Saturday, February 15, 2014

Things I've Learned

Anyone who knows my personally may be aware that I have been going through a bit of a rough time in the past several weeks. A lot of different things all hit me at one time and it has not been easy to make sense of it all. At the same time, I feel as if I've gotten to a point where I am starting to learn from all of it, both in general and about myself in particular. And I want to put this out there because I know there are people who are struggling with some of the same things, right at this very moment. And if I start to feel down again, I want to remind myself of some of the things that I now know to be true.

1) People do not always mean what they say, even if it really seems like they do. Sometimes people just say what they think you want to hear and don’t really think about the consequences.

2) If someone says that honesty is extremely important to them, it does not necessarily make them an honest person.

3) You are not stupid for believing what people tell you. You are simply trusting and believe in looking for the best in people. A lot of the time this is a good quality even if it is inevitable that you will sometimes be wrong.

4) I am incredibly naïve. And even knowing this about myself doesn’t change it. But it’s okay. And I know it means I will be hurt sometimes, but that is okay too.

5) “When people show you who they are, believe them.” If someone repeatedly reveals an aspect of their true self that is unacceptable, do not try to make excuses for them. That is probably who they truly are.

6) When multiple people who care about you continuously warn you about someone, do not ignore their advice. Chances are that they are right.

7) I know what I need and deserve, and I’ve realized that when you really, really want something it is so easy to settle for less. I’m glad to have learned about myself that I refuse to accept less.

8) Music helps everything.

9) Good friends help even more. Sometimes it’s even the people you don’t expect.

10) It is okay to be “too” forgiving. Most of the time it is necessary. But sometimes you need to forgive and just let go, instead of continuing to accept the same thing.

11) I’m okay.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Top Ten Albums of 2012

2012 was a great year for music, with some of my favorite artists releasing new albums, some after many years with no new releases. Here are some of my favorites from the past year, but be aware that I am biased and I KNOW IT! :)


Honorable mentions: The new Band of Horses album Mirage Rock and the Imagine Dragons album Night Visions are two that I need to listen to some more. Both are pretty awesome from the few times I’ve had a chance to listen to them, and it was definitely a lot of fun to hear some of the new Band of Horses songs live in December. The new Mumford & Sons album, Babel has some really great songs on it, including Hopeless Wanderer. However, after how much I loved Sigh No More, this album was a bit of a disappointment, compared to what I expected and what I think it could have been. Train’s album California 37 is also one that I love a lot, but was ruined for me a little bit since Drive By was the only English song played on the French radio station at work and I’d hear it about five times a day all summer long. I do think the poppy, super catchy tunes work really well for Train, but I do still prefer some of their older music.


10) The Script - #3

This album is definitely my least favorite of The Script’s albums, and seems to have more of a rap influence than the other two. I still love a lot of the songs though, in particular, Glowing and Six Degrees of Separation. Hearing some of these songs live was incredible, which is why it still made my top ten list for this year.

9) A Silent Film – Sand & Snow

A big thank you to my friend Ginger for showing me this band just last month! After hearing their song Harbour Lights, I knew I would love their sound, and immediately bought this CD. Rustle of the Stars is also an incredible ballad type song that I fell in love with after just one listen.

8) The Early November – In Currents

The first new release from The Early November since 2006 was not at all disappointing. With a similar sound to their previous releases, this album still feels unique and as if they have grown a lot in the past six years. Some favorites include In Currents, Call Off the Bells, and That’s Not Your Real Name.

7) The Fray – Scars & Stories

The first two albums from The Fray have a very similar sound throughout most of the songs, but something about this album feels different to me. A lot of the songs seem to be inspired by some travelling that the band did, which I think is a really cool concept. Rainy Zurich in particular is a favorite of mine, which is sung by guitarist Joe King, who has a great voice and I think should probably have more vocal parts in their songs. Munich is another favorite, as well as the ballad I Can Barely Say.

6) Say Anything – Anarchy, My Dear

This band is so awesome and weird and funny and their songs never fail to leave me laughing, smiling, and in awe. Max is a brilliant song writer, and part of Say Anything’s charm is in his strange lyrics and unique vocals. Say Anything is a great song from the album, and another favorite, So Good, features vocals from his wife, Sherri. Their voices sound awesome together and seeing them sing this song live together with such chemistry is amazing.

5) Tyler Hilton – Forget the Storm

This was the first full length release from Tyler Hilton since 2004. After such a long time, I wasn’t really expecting to even hear anything new from him, but I think that this album is even better than his first one. Some of the songs were featured on the last season of One Tree Hill, and they fit just perfectly with the storylines, including Prince of Nothing Charming, Kicking My Heels, and Loaded Gun. I had the pleasure of seeing Tyler perform live for the first and second time in 2012 after being a fan since my early teens, and he is so charming and great to watch as a performer. I have a serious weakness for seeing musicians play both harmonica and guitar in a live performance, and a perfect example for why I feel that way can be described by his song Can’t Stop Now, my favorite from the album.

