Highdive, 1999

Well this is a blast from the past.

I was stumbling through one playlist or another on Spotify today, trying to find a good listen while I worked. One song—I forget which—reminded me a bit of Hum, so I started playing You’d Prefer An Astronaut. That only lasted a few seconds because it was much slower than I needed.

All of a sudden the name Sarge, another Champaign–Urbana band from the late 90s, popped into my head and I went to go find them. Because Spotify now seems to have everything ever recorded, I had a lot of fun listening to The Glass Intact and Charcoal for the first time in years.

The "Dear Josie, Love Robyn" 7" album cover.

For some reason this made me start poking around at my archives, trying to find out which 7″ vinyl I had of theirs from way back when. I never found the exact answer, though I’m fairly confident it’s Dear Josie, Love Robyn (pictured above).

While searching pictures on Google Drive, I ran into a couple ticket stubs that brought back more memories and I decided to write this all here so that they’re easier to remember in the future. 🙂

A ticket stub for a Local H, Sarge, and Dismemberment Plan show at the High Dive in Urbana, IL on November 12, 1999.

On November 12, 1999, we saw Sarge play with Local H at the Highdive in Champaign, IL. I believe I was somewhat familiar with Sarge, but only barely with Local H at the time. Local H’s setlist is available, but I can’t find anything for Sarge.

I don’t remember Dismemberment Plan at all, though I’ve now enjoyed a handful of tracks and I’m happy to have stumbled upon the name for future listening.

The discovery of that first ticket stub was great because I hadn’t thought of that show in a long, long time. I had only ever remembered seeing Veruca Salt at the Highdive with The Cupcakes, which apparently was just a few weeks later.

A ticket stub for a Veruca Salt and The Cupcakes show at the High Dive in Urbana, IL on December 2, 1999.

This show was memorable because it was the first show for Veruca Salt after Nina Gordon left. We were also geeking out on The Cupcakes because their drummer was Matt Walker, who had recently left as Jimmy Chamberlin’s replacement in the Smashing Pumpkins.

What times. The things you could see for $8 in 1999!

P.S. I wrote this while listening to Smoking Popes songs. I’ll save that one for another time.

Here I am writing about Weezer

Weezer released a surprise “covers” album this week, The Teal Album. My take from a Slack conversation yesterday:

I listened to the album twice this morning and my takeaway is that they covered everything just like you would want if you went to a bar that had a cover band

Nothing great about it, but they stay true to the originals so it’s easy to sing along.

That’s not the point though. Any time I talk about Weezer I’m reminded of the second time I saw them live. In fact, until tonight, I had completely forgotten about the first time I saw them live: at Q101’s Twisted Christmas 3 in Chicago, 1996. That just sparked a whole other train of memories!

But the second time! United Center, September 21, 2001, when they were touring for the Green Album.

I have this memory of disliking Weezer strongly after that show because I paid $40 for (likely) mediocre seats and they played for 45 minutes with a one song encore.

Now, my memory is probably off on quite a bit and some is hard to verify. It turns out that the ticket was $25 with a $6.40 service charge, so not quite 40. The setlist shows 17 songs and a 2 song encore. Weezer songs are short, so it’s entirely possible that’s why the set length seemed like nothing to me at the time. Memories are strange, so it’s entirely possible I chose to adjust details over time. 🙂

The other thing about that show is they had Cold as the opening band. Cold sounded nothing like Weezer and the crowd couldn’t stand it. It was the crowd’s booing that night in Chicago that resulted in Cold leaving the tour early. In trying to figure out why they were on tour with Weezer in the first place, I found that Rivers later worked with Cold on Stupid Girl, a song from their 2003 follow-up album. I can only assume he enjoyed something about their earlier work and asked them to join the tour.

So there you have it and now I’m done writing about Weezer.

P.S. If you haven’t seen this SNL sketch about Weezer, it’s one of the best.

Rediscovering the Cranberries

I rediscovered the Cranberries 6 years ago. They had been a presence in high school—Zombie was a constant on the airwaves—but other than liking the song like other grunge songs, I don't remember having a full appreciation for the band.

It was in 2011 that I remember really listening to Zombie and coming closer to understanding it for the first time. My personal connection with Ireland had become much stronger after falling in love with the country over 5 different trips and I had a better grasp of the song's substance. I set off to explore the rest of the Cranberries' albums, became a fan, and added them to my regular catalog.

If I could go back to my 1992-1996 self, I would tell him to obsess over any Cranberries show available. Every time I listen to their albums I get so amped and start dancing around. So good!

Me, on Facebook – December 24, 2014

It's very sad to hear of Dolores O'Riordan's passing at 46. So young and so talented. I'm happy for the music she shared with us while she was here and I'll continue enjoying it for years.

Thank you, Dolores.

Featured image, The Cranberries en Barcelona, licensed CC By 2.0 by Alterna2 on Flickr.

David Bowie

David Bowie performs at Tweeter Center outside Chicago in Tinley Park,IL, USA on August 8, 2002. Photo by Adam Bielawski

I have so many good memories around David Bowie.

My second band, Cycle Pinsetter, was obsessed. We ate up everything Bowie. Covering at least Ziggy Stardust, Rebel Rebel, Andy Warhol, and Queen Bitch—and playing them over and over and over again. The recordings that I have will always be fun to revisit.

The music. He was one of the first artists I actually dug in and discovered after finally getting over a sole obsession with The Smashing Pumpkins. I remember vividly the Bowie section of my CD rack—Hunky Dory, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane, Diamond Dogs.

The movies. Obviously, eating up Labyrinth again and again. My sister and I still do the “you remind me of the babe” back and forth. Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence. Pontius Pilate in The Last Temptation of Christ.

We were fortunate to see him in concert! August 8th, 2002 at the Tweeter Center, where the picture above was taken. I don’t remember much about the performance except that he went on as the sun was going down. It was the perfect rock star moment where the sky was a backdrop on this huge stage and Bowie’s hair was blowing just enough in the wind on the large video monitor as he belted out Fame or something similar. Such a great time.

It’s a sad moment. But the music still plays and I’m dancing while I write this. Thanks, Bowie. ⚡️