Nevermind The Posers

See ya in the pit.

The 52nd Annual Grammys…A Fresh Perspective on a Time Honored Tradition February 5, 2010

By Angela Blasi

So this year was my first time actually sitting down and watching “The biggest night in music”.  I have to say I’ve heard a lot of hype about the 52nd Annual Grammy Awards, along with shameless name dropping that made me want to tune in.

Kicking off the show was the amazingly talented Lady Gaga performing her hit “Poker Face”.  I’m a huge Lady Gaga fan, I have no idea why, but I like her more and more every single time I see her.  This evening only helped strengthen my obsession and respect for her as an artist.  When the twin pianos, adorned with mannequin arms stretched towards the ceiling, rolled down stage to reveal both Lady Gaga AND Sir Elton John, done up in dirty futuristic fashion only the two of them could pull off flawlessly, the precedent for the evening had been set.  More-so, being able to hear her live vocals as well as watching her play piano, I was truly able to gain more insight to her as a talented musician and song writer.  It was a stellar performance in which the legends of the music industry passed the torch to its brightest and most talented.  And I must note, Lady Gaga rarely took her eyes off Sir Elton John.  I can’t blame her.  To be that young with all her success and already sharing a stage with nothing less than a musical god, I wouldn’t tear my eyes away either.

I could highlight each performance, but with three hours worth of material to cover and my penchant for detail, we could be here awhile.  So, I will talk about what stuck out most for me.  First off, Green Day’s performance of “21 Guns” off their latest album 21st Century Breakdown with the upcoming Broadway musical ensemble providing harmonies and vocals.  This brought the music of Green Day to a level I could have never thought possible.  Now, please understand, I’ve been a devout fan of this trio for the last 16 years of my life.  To wrap my mind around the fact that I’ve grown up listening to Green Day is phenomenal.  Say whatever you want about the band or their music,  they have become a solid punk rock legend in the world of music, in addition to winning another Grammy later in the night.  They have never disappointed me with any live show and their performance this evening solidifies their place as truly talented artists that had the power and longevity to change the face of the music industry forever.  Oh, and you can bet I’m going to buy a ticket to the Broadway show ASAP.

Taylor Swift is another name worth talking about.  I’m not necessarily a country music fan or a Taylor Swift fan, but the girl is definitely a rising star.  I think what I love most about her is just how genuine she is about all her recent fame.  Maybe it’s because she’s just so young or the country background, but she maintains a graciousness and sense of reality often lacking in many young success stories.  Her acceptance speech in which she says she’s accepting an impossible dream was brief, but eloquently stated.  I’m not about to buy a ticket to her show or even her album, but I can’t deny that the girl is actually talented.  Not to mention her performance along side Stevie Nicks was fantastic.  Go Taylor Swift.  I think she deserves her success and I hope she achieves great things in her career.

Now, when Beyoncé broke down “If I Were A Boy” and suddenly started singing Alanis Morissette’s “You Oughta Know”, I couldn’t help but be disappointed.  Not by Beyoncé’s performance, but at the fact that Alanis herself didn’t pop out from behind a curtain somewhere to join in on the vocals.  It wasn’t bad, but the 90’s kid in me really wanted to see that.  Personally would have loved the hell out of it, but I think she did the song well and it flowed seamlessly in and out from her own music into Alanis’s smash hit.

I had to laugh at the brief moment when the Grammy director fell asleep and let Justin Bieber and Ke$ha take the stage together to remind the audience they could vote for the song Bon Jovi would be performing later in the evening.  Standing, or rather staggering, a good three feet above Justin Bieber, Ke$ha stood in all her white trash “you’s nothin’ but a ho” glory.  And Bieber, well, he managed to say “Beyoncé'” instead of “Bon Jovi”, stating that “Beyoncé is always on his mind…sorry Jay”.  If I was Jay-Z, I would have smacked the kid upside his head just because he’s a tool (really no other reason).  Up until that moment, I had the running thought of “wow, these are some seriously talented artists and it’s great to see some of the music industry’s most powerful voices and artists in one place”.  As a musician, it’s inspiring to see.  But then these two took the stage and I thought “wait…what the fuck are they doing at the Grammys…they sure as hell don’t belong here”.  At least it wasn’t more than 60 seconds.

