Tag Archives: moody theater

The Day I Met the Pet Shop Boys

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 I have been a fan of the Pet Shop Boys’ Neil Tennant even before he was a Pet Shop Boy. He used to write for my teen Bible, Star Hits (Smash Hits) magazine. I remember when he left the magazine to become a famous pop star. I was sad, because I figured I’d never hear from him again. Oh, ye of little faith! Of course he and Chris Lowe became extremely famous and fabulous, and are one of the few 80’s bands that stood the test of time.

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Fast forward to 2014. Pet Shop Boys are touring America, and are selling VIP meet and greets. I hyperventilated at the thought of actually pressing the flesh with Mr. Tennant himself, who had been my hero since those halcyon Star Hits/Smash Hits days. I just had to snatch up a VIP ticket, even though it was a bit out of my budget. I later found out that photos were not permitted, which was a huge bummer for me. I’d rather have a photo than an autograph any day.

Finally, the day of the show arrived. After standing in line for almost two hours, and meeting some lovely people who were in line with me (Hello, Jessica!), it was finally time to meet Chris and Neil. I was so nervous. I actually felt like I might pass out. Some of my new friends went in with me to offer moral support, or maybe they were worried I’d actually faint. I’m not sure.

Anyway, I turned the corner into the meet and greet room, and saw Neil Tennant himself smiling at me as if he were happy to see me, and extending his hand out to me. (I’m sure he did this for everyone) He was wearing black pants and a black jacket, and he had on some sexy glasses that made him look like a college professor (the one everyone has a crush on).

Huge disclaimer here: yes, I know he is gay, but I had a huge crush on him before I realized the truth of the matter, and sometimes I still can’t forget how that felt. I joked that I was going to tell him, “You’ve been whispering in my ear for 27 years,” but I didn’t. So chalk up some points for me for self-restraint.

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I shook hands with Neil and Chris. Chris has never seemed like a real person to me. He seems like a robot – never speaking, never smiling, never showing his eyes. I couldn’t believe it when I saw him smiling, chatting, and wearing a grey hoodie and sweats. He was so laid back and casual! I said to Chris, “It’s nice to hear you speak,” and he replied cheekily, “I’m a real chatterbox!”

Neil was busy signing everything I brought, plus my laminate. I brought my copy of the Best of Smash Hits book for him to sign (he wrote the foreword), and he immediately exclaimed, “Ooooooh, Smash Hits!” upon seeing the book. It was delightful. They both graciously signed all the items I brought (I even had them sign something for a friend), and were lovely and sweet.

Even though I didn’t get a photo with them, it was a great experience, and definitely worth the money.

After that, it was time for the show! Those of us who had VIP got into the venue early, so I had a good spot in the front. If you haven’t seen the Pet Shop Boys live, you really missed out on a sensory overload. It’s a spectacle in every sense of the word. They change costumes, there are dancers who also change costumes, a light show that will dazzle your retinas, and of course, the wonderful songs.

Here’s a taste:

I had a fabulous time at the show, except for a few jerks in the audience. Every show in Austin has a problem with people who show up and then spend the entire time chatting with their friends. I don’t know why these people feel they must be right up front if they’re going to gossip for hours…I did finally turn around and “shush” them but it did no good. Then, a few minutes later, their friends pushed through the crowd to join them. These people had made their own “disco” hats, and were shining a light on them using the flashlight app on their phones. It was ruining the light show and blinding me. Next, they started taking selfies of each other with the hat on. They were moving around, pushing everyone, laughing, chatting and ruining the show. Finally, I’d had enough. I started elbowing them back when they pushed me. Then I grabbed the arm of the girl with the hat and said, “Why don’t you go to the back? You are extremely annoying.” The best part about all this, is that they actually did go away after a minute!

I’m totally going to get punched in the nose at a show someday, but I am glad I didn’t this time. It’s my bad karma from being super annoying at shows over the years. Maybe it will be erased soon…

Once those pests went away, I was back in blissful ecstasy. The show was amazing, and I will never forget that day. I still can’t believe that I actually met them and talked to them! They will always seem so much larger than life to me.

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Devo at Moody Theater in Austin

When I was a kid, Devo scared the everloving crap out of me. They seemed demonic and evil and terrifying. (I was also terrified of David Bowie as Ziggy Stardust.)

