Saturday, February 26, 2011

Devon's Coverage of Auto Show (Final Part)


BMW X6
Likes: Upscale interior, high-tech hybrid drivetrain, slightly improved gas milage without giving up peformance.

Dislikes: Hybrid and 400hp V8 don't exactly mix, hybrid premium over gasoline counterpart.

Overall: A pointless vehicle made even more pointless.


Volkswagen Touareg
Likes: Well appointed interior, improved styling, improved gas milage.

Dislikes: Very strange name, hybrid commands $13,000 premium.

Overall: If you ignore the name, you'll find this is one great SUV for the money.


Cadillac CTS-V Wagon

Likes: 556hp! Available six-speed manual gearbox, roomy upscale interior.

Dislikes: Can get seriously expenisve with options.

Overall: Currently the only wagon with 556hp in the market right now.


















Mazda 2

Likes: Stylish exterior design, small but very spacious interior, value for money factor.

Dislikes: Feels a bit waterd down compared to Fiesta, no six-speed automatic, more power would be nice.

Overall: A cheaper alternative to the Ford Fiesta.



Buick Regal

Likes: Very stylish exterior design, interior feels very upscale, available turbo engine.

Dislikes: Base engine disappointing for a luxury car, rivals offer better fuel economy and weigh less.

Overall: A large step forward for Buick. If only this had happened years ago.




Ford Taurus

Likes: Slick exterior design, handsome interior, comfortable front seats.

Dislikes: For such a large vehicle the interior is small, turbo engine only available with SHO trim.

Overall: A home-run hit by Ford.


Jaguar XJ

Likes: Unique styling, light weight aluminum architecture, plenty of power to choose from, a very interesting alternate to the Mercedes S-class.

Dislikes: Styling may not appeal to some, interior virtural guages are a huge let down, Jaguar's spotty reliability record.

Did you know? The supercharged 510hp version can accelerate from 0-60mph in 4.4 seconds.


Porsche Boxster Spyder

Likes: Affordable for a Porsche, two trunks, stays true to Porsche's hertiage.

Dislikes: Options are expensive, converting from coupe to roadster takes a bit of effort.

Overall: An excellent vehicle with true focus to performance.















Dodge Challenger

Likes: Retro styling that turns heads, tons of engine options, All-American Muscle Car.

Dislikes: Interior feels cheap, top of the range trim level is a bit expensive.

Driver's Choice: 5.7liter V8 400hp mated to a six-speed manual gearbox.













Hyundai Elantra

Likes: Very eye appealing design, loaded with standard safety features, improved fuel economy.

Dislike: Feelsl ike all style and no substance, resale value is still questionable.

Overall: Toyota and Honda should be very scared right about now.


Mercedes E-Class

Likes: Elegant design inside out, roomy rear seat for a convertible, plenty of cargo space with top up and down.

Dislikes: Expensive.

Did you know? The E-class convertible has a Aircap makes it possible to have conversations at speeds of 75mph with the top down.

Devon M

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Devon's Coverage of the Auto Show (Part Three)



BMW X3
Likes: Styling looks much better than previous form, more spacious interior, available turbo six-cylinder engine.

Dislikes: BMW premium pricing, no more manual transmission.

Overall: People choose this over the much better way less expensive 3 Series Wagon?




Acura TSX Wagon

Likes: Stylish wagon inside out, plenty of cargo space and people space, fuel thrifty four-cylinder.
Dislikes: No V6 engine option.
Overall: Although the wagon breed of vehicles is dying. Acura presents reasons why there's still hope in this segment.



Toyota Corolla
Likes: Refined interior, sense of near-Lexus quality, impressive amount of standard features.
Dislikes: Styling still bland, Toyota's reputation has been ruined by recalls, manages to be boring even with more power and sporty styling.
Overall: A soulless, dull appliance.




Honda Accord Crosstour

Likes: Excellent fit and finish, available four-wheel-drive, comfortable front seats.

Dislikes: Styling is just plain weird, slopping roofline creates blind spots.

Overall: Just a taller heavier Accord with more cargo space.


Ford Explorer
Likes: Spacious interior, styling that's very eye appealing, four-wheel-drive that's a major improvement over previous generation.
Dislikes: Turbo form doesn't offer four-wheel-drive, does Ford really need this SUV?
Overall: One of the several reasons why Ford should be reconsidered.


