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September 30, 2009

A free screening of Michael Moore's "Captialism: A Love Story"

michael mooreWanna see a free screening of Michael Moore's new documentary "Capitalism: A Love Story" at 7 p.m. tomorrow at The Charles?

I'll bet you do.

What do you have to do to get in?

I'll tell you what you have to do. But you have to do it today.

Just e-mail alliedbalt@gmail.com with your info, and they'll get you on the list (while supplies last). But -- and this is important -- you have to RSVP today.

So do it! 

(AP photo)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 3:55 PM | | Comments (24)
        

Concert review: U2 at FedEx Field

u2, bono Subtlety has never been one of U2's strong points.

Dublin's finest have almost always been about big -- from their catalog of arena anthems to their unabashed pleas for world peace. Does U2's 360 Degrees tour, which made a stop at FedEx Field last night, have one of the biggest stage setups in the history of live music? Of course it does.

In fact, if you ask lead singer Bono, the foursome has transcended band status altogether.

"The nation state that is U2 is a global force -- yet, a democracy," he told the crowd last night.

Sure, sure, Bono. Now you put those light purple shades back on and sing us another song. Because when U2 wants to rock, U2 rocks. "Beautiful Day" was about as epic as epic gets -- except, of course, until they played the even bigger, bolder "Where The Streets Have No Name."

For better or worse, the show itself was, at times, so excessive it was surreal ...

The production, which reportedly cost a whopping $40 million and takes roadies three days to break down, transport and set up again, was one of the wildest things I've ever seen at a show.

The round stage sat underneath this giant, futuristic, four-pronged claw. Directly above the stage was a circular video screen which expanded vertically and contracted again several times over the course of the night. A couple mechanized bridges let the band members walk out to a narrow outer platform that ringed the stage.

u2, the edgeThere was Bono, clad in all black, preening and preaching about global democracy and the fight against AIDs while standing in the middle of this evil-looking artifice. All the posturing and technological wizardry aside, U2 put on one of the best rock shows you'll see today.

The genius of The Edge is that even though he blankets his guitar work in reverb, echo and delay, he still sounds organic. Whether plucked or strummed, his notes rang out and filled FedEx Field like few guitarists could.

U2's two-and-a-half hour show was heavy on songs from their latest album, "No Line on the Horizon," which is one of their least commercially successful efforts yet. Though the single "Get On Your Boots" is far from being one of U2's best, live, it had spunk. And "I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight" worked much better recast as a disco tune.

The night's most poignant moments came when the band dipped a little deeper into its songbook. Drummer Larry Mullen Jr.'s snare cracked like gunshots on "Sunday Bloody Sunday," and bassist Adam Clayton's notes were thick and fuzzy on "New Years Day."

Here's a technical question: When the video screen crept downward to form a cylinder just a few feet above the band members' heads, could the folks on the top tiers see the musicians?

Bono tossed out teases of songs such as "Blackbird" and "Stand By Me" sporadically through the set, and sang a verse of "Amazing Grace" near the end of the show.

U2's performance ended with not one but two encores, in which Bono emerged wearing a jacket that emitted miniature laser-like beams of red light, and sang into a glowing microphone that hung from the rafters. He spoke-sang his way through most of "With or Without You," and closed out the night with the slow ballad "Moment of Surrender." That last song drug on for too long -- a poor choice to wrap up an otherwise bombastic show.

"Don't forget about us, now," Bono asked the crowd near the end of the night.

Don't worry, Bono. We won't.

(AP photos)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:06 AM | | Comments (72)
Categories: Concert reviews
        

Concert review: Lady Gaga at DAR Constitution Hall

lady gaga

John-John Williams IV was at last night's Lady Gaga show at DAR Constitution Hall. Here are his thoughts:

Lady Gaga knows how to put on a show -- when she's on stage. Too bad she makes her fans wait an hour and a half for an hour performance with no encore.

That's right: At her DAR Constitution Hall show last night, there was no opening act, an hour-long performance by Lady Gaga and no encore. But like I said, when she's on stage, she's one heck of a performer.

The minute the curtain dropped, revealing Lady Gaga dressed in a geometric, glittery metallic dress with an Anna Wintour blonde and pink bob, she had the crowd's attention.

Gaga launched into her hit single "Paparazzi," working the screaming fans by screaming "D.C." and flashing the middle finger at the end of the song.

It quickly became apparent that Lady Gaga is more than just a shiny pop package. She’s a phenomenal performer with a myriad of tricks up her haute coutured sleeves. She's a great singer, pianist, and showman too: She was tickling the ivories while squatting on the piano bench in heels ...

A little later, Gaga bounced up on top of the bench and bent down to plink a couple notes. She also threw her foot up onto the keys at one point and played some more.

You know Lady Gaga's over-the-top persona has been carefully calculated. And you know she's a bit of a thrill-seeking attention whore. But all that doesn't matter. The girl can flat out sing. She's got raw singing power a la Kelly Clarkson and swagger like Pink.

It's hard to think of a recent dance music artist who has been more successful. And other than Gwen Stefani and Fergie, I can't think of another white songstress who is able to make such a seamless cross-over into hip-hop. (Just ask Kanye West, who she will be touring with this fall.)

Last night, Lady Gaga told the crowd that she was a problem child who has grown into a woman who only wants to make her father proud. She also told the crowd that her father was scheduled to have open heart surgery, a revelation that was really unexpected and well received by the audience, who yelled words of encouragement. 

"You be good to your mom and dad," she later told her fans. (You don't hear that everyday -- especially from a sexed-up pop starlet.)

Lady Gaga also knows where a big chunk of her fan base lies -- with the gays!

Unlike some artists who shy away from the major elephant in the room -- Beyonce for one -- Lady Gaga acknowledges her dedicated fans. During more than one interview I've heard Lady Gaga give shout outs to her same-sex loving followers. And during last night's concert, she dedicated the song "Boys, Boys, Boys" to her gay fans who are "there for me" and "tell me when I suck," she told the audience, which drove them into frenzied cheers.

From the beginning, Lady Gaga wanted her fans to know of her fashionista tendencies. The words "Haus of Gaga" and "Candy Worhol" flashed onto a cloth screen. The videos shown throughout her performance were reminiscent of scenes from an ultra-eccentric fashion show. (Think Jean-Paul Gaultier.)

I was surprised she was as reserved as she was with her outfits. After the MTV Music Video Awards where she had a number of costume changes that included what appeared to be a bird’s nest on her face and homage to the abominable snowman, I expected more of the same. Instead there were only about four real wardrobe changes. Most of them looked like they had been salvaged from the movie "Flash Gordon." (I could have done without her bubble dress. Complete. Disaster.)

I have to admit, when I first saw Lady Gaga perform last summer on an episode of "So You Think You Can Dance," I was convinced that she was simply a studio voice with a manufactured look. I have since rethought my stance on her voice. It’s fantastic by today’s standards. All that she really needs to work on is her timing. A 90-minute wait for an hour-long show is as over-the-top as she is. Maybe a (fashionable) alarm clock might help.

(AP photo)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:02 AM | | Comments (14)
Categories: Concert reviews
        

September 29, 2009

Van Morrison to perform at Meyerhoff Symphony Hall

van morrisonLegendary singer and songwriter Van Morrison (pictured) will perform at the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall on Tuesday, Oct. 27.

Tickets for the show will go on sale at 10 a.m. this Friday.

However, I heard through the grapevine that if you're a big Van the Man fan, you're going to want to get on the 9:30 Club mailing list.

The show is being promoted by the same folks who book the 9:30 Club, and from time to time, the folks on their mailing list get first dibs at tickets.

I'm not entirely sure if that's going to be the case with this show or not. But it's better to be safe than sorry.

So if you want a shot at good seats, get on the list.

(Photo by Getty Images)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:53 AM | | Comments (4)
        

Owl Meat's Tipsy Tuesdays: 'Toy Story' meets 'Barfly'

bar warsWhat happens after last call? Owl Meat has a few ideas. Here he is:

This was inspired by witnessing an older man order a Pink Squirrel for himself at a bar. Sometimes we judge people by what they drink, sometimes unfairly. Seriously dude, a Pink Squirrel? Sadly, I had to tell the bartender how to make it (light cream, white crème de cacao, crème de noyaux).

Jim Beam: Whatcha doin' here, Pink Squirrel?

Pink Squirrel: Someone finally ordered me last night. I've been so lonely, Jimmy.

Jack Daniels: Put a cork in it. No one wants to hear your belly-aching, you has-been girlie drink. Back in your corner ...

Pink Squirrel: Hate crime! Hate crime!

Jim Beam: Easy, Jack. He's been playing canasta with Grasshopper for three years.
 
Appletini: You go girl! Stand tall.
 
Martini: Oh great, a "menu martooni" heard from.

Appletini: Why can't you accept that we're all martinis now and deserve to be treated with dignity and respect?

Martini: You make me sick. I would set you on fire, but you're too light in the liquors.
 
Gibson: Jiminy cricket! Let's put some old school hurt on them.
 
Cosmo: Yay, Appletini, stand strong sister-wife. Our day has come. You old guys are just jealous.
 
Jim Beam: Hey Cosmo, if you love him so much, why doncha marry him.
 
Pink Squirrel: Hate crime! Hate crime!
 
Cocktail Onion: Good one, Jimmy, good one.
 
Frangelico: If I may interject, perhaps we could all form a circle and share our feelings more calmly. After all, we are all brothers under One Bar and ...
 
Jack Daniels: Kill him, kill the freakin' monk! Stomp him.
 
Old Grand-Dad: Monk? I thought it was a broad in a bathrobe.
 
Frangelico: If I may continue ....
 
Old Grand-Dad: Let's put a bourbon hurt on him. Give him the ole Cincinnati one-two.
 
Maker's Mark: Attica! Attica!
 
Jim Beam: Bourbons, man up, we're taking back the bar.
 
Bay Breeze: Really fellas, how about we chill like a polar bear ... wha ...  Aaaaaaaaaa ... not the face, not the face. Oh my Bar, stop, please stop, you're bruising my delicate fruity thirst-quenchability ... EEeeeee-AAAAaaaaaaa......
 
Blender: Don't make me get into this. I will destroy you!
 
Piña Colada: Destroy me, destroy me! Blend me like a m@#*^*#^*.
 
Long Island Iced Tea: Listen up losers, I am gin, rum, vodka, and tequila, the most potent potable ...
 
Jack Daniels: [interrupts] and triple sec, sour mix, and Coke. Want a pretty paper umbrella for yourself, big guy?
 
Long Island Iced Tea: Whaaat?
 
Jack Daniels: You heard me, fancy pants.
 
The Muddler: They call me The Muddler. I am here to restore order or something. I'm not sure. Where am I?
 
Old Fashioned: Smash me, Muddler. Crush my fruit and get the juices flowing. Without you I'm nothing. Lay down some truncheon lovin'.
 
Tom Collins: Come on, we're gonna get into trouble. Simmer down.
 
Jack Daniels: Shut yer ice hole, Old School.
 
Chambord: Here they come. Eez almose time for 'Appy Hour. Retreat! Retreat! Every man for him's self!
 
Jim Beam: This ain't over. Now get in your glasses and do your freakin' jobs.
 
The Muddler: Where are my keys?
 
Canadian Club: O Canada!
Our home and native land!
True patriot love in all thy sons command.
With glowing hearts ...
 
Pink Squirrel: USA! USA! AAAaaaaaaa... take that you smooth blended bastard! Feel the pain, America Junior.
 
Crown Royal: Hate crime, eh. Ow, that's gonna leave a mark.
 
Pink Squirrel: Here's my foot up your Canadian bacon! Miyagi!!!
 
Jack Daniels: [sighs] Leave it to a squirrel to do a man's job. 

(Photo by Getty Images)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:13 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Owl Meat's Tipsy Tuesdays
        

September 28, 2009

Beau Velasco, co-founder of The Death Set, is dead

beauBeau Velasco, co-founder of critically acclaimed Baltimore/New York/Philadelphia electro-punk group The Death Set, died yesterday in Brooklyn, the band's manager confirmed today.

