Kevin Conaway’s 2022 Mix Album
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Welcome to the 13th installment of my annual mix albums! Lucky number 13!
When I first started this series back in 2010, the mixes were meant to represent songs or artists that I had discovered that year or music that represented some significant experience that I had that year. Once I narrowed the songs down, I’d arrange them in a way that flowed and sounded cohesive, give it a title and artwork that would tie everything together, and there it is, a mix “album.” Back then, I was burning the songs onto blank CD’s and then handing them out or mailing them to dozens of friends. This was always very tedious work and after doing it for a decade, also factoring in technological changes and changes in listening habits, I ceased offering physical CD’s and began offering the albums only digitally (however still adhering to the 80-minute time constraint that I had with CD’s).
One of the trends that I’ve noticed is that it seems that these albums over the years have increasingly been just for me. I craft these with the intention that they be listened to all the way through as any album would be. I also love hearing feedback from other people who have listened to them. When I send these out I always include the statement: “My only requests from you are that you give this mix at least one listen in the order I’ve arranged it and that you let me know what you thought of it.” Over the years, I have tended to receive less and less feedback on these albums, so I assume they are not receiving many plays. I’ve also noticed that the albums tended to contain less songs that were personally significant and would lean more toward music that I had discovered that year and wanted to share. My public Spotify playlist, Caught In The Current, essentially accomplishes the same thing. I’ve periodically wondered to myself how long I want to keep making these. Whenever I begin work on a new mix album, it has been fun for me to go back and listen through all of my previous albums leading up to the new one. They kind of serve as little time capsules for what I was listening to that year. Each album feels a little different and unique. The enjoyment I get out of crafting them and listening back to them years later is enough to justify continuing, for now.
This year’s mix is a little different from recent mixes. This was a year in which I probably went to more concerts than I ever previously have in a calendar year. I also traveled more than I ever have previously, sometimes to go to shows, sometimes for gigs, and sometimes just for leisure. This was a year filled with great experiences. This year’s mix album is tied to those experiences. Every song on this year’s mix relates to a personal experience that I had this year. In contrast to most of my mixes also, many of the songs on this mix were not released this year. In fact, half of the tracks here were released prior to 2022. Also, a fair warning – since these songs have a greater personal significance to me than many songs on previous mixes have had, I will definitely be more long-winded in my notes for each song that I have been on previous mixes (if you couldn’t tell by how long this prologue is). This was also probably the easiest and quickest mix that I have ever made. I really like how it turned out, and I’m sure this will be a favorite of mine years later when I’m going back and listening through the series again.
I chose the name “Pent-Up Demand” because I thought it perfectly captured a lot of what was going on this year on concert-wise as well as on a macro-economic level. Thanks to the covid-19 pandemic, many concerts and tours were canceled or delayed over the last two years. To make up for that, it seemed like almost every band was touring in 2022! I apparently had a lust for live music that was going unsatisfied over the last two years because I ended up going to a lot of shows, which often involved traveling. The cover art was taken before a show at historic Massey Hall in Toronto, which is where I saw my last show this year.
Okay, enough intro, let’s get to the songs.
01. The Dear Hunter – Ring 7 – Industry
I’ve been a big fan of The Dear Hunter for several years now. This is the fourth time I’ve included a song of theirs on one of my mixes. The Dear Hunter’s music is very conceptual. Prior to this album, they had a story arc that spanned over five albums. This album marks the beginning of a new dystopian sci-fi story arc. Truthfully, I wasn’t all that into this album when I first listened to it. Musically, this is a fairly big departure from what I’m used to from the Dear Hunter, though to be fair, their sound has changed quite a bit over the course of their discography anyway. This album was a lot more jazzy and groove-oriented, while the guitars and big choruses of previous releases took a backseat. I gave it one listen and then moved on to other things. I intended to come back to it, but I just didn’t feel all that motivated to give it more listens.
