Monthly Archives: August 2009

Lacuna Coil Conert Review

[Note: This article was originally published on July 17, 2009 on my new web site, www.zestfulcontemplation.com.  If you enjoyed this article and would like to read my more recent articles, please feel free to pay my new site a visit.  Thanks.]

Having managed to see Lacuna Coil live three times previously, it was refreshing to finally see them as the headlining act, rather than a support band.  With their June 6 performance at the Diamond Ballroom, the first in the North American leg of their headlining tour for their new album, they overtake Rob Zombie as the band I have seen the most times live.

This is not without good reason.

They are a fantastic band to see live.  They have a great stage presence and energy and, like all good live performances, it really shows through that these guys love what they’re doing.  Considering how heavy Lacuna Coil tends to tour, the fact that they still enjoy it and put on such a good show is pretty remarkable.

Going back to my Rob Zombie reference a minute ago, however, it is worth mentioning that seeing the two bands perform together twice is not the only connection the bands have with one another.  They also share a penchant for short set lists.

Having seen Zombie give the same one hour and fifteen minute on-the-dot set three times, I always came away satisfied but wanting more.  His concerts are full of enough energy, showmanship, and spectacle that their short length doesn’t come as a great detriment.  I always thought that his concerts would mark the low end of the length spectrum for full concerts, however.

Up until now, I was right.

Lacuna Coil performed for barely over one hour.  One hour and six or seven minutes, to be precise.  I won’t pull any punches here – had I not seen them live three times before, performing many of the same songs, this would have been incredibly disappointing.  Even though the ticket price was fairly low, after waiting for three hours through crappy support bands, one hour is just not enough for a headlining act.  Period.

Luckily for my own experience anyway, it only came as a minor disappointment because a missing fifteen minutes or so isn’t quite as devastating when you’ve seen them three times prior.

In this light, the fact that the concert was so damn much fun while it lasted presents the concert goer with a dilemma.  On the one hand, what’s there was so good that you might not care it was short.  On the other hand, it was so good that you would have given anything for just a few more songs to make it that much more fulfilling.

I’ll spare you too much detail about the support bands.  Suffice it to say I wish they had gotten out of the way for Lacuna Coil to play much earlier and none of them blew me away like Volbeat did opening for Nightwish at the same venue not too long ago.

Dommin opened and was somewhat unimpressive musically, but at least had decent stage presence and a humble, nice, approachable quality suitable for an opening band.

Kill Hannah was third and, while their music isn’t exactly my style, they impressed me a lot more than I expected them to.  They had a great on-stage persona, they seemed like really cool, down to earth guys, and they gave an energetic, enjoyable performance with a few songs that were much catchier than I expected.  Not sure I’ll be seeking out their music in studio form, but they were by far the best opener.  The green lasers mounted on the ends of their guitars were a nice touch.

Seventh Void was sandwiched in the middle of those two.  They sucked, quite frankly.  They came off as arrogant and trying way too hard to be cool.  Musically they were completely uninteresting to me.  Their songs seemed to go on forever and everything ran together into one long blur of uninteresting, mid-paced, generic riffage.  The crowd seemed to agree with me, as the place seemed rather subdued and bored when the other two openers actually got decent responses.  I even got the feeling a few people might have been there to see Kill Hannah as much as Lacuna Coil.

The Diamond Ballroom itself is a bit of a dump.  It’s located in the middle of nowhere, has a gravel parking lot, and what looks to be a large trash pile out back and a discarded, decaying old trailer off to the side of the place.

Still, the venue provides an extremely intimate atmosphere for live performances and the two shows I have seen there (Lacuna Coil and the aforementioned Nightwish show) will easily go down on my short list of favorite concerts.

As an added bonus, their sound seems to be mixed rather well, which is a nice change from damn near every other concert I’ve been too which either had sound level problems or was so loud it was distorted and unpleasant.  The Diamond Ballroom certainly keeps it loud, and perhaps uncomfortably so for its size, but the sound is good at least.  And as I choose to be a total square and wear earplugs during concerts (I make no apologies for my lameness here, by the way, as it is worlds more comfortable for me, not to mention safer) the volume wasn’t really a concern.

I do think I would have appreciated it if the place wasn’t running more than a full hour behind.  Call me crazy, but I consider it a little unprofessional when the advertised time for the doors to open is 6:00 p.m. and I finally get in at 7:15 or so.

I also got the distinct impression that perhaps the concert organizers had tried to pack just a little too much action into such a small tour.  Three warm up bands in a venue this size before a one hour set from the headliner just seems a little excessive.  The poor roadies were struggling to put one band on stage an hour.  There were no fewer than three full sound checks.  Lacuna Coil didn’t take the stage until just after 10:00, a full three hours after the advertised start of the show.
I’ll make no secret of the fact that this is probably another reason their short set didn’t bother me so much.  By the time everything was finally finished I was so exhausted that being able to go back to my car and actually sit down was like a little gift from heaven.  I don’t even think you have to be as horribly out of shape as I am to think that standing on your feet for five hours for a concert, most of that spent waiting for doors to open or bands to get set up, is more than a little tiring.

But, as I said, it was all worth it.  Lacuna are a terrific live band and I can’t possibly think of a better place to see them than in an intimate venue such as the Diamond Ballroom.  The band was having a great time on stage, the audience was loving it, and Cristina’s voice was there in full force, as impressive as it always is.  There was plenty of good crowd interaction and between song banter, but not so much that it slowed things down or got in the way.

