I ‘ve loved BNL since their first album. I’ve even seen them live a few times. And “One Week” was a huge hit, not to mention they did the theme for The Big Bang Theory. So, imagine my surprise to see that they were playing at the Festival of Ballooning in an airport near my house!
I thought perhaps their star had fallen on hard times. Ever since Stephen Page left, I haven’t been too sure what the band has been up to (their post-Page release is kind of bland). And maybe they didn’t get very much for their performance (no way of knowing of course). Nevertheless, the audience was packed with fans and, in what must have been a cool site for the band, hot air balloons filled the field, many of them lighting up their balloons in sync with the music. It was very cool.
It was great to see that the Ladies were still fun live–one of the best things about their shows is their spontaneity. They play tight songs and they sound great, bu they also goof around. Like with this Ballooning Rap
I was also impressed that without Page–their primary lead singer (and one of the best voices in music)–the band was still able to play their old songs that Page sung. Now lead vocalist Ed Robertson (who does the fast part in “One Week”) manages a remarkable approximation of Page’s voice. Indeed, a few times, I forgot that he was gone. Check out “The Old Apartment”, which Page used to sing:
There are some notable differences of course, “If I Had $1,000,000” misses the repartee between Page and Robertson. But in fairness, drummer Tyler Stewart more than makes up for it (he even does lead vocals on one of the songs).
There were a number of newer songs which I’d never heard (I don’t have the newest album), and they were pretty uniformly mellow. But they sounded great. And when the band played some of their older tracks (“Falling for the First Time”?!) it was magical. And I’ve had “Brian Wilson” in my head for three days now.
Sarah took a brief video of the balloons lighting up, to “Light Up My Room”.
And here’s mine at the end of “Brain Wilson”, the bass solo! (sorry it’s sideways, I’ll try and fix it).
[READ: March 12, 2011] Babymouse: Dragonslayer
This has been my favorite Babymouse so far. Perhaps it was because there was more of a “story/plot” than in the other stories–and the other stories were fine without a real plot, but this one was more focused. Also the fantasies sequences were wonderful referenced to great stories like The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe and The Lord of the Rings.
I honestly couldn’t imagine what the title of dragonslayer would refer to. I mean, aside from the animals, the story is pretty accurate to a middle school life. I assumed there’d be fantasies, but what could ground a dragon story in middle school? W ell, the big surprise for me is that the “drgaon” in the story is actually math. Babymouse hates math and has just failed a math test with an F-! The teacher says that she will overlook the test if she joins the mathletes (okay so maybe it’s not ENTIRELY based in reality).
Babymouse joins (and this is fun because it focuses on a few new characters– I think we’ve seen them before but they get more airtime here). There’s some wonderful drama afoot as her team The Fighting Fractions is fighting to regain the golden slide rule (nice) from the team that beat them (and who have since been undefeated): the Owlgorithms (this joke alone should secure the creators a place in the Cleverness pantheon).
The story actually makes the math competition entertaining (the math is challenging (and sometimes nigh impossible) but because it’s Babymouse, they have fun with it–not making us sit through the problems, but nevertheless actually showing them. And the final drama is very amusing.
I also enjoyed that the mathletes spend their downtime skateboarding and that one of the mathletes was a girl (to break stereotypes).
All in all this was a great book. I can’t help but wonder if it’s frustrating to the creators that you can finish their book in about 5 minutes, when it must take months to write and draw and ink and color.