Land Rover LR4
Likes: Luxury combined with excellent off-road abilities, commanding seating position, powerful V8 engine.
Dislikes: Fuel economy, Land Rover's poor reputation for quality.
Overall: A decent SUV, but there are rivals that have better build quality and improved fuel economy.

Devon M 

Monday, February 21, 2011

Devon's Coverage of the Auto Show (Part Two)



Dodge Charger
Likes: Bold new exterior design, interior has a higher quality feel to it, Challenger-inspired tail lamp design.
Dislikes: Styling may appear too 'in your face' for some, even in the sportiest form, there are still better alternatives out there.
Overall: If you desire big American V8 muscle. This is the car for you.



Mitsubishi i-MiEV
Likes: An all electric vehicle, offers plenty of space for such a small car, designed for urban city traffic.
Dislikes: Range limits practicality, hard to justify high asking price for such a small car, futuristic styling isn't for everyone.
Overall: The future of electric cars is here.



Volkswagen Passat
Likes: More affordable than previous generation, tons of interior space, trunk space is very good.
Dislikes: Design is just bland, interior lacks Volkswagen's high quality feel, looks like an oversized Jetta.
Overall: The Americanized Passat just doesn't feel like a Volkswagen.



Saab 9-5 Sedan
Likes: Very handsome styling inside out, drastic change from the previous generation, still quirky - still Saab.
Dislikes: No more center console ignition switch, feels more like a luxury sedan.
Overall: Saab is moving in the right direction.



BMW 5 Series GT
Likes: Rear tailgate that can be opened like a sedan or hatchback, command seating in the rear, simple minimalistic approach to instrumental panel design.
Dislikes: Too expensive for what it is - by the way what is it supposed to be?
Overall: A BMW that creates a niche car that's creative, but just a tad over-priced.



Smart Fortwo ED
Likes: Fully electric motor, interior is oddly spacious for such a small car.
Dislikes: Still too small for some taste, can only be leased not purchased.
Overall: The Smart car should've been electric to begin with!


Porsche Panamera
Likes: Upscale interior, very distinct exterior design, plenty of power to satisfy hardcore Porsche Fans.

Dislikes: Some angles aren't very appealing, may induce sticker shock, options can sky rocket the price.

Overall: If you desire a roomy Porsche but dislike the Suv. This maybe the Porsche for you.




Volkswagen Tiguan
Likes: Very stylish exterior design, very spacious interior, rear seats can slide back to increase legroom.
Dislikes: Volkswagen premium pricing, interior is bland and lacks the high quality feel you'd expect.
Overall: The Jetta Wagon offers the same cargo space, but is far less expensive.

Devon M 

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Devon's Coverage of the Auto Show (Part One)


Scion IQ
Likes: Clever engineering, small size is great for crowded city life, advanced safety features.
Dislikes: Looks like a toy car, rear seat almost a joke, tiny cargo area.
Overall: A step up from the Smart Fortwo, but not by much.












Ford Fiesta
Likes: Very upscale interior, roomy front seats, roomy cargo area, plenty of options to make your Fiesta feel unique.
Dislikes: Can get quite expensive, needs a more power to match sporty looks, rear seat space is rather cramped, no center arm rest.
Overall: Finally a small car from Ford that isn't embarrasing to own.




Mini Countryman
Likes: Still looks like a Mini inside out, extra room for four people, plenty of cargo space as well.
Dislikes: Mini Coopers aren't supposed to be this big!! Price can get high quickly.
Overall: A Mini Cooper with real people space.


Chevy Volt
Likes: High tech electric car, incredible gas mileage, futuristic looking interior decor.
Dislikes: $40,000 price tag.
Overall: Chevy has a winner on its hands. But can it live up to the expectations of the penny pinchers?

Nissan Leaf
Likes: An all-electric car that can be purchased, virtually no exhaust emissions, can be a reasonable second car.

Dislikes: Not very practical if you live more than 70 miles,  or depend on street parking rather than garage, too expensive and impractical for a second car.

Overall: Just like any other car, except no gasoline required.




