Suicide Squad

Let me start by saying DC comic universe it not my usual preference. The only exceptions I make are their television shows Smallville, The Flash, and Gotham. Otherwise, I avoid DC universe movies. Way too much angst with very little to no humor injected into the script. I need a good balance of humor and angst in my superhero or anti-hero movies. My preference goes towards DC universe’s TV shows.

Suicide Squad

There has been much hype leading up to Suicide Squad’s film release on August 5, 2016. For the most part, I hardly cared much for this DC movie. I was aware Jared Leto, lead singer of Thirty Seconds to Mars, was cast in the role of the Joker. Leto garnered considerable press coverage for it. Despite his awards for Dallas Buyer Club, Jared will now become synonymous known for playing the Joker.

Jared Leto_Joker

Jared Leto’s portroyal of the infamous Joker received mixed reviews. In my opinion, Leto brilliantly portrayed this villainous character.  Bad-ass. Charmingly wicked. Enigmatically charismatic. I love how the Joker was depicted as a modern-day gangster of Gotham. I cannot deny that I was kinda attracted to this character. The Joker wasn’t part of Amanda Waller’s Task Force X. Yet, he still fits into Suicide Squad’s overall plot arc. Within the film’s storyline, his appearances basically revolved around Harley Quinn’s character.

Some things in Suicide Squad really impressed me. First, the fascinating development of Harley Quinn/ Joker romance sub-plot arc was well implemented. Harley Quinn is the product of Joker’s screwed-up experiments in Arkham Asylum. How long did it take for the drastic transformation from psychiatrist Dr. Harleen Quinzel to psychotic Harley Quinn? The movie didn’t quite clarify this time span. Not that is a big deal. I’m just curious. Her obsession and infatuation morphed into an unhealthy, co-dependent romantic relationship with the Joker. Clearly, he has no remorse about emotionally manipulating Harley Quinn to be his lover and accomplice in crime. But I don’t think the Joker is completely heartless. He does have some convoluted emotional connection with Harley to keep her by his side. I didn’t expect to get tad emotional during some of the Harley/Joker scenes. The Joker/ Harley Quinn romance sub-plot was compellingly convincing. Margot Robbie & Jared Leto had great on-screen chemistry.

Second, the conversational interaction between the main characters added a good balance of dark humor. I especially enjoyed the interactions between Harley Quinn and Deadshot. Although, Killer Croc and Captain Boomerang offered some moments of humor. The element of dark humor is what sets Suicide Squad apart from other DC universe movies.

Third, the main characters were developed well throughout the film. The flashback sequences fluidly meshed with the present day sequences. We were given the most background information about Harley Quinn, Deadshot, and Diablo. Though, the backgrounds of Killer Croc, Katana, and Captain Boomerang could have been explored a bit more. Some of Task Force X’s “bad guys” had so much potential yet had weak character development. I’m really curious how Killer Croc acquired his fierce reptilian appearance. I was pleasantly surprised with Rick Flag’s development. Being part of Task Force X, Flag monitors the six criminally insane team members for his superior, Amanda Waller. So he is the only “good” guy among the main characters. His “holier than thou” self-righteous mentality slowly fades away throughout the movie. Sadly, Dr. June Moone had the worst character development. This character had so much potential with the whole split personality aspect. It’s obvious how June strongly resists the Enchantress. In fact, she avoided invoking the sorceress’s spirit unless the circumstance truly warranted it. Enchantress was your stereotypical villain. The usual motive of taking over the world so people fear and quiver at their immense power. Villains want weak, puny humans to worship them. If not they’ll destroy all of humanity. In my opinion, the June Moone/Enchantress conflicting natures could have been better fleshed out.

Suicide Squad_The Album

Fourth, the song selection for the movie’s soundtrack enhanced the cinematic experience. Each of the songs appropriately matched the mood of the scenes. Some of the songs blur the line between pop, techno, and rap genres. But there are some curve-ball songs thrown in. “Bohemian Rhapsody”, “Slippin’ into Darkness”, “I Started a Joke”, “Heathens”, and “Fortunate Son” are exceptions. It is great to heard rock genre music in movie soundtracks. I’m glad Suicide Squad soundtrack incorporated different music genres. This is quite refreshing. Not many movie soundtracks have song tracks from various genres.

