamed by Siouxsie, so we aren’t body shaming, okay?). I’ve been listening to the Cure since Let’s Go to Bed. I remember scoffing at the people who discovered the band when The Head on the Door came out. I’m still a terrible music snob, sorry. (not sorry)

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I knew it was supposed to rain again that night, and as promised, the deluge began about halfway through the show. I didn’t have a rain poncho and I forgot my umbrella, so we huddled under H’s umbrella. Seeing The Cure play One Hundred Years in a heavy rainstorm through a sea of umbrellas was probably the ultimate experience I could have as a Cure fan. I will never ever forget that.

I’d seen The Cure play at Coachella in 2010, so I knew they were notorious for breaking curfews and playing for hours and hours. They played on, covering their equipment with tarps, makeup smearing in the rain. Sadly, due to the storm, they were cut off. You could tell that Robert did not want to leave the stage, as he reluctantly shrugged and waved goodbye.

We trudged out of Zilker Park, and got lost trying to get to the car. I think we walked an extra mile out of the way. I was soaked to the bone. When we got home, we bundled up and I had the chills. The next day, I was miserable, the park was flooded, and ACL was canceled due to the fact that we had over a foot of rain.

The only band we really wanted to see on Sunday was Franz Ferdinand. They were playing a secret show at a club downtown. I felt so awful that we didn’t get in line early enough. I knew we weren’t going to get in, but after three hours, we ended up sneaking in only to be escorted out seconds later. We saw the band walk into the club, and I touched Bob on the arm as he went by. Oh, the humanity!

To salve our disappointment, we went to dinner and got some Amy’s Ice Cream. I felt terrible because I’d been a whiny bitch all the time we were in line. I seriously felt so sick, though.

After I dropped H off at the airport the next day, I went home and passed out. I ended up calling in sick the whole week, because I had a bad upper respiratory infection. They thought maybe it was pneumonia or pertussis, but I dodged those bullets, thank goodness.

I’m not sure I will ever go to ACL again. I could just livestream it all on the web, and see more bands than we saw. If it wasn’t for Depeche Mode and The Cure, I would have never gone in the first place. I guess I’ll go back to ACL for a Smiths reunion…haha! As if…

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Moontower > ACL + SXSW

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Austinites have a love-hate relationship with festivals. Most people who live here hate them because they don’t attend them, and it causes traffic problems and closes roads, and denies them access to their own city. A smaller percentage attends the festival, and either has a great time or has a terrible experience.

After living in Austin the last four years, I finally understand all of these perspectives. I attended ACL last year (I’ll make a post about that another time), and got very ill from being caught in the rain. I will never attend ACL again. Okay, maybe for one day if a band I really like is playing. I would rather watch the livestream, thanks!

SXSW is a hassle. I can’t get time off during SXSW because it’s busy season at my office. If I do get a day off, it’s a pain to take the bus downtown, fight the crowds, look out for drunk bros and drunk basic bitches and keep my sanity. Because SXSW is held during spring break, I’d say over half of the crowd is just there to scam free booze and food, and doesn’t care about the music. I’m a serious music fan and it drives me nuts when people are chatting during a show.  It’s already a huge problem in Austin, but is 100 times worse during SXSW. I might not even do SXSW at all next year, or if I do, I’ll keep away from the 6th Street, Rainey Street and Red River areas.

Moontower Comedy Festival is the BEST festival in Austin, hands down. Maybe it’s because this was only the third year of the festival, so it hasn’t been overrun by giant Doritos vending machines, drunk frat boys and sorority girls, and people who are only there to be seen. I’ve been to Moontower every year, but this was the first year I had a badge.

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 I’d never pony up the money for a SXSW badge. There’s so many free parties, it’s not worth it. The Moontower ACE badge is totally worth it. Not only can you attend any of the comedy shows around town for free, you get tickets for four shows at the Paramount. The cost of four shows at the Paramount is more than the price of the badge, so you’re already ahead. The best part of the Moontower badge is that YOU GET FREE PARKING DOWNTOWN. That’s right – free parking. FREE PARKING! For four nights! What is this madness?