Fiat 500
Likes: Retro styling, classy upscale interior, lighter and quicker than a base Mini Cooper.
Dislikes: Not all that practical, Italian quality reputation, where's the twinair turbo?
Overall: The turbo version should've been offered first.

Devon M 

Sunday, February 13, 2011

2010 SHOW OF THE YEAR

Felipe M.

In what seemed to be taking forever, we finally close out the 2010 Pathological Hate Concert Calendar by counting down towards the much anticipated "SHOW OF THE YEAR." My original goal was to attend at least one show per month. Needless to say, that goal was not directly met, however, I was able to attend THIRTEEN concerts last year averaging to about ONE show per MONTH. I do not know if I would be able to do it again in 2011, especially with so many shows to attend, but little money or time to attend them all, 2011 is off to a rocky start, but let's go back one more time to last year as I rank my least favorite shows and quickly work my way to my favorite show of last year.

13. January 9--Battery (Metallica tribute band) and Skulls (Misfits tribute band) @ Reggie's Rock Club: Devon, Ricardo, and my old college buddy, Mike saw two mediocre local bands and a Misfits cover band with a chick for a bassist. The Misfits cover band played old favorites, but were either super-nervous or inexperienced as there were more instrument malfunctions than at a second-hand music store. What they lacked in musicianship they made up in soul as it was clear that the band enjoyed playing these punk rock staples. On the other hand, Battery played Metallica songs, old and new, note for note, chord for chord, and word for word. Unfortunately, they did all this a little too well as the songs became too boring to listen to and the band, at times, looked liked robots on stage.


12. March 26--Unearth @ House of Blues: I came back from San Diego on this same day to catch this band perform live for the first time ever. I was exhausted from the flight and the long train ride to downtown Chicago so maybe this show was not the best thing for me, theretofore. I was pleasantly surprised that the majority of their setlist contained songs from my favorite album The Oncoming Storm. However, the crowd was terrible and seeing the band "beg" the audience to raise the energy level was just plain sad.


11. July 3--Against Me! @ JBTV Studios: A band that I almost lost all interest in coming into the year performed a short, but solid set in front of a live, but small studio audience for the taping of an episode of JBTV. Unfortunately, the crowd was as stiff as statues as even old favorites such as "Pints of Guiness Makes You Stronger" did nothing to get the crowd going. The new songs from the album White Crosses were surprisingly good enough for me to buy the album that same week. It was later reported that the band was no longer signed to their major label, a great sign for all Against Me! fans everywhere.


10. July 10--Silverstein, Emery, and We Came as Romans @ The Metro: We Came as Romans sounded like every band that has broke out on the national scene in the last 3 years and their set did nothing to leave an impression on me except to refer to them as The Devil Wears Prada-lite. Emery, without question, was the best band of the night. Even though most of their setlist consisted of songs from their latest album, ...In Shallow Seas We Sail, their set was more varied and extremely intense and full of energy and the crowd was solid considering that Emery is a band that is attempting to garner a diverse following. Silverstein, the headlining band, did not impress much and their sets are starting to become very predictable. The new songs, for the most part were dull live and Shane Told's voice sounded horrible, especially the clean vocals, but in his defense, all the bands' clean vocals sounded awful and the blame has to go to The Metro on that one.


9. March 21--Bad Religion @ House of Blues San Diego: The second night and final night of my Bad Religion trek to San Diego ended relatively subpar as I was still hurting from the previous show (stay tuned). I came in late, probably missed a few songs and decided to take a backseat and not get too involved with the crowd, but overall a solid night nonetheless.


8. September 4--A Wilhelm Scream and Counterpunch @ Reggie's Rock Club
: Local band Counterpunch gave a monumental performance as they performed a mixture of their old, pop-punk songs with what seemed to be their newer, more technical and politically charged songs. A Wilhelm Scream completed another consistent show, but seeing this band twice before, I have seen them do better. A lot of old favorites were cut out to make room for the very successful self-titled EP that came out last year, but to me, the wrong songs from the EP were performed. Nevertheless, the band's discography is comparable to a basketball team with a deep bench as any track they play live will sound amazing. Also, the band was able to host a bigger crowd, but again, I've seen better crowds attend their shows.


