If you haven’t noticed, I rarely care enough to write about new(ish) bands. I’m not sure why… maybe I’m pretentious? Or maybe I only feel compelled to write about artists who have been in my life for a significant amount of time (probably both.) However, this is one of those rare instances where I expected nothing and walked away getting much more than my money’s worth.
My time at Baby’s All Right began with two overpriced Corona and limes. I’ve never been to the venue before, so the calm atmosphere and small behind-the-bar stage caught me off-guard. I walked up to the front row with ease, and was under Ron Gallo’s feet the entire set. The three-piece, named after the lead singer, were both comical and sharp-witted. One second their lyrics were so bizarre they had the whole place giggling, and the next they sounded like slam poetry discussing our ignorance and complacent responses to an ugly world.
I didn’t know how I felt immediately after the performance, but after listening to them on Spotify for the last week and a half I can concur: five stars/would see again/they’ll keep growing in popularity for sure.
Twin Peaks were something else. I say that endearingly. I already knew they sounded like a weird love child between the young Rolling Stones and Green River… but I didn’t know how insane their crowds were. These kids were moshing to happy music and crowdsurfing into the ceilings. I felt triple my age drinking my beers to the side as I let the teens with Xs on their hands rage, which was weird for me. But the show was truly something special.
I love how pretty much every member of the band sings, I love how they interact with their fans, and I love how they put every ounce of energy they have into their songs. I know this because I stood in front of the pianist, Colin Croom, and watched him throw himself to his keyboards (literally he briefly ended up on the floor) harder than anyone I’ve ever seen before.
I’d definitely recommend seeing either of these bands when they’re in your town. I know my opinion is irrelevant, but I’ve never backed bands my age before. So I feel like that should mean something.
P.S. Tell me why I felt more starstruck standing next to Jack Dolan (bassist) than I did with Bruce Springsteen the week before. I hope if I ever meet them again, he doesn’t remember how dumb I sounded. #BlameItOnTheBeer
If you’re around my age there’s probably a few legendary bands or artists that you’ve accepted you will never see. Even the ones that are still alive have reached such an immortal level that tickets are outrageously expensive. Some of my list of un-seeable legends includes Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, Roger Waters, and Tom Petty. Until last weekend, where I got to check the Heartbreakers box off my list.
I had no idea what to expect. No idea how Tom’s voice held up over the years, no idea if the band still had the same groove, and no idea what hits they would play for their 40th anniversary. From the first note to the last I was blown away.
Everyone sounded just as good, if not better, than the recordings I’ve been listening to since I was young. I was able to hear Mary Jane’s Last Dance, I Won’t Back Down, Free Fallin’, Learning to Fly, Refugee, Runnin’ Down a Dream… wait… I forget every Tom Petty song is a hit. So you get the point. For me though, the concert highlight was hearing “You Got Lucky.” As Tom so graciously put it to a younger fan in front, “We’re about to play a song we haven’t played in decades. You’re too young to know it, sweetheart, but we sure are glad you’re here.”
In fact, I was most shocked at how witty Tom Petty was. He explained how they still call Steve Ferrone the “new guy” because he’s only been around 25 years. He also explained that the next song was a request… a “request from him”… but it still counted. I chuckled.
Naturally, I left my seat in the back to run up to front row by the end of the show. Would you expect anything else from me? I had the time of my life at the show I never thought I’d get to see. Now, as I dawn my Heartbreakers laptop sticker with a stronger sense of honesty, I am fully aware I would’ve been the biggest Tom Petty fan girl back in the day. I feel no shame.
In the past few years the brevity of life has smacked me square in the face over and over again. Dying doesn’t scare me. In fact, I’ve always found it somewhat intriguing. However, what does scare me is not getting to relay my gratitude to people who have changed my life before it’s too late. That’s why I decided to thank those who’ve had an enormous and unexpected positive impact on my life in a new and creative way.
I call it the “thank you doodle project.” A thank you note is nice, and I still include one for detail anyway, but sometimes words fail. Even when I write a beautiful note, it only takes about five minutes of my time. I wanted a new way to show people just how much their lessons and guidance mean to me. To do so, I started painting pictures to symbolize the lessons I was taught from each of them. (Keep in mind, I’m no Picasso and they’re not meant to be masterpieces.)
Thus far, handing people these images along with a thank you note has been terrifying and heartwarming. It has left me vulnerable and open to dialogue and feelings that I am normally not comfortable with. And because of it, I’ve finally been able to thank those who have changed my life for the better. And it was all because of art.
Some of my influences had no idea of their impact on me until the pieces were given to them. But after seeing them absorb the images and then look back into my eyes, it is clear that every single one of them got the message.
In a world that has an abundance of darkness, it is so nice to spread some light. Humility is the anecdote for so much ugliness in this world, and I hope to continue with this project as long as possible. I challenge you to thank at least five people in your life this week who have helped develop your character. Whether it be a teacher, friend, family member, boss or anyone who leads by example. Not only is it a freeing feeling, but you get to spread the love and give back to people who deserve it. Swallow your pride and laziness. Be kind and gracious. Give back and keep the cycle of generosity rolling. Paint more!!! Okay that’s all, jumping off my soapbox now. Stay golden.
Things I will never decline: free concert tickets. Luckily, I’ve become many people’s token “concert friend,” so when they need someone to stand in GA and get them to front row, I’m the first person they call. This time, one of my best friends offered me the chance to see Radio 104.5’s Birthday bash. We got there late, but four bands and my first “crabby fry” experience later, I realized it was an unforgettable night.
