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Splendid.
Karl.

Well, if I lost half my audience with my post mentioning buying some Boss pedals, I’m about to lose the other half with this post. Please no one ever go through this blog and count the mentions of this band. But I’m driving this morning, and this song comes on, and out of nowhere I just start singing it at the top of my lungs…and then these tears start coming. And it’s not like I’ve never heard this song before. I’d love to say it’s because of the sweet tone, and that is part of it. But overall, it’s the power that music can display. When all the parts…melody, harmonic structure, passion, feel, tone…are there, it can communicate in a way I’ve not experienced with anything else.

Perhaps sometimes we just need an emotional release. And this past year has seen some difficult losses in my personal life, which I try quite hard to keep out of this blog. And this song just wrecked me this morning…in the best way possible. For those of you who don’t know (meaning, everyone not as psycho about this band as I am…wanting to wear their clothes and sweat and stuff), Bono wrote this song about his children. And when they were recording it, Edge looked at him and said, ‘I think that’s about your father.’ And here’s the performance just days after his father passed away:

Splendid.
Karl.

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Splendid.
Karl.

What else can be said? If you’re not believing 100% in every note you play, and letting a drop of bloody angst dissipate across each melodic line, I don’t care if you’re playing a Top Hat, Hayseed, Line 6, Bruno, or plugging straight in. All of that pails in comparison to soul, feel, and passion. (But, uh, once you have acquired said soul, feel, and passion…it can’t hurt to filter all that passion through a good tube amp. ;) )

It doesn’t get much better. Tone, taste, and feel:

Okay, maybe it does:

BB King: “I’m horrible with chords.”
Bono: “I don’t think there’s much chords in this song. Maybe 2.”

Classic on both counts.

Terrible posting on my part lately. Hey, when holidays flow into weekends, I’m over. However, demos are coming soon. The whole digital versus analog thing will be a bit, as I need to acquire all that stuff at prices low enough to allow me to resell them without losing money. (Stupid, necessary money.) But some new pedals are on their way to be demo’d. And…here’s the real kicker…they’re from Boss. I think I just lost half my audience. ;)

Splendid.
Karl.

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This post and its comments have been moved to the way more awesome guitarforworship.com website. Click here to read this post.

Splendid.
Karl.

I hope this grabs you as much as it does me. Meaning, just tears a hole into your chest and literally beats your heart for you for a couple minutes, so that you can just float on a delay-laden cloud made of melody in sheer ecstasy. Oh ya, and the cloud is glowing with tube warmth. (Wait, Edge’s tone doesn’t do that to everyone? I mean…um…me neither.) But seriously, I hope it inspires you just a little bit. With apologies to Greg Lake, who wrote a beautiful coming-of-age Christmas song. But with a couple subtle lyric changes, the song has changed from slightly hopeless to moreso ‘clinging to Christ’s hope despite the hopelessness around you.’ Meant a lot to me.

And as we reach the end of the year, and my favorite holiday, I just want to say thanks for reading. There’s a community of love, respect, and knowing that none of us has it all figured out, that I’m just stoked on here. Amazingly enough, I’ve never had to delete a comment. Knock on wood. (But only handcrafted Baltic birch with finger joints. And it’s ported.)  So thanks, merry Christmas, and in the next few days, maybe try to make just one person around you feel God’s love from you. I don’t know if that’s actually thinking about what gift would make your wife or kid or family member happy, rather than buying another toiletry pouch with built-in shaving cream dispenser; whether it’s giving a homeless person five bucks; whether it’s taking the time to get the name of and thank the Salvation Army worker who’s been standing in the cold ringing the bell for 8 hours; or whether it’s smiling and saying merry Christmas to the checkout person who has to work on Christmas Eve…even if maybe they’re tired and double-charged you for the pineapple. People are actually receptive to God at this time of year, and a little love or a little hope might go a long way.

Sorry for the sap. God, love, and passion…with music to remind our souls of those things. And if that music is toneful (I’m thinking ’57 tweed Fender Champ with original speaker, a Melancon Tele in alder with quilted maple, and a good old Boss DM2……mmmmm), then all the better. Merry Christmas, my friends.

Splendid.
Karl.

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Splendid.
Karl.


Edge frame 1

That was the gift that was given me last night.

No, not the actual guitar. Being that close to that guitar. If the gift had been the actual guitar, that means that Edge and I would really have gone out for frozen yogurt. And I suppose then, to have given me that guitar, he would have had to have been really impressed by my knowledge of tone. And both of those things are of course, almost complete impossibilities. I really enjoy U2’s music; so I like to joke around about my obsession with them. But hopefully it’s clear that when I say things like, ‘I hope I meet Edge at True Tone’, I’m not actually expecting to meet Edge at True Tone. It just makes for much more fun and conversation-spurring posts. And I tend to like fun and conversation. At the very least, it’s a bit more fun (in my very humble opinion) than throwing up a twitter: ‘gearin’ up for the U2 show.’ I like to keep it interesting.

