Monday, June 16, 2014

Monica Richards: Kindred

Monica Richards
Reviewed by Lisa Selvaggio
Rating: 5/5

I have to begin by saying that this review is pathetically long overdue, and I want to first apologize to Monica for that. Kindred is her third solo release and, yet again, she doesn't disappoint. The packaging is unique, complete with a 16-page book filled with inspiring lyrics, artwork, and photos in a DVD digipack. The booklet also contains "Spring," which is the story written for her graphic novel Anafae. What I personally really like about this album, though, is that it was written to honor all of the kindred animal spirits that have touched Monica's life. From frogs and bats to rain and thunder, Monica recorded animal sounds and elements from Nature to incorporate them impeccably into every song on the album, effectively turning them into music.

The album will suck you in immediately, and by the third track, "Fall," if you're anything like me, you'll get the urge to get up and dance along to the lyrics that tell you to "fight the Fall." There isn't a track I don't like, but some that stand out include "The Bird and the Snake," which was written with Strange Boutique bassist Steve Willett, and "Let You Go," which is beautiful in every single way and will have you in tears knowing that it was written for her beloved cat, Mina. Faith and The Muse fans will also enjoy the reincarnation of one of the band's most famous tracks, "Sparks."

"50 Euro Boy," with its many layers, is one of my favorites. But the most adorable element of the album is when Penelope the cat makes her musical debut on "Penelope" and, I must say, she is quite good on those keys--must be a result of all that time spent with Monica!

As with all of Monica's other solo work, this album proves what a versatile artist she is. She is able to take recordings of the natural world and seamlessly fuse them with a dynamic musical landscape (case in point: "Speak"). With a combination of electronic and tribal elements and, of course, her signature voice, if you've enjoyed Monica's previous work, you must pick up Kindred as well. I highly recommend taking the time out to listen to each track as you look through the booklet and read the lyrics.  

To purchase Monica Richards' music, click here.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Sevendust Acoustic, Live at the Starland Ballroom

An Evening With Sevendust, Acoustic
Reviewed by Rob Acocella
Rating: 2/5

It pains me to write the words I'm about to put below this, but it has to be said. I've been a fan of Sevendust for a long time and I've seen them more times than I can count, but the show I just witnessed was the worst one so far. I feel like I'd be doing an injustice and a disservice if I were to gloss over the negative details and sugar coat this, so in the interest of this hopefully being seen as constructive criticism, here we go:

When I see a show billed as an acoustic performance, I expect an acoustic performance. This was not an acoustic performance. Some people may argue that a few of the songs had been re-arranged in an acoustic fashion, which I'll give you. Others may argue that the guitarists were playing acoustic guitars, again, this would be true. However, there is more to playing acoustic than simply performing songs on a hollow-body guitar. I understand that in a live and studio setting, you need to plug in, and run through an amp, and I have no issue with that at all. I do have an issue with running effects pedals in your signal chain, and making your acoustic sound like the Les Paul you use on all your other tours. I have an issue with the drums being mixed as though you're using them to perforate the lungs of the audience. I have an issue with the vocal performance of a song barely deviating from the original despite the band having claimed to have rearranged the songs. More importantly, I have a huge issue with showing up with a set of expectations, mostly consisting of 1) seeing a true acoustic performance, and 2) not having my ears ringing to the point I'm checking them for blood, only to have those expectations greatly let down.

I don't feel I'm being unfair here. I'm not taking away from Sevendust the fact that they practically ooze positive energy or that I've never seem them put on a bad show, even tonight. In fact, it's not the performance or the vibe that has me disappointed at all. I've seen many bands go the acoustic route for either part of their set or for a full tour, and none have missed the mark quite like Sevendust. This was not an acoustic show, this was a regular Sevendust show played with two hollow-body guitars mixed in with electric bass, drums, and keyboards.

The show was divided into 2 parts, with about a 30 minute intermission. The first half of the show, I felt was full of less-recognizeable songs, even for someone who has been seeing the band live, on just about every tour, since about 2003. With just a few songs that stood out instantly, most of them just sounded the same to me. The second set, which had a few more favorites, was stronger, but by then I'd already given up on the idea of the show being a more laid-back acoustic variation on what I'm used to. Also, a note to any band that is going to cover Nine Inch Nails' "Hurt": Don't change the lyrics. More specifically, don't change "I wear this crown of shit" into "I wear this crown of thorns." Not only is it such an iconic song that you shouldn't ever consider changing the lyrics, but the implication of those 2 lines are completely different and you ruin that part of the song by changing it as such. A crown of shit means you're the king of garbage, negativity, sorrow, nothingness. A crown of thorns implies condemnation and accusation. Completely different, please don't do it again.

