• Bono Does America Again

    Posted 06/06/2017 by cal

    Bono has had a thing for this concept that he calls “America” ever since U2 first visited here in 1980. I grew up in the ‘80s myself, and where I lived, patriotism was incontrovertible. As far as I knew, everyone in the world saw the U.S.A. as the land of opportunity, freedom, all that shit. I can’t really say if it was still true in the ‘80s or not. I assume that it was a truth for some segment of the population at some point in the past 240 years.

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  • 2015: Live Music

    Posted 12/29/2015 by cal

    As I’ve ranted on twitter, 2015 was a fairly shitty year in terms of live music in Milwaukee. The Pabst group’s renaissance appeared to be over, as those venues welcomed lots of youtube sensations and actors and 88nine bands and not many artists I was very interested in seeing. What’s that? You say I’ve aged out of the venues’ target audience? Well shit. There were exceptions of course, and 2016 is already looking like it will destroy 2015 in this regard. We need slow years from time to time. And maybe the big events from this year will ultimately shine brighter in my memory for years to come. It certainly seems like they ought to. Here are the ones (excluding Altos and associated acts, since I'm married to an Alto and friends with the whole gang) that I most love reliving in my mind.

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  • Post-Fare Thee Well Thoughts

    Posted 07/12/2015 by cal

    After listening to the three Fare Thee Well shows from 4th of July weekend--y'know, members of The Grateful Dead plus Bruce Hornsby and Jeff Chimenti and our old pal Trey playing the Jerry role, sort of--I basically agree with the vague consensus I've found online and amongst Deadhead friends, which is that they were as good as they could possibly have been. It seems like everyone got what they needed out of that weekend; I couldn't help feeling giddy about the collective goodwill that was powering the sea of humanity in Soldier Field, and also a profound sense of relief having decided to skip it.

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  • U2: iNNOCENCE + eXPERIENCE Chicago

    Posted 07/04/2015 by cal

    Last December, I received an email from Bono. Okay, not really; it was a U2.com subscriber email, but in it, Bono talked about the upcoming iNNOCENCE + eXPERIENCE Tour, which would be a series of two-night stands, and this quote got me a little jazzed up: "We are going to try to have a completely different feeling from night one to night two."

    Ha.

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  • SONGS OF INNOCENCE (and other tangentially related topics)

    Posted 10/05/2014 by cal

    I think U2 may have finally brought about the death of the record review. As a longtime fan, I can only sit back and laugh at the hoopla surrounding Songs Of Innocence. I've found it to be a pretty enjoyable listen. It's not going to win over many new fans, that's for sure. In fact, the way in which it was released has only energized the curious U2-hatred that has existed ineffectually for decades. It's like politics: At least 90% of the half a billion who now "own" this album made up their minds about U2 long ago. Those who haven't bought into the cult of U2 are now even less likely to listen to Songs Of Innocence, and even if they were to listen, there would be no getting around their hyperconscious truth that U2 is crap and couldn't possibly make good music.

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  • My Favorite Shows Of 2011

    Posted 12/23/2011 by cal

    If I have any perennial list-readers here, most of them probably sighed preemptively as they imagined what would top my list this year, and they’re all correct: U2 (really impossible to choose between the two shows I saw), Phish (night one at UIC being the best of the seven), Secret Chiefs 3 at the Empty Bottle, Animal Collective at Pitchfork, and Paul McCartney at Wrigley Field. Oops, ya got me: I have favorite bands. I know music critics aren't supposed to reveal those, but there's no sense keeping it a secret. But rather than blather on about them yet again, it’s probably more productive for me to mention the top ten non-my-favorite-band shows of the year. So here goes. (To keep it interesting, I’m going to gloss over other obvious big names (Wilco, Pearl Jam, Primus, STS9), since they’ve all been covered plenty.)

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  • U2 played at Soldier Field a couple nights ago.

    Posted 07/07/2011 by cal

    To be a music critic and a U2 fan, you have to fear for your credibility.  At some point, maybe around the time of Rattle & Hum, it started to become increasingly unhip to believe in Bono.  Nowadays, a fun and socially admirable thing for writers to do is to point out the hypocrisy of a man who stretches himself thin to help and bring joy to people uncool enough to like him (at the perceived expense of his band), to suggest that his humanitarian efforts are merely fuel for his massive ego, to scoff at him for daring to work with world leaders from whichever side of the political spectrum you don’t agree with, and for the audacity of working for environmental causes while toting around umpteen tractor trailers worth of equipment to build a monstrous stage from city to city.  Less famous but more credible musicians maintain aloofness toward their fans, spend their time committing varying degrees of statutory rape, abandon their families for drugs, spread messages of violence or misogyny or self-loathing, or simply don’t bother to take a stand publicly about what they believe in, but these private hypocrisies are easier to look past than the benevolence of an enviable superstar riddled with contradictory impulses just like the rest of us.

