Thursday, October 29, 2015

Freeze: Live at the Highline 3

Summer 2015. Me, Andrew, Liz.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Ghost—acoustic in Seattle, family-friendly

Papa, the Ghouls, and my girls

The Ghost show at Silver Platters was hot, stuffy, harder for my wife and I than possibly anyone else there—and totally worth it.

Only two of the five Ghouls played the music behind Papa, which was disappointing. I had hoped for a full experience, with the keyboardist, bassist, and drummer to all perform cool, acoustic versions of their respective axes. The minimalism did provide, however, an intimate portrait of Ghost, and overall it was very enjoyable. Those boys have great stage presence.

As we all know by now, as this review is coming out quite late, the two Ghouls were the guitarists, playing acoustic guitars. Papa debuted his new Papa III outfit, sans mitre, allowing his black, shortish-long hair to flow freely.

My wife and I took the kids, which provided challenges, but we took them on, knowing there would be payoff. The waiting was the hardest part. Outside, it was one half-hour, and it wasn't terrible. The girls could run around a little. But inside, on that concrete floor, packed in with other Ghost fans, we had to wait for an hour, and it was pretty unbearable. They girls didn't understand why there was so much waiting for the band to come out. Lucy wanted to go home before the show even started. All the tall adults dwarfed them, and also had no interest in them. So they were surrounded by legs and butts. These normal things adults go through to see a show are really tough on kids. Kids have an excess of energy, until they don't—and it's downhill from there.

But we didn't stay inside the whole time. After another half-hour, I took them outside, if for nothing else than to get some air and move the limbs. We walked one block away, and lo and behold¡—yonder greasy diner appears! A perfectly nice, greasy diner with a homey feel and a Super Nintendo (unhooked), some games, and some VHS tapes in a shoe box under the square tv up on the wall. I got the kids a couple juices and we sat on some cushy benches. It was what they needed.

This was turning out to be a hard night for the kids, and as we got to relax and sit in that booth, I started to bad for them. But, I was keeping my cool, and Ghost was about to play, so my interest and excitement were maintaining. The entire Unholy / Unplugged tour was announced quite quickly before it began, and Seattle was their first stop. So I was proud to be there, and I knew it would be worth it when the show commenced. That's why I was not giving in and going home yet. The kids really had to buckle down, buck up, and stay with us, but it was going to pay off. Well, Lucy had to, really. Beatrix was fine.

Papa's costume was a surprise, but I thought it was super cool. It confused the girls a little bit. I was glad to see that the two ghouls were in their new version-three-costumes. And Megan and I knew that this time was coming, so we buckled down, bucked up, and carried the kids on our backs. It was the only way they were going to be able to see the band.

It was hot in there, at the end of a dry, hot, Seattle summer. Papa said, twice, "Boy, is it hot in here," stressing the 'boy' more the second time. He was right. With the kid on my shoulders, I was sweating bullets. Covered in sweat. My shirt was soaked before long.

Shortly after they got onstage, Papa saw Lucy on Megan's back, waved, and said, in a really nice tone of voice, "Hello, little girl!" Then, "Let's hear it for the children."

It made me really happy. I think it was lost on the girls. Lucy was in a pretty bad mood having had to wait that whole time, but I think seeing papa and the ghouls playing guitar was enough to take her out of it a bit—however, it was a lot for her to take in. They all look kind of scary, right? Those masks are creepy, they definitely pull off a great pretend-undead look. Our kids did have a good introduction to the band, having watched plenty of music and live videos of the band before the show, but seeing it in person, even this minimalist, acoustic version, nailed it home for them. People wearing masks while performing onstage are creepy.

The banter and introductions before each song were really charming, and I think Papa was trying out some new material, and just the overall showrunner, frontman-type of personality he had been developing since day one, when they looked more like zombies, and he was Papa Emeritus I, skull-faced.

