Last night I went to the Nine Inch Nails show at Kool Haus, with Dresden Dolls openning. I'd checked out some of the stuff on the Dresden Dolls site and wasn't really into it. some of it was ok, but other parts i thought sounded like a small child banging on a piano. not the sort of thing i was really looking forward to. however, i was pleasantly suprised by their live show. the one kid-banging-on-piano song was in there, but for the most part they were fairly decent. nothing earth shattering, but decent. the part that i found most confusing is the block of cover songs they did, taking up over a third of their set. they started with 'war pigs' by black sabbath, then went into 'amsterdam' by david bowie, and finally 'karma police' by radiohead. they were quite true to the original forms of the songs, not really putting any new twist on it. i thought the point of openning bands was to introduce the crowd to their music and get them warmed up for the headliner. they did ok in the warmup department, but doing covers just like the original isn't really going to make me want to buy a dresden dolls album, it makes me want to pull out some bowie and radiohead...

anyway, nine inch nails put on a great show. they went on at 10:05 and played non-stop for about an hour and 40 minutes, with no encores. the crowd wanted more, but i suppose after 1:40 you've had your money's worth. i know i wasn't complaining. song selection was great, playing a good mix from their catalog. i expected to hear more from 'with teeth', but wasn't too upset that they only played a few. it's not a bad album, and certainly has some great songs, but overall i find it a bit weak. of course, he ended up playing some of the songs i'm least into, but who knows. the new single, 'the hand that feeds', was pretty great live. trent was pretty quiet, with only a few 'thank you's between songs, but the band seemed to be having a good time, and the crowd was definitely into it. fairly early in the show (i think during 'march of the pigs') trent even jumped out onto the crowd. kind of fun. only part that sucked was that it was pretty damn warm in the venue, but that's to be expected when you cram that many people in.

here's the setlist:

the frail
the wretched
you know what you are
march of the pigs
the line begins to blur
piggy
terrible lie
burn
closer
reptile
the big come down
gave up
the day the whole world went away
suck
even deeper
wish
hurt
the hand that feeds
starfuckers, inc
head like a hole

i'll be back at Kool Haus for Coldplay tonight, so i'll try and post a setlist tomorrow. i'm going to try and bring my camera tonight, so i might have some photos too. stay tuned!

May 8, 2005

beer! - beer

decided to add a 'beer' category. seemed like a good idea since it does occupy alot of my time...

last weekend a few of the biergotter guys got together and did some brewing. it was a fruit-beer day. Jay W wanted to repeat the apple ale that he'd tried to do in waterloo, Jay C was interested in experimenting with a pineapple ale, and I was aiming for a repeat of the wonderful raspberry porter that Jay C and I had made when we were roommates back in undergrad. We had made a porter or two at that point and they'd turned out well, so we decided to slightly modify the recipe and add some raspberry concentrate. the result was fantastic. a nice subtle raspberry flavor that only got better with age. unfortunately, it was so good it didn't last that long.

in the approximately 8-10 years since we brewed that batch i've thought of it often. when we formed the biergotter homebrew club and started brewing again last fall it once again came to mind. we brewed a bunch of batches in waterloo (including a repeat of the old "sweet johnny porter"), but unfortunately the water in waterloo is so bad that all of the beers were tainted with an awful chemically smell and were undrinkable. it was as if someone had poured nail polish remover into the beer. just nasty. this caused us to take a bit of a hiatus from brewing while we regrouped and decided on the best place to resume operations.

earlier this year my friend Tim started expressing interest in joining the homebrew fun and offered his place as somewhere to brew. As he's also in the GTA it was convenient for both Jay C and myself, so we headed over one cold and rainy saturday to brew up a couple batches. on the menu was an american style IPA and another stout (we made one in waterloo). brewing went fairly well and this past tuesday we headed back over to Tim's and bottled up our creations. The yield was 15 bottles of each batch for each of us. we sampled them in their un-carbonated form and were impressed. I'm looking forward to giving them a try. I'll probably crack one opened on tuesday, but don't really expect them to be fully carbonated until next week.

