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Wordless Wednesday

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Hearing ‘That Voice Again’ – Peter Gabriel’s Back To Front

A few months ago, I wrote an article about Peter Gabriel’s Back to Front tour and the 25th anniversary of his groundbreaking album So. On October 6, Gabriel performed at the Hollywood Bowl, where I sat in section L2, completely dumbstruck. At 62 years of age, he’s still got it. Not quite like he had it when he was in his 20s, 30s, and even 40s, but rather in a more subdued manner. Maybe he wasn’t rolling around the stage in a hamster ball, or prancing about the stage as a flower, but he was skipping, running around, and even dancing, which is a real feat considering he kept his voice unwavering throughout the performance.

Gabriel performed the concert in three stages. The first, he said, was to be as if they were rehearsing, and experimenting with new sounds. True to his word, the lights throughout the arena remained on, and he sat before the piano. A hush spread throughout the packed arena. Gabriel began to play, singing a beautiful little song, that is, as of now, still unfinished. As he finished, the crowd was getting excited for what he had in store for them. In this rehearsal stage, he (and of course the magnificent Tony Levin, Manu Katché, David Rhodes, David Sancious, Jennie Abrahamson, and Linnea Olsson) played “Come Talk To Me,” “Shock the Monkey,” and “Family Snapshot.” They were not played like the studio versions. Rather, he jazzed them up, making them into completely new acoustic versions of these songs.

Stage two was to be the second course, before the dessert, namely So in its entirety. At this point, the crowd was on its feet, so ready to sing our hearts out. Peter Gabriel performed powerful electronic versions of several of Gabriel’s classic songs, starting with “Digging in the Dirt,” “Secret World,” and “The Family and the Fishing Net,” and finishing with “No Self Control,” “Solsbury Hill,” and “Washing of the Water.” At this point, the concert became a show, with spectacular lights moving about the stage like great living creatures, amazing cinematography displayed on massive screens spaced throughout the arena, and Gabriel and the band executing some synchronized dance moves. For “Solsbury Hill,” Gabriel began skipping about the stage, involving the audience in his obvious joy, and eventually leading the rest of the band around the stage in a happy, skipping procession. The second stage concluded with an extremely powerful and beautiful rendition of “Washing of the Water,” one that literally brought tears to my eyes.

And for stage three, Peter softly announced that dessert had finally arrived. A thrum of anticipation swept throughout the crowd as we waited, breathless, for him to begin. Everything began to glow red, marking the beginning of the opening track from So, “Red Rain.” For “Sledgehammer,” the audience leapt to its feet once again, singing uproariously. At the conclusion, Abrahamson joined Gabriel in the forefront as they began to sing “Don’t Give Up.” The crowd grew silent, everyone holding their breath in anticipation. The haunting lyrics resonated throughout the Bowl, sounding inspirational at the same time.

Next thing I knew, I was hearing “That Voice Again.” The people all around me became friends, comrades, and we all sang in unison, remembering the first time we heard that voice. Then we watched Peter sink to his knees, slowly falling backwards until he lay flat on his back, staring up into the lights. The first notes of “Mercy Street” rose up from the stage, evoking images of water, rowing a boat, and family. I looked over at my father, tears welling up in his eyes as he sang along to the lyrics, “…in your daddy’s arms…” His obvious joy at all the memories the song brought back made me so thankful to Peter Gabriel for giving such a gift. Truly, only Peter could sing an entire song lying on the ground and make it a work of pure art. From there, the tone changed dramatically as he transitioned into the satirical “Big Time.” The audience laughed and sang, chanting the last 17 ‘big’s enthusiastically. Then came the dark “We Do What We’re Told,” referring to the Milgrim 37 social experiment. The lights turned red, and Peter sang with such regret and anger as to invoke the same feelings in us. He transitioned into the strange and whimsical “This Is The Picture (Excellent Birds),” and finally to the iconic “In Your Eyes.”