In a previous blog post, I’ve mentioned about my love for Panic! at the Disco. The movie soundtrack featured Panic! at the Disco’s cover of “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen. Although, the film includes the original version of “Bohemian Rhapsody”. I’m sure it wasn’t cheap to buy the rights of this famous Queen song. That’s probably why the original song isn’t featured on the soundtrack. Panic! at the Disco kept the integrity of the song’s tune yet still inject their own unique twist on this classic rock song.

Random fun fact: Panic! at the Disco’s music has many classic rock influences including Queen. I saw Panic! at the Disco live in concert back in August 2014 and September 2015. A cover of “Bohemian Rhapsody” is part of their concert setlist.  I think I prefer the live version slightly more than the recorded version. Although, the live and recorded versions of this Queen song are equally awesome in their own ways.

“Professional” critics have been severely harsh about Suicide Squad and its soundtrack. Basically I ignore critic reviews about movies, music, and TV shows. Critics are human too. Human beings will always have bias of some sort. This is why I refuse to let “professional” critics shape my movie experience. Only I will decide whether or not I liked something. Usually I disagree with critics reviews anyway.

Originally, I wasn’t planning on even seeing Suicide Squad in theaters. I don’t normally care much for DC universe films. Yet, the TV spot trailers piqued my curiosity. I didn’t know what to expect with this movie. My friend and I went to see Suicide Squad on August 5th in standard format. (Random side note: I hardly watch movies in digital 3D or IMAX 3D formats. There must a damn good reason I pay more for those formats. I’m not an avid DC fan so I saw no valid reason pay additional for 3D movie format.) Not surprisingly the movie theater was packed to almost full capacity. It was opening day.

For some reason, I convinced myself that Suicide Squad was rated R. So I was mentally prepared for content and profanity associated with R rating. Only halfway through the movie, it dawned on me that Suicide Squad was only PG-13. Recent interviews revealed director, David Ayer, had two version of Suicide Squad: PG-13 and R rated movie. I’m actually glad it wound up being PG-13.

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed Suicide Squad. The movie has a dark, gritty theme but still conveys a wide range of emotions. I actually teared up a bit at some of the heart-wrenching scenes. The talented cast ensemble, diverse music selection, and visual style enhanced the cinematic experience.  In the end, my curiosity paid off. Suicide Squad was a very entertaining anti-hero DC universe film.

[Somewhat related side-note: Ted Whittall plays the role of Admiral Olsen in Suicide Squad film. CW’s Smallville has subtly references Suicide Squad in few episodes in season 9 and 10. Ironically, Mr. Whittall formerly portrayed the recurring guest role of Rick Flag in Smallville Season 10.]

Dane Cook

I’ve always had a slightly unconventional sense of humor. Sassy, witty, punny, crude, and dark humor elements all gloriously mixed together somehow. You cannot tell this by merely looking at me. So never judge a person based off their appearance alone.

Typically I don’t follow much stand-up comedians. I’ve mainly watched late night talk shows including The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. Occasionally, I tune into The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and Late Late Show with James Corden. I’ll even watch Saturday Night Live if there is honestly no other good TV programs to watch that late at night. Beside late night talk shows, I don’t pay attention much to stand-up comedians within the industry. Yet, Dane Cook is one of the few exceptions.

Throughout high school, I always had a quirky group of friends. Truly never a dull moment when we hang out. One day at lunch, a friend of mine casually brought up Dane Cook’s name into a conversation. I had never heard of this stand-up comedian. This piqued my curiosity. So I decided to check out his comedic sketches on YouTube.

My friend gave me absolutely no warning me about strong profanity and crudeness within Dane Cook’s comedy. This took a little while to get adjusted to before I could truly enjoy his jokes. Dane Cook’s jokes are so hilarious. It never fails to make me laugh so hard that there are tears streaming down my face. Yet, I acknowledge his brand of comedy is not everyone’s cup of tea.

He knows how to capture his audience’s attention. Dane Cook’s comedy is known for long-form storytelling format. It covers many aspects of general life topics. His comedic material is typically observational humor injected with nerdy references and his life experiences. I especially love the dark humor undertones interlaced into his jokes. Dane Cook’s jokes honestly never get old even many years later. Unfortunately, people sometimes assume Dane Cook is an asshole based off the crude nature of his comedy.

Nostalgia is an interesting thing indeed. There are times I will revisit some stuff I loved as a teenager. Every once in a while, I have the urge to listen to Dane Cook’s comedy. He is one silly goose. I can’t even explain why I feel these random nostalgic urges sometimes.

(WARNING: The short audio and video clips below contains occasional infrequent profanity and crude humor.)

