The Cars in Concert

Groucho and Margaret take off to Chicago to see one of his all-time favorite bands! If CHUD cant give you timely death metal commentary, then you will be subjected to this! Beware, he has a review of the new’ish Duran Duran album sitting around somewhere!

From May 2011

I wont drag the back-story out… I have been a monster Cars fan for years. When I was a kid… I bought every LP (Thats vinyl for you young kids) and put them in special frames to decorate my bedroom with. I bought all the albums on LP, Cassette and ultimately CD. They now all reside on my iPod!

The last time the WHOLE band toured was the late 80’s! 1980’s (Again for the younger readers). A time when I had limited resources to get to Chicago to see a show. In 2000, Ben Orr, the other lead singer of the band died of cancer; that was a huge setback. Recently, a few of the band members put on a tour with Todd Rundgren calling themselves the New Cars. The key player missing for all the recent action was Ric Ocasek. He had made it pretty clear that he had no interest in “doing” The Cars anymore. So, it was pretty well set in my head that one of my dreams to see The Cars in concert would probably never happen.

So, imagine my surprise when I read that the band had been working on a new album and were gearing up for a tour. I first imagined it was a band without Ocasek… Or, some kind of new lead singer to take the place of Orr. I was wrong on both thoughts… Thankfully!

From May 2011

The band is back with all the players less Ben Orr.

  • Ric Ocasek: Lead Singer, Rhythm Guitar
  • Elliot Easton: Lead Guitarist and Hook Master!
  • Greg Hawkes: Keyboardist Extraordinaire (and bass guitar imitator)
  • David Robinson: Drums

When you see this crew on paper… Its hard to imagine how this show is going to go. I had read some reviews online that they stumbled through a few tunes on early shows. I had also heard that Hawkes and Easton have shared duties singing the Ben Orr songs. This knowledge was all kicking around in my head before the show started. Adding a bit of fear to my dream night!

It was The Cars only, no opening band. Show was set to start at 8PM… The crowd of a few thousand old folks like me waited patiently till 8:15 for the band to take the stage.

IT WAS A ROUGH START! Listen, Ric Ocasek has more musical talent in his fingernail than I have ever possessed in this body over a lifetime, so its hard for me to criticize ANYTHING about a performance by my idols! The first song, “Goodtimes Roll” started off shaky. Ric sounded “off”, Hawkes was over-amped and the backup chorus was not there. I was scared!

Thankfully, that was all it was. A rough start. The next tune was off the new album, they hopped right in and jammed on “Blue Tip”. After that, it seemed like everybody clicked together.

Greg Hawkes showed me a whole other side that I had never seen before. He was energetic and personable behind the keyboards. He seemed to be the character behind the band. I also noticed that Hawkes must have been running the bass lines that were missing from the vacancy of Orr. David Robinson played REAL drums for the most part… I just assumed that he would be all tricked out with an electronic drum kit… All triggered and computerized. Not so. He sounded and looked great. Lastly, Elliott Easton. I had watched him on a few videos with The New Cars and totally expected him to rock. He did. That dude knows every guitar solo and hook inside and out. When he played the solo for Touch and Go, (Which is one of his recorded best) he didn’t miss a lick! The only diss on Easton, I noticed he was always late or non existent on the chorus’. Whats up with that??? They’re Not gonna sing themselves! Easton was digging on all the “hooks” and looked like he was enjoying himself. Ocasek smiled a few times… He looked like he was finally at ease by the time the encore series started. At one point in a song, he was not playing guitar, and I could tell that he didn’t know what to do with his hands. I think he was thankful when his guitar was needed again. Ocasek did a great job of singing the Ben Orr classics. “Just What I Needed” and “Moving in Stereo” were just fine with Ric on the lead vocal. I think the crowd was singing louder than him on “Lets Go”.

I wish some of the tunes would have had some liberty taken with them. The final encore (We got three!!!) was “Your All I’ve Got Tonight”, and had a raging guitar solo that lasted for 3 or 4 minutes. That was the only song that was not played EXACTLY as it was recorded. I am sure this had everything to do with Hawkes having bass rhythms and keyboard tracks set up for every song. But in the end, that extra attention on the production took away a little from the live unpredictable element you look for in a live show. They were too perfect? That’s a small complaint for a show that I have been waiting 25 years to see. Its really more of an observation.

All in all… I had mixed expectations going in. The band showed why they have been celebrated and remembered for over 30 years. All kinds of pop classics were loved and sung along by young and old in the crowd. Any fears on the performance I had were unfounded and faded out of my head 10 minutes into the show. These guys still have the gas to keep this trip going! (Get it? Gas!)

TBR Episode 52 – Baretree and Rockstars

In Stereo!  Get your headphones cranked for a couple of tunes on this show.  Groucho and Chud touch base on some great performances, play a Mikey Mason song, and let CHUD come unhinged on Charlie Sheen.

Beers on the show:  Two Brothers 2009 Bare Tree Wheat Wine.

 On the show:

  1. Episode Sponsor:  Ad from Newcastle Brown ale
  2. The Bear Stick!
  3. Love for Two Brothers Beers. 
  4. Its a numbered Episode! 
  5. Contest is over.  We owe a beer to Swedish Brick for his awesome iTunes review. 
  6. Send us email…  We love doing email shows!
  7. If your beer sucks…  Blend it!
  8. Piers Morgan is hoity toity?
  9. Cool to be unkept?
  10. CHUD dont like Firefly…  Sorry Mikey!
  11. Guitar comics
  12. The Real Happy Hour returns?  Maybe not???  CHUD recommends a podcast? 
  13. Niel Young’s Freedom conversation turns into love for the Weld double disk.
  14. Why would we not be drinking the 2006 vintage Bare Tree???
  15. Cigar mouth.
  16. Cigarette bashing!
  17. Aerosmith carb loaded…  When did Stephen Tylor get so gay???
  18. Charlie Sheen…  CHUD watches TAHM?
  19. Rock stars are lame now…  Near CHUD rant!

