2014 ForgotScars: Celebrating the Oscar Forgotten

By Jon Chattman | January 17, 2014

This morning, I watched the Oscar nominations on ABC, and was so befuddled by the omissions I scratched my head, and then turned to my 2-year-old son, and scratched his. They were, in a word, jarring. Anyway, as I do each year, here’s my list of nominees formed from the non-nominated. The Forgotscars date back 10 years, and I’ve listed them in numerous outlets. No one actually earns a “Forgotscar” — it’s just me giving props to those who didn’t get any this morning. For shame, you sick, twisted little gold man (or Academy). Read on, and weigh in. No awards, just respect. And before I begin let me say for shame no Joaquin Phoenix!

Best Picture:
(I’ll keep it to five)

August Osage County
Saving Mr. Banks
Lee Daniels’ The Butler
Fruitvale Station
Prisoners

Best Actor:
Tom Hanks – Captain Phillips
Robert Redford All is Lost
Joaquin Phoenix Her
Michael B. Jordan Fruitvale Station
Hugh Jackman Prisoners

Best Actress
Emma Thompson Saving Mr. Banks
Brie Larson Short Term 12
Julie Delpy Before Midnight
Shailene Woodley The Spectacular Now
Kate Winslet Labor Day

Best Supporting Actor
Daniel Bruhl – Rush
James Gandolfini – Enough Said
Jeremy Renner American Hustle
Bobby Carnavale Blue Jasmine
Will Forte Nebraska

Best Supporting Actress
Oprah Winfrey – The Butler
Jennifer Garner – Dallas Buyers Club
Scarlett Johansson Her
Melissa Leo – Prisoners

Best Director
Paul Greengrass – Captain Phillips
Woody Allen – Blue Jasmine
Spike Jonze – Her
Ron Howard – Rush
Ryan Coogler- Fruitvale Station
Ben Affleck – Argo KIDDING

A-Sides “Aside”: A Very Awesome Holiday with Gabba Gabba, Aye?

By Jon Chattman | December 29, 2013


The Suburbs is probably in my top three favorite albums of all-time. But, I’ve been floored with all of Arcade Fire’s albums. I deeply felt all of the cuts on the dark Neon Bible, and caught on early when Funeral dropped in 2004. Surprisingly, up until this fall, I had never been able to see the band live. For years, I felt this gaping hole because of it. I’m fortunate in the field I’ve chosen to see a lot of concerts, but my favorite band had alluded me for quite a long time and I had this crushing need to see them anyway, anyhow when Win and his fellow talented Canucks hit the road again. In October, I scored tickets to see them perform tracks off their latest Reflektor album at a costume party within an abandoned Brooklyn warehouse. As I stood on line with my friend Max, a designer who lent me one of his masks for the evening, my anticipation for the show was as high as Snoop Dogg at a frat party. Once the lights went off, and the Fire’s alt-egos “The Reflektors” took the stage, I was mesmerized for an hour-and-a-half. I can honestly say their performance of “Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)” that night was among the best songs I’ve ever seen live.

So why do I mention this Arcade Fire show from a few months ago? This is certainly not a “best of 2013″ article. Been there, done that. I paint you this picture to tell you a different story altogether. Say what? I’ll explain. As I stated above, it’d been years that I had felt “a crushing need” to see a band live. Well, just a month after seeing Arcade Fire, it happened again. The astonishing thing about it was, unlike the Canadian indie rock band, it took just four months for me to see these guys live. If you don’t mind, I’ll paint another picture. (Not literally. I can’t paint.)

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I had heard of Yo Gabba Gabba! long before my son was born nearly two years ago. I had seen it a few times for a few seconds while channel surfing, but as cool as I thought it was, I never thought to watch it regularly. Why would I? I wasn’t a parent and as trippy cool as it was, it just seemed wrong to tune in. Around that time, I also had a chance to play DJ at my friend’s son’s first birthday party, and play some tunes from the show. But, as wonderful as the kid-friendly tracks from The Roots and The Ting Tings (among others) were, I couldn’t keep them on my iTunes for very long. Fun side note: my friend Rich was dressed up as DJ Lance while I dressed up as Obi Wan Kenobi but referred to myself as DJ-Wan Kenobi. OK, maybe that’s not as innovative as I thought back then. Anyway, let me carry on. I promise there’s a point here. (I’m in too deep now to turn back on this post.)

