Journey, The Doobie Brothers And Dave Mason: The 2016 Tour

Journey, The Doobie Brothers And Dave Mason: The 2016 Tour

Don't stop believin'.
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On July 8, 2016, I went to see Journey in concert, along with Dave Mason and the Doobie Brothers. It was a birthday present for my grandma, so obviously she accompanied me. It was held at Aaron’s Lakewood Amphitheater in Atlanta; the place was packed, so lines were super long and it was unbearably hot by the time everyone showed up. But even so, the crowds were organized and well-maintained. The Lakewood staff is always good about that, no matter the audience’s size. I’ve been to the venue many times over the years and I’m always impressed by the friendliness and professionalism they always display.

So we grabbed some drinks and sat down. Thankfully the staff had the huge overhead fans going, so the heat was bearable. Not so many people were there in the beginning, but it was hilarious to see the beginnings of a huge crowd of drunk 55-and-overs jamming to the songs of their younger years. Dave Mason went first, and I was genuinely impressed at his level of musicianship. He wasn’t a big showman, there weren’t a bunch of crazy light effects or sound distortion. He just had himself and his band, and they played. Especially because of his age, how long he’s been in the music industry, I was amazed at the quality of both his instrumentals and his voice. He had a rich psychedelic sound that entranced me and also made me a little sleepy, to be honest.

Next was the Doobie Brothers, a classic American rock band from the 1970s. They were much more of showmen than Dave Mason: they were calling out to the crowd, had light effects, and really turned up the energy of the whole thing. There was a multitude of guitar solos, screaming vocals, and an amazing set of saxophone solos by guest Mark Russo of Mark Russo and the Classy Cats. As they played more and more people migrated in and got drunker and drunker. It was quite a sight. My favorite had to be Grandma Aesthetic, as I deemed her: a woman, at least 60 years old, wearing a flower crown as white as her hair. There was a multitude of Coachella-esque costumes, of people young and old. I had just as much fun people-watching as I did listening to the music.

Finally, around 9 P.M., it was time for the main event: Journey. They came out in an incredible flash of lights after a one-minute intro soundtrack. Their new singer, Arnel Pineda, was an amazing front man. He had incredible stage presence, a jumping-bean-esque energy, not to mention unbeatable vocals. Every song was a party; high energy, shredding guitar solos, and every once in a while, a pounding drum solo. I wasn’t really a Journey fan -- the basic extent of my knowledge was “Don’t Stop Believing’” -- but I definitely left as one. Regardless of whether I knew the song or not, I found myself dancing along and having a great time. Even if the two women next to me were incredibly drunk and annoying, I had a blast. With the incredible instrumentals, killer vocals, light show, and even some classic, cheesy eighties music video effects on the big screens around the theater, it was one of the most incredible shows I’ve attended. Journey has been putting on amazing shows for 40 years, and even despite the declining health of their original lead singer, they continue to lead crowds across the globe to a night of bright lights and timeless music.

Make sure you pick up Journey’s latest album “Eclipse” now!

Cover Image Credit: http://static1.stereoboard.com/images/stories/2013/images/A-Z%20Main%20Artist%20Images/J/600x503xjourney_doobie_brothers_js_251115.jpg.pagespeed.ic.VWDZVeqCJj.jpg

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Not Everything Has to Be Dark

We don't always need to see a gritty reimagining, especially when the source material doesn't lend itself to one.
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I've said before we're in an era where everything gets remade or rebooted or relaunched. At this point it's practically unavoidable, especially when it comes to adapting stories or trying to cash in on nostalgia. Sometimes it works (Doctor Who, Spider-Man: Homecoming), other times we wonder why they went that way for their project when the original was just fine. This leads to many new takes on previous works as having to be “different” which is pretty much code for “dark and gritty” tone. That's not to say some things work well with that tone, but other times one has to look at something and ask whether or not it needs to be like that, or if it's just trying too hard to be edgy.

When The Dark Knight came out in 2008, people praised it for being realistic and gritty, making the audience feel like Gotham City could be a real place with a way-too-high crime rate. However, this caused Hollywood to think that the reason it was successful was because it was darker than previous Batman movies (sadly, everybody forgets Batman Begins, the one The Dark Knight is a sequel to), so studios looked at what they had and tried to go darker with it. The 2010 remake of Nightmare on Elm Street changed Freddy Krueger's origin and design just to make it more “real” and “grim” when the original film did that just fine because of how Wes Craven handled the story, and MTV launched their adaptation of the 1985 comedy Teen Wolf, as a serious character drama – and while the latter received good reviews and lasted several seasons, its tone was so far off from the source material that one could easily see them as two different projects altogether. On the opposing side is Sherlock, which took classic Sherlock Holmes stories and re-imagined them in the modern era, sometimes making them more grounded in reality, and thus a more gritty style. That works because the stories themselves allow for it, unlike taking comedy films and trying to turn them into a serious matter.