7. July 2--Streetlight Manifesto @ The Metro: It was blazing at The Metro that night--literally it was hot as hell with so many people in the mosh pit area jamming to the band's music. I decided to stand on the sidelines for this one and I could still feel the heat. The setlist was solid and full of the ska-punk band's classics. The ranking is a little low for a show of this caliber, considering that it passes every parameter needed to make a great show, but I think what's holding this show back is the fact that I wasn't too involved with the crowd and I didn't get a chance to see any other bands. Then again, I'm not a big fan of ska music so maybe it was for the best that I didn't see any other bands that night. Unless of course it's Streetlight Manifesto.
6. January 16--88 Fingers Louis, The Boll Weevils, and Agent Orange @ Reggie's: The reason this show had a higher ranking was due to the quantity of bands that played that night. Not mentioned on the list was the first band Ricardo and I saw, She Likes Todd who was pretty decent. But ultimately, this show kicked off our concert calendar back into course with the return of 88 Fingers Louie AND Agent Orange, both bands could be considered as significant to the genre. Agent Orange was simply the best band of the night showing that they still had enough to blow the roof out of venues. Boll Weevils were simply, extremely aggressive and fun to watch. And seeing 88 Fingers Louie back together again was a treat as they are a very important band for the Chicago punk rock scene. This show felt like a history museum and that's not being disrespectful, rather it's a metaphor on how honored I was to be able to attend.

5. June 12--Thrice @ House of Blues: 4th time seeing this band live and they did not disappoint. Thrice mostly played songs from their awesome release Beggars and from their most recent releases, such as The Alchemy Index and Vheissu. But the real highlight of the night came when they played a song I thought I would never see them play live in my lifetime, "To Awake and Avenge the Dead." Without a doubt, one of the most single, thrilling concert moments in my life.

4. March 20--Bad Religion @ House of Blues, San Diego: The thing that stood out the most at this show was just how crazy the crowd was--and how big and overweight the people of San Diego are. I was getting tossed around like a rag doll at this show and it wasn't bad enough that I had one bad left knee, but this one kid kept hitting my right knee with his--in the same song! I went to the hotel beaten, bruised, but satisfied as the band went deep into their 30 years worth of music catalog and put on a fantastic show.
3. October 8--Bad Religion, The Lawrence Arms, Circle Jerks, and Bouncing Souls @ The Congress Theatre: The Chicago crowd was a lot tamer than the one in San Diego, but not by that much as Bad Religion shined brightest with a much larger crowd for RiotFest 2010. Also, the bands that played beforehand could have gone on a tour of their own and would have sold out a lot smaller venues with hometown heroes Lawrence Arms, punk rock legends Circle Jerks, and one of the few tolerable groups of people to ever come out of New Jersey, The Bouncing Souls as even a toe injury to their lead singer couldn't stop them from sounding amazing.