So they opened with "Jigolo Har Megiddo," busted into "Ghuleh / Zombie Queen," and did their Roky Erickson cover, "If You Have Ghosts." Then it was done! And we were all like, wut? And then people were already hurrying, from the back corner of the crowd across the room from us, to get in line to get the signed lithographs and meet the band.

It was nice to not have to carry the kid anymore, though. Part of me thought, "Bless you, gentlemen, a mercifully short show." And the rest of me thought, "I'm a show veteran and Ghost devotee, play more you wusses!" I see now why they cut it short—free show, plus save time for the meet-and-greet. So it's fine.

We hit the line somewhere near the very back, which sucked. It took a long time after that to reach the band, and I think Lucy was near her wits' end. She did cry, and Megan took them outside for a few minutes, during which the line moved maybe 10 feet. I could tell Lucy was thinking, "I endured a shitload of waiting already, we got three songs, it's nighttime, I'm tired, and I now have to wait longer? Screw you guys."

Beatrix, in a fine mood, ran around the aisles and played a little hide-and-seek with me, and checked out the books and dvds. My girl.

Though it was worth the wait for me, I think Megan and Lucy would have rather split. I will never forget, however, the experience I had with Papa, the Ghouls, and my girls.

We got the posters from a few publicity people, had our names written on post-its so Papa would know how to spell our names without us having to, ahem, spell them out, and proceeded toward the band. The Ghouls sat at a table, with stamps. They did not have to sign anything, they just stamped their respective symbols.

Speaking with the guitarists and Papa was fun, interesting, and a little confusing.

Rhythm guitar was first. He tried to give my kids a high-five, I think Beatrix was down. I tried to tell him I can't understand him through a mask, and that he must emote. Durrrr, yeah like a guy who's worn a mask for years has never thought of that. I guess my emphasis was more of how you have to talk to kids. Maybe I wish he was more like a Yo Gabba Gabba! type of character? I dunno. It was really hard to hear him.

Then the other one, lead guitar, Gibson "Explorer" player. "Are you the one I keep seeing on all these interviews and videos?" I asked.

He laughed, which was good to hear, held up his hands and said, "I don't know. Maybe?"

Then it was time for Papa. I love this guy. I told him that my family have been fans of Ghost since the first album, and he nodded in appreciation and thanked me. There was a smile behind his mask, I could tell. And he looked tired of saying thank you. The icy blue contact in his left eye creeped me out a little bit. He quickly asked, leaning back just a little, "Is this your family?"

I said yes, and told him my kids know the words to all their songs. And it's true, they do. He showed great interest in engaging with my kids, as he got down on one knee almost immediately. Lucy stood off behind mama. Beatrix, however, ever the socialite, was holding this makeshift fan that Silver Platters employees had handed out to line-standers, the helpful dudes they are. It had a cheesy, emo band logo on it, and Beatrix had been referring to it as a sign, instead of a fan. Not too for off, right? So she holds it up and says to Papa, "I've got a sign."

He looked confused, and said, "You want me to sign this?" It was loud in there and Bibi was intimidated by this scary-looking dude.

I felt in that moment, the boys could use some coaching as to how to deal with kids. I would have loved it if they could have just lifted off the masks for one, turned-away-from-the-crowd-second, just to show my kids they were real people. But, such is the nature of the band. When my kids are older, they'll understand. We had to hurry along—I had to allow Megan time to talk to the dudes too, and there were people waiting behind us.

We walked out, to our car, headed for blessed home. We had parked behind Silver Platters, and the cargo bay door was open, and we could see the band's backs inside its frame, sitting at the table, diligently stamping, signing autographs, and receiving praise. It was a good ending to the night. I remember being really honored to see these rock stars as people.

We got on a plane three mornings later, and spent the next two weeks in Michigan, the first vacation my family had had in five years. It was lovely. Ghost provided an introduction to that vacation. It took a lot of work to attend that show, but it was totally worth it.

Here are some pictures of the show via Seattle Music Insider.