Details of Velasco's death have not been released, but his band mate Johnny Siera posted this message on the band's Facebook page:

R.I.P. my dear brother, friend and band mate Beau Velasco. We are all so devestated that I will keep this short. We love you and you will be missed. You affected us all so much in the most positive ways. Our lives would not be as is if not for you. W...e love you. For all those who wish to pay their respects we will let the details known soon.

The Death Set came together in mid-2005 in Australia, and moved to Baltimore shortly thereafter. They released the album "Worldwide" in 2008 on Counter Records, an imprint of Ninja Tune.

Local composer Dan Deacon lived next to Velasco and Siera in the Copycat Building when they first moved to Baltimore.

"beau was the definition of a solid guy," Deacon wrote in an e-mail. "i don't know what to say beyond that. he was just a really great guy and its real shame what happened."

(Handout photo)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:53 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Local music
        

What they should have done with Canton Arts and Entertainment

I have a most excellent bar concept I would like to share with you, dear readers.

Dig it: Instead of the ultra-lame "Canton Arts and Entertainment," the folks who opened the new Boston Street spot should have names it Canton Arts and Entertainment Corp. Then, everything inside would be just like corporate offices were in the 1980s ...

Instead of booths, they'd have cubicles. The menus would be printed on '80s computer paper -- you know, the stuff with the frilly holey tear-off thingys on the sides of it.

All the servers would wear suits, and the female servers would wear those jackets with shoulder pads in them. And they'd all have classic corporate passive aggressive attitudes. Example:

Customer: Hey, can you bring me another glass of water when you get the chance?

Server: Oh, I'm sorry, I just don't think we're going to be able to make that happen for you.

Customer: What? I just want another glass of water.

Server: Yeah, no, that's just not feasible right now. Thanks.

Maybe I'll file this away in the Most Excellent Bar Concepts cabinet, right next to Fumbles, the sports bar for losers, and Big Kidz, the children's play-zone for adults.

Thoughts?

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:36 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

By the way, Babalu Grill is closed

babalu grill mojitoI know, I know, I should have blogged about Babalu Grill closing when it actually happened, which was weeks ago.

For the record, the Power Plant Live restaurant/bar closed Sept. 6, according to its Web site. There have just been so many closings lately, it's hard to keep up with them all.

Why did Babalu close? According to this post on Dining@Large, the lease was up, and Babalu's owners wanted out.

And that, dear readers, is that.

I went to Babalu a couple times in the past several years, but it wasn't really my scene. Babalu had a reputation for great mojitos, but I tried two a couple years ago and wasn't that impressed. 

Oh well.

(Baltimore Sun photo by Karl Merton Ferron)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:43 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

September 27, 2009

Awesomeness on wheels

the skittles carLoooook! It's the Skittles car! How awesome is that?!?!?

I was walking around on the West Side when I encountered the Skittles car. It stopped me in my tracks.

I wanted to lick the side of the car, and see if it tasted like the rainbow.

What prompts someone to paint Skittles all over their car? Is it the Official Skittles Company Car? Or just the family car?

How awesomely bad would it be if it was a gift from a set of parents to their 16-year-old daughter?

Mom! Mom! I want to go to the movies! Can I go to the movies?

Sure, but you have to take the Skittles car.

But, Moooooom I don't wanna take the Skittles car.

YOU'LL TAKE THE SKITTLES CAR AND YOU'LL LIKE IT YOUNG LADY! DO YOU KNOW HOW MANY PACKS OF SKITTLES YOUR FATHER AND I HAD TO EAT TO EARN ENOUGH RAINBOW POINTS TO GET THE SKITTLES CAR?!?! I HAVE TYPE 2 DIABETES NOW!

Hee hee.

Anyway, I really enjoyed witnessing the Skittles car.

(Photo by me)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:00 AM | | Comments (17)
Categories: Random stuff
        

September 26, 2009

The party is moving from Aqua to Mosaic

Poolside lounge Aqua is just about wrapped up for the season, and starting tonight, local event promoters the Good Life Boys are moving the regular rager to Mosaic in Power Plant Live.

DJ Scene will spin tonight, and each week will feature a different DJ. The cover is $10, but if you RSVP here, you can get in free before 11 p.m. Now, where did I put my Red Bull & Vodka? Oh, here it is. Cheers!

Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:00 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

Your beer horoscope

coors light I've often started longingly into the dregs of a can of Natty Ice, wondering if I could see my future in them.

The only thing I accurately predicted was a ripe hangover, rot gut and a plump little potbelly.

Guest poster (and whiskey psychic) Paul "Scoop" Vivari to the rescue! Here's Scoop with a look at your future, based on what kind of beer you drink:

Predicting how the events of your day will unfold based on when your birthday falls has always been a laughable enterprise.

The ability to see into the future lies not in the secrets of the lunar calendar; rather, and quite obviously, it lies in our beer preference.

"You are what you drink," Plato may or may not have said, and if you have ever been curious to know what your day will be like before it even begins, simply find your beer of choice below, clear your mind, and be washed away by the suds of prophecy ...

Dos Equis

Adventure, intrigue and scores of exotic, willing women are all in play today for you, the Most Interesting Man in the World. Your dominance in this afternoon’s international Jai Alai tournament final will only be surpassed by your virtuosity at adapting Brahms’ Paganini Variations onto the slide whistle at this evening's Carnegie Hall performance. Diving for pearls in the pirated waters off the Sulu Archipelago isn’t entirely out of the question as well. Just kidding! You’ll be drinking crappy Mexican beer alone in your windowless basement apartment tonight.

Coors Light

As a fan of a beer that advertises itself as "tasting cold," another successful day of confusing temperature for flavor is in store for you. You’ll score big points with your fiancee's gourmand parents at tonight’s rehearsal dinner when you remark that your seared Kobe steak with julienned haricot vertes and truffle-quail egg emulsion tastes "pretty warm," and even the restaurant’s notoriously condescending sommelier will be impressed by your ability to detect some of the wine’s more subtle room-temperature qualities. Well done.

Busch

Reading the stars, Capricorn seductively dancing with Neptune in the Western Mirth Quadrangle suggests another tough, tedious day manning the interstate tollbooth. Your lunch of beef jerky and diet Slice should lift your spirits, but if not, pay attention to tonight’s Pick 6 drawing; the Osiris dwarf-quasar foretells your odds of winning as being closer to 4 percent than they are to 3. If none of this makes you feel better about your life, take solace in the fact that there’s a case of beer at home that’s just as bitter and unsatisfying.

guinnessPabst’s Blue Ribbon

Romance is in the cards today, as you'll find yourself confronted with a sexy facsimile of your female equivalent. Don’t blow it; she may like bad 80s films, obscure no-wave music, and be wearing glasses that only Depression-era secretaries wore, but you won’t know for sure until you see her with the only hip accessory that matters these days: a can of PBR. If she's drinking cheap, bland beer and painfully forces herself to forget that it tastes like fermented septic runoff, you'll know it's time to make your move.
 
Guinness
 
Difficult choices lie ahead for you today, but you must not waver in your convictions. Should you slowly sip a pint of your favorite stout, brewed as Ireland's pride for 250 years and a symbol of its national heritage? Or should you drop a shot in it and chug down a drink named after a heinous act of Irish domestic terrorism? Others around you may try to influence your decision, but be strong in your resolve; unless the bartender is Irish, in which case keep in mind that he’ll probably kick your face in if you order a car bomb.

Natty Boh
 
Things may be looking grim, but remember to keep your eye(s) open; the opportunity for success is always just around the corner. Or at least it would be, if you didn't live in Baltimore. Time for another six pack.

(Top photo by Amy Davis/Baltimore Sun. Bottom photo by AFP/Getty Images)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:00 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

September 25, 2009

Green Cilantro is closed "for repairs"

Green CilantroThis isn't good: Green Cilantro, the Fells Point bar which replaced the Whistling Oyster several months ago, is closed.

A sign on the front door says the bar is closed for repairs and will reopen soon.

But after writing about bar openings and closings for a few years, I can tell you -- this usually means the end is near.

I called Green Cilantro's main number, but no one answered.

Maybe Green Cilantro really is closed for repairs. Maybe, like its namesake, the bar will be back in the spring.

Only time will tell.

(Photo by jmgiordano)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:54 PM | | Comments (9)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

Bruce Springsteen tickets sell out in 20 minutes

bruce springsteenBruce Springsteen's show at the 1st Mariner Arena sold out in a mere 20 minutes -- about 15 minutes quicker than teen pop star Hannah Montana, officials said.

Fans snapped up the roughly 14,400 tickets for the Nov. 20 show --
the first time The Boss has played Baltimore proper in more than 35 years -- without a hitch, according to 1st Mariner's general manager Frank Remesch.

Remesch said the night before the tickets went on sale, he worried it wouldn't sell out, thereby proving Baltimore's reputation as a second-tier tour stop ...

"I was nervous and apprehensive," Remesch said. "But after the first five minutes, we were already into the upper third level. At that point, it was ear-to-ear smiles." ...

About 150 people waited in line outside the arena's box office this morning, and nearly everyone in line was able to get a ticket, Remesch said.

"It was a really, really neat thing," he said. "You had a mix of citizens like you wouldn't believe -- from ages to jobs. It was just phenomenal."

Soon after the sellout, tickets for the show appeared on online broker StubHub for as much as $849.

(AP photo)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:19 AM | | Comments (39)
Categories: Local music, Random stuff
        

Are you ready to try for Bruce Springsteen 1st Mariner tickets?

bruuuuuuuuuuce.JPGOh man oh man, it's almost time -- tickets for Bruce Springsteen's 1st Mariner Arena gig go on sale at 10 a.m.

This is the first time the Boss has played in Baltimore proper since 1973, when he performed at -- you guessed it -- the 1st Mariner Arena (then known as the Baltimore Civic Center). I wonder if Bruuuce remembers that gig.

The Nov. 20 gig will probably be a nostalgia trip for Springsteen, considering the venue has barely changed in the past 36 years. Heh.

If you end up getting tickets or have problems getting tickets, this is the place to share your experience. Let me know how it goes, and, of course, good luck!

(AP photo)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:55 AM | | Comments (104)
Categories: Local music, Random stuff
        

What's going on at Porter's?

Yesterday afternoon, I heard a rumor that Porter's, the popular neighborhood bar on Riverside Avenue, was closed. I called the place, got the answering machine, but thought nothing of it.

That is, until last night, when I was driving by Porter's and saw the lights out and the blinds drawn. Anybody know what's going on there?

Is it closed? If so, is it closed temporarily or permanently?

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:30 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

September 24, 2009

What music makes you cry? And why?

marvin gaye

Do you ever listen to music and suddenly start to choke up?

I do.

Sometimes I can feel it coming, and sometimes it takes me by surprise. I get chills, choke up, and occasionally, cry. Depends on the song and my mood.

The first few times I heard Emmylou Harris' "Red Dirt Girl," I had to try hard not to cry. I know girls like the one in the song, and I'm from a place like the one Harris describes, so it really resonates with me.

A couple days ago, I choked up when I watched this clip of Marvin Gaye singing short, solo versions of the songs he used to do with Tammi Terrell. It's so sad, and so uplifting at the same time. And as always, Gaye makes singing from the heart seem effortless.

I almost had to turn off "On and On and On" by Wilco the first time I heard it ...

Another moment in music that kills me every time I hear it is in the middle of the medley on the B-side of "Abbey Road," at the end of "Carry That Weight," when the orchestra reprises "You Never Give Me Your Money." Oh, man. You can hear it around the 6:12 mark on this video.

I also remember listening to The Band's "It Makes No Difference" over and over again after a bad breakup in college and just bawling. Rick Danko's tortured vocals are brilliant. His voice always seems like it's about to break, but it never does.

A colleague of mine, Nick Madigan, said a song that made him choke up was "Emily" by Beth Nielsen Chapman. I've never heard it, but I'm going to have to track it down and listen asap.

Whew. All right, so, I've shared something intensely personal here, guys. Your turn.

What music makes you cry? And why?

(Photo by Getty Images)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:14 PM | | Comments (57)
Categories: Random stuff
        

The grand opening of mist is this weekend

Sorry I didn't post earlier today. Our ancient blog software had one of its semi-regular meltdowns.

This just in: The grand opening of the new club mist (which replaced Iguana Cantina), is this weekend. Here are the details, according to an e-mail sent out by the JetSetMafia ...