Superhero media also got this treatment, some for the better, others for the worst. Logan was in production long before Deadpool, and was designed as a grim and violent portrayal of Wolverine, while at the same time being a story about mortality, and is widely considered one of the best films in the X-Men series, if not the genre as a whole. Two years prior to this, the same studio that released Logan came out with what is usually considered one of the worst superhero films, Fantastic Four, or Fant4stic if you want to avoid confusion with the 2005-2007 series (and yes, you do). Fant4stic is a darker interpretation of the Fantastic Four mythos, which is exactly what a Fantastic Four movie should not be. It's as if they had a tone they wanted first, then demanded a script fit the tone by any means necessary. And yeah, sometimes a tone is something to aim for – if you're doing an MCU film, there's a specific tone and style for the franchise, but at the same time, you can't go in saying it's going to be grim, dark, and gritty because you can. The DCEU has this issue, with projects like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice being a very grounded film that takes itself just a bit too seriously, whereas Suicide Squad didn't take itself seriously enough. Warner Brothers got involved in the final cut of Justice League, demanding it be made more light-hearted, despite contrasting hard with the previous films. A Batman film should be darker than a Superman one, but making the Superman one tonally closer to the former causes a split between the filmmakers and the established character – I personally enjoyed Man of Steel, but I can understand why some didn't.

Currently, a popular show is Riverdale, an adaptation of the Archie comics. The comics are pretty family friendly, light in tone, you can just pick one up and read it without needing a ton of backstory. But the show is a murder mystery, darker and much more grim than the source material. Supergirl is on the same network and is a lighter show, why not give the audience one like that? It would make the series stand out from other comic book shows. Even the rebooted comic series is more serious than it has to be, it's Archie not The Breakfast Club. However, Netflix is doing a reboot of Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and that's going to be more into the occult and horror aspects of the modern reboot comics, which works because that's something that naturally calls for a darker take. Stranger Things is a dark murder mystery about kids but it's not like it's based on something known for being all-ages and comedic. Riverdale is so disconnected from the comics that it's practically a different franchise altogether. In the age of grim comic book shows, especially on the CW (their DC shows for the most part get as dark as network TV allows), perhaps we needed a more light comedy based on the series. It would stand out and make it different than shows like Stranger Things and Arrow.

Don't get me wrong – I do enjoy a good dark story from time to time. But I don't think we need to see the gritty version of Powerpuff Girls. Some things just work better playing it light and fun than grim and edgy. And there is a happy medium between those two. The DC Animated Universe was overall targeted to an older audience, but wasn't too much for a kid to handle. Or even the MCU franchises can go from something relatively safe like Spider-Man: Homecoming to a very serious spy thriller like Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Tones are important to the way one tells the story they want to tell, but getting the right tone is more important than aiming for a preset. Dark has a place, light has a place. What productions need to do is find that middle ground so they can go either way depending on how the audience reacts. That way, we don't end up seeing the Adult Swim reboot of Courage the Cowardly Dog. Actually, nevermind, that would be awesome. Instead, don't go into making a Hulk movie super-grim and dark for no reason, just make the right movie for the right tone.

Cover Image Credit: The CW

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Destressing From College, The Nerdy Way With Webtoons

Take a minute away from your textbook to indulge in some webcomics.
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Being a college student can be very overwhelming with studying, going to class, and taking exams. But sometimes it’s good to take a minute for yourself and put your mind towards something else other than your textbooks. Some students create art or maybe watch a few episodes of "Black Mirror" on Netflix.

But one of my favorite ways to destress is reading webtoons or webcomics. Webtoons are basically comic books or manga that are originally created for the online community. Specifically, I’m talking about an app called “Webtoon” created by LINE, a South Korean company. Not all of the creators on this app are well-known or distinguished artists. The app actually encourages amateur artists to submit their work and possibly get recognition.

Last year, “Webtoon” even had a booth in New York Comic Con and invited some of the artists to be a part of the convention.

After classes or whenever I have free time, I like to pull out my phone, go to the app and see if any of my favorite comics were updated or discover something new depending on my mood that day. So here are the top five webcomics I enjoy.

1. My Giant Nerd Boyfriend

It's an adorable yet hilarious slice of life comic about the writer's day to day life with her extremely tall and nerdy boyfriend. It's nice to see how the couple's major height difference affects their life but at the same time relatable to those who can understand being in a relationship.

2. unOrdinary

It's a storyline that brings up the themes of hierarchy and societal standards through a world where humans are gifted with powers, but some aren't as lucky to receive these gifts (also known as "handicapped") and must go through life while others use their abilities to maintain control.

3. Bluechair

Even if you never heard of this comic, you have definitely seen panels of it scrolling through Facebook or from that one friend who tags you in all of the funny memes. This comic is completely random with no storyline but the artist dives into topics like being an artist, depression, or anxiety and finds ways to make it funny.

4. Assassin Roommate

What would you do if you discovered that you moved in with a top secret agent? This comic is full of action but tells the story of the romantic relationship between an assassin and their roommate.

5. My Boo

This comic will pull directly at your heartstrings as you explore the world of a woman who can see ghosts and tries everything in her power to avoid them. But she soon discovers that she might have to confront her gift after meeting a handsome ghost who refuses to move on.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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