I had tickets to see them at the Beachland Ballroom in late-August. I was a little apprehensive about the show since I didn’t love the new album and I had also seen a few shows recently at that venue where the sound mix was horrible. The week of the show I decided to get myself familiar with the new material and began playing the new album again. Each time I played it, it grew on me a little more. I dove into the story of the album as well. I’m glad I got familiar with it because at the show the band played the album in its entirety. I was blown away by how good the performance was and how good the album sounded live! There were a few extended jams that made the show unique as well, including probably the most wicked guitar solo I’ve ever seen singer/guitarist Casey Crescenzo play! After the show, I could not stop listening to this album for several weeks. I found several songs stuck in my head when I wasn’t listening to music. Not bad for an album that I originally thought was not very catchy.
02. Ghost - Spillways
Ghost is a very fun, tongue-in-cheek Satanic gimmick band that is incredibly talented, writes great catchy songs, and is amazing live! A bio taken from one of their social media sites describes: “Ghost records and performs pop hymns that glorify and glamorize the disgusting and sacrilegious.” There’s a whole fictitious lore around the band and its leader that is worth checking out; it’s way too much to get into here. Suffice it to say that I love this band. I saw them live on their last tour and was blown away. Musically, they are incredibly tight, but they also put on one of the most theatrical performances of any band I’ve seen. Two of my friends are pretty into the band as well and had never seen them before. I ended up buying us all tickets to see them in Youngstown back in September, where we learned that there is apparently nowhere to eat in downtown Youngstown on a Tuesday. Get it together, Youngstown! Anyway, the show was amazing! I waited in a merchandise line before Ghost’s set to buy myself some socks. My one friend was considering a shirt but decided she didn’t want to spend the money, despite standing in line with me. During Ghost’s set, she disappeared for part of a song. She came back with a new shirt.
03. Suede – Beautiful Ones
Suede is one of the bands that was playing at Massey Hall in Toronto, where I took the photo for the cover art for this mix. They were co-headlining on the tour with Manic Street Preachers but playing first on this night. I am a big fan of the Manics and bought my ticket to see them. Suede was basically just a bonus for me. I knew a handful of Suede songs and gave a listen to their current album but wasn’t all too familiar with much else of theirs. Their live set blew me away though! I hate to admit it, but I think I actually liked their set better than the Manics’. Suede’s lead singer had so much energy! He was constantly running all over the stage, jumping around, and doing eccentric dances. He even jumped into the crowd twice, roaming through the rows of audience members giving random people hugs and high fives, all while not missing a single word! He sounded great too, as did the rest of the band! I went to the show being the “I don’t know much about them but I like what I’ve heard” kind of fan to saying that I will go see them again anytime they tour anywhere near me!
One thing I noticed at this show that amazed me was the crowd. They knew every song and sang along. There was one song where the singer sat on a stage monitor, performing by himself with an acoustic guitar. Normally during a quiet song you would hear the white noise of drunk asshats talking in the background, but this crowd was dead silent. I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed that at a show before, especially not one with close to 3000 people in attendance.
I debated on which Suede song to include on this mix. They did release an album in 2022 that I liked quite a bit. “Beautiful Ones” is an older song, released in 1996. I decided to go with this choice because it was the closer for their set and was such a fun experience live! It’s also my favorite song of theirs.
04. Editors – Heart Attack
This is the first of only two songs on this mix from bands that I did not see live in 2022. This song was released in April as the lead single from Editors’ upcoming album. I fell in love with the song immediately and played the hell out of it. In fact, according to Spotify, it was my 5th-most-played song in 2022, and the only song in my top 5 from a band that I didn’t see live that year. The album, EBM, was released in late-September, a week before I would take a road trip to Toronto to play a gig. The gig was nothing much to speak of; it was late at night on a Sunday and there was hardly anyone there (actually, my original gig got cancelled and this was one that I found at the last minute to replace it and salvage my trip since my Airbnb was nonrefundable). Even though the gig wasn’t great, I still had fun hanging out in the city, as I always do when I’m up there. In fact, this was the forth of five trips that I would make to Toronto in 2022! Anyway, I was addicted to the Editors album at this time, listening to it several times on the way up to Toronto and then several times on the way back, as well on my headphones while walking around the city. That Saturday night after I had had my fill of walking and visiting bars, I grabbed a drink to go and went back to my Airbnb where I sat out on the balcony overlooking the street while listening to this album and basically zoning out. Life was very good in that moment. I think this is the memory that I most strongly associate with this trip, even over my own gig.
