Concert Party

First in a series of recap posts about what’s been going on in the last couple of weeks (aside from me buying Pavement tickets aaaaaah). This post: Concert Party weekend.

By “Concert Party,” I mean Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights were spent going to various shows. On Friday night, Suraj and I went to Sen Thai downtown for dinner (which included a much, much better version–or at least more what I was expecting when I ordered it–of the Muay Thai Fighter I had before going to see Rodrigo y Gabriela; at Sen it’s called a Sen Iced Coffee I think, it’s got Amarula in it), then we headed over to the Scottrade Center (my first show there) for Jay-Z.

Jay-Z was crazy. Actually, Jay-Z himself was great, the concert itself was the crazy part. This included terrible tour support acts Trey Songz and Young Jeezy. Trey Songz had little to no stage presence made worse by horrible song lyrics and a light show reminiscent of After Dark. Young Jeezy certainly had a lot of crowd appeal (the group of guys next to us kept walking out of the arena and then asking us if Jeezy had gone on every time they came back, in addition to one of them waving what was probably five grand in the air during one of his songs–then they left as soon as Jay-Z came back on), but he needs to enunciate way more. I could only understand about half of his disgruntled mumbling during his monologues between songs.

Not like Jigga! The concert format was different from other shows I’ve been to–Trey Songz did an hour opener, after which Jay-Z immediately came on and did probably a thirty- to forty-five-minute set, primarily of songs from The Blueprint 3. Near the end of his set, Jeezy came on for a song they did together, and Jay-Z left the stage for a break while Jeezy did a long set. He came back out at the end of Jeezy’s part of the show and did another forty-five-minute set that included songs dating all the way back to his first album. The guy is a real showman; I was impressed. His stage set was fantastic and worked well with the show without being over the top. The best part of the show, easily, was when he announced, “Now, a message from the President of the United States,” and this fantastic clip of Obama played as a lead-in to a particularly popular song.

The show taught me some things as well. Jay-Z keeps things pretty classic–black jeans, black t-shirt, black Yankees hat and shades, and the occasional black jacket. He’s not showy. But the black clothes also work well to hide the intense amount of sweating he does onstage (and understandably so–stages are hot). And maybe it’s because Jigga is the aging face of rap, maybe it makes sense to go for the simple, streamlined classic show gear (in addition to free-styling about his stomach ulcer, which was also awesome). I’ll be interested to see what he does in the course of the next decade.


Jay-Z descending back into the stage at the end of the concert

On to Saturday. We went back to the Scottrade Center for John Mayer, which was better than I expected Michael Franti and Spearhead opened–a very Allen band, I’ll say). I like his music a lot; this is the fourth (I think) concert of JM’s Suraj and I have attended. I was really concerned about the show as he is touring his most recent album (Battle Studies), which I actually hated the first time I listened to it. It’s only grown on me a little since then, and I wasn’t looking forward to a whole night of Battle Studies. We showed up and–much to my chagrin–only find Battle Studies-branded merch, which is really unusual. Typically about half of the merch is album-/tour-related, as the rest is just JM stuff. No such luck here–everything had the stupid lightning-bolt-broken heart on it. Or Twitter references.

What I got at the show instead was great–a John Mayer who seemed a little tired, particularly tired of playing Battle Studies songs. Only five of the songs from the album made into the set; the rest were old faves, jams, and covers, including “Wheel,” which is a serious personal favorite and never one I’ve heard at one of his shows. Maybe there’s still hope I’ll hear “St. Patrick’s Day” live before he dies.


John jamming on our side of the stage

Part of Sunday was spent at Sasha’s Wine Bar with Allison enjoying some great cheese and crepes (and of course, wine). What we didn’t know was that apparently pro-health care reform people were hanging there to watch the debate/vote. We saw a cameraman but thought he was just taping a feature on Sasha’s. Anyway, we ended up on the news later that night, and watched the vote and Barack’s statement after I got home from the Aquabats show.

Seeing the Aquabats reminded me of high school–ska was pretty popular when I was a freshman and sophomore, in addition to a variety of old and throwback-style punk before emocore/hardcore (call it what you will) became the “big thing” for rock (and kind of still is). Allison’s brother’s band Samuriot was a great opener and got the crowd pumped up for Mustard Plug.


Allison’s brother Pete, bassist for Samuriot

I can remember a guy I knew peripherally who was a huge fan of Mustard Plug wearing a t-shirt of theirs the one day he was allowed to come to school with a tiny, orange-tipped mohawk, which he was of course forced to shave off, because orange and mohawked hair is an affront to God and this is a public high school in Texas, not some godless place like Chicago. The Aquabats themselves were quite interesting to say the least, if not necessarily music I listen to with any regularity anymore. It was also the first time I’ve ever been to the Firebird.


Allison and I at the show

Another thing I learned that night after I got home–Oxyclean is magic for your clothes, and acid for your hands. I’d never bothered with the stuff before because I figured it didn’t work. We were forced to find out after Suraj’s green pen exploded in the dryer, ruining a few of his dress shirts and a pair of his slacks. He has a huge pitcher (yes) of Oxyclean in his laundry nook, and I thought things couldn’t get worse–the clothes were already irreparably stained–so why not?

He found some instructions online that didn’t tell us how much to use, so I put probably four cups into a sink of hot water. I shoved one of the dress shirts in and let it soak for about fifteen minutes, then came back to see if it was making a difference. The shirt collar looked clean, but I opted to push the shirt back under the water a little longer. My hands kind of stung after a sec, but I figured it was just the water temperature.

Lo and behold, twenty minutes after it went in, Suraj’s shirt comes out ink-free (and blotches had covered roughly half the shirt). We drained the sink and started again (more hot water and another four cups of Oxyclean) for the remaining clothing. The ink came out of each piece in about ten minutes each, even soaking in the same solution used for previous clothing items. The burning sensation on my hands got worse every time I put my hands back into the sudsy mess. I finally made Suraj test it just to make sure I wasn’t crazy, and his hands started to burn too. So let this be a lesson to you–four cups of Oxyclean powder and a sink of hot water will clean the shit out of anything, but wear gloves unless you want your skin to melt off.

Next update–what happened during the week after Concert Party.

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About Chelsea
I'm currently pursuing my MFA in Writing at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. My ideal career path involves using writing, publication, and writing education to enact progressive social change.

One Response to Concert Party

  1. Pingback: In Between (April Fool’s) Days « What the Fidd

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