“You’re pretentious, this club sucks, I have beef, let’s do it.”

It’s time for a “come to Jesus” talk…

Do you know what I love about a good show?  Getting lost in it.  A good concert can be a respite from a hectic work week and daily stresses.  A great show seems to solve all your problems for you!  Having boyfriend drama, lonely, unsure about your place in this ever expanding universe, feeling overwhelmed at work?  Get thee to a concert!!

We Are Scientists/Paws came through town last week and I had been really excited about the show in the weeks leading up to it, but when the day came I found myself trying to talk myself out of it.  I was tired, I had to be at work early the next day, whatever.  (An inner monologue I find my 30-year old self having a lot these days).  Fortunately cooler heads prevailed and I quickly found myself forgetting why I had whined about going out in the first place.

I had been hearing a lot of good things about opener Paws for a while.  A low-fi, melodic, garage punk band from Scotland and these 3 gents did NOT disappoint.

Paws was exactly what I needed to pull myself out of the mid week-funk I had fallen into.  All youth and chaos, kinetic energy and frantic guitars.  How do you stand still and check facebook with the likes of these kids careening around the stage urging you to FEEL something?!! But as I looked around all I saw was the soft glow of cell phone screens illuminating the uninterested faces of this under attended show.  The band is relegated to asking the crowd to move closer/to move at all/to show some signs of life!  I feel bad for the guys, they are working so hard for the thankless Dallas crowd, and this is where my beef begins.

It’s been said (many times, many ways) we are all too addicted to screens, we no longer understand empathy or remember how to interact with other humans.  We are all too worried that we are missing out on something, worried that if we don’t check in to wherever we are people won’t know how fun and exciting our lives are.

So here goes… Dear America, set down your cell phones, turn off your worries and cares and lay your problems down at the feet of the music. (Don’t worry, you can have them back at the end of the show).  Don’t think about trying to look cool or impress strangers.  Don’t worry about your dancing being less than impressive.  Don’t think about how you’d better “like” those pictures of your friend’s baby before she gets mad at you.

Lay it down.  Let go.  Have some fun.

Going to shows used to be a community event, hanging out in a room with a bunch of people who share at least one common interest.  Now-a-days even the fans of the bands are critics, looking for any misstep to harp on and debate about after the show.  Whatever happened to being fans, to liking something just for the sheer joy it brought you?

Can we all make a pact?  Can we all promise to at lest try? Try to be present, try to look for the good, try to dust off the negative and accentuate the positive, try to be fans first instead of critics?  Life is hard and there’s barely any rest from your problems.  Let the music take care of that for you!

 

…This show ended up being so fun that we followed the bands to Austin the next night.  In the wake of these two shows I’ve taken upon a little personal quest.  There’s so many things we can find wrong with the world and our situations, let’s try our darndest to find what’s right.  Seek out moments of happiness and don’t let them go.  So I’m working on finding ways of not letting the monotony of everyday life pull me down, ways to let the music take over and have sone fun!

 

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music for life

I feel like I’ve had this conversation a few times lately.  I’m just bored.  I’ve been listening to the same couple of albums for months now.  I’ve felt like I’ve been waiting for something new/something different to get me excited about music again… I think I’ve been mistaken

You don’t always need ground breaking, you don’t always need unprecedented… What I needed was simple songs steeped in history.  What I needed was a moment of quiet joy… What I needed was Josh Ritter.

A couple of weeks back I headed down to Austin for my first show of the new year, Josh Ritter and Gregory Alan Isakov.  I’d seen Ritter twice before and he’s always incredible but I wasn’t prepared for the way I felt during that show.  Gregory Alan Isakov opened the show and after wanting to see him live for years, he did not disappoint.  He closed his set with the unreleased song Liars and it nearly had me in tears, its such an affecting and stirring song.  With only himself, a cellist and a violinist on stage he filled the Moody theater with sound and emotion and at that the audience fell silent, quite the fete.