05. Our Lady Peace – The Message
Our Lady Peace has been one of my favorite bands for a long time. In fact, they are the band that I have seen live the most – 12 times! Their 2000 album, Spiritual Machines, is among my top ten albums ever. That album was a quasi-concept album inspired by futurist Ray Kurzweil’s book, The Age of Spiritual Machines, in which Kurzweil wrote about and predicted the future of artificial intelligence and how it intertwines with the course of humanity. In 2022, the band decided to revisit this album and the predictions of Kurzweil and released the sequel Spiritual Machines 2. I was a little apprehensive about the album, as sequels of anything rarely live up to the original and OLP’s last album as a little lackluster. I was pleasantly surprised by the album though. I thought it captured the atmosphere and vibe of the original album while updating the sound to be more current.
OLP embarked on a small tour to promote the album which mostly stayed in Canada. The tour was going to be the most unique that they have ever attempted, featuring two large hologram boxes on stage that at various times in the set would show holograms of characters from the Spiritual Machines albums, band members, other artists, and Ray Kurzweil himself! The show would also feature a large intricate lighting production and the band would play two full sets without an opener. A buddy and I traveled up to Kitchener, ON to see the show. It was among the best OLP shows that I have been to - and there are several to compare it to! This song is one of my favorites from the album and the song that they opened the show with. The rest of our weekend north of the border was spent in Toronto (my second of five trips there), where we had a great time.
06. Manchester Orchestra – Telepath
I went to go see Manchester Orchestra back in March, which would be my first concert in 2022; the first of 22! (23 if you count a Cleveland Orchestra show.) What a way to kick off the concert year for me! Manchester Orchestra was incredible that night! The music was so powerful. Lead singer Andy Hull’s voice sounded awesome. Andy performed this song solo and it nearly moved me to tears. After seeing this show I went on a huge Manchester Orchestra kick that lasted several weeks. If you want to have your heartstrings tugged on, check out the video for this song.
07. Black Pistol Fire – Hope in Hell
I saw Black Pistol Fire at the Grog Shop back in May. They are just a two-person band. I was impressed with the amount of sound the two of them were able to produce live. Singer/Guitarist Kevin McKeown had so much energy on stage. He was shredding on the guitar and flying all over the stage. Drummer Eric Owen would frequently play with one hand (especially during guitar solos) and play a small keyboard with his free hand to fill in the sound. I’ve never seen a drummer do that before. I was able to get pretty close to the stage and got a few good close-up photos of McKeown rocking out. After about two-thirds of the set though, my ears could no longer handle being that close to the speakers, and I had to move to the back of the room. It’s either ridiculously loud in the Grog Shop or I’m just getting old. Could be both, I suppose.
08. The Airborne Toxic Event – Faithless
I was supposed to see The Airborne Toxic Event in October of 2021, on their tour for Hollywood Park, which has become my favorite album of theirs. The show ended up getting delayed by almost exactly a year. I legitimately did a double-take when looking at the ticket in my Apple Wallet last year. “Wait… does that say 2022 now?” The show was worth the wait! This is the fourth time I’ve seen them live and easily the best. I’ve often noted the Springsteen influence of their sound, and in this show I noted the Springsteen energy. They played for two hours and kept an intense energy the entire time! I was a little sad that they didn’t feature more songs from Hollywood Park in the set, but looking at their set, I’m not sure what I would’ve taken out. At one point during the set I felt something small and light hit me square in the chest. I had taken my eye off of the band for a split second so I didn’t actually see what happened but I saw the singer throwing guitar picks into the crowd earlier and assumed it had to have been that. I quickly turned on my phone’s flashlight to scan the floor and sure enough saw the pick by my feet. Unfortunately, the band’s name isn’t branded on their guitar picks, but it was an awesome souvenir nonetheless! I’ve never nabbed anything from the stage before.
This song was a stand-alone single that was released this year and one of my favorite songs from 2022.
