Monday, November 12, 2012 your mom making you a Big Mac

Saturday, October 6th, 2012
Saliva, October Rage, Goon
Main Street Live, Murfreesboro, TN

Saliva has been my favorite band for years. This show marked the 9th show of theirs that I have been to, including five shows where I have driven out of state to see them. Way back when, I went to a concert of theirs without having listened to much of their music, and I instantly fell in love with them. The lead singer, Josey Scott, was an intense, energetic and passionate performer, the likes of whom I had never seen before. Through each one of the subsequent seven performances, I never saw Josey's performances falter. Each one was as good as the last, and each one cemented that, at least in my opinion, they were a live music powerhouse that was unequaled among else anyone I had seen. Truly no other rock band has even come close in comparison to the quality of the live performances they produce.

So needless to say, I was very concerned when Saliva announced the departure of Josey Scott last year. I had watched their albums go from intense rap rock (Every Six Seconds), to happy mainstream rock (Blood Stained Love Story) to something that was a cross of light rock and Christian rock (Under Your Skin). Knowing that Josey's personal life was leading down a religious road, it wasn't surprising to see their last three albums be completely devoid of profanity, and have a decidedly happier and more optimistic sound. But still, once it was announced that he had parted way to pursue his own Christian music career, I was left wondering what the fate of the band would be. Would I still be able to hang on as a fan, even with Josey gone?

Earlier this year, they announced that they'd recruited a new lead singer, Bobby Amaru. Not wanting to pass judgment unduly, I decided to wait until I made it to one of their live performances before I would decide if I was still going to be just as gung-ho of a Saliva fan as I'd always been. A huge part of me really wanted to hang on since I've loved Saliva as a band...Wayne (lead guitar), Dave (bass) and Paul (drums) are all incredibly talented guys, and individually I would be a fan of each one. But another part of me wondered if it was better to move on, and cordially cut my ties with them so I could remember them fondly as a complete band with Josey.

So when they finally announced a couple of dates near Nashville, I was very excited to finally see them again and form my opinion. The last time I'd seen them perform with Josey at the lead was at the Gathering of the Juggalos last year, which was an incredible way for Josey to go out with a bang. But this time, they'd be in a much smaller club in the next city over from me, where I had already seen them once before. I didn't have any company to go with me, so I made the hour long drive alone.

When I arrived shortly before 9:00pm, a local band was playing. I didn't catch their name, but I will call them "I swear we're not terrorists" since that was what they prefaced one song by saying. They were good enough I guess, and after their set, I grabbed a drink and settled into a spot right up at the stage. The next band to play was Goon, who were also apparently local and seemed to have a lot of friends in the audience.

Goon's lead singer

Goon's guitarist

The guys behind me started to mosh...but you couldn't really even call it moshing since it was just some guys sort of pushing each other half-heartedly so they wouldn't spill their drinks haha.

The primary opening act for the show was October Rage, who are from Australia. The audience seemed very enthusiastic about them, and they fed off the energy of the crowd really well.






They were very entertaining, with the lead guitarist showboating around and the lead singer swinging his dreads. Overall they were quite good, which is just what I love to see when I go to shows!

When it was time for Saliva to begin, I overheard a guy near me talking about how excited he was to see them. Then he said something like "There's a guy in the band who spits water everywhere, so if you don't want to get wet, you better stand back!" Well, the guy was obviously talking about Jonathan Montoya, who had been kicked out of the band at the end of 2010! Oy! If this guy didn't know that Jonny wasn't going to be there, he certainly didn't know that Josey had been replaced either. So I braced for it. I had no idea if it was gonna be awesome or horrible, fantastic or abysmal, but I was hoping for the best.

Hmm....I wonder what song they're gonna use that for...:-)

As the guys took the stage one by one, they just sort of walked out with no fanfare, and almost looked like they didn't even want to be there. Finally, Bobby charged his way out and began to sing with all his heart. But the crowd just sort of stood there. Everyone was looking at each other in this puzzled sort of way. The three girls next to me all looked at each other, pointed at him and shrugged. Then one got on her phone and they all started to look at it, apparently Googling the answer as to why there was a new lead singer. I felt really bad for Bobby honestly...they really hadn't done a good enough job of letting their fans know that Josey was gone, and he was taking the brunt of it by people acting confused at his presence. But he kept going, as did the rest of the guys.

Pics first, then we'll get to my opinion...




A big, wide open, brightly room lit stage, with Paul waaaaay in the back




So as I stood there, trying to give him the benefit of the doubt that he was a worthy replacement for Josey, I found myself disappointed. Despite giving it his all, Bobby just didn't have that energy or stage presence that Josey had. He moved around the stage a lot (probably more so than Josey ever did, since Bobby is skinny and Josey was "teddy bear sized"), but I never got that feeling that he was enchanting the audience and drawing them into the performance. The whole thing just sort of felt...flat. Dave and Wayne barely moved at all...which is the way it always was with Josey...but this time it exacerbated the fact that the stage just felt a little empty. It just wasn't the same, in a bad way.