As a huge Lacuna Coil fan, I was somewhat disappointed with their most recent album.  I thought it was far too repetitive and lacking the creative spark and energy that made their previous releases so memorable.  On that note, while new songs did comprise a decent portion of the short set, not only did they not overwhelm the old favorites, but they also work far better live than they do as studio versions.  The energy infused into the tracks by the band on stage adds new life to songs that were flat in the studio and the atmosphere of the concert means the repetition is both less noticeable and less important.

Actually, as much as I may have been disappointed with their new album, reflecting on the concert I think it was actually refreshing that they played a good number of the new ones.  Perhaps a product of being so short, their set list consisted of nothing I hadn’t seen them do live before outside of the new tracks (and one old slower tune, Entwined, that I will admit to not actually having recognized at the time as I don’t listen to their oldest material much).  Not seeing another old favorite or a slightly different lineup other than the bare essential hits they’ve been playing at every concert they’ve given for such a long time is a little disappointing, but hey, don’t fix what isn’t broken.  All the songs I had seen them perform before were still as full of energy, excitement, and fun as the other times I’ve seen them, and perhaps even better due to the small venue.

I stand by my assertion that, gripes and all, it is one of the best concerts I have been to.  Lacuna Coil is a band tailor-made for a small venue like this and it was fantastic to finally see them in their element in a headlining gig.  They seem to be a very down-to-earth group and this really carries over into their shows, even on a larger scale, but especially in such a small venue.  It just feels like a bunch of friends getting up on stage and rocking the hell out because that’s what they love to do.

If you ever get the chance to see them, do it.  You won’t regret it.  I’ve seen them four times and I sure haven’t.

Side Note: Whist at this concert, I was lucky enough to experience first-hand a pretty healthy majority of the variety of concert-goers featured on Cracked.com’s list of 7 Obnoxious Assholes that Show Up at Every Concert.

Set List:

To the Edge
Fragments of Faith
Swamped
I Won’t Tell You
Not Enough
Fragile
Entwined
Closer
Daylight Dancer
I’m not Afraid
Enjoy the Silence

Encore:
Heaven’s a Lie
Spellbound
Our Truth

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A Magical Musical Obsession

[Note: This article was originally published on July 15, 2009 on my new web site, www.zestfulcontemplation.com. If you like this article and would like to read my newer material, please feel free to visit.  Thanks.]

That rarest of wild beasts, a new Rammstein single was leaked onto YouTube last night in what one can only assume was a tremendously early fashion, causing all sorts of commotion among fans, at least one fan web site to close their forums (“due to piracy” their site states – wish I had been awake to see what happened there), and undoubtedly some very panicked members of Rammstein’s management – and possibly the band themselves.

But as much as I would like to gush about the new single, or describe it and how excited I am about what it might mean for Rammstein’s music, or, even better yet, repost it myself and get into loads of trouble, I’m not going to do any of those because that’s not what this story is about.

Listening to this new single last night has only reaffirmed what I have already long known – this band holds a very special place in my heart.

I know that sounds horribly cheesy, and it is, but I don’t mean that in some sort of obsessed stalker fashion.  What I mean is simply that there is no other band that I hold in quite the same regard as Rammstein and I wouldn’t give that relationship up for the world.

The key to my special feelings about this band lies in the fact that they were a formative band for me.  They were one of the few, the key, the building block bands that defined my musical tastes when I was younger.  They struck a chord with my tastes so strongly that it almost feels as if every other band I’ve ever listened to is somehow judged against their sound.

I don’t even mean to say that Rammstein are the most talented band around or that they make the best music ever. Simply because my biased ears tell me that is true doesn’t mean it’s true for any more normal person.

That’s exactly what I love about this musical relationship, though – unlike every other band I listen to, I seem to be relatively incapable of objectivity when it comes to Rammstein.  I just love them.

There is no other band I listen to, out of the many occupying my iTunes library, that gets me anywhere close to as excited as I get when hearing new Rammstein music.  It is a rare experience indeed, as Rammstein is certainly not the most prolific of bands, but that just makes it all the more special.

Listening to new music from the group, such as the track making the rounds last night, produces a feeling of pure joy in me unmatched by no other entertainment experience I’ve ever been a part of.  I’ve long wished that I could find another band like Rammstein, simply because I wish to experience such musical bliss more often.

As much as I love letting my analytical mind do its thing, when you’re as hyper-critical about everything as I am, it’s wonderful just to sit back and let the happiness wash over you when hearing music for once.  I don’t have to worry about why I like it.  I don’t have to worry about whether anyone else will like it or why or why not.  I just take in the churning industrial goodness with a big, goofy grin on my face.

Sure my analysis will come eventually, even for a band I place on such high a pedestal as Rammstein.  Unlike with just about everything else, however, it will only come with time.  Once the music has thoroughly sunk in, once the music has ceased to be “new”, once every note of the music has been locked into my brain, and once I can listen to it without said big goofy grin on my face, then and only then will I begin to analyze it like I do everything else.

But this won’t make me like it any less.  In fact, it may simply serve as a way to extend my enjoyment.  If I can no longer smile because it is new, then I can smile because it is different and there are details to pick out and analyze and compare.

I realize that some may find the level of dorkiness of such a strong, irrational obsession for one band simply off the charts.  I completely understand this reaction, but I make no apologies.  I wish everyone could have such a strong affinity for a band, as it is difficult for me to think of anything at all that brings as much instant, irrational, sweeping, total joy as hearing new Rammstein music, as last night served to prove.

Everyone deserves the chance to be as stupidly happy as I am during those fleeting moments.  It’s a feeling I truly wish I could share.  It’s a feeling I truly wish got the privilege of experiencing more often.  More than anything else, it’s an experience I greatly cherish.

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