DWN TWN Art & Farmers Market 2014

I spent some time this weekend at the Downtown Artist and Farmers Market in El Paso’s Union Plaza District.  It’s been going on for a few years now and has really taken shape from its humble beginnings.

While browsing around, I walked a few blocks over to see how the area has changed in the last year with all the recent development activity.  One new addition is a large pedestrian mall following Durango street from Overland to the site of the new stadium. There’s been a lot of talk about not having enough parking for the El Paso Chihuahua’s baseball games. This looks like a good way to shuttle foot traffic up the colorful walkway from the downtown transit terminal across from the Civic Center.

The artist market has grown leaps and bounds since the addition of the farmers market.  Food trucks also frequent, parking down on San Francisco street, giving patrons plenty of grub to choose from.

One thing that would really help would be if more of the businesses in the area would open up for lunch on Saturday (Hello! the Garden and Brick & Mortar…)  On the corner of San Antonio and Anthony streets sits The Mix , a cool retail/ shopping venue.  A few retail stores were open but a pub and nearby restaurant opened later in the afternoon. Bummer.

With plenty of parking and new vendors, the Art Market is worth a weekend checkout.  It’ll be interesting to see the area continue to grow once baseball takes hold downtown. There should be more to see and do as this and future seasons get going.

You think I ain’t worth a dollar but I feel like a millionaire

Queens of the Stone Age stopped in El Paso, playing at the Abraham Chavez theater on February 11, 2014.  If memory serves me, they had only been here once before, in support of Songs for the Deaf.  I didn’t go then and was quite surprised that they were coming back in support of …Like Clockwork.  I didn’t want to miss this one, so I snagged a couple of tickets as soon as the pre-sale was announced.

QOTSAElPasoTX_grande

They opened with the fast paced “You think I ain’t worth a dollar but I feel like a millionaire“.  That song still packs a punch even without Nick Oliveri on lead vocals.  From there it was a non stop assault.  Queens is a pretty tight band, and one of the few whose songs you can count on sounding excellent live. Josh Homme’s vocals have been the constant through the bands revolving door lineup over the years.  I would wager he’s one of the current top rock vocalists.  No auto-tuning or trickery required.

The Chavez is a medium sized venue, pretty much every seat gets you a good view.  QOTSA played like they were in a stadium though, it was LOUD.  Three songs in I had to resort to ear plugs (I’m old, I know.)  They slowed mid-way for the title track off the latest album, which I’ve posted a clip of below:

(Turn the volume down, its quite loud even on the slow parts)

The show lasted about an hour and 45 minutes and they did not disappoint.  They came out for an encore and on the last song they literately brought the set down.  Shortly after the start of the last song, Song for the Deaf, Michael Shuman knocked his amp stack to the floor, leading Homme to pull the drum kit down. Rock n’ Roll baby!

If they come again I’ll definitely catch them next time.  The Sun City has finally been getting some acts worth seeing.  With last year’s NIN, and upcoming Old 97’s in May I guess IT IS ALL GOOD EL PASO.

Here are some more crappy cell phone pics from the show: QOTSA on flickr

NIИ Tension in El Paso

When it was first announced in Febuary that Nine Inch Nails would be retuning to El Paso, I was stoked.  I hadn’t seen them since the Further Down the Spiral tour WAY BACK WHEN!!! in 94.  They were supported then by a fledgling Marilyn Manson and the crazy Jim Rose Circus at El Paso’s infamous Barn County Coliseum. Back then I was much more tolerable to crowds, idiots and general mayhem, now not so much.  Luckily, NIИ decided to upgrade their return to El Chuco with a night at the Don Haskins.  Assigned seats and crowd control doesn’t completely weed out the fools, but it should at least make it tolerable.

Fast forward several months and the event was upon us.  A weeknight concert is already a cluster and adding to the mix, Virg was bit under the weather.  What seemed like a cool idea in February was now a juggling act of getting dinner, home work and the nightly instructions for the boys to my Mom so she would hopefully have a chaos free night of watching them.  1994 John and Virg would be laughing hysterically at our 2013 versions.

With everything set, we headed down to UTEP.  Parking was quick and easy in the new garage off of Cincinnati Street and we picked up our tickets without issue.  Finding our friends and seats was equally uneventful and we settled in for the opening act, the unknown to us Explosions in the Sky.

😐 Hummm… cool music but something was missing.  Oh yeah, singing.  They apparently are an instrumental act.  There were hints of Trail of the Dead and Barroness and the songs would build up and break in large crashes of momentum and sound, though I felt kind of lost without the some sort of vocal leads.  I could listen to them as background task music or randomized amongst other similar bands but a full 45 minutes got a little repetitive.

After a quick break it was time for Reznor to take the stage.  NIИ historically has had a impressively technical show to match their “industrial” origins and this one was no different.

  The lighting was a dizzy array matching the high BPM tempo of the music.  Curtains of LEDS slipped up and down changing the atmospherics and at times added a weird multi-layer effect.  It had kind of a ethereal feel, allowing for some interesting visual effects.  There was no need for fire and pyrotechnics. This was mainlined technology, distilled for a generation that grew up with Atari and has expanded to include those that capture it with Apples.

The set list spanned his 20+ year catalog and it was cool to hear updated versions of classics like Head Like a Hole.  NIИ was lucky to have such a huge hit early in their career that managed to age well and still resonates with fans. Many in attendance tonight were not even born when it was originally released! I would have never guessed Rezor to become an elder statesman in rock:)

The pacing was good and with one encore it was time to hit the road.  Pro tip, don’t ever park in a parking garage for a concert if you are in a hurry.  I should have anticipated the jam that would ensue after the mass exodus of the exit.  Once they got traffic control going at the street level, we were out and home by 11:30. Not to bad.  My camera phone doesn’t do it justice but for what its worth here are a few pics and quick vids:

Nine Inch Nails on flickr

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