My Chemical Romance

MCRBack in middle school, “scene” genre was considered part of mainstream popular music. Oh the nostalgia when rock music was played on the Top 40 radio. It saddens me I didn’t begin to explore the “scene” genre until 2008. At this point, this genre’s popularity was slowly waning within mainstream music. Rock was beginning to become a niche music genre again.

My Chemical Romance released their third studio album, The Black Parade, back in October 2006. The Black Parade is essentially a rock opera album. I was well-aware of this band’s popularity among my fellow school peers. Yet, I wasn’t willing to give this band a chance. It wasn’t the right time in my life.

My love for rock genre music has exponentially grown since 2006. Of course I only discovered some “scene” artists several years later. In certain circumstances, time better allows you to embrace something with a more open-mind perspective. I can now approach certain pop-punk artists from the mid-2000s I had previously refused to listen to. My Chemical Romance definitely falls into this category.

One of my college friends is a huge fan of My Chemical Romance. She had often recommended this band to me. She swore they fit well within my rock genre musical taste. But I was still very hesitant.

So what exactly convinced me to listen to My Chemical Romance’s music? In short, my obsession with Andy Black’s solo album, The Shadow Side, played a key role. On Andy Black’s solo album, the co-founders of My Chemical Romance, Gerard Way and Mikey Way, contributed to the track “Louder Than Your Love”. Gerard co-wrote the song lyrics. Mikey played bass guitar parts for the song. Somehow, this finally convinced to listen to My Chemical Romance. I cannot even tell you the reason why for this sudden, impromptu decision. Only took me ten years before I was willing to give this band’s music a chance. It is strange how some things work out.

I listen to my fair share of rock bands. Generally, I’ve gotten used to tenor vocal ranges when it comes to lead vocalists. Yet, I can still differentiate the various tenor vocals among the lead singers of my bias bands. Of course, some lead vocalists have unique singing vocals. Black Veil Bride’s Andy Biersack and My Chemical Romance’s Gerard Way falls into this category. Andy Biersack has a beautifully deep raspy baritone vocal tone. Gerard Way has an intriguing sing-screaming tenor vocal tone. Both are definitely acquired tastes and not everyone’s cup of tea.

Almost two weeks ago, I began my journey to discover My Chemical Romance’s music on Spotify. They have an extensive selection of their full studio albums, live albums, and EP albums. Best of all, they have all the uncensored versions of their songs. Censorship of profanity in bias rock band’s music is one of my biggest pet peeves. Among my bias rock artists, there isn’t that much strong profanity overall. Typically “clean” versions of explicit rock songs are pretty shitty. It doesn’t even properly edit out the swear word. You can still figure out what the swear word is despite the censorship within the song. Apologies for that slightly off-topic rant.

Anyway, I created a My Chemical Romance playlist on my Spotify. I was a bit thrown off by the sing-screaming vocals of Gerard Way at first. Some of lead singers in my favorite rock bands have sing-screaming vocals. Red, Linkin Park. AFI, Black Veil Brides, Thirty Seconds to Mars, and Three Days Grace to name a few. But nothing quite like Gerard Way’s vocals. His sing-screaming vocals are distinctive. Pretty clean cut in regards of easily making out the lyrics in MCR’s songs. But not so refined it feels too polished. Yet, it conveys a wide range of intensely raw emotions. Not only different types of frustrated or angry emotions. After two or three days, I got accustomed to the lead singer’s unique vocals.

Now I comprehend why people love My Chemical Romance. Out of most “scene” genre artist, this band has heavier tones injected into their music. I tend to gravitate to bands whose music has darker undertones. Even many years later, I cannot explain why this is the case with some of my rock genre music. Some things in life are just inexplicable conundrums. Anyway, I’ve really come to love My Chemical Romance’s music. I don’t necessarily have strong connection with their song lyrics. Although, My Chemical Romance meets the three essential elements I look for in rock music. Beautifully complex layering of instrumental sound, emotionally-charged vocals, and confessional lyrics. Also, not too repetitive lyrics or song beat. These are more than enough reasons for me to become very attached to a band. In addition, I really love the creative cinematic theatrics incorporated into their music videos. Not many of my “scene” bands have included theatrical elements into their music. The exception to this are AFI, Panic! at the Disco, and Fall Out Boy.

