Concert View

It has been more than a bit crazy here lately, hence the infrequent posts.  We certainly did not need any distractions.

So we got one and took advantage of it.

Over the last weekend, we put 1,800 miles on the car making a quick run down to California to visit a dear friend, spend the weekend watching bands, back to Ashland to quickly take care of some unfinished business after leaving there in June, saw a few friends there (but not enough), then beat feet back home.

Although it was long hours in the car once again, it was a trip good for the soul.  Not only was it two solid days of auditory overload, but fantastic scenery and great friends.  Plus, I was finally able to collect the rest of my memory cards that had been in safekeeping since April.  Perhaps I can get to the pictures that I took from last October through April and post a few here.

So what is with the title?  It is the typical concert view anymore.  At the first flash of light, the first beat of the drum, the first strum of a guitar, all of the damned phones go up.  I can’t see squat and I’m 6-feet tall.  My poor Goddess, who is nowhere near 6-feet tall, just gives up.

aftershock-phones

And before someone cracks wise about me taking this picture with my phone, there wasn’t anyone behind me other than the guys at the sound boards.  And they were on a platform about 3 feet off the ground.

But other than that, we had a great weekend.  Hopefully you did too and that you are about to enjoy another.

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Not a Bad Way

…to start the day.

Here’s the view that I have every morning (well, when the sun is out, which is 50/50 this time of year in Germany).

Not a bad way to start the day

After ~20 minutes of riding through the relatively dark, cool forest, the path quickly opens to farmland.  If the sun’s out, like it was this morning, the feel changes immediately.

But the view is always beautiful.

And makes me thankful that Goddess lets me commute by bicycle to and from work.

Since that was a great way to start the day, it’s only fair that there be a musical diversion to end the day.

Jamiroquai – Live at Paleo (Complete Concert | 2010)

From Classical to Fist-Pumping

After last weekend’s trip to Glasgow, Scotland to enjoy two nights of classical music with Phillip Glass (and others), we took one day to catch our breath (although I went into work to catch up a bit), then it was off for more music.

This time it was Rock am Ring, a classic in its own right, this being the 27th edition.

A full-on three day festival, requiring camping on site.

Now that we’re back, I am glad to be home.  We loved the experience, although if we never see 85,000 people in such a small place again, we are fine with that.

Held at Nürburgring in Western Germany, with a sister concert at Nuremberg held the same weekend, both venues pull in approximately 150,000 fans.  That’s a lot of people.  It’s so popular that both venues sell out quickly and they end up showing a good part of the concerts on TV (see below).

BTW, if you click on the Nüburgring link above, it will open to the satellite view of the ring, which happens to show the concert setup, without the people.  Although it would be amazing to see it with the people.  But if you click on that link, you’ll see all of the campsites set up around the ring, scattered amongst the rolling hills, as well as all the way around the race track.  Go ahead, zoom in.  You’ll see the individual tents.  Although this must have been early in the week (they open camping three days before the start of the concert).  The field that we were staying in doesn’t even have cars or tents.

Yet.

So Goddess and I got there mid-day Friday, which was later than the Thursday evening we had planned.  It worked out better that way, since a long series of storms had swept the area Thursday night – it was nicer to sleep in our own bed.  But once we got the campsite set up, we headed straight in.  With 83 bands playing over the next three days, we needed to cover a lot of ground.  There was no way we’d see them all, but Friday turned out to be the hardest, since several bands that we wanted to see were overlapping play times between the three stages.

Here are the daily lineups:

Quite a lot of awesomeness in there.  Plus a smorgasbord of music that we had never heard before.  And we’re willing to give everyone a chance.

Friday started the trend of us getting to the ring around 3pm only to return to the campsite at 3am.  That made for long days.

Saturday was a bit of a lull for us, not being familiar with many of the bands.  But it was OK, since we spent a lot of time walking from stage to stage and sampling the goods.  But each walk took longer than we expected, since it was the busiest day, with all 85,000 of the ticket buyers there.  That’s just too many people for us, so it did put a damper on the day.  By 1:30am, we were more than ready to leave, even though there were still acts that we wanted to see, if only for a few minutes.

