Posts tagged Music

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The Audible Landscape of Monocyte

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I’ve been raving about Monocyte since issue #1 came out back in October. See exhibit 1: Monocyte #1 review. And exhibit 2: Monocyte #2 review. I’ve also mentioned in each review that Menton3 was planning to release a musical accompaniment to Monocyte, under his music project Saltillo. The time has come, ladies and gents. I was honored to be given the chance to preview this album and share my thoughts with Nerds in Babeland readers; I was not disappointed.

Back when I reviewed Monocyte #1, I read about Menton’s musical project, Saltillo, and looked it up. I bought the first album, Ganglion, because I was immediately taken by the gorgeous, orchestral violins it featured. Therefore, I had a little bit of an idea of what to expect from Saltillo; I did not expect to have most of my expectations blown to bits with Monocyte.

Monocyte starts out haunting, feverish, anxious. There is a sense of something very heavy and dark going on, but it’s exhilarating and urgent, like a thick fog rushing over your ears. That all sounds so dramatic, I know, but it fits, trust me. Reading Monocyte the comic, if you had asked me what that world sounds like, I could not imagine how to answer. This album really is perfect in portraying the story of Monocyte and the warring, immortal races he has been appointed to end forever. It’s a landscape of brutality, a deep, dark sort that we all like to pretend doesn’t exist in our world. It’s also fragile, sick and boiling over with fear. The album Monocyte acts like a tour guide through this place and does it gracefully.

I admit, I have very little experience with ‘industrial’ music beyond a lot of Nine Inch Nails and Portishead, so I can’t throw out any comparisons for you. Honestly, I don’t think there are any, as this album has a special purpose and definitely one the most unique things I’ve heard. Soft, melodic violins and cello battle for space with powerful beats, beautifully pained female vocals and sophisticated sound bites that seem to come from windows in time.

There aren’t many albums or bands I can listen to while writing, most tend to be distracting or disruptive to my thought process. Monocyte by Saltillo became my go-to sound for writing because it is the exact opposite; this album is both intense and soothing at the same time, creating a seamless flow of mood from song to song. It’s an excellent album that I’ll go back to again and again, probably each time I read the Monocyte comic to remind me of what it all can be together, and every time I need something ‘just right’ to find my creative mojo.

Saltillo is available on Storming the Base, from Artoffact Records.

Saltillo Gatekeepers preview

Saltillo Proxy preview clip

 

Interview with Alyson Greenfield

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I recently had the pleasure of interviewing one of my favorite local musicians, Alyson Greenfield. The interview took place the same day as her performance at the Hillstock Festival in Brooklyn, NY. The following video is audio from our interview with photos I took during her performance at the festival. Editing of all materials was done with the help of Steven Wagenheim.

 

And here is a bonus question we did at the end.

 

For more information on Alyson and her projects, you can follow her on Facebook and Twitter. She also has a Bandcamp page where you can find her Press Play project, mentioned in the interview.

 

If you live in/near the area, please come to her EP Release on July 18th at Mercury Lounge. A free copy of the EP is included with purchase of admission if you tell the door person you are there to see Alyson Greenfield. As a preview, here is a video I took of Uncharted Places, which is the song mentioned during our interview.

 

Thank you to Alyson for agreeing to the interview, and thanks to Steven for his editing skills.

 

Edit: The album is now available for download on Bandcamp and iTunes. Thank you for your support.

Nerd Rap: A Gateway Drug That Won’t Put You In Jail.

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Oh Hai Internets! I have been spending a lot of time in my own head as of late (what with my jaw trying to kill me. Long story) and I finally feel well enough to dropkick the moon!

During the time that I have been immersed in a spiral of hate, I have backed away from websites so as to not angrily type something. Instead, I focused all of my energy on something that I love beyond measure – MUSIC!

To give this the nerdy twist it deserves, I have been infatuated as of late with two new types of rap that are quickly growing near and dear to my heart. No, it’s not Jonathan Coulton’s cover of “Baby Got Back”, even though that cuddles me with the gentle caress of a Peter Gabriel song (shut up). What I’m referring to are the completely different but totally palatable nerd rap forms of nerdcore and chap-hop.

