Baby Proms – The night before Christmas

On Saturday we went to the Sydney Opera House for Baby Proms: The Night Before Christmas. It was a super show for kids. Xavier was absolutely enthralled the entire time. Especially when they asked him to stand up and dance.

Xavier, enraptured by the music
Xavier, enraptured by the music

The performance mixed a dramatic telling of the classic story, with actions for the kids, and a wide array of Christmas carols. The songs ranged quite a bit, but mostly stuck to the standard song book: Up on the rooftop, Rudolph the Rednose Reindeer, Jingle Bells, Silent Night, and so on. They did, however, localize the 12 days of Christmas for the australian audience.

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…

Twelve koalas napping,
Eleven brolgas dancing,
Ten lizards leaping,
Nine emus running,
Eight possums climbing,
Seven dingos digging,
Six crocs a snapping,
Five kangaroos,
Four lyrebirds,
Three hissing snakes,

Fête de la Musique

Each year on June 21st the city of Paris has a giant party. The ‘Fête de la Musique’ is a celebration of music, and is an absolutely amazing event to experience if you’re a fan of live music.

The original idea was pitched back in 1976 as a way to encourage amateur musicians to get out and play, and to celebrate musicality in general. When we were out last weekend, it wasn’t so much amateur individuals as it was amateur groups. We did catch one guy by himself with a drum kit, and another lone tap dancer, but for the most part it was smallish groups that I would expect would play at local bars.

The amazing thing though is that there was one of these groups on every corner! Didn’t like listening to french covers of Stone Temple Pilots? Cross the street and listen to a French guy that looks like Aragorn performing Gansta’s Paradise.

We started in sort of a party district in the downtown core near St Germain and wandered around from 7pm to juts past midnight. The bulk of the shows were set to start at around 8, so things were slow to start. During the peak hours (9-10) there were people elbow to elbow throughout the streets, and everyone was dancing.

My highlight, though, was seeing a guy that looks like my Brother in Law jamming on the Electric Ukelele.

311 and Slightly Stoopid

I just got back from a 311 concert at the Queen E. My ears are still ringing, and I can’t really heard myself type. It was a great show.

A friend had bought me some tickets in return for letting him crash on my couch for a little over a week. Definitely a good trade. I hadn’t heard of the opening guys, but 311 was a band that I had rocked out to quite a bit in High School.

The opening act, Slightly Stoopid, was surprisingly good. They had a very unusual sound, probably because they kept switching up genres with each song. Sometimes they were Reggae, sometimes Ska, they did two punk numbers, and a couple of songs that sounded like Snow. Overall, very good. But, it’s hard to go wrong when you have two percussion sections, and a brass section. This also marked the first bongo solo I’ve seen performed on stage. Probably the highlight for these guys was the sheer amount of  bass they were generating. They opened with the kick drum and a bass guitar solo — I was pretty sure my eyeballs were going to explode.

After an incredible finishing number (all music, no singing) the band let up for a 30 minutes intermission and then the main act came on.

Before this concert, I asked a number of people if they’d be interested in catching the 311 concert with me. To my surprise, no one I know knew who they were (even the person I sold the tickets to had never heard of them; she was purchasing tickets to the openers instead). I don’t really know how people my age haven’t heard of the band before, they had a number of pretty big radio hits during the 90s that I’m sure would have stuck with you. The three biggest being Amber, Love Song, and Down.

Anyhow, obviously some people remembered these guys. As the lights went down, their bass player let rip an amazing solo (Why can’t I buy that for Rock Band?!) to the sold out hall that had everyone standing in their seats. No one sat down for the next ninety minutes as the band played a great mixture of old and new songs.

The highlight of the show was an awesome solo by drummer Chad Sexton. They hit the lights and he pounded away solo for 3 and a half minutes. When they raised the lights, there were 4 more kits on stage, and the rest of the band accompanied him for another 2 minutes. They hammed it up a little, drumming robotic style, and running with a short cowbell solo — it was great.

SXSW Showcasing Music Torrents

SXSW is an annual music festival held in Austin Texas. According to the SXSW website, the festival “showcases hundreds of musical acts from around the globe on over fifty stages in downtown Austin. By day, conference registrants do business in the SXSW Trade Show in the Austin Convention Center and partake of a full agenda of informative, provocative panel discussions featuring hundreds of speakers of international stature.”

Apparently, they also make available a good portion of the music that is played at the event. It’s legally downloadable via a torrent at SXSW Showcasing Music Torrents.

This year, they released 3.5 Gigs of downloadable music content. That’s a lot of tunes.

Not sure how good the content is just yet, I’ve just started downloading it. According to my torrent client, I’ve got at least a day to wait.

What’s a Reggae?

On Thursday, Reggae legends Toots and the Maytals played a show at the commodore ballroom. Showing my complete lack of knowledge surrounding all things reggae, I spent most of the day asking my coworkers what a Toot’s was. I got answers like ‘the coolest senior citizen you’ll ever see’ or ‘his bass player is the coolest man alive’. Tickets weren’t that bad, so I checked it out. I was very impressed.

The band played a 3.5 hours set with no breaks – starting at 10 and ending around 1:30.
Toots won a grammy last year for Best Reggae Album.
The bass player really is the coolest man alive.
The band speaks reggae, not English. I only recognized 5 words of English the entire night, and three of those were ‘yeah’, ‘oh yeah’, and ‘whoah’.
Being a reggae band does not prohibit you from playing guitar with your teeth.
There is no sense of tempo to a reggae concert. Some people swayed gently, others danced like they were at a rave, still others stood and convulsed at blistering speeds. It all felt appropriate.

The most impressive thing about the night though was when Toots managed to convince 80 odd college girls (and one guy, who thought he was a college girl) to get up on stage and dance. The man is 70 some odd years old. Most guys hit ‘creepy old man’ in their 30s – how this guy got that much attention from people who should rightly be his grand-grand children, I don’t know. If he’s not already, he should really be made the spokesman for Viagra.

In general, the concert was pretty good, but I’m a little biased because I’d never listened to his music before, so it was sorta hard to jam along. Actually, I had never really listened to reggae before. This would have been an awesome concert if I’d been more familiar with the tunes.