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May 2010

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I asked Alix of arixystix.com to make a Plants vs Zombies Snow Pea for me (as a gift to my wife). He came in today, and he's totally rad; check him out!


I don't usually go to many live concerts (maybe 3 or 4 a year), so it's a bit of an oddity that two of my favorite bands have been in town within the past two weeks, and I've managed to see both of them.

First up: My Morning Jacket.

From My Morning Jacket

This is a band I've been watching for the past couple of years; their first performance on Austin City Limits piqued my interest with songs mostly from 2005's "Z," and their later performance featured songs from 2008's "Evil Urges." I found the latter to be especially impressive, and afterward I went back through their earlier albums to find solid but... well, rather less interesting music. This is a band that has evolved and improved with each album, so in a way I found their back catalog a bit of a disappoint.

Anyway, they're on tour, and their RDU stop was in the Koka Booth Amphitheatre in Cary. I've now seen three concerts in that venue, and my feelings about it are... mixed.

MMJ's performance itself was stellar, as I expected it would be having seen them execute two nearly flawless performances on ACL. They started off a bit slow with their "classic" material, ramping up to a pretty beefy set that included probably half of the songs from Z or Evil Urges. Jim James is quite a showman, flaunting a cape worn in several odd manners throughout the show; if his voice wasn't so completely out of this world, you might imagine the cape trick to be a bit bizarre, but somehow it all seems to work.

Unfortunately, a couple of things about the concert bothered me. For one, this place was filled with drunks. I mean, EVERYWHERE. There were 20ish kids all over the place; smoking pot, drinking, talking loudly in that I'm-too-drunk-to-modulate-my-voice manner, tripping over each other, and paying absolutely no attention to the band. Why are you guys here? Is MMJ so popular that people who don't care about the music show up just for street cred?

I think part of the issue may be Koka Booth itself. Our "seats" were rather lousy, being stuck back in the lawn. It's not as bad as the cheap seats at Walnut Creek (which are so far away you can't even *see* the performers without looking at the giant TV), but they're a long way away. And while Koka Booth is an attractive stage, their audio was very, very quiet to my ears; a fact that effectively amplified the noise of the crowd in comparison to the music. Some venues crank the volume till your ears bleed, and I'm not asking for that, but... maybe if it was just a bit louder, these kids wouldn't be so distracting.

I got the distinct impression that the real fans were close to the stage, where they got both a good view and, presumably, better companionship.

The net result was a bittersweet experience; as much as I loved seeing James and the crew live, and as awesome as the band was, I couldn't help but be disappointed by the environment. I'm pretty much resolved to never sit in the cheap section at Koka Booth again.