Last summer, my wife and I started letting my son watch television here or there. We had planned to wait until he turned two, but fellow parents know how that can be almost impossible when there’s a toddler on one side of the room, and a big, shiny television on the other. That said, we’ve kept the TV-viewing down to a minimum but we make sure Gabbaland is a priority. We’ve all bonded over DJ Lance Rock and his pals Muno, Foofa, Brobee, Toodee, and Plex. Gabba has provided him with not just lively characters, sequences, and catchy songs, but with life lessons like don’t bite your friends or take a nap to recharge your batteries. Sound advice indeed. The show is innovative, fun, and just plain nuts with characters and vignettes that seem to come from Saturday Night Live’s Stefan’s imagination, but it’s an extremely valuable and educational show. Celebrity band and actor cameos help but the show is more than that.

So why am I shilling for a show that doesn’t need any help getting eyeballs tuned to it? The answer is quite simply Arcade Fire. Um, now I’ve lost you. Let me get you back. Last weekend, I took my family to the Beacon Theatre in New York City to see DJ Lance and the gang perform their A Very Awesome – Yo Gabba Gabba! Live – Holiday Show. The experience – from the minute we left the train station to the moment we arrived in the legendary New York venue – far exceeded all the wonderful feelings I had felt standing outside of the Brooklyn warehouse with my mask on. Look, seeing a band you love is great, but watching a show your child loves through his eyes of wonder is always going to top it. It helped that the show was so tip top on every level. From DJ Lance arriving on stage in a sleigh to the Gabba Gang recreating wonderful moments on the show like decorating a Christmas tree to Biz Markie presenting his funky beat of the day, it was a magical show – or as they’d say an “AAAAAAAAWESOME” show. If I was a toddler, this would’ve been my Beatles moment. It nearly was. Who would’ve guessed in all those years I was smitten to see my favorite band live that the moment I’d finally get to see them would be eclipsed a month later by a clumsy red cyclops named Muno?

About A-Sides Music
Jon Chattman’s “A-Sides Music” series was established in August 2011 and usually features artists (established or not) from all genres performing a track, and discussing what it means to them. This informal series focuses on the artist making art in a low-threatening, extremely informal (sometimes humorous) way. No bells, no whistles — just the music performed in a random, low-key setting followed by an unrehearsed chat. In an industry where everything often gets overblown and over manufactured, I’m hoping this is refreshing.

A-Sides with Jon Chattman: No ‘Mistaking’ The Secret State or Milo Greene

By Jon Chattman | April 2, 2013

With over 54 million views on YouTube for their debut song “The Biggest Mistake,” The Secret State are anything but a secret these days. See what I did there? Yes, that success has propelled the band to stardom without even releasing a full-length album yet, and it’s not strictly on the interwebs. “The Biggest Mistake” is gaining significant play on radio stations, and was recently remixed by a tag team of hip pop greats Akon and B.o.B. But, this Baltimore-based band isn’t resting on the popularity of their first track. They’re currently putting the finishing touches on their full-length album, which will drop later this year. Read the rest of this entry »

Argo Oscar Yourself: My Bold Predictions For This Year’s Academy Awards

By Jon Chattman | February 22, 2013


Still not over it… Eddie Vedder wasn’t even nominated for this.

Whenever I place my son down to sleep – beit at night or for a daytime nap – I gently rock the crib as a lullaby plays and he slowly falls into dreamland….emphasize the word “slowly.” Eventually, he rolls over on his stomach, his eyes get heavy, and I tiptoe out of the room. If he’s still awake as I leave, he’ll let me know he needs more rocking by kicking his right leg up and down. The final rocks put him to sleep, and I’m a free man – at least for a little while. This plays out every day, and it gets me every time. As I’ve found out as a relatively new parent, you have to find joy in the predictable. I know, for the most part, a child’s behavior is as predictable as a Homeland curveball. And, that brings us to this weekend’s Oscars. Read the rest of this entry »

A-Sides with Jon Chattman: Justin Tranter Discusses Semi Precious Weapons’ New Path, While El Sportivo Takes Us “Lowe”

