AJR @ Oakdale

Saturday night I made my return to Oakdale to see AJR.  This concert also was requiring vaccination cards or a negative covid test.  I arrived about 45 minutes before doors to about 15 people in line – and half the floor was a GA pit. I will say that the crowd for the most part was SUPER nice to me – they let me cut in to get inside faster and also saved the larger bathroom stall for me to use and the guy sitting behind me asked if I needed help standing up to be able to see better once AJR took the stage.

But there was also what seemed to be a dude who had never ever been to a concert before.  My row was the front row behind the pit and there was a barricade that blocked off the back of the pit.  If you were seated, the barricade top was over most of the performers heads (at least for me when I was sitting, but I am short)  When the openers came on, I opted to not stand as I could see them through the barricade, but knew by the time AJR came on stage the pit would be filled in a lot more and I wouldn’t be able to see at all.  Well a guy in my row decided he wanted to stand to see the openers.  I had no problem with it and I would have had no problem with it if he was in front of me, either.  Well, the guy that was a couple rows behind him decided he did have a problem with it and started yelling that they bought seats for a reason and he should sit down. HA HA HA.  I figured it would end there, but nope. F-bombs started flying and security ended up taking the guy who was standing somewhere else so I was getting a bit nervous knowing I’d have to stand or at the very least lean/sit on the upturned chair once AJR took the stage.  Fortunately, everyone stood – about 10 minutes early even – for AJR and there were no other altercations.  But very, very rarely do I ever go to a concert where everyone sits.  That’s not how seats at concerts work lol

The opening acts were Daisy the Great and The Aces.  I had seen The Aces once before I think, but Daisy the Great was new for me.  Not sure I’ll be seeking them out in the future though.

Then it was time for AJR.  I wasn’t totally familiar with all their songs, but they did a lot of cool interactions with the screen in the back – like Jack walking in place and the background moving to make it look like he was walking through different places.  At one point he went behind the screen and came out with a giant head!  The show was a lot of fun and I managed to stand for the whole thing (and had an excited moment when the screen flashed INTERMISSION thinking I could sit down for a couple minutes – only for it to flash right after Just Kidding! No on wants that!  I did! lol).  At one point, Jack was talking about how they haven’t played shows in 2 years and for many of us, it probably was our first show in 2 years too and how it was unique for the band and audience to be going through something so similar together.  For me… it had been about 6 days since my last show? But the crowd did seem like it was their first show EVER for a lot of them. At the end of the show, Jack threw his hat into the crowd and someone about 2 rows in front of me got it.  No one was next to me so if he gave it a little bit more air I probably could have had it, but seeing how there was an attack in the pit for it, I’m happy with how it landed.  Looking forward to seeing them again, just hoping they may tone down on the flashing lights a bit.

AJR Setlist Toyota Presents the Oakdale Theatre, Wallingford, CT, USA 2021, OK Orchestra Tour

Alice Cooper @ Hartford Healthcare Amphitheater

Sunday night I made my first trip to the Hartford Healthcare Amphitheater in Bridgeport. It’s a brand new venue and I wasn’t sure what to make of it.  What I had remembered from going there as a kid when it was a baseball stadium is there were a LOT of stairs.  That memory turned out to be accurate as I had to go up a decent sized flight to get to my seats and then down a few as well.  The entire floor is level, so if I go there again, these stairs are something I’ll have to get used to as the 200s sections are probably going to be my go-to spot.

You probably wouldn’t expect me to go see Ace Frehley and Alice Cooper and well, I wouldn’t have really expected it of me either! But a good friend is on the tour w/Ace so I had to go check things out when he told me that I wouldn’t be totally out of place and should go! I ended up getting a front row seat of one of the 200 sections and it was pretty perfect.  It was raised up enough that I didn’t have to stand because no one on the floor was bigger than me due to how it was situated and it still had a really nice view of the stage.  The guy next to me came down and was like “THESE ARE GREAT SEATS! WE DON’T EVEN HAVE TO STAND!” and while he majority of the floor stood the whole time it seemed like most of the upper levels didn’t.  I thought the sound system wasn’t all that great though and a friend that also ended up at the show agreed.  Otherwise it’s really close to home and a nice mid-sized summer venue. (But how long until it ends up getting no shows just like the Webster Bank Arena next door?)