The invite-only soft opening is tomorrow night at 11 p.m. How do you get an invite? Start by going here.

Then, the grand opening is Saturday. 

The JetSet e-mail also included this enchanting description of mist:

True to the club’s name, MIST is decorated in lush turquoise fabrics, etched glass tile, and custom designed furniture. The 12,000 square foot stunning interior continues with raised VIP table seating, two bars and a state of the art sound system. A 27 foot screen stands behind the main bar playing visual imagery for your sensory delight. The creators of MIST spared no detail in creating a stunning lighting display with versatile truss lighting and LED’s (which change the color of the entire room) all create exciting visual environments for our patrons to explore.

Oh, and before I forget -- guess who sent me the heads up? Owl Meat. I didn't even get this e-mail myself, and I'm the nightlife guy. JetSetMafia, we need to have a talk. And thanks, Owl Meat.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:57 AM | | Comments (26)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

September 23, 2009

One of the wackiest interviews I've ever seen

I'm a little snowed under with stories for tomorrow's weekend section, so instead of blogging about something important or controversial, I'm going to post one of the zaniest interviews I've ever seen ...

If I were a musician, I'd aspire to give interviews like this one. Jamie Lidell (whose most recent album, "Jim," is really great), goes slightly bonkers. It's hilarious. I don't think the interviewer was prepared for this. Then again, who is?

Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:55 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Random stuff
        

Seen Springsteen before? How was the show?

bruce springsteenYesterday, I traded e-mails with a reader named Charlotte, who saw Bruce Springsteen at the Capital Centre in 1980. She was even able to find her old ticket stub.

Can you believe it only cost $11 for floor seats? If you want to get floor seats for Springsteen's Nov. 20 show at 1st Mariner, they're going to run you $100.

I asked Charlotte what she remembers from the show, and she sent me this:

I was working at McDonald's making about $2.90-$3.05/hr. and going to school at Villa Julie College (now Stevenson University) in the Medical Technician program.  One of my classmates either gave me the ticket or sold it to me ...

Anyway, the atmosphere was electric! I had to stand on my seat most of the time in order to see Bruce & the band. Of course, the security guards kept coming around & telling people to sit down. It's hard to remember anything specific from 29 years ago....Just a magnificent performance. They seemed to put their heart & soul into it & you could tell they loved making music.

If I remember correctly, they came back out after the final applause & did an extended encore. [BTW...never could understand why he married that model...I always thought he had a thing for the chick in his band.]

I'm hoping to get ticket(s) for the upcoming show....Perhaps I should take notes this time. I think I have a bit more in my budget now, so I may splurge & get a t-shirt, too.

Thanks, Charlotte! If you've got memories from a Springsteen show, share them here.
Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:00 AM | | Comments (26)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, Local music, Random stuff
        

Padlock Suite Ultralounge? About time.

Last week, City Council President Stephanie Rawlings-Blake sent a letter to the city police commissioner asking him to padlock Suite Ultralounge, the Belvedere bottle club that's been linked to several violent episodes.

No word on whether or not the police are considering padlocking the club. But it makes you wonder -- why ask Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III to padlock Suite now? Why not, say, a month ago, when Circuit Court Judge Kaye Allison ruled the liquor board acted improperly when it yanked Suite's license?  ...

Suite's liquor license is up for renewal again in November, and the liquor board should have new rules and regulations in place by then allowing it to revoke Suite's license. Of course, November is still more than a month away, and I'm all for padlocking Suite ASAP.

But why did Rawlings-Blake wait almost a month before sending the letter? Looks an awful lot like political posturing to me.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:30 AM | | Comments (18)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

September 22, 2009

Circular Blogging 101

Hey everybody, check out this piece by Elizabeth Large.

There. I have just officially posted about her post, which is about my post, which was based on a comment left under her other post

The circle is complete. I feel dizzy.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:57 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Random stuff
        

What's the difference between a lounge and an Ultralounge?

red mapleLounges are, like, soooo yesterday. Ultralounges are the hip new party spots.

Sam Sessa rages it in Ultralounges.

Sam Sessa is so hip he speaks in third person (when he's raging it in Ultralounges).

What, you ask, makes an Ultralounge so much better than a boring, lowly lounge? (This actually was a question posted by Corey on Dining@Large).

If you poke a lounge in its shoulder with an awesome needle and inject a shot of excellence, it becomes an Ultralounge. Oh yeah, baby.

Everything is newer, shinier, swankier, harder, faster, stronger and ... loungier ... in an Ultralounge.

Red Maple is just a lounge. Pur, on the other hand, is an Ultralounge. The difference? Pur has twice the cover charge. Zink! ...

"If Red Maple had more neon, it could be an Ultralounge," said Baltimore DJ Cullen Stalin. "I definitely associate neon lights with Ultralounges. Maybe an oxygen bar?"

Chris Furst, spokesman for Power Plant Live, had a more serious take on things.

"I guess, in the traditional sense, a lounge is casual," he said. "An Ultralounge is a modern lounge. ... It's something that's a little more modern, sleek, newer, with more contemporary comforts than an old school lounge would have."

Interesting.

But I think Stalin put it best when he said, in a regular lounge, you're rubbing elbows with average club-goers. In Ultralounges, you might just run into dancers from the future.

The only exception to this rule is Suite Ultralounge, which should be renamed Suite Ultralame. Actually, no, it shouldn't be renamed -- it should be closed outright.

Now that's awesome.

(Baltimore Sun archive photo)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:42 AM | | Comments (19)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

Owl Meat's Tipsy Tuesdays: Which mascot wins?

omtt1.jpgI couldn't help but chuckle at some of the delicious- and repulsive-sounding meals that Owl Meat came up with for this week's Tipsy Tuesdays. Football + grilled mascot = awesome.

Here's OMG:

My sports expertise runs the gamut from A to B. That's why I invented a system for picking winners using mascots.

Red Sox versus White Sox? Red Sox win because when you wash them together the White Sox turn pink.

New Jersey Devils versus Penguins? Penguins don't believe in God and therefore not the Devil. Penguins win on an existential level. Play this with a sports fanatic and watch his head explode.
 
This week I adapted the game for tailgating. I crossed "Top Chef" with "Lord of the Flies" to create Top Mascot Tailgate Chef, where mascots go head to head ... on the grill. May the tastier mascot win ...

Note: No endangered species or mythological creatures were harmed, nor did any cannibalism occur while writing this.
 
Here are this week's picks:

Giants vs. Buccaneers – Barbecued giant ribs beat scurvy pirate. Think of the ribs that toppled Fred Flintstone's car. Yabba dabba delicious.
 
Falcons vs. Patriots – Nothing like falcon chowder with leeks and shiitake mushrooms and a Sam Adams on a crisp autumn day.
 
Titans vs. Jets – You can't eat a jet.
 
Chiefs vs. Eagles – Let's say it's farm-raised eagle. What could be more American? Ben Franklin wanted the turkey to be our national symbol. Would we have stopped eating turkey? No way. Fry like an eagle.
 
omtt2.jpgPackers vs. Rams – Hearty ram stew with parsnips and Guinness. Sláinte!
 
49ers vs. Vikings – Uh oh, the inevitable cannibalistic cook-off. Grizzled prospector versus well-fed Viking? By Thor's Hammer there is no question! Shots of aquavit all around. Skål.
 
Jaguars vs. Texans – Mayans revered the jaguar as a god who could cross between the worlds of the living and dead. Marinate overnight in a habanero tequila sauce. ¡Olé!
 
Browns vs. Ravens – Crispy cracklin' raven beats mangy mutt. Toss in wing sauce and quaff some Clipper City Gold Ales.  
 
Bears vs. Seahawks – Bear is delicious, especially baby bear. Wash it down with a Gentle Ben: Bärenjäger, vodka and purple Drank. Prepare to hibernate until half-time.
 
Saints vs. Buffalo – Mmm ... wood-smoked Inquisition-style saints? I'm intrigued, but no, no ... buffalo burgers!
 
Dolphins vs. Chargers – I don't know what dolphin tastes like, but if people are  banned from fishing it, someone thinks it's tasty. Can I get mine with foie gras?
 
Panthers vs. Cowboys – Are you ready for some ... grilled ... panther? Wash down your big cat grub with Clipper City Loose Cannons and crank up Pantera.  
 
Steelers vs. Bengals – Tiger trumps grimy steel worker. Marinate in curry for kabobs, chug some IPA's, and blast "Eye of the Tiger."
 
Broncos vs. Raiders – Slow-cooked pulled-horse barbecue with Mickey's big mouths. Giddy-up.

Redskins vs. Lions – Bacon-wrapped lion fillets. It's the circle of life. Deal with it, Simba.
 
Colts vs. Cardinals – Ribs ribs ribs! Perilous because the ghost of Robert Irsay might steal it from your refrigerator in the middle of the night before the game. Down a bucket of spiteful Natty Bohs. Irsay!!!

(Photos by Getty Images)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:51 AM | | Comments (22)
Categories: Owl Meat's Tipsy Tuesdays
        

OK, so, the Midnight Sun Social is set for Oct. 29

Are you ready for some awesome party action, Midnight Sun style? I know I am. And the date is locked in -- Thursday, Oct. 29 at Bad Decisions. I'm still not sure what time yet, but it will probably start at something like 6:30 p.m.

Costumes are cool, but they're certainly not required. Also, since parking can be scarce in that part of town, I'm thinking about hiring a troupe of oompa loompas to valet. Thoughts?

Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:14 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

September 21, 2009

My thoughts on Turp's

turp's baltimoreAsk and ye shall receive.

Well, we asked for a sports bar in Mount Vernon, and lo and behold, we got one.

After visiting the new Turp's (1317 N. Charles St.), I have to say -- overall, I'm pleased with Mount Vernon's one and only sports bar.

Sports bars are the comfort food of the nightlife scene. You want to know what you're getting: Flat screen TVs, buffalo wings and decent beer prices.

I didn't try the buffalo wings, but Turp's came through on the other two. ...

Turp's has orange walls, a few flat screens and a big chalkboard along one wall with food and drink specials. It's a comfortable place. Considering Turp's is near the intersection of Charles Street and Mount Royal Avenue, it should get some decent foot traffic, too.

We went at 10:30 p.m. on a Wednesday, and ordered a pitcher of Yuengling for $6.50. I'm not sure if it was a special or a standard, but that's a great price.

My only real complaint with Turp's was a familiar one, given this city's bar scene: poor service. I've heard this from other people, too, about Turp's.

Our server started fine, recommending the pitcher over two pints of beer. But once we were finished the pitcher, she disappeared. We wanted to get our check and leave, but had to wait for her instead.

Studies have shown that the worst thing a server can do is leave customers hanging when they're waiting on the check. And our server left us with a bad taste in our mouths. But since Turp's is new, and I'm sure they're still working out the kinks, I'm not going to let that keep me from going back.

Should you go out of your way to try Turp's? Nope. But if you're in the area and you want to watch the game with some friends, Turp's is just the spot. And that's all you can ask of a good neighborhood sports bar.

(Baltimore Sun photo by Barbara Haddock Taylor)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:50 PM | | Comments (19)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

What would you want in a new upper Fells Point bar?

Here's a question you don't get asked enough: If you could pick what kind of bar you'd like to see open in Upper Fells Point, what would you say?

Would you want an intimate, low key spot like a Liam's Pint-Size Pub or an Idle Hour? Or would you rather have a sports bar with a few flat screens? Or something in between? Here's a chance to have a say in what a new bar looks and feels like ...

A few days ago, I got this e-mail, from a reader and potential bar owner named Courtney:

I am trying to open a bar in upper fells point. I would like input from your readers as to what they want in a new bar.

Before you respond, take the neighborhood into consideration. Upper Fells has a lot of Latin American spots, and also a fair amount of Hopkins med students, urban pioneers and longtime residents. 

All that taken into consideration, what kind of a new bar would you want to see there?

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:44 AM | | Comments (27)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

The beer pong bible

the book of beer pongA couple days ago, Nancy (of Read Street fame) handed me a pile of drinking- and music-related books. Thanks, Nancy!

Unfortunately, these books were quickly absorbed into the mountain of miscellany that is my desk (I also call it my plunder pile).

But now, I have unearthed the books, and actually read a couple pages of one of them.*

It's called "The Book of Beer Pong: The Official Guide to the Sport of Champions." You can buy it on Amazon for $10.85.