Sadly, My Chemical Romance officially announced their disbandment back in March 2013. Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys was MCR’s last full studio album before their disbandment. Following their break-up, the band released their greatest hits collection album, May Death Never Stop You. in March 2014. This greatest hits collection album included content spanning their 12 years music career and one unreleased single track titled “Fake Your Death”.

MCR recently posted an extremely cryptic video teaser promoting the date of September 23, 2016. This sent fans into a frenetic frenzy. People basically assumed the band was reuniting. Nope. Not the case at all. My Chemical Romance later revealed the significance of September 23, 2016.

In honor of its 10th anniversary, The Black Parade album will be re-issued as a deluxe edition. This version will include The Black Parade’s full-length album along with never-before content such as 11 demos and outtakes from the album’s original recording session. The actual 10th anniversary is October 23, 2016. I shall be eagerly looking forward to their The Black Parade/Living With Ghosts album.

MCR_1

Unfortunately, I have the tendency to discover some bands after they’ve officially broken up. Just my luck. Now I will never have the opportunity to see My Chemical Romance live in concert. I shall vicariously live through concert videos posted on YouTube. Also, I have Spotify to get My Chemical Romance music fix. That is more than enough to make me content. Overall, My Chemical Romance has earned a new fan even if I’m very late to the party.

 

Three Days Grace

TDG

From previous blog posts, I’ve mentioned how 2006 was a pivotal year for me in terms of the major shift in music genre preference. Generally, middle school brings up unpleasant memories for most people. Around this time, kids began to discover who they are. Middle school was a very dark time for me. Whirlwind of tumultuous emotions. Self-esteem and self-identity problems played a major role in this dark time of my life. Basically it was a battle against my own negative thoughts. You couldn’t tell from the forced happy outer appearance I put on. My introverted personality often causes me to bottle up my emotions. I preferred keeping my emotional turmoil to myself than burden others with it.

My musical preferences reflected my life experiences. Up to this point, I mainly listened to Disney Channel artists such as Jesse McCartney, Hilary Duff, Aly & AJ. My musical tastes drastically shifted in 2006. I don’t recall the exact moment I was officially introduced to Three Days Grace’s music. It was either Smallville or Gossip Girl fan-made YouTube videos that put Three Days Grace on my music radar. I really loved the heavy hard rock sound. It left a great first impression. My fandoms have led me to some really great music over the past 10 years.

Also, I discovered AFI and Skillet around the same time. My music tastes turned darker in middle school. Anyway, it wasn’t long before I checked out Three Day Grace’s albums from my local library. Their self-titled debut album was really good but didn’t quite hit home like One-X album.

Their sophomore album, One-X, was released in June 2006. I learned about this band several months following One-X’s release. In One-X album, the lead singer, Adam Gontier, reflected upon a particularly dark time in his life. Adam’s emotionally raw vocals really touched my soul. Also, his vocals are very soothing. I could listen to it for many hours. Basically, this album speaks to anyone going through a tough time in life. The gloomier tone of One-X’s song lyrics really spoke to me. It was very therapeutic as it helped me battle my own chaotic emotions. Their music helped me vent my bottled up feelings. Within the comfort of my bedroom, I could drop my “happy” act I put on at home and in public. My emotional connection to their lyrical content created a stronger interest in Three Days Grace. A year later, I overcame my emotional turmoil and put this dark time of my life behind me. This didn’t stop me from listening to Three Days Grace’s music.

Their third album, Life Starts Now, was released in September 2009. I wasn’t aware of this fact until one day I randomly tuned into either Fuse or MTV Hits television channel. “Break” was the promotional single for Life Starts Now. The music video for this single began playing on Fuse or MTV Hits. Even though I had been listening to their music for three years, I had never watched any of Three Days Grace’s music videos. So I literally had no idea what any of the band members looked like. (My personal motto: Music is supposed to be an auditory experience not based off a person’s outer appearance. Now if a musician is attractive that is an added bonus. But outer beauty should not be the primary determinant of whether or not music is good.) I really loved the fascinatingconcept for “Break” music video. Life Starts Now offered slightly more optimistic tones to the lyrical content compared to One-X. Yet, there was still dark undercurrents injected into the songs. This album covered a broader range of emotions. Life Starts Now still to this day is my second favorite album. One-X will always be my all-time favorite album since it was my official introduction to this band.

Their fourth album, Transit of Venus, was released in October 2012. It was a decent album, but not one of my favorites. Overall, this album had a slightly less heavy hard rock sound. The musical style for Transit of Venus is slightly distinct from their previous three albums. Overall, I wasn’t as much of a fan of the more refined sound in Transit of Venus. It didn’t feel as emotionally raw as previous albums. Out of all the songs, “Unbreakable Heart” is my favorite non-single track off this album. So that’s all I have to say about Transit of Venus album.