Listen to the show here:

To Hell and Back Again – A Mix Tape

Hey everybody, CHUD here. I’m WAY behind on posting a few things, but for Friday the 13th, I give you an excessively metal youtube mix tape for your enjoyment. Here’s the run down. Enjoy!

Midnight – Black Rock N Roll
National Suicide – Nu Posers Don’t Scare Anyone
Carcass – Buries Dreams
Entombed – Sinners Bleed
Burzum – Jeg Faller
Aosoth – V
Dark Funeral – Secrets of the Black Arts
Christian Mistress – Omega Stone
Zuul – Warhammer
Grand Magus – Silver Into Steel
Primordial – Bloody Yet Unbowed

2011 Peoria Brewfest – Night of the Barrels

Oh man! Groucho and CHUD “no-show” two years in a row! Its hard to look like a respectable Downstate Illinois Beer Podcast without some commentary on the local beer events.

Last year we had the Darklord Day in Munster to blame… This year… Nobody to blame but other commitments with friends and family. Oh, and the fact that we did not get tickets to Darklord Day or the VIP tasting tent at the Brewfest.

I’ll cut right to the chase here.  I was not terribly disappointed to miss the fest last year and that feeling has carried over to this years event.  I am sick of being the first one there in hopes that I will have an hour or so to try some beers without being surrounded by a gathering frat party.  A party that swells to smothering proportions, thus making movement near impossible!

I hate to sound like a cranky old man.  But, I am done with that scene.  So, when I heard that they had a VIP tent with special brews and some contests…  I was all for that.  Unfortunately, I found out about it too late.  It was SOLD OUT.   On a sidebar, I was happy to hear that this type of set-up was being experimented with.  I was beginning to think that the Jaycees (Charity that benefit from the proceeds of the Brewfest) were willing to turn the Fest into a drunkfest all in the name of scoring more dollars.   

Next best thing:  Night of the Barrels?

Several years ago… The Peoria Brewfest had a re-imagining of sorts.  Brewers were invited to participate in some pre-fest activities…. And they generally made a showing at the festival tables the next day to pitch their brews to the thirsty masses. The main (and possibly only?) distributor to the event, Specialty Distributing, had a strong crew of craftbrewers that were willing and able to make the drive to Peoria.  It was amazing.  Brewers and sales reps were at Kellehers or Old Chicago with samples of their hard to find beers.  You could go to this event and be as satisfied with the beer samplings, if not more so, than wandering from table to table at the fest on Saturday.

I had generally high hopes when I hit Old Chicago (Grand Prairie) Thursday night.

Lets be real frank about this…  Night of the Barrels (NOB) is not like it used to be. And that is NOT a good thing!

I used Facebook and Beer Advocate to track down a listing of the beers available on draft at the Old Chicago and Kellehers for NOB.  They do them simultaneously across town from each other.  In years past they rotated the annual event between these two restaurants, but I think they have done this split deal for some type of appeasement.  I think that is the first problem.  It is such a minor event that it may have turned into a non-event!  The beers listed at Kellehers were all Belgian Style ales.  Old Chicago had some Black IPA and Lefthand Widdershins Barley-wine.  It had to be Old Chicago for me.

When my group of 6 got to the bar at Old Chicago at 7PM, I was hard pressed to tell that anything was going on out of the ordinary.  The bar was crowded.  But they were not drinking “flights” or craft beers.  It was mostly a dinner crowd drinking macro-brews.  I kept an eye out for any other activity or usual suspects in the crowd.  No dice.

More disconcerting than the lack event atmosphere….  Was the complete lack of knowledge provided by our server in the bar area.   When I asked our waitress about the flights… She asked which one I wanted.  Thats a fair question, but I was not provided any info on ANY flights.  When she came back, she had a list of the flights hand written in her order book.  I ordered flight 3.   See the image above.

When my flight of 3 beers arrived…  I had no idea what beer was what!  They did not provide any labels, place-mats or table placard with info on the beers.  It was like a blind taste test!  For me, this is not a big deal.  But, you have to imagine yourself as a new consumer whenever you do these things…  I think it would be a train wreck for a beer noob to get 3 random beers like that.  You are not promoting ANYTHING! 

I ended up getting another flight after the first one…  I have no idea what they were.  After that, I asked the waitress what else they had on tap.  After determining that she didn’t have a clue… I walked up and looked at the tap handles.  I ended the night with a full pint of Darkhorse Brewing Company Blueberry stout.

This is a brilliant beer!  It even takes the sting off of wasting your time/gas to participate in this mess.

This whole experience has had me down for the last 2 days about the future of beer events here in Peoria.  I was happy to hear that my friends Chad and Mike had a good time today at the beerfest VIP tent.  Chad twittered that they even won some Utopia’s.  I am interested to hear their review of how it all went.

Previously, Chad had told me that the Stone Brewing launch party at Kellehers was outstanding, and reminiscent of the glory days we used to have around here. 

So, maybe not all is lost?  I kinda feel like one of those a-holes who doesn’t vote, but still complains about the administration.  I didn’t participate in the fest this year, but I still feel compelled to throw out my opinion of it.  I don’t think I am being unfair in saying that the NOB event was a bust.  Below is a picture of the bar at 10PM. 

OC bar cleared out by 10PM

If they want to scrap Night of the Barrels and focus on things like the VIP area during the fest, it might be the better way to go.   I miss the interaction with the brewers.  Night of the Barrels was used to be that rare opportunity to chat and have a little fun between brewers and the beer geeks!