But Ali, what are these two that you speak of?

NERDCORE!

First, I will start with Nerdcore. On the Netflix, I took a gander at the documentary “Nerdcore Rising” and found that it’s… well… nerdy rap. I wish I could describe it more definitively, but if you have read anything by me you know that I type faster than I think (and you get a bunch of internal dialogue in the process). These artists rhyme about anything from politics to science fiction and the name seems to have been coined by self described Nerdcore Musician MC Frontalot in the 2000 song “Nerdcore Hiphop”.

Here’s one of my favorites from MC Frontalot

From what I can tell the majority of this genre is self-published online and it is so full of DIY possibilities I bet Jackie’s brain is exploding somewhere. In fact, I want Jackie to do a nerdcore rap under the guise MC Cephalopod.

There isn’t a specific sound to this genre of hip hop, but a common theme is sampling from the most random places imaginable. Classical Music, movies, video games, and if it hasn’t been done yet, I would imagine samples from beakers and test tubes filled with various elements.

If you have any interest in checking out some artists, please have a listen to MCFrontalot, Optimus Rhyme (raddest name EVER!), MC Plus+, and Monzy. Or, if you need a gateway into this subgenre, listen to Weird Al Yankovic’s “White and Nerdy” parody as it steeps your ear canal in a three minute nerdgasm.

Chap-Hop: The Gentleman’s Rap.

Chap-Hop is infinitely harder to explain as there is no dedicated wiki page to it and that is just rotten.

I do not know the origin of Chap-Hop, only how I was introduced to it. I had just finished podcasting with a bunch of friends and we were playing the “Have you seen it?” game with the YouTubes. This game is basically showing people something that you like that they have never seen. Enter Professor Elemental’s “Fighting Trousers”.

I cannot stop listening to his CD “The Indifference Engine”. As you listen through the tracks, you find that there are traditional rap themes tackled in each song. There is the dis song, the song about the ladies, the song about imbibing copious amounts of mind altering substances, the song about money, the song about living conditions.

I could probably sum this up by saying that Professor Elemental is a Steampunk inspired character that burst forth from the mind of rapper Paul Alborough. I would love to talk to this man, but I’m afeared that I might daze out as I’m a sucker for the English accent.

He is currently in a feud with another Chap-Hop artist named Mr. B. As this is a very obscure art form, I have no other recommendations for you. I do, however, want him to come to the US for a lengthier tour than the three day stint at the Steampunk World’s Fair this May. I know this isn’t a platform to beg for money, but if someone wants to get me a ticket and hotel room I will go to the Steampunk World’s Fair and do video recaps. It’s a sacrifice I would be willing to make.

Ozzy Osbourne

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Its hard to think that a 62 year old man can capture a crowd from on a stage to an almost sold out arena. The presence is still monstrous and even sitting off to the side and semi far from the stage the energy still will fill you to go crazier then you ever have before. This man I speak of is the one and only prince of darkness, Ozzy Osbourne. After a short movie, which was hilarious and can be seen here_> Ozzy Intro, the band gets into place and this man clad all in black with a sparkling cross on the front steps across the stage to take his place in front of the microphone. He opens his mouth and the arena erupts in noise. The energy is not only filled with love for the music but a love from the band to the auditing crowd.

There were a few songs played from his new album, Scream, and then some older songs we all know and can’t help but headbang to. Every once in a while Ozzy would turn from the crowd and dunk his head in water flipping his long hair back wetting the first row of people. As the energy of the show increased so did the amount of water being thrown off the stage until the point came that a huge hose was hoisted in Ozzy’s arms and water burst onto the crowd. The metaphorical build up culminated to this burst multiple times as the intensity would rise from certain songs and Ozzy felt the need to release himself on his herd of dark followers. Quite a spectacle from the seats up the side of the arena, where my iPhone was safe and able to capture some of the destruction.

Not only was there waterworks but also a plethora of pyrotechnics. At certain points when the bass drum hit a loud band and fireworks erupted from the stage in all directions. There was even an amazing display where these shards of light and fire of white and red were falling onto Ozzy like his emergence from the other side. You almost could image him levitating from a coffin with his arms crossed and sharp canines poking from his closed mouth and his eyes opening slowing to pierce your soul.

