Friday, June 15, 2012

Pop Culture Roundup

We watched Underworld: Awakening this week, the fourth installment of the Underworld series. After taking a break so that the third movie could tell the origin story of the vampire/werewolf feud, Kate Beckinsale is back as Selena, who very shortly into the movie is captured and cryogenically frozen by humans, the new foe of both species. She is eventually able to escape, only to find that she has a daughter, who is of great interest to everyone for various reasons. As Underworld movies go, it had some great effects and action sequences, was sometimes a little heavy on the gore, and never let the pesky plot get in the way too much so that we could focus on the two groups either fighting or sexily brooding. Mindless entertainment.

We also took Coffeeson to see Madagascar 3. I'm not sure we ever saw the second one, but I digress. By this point, the foursome of animals are trying to get back home to their zoo in New York, with help from their lemur and penguin friends (inasmuch as they help, anyway). In order to do so, they end up stowing away on a circus train, and eventually need to figure out how to run the circus left to them by the humans. On top of that, they're being pursued by a determined French animal control officer (Frances McDormand), who is very interested in having a lion's head mounted on her wall. This movie was as clever and hilarious as the previous two, if not moreso. It had great comic timing and plenty of heart, and includes a song that the three of us have been singing all week:

The new season of True Blood started this past Sunday, picking up right where the last one left off with Sookie cradling her best friend Tara's limp body in her arms. Fortunately, a vampire not named Bill or Eric happens along and agrees to help them, but it doesn't turn out the way Sookie expects. In the meantime, Bill and Eric are on the run since they staked one of The Authority's big agents, and that goes about as well as expected by the end. Plus the werewolves are mad at Sam for what happened to their pack leader. This episode in large part served to remind viewers where we left off and to tease where we're heading. My big gripe: no Christopher Meloni yet, as his addition to the cast is a big reason for my continued interest in this show.

Dave Matthews Band came to our area on June 3rd, so of course we went. Here's the setlist:

Proudest Monkey 
Seek Up

Don’t Drink the Water

Corn Bread
If Only

Funny The Way It Is

Stay Or Leave
Jimi Thing

Out Of My Hands 

You Might Die Trying

Everybody Wake Up

Time Bomb
Two Step

A Whiter Shade of Pale 
Tripping Billies 

They played two songs from their upcoming album ("If Only" and "Mercy"), which was awesome. They also played three songs in a row off of Stand Up, which for me was maybe two too many. I also think it was the first time I've seen them in concert when they've played anything off of Everyday. "Jimi Thing" was especially fun because Dave just let us sing the verses and popped in for the chorus. All in all, there was something more mellow about this show: the first four songs are slower or more reflective in tone, and "Mercy" into "Out of My Hands" are both slower as well. It was a good show; just a different energy about it.

Besides the concert, I picked up DMB's very first album this week, Remember Two Things. All these years, I thought this was just a bunch of live versions of songs they'd released on later albums. Then I finally looked more closely at the track list and realized that that's only the case for maybe four of the ten songs. The others are studio versions of some long-time favorites ("One Sweet World" and "Seek Up") and little-played gems ("Minarets"). So I've been playing catch up a little bit. Some fan I am.

I also need to say something about Blind Pilot, who opened for DMB. I wanted to listen to some of their stuff beforehand so as to get an idea of whether I'd want to sit around for their set. The album I listened to, 3 Rounds and a Sound, didn't hold my interest very well for some reason. So I wasn't feeling very motivated to make it into the pavilion in time to hear them. A few songs into their set, we did find our seats, and that's when I realized that they were using an upright bass. And a trumpet. And a banjo. And a dulcimer. And a Hammond organ. And a ukelele. And that's when I decided to give them another try. Well played, Blind Pilot.

Here's a live version of Blind Pilot's "Half Moon:"