Pearl Jam hits Pittsburgh like a lightning bolt with tour kickoff! Amazing Concert!

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Pictures:Matt Freed

Eddie Vedder leads Pearl Jam at Consol Energy Center Friday night.

The lights went down in Consol Energy Center at 8:21 — almost an hour after the ticket time — and with the live premiere of the pensive new song “Pendulum,” the Lightning Bolt Tour was on.

Having rehearsed on it all week, Pearl Jam was well acquainted with the Consol stage and everything to be played on it, and tonight, it was time to christen Pearl Jam’s first full U.S. tour since 2010 and first concert in Pittsburgh since 2006.

“I was starting to get nervous about our first gig,” Eddie Vedder said at one point, “and I happened to be talking to Bruce Springsteen, and he said, ‘Aw [expletive], it’s in Pittsburgh, it’s going to be a smoking crowd.”

True to form, it was a high-energy, high-spirited, nearly 30-song Springsteen-style marathon from Eddie and the boys, who made it feel like they were FROM Pittsburgh.

Pearl Jam had teased a few new songs in a pair of shows this summer — one at Wrigley Field, one in London, Ontario — but this was the live debut for many of the tunes from “Lightning Bolt.” Although it doesn’t come out until Tuesday, it was streamed on iTunes this week, so the Pearl Jam faithful were prepared.

When he sang “Pendulum” in his rich baritone, drawing out that great line “Easy come, easy go/easy left me long ago,” there was already a spark of recognition. The band is obviously proud of this one, and with good reason.

When they powered through the title track and the breakneck single “Mind Your Manners,” they already sounded like songs from a future “greatest hits” collection. They were paired with the furious “Animal” as an easy compare and contrast to older days.

Of course, Pearl Jam is just as effective, or more so, in the mid-tempo zone, making songs like “Nothingman,” “Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in Small Town” and “Faithfull” sing-along celebrations.

Add to that “Sirens,” a beauty from the new album about the fragility of life, with death right outside the door. “Unemployable” was delivered as “a fate I wish on everybody in Congress,” Mr. Vedder said. Something about “Daughter” made him think of Franco Harris because he inserted a breathy chant of “Let’s Go Franco” into the song, followed by a toast to the running back he said was the best when he was growing up.

Pearl Jam, surrounded on all sides in the sold-out house, chose to forego the giant screen approach. There were hanging lantern globes, and a cluster of lights above that looked like a found object sculpture of a metal band’s unreadable logo.

Later into the set, Pearl Jam — also Mike McCready, Stone Gossard, Jeff Ament and Matt Cameron — applied its full force to “Unthought Known” and “Rearview Mirror,” and the brooding power ballad “Yellow Moon,” with its David Gilmour-inspired solo.

After the energy flagged on “Footsteps,” PJ brought up a special guest, a wound-up Jason Grilli, who delivered a rowdy pep talk for Pirates fans and stayed to stomp around the stage and play air guitar, in a matching Vedder plaid, for “Whipping.”

The energy cooked on an extended “Better Man” and amped-up “Porch,” which had Eddie swinging around on one of the lanterns, and the songs that brought ’em to the dance 22 years ago — “Black” and “Alive.” The band wrapped up with a lights-up cover of Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World” and a quiet “Yellow Ledbetter.”

If Pearl Jam was saving anything for show No. 2, 3 or 10, it certainly didn’t show on an amazing, exhausting, uplifting opening night.

Corrected: Jason Grilli appeared on the song “Whipping.”

