Tag Archives: U2

U2 Experience in Omaha

May 22, 2018 by
Photography by Doug Meigs

U2’s “Experience + Innocence” tour was more than a concert. It was more like a futuristic church sermon with the band’s chart-topping rock hits as the soundtrack. It was an experience.

 

A 100-foot-long LED screen/wall hovered above a runway connecting two stages at Omaha’s CenturyLink Center on Saturday, May 19. The screen was not only a surface for multimedia pyrotechnics; it was also a floating stage with multiple levels where the band would walk and perform.

Concertgoers were advised to download the band’s AR eXPERIENCE App (“AR” is short for “augmented reality”). The app brought supplemental special effects to smartphones pointed at the screen. Before the concert started, a waterfall poured into a whirlpool in the middle of the ground-level crowd. When U2 began playing, a gigantic Bono avatar popped from the screen.

 

The real Bono rose into the air on a platform, and over the course of the concert, the LED wall transformed into a movable feast of U2’s narrative with animation, historical footages, newsreels, and local Omaha scenes woven together. It was a powerful medium for U2’s message of world peace, unity, and women’s empowerment.

Aerial footage of the Omaha metro at night played on the screen when the band performed “City of Blinding Lights,” and the sight of the Wooden Tower, Gene Leahy Mall, and downtown seemed 3D in the moving display. After giving lots of love to Omaha, Bono eventually gave a shout-out to Susie Buffett (a personal friend of Bono’s and board member of his global campaign and advocacy organization ONE).

 

If concertgoers didn’t know of Bono’s humanitarian advocacy before the show in Omaha, they do now. The U2 frontman called for support to ONE’s latest movement, “Poverty is Sexist,” and he promoted the hashtag #womenoftheworldtakeover on screen.

U2 ended the show with a special dedication to the shooting victims at Santa Fe High School. In the band’s encore—only one day after America’s latest tragic school shooting—Bono introduced the song “13” from Songs of Experience: “The next song is a lullaby which we dedicate to the kids at Santa Fe High, and we sing it as a prayer of safety for all your children tonight.”

The concert featured songs mostly from their Songs of Experience album, but the band also played classic hits including “One,” “Sunday, Bloody Sunday,” “Vertigo,” “Acrobat,” and “Staring at the Sun.”

 


Life in the Fast Lane

December 16, 2014 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Imagine, for a moment: thousands are screaming, intermittent camera flashes are flickering, and screens as tall as buildings illuminate with animation as cameras zoom in on passionate crowd members or in for close shots of band members onstage. Lights, screens, cameras, sound system—everything is calculated, and anything could go wrong.

For Marcia Kapustin, this is a day in the life, one small aspect in a career that carries her to concert halls around the world.

“You’re in full-out panic mode sometimes,” Kapustin says, referring to one of Bon Jovi’s concerts in which the power went completely out. “It’s live, you know? Everything stops.”

Kapustin, who started her company, KPX Video, in 2000, is an entrepreneur and specialist in technological and media content for bands. As such, she often finds herself hitching along on tours with various musicians to direct the screens, sounds, and lighting in concert venues so that shows run smoothly.

Although born and raised in Philadelphia, her port of landing is chiefly Omaha, where she started KPX. Her company specializes in LED screens, animations, live cameras, and image magnification, along with a wide gamut of other provisions for sound and screen content. Her impressive repertoire of clients includes Metallica, Bon Jovi, Elton John, James Taylor, U2, and Paul McCartney.

The obvious question: How can she not get star-struck rubbing elbows with the likes of Paul McCartney? “After so many years of working with [Paul], I’m used to it,” Kapustin says. “But every once in a while, when Paul will call me up or give a kiss on the cheek, I’ll have this moment of, ‘Oh my God, that’s Paul McCartney!’”

Kapustin is on the road anywhere from four to 10 months a year, a career choice for which she says she has “zero regrets.” However, finding the balance of normalcy between home life and life in some of the fastest of fast lanes poses an interesting challenge.

“I mean, imagine it this way,” Kapustin says. “Most people get off work, they go home at 5 or 6. On my day off, I can’t go home and chill out in my house. I’m living with these people that are my surrogate family, for the most part.”

