Month: October 2011

What a week.

This week has been pretty hectic. That is, compared to my usual weekly routine of computer computer food computer sleep, it’s been pretty jam-packed with activity.

Now as I’m sure you’re aware, Symphony X are one of my all-time favorite bands. And this week I got the chance to see them live.

‘Twas awesome.

Russell Allen, without doubt the coolest fuck on the planet.

On a normal week, I never make it a goal of mine to go and see a band live. The most influential contributing factor to this decision is probably the fact that hardly anyone ever actually visits King’s Lynn. Around here it’s mostly flat land and consanguineous breeding. Not many awesome, well-known rock bands or successful comedians actually dare venture through this neck of the woods for fear of being “dull”ed to death.

But when I learnt that Symphony X and their friends in DGM, another amazing progressive metal band, were coming to England at the end of their Europe tour, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see them. And since my time in this country was absolutely and definitely limited, and I had vowed to make the most of it, not attending was not even an option.

It was in Islington, London, though. About 150 miles away.

Well, you can’t alter the geography of the country. Clearly, we were going to have to travel.

My dad and brother came along with me. We travelled down to my nan’s house (a journey that at the best of times takes about 2½ hours) to stop off for a quick bite to eat, and a lift to the train station, which wasn’t too far away. From there we travelled into the heart of London and took the underground tube train to where the venue was. London’s street maps aren’t the most intuitive, though – apparently having the maps upside-down is useful to some people, but definitely not us – and it took some perseverance to actually find it.

So we finally found the venue, a small-ish auditorium that could comfortably house 800 large, hairy metalheads (god damn were some of those dudes big) but at the time was probably only holding about half that many. We were expertly blown away by DGM – the warm-up act – so we were ready to be blasted back to the stone age by Symphony X.

It was at this point that I met up with Alex Taylor, who goes by the name BoldEnglishman on one of my Doom forums, who’d just arrived at the venue. This was my first in-person meeting with a fellow forumite and it was all pretty exciting stuff. Just as Symphony X took to the stage, we made our way into the room and got into a small pocket of space off to the side, next to the bar. As the band went through their set, playing the songs we loved, we screamed the lyrics into each others’ faces, and headbanged with limitless gusto (that is, up until my headache levelled itself up from “annoying pang” to “possible incoming migraine”). In all, huge fun was had by both parties.

Possibly the absolute highlight of the night was the part where a huge choral solo part in the middle of one of their songs was left entirely to the audience. Russell simply tilted his mic towards the crowd and the words sang themselves. It was one of the most powerful things I’ve ever been a part of.

The whole experience was like nothing I’d had before – and I liked it. There were enough people to not feel claustrophobic (though you did occasionally get people weaving in and out of the mass of bodies with overflowing glasses of beer), and the band weren’t incredibly loud. I mean, sure, they were loud, but not as loud as I expected. I was honestly expecting to not be able to hear for several days afterwards and come away with mixed feelings of amazement at having finally seen my favorite metal band in the flesh, and chronic misery at my eardrums having been sonically assailed. But I left the venue with only the former sensation, and in place of the latter, a feeling of peace and fulfillment, like having just taken a really good shower. Odd, considering I’d been shrieking lyrics pertaining to eternal damnation, unbridled technological devastation and “unleash[ing] the fire”. But it was a sense of peace. My sense of hearing wasn’t even that numbed. It was magical.

…My feet sodding hurt, though. All that jumping and screaming had given them a pretty thorough workout.

Also, seeing the raw synergy in both bands’ performances cemented my desire to actually be in a band one day. I’ve been a solo artist all my life, and it’s been awesome and all, but the adrenaline and the positive energy gotten from playing songs live with your mates has got to be a massive step up from that – especially if they’re songs you and they have collectively written. To find a place in a band will be high on my list of priorities once we get out to Australia.

This guy is also pretty cool, but I feel slightly less inclined to call him a fuck.

That’s just one of the things I’ve been up to this week.

Yesterday my brother and I got driven down to the King’s Lynn Corn Exchange to see one of my favorite comedians, Tony Hawks.