Set list

Pendulum

Of the Girl

Nothingman

Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town

Lightning Bolt

Mind Your Manners

Animal

Got Some

Given to Fly

Untitled

MFC

Faithfull

sirens

Unemployable

Why Go

Daughter

Infallible

Let the Records Play

Unthought Known

Rearview Mirror

ENCORE

Speed of Sound

Yellow Moon

Footsteps

Whipping

Do the Evolution

Better Man

Porch

ENCORE 2

Black

Alive

Rockin’ in the Free World

My Morning Jacket Rock Times Square at CBGB Festival

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My Morning Jacket perform during CBGB Music & Film Festival at Times Square in New York City.. Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for CBGB

Via Rolling Stone

Giant, blinding billboards are formidable opponents when it comes to competing for the attention of an audience at a free concert. The CBGB Festival threw its lineup into the gauntlet in that regard, gathering My Morning Jacket, the Wallflowers, Lisa Loeb, Divine Fits, Grizzly Bear, James Murphy of LCD SoundSystem and others in the heart of Times Square for an afternoon that brought heartfelt acoustic musings, explosions of indie and arena-ready psych rock to Broadway. Despite the challenging setting and its unavoidable, LED-lit distractions, the talent overcame CBGB’s obstacles and did right by the festival’s rock institution of a namesake.

Lisa Loeb and My Morning Jacket made for some pretty paradoxical bookends, with Loeb strumming her way through “Stay” while recounting the song’s debut on the Reality Bites soundtrack and Jim James throwing a dishtowel on his head as he and the rest of My Morning Jacket whipped themselves into a frenzy of exquisite guitar solos. Illness prevented Jakob Dylan of the Wallflowers from hitting the high notes of “One Headlight,” but the Nineties radio staple plowed through a sunny set at high noon, setting an energetic standard for the day and stopping the pedestrian traffic of Times Square dead in its tracks with spirited renditions of Elvis Costello’s “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding” and “6th Avenue Heartache” bouncing off the billboards.

Grizzly Bear perform during CBGB Music & Film Festival at Times Square in New York City. Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for CBGB

Grizzly Bear perform during CBGB Music & Film Festival at Times Square in New York City.
Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for CBGB

In between the day’s coffeehouse-ready beginning and stadium-worthy end, Divine Fits and Grizzly Bear delivered the two most CBGB-worthy sets of the day: It was easy to picture Divine Fits’ (and Spoon’s) Britt Daniel and Grizzly Bear’s Ed Droste in the recesses of a rock club, though the North Stage of the festival, sidled up alongside the Ed Sullivan Theater, felt as natural an arena as any for their straightforward rock stylings and fuzzed-out, exploratory soundscapes, respectively. As the 2013 festival season nears its end, both Grizzly Bear and Divine Fits have hopscotched between the stages of the country’s biggest productions, and the two bands made for standout moments at CBGB just as they did at Bonnaroo and Outside Lands before them.

My Morning Jacket’s grand finale at CBGB was fortified by friends, as special guests hopped on and off the stage for the final moments of the festival. Merrill Garbus of tUnE-yArDs, Alabama Shakes’ Brittany Howard and Antibalas collaborated with Jim James for the recently released tribute Fela Kuti compilation RED HOT + FELA, and their performance of “Trouble Sleep Yanga Wake Am” was as meditative and serene as it was explosive and untethered. Jakob Dylan then joined in for a take on “Don’t Do It” from The Last Waltz before My Morning Jacket wrapped up the festival with “One Big Holiday,” which relished in its might as a literal and figurative showstopper.

Though the performances were exceptional overall and the crowds flooded Broadway over the course of the festival’s final day in Times Square, the premise of the CBGB Festival is worth unpacking. As Lisa Loeb (good-naturedly) remarked two songs into her set, “It’s very strange to be playing a CBGB festival in Times Square. When I lived in New York City, those two things were . . . different.” The intense corporate backdrop provided by the glaring advertisements, the slightly disjointed lineup and enthusiastic (albeit partly unintentional) crowd hardly recalls the grit and earnest commitment to rock against the odds that CBGB embraced. At the end of the day, it was the music of those present that echoed long past the six blocks of Times Square taken over by CBGB, and one can only hope that the music – and not the publicity stunt of a free, sprawling event on the city’s most famous and infamous epicenter – remains the constant as the CBGB festival continues to grow.