I really wanted to like this show, and I really hate giving Sevendust a poor review for a live show, but I can't lie about this, it really failed to impress me or even meet the most basic expectations.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Megadeth and Fear Factory LIVE in New Jersey

Megadeth and Fear Factory
Live in NJ on 11/29/13 at The Wellmont Theater
Reviewed by Rob Acocella

Megadeth and Fear Factory are two of my favorite bands, especially to see live, so when I saw they were on a bill together I was really excited. To make it even better, they were playing a few towns over from me in my home state of NJ, so I didn't need to pay a bunch extra in tolls and parking to go into New York City to see them. (Side note: contrary to popular belief, people who live in NJ don't necessarily love, or even like, traveling into NYC.)

I hate to say it, but the show was a little disappointing, which was no fault of either band, I might add. Fear Factory has always had one of the most energetic live shows with some of the craziest crowds I've been witness to. The energy just wasn't there that night. The band was full of pep and sounded great, but you could tell by the way Burton C. Bell was talking to the crowd that even he could sense that they just weren't giving the same energy back. He made multiple references to how the crowd seemed sleepy, and blamed it on the fact that the day before was Thanksgiving and everyone "must have eaten too much shit, too much turkey." He was most likely right, as everyone looked like they were still in tryptophan comas. This was also the first time I'd ever seen Fear Factory as an opening or support act, aside from that one time they were on Gigantour after Transgression came out. I was completely not expecting such a short set, but I can't complain about the song choices, to be honest. They opened with the obvious choice: the title track from their most recent album The Industrialist, and from there it was a 7-song barrage of oldies but goodies made up of "Shock," "Edgecrusher," "Damaged," "What Will Become?," "Demanufacture," "Self Bias Resistor," and, of course, they closed with "Replica." The band deserves 5 stars for their energy, song choices, and their performance, but the crowd dragged down the whole mood. It's a double-edged sword because I normally love Fear Factory shows but complain about the audience because they're too rowdy and obnoxious, and this time I'm complaining because it's like they didn't even care that the band was there.

DIGImmortal Photo: Fear Factory 11-29-13 &emdash;
DIGImmortal Photo: Fear Factory 11-29-13 &emdash;
DIGImmortal Photo: Fear Factory 11-29-13 &emdash;
DIGImmortal Photo: Fear Factory 11-29-13 &emdash;

Headliners Megadeth need no introduction. From the second the video screens turn on and "Prince of Darkness" starts pumping through the speakers, you know you're going to be in for a great show.  Being one of the photographers shooting the show, I'm right upfront for the first 3 songs of the set, so I get to hear what the band hears, which is why when they opened with "Hangar 18," I was confused as to why Dave wasn't singing when he was supposed to be. Until I looked up and realized he was! Whoever was running sound for this show really must have phoned it in that night. Couldn't hear vocals in the monitors at all for the first 3 songs, and when I left the photo pit to go to the back of the room to watch the rest of the show, I realized that the vocals were mixed terribly. Not only were they pretty low compared to the music, but the quality of the sound was really bad, and you couldn't make out a word Dave was saying. It wasn't Dave having a bad night either, because even between songs when he'd talk to the crowd, you still could hardly make out any words. As the show went on, the venue, or the soundguy, or whoever was at fault, pretty much ruined the show. The sound was terrible, and by terrible, I mean completely awful. The guitar tones were way too thin most of the time, and David Ellefson's bass was almost completely lost. The worst part was at the beginning of "Peace Sells" when David switched to his new signature Kelly Bird bass, which, as a bass player and lifelong fan of Ellefon's, I was very excited to finally hear live. The sound was so bad it sounded like he was playing a shoebox with rubber bands around it.

