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!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Friday night activities

Being an extremely spontaneous and exciting person, I sometimes get the urge to do interesting things on a Friday evening. Behold, in all of its glorious nerdiness: The Book Tower, composed of books on my to-read list! Thank you to my friend Kelly, who has read all of six books in her lifetime, for helping me with this little adventure!

It looked so cozy and inviting that I couldn't help but spend the majority of my night inside of this Book Tower.

Even Bailey decided to hang out in there for a little while!

Unfortunately, I guess he either has no respect for architecture, or he just doesn't love books as much as I do. In his desperate attempt to escape, The Book Tower was toppled.

RIP Book Tower: January 20, 2012 - January 21, 2012

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Review: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 12, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumours in her lungs... for now.

Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too; post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means), Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumours tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault.

Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly to her, interested in Hazel. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and a long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind.

It feels appropriate that my first official book review should be on John Green’s new novel, “The Fault In Our Stars”, which I have been anxiously waiting to read for months. Considering John Green has been my favorite young adult author since I first read “Looking For Alaska” a few years ago, I had a feeling before even knowing what it was about that “The Fault In Our Stars” would become one of my favorite books. Despite the hype this novel received even before its publication, it did not disappoint in the least, and actually far exceeded the incredibly high expectations I had. While reading, I found myself switching off between tears, laughter, and running to grab post-it notes to bookmark almost every other page. I only wish I could go back in time to when I started this book, and be able to read it again for the very first time.

The beauty in any John Green novel is the way he takes a completely ordinary story and turns it into something magical. He infuses his characters with such wit and humor in the face of tragedy, and this makes them instantly loveable. At 16 years old, Hazel Lancaster seems to accept that her stage IV terminal cancer will inevitably result in an early death. She’s content to spend most of her time with her parents, watching meaningless television, and rereading her favorite book. Hazel avoids going out and making connections with others that she knows will most likely be short lived. And then, in the cancer support group her mom forces her to go to, she meets Augustus Waters. What follows is a relationship so beautiful, touching, and tragic that you find yourself inexorably drawn into their world and wishing beyond reason that they can last forever.

This book is the most beautiful of love stories. It is also about sickness, and learning how to live your life without knowing how much time you really have left. But this book is about so much more than life, death, or the struggles that we face in between. It’s about what it means to leave a mark in the world once you’re gone, not necessarily in a major way, but somewhere inside of another person. Most importantly, Hazel and Augustus teach you that despite the tragedy so present throughout life, it is always your own decision to choose to live the life you have riding on the “roller coaster that only goes up”.

Rating: 5/5 stars

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


I have passed all of my classes from last semester! And while it's slightly depressing that I have become a person who celebrates getting a C in a class, I thought it deserved a celebratory post on my already semi-neglected blog! Time for new beginnings, officially putting last semester behind me, and doing what I can to make this year better in every way possible!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

New goals for a new year!

So I’ve been toying with the idea of writing a blog for quite a while now, but I’ve never really felt I would be able to give it the time it deserves. After a really great and helpful discussion with a friend last night, I think it is time for me to attempt a start! I love music, especially the band Lifehouse, which anyone who has met me for more than five minutes is aware of. You actually don’t have to have met me to know this. :) I also love books, and I want this to be a place where I can share the music and books that I love with whoever decides that my goofy ramblings are interesting enough to read.
I am also a full time student at McGill University in Montreal, studying to get a bachelor of science in physiology. On most days if you asked me, I would say that I do not love this. Today marked the beginning of the second half of this journey I have somehow found myself on. While I am still (mostly impatiently) waiting for my grades from the disaster that was last semester, I’m hoping to keep a positive attitude about the next few months. I’ve tried setting some goals, or New Year’s resolutions if you will, that I’d like to stick to for this upcoming semester and year.

1. Stay positive. This is probably the most important, because I find that the more I let negative thoughts about school seep into my mind, the less motivated I feel, and the worse I end up doing. And so begins the vicious cycle! It also might help to keep me from allowing myself to slip into a school induced black cloud of despair!
2. Do something everyday that I enjoy, just for myself. Whether it’s just reading a few chapters in a good book or finding some new music, I want to have something positive to say about every day.
3. Figure out new ways to deal with stress and anxiety, without allowing them to run my life. Hopefully having this blog as an outlet will help with that!
4. Go to sleep by midnight at the very latest on school nights. Since I am oh so lucky enough to live over an hour away from campus, I have to wake up at 6:30 for my morning classes, and I am certainly not a morning person! On my first day, I made it halfway through my third class before I fell asleep, which I view as a strong accomplishment. However, I’d like to avoid having to take naps on the couches on the fourth floor of my building during breaks, and instead be able to do something productive! This will not happen if I allow my insomniac ways to prevail over common sense.
5. Start to eat healthier and get in shape. Also, limit myself to one Dr. Pepper each day. I’m not saying I necessarily feel I need to lose a ton of weight, but I always feel less tired and better about myself in general when I’m active and not eating too much junk food. I’ve unfortunately already not been doing too well with this one, if you consider the cheeseburger I had for dinner and the two empty cans of Dr. Pepper currently sitting on my desk.
6. Stop procrastinating! Prioritizing and getting long term assignments and studying done in advance will definitely help to eliminate a lot of stress during midterms and finals.
7. Try to see Lifehouse live at least three times this year. Yes, I am fully aware of the ridiculousness of this goal, but it does tie in very well to number 2. :)
8. Make sure to keep updating this blog, at least twice a week!
9. Laugh. Everyday.

I hope to look back at the end of the semester and realize that I’ve stuck to most of these goals, at the very least through the end of January. Here’s hoping that 2012 is the best year yet. :)