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  • 2000-2009: The Decade In Music

    Posted 04/15/2010 by cal

    No: singling out twenty or so albums as the pinnacle moments from a decade is totally not absurd at all. I based these lists on a nebulous calculation of awesomeness times influence, but since I can’t control the listening habits of the world, sometimes pure awesomeness was enough. The stickler in me really wanted a nice round number for each list, but I came to the decision that only 36 albums really stack up as potential all-time classics for me. If you’re still craving more music-snob sarcasm after reading these lists, feel free to point out any oversights…

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  • The Best Records Of 2009

    Posted 04/14/2010 by cal

    It was kind of a shaky year in most respects, but musically, the 00s went out with a bang. Few (if any) records from ’08 will hold their value as long as the best of ’09. A lot of huge debuts this year bode well for a bright decade to come as well. Before we dive headfirst into it, let's take another look back at 2009. (note: album links should take you to some actual music)

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  • The Best Shows I Saw In 2009

    Posted 04/14/2010 by cal

    I don’t think I’ve ever experienced a better year of live music than 2009. 2001 and 2003 were pretty much neck and neck before, but they were both missing one key ingredient: a revitalized Phish. I wish I could’ve squeezed Radiohead in there somehow, but aside from that, it was as if all my favorite live acts conspired to keep my mind blown for most of the year. And since most (if not all) of them will be touring again in the coming months, ’09 may not even hold the crown for long…but we’ll see. My rule for this list, as always, is only one show per artist; otherwise, there might have only been three bands on it.

    (note: links in the headings are to my original reviews of these shows, where possible)

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  • IT MIGHT GET LOUD

    Posted 10/21/2009 by cal

    I've read at least one mediocre review of this documentary that downplayed the musical excitement generated by its three stars (Jimmy Page, The Edge, and Jack White) jamming together. But I knew going in that there was no way I wasn't going to enjoy the film, and afterwards, I thought to myself, 'what is the point of trying to critically review this movie?' Um, so here's my review:

    Do you like the sound of the electric guitar? Do you think Jimmy Page, The Edge, and Jack White are fucking awesome at playing it? Do you want to hear them talk about their philosophies on music and dole out interesting anecdotes from their lives? Do you think it would be cool as shit to watch them all jam on "In My Time Of Dying" and "I Will Follow" and "Dead Leaves And The Dirty Ground" even if it's just for a minute, even if it isn't all that great musically? If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, you should see this film. If you didn't answer "yes" to any of them, you should probably stop listening to rock and roll.

    (I loved it.)

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  • U2 360 At Soldier Field

    Posted 09/20/2009 by cal

    “All you need is love,” said Bono, close to wrapping up the triumphant debut of U2 360’s U.S. leg. “And a spaceship.” It was hard to disagree with the sentiment. Ever since the PR-disaster monstrosity that was the PopMart tour, U2 had been delivering no-frills arena rock shows that deservedly won back a lot of doubters. But this is the biggest band in the world, and it couldn’t be kept out of stadiums forever. Fortunately for everybody stuck in the nosebleeds, U2 brought The Claw, and reminded us all what it’s like to go to a SHOW. Only this time around, the spectacle wasn’t a gaudy, obtrusive backdrop for a group of ironic/iconic rock stars; it was generous entertainment and a visual enhancement for the greatest band on Earth.

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  • No Line On The Horizon

    Posted 03/11/2009 by cal

    Bono has said in the past that as long as the members of U2 keep challenging themselves, they will remain relevant. That’s got to be a real challenge when ravenous fans are guaranteed to eat up every tour and album you throw their way. Then again, those legions probably wouldn’t be there if it weren’t for U2’s commitment to change.

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  • The You-Phoria Guide to the 2009 Concert Season

    Posted 03/06/2009 by cal

    The musical prospects of 2009 are quite honestly frightening. To begin with, barring my death, this will be the first time I’ll see Phish and U2 both in the same year; that alone virtually guarantees a landmark end to the aughts. But there’s a lot to get excited about, so I thought I’d run up a quick list (note: “quick” is a relative term) of potentials to shake us out of the winter doldrums if this 50-degree weather hasn't done it already.

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  • Few People Will Be Interested In Seeing This Film

    Posted 08/06/2008 by cal

    http://www.therock1067.com/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=1133

    Never heard of 'em.

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