Music, Page 1

New Years, live-ish with Green Day

Green Day

I've gone to far too many events this past week. If I don't put an end to this quick, I may become "normal"…

I took it to the next level tonight, though, by traveling into the future to see Green Day's New Years Eve concert at LA Live. Well, sort-of. NBC was filming the concert with Carson Daly as the host. They gave us all new years hats and had us all count down from 30 as if the ball was dropping on New Years Eve. Apparently they'll air this then. TV Magic!

After the count down, Green Day came on with a "Happy fucking New Year!" and rocked the stage for the rest of the night. Their performance was complete with explosions, fireworks, and a good mix between their newer stuff and the older stuff I was listening to on tape when I was eight years old (holy crap) in elementary school. Better yet, a friend I hadn't seen in ages was down to visit family for the week, so I met her and her brothers there and caught up. Good times!

The Whigs come to LA

The Whigs

Just saw The Whigs live at the Troubadour—what a kick-ass show! The owner of my pizza place turned me on to these guys a year or so ago and I've been a big fan ever since.

Opening for them was The Dead Trees and The Features. I had heard of neither, but they both put on great sets of their own—I bought their CDs right after the show. :)

If you've never heard The Whigs before, they are giving out two songs from their upcoming CD "In The Dark" for free from their website.

San Diego Comic-Con '09


I spent all day Saturday in the San Diego Convention Center, attending Comic-Con with my brother. Once again, an amazing experience.

The first thing we did was make a bee line to the SAE/FSM booth, where I picked up a copy of the Battlestar Galactica Season 4 soundtrack. After that was done, we took a quick walk around the rest of the exhibit hall. This is a pretty damned big exhibit hall, spanning the entire bottom floor of the convention center. With all the people there to push through, it takes about 10 minutes to walk from one end to the other.

While walking around the hall I happened to find Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game, with cover art done by friend Cyril Van Der Haegen. I mentioned this to the guy behind the counter, but he just feigned interest hoping I would buy it! Oh well.

After that I went looking for the Oni Press booth, where I bought my brother the first Scott Pilgrim book. He finished reading it before we left (he was not so interested in Ray Bradbury) so we went down to the floor again and he bought himself the next few books in the series. With any luck, I'll have got my brother hooked on graphic novels! I also went to the Top Shelf booth hoping to pick up a copy of Blankets but they were all out.

The first panel we attended was for Dune, with Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson. They were discussing their latest novel The Winds of Dune and commenting on the process of making a new book every year. I must admit, I have read many of the new Dune books and although they aren't Frank Herbert material, I have enjoyed most of them ( Sandworms of Dune being a notable exception for having a very shallow plot and invoking several dei ex machina).

BSG 4 Soundtrack

After that we headed back over to the SAE/FSM booth to get the CDs signed by Bear McCreary. We were first in line! At the same time, Bryan Lee O'Malley (author of Scott Pilgrim) was signing at the Oni Press booth—we went over there afterward but the line was so long that we didn't care to try for it. The Bioshock 2 booth was small—basically a small veiled closet with a gameplay trailer playing for 5-6 people at a time. But that trailer made the game out to look pretty awesome. You play the first big daddy, the only one with free will. You can take airlocks to go outside of Rapture into the ocean. You now make the choice to either harvest or adopt little sisters. Adopting them seems to store them inside your suit somewhere, it wasn't too clear on that. You can take them out to have them harvest adam from certain bodies. While harvesting, you need to guard them from hoards of splicers. Then comes something new—your little sister says "Uh oh, I don't think big sis wants me to play with you anymore", and in comes the big sister—these are very quick, super-agile enemies that possess telekinesis.

Iron Man

The second panel we attended was that of Ray Bradbury. He talked of his fascination of space exploration and walking on the moon for the first time. Perhaps most interestingly, he claimed to have total recall of his entire life. He said he was a 10 month baby, and developed hearing and sight within the womb. He claims his memories go back to being in the womb and after birth.

The final panel was for Human Target, the new TV series from Fox. In the show, our main hero (Christopher Chance) gets hired by rich people to solve any problems or threats against them. He is a very intelligent detective, impersonator, and all-around bodyguard. It stars Mark Valley as Christopher Chance, Jackie Earle Haley as Guerrero, and Chi McBride as Winston, with the score done by Bear McCreary. We got to screen the pilot before a short Q&A with the stars and producers.