Sunday was a bit more relaxed, since we woke to ~12C (55F) and pouring rain, which probably thinned the crowds.  Plus, I suspect many had to head back home to be at work or school the next day.  And this is where Goddess is most amazing.  We were standing in line, waiting for the shuttle bus, getting soaked by the cold rain.  She gave me a few “you’ve got to be kidding me” looks, but never complained.  And I know that by the end of the evening, she was glad that she didn’t call off the evening, which she could have done.

With only a small bit of protest.

There were a lot of great moments during the three days, but here are a handful (video clips [ripped from the satellite feeds] linked where available):

Cypress Hill – watching the crowd react to this band was great.  We just had to make sure we stood upwind from the crowd.

Soundgarden – being right up front, just a few meters from the stage, watching Chris Cornell do his thing.

Tenacious D – what a hilarious (and musically gifted) band.

Metallica – they always put on a good show.  This was my seventh time seeing them in the past 25 years.  They never disappoint.  And since 2011 was the 20th anniversary of the release of their “Black Album“, they played the entire album in its entirety.  Thankfully not in order.

Dick Brave and the Backbeats – nothing like bopping to this rockabilly crew.  We need to see them again.

Dropkick Murphys – my first time seeing one of my favorites.  The weather made it better.  Between bouts of rain, DK thrashed the crowd while the steadily lowering clouds eventually obscured the Nürburg Castle, on a hilltop just to the left of the main stage.  Very atmospheric.

The Offspring – a fun band.  Too bad the crowd we were in the middle of didn’t think so.  They wouldn’t even sing along to “Why Don’t You Get a Job“!  Seriously, did someone spike the Warsteiner with downers?  Well, it was Warsteiner…

Die Toten Hosen – literally, “The Dead Trousers”.  Figuratively, “The Dead Beats”.  Arguably one of the best German rock bands out there.  Period.  Forget the one or two that make it big overseas (I won’t name names, since the big ones quit making good music 20 years ago).  While Metallica does a good job of working a crowd of this size into a frenzy, Die Toten Hosen does a GREAT job.  Nothing like seeing 60,000 (like the first time we saw them) or 85,000 fans getting into each and every song.

Plus, many more.

But the best moments were the people.  Out of 85,000 people, you’re going to get characters.  And the crowd did not disappoint with some very creative costumes and shenanigans.  Goddess and I just laughed and laughed and laughed the first two days.  On Sunday, the rain kept everyone covered up, although it did not dampen the shenanigans.

What’s it like to be in a crowd of 85,000?  Not comfortable for us.  Goddess being just 5’4″, she’s not a fan of crowds.  Honestly, neither am I.  So when the two of us are in crowds, I get very protective of her, which doesn’t turn out well for anyone who acts aggressively towards her, whether it be purposefully or through sheer stupidity (drunken or not).  Because of that, we have an understanding – we try to stay where we don’t get in those situations.  So for most of the big acts, we stood near the back.

If you watched any of the video links above, there would be camera angles from the top of the stage looking outward towards the back of the crowd.   You’ll see that there’s a long building to stage left (looking towards the crowd).  We often stood near the back, where we could still see the screens and be situated between four sets of amp stacks.  But that also meant that the stage was a bit distant.  Distant as in right at 1/4 mile (400 meters) away.

Distant.

And that 1/4 mile between us and the stage was 150-200 meters wide, full of people.

Oh, the humanity!

And because of that humanity, Goddess has now set a limit.  No more concerts with crowds over 60,000.

Regardless of the lineup, I think I’m OK with that.

Glass in Glasgow

Goddess and I just got back from a wonderful eight days in the United Kingdom.

A lot to catch up on here in the house, so I don’t have much time to update.  But I wanted to share the impetus for the trip.

A few months ago, Goddess was doing her internet perusing (dreaming), looking at travel destinations and/or concerts.  As you probably know, we’re big fans of traveling to new places.  And if we can sync up a concert with those travels, all the better.

So Goddess scored.

By finding a concert in a place we haven’t been.

Two nights in Glasgow, Scotland to see Philip Glass perform live.

The rest of the trip (to be covered later) was to be built around that.

