Virtual Concerts: Sign of the Times, or Sign of Things to Come?

Just a thought piece. Food for thought. What have you.

The global pandemic effecting our lives, some more than others, has been ongoing for a while now. As such, some businesses and services that are deemed essential continue on while those workers try to avoid getting sick. But what about non-traditional jobs? Artists, for lack of better terminology. How are people who are depending on going on tour to pay their bills getting by? I’m not talking about millionaire rocks stars here, I’m talking about the person or band who is trying to break big, and is not able to do the stand-up circuit, or can’t play the dive bars anymore? Not only are people in these positions not able to go to their place of employ, but with millions of people stuck at home mostly with reduced income, how can they justify spending money on these sorts of entertainment anymore? These questions won’t be answered with this post, but it did spark an idea regardless. 

I should preface this with the fact that I did not create the idea of a virtual concert, but seeing one promoted on social media the other day, I have since watched the resulting YouTube video for this, and though it wasn’t amazing, it was something that the average joe (which these guys clearly are) could do in order to make some change. Here’s what I’m talking about:

I should note that Psychostick aren’t completely unknown, and have funded albums via Kickstarter, so they aren’t strangers to alternate earning tactics. But I wouldn’t say that these guys are famous. Chances are you’ve never heard of them until now, but I’ve known about them for over a decade. These things happen. Whatever the case, you can see that they have a widget on screen where they are accepting tips, and they had a goal of $1100 to “pay studio rent.” So they basically put on this concert for free, but left it open for people to tip. It’s likely most of the people watching and tipping were already fans of the band, but you can’t rule out other donations either. Whatever the case, they managed to fill that goal long before their “concert” was over. So they took the time to get a live stream and cameras set up, set up their equipment and basically filmed a band practice and made a bunch of money off of it. That’s not to say just anyone could do this nor that everyone would be as successful at making a living at it, but even if it’s just enough to get by it’s something to consider. 

What’s challenging about this is that this is the first time in my life that I can recall seeing virtual concerts. I know that many concerts and live shows are filmed so I’m not stranger to watching a YouTube video of said content, but the idea of participating in a live concert in the same context is sort of weird right? Is this only acceptable because of the fact that people are on quarantine and have nothing better to do? Or do you think there might be something more here? I mean if you can’t be in Santa Monica to watch the LCS live, it’s still okay to watch the live stream and feel like you’re participating in something right? What about BlizzCon Virtual Tickets, or comparable live coverage of conventions from halfway across the world? Some of these things have found acceptance in our daily lives, so why couldn’t a concert be the same? Do you need the sweaty, smelly bodies writhing around you for it to be legit? Why couldn’t I watch a comedy show that’s airing in New Zealand from North America at the same time as people in South Korea? 

I’m honestly for it. I would love to see some of my favorite bands live, but I would take an intimate basement live stream just the same. I’d watch a stand up comic do his set in front of the mirror. If the content is good, it rarely matters how it is experienced. I suppose you could argue that the feeling of the music wouldn’t be the same, and I can attest to that having been in a band before. But I’d argue that many people don’t have the time to go to concerts or see other live entertainment, but would gladly decompress with it on the couch with a much cheaper beer in hand. What do you think?

A Musical Interlude

Those of you who frequent these pages will know that I’m a metal-head these days, but have roots in Rock, Punk, Rap, etc. In more recent years I picked up a liking for Dubstep and other EDM styles but have always enjoyed electronic music in various forms. As such, I’m typically keeping my ears open for new music from acts that play metal, but I hear the radio here and there or will browse various blogs and find new artists. Enter: GosT. I’m not sure on the pronunciation, if there’s an emphasis on the “ah” or the “oh” sound, so it’s either Gahst or Gohst. Maybe it’s Ghost… either way, it’s an electronic musical act from Finland, classified as either “Synthwave,” “Darkwave” or “Slasherwave,” it sort of defies definition. I originally heard about GosT from a metal website called MetalSucks, and as the title sums things up nicely: It’s the most metal non-metal band you’ll hear all year. I wouldn’t say I always agree with the bands these guys praise, but they seem like they can recognize something special, and I think this band is, despite the fact that you’ve probably never heard of them. It’s silly of me to think that this little blog will ever really help to expand the reach of an international band, but if a couple of my readers find a new album to listen to, cheers.