Next up was Josh Ritter, I don’t know how he does it but every time you see him he makes his songs sound new.  His background in folklore (studying American History through narrative folk music at Oberlin College before moving to Scotland to study at the school of Scottish folk stories) make him quite the prolific story-teller.  Whether its a story about a mummy coming back to life and falling in love with the archeologist who freed him from his tomb, or the story of an explorer and his ship (the Annabel Lee) as they set off in search of another new world, each story is weaved with glistening prose and witty wordplay.

Now these songs and stories are wonderful but what really makes Ritter stand out in a sea of singer song writers is his live show.  I’m not sure how he does it but Ritter infuses so much joy into each and every set and it never feels forced or disingenuous.  His music and show to me is like a deep breath, it’s like the best night’s sleep you’ve ever had.  It’s restorative, it’s peaceful, it’s invigorating, it’s a refuge.  As I sat through the show I was reminded why I love music so much and I realized how glad I was to be alive in a world where Ritter (and countless others) write these songs.

This got me thinking (and mixtaping) so I compiled a list of songs that make me glad to be alive.  These songs have quelled the boredom I felt in music.  These songs remind me of the power of music and why my life is made infinitely more joyful through it.

((for the record, this playlist was made in an afternoon and using only songs I could find on spotify, so there are some huge omissions, but this is what I have for now))

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Listomania

These are my obsessions…

robsheffRob Sheffield is one of the few people who I can confidently say loves music more than I do.  (I wasn’t even aware that was possible).  Turn Around Bright Eyes is the third semi-autobiographical book from Rolling Stone writer Sheffield.  I fell in love with Sheffield and his writing after reading his first book “Love is a Mixtape” (and rereading it and rereading it.  It might be the most underlined book I own).  Rob has a way of telling stories of loss, love, and family through the music he listens to whether it’s through the mixtapes he and his wife made each other or through the karaoke songs he loves.  I honestly can’t wait to read this book again (and write a longer blog post about his books because you seriously need to read all of them).

insidelllllInside Llewyn Davis is one of my favorite movies of 2013 and includes such an incredible soundtrack and cast.  The Cohen brothers created a world that seems to have stepped right out of a Bob Dylan album cover.  The story is beautiful and sad, the cast is incredible (even you Justin Timberlake) and the music… the music MAKES this movie.  T.Bone Burnett has done it again and created a perfect album of old folk standards that sound familiar even if you’ve never heard them.  Fare Thee Well (Dink’s Song) is a standout and has lived in my headphones and has been harmonized along with for weeks now.   Also… that cat… oh the cat storyline killed me.  Go see this movie!

sherlock

SHERLOCK: We have waited for TWO YEARS for answers.  Last season ended with Sherlock jumping to his death, we know he faked it but how??  The internet has been flooded with theories (and super weird fanfiction) and now the wait is over… and we still don’t know!!  The first two episodes of season 3 have been perfect and unusually funny (I don’t know the last time I laughed out loud that hard at a t.v. show).  I won’t spoil anything for you but just know that this season has been the best by far!! Sherlock airs in the US starting January 19th on PBS, or for the internet savvy whenever you want!  The final episode “His Last Vow” airs in the UK this Sunday 1/12 and gauging by the way this season has unfolded it will rip our hearts out… Stephen Moffat isn’t happy unless someone you love is dying.

letters

This past year I decided to start sending letters.  I have loved picking out stationery (this doctor who themed set above is on my wish list… look at it!!!) and finding interesting stamps (Johnny Cash and Harry Potter being among my faves).  Mostly, I’ve enjoyed corresponding with my friends in a different way! Shout out to Kelley who CONSTANTLY schools me with her drawings, homemade stickers and confetti that she adds to her cards. She wins hands down!  I recently started corresponding with my cousin’s 6 yr old twins and seriously look forward to getting their cards in the mail.

Arctic Monkeys: AM   This might be my most played song of 2013, this whole album is great!  The Arctic Monkeys have been around for a while but their latest album has quickly become my favorite.  They’ve grown up and embraced a darker grittier sound and we are all the better for it.