Human Target has some pretty awesome action scenes, pretty similar to the Bourne series. It is some of the best action I've seen on TV for as long as I can remember. The acting is stellar, and the score sounds somewhere between Caprica and The Sarah Connor Chronicles. The characters have a light quirkiness similar to Pushing Daisies. The show is being billed as a procedural with a light sprinkling of serial, which is pretty typical for Fox. They want to give you a new action movie every week. Unfortunately, the pilot had a lot of faults that I hope they steer clear of in the series.

Avatar mech

For one thing, the characters are too flawless. The main characters—all antiheroes it seems—always know exactly what to say, have a perfect plan, and immediately know exactly what to do to keep the plan on track (pun!) from any curveballs. Not once did it show an imperfection, and I had a hard time believing or relating to them because of it.

Another problem I saw was with Guerrero—he had no introduction, and just sort of imposed himself on the story. He is a computer hacker, but it never really showed that process. Most of his scenes were just quick cuts to him revealing some new information that he hacked off screen.

I had planned to meet some friends while I was there, but that was a pretty big failure all around. One didn't pick up his phone. Another didn't wake up until really late and my phone died in the middle of a conversation with him. The one guy I was able to meet I didn't do anything with because he spent the whole day playing D&D.

The BBC America booth featured a lot of Doctor Who trinkets and apparel, with lots of advertising for the new Torchwood mini-season Children of Earth(which is pretty good, by the way—go watch it!). There was an awesome life-sized Dalek on display.

We spent the two hour ride home listening to the Battlestar CD, and it didn't disappoint!

BSG Season 4 Soundtrack details

BSG Season 4 Cover

Bear McCreary has announced track listings and cover art for the dual-disc BSG Season 4 Soundtrack. The first disc includes the haunting "Gaeta’s Lament" sung by none other than Alessandro Juliani (Felix Gaeta) himself, two tracks from my favorite episodes of the season "The Oath" and "Blood on the scales", and the second disc is the incredible entire score of the two-hour finale "Daybreak".

I can't wait!

Composers, everywhere!

I went to a signing event yesterday, with 15 or so big name composers. I talked with a lot of cool people: Michael Giacchino (Lost, Star Trek movie, Up), Stu Phillips (Battlestar Galactica, Knight Rider), Ron Jones (Superman, Star Trek: TNG, Family Guy), and John Murphy (28 Days Later), that I can think of. Probably one or two I can't remember right now (I've been awake for a long time). I'm ashamed to admit if there wasn't info displayed for them, I would not have known who most of these guys were.

The whole reason I came, though, was to meet Bear McCreary—composer of the modern Battlestar Galatica. It was a real treat to meet him, and as a surprise his beautiful wife to be Raya Yarbrough (who can be heard on some BSG tracks) was there too.

While I was there I picked up an advance copy of the Caprica soundtrack and got it signed. I'm really enjoying this album—it feels like BSG, yet at the same time something completely different. Like the show, BSG's music was very character-driven. Nearly everyone had their own theme, and what you'd hear on scene would either be a variant of a theme or action music. Caprica's music feels much more scene-driven. You can feel drama and emotion in them, often times picturing a scene to go along with it. It is more suspenseful, more sorrowful, more adventurous.

It was also much softer than others. The TT Dynamic Range Meter averaged around 12, with some tracks going as high as 19—compare this to the new Green Day album which manages a measly 6. ReplayGain actually wanted to raise the volume—something I haven't seen in a long while! This is really cool to listen to on good headphones :)

Now, on to the concerts.

Terminator: TSCC and Caprica signed by Bear McCreary

Bear McCreary to score Capcom’s Dark Void

8-bit Dark Void

Bear McCreary, composer of Battlestar Galactica, let out the information today that he is scoring Capcom’s new game, Dark Void. I remember some videos of this coming out a while ago, from E3 maybe, and it looked like a pretty fun game but after so much time I had forgotten about it. These new videos make it look as awesome as ever, though, and with Bear scoring it, you know the music will be amazing!

If you like his music, consider posting at Capcom where Bear is trying to get authorization to release a soundtrack CD.

You were a frakkin good show

So say we all!

Battlestar Galactica coming to a close, but Caprica remains inbound.