But in all seriousness, U2 is an experience. And I know that sounds kitsch and over the top if you don’t like them, and have never been to one of their shows. I’ve heard that said over and over again, and I thought I understood it. I’ve got the dvd’s of previous tours, and watch them a fair amount. But when I got there, and stood in front of Edge’s amps as he drove out perfect note after perfect note on ‘Breathe’, taking a rather normal base chord structure to levels you wouldn’t think it could go to, and as Bono quite literally sang his heart out, and 97,000 people for just 2 hours got to drop their learned inhibitions and allow songs to take them somewhere they might not otherwise be able to go……as over the top as it might sound, it is a spiritual experience.

So as much as I joke about the night not being fulfilled until security escorts me out for trying too hard to touch Edge, Bono, Larry, Adam, or even one of the stage crew, once you get there, it’s just about letting yourself go. Now, U2 is not for everybody. They’re obviously for a lot of people, but not for everybody. But I can pretty much guarantee you that if you were to go to a live show of theirs, and leave any preconceived notions at the door, you would at the very least feel something. Something you weren’t expecting. For me, U2 has a way of lending these orchestrations with the perfect mix of countering yet simplistic lines, to support a melody that aches and yearns as much as it gives joy. In fact, the joy probably comes out of the ache. And they do it with power and with passion, and it sings to people. Not to everyone, but to at least 97,000 people last evening at the Rose Bowl. To be able to sing with my wife with tears in our eyes during ‘City of Blinding Lights’. To be able to be crushed by 2490 fans in the inner circle jumping to ‘No Line on the Horizon’ as I in turn crush the 10 in front of me. To sing ‘No more!’ until you think you’re going to collapse, but it’s okay because thousands of other people from 5 years old to 65 years old are singing the same thing with the same intensity around you. And of course, to almost be able to touch Edge’s guitar when he leaned over the rail. And above absolutely everything else, to hear the untouched and pre-mic’d tone directly from his amps. ;) Not to sound overly sentimental (as if the last few sentences didn’t take care of that already), but it was a special couple days.

So, the last post lays out everything in chronological order. If you didn’t read that one, I’ll give you the cliff notes here: we waited in a 2500 person mob for 12 hours, there was a stampede, and we ended up getting spots in the one place that mattered most. The inner circle, about 10 feet from the stage, directly in front of Edge’s amps. The sound system was incredible, but if I’m going to be there, I’m going to need some stage volume. I wanted to hear some of Edge’s tone from his own speakers. And it was glorious.

Here’s where we were, and the opening of the first song. And by the way, if you hadn’t heard, they not only filmed this concert in Pasadena for a dvd, but they broadcast it live over youtube; and as of now, you can still watch the re-broadcast. Way better quality than my little camera. But we still took just a couple videos for mementos. Here’s some pics, and the end of the opening song (and me screaming…just a little bit loudly):

U2 Pasadena 1
(Where we were. With the amps facing us, and that’s about 15 feet from Edge…even though the picture makes it look farther. We’re almost right on the rail, but then there’s still a good five feet between the rail and he stage so that the security guards can glare at us…like the one on the far left there. hehe But they were cool. They even hit a couple beach balls back to us. Which is fairly rare amongst most of the shows I’ve been to. I was impressed.)

U2 Pasadena
(And that’s what it looked like from another fan’s vantage point. Absolute craziness. Amazing.)

I have to tell you; hearing that sound and power coming from Edge’s amps…indescribable. Perfect weight, clarity, warmth, and focus. You could feel his sound rushing through your body. Seriously, people were responding to some of his guitar parts as if they were vocal parts. He sings with that thing. And to be right in front of it…an amazing experience, and a definite learning experience.

And then the world stood still. This is what the picture is from at the beginning of this post. On U2’s ‘Until the End of the World’, the outro just pumps my heart. It’s some of my favorite musical anything ever. (How’s that!) Edge just lets his fuzz go crazy, and he plays this killer riff around the 2,3, and 4 notes…never hitting the 5 or higher octave that is anticipated. And then just when you feel it has to go there, he hits the seventh instead, giving it this great aching and driving quality. I absolutely love it live. And then it happened. As he’s playing it, he’s on the bridge, to my right. And suddenly the bridge starts moving towards me. And he ends up playing it directly over me. And then, I don’t even remember it happening…his guitar is in my face, and he’s leaning over the railing of the bridge, looking right at me. I was about 3 feet from him. Now, the camera was in my hand. And I had pushed record. But that’s about it. So, I’ve got the video of it, but it’s just sheer craziness, and then whoa!…Edge’s guitar is right there. hehehe I laugh every time I watch it. But there are very few moments in life when you’re literally not thinking about anything. And that was this moment for me. By the time the bridge passed back over me and over to the second bridge that Bono was on, I realized that I was laying diagonally with my full weight on some guy, who was also laying diagonally, with his full weight on some other guy, and I guess the rest of the pit was just supporting us. It was awesome. Here’s the worst video ever of the best moment ever:

And some stills from the video:

Edge frame 2

Edge frame 3

Edge frame 4

So those are the things that I had to talk about in depth. And much as I’d like to go through every song, I’m sure none of you would like me to go through every song. But there was a ton to take in, and a ton to mull over, learn, and experience. So here’s the highlight reel.

