Monthly Archives: May 2008

Grayscale

I had the camera out the other night, and snapped some pictures from the balcony. They turned out pretty cool I think.

[bird in a tree]

[a tree silhouetting the sun]

Dream Theater, Opeth, Between The Buried and Me, 3 – 5/14/2008

This was a show that I had greatly anticipated for a long time. Opeth and Dream Theater are easily two of my favorite bands, so when I saw them both on the same bill many months ago, I was pretty excited. Both bands put on great live shows as well, so I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed. I made the trek down to Detroit with my dad, Jessica, and Mike.

The first band to play was 3. I thought that we’d get there with plenty of time to see the opening bands, but we didn’t. We only caught the last part of one of their songs. It sounded pretty good though, from the five minutes or so that we heard. They had a two drummer setup going, and they were seriously beating on the skins. I would have liked to see more of their set, but alas, it wasn’t meant to be. Grade: N/A

Between the Buried and Me played second. I hadn’t really been exposed to them in great depth, and for some reason I had the impression that they were going to be another dripping-with-testosterone type band (like Throwdown or Bury Your Dead), but I was pleasantly surprised that they weren’t. They do have the crappy barking vocals that is typical for a hardcore/metalcore band, but their music is way more complex. These guys can flat out play, and they pull a ton of different musical styles into their sound. It makes for a pretty cool experience. They only had a half hour so on stage, and they played all of two distinct songs. They wasted no time with blathering between songs either… they pretty much stopped only to announce the name of the second song and get a drink of water, then started playing again. They definitely merited further attention, which is why I bought three of their CDs yesterday. Grade: A

Opeth is the band that I looked forward to seeing the most out of the four. I’ve only seen them once before (compared to Jessica’s ten[!]), and that was an abbreviated set at last year’s Gigantour, where they were only able to play four songs. They ended up getting around an hour on stage this time around, and were able to play six songs – Master’s Apprentices, In My Time of Need, Baying of the Hounds, Heir Apparent, Wreath, and The Drapery Falls. They had a pretty good sampling of songs from their newer albums, but none from the older four albums, which kind of disappoints me. “Still Life” and “My Arms, Your Hearse” are my favorite albums of theirs, and with two shows under my belt, I’ve yet to see them play any songs from those albums live. Oh well… there’s always next time! Mikael Åkerfeldt does a pretty good job of making the breaks between songs interesting as well. He’s always got something funny to say, and it’s pretty obvious to me that he genuinely enjoys putting on a show for the crowd. Grade: A

Dream Theater closed out the show in the way that only they can – with authority. This was the fourth time that my dad and I saw Dream Theater together, and they’ve never once disappointed. I’ve blathered on and on about how good they are in previous posts about them, so I’ll try to save it this time around. This was the first time, however, that I saw them without having heard their most recent release. Their previous release (“Octavarium”), seemed kind of tired to me, and didn’t really grab my interest much at all. Because of that, I didn’t run out and grab their newest (“Systematic Chaos”) when it came out last year. I probably should have grabbed it sooner. They played a few tunes from it, and they were pretty good. They opened the set with an instrumental passage from one of those songs, and I was really digging it. Their set list was expansive, and pretty typical for the shows I’ve seen. They played a good sampling from their albums, and played most of the first act from “Scenes from a Memory”. They didn’t play “Home,” which kind of pissed me off since it is one of my favorite songs of theirs, but hey, you can’t win ’em all.

One neat thing they did for this tour was turning something that is typically incredibly lame into something totally awesome. Jordan Rudess (the keyboardist) played a key-tar. Yep, the dreaded 80’s pop instrument. In this case though, it was sweet because it gave him the opportunity to step out from behind is mammoth keyboard rig and get up close and personal with the fans like the other band members get to do. He mostly used it in extended “improvised” musical passages that break out of their normal song structures, and used his mobility to add a more visual flare to the frequent traded/harmonized leads that he does with John Petrucci in so many of their songs. I laughed when I first saw it, but it really did add a pretty cool element to their performance, which was already top notch.

