On Your Left: The Passholes

You just know this guy’s a Passhole.

Though I tend to leave most of the cultural posts on our blog to our beloved contributor Jr. Worthy, every now and again I get so inspired, so ignited, so revved up about something that I find there is no other outlet than to write about it on Bums Logic. Whether or not my reader(s) even care about what I am posting (that is a whole other post in and of itself) is pretty much irrelevant. My motivation is simply to get my thoughts out to the world and in doing so, hopefully entertain you in some fashion; and if I am lucky, perhaps inform you.

Today I am here to inform you about a group of people I like to refer to as The Passholes. Well, “what does this term mean, Jaded?” you might ask?

I enjoy biking. I enjoy biking enough and find it such a positive in my life that I use my bike to commute to work on most days. I have been doing this in the Washington, DC area for over a dozen years now. I like to think I know the area pretty well and am a pretty able-bodied, seasoned rider myself. I know the “rules” of the roads and trails (which the DC area has some of the best in the country), though like most riders, I don’t always obey all of them. To me, a stop sign when no cars are present is not a stop sign but a mere reminder to look both ways before you cross the intersection. I sliver around cars sitting at traffic lights like water through a curly straw and though they might not always see me, I assure my survival by using my amazing powers of observation to avoid their suddenly open door. That, and using the side mirrors on the car to study the driver always helps. I ride way too fast–probably scaring quite a few motorists with my appearance our of nowhere–and I like to think that in general the roads belong to us and pedestrians, not the motorists. I don’t even need to go into the obvious benefits of riding vs. driving. But you know what? I will: It’s healthier, it’s cheaper, it’s better for the environment, and let’s face it, with traffic around here, it’s much better on your constitution (and probably a quicker commute).

Which brings me to The Passholes. I ride on the trails, I ride in the streets, but I NEVER ride on the sidewalks. The Passholes will. When coming up on a slower rider, or walker, or jogger, or family of three with a baby carriage the size of a small SUV, I always yell “on your left” from about 10 feet back. A fair warning. The Passholes do not. I will judge how fast to ride based on the flow of traffic on the trail. Saturday afternoon? 85 degrees out? Riding in Rock Creek Park? Yes, there will be tons of people out and about. So I won’t ride in full on Lance mode on this day. But The Passholes will. I will ride in my Van’s sneakers, white tee and shorts. The Passholes like to show you how they can spend $200 on padded bike shorts, $300 on a way-too-tight Tour de France wannabe shirt, and a $4500 mid-life crisis bike. Do you now know what a Passhole is?

The thing is (not to get too deep here but…) at some point in your biking life you are bound to be The Passhole at least once. It’s just a matter of time, like getting a speeding ticket or puking from too much Jameson on a Tuesday night. For me this happened the other day on my ride home from work. Cruising along at a brisk pace (based on there being no one else on the trail), I came upon a section where a street and sidewalk intersected with the trail. A blind spot, overgrown trees, a pizza delivery car, a small sidewalk, and another rider later, and I am head on with another biker. We smash into each other and go flying into the road. It was a massive collision because I was coming downhill and had no time to hit my brakes before I realized it was going to happen. Lucky for the other rider and me we both walked away with only some minor scratches and bruises and a no fault attitude on either side. But deep down I had that feeling. The utterly unique feeling of knowing something within yourself that others might not.

On this day, I was The Passhole.

Roger Waters Performs The Wall in Washington DC

That’s my fucking pig!

If you were to judge by the chatter I heard around Chinatown last night after Roger Waters performed The Wall at the MCI Verizon Center then you would conclude that most people just witnessed one of the greatest rock concerts of their lives. “That is how a concert is supposed to be!” my friend said to me post-show. It was hard to disagree.

If you want your concert experience to include explosions, fireworks, flying pigs, puppets that drop from the ceiling, wild animations, flashing lights, surround sound systems that thunder in your ear, impeccable musicianship, and songs performed from an album that sold about 789 billion copies than The Wall did not disappoint in any fashion. Never one to short change his audience (at least when it comes to giving them a great show) Roger Waters produced the most fantastical, spectacular rock concert I have ever been witness to. It was Cirque de Waters.

