September 7, 2010

A sold-out Music Farm audience was treated to an impressive performance from the Deftones, the Sacramento-based group known for creating some of the more memorable genre-bending rock albums for the better part of the past two decades.
Since their debut album Adrenaline dropped in 1995, the band has made a living of crafting their art both on stage and in the studio leading to a career highlighted by critical acclaim and mainstream success. But they have always strayed just a bit out of the spotlight, which has helped them stay fresh during the downfall of a genre they helped inspire – numetal.
The members of the band seemed quite relaxed as they enjoyed food and drinks at Juanita Greenberg’s before the show, talking with fans and posing for pictures. But they were all business on this night.
Openers This Will Destroy You played to an already crowded house, hammering through a 30-minute set consisting of post-metal instrumental jam sessions that had some in attendance bobbing their heads as they jostled for position in the crowd.
As the house lights went off and the Deftones crept on stage, the room came alive and it was apparent the band had a strong local following.
Starting the set off with the title-track off their newest album, Diamond Eyes, the band was energetic and tight. Frontman Chino Moreno was on point, displaying a vocal range unparalleled in the industry and the charisma to boot.
With a catalog full of radio hits and fan favorites, one could basically throw darts at a list of their songs and create an interesting setlist. But it seemed that there was some careful thought put into those they chose to play for their first-ever performance in Charleston.
The band plucked tracks from all six of their albums save for Saturday Night Wrist, an album that dropped in 2006 during some of the most tumultuous times the band has ever faced. This was the record that was the result of the band’s near breakup at that time, and it seemed as if the band chose to focus on the positive instead.
The band tore through over 20 songs in a little under two hours, knowing just when to lay off the gas on some of their more aggressive offerings by slowing the tempo down with electronica-tinged ballads. There was a good amount of interaction between the crowd and Moreno, who has been known to sometimes give less-than aspiring performances in the past. The band was having so much fun they even launched into an impromptu cover of the beginning of Steve Miller Band’s “Swing Town” as the crowd sang along with delight.
Other highlights of the night included some of their lesser known songs, including “Needles and Pins” from their self-titled album and “Feiticeira,” the opening track off 2000’s epic White Pony.
However, as the night came to a steamy and sweltering close, it was clear that the band was here to entertain their old school fans. Performing a finale featuring several tracks off Adrenaline and ending with a furious rendition of “7 Words,” the Deftones left the crowd feeling worn out and energized simultaneously as the house lights went up.
Click on the link for a setlist!
http://www.setlist.fm/setlist/deftones/2010/music-farm-charleston-sc-bd5e99a.html

June 29, 2009

Is this a date or a job interview?

Is this a date or a job interview?

To me, it seems as though being single and being unemployed are pretty much two birds of the same feather.

If you think about it, the job search is much like the quest for the perfect mate. Your resume’ is like your initial appearance. As much information you can squeeze in on one, two or even three pages of a resume does not tell the whole story of your skills, talents and primary objectives. Same with how you appear to the girl (or guy) you might be after. You can dress down, or dress up, or just simply undress, but there is only so much one can say with that. Whereas they both convey general ideas of what you are about, it’s not quite like getting to know a person, where you can really dig deep into their personality and character and decide whether this person is someone you can see yourself with for an extended period of time.

Or if they are a disgusting creep that needs to be locked up.

(In my experiences, it is usually the latter more often than the former…)

During my job search in the past two weeks, I have sent out dozens of cover letters and resumes to potential ‘suitors’ across the city of Chicago. But no matter how many big words or action statements I can think of, how can anyone really know who I am by written word? Even if I am lucky enough to get a face-to-face interview, I feel as though I am on a first date with a woman. You get dressed up, drive to a strange location, greet the secretary and wait for your hopeful employer to call on you for the meeting, all the while the employees in the office give you the stink eye and stare like you are about to break into their homes and steal their dog.  Much like a date, the employer usually keeps you waiting for a few minutes, similar to sitting by yourself at the table while you wait for your companion to arrive.

