Author Archives: Jason Miller

TVD Live Shots: The 69 Eyes at 229, 10/29

In the heart of London on a shadowy Sunday night, the lost boys of metal, Finnish goth rockers The 69 Eyes took the stage. These enigmatic figures stand somewhere between the haunting melodies of Sisters of Mercy and the rebellious spirit of Billy Idol. Their music transcends boundaries, merging gothic rock with glam metal and a dash of classic rock ‘n’ roll—a unique concoction affectionately known as “goth ‘n’ roll.”

At the forefront of this dark spectacle was Jyrki 69, the charismatic Finnish singer who has long been the face and voice of The 69 Eyes. The band’s musical journey has seen them evolve from their glam metal roots to the captivating world of gothic rock, epitomized in their latest creation, Death of Darkness, released earlier this year. Over the years and since their inception in 1992, The 69 Eyes have produced a formidable catalogue of 13 studio albums, each a testament to their musical prowess.

As the lights dimmed, the audience was transported by the opening chords of the classic “Devils,” setting the stage for an enchanting night. The setlist was a carefully curated selection of their extensive discography, featuring four mesmerizing tracks from “Blessed Be” and a dynamic duo from their latest release, Death of Darkness—the eponymous title track and the pulsating “Drive.”

Jyrki 69, in his prime, prowled the stage, casting his spell with an alluring charisma that held the audience captive. The band’s performance was an electrifying spectacle, executed with precision and boundless energy. It was clear that these Finnish vampires had discovered the elixir of eternal youth in their music.

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TVD Live Shots:
Rival Sons at the Roundhouse, 10/13

Hailing originally from Long Beach, California, Rival Sons, with two Grammy nominations to their name, has seemingly discovered a more fervent following in Europe than in their homeland.

Their core lineup features the charismatic Jay Buchanan on lead vocals, the guitar maestro Scott Holiday, the reliable Dave Beste on bass, and the powerhouse drumming of Michael Miley. The band began their career on Earache, known primarily for their epic metal roster, and eventually moved to their current home, the legendary Atlantic Records, a label that housed many of their influences and stands as one of the most important record labels in history.

Touring in support of two new records in 2023, Rival Sons kicked off their UK tour on Friday at the legendary Roundhouse in London. With a career spanning over a decade, Rival Sons have not only carved their own path but have also evolved into something truly extraordinary—a modern-day equivalent of the mighty Led Zeppelin. Forget all the hype around Greta Van Fleet; Rival Sons are in a league of their own and continue to pave the way.

Look, I know everyone’s sick of the Zeppelin comparisons, but f*cking hell, the new album sitting alongside that classic Atlantic Records retro logo immediately took me back to the first time I heard that epic Zeppelin debut. You simply can’t deny the influence nor the ability of Rival Sons to put their own spin on it while continuing to evolve their sound.

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TVD Live Shots:
Princess Goes at the EartH Theatre, 10/8

Princess Goes, the band spearheaded by the multi-talented Michael C. Hall, graced London with their presence at the EartH theatre in Hackney this past Sunday. The night was charged with the electric anticipation of a band returning in support of their freshly released album.

For everyone seeing the band live for the first time, the burning question is does Princess Goes live up to its theatrical title, and can Hall match the buzz of his acclaimed acting career with his musical prowess? The answer is a resounding yes. Hall doesn’t just shine on screen; the man possesses remarkable vocal chops. Their eclectic mix of tracks is hard to pin down, but the set exuded vibes reminiscent of a fusion between a polished Sisters of Mercy and a slightly less flamboyant Scissor Sisters. Picture the richness of synth sounds blending with dark undertones, interspersed with bright, pop-inspired melodies. Notably, Hall’s foray into falsetto was a highlight.

Princess Goes is not your run-of-the-mill ensemble. Their history is as impressive as their sound. Born from the creative camaraderie of working on Broadway’s Hedwig and the Angry Inch, the trio boasts some significant credentials. Hall, of course, stands out with his iconic roles in Dexter and Six Feet Under, and a musical track record including Broadway stints in Chicago and Lazarus.

