Radio notes and concert review

Here’s another post in the “What I’m listening to” series:

The best thing about owning a car is the radio.  The car came with a CD player, but I’m the kind of person who will pick one station and stick with it, commercials and all, only occasionally checking the other stations on my pre-sets.  And if I do choose to listen to a CD, it will be one that I can’t get enough of, like the National in the previous post.

My station of choice in Cleveland is Radio 92.3, part of the CBS family that I came to know in New York (maybe one day I’ll do a flashback post about that great oldies station, WCBS-FM 101.1).  I just realized, as I type this, that I do not know the call letters of 92.3.  They are announced occasionally in the station’s required ID, but they are clearly not part of the station’s true identity.  This identity is almost purely alternative, primarily the 1990s through today, with a touch of the 1970s (e.g. Pink Floyd) and 1980s (e.g. The Cure).

The second station I’ll turn to when 92.3 has a bad song or never-ending commercial break is 106.5, “Cleveland’s Best Mix”.  Once again, the call letters are superfluous, and did you know that “mix means variety”?  I had to laugh when I saw that slogan attached to this station on a website about radio stations.  Anyway, 106.5 follows more of an Adult Contemporary playlist, evenly mixing hits from the last three decades, along with the best of today, as they might say.

Based on my increased radio listening these last few months, I decided to go see the Goo Goo Dolls perform in Cleveland at the Time Warner Cable Amphitheater at Tower City.  In another post I’ll go into other reasons why this show met my criteria for concerts, because I am not that big of a fan of this band.  But the Goo Goo Dolls are what I’d call a radio-friendly band, with multiple hits over the course of their 15 year+ career, and I figured it’d be fun to sing along to the songs I know.

I got there in time for the first of two opening acts, a band called The Spill Canvas (good name).  I initially thought their music was a little bland, but by the end of their set decided that if I was a teenager I’d probably love them.  They announced that they’d be at the merchandise booth after playing, and I wandered back to check it out.  I considered buying their EP for $5, a perfectly reasonable price to pay to support a band like this, but then I saw how much they were charging for their t-shirts, and walked away.  $30/shirt is simply too much for a relatively unknown band to charge, even if they are part of a large scale tour.  I imagine, though, that the long line of people waiting to get autographs proves otherwise.

Next up was the band Switchfoot, who I did not know anything about and went in with low expectations based entirely on their name, which I didn’t like.  In short, however, they stole the show and gave me one of the best surprises I ever had at a concert.  Later on the lead singer of the Goo Goo Dolls said that having Switchfoot as an opening act meant he was going to have to work harder.  I now know that Switchfoot’s history as a band goes back to 1996, and they had a hit in 2003 with the song “Meant to Live.”  This song was a big surprise, because I’d heard it recently on the radio and loved it, but forgot to find out who sang it.  I don’t think I’ve ever been at a concert where I knew the song but not the band (covers don’t count).  I immediately recognized it from the first note and this song was the deciding factor in my overall impression of the band.  I also need to mention that during one song the lead singer came down into the crowd to sing and hi-five audience members (much like Kenny Loggins did when I saw him last month), and this is the kind of gesture that can go a long way in building a fan base.  Their name still bothers me a little, but (and this is really for another post) the quality of the music is good enough that I can accept the name.

The Goo Goo Dolls played for about 90 minutes, and I thoroughly enjoyed every song, including the new ones that are on their forthcoming album.  It started raining heavily about half-way into their set, but my seat was in the center of the covered section and all I felt was a nice mist.  It will be interesting to see how much airplay their new album receives; one of the new songs (I think it was called “Home,” or the one played during the encore) has clear potential to become a radio classic.  However, I’m not sure if I would see them again – it would depend on a lot of factors such as cost and location, but at least I know they are a great live band and I recommend that you see them if you like the hits.

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