Arcade Fire to perform in Brooklyn Oct 18 and 19

Arcade Fire

Arcade Fire

Arcade Fire will return to New York next weekend in support of their LP, Reflektor. As Arcade Fire Tube points out, posters advertising a pair of Brooklyn shows for The Reflektors have sprung up in the borough. The Reflektors was the name Arcade Fire went by for their trio of Montreal shows last month, and similar to the Montreal shows, the Brooklyn shows will require formal attire or costume for entrance. According to Arcade Fire Tube, it’s unclear where exactly the shows will take place “due to permit logistics,” so stay tuned.

arcade-fire-nyc

Below watch the band’s short film Here Comes the Night Time:

NPR: Would The U.S. Be Better Off With A Parliament?

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There are many reasons for the gridlock in Washington. Some are recent developments, as the U.S. becomes more politically polarized. Others are structural, built into the American political system.

Regardless, the extreme paralysis that has recently become the norm in D.C. almost never happens in Western European democracies.

“You’re asking: Do other democracies have this problem? And the answer is: Not many,” says Jane Mansbridge, a professor at the Harvard Kennedy School.

Mansbridge just finished her term as president of the American Political Science Association. While in that position, she appointed a task force to spend the past year studying how agreements are negotiated in American politics. The group looked at why there’s so much stalemate in the U.S. right now.

One question they asked was whether this country can learn lessons from European democracies where there’s less paralysis.

“We tried to think about why it is that other countries have had less difficulty in negotiating agreements,” says Boston University’s Cathie Jo Martin, who was co-chairwoman of the task force. “You don’t see these kinds of stalemates happening elsewhere.”

One reason for the U.S. tendency toward gridlock is that this country has what Mansbridge describes as “a very strong separation of powers.”

The separation of powers is essential to the American political system. The president needs Congress to pass bills; Congress needs the president to sign bills into law; the courts can declare laws unconstitutional.

In most of Europe, things work differently, says Thomas Risse of the Free University in Berlin.

“In most European parliamentary democracies, the prime ministers or the chancellors are not directly elected by the people,” Risse says, “but they’re elected by the parliament itself, as a result of which they usually have a stable majority.”

It would be as if the American president’s party always controlled Congress.

Of course, America will never become a parliamentary system. But even setting that aside, political scientists say there are other lessons the U.S. can take from Europe.

Martin has concluded that money shapes the American political system in powerful and unique ways.

“I think the campaign finance issue is probably the single most important difference between America and the rest of the world,” she says.

When asked how many other countries with highly functioning democracies have lax donation rules, she replies, “I can’t think of any … almost all countries control finance.”

Today in the U.S., if lawmakers don’t toe the line, outside groups can threaten to bankroll challengers. President Obama expressed concern about that phenomenon at his most recent White House news conference, while acknowledging that he’s not entirely innocent either.

“You have some ideological extremist who has a big bankroll, and they can entirely skew our politics,” Obama said.

The political scientists on this project found other ways that European democracies avoid gridlock, too. For example, Mansbridge says Europeans more often hold key meetings in private.

“When you’ve made a decision, like the Supreme Court, you explain it, but you don’t necessarily let the public see everything you do,” Mansbridge says.

Republican Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin seemed to take that lesson to heart Thursday, when reporters tried to question him after a White House meeting.

“Can you be more specific about [Obama’s] concerns?” a reporter asked.

“I’d rather not, because we’re negotiating right now. No offense, we’re not going to negotiate through the media. We’re going to negotiate straight with the White House,” Ryan said.

While many political scientists agree on changes that could help lessen the chances of gridlock in the U.S., they also agree on the likelihood that these changes will happen:

“I have to admit to a fair amount of pessimism,” says Martin of Boston University.

“The honest answer is I’m pretty pessimistic,” says Alan Jacobs of the University of British Columbia.

Asked how all of this looks from Europe, Risse in Berlin replies, “Pretty dysfunctional, I have to say.”

At least on this point, the U.S. and Europe see things exactly the same way.