On a quick side note, why do all books have to have such long titles these days? Whatever happened to quick-hitters like "Moby Dick" or "War and Peace?"

Anyway, "The Book of Beer Pong" clocks in at a whopping 200 pages, give or take. 200 pages! On a drinking game! ...

It does have its moments, though. I mean, I didn't read the whole thing**, but I read this one page with this funny passage. Let's read it together:

The Wash Cup

While not directly involved in game play, the wash cup is one of Beer Pong's most unique contributions to the world of sport. Etiquette -- and hygiene -- dictate that two cups be left on the table, but out of play, for the express purpose of ball washing. Traditionally, these cups are filled with warm tap water.

Throughout the course of the game, the ball will undoubtedly make contact with the floor, an unsanitary table surface, the lip of a recently sipped cup, the lip of a player, and so on. It is believed that a quick rinse in the cup will lessen the transmission of what scientists call "funk."

Interestingly, the player is washing the ball for his opponent's benefit -- not his own. This intrinsic selflessness is such an essential part of the game that few players or observers fully appreciate it.

Well put, beer pong book. Well put indeed.

 

* In all honesty, I can't "read" in the traditional sense. I did go to public school, after all.

** I mean, who actually reads books these days? I just download them for free on the InterWebs.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:30 AM | | Comments (12)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

September 20, 2009

Sampling Magic Hat's new Night of the Living Dead seasonal variety pack

magic hatEveryone, please give a warm welcome to guest blogger Michael Cook. You may remember him from such blogs as Beer & Old Bay on Metromix, and his stints as an employee of Metropolitan in South Baltimore.

Well, Michael has offered to write about beer and zombies for us, and who am I to deny him? Take it away, M.C.:

If there's one thing that makes me thirstier than the advent of autumn, it's the thought of dealing with the newly resurrected dead.

Fall is beer drinking time. Unfortunately, Halloween reminds us of the constant, often ignored, threat of slow-walking, brain-hungry zombies. You would cry too if it happened to you.

Finally, FINALLY, there is a beer company willing to face this morbid possibility with a new seasonal variety pack of suds.

Magic Hat's new offering is aptly called Night of the Living Dead, and contains their famous #9, their Circus Boy wheat beer, Roxy Rolles hoppy amber, and Odd Notion, a limited edition Belgian chocolate stout.

Since the wise folk at Magic Hat saw fit to send me a sample, here are my thoughts on the new beers ...

Fall beers should have complex flavors to them. The simplicity of summer is gone. We need real beers to deal with holidays like Thanksgiving, when we are supposed to celebrate the foreign invasion of America, ignore the native genocide, and eat six pounds of turkey per person all while dealing with an inappropriately high proximity to our extended family. Luckily, Roxy Rolles is a real beer-drinker's beer.

Rolles appears dark mahogany and pours with a thick tan head. Like the best ambers, it balances hops against caramel flavors the same way a great zombie flick balances adventure and fear. For those who like to be all high class with their finely brewed beverages, Rolles makes a great pairing beer. Set up Rolles on a date with some sausages or roast veggies or pumpkin pie. For those who just drink their beer, Rolles is just right for sitting in a sweatshirt after raking leaves.

I should note at this point that Magic Hat has been wise enough to sell their beer in bottles, rather than cans. Zombie experts agree the bottle is a far better weapon than a can in the event of undead attack. (The version of the variety pack that comes with the Dessert Eagle pistol is unfortunately only available in Texas). Now, back to the beer:

One should lay in a small stock of Odd Notion now in order to have it around in time for the first frost. As light slowly vanishes, leaving the days shorter and nights darker, Odd Notion will be appropriate. It's an opaque black in appearance, with just a bit of fizz, as a stout should be. As well as hints of coco, Odd Notion has a lot of smoky flavor to it. Those looking for a candy bar in a can had better go with Young's Double Chocolate Stout; Odd Notion is better for matching with roast meats or paired with a glass of Bailey's.

Odd Notion is a beer to be savored, and thus I recommend it be drank only after you've dispatched the last reanimated corpse. I wouldn't be able to live with myself if Odd Notion's bitter chocolate suds contributed to a burdened stomach that thus limited your ability to escape the clutches of the undead. Besides, beer always tastes better after a little zombie killing.

(Photo by M.C.)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:00 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

September 19, 2009

These are a few of my favorite words

If you write about anything long enough, you tend to use the same old words over and over again.

To help me fight the urge to use the same old words over and over again (see? I just did it again), I started a list ofg words that I need to use on Midnight Sun more often. If you have a favorite word you'd like to see on here, I'd love to try and use it. Here's my little list ...

discombobulate

plunder

pickle

mucho

scads

zesty

mole

boop

 

As I use these words, I'm going to cross them off this list, and put a link to the piece where I used them.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:00 PM | | Comments (9)
Categories: Random stuff
        

Dan Aykroyd drops by Cockeysville to sign bottles of Crystal Head vodka

dan aykroydYears ago, Dan Aykroyd parodied a salesman on TV. Now, he has become one himself.

In the past few years, Aykroyd started his own line of wines and helped introduce Patron tequila to Canada.

His latest venture? His own brand of vodka, Crystal Head vodka. It's based on the legend of the crystal skulls.

As you see in the photo, Crystal Head Vodka comes in a skull-shaped glass bottle. It's made in Newfoundland and filtered through diamonds. The main Web site has more details about the process.

If you watch the videos on the site, you can't help but wait for the punchline, which never comes. Turns out, there isn't a punchline. Aykroyd is dead serious.

The vodka itself is surprisingly smooth, with a hint of a creamy finish. It actually tastes better neat than chilled, believe it or not. I could actually see myself sitting down and sipping on a glass of the stuff. I've never said that about vodka before. It retails for about $50.

Last week, Aykroyd himself dropped by Cranbrook Liquors in Cockeysville to sign bottles of his vodka and whatever else the dozens of eager "Ghostbusters" fans brought for him. The line of folks waiting for autographs stretched out the store and down the sidewalk.

Around 4 p.m., a large white truck/trailer hybrid rolled up outside the liquor store. After a few minutes, out popped an expansive Aykroyd, sporting an informal black outfit. ...

Aykroyd hustled into the back of the liquor store, where he proceeded to sign some bottles in private before heading out to deal with the great unwashed. There, Baltimore Magazine's Jess Blumberg and Baltimore Dining Examiner Dara Bunjon and I shouted questions at him while he snapped photos and such. It was an incredibly awkward experience.

While I appreciated his effort to answer our questions and embark on the liquor store tour in the first place, it seemed like Aykroyd was running through a well-rehearsed routine. A sales pitch, of sorts. He spoke fast and machine-like, much like his Super Bass-O-Matic '76 character.

Here's what I'm talking about:

Question: Dan, how do you go from exploring the spiritual side of these skulls to saying, OK, let's put vodka in them?

Answer: The legend of the heads, which is about self empowerment, positive thinking, your dreams can come true, enlightenment, that directed us what to put in the bottle. We're not going to put an impure substance in here. We're not going to put in a polluted substance. If we're trading off the legend of the crystal heads, which were used by the Mayans, the Aztecs and the Navajo, they were sacred relics. We have to put the cleanest vodka possible in here. That was the only way to do it. The legend of the heads dictated that we should put an enlightened fluid. Hence, no impurities. The cleanest vodka on earth. And now people are tasting it and it works.

Question: Do you still play much music?

I play with the blood brother of Jake Blues, brother Z Blues, aka Jim Belushi. We do have frequent dates throughout the year, corporate events for casinos and private. We have a private concert business that's quite prosperous -- we're out at least 20 dates a year. We just opened our newest house of Blues in Boston Mass. It's a 4,000-seat showroom that feels like 400. It's one of the most beautiful, intimate songboxes I've ever been in in my life. We got J. Geils to come back out of retirement to play, which was a fabulous night of music. Then of course, we did our show, the Blues Brothers Formal Classic Revue. Formal because we wear the formal outfits from the original movie. Classic because we do the classic tunes of the African-American songbook.

Then, Dara asked: What question haven't you been asked that somebody should have asked you?

How to solve the Israeli-Arab question.

Dan, how do you solve the --

I think the 800,000 Arabs living in Israel do a lot for that. There are 800,000 Arabs living in Israel that love it that don't feel persecuted, that don't feel they're a part of anything that's going on in the West Bank or Gaza and they love being Israeli citizens. You have a lot of Arabs serving in the army and if you can get that spirit translated throughout the country and throughout the West Bank and Gaza and get the brethren who are living inside Israel to translate that spirit of peace, harmony and coexistence, it could go a long way.

A couple minutes later, he was whisked away to sign autographs for eager fans.

The whole experience was a bit disappointing. All-business Aykroyd left a bad taste in my mouth. Better wash that out with some vodka.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Celebrity sightings
        

September 18, 2009

Check out the free Kia Soul concerts in Washington this weekend

Kia, as in the car company, is throwing a pretty sweet free concert series this weekend. We're talking about free performances by MGMT, Dan Deacon, Wale and the Creepers. More info here.

From what I hear, the venue is pretty small, too -- about 400 capacity. To get into most of the shows, you just need to show up. However, to get into the MGMT show, you have to test drive a Kia. That's not so bad.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 5:02 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Random stuff
        

Rock on, Yim Yames

yimyames2.JPGyim yamesIf you're a fan of the indie rock group My Morning Jacket, you will have noticed that lead singer Jim James has started calling himself Yim Yames.

Some people, like WTMD's AmyWoo, find this ridiculous.

I too find it ridiculous. Ridiculously AWESOME.

If I were a rock star like Mr. Yames, I would do the same thing.

In fact, I'd take it a step further: I'd insist that everyone who spoke to me pronounced all their Js as Ys ...

Think about some other musicians who would have awesome names if they copied Mr. Yames:

Yelton Yohn. 

Yilly Yoel.

Yack Yohnson.

Heck, maybe every word should start with a Y.

Y? 

Because I, Yam Yessa, said so.

Yo yaugh yow, yut you yon't ye yaughing yhen yit yomes yue.

Yam Yessa yas yoken.

(AP photo)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:53 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Random stuff
        

Anybody know what's going on at Canton Station?

canton stationSomething's strange at Canton Station (1028 S. Conkling St.), and I don't know what.

Who am I gonna call? 

Them. Problem is, the line is disconnected.

I got this e-mail from Midnight Sunner Jay:

Do you know what's up with Canton Station? First they were closed for remodeling, now opening under new management? But the Canton Station/Natty Boh Lounge sign is covered up... any word on this?

Sounds like something is certainly afoot ...

I can't say I have many warm, fuzzy memories about Canton Station. Then again, I didn't hate the place, either.

I watched someone get into a verbal altercation there once, and slam the side door so hard the window popped out.

One of my coworkers said she was treated poorly by the service there once, and never went back.

"The vibe was disgusting," she said.

I wonder what's in store for the place. Anybody know?

(Baltimore Sun photo by Jed Kirschbaum)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:49 AM | | Comments (12)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

You know there's a recession when ...

It was midnight on Wednesday in Locust Point, and we were thirsty. No worries, we told ourselves -- we'd have several options for a pint of ice cold, lip-smackin' suds.

Our first stop: The new Banners on Decatur Street. But as we walked up to the front of the building, two women strolled up from the side and told us they'd just closed the place for the night. Business was slow, they said. Business was slow before we got there, we told them. We offered to drink them dry, but they refused to open back up for us. Drat, we thought. ...

Our second stop: the Locust Point Tavern. The lights were dim and the door was locked. Double drat, we thought.

Our third stop: Thornton's Pub. Closed. 

Our fourth stop: J. Patricks. Closed.

Quadruple drat! 

Think about this -- four neighborhood bars, all closed by midnight on a Wednesday. Most of them have liquor licenses that go until 2 a.m. What does that tell ya? I'll tell ya what it tells ya -- it ain't good, that's what.

Seriously though, it was really frustrating. I was looking forward to checking out Banner's. We wound up at Down the Hatch instead, which was cool because the beer was so cheap. And the folks at Down the Hatch laughed at how Banner's sells peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the low low cost of $3.95(!). They even produced a menu to prove it.

Still, I was really disappointed by Locust Point's midnight, mid-week bar scene. 