09. Biffy Clyro – Cop Syrup
I’ve been a big fan of Biffy Clyro for several years. They are making their sixth appearance on one of my mix albums, which gives them the second-most of any artist. They are a Scottish band that does not tour often in North America. I have never seen them live before and they’ve been on my bucket list. This year they announced a North American tour that, naturally, skipped over Cleveland like so many tours do. I decided that I needed to travel to see them live, and since I’m not sure when I’d get the chance to see them again, I needed to see them twice! The only other time that I’ve ever caught a band on multiple dates of the same tour was Porcupine Tree back in 2010.
The first show was in Chicago at the House of Blues. What a beautiful venue! I’m sorry Cleveland, but the Chicago House of Blues is way better. Biffy put on such an amazing set! The set was full of energy, as was the crowd. At one point during the song “Bubbles,” I could feel the floor slightly bouncing as everyone was jumping in time with the song. After the set, the drummer threw a stick in our general direction that got lodged in my friend Mark’s hoodie. Aside from the show, I know you’re wondering which pizza I got. Lou Malnati’s. It’s delicious!
Show 2 was the following weekend in Toronto. This was the first of my five Toronto trips this year. I went on this trip alone. (In fact… of the 22ish concerts that I went to this year, I went to 8 of them by myself, including 5 solo road trips to different cities. I’ve lately really been trying to adopt the idea that if I want to do something, I should just do it, regardless of if I have anyone to go with me or not.) Anyway, I ended up not being alone the whole trip. I stopped to check out a brewery near the venue. I talked to the bartender for a bit and mentioned the show. A guy eventually sat down next to me and mentioned to the bartender that he was going to the same show. She then pointed out that I was going to the show too and declared that we’re now friends. Good enough for me, I’ve kept in contact and visited him at the bar he manages several times on subsequent trips to the city. I’ve always loved Toronto and now it’s even better that I have friends up there. On the way to the venue, the other bartender that he knew gave us some to-go beers to drink while we walked. I’m still not super clear on the legality of drinking in public there, but apparently it’s not a big deal as long as you’re not making a scene. Anyway, the beers were good. The show was great as well! It was at History, a newer venue owned by Drake and quite a bit larger than the House of Blues was. It was interesting to hear two shows that close together and note the difference in the sound mix between the two venues. The House of Blues seemed to prioritize the guitars and vocals, while the History seemed to mix the drums and bass quite a bit higher. The only thing that sucked about the Toronto trip was getting covid when I got back home. To be fair (toooo beeee faaaaaair (if you know, you know)), I can’t say for certain that I got it from Toronto, but it was a fairly mild case, so I assume it was Canadian.
The song “Cop Syrup” was the closing track on their 2020 album, A Celebration of Endings. This album also featured “Space,” which appeared on my 2020 mix. I felt like this was the song I needed to include because it was amazing to see them pull it off live. This was probably my favorite song in their live set.
10. STARSET – TRIALS
In early July, I traveled with some friends to Warren, OH to see STARSET for the fifth time. I know you’re thinking that you didn’t realize there was a music venue in Warren. I didn’t either. I was almost expecting it to be a mistake until we actually got there. We stopped off at a BBQ spot before the show where it turns out the band had stopped a couple hours before. The cashier saw my friend’s shirt and said, “They were just here!” After delicious food, we made a quick stop over at Dave Grohl Alley. It's actually pretty cool; there’s a fair amount of Dave-themed artwork there to see, and also a brewery tucked under a bridge. The venue was surprisingly very nice. It was much larger than I expected, had a big stage, and sounded great. STARSET put on a killer show, as they always do. Like Ghost, they lean heavily into a gimmick and have a very theatrical live show. Here the gimmick is space and dystopian future. Every album feels like the soundtrack to a Black Mirror episode.
The aftermath of this show was that I received a notice from the City of Cleveland in the mail about a month later stating that I had an overdue parking ticket from this date. I never received a ticket. The ticket was… bullshit, quite plainly. I was able to pull text message records, EZ Pass transactions, and the receipt from the BBQ place showing that not only was I never actually at the location where I supposedly received this ticket, but it would’ve been impossible for me to receive a parking ticket in Cleveland issued at the time they claim and then been in Warren at the time listed on the BBQ restaurant receipt. I filed multiple disputes, but ultimately had to pay it off because - and they’re fully aware of this fact - it would’ve cost me more to continue fighting it than to just pay it off. They did at least reduce the rate, which pretty much shows they knew I was right but didn’t care. Fuck you, Cleveland. I bet Toronto wouldn’t do that.
