In addition to their music, what makes this gathering so special is the humanity, connection, joy, and presence The Watkins Family exudes.
The spirit in the room feels festive and light. It’s a gathering of good friends, who’ve come together to celebrate and share stories, songs and laughter. The dynamic interaction between those on stage is shared with all in attendance. The musicians have a long history with each other, but they make sure to let the audience in on their inside jokes. With their presence and openness, The Watkins Family unites us all.
Their music carries a similar inclusive, dynamic, and evolving energy. Thanks to the tone The Watkins Family sets and Largo‘s no-cell-phone policy, it is a completely immersive experience. You can get lost in the sound, hear how each note plays off the other, and the way the instruments and voices work together, each elevating the other. Rather than simply play their part, the musicians listen to and accompany each other. It is a live music experience in the purest sense. Created in front of you, the songs feel different each time they’re played. The Watkins Family Hour is a monthly residency that has spanned more than a decade, yet the show is still refreshing, unique, and anticipation for the next one never wanes.
The dynamic atmosphere is balanced with a sense of history and tradition. Whether you’re attending your first Watkins Family Hour show or your thirty-first, it feels as though you’ve been there since the beginning. The Watkins Family transports you to another time and place, where all there is to do is enjoy music and our time together.
There are no computers, fog machines, nor fancy lighting rigs. You may feel like you’ve been invited to a family gathering at one of their homes, especially when Sean and Sara sing while standing beneath a homemade snow machine, getting doused by white flakes. Last night, The Watkins Family reminded us not to take things too seriously and to embrace and express our childlike spirit. With the snow machine and humorous elves, they also gave us the gift of another inside joke and ”you had to be there” moment.
There’s music, comedy, and last night, there was snow. You can’t Auto-Tune this and it won’t translate in virtual reality. The Watkins take you on a journey which, like life, is ever-changing and more fun to navigate with music, a sense of humor, and surrounded by family and good friends.
I’ve been listening exclusively to Nine Inch Nails since seeing them perform at Staples Center Friday night. It’s been a long time since a concert inspired me to do that. I’ve been listening to this band for more than 20 years and, even today, as I listen to Nine Inch Nails, I can hear new perspectives in the music. It’s dynamic and evolving. It’s the varying degrees of tension between the instruments and the space between the noise. If you step out of the literal and just listen to the music, you can hear something new every time.
There are back up singers in this line-up and when they sing, that’s one thing. When they scream, that’s another thing. These women – and everyone on that stage and associated with this production – are essential to the show. Everyone’s role is additive and complementary to the experience.
Rob Sheridan, Nine Inch Nails’ creative director, is brilliant. Trent Reznor has an amazing ability to recognize and embrace exceptionally talented people. The creative collaboration with Sheridan is signature to the Nine Inch Nails brand. You know what this music feels like as a result of the entire production; not just the sound.
And the sound is great, no matter where they play. Staples Center can be tricky with sound because it tends to bounce around the room. A Nine Inch Nails show – loud as it may be – will not send you home with ringing ears. There’s precision in the production.
If I could use one word to describe Nine Inch Nails, it would be “integrity”. Integrity of music, integrity of art, integrity of the relationship with their fans. This band keeps their promise every time. Even if you’re not a fan of the music, I recommend seeing Nine Inch Nails for the inspiration of the vision and the aspiration of being that committed to their art.
So yeah, the show was outstanding. Where the fuck were you??
Without knowing what shape, nor time, nor place it would happen, I’d been anticipating this night for four years. ”I won’t let you down,” Trent Reznor assured everyone during Nine Inch Nails’ final show of the Wave Goodbye Tour, on September 10, 2009.
True to his word, Reznor has not disappointed. During the Nine Inch Nails “hiatus”, Reznor brilliantly scored 2 soundtracks, one of which landed him an Oscar. He also co-created How To Destroy Angels with his wife, Mariqueen Maandig, which included one of the most visually impressive productions I’ve witnessed. Rather than continuously churning out albums and tours as Nine Inch Nails, Reznor recognized he needed a break, focusing on other creative and personal endeavors. The creative freedom and perspective gained from his Nine Inch Nails “break” (arguably one of the most productive “breaks” on record), was evident during Tuesday night’s show.