Before he began, however, a surprise was waiting in the wings. A man, dressed in black, wearing a baseball cap, ran out onto the stage and handed Peter a large bulky object. Peter announced gleefully, “Mr. John Cusack!” whereupon the man gave a bow and the crowd erupted in tumultuous cheering as Peter raised the boombox above his head, grinning wildly at the reaction. After the song concluded, the members left the stage one by one. We all kept cheering, eager for the encore. It came, as promised, beginning with “The Tower That Ate People.” And, for the final song, Peter sang his eulogy to Steven Biko. As each band member left the stage, we sat, enraptured, chanting the last echoes of that haunting song as Manu Katché kept the beat going. We left in a daze, without that feeling of bereavement we’re usually left with after an amazing concert. It was the perfect ending to a perfect night.

There’s nothing better than going to see your favorite artist in concert. It might be better even than listening to their studio versions with your vFree, which is saying something!

Here’s John Cusack handing Peter Gabriel the boombox:

And here’s a look at some of Peter’s elaborate costumes from his Genesis days:

Finally, here he is in one of his complex creations—a human hamster ball:

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Photographic Recap of The Bridge School Benefit

Recently I posted on the blog about having my in-ear headphones on non-stop, getting psyched for the Bridge School Benefit Concert last weekend in Mountain View, CA at Shoreline. It was definitely an amazing night! The sense of community coming together for a good cause –  to benefit The Bridge School –  was definitely in the air. Some of the artists I had seen prior to this show, but for most it was the first time I had ever seen them perform live.

The highlight of the evening was without a doubt, Jack White. His all-female band Saturday night brought the house down.  Guns N’ Roses was a little strange, maybe out of place, as the performance would have been fine but the F-bombs Axl dropped several times in front of the students and their parents were a little jarring. The shocker of the evening was Eddie Vedder who was not on the bill but came on to do a couple of songs before GNR came on. I would have very much welcomed a full set from him!  I enjoyed Neil Young and Crazy Horse, Foster the People, and Ray LaMontagne, all artists whom I have seen before. Steve Martin was really funny and entertaining with the Steep Canyon Rangers. Gary Clark Jr., Lucinda Williams, Sara McLachlan and k.d. lang all put on a great show for everyone.

Every year it’s a different lineup, but always acoustic and always a good time. For the last few days, I have constantly had my headphones in, listening to some favorites but also getting acquainted with Gary Clark Jr., whose set I really liked. Here are some great images from Velodyne friend Jay Blakesberg who was there to document the 2-day concert.

Neil Young plays to the students, warms up the crowd

Neil Young, the Godfather of Grunge

Gary Clark, Jr.

Lucinda Williams

Steve Martin

k.d. lang

Sarah McLachlan

Foster the People

 

Ray LaMontagne

The Flaming Lips

Jack White

 

Eddie Vedder

Guns N’ Roses

Various, Finale Saturday

Various, Finale Sunday

Hope to see you there next year!

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Wordless Wednesday – Music Speaks

Some days its just better to insert your vPulse in-ear headphones and start all over.

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Imagine Dragons

 

I recently discovered an indie rock band called Imagine Dragons. Based in Las Vegas, Nevada, Imagine Dragons formed in 2008, and after winning multiple battle of the band competitions, released two EPs, one called Imagine Dragons EP and the other called Hell and Silence EP in 2010. The music video for their song “It’s Time” has been nominated for an MTV Video Music Award in the category for “Best Rock Video.” The single “It’s Time” charted in the top 40 on the Billboard Alternative and Billboard Rock charts. After the music video’s release in April 2012, Imagine Dragons was named MTV PUSH Artist of the Week.

Imagine Dragons released their debut album, entitled Night Visions, on September 4, 2012, and it peaked at #2 on the Billboard 200 chart, its first week of sales exceeding 83,000 copies. They have performed on both The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and Jimmy Kimmel Live! and on the TV show Glee, Darren Criss covered “It’s Time.” Their song “Lost Cause” is on the soundtrack for Frankenweenie: Unleashed!