Peter Yanowitz, the band’s drummer, boasts a remarkable musical resume. As an original member of The Wallflowers and with significant contributions to Morningwood, particularly the standout hit “Nth Degree,” his musical prowess is evident. He also collaborated closely with Natalie Merchant, playing an instrumental role in her brilliant debut Tigerlily. Yanowitz’s influence is clear in tracks like “Let it Go” and “Blur.”

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TVD Live Shots: Hawkwind and The Crazy World of Arthur Brown at Royal Albert Hall, 9/29

While queuing for a beer at the majestic Royal Albert Hall, the guy next to me, impressively nursing his third pint just five minutes after doors opened, struck up a conversation. “How many times have you seen Hawkwind?” he asked. Admitting it was my inaugural voyage, he laughed, “You’re in for a treat! I’ve seen them over a dozen times.” As he regaled me with stories from past concerts, my excitement for the evening ahead intensified.

Royal Albert Hall is more than just a temple of music; it’s a treasure trove of British musical history. Tonight, it morphed into a cathedral of cosmic sound, dedicated to the pioneers of space rock, Hawkwind. From the BBC Proms to iconic performances by the likes of The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, and Eric Clapton, this venue has seen it all. As I strolled its corridors, the walls boasted photographs capturing these legendary moments, a silent testament to its storied past. Among these greats, there I was, clutching my camera. Intimidating? Certainly. But, camera in hand, I dove in, eager to capture a slice of tonight’s interstellar magic.

Dave Brock, the heart and soul of Hawkwind, stood firmly in his element, wielding his guitar and belting out vocals that echoed through the grandeur of the venue. He may have skipped the keyboards this time around, but that void was more than filled by the inclusion of William Orbit, who painted massive aural soundscapes, blending seamlessly with the band’s trademark sounds.

Alongside Brock, Richard Chadwick’s thunderous drumming reverberated with a powerful pulse. Magnus Martin showered celestial melodies from his guitar, while Doug MacKinnon’s bass, like an anchor, ensured we stayed connected to the band’s cosmic rhythm. Yet, amidst these stellar performances, it was Thighpaulsandra who became the sorcerer of the night. His mesmerizing play on the keyboards and synthesizers felt like magic dust sprinkled across the universe, enveloping us in layers of sonic wonder.

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TVD Live Shots: Marc Bolan 45th Anniversary Concert at Shepherd’s Bush Empire, 9/15

Marc Bolan was not just a musician, he was a phenomenon. In the electric haze of the ’70s, he emerged as the glittering comet of glam rock, leaving a trail of stardust in his wake. Bolan’s artistry was an intoxicating cocktail of rock ‘n’ roll tenacity and dreamy, otherworldly charm. Every guitar riff, every sultry lyric, felt like an invitation to a universe where fantasy and reality beautifully intertwined.

The groundbreaking album Electric Warrior by T. Rex wasn’t just my introduction to their unique sound, it was also the first album I ever purchased with my own money at the tender age of 10. I can still vividly recall the day “Bang a Gong (Get it on)” resonated from my local rock radio in St. Louis, Missouri. Its alluring call drew me irresistibly into Bolan’s mesmerizing world. And while the cassette tape has since worn, its label faded from non-stop play, the thrill of that initial discovery and pride of ownership endures.

Bolan’s untimely departure from this world left a void, but his melodies, his spirit, and his influence have proven indelible. Although I never had the privilege of seeing Bolan perform live, there was no way I would miss the 45th-anniversary concert commemorating his legacy. Held at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire in London last week, the event boasted a stellar lineup: T. Rextasy, The Dirty Pretty Strings directed by Tony Visconti, Neal X, Dana Gillespie, Richard Barone, Andy Ellison, Boz Boorer, and the ever-dynamic Marc Almond.

