Thursday, October 18, 2012

New York Comic Con 2012

That's just the lobby overflow on Saturday. Artist Alley was past that Walking Dead poster at the end.
A comic con is my happy place. This happy place is made exponentially better when I don't have to get on a plane to get there. And though I'm one of "those" people who generally walks past the superhero stuff to get at the oddball vinyl toys (or stare at the Masters of the Universe display), shop the lowbrow art mini pop-up stores, or explore the more eclectic booths on the show floor, New York Comic Con has always been a good time. As a total bonus, I also get to check in with all the wonderful people I met during my brief stint in the comics world.

Even now, in its sixth year, as NYCC struggles to satisfy the sold-out capacity crowd with an exhausting amount of panels, screenings, show floor space, anime festival, autograph sessions, video game demos—in addition to the core of comics-based programming—it's still impossible to see it all. Craftman Tools had a booth, as did Hallmark and Taschen. NYCC even hosted a Trapped in the Closet sing-along. (Fun fact: according to a Crain's New York Business report, NYCC is the second largest event in New York City.)

Then there are the cosplayers. Few things in the world are more wonderful to see. Walking down aisles crowded with grown men and women dressed as Adventure Time characters, Poison Ivy, Dr. Who, Batman and a myriad of other pop-culture icons is just about the most insightful urban anthropological study one can be privy to.

This guy rules.
Want to talk about people giving no fucks? Cosplayers had no shame in their games and it was inspiring to watch. And photograph—since almost everyone's goal seemed to be finding a spot in a blog's photo gallery (mission accomplished). Truly, it's the least any of us can do to pay tribute to the many hours some spent on homemade costumes, perfecting every detail. And those who half-assed it were even more funny to check out.

On the metal tip, Kirk Hammett signed copies of his new book, the Metal Sucks bros shared a booth with Vertebrae 33 and hosted autograph sessions by Dee Snider, Alex Skolnick (who actually plugged in and played in the middle of the show floor) and tattoo legend Paul Booth. And Integrity frontman Dwid Hellion released a really ugly looking toy. As much as I love the band, there's no way I'm paying $85 for a figure that looks like a tar-dipped plucked turkey (and couldn't stand without holding the included staff).

Thee Black Heksen by Dwid Hellion

Things I bought included three of the five Frank Kozik x Kidrobot Goon Squad busts, the first Alex Pardee book, mini card prints by an artist named Seymour who showed at the Strychnin Gallery booth (a really cool Berlin-based gallery) and the graphic novel tribute to Mercyful Fate. Want to see what I saw? Check out my gallery here.

Until next year...

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Into Another Live Again

More of my crappy pics here.

It's probably been 15 years since I last witnessed Into Another perform at Irving Plaza, and in all that time dudes still haven't figured out how to mosh to them. Yet the audience at the final installment of the East Coast Revelation 25 shows couldn't help but try when the homegrown act started their set with the underground hit, "Underlord."

Eventually, the pit settled into a sinuous ebb and flow befitting the unconventional band. Richie Birkenhead's vocals, still as screechy and polarizing as ever made for the perfect counterbalance to Peter Moses' stadium-worthy guitar tones. Into Another ran through a tight, hour-plus long set that included "Running Into Walls," "Poison Fingers," "While I Die," "T.A.I.L." and "The Other." The closest I came to heaven was when they dove into "William."

The omitted "Two Snowflakes" and "Maritime Murder" were sorely missed, especially baffling since "May I" was included in the Irving Plaza set. Evidently, their performance was fairly different from their show the night before at Saint Vitus Bar.

Rounded out by ex-Ignite guitarist Brian Balchack and bassist Reid Black, Into Another made sure to pay tribute to their late bassist (and ex-Whiplash metaller) Tony Bono. "We want to send a huge wave of love up to Tony," said Birkenhead. Also announced onstage was their four-day East Coast run in December, including a stop at Bowery Ballroom on December 16. I'll be there. And if you need more incentive to join me, check out some reunion footage from the CA Revelation 25 show, as well as Saint Vitus.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

New Rules: Smartphones and Concerts

I go to a lot of shows. And as an avid concertgoer, I've noticed a near-total loss of common courtesy amongst fellow attendees when it comes to smartphone (and camera) usage at live events. Most recently, I was at an Afghan Whigs show at Terminal 5 when I witnessed some of the most mind-boggling behavior before me.

While the Afghan Whigs were putting on a phenomenal, deep cut-filled rock n roll show, some asshats in front of me were too busy to notice. Why? They were streaming baseball games on their phones. That is, when they weren't busy checking stats on the brightest screen I've seen in my life. During the second song into the set.

After a while, I had to say something. It went a little like this:

Me: "Hey! When you go to baseball games, do you stream live concerts?"
Jerk: "No, but this is the playoffs."
Me: "So?"
Jerk: "So, the Orioles haven't been in the playoffs in 15 years."
[My friend chimes in]: "The Afghan Whigs haven't played in 15 years!" 

Amazingly, I guilted him into walking away. But for every one guy who figures out they're not the only one distracted by his phone screen at a sold-out show, there are tens of thousands who think paying for a ticket (or getting on a guest list) entitles them to act as if they're the only ones in the audience.

Perhaps I'm extra sensitive because of my 5'3" stature and it's hard enough to find an unobstructed view without winding up standing behind That Guy. The problem is, everyone is turning into That Guy. It might be time for some new rules.

The New Etiquette for Using Tech Toys at Concerts

1. Even though you spent two grand on a tricked-out DSLR, you are not entitled to shove past people to get a vantage point to shoot. If you're on assignment, get there early. If you must squeeze in somewhere, ask nicely, take your shot and get out of the way.

2. There's nothing wrong with taking a couple of snapshots for posterity (and Instagram), but quit it after a couple of shots. You're not selling these pics to Rolling Stone. Put down your iPhone and just watch the show.

3. Stop recording videos at shows. In addition to spending all your time staring at the tiny screen instead of, say, the band playing in front of you, you wind up obscuring the view of everyone behind you. And really, do you want to spend the entire night raising your hand like you're Sure? 

4. Oh, is it just your favorite song you'd like to capture? Try holding the camera upward within the frame of your body so the people behind you don't become distracted by this whole ordeal.

5. Turn down the brightness on your phone. When a venue's lights are dimmed, your bright-ass phone becomes that much more distracting. 

6. Save the Facebook and Twitter scrolling for in between acts. Beyond the fact that this is the ultimate insult to the band onstage, aren't you embarrassed to be doing it during a performance? I would be.

7. Learn from the tale of my sports-loving brethren: Live in the moment and leave all other streaming events at the door. So what if you're bored or can "multitask"? The rest of us shouldn't be forced to.

8. If you do any of the above with an iPad, the person behind you should be allowed to take said tablet out of your hands and hit you upside the head with it.