The Good

The first thing was how intimate this show was…and then at times how much it challenged your senses. On certain songs, the band was all around you…on bridges, behind the stage, on the outer circle stage…and yet they would still connect musically and facially with each other. The end of Beautiful Day with just Edge and Bono standing next to each other improvising was amazing. Could have been two guys playing in a coffee shop. And the whole band standing around each other doing Still Haven’t Found. Intensely intimate.
Yes. I did cry. Literal tears. During Walk On, and the Amazing Grace intro to Streets. But my wife cried too, and so did a lot of other people around us.
The sonic power yet space they create is incredible. That makes no sense, I know. You have to see them live to get it.
Edge holds those songs together. He is doing so much…guitars, loops, backing synths, piano, vocals, and at times leading the band. The parts he chooses are just perfect for the textures of each song, whether the song needs something in the background, something structural, something driving, something to pull the band along, or to support it. And many times it’s not at all where you would expect a guitar player to go. But it’s just what the song needs. I’ve known this, but to see it unfold live right in front of you, is something else.
They played 24 songs. And believed every one of them.
These guys play as a band better than anyone I’ve ever seen. They play to loops and click tracks live, are moving all over the stage of 360 degrees and with an outer ring and two bridges, and yet still somehow manage to improvise. In at least 5 songs, Bono was motioning to the band to give certain dynamics and to hang on or cut out, and they followed and supported perfectly. It’s awesome to watch Edge at those times. He watches Bono like a hawk.
The passion that pours out of Bono. Say what you like about him, and I will too. He does do some dumb things on stage. But seeing him live…he feels the living daylights out of every word he sings. It’s inspiring to watch.
Edge’s sound is fantastic. I know, I know, I’ve said that before. But honestly, I was a little nervous hearing it live for the first time, in case it didn’t measure up. And it actually went beyond my expectations…even though I mentally prepared myself to be objective about it if it wasn’t up to snuff. The sheer weight of the tone coming from the amps…and yet still clear…but yet still warm…can tone be icy and warm at the same time? I didn’t think so, but I guess it can. Amazing.
Adam is cool. And every bass player should take a page from him on how well he supports the melodic lines of the other instruments.
Bono’s voice sounded incredible live! I know it’s changed from when he was younger, but last night it sounded crisp and full, and just grabbed you. He’s still got it, and in a large way. Some of the improvised melodies on With or Without You, Streets, Walk On, Magnificent…wow.
U2 has a lot of fun. It was awesome to see them just laughing with each other, playing around, to see Edge smiling and shaking his head good-naturedly at some of the dumb things Bono said, and to see Bono laughing at himself after saying certain things. Very, very cool to see, and gave the whole night a very natural and close feel…even amongst 97,000 people. At one point, Bono even caught Edge off guard. He was saying something about some random song they did a little piece of…I think it was Stand by Me, after Still Haven’t Found. And then he just off the cuff asked Edge if he had anything to add. And Edge just kind of said, ‘Oh! Uh…no…he’s great, like you said.’ And then Bono said something like, ‘Whoa. He doesn’t speak much; but when he does!’ lol It was great, and just set you at ease.
Larry is ripped.
I love seeing the mistakes. On the beginning of Beautiful Day, something went wrong with Edge’s guitar. The first few harmonics were incredibly low in the mix. And the look he gave his guitar tech, Dallas, under the stage…haha. Yikes. The best look ever as he motioned with his hand to up the volume. It was very funny.
The sound system was amazing! Everything was so well balanced. You could hear the backing vocals…but not too loud. You could hear Larry’s toms…but right where they should be. That was cool, and very refreshing, too.
I hate to harp on it…but what a ride on that wave of emotion, fueled by sound and melody. It was so rad to see Edge feeling that same thing too. I’d watch him as he played parts, just gaze across the enraptured audience, and then just close his eyes as he finished out his part, allowing the sound to come over him as well. Feeling like you and the band are one, and feeling the same things…now there’s an experience.
No Line plays really well live.
Being in a crowd like that, everyone just screaming the songs and throwing their bodies at the songs…wow. Humbling to be a part of something that big. I yelled constantly.
Their songs simply moved me. To a place I’ve never been before.
And get this. Tone is hugely in the hands. Gear is really, really important, too. Don’t get me wrong. But right before U2 came out, Edge’s tech Dallas came out and tested a few of his guitars, and all his different effects for each song. And I almost had a heart attack. The tone, from Edge’s exact gear, was thin, brittle, a little harsh, and yet also very unclear. It was still good tone, but it was far from the best I’d ever heard. And that’s nothing against Dallas, either. I’m sure he’s a great guitarist in his own rite. But on Edge’s gear, it just wasn’t Edge’s sound. And then Edge came out…and whoa. Immediate touch difference. It was a softer touch…almost as if he was coaxing the sound out of the guitar. And suddenly there it was. Edge’s sound. I also noticed this waiting in line outside the stadium when they were sound-checking his guitar. Through that awesome sound system, his sound just wasn’t that great. But…once he starts playing…there it is. Very interesting. ;)
The live arrangement of Moment of Surrender is way better than the album version. Album is decent. Live is goosebumps and open-heart surgery.
Like I said, Bono does some odd things for showmanship. And I have most of their live dvd’s. I know his antics. But live? This is gonna sound weird…but they work live. It’s almost as if he turns off the filter of thought, and just acts on sheer adrenaline and emotion from the particular song, and just goes. And some of the stuff that watching back looks dumb, is actually really, really fun live. And it really gets the crowd engaged. Even if it’s laughing and hooting. Definitely something to learn there.
Larry is the tightest drummer I have ever heard. Perfect.
On City of Blinding Lights, towards the end, something must’ve gotten bumped on Edge’s delay setting. Because it was ever so slightly off. (Or maybe I’m just crazy.) But he realized it, and started playing off the beat ever so slightly to compensate. It was amazing. And that is a beautiful song.
I almost lost it so many times. The soul on the solo of Unknown Caller, the candor of In a Little While, the love of Streets, the ambience of Magnificent.
Oh, Edge’s sound.
Not even joking, earlier this year, my wife asked me what were the songs that I hoped they’d do but that I was sure they wouldn’t. And both Ultraviolet and and Unforgettable Fire were on my list. And they did them both. It was incredible to be there with her.
The Bad
U2 is not perfect. (Much as I’d like to think they are.) But I tried so very hard, and ended up succeeding, in just for one night, turning off my critical mind, and allowing myself to be taken somewhere. It’s extremely therapeutic to allow that to happen to you every once in a while. The trouble is finding something worthy enough to have that happen with. So I didn’t notice too much bad. And I watched back most of the youtube broadcast afterwards…and there really wasn’t much bad anyway! Just a special, special experience. But the little things, mics not being on, Adam on the wrong string for a couple notes, most of that was absolutely lost on me, and the rest of us in the pit. I was way too busy just singing my heart out, jumping on people, yelling loud enough to scare myself, and letting the music take me. I highly suggest it. Just for a night. I’ve never felt better.
And if you’re looking for some bad reviews, feel free to check the internet. There’s plenty. They don’t run around enough/they run around too much and it’s not intimate enough. The crowd wasn’t into it enough/people were too into it and squished me. They played too many songs from x album/they didn’t play enough songs from x album. Bono’s not a good enough showman/Bono’s showmanship annoys me. It’s too loud and muddy/it was too soft and tinny. We’ve all got opinions, and many of them are valid. But this whole post was more so about letting go and feeling the music. Some incredible music.
So…as is my regrettable custom, I start off by saying something is beyond words; and then I use a ton of words to describe it. So I should probably stop now. But here’s the rest of the pictures and videos. Terrible quality video, but it’ll be out on dvd soon.