What books/movies/songs have you found yourself going back to again and again this past year?  Anything I should be reading/listening to?  Let me know 🙂

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let’s begin again

2014…  “This will be our year, took a long time to come”

I think I lost direction, I think I got bored, I think I got busy, I think I lost inspiration.  That being said, let’s begin again.  Let’s usher this new year in with open arms and open hearts.  Let’s prepare ourselves for all the new and exciting opportunities that await us.  Let’s be diligent with our time and talents.  Let’s be aware of the beauty and inspiration around us.  Let’s be grateful for this incredible life.  Let’s focus on the good.  Let’s look for new interesting ways to express ourselves.  Let’s collaborate.   Let’s get lost in the music.

I’m excited to see where 2014 takes us.  I’ve already booked my first 2 shows of the year, Josh Ritter (he makes everything better guys) and Neko Case (a dream, she is my spirit animal).  So let’s get this thing started!

I’ve compiled a mix of songs I loved this year.  Some are new, some aren’t, some carried over from 2012, some I reconnected with.  Hopefully you’ll find something that resonates with you, find a song that wakes you up and gets you excited again.  To quote Josh Ritter, “Don’t let me into this year with an empty heart.”  Happy New Year

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In the summertime (you’ll be gone)

Living in Texas has it’s advantages but the weather is not one of them… We barely get a spring, 2 weeks of flowers blooming on the trees and then it’s straight into summer.  So I’ve made a mixtape to celebrate the one nice thing about a Texas summer… summer nights.  The sun doesn’t go down until almost 9 and when the sun sets over the expansive Texas sky it makes you (almost) forget about the 3 months of hundred degree weather.  So here’s to catching fireflies, to sing-a-longs on porches, to long night drives down some old country road.  To a never ending summer…

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Concert Review/ Sucre @ club dada 4/24


Weeknight shows can be pretty hit or miss as far as audience attendance and enthusiasm, but Tuesday night was the exception.  Dallas has just hit that sweet spot weather wise, right before the sweltering summer, where you can actually enjoy being outside.  The beautiful night, the great line up at Club DaDa, and the late start time were the perfect formula for getting people to come out and enjoy some local music.

Local darlings Air Review opened the night to an already sizable crowd.  Next up were Houston’s The Tontons. A bluesy, self-described “indie psychedelic rock” band, fronted by Asli Omar who danced and posed her way through their energetic set.  Is it just me or have the opening acts around town been getting better and better?

Topping off the night was Sucre, side project of Dallas’ own Eisley singer/keyboardist/sister Stacy King.  Eisley have been a staple of the Dallas scene since they were barely teens and have long been adored for their fairytale like storytelling and their unbelievable sisterly harmonies.  But tonight was youngest sister  Stacy’s turn to take the stage on her own.  Backed by husband/drummer, Mutemath’s Darren King, keyboardist/guitarist Jeremy Larson and two french horns, Sucre laid a rich tapestry of music that kept the audience captivated throughout the set. The band was in town for the release of their first album A Minor Bird, which was recorded over a year and a half in keyboardist Jeremy Larson’s studio in Springfield, Missouri.  Tuesday night marked the first time the band had played in Dallas and Stacy and husband Darren were delighted to find how well they were received, even stating after the show, that seeing the crowd singing along with all the words was nuts.  Sucre really  envelopes an audience in their dynamic range, taking the listener on a ride from the soft and quiet intimate moments to the larger more anthemic tones, and doing so with ease.  Stacy’s voice is so lush and textured, able to navigate nimbly through the band’s dynamic without ever becoming precious or infantile as is the trend these days with many female singers.

Through the course of the evening Sucre played A Minor Bird in its entirety, starting with opening track Hiding Out.  A highlight of the evening was Endless Sleep, a haunting piano ballad at which the audience fell silent, allowing Stacy’s voice to really shine.  The sing-a-long really kicked in during the band’s current single “When we were young” a glistening ode to nostalgia.  As the song’s video suggests, A Minor Bird seems best set to the background of vintage home videos of a time gone by.  Stacy and company capped off the night with Say Something, a break up song set against an infectious chorus of oh, oh, oh’s.  With only eleven songs in their repertoire the band opted out of an encore only leaving the crowd anticipating Sucre’s next Dallas show.

Over all the night was a shining example of Dallas music at it’s best and a celebration of how far one of its own has come.