I just received an email the other day from the band’s Bandcamp mailing list, and it turns out their third album had released. Being on Bandcamp means it’s a name your price sort of option, so if you’re really cheap (or just curious and don’t want to waste money) you can get it for zero dollars (well, Euros actually). All three albums are available, plus an EP, and I recommend them all. As I said they are hard to place, being a band that uses synth-pop sounds like maybe Depeche Mode but melding in darker tones. Some songs are noisy like Nine Inch Nails, some have vocals while others use news clips or slasher movie dialogue samples. Some feels really dancy, while other tracks feel grimey and metallic. I love the diversity between the albums, and even the diversity on individual albums. This artist will keep you guessing. I’ll point you in the direction on where to find the music, but be warned that there is Satanic imagery and or content that might turn some off.

Possessor (2018)

Get it here!

Non Paridisi (Secret Arcana) (EP) (2016)

Get it here!

Non Paradisi (2016)

Get it here!

Behemoth (2015)

Get it here!

Links below each album will direct you to the Bandcamp page where you can download the tracks. I’ll leave you with a full album stream of Possessor so you can check it out. I’ve parked it on one of my favorite tracks on the album.

Enjoy!

All Hallows 2017

Halloween has always been one of my more favored holidays — when we’re kids we trick or treat and get loads of candy, later on in life we attend parties and dress up. It’s a great way to leave reality behind for a night and pretend to be someone or something else. The older we get it seems that we don’t participate as often as we used to. I don’t see the wild Halloween parties raging all night anymore, but we still hold to traditions, don’t we?

I spent part of the weekend in fall/halloween mode. We carved pumpkins on Sunday with the roommates and then started up a fire in the backyard and made s’mores. Drinking around a fire is something I hadn’t done in a long time and it was relaxing!

My contribution to the pumpkin display

This evening we’ll be taking my girlfriend’s son trick or treating and that will be the end of the festivities. I didn’t really put together a costume but found a t-shirt that will keep me on theme with the rugrat. I thought I’d take this time to say Happy Halloween to everyone, and also to share some of my favorite on-theme musical tracks for the holiday. Enjoy!

AFI – Fall Children

The Misfits – Halloween

The Black Dahlia Murder – A Shrine to Madness

The Best Metal Albums of 2015 #Listmas

After making a list in my last post, I remembered why I enjoyed making lists in the first place. I do them periodically on my own, but Listmas is the perfect excuse to make more. So here I am rehashing my idea from last year during this time of making a list of my favorite metal albums of the year. Admittedly I didn’t pay attention to the scene as much this year, so I had to do a little looking around to round out the list. A couple of my favorite bands put out new releases this year, so those were easy additions, but I didn’t really go searching for new music to consume this year, probably because I’ve been so busy with all of the other content generation, and you know, playing games and such. That doesn’t mean that I’ve given up on searching for new music, it was just lower on the priority list for the first time in a long time. Anyway, this year I decided to also pick a favorite song off of each album and include a video for it. So let’s get to it, shall we?

5. Slayer – Repentless

Slayer is a band that most if not all metal bands are influenced by. Part of the “Big Four” that includes Metallica, Megadeth and Anthrax, they were legends of the thrash scene of the 80’s. They’ve persisted through the decades and still have a signature sound, despite losing some founding members before recording this album. Their dark and brooding lyrics plus anti-religious themes probably won’t sit well with most, but hey, credit where it’s due, they started something bigger than themselves. The title track is my personal favorite, and sounds reminiscent of Raining Blood and other classic Slayer tracks.

4. Thy Art is Murder – Holy War

Thy Art is Murder is an Australian death metal band that I discovered this year. I guess that goes against what I said in the opening paragraph of this post but discovering them was a good thing. The title track from the album is dark and gritty, but paints a picture that resonates within me. The video helps to drive that message home. Good shit. My only complaint is that the mastering of this album was a little light on bass, so it doesn’t thump as hard as it should, but it’s a great album nonetheless.