For all in attendance, the Nine Inch Nails show at The Troubadour was a story of miracles.
Listening to the crowd prior to the show, provided hours of “how I got in” stories. One woman was determined to win tickets for her boyfriend, so he could see his favorite band on his birthday. Another woman described her meticulous strategy for winning tickets from radio stations, including the theory that land lines provide a better chance of winning than mobile phones. People described how they enlisted co-workers, friends, and relatives to help them pound the phones each time a KROQ DJ announced “one lucky caller” would win a pair of tickets.
Prior to the show, a man worked the line, offering people $800 a ticket. Perhaps he did eventually make his way in, but from what I saw, observing the first 100 people in line, he was met with one consistent response: silence and a definitive shake of the head, “no.” Money can buy a lot of things, but it can’t replace a once-in-a-lifetime Nine Inch Nails experience.
Everybody in attendance recognized and deeply appreciated the fact that they were seeing Nine Inch Nails at The Troubadour, an intimate venue, with rich history. The atmosphere prior to the show was gracious, celebratory, and invigorating. People didn’t wait until the show began to enjoy the experience. They’d been enjoying this night since the moment they knew they would be among a mere couple hundred people who would see Nine Inch Nails play The Troubadour.
A few minutes prior to 8:30pm, the energy inside the venue shifted. There was a collective understanding that this was the time to take care of any last minute needs or desires. People worked together, taking turns buying t-shirts, drinks, and making their final bathroom run of the evening.
When Nine Inch Nails hit the stage, it was explosive. Kicking the set off with “Somewhat Damaged”, the band and the crowd took the energy to otherworldly levels. The sound – despite its high volume – was crystal clear. There was no unintended distortion. The sound being as perfect as it was, I neglected to wear earplugs.
Yep, there were lights.
I wish I could describe what it felt like to be at The Troubadour when Nine Inch Nails played. We may have been inside a small venue, but from a production standpoint, this was no little show. One third of the balcony appeared to be taken over by the band’s equipment. When the show began, the neon “Troubadour” light behind the stage was dimmed. The audience was transported to a place they’d never been, even if they’d previously seen Nine Inch Nails a hundred times before.
That is among the reasons Nine Inch Nails is widely lauded as one of the best (if not the best) live bands in the world. No matter how many times you see them, every experience is unique, and the definition of “perfection” evolves.
For me, what stands out most is how much Trent Reznor cares and how apparent that is in everything he does. This is his life, his art, his passion. He cares about the experience as a whole, that people continually walk away, as I do, drenched in sweat and nearly speechless. Every show is unique, surprising, and absolutely mind, spirit, and energy altering.
Prior to the show, people speculated about the set list. The majority of fans suspected the band would play the new album, Hesitation Marks, straight through. Some elaborated that, following the new songs, Nine Inch Nails would certainly play some of their older material. This is what happens to music fans’ expectations when Nine Inch Nails leaves the scene. We become accustomed to, and expect that, every show is about pushing a new album or promoting something else entirely. That is how most bands would do it. That is how nearly every band I’ve seen this year has done it. That is the format we’ve grown accustomed to and accept.
This is how Nine Inch Nails did it at The Troubadour:
1. Somewhat Damaged
2. The Beginning of the End
3. Terrible Lie
4. March of the Pigs
6. The Line Begins to Blur
7. The Frail/ The Wretched
8. I’m Afraid of Americans (David Bowie cover)
9. Gave Up
12. The Warning
13. Find My Way
14. Came Back Haunted
18. The Hand That Feeds
19. Head Like a Hole
20. La Mer
For those who are less familiar with Nine Inch Nails’ discography, that’s a 21-song set list, including a mere three songs from the new album.