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Listomania

I am a first child and thus fall into the category of people pleaser and list maker.  Although, that being said, I am not a list maker in a classical sense.  I think I’ve made one to do list in my life (and never finished it).  Maybe I’d be more productive if I made these kinds of lists… but my brain was made for more colorful things.

My lists are generally more like

Top 5 songs about heartbreak

Top 10 doo wop albums

All time favorite children’s movies

Favorite songs to listen to on sunny days

Favorite movies to watch during a storm

and so on…

I’m not sure why I always need to have lists like these on file in my brain, but maybe in case someone comes asking me to rate every Beatles song from best to worst I’ll be prepared.

So today’s list: Things that I am currently obsessed with

  • DRY THE RIVER:  Last week I won tickets to see Bowerbirds at the loft (from Indieverse, seriously follow them on twitter it’s ridiculous the number of shows I’ve seen for free because of those lovely people).  I figured I’d catch the free head and the heart show downstairs and then run upstairs afterwards to catch Bowerbirds but I got there a little early and caught the end of Dry the river’s set.  THANK GOD FOR THAT because it was rapturous!  Their sound is so full of harmonies and rich instrumentation that it felt like there were 30 people on the stage, all of them singing/shouting at the top of their lungs.  I looked them up on spotify after the show and listened to their ep for days!  Their full length album Shallow Bed came out today and it is beautiful.  Seriously talented guys who have taken their background in hardcore and mixed it with folk and classical and turned it into a huge anthemic sound!  In fact I’m listening to them as I’m writing this (at starbucks) and I can’t sit still, I just realized I was head banging and tapping my feet pretty hard… oh what I must look like to those around me… If at all possible see these guys live, the energy of this band is not to be missed!  Dry the River “weights and measures” 
  • NEVERMIND THE BUZZCOCKS:  A British pub quiz show featuring team captains Phill Jupitus and Noel Fielding with celebrity teammates (most of whom I’d never heard of because they are British pop stars).  For some reason I can watch this show for hours (again, not the best use of my time, I know).  I like how the Brits are all game for being made fun of and don’t take themselves too seriously.  One of my favorite episodes is hosted by Mark Ronson and features comedian Paul Foot. Nevermind the Buzzcocks
  • “JUST KIDS” BY PATTI SMITH:  I had heard about this book for a while, it seemed like anytime I saw a “currently reading” column in a magazine someone I admired was reading this book.  While on a trip to Austin, Kelley and I stopped by Book People (my favorite book store in Austin, seriously great selection and great vibe) and I decided to finally pick this up after reading a staff recommendation for it.  The recommendation stated that this book was to people in their late 20’s/early 30’s what On the Road was to those in their late teens.  Well I am in my late 20’s and I ADORED On the Road in my late teens so I thought “Why not?!”  So far this book is amazing, absolutely beautifully written and haunting.  Just Kids chronicles the relationship between Patti Smith and Robert Mappelthorpe, their childhoods and upbringing and their foray into the world of art, music, and poetry as they made names for themselves and turned the world on its head.
  • THE GLASSES JOHN LENNON WORE WHEN HE WAS SHOT: I recently saw this photo and it broke my danged heart!  This photo, alongside the bloody bag of clothing that was returned to Yoko after his medical examination were included in an exhibit of Lennon’s New York years.  This exhibit was wrought with controversy (I mean really? his bloody clothing?!) but Yoko Ono insisted she included the items to help start a discussion about gun violence.

  • LOOPER:  I will see anything Rian Johnson makes… anything… seriously.  Rian is the writer of Brick and The Brother’s bloom, two of my favorite movies.  He has a way of taking a genre and doing something so completely out of the ordinary with it.  In the case of Brick it was taking a film noir and setting it in High School.  The man, alongside his talented siblings Nathan (scores/music) and Zachary (artwork) creates these incredible worlds that are beautiful and fully realized.  I have been reading about Looper and following its progress through Johnson’s twitter and tumblr and was super excited to finally see the trailer on the big screen!  I can’t wait to see this film! Looper Trailer

So these are just a few of the things I am obsessed with… alongside BBC’s Sherlock (watching it AGAIN from the beginning) and Of Monsters and Men’s “My Head is an Animal.”