At ACL, I walked two miles to my car in the rain and got sick. At SXSW, I took the bus and had to wait in the rain (it only rains during festivals) for the bus. Free parking is like a golden ticket.

Even if I had to pay for parking, it wouldn’t matter. Moontower is still the best! I saw over 30 comedians in four days. When I went to ACL, I think I saw less than 10 bands in two days (it was rained out for the third day). I got to sit down and enjoy the shows at Moontower in air conditioned bars. At ACL, it was so hot we didn’t even go until evening. At Moontower, I was handed a ticket to see four headliners, and was given orchestra seating without waiting in line. At ACL, if I wanted a good spot for the headliner, I had to get there an hour early and ended up missing other bands I wanted to see.

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 The vibe at Moontower is really laid back. I was walking around downtown and spotted Bruce and Scott from Kids in the Hall, enjoying themselves and not being bothered by fans too much. I went to get a burger at Wholly Cow and ended up seeing Mark and Dave from KITH, as well as Brody Stevens. I almost had a nervous breakdown but they did end up taking a photo with me, and they were really nice. No one is rolling VIP (or even VVIP) with an entourage at Moontower.

The quality of the entertainment was amazing. I laughed so hard that my ribs actually ached for a couple of days afterward. Some of  the shows I saw were Kids in the Hall, Maria Bamford, Hannibal Buress, Andy Kindler, Brody Stevens, James Adomian, Rory Scovel, Bobcat Goldthwait, Ari Shaffir, and on and on and on! The most unique act that I saw was Puddles the Pity Party Clown. You’ve just gotta see it to believe it, so I’m adding a You Tube clip at the end of this post. If you see Puddles around, give him a hug. He’s a good hugger.

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I will definitely be attending Moontower next year. A wonderful experience from start to finish.(And no, this is not a paid endorsement!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inspired to write again

I know I’ve been away for a while, but something happened that made me want to write again.  Last week, Austin lost @atxhipsters.  He was walking home, and was struck and killed by a drunk driver.

 

I never knew Kelly in real life, but I interacted with him a lot on twitter.  When I first moved to Austin in 2010, I relied on @atxhipsters for information about what was happening in Austin.  If I had spare tickets to a show, Kelly would help me pass them on.  We would share snark about SXSW and other Austin events.  When I saw NIN tape their episode of ACL, I remember reading Kelly’s excited tweets because he was also there, and it made me appreciate the show even more.

 

I’m going to miss his humor and his enthusiasm so much.  His twitter account still posts because he had created scripts that aggregated Austin blogs and websites, but when I see his tweets, it makes me sad.

 

I don’t want to make it sound like we were pals, but I read his posts every day and so he was a part of my everyday life.  I’m very sad that he is no longer around.

 

I do think it’s strange that now that he’s gone, we all found out his name, saw his photo, and learned where he worked and lived.  The most fun part of @atxhipsters was trying to guess who was the man behind the curtain.  At first, I thought it was a team of people, but over time, I realized it was just one guy and some scripts.  He wasn’t even a hipster, really.  He just made fun of the scene, and made the scene fun.  He never posted selfies, and he rarely revealed anything personal about himself.  Austin needs more people like that (and I know I’m guilty of it too).

 

I’m going to start writing for this blog again.  I’ve been busy doing lots of fun things I can write about, plus I still have lots of 80’s memories to share with you.

 

Thanks for reading this.  I hope you will continue to follow my adventures.

John Taylor – Magical Mulleted Unicorn

Photo courtesy of Duran Duran’s facebook page

To me, John Taylor is the Magical Unicorn of Duran Duran.  I have been incredibly lucky to have met Nick and Simon several times (that’s another story), but I have only met John at fast-paced meet and greets.  For this reason, John Taylor is still the only guy in Duran Duran that gives me butterflies and makes me a nervous wreck.  In other words, the Magical Unicorn.

