Tuesday, 18 December 2012

REVIEW: Soil/Fozzy @ Szene, Vienna 12.12.12

And so it came to pass that the final gig of my epic gig going month arrived, and it was a mixed bag. You might notice from the title that there is a band missing. Sadly Breed 77 had to pull out of the tour, missing the last three dates, which sucked. I don't actually think I've been that disappointed since Jonathan Davies fell ill at Download 2006 and couldn't make Korn's set. I was so hyped up for seeing B77!
Anyway, I was there, and I had a ticket, so the show must go on right? I was quite looking forward to seeing Soil, I'd seen them once before (ironically at Download 2006, maybe they are a bad luck charm?) and what Fozzy I've listened to over the last couple of weeks I've liked, so, may as well enjoy it!
So, beer in hand, I made my way to the front of the pretty sparse crowd. Szene is a pretty small venue, not as small as Flex where I saw Lacuna Coil though. It wasn't a bad atmosphere but it obviously wasn't sold out and that was a bit of a shame.
Fozzy were first up. I had no preconceptions of the band, which was an interesting position to be in. I was incredibly curious to see what Chris Jericho would be like on stage, given that he's a wrestler and all. My first impressions were that he was a bit swaggery, and a bit arrogant. Don't get me wrong, he's got a decent voice and the whole band are great, but his wrestling past does sort of come across. This is more than likely a hang over from their origins as a mock rock band, but you know, they dropped the act a few years ago. 

However, after a little while Chris Jericho did something which put him waaaay up in my estimations: he did a little call and response from Queen's Live Killers album (which happens to be my favourite Queen album)! OK, he's no Freddie but I did a little squee when I heard it!
Overall the whole set was ace, it's fun, swagger rock which I keep finding stuck in my head!
Soil. What do I say about Soil? I love them. And I can't believe how long it is since Scars came out! I've always had a running joke about always hearing "Halo" at 1am, which makes that Soil time, but sadly with this gig Halo happened at about 11pm.
I was right at the front for this set, the only person in front of me was a girl with long hair that she kept flicking in my face! Anyway, such is the way of the gig. 

Most of the songs they played were off their first couple of albums, plus Drowning Pool's "37 Stitches" from singer Ryan McCombs' stint in that band.
By far and away the best moment was Halo, which began with McCombs singing but nowhere to be seen onstage. At the indication of the rest of the band we all turned around to see McCombs in the middle of the crowd. And there he stayed, while we all had a sing a long with him. Fucking Awesome.
They finished up with Ram Jam's Black Betty, a personal fave of mine because my Dad always used to play it in the car, which was pretty amazing.
My initial crushing disappointment at Breed 77 not being there soon gave way to elation at the great music I got to see. All in all, a fantastic night! 

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Conjunctivitis sucks

I haven't had conjunctivitis since I was a kid. I've been a contact lens wearer for 14 years and haven't had a single bout since then either. I'm good with eye hygiene.

But still, this week, I have been relegated to wearing my glasses (which weren't purchased with lots of wear in mind so don't have non reflective lenses) due to contracting a bout of viral conjunctivitis.

So, what is conjunctivitis?

Basically the conjunctiva is the lining of your eyelids and your eyeball. It is a thin membrane which is normally clear. If it becomes irritated for some reason, that is conjunctivitis. Or Pink Eye as it is often called, because of the colour the eyeball. Nearly all conjunctivitis comes with some form of itching and/or a gritty feeling in the eye.

Now there are different types of conjunctivitis and not all of them are long lasting or contagious.

Allergic conjunctivitis and irritant conjunctivitis are both caused by something in the eye, in the former it is usually something like pollen and usually gets lumped in with hayfever, and in the case of the latter, it could be a bug, or a splinter, or something chemical that may have gotten into your eye. Those types are often short lived, usually as long as the irritant or allergen is present.

Please note, if you suspect you have something in your eye which you can't get out, or you've gotten chemicals into your eye, you are best seeing a medical professional for treatment.

The other types of conjunctivitis are contagious, and they are: bacterial, viral or chlamydial. Bacterical conjunctivitis is usually characterised by yellow or green discharge and not being able to open your eyes in the morning. This can be caused by all sorts of things, including catching it from someone else as it is HIGHLY contagious. I remember having it as a kid and it spreading around classrooms like wildfire because small children don't understand that they have to wash their hands after they touch their eyes when they have it. Thankfully it is easily treatable and often only needs some over the counter eye drops. If in doubt, do see a doctor.

Viral conjunctivitis is quite common, and is usually caused by sinusitis or a bad cold. This is what I've had. I came back from Amsterdam with a bit of a bunged up head and suddenly it is sinusitis and I've got pink eye. This type doesn't always come with many symptoms, just the redness and maybe a little grey or white discharge, maybe verging on snot colour. As with most viral things, there isn't really much you can do, so saline eye baths regularly are the best thing, just to keep the eye clean and free from anything yucky. I've read timescales for clearing up ranging from 2 days to 2 weeks, so I guess it depends on the severity and how long the virus wants to stick around for!! You can also bathe your eyes with tea, either black or chamomile, mixed with a little sea salt. Make sure it has cooled first and don't brew it too strong! It is very soothing and the tea helps contract the bits that let the virus into your eyes in the first place. I still have the redness, and I'm on day 5. It has almost gone but when I look in my eye I can still see a little irritation in the very corner of my eye wherer the lower lid meets my eyeball.

I have no idea about Chlamydial Conjunctivitis - the pictures on the internet looked nasty, and you definitely don't want it. Not that anyone wants chlamydia either, so try and avoid both.... Safe sex people!