What are YOU currently obsessed with?!

-Nicole

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Sound of My Voice

I had intended for this to be my SXSW/Andrew Bird post, and I guess in a way it will be, but all that music got my wheels to turning…

Andrew Bird was magnificent.  He was everything I had hoped for, and that encore (3 part harmony on some old hymns made me teary eyed in the best possible way).  Andrew is a classically trained violinist and has said in interviews that he was a classical music kid, he never really got pop music, citing the beatles White Album as the closest he got to pop as a kid.  His classical education really shines in his live shows.  Bird’s use of layering and looping should build up into a cacophony of sound but somehow it all works, each piece fitting like a harmonic puzzle, giving way to a huge rapturous sound that doesn’t seem like it could come from the mere 4 people on stage.  I also realized how much Andrew’s voice likens to his instrument.  The attack and decay of his voice mimicking the violin, the slight vibrato, the quick words matching his nimble plucking.  Did one inform the other or is this a conscious effort?  Either way it was beautiful and intricate, a ridiculous tapestry of music being woven right in front of us.  How could you ask for more?

SXSW is always a bit of a gamble, especially when you’ll only be there for a day.  You scour the lineup and try to plan the best possible day of music and hope and pray that you’ll get in and that you won’t be missing something even better down the road.  Kelley and I didn’t actually make up our mind on who to see until the day of (actually we were still questioning ourselves about 20 minutes before we needed to be there).  We finally decided to go to Antone’s to see Glen Hansard (of the Swell Season and the Frames) and Lost in the Trees (whose new album I am listening to as I write this and it is insanely beautiful!).  Both of whom are on my list of shows for the year!  There were 6 bands in total playing the showcase and each of them was actually pretty good (with the exception of Cold Specks who were better than pretty good.  They were awe-inspiring and so unique.).  I’d been keeping track of the sxsw happenings and everyone had raved about the shows Glen had done so far so our anticipation was building for this show and he did NOT disappoint.  Glen is not classically trained.  Glen busked on the streets of Ireland and hardly became famous overnight (though it may appear so).  The set started with Leave from the once soundtrack and then Low Rising (my favorite from the swell season album).  Clarence Clemons’ nephew Jake came out to lend his saxophone skills to Low Rising and pretty much every song that followed.  The crowd ate it up and Glen continued to dish it out and not hold back.  There’s something in his style that is so guttural, he is not reserved, the music is like an animal burrowing inside of him and he’s working it back out.  After the first two songs Hansard only did covers the first of which was Bruce Springsteen’s Drive All Night which turned into a massive sing-a-long leading Hansard to say he didn’t ever want to stop (I took a video of the song lasting 5 minutes and put it down because I wanted to really wanted to experience it and it probably had another 5 minutes to go).  He then went on to another cover saying “I know I’m supposed to be here promoting myself and stuff but I just can’t.” He played a tune that he used to play when he busked that he likes to play to remind himself of how far he’s come.  He ended the night with an old Irish funeral song that he dedicated to his dad.  Hansard’s Irish brogue shining through this simple a capella song that ended up as another massive sing-a-long.

Both these artists had me teary eyed and took my breath away despite their huge differences.  It got me thinking, about individuality, about how important it is to stay true to yourself and your voice.  If Glen had tried to be more like Andrew, reserved and classical, he wouldn’t have the same impact, and if Andrew had tried to be more guttural and instinctive like Glen it would be inauthentic.

I’ve always been good at mimicking, impressions and accents come easy.  But finding your own voice can be more difficult.  I remember in my voice lessons my teacher saying “No, Nikki Nicole, sing it in your voice.”  (I hated that nickname) But she didn’t want me pretending to be Adele or Lissie or whoever we were singing that week, she wanted me to be me.  She would ask me “What does Nicole sound like?”  I found that to be a much more difficult lesson to learn, especially in a world of copy cats, look a-likes, and sound a-likes.  It’s hard to step out and find your own voice.  So that’s my goal right now, to find my own voice, in singing, in writing, in life.  To not follow or mimic, to be authentically me.