Not only was there an emergence from the prince himself but also from different members of his band. One in particular that would catch anyone’s eye was when the drums took off in an amazing solo intermission. I say take off because literally as the drummer was building steam and settling into a violent drumroll with the double bass drum the small stage where his kit sat began to lift toward the sky. All you see is lights and smoke from below pushing this amazing performance upward as he hits climax and stand with one arm toward the sky demanding praise from the crowd, which did ensue the more he would play and stop and play and stop.

Not only did I get the opportunity to watch this amazing performance but the opening band was impressive as well. After putting out a self titled album, featuring everyone from Fergie to Ozzy himself, Slash has been touring with Ozzy and opening for him with a band put together and featuring one of his singing contributors on his album to sing for the tour. It was a treat to see Slash shred on guitar his new and old songs but it was an even bigger surprise to find out the singer was the one and only Myles Kennedy from Alter Bridge. All I can say is I was almost a catastrophe from leaning forward to see and hear more from him.

This night was a blast from the past and made my veins course with adrenaline and a need that could only be filled by the prince of darkness himself. Ozzy may not be the young man he once was when he started Black Sabbath but he still demands a certain presence onstage that will make even the casual listener bow to his will. Don’t let the age fool you because he is still as crazy as ever.

If you get the chance to check out Ozzy’s new album, Scream, it is definitely interesting and a fun listen.

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Interview: [Ghost This]

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The following is an email interview I conducted with a nerd rock band “Ghost This“.  The band had a lot of amusing and interesting things to say, which made the interview a lot of fun to work on. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.  When you finish, be sure to check them out on Facebook or Twitter and get more acquainted with their music.  And now, I present to you: Ghost This.


1) How did you all meet?

Alex, Claude, and Sam grew up together in small suburban village quite similar to those found in the beginning of many Japanese RPGs. They spent their days frolicking in the sunflower fields, watching Toonami and judging their peers. After their high school graduation the three decided to do what every group of high school friends do when they are on a long standing television show:  go to the same college. It was there that the three encountered a wild Jeremy, a fearsome yet majestic creature.  After observing it in its native habitat, they promptly subdued and captured it.  Having tamed the mighty beast, the trio trained Jeremy to be a fantastic drummer, but neglected to teach him some skills which some would deem necessary in a civilized world (such as language and bowel control.)  From there they become a mighty foursome – bound by music and contractual obligations, [ghost this] was created; and God, for the first time in all of eternity, felt the emotion known as fear.

The lamer, yet more truthful version:

Alex, Claude and Sam grew up together in Mt. Kisco, NY then went to college together at SUNY Binghamton. There we met Alex’s roommate Jeremy, who we found out could play the drums.  From there [ghost this] was officially started and has since progressed to where we are now.

2) What made you want to specifically focus on nerd music?

Its not so much that we chose to focus on nerd music as we chose to write about what we know and like. We all love Batman, so songs about him come easy. As for songs like Twilight Sucks, Green lantern is better, the Twilight portion took… research. A huge portion of why me make music is because its fun, so we write about things that we think are fun.

3)What things did you nerd out over growing up? And what do you nerd over today?

Today we all nerd out over music, movies, Adult Swim, Batman, stuff like that.

As for specifics:

Alex:  growing up – Batman, music, Ninja Turtles, Darkwing Duck, Biology, Orchestra

today – social media, the music industry, and how they relate

Claude:  growing up – Power Rangers, Goosebumps, Animorphs

today – Comics in general but specifically Green Lantern (and its greatness relative to Twilight), One Piece

Jeremy:  growing up – Band geek, Pokemon, video games, Power Rangers, gaming magazines

today – Sports, being in a band

Sam:  growing up – LEGO, Star Wars (I wanted to be a Jedi when I grew up), science (just in general), ReBoot and eventually computers.

today – Minecraft, technology in general, Firefly

4) I noticed that some of your songs are stylistically very different from each other (ex: Cape & Cowl is much rougher than Chemical Dreams). Do different members write different song styles, or do you all contribute and that creates the wide range?