The only downer in the show was that they played one of their new songs (I think – I didn’t recognize it) for far too long, and it totally slowed their momentum. It was a slow piece of music, and it seemed to go on FOR EVER. Otherwise, they were phenomenal as always. Grade: A

Hot Damn.

I’ve talked about Meshuggah once or twice here, and it’s pretty safe to say that I’m a fan. Their sound is abrasive – scratch that – caustic to most ears, but I love it. There’s so much musical skill in that band that’s its not even funny. They’ve laid siege to my last.fm profile over the past few months, and for good reason. They rule.

So does this kid. Apparently the band held some sort of competition to see who could play one of their new songs (“Bleed”) the best on drums, and this 14 year old kid won.

I’ve been playing guitar for more than 2/3 of this kid’s life, and I’ve achieved nowhere near the mastery this kid displays. Congrats Zach Schiermann, you rule.

Addendum: For whatever reason, I feel like making mention of this. For the song “Rational Gaze,” which is one of my favorite ‘of the moment’ songs, Meshuggah plays on 8 string gutars, tuned to F. Yes, F. One half-step short of a full octave below a normal guitar tuning. Each guitarist is practically playing a bass. Insanity. Delicious auditory insanity.

Crisis Averted

The situation with my apartment complex has been resolved. Apparently they misplaced the payment records for around 30 residents, so i wasn’t the only one that came to them completely pissed off. Everything is kosher again, but I took my opportunity to tell the rep I was dealing with how dissatisfied I was with the customer service in their organization. I still can’t understand how they wouldn’t attempt to make a phone call before initiating legal procedures to kick someone out of their home. Perhaps that’s a reason I’m not in the apartment renting business.

So. Pissed. Off.

They did it to me again.

I came home from work today in a pretty decent mood. I was jamming out to some good old viking metal, with little on my mind but conquering ancient lands using nothing but sword and shield. Okay, I really wasn’t thinking about conquering ancient lands, but it fit. Sue me. Anyway, I get home and check my mail, since I’m expecting my Dream Theater/Opeth tickets to show up soon. No tickets, but I did find a letter from the apartment complex.

They fucked up my payment again, and once again sent me a legal-looking document stating that I owe them money. The problem is that I don’t. I checked my bank statement, and they debited my account on 5/1, the day it was due. I’ve got a confirmation from their online billing system stating that I did indeed schedule payment for that date.

I really don’t understand how they could screw that up. My account with them is directly tied to my apartment. When I go to make a payment, the interface has my address and unit number right there at the top next to my name. I started making payments this way because I figured it would be harder for them to screw up. Apparently I have underestimated them.

To make things more aggravating, I couldn’t go deal with it today. I got home and opened the letter at about 7:05, and their office closed at 7:00. I went up to their office anyway to see if anyone was lingering, but no. At 7:12, the place was completely deserted. Its probably good for them though. After listening to that viking metal, I was ready to do battle – verbally at least.

Now I See Where I’ve Gone Wrong

[Hold a meeting!]

Everything makes sense now.

Quick Update

Touching on a few things from my last post

Moving the bed to the other bedroom seems to have helped. I’ve slept pretty well the past few days. This is a good thing.

I was finally able to get the firmware on my RAID card updated. It only took about 5 hours worth of time, 5 wasted CD-ROMs, and a lot of annoyance. The result? The RAID array rebuilt itself for two days (pretty damn long for an array of that size), and the card promptly kernel panicked upon reaching 100% on the rebuild process. At least it didn’t start over again like it had in the past.

I think I might need professional help. This morning, I built a small cardboard baffle (?) to direct air out of a HVAC duct towards the servers in my closet. People more sane than myself would probably say things like “you should have fewer computers”, “why do you have so many computers?”, or even the dreaded “you’re freakin’ weird!” I, however, build cardboard ducting.

[cardboard baffle]

I also caught this guy outside my window the other morning. I’m surprised the picture came out so clear… the window I took the picture through is dirty as hell.

[a bluejay on a branch]