The first time I met JT was when he was touring with the Neurotic Boy Outsiders (Steve Jones, Duff McKagan, and Matt Sorum).  After the show, the band did a quick meet and greet in the backstage area for the fans that were waiting by the bus.  I think we waited for at least an hour, hoping to see our heroes.  Patience paid off and I got in line to meet him.

The closer I got to the table where the band was sitting, the more nervous I felt.  John was at the end of the table, and I could see him in the FLESH.  Before that moment, he seemed like a mannequin or a painting – he didn’t seem real.  For years I had watched him on TV and stared at photos in magazines, and imagined how it would be to see him for real.  Even watching him perform on stage was not real, it was a persona.  This was the first time I had seen him off stage, just being himself, as an actual human being.

I’m embarrassed to say that I sailed right past the rest of the band (I snubbed Steve Jones!  What is wrong with me?), and stood in front of John.  He looked up at me, smiled, and asked my name.   I noticed how his eyes crinkled up just like they did when he smiled in interviews.  I whispered my name and my throat tightened.  My eyes were burning, and I felt fat, salty tears rolling down my cheeks.  John looked alarmed as I started sobbing.  I managed to croak, “Thank you for the music!” as he handed me a signed flyer.

My ex (boyfriend at the time) was right behind me in line, and he apologized for my outburst.  Then he and John discussed the intricacies of graphic design (I heard the phrase “72 dpi”).  I wandered off and saw Bev, who ran the B5 message boards for John.  I had calmed down by then.  I revealed to her that I was the girl who was having flame wars on AOL with John’s then-wife, Amanda DeCadenet (or as I liked to call her, Amanda DeCuntenet…more on this another day…Courtney Love was also involved…).   Bev thought this was the funniest thing in the world, and she wanted John to know.

I told Bev about my embarrassing outburst but she dragged me over to John again, and told him that I was the infamous “NRhodie”, or as Amanda called me, “NRhodent”.   John laughed and said that he was enjoying the drama, and he thought it was hilarious how angry Amanda would get.  I should have realized then that this was a bad sign for their future together (thank goodness).  At least my final impression was that of an evil online troll instead of a crying fan, right?  I’m not sure which is worse.

I should add I’m not a total wife-of-Duran-hater, because I love me some Yasmin and Gela, okay?

The second time I got an autograph from JT was in 1998, when he was touring with the unfortunately named John Taylor Terroristen.  In his defense, this was pre-911.

I had brought the tour program from the 1983 charity concert that the band did with Aston Villa (John’s favorite football team).  John asked if he could keep it.  During this time, John was not in Duran Duran anymore, but he was very nostalgic and was collecting all sorts of memorabilia of the band’s history.  He would post about them on the B5 message boards.  I thought for a moment about giving it to John, but I really wanted it for my own collection, so I said no.

As the years passed, my love for Duran Duran waned, mostly because of horrible experiences I had with fans.  I ended up giving away most of my collection to my friends.  I regret letting some items go, but it is fun to look for them again.  I did end up keeping anything that was autographed, including that Aston Villa tour program.

Cut to the present day – John Taylor did a book signing in Austin last Friday.  I hadn’t been in the same room with JT since that day in 1998, because I had stopped going to see Duran Duran in concert before the reunion.  Writing this blog has rekindled some of those old fangirl feelings, so I knew I had to go to this book signing.  I definitely wanted to give John that tour program he wanted years ago.

I went to the signing by myself, because I didn’t know any other Duran Duran fans in Austin.  I made a few friends while standing in line, which is always nice.  I think I’ve learned to smell the crazy on the fans so I know who to avoid.  To be honest, I probably came across as the crazy one, because I was excited to have someone to talk to about my stupid Duran adventures.  My new friends and I giggled over the thought of meeting Mr. Taylor.

John was his usual charming self, and did some readings and a Q&A for the crowd, which consisted mainly of forty-something ladies.  The shrieking was pretty loud.  I felt like I was at a Thunder Down Under strip show (not that I frequent such establishments).  Someone actually shouted for John to take his shirt off.