Some of the differences come from how we recorded the songs. Our first attempts at recording came before we picked up any actual recording equipment. Cape & Cowl was originally recorded with the built-in microphone in one of our computers while it was sitting on top of a washing machine. As for the overall song styles, we just sort of write whatever kind of music we’re feeling at the moment. Since we didn’t go into this saying, “this is how we’re going to sound,” we have plenty of options for exploring different sounds and styles of music. We’ll write music ranging from rap to rock and from blues to metal.

5) What are your plans for the immediate future? And where do you see the band heading down the road?

Right now we’re working on writing new music, recording said music, and trying to get people to listen to it.  Now that we’ve made progress on more new material, we’re going to start playing more shows, which should be a lot of fun.  We’ll take the band as far as it’ll go. As long as we can keep coming up with new music and people seem to like it, we’ll keep it going.

6) Do you see nerd music becoming more mainstream someday? Is that something that you would even want?

Nerd music lyrically appeals to a certain audience, and while the nerd population seems to be growing at an astounding rate, the direction in which mainstream music is heading doesn’t seem to point towards nerd music.  But who knows? As Alex once sad “When 80s music got too poppy, grunge came along as a reaction.  When music got too trippy and complex, punk music came along to bring it back to basics.” So could nerd music be the gross afterbirth of today’s club-centric music? We can certainly hope so. As for us wanting it becoming mainstream, if it means we end up making enough money to do this full time without starving to death, then maybe nerd music becoming mainstream wouldn’t be so bad.

Final thoughts:

We’re really just in this to have fun and make good music for people to enjoy. We’re also having a blast on twitter; interacting with fans and getting real feedback from fellow nerds with excellent ears for music. We love that music fans aren’t passive observers anymore in the music experience – they’re a part of the experience, even a part of the creative process. We try to respond to every fan who talks to us, and look forward to interacting with more of the awesome people who like our music.

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A Very Beatle Christmas

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So I know you guys probably didn’t have this on your lists, but I am, as I have declared before here on Nerds in Babeland, a Beatlemaniac. So naturally, I have the entire collection on mp3. And in the spirit of giving, I have decided to share them with you.

Every year that they were together, the fab four (yes, I call them that all the time for real) would record a short Christmas greeting to send out to the official Beatle fan club. From a nerd standpoint this is an amazing condensed way to walk through the career of the Beatles; in the beginning they seem perky and happy and succinct; towards the middle they seem, you know, stoned, and in the end they’re not even in the same room as each other. I guess that about says it all, and in some ways it makes me sad, but there is, to me, little more satisfying than John Lennon (and the others…who were they again?) wishing me a merry Christmas.

From Them to You:

1963 // 1964 // 1965 // 1966 // 1967 // 1968 // 1969

1965 outtake #1 // 1965 outtake #2

(alternatively, grab the .zip or browse the whole folder)

Take them. Listen to them. Feel Christmas joy. Maybe some Christmas nostalgia and Christmas sadness. But mostly Christmas joy. Especially when you listen to the 1965 Christmas record outtake #1, in which you can tell, they tried very hard to record a Christmas record, three times, and the first two times they realized after several minutes that in fact these records had nothing to do with Christmas. ’65 outtake 1 features perhaps the greatest moment ever in recorded Beatles history (in my opinion)–a lengthy improvised skit on eating babies. Because I know when I heard a sound clip of babies crying and I have to improvise some dialogue, my brain automatically jumps to “baby eating.”

(Actually it does.)

Happy Christmas from John, Paul, George, Ringo, and Nerds in Babeland.

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‘Monster in my Room’ Cancer Fundraiser

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There is this independent musician that I know. His name is David Ritter (@MacMufasa). He’s doing something pretty awesome for this little boy, named Aiden Reed, who has leukemia. I’ll let David tell you all about it:

This is a song I wrote after reading about Aidan Reed who is 5 and has leukemia. He likes to draw monsters and his family decided to try and raise money for the treatments by selling his artwork. It has been working!

With that spirit in mind, I wrote this song in hopes of raising more money for Aidan and his family to pay for his treatments. I have a 7 year old boy and I cannot imagine what they are going through. My heart goes out to them.

If you can, please purchase this song and help Aidan so that he will get to a speedy remission soon. If you can’t, simply spread the word about helping Aidan.