U2 Pasadena 3

Edge's Amps 2

U2 360 speakers

People in the Claw

U2 360 screen

Edge in Pasadena

And lastly, my favorite picture of the night. It’s like, the perfect personification of how Edge exists in my mind:

U2 Pasadena 2

hehe Just a brilliant white light. lol This was not planned…it’s just an extremely oddly symbolic picture. haha :)

I am so sorry, but nothing else does this evening justice: a spiritual experience.

Splendid.
Karl.

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This post and its comments have been moved to the way more awesome guitarforworship.com website. Click here to read this post.

Splendid.
Karl.

U2 Line

Well, I’m not sure if anyone will read this post, as this is about the time leading up to the concert, and I’m posting it at the same time as I give a review of the actual concert (see the above post). However, the time leading up to it was just as exciting and experiential as the concert itself. No, that’s a lie. But in its own rite, important. So here ya go:

Saturday, 4:30 PM.

Claw in Rose Bowl

We got to the Rose Bowl in the late afternoon, on the off chance that we might see a member of the band, hear a soundcheck, or be able to make friends with a security guard or something. Of course, none of that happened. But we did get to stroll around the stadium and get a good idea of the layout of the grounds…the last time for a long time that we’d actually be able to see ground. And we got to see the top of The Claw, as they were still building it up. And we saw the people already camping out. Awesome. We thought about camping out, but in the end, I really wanted to shower in the morning, because we knew that this concert was going out live over youtube and getting filmed for a dvd. And of course, you’ll be able to make out my showered or unshowered body in the sea of 96,999 other people. Hey, I like to look good.

Saturday, 7:00 PM.

True Tone Music

We made it to True Tone in Santa Monica. No Edge. But the chances of actually seeing Edge there were pretty small. Okay…really small. It’s more an excuse to go to True Tone, and for my wife and I to hang out at the 3rd and 4th Street Promenade. Mmmm…True Tone.

Saturday, 9:00 PM.

Stuck in an underground parking structure off of La Brea. Ya, we forgot some stuff and had to go shopping. And it’s difficult to park in LA on a Saturday night. So, we’re in this structure, and all of a sudden lines just start to back up. It looks like the computer-controlled exits all went down at the same time. And then the actual people (you know they still hire some of those?), won’t let anyone out by just lifting the gate arms, even though the first hour of parking is free and the main store there is Target. You don’t stay in Target more than an hour–they don’t sell guitar gear. How much money could you possibly lose just lifting the gates while you reboot the system? Obviously more than I would think, I guess, because they didn’t. We finally found the one lady who was letting people out. My life flashed before my eyes (I don’t think that phrase really works here), as I thought I might spend the U2 concert in a Target parking structure. Ya, the concert wasn’t until the next day. I guess I can get a little bit dramatic when it comes to music. Can anyone say buffer versus true bypass? hehe Hey. It makes a difference. ;)

Saturday, 11:00 PM.