4) Snow Patrol – Fallen Empires

Snow Patrol has been a favorite of mine for many years, and each album they release is consistently amazing and just as good or even better than the last. They are definitely one of my all time favorite bands to see live, and put on one of the best shows you will ever see. Gary has such passion and energy, and also such a goofiness about him while onstage that makes it impossible not to fall in love with them. New York and This Isn’t Everything You Are quickly became two of my favorite songs of all time. Their song Lifening is also a perfect example of why Snow Patrol is such an amazing band with incredible lyrics. The song is about appreciating all of the little things, and as Gary sings in the chorus “this is all I ever wanted from life” you can tell how genuine and relatable the lyrics are.  

3) Safetysuit – These Times

Safetysuit’s long awaited second album was released in January, 2012, and is at least as good as their first, Life Left to Go. This band has so much energy on stage and seeing them perform live is such an incredible experience. The first song, Believe, is so high energy and such an amazing song to kick off both a show and the recorded album. Hearing Doug sing that super high note towards the end of the song is kick ass! These Times is probably the song on the album that has the best, most relatable message for me, and I think many others as well. It’s such a simple thing, but hearing someone else say that “these times are hard, but they will pass” is so comforting and it is also the truth! Hearing that song live for the first time this year was such an emotional moment and one that I will never forget in my life. Life in the Pain is another great, relatable song, and has a kind of similar idea to the final song on their previous record, Life Left to Go. Other favorites include Crash and Staring At It, also both high energy songs that are incredible to see live.

2) Matchbox 20 – North

This album is one that I had been waiting on for a very long time. For their first new full length release in TEN YEARS, Matchbox 20 could not have done any better. Even though they clearly took quite a bit of time on this record, all the work resulted in something perfect. The classic 90’s Matchbox 20 sound is still there, but it is obvious that all of the guys have matured musically in the past decade. There is a perfect blend of catchy pop tunes, slower ballads, and a few that fall somewhere in between. Rob’s vocals seem to be getting better and better, and guitarist Kyle Cook even sings lead on their song The Way, which is one of my favorites on the album. She’s So Mean is super catchy and sounds totally 90’s but still very current, and was a perfect choice for a first single. Overjoyed, the second single, is a slower song that I think is one of the best on the album. Some other favorites include Parade and Sleeping at the Wheel, a perfect ending song for the album.

1) Lifehouse – Almeria (DUH)

Let’s be honest here…did anyone expect anything less? I’ll start off by saying that this definitely is not my favorite Lifehouse album, and it and did take some getting used to. Matchbox 20’s North is an album I enjoy probably at least as much as this one, but I don’t think it would be physically possible for me to rank any other album ahead of a Lifehouse one haha! While this album feels like a big departure from their ordinary sound, I feel like each of their albums is almost like its own entity, and this new sound still works for them. Despite whatever statements they have made with the new images or the cheesy Western album cover, most of the songs on the album are still undeniably Lifehouse. The record starts off with Gotta Be Tonight, an upbeat song that sounds awesome when played really loudly in the car. It’s clear that they tried some interesting new things on this album, like the chains in the background of this track, and even backup vocals by another artist, which is something they don’t do very often. Between the Raindrops, the first single, is such a pretty song, and I think Jason and Natasha’s vocals sound amazing together. This song sounds really cool acoustic, and I think a bonus track of that would’ve been awesome on the deluxe edition. Nobody Listen is a song rumored to be the next single, and while I don’t think it is necessarily the best choice, the catchy beat and chorus could maybe allow it to do pretty well. Moveonday is a kick ass rock song that I think would be perfect as an opener for a live show. Just from videos, I can already tell that it’s going to be awesome live, and I can’t wait to see Jason’s awkward dancing and tambourine shaking, and maybe have a chance to reacquaint my face with his stomach. Slow Motion is a slower song that has a really cool sound, with a really neat melody. The next song, Only You’re the One is one of my absolute favorites on the album, and I think it would be the perfect choice for a single. The live videos look incredible, and I love how Bryce sings the bridge. This song kind of falls in between being upbeat and a ballad, and I feel like that could make it feel both like a really high energy song and also something that could be easily relatable and emotional. Where I Come From is another favorite of mine on this album. I feel like this song could be really great in an acoustic set, and I can picture Jason playing this one. Right Back Home, featuring Peter Frampton, was by far my least favorite in the first few listens of the album. I started off really hating it, but it has grown on me to the point where I do enjoy it. Some of the guitar parts are really cool sounding, but something about this song feels a little too country to me. Compared to other albums, there were a lot of collaborations on Almeria, and I think that is something I don’t enjoy as much on a Lifehouse album. While it may be necessary to work with other artists from time to time, it often results in some songs that are lesser favorites of mine. Barricade also has a bit of a Western sound, but I feel like it works better for this song. This is another one that I can picture Jason singing in an acoustic set, and I would really love to see that. And the last song on the album, Aftermath….ahhhhhhh. Anyone who has even so much as spoken to me in the past month knows how I feel about this song. First of all, I am absolutely in love with piano ballads, and I wish that Lifehouse had more of them. This song is so incredibly beautiful and Jason’s vocals sound so perfect and haunting. There is a chorusy part towards the end that felt really strange to me on the first listen, but actually fits so perfectly into the song. There are those certain songs that have a sound or lyrics which when you hear them, you feel like it’s one of those songs that is so universal and anyone who hears it couldn’t possibly dislike it. Aftermath feels like one of those songs to me, and it’s also one of the only songs I’ve ever sat and listened to on repeat multiple times. There’s something so soothing about the music and how Jason sounds in this song. The feeling this song gives me is just indescribable, but it quickly became one of my all time favorite, and most played songs, all within a week of first hearing it. Overall, the album is amazing, just as one such as myself would expect from Lifehouse. Lyrically, it sometimes gets a bit repetitive and doesn’t feel as profound as some of their older songs, but I think the beauty of the album is mostly in the music itself…the melodies and instruments and some of the strange new techniques that they tried out. Despite not being exactly what I expected, a Lifehouse album never disappoints!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Chapter Two: An Even More Excruciatingly Long, Extraordinarily Detailed Account Of Every Moment Of The New Greatest Day Of My Life AKA Hello Lifehouse (Again)!