(Is that guy eating by himself at this nice restaurant? What a loser…)

Once the meeting begins, you struggle to come up with the right thing to say to some of the most mundane and/or general questions, all the while questioning yourself with every reply. You order a steak, medium-rare. She tells you she is a vegetarian. Oh No!….Your heart races, your hands tremble, your back sweats…

Was that the right thing to say? Am I smiling enough? Is she interested at all?

Should I tell her that I like to collect garbage pail kids??

After your time is up, it is now time for the awkward goodbye. You’re not quite sure if you have made the impression you hoped to make, but you have to make do with the events that have just transpired. Do you get a second interview (date)? Most likely not. She is smiling at you but you can’t tell if its genuine or forced. You say your goodbyes and you get the awkward hug with the ass out and the friend-pat on the back. Ugh…

“We’ll call you if we would like to set up another interview…”

It looks like it’s back to the old drawing board.

Most American people don’t bat an eye at the sport of soccer. Aside from a random game on ESPN 2, the sport gets minmal coverage here. But to the rest of the world, soccer is a way of life. It is easily the most popular and important sport on the ont the planet, where fans riot on behalf of their teams and world leaders jail their country’s soccer stars if they do not meet expectations in regional and global competitions. Whereas the United States dominates, or is at least excessively competitive, in most sports, the Americans are regarded as an after-thought when it comes to soccer. Even after a soild showing during the 1994 World Cup, the first ever Cup hosted in the U.S., we still were yet to be taken seriously by the rest of the world. However, the United States notched an improbable and decisive victory Wednesday by defeating No.-1 ranked Spain, 2-0, in the semifinals of the Confederations Cup. It marked the first time the Spanish team was defeated since November 2006. You can also look at this way – it was the first time Spain had been scored on in 451 minutes, since April 1st. Spain was in the midst of an international record 15-game win streak, and had a streak of 35 games without a defeat, tied with Brazil for most ever. The win for the Americans was huge on a global scale. It ranks up there among the greatest wins ever for the team, right along victories in the 1994 World Cup over Colombia and in 2002 against the Brazilians in the 2002 CONCACAF.

As a child, I grew up in a small town that was all but obsessed with soccer. Young kids grew up playing in leagues that fed into strong high school programs. Our high school made it to three straight state championship games, winning one, and most of our town traveled many miles to see the games during the state playoffs. I’m not gonna sit there and tell you I am the biggest fan of the game in a professional sense, but I do take notice and feel pride when the American soccer team does something to help earn its stripes in world competition. A win like this can be compared to a gold medal at the Olympics, and all of us in the U.S. should take notice and feel a sense of entitlement when something like this happens. Up next for the American will most likely be Brazil, which faces host South Africa in Sunday’s other semifinal, a team that beat them in the opening round and will be highly favored. Maybe we can hope for one more red, white and blue miracle victory.

Mo Williams can now have a career as one of those "money-back guarantee" guys on the infomercials.

Mo Williams can now have a career as one of those "money-back guarantee" guys on the infomercials.

