Sunday’s Blessings Archive


Sunday’s Blessings: The Super Bowl

God Bless The Super Bowl. The “storied” Super Bowl halftime show has come a long way since its inception. Back when Super Bowl I hit in 1967, there was no glamorous escapade filled with magic tricks, fireworks and other various forms of hoo-ha. In fact, for ten years there was no major musician involved at all. The vintage halftime show was comprised of marching bands and drill teams. Groups came from as far as the bitter northern wintry of Ann Arbor and all the way from the southern sundry of Florida to show their stuff on the gridiron. Although I respect the disciplined musicianship of marching bands, its purpose in annually one of the most watched television event on the globe seemed a little too feeble. It’s like hitting a million dollar jackpot and celebrating at Chuck E. Cheese.

It only got worse as the years progressed. A group called “Up with People” was employed to produce and perform in four halftime shows following the first ten Super Bowls. UWP is a nonprofit organization that involves youngsters all over the world in grand musical performances. Good intentions aside – a nonprofit performance is unfitting for the fiscal tornado that encompasses the Super Bowl.

The gods that are the Super Bowl talent employers finally got the formula down when they began shoving lavish, thunder dome-worthy, star-studded, mini-concerts into the halftime slot. It’s not too formal like a marching band but it’s not as cheesy as a UWP set. What better way to enhance an already stalwart American holiday then by sexing it up a couple more notches.

Bands that reflect the tenacity of the “big game” own the show now. As of late they have helped it become a tradition of sorts as. It’s a day in the year where the lucky performer puts on a hell raising show where they experience spikes in sales and popularity just by playing. It’s a day where only the best can have a whack at equaling the game’s intrigue. Viewers worldwide have been subject to the likes of Prince, the Rolling Stones, Aerosmith, Michael Jackson, Diana Ross, U2, Bruce Springsteen, and Tom Petty (don’t forget the E Street Band and the Heartbreakers). A music lover’s paradise. Viewers have also been subject to a Janet Jackson nipple. A porno lover’s paradise.

This year the Black Eyed Peas are taking the stage as the Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers go at it in Arlington. With the success of their last two albums, the immensely popular Peas will attempt to stack up to the grandeur of shows before. Don’t get me wrong, not all the artists do well (check the Who’s lackluster attempt last year) but I think the Peas are going to do exceptional. Fresh off an opening act gig for U2’s 360 degree world tour, and crew are used to playing too sold out stadiums. Super Bowl XLV will be the pinnacle of exposure. Imagine the amount of people who saw them on the 360 tour watching them all at once. This opportunity will be right up their alley, I got a feeling.

Check out these other Enter The Shell stories:

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Sunday’s Blessings: Pork

                God bless pork. The musical aspirations of 2011 have so far started off with a thud; a splattery, kosher, slightly raw thud. Rap generals Kanye West and Jay Z are paling up for Watch The Throne, a collaboration album set to release in a month. Packing a double dose of potency, the album has been perceived as one of 2011’s most anticipated albums as well as one of the most anticipated collaboration albums of all time. Earlier this week on January 11th, 2011 (1.11.11), “H.A.M.” the record’s first single was released in dramatic fashion.

                An acronym for hard-as-a-motherfucker, “H.A.M.” isn’t a particularly mind blowing experience but it lives up to its title. West and Hove are on the same rapping prestige that boasted legendary lyricists like Andre 3000 and Nas. But where their careers have faded in recent years for whatever reasons, they former have been able to thrive by attaching themselves to their swagger (rightfully so; their tunes make for practical background music when breaking a sweat in the gym).

                “H.A.M.” has the same ingredients as mostly all of the West beats. A wild-yet-contained percussion sequence accompanied by witty, outlandish lyrics set to an over-the-top, galactic sample. Business is conducted as usual, the two feel the need to defend their reps and do so in fine fashion. West raps about how life is a bitch who sucks his dick while Jay Z raps about swimming with great whites and hanging with vultures.  

                It amazes me that the two can stomach each other’s egos enough to share equal time on one single album. I guess that on another level that can be viewed as sort of regal but on a completely different level it can be viewed as just plain smart (two rappers, twice the money, twice the H.A.M.).  I honestly don’t see it working. There are tons of songs already out that feature Jay Z on a West track and vice versa. Only about 5 percent of those tracks really go “H.A.M.” The rest feature subpar and very poppy-sounding attempts, almost always on the featured end.  We have about a month till the album releases so let’s see if Watch The Throne and it’s “H.A.M.” can beef up until then.

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Sunday’s Blessings: Indio

Sunday’s Blessings: Indio

God Bless Indio. Indio, California to be exact; the dry, desolate patch of Southern California desert that has hosted the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival  11 times. The festival has risen to prominence in the recent surge of music fests, holding its own with the likes of Lollapalooza, Bonaroo and South by Southwest. Its artist selection is of an intriguing variety, boasting surprise headliners from rap, hip-hop, rock and electronic music; allowing buyers of the three-day camping tickets to enjoy a weekend of artists that could satisfy one-year’s worth of concerts.

Headliners of the past four years have summed up the festivals growing historical value as possibly one of the greatest musical gathering of all times. Paul McCartney, M.I.A., Prince, Muse, Depeche Mode, Tool, Coldplay, Tiesto, Rage Against The Machine, Roger Waters, The Cure, The Gorrillaz and Jay-Z have all graced the stages of the hell pot that is the Empire Polo Fields. If you have a ticket to see a Beatle, a cartoon, the artist formally known as whatever and one hell of a rapper all in one weekend, you  are a lucky son of a gun.

