Black Sunshine – through the years

This will be a short one. And full of clichés, so bear with me.

When I was 14, I discovered that, contrary to my classmates’ beliefs, there was more to music than N’Sync and the Backstreet Boys. Thank God.

My hometown’s music scene leaned heavily towards Rock and Metal, no pun intended. So I went to every gig there was, best friend in tow, staring doe-eyed at the guys and girls on stage – one eye always on the clock, lest I broke curfew.

Fast forward 17 years to last night.

My first real night out in… a too embarrassingly long time. I stood there, beer in hand, no curfew in sight and simply enjoyed my first “Black Sunshine” concert in 13 years.

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And it was good.

Not just the music, though I immensely enjoyed that. More the certainty that no one would call out “Mama” and I would have to stop anything I was doing at a moment’s notice.

I talked to old friends and aquaintances, met new ones, stood in people’s cigarette smoke and enjoyed the beer on their breath, simply for the novelty of it not being milk…

And then, at one a.m. I called it a night, hugged my friends and drove home to find my husband and daughter knocked out from the exertion of a sleepless evening. And it was good, even though duty called again at 6:30 and I was nowhere near being well-rested. Life is good.

Was haben Rayman Legends und Incubus gemeinsam?

Die letzten Wochen über habe ich immer wieder das neue “Rayman Legends” in die PS3 gelegt – manchmal habe ich gespielt, bis meine Finger weh taten und ich nicht mehr konnte.

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Es ist ein einfach großartiges Jump’n’Run, sehr detailverliebt, spannend, einfach lustig – und teils total schwierig! Laut Hubby schwieriger als Dark Souls, und das will was heißen!

Am besten gefällt mir am Spiel das Artwork und die Musik. Oft hatte ich gar nicht das Gefühl, ein Game zu spielen, sondern in ein Bilderbuch eingetaucht zu sein (hier lohnt sich die große Ansicht!):

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Rayman-Legends1und was für eins!A

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Neben den tollen Grafiken ist die Musik meist großartig – was mich nicht mehr wundert, seit ich weiß, dass Incubus ihre Hände im Spiel hatten:

Gern würde ich noch etwas zur Musik sagen, das mich im Spiel umgehauen hat – aber ich möchte nichts spoilen. Per PM rücke ich es aber gern raus 😉

Doom: a scientific approach. Part I

 

As we’re walking towards the Posthalle in Würzburg, I know I’m neither over- nor underdressed.

I’m basically not dressed wrong, either, it’s that my attire simply just so misses the mark, as I’m comparing my outfit to that of others around me.

I am dressed in black, sure. And wearing a skirt. But, though above the knee, it is still a couple of inches too long. At least compared to the skirts belts I see other ladies in. And mine has white polka-dots.

Oh well.

My black high-top sneakers aren’t helping my case, either, as the other girls’ shoes make up in inches what the length of their skirts is lacking. Darn it.

We’re standing in line to swap our tickets for festival-bands, basked in beerfumes and eau-de-I-haven’t showered-in-days. Behind us are a couple of guys that remind me of Garth and would later inspire me to the following textmessage to my brother:

 

“Remeber Wayne’s World? That’s what this looks like”

 

 

They are all acting very civilised and make me wonder what I was worrying about earlier, when posting on facebook:

Lisa Prosch is looking forward to Hammer of Doom with Nick, Leo and Maria!

Hopefully they will take care of her and protect her against the hordes of Doom!”

to which I was friendly reminded:

“Remember WE ARE THE HORDES OF DOOM!!!:D”

Ooops! My mistake.

I never made it a secret that I’m a doom novice. Sure, I’ve heard about some of the bands that would be playing. But what doom exactly was, I wanted to find out. Besides being the perfect opportunity for catching up with our Maltese Posse, Hammer of Doom posed the possibilty for a scientific endeavor:

Finding out what doom is, first-hand, and observing, maybe even inter-acting, with the common “doomster”.

And finding out if you call doom-listeners “doomsters”, anyway.

Before travelling to Würzburg I had a vague picture in mind of how such a guy would look. I envisioned long, dark hair, lots of leather, possibly tight pants and an overall mean appearance.

I googled for a picture to show you what I thought of, but all I found was this:

 

 

Yes Google, that’s a metal-fan, thank you for your help!

