March In Review

The first official day of spring break, I saw my favorite band, Senses Fail, play in Mesa, Arizona. This was their 15th anniversary tour of being a band where they played their album Still Searching in full, plus b-sides and an additional set, including two songs from my favorite album of theirs I’ve never heard live before. The show was amazing, even though the venue was beyond sweaty (it was so steamy, you couldn’t see the stage properly).

My first few days of spring break were spent at home with my family and friends before heading to California for field work. My labmate Ashley picked me up early in the morning and before heading to the house our boss Rick rented in Riverside, we hit the beach for a relaxing afternoon. That night, the three of us ran errands and prepared for our first day of work together. For those who don’t know, Rick is doing his dissertation on hummingbird mating displays and how it relates to the iridescent coloration on their throat patches (look at this short video here taken by Rick to see what I mean). The following morning, we scouted out male territories (the males perch on the top of usually bare trees to look over their territories) around University of California Riverside campus. Once we found enough territories, we trapped a female (we called her Frida) to lure the males in to display to her. The next few days were spent trying to get the males to display: we take Frida around to the different territories we identified and place her in a cage with a video camera under her cage to capture the males’ movements. Most of this time was spent waiting for the males to notice her or do the proper display (our Allen’s hummingbirds have three different displays: dive, pendulum and our desired shuttle display). Once we got enough displays, we were meant to go back and capture the males from their territories to analyze their feathers, however, our trap was broken, so Rick let us go while he worked out the kinks over the next few days himself. It was a neat experience and Rick and Ashley are great company despite some frustrating bumps (as Rick mentioned, the hardest part of studying animal behavior is getting the animals to behave and do what you want).

While in California, I saw one of my favorite bands, Enter Shikari, play in Pomona at The Glass House for the first day on tour. My friend Tim picked me up from UC Riverside and we drove to the venue. Once we got there, we ate, had a few drinks and tried to contact the band members to meet us outside so I can give them a gift. Over the last few months, I have been putting together a book filled with submissions from fans about what the band means to them (with optional pictures) for this special tour (the tenth anniversary of their first album, Take To the Skies). Luckily the drummer Rob and the bassist Chris came out to meet us and were taken back by the book. While Tim spoke with Rob, I flipped through the book with Chris. He commented how it must have taken me a long time (which it did) and that “I have a lot of friends,” to which I commented, “Well, you have a lot of fans!” Tim and I let them go after a couple of minutes so they could rehearse with the promise that they would meet up with us again after the show. Their set was amazing, they played Take To the Skies in full and Chris dedicated a special b-side (The Feast) to “the lovely people [they] met outside and everyone who participated in the book.” I must have crowdsurfed nearly a dozen times (I have several awesome bruises to prove it) and people took notice; I had about five people come up to me after the show to comment on it. After the show, we waited outside to meet the rest of the band. First, the lead singer Rou came out, but he looked very tired (they flew in from England just a day before the show), so I didn’t keep him long. Then, Rob came out of the bus to thank me again for the book now that he got a proper flip through it. Then, the guitarist Rory came out and we got to talk to him for a little bit. While Tim and a few other fans were speaking to Rory, I saw Chris slip into a bar nearby. I joined him (the perks of being finally being twenty-one) and had a taste of what he called “the strongest gin and tonic he’s ever had,” it was pretty nasty. We talked for a bit until he realized it was past curfew (a few minutes past 1AM) to leave for their next destination and their bus was heading out. We said our final goodbyes, or “see you later” rather as both Tim and I will be seeing them again for other dates on the same tour.

The next Monday, I saw Enter Shikari again in Mesa, Arizona. They played at a familiar venue, The Nile, that got an upgrade since the last time I saw them there a few years ago: new carpet and a bar! Soon after the venue opened its doors, the lead singer Rou and the drummer Rob posted up by the merchandise booth to meet fans. They recognized me immediately and we had a good conversation about the rest of their time in California on tour. Their set was amazing again, however, a few minutes into it I hurt myself badly. I got pushed into someone hard and had a horrible pain in my shoulder for the rest of the night. The next day when I went to urgent care, my diagnosis was a sprained joint in my collar bone. Fortunately, it was mostly healed in a few days. Anyway, I hung out after the show again and chatted with them more before going on our way. Seeing them twice on this special tour was really amazing, here’s to ten more years of pushing the boundaries of music.

The last week in March, I saw Biffy Clyro play in downtown Phoenix (last concert this month, I promise). I knew the venue would be small, but I didn’t expect it to be as small as it was. I believe I have mentioned how big Enter Shikari are in the United Kingdom, where I saw them in a crowd of 10,000 people, and when they come to the United States, their lack of popularity here limits them to the smallest venues. Biffy Clyro are even more extreme than that: they are more popular in the United Kingdom, headlining the country’s biggest festivals and selling out arenas of tens of thousands. When they do manage to visit their fans across the pond, they play the smallest venues, making it well worth the wait of over six years to see them live for the first time at such an intimate show. They are truly remarkable live and I had an amazing time.

The next day, I went home to celebrate my brother Ryan’s 19th birthday with family by sharing a meal, cake and laughs.

The show at my work this month was Finding Neverland. Like Matilda, it wasn’t my favorite, but it was a pretty smooth run. On opening night, we also opened our new bathrooms (88 new women’s stalls) and two new elevators. However, my boss thought it was absolutely imperative that not one, but two people man each elevator, and she was also under the impression that it was most efficient to put the more seasoned workers (like myself) at these posts rather than training the new hires. She was out ill for a few days so we stuck to what she told us but when she came back, she was open to feedback and making changes. I hope not to be stuck at those posts again in the near future.

Club and field work commitment has been minimal this month. I suppose everyone it preparing for exams and graduation!

I have two exciting bits of news: I’ve accepted an offer to study at the University of Sussex under a Master’s of Research in Conservation Biology program. I really excited to return to Brighton and a familiar way of life this September.

What I’m listening to: Visions by Grimes, Pop’n’Gum by Superbus, Divide by Ed Sheeran

What I’m watching: Dude, Where’s My Car?, Narcos (season 1)


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