Yard House in Pasadena. My last meal before the next evening. When I get excited, I can’t eat. Yep. It was that bad.

Saturday, 11:30 PM.

At our hotel in Pasadena. And I am of course, freaking out, and quite ecstatic about the morning.

Sunday, 6:00 AM.

Awake. At this point I checked online, and found out that 550 people camped out at the Rose Bowl and were already in the GA line. GA stands for general admission, and is access to the floor of the stadium. However, how close you are to the stage, from first row to the very back, is first come first serve. So at least now I don’t have to freak out about getting in the first 50. The concert is laid out with a ring around the main stage, with bridges to it from the main stage. And that outer ring creates an inner space, with more of a club atmosphere. We heard they were only letting 2500 into that space, so we figured if we showed up by about 9:00 we’d be good.

Sunday, 7:30 AM.

Packing up the hotel room. We had the tv on, and there was a cowboy holding a gun to someone’s head, but I guess the guy with the gun to his head can make earthquakes with his mind? Or, at least make the camera shake in a very soap opera-ish fashion. And now it looks like the young kid in the bad cowboy crowd is saying goodbye to the girl he loves in the town his gang has taken over. He knows he should stay and help, but it looks as if the bad cowboy gang is the closest thing to a family that he’s ever had.

Sunday, 8:00 AM.

At a Starbucks for breakfast. I don’t like coffee. But Starbucks has fantastic water. And my wife adores pumpkin spice.

Sunday, 8:25 AM.

Getting lost. They shut down the 210 west. Which is a big deal. Apparently there’s going to be a lot of people in Pasadena today? Not sure the logic of shutting down a freeway to help the traffic, but…I am not a person who runs Pasadena.

Sunday, 8:45 AM.

IMG_3724

In the parking lot, and walking to the Rose Bowl. The Claw is enormous. And you gotta remember that the Rose Bowl has two decks. You can only see the upper one from the outside, because the lower one and the field are built below ground level. And we can still see the Claw.

Sunday, 9:00 AM.

In line. Absolutely crazy. U2 doesn’t go on for about 12 hours, and there’s already over 1,000 people ahead of us in line. What idiots. ;)

And everyone in line has ez-ups, coolers, lawn chairs, ipod docks, barb-q’s (yep), blankets, umbrellas, sunscreen, and board games. We brought some crackers and water. That’s right. You’re not a real U2 fan unless you’re in the pit, completely sunburned and heat-stricken. Rock ‘n roll.

And they played ‘Zest for Love’ about 8 million times. Must be their system check song for some reason. But it was amazing to hear it keep getting clearer and clearer. Amazing sounding system in there. Even from outside the stadium, you could hear every instrument crystal clear…best sounding cd you’ve ever heard. I was very impressed. And I have this weird urge, too, to love…zestily.

Sunday, 12:00 PM.

U2 Numbers

Well, they numbered us!! We are going to see U2!! And we’re in the first 1250, which is supposed to be the first wave into the stadium, and first shot at the inner circle of 2500 people. So we’re stoked! Supposedly, they’re going to let in five sections of 250 for the first 1250. Rock. Edge, watch out.

Sunday, 1:00 PM.

And the madness begins. There is no more golf course, no more ground anywhere. We’re 1201 and 1202 in line, and then the line wraps behind us about 3 times, and then into another golf course, and we can’t see the end of it. Has to be at least 5,000 people by now. But it is so awesome to be amongst a bunch of other U2 fans. And not just because it’s U2. There are very few opportunities in life just to be with people who are united with a common goal, and common interest. There was a huge energy! Well, and then that energy was balanced back out by the 90 degree heat, and sitting in the sun for the last 4 hours. But people are cool. The people in front of us even let us use their blanket, seeing as we…ya…brought none. I guess I was just counting on my love for U2 to carry me all day. Oh! And every other car was having a tailgate party and playing U2. So rad! But almost every one was playing their B-sides. Almost as if we were all trying to prove to each other that we were the coolest and most ‘indie’ fan of this multi-platinum artist. hehe And there was ‘the guy’; the one trying to audition for Bono’s role during every U2 song played from someone’s ipod dock. Very loudly, and with much vibrato. :) People rock.

Oh, and the sound-checking guitar is obviously not Edge. I gotta say, I am amazed how much tone is in the hands. That’s his rig, but not his tone.

Sunday, 2:00 PM.

They have now given us all wristbands, in addition to the numbers on our hands. I don’t know why. But it makes me feel more secure. I must see them.

Sunday, 3:00 PM.

Waiting.

Sunday, 4:00 PM.

Still waiting.

Sunday, 4:30 PM.