Friday night was a double treat – Philip Glass performing with Kronos Quartet, another favorite of mine.  They performed Philip’s soundtrack to the Bela Lugosi‘s performance as Count Dracula.

Here’s a quick of Philip talking about the evolution of the project (along with a view of the performers and stage setup):

And it was Goddess’ first time ever seeing the movie, so that made it fun.

And just in case you haven’t seen it:

The second night was originally billed to be just Philip solo on piano, which is always incredible.  But just a couple of weeks ago, we found that the evening had been modified to include Tim Fain, an accomplished American violinist.

As it turned out, it was this exact same show, which was fine, because it’s so much better in person, especially with seats just 30 feet away.

http://www.metmuseum.org/metmedia/video/concerts/glass-chamber-works-with-philip-glass-and-tim-fain

That now makes three times that we’ve seen Philip Glass perform live.  I hope for many more, since I’ve been a huge fan of his for thirty years now.  The Glasgow Royal Concert Hall was quite nice, but I don’t think it was a match, both visually and acoustically, for the Schermerhorn in Nashville.

Glasgow Royal Concert Hall
Schermerhorn Symphony Center. Image ©Thomas Clay

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a better resolution image of the inside of the Glasgow hall.  It certainly wasn’t lacking for quality.  I just preferred the Schermerhorn.

And if you look on the left side of Glasgow hall, you can see the forward corner of the loge level, just next to the front row.  That’s the corner that Goddess and I sat in for the showing of Dracula.  So we had front row seats.  For the second night, we picked the opposite corner, but just a few seats to the left, so we were even with the second/third row.

And those tickets were an unbelievable £25 (about $38 US) each!  And neither performance was sold out, which was a shame.

All in all, the music and the experiences were amazing.

Stark Ravin’

Well, not much raving. 

But a lot of good thumping beats while relaxing with a hot cup of glühwein.

Sitting on faux bearskin rugs laid on on benches in plastic tubes designed to keep the bartenders dry and some of the warmth in.

Lined with string lights, dancing with disco balls.

All thumping, but not so loud to interrupt conversation.

Party Tube 1 Party Tube 2 Step outside.

Look at the lights.  The shadows.

The show projected on the walls.

Raving WindowsThe DJ in the fishbowl, spinning his mp3’s while grooving for the crowd.

Museum Quarter (MQ), Wien (Vienna), Austria.

Partay

Yep, that’s what Fasching is.  A big partay.

And if you followed that link, you realize that Fasching is the German/Austrian version of Carnival, Carnivale or Mardi Gras.  It’s all the same.  Basically it’s a good excuse to let it all hang out before tightening the belts for Lent.

Wow, generalize much?

So we had a Fasching parade in Hockenheim on Saturday.  Convenient, since the parade route is only a few blocks from the house.  Convenient since the neighbor wanted to make sure we didn’t get cold by getting a shot (or two) of schnapps in our belly before we walked.

And it didn’t stop.

We made our way downtown, found a glühwein stand, then found our stretch of road to stake out.  Someone found another glühwein stand, then we walked down the block a bit, only to run into some folks that had a few cases of various beverages.

The parade hadn’t even started and I was already concerned about being able to take pictures throughout.

But it started soon after, so at least I could take pictures of the start.  The drum beat was hypnotic and the crowd started bouncing up and down both sides of the street.  Parade participants yelling “Ahoy” and the crowd returning the yell.  

No respect for the Polizi.

Candy and popcorn flying into the crowd.

No beads.

This was a family show.

Well, except for the forest goblin that humped my leg. But that’s a story for another day. 

(and yes, Goddess and I are certain that was a female under that mask.  I’d tell you how I know, but again, that’s a story for another day)

More bouncing as tractors pulling trailers with huge sound systems, blaring house and techno beats, rolled up the street, complete with pacifier-sucking, dancing zombies. 

(man I need to clean my sensor)

Followed by drum corps.  Followed by brass bands. 

Followed by local town queens.

And beverages.  Lots of beverages.  The group that we met up with was handing out shots and single-serving schnapps to the parade participants.  Hilarious to watch. 

Cheers

I’m amazed to know that some of those folks made it to the end of the parade route.