By Jon Chattman | February 22, 2013

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Photo/ Blake Wood

Having toured the world with pop goddess Lady Gaga for over a year (following their debut “You Love You,”) it would have been so easy for Semi Precious Weapons to just sell out for their next album. With a fan base rich in “Little Monsters” as well as their own disciples, it just seemed logical that the band would try to make a commercial pop record. But, it didn’t play out that way. Like Gaga herself, Justin Tranter, Cole Whittle, Dan Crean, and Stevy Pyne are in it for the art and are making music that’s true to themselves first and foremost. Having said that, the song doesn’t remain the same. Whereas “You Love You” was a glamified (I’m making that a word) rock record in the tradition of AC/DC, their new single “Aviation High,” which you can listen to here, and the new album it’ll appear on (released later this year) have a more AFI feel. Along with the new sound comes a new style for the band – so say goodbye to frontman Tranter’s high-heeled platforms (at least I think) and say hello to glamified (take note Conky) suits and ties. I caught up with Tranter this weekend, and asked him about SPW’s growth since their previous record and tour. As I discovered, Los Angeles clearly worked wonders for their evolution. “The basic way of life out here is so breezy that I found myself writing more about love, its dramas and my awesome friends, instead of the glamorous tales NYC survival,” he explained. “There are [also] so many different people in LA making music all day to be inspired by. When you find yourself watching Tricky Stewart make beats at 5 a.m. your perspective changes.” Read on…

Right off the bat, you guys have a noticeably different look… was that a conscious decision to develop a new one before the new album drops?
We’ve always been inspired by fashion, and recently I’ve been really into menswear designers like Juun J. Our style has grown – which is good – because I feel like it matches the new music, and even though I love a good look, music always comes first.

Speaking of which, the new single does mark a different direction for you. After touring the world with Lady Gaga, I have to admit I’m surprised (and thankful) you guys didn’t try to make more of a pop record. Can you explain?
I’m glad you’re feeling it! Our goal was to just write the best songs we could, and have the sound be whatever it needed to be to serve each song. We, for sure, made a conscious choice to do something new, but the details just happened naturally.

What was the songwriting process like this time out versus last time?
Last time, the four of us would get into a room a day before a show in NYC, turn up real loud for three hours and see what happened… which I wouldn’t trade for anything, even diamonds. However, this time we were in our home studio in Los Angeles almost everyday and wrote enough for four albums which lead us to where we are now with “Aviation High.”

Let’s go back to the whole Gaga thing for a minute. You and the band saw the world for over a year opening for her. Can you even put that experience into words?
We got to play about 200 shows in arenas and stadiums opening for a massive artist who also happens to be a really great girl with really great fans. I mean, we got to go to f–king Japan, you can’t ask for anything better.

Still, you were embraced by her “Little Monsters” do you think they’ll dig the new record? And double negatives be damned, there is nothing not to like about Japan.
We hope so! We are real proud of it, and we’d would love it if such passionate fans embraced it.

Spill the deets (that’s details, people but I shortened it to come off as hip), what’s the name of the record going to be, and when will it be released?
We aren’t fully sure of all the details yet, but I can tell you there is going to be a lot of new SPW music coming out in the next six months. Right now, we are just thrilled to have one new song out.

Have you started planning for a summer tour? If so, would it be headlining or opening up for another member of music royalty?
We have started planning some things. We actually can’t wait to get back out on the road. We are always up for a royalty situation and headlining…but nothing is official yet.

Like SPW, El Sportivo is making some sweet new music. (You were expecting a better segue?) Daron Hollowell (as his friends and family call him – unless he has them call him El Sportivo, which would be pretty badass) just released a debut full-length LP Nights and Weekendswith his band The Blooz, and it’s a doozy in a very good sense (as opposed to a Groundhog Day Stephen Tobolowsky sort of way). Hollowell runs his own multi-media agency by day, but has been making music for years. I reckon he’s a musical force to be reckoned with, and I’m not just saying that because he performed for me at an A-Sides Music session filmed at the Music Conservatory of Westchester in White Plains earlier this month. Watch the video above, and listen to his poignant take on the band’s “Oh Lowe.” Now.

Bonus Jonas
The final piece to this A-Sides puzzle is Wild Adriatic, who just dropped a video for their cover of Bruno Mars’ mega-hit “Locked Out of Heaven.” Watch it here, and keep an eye on this Upstate, NY band. I hear this guy likes them and he has good taste.

About A-Sides with Jon Chattman:
Jon Chattman’s “A-Sides Music” series features artists (established or not) from all genres performing a track, and discussing what it means to them. This informal series focuses on the artist making art in a low-threatening, extremely informal (sometimes humorous) way. No bells, no whistles — just the music performed in a random, low-key setting followed by an unrehearsed chat. In an industry where everything often gets overblown and over manufactured, I’m hoping this is refreshing.

