Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Dream Theater--A Dramatic Turn of Events

Being a Dream Theater fan is like being gay.  When nobody knows, you feel alone and afraid, constantly hiding your predilections from your friends and loved ones.  Sometimes you find yourself sitting alone in your car in the darkness, listening to Awake and thinking about how everything is going to end.  What will I do?  My friends and family won't like me anymore, that's for sure; I've never been into the cool stuff like Burzum and Periphery, and that's already put a wedge between us.  But if they ever found out, well, I don't know what would happen.

And then, one day, you're outed, and shit hits the fan.

Perhaps it's because you chose to come out, deciding to nip your fears in the bud and take control of your life, and damn the consequences.  Sometimes you're outed when someone finds the stack of live DVD's behind the false bookcase that leads to your prog dungeon, the John Petrucci instructional DVD, and stack after stack of albums, worn from years of repeated listenings and guitar solo worship.  Your world has come crashing down around you, and you have no idea what you're going to do now.

The only real difference between being a Dream Theater fan and being gay is that, once people know you're a Dream Theater fan, they never stop making fun of you.  You're no longer kvlt, no matter how many crunchy vinyl records you own, or how many times you've seen Ashdautas or Marduk live.  You're stuck forever, and will be accused of wearing a puffy shirt and leather pants, even if your accuser listens to Agalloch

They're just as lame, you fool!

Now, I can agree that Dream Theater is lame, and that they do all sorts of interesting, cringe-worthy things in life and in music.  Example one: James LaBrie wearing aforementioned puffy shirt with leather pants and playing a tambourine on the Scenes from New York live performance.  Even in my formative Dream Theater worship years I was known to stand on the couch and yell at the screen, trying vainly to reach him, begging it to stop.  And it was on a good part, too.  An extended instrumental.

Or take for example the upcoming DT tour that is coming through my town in late October, making a stop at the Bass Concert Hall in Austin, TX.  I went to go get tickets yesterday because it's been so long since the last time I got to see DT live, and I wanted to recreate that ecstasy that I felt when they played "Glass Prison" those many years ago.  I clicked on every link I could find, only to find that seats for that particular show started at $116, which is in the nosebleeds.  Since I clearly can't afford that, I'm forced to stay home that night and not see my legitimate hero, John Petrucci, play live.  The stadium will be full of douchey Jaguar salesmen and their leathery wives, leaving those of us without 401K's once again woefully in the dust.  The scene will look like this:

And there I will be that night, stuck at home masturbating all alone
Note the keytar in the above image.  Why, Jordan Rudess?  WHY?!?!
However, for all of my disappointments in Dream Theater, none of those disappointments have been tied to any of their albums.  Indeed, it seems that as Dream Theater ages and becomes increasingly out of touch with the youth of the nation, their albums somehow only become better.  The playing becomes better and more precise, the arrangements become more thought provoking and fluid (even despite the progressive tendency to just throw weird shit in the mix), and the riffs become darker.  It's breathtaking and counterintuitive, but is refreshing and invigorating every time I experience a new album.  I literally can't get enough of it.
That last paragraph is the equivalent of me dancing on a papier mache penis float in drag.  I'm free and I don't care who knows it!
As for the review of A Dramatic Turn of Events, I'll put it plainly and concisely, because I could keep rambling all day, but I have to go to work.
There are two kinds of people in the world: people who love Dream Theater and people who hate Dream Theater.  If you're like me and endure the constant ridicule of your most kvlt bros, you're going to love this album.  It could be their best one yet, and the musicianship will likely never be surpassed, unless we reconstitute the band's DNA in the bodies of some kind of land ape designed by mad scientists to play Dream Theater songs.  It's magnificent and ridiculous, and I can't get enough of it.  Ask my coworkers, who are very tired of hearing A Dramatic Turn of Events; I listened to it six times at work yesterday, and I'm listening to it again right now.
If you're too cool for school and think that you've got it all figured out, and you don't like when people play musical instruments well, you're going to hate this album, because it's standard Dream Theater, with all the wank and pomp you'd expect.
I'd like to end with a little something I wrote to the band:
Dear Dream Theater,
Without sounding weird, I'd like to say that I love you guys like I love my parents, except you guys never yell at me when I mash bubble gum into the seats of the car or set a pair of snow boots on fire in the backyard.  I think you guys are awesome, and I'm convinced that John Petrucci and I would be best friends if we ever met, and we'd drive around in a van and solve mysteries with our guitars somehow.  All of my friends make fun of me because I'm "not cool" and I like relentless shredding and long, over-the-top song arrangements, but I don't care about that.
Because I'm a huge fan.
You guys have impacted my life so greatly and deeply that I struggle to put it in to words, but I think of the revelation that is Awake the same way I think about the first time I discovered masturbating all those years ago.  And now I have two things to hide in a darkened room and do all night.
It's nothing but jerking off and listening to Dream Theater for me.
And the shame that I feel that I cannot afford to come see you guys at the Bass Concert Hall in Austin is crushing me, so I'd like to reach out to you and ask that you personally send me a ticket to the show for free, and that you let me hang out with you on the off chance that I'm not as creepy in real life as I'm coming across in this letter that I slaved over for several minutes before work.  Because if there's one thing I have learned about people that I don't know, it's that they like when I compare them to me jerking off, because it's not that weird as long as you don't think about it.

Please send me tickets to the show, and I love your new album.

Monsoon Cobra, esq.
Mouthful of Acid

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