Sunday, September 21, 2008

I can't believe I'm missing this!


Why the fuck am I not at the Leonard Cohen concert right now? Because I depend too much on other people, that's why (none of my friends expressed any interest in this concert T_T). But then again, that didn't stop me from going to Brussels for Conor's concert... Oh, this is going to be one of those things I'll regret not having done. Especially because this is a very special concert, since today it's Cohen's birthday. I can't believe I'm missing this!

I discovered Cohen's music in high school, when a friend lent me "Ten New Songs" (on cassette -- yes, we were still listening to music on cassettes in '03 or '04; CDs were too expensive, and we didn't have much music in a digital format -- we hadn't heard of SoulSeek haha). I immediately fell in love with his music. It was so different from all the crap I was listening to on a daily basis. And then I remember I was on a train when I heard some college students talking about Leonard Cohen, and in that moment I felt like I was part of some sort of a secret club (basically because, except that friend who introduced me to his music, no one I knew had ever heard of him).

Leonard Cohen - Who By Fire

Besides, I think Cohen's music made me more receptive to Conor's music. One of the very first Bright Eyes songs I listened to was We Are Nowhere, And It's Now, and my first thought was "this sounds a lot like Leonard Cohen". I often think it's such a pity I didn't discover Conor's music earlier, but then I wonder if I had been able to really appreciate it when I was 15-16...

Later edit: this threw me into a state of depression. Not only did this article make me regret I didn't go to the Leonard Cohen concert in Bucharest, but it also made me think even more about Conor's concert from Brussels. Fuck, I think I'm developing an unhealthy obsession for Conor...

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Brussels - Part 4: I died and went to Heaven

music: Bright Eyes - The Vanishing Act

I don't even remember how many times I said that while I was in Brussels.

I love music, movies and books, and most of the times I have a hard time finding the stuff I want to listen to/watch/read in Romania, and especially in the area where I live. On the one hand, I can understand why an indie label like Saddle Creek, for example, is not interested in distributing their music in a country where people don't buy music. But on the other hand, I don't understand why there is not one music store in this country that addresses music lovers, and not music consumers. I don't think it's that complicated to buy music from abroad and then sell it here. Of course, you would need tons of authorizations, and I guess that's not worth it when you think that not a lot of people are willing to pay for music when they can get it for free (and when so many Romanians are still listening to crappy music). But I digress...

In Brussels I discovered two great record stores. They had lots of great stuff (well, except Bright Eyes on vinyl): Dylan, Reed, Bowie, The Who, Patti Smith etc. etc. They even had a Salif Keita album on vinyl, and now I'm sorry I didn't buy that one. And of course I went to FNAC, where I knew I would find some Bright Eyes CDs and manga. What I didn't know was that in Brussels, there are lots of BD stores where you can find manga. If I lived there I think I would spend most of my time in those stores reading manga :P

I also discovered a quasi gay bookshop, Darakan, where they have lots of books about cinema and music. There, I found "Cinema 68", a perfect book to feed my Mai 68 obsession.

But now I'll have to make do with my visits at the French Cultural Center, where, thank God, I can find my favourite French magazines about music and movies.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Brussels - Part 3: Exhibitions

music: Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band - Danny Callahan

While I was in Brussels I found out about some really interesting exhibitions: Oriental Fascination and It's Not Only Rock'n'Roll, Baby!

[There was a manga book from the XIX century. I wish I could read that.]

I didn't even look well at the flyer for the Rock exhibition. When I saw the names Bianca Casady and Devendra Banhart, I didn't need any more information to convince me to go to this exhibition. So, when I got there I was like "OMG! Riceboy Sleeps! And Antony! And Nick Zinner! Wow!!" (I must admit I haven't listened to the Yeah Yeah Yeah's yet, but since Nick collaborated with Bright Eyes I had googled him, so I knew about his work).

Unfortunately, I couldn't stay too long, and didn't get to see Yoko Ono's and Brian Eno's work.

[the map of the exhibition]

Monday, September 15, 2008

Brussels - Part 2: Botanique

music: Bright Eyes - Easy/Lucky/Free

The venue where Conor played was really amazing. It's true I didn't do a lot of sightseeing in Brussels, but from everything I saw, Botanique was definitely my favourite. It's just such an unique place.

A few more photos on flickr

Monday, September 8, 2008

I saw the face of god.

music: Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band - Sausalito

His name was... Conor Oberst.

OK, I stole Justin Taylor's (Queer As Folk) line, but now I can confirm that what everyone else has been saying is true: Conor is a genius, he's a god!

The concert in Brussels was absolutely amazing! (I think I've already said that like a 100 times, but anyways, no words are enough to describe the unique feeling you get when seeing Conor play live.)

Sky Larkin opened for Conor and the Mystic Valley Band and they were pretty great (it's a shame Katie's vocals couldn't be heard so well). After their performance, they rearranged all the instruments and there were three mics in front of the stage, and I just assumed the one in the middle was Conor's. So you can imagine my surprise when the band came on stage and I realized that Conor's mic was exactly the one I was in front of. It still feels wildly surreal when I think I was so close to him! During the concert I was constantly looking at him, trying to convince myself he was real and that I wasn't watching a youtube video. I can't really explain (not even to myself) what was going on in my head at the time. I didn't even get to take a lot of photos because I was so mesmerized by Conor and was enjoying the concert so much that by the time I remembered I had my camera on me, the concert was already over. I just took a couple of photos during the encore, and they're not that great (I need a better camera). Btw, during the encore there was a little weird moment, when a lady -- who must have had too much to drink -- said she was ashamed of Belgium because we were not moving enough. I don't remember exactly what Conor said, but I think he told her to apologize. But that was actually the only time when Conor talked more to the audience. (I guess it was one of those days when he didn't really feel like talking to the audience). The end of the concert was really special: Conor took Nate's place and played the keys (and sang, of course) on Breezy.

What surprised me was that I didn't see any posters announcing the concert (not even at Botanique), and that people started coming at the venue at around seven (so, just one hour before the concert). I was there at 4.30. And earlier that day, I went to Botanique -- basically to check the place out --, and when I was on my way back to the hotel (which was just a few minutes away), I saw a bus and when I realized it was Conor's, I looked back and who do I see?! (No, not Conor, unfortunately, but still...) Macey Taylor and Nik Freitas! I immediately went and asked for their autographs, but I think they are not really used to people doing that. I dunno...

Anyways, after this, I'm even more obsessed with Conor (obviously!) and I'll definitely try to see him in concert again. I hope I won't have to wait too long. But until then, "I Will Be Grateful For This Day".

P.S. More about Brussels during the following days.