The evening unfolded masterfully. Marc Almond took the helm as the evening’s magnetic MC, introducing T. Rex’s legendary producer Tony Visconti and the Dirty Pretty Strings, who added a depth of orchestral resonance to the performances. T.Rextasy, hailed as the ultimate tribute to Bolan, not only opened the show but seamlessly wove their presence throughout the evening as the house band. Under the dynamic leadership of Danielz, they resurrected Bolan’s mystique with electrifying finesse. Their renditions of classics such as “Jeepster” and “I Love to Boogie” stood as a testament to their unparalleled homage to the music legend.

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TVD Live Shots: Bloodstock Open Air at Catton Park, 8/11–8/14

From growling vocals to shredding solos, Bloodstock 2023 proved to be an unmissable event for metal enthusiasts. With thousands flocking to the arena, the festival was a testament to the undying spirit of metal. Here’s a breakdown of the performances that left the crowd headbanging for more.


Megadeth | A standout amongst an ensemble of legends, Megadeth stormed the stage with undeniable fury. Their set was a vivid reminder of why they occupy the coveted position in metal’s big four. With a sound uniquely theirs and an approach to music that few can emulate, they proved their mettle, quite literally. Seeing them revel in the joy of performing was a cherry on top. A metal masterclass, indeed!

Meshuggah (at top) | Meshuggah’s headline set on Saturday night was a mind-blowing display of technical skill and musical intensity. The band’s complex, polyrhythmic compositions and heavy, percussive sound left fans stunned.

Skynd | This electronic-industrial duo took everyone by surprise. Known for exploring dark themes and true crime events in their music, Skynd weaved haunting narratives, often based on real-life criminal events.

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TVD Radar: Bloodstock Open Air 2023: A Heavy Metal Utopia Awaits You!

As the summer heat rages on, the metal community is gearing up for the most anticipated festival of the year, Bloodstock Open Air 2023. Nestled in the heart of Derbyshire, in the picturesque setting of Walton on Trent, Bloodstock once again promises a celebration of all things heavy and metallic.

As the UK’s largest independent metal festival, Bloodstock has carved a niche for itself in the hearts of metal aficionados for presenting a consistently robust lineup of metal royalty. This year, the festival’s roster is set to explode with names like Megadeth, Killswitch Engage, and In Flames gracing the stage as headliners. Expect sparks to fly and the ground to shake as these titans of metal weave their magic.

Heavy rock enthusiasts can look forward to the onslaught of brutality brought on by Sepultura, Meshuggah, and Whitechapel. On the other hand, the Sophie Lancaster Stage will reverberate with the pulsating performances from Abbath, Crowbar, and Employed to Serve.

A treasure trove of talent awaits you at the New Blood Stage, where emerging bands like Casket Feeder, Skin Failure, and Dakesis will test their mettle. Devotees of death metal can mosh to their heart’s content at the Jagermeister Stage, featuring Fit for an Autopsy, Biohazard, and King 810.

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TVD Live Shots: Generation Sex at
the O2 Apollo Manchester, 7/12

When two seminal bands converge on one stage, it creates a moment etched into rock lore, a bucket-list-worthy event for any self-respecting punk music enthusiast. Enter Generation Sex—a potent blend of punk rock titans, uniting the snarling vocal prowess of Billy Idol, the impeccable rhythm of Paul Cook, the blistering guitar licks of Steve Jones, and the ultra-cool bass grooves of Tony James.

I had the opportunity to catch them live at the Dog Day Afternoon show in London, a daytime festival gig they shared with the likes of Iggy Pop and Blondie. Yet, I consciously decided against it. Outdoor day gigs, with their potential for compromised sound quality, flat photography, and the sheer incongruity of enjoying legendary punk under a blazing sun, are far from my ideal concert experience.

Hence, I decided to place my bet on a different event entirely. After reading several polarizing reviews about Generation Sex’s festival performances, I was convinced that they deserved to be seen in a proper theatre setting which could offer the intensity that their music demanded. This led me to the Manchester Apollo, where they were slated to perform on the final night of their UK tour. It was a bit of a gamble, but it paid off grandly.

On stage, Generation Sex was a force to be reckoned with. They looked and sounded superb, and their chemistry was palpable, indicating that they were more than just a makeshift supergroup. They synergized, fed off each other’s energy, and absolutely fucking smashed it.

