The Demise of the True Encore

I was listening to the All Songs Considered podcast of the Sleater-Kinney “before-we-go-on-indefinite-hiatus” tour show at the 9:30 Club, and Bob Boilen mentioned that it was the first time he remembered that when the house lights came up and the house music started playing, the audience just screamed louder, and Sleater-Kinney came back out for a second encore. How cool is that?
That got me to thinking, whatever happened to the encore? I’m not talking about your favorite band leaving the stage after they “finish” their set, and coming back to play a couple more songs. They plan those encores now. That’s why the house lights don’t come on. Take a look at their set list, it has the encore songs planned out in advance. (see this example of the setlist from the May 2006 Chicago Gaelic Park Saw Doctors show) Maybe it’s been done this way for a while, and I’m just now starting to notice, but it used to feel good when, as a fan, we cheered at the top of our lungs and got the band to come back out and play a few more songs. I think at a Garth Brooks concert, he even came back out twice, if I recall. These days, the audience will occasionally cheer, but more often just sit back on their hands and wait for the band to come back out for a few more songs. Then the house lights come up after the encore, and everyone files quietly out. How boring and un-rock-and-roll.
I don’t know what fans can do about it. I suppose that bands could actually forgo an encore if the fans didn’t really get into it, but that would probably just result in annoyed yuppies crying that they didn’t get their three extra songs they think they’re entitled to. Me? I just hope to be there when a band I like is forced back up onto the stage for a second, real encore for a change.

Random

Damn, extra innings baseball games suck. Since the Yankees were on WGN, I actually got to watch them last night, as they blew the lead in the ninth and lost in the eleventh. So, a little tired this morning.
If you haven’t had the chance to catch “Who Wants to be a Superhero?” on SciFi yet, check it out tomorrow at 9pm. 11 ordinary people created comic book characters. One will be immortalized in a Stan Lee comic book. He’s putting them through all sorts of tests, and eliminating them one by one. My favorites are Fat Momma and Major Victory. It’s only going for 6 episodes, and tomorrow is episode 3. Definitely lots of fun to watch in the summer rerun doldrums.
Speaking of fun, check out Frets on Fire. It’s basically Guitar Hero for your computer, but you play with your keyboard. It’s done pretty well, but there needs to be a few more songs for it to be really cool. Supposedly you can plug in the Guitar Hero guitar with an adapter, and use it to play as well, which would be really cool.
The WSOP main event is down to the final table of 9 players now. You’d probably only recognize one of the names as a poker pro, but there is one guy named Rhett Butler who’s from the DC area, and with that name, you know I gotta root for him. Pauly rules, check out his coverage of the WSOP.

The Best Laid Plans

I was very efficient this morning. I grabbed an old portable CD player to bring in to work (iPods not allowed, Lord knows why). I also grabbed my rechargeable AA batteries with the charger to bring in. I couldn’t find the power adapter, otherwise I would have just used that.
Got in to work, plugged in the charger, started charging the batteries. A short time later, they’re all charged up, so I pop them into the CD player and try to turn it on. It starts to turn on, then poof! Turns off. Seems the batteries, which admittedly, have been sitting around for some time, are 1.2 volt batteries, while regular alkaline AAs are 1.5 volts. Most likely, the rechargeables have lost a bit of their effectiveness, and just don’t have enough juice to power the CD player. Thankfully, a co-worker had some spare AAs for me to borrow, so I’m hooking up some White Stripes right now.
But still, how annoying is that? So prepared, only to see my plans go down the tubes. Maybe I’ll see if I can find some other rechargeables that work (rechargeable alkalines are 1.5 volts, NiMH are 1.2v).

A Musical Education

After having to listen to a lot of Raffi and Music Together on our road trip, I was pleased to find three new (to me) CDs from LaLa when I got home: Ghostface Killah, A Tribe Called Quest, and Tripping Daisy. Add that to the Drive-by Truckers and White Stripes I got before leaving, and I’ve got some good stuff to listen to for a while.
Last night, we went to the Nottaway Nights concert, this time featuring Bill Kirchen. We took Ellie, Max, and Ellie’s friend Claire, and they got a good musical education. They classified his music as “Roots Rock,” but that sounds limiting. He was nominated for a Grammy for Best Country Instrumental Performance in 2002, but again, it hardly tells what he played. He was really amazing with his guitar. At one point, he played guitar riffs (and these are just the ones I can remember), consecutively, from The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Chuck Berry, The Sex Pistols, and Jimi Hendrix, the latter played with the guitar behind his head. It was pretty darned cool, and everyone had a blast. It’s amazing that the park puts these shows on for free.
After the concert, we got back in the car and listened to a little A Tribe Called Quest (“Scenario,” “Can I Kick It?”) to round out the evening’s educational experience. Just because they’re kids doesn’t mean they can’t appreciate good music.