I hope you like your song Aidan.

The song is really nice. David has set the price to “pay what you want”. So what that means is, if you want to pay 0.50¢, $1.00, $2.00, or even $20.00, just enter the amount and download the song. 100% of the proceeds will be going to Aiden’s family to help pay for his medical bills.

I’ve embedded the track below. If you are viewing this in an RSS reader, you’ll need to visit the site in order to listen or you can click this handy dandy link.

Monster in My Room

There’s a monster in my room
He hangs out there at night
And eyes and teeth they glowing blue
He hangs on my wall with a screw

My Monster fights with me
against the cancer
inside my little body
My monster says:
Oh don’t you fear
My little friend
It will all be ok
Just lay your little head beside me
and I’ll hum this tune and pray

My Monster fights with me
against the cancer
inside my little body
and he says:
“Hey – I’m gonna getcha- I’m coming after you”
“I’ll get ya, track ya, bend and mix ya”
“put you on your back and pin ya”
“Cancer’s gonna lose”

All the monsters I draw
they’re all on my side
Like Indiana Jones
Treasure & adventure
If I could have my way
I’d take out my whip and slay
all of this disease and wipe
it all away
“I’ll get ya, track ya, bend and mix ya”
“put you on your back and pin ya”
“Cancer you’re gonna lose”

From www.macmufasa.com (share this quote)

Awesome Shop Vac Video

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There is this guy I’ve had the awesome fortune to interview on my Geeky Pleasures radio show. You may have heard of him. His name is Jonathan Coulton (@jonathancoulton). Yesterday was his 40th birthday. There is this other guy. You probably have not heard of him, even so I have. His name is Jarrett Heather (@spaceparanoids). I know of his work through this song contest called Masters of Song Fu. JoCo was one of the masters. For Joco’s birthday, Jarrett created the following really amazing  animated kinetic typography video.

And if you do not read JoCo’s blog, then you’ll want to check out this very special birthday video, created by his fans.

A Nerdy Girls Reviews a Nerdy Band

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On Saturday night, I had the pleasure of going to see Weezer’s “Memories” tour. The venue? The Gibson Amphitheater, or formally known as the Universal Amphitheater, in Los Angeles, CA. They’re doing two shows at each stop on the tour – first night is a play through of ‘The Blue Album’ and the second night is a play through of ‘Pinkerton’. Now, ‘Pinkerton’ is my favorite album of theirs, so as soon as tickets went on sale, I bought two tickets. I’ve never had the pleasure seeing this band perform live. And I gotta say, I wasn’t disappointed one bit. They are a GREAT band live.

The evening began with their “hits”, as was billed on the tour heading (‘Greatest Hits’ plus the respective albums). They  began their set with their most recent single ‘Memories’ to get the crowd into the mood. They continued through the ‘00s by playing most of the radio hits throughout the decade. I was thoroughly pleased when they played ‘Perfect Situation’. That’s one of my favorite songs off of ‘Make Believe’ and one of my favorite music video of theirs. What was special about this song when they performed it tonight – Jorge Garcia (Hurley from LOST, and the man who’s face graces their most recent album ‘Hurley’) joined the band and sang with River as a duet. Here’s the video, if you’d like to check it out.

Most people were hoping they would play a few B-sides and they did not disappoint. They played ‘You Gave Your Love To Me Softly’, which can be found on the ‘Angus’ soundtrack. They also played ‘Suzanne’ from the ‘Mallrats’ soundtrack. I won’t lie. I cried a little bit hearing ‘You Gave’ played live. And I was screaming and bopping around in the audience.

Throughout the show, River (lead singer of ‘Weezer’) would stroll through the crowd while singing. It was great to see him interact with the crowd, and never once did he push anyone away. Even when he was mobbed by a ton of people. He just stood there and continued singing, while being touched and fondled by those surrounding him.

They ended the first half with ‘Only in Dreams’. Now, I’ve never seen one of their shows live, but I knew from lore that that was the song they tended to end their shows with. They ended the first half with that and it was pretty spectacular. If you’re unfamiliar with the song, there is a HUGE build-up with the guitars playing a riff over and over and then crescendos into an all out rock anthem. It’s fantastic. As soon as the first half ended, I became giddy. I knew what was coming next and really couldn’t wait.