A few weeks ago, for the first time in my life, I watched a TV episode twice. Back to back, with no break in between. Blood on the Scales, for me, was pure gold. The story was incredible, especially if you got the chance to see the webisodes that supplied important context for it. The acting was top-notch. Alessandro Juliani in particular, who has had a relatively small amount of screen time before now, really stepped up to deliver a wonderful moving performance. The music—oh my sweet god the music. Anyone who knows me well will know my love for the BSG soundtracks, but the music in this particular episode spoke to me on such a profound level that I literally missed dialog at points and had to rewind to hear it again. I will be shocked, pleasantly, if I ever watch another episode of any other TV show that affects me like this one.

This Friday begins the final countdown for Battlestar. It will be the first in a three episode arc to end the series. On one hand I am sad to see it go. I will miss not just watching it, but hopping online afterward to read Bear McCreary’s enthralling behind-the-scenes summary of the score. But on the other hand, I would rather see it get the strong finish it deserves than see it become the proverbial Old Yeller like Stargate: SG-1 did.

But Caprica will be starting early next year, so maybe all is not lost. I worry about them milking the mythos to death in it, but these guys transformed a corny 70s show into something amazing, so I have a lot of hope. Earlier this month, Bear gave an early preview performance of the music of Caprica.

CN 2009 recap

This year’s NSU Culture Night was incredible!

Opening up was Kyodo Taiko, performing their Swing and Black and White sets. Black and White is a new, powerful set created this year which I suspect will become a new favorite among fans. As always, Kyodo loves to have fun – doing funny skits in between sets, and always showing off their skill and good humor throughout their performance.

Next was the drama team. Drama always sets the theme for the show, typically about the current issues of the Nikkei community. This year their performance centered on recent buyouts in Little Tokyo, hoping to bring attention to what has been a decidedly stealthy move by corporations that may end up removing a large chunk of the culture from Little Tokyo. This year’s set had plenty of humor to go along with it, occasionally poking fun at rival Los Angeles college USC. They brought back a running joke from last year’s performance which really had the croud busting up. This performance was split into several parts, spread throughout the night.

The Odori (traditional dance) team opened up with their typical slow, exaggerated, meticulous dance. But something was different this year – for the first time I’ve seen, they are using a bit more modern music. They performed Gion Kouta, and expertly merged it’s more complex and slightly faster music with the traditional Odori style. This approach was a pleasant surprise, and puts them more in line with Kyodo’s traditional-modern hybrid style.

NSU Modern’s first set was their very energetic Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, which is a real treat to see live. Modern really shines here, showing a true passion for innovation in dance—these guys must sweat pure concentrated skill.

After a short intermission, Odori started the show performing the aptly named Matsuri, also a more modern upbeat song. This was evocative of a real matsuri (festival) in Japan and was very fun to watch!

Kyodo came back to perform Yonsei, Nanairo, and of course their signature finale Encore. Nanairo is a new set created by this year’s newbie class, but not to fear—this has all the energy you’d expect in a Kyodo performance. Kyodo holds a special place in my heart—the first time I saw them left me spellbound, causing me to fall in love with taiko and seek it out anywhere I could find it. I’ve been to many taiko performances since then—most of them featuring Kyodo—so I am quite familiar with Encore. Yet after all this time, it still fills me with the same glee as if I was seeing it for the first time.

Modern closed the night with their Tribal and Jazz sets, both of which I've never seen before. Tribal was typical Modern style—energetic, fun, super sexy, and good beats. Jazz took a completely different turn with a strong ballet performance, showing Modern’s diversity.

And that’s the night, it was a blast! I was happy to see Leech Sensei there, my awesome Japanese teacher from high school. Looks like he brought even more kids than when I originally came to a CN with him, so I’m glad to see Japanese is getting more popular! I just hope they aren’t giving him as hard of a time as I did, reading Dune in class and arguing with him about the merits of Quake vs. Diablo II ;).

Edit: added missing Kyodo and Modern videos, and updated the existing links to the CN2009 versions. Thanks zachirie!

NSU Culture Night 2009

NSU Culture Night 2009 flyer

There are only a few weeks left until the 23rd annual NSU Culture Night at UCLA. This is a really fun night exploring Japanese-American culture. There will be taiko (drumming), modern dance, drama, and odori (traditional dance) performances. These groups are university kids so they know how to have fun—every time I’ve seen them perform it has been a phenomenal experience.

It’s free and open to all so if you’re interested and can get to UCLA’s Royce Hall at 6:00pm on Presidents’ Day (February 16th), you can reserve tickets by sending an email with your name and number of tickets to