Saturday, October 28, 2017

Concert Report: Otherwise/10 Years/Red

Over the last couple of years, I've made an effort to see as many of my favorite bands in concert as possible. Now is a great time to be a music lover because with the economics of music distribution being what it is, most bands make their money not from CD sales or iTunes downloads, but from tours. So for those of us who enjoy smaller bands, seeing them live is not only possible but essential. We get a great experience, and our favorite musicians make enough dough to pay for those fancy tour buses. Win-win.

Red, an Christian alternative metal band who had long been on my must-see list, was the headliner and the main draw for me, although the fans standing on line waiting for the doors to open seemed to be equally split between all three performers. And in truth, all of them were very much worth seeing.

Otherwise, the first act of the show, did what most openers are meant to do, namely warm up the crowd for the bigger acts. I was less familiar with their songs (Soldiers is probably the one best known to regular listeners of SiriusXM Octane station), but enjoyed the performance nevertheless just because of their high energy level and interacting with the crowd.

10 Years is, in my opinion, a somewhat under-rated band, and they definitely are worth seeing live. Most of their songs sound fairly sedate when played on the radio, in part because of the smooth vocals of the lead singer. Their live sound is much harder, which helps drive home the often edgy and disturbing lyrics that tackle subjects ranging from drug use to suicide to the dark side of the entertainment industry. (Listening to Beautiful in light of the latest revelations regarding Hollywood was a somewhat surreal experience.)

Finally, the headliner performance by Red was nothing short of amazing, especially considering the small size of the venue that did not allow for much in terms of pyrotechnics. I appreciated the balance between covering the old-time favorites like Feed the Machine, Faceless and Release the Panic along with a substantial sampling from their new album Gone. This band, as many of the type, is huge on audience interaction. If you know the lyrics of their popular songs, chances are pretty good that in a small venue you'll get to sing a line or two into the live microphone.

And now comes the real reason I decided to blog about going to a concert. After it was over, my husband and I went to the garage to get out car, and right there, standing on line with the claim ticket, was Adrian Patrick, the lead singer from Otherwise. He was gracious enough to pose for pictures (as you will see in my slide show) before loading his toddler in the car and driving off with his family. While the prima donnas like Bruce Springsteen think nothing of dissing the fans who pay hard-earned money to see them, there are many hard working up-and-coming musicians out there who appreciate each and every fan and go an extra mile to make them happy. It's definitely something to consider the next time you think of how to spend whatever time and money you have allocated towards entertainment.

I hope you check out these bands' albums, or better yet, take your time to see them on tour.
Maybe my little slide show will serve to convince you. Enjoy.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Coming Nov. 8 in MAGA 2020 and Beyond: Exile, a Short Story

When I first heard of a pro-Trump anthology intended to show the bright side of Trump’s election, I was curious about the concept, but had no thought of contributing. For one, stories of a great future are hard to write. There is less conflict in a utopia. Typically, positive future stories tend to be science fiction, with Star Trek being probably the prime example. The appeal of Star Trek at its best comes from the sense of wonder and adventure, and the conflict, when it happens, is usually external in nature, be it hostile aliens or technical difficulties.The Federation is essentially a utopia, but the show doesn't linger on the details. If someone decided to tell a story of the greatness of life in The Federation, it would likely be a snooze fest.

Add to it the fact that I am a dystopian author, and you can see why I initially scrolled on by when the submission call came across my Facebook feed.

But then, as I suppose is the case with many speculative fiction writers, I started thinking of the “what if.”

What if a group of hardcore Trump opponents decided to separate themselves from the society, not through a secession that created two side-by-side states, but by entirely cutting themselves off? (Think the Galt’s Gulch, but populated by… let’s just say they’re not the Randian hero types). No flow of information. No knowledge whether Trump’s policies succeeded. As the first generation dies off, even stories of the past are fading. The outside might be great, or it might be an Apocalyptic wasteland where people starve in the streets. The only way to know is to leave, but there is no coming back.

What would you do?

Sure, your life isn’t great. Work is hard. Food is limited. There is no privacy. Government officials watch your every move.

So leaving is a no-brainer, then?


You have a job. A place to live. Food. Friendship. Respect. It’s not much, but it’s a life.

Do you throw it all away and venture into the unknown?

And just like that, it’s not so simple, is it?

As an immigrant whose family waited for permission to leave the Soviet Union for ten years, let me tell you: it’s really not. When that final moment comes, when you realize all you’re giving up, when you suddenly remember the little things about your life that you do like… No matter how motivated you are, the doubt will be there.

Conversely, what if you were content to stay? How would you react to someone who wanted to leave? Would you feel worried, angry, betrayed, or some combination of both? Would you try to stop them?

And so, I had enough questions in my mind to write a story of almost 6,000 words called Exile. I hope you enjoy the result.