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TVD Live Shots: Rival Schools at the Electric Ballroom, 7/8

Walter Schreifels is a post-hardcore renaissance man whose talents I first encountered in 1993 while working at a record store. We received an advance copy of Slip by Quicksand, a band I’d never heard of before. But back then, we would give anything a spin. The lead single was “Fazer,” an intriguing track that stood out amidst a transformative period in music—sitting in the timeline between the debut albums from Rage Against the Machine and Korn.

Despite their sound often drawing comparisons to contemporaries like Helmet and Fugazi, Quicksand, in my view, surpassed these parallels through their exceptional songwriting. Their music was not just accessible; it was undeniably captivating. Every track on Slip was a post-hardcore gem, mirroring the consistency and depth found on Def Leppard’s Hysteria, but within a post-hardcore metal context.

Slip was, in many ways, the Hysteria of its genre—not in terms of mainstream hits, but as a near-perfect record for its time and niche. When Quicksand released their second album, it presented an elevated level of polish and production. However, despite its artistic merit, it didn’t garner the commercial success one might have hoped for. Quite frankly, I think they got fucked by a label that didn’t know what to do with them.

Leap forward to 2001, and Schreifels made a triumphant return with another project, Rival Schools. The band burst onto the scene with the instant classic “United by Fate.” Had Schreifels finally found his breakthrough? Could this fusion of his unmistakable voice with a fresh stylistic approach finally resonate with the masses? It appeared so.

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TVD Live Shots: KISS at the O2 Arena, 7/5

Alright folks, dust off your vinyl, reapply that face paint, and fasten your platform boots, because we’re about to dive into the star-spangled, adrenaline-pumping, rollercoaster of a farewell to the Gods of Thunder, the hottest band in the world, KISS! They closed the curtains (or should I say, detonated the pyrotechnics) on their bombastic career at the legendary O2 Arena in London, leaving fans both ecstatic and teary-eyed. Now, KISS has been known to cry wolf on these farewells, having more farewell tours than a magician has rabbits, but something in the air was telling us that this time, it felt like the real deal.

So, as the echoes of the final chords die down, let’s shatter the most overused word lurking in the shadows of KISS’s career: “gimmicky.” Time to toss that one out like an old guitar pick. Instead, let’s hail KISS as the “Czars of Theatrical Rock.” Since the ’70s, they haven’t just been playing songs, they’ve been conjuring tsunamis of sound and spectacle! These guys knew that a rock concert should leave you breathless and awestruck, not just tapping your foot politely. They aren’t merely musicians—they’re rock ‘n’ roll warriors, clad in armor and leather and face paint with guitars as their swords.

As for the critics, ah, the sophisticated eardrums that couldn’t quite appreciate the glorious cacophony of KISS. They’re probably still scratching their heads over how KISS, with their outrageous antics, sold over 100 million albums worldwide. Fun fact: KISS was so massive they even had their own comic book series published by Marvel! And here’s the icing: they mixed their own blood with the red ink for the first comic. Talk about leaving a piece of yourself in your work!

Let’s hit the gas and zoom straight to the O2. Stepping inside was like being hurled through a glittery wormhole back to the glory days of glam rock. And who’s there to greet us? Paul Stanley, the Starchild himself, blasting melodies as if his vocal cords were forged in the fires of rock ‘n’ roll Olympus. And get this—when not shredding stages, the guy moonlights as a seriously skilled painter. Can you fathom it? Starchild, on stage, brandishing a paintbrush in a blaze of color, while his voice sends shockwaves through the crowd with “Love Gun.” We’d all be there, jaws on the floor, and still think, “Yeah, that’s classic KISS.”

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TVD Live Shots: Death Grips at the O2 Kentish Town Forum, 6/26

Holy hell. I’ve seen some insane shows in my life, but this one shot straight to the top of the “I may be in danger” list.

