A Perfect Circle brought their 2017 North America Tour to the BB&T Pavilion in Camden, NJ on Tuesday night. Normally when I write a review of a show, I include pictures that I’ve taken, as well as links to my YouTube channel for video I’ve posted. As you can see from the sign pictured above, that was impossible for this particular show.
Keep reading for a review of the show, as well as my take on being at a show with a complete cellphone ban. Did it make the experience better or worse?
A Perfect Circle played the BB&T Pavilion, which is normally an outdoor summer concert venue. However, for this rainy and chilly day in November, they closed the back of the venue up and had an indoor show. If you read my posts regularly, you have probably seen that BB&T Pavilion is not my favorite venue. In fact, when rating Philadelphia area venues recently, I ranked BB&T Pavilion in the “ugly” category.
Unfortunately, there are times you just can’t avoid going there, and this concert was one of those. As I mentioned above, the weather was miserable on this particular night – rainy and cold. So, we were given the option of parking several blocks away for $30, or in the lot across the street from the venue for $40. I didn’t feel good about it, but sprung for the extra ten bucks to get the closer spot.
When the venue is closed up for indoor concerts, it only holds 7,000 people. Unfortunately, that also means that the only bathrooms and concessions are in the two inside concourses, which leads to long lines and people packed in like sardines. I do like the intimacy of the venue when it’s closed up, and the sound there is always good. If you want to know more about seeing a show at BB&T Pavilion, check out my post on the venue, which includes tips and tricks I’ve discovered to make your experience more enjoyable.
Since I wasn’t able to take any pictures or video, I’ll do my best to describe the show to you. As always, all of the links below lead to digital downloads through Amazon of the music, so if you are a fan, feel free to click through.
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This show was very loud. I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s a good time to mention it again. If you go to concerts, wear ear protection. I have a pair of Vibes ear plugs that I wear at every show. They lower the decibel levels without affecting the quality of the sound. For less than $20, do your hearing a favor and invest in a pair.
THE BETA MACHINE
The Beta Machine is based out of Los Angeles, CA. The band is officially made up of Matt McJunkins (vocals, bass, keyboards) and Jeff Friedl (drums). The “live” version of the band also includes Claire Acey (vocals, keyboards) and Nick Perez (guitar, keyboards). McJunkins is also a member of A Perfect Circle and Eagles of Death Metal. Friedl is a touring and studio drummer who is also a member of A Perfect Circle.
The band has recently released its debut EP – “All This Time”.
The Beta Machine took the stage right at 8:00 p.m. Acey and McJunkins were positioned at two keyboards facing each other, while Perez was off to the side. Friedl’s drum kit was also off to the side of the stage.
McJunkins is clearly the leader of the band. He did all of the talking in between songs, and seemed to be the one directing the rest of the band on the music. I found their sound to be excellent, if not a bit morose. I am a huge fan of The Cure, and I often hear their sound in other bands, which was the case here.
The crowd was sparse and very mellow. We left after The Beta Machine’s set to use the bathroom and grab a beer, and realized most of the crowd has skipped the opening act and were hanging out in the concourse. That’s a shame, as I thought it was a very entertaining set and I thoroughly enjoyed the music.
The Beta Machine is on tour in support of A Perfect Circle through the beginning of December. You can find out more information on the band and future tour dates on their website at www.thebetamachine.com.
A PERFECT CIRCLE
A Perfect Circle is a supergroup formed in 1999 by Billy Howerdel and Tool lead man Maynard James Keenan. The current line-up of the band is Maynard James Keenan (vocals), Billy Howerdel (guitar), Smashing Pumpkins’ James Iha (guitar), Matt McJunkins (bass), and Jeff Friedl (drums).
Howerdel is a former guitar tech for bands such as Nine Inch Nails, The Smashing Pumpkins, Fishbone and Tool. Keenan and Howerdel met when Fishbone was touring in support of Tool. The two became friends, and a few years later when Howerdel was looking for a place to live, Keenan offered him a room in his house.
While living with Keenan, Howerdel played him some demos of the music he had been writing. Keenan was impressed, and shortly after, A Perfect Circle was formed.
The band has released three albums to date. Their debut album – “Mer de Noms” – was released in 2000, followed by “Thirteenth Step” in 2003. In 2004, they released an album of cover songs called “Emotive”. Not only were the songs radical departures of the originals – in some cases, not even recognizable – but the album was a political statement against then President George W. Bush.
After the release of “Emotive”, the band went on a long hiatus, with Keenan returning to Tool as well as starting up the band Puscifer, and Howerdel releasing a solo album. The band reformed in 2010, and played a few live shows over the next couple of years. They released a greatest hits album – “Three Sixty” – in 2013 and a live album box set, but fell into another period of inactivity after that release.
In 2017, A Perfect Circle picked back up with an announcement of a tour and a fourth studio album, which was to be released in 2018. The first single from that album – “The Doomed” – was just released.
The guys in the band clearly have a lot of different musical interests and projects. In addition to the music, lead singer Maynard James Keenan is also interested in wine. He is the owner and winemaker at Caduceus Cellars and Merkin Vineyards, which are both located near his home in Arizona.