The approaching 2011 festival is five months away. The line-ups haven’t even been announced, yet a rumor has sprung up that shook up the anticipation for a few days. It was reported by Hit’s Daily Double rumor mills that the Rolling Stones accepted $5 million to headline one of the 2011 shows. Imagine that, the seemingly ageless blokes from England who have rocked the world for four steady decades would come down to dispense some U.K. invasion during a dark April night. The idea to have the Stones play seems perfect, the band that was missing from the ones mentioned earlier. How could Goldenvoice have not thought about it earlier? As memorable as having Jagger, Richards, Woods and Watts play, it of course was shot down days later by the band’s publicist. Regardless, it got me thinking: who would I like to see headline Coachella? Here are some ideas:

Daft Punk: The elusive French electronic duo is getting ready to release the highly anticipated soundtrack to the upcoming remake of Tron. What better way for the team, who never seem to release a bad record, to capitalize on the soundtrack by playing a set?

Bruce Springsteen: The man who makes rock for the working man could say a lot by working the crowd in Indio. His Darkness on the Edge of Town re-release has gotten rave reviews and for the Boss to command the stage with (fingers crossed) the E Street Band would kill.

The Smashing Pumpkins: I know that the Pumpkins are James Iha-less, D’arcy-less and Jimmy Chamberlin-less, but Corgan always puts on a show with whoever he’s with. As he prepares to start a string of festivals starting with KROQ’s Almost Acoustic Christmas, why not stop off in Indio along the way?

Foo Fighters: As reported a week before by yours truly, the Fighters and Butch Vig are working on a new, loud, heavy album. Last year, Grohl played at the festival as drummer for his super group Them Crooked Vultures, now it’s time to step out as front man and promote his album with the high-adrenaline he is known to bleed on stage.

Kanye West: This is almost a no brainer. West is three steps away from being the best in the game. He is boasting another five star album in My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and with frequent collaborator Jay-Z performing last year it’s about time for West to do his thing.

Public Enemy: Flavor Flav’s reality show antics have cooled down and Chuck D’s mind is as fresh as ever. Groups from both rock and rap have cited the group as an influence and not only would their visit be a privilege to the crowd but also to the other performers.

Arcade Fire: These guys don’t qualify as indie rock anymore because they are too big, but way back when, they did open up at Coachella a couple of times. Now they reign supreme, led by husband and wife team of Regine Chassagne and Win Butler, and it’s their turn to take a night slot.

Goldenvoice has successfully booked talented artists for their three day bonanzas. They range from the very historic and influential to the new and exciting. You now know who I think (hope) will headline, who do you think will play??

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Sunday’s Blessings: Butch Vig

Butch Vig

God Bless Butch Vig. Born Brian David Vig, this alternative rock-producing mastermind adopted the nickname Butch in response to the crew cut his father gave him as a boy. But even a haircut as straight edge as the crew cut could not reflect the wild and fanatical music that Vig has been known to play and produce for the past 28 years.

The Vig, as I like to call him, is popularly known for his producing credits on the highly influential Nirvana album Nevermind and his role as the drummer of the band Garbage. His milestones also include producing hit albums for the Smashing Pumpkins, Sonic Youth, Green Day and several other 90’s mainstays. His work, with emphasis on his presence at the recording helm, was one of the main forces in the solidifying of alternative rock as an important, legitimate musical genre.

If you like Nirvana, check Sara’s story about a cover they did by The Meat Puppets:

In the early 90’s both Vig and Nirvana simultaneously became widely recognized for their work. It wasn’t only the incredible passion that the late Kurt Cobain gushed, or the spastic fingering of bassist Krist  Novoselic that made Nirvana iconic. The man behind the kit, Dave Grohl, cemented himself a mechanically savvy, fast paced drummer, emerging as one of the pioneering grunge rock drummers. Although we know now that Grohl is a gifted multi-instrumentalist, when in Nirvana he often held back his ideas, especially ones involving guitar riffs or lyrics. It was only towards the end of Nirvana’s run and the time after Cobain’s suicide that Grohl flourished as a full-fledged song-maker, thus resulting in the formation of his band the Foo Fighters and his thrust into stardom.

A connection made during the production of one the greatest albums of all time, Vig and Grohl’s association has only recently become a relationship. In 2009, the Vig produced two new tracks for the Foo Fighters greatest hits compilation album, “Word Forward” and “Wheels,” a song about one of Grohl’s late friends which was recorded exactly for a compilation with Vig. As exciting as the news was that the two would be teaming up for two tracks, even more recent news has surfaced that has this writer wetting his jockeys.

As early as August 2010, the Foo Fighters and Vig have been working together to produce a new album according to various publications. As time has passed, small details have been released hinting that this forthcoming, still un-titled, record stands to be a classic. Grohl has said in a number of interviews that this “hardest” Foo Fighter album yet and that acoustic guitar is nonexistent. I perceive a Foo album filled with songs like “Monkeywrench,” “Drive Me Wild” and “My Hero” to be very exciting.

I am hotly anticipating this new album. Grohl has said in recent interviews that the band has been practicing in his garage. Hopefully that type of scenario brushes some rawness onto the tracks, and with a little of Vig’s magic he smoothes it into a full-fledged classic.

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