Finally it was time to get in line and meet the man himself.  I barked like a drill sergeant at my new pals to get them in line before the other fans trampled us.  My old cutthroat Duranie instincts emerged.  The Magical Unicorn has this effect on me.

I started to have that same feeling I got when I first met him.  I thought I might pass out at one point, but I made it.  I had a purpose.  I wanted nothing more than to clear my karmic slate by giving JT that tour program he had asked for so many years before.

I approached the table.  John looked up.  His eyes crinkled.  I flashed back to that day but kept it together.  I handed over the tour program and said, “John, many years ago you signed this for me, and asked if you could keep it.  At the time, I said no, but now I would like you to have it.”  He looked surprised; I’m sure he thought I was going to ask for him to sign it.  John paged through the program and said delightedly, “Wow!  I don’t have this one! Thank you!”  I smiled and said, “Well, now you do.”  That was pretty much the extent of our discussion, but it made me feel good.

John will always be the Magical Unicorn to me, and he will always be a mullet I have loved.

Post Script:

Of course I scanned that motherfucker before I gave it to JT.  I’m not THAT crazy!

Here’s a link to my tumblr posts with the scan of every page.  The paper was bigger than my scanner but I think it came out all right.  There are 3 tumblr links due to limits on uploading more than 10 pictures per post:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

David Byrne and St. Vincent

During the 1980’s, I was into new wave and pop music.  I regarded the Talking Heads as arty farty bullshit for people who were older than me, although I did like the hit songs such as “Burning Down the House”.  Up until the other day, I regarded David Byrne as one of the most pretentious bastard in the world, except for perhaps Lou Reed.

Well, my opinion has changed.  I got a chance to see David Byrne and St. Vincent because a friend had an extra ticket.  I didn’t have to pay for it, so I thought I’d give it a whirl.  I hadn’t bought a ticket to see them because I had those aforementioned prejudices against David Byrne, although I love St. Vincent.

I listened to their album on Spotify (Love This Giant) and I liked it.  I am a sucker for anything with a horn section.  I was also hoping he would play a few Talking Heads songs – the ones I like

After getting lost (as usual), I found the venue.  I missed all of my freeway exits, because the freeways in Austin are marked for people who already know where they are going….I was really frustrated and stressed out because I was half an hour late to meet my friend.  Finally, I found my seat and I was immediately soothed by the sounds of birdcalls and rain, which was playing before the show started.  I liked that a lot.

David Byrne made an announcement over the loudspeakers before the show saying that photos and videos are allowed, but asking people to please not take photos with their iPads and to please not view the entire show through a gadget.  This announcement should be made before every concert EVER.

Everyone walked out on stage, and it was so low key that I didn’t even realize that David and Annie (St. Vincent) were also on the stage.  There were a lot of people, as you can see from the photo above.  I knew that they were not fucking around because they had a guy playing a sousaphone on stage.

The show was really visually interesting, because there was choreography from everyone on stage and it was different for every song.  At one point everyone was lying down on the stage and playing, including the horns!  Lying on the floor playing a horn!!  I have never seen that before.

Annie would do this little dance where she’d stutter-step across the floor. It reminded me of something Prince used to do, but she was less filthy about it:

David Byrne was really gracious and would step back when Annie sang.  He would blend into the background and maybe do a funny dance but he let Annie have the spotlight.  It was the most generous and gracious thing I’ve seen someone do on stage, and I was very impressed by that.  He didn’t seem pretentious at all – he seemed humble.

I was pretty annoyed that everyone was sitting down during the show.  I kind of figured this would happen since it was mostly greybeards and hipsters.  After a pretty subdued number, everyone spontaneously erupted into a standing ovation, and the band just stood there.  The longer it went on the more awkward it was, so they started bowing.  You could tell that they weren’t sure what to do, so they walked off stage like it was time for an encore break.  I am not sure if we missed out on some songs because of this affectionate outburst.

Then when the band came back, everyone was standing up and stood up for the rest of the night.  Fucking finally!