Saturday, June 30, 2012: It is difficult for me to know where to begin or how to find the right words to describe such a perfect weekend. The excitement began around 8:30 on Friday night when my dad took me to O’hare to meet up with Sherri and Christy, who I was very excited and anxious to see. About an hour before that, we made plans for me to meet up with them and stay at the snazzy Holiday Inn the night before the show, which was a very pleasant and unexpected surprise! We decided we would go to the show together in the morning, so my friend Mel from Chicago, who I so graciously bought a ticket for, ended up not coming haha! After months of believing that Sherri and Christy were both 14, imagine my surprise when seeing them at the airport! After a few minutes of my dad acting like I was an 8 year old going off for my first slumber party, the three of us went to take the train down to the hotel. Though, I feel I should point out, no one had any idea which stop the hotel was at, so it is a good thing Chicagoans are so friendly! When we arrived at the hotel, the guy who checked us in asked what brought us to Chicago, to which we all responded by shuffling around awkwardly. Then Christy admitted that we all flew in for “The World’s Largest Block Party”, and the guy asked who we were seeing. We told him we were there to see Lifehouse, and he said he knew who they were. I asked if they were staying at the hotel and he told us we JUST missed them. Shucks! Every time we walked in or out, it seemed they had just been there moments before! We went upstairs and got settled, then after about an hour decided to go party out on the town! We walked around for a bit, before realizing that there was quite literally nothing within walking distance of the hotel except for the “World’s Largest Block Party”, which was 0.7 miles away. However, we did stop to take a scenic picture in front of the Sears Tower!
In front of the Sears Tower!
We ended up walking back to the hotel (where we just missed Lifehouse, AGAIN), taking a cab to the “Russian Division”, and going into some bar to get food. The bouncer asked for all three of our IDs, but I think he was just trying to make Sherri and Christy feel better about being in their 80s. It turned out that they did not want to serve us anything at ten minutes to midnight, so we walked outside (in the rain) to this little restaurant a few doors down called Five Faces. At this point, my façade of watching what I was eating came to a screeching halt when I ordered delicious cheesy fries. Sherri and Christy ordered equally healthy items. This restaurant was so awesome, they even sold plates of 24 cheese cubes. The sign up in the restaurant told us that after trying Five Faces, they guaranteed that we would come back, and of this I have no doubt! We then went back to the hotel and just goofed around for a while before going to bed. I learned some awesome new things about my friends in that first night. First of all, Christy will actually do Zumba anywhere, including five star restaurants. And second of all, in Christy’s wise words, Sherri is a corn dog (and mozzarella stick and peanut butter kit kat) eating trucker mouthed bed hog. Also, apparently they think there is something funny about sleeping with a Blanky, just because it has tiny little holes in it. Whatever!