The second half began with one of the guys sharing slides from pictures of early band memories. Then, they launched into the album ‘Pinkerton’. They played through it in its entirety. To hear ‘Tired of Sex’ and ‘The Good Life’ were the highlights for myself. The energy that River carried throughout the show was amazing. It was funny, the first half he was wearing his trademark glasses, but then for the second half – it was like we traveled back in time to 1996. He wasn’t wearing his glasses, and he was wearing the button-up shirts that I remember him wearing as a teenager. It was fantastic.

If you have the opportunity to see this tour, do it. Don’t hesitate. Even if you’re not a huge fan of Weezer’s, they put on such a fantastic show. I’d say the price is worth it to check it out. You will probably end up becoming a huge fan by the end of the show. There were a few songs I would have loved to have heard live (‘Jamie’ and ‘Mykel and Carli’), but over-all, it was probably one of the best concerts I’ve been to. Definitely in my top 3. I would have loved to have seen ‘The Blue Album’ the night before, but I’m at peace with not being able to. Besides – ‘Pinkerton’ is my favorite album of theirs. If ever there was a concert I had to see, it was this one.

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A Perfect Circle.. Avalon, L.A. (night 1)

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Waiting in the cold for a band I am not head over heels in love with would not be what I would have wanted to do last night but after seeing them play I totally take that back and I love the idea all over again.  In case you didn’t know I used to follow Nine Inch Nails around the country and so I have slept outside and in cars, taken showers in Target bathrooms and survived on nothing but cigarettes, red bull and chips.  Those times are long behind me though and I haven’t found a band since to follow around but I would totally consider this band if I was more well versed with them.

The show at the Avalon on Nov 8th was amazing, plus the Avalon is a pretty cool looking venue.  First thing was the fact that there was no opening band, but we did get to listen to about an hour or so of Abba music.  I was having fun dancing to the few songs I did know of theirs and then laughing when the people around me were getting annoyed and saying they were in purgatory.  We were also enjoying seeing the girls on the balcony watching as the techs were getting ready.  One of them happened to be Paz, an old band member who would play strings and piano in the studio.  At one point during the show she actually climbed down off the balcony and we all thought she might get on stage but was only seen minutes later back up there eating a banana.

During their set there was plenty of stopping from the band to switch from song to song.  Maynard introduced the band one by one at points and then would pick on the bassist, who is a well known guy but hasn’t played with them before.  (Matt McJunkins)  Billy Howerdel and his amazing guitaring was running around on stage occasionally looking at the crowd.  He was scouring for ‘his’ fans and staring at them intensely.  James Iha actually told jokes on stage in between songs.  One was, “what never goes out of style, a smile.”  He laughed and told us how he thought it was funny.  Then there is Josh Freese.  If you have seen him then you know he is always having a good time.  He is infectious to watch and we all Love him.  Maynard was out in his awesome plaid shirt and crazy hair as always singing in the back left corner of the stage with sunglasses on the entire time.  He seemed comfortable and to be having fun as well.  There was even a point where he threw a bottle of Fiji Water at Josh and he caught it without missing a beat on the drums. Overall I would have to say the entire show was amazing cause you just felt like you were watching an older band just have fun.

Setlist was as follows:

(All of Mer De Noms)

David Bowie cover- Ashes to Ashes

John Lennon cover- Imgaine

After playing all of Mer De Noms Troy Van Leeuwan came out to perform with them and guest star on the backup guitar.  It was amazing because when he was introduced Maynard couldn’t stop talking about his shoes and how much he wanted them.  They agreed on a price, 2 Hungarian dollars, which later turned into two hours.  Troy looked amazing as always.  A nice pinstriped suit and white southern gator-like shoes, but to my surprise no tie.  It was nicely complemented by his buttons undone and being able to see his chest though.  His hair was the same as always.  Such a stylish addition to the line up I’d say.

After Imagine they ended the show.  Maynard was happy and said he would see us all the next night when they would be playing Thirteenth Step.  Hopefully I will see them tonight and be happy to let you all know what crazy awesome fun things they do tonight.

Jess Dp

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