Take Me Back to 2001…

In 2001, I was fifteen years old.  Where every mistake, rejection, and rude comment made you feel like it was the end of the world.  Getting lost in a lyric, a story in a book, a film, my favorite television show, or in the dance studio was my way of dealing with it.  The entertainment industry was my escape, and still is to this day.

Los Angeles is a big high school.  A sea of people craving approval from society.  Hoping that one day they will be accepted into the inner circle.  Every criticism is exactly what Simple Plan fought.  They rejected the normal and craved for people to understand the outcast.  On Saturday night, I got to see one of my favorite bands, Simple Plan, play at the Wiltern in Los Angeles.  It has been 15 years since their first album came out.  It brought me back to a more carefree time.  Remembering how one band or one song can have a such a huge impact on your life.  As I stood in the venue, I looked around at the crowd.  People of all ages from teenagers to adults in their thirties and forties; all affected by the band that was about to take the stage.  To this day, their message hasn’t changed and it still affects everyone that has ever felt like the outsider.

Before Simple Plan took the stage there were two opening acts – Seaway and Set It Off.  Both bands killed it!  Going to concerts like this brings music alive again with strong guitars, energetic drums, and lyrics that fight to give the quiet kid a voice.  It’s not like rap or pop music.  There seems to be more meaning behind rock music that gives it an edge.  It can connect on another level of the developed musical phrasing, the piecing together of the different instruments into a cohesive sound, and the lyrical versing that can help you get lost.  Seaway was the first to step out on stage.  They seem like they are still working on finding their live voice, and how to bring energy to an audience who doesn’t know who they are.  There was a song that really stood out to me and that was “Best Mistake” off of their “Colour Blind” album.  Maybe why it struck a chord was it was the epitome of 90s rock where it sounds like one loud mix of multiple instruments fighting for the lead with an overlay of screaming the lyrics over the guitars.  It brought me back to the night of staying up too late in college where my friends and I were wandering around the streets of a small town singing random songs that we barely knew the words to as we attempted to do piggyback races down the street.  Why I say it was my best mistake?  Well, the night ended with a bloody face (because someone got dropped), a hand being slammed in a car door, and a crying girlfriend, but it was still one of those nights that was the best because it was simple.  We were just a bunch of 21-year-olds having fun on a Saturday night.

Set It Off had so much energy.  If Fall Out Boy and The Summer Set had a baby I’m pretty sure it would have been this band.  The lead singer Cody Carson has the powerhouse voice and talking fast talents of Patrick Stump and the rasp of Brian Dales.  Can we talk about heaven, because that is Cody’s voice.  Set It Off started as a band back in 2008 and even though some members have changed out over the years they have had a solid crew since 2010 which includes, Cody Carson, Maxx Danziger, Dan Clermont, and Zach DeWall.  One of the best things about going to a live concert is you get to experience new bands that you may have never heard before.  Set It Off was one of those bands for me and their song “Something New” really brought me out of a funk I was feeling that day.  I have been getting lost in my own head lately.  Worrying about never truly being happy.  Never finding that career that I seem to be looking for constantly.  Worrying that those people that love and support me will somehow disappear.  Feeling frustrated that others are moving faster towards a future with that one person that totally understands them.  At least isn’t that how it always feels because of the images that projected all over social media?  The lyrics go:

“I think it, I say it, I write it, erase it,
And break my back so I don’t let you down,
I’m restless and twisted, strung out, addicted
To chasing after picture perfect sound.

And if there’s one thing in my life,
That I’ve been fighting day and night,
Well, it’s my fear of flying standby,
I feel I’ve opened up my eyes,
I shook the nightmare from my mind,
I checked the clock and now it’s my time.