By the time I fell asleep, I think it was probably 3 AM, and my excited anxiety for the following day was continuing to build! I woke up around 9:30 the next morning. Christy was already downstairs working out, and Sherri, who claimed she would be wide awake by 5 AM, still seemed to be relaxing in bed! I spent some time getting ready for the day, and then waited around in the hotel for about six months while the old ladies finished getting ready to leave. By about 12:30 or so, we left to go meet up with Breann for lunch, which ended up happening a few hours later than we had expected. Only Christy was smart enough to actually eat breakfast! We ended up walking in the sweltering heat towards where the venue was located. By the time we got there, we realized that the entire area was open, and we could walk right up to the stage. There were a bunch of guys setting up, so Sherri, who is just painfully shy, went right up behind the stage and asked the guys if they knew when Lifehouse was doing soundcheck. Unfortunately, no one knew. After a few minutes, Breann came and met up with us! At this point I was starving, but we decided to stick around for a few minutes to see if we could find out more about soundcheck, and it is a lucky thing that we did! Shortly after, we saw Winnie up on stage and realized that meant that the boys would likely be showing up soon. After just a few more minutes, a van pulled up, and the guys came walking out! At this point, I totally started to lose it and get a little panicky and completely forgot I was hungry. Sherri, Christy, and Breann seemed totally composed while I, still being a mere child, was going completely nutty. Though maybe it had something to do with this being my second Lifehouse show, whereas they had all seen them over twenty times (jerks)! We decided that in order to appear (slightly more) normal, to walk back to the entrance and head up to the stage instead of gawking from backstage. When we walked up, Bryce was sitting at the end of the stage, where he was actually tweeting about soundcheck. He asked us if we were excited for the show later, which I think was a fairly redundant question, though we enthusiastically responded that we were! He talked to us for a couple of minutes, mostly about a Russian park in LA, and then said he had to get up on stage for soundcheck and that he’d see us at the show later. Jason then saw us from the stage, and smiled and waved at us!
Hanging out at soundcheck!
We got to watch them soundcheck parts of six songs, which was an absolutely incredible experience to me. What could be better than seeing your favorite band in the universe perform live, twice in one day?! It was crazy to actually get to see them play some songs with just the four of us sitting there and watching them. It was like having our own private mini concert, and it felt strange to be able to see them with no one else around, and knowing that the guys noticed each of us. They started soundcheck with their cover of Beast of Burden, which was absolutely hysterical to me (for reasons that shall remain a mystery)! They played the full song, and then played Broken, which excited me very much since it is one of my favorites. They also played that full song, minus the variation at the end that they usually do in live shows. Next they did Spin, but cut it a bit short. After that, they did the first part of Nerve Damage, and then played all of Falling In.
Booty shot of the band at soundcheck!
After that song, Jason got off the stage and went in back. A few seconds later, Sherri nudged me to tell me that he was coming over to us, at which point my heart was just about ready to pound right out of my chest! He came over and gave each of us a hug, initiated by him, which I thought was so sweet. Breann introduced herself to him, and then he responded by saying, “Hi, I’m Jason”. We all thought that was pretty hysterical. Yes, the four of us are sitting here at around 2 PM when you go on stage at 9 PM, in the 95˚ weather, sweating buckets, yet the obvious assumption would be that we have no idea what his name is. I guess it just shows how humble Jason can be. Even though it was only the four of us standing there, I loved that he actually came down to say hi to us, whereas a lot of artists would maybe just wave or not really pay attention. After saying hi, Jason walked over to the sound booth, and Bryce did soundcheck for part of Wrecking Ball. Once the soundcheck was over, we walked back over to Jason to ask him for a ton of favors haha! First we told him about the By Your Side fundraiser and asked him to sign the lyrics to the song. He seemed interested by the fundraiser and thought it was pretty cool that we were doing it! Christy was nice enough to give him a letter from a fan, and I also gave him Karla’s poem and asked him if he would mind speaking to her and wishing her a happy birthday if we called her. Of course, he had no problem doing that. We wanted to take a picture of him calling her, but he actually walked away to the other side of the sound booth so that we couldn’t see him, which I thought was really cute. Karla didn’t pick up her phone, but he left her a really sweet birthday message, which I think made all of our days! I then asked him to sign my copy of No Name Face, which is now my only signed Lifehouse album! I handed it to him like a Parkinson’s patient, at which point I think he decided it was time to run away. I asked if he would take a picture with us, but then after taking a picture with me he ended up walking away.
Me with Jason!
I quickly told him that if he wanted to throw Simon into the set list that night, it would be amazing. He said sure, he would play it, though I am pretty sure I already knew he was just saying that to be nice, which I ended up being right about haha. Of course, I forgot pretty much everything I actually wanted to say to Jason as soon as I was standing in front of him, but I was so happy we got a chance to talk to him for a little while! I think everyone else thought we had harassed him enough at that point so they didn’t ask him for pictures, though it is my belief that they were way too composed during the whole thing! As Breann so graciously pointed out, I think I scared him away before they had a chance to take a picture with him haha!