Due to creative differences, the lead singer, Adam Gontier, announced his abrupt departure from Three Days Grace in January 2013. This news broke my heart. I’m not one to easily give up on a band I’ve devotedly been listening to for 9 years. Yet, it was Adam’s beautifully blunt song lyrics and raw, vulnerable vocals that made me fall in love with Three Day Grace’s music. In my opinion, Adam was the heart and soul of Three Days Grace. I wasn’t sure I wanted to continue listening to Three Days Grace without Adam Gontier. I am aware how horribly disloyal this sounds. Matt Walst, lead vocalist of My Darkest Days and brother of Three Day Grace’s bassist, became the temporary lead vocalist for Transit of Venus tour. Eventually, Matt would become permanent lead singer of Three Days Grace.

Their fifth album, Human, was released in March 2015 with new lead singer, Matt Walst. Honestly, I was adamantly refused to listen to this new Three Days Grace album. Until six months ago, I couldn’t bring myself to listen to this album. It literally took me 15 listens of the whole album before I got accustomed to the new lead singer’s voice. I do like some of the songs off this album. But a part of me cannot love this new musical direction. Their new sound is too overproduced to my liking. I prefer a more organic and slightly raw sound. Their fifth album captures musical style elements of previous Three Days Grace albums with infusion a slightly new sound. Yet, Matt Walst’s harsh vocals just isn’t my cup of tea. I cannot listen to his vocals for prolonged periods of time. Compared to the former lead singer, Matt Walst’s vocals aren’t as soothing and lacks certain emotional depth. This is my own personal opinion.

Sadly, my whole heart just isn’t into Three Days Grace’s newer music anymore. In my mind, the Three Days Grace I will deeply cherish is associated with their debut album to Transit of Venus. Sorry if this makes me a disloyal fan. But I respect those who do love the new direction of Three Days Grace’s music. I will do my best to support Three Days Grace’s future album, but I am not guaranteeing anything. This is my blunt honesty.

Nerd HQ

Nerd MachineIn November 2010, Zachary Levi, David Coleman, and Courtney Coleman founded a company called The Nerd Machine. All of them had closely worked together on NBC’s Chuck. Also, there was a website online community created to spread the nerd culture. The online community forums provide individuals the opportunity to socialize with others like them and talk about anything in general.

Nerd HQNerd HQ has been held the same weekend as San Diego Comic-Con since July 2011. Most of all, Nerd HQ is a free event offered to the public. All proceeds generated from Nerd HQ are donated to Operation Smile. Operation Smile is a charitable cause that is very dear to Zac’s heart. Essentially Nerd HQ offers a fun alternative to Comic-Con considering how difficult it is to acquire San Diego Comic-Con general admission passes. So nerds can have fun in a more intimate, low-key environment.

I eagerly look forward to Nerd HQ’s Conversation for a Cause panels. The past few years these panels have been live streamed on The Nerd Machine’s YouTube Channel. I tuned into many of these celebrity panels over the four days. Yet, Conversation with Supernatural cast panel is my all-time favorite every year. This particular panel never fails to make me laugh my butt off. Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles, Misha Collins, and Mark Sheppard are adorable dorks. Hilarious awesomeness happens when you put these four men in the same room. Never a dull moment with Supernatural cast members. Plus, there are even two Conversation for a Cause panels with The Nerd Machine’s co-founder, Zachary Levi. This unique feature has garnered more and more popularity every year. The panels have featured a variety of celebrity figures from TV show, movie, comic book, and video game fandoms.

Nerd HQ’s Conversation for a Cause 2016 Schedule

Nerd HQ’s business model is very fascinating. Their profits are basically generated from four different sources. Conversation for a Cause panels. Smile for Smiles photo opportunities.  Signings for Smiles autograph opportunities. Miscellaneous auctions. It is wonderful how The Nerd Machine’s founders created this outlet for people.

Panic! at the Disco

PATDPete Wentz, bassist of Fall Out Boy, discovered a little, unknown Las Vegas band called Panic! at the Disco. By late 2004, Pete signed this young, upcoming band onto his Fueled By Ramen imprint label, Decaydance Records. Panic! at the Disco’s debut album, A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out, released in September 2015. This Las Vegas band made their official debut into the “scene” music genre.