The important thing with bacterial and viral conjunctivitis is that it is contagious. So that means: no sharing towels, pillows or anything else that touches your face. Wash your hands every time you touch your eyes, with no exceptions. Do not touch anything else.

If you wear contact lenses, stop wearing them, and you will need a new pair of lenses when it is safe to start wearing them again (wait 24 hours after your symptoms have gone fully).

Also, make up is not a good idea. If you applied any make up after the start of the infection (sometimes eyes just get bloodshot and it isn't anything), then sharpen pencils, clean brushes thoroughly with anti bacterial cleanser, spray your eyeshadows and any powder products with an alcohol based hygiene spray (you want one ideally that can deal with the flu). It would also be wise to spray your brushes with the spray too. Throw out your mascara (that is a pain in the backside, especially if yours is new, like mine was). If you don't do these things, you will keep reinfecting yourself.

Most importantly, if your symptoms get worse, or don't seem to be getting any better, or if you are in any doubt whatsoever, go and see your doctor, or at the very least a pharmacist.

REVIEW: Papa Roach/Stone Sour @ Wiener Gasometer 30.11.2012

Papa Roach are my gateway band. There, I've said it. I got into metal properly because of Papa Roach. And then there is a whole load of bullshit attached to my love of their first three albums that I don't really like to think about, and consequently I haven't really listened to them much in the last few years. I've seen Papa Roach live a few times now, mainly at festivals and I caught the end of their set when they opened for Disturbed a couple of years ago.

So, I wasn't desperate to get to the gig in time for their show, but we did, and I enjoyed it. No matter what you think about Papa Roach, I think they were one of the better of the late crop of nu-metal bands that hit the scene in the early 2000s. And they have certainly managed to endure the demise of nu-metal, seemingly constantly reinventing themselves to please audiences whilst still retaining an element of why we loved them in the first place (typing that did make me feel old though).

During their set they ripped through a load of new stuff, which I didn't know, but nodded along to nonetheless. For me the highlights were obviously tracks like "Getting Away With Murder", "Scars", "Deadcell", "Between Angels and Insects" and of course, perennial set finale "Last Resort". Mainly because I could sing along to them! As ever I was impressed at their stamina, and the showmanship of Jacoby Shaddix, who had throat surgery earlier this year. The audience sang every note in unison with the band, particularly on the more well known tracks. It wasn't quite the same as being among thousands of people at Download singing along to "Last Resort" (particularly the lad with a strong Yorkshire accent stood behind me - go on, imagine that!), but it was pretty impressive.

After a quick set change and a second beer, it was time for the main event, the one that everyone had been waiting for. Let me tell you this - Vienna LOVES Stone Sour. At every pause, where the singer usually has a bit of banter with the crowd, the crowd just cheered. Obviously I don't know Corey Taylor personally, but through his books and his twitter he comes across as a nice bloke, and he looked genuinely overwhelmed at the audience reaction to his mere presence on stage.

This was another set full of audience participation. The new album has only been out for little over a month now, but everyone knew every fucking word of every song they played off House of Gold and Bones Part 1 and they sang them loud (me included - speaking is a little difficult today)!

The show opened with the first segment of HOGaB, the intro, "Gone Sovereign" and "Absolute Zero" and it is perfectly understandable why. The two tracks were streaming on their website in advance of the album release and have generated a lot of love across the world. I always say it, there is something utterly special about being in a crowd of thousands singing along to the songs of your favourite artists - it gives me chills.

As it is the 10th anniversary of Stone Sour, the band played a few tracks of that album, which all happened to be my favourites... "Orchids", "Get Inside" and "Blotter" all made an appearance, as well as "Bother". Although Corey reminding us that it is 10 years since the first album was released didn't help me with the feeling old part... 

I think one of the best moments was Corey singing "Bother". It is such a gorgeous song, everyone sang along and in all the pauses he was cheered so much he had to stop playing! Right at  the end of the song where there is a vocal split, he sang the main line and the crowd sang the split bit (you know the bit I mean right?) and he stopped and looked like he might burst with pride at any moment! Just beautiful.

 Corey did say he was fighting off a throat infection, but apart from the odd moment you really couldn't tell, and his voice is just phenomenal (and when he talks he sounds like what I think my favourite chocolate would sound like if it could talk).

The energy in the crowd was phenomenal, and you couldn't help but be infected by it. We were stood quite far back (which wasn't that far, the Gasometer is quite shallow but wide) in front of the sound booth (always one of my fave spots at a gig) and the energy go us all that way back. Even The Beard was displaying a level of outward enthusiasm not usually seen from him at gigs! There was even some jumping, and I am pretty sure I jumped on someones foot - if I did, and it was you, I hope your foot is ok, and please accept my sincere apologies!

Full set list (via setlist.fm)

1. Gone Sovereign
2. Absolute Zero
3. Mission Statement
4. Hell and Consequences
5. Orchids
6. Made of Scars
7. Rumor of Skin
8. Reborn
9. RU486
10. Say You'll Haunt Me
11. Digital
12. Get Inside
13. Bother (preceded by Alice in Chains 'Nutshell' first verse and chorus)
14. Through Glass
15. Blotter
16. 30/30-150

I have noticed that bands seems to be doing less in the way of traditional encores these days - maybe that is just a thing here on the Continent. I'm used to bands delaying their return to stage while the crowd hypes up. Mind you, the crowd really didn't need much in the way of hyping up!!

It was a fantastic night, and Corey did say that Stone Sour would be coming back with this tour as it is a long one spanning both album releases (HOGaB Part 2 is due out in late Spring 2013 I believe), so you can bet your ass I'll be there for part 2!!


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