Here's the thing: I'm not taking points away from the band for any of this. I know for a fact that they do not sound like this normally. I honestly feel like the venue cared more about volume than clarity of the mix. If I'm all the way at the back of the venue, away from the speakers, my ears should not be numb when I leave as though I was standing in the front row the whole night. I have seen variations on this setlist numerous times now since Ellefson's return to the band and not once have they had a bad night. There are, however, two things that I'm slightly disappointed with: 1) it was Black Friday and they did not play "Good Mourning/Black Friday," which, to me, just seemed like an appropriate song to play, and 2) the only new song I've heard live since Super Collider came out has been "Kingmaker." While I know it's the big single from the album, there are other tracks on there that really should get the live treatment.

Overall, the show wasn't bad as far as Metal shows go. It's just very disappointing that a venue that was recently renovated would have such an awful sound for such a huge band. For a complete setlist for Megadeth, check it out HERE.

DIGImmortal Photo: Megadeth 11-29-13 &emdash;
DIGImmortal Photo: Megadeth 11-29-13 &emdash;
DIGImmortal Photo: Megadeth 11-29-13 &emdash;
DIGImmortal Photo: Megadeth 11-29-13 &emdash;

For more photos from this show and others, visit DIGImmortal Photo.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

John Kiernan: Of Oceans

John Kiernan
Of Oceans
Reviewed by Rob Acocella
Rating: 5/5

NOTES! Lots of notes, and really fast! New Jersey native John Kiernan is further proof that there must be something in the water in this state that makes people excellent musicians. [Note: I am NOT talking about Bruce or Jon]

NJ is famous for local music heroes that either achieve cult status within our own little bubble, or go on to more impressive national success. Some of our local guys like Metal Mike ChlasciakSteve Bello, or Angel Vivaldi are very well known for their instrumental Metal guitar playing. Enter John Kiernan, who can be added to the list of the aforementioned players, with influences from other artists that merge with his own taste in every riff. If you're looking for a fast-paced but not overly self-indulgent example of some top-shelf guitar playing, then you need to check out Of Oceans.

The production quality on this is incredible, and it's very rare to hear local or indie artists with this level of production. The drums absolutely boom with every hit and the layers of guitar are tastefully arranged. There's just enough complexity to set it aside from your run-of-the-mill songwriting, but not enough where it becomes pretentious.

The album starts off with "The Hit," which is a song that evolves as you go deeper into it. It starts sounding like something early Van Halen would write and then builds into something a little more sonically mature and involved, and ends with a short but aggressive drum-lead beat. All of this in just over one minute. It's a great way to kick off the album by showing off a quick portfolio of skills. Another standout track is "Astraeus," which sounded very familiar the first time I heard the intro. I finally figured out that the intro had a similar feel (at least in my mind) to Megadeth's "Head Crusher" from 2009's Endgame. Both songs are actually quite different once you move beyond the intro, but there's that familiarity that struck me on first listen. I guess great music minds really do think alike. The album ends with John's cover of Alice DeeJay's "Better Off Alone." I think the crowning coincidence is that the album that the original song appeared on was called Who Needs Guitars Anyway? Kiernan's adaptation is excellent and catchier than the original, if that's possible. Guest vocalist Syka lends her pipes to the track, showcasing an impressive sustain and vocal control.

If you're into Instrumental Metal and Shred, I highly recommend you check out Of Oceans today. Plus, John's a really nice guy, and a Giants fan, so he's got that going for him as well.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Nine Inch Nails: Hesitation Marks

Nine Inch Nails
Hesitation Marks
Reviewed by Antonio Staropoli
Rating: 5/5

When I was a kid and music videos actually played on MTV, I remember having a very vivid memory of the Nine Inch Nails video for "Closer." Mostly because the imagery was disturbing for a child, but it had a pretty catchy hook. Not to mention a generous use of the word fuck in the uncensored version. But it wasn't until years later that I was introduced to Pretty Hate Machine, the very first album/halo in the NIN collection. I played "Head Like a Hole" ad nauseam and became beyond obsessed with the cover of Joy Division's song "Dead Souls" on The Crow soundtrack. I finally understood why all my friends had at least one Nine Inch Nails t-shirt.