But the best part was how everyone got into the spirit, from young, to older, to old.

  Yep, that’s a spectator-provided glass in hand.

Click on any of the images above.  They’ll take you to a slideshow of the procession.

So get out there and beat the rush, partay until Lent.

Still Alive

We’re settling in here in Germany.  We’ve got a house, some of our belongings and our car.  Now we’re just waiting for the rest of our stuff to get here.

In the meantime, we’ve yet to arrange for cable or internet.  It’s actually quite nice.  I’ve managed to read a few books that I’ve been carrying around for years, relax and spend lots of quality time with Goddess.  The downside is that since we don’t have internet or TV at the house, we do feel a bit isolated and out of touch.  Although that’s not that bad, now is it?

Luckily I have access at work so I can catch up on news.

As far as a house goes, we’ve got native.  We picked a town that isn’t too far from work, nor is it too close.  It’s about 20km, which is a nice cycling commute.  Within a five minute walk we’ve got three beer gardens, a butcher, a baker (nope, no candlestick maker) and several other stores.  If we expand our walk out to ten minutes, the number of beer gardens skyrockets.  As far as neighbors, there aren’t any other Americans that we’re aware of.

Just 15 minutes away on foot is the Hockenheim Ring.  A neat place with events going on constantly.  The neighbors tell us that when the Formula 1 is in town, a few hundred thousand folks show up and it gets quite loud.  We’re looking forward to it.

Speaking of loud, Goddess and I spent the 4th of July with a lot of noise and some fireworks.  At the ring was a festival called Sonisphere, where some 40,000 showed up to see this lineup:

20:45 – 22:45 METALLICA

18:35 – 20:05 DIE TOTEN HOSEN

16:55 – 18:05 THE PRODIGY

15:40 – 16:35 IN EXTREMO

14:30 – 15:15 DOWN

13:30 – 14:10 LAMB OF GOD

12:30 – 13:10 MASTODON

11:45 – 12:15 ANTHRAX

11:00 – 11:30 FIVE AND THE RED ONE

As you can see, that was 12 hours of standing on asphalt in the hot sun.  But overall the show was quite good.  It was my first time seeing Anthrax, who I’ve listened to for 20+ years.  This was the second time for Lamb of God, who does alright.  The second time for both Goddess and I to see The Prodigy – the last time was in Tokyo.  And this makes Metallica show number five for me.  They always do well and never disappoint.

The biggest surprises for us were In Extremo and Die Toten Hosen.  What Great Bands!!!!  I cannot recommend either highly enough.  It was great to see all 40,000 fans (well,  minus us two Americans) singing along to each and every song that Die Toten Hosen played.  Go buy some now.

But now a word for Phil Anselmo, singer for the band Down.  Even though you’ve were the frontman for a great band (Pantera), the fans owe you and the other members of your group nothing. 

Not a damn thing. 

By the time you guys took the stage after 3pm, many of us had been standing out in the hot sun for hours.  Most hadn’t had anything to eat or drink for hours either for fear of losing their spot in front of the stage.  All that any of the folks in audience wanted was a good show. 

You didn’t bring it.

At best, you and your band were lackluster, offering nothing more or better than any other generic American band that throws a few heavy riffs together behind a growling singer.  Meh.  The reason the crowd wasn’t responding to you was because you guys didn’t entertain.

Instead, you stood on stage and whined, even telling the paying crowd at one point that we sucked.  Classy move, telling paying customers and potential fans that they suck.  But it wasn’t the fans.  It was you.

So next time, stay home and pout, leaving that 45 minutes available to a band that really matters.

Like Anthrax.

Who played a woefully short 30-minute set.

Anyway, Goddess and I continue our adventure, sampling as much food, beer and wine as Germany can offer.

Warning

“Warning: This concert will be extremely loud and consist of continuous strobing lights”.

Ummm, as if there’s any other way for a concert to be?  And posting an 8.5×11″ sheet of printed paper on the door of the arena as you enter is ample warning?

Hehe, as if the people that bought tix to last night’s show didn’t know what they were getting themselves into.

And it was a completely different crowd from Thursday night’s B.B. King concert that Goddess and I enjoyed.  Completely different.  And that’s why Goddess stayed home.

