Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Holy Shit.

"A-MAZ-ing!" *sing-song*



First this, now this??

At this rate, someone's going to be paying us to go to England in February. Life is good.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Cuteness '08

As he always does, Simon had a very good Christmas. As soon as I came downstairs carrying an armful of gifts, his tail immediately started wagging. He was ready!


"Can we start?"

He started by opening his 'Marley and Me' duck, care of my brother.


He quickly began blowing through the others with reckless abandon.





I swear it's like having a toddler. An 11 year-old, hairy toddler.

It didn't end there. Later on in the evening, my brother's girlfriend, Mare, stopped by with yet another toy for him to open. He was happy to oblige.



I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas (or whatever holiday you choose to celebrate) and that you got everything you wanted.

Even if it wasn't a cool 'Marley and Me' duck.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Monday, December 08, 2008

Nothing 'Better Than This'

At this very moment, I'm sitting on a plane, heading back to New York from what was one of the most amazing times I’ve had in ages. Of course, by the time I actually get around to posting this, I'll have long since disembarked, but surely you've come to expect that kind of procrastination from me by now. Anyway...

As I've mentioned on this site approximately 50 billion times (give or take), my much-loved Keane has recently put out a ridiculously good album. Naturally, I immediately began salivating at the idea of a tour to promote that puppy (as any normal person does) and waited what seemed like ages to hear anything. After Tony told me that their original plans to be around these parts in October was scrapped, and that we were likely looking at a May/June sort of time frame, I knew I couldn't wait, so I got on the phone with Kat (my "Keanedred Spirit" as I've so dorkily put it in the past) and insisted that we book a trip to the UK in February for some of that Chaplin/Rice-Oxley/Hughes (and now, Quin) goodness. I had posed the idea to her before and she was hesitant, but once she heard how long we'd have to wait otherwise, she was game.

So, the week before last, I booked us a trip with an admittedly ridiculous amount of shows and sorted out all of our hotels and transportation and we were set. Woo hoo!

Well, I kid you not, literally minutes after this was finished, I find out that the band has decided to come to America to do both an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel, as well as an intimate show at the Echo in Los Angeles. We’re talking 350 people here folks. Had it just been Kimmel, I’d never have thought twice, but when, I thought, am I EVER going to get to see Keane with only 350 people? Certainly not in England. Plus, in a twist of fate, Kat actually moved to LA a few months ago, which to me was a higher power’s way of telling me I’d better get my ass there. (What?) So… we sorted our tickets and once again I found myself booking a flight. As if life wasn’t awesome enough, shortly thereafter, they announced not one, but TWO MORE intimate shows, also in LA. A 500 person gig at the Roxy, and… get this… a 280 person ACOUSTIC gig at the Largo.

Two words -- DONE and DONE.

One six-hour flight later, (with Kevin Connolly from Entourage, no less) I found myself in LA, and less than 24 hours after that, we were in line for the Kimmel taping. After the proverbial roasting I took last year from some random gals on an unofficial Keane forum (I guess that’s what I get for checking site stats to figure out how people find their way here), I was admittedly dreading standing in line with some of these people. Thankfully we met some really fantastic fans who made the time go by quickly. Shout out to our girls!.

(Did I just say “Shout out?”. Jesus)

New friend Amanda, in particular, made me die with laughter when, during the sound check, Kat commented how Tom Chaplin seemed to be giving "a little something extra." Amanda replied, complete with a deadpan expression, “Tom knows the bitches want it.”

Hi-lar-i-ous. In fact, that was almost the title of this post.

Anyway, the taping was a bit short, but totally great and well worth it, despite lots of waiting around, unexpectedly cold weather, and douchey line-cutters. It really got us pumped for the upcoming shows. We weren't allowed to have cameras, but the lovely Annie balked at the rules and got some decent cell phone pics, which she has very kindly allowed me to post here for your viewing pleasure.




Tim kind of does weird shit when he's performing.


*stomp*


*scratch*


Oh, hai.