After Cleveland’s Game 4 loss at Orlando to the Magic in the Eastern Conference Finals, Cavs guard Mo Williams guaranteed his team would win the series and move on to play in the Finals. Well, after last night, the dream matchup of Kobe vs. Lebron is just that…a dream. And Mo Williams looks like a fool. It’s never a good idea to guarantee anything in sports. There are only a few  certain guarantees in all of life, two of them being death and taxes. How often does a certain individual make a guarantee and how often does he or she actually come through? All it does is create more pressure on you and your teammates. This year’s Cavs squad seemed a like a tightly-knit bunch, clowning for the cameras during pregame activities and proclaiming their cohesiveness in interviews. But to make a guarantee of that magnitude is a selfish gesture that does not put the team first. More often than not, the promises go empty and the fans and media will jump all over you. Granted, the Cavs did come out focused in Game 5 on their home floor to force a Game 6, riding King James in the fourth quarter. But, as they have done all series, the Magic refocused and trounced the Cavs to put the finishing touches on a series that they for the most part dominated. Granted, LeBron had one of the best playoff series performances of  all-time, averaging nearly 39 points per game, while dishing out eight assists and pulling down eight rebounds. All while continually being double, triple and quadruple-teamed in clutch situations. No one will soon forget his last-second heave in Game 2 that won the game and had him mobbed by his teammates at half-court. But that’s pretty much the only bright spot for the Cavs in the series. After sweeping through the first two rounds against Detroit and Atlanta, the Cavs found themselves in a real battle with an Orlando unit that had found its flow against Boston in the second round. King James got no help from his teammates, and Williams actually hurt his team by making those outlandish comments. I remember in 2004 when Rasheed Wallace guaranteed a victory in the playoffs and Detroit ended up winning and eventually taking the whole thing. He looked like a total genius and was a genuine hero in Motown after. But rarely does this happen. Everyone remembers Detroit Lions quarterback Jon Kitna famously pontificating that the Lions would win 10 games in the 2007 season. After starting the season 6-2, it looked like Kitna was a sports prophet and would be a hometown hero as well, but the Lions finished 1-7 down the stretch and failed to live up to the promise. In 1997, New York Knicks center Patrick Ewing famously said “See you in Chicago” before his Game 7 with the Miami Heat, insinuating that the Knicks would advance to the conference finals against the Bulls. Ewing missed his final six shots in the fourth quarter and the Heat went on to win and face the Bulls. Failure stories like this are more common than the opposite. Moral of the story is this: Keep your damned mouth and let your play do the talking. Otherwise, you’ll just like like a fool. See ya next year, Mo…

Mothers across the country will be the focus of their families’ attention today. It’s Mother’s Day! The day that we honor, cherish and love our moms and thank them for doing what they do, mainly giving life to all of us and then putting up with us every day afterward. My mother is one of the greatest people I know. Smart, savvy, beautiful and caring, Mom is always there for me with a good word of advice or a solid shoulder to lean on. Mom always pushes me to be a better person, a harder worker and a more responsible adult. She nurtured me to become the man I am today, yet knew when to hold back and let me figure things out on my own, so that I could become an independent person. She is also my hero. Battling a dehabilitating disease while raising two wily sons must have been the hardest thing she has ever done in her life, yet she managed to accomplish this task, and she did it well to say the least. A son or daughter is usually a direct reflection of how a mother raised her children, and anyone who has met my older brother Shawn or I can tell you a lot about our mother without ever knowing her. People who I work for and who have never met her ask about her well-being, a testament to her character. She loves cats, and card games, Jeopardy and Dr. Phil. She has traveled the world, and met my father in Amsterdam during her travels. She lived there for several years and gave birth to her sons there. She still speaks Dutch when phoning old friends and family back in the Netherlands, something where I should probably follow her lead. She enjoys watching the Red Wings with my stepfather, and likes to call or text me after my favorite sports teams suffer a loss so she can harass me and get a rise out of me…and it usually works. She knows how to push my buttons, and vice versa. When she is happy, I am happy. When she is sad, I am sad. The worst thing I can ever do is ‘disappoint’ her, which I have done on several occasions. Luckily she doesn’t hold grudges….right Mom??? She loves homemade salads and back in her day she was quite a cook herself, probably something she learned from her mother, who made the most delicious family meals during the holidays. I see a lot of my mother in my grandmother. Two great ladies, may the elder rest in peace.

So here is to mothers across the nation. To their sons and daughters, husbands and partners, thank and love them, not just today, but every day of the year. Mother’s Day is there to remind us of how special moms are and to reflect on what they do for us.  A wise older man told me once “cherish your mother, because you only get one in life…” No truer words can be spoken. Mom, I love you very much and I hope you enjoy your special day!

"I said hit him below the knees, Dennis! The knees!!"

