Sunday, June 23, 2013

Headmaster Ritual

Summerfest in Brea

I've come to the conclusion that performing for a live audience and teaching to young adults (semi-alive) are not as different as it may seem.

In my teaching experience, there are two kinds of classes: Honors classes, in which the more eager and knowledgeable students attend and then you have the regular classes in which the students range from eager to nearly comatose in regards to their education. Both require the same end result which is that all kids are learning whatever standards are required for that grade level and hopefully having some fun along the way.
I think the same can be said of audiences. Of course, they aren't expected to learn any standards but their enthusiasm and desire to get "into it" varies. How the audience might be is slightly determined by the location and the atmosphere of the show.


In my quest to attend Morrissey-related events, I took my family to see The Sweet and Tender Hooligans (again) at a free concert at Saint Angela Merici Church in Brea for their annual church carnival. Brea is in the OC, so of course I did not want to pass up the opportunity to attend. 
This show was much different than the one I went to at the Fonda Theater. When you teach the non honors kids, you have to get in the kid's faces and try to woo them into learning. In much the same way, The Hooligans had to woo this audience.

At a free show, you don't know how much the audience knows about Morrissey or The Smiths. Just like my regular classes, you have the kids that are eager on one end of the spectrum, and then you have the kids that barely know the basics-in this case, audience members who may never have heard of The Smiths or Morrissey.

 I had my two older boys, Jovanny and Miguel with me and both of them thought the performance was fantastic, although neither one is a big Moz fan. The Hooligans pretty much wooed, courted and married the audience. I know that that is putting it simply when I am not sure how easy a task it was. 

I think its a toss of the die as a cover band when you throw a sweaty shirt to the audience. Perhaps, they will part like Moses did the Red Sea to avoid it. However, two people actually almost fought over Jose's shirt. I think that is a pretty big indicator as to how successful the show was.

Jose climbing the stage


I also attended another Sunday show the following week. This time it was NOT the Hooligans but a Morrissey cover band called Maladjusted. I've seen them twice at the Moz Convention but was so busy being a social butterfly, I did not see them long enough to write a proper blog about them.

In terms of audience, it was more of the Honors class. Less was required or expected of the band in terms of reaching out and wooing the audience. On a Sunday afternoon at 4 PM at a small bar, people don't necessarily want a singer in their face.

The band was also limited by the stage at the Slidebar (in Fullerton) because it has an iron railing around it. However, it did not stop the audience from singing along and dancing and fully enjoying themselves and the sunny atmosphere.

It was just the right tone. It was kind of family oriented. I was unable to drag my family to the show, but I still enjoyed seeing others sharing their love for Morrissey,

The singer did speak with a Northern accent (one of my pet peeves), but it was tongue-in-cheek rather than in a way that made you think, "Oh dear. He takes himself rather seriously as Moz." He also has a pleasing Morrissey voice. The band also looked like they were enjoying themselves which is important for the enjoyment of the audience.
Maladjusted at the Slidebar in Fullerton

Now, this show was also free. I think it's a great way to see a band you have never seen before. I, personally, did not have any reservations, but there are people out there who probably would be cautious about paying to see a band they had never seen before. 
Moz Family

Although both shows had vastly different atmospheres and audiences, they were entertaining and on a Sunday, perfect for the whole family.

Note: Although Morrissey is not touring in North America, it was just announced yesterday that the Hollywood High show will be released in IMAX 3D in 47 theaters across the US in August!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Bees Knees (In Defense of Tribute Bands)

Not Morrissey (It's Jose)

Morrissey is a drug.
I think you probably know what I mean. Its just that once you see him perform live, you have to go again. It becomes an addiction. And during this Morrissey drought of not playing for a few months, you have to get your fix.

This is where tribute bands come in.
May 22nd is Morrissey's birthday. For a Morrissey fan his birthday is what Christmas is for a child. I can't explain why. Its not like you get presents. But you just feel giddy and happy and perhaps try to get up to something related to Morrissey to celebrate.

Every year, The Smiths/Morrissey cover band, The Sweet and Tender Hooligans, plays somewhere on Moz's birthday. This year they played at The Fonda Theater in Hollywood. Unfortunately, it was a school night so I wisely bought tickets without consulting Roland and I think he was quite happy to go even though he knew we'd be tired the next day.( I say "wisely" since if I'd given him the chance, he'd have said no). 

Okay, I know it's not REALLY Morrissey, but its still fun. If you are somewhat snobbish about your music, you might think that the band will suck and it will be lame-to generalize. You might think of them as a cheap polyester suit. But it isn't so! And the only thing worse than being snobby about a tribute band, is BEING SNOBBY ABOUT A TRIBUTE BAND!
At the Fonda Theater May 22, 2013
While I have only merely dabbled in playing guitar, I can say that Johnny Marr's tunes are rather complicated and to reproduce his and other Morrissey collaborators' authentic sound must take a lot of tireless skill. I can also say that Jose can perform Morrissey's vocal gymnastics flawlessly.  
When you really think about it, tribute bands sacrifice a lot for the music. They are accomplished musicians and singers but because they are performing someone else's material, they sacrifice much of their own egos just for the love of the artist. I mean, why else would you be in a band? Don't people join bands because they want the women to love them and the men to want to be them? Don't they want to hear the crowd chant their names? You don't necessarily get that being in a cover band. With such a sacrifice in mind, you know that they are truly dedicated to the music.