*scratch again*


*clap*


*dribble*


*pout*


*tune*


*conduct*


*nap*

And that was that.

In yet another minor lapse of sanity, Kat and I decided to once again brave the lines at the Echo the following day. We told ourselves we’d never subject ourselves to that madness again, but my desire to actually be able to see anything but the back of other peoples' necks, far outweighed our good judgment. Thankfully, we met quite a few more fun new people, as well as some we met on the last tour, and they made the time go by pretty quickly. Oh, and by "time" I mean "11 hours." Totes ridic. Thank God the day ended up being pretty decent. Once again, Annie and our old friend Shar were nice enough to allow me the use of their photos for you to sigh at. If you're interested, most of them click to bigger versions.


Le Venue (photo by Annie)


Fabulous Sivan and Annie. And look at me back there. Even in candid shots, I always manage to look like a jackass. (photo by Annie)

So yeah, it wasn't so bad. Of course, there was that one incident where Kat almost fist-fought this arrogant guy (who, throughout the week, ultimately earned himself the title of Douchiest of the aforementioned Douchey line-cutters) but thankfully her reasoning (and by "reasoning" I mean "stink-eye"), as well as the angry mob of women behind her, forced him to the back where he belonged. I’m sitting here on my flight right now, laughing out loud about how out of hand the whole thing almost got, but it certainly worked itself out in the end. Thank f**k.

By nightfall, Kat and I were about to burst, but we hid it well.

"Yay! We're so happy! Not a line cutter to be seen!" Oh, wait.

Once inside, we readied ourselves by smashing our bodies against the stage and totally cheated by looking at the setlist.

F**k yeah. (photo by Shar)

While we waited, Annie took a few pictures of us farting around.




"B-b-b-Broadway!"

But, before long, the magic began.

The show was AMAZING as usual but, like Kimmel, a bit short. As you can see in Annie's pics though, our spot was prime, right between Tom and Tim, jammed up against the stage. I had to dodge a guitar-to-the-forehead a few times, and I could have done without the knee to the chest and wingtip to the crotch, but I wanted an intimate show, right? I certainly got one! Fabulous.

Almost as fabulous as Tim’s shoes.


Kat and I were dumb enough to listen to the "No cameras or recording devices of any kind" sign outside the venue and like the sheep we are, we put our stuff back in the car. Of course once we were in, it was a photo taking free-for-all. Damn you, fake rules!! *shakes fist at sky* Thankfully, Annie's camera clicked away diligently in the absence of ours. Enjoy.


Hello boys! Tim's shirt was clearly as rad as his shoes.


God, I waited a year and a half for this shizz.


It's always weird when you're close enough to see their imperfections.

"What imperfections?!" I hear you cry. I know, I know.


Tim is FEELING IT.


Tom, is that a mic in your hand or are... oh wait... yeah, it's just a mic.




The token shot of Richard. :-) This was like the one show we'd been to where he was actually visible.




Jesse "New Guy" Quin, whose arms I never noticed were so damn skinny!


Oh look, my arm leaning on the speaker. I can tell from the bad fake tan on the elbow.


Oh and there's me again, laughing with/at either Richard or Adam from the crew... or both.


Raise your hand, raise your hand if you're SURE!


Diesel, eh Tom?


Jesse can bang sticks together with the best of 'em.


NOW what am I doing?


I do believe Annie now owns this water bottle. That's something I would know nothing about. :-)






AGAIN, I'm ignoring Tom and acting as if someone was doing a stand-up routine at the back of the stage. WHAT was so funny?


Oh, NOW someone's paying attention! Looks like I was so engrossed at this point, I missed the tighty-whitey action. Someone really likes Diesel.

Also why am I picking my ear?