Ace played for about an hour and I really only knew one of the songs that he did and only because it’s one the Mets play after they win! (My friend on the tour is a Yankees fan and I believe helped put the setlist together so I texted him to thank him for including it because it had been a while since I had heard it :P)

Then it was time for Alice Cooper.  I really didn’t know what to expect. But I wasn’t expecting so many creepy puppet dolls lol The set was a castle and there was a bit of a story line going on throughout the show and it had been a long time since I had seen a stage show like that.  His band was awesome and he played for maybe an hour and a half.  In the end, I knew 3 of the songs – his bigger singles that my Dad used to play when I was growing up. But I don’t think that not knowing the songs lessened the experience any and I really had a lot of fun!

I am not sure I’ll head back to this venue without a friend to help me out if needed with all the stairs, but I’m hoping next summer they’ll pull some acts that would otherwise have me driving all the way up to the casino. *fingers crossed* (And hopefully they figure out how to enhance the audio system)

David Cook @ Infinity Hall

Saturday night, after several reschedules, David Cook finally made his way back to Infinity Hall in Norfolk, CT.  I had to show proof of vaccination once again upon entry and masks were required for the whole show.  This isn’t a problem for me as I would have worn mine either way, but it’s really frustrating to hear everyone bitching and moaning about wearing their mask all night as if the rest of us think it is a party.  (I don’t like wearing it, but I do what I think I need to do to try and keep myself and others safe, especially if it is required.)

Opening the show was Carrie Welling and I loved all of her songs especially the one about red flags (it hit home) and I don’t think I’ve ever seen an opener before where I felt like she was singing songs I could have written, if writing songs was a talent that I possessed.

Then it was time for David! I *think* the last time I saw him was an acoustic show, but the “before times” are beginning to be a bit of a blur.  Either way, it was nice to see him backed by a full band!  Everyone’s Saturday night needs a genuine rock show.  There was a LOT of banter during the show, which I always love and while he kept saying he wasn’t a comedian, he can certainly tell his stories in a way that makes us laugh!

I also liked how candidly he talked about getting help for his anxiety and going to therapy and how he kept it to himself for several years but ended up writing a song about it and is now much more open about it.  As someone who also (somewhat) recently started struggling with anxiety, it’s always nice to know you are not alone and what methods may have worked for others. Calm Strips became popular for those with anxiety after the founders appeared on Shark Tank.

I also liked how he told stories about how/why/when the songs were written. That’s always very interesting to me.  His set was full of my favorites as well as some newer songs off of his new EP, The Looking Glass, including his latest single FIRE which had a really fun audience participation piece that he kept until the end of the set.  While Infinity Hall can be a bit of a haul to get to, it’s a great little venue and always a fun time.

David Cook Setlist Infinity Hall, Norfolk, CT, USA 2021, The Looking Glass Tour

Ben Folds @ Ridgefield Playhouse

Back in early 2020 Ben Folds had announced an orchestra tour.  I thought that would be absolutely SO COOL to see – but his show in Connecticut was billed as “solo piano”.  In March 2020, the show ended up  getting postponed.  Wednesday night, we finally got to see the show, now part of the “In Actual Person Live for Real” tour.  In order to be allowed into the venue, you had to be vaccinated and show proof with your ID as well as pass a temperature screening.  There was no option for testing instead of being vaccinated.  Masks were required at all times inside. After Ben’s first song, he stopped to tell us that he appreciated us all being vaccinated and masked and trying to keep each other safe.  He also mentioned that he was going to try to have us not sing and instead hum – except for him – because do as he says and not as he does. He didn’t know if it would work, but he was hoping that it wouldn’t lead to one of us going home and getting someone else sick from being there with him.  He also said that if the person next to you was singing, don’t punch them in the nose.  The humming was kind of funny and a lot of times it ended with everyone giggling – during “You Don’t Know Me” he told us just to think The Muppets Show and we’d be ok with it, which just led to more giggling.  When someone shouted out a song request after he had already started playing a song, he said that requests such as that should start with “Fuck that! Play ___”  During Rock This Bitch he sang about his day and how he woke up in Connecticut and was looking for somewhere for breakfast that was unpopular and had outside seating and that we were in Ridgefield where the houses are old and big. “We’re fucked, that’s what the old pianist said, we’re rocking this bitch with masks, that’s fine.”   Another request was yelled out, “Give me back my black t-shirt!” and he said it reminded him of a joke where someone was requesting “That’s What You Are” but the pianist didn’t know the song and asked the guy to sing a few bars and he sang “Unforgettable… that’s what you are.”  The song is called “Song for the Dumped” and “And don’t forget to give me back my black t-shirt” is one of the lyrics within it.   The show was highly entertaining and it was nice to have a normal-ish heart rate during a show for once with the feeling that things were hopefully a bit safer with the precautions in place.  When I got home, I remembered he was going to be playing in New Haven as well later this month.  That venue is MUCH closer to my house so I thought maybe I’d like to go see him again – only to find out that the show had been postponed until August 28, 2022 earlier in the day! I don’t want to commit to anything that far out, but we’ll see if I end up there.  I’m still holding out hope for getting to see him with an orchestra too, though.