"I said hit him below the knees, Dennis! The knees!!"

Things seem to be getting worse for Detroit and its citizens. After losing Pistons owner Bill Davidson and legendary pitcher Mark “The Bird” Fydrich in the past several weeks, Motown lost another of its sons after the passing of Chuck Daly, who guided the Pistons to back-to-back titles in the early 90s during the Bad Boys days. He passed at age 78 after a battle with pancreatic cancer. Daly was not a Detroit native, nor was he born in state, but Michiganders claimed him as their own. He was a Midwestern-bred man who embraced the blue-coller work ethic that the city was known for. From all accounts, Daly was a class-act individual known for the ability to coach different personalities and dressing in snazzy courtside attire. Some of my first memories as a sports fan where the awesome playoff series between Michael Jordan’s Bulls and Daly’s Pistons in the late 80s and early 90s. One of the biggest subplots in today’s NBA playoffs is the rough play and flagrant fouls occurring an almost a nightly basis, but if you look back at those playoff series almost 20 years ago, today’s chippiness is child’s play comparitively. I was a Bulls fan back in that time (who wasn’t??), and I despised the Bad Boys and their brutish tactics. Anyone remember Dennis Rodman pushing Scottie Pippen into a television camera and giving Pippen a concussion? I don’t even think Rodman was ejected from that game. Daly dominated the Bulls then, and in turn he was given the reigns to the 1992 Olympic basketball team, deemed the “Dream Team” and the most dominant basketball team ever assembled. Joining Daly on the team was his shooting guard Joe Dumars, now the president of the Pistons franchise. Daly retired from basketball as the Pistons’ all-time winningest coach and was the only coach at the time to win an NBA title and an Olympic gold medal. He was inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame and was named one of the league’s top 10 coaches of all-time as well. He is one of the most-famed Detroit sports figures of the past half-century and his legend will be remembered for many years to come. Rest in Peace, Chuck. You will be missed.

BroFest 2009

April 29, 2009

Looking forward to more sunsets this weekend

Looking forward to more sunsets this weekend

Two months of planning and plotting finally comes to a head this weekend in Charleston. Four of my best friends are coming in from all over for BroFest 2009 and, along with some local buddies, we are renting a big house out on the ocean for the weekend for a little ‘bromance’. Homosexual references aside, anyone that knows me even remotely knows how important my friends back home are. I’ve known these four guys for years and years and they are some of the most important people in my life. The fact that they are taking time out of their busy schedules and flying in is a testament how integral our relationships are. It is true that the older you get, the farther apart you become with your friends you had while growing up. But we are exceptions to that rule. It seems that as time goes by, our bonds become stronger. Going from seeing each other every day to only seeing each other a couple times a year, we make the most of our time together when we are lucky enough to get it. I can go months withouts seeing some of these guys, and no matter how long it has been, we never lose a step. No strange “how’s it goings”, no awkward silences. We just pick up where we left off from the last time. No matter where I have moved to and lived, I’ve never had a problem making new friends and fitting in, and I treasure the friendships I have made outside of my hometown clique. During my days at Western Michigan University, I always found it interesting that my college buddies always wanted to be around when my hometown friends were back in town, yet it was never a big deal to hang out with their friends. Not to say we are the coolest people in the world (maybe we are, I don’t know). Either way, this weekend is going to be unbelievable. The sun will be shining, the waves will be crashing, the drinks will be flowing and the women will be shunning us. But I wouldn’t want to share it with anyone else. Here’s to the weekend fellas!

