5.26.2013

Concert Review: Lydia

Foreword: Solely for lack of a better idea, I've decided to start writing posts about the various shows I've attended since moving to Seattle. I'm mainly doing this because I hardly ever got to go to any good shows while I was at school in Texas. I've been privileged to see all kinds of bands I never thought I'd get the chance to see. Some of them were great, a few were disappointing, some of them blew my mind. 

Anyways, I thought it would be cool to document these experiences (not all of them are really worth writing about). I won't retell every second of the show or talk much about the other bands. I'll mainly mention the highlights after a brief note on how I was introduced to the band in question. Maybe I'll turn a few people onto some bands I enjoy; maybe fellow music fans will just like it for the content. Either way, it's mostly a personal thing. Hope it's not a waste of time.


LYDIA - 4/21/2012 @ Chop Suey
w/Sweet Talker, From Indian Lakes, and some crappy local band.

The old lineup. 

I've enjoyed Lydia for a number of years, since their 2008 release Illuminate. I remember downloading  it illegally from Rhapsody and it was really crappy quality. It didn't keep me from loving it any less, namely the second track "A Fine Evening For A Rogue". This song made me fall in love with Lydia. 

A Fine Evening For A Rogue

The band went through a tumultuous couple of years. Mindy White, their background vocalist and keyboard player, left the band to start her own project with a few ex-members of Copeland, called States. It was enjoyable, but in no way related to Lydia. Then the band announced it would be calling it quits and embarked on a massive farewell tour, which I wasn't able to attend because I was withering away in Texas.

Mindy White's new project.

Like all good bands, they returned in 2011 with a new album, Paint it Golden. It had a different feel to it, but any Lydia was better than no Lydia (not always the case with some bands). Leighton Antelman, the voice of the band, also started an electronic side project called The Cinema, releasing his debut album My Blood is Full of Airplanes the same year. Needless to say, it was a good year for Lydia fans.

With the release of this year's Devil, Lydia went on a headlining tour to promote the new album. They stopped in Seattle so OF COURSE I had to catch them.

Not gonna lie, not my favorite album art.

After a couple of pretty good opening acts - From Indian Lakes caught me off guard in particular - Lydia took the stage, to much fanfare from pretty much every girl in the room. Most of them were ignorantly trying to guess which of the guys setting up instruments and sound checking was Leighton.  Of course, when a dude walked out barefoot with his acoustic guitar, it was pretty obvious who it was.

They began with "This is Twice Now" - the opening song from Illuminate; consequently, the first Lydia song I ever heard. This was followed by "The Exit", the opening track from their new album. It was one of the four songs I got a video of, which I probably won't upload because they're pretty crappy quality. The setlist was a perfect combination of old and new, and pretty much every girl knew all of the words.

Link to setlist from the Devil tour.

It was a fantastic show. I think it was the only show I've ever went to where the vocalist was smiling the entire time. Seriously, Leighton didn't stop smiling the whole show, through every song. The ladies loved it. I kid you not, every single girl and probably half of the guys in that room were in love with him. I was right up in the front (stage right) and the gasps and cooing all around me were practically suffocating. Who can blame them, I guess:

I'll allow it.

Highlights - Leighton singing "Always Move Fast" alone on stage, just him and his acoustic guitar. Of course, when they performed "A Fine Evening For A Rogue" for their last song, I was the one who couldn't stop smiling. They concluded with a mighty performance of "Hospital" for their encore, to a crowd who sang every word, and loudly.

Lowlights - the girls were pretty obnoxious, in all seriousness. In particular, there were a couple of loud blonde girls dead center in the front, who were flirting with the sound guys and yelling over everyone else every time Leighton addressed the crowd. After the show, I saw one them try to sneak into the bar only to be denied by security. It was sweet justice. Oh, and the band before Lydia (still don't remember their name) was pretty terrible. Like, didn't belong on the same STAGE as Lydia sort of terrible.

Other than that, it was perfect. I thought about sticking around to meet the band but realized every woman in there would be trying to get in Leighton's pants so I ducked out of there after grabbing a shirt. Always have to get my shirts.

Lydia lived up to my expectations for a live performance for sure. I'd encourage you guys to check out some of the tracks I've listed here. If you like Copeland, Deas Vail, or Mae, these guys might be right up your alley.

Until the next show,

JDS

5.18.2013

Texas Is Probably The Reason


Last week I went to Texas. For those of you still confused about Texas' role in my life - it's where I went to school for four years (2008-2012). More specifically, I returned to my Alma mater - Abilene Christian University - the prestigious institution that I have so generously chosen to give every dollar I'll ever earn for the rest of my life to. No regrets.

Let's be real. Abilene is nestled away in the middle of nowhere. Blasted, arid stretches of classic Texas wasteland cage this sad city in on every side. Vegetation and elevation forsake it, allowing you to see the astounding amount of nothing in every direction. Three hours from anywhere of consequence, it's the perfect place to confuse you about what you want to do for the rest of your life, and then die.

Ah, the school cafeteria. Ever a pretty sight.

I won't sit here and recap my years spent at ACU (I sort of did that here), but I have to say that this trip was an extreme eye-opener for myself. I was basically over college by senior year - having been in it for six years - and could not wait to "free" myself into the world. A silly desperation, really...once you see what the world is like. Because I like to perpetuate the idea that I don't know what I'm doing, I wisely waited until the week before finals in my last semester to decide where I was going after school. I was this close to staying in-state - either in Dallas/Ft. Worth or A-town itself. Thank heavens I didn't; doing so would have been akin to psychological gelding. I don't even know what that would look like.