The top 2 shows of last year happened very early in 2010 and a lot of mulling, discussions, and arguments between Devon, Ricardo, and I have led me with more questions than answers. On the one hand, Between the Buried Me, the crowd was absolutely superb as they fed the band energy and encouragement throughout their very long set. However, The Dillinger Escape Plan brought the show to the audience as band members walked on top of the audience, guitarists were playing on top of the bar, and the bassist hung from the venue's rafters only to ultimately fall face down into his own near death. For the majority of the year, Between the Buried and Me had the edge at #1, but after 12 months the show that stood out and that we still talk about is The Dillinger Escape Plan.
2. January 24--Between the Buried and Me @ House of Blues: It is amazing how this band can play their 10+ minute songs to perfection live. The wave of sound that comes out of this band must be experienced for any music lover in general. Most of the band's setlist was from the uber-phenomenal album The Great Misdirect climaxing with the epic "Disease, Injury, Madness." If that wasn't enough, the band also performed fan favorites "Alaska" and "Ants of the Sky." The show must have lasted about an hour and a half, a lot of time given to an indie band of this caliber to do what they do best and that's rock the house out.
1. April 2--The Dillinger Escape Plan and Darkest Hour @ Reggie's Rock Club: I must preface this by saying that for the entire show, my friends and I were standing all the way back by the bar as we were content to watch the show from a distance. Plus it was packed at Reggie's. Already a very small venue, I have never seen this place this full to the brim before. Darkest Hour was great playing a great mix of old and new songs alike and I even got to talk to vocalist John Henry after the show. However, the band that stole the show, hell even the year went to The Dillinger Escape Plan as they took the show to the crowd--not begging the audience to get into the music, but basically just punching us in the throat unexpectedly and holding our attention until they were done with us. Never have I seen a band make the audience move from the front row all the way to the back where we were by the bar--hell, I was dancing to their songs and I know I wasn't the only one. Never could I imagine dancing along to complex, jazz-influenced, odd time signatures before, but it happened! If that wasn't enough, the light show that complemented the band was astonishing. I really don't care much for the lighting of these shows, but the work done that night was so appropriate and simply unforgettable.
One of the shows that we are going to is Deftones at the Riv in Chicago and opening up for them is The Dillinger Escape Plan and admitedly, I'm more excited about seeing The Dillinger Escape Plan at this show than the headlining Deftones. And Deftones put on amazing shows as well so that already will be a front runner for the 2011 Show of the Year.
Venue of the Year, without a doubt, was Reggie's Rock Club on State St. near the "Happiest Place on Earth," Chinatown. The bar next door has the same aesthetics as the concert hall, but with a million TVs, it is a sports fans' paradise. Drinks are relatively cheap considering the location of the place and the venue is very intimate and with a sloping mosh pit, it is damn near impossible to not get a good view of the stage.
I definitely look forward to more shows in 2011 and have already seen Thursday perform their album Full Collapse in its entirety and will get my second dose of Streetlight Manifesto after Valentine's Day. Feel free to share your favorite concert going experience of last year.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Devon Test Drives A Volkswagen GTI











Volkswagen GTI ($26,500*)
Likes: Rapid shifting DSG gearbox, interior materials typical VW high quality, turbo four-cylinder provides good fuel economy and excellent performance.

Dislikes: Competitors offer more horsepower for the same price, can get expensive with options, styling a little bit bland.

Overall: Volkswagen has a hot-hatch that's worthy of the title.

Devon M

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Indian Summer Live: 2 Shows in 1 Article






Felipe M


We end the 2010 Concert Calendar with two shows that were attended in Septermber and October. The first show was held at the small, but always rockin' Reggie's Rock Club. The second show was at the relatively massive Congress Theatre for the fall punk rock celebration known as Riot Fest 2010. Enjoy the recap:


September 4, 2010--Reggie's Rock Club:


Devon and I went to this show for my third helping of A Wilhelm Scream at this venue (for the set list, click here). The first band that we caught was local band The Sky We Scrape. They were pretty good and I made it a point to check out more of their music as the year went on, but it has not come to fruition. Next up is hometown heroes Counterpunch (pictured) who have been around for the last 5 years or so and famous for their song "Mr. Right" (at the 1:45 mark): "I'm not Mr. Right/But I'll settle for Mr. Right now." Counterpunch reminds me of a lot of pop-punk bands, both liked and disliked. The lead singer sounds like he is the reserve vocalist for Panic! at the Disco or Fall Out Boy and that they should at the very least be opening up for Punchline (who would in turn, open up for Fall Out Boy). I never got too deep into this band, but the intentions are there and listening to what seemed to be their newer songs live, it sounds like the band who display the most influences are catching on to the tech-punk movement that has been popularized by Propagandhi and the band they are opening up for, A Wilhelm Scream. I'm very curious to hear what the rest of their music sounds like.




The band of the hour, is A Wilhelm Scream (pictured below) as they have hit gold on every full length release. They are an awesome band and need to be experienced live. Their sometimes crass, but catchy lyrics, intense and precise musicianship, and overall punk rock, DIY aesthetic is highly infectious and inspiring--they've basically rewritten the punk rock rulebook and you can't help but root for them. The selft-titled EP has been such a hit, that it was almost disappointing to see songs such as "Congratulations," "Kursk," and "We Built This City on Debt and Booze" not be played live to make room for the new songs, but even more disappointing was not hearing two of my favorite songs live from the EP: "Every Great Story Has a Shower Scene" (the chorus is great, but the first lines of verse 1 and 2 are the stuff of legends: "Traveling in space like a cosmonaut/Requesting signals or just singaling stop/... The record of my time/Plays better in rewind") and The Song That Never Ends-like "Fun Time." I would think that a song about drinking, singing along, and having an overall good time would've been highly appropriate at this show. However, overall, it was a solid show--not the best A Whilhelm Scream show, but good nonetheless.