After Jason went back to the sound booth, we decided it was time to go get some lunch. We walked for a few minutes and decided to go to the first (and only) restaurant we found, called Al’s. They proclaimed to have the number one Italian beef sandwich in Chicago, which I am certain must be the case, along with all the other restaurants that have similar claims. I was too overheated and anxious to eat much at this point, so I just got a salad, which also ended up being the only thing I consumed for the entire day. The four of us ended up sitting around in the restaurant for about two and a half hours, which is how long it took for us to cool off and stop sweating. When we were sitting in the restaurant, Christy tried Karla again, and we realized that the voice on the answering machine was not her, so Christy left a very long winded message about a voice mail from a rock star, asking the girl to call her back. It turns out that we had misdialed and the voice mail was left for some random stranger, who for some (odd) reason did not return the phone call! I am still wondering what she must have thought about the weird voice mail on her answering machine haha! I ended up calling Karla from my phone after and got to speak to her for a minute and wish her a happy birthday, which made me really happy! The four of us ended up just sitting around and chatting and goofing around the whole time we were sitting in the restaurant, which was so much fun! I absolutely loved getting to just sit there and spend time together.
Hanging out at lunch!

The actual show started at 5:30, so around that time we decided to head back to the venue and stake out our spots. When we walked back into the venue, there weren’t all that many people there yet. I’m pretty sure most of the people already inside were there early for the free extra drink and weren’t all that interested in the music haha! We walked right up to the front, and even though there were a couple of people there already, Sherri, Breann, and I managed to find spots in the front row, and Christy stood right behind us. The first band to play was called No Love For Linus. They were pretty cool, and played for about 45 minutes or so. They were giving out some free EPs after the show, so I snatched one for myself! After they played, this band called Vintage Blue came on at 6:30, and they also played for about 45 minutes. They were really good, and had some interesting songs. At the end of their set, they did this weird song composed of a bunch of different songs, like Somebody That I Used To Know and Ice, Ice Baby, which was so cool! At the end of their set, they threw some Frisbees out into the crowd, one of which almost knocked my head off. Christy seemed to like that, since she ended up wearing one as a hat for a little while! After they finished, this guy named Brett Dennen played for just over an hour, starting at 7:30. I don’t even know exactly how best to describe him, other than saying he was undoubtedly the strangest performer I have ever seen, and probably should have washed his hair before the show haha! His set wasn’t too bad, but I probably would have enjoyed monkeys banging pans around on stage considering how happy I was that whole day! I think Breann enjoyed his set more than anyone though, based on the look of pure adoration on her face during his whole performance! After Brett’s set was over, I started to get super antsy again!
Pre-show anxiety!
Twenty minutes or so later, some Pastor came on stage to introduce Lifehouse! I started going nuts, as did everyone around me! The hooligans who were smoking all night long even put down their cigarettes for Lifehouse, THAT is how incredible they are! Of course, they started with Hello There, which was awesome as usual. A few days before the show I had tweeted Lifehouse asking if they were playing a 90 minute set, and they responded that they were, which was super exciting! I had only ever seen them play an hour long set, so I was so excited to see what they would add to the set list. The first nine songs were the same as the first time I saw them in Boston, which started to make me a little nervous! I was still so excited to hear some of the songs live again (a few even for the second time that day)! The first few songs were All In, Here Tomorrow Gone Today, Spin, Nerve Damage, You And Me, Whatever It Takes, Wrecking Ball, and Beast Of Burden.
Spin is still one of my very favorite songs to hear live, which you can probably tell by watching the videos I took of the show haha! That is one of my favorite Lifehouse songs, and I just love how much energy they have when playing it, especially during the outro. During Nerve Damage, Jason came down to the audience, as usual. He walked past us and I wanted to give him another hug, but I was kind of rejected when he walked past me. He did give Sherri a “hello there, frail old lady” hand squeeze though, which was so very sweet of him! After the first nine songs, they started playing the intro to Wash, and I went absolutely crazy! I was totally ecstatic to hear a new song on the set that I had never heard live before, especially one that I love so much! It was incredible live, and I think they should definitely have it as part of their shorter sets too. After that, they played Hanging By A Moment, which is always amazing live. I got a really awesome picture of Bryce playing the song with his bow, which was very cool!