A few times, the reality of this "change in the weather" for Saliva hit me when Bobby would start to sing songs that I felt were uniquely Josey's. The first time I noticed this was when he started to sing Superstar. I've heard Josey sing that song 8 other times, and it always seemed like such a personal song about the struggles in his past. So when Bobby started to sing just sounded so wrong and almost disrespectful in a way. Like...that's not YOUR song...that's not YOUR emotion...that's Josey's song about his struggles with cocaine and becoming famous. It just felt wrong to hear someone else sing it, and I hated that it felt that way, but I had to be honest with myself about it.

Before it sounds like I'm bashing poor Bobby to death, I want to make it very clear that I didn't think Bobby did a bad job with his performance. He was energetic and fun, and seemed to be very happy while he performed. He just had VERY big shoes to fill in replacing Josey, and I didn't think he was an appropriate choice as a replacement at all. At the very least I think they should have gone with someone older since Bobby seemed very young in comparison to the rest of the guys in the band.

Through the show, the crowd seemed to warm up to them well enough, but not nearly like any of the other Saliva shows I've been to. There was also a lot of sloppy drunkenness going on in the crowd, which is never a good time for those of us who are actually there to see the band. The most disheartening point though came when Dave and Paul both left the stage, leaving only Bobby and Wayne. And Bobby says "Now we're gonna play you an Alice in Chains song!" Um...WHAT?! You're freaking SALIVA. I came to a Saliva show to see Saliva sing Saliva songs, not to see Saliva halfheartedly sing an old Alice in Chains song. BAD, BAD move on their part. It sounded like they were just trying to be a cover though they don't have enough good music of their own to fill up an entire show. What in the world were they thinking with that one?? Sad.

So as the show ended, I ended up catching one of Paul's drumsticks, which was a first for me, remarkably. I greeted him briefly after the show, but was afraid to say too much since I was quite underwhelmed with the show overall. When I made my way back out to my car for the drive home, I didn't even want to listen to the Saliva that was playing on the stereo. The drive home was just weird, and I had this awful, sad feeling since it just wasn't as good as it used to be. It felt like sending your long time boyfriend into the "friend zone" because you're just not in love with him the way you used to be. Things have changed, and while you'll always have fond memories of the way it was in the past, you're not so sure that you'll have many more memories together in the future. Honestly it affected me a lot worse than I ever imagined that it would.

The following night, Saliva had another show in Clarksville, TN, which is about 45 minutes north-west of where I live. And I chose not to go. It was sad and unfortunate that someone that I've driven three hours to see before now couldn't even garner a 45 minute drive out of me.

The best analogy I can find for Josey being replaced with Bobby is this: Imagine your mom trying to make you a Big Mac. She could make the burgers, and make a three tiered bun, and pile it with lettuce and onions and sauce. But at the end of the day, it's just not gonna be a Big Mac. That special something that made you want a Big Mac in the first place simply won't be there unless you get it directly from McDonald's. Such is the case with Saliva now. That special something that always made me love Saliva was Josey and his uncanny ability to enchant any crowd he was in front of. Removing him and replacing him with someone else means that it just doesn't feel like a Saliva show. Bobby might know all the lyrics, and might be energetic with his performance and might yell "Hell yeah!" into the mic, but at the end of the day, he's just not Josey. And apparently that is a much bigger deal to me than I was hoping it would be.

I'm not sure how my adoration for Saliva will go from this point. Obviously it won't be the same, and my love for them won't be so automatic anymore. But in and of themselves, I'm very willing to give any future albums a listen and possibly hang on as a fan of the music. But as far as live shows go, I think the heyday of Saliva will be relegated to Yesterland.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Belated blog entry - ABK at the Limit

Sunday, July 1st, 2012
ABK, DJ Clay
The Limit, Nashville, TN

As you probably know, our beloved home of underground music in Nashville, the Muse, closed back in May. One of the main concerns that surfaced after its demise was where ABK would play when he came to town. We've been very lucky that ABK has adopted us as a favorite tour stop, so we wanted to make sure that he had a comfy new venue to use when he visits. My friend Lyrical ended up being the promoter for this show, and after some calls, it was decided that The Limit in Printer's Alley was going to be the best alternate venue. It was roughly the same size as the Muse, but the stage is a little lower to the ground, and they have a full bar up front. The main drawbacks would be that there isn't a lot of parking in the immediate area (and basically no free parking), and there isn't any outdoor space that is semi-private. But overall, it was a pretty good choice, IMO.

When the day arrived, it was like 105 degrees outside. Since I knew that Lyrical was doing the promoting for the show, I'd asked in advance if I could sneak some of my Wicked Sweets cupcakes into the dressing room for the guys in the crew to enjoy. She was cool with it, so I'd spent the previous evening whipping up some of my Moon Mist cupcakes and packaging them with my cute new logo. That afternoon, I arrived at The Limit in the afternoon to help her set up, and made sure that my cupcakes were in place and ready for ABK and DJ Clay :-) I even sent out a few tweets about them, which caught DJ Clay's attention!

After a quick pit stop back by my house for a shower, I made it back to the venue just before showtime that night.

Yep, I'm in the right place!