Once I did decided to leave the state, I said loudly and often that it would take a lot to drag me back to there. Of course, I knew I had no choice but to visit from time to time because many of my best friends live there, not to mention family members. While I pray for them daily because of how sad it is that they live there, there is comfort in knowing that I can find them easily. Despite all of this, I found myself on a plane bound for the Metroplex last week. After spending a week in the outskirts in Arlington, a three-hour car ride carried me back to my tomb in Abilene. Surprise - someone kept it warm for me.

Now, I may be exaggerating a bit but that's only because I have to admit that I actually liked going to school there. That wasn't the case at first. My first glimpse of the school from a car in August of 2008 had me thinking how pretty of a campus it was. Two weeks of residency put that notion to death. I soon became acquainted with the begrudging acceptance of the grimness of it all. Yes, I live here and I will probably die here if I'm not too careful. With Abilene, it's easier than you think.

It ain't bad...at first.

I don't make friends easily. Not only that, but it was my first time away from home. I won't lie - I was very homesick. As in, I took a completely random and inconvenient trip home in the middle of October of my first semester without telling my family. I can still see my mom and brother's faces lit up in horror. They thought they had rid themselves of me. The naivete of them!

My culture shock in Texas mostly stemmed from the fact that people were nice. They held doors open for me, let me pass them on the road, always said thank you, and didn't threaten to kill me if I didn't write their papers for them after jokingly offering to do so at a hall gathering where we ate pancakes and talked about our majors. They liked to eat too. All the time, everywhere. Not only that, but it wasn't hard to be cool in Abilene. Because of this, the social summit of the student body was populated by people who would admittedly be the most annoying crowd in the world anywhere else,  if it weren't for the fact that they already were. 

No one understood why I was there. Why would I leave San Diego for this place? Good question. Of course, people still ask me that up here all the time so that's nothing new. I often wondered that myself during the cherished times I could go home for breaks, always having to fight the temptation to transfer back home. 

Replace "Texas" with anywhere else and you've got the state motto.

I assume it happens with most people, but the concept of "home" finally associated itself with Abilene my third year - the year I became a Resident Assistant in a freshman dorm. It made me feel like I had a purpose. My relationships really took off and I had pride in my job because I was good at it. Well, most of it. I hardly ever checked curfew but ask any one of my old residents and they'll vouch for me. Or blackmail me, depends on who you ask.

Because I was able to finally admit that I enjoyed being there, leaving was very hard. Of course, a very traumatic senior year definitely didn't help my wanting to stay by the end of it, but picking a distant corner of the country to live in post-graduation was a scary thing when it involved voluntarily separating myself from friends I had spent years with to do who-knows-what in a place I had never laid eyes on. I was happy to get out of the "black hole" that is Abilene, but that didn't mean it was easy. I'm sure most of you can relate.

That's what made this trip so enjoyable but difficult at the same time. As I have mentioned to many of my friends in Seattle, it was incredibly strange to see my ex-roommates, fellow students and residents graduating, getting engaged/married, applying to high-level jobs, and discussing their next steps in life. Heck, the dude who lived next door to me when I was an RA got up to give a speech (as student body president) to the graduating class. I was like a proud father. Don't get me wrong, I never got self-conscious about my own life. In fact, I'm sure I was incredibly annoying because I talked about Seattle every opportunity I could, which was plenty of times because people kept asking me about it. Probably because it's certainly cooler than where any them live. The few that put it down wouldn't be able to hack it up here anyways. 

Anyways, there isn't really a profound message to this post (is there ever?). I merely wanted to reflect on what it was like to visit the place I had once hated, only to later accept it. And even if I ended up disliking everything about being there, my time there led me to here - which is something I'll forever be thankful for. Thanks, Texas. You really know how to put a guy in a better place.

So here I am, five years removed from being a bewildered freshman and a year removed from graduating with a useless degree. Going back will always be weird. It's not home anymore; it's just a place so heavily etched with memories I can see them on every street corner. I was reminded how much I had already forgotten when my friends would say "Remember when...?" No, I do not. But now that you mention it I'm ashamed I do. I've built a new home now (with plenty of help), and it was difficult reconciling that with the place where I did so much growing up. Not that I don't have plenty more to do, mind you. 

I'll be going back many, many times. I'll be seeing my friends and family very often. I'm thankful for Texas for playing such a big part in who I've become, and especially for leading me to where I feel like I belong. If I could shake the Panhandle's hand I would. I can't, so I'll just go draw a mustache on it and a missile hitting El Paso on the Texas map in my car. Because that's the kind of love I have for that place.

Y'all best never forget the places that made you who are.

Am I doing this right?

Cheers, 

JDS


Ok, I just thought this one was funny:



5.14.2013

Pariah

Smoke and fog corrupt the road
that I have made my home.
I hear nothing but their howls,
loosed like barbed quarrels
from every second-story window.

There is a reason for my indictment
much as there is for their malice.
It is laced in doubt that drags like a millstone
across a path so deeply carved from my footsteps
that I stumble every step over past reflections.

My arms are ensnared in the coils of snakes,
constricting every insight born amidst confusion,
yielding for a moment to exhaustion,
only to begin the suffocation anew.

I don't feel my fingers tracing the walls of homes
that line the streets, nor the pieces
that lodge themselves under my nails.
Flakes fall from incisions made with numb hands,
peppering the dirt that mixes with my blood.

You will aim to make this my Golgotha,
I will make it my everlasting Mecca.