I have to admit that when they played “Burning Down the House”, I lost my shit.  I mean, I danced like no one was watching – I did the pogo, I sang along, I might have had a tear in my eye.  That song was my JAM back in the day.  (“The day” being my freshman year of high school.)

They ended the set by singing “Road to Nowhere”, and everyone marched off stage.  All I could think about was that the people in the horn section were probably all in marching bands when they were kids and that was why they could remember all the crazy choreography for every song.  It was kind of a heartwarming thought.

My advice to you is that if David Byrne and St. Vincent come to your town, you should go see them.  My heart grew three sizes that day, and I no longer harbor an irrational hatred of David Byrne.

Simon Pegg signing at Book People

Simon Pegg has a new book out, called Nerd Do Well.  Austin was very lucky to be one of the three cities that hosted a book signing in America, and I was very lucky to attend last night.

There were so many people in the Book People store last night.  I had to park on the roof of the parking garage for the first time ever.  It was really hot and stifling in the room, so Simon courteously didn’t give a long talk before starting the signing.  Unfortunately, that means I don’t have a lot to talk about.  Instead, I’ll share this video of Simon’s introduction that I found on the Book People Blog.

The only thing this video didn’t capture was the fact that Simon was wearing board shorts and flip flops.  Oooh I got to see his ankles, you guys!

Before the signing, Simon enjoyed some Texas BBQ.  I’m not sure where he got his food, but doesn’t it look delicious? 

Simon signed books for over four hours. There are still lots of signed books left, so if you want to buy one, go to Book People’s website and order one! They take orders over the internet.

Scissor Sisters at Stubb’s

From Pooneh Ghana's flickr stream - click to check out the amazing photos there!

At Coachella in 2006,  I had to make a decision every day as to which band I was going to see, because it seemed as if all the bands I liked played at the same time.  I was trying to choose between Scissor Sisters and Art Brut.  I had (still have) a huge crush on Eddie Argos, so I chose the Bruts.

As my friends and I left the tent where Art Brut had played, we saw a stage lit up like Las Vegas.  There was a FERRIS WHEEL on the stage.  It looked like a neon carnival had come to town.  We realized that this was the Scissor Sisters show.  It was at that moment I knew I had made a huge mistake.

Ever since then, I have been waiting to see the Scissor Sisters in concert.  Now that I live in Austin, I finally had a chance!  The tickets were only $25, and the show sold out completely.  Other bands should keep a sensible price point in mind if they want to sell out.  I think in this economy it is the smart thing to do.

I expected nothing less than a Bacchanal, as promised by Ian McKellen’s voiceover during Invisible Light.  Scissor Sisters served up a heaping helping of pleather, studs, abs, thighs, and red lipstick.  They gave me everything I wanted and more.

The set list was a good mix of old and new songs.  No ballads – we were there to dance!  I don’t think anyone left disappointed.  I am sorry but I couldn’t find  a set list for you this time (and during the show I was having too much fun to write it down).  I know that they played every song I wanted to hear except Return to Oz, which would have been a huge downer anyway.  They did do a stripped-down acoustic version of Sex and Violence, which was beautiful in a strange way.  It doesn’t come across that way on the album.

For me, the star of the show was Jake Shears’ body.  Holy hell, that man is CUT.  Every single person in the audience, man or woman, would have given Jake Shears a blowjob that night.  No doubt about it.  I kept hoping he’d take off more and more clothes.  He did flash us so that was good enough.  And yeah, I know that Jake Shears is a) gay and b) monogamous with his boyfriend but it doesn’t hurt to look!  

The best song of the night was Invisible Light.  That song just transports it to a whole new level.  Everyone was dancing, jumping, punching the air, screaming along, and living in their own little bubble of joy.  Then, after Ian McKellen’s voiceover, Jake came out in a glow-in-the-dark devil costume, and Ana Matronic floated on stage looking like a magical silver cloud.

See it to believe it.  Do not miss this band when they come to your town.

Since I didn’t find any good clips from the show I attended, here’s a live version of Invisible Light featuring Sir Ian himself: