2006-03-18 Congress Theater

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Rarely do I ever make my way to Chicago. Unless, of course, there is something really super duper important going on. I’d say Dream Theater – 20 Years of Music anniversary tour is plenty worthy. The following is my take on the experience. Sorry for the lack of pictures, I stupidly forgot my camera in the hotel room.

Concert
Brett and I were a little worried when we realized that the line of people that we were driving past for the last 4 blocks was in fact the line to get into the The Congress Theater to see the one and only Dream Theater. In unison, “Holy Shit… No fuckin’ way!”

After dropping 20 bones on a side street parking spot a block and a half away we made our way to the main entrance. We were not going to get in that line. But, it looked like we had no choice. Security was sending all newcomers to the back of the line. We started to walk in the direction he pointed us to but saw a tiny gap in the line that snaked around the tour buses. Following a few other people we quickly slipped in line before the next group made their way across the street and around the buss. We were now about 90% closer than we would have been if we walked all the way to the end. 15 minutes later and we were in.

I’m really kicking myself for not bringing my MD recorder and digital camera now that I’ve seen how lenient the security was. The guard that searched my pockets felt my cell phone and my iPod and asked me if I carry two cell phones. I said no and he said “OK. Keep moving please”. I could have brought in a video camera and no one would have said a thing. Brett and I looked at each other and laughed. What a joke.

Quickly we made our way into the crowd of people that were starting to swarm the stage. After another look around we saw that the railed off light and soundboard area was people-less. The decision was mutual to stand up against the railing so as to better see the show and hopefully get a little better acoustics. At least we were right about the acoustics…

Soon after the show began, this moronic, drunken, testosterone-overdosed, freak (and his friends) slowly worked his way closer and closer to where we were positioned. Throughout nearly the entire show he faced away from the stage and talked, screamed, hollered, and swaggered in a ten foot radius disturbing a very large group of fans. As the guy standing next to me said while the idiot went to get another beer at intermission, “There’s always one in every crowd, and he’s always standing in front of me.”

Now, on to the show. Or, at least what I could see of it when ‘Lurch’ wasn’t being obnoxious:

For once I actually enjoyed the set list. I was a little worried about some of the choices but the crowd really got into every song. Innocence Faded shockingly made an appearance, DT has very rarely pulled that one out. Also, a nice addition was Raise the Knife, an out take from the “Falling Into Infinity” sessions. I’ve heard the song before but never really got into it. I was very surprised to see audience members mouthing the words to the entire song. There are some hardcore DT‘ers over in the ‘windy city’!

Some of the highlights of the show:
Back in 2000 my friend, and fellow concert goer, Brett had an opportunity to talk to Mike right before the show. The one thing he asked him? “Are you doing a drum solo tonight?” Mike responded with, “Nawww, I’m getting tired of those things.” Well, on March 18th 2006 MP went back on his statement. I’m not a super huge fan of solos but this drum solo was very, very well done. One Mr. Charlie Benante of Anthrax fame joined Mike on stage. They played dueling as well as together in unison for a good 10+ minutes. It was flippin’ amazing. I was very surprised to find out after the show that this was a unique appearance! You never know what you are going to get at a Dream Theater show.

Jordan’s Performance
This is the first time I’ve seen JR bring out the Continuum (the red-surface thingie). It was very interesting. It sounds like a cross between a keyboard and an electric guitar. Of course, Jordan was “on” as he always is. His lap steel performace during Octavarium was very impressive.

John Myung’s Performance
What can you say about John Myung? He walks on stage, his fingers fly, the crowd roars with excitement and appreciation during even the smallest bass sections. You gotta love him. I was really hoping to see the Never Enough over-hand-fret-board-duet with Petrucci but it didn’t make the set list. We did get to see a nice guitar/bass interaction in the middle of Octavarium though.

James’ Performance
Oh my Lord! James’ voice was simply spectacular. I’ve never heard him sound this good in all of the concerts that I’ve seen. He even hit and held the F# in the middle of Learning to Live!!! James also played keyboards during the lap steel section of Octavarium. And it’s not a DT concert unless you have some JL quotes:

  1. “There are three shows that we look forward to on every tour: New York, L.A., and Chicago!” [crowd roars]
  2. “This is a very special set of shows for us. We are celebrating 20 minut… yeah… 20 fuckin’ minutes of Dream Theater music…” [shakes his head] “20 years of Dream Theater music!”

Mike’s Performance
Sportin’ a Bulls jersey and the famed ‘Tasmanian’ do, Mike really kicked ass. He was standing up and provoking the crowd to clap and sing along all throughout the show. It was enjoyable to finally see him really into it.

John Petrucci’s Performance
As usual, his mix is just way too loud. I didn’t realize that his dials go to 12! I think I’d have better things to say about JP if I could actually hear his solos. See, the blood dripping out of my ears is hindering my ability to absorb his genius. John, we all know you are a great guitarist, please just turn it down a bit so we can appreciate you.

Set List

  1. The Root of All Evil
  2. Another Won
  3. Afterlife
  4. Take the Time
  5. Innocence Faded
  6. Peruvian Skies
  7. Raise the Knife
  8. Home
  9. drum solo/drum duet with Charlie Benante

Intermission

  1. War Inside My Head
  2. The Test That Stumped Them All
  3. Endless Sacrifice
  4. I Walk Beside You
  5. Octavarium

Encore

  1. Wait for Sleep
  2. Learning To Live

Post show…
Before the show and during the intermission Brett and I hatched a plan to split up and try to get a set list from the lighting guy and soundboard guy. I’m sad to say that this is the first concert since 2002 that we failed in our attempt. Brett thinks that we ‘started something’ and just too many fans are after them. I say we were just unlucky.

Just like the last show, we didn’t bother waiting in the dark alley in hopes to catch a glimpse of a bass-less band. So, Wingerman was nowhere to be seen, thank heavens. Ever since they started doing those $100+ tickets with meet and greets, you are pretty much guaranteed not to get an autograph after a show. I don’t blame DT, they have a lot of extra work to do with this ticket scheme. I just wish the prices weren’t so outrageous.

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