*sigh*


*sigh again*

At the end of the show I, admittedly, had a bit of an embarrassing scuffle over a drumstick, but Richard was giving it to me, damn it. :-) I won’t mention any names, but one crew member stood laughing and imitating me nearly brawling over this thing, which was the embarrassing part. Ironically, he was the same crew member that later confirmed that I’m not crazy and they were, in fact, intended for me so that was satisfying. :-) I gave one to Kat, of course, and someone threw me a towel (I don’t know if it was Richard’s or Tim’s), and we were on our way. We toyed with waiting for the band to be done with their little Interscope party so we could get the drumsticks signed (a la Portland last year) but we decided against it. We’d done enough waiting, after all, and there was to be plenty more. These days, the shows are kind of enough for us.

Well, and plus, who am I trying to kid? We're going to see them probably close to 30 more times in the next 6 months so we didn't mind laying low this time around. We were actually kind of proud of ourselves. Particularly when Annie commented, "Wow. You didn't even flinch when Jesse walked by." I know, right? What's happened to me? I must be maturing!

Oh no, wait. That's not the case at all.






Mature? Nope. Scary? Absolutely.



On a completely unrelated note, Zach Braff, who seems to be at a shitload of Keane gigs, was parked in front of us and drives like a complete maniac. So there you go.

So Friday comes along, and once again we find ourselves chilling on the Sunset Blvd sidewalk, waiting for yet another show.


(photo by Shar)

The weather was way nicer than the day before, and there was tons of places to eat and pee (hooray!) so it was an infinitely more pleasurable experience. We really got lucky with being surrounded by the coolest people in line both days. Of course, Pompous McDoWhatIWant and the fam showed up minutes before doors and took a place at the front of line, but there was no use in fighting it. No need for us to get worked up two nights in a row, right? Plus, you know what they say about karma.


(photo by Shar)


(photo by Shar)

We ended up in a great spot at the stage again, so it was pretty sweet. Drunken, wine-spilling, camera-swinging fans provided the entertainment while we waited. Watching security shine a flashlight to make sure they didn’t need to be taken out was only an extra added bonus. :-)


(photo by Shar)

Other ways to pass the time included salivating at the setlist which, this time, thankfully included my beloved Black Burning Heart...


(photo by Shar)

And wondering what the hell these little talismans on top of the speaker were...


From left: A Barbie, A man on a bike, a Pegasus, and a cow on a double-decker bus. (photo by Shar)

Hmm... Nothing strange about that at all.

Also amusing was Jesse's guitar...


"Jesse is a giant sexy pants who sucks at catching." (photo by Shar)

Thankfully, both Kat and Shar were maniacally taking photos during the show itself, so here’s some for you to enjoy.

(All photos by Kat unless otherwise stated. Please do not use without permission)


(photo by Shar)




Once again, Tim shoes he knows good footwear.


(photo by Shar)























I kind of love this one.












Peeking at the setlist.


Remember awesome Amanda of "Tom knows the bitches want it" fame? Well that's her rocking out and being awesome on the far right.


I love when Tim totally gets into it.




































This might be my favorite of the bunch.










Love it.






















Richard looks like someone just beat the shit out of him. (photo by Shar)








Kickin' it.



After the show, we once again skipped out on waiting for the band, and instead went for some drinks with some new crew friends. We had an amazing time, and I don’t think I’ve stopped laughing about some of the shit since. Suffice it to say I’ll never look at Noel Gallagher the same way.

On Saturday, we did a whole lot of nothing, which was exactly what we needed. My body was in such a state, you’d have thought that I was the one who’d been performing the past three nights! Sometimes you just need a day doing nothing but chilling with Foxy Brown…



And Sunday, we were on again. This was the show we were most excited about. We got to the venue around 11, but no one was there (which was totally weird – we assumed someone from the venue had chased people away) so we went for breakfast and for a little shopping and came back at 2pm where some of our friends from the days before were waiting. Once again, Cutting Crew (not to be confused with the delightful 80’s band of the same name) showed up and tried to pull yet another fast one, but thankfully everyone in the line was totally sick of it, held their rightful places in line, and ended up where they belonged. Hopefully between now and the next batch of shows, they’ll learn a thing or two about etiquette. I can assure you that the days of Kat and I waiting in those lines are OVER, but it’s not about us. It’s about not being a douche. I hate to overuse the word douche, but really. Anyway, that’s the last you’ll hear about them, because this is when the magic happened. That other magic that happened earlier in this post can't even compare.