La La again

Revisiting the La La CD trading service, since I’ve been doing it for a couple of weeks now. I gotta say, it’s very cool. I’ve traded away 9 CDs I either didn’t want any more, or was kinda tired of (who knew that someone out there actually wanted Air Supply’s Greatest Hits Live?), and in return I’ve received 5 CDs I wanted to listen to, and there are 5 more on the way. 3 of the 5 had liner notes too, which aren’t required, but nice to have. I’ve even gotten some fairly recent releases too. The latest White Stripes and Franz Ferdinand, and the latest release from Ghostface Killah, which just came out this spring. Of course, with all these people sending me CDs, I’m back “in the red,” and probably won’t get any more sent my way till someone else requests another one of mine. Now wait, scratch that. While I was typing this, someone requested one more of mine, so I’m back in yellow. Nice. One thing I’ll have to revisit though: Apparently one of the CDs I sent hasn’t arrived yet, and it’s been almost two weeks since I sent it. Maybe that’s one I forgot to include the extra postage (for the liner notes) on, I’m not sure, but the guy says he hasn’t gotten it yet. I’m not sure what’ll happen. It should either get returned to LaLa HQ, where they will try to send it on to him, or else maybe he will get a “Postage Due” notice. Still, it seems strange that it’s the only one to not get there yet.
All told, I’ll have gotten 10 CDs for about the same price as one new one would cost me. If you like music, you’ve got to get in on this. Send me an email, and I’ll send you an invite to join. Maybe you’ll even get one of my CDs.
Update: Apparently the missing CD arrived on Friday, and the receiver finally marked it as such, so my karma is intact. Still strange that it took so long though.

LaLa review

I wrote recently that I was trying out a new service called LaLa.com. It’s a music trading service. You list CDs you have, and ones you want. The service works in the background to determine if other people want your CDs, at which point you can say whether you want to get rid of it, and send it to the other person, or you can choose to keep it. They send you a package of 5 envelopes with $0.63 stamps (the cost of a 2 oz. envelope, which is about what the CD weighs), and 5 plastic CD covers to protect the CD. When you run out, you just request more (as I have). LaLa almost immediately connected me with users who had “Mezmerize” by System of A Down, and “American Idiot” by Green Day, and later, “Late Registration” by Kanye West. For each CD you receive, you pay $1 to LaLa and $0.49 for shipping (they’re losing money on the shipping, as noted before, it costs $0.63, not including the envelope and case costs). They promise to pay $0.20 to the artist for each of their CDs you trade.
I started this last Friday. Mezmerize arrived at my door on Wednesday, and American Idiot yesterday. I’ve sent out 5 CDs myself, and I’ve taken to including the liner notes, even though it’s not required. It seems silly to leave them out, what are you going to do with them without the CD? There’s some concern that it increases the weight enough to require more postage, but it seems the liner notes have to be pretty lengthy for that to apply. I got liner notes with Mezmerize but not American Idiot. I’m liking both CDs so far, and I’m definitely glad to get some new music.
The service weighs your “karma” by evaluating how many CDs you have shipped and received. Receive a lot of CDs while not sending many out, and they will stop sending you CDs until you start sending them out. I’m in the green now, having sent 5 and received 3, but it can be tough if you don’t have CDs anyone wants. I’ve got several fairly new CDs listed too, and it’s not surprising that I’m not getting them yet. The ones I am getting are at least from last year. Since I haven’t bought any new CDs in a while, the ones I am sending out are even older than that.
Overall, I’m happy with the service so far. I do wish I could get some newer CDs, but I guess you have to wait for other people to buy them first. And send those liner notes people!

La la

An interesting new music service went public today. It’s called Lala.com, and I’ve been testing it for a while now. It’s a pretty simple concept. You list the CDs you have, and the ones you want. Lala connects you with people who have a CD you want, or want a CD you have. You pay $1 for the transaction, and $0.49 for shipping on CDs you request. You only get billed monthly, so you won’t have a bunch of $1.49 charges.
I’ve only been playing with it a little while, and I really need to add more of my CDs on there. There are a ton of users though, and you should be able to get stuff you want relatively quickly. After you sign up, they send you cases and prepaid envelopes for you to ship CDs (you don’t send the liner notes or cases). I’m about to send out my first CD today, and hopefully one that I requested will come up soon. As a result, I’m taking recommendations for music, old or new, that you like, and think I might like. Here’s my list so far:
Mezmerize by System Of A Down
Fishscale by Ghostface Killah
American Idiot by Green Day
Broken Boy Soldiers by The Raconteurs
Late Registration by Kanye West
The Hardest Way To Make A Living by The Streets
St. Elsewhere by Gnarls Barkley
Pearl Jam by Pearl Jam
The Dirty South by Drive-By Truckers
A Blessing And A Curse by Drive-By Truckers
You Could Have It So Much Better by Franz Ferdinand
One Way Ticket To Hell… And Back by The Darkness
Send me your recommendations. And try out Lala. It’s open to the public now, and even if you can’t get in for whatever reason, I have invites to share.
Update: I just got a note that someone is sending “American Idiot” my way. Cool! I’ll re-review the service when it comes in.
Update 2: Aaron W. requested my copy of Franz Ferdinand’s debut CD, so I’m sending that out tonight. Trading is good.
Update 3: Woohoo! “Mezmerize” is on its way to me too! I’m liking this thing already.