3. Lamb of God – Sturm Und Drang

Lamb of God has been putting out commercially accepted metal for a decade plus now, and it still feels like they have more in the tank. Not only are they sounding tighter and more polished than ever, but this album feels less repetitive than previous efforts. Still, if you’ve heard one LoG album, you’ve pretty much heard them all. If you like them, you’ll like this one. If you aren’t a fan then don’t expect something different here. It’s still a great album even if you don’t think so.

2. Revocation – Empire of the Obscene (Remaster)

Though technically not a new album for 2015, Revocation’s Empire of the Obscene was re-released this year, so it counts. It’s also their first effort as a band, so it was one of those things you couldn’t find unless you knew where to look. With the remaster you get the demo release that sounds like a brand new album, and because I hadn’t heard it before it was like getting one. I love this band, with their combination of thrash and death metal that just shreds.

1. The Black Dahlia Murder – Abysmal

There was a time when I had a favorite band. They were my favorite band for years and years, but then they took a turn for the worse and I just couldn’t stomach their new direction. I vowed from that day on that I wouldn’t ever declare another single band as my favorite because the same result could come about. Since then, I’ve had a handful of bands from differing genres that I would consider favorites, but if you put a gun to my head and made me choose, The Black Dahlia Murder would be it. Somehow each new release impresses me more than the last, and nothing ever feels rehashed. These are truly creative guys and I love everything they do. The album’s opening track is above and I just love how it builds in intensity before blowing your head off and then maintains that high threshold for the remainder of the song. Absolutely brilliant from start to finish.

See something you don’t like? Did I miss something? Do you hate metal? Let me know in the comments!

15 Awesome Covers

It seems every few months I come up with another idea for a list of things that I enjoy, or feel others would find interesting. During last year’s Blaugust, I made a list of 25 of my favorite Sega Genesis games, as the system’s 25th anniversary hit at that time. This year I don’t have a similar holiday-of-sorts to inspire this list, but having touched on a non-gaming related subject yesterday, I decided that I’d do the same today. This time instead of TV, we’re talking music and more specifically, cover songs. I combed through my entire music library to give you 15 of my favorite cover songs! I do have mostly punk and metal leanings, so this might not appeal to you all, but I know some of my readers enjoy similar music, and if nothing else it’s something to experiment with. Who knows, maybe I’ll introduce you to a new band. I have a knack for this sort of thing. Let’s get to it, shall we?

Here’s 15 awesome cover songs, in no particular order!

The Song: The Hanging Garden
By: AFI
Originally by: The Cure
The Video:

The Song: War Ensemble
By: As I Lay Dying
Originally by: Slayer
The Video:

The Song: War Pigs
By: Cake
Originally by: Black Sabbath
The Video:

The Song: Take This Job and Shove It
By: Dead Kennedys
Originally by: David Allen Coe
The Video:

The Song: Sail
By: Devildriver
Originally by: AWOL Nation
The Video:

The Song: TNT
By: Dynamite Boy
Originally by: AC/DC
The Video:

The Song: Supertouch/Shitfit
By: Hatebreed
Originally by: Bad Brains
The Video:

The Song: I Turn to You
By: Machinae Supremacy
Originally by: Melanie C
The Video:

The Song: Tainted Love
By: Marilyn Manson
Originally by: Soft Cell
The Video:

The Song: Minor Threat
By: Pennywise
Originally by: Minor Threat
The Video:

The Song: Imagine
By: A Perfect Circle
Originally by: John Lennon
The Video:

The Song: Danger Zone
By: Psychostick
Originally by: Kenny Loggins
The Video:

The Song: In My Eyes
By: Rage Against The Machine
Originally by: Minor Threat
The Video:

The Song: Dyers Eve
By: Revocation
Originally by: Metallica
The Video:

The Song: American Nightmare
By: Tiger Army
Originally by: Misfits
The Video:

What do you guys think about cover songs? Do you think they can improve on the originals, or do they ruin them? Do you think people copy songs because they love them or because they want to make a quick buck on someone else’s hard work? Let me know in the comments.

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