Time to man up, L.P.
Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:30 AM | | Comments (12)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

September 17, 2009

Checking in with Moby

mobyRemember that piece on Moby I told you I was working on? Well, it came out in today's paper.

Have a look-see.

Of all the musicians I've interviewed recently, Moby struck me as being one of the most honest and open. He talked about some of the choices he made several years ago that he now regrets.

"There's definitely some decisions that were made that were not necessarily motivated by creativity, but were motivated by pressure from the record company to increase market share and the desire to have a little more fame," he said.

"I say that with a lot of trepidation and shame. In hindsight, those are the decisions I regret the most."

Those decisions and that regret are part of the reason why he decided to pull back and make his latest album "Wait For Me," so intimate. It's a record for living rooms -- not dance floors.

Moby performs at Rams Head Live tonight. Should be a good show.

(Photo by Katy Baugh)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:35 PM | | Comments (2)
        

I don't like soft openings anymore

Will someone please define "soft opening" for me? 

Maybe there isn't a set definition. It seems to vary from owner to owner. For years, I thought a soft-opening was where a bar owner quietly starts serving drinks to friends, family and whoever happens to wander by. That way, the staff can work out the kinks.

I used to like to drop by bars and restaurants for a sneak preview during soft openings. But I've been turned away from the past two soft openings I've been to ...

When I dropped by the Blue Hill Tavern, I was allowed in but told they couldn't serve me because it was only open for friends and family.

And last night, I swung by Canton Arts and Entertainment on Boston Street, which was also having a soft opening. They wouldn't let me in! Talk about frustrating. From the sidewalk, the place looked great, though. I just wish they'd change that awful name.

Where are you going tonight?

Oh, I'm going to Canton Arts and Entertainment.

Huh?

Exactly.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:04 PM | | Comments (11)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

Notice anything funny about this receipt?

man-whore receipt

Snicker snicker.

Got this receipt at Turp's last night. I'll write more about Turp's later.

For now, enjoy this receipt.

Lord knows how this came to be. But it's pretty funny.

I wonder if the server (who was female) knew about it?

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:30 AM | | Comments (10)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, Random stuff
        

The best beer deal in Baltimore

I don't know if I really want to give this one away, guys. I don't know if you deserve it. 

Oh snap!

I have discovered what is undoubtedly the best draft beer deal in Baltimore City. Wanna know what it is? All right, fine, I'll tell ya -- but only 'cause I love ya ...

The Locust Point bar Down the Hatch (1157 Haubert St.) pours drafts of Clipper City Gold and Magic Hat #9 for (drum roll please) $1.25.

Yes, you read that right: $1.25. This ain't some happy hour deal, either. It's all the time. Now that's a recession special I can get behind.

I first went to Down The Hatch a couple years ago at the suggestion of the dearly beloved Midnight Sunner jmgiordano. Down the Hatch is a cozy little corner bar with a cast of colorful regulars. The bar has had domestics like Coors Light and Miller on tap for $1.25 for a long time.

But when ace Baltimore Sun police writer Justin Fenton and I went there last night, we noticed a few new additions to Down the Hatch's draft selections. We asked the bartender how much it cost to get a Clipper City or a Magic Hat, and she told us it was the same as the others -- $1.25.

Now, this could be a case of a bartender not knowing the proper price. So be warned. But even if Clipper City and Magic Hat are twice as expensive, that's only a whopping $2.50. Goodness gracious.

So get there fast, before Down the Hatch's owner reads this blog post and decides to raise the prices.

Cheers!

Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:52 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

September 16, 2009

What if we moved the Midnight Sun Social back one week?

It's only been a day, and I'm already back-tracking.

Seriously, though, what about having the Midnight Sun Social Thursday Oct. 29 at Bad Decisions instead of doing it Thursday Oct. 22? ...

You see, this silly little event called Ignite is happening on Oct. 22 at The Walters, and half of the Midnight Sunners I've talked to said they'd rather go to Ignite than my Social.

Normally, I would banish them forever from Midnight Sun, but I, Dictator Sam, am feeling unusually compassionate today.

So how about it? Thursday, Oct. 29? That way, we can all go to Ignite, grab the microphone and say, "This event is great and all, but the Midnight Sun Social was so much better."

Are you with me so far?
Posted by Sam Sessa at 3:39 PM | | Comments (10)
        

The Rowhouse Grille will (hopefully) open soon

the rowhouse baltimoreThe Rowhouse Grille, South Baltimore's newest restaurant and bar, is just about ready to open.

According to co-owner Patrick Dahlgren, The Rowhouse, which replaced the Light Street Station at 1400 Light St., could have a soft opening as early as two weeks from now.

Don't hold your breath, though. That schedule depends on city inspections, permits, etc. all happening on time. And those kinds of things rarely go as planned.

Dahlgren gave me a tour of the building, which is pretty impressive. If you ever went to the Light Street Station, you'd never recognize it now ...

The building itself has been completely gutted and redone -- from the new oak bar to the new cherry wood floorboards. The second floor, which will be opened later than the downstairs, has a lounge with a fireplace, chandelier and high ceiling.

"The upstairs is a lot different than any place around here," Dahlgren said. He's right.

Dahlgren and his business partner Joseph Flynn installed eight taps upstairs and down, as well as two flat screen TVs behind the downstairs bar. Neither Dahlgren or Flynn have worked much in the service business before -- they're both "first-timers," as Dahlgren said.

Since Dahlgren is the step-son of Baltimore brew guru Hugh Sisson (the man who founded the Clipper City empire), you can expect to see plenty of Clipper City beers on tap. That's fine by me.

Dahlgren promised to keep us posted with the soft- and grand-opening dates. Stay tuned.

(Photo by me)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:21 PM | | Comments (22)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

Van crashes into Miss Irene's

miss irene'sThis isn't exactly fresh news, but it still packs a wallop.

At about 7 p.m. Sept. 6 (the Sunday before Labor Day), a man drove a large van into the side of Miss Irene's (1738 Thames St.) that faces South Ann Street.

There were no injuries -- no passengers in the van or pedestrians on the sidewalk, according to hostess Emma Wagner.

"He came screeching around the corner, plowed through a parked car and hit the building," she said. "There was no one sitting there, but I was taking a family to a table right next to it. That was kind of scary." ...

The accident left a hole in the side of the building, which hasn't been repaired yet, Wagner said. 

"It was intense," she said. "I watched his airbag come out and him hit the airbag."

This reminds me of the gruesome tale of the beheading at the Garden Lounge some years ago. Also, when I was a kid, I was sitting in a restaurant in South Carolina with my family, when we heard what sounded like an explosion. Turns out, someone had plowed their car through the side of the building into the restaurant. Nasty stuff.

Has anything like this ever happened to you?

(Baltimore Sun archive photo)
Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:30 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

I'm a winner! (At least, that's what I keep telling myself)

Woo hoo! Midnight Sun is on a roll, gang: We just won Best Local Blog in City Paper's Best of Baltimore 2009 readers' poll.

Dig it.

Man, and to think -- I didn't even vote for myself! Thanks, everybody who did vote for me. Before I could even make a Kanye West comment, someone beat me to it. Awesome!

Please join me in a cubicle victory dance to "True Skool" by Coldcut. "Cooler than cooler than cool."

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:00 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Random stuff
        

September 15, 2009

Tonight only: Cheap samurai movie rentals at Video Americain

Poor taste be damned: Until 10 p.m. tonight, Video Americain in Charles Village is renting all samurai flicks for a mere $2. This is, of course, a timely response to the burglar who was killed by a samurai sword-welding Johns Hopkins student early this morning.

Thanks to jmgiordano for the tip.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 5:43 PM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Random stuff
        

We have a date and a place for the Midnight Sun Social

The date: Thursday, Oct. 22

The place: Bad Decisions

Why Bad Decisions? Well, ever since the great outpouring of love and hate for the Fells Point bar, I've been wanting to throw a party there. And I've talked to a bunch of Midnight Sunners who have still never been to Bad Decisions ...

So consider the Midnight Sun Social officially on.

Get ready to rock.

If you have any suggestions for what we should do at the Midnight Sun Social (besides socialize, of course), please let me know. I was thinking about doing adult face painting, but the more I think about it, the less appealing that idea sounds.

Thoughts?

Posted by Sam Sessa at 4:10 PM | | Comments (14)
        

Hopkins Deli owners buy, reopen Kolpers

kolpers

For years, Lucky and Veronika Singh wanted to open a nice, clean sports bar with really good food.

Several months ago, the Singhs, who own Hopkins Deli, finally found what they thought would be the perfect space: Kolpers.

It wasn't until after they signed the contract that they found out about the double stabbing (which resulted in one death) which occurred there in March.

"I was thinking, 'Oh my gosh, oh no, what did I get myself into?'" Veronika Singh said.

"Needless to say, we don't want anything of this nature happening with us." ...

The Singhs installed a new hardwood floor in the dining room. They also brought in a decent draft list, which includes Sierra Nevada, Magic Hat, Flying Dog and more.

The best part? Kolpers now has das boot. Filling up das boot costs between $10 and $15, depending on the brew. And if you drink it super fast without spilling any on yourself, the Singhs might let you take home the boot.

Here is a link to the new Kolpers Web site. 

"Business is growing," she said. "I can't say for one minute that it's been great. We're really good, hardworking people. When you're putting this much effort into something, I feel like eventually, it's going to be successful."

(Photo courtesy of Kolpers)
Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:54 AM | | Comments (15)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

Owl Meat's Tipsy Tuesdays: A look at drinking laws

pony beerThis week, Owl Meat did some digging and came up with a rather interesting topic: The law on drinking. Personally, I fought the law, and the law won. Owl Meat might have more luck. Here he is:

Twenty five years ago, Americans landed on college campuses and waded into the freedom and responsibility of adulthood. In most states, they had liberty to sip the frothy freedom of a cold beer or other adult libation.

But former Tinseltown party dude Ronald Reagan was about to harsh everyone's buzz. Congress passed the National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984.

Oh snap! The party was over and frat boys wept like purple doves.
 
Despite the name of the law, there is no national minimum drinking age nor is there one in Maryland. Dazed and confused?  I was too. ...

The Maryland Underage Drinking Prevention Coalition summarizes the law:
 
"[the law] required all states to raise their minimum purchase and public possession of alcohol age to 21. States that did not comply faced a reduction in highway funds under the Federal Highway Aid Act. The U.S. Department of Transportation has determined that all states are in compliance with this act. The national law specifically prohibits purchase and public possession of alcoholic beverages. It does not prohibit persons under 21 from drinking."
 
That's interesting, but what does Maryland law specify? The following summary is from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. The text is literally excerpted, so don't blame me for weird grammar and shouty capitalization. Dig it.

(1) Underage Possession of Alcohol
Possession is prohibited WITH THE FOLLOWING EXCEPTION(S):
  •  parent/guardian consent
 
(2) Underage Consumption of Alcohol
Consumption is not explicitly prohibited
 
(3) Underage Purchase of Alcohol
Purchase is prohibited - no explicit exceptions noted in the law

(4) Furnishing of Alcohol to Minors
Furnishing is prohibited WITH THE FOLLOWING EXCEPTION(S):
  •  private residence AND EITHER
  •  - parent/guardian
  •  - legal-age spouse
  •  one or more specified religious, educational, or medical purposes
Notes: Maryland's exception allows furnishing of alcohol to minors by members of their immediate family when the alcoholic beverage is furnished and consumed "in a private residence or within the curtilage of the residence."
[Note: curtilage means yard.]

(5) Minimum Ages for On-Premises Servers and Bartenders
Server Bartender
Beer 18 18
Wine 18 18
Spirits 18 21.
 
(6 ) Minimum Ages for Off-Premises Sellers
Beer 18
Wine 18
Spirits 21
Notes: Maryland statutes allow for exceptions by specific localities within Maryland that may have more or less restrictive laws on the age to sell or serve alcoholic beverages.
 
(7) Blood Alcohol Concentration Limits:
Youth (Underage Operators of Noncommercial Motor Vehicles)
BAC limit: 0.00  –  any detectable alcohol in the blood is per se (conclusive) evidence of a violation
Applies to drivers under age 21.  
 