Empire of the Sun pulled off an incredibly artistic and visual set. The thirteen year olds who were only there for The 1975 didn’t quite get it, but it was impossible not to appreciate the time and effort the band but into their performance. (Speaking of The 1975, they sounded great. But am I the only one who kind of wants to fight Matt Healy? He puts on such a tortured-soul-mysterious-boy act that I can’t help but believe he’s full of it. I’m pretty sure he’s admitted to being pretentious… so at least he knows.) Anyway, the Empire of the Sun set stuck out like a sore thumb compared to all of the other artists, and at times was perhaps a little too over-the-top. However, I was sold when three guitars in row were smashed. #AngryGirlProblems.
Bastille were my surprise of the night. The girl next to us was sleeping with the keyboardist, so maybe that’s why the band kept looking in our direction and interacting with the crowd. But nonetheless, I haven’t seen a band give back to their fans during a show to that extent in quite sometime. Dan walked through GA, bounced up and down nonstop, and sung like it was his last show. Major props.
Count this as the second time, yes, second, that I’ve accidentally seen Kings of Leon front row. I’m not complaining though… they put on an awesome show every time. Although they may not have the same interactive stage presence as other bands on the bill (such as the jumping beans in Bastille) their effortless riffs and vocals are off the chart. My appreciation of Jared Followill’s bass talents grow stronger with each show.
Overall, it was a great day. But the best part was when we bypassed forty dollar parking fees by parking in a meter spot on the street. I somehow had thirty-five quarters in my purse and we ended up paying only $8.00. Beating the system… now THAT is beautiful.
Waking up unusually early this morning something didn’t feel right. As I learned about the passing of Chris Cornell… it feels so wrong to type that… I can’t seem to fathom what’s been loss. A father, friend and inspiration to so many.
It was partially because of my consistent begging for Soundgarden records that I got a job at my record store. I went home and bought a bass after the Temple of the Dog tour. It was always clear Chris had personal demons, and I only wish that he is now at peace.
My brain can’t stop thinking about how all of his closest friends and family feel. Or about the fact that he will never be able to be present for his own Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony. I am absolutely gutted, and once again face the aftermath of death that our culture doesn’t really have a guide for.
Rest in peace to one of the greatest, and thank you for changing my life.
Naturally, if you love music as much as me, you want to be surrounded by it as often as possible. Although I am teaching myself to play bass and frequently attend concerts, they alone aren’t enough to fulfill and balance my hobby with my student life at school. So I got a second job… again.
This isn’t the first time I’ve held multiple jobs at once. I already know how overwhelming it can be whilst trying to balance a course load and a social life… which is why I really wasn’t looking for anything. But when an opportunity basically falls into your lap, it feels like blatantly ignoring fate to deny it.
“You’re here every day anyway… would you be interested in a job if I told you it involved free music and dogs?”
After visiting my local record store so many times and becoming a valued customer, the owner picked up on my communication skills and music knowledge (AKA I can talk to people and I know a lot about music made before I was born.) Now, where my paycheck was once being drained has been replaced by free records for a few hours of labor and an the company of an adorable store dog named Chewbacca.
My music addiction is being supported and my heart feels free. I have a little less free time, but it never feels like work. Finding old pictures and notes hidden away in our store’s books and sorting through other’s vinyl collections to decide what to keep is endlessly interesting. Music and novels are such a personal journey, and working with a diverse group of people’s belongings all day feels like I get to take peeks into other’s hidden worlds. (And now I get dibs on Record Store Day Deals, bless.)
About four months ago I bought concert tickets to the Red Hot Chili Peppers in the middle of a class presentation. It was risky and kind of insane, but at the time it felt right. Fast forward many weeks of waiting and I finally got the chance to see the bass player that has made me say “wait what the…” for the last 10 years.
I somehow scored row 13 tickets, which is even crazier when you consider the fact that I bought them at the same time as giving a speech to my class and professor. I brought my best friend along and we drove into Philadelphia for the night. However, as wonderful as our seats were, there were so many people holding their phones up in the air that it made it nearly impossible to see. Which then, of course, made me have to periodically hold up my phone just so I could get a better view of what I couldn’t see with me own eyes (a horrible ripple effect that I wish I didn’t have to succumb to.)
But besides that, the Chili Peppers were everything I wanted them to be: jumping lunatics with funky bass lines. Every glance I got at Flea through the crowd of giants in front of me included me staring at his hands in awe. I wonder if one day I’ll be able to somewhat play slap like that? Wishful thinking most likely.
The light show the band had paired with their music was one of the more wonderful things I’ve seen recently. When I couldn’t see the band, I could look up and be surrounded by hundreds of dangling and rhythmic bulbs.
I almost forgot to mention… the opening acts were astounding too. I was mistaken when I thought our tour date was getting to hear Baby Metal, and was delightfully surprised when we instead got Jack Irons and Trombone Shorty. Jack Irons was magnificently lost in his own world as his backup screen played scenes out of Alice and Wonderland. I was so happy to see the drummer I never thought I would get to see play live and screamed, “Play with Pearl Jam again!” (Sorry Matt Cameron, I do love you, it was the heat of the moment.) Additionally, Trombone Shorty played both original songs and catchy renditions of crowd favorites like Green Day. Overall, it was everything I could have wished for. I just wished they all played longer, because in comparison to the three hour Pearl Jam shows I’ve attended, it felt like RHCP were only on for twenty minutes.
By the way… my first legal concert beer as a 21 year old was also what I thought it would be as well. Slightly warm, 13 dollars and beautifully disappointing.