Things I’d Like To See In “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon 2″

By Jon Chattman | February 4, 2013


For the most part, sequel to iconic films tend to disappoint. For every Godfather and X2, there seem to be dozens upon dozens of films like Arthur 2: On the Rocks or Another 48 Hours. Yep, sometimes too much of a good thing turns out to be a bad thing. This week some out-of-left-field news dropped when various news outlets reported that filming will begin this year on a follow-up to the 2000 Oscar-winning martial arts classic Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. That film, which starred Chow Yun Fat and Zhang Ziyi, garnered ten Oscar nominations (winning four), was a worldwide smash, raking up over 200 million, and propelled director Ang Lee to the A-List. This Chinese film, in my opinion ( you expected someone elses?), was a near-perfect film, and got robbed of a Best Picture win. With that said, the news of a sequel seems as necessary as trying to teach a real cat to recite the fictional MC Skat Kat’s verses of Paula Abdul’s Read the rest of this entry »

Reel Big Fish in NYC

By Plotkin | January 30, 2013

Reel Big Fish brought a sunny California party to a cold, wet day in NYC. Before the show at Irving Plaza, RBF frontman/founder Aaron Barrett sat down to talk about breakfast cereal, what the band’s enduring career means to him, and Dick Van Dyke’s racist accent.

**Enjoy the background music provided by Dan Potthast, and look out for a cameo from Tom, tour manager extraordanaire

Follow @ReelBigFish on Twitter, and head to http://www.reel-big-fish.com/tour-dates/ for 2013 tour dates

A-Sides Music: Tegan of Tegan & Sara Talks ‘Heartthrobs’ and Covering The Stones (and The White Stripes!?!)

By Jon Chattman | January 17, 2013

Pop music was just so much better in the 1980s. The cheesy songs worked because they made you want to dance and you were just oblivious to the fact that the whole era was a big pound of Pizza the Hut. But, we loved it. We still love it. I love it. You love it. Does Lyle Lovett? Anyway, Tegan & Sara have taken that 1980s, retro, nostalgic feel with their first single “Closer,” and unearthed a burst of fruit flavor for your ears. It’s no wonder the song is killing it right now on alt-radio stations, and has been featured on some VH1 promos already. Not surprisingly, the new pop-infused sound for the Canadian darlings has led to articles being written suggesting the twin-sister duo are going all pop now and leaving their indie spirit behind. The question is irrelevant. Good music is good music.

Sure “Closer” rocks like Electric Dreams did back in the day, but it’s not like the sisters Quin are reinventing their style altogether. They’re still the same sibs who have been recording meaningful and catchy (albeit depressing) music for 13 years. Their seventh album, Heartthrob, just finds their same style within a pop production. In other words, sad songs can sound happy. Just ask Foster the People.
Read the rest of this entry »

A-Sides Music: Top 52 Songs of 2012 (Call Me Maybe…Not)

By Jon Chattman | December 4, 2012

“Look at the birds up in the tree.”
“We’re not birds, we’re a jug band.”
- Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas

That immortal exchange between a bear puppet and a band of otters (one at least) from the 1979 iconic Christmas special have nothing to do with this column but needed to be said somewhere, somehow. So, there you have it. Anyway, underrated Christmas TV specials aside, it’s December, which means everyone and their father’s brother’s nephew’s cousin’s former roommate are unleashing their year-end “top” whatever lists. Suffice to say, this blogger is no different.

As Ashford & Simpson used to sing, 2012 was “solid…solid as a rock” when it came to music. There were many exceptional albums this year, but I’m going to focus on the songs. Before I break into my list of 52 gems that lit up my year (and made for a weak cliche of a sentence) I will say my favorite albums of the year came from the following artists (in no order): Bat For Lashes, Mumford & Sons, The xx, Sleigh Bells, Cat Power, The Chevin, The Gaslight Anthem, Green Day (squared), The Jezabels, Moon Taxi, Yeasayer, and Metric whose Synthetica would top my list of best albums of the year – you know if I composed that list.
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Partypoker Français

By Jon Chattman | December 4, 2012

The character types in a poker movie

If you are as fond of watching movies as we are, you no doubt have seen an example of every genre there is. Comedy, horror, French cinema, film noir, sports movies, true stories etc. One genre which tends to be overlooked, but is very much present in Hollywood and independent cinema nowadays, is the poker movie. So many have been released now that it’s garnered a few parody movies too. Three character types who you normally see in a poker movie are:

