Thursday, February 14, 2008

Country time/R&B face

Last night L and I celebrated Valentines' Day early by going to the Keith Urban/Carrie Underwood concert at Madison Square Garden. It was a great time -- Keith definitely has a rocker sensibility about him, so the evening was punctuated with a lot of guitar solos and people rushing to his side to switch guitars and him swinging guitars around him as he ran across the stage. For a while he and his band used a more intimate little stage in the center of the arena, which was great and brought him much closer to us, in our seats in the absolute rear of the arena, right in front of the wall. I found I actually enjoyed his ballads more than his up-tempo stuff, which sort of sounded all the same to me. But at one point an entire drumline called the Hawthorne Caballeros came out to punch up one song with some strong percussion and syncopation, which was a thrill.

Carrie Underwood looked extremely good and sang pretty well too. She has some room to grow with her audience banter, but her voice was amazingly strong and she really wailed the hell out of a few songs, in a way that was beautiful and controlled and mesmerizing.

Overall the night had a few moments where we were up on our feet dancing and clapping, listening to Keith or Carrie sing about the simple joys of life with that fundamental optimism that you only find in country music, and you really did feel a wave of happiness touch you oh so briefly -- which made the night definitely worth the price of admission. And, it was the whitest crowd I have ever seen gathered in this great city of ours.

The other musical thing I wanted to note this week: after enjoying an episode of MTV's "Making the Band 4" the other night, I downloaded the band's main single from last season, "Exclusive," and let me say that I love it. I already know the lyrics from watching them on tv, which means I can sing or lip-sync along with a very emotive expression on my face. I've already figured out how to do emo eyebrows, which is good when you're singing sensitive white boy songs, which requires you to arch your eyebrows in the center and keep a pained expression on your face. R&B eyebrows are pretty similar; just keep your brow furrowed and your lips loose, make sure you follow the runs and ad-libs, and emote the hell out of the song. This track, from a band that was made purposely for television, is excellent for that, and I love it. But that's why they made the band, y'all.

And tomorrow (actually in eight hours) we're going to Florida for the long weekend. See you later, alligator.

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