11. Within Temptation – Don’t Pray For Me
Within Temptation is another band that I’ve been a fan of for years that I had yet to see live, and another band that I’m pretty sure doesn’t tour on this side of the pond often. They were playing in Cleveland in early-October, but I had a gig scheduled for the same night. However, with the Guardians making the playoffs, and game 2 in their first series being scheduled for the same day, the bar I was booked at decided to cancel my gig. Also, with the Guardians game ending up being scheduled as a day game, this meant that not only could I go to the game, but I could also go to the concert after! It was a win-win! Actually, it was a win-win-win because the Guardians won the game, sweeping their series with Tampa Bay, and moving onto the next round in the playoffs! It was an awesome game that featured a walk-off home run in the 15th inning to win the game! It was the single greatest sports moment that I had witnessed live up to that point! The only downside was that I thought I would get some time to rest at home for a bit between the game and the concert, but since the game went 15 innings, essentially lasting almost twice as long as a regulation game, there was no time to go home. So we ended up being four tired dudes decked out in Guardians gear in a venue full of metal fans. The show was great. And as far as the Guardians go, even though they didn’t get past the next series against New York, I still couldn’t be more proud of what they accomplished this year and I can’t wait to cheer them on again next year!
12. Porcupine Tree – Dignity
Porcupine Tree is among my all-time favorite bands. I may even consider them to be my favorite currently active band. I wouldn’t have been able to make that statement a year ago. Mainly because they disbanded after their 2010 album. In the years that followed, band leader Steven Wilson released five solo albums and participated in numerous other side projects, and seemed to be enjoying the creative freedom that a solo career offered. Drummer Gavin Harrison joined the band The Pineapple Thief. The other members had been involved in various projects. As the years went on, it seemed less and less likely that a reunion would take place. Then, earlier this year, the band’s mostly dormant social media accounts had a few cryptic posts that seemed to hint something was in the works. I tried not to get my hopes too high, as this could’ve just been an announcement of a remaster or something along those lines. But then, out of nowhere, a brand-new single was released along with the announcement that a new album would follow shortly after and a tour would take place! I was ecstatic! It was okay that I didn’t particularly love the new single. I had to go see them live again! Naturally, as is a theme this year, their tour skipped over Cleveland, so I bought a ticket to see the show in Philadelphia.
Prior to a random weekend road trip out to Philly four or five years ago, I had an irrational hatred of the city that was inspired by fact that I used to take a yearly road trip to New Jersey for a music conference and every time I drove through Philly I’d get caught in horrible traffic (also, the only time I had a layover at their airport my connecting flight got cancelled and I had to stay overnight). However when I actually got to experience Philly proper, I fell in love with the city. This trip was equally fun. I stayed at a very cool Airbnb in a cool neighborhood. I got a lot of walking in, saw some sights, visited some great breweries, and stopped in at Paddy’s Pub. I also tried cheesesteaks from four different places (Joe’s Steaks was my favorite on this trip). The Porcupine Tree show was at The Met, a historic theater that opened in 1908. The theater was beautiful and the sound was amazing! The band sounded great and I loved the set.
The new album took several listens for me to get into. Like the Dear Hunter album that I mentioned above, the first few times I listened to the new Porcupine Tree album, it didn’t really grab me. I had the same experience with their last album too though, and it ended up becoming my favorite album of theirs after repeated listens. I assumed I’d get more used to this new album after more listens, but I didn’t give it much of a chance when it first came out. That’s the double-edged sword of listening to music on Spotify – I am able to listen to way more music than I was ever able to back when CD’s were my main format, but because of this, I tend to spend less time with each individual album than I used to when I was buying them on CD. Anyway, in the week or so leading up to this trip I started listening to the new album over and over to get used to it. Like I predicted, it grew on me. It still doesn’t top that 2010 album, but I really like it a lot. Good thing too because they played the entire album live at the show.
