Sunday, April 01, 2012

Queensryche shakes up Wheeling Island (3-31-12)

Pulled off a rare back-to-back rock concert weekend.  Van Halen was last night. It ranked somewhere between annoyingly mediocre and barely amusing.  Last night was the Queensryche 30th Anniversary tour in the utterly bizarre location of the Wheeling Island Casino ballroom.  The contrast was pretty severe.  The individual members of Van Halen regurgitated all their greatest hits with this carefully choreographed zaniness.  But Queensryche reminded me of what an actual rock band sounds like.  Although Geoffery Tate (lead singer) is obviously the stand out with his distinct vocals, the band plays with each other.  Unlike Van Halen where they try to outperform each other.  It's difficult to put into words.  Queensryche is like dining at Ruth Chris Steakhouse.  Van Halen is more like microwaving a 2 day-old Whopper from Burger King.   

You may call it the newly refurbished Wheeling Island Casino, but for me, it'll always be the Wheeling Downs Syndrome.  When you enter this gambling auditorium, you're graced with the presence of a massive 6 foot waterfall.  The water cascades over "made in Indonesia" ferns and fake "crick rocks." The plastic foliage actually has expiration dates.  You immediately hear the cacophony of dinging noises, mesmerizing bells and aberrant beeping noises.  Suddenly, you're given 2 options.  Take the 4 second escalator ride or take the steps.  I chose the escalator.  On this special night, I wanted it all.

I ran into some friends in the food court and surveyed my options.  Paying to see any rock concert violates an oath I took long ago.  But paying any amount of money to go to an event on Wheeling Island seemed particularly unsettling.  To be honest, I figured I'd just find a ticket lying on the ground.  Or maybe some wheelchair bound old geezer hooked up to an oxygen tank while chain smoking Camels (non-filtered) would just hand me a ticket.  But everyone dashed into the ballroom just before 9pm and my options grew bleak.  Turns out I ended up bargaining with a frumpish, dirt-baguette woman and her teenage son (a hillbilly Eminem wannabe).  They wanted $30 but I told them all I had was 4 bucks (which was true).  I opened my wallet and showed them my stash.  They looked at each other and simultaneously blurbed, "We'll take it."  I justified the four dollars because:

A. I'm a huge Queesnryche fan.
B. I wanted a ticket stub for my wall.
C. The thought of missing this show just didn't seem right.

 So I briskly walked in and found a spot five rows back on the left hand side.   Queensryche put on a very strong performance.  Although I'm not familiar with the newer stuff, how can you not love the old material.  Back in the late 80's, these guys were way ahead of their time.  In many ways, they still are.  Or maybe they're just "doing something different" (much like ordering the fruit syrups in the now defunct Bears Against Drugs operation).

Whoever shot this video did a very credible job.  Geoff Tate is quite the showman.  I would have preferred more songs from Rage For Order or Operation Mindcrime, but these guys have so much material.  His stage presence is awesome.  He has this ethereal quality.  His mannerisms seem deliberate and meaningful.  After having been exposed to the David Lee Roth "super-zany-ultra-goof-a-thon" from the previous night, let's just say it was a refreshing change of pace.

Highlights for me were NM 156, Screaming in Digital, Walk in the Shadows, Jet City Woman and Eyes of a Stranger.  I sympathize with the plight of great rock'n'roll bands.  They've been demoted to the theater, casino junket while these atrocious emo-bands and pop-core pretend bad-ass bands like Nickleback and Creed are the new arena headliners.  Seriously, what the fuck is this?  Nonetheless, it is very cool to see real bands like Queensryche in an intimate setting.  The casino ballroom probably maxes out around 1,200.

Just for the record, I despise those couples who complain about their obstructed view when someone momentarily stands in the aisle.  Get a fucking life.  They have to go running to the usher because someone wants to take a picture or raise their fist in the air.  As if it saps the life out of them.  Newsflash: you're the ones sapping the life out of everyone.  It's a rock concert for Christ sake!  Maybe they go to all the shows at the Wheeling Island Casino and just can't make the transition.  I guess if someone hindered my viewing pleasure of Herman's Hermits or Richard Marx,  I'd be a little ticked.  Actually this ain't true.  I would encourage all to stand and embrace the warmth of Peter Cetera.

"We did it all for the glory of love."

Not that I'm complaining, but these performers are the true embodiment of what should come to Wheeling.  Even though I enjoyed the concert, it's the principle of the matter.  Wheeling Island Casino should be subjected to a peak level of rock and roll.  I think it should max out somewhere in the Foghat/Steppenwolf realm.  Just bring in a properly sanctioned "music inspector" twice a year.  I think the city of Wheeling would jump on board with this.

But I never did get the answers I seeked.  "Seeked" is coming up underline red-squiggly.  Maybe the correct past tense is "sucked."  One can only hope.  I never got the answers I sucked.

"Saf, what is it you needed to know?  What answers?"

Well, all I wanted to know is WHY.  Why did Queensryche launch this tour on Wheeling Island?  And why are there only five more dates sandwiched between some Geoffery Tate solo appearances.

Columbia, MD M3 Festival United States

Pryor, OK Pryor Creek Festival Grounds United States

West Valley City  USANA Amphitheatre United States

Royalton, MN Halfway Jam Festival United States

Roseburg, OR Douglas County Fair United States

If anyone can solve the "Queensryche/Wheeling Island" mystery, I'd be deeply appreciative.  I rarely make an appeal for comments, but I need to get to the bottom of this.

One last thing, if you ever go to a concert at the Wheeling Island Casino, just do the 'ol ticket "hand-off."  They don't scan tickets.  They just rip em.  You don't need to over-think this venue.  The best mode of free entrance is the simplest one.  We call it... "Gimme the fuckin' stub, bee-otch."


Anonymous said...

The video you posted was taken by our seat mate and friend Jodie Meyers. Second row, center stage. Awesome show. Very impressed with Goeff's emoting.


sonofsaf said...

I saw you guys exiting the aisle. Sorry we didn't get a chance to talk. Definitely a cool show. Still can't believe they came here.

Anonymous said...

Geoff Tate's "stage presence is aweseome"???? you must be entertained by watching grass grow....

He is the most boring frontman in rock music.....

Obviously his band feels the same way, which is why he is out on his ass now.....

Geoff's "emoting" is lame.

And his wife's decisions regarding their musical and live performance directions have ruined the band.

Good riddance that Tater is being given the boot.

Sure, they were once a great band....but for the past 10 years they have been going downhill....

West Rising will be interesting....