Thursday, October 25, 2007

Sinéad visits North Bethesda

Wednesday, October 24th 2007:

This is our first time visiting the beautiful Music Center at Strathmore in North Bethesda for a concert by none other than the once-controversial (or is she still?) Sinéad O'Connor. Think Symphony Hall but with maple wood everywhere and a couple more levels and maybe just a bit smaller. They even have a nice food and snack bar, and beverage bars in various locations as well as monitors outside the concert hall to watch while having a burger and a drink. We had great seats - third row a couple seats off center - and considering it's not one of those standing room only places, it was certainly nice not worrying about getting a good view. There were some distinctive folks in attendance, such as a large biker-type guy with a black jean jacket that said something England, a couple of goth/emo fans, older, senior citizens, and the one guy with a blue sleeveless tee that stood up and clapped after almost every song.

Damien Dempsey, a fellow Irish artist, opened up, or as he put it "warmed up" the crowd for her. Most of his songs consisted of just his voice and his lone guitar. Some of his songs included "Ghosts Of Overdoses" (about heroin addiction) "Sing All Our Cares Away" and "Factories". He had some good banter like how when Sinéad asked him to go on tour, he thought he would be on security detail and how when he visited NYC and was amazed how many people with different backgrounds got along so well. He also said that while on tour in the U.S., he woke up with half a hoagie and chips next to him and decidely chose to eat the hoagie for breakfast, ending his story with "I love this place."

Then we had about 20 minutes before Sinéad would perform. Brian was looking forward to a turkey burger, but they had already closed the food section. Luckily the gift shop was selling some mixed nuts to tie him over.

Okay, so there was an announcement overhead before the concert started that photography was prohibited, but this is Sinéad O'Connor. I couldn't help myself. But respectfully and just out of enjoying her voice and music, I only snapped 20 photos, which is nothing. I wasn't too worried about being caught as a woman in the first row dead center took photos with her iPhone several times.

How refreshingly SOULFUL and AMAZING was this concert?! Not only does the super-talented Sinéad sing as beautifully as I've always remembered and heard, but I was literally sucked into the music. You just want to listen to her voice, her lyrics and get lost. In her signature style, she sings from whispers to sudden bellows. She looked down for most of her performance, saying that she has a bit of stage fright, but said that if the audience just closed their eyes, she would go a bit more nuts, doing a little dance while saying so. I thought it was a little unfortunate since she has such large gorgeous eyes that you could take a peek into her soul - remember that 80's video? A few times, especially during the first song, she had some technical difficulty with the sound, although I couldn't quite hear it, and kept looking to her sound tech to fix them.

She would talk between songs, engaging the audience even more, on such topics as religion, motherhood, and mad dog. She compared television preachers, which she got addicted to watching while living in Atlanta for 3 months(?), to preachers back home, saying those back home could learn a thing or two, joking how she guessed it was okay to preach for money. She also said that a small percentage of the Christian press who interviewed her for her new album "Theology" would take offense with her saying that "God perhaps doesn't want war." She raved about one of her stagehands, saying how awesome he was because he tried to shake the hand of (or was it kiss) the queen of Poland and that he probably drank a little too much mad dog beforehand. Near the end, a baby started crying in the audience, and she was amused that someone brought a baby to the concert, going on saying babies have some telepathy and could talk to one another. When asked if she had any children, she said she has four - 20, 11, 3, and a 10-month (wow!), quite openly tapping her butt saying that was the reason why before laughing and trying to move away from the subject.

(this is what happens when you just sit and listen - it's easier to remember the banter)

Setlist, as close as I can remember, order
The Emperor's New Clothes
I Am Stretched On Your Grave
You Made Me The Thief of Your Heart
You Cause As Much Sorrow
The Lamb's Book Of Life
Never Get Old (which she said she wrote when she was 15)
Something Beautiful (Jeremiah)
Three Babies
If You Had A Vineyard (Isaiah)
Nothing Compares 2 U
Thank You For Hearing Me
The Last Day of Our Acquaintance

In This Heart (very moving acapella performance with her guitarist, bassist, and violinist)
Black Boys on Mopeds (she prepped the audience before singing this)
Back Where You Belong (from the upcoming December 25th movie about war, The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep)

If you have a chance to see her, I STRONGLY recommend it.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

trip to NYC

coming soon!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Haunted Hayride

Saturday, October 20th 2007:

To continue our Halloween-themed weekend, we joined Elmer and his co-workers at the Tomahawk Lake Haunted Hayride in Sparta, New Jersey.

We bought tickets for the 8:30pm ride, but we didn't actually get to the wagon until around 9:30pm due to the extremely long line. Unknowingly, Abegail and Ariel had already gotten in line before us, since we hadn't met previously. The rest of the group arrived around 8:45pm, and we thought it would be alright for them to join us in line, but one woman made a big fuss about it, so we all went to back to the end of the line. Turns out that that woman and her family couldn't fit in the wagon before us and ended up in our wagon.

