I got bloody jipped, that's what happened. I've never really been dissapointed on the whole with a gig, but in this case I was. This may come as a surprise to some readers, but I grew tired of Dream Theater only months after highly lauding Systematic Chaos myself. In fact, I boasted for a good month that it was one of their best works since Awake. But, upon careful perusal of the audio abomination they like to call Black Clouds & Silver Linings, I took to fleeing their music altogether. I'd already stopped listening to any of their material after Systematic came out, so after hearing the leak of A Nightmare to Remember, I lost absolutely all interest and hope I had in this band.
They've essentially developed a formula. It's quite simple, really. It goes like this: riff, riff, riff, riff, riff, riff. Throw in some pre-chorus/choruses, "bridges" (aka just more riffs), interludes and solos. And each of these components "progress" in rather pointless and random order (as seen on Nightmare) with no real logic or attention to the way the song flows (or in this case, doesn't). Some people may call shenanigans on this, but I say DT have lost all sensibilities of dynamics. The songs don't climax, they dont' flow and they just don't go anywhere. Individual sections have dynamics, sure. But as a whole and in the grand scheme of the song/album, they serve little to no purpose at developing the grand thematic message that other bands manage to dish out (again, this is all based on opinion, so I won't go naming a bunch and make attempts to explain why I think they're superior). But I will say that A Nightmare to Remember in specific (not eve going to mention the rest of the album) has a poor structure. On the whole, not very memorable and very messy.
So then that brings us to the night of August the 14th at the Molson Amphitheater, where what the highly astute and proficient musicians from Dream Theater have lauded as one of their best albums has come to "life". I say that only because I was bored out of my balls. There's no other way to say it. The setlist was terrible specifically because they included 3 songs from Black Clouds with a rather uninspired performance of The Count of Tuscany, where even the band themselves just stood there bored out of their asses. Pointless keyboard wank from Rudess that I heard last time they were in Toronto for the Systematic Chaos tour in '07. The only decent tracks were Erotomania and Voices. And that was only because Awake is one of the only albums I can still stand (and again, I don't really listen to it anymore). Petrucci once again decided to grace us with a prelude of guitar masturbation to Hollow Years using his piezo (a pickup that imitates the sound of an acoustic, specifically, it gives his Musicman that loud twang sort of like how an acoustic sounds when you stretch a string upwards and let go, having the soundhole emanate a glorious, wood-infused slap). But, he was using distortion on the piezo. Terrible mix. Overall, uninspired, standard wank from DT.
The highlight of the day was either this guy passing out about 8 seats to the right of me or that beautiful saxophone solo from the female vocalist from Zappa Plays Zappa (who despite being a band that I didn't care to check out managed to impress immensely). I am going to go with the latter. That whole band was impressive. Quality prog/wank and great execution of odd rhythms and melodies and a great tribute to Frank Zappa who I am now inspired to delve more into. Now, seeing as I came late with my friends due to a lack of interest in the openers (Bigelf and Scale the Summit), we only ended up seeing ZpZ and DT. Practically, I payed $80 to enjoy Dweezil Zappa and his group of misfits and to see Dream Theater fail miserably at making their music enjoyable.
Now, at this point you may or not be wondering (or aware of certain facts) about why anyone would have payed $80 to see a band they don't like with openers that they've never heard/didn't care to hear. Well, Pain of Salvation, boys and girls. Pain of Salvation. Blimey. This wonderful band that hasn't been in North America for well over 5 years. And their record branch just goes bankrupt at this crucial time for my enjoyment. You see, Toronto has no good bands coming here at least till October. And so, when one of your favourite bands decides to come, you'll eagerly pay $80. And when all of your good friends pay to see it too, that's a great social pro. Have fun with your friends AND see your favourite band - this sounds incredible. But we all know that this isn't what happened. Pain of Salvation was dropped from the bill, me and my friends heard the extremely dissapointing news, debated whether to go and then decided "fuck it". It'd be too difficult to rid ourselves of the tickets, and some friends were going for DT anyways. So what the fuck. We'll go. They can't be that bad right? They're still good ol' DT who can impress. Right? And maybe there was a faint glimmer that the openers would be decent although some of us are aware that the lineup for this year's North American PN'09 tour was pure Portnoy worship bands. Bands that Portnoy heard and jizzed to. But they can be good right? Right we are as was displayed by Zappa Plays Zappa. But good ol' DT is another story for they didn't impress at all and I was left vulnerable at the end of the concert like a part of me that was vital was taken away from me. Kind of like paying $80 for your favourite ice cream and then receiving a cone without any scoops. In this case, it was more like a cone and a small scoop of a flavor I wasn't very familiar but was pleasantly surprised with. In any case, huge boner kill since I didn't get what I paid for. And any customer who pays for one thing and receives another will be understandbly pissed.
Pros: Zappa Plays Zappa
Cons: Dream Theater, 7 hours of my life wasted since I left home till I got back, $80 wasted and in turn the opportunity to have used my time and money to see a good band or buy a good meal and spend some real quality time entertaining others and myself.
Overall impression: 2/10
1 for the woman from ZpZ. Phenomenal Sax solo, great flute playing, great keyboard playing and wonderful singing.
1 for the rest of ZpZ who had beautiful solo parts and executed to perfection. Very eclectic mix.
R.I.P. Dream Theater