(8) Prohibitions Against Hosting Underage Drinking Parties
Action by underage guest that triggers violation: possession consumption.
Property type(s) covered by liability law: residence, outdoor, other.
Host must have actual knowledge of the occurrence
Exception(s): family, other (may include religious, medical, educational, or other exceptions)
 
Some observations and a caveat:
 
(1) My legal expertise comes from watching Law and Order.
 
(2) It's legal to send your kid down the street with her little red wagon to fetch another case of beer for the barbeque.
 
(3) I once suggested that the French practice of serving watered-down wine to children at dinner occasionally might be a healthy way to introduce them to alcohol. Apparently this is quite legal in Maryland.
 
(4) An 18 year old server at, for example, TGI Friday's can bring you a margarita, but the bartender has to be 21. Utterly Byzantine.
 
(5) A bartender told me that he used to make his own beer in college, because it was legal. He might be right.
 
I am not promoting underage drinking any more than I recommend wearing your sunglasses at night. My goal is to show how confusing the laws are. No doubt the laws vary among counties too, which makes this more difficult to understand than the popularity of Miley Cyrus, Totino's pizza rolls, or piano key ties.

(Getty Images)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:25 AM | | Comments (51)
Categories: Owl Meat's Tipsy Tuesdays
        

September 14, 2009

So I tried Drank ...

sam tried drank and look what happened?Drink, Drank, drunk.

Dude. I just, like, pounded a 16-ounce can of the "extreme relaxation beverage" Drank.

My roll has officially been slowed.

According to the can, I consumed 20 mg of Valerian root extract, 20 mg of rose hips extract, 2 mg of melatonin and, like, 220 calories(!).

I pounded it, too, in 15 minutes. 

How was it? Sweet.

Literally -- sweet. I think my teeth just disintegrated. Maybe it's just the melatonin. I don't know ...

Just like the can, Drank is purple. It kinda tastes like purple soda/children's medicine mixed with Red Bull.

Yeah. Not really my thing.

But I do feel pretty good.

I feel really goood, acutalytll. Man, hold ohn a second. 'm gonna take a quicak nap.

BRB\

Posted by Sam Sessa at 3:42 PM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Drink-ology, Random stuff
        

Moby and the sleeping seals at the National Aquarium

mobyI just got off the phone with Moby (the DJ), who comes to Baltimore Thursday for a show at Rams Head Live.

At the end of the interview, Moby tossed out this funny little story about Baltimore. Here is what he said:

In 1994, I came down to DJ with Scott Henry and I remember I went to the Aquarium at night. They had the seals and walruses sleeping where you could watch them sleep.

I remember so distinctly, I stood there for about 20 minutes watching all the sea mammals sleep.

They were all having REM dreams. Not dreams of Michael Stipe, but, you know, rapid eye movement dreams ...

I just remember thinking to myself, 'What do seals dream about? Do they dream about conch shells or do they dream about finally getting off their shackles and overthrowing their human overlords?'

I was going to ask Moby exactly what (if any) substance he was on at the time, but, alas, we ran out of time. I'll link to the finished piece, which will hopefully come out in Thursday's paper.

(Photo by Getty Images)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 3:02 PM | | Comments (11)
        

How about some live chat action?

At high noon today, I'm going to be joining none other than Elizabeth Large herself for a lovely little live chat about carryout food over at Dining@Large.

Believe it or not, I was actually The Sun's takeout food columnist for a couple years, so I've had some experience in delicious (though rarely nutritious) carryout food. If you've got a question about where to get a specific carryout food, post it early (the window opens at 11:30 a.m.) so we can get a jumpstart on answering it.

See you then!

Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:18 AM | | Comments (2)
        

September 12, 2009

Looking to party tonight?

the new dealIf you are, you might want to check out The New Deal at Bourbon Street. They're a live, improvisational electronica/house trio.

What does that mean?

It means they play party music without all the pesky words to get in the way. They're also one of my favorite live shows. I've seen them about 30 times. No joke.

Tickets here.

(Handout photo)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 3:04 PM | | Comments (1)
        

Know of a good Towson spot to watch college football?

One of the (many) things I'd like to improve about Midnight Sun is our county coverage. This blog is, a lot of times, too focused on Baltimore City.

On that note, I got an e-mail from Robert, who needs a suggestion of a Towson-area bar with the college football package ...

In Towson there are a bunch, but they're mostly loud and overpriced with bad tv's and worse food. I've had luck at Crush at Belvedere Sq., but can be SOL if a popular game monoplizes tv.  Plus it's a bank buster.

Got any suggestions for Robert?

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:39 AM | | Comments (19)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

September 11, 2009

Iguana Cantina to reopen as mist

clubbin styleIguana Cantina, the large-scale downtown club at Lombard Street and Market Place which closed in early July, will reopen as mist in the near future, organizers said.

The space is being renovated and re-themed right now. mist (the "m" is intentionally lowercase) will have new tiling, a paint job and a new dance floor, according to consultant Jim Temple, who owns Bourbon Street.

Temple said the building is getting "a real, real big face lift," aimed at attracting a crowd that's slightly older than Iguana Cantina's. ...

When owner Tim Bennett closed Iguana Cantina in July, he had plans to reopen it as an upscale rum bar called Mojito's. But when I called Bennett today, he said he'd been bought out by his business partner, Dave Adams. So much for that idea.

Temple said they're going to cordon off a section of the building to make mist a more intimate space. The section will be unused at first, but could later be turned into a lounge area.

(Baltimore Sun archive photo)

 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:25 PM | | Comments (18)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

Liquor board closes Club Phantom

Club Phantom, the nightspot which replaced Kamp on Boston Street, has been shut down by the liquor board. According to chairman Stephan Fogleman, the liquor board indefinitely suspended Phantom's license, which the board will give back to another creditor after a new buyer is found.
Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:35 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

September 10, 2009

Beach House signs to Sub Pop Records

beach houseBaltimore-based ambient pop duo Beach House has signed to the venerable Seattle indie label Sub Pop Records.

Sub Pop, home to artists such as the Postal Service, the Shins and Flight of the Conchords, will release Beach House's third album in early 2010, according to Susan Busch, director of radio promotions and an A&R rep for the label.

"I was super excited to have the opportunity to talk about working with them — let alone make it happen," Busch said.

Singer/keyboardist Victoria Legrand and guitarist Alex Scally released their self-titled debut in 2006 and followed it up with a second album, "Devotion," in 2007.

The new album, which doesn’t have a title yet, was recorded over the course of a month this summer in at Dreamland Recording in Woodstock, N.Y.

It will feature 10 songs and an accompanying DVD with 10 videos inspired by the songs. Scally said the project is the band’s most "expensive and expansive" to date. ...

"It’s a lot more ecstatic and alive," Scally said. "It’s a little more up-tempo. Not much more. We wanted each song to have a certain intensity. It’s really, really intense."

Sub Pop signed Beach House for two albums, with the option of a third, Busch said. She's been a fan of the band since she heard demos from the first album, and is excited to release the new one.

"It’s dreamy and pretty," she said. "It’s such a beautiful record. I can’t wait for people to hear it."

(Baltimore Sun archive photo)
Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:08 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Local music
        

Who wants to get their Drank on?

drankI do! I do!

I'm not talking about drinking just anything, either. I'm talking about drinking Drank.

Have you heard of Drank? It's the new anti-energy drink. It's a relaxation drink. Or so I hear.

I haven't tried Drank myself -- yet. But the name is pretty awesome. And I'll bet all the kids are gettin' their Drank on. Those kids and their Drank. Gee, what will they think of next?

Here's what Drank's publicist had to say:

Comprised of melatonin, rose hips, and valerian root, drank is intended to chill you out, or “slow your roll” as it says on the can.  drank is currently slowing rolls throughout the country (including Delaware, D.C., and Virginia), and is now turning to Baltimore.

And here I've been wondering why traffic on 495 has been so sluggish lately. I'll bet it's because everybody's roll has been slowed by Drank!

I remember melatonin having something to do with sleep and relaxation. But rose hips? Valerian root? What? ...

They sound like herbal remedies used in the wild wild west to cure whooping cough. I think what the makers of Drank are trying to say is, if you've got the poison, they've got the remedy. If I were Jason Mraz, I would sue.

Drank, like any marvelous new beverage (such as "Coca-Cola" or "gin") has its haters. According to Drank's publicist, controversy is swilling -- I mean, swirling -- around the presumably purple bevvy.

It’s banning has been proposed in a St. Louis high school, it’s been ripped apart by stations in the Southeast, but one can’t argue its success.

Those silly St. Louisians, always trying to speed up my roll.

Drank's publicity camp said they'd send me a sample. I'm just a little worried that, after drinking Drank, it's gonna take me twice as long to write about it. Stay tuned.

(Logo courtesy of Drank's Web site)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:07 AM | | Comments (14)
Categories: Drink-ology, Random stuff
        

Let's make a list of semi-nutritional drinks

gin and tonic and limeIf you get most of your worldly knowledge from watching movies, you'll be surprised to learn that most alcoholics are nothing like the jolly, bumbling fatties with bulbous noses you see on the silver screen.

Yes, you might see some puffy red schnozes in real life, but a large number of hardcore alcoholics are skinny skinny thin thin. Why? Well, it's because they don't eat. They'd rather drink, you see.

As a result, many alcoholics have frail, withering bodies slowly rotting from the inside out.*

The best thing to do would be to stop drinking altogether. The second best thing? To knock back beverages with at least some nutritional value.

Baltimore Unsigned producer Nick Jackson and I have come up with a few semi-healthy options along these lines. Here they are, in no particular order ...

Feel free to add to our delightful little list:

1) Bloody Marys

Ah, tomato juice. They say V-8 is good for you, right? And momma always told us to eat veggies. Well, from the tomato juice base to the celery stalk garnish, Bloody Marys are undeniably a delicious and nutritious way to start (or end) your day.

2) White Russians

Got milk? White Russians do. And milk has calcium, which helps fortify important things in your body, like your bones. Oh, hey pal, you've got a bit of a milk mustache going on there. A little to your left. Keep going. OK, great, you got it!

3) Gin and tonics with extra lime

Tonic water has quinine in it, and quinine, according to Wikipedia, is used to treat lupus, nocturnal leg cramps and arthritis. Whoa! Also, the citrus from the lime juice helps prevent scurvy. Arr.

There you have it -- our mini-list. Now, what have you got for us? Don't forget to include your reasons why, by the way.

*I'm basing these statements on conversations with my lovely wife, who recently graduated from medical school. There may very well be factual data to support such claims, but at the moment, I can't provide any, so take what I'm saying here with a grain of salt, please.

(Los Angeles Times photo)


Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:00 AM | | Comments (12)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

September 9, 2009

Smile! The Baltimore police are watching you sip that beer.

surveillance cameraCameras on the street? OK.

Cameras in the workplace? OK.

Cameras at the intersection? OK.

But cameras in the corner bar? Hmm ...

According to this piece by Sun crime writer Peter Hermann, police will be getting live feeds from new surveillance cameras inside Shirley's Honey Hole on East Oliver Street.

In recent months, Shirley's Honey Hole has been linked to violence and drug dealing. To keep the city from padlocking her bar, owner Shirley Barner struck a deal with the cops: She would hire a security guard and set up surveillance cameras inside and outside her bar.

In return, Shirley's Honey Hole stays open ...

This is the first time a private business has allowed a live camera feed which goes directly into the Citiwatch command center on Howard Street, according to the story.

While I understand the situation, this whole thing makes me a little queasy. It's the beginning of a very slippery slope, if you ask me.

On his blog, Crime Beat, Hermann writes:

A key question, I think, is how much consent did the owner Shirley Barner really give if she accepted the terms as part of a plea deal to save her business? And what's stopping the city from making cameras-linked-to cops a part of other plea deals with other problem bars? And why stop there. Make it a condition for a liquor license, or zoning improvements, or just about anything else?

What do you think about all this?

(Baltimore Sun archive photo)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:10 AM | | Comments (21)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

U2 almost played at M&T Bank Stadium

bono u2With concerts by Jay-Z and Bruce Springsteen scheduled for 1st Mariner Arena, the second half of 2009 is already shaping up to be a big year for live music in Baltimore.

