Ticketmaster: How can this go on?

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In_Solvent_See-LitanyI enjoy live music and have certainly paid to see my fair share of shows.  Summer festivals, arena acts, small clubs, dive bars, it’s all pretty much fair game, but I have to say something about the way Ticketmaster is hurting everyone.  This is not a new story, and I’m sure it will come as no surprise to many readers.  Let me start with an example.

One of my all-time favorites, Skinny Puppy, is touring this Fall and I received an alert about the ticket on-sale date from Ticketmaster.  This is good.  I go to their site to buy tickets for the show, face value $24.  This is acceptable.  I request two tickets for Angie and I.  An $8.50 Convenience Charge along with a $1 Building Facility Charge  is assessed per ticket.  This, this is unacceptable.

This isn’t the first time I’ve seen this, and it is not the first time that I have made the choice to get my tickets at the box office, regardless of the inconvenience.  Everyone hates to pay more for things, but this goes beyond that.  My problem is with the way this continues to hurt artists and venues.  I urge you, don’t pay 40% more than the price set by the promoters and performers.  To try to combat this, other outlets are trying to offer more reasonable convenience charges, but a $5 fee per ticket isn’t much better.  Go to the box office, I’ll meet you there.


REVIEW: Billy Joel and Elton John’s Face 2 Face tour at Citizens Bank Park

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Thursday night, July 30th, Christy and I went to the Face 2 Face tour of Billy Joel and Elton John at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia. This is cool for two reasons: 1) neither of us had been to Citizens Bank Park before (not being baseball fans of any caliber) and 2) we were going to see a show with arguably the two biggest and best piano men in rock and roll history. I had been worried earlier in the week, as Billy Joel had been struck with the flu, forcing the cancellation of two dates in upstate NY. Elton was well, but the design of the sets, with both men playing on each other’s songs at the front and back of the show, made it next to impossible for it just to become an Elton John show. So, I worried that Billy would not be well for Philadelphia. No cancellation notices came through, so we went.

Citizens Bank Park is nice. I don’t need to tell the rest of the MLD crew that. They already know, being Philadelphia Phillies fans. It’s so nice, I actually wondered about going to games there in the future, and sitting in the 400s (which is where our tickets were, above home plate, directly across from the stage), so that if I get bored with farming (whoops, I mean BASEBALL) I can look out on a really impressive view of Philadelphia proper, and thrill to the fact that I don’t have to be in Camden to see that view. Oh… wait, this is a concert review. Right…

Elton and Billy have done this sort of package thing before, and I attended, back in 96 when it was the Heart and Soul tour. There was fire, there was gusto, there was two men who still had full heads of hair, and a Veterans Stadium jam-packed with fans all the way to the 700 level. Fast forward to now, and only Elton still has hair (plugs/hair transplants for Reg, still going strong, and looking good!), and… well, it was sort of a repeat of that 13 years-in-the-past concert, with a few notable exceptions: Billy has no hair to speak of now, except of the facial variety, Billy’s longtime drummer, Liberty DeVitto was NOT on this tour, and Elton… just didn’t seem into it. That’s okay, most of the stadium didn’t seem really into it, either. Whether it was because it was still daylight through the entire Elton John set, or he was dreading having to play the only songs Philadelphia seems to know from his catalog (which are, for the record: Saturday Night’s All Right for Fighting, Crocodile Rock, Rocket Man, Don’t Let The Sun Go Down on Me, I’m Still Standing and, yes, Philadelphia Freedom), Elton played a solid, professional and very distant set.

Billy Joel on the other hand, started out slow, and I feared the show would suck completely. I mean, the man HAD just come off 72 hours of doctor-ordered rest from a bout with the flu. Angry Young Man felt more like Tired Old Geezer in the way Billy played it, but cripes, only one song later, during Big Shot, Billy hit his stride. His between song banter hadn’t changed too much since last I’d seen him live at the Wachovia center, though he did keep it fresh for the CBP. He also gave a shout out to his daugther, Alexa Ray Joel, who was going to be playing her own show at the Tin Angel, the night after. He looked really proud to have his daughter “continue in the family business”. Even though he seemed to be just hanging on in some of his songs, Billy kicked out the piano jams with his band. It was almost a disappointment when Elton John came back for some more dueling pianos action at the end, but lo and behold, Elton finally looked like he was ENJOYING himself at the end of the concert. Go figure!