during the time that i was in minnesota, the jay's had been doing some all grain brewing down in windsor. after the failures in waterloo we decided to try doing a few batches in windsor. it's not as convenient for us toronto area people, but as we have friends and family in windsor we end up there fairly often. so last weekend we resumed operations at Jay W's house. The first batch was Jay C's pineapple ale. we decided to go with steeping the pineapple for 30 min after the boil. since we've got lots of equipment down there we started my raspberry porter going in parallel. i'd picked up 6.5 pounds of frozen raspberries from m & m, so i went with the 30min steep after the boil too. in my case we were aiming for more of a 'brown porter' than a 'robust porter' so that the raspberry would show through nicer. it was neat because it looked like i was going to have a nice brown colour, but once the raspberries went in it took on a definite red hue. even the head looks to have a red tint to it. it's been happily fermenting away since last saturday and i'm definitely looking forward to when i get to try it out. It's going to go into bottles too, but i'm still considering building a counter pressure bottle filler and throwing it into the keg first. that means i'll need to get a co2 tank and all that, but it also puts me on my way towards a keg fridge. (Rob and the Jays all have keg setups, so i'm a bit behind the curve in that respect, but its mostly due to lack of space in our current apartment. once we end up in a larger place i'm hoping to pick up a cheap fridge and put in a tap or two. should be neat)

the last batch of the day was Jay W's apple ale. he decided to go with baking the apples and then adding them to the primary fermenter. he also managed to forget his final round of hops, so it looks like he's going to dry hop too. looking forward to seeing how this one turns out. the attempt in waterloo was crazy as it was crystal clear. usually our beers are on the darker side and sometimes take a while to clear up. we were all amazed at how quickly the apple ale cleared up and its nice light color. hoping the same happens with this batch. we had a bit of a scare initially. 48 hours after pitching the yeast there was still no sign of bubbling in our airlocks. fortunatley, when jay got in that night he saw that there was foam leaking out from around the edges of the lid. looks like the yeast were working just great, except he didn't have a perfect seal on the fermenter. he got it sealed after this and everything seems to be working well now.

only drawback to this session was that we broke our reliable old hydrometer. we have a backup, but it was not balanced too well and didn't seem to be working reliably. we confirmed this on Tuesday when we tried to get final gravity readings on the beers at Tim's place. it was reading far too high, so we're not going to be quite sure on the alcohol contents of the batches we've done using it, but we'll pick up a replacement and be back to normal in no time.

I've been keeping setlists for shows that I go to for a while now with the intention of putting them online, so I'm finally getting around to doing this.

Went and saw Garbage last night, with Dead Sixties opening. The opener was ok, but a bit dull. there was a stretch of about 10-15 minutes where it seemed like the same song repeated with different lyrics. it all sounded really familiar, like they could have been a clash/specials/etc cover band. they weren't bad, just not that exciting. perhaps just not quite my cup of tea. Garbage, on the other hand, were awesome. the band sounded great, and Shirley was a laugh. she had lots of banter with the crowd between songs and seemed to be having a really good time. towards the end of the show (i think it was mind-encore) someone in a chicken costume came out on stage with a cake for the bassist as it was his birthday. Shirley sang happy birthday, but then insisted that they needed to do it again because she needed Butch to do the harmony with her. As they tried to start the next song (cherry lips if i remember right) Shirley was still laughing so much that she was messing up the lyrics and made the band start over once she had composed herself. Before they restarted and mid-way through the song she was asking for the chicken to come back out on stage because she wanted to dance with him, but he never came back out. they finished off their set with the crowd still begging for another encore.

Here's the setlist from the show:

intro - hurt by nine inch nails, as covered by johnny cash
queer
bad boyfriend
supervixen
stupid girl
sex is not the enemy
hammering in my head
when i grow up
vow
bleed like me
i think i'm paranoid
push it
only happy when it rains
you look so fine *
why do you love me

metal heart
cherry lips go baby go
right between the eyes

the story behind the *: through the show there was someone in the audience, center stage about 25-30 feet back, that was holding up a small sign. it looked like the ripped the cover off a spiral notebook, so it was about the size of a standard letter sized page. they had something written on it, but who knows what. At this point Shirley made a comment about not being able to see because of her contacts being foggy, so she asked them to hand the sign forward so she could read it. she apologized and said that, unfortunately, since they have a new bass player they couldn't play "you look so fine" since he doesn't know it. She also joked that she probably couldn't even remember the words. She suggested that if Duke could give her a chord she might be able to sing a bit of it, so with a really basic guitar part and simple drum line keeping time she broke into a mostly a capella version of the song. she was kind of laughing and making up most of the words, joking that she couldn't rhyme this line and that one. it was pretty funny and the crowd loved it.