But what if we also got U2? As it turns out, we almost did. Here's Sun writer Kevin Van Valkenburg with details:

I asked Ravens president Dick Cass about potentially booking more non-sporting events at M&T Bank Stadium as a potential revenue source, since I remembered that they had Kenny Chesney play there.

Cass said that the Ravens were negotiating with promoters about a potential U2 concert this fall, was interested in doing it until the date U2 offered conflicted with the Ravens schedule. ...

"We try to get concerts, but there just aren't that many stadium concert tours any longer," Cass said. "We saw that U2 is touring, and they gave us a possible date for a U2 concert. But it would have meant we would have had to have three Ravens games (on the road) in a row. And we just not willing to do that. That's a competitive disadvantage to do that.

"Because of the hurricane last year in Houston (when the Ravens had their game with the Texans rescheduled) they had to redo our schedule and last year we had three away games in a row. That's just very difficult. It's very tiring for the team. We offered them other dates and they were not willing to give us other dates.

I think the U2 concert is the big concert of the year, but we just couldn't make it work. We hope to get more in the future."

(AP photo) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:00 AM | | Comments (31)
Categories: Local music
        

September 8, 2009

CD review: The Beatles remasters sound clearer, crisper than ever

the beatlesIt's about time.

Finally, more than 20 years after they were first released as CDs, the Beatles' studio albums are getting a much-needed digital touch-up.

The 14 remastered U.K. albums (starting with "Please Please Me" and ending with the compilation "Past Masters") spanning the career of the biggest band in Western music are long overdue.

The original CD releases, which came out in 1987, sound OK, given the technology at the time. But the remasters -- a stereo boxed set, a mono boxed set and 14 individual CDs will all be released tomorrow -- sound noticeably better, and at best, breathtaking.

If you're an average fan who already has all the Beatles' albums on CD, it's a little hard to justify buying them all again just for better sound quality. If you're a Beatle-maniac, an audiophile or a fan looking to expand your Beatles collection, the remasters are must-haves. ...

For audiophiles: The bottom end, from Ringo's drumming to Paul's bass, has more heft. There's extra oomph on the bass drum in "Mother Nature's Son," and the strings on George's masterpiece, "Within You Without You" slink like never before.

the beatlesNuances like guitar strings being plucked and once-buried harmonies are suddenly, stunningly audible. Remember Paul's fiery solo on "Taxman?" It really sizzles here. And orchestral arrangements on songs such as "Eleanor Rigby" and "Something" sound bigger and bolder than ever before.

This is also the CD stereo debut of the first four albums, which sound remarkably fresh, given that they're almost 50 years old.

For Beatle-maniacs: Each of the CDs comes with long-overdue expanded booklets, featuring liner notes and rare photographs. Why didn't all of the 1987 pressings have these? Also, each disc (except "Past Masters") has a mini-documentary (several minutes, on average) with voice-overs, photos and some video about the making of the album.

For average fans: It took a team of EMI engineers four years to finish the remasters. Their work paid off. These albums are clearer and crisper than ever. The analog hiss is gone, but its warmth, depth and richness remain.

Listening to these CDs, my index finger was almost always on the skip button, but I couldn't press it. I was stuck between the urge to finish listening to one song and the need to see what the next track had in store.

As of now, there is no news on potential Beatles digital releases. It's also sad to think these gorgeous remasters will most likely be lost on my generation -- a generation that's largely content with poor quality mp3s. But there are plenty of audiophiles and Beatle-maniacs who will snap up the re-issues. For them, it will be quite a treat.

(Photos from Baltimore Sun archives)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:38 PM | | Comments (51)
        

Owl Meat's Tipsy Tuesdays: Natty Boh in Panama

soberana I had no idea how wild Panama was until I read this week's guest column by Owl Meat. Wow. I've learned something today: Don't go to Panama. Here's OMG: 

Because I was stuck in Panama City, Panama, I considered  forgoing this week's post. Then circumstance and isthmus weirdness intervened to blow a chunk of Charm City my way in the Land of Unpleasantly Hot Living.  
 
When you've got mad tech skillz, opportunities sometimes plop into your lap. It helps to be genuinely uninterested in any such opportunities.

In a country where businessmen have armed body guards the rules are topsy-turvy. That's why I wear a plastic watch to disguise my American thousandaire status. Despite my reluctance to throw in with shady bankers and ex-black ops wannabes, I will still hang out with anybody with a good story and a drink. ...

I was killing time in a cheap hotel playing nickel slots. A waitress brought me a local beer ironically named Soberana. In Panama City, a Cuba Libre is made with real Cuban rum. For one American dollar you get a pint glass of rum on ice with a splash of Coke, except in the Hotel Guadalupe where it's free with nickel slots. I left there with half a buzz and an extra thirty five cents in my pocket.
 
I heard that the interesting ex-pats hung in one place. I was expecting a dive bar in a treacherous barrio. The name of this Mecca of mercs and maenads, this cathedral of covert? TGI Fridays.
 
My friend Sergeant Chuck, a former Green Beret and now struggling real estate agent, met me at TGIF. It's a surreal time travel experience back to a lame future. Set your Cocktail clock to 1988 and your Cruising altitude to bizarre.
 
TGIF Panama looks like every other TGIF – fake random junk and olde fashiony signs on the walls. The first departure from Kansas: our bartender Onan. Yes, Onan, like the auto-erotic Old Testamentor or Dorothy Parker's canary, who spilt his seed upon the ground. Add bartenders tossing bottles in the air like they just don't care for extra weird.
 
The principals in TGIF held court at the bar with pot stickers and wings, while their "drivers" lingered nearby with shiny unhappy Glocks and Ruger Centerfires. There are few bar fights in Panama with all the legal strapped heat. It's a disquieting kind of safety. There is a kind of fake Fonzie vibe going on. Aaaaaaayyyyy ... let's all be cool. The whiff of possible assassination and kidnapping is the garnish to your Cuba Libre that even Onan can't supply.
 
When I went to the bathroom, I noticed a huge four by ten foot metal sign outside the men's room for Natty Boh beer. What message was the Universe sending me?  It was so obscure. I decided it might be time to come home. Do I wish I had a photo of it?  Yes, but taking pictures outside Panamanian restrooms inhabited by hombres with guns is so ... estupido.

(Photo by Owl Meat)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:57 AM | | Comments (36)
Categories: Owl Meat's Tipsy Tuesdays
        

Sipping a $4 morning margarita at Ale Mary's

$4 margarita at ale mary's Saturday morning, I found myself where Fells Point meets Canton, with some extra time on my hands.

Isn't there some old saying about idle hands? 

I decided to slip inside Ale Mary's, and on my way in, saw $5 margaritas advertised on the chalkboard. Score! I sidled up to the bar and asked for one of their finest $5 margaritas.

When the bartender typed it into the touchscreen, she realized the margaritas were only $4. 

Double score!

"I've got to change the board," she said ...

When the bartender asked me if I wanted some salt on the rim, I politely declined. It was a little too early for big chunks of salt.

Speaking of big chunks of salt, is that authentic? Do they put big chunks of salt on margaritas south of the border? I've never been to Mexico, you know.

The $4 Ale Mary's margarita was served in a Ball jar (nice!) and came with a couple slices of orange and lime. It was also largely composed of liquor, which, consumed pre-noon, was like setting a small forest fire in my belly. I'm not sure how much it normally costs, but for $4, it was quite a deal.

I haven't had too many margaritas around town. And summer is pretty much gone (heck, it was barely here at all this year). But where can I get the best margarita in town?

(Photo by me)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:24 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

September 7, 2009

Checking in with Baltimore children's band Milkshake

milkshakeThere's no doubt about it: Milkshake is one of the region's most popular children's bands.

But when Lisa Mathews and Mikel Gehl founded the band, Mathews didn't think they'd make it so far. They're going to be releasing their fourth studio album this weekend at the B&O Railroad Museum.

Here's a link to a piece I did on Milkshake, which ran in yesterday's paper.

When I was writing this piece, all I could think about was that scene from "There Will Be Blood" when Daniel Day Lewis' deranged character is hollering about drinking the other dude's milkshake. "I DRINK YOUR ... MILKSHAKE!"

Hee hee.

(Handout photo)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:10 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local music
        

September 6, 2009

Concert review: Counting Crows, Michael Franti and Augustana at Merriweather Post Pavilion

Half the seats were empty when Counting Crows singer Adam Duritz snuck out from behind the curtain and sat on the edge of the stage.

It was only 7 p.m. -- no one was expecting any music for another few minutes, at least. But there was Duritz, who greeted the audience, and with the help of a guitarist, eased into an acoustic cover of the Psychedelic Furs song "The Ghost in You."

"We thought we'd sing a song for you before the show starts," he said.

That was just one of many spontaneous moments at last night's show at Merriweather Post Pavilion. The tour, called the Traveling Circus and Medicine Show, was a novel way to present the rock group Augustana, the hip-hop/reggae/funk act Michael Franti and Spearhead and the Counting Crows: Instead of having two openers and a headliner, the three bands traded songs for nearly four hours.

At times, all three bands -- almost 20 musicians all told -- would play at once. That's how they opened the show, with a rendition of Van Morrison's "Caravan." The stage may have looked crowded but didn't sound it; early on, all three bands settled into an easy groove and rarely left it. ...

If last night's show was a circus, Duritz was both ringleader and lovable clown (just swap the colorful wig for some floppy dreadlocks). Singing lead, background or duet, depending on the song, he rarely left the stage.

After nearly two decades of leading the Counting Crows and more than 20 million albums sold worldwide, the 45-year-old front man could still pass for the good-natured guy next door. His voice is every bit as vulnerable and versatile now as it was when he playfully longed for fame in the Counting Crows' first hit, "Mr. Jones." (Last night's version of that song sounded fresh and buoyant, by the way.)

A quibble: Circus may have been a misleading name for this tour -- it was more of a hootenanny or jamboree than a wild and crazy spectacle. Besides, Britney Spears has the circus concept on lock down this year. 

Despite being the final stop on the tour, last night's show sounded fresh and energized. Actress Emmy Rossum joined Duritz for a striking duet of the tune "Going Back To Georgia."

Augustana often slowed down the pace a bit for ambling Americana/rock songs and ballads such as their single "Boston." Lead singer Dan Layus has a great range (and makes some great facial expressions to boot).

Whenever the show seemed to be on the verge of dragging, Franti would emerge and pump things up again. The night's cutest moment came near the end, when, joined by charismatic singer Cherine Anderson, Franti invited a bunch of kids from the audience on stage to help him sing his first Top 40 song, "Say Hey (I Love You)." Anderson was letting the kids sing some of the lyrics. One kid, sporting a Terrell Suggs jersey and jeans and strumming an inflatable guitar, sang "I know one thing / I love you" and raised his right fist in the air. Now that's a rock star in training.

Other high points were the Counting Crows ballad "A Long December," and "Hanginaround" -- the Crows' laid back ode to slacking.

The five-song encore started with a foot-stomping cover of Simon and Garfunkel's "Cecilia" and ended with Woodie Guthrie's classic singalong, "This Land is Your Land."

As the show was winding down, Duritz grabbed a mic and reflected on the past several weeks.

"It's three bands, but I think as you've seen tonight, it's one band," he said. "For the first time in a long time, I remember what it's like to deeply love music."

After seeing last night's show, I believe it.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 6:18 PM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Concert reviews
        

September 5, 2009

Catching up with Karl Denson

karl denson The first time I saw Karl Denson's Tiny Universe was at the 9:30 Club in 2001 or 2002. I remember immediately thinking two things: 1) Man, saxophonist/flutist Denson can really play and 2) Denson has some massive muscles.

Denson was the sax man for rocker Lenny Kravitz, and has had side gigs with the Greyboy Allstars and the Tiny Universe for years.

I caught up with Denson to talk about his new album "Brother's Keeper," which comes out Sept. 15, and, of course, his muscles.

Tomorrow, Karl Denson's Tiny Universe will perform as part of Sonar's Traffic Jam. More info on the outdoor festival here.

What can you tell me about "Brother's Keeper?"

That record's been a long time coming for me. My last tiny universe record was in 2004 when we put out an EP. So I've been doing a lot of writing. There's been a lot of stuff written and thrown away and written and thrown away. I took a handful of the stuff that actually made it over the last few years and some new ideas that came about based on what's going on right now in my life.

What's going on right now in your life?