October 8, 2010--RiotFest, Congress Theatre:



RIOTFEST 2010 kicked off with Devon, Ricardo, and me with punk rock favorites, The Bouncing Souls. Think of all your favorite Bouncing Souls songs and most likely they'd played it that night, including fan favorites "That Song" and "Private Radio." The first thing that was noticeable was lead singer, Greg Attonito, was moving awkwardly on stage. At first one would think that this was an act, however, Attonito during the set did disclose that he was on stage with a broken toe and was taking lots of pain meds to just be able to stand on stage. It's no wonder that the punk rock vocalist looked 10-15 years older than he really was on stage, however that didn't stop him from dancing on stage, making his way to the mosh pit to sing close to the fans, and his unmistakble voice booming all over the cavernous Congress Theatre. It was my first time seeing them live and will definitely look forward to seeing them again. Probably the best band of the night if it weren't for the headliners.


This night had everything, including the blast from the past known as the Circle Jerks. The only thing I knew about this band is that Bad Religion guitarist, Greg Hetson used to be on this band. Other than that, I didn't know much about them. So I looked them up on Wikipedia--while they played on stage. The lead singer sounded like Fat Mike's (from NOFX) father. Plus he sounded very familiar. Sure enough, it was Keith Morris, Black Flag's original singer. I wasn't too impressed with the band. I love hardcore, but I after listening to them for 15 minutes, I can see why many people who grew up during that time in '80s always mention that the scene had sort of died out by the 1985-86. I guess had I grown up during that time, I would appreciate this band more, but that's just it--this band was great for its time. Or maybe I listened to the wrong 80s punk/hardcore bands, but I can't help that I like the Dead Kennedys more than Circle Jerks.


I love The Lawrence Arms and the one thing that I hated was the fact that they would only be on stage for 30 minutes. However, Brendan Kelly (pictured), bassist, said it best when he did state the fact that they would only be on for 30 minutes, but "that's what punk rock is all about." Kelly, as mentioned before on this blog, is a co-host of JBTV and one could see why he is a vital part of that show as he is to the punk rock community. Kelly is known for his verbal disapproval of the Warped Tour and his (just) assessment that it is ruining the very foundation that punk rock has built over the last few decades or so in terms of the Do-It-Yourself ethos the genre is famously known for and the small rock venues that the genre has used to introduce newer bands that go on tour with more established acts across the country. However you want to take it, Kelly has become one of the genre's more outspoken figures. He also started his band's set by introducing his band mates as "my two best friends, Chris and Neil." Kelly is the man! The thing I didn't like was I don't think they played any music from their Apathy and Exhaustion album which I have quickly fallen in love with, but instead, their set was mostly compiled by another great album of theirs Oh! Calucutta!: "The Devil's Taking Names," "Recovering the Opposable Thumb," and finishing their set with "Are You There Margaret? It's me God."

And finally, the Friday installment of Riot Fest 2010 at the Congress Theatre was finished off by the best punk rock band around, Bad Religion. They started the set with "Do What You Want" and never looked back until they finished their set, in a pleasantly predictable fashion, with "Sorrow." They also played "Wrong Way Kids" from their new album The Dissent of Man and after hearing that song, I was sold and went and bought the album that same weekend. The new album has been a pleasant surprise and is full of great songs including the very catchy "I Won't Say Anything" which might be one of the creepiest songs from this band's long list of tracks. Before 2010, the last time I saw Bad Religion perform live was back in 2007 on the heels of releasing New Dark Ages and have been waiting with great anticipation for them to come back to Chicago. Fast forward to last year and to see them three times in one year has been great, and their stop at Riot Fest was easily their best performance. They performed 24 songs and spanned the band's entire discography. "Man With a Mission" (which is quickly becoming one of my favorites), "Generator," "Los Angeles is Burning"--this band couldn't do any wrong. This show had everything: great opening acts, a wild crowd, a great set list by all bands involved, and is easily a top contender for 2010 Concert of the Year.