Tag Archive | concert

The Legends of the Summer Edition

Legends of the Summer setThe first 10 days of August were a blur of non-stop activity, both at work and at home. The capper of the month was finally seeing the Legends of the Summer tour. I purchased these tickets back in March when the tax refund was rolling in and I was flush with money. Needless to say, almost six months later, I wondered with my inside voice often if I foolishly spent too much money for one event. It rained pretty much all day and the concert was outside, so I was not really feeling up to it. Thankfully, it only sprinkled during the concert. Score! I needed to take the day off because the concert was in Baltimore and I work in Northern Virginia. The last few times I tried to make it from Northern Virginia to Baltimore on weekdays have been disasters and I didn’t want to risk it. Our plan was to get there early, park far away and have dinner. Well, it took two hours to travel 30 miles in the rain, so that plan never came together. We were at the stadium by 7p—early–and I bore very easily.

I hoped against all hope that the show would start promptly at 8p mainly because I was bored. Sitting in wet folding chairs watching people walk around was no fun. Honestly, I knew better. Based on twitter reaction from previous shows, the concert started around 9 and ended at 11:30p. That is precisely what happened. On a school night! After listening to an hour of a DJ travel from the excellent: Ashford and Simpson to the terrible: whichever hip hop artist is currently on the radio. I was so ready for the show.

Can I say in completely certain terms that the show as awesome? I saw an old episode of No Reservations this week and Anthony joked that coming up with adjectives to describe delicious food becomes exhausting. Finding an adjective to describe an amazing concert is pretty much the same. First, the staging was gorgeous and I happened to match because I was wearing red. I read a Rolling Stone review that stated that Jay Z’s collaboration with Justin has elevated his stage presence. It’s true. I am not exactly sure why Justin went through this “I want to act and design jeans instead of sing” phase, but he needs to stop. He belongs on a stage and he seemed almost Zen singing, dancing, and playing multiple instruments. I know people feel the need to stretch themselves, but again stop. Since he has three relatively short albums (~10 songs a piece) knowing his catalogue is rather easy. I and the audience could happily sing along. Jay Z has a ridiculously long catalogue so knowing what songs he would do became an interesting guessing game. I really hoped for more American Gangster, but oh well.

They came out to that Magna Carta Holy Grail, which I don’t like but it looked fun. Justin and Jay Z took turns performing, sometimes mashing up their songs. Justin would sing hooks for Jay Z songs replacing the original artists. For others, we were forced to hear recorded versions of the hook singers (my least favorite part of the show). Honestly are we really missing anything by having the background singers take turns being Alicia Keys or Rihanna? I like my live shows with live music, but I digress. They also had singular sets where they would do a few of their songs on stage without each other. My favorite part, other than the gorgeous set, was the band. In all red, they would dance for Jay Z songs and riff for Justin’s. Seeing the band bop to N’s in Paris was adorable, no Kanye necessary. All in all it was worth every anguished penny.

Earlier that month, I saw the second season of Liner Notes. This event gets bigger every time and I am so thrilled for the artists. To think I found this event through a Goldstar deal and now it is becoming an appointment event. The artists were able to move to the larger theater of the Atlas, another cool thing.  I hope soon, they tour. Think of the amazing possibilities. They could do a Philadelphia sound show in Philly, Motown in Detroit, Cleveland funk in you know, Cleveland. But I am sure they don’t need my suggestions. I just want more and more people to experience the greatness and cleverness of the show. And my goodness does Akua Allrich have a voice as clear as a bell!

Finally, my moment of disappointment, I spent serious coins to attend the Summer Spirit festival this year. Last year I won tickets and I really should have attempted the same thing this year. We wanted to buy tickets because it has been rainy all summer and wanted to be prepared for D’Angelo. Well, D’Angelo cancelled his concert in Brooklyn on the Thursday before and things were getting iffy. We were mentally, but of course not emotionally prepared, for his cancellation and it came true. This lineup was really not worth the coins without D’Angelo. My theory for these things is if the festival ticket costs less than seeing the artists individually, then it’s a bargain. That was not true. Hiatus Kaiyote was interesting but still in the opening act stage of their careers. I like Black Alley but I’ve seen them free at local venues and once for <$20 as part of a larger local artists festival lineup. Backyard Band is not a group I normally check for, so I am not sure. Busta was okay. The problem is that he did snippets of each of this songs. I did not like that. Can I get an entire song? And no, I don’t want to hear your guest appearance on other songs. Nobody cares about that Pussycat Dolls song. I remember seeing Busta 15 years ago in college. Granted we were both younger but he had such stage presence and this was lacking something. I know…full songs! It felt like someone said that they didn’t know who he was and he just ran quickly through all his songs to prove his existence. We know who he is and we didn’t need that.