I was in middle school around this time. So the name Panic! at the Disco sounded vaguely familiar. During middle school years, my fellow peers bombarded me with a plethora of “scene” artists’ names throughout the school day. This is the only reason I was even aware of the mainstream popularity of “scene” music.

I already mentioned in the “Emo Rock” blog post how my appreciation for this particular music genre quickly morphed into immense love over the years. For some unbeknownst reason, I just couldn’t get into Panic! at the Disco’s debut and sophomore albums. Sometimes things in life take time to grow on you. Panic! at the Disco would definitely fall into that description. From 2008 to 2010, I explored “scene” genre with majority of my bias artists being under Fueled by Ramen label. Yet ironically it wasn’t until 2011 Panic! at the Disco’s music sparked my interest.

MTV’s Hits television channel was my occasional guilty pleasure around 2008 or 2009. I enjoyed checking out what music would be played during their various program segments. Often, MTV Hits was my frequent go-to TV channel during summers. Summers are when I will seek out to discover new artists or bands. Usually they’re musically similar to the artists I already listen to.

Music is one of the ways I unwind from the stresses within my personal and academic life. One month after graduating high school, there was plenty of stress resting on my shoulders. Lots of conflicting emotions too. Excitement to start a new chapter of my life. Anxiety of starting over in a new environment. Elation to take steps towards my career. Worry that I wouldn’t be able to find people similar like me in college. Eager anticipation to make new friends. Apprehension over how potentially intense college academic rigor will be compared to high school academic rigor. It wasn’t until two months before the fall semester of college I was mentally prepared for this new life journey.

Back in the summer of 2011, I was casually flipping between my preferred go-to TV channels. “Ballad of Mona Lisa” music video began playing as I swapped to MTV Hits. The first minute sparked my intrigue. Putting the TV remote down next to me, my whole attention was directed at this music video. I had never seen a Panic! at the Disco music video before this point. So I had no idea what to expect.

“Ballad of Mona Lisa” was a steampunk themed music video that conveyed a fascinating concept which brought the song’s lyrics to life. Don’t even get me started on that gloriously bad-ass steampunk top hat worn by the lead singer. Plus, the lead singer was rocking guyliner like it was no one’s business. The addictive punk pop beat instantly hooked me within 30 seconds. Within the same week, Panic! at the Disco’s “Ballad of Mona Lisa” music video played many times on MTV Hitlist and Fuse TV channels. My intrigue rapidly blossomed into appreciation as each listen made me fall further in love with this song. With absolute certainty, I knew I had to check out Panic! at the Disco’s new album, Vices & Virtues!

Panic! at the Disco’s YouTube channel enabled users to listen to the whole album for free. This worked out in my favor. Here’s my policy with albums: I won’t buy a music album until I’ve listened to it in entirety at least 10-15 times. I’ve been a loyal iTunes user for the past 8 years. Artist’s more recent albums aren’t necessarily cheap. I don’t bother buying singles. Only full albums or Extended Play (EP) albums. So the music album purchase must be worth it! I binged Vices & Virtues album in full entirely approximately 20-ish times. From start to finish, Vices & Virtues takes the listener on an incredible journey. Each song experiments with various musical styles. I needed this Panic! at the Disco album in my iTunes library! (Random note: Actually I wound up purchasing Vices & Virtues deluxe edition album on iTunes. Compared the regular edition, the deluxe edition included two bonus songs and “Ballad of Mona Lisa” music video. This additional content totally justified spending $3 more for this version of the album.)

This led me to check out Panic! at the Disco’s previous albums. A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out and Pretty Odd. Two drastically diverse musical styles. Their debut album didn’t take too long to grow on me. This emo punk pop album incorporated aspects of baroque pop. This album definitely stood out against other “scene” albums around the mid-2000s. Quite impressive for a new, upcoming band especially with their debut album.

Pretty Odd is an entirely different story. I didn’t grow up with psychedelic pop rock. So The Beatles influence sound within Pretty Odd didn’t quite jive well with me for a long time. It would take me a couple years before forming an appreciation for it. This album was an acquired taste for me.

Holy moly! The lead singer’s voice is a decadent wine you just cannot get enough of. Only one other lead singer of out of my bias alternative rock bands has such incredible vocal range and soulfully, rich tone. Patrick Stump of Fall Out Boy. I could seriously listen to Panic! at the Disco’s music for several hours at a time and never get tired of it. Also, I love the complex layering of different musical styles within their songs. It ain’t the typical sound you hear in alternative rock genre.