Another important aspect is artistic representation. The first time I saw this band, I was frightened that they would try to emulate Morrissey and/or The Smiths complete with Northern accent-very scary! But not so. They are themselves. In contrast, Jose has a lot more boundless energy than Morrissey does. (Although I still love Moz and his more stoic performances). His excitement is undeniable in his performance. You sense he's truly enjoying the songs he's singing and its infectious.  

It was great to hear songs that Moz has not played live for many years such as "Sing Your Life," one of my favorites.

The band covered the wide range of Morrissey's career:

The First of the Gang to Die
Still Ill
You're Gonna Need Someone on Your Side
Irish Blood, English Heart
Jack the Ripper
What Difference Does It Make?
I've Changed My Plea to Guilty
Everyday is Like Sunday
The Boy With the Thorn in His Side
Jose with Mikey on keyboards (not my photo)
A Rush and a Push and the Land is Ours
Action is My Middle Name
How Soon is Now?
The Loop
King Leer
Sing Your Life
Hairdresser on Fire
Let Me Kiss You
Pretty Girls Make Graves
Bigmouth Strikes Again
Encore-There is a Light That Never Goes Out

A special moment was when Mikey Farrell (former Morrissey collaborator) came on stage and played keyboards with the band on a couple of the songs he wrote with Morrissey. Mikey played along with the band to, "I've Changed My Plea to Guilty," "Sweetie-Pie," "Everyday is Like Sunday," and the encore, "There is a Light That Never Goes Out."

I think the only complaint about The Sweet and Tender Hooligans came from the band themselves because the ticket prices were pretty high-it was $30 per ticket and they didn't set the higher price themselves or benefit from it. Although, it was nice knowing that part of the proceeds went to a local animal charity in honor of Morrissey. Because the price was steep, the band thought it might drive some people away, but for people like Roland and I, who just want a good night out guaranteed, it was worth it.

Seeing a tribute band can temporarily satisfy your musical fix. You just have to put aside the need to be a musical snob and sing along!

Another great shot I can't take credit for!

By the way, Morrissey recently announced confirmed dates for several shows in South America this summer. While I may still need my "fix" at least there is some hope he will be here, in North America, in the future.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

I Hoarsely Cry

Roland and I at the Moz Convention

The Smiths/Morrissey event at the Avalon was another great time. Okay, it was awhile ago, I know. But I have been trying to catch up on all the events that I have attended up to this point. I was glad that Roland came along. I've noted before how he likes The Smiths and Morrissey but he would be happy usually to simply just stay home and I don't think if you told him how awesome it was he'd really mind too much that he was at home grading papers. He's much more optimistic than I. He would probably just be content on how many school papers he'd graded or what a great movie he'd watched.
I, on the other hand, would be anxiety-ridden. Like a child who doesn't want to go to bed no matter how tired he is just so he doesn't miss anything.
I appreciate the fact that he came along. I even convinced him to sign up for the Moz Karaoke contest. He did a great job on "Interesting Drug." I am attaching a short segment of his song. Excuse the poor video quality, please.
We did not go alone. As you may know, I am an English teacher and Roland is also a teacher at high school. One of our students, who is an avid Morrissey fan, wanted to go to the convention so we offered to take him along with us.
A funny moment occurred when Elias said, "Mrs. Willoughby-Jones," to get my attention and I had to stop him and say, "We are at a club together. Please call me Andrea." I did not like the mixture of my work life with my Morrissey "life."
Another highlight was running into Ricardo who I met at the convention last year. I really wanted to chat with him more but I was kind of back and forth a lot. While I love Roland's company, I feel guilty leaving him somewhere in order to talk to the people I know when he'd rather do something else rather than tag along with me. So I had to leave Ricardo to check on Roland and when I came back to speak to Ricardo, he was gone.
Before he disappeared he told me he has read my blog but does not like the name-My Life Without Morrissey-because he thinks it sounds like I don't like Morrissey. Personally, I think its too late to change the name even if I wanted to. But I like it.

The convention is just overall a fun time to mix and mingle with other fans who are just as crazy or even more crazy than you. Its good to be among them.
I am letting my photos speak for themselves although if you know me you will recognize these shots from my Facebook page a few months ago. Hope you enjoy them.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Paint a (not so) Vulgar Picture at Moz Art

Moz Art April 16, 2013

It seems like a hundred years ago since attending this Moz-related event. It's just that it was an all-around great night. It was in East LA and I took my oldest son, Jovanny, with me since it was all ages.
Looking back on March and April and the state of things, I think its kind of sad that Morrissey seemed to be riding this wave of renewed success with the Staples Center show and then the Hollywood High show, but it just crashed down when his health betrayed him.
And where does that leave us, his fans, who were also riding that awesome wave? We are getting by. We do this by attending events such as Moz Art and seeing each other. We talk about how unreal Morrissey's last two shows in LA were and consider ourselves lucky.
They say "a picture's worth a thousand words," so today I won't say much. Just let the photos speak mostly for themselves.


I have discovered that I enjoy taking pictures of tattoos. Perhaps it stems from the fact that I don't have any myself. Sure, I could go out and get a tattoo, but it just isn't my thing. It doesn't stop me from admiring tattoos on others or else going for the old pen tattoos in their impermanence.