Tulsa September

Initially I wasn’t intending on going to Tulsa for the September shows, in addition to holiday weekend flight prices being ridiculous I was trying to tell myself that 4 out of the 8 shows was enough.  Well, after the August shows, even with Tulsa holding me hostage for another day, when I got home I decided to book for September. (And now am kind of kicking myself for not trying for July as well – although those flights were ridiculously priced or else I probably would have caved.)

The night before I was supposed to take off, the remains of Tropical Storm Ida came to my area and gave us a month’s worth of rain in one night.  There was massive amounts of flooding and I wasn’t even sure I’d make it to the airport, but fortunately I did.  My flight out was at 8am and I saw that the 6am flight still had not left yet (despite it being almost 7) It turned out 4 days ago their plane had hit a bird and whatever fix they had done got undone in the trip to Hartford so they were delayed while it could be fixed again.  They did not end up leaving until 9:30am and I was very glad for once I didn’t opt for the super early flight.  I had 2 little kids in front of me during the first flight that were making up songs about the trip with lyrics such as “we are riding on a plane plane plane and it will be fun!”  And I think they did have fun – until their ears started popping.  There was also a lot of other layover drama with a woman who didn’t know how to order Five Guys and didn’t order fries (but a stranger gave her hers, which was sweet but… covid?), a guy whose mother passed away getting in a “YOU WERE MEAN TO MEEEE” argument with a gate agent, a family missing their flight by mere minutes and then more littles in front of me on flight #2. (So sleeping did not really happen.)

Thursday night I was hoping to go see the Tulsa Drillers baseball game since I was in town, but it was supposed to be mid-90’s at game time and that didn’t seem like a fun way to spend my evening. (They lost, 10-1) so I ended up ordering some BBQ and hanging out in the room watching Big Brother and Netflix.

Between the excessive amounts of trips to Tulsa and the heat, Friday my only time leaving the room was to go to Antoinette’s bakery for a sack of treats.  Friday night’s show was Shout It Out and it was a pretty decent set (until it wasn’t?)  I got to hear 2 songs for the first time – Hard to Handle and the new single, Stronger, which I opted to not listen to until hearing it live.  I ended up regretting that decision slightly because it was hard to really hear/understand the lyrics and I think that it would have been better if I listened to it just once before the show.  Personally, I would have rathered skipping out Where’s the Love and Man From Milwaukee for something else a bit rarer, but it’s not my job to put the setlists together. (Yet?)  But overall it was a solid show and I had just thought to myself that morning they hadn’t played “I Was Born” in what seemed like a while so I was happy it made it into the set. They did skip 1 song from Shout It Out – Zac’s “Use Me Up”.

Saturday afternoon we decided to check out Nothing’s Left, a brewery that has beer slushies.  I tried a Cotton Candy Chaos IPA which was too bitter for my liking and Deez Nuts Stout which was peanut butter / chocolate and soooo good. I also tried the dole whip soft serve – totally worth the trip right there – but the Strawberry Pina Colada slush I didn’t particularly like as it tasted “too beer-y”.

Night 2 was the Anthem show.  I was really looking forward to hearing Lost Without You as full band and not a Taylor solo, and I was able to get my wish. This set didn’t have anything I hadn’t heard before, but I was able to go into hearing Stronger again with having watched the video and heard the studio version and was able to appreciate it more.  Before Isaac’s solo, he talked a bit about how he is fans of his brothers.