Maybe Matt Stafford will soon be hoisting up an MVP trophy rather than kegs

Maybe Matt Stafford will soon be hoisting up an MVP trophy rather than kegs

Another draft is in the books for the Detroit Lions, and that means another high pick that will undoubtedly be scrutinized and scorned by pundits and fans alike. After the worst record in NFL history, a truly forgettable winless season that saw the Lions rank near the bottom of most major statistical categories, Detroit selected Georgia quarterback Matt Stafford with the first overall pick in the draft to begin a long rebuilding a process once again. ‘Rebuilding process’ is a term that Lions fans have been used to. Over the past few years, the much-maligned franchise has missed the mark on most of its top picks, from Kevin Jones to Charles Rogers to Joey Harrington. Just when things look as if they are getting better, they seem to get worse. Stafford has all the tools to become a successful NFL quarterback, but the question is whether the Lions have the tools to utilize him correctly. He is big, strong, mobile and has a rocket for an arm. His passes are precise and he can hurl the deep ball like few can. Coming from Georgia and its pro-style offense, Stafford is also familiar with the types of sets he will see under center for his new team. But no matter how talented a quarterback is, his success will only be defined by how well his offensive line can protect him. He won’t be able to get those beautiful passes off if he is constantly being laid on his back or chased out of the pocket. Which is the real problem with this pick. Joey Harrington, who was 20-2 as a starter at Oregon, failed to live up to expectations, not because of his lack of skill or leadership, but because of the inability of his teammates to provide him with the protection and support he required to be a successful quarterback. This position has always been a thorn in the side of the Lions franchise. Not since Bobby Layne in the 1950s has Detroit had a reliable starter for successive seasons under center. Not ironically, that was the last time the Lions ever even came close to smelling a championship. For Stafford to be a success, two things need to occur. First, he cannot just be thrown into the fire from day one. He needs to learn the ropes first and play a season behind Daunte Culpepper, who from reports has lost 30 pounds and has looked sharp in spring drills. Culpepper has the tools to be a reliable starter for another year and has the experience to help Stafford get through the growing pains of his first professional season. Culpepper is also teamed back with his former offensive coordinator from Minnesota, where he enjoyed his best years. Second, the Lions need to shore up their offensive line positions, most notably left gaurd. This will help protect their quarterback’s weak side and provide them with ample to time to make reads and the correct throws. Picking offensive lineman Gosder Cherlius from Boston College last year has yet to pay dividends, so free agency may be a route to look into for that. The offense has the weapons to be potent, especially after drafting tight end Brandon Pettigrew from Oklahoma with the 2oth pick. This was another interesting pick from the front office, but it did fill a void. Tight ends are much-needed security blankets for quarterbacks, and the Lions haven’t had a solid man for that position in some years. Coupled with Calvin Johnson, who might be the most gifted reciever in the league, Stafford will have a solid 1-2 punch to throw to once he is handed the reins to the offense. Given time and some development of other younger players on the squad, Stafford has what it takes to be a franchise quarterback. The question is is this the right franchise for him?

Changing of the Guard

April 25, 2009

Rodney Stuckey is part of the future of the Detroit Pistons. Who else will be??

Rodney Stuckey is part of the future of the Detroit Pistons. Who else will be??

I haven’t seen much of the NBA playoffs this season, partly because working at a private club in the Deep South doesn’t lend itself to too much television air time at my place of employment. And also because the Detroit Pistons haven’t put up much of a fight against the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Pistons are down 3-0 in the best of seven series and its beginning to look as if they will be going home after the first round after advancing to six straight conference championship series. After Boston won the NBA title last year, and with Cleveland’s dominance this season, it definitely looks like Detroit is the former Beast of the East. This shift in power is partly due to the emergence of superstar LeBron James and the Kevin Garnett-Ray Allen tandem in Boston, and also due to the significant improvement of several other teams in the conference. One can also look to the much-maligned Chauncey Billups-Allen Iverson trade that occurred in the first week of the NBA season. The Pistons won 59 games last year, but that mark dropped by some 20 wins this season. Meanwhile, the Nuggets are currently about to close out the New Orleans Hornets in the first round out West. Adding Billups to the Nuggets provided that squad with a solid floor leader, a former All-Star and NBA Finals MVP, and gave the team some stability and a clutch peformer down the stretch. Billups is from the Denver area and was a star at Colorado, so seeing him do well in his hometown is a feel good story in its own right. Most Piston fans were and still are upset about this trade. AI was definitely not “The Answer” in Motown, and he will most likely never wear a Piston uniform again. But this trade was not made for this season. Dumping Billups’ contract frees general manager Joe Dumars of a large contract and the ability to go after some of the league’s young guns. The summer of 2009 sees the likes of Ben Gordon, Shawn Marion, David Lee and Carlos Boozer enter free agency status, and the following summer is arguably the greatest free agent class ever. LeBron James, Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, Kobe Bryant and Joe Johnson all will be available to sign with other teams. This is the reason the trade was made. Detroit will have more money to offer than most other teams in the league, and with a championship pedrigee and a loyal hometown following, it will be an attractive destination for one of those big names. I wouldn’t put too much hope in seeing LBJ in a Pistons uni, but I could see the team signing Carlos Boozer this summer to give it more inside presence after the decline of Rasheed Wallace, who will also most likely be let go. Adding a Joe Johnson in the next season is also a possibilty. I believe Joe Dumars has a plan, and before too long, Pistons fans will once again see their beloved team mentioned as one of the league’s elite franchises.