Of course, due to the location of the venue, I had to park probably half a mile away and make the walk to the venue, but it was alright...better than spending $10 to park next door! When I arrived, we discovered that there had been some confusion about a cooler for the dressing room, so we ended up making a call to Moonshine to see if he happened to have a cooler that we could use. By chance, he did have a cooler in the back of his truck, but he said it hadn't been cleaned out, so we'd have to clean it before we used it. No we told him to bring it in. Well, once he arrived, I ended up spending about 15 minutes cleaning out Moonshine's cooler so we could chill some beer for the crew! haha

Once it was time for the show to start, the first act was Project Assassins. This was the second time I'd seen them perform, and they're very entertaining. Next up was local group Lords of Chaos. I've seen them a few times in the last couple of years, and I'm very glad that they've stepped up their game in recent months.



They're much better now than they were, and they do a good job of engaging the crowd and having fun with their performances. Everyone was having a great time, and since Lords of Chaos around at a lot of Juggalo shows these days, a lot of the crowd knows their lyrics, which always makes a set more fun! As an aside, it was nice to have only two openers for this show, both of which were entertaining and gave good performances, instead of having 5 or 6 people that no one cares about.

Just before ABK's crew went onstage, most everyone went outside to chill for a bit. While it was a much busier area to be in than the Muse (which had it's own parking lot and alley), I didn't think being right on the street was too bad, especially on a Sunday night. Had it been a Friday or Saturday, we'd have definitely had more thru traffic, but for now, it was good.

Homies hanging around outside the venue

Homie Kross and his wife Amanda

Heading back inside, the next artists on the bill were Gritty, who are one of ABK's openers.



They were good, and even did this thing where they sat down on the edge of the stage and had the whole audience sit down with them. Never seen that done before, but it was cool! They were a good intro for the show, IMO.

Next on the bill was DJ Clay. This was the second time I'd seen him, the first being when he opened for Twiztid on the World of Webs tour, so I was excited to see him in a smaller venue. Before he took the stage, I checked my Twitter and saw that he'd tweeted a picture of an empty cupcake wrapper sitting on top of the cupcake container! OMG! hahaha I was so excited to see that tweet that I walked around the venue showing it to all my friends hahaha

Once it was time for him to perform, I stood up toward the front so I could make sure to get some good photos, since he's one of the only people I didn't have any good photos of just yet.


Blood! Guts! Fingers and toes!


For the first half of his set, he was at the turntables, and spun a bunch of Juggalo favorites like Chicken Huntin' and Bout Ta Bubble.




Once he had played a bunch of songs there, he grabbed the mic and came out from behind the table to perform a few of his songs, mentioning that he'd had a lot of feedback that people wanted to hear him rap. So he performed a few of his most popular songs, and did a great job of it! Also toward the end of his set, who should walk in but...


...TECH N9NE!! I knew he was in town since he'd tweeted and asked people what there was to do that night in Nashville, and a bunch of us tweeted back telling him to come to the show. But I had no idea that he would actually show up! He just walked straight into the venue and stood in the back to enjoy the show! So awesome!

Shortly after, ABK took the stage. As always, he did a fantastic job of entertaining the crowd. One great thing about The Limit as a venue is that the stage is only about 6 inches high or so, so the front row of the crowd was pretty much eye level with him the entire time!





Any Puppet Killa even made an appearance!

ABK always brings his A game, and everyone always has a good time at his shows. His set is usually pretty similar, and always includes songs like Ghetto Neighbor, Get Down and One Last Chance.



At the end of the set, he called out DJ Clay and the guys from Gritty to come onstage with him for the grand finale to the show. Everyone was having a blast!

After the show, people went backstage for the VIP time, while the rest of us hung around inside the main room of the venue. After a while, some ladies with glowing hula hoops arrived, apparently in anticipation of an after party that never materialized. Unfortunately, one of them got really nasty with Moonshine when he was trying to talk to her, so pretty much all the Juggalos turned our noses up at them since she was being disrespectful to one of our own.

After a while, ABK came out from the back to hang with everyone like he always does, and brought DJ Clay with him. I thanked DJ Clay for the tweet, and he said that he'd really liked the cupcakes!

Me with DJ Clay

Me with Moonshine

Everyone eventually migrated outside (away from the rude hula hoop girls) and hung around on the sidewalk outside the venue. While not quite as comfy and private as the outdoor space at the Muse, the back exit that faced onto 4th Avenue was sufficient enough for the folks who wanted to smoke, so they could go in and out with relative ease. Since we weren't able to take any outside alcohol into the venue, ABK and his crew also started to break into some of the beers that were in Moonshine's cooler.

Kross and Amanda hanging with ABK...

DSCF1930 well as hanging with DJ Clay.

After a while, the party started to break up, so I headed off for home and dropped off Kross and his wife along the way.

Overall, I was quite happy with our ABK's first post-Muse show went down. I even asked ABK what he thought of the venue, and he said that he definitely liked it enough to come back, which was great. It was also really cool to meet DJ Clay for the first time, and get to hang out with him like he was one of our homies just like ABK does. It's great to know that we now have at least one more venue that is open to accomodating Nashville's Juggalo crowd.