13. Elton John – Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
Released in 1973, when I was a mere -9 years old, this track is the oldest song on this mix album. Actually, it might be the oldest song to ever make an appearance on any of my mixes. Hold on, let me check the spreadsheet… Yep, confirmed. This song was the namesake and set closer for Elton John’s farewell tour this year. Sir Elton has been on my bucket list for a while and I finally got the chance to see him live this year. It was worth the wait. Elton’s voice sounded fantastic, the band was great, and the set was massive hit after massive hit. The final scene of the show which featured Elton ascending to the top of the stage and walking through a door that then transitioned into an animated video of him walking away down the Yellow Brick Road, while maybe kind of cheesy in hindsight, definitely choked me up a little while watching it live.
14. Manic Street Preachers – From Despair to Where
The Manics are a Welsh band that I first heard on MuchMusic shortly after high school. Around that same time, a friend who had also recently discovered them burned me a copy of their second album, 1993’s Gold Against the Soul. This remains my favorite album of theirs and one of my all-time favorites in general. I’ve been wanting to see the Manics live for a long time, but like Biffy Clyro above, they don’t tour over here too often. As I mentioned above, I actually thought that Suede’s opening set ended up eclipsing the set by the Manics, but their set was definitely great too. I’m happy I finally got to see them live. The Manics did not release any new music in 2022, so for this mix I decided to take “From Despair to Where,” which appeared on the Gold Against the Soul album and is one of the songs that they played that night.
A couple quick notes about my November Toronto trip, which was my fifth of five Toronto trips this year. Philadelphia featured probably my favorite Airbnb house that I’ve ever stayed in. This trip featured probably the worst. The place was tiny and minimalistic… and those words don’t necessarily do the room justice. It kind of felt like a cell in a dungeon, as my only window was about four feet below ground. I’ve also never seen a bathroom sink that was in the shower before. Choosing which faucet to turn on is a dangerous game depending on how much I had imbibed during the day. These are all things that aren’t necessarily a big deal. The thing that made this room horrible was the atrocious sewage odor coming from the bathroom. I emptied about half a can of body spray into the room while I was there to make it bearable to sleep in. At least it motivated me to get out of the room and walk around the city. Another note is that I attempted to stop into my company’s Canada office while I was there just to see what it was like and do a little networking. Little did I know that they actually have two locations in the Toronto area and I happened to find myself at the wrong one. My contact told me to meet him on the 22nd floor, while I was in a building that only had 3. Oops.
15. Sálin hans Jóns míns – Hvar er draumurinn?
So this may be the strangest song on the mix… then again, there’s still the next track. The language you’re hearing in this 1989 song is Icelandic. No, I don’t speak Icelandic. I have no idea what the lyrics are in this song.
Probably the coolest experience I had this year was a trip to Iceland that I took with my mom back in June. It was incredible! Seriously, I have a hard time conveying just how stunning it was there. At any given moment, you’re surrounded by so much amazing scenery that it felt almost unreal, like I was on the set of a movie or something.
We were on a bus on the way back from one of the excursions and there was some music playing in the background. One song happened to really catch my year. I couldn’t understand it, but it had a really catchy hook and I liked the music. The bus happened to have wi-fi and I was able to Shazam the song, which was this track. I ended up giving the album a listen in my hotel room later and really liked it. I wandered into a random record store in Reykjavik at one point and tried to find the album, but they either didn’t have it or I didn’t know where to look… either is possible. Anyway, when I listen back to this mix, this song will forever remind me of one of the best trips I’ve ever been on.
16. Heilung – Anoana
Okay, so this may actually be the strangest song on the mix. Heilung is an experimental tribal/folk band that describes their music as “amplified history from early medieval northern Europe.” I had come across a live video of theirs several years ago, but had completely forgotten about them. This song showed up on my Spotify Release Radar playlist over the summer. I’m not sure what about my listening habits told the Spotify algorithm to suggest this song, but kudos Spotify, I love it!