When I wasn’t listening to their albums on my iTunes, YouTube became my best friend. I intensely browsed Panic! at the Disco band interviews to learn more about its band members. I didn’t know Jon Walker and Ryan Ross had officially left the band in 2009 due to musical creative differences. This is why I had no issues with the band’s new musical direction with Vices & Virtues album. I wasn’t even aware Brendon Urie and Spencer Smith were the remaining original band members. Band interviews tell you about individual member’s personalities and the band’s dynamic in terms of interacting with each other. Out of all my rock artists, Brendon Urie has the most extroverted, charismatic personality for a lead singer. A fabulously multi-faceted personality that never ceases to amaze me even five years later. Also, he can play at least 3-5 instruments with high level of mastery. This is a man of many talents. I fell head over heels in love with him. Truly never a dull moment with Brendon Urie.

Ever since discovering Panic! at the Disco in 2011, I dreamed of having the opportunity to see them in concert. They sound really amazing based off the live concert videos clips I found on YouTube. I’m often very skeptical if my bias rock bands will sound good live as they do on their studio albums. I’d hate to be extremely disappointed upon to discovering they sound absolutely nothing close to their recorded albums.

Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die was released in October 2013. Panic! at the Disco experimented with an entirely different musical style compared to their previous three albums. Their fourth album embraced a more synth pop vibe. I was very pleasantly surprised by Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die. This particular album embodies Brendon’s personal evolution from his youthful days growing up in Vegas to becoming the front man of a well-known rock band. The album essentially is pays homage to the band’s hometown of Las Vegas, Nevada.

Alternative Press: Panic! at the Disco announces The Gospel tour

Panic! at the Disco extended The Gospel tour dates between July and August 2014. I will randomly look up tour dates for my bands from time to time especially after a release of a new album. Many of my bands often tour during summers. One of the The Gospel tour dates was stopping by Pier 6 Pavilion. I discovered this exactly one week before the day of this concert. This filled me with exuberant joy. Favor was on my side. There were still tickets on sale for this particular concert date.

I was already familiar with the layout of Pier 6 Pavilion’s venue. mtvU’s Sunblock Festival was the last concert I attended at Pier 6 Pavilion back in July 2009. So this helped me to figure out what available seats would give the best view and concert experience. With concert tickets, my goal it to never pay more than a total of $70 (including venue fees).

I was bubbling with excitement the day of the concert! I was extremely surprised to discover my seat was within close proximity of the stage. Only 7-10 feet from the main stage on outer edge of right lower section. I had only bought my ticket exactly 7 days before this concert…the favors were definitely in my odds. I usually purchase my concert tickets at least 2-3 month in advance due the high popularity of my artists/ bands. Despite being near the speakers, the general sound acoustic was still excellent. My seat gave me fantastic views of the main stage.

Walk the Moon and Magic Man were the opening band acts for Panic’s The Gospel Tour. They were decent but didn’t really sparked too much of my interest. These bands’ music weren’t my cup of tea. I can still appreciate opening band’s music even if it doesn’t entirely appeal to me. They were good transitions to the main act of the evening.

Panic! at the Disco delivered a high-energy 22 song set list. That is pretty intense. Nearly 90 minutes of mind-blowing, spectacular performances. Pier 6 Pavilion has a smaller main stage. Yet, Brendon’s overwhelmingly charismatic personality exploded on the stage. Despite the medium-small-ish venue, Panic! at the Disco delivered performances that made the audience feel as if they were in huge arena venue. Brendon offered several terse yet entertaining commentaries between songs due to how packed their set list was that evening. Panic! at the Disco not only sounds as good as their studio albums. It way exceeds the sound quality of their recorded albums. I already knew Brendon Urie is stunning gorgeous based off the YouTube interviews and photos floating around online. Seeing Brendon perform on main stage, I fell even more in love with him.  He has a very special place in my heart. I waited three years and finally had chance to see Panic! at the Disco in concert. Truly a dream come true! This concert experience was adequately documented in photographs and a few recorded video clips.