Death Grips, a band notorious for its rapid rise to fame and its guerrilla tactics in music release and promotion, brought their cacophony of sound to London’s O2 Forum Kentish Town. The energy in the room was akin to Thor swinging Mjölnir at a drum set during an electrical storm. The fact that London is in a heatwave didn’t help matters as I literally got smacked in the face by a wall of heat and humidity that would make a Turkish bathhouse feel like the Arctic tundra in comparison. With an atmosphere that promised to be as subtle as a sledgehammer to a piñata, the crowd braced themselves for a night of sonic annihilation and unrestrained mayhem.

This Sacramento-based experimental hip-hop group has been a juggernaut in the underground music scene since the early 2010s. Their ascent was marked by a potent combination of an enigmatic online presence, surprise album releases, and the occasional flouting of industry norms, including a public feud with their former label, Epic Records. When the band released No Love Deep Web under Epic, they famously leaked the album online and used an explicit image as the cover, which led to a very public and messy parting with the label.

Their setlist was a testament to the raw energy that made them famous. The show started with an uncompromising fervor as the opening numbers “System Blower” and “I’ve Seen Footage” had the crowd in a frenzy from the get-go. MC Ride’s commanding presence was backed by Zach Hill’s feverish drumming and Andy Morin’s haunting synth sounds, making for an explosive opening.

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TVD Live Shots:
Incubus at the
Eventim Apollo, 6/23

As the lights dimmed and the crowd’s chatter turned into an escalating roar, there was a sense that something epic was about to go down at London’s Eventim Apollo. Enter Incubus, the band that served as the soundtrack to countless teenage rebellions and road trips. Not quite the titans of rock, but definitely the charming rebels who know how to turn chords into catharsis.

Before diving into the concert itself, let’s rewind back to 2001 when I was working at Sony Music on the marketing team. During a meeting in New York City where the labels presented their Q4 releases, something peculiar happened. The label rep introduced Incubus’s new album Morning View as one that would define their career. “We have something very special from a very special band,” he declared.

And it wasn’t just the hype talking. Morning View was unique—it was a sonic departure from the angst-ridden nu-metal of the time. It was as if Incubus took a deep breath, looked at the ocean, and decided to make music that was introspective, melodic, and expansive. The meeting room back then was a pressure cooker of anticipation, and you could practically feel the future beckoning. Now, as I stood in the Apollo over two decades later, I couldn’t help but wonder if Morning View would still resonate with the same force?

Brandon Boyd, the age-defying frontman, took the stage clad in clothes that looked like they were stolen from a bohemian thrift shop. His voice still had that signature, “I just rolled out of bed and somehow sound amazing” quality. Mike Einziger on the guitar was vibing as though he was solving a complex mathematical equation through riffs. The drums, manned by José Pasillas, felt like the heartbeat of the crowd. Chris Kilmore on turntables looked like a mad scientist concocting a potion of effortless record scratches and keys. And then there’s Nicole Row, the new bassist, who played like she’s been in the band since the days when flared jeans were a thing even though she’s the newbie.

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TVD Live Shots: The Black Keys and Spoon
at the O2 Arena, 6/21

Alright, alright, alright folks, let’s dial back the grandeur and get down to the nitty-gritty of good ol’ rock ‘n’ roll. The Black Keys and Spoon turned up at London’s O2 Arena, and they brought the house down. I’m here to tell you it was a no-frills, straight-up, ear-blistering night of indie rock genius and bluesy grooves that lifted you higher than the contact buzz you got from being on the arena floor.

Let’s kick off with The Black Keys. Their gritty, blues-infused garage rock is like your favourite whiskey—rough and smooth in equal measures. Auerbach’s vocals, man—that guy’s got some soul, along with a bit of the ghost of Muddy Waters in him. And Carney? He lays down a fat groove with a little extra space in between the notes making it just loose enough while keeping the wheels from flying off the musical El Camino. Even though the Keys are at the height of their musical superpowers, let’s not kid ourselves; this is no overnight success story. It is, instead, one of the increasingly rare instances where a band goes from indie buzz band to bonafide shoo-in for the rock ‘n’ roll history books. 