Bryce during Hanging By A Moment!
The next song was Take Me Away, which also made me go completely nuts. Take Me Away is also one of my very favorite Lifehouse songs and I was so happy they included it in the set. That was definitely one of my favorite songs of the night! Next they played Falling In and then First Time. I was hoping that Jason would come down to the crowd during First Time and put his stomach in my face again, like during the show in Boston! Unfortunately, he didn’t come off the stage this time, and that experience was not repeated…my only real regret of the night! The next song they played was Broken. Even though I was hearing it for the second time that day, it was still just absolutely incredible. That song will always be so special to me for being the one that made me fall in love with Lifehouse and feel the need to go and buy their albums. Jason hit a note during that song that just sent chills up and down my spine, and I am very glad I caught it on video! I will honestly never get tired of seeing them play that song and it will never stop having such a strong emotional impact on me. After Broken, the guys left the stage and of course everyone cheered for them to come back and play the encore. They came back on and did Halfway Gone, which is one of my lesser favorites but was still awesome! Then they finished with Everything. Ahhhhhh! Anyone who knows me knows how long I have been waiting to FINALLY hear that song live, and oh boy, it was just breathtaking. My camera was flashing that it had no battery left, and I was so happy I was able to actually capture it on video. That song is just unbelievable, especially when seeing it live and getting to witness the passion Jason puts into singing it. I was in total awe of the whole performance and the entire night in general, and I still am.
One of my favorite pictures I got of Jason!
The boys finished their set to a lot of very loud cheering, and you can actually spot all four of us in the video they took of the crowd, which was pretty cool! I just stood there for a minute, soaking it all in, feeling that total sense of contentment that happens only at the very best of moments. I then saw Winnie on the stage and called out to him to ask if he would pass me the set list. I was very excited to get a copy of it again! After the show, the four of us decided to stick around and see if we could meet the boys again, with another awesome fan and her husband that we met during the show, named Sandie. The security came up to us after just a few minutes and told us that we had to start clearing out of the venue. We decided to walk a few steps in order to appease them, and then sat down on the sidewalk to wait some more for the boys! After only a few more minutes, more of the security guards came up to us and made us leave, which was rather unfortunate. Some drunken girls on the street were being kind of loud and annoying, and I think the cops were trying to tell them to leave. Sherri went up to the police and told them that if the girls were harassing them, she could take care of it, which cracked me up. Did I mention how shy she is?? We then walked back to the lot where Breann parked her car, and she drove me, Sherri, and Christy the 0.7 miles back to the hotel, which was a huge relief considering how tired we all were! She had a pretty long drive back to her sister’s place in Indiana, so she left after dropping us off. The three of us then went back upstairs to wait for Mel, who picked me up after the show. She arrived after about a half hour, and I went downstairs so she could take me back home after a long and very exciting day.
Me with the setlist!
          I left the hotel with my heart so full of love and happiness over the whole day, but also with a tremendous ache that still hasn’t gone away. Everything about the day was so incredibly perfect. It was very different from Boston, and overall the experience felt so much more special to me. It wasn’t just about going to see Lifehouse this time, but about experiencing every moment of it with three amazing friends and people who I love so very much. It’s insane how much love and happiness Lifehouse has brought into my life, and when I really think about it, the most important part for me is the life long friendships I have made because of them. They are really so much more than just my favorite band, and for people who are not a part of it, trying to explain how they have affected my life and that of so many others is just impossible. I think only Jason could find the right words to express such a thing! Their music has the rare ability to transcend absolutely everything; distance, age, beliefs, personal issues. It is just all about love and hope and as Christy would say, being HUMAN. I know how cheesy this all sounds, but I also know that any Lifehouse fan knows exactly what I am talking about. There is really no other feeling in the world quite like seeing a Lifehouse show with close friends, and I am already aching for the next opportunity I will have to do it all again!
Me with some of my favorite people! :)

