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Stefon Mears
Writer, gamer, capoeirista, pagan, the list goes on and on.
Writer, gamer, capoeirista, pagan, the list goes on and on.

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The May Patreon stories are up!

This month we have "Stone Dead" -- an exciting modern crime story -- and "Forty Years Among the Elves" -- a contemporary fantasy twist off of a traditional look at partying with the fae.

(And if you'd like to read them, you can sign up at
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Since I only mentioned this in someone else's thread -- I freaking loved Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume II. Start to finish. Tempted to go see it again.

The Giants are losing to the Dodgers pretty badly right now. But Giants' announcer Duane Kuiper continues to entertain. Actual quote: "You don't want to get in the way of a flying pig."

So, I thought I’d do a follow-up to that concert post, and talk about each of those bands for a moment, and a few of the live shows I’ve been to.

1. Metallica

I wasn’t really into Metallica until I saw them live for the first time. I’d heard their music from time to time, but I wasn’t sure it was for me.

Then I saw them at Shoreline on the Justice tour.

I don’t even remember who the opener was. They didn’t matter. Metallica was amazing. These were in the days before Hetfield started interrupting verses with his weird hey-hey-hey call-and-response thing. Before they started simplifying their music and trying, in my opinion, to become a different band.

Their music was like a wild beast constrained only by the complexity of their time signatures and rhythm figures. They played a long set, from all across their albums (including what were, at the time, more obscure tracks like “Breadfan” and their cover of “Last Caress”).

I was converted. I quickly had their first four albums on rotation on my CD player.

I saw them again a couple of years later when they toured with GNR. That show was like a parody of the Metallica I’d seen before. Major disappointment, and when added to the eponymous album I didn’t like, I was done with them.

In fact, that show was such a disappointment, that even though I like their new album, I don’t know that I’d risk a live show again.

2. Pentatonix

There was a brief competition show called The Sing Off featuring a capella groups. +Melissa Mears and I watched it, and discovered this amazing band. Melissa started following them. Started buying their albums (which I too enjoy).

When we heard they were coming to Portland last year, I had to make sure we got tickets. I wanted to see them, but it was imperative to me that Melissa get to see them.

So worth it. Two highlights you might not expect. The guy who handles most of their beatboxing is a classical cellist. And he played his cello while beatboxing and it was unbelievable. I don’t even want to describe it. Go look for it on YouTube. You’ll be glad you did, but it won’t be the same as seeing it live.

The other unexpected highlight – they ended with an unamplified song. Now, this was at the Moda Center, not an outdoor venue, but they were loud, clear and beautiful across a hall that stayed dead silent to listen. Made the experience more intimate.

3. Iron Maiden

I’d been a Maiden fan for a couple of years already when I finally got to see them. It was at the Cow Palace, on the No Prayer for the Dying tour.

I’m not really sure what to say about this one. I’d been looking forward to seeing them live for long enough that I know I’d built them up in my head. I’d even seen the video of their Seventh Son of a Seventh Son tour, so my expectations were pretty high.

And I left a very happy man.

I tuned out on the band after Dickinson left, so I missed plenty of opportunities to see them again. But if I got the chance, I would.

4. The Cramps

Back when I was in Rocky Horror, I knew a guy who had musical tastes completely unlike my rap and metal background. He was big on punk and some of the stranger avenues of alternative music. He and I exchanged a few tapes to see if either of us could find something the other liked.

I don’t think he liked anything I gave him. I liked almost nothing he gave me.

Almost. Because he included a track from the Cramps.

He liked it because it was weird (my opinion, not his statement. He was … very image conscious, shall we say). I liked it because…


I couldn’t explain it. It wasn’t like anything else I listened to. It was like songs from the Fifties and Sixties ripped bleeding through b-grade SF and monster movies, as sung by a man frantically convinced about what he was singing.

I was hooked. Still am.

I jumped at the chance to see them live for the first time, at … I forget what that club was called at the time. One Step Beyond maybe. The place has had too many names.

The opening act was just about the weirdest thing I’d ever seen. They were called Doo-Rag. It was like some tin-eared guy with a vague sense of melody tried to make up for what he didn’t know about zydeco through sheer determination.

I wasn’t a fan.

Then the Cramps hit the stage and everything in the world was right. The Cramps, live, were an experience. They must have played their songs thousands of times through the years, but they still gave their all with every show.

I saw them every chance I could. Four times at least. Discovered a couple of amazing surf bands opening for them in Portland (The Bomboras and Satan’s Pilgrims).

5. Danzig

Danzig was a great fit for me, musically, starting with their first album. The brilliant guitar work of John Christ. The songwriting and vocals of Glenn Danzig (whose work I’d loved from the Misfits on). I lost interest with Blackaciddevil when the band when in a different direction musically.