In the steel-beating heart of Akron, Ohio, in 2001, a couple of kindred spirits named Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney stumbled into musical alchemy. Picture it: a basement, the smell of old vinyl in the air, and the electrifying embrace of blues and rock. Carney’s got the recording gear, Auerbach’s got the licks and the pipes, and the gods of rock are smiling down on them. The chemistry is so thick you could cut it with a guitar string. Enter The Black Keys—baptized with a name inspired by a buddy’s lingo for the delightfully unhinged.

These guys start their saga with a roll-up-your-sleeves, grit-under-your-fingernails approach. They conjured The Big Come Up, their debut record, and when it hit the streets in 2002, it had critics and fans alike falling head over heels. From there, the duo began touring voraciously and went on to achieve remarkable success, including multiple Grammy awards, as they steadily evolved their sound while staying true to their blues roots.

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TVD Live Shots:
The Hives at the
Garage, 6/13

Picture this: a high-octane garage band takes a wrong turn and ends up headlining a black-tie gala. That’s The Hives for you—strutting through the UK in their impeccable tuxedos, armed with the raw grit of garage rock that’s been polished till it shines. The Hives have been wrenching the bolts of garage rock for 20 solid years. But amid their UK stadium crusade alongside Arctic Monkeys, they did something special—an intimate, full-throttle gig celebrating the 30th anniversary of The Garage in north London. 

Imagine a turbocharged engine roaring in a cosy living room, with the audience so close they could touch the tuxedo threads and practically get baptized by the band’s sweat—that was Tuesday night. This was The Hives paying homage to their roots while playing with the big league. They are the garage rock wizards who never forget the spell that started it all.

Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist, The Hives’ magnetic frontman, storms the stage like a ’60s muscle car that just kicked in the nitrous amidst a fleet of elegant Euro classics. With Mick Jagger’s swagger loaded into a cannon and fired through blazing hoops, his theatrics are legendary. Commanding the band like a maestro gone rogue with a mic stand for a baton, it begs the question—is there a band that works harder than The Hives right now?

They stormed the stage, unloading an arsenal of hits right from the get-go. Opening with the sizzling “Bogus Operandi” from their forthcoming album, they wasted no time segueing into timeless favorites “Main Offender” and “Walk Idiot Walk.” The hits kept flying until, drenched in sweat, I wondered what knockout punches they had left. They answered with a thunderclap encore of “Tick Tick Boom” and “Come On.” How could I forget those juggernauts? Guess my sweat-soaked stupor cost me a memory stone.

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TVD Live Shots:
The Lemon Twigs at the Electric Ballroom, 6/1

In the buzz-filled Electric Ballroom of North London last week, the woman next to me exclaimed, “Aren’t these guys fantastic? They’re like, 17!” She was spot on with her enthusiasm, if not with their ages. The Lemon Twigs, composed of brothers Brian and Michael D’Addario, may no longer be in their teens, but their youthful energy and electrifying talent are captivating the rock scene.

Watching the Twigs perform was like witnessing the revival of classic rock stardom. Their performance sparked reminders of the look of Steve Perry and Journey at the peak of their powers, the harmonies of Badfinger, and the songwriting genius of Big Star, and yet it still felt like watching something new and fresh. The D’Addario brothers, hailing from Long Island, New York, demonstrated an uncanny ability to channel the exuberance of classic rock, infusing their music with rich harmonies that would make bands like Jellyfish beam with pride. The duo’s knack for multiple instruments, coupled with their ambitious songwriting, has made them a stand-out act that’s breathing life into a forgotten genre.

While their recorded music is a blend of 7’0s rock and pop-baroque influences, their live performance takes it up a notch. I walked into the Electric Ballroom expecting a mellow, ’70s-style rock band. Instead, I was met with an explosive, high-energy spectacle that left me unsure of where to look. The music was a rollercoaster ride, heavy at times and reminiscent of Zeppelin, married beautifully alongside the jangly pop of 10cc, all while still maintaining a unique twist. It was clear the Twigs draw inspiration from a variety of sources, channelling them into a sound that’s distinctly their own. I know this sounds cliched, but give them a listen and you’ll hear exactly what I mean.

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