So it’s 10:30pm now and a lot has happened over the course of the evening.  I feel as though I’ve gotten my fix with the things I wanted to see.  The rest of the night is pretty damn good, from Bon Jovi to the Michael Jackson tribute.  The Zac Brown Band was amazing and worth mentioning too.  I loved their harmonies, vocals and the level of musicianship alongside another legendary country artist Leon Russell.  This performance was nothing less than impressive and moving.  You know what?  That brings me to the main thing I’ve noticed over the course of the evening.  All night it was a beautiful blend of old and new.  The artists that have carved their place in music history forever seamlessly integrated with the very voices and faces they single-handedly inspired.  I think the 52nd Annual Grammy Awards illustrated just how far music has come, where it’s going, and the fact that everything new grows out of something old.  Without our musical forefathers to break ground for all that is subversive, non conformist, controversial, trendy, or done to pay homage to the true beauty of being passionate about the music, we wouldn’t have new artists to award and milestones to celebrate.

They just better not give Ke$ha a fucking Grammy next year.

 

Hank and Cupcakes and Belikos @ Cameo Art Gallery. January 22, 2010

NVMP RATING SYSTEM
1 – Background Noise (not audible to me)
2 – Turn That Racket Down!
3 – What is that?  (caught my attention)
4 – Groovin’ (I can get into this)
5 – Blast that Shit! (the louder the better)
 
On January 16th, I decided to head into Brooklyn and check out some live music at Cameo Art Gallery, Hank and Cupcakes and Belikos to be exact.   
Hank and Cupcakes took the stage first.  Cupcake started the show by explaining how their heat has leaked and that the apartment floor is all wavy from water damage.  After her explanation, she couldn’t figure out why she was complaining at all because the people in Haiti are worse off than a wavy floor and heat problems.  She also stated that we should all be happy to be alive, that tonight, we should all party hard and be happy with what we have, our lives.  This dynamic duo kicked off their set with one of my favorite songs, “Pleasure Town”.  Cupcake took over the vocals and drums (she plays while standing!) and Hank rocked the bass.  I categorize Hank and Cupcakes as an electro-indie rock band with pop influences and an experimental attitude.  Think the Ting Tings mixed with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and a Silversun Pickups vibe.  The crowd, energetic and ready to dance to anything that came out of the speakers, loved them.  Hank utilized his effects pedal to the fullest, creating some really great sounds.  Well played, Hank and Cupcakes, I look forward to seeing you again soon. 
Rating = Groovin’ (I can get into this)
  
     Next up was Belikos, who blew me away.  I’d like to officially deem Belikos as the second band I would hire if I were having a house party- just so we’re on the same page here, I’m not having a house party anytime soon, but if I was, Belikos and Bodega Girls would be on the set list- meaning I had a blast watching their set.  Belikos displayed some smooth moves on stage as well as a ton of energy!  As most of you know, hip hop is not my genre of choice, so I was questioning my attendance before I even walked in.  Belikos is so much more than your typical hip hop group.  Lyrical rap about bitches and ho’s did not dominate the microphone here.  Instead, I was pleased to hear clever rhymes that fit perfectly with a guitar.  The lyrics just flowed- nothing was forced or felt uneasy; my ears were pleased.  It’s so hard to put a genre label on this band, they’re touching all areas: a little hip hop, some rock n’ roll, funk and blues; definitely an original band to check out.  All in all, Belikos was tight, on the beat and in time.   Due to a late start, the crowd diminished in size from Hank and Cupcakes set, but grew in movement.  Lead singer Shane Page knew how to get the crowd going, and in many ways, it almost felt like a house party.  They pulled out some covers (“Give It To Me” from Jay-Z and my personal anthem “TNT’ from AC/DC) that were phenomenal.  This is rare for me to say, I’m not usually a fan of covers, but after a few drinks and a house party atmosphere, anything goes.  A few times while watching, I was reminded of a band I checked out a couple of months ago called Bad Rabbits, they are somewhat similar in their band set up and style, but by the end of the night, Belikos totally blew Bad Rabbitsout of the water.  There is something about Belikos that draws you in, powerful, strong, fun to watch and listen to.  Bad Rabbits = Out, Belikos = In.
Rating = Blast that Shit! (the louder the better)

Be sure to catch Belikos and Hank and Cupcakes at Pianos on February 5th!

 
 – TNT