The Bravery and Linkin Park with Chris Cornell and a bunch of other people I didn’t sit through.

It’s concert week here at kinemapoetics! Last night I tagged along with a friend to the Linkin Park show at Nissan Pavilion. The show was in Virginia; since I live in Maryland, I dressed for our weather, which, when I left, was cool and rainy.

In Virginia, things were a hot swampy mess. It was sunny, so humid it was turning hazy, and there I was, sitting out by my friend’s boss’s pool in my jeans and brown t-shirt. Fortunately, having to wear pants to work during the Arizona summers helped me balance it out, but I admit it was still a little uncomfortable. And I honestly thought the humid night air would make me feel cold, and I dressed with an eye to that.

Beyond my fashion foibles, the show was good. We caught most of The Bravery set (but I had to eat first or I would have passed out). Their live show is fairly straight forward, simply playing their songs. They have a good energy, but I wasn’t wowed. I do love their music, though; The Sun and the Moon is a fantastic album (both versions, and also impressive because they recorded two versions).

With the sun finally going down (very slowly), my friend and I tried to stay cool and cut down on our sweating by slowly walking back and forth behind the pavilion. When a breeze whipped up (or “the breath of God” as my friend called it), it did feel good, but mostly it was a futile endeavor, trying to stop sweating. We just got swampier and swampier.

In good news, this meant there were many shirtless tattooed men to ogle.

Linkin Park closed the night. I like their music, although I haven’t been a super huge fan in the past. I was sort of surprised to see their audience could have passed for a Promise Keepers convention, there were so many white men in their late twenties and early thirties there. And when the music started, they all, in union, began to spaz. There’s no better way to say this. They didn’t “dance,” although their girlfriends did; they shook their fists, or waved the palm of their hand over their head to the beat, or jumped around, or hit each other. It was like watching them be washed down by a hose spraying musical testosterone.

Linkin Park works their butt off during their show. The lead vocalist, I’m sure, is going to be voiceless in about five years. He really puts everything into his performance; you can see his neck straining to shriek those notes. Amazingly, he has near perfect pitch even then. I like the group overall, the way they blend all the different music styles into something a little different.

Next: we see how the other half lives (and attends concerts) when I join 15,000 gays and Reb Livingston at George Michael!

Panic at the Amphitheatre

Last night, capping off an extended and eventful weekend, I hit the Panic at the Disco concert at the Mesa Amphitheatre. They were joined by Phantom Planet (I missed them), The Hush Sound, and Motion City Soundtrack. I enjoyed The Hush Sound, but Motion City was just so-so.

This was my second Panic concert experience, having caught their arena tour last year with Cobra Starship and Jack’s Mannequin. I’m happy to say that as their sound has matured, so has their showmanship. Their first tour consisted of them basically standing there playing their album from start to finish (which I kind of enjoyed) with little interaction or excitement involved. I think they might have been a little overwhelmed.

This tour finds them more comfortable and confident. There was a lot of inter-show banter between Ryan Ross, the band’s songwriter, and Brandon Urie, the charismatic lead singer who, earlier this week, celebrated his 21st birthday. Ryan has that sort of quiet awkwardness sensitive teenagers possess, while Brandon is the kind of guy who would depants himself and run through the cafeteria, if you dared him or paid him a dollar.

Highlights of the show: the new material from Pretty. Odd. was engaging, as were the retooled versions of “But It’s Better When We Do” and “There’s a Good Reason These Tables Are Numbered, Honey, You Just Haven’t Figured It Out” from the first album. But probably my favorite performance was Brandon’s solo acoustic rendition of “Time to Dance,” which showed off his newly acquired strumming skills and showcased his vocal talents.

Hot stuff, yes.

Alanis with Matchbox Twenty, or Recapturing My Lost Youth

Last night I went to the Alanis/Matchbox concert. The show was really good and I was eager to see both of them as it was my first time at one of their shows. Alanis came out and did a lot of her big hits, mostly culling songs from her first album. She sang a few new songs and gave us a snippet of her cover of “My Humps,” complete with hot pink feather boa and feckless suitors chasing her. Highlight of her set: during “Ironic,” she altered the lyrics to be “It’s like meeting the man of my dreams…and then meeting his beautiful husband.” Of course, she’s Canadian, where men can have husbands, so that makes sense.

Matchbox’s set was also really, really strong. Rob Thomas is great live, rivaling in energy level the great Kelly Clarkson (don’t laugh; I’m serious!). They, too, covered their best songs from the past 10 years, but I’ll admit that I left before they finished because—don’t laugh—it was really cold.

Outdoor concerts in Arizona are never a good idea. It’s either too hot or too cold once the sun goes down (or both, depending on the time of year) and I foolishly didn’t bring a warmer jacket. It got a little more bearable once the other 15,000 fans arrived and started breathing and sharing body heat, but eventually even that was enough.

Let’s just say it wasn’t heterosexuality’s best night, either. In front of us were about 8 straight guys hanging out together, ranging in age from 35 to 55. They downed beer after beer and then one of them, after trying to pick up two 23-year-old blond girls, started singing along to “You Oughta Know,” shockingly enough, and then every single Matchbox song that they played, the entire time keeping one arm raised over his head, two fingers pointing out like the barrel of a gun, waving it back and forth like cowboy. Moments after this big show, he crawled over the row of seats behind him, nearly made it, and then wiped out. The entire line of people from that point toward the aisle bent like a field of wildflowers in his wake.