Panic! at the Disco’s The Gospel Tour Setlist

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In September 2015, I had another opportunity to see Panic! at the Disco at Shippensburg University. My friend was a current student at Shippensburg University at the time. Rachel is a huge fan of Panic! at the Disco’s music too. So I paid between $25-$30 the for non-student concert ticket. That’s still a super cheap ticket price. I hadn’t paid anything under $30 for concerts since July 2009. This concert was held in Shippensburg’s main auditorium. Way bigger than Pier 6 Pavilion’s open-air venue. Rachel and I were fortunate to find two spots on the crowded bleachers. This gave us a great elevated perspective of the main stage. We wouldn’t have been able to see much cramming into the general standing area. I had only one slight issue with sitting on the bleachers. Majority of people on the bleachers remained seated during Panic! at the Disco’s set. Sadly, Rachel and I were unable to stand up during P!ATD’s set without rudely blocking the people in the row behind us. Yet, I still had an absolute blast during Panic! at the Disco’s 20 song set. It was hard to believe Brendon was battling a horrible cold that evening. Hell he sounds better than I do when I’m suffering from a bad cold. P!ATD delivered kick-ass, energetic performances. At the end of that evening, my friend and I drove away from Shippensburg University with jubilant grins plastered on our faces.

Panic! at the Disco’s Shippensburg University Setlist

Death of a Bachelor was released in January 2016. “Hallelujah”, “Victorious”, “Death of a Bachelor”, and “Emperor’s New Clothes” presented listeners with very different musical tones. This was just a little taste of how spectacular the new album would be. In the new album, Brendon basically reflects on his life experiences regarding the transition from a single bachelor to a married man. All of the album’s song lyrical content expresses quite an array of emotions. Death of a Bachelor album was love at first listen. I marveled at the beautifully moving songwriting. Some songs legit gave me goosebumps. Within the first week of its release, I easily binge-listened Death of a Bachelor album in entirety 30-40 times.

Brendon Urie isn’t afraid to break the mold by evolving Panic! at the Disco’s sound with each album. Each album has very different musical styles.  It is literally a musical journey listening to their albums in chronological order from A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out to Death Of A Bachelor.

I apologize for the super long length of this blog post. Over the past five years, my love for Panic! at the Disco has exponentially grown. I don’t understand how I didn’t discover this amazing alternative rock band until summer of 2011. Well it is better late than never.

San Diego Comic-Con

SDCC

Comic-Con International is a four day convention that covers all nerdy fandoms from TV shows, movies, and comic books. This year San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC) took place from July 21, 2016 to July 24th, 2016. Since 2006, the annual attendance ranges from 120,000 to 167,000 people.  Comic-Con is essentially cornucopia of fandom subculture. Every nerd dreams of attending San Diego Comic-Con! We want to hang out with other like us…fellow nerds who passionately embrace the multi-fandom life. Plus, the awesome overload of all things within our nerdy subculture. It wasn’t until 2006 when I even learned what San Diego Comic-Con was.

About Comic-Con International

The superhero science-fiction genre is the reason I even know about San Diego Comic-Con’s existence. All I knew was this was the place for all my fandoms. I hadn’t ventured to too many fandoms at this point. Since 2006, it has been one of lifelong goals to attend San Diego Comic-Con. It is nearly impossible to acquire a general admission pass for SDCC. They’re highly coveted tickets that completely sell out in less than couple hours of becoming available to the public. I’d love to attend SDCC at least once.

Nerdy fandoms have increasingly become more mainstream over the past several years. Comic-Con is basically one humongous celebration of the nerd culture. Many of my TV show and movie fandoms are part of SDCC basically every year. San Diego convention center has total of 17 rooms utilized for panels and screenings. Almost all my fandoms hold panels in the famous Hall H. This is because of these fandoms have huge prevalence within pop culture. Being one of the biggest two rooms, Hall H seats nearly 6,100 persons. Yet you cannot forget about the enormous main floor area of San Diego convention center.

Technological advances have played a vital role in shaping the San Diego Comic-Con experience. People who aren’t able to attend don’t have to fret about being left out of the loop. Social media platforms such as Twitter enable people to vicariously experience SDCC. This is the beauty of technology making the world increasingly interconnected.

Essentially San Diego Comic-Con is Christmas in July for nerds. I don’t even care if it spans for only four days. These four days I am pretty much glued to my laptop and smartphone for SDCC real-time updates. Official Twitter accounts for my plethora of TV shows will give highlights from Comic-Con. Even actors will tweet content about Comic-Con. Although, SDCC Unofficial Blog Twitter account is a reliable source for everything related to Comic-Con. You can utilize technology especially social media platforms to your advantage. I take SDCC very seriously. San Diego Comic-Con 2016 is over. Now the waiting game for San Diego Comic-Con 2017 begins!

Comic-Con