If the punk rockers in the mid-70’s were back-lashing against the excess’ of their classic rock band brethren then this show would be the poster child for that movement. But isn’t that exactly what we, as an audience, want from The Wall? To this day, I still don’t understand how such a gloomy record became a staple of rock radio and embedded into our common musical collective. Songs about war, love lost, isolation, anger, madness, and megalomania don’t exactly jump off the shelves, eh, I mean, get downloaded in today’s market. Yet, when I looked around the arena I saw 65 year old tucked button down shirt into the shorts with socks and sandles on rocking out next to 16 year olds lighting up their first public joints. I saw metalheads and hippies, meatheads and squares, young and old all brought together by music that, when at it’s most uplifting moments, perhaps will get you to tap your feet a little bit. This is not Paul McCartney singing love songs or The Foo Fighters post-punk angst. It’s Pink Floyd‘s music as mass consumption. And it works brilliantly in this setting.

The note-for-note band (let’s face it, we want this album played note-for-note. Do you really want someone improvising the solo on “Comfortably Numb”?) was incredible and Waters can still hit all the notes. Was Gilmour missed? Perhaps, but the solid musicianship on exhibit made you quickly forget that this piece of music isn’t necessarily about the performers themselves. I would love to see this executed by high school theater groups around the country. Were there some overwrought moments? Yes. Do I really want to watch Roger Waters singing with mic in hand, bassless, roaming around the stage and “acting” out the lines from songs? Did the audience “understand the music” or the overall anti-war message? Were the loud claps for the Mercedez Benz logo dropping from a B-52 bomber pro or anti the company? I know Waters stance, but does his audience grasp what he is trying to say?

You know what? Who gives a fuck? People, including myself, went to this show to see one of the all time great pieces of music performed by it’s original author. Something you will probably never be able to do again on this scale. The show delivered in all aspects of the word. I was not going to see my favorite indie band shoegaze at The Black Cat. There is a time and place for that. This is one of those rare performances that you prefer to see in a large setting. I don’t want to see a pig flying around the 9:30 Club (but it would be quite cool). Floyd, whether they liked it or not, were eventually built for large audiences, large arenas. Though I still can’t fully understand how such a “weird” band became so mainstream I do understand why people loved this show so much.

Silo Halo – Night and The City Album Review

Silo Halo

Intense Magnetism: Night and the City

A song is defined as: musical sounds in agreeable succession or arrangement.

Melody is the combination of pitch and rhythm.

The first time I put on Silo Halo‘s new album Night and the City (Etxe Records, DC) my immediate attraction was to the vocal melody lines and strong songwriting. This Washington, DC-based, self-described “emotive” band displays many strengths throughout the record but I keep finding myself humming the vocal parts for hours after each fresh listen. My only real concern is that at times I wish the vocals were even louder.

In many a rant, I have gone on and on that a big difference between “good” bands and “not good” bands is usually the strength of their singing and song writing (and of course some luck). You can walk into 74,000 different garages, basements, and bedrooms throughout the world and find plenty of great music. 90% of the time you won’t walk away fulfilled by the vocals. Maybe it’s bad P.A. systems or the extroverted nature and nakedness of singing that prevents all of those kids from choosing to become the “lead singer” vs. the drummer or guitar player.

Silo Halo is a band that uses their 3-person multi-instrumentalist /vocal attack like a well oiled pitching staff. Each member taking turns with their unique style and approach throughout the arrangements. The listener is treated to smart, uplifting lyrics and complex musical change up’s while the classic male-to-female vocal back and forth’s keeps the songs interesting and free-flowing.  The verse’s in the song “Out of the Fugue” act as a dark minor chord and noisy detour on the path towards the light filled chorus of arpeggiated major notes and quick picking guitar riffs. Bass player and singer Christin Durham provides contemplative vocal relief from the moody segments of Chris Goett and Greg Svitil’s vocal mannerisms. Danceable beats and distorted synths mesmerize on “You Don’t Dream” and the dynamics of songs like “Wonderful Gift” and “I’m Still Slamming My Head Against a Brick Wall” remind you why great songs will always outshine super glossy production.

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