A Perfect Circle took the stage at 9:00 p.m. Their set began with a transparent screen in front of the stage. During the first song, you only saw the band in silhouette, which was a cool effect. In general, the show was very theatrical – much more than I would expect from a heavy metal rock band.
After the first song, the screen lifted and we got our first look at the band. Everyone – with the exception of James Iha – was dressed in all black. McJunkins and Howerdel were positioned in the front of the stage. Iha was on a platform in the back on stage right. Friedl and his drum kit were on a platform in the back on stage left. Keenan was on a large platform in the back in the center of the stage. Keenan had on a long wig (he evidently wears the wig during A Perfect Circle shows to make himself appear to be a different person than when he is fronting his other bands), a black jacket with shoulder pads, and black pants. He was not lit up well and there was a lot of fog effects, making it difficult to see him clearly.
The music for the entire show was amazing. While I’m not very familiar with the music, I could appreciate the fact that this is a band of extremely talented musicians. My biggest disappointment in the show was the energy level. Howerdel was the only one who seemed to be into the show and excited to be there. Quite often during the show, he ran back and forth across the stage while playing.
On the flip side, Keenan didn’t seem very interested in being there. He stood in one spot up on his platform. When he did speak to the crowd, it was very monotone and unenthusiastic. The one bit of fun he seemed to have, was when he told the crowd that it was hard to get his work-outs in when he was on the road, so he decided to incorporate his work-out into the show. He proceeded to pick up a set of those gimmicky shake weight dumbbells, and did a few exercises with them during one of the songs.
The band moved through its catalog of music. Before going into their version of John Lennon’s “Imagine”, Keenan talked about releasing the record “Emotive”. He talked about how it was politically charged and made – as he joked – all 7 of the people who bought it a little upset. He compared the time in politics when that record was released, to what we are going through now, and said that we all just need to hug each other (although he joked not to hug him because he wasn’t a hugger).
Towards the end of the show, Keenan thanked the crowd for cooperating with the no cellphone policy. He stated that he believes in an “aural” experience. He wants people to remember the shows from their memory, instead of what they capture on their phone. Keenan proceeded to say that he was going to “aurally” tell us – rather than reading rumors on the internet – that a new A Perfect Circle album would be coming in 2018.
The other piece of levity during the show, was when Keenan introduced the band. He introduced Iha as being straight from Vegas. This led to Iha going into a Vegas lounge routine, complete with a couple of bad jokes. Iha also gave a shout out to the Philadelphia Eagles. That got the crowd to go into the “E-A-G-L-E-S” cheer you hear so often when you live here.
There was no encore, and the band wrapped up at 10:46 p.m.
A Perfect Circle is finishing up their North America tour in November and December. You can find out more about the band on their website at www.aperfectcircle.com.
Here is A Perfect Circle’s set list from the show. Click on any of the songs to download them digitally through Amazon as well: The Package, The Hollow, The Noose, Weak and Powerless, Rose, Imagine (John Lennon cover), By and Down, Thomas, People Are People (Depeche Mode cover), Thinking of You, Vanishing, Orestes, Gravity, 3 Libras (All Main Courses Mix), Hourglass, Counting Bodies Like Sheep to the Rhythm of the War Drums, The Doomed, The Outsider, Feathers.
THE “NO CELLPHONE” EXPERIENCE
A lot of tickets for shows say “no pictures or video”, but the rule is rarely enforced as far as cellphones go. So, you may not be able to bring your professional digital camera in, but very rarely are you stopped from taking pictures or videos with your cellphone. For this show, however, word quickly got around that the rule was being strictly enforced. It was a zero tolerance policy put out at the request of the band. Rumors were flying about 60 people being ejected from a previous show. Some people even claimed that they only had their phones out to text and got ejected.
Frankly, I was a little put off by the rule. In order for me to put together a blog post that is pleasing to the eye, I like to break the words up with pictures and videos. Plus, I think it gives my readers a visual picture of what the show was like. I do appreciate the fact that having your phone out can be annoying to the people around you. The rules I follow are: 1) I never hold my phone above head level, 2) only one video per band is permitted, and 3) I only take 15-20 pictures maximum.
Once the show started, I have to admit that it was nice to not have the distractions of everyone on their phone. However, I do feel that the policy was a bit over the top and felt dictatorial. I paid good money for good seats. If I want to have some pictures as memories from the show, I should be able to have them. The policy came across more as Maynard James Keenan imposing his beliefs on me, rather than something that was mean to enhance my experience.
Walking in the show, we were bombarded with signs like the one at the beginning of this post. Once inside the seated area, the signs were put on the back of about every fifth seat to remind us, yet again, of the policy. And if that wasn’t enough, a loud booming voice announced the policy multiple times before the band took the stage.
I guess it worked, as everyone around me kept their phones away. Now if only we could ban talking during shows! I would have liked the chatterbox behind me to get ejected!
Have questions about seeing a show at BB&T Pavilion? Want to know more about The Beta Machine or A Perfect Circle? Comment below or e-mail me at email@example.com.
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