An up-and-coming rock band, Imagine Dragons is currently on tour with electronic rock band Awolnation. Upcoming tour dates are as follows:

October 22, 2012: Nashville, TN (The Mercy Lounge)

October 23, 2012: Atlanta, GA (Tabernacle)

October 24, 2012: Tampa, FL (Ritz Ybor)

October 25, 2012: Lake Buena Vista, FL (House of Blues-Orlando)

 

In November, Imagine Dragons will be touring Europe.

 

Here’s a look at their MTV nominated music video for the song “It’s Time:”

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Music Monday – Neil Young and Crazy Horse

Psychedelic Pill, the forcoming release from Neil Young and Crazy Horse

It’s Music Monday – What are you listening to? Sitting at my desk working, I’ve had my vPulse headphones in and buzzing along to Jack White, Foster the People, The Flaming Lips. Usually my musical choices are chosen on a whim but not this time. I’m getting very excited for The Bridge School Benefit concert next weekend!

You may not know that Neil Young, iconic singer-songwriter who has a career spanning over 40 years and – count ‘em – TWO inductions into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame has two sons with cerebral palsy. In 1986, Neil and his wife Pegi helped start The Bridge School, which specializes in educating children with severe speech, communication and physical impairments. Twenty-six years ago, the first Bridge School Benefit Concert was held, with performers including Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Nils Lofgren, Don Henley, Tom Petty, Robin Williams, and Bruce Springsteen raising the funds necessary to open the school in 1987. Every year since, with the exception of the year the school opened, a benefit concert has been held with a performance by Neil Young – with the full line-up playing acoustic instruments.

This year, the concert is the weekend of October 20-21, 2012. Here are the artists scheduled to perform:

As always, this line-up is impressive and the night will likely be legendary. I couldn’t be more excited to attend a killer concert while contributing to a great cause. Enjoy this video of “Ramada Inn” by Neil Young with Crazy Horse; it’s got that raw, unmistakeable, rockin’ signature Neil Young sound I have grown up with and respected my entire life. Enjoy the rest of your Music Monday!

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“Pin It To Win It” Pink v-Pulse Giveaway

The new pink vPulse are in stock now. Three lucky people will have a chance to win a pair of these highly coveted in-ear headphones which retail at $99. It’s easy to enter – just go to our website,  and pin the pink vPulse image to one of your pinboards to get started. Complete the rafflecopter below and you will be entered to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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How to get stuff done

  1. Go to a public place, preferably where caffeinated hot beverages are served.
  2. Drink a hot beverage.
  3. Play John Mayer’s album Battle Studies (or music of equivalent mellowness) through noise-reducing headphones, thereby creating for yourself a private world of focused concentration.
  4. Start.

The rest will take care of itself. Take it from someone who knows.

 

-Benevolent Siren

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Velodyne Supports the Community: Music Matters Family Festival

 

The Surf Spot in Pacifica, CA will be holding its first annual Music Matters Family Festival September 23, 2012. 100% of the proceeds will go to Music Matters in Pacifica. MMiP is a new program of the Pacifica Education Foundation that advocates and raises funds to support the instrumental music program for 6th through 8th graders in the Pacifica School District.
 The Surf Spot is hosting performances by The Refugees (Tom Petty Tribute Band), Curt Yagi and The People Standing Behind Me, 5D and Green Room Music. There will be a special guest deejay. Doors open at noon and there is a $5 admission – 100% of the proceeds will be donated to Pacifica’s Music Matters Foundation.We hope you and your families can come out and support children’s music programs, while enjoying the fun  lineup of bands, games, food and drinks! Velodyne has donated a few “swag bags” that Curt Yagi & The People Standing Behind Me will be giving away. You could walk away with a pair of vPulse in-ear headphones that retail at $99!

Good swag for a good cause!

Surf Spot Restaurant. 4627 Coast Highway. http://surfspoteats.com/ For more information on Music Matters in Pacifica visit http://www.musicmattersinpacifica.org/.

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