Oh, sweet mercy! So, there’s only so long, I suppose, that you can control a crowd of 20,000 people. Jamianne and I went off to find some water somewhere so as not to die. As we were coming back, we decided to walk up the GA line just to see everything, maybe meet some interesting people. So as we walk by the front of the line, we see them moving the first group of 250 closer to the entrance gates. Awesome, we think. They weren’t supposed to do this until 5. So maybe all the groups will get in early. Apparently though, no one told the next group of 250 what was going on. Or they did, and they just couldn’t take it anymore. Or people were jumping in line. I did talk to a couple who thought for sure that showing up at 4 meant they were going to get in the inner circle. They were more than a little disappointed when I said they’d been numbering us since 8 in the morning, and that the line stretched for probably 5,000 to 10,000 people by now. Whatever the reason, as we’re walking back to our spot, right when we get to it, we look to our left, and the entire line just starts stampeding. So, as any good citizen of any big riotous mob would do, we jump in and start running too! It was like racing through a refugee camp. People just up and started running for the gate. Lawn chairs, clothes, food, barb-q’s, full ez-ups, all just left, and then run over by the mob. When the next 250 started moving, I guess, it just started a chain reaction, nobody knew what was happening, and the safest thing we all figured to do was just to run with the mob. Here’s what it looked like when we stopped, and there’s more people after where it looks like it ends. It doesn’t end there, it’s just a rise in the hill:

Ya. So those numbers on our hands? Yep. Didn’t mean a thing. But it’s totally cool. I mean, in a way, I was stoked on the energy of this crowd. It’s a rock ‘n roll show! (And you might disagree, and I hear ya. But 10,000 people right then sure thought it was a rock ‘n roll show. :) ) There’s only so much crowd control you can do with a line of 10,000 people (and about 30,000 more milling about the grounds and having tailgate parties) without very large guns. And about one trash can and one portable toilet per every 500 people outside the stadium? And the promise of U2 once you got in the stadium? Yep. It was more than the angry mob could handle. hehe And they’re allowing 2500 people in the inner circle, and then there’s even more incredible places on the outer circle, as U2 spends tons of times walking around during the show. So it’ll all work out, and we’ll all get great seats. We saw some higher numbered hands in front of us; but we also saw some lower numbered hands right next to us. So no worries. Apparently not for everyone. hehe Lots of interesting and colorful conversations. But for the most part, this is a 97,000 person rock ‘n roll concert. You just gotta enjoy the ride.

Sunday, 4:45 PM.

Okay. To make matters worse, U2 starts to soundcheck ‘Magnificent’ right as the mob comes to a halt. And this is the first time we’ve heard the actual band playing, not their techs. So as this one event staff tries to instruct the mob using what had to be the smallest megaphone known to man, everyone is paying absolutely no attention; but instead screaming ‘It’s Bono! That’s Bono!’ So finally…I don’t know if they just put out the word to find the biggest security guards in the Pasadena area who could make it to the Rose Bowl in a half hour or what…but all of a sudden the hugest security guards were out, and of course cops started lining the mob, and we went in, in not so much numbered waves, as random clusters.

Sunday, 5:00 PM.

In the gates. Some security are saying run, there’s too many people for us to move slowly. Others are saying walk, there’s too many people for someone to go down. Most people followed the first advice. ;)

Sunday, 5:10 PM.

Alright. For all my nonsense about touching Edge, and getting pulled on stage by him, none of that is really possible. I know it’s odd, but Edge actually doesn’t know me. I know. Shocker. ;) So in reality, all I cared about was hearing stage volume from his amps. I know the house system is amazing, and I know he knows how to mic his amps, but it does not matter. If I am going to see him play live, I want to hear some sound pure and direct from his speakers. And we did. We got into the inner circle, about 5 feet back from the front rail, in front of Edge. His amps were facing directly at our heads. Perfect placement.

Sunday, 5:30 PM.

Pandemonium. We’re packed up like sardines in here, which is awesome. It’s a show, and we need to be close to feel the collective love from each other. But we are so close to each other, and there are people leaving for food, drinks, and beer, and then coming back and expecting their spots to still be there. hehehe And then there are people sitting. And others falling on top of them…because when you sit in a mob of people, from anywhere other than where you are sitting, your spot looks like empty space towards which everyone else is trying to get. And then there are my favorite people. The ones criticizing how dirty it is amongst all those people, and how rude it is for people to touch them, and how it’s too noisy. Amongst 2500 squished in, sunburned, bedraggled music fans. Hey. You gotta hand it to their optimism, I suppose. They apparently, truly thought the mob would be well-mannered.

Sunday, 7:15 PM.

Black Eyed Peas. And you know what? My respect grew for their musical abilities. Some catchy melodies and beats (mixed with some really terrible stuff, in my humble opinion), and I liked the melding of urban music with actual instruments. Pretty cool. But my respect for the band itself? Not so much. They had Slash come out, and they did the longest and worst cover ever of Sweet Child of Mine. And Fergie danced up on Slash while he was solo’ing. And it was awkward. He could be her grandfather. And actually, the only time the crowd went crazy for them was when she shook something. And she’s got a good voice, too; she shouldn’t have to do that. And they all know that they are really, really cool. Oh. And too many male pelvic thrusts than I normally care to see in an evening. But their drummer was extremely talented, in a very minimalistic way. Cool. Oh, and there were definitely some dancing radios. Awkward:

Sunday, 8:35 PM.

The world stops. Edge’s amps are revealed:

And the rest is just pure bliss. hehe And bliss in the post above. And of course bliss in my heart…forever and ever. Childish? Yes. But so is standing in a living heat stroke for 12 hours to see U2…absolutely worth every minute of it.