So lemme show you something new,
I need a little revolution,
This could be like a revelation,
Make you see oh that a change is overdue,
Lemme show you something new”

It was like listening to a song that was saying exactly what I was thinking at that time.  Worried about standing still, the need of something new, and being so twisted and strung out from all the thinking that you just want to scream and throw every responsibility out the window.  That excitement to try something that scares every fiber of your being but you do it anyway.  It is time for that push to jump off the cliff.  Is it weird that I thrive on change, but crave the comfort of the people that have known me forever?  It’s almost like wanting to try different things, but know that a safety net is going to catch you if you fall flat on your face.  After hearing “Something New” I had to watch the music video and that thought process of wanting your friends by your side that you trust indefinitely while doing something scary, it doesn’t seem so scary anymore to do something new.

When Simple Plan stepped on stage the crowd went crazy.  It was like the fire was finally ignited and the audience was ready to get lost in a song that they knew.  The band played their entire first album cover to cover including the song that really skyrocketed their career  “I’m just a Kid.”  It was a song that was really ingrained in my high school years like Green Day’s “American Idiot” album.  The years 1998-2006 were the years of the rock and punk bands.  It was like guitar exploded on the radio – Simple Plan, Green Day, Fall Out Boy, All American Rejects, Fountains of Wayne, Bowling for Soup, Offspring, Blink 182…etc.  It was the years of thought-provoking lyrics, music that you felt understood your angst as a teenager, and those fun tunes that you would sing randomly with your best friends when you locked yourself in your bedroom as you danced around jumping your bed as your parents yelled at you to turn down the noise.

Living in Los Angeles has been an adventure the last few years.  Unlike going to other concerts on the east coast where you talk to those strangers that you don’t know because you have the same favorite song, and make new friends with those people standing next to you all night, where everyone has a tendency to stick to their own group that they came with at the event.  It’s like sticking to the status quo and if you talk to that person next to you then you might not be the coolest one the in the room anymore.  Simple Plan played a few songs that were off their second album – “Crazy” and “Welcome To My Life.”  Both were popular back in 2003 and are still an anthem for every emo kid to ever exist.  When they began to play the song “Crazy” it got me thinking about life in LA.  The conversations that you overhear about money, dating, and lifestyle.  I haven’t met very many real people out here.  It seems like the whole city is masked which makes it difficult to make friends because you don’t know if someone wants to become friends with you because of what you do or where you work, or if it is because they actually like you as a person.  The city is very materialistic.  It is more important about the car you drive, what you wear, and what you look like than about who you are as a person.  I think when Simple Plan played that song “Crazy” it really went above everyone’s head in the venue.  Did anyone in the audience really understand it?  That it is about people, and caring about people and the person that we are as individuals.  Maybe someday LA will open up their eyes, but for now, I leave you with “Crazy.”

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Coachella 2016 – The Good & Ugly of A Festival Attendee

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The people we bonded with at the Festival on Saturday night.

People attend Coachella for various reasons. Some go to be seen in the latest fashions, celebrities go for the free publicity, and others go for the music. Attendees spend an exorbitant amount of money over the course of the three days each weekend and this past year was no different. Every year it is a guessing game of “which weekend do I want to attend.” If you are lucky you can go to both, but very few people have that kind of money or time to burn. You risk missing special guests when you chose one weekend over the other, or purchase tickets based on rumors that may never happen.

For the second year in a row my brother and I decided to attend Coachella but this year we did weekend 1 instead of weekend 2. It seemed in years past the special guests have been more exciting the first weekend then the second weekend, when in reality neither weekend is better than the other; you always miss someone you wanted to see. This year the two big conversations surrounded the reuniting of Guns N’ Roses as well as the possibility of Ice Cube reuniting N.W.A.

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Guns N’ Roses

Guns N’ Roses did not disappoint. Even though Axl Rose was set up like an invalid with his broken foot, the band made sure the crowd was visually entertained. Richard Fortus jamming on his guitar as his long hair and opened shirt continued to rock out with each song as a series of facial expressions made attendees get a little more lost. Slash on the other hand was calm, controlled and cool with every note that whaled out of his guitar you couldn’t help but think “God I want to be that cool.” The band brought out a rock guitar legend Angus Young from AC/ DC. His school boy charm dressed in an all blue shorts suit is infamous as is his fish like mouth opening and closing in an “oh yeah” fashion throughout his playing.

