Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Sit Down, Apollo

Captain's blog, supplemental:

So, I have a confession to make. Until last night, I had never been to an actual rock concert. That's right; I, who claims to be so knowledgeable about awesome music, had never actually seen a band perform live. But thanks to the generosity of my brother-in-law Tony (who decided to give me his ticket), I was finally on my way.

Accompanying me for my trip into the unknown was my older sister Liesl, my younger sisters Amelia and Isabel, my brother Drew, and his fiancée Camille. As we walked up the stairs to the entrance of the E-Center, I saw a sign posted warning that the show would be using lasers and other lighting effects. That was all right with me. Our seats weren't too bad. We were in the "luxury suite," which meant that we had padded chairs and that people standing up wouldn't block our view.

We had a pretty good view of the stage; we were further back, but it was nearly a straight view to the stage. At first glance, there wasn't anything extraordinary about the stage. In the back were what I thought were curtains so the audience couldn't see backstage. There was a drum kit and some other typical rock equipment, which actually belonged to Silversun Pickups.

Speaking of which, the opening act was less than spectacular. For the first band I've ever really heard live, the didn't set the bar very high. While I could see a lot of potential in their music (I'm pretty sure the last song they played is in Rock Band), they definitely had some balance issues. The sound was muddy enough that the lead singer was impossible to understand. The most exciting thing they did (and which got the biggest cheer) was when he promised us that Muse was going to blow our minds. He also told us that what I thought were curtains were in fact supposed to be skyscrapers.

At the mention of skycrapers, I had a wild idea. The skycrapers were obviously a reference to the video for Muse's hit single "Uprising." The video for that single features a giant teddy bear knocking down skycrapers. It's awesome. Anyway, I noted that there were three skycrapers (one for each member of Muse), and I hoped their opening number (which had to be "Uprising") would somehow feature a teddy bear knocking down each skycraper to reveal the band. I didn't think it was likely, but it sounded cool.

After Silversun Pickups finished (their singer did some weird things with the distortion pedals before getting off the stage), there was a break. You could just feel the anticpation building as the arena filled up. Oddly enough, no equipment was brought onto the stage, which confirmed my theory that the band would be hiding in the skyscrapers. Still no sign of any giant bears, though.

When the lights finally went down, the energy level in the arena jumped about 300%. Then the individual windows on each skycraper began to light up, and I realized the "skycrapers" were not curtains at all, but LED screens. Once every window was lit, people began to climb to the top of each skycraper. Once they reached the top, they fell down and hit the people below them. Once they all hit the bottom, the darkened center section of each building dropped, revealing Muse right as they kicked into "Uprising."

I know, my description doesn't do the opening justice. If you'd like, you can view a phone-made movie of it here. Needless to say, once the band started, it felt like a bomb had gone off. It was just the start of a ride that would last the next two hours without letting up on the gas.

Besides the awesome lights and lasers promised by the sheet of paper on the outside of the E-Center, there was one other very important thing I noticed immediately about the performance. They (vocalist Matthew Bellamy in particular) sounded exactly the same live as they do on their recordings. They were so good, I thought they had to be lip-synching. They weren't. It was incredible. And even after all the shows they've been doing for the past few months, Bellamy's voice was as strong at the end of the show as he was at the beginning. I didn't know that was possible.

After "Uprising," things relaxed a bit with "Resistance" and "New Born." Bellamy then paid tribute to Woodstock, Jimi Hendrix, and America by playing a rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner" on his guitar, which launched right into the smash-hit "Supermassive Black Hole." We had laughed about this song on our way into the concert. We figured that it would be accompanied by lots of high-pitched screams and shouts of "Edward!"

However, when it started, I forgot all about Twilight. It was like a second wind for the concert. Pretty soon, my whole family jumped up and started dancing, and the people behind us joined in. "Supermassive" transitioned smoothly (and wisely) into "Hysteria," another huge hit and one of my personal favorites.

The concert slowed again after that, at least until the band played the old standards "Time is Running Out" and "Plug in Baby." After the latter, the band said goodnight, and walked off the stage. Though it was my first concert, I knew there would be an encore, and that it would probably be a well-known song. My hope was that it would be "Knights of Cydonia," my all-time favroite. So I was disappointed when they came back on stage and played the "Exogenesis Symphony, Part I," followed by "Stockholm Syndrome." By this time, I was really worried that "Knights" was going to be skipped. It would have been devastating.

But Muse wasn't finished yet. A harmonica began to play, and I recognized the opening chords of "Knights" being played very, very slowly. After this little intro, the band kicked it into overdrive with the song itself, and I felt one last burst of energy as we all got up and danced again. My knight was finally complete.

So, I don't know if this really counts as a review, or if it's just a glorified journal entry I'm sharing with everyone. My point is that this was an exhilirating experience that I'll probably never forget. More importantly, it's left me with an insatiable desire to hear more Muse. Even as I've been writing this, I've listened to three whole albums.

The sad thing is that I feel the bar has been set way too high for all future concerts that I may attend, and they may all seem like disappointments after this one. I guess we'll find out when Paramore comes to town on May 10. You stay classy, readers!

By the way, if anyone can tell me (without looking anything up) the signifcance of the title, I will give you a prize. As always, post guesses in the comments section.


  1. You forget the fantastic United State of Eurasia, which pays homage to what I think is a more accurate comparison than Radiohead: Freddie and the gang over at Queen.

    It was a great concert and I can promise you that those of us on the floor were dancing and jumping the whole time, because, well...how can you not when the musicians give you such levels of intense energy?

  2. ha! this is the most dramatic account i've ever heard of a concert.

  3. I stumbled here from Andy Sherwin's blog... and I'm in love with this "journal entry." I was at that show and I couldn't agree with you more. The engery was high and the quality was off-the-scales. I saw Muse again about two weeks later at the Coachella music festival in Indio, CA. They were awesome the second time around, and my only complaint was that they didn't get to do their entire set. Well, that and the fact that it was basically the exact same show. But hey, it was awesome both times, so I'm done complaining. Thanks for letting me relive the awesomeness.