311 rocks the Music Farm

April 24, 2009

Jump up! Jump up! Jump up! Get-Get-Get Down!!

Jump up! Jump up! Jump up! Get-Get-Get Down!!

I’ve been listening to 311 for about 15 years now and they’ve always been one of my favorite bands. Their mix of rap, reggae and rock isn’t my typical genre of choice, but the fact that all the members are talented musicians comes across on their numerous albums, and even more so in their live shows. Last night’s show at the Music Farm, a tiny club in Charleston with great acoustics, was no exception. The show sold out in a matter of hours and approximately a 800 people crammed into the Music Farm to see our heroes from Omaha. Openers The Urgency played to a packed house and seized their moment. The band wasn’t all that impressive and sounded a lot like Hoobastank. You remember that horrible band from the early part of the decade. The crowd response was friendly, but those on stage and those in the pit knew the night was all about 311. After a short break, the house lights went down and the vibe went up. Fans pushed their way up front in the pit and the band came on stage to a thunderous roar. Opening with Freeze Time, the first track off of 1999’s Soundsystem, set the tone for the rest of the evening. The band simultaneously headbanged to the opening riff and the crowd followed suit. The band has been around for over 20 years now, and they haven’t lost their penchant for an energetic stage presence. The rest of the set was a solid mix of classic jams and radio hits, with highlights being Uncalm, Hydroponic, Visit, Creatures and Lose, which they haven’t played in two years. Applied Science saw  drummer Chad Sexton’s usually stellar drum solo accompanied by the rest of the band on their own tom-tom and cymbal sets. The solo lasted a good ten minutes and the crowd approved with a long applause afterward. The band even peformed a new song, Hey You, off their upcoming album. The song was a dramatic improvement over their previous album, Don’t Tread on Me, which didn’t receive a great response from critics and fans. In fact, that was the only album that wasn’t represented on the set list. The encore was a bit weak, in my opinion. Amber was the opening song of the encore, and even though the crowd responded well, it was a downer as far as the energy and pace was concerned. The crowd chanted for the band to play Who’s Got the Herb? but bassist P-Nut chose to play What was I Thinking instead. A great track, for sure, but not something I would put in the encore. The band closed with Down, the song that put them on the map. I was surprised that they didn’t close with Fuck the Bullshit, which is what they ended their shows with the three previous occasions I have seen them and has always been a fan favorite. That didn’t stop me from crowdsurfing, however, and I even shook hands with Tim Mahoney as the bouncer struggled to push me back into the throngs of clammoring fans trying to get a high-five or a drumstick. Walking out of the show, drenched in sweat and sore from head to toe, I realized I had witnessed another impressive showing from 311. Anyone that has any interest in the band should definitely check them out live, you will not be disappointed.

Click the link for a setlist from the show!

http://setlist.com/311/2009/4.23.09.html