Splendid. (A lot.)
Karl.

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Splendid.
Karl.


 

I don’t have a doorbell. I live in an apartment. I chose gear instead of a house. I figure, I have plenty of time to get a house. But that original version Damage Control Timeline (I’m pretty sure there’s only one version, but if you say ‘original version’, you’re technically not wrong, and it sounds way cooler); now the auction for that was ending in like, two days. You do the math. Gear. So then, why is this post called something about a doorbell? Well, my wife was just listening to that White Stripes song, and it’s like the catchiest ever, and this is a post about what I’ve been thinking lately. It is very difficult to sift through my head sometimes. And as difficulty tends to not be easy, and I tend to like easy things, I just don’t sift. But then I had the problem of having no title for this post. So then I listened to the appalling catchiness coming from my wife’s computer speakers, and hence, ‘I Been Thinkin’ About My Doorbell.’ Not much sense to be had, I get it. But then again, let’s be honest; do you actually come to this blog because I ever make sense? Ya. Guessing no on that one. So here’s what I’ve been thinking:

Strymon is coming out with a new delay. I do not need another delay. I want it.
Edge is about six hours away from me at this very moment. Mmmmm. (I apologize if the ‘mmmmm’ frightens you, but, it’s kind of the only sound the human body is capable of making when lathered in the lovely droves of delay, Edge’s melodic mind, and about 7 amps, including 2 1960’s AC30’s. So, my apologies, but……mmmmmmmm.)
Jack White is really good!
The other night I was old. Some kids wanted to sell me something at the ‘insane’ hour of about 8:30 PM (I know), and I wished I had a doorbell, because they were pounding on our apartment door. I griped for a while. And then another while (what in the world is a ‘while’?). And then I realized that at 25, I have become old. What happens when I’m 85?
Meg White? Ya…not so much. (That’s probably horrible to say, and I’m sure you’re a lovely person…but those drums…)
I went outside tonight to see if I could hear Edge’s guitar from Phoenix. I have this theory that his tone is so real, integral, and uncompromised, that it will actually be able to travel from Phoenix to here, because the sound waves are so steady, and ringing at the exact right frequency, so as to cut through the ‘mix of life.’ (I’ve put my whole theory on this into documentation, complete with the mathematical equations, algorithms, and of course accounting for the amount of delay on his guitar; except without the equations, algorithms, or documentation. But I did account for the delay!) I am almost positive that I could hear his tone. It was a little hard to tell, though, if it was his tone from Phoenix, or his tone from my ipod dock playing U2. (Hey, ‘Breathe’ was playing, and I couldn’t turn it off right before the solo! Psshh. Come on! ……Hmmm, ‘psshh’ doesn’t seem to work right when written. Or maybe even said.)
I wish I was John Williams.
Fedex is the worst.
I’ve fallen into the habit of subtly ‘promoting myself’ in general conversation. You know, steering the conversation towards things I’ve done, and towards my self-inflated and quite actually non-existent pedigree. Nasty and gross habit.
I love bass players. I’ve said it before, but us electric guitar players cannot do anything without you guys anchoring the harmonic structure.
Okay, this is not a joke. As I’m writing this, my wife is watching a youtube clip of Judy Garland as a little girl in some movie, singing to a picture of her ‘hero’, Clark Gable, ‘You Made Me Love You.’ And my wife just leaned over to me and said, ‘Is that how you sing to your picture of Edge, when I’m not around? ‘You made me love you!” This happened about 19 seconds ago. That is not made up.
There is a lot to do in this world. And I waste a lot of time.
Change your tubes.
Is it bad when you find yourself not paying attention to the message, because you’re gazing past the pastor, lovingly at the lights on your amp on stage, and then you can’t remember for how long that’s been going on?
I used to sing a song in Sunday School that just said, ‘Read your Bible, pray every day.’ And for all the ‘deep spiritual concepts’ and ‘contextual-Biblical-armenian-free-will-determinism-leadership-what-not’ that I feel I’ve learned about, it’s almost always the simple stuff I learned in Sunday school that makes the most real world difference.
I can’t imagine life without music.
When people comment on how big my pedalboard is, I usually pass it off with some joke about how most of the pedals are not even plugged in, but I just keep them on the board to look cool. I just looked at my pedalboard while typing this (and yes…there was all the tenderness in that look that you’re afraid there was), and realized that I actually do have a pedal on my board that has not been plugged in for about a month. But it does look really, really cool right there!

    Splendid.
    Karl.

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    Splendid.
    Karl.
    

    Johann Sebastian Bach said this in the 1700’s. And I didn’t want to believe it for a long time. I wanted music to be technicality, style, and harmony (and of course that means, dueling guitar harmonies). But years later, I have to submit to the fact that music is, in fact, melody. Without melody, you have nothing but structure. But with melody, and countering melodies……that’s where the beauty comes from.

    And with great melody, comes the transcendence of style. I believe that truly great melody shines through, no matter what style is being played. And to back up that belief, I have youtube videos. (By the way, you can back up any belief you have using the internet. Any belief. It’s wondrous.) But I’m curious if others feel the same. To me, the music is what I hear in each of these videos. The melody is transcending each of their different styles. It’s almost the same feeling from each song, just supported with a different style.