No, not Tony Hawk. The guy we saw was quite a bit funnier than the guy you’re probably thinking of. For one thing, he’s frequently mistaken for the professional skateboarder to whom a seemingly unending array of video games are attributed, and he gets hundreds of emails from rabid American youths asking him to teach them how to do a 909.

And he replies to them. He reeled several of them off in his routine yesterday. To be honest, the emails themselves are hilarious – let alone his snarky replies.

Despite all this, he comes across as a genuinely friendly guy, like an old mate you haven’t seen for years, giving you an update on his life in the form of a deliberately joke-saturated and slightly overtheatrical soliloquy. Some comedians come across as a bit overbearing and self-superior. Not Tony.

He’s a musical man, as well, and there’s no questioning his lyrical ability, especially when it comes to writing gut-bustingly funny stuff. I can really identify with his over-analytical, literalist sense of humour, that really stands out best during his “rhetorical questions” song. My parents didn’t tag along this time, but I don’t doubt that they would’ve loved it, especially my dad, who is into music himself.

All in all, this week has been pretty damn epic. Just four more to go before… “the move”.

Bricking it.

New track on SoundCloud! (Random solo)

I got bored one day and decided to record myself doing some crazy soloing with my keyboard.

My skill with this kind of thing is something I’ve been working at for a while, and you can hear a few hiccups every now and then in my performance, but what you’re hearing is a 100% live sequence, with the sound provided by Reason’s Subtractor synth.

Listen!

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/26170793″]

“That’s Mega, Man!” (New tune!)

I just attended my first One Hour Compo over on ThaSauce.net. This week’s theme was “The Game”. I like videogames so I decided to do a short Megaman-ish chiptune. 😛

This all took place about 12 hours ago, meaning I was almost asleep by the time it ended, but here it is. ‘Twas good fun, but due to when the event is held (every Thursday, at 2am GMT+1) I won’t be doing this every week, especially since my sleep schedule has to be disciplined quite rigorously in order for my body to function at the most basic levels during the day.

Anyway, you can listen to the tune beloooooow!

Download! (1:19)

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I hate mice

No, computer mice.

I seem to have had nothing but trouble after trouble with mine. The lovely little laser mouse I got with this lappy died on me a while ago, after having no problems in the two years or so that I had it. I had to have one nearly twice the size as a replacement, which took a bit of getting used to. 🙁

My brother’s was exactly the same when he had it, but for some reason his took like an extra ounce of pressure just to click. It’s a wonder his index finger didn’t become a professional wrestler.

Then, the one I got after my first one died developed an utterly insane problem. It would unclick in the middle of a prolonged click (making click-and-drag selection virtually impossible), or outright fail to click at all. This was so frustrating for me, I slammed it against the work surface in a fit of unbridled and unjustifiable rage when it misbehaved, which probably made the problem so much worse. At the time I was working on my Music Tech A2 project and I think I might have gotten a few odd looks from my classmates when this happened.

I’ve had horrible luck with mousemats, too. The one I’m using at the moment is fine, but I can recall being virtually unable to move my mouse around on it at some point. Might’ve been a problem with the mouse, but it sure “felt” like it was the mat’s fault.

Most recently, my current mouse has been playing up in ridiculous ways periodically. The left-mouse button and the middle button will sometimes click twice. If I’m moving the mouse while it happens, it will often click in two places at once simultaneously. If I’m opening a new tab in Firefox I’ll get the same one appearing twice – sometimes even three times.

Throughout the worst spells of this technical nightmare, mapping for Doom becomes nigh-impossible, especially when selecting several items at once – things will be deselected randomly, or a window will pop up when it’s the last thing I want, and it likes to select things I don’t even remember moving my mouse anywhere near. Browsing on the internet becomes frought with paranoia because whenever I click a window away, whatever is beneath will also be clicked (sometimes twice) – a couple of times now I’ve accidentally clicked on ads, which is of course a stupid thing to do. I become so paranoid due to the arrogant behavior of my mouse, that when I make myself sandwiches, I get the irrational and horrible feeling that my finger is going to click on the bread twice and it will end up clicking a popup underneath or something.

Also it likes to do exactly the opposite and cut out randomly, or just slow down for a few seconds during a crucial game or at a point where I need to move a window critically. Yeah, thanks there, buddy. ^_^

Also fuck Mac mice. What the hell’s going on there.