The Largo is a TINY venue, much smaller than an average movie theatre, and we were really looking forward to hearing an acoustic show. What we got was beyond anything I could have hoped for in my wildest dreams.

The lights went down, and Tom came strutting from the back of the room, down the aisle, alone with just a guitar. He didn’t even go up on stage. He stood at the front, smiled, started strumming away at the guitar and, without a mic, started belting out the FROG PRINCE!!!!!!!!!!!!

AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!

Enter the tears.

I had just said to Kat the day before that my biggest regret about last year was that we missed the West Coast shows when they performed that song. Since they’re promoting a whole new album we thought we’d missed our chance to ever see it live. Seeing it like that, with nothing but Tom and a guitar, in a completely silent room, was like the second coming. I was completely speechless, mouth agape, and had no control over the tears welling in my eyes. It was phenomenal.

There was an insanely strict no-camera policy, but I think I can say with certainty that no could EVER, EVER do justice to what it was like actually being there.

The show could have ended right there for me and it still would have all been worth it. (Hell, the WORLD could have ended right then and I'd have probably been all, "Whatevs. Still worth it.")

Tom then went to the stage, still alone, for one of my new faves, Again and Again, joking that this part of the show with just us and him was “the best bit.” Soon he was joined by the others and all I can say is that it was epic. Hands down the greatest thing I have ever seen in my life. To think that I’d debated, even for a second, not changing my flight to be able to stay for that one, almost makes me nauseous. Had I missed that, I’m not sure I’d have forgiven myself. I don’t know that we’ll ever get an opportunity like that again and I am SO grateful to have been there.

Musical genius Jon Brion joined them on stage for a few songs, and there was a funny little Q and A session before they announced that it was the last song. Someone yelled “Bullshit!!” from the back of the room, which was funnier than I can probably convey here.

When they came back for the encore, Tom told the crowd that, while it wasn't on their list, they were used to playing Try Again acoustically, so they were going to give it a go. If someone had asked me, that would have been my number choice of songs from the last album to hear, so once again I was like a pig in shit. Unfortunately, I was an overly emotional pig in shit as, halfway through the song, I COMPLETELY lost it. Sure, I welled up at the sheer brilliance of Frog Prince, but this was not welling. This was full-on shoulder-shaking, tears-streaming-down-the-face sobs. It was so bad, Kat actually thought there was something wrong with me! The worst was, I never regained control, and continued on like that throughout the finale of Perfect Symmetry. Embarrassing, to say the least, but I just couldn’t help it. It was the most beautiful live performance I’ve ever seen, and likely ever will see. I was reduced to a quivering heap and if I had it to do over again, I don’t think things would be any different.

“Tom’s so cute!” “Tim’s so hot!”-style nonsense aside, this band is seriously one of the most talented bands EVER. Each one is just SO good at what they do, and Tom Chaplin’s voice makes me weak in the knees. I think with that show, they would have won over any non-believers, for sure. I might as well shut up about it because there’s no way I can ever do any of it justice. I’ve never been moved like that from a live show. I could almost cry just thinking of it now! Pure unadulterated musical genius. I LOVE it.

Anyway, when all was said and done, Kat and said our goodbyes to all of our new friends and went and had a few more drinks to bring it all home. The next morning I flew back home (which is when I wrote everything above this paragraph) and now I sit in the reality of my living room, after hours (days really) of choosing and cropping photos and linking to all the random things you've read here, mostly just counting the seconds until our England trip. If we thought we were excited before, it's nothing compared to how we feel now. It's going to be awesome.

God, I LOVE Keane.

But I haven't told you anything that you didn't already know. :-)

(Yes, I went there).