I'm adding some "past" entries with setlists for some other shows (matthew good, social distortion, skinny puppy, pixies, queens of the stone age), so check those out if you're interested. I'll try to add entries on time for future shows...

here's the setlist for the Queens of the Stone Age show at Kool Haus on March 30, 2005. I was standing beside the sound board for this show and could see a setlist that they had out on the board, but they didn't quite follow it. songs with a "+" were added in although not on the setlist, and songs with a "-" were on the setlist but not played. Regardless, they played for almost two hours, so it was a great show.

intro - who's afraid of the big bad wolf
someone's in the wolf
feel good hit of the summer
the lost art of keeping a secret
+medication
you would know
broken box
lego
covered in punks blood
little sister
hanging tree
in my head
blood is love
god is in the radio
burn the witch
-first it giveth
song for the deaf
song for the dead
you got a killer scene there man
monsters in the parasol
tangled up in plaid
-go with the flow
i think i lost my headache

long slow goodbye
+no one knows
-precious and grace
-regular john

January 18, 2005

MMIV - life

ah 2004, where did it go?

It seems like I just blinked and it was the beginning of march and I was getting that email from IBM asking about my availability for a phone interview. That started the great rollercoaster that brings me to where I am today. I covered the interviewing process in other entries. The process of finding an apartment and moving was a long and painful process that I'd planned to write a lengthy entry on and have a good rant about my experience with Dada Destinations. I never seemed to find the time to write that entry, and at this point I'm over it. I was very unhappy with Dada. They were pretty much useless. The best thing they did was push me off on someone else. At the time this was inconvenient as they screwed up my house hunting trip by forcing me to search on different days (AFTER I had bought my plane tickets and travelled to Toronto). However, I could not have been happier with the service I got from Gordon Chan and Oksana Krupa at Prudential Elite Realty TW. Gordon and Oksana were only helping us to find an apartment (and thus getting a very small commission of a half months rent), but they dedicated so much time to this that I can't recommend them strongly enough. They rock.

Once we'd found a place to live, the rest was a bit of a whirlwind. The move itself went GREAT. There were three companies that did quotes for our move (including packing up our apartment, transporting it from MN to Toronto, and unpacking it all at the new location), and it was awarded to Taylor Moving and Storage. When we were getting the quotes we were told things like "7-21 days" at worst and "8-10 days" at best for travel time between MN and TO, but when I talked to Taylor they said they were sending a truck down to pack us up and bring everything up themselves, so the travel time would be 2 days. The guys had it a bit rough with the long carry between our apartment and the truck when they loaded up, but I guess that Karma was on their side because they were able to back right up to the patio door at our new place and go straight from the truck to our living room. That was July 2nd.

A few days later I reported for my first day of orientation. The first week was general orientation at the main office, then a partial day at the software lab. Thats when the real fun started. I joined the Backup and Recovery team and jumped into code almost right away. Since then it's been a bit of a blur. Lots of interesting things to learn, and fun projects to work on. My team is small (4 full time staff, currently one student) and easy to get along with. I'm enjoying it a lot.

Aside from work, life has been great. It's good to be back in Canada, and we're happy to be back close to friends and family. I've seen a bunch of concerts (The Cure in august, Matthew Good and Social Distortion in October, Skinny Puppy and The Pixies in November), a couple of basketball games (Toronto Raptors vs. Minnesota Timberwolves in December, Toronto Raptors vs. Sacramento Kings in January), and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra performing the Lord of the Rings Symphony. We love our apartment in Richmond Hill and are very happy here. We've had lots of guests dropping in, including syx and heather at the end of july, Jenn's friend Julie from Calgary a few times, my aunt Pam and her partner Nat a couple of times, and Jenn's family a bunch of times. We hosted Thanksgiving dinner for the first time which was great, and quietly celebrated our first anniversary after everyone left town. I celebrated my 30th birthday labour day weekend and had a bunch of people over for a BBQ and some beer. The theme of the evening was to celebrate all the great beer being brewed in the area, and we had a fine assortment to choose from as everyone brought their favorites.

I've also started brewing beer again. Back during my undergrad I was brewing beer with my friends Jason Cross and Jason Wintermute. In September we setup shop at my friend Rob LeGood's place in Waterloo and officially became the Biergotter Homebrew Club. We brewed 4 batches in September and another 6 in November. Unfortunately, it seems like the water in Waterloo isn't useable for brewing. Every batch we've made has had a distinct "metallic" or "chemically" smell and taste. We're working to find out if there's anything we can do to resolve this, and the fine folks at the Region of Waterloo Water Services have even volunteered to check out samples of 4 recent batches of beer and a tap water sample to see if they can identify anything there. We figured at best we'd be getting a copy of a recent water analysis for the region, so we're quite happy with how much help they've offered. We're pretty confident that the issue is the water, as there was no other common element between all 10 batches. There have been many different styles, different strains of yeast, different specialty grains, and even things like our pale malt have come from different suppliers in different cities. We've done brewing in different cities in the past and never had any problem like this. We're planning on trying a test batch using bottled water, so hopefully we'll get this sorted out soon.

Well, I think that wraps up the major events of 2004. Stay tuned for more updates in 2005.

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