It almost seems as if Trent Reznor takes it as a personal responsibility to make people question – and raise – their expectations. Every time I see Nine Inch Nails I’m surprised, even though I shouldn’t be. They are my favorite band to see live. I know how good they are. I know what they’re capable of. Then, they remind me: no matter how much I think I know, no matter how high my expectations, Nine Inch Nails leaves me at a loss for words with their sheer brilliance and dedication.
Their energy never wanes. Likewise, there’s no ramp-up time. When the band first burst onto stage, I felt like I had been blown back twenty feet. There was a simultaneous sound and light explosion that removed the audience from whatever day it was, whatever they had been thinking about, wherever they were – physically and mentally – and transported them to another world.
Similarly, for Nine Inch Nails, the encore isn’t when they play their “biggest hits” or “fan favorites.” NIN takes the word “encore” literally – “another.” They return to the stage for more of what they’ve done – a mind-blowing level of making people lose their shit.
In addition to his integrity and dedication, Reznor exudes gratitude. With everything they do, Nine Inch Nails’ recognition of their fans is expressed. I walk away from each Nine Inch Nails show with an overwhelming feeling that the band truly appreciates each of us; not because Reznor says “thank you” numerous times, but because of the show itself.
Nine Inch Nails kicks off their U.S. tour later this month. See them if you’re able: http://tour.nin.com/
You will see there are several ways you can enterand you can get additional entries for each thing you choose to do. You can follow us, tweet about us, like us on Facebook, and more. ENTER NOW
Winner (1) will be selected by random.org and notified via email on July 18, 2013. Winner will have 24 hours to respond before a new winner is selected
Your tickets will be available for pick up at Will Call at The Greek Theatre on the evening of the show
Transportation and accommodations not included
About The Postal Service:
The Postal Service 2013 anniversary tour is quite possibly the single most hotly anticipated reunion of the year, selling out theaters, clubs, amphitheaters and arenas the world over, including the Greek Theater in Berkeley and New York’s Barclays Center where second dates have been added by popular demand. Other upcoming dates that have completely sold out in advance now include Red Rocks Amphitheater in Denver, London, Manchester, Detroit, Atlanta, Boise, Orlando, Kansas City, Columbus, and more sure to come.
The 10th anniversary dates reunite Postal Service principals Ben Gibbard and Jimmy Tamborello with Jenny Lewis, who appeared on the original 2003 album and tour. Lewis also sings on the two new songs on Give Up (Deluxe 10th Anniversary Edition). Laura Burhenn (Mynabirds, Bright Eyes) rounds out the 2013 touring lineup. Give Up was certified platinum last year just shy of 10 years from its original February 9, 2003 release. Led by the single ”Such Great Heights,” the landmark album is, after Nirvana’s Bleach, the second-biggest selling album in Sub Pop’s 25-year history.
For “official” information about The Greek Theatre, you can check out their website, but here’s my take: The Greek Theatre is one of my all-time favorite music venues. Start to finish, The Greek Theatre is an EXPERIENCE! You can get there early, picnic, and drink wine. If you don’t mind a walk, you can park on Vermont and enjoy the walk to and from the venue. If you’re reading Rock Is A Girl’s Best Friend, chances are you’re not the type to leave the show early, so you can take the easy route and commit to the stacked parking option. The venue is beautiful, outdoors, surrounded by trees. The sound is impeccable. I’ve seen some of my favorite shows at The Greek and I’m very excited to share these opportunities with you.
I didn’t pay to download Cloud Control‘s album, Bliss Release. I received a newsletter from The Bootleg Theater that the band from Australia would be playing there in August, which reminded me I wanted to check them out.
I went to Cloud Control’s website and was pleased to see they have full streams of their songs available so we can listen to them. I listened for about as long as I could stand to be indoors, on the computer, during a beautiful summer day. Then, I reached out to a friend of mine who also writes about music to ask if he had heard of Cloud Control and find out whether he had any of their music.