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Thom Yorke Dance Academy or My Night With Radiohead

RADIOHEAD

Seeing as I’m a bit of an obsessive nerd, I was preparing for Radiohead’s Dallas show by following all of their previous dates.  Looking up setlists to compare and contrast each date.  I even made a spotify playlist of all the songs they’d played recently (like i said… obsessive nerd).

Radiohead is oftentimes like a piece of high art, in as much as people say they like it and appreciate it, but don’t always necessarily understand it/are sometimes put off by it.  Especially recently when they’ve become much more heavily beat influenced and pretty much bucked the verse chorus bridge chorus songwriting system.  I’ll admit that King of Limbs is beautiful but sometimes hard to connect to (although seeing many of its songs performed live may have changed that for me… funny how that happens).  You can’t go into their show expecting a slew of greatest hits, because if they’ve proven anything, it’s that they do whatever the hell they want.  That being said, you SHOULD go expecting to have your mind blown by their ridiculous talent and showmanship.

They opened the show with Bloom and two songs in I turned to Kelley (my previously mentioned partner in musical crimes) and said “I honestly don’t even care what they play tonight anymore!”  Everyone probably goes in with a mental list of songs they HOPE will be played… praying that Thom will have some saintly change of heart and say “you know what, let’s give ’em Exit Music (For a Film).”  But there we all were, two songs in and our lists were out the window… We understood that they knew best.  That being said they did indulge us in such widely loved songs as Karma Police, There There, Paranoid Android and my personal favorite, Everything in its right place, with a True Love Waits intro (I’ll admit I slugged Kelley in the arm when Thom, seated at his piano, started that refrain… it is my favorite Radiohead song).  A highlight of the set for me was Give up the ghost, leaving Thom and Johnny alone on the stage together.  Two guitars, one voice, looping over and over itself in a perfect harmony.

The light show/video screens were a great touch without going too far overboard.  I think the best theatrical attribute though, would have to be Thom’s dance moves.  After the Lotus Flower video and subsequent mash-ups (my favorite being with Kelis’ Milkshake) Thom’s dancing talent was definitely on display for the world to appreciate.  Silly and clumsy as it is, there is still so much rhythm to it… as if he’s been possessed by the song itself.  Whether I’ve taken that statement too far is neither here nor there (but in all honestly I probably have), what is important is the joy that Thom’s dancing brings to our lives collectively.  I know that personally, I greatly appreciate a man who will dance willy nilly (Thom and Sam Rockwell being two of my favorites).  Thom’s magnificent moves aside, you couldn’t help getting the impression by some of the other band members that this was all old hat to them, looking slightly bored throughout parts of the night.  That being said I wholeheartedly believe that they are some of the most talented musicians in the world.  All of them multi-instrumentalists and all of them coming together to make such a unique and awe-inspiring sound.  But take a cue from Thom boys, and smile every once in a while.

By the end of the night we had been treated to 2 hours of dancing (or what passes for dancing in such a tightly packed crowd), 2 hours of show that we will be reminiscing and reliving for a long time to come (yes I’ve already made a playlist of last night’s setlist), 2 hours of communion with one of the world’s most creative and genre defying bands.

SIDE NOTES:

Go see Other Lives!!  They are so talented and moody (all full harmonies and haunting melodies).  I’ve seen them three times now and they are definitely benefiting from their time opening for radiohead.

Why do couples make out at shows?!  If you’d wanted a quiet night of makin’ out with your boo, you could have stayed home and saved a lot of money.  Let’s refrain from making out in public (especially when you are in such close quarters with strangers).

Getting there early was a good idea, however, I am glad we got there at 2 and not 4 IN THE MORNING?!  Really, what’s the point in that!  Some overzealous fans even made up a mock list so that they could try to control when they got in the doors.  In actuality it seemed like they just wanted to brag about being 1st or 8th in line (#51 ya’ll). Once we got inside we found ourselves closer to the stage than many of the people who were there before us because general admission tickets are a crapshoot!  It all depends on fate (which line will be faster, which line ends up closer to the stage, which friend will make a B line for the stage, saving you a spot while you hobble down the stairs in your heels… thanks Kell).