Ice Cube’s set was a little disappointing. The rumors swirled over the previous months that N.W.A would be getting back together for a performance at Coachella. He brought back DJ Yella and MC Ren, but Dr. Dre was missing. The heart pounding excitement that formed as I watched them perform “Straight Out of Compton” and “F*** The Police” bubbled up, but it would have been more of a celebration if Dre was there and they brought another artist in to sing Easy E’s parts. The second weekend got that treat and I am beyond jealous. Dr. Dre did not sing on the original N.W.A recordings as he was primarily the producer for the group. At the show he came out and performed “California Love” and they had Easy-E’s son come out to perform “Boys N’ the Hood.” It was a full-blown N.W.A love feast full of every guest that truly needed to be there.

Rapper and rocker fans are no different to boy band fan-girls. No joke I have never witness a bunch of 20 and 30 something year old boys lose their shit when Tim Armstrong of Rancid come down from the stage to sing right in the crowd. Being a girl at the front of the gate as a bunch of men reached to touch the coat of their punk rock idol was not only a laughable moment, but one where I could see the inner fan-girl on every outer boy’s face. Lord Huron received a different kind of worship where everyone in the vicinity knew all the lyrics to each song and proceeded to dance with one another as the L.A. Indie folk band played songs ranging from their six year repertoire.  Personally never heard of them, but I felt like I was in the middle of a cult that I didn’t truly understand yet.

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Chvrches

Disclosure and Chvrches were some of the best electronic music and bands that were at the festival this year. Unlike Calvin Harris’ music which all sounds like a Jersey Shore after-party they had music that actually says something. Maybe it’s because Disclosure studied all styles of musicians in college and from their musically gifted parents from funk and soul to hip hop and dub step that intertwines with electronic beats. Maybe it’s because Lauren Mayberry (Chvrches) had a career in journalism where stories were her livelihood and now lyrics hold that place. Not every artists that dabbles in electronic music is good. The best artists in electronic music usually have a background in playing more classical instruments and have a deeper exploration in rhythms, beats, and how it all intertwines.

Alessia Cara was one of my personal favorites at the festival as her sound is still honest and pure. Her set and wardrobe were simple as her band knew every lyric and drowned the audience into the synthesized sounds of guitar, bass, and keys. Her songs are poetic. “Seventeen” is something that I have been able to relate to lately. Turning thirty in the next few months I sometime wish that time could be simpler. It’s not about not wanting to be an adult but to be able to have some moments where time can stop. Where life doesn’t have to move so fast.

“My view with a looking glass won’t catch the past
Only photographs remind us of the passing of days
Oh nothing stays the same from yesteryears
See I recall being afraid of the dark
And holding on to teddy bears
I’d wrap myself in blankets just to cover me from fears
That was then and now I’m here
And the night is mine

So hear me scream
I was too young to understand what it means
I couldn’t wait til I could be seventeen
I thought he lied when he said take my time to dream
Now I wish I could freeze the time at seventeen”

In consideration of attending the 2017 Coachella don’t let anyone try to fool you that weekend one or two is better than the other. More special guests do attend weekend one – Sam Smith and Lorde with Disclosure, Angus Young with Guns N’ Roses, and O’Shea Jackson Jr, Snoop Dogg, DJ Yella, and MC Ren with Ice Cube. Weekend two may surprise you and have such a huge event blow up like a group reuniting that hasn’t performed together in years (N.W.A). There is no right or wrong weekend only an enjoyable one full of memories where you wish you could freeze time. Make music your refuge and curl up into the space between the notes as you fall into the perfect sound.