I mean, if you see the video for Peek-a-boo, you will not only develop a fear of clowns, you will find the nasty icky evil core that is inside of you. See for yourself:

Click here to watch the video

The bastards at WMG won’t let anyone post this video on You Tube so I had to search the depths of My Space itself to bring it to you! I suffer for you!  I can’t even get it to embed.

Damn you, WMG!

So anyway, as I was saying, Devo scared the Cheerios right out of me until I was much older. I didn’t really appreciate them until they were long gone, and I had never seen them perform live. Needless to say, when I found out they were coming to Austin, I got myself a floor ticket and made up for lost time.

The DEVOted were there in droves. Blue energy domes and the new grey masks were for sale at the merch stand, and many ponied up the dough for their own piece of Devolution. There was a chance to get your photo taken in Devo gear, for free, while holding up a sign that said “JOCKO HOMO!” I should have done that but I didn’t want to stand in line, plus I was there by myself and felt self conscious. Missed opportunities…

The opening act was a local Austin band, the Octopus Project. Their set was a good mood-setter. Their music was what I guess you could call ambient, but it was more danceable than most ambient music. I really admired their use of the theremin.

By the time they left the stage, I had managed to make my way to the front of the crowd on the floor and I stayed perched there the rest of the night.  The people around me were mostly 30- or 40-somethings like myself, ready to relive the 80s.

Not that Devo is totally a nostalgia act – they released an amazing album last year, Something for Everybody, which holds up to their classic stuff and even exceeds it in some cases.  Devo started their set with a track from the new album, and it wasn’t a letdown in the least.

There were many costume changes throughout the night.  First up were the grey suits and masks that the band debuted in 2010.  I was really excited to see them play live, and had been hoping for weeks that they would play Peek-a-boo. It turned out to be the second song they played, and it was kind of like premature ejaculation for me.  I wasn’t ready for that so early in the set, and I felt like I missed the “moment”.  Not that it wasn’t mind-blowing to see them perform that song while the actual video played behind them.  Jerry Casale was scary as ever while singing, “ha ha ha HA!!” and waving his arms threateningly.  I definitely had a tingle of fear down my spine as I relived the old days.

Would you like to know the set list?

  • Don’t Shoot
  • Peek A Boo
  • What We Do
  • Going Under
  • Fresh
  • That’s Good
  • Girl U Want
  • Whip It
  • Planet Earth
  • Satisfaction
  • Secret Agent Man
  • Uncontrollable Urge
  • Mongoloid
  • Jocko Homo
  • Smart Patrol
  • Gates Of Steel
  • Freedom Of Choice
  • Beautiful World
  • There really was something for everybody!

    I don’t really know how to review this show, because it was weird.  Really weird.  Like, gonzo weird.  So I’ll just tell you what I thought was weird.

    Devo are old dudes now.  I mean, they are paunchy, balding, grey-haired members of AARP.  It was very very disturbing to see them prancing around in shorts and kneepads.  I was pretty close up to the front of the stage and they all had those grandpa legs, you know?  Yet they were trying to act like sex machines.  Maybe it was irony, I don’t know.  If it was, the irony was lost on me.

    For example, when they were performing in the yellow hazmat suits, the guys started tearing and ripping their suits off.  At first it was a really punk, aggro type of thing to do.  But after they started really stripping the suits off, revealing the aforementioned shorts and kneepads, it was disturbing.  I felt like I was about to watch my parents having sex.  I guess I just can’t think of the Devo guys as sexual beings, because to me they are scary monsters and super creeps.  (I know that’s a Bowie song, but it fits.)

    Video filmed by Michael Pilmer/Devo-Obsesso

    Mark Mothersbaugh took it to the ultimate level during Freedom of Choice, when he improbably produced 6 or 7 bananas from his shorts and threw them into the crowd.  I honestly do not want to know where those bananas were hiding.  He was really digging around in his shorts for them.  Did I mention he was wearing a shirt that was entirely decorated with photos of hot dogs?  (I bet he drives a Hummer!)

    I don’t want this to sound like a negative review, because I had a wonderful time and would recommend that everyone on Earth see Devo before they die.  The music was perfect, and the crowd was thrilled.  During Girl U Want, a mosh pit formed near me and I retreated in haste.  The oldsters such as myself were not pleased, so I know that it was started by one of those young whippersnappers.  I knew that guy with the TSOL jacket was trouble…

    The best thing about Devo is that they don’t care what anyone thinks.  It’s a tradition that when they perform Beautiful World, Mark Mothersbaugh will come out to sing it dressed as Booji Boy after Jerry sings a verse.