They replaced D’Angelo with Raheem Devaughn which someone annoyingly said that he was a better choice. This person has no taste and shouldn’t be trusted. I think Raheem completely gave it his A game, but it really didn’t matter. We came for D’Angelo, despite all of his troubles, a gifted singer and musician who created two terrific albums. Plus, Raheem performed for free right down the street from my house for National Night Out, so that eliminates any bargains there back to my original theory.  Finally Erykah came out all late. I know this because I needed to go to the bathroom. The attendees at this year’s festival were a bit more coarse than previous years and the one time I went to the bathroom wasn’t an experience I wanted to replicate for a host of reasons. I saw Erykah during her remarkable Baduizm / Mama’s Gun tour this year ($40) and while I love her, she wasn’t my draw to the festival. There is usually a 30 minute set-up time between artists. This was 45 minutes. She really had to be good since D’Angelo didn’t make it and last year, she was in one of her moods. She was at her mesmerizing, odd best. I’ll admit I left early as I had to go to the bathroom and decided it was best to go to my own bathroom. In short, unless the festival radically changes its lineup next year, I probably won’t attend. There were so many local artists that only the lawn makes sense cost-wise. However, the crowd was more annoying and I can see getting irritated really quickly. We shall see as I always say.

The Summer is Here Edition

MP900384872 (2)June is Black Music Month and usually kicks off my summer concert season. I started the month off with my favorite event: The Capital Jazz Festival. This year the event was more aggravating than in previous years. I didn’t attend last year because the line-up was ho hum. The line-up this year was stellar and that was made obvious by the fact that the event was sold out. I meant to go up to the box office the week before to obtain my tickets; however, I felt awful. Once upon a time, I could get tickets at an outlet in the next town over or at one of Merriweather Post Pavilion’s sister venues. However, that was not allowed and the online fees were expensive. The tickets were already $65 each day and there isn’t a two-day discounted package. The fees amounted to $15 each day. I just figured I would get my tickets at the venue. Wrong. It was sold out. I was Lost and Turned Out. Viva Les Whispers! I had to wait by the gate hoping someone would sell a ticket. I had my chair, tote and cooler and really struggled to make it to people yelling that they were selling tickets. I kept losing out. However, with patience (I suck at) and perseverance (I’m great at), I got into the concert.

First, the logistics were horrible. The Soul Stage, where we usually plant, was full of tents and immediately adjacent to the vendor area. There was no place to camp. We were forced to sit in the abundance of too many folding chairs all day. This was not comfortable. MPP made a huge error in two ways: placing the vendors near Soul Stage. The crowds could barely maneuver through to get from stage to stage or stage to bathroom. MPP also allowed too many tents to set up. People were extremely disheartened to discover that the uncomfortable folding chairs are the only option. You really cannot stretch your legs or easily place your cooler anywhere. They wouldn’t allow anyone to move the folding chairs.

Despite the terrible logistics, the artists were great. I was especially surprised by Babyface. He was funny, fun and in great voice. He sang his songs and a medley of songs he wrote for other people. Man, does he have a deep bench. I wish he would have sung songs from the 2000’s though, okay maybe just Face2Face. I loved that album. I’ve always loved The Whispers and wanted to see them in concert for years. Although, they are aging and not as agile as they once were, I experienced a group I adore, so I feel great about seeing them. Chaka Khan continues to elude me. Capital Jazz Fest has scheduled her twice and she has cancelled twice. Jeffrey Osborne took her place and he was okay. He actually has a song in my Top 50: We’re Going All The Way. And with my typical luck, he sang about four songs I didn’t know before hitting familiar tunes, none of which was the one song I like. Dammit. I feel like these artists plot against me. No, It Just Gets Better with Time from The Whispers either. Otherwise, the artists were awesome though I was pretty uncomfortable for two days.

Washingtonian published the 2013 free summer concert list. I was saddened to learn that my favorite venues for summer concerts – Carter Barron and Fort Dupont – have reduced schedules due to the Congress’s inability to do their jobs also known as sequestration. Carter Barron has two free concerts and no paid concerts. I am shocked about the paid concerts, I hoped that the money collected would cover the cost of an event. Granted tickets are usually around $25 but with 1,500 seats I thought we would be safe. Unfortunately, no. And the two free concerts are the Reggae and Blues nights, plus a few movies. Neither is my cup of tea. Fort Dupont serves as a showcase for the formerly successful. I have seen countless 70’s bands and the wonderful Roy Ayers at the park, all for the low, low price of free. This time Fort Dupont concerts feature local artists including the U.S. Army Band. I will admit that I am disappointed. While I hate interacting with the outdoors with such ridiculous things as hiking and canoeing, I submit to listening to music while sitting in the summer breeze. My big events this summer will be down to two—Summer Spirit Festival and, of course, the Legends of Summer Tour with Jay-Z and Justin Timberlake. Both are within a week of each other. I hope I can pepper in some more concerts this summer. Stay tuned!