Saturday, October 20, 2007

UC Berkely 21; UCLA 29

Thought I'd get some thoughts down on this one before I get too drunk to remember what happened:
  • UCLA won this game despite both the coaching staff and the officiating. Every decision Karl Dorrell makes is the wrong decision. He's simply in over his head as a game coach. How on earth do you burn a timeout to set up a fourth and one play, then run the crappy "try to draw them off" BS that they ended up running? The man is not a good head coach, and he should have been fired right after that play.
  • The officials were awful. First they needed 10 minutes to review a play that never should have been reviewed in the first place. They called UCLA for an offensive pass interference call that even the guys in the truck couldn't find on a replay. They handed Berkeley a touchdown on a play where Desean Jackson never actually caught the ball. And somehow six referees didn't see a trip in full speed that a million viewers did. It was the most obvious trip call I've ever seen. It cost UCLA a first down, possibly a touchdown, and almost the game.
  • The run defense was awesome. They dominated Justin Forsett for the majority of the game, and Berkeley really only ran the ball well out of the shutgun. The run defense was one of the major difference makers today.
  • There's something about Pat Cowan that just makes the team play better. I can't explain it. Apparently it doesn't come through in practice. It may have nothing to do with his physical ability, but there's something about the way the team plays when he's in the game that works better than when Ben Olson is in the game. I really like Ben Olson, and I was jazzed when he committed to UCLA, but the team simply moves the ball better with Cowan. And it's probably just coincidence, but the defense seems to have played better when Cowan's been in there as well.
  • Berkeley is a very good team, but they run a pro-style offense, which the Bruins can handle. It's the tricky stuff that gets them, and today, the defense won the game. Although the turnover battle was relatively even, Berkeley's were bigger, and obviously the ATV interception return at the end was the difference. The Horton pick was nice, but unnecessary.
  • I don't have the numbers in front of me, but it seems that one big difference today from what we've seen lately were negative plays, or a lack thereof. Cowan excelled today in two key areas: he didn't turn the ball over with ill-advised throws, or tipped passes that become picks, and at worst, he got the ball back to the line of scrimmage. It's a little thing, often overlooked, but there's a big difference between 2nd and 10 and 2nd and 15, especially with their limitations when it comes to gaining yards in chunks. Cowan gets the ball back the line of scrimmage, and that makes a big difference.
  • Like or not, the Bruins are 4-0 in conference, though they close with their three toughest games. I'd love for them to win the Pac 10 and go to the Rose Bowl, but it probably means Dorrell will come back. I'm not sure how I feel about that. I mean, I want him gone, but I can't root for the Bruins to lose. Maybe they'll face the Illini, who will then kill UCLA and get Dorrell fired. That may be the best possible end to the season. I could live with that.

The Raveonettes: A Quick Recap

  1. First time I've been to the Empty Bottle. Strange little configuration, but really intimate, and the sound was very good. Parking wasn't too bad either, and the beer was relatively cheap.
  2. Two opening acts. The first, Gliss, was kind of SoCal psychedelic rock, sort of droning at times. Power trio, in which pretty much all three members played every instrument at one point, though I don't think the girl ever played guitar. They played for about 45-50 minutes, which was about 10-15 minutes too long in my opinion.
  3. Nicole Atkins & the Sea followed, and she's really hot. She's also got an excellent voice, bordering on classical trying to sing pop, but she makes it work really well. Her set was shorter, and apparently cut off by about 5-10 minutes as the hour was running late. It was almost midnight by the time she finished. I'm definitely going to check out her stuff, though. New album next week, and she'll be on Letterman. Her somewhat Rat-Pack era crooning complemented the Raveonettes' style really well. Also, I didn't take this picture.
  4. You pretty much know what you're going to get with the Raveonettes. The songs are rarely going to last more than three minutes. You're going to get 50s-60s surf rock/motown style melodies. You're going to get two part harmonies sung by Sune Rose Wagner and the lovely Sharin Foo. And you're going to leave the place absolutely dripping in feedback. It's not a particularly difficult formula. Everything you hear will sound like something you've heard before, perhaps even earlier that night. But there is something to be said for knowing your gameplan and sticking to it. They do what they do incredibly well, and they pack a ton of energy into an hour and twenty minutes.
  5. When I first saw them a few years ago, they had a full band. They also demolished my earlier skepticism with an amazing set that's still one of the highlights of all of the live shows I've been to over the last few years. Tonight they had only the two aforementioned members, plus a drummer, whose name I can't locate anywhere, who stood behind only a tom and snare like the drummer in those old Jesus and Mary Chain videos (not sure if that was Bobby Gillespie or not). She also programmed the machine that piped in the bass, as there was no bass player. Economical lineup for a tour undertaken to preview the new material. Hopefully they'll have the full crew again when the support the new album, do sometime in the next couple months.
  6. The incomplete and out of order setlist is really incomplete and out of order this time, since I don't know much of the new stuff, and I'm writing this the next day. The memories fade. Here it is:
    1. Remember
    2. That Great Love Sound
    3. Noisy Summer (really great live)
    4. Let's Rave On
    5. Chain Gang of Love
    6. Attack of the Ghost Riders
    7. Do You Believe Her
    8. My Tornado (I think)
    9. Black Satin
    10. Blush
    11. Lust
    12. Love in a Trashcan
    13. Red Tan
    14. Here Comes Mary

