Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Gaslight Anthem in Portland

Last night I was back up in Portland again to see Gaslight Anthem at Berbati's Pan. It was another really great show! Gaslight Anthem is a New Jersey rock/punk band with a clear Springsteen influence. The lead singer has a great, soulful, slightly gravelly voice, and their lyrics are pure rock n roll poetry. Much like Springsteen, their songs tend to tell stories.

Once again, the Portland crowd didn't disappoint, dancing wildly and shouting the lyrics along with the band. There was limited moshing, as Berbati's is pretty small, and I managed to keep myself out of the pit. It was really hot, though. Someday I'll go to a venue in Portland that has discovered air conditioning.

Kind of a frustrating ride on Willow tonight. Oh, well, it never hurts to get a lesson in humility. And tomorrow is another day.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Flogging Molly in Portland

Yesterday a friend and I drove up to Portland to see Flogging Molly at the Roseland Theatre. They're a Celtic punk band with some of the most awesomely danceable music I've ever heard. The Roseland is a pretty intimate venue; the show was sold out, and I'd guess there were about 500-600 people on the main floor. There were two opening acts, and the crowd was appreciative but fairly laid back. My friend and I were in the middle of the crowd, about thirty feet in front of the stage.

Around 10 p.m. Flogging Molly took the stage and launched into their first song. The crowd immediately erupted into a close approximation of a prison riot.

Sometimes, you don't choose to mosh, the mosh chooses you.

My friend and I were at ground zero of a fairly sizable mosh pit, and for the next fifteen minutes I just tried to keep my feet under me. It was insane. I'd fought really hard to get as close to the stage as I was, though, so I wasn't giving up so easily. And, actually, it was pretty fun. I just went with the flow. Band leader Dave King presided gleefully over the mayhem.

After about three songs exhaustion started to set in, and except for a small pit right in front of the stage, most everyone dialed it back a notch -- still a crazily energetic crowd, but with less slamming back and forth. It was incredibly hot and humid. I wondered a few times if I would feel anything before I passed out, or if I would just hit the floor, but happily I never lost consciousness. It was such a great show, and the band played a ton of songs plus one encore.

As the crowd exited the venue, I noticed that everyone was so sweaty we looked like we had all been sprayed with a fire hose. I was actually wringing sweat out of my hair. I know, gross. I am relatively undamaged today -- just some bruises on my arms, ribs, and feet. And if I ever get to see FM again, I will be prepared with:


    Steel-toed boots
    Change of clothes (mine were drenched)
    Ponytail

If you ever have the chance to see them, and you can leave your personal space issues at home, go!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Post-lesson notes

I had a super lesson this morning. We didn't do anything fancy--just trot and canter on a twenty-meter circle, but we got Willow as light as she's ever been, and the half-halts were going through all the way. I can tell, because Willow grunts when she receives an effective half-halt. It's cute.

Earlier in the week I had noticed that dye from the saddle was not coloring the full-seat of my new breeches evenly. My right leg was quite dark, and my left not much at all. A clue! Willow tends to want to lock on the left rein when tracking right, and bulge her rib cage when tracking left. Obviously, I'm not using that left leg effectively. I mentioned this to my trainer today, and she was happy I noticed and brought it to her attention. You can't fix something if you don't realize you're doing it.

When Willow is sucking back, she gets incredibly wormy. Leslie variously describes her as an octopus and a blowfish. All her energy starts trying to shoot out in every direction, and she gets very wide with her legs. It used to be a huge problem, but I'm getting better and better at feeling when she tries to suck back and sending her forward.

At the end of the lesson the canter was just super. Willow was actually asking me to shorten the reins, she was so up in front. This is a first! Also, she gets kudos for maintaining focus while a nutty four-year-old kicked up his heels, first on the lunge and then under saddle. Good mare.

One more ride tomorrow, and then she gets Tuesday off while I buzz up to Portland to see Flogging Molly.

Monday, September 7, 2009

What 90% looks like

Edward Gal and Moorlands Totilas

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Christian Kane at Dante's

Last night a friend and I trekked up to Portland to see Christian Kane's last show at Dante's. Christian Kane is an actor currently starring in the TNT show Leverage. I know him better from Joss Whedon's Angel, but I did my homework and watched the first episode of Leverage before I left for the show. Leverage just ended its second season, and last night's show was an unofficial wrap party.

The show films in Portland and also stars Timothy Hutton. All summer, Christian Kane has been performing at Dante's and has developed an avid following. Last night most of the stars of the show were in attendance as well as some of the behind-the-scenes people. I overheard a fellow say he was responsible for planning how to blow things up.

The video below shows one of the stars, Aldis Hodge, playing emcee. I know Hodge best from roles on Supernatural and Friday Night Lights. The sound in the clip is not great (oh, and there's a swear word; don't say I didn't warn you), but he basically announces that Leverage has been picked up for a third season and will continue to film in Portland, meaning that Chris Kane's band will be back at Dante's next summer. Then, Timothy Hutton comes out and gets a big welcome. After the show, Hutton mingled with the crowd and was standing about fifteen feet away for a few minutes. He's quite adorable. We also spotted Richard Kind (Mad About You) standing right behind us.

On September 15 I'll be heading back to Portland to see Flogging Molly, and on September 22 I'll be back again to see Gaslight Anthem. I also just heard that the English Beat is coming back to Eugene this fall. Yay!

I was having some frustrations with Willow Friday night, and Leslie said something that I need to keep in mind. She said, "You know, all the repetitive circle work is boring, but it gets her moving correctly. Too many big horses are ruined by people who aren't patient enough to teach them to move correctly." A good reminder not to push too hard too soon.