Alaska Cruise – Day 10

Today was the last day of the cruise, and we pulled in to Seattle pretty early in the morning. Disembarkation was a little more chaotic than our last cruise thanks to the missing central staircase on the Grand Princess. But we managed to slide in to one of the earlier groups and got off the ship pretty quickly. From there we took a cab over to the hotel, got our luggage dropped off, and snagged some breakfast.

We walked back to Pike Place Market and did a little more last minute shopping before heading over to Fado’s, the pub we had wanted to go to on the Friday before we set sail. The food was great, and while we were definitely too tired to make it there last time, it was good that we didn’t miss out on it. While we were there we got to watch a little of the World Cup and Heather got to see her first dive. It was quite amusing.

We grabbed a cab and went back to Seattle Center to go to the EMP Museum. They have a sci-fi/fantasy/horror exhibit that we were dying to check out, and it was worth the visit. There were lots of interactive exhibits and props from movies like The Wizard of Oz, Labyrinth, The Princess Bride, as well as props from Star Wars, Stargate, and Game of Thrones. Once we got done with that section we went up to the music exhibits and took in a great Jimi Hendrix exhibit as well as one on Nirvana.

We took the monorail back to the hotel, dropped our loot, and headed down to Pike Brewing Company for dinner. We weren’t too hungry so we just ordered appetizers and shared around. Plus a tasting flight of some of their limited and seasonal releases to cap the evening off. We walked back to the hotel in the rain, said our goodbyes to Sandy and David, and settled in for the night. Tomorrow we fly home.

Imagine Dragons

After not being able to get tickets the last time Imagine Dragons was in town, we snagged a pair for this show. The audience was made up of a bunch of different demographics. There were tweens and younger kids with and without their parents, teens and young adults, as well as adults and retirees. The music was great, especially the Tom Sawyer cover they did. They really do put on a great show, so if you’ve got a chance to go see them, don’t pass it up.

Mumford and Sons

We had tickets for the June 11th Mumford and Sons concert, but it was postponed due to one of the band members needing emergency brain surgery. Today was the make-up day, and we were still free and able to get down to Fair Park for the concert. Heather scored some great seats, about 20 rows from the stage, under the covered section of the Starplex (yeah, I know, it has another name, but they keep changing them and it’ll always be the Starplex to me). The opening acts were pretty good, and while we did enjoy them, we were there for Mumford. They put on a fantastic show, playing stuff from both Sigh No More and Babel as well as some jam sessions. If you get a chance, go see them, and if you haven’t heard much of their stuff, go buy their albums.

Dave Matthews Band

Heather and I went down to the Starplex (yeah, I know, it’s changed names a few times since then, but it’s just easier) to catch her favorite band. We stopped to check out a new restaurant we’d seen, because we wanted to have dinner before getting down to the mess that is the area around Fair Park. The FM Smoke House is in the building that housed the Bennigan’s in Las Colinas. It’s a small Texas chain, featuring good barbecue, lots of Texas beers on tap, and a huge selection of whiskies. The food was excellent, the service was great, and if we weren’t going to a concert I might have had a few more beers.

After dinner we got down to the venue, snagged our section of the lawn, and waited for the show to start. The opening act was Mariachi El Bronx, playing a sort of cross between mariachi music and American urban folk, if that makes any sense. Just follow the link and listen. They were fun, interacting well with the crowd, and played some damn good music. Dave even popped on stage to introduce them at the beginning of their set.

Once they were done there was the usual teardown and setup between acts, then Dave and the band took the stage. I’m deferring to Heather here, because I don’t know their catalog well at all, but she says that they dug deep into their catalog for the sets. Even playing some stuff that isn’t on any studio or live albums that she has, and she’s got all of their studio albums. The show was great, Dave was as goofy as ever, fussing at the crowd to not “catch a chill” due to how cold it was (being in the high 80s at that point). The crowd was pretty good too, with only one example of drunken stupidity that stood out. Before the opening act even took the stage some drunk dude tumbled off the lawn area and bounced his head off the concrete wall loud enough for us to hear it a good 15m – 20m away. He was carted off on a wheel chair pretty quickly, and I’m betting that he’s regretting his actions by now. Other than that, it was a great show, and one that you shouldn’t miss if you ever get a chance to go see.

The Devil Makes Three

Heather and I headed out to Dallas to grab some dinner and go see The Devil Makes Three tonight. We’d seen them before, as an opening act for Flogging Molly, but this time they were headlining. They’re a lot of fun, and definitely shouldn’t be missed if they’re in your area.

The first stop, after getting a great parking spot thanks to the early arrival, was to get dinner. We decided to check out The West End Pub, and were pleasantly surprised. The service was great, the food was really good, they had local beers on tap, and the atmosphere was definitely on the “neighborhood pub” side of the spectrum. They’re only a short walk from the House of Blues which means we’ll probably be going back there before concerts.

Then we made our way back to the House of Blues to catch the show. Again, we were early, and got one of the couches. After a little wait, the opening act took the stage. He’s an old fashioned country singer named Jonny Fritz. Definitely not PG13 lyrics, but a heck of a lot of fun, and after his set he wandered around the crowd signing things and talking. I think we’ll catch him again if he comes through.