A couple of weird notes:

• Two “ain’t gonna see the sunny side of 45” blondes behind us at the show, with their obnoxious kids, kept yakking their way through most of Elton John’s set, sending the one gal’s husband repeatedly for beers. The kids themselves gave us such eloquent food for thought as this: “This song is SOOO long!” and after only one song into Elton John’s set, “All these songs sound the same.” My favorite of these mooks, though, is this brilliant line, from the blond-headed mullet wearing kid with the Phillies shirt on: “This is SOOO not the studio version. This is DEFINITELY the live version of this song.” Really? At a concert, which is LIVE, there’s the LIVE version? You don’t say, Aristotle?!

• During the last part of the show, when EJ rejoined Billy on stage, Billy had a fly swatter in his hand, that he was beating himself with, while playing one handed, and would get up from the piano during songs and walk away for bits. Antibiotics a little strong, Billy?

• Christy and I got lost searching for our car, and walked through all the surrounding parking lots, until I remembered the movable landmark of a Winnebago, which finally led us back to our car after about 30 minutes of searching. I can only chalk this up to my training with ComedySportzPhilly, and call it a callback.

Even after all this time, I still love Billy Joel. Even after being knocked down by the flu, the man can still get up and give a rock-n-roll show worth your ticket price. Tell your grandparents to try that on for size!

End verdicts: Elton John: dislike. Billy Joel: like! Mook morons behind us: dislike! View of the city: like! Sitting at the ballpark watching rock and roll with my wife: like!

Overall: Like!

Yours truly,



Funny the way THIS is…

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I can’t believe I’m about to say this, but, I think I liked some of the new Dave Matthews Band music. Heard clips from their new album, Big Whiskey and the Groogrux King, on Sound Opinions on NPR, and thought, wow, is this really the Dave Matthews Band? It actually ROCKED. As soon as I felt that, I had questions. What could be further from punk rock, and the other styles of music I love so, than the Dave Matthews Band? I’ve said it in my home blog that I dislike Dave Matthews Band, and I want to keep that record unbroken, but here I am, wondering if I’ve been wrong this whole time.

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Wedding by Freddie Mercury

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This is the greatest video I have ever seen on the internet to date.  Now if only we could get a copy of our wedding video….Where in the world is Matt Johnson?

Brian & Eileen’s Wedding Music Video. from LOCKDOWN projects on Vimeo.


It’s not too late for a review of 2008

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I was asked recently if I had any suggestions of good new music or albums that I’ve come across.  I was a little stunned by the question at first, but I put some time into it and wrote an e-mail back that I’ve included in case anyone else wanted to know what’s crossed my ears lately.

Hi xxxxx,

You had asked about any good album recommendations from 2008, so I put together a short listicon of things that might be worth checking out.  Bear in mind, some of these are things I discovered this year and aren’t quite so “new” to the rest of the world.  Let me know what you think.


My top three albums from 2008 are Firewater The Golden HourThe Faint Fasclinatiion, and Portishead Third.  The new Metallica album Death Magnetic is also surprisingly good.  The Fratellis and Dirty Pretty Things both have songs on the Run, Fatboy, Run soundtrack that are a lot of fun.  I’ve heard a lot of things used in TV shows, commercials, and while out shopping  that are surprisingly catchy this year including Placebothe Black Kids and Smoosh.  Angie uses something called Pandora (which is worth checking out if you haven’t already) when she’s at work and discovered MetricThe Sounds and Ringside using a station based on The Faint or The Teddybears or something along those lines.  We’re also into a band called Nouvelle Vague who do bossa nova covers of 80’s pop songs and through them have discovered a group called the Submarines, both are well worth checking out.