**Be on the lookout for a video coming soon**

Technology Has Ruined the Concert Experience

The smart phone is a beautiful tool that has been created in society. It allows us to stay in contact with people who live far away, keeps us from losing our minds on public transit, and gives us the ability to schedule our entire life in the palm of our hand. It can be used for videos, music, and taking pictures. I am a huge supporter of technology, and every time something new comes out I am right there with the general population exploring the the new tools that man has created. But are we losing touch on what is important? Do we really need to be on, near, or have access to our phones 24/7?

Being on vacation these past two weeks I have been observing the public especially at concerts. What I have noticed is that society is obsessed with having a phone in there hand and documenting everything. What happened to actually experiencing something. A music concert is not meant to be video tapped and watched through your phone. It is meant to take in the artist’s music, experience a feeling that you can’t get from a video, and live in the moment. I feel like that concept is hard for people to grasp. Living in the moment means putting the phone away and gaining an experience from the people around you, the artist and musicians on stage, and being with the people that you came with for that show and in that moment in time. A story that you can tell your grandkids from one picture, because let’s be serious, no kid is going to watch the hours of footage you have recorded of some old person they don’t know.

I know what you phone addicts are going to say is how are we suppose to remember the experience if there are no videos, no pictures, no physical object(s)? I know this a new concept, but how about a journal or a personal blog? I am not saying that you should never take picture or video, but do you really need thirty minute video of concert that you can’t even make out the person you went to go see? If you are up front near the stage absolutely take a short one minute video and snap a few pictures, but to have your phone up to record a show the whole time is absurd. You not only have ruined your own experience but what about that person you blocked by having your arm up the whole time? Let go of the phone! Let go of technology! And experience a concert through your own eyes instead of the screen of your phone.

Concert Etiquette – Treat Others How You Want to be Treated

Going to music festivals can be eye opening how the general public acts.  In short, people can get mean, rude, and pushy when it is a band they like and want to be front and center, but there is a concert etiquette that needs to be followed.

Recently at Coachella, I really wanted to see was AC/DC and so did everyone else who is a music lover.  Knowing this, my brother, my roommate, and I got there two and a half hours early, watch the act before, and then waited.  We were by no means in the front, but we had a decent view of the show.  A few songs in, a group of  four teenagers/ early twenty kids decided to push there way through the crowd, jump around slamming into people, as well as used people as a brace to get up on each other shoulders.  Now, I am not saying that you should stand still in a bubble at a concert or not sing along and dance to the music, but if you are unable to lift people without using strangers as a brace you probably lack the strength to actually have someone on you shoulders. Also, the people standing in front of you don’t enjoy being kicked in the head.  So what’s the lesson?  Dance around, sing along to the music, but don’t push in front of others who have been there for hours and preceded to slam into them, because eventually you will run into someone like me who will tell you off and scare the living sh** out of you to behave like a normal person in society.

Celebrities go to concert too, and they want to enjoy the music not have you screaming at them to take a picture on your phone.  Famous people are just normal people who happen to be well-known.  If you ever want the chance to meet one you need to act normal and not crazy.  Being at Coachella you run into various celebrities.  For example, Paris Hilton was standing in front of my brother and I at the Kaskade concert.  There was a barrier, and this girl next to us preceded to scream at her as well as ask every person in front of her to take a picture of her.  Of course everyone looked at her funny and said no, but that didn’t stop her.  Seriously, if someone can explain to me the obsession with celebrities I am all ears because I just don’t get the spastic emotional frenzy that people become around someone famous.

Finally, be nice to the staff.  At a large music festival I applaud the staff.  Being a person that manages sixty to eighty events a month, I sympathize with the staff and how much the general public can be a pain.  Don’t throw trash on the ground, there are garbage cans all around the festival site.  Those big blue cans are not just there for decoration.  Follow the rules and be respectful to the security team.  There were a bunch girls who continuous were sitting up on the barrier to watch the show even after the various security told them to get down.  Now I am 5’2” so I understand being short and not being able to see but seriously get over it.  I can tell you if I was that security person I would have told you if I tell you a second time I will throw you out.  The security team as well as the staff have a lot of power and they are not the people that you want to push because they can have you ejected no matter how much money you paid to be there.