I was ready to get spooked, but since Brian and I ended up in the center, and not on the sides of the wagon, we couldn't get the full effect. But it was rather fun and amusing nonetheless. Jocelyn was quite happy in the center, not being a huge fan of all things scary. She even had her iPod on.

We couldn't take any photos with flash on the ride, and since it was pretty much darkness out there, taking non-flash photos was useless. BUT, check out the video below - no I didn't videotape the entire 30-minute ride, and it most certainly isn't visually stimulating. It's just geared for those who went on the ride that night.

Overall, I thought that the ride was done rather well, especially located in the middle of nowhere and near a lake. But they could have used more scary folk, like instead of just one or two "attacking", they could have had 5-10 people attacking all sides. That would have been pretty scary. I really felt bad for the young kids on board who just couldn't handle it. The one nearest to me had his head buried in his hands most of the time and ended up crying. His father was SO annoying - you can hear him on the video.

After the ride, we were treated to a complimentary donut and apple cider. To Brian's disappointment, the cider wasn't warm, but the donut was yummy. Ariel actually went back and swiped another one.

Since I woke up super early for the expo, we decided to head back home instead of joining the group at a diner that had karaoke - sounded like tons of fun. Hunger sneaking up on us, we went to a 24-hour diner in Fort Lee called The Plaza around midnight, where we had some delicious breakfast food. Brian had a short stack with overeasy eggs, while I had some thick French toast with overeasy eggs. While the French toast was tasty, they didn't have confectioner's sugar sprinkled on them. Our waitress was nice, having worked at the diner for 30 years.

I thought this was amusing. It was on our paper placemats:

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Hot Hot Heat is pretty cool

Monday, October 15th 2007:

Our first concert trip to Baltimore. Hot Hot Heat, along with Bedouin Soundclash and De Novo Dahl performed at the Rams Head Live! venue, which is actually much better than the 9:30club in DC. Loved how the stage is much higher, so even those in the back can get a great view, and there's a long curvy balcony for those who don't like the main floor, although it wasn't open tonight since the crowd wasn't that huge. That was nice since it left us with options on where to stand.

After a bit of a spasm while trying to find Brian at the Burtonsville Crossing bus stop, I find out that the doors open at 7pm not 6 (I probably got the concert on Saturday mixed up with this one), so that meant we could grab a bite to eat beforehand which was perfect since we were both rather hungry. Luckily, Rams Head Live! is located right on restaurant row, near the public parking garage, so we could have a pick of places. But several were closed, as it seemed they were only open Wednesday through Saturday. It was quite the performance area - must be fun during the summer, for there looked like another concert stage was just across from the venue as well as chairs and tables outside, all in this little nook. What better place could we go to other than the Rams Head Tavern, which is affiliated and adjacent to the concert venue. There were tables outside, and not too many people, so we definitely got there early. We could pick out right away who was going to the concert.

I got the Chesapeake Cream of Crab Soup to start, and then one of the specials for the night, "Some More Heat" (themed around the concert, another special was called "Hot Hot Heat"), a yellowfin tuna wrap. Brian got the turkey burger along with a C126 Light beer. Could not eat the other half of the wrap, so I got a take out box, put it in my bag, and soon found out that I couldn't take it in with me. Awesome. We took a short trek back to the car and left it inside.

Once inside, there was clearly no need to get there early, for the main floor space was practically empty except for maybe 10 or so people lined up near the stage, a couple people sitting near the sound booth, and some people hanging out at the bar.

De Novo Dahl starts their set around 8pm. Dressed in rather funky suits, they hailed from Nashville, Tennessee. Initially their music didn't quite match what their outfits implied, but by the end, there were some good vibes. I was expecting a bit of a Scissor Sisters feel or some retro 70's. They were quite the newbies, with the bass player commenting on how awesome a crowd we were, better than the crowd in Philly, and then ended with something you would say as if you're ending a phone call. I thought it was cute.

Bedouin Soundclash - great reggae sound, quite a pleasant surprise considering I never would have thought that was their genre

I was quite trigger happy since I made my way to the second row...

Setlist not in order, minus ~2 songs:
Let Me In (opening)
Harmonicas & Tambourines
Talk To Me, Dance With Me
5 Times Out of 100
Dirty Mouth
Middle of Nowhere
Give Up?
Happiness Ltd.
No, Not Now
Goodnight, Goodnight (encore)

Great energy! Everyone around me was loving the performance, and I would look back to see that the venue was not packed. It was a fantastic treat seeing these guys perform, aside from the excessive sweating on stage and the smoking from the audience.

heh heh, remember that sweating reference?

Rock on!