After listening to this song several times and watching a live performance on YouTube, I decided I needed to see this live if I could and saw that they were coming to Detroit in September. The show was at the Detroit Masonic Temple, which is the largest Masonic temple in the world and an absolutely majestic building. The building houses multiple theater rooms which have been recently renovated thanks to a large donation from Jack White. The theater that I was in was beautiful and had great sound. The show was definitely unique. It felt like a concert/theater performance hybrid. The songs only feature instruments that were in use during medieval times and rely heavily on drum beats, chanting, and droning strings. Each band member was in costume to fit the theme. After a ceremonial blessing, the band played song after song, only finally directly addressing the crowd at the end of the performance. The performance was mesmerizing. It’s hard to describe what a truly unique experience it was. I can’t really say that their music is something that I’m in the mood to listen to often (although I did play this song quite a bit), but I would definitely go see them live again if I get the chance.
17. Badflower – Machine Gun
I went to go see AWOLNATION back in October. I was excited for the show, as I’ve seen them three times before and they had always put on a great show. This time, their set seemed a bit lackluster. The sound mix did not help, as the vocals were mixed way too low, but the band’s overall performance seemed to have a little less energy than the previous times I’ve seen them too.
Badflower was the opener and killed it though! I knew a handful of their songs and was looking forward to seeing them as well. I left the venue that night a Badflower fan. I remember during this song in particular leaning over to my buddy and whispering, “Holy shit,” after listening to the lyrics. Their singer was interesting though. Apparently he was cold because he came out onto the stage for the first song literally wrapped in a bed spread.
18. Rammstein – Zeit
So here we are, the final track. Rammstein released an album in 2019 after a ten-year hiatus, so I was not expecting anything new as soon as 2022. Apparently the covid lockdown period was a creative time for the band and they started working on new material. This song was released in March and instantly became one of my favorite songs that I’ve ever heard from them. This song captures everything that I love about this band – it’s sentimental, it’s powerful, it’s quiet, it’s loud, it’s melodic, it’s aggressive, and it's catchy. The new album followed in April and is among the best in Rammstein’s discography.
I saw Rammstein live back in 2012 at Quicken Loans Arena. That was probably one of the most amazing live shows I’ve ever seen. An arena show is one thing, but I’ve also heard about their stadium shows in Europe. Well, this year they brought their stadium tour to North America. I traveled out to Chicago in September to see them at Soldier Field. The show was, simply, incredible. Rammstein’s live setup is probably the closest thing that I will ever get to seeing The Wall live. Just for some statistics – the setup includes 1,350 tons of equipment flown in on seven 747 planes from Europe, transported to each city on 90 semis. The stage structure is 200 feet wide, 100 feet deep, and 120 feet tall, reaching the heights of the top of the stadium and takes four days to set up. It featured a ridiculous amount of lights and pyros as well as four large pillars with lights and pyros in the middle of the crowd and a small secondary stage in the middle of the crowd. Every song featured some form of majestic lights display, scorching pyrotechnics, and/or some kind of choreographed stage antics. Oh, and the music was loud and powerful. In fact, news came out about a show in London that was able to be heard from eleven miles away from the stadium! It’s hard to describe just how amazing a Rammstein live show is. It’s a tough call, but it would be hard to not say that this was the best concert I’ve ever witnessed live. After the show, I listened to the band non-stop for several weeks. In fact, according to Spotify data, Rammstein ended up being my top band this year and featured two songs in my top-five most played (this song was the number one).
Also, if you’re wondering, yes, I also got Lou Malnati’s pizza again on this trip.
Okay… welp, you can’t say I didn’t warn you about the length of these liner notes. If you’re still with me and have actually made it this far in the reading and have listened to the music, I sincerely thank you. I hope you enjoyed it. If you want to check out any of my previous mix albums, I have links to them all on my website. If you want even more mix albums, check out my friend David Ullman’s mixes – he’s been doing it since 2004 and was the inspiration for me to start doing them. If you have Spotify, please check out my playlist, “Caught in the Current” – it’s a playlist of new music that I regularly update to keep fresh and… current. I’m also planning on releasing new music in 2023, so please keep an eye out for that. My current discography is available on Spotify or any other streaming service.
Thanks again for reading and listening. Cheers!
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The idea for these annual mix albums was borrowed from my good friend and fellow musician David Ullman. Check out his great annual mix albums as well!