Since then, Trent Reznor has completed eight studio albums and worked on a lot of side projects, including the one that earned him an Academy Award for the score of The Social Network. So, naturally, there's a huge expectation for this award-winning artist, especially when there is talk of a new NIN album coming out after five long years. The last record, The Slip, had a very raw, minimalist garage-rock sound, relative to Nine Inch Nails anyway. One of the beautiful things about this “band” is that every album has a flavor and unique sound, but at the very core it's still recognizable as NIN. So when the first single, "Came Back Haunted" was released, I thought, what the fuck is this? I just couldn't process it as quickly as I would have liked to, but after a few listens I finally got it! I'm now being taken back to that time I listened to Pretty Hate Machine when I was a kid. This is an electronically heavy record with little Rock and Metal influence. So much so that I wonder if you can even categorize this as Industrial. A friend of mine even referred to it as Pretty Hate Machine without the hate. But that doesn't mean you won't hear that dark, brooding Trent Reznor undertone we know and love in each song. Some songs, like "Find My Way" and "Disappointed," may even have you contemplating what the least painless way to go is. This brings me to the title, Hesitation Marks, which comes from the term "hesitation wounds," used to describe the marks made by a blade prior to a suicide attempt. So what is he trying to say? There are a few ways this can be interpreted, but I'm more interested in talking about the material and how it relates to the title.

The first two songs that were written for this record were "Everything" and "Satellite;" each one with sounds constructed on opposite ends of the spectrum. He then had to decide whether to go with the guitar infused Poppy sound of "Everything" or the electronic-based and more layered sound on "Satellite." He clearly went in the direction of the latter. However, for the first time in NIN history, he was not the only one calling the shots. He worked very closely with Atticus Ross (How to Destroy Angels/The Social Network score/The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo score) and Alan Moulder on the production of this record, which he claims was somewhat relieving. Yet, he still wrote and performed everything on this album to give it that authentic NIN feel.

The second single, "Copy of A," denotes an obvious humility in Reznor where he claims, “I am just a copy of a copy of a copy / Everything I say has come before / Assembled into something into something into something / I am never certain anymore.” The song begins with a simple synth melody accompanied by a bass/snare drum repetition a few measures in and then slowly layers on more ominous synth sounds during the buildup and chorus. Eventually, you hear something that really comes through in almost every song, which is a Latin-like percussive element that adds so much to an otherwise empty or standard dance rhythm. And despite the humble intentions of this song, the rest of the record is very much an attempt to sound like something different and new. This could be some sort of indication of an internal war Reznor is having with himself, but I'm just speculating.

Some songs seamlessly flow into each other while others end and begin abruptly, which kind of creates a roller-coaster of emotions that go from unsettling intensity to an urge to move on the dance floor (yeah I said it), to a terrifically dismal lull. "In Two" is the perfect example, as it embodies all of these qualities in one song. There's a conviction when he says “Yes / Yes, of course / It's gonna hurt,” an electro-dance tone during the pre-chorus, “Nature is violent / The nature of the beast is violent / You know that / And someone else / Another one that wasn't me, no,” and a calm while he whispers “I just don't know anymore.” All the while, a vocally melodic chorus “It's getting harder to tell the two of you apart” is really driving the song. The only anomaly that I still can't figure out is the saxophone part of the following song, "While I'm Still Here." It seems a bit forced and pretty out of place, and not just in terms of the song but in relation to the entire album. However, I'll let it slide, considering that the rest of Hesitation Marks has a well-defined and calculated sound, like that of the song "All Time Low," which exudes precisely the type of confidence and swagger I expect to hear in a NIN song. It carries a groove with the bass and drums that propel the song in a vertical direction. Then an equally groovy guitar melody, layered with synthesizers, provides both background dissonance and rhythm in the form of odd and sometimes unfamiliar sounds.

Every component of this record seems to be intended to provoke and stir emotion to manipulate the listener's disposition. It's a moniker of any Nine Inch Nails piece. But at the same time, it is a more commercial-friendly endeavor, which gives fault-finders something to gripe about. And the deluxe version offers little musically with its remixes of "Find My Way," "All Time Low," and "While I'm Still Here." Of course, these are essential to the avid Nails fan, but I found them to be decent at best---mostly just excessive though.