Most of the guys crowding the Posthalle weren’t as scary as I had imagined. I wasn’t new to metal concerts, as I had visited quite a few in Rock City No.1, and the mixture of species I encountered were what I had expected.

There were those of the “Metallus Blackus” type, with tight black leatherpants and long dark hair, as I described above. Kind of like these guys, who named themselves after a bloodtype:

Then we had the common Viking type, hair as long and blond as that of a Northern Maiden, soft and shiny in most cases. Terrifying. The “Vicus Northernitis” seems to have a practical demeanor and carries his own drinking horn attached to his hip, so that he does not have to drink out of unworthy plastic cups. He may warm his chest either with denim or fur and his legs and groin-area tend to have more breathing room than the above mentioned species.

When I heard that Vikings would be attending, I was hoping for guys like him:

 

 

And was deeply disappointed. No Erics around. I got these guys instead:

 

 

and actually enjoyed them. Though they fall more into the “Epic Metal” category, as I learned.

There were lots of those fans around, clad in denim wests covered in patches. Or just lots of patches with glimpses of denim inbetween. I even saw one guy with a pants covered in patches. There were so many that you couldn’t make out the original trousers anymore. It made me wonder what he would do if he gained so much weight that the pants wouldn’t fit anymore. Remove them all and transfer them to another pair? Or just add another row of patches in the top, to make more room for the belly? I will never know.

My favourite patch of all the weekend was a very scary one, though.

 

 

(Excuse my cellphone’s crappy pic, they wouldn’t allow my Nikon at the venue)

 

The female metal-head basically fell into two types (except my lovely Maltese friends):

  1. The “Metallus Bitchus”
  2. The “Metallus Butchus”

The former I already described in this post’s beginning, all short skirts, high heels and low shirts. And loooong hair. Most of them looked really good in their stuff and were ogled by all the male species mentioned above.

These ladies get quite close, though those that I witnessed looked somehow classier, even dressed that skimpily:

 




The “Metallus Butchus” got less attention, but had the advantage of being able to move freely through the crowd and could flip through the merch at leisure, not being interrupted by drunken advances. Their long, loose cargo-pants and jeans vests just didn’t seem to attract as much attention as the mini-skirts of the “Metallus Bitchus”.

 

 (This is the first part of my doom-tastic encounter at the Hammer of Doom, stay tuned for Part II)




If not now, when?

I’m finding myself in a dilemma.

The event that started all this lies eleven years in the past. I hadn’t yet started to subscribe to Visions Magazine, so when I found new music it seldom was new to the market, just new to fifteen year old me.

That is why I was sitting in a friend’s garret, in the middle of being blown away by S.C.I.E.N.C.E. I had never heard of the album, released in 1997, let alone heard of the band: Incubus.

 

 

Following that discovery lots of internet research, frantic cassette recordings, learning of lyrics began. “Make Yourself” had just been released, and though there will always be a special place in my heart for “Pardon Me”, I loved all of its songs.

 

 

I listened to them on the way to school, thinking of nagging classmates and the peer pressure that occurs even in the nicest of classes. The album’s title song always helped to give perspective, encouraged not to blindly follow where there were shallow leaders.

It would stay on all my playlists until the day I received my secondary school diploma, the long worked-for Abitur, when I had it played during the actual awarding of the certificates.

 

“Make Yourself” would stay my favourite album, though I loved “Morning View” almost just as much.

 

 

Following its release I visited my first Incubus concert, in Düsseldorf, and it is my favourite, til this day. I lost all my companions in the crowd, but that didn’t matter. I wouldn’t have had an eye for them, as it was.

With “A Crow Left Of The Murder” a development began that changed my relationship to the band.

 

 

It was released the year I left school, 2004, and though “Megalomaniac” and “Sick Sad Little World” were part of my after-school-parties, the album didn’t sweep me off my feet like the previous ones had. I still liked their ballads, like “Here in my Room”, but the CD as a whole didn’t manage to produce that cottony-warm “Incubus-feeling” that I had had before. Of course I still saw them when touring started.

I began feeling a bit anxious for my favourite band, but I thought, so what, they grow, I grow, but we’re not growing apart. There’ll always be another album, maybe one that can evoke the feelings the band once was capable of conjuring.

Two years later I was again hopeful, as I was in 2004, that the new album would fall into line with “Morning View”, making the previous record just a slip-up in Incubus’ discography. But “Light Grenades” would somewhat disappoint again.