Wearing heels was in fact, a good idea!!!  I wore some comfortable heels (shocking i know)!  I am a short person, I always have problems seeing the stage at shows.  I made the decision to wear heels to radiohead.  I will admit that my toes were numb by the final encore but being able to see the band was totally worth it (because I ended up behind the TALLEST RED NECK IN THE WORLD… literally he had a red neck).  Note to self though, throw some tom’s in your purse for before and after the show… ya live and ya learn folks.

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The List

Let’s take a little trip back in time…

It’s the end of 2010 and my friend Kelley and I are reminiscing on how insane that year had been (concert wise… and I guess life wise as well).  The entirety of summer/fall we had at least one concert a week, sometimes up to five a week.  We’d seen great shows at tiny venues by bands who no one had heard of yet, all the way to seeing Elton John perform for thousands (dream come true by the way).  Kelley and I felt lucky.  Lucky to have been able to see so many amazing shows.  Lucky for seeing many of them for free.  Lucky to spend our time doing the thing that we loved most, surrounding ourselves in music.  We were driving home from one of the last shows that year when we decided not to let this luck run out.  A list was made.  Kelley and I started naming all the bands we dreamed of seeing in the next year, outloud… in the car.

The Decemberists

Arcade Fire

Tokyo Police Club

The Walkmen

Dawes

Ben Kweller

Fitz and the Tantrums

Explosions in the sky

Fleet Foxes

St. Vincent

Andrew Bird

Bon Iver

Sufjan Stephens

Kevin Devine

Radiohead

(and many more)

We threw these out into the universe hoping she would hear us but figuring it was a long shot.  Slowly, one by one, they each scheduled shows.  I think it was when Arcade Fire announced a show (in Houston) with explosions in the sky that we knew we really did have magical powers.  Radiohead and Andrew Bird both have shows in March and now we are certain we are wizards.

Some people think we are silly.  My mother has asked me to use my magical powers for something more useful (like to say finish school and find a job worthy of my wizardly talents).  I tend to shrug off these remarks, knowing that they just havent experienced what I have, their heart doesn’t beat to the same drummer that mine does (namely Scott Avett’s kick drum).

There is this ridiculous moment of anticipation when the lights go dark as your favorite band takes the stage.  I remember being so surprised at the lump growing in my throat right before Arcade Fire came out (I don’t want to even think about how I’m going to feel waiting for Radiohead).  How about that moment when you hear the song that you’ve held so dear for soooo long?  Finding my eyes welling with tears when Sufjan played Casimir Pulaski Day (a song that had lived in my car/headphones/room/heart for so many years).

But let’s forget the emotional aspects of it, let’s get down to a show at it’s core… the energy… There is something so pure about dancing and singing en masse.  Maybe it comes from all my years in church, singing the worship songs and hymns together.  Connecting with a room of strangers through the words you are all singing, through the words you all believe.  When Dawes sings “When my time comes” it’s a hymn.  It’s an exclamation and a mantra.  There is no one left silent or still during that song because it’s something we all feel and believe in.  Or how about just feeding off the energy of the band, the guitars reeling, the drums pounding so hard you can feel it in your bones and it feels as if your heartbeat is calibrating itself to the new rhythm. Maybe like when Keith from We are Scientists jumps off stage to dance with you to one of your favorite songs (or was that just me?).  The best lead singers are like street preachers, pulling you in, absorbing you in their tales, all shouting and urgent, every word life or death.   These are the moments that I feel most alive and at home.

And then there’s the practice of seeing bands you’ve never even heard of before.  I love getting to a show a little early to catch an opening act or two because every so often they blow you away (I’m looking at you Villagers) and sometimes they even become your new favorite (ahem, The Head and the Heart).  My list for this year (yes I’m getting to that) is comprised of so many bands that I heard of/saw for the first time last year while opening up for other bands.

 

So here it is, my new list.  Compiled with Kelley at the very beginning of the year over some Kerbey Lane. We are putting it out into the universe and praying for the best.  More than anything we just want to continue to flood our lives (waist deep) in music, whether we complete this list or not doesn’t really matter.

 

Who are YOU putting on your list this year?

 

 

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