All things considered, Hesitation Marks provides a wide range of flavors from all over the NIN spectrum sure to please the musical palette, and a welcomed addition to the band's halos. It's obvious that Trent cannot move away from this band, no matter how much he tries to distract himself with other endeavors. He will always be trying to find himself and his way through the expression of the Nine Inch Nails outlet. And this record is the perfect example of how he has succumbed to that inevitable truth. Are these songs a reflection of Trent's “hesitation wounds” in accepting his fate as the voice of a tormented generation? Give it a listen. You be the judge.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Carnival of Madness in Asbury Park, NJ

The Carnival of Madness (We as Human, Sevendust, In This Moment, Skillet, Shinedown)
Live in Asbury Park 8/11/13
Review and Photos by Rob Acocella
Rating: 4/5

The Carnival of Madness tour opened in Asbury Park NJ on August 11 at the famous Stone Pony. That particular tour date consisted of performances by We as Human, Sevendust, In This Moment, Skillet, and Shinedown.

Unfortunately, after arriving at the venue just a little late (NJ beach traffic on a nice day), but still with plenty of time to at least catch Sevendust's set as the second band, I realized from the parking lot that what I was hearing was "Angel's Son." Knowing that Sevendust usually puts that late in their set, I darted for the door only to catch the last 30 seconds of their final song by the time I made it through security. Apparently someone decided to start the concert way ahead of schedule.

After setting up some pretty elaborate set decorations, In This Moment took the stage. I'm not going to fake anything here, while I've long been aware of this band, I never really followed them. Not knowing any of the songs in particular, I can't give a critique of how much like the album they were or weren't. I will say this, though: The band sounded really solid and tight from the point of view of someone that hadn't heard any of the songs before, and Maria Brink and her synchronized slave dancers did a great job of provided creative visuals to go along with each song through their movements, props, and occasional costume changes. I can certainly appreciate the amount of work that must have gone into synchronizing the performance movements for each song and having to memorize an entire performance to repeat every night for weeks on the road. Overall they were entertaining to watch, between the smoke guns, the dancers, and the rebel-zombie-like stage costumes of the band against the pure white piles of skulls and fence gates set as a backdrop. For anyone that wants to know, it seems that the setlist from this show can be found HERE

DIGImmortal Photo: In This Moment 08-11-13 &emdash;

DIGImmortal Photo: In This Moment 08-11-13 &emdash;

DIGImmortal Photo: In This Moment 08-11-13 &emdash;

The direct support slot was filled by Skillet. I'm again going to be blunt here, they did not jive well with me. The backing vocals done by drummer Jen Ledger sounded awful, similar to a young school child yelling or whining. The band's overall sound was so generic that I wasn't sure if I was at a Rock concert or walking through the local mall. On top of it all, vocalist John Cooper took every chance he could to insert biblical references or drop other Christian propaganda on the audience between songs which were about the same topics. I had not previously known that they were a Christian Rock band, but it became increasingly evident as the show went on. My personal opinion is that religion should be kept out of music, or at least Rock music. If you absolutely must put your religious views into music and lyrics, it should be done in a way that it is not completely obvious or preachey, which I don't feel they accomplished, and I don't feel was their goal to begin with. The reason is that music should be something everyone can relate to, and when you make the message of your music more exclusive, you start to leave people out and make it hard for them to digest. The band has an energetic stage presence, and I suppose if you're a fan of their music already then you would appreciate the stage show they put on, including a rising pillar system that would elevate 2 musicians at a time on either side of the stage. If you are a fan of Skillet, and want to see what they played that night, you can find the set list HERE

DIGImmortal Photo: Skillet 08-11-13 &emdash;

DIGImmortal Photo: Skillet 08-11-13 &emdash;

DIGImmortal Photo: Skillet 08-11-13 &emdash;

The show closed with an amazing performance by Shinedown which included fan favorites like "45," "Simple Man," "Devour," and "Second Chance." It was also the live premiere of "I'm Not Alright" which had previously not been performed live. Shinedown have long been known for their high-energy live shows and as always, they did not disappoint. Brent Smith's vocals were spot-on and with the extra help from Eric Bass and Zach Myers they nailed every note. It wouldn't be a Shinedown concert without some inspiring words from Brent, and he got the crowd really energized talking about how strong NJ was for making it through Superstorm Sandy and rebuilding the beaches, and how Rock and Roll is a way of life and not just a genre of music. I may be a bit biased as a fan, but I've never seen a Shinedown concert that I had anything bad to say about, and I'm happy to report that the trend is still continuing.