    And there’s a lot of videos here. Sorry about that. But I really like music.

    So first up (and guess what? It’s not U2!), is just a melody. I suppose, the purest form of music. Haunting song:

    And then we’ll follow that right up with something with much more sound and many more instruments, but still keeping the melody out front where it should be:

    From there, to a timeless tune. I was in an Irish pub one time (I have to put that in because those of you who know me, know I don’t drink…not for religious reasons, but for love of friends reasons…yet still, I go into every Irish pub I can for dinner, because Irish makes everything better…it’s like delay…and if you add Irish to delay, then the rejoicing is unsurpassed……wait, adding Irish to delay, that’s Edge! It’s all adding up now…), and this song came on. And literally, not even exaggerating here, 10 people from different tables, including myself, sang the first 5 words without even thinking about it. And then we all kind of laughed, and looked around at each other. Powerful melodies in this one. Not just the main melody, but the intertwining, supporting, and contrapuntal melodies as well (and it’s a little known fact, but I guess Richard Simmons indeed did play guitar for these guys):

    Now let’s completely jump styles, but staying with the theme of intertwining melodies. This is one of those songs that you know, but have no idea why. Totally different style, but bringing out the same emotions and passions:

    And to what, to my soul, sounds and feels like almost the exact same song. I could probably die to this:

    Now this one…I could not die to this. I can usually not stand this style. But the melody is so incredibly catchy, for me this song truly does transcend its style:

    So let’s bring that into something totally un-produced. And yet the melody still brings out the feelings and emotions, that really seem to support the life in the lyrics. I just love to raw nature of this:

    And another one that transcends its style completely. There is a cheesy keyboard, and that guitar tone is definitely not the best (could be the VHS quality though, hehe…natural tremolo). But the melody he brings out is just from another world. Not to mention, this guy probably has some of the best sounding hands to ever touch a guitar:

    So let’s add an electronica style to that. But again, the feelings are almost exactly the same. This is Michael Brook. I don’t even know what to call this style, but the melodies are just beautiful:

    And then, not to leave worship music out of it. If every worship song was written with these types of feelings about the Lord in mind, not just in the lyrics, but in the music, too…I think the church could do a lot more with its music. Doesn’t matter the style, this melody is superb:

    Alright, back to catchiness. As you’re listening to this, try to imagine writing the guitar part. If I had written that, I would have thrown it away without a second thought. But somehow, it became one of the catchiest melodies ever written. This song defies you to not keep the pulse with some part of your body:

    A side note about that last tune; I think Jagger and Bono are long lost brothers or something. The uni-gender body stylings as they sing are ominously alike. But maybe that’s just to balance out the ‘ecstatic-ness’ of Charlie Watts. hehe But remember as you watch this next video, that the last one was the Rolling Stones. Okay? Because I’m about to throw in a bit of uni-gender speculation onto myself by showing this next one. But how do you not just dig this melody (and note the orange Divided by 13 the guitarist is using):

    And since we’ve opened this box of metro-ness, let’s keep it open a little while longer, with a melody that seems almost as if it’s just existed since the beginning of time. Gotta mention this, because no one knows it, and they deserve some credit for this gorgeousness; composers are Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman. Arranged by Andy Beck:

    Beautiful. Actual tears. Which means that the whole male thing is slipping further and further away. So I just have to show this. This is a complete divergence for me; but I love this band. They’re like, the U2 of metal. Haunting melodies that seem to come straight from a heart on a sleeve, and tons of beautiful, intricate, yet simplistic, ambient orchestration. I’m a man. (And if you get that reference, and you’re not my awesome wife, then wow!) Oh, and just ignore the ultra-cheese slow motion fire blasts:

    And then to a song that brings out some of the same feelings as the last, ultra heavy one, in a completely different style. I would go to very great lengths to hear this done live. If your soul doesn’t ache after hearing this, then I hereby ban you from all Irishness. That may sound like an odd threat, but without Irish, you have no flutes, Braveheart, shepherd’s pie, Brad Pitt saying ‘Ya like diigs’, rain, or U2. Not much reason left to live now, is there. And the beautiful ache:

    And to bring it back round to Bach here at the end, here’s the same feelings, different song. One of the most gorgeous and perfect melodies ever written (and yes, he is sitting on a picture of the ocean…sorry):

    And of course, lastly, some of the most haunting and acheful (nope, not a word) intertwining melodies ever put into a piece of music. And yes, that does mean U2 ( ;) ):

    I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that music like this doesn’t need any commentary from me. And of course, I’m going to go ahead and give it commentary anyway. Music is melody. Not style, not technicality. Melody and supporting melodies. And those melodies can be rhythmic, too. Anything with a beautiful, and soulful through line that conjures emotions. And I truly believe that melodies like that transcend all musical boundaries. I mean, if they can transcend Journey’s sense of style, Kelly Clarkson’s MTV-hormone-induced-I’m-embarrassed-for-the-American-culture, In Flames’ metal fire, and the guy riding the picture, then they should have no trouble transcending anything else.

    Splendid.
    Karl.

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