Over the course of those first four albums, though, I saw them four times. Very good live band. Sometimes made the crowd wait a little too long, in my opinion, but once they hit the stage they were consistently good.

And sometimes they had really good opening acts…

6. Soundgarden

Soundgarden’s first album was new when they toured as Danzig’s opener. I had no idea who they were when they hit the stage at the Warfield in SF.

They rocked the joint. They were so good I wondered if Danzig would regret letting them open (no, Danzig reminded us all why they were the headliners).

I went out and bought Badmotorfinger the next day. They never became one of my favorites, but that was a great show, and I still dig that album.

7. Type O Negative

I discovered Type O Negative with their single “Black No.1”. Great music with an occasional side of wry humor and a singer who sang in my natural range? Sign me up. I have all their stuff.

I also, alas, never got to see them live. I wish I had.

8. Faster Pussycat

I developed an interest in Faster Pussycat because their single “Bathroom Wall” was pretty good, and had a vibe that said they didn’t take themselves too seriously. I picked up their album, and it bore that view out.

Then they released their second album and it had a bunch of songs I liked, and I made sure I got to see them on tour. It was at a club in San Jose (the Cactus Club, I think). I didn’t have high expectations, though, because some of the vocal lines in their songs were pretty demanding and I doubted the singer could pull them off live.

Boy, was I wrong. They were tight, crisp, and professional, and Taime Downe, the singer, was amazing.

9. Guns N Roses

I was going to see Aerosmith at Shoreline on the Permanent Vacation tour, and the opening act was some new act I hadn’t heard of.

That was my introduction to Guns N Roses. The Appetite for Destruction lineup was still together (complete with Steven Adler on drums), and holy crap they were good. Metallica might have been the first band to win me over with a live show, but GNR was the second.

I saw them again a couple of years later on the Use Your Illusion tour. Same venue.

And I have to be honest – same quality. They gave great live performances, both those times. I’d heard people say they sucked live, but I never saw that. I only saw a solid live band.

That is, until I saw that double-bill with Metallica in Oakland. GNR that night, well, they were better than Metallica. That’s all I could say for them. Didn’t want to see them again.

I got to see two terrific GNR live shows. I’m more than happy with that.

10. Nine Inch Nails

I completely lucked into seeing NIN that first time. It was after Broken, but before The Downward Spiral. NIN was doing a series of unannounced club gigs to tune up for their coming tour.

My roommate called me at work to say she’d just heard that it was happening and was going to get tickets and did I want to go?

Hell yes, I wanted to go.

So I got to see NIN for the first time at that same little club in Palo Alto.

Amazing show.

If you like baseball and dark comedy, you need to watch Brockmire. Freaking brilliant. Some lines make me pause until I can stop laughing...

Tonight I had a great moment in Giants fandom.

The Giants were down 3-2 when Mike Morse came to the plate.

What another person might have seen: a journeyman outfielder who was out of baseball last year and had to take a minor league contract just to have a prayer of seeing a Major League dugout again.

What I saw: one of the big heroes of the 2014 World Series run. Back in a Giants uniform.

I literally jumped off the couch. “The Moose is back?” (Note: I don’t think anyone but me ever called him that.) “Come on, Moose! Take him deep.” And the like.

Yeah, I knew this was his first at bat against live Major League pitching in about two years, but I didn’t care. I always love drama in sports, and there was nothing more dramatic Morse could have done than hit a home run in his first at-back back in the Orange and Black. To tie the game yet. I wanted that to happen, for him as much as for me.

And he did it. Crushed the ball into the left field bleachers. No doubt from the crack of the bat.

It came with two strikes. It came after he looked like he couldn’t catch up the pitcher’s fastball. But he got the right pitch and he did not miss it.

Moments like that are part of the reason I love sports.

(The Giants went on to win in the 10th, thanks in no small part to one hell of an at-bat from Hunter Pence.)

All right. This concert thing going around amuses me, so I might as well post my own. These are nine bands I have seen live, and one I haven’t. If you care to guess, which one have I not seen?

(Note: I’m excluding Blue Öyster Cult, because it’s too obvious. Of course I've seen them.)

1. Metallica
2. Pentatonix
3. Iron Maiden
4. The Cramps
5. Danzig
6. Soundgarden
7. Type O Negative
8. Faster Pussycat
9. Guns N Roses
10. Nine Inch Nails

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On another topic, if you like Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser stories as much as I do, you might want to check this out. They're in their last 24 hours.

Well, if I have to watch the Blazers lose like that, at least I can take comfort in this: the Giants beat the Dodgers.

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The April Patreon stories are up!

This month sees a lone engineer trying save a dead ship at space in "Crawlspace" and a man who follows a success seminar slogan into a battle for his life in "Face Your Fears!".
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