The underdog

This stereotype is not limited to the poker movie. Pick a sports movie, and the narrative will likely follow a novice player, who against the odds wins the competition. To everyone but the audiences shock. The underdog tends to be someone in need of some cash as quickly as possible. Or perhaps they owe someone or just want revenge. The underdog takes the form of Eric Bana in Lucky You, or Matt Damon in Rounders, a movie which inspired many new players, long before the internet was full of sites like partypoker français, allowing French players to practise in their own homes. Speaking of France, it’s unlikely for the underdog to be any other nationality than American or even British.
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The ‘Plot’ Thickens: -30-

By Jon Chattman | November 21, 2012

Can you believe after all that shit they got back together?

In October 2005, I created thecheappop.com as a website for wrestling columns and “mustache envy.” It all was launched after my good friend Rich Tarantino and I talked about the good old days of wrestling over a slice of pizza (two slices actually), and from there, a site was born, and it grew like an awkward kid with a thin ‘stache going through puberty ever since. What started as a mustache and wrestling site turned into a celebrity interview forum with candid paparazzi photos, and eventually it became a place that incorporated travel, music, and non-mustache musings. It still will.

I’m stepping down effective today as managing editor of the site. The “pop” has been my passion since I launched it – I’ve spent so many hours not just writing stories or uploading pics, but hanging on the line for tech support anytime I mucked up the site in some way. It’s time for new blood on this site. Yes, I’ll still write, but it needs someone who has enough time to keep the vision I had for it going. I created A-Sides Music last year, and will focus on asidesmusic.com and writing books. That’s my passion these days. But again, this column isn’t a farewell at all – I’m just stepping aside.

Andrew Plotkin aka simply “Plotkin” will be taking over the day-to-day operations of this outfit (I mean the website – not my actual outfit). He shares the same drive I do, and I can’t think of anyone better suited for this. He’ll take the ball and run with it. He’s been a huge part of this site for a few years, and he’s about to take it to the next level. Support him please. He’s a good egg, and by “egg” I mean he’s a good person. He’s smart, funny, and is the only man I know who can pull off a headband. I love him like a brother, and so will you. Or, you’ll at least tolerate him like you would a brother. So that’s it. Enjoy Version 2.0 everybody, because that phrase isn’t overused I’m told. Love you all.

Watch. Listen. Love.

A Diplomatic Chewbacca Weighs in on ‘Star Wars: Episode VII’

By Jon Chattman | November 21, 2012

Back in the day, I would gargle soda and entertain friends with my Chewbacca impersonation. It was juvenile, but I nailed it every time. Having said that, the following news below makes me giddy like a school girl (not literally — I am a grown man — dammit!) Anyway, read on…
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Shooting Your Eye Out: Peter Billingsley on A Christmas Story: The Musical

By Jon Chattman | November 21, 2012

Every season it’s delightfully unavoidable. It’s on for 24-hours, and you watch it at least twice. It’s kind of heroin for holiday spirit. Why wouldn’t you want to see the leg lamp again? Bunny pajamas. The tongue on the pole. You’ll shoot your eye out, kid. Yes, ever since A Christmas Story was released in 1983, it’s been on repeat each December because it has as many classic moments as vintage holiday films like It’s a Wonderful Life or Miracle on 34th Street. To remake that classic of Ralphie and his want, need, and desire for an Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle would be as blasphemous as remaking the aforementioned Jimmy Stewart classic or the Edmund Gwenn/Natalie Wood 1947 classic. Oh, wait.

Anyway, the film’s original star and a spot-on creative team, however, found a new way to bring new life into the seasoned flick (notice how I’m ignoring the direct-to-video sequel that just dropped).

Peter Billingsley starred as Ralphie Parker in A Christmas Story, and now he’s an exec producing a Broadway musical adaptation to the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre from Nov. 5-Dec. 30. Talk about taking your career full circle. That’s like me appearing in my Bar Mitzvah video, and then returning some 30 years later to… oh wait, bad analogy. Anyway, A Christmas Story: The Musical debuted in Seattle in 2010, and hit the Windy City a year later. It’s directed by Urinetown Tony Award-winner John Rando and composed by the team of Benj Pasek and Justin Paul.
Read the rest of this entry »

The Darkness Lights Up T5, Leaves No Doubts About It

By Plotkin | October 22, 2012

I have seen The Darkness, a gloriously entertaining rock quartet in the vein of Queen (but with even more swagger and cockiness) in concert 4 times now. Every show has had the band doing so many of the exact same things in the exact same way, and yet the skill and energy with which they are executed has made each show better than the one before. That’s a truly impressive feat.