Within an hour, the album awaited me in the cloud. I imported it into my iTunes, transferred it to my iPod, and took a walk down to the beach. It felt good to be discovering music again and Cloud Control’s upbeat vibe reinforced that feeling.
I was really enjoying the album, so I Tweeted about it to my 32,000+ followers, who share my passion for music.
I also emailed, called, and texted some other friends I thought would appreciate Cloud Control. Then, I sent the band a Tweet, letting them know their album was contributing to the enjoyment of my day.
That began a conversation with the band. Which alerted me that they have at least one person on their team who is adept at building relationships.
That led to a Direct Message from Jeremy, who plays bass and sings in the band. We transitioned from Direct Message to email and now I’m hooked. I like the music, I care about the band personally, I’m going to see their shows, and I will purchase whatever merchandise they have available on the road – vinyl, a hoodie… something that will put more money in the band’s pocket than an album download.
Jeremy took the time to see who I am, what I write about, what part of the world I’m in, before he responded to me. “You’re LA, yeah?” he confirmed, as he invited me to the band’s LA shows. That’s more than 97% of publicists who reach out to me, on behalf of bands that are paying them, do.
He then went on to talk about the evolution of Cloud Control’s music from their previous album to their forthcoming one. “It’ll be interesting to hear your take on it,” he wrote. Well, I haven’t heard it yet, but I’m predisposed to like it simply based on the current experience I’m having with this band and their music.
Jeremy gave me contact info for the label, so that I can request an advance copy of the new album. Dear VOTIV: you’re lucky – you’ve got a smart band that’s really working for it and doesn’t take for granted that anyone else is going to do it for them.
If they’d like the $7.99 for the album I didn’t pay for, I’ll give it to them. I’ll buy a copy and gift it to a friend. Now that they’ve engaged me, artistically, personally, and professionally, I’ll spend money on Cloud Control, no problem. During the course of any given band’s career, I have easily spent upwards of $1,000 on tickets, merchandise, and music. I’ll also make sure everyone I know knows about the band.
It doesn’t happen often, but when I do tap into the cloud for new music, it’s to achieve one of two objectives: to truly listen to – and hopefully discover – new music I enjoy; or to get an album I’d purchase anyway, 8-10 weeks prior to its scheduled release. In the case of music discovery, if I like the music, if I connect with the band, I’ll spend a significant amount of money supporting them, throughout their career.
In the case of early access to music, I’d pay for early access to new music. Which, actually would be real-time access. I’d pay to download a song or an album when it’s complete, but that’s not how it typically works. Instead, an album is completed and sits on desks, shelves, hard drives, and inboxes, while all the teams coordinate and execute some semblance of a “launch plan”.
This year, among others, I had the new albums from The National, Sigur Ros, and Atoms For Peace, well in advance of their advance release. I listened to them in the car, during my morning runs, while working, and falling asleep. I spent a lot of time with the albums and recommended people purchase them when they were released. I’ve since bought tickets to see each of those bands two or more times during their tours this year.
Why should we have to wait for music while the label gets their marketing plan together? Marketing is nothing without engagement. You should have been talking to us all along. That’s what Cloud Control is doing. They’re doing whatever it takes, and as much as they’re able.
If you’re putting out quality music, something people can truly connect with, file sharing could be your greatest asset. Your “marketing team” is then comprised of your fans and they know how to promote your music and your shows better than anyone.
If, on the other hand, you’re afraid once people hear the music, they wouldn’t find it worth $7.99 or $9.99, then you have a bigger problem – you don’t have a product nor experience you can stand behind. That is what you should be worried about.
Cloud Control: I wish you all the best. I’ve been listening to the album a lot (my neighbors can attest to that) and enjoying it. Thank you for making your art and yourselves accessible. I can’t wait to see you play in August and look forward to the new album. If there’s anything else I can do, let me know.
Listen to “Ghost Story” from Cloud Control’s album Bliss Release:
Their new album will be out September 17 in the U.S.