Included in Kapustin’s resumé are an economic-based programming position for the U.S. Political Commerce in Washington, D.C. when she was 20 years old, and the installation of the world’s first LED big-screen in the NFL Ravens stadium later in her career.

As for some of the zanier experiences in Kapustin’s lively and ever-changing career, she recalls one hilarious and terrifying moment when McCartney forgot his place on stage and took a 6-foot tumble onto the back of a piano—only funny, she adds, because he was entirely unhurt.

And for her more difficult, theatrical clients: “Let’s put it this way,” Kapustin says with a smile. “There are some of my clients that I sign a nondisclosure agreement for.”

As for Kapustin’s near and future engagements, she’s gearing up to travel with McCartney again for his upcoming fall tour. Although she loves being home, Kapustin is already excited to be back on the road again.

“You miss little points in people’s lives,” Kapustin says. “I can’t imagine another way of life, but you do have to choose.”

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Keith “Keymaster” Martz

December 25, 2012 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Talent can present itself in many forms. For some, it’s through an aptitude for academics; for others, it’s via intellectual curiosity. But for Keith “Key Master” Martz, it can be found on the 88 keys of a piano. Inspired by every genre from classical to modern jazz, the 29-year-old Omaha native has the gift of music that stems from an enthusiasm and passion for the art itself.

“My music has its own style,” he says. “What sets me apart as a musician is that it doesn’t sound like anyone else’s.”

Mostly self-taught, Martz was encouraged by his mother to take up the piano when he was about 7 years old. He received some formal training until the age of 9, but it was minimal. Later, as a student at Millard South, he joined the high school band where he once again played the piano.

Martz’s approach to the form is unique. He says he’s a slow sight reader, meaning he plays faster than he can read music notes. For this reason, and because of his love of improvisation, Martz doesn’t play sheet music and instead creates new songs each time he sits down to play.

“If I was asked to play music by other people, I couldn’t,” Martz says. “I play from my heart, and I play my own type of music.”20121127_bs_5679 copy

When he’s not pounding out melodies on a keyboard, Martz stays plenty busy working two full-time jobs, during the day at specialty grocery store Trader Joe’s and at night at Lakeside Hospital. Luckily, Lakeside Hospital has a piano in its lobby, and his coworkers often ask him to play for them when he’s not occupied with his duties as a valet.

Christie Abdul, manager of volunteers and business innovations at Lakeside, oversees the valet services where Martz works and has had the opportunity to work with him.

“Keith is someone who is very warm; he greets everyone with a positive attitude,” she says. “I truly believe he cares about every single person he meets. His happiness is kind of like something you want to catch. It’s contagious.”

“What sets me apart as a musician is that [my music] doesn’t sound like anyone else’s.” – Keith Martz

Abdul says that Martz goes out of his way to embody the hospital’s “every patient is my patient” philosophy. Even if a car isn’t using the valet service, she says, he’ll run to the car and open the door.

“He’s genuinely a warm and caring person and just gentle,” she says.

Paul Lukes and Kyle Eustice, regular customers of Trader Joe’s, say they look forward to seeing the kind and chipper employee during their shopping trips. “The first time I came across Keith, it seemed like perhaps he was just having a really, really good day,” says Lukes. “Then I realized, after shopping [there] for so long, that he’s always having a good day. That’s Keith.”

“His positivity is contagious and I would challenge anyone to leave a conversation with him without a smile on their face,” adds Eustice.20121127_bs_5753 copy

As any artist would, Martz gains inspiration from other talent and his list of favorites is quite eclectic. Some of the performers he regularly listens to include Mozart, Coldplay, Hans Zimmer, U2, and internet sensation Ronald Jenkees.

“I only listen to music once a week because my own music satisfies and comforts me most of the time,” he says. “I love listening to music from scores like Bourne Supremacy, Batman Returns, and Inception.”

Martz is planning to record a CD of his music and one day, he’d like to tour. Until then, music lovers can listen and watch him perform on YouTube with the search terms “Keith ‘Key Master’ Martz.”

But the promise of fame or fortune isn’t what pushes Martz to continue his art. Rather, the sheer pleasure of playing is enough for him.

“One time I played, I played until my fingers bled because I was just pouring myself into it,” Martz says. “I get really itchy feet, and I just let it all out at once. I love expressing myself like that in the music that I play.”