To all you concerts goers out there follow the concert etiquette, and the bottom line of it all is don’t be a douche.

Coachella – An Experience of A Life Time

imageOn April 17-19, 2015 I went to the musical festival Coachella, which was totally epic!  Excuse me for my teenage verbiage above, but if you ever get the experience to go you need to make it happen.  Yes it is crazy expensive, no the VIP tickets are not worth the cost, and camping is for  chumps, because the resorts and a nice bed are where it is at.

Being from the east coast the three hour time adjustment was rough and if you are coming from a time difference give yourself more then a day to recoup your body.  Usually such a small time adjustment isn’t a big deal, but when you are going to bed at 3 AM and get up at 9 AM there is really no time for your body to reset.  Let’s talk about being a VIP at the festival.  It is seriously pointless.  You pay $800 to get better food that you pay more for, shorter bathroom lines, and more shaded areas.  If you have difficulty with hundred degree plus weather then VIP is for you, but if you are like me and heat feels like a warm blanket go for the general admission.

The great thing about a festival like Coachella is there are dozens of bands, a slue of music genres, and five stages that you can bounce around to see various acts all day and night.  The first day of the festival is the best day to really explore the venue, get your merchandise, and see the art installations.  Three of my favorite acts on the first day were AC/DC, George Ezra, and Kiesza.  For a bunch of old guys I think AC/DC rocked harder then any other band at the festival.  The long guitar solos that you never hear anymore in music is a breath of fresh air, the movement and jumping around on stage to get the crowd going, and the ability to bring various generations together with a form of music that never dies – rock n’ roll.  George Ezra is a modern day singer/ songwriter.  His voice reminds me of Don Henley with a mix of Johnny Cash.  He has an old soul when he sings.  You can tell in his voice that every lyric and note means something and he has that old school rhythm and blues sound that makes you connect with the music.  Those of you who don’t know Kiesza you need to crawl out from under that rock.  She is a dancer turned singer and her show was full of dance, music, and connecting with the audience.  She even had back up dancers for the show and she was dancing and singing with them.  She showed no signs of being fatigued or out of breath.  Her stamina and energy was something that I haven’t seen from a current century music artist in a long time.  I think the public is going to be seeing and hearing a lot more of her, especially if her live shows continue to bring such a powerful energy.  On day one we also saw DJ Snake.  I have never seen my brother so excited as when we saw DJ Snake take the stage with two old school rappers DMX and Sir Mix A Lot.  The energy in that EDM tent was busting by the end of that set as everyone was dancing and singing along.

On day two and three we took a different approach to seeing artists.  Obviously at music festivals you are dealing with large crowds, drunk and high idiots, and lack of sleep, so, the less you have to deal with too much stupidity the better.  The first day we bounce between the varios stages and saw artists at every venue there was to see, but the following two days we stayed mostly at the outdoor and main stages.  Staying between these two stages allowed us to get a better viewing spot for the people we wanted to see such as Jack White, the Weekend who brought out Kanye West, Royal Blood, Florence and the Machine, Marina and the Diamonds, and Bad Religion.  We got right on a rail and could brace ourselves with the crowd, as well as saw some other artists who were pretty amazing that we might not have otherwise heard, such as Saint Motel, The Orwells, and Circa Survive.

So what are you going to do on your next music festival excursion?  Explore artists that are unfamiliar, make sure the VIP tickets are actually worth it by talking with someone from the festival and not just online, and be sure if there is someone you really want to see camp out there all day because more then likely everyone else really wants to see them too.  You don’t want to be that jackass pushing through the crowd of people that have been there for hours.