DIGImmortal Photo: Shinedown 08-11-13 &emdash;

DIGImmortal Photo: Shinedown 08-11-13 &emdash;

DIGImmortal Photo: Shinedown 08-11-13 &emdash;

DIGImmortal Photo: Shinedown 08-11-13 &emdash;

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Gigantour 2013 in NYC

Gigantour 2013 (Megadeth, Black Label Society, Newsted)
Live in New York City
Reviewed by Rob Acocella

Rating: 4/5

When Dave Mustaine announced he was putting together the 2013 incarnation of Gigantour, my ears instantly perked up to see who would be on the bill. Known for great lineups, I was eagerly awaiting the announcement. The first time I heard that Black Label Society and Newsted would be on the bill, I knew I had to be there.

The New York City show had been broken up into two separate nights rather than one all-day festival, and from what I understand, it was the only stop on the tour that was managed that way. Unfortunately, the first night, which was supposed to feature Hellyeah and Device, had been cancelled.

Anyone who knows me from when Paragon first started knows I've always been a huge fan of Zakk Wylde's work, as well as Megadeth, and if you came up on Metal music beginning with post-Cliff Burton Metallica, you know it's been way too long since Jason Newsted got on stage and performed.

(Clicking the photos below will take you to full galleries of each band's performance.)

DIGImmortal Photo: Newsted 08-07-13 &emdash;

The first band of the night was Newsted, and what a great show he put on. I had not yet had the chance to hear his new music, so I wasn't totally sure what to expect. If you had ever seen the concert footage of Metallica's Binge and Purge, you know Jason is well-known for lending his vocals to live versions of "Whiplash." After a full set of all new, original material, true to what I had hoped, they covered the Metallica classic at the end of the set. I was surprised to see Mike Mushok of Staind performing with Jason, as I hadn't heard the announcement that he would be joining the band. Say what you will about Staind, but Mike is one hell of a guitar player and has a great stage presence when performing.

DIGImmortal Photo: Black Label Society 08-07-13 &emdash;

Black Label Society played a great set with a good balance of mid-career and new material. Zakk shreds his guitars like only Zakk can. The only thing I have been critical of over the years has been his singing voice. He had been doing backing vocals and harmonies for Ozzy for so long that his previously gruff, masculine voice has turned into a higher-pitch whine. No, I'm not a fan of the way he started singing on anything after 1919 Eternal. That's not to say that he has put out bad music since then, I just wish he'd sing like he used to on Stronger Than Death. The unfortunate thing is that it sounds even worse live. Enough about Zakk's voice though, because what people really go to see BLS for is the playing, and there was lots of great playing that night. Zakk and Nick Catanese have always locked in real tight and, together, they create one big wall of guitar sound. J.D. is a monster of a bass player and even tosses in some Funk flavor when playing these songs live. Overall, it was a great performance, but I wish I could have heard a few of my favorites from the first two albums as well. I'm not picky, though. I'll go see Zakk play any chance I get because I know it will always be a great show.

DIGImmortal Photo: Megadeth 08-07-13 &emdash;

Finally, the band everyone was waiting for, Megadeth, took the stage and opened with "Trust." I have to be honest, I was expecting more songs from Supercollider than only two, especially since one of those two songs are a cover. I was happy to hear "Kingmaker," as I've already said in my review of the album that it would have been a better choice for a first single over the title track. I just think that something like "Forget To Remember" or "The Beginning of Sorrow" would have been a better choice than "Cold Sweat." I did like the cover of "Cold Sweat" on the album, but if you're out promoting the new record, I would have expected only original tunes in the set list, at least for the fist time out. It was great to hear "Wake Up Dead," "Darkest Hour," and "Architecture of Aggression," in addition to the regular live favorites like "Hangar 18," "She Wolf," "Peace Sells," and "Holy Wars." The rhythm section of Ellefson and Drover has to be one of the tightest I've seen live, almost ever, and the scorching rhythm/lead change-offs between Mustaine and Broderick will give you whiplash. I've never seen a bad Megadeth show, and this continued that streak.

Even though this wasn't the full Gigantour lineup, I give this mini-Gigantour a solid 4/5 only because of my strong feelings on certain setlist choices. Performance-wise, though, it was flawless. Click here for a complete gallery of photos from the event.