A father there with his wife and two kids—let’s say he was about 45—walked in front of me to get to the aisle and I noticed, unfortunately, that his jeans were hanging a little low…and he wasn’t wearing underwear. There was crack. There was full-on crack action. Am I wrong, or should underwear be mandatory when you are out in public with your children? Otherwise you end up out in pubic when you’re out in public.

During the Alanis set, the three empty seats in front of us became occupied by a threesome of one man and two women. They, too, had explored the bar’s many charms before joining the show, and I was annoyed to have the gentleman’s head right between me and Alanis. No matter where I moved, he anticipated my shift and continued to block me. While we engaged our battle of wits, one of the women drunkenly talked to him through the entire set. LOUDLY. But not loud enough that I could make out what she was saying; just loudly enough to detract from the show. Then they got up and left again, but returned during the Matchbox set, when it became clear that Loud Drunk Girl and Drunk Guy were dating. And having a fight. And, eventually, during this long conversation, breaking up. She walked off and he let her go. The woman on the other side of her moved to follow her, but then just took her seat instead. Ah, friendship!

In between sets, Cricket Wireless had this running message board on the big screens. You could text in a message and it would scroll across. People were putting up marriage proposals and acceptances (I guess that’s what you call the sanctity of marriage, right?), information about what they had for dinner, and one message even said, “My dad is a cripple.” I messaged “I’m here, I’m queer, and I’m sitting next to you,” but it never appeared. Beau texted “Arden Jensen is hot!!!” and it scrolled. I texted “I’m here, I’m queer, and I’m really cold,” but it never appeared. Beau texted “Beau loves Charlie,” but it didn’t appear, despite the fact that nearly every heterosexual pairing in the audience of “blank loves blank” appeared.

Despite it all, though, it was a good show.

Young Love with PlayRadioPlay, Liam and Me, and Alcoholiday

Last night I caught the Young Love show at a teeny tiny venue in Tempe. The fun part about seeing bands when they’re on their way up is that you have a chance to hear them play at really intimate venues with small crowds.

The downside is being one of five people in the whole venue over the age of 29, surrounded by a sea of fifteen-year-old hipsters in their striped shirts, thick headbands, skinny rock jeans, and couture hair.

The show started with what I think was a local band called Alcoholiday. The kindest thing I can say is that their music was fun, except when there was singing. The lead singer kept saying, “We’re a dance band, so feel free to move around,” but nobody was. Not even swaying. Nope.

Liam and Me were a pretty good band and gave a good performance, so I might check out some more of their stuff. PlayRadioPlay started out strong but ended up being pretty disappointing and weird.

Throughout the night, the strangest thing was that these hipster kids would be hanging out listening to the show, and then suddenly they were on stage, part of the next band to play.

But Young Love. Ah! Let me tell you. Their music is fun and rocking and danceable, and they were the only band of the four that really seemed like they had a definitive “sound.” They seemed like a real band, and they had a good time up on stage. The lead singer, Dan Keyes, looks like Josh Hartnett (if he stopped eating for about four weeks) and sounds like what one reviewer called a cross between Justin Timberlake and Brandon Urie of Panic! At the Disco (no shock, then, that I love this band).

The drummer for Young Love was particularly talented, mastering what on the album sound like intricate programmed beats, and one of the guitarists was also really good, doing a lot of intricate fingering and picking. Even Dan rocked out on his guitar with some hair band-worthy licks in the last song (“Find a New Way”).

Their set was pretty short—only about 6 or 7 songs—but every song was fantastic.

And I bought a t-shirt that, in the words of Cake, proves I was there, that I heard of them first.

"We’re Just Like My Ken and Barbie Dolls"

On Saturday night I saw the Gwen Stefani show at a packed Cricket Pavilion. The outdoor venue is notorious for being inhospitable to Phoenix summer concerts, but after Saturday afternoon’s green-sky dust storm, things had cooled down a bit and the air was breezy and comfortable.

Gwen came out on stage and remarked on how amazing it was to see 20,000 people at her show. She started off with some fun songs from The Sweet Escape and folded in a few of her older hits like “Hollaback Girl” and “Rich Girl.” She’s good live, a true performer who clearly loves to be on stage and feeds off the audience’s energy.

The show itself had good production value, inventive and interesting costuming, and talented back-up dancers. The Harajuku Girls are still around, but now she’s got some hot male breakdancers in the mix, too. Gwen made a point of introducing each and every dancer and band member to the crowd, telling us where they were from to boot.

Highlights of the show included “What You Waiting For” and “Orange County Girl,” which featured huge pictures of Gwen at all stages of her life on the monitors behind her. It was so interesting to see her grade school photos, her performing in the early days of No Doubt. I liked it.

But the best moment was when she ran through the pavilion to sing a stripped down version of “Cool” in the center of the seating area, surrounded by flabbergasted fans. She ran by me and was only four feet away! She’s adorable.

What I most appreciate about her is that, after the show, she made everyone on stage come down and take a bow with her, then accepted a bouquet of flowers from the crowd—and then she sort of hung out on stage for a few minutes. As her handlers walked her off, she saw some guy holding up a t-shirt and a sharpie, so she stopped to sign it for him. It was hot.

In honor of this, Gwen is my Dreamboat of the Week this week, and I’ll be celebrating her by listening to Tragic Kingdom over and over again. My favorites: “Sunday Morning,” “Happy Now?” “Excuse Me Mr.”