“Is this the part of town where people write on the walls?” asked lead singer Justin Hawkins Sunday night during the band’s show at Terminal 5. The question was most likely inspired by the forever-riddled with never-progressing construction and general rundown-ed-ness of 56th between 11th Ave and the West Side Highway, a block more suited to be down the street from the Carlyle Building in New Jack City than mere steps from the gleaming tower that is the Time Warner Center in Columbus Circle. (In the classic Ice-T/Wesley Snipes film New Jack City, The Carlyle was that giant apartment building-turned crack den. What? You haven’t seen New Jack City? Dude. You gotta check it out!)

The crowd was comprised of tween-age girls, balding 40-somethings, frat boys, geeks, dweebos, jocks, motorheads…you get the idea. It was a surprise when the houselights went down around 9:15pm, seeing as the band was slated to take the stage 20 minutes later. “The Boys Are Back in Town” came over the PA system (it has been The Darkness’ entrance music for some time now), and whereas most bands come on stage within seconds of their walk-out music being played, the four men from the England (Lowestoft, Suffolk specifically, for those keeping track) allowed the song to play in its’ entirety, followed by half a song of generic 80s synth-driven arena rock instrumental, before emerging onstage. Perhaps they knew the lights had gone down early, and were trying to run out the clock (A sports reference! I never make those!). What’s more likely is that the band just wanted anticipation to reach a fevered pitch before kicking things off.

Since their US mini-tour back in February, The Darkness has opened their shows with “Every Inch of You”, the first track on their latest album, Hot Cakes. The band’s show opener since 2003, “Black Shuck,” has been pushed to the Number Two spot. Leading into “She’s Just A Girl, Eddie” (also off of Hot Cakes), Justin, as in the past, played cheerleader for a moment, beckoning for the crowd to “Gimme a D! Gimme an Arkness!”

Bassist Frankie Poullain recently said that because of his limited technical skills, he’s very aware of the role he plays in the band, a role he believes to be quite crucial, which is that of a primitive musician, playing without an ego, not getting in the way of the other members. He did however step into a spotlight of sorts at times, taking every opportunity he could to initiate a venue-wide clap-along.

Justin often evokes the spirit of David Lee Roth onstage, peppering sets (Sunday’s included) with jumping mid-air splits, and the occasional handstand on the front of Ed Graham’s drum riser. After a key piece of equipment fell offstage during the breakdown in “Get Your Hands Off of My Woman”, Justin feigned dismay (“I feel naked without my mike stand”), and then brought a young man from the crowd up onstage to trade vocals with him for the song’s final words. (But not before the young man took off his sweatshirt and threw it offstage left, followed by his t-shirt, which was thrown offstage right.) The man lept onto Justin for a hug, and then, fulfilling every concertgoer’s fantasy (or perhaps just mine), exited his moment in the spotlight via stage-dive.

Following the conclusion of that song, Justin simply stood at the edge of the stage for what seemed like a longer-than-usual amount of time. To the casual observer, it would appear that he was savoring the moment, reveling in the fact that Terminal 5 is the largest venue his band has played here in the world’s most famous city. What’s more likely is that Justin was lingering at the lip of the stage to afford the audience the precious opportunity to bask in his glory. Few men can pull off such perceived arrogant behavior and only be loved more for it. It’s impossible to not enjoy the man’s onstage presence.

At one point during the show, Justin gave the crowd an extremely amusing (as most things he does onstage are) impromptu guitar lesson, with the help of Dan Hawkins, his younger brother/lead guitarist. “(To Dan:) Play them a D chord. (To audience:) That’s what a D sounds like. And when Dan takes this finger away, it becomes a minor chord. It’s much darker, right?”). (Fun fact: In the band’s near 12-year existence, Dan has (seemingly) never performed onstage without a Thin Lizzy t-shirt.)