And then The Devil Makes Three took the stage. They played a lot of stuff from their new album, along with some of their older stuff. It’s a nice mix of country, bluegrass, rockabilly, and even some punk influences. The audience was thoroughly enjoying the show, and we were amused by the amount of bass coming through the floor from the George Clinton show downstairs. Like I said before, don’t miss them if they’re near you. You won’t be disappointed. And don’t skip the opening acts when you go to concerts! That’s how we found them in the first place, thanks to Flogging Molly…

Flogging Molly

I met a friend at Dick’s Last Resort for a little dinner before the Flogging Molly concert. The food was great, the service was as surly as ever, and the people watching was great. After that we headed over to the House of Blues for the show. It was a sold out show, so we were expecting it to be crowded and weren’t disappointed. There were two opening acts, both of which were excellent. The first was Dave Hause, a one man singer/guitar act. His lyrics were good, and his interaction with the audience was fun. The second was Skinny Lister, a new group out of England that does a punkified version of English folk music. They were great, and I picked up their CD for the drive back.

Flogging Molly was filming this show, so hopefully there will be a DVD with shots of us at some point soon. Their show was fantastic, better from the floor, just outside the pit, than it was from the balcony. They did some of their favorites, staples of their live shows, as well as some newer and older songs they haven’t done in a while. The crowd was energetic, but not obnoxious, and everything was self-policed so that everyone could enjoy themselves as they pleased. They closed the show with one of my favorites, If I Ever Leave This World Alive. It’s a bittersweet song, but one that I can identify with on many levels.

On the way home, I popped the CD in to the Jeep’s radio and started listening. I got about 5 seconds in to the first track and it skipped, then locked up. And when I say locked up I mean the radio’s display said “Err” and it wouldn’t eject. I’ve been having problems with the radio for a while, with it randomly powering itself off and the display being all messed up. I guess I shouldn’t have put the CD in, but hope springs eternal. I’m going to pull the radio out of the dash tomorrow and see how mangled the CD is. Not the best end to a great evening…

Rush – Clockwork Angels Tour

Heather and I went out to the American Airlines Center to see Rush’s Clockwork Angels show. It was a great show, with a huge setlist of new stuff as well as older songs, some of which haven’t been performed live in decades. We had pretty good seats, higher up, towards the back of the arena, that gave us a great view of the stage and the video screen. The sound guys did a great job, loud enough to be enjoyable, but without being obnoxious. What was interesting was that they brought a string section along with them, to accompany some of the Clockwork Angels songs. They kept them on the stage for some of the other songs, including YYZ, where it really added to the piece. We had a little bit of a surprise when Geddy announced that they were filming the show for a DVD they’re going to be putting out. The cameras were visible, but not obnoxious or overly intrusive. I’m really looking forward to seeing the footage when it comes out.

Gaelic Storm At The Live Oak

Thanks to a scheduling bobble, the concert turned out to be today instead of this past Wednesday, so we booked it over to The Live Oak over in Fort Worth to catch Gaelic Storm. This is the third time we’ve seen them, though the previous two were at the House of Blues. We got there a little early and had time to get some food from the kitchen. Unfortunately, our first choices were sold out, so we had to pick some other stuff. Heather got a BLT, which she wasn’t too impressed with, and I got a water buffalo burger, which was excellent. They also had a number of great beers on tap, including locals and imports.

After we finished the food we went around back to the music hall part of the venue. It’s small, but not uncomfortably so. We struck up a conversation with the couple behind us in line and ended up sharing a table with them, instead of standing. The show was great, with some of our old favorites, as well as a bunch of stuff from the new album, Chicken Boxer. I picked it up and after the show got it signed by the entire band. It was a great show at a pretty good venue.

Reviving Our Date Nights

With the wedding coming up and all of the stress around it, we’ve let our date nights lapse. That’s not good, so we’re starting them back up. Tonight we headed up to Denton to check out The Abbey Inn, a pub on the city square. They’ve got a great selection of local beers on tap, including the yummy IPA by (512) brewing company that I had. The food was delicious, and the service was excellent. We’ll definitely be going back there in the near future.

After that we went over to Beth Marie’s for some tasty ice cream before doing a little shopping. First we went to Mad World Records to look for some music for the wedding reception. We found the Marc Cohn and Dawes albums we were looking for, so that was time well spent. Then we hit Recycled Books and managed, somehow, to bring back even more books to add to the ever growing “to read” stack.

Rammstein Concert

I picked up a ticket back in November because I wasn’t going to miss this one. One of the benefits of buying single seats is you tend to get your seat in a good location. This was no exception as I was about 8 rows back, at a 45 degree angle, from stage right. The show was amazing. The pyrotechnics were intense, waves of heat washing over us as fireballs exploded across the stage. It looks like the U.S. tour is winding down, and there’s some doubt about what the band’s plans for the future are, but if you get a chance, and the music is to your liking, you really should go see them.