DRM backlash

November 18, 2005

There’s not much more to say about the whole Sony DRM controversy, except that I’m glad Microsoft took a stand. I think the Digital Media Division at Microsoft been way too happy to help the record companies foist their idiotic DRM schemes down our throats, and they sure haven’t gotten much support in return. At least Microsoft’s Security team is willing to call this particular DRM technology what it is–a piece of poorly written and almost totally evil spyware that breaks Windows.

The best part of the whole incident is the fact the whole industry’s going to suffer from the backlash, which could cause them to reconsider their idiotic anti-customer strategy.

But probably not.

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The greatest dinosaurs in the world

November 17, 2005

My dad’s retiring this year, so I sprung for two concert tickets to the Stones. I had never seen them before–I usually hate big arena shows, and refuse to pay high ticket prices on principle–but figured this was a special occasion, and I love some of their old albums. So I was expecting a moderately entertaining show with all the hits and some great lights, hoping that they wouldn’t be pathetic old geezers living out their last flames of glory.

Well, hell, I hate to feed the beast, but I actually think they’re justified in charging $200 for only-OK seats. Apart from having one of the best back catalogs in rock, they’re still a real band–they extend endings, jam on stage, and change their set from night to night. In fact, they almost melted down on the song “Bitch”–Mick was singing a chorus while the horns played a verse, and the guitarists looked confused–but of course they recovered like a real band always does. (Nice to see the Stones make the same kinds of mistakes and recovery that we seasoned amateurs do.)

Keith was sly and knocked off a few good licks, although he seemed a little stoned at times. The rest of the band was solid, including Bobby Keys on sax. But it’s Mick’s show. People always write about how much energy he has, so I had this image of him doing aerobics and cheesy rock-star poses on stage. Well, he does move around quite a lot, but it’s not the least bit cheesy–he’s a singer, and he acts like one, singing these old songs like he still believes in them 100%. It’s hard to describe what it sounded and felt like, except imagine the best club show you’ve been to, moved to a 20,000-seat arena. In fact, they did this trick where they moved the stage to the center of the arena, very close to us, and they looked like a bar band–five guys with instruments and fairly simple amps on stage just getting down and having fun (their bass player Darryl Jones still uses an 8×10 Ampeg cab, although he’s got some fly white padding, and the guitarists have these vintage brown Fender twins, just like amps you’d see in a club on a Saturday night). Their only concession to rock stardom was wireless everything for easier movement, which I appreciate, having once had one of my bandmates accidentally kick out my cord on stage at the biggest show I ever played.

But the most telling thing–the crowd of super-entitled 40- and 50-something Seattle latte yuppies (not a joint in the whole place, I swear) actually STOOD UP the whole time. When’s the last time you went to an arena show where that happened?

This review from SF paints a good picture.

Say what you want about dinosaurs, I can’t imagine any punk band lasting this long, much less today’s crop of punk-influenced indie rockers who sound great in the studio but don’t know how to play live. (With the possible exception of Wilco, whose live show gets better every year.)

My only complaint was the set list. I wish I’d seen the San Diego show instead–the tripleshot of “Tears,” “Midnight Rambler,” and “Rocks Off” would have made me pass out.


Xbox 360 and music

November 17, 2005

Got my hands on an Xbox 360 review unit the other day via work, and while I haven’t yet gotten any games to review, I have been able to test the digital media functions and it’s been done quite well. No problem recognizing my iPod as an iPod with all the menus (artists, albums, playlists, and so on), and it outputs excellent quality audio to my stereo. Watched the Zeppelin concert DVD on it the other night on it, and the sound was fantastic. Better video quality than my $100 Panasonic DVD player as well (which is probably going in the trash).

Speaking of that DVD…OK, so I was a big Zep fan back in high school but sort of lost interest after hearing the songs thousands of times. But holy shit, could those guys do improv. They’d take off on a jam with clearly no idea where they were going to land, but one of the four would always save it. A lot of eye contact and on stage communication. Like the Dead with balls. I can see why the punks hated them–they looked like stinky hippies and nearly every song in the 1970 show was 10 minutes or longer, including a lot of rambling from Robert Plant–but today’s bands could learn a lot about stage presence and what makes a show entertaining by watching that DVD.