“So Zac said, oh, you can’t stop us is a hard one to follow. I will go with that’s harder to follow [Zac’s solo]. So I’m going to say something that is, well, I’m going to say what I was thinking. So, one of the coolest things about being in this band is being able to be a fan of the people you are on stage with. I am a big fan of songs that Taylor brings to the table and helps us be a part of in some way or another. Sometimes it’s just little things and sometimes it’s lots of things. But it’s really fun. The same for Zac. When he sits down and goes, here’s this idea and it just wrecks me and I go, well that lyric is brutal and beautiful and important and I love it. So I feel lucky to be in a band with guys that I can be big fans of. So hopefully they feel the same way. No pressure. haha”

I would have liked if they stuck to the setlist and did Tonight as the encore, but it is what it is.  (Friday night I watched them change the setlist out on stage 2 times, so there were 3 versions, it seems like they weren’t really able to make up their minds on what to play and I’m very curious to know what else might have been swapped out!) I also didn’t even realize they had completely skipped Tragic Symphony and Annalie until some fans were talking about it after the show!

After the show we waited for the guys to come out and my friend had gotten me a setlist so I was able to get that signed.  It was very, very pushy and I didn’t feel stable enough to try and get any photos with the guys this time.

Sunday I had a 3 hour layover in Atlanta and when I got through TSA in Tulsa they pulled my backpack, apparently the croissant from the bakery I hadn’t yet eaten and decided to bring home with me was suspicious. After landing in ATL I needed to get to A18, by the time I reached A18 it got changed to A33 which was nearly the last one in the hallway… and then found out nope, I actually needed to be at B7.  Good thing I had such a long layover!  Things were much calmer on the way home as well and I made it back to my house by 9:30pm instead of my usual 1am.

I have a lot more concerts coming up this month and then another trip to Tulsa at the end of the month… I’m going to be exhausted…  I don’t know how I used to do this constantly!

Alanis Morrisette

Saturday night I did my first big amphitheater concert. It had been 1469 days since I had last been at Xfinity Theater in Hartford.  Of course, every weekend before they posted all their policies and set times for that weekend but were radio silent for this one.  I got to the parking lot early to snag a handicapped spot. There wasn’t that big of a line to go in but heads up – they have instituted a clear bag or small clutch policy to make security quicker and so they can avoid touching all your stuff.

The show started at 7 with Cat Power. She never said her name throughout her whole set that I heard and was pretty mellow.  Not many people were in their seats. She dedicated a Rolling Stones song to Charlie Watts who has recently passed. I liked her rendition.

After Cat, it was time for Garbage. I guess being a 90s music kid meant I knew way more songs than I was expecting to going into the show. Their set was really great and Shirley was sure to thank us all for being there plenty of times – even if she did also say we were all weirdos 😉

After Garbage, (it’s funny to say “the opening act was Garbage” but that capital G makes all the difference) it was time for Alanis.   There was an intro video spanning her career and I was even surprised to see Justin Timberlake included. The tour was a Jagged Little Pill 25th Anniversary tour. (Well, now, 26th, thanks Covid)  That CD was one of my very first when I got my first walkman in 6th grade.  If I am remembering the tracklist accurately, she played everything from the CD including the hidden track – which was done as part of the encore with a bit of a genre mix up for each verse that was a lot of fun.
I’ve seen complaints that the set “had no flow” and she just wandered around the stage and lip synched.  I do not believe she lip synched because when she was wandering around the stage you certainly could tell she was with how she was singing.  She did stay centered at a mic for some of the show as well as played a harmonica and a really shiny guitar.
My favorite was when she updated “Ironic” for more modern times.  While she had the crowd sing most of it (and the crowd was LOUD! For both Garbage and Alanis) she took the mic back for “It’s like meeting the man of my dreams and then meeting his … beautiful husband” and the crowd went wild.
Alanis Morissette Setlist XFINITY Theatre, Hartford, CT, USA 2021, Jagged Little Pill 25th Anniversary Tour

Since I was under the pavilion for the show, I am not sure at what point it started to rain, but there was a slight drizzle as I walked back to my car and then it completely started to downpour about 5 seconds after I got in my car.  But that didn’t stop a small crowd of people surrounding a guy who had set up a drumset outside the venue and was playing 90s hits.  Mostly Alanis but when I went by it was Natalie Imbruglia’s Torn and well… if you know, you know.
I had been waiting a long time to see Alanis and she did not disappoint!
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