Raising kids, watching the world change. Hopefully maturing a bit myself. And seeing a lot to do with the music industry. I've gone through my period of not knowing what I want to do. I'm back on my own track, I believe. ...

What do you want to do?

I want to make good music. I want to make what I believe as opposed to what I think other people might like. There's times when you can lose your way.

To me, the songs on your 2002 album "The Bridge" seem to be inspired by '70s grooves. "Brother's Keeper" seems to go back a little further. It feels like it's got some of the punch and energy of the '60s.

You're exactly right. The idea of making "Brother's Keeper" was to make a new soul record -- a Motown soul record, from my point of view.

Why did you want to make a record with that feel?

The biggest thing I like about those records is the production value. With the sound of Philadelphia or Motown, you had more layers of people involved. You had a rhythm arranger, a songwriter, horn arrangers, string arrangers. It had more depth. I really spent a lot of time writing the songs and spent time with other people who helped me write the songs. It has a little more humanity in it.

Who were some of those people?

David Veith, my keyboard player in my band, was very involved. I wrote the record and I had him re-write it. Then Jon Foreman, the lead singer from Switchfoot, co-wrote three songs on it. Then I had some of my horn player friends and some of the guys from Daptone Records do some of the horn arranging. And then Henry Hirsch was involved as an engineer for the session. He worked with Lenny Kravitz for years and years. He recorded and helped produce the record.

As a musician, do you have a different relationship with the saxophone than you do with the flute?

Yes. I'm a much better saxophone player than a flute player. I have a lot more control of the saxophone. But I enjoy playing the flute more, because of the sound of it. When it's really working, on stage when the sound is good and I'm playing my flute, it's really the coolest thing in the world. The saxophone is cool and I love it, but the flute's got a special place for me right now. Before I die I want to get to the point where I've somewhat mastered the instrument.

I think one of my first impressions of seeing you live was just how ripped you were. The flute almost looked like a toothbrush in your hands. Do you still work out that much?

The funniest part of that is, everybody thinks I'm a weightlifter, but I've never lifted weights in my life. It's my dad. My dad was built just like me. It's completely hereditary. I've got a daughter who has forearms and calves.

Really?

Yeah. I have guys walk up to me all the time and go, 'Dude, I know that's genetic. Gimme two years and you could be Mr. America.' They get all psyched up. But I've never lifted weights. I do a mixture of Tai Chi and swimming. I try to swim a mile every couple days.
Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:11 AM | | Comments (0)
        

September 4, 2009

Greektown bar punished for unlicensed adult activity, public urination

This is almost too bizarre to be true. Almost.

Yesterday, the liquor board had a hearing to determine the fate of the Greektown bar Azteca de Oro (4901 Eastern Ave.), which had a series of wild, unruly incidents this summer.

Liquor board inspectors paid two visits to Azteca de Oro this summer -- first on July 25 and again Aug. 25. The first time, the inspector walked in and saw a nearly naked woman being fondled by several men ...

According to Stephan Fogleman, chairman of the Board of Liquor License Comissioners, the inspector told the woman to put some clothes on. The woman said all her clothes were in her car outside, and if she went out there to get them, she'd be arrested for indecent exposure. They had to have someone retrieve the woman's clothes for her.

The second time a liquor board inspector dropped by Azteca de Oro, patrons were carrying open containers outside the bar in plain view of the bouncers. They were also urinating on the steps of neighboring buildings -- including the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox church.

When the owners came before the liquor board, they admitted to the offenses but weren't apologetic, Fogleman said.

"It was almost unrepentant and certainly nonchalant," he said.

The liquor board suspended Azteca de Oro's license for six months, and did not offer a stay of appeal.
Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:25 AM | | Comments (22)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

Dig our digital Fall Arts Guide

u2A couple times a year, a bunch of Sun arts writers and editors put their heads together and come up with a pretty comprehensive events guide.

The latest one is the Baltimore Sun Fall Arts Guide.

Dig it

I wrote a little bit about the Sept. 29 U2 concert at FedEx Field, which promises to be quite the show.

(Getty Images)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:00 AM | | Comments (6)
        

September 3, 2009

Checking in with the Counting Crows

counting crowsI think it's safe to say if it wasn't for guitarist David Immergluck, there might not be a Counting Crows.

Way back in the '80s, Immergluck introduced singer Adam Duritz to guitarist David Bryson, who went on to form a duo they called the Counting Crows. Immergluck himself played on all their albums, and joined the group full-time in 1999.

Here's a link to a piece I did on the band in today's paper. They're performing at Merriweather Post Pavilion Saturday with Augustana and Michael Franti and Spearhead ...

I asked Immergluck to pick the Counting Crows song that resonates with him most at the moment. He chose "Long December."

"It's just one of the more perfect Counting Crows songs," he said. "It's cheesy to choose it. ... We do a lot of different things, but if someone who had never heard the Counting Crows wanted an example of what the Counting Crows sounds like in one song, that would be the one I'd play."

(Photo by Getty Images)
Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:22 PM | | Comments (6)
        

What Baltimore bars are in the most interesting buildings?

Elizabeth Large sent me a great idea for a blog: What Baltimore (and county) bars happen to be in either historic or just cool/weird buildings?

I believe Mad River in South Baltimore was once a bank of some sort. And I know Ron Furman, the owner of Max's Taphouse, has cannibalized the ruins of Baltimore institutions and incorporated them into the Fells Point bar.

What else ya got for me?

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:28 AM | | Comments (22)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

September 2, 2009

What is "moderate" drinking?

ohboywhatbeer.JPGOK gang, I've got a question: How much alcohol do you consume on the average weeknight? And what kind of alcohol?

Granted, this varies, depending on what you're doing. If you're at a restaurant, you might drink a little more, because, well, you're out and about.

Personally, I tend to drink less if I'm out to dinner on a Tuesday night (unless it's a special occasion), because it costs so much.

But if I'm chilling at home on a Tuesday night, I'll have a beer. Maybe two beers. Or a glass of wine. In the summer, I like a gin and tonic before bed (extra lime, of course). Tonight, I'm planning on having a cigar, which means I'll probably have a glass of scotch.

The reason I ask all this is, I consider a beer or two (even if it's a high-test beer like Clipper City IPA) to be "moderate drinking."

Now, when I go out on Friday nights and down an entire bottle of Courvoisier in 27 minutes -- I call that "heavy drinking."* ...

Then I read this New York Times piece about studies of how drinking can help the mind (oh yeah, baby). The studies defined "light to moderate" drinking as having 1 to 28 drinks a week.

Huh?

1-28 drinks a week? That's a pretty big window, buddy.

That's the difference between one glass of Courvoisier and a whole bottle (depending on the size of the glass, of course). I drink mine out of a large bull's horn. But that's beside the point. 

The point is, I feel like one or two drinks on a weeknight is "moderate," and four drinks on a weeknight is a bit more than "moderate." What are your weeknight drinking habits, and what do you consider "moderate"?

*My lawyers have advised me to formally note sarcasm in my blogs. That way, I can't be sued for libel, slander or self-deprecation.

(Baltimore Sun archive photo)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:13 PM | | Comments (20)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

New York Yankees hold fantasy football draft in ESPN Zone

a-rodPro athletes play fantasy football, too.

Sunday evening, a ton of New York Yankees dropped by ESPN Zone in the Inner Harbor to conduct their fantasy football draft in a private room.

"The whole team was there -- Jeter, A-Rod, Teixeira, Joba, etc.," ESPN Zone publicist Kat Kirsch wrote in an e-mail.

I wonder who got Ray Lewis?

(AP photo)

 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:05 PM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, Celebrity sightings
        

Billabong is closed

billabong bar is closedBillabong Bar has closed.

Sorry -- this is kind of stale news. I've been swamped lately, and have a bunch of backlogged blogs.

Brian McComas and the other folks invoved with the Ryleigh's/Billabong/Taverna Corvino franchise decided to move the license from Billabong to the forthcoming Federales Cantina. It's right around the corner on South Charles Street (across from the market).

The building that housed Billbong needed tons of repairs, and McComas said he couldn't justify pouring a lot of money into the place.

(Photo by me)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:45 AM | | Comments (9)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

September 1, 2009

Owl Meat's Tipsy Tuesdays: The asparagus drip

asparagus drip

Even if this is true, I don't think I'm going to be wringing asparagus stalks into my mouth the morning after a bender. Owl Meat, however, sounds quite pumped:

News flash – asparagus may cure your hangover. Really. According to new research, minerals and amino acids in asparagus leaves and shoots may actually ease the symptoms of a hangover and protect your liver from the toxins associated with alcohol and its metabolism.
 
“Cellular toxicities were significantly alleviated in response to treatment with the extracts of asparagus leaves and shoots,” said lead researcher B.Y. Kim, in a news release from the Institute of Food Technologists. “These results provide evidence of how the biological functions of asparagus can help alleviate alcohol hangover and protect liver cells.”
 
This could be huge. I'm not aware of any scientific studies that have shown anything to be effective at curing a hangover. Most focus on prevention. Plus every Dr. Obvious says, "Well, you knoooooow, the best cure is to not drink too much in the first place." ...

I wanted to know what amino acids and minerals they were crediting, but I can't access the article online. There are only so many amino acids, the building blocks of protein. I assume that the main amino acid here is asparagine, which was the first amino acid isolated in 1806 from asparagus juice.
 
Asparagine is what gives your urine that distinctive asparagus smell. I love the scene in the movie Election where the two high school girls use their asparagine whiff time as a love-bonding experience.
 
I searched high and low but could find no asparagus wine, liquor, or liqueur. I was not surprised. Ever hear of drink involving asparagus? Me neither, but maybe some day given the new research.
 
Oh sweet asparagatini! How about a spear of the 'gus in a Bloody Mary?  I could do that. Pickled baby asparagus in your martini? Perhaps some day. I smell a future trend. Ewwwww.

(Photo by Getty Images)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:47 AM | | Comments (9)
Categories: Owl Meat's Tipsy Tuesdays
        

Concert review: The Killers at Merriweather Post Pavilion last night

the killersFrom the moment the roadies started setting up the stage, you could tell it was going to be an over-the-top concert.

Five palm trees? Check. One large urn loaded with fresh flowers? Check. A piano dotted with small square mirrors? Check. Oh, and let's not forget the neon trimmings, pyrotechnics, confetti and video screens.

The Killers brought plenty of Las Vegas flair to Merriweather Post Pavilion last night. They cranked through their high-energy, 80-minute show with business-like efficiency. The music was flashy and bombastic, and the set was filled with fist-pumping dance rock anthems.

Singer (and sometimes keyboardist) Brandon Flowers emerged sporting a black suit coat with feather epaulets. Thankfully, he discarded the thing after a couple songs and proceeded to stalk across the stage. ...

While guitarist Dave Keuning and bassist Mark Stoermer stayed put in their corners of the stage for most of the night, Flowers pranced around, waving his arms, hopping up on monitors and staring wistfully into the audience with an arm outstretched. Every once in a while, he'd hit a few keys on one of his synthesizers, or open a song with a few bars of piano. But it was clear he was there to sing -- not play.

the killersFor all his theatrics, Flowers didn't look all that comfortable on stage. But drummer Ronnie Vannucci Jr. (how's that for a rock name?) worked it as much as any man who's stuck on a stool can work it.

The Killers tore into "Spaceman," a song from their latest album, "Day & Age," and followed it up with a fiery performance of their very first single, "Somebody Told Me." They started hard and only slowed the pace for "Smile Like You Mean It," which the band began as a surprisingly effective acoustic number and gradually turned electric.

Though the lyrics might sound good, it's often hard to pin down exactly what many of the Killers' songs are about. Take, for example, "All These Things That I've Done," in which Flowers sings, "I've got soul / but I'm not a soldier." Live, he had thousands of young fans chanting the line. What does it mean? Umm ... stop asking questions and just dance.

The four-piece closed out their show with "Jenny Was a Friend of Mine," and Flowers' opus, "When You Were Young." Flowers takes himself a little too seriously, but that's easily overlooked. What mattered was, the crowd wanted to be entertained, and The Killers delivered.

(Photos by Getty Images)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:00 AM | | Comments (27)
Categories: Concert reviews
        
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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at erik.maza@baltsun.com. Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.
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