    Booji Boy sings in a tuneless high pitched voice.  For the entire song.  He never breaks character.  Before he sang, he told a story about Godzilla awakening from underneath the sea, walking from the Gulf of Mexico to Austin, tearing the roof off of the venue, and declaring that “It’s a Beautiful World!”   This is why Devo is awesome.  They just don’t care what anyone thinks, they are there to provoke the audience.

    Konichiwa, bitches!

    Last night I went to see Robyn perform at the new Austin City Limits venue, the Moody Theater.

    Here’s a clip of one of her songs, in case you don’t know who the hell I am talking about:

    For some reason, Robyn is not well known in America at all. If you are wondering what she sounds like, I guess you could call her the Swedish Lady Gaga, minus the performance art. Robyn’s songs are pure dancepop, fun, and a little bit naughty. She’s just naughty and cutting edge enough to be adored by the hipster set. Believe me, the place was crawling with hipsters in their little pashmina scarves, funny haircuts and toting their iPhones.

    I’d also like to discuss the venue, since it is  brand-spankin’ new, and will be the new home of the TV show Austin City Limits.  Not every concert performed there will be filmed for the show.  A lot of people in the audience thought that Robyn’s set was going to be on TV, but it won’t be.  (Sadly) 

    Anyway, from the outside, the building just looks like a big, boring block of painted concrete, right next door to the W Hotel.  Once you walk up the stairs to the entrance and go inside, it is fabulous.  There is a lounge area at the entrance which is on a balcony, and it has a nice view of downtown (and probably the lake, in the daytime).  There are plenty of restrooms and bars, so there is never a long wait. 

    I was seated in the balcony, so I had to climb several flights of stairs.  There is another lounge area, with couches, chairs and tables, and more bars at the balcony level.  It’s really comfortable and roomy. 

    Even though I was seated in the balcony, I still had a great view.  Apparently, the worst seat in the house is only 75 feet from the stage.  You can still see the performer’s face and you don’t feel like you’re watching from a blimp.  The place seats about 2500 people so it isn’t too huge, it still has an intimate feel to it.

    Of course, the real test came once Robyn hit the stage.  From the minute she appeared until the end of the show a couple of hours later, she was a ball of energy.  Constantly moving, dancing, and making sure everyone had a great time.  I was really impressed by her.  I also loved that her band were all dressed like mad scientists. 

    Once the show started, I was up on my feet dancing.  What else would you do at a Robyn show?  The lady a few rows behind me had another idea.  She thought it would be really fun to bellow at people to sit down for the first half hour of the show.  She sounded like a constipated cow.  Finally, I turned around and suggested that she stand up.  Right after I said that, Robyn played Don’t Fucking Tell Me What To Do, which seemed very appropriate to my situation. 

    Pretty soon everyone was up and dancing, even the boys sitting next to me who gave off too-cool-for-the-room vibes when they arrived.  By the end of the show, they were dancing, singing along, and basically losing their shit.  Such is the power of Robyn.

    The weirdest thing that happened was that Robyn ate two bananas on stage while she was performing.  I was wondering if maybe she is hypogylcemic, or maybe she just thought it would be funny.  The second time she did it, she threw the peel out into the crowd. 

    It was so much fun to be in a room full of people who really loved the music, who were singing and dancing, and having a good time.  Usually in Austin, I have found the audience to be more aloof because…yeah, hipsters…I will stop using that word in this post now.

    Here is the set list.  I got this off of a Google search but it seems right to me.  I was too busy enjoying the show to write down the songs.  Sorry if that makes me a bad blogger!

    1.”Time Machine”
    2.”Fembot”
    3.”Cobrastyle”
    4.”Call Your Girlfriend”
    5.”Get Myself Together”
    6.”Dancehall Queen”
    7.”Dancing on My Own”
    8.Medley: “We Dance to the Beat” / “Don’t Fucking Tell Me What to Do”
    9.”Love Kills”
    10.”Indestructible
    11.”Stars 4-Ever”
    12.”With Every Heartbeat”
    Encore 1:
    13.”You Should Know Better”
    14.”Konichiwa Bitches”
    15.”Be Mine!”

    Encore 2:
    16.”Hang With Me”
    17.”Dancing Queen/Show Me Love”