Friday, March 9, 2012

Promote An Author

TGIF hosted by GReads!

This Friday's question:
Promote An Author: Is there a particular author you wish got more recognition? Pick one author & tell us why we should read their work.


Chris Crutcher

While I feel like many people have heard of his novels, most times that I have recommended Chris Crutcher to someone, they haven’t read any of them. As one of my favorite young adult authors, I think his books deserve way more hype than they get. I first read “Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes” in high school, and was immediately hooked on his writing style. His novels are so intense, and deal with real life issues that so many people face but have a hard time talking about. No wonder most of them appear on lists of banned books (another plus)! The characters all have this intelligent wit that reminds me of those in a John Green novel. The stories are all narrated by male characters, which is something I don’t think we see quite enough of in young adult literature. Whether you enjoy reading novels with love stories, sports, suspense, religion, or semi-dysfunctional families, there is something in a Chris Crutcher novel for absolutely everyone!

Chris Crutcher's website:
Check out his books on goodreads: Chris Crutcher


Thursday, March 8, 2012

How fast do you read?!

This is something I always kind of wondered, though I wasn't sure how to figure it out. Of course there would be a test for this on the internet. What CAN'T you find out from the internet these days?!

My results:
I read 562 words per minute, which is 125% faster than the average person.
At that rate, I could read:
War and Peace in 17:25
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in 2:17
Lord of the Rings in 14:11
Catch-22 in 5:10
Nineteen Eighty-Four in 2:38
The Fountainhead in 9:14
Grapes of Wrath in 5:02
Last of the Mohicans in 4:19
The Bible in 23:04

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Review: Ryan Star and Andy Grammer in Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

I was in Fort Lauderdale, Florida visiting my grandparents for spring break this year. About three days before, I found out that Andy Grammer and Ryan Star had a show while I was there! Obviously, there was nothing I could do but ask my 71 year old grandpa to come to the show with me. Since he’s literally the coolest and most awesome guy on Earth, he agreed to take me! To be honest, I wasn’t super familiar with either of the artists before the show. A lot of people have told me what an amazing performer Ryan Star is and I really liked what I knew by him. I also thought it was necessary to go since I hadn’t been to a concert in an entire month.
Right before the show, my grandma and sister dropped us off and then left to shop to kill some time. This ended up consisting of wandering the aisles of Target for about three hours while my grandpa and I had a fantastic time. The first band to play was called Action Item. I had never really heard of them before, but I enjoyed their set! The part I liked the best was when they played a cover of Goo Goo Dolls “Better Days”, which is a song I love by one of my favorite bands! After a couple of songs, I looked to the back of the venue where my grandpa was standing against the wall, and noticed a huge smile on his face while he bopped along to the music. I think he even may have enjoyed their set more than I did!

After a half hour or so, Ryan came on stage! He ended up playing an acoustic set of only thirty minutes, but oh, what a fantastic half hour it was. He has such great stage presence and it’s really obvious that he’s extremely passionate about what he does. I also love it when an artist is funny and cracks a lot of jokes during the show, which always makes their set even more enjoyable. During one of the songs, he had some young girls come up and play the tambourine, which was adorable! I loved how much he interacted with the crowd, and even though I found his set too short, it had me aching to see him play a longer show.

Right after his set, I went up to say hi to Ryan. He noticed my necklace right away and commented on it. He was like “What’s that? Ohhh Lifehouse, my boys!” so I obviously immediately loved him ten times more! I told Ryan how I was visiting from Montreal and dragged my 71 year old grandpa to the show with me. My grandpa then chimed in how he only came to the show for me but really enjoyed his set! Ryan thought that was pretty funny. He also kind of misunderstood me at first and thought I flew to Fort Lauderdale specifically for the show, which is really not something I would put past myself, even though it was not the case this time haha! We talked for a bit, and he signed my CD that I bought at the show and took a few pictures with me. My grandpa just kept snapping away and Ryan kept giving me (excellent) hugs! We even took a picture with my grandpa! I loved him so much that I went to buy one of his shirts and changed into it right then. A few minutes after that, I went back to him, and because I still think I’m 14, I said “Now that I went and bought one of your shirts, will you sign it for me?!” He told me it looked good on me and that I was amazing (both true) and signed my shirt with a heart. I told him he was amazing too and should come play a headlining show in Montreal so I could see him for longer! He gave me a few more hugs, and then I went back inside to watch Andy Grammer.

I had only heard the two singles Andy had on the radio before the show, but I was so impressed with his performance. He played a great mix of upbeat, poppy songs and some slower ballads. The whole set, he was full of energy and chatting with the crowd to get everyone involved. He told a lot of stories about his music career and how thankful he is to have gotten to the point where he is now. I was so impressed when he talked about how three years ago he would play on the streets in LA and no one knew who he was. He had a song about that called "Biggest Man in Los Angeles", which was great! Even though I went to the show more to see Ryan, I immediately became a fan after seeing Andy perform. I went and bought his CD right after his set!
After the show, I saw Ryan on the way out again. I told him “See you soon in Montreal!” and he came and shook my hand and thanked me for coming. He really was one of the sweetest guys I’ve ever met. He has that rare quality where, even surrounded by a ton of other people, he can make you feel extremely special and like you’re the only one he’s paying attention to. Not to mention, he’s a huge flirt!

By that time, my grandma and sister were waiting in the parking lot. My grandpa got into the car and told them how much he loved the show and how he was surprised by how talented the artists were. He went on about how he couldn’t believe they write all their own songs and play all the instruments. “I enjoyed this show even more than Rod Stewart!” he told them, at which point my sister thought he was being sarcastic. He insisted that he was not joking. The next morning at the pool, he even bragged to all the 80 year olds in the complex that he went to a concert the night before lol! Overall, it was such a great night, and I’ve also realized that my grandpa is a way more exciting concert buddy than any of my friends!

Another thing I’m so impressed with is Ryan’s album called Songs from the Eye of an Elephant. Since I wasn’t a huge fan of his before the show, I didn’t know about this album. It was recorded in 2005 when he just sat down at his piano and played all these songs without any fancy production. It’s so raw and real and emotional and perfect. The song “So Ordinary”, especially, is something that everyone should hear. He also has a new EP out called The America EP, which can be downloaded right here:
It is a FREE download, so there is absolutely no excuse not to get it if you haven’t already!