An incredibly brief anecdote of the band’s travels yesterday was immediately followed by the non-sequitur “Where we’re from, it’s all about heroin.” Any true fan of The Darkness knew that the band’s ode to ruining one’s veins, “Givin’ Up,” would be next in the set, and in case the crowd forget that Justin was more than just one of the most charismatic, acrobatic, flamboyant lead singers to come along in many years, he picked up a guitar in the middle of the song (not the first time he had done so that night) and perfectly replicated the exceptionally intricate and technical guitar solo that comes just before the song’s final chorus.

As is the case on 2003’s Permission to Land, “Givin’ Up” hadn’t been over for more than a second before Ed Graham played the first drumbeat of “Stuck in a Rut”. The band closed its’ set with their breakthrough single, “I Believe in a Thing Called Love,” which received the loudest ovation of the night…until later.
The house lights went up, and the inevitable wait for an encore began. Five minutes (or so) of a quiet yet persistent din later, the faint chant of “Dark-ness” could be heard, growing steadily until it filled Terminal 5. Only after that did the band reappear, seemingly having held out until the crowd was in a state of enthusiastic desperation that was worthy of more Rock n Roll.

The encore featured “Hazel Eyes,” off of 2005’s One Way Ticket to Hell…and Back, a track that has rarely been played live, mostly due to the fact that the band never extensively toured behind the album thanks to Justin’s entering rehab for heroin addiction and the band’s subsequent break-up (which thankfully has proven to be just a 5-year hiatus). The song saw Dan Hawkins’ stand atop the drum riser, an atypical moment in the spotlight for him, in a location usually reserved for Justin and Justin alone.

Before launching into “Love on the Rocks With No Ice,” which has closed out every show The Darkness have ever played, Justin took notice of a particular fan in the crowd (“Is that a man clapping over there? Let’s do that.”). Then, he let the audience know that the show was almost over. “This will be our last song.” (That was met with 3,000 boos.) “But don’t worry. It goes on for fuckin’ ages.” (3,000 yays)

As the song segued into the guitar solo at the end, Justin, as he has done so many times before, hopped onto the shoulders of a refrigerator-sized security guard, playing the solo as the hulking man walked a giant semi-circle through the crowd, dropping Justin off at the other side of the stage to a deafening audience roar.
When the houselights came up at the end of the night and the crowd was filing out, “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life)” came over the PA, as it has at so many of The Darkness’ shows before it. Perhaps it was the band wanting to inform those who didn’t already know, or remind the ones who did, that they just saw The Darkness perform live, and it was amazing.

Taken 2: Neeson Is “Taken” Again (but Not Martin Harris)

By Jon Chattman | September 30, 2012

Nicolas Cage used to be a highly-respected actor who was known for quirky yet brilliant performances in both comedies and dramas from Moonstruck to his Oscar-winning role in Leaving Las Vegas. But, something terrible has happened and it’s been well documented. Ever since he co-starred with Sean Connery in The Rock, the actor has focused more on bombastic action flicks than the gems that made him the star he is today. Don’t look now, but Liam Neeson has become the second coming of Cage. The actor was a rarity: a Hollywood star who had indie cred as well. He could star in Batman Begins, for example, but also appear in Kinsey. But, something happened in 2009 during Superbowl Sunday weekend in the United States.

Neeson’s suspense thriller Taken, which had been released roughly a year prior overseas, basically came out of nowhere — despite ho-hum reviews — and just killed it at the box office. Ever since that film, in which Neeson played a former CIA operative tracking down his kidnapped daughter by any means necessary, raked in over $145 million at the U.S. box office, he’s been making almost as many schlocky action films as Cage. First, there was his wiggy turn as Zeus in Clash of the Titans. He followed that up as Hannibal in the B-flick redo of The A-Team, and the thriller Unknown, a film that seemed to only have him saying “I’m Martin Harris” every three-and-a-half minutes. But, that wasn’t all for Neeson. He had the audacity to reprise his role as Zeus in Wrath of the Titans, sunk the box office with Battleship, and starred in The Grey, a movie whose arguable highlight was the actor punching a wolf.

This Friday, a sequel to the film that started it all for Neeson will be released. Sadly, Taken 2, which finds his character Bryan Mills abducted with his wife while vacationing in Istanbul (I hear its lovely this time of year), is titled just that: Taken 2. The least the actor could’ve done for audiences disappointed with his recent roles is advocate for a sexier title or subtitle. Since he and the filmmakers behind it won’t, I will. Below are some catchier titles for what’s likely to be yet another Neeson misfire. Weigh in with your own titles as well. Comments welcomed.