Did I mention it would be loud and out of control?  Check.  It was.

My ears are still ringing.

The body is tired.  As it should be after two hours in the crowd and flailing around in the pit.  I wonder how I can track that in my journal.  Perhaps it would count as an interval workout.

First up was Trivium.  Meh.  Technically a good band, musically pretty soulless.  The guitarist could throw down some decent chords, but it was all about trying to impress, not build a good song.  One of Son’s friends that accompanied us loves this band and took quite a bit of offense when we told him that they just weren’t good.

Next up was Coheed and Cambria.  We saw them last year when they were warm-up for Linkin Park.  They did not impress then, they did not impress now.  Next.

Now for the loud and out of control.

Slipknot!

Photo by David Shaw
Photo by David Shaw

These guys know how to put on a show.  They lived up to expectations.  Their 100-minute show was a non-stop visual and aural assault.  Hands down one of the best concerts I’ve been to (and I’ve been to quite a few over the past 30 years).

The real surprise was the crowd.  I fully expected an out-of-control, violent explosion of bodies from the get-go.  Not so much.  The crowd was definitely excited and fully in to the band, but we had to work our way completely through the crowd to find the pit.  Once we got there, I was surprised to find out how well-mannered it was.  They were actually abiding by proper pit etiquette, making sure no fists went above chest level and no kicking.  Everyone was looking out for each other and if anyone went down, ten sets of hands instantaneously went down to pick the guy up off the floor.

For those who have never experienced it, I know that from the outside a pit sure looks violent.  Sometimes it is.  And those are the ones I stay out of, mainly because I have a very short fuse.  I grew up in the pits of the SoCal punk scene during the ’80s, where we all looked out for each other.  It’s not about getting hurt or hurting someone else, it’s about enjoying the music and letting off some steam.  If an outsider showed up and wanted to get violent, he usually got his wish and the pit returned to normal.  In these big shows, there typically isn’t that sense of brotherhood.  Last night was different.

A good introduction for a friend, who had never experienced anything like that before.

Anyway, back to the show.

Y’all likely have been to concerts where the performer works the crowd.  Slipknot worked the crowd, but I guarantee it was like none other.  Several times some of the guys (there are nine in the band) left the stage and walked through the crowd.  No barriers.  One even walked up between a couple of sections in the arena, then wend his way through the aisles, actually having to step over shocked concert-goers to make it to the next section.  Even on the floor we got to high-five one of the percussionists, Shawn “Clown” Crahan, as he worked through the floor crowd.

If they’re your cup of tea, you’ll go.  If not, watch the videos below (volume down if you prefer) and watch the entertainment factor.

Although this video is a few years old, it’s still a pretty darn good representation of what last night was like.

And a cell-phone video from a couple of weeks ago that shows some of the energy of this year’s tour:

Definitely a good time.

Wrap Up

Well, the miles are really cranking by.

As of yesterday, I have 231 miles for the year, consisting of 41 runs in the 45 days.  I do take one rest day per week, no matter what.  And that day is always Sunday.

The consistency is really starting to show the benefits.  Even after a very hilly 16-miler on Friday, I was still able to crank out a sub 60-minute 7.5-miler on a very hilly course on Saturday.  Today the legs are twitching, ready to run.  But they won’t get it.  It’s rest day.

I covered 54 miles this week.  I have not been in this territory for weekly running mileage since high school some 23-24 years ago.  Back then it was all about collecting miles.  Volume was king.  Nothing else mattered.  And I was doing a fine, fine job of driving myself to consistent over-training and serious injury.  How I didn’t I still don’t know.

But now it’s completely different.

I am really amazed at how well I’m able to handle it now.  I’m pretty confident that the periodization helps, not only during the yearly schedule, but weekly and daily.  Rest, not volume, is king.  Smart training leads to bigger gains.

Now I just need to hold it together the next couple of weeks as I push to 65 miles per week and then start my taper for next month’s 60K.

Off to Nashville again tonight for another concert.  This time with Son while Goddess holds down the fort.  That means it’s loud and likely to get out of control.

Whooo hooooo!!!