 

 

It’s not that I didn’t like “Anna Molly”, I did. I enjoyed “Oil and Water” and “Paper Shoes”. But. There was “Love Hurts”, probably Incubus’ most successful song since “Drive”.

 

 

Oh dear. It certainly is a good song. A Pop-ballad, but a well-done one. The only problem: it was playing on all the radio stations. All the time. Commercial success isn’t what put me off the song. It was through this endless repetition that I realized I didn’t really like it. I must’ve heard “Pardon Me” at least ten times more a week when it was released, but I didn’t tire of it. I sure tired of “Love Hurts”.

But it wasn’t only that song. It was that in its entity, the entire album had the highest count of songs I didn’t care for since listening to “Make Yourself” and just leaving out “Battlestar Scralatchtica” when recording tapes.

 

Monuments and Melodies?

 

 

Oh well… Only some of the songs were new, and those that were, I didn’t like that much. It seemed Incubus had run out of steam.

 

Which brings me back to 2011 and the dilemma I’m facing. On July 8th Incubus’ brand new album “If Not Now, When?” was released and I’m confronted with the same decision I was in 2006.

 

 

To buy or not to buy? Critics said that Incubus were steadily on their way towards mainstream and that the newest record was just the climax of this development. They said that the boys that recorded S.C.I.E.N.C.E had grown up.

I guess I have, too. And I might have to own up to the fact that, at last, Incubus and I might have grown apart. I still might have to work up the courage of finally buying the record to find out for real.

 

 

RED Rocks : Crystal Caravan

Sometimes going out on a Monday pays off, especially if you party with the band afterwards.

That’s what happened when Crystal Caravan played at the Cobra, organized by the Cow Club. (Lots of C’s in those names, coincidence?)

Friends Mo and Thomas got friendly with the band and asked if the wouldn’t like to play an acoustic set the following day.

And despite partying into the wee hours of the morning they were happy to comply. Lucky for them and us that Solingen is Rock City No.1: the band didn’t bring any acoustic equipment on tour, so Nick and others pitched in and brought their guitars and basses along.

Isn’t that an awesome swap? Free instrument-usage for a free gig? I’d call that excellent.

And that’s how our local Rock-Pub came to the honor of having these awesome Swedes in their red hall:

Photo Henrik Olofsson

And boy, it was a great gig.

Singer Niklas Gustafsson started the set with an acoustic rendition of “All Along the Watchtower”, surprising the audience with his strong voice.

Well, at least those who hadn’t seen him rock out the night before.

Then came and went Neill Young’s “Heart of Gold”, started three times -“third time’s the charm”- and eventually effed up nevertheless. The singer’s words, not mine.

Not that anybody minded. The audience, some of them still tired from last night, hung on Niklas’ lips.

And they weren’t disappointed, as the small Swedish troll dude really rocked out with his, well, beard out! There was a rockstar at the RED last night, no doubt about it.

Ordering “Flensten-felsen” every few songs to oil his throat he assured us “Once you plop you can’t stop”.

After a couple of songs his band joined him, Björn and Stefan on borrowed guitars, percussionista Annika on the back of another one and drummer Christopher on the bass.

They played a couple of their songs, including “Apple Hotel” and  “Love and Direction” from their current album “Against the Rising Tide”, proving that rock’n’roll doesn’t need plugs.

Crystal Caravan really rocked the RED, made the evening a pleasure and carved their psychedelic name into our hall of fame.

this is getting me starry-eyed

Sitting on the couch I was tiredly zapping away. Southpark? Zapp. Talkshow? Zapp. Landing on MTV I saw those two clowns, Joko and Claas, and was about to zapp on, but then my eyes fell on this lovely lady:

I’d love to say that her eyes fell onto mine, too, but this was TV, people!

I recognised her from seeing her video once on MTV, back then I had mistaken her for a Pop-Bimbo (though I liked her song). Oh, I was so wrong…

Her guitar guy started softly strumming his chords and I was hooked at her first words:

“handle bars, and I let go, let go of everyone “

and at

“Next thing we’re touching
You look at me it’s like you hit me with lightning”

goosebumps that felt like tiny pearls started rolling down my arms, feeling as though they might catapult off my arms any second just to ziggzagg across the room.

It was lovely, it was bliss, it totally got me starry eyed. Consider watching this video to see exactly what I saw. And per chance like it, too.