They played a couple more than that, but I can't remember which ones. Disappointed they didn't play either Twilight or You Say You Lie, which were really off the charts the last time I saw them play. They also didn't play Heartbreak Stroll, which I like a lot.

As it turned out, they went on late enough that I probably could have caught New Pornographers again at the Metro, and made it over to the Empty Bottle in time for the Raveonettes' set and still found a good spot to stand, but such is life, I guess. Also, Nicole Atkins was a bit of a revelation, so that's a silver lining. Looking forward to the new material.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

New Pornographers: A Quick Recap

This is for the Thursday, 10/18 show at the Metro. Due to my inability to read a calendar, I also have a ticket for tomorrow night's show (10/19), but I won't be going due to the Raveonettes being in town. Anyway:
  • The most awesomest part of the evening was seeing the lineup take the stage. I wasn't even sure if Neko Case would be on the tour. She usually is when they play their main Chicago show, but she's got her own deal, and Kathryn Calder can pick up the slack, as she did at Pitchfork. But Neko played, and that wasn't even the best part. The band was in Full Bejar tonight. Wasn't sure I'd ever see another set with him, but apparently he's on this tour. Dan Bejar is pretty freaking awesome, though I don't think he was too jazzed about the Metro being smoke free.
  • Honestly, I've heard them play a little tighter. After the first Bejar song (Myriad Harbor, I think, but that could be wrong), Carl Newman's vocals sounded a little off for some reason, probably mic related. Also, he forgot the words to part of song early in the set. Can't remember which one (it's not like I take notes or anything). Still, they know how to entertain. So even at less than their best, they're still fantastic.
  • Speaking of Kathryn Calder, she really provides a nice visual distraction. Not that Neko is anything to sneeze at, but Kathryn Calder is really enjoyable to look at. I was about 10 feet from the stage, more or less in the middle of the room, and by the time NP went on, I had maneuvered into an area where I could see the whole stage, except for maybe Todd Fancey.
  • I'm not really one for a lot of audience participation. I like to move around a bit and enjoy the beat, and sometimes I'll sing along quietly to myself, but I don't usually go in for stuff like handclapping and whatnot. But I've go to admit, I clapped along to Spirit of Giving in the "Cloud prayer Mary, come on" part. I just got caught up in the total Bejarness of the evening.
  • Emma Pollock was really good, and I'll probably be downloading or buying her debut CD at some point. I never really listened to the Delgados, but I like her solo stuff a lot. And she's got a bitchin Scottish accent.
  • Here's the incomplete and out of order setlist. They opened with "All things...." and the last three songs in the setlist are in order. That was the encore:
  1. All the Things That Go to Make Heaven and Earth
  2. Mass Romantic
  3. Electric Version
  4. The Laws Have Changed
  5. Testament to Youth in Verse
  6. Twin Cinema
  7. Use It
  8. Bleeding Heart Show
  9. Jackie Dressed in Cobras
  10. Sing Me Spanish Techno
  11. My Rights Vs. Yours
  12. All the Old Showstoppers
  13. Challengers
  14. Myriad Harbor
  15. Go Places
  16. Adventures in Solitude
  17. Spirit of Giving
  18. Execution Day
  19. From Blown Speakers
  20. My Slow Descent into Alcholism
Personal disappointments include failures to play Graceland, Ballad of A Comeback Kid, and everyone always wants to hear Letter From an Occupant. Also, any additional Bejar would have been appreciated. Oh, and Mutiny I Promised You. But it's tough to complain about an hour and half set, and 20 songs. They always give everyone their money's worth.