Ryan also has a new music video for his song "Stay Awhile" which can be viewed below!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Review: Matt Nathanson in Burlington, Vermont

Sunday, January 22, 2012

I found out that Matt Nathanson was headlining a show in Vermont while in the middle of a tutorial for one of my physiology classes last semester. I immediately texted Mike and bought tickets. Other students in my class were probably wondering what I could POSSIBLY be smiling about in such a setting, but I was not bothered by this! After that day, I had just over a month to anxiously await my first Matt show! On Sunday, Mike and I (or maybe it was just me) decided to leave Montreal a little before 1:00 for our two and a half hour drive down to Vermont for the show. We arrived just after 3:00, and went for a rather large, greasy lunch at Applebee’s.

Doors opened at 7:00, but by the time we got back to the venue, it was just after 4:00. To my delight, we were quite obviously first in line! To my defense, I did come prepared with blankets, headbands, and gloves for both of us! And while it was about -5˚C in Vermont, I felt justified sitting outside considering it was about 15˚C colder in Montreal. After a little less than an hour, the box office guy came out and told us we could wait inside if we wanted, which was very nice of him! While waiting inside, we got to hear Matt doing sound check! That was a pretty cool experience, and we got to hear him play “Kiss Quick”, “Queen Of (K)nots”, and “Fall To Pieces”.

By about 6:00, Mike and I went back outside because a few other people were starting to line up. We quickly made friends with them, which in my opinion, is one of the most exciting parts about going to a show for an artist that you really love! We all started talking about past Matt shows, and I told everyone it was our first time seeing him. A lot of people mentioned that they had seen Matt open for Lifehouse at that venue about four years earlier, and I died inside a little bit. They clearly misinterpreted my almost-death, and assured me that I shouldn’t worry, because even though they’re both great, Matt was better than Lifehouse. I disagreed, and proceeded to show them all my Lifehouse necklace and the picture of me and Jason that is obviously still my cell phone background! However, I quickly forgave them, because we all did agree on how awesome Matt is, after all!
About ten minutes before doors opened, a group of 50 people went inside to get their tickets, and ended up getting let into the venue early because they were all “Matt’s relatives”. This was pretty aggravating, and didn’t end up being true, but Mike and I still ended up in the front row amongst a group of children under 12 years old. The opening act was this girl named Audra Mae, who played acoustic guitar and had a guy playing stand-up bass with her. They had a bit of a country sound, which isn’t something I typically listen to, but I still enjoyed their set.

By about 8:30, Matt came on stage, and started his set with “Drop To Hold You”. Even though the tour was for his newest album, “Modern Love”, he played a perfect mix of new and older songs with a couple of covers thrown in. The setlist was almost exactly as pictured, but he skipped “Mercy”, and reversed the order of “Come On Get Higher” and “All We Are”. Every song translated so well live and brought something new, instead of sounding exactly the same as on his albums. Matt was very interactive with the crowd and got everyone singing along and clapping, especially during “Faster”. I’ve heard he’s usually pretty crude in between songs, but he noticed immediately how young the front row was, and decided to tone it down a bit. Despite this, he still had the entire audience hysterical with laughter at his astounding use of metaphor to describe the “carnal” things that many of his songs are about. Before playing his cover of “Laid”, he told us that the song was about chickens and how they make eggs. He then explained that this was the reason they called it “laid”. While I’m not sure that it was the most appropriate setting for the 7 year old boy next to me, I feel certain his parents will be bombarded with interesting questions for the next few days! I know at that age I probably would have been curious as to how aggressive “Scrabble playing" could break a bed, which is apparently the subject matter of his song “Come On Get Higher”.

Not only is Matt an exceptional song writer, performer, and well above average in the art of hip shaking, he puts on such an entertaining show that your face will hurt from laughing and smiling so much. If he comes to your town, or anywhere near it for that matter, don’t even think twice about going to see him. If you find yourself lucky enough to have the opportunity to go to one of his shows, get tickets right away before they inevitably sell out!

After his set, we grouped back up with the people we met in line and talked about how amazing Matt was! Mike and I even bought matching “I’m nobody’s girlfriend” shirts (a lyric from the song “Modern Love”), though I highly doubt he will ever wear his in public again. Overall, it was a fantastic night, and I can’t wait to see Matt again, hopefully in Montreal!

Here are a couple of videos I took at the show, in case anyone is interested in checking them out. “Bent” is a song off an older album that I hadn’t listened to very much, but fell in love with after hearing it live. Don’t you just love when that happens?

“Run” is Matt’s new